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Topics - HOPE

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16
Discussions / the role of imams in the community
« on: December 07, 2014, 01:48:55 AM »
Greetings and salam to all,

I find this article very interesting since I have never thought on the subject before.  I'd like to get your input  about the role of the imams in the West in 2015 should be.   Thanks,

Hope

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/altmuslim/2014/12/the-role-of-imams-in-the-american-muslim-community-a-growing-crisis/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=altmuslim_120614UTC021214_daily&utm_content=&spMailingID=47566694&spUserID=MTAxNzkwMTgzNTA5S0&spJobID=581078639&spReportId=NTgxMDc4NjM5S0

17
Islamic Duties / treatment of animals
« on: October 03, 2014, 02:25:17 AM »
Peace to you all,

I want to share with you two opposing views on the subject of animal sacrifice to please God. 

1.  http://www.iiph.com/blog/2-uncategorised/51-animal-sacrifice-in-islam-an-act-of-worship-not-cruelty


2.  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/anila-muhammad/animal-muslim-eid_b_1971072.html

Salaam 

18
Discussions / pristine versus mangled up Islam?
« on: September 05, 2014, 11:13:12 AM »

Peace to you all,

I enjoyed reading Mike Ghouse's blog and wanted to share it with you.

The Islam that I have studied is based on the belief that God has created the entire universe in balance and harmony (Quran 55:4-13), and that each one of us has the responsibility to manage that balance between life and environment, and the balance within (physical and spiritual) through moderation, and balance with others (religious guidance and or civil laws). Anytime that balance is off, we will witness difficulties with our body, family, society and the environment.

The Islam that I continue to learn is about respecting God and his creation, indeed, the diversity is purposeful. God has made everything to be unique with its own sustainable equilibrium. He says he has created all of us from the same couple, and has made us into many tribes, nations, faiths, races and other distinctions. He tells us that the best ones among us are those who help rather than hinder others in all that is good. He expects us to respect the otherness of others and accept the given uniqueness to each one of us; Pluralism is the word.
He wisely guides us not to compel others to think and act likes us, then says, had he wanted, he would have created all of us alike.

The Islam I have come to adore is about building cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear of the other, and if there are individuals who oppress others, we have to speak up for the sake of restoring that elusive balance, Islam is about harmony with the self, others and what surrounds us.
This is another expression of Islam from Muhammad Yunus, and Islamic scholar, "The essence of Islamic message lies in deeds, righteousness, moral awareness, community service, attaining excellence in lawful pursuit, dealing justly with all, forgiving the past enemies, and so forth."


The Islam that I have come to admire is the humility and sense of parity it imparts through its rituals. I salute God when he says, and Muhammad (pbuh) reiterates, that no prophet is above the other and no human is above the other. That alone is good for me to be a Muslim, remember arrogance kills the relationships and humility builds it. Arrogance is the root cause of all conflicts, and hence God gives a Zero to the arrogant ones until they become humble.
This concept may be difficult for Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and others alike, but we have start somewhere, and as a Muslim, I humbly submit that my religion is not superior to any religion, and all the pathways to God are beautiful and help each believer earn his grace, balance and equilibrium through it.

Mangled up Islam.

We may deny it, but the mangled up Islam exists in tandem with the pristine one, and is carried out by a tiny minority of self-proclaimed ideologues who are reckless, powerful and vocal to create a false impression that all Muslims are like them. I am sure the Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and others experience similar misrepresentations of their religions.
Where did we go wrong?

When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) initiated the inclusive Madinah Treaty, he showed us the way -- a spiritual leader can also be a civic leader and work with the people of other faiths with respect and dignity. He would not have invited Jews, Christians and others to sign the treaty, had he believed that Islam was the only way. We need to study how much of that separation between belief and state was carried forward by the rightly guided Caliphs. After them, most certainly someone mangled up the pristine Islam of inclusiveness.
The only thing our faith requires from us is to believe in the word of God and to emulate the lofty principles and conduct of the Prophet (uswatun hasana 33:21). God repeatedly asks us to use reason and gives us the freedom to question everything. Thus, we should be sane enough to question the interpretations of every one including the major Sunni and Shia Imams, scholars, jurists and their traditions (madhabs). We have never questioned them due to fears of persecution and the punitive fatwas. It is time to question all that has been dished out to us.
The authoritarian circumstances created a need to interpret the faith to suit them - a phenomenon that is intrinsic to all faiths. Scholars like Ibn Tamiyah, Ibn Kathir at the time of great violence like the Crusades and Mongol attacks and other social and political upheavals gave their personal views on civil, political and military aspects of the era. The mistake we have made is to give their word a near equivalence of Quran and the Prophet; we can judge them against historical relativism but should not regard their work as integral component of Islamic teachings. All said, we must admit that whatever their intentions might have been, the medieval scholars messed up the interpretation of Quran. Instead of building cohesive societies, they were inclined to forge exclusive authoritarian societies. A lot of their work is good, but it takes only a single drop of poison to endanger a pot full of water.

