Here's my proposed revision of the on-topic page. It's basically a complete rewrite, adding ideas from the meta, and combining them with ideas from the other sites and their meta sites. The previous post about the on-topic page is Proposal for new FAQ; see also Could we make the FAQ clearer?, What things need to go in the FAQ?, What can go into the FAQ to help people not get confused about there being questions and answers from other sects?.
What topics can I ask about here?
Islam Stack Exchange is... (Add this after discussion: Let's go back to the old scope description?; Would "Islam Stack Exchange is an online Islam study group" or a variant thereof be a suitable scope?).
Anyone may participate constructively here, regardless of their beliefs. We welcome useful contributions from the viewpoints of all denominations, provided they are not ascribed as belonging to groups that do not hold those viewpoints. For the purposes of this site, Islam includes all groups that identify themselves as Islamic.
You've come to the right place if you have questions about e.g.:
- Understanding the Qur'an and Sunnah;
- Islamic law (sharia) and jurisprudence (fiqh), scholarly rulings (fatawa), philosophy and literature;
- Understanding the beliefs and practices of Islamic denominations;
- The teachings of Islam in regards to relationships (parents, marriage, etc.), prayer, inheritance, etiquette, clothing, etc.
However, the following are considered off-topic here:
- Cultural practices, behaviours, politics in Muslim communities, and the Arabic language, except when it helps understand Islam;
- Requests for counselling or peer support, dream interpretation, and judgements on Muslim groups.
Some argumentative and opinion-seeking question styles tend to be downvoted and closed:
- Confrontational, "defend yourself" questions, and requests for apologetics;
- Attempts at debunking Islam or criticising Muslims;
- Questions which seek a "correct" opinion (Truth questions), rather than seek understanding of the diversity in scholarly thought in Islam;
- Underspecified questions such as what does Islam say about X?;
- Questions seeking individualized advice, e.g. the means to solve personal love or spiritual problems.
Some questions may be a better fit on other StackExchange sites, e.g.: History, Politics, Law, Philosophy, Travel, Skeptics, or at one of the other religion-related StackExchange sites: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism.
What responses can I expect to get?
Diverse viewpoints. This site is about Islam, not your version of Islam; we strive to vote based on usefulness, rather than agreement. If desired, a question may explicitly request a certain perspective.
This is not a fatwa site. While questions on the legality of actions (from an Islamic perspective) are welcome, answers may be posted by anybody regardless of training or expertise. It is important to judge the evidence provided by each answer to the best of your own abilities, and accept such answers at your own risk.
Well-researched questions receive better answers. If a question indicates the author's motivation and current level of understanding, answers can build from there. Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. Posts should aim for long-term usefulness (think: "in five years, will people still benefit from this post?").
Answers are expected to be backed up, e.g. by citing references or through experience. Plagiarism will be deleted without warning, and substantially copy/pasted answers are not compatible with the goals of this site (and may be deleted): we don't want to become a repository of quotes from elsewhere.
Respect other people's beliefs, and don't get into arguments about whether any particular group is "right" or "wrong"; we are all here to learn together. Be nice. If you encounter offensive material, flag it for moderator attention (and even automatic deletion) and move on.
This is an English-language site and bear in mind that Arabic might not display correctly on user devices. We still welcome useful contributions by those whose English is poor, which can be proofread and corrected by other users.
Most of these suggested changes will be self-explanatory. Some amount to just "polishing" and "reorganizing" For the non-trivial ones:
I've tried to make it sound less defensive and more constructive ("do X" rather than "don't do Y"). E.g. saying "Respect other people's beliefs" so early sounds suspicious.
I changed "...directly relevant to Islam" to "...helps understand Islam" for boundary cases. Since (a) it seems hard to identify a boundary between Islam and culture (see What distinguishes "cultural practices" from "applied Islam"? and Should Folk Islam be on-topic?) and (b) it's more inclusive and hopefully will reduce arguments. And likewise for politics, and the Arabic language. In Is this an on-topic question?, a "demographics" question was considered on topic, which (arguably) isn't directly relevant to Islam (although the question was eventually closed as off topic and deleted).
I think demonstrating that something "helps understand Islam" sets a low threshold to cross, so is only a minor ask for questions, but should fend off the "what's up with [Islamic group]?" questions.
I say "Requests for..." as the condition for advice, dream interpretation, etc. There's two reasons for this:
- to distinguish between a question about Islam which is motivated by e.g. a personal problem, and a question which is about that personal problem itself (raised here: Social questions off-topic or non-constructive?);
- to distinguish between a question which asks about e.g. dream interpretation in Islam ("What do scholars say a fish symbolizes in dreams?"), and a question that asks about a specific dream ("Last night I dreamed about elephants; what does it mean?").
An example of Arabic not displaying correctly, which probably achieves the exact opposite purpose of what's intended:
Edit (17 March 2017): A few minor touch-ups. I edited the English language part because of the top answer here: How can we make this site more friendly to non-Muslims?
Edit (7 April 2017): A rephrased the bit about apologetics slightly. This came up here: What types of apologetics do we want to discourage? It looks like a flat ban on apologetics would be overreacting, so I changed it to "requests for apologetics" (applying to questions). How to respond to apologetics in answers seems overly complicated for the FAQ.
Edit (2 May 2017): Move "request for apologetics" from "off-topic" to the list of "argumentative and opinion-seeking question styles". It seems apologetics is not wholly off topic: What types of apologetics do we want to discourage?. Changed to a better link for "peer support". Rephrased and moved "Underspecified questions such as what does Islam say about X?" Deleted "Expatriates" from the list of other sites. Other minor touch ups.
I edited the links to
[ ... ](https:// ... ) format, which should make this easier to implement. All the meta links are in the shortened format
https://islam.meta.stackexchange.com/q/868. I verified the links link to where they're supposed to link.
Edit (3 May 2017): G. Bach comments:
Could we maybe add "this site is about Islam, not an Islamic one or one for spreading Islam" or something to that effect? Many users seem to take it like it's the latter instead of the former.
So I added the paragraph: "This is not a soapbox...". However, I feel it shouldn't be limited to spreading Islam. And it's probably best to use quotes from established meta posts, where possible.
Edit (9 September 2017): Minor touch-ups. Added link to a possible alternative scope idea.
This post is intended as a request for review, feedback, and constructive criticisms.