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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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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 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 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. 😛

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Social Issues & Politics

The Major Scholars of Today Clarify the Ruling on the Muslim Who Commits Suicide

While researching the topic of suicide (unfortunately a person I know has lost someone to suicide) I came across this article online. Although I already believed that those who die by suicide as Muslims aren’t condemned to the fire forever I was honestly surprised to enjoy that article so much because I generally do not agree with the brand of Islam propagated by that website or their teachings on several matters, but that’s just my two cents. Now let’s get to the real issue here…


The major scholars of our time were asked regarding the janāzah of those who have commited suicide, and whether or not they should be buried with the muslims. In three seperate answers, they explain how the one who commited suicide is still a Muslim.

This is in opposition to the Khawārij and Muʿtazilah sects, two stray groups, who say: Sinful people who enter the Fire remain there forever, and this is a huge mistake. –Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Bāz

In the Name of Allāh, the Most Merciful…

Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz:

Shaykh Ibn Bāz (may Allāh have Mercy on him) was asked, “If someone commits suicide because of certain situations in his life and other factors that make it difficult for him to live and provide for his family, does this mean that he will abide eternally in Jahannam (the Fire)?

He responded:

Suicide is a great evil, and one of the major sins.  A Muslim is not allowed to commit suicide.  Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, says, (what means),

وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ  إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا

And do not kill yourselves!  Verily, Allāh is ever-merciful to you!
[Sūrah al-Nisāʾ, 4:29]

And the Prophet (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace) said in the authentic ḥadīth (what means), “Whoever kills himself with something will be punished by it on the Day of Standing.

So it is obligatory on Muslims to have patience and perseverance if they face some calamities or difficulties in their lives, [and] not to rush and kill themselves. Rather, they must be warned of that, fear Allāh, be patient, and work through it by taking the necessary steps, and whoever fears Allāh, then Allāh will make a way out for him.

If someone kills himself, he subjects himself to the Anger of Allāh and His Punishment, however, it will be up to Allāh (to punish him or not), since suicide is less than shirk, and Allāh, the Most High, has said (what means),

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاء

Verily Allāh does not forgive that partners be set up for Him, and He forgives what is less than that for whomever He wills.
[Sūrah al-Nisāʾ, 4:48]

Everything less than shirk is up to Allāh to forgive, and suicide is less than shirk.  Similarly is the case with fornication, stealing, and drinking alcohol – they are all forms of disobedience less than shirk, and the one who does them is under Allāh’s Will, (meaning) if he dies upon that disobedience Allāh may forgive him if He wants, due to his good deeds and his Islām.  And if Allāh wishes He may punish him in the Fire based on the severity of his sin.  Then, after he is purified he will be taken out of the Fire.  According to Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah he will not remain in the Fire eternally. A sinful person does not remain forever in the Fire, not a murderer or anyone else stays in the Fire forever.  He shall be punished if Allāh wants to punish him, for however long Allāh wishes to punish him based on the severity of his disobedience, and then Allāh will have him removed and taken to a river called “the River of Life.”  People will grow there (from whatever remains after burning in the Fire) as a seedling grows after being washed up by floodwaters.

Once their restoration is completed, Allāh will allow them to enter Paradise because of their Islām and their Īmān that they died upon.  The only ones that shall remain in the Fire eternally are the disbelievers.  The only ones who shall remain in the Fire eternally are the polytheist disbelievers who disbelieved in Allāh and His Messengers, rejected His (other) Messengers, denied something that the Messengers came with, or did other things of this nature that expel one from Islām. Sins do not cause someone to remain in the Fire eternally according to Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah.

This is in opposition to the Khawārij and Muʿtazilah sects, two stray groups, who say: Sinful people who enter the Fire remain there forever, and this is a huge mistake.

Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah, the Companions of the Prophet (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace), and those who followed in righteousness say: Sinful people do not have to remain in the Fire forever so long as they do not declare the act of disobedience to be permissible, while knowing it is disobedience.  If the Shayṭān tricked him into doing it then he is not to remain in the Fire forever, rather it is up to Allāh – He may choose to excuse him and allow him entrance to Paradise because of his Islām and Īmān, or He may choose to punish him based on the severity of his disobedience.  Then, once purified Allāh will make him exit the Fire and enter Paradise.

