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.

Marry two, three or four

 

CA29C19A-0F90-4C81-96E0-76F5417F8460At first glance, Islam does not seem a fair religion. Muslim men seem to have it much better than their female counterparts. One issue which perplexes many is how inequitable it is that Muslim men can marry more than one wife while a Muslim woman has only one husband at any one time. I understand how it looks and so spent time researching the issue.

 

The Quran states, in Surah An Nisaa’ (verse 3):

 

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِى الْيَتَٰـمَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُمْ مِّنَ النِّسَآءِ مَثْنَى وَثُلَـثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَٰحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَٰـنُكُمْ ذلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ

 

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphaned females, then marry other women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one or that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from injustice.

 

So, the possibility of marrying more than one wife at one time is in the Quran but there is a caveat.

Allah places upon it the condition that the wives must be dealt with justly. This encapsulates time, housing, and finances. This immediately excludes many men as it is quite exceptional that one man may be able to financially support more than one family at any one time. 

 

While the Quran stresses the importance of justice, what actually happens in most cases is that a Muslim man, having a tumultuous time in his current marriage, not knowing how to fix the relationship, sees a way out. He does not need to worry about the emotional, legal, and financial repercussions of divorcing his wife because he decides to stay legally (islamically or otherwise) married and marries another woman WITHOUT his first wife’s knowledge. The second wife will end up claiming support from the government as the man is unable to provide housing for both women out of his own earnings. The first wife will often only find out after the second marriage has gone through.

 

Now, this deceit, and it is DECEIT, is definitely NOT from the religion of Islam. 

 

In Islam like many other religions, a marriage is a sacred contract based upon love, compassion, and trust. The first wife of course has the choice as to whether she would like to become a co-wife. In fact, there is evidence from the Prophet that when his son in law Ali bin Abi Taalib wanted to marry a second wife, and Faatimah, the daughter of the Prophet did not want him to, the Prophet himself FORBADE Ali from doing so (See Bukhari for the hadith). 

 

Some ‘scholars’ argue the Prophet did this because Ali bin Abi Taalib wanted to marry the daughter of Abu Jahl (considered an enemy of Islam at the time) but this is completely nonsensical as the Prophet himself was married to the daughter of Abu Sufyan (who was also considered an enemy of Islam)!

 

Now, I’m sure many men will argue that most, if not all women, will refuse to be a co-wife which would make it impossible for any man to marry more than one wife. My answer to this is in the example of the Prophet. He married his first wife when he was 25 years old and she was 40. The marriage lasted around 25 years and was completely monogamous. During this time, they had 4 daughters. Only after Khadija’s death did the Prophet have multiple wives – all except one (Aisha) were divorcees or widows. 

 

In other words, when the Prophet had young children, he was committed only to that wife and family. This makes perfect sense as the needs of a wife with young children are very different from older people coming together in marriage without any children to raise and being more independent in how they live their lives within the marriage. So, of course, it is possible that women would be happy as co-wives if their circumstances are suited to such.

 

Indeed the way of our Prophet and pious predecessors was not to leave their current wife in limbo and take the easy way out. They lived according to verse 129 of Surah An Nisaa’ which states:

 

 وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُواْ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ بَيْنَ النِّسَآءِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ فَلاَ تَمِيلُواْ كُلَّ الْمَيْلِ فَتَذَرُوهَا كَالْمُعَلَّقَةِ وَإِن تُصْلِحُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً

 

You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire, so do not incline too much to one of them so as to leave the other hanging. And if you do justice, and do all that is right and have Taqwa, then Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

In fact, the way in which second or further marriages are being conducted goes against the very essence of Islam. It is not Islam which is an unfair religion. In this aspect, it is Muslim men who are twisting it for their own needs.

 

The Muslim community needs Muslim men to live up to the honourable examples of men in the past. Men who were strong in faith, in conviction, and knew the actual religion. 

 

After all, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did say, “The most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour is most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.” (Tirmidhi).

 

 

NO to Women leaders

68873EE5-AB23-4818-A6A3-0075262ED2D8

If I had a pound for every time I have heard the statement “A Muslim woman can’t do that!”, I would have become a rich woman long ago. 

 

One issue that stayed with me for many years is the one of leadership. According to some ‘scholars’, there is evidence from the Prophet – a hadith which states that I as a woman can not and should not, attempt to stand for roles of leadership, the judiciary, or even manage my own business myself. 

 

This is the Hadith in the collection of Bukhari;

 

Narrated Abu Bakra:

 

During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, “Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler’.

