Friday, September 29, 2006

Muslim Men and Activism

All right, so last time, I talked about Muslim women and the need for us to get out there, start learning our Deen, and doing some major Da'wah, in our own communities first and foremost. In post, I'm going to deal with the guys, and the roles they ought to be playing in combating the issues we're dealing with in our Ummah.

As many of my respected commentators pointed out, it's the men who are pretty much in charge, and the men who need to do more in dealing with the problems within our communities. If the men start laying down the law - Shari'ah law, in its correct form - then I'm sure that we'd see a big change in the state of the Muslim Ummah.

So... where do we start? There are two places where I think this Islamic reform of our communities needs to take place: the Masjid, and the home.

At the Masjid, the Imaams and the Shuyookh need to teach the people true Islam - not 'cultural Islam', not 'progressive Islam', none of that. True Islam, as we have been taught by the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the consensus of the Islamic scholars. Starting with the basics of Islam (an explanation of the Hadith of Jibreel is excellent - it's like a summarization of what Islam is as a whole) - the concept of Tawheed, the fundamentals of our 'Aqeeda, and then going to the Qur'an and Sunnah as a guide on how to live as a good Muslim, wherever we may be living.

At home, we must take the knowledge from the Masjid and IMPLEMENT IT. The knowledge is of no use to us if we don't act on it.

As the Hadith says:
{It is related from 'Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. The amir in charge of the people is a shepherd and he is responsible for them. *A man is a shepherd in his family and is responsible for them.* The woman is a shepherd in her husband's house and children and is responsible for them. The servant is a shepherd of his master's property and is responsible for it. All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock." (Sahih Bukhari, #2416}

This is where the role of the man comes in - the man, the shepherd of his family, has to make sure that Shari'ah is implemented in his household, fully and correctly. Mind you, it shouldn't be done harshly, because being harsh and unkind is what turns people away from Islam rather than drawing them towards it.
So like the shepherd, the man must manage his family, firmly but gently keeping them on the correct path. And, of course, he himself must be the best example that he can be, because actions speak louder than words.

The Imams in the Masjid, and the men in the homes, have to make sure that everyone - men, women, and children - know what their rights and responsibilities are in Islam. For example, the man has to know what his responsibilities to his women and children are, as well as his rights over them; the woman must know what her rights and responsibilities are towards her husband and children; and even kids need to know that they have responsibilities and rights over their parents.

Honestly, I'm sure many - if not most - Muslims don't know exactly what their rights and responsibilities are in Islam, which is a shame, really, because this is something we NEED to know as Muslims, 'cuz it's all part of our awesome religion, and we'll be held accountable for it on the Day of Judgement. Remember, it's our OBLIGATION to seek knowledge, ESPECIALLY religious knowledge.

I think it'd be really, really awesome if the Imams and Shuyookh of all the Masaajid and Islamic centres organized events or courses or lectures or whatever, to teach the Muslim community about this particular subject - the rights and responsibilities of the individual in Islam. What do you think?

Anyway, yeah. Correct implementation of Shari'ah must start in the home.

Now, back to the original topic - men getting involved in activism in our community. In the West, we have many, many Shuyookh who ARE extremely involved in the Muslim community, doing a LOT to educate the Muslims - people like Bilal Philips, Anwar al-Awlaki (I looooove his lectures!), Yasir Qadhi, Yasir Ibrahim, and so on. They do amazing work, traveling to give lectures, attending conferences, etc. They devote great time and effort into doing these things for the Muslim community, often for nothing except reward from Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala - and may Allah reward them abudantly indeed!

However, I think that with issues such as honour killing, or rather general discrimination against women, these things are found most commonly in the Muslim world (not that it doesn't happen
at all here in the West, but it's far less common), and THAT is where a lot more men need to start educating their fellow men. I mean, even if the women know that not letting girls get an
education, or making them get married to someone they don't like, or not letting them participate in activities that are halaal, or honour killings and stuff are unIslamic, doesn't mean that the men know - and some men, even if their women tell them it's unIslamic and provide the proof for it too, just won't listen to a woman in these matters.

And that's why the Imaams and Shuyookh over there need to start getting active in combating these issues... because they have the power, the influence, to make those men realize that some of the things they're doing are unIslamic and that they need to change the way they behave towards their girls and women. These things may be taboo issues, but they MUST be addressed. As Muslims, we have the obligation to enjoin good and forbid evil. So again, it falls to those with the greatest power and influence - in this case the men - to address these issues and work towards resolving them.

Islam gives men responsibilities towards women, that they must fulfill. It is also the responsibility of Muslim men to encourage this fulfillment of their duties towards their female counterparts - for does not God command us to "Enjoin the good, and forbid the evil"?

O Muslim men, fear Allah and the Day of Judgement! Fulfill your responsibilities to your sisters in Islam! Give them the rights that God gave them - and if you do not, then indeed you will be one of the oppressors!

