YouTube isn’t for Muslim women

 

97F7DAA7-DB84-4194-918A-F93A2629688CRecently, I came across a YouTube video which was about Muslim female vloggers. It claimed these women, by making vlogs on make-up and clothing were directly disobeying a verse from the Quran. I have heard the same verse used many times by ‘scholars’ to propagate that a Muslim woman

 

-Must stay at home unless there is a real necessity to come out (i.e. must not have a job outside the home).

-Cannot wear make-up outside her home

-Must be completely shrouded so only her eyes are uncovered

-If she must leave the house, a male companion will accompany her

 

However, as I’m sure you’ll know, many people repeating the same mantra does not make the mantra a truth.

 

Let’s take a look at the verse. It is from Surah Al Ahzaab, verse 33:

 

وَقَرْنَ فِى بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلاَ تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَـهِلِيَّةِ الاٍّولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَوةَ وَءَاتِينَ الزَّكَـوةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُـمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيــراً

 

And stay in your houses, and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance, and perform the Salah, and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah wishes only to remove the Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification.

 

Above is the common translation of the verse and the English translation is a direct reflection of what the ‘scholars’, for centuries now, have been interpreting the verse to mean. An interpretation tainted with deeply embedded misogyny and a need to control women. Yet, despite the layers of distortion and misguidance, the truth remains; The Quran holds the key to true understanding.

 

Firstly, if you loot at the verse before this one in the Quran, you will clearly understand these words are directed towards the wives of the Prophet. Secondly, the word (an imperative verb)  ‘قَرْنَ’  is interpreted as ‘Stay’ when its root ‘وقر’ is in fact the same for the noun used in Surah Nuh, verse 13:

 

مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا

 

What is the matter with you, that you do not hope for any majesty/dignity from Allah?

 

Hence, the true meaning of this part of the verse is ‘Dignify yourselves in your homes’.

 

Now, the meaning of ‘tabarruj’ is of paramount importance. It is often transliterated like this because many ‘scholars’ who studied the Quran did not have a definitive meaning for it but instead offered the opinions of other ‘scholars’ as possible interpretations. Yet, the answer, I believe is there if your mind is open enough.

 

In Surah An Noor, verse 60, Allah (using the same term ‘tabarruj’, in a different form) states:

 

وَالْقَوَاعِدُ مِنَ النِّسَآءِ الَّلَـتِى لاَ يَرْجُونَ نِكَاحاً فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْهِنَّ جُنَاحٌ أَن يَضَعْنَ ثِيَابَهُنَّ غَيْرَ مُتَبَرِّجَـتِ بِزِينَةٍ وَأَن يَسْتَعْفِفْنَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُنَّ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عِلِيمٌ

 

And the Qawa`id among women who do not hope for marriage, it is no sin on them if they discard their clothing in such a way as not to be those who do tabarruj/show their adornment. To refrain from tabarruj is better for them. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.

 

Interestingly, here the ‘scholars’ have defined ‘tabarruj’ as ‘showing their adornment’ and correctly so. This would also correlate with the verse in Surah An Noor (31) which clearly outlines how and when exactly a Muslim woman should cover.

 

Now, going back to our initial verse (Surah Al Ahzaab, verse 33), ‘tabarruj’ means ‘not to show what Allah has told you to cover’. So, the translation of verse should read as the following:

 

‘And dignify yourselves in your homes and do not show of yourselves what Allah commanded you to cover, like women did in the times of ignorance…’

 

In other words, be dignified, honour yourself by only uncovering/showing your body in your home and do not be immoral by doing such outside. The two statements are one command. It is like saying, ‘Don’t consume margarine and use butter instead’.

 

This is further supported by sayings of the Companions about shamelessness and nudity when people would circumbulate the ka’ba naked. The collection of Bukhari, for example, offers the following:

 

Narrated Abu Huraira: “In the year prior to the last Hajj of the Prophet when Allah’s Apostle made Abu Bakr the leader of the pilgrims, the latter (Abu Bakr) sent me in the company of a group of people to make a public announcement: ‘No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year, and no naked person is allowed to perform Tawaf of the Ka’ba.’

