Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

We sure can! In addition to my lengthy previous rant about the apparent “ban” on cross-gender interactions of friendships that has not actual basis in the Quran or Hadith because at the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) both genders interacted all the time, I wanted to add some science to the mix that I only looked at after posting my rants. I never implied that all interactions with the opposite sex will be easy, much like same-sex relationships, some will fail and some will flourish. But science does say that they are beneficial for both people despite some challenges!

Across the internet you’ll find plenty of posts saying that men and women can’t be “just friends” yet they provide no actual scientific proof to back up these claims. Well, I have some for you. This is from Psychology Today, click on the link below to access the web article. I find it hard to argue with science! 🙂

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157733045311/can-men-and-women-be-friends

The vast majority, 83% in fact, of people do believe that a friendship can be purely platonic. And like I’ve said before, it’s helpful to tell the person right off the bat that you want nothing more than a platonic friendship. If you or the other person cannot respect this, then it’s time to move on. Also like I’ve said before, maintain the bounds of modesty and if you fear sin then abstain. That in no way means that all interactions between the opposite sex are forbidden. You must use your judgement and wisdom and decide for yourself if you can be humane with the opposite gender or if you can only be an animal. Nobody can tell you that except you. If you don’t like cross-gender friendships stay out of them, but don’t come and break down mine.

It’s not true that everyone will automatically fall for their platonic friend at some point It’s equally not true that men are nothing but uncontrollable sex machines and that women are apparently to blame for that. The cold hard truth is that women are forced into closets not to “sinfully entice” men who on the other hand rarely ever do much to control themselves. All of this comes down to erroneous, legalistic, patriarchal and outdated rules that the two genders can’t cross paths with each other in even the most innocent and beneficial of ways when scientifically cross-gender friendships have plenty of benefits (and the key here is moderation and balance: you should have both same-sex and opposite-sex friends, not just one or the other) and in the Quran men and women are allies of each other who were never prohibited from interacting.

“And when he went towards (the land of) Madyan, he said: “It may be that my Lord guides me to the Right Way.” And when he arrived at the water of Madyan he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: “What is the matter with you?” They said: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.” So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.” (Qur’an, 28:22-25)
What can be deduct from this cross-gender interaction?
  • It was modest
  • It wasn’t sinful
  • People lowered their gaze
  • There was no flirting
  • There is no mention of them automatically turning into animals around each other

In Islam, contrary to other religions doesn’t teach that sex or attraction is evil. In fact Muhammad was very open about sex and both men and women could come to him for knowledge and advice. Read the article below:

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157734238676/sex-and-the-ummah-series-the-hadith-of-jabir

One thing that jumped out at me was this passage from the article:

For us as Muslims, sexual desire in and of itself is never associated with evil; it is only the misuse and abuse of such desire that is evil.

Shouldn’t confining women to closets and denying their own desires or banning them completely from everyday dealings with men be considered misuse and abuse? Right now Muslim scholars backwardly think like this:

  • If I’m attracted to the man it’s my fault
  • If a man is attracted to me it’s my fault
  • If I sin out of temptation it’s my fault
  • If a man sins out of temptation it’s my fault

Instead of fostering (whether silently or explicitly) a culture of coldness, the mentality of “the other” and a lack of accountability or control, how about we begin working together to stop the idea that one gender is an animal and the other is their toy and to put an end to gender-based violence, discrimination, inequality and stigma as allies. This isn’t a “man’s problem” or a “woman’s problem” it’s a humanity problem. I can bet that God looks down on us with sadness at what we’ve turned religion and sexuality into when God made men and women complimentary to each other, not enemies of each other.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics

Another Rant About Gender Segregation (Part 3 of 3)

Of course this topic also begs the question, well what if the opposite gender is really a temptation for me? For some people, that is true. In that case use your judgement and don’t get involved in activities that will lead to sin and corruption. But stop pretending that men are animals when it comes to sex and that women are only objects of gratification for them. It’s offensive to both men and women. Both genders deserve more respect than this.