The ḥadīths from the Messenger (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace) about this have come by way of tawātur (convincingly large numbers of chains), that some people who enter the Fire because of their sins will then be taken out of the Fire through (various) intercessions, or only by His Mercy without any other intercession, Glorified and Exalted.  All of this is authentically established from the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace).1

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ Ibn al-ʿUthaymīn:

Shaykh Ibn al-ʿUthaymīn (may Allāh have Mercy on him) was asked, “Should someone who committed suicide be washed and prayed over?

He responded by saying:

Someone who commits suicide – and Allāh’s Refuge is sought – has killed himself intentionally without right.  His act of suicide was a manifestation of his foolishness since he thought that by killing himself he could escape the trials and difficulties he was facing.  However, he has only moved on to more difficult, more severe trials.  He is like someone who wanted to get out of the heat, so he went into a Fire!

It has been authentically established that the Prophet (may Allāh raise his rank, and that of his family, and grant them peace) said that “Whoever kills himself with something will be punished by that thing in the Hellfire khālidan mukhalladan abadan 2.”

Refuge with Allāh is sought!  Whoever kills himself with a knife (or other metal object) will be in the Hellfire cutting himself with it. Similarly, whoever dies by poisoning himself will poison himself in the Fire of Hell!  Whoever jumps off a mountain or a building will repeat that in the Fire of Hell khālidan mukhalladan abadan! 2.

So suicide is not a solution, nor does it provide any relief from sadness and distress!  It only makes the person’s bad situation even worse.

However, if a Muslim commits suicide, he is to be washed, shrouded, and prayed over.  But if the tribal leader, local judge, or elder – whoever makes important decisions – in the area decides not to pray over him, that is a good thing, since the Prophet (may Allāh raise his rank and grant him peace) refused to pray over a man who killed himself with a knife (or the metal head of a spear or arrow).  However, the other people pray over him and supplicate for him to receive Mercy.  This is because he was not an apostate due to his act of suicide, rather he commmitted a horrible major sin (less than apostacy).  We ask Allāh for good situations (free of strife)!

In summary, people who commit suicide are to be washed, shrouded, prayed over, and buried in the Muslims’ graveyards, so long as they were Muslims.  And if the local leader decides not to pray over someone (who committed suicide) so that others would be take an admonition (about the severity of the crime), this is a good thing, following the example of the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh raise his rank and that of his family and grant them peace).

Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān:

Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān (may Allāh preserve him) was asked, “Is it allowed for the Muslims to pray over someone who committed suicide?

He responded by:

It is obligatory to establish the janāzah (prayer) for every Muslim, even for someone who has committed suicide.  That is because his act of suicide was a major sin, yet it does not expel him from the religion.  Someone who has committed suicide is a sinner who has all the rights of the other Muslims, like being prayed over, forgiveness being sought for him, and being washed, shrouded, and buried in the Muslims’ graveyards.

Posted in Everything Else, News & Relevant Topics, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics

My LiveJournal Account

You know you’re old school if you remember the glory days of LiveJournal back when it ruled the internet, yep that was before Facebook and Twitter and all the new ones that come out periodically these days. I remember that site from school almost a decade ago, it was the only one that wasn’t blocked back then. When Google+ really took off that wasn’t blocked either and we ended up all migrating there but I decided to go back to basics and I joined LiveJournal today.

Why do I need a second blog? After all, I have this one and I also have Tumblr for blogging, but I’m seeking a more diary-type platform for certain things. This here was originally started as a social issues blog but it has turned into a jumbled up mix of just about everything and I have no intentions of changing that whatsoever, but there’s some stuff I just want separate. It’s not private, it’s out there for the world to read, even for the Russian government to spy on, but I want that mundane and depressing stuff away from this here. This here is passionate and political Meela, my LiveJournal will be deep dark inner thoughts Meela.

Real humanity presents a mixture of all that is most sublime and beautiful with all that is vilest and most monstrous in the world. ~Mikhail Bakunin

The two Meelas are perfectly complimentary, but I would feel more comfortable keeping them separate on the web. It’s more convenient and comfortable for me too. For now let’s see where it goes… I also need to get my ass to writing my About page for this blog… I’ve been on here almost a year now so I might as well get to it.

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

Prostitution & Human Trafficking

It was just a week ago that I saw this shocking and heartbreaking episode of the Dr. Phil show that I’ve been watching every day for several years now and honestly, I’m still not over it. I’ve never had a show stick with me like this before, but sadly the issue of human trafficking and prostitution is nothing new to me. I’ve seen many documentaries about it while studying social issues and one of my good friends is in a line of work that involves dealing with human trafficking victims and survivors.

