Amina Inloes

Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the Islamic College in London and also the Managing Editor of the Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies.

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 3 days ago

The images that go through one's imagination are not usually in the domain of halal or haram because they are not entirely under the control of the human being - sometimes the imagination makes up its own images spontaneously, sometimes we try to imagine something, and something an external source can put something in the imagination. Halal and haram are usually confined to physical actions.

It is natural to have some impression of what Allah might be, whether that be a mental image, a feeling, or an impression via the inner senses.

The Qur'an also gives us metaphors for how to understand Allah, such as in the phrases "the hand of Allah is above their hands" or "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth",  which might trigger visual imagery, although we understand that Allah does not really have a hand and is not a light bulb, and these are just ideas to help us understand better.

The important thing is to remember that the senses cannot confine Allah and Allah cannot be seen:

* "No vision can grasp Allah, but Allah's grasp is over all visions" (Qur'an 6:103)
* "He [Allah] is too exalted for sight to be able to perceive Him, for imagination to be able to fathom Him, and for the intellect to be able to grasp Him." (related from Imam Rida (A))

So any ideas or images we have about the nature of Allah are just personal impressions, which may change over time, and are not encompassing the Reality.

Beyond that, we are advised to ponder on the attributes of Allah but not to try to imagine the essence of Allah.

Some people might also perceive higher spiritual realities and take them as an image of Allah. However, insofar as narrations remind us that Allah is veiled by veils of light, and that Allah cannot be encompassed by the senses, it is also important to acknowledge that these are just created things and are not actually Allah. 

I am reminded of an exercise which some young people were doing in school in the UK where they were asked to draw God and some of the Muslim students drew Allah as a giant cloud. Most people who believe in a force of divinity have some mental model of it.
 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 3 days ago

The above answer is very accurate.

However, I would like to add that the idea of separation between religion and politics is quite new and really only emerged with the notion of separation of church and the modern nation-state.

During the time of the Prophet (S), especially after the formation of the Muslim community in Medina, the Prophet handled matters that today would be considered both "religious" (like acts of worship) and "political" (like laws and the military).

This continued to be the situation during the early caliphates and early Arab-Muslim empires as well as the times of the Shi'i Imams; for instance, Imam 'Ali  (A) being formally appointed as the caliph and the treaty of Imam Hasan (A). That is to say, their role as religious leaders also involved political matters. Conversely, political leaders such as those who took on the caliphate also saw themselves as leaders of Islam. 

One can say a similar thing for many other pre-modern empires as well, which were not led by Muslims. 

So for that reason it is not really correct to divide the Battle of Karbala into "religious" or "political" since it involved both. There were clearly matters that today would be considered "political" such as succession (that is, it was not a battle over theology) while at the same time, as the previous response emphasized, it was not a ploy for power or this sort of thing. From the accounts of the Battle of Karbala, it is clear that matters both religious and political were discussed between both sides prior to the outbreak of fighting.

Rather one can say it was a religious objection to the use and assignment of political power, and a political response to it (military attack). 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 3 weeks ago

A short answer is, bid'ah is most strongly rejected when it comes to formal acts of worship. Performing mustahabb prayers differently from how the Prophet (S) taught it is a difference in formal acts of worship and is therefore inappropriate. 

Although celebrating the Prophet's birthday can be considered devotional, it is not a shariah-prescribed act of worship like performing types of salat; it is more of a customary thing. 

I am sure others will give a long answer! :)

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 3 weeks ago

This comes from hadith. Here is an explanation: https://alkafeel.net/news/index?id=6874&lang=en

However, all the nights are valuable and important!
 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 3 weeks ago

The question of what luck is, and whether or not it exists, is a challenging metaphysical question. 

Scholars who take a strict reading of Islamic theology will generally reject the idea of "luck", if one defines "luck" as something amoral (that is, acting outside a moral compass) which exists independent of the divine involvement in the universe. This is especially if it seems to go against a sense of divine justice. "Luck" is sometimes seen as belonging to pre-Islamic and/or non-Abrahamic belief systems. 

That is to say, things that are seen as "lucky" tend to be seen as Allah's will or something occurring on the level of metaphysical cause and effect (for instance, I help an orphan today, and am saved from a car crash tomorrow). This is apart from hard work and smart work; for instance, some people are "lucky" in their exams simply because they study smart.

Instead, they will focus on concepts like baraka (things, people, places, etc, being blessed by Allah), divine destiny, divine mercy, divine punishment, and so forth. So, for instance, one might increase "luck" by doing good deeds or giving charity. (That is, it is not mere luck but rather cause and effect.) 

Certain things which might be considered "luck" in some cultures are also ascribed to divine decree; for instance, Allah decrees sustenance for a human being. So, receiving sustenance is ultimately through the decree of Allah and the acts of angels in obedience to Allah in delivering it, even if we also have to put forth efforts. Or, someone may receive a scholarship to Harvard and be considered "lucky", but someone else may not receive that scholarship because it is not their destiny and they are meant to do something else in life, so it is not really about "luck". 