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157715790076/the-hypocrisy-of-gender-segregation-separate-can

For me this is a topic that also comes back to gay/lesbian Muslims too. I know that the Quran condemns homosexuality but that does not stop people from having feelings for the same gender. If you’re not familiar with this you ought to do some research because I know (and truly respect) many LGBT Muslims and my question in their case is this: if I were a lesbian would I be required to only have male friends because being around other females would sexually excite me too much? I’ve always had both male and female friends both before accepting Islam and after and they’ll all tell you that I never tried sleeping with them and I can tell you that they’ve all respected my “friendship only” policy.

I was 14 years old (I converted to Islam the day before my 20th birthday) the first time I was approached by a lesbian. Did gender segregation help me with that? In all of my dealings with people I establish clear boundaries, much like the terms of use of this blog. Can’t respect them? Leave. Similarly I’m clear with people I make friends with that our interactions will me as friends only so there’s no room for lewdness or other sinful behavior. If I entice you it’s your job to get away from me but don’t prevent me from hanging out with people who respect me and my boundaries. Tell me, how are my “terms of use” a violation of the Quran?

The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. (9:71)

Allies of one another. How is not being able to speak and interact with that person part of being an ally to them?! Andrew, Levi and Duane are my allies just as much as Anne, April and Jenni. We respect each other. We support each other. We love each other. We don’t burn the world together. We don’t spread corruption together. We don’t sleep together either! 😛 The six of them are people of equally good character and morality. They don’t lure me into sin with their conduct and vice versa. Now tell me how this is a sin! Tell me how I’m such an awful person. Tell me how I’m an adulteress (despite that I’m still a virgin) and how I’m going to hell. How about this? Gender segregation is bad for society, Muslims or not.

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157716595306/why-were-protesting-against-gender-segregation

Now, I want to make it clear (not to sound too extreme) that I’m not calling on for a complete ban on segregation in all areas of life because obviously men and women will use different bathrooms and changing rooms, this post is solely in the context of non-sinful everyday social interactions. I also agree that if you prefer voluntary self-imposed segregation then you have the right just as much as to me to hang out with who you want. If you’re more comfortable with other women (or with other men if you’re a man) then it’s your right to be surrounded by them. Each person is different with what they are comfortable with but here is something we should all be uncomfortable with: being forced to do something.

Personally, I feel far more comfortable in a mixed environment than a divided one because a segregated one (be it that this word has probably been overused and has much negative connotation now) I feel that there is this unignorable coldness and mentality of “the other” and that makes me highly uncomfortable. Based solely on personal experiences, I’ve had a much better experience in mixed crowds than with other women only crowds but that’s just me. At school when I was 15 or 16 I was the only girl in physics class (which also had a male teacher) at school and never once did they guys make me feel out of place. Not one of them ever made a move of any kind on me. All respected me.

Why? My personal opinion is that it’s because they were largely accustomed to having females around. They weren’t frustrated in some way and somehow erroneously saw me as the object or cause of their frustration. Physics class is probably the class I have the most fond memories of and honestly my memories of school in general aren’t fond at all, and it never had anything to do with men. So don’t blame me if you can’t control your own sexual desires!

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157717317656/gender-segregation-and-islam-on-revolvycom

According to some if there are three people together somewhere (either two men and one woman or one man and two women) this is not considered “free mixing” because the third person is considered a “chaperone” of sorts, however others say that there ought to not be any free mixing of any kind unless there is absolute necessity. An opinion held during the earlier generations was that a man could be in the company of a woman if he was a reliable person. An example of this is Sayyiduna Umar, who once visited a woman’s house in the night, and this was permitted, because he was praised for his reliability. However, this seems to be discredited in modern times.

