Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Reblogged Posts

The Derogation of Women in Islam

Here is another amazing article by Dr. David from his Huffington Post blog that I just had to share! Of course, all content respectively belongs to him.

For Muslims, Ramadan is a month of fasting, purification, study and prayerful reflection. And after two weeks of prayerful reflection, I have concluded there is no tragedy that has befallen Islam and the Muslim people of the world greater than the derogation of Muslim women. Why?
Two reasons:

  1. Because that abomination has made our communities, our faiths and our religion more vulnerable to catastrophe and less effective in meeting challenges for at least the last thousand years.
  2. Because we did it to ourselves.

Every Muslim will tell you proudly how Islam began as the most egalitarian of religions. From the Quran’s declaration of the equality of all persons (male and female, regardless of race, creed or gender) under God’s (thankfully merciful) judgment, through Muhammad’s own egalitarian practice, that message is consistent throughout. He even worked for his first wife Khadija as her employee, made the woman Umm Waraqah one of Islam’s first imams and told his followers to learn half their religion from his youngest wife Aisha, for Heaven’s sake! But let’s all be honest for a change: Many Muslim men from the very beginning haven’t been comfortable with the way Muhammad exalted women. Even Umar, our second Caliph, admitted he didn’t like the way men’s power over their wives was diminished. But when he tried to impose his own wishes −- by limiting the financial clout of Muslim brides -− one lone woman had the power to put him back in his place, by calling him back to the letter of the Quran’s revelation and the example of Muhammad’s exemplary Islam. Now it’s obvious that didn’t last. However, instead of learning from our mistakes, most Muslims (both men and women, strangely enough) prefer to gloss over the profound difference between our bright beginnings and the state of Islam today. Few Muslims will even admit to Umm Waraqah (and when they do they get bogged down in mechanical issues over her authority to lead prayer for men, women or family members, either from in front or behind), or the fact that more than a dozen of Islam’s most honoured early leaders were women, including Aisha. Instead, for reasons that were primarily political, pertaining to the early disputes that began the Sunni-Shiite split, Aisha’s age of marriage to Muhammad was artificially diminished from 18 to less than 10, taking her authority with it. And Muslim men -− perhaps jealous of the marital authority of their Christian and Jewish compatriots -− adopted interpretations of Quranic revelations that gave women half the worth of Muslim sisters who lived before them. They ignored verses proclaiming that God even made men the way we are solely to make it easier for us to provide for our families, preferring interpretations that confirmed the male right to beat their wives at their own discretion. Despite the fact that, at least while Muhammad was alive, everyone knows that right was taken away. No scholar worth his beard will deny these truths, even though most will quickly leap to defend those strange decisions that earlier scholars made. But the tragedy is this: Muslim men have been denied the wise council of Muslim women, when according to Allah that’s something we need. According to the Quran, it’s simple: to govern the world, our families and ourselves to the best of our abilities, men need women and women need men. Thank God that’s finally beginning to change. To me one of the most interesting (and exciting) aspects of the “Arab Spring” has been the leadership structure, so different from the patriarchal systems previously in place. It’s decentralized, lead visibly by women and similar to the earliest days of Islam.

While others have noted the Arab Spring’s longevity and focus, I know that wouldn’t have surprised the first Muslims. Because Muslims then knew something that Muslims today are beginning to wake up to. The Muslim world is finally changing because Muslim women are waking up to the power and authority they really have under Muhammad’s Islam.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Confess & Conceal: Friends

Following my two previous posts about telling he truth and concealing your sins, I thought I would also examine the issue in light of friendships since the circumstances are different than when you’re in a marriage. The question I was thinking about when pondering this issue is this: is it acceptable to confide in a friend when you’re going through a difficult time even if it means revealing a sin or a weakness or something of the like?

In short I would say yes, but the answer is really more complex than this. First, a distinction should be made between bragging about sins, which is explicitly forbidden, and asking for help because you’re going through a rough patch and you need extra guidance. First, a person must understand that God wants to help you and He wants your well being. God has created us to be social creatures and blessed with friends and family to lean on when we are weak. There is a lot of stigma (in both the Muslim and non-Muslim world) about asking for help when we need it. Nobody likes to be perceived as being weak or lesser than someone else but we must remember that what it looks like on the outside isn’t always what it’s like on the inside and that we will all be tested in our own way at our own certain time by God.

