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How Physically Intimate Can a Couple be Post-Nikkah but Pre-Marriage / Rukhsati?

Sh. Yaser Birjas



What is permissible Post-Nikkah Pre-Consummation (Rukhsati/Marriage)


I just had my nikkah done with my husband and we are having our rukhsati done soon (in the next few months). The reason for [the] delay is just mainly to prepare for the wedding and  [to] accommodate family members’ schedule [for] the wedding. After the nikkah is it permissible to do all the acts that are permissible between a husband and wife even if the rukhsati hasn’t been done?

Getting married in my 20s
[This question has a second part, which will be answered at a later date, inshaAllah]


From a technical Fiqhi perspective, when a man and woman have their nikah, kitab or marriage contract (different terms for the same practice) done Islamically they are considered a husband and wife. It is permissible to delay the consummation of marriage (rukhsati or wedding) for a later and more convenient date with no specific time limit as long as they both mutually agree on it until the circumstances are right for them.

Allah Al-Mighty says:

“O You who have believed, when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, then there is not for you any waiting period to count concerning them. So provide for them and give them a gracious release.” [al-Ahzab 33:49]

In his tafsir, Imam at-Tabari rahimahullah said in regards to this ayah: “before you have touched them” means before having intercourse with them. He then added that it was the interpretation of the scholars of tafsir.

During this period between the nikah and the rukhsati, it is permissible for the couple to interact with each other in a manner that is permissible for a husband and wife including the actual consummation of marriage. However, if they do choose to be intimate with each other then the full rights of the wife become due upon the husband such as the full dowry and her right for housing and sustenance. What constitutes consummation of marriage is an issue of minor dispute among scholars. They all agree that having intercourse is a perfect definition but then some scholars say a perfect privacy is enough and others say being physically intimate in a manner less than actual intercourse is the minimum.

Some of the Fiqh rulings of non-devotional practices such as marriage are subject to cultural considerations. Hence, what is acceptable during that period between the nikah and the rukhsati is subject to the general culture, the culture of both families and the actual agreement between the two contracting parties. Therefore, if the general culture entails the absolute abstinence during that period then this should be maintained and respected.

Uqbah ibn Amer narrated the Messenger of Allah, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), said:
“The conditions which you have the most duty to fulfill are those by which you have made marital relations lawful.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

In addition to that the maxims of Fiqh -qawai’d Fiqhiyah proclaim:

“What is determined by custom is tantamount to a contractual stipulation” (Al-ma‘rufu ‘urfan kal-mashrutu shartan).

As a result of this, the young couple should respect the unpronounced stipulations that are in accordance with the cultural norms provided that these cultural norms don’t violate any established principle of Fiqh.

Parents and the families of the two contracting parties expect the young couple to be at the level of maturity to adhere to these cultural norms. To bring the fitnah in the streets as an excuse to break these rules is not really a legitimate excuse and it could backfire. It’s better to show a high standard of character even during those beautiful moments before officially moving in together.

Nevertheless, if the husband and wife do get intimate in the relationship prior to the official consummation of marriage they have not committed haram or sin, but it might cause some bitterness within the family because they might perceive it as disrespectful behavior.

One issue might arise; as a result of being too intimate prior to the wedding day is the power struggle between the father of the girl and her young husband. If the young lady still lives with her family while already living intimately the life of wife with her husband, she might have to deal with a confusion of authority situation. Her husband’s demands and her family’s demands might clash and she will be caught in the middle.

Unfortunately, the sense of chivalry among the youth today is not as great as it used to be. The sense of responsibility and commitment from them is not at the level where it should be. Therefore, it is definitely preferable to wait until the actual wedding date before the young couple can fully consummate the marriage.

May Allah give you all happiness, love and mercy. And Allah knows best.

Sh. Yaser Birjas is originally from Palestine. He received his Bachelors degree from Islamic University of Madinah in 1996 in Fiqh & Usool, graduating as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to work as a youth counselor and relief program aide in war-torn Bosnia. Thereafter, he immigrated to the U.S. and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He is also an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, where he teaches popular seminars such as Fiqh of Love, The Code Evolved, and Heavenly Hues.



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    February 6, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    What is it that prevents people from delaying the nikah until the wedding date? Why do they do it a few months earlier?