 

In summary, the verse in Surah Al Ahzaab, despite being quoted by many – as evidence for the many things a woman cannot do, was in fact a simple command for the wives of the Prophet to dress appropriately or morally as defined by Allah in the Quran.

 

The reality is as Albert Einstein is quoted to have said. ‘Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.’ Yet, with the light of the Quran to guide us, as Muslims, we have no excuse.

Hadith versus Quran

9EFE102F-4F53-4452-B7A0-4D820AC22B6BThe clergy misguide people in a number of ways:

1). Misinterpretation

2). Ignoring the context of the evidence

3). Propagating opinions or culture instead of actual evidence

4). Elevating the position of a hadith or saying of a Companion above the Quran

 

All of these imply poor researching skills. Today, I want to take a closer look at Number 4 – Elevating a hadith or saying of a Companion above the Quran.

 

Now, of course belief in ahadith or the Sunnah of the Prophet is a fundamental part of being a Muslim. We need to know the Sunnah so we know how to pray, exactly how to pay Zakah, and so on as well as the character of the greatest example of all time.

 

The problem arises when one or several ahadith are taken and followed without looking at the Quran. This is extremely corrosive to our understanding of the religion because the Quran, being Divine Scripture, the word of Allah, is protected while ahadith can be weak and were sometimes recorded in shortened versions where key bits of information are missing. 

 

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples;

 

Narrated Ibn Muhairiz:

 

I entered the Mosque and saw Abu Said Al-Khudri and sat beside him and asked him about Al-Azl (i.e. coitus interruptus). Abu Said said, “We went out with Allah’s Apostle for the Ghazwa [battle at which Muhammad was present] of Banu Al-Mustaliq and we received captives from among the Arab captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus. So when we intended to do coitus interruptus, we said, ‘How can we do coitus interruptus before asking Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad] who is present among us?” We asked (him) about it and he said, ‘It is better for you not to do so, for if any soul (till the Day of Resurrection) is predestined to exist, it will exist.”

Bukhari

 

This hadith from Bukhari is often quoted to claim sex slavery is permitted in Islam. Yet, the Quran states exactly the opposite in Surah An Nis’a, verse 25.

 

وَمَن لَّمْ يَسْتَطِعْ مِنكُمْ طَوْلاً أَن يَنكِحَ الْمُحْصَنَـتِ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ فَمِنْ مَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُم مِّن فَتَيَـتِكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَـتِ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَـنِكُمْ بَعْضُكُمْ مِّن بَعْضٍ فَانكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ وَءَاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَـت غَيْرَ مُسَـفِحَـتٍ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ فَإِذَآ أُحْصِنَّ فَإِنْ أَتَيْنَ بِفَـحِشَةٍ فَعَلَيْهِنَّ نِصْفُ مَا عَلَى الْمُحْصَنَـتِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِىَ الْعَنَتَ مِنْكُمْ وَأَن تَصْبِرُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

 

And whoever of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess, and Allah has full knowledge about your faith, you are one from another. Wed them with the permission of their own folk (guardians) and give them their due in a good manner; they should be chaste, not fornicators, nor promiscuous. And after they have been taken in wedlock, if they commit Fahishah, their punishment is half that for free (unmarried) women. This is for him among you who is afraid of being harmed in his religion or in his body; but it is better for you that you practice self-restraint, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

As you can see, the Quran commands men to marry these women NOT to take them as sex slaves!

 

Interestingly, the above hadith has several versions but all seem to go back to the same narrator – Ibn Muhairiz. Ibn Muhairiz narrated one other hadith in Sunan Ibn Majah which was categorised as weak (It reads: “I asked Fadalah bin Ubaid about hanging the hand (of the thief) from this neck, and he said: ‘It is sunnah. The messenger of Allah (saw) cut off a man’s hand then hung it from his neck”).

 

Additionally, there is a lack of information about this narrator and so his credibility should set off alarm bells for anyone seeking the truth.

 

Once we elevate or prioritise ahadith over the Quran, like a scientist who desperately wants his/her hypothesis to be proven true, we are likely to misinterpret other evidence. (See my blog on ‘Sex slavery’ if you are interested – for more on this subject).