More than ever people are feeling lost, hopeless, devoid of meaning and even suicidal. The truth of the matter is that these issues will not just go away by ignoring them. Something concrete must be done to help those who are vulnerable and those who are suffering. If you have something on your chest, first confess it to God. He is the greatest helper and comforter. If you need extra comfort, ask for advice from a trusted friend. If a sin is involved you don’t need to mention it to your friend, and if you do, you don’t need to say that you are the person involved in it. Asking for advice on how to overcome sin, stop sinning, or repair the damage done by a sin is not wrong and it is not at all the same as bragging about sins or having meaningless talk about them. You cannot change what you don’t acknowledge.

In instances of big problems or if you feel that you friends cannot keep what you tell them confidential, talking to a counselor would be recommended. As much as your friends can bring you much comfort, what you tell them might upset them and they might feel overburdened because we all have our own problems, but they should still be a vital part of your support system in your recovery of whatever you are currently facing.

If the secrets about your family, your friends, or yourself are troubling you, then you shouldn’t worry because a counselor is one person you can tell all your troubles and secrets to without it being gossip. A counselor will help you cope with complicated feelings and thoughts, while maintaining confidentiality. A counselor will never judge you, think you are a bad person, or be shocked by anything you say and talking about such experiences with a counselor can help you work through your difficult feelings and problems.

God doesn’t want you to suffer or deny yourself being helped out of fear. God gave you your friends and resources such as counseling for you to use in times of need but remember to not take your eyes off of Him. What you’re going through right now might serve to help someone else in a similar situation in the future because God wastes nothing, not even your pain and your heartache. My prayer for you is that you will not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help and remember that God seeks to heal you and renew you.

Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates [the lot of] a needy person, Allah will alleviate [his lot] in this world and the next. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allah will shield him in this world and the next. Allah will aid a slave [of His] so long as the slave aids his brother. Whosoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, Allah will make easy for him a path to Paradise. No people gather together in one of the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, but tranquility and peace descends upon them, mercy envelopes them, the angels surround them, and Allah makes mention of them amongst those who are with Him. And whosoever is slowed down by his actions will not be hastened forward by his lineage.

— An-Nawawi

As Muslims we are also called to not judge a person because only God knows their complete set of circumstances, and instead to help them in a constructive and meaningful manner. Always be understanding, compassionate, merciful and tolerant and your reward from God in both this life and the next will be great. May we all always strive to help instead of to hurt each other may we never forget that God will repay us for what we have done, both the good and the bad, so we may we be careful in our actions. May God forgive us for our transgressions and may He guide us to the right path.

Peace

Posted in Personal & Opinion

Confess & Conceal: A Personal Refelction

In response to what I previously posted on whether or not a person should lie to their potential spouse about whether or not they are a virgin, I felt like writing a post on my personal feelings towards this issue instead of something based solely on common sense (which isn’t common enough these days) and the rights of each person entering a marriage.

Personally, I wouldn’t really care about my potential husband’s past as long as he will be a good man to me and meet my required needs in the present and the future. However, I would want to know if he has any children from past marriages or otherwise and if he has (or might be at risk of having) STDs because this would influence whether or not I want to marry him. Personally, I wouldn’t marry a man with kids or STDs (but that is a personal opinion of mine) and if I entered such a marriage under a false pretext I would feel exceptionally betrayed and I don’t believe I could forgive him for that kind of lie and I most certainly wouldn’t ever be able to trust him again. I probably wouldn’t want to remain in that marriage either, knowing that a good portion of what I believed about it and him, even after I asked specifically, was based on a lie.

When I get married, I am seeking a spouse whom I can completely and wholeheartedly trust and that I can tell anything to and that I can believe whatever comes out of his mouth. But at the end of the day God knows best and I must put my trust in Him that he will bring me my desired and deserved spouse at the right time under the right circumstances.

What I didn’t mention in my previous post is that if you are asked whether or not you are a virgin and the answer is no, you can ask the person asking to keep your answer a secret before answering regardless of whether that person will still want to marry you. At the end of the day God only knows best and He will take into account your thoughts and intentions before judging you. God is fair and trustworthy.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Personal & Opinion

Confess & Conceal: Your Spouse

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Several weeks ago, around the time I started this blog, I was looking through several websites where you can anonymously ask questions and get a response from someone knowledgeable in Islam. One question that almost always came up was whether or not you need to tell your potential spouse about some of the things you did in the past, such as if you’ve ever been with someone else. What few people ever acknowledge is that this is not a one answer fits all situation.

