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Topics - HOPE

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1
General Discussions / Marula
« on: March 16, 2018, 06:37:13 PM »
Salaam all,

3:59 the likeness of Isa is like the likeness of Adam.  they are not a creation of miraculous births but are created from earthly materials.  God says Kun/BE and FAYAKUNU and” it Was”  is the translation because Adam was assumed to be a single guy.  In 3:47 when Mary objects to the idea of having a child, the angel uses the same term but this time it is translated as ‘when God says Be, then it becomes’.  Thus God's command covers all time periods. As Adam representing human species, it has been created, is being created  and will be created as long as God says KUN.

With this story of creation comes the “forbidden tree” that leads men to sin.  Several interpretations have been offered regarding the kind of tree.  It is a possibility that humans emerged  in a garden full of trees in Africa.  There is one particular tree in South Africa called MARULA that leads men to sin.  It’s fruit intoxicates those who eat it. 16:69 says eat all fruit  - maybe except the forbidden one. What do you think?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50tlF3kGbT4


2
Salaam all,

Is this an issue for you or should it be?

The allegations of sexual misconduct against Nouman Ali Khan and sexual assault or rape in the case of Tariq Ramadan have presented numerous challenges to Muslim communities. For a culture that so reveres scholars, arguably to a point of blind commitment, the realization that some may engage in behavior devoid of virtue and harmful to their followers was earth-shattering.

You may still find some, particularly within the social media comment threads of a Nouman Friday khutbah (sermon), who will deny the possibility of wrongdoing, victim-blame, or a commit to any number of deflections. But, if the truth is ever to surface regarding these allegations, and arguably it has in the case of Nouman Ali Khan, a very important question remains:

How do Muslims view the works and scholarship of these scholars in light of personal and/or public scandal?

This question of what to do with their work is profoundly personal, as I consider how Ramadan’s scholarship impacted my growth as a Muslim. I remember sitting anxiously in a crowded conference hall at an ICNA convention nearly five years ago, waiting to hear the enlightened words of Professor Ramadan. I thought of Ramadan as being leagues ahead of all the other scholars in attendance, and I was itching to ask some entirely esoteric question about his wrestling with the works of Foucault or Nietzsche as a person of faith.

So, whereas I was less impacted by the allegations against Nouman Ali Khan, the allegations against Ramadan hit much closer to home.

Both scholars spoke/wrote extensively on Islamic ethics, which makes the allegations even more troublesome. How are we to take knowledge of ethics and virtues from individuals who may have acted in vile and abusive ways? Is the scholarship produced by Khan and Ramadan inextricably linked to them as individuals? Or, is there a way we can benefit from the knowledge they produced while still acknowledging their alleged wrongdoings?

The Christian world has faced this dilemma as well, and we might learn from some of the ways in which Christians managed their own instances of scholarly abuse.

John Howard Yoder was a renown Mennonite theologian and ethicist throughout the 20th century, who wrote seminal works of Christian politics and ethics. Yoder also sexually harassed many of his female Mennonite students under the guise of an “experiment in human sexuality.” As the extent of Yoder’s abuse became evident, Christians struggled to determine how his monumental scholarship should be handled going forward.

Stanley Hauerwas, Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law at Duke University, was greatly indebted to Yoder’s work and found it difficult to imagine Christian peace ethics without Yoder’s contributions. However, Hauerwas has also said that he could only use Yoder’s work “with an asterisk,” noting that Yoder’s thought should never be considered without mention of Yoder’s behavior.

Others would argue that it is precisely Yoder’s thought that lends itself to a patriarchal world, and thus Yoder’s work should be condemned along with his actions.

In the aftermath of the Nouman Ali Khan allegations, intense debate ensued on social media threads as some followers sought a compromise that would allow them to take a portion of his knowledge as acceptable while disregarding his talk of gender relations. Interestingly enough, Khan’s understanding of gender relations is quite popular, being shared by other well-known scholars like Omar Suleiman.

Whether critic or supporter, few have questioned whether his ideas on gender and sexual ethics may have actually contributed to his behavior, though it should not be overlooked that his insistence on segregation may actually produce a hyper-sexualized environment.

In this way, critiques of Yoder’s thought as patriarchal and revealing of a deeper psychological neglect may very well be analogous to Khan’s lectures about, particularly his disparaging views on the inevitably nefarious nature of men and their desires towards women.

Just as Hauerwas struggled to reconcile the knowledge of Yoder’s actions with the significant influence Yoder played in his own life as a scholar, countless Muslims are wrestling with their feelings towards Khan and Ramadan. Personally, I will continue to reflect upon the ideas of Ramadan, though adopting the “asterisk” approach is the least I can do if he is found guilty of the allegations against him.

Likewise, for those who continue to cite Nouman Ali Khan as inspiration and motivation, it would do good to reflect on how his thought may be linked to his behavior. At the very least, we should remind ourselves of the fragility of placing too much trust in the hands of imperfect human beings.