Hadith Qudsi #17:

On the authority of Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is that among the sayings he relates from his Lord(may He be glorified) is that He said:

"‘O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another..." (Narrated by Muslim)

“And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allaah? Such will be brought before their Lord, and the witnesses will say, ‘These are the ones who lied against their Lord!’ No doubt! The curse of Allaah is on the zaalimoon (polytheists, wrong-doers, oppressors, etc.).” [Surah Hood 11:18]

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Every deed of the human being is for himself and its reward is multiplied for him from ten to seven hundred times. Allah says: ‘Except for fasting, for truly it is for Me and I alone will reward it, for verily he abandoned his desires, his food, and his drink for my sake.’ The one who fasts experiences two joys, one upon breaking his fast and one when he meets his Lord. Surely the breath of the fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

Monday, September 25, 2006

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ramadan Resolutions

It's Ramadan!!!!!!! That amazing, glorious month, full of blessings just waiting to be racked up That month in which God closes the gates of Hell and throws open the gates of Paradise... when the shayaateen, the devils, are chained up and we have only ourselves to battle.
And that's the hard part, isn't it? Fighting ourselves, our nafs, our whims and desires. That's why I've decided to make a list of Ramadan Resolutions. Ramadan is gonna be extra-hard for me this year, because it's in this new city, away from aaaaaaaaall my friends and the Islamic centre we used to go to for Iftaars on weekends and for Taraweeh, and we don't even have a house yet (we're staying with my grandparents), and I feel like I'm going to go crazy (I've been feeling that way for the last 2 1/2 months, though... that's how long we've been here, and STILL no house!) and it's just not going to be the same as the last several Ramadans... *Sniffles*

Anyway... here are this year's Ramadan Resolutions!

1: Control my temper and my tongue. One of the hardest things to do, especially when I'm 'in a mood' and lonely and bored and grumpy and missing home and ready to cry...

2: Read a lot more Qur'an. Go over Juz 'Ammah, improve recitation and memorization. Start memorizing Juz Tabaarak.

3: Help around the house more often. I really should do more chores to ease the burden from my mom and grandparents.

4: Spend less time on the Internet and more time doing other stuff (like reading Qur'an and other Islamic books or helping around the house). I need to majorly cut down on the time I spend reading blogs... but I'm going to continue to blog, because sitting down and writing out posts is for me a way to organize my thoughts and clear out my head, and I always feel better after doing so.

5: Try to really 'feel' the spirit of Ramadan, even though I don't have my friends to help me out.
Having them around always made things so much easier... I dunno, but I always felt that my Imaan level went up around them, 'cuz we'd be talking about Islam all the time, and sharing that amazing bond of Islamic sisterhood helped me sooo much, made it easier to remember Allah all the time and control myself and just be a better Muslimah...

Well, those are the five things that I can think of right now. If you've got anything to add (and I'm sure you do!), more resolutions or tips on how to accomplish them, please do tell...

May this Ramadan be an amazingly fantastically awesome one for all of us, and may we benefit from it in every way possible, emerging stronger in faith and purified in soul... ameen!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Messenger

(No, not Messenger as in Prophet, but messenger as in someone who delivers messages...)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

On Canada’s Military Involvement in Afghanistan – and Why We Should Stop It

(Version 2 of my English essay; I scrapped version 1 but incorporated parts of it into this one)