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      February 9, 2014 at 10:04 PM

      The main reason I’ve heard from younger Muslims why this is taking place is because
      after a Nikah it allows the couple to spend time together talking, getting to know each other, etc…and if they then find out they’re incompatible, they can break it off and there is less stigma
      attached to divorce because there was no consummation…and the sister below who warned Muslim girls not to give into pressure from men during this period is 100% correct. He will get away scott-free even if he breaks off the marriage for “incompatibility” later. It’s the woman who will get stuck with the typical double-standard label and the consummation will defeat the very purpose of this “solution” before arousi.

      This would not need to exist if Muslims got over their divorce stigmas to begin with, which
      disproportionately affect women. Knowing divorce has a stigma, many women have immense
      pressure that they have only one shot at getting it right…whereas men don’t have to worry ’bout
      it in most of the cultures. I think rather than complaining about this “solution”, Muslims should spend more time reforming the crooked cultural practices like stigma of the divorced so “solutions” like this
      wouldn’t be needed.

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        February 9, 2014 at 11:38 PM

        The only divorce stigma I really have is my parents wouldn’t like it. Since they have so many rights over me, and since my mother has struggled constantly and showed patience constantly, obviously I’m supposed to show her constant gratitude. I really have to excel with my parents, and part of that is following their marriage wishes.

        So perhaps the issue you are talking about has a lot to do with parents.

        If my parents were ok, I would have no problem with marrying a widow or divorced woman. But they aren’t, so I simply can’t look there.

        This nikah before the rukhsati thing seems to be something which is an incredible hassle. I agree, if this divorce stigma is what spawns such inconvenient practices, we ought to get rid of the stigma.

        • Avatar


          February 10, 2014 at 3:44 PM

          I was not referring to you personally.
          I was simply answering the question you asked generally as to why
          many people are carrying out nikah before walimah/arousi/rukhsati.
          It is because they feel they can get to know someone in a halaal manner and if it doesn’t work out, a divorce w/o consummation has less stigma then a divorce after consummation, wherein incompatibility is discovered much later.

          It is especially attractive to many women because a lot of women do NOT divorce more so because of stigma rather than because they want to stay in a marriage. Many, many horror stories brother of women who after consummated marriage discover their husband is a totally different person…an alcoholic, fasiq, atheist even. I even know one couple…the girl came over from India to marry a guy, and guy turns out to have a girlfriend on the side, whom he still sees and carries on with.They pretty much hoodwinked her….not that this cannot happen to men, but again stigma is stronger on women, so many feel they have one shot to get it right.

          In any case I was talking generally.
          Do not feel it was directed towards you.

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    February 6, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    JazakAllah Kheiran Shaykh. Really appreciate it.

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    February 6, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    What a strange tradition. I hope to have my nikah around when the wedding is.

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      Umm ZAKAriyya

      February 8, 2014 at 2:15 AM

      Yeah . It’s hard for the newly married.

      But not everybody in the indian subcontinent does this ( rukhsati). Many of us have walima immediately after nikah . So the marriage is over in like 2-3 hours .

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        Umm ZAKAriyya

        February 8, 2014 at 2:22 AM

        Some of the reasons why people do this :

        2)Family tradition
        3)some families like to have a nikah party(elaborate one)arranged by the girls fathers and walima by the groom. Having more parties is a status symbol.

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        February 9, 2014 at 11:40 PM

        I’m Bangladesh and Indian myself, and I have absolutely no plans to do this. Nikah and rukhsati ought to be at around the same time.

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      July 7, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      Just because you’re unfamiliar with this concept does not take away the religious validity of a nikkah without the accompanying rukhsati. Also your unfamiliarity with it does not invalidate what may be a completely acceptable tradition in many other cultures. You need to be respectful and cognizant of the fact that there are a vast number of cultures across the planet that practice Islam, and as long as parties are not violating religious rulings, you have no right to pass a judgment on what order things ought to happen in. If one way works for you, that’s fine and dandy, but that doesn’t automatically mean that every Muslim on the planet ought to follow the cultural norms you adhere to.

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    February 7, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    I’m 17 years old and I will be (Insha-allah) having my Nikah this December. So when our Nikah is done, you’re saying I shouldn’t become intimate with my husband?? I’ve known him for a long time and our “rukhsuti” won’t be done until the next couple years because we’re both so young.. I just got really confused reading this article.

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      Umm ZAKAriyya

      February 8, 2014 at 2:07 AM

      It’s very clear . Once the nikah is done , you are legally husband and wife and therefore can do everything what husband and wife do.