On the other hand, it is not impossible to find Muslims who do hold that luck exists as a metaphysical thing, and that some people seem to have more of it. After all, Muslims have held a great many views over the past 1000+ years. 

In any case, most people are not ruminating over these philosophical questions when wishing someone good luck on something, and it's fine to say.  

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 3 weeks ago

Some scholars have rejected the idea of the theory of evolution as being against the Qur'anic teaching of the creation of the human being, whereas others have accepted it as being compatible with the Qur'an and as being Allah's plan for the human being and how to engage in creation.

It seems that there is some generational factor here - the older generation tended to reject it more, perhaps because they saw the theory of evolution as being associated with colonialism or secularization, and as an attack on traditional Muslim values. This is less of a factor in today's globalized world. 

At the same time, the theory of evolution is only a theory and cannot necessarily be said to be true either. It is simply considered an acceptble possibility, pending further evidence, by some scholars. 

The idea that life originated from water is supported by the Qur'an. 

One could somewhat nebulously suggest that the idea of "nasnas", or prior types of humanoids, which appears in hadith, could also support the idea of evolution, although in my view this may be a stretch in interpreting the hadith. 

There is a paper on Shi'i scholars' responses to evolution in the conference proceedings for this conference, if you are interested in reading it. https://www.islamic-college.ac.uk/publications/shiistudies/sixth-shii-co...

 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 3 weeks ago

Inshallah you will find someone. As they say, there is somebody for everybody.

Attraction is somewhat different from conventional standards of beauty or handsomeness; sometimes two people like each other even if they don't fit society's definition of what is attractive. And, of course, different people have different ideas of what they find attractive in a mate. So, I am sure you have some features or qualities which are appealing!

And, of course, not everyone is looking primarily at physical appearance; some people value inner qualities such as compassion, helpfulness, reliability, and other things; or they admire other skills such as artistic skill, intellect, sports skill, charitable work, good conversation, or whatever. This is, of course, apart from religiosity.

If you really feel you are not physically appealing, then maybe it is good to focus on demonstrating the other personal qualities you have to offer, and this could make you look good in the other person's eyes. Most people would much prefer to be with someone who genuinely demonstrates they will look after them and be there for them or other demonstrations of good character (such as helping others) rather than someone who just looks good. 

If you are male, you could consider that a lot of women don't look primarily at physical appearance especially if they are looking to settle down and have a stable life. If you need to convince the family, certainly most women's families couldn't care less what the man looks like. At the end of the day, physical appearance waxes and wanes, but a person's character remains. 

As for career, do your best (and these are difficult times). But also remember that, these days, depending on where you live, there isn't always a social expectation that the man will be the sole provider (even if he is obliged to be by shariah). Also, as women get older, if they are single, they are more likely to have a career and income. So, this might become less important if you look to marry someone in a slightly older age bracket. Inshallah Allah will enrich you upon marriage, as the Qur'an says. 

In my observation, the main factors for people getting married and staying married are not handsomeness/beauty and wealth, but, rather, having a good set of family values and a strong sense of commitment, as well as maintaining strong social ties with others. (This is somewhat counter to what people think.)

Put differently, most people who genuinely want to get married, do get married.

Often, when people don't get married, there is sometimes some underlying reason; for instance, they aren't really wanting commitment, they are unable to make up their mind, or there is something else pushing a potential spouse away (apart from financial reasons). So if you know someone who has good insight into human beings, you could ask the if there is anything that you might change in how you are looking for a spouse or how you are interacting with potential spouses or their families.  

Of course, there could be nothing for them to say and it could simply be a matter of circumstances or simply not being the right time for you.

Anyway, inshallah, will do duas for your finding a good spouse. Continue to ask Allah especially on laylat al qadr and Allah is shy to reject duas! 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 month ago

When there is a possibility and a certainty, it is better to plan for the certainty.

The certainty is that hell exists. The possibility is that people might leave it.

Better to be careful! :)

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 month ago

No - some people remember their dreams better than others or are more open to these things. Also you can't be sure that other people's dreams are actual communication, although sometimes you get an idea one way or the other.

Inshallah she would not have reasons to be angry to you after she has passed on - many things we are angry about in life become unimportant once we are not dealing with the material and social realities of this world. Allah also says in the Qur'an that He will remove bad feelings from people's hearts in jannah.

However if you are concerned that she is angry at you, you could pray that she forgives you.

Sorry to hear about your loss. 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 2 months ago

I think it is good to be honest about apostasy in Islamic law and thought. There are roughly three views that are espoused about this:

(a) The ruling that an apostate should be killed (except in certain cases) is correct and in line with the Prophet's teachings.
(b) In the past, in and around the Islamic regions, religious identity was like today's national identity. So, in times of war, apostasy was equal to defecting to the enemy's side and was equivalent to treason. This is why there was a strict penalty for apostasy, just like, in today's world, a person who commits treason to their nation-state is often considered worthy of death. However, today, identity is primarily based on nationality not religion, so this no longer applies to the world.
(c) The ruling that an apostate should be killed is incorrect and based on inauthentic material, and this idea goes against the Qur'an which says there should be no compulsion in religion.