 

Another example is the issue of divorce. The ‘scholars’ remain divided on whether stating ‘divorce’ thrice at one time constitutes an irrevocable divorce. Here it is not an issue of hadith versus Quran but a saying of a Companion prioritised over the Book of the Creator.

 

Many ‘scholars’ claim a husband saying ‘divorce’ three times at one time means that he has divorced his wife and they cannot re-marry until she marries another man. Their view is based upon the actions of Umar ibn Al Khattaab when he was Caliph. Umar passed this as law to teach the people not to take divorce lightly although this is not what the Quran states. In fact, the Quran clearly states each declaration of divorce has a waiting period of 3 menstruation cycles.

 

Surah Al Baqarah, verses 228,

 

وَالْمُطَلَّقَـتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنْفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَـثَةَ قُرُوءٍ وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَن يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِى أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِن كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُواْ إِصْلَـحاً وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِى عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكُيمٌ

 

And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

 

  • The verses which follow (229 & 230) tell us about the maximum number of three divorces before the divorce becomes irrevocable and the woman must then marry someone else.

 

In other words, many of the clergy are following what Umar did as opposed to what the Quran dictates.

 

There must be a hierarchy if we want to follow the actual religion and the primary source must come first.

 

1). The Quran

2). Hadith 

3). Sayings of the Companions and the Tab’ieen (the generation after the Companions).

 

So, this hierarchy means we must look at the Quran first and foremost. Then, ahadith must only be taken as evidence if they do not contradict the Quran. Subsequently, the opinions of the Companions can only be followed when they are in line with ahadith and the Quran. Opinions are after all opinions and not truth (There are, in fact, many records of the Companions differing in their views).

 

I believe it is easy to take ahadith without checking whether they are in accordance with the Quran and use them to propagate a certain view and give the masses a fatwa/judgement.  Over time, the more people propagate the same ahadith, the more the judgment attached to them is perceived as ‘truth’. Yet, it is not.

 

To research ahadith properly and actually study the Quran can take years and a lot of sustained effort. But, this is our religion, our path to Jannah and salvation does not come easily. As Muslims, our beliefs and actions must be based upon truth even when the path to truth is a struggle.

THE FACELESS MUSLIM WOMAN

niqab_2014-06-23_21-10

 

Many ‘scholars’ strongly advise that a Muslim woman should cover her face. It is apparently ‘highly recommended’ as the face is a cause for initial attraction. What this connotes is that she is somehow responsible for awakening in men the desires which may lead them astray.

 

We’re going to have a look at some of the evidence popularly used to claim Muslim women should cover their faces.

 

1. Sahih Bukhari has this hadith:

 

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت: لقد كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يُصلّي الفجر ، فيشهدُ معه نساءٌ من المؤمنات متلفعاتٌ بِمُرُوطِهنّ ، ثم يرجعن إلى بيوتهن ، ما يَعرفُهُنّ أحدٌ.

 

Narrated ‘Aisha that Allah’s Prophet used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their woollen sheets, used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized.

 

These ‘scholars’ argue that because the women were unrecognisable, it must be because their faces were covered by their sheets.

 

There are in fact, several versions of the same hadith (found in Bukhari, Muslim, An Nisa’i and Abu Dawud). In the collection of Bukhari itself, another version of the hadith is as follows;

 

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت: إن كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ليصلي الصبح فينصرف النساء متلفعات بمروطهن ما يعرفن من الغلس.

 

The meaning of this version is the same as the one I posted first EXCEPT for a tiny addition. This version gives the REASON the women were unrecognisable. The word on the end ‘ghuls’ means ‘darkness’. People could not recognise the women due to DARKNESS and not because they had their faces covered.

 

Interestingly, although there are a number of ahadith which include the reason (ie. because it was dark’), it is the version which doesn’t that is used most often. 

 

2. This hadith is from Bukhari also:

وقال أحمد بن شبيب حدثنا أبي عن يونس قال ابن شهاب عن عروة عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت يرحم الله نساء المهاجرات الأول لما أنزل الله وليضربن بخمرهن على جيوبهن شققن مروطهن فاختمرن بها 

 

Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) said, ‘May Allah have mercy upon the early emigrant women; when ‘And draw your scarves over your necklines’ (Surah An Noor, verse 31) was revealed, they took their ‘muruut’, tore them, and made covers of them.’