For the first time in many, many years, Canada is involved in a military campaign – Afghanistan, the first country to get blown to bits in the name of the ‘War on Terror’.
There are many reasons for which we are in Afghanistan, we are told by our government. The main three reasons are: defending our national interests, ensuring Canadian leadership in world affairs, and helping to rebuild Afghanistan. Of course, there are also the other reasons – fighting ‘terrorism’, supporting our ally America, and, of course, bringing freedom and democracy to Afghanistan. And even more reasons: dealing with the drug trade in Afghanistan (which is responsible for almost half of the world’s cocaine), giving Canadian soldiers some real combat practice, and gaining respect from the rest of the world.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Except that if we look closely at each of these reasons, if we really analyze them, we’ll find that they’re all flawed. Fatally flawed, even. And by the time we’re finished, we’ll realize just why our military involvement in Afghanistan is doing far more harm to us – and to the Afghans – than good.
The logical way to start is, of course, at the beginning. In this case, it would be why there’s a war in Afghanistan in the first place. Everybody knows that after 9/11 happened, America was mad, and needed to take it out on someone. They turned to Afghanistan, where the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks Usama bin Laden –casually referred to by many as OBL – was said to be hanging out. America, practically frothing at the mouth, declared that the Taliban must hand him over – or else. The Taliban – quite reasonably, in my opinion – asked for evidence of Bin Laden’s crimes. America refused to do so. Then the Taliban offered that they would hand over Bin Laden to a neutral country, where he would be brought to trial in a court of justice. Again, America refused. What happened to democracy and diplomacy then? America threw it out the window, preferring instead to declare war on Afghanistan. Once again, a country ravaged by war for decades, just barely on the brink of recovery, was plunged into death and destruction.
In 2001, then-Canadian-Prime Minister Jean Chretien declared that Canada would join America in its ‘war on terror’, for many of the reasons stated above. And thus began Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan, which has been the cause of much controversy and heated debate amongst Canadians.
Let us now begin our decomposition of the reasons for which we are in Afghanistan. Number One: fighting terrorism. This is the main reason, one which even most anti-war activists acknowledge, however reluctantly.
The truth is that since the launch of the ‘War on Terror’, terrorism has, in fact, only grown. Attacks in Bali, Britain, Spain, and elsewhere have proven it. The war has given the so-called ‘Jihadists’ more excuses to do what they are doing.
If we truly want to fight terrorism, war is not the way to do it. As everyone should know, when you have a problem, you have to deal with the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. And with this particular issue, with the ‘war on terror’, it is even more so. These attacks happened. But why? Deal with the root causes, and you’re on your way to eliminating the issue altogether. Many books have been written on this topic, so I shall suffice with just a sentence to quickly summarize it: the root cause of OBL’s ‘brand of terror’ (as some have called it) is not a desire to take over the world, but anger at the plight of Muslims all over the world, who are suffering under cruel dictators and tyrannical regimes (most of which, by the way, are approved of by the West, Egypt’s Husni Mubarak and Pakistan’s General Musharraf being two cases in point) and whose situations have either been instigated by, ignored by, and/or taken advantage of by the West. If the West – specifically America - just stopped once, evaluated their foreign policies and their impact on the Muslim world, they’d realize just why they’re hated by so many people. The next step would be to change their policies so that they’re less self-serving and show more compassion for the people of the countries they’re mucking about it… although maybe that’s just too much wishful thinking.
The point is, the so-called war on terror isn’t working. It is attacking the symptoms, not the cause, and as long as that continues, the war will continue, and people will continue to die needlessly.
National security is another point that the pro-war people bring up in defence of the war. However, studies have shown that the threat of terrorist attacks in Canada has risen since we have entered Afghanistan on a military mission. The alleged plot by the 17 young men in Ontario simply highlights this fact.
Once pretty much ignored by the ‘terrorists’, viewed as a neutral sort of country not really worth noticing, we have now become, in their eyes, on par with America, the ‘Great Satan’. We are now considered their supporters, partners in crime, and as such, a legitimate target – and as a Canadian citizen, I find that very worrying.
A member of the Taliban, Mullah Dadullah, who appeared on al-Jazeera TV, stated: "Our main enemy is the United States. As for Canada and the other countries - we have no historical enmity with them. But if they want to come here as fighting forces, we will view them just as we view the Americans, and will conduct resistance against them. But if they return to where they came from, and withdraw their forces from here, we will not view them like the Americans, but as countries which we have nothing to do with."
This clearly shows that they wish no ill against us, have no grudge against us, and would gladly leave us alone if we just left them alone. Wouldn’t it be so much better for us if we stopped military activity and resumed the role of peacekeeping, humanitarian aid givers? The lives of our soldiers would be spared, and more could be done to help the Afghan people – which is supposed to be our main goal anyway – if we stopped spending so much money on military ventures and focused more on the humanitarian aid we should be providing.
Not only that, but as NDP leader Jack Layton said in his statement to the Canadian public on August 31st of this year, our defence dollars are going towards the war in Afghanistan instead – leaving us, the Canadian public, less secure. So much for national security!
Now, let’s move onto the issue of our ‘national interests’ in Afghanistan. If we look closely, we’ll see that we don’t have national interests in Afghanistan. We do not share borders with them, we do have any disputes with them, nothing. The only ‘national interest’ we have in Afghanistan is that of colonizing it – not in the traditional sense, perhaps, of sending Canadians to live there and establish it as ‘Canadian land’ – but in the imperialist sense of making it a base of power for ourselves, of making sure that our personal interests are catered to, rather than doing what’s best for the Afghanis, of controlling the affairs of others.
This thought is extremely troubling, and we as Canadians – as human beings! – ought to be concerned and yes, even alarmed. Imperialism is something that benefits only some and harms many, and in this case especially, if the Canadian government continues in its attempt to be more like America to the point that its willing to adopt even its ideology – an ideology which, by the way, can be considered to be the reason behind widespread anger and hatred towards America around the world – be sure that there will be serious consequences. Nobody likes an imperialist – especially the victims of imperialism, who have a tendency to rise up against the imperialist forces and harm them severely. And if the Canadian government tries to follow in America’s footsteps and impose Canadian imperialism over Afghanistan, then what we can expect is for our country, at some time in the future, to suffer.
People do not take kindly to having their affairs managed by those who care nothing about the people and everything about the power and wealth that they have, and when the people get sick and tired of being taken advantage of, they will fight back, and few revolutions have shown much mercy to the imperialist oppressors being removed. Is this what we want for Canada, now or in the future? Certainly not!
Therefore, for our government to use the ‘national interests of Canada’ as an excuse to impose Canadian imperialism in Afghanistan is highly irresponsible and furthermore, in no way beneficial to our national interests – which is first and foremost to keep our country and our citizens safe from all harm – but is indeed contrary to that very goal.
A slogan popularly trumpeted in the marketing of the war in Afghanistan is that of “Bringing freedom and democracy to a failed state!”
Well, if you call a puppet government made up of warlords and drug lords, who have almost zero power outside of the capital city, and who cannot leave their own houses with an entourage of bodyguards, a democracy – pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