In that way, we not only keep faith in the value of a virtuous life inspired by the Prophet Muhammad (saw), but we also hold to high standards those who seek to claim the mantle of expertise in his ways.

Charles M. Turner’ 
is a PhD student in Political Science at the University of Utah,


3
General Discussions / 58:12 charity vs truthfulness
« on: December 30, 2017, 06:35:32 PM »
Peace,

58:12  O you who believe! When you (want to) consult the Messenger in private, spend something in charity before your private consultation.

58:13  Are you afraid of spending in charity before your private consultation (with him)? If then you do it not, and Allah has forgiven you, then (at least) perform As-Salat and give Zakat and obey Allah

9:60 charities are for the poor the needy, those who collect, those in debt, freeing slaves, those in the way of Allah, wayfarer

36:21 follow those men who do not ask you any payment


why sadaka is required before private consultation with the Prophet?

SDQ is the opposite of  KZB = to lie, to disclaim

sadaqa  means to be truthful, to fulfill
to accept truth, to admit, to confirm, to believe
to give charity

taṣdīq muṣaddiq

 why not use the other meanings?

Before scheduling a meeting in private show your sincerity, truthfulness  This has universal meaning.  But if ulterior motives are in play then 58:13 makes sense

Hope


4
General Discussions / 5:38 how many hands?
« on: December 30, 2017, 04:45:04 PM »
Peace,

I'm confused about the number of hands involved.
yad  one hand
yada two hands
aydiya three plus hands

verse mentions  male and female thieves thus plural usage may apply to them but the verse says
Aydiya humā   three plus hands of both (dual)
Aydiyahumā  both their three hands ? literal understanding of this word does not make sense so maybe it should be understood metaphorically  since Aydiya  also means power, strength like in verses
38:17 And remember Our servant, David, the man of strength.
38:45 men of power and insight
51:47  We constructed with strength,


‘KataA  physical cut  meaning used twice only 12:31, 7:124
others are used metaphorically
2:27 sever that which Allah has ordered to be joined
6:45 the roots of the people who were unjust were cut off
7:72  We cut off the roots of those who rejected Our signs
9:121 cross/cut/yaqṭaʿūna wādiyan
10:27 qiṭaʿan pieces
11:81 biqiṭ’ʿin
13:4  qiṭaʿun  tracks
13:25 yaqṭaʿūna
22:15 l’yaqṭaʿ
27:32 qāṭiʿatan
29:29  wataqṭaʿūna
56:33 supply will not be cut off

What do you think?

Salam


5
Salam all,
I am sure God will judge Today's Muslims for the same reasons plus blindly supporting Erdogan the mushrik, the thief, the corrupter on land and sea.  What happened to the "Enjoin good and Forbid evil" rule?    Here is the article I like to share.

History Will Judge Today’s Christians According To These 4 Questions
Stephen Mattson


You can look back in history and criticize Christians for failing to follow Jesus during some of the world’s darkest moments, but today’s Christians will also be judged according to their actions, and here are four moral questions facing today’s Christians:

1. In the midst of a historically horrible refugee crisis, why didn’t you actively pursue helping the poor, the destitute, and those in desperate need?

Matthew 25: 34-40: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Jeremiah 22: 3-5: Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.
Are followers of Jesus supposed to forsake compassion, sacrifice hospitality, and abandon love in favor of a political policy, national security, financial stability, and personal comfort? God is perfectly clear what the mandate is for helping those in need, and yet Christians continue to remain apathetic, passive, and even aggressively hostile toward the notion of aiding such victims.
How could you promote a gospel of hope, peace, joy, and love while simultaneously supporting restrictive policies preventing people from possibly obtaining these exact things by denying them entrance into a safe haven, and why would you go one step further by punitively deporting people back into circumstances of poverty and violence?

2. Why didn’t you recognize and fight systemic racism and inequality?

James 2:9: But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
Proverbs 17:15: He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
1 John 2:9: Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
For a faith that promotes the virtues of justice, equality, and fairness — especially for those who are ostracized and mistreated — why didn’t you help the victims of systemic racism, abuse, and oppression?
How could you ignore — and even criticize — a large segment of humanity that’s being victimized by authorities, institutionally incarcerated, professionally repressed, governmentally mistreated, educationally stifled, financially subjugated, and socially rejected?
Massive abuse on an epic scale was being systemically waged against people simply based on their race and gender, and what did you do? You had a chance to be on the forefront of a civil rights movement — fueled by a righteous and holy God who despises corruption, unjust scales, exploitation, bigotry, and racism. Why didn’t you desperately and passionately call upon God in such times, why didn’t you publicly condemn such evil, and why didn’t you act to right such blatant wrongs?