      But if in your culture/family , if certain acts between spouses are not appreciated, before walima/rukhsati/public announcement of the marriage ,then it’s good to respect that to please your elders . But even if you do get intimate with the spouse ( say , due to difficultly in controlling oneself .which is obviously normal) , it’s not a sin .

      One problem is that if some people do not know that you are legally married , then false rumor starts to spread if the spouses were seen to show affection towardseachother. This actually happened to a friend of mine in college . Her parents had done her nikah contract with her husband ,who happened to be her classmate. So when they were seen together , people started talking! Cuz they didn’t know she was married to him.

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    Umm Saeed

    February 8, 2014 at 1:59 AM

    I was a new muslim when I wrote my marriage contract. I was totally ignorant about Muslim marriages and was told by the man (my husband now) that writing the contract would allow us to get to know each other in a halal manner. When I wrote my contract I did so with the understanding that the contract was equivalent to an engagement and the marriage would be later after a party was held and the marriage publicized.

    I was quite shocked after writing the contract when the Imam who also acted as my wali told us “everything is now halal”. As soon as my husband was alone with me he also insisted the same. I did not want this but he used all kinds of fatawa and stories from lectures to insist it was his right and I had to comply. At the same time he did not want to make the marriage public yet and gave me so many excuses why. I never knew my rights and feel that I was tricked into getting married and manipulated by my husband. I am telling my story as a warning to other sisters. Educate yourself and make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into, especially if you are a new Muslim and come from a different culture and background than your potential spouse.

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      February 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      His many excuses for not wanting his marriage public knowledge are disgraceful. Nikah is a contract of public knowledge, thus the requirement for witnesses (public knowledge is not upheld by a party, but witnesses to the contract in general). The fact that you did not know your were married is a violation of the standards of nobility and honesty in Islamic contract law even if valid under national laws. Public knowledge is matter of protecting honor.

      Even apostasy laws allow for the cause of ignorance as a way out.

      I am rather harsh on men who use guile and deception against women, yet inform the other of the male rights.

      I would have been rather harshly sarcastic, telling him that he should offer you a manumission at best, and free you if you give birth at least, for he obviously sees you as concubine and not a spouse, and no muslim, new or not can be made a slave, nor one who is captured illegally.

      Islam came as a mercy to all mankind, including women, and a warning to zulm (oppression) and those who practice it.

      My exhortation aside, I hope that you and he, for the betterment of both, have come to an agreement of truthful conduct and marital happiness.

      Divorce is the most hated lawful thing.

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        February 9, 2014 at 11:41 PM

        I agree with Timothy. This crisis of mediocre/horrific husbands seems to be….everywhere. We need to make an effort to remove it.

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    February 8, 2014 at 2:44 AM

    Good article. Rukhsati is absolutely culture, just like the Arab Walima…Basically a party to celebrate the marriage sometimes, not always after the couple has had intercourse. Think of this as a receptions, usually with nice clothes, dancing (sometimes separated by gender or not at all) and food. The Wedding Ceremony, religiously, is the nikkah just like the traditional christian church wedding, that is on part and the party is another. For some reason cultures with Islamic populations tend to split this two event up over month months or years. Legally you are married when you file the papers for the wedding, so for taxes, ownership laws, and hospital visitations in the USA nothing matters until those documents are filed. What is done intimately after only the religious part is between husband, wife, and God. BTW, I’m engaged and I plan to have the wedding (religious and legal) and the reception the same day or weekend this fall. Please keep my fiance and I in your duaas, and inshallah everything will work out well!

    • Avatar

      Omer Farooq

      October 26, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      “Rukhsati is absolutely culture, just like the Arab Walima…”

      I humbly want to point out that you are wrong. Please don’t state your personal opinion as a fact in deen. Please approach an Islamic scholar of your choice for an explanation with example of both “rukhsati” and “walima” from Prophets (phuh) personal life.

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    Hamza Khurshid

    February 22, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    You have provided the answer in a very detailed and simplistic manner… thank You

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    June 6, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Ina lilAllahi wa ina Ileyhi Raaji’uun.

    I sense this sister’s troubles may have more to do with other people’s expectations of the kind of wedding party they would like to see and attend, and whether it messes well with their calendar-year vacation and/or pre-planned weekend activities.

    I guess this is what happens when you try to infuse cultural expectations & insist on carrying the baggage of the fore-fathers, instead of opting for the simplicity & ease afforded by Islam and the Sunnah.