The sad interpretations
'Islam is the only way acceptable to God', while negating God's repeated guarantees that no matter what faith you follow, if you are good to your fellow beings, you'll earn his grace. 'Don't make friends with Jews and Christians' was such a blunderous interpretation, and goes against prophet's practices when he married a Jewish and a Christian woman without converting them. 'Death to anyone (apostate) who abandons Islam' goes against the very essence of Islam; that there is no compulsion in faith. There is a lot more that is not in Quran and Prophets Practices, but has crept in through a few wrong Sharia laws crippling the inclusive nature and giving birth to political Islam.

We addressed 10 out o 60 such verses in a conference that have been misinterpreted by Christian and Muslims scholars, sadly a few Muslims believe in the exclusive interpretations.
The Neocons feast on those verses, and most certainly they have not pulled the 'hateful citations' out of thin air, they are quoting the interpretations of men like ibn Wahhab, Maududi, Banna and others. Each one of them was a product of history, in some cases they were control freaks, and ignored the Quranic teachings of no compulsion, but advocated authoritarianism, they did not believe in individual's God-given rights, and suggested the state to kill those who differed. This is another instance we have gone wrong by not denouncing their misinterpretations.
It is time to clearly understand the pristine message of the Quran rather than reading it with the eye of its medieval era jurists, scholars and ideologues. There is an urgent need to understand the core message of Islam that remains buried under layers of medieval interpretation.

Muhammad Yunus, is a dedicated researcher of Quran, and his work is published in a German Web portal; Qantara.de
"There is a dichotomy of Islamic faith between its primary scripture, the Quran and its theological corpus (traditions and Sharia laws): one appearing at a point in time in history as an epicenter of faith, and the other evolving in its second century onwards -- as the ripples of the initial surge of faith. The former is constant, eternal and independent of history. The latter inevitably shaped by historical factors: pre-Islamic faith of the incoming converts, state of civilization, theological orientation and scholastic methods of the era. If Islam is equated with the 'religion' (or worldview) espoused by the Quran -- regardless of whether it came from God or Muhammad made it up, it is universal, tolerant, balanced, gender-neutral, inclusive, non-political, pluralistic, flexible and open ended -- albeit within broad boundaries, and emblematic of justice, liberty, equality, and other universal secular values.”
In an article "You Can't Understand ISIS If You Don't Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia," Alastair Crooke rightly points out that the political greed of the founder of Saudi Arabia took Ibn Wahab's ideology to suit his personal ambition to own the land and control its resources, in contrast to Islam that teaches that we are trustees of public properties and not usurpers.
It is easy for us to blame Bush, had he not invaded Iraq, would all of this have happened? The Shia-Sunni strife, the civil war, Syria, and the birth of ISIS have all stemmed from that one singular misadventure.

Well, what Bush did is not the issue, but what are Muslims going to do about it -- fix it, or keep blaming? Let's fix it. I invite research articles for publications at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com. Insha Allah, we plan to hold a conference based on the theme that "Muslims should be inclusive universal beings (Mukhlooqul Aalameen) to honor God's word in Q49:13. This is based on Quran that God is God of all humanity (Rabbul Aalameen), Prophet is a mercy to mankind (Rahmatul Aalameen) and it follows that we have to embrace full humanity with its God given diversity. We have to build cohesive well functioning societies that are good for Muslims and good for the world.