3. Why were you so supportive of national agendas associated with violence, destruction and death?

Matt. 26:52-54: Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

Psalm 11:5: The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence,
Since you represent a God that died for humanity, how could you actively participate in national agendas that so actively killed, hurt, and neglected humanity? You destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives through militaristic actions and wars that offered little peace, resolution, or stability.
You watched — and even turned a blind eye — as your governments violently intervened throughout the world and selfishly, fearfully, and hatefully supplied weapons, technology, and the means to miserably kill, eradicate, and create humanitarian tragedies across the globe on an unparalleled scale.
What moral gain was won? What specific need or goal was so vital that it necessitated such outrageous and rampant death? Church, Christians living in the year 2016, please answer these questions and explain yourselves.

4. Why did you crave martial, economic and political power when God has already warned you against putting faith in such foolish and temporary things?

Matthew 16:26: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

1 Peter 2:11-12: Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
Do you not trust in God’s sovereignty that you must devote all of your time, energy, and resources into supporting a candidate, a political party, and making sure you’re pursuing more wealth, fortune, protection, and influence?
You boasted of a countercultural gospel and yet fell into the same pitfalls of countless civilizations before you: a desire for carnal power, personal safety, comfort, luxury, fame, and wealth.
You divisively judged, shamed, alienated, hurt, slandered, and attacked others under the banner of “Christian morals,” all in an effort to gain additional political clout and control.
Have you lost so must faith in God’s promises that you’ve abandoned the ways of Jesus for the ways of a worldly empire? Are you so ashamed of identifying with a Divine God who died on a cross that you would rather align yourselves with oppressors, war-mongers, and corrupt rulers?

The good news is that these questions are still in the process of being answered, and God can still greatly be glorified by how we serve the world around us. By focusing on Christ and refusing to become co-opted by ulterior motives, modern Christianity can leave a mark on history that can show what millions of believers can do together in the name of Jesus — helping, serving, protecting, and loving everyone!

Our world isn’t without hope because Jesus is alive, and the Holy Spirit can empower us to be the change we’re so desperately in need of. God help us.

6
Islamic Duties / Glorification vs Salat
« on: May 08, 2015, 10:41:40 PM »
 Salaam all,

Brother Joseph writes, “ As can be clearly seen, not only are the 5 daily prayers mentioned but we also note the periods that the prayers correspond to”. 

I was reading the salaat verses today and  found only two names  mentioned in 24:58 as Salaatil-Fajri and Salaatil-‘Ishaa.  The rest of the time periods mentioned in the Quran are for the glorification of God and one time for privacy. See 30:17, 40:55, 33:42, 76:26, 20:130, 52:49 

 11:114 Iqamatas-Salaat is the terminology used for performing the ritual, although we do glorify God in the Salaat twice in each raqat.

" Subhaan Allahi Wal Hamdulillahi Wa Laa ilaha illal Laahu Wallahu Akbar “ is this the tasbeeh that we need to say the rest of the time periods mentioned? 

Per Quran, do we have two salat  and five tasbeeh times?  What other ways can we do the glorification?

Peace

7
Discussions / Sheath your Sword
« on: March 26, 2015, 08:55:48 PM »
Peace and Salam to all,

Wanted to share with you 'again' another article for deep reflection!  It is written by brother Omid Safi. He is the Director of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center.  I am hoping you you will enjoy and reflect as much as I did.


"I’m drawn to saintly beings. It’s taken me sometime to figure out why. It’s not about miracles. It’s about heart.
I know that these luminous human beings are still human beings, but I want to figure out how they have become illuminated. I am intrigued by how they struggle with the same urges, desires, hopes, and dreams that we all have — and how that can help all of us figure out how to live more beautifully.

In sorting out these questions, I’ve been searching Rumi’s poetry. One story that really speaks to me is the story of the man who spat on a great saint’s face. I’ve been teaching Rumi’s masterpiece, the Masnavi, to a class this month. The book is in many ways a roadmap of spiritual growth. It begins with the condition of so many of us: being broken, homesick, cut off, alone, down and out, and unsure of our own worth. The narrative moves through the purification of the heart, the cleansing experience of love, before moving to the state of being a real human being.

The story that the Masnavi tells is the path that all of us have to go through, moving from brokenness to healing, from spiritually feeling worthless and cut off to being wholehearted. That is the whole goal of the spiritual path: not divinity, but full humanity.

In Rumi’s telling, that state is represented by the saintly Imam Ali, a chivalrous knight who met a mighty warrior, a mountain of man, in a duel. The two engaged in traditional wrestling, until Ali picked up the mountainous warrior, threw him to the ground, and was ready to vanquish him.  The pagan warrior, flustered and humiliated at having been defeated, spat on Ali’s face. Ali calmly got up from the defeated warrior’s chest, put his sword back in his sheath, and walked away. Here’s how Rumi tells the tale:

Learn how to act sincerely from Ali, 
God’s lion, free from all impurity: 
During a battle, he subdued a foe

. Then drew his sword to deal the final blow.
 That man spat in Ali’s pure face, the pride 
of every saint and prophet far and wide. 
The moon prostrates itself before this face
, at which he spat — this act was a disgrace!
Ali put down his saber straight away
And, though he was on top, he stopped the fray.
 The fighter was astonished by this act, 

That he showed mercy though he’d been attacked.  The pagan warrior, puzzled, inquired from Ali why he had not finished him. Ali explains that everything he had done up until that point had been for the sake of God. When the warrior spat on his face, Ali got angry. If he were to kill the warrior, it would not be for the sake of God, but as a response to his own anger.