But if you, like me, disagree with that definition of ‘freedom and democracy’, then by looking at the state of Afghanistan today we can swiftly conclude that our military involvement in Afghanistan has done far more harm than good. Afghanistan today is ten times worse than it ever was under the Taliban. Contrary to what everyone says, life for the average Afghani has NOT improved.
Outside of Kabul, women and girls still do not go to school, or walk around freely, as RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) reports. If anything, they are in even more danger, of being kidnapped and raped by the lawless militias that roam the countryside. Men still cannot find work, are still unable to provide even the basic necessities of life for their families. Reports by Amnesty International’s Children’s Rights Section say that children are regularly kidnapped, held for ransom, and killed if their demands are not fulfilled swiftly.
That’s not all. The drug trade – yet another reason for which the Canadian government says we’re in Afghanistan, to try and destroy the drug trade – is blooming. Opium crops have doubled since the war, and there are alarming statistics that link America’s presence – and that of its allies – with the increasing success of the drug trade. Some suspect that the CIA, or at the very least American soldiers, are involved in smuggling cocaine back into the States; others point out the relationship between the Americans and the drug lords of Afghanistan, who have grown in power and wealth and are exploiting it disgustingly at the expense of the average Afghani.
However, what little action being taken against the drug trade is not being done in a proper manner. The Senlis Council, an international policy think tank that works in the fields of foreign policy, security, and counter-narcotics, the current counter-narcotics policies being implemented by the ‘international community’ are doing more to harm Afghanis – for whom poppy cultivation is one of the few sources of income – and not doing much damage to the actual drug trade. As a result, there continues to be a terrible poverty crisis in Afghanistan – a crisis that Canada could be doing more to solve.
The one thing that most Canadians support, or approve of, as a reason for our presence in Afghanistan is that of helping to rebuild Afghanistan. But as we have seen, Afghanistan today is worse than it was under the Taliban.
And I ask you: do the construction of homes, schools, hospitals, and so on require soldiers? What does making life better for the Afghanis, by helping supply them with basic necessities, have to do with violence? We could be doing a lot more to help the Afghanis if we stopped spending so much money on the military and more on humanitarian aid. Instead, we are spending money on military ventures that are simply creating more enemies against us – something very important to remember in this respect is the fact that many of the so-called ‘terrorists’, the ‘rebels’, are simply civilians who don’t take kindly to having a zillion trigger-happy soldiers riding in big tanks trampling the countryside and shooting at them.
More blood is shed, more lives ended, more hearts broken, more widows made, in a country that has seen too much of blood, death, broken hearts and widows.
By killing their fathers, brothers, and sons, we are not helping the Afghanis. We are only turning more of them against us. It is time for us to put down our guns, and focus solely on providing humanitarian aid. Let us give the Afghanis what they really need – the basic necessities of life, and the tools for a better future – and stop this senseless killing.
No matter what people may say – that we are defending freedom, that we are fighting the enemies of freedom, that we are spreading democracy, that we are a people who stand by their allies and do not ‘cut and run’ – the blunt truth is that for Canada to be involved militarily in Afghanistan does little good and much harm. People are dying for no reason but that they dare to fight back against an invading army that showed utter disrespect for diplomacy; even if they surrender, they can expect torture, and even death (numerous reports have proven that American-run prisons torture inmates on a regular basis, and 800 Taliban soldiers who had surrendered were mercilessly killed by the Americans in November 2001).
The Americans have a very, very bad track record, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and even though they may be our allies, we as Canadians cannot support them when they do things contrary to our beliefs and international law. Organizations like the Human Rights Watch have proven that America has been using cluster bombs in Afghanistan, which pose a serious danger to innocents more than to any ‘terrorists’; whole villages have been bombed, only for the American army to say later on that it was a ‘mistake’, the result of ‘misinformation’; and other such examples. Can we, in our right minds, support this kind of thing?! Absolutely not! It goes against everything that we believe in as Canadians, as human beings! Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies such crimes against humanity. And this is something that we must remember, lest we fall prey to war supporters who loudly cry that we have to fight the ‘terrorists’ by any means necessary. The end does not justify the means!
In another desperate bid to gather support for the war, the Prime Minister and other proponents of the war claim that Canada must be involved in Afghanistan, to show the world that Canada is not content to watch from the sidelines.
Yet to establish Canadian leadership in world affairs, we did not have to follow a country well-known for its brashness and disrespect for others and embroil ourselves in a very sticky situation out of which there is no getting out of easily. Canadians have always been proud of the fact that we are a country that hates war and loves peace, that does whatever it can in the political arena to try and resolve disagreements between angry countries. And now? Now we’re starting to be known as “America’s shadow”. Our reputation, once one that was greatly respected all around the world, is now sneered at, looked down upon, viewed with derision. People are disappointed in us. We are disappointed in ourselves.
If we really want to be good leaders in world affairs, we should not be giving into peer pressure from the U.S. and doing whatever they tell us to. We should stand up, make our own decisions, choose our own course, and be an example to the rest of the world by showing that good leaders don’t have to show their power by the force of their military, but by daring to lay down weapons and start actively, peacefully, working towards peace. Words, not weapons! That is what our motto ought to be.
Lastly, there are those people crass enough to say that a benefit of our military involvement in Afghanistan is that our soldiers are getting ‘real’ combat practice. To me – and no doubt to anyone with a conscience – that is absolutely disgusting. Keep in mind that ‘real’ combat practice involves hurting and killing people – many of whom, we have seen from reports, are actually civilians and not the ‘terrorists’ they claim that they’re fighting. Real people, innocent men, women, and children, who did nothing wrong but were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The logical thing to do, the moral thing to do, is to stop fighting and start helping. It is time for us to put down our guns, and focus solely on providing humanitarian aid. Let us give the Afghanis what they really need – the basic necessities of life, and the tools for a better future – and stop this senseless killing.
By pursuing military activity, we are only hurting ourselves – our national interests are not being defended or served; the excuse of establishing Canadian leadership in world affairs is ridiculous, and if we really wanted to be good leaders in world affairs, we’d stop fighting and start negotiating; and as long as we keep fighting and killing Afghanis – because the Taliban are Afghanis, and although they certainly weren’t perfect, they rescued the country while it was on the brink of destruction after the Soviet war, which was better than what America and other Western countries did – we will not be helping rebuild Afghanistan to the best of our ability.
As a Muslim and as a Canadian, I believe that the right thing to do is for Canada to withdraw from all military activity and concentrate its efforts on humanitarian aid. Canada cannot be a participant in an unjust war, and to continue involvement only compromises our national security and does more harm than good. Furthermore, there are many Canadians who think the way I do – and as Canadians, whose fellow citizens are being sent off to fight and die in a country and a war that isn’t ours, we ought to have the right to pull our army out of there.
In short, our military involvement in Afghanistan is counterproductive to our goals and interests.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Snake Charmer