To be a Muslim is to be a peace-maker who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence of humanity. World Muslim congress is a think tank and a forum with the express goal of nurturing pluralistic values embedded in Islam to build cohesive societies. If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept each other's uniqueness, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Mike Ghouse is a Muslim Speaker thinker, writer, organizer and an activist.

19
Discussions / hijab
« on: August 21, 2014, 04:42:56 AM »
Salam all,

Here is the first part of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's article on the issue that I enjoyed reading

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/08/19/To-wear-scarf-or-not-to-wear-scarf/

20
Discussions / what is to come or not to come
« on: August 18, 2014, 08:27:43 AM »
Peace to all,



A Small Green Island


There is a small green island where one white cow lives alone,
a meadow of an island.

The cow grazes until nightfall, full and fat,
but during the night she panics and grows thin as a single hair.
"What will I eat tomorrow?
There's nothing left!"

By dawn the grass has grown up again,
waist-high.  The cow starts eating and by dark the meadow is clipped short.

She is full of strength and energy,
but she panics in the dark as before and grows abnormally thin overnight.

The cow does this over and over and this is all she does.

She never thinks,
"This meadow has never failed to grow back. 

What should I be afraid every night that it won't?"

The cow is the bodily soul.
The island field is this world where that grows lean with fear
and fat with blessing,

lean and fat.  White cow,
don't make yourself miserable with what is to come or not to come.

Masnavi Rumi vol, V: 2855-2869

 Version by Coleman Barks

22
Discussions / exploring the female voice in religion
« on: July 09, 2014, 07:57:06 AM »
Salam all,

Here is a brief article by Amina Wadud that I would like to share with you


http://feminismandreligion.com/2014/07/03/papa-dont-preach-ted-like-talks-at-malmo-nordic-womens-forum-may-2014/

23
Discussions / spiritual ramadan
« on: June 28, 2014, 02:51:37 AM »
Salam all,

"3 Things You Should Avoid This Ramadan To Make It More Spiritually Meaningful!

As I sit here writing this, I am exuberated with joy that Ramadan is almost here! We, Pakistanis, are always fashionably late; so that should explain why we start fasting a day after most other countries.

Anyhow! Personally speaking, Ramadan is my favorite time of the year. A month I exclusively dedicate to my relationship with God, focusing on spiritual growth and reflections. It would be great if every Muslim tried to make a conscious effort in changing some part of their personality that needs to be improved during Ramadan, but this, unfortunately, is not the case. It is sad to note how each year Ramadan is wasted, and so the primary purpose of this blog is to address those issues.

As Ramadan approaches, Muslims suddenly change character. They fast, read the Quran, give away in charities, and try to avoid all the detrimental things they’ve become accustomed to. But as soon as it is over, they revert back to their ways of old, happily content that they’ve performed their religious rights and have pleased God. It’s almost as if Eid liberates them from their moral responsibilities they so fervently upheld in Ramadan!

So, here are the three things you should try to avoid in this Ramadan:

Don’t Take Fasting As An End In Itself
I’ve always thought of Ramadan as a training program, and this really helps me keep things in perspective. To convey my point, let’s take the example of an intensive revision class set up by your university to help you achieve your goal: passing the exam.

Now here’s what happens: The students make it incumbent upon themselves to attend every class, but pay no attention whatsoever to what they’re doing. Having sat in these classes for a month, they expect the professor to be pleased with them for attending all his classes, hoping that he would pass them in the exam because of their dedication. Unprepared as they were, they miserably fail the exam, and thus repeat the year. For many, this becomes an on-going process. But, any sign of progress is nowhere to be found!

You probably understand the analogy. A major factor of why this happens, though, is because religious people tend to take their rituals and rights as an end in themselves, rather than taking them as a means to an end. They think, albeit naively, that performing these rituals somehow pleases God, and so they have no incentive to make an effort and derive any values from the rituals they perform.

The mere act of fasting, in no way, pleases God. This is an idea alien to the Quran. Rather, the purpose of fasting is that it should teach us self-control, make us more conscious of God (2:183), and develop an attitude of gratitude (2:185)! It is by these values that we attain during Ramadan, that boosts our relationship with God and helps us in connecting with It.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Don’t Read The Quran In A Language You Don’t Understand
This is something that needs to be stressed a lot, before we come out of the Arab supremacy complex.