 

The ‘scholars’ usually quote a shorter version which removes the context. It reads;

 

He (The Prophet) said, “Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler’.

 

Often, there are reasons added to this as to why women are simply wrong for leadership;

 

1). That women are too emotional.

2). Decision making is affected by hormonal changes during the menstruation cycle.

3). Women need to take care of the domestic sphere and children.

4). A female leader would then attempt to subjugate her husband and treat him like an employee.

5). Men are more intelligent.

 

Going back to the longer version of the hadith, context is always necessary to understand fully what is meant. 

 

The Prophet was talking about a specific nation – Persia and stating that the Muslims would be successful over the Persians. It was, simply put, a prophecy which later came true (after the Prophet’s death).

 

Let’s look at it from another angle also. The angle of real evidence. Looking both at history and current times, there are many examples of successful female leadership. These include the UK (Margaret Thatcher), Germany (Angela Merkel), Norway (Erna Solberg), and Taiwan (Tsai Ing-Wen) – to mention but a few.

 

If we believe the Prophet’s words to be true then how could the above hadith be a general statement about women not being able to be successful leaders when there are so many examples of just that?

 

In fact, the Prophet’s first wife Khadija had her own business empire and is a great example of female leadership. She certainly did not give it all up to become a Muslim nor was she expected to.

 

So, in conclusion, Islam does NOT tell us Muslim women cannot do a list of things. No, that list comes from the mouths of men and a mixing of misogynistic patriarchy with religion. Gender does not determine how good a job you can do – whether the job is in leadership, the judiciary, management, or any other sector. It isn’t WHAT you are that makes the difference. It’s WHO you are at your core, your values, and principles which makes a great leader. 

Marrying a virgin

Many Muslim men want to marry a virgin. They believe this is recommended by the religion. The clergy claim it is better to marry virgin women and they use the following hadith to support their opinion.

 

Narrated Jabir:

‘The Messenger of Allah met me and said: ‘O Jabir, have you got married to a woman since I last saw you?’’ I said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: To a virgin or to a previously married woman?’ I said: ‘To a previously married woman.’ He said: ‘Why not a virgin so she could play with you?’

An Nisa’i

 

 

It does seem that this hadith is suggesting what is popular opinion – that a virgin would have been a better choice for Jabir. Otherwise, why would the Prophet have questioned it?

 

As usual, let’s take a closer look.

 

Firstly, there is in fact, a longer version of the same account in Saheeh Muslim which is largely ignored by those claiming it is better to marry a virgin (regardless of whether they themselves are virgins or not!).

 

Jabir b. ‘Abdullah (Allah be pleased with them) reported: I married a woman during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). I met the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him), whereupon he said: Jabir, have you married? I said: Yes. He said: A virgin or one previously married? I said: Previously married, whereupon he said: Why did you not marry a virgin with whom you could have fun with? I said: Allah’s Messenger, I have sisters; I was afraid that she might intervene between me and them, whereupon he said: Well and good, if it is so. A woman is married for four reasons, for her religion, her property, her status, her beauty, so you should choose one with religion. May your hands be covered with dust.

Saheeh Muslim

 

This longer account points us to some very significant facts:

 

1). Jabir was young. It makes sense for young people to marry young partners in terms of equivalent life experience and outlook. That is why the Prophet was surprised and questioned his choice.

 

2). The Prophet said Jabir’s decision to marry someone who had been previously married (i.e more mature) was a GOOD one. Jabir’s decision meant the relationship between his wife and sisters would likely be a better one as opposed to marrying someone who would have been similar in age to them.

 

3). Most importantly, the Prophet gave Jabir and us vital information. That a woman is married for four reasons: her religion, her property, her status, or her beauty and the priority for Muslims should always be religion. ‘May your hands be covered with dust’ was a customary Arab warning – that choosing to marry for other reasons would be a really bad decision leading to one’s destruction.

 

In fact, the Prophet did not state that women at the time or any time were married because they were virgins nor that they should be.

 

The clergy argue the Prophet asking Jabir why he had not married a virgin means to marry a virgin is better. However, enquiring about a decision is NEVER the same as stating the decision was the wrong choice. 

 

Furthermore, if we look at the example of the Prophet, we realise that the Prophet’s first wife (Khadija) had been previously married not once but twice. After her death, all but one (Ayesha) of his wives were either divorcees or widows. His example shows that virginity is not a benchmark by which we measure anyone.

 

The companions followed the Prophet’s example – they often married wives of other companions after the husband’s death/divorce. 