    It would have been really amazing if her relatives & extended family contributed and fully funded a whole year’s worth of rent, utility bills, furniture, and grocery expenses, instead of know-towing to the bride-zillas/groom-zlllas of the clan. Can you imagine the honeymoon, the happiness, and the mood these two would been in, if their kith & kin gave them financial freedom for a year (or two)? Allah knows best.

    May Allah give you ease sister, shower His mercy on you and your relatives and admit us all to Jannatul-Fidaus al-‘Alaa.

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    Tolga Ak. (@tolgz15)

    October 22, 2014 at 12:35 AM

    Jazakallah khayr for the insight, although there is more complex situations. This short article touches on the basics. May Allah bless us with a beautiful spouse insha’Allah!

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    November 30, 2014 at 1:35 AM

    If husband don’t fulfill his wife desires and they don’t have any physical relationship from past 1 year? who is responsible?what should wife do and if she do something wrong?

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    May 26, 2015 at 6:02 AM

    Assalamu aliakum I got married on 31/1/2014 on skype through my husband was in saudi it’s almost 1 yr 4 months now I came to saudi to meet my husband due sm problems v can’t meet. But as I came I came to know he hd married another gal n he is avoiding I want to is our marriage is valid r not pls let me know dis answer

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      Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man

      June 26, 2015 at 12:41 AM

      Asma, Asalaamualaikum.

      I’m not a sheikh, but I’ve never heard of a nikkah or marriage over skype. You weren’t even there in person. Inshallah You should let him go and find another man who will love you for who you truly are. Stay friendly, beautiful, and read the Quran (in your country translation as well).

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    June 19, 2015 at 9:00 PM

    i am a girl of 18 yrs. i want to get married as well as continue my arabic studies in a different country. In Shaa Allah eventhough our families have accepted us. my brideprice will be paid in this or after ramadan. my husband studies in turkey and i ll soon be persuing my arabic studies in saudi arabia. my husband is32 yrs now. i cant go to study with pregnancy nor a child alone.
    my husband is demanding of sex after the brideprice. am afraid to get pregnant now. is there a way to prevent being pregnant for some time. i dont want him to commit zina and i am not ready to have a child now. what should i do? by Allah, help me.

    • Avatar

      Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man

      June 26, 2015 at 12:39 AM


      Girl, you should tell him you don’t want to raise a child without a father and if that doesn’t work you should try to get some birth control. See if maybe you can get some condoms that he can try.

    • Avatar


      November 30, 2015 at 11:14 AM

      It’s called birth control

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    November 16, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    Okay after a year of nikkah So when is valima done on the vidae day itself..?

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    February 8, 2016 at 6:41 AM

    Please can someone help me.. I got khula 3 years ago.. Now a rishta came for me and the imam refused the khula and wanted ex husbands written letter signed.. So i did that too and got talaq from him then i got told i need to do idat.. But iv found out im pregnant with my fiance’s child (yes we did wrng it was a very emotional time it jus happned in the comfort).. My question is do i still need to do idat?

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      February 9, 2016 at 3:01 AM

      Dear Sister

      Our comments section is not geared for personal fiqh questions. I would advise you to consult a scholar in your community, check with a fatwa service such as or contact one of the mashaikh through their Facebook page.

      Best Regards

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    September 12, 2016 at 2:25 PM

    I recently did nikkah and planning for rukhsati in few months. I am male and i had to convince my wife`s family for nikkah. i had few reasons for this firstly, i wanted to verbally interact with her openly and freely which i consider is not allowed if girl is a na-mehram. Although interacting with her was not object able by her family but i always felt it was a sin and i should do nikkah.
    Secondly, i wanted to delay rukhsati as i m planing to construct a room and waiting for promotion on job . I think islam makes things easy and there is no one way of doing right thing. One should follow the principles and multiple ways are possible for it. Social and cultural norms should be valued ,if things work in positive and healthy directions they will automatically fit into islam. I love my wife by the way.

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    November 5, 2016 at 6:26 PM

    Im a christian living n japan but im not yet divorce i have a someone muslim beliefs living uk in my situation can we do nikah even im not yet divorce?
    I am allow to do nikah even im not divorce ?

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      November 11, 2016 at 11:02 AM

      If you are already married to someone then you can not marry another man (assuming from your name you are a woman). In addition, there are conditions whereby a Muslim is allowed to marry a Christian female. I recommend you discuss these matters directly with an Imam who can guide you better in your situation.