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Responding to Provocations

Argh... you know what is really, really embarassing? When something happens - like the Danish cartoons, and now the Pope and his anti-Islam comments - and we Muslims get all mad and offended... and with good reason, but some people (a lot of people...) react in a way that isn't really fitting for Muslims to act. It makes me cringe when I hear of Muslims freaking out and trashing buildings and burning flags and stuff... and, of course, it just gives the non-Muslims a worse view of us, and people like Daniel Pipes and his rabble-rousing ilk have more fodder to use against us, and they can say, "You see! These Muslims are barbaric, backwards people!Islam is evil!"

At times like this, we Muslims can only blame ourselves for our bad image. Why can't people control their tempers?! The Prophet (peace be upon him) had the Mushrikeen of the Quraish throw the innards of a camel on him, but HE didn't go on rampage! Why can't we follow his example? Why can we not control ourselves, and realize that by acting in this way, we're bringing more harm upon OURSELVES?

What we need to do is react in a very controlled manner... no riots and rampages, but make it clear to the people responsible that what they have done is NOT acceptable. The leaders of Muslim countries should recall their ambassadors and diplomats, the Shuyookh should tell the people not to react violently, but intellectually - and to make lots of du'aa, 'cuz that was the Prophet's weapon, and that should be OUR weapon. In the West, I think Muslims are dealing with it fairly well... we have our organizations calling for apologies, and we don't have the riots... but in the Muslim world - yaa ikhwatil Muslimeen, we cannot act in this manner! Do you think that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would be proud of the way we're acting? Do you think that he would approve of it? If he stopped his Companions from reacting strongly to the Quraish, do you think that if he was alive today, he would allow us to act in this way? Laa wallah! Attacking churches? People, it's haraam to do so! The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade the attacking of places of worship during war - and if it's forbidden in war, is it not even more so during times of peace? It only inflames matters, makes it harder for us to solve the problem...

So please, please, please: STOP IT! Stop rioting! Stop attacking people! Stop firebombing churches! This behaviour is totally contrary to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and it does not help us in any way. It only harms our cause.Remember, WE, the MUSLIM UMMAH, are REPRESENTATIVES of Islam. So if we freak out and start trashing buildings and attacking churches and so on, it only makes the non-Muslims think that Islam is evil and Muslims are violent. That is NOT true, as we all know. But because of our behavior, that's what they think.