What Rumi is revealing is that the real measure of power is not about brute force, not the ability to lift mountainous weights, but rather the ability to control one’s own impulses. Perhaps “control” doesn’t quite do it. Control implies too much a relationship based on opposition, pushing down, and fighting. It’s more like skillfully channeling one’s ego.  As Rumi says, if the measure of a human being were simply about power, then elephants would be more human than humans! Rather, the model of humanity is to strive in the path of God, yet to channel away one’s selfish desires so that one can be imbued with divine attributes. If we don’t cleanse the cup of our hearts first, it’s like having a muddy cup in which we keep pouring fine tea. The mud does not disappear, but it doesn’t have to be in our cup. I wonder if anger and lust work like this: the only place that they can be dangerous is in our hearts. Channeled away, they are defused.

Ali’s model is not one of pacifism, per se, as it is one in which even fighting is sanctioned as striving (literally: jihad) in the path of God, provided it is not inspired by hatred, anger, or passion. Let’s return to Rumi’s telling of the story, with the champion Ali putting his sword away:  He said, I use my sword the way God’s planned
Not for my body but by God’s command;
I am God’s lion, not the one of passion
— My actions testify to my religion: . . .  Rumi then has Ali say that he is the real mountain of a man, and not some piece of straw who is going to be blown here and there by the “winds” of his passions:

I am a mountain, God’s my solid base,
Like straw I’m blown just by thought of His face;
My longing changes once His wind has blown,
My captain is the love of Him alone.

Here is the mystic, active in this world, even on behalf of justice, “blown just by the thought” of God’s face. We are all moved in life. I wonder what moves us? Is it ego? Greed? Anger? Lust? Desire? Or God’s face?

There is something about this narrative, about Ali’s behavior, that I find awfully assuring. The complete human being, the realized human, the saint Ali still experiences passions. He still struggles with anger. But anger doesn’t have to move him to action. I am relieved to know that the full human being is still dealing with the same emotions and passions that all of us struggle with, perhaps with the difference that he or she can pause and let these emotions pass through them without being acted upon. Perhaps this is what it means to be a fully realized human being, to know one’s own heart and soul well enough to be able to channel these emotions away from the home that should be filled by Spirit.  Had the full human somehow been bereft of these emotions, I would have been tempted to give up, to think that these luminous souls belong to some other realm of existence, a place that we, the rest of us, cannot go to. But no, even the saint still has to deal with these emotions.

There is one last chapter in the story that has a lot of relevance for today’s world. As Ali and the fallen warrior continue their dialogue, indeed their friendship, Ali reveals one last secret to his former foe, his new friend. He talks about the deepest reason why he was unable to kill the defeated warrior. Ali, the saint, says that he looked at the warrior through the glance of compassion, and saw his own humanity reflected in his former foe. Ali saw the fallen warrior as himself.  Addressing the fallen warrior by his own name (Ali), Ali says:

Illustrious one, I am you and you are 
Ali, how could I cause Ali to die!



I wonder about our own world.
I wonder about so many of us, alone.
I wonder about the enmity in our families, anonymity in our workspaces, tension in our communities.
I wonder about war, occupation, poverty, racism.
I wonder if we are willing to commit ourselves to this path — cleansing our hearts of ego, of lust, of anger.
I wonder if we are ready to do so as individuals, do so as communities, do so as nations.
I wonder if we are willing to put our swords (airplanes, tanks, bombs) back in their sheath.
I wonder if we are ready to look at each other in the eye, and see our own humanity reflected in one another.

If we do, when we do, we would be fully human. And then, just maybe, divinity would be fully present."


Peace


8
Discussions / wahabism
« on: February 20, 2015, 07:25:26 PM »

Peace,

I'm sharing with you the open letter to the Saudi King by Ani to curb the Wahabi ideology to save Muslim lives

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/2/open-letter-to-saudi-king-salman-bin-abdul-aziz.html#

9
Discussions / LOVE
« on: February 14, 2015, 04:17:36 PM »
Salam all,

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saint Valentine, God, and Godiva

By Inas Younis


The first rule of love is, “marriage is no real excuse for not loving.” Rule number two, “he who is not jealous cannot love.” And lastly, “when made public, love rarely endures.” Translation; love your spouse, be jealous, don’t tell anyone.