 

This hadeeth is usually translated INCORRECTLY with ‘fakhtamarna biha’ as ‘ covered their faces’  instead of ‘made covers of them’. The verb here ‘fakhtamarna’ (in bold) is from the same root as ‘khimaar’. Although ‘khimaar’ is now used to mean ‘headscarf’, it actually just means ‘cover’. It has certainly never been used linguistically to refer to a covering of the face. In fact men in the Middle East also wear a khimaar and it does not cover the face.

 

3. Most translations of verse 31 of surah an Noor read like this – ‘And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and preserve their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way).

 

The words in brackets will be understood by many who do not understand the Quran in its original Arabic as the words of the Almighty. Consequently, women may feel that they have no choice and that their faces and hands should be covered as well as their bodies. 

 

However, the words in brackets are NOT a part of the Quran but are the incorrect understanding of the translator and actually contradict other evidence from the Quran and Sunnah.

 

4. The collection of Abu Dawood has this statement from Aisha, the wife of the Prophet:

 

عن عائشة قالت : ” كَانَ الرُّكْبَانُ يَمُرُّونَ بِنَا وَنَحْنُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مُحْرِمَاتٌ ، فَإِذَا حَاذَوْا بِنَا سَدَلَتْ إِحْدَانَا جِلْبَابَهَا مِنْ رَأْسِهَا عَلَى وَجْهِهَا ، فَإِذَا جَاوَزُونَا كَشَفْنَاهُ “

 

Narrated Aisha, “The riders would pass us while we were in ihram with the Messenger of Allah. When they got close to us, one of us would draw her jilbaab from her head over her face. When they passed by, we would uncover our faces.

 

This account, however, contradicts the following hadith from Bukhari:

 

The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said, “The woman in the state of Ihram should not cover her face, or wear gloves.”

 

How can it be that the wives of the Prophet covered their faces in ihram when he clearly stated that a woman should not cover her face or hands and he was with them at this time? Obviously there is a problem with the authenticity of Abu Dawud’s account (The collection of Abu Dawud is deemed less authentic compared to Bukhari). So, we cannot use the account attributed to A’isha as credible evidence.

 

Some argue that this Hadith in Bukhari means women did cover their faces normally. However, by that same token, would these same ‘scholars’ claim that when Muslims were told in the Quran not to approach the prayer while intoxicated (4.43), it meant they were usually drunk? Of course not! 

 

I am sure you’ll agree there is a clear pattern emerging here. A significant proportion of the clergy, despite the evidence stating the opposite, feel strongly that women should cover their faces. The question we must ask is ‘why?’.

 

I believe it is due to two reasons; Firstly, the Muslim clergy spend decades studying the OPINIONS of those before them while they should be looking at the primary sources of the Quran and Sunnah. Secondly, many of these interpretations are founded in culture: cultures which are known for subjugating women, removing them from the public sphere, and placing the responsibility of morality upon their shoulders.

 

The evidence speaks for itself if we look with our own eyes and judge with our own intellects. Muslim women should never be faceless. Their presence, their contribution, and their value to society is paramount. Even more importantly, we must follow the religion, not mere opinions.

When Biology becomes destiny for Muslim women

1BCFA7EF-724D-4359-96A6-61AA3CD1A793Biology becomes destiny.

Well, almost.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the news these past few months (i.e. Harvey Weinstein, salaries in Hollywood, and here at the BBC), you know that it is becoming glaringly obvious (if it wasn’t already) that women are deemed as lesser by the wider world (to different extents and in various ways, obviously depending upon where you live). The Muslim world takes this even further.

 

One of the ways in which this manifests itself is when Muslim men view women as a ‘trial’. This trial is one of sexual temptation, an allurement towards evil. The male Muslim clergy advise that men must be careful to lower their gaze, to marry if possible, to fast, and so on in order to curb the effects of this ‘trial’. So, women are not only lesser, they are a path to evil, the bad to the man’s good, yin to his yang.