I realize how hard it is to pick up the Quran and read it, for the first time. So, for those of you that have never read the Quran, the month of Ramadan provides an excellent platform. Presumably, your family members would already be reading the Quran this month, so the environment is all set up for action! However, I implore you not to make the mistake of reading the Quran in Arabic if you don’t understand it. Indeed, that defeats the whole purpose of sending down revelation!

 

“A book we have revealed to you so that it may bring people out of ignorance, towards enlightenment.” Quran, 14:2

The purpose of the Quran has never been to encourage people to read it for the sake of it, or to attain rewards! Needless to say, you don’t become enlightened by reading it in a foreign language.

As I wrote in a previous blog,

“What was supposed to be a book with a revolutionary message, you revolve around it, not understanding a word of what it says.

What was supposed to be a book that was meant to transform your heart, you don’t even let it cross your brain.” (I encourage you to read the entire blog here)

[Side note: You’d probably have a translation of the Quran in your home, but if not, you should download this translation here.]

If you’re looking to read the entire Quran this month, then let me do the math for you. There are 30 Juz (parts) in the Quran, each Juz consisting of roughly 20 pages. So, 30 days and 30 Juz. Still with me? Good. 1 juz every day. 20 pages. Yeah, not so much, is it? Of course, there is no “rule” that you have to read the entire Quran. Read whatever is easy to read. Quality over quantity, always!

Moreover, if you intend to attend Taraweeh, do realize that although these are optional, they’re a great way of reviewing the message of the Quran in Ramadan. I’ll repeat this again: Please don’t just stand there for the sake of it, having no idea of what is being recited. It defeats the purpose. Take your translation with you to the mosque, or if you don’t have one, you could always download it on your cell phone and take that instead. Whatever you do, make good use of it!


Don’t spend in charities to accumulate rewards
As per popular opinion, spending in the month of Ramadan supposedly earns more rewards as it is deemed to be a “blessed” month. But to donate money in hopes of accumulating rewards is very paradoxical indeed!

The purpose of giving is just that: giving! No more, no less. We should help others, not only in Ramadan but all year round, simply because it is the right thing to do. It is what the soul yearns for! Expecting “rewards” for our service makes the whole process unnatural. It’s no more about benefiting others anymore, it becomes self centered. The ego comes in: “What can I get from this?”

Spend, because the other person deserves it. Understand his condition, and give selflessly. Suppress the ego, and boost your soul! Be altruistic!

In the famous words of Rumi: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy!”

Final Thoughts

It’s always best to maintain a balance, and Ramadan is no exception. Don’t burn yourself, but don’t waste it either. What are the goals you wish to achieve this Ramadan? Jot them down, now! Written goals are easier to review and evaluate progress.

A major theme of the Quran is that of accountability, self-control, and being conscious of God. If you think about it, these are the values that fasting should help us internalize. And if one internalizes these values from the core of their being, then nothing could steer you towards wrong-doing.

This Ramadan, re-gain control of yourself!

Ro "


       RAMADAN MUBARAK !  May God accept your fast and may you be a better, committed person in 30 days.

24
Discussions / SUNNA
« on: June 25, 2014, 05:00:03 AM »
Peace and greetings,

These are the main ideas from Prophet Muhammad's Sunna, compiled by Dr. Vladimir Antonov, that we can live by