Those were the love rules according to 12th century author of The Art of Courtly Love,  Andreas Capellanus.  Nowadays, love is not to be hidden but to be heavily advertised, so much so that we have codified our public displays of affection in the form of a holiday, popularly known as Valentine’s Day.

I believe that love and lust are constants. They do not increase or decrease depending on a particular time in history. They merely go in or come out of the proverbial closet. In the 12th century, people were far more secretive about romantic love and for good reason. Love of the flesh was considered incompatible to spiritual growth. People who shun romantic love, did so to demonstrate their commitment to God. But thank God, this is no longer the conventional wisdom.

Modern man has not only codified love but has quantified it. How much do you love me, let me count the ways: a car, a house, a cashmere blouse. Love’s currency is clear. We are obsessed with measurable values because we want to ensure that even our relationships become an asset and not a liability.

But employing a quantifiable standard of measurement for love is as worthless a standard of measurement as counting the number of prostrations a man makes to measure his commitment to God. The consequence of our commoditization of romance is universally apparent.

These days, when a man says he is on a quest for love, you can be sure that it is self-esteem he is after, which he discovers in three sizes, 2, 4, and 6. And when a woman says she is on a quest for love, be sure its self-esteem she is about to betray, which she does via Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.  As French writer Andre Maurois once noted, “An unsatisfied woman requires luxury, but a woman who is in love with a man will lie on a board.”

He speaks the truth, but do not thank God for romantic love’s depreciation in value. Thank modern day’s prominent psychologist and author, Erich Fromm, who wrote the following description of love in his book, The Art of Loving:

“The sense of falling in love develops usually only with regard to such human commodities as are within reach of one’s own possibilities for exchange…..The object should be desirable from the standpoint of its social value..”
And then he goes on to say that people should fall in love:
“When they feel they have found the best object available on the market, considering the limitations of their own exchange values.”

And when a woman says she is on a quest for love, be sure its self-esteem she is about to betray, which she does via Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

Eric Fromm essentially reduced love to a business transaction by assigning man a market value. And apparently he is not the only one who is cynical about love. A group in Japan is planning a protest in Tokyo on Valentine’s Day 2015, complaining that it’s just a money making ploy by “oppressive chocolate capitalists.” And the Saudis, who were the first to chime in on this matter,  banned the color red, and sent out the religious police to chocolate stores,  warning their proprietors against selling anything red or heart shaped which might be linked to the annual pagan holiday, Valentine’s Day.

So why is love so controversial and what exactly is romantic love?
Romantic love is the most intense emotion one can experience. It is an affirmation of one’s spiritual values, because only a person with spiritual values can recognize value in another. Sure, there are values in the secular realm, one can value hard work, money and status, and there is nothing wrong with having those values so long as they exist as a natural extension of one's religious values and not in opposition to them. A person with spiritual values does not permit an intense biological need to override a mild psychological distaste. A person with spiritual values would rather be alone than desperate, and would choose deprivation over desensitization.

And once a man of this caliber finds love, he can and will, face down the world and conquer it (metaphorically speaking) all in defense of the object of his desire. Because in defending her, he is defending his own values which he realizes can have no meaning without this particular, specific, irreplaceable person in his life. And this is what love in action looks like, which is the only way one can define love. Love as an abstraction is relative and therefore meaningless.


A group in Japan is planning a protest in Tokyo on Valentine’s Day 2015, complaining that it’s just a money making ploy by “oppressive chocolate capitalists.”

Apparently St. Valentine agrees with me. There are many convoluted accounts of the origins of Valentine’s Day,  but for the benefit of making my point more clearly, I am going to stick to the most widely held version of the story of Saint Valentine, which goes something like this:
Once upon a time, Claudius the Roman emperor, made a decision to ban marriage among young people because he concluded that unmarried soldiers fight better than married ones.  With the Roman Empire in danger of falling, he was not about to take any chances with love getting in the way. And so a priest named Valentine enters the scene with the explicit mission to save romantic love. He believed that marriage is a God given right and a holy sacrament, and so he decides to start officiating marriages in secret. He is eventually found out, imprisoned and beheaded. Saint Valentine, a celibate priest, gave his life to preserve the sanctity of love as an emotion worthy of being framed within the sacred vows of marriage. He thought more about the value of love than he did of an entire Empire.

Will you be my Valentine might have been a code for will you marry me. But today’s code words for love come courtesy of Hallmark and a man who wants to really nourish his emotions might feel cheapened by the psychological coercions and pressure to make a public display of his feelings.
Surely, there are values in the secular realm, one can value hard work, money and status, and there is nothing wrong with having those values so long as they exist as a natural extension of one's religious values and not in opposition to them.

Are we not cheapening the value of love by publicizing it?  Is 12th century Andreas Capellanus right about not telling anyone?  Love should be private, because romantic love is sacred and rare. It should be hidden, not because there is something to hide but because love is something worth preserving.  People used to risk their lives to make love, now we risk the potential and possibility of love to make a life; a proper socially acceptable life, preferably the kind that fits in a box; just like Godiva chocolates.