 

This belief has led to Muslim women being forced to cover from head to toe in Persia and the Middle East. Even in the West, a Muslim woman is treated as spiritually inferior, kept separate in mosques, and even stopped from going out of the house lest she lead some poor male soul to distraction on her way to the local supermarket.

The incorrect idea that women are a ‘trial’ because of their sexual appeal comes from the misunderstanding of the hadith in Bukhari when the Prophet said,

” مَا تَرَكْتُ بَعْدِي فِتْنَةً أَضَرَّ عَلَى الرِّجَالِ مِنْ النِّسَاءِ “ 

 

The usual translation is, “I have not left behind me any fitnah (temptation) more harmful to men than women.”

 

‘Fitna’ is the key word here. It appears in the Quran many times so it is easy to check if it has been translated correctly. Here are just two examples.

 

(وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلاَدُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ (8:28

 

‘and know that your worldly goods and your children are but a trial, and that with God there is a tremendous reward.’

 

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَى حَرْفٍ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انقَلَبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةَ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ

(22:11)

 

And there is, too, among men many a one who worships God on the border-line [of faith]: thus, if good befalls him, he is satisfied with Him; but if a trial assails him, he turns away utterly, losing both this world and the life to come: this, indeed, is a clear loss.

 

From these verses, you can see ‘Fitna’ does indeed mean ‘trial’ or ‘test’ but it has a generic meaning. There is no temptation or sexual connotation. It is not a case of mistranslation. Rather, the issue here is one of misunderstanding and the sexist culture within which such ahadith are interpreted.

 

What the Hadith is stating is that women are the greatest trial men have. The trial or test is in how they treat them. Is it a relationship of oppressor and oppressed or one of mutual co-operation and respect? Are Muslim men faring well in this trial when many Muslim women are amongst the most oppressed in the world? I think the evidence speaks for itself.

 

The clergy have attempted to make biology destiny for Muslim women and almost succeeded. However, when we reduce women like this to their sexuality, stripping them of what makes them human – their intellect and reason, we also at the same time reduce men to sexual predators and a sum of their desires.

 

In my opinion, that’s a lose-lose situation for us all. For how can we attain our best as individual Muslims and as a community if our opinions of each other are so lowly. The only way now is up and towards the actual evidence of the religion.

‘Ask the people of knowledge!’

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This is a very popular quote amongst Muslims. It is indeed from the Quran. So, let’s take a look at what the Quran actually states but I have to warn you first. It’s most likely going to be a shock to the system so brace yourself.

 

 

 

It comes up twice in 16:43 and 21:7.

 

 وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِى إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنْتُم لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ – بِالْبَيِّنَـتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

 

16:43 ‘And We sent not before you (O Muhammad) any but men, whom We sent revelation. So ask (plural form) Ahl Adh-Dhikr,(i.e. ‘people of the Reminder’) if you know not. (44). With clear signs and Books (We sent the Messengers). And We have also revealed the Dhikr (reminder/revelation) to you so that you may clearly explain to people what was revealed to them, and that perhaps they may reflect.’

 

وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا قَبْلَكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِى إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْئَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ – وَمَا جَعَلْنَـهُمْ جَسَداً لاَّ يَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَمَا كَانُواْ خَـلِدِينَ

 

21:7 And We sent not before you but men to whom We revealed. So ask (plural form) the people of the Reminder if you do not know. (8). And We did not place them in bodies that did not eat food, nor were they immortals.

It is obvious from the translation, even if one doesn’t understand Quranic Arabic that both the verses start off addressed to the Prophet, affirming that the messengers before him were all from mankind (as opposed to angels or any other kind of being). Then, the people are ordered to ask ‘the people of the reminder’ or ‘Ahl Adh dhikr’ if they do not know. It is worth noting that this is very specific. It is about asking these people on this specific issue.

So who are these people who will confirm all the messengers before Muhammad’s time were humans? These people are the Jews and Christians. They believe in the same Prophets as the Quran tells us about. If you read the rest of the Quran, this will appear to you as clear as day.

