Index of Questions:

    Do second wives have equal rights in the United States?
    I am engaged to a Muslim who is now going overseas to marry another woman, but wants me to wait for him. I understand he can marry more than one woman, and have no problem with this. But will the first wife be the "legal wife," and will I have the same rights as a "second" wife?

    This is an example from the area of personal law, where Islamic law and local law diverge. Islamic law allows a man to have more than one wife, but simultaneously requires equal financial support and rights be given to each wife, and support for the children.

    However, Muslims also have to obey the law of the land they live in. Therefore, all Muslims who live in America have to respect the law of the land unless the courts make special provisions for personal law matters to be judged in accordance with Islamic law.

    If your fiancé marries another woman and brings her to the United States she will be considered his legal wife by U.S. law. She will be protected by the state. He may love you and spend time with you as his second wife, and may support you and treat you according to the rules of Islamic law, but the state will not recognize this union, and you will not be able to enforce your rights under Islamic law.

    What do the star and crescent mean?
    What do the star and crescent mean in Islam? So many different opinions.

    The sighting of the new crescent moon is how the Prophet and his contemporaries, the earliest Muslims, established the beginning of the new month. This was especially important for determining the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan, or the month of pilgrimage. However, there is no religious or theological significance to the crescent and star, and they still have none as such.

    Some scholars believe that the crescent was introduced into Islamic symbolic consciousness as a continuation of pre-Islamic design motifs, and record its use in the minting of coins as early as the late 600s--that is, within the first century of the death of the Prophet--and was also used on pottery decorations.

    Because Christians erected a cross on the dome or highest point of their churches, and as Muslims co-habited with Christians and members of other faith traditions, the need arose to distinguish their mosques from churches and other houses of worship--especially where the architectural styles were not different. The crescent and the star thus developed as symbolizing Islam. These tendencies accelerated during Ottoman times, as Muslims engaged with European nations and felt an increasing need to establish symbols that differentiated them from European and mainly Christian nations, where the cross played a prominent part as a component of many flags.

    Follow your heart, or stay unhappily married?
    Since entering into a marriage contract in Morocco, and returning to the United States, my husband's way of writing and speaking to me have completely changed. He has become a dictator, accuses me of dressing improperly, wants to be consulted about everything I plan to buy, and does not work. I feel I have made a terrible mistake. I believe he only married me so that he can come to this country. I am embarrassed to discuss this with anyone, because my family is against my decision to revert to Islam and marry a non-American. What should I do?

    One of my greatest teachers once said that anyone who truly follows his or her heart [not their whim, mind you] is at that moment truly submitting to God's guidance--even if outwardly it looks like error--and therefore is a "Muslim" i.e. submitted to God.

    The Prophet advised someone once, if he could not find the answer in the Qur'an and Sunna, to follow his heart. And I advise you to do the same. If things are difficult for you now, take that as a sign from God, and from your husband, that your heart is guiding you to what you should do. And learn from the experience.

    Is it a sin to marry for sex reasons?
    Would it be a sin to marry someone for sex reasons? I have Muslim friend who signed a marriage contract with a woman, so that when they have sex, it won't be out of marriage, and therefore won't be a sin. Is this a correct assumption?

    On the contrary, it is correct, and not a sin, to marry someone in order to engage in lawful sexual activity. The purpose is to ensure mutual responsibility to each other, to prevent any tendency to licentiousness and sleeping around casually, and to ensure proper attribution of lineage to any issue arising form such a union. If you bear a child you must be committed to the spousal duties and provide the child the full support it deserves.

    Can Muslims follow astrology and other methods of divination?
    Does Islam permit the use of astrology, numerology, or other methods of divination? I heard it was permitted for Jews, and I wouldn't think if it were permitted for them it would be against Islam.

    Every area of human knowledge is part of the human heritage. You will find classical Muslim writers referring to such means of forecasting tendencies, as in the poems of al-Mutanabbi and Rumi. And today in much of the Arab and Middle Eastern Muslim world, you will find experts who will read the remnants of your coffee cup to forecast certain aspects of your life.

    Psychics do exist who can forecast certain tendencies in one's life, but it's important to recognize that, as the Prophet said, they can err even when sincere and trying to be truthful.

    This is why Muslim teachers generally advise against depending on such means of information to the point where one no longer exercises free will, or to make such means of divination as a substitute for one's religion. This was the tendency in olden times when people religiously approached Oracles for what was deemed to be "truth."

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