As for whether or not we should celebrate Valentines Day, there is no right or wrong answer.  Most Muslims and Jews give mixed views ranging from an active renunciation of anything which has religious connotations, to celebrating it with all the enthusiasm of teenage heart throbs.  And although there is really no biblical basis for Valentine’s Day, many Christians celebrate it the way they would any other national holiday.

So in 2015, rather than use the ‘everyday is Valentine’s day’ loophole, tell her a bedtime story. Remind her that once upon a time, a saint named Valentine risked his life so that people in love can be together. And so, commemorate the day not by replaying the flowers and chocolate routine but by praying together and long live love!

11
Discussions / Mawlid
« on: January 02, 2015, 05:56:25 PM »

Peace,

The Mawlid and how the Muslims in different countries interpret the occasion.  I find the following piece very informative.

http://www.onbeing.org/blog/the-celebration-of-mawlid-the-birthday-of-the-prophet/7174

12
Discussions / My Job is Obedience
« on: January 02, 2015, 03:45:59 AM »
Salaam all.

Best wishes to all in the New Year!  I am sharing with you a challenging situation that most of us have probably experienced before in one way or another.  Were we able to transcend our judgments?

“I was stopped at a red light when I saw a woman with a cardboard sign. Her sign read: “Help me please. God bless.”

Suddenly, I was struggling with what exactly I should do in that moment. One part of me warned, if you give her money, she’ll buy alcohol and drugs. Don’t enable this woman. It’s probably a scam.

The other part of me said, Lysa, your job is obedience. Just give and trust God with the rest. Even if she is doing something wrong with the money, don’t you think God can still use your act of kindness for good?

The traffic started to move, and I had to make a decision. I quickly handed a few dollars out the window with a smile. In that brief instant, I was able to look her directly in the eyes. I knew I’d made the right choice!” - Lysa TerKeurst

Peace

13
Prophets and Messengers / parallelism between Isa and Yahya
« on: December 23, 2014, 08:58:48 PM »
Salaam Joseph and all,

"Peace was on me the day I was born, and will be on me the day I die and the day I am raised to life again" says Isa 19:33.  Similar wording in 19:15 for  Yahya.  What about the other prophets and messengers?  I can rationalize it for Isa for his 'virgin peaceful "conception and peaceful death without the crucifixion.  What is Isa's connection to Yahya  in terms of birth and death?

Thanks

14
Discussions / Playing God
« on: December 21, 2014, 04:38:21 PM »
THE LINE BETWEEN MAN AND GOD


There is a line separating man from God that should never be crossed. For when it is, hell breaks loose. We witnessed hell today in Pakistan. One hundred and thirty two children slaughtered in a barbaric attack on a school.

This time the line was crossed by Taliban – a serial offender. They gloatingly accepted full responsibility, adding that the children were murdered in response to Pakistan army’s offensive against them. One might question such logic. After all there are rules, even in war. Rules set by the very religion the Taliban profess to follow. Civilians are off-limits. The children for sure.

But such logic matters not. For when you have crossed the line, you are no longer subject to constraints put on men. You are “god” now – judge, jury and the executioner – all rolled into one. The Taliban want to impose “shariah”. We can never know what that means, except to know that it means whatever the Taliban want it to mean. Murdering children could be kosher, if “the god” Taliban so decides. We better submit, or our head could be next.

There is a word in the western world for crossing the line between man and God. It is called Fascism, and the line-crossers are known as Fascists. But we in Pakistan know them through more honorific titles such as Maulana, Allama and Mashaikh – or even Generals and Prime Ministers.

Yes, make no mistake. The Taliban are not the first to cross the line between man and God. In fact, they are really one of the last to join this habitual pastime of Pakistani elite.

The line was first breached by Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974 who, flanked by every political party and religious scholar, set out to determine who was a true Muslim and who wasn’t. General Zia took this initiative to the next level by inventing his own “divine laws” that prescribed precise penalties for a wide range of “blasphemous” acts.

The following generation of leaders, both within the army and beyond, became even bolder. Why not just decentralize the whole business of trespassing on God’s territory, they thought. Thus you no longer had to head the parliament, or be a General to decide “god’s will”. Anyone with the right length of beard could do it. The subtleties of law and due process were no longer a hindrance.

A local cleric would declare some poor Christians “blasphemous”, and they could be lynched, burnt alive, or their entire community set on fire. The cleric and his mob would never face justice. And if the “accused” Christian somehow managed to save her life, she would surely be picked up by police and banished behind bars for years to come.

Before the Taliban butchered our children in Peshawar, there was a Talibanesque mob in Gujranwala that went to punish the “heretic” Ahmadis. They locked up women, and children as young as 8 months old, inside a room before setting it on fire. The whole episode was video-taped with exuberant men chanting religious slogans. The government looked the other way because the “god” was on their side.  