Good education is the best legacy that can be handed down to children.
Speak always the truth, even if it is not profitable for you!
Share what you know with others and teach them!
Him, who pitied no one, no one will pity.
Be not a burden to people!
Do not sit down between two sitting people without first asking their permission.
Be economical and do not bring yourself to destitution!
Do not do things which then make you conscience-stricken!
The riches consist not in quantity of goods but in the breadth of the soul.
The knowledge is a treasure, the key to which is inquiry.
Step away from a fool!
Avoid intoxicating drinks!…
Calmness is a gain; disarray is a loss.
Do not be in a hurry in taking decisions and provide for consequences!
Do not judge anyone on assumptions or if you have doubts.
Exhort every one to do no evil!
If you have to punish the guilty never strike him in the face!
He who wakes up lately closes for himself the door to prosperity.
Any bribe is a sin and an odious source of income!
He who has flared up should stop speaking immediately!
An inhospitable person is an inferior person!
Repay to those who made good to you!
It is a virtuous deed — to forgive those who offended you, to give to those who refused to give to you, to stretch a hand of peace to those who quarrel with you!
O man! If you are not satisfied with the small, the great can satisfy you neither!
Do good deeds without creating buzz.
Do not wish death to yourself or to others.
He who does not thank people will not thank Allah also.
Everything created by Allah is fine, though people do not always understand it!
Allah created diseases, but He also created medicines for them.
Allah is generous and likes generous people.
For everything there is a way. The way to paradise is opened by knowledge.
Do not be lazy to go for knowledge even to distant China, because gaining knowledge is the main duty of a Muslim!
Panhandling is an indecent occupation!
Begin a meal with remembering about Allah and be not choosy with food!
The gate to well-being is locked, and work is the key to it.
To divine and to believe the words of diviners, foretellers, and sorcerers is meanness.
A bad person is characterized by the following features: he lies in conversation, does not keep his promises, and, feeling impunity, commits base deeds.
Pay a worker for his work before his sweat dries up!
He who is mild, who behaves well, and does not harm others will never be touched by the fires of hell!
An hour spent for gaining useful knowledge is more pleasing to Allah than a whole night spent for praying.
In any time try to be pure!…
 
Specially for men:
 
Be kind to women!…
A noble one is kind to women; a low one is guileful to them.
Respect women!…
If you are called by the father and the mother at the same time, come first to the mother!


25
Discussions / on the language of the Quran
« on: June 22, 2014, 07:38:38 AM »
Peace to all,

""If one reads and interprets the Koran as a kind of information medium – as many contemporary Koranic researchers do – one does not do justice to it. The Koran is heavily poetic and contains a whole range of messages that it imparts at a semantic level – not at all explicitly, not at all unambiguously; it gets these messages across through poetic structures; if it didn't, it wouldn't be as vivid as it is. What makes the Koran unique is its complexity, its multiple layers, the fact that it speaks at different levels. On the one hand, of course, that is the huge aesthetic attraction. However, it is also, if you like, hugely attractive in rhetorical terms or in terms of its power of conviction.

 
While it might be possible to sum up the mere information in the Koran in a short newspaper article, the effect would not have been the same. It really is about enchantment through language. Language itself is also praised in the Koran as the highest gift that humankind received from God. Naturally, this is related to knowledge. Language is the medium of knowledge. This is why one should never on top of everything else accuse the Islamic culture of being averse to knowledge. The entire Koran is basically a paean to knowledge, the knowledge that is articulated through speech."

 - Angelika Neuwirth

26
Discussions / Quran
« on: June 20, 2014, 11:26:16 PM »
Peace to all,

Quran: The Book That Weeps, Hidden Inside Its Shelf!
by Ro

The Quran is truly an amazing book. If there is one investment I have made that I will never regret in my life, it is the time I invested in understanding the Quran. The thing about the Quran is that it speaks to me like no other book I’ve read. Such is the magnificence of the book that there is never a hollow reading session; each time I walk away with some truly amazing insights I overlooked before. What makes this possible is that there are, at least in my opinion, infinite layers to the Quran. The more time you spend with it, the more it seems to give you. And so, as I went deeper into the Quran, I was just mesmerized by its structure, cohesiveness, and the metaphors it employs that reflect my being so precisely.

 

What’s heartbreaking for me, though, is how Muslims have abandoned the Quran, turning it into an object of service. You don’t pay reverence to the Quran by kissing it and keeping it on the top shelf, covering it with beautiful cloths. No, that would be akin to showering your parents with hugs and kisses, but not paying any heed to what they ask of you. Would you not call such a relationship hypocritical and selfish? Indeed, you would. But that’s what our relationship with the Quran is: one of hypocrisy and selfishness. It is used as a tool to gain rewards by reading it in a language that most Muslims don’t even understand, and comes out of its fancy covering only at “blessed” times such as Ramadan, or at times of need – when someone has passed away.

 

As Ramadan is just around the corner, I implore you to read the Quran in a language you understand this time around, so that you could start disassociating cultural Islam from Quranic Islam.

Here is a passionate response I wrote, outlining all that is wrong with the way we approach the Quran:

What was supposed to be a book that would bring mankind out of ignorance towards enlightenment--bringing with it a revolutionary message--you revolve around it, not understanding a word of what it says.