      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

  17. Avatar


    December 16, 2016 at 8:35 PM

    Um hey, I have a question. So I’m a revert, and I know my parents would be dead against arranging a marriage for me with a Muslim guy, let alone even letting me go to the masjid (even though i live with my great Aunt and I’m 18), so I am not sure what to do. I am EXTREMELY cautious of guys online, and rarely ever do, but there was this one guy that I talked to that I really like. I know that many guys are trash, and just want one thing, and will lie till the cows come home, but he seems really legit, and respectful, and even though he has admitted he cares about me he is still extremely shy. We have talked a lot, and we seem to be very compatible, and I think we would have a great marriage together. Our one big disagreement, is that if i were to live in Pakistan, sometimes I would want to go out in nature, and just be alone, and not always be Chaperoned by him. No one in his town would ever have to know, cuz we could go on a walk, and rendezvous at a given time and place. He thinks I should just stay in the yard, and also thinks that Pakistan’s strict cultural beliefs are synonymous with Islam. Both of us do not want to make a hasty move, or a wrong move, and do not want to get married if the other person will just be unhappy. He suggested that I visit Pakistan for a few months, and try it out. I am very interested in doing so, and of course we would make arrangements with his parents and the like, and facilitate this through them, but I am wondering how I am going to get to know him in person. Should I get Nikkah and have very strict standards? I know he will not push for sex, because he wants to be EXTREMLY careful and not mess up, and not make a decision that he or I would regret. Secondly, the only real obstacles between him and me getting married is me wanting to know him more (and in person), and living in Pakistan to see what it is like, and also his immersion in being pak. Is there a way I can talk to him, to let me just have some time alone on nature? Cuz that is something that is REALLY important to me. He says he is sure his parents will like me, so I do not think that will be an issue..and i would figure that out real quick when video chatting them about the circumstances. Also, considering circumstances in America, I’ll be saving up cleaning money ($16) and probably be going to Italy otherwise, and trying to get a job there, so I was already planning in leaving the country anyways. Although I shouldnt have chatted with him in the 1st place, what is the most Islamic ally correct way to proceed from here? Also, I wanted to see peoples thoughts on this. I ask that you please give me advice on how YOU personally would succeede. Thankyou

  18. Avatar


    April 1, 2017 at 5:51 PM

    I don’t understand this at all, the post itself or the comments… is it Islamic advice or cultural advice? I don’t think it’s good to reinforce cultural norms that go against Islamic ones, and if parents would have issues post-nikkah with any level of intimacy then that doesn’t go with one of the main reasons that marriage is so encouraged- to allow a halal way for two people to be intimate with each other which is in everyone’s natural inclination to want to do so. If a father objects to this then he should not have allowed the nikkah in the first place because at that point he is no longer her wali. Secondly I don’t understand the comments about this gap between nikkah and consummation giving a “get out” clause if someone isn’t who they appear to first be. Divorce is divorce. It is crucial to get to know someone as well as possible PRIOR to nikkah and there is nothing wrong with doing so. Rushing into nikkah because you feel you can’t do this beforehand has no basis. There is nothing wrong with culture, but if those cultural norms conflict or prevent people to do what is encouraged or even necessary in Islam then they shouldn’t be reinforced.

  19. Avatar

    Akhtar Javed

    September 30, 2017 at 2:40 AM

    what is the method of separation for any reasons, incase if nikah performed but wife and husband never lived together, not even met each other after nikah

  20. Avatar


    October 29, 2017 at 4:42 PM

    Asalam alaikun waramotulah please coming together of both parent agreeing to the union and both d wife and the husband without any gift been involve can we also call it Nikkah?

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Raising A Child Between Ages 2-7 | Dr Hatem Al Haj

Dr. Hatem El Haj M.D Ph.D



children drawing crayons

This is called a pre-operational period by Jean Piaget who was focused on cognitive development.

Children this age have difficulty reconciling between different dimensions or seemingly contradictory concepts. One dimension will dominate and the other will be ignored. This applies in the physical and abstract realms. For example, the water in the longer cup must be more than that in the shorter one, no matter how wide each cup is. Length dominates over width in his/her mind.

Throughout most of this stage, a child’s thinking is self-centered (egocentric). This is why preschool children have a problem with sharing.

In this stage, language develops very quickly, and by two years of age, kids should be combining words, and by three years, they should be speaking in sentences.