This begs the question. Why blame the Taliban alone when so many in Pakistan are quick to impose divine punishment upon others? But let us not try to answer this question any more.
It is not easy to bury one’s own children. Not so many. And not so regularly. We must put an end to this. We must do the unthinkable. We must redraw the line between man and God in Pakistan, and promise never to breach it again.

This means getting rid of all discriminatory laws in Pakistan. All laws where the state interferes in matters of faith. It means getting rid of all blasphemy laws. The question is not whether Aasia Bibi committed blasphemy or not. The question is why should there be such a question in the first place.

We must respect the line between man and God. Let us all admit that there is no god, except God. May our children rest in peace.

Atif Mian

15
Discussions / Gender Equality in the Quran I
« on: December 20, 2014, 12:47:14 AM »
Salaam all,

Like to share with you a great article by Dr. Rehman

Gender Equality in the Holy Qur’an – In the Beginning Man and Woman Were Equal

Epigraph:
“But whoso does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter Heaven, and shall not be wronged even as much as the little hollow in the back of a date-stone.” (Al Qur’an 4:125)

Written by Dr. Lutf ur Rehman. Nashville, USA

With the advent of modern education and inclusion of women in the workforce over the last two centuries, the patriarchal nature of societies is also in a state of flux. Over the course of human history, men have dominated the role of leadership in these societies. Even today a great majority of human population lives in this arrangement. It worked well when physical strength was an asset. Most of the work was done manually and fighting in the army required physical strength. Men had a great advantage over women in this area. Therefore the societies were aligned to suit their interests. Women were assigned to a subservient role and were mostly confined to home and domestic work. Over the course of human history this role of women – rearing children and caring for the home and her husband – became their normal function in the society. They were not included in the affairs of men and were considered inferior in many ways. Men literally owned their women like livestock and property. Women had no rights – their fate was decided by the word and wishes of their men. They were not given education, had no say in their marriage, could not own property, and required permission of their men folk to do anything in their lives. Any woman who would not follow such norms in the society was punished and sometimes even killed by her own father, brother or husband, and it was considered honorable for men to do so. Political and religious systems were often used to perpetuate such oppression of women.

Christian Arab writer, Norma Khouri noted, honor killings originate from the belief that a woman’s chastity is the property of her family, a cultural norm that comes “from our ancient tribal days, from the Hammurabi and Assyrian tribes of 1200 B.C.”  Matthew A. Goldstein, J.D. (Arizona), has also noted that honor killings were encouraged in ancient Rome, where male family members who did not take actions against the female adulterers in their family were “actively persecuted.”[ii] The Roman law of ‘pater familias’ gave complete control to the men of the family for both their children and wives. Under these laws, the lives of children and wives were at the sole discretion of the men in their family.

In the sixth century Arabia, men were ashamed if a daughter was born in their household. Many who considered themselves courageous and brave would bury their daughters after their birth to get rid of the shame. The practice was considered honorable. Qays bin Asim, ancient leader of Banu Tamim is credited by some historians as the first to kill children on the basis of honor. It is recorded that he murdered all of his daughters to prevent them from ever causing him any kind of dishonor. This is the time which was called the time of ignorance or “Jahiliyyah” by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). He brought a message which was forward looking, open minded and based upon principals of justice for all – men and women. Holy Qur’an is the Word of God and a lasting source of guidance for all Muslims for all times.

Let us examine if Qur’an accepts or prescribes an inferior role for women?

Creation
Qur’an uses the word khalaqa to describe creation. Khalaqa means to create, to bring something into existence from a state of non-existence. The account of creation in the Qur’an also makes it clear that the creation happened in several steps and not all at once:

Just recall the time when your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am going to create a human of clay: (primordial soup) when I perfect it in every way (evolution), and blow into it of my ruh (spiritual awareness), all of you should bow down before it.’ (Al Qur’an 38: 72-73)

Qur’an addresses many aspects of creation in different verses. If we look at the creation of human beings, Qur’an does not tell us if man was created before the woman or if woman was created from man thus implying an inferior status as part is not equal to the whole. Qur’an does not say that Adam was the first man. It also does not say that Eve was created from Adam’s rib. These concepts have come to us from the Bible:

And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (Genesis 2:21-22)

There are some Ahadith which tell us that Eve was created from man’s rib but all of them are considered weak as their sources are weak and all originated from one person, Ibn Abbas. The content (matn) of these Ahadith is also in contradiction to Qur’anic version of creation. Therefore these Ahadith are best disregarded.