One can also add factor (d): That, due to the challenges the Muslim-majority world has faced due to the legacy of colonialism and a sense of being under threat (politically, economically, culturally, etc), there is an increased sensitivity against people who might be seen as threatening the faith. 

So, those are some of the possibilities, and I think it's worthwhile just to discuss them as they are.

In practice, apostasy law tends not to be practiced. Also, most Muslims tend to be uncomfortable with the idea of punishing apostates. Of course, this is not to diminish anyone's experience who has dealt with this. 

Some opponents to Islam argue that it is only due to this law that Muslims remain great in number, but that is obviously not true since the vast majority of Muslims do not base their faith or religious practice on this law. Rather, they choose to practice voluntarily. It is very difficult to force someone to be genuinely dedicated to a religion.

Furthermore, if it were only due to fear that Muslims were remaining Muslim, then why would Islam have inspired such a vast outpouring of religious culture such as Islamic literature, mystical poetry, theological writings, Islamic art and architecture, and so forth? Physical manifestations of a person's faith suggest that their faith is genuine. 

It is also quite rare to find a Muslim who wants to leave Islam but who says they are staying in Islam because of this precept of Islamic law. Possibly there are some, but it is certainly not the norm.

While conversion away from Islam is not extremely frequent, the vast majority of people who are believing Muslims tend to stay Muslims for their own reasons, not out of fear of this ruling in Islamic law.

Perhaps these non-Muslims can simply talk to Muslims, ask them about their faith and why they hold it, and this will give them more insight into what actually happens among Muslims.

Might I suggest as tactfully as possible that Islam does not have a history of an Inquisition or forced conversion (for instance, during the slave trade in the Americas), or Crusades, the same way that Christianity does. Historically, Muslims have tended to acknowledge and respect religious diversity reasonably well.

I don't wish to reduce this to a debate about whether Islam or Christianity is better or paint Christianity only with that brush. I am just saying that it is important to recognize that Islam and Christianity have different histories and sometimes there may be an erroneous tendency to project what happened in the history of one religion onto the other. Also, if some of these non-Muslims are coming from a Christian background, they might benefit from being more self-reflective about their own history rather than pointing fingers at Islam. 

In fact, it can be argued that negativity against organized religion in some of the West is due to forms of suppression due to the Church in the past few centuries. Some people who have had a bad experience with the Church then also project that negativity onto other religions, assuming that all organized religions are exactly the same, but this is a myopic viewpoint. So, if this is a factor in the discussion, I would again suggest that they actually talk to real, living Muslims (not sensationalist websites or ex-Muslims seeking attention in the media) to get a sense of what actually tends to happen in the Muslim religious experience.

However, I have noticed a curious phenomenon about apostasy and Islam: one never seems to wholly leave Islam. That is, anyone who leaves Islam and formally converts to another religion perpetually seems to identify themself, and be identified as, an "ex-Muslim". In contrast, a Buddhist who becomes a Christian is usually referred to as a "Christian", not an "ex-Buddhist". I suppose this says something about the world we live in, or perhaps Islam just has a strong staying power when it comes to identity. 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 2 months ago

My view is that this is a difficult debate to win. Usually, for Shi'i-Sunni issues, there is an attempt to "prove" that certain practices are or are not acceptable according to certain standards (such as certain texts). (The same is true if one is discussing between Shi'is and people who are not Muslims, or between Shi'is.) However, most people have their own preconceived ideas about what is acceptable.

Rather than taking this approach, in my view, it is better to promote a spirit of diversity and tolerance - an acceptance that different Muslims have different practices and ways that they live their faith, and this is one of them. That is, encouraging mutual respect for differences rather than trying to argue it theoretically. In general, I feel that these arguments come up due to a lack of tolerance in some streams of contemporary Muslim thought, and that lack of tolerance of diversity is our real problem, which manifests in different ways.

Other people think differently and consider it to be very important to argue these things textually and may provide a set of hadith to "prove" that matam is acceptable. You can find those arguments online easily if you search. In my view, they don't do the job wholly, because they are about spontaneous events that happened rather than an institutionalized, regular ritual practice, but nonetheless they can be useful in defusing tension if an appeal to tolerance and respect doesn't work. 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 2 months ago

A woman is not required to marry a man just because he wants to marry her. She is also not required to give a reason for refusing. Marriage is optional. 

The opposite is also true - that is, a man is not required to marry a woman just because she wants to marry him, and he is also not required to give a reason for refusing. 

The idea a woman must give her life over to a man simply because he asks - unless she had a reasonable excuse - would indeed be an astonishing form of male privilege.