Whether you're a “born Muslim” or convert/revert, one is often taught things or comes across things that are passed off as “Sunnah” or part of Islam. Yet, these beliefs and practices often have no basis within the Qur'an and Sunnah.
At the Madrasah, we compiled a list of misconceptions commonly found amongst Muslims – those things which are based on culture rather than solid Islamic sources.
- Females must wear hijab while reading Qur'an.
- Males must cover their heads while reading Qur'an and praying.
These two seem to be very much a part of Desi culture, although I don't know if it's something known to other cultures.
IslamQ&A mentions that there is no evidence requiring women to cover their heads to read or recite Qur'an; and also explains that though it is considered preferable for men to cover their heads in ṣalāh (due to a saying of Ibn 'Umar, radhiAllahu anhu wa ardhaa), it is not obligatory. Also mentioned in the fatwah is that it's okay for men to pray with bare arms (i.e. short sleeves).
- Jinn will possess you if you walk under trees.
Just another one of those things that people say due to (excessive?) fear of the Jinn. Relax, people: Remember to recite Aayat al-Kursi and the Mu'aawadhatain, as well as the many other adhkaar and ad'iyah that can be found in books like Hisnul-Muslim, and you will inshā'Allāh be protected from whatever it is that wishes to harm you.
- ''Īd al-Fitr is a three day celebration.
I think that this is something which most Muslims – including myself – has believed to be true. However, it is ''Īd al-Aḍḥa which is followed by the three days of Tashreeq; and ''Īd al-Fitr is only one day. There is nothing in the Sunnah which indicates ''Īd al-Fitr to be three days long. One evidence for this is that while it's forbidden to fast the days of Tashreeq, it is not forbidden to fast the second or third days of Shawwal (which are the two days after ''Īd al-Fitr).
- Hanging up Aayat al-Kursi in your house/ wearing it around your neck will protect you from the Evil Eye.
This is a grave error that many Muslims subscribe to out of ignorance. While it is true that Aayat al-Kursi is one of the greatest things we can recite for our protection, the key word is that we're supposed to recite it. Hanging it up, or wearing it as an amulet, does absolutely no good – indeed, it does a great deal of harm, because it goes against the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), who strongly warned against the use of charms and amulets.
The misconception here is that rather than reciting the Words of Allāh and trusting in Him to protect us, we are instead depending upon the written word and ascribing powers of protection to it. The whole point of using the Qur'an as protection is to remember Allāh and place full trust and faith in HIM to shield us from whatever evils we fear… not to depend upon the words as something which holds power separate from Allāh. In fact, such a belief can be considered to constitute shirk.
- What is the ruling on hanging up aayaat for protection?
- Writing aayaat and tying them to one's body.
- Ruling on amulets.
- Bleeding nullifies the fast.
- Accidentally eating nullifies the fast.
- Vomiting nullifies the fast.
- Swearing nullifies the fast.
These four came up in conversation during Ramadhaan, and it's surprising how many people think that these are considered to break the fast.
- On blood that breaks the fast (other than menstrual blood).
- As most of us know, accidentally eating doesn't break your fast – as long as you stop eating as soon as you remember that you're fasting.
- Vomiting intentionally breaks the fast. Vomiting involuntarily – because of the flu, or getting punched in the gut, or whatever – does not. Explanation here.
- Although swearing at any time is extremely disliked and not befitting of a Muslim anyway, it doesn't break the fast. It does, however, take away from the reward of fasting.
- One should make du‘ā’ immediately after the fardh ṣalāh.
Another (mostly?) Desi practice – as soon as they make the tasleem, they often put their hands together to make du‘ā’. This is actually not the Sunnah. Instead, the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to first recite adhkaar and tasbeeh: for example, “Allahumma antas-Salaam…,” “Allahumma laa maani'a li_maa a'tayt…,” and reciting Aayat al-Kursi and the Mu'awadhatain. To make du‘ā’ afterwards is fine, but the greatest amount of ajr is in following the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam).
- Wiping behind the neck in wudhu.
Wiping the neck is not a part of the wudhu, at least not how the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to do it. Detailed explanation here.
- Girls must wear hijaab while eating.
This one came from my grandma. Apparently the belief is that Shaytaan sits on your head and eats with you if you don't wear hijaab while eating. Suffice to say, nowhere is this to be found in the Qur'an and Sunnah.
- Women should grow their hair long so that their 'awrah will be covered when they're buried/ on the Day of Judgement.
Aside from the fact that it's Sunnah to braid women's hair when they're dead, and their bodies are wrapped in a shroud anyway (so their 'awrah is covered already), there is no evidence for saying that long hair will be a woman's covering on the Day of Judgement.
Having dealt with all these, what misconceptions have you come across?