What I find to be very sad is how these people (both men and women can become victims of this, however the majority are women) are looked down upon in society as being filthy rats with no value. We do not understand what road brought them to this point, maybe they were forced or maybe they had no choice if they wanted to survive. Even if they did it voluntarily for whichever reason in the beginning it often spirals out of control and they cannot break the cycle. That is why I was very touched by the important article that I’ve reposted below. Too many of us have forgotten this side of the story.

Personally I would be in favor of legalizing prostitution, not because I like that because believe me I don’t, but precisely to protect the most vulnerable and be able to safely and adequately reach them without getting them into some sort of legal trouble. The person buying the services should be the criminal in this case, not the other way around!

It’s also noteworthy to mention the Sunni tradition where God forgave a prostitute for being merciful to a thirsty dog. While other Muslim groups may not share this tradition, it’s not the first time that we hear of God forgiving a prostitute in the history of the Abrahamic faith. In both the Jewish and Christian Bible we hear the story of a prostitute named Rahab and you know what? She ended up doing good and God ended up forgiving her and accepting her. This is not to say that prostitution is okay or that God will just turn a blind eyes, but this does teach that sex workers are still beloved by God. God cares about them, and we should too!

I strongly encourage you to watch the Dr. Phil show that aired on March 21st, 2017 called Private Planes, Black-Tie Parties, Elite Sporting Events but this is just a very small piece of the story. This is an industry worth billions of dollars with an endless number of victims. I would also recommend watching a series called The Vanishing Women which also makes mention of the evil cycle of drugs, prostitution and helplessness. Kendall got to escape in one piece, but the women in The Vanishing Women did not. May God help the most vulnerable in our society and may we do our part to help them too.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Social Issues & Politics

Islam & Socialism (Part 3 of 3)

While Islamic economics can exist independently and separately from both capitalism and socialism, my aim is writing this is because now in secular societies we will never be able to have an “Islamic economy” so we must pick a side between the popular economic theories of day and I want to compare and contrast Islamic principles with them. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to pick a side, capitalist or socialist or otherwise, but for now let’s further look at Islamic socialism.

Zakat

One of the Five Pillars of Islam, zakāt is the practice of imposition (not charity) giving based on accumulated wealth (approximately 2.5% of all financial assets owned over the course of one lunar year). It is obligatory for all financially able Muslim adults and is considered to be an act of piety through which one expresses concern for the well-being of fellow Muslims, as well as preserving social harmony between the wealthy and the poor. Zakat promotes a more equitable redistribution of wealth and fosters a sense of solidarity amongst members of the Ummah.

Zakat is meant to discourage the hoarding of capital and stimulate investment. Because the individual must pay zakat on the net wealth, wealthy Muslims are compelled to invest in profitable ventures, or otherwise see their wealth slowly erode. Furthermore, means of production such as equipment, factories, and tools are exempt from zakat, which further provides the incentive to invest wealth in productive businesses. Personal assets such as clothing, household furniture, and one residence are not considered zakatable assets.

In the United Kingdom, according to a self-reported poll of 4000 people conducted by Zarine Kharas, Muslims today give more to charity than people of other religions. Measured in US Dollars, Muslims, on average, gave $567, compared to $412 for Jews, $308 for Protestants, $272 for Catholics and $177 for atheists. Today, conservative estimates of annual zakat are estimated to be 15 times global humanitarian aid contributions.

Welfare state

The concepts of welfare and pension were introduced in early Islamic law as forms of Zakat, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, under the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century. This practice continued well into the Abbasid era of the Caliphate. The taxes (including Zakat and Jizya) collected in the treasury of an Islamic government were used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. According to the Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali (Algazel, 1058–1111), the government was also expected to stockpile food supplies in every region in case a disaster or famine occurred. The Caliphate can thus be considered the world’s first major welfare state.

During the Rashidun Caliphate, various welfare programs were introduced by Caliph Umar. In his time, equality was extended to all citizens, even to the caliph himself, as Umar believed that “no one, no matter how important, should live in a way that would distinguish him from the rest of the people.” Umar himself lived “a simple life and detached himself from any of the worldly luxuries,” like how he often wore “worn-out shoes and was usually clad in patched-up garments,” or how he would sleep “on the bare floor of the mosque.” Limitations on wealth were also set for governors and officials, who would often be “dismissed if they showed any outward signs of pride or wealth which might distinguish them from the people.” This was an early attempt at erasing “class distinctions which might inevitably lead to conflict.” Umar also made sure that the public treasury was not wasted on “unnecessary luxuries” as he believed that “the money would be better spent if it went towards the welfare of the people rather than towards lifeless bricks.”