On the Day of Judgement, would you like to be standing before God and admit that because of YOUR behaviour, you drove people away from Islam rather than giving Da'wah in the proper manner of the Prophet (peace be upon him)? Huh?

So think about that, before you go and tarnish the image of Islam even further. All right?

Now, to address any non-Muslims who may be reading this... what many of those Muslims are doing, attacking churches and so on, is NOT condoned by Islam. In fact, much of their behaviour is forbidden in Islam. But the reason that they're reacting in that manner is because, well, that's the only way they know how to react. They live in countries that are poor, ruled by tyrants, almost never allowed to express their opinions. Only in situations like these are they allowed to let loose their emotions - because the despotic rulers don't really give a damn about the issue, and they think it's a good way to let the people let off steam without harming them (the rulers).
Also, many of these people are ignorant as to the proper adaab (manner) of reacting to situations like these... Islam advises calmness and good manners even in times when our religion is being insulted, but not all Muslims know that, or follow that.
The thing that must be kept in mind is that not all Muslims behave the way that Islam tells them to. The actions of a people are not necessarily condoned by the religion they follow - and that's especially true with Islam.

So I ask you, please, don't judge Islam based on what Muslims do, because what Muslims do isn't always in accordance with Islam. If you really want to learn about Islam, do some independent research... and don't go to sites like Jihadwatch for your info, 'cuz you'll just get told that Islam's a religion of violence and evil and rubbish like that. A good place to start your search - (you'll find a link to the English section), (same as the last site, you'll find where to get directed to the english part of the websites),,

So, ummm, yeah... don't judge Islam based on the nasty things some Muslims do. Go do some real research, from authentic sources.
Or, you could just ask me, your friendly neighborhood Muslim Mouse! :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Muslim Women and Activism

I've been thinking about this particular subject quite a bit lately... women's rights, especially Muslim women's rights, is a big thing now. People like Irshad Manji, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Asra Nomani, and Amina Wadud are all aplauded by the Western media because they 'dare' to 'speak out against discrimination of women in Islam'. People call them 'heroines', 'examples of strong Muslim women', etc. And why? Because under the guise of 'reforming Islam', they are trying to destroy it. They accuse the Qur'an and Sunnah of being 'misogynistic', of being discriminatory against women, of treating women as 'second-class citizens'. And what's worse is, many Muslims actually support them, too.

Reading about people like them make me cringe. But sometimes I can also sort of understand where they're coming from. In their calls for 'reform' they cite examples of things in the Muslim world that DO discriminate against women. But the thing is, those things are cultural practices, not accepted by Islam. Like honour killings, or forcing girls into marriage, or the 'blood-on-marriage-sheet' virginity test... all of these things are CULTURAL PRACTICES, not Islamic ones - even if people use the name of Islam to justify those practices. Yet it is because of these things that people the likes of whom I mentioned above get away with saying what they say and doing what they do.

And this raises a very important question: what are we going to do about it? By 'we' I refer to the Muslim Ummah in general, and Muslim women specifically.
There are two things that we must do: First, fully acknowledge that we DO have these problems. Many people refuse to believe that these things are happening, and others just turn a blind eye to it because, well, it's one of those cultural taboo issues.

The second thing we need to do is, after raising awareness of these isssues, we have to sit down and think about how to solve these issues, ISLAMICALLY. Then we stop talking and actually DO SOMETHING.

So: how do we solve these issues? We need people from the different cultures - Arab, Pakistani/Indian, African, etc. - to come forward, really learn about Islam and what it has to say on the different topics, and then go back out there and start teaching the people of their culture that many of the things they're doing are Islamically incorrect. Forget about Da'wah to the non-Muslims; it is Muslims themselves who are in dire need of it. We need people who speak the language, know the culture, and know how to communicate with their people. We need both men and women to do this job, because both men and women play a role in carrying out these cultural traditions.
Furthermore, we need to establish Islamic support groups, so that those people - especially girls - who feel that their family or whoever is trying to impose unIslamic things on them have others to turn to, people who will sympathize with them, try to help them, improve their situation, and at the very least, will show true Islamic love for them, thus strengthening the bonds of Islamic brother- and sister-hood.

Also, I think that Muslim women - REAL Muslim women, who really practice Islam and wear proper hijaab (as in, not just a flimsy little piece of cloth paired with tight pants and shirts and faces caked with makeup) - need to start getting really active in their local Muslim communities. We need more women studying Islam (as in, actually going to Islamic universities) and providing strong foundations for their Muslim communities, especially in working with fellow
Muslimah women and teenagers, who have a LOT of problems that need to be addressed and dealt with. Women whose role models are the Ummahaat al-Mu'mineen (Mothers of the Believers, used to refer to the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), the Sahaabiyyaat (female Companions of the Prophet), Maryam Umm-'Eesa (Mary, mother of Jesus), and Aasiyah the wife of Fir'aun (the Pharoah mentioned in the story of Moses): these are the women whom the Ummah is in desperate need of. Stop taking Oprah, J. Lo, and Tyra Banks as your role models, and start taking the great Muslim women of the past as your role models!