Where is the command to follow scholars, to delegate our morality, our religious principles? It is nowhere to be found. In fact the Quran states the opposite!

In 9:31, we are told

 

اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَـرَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـنَهُمْ أَرْبَاباً مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَآ أُمِرُواْ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُواْ إِلَـهاً وَحِداً لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ سُبْحَـنَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

 

‘They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, and (they also took as their Lord) the Messiah, son of Maryam, while they were commanded to worship none but One God, none has the right to be worshipped but He. Praise and hallowed be He above what they associate (with Him).’

A well known hadith explains this verse.

Adi ibn Hatim (he was not a Muslim at this point) reported: I heard the Prophet reciting the verse in Surah At-Tawbah, “They have taken their priests and rabbis as Lords besides Allah.” (9:31) I asked: O Messenger of Allah, we don’t worship them and [The Prophet] replied: “but do they not make impermissible what Allah has made permissible and do they not make permissible what Allah has made impermissible and you do that?” I replied: ‘yes’ and he said: “then that it is [a form] worshipping them.” (Tirmidhi)

For over a millennium, the Muslim clergy have changed and twisted the religion so much that it is almost unrecognisable. The list is endless. From claiming that interest is permitted (when it is a major sin and that which is tantamount to Allah waging war against you), taking away women’s God given rights, making sex slavery acceptable, terrorism presented as jihad, propagating domestic violence and abuse, and so on and so forth.

Our principal enemy is, in reality, within us. It is us. We are leading ourselves astray. Following opinions instead of scripture, the creation instead of the Creator.

Furthermore, the Quran states

 

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَندَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ يَرَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ إِذْ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعَذَابِ – إِذْ تَبَرَّأَ الَّذِينَ اتُّبِعُواْ مِنَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ وَرَأَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الاٌّسْبَابُ – وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ لَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَتَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُمْ كَمَا تَبَرَّءُواْ مِنَّا كَذَلِكَ يُرِيهِمُ اللَّهُ أَعْمَـلَهُمْ حَسَرَتٍ عَلَيْهِمْ وَمَا هُم بِخَـرِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ

 

2:65. ‘And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment.) (166. When those who were followed disown (declare themselves innocent of) those who followed (them), and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them). (167. And those who followed will say: “If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown (declare ourselves as innocent from) them as they have disowned (declared themselves as innocent from) us. Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire.’

There are other verses on this issue. Go ahead and have a look.

It’s ironic because the very foundation, the cornerstone of Islam is to worship one God (‘Allah’ in Arabic) and the term ‘Muslim’ (contrary to popular belief) means ‘one who submits to Allah’. Letting the Muslim clergy define the religion completely contradicts this and leads the global Muslim community astray.

It’s time to find our way back.

Beat her lightly

woman-sitting-silhouette-clipart

Islam is not the rod with which men beat women. I have just watched yet another so-called ‘Sheikh’ on YouTube state the Quran allows men to beat their wives. Enough is enough. For generations, Muslim women around the world have suffered and continue to suffer from domestic violence and abuse because of such opinions.

Those in a position of power or authority will always present dogma so that they are not undermined. It has served the Muslim clergy well historically and to this day, feeds into a patriarchal culture whereby the husband is somehow responsible or a moral guide for the wife. Thus, she is deemed spiritually lesser, requiring discipline.

The whole argument pivots on the translation of one word – the Arabic verb ‘Dharaba’ (in Surah An Nisa’, verse 34). It is a word which has a huge array of meanings in the Quran including ‘to bring forth’, ‘to strike the ground with a stick’, ‘to deal with’ and so on. Context is all important in helping us to understand what it means in each case in the Quran.

The common misconception that Islam allows and even encourages wife beating is down to a sexist and cultural context within which, this word ‘Dharaba’ is wrongly translated as ‘beat/hit’. This translation works for those cultures where women are seen as lesser citizens, beings to be subjugated and ruled over. In other words, it is not Islam but men who legalize and normalize wife beating. Worse, they use the banner of Islam to hide what is blatantly oppression and wrongdoing.

If you study all the instances of ‘dharaba’ in the Quran and the example of the Prophet, it is clear it means ‘to go away/separate’.