Umar’s innovative welfare reforms during the Rashidun Caliphate included the introduction of social security. This included unemployment insurance, which did not appear in the Western world until the 19th century. In the Rashidun Caliphate, whenever citizens were injured or lost their ability to work, it became the state’s responsibility to make sure that their minimum needs were met, with the unemployed and their families receiving an allowance from the public treasury. Retirement pensions were provided to elderly people, who had retired and could “count on receiving a stipend from the public treasury.” Babies who were abandoned were also taken care of, with one hundred dirhams spent annually on each orphan’s development. Umar also introduced the concept of public trusteeship and public ownership when he implemented the Waqf, or charitable trust, system, which transferred “wealth from the individual or the few to a social collective ownership,” in order to provide “services to the community at large.” For example, Umar brought land from the Banu Harithah and converted it into a charitable trust, which meant that “profit and produce from the land went towards benefiting the poor, slaves, and travelers.”

During the great famine of 18 AH (638 CE), Umar introduced further reforms, such as the introduction of food rationing using coupons, which were given to those in need and could be exchanged for wheat and flour. Another innovative concept that was introduced was that of a poverty threshold, with efforts made to ensure a minimum standard of living, making sure that no citizen across the empire would suffer from hunger. In order to determine the poverty line, Umar ordered an experiment to test how many seers of flour would be required to feed a person for a month. He found that 25 seers of flour could feed 30 people, and so he concluded that 50 seers of flour would be sufficient to feed a person for a month. As a result, he ordered that the poor each receive a food ration of fifty seers of flour per month. In addition, the poor and disabled were guaranteed cash stipends. However, in order to avoid some citizens taking advantage of government services, “begging and laziness were not tolerated” and “those who received government benefits were expected to be contributing members in the community.”

Further reforms later took place under the Umayyad Caliphate. Registered soldiers who were disabled in service received an invalidity pension, while similar provisions were made for the disabled and poor in general. Caliph Al-Walid I assigned payments and services to the needy, which included money for the poor, guides for the blind, and servants for the crippled, and pensions for all disabled people so that they would never need to beg. The caliphs Al-Walid II and Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz supplied money and clothes to the blind and crippled, as well as servants for the latter. This continued with the Abbasid caliph Al-Mahdi. Tahir ibn Husayn, governor of the Khurasan province of the Abbasid Caliphate, states in a letter to his son that pensions from the treasury should be provided to the blind, to look after the poor and destitute in general, to make sure not to overlook victims of oppression who are unable to complain and are ignorant of how to claim their rights, and that pensions should be assigned to victims of calamities and the widows and orphans they leave behind. The “ideal city” described by the Islamic philosophers, Al-Farabi and Avicenna, also assigns funds to the disabled.

Some notable Muslim socialists include Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his daughter Benazir Bhutto and Malala Yousafzai, among many others. Aside from everything that has been mentioned here, there are also many more socialist and Muslim socialist movements and similarities, etc. but it is simply impossible to get all of them in a small series of posts. It’s also a concept that constantly evolves as our societies advance (or face economic disasters) so this is something that will most certainly show up again at some point during the future.

While Islam balances out capitalism and socialism to ensure that good, but not excess, is available to everybody, it’s clear that in modern/secular economics Islam and socialism are very much compatible. Islam makes room for both being a socialist and not being a socialist while always making sure that everyone can have a decent quality of life and the greedy cannot exploit others for their personal gain. Now the question is, are you a socialist?

