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Islamic Duties / Re: Glorification vs Salat
« on: May 12, 2015, 03:35:18 AM »
Salaam Wakas,

 thank you for the very comprehensive analysis of SBH in the Qur'an.  Read it twice yet not fully grasped it completely.  Need more time.  One quick question: what is Salaatil-Wustaa and where does it fit in?


Islamic Duties / Re: Glorification vs Salat
« on: May 09, 2015, 10:00:09 PM »
Peace all,

Thanks for the replies which helped me remember one more named salaat  as in 2:238 which brings the total to three to be guarded by name.  Tasbeeh is then bowing and prostration part of the salaat and done with the restriction of ablution and facing qibla.  Verbally it can be done all the time/place by itself along with the attitude of humility.

Islamic Duties / Glorification vs Salat
« on: May 09, 2015, 06:41:40 AM »
 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?


Discussions / Sheath your Sword
« on: March 27, 2015, 03:55:48 AM »
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."


Discussions / wahabism
« on: February 21, 2015, 02:25:26 AM »


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

Discussions / LOVE
« on: February 14, 2015, 11:17:36 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!

General Discussions / Re: The Evil Eye
« on: January 27, 2015, 05:35:58 AM »

No, not to my knowledge that Quran links eyes with envy, jealousy or malice.  I believe it is a universal human construct.

I have two in my home .  I use it as decoration on a wall not as a power source.

General Discussions / Re: The Evil Eye
« on: January 27, 2015, 02:31:56 AM »
Peace 8pider,

I believe evil eye is very real, ayn al hasad.  The main protection against the effects of the Evil Eye are reading the Quran, making zikir, dua’ .
Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Naas, especially  as protection against the Evil Eye.
Wearing amulets  are useless and unlawful acts to ward of the evil because it is a misplaced power, transgression, zulm.  Masha-Allah wala kuwata illa billah.

Discussions / Mawlid
« on: January 03, 2015, 12:56:25 AM »


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

Discussions / My Job is Obedience
« on: January 02, 2015, 10:45:59 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


Prophets and Messengers / parallelism between Isa and Yahya
« on: December 24, 2014, 03:58:48 AM »
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?


General Discussions / Re: The Spirit (Ruh)
« on: December 24, 2014, 02:02:49 AM »
Peace brothers,

Here is Karen Armstong on the subject:

The Ruh/Rouh of Allah (SWT)
"This brings me to a difficult point. Because this God began as a specifically male deity, monotheists have usually referred to it as “he.” In recent years, feminists have understandably objected to this. . . . Yet it is perhaps worth mentioning that the masculine tenor of God-talk is particularly problematic in English. In Hebrew, Arabic and French, however, grammatical gender gives theological discourse a sort of sexual counterpoint and dialectic, which provides a balance that is often lacking in English. Thus in Arabic al-Lah (the supreme name for God) is grammatically masculine, but the word for the divine and inscrutable essence of God—al-Dhat—is feminine.” - Karen Armstrong, A History of God

Surah 17:85-86

They ask thee concerning the Spirit.
Say: "The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord:
Of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you."
If it were Our* Will, We* could take away that which We* have sent thee by inspiration:
Then wouldst thou find none to plead thy affair in that matter against Us.

[2.87] We* gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of Messengers;
We* gave Jesus, the son of Mary, Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit.

[2.253] Those Messengers we endowed with gifts, some above others: 
To one of them Allah spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honor); 
To Jesus, the son of Mary, We* gave Clear (Signs), and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit.

[4.171] O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but the truth.
Christ Jesus the son of Mary was a Messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary,
And a Spirit proceeding from Him.
Al Nisa (The Women)

[5.110] Then will Allah say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother.
Behold! I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity.

[15.29] When I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My spirit*, fall ye down in obeisance unto him. Al Hijr (The Rock)
[16.102] Say: The Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth,
In order to strengthen those who believe and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims.

[26.192-96] Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds: With it came down the Spirit of Faith and truth — 
To thy heart and mind, that thou mayest admonish in the perspicuous Arabic tongue. 
Without doubt it is (announced) in the Revealed Books of the former peoples.

[32.9] But he fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit.
And He gave you (the facilities of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): Little thanks do ye give!

[38.72] When I fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit*, fall ye down in obeisance unto him.

[66:12] And Mary, Imran's daughter, who guarded her virginity, so We* breathed into her of Our Spirit*, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Books, and became one of the obedient.

[21:107] “And We* did not send you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the world.”

15:85] “We* created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, but for just ends. And the Hour is surely coming”

[2.2] This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We* have provided for them;

[15:9] “We* have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We* will assuredly guard it (from corruption).”

[50.43] Verily it is We* who give life and death;
And to Us* is the Final Goal.