Really I just want there to be an end to this crap and the mentality of “the other” and the coldness that comes with it and for people to realize that your physical presence won’t automatically make somebody else commit a major sin! I’ve been around men my whole darn life and I have yet to hear a story about how I “forced” him to do something evil with my mere presence! Of course this would imply that I was properly and modestly dressed in appropriate Islamic attire, which I always am, and to me that in itself should be barrier enough. Some people may call me a heretic and a whore for my stance on this issue but their misogynistic and patriarchal views (not to mention close-mindedness) will not stop me from interacting with men or having male friends. I have lesbian friends too for that matter, who also respect my boundaries.

Not every single interaction between a man and a woman will automatically lead to evil. I am confident when I say that my interactions with men will be recorded in the book of my good deeds, will yours? Only you can answer that question. And if one day I feel tempted by a man I’ll take the appropriate measures to not fall into sin, but I most certainly won’t go around believing that every man I cross paths with is a danger to purity or chastity. Whether in the masjid or the mall, school or on the sidewalk, men and women alike are enjoined to be keenly aware of themselves and their roles in creating, encouraging, and maintaining a society that values spiritual purity and chastity, but also one that is free from coldness, discrimination and that toxic mentality of “the other.”

As a result of our gross misunderstanding of the Sunnah, we have gone to two extremes: attempting to segregate the genders to an unhealthy level, to the point where a simple, innocent conversation is considered sin; or throwing out any notion of modesty, lowering the gaze, and considering any and all behavior between the genders – even zina – to be acceptable. In both cases, diseased hearts are created and fostered, because there is no holistic understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Islam came to transform the Ummah from one of ignorance to one of beauty, honor, dignity, and respect.

To reach that state, we must go back to the understanding of the prophet. Only then can we possibly start seeing the men and women of this Ummah coming together, as they were meant to be, to cooperate upon birr and taqwa: goodness and righteousness, together as allies.

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157718054796/how-do-muslim-women-encourage-misogyny-about

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics

Another Rant About Gender Segregation (Part 2 of 3)

I find it interesting that when I post about controversial topics I get an increase in blog followers. That shows that people care, so let’s continue this important discussion. I believe that I’ve already said all that I wanted to say in my articles and added a ton of links to support my point of view, you ought to carefully read all of them. Contrary to popular belief, we are far from being the only ones who think like this or dare to speak out.

The Quran itself never prohibits interactions between men and women, au contraire in fact, and while some argue that there are some passages from the Hadith that claim that opposite sex interactions are forbidden I have a two cents to add on that too. Do you believe that the Quran is complete? Do you believe that it is the infallible word of God? If so, why do you wanna prohibit something that was never prohibited in the Quran? I’m not saying that the Hadith is bad, not as long as it supports a principle already established in the Quran, but it should never be taken as an infallible or equal to the Quran and God forbid one that abrogates it!

You know, one thing I’ve always wondered was why some scholars issued fatwas prohibiting gender mixing (within the bounds of modesty) but never supplied evidence to support this. In my opposition to forced segregation I’ve got plenty and I’m just a self-taught girl who applies common sense and ijtihad when it comes to modern issues and an ancient text. And to those who claim to have evidence prohibiting this, I ask, is it credible? Not that I’ve come across so far.

This is without a doubt a hotly debated issue and those of us who choose to stand up to this often get judgmentally shot down by people who don’t even take the time to consider our point of view or our experiences. In addition to everything I’ve already posted, read this passionate post by a Muslim sister. You’ll find more that I’ve shared under the “Reblogged Posts” section of this website.

https://keepyourgoodhearttumblr.com/post/157714092351/british-imam-quran-does-not-rule-on-segregation

askscreen-shot-2017-02-25-at-20-26-00

This is another opinion by another sheikh who also states that segregation is not a requirement (it can be practiced voluntarily however) and that men and women used to interact freely. Like I’ve previously mentioned, if you observe modesty and do not act in a careless (indiscriminate) manner that would entice sin then what’s the problem? Why have some Muslims reduced women to nothing but a temptation? Why do so many foster a culture of looking at the opposite gender like they are nothing but an object of your sexual gratification and why do you behave like an animal? Read this post by a fellow Muslims feminist while you’re at it.

