As a Muslim revert (convert), I often find myself with questions: “Is this halal (lawful) or haram (forbidden)?” “What is the Islamic way to handle this?” Many of today’s issues aren’t specifically referred to in Koran or Hadith. I can try my best to interpret the Holy writing in today’s terms, but I am no scholar. Scholars are not readily available in my neck of the woods, either! So, what’s a confused, but well-intentioned Muslim to do?
Islam Online is the perfect resource for Muslims, new or otherwise. The website is a treasure trove of information about the religion, but my favorites by far are the advice sections:
“Ask a Scholar” allows site visitors to send in questions relating to Koran, Hadith, Sunnah, or Islamic law. Questions are issued in the form of a fatwa (religious ruling) by actual scholars. Well known Muslim scholars, such as Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Jamal Badawi, are often quoted. Fatwas issued by the Islamic Fiqh Academy, the Egyptian House of Fatwa, and the European Fiqh Council are also presented and explained.
“Cyber Counselor” allows users to ask relationship-based questions. Questions asked include things like, “I caught my husband looking at porn. What should I do?” or “My mother can’t accept my conversion. How should I deal with her?” Answers are given by Muslim counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists. Although responses are framed in an Islamic context, they are advice and not fatwas. In fact, counselors will often direct questioners to “Ask a Scholar” for Islamic rulings. I find this section extremely helpful in dealing with personal situations that just did not exist at the time of the Prophet (PBUH).
“Parenting Counselor” helps parents raise their children in the Islamic way. Many of the questions deal with teenagers torn between the desire to be “Western” and the need to be Muslim. The site frequently takes a very moderate approach to parenting and gives common sense advice.
“Ask about Islam” is the place for basic questions about Islam, including the Five Pillars, Islamic values, and Islam in practice. New Muslims and the merely curious can come here to ask questions and have them answered by knowledgeable sources. Answers generally come from authentic sources, such as Koran or Hadith.
Aside from the helpful advice columns, the site also offers informative articles on a wide range of topics, including the plight of women in the Islamic world, the war in Iraq, and modern Islam. The site is not afraid of tackling controversial issues, and usually offers a balanced, thoughtful view. While I do not necessarily agree with everything I read on Islam Online, it is still the first place I look to for advice about Islam in the modern world.
I hope that you will also find Islam Online a useful tool.