What was supposed to be a book that was meant to transform your heart, you don’t even let it cross your brain.

What was supposed to be a book with a universal message, you utter religious statements in Arabic, somehow supposing that Arabic language is holy and advocate Arab supremacy.

 

What was supposed to be a book that discouraged dogmas, you drink from a glass of water that you blew Quranic verses in, expecting it to heal you.

What was supposed to be a book advocating skepticism and critical thinking, you fear that thinking in matters of faith may lead you away from Islam.

 

What was supposed to be a book discouraging sectarianism and promoting unity, you kill your fellow Muslims in its name, and yell “Allahu Akbar!”

What was supposed to be a book advocating freedom of belief, you disregard it and demand blasphemers and apostates to be killed.

What was supposed to be a book advocating pluralism, you feel threatened by differences and push for uniformity.

 

What was supposed to be a book prohibiting child and forced marriages, you justify them through fabricated accounts of the messenger and sometimes, your culture.

What was supposed to be a book that advocated self-control, you partially blame the women who are raped and hasten to cover your women from head to toe.

What was supposed to be a book that encouraged you to follow the character of the messenger, you have twisted it to imply following the cultural norms that were prevalent in the time of the messenger.

 

What was supposed to be a book that advocated activism, you remain passive and pray for divine intervention to happen.

What was supposed to be a book that was fully detailed, you attach numerous books to it – claiming, without these books, the Quran is incomplete and hard to understand.

 

What was supposed to be a book that asked you to be weary of religious leaders, you have changed it into a book that can only be interpreted by these religious leaders.

What was supposed to be a book of values, you have changed it into a book of hollow rituals and shortcuts to heaven.

What was supposed to be a book advocating accountability for your actions, you have changed it into a book that will intercede on your behalf.


27
Discussions / spirituality
« on: June 10, 2014, 07:12:45 AM »
Salam to all,

"What makes the Quran’s core message spiritual?

Spiritual gurus such as Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra think that spirituality is different from, and outside of, the structures of institutionalized religions or belief systems with fixed ideas. They recognize at the same time that there are pockets of spirituality in religions also. Most Muslims prefer to steer clear of spiritual-like practices such as those of Sufis. Sufi Muslims have often been the target of persecution and torture from ultra-conservative Salafi and Wahhabi Muslims.

However, when we come across verses in the Quran such as those that say, for example, that the Quran’s inherent purpose is to purify or civilize humankind and make it wise (62:2), or that it is not the eyes that are blind, but it is the hearts, which are within the bosoms, that are blind (22:46), or that turning to the East or the West is not righteousness (2:177), or that it is not the flesh or blood of sacrificed animals that reaches God (22:37), or that they think that they are deceiving God and believers; nay, they are deceiving none but themselves, but they do not realize (2:9), we cannot but conclude that the Quran’s central message for us is spiritual. We need to care about the inner meanings, the kernel and essence of things, not the outward and superficial structures and forms. We need to ask about the deeper, more fundamental, questions: Why are we here, what is the meaning and significance of our life’s existence, how can we make our life worth living, how can we make it more enriched and blissful? And so on. We need to concentrate on things that make for our real progress on earth in terms of piety, knowledge, creativity, benevolence, and real contentment and happiness." An excerpt from the book "Rediscovering Genuine Islam... ," pp. 25-26.

28
Discussions / chatting
« on: June 05, 2014, 11:55:55 AM »
Peace,

Lo and behold! A fatwa has been passed by His Holiness Sheikh Abdullah that a man chatting with a woman is HARAAM! Given the fact that this comes from a “senior scholar”, his opinion must be right. I mean, surely you weren’t thinking of using your brains for once? BECAUSE THAT IS HARAAM TOO! After all, these folks dedicate their lives to spread the word of Allah and His messenger! We must listen and obey.

Except, maybe not!

What’s rather ironic is that this mainstream thought is exactly what the Quran challenges. Reasoning for yourselves is advocated in numerous verses, and blindly following the customs of your forefathers and the opinions of scholars, discouraged.