Then there are some other Ahadith where women are compared with the shape of a rib or derived from a rib. Some are mentioned in Bokhari and Muslim, the two most influential Hadith collections in Sunni Islam. One such hadith is quoted here:
‘Abd al-’Aziz related to us that he was reporting on the authority of ‘Abd Allah who said: Malik had told us that he was reporting on the authority of Abu Zinad who was reporting on the authority of al-A’raj who was reporting on the authority of Abu Hurairah (with whom may Allah be pleased) who said: Allah’s Rasul (may peace be on him) said:The woman is like a rib, if you try to straighten her, she will break. So if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some crookedness. (Bokhari)

With regards to the isnad (list of transmitters) the following may be noted: All these ahadith are cited on the authority of Abu Hurairah, a Companion who was regarded as controversial by many early Muslim scholars, including Imam Abu Hanifah (A.D. 700-767),founder of the largest Sunni school of law (fiqh). All six of such ahadith in Bokhari and Muslim are gharib (the lowest grade of hadith classification) because they contain a number of transmitters who were single reporters. All of these six ahadith are da’if (weak) because they have a number of unreliable transmitters. Matn (content) of these Ahadith is also contrary to Qur’anic version of creation of human beings, which we shall examine now:

O people be aware of your Lord, Who created you (humans) from a single soul (nafs) and created therefrom mates for you. (4:2)
He it is who has created you from a single soul (nafs). (7:190)
(God) created you (humans) from a single soul (nafs). (39:7)

Qur’an describes creation of human beings from a single soul – nafs – which is a gender neutral term. From this nafs, God created both man and woman.
Allah also tells us in the Qur’an that He perfected the creation of humans:
Surely We created the humankind in the best stature. (95:5)
Allah it is Who …. fashioned you , and perfected your shapes. (40:65)
Who (God) gave everything He created the best form. (32:7)
Here perfection means that God created humans exactly as He wanted to. Also a look at these verses and many others in the Qur’an make it clear that the creation did not happen all at once. The creation of humans was perfected over time, pointing towards evolution. One of the names of God is “Musawwir,” meaning an artist:
He is God, The Creator, The Maker, The Fashioner (Musawwir). His are the most beautiful attributes. (Al Qur’an 59:25)

Just like an artist, God started with the basics and over time brought His creation to perfection, the process of evolution.

In the account of creation God has not assigned any superiority to one gender over the other for any reason. Qur’an describes the final step of creation as follows:

Just recall the time when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to create a human of clay: (primordial soup) when I perfect it in every way (evolution), and blow into it of my ruh (spiritual awareness), all of you should bow down before it. (Al Qur’an 38: 72-73)

Once again God put His spirit equally in man and woman.
Adam and Eve in the Garden
It is clear from Qur’anic descriptions that the Garden was never intended as the dwelling place for the humans. Allah’s plan for humans was to function in the earth as His trustee.

And when your Lord said to the angels, I am about to place a vicegerent in the earth. (Al Qur’an 2:31)

In the Garden humans had no need to struggle for the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter:
It is given unto you that you hunger not therein, neither are you naked, And you thirst not therein nor are you exposed to the sun’s heat. (Al Qur’an 20:119-120)

However in the Garden, and on earth, humans share the same test: the choice between obedience and disobedience. Allah warns Adam and Eve against approaching one of the trees in the Garden. The Qur’an does not give special attributes to the tree itself. It is merely a symbol of the test.

It is noteworthy that, with one exception, the Quran always uses the Arabic dual form to tell how Satan tempted both Adam and Eve and how they both disobeyed:
But Satan caused them both to slip and be expelled from where they resided. (Al Qur’an 2:37)

In maintaining the dual form, the Qur’an overcomes the negative Biblical and Judaic implications that the woman was the cause of evil and damnation.

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1Timothy 2:11-12)

Moreover Qur’an clearly states that individuals – men and women – are responsible for their own actions:
Upon recognition of the error that they had made, both of them (Adam and Eve) repented and asked for forgiveness. They said, ‘Our Lord we have wronged ourselves; and if You forgive us not and have not mercy on us, we shall surely be of the lost.’ (Al Qur’an 7:24)

The one exception to the Qur’anic use of the dual form to refer to the temptation and disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden, singles out Adam:
And the devil whispered to him saying: ‘O Adam! Shall I show you the tree of immortality and power that does not waste away?’ Then the two of them (Adam and his wife) ate of the fruit (of the forbidden tree), so their shame became manifest to them and they started covering themselves with leaves. And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray. (Al Qur’an 20:122)

Their Lord not only accepted their repentance and forgave them; He demonstrated a very special feature of Himself: mercy and grace. He extended to them, and to all the humans, the explicit guidance – revelation.

We can draw following guidance from this story of Adam and Eve in the Holy Qur’an.
Any human might disobey through forgetfulness, the general nature of human weakness, and the temptations of Satan, but one who recognizes his error, repents and asks for forgiveness, will be forgiven. Moreover, guidance is always available to humankind to remind them of their commitment to Allah and the guile of Satan, the enemy. This is a special mercy from their Lord. However, whoever disobeys through arrogance and intentional rebellion has been promised due punishment and eternal damnation. He is like Satan, who disobeyed and persisted in his arrogant, disobedient ways.







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