O Muslim women, where are you? Why do you not aspire to be like those women whom God has said were the best women in the world? Aasiyah, Maryam, Khadijah, Fatima... chosen by God and purified and raised in status above all other women!
Where are the Aasiyahs, the Maryams, the Khadijahs, the Fatimas, of today? You want to know why Muslim women are viewed as poor, oppressed, brainwashed slaves? It's because we, the Muslim women of this Ummah, have strayed from the Qur'an and Sunnah. It is because WE have stopped aspiring to be like the great women of Islam in the past. It is because WE have been content with seeking the material things of the Dunyah, of this world, that will be of no use to us when we die. It is because WE have stopped seeking that which will lead us to Paradise. It is because WE have allowed others to take advantage of us; because WE have not educated ourselves regarding our roles, our rights, our responsibilites, in Islam.

If we are to blame anyone, we must blame ourselves. No one is responsible for our situation but ourselves. So now, let us stop complaining about our situation, and do something about it. Let us educate ourselves about our religion, and let us go out and do as the Ummahaat al-Mu'mineen did, as the Sahaabiyyaat did. Go out there, and educate others. Work with your fellow sisters in Islam, teach them their religion, help solve their problems, provide support, and strengthen the bonds of sisterhood in Islam. And in this way, we will improve ourselves, and the Ummah, and THEN we can expect our sad situation to change for the better - insha'Allah. After all, God helps those who help themselves.

May Allah help us all become better Muslims, and help us help make the world a better place, and improve our situation as an Ummah, and make us successful in this world and in the Hereafter... Ameen!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Scheherazade, Sheherazade, Shahrazad... whatever you call her, however you spell her name, she was an amazing woman. Yeah, I know, she wasn't real... but still. The heroine of the Arabian Nights. Smart, brave, and beautiful, she managed to do the impossible: help her husband, Shahrayar of Samarkand, learn to love again. And all by telling him bedtime stories.

Even though I haven't actually read the Arabian Nights stories (well, I've read a couple of them - Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves...), I still find her fascinating. One of my favourite books ever is called The Storyteller's Daughter, by Cameron Dokey, and it's about - you guessed it - Scheherazade. But it's different from other stories about her. This book has a fairy-tale quality to it, but with a uniquely 'Eastern' flavour. It tells the story not of the Arabian Nights, but of Scheherazade herself and her relationship with Shahrayar, how it started and how it grew until it blossomed into love. Shahrayar isn't portrayed as cruel or evil, as many people try to make him seem, but more as someone whose heart was broken to the point that he felt that he could never love any woman ever again - but of course he's proven wrong.

Mind you, I'm not usually one for romance - I like action and adventure (with lots of fantasy thrown in), but I also have a weakness for fairy tales and retellings of fairy tales. The Storyteller's Daughter has everything. Action, adventure, tales of wit and wonder, in a faraway land of silk and jewels and gossamer, and, of course, a handsome king and beautiful queen who fall in love.

It is, quite simply, fantastic.

Where Is Everybody?!

*Looks around at the empty room*

What happened to you, people? Where are you? I feel so looooonely... my last two long posts got ZERO comments! Have you abandoned me? Or are you just too busy with the real world? (That's probably it, of course... I'm sure you all have *real lives* that require you to be places other than on the Internet...)


Anyway, umm, yeah... I just want to know where you are, 'cuz I'm bored and lonely and my life isn't very exciting right now. So... just leave a line or two to let me know you're all still alive, okay? Please!
*Puppy eyes you can't resist*

Your bored and lonely little ukhti,

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Reading Lesson

Isn't this a lovely painting? I think it's one of the few examples of Orientalist art that don't seek to turn women into purely sexual objects. This painting is sweet and beautiful in its simplicity - a mother, teaching her daughter to read. In this painting, the woman is beautiful, but in a more maternal than sexual way; and furthermore, the woman is educated.

I really love this picture...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Conversation with God
(Hadith Qudsi regarding Surah al-Fatiha)

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (radhi'Allahu 'anhu), the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alahi wa sallam) said:

Indeed, Allah has said: I have divided prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, and My servant shall have what he has asked for.

Bismillaah ir-Rahmaan ir-Raheem
*In the name of God, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful*

Alhamdulillahi Rabil ‘alameen
*All Praises are due to God, Lord of the worlds* - Allah responds ‘My slave has praised Me’

ArRahman arRaheem
*The Beneficient, Most Merciful* - Allah says ‘My slave has extolled Me’

Maliki youmid-Deen
*King of the Day of Judgement*- ‘My slave has proclaimed My Greatness’

Iyyaaka na’budu wa iyyaaka nasta’een
*You alone do we worship, and to You alone do we turn to for help* – ‘This is between Me and My slave and I grant to My slave what he has asked.'

