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.

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 “

 

This is usually translated as: Narrated Aisha, “The riders would pass us while we were in ihram with the Messenger of Allah. When they got close to us, we would draw our jilbaab from our heads over our faces. When they passed by, we would uncover our faces.

 

Here, the issue is not one of translation but of misunderstanding. This is about the wives of the Prophet and happened after verse 53 of Surah Al Ahzaab was revealed about speaking to the wives through a screen/curtain. If it was relevant to all Muslim women, the verse would state this. Instead it is specific to the wives. Furthermore, from Aisha’s description, it is was obviously not a modern day niqaab.

 

5. This hadith is also 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.”

 

For some reason, some argue that this Hadith 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.

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.