While the majority of people who talk about these issues talk about them in the context of being inside a mosque, it is something that very much spills out into all areas of life and even more so here in the West where there is as much diversity as a person can possibly imagine. And if you don’t believe that Islam and feminism can be compatible, you’ve obviously never heard of Islamic feminism. Also take a look at these Muslim feminist blogs that I really enjoy:

And there are so many more, too many to list here. Islamic feminism has been around pretty much since always, because Islam is a very feminist religion. It has given both men and women equal rights (but different responsibilities; for example a man is required to work to support his family while a woman is not) but it’s unfortunately people and not the faith that are misogynistic and cripple women in various areas of life. Personally, the aspect of feminism is one of the many things that attracted me to Islam.

 

Posted in Personal & Opinion

Another Rant About Gender Segregation (Part 1 of 3)

While I have previously written (mostly ranted actually) about what I think of gender segregation in Islam twice, I’ve recently read this wonderful article by a Muslim brother and I felt compelled to write some further thoughts about this. First I want to make it clear that this post is about forced/obligatory segregation, not voluntary segregation. You can voluntarily sit next to a person of the same gender as you at a gathering at any time, there’s nothing stopping you. This is yet another post attacking the hypocrisy and misogyny (among other nasty things) being spread around by some people from average people to religious authority figures.

First, I also want to mention that while I don’t believe that gender segregation is Islamic, I want to make it clear that I do think that getting together for the purpose of evil (regardless of the people are involved are men or women or both), regardless of what that evil may be, is obviously prohibited. This post is about every affairs such as work, school, social gatherings, neighbors and communities and whatever other circumstance in your everyday life where you’ll cross paths with other people.


gendersegregation

The first thing you’ll notice on the Wikipedia page about this issue it’s that there is no evidence from the Quran or Hadith that enforces the segregation of the sexes. Some people attempt to prove there is using the following verses that say in part:

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: this will be most conducive to their purity – (and,) verily, Allah is aware of all that they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not to display their charms beyond what may be apparent thereof…

Now how is this preventing interactions between men and women? In fact it’s the exact opposite! It tells us how to appropriate interact! This verse says that men and women should not dress or behave immodestly around one another, not that they aren’t allowed to interact! Since I’ve last written about this I think that the term “free mixing” has a rather negative connotation so I will refrain from using it from now on but it’s obvious that interactions between men and women have always taken place and have always been allowed within the bounds of modesty.

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157708941951/free-mixing

I’m far from being the only one with this opinion, be it that we are often attacked by others who believe otherwise. They don’t seem to understand that we are saying that segregation has to be completely abolished, nobody is stopping you from doing it voluntarily! We are on the other hand criticizing those who force it upon others. It doesn’t protect women, it only discriminates and fosters the culture of “the other.” It promotes the idea that we are no more than sex objects when the Quran advocates nothing but equality between men and women while still understanding their natural differences.

It’s a good idea to remember that by promoting the idea of separation based on any trait, people are denied the most important lesson — learning how to live with others that aren’t like them. Did you know that 6 of the 8 countries who seek the most porn online are Muslim-majority nations? It’s estimated that over 40% of porn is derogatory towards women so this most certainly doesn’t teach these people that women are valuable members of society. Similarly to sex segregation in schools, sex segregation in society is bad for everybody. Much like Ed Husain said in his criticism of gender segregation, it only leads to poor social and communication skills and ultimately only plunges society further into a culture of coldness and gender inequality.