[37:171-177] “Already has Our* Word been passed before (this) to Our* Servants sent (by Us). That they would certainly be assisted. And that Our* forces, they surely must conquer. So turn thou away from them for a little while. And watch them (how they fare), and they soon shall see. Do they wish (indeed) to hurry on our Punishment? But when it descends into the open space before them, evil will be the morning for those who were warned (and heeded not).

* Allah and His Ruh (There are hundreds of such examples)

"God was not booming clear instructions from on high. The divine voice constantly changed the way it referred to itself—as "we," "he," "your lord," "Allah" or "I"—shifting its relationship to both the Prophet and his audience. Nor was God distinctively male. Each recitation began with the invocation: "In the name of Allah, the Compassionate ('al-Rahman') and the Merciful ('al-Rahim')." Allah was a masculine noun, but the divine names al-Rahman and al-Rahim are not only grammatically feminine but related etymologically to the word for womb."

Karen Armstrong, Muhammad (Prophet For Our Time)
Chapter 2, 'Jahiliyyah', p.60
Harper Perennial - London, New York, Toronto and Sydney

“Even though Jews and Muslims both find the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation almost blasphemous, they have produced their own versions of these controversial theologies. Each expression of these universal themes is slightly different, however, showing the ingenuity and inventiveness of the human imagination as it struggles to express its sense of “God.”

Because this is such a big subject, I have deliberately confined myself to the One God worshipped by Jews, Christians and Muslims, though I have occasionally considered pagan, Hindu and Buddhist conceptions of ultimate reality to make a monotheistic point clearer. It seems that the idea of God is remarkably close to the ideas in religions that developed quite independently. . . . Mystics have seen God incarnated in a woman, for example. Others reverently speak of God’s sexuality and have introduced a female element into the divine.

This brings me to a difficult point. Because this God began as a specifically male deity, monotheists have usually referred to it as “he.” In recent years, feminists have understandably objected to this. . . . Yet it is perhaps worth mentioning that the masculine tenor of God-talk is particularly problematic in English. In Hebrew, Arabic and French, however, grammatical gender gives theological discourse a sort of sexual counterpoint and dialectic, which provides a balance that is often lacking in English. Thus in Arabic al-Lah (the supreme name for God) is grammatically masculine, but the word for the divine and inscrutable essence of God—al-Dhat—is feminine.”

Karen Armstrong, A History of God, Ballantine Books, 1993, p. xxi-xxiii.

"It is true that there is plenty of material in the Koran that is more egalitarian than the western Christian tradition, which was heavily influenced by the misogyny of Greek thought. Perhaps the most fundamental is that the Islamic God does not have a gender. Arabic may refer to him by use of the male pronoun, but he is never described as "father" or "lord" as he is in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Indeed, the Islamic God has characteristics that are expressly feminine; one of his most important "names" is al-Rahman (the All-Compassionate) from the Arabic rahma, which comes from the word rahim, meaning womb. In Islamic mysticism, the divinely beloved is female."

Saturday December 8, 2001
The Guardian

Discussions / Playing God
« on: December 21, 2014, 11:38:21 PM »

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

Discussions / Re: Gender Equality in the Quran I
« on: December 20, 2014, 07:48:43 AM »

The Equity of Recompense, The Hereafter in the Qur’an
The hereafter is divided into several stages: Death, Resurrection, Judgment and finally, Heaven or Hell.

Death is the first inevitable experience for each and every created being without distinction of gender, class, nationality, or time of existence. It is the first stage of the hereafter for each being. It marks the entrance to that realm:
Each nafs will taste death. And you will be paid on the day of Resurrection only that which you have fairly earned. Whoever is removed from the Fire and is made to enter Paradise, he indeed is triumphant. The life of this world is but comfort of illusion. (Al Qur’an 3:186)

The term nafs is used in Qura’nic discussion of the hereafter. With regard to death, it is that  essential part of each being which experiences the passage from life in this known world into the unknown realm of the hereafter. It is central to the consideration of the Hereafter because it is this term that is used to elevate the Qura’nic discussions of recompense in the Hereafter above gender distinctions.

The Resurrection is the first part of the Hereafter, unknown or unacceptable to the Arabs at the time of the revelation:
And they say: When we are bones and fragments, shall we be raised up a new creation? Say: Be you stones or iron or some created thing that is yet greater in your thoughts. They ask, ‘who shall restore us to life?’ Say, He who created you the first time. (Al Qur’an 17:50-52)

The Qur’an is emphatic that the day of Resurrection is unlike anything experienced before:
O humankind! Fear your Lord. Lo! The earthquake of the Hour (of doom) is a tremendous thing: On that day you will witness that every nursing mother will forget her nursing and every pregnant one will be delivered of her burden, and you will see people as drunken, yet they will not be drunken, but the Doom of Allah will be strong (upon them). (Al Qur’an 22:2-3)