The verse is very clear. If a husband sees ‘nushuz’(ie. an uprising – unreasonable demands) from his wife;

1). He admonishes/speaks to her about it
2). Forsakes her in the bed
3). Separates/goes away

This process is exactly what the Prophet did with his wives when they wanted more financially than he had to give. So my question now is, do the Fuqaha (jurists) know the religion better than the Prophet did?

What allows the same patterns to be perpetuated is that many Muslim women often do not feel able to come forward and seek help. They are afraid that they will be blamed instead of being comforted, reminded that, wife beating is a right of the husband. Terrified of what taking a stand will cost them. In unity comes strength so as Muslim women, we must stand with these women, with our hearts and minds, the correct knowledge of the religion in our hands.

I believe any change in society starts from within us. We, as Muslims, need to change our views so women can come forward and break the chains of silent suffering. We must offer comfort rather than judgement. Most important of all, our understanding and advice must be based upon actual knowledge and Scripture as opposed to deeply entrenched cultural and patriarchal injustices.

Like I said, enough is enough.

For detailed evidence, click this link.

MUSLIM WOMEN are more than ‘Hijab’.

8890505903_abd85199da_bTell a lie long enough, it becomes the ‘truth’.

The word ‘hijab’ appears in the Quran 7 times. Not one of these is in reference to women covering. Nevertheless, Muslims all around the world, whether they speak Arabic or not, talk about ‘hijab’.

‘Hijab’ is Quranic Arabic for ‘barrier’ although it is commonly used for the veil/scarf and translated as ‘covering’,  ‘concealing’ or a ‘curtain’. This is an idea which has been propagated, most likely for centuries, by the predominately Arab male Muslim clergy. A clergy, which has objectified women as much as the Western world has sexualised them. Two sides of the same coin.

After spending years of my life researching women’s issues in Islam, a journey which has taken me places both physically and psychologically, I realised that out of the Quran’s 6235 verses, only 2 are about how women in general should dress in public. That’s around 0.03% of the Holy Book. An indication of how much of a Muslim woman’s faith is about her dress.

One (33:59) tells us to cover ourselves so we are known as Muslims. The other (24:31) that the chest and legs should be covered – the legs covered in a way as not to reveal what is beneath the covering. That’s it.

God tells Muslim women to cover their bodies so that they are known as Muslim women (The culture at the time of revelation was one where people often exposed themselves). Sadly, the majority of Muslim women are unaware of this and wear a headscarf and often a cloak and a face covering (they believe) to safeguard their beauty. That is because they are basing their opinion on the commonly accepted term ‘hijab’ for how they should dress.

I chose the path of Islam, learnt Classical Arabic and am memorising and studying the Quran. I have worn a scarf, a jilbaab (cloak/robe) and even a niqaab (face veil). Based upon God’s word, I now wear modest clothing. My religion is founded upon my own research and studies. I ask all other Muslim women to do the same.

Language and thought are strongly connected. When we use the word ‘hijab’, there are obvious connotations. We are making the whole issue about sexuality. Women become a temptation needing to be tempered, with the potential to lead men astray. It is a term founded in culture. A term that serves the needs of men as it then leads to further arguments that women need to cover their bodies with cloaks (jilabib), their faces (niqaab), and even infringes on their civil liberties (e.g. working, sports, going out/travelling without a male relative). Frankly, it reduces women so that they end up not having a voice or in extreme situations, even a presence.

I believe that we need to stop using the word ‘hijab’. It is a baseless concept. Women regardless of their religion are not defined by men and the word ‘hijab’ is doing exactly that. It leads to Muslim girls as young as 5 years being ‘sexualised’ when they are shrouded in a scarf and sometimes even a cloak. It is a term intertwined with cultural expectations involving shame, honour, and purity. A means by which a woman’s piety can be judged.

Many a Muslim will argue for ‘hijab’ claiming it is not just for a woman’s body but for her character and the way she interacts with the world. I argue the exact opposite. Dressing modestly, based upon evidence, brings religion to the forefront while kicking sexualisation firmly into the background.

We are more than our bodies. It’s time to move forward and it’s up to us as Muslim women to lead the way.