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157709774786/the-disadvantages-of-schools-segregated-by-sex

Gender inequality has no place in Islam. The religion itself is extremely kind to women, but unfortunately Muslims nowadays are not because they’ve fallen into legalism or other corruption that isn’t in the spirit of Islam. Women aren’t inferior to men in Islam, in fact the Quran states that they are allies and complementary halves of each other, so why break them apart? Here is what the leader of Iran Sayed Ali Khamenei said about the quality and greatness of both men and women:

“If we adopt a comprehensive outlook, we see that there is no difference between men and women. Certain privileges have been granted to women and certain others have been granted to men. And this is based on their natural characteristics, which Allah has bestowed upon them. There are no differences in terms of human qualities. There are no differences when it comes to human rights, social rights, spiritual values and spiritual perfection. A man can become Ali and a woman can become Fatima. A man can become Jesus and a woman can become Mary.”

Both men and women have always been a very important part of Muslim society and that naturally means that they will have to work together to build that strong and equal society. It’s not by not speaking or interacting with each other that we achieve this.

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157707778116/gender-segregation-in-muslim-societies-from

Posted in Everything Else, Islam & Interfaith Subjects, News & Relevant Topics, Personal & Opinion, Postcards & Correspondence, Reblogged Posts, Social Issues & Politics

The Links Are Corrupt — My Apologies!

Yesterday I wrote a post about tattoos which links to another post about the same topic that I’d written previously but did not notice until now that one Tumblr link in it had become corrupt since I changed the name of the blog. I can imagine that this has happened in other sections of the website as well but right now I really don’t have the time to look through absolutely everything and update it all so I’m going to give you a quick and easy solution on how to make the content reappear.

The corrupt links that still wear the previous name of the blog show up as this:

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/148933465911/what-first-lead-you-to-question-the-hadith-books

What should be a Tumblr module that shows up is nothing more than a link to the error page now. The solution is simple: replace my old username with the new one, so where it says nomorehurtingpeoplepeace replace it instead with keepyourgoodheart which is my new username. Nothing else in the link changes, aside from the username everything else is still the same.

Try it for yourself right now! Click on the corrupt link above and replace the username. Previously you got this page, and with the new username in the link you’ll get this page. The module that vanished should actually look like this here on WordPress:

I suppose that eventually I’ll have to manually change these broken links but for the moment anybody reading my blog who comes across one should use this method to access the disappeared content, because it hasn’t really disappeared 🙂

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics

Challenging Taboos: Muslim & Tattooed

Although I’ve written about this before, I thought it would be time to write a follow up post for all you tattoo fans out there. For Shia Muslims and some Quranists all tattoos are awesome and many wear them proudly for various reasons, but if you’re a Sunni it might be better to press that little red X in the corner of the webpage because you might just go straight through the roof with what’s about to follow. 😛

TAT-958x559

Let me first introduce you to Kendyl Noor Aurora, a fully tattooed Muslim woman. Like her, I also got my first tattoo when I was 16 years old. Mine is a spiral heart on the inside of my left wrist and has its own special meaning to me. I wasn’t Muslim back then but I’ve also gotten inked after my conversion. I chose to be a Shia (although I prefer to call myself a Universalist and embrace the universality of Islam instead of just a single school of thought) and not a Sunni for a long list of reasons and tattoos weren’t even on that list, they are really just a cherry on top of a religion I’ve absolutely fallen in love with! ❤

For more of sister Kendyl’s journey of being a tattooed Muslim take a look at the following video and find more on her YouTube channel:

Make sure to read the comments too! There are a lot of interesting perspectives and others sharing their personal experiences. Why not add yours while you’re at it? Although I am a tattooed Muslim, thus far I’ve always kept my ink covered so nobody really knows I have it, and even if they do they’ve probably never seen it. Although I have my own reasons for always keeping my ink covered up, sister Kendyl has definitely given me inspiration to uncover those on my hands and lower arms and I may just consider altering my style a little bit…