 

In conclusion, women regardless of their faith should never be measured as purely sexual beings. How disgusting a belief that virginity is somehow the mark of a good woman or that it increases her appeal as a possible partner in marriage!

Islam always takes the high road. It is honourable and the actions of Muslims must be the same. 

Beating the Muslim child

1F2F4841-83DC-4710-9DFE-93DE549A1F2FWe all know prayer is a fundamental part of the faith. The clergy use the following hadith to claim parents should order children to pray at seven years of age and hit them if they refuse when they are ten years old.

 

عن عبدالله بن عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنهما: أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: مُرُوا أولادكم بالصلاة وهم أبناء سبع سنين، واضربوهم عليها وهم أبناء عَشْر، وفرقوا بينهم في المضاجع؛

Abu Dawud

 

USUAL TRANSLATION: Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr bin Aas that the Prophet said, ‘Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and beat  them for it (prayer) when they become ten years old; and arrange their beds separately.

 

So, let’s take a closer look at the language in this hadith. Firstly, the imperative verb

واضربوهم عليها

 

Does it mean ‘to hit/beat’ the child? The Quran sheds light on this. There are 3 verses which include the same verb.

 

ضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ أَيْنَ مَا ثُقِفُواْ إِلاَّ بِحَبْلٍ مِّنْ اللَّهِ وَحَبْلٍ مِّنَ النَّاسِ وَبَآءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَسْكَنَةُ ذلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ يَكْفُرُونَ بِـَايَـتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ الاٌّنْبِيَآءَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ ذلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوْاْ وَّكَانُواْ يَعْتَدُونَ

3.112

They are enveloped in humility wherever they may be, except when under a covenant from Allah, and a covenant from men; they have drawn on themselves the wrath of Allah, and destitution envelops them. That was because they used to disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidence) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds (in their disobedience to Allah, i.e. commit crimes and sins).

 

وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَآءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَـتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ذلِكَ بِمَا عَصَواْ وَّكَانُواْ يَعْتَدُونَ

2.61

 

And they were enveloped in humiliation and misery, and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. That was because they used to disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidence) of Allah and killed the Prophets wrongfully. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds (in their disobedience to Allah, i.e. commit crimes and sins).

 

فَضَرَبْنَا عَلَى ءَاذَانِهِمْ فِى الْكَهْفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدًا

18.11

 

Therefore, We covered up/enveloped their hearing in the cave for a number of years.

 

*NOTE: Most translators translate ‘dharaba ala’ as ‘covered’ in these instances when ‘enveloped/immersed’ would be a better choice. The difference in English is subtle yet significant in helping us understand the hadith here.

 

Taking these verses where the same verb is used in the same form, we can clearly see that hitting a child (even lightly) is NOT what is meant here. It means to envelop/immerse the child in the routine of praying.

 

In other words, where they had a choice between the ages of 7 and 10 when they were being trained, praying is now established.

 

In addition to this and for the sake of clarity for the overwhelming number of Muslims who do not know Arabic, the word ‘muru’ at the beginning of the hadith would be better translated as ‘Train’ as opposed to ‘Command’. It is exactly the same when you ‘command/tell’ your child to read his/her reading book to you – they are learning to read. It is a process as opposed to the finished product. It is from Allah’s Mercy that parents and children are given 3 years to go through this process of the child learning the importance of prayer, the beliefs underpinning prayer, and how to actually pray.

 

Furthermore, the Prophet, the example for all Muslims to follow, never hit a child nor did the Companions. In fact, hitting a child for any reason whether it be under the wrongly assumed banner of morality or religion is always wrong. It will never instill a love of the Lord, prayer or the religion and in fact, children will be praying out of fear of their parents as opposed to a firmly established belief that they were created to worship. Without a doubt, this is setting them up for failure as Muslims in the long term because it ruins the foundation of their religion – to act purely for the pleasure of Allah.

 

Some parents who use hitting as part of their discipline strategy may throw their hands up at this and ask, ‘How then will I get my child to pray?’ I believe the way is through knowledge. This may be broken down into the following:

 

1).  Children must first learn why they have been created (i.e. to worship – See 51.56 of the Quran).

2).  Learning about Allah (Names and attributes – found throughout the Quran so children understand why Allah SHOULD be worshipped)

3).  Understanding the importance of worship in general (e.g. through stories of the Prophets found in the Quran as these stories centre around worship)

4).  Learning the rituals (i.e. physical actions) of prayer.

 

Once children are fully established in the routine of prayer, we need our mosques to be more welcoming and inclusive for our youth. Mosques need to be the hub of any Muslim community where a sense of belonging is felt and our children find moral and spiritual strength in our togetherness. In this way, prayer becomes part of who we were born to be – worshippers of Our Creator.