First, we must establish the difference between lying and concealing a sin. We all know that we are supposed to conceal our sin because they are between us and God, and as I’m writing this I’ll assume that God has forgiven the sin. This means that it has been wiped out and it’s now in the past and no longer a factor for your future. This is the important distinction we must make: the past and the future.

The question on one particular website was from a woman who had sexually been within a man outside of marriage (she was not married to anyone at the time) and now she’d been asked by her potential future husband whether or not she’d been with anyone before. She wanted to know whether she should tell him the truth, and if so to what extent, or to lie to him about it. What was not mentioned is whether or not her answer would change whether or not he wanted to marry her, and that changes everything.

Is it important to him in his decision whether he wants to marry her if she’s a virgin or not? Some people say that a man has no right to ask a woman this (or a woman to ask a man this, I’m simply writing from the p.o.v. of another female here) but I disagree because her answer in this case wouldn’t just be about her past, it would also be about their future together. If the man in context only wants to marry a virgin, then if the woman in context was to say she’s a virgin when she’s not she is lying. On those same websites I’ve read so many comments about secrets coming out in an explosive fashion, trust being broken and families being torn apart because of a lie that was said right off the bat. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that marriages based on lies and dishonesty are not happy ones. When it comes to your future spouse, honesty is the best policy.

In this scenario if the woman told the man the truth that she was not a virgin, she is in no way obligated to go into details. She has the right to keep that stuff concealed because it is in the past. On the other hand, the answer she gives to her husband impacts the future so she shouldn’t lie to him. Whether or not he still wants to marry her because she’s not a virgin is up to him, but at least this way he will not enter a marriage under a false pretext. In Islam it is permissible to divorce your husband or wife if you come to find out that they’ve been with someone else either before or during the marriage. When you tell the truth, your husband will come into the marriage knowing the truth and your life together will go on without a big (and potentially explosive secret) looming over it. If the man decides that he doesn’t want to marry her because she’s not a virgin, the two weren’t meant to be together. God always gives us a spouse meant for us and our specific needs so we should be wise about marriage, picking the right person and not rushing into it.

To summarize, if virginity (or past marriages, etc.) is an important factor to one or both people entering a marriage, it is their right to know the truth so they can make the final decision accordingly. A marriage is a sacred union between two people based on trust and honesty. What kind of marriage is one where you don’t love, can’t trust or have to keep stuff from your spouse? That is not the marriage God intended for two people.

On the other hand, if the question never comes up or your partner doesn’t care either way, then there is no need to confess. In that case, it’s in the past and will not affect your future with your spouse. A potential spouse also has the right to know if the other partner has any children, may be pregnant, possibly has any STDs, or anything else that will impact their future together. The rest of the  details of the past should be left where they are: the past.

While the potential spouse has a right to know the truth about what is important to them in a marriage (such as the virginity of the other spouse in this case), the woman does not have to tell him, and probably shouldn’t tell him, that this was a sexual act outside of marriage. The question of virginity can be answered by a simple yes or no. No other details are required for the person to make the decision on whether or not they will still accept the person as their spouse. The woman in question here should not be pressed to reveal any details any further than her answer because such would not concealing the sin. All in all, you should tell the truth without confessing the details. This is the best balance of both worlds and it makes sure that the marriage is valid and truthful instead of being a deception based on a lie.

If the person is still ashamed of their actions even after proper repentance they can still tell the truth to the person in an indirect fashion (without explicitly saying yes or no) still without lying to them, for example: “I made mistakes in the past and I was not always a good Muslim. But I have made tawbah and Alhamdulillah I am doing better now. So if you can accept this then ma-sha-Allah that would make me happy and I will be a good and faithful husband to you, Insha’Allah. However, if you cannot accept this then I understand.”

If the potential spouse isn’t satisfied with such an answer then they might want to reconsider whether or not they want to marry that person. When you enter a marriage there should be no doubt that you want to marry that person and you should be able to confidently say that you know who they are and you accept them as they are. Save yourself heartache by picking the person that you know is right for you. May God give everyone wisdom and clarity when it comes to issues such as this in their particular circumstances and may He bless everyone with a spouse suitable for them. Also remember that when a person feels they are right when others say they are wrong, God will take into consideration the thoughts of this person when judging them. Use wisdom and discernment and ask God for guidance in such circumstances. God knows our weaknesses and limitations and we can be confident in His willingness to forgive us when we fall short.