Erik Erikson, who looked at development from a social perspective, felt that the child finishes the period of autonomy vs. shame by 3 years of age and moves on to the period of initiative vs. guilt which will dominate the psycho-social development until age 6. In this period, children assert themselves as leaders and initiative takers. They plan and initiate activities with others. If encouraged, they will become leaders and initiative takers.

Based on the above, here are some recommendations:

In this stage, faith would be more caught than taught and felt than understood. The serene, compassionate home environment and the warm and welcoming masjid environment are vital.

Recognition through association: The best way of raising your kid’s love of Allah and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is by association. If you buy him ice cream, take the opportunity to tell them it is Allah who provided for you; the same applies to seeing a beautiful rose that s/he likes, tell them it is Allah who made it. Tell them stories about Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Statements like: “Prophet Muhammad was kinder to kids than all of us”; “Prophet Muhammad was kind to animals”; ” Prophet Muhammad loved sweets”; ” Prophet Muhammad helped the weak and old,” etc. will increase your child’s love for our most beloved ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

Faith through affiliation: The child will think, “This is what WE do, and how WE pray, and where WE go for worship.” In other words, it is a time of connecting with a religious fraternity, which is why the more positive the child’s interactions with that fraternity are, the more attached to it and its faith he/she will become.

Teach these 2-7 kids in simple terms. You may be able to firmly insert in them non-controversial concepts of right and wrong (categorical imperatives) in simple one-dimensional language. Smoking is ḥarâm. No opinions. NO NUANCES. No “even though.” They ate not ready yet for “in them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people.”

Promote their language development by speaking to them a lot and reading them books, particularly such books that provoke curiosity and open discussions to enhance their expressive language. Encourage them to be bilingual as learning two languages at once does not harm a child’s cognitive abilities, rather it enhances them.

This is despite an initial stage of confusion and mixing that will resolve by 24 to 30 months of age. By 36 months of age, they will be fluent bilingual speakers. Introduce Islamic vocabulary, such as Allah, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), masjid, Muslim, brothers, salaat, in-sha’a-Allah, al-Hamdulillah, subhana-Allah, etc. (Don’t underestimate the effect of language; it does a lot more than simply denoting and identifying things.)

In this pre-operational period, their ability of understanding problem solving and analysis is limited. They can memorize though. However, the focus on memorization should still be moderate. The better age for finishing the memorization of the Quran is 10-15.

Use illustrated books and field trips.

Encourage creativity and initiative-taking but set reasonable limits for their safety. They should also realize that their freedom is not without limits.

Between 3-6 years, kids have a focus on their private parts, according to Freud. Don’t get frustrated; tell them gently it is not appropriate to touch them in public.

Don’t get frustrated with their selfishness; help them gently to overcome this tendency, which is part of this stage.

Parenting: Raising a Child from Age 0 to 2 | Dr. Hatem Al Haj

Continue Reading


Who Can We Trust?

Danish Qasim




Spiritual abusers are con-artists, and if they were easy to spot then they would be far less successful. That is why you must exercise vigilance and your own judgment above that of public opinion. Never let the person’s position make you trust them more than you would without it.

Spiritual abusers work covertly, present themselves well, and use their service as a cover beneath which to operate. The way to avoid them is to recognize their tactics and avoid being caught by them.

Blurring Lines

Spiritual abuse often begins with hard-to-spot precursors, with manipulators exploiting grey areas and blurring boundaries to confuse targets. For example, when setting someone up for illicit relations or secret marriage, teachers may begin with inappropriate jokes that lower boundaries.

They may touch others in ways that confuse the person touched as to permissibility, for example, men touching women on their hijabs rather than direct skin. They may inappropriately touch someone in ways that leave him/her wondering whether or not it was intentional.

There may be frivolous texting while the premise of engagement is ‘work only’. Boundaries may be blurred by adding flirtatious content, sending articles praising polygamy, or mentioning dreams about getting married. The recipient may struggle to pinpoint what’s wrong with any of this, but the bottom line is that they don’t have to.

While these tactics may be hard to prove, you don’t need to prove that you don’t want to be communicated with in this way and that you will not tolerate it. You can withdraw from the situation on the basis of your own boundaries.

One of the key challenges in standing up to spiritual abuse is the lack of confidence in calling out bad behavior or the need for validation for wrongs. We may be afraid to a question a teacher who is more knowledgeable than us when he is doing clear haram. However, halal and haram are defined by Allah and no human has the right to amend them. If a religious leader claims exemption to the rules for themselves or their students, that’s a big, bright, red flag.