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, Social Issues & Politics

Islam & Socialism (Part 1 of 3)

Recently, one of my most devout capitalist friends decided that socialism was the way to go. In the wake of the turmoil and uncertainty brewing up around the world he said that he came to the conclusion that socialism is inevitably needed if society is going to remain afloat. He gave me his list of reasons for believing that and then asked me the big question we’ll be discussing today: Does Islam believe in socialism?

socialism

This is not a yes or no question for several reasons. First there is no fixed definition of socialism because it can take on many forms and has also varied considerably throughout the ages. The term is thrown around so much nowadays that it can literally mean anything from fascism to progressivism but the general definition of socialism according to Merriam-Webster is this:

Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

A quick internet search of “types of socialism” will give you endless examples; communism, democratic socialism, libertarian socialism, social anarchism, syndicalism, international socialism, market socialism, state socialism, Marxist Communism, Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Maoism, Dengism, Prachanda Path, Hoxhaism, Titoism, Eurocommunism, Luxemburgism, Council communism, Left-Communism, National Socialism, Left Anarchism, European Communism, Juche Communism, Primitive Communism, Religious Communism, International Communism, and there are far more since each political party seems to have their own ideas as to how socialism should be practiced under their current circumstances and despite their vast differences, all fall back under the umbrella of socialism. The Wikipedia page for Socialism will also give you several examples throughout history.

So which one is it? If I had to compare Islam to all of these theories I would probably be 80 by the time I am done! The better question to ask is this: Is Islam compatible with socialism? The answer is yes. There is very much a thing called Islamic socialism and aside from that, Islamic economic principles have much in common with the general principles of socialism whichever form it may take. There is considerable debate today regarding how an economic theory developed 1400+ years ago when Islam first began can still be relevant today since things have changed so much since then and let’s face it, things were so much simpler back then.

It would be erroneous to say that Islam is a socialist religion since Islam has it’s own laws regarding economics, but we can certainly say that Islam and socialism are mutually compatible. Islam is not against the ownership of private property, which some forms of socialism deny completely while others are somewhat more lenient. However, some anti-capitalist overtones that Islam has regarding this matter is that is opposes a large concentration of wealth in the hands of a select few. It’s unfortunate that today capitalism has turned into severe greed where the superior economic class will gladly exploit the lower economic classes to enrich themselves and that is completely contrary to the economic principles of Islam. Let’s look at some of the similarities between Islam and socialism:

  • Islam stands for the state-ownership of such “means of production” as the mineral wealth, thus eliminating from its society the steel-barons and the oil-magnates.
  • Islam prohibits usury and interest in all forms. All students of economics know that the greatest impetus which Capitalism receives today is from the modern system of Banking which functions on the basis of interest. Islam does not permit the rate of interest to rise above zero and conceives the Bank primarily as the medium of commercial transactions.
  • Islam condemns the hoarding of capital in very strong terms. It imposes a fairly heavy tax on all capital, above a certain minimum standard, for the benefit of the less fortunates.
  • Among all the systems of Law, the Islamic law of inheritance is the most anti-capitalistic. It stands for the distribution of inherited wealth among the largest number of persons on the basis of the widest margin of relationship.
  • From the ultimate point of view, Islam regards the interest of the society above the interest of the individual.
  • Islam makes it an obligation of the Islamic state to provide for the basic necessities of life, including such ‘modem necessities’ as health services and free education, for all of its citizens. With that end in view Islam levies a Social Insurance Tax on all persons possessing more than a certain minimum of wealth.
  • Islam stands for free trade. It is averse to monopolies and favours the participation of the largest number of people in commerce, for which it advocates the creation of Mutual Alliance Societies—Islam’s substitute for Capitalistic Banking.
  • In the field of industry, Islam’s ideal is the creation of the “Co-operative Guilds of Workers” where all forms of exploitation as well as unrest and bad blood are eliminated.

Islam, however, does allow private enterprise in industry even as it allows private trade. But then it propounds a socialistic principle of wages. In that connection: 1) It gives freedom to the wage-earner to fix his wages at whatever reasonable level he desires. Simultaneously with this prerogative it safeguards the wage-earner against all possible harm which the ‘capitalist’ might do to him by closing the doors of livelihood, and for that purpose it creates a fund for the maintenance by the state of all unemployed wage-earners; and 2) The standard of wages which Islam has ordered all the Muslim employers to adhere to is that in which the employee gets the “same to eat” which the employer eats and the “same to wear” which the employer wears. That means equalisation of economic status between the employer and the employee in the basic necessities of life.

With that said, being a Muslim doesn’t automatically make you a socialist but you can be both a Muslim and a socialist at the same time. Socialism is a mode of production (i.e. economic system) where the means of production (i.e. economic resources) are owned collectively by society. It is the opposite of capitalism where economic resources are controlled by a capitalist elite. From this definitions we understand that one can belong to any religion or not belong to any religion and be a capitalist or a socialist.