 

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Reblogged Posts

What’s Al-Sharia, and What’s Wrong With Sharia Law?

The following is an article posted on The Huffington Post written by Dr. David Liepert regarding Sharia law and modern society. This seems to be an issue that really bothers both Muslims and non-Muslims alike so I thought I would share this great piece filled with nothing but wisdom and common sense that everyone should read. I should also add that I wholeheartedly agree with his viewpoints in this article. All credit goes to Dr. Liepert and I’m only re-posting this.

Do you know the craziest thing about all the efforts some non-Muslims are undertaking to prevent Muslims from bringing Sharia Law here, to North America?

Islamically, there’s actually no such thing as Sharia Law in the first place: it’s a bilingual oxymoron, incorrectly implying that something perfect can be made by men. But all those efforts, and all the confusion that surrounds them, make us wonder whether we Muslims who live here will eventually have to make what we consider a false choice, between our country and our religion.

The simple truth is, to most Muslims, for everything other than what we consider the “5 pillar items” like our declaration of faith, our charity, our prayers, our pilgrimage and our fasting in Ramadan, rather than a rigidly fixed set of laws, al-Sharia, “the path to the water hole” is a set of principles (principles like equality, justice, and the importance of linking rights to responsibilities and risks to rewards) promoting a set of simple practices (like living humbly, serving God and minding your own business) that Muslims believe are divinely ordained and therefore perfect. And so we also believe that if they were followed perfectly that would give us a perfect world.

So far so good.

Because most of us realize that no matter how they start out our laws end up being made by not-so-perfect people who don’t always live up to those principles. In fact, sometimes they subvert those high-minded ideals for their own sake, and create laws that do the opposite of what they’re supposed to do.

And when believers do that to their own religion, Muslims know that’s called an abomination.

Most of us know that just calling something Sharia doesn’t make it so.

But the problem is that it’s the abominations of al-Sharia we so often end up talking about regardless, and the abominations we sometimes even end up defending, things like stoning adulterers, and/or oppressing women, and/or condoning pedophilia, for the sake of religious freedom.

But since those abominations are clearly indefensible Islamically, they can be —and should be— rejected Islamically, according to al-Sharia.

So the choice isn’t between Sharia Law and the West; it’s actually between Islam and what’s become of Sharia Law.

According to the Chair of Canada’s Imam Council Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi, what’s lacking in all our misconceptions regarding al-Sharia is a clear distinction between the revealed laws and principles —such as justice, freedom, consultative democracy etc., which one can find as the basis of many civil societies, Muslim and not — and the contextually and culturally influenced interpretations which became derived laws over the last 1400 years. Because so few (Muslims and non-Muslims together) understand sometimes even the most basic principles of Islam, a schism develops between scholars and the rest of humanity, to the extent that many non-scholars think it’s all equally al-Sharia. He also pointed out even the most learned scholars sometimes make mistakes. And regarding this article he told me, “Shari’ah is not as simple as one may think. Unless one consecrates oneself to the process and has a broad knowledge of texts, Tafsir/Quranic exegesis and Fiqh/Jurisprudence as well as of their specific validity, all we have is personal opinion.”

That means to have any useful meaning, the English language phrase “Sharia Law” can only be understood as shorthand for the process of taking Islamic ideal-world perfect principles down into the reality we live with and for every step we take in between, kind of like what the phrase “Constitutional Law” means in America. No-one thinks “Constitutional Law” is anything but an ongoing field of study, examining a centuries long dialogue conducted by us, our lawyers, our judges, our jurists and our legislators about applying an ideal to the day-to-day world we live in, upon which our laws are based.

But if we’re being honest, I think Western Muslims will have to admit that those religious freedoms we think we’re protecting, among many other things, are actually better protected here than in many if not most (or perhaps even all?) countries throughout the Muslim world. And the abominations don’t deserve defense, Islamically or otherwise. In fact, those abominations are responsible for the fact that what passes for al-Sharia in much of the world today is a travesty, that falls so far short of what it should be, and so far short of we already enjoy in both America and Canada because of our Bill of Rights and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms (which are already unquestionably “Sharia-compliant”) that Muslims here should immediately and unequivocally reject them, paradoxically for the sake of so-called “Sharia Law.”