Beware of Bullying

When you witness or experience bullying, understand that a Muslim’s dignity is sacred and don’t accept justifications of ‘tarbiyah’ (spiritual edification/character reformation) or breaking someone’s nafs (ego). If you didn’t sign up for spiritual edification, don’t accept any volunteer spiritual guides.

If you did sign up, pay attention as to whether these harsh rebukes are having a positive or negative effect. If they are having a negative emotional, mental, or physical effect on you, then this is clearly not tarbiyah, which is meant to build you up.

When abuse in the name of tarbiyah happens, it is the shaykh himself or the shaykha herself who needs character reformation. When such behavior goes unchecked, students become outlets of unchecked anger and are left with trauma and PTSD. This type of bullying is very common in women’s groups.

Trust Built and Trust Destroyed

There are different levels of trust, and as it relates to religious leaders, one does not need to investigate individuals or build trust for a perfunctory relationship. You do not need a high degree of trust if you are just attending someone’s general lectures and not establishing any personal relationship.

If you want to study something with an Islamic teacher, do so as you would with a school-teacher, understanding that their position does not make that person either exceptionally safe nor exceptionally harmful. Treat religious figures as religious consultants who are there to answer questions based on their knowledge. Give every teacher a clean slate, don’t have baseless suspicions, but if behavior becomes manipulative, exploitative, cultish, or otherwise abusive, don’t justify it either.

Personal accountability is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith and we have to take responsibility for our own faith and actions. There is no need to be suspicious without reason, but nor is there a justification for blind trust in someone you don’t know, just because they lead prayers or have a degree of religious education.

It is natural to ask ourselves whether people can be trusted after experiencing or learning about spiritual abuse. The answer is yes – you can trust yourself. You can also trust others in ways that are appropriate for the relationship. If you know someone well and they have proven over a long period of time to be trustworthy, keep secrets, and do not use you or take advantage of you, then it makes sense to trust that person more than a stranger or someone who has outward uprightness that you do not know well. That level of trust is earned through long-time demonstration of its characteristics.

Seeing someone on stage for years or relying on testimony of people impressed by someone should not convince you to lower your guard. Even if you do believe someone is pious, you still never drop your better judgment, because even saints are fallible.

Don’t Fall for Reputation

Never take other respected leaders praising or working alongside an individual as proof of his or her trustworthiness. It is possible that the teachers you trust are unaware of any wrongdoing. It’s not a reasonable expectation, nor is it a responsibility for them to boycott or disassociate themselves from another religious figure even if they are aware of them being abusive.

Furthermore, skilled manipulators often gain favor from respected teachers both overseas and domestically to gain credibility.

If one shaykh praises another shaykh, but you witness abusive behavior, don’t doubt yourself based on this praise. The praise may have been true at one time or may have been true in the experience of the one giving the praise, but no one knows another person’s current spiritual state as spiritual states can change.

Even if the abusive individual was previously recognized to be a great wali (saint), understand that there are saints who have lost their sainthood as they do not have isma (divine protection from sin or leaving Islam) like the prophets (upon them be peace) do. What was true yesterday, may not be true today.

Often praises of integrity, courage, and inclusiveness are heaped on men who support influential female figures. However, men who are praised as ‘allies,’ and thanked for ‘using their privilege’ to support female scholarship and the participation of women in religious organizations and events are no more trustworthy than those who don’t.

Abusers are often very image-conscious and may be acting to improve their own image and brand strength. Influential male and female religious figures also help one another with mutual praising and social-proofing. That is how the misdoings of men who are supportive of women are ignored, as long as they support the right politicized causes such as inclusive spaces and diverse panels.

Don’t be tricked into trust through a person’s credentials. An ijazah (license) to be a shaykh of a tariqa is purportedly the highest credential. It’s a credential that allegedly has a chain that goes all the way back to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but that does not impart any of the Prophet’s character or trustworthiness in and of itself. A shaykh has to continuously live up to the ijaza and position. The position does not justify behavior outside of the sharia or any form of abuse. Scholars are inheritors of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) only to the degree to which they embody his character.

When a teacher who hasn’t spent adequate time with righteous shayukh abuses, they are said to lack suhba (companionship of the pious), and that is why they are abusive.

The truth is many of the worst abusers in traditional circles are highly certified, have spent adequate time with shayukh, are valid representatives of them, and are able to abuse because the previously mentioned credentials lead to blind trust.

