Friday, June 27, 2008

Story Time

Once upon a time, in a land called Mulan Pea there was a revert Muslimah who loved Islam very much. When she accepted Islam it changed her life, and made her a better person, alhamdulilah! About a year after reverting to Islam the Happy Muslimah started wearing the veil and became a Niqabi. She had done a lot of reading on the subject and found it to be an obligation (in her opinion).

Along with being very happy with her new faith, she was very happy to help others learn about it. She joined online groups and forums dedicated to spreading the word of Islam. The Happy Muslimah had a lot to learn about Dawah, but she tried her best.

One day an opportunity came along to volunteer for a dawah seminar. The seminar was part of a yearly convention for a rather large Islamic Organization in Mulan Pea. The sister enthusiastically participated in getting the word out about this event and any thing else she could help with. At times things seemed a bit unorganized, but she pressed on.

Finally, as the event drew closer she was asked to be one of the people that greeted the guests as they arrived and give them a tour of the rest of the convention. She was very excited about this opportunity. Unfortunately, when one of the organizers found out she was a niqabi, they didn't want her to do it anymore. She might scare the non-muslim guests. The Happy Muslimah was crushed.

As a niqabi, the sister had experienced some hard times because of the veil, but she felt that it was the right thing to do, so she didn't let it stop her. Never did she expect to be discriminated against by other Muslims. More than once, people had come right up to her and asked her about her veil and were genuinely interested. She was able to show the people of Mulan Pea that she was just a regular woman under there.

Sadly, the whole thing upset her very much, and her husband decided that they would not be attending the convention at all.

Alhamdulilah, Allah guides us to the right path.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Feminism & Islam

From the American Heritage Dictionary:
  1. Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
  2. The movement organized around this belief.

I've read a lot of interesting perspectives on feminism in Islam over the last few months. Some of them highlighting the freedoms and rights that Islam gives, and some mocking them as inadequate. Strangely enough, both of these perspectives have been coming from Muslim women.

Before I accepted Islam, I can admit I knew nothing about the rights it gives to women. As an outsider I had the same misconceptions that most people have. Women are oppressed, beaten down and 2nd class citizens. Once I started to learn about Islam, all of these things melted away. As my knowledge grew, so did my respect for a religion that offers so many rights to women.

One of the things that really struck me as amazing was the story of Adam and Hawa (Eve). In Christianity God prohibited both of them from eating the fruits of the forbidden tree. Eve was seduced by the serpent to eat from it, and in turn seduced Adam to do the same. When God asked Adam about what he did, he put all the blame on Eve, "The woman you put here with me --she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it." For this sin, they both were told they must leave the Garden of Eden. Childbirth would be painful for Eve, and she would be ruled by her husband. For him, the ground would not yield crops easily and he would have to toil for his food.

As you can see, in Christianity, Eve is the one to blame. In the Quran it says:

"O Adam dwell with your wife in the Garden and enjoy as you wish but approach not this tree or you run into harm and transgression. Then Satan whispered to them in order to reveal to them their shame that was hidden from them and he said: 'Your Lord only forbade you this tree lest you become angels or such beings as live forever.' And he swore to them both that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought them to their fall: when they tasted the tree their shame became manifest to them and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: 'Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan was your avowed enemy?' They said: 'Our Lord we have wronged our own souls and if You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost' " (7:19:23).

The Quran places blame with neither of them. The pain of childbirth is not a punishment and they are both forgiven for their sin.

Islam gives women true rights. Rights that we should be grateful for. I think the problem happens when some 'feminist sisters' try to compare the 'rights' of modern western women to those of the rights given to us by Allah Subhannah wa Ta'Allah. Who is to say that those rights of modern women are really any better than those given to us by Allah?

I find that most sisters that call themselves feminist are doing a disservice to Islam. Instead of embracing the rights that women are given and sharing it with others, they spend time finding news and articles of how women are being oppressed. What good does it do, to point out things that have nothing to do with Islam as practice of Muslims?

Islam is a perfect religion. We don't need to alter it, reject parts of it or interpret it so that it fits any modern standard.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Is the Knowledge Being Taken Away?

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al' As: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "Allah does not take away the knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray." (Book #3, Hadith #100)

This hadith was brought up in one of my classes a few weeks ago and I really can't stop thinking about it. It says so much about what is happening today. Many of our great scholars are getting older and dying and we are not getting so many great ones to replace them.

I am not going to name names, because that always gets me in trouble, but I find that the Ummah is starting to treat some of these 'scholars' of modern times like rock stars. Focusing on their method of delivery rather than the validity of the content. I've also seen people relying more and more on people who are not really scholars at all. These men have studied certain aspects of Islam, but are far from the level of the true scholars of the past and present. **I am editing this part out, because even though I didn't name names, it still got me in trouble. I'm sure we can all think of someone that fits this description.**

I always found it sad when a new revert to Islam is misguided by one of these people. May allah protect us all from that.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Eating Out

We had a long weekend a couple of weeks ago and the whole family was able to drive to Vermont to visit my mom. We had a nice time, helped her with a few things around the house and got a chance to relax.

We left on Sunday at about 4:00 in the afternoon. After driving for just over an hour we stopped in Rutland VT at a steak house for dinner. We decided to go there because we knew they would have some decent fish choices on the menu.

When we walked in I asked the hostess if we could be seated somewhere off in a corner so I could eat in peace with my niqab up. She lead us to a room that was full of empty tables, so I thought I would be safe. I was wrong. About 5 minutes later they bring in a family (I think it was a family) of a man a woman and a teenage girl. The man was wearing a confederate flag T-shirt. I really didn't know anyone was stupid enough to wear one of those anymore... especially in the North?? Anyway, I switched places with my husband so my back would be to them and thought I had it beat, but again, I was wrong. Another 10 minutes and they bring in a party of 8! Ok I give up!

When the food arrives I give it a try... and guess what? Its not hard at all to eat with a niqab.... I mean it would be easier without it, but its not as tricky as I thought it would be. Mind you I was eating crab cakes and not spaghetti... but it was nice to know that I could do it if I had to!

As the meal goes on, my son decides to tell us all of the Arabic letters and a word to go with each. Of course this had to be at 9 year old sound level, so I'm sure everyone heard him. He is a good boy, mashallah. The final crowning glory to the meal was when the people at the next table ordered wine and a couple of beers. My son leans over to me and says 'mommy, they are not muslims are they?'. I said no I don't think so, why? He then said, 'because they are drinking and thats HARAM!!! '