Ihdinaa siraat al-mustaqeen
*Guide us to the Straight Path* – ‘All this is there for My slave. He shall be given what he prays for.’ The remaining ayaat have the same response

Siraat al-latheena in’amata ‘alaihim
*The path of those whom You have graced*

Ghair il-maghdoubi ‘alayhim wa la daleen
*Not of those who have deserved Your Anger, nor those who have gone astray*

Narrated by Muslim (also by Malik, at-Tirmidhi, Abu-Dawud, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah).

The Pelt Merchant of Cairo

(And no, I don't support killing animals for their fur...)

Friday, September 01, 2006


As you know, I'm a teenager. And that means one word: rebellion. Yeah, I know, I seem like a good kid. My passions are religion (Islam), politics, and solving the world's problems, and there aren't many teenagers who can say that (I think... am I being too presumptuous and arrogant?). But that doesn't mean that I'm an exception to every rule. Especially the rebellion one.

I'm not going into any details though, so there. Muahaha.

But anyway, I started thinking about rebellion in general, not just teenage rebellion.

Rebellion is something that is part of human nature. We all rebel - against our parents, the standards we're held to, the restrictions and taboos of society. Pretty much every form of authority there is, we rebel against, in some way or another.

But rebellion is one of those things that, I think, we need to keep in check. It is so easy to slip and end up committing haraam. And the absolute worst thing that we could ever do is rebel against Allah. Against God. And that is totally scary.

I totally understand why we rebel. We hate having all these rules and regulations, restricting us, stopping us from doing whatever we want to do. It's something that we were created with, a part of us. But it is one of those 'parts of us' that we need to do Jihad against. Jihad an-Nafs. The Jihad of the Self. Fighting those whims and desires that threaten to plunge us into haraam, and (may Allah protect us all) into shirk.

There are many examples of rebellion amongst us. In the West, it's almost a culture in and of itself - Gothic punks seem to be the very epitome of rebellion in this society. It starts with changing your wardrobe so that you look totally different from everyone else... and then your behaviour changes. Rudeness, crudeness, total lack of respect, constant pushing of the boundaries. What do they get out of it? An adrenaline rush, maybe, from the thrill of not doing what everyone tells them to, of doing whatever they want. Of power.
But other than that? Nothing, really. They hurt themselves more than anyone else. A lot of them, who started out relatively innocent, get sucked into the big stuff. The bad stuff.

But it's not just the West. Rebellion is now becoming much more common in the East - the Middle East. Oh yes... the Arab world, the Muslim world, is not spared from this. They may want to think so, they may like to think that it's not happening to them, but it is. And they better face reality, soon, so that they can deal with it the right way before it gets worse, before it gets out of control.

For example: Just the other day I read an article about young people, especially teen girls, in Iran getting tattoos in secret, as a way to rebel against familial and societal restrictions and taboos. Because they disagree with the way their families and society dictate things, they try to rebel by doing exactly what they're told NOT to do. And you can read about the stuff Saudi teens get into, as a form of rebellion. Not just Saudi or Iran, either; I'm sure this is happening all over the Arab world. The next generation is not content with the state of things as they are,
and they're determined to fight against it.

This sort of thing really bothers me. I know that there are issues in the culture, in the society, and I know they need to be dealt with. But the things people are doing now isn't the right way to do it. Instead of dealing with these issues in a pro-active manner, they are rebelling to the extent of doing haraam.
The tattoos, the hidden booze, the secret girlfriends/boyfriends... no way. They are HARAAM, and NOTHING good will come of it. The change they want in their societies is not going to come about that way. Once again, they only harm themselves.

If they think that their society has major issues that need to be dealt with, they need to do it the right way, by raising awareness, by bringing these things out in public, so that no one can pretend it's not happening. Then go to the Qur'an and Sunnah and prove that these cultural practices are wrong.

Awareness and activism. That's the way to do it.

Or so I think, anyway.
For example, if I were in, say, Saudi, and I wanted to address issues such as racism, or sexism, then what I'd to is take stuff from the Qur'an and Sunnah and show them that racism and sexism are wrong in Islam. I would also perhaps bring these issues to the attention of those in power, and enlist their aid in raising awareness of these issues and working to combat them. (But then, maybe I'm just being too optimistic and idealistic... I dunno. Would that approach even work in the Middle East? But whatever. That's what I'd do.)

Don't give up. Stuff like this won't be solved in one night. Positive change isn't going to come about quickly. Simply persevere, be determined, don't give up, and ALWAYS have faith in Allah. Ask Him to grant you strength, and success, and above all: PATIENCE! (Of which we are all in short supply, I think...)

In every culture, there are issues. There are problems. Things are done that are wrong. And these things need to have attention brought to them, and the people of that society need to work to combat those issues.

Challenge stereotypes, challenge cultural expectations, but don't fall into haraam while doing so. Always, always, stay within the boundaries of Islam.

And... that's it for now, I think. If I've missed anything, or made an error, or if you have something to add, please do point it out!