Thus the day of Resurrection is a disruption of the order of the reality which we have known and lived.
Existence on earth is described in the Qur’an as a trial or test to see the value of the deeds performed by the individuals. At the Resurrection all humans will be brought back to life for judgment, which will be made by Allah, who knows what is secret and what is manifest:
And not a speck’s worth in the earth or in the sky escapes your Lord, nor what is less than that or greater than that. (Al Qur’an 10:62)

And whether you make known what is in your minds or hide it, Allah will bring you to account for it. (Al Qur’an 2:285)

All deeds of every individual will be weighed. This will indicate the true value or measure of the deeds. Evil things are without merit or weight. (weightless) The weight of all good things will be added and given increased value.
And He accepts the prayers of those who believe and do good works, and grants them more out of His Grace. (Al Qur’an 42: 27)

If the scales are light, one has been unsuccessful. If the scales are heavy, it is an indication of success:
And we set a just balance for the day of Resurrection, so that no nafs is wronged in the slightest. Even as it may be the weight of a grain of a mustard seed, we bring it forth. (Al Qur’an 21:48)

Then as for him whose scales are heavy (with good works), he will live a pleasant life. But as for him whose scales are light, the Bereft and Hungry one will be his mother. Ah, what will convey to you what she is! Raging fire. (Al Qur’an 101:7-12)

Lo! This life of the world is but a passing comfort, and lo! The Hereafter is the enduring home. Whoever does an ill deed, he will be repaid the like thereof, while whoever does right, whether male or female, and is a believer, (all) such will enter the Garden. (Al Qur’an 40:40-41)

With regard to the Hereafter, individual responsibility and experience is given more emphasis. It is the individual who experiences death, the transition from the living world to the Hereafter: “Each nafs will taste of death.” (3:186). The recompense awarded is also on the basis of the individual. Whether a man or woman, each is rewarded individually according to what he or she earns and there is a single scale of judgment.

So in the Qur’anic narrative recompense is acquired through actions performed by the individual before death:
And Allah has created the heavens and the earth with truth, and each nafs may be repaid what it has earned. And they will not be wronged. (Al Qur’an 45:23)

No one can diminish the merits earned by another; neither can anyone increase them. No one can share in the merits achieved by another, nor in the punishment which will be given:
And fear the day when no nafs will avail of another in the slightest, nor intercession be of use to it, nor will compensation be accepted from it, nor will they be helped. (Al Qur’an 2:49)

There is no possibility of gender discrimination on this subject as Qur’an has been very explicit in addressing men and women separately and equally:
And those who do good works, male or female, and is a believer, they shall enter the Garden.(Al Qur’an 4:125)

Whoso acted righteously, male or female and is a believer, We shall surely grant them a pure life: and We shall surely bestow upon them their reward according to the best of their works. (Al Qur’an 16:98)

The Final Abode
The Qur’an acknowledges our earthly values and fears:
We verily created humankind and We know what his nafs whispers to him and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. (Al Qur’an 50:17)

It states emphatically that Allah knows what is hidden and what is secret.
For those who disobey Allah and whose deeds were lighter, they will be placed in Hell:
Woe unto the repudiators on that day! Depart unto that which you used to deny. Depart unto the shadow falling three fold. Which yet is no relief, nor shelter from the flame … This is the day wherein they speak not. (Al Qur’an 77:29-32, 36)

The Qur’an depicts Paradise in more exquisite details than other unseen phenomena. In general, the depictions of Paradise are meant to entice the reader towards the afterlife. There are some forms given to the pleasures of Paradise which are specific to the audience at the time of the revelation, the desert dwellers of seventh century Arabia. Thus the appeals of the descriptions of ‘gardens with rivers flowing beneath’ is greater for someone living in an arid desert environment than, perhaps, for someone living in the tropics of Malaysia.

However, to confine the Qur’an to only that context would be incorrect. The Qur’an is from God, and not confined to or exhausted by one society or its history. Although the perspectives of the seventh century Arabs were given significant consideration in the Qur’an’s modes of expressions, its eternal message is not limited to any single form of articulation. The values indicated by the text transcend the particular modes of expression. One must determine how those particulars are significant and express them in terms relevant to our own lives. Each new generation of Qur’anic readers must re-evaluate Qur’anic values and determine what they mean to them:
And no nafs knows what supreme joy is hidden (awaiting) them, as a reward for their good works. (Al Qur’an 32:18)

Since Paradise and its pleasures are beyond human comprehension, the resemblance in these descriptions to pleasures experienced in this world must be taken analogously. First the Qur’an acknowledges the good (khayr) in some earthly things, like wealth, power, food, family status, offspring, and women:
Beautified for mankind is love of the joys from women and offspring, and stored up heaps of gold and silver, and horses branded (with their mark), and cattle and land. That is the comfort of the life of the world. Allah! With Him is a more excellent abode. Say shall I inform you of something better than that? For those who keep from evil, with their Lord are gardens.  (Al Qur’an 3:15-16)

Zawj in the Hereafter
Among other pleasures of the Paradise, Qur’an describes companions for the believers. These companions have been the subject of great discussions among the Muslims as well as the non-Muslims.

