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July 2007

1. DEAR ABE: I am Muslim but have always struggled with the issue of predestination and free will.  If God created us and already knows what we will do, how can we be judged on it?   If God could have created us any way he wanted why were some people created good and some evil?  I think this is something that not only Muslims struggle with. What is your understanding of this? --NAEEMA, FLORIDA

DEAR NAEEMA: God is the only one who knows the future. We don't. God, knowing the future, knows every decision we as individuals will make in absolute freedom. He thus knows what each individuals' final destiny is, based on the decisions made by that individual in complete freedom. Predestination thus exists as far as God is concerned, but not as far as our perspective is concerned. All of us have the freedom to believe or not to believe and to live or not to live our life based on God's commandments [1]. God simply knows what decisions we will make based on our free will. We have the complete freedom to change our lives, and thus, our destiny on the Day of Judgement. [2]

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 16:93;  [2]  Appendix 7, Appendix 14, and Introduction of the Quran Translation by R. Khalifa.


2. DEAR ABE: This past week I took my kids to see Evan Almighty, in which the underlying theme was Noah and the Ark.  This got me wondering, what do the Muslims believe about Noah’s Ark? --JAN, WASHINGTON

DEAR JAN: Some of the underlying ideas touched on in the Evan Almighty film are harmonious with Islam.  For example, we believe in Noah as a prophet of God [1], we believe he was inspired to build the Ark [2], and that those who joined him in the Ark were saved from the flood [3].  The theme, that humankind needs to reconnect with God and cherish the Earth that we live on, has basis in the Quran [4].  We understand Noah’s message to be worship God alone, and follow God’s commandments [5].  However, we do not find support in the Quran for the entire Earth flooding. Instead, we see descriptions of the flood as localized for one community.  Also, we do not find support for pairs of every animal on Earth entering the Ark [6].

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 4:163, 6:84;  [2] 11:37, 23:27;  [3] 10:73;  [4] 23:23, 25:63, 7:56, 2:205, 28:77;  [5] 7:59-64, 26:105-120;  [6] 11:40-44, 54:9-13, 21:76, 29:14.


3. DEAR ABE: What does the Quran say regarding how women should dress when offering Salat? Does the Quran make it obligatory for women to cover their hair during prayer? I haven't found any such verse in the Quran, and I wanted to check with you to see if you have found one that I am unaware of.  I am sure however, that if I were to attend Friday prayers without a head cover, someone would say something to me, or worse. But I believe I should not fear people, only God. Please advise. -- HANA, CANADA

DEAR HANA: First, you are correct, there are no verses telling women how to dress for Salat, other than that All worshippers should dress nicely for the masjid [1]. Religious leaders sometimes abuse the Quran verse 33:53, “If you have to ask (the prophet’s) wives for something, ask from behind a barrier,” by wrongly twisting it into a blanket rule for all women to cover up and wear “hijab”.  This leads to a second point, that, maybe you are fearful to go without a headcover to the mosque because headcovers are a rule there. It is important to examine what rules are enforced in your mosque. When a place of worship is imposing rules not dictated by God, then whose rules are they? Any mosque you attend should be devoted to God ONLY [2].

Relevant Quran Verses: [1]  7:31 , January 2007 #1;  [2] 7:29, 6:114-116, 18:27, 9:31, 45:6, 77:50, 31:6, 41:3, 17:46, 4:60, 9:107-108, Appendix 18, Appendix 13,  and Appendix 12 of the Quran Translation by R. Khalifa.

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The answers provided by Abe and friends represent the understanding of the
writers, and should not be taken as the only acceptable approach. The reader is encouraged to research the topics further using the Quran.

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