For those interested in Shia tattoos, check out 313tattoos on Instagram. Although some sheiks say that you shouldn’t tattoo things like the names of religious figures of verses of the Quran on your body, but according to Ayatollah Sistani these too are permissible as long as they are done in good taste. Watch the following video for a quick overview of the general Shia opinion on tattoos:

Now let’s talk about the article I named this post after. In regards to the Sunni argument that tattoos change God’s creation, doesn’t circumcision change it in a permanent fashion too? You can get the tattoo removed (so I supposed they aren’t that permanent after all) but you can’t get your foreskin back, sorry. Many liberal Sunnis also say that the their hadith prohibiting ink was only relevant in a specific context and is outdated today, we all unfortunately still face prejudice for being “Muslims of color” with our tattoos.

This section of the article was especially touching when a young man was talking about the tattoo he got after his grandfather passed away:

“Behind almost every tattoo is a story and mine is no different. To some people, tattooing is an extreme action, but to others, tattoos offer peace in knowing that one’s story will always be with them, forever on their skin. My most significant tattoo takes up my entire back and is dedicated to my late grandfather Mohammed Khalleel. […] I am currently serving in the US ARMY, and I am making my family, friends and colleagues, very proud with all that I do in my life and with how I have been able to turn it all around. I owe all of this to my grandfather. He gave me a second chance at life. This is my story behind my tattoo and why it is part of my life story. The main and largest portion of my tattoo is a verse from Surah al-Baqarah, which reads, ‘Who, when a misfortune overtakes them say, Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return.’”

Although my grandmother is still alive (for the moment anyway) I was also raised by her and there’s nobody more special to me than her in my life, I would eventually want some type of ink to commemorate her, however I would want it while she’s still alive so I can show it to her. I’m set to get new ink at the end of August, but not something for my grandma. I’m getting a Holocaust memorial tattoo, and no, Islam is not some anti-Semitic cult. Any Muslim with a head on their shoulders will love their Jewish neighbors. While you’re at it, you should read the stories of Muslims who saved Jews during the Holocaust and start being more compassionate towards all people because there’s enough hatred in the world as it is.

There will without any doubt be much more discussions about tattoos in the future as they increase in popularity just about everywhere in the world. My next tat will be my 13th one and I’m already thinking about my 20th. Until next time everyone… ❤

Posted in Reblogged Posts

The Shia-Sunni Schism is about Politics, Not about Islam

This is a very important article, thank you for sharing!

The Muslim Times

Written by Dr. Abdul Alim: Since the execution of the Shia Cleric Al-Nimr over the weekend, and the subsequent tensions that have worsened the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the international media has gone into a frenzy on the Shia-Sunni conflict among Muslims. Once again Islam’s image is being tarnished as a religion whose followers are blood thirsty and unable to live with each other and therefore, by extension of this logic, are also unable to live in peace with people of other faith.

A cursory look at media coverage of this rising tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran confirms a subtle undertone. The international media seems to continue to look for the “Other”, in partnership with dominant powers, for someone to blame for current global crisis, conflicts and sense of insecurity to perpetuate the unfair global policies they have come to rely upon to maintain a status quo…

View original post 1,268 more words

Posted in Reblogged Posts

Why Trump’s pro-Sunni tilt worries human-rights campaigners

As a Shia reading this makes me very sad because although I highly respect Sunni Muslims (and all other Muslims, Quranists, Ahmadiyya, etc.) I often feel like we get second-class treatment from other groups and now with Trump getting in the mix it’s bound to be a real disaster 😦

The Muslim Times

Source: The Economist

It reinforces sectarianism and gives a boost to Sunni autocrats

by

Whenever something happens to alter the global equilibrium between Sunni and Shia Muslims, the ripples can be felt across a huge swathe of the earth, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And one such alteration came with Donald Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, where as colleagues have written, he aligned America more firmly with the Sunni kingdoms of the Gulf. The president also pleased his royal interlocutors by harshly denouncing the behaviour of Iran, epicentre of the Shia Muslim world.