The term Hur-al-Ayn meant something specific to the Arabs. She was so called because of her whiteness or fairness or cleanness. She was a woman of clear complexion and skin. The descriptions given are specific and sensual – youthful, virgin females with large dark eyes, white skin, and a pliant character. The specific depiction of the companions of Paradise demonstrates the Qur’an’s familiarity with the dreams and desires of the Arabs. The Qur’an offers the Hur as an incentive to aspire after truth. It is notable that after the Makkan period, the Qur’an does not use the term Hur again. It describes the companions of the Paradise in generic terms:
For those who keep from evil, with their Lord are gardens underneath which rivers flow, and pure azwaj and contentment from Allah. (Al Qur’an 3:16)
These believers are male and females and azwaj is a gender neutral term.

The Qur’anic use of ‘you and your azwaj’ with regard to the hereafter needs a closer look. First, the separation between good and evil takes precedence and the individual is recompensed only in accordance with his or her deeds:

This is the day of separation, which you used to deny. Assemble those who did wrong, together with their azwaj and what they used to worship. (Al Qur’an 37:22-23)

Second, the Qur’an reminds us that only those who have done right will attain reward in Paradise, even if on earth they were related.
Our Lord! And make them enter the Gardens of eternity which You have promised them, with such of their fathers and their azwaj and their descendants as do right. (Al Qur’an 40:9)

Thus the use of ‘you and your azwaj’ means you and whoever is paired with you because of like nature, deeds, faith etc.

The emphasis then is on partnership, friendship, comfort, and harmony in Paradise, as opposed to the isolation, loneliness, and despair of Hell. Perhaps one might be reunited with his or her earthly spouse in Paradise, provided that the basis for the reunion is shared belief and good deeds.

Some commentators use the Qur’anic statements that there will be pure azwaj (i.e. plural) as an indication that a pious man will go to Paradise and will have multiple Hur for his pleasure. Indeed, it is a contradiction of terms that a pious man who practices self-constraint should have multiple erotic pleasures as his objective. The use of the plural azwaj corresponds to the use of the plural preceding it: for ‘believers’ (and such terms). The usage is meant to indicate that companionship awaits those who believe (men and women) in their attainment of Paradise – not that each man will get multiple wives.

Paradise offers a standard at an even higher level: the perspective of Allah. From this perspective, the greatest importance of Paradise is attaining peace, ending all want, transcending all earthly limitations and finally coming into the company of Allah. These highest pleasures are the same for female inhabitants of Paradise as for males. With regard to the eternal, both woman and man are equal in their potential to experience this highest transcendence. When Qur’an offers fulfillment of desire in Paradise, what is most important will be closeness to Allah.

So the Paradise is described to the Muslim subconscious: whatever pleasure you like, such will await you in Paradise – if you restrain yourself from overindulgence, misuse and abuse here on earth. For the Arab patriarch, the primary audience of the Makkan period, it might be young virgin woman with white skin and large dark eyes. However, the Qur’an’s descriptions of the companions of Paradise must be viewed on the basis of its entire teachings, social and moral.

Equality Before God
The Qur’an depicts human individuals as having inherently equal value by looking at three stages in human existence. First, in the creation of humans, the Qur’an emphasizes the single origin of all humankind. “He created you from a single soul.” (4:2) Second, with regard to development here on earth, the Qur’an emphasizes that the potential for change, growth and development lies within the nafs of the individual (or the group) as well. “Allah does not change the condition of a folk until they (first) change what is in their anfus (plural of nafs).” (13:12) Finally, all human activity is given recompense on the basis of what the individual earns. (4:125)
The Qur’an does make distinctions between people. The value of the distinctions between humankind on earth can be clearly summed up by the Qur’anic statement in sura Al-Hujarat:
We created you from male and female and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed the most noble of you from Allah’s perspective is whoever has the most taqwa. (Al Qur’an 49:14)

It is clear that the Qur’an does not assign a higher value to a human based upon gender. They are both considered partners (Zawj) of each other and a source of comfort for each other:
And the believers, men and women, are friends of one another. They preach virtue and discourage evil. They observe salat, pay zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. It is these upon whom Allah will have mercy. (Al Qur’an 9:71)

Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him — Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward. (Al Qur’an 3:36)


 Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern Day Jordan.
[ii] The biological roots of heat-of-passion crimes and honor killings.

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