Don’t let certifications about spiritual abuse, ethical leadership, or the like mean anything to you. Skilled narcissists will be the first to get such certifications and take courses because they know this will make people trust them more. You will see courses on ‘healthy leadership’ and ‘spiritual abuse prevention’ being taught and designed by them. There is a false premise behind such certifications that if religious leaders knew how abuse occurs and the damage it causes victims they wouldn’t do it. The fact is they know how abuse works, know how damaging it is, and don’t care. In a way, it’s good to have lessons on spiritual abuse from purveyors of abuse, just as learning theft prevention from a thief might be the most beneficial.

Don’t judge by rhetoric

Don’t look at the rhetoric of groups or individuals to see how seriously they take abuse. Spiritual abuse occurs in all groups. It is common for members of one group to call out abuse that they see in another group while ignoring abuse occurring within their own group.

Sufis who will talk about the importance of sharia, label others as ‘goofy-Sufis,’ and insist that real Sufis follow sharia, will very often abuse in private and use the same justifications as the other Sufi groups they publicly deride.

Many imams and religious leaders will talk publicly about the importance of justice, having zero-tolerance for abuse, and the importance of building safe spaces, while they themselves are participating in the abuse.

Furthermore, female religious leaders will often cover up secret marriages, and other abuses for such men and help them to ostracize and destroy the credibility of their victims as long as their political views align. Muslim mental health providers often incorporate religious figures when they do programs, and in some cases they involve known abusers if it helps their cause.

In some cases, the organization does not know of any abuse. Abusive individuals use partnerships with Muslim mental health organizations to enhance their image as a “safe person.” This is especially dangerous due to the vulnerability of those struggling with mental illness and spiritual issues, who may then be exploited by the abuser. It is a community responsibility to ensure the safety of these vulnerable individuals and to ensure that they do have access to resources that can actually help them.

Don’t judge by fame

One false assumption is that the local-unknown teacher is sincere while the famous preacher is insincere and just wants to amass followers. This contrast is baseless although rhetorically catchy.

The fact is, many unknown teachers desire fame and work towards it more than those who are famous. Other times the unknown and famous teacher may have the same love of leadership, but one is more skilled than the other. They both may also be incredibly sincere.

Ultimately, we cannot judge what is in someone’s heart but must look at their actions, and if their actions are abusive, they are a danger to the community. Both famous and non-famous teachers are equally capable of spiritual abuse.

Look for a procedure

Before being involved in an organization, look for a code of conduct. There is no accountability without one in non-criminal matters. Never depend on people, look at the procedures and ensure that the procedure calls for transparency, such as the one we at In Shaykh’s Clothing published and made free for the public to use.

Procedure also applies to an organizations’ financials. Do not donate money to organizations based on personalities, instead demand financial transparency and accountability for the money spent. There is great incentive for spiritual abusers to win the trust of crowds when it means they can raise money without any financial accountability.

But what about Husne-Zann? Thinking well of others?

Allah tells us يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

O You who believe, leave much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sinful” (Quran 49:12).

From this verse, we see that some – not all negative opinions are sinful. The prohibition is partitive, meaning some bad opinions are permissible.

If someone punches you, it is not hunse-zann to assume that person just happened to stretch with a closed fist and did not see your face was in the way. This kind of delusion will lead to you getting punched more. To be wary of their fist isn’t a sinful level of suspicion.

Part of why spiritual abuse is difficult to detect is that its purveyors have a reputation for outward uprightness. They are thought well of in the community, and in many cases they are its pillars and have decades of positive service to their defense. Assuming that someone cannot be abusive simply because they have been a teacher or leader for a long time is not husne-zann. When facts are brought to light- like a fist to the face – it is delusional to assume they didn’t mean it that way.

If someone does something that warrants suspicion, then put your guard up and don’t make excuses for those actions. Start with a general guard and be procedural about things which require a procedure.  For example, if you are going to loan someone money, don’t just take their word that they will pay you back but insist on a written record. If they say they are offended, just say “it’s my standard procedure to avoid any confusion later on.” A reasonable person won’t have an issue with that. If someone mentions on the phone they will pay you $100 for your work, write an email to confirm what was said on the phone so there’s a record for it.

Lastly, and most importantly, never leave your child alone with a teacher where you or others cannot see them. Many cases of child sexual assault can be prevented if we never allow children to study alone with adults. There should never be an exception to this, and parents much uphold this as a matter of policy. Precaution is not an accusation, and this is a professional and standard no one should reject.

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Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure




How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.


You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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