As was noted this week by many participants in a global human-rights festival, the Oslo Freedom Forum, the new American line seems to give the Saudis and their local allies a free pass over domestic policy. It now seems that terrible violations of basic human liberties, such as the flogging of brave…

View original post 264 more words

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Social Issues & Politics

The Sunni-Shia Dilemma

Lately I’ve been seeing quite the online stir in the seemingly never-ending conflict between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam and I think it’s about time that I respond to it, considering that I fall on the Shia side of the equation. Personally, I can’t say I care about labels such as “Sunni” or “Shia” or any others for that matter. Look to the right of your screen in the description and you’ll see that I prefer to call myself a “Universalist” instead of simply “Shia” or “Zaidi” because I seek a brand of Islam that incorporates all Muslims, hence making it universal so to speak. But that’s just me, most people prefer to simply be called “Muslim” and leave out all labels.

I may be somewhat more liberal-minded than most Muslims, and then again we have the label “liberal” that tends to create negative connotations in certain people. To me the word “liberal” means being open-minded. Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) said that faith is patience and tolerance. I prefer to use the word liberality instead of tolerance because of the connotation it has for me. After seeing a lecture by Tariq Ramadan in which he says that the word “tolerance” implies merely putting up with somebody, I switched it to “liberality” which is the quality of not being opposed or close-minded to ideas that aren’t traditional. An attribute of the prophet was considering all viewpoints on one issue.

Now when it comes to the Shia-Sunni issue, this is first what I have to say:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (2:256)

In Islam we are not allowed to judge others. Unfortunately we all fall short when it comes to that. Naturally I chose the Shia side when I came to Islam because the Sunni side had many teachings that I didn’t like, does that mean that I hate everyone who adheres to the Sunni sects or believe that they aren’t real Muslims? Not at all! The same goes for everyone who picked a certain sect over another; it worked for them and it doesn’t automatically make the other guys bad. Despite all the turmoil, the clashes throughout history and even the two groups issuing nasty fatwas against each other, the vast majority of people want unity. First, take a listen to what Mufti Menk has to say about labeling:

For many new Muslims, and non-Muslims curious about Islam alike, there is a lot of pressure to pick a side and to pick the right one. The Sunni-Shia split originated after the death of the prophet, when it came time to appoint a successor to lead the community. The differences are primarily political since both Sunni and Shia Muslims adhere to the basic tenets of Islam; belief in the oneness of God, giving charity, fasting during Ramadan, etc. For the complete story, check out this book. Of course over the centuries the Sunni and Shia sects have naturally developed their own unique traditions and practices, religious orders and more but over the course of my studies I’ve found far more similarities than differences. We have the same Quran, the same declaration of faith, the same prophets from Abraham to Muhammad, the same God, etc.

Take a look at this  wonderful article written by Hesham Hassaballa about the need for unity in the Muslim world:

https://nomorehurtingpeoplepeace.tumblr.com/post/157577729616/i-am-sushi-sunni-and-shia

In regards to that I’d be a Sushi too, although I’d technically still be a Shia or Zaidi leanings. To me that is simply where I’ve found what I believe to be the true spirit of Islam as I understood it the first time I read the Quran, irrespective of all the different groups that exist today. As it’s obvious from the pages of this blog, I often quote Sunni scholars such as Tariq Ramadan and Ali Gomaa and I really enjoy reading the various viewpoints on the Unity blog among many others. This is because I’d hate to limit myself to only being a “Zaidi” or a “Shia” when Islam is so vast and so diverse with so much good (and also some bad unfortunately) coming from all sides. I will continue to post opinions and issues from all sides of the Muslim community because an alternate, minority or opinion from another school of thought doesn’t make it wrong or irrelevant.

I’m calling on people to have their hearts and minds open to the universality of Islam and not just one side of an issue. I’m calling on people to stop this Sunni-Shia dilemma and turn it into a Sushi Unity, for a lack of a better way to put it. 😛