In fact, we should defend our own country’s traditions of Constitutional Law in their stead, because that’s actually better Sharia than so-called “Sharia Law” has been since the days of Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Because claiming direct divine inspiration for your legal system makes it frighteningly easy to use the coercive power of religion counter to what most religions claim is the express purpose of faith. It’s supposed to be about realizing our individual responsibilities to our Creator to help us control ourselves, not about seeking the power to control others. Since faith makes us all subject to a Creator who made everyone alongside us to some absolutely good purpose, that requires us to be good for everyone as well, faith is supposed to make us more equal to each-other, and make our societies more just.

An objective, honest and historically accurate assessment of Muslim history admits that instead of doing that, “Sharia Law” has often been abused to exactly the opposite purpose for over a thousand years.How did that happen? When one of his companions once questioned the Qur’an’s claim that some Christians had taken their leaders as lords in place of our Creator, Muhammad explained that by obeying priests in place of God, and subjecting themselves to scholars in place of seeking God’s wisdom for themselves, especially when those clerics counsel obviously contradicted God’s clear commands, some Christians had in fact done just that.

And looking at some Muslim’s scurrying attempts to do the same — a practice that led inevitably to abominations like the Jahili/ignorant death-eaters of franchised al-Qaeda, sucking up to their evil demon masters, committing atrocities no sane person could ever doubt were just dead wrong — I’m not sure we Muslims are much better than they.

However, it’s not just Muslim religious law that’s being subverted. Another reason for Muslims clearly defending America and Canada’s Constitutional traditions for the sake of al-Sharia is how fear of Muslims and al-Sharia has been used to subvert those foundational laws in a manner that works counter to our nation’s express purposes of freedom, liberty and equality for all as well. And as an aside to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, I think the ease with which that subversion has been perpetrated here in North America is something that should frighten us all.

As a Canadian Muslim, who loves what’s best about Islam and Canada together, I honestly believe Muhammad foreshadowed Canada in Medina over a thousand years ago, because that’s what Allah told him to do. As prophet to Muslims, he used that authority and Medina’s diverse people’s personal election to make himself the world’s first Prime Minister, and created a Shura Council that presaged Parliament.

And I think he did that because the Qur’an said God made us different diverse peoples so our diversity would help us better find our paths towards Him together. Muhammad knew al-Sharia was supposed to be good for everyone whether he or she were Muslim or not.

Because everybody needs water, for virtually everything we do, no matter what we do or who we are. Personally, I think that’s why they called the Islamic principle of egalitarian justice al-Sharia in the first place, that helped them build up an fair, just, diverse, inclusive and tragically short-lived society over a thousand years ago in the Middle East, before traitors to Muhammad’s divinely inspired intent, whether Muslim or not, whether willfully or not, and whether knowingly or not, began so very quickly to tear it back down.

But his example lives on, for those who make an honest attempt to find it: that’s why Muslims following al-Sharia for real can get along with everyone who wants to get along with them. In religion you really do get what you’re looking for. Authentic Islam really does mean peace.

My bottom line? There’s no need to defend North America from al-Sharia. Al-Sharia, and Muslims who’ll defend it and North America’s highest values, are already here.

Posted in Reblogged Posts

Why don’t muslims celebrate birthdays?

I have no problem with celebrating a birthday as long as it doesn’t contain prohibited things. Once when asked why he was fasting, Prophet Muhammad answered that it was because it was the day he was born. Some scholars go as far to that if your birthday is used as an act of worship than it should be celebrated. I’m definitely going to continue celebrating mine! 🙂

Al Hamdulilah!  My daughter just turned 4 this week.  I wanted to celebrate it with her and invite a few of her friends (muslim) over.  I was told by one of the parent’s that no one would come because no other parents allow their children to celebrate birthdays.  We are new to this masjid and I didn’t realize that this was a major faux pas. I do understand their position.  If they tell their children that “muslims don’t celebrate birthdays” and then the kids come to my daughter’s birthday, they will wonder why she gets to celebrate and they don’t.  So, I totally support their position.  Consistency is vital.

However, I wonder, why don’t muslims celebrate birthdays?  The only two answers I ever get are: It is not part of our religion and The Prophet (saws)  didn’t do it.  I agree that it is not part of the religion.  It…

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