Now, when it comes to matters on modesty, we have an excellent example in Yousuf (salutes and respect to him). He was sexually approached by the lady of the house in which he was brought up in, but being the man of character that he was, he immediately sought refuge with God and resisted that weak moment (12:23). He didn’t try to “justify” the situation; he simply refused and walked away. This unapologetic and sincere devotion to God’s commandments on morality is what demonstrates true faith!

And, by the way, God does not seek to alienate men and women. After all, the peaceful men and the peaceful women are ALLIES of one another who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong (9:71)

Therefore, the problem I have with these short-sighted superficial attempts at maintaining cordial relationships between men and women is that they fail to look at the bigger picture, which of course is the battle of de-objectifying women as sexual objects and treating them with dignity and respect.

Alienating men and women is not the solution; rather it fuels the problem it’s supposed to solve. In the society I live in, there is no free mixing of unrelated men and women, and no co-education, except for the elites. This does not make men more “moral”. Quite the opposite! You need only go out in a public space, and observe the heinous stares at women! Absolutely loathful! I believe this is so, because there remains a sense of wonder and unfamiliarity. To some extent, dialogue overcomes this. Exposure does wonders!

This is what all of us need to be focusing on, especially the influential people who have a huge fan following. For once, please make use of your popularity for something good and worthwhile!

Ro

29
Women / Muslim women of the past
« on: June 01, 2014, 03:43:10 AM »
Salutes and peace,


Lubna Of Cordoba

Lubna was raised in the palace of the Sultan Abd al -Rahman III and despite humble beginnings she quickly became one of the most important figures in the Andalusian palace at the time, she became the Khalifa secretary and scribe as well as a secretary to his son Hakam II Ibn Abd al- Rahman.

Lubna was quite the extraordinary figure; one of her roles was presiding over the royal library. The library, which at the time included 500 thousand books, was one of the most important libraries in the world.

As for being a scribe, she was not merely a writer and a translator, the level she reached had to “be most intimately aware of the books they transcribed and many of them were annotators of and commentators of those texts."

Her love and knowledge of math was great and it is told that while walking in the roads of Andalusia she would teach children the principles of math and the multiplication tables.

As if that was not enough she was also a philosopher a poet, and a calligrapher who left behind “beautiful works of calligraphy”
The historian Ibn Bashkvl said " she (Lubna) mastered the writing and science of poetry, and her knowledge of mathematics was broad and great, and she has mastered many other sciences and there was no one nobler then her in the ummayad palace” She died in the year 984 ad
Sources: Muslim women a biographical dictionary Aisha Bewley – an article in the BBC by Kamila Shamsie- Ibn Bashkaval Al Silah p 323

30
Discussions / Blasphemy and Apostasy Laws
« on: May 31, 2014, 06:14:42 AM »
Peace,

"In January 2011, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by one of his own security guards over a controversial move — opposing the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Although thousands of Pakistanis condemned this by attending his funeral and showing support on social media, religious fanatics hailed his murderer as a hero, recently naming a mosque after him.

As a Muslim, I stand firmly against blasphemy laws. My faith demands that I do so, for it repeatedly asks me to stand for justice and fight oppression.

The Quran shows us that even though God’s prophets were mocked and threatened, they never killed their accusers for hurting their “religious sentiments.” In fact, the Quran opposes any laws that restrain freedom of speech or would have someone killed over differences in belief. Rather, Quran 73:10 says, “Be patient over what they say, and leave them graciously.”

So how did these blasphemy and apostasy laws come to be associated with Islam?

The blasphemy and apostasy laws are found in the Hadeeth, sayings attributed to Prophet Mohammad, which were compiled two-three centuries after his death. Muslims know that no Hadeeth should contradict the Quran if they are to be accepted, given their subjective nature and reliance on the Quran for authenticity.

But early scholars intentionally overlooked this to protect the interests of clergymen and political leaders. These oppressive laws allow them to exercise complete control over people, punishing anyone who threatens their position by declaring them apostates — enemies of Islam. To so many clergymen, religion is nothing but a means to gain power and control people. To keep out competition and force their monopoly, they invent laws in the name of God so “consumers” have no choice but to keep buying their “product.” Or face persecution.