 

Most importantly, we as parents, must strive to be the best version of ourselves as Muslims, because when we do that, it automatically means we are better people and better parents. Despite popular belief, this is not a linear process. It is impossible to be a perfect Muslim in knowledge and action before we start teaching the next generation. Rather, self improvement can take place in tandem with teaching our children. It will be hard work but with better role models and the Grace of our Lord, our children will also triumph.

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.

ISLAM. Religion of peace?

26751977-9F91-491A-A124-DC1A1A401B02Many a Muslim in the Western world, will claim Muslims are a peaceful people. This is based upon their translation of the Arabic word ‘Islam’ as ‘peace’. Others (Muslims and non Muslims alike) may find this idea of Islam as a religion of peace paradoxical. They see the contradiction in the wars and battles mentioned in Islamic history.

 

Understandably, this causes people to progressively lose trust in what Muslims are saying.
I wanted to take a closer look at the definition of the term ‘Islam’. As usual, I looked to the Quran first.

 

The Quran does call the path/religion to be followed ‘Islam’.

 

For example, in 5:3,

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الأِسْلاَمَ دِيناً

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion

 

So, on to what ‘Islam’ actually means according to divine scripture. A little knowledge of the Arabic language and one sees that the word ‘Islam’ is a noun derived from the verb ‘aslama’ which means ‘to submit’. I found a number of verses containing ‘aslama’. I have given you three here.

 

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ

When his Lord said to him, “Submit!” He said, “I have submitted myself to the Lord of the `Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists).”)

Al Baqarah, verse 131.

 

أَفَغَيْرَ دِينِ اللَّهِ يَبْغُونَ وَلَهُ أَسْلَمَ مَن فِى السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ طَوْعًا وَكَرْهًا وَإِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ

Do they seek other than the religion of Allah, while to Him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly. And to Him shall they all be returned.

Al Imran, verse 83

 

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنسَكًا لِّيَذْكُرُواْ اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَى مَا رَزَقَهُمْ مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الاٌّنْعَـمِ فَإِلَـهُكُمْ إِلَـهٌ وَحِدٌ فَلَهُ أَسْلِمُواْ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُخْبِتِينَ

And for every nation We have appointed religious ceremonies, that they may mention the Name of Allah over the beast of cattle that He has given them for food. And your God is One God, so you must submit to Him Alone. And give glad tidings to the Mukhbitin.

 

Surah al Hajj, 34

 

Subsequently, ‘Islam’ means ‘submission to God’. Not ‘peace’.

أَسلَمَ to submit (verb)
إسلامً Submission (noun)

 

The reason it is often defined as ‘peace’ is due to its root being confused with ‘salaam’ like in the Muslim greeting ‘assalamu alaikum’ which loosely translates as ‘peace be upon you’. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, Arabic is a very rich language with similar words sometimes conveying completely different meanings. Anyhow, the evidence that ‘Islam’ is NOT synonymous with ‘peace’ is there, as clear as day.

 

 

Furthermore, there is this clear hadith in the collection of Bukhari.

 

On the authority of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the Prophet (pbuh). Resting his knees against his (the Prophet’s) and placing the palms of his hands on his thighs, he said:

O Muhammed, tell me about Islam.

The Messenger of Allah (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, to perform the prayers, to pay the Zakah, to fast in Ramadhan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House  if you are able to do so.

(The hadith goes on but this is the part relevant here).

 

In the Prophet’s definition of Islam, there is absolutely no mention of ‘peace’.

 

Perhaps, some Muslims want to propagate a softer religion to appease the critics. I can understand that especially when we have seen acts of terror committed using the banner of religion. Yet, that doesn’t make things better.

 

Propagating Islam as ‘peace’, is first and foremost, not true and I believe religion must always be based upon truth. Secondly, we lose the focal point of the religion. Instead of paying attention to self improvement, the spotlight is turned away to social impact and global harmony. A top down approach, if you like. Making the religion easier because we can spend our lives looking outwards instead of looking in which would force us to work to improve our spiritual shortcomings.

 

Furthermore, trying to fit in by changing ourselves will never work. The parameters are constantly changing. How can you fit into something which is not concrete? In fact, it is being true Muslims and sticking to the evidence which is the best advert for the religion. A religion based upon submission to God in all that you do, demanding good from yourself and pushing away evil, displaying the best of manners and adding gentleness to your dealings with people, when a simple smile is charity, facing the world with the best version of you. Because a better you means a better world for all of us.