Religious leaders like Tahir-ul-Qadri, a staunch proponent of blasphemy laws, rule people by fear. Add to that the fact that the average Muslim is unaware of the Quran’s teachings, which makes them likely to believe whatever the clergy tells them about Islam. Of these leaders, the Qur’an asks us to be weary: “O You who have believed! A great many religious leaders: rabbis, priests, monks, Mullahs, yogis, and mystics devour the wealth of people in falsehood, and bar them from the path of God” (Quran 9:34).

So what exactly does the Quran say about blasphemy and apostasy?

Quite frankly, blasphemy and apostasy laws are themselves blasphemous to the teachings of the Qur’an. Not in the traditional sense, but because they violate the very instructions the scripture gives regarding freedom of belief.

Regarding apostasy, in Quran 2:256 God says, “There is no compulsion in matters of faith. The right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces false authorities and becomes at peace with God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Knower.”

In a similar vein, verse 109:6 instructs adherents to end a debate by saying: “To you, your belief system. And to me, mine.”

If all that isn’t convincing enough, Quran 10:99 should seal the deal: “If your Lord willed, all who are on earth, would have believed (by not providing free will). Would you then, compel people to become believers?”

When it comes to blasphemy, I often hear some version of, “Hold on. If someone mocks my religion, it prompts me to act violently. You see, it makes me very emotional.”

But this statement only shows an ignorance of the Quran, which says in verse 6:68, “When you see them engaged in vain discourse about Our verses, turn away from them unless they engage in a different subject. If Satan ever makes you forget (i.e. your mind gets engrossed in their discourse,) then as soon as you recollect, no longer sit in the company of the people who confound the truth with falsehood.”

Here, Muslims are instructed to engage with these people if they change the topic. Certainly that means we’re not to have enmity towards them, let alone kill them!

And, again, Quran 28:55 instructs, “Whenever they (believers) hear vain talk of ridicule, they withdraw from it decently and say, ‘“To us our deeds and to you yours; Peace be upon you, we do not seek to join the ignorant.”

Those verses are practically shouting freedom of expression at the top of their lungs! Islam is a very progressive path to God, one in which differences in opinions and beliefs are accepted, not punished (Quran 39:18). On the other hand, blasphemy and apostasy laws lead to negative misconceptions about Islam being an oppressive faith.

But what are we Muslims to do? By not voicing our disapproval, we stand for these anti-Quranic laws and call them Islam. Is that not like setting your own house on fire? There is not a single verse that encourages Muslims to act violently toward those who leave Islam, or even mock the Quran. After all, shouldn’t truth be able to defend itself on its own merit? What good is a forced belief?

We can even take it a step further by noting how rejecters treated the prophets.

Of Prophet Nooh: “They said, ‘If you do not desist, O Noah, you will surely be of those who are stoned’” (Quran 26:116).

Prophet Ibrahim’s father said, ”Do you dislike my gods, O Abraham? If you cease not, I will certainly cause you to be stoned to death! Now get away from me for good” (Quran 19:46). Similarly, the priesthood said of Ibrahim, “Burn him alive and uphold your gods if you are going to take any action” (Quran 21:68).

Regarding Prophet Musa, “[Pharaoh] said, ‘If you take a god/authority other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned’” (Quran 26:29). To Musa’s followers, Pharaoh also said, “I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you all” (Quran 26:49).”

These verses should reveal to us a different perspective: all prophets were seen as blasphemers and apostates to the prevalent religion of their time. To condone the oppressive laws of religious leaders today is to support ill treatment of the prophets. After all, you would’ve done the same!

And that’s the most ironic part. If a messenger were to come today, these clergymen and their ardent followers would utter the same threats to him. They have fabricated their own laws in the name of God, so when you ask them to reform, they either consider you a blasphemer or an apostate and have a fatwa issued to kill you.  That’s the scary thing about truth: it doesn’t warrant aggression but is always met with it.

This is not a matter of interpretation, as some would call it. The Quran condemns forced belief in numerous verses. Rather, this is a matter of giving preference to the Hadeeth over the Quran to justify bigotry and extremism in the name of Islam. Having said that, it’s up to you whether you want to rethink your stance or keep blindly following what you have been taught — whether you want to follow Islam or Hislam. Because unlike misguided religious fanatics, sincere believers never force their beliefs on others.

What’s the Golden Rule, again? “Any secondary source on Islam that goes against the Quran should be rejected.”

Often said, but seldom followed.

Ro Waseem

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