Category Archives: Religion

Islam, The Female Scholar and Tradition

 

ramadan_2012_17-350x245There are prevailing misconceptions within Christian communities that Muslims hate Christians and that women are oppressed by Islamic teachings. It is widely reinforced by many Christian leaders. The most profound revelation was the reality of their limited interest in understanding beyond their perceptions and preconceived notions.

They see Muslims as monolithic. We are only Shia or Sunni and if we even divert from their perceived “oppressive,” “hate filled” and “violent,” understanding of Islam, we must be Sufi; completely misunderstanding our schools of thought, diversity within our communities and relevance in modern society. They miss the multitude of complexity and individuality within Islam.

In Islam we have no hierarchy of clergy. There are scholars of different scopes, from social policy, language, history, law and interpretation. There is no governing body of Muslims. There is a tradition of personal responsibility and individual commitment to scholarship. There are schools of thought and their proponents. In that sense, many Muslims will follow a school of thought which closely resembles their scholarship and others also follow proponents of those schools of thought.

The Islamic orthodoxy of law is quite vast and versatile, although there are hindrances to that versatility. There are issues that have led to some scholars blindly following certain fixed schools of thought, and in turn to the subjugation of religious values to popular culture; thus our current dilemma/dichotomy.

“Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason.” (Quran 8:22)

In many patriarchal societies the role of the woman Imam or scholar is limited to preaching and teaching other women, regardless of the core of Islamic teaching that men and women are equal and both are teachers of Islam to each other.

Since immigrants are still the major stakeholders in the Mosques, most mosques have not had a female board member, executive director and have never had a woman scholar or preacher speak to the community.

This perspective of patriarchy does not reflect on the teachings of Islam. It reflects on the cultural factors of a society and within what have become socially acceptable norms.

“The believing men and women are patrons of each other. They command to good, rebuke evil, establish prayers, give alms, obeying God and His messenger. They will have God’s mercy. Indeed God is Mighty and Wise.” (Qur’an, 9:71)

This verse, like many others, puts men and women on equal footing regarding the practice of religion. It is especially significant because its linguistics equates men and women working together in preaching.

Early Islamic leaders recognized the importance of women in society as leaders and reformers in a time when women in the world were seen as of little significance, Islam gave women a voice and rights.

“Back in the days of ignorance before Islam, we didn’t consider women of much significance at all. This all changed with the emergence of Islam in which God mentioned them with respect and gave them new rights then we realized their rights over us.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5843)

“Sometimes we the companions of Muhammad would get confused about Islamic teachings. We would then go and ask Aisha about itand we found she always had the knowledge we were seeking in it.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, 3883)

“I never saw anyone more knowledgeable of the Qur’an, Islamic Law, poetry, Arab history and lineages than Aisha  (may God be pleased with her).” (Al-Hakim, 4/11)jewelofmedina460

Aisha being a great female scholar of Islam, wife of the prophet and religious leader in her own right even after his death, spoke to, counseled and was the influence to many of the Caliphs which were to follow.

Female scholars were the teachers of the male scholars and leaders of Islam in Islamic history.

The exceptional women of Islam are too numerous to name. Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr is only one of many. Zainab bint Kamal taught hadiths in the 12th century. Umm al-Darda became a teacher of hadith and fiqh and lectured in the men’s section. One of her students was the caliph of Damascus. The Prophet taught that there is no difference in worth between believers on account of their gender.

The gross violations of women’s rights in the Muslim world today, relegating the Muslim woman only to the role of a mother and housewife is a relatively modern phenomenon. In early Islam women were the driving force in the formation of Islamic history. Fatimah supported the prophet and was his counsel. Aisha Led an Army.

In the religion of Islam, there is no original sin. Men and women bear equal responsibility. Many traditions have grown weak and women have been relegated in patriarchal societies to second class citizens, contrary to the core teachings of Islam, with cultural norms overtaking the religious teachings of Islamic tradition and the female role in Islam in many cultures.

Women scholars spent their lives in pursuit of historical facts. Historical criticism is a fundamental principle in Islam.

The Qur’an requires

“O believers! If any iniquitous person comes to you with a slanderous tale, verify it, lest you hurt people unwittingly…” (49:6)

Many Muslims have strayed from scholarly tradition and have become used to certain ways of dealing; that does not mean that our traditional sources of law are not relevant in modern society. These traditions to include the female scholar are better suited for modern society and helping to identify in regard to social issues.

It is important not to judge Islam by the state of nationalist and conservative mindsets refusing to proceed with the progressive and forward thinking nature of Islam. The religious doctrine does not support the cultural norms of these nationalists. The religion of Islam is much bigger than that. There are generations who laid the foundation of modern civilization.

Islam is more than capable of addressing and resolving many contemporary issues. There is an obligation within Islam to provide the tools and a setting to address issues like racism, misogyny and oppression that have been lost on those who refuse to remain relevant.

To address the question for Christians about where Islam and Muslims stand on Christianity; there is only to look at the Quran, the words and mandates of the prophet Muhammad for answers.

Muhammad saw Christians as part of our community, our people, to be allowed freedom of religion and protection from oppression and religious suppression as evidenced in his writings and promises to Christian communities.

The Quran expresses religious unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians as one community with many paths to the same destinations and refers to Jews, Muslims and Christians as “the believers.”

“Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (Quran 2:62)

Preachers who teach falsehoods of a dubious nature to subvert pluralism and unity will lead their followers astray and thrive on sectarianism. A thinking population is always dangerous to the status quo. A religion that was only devised to control and cheat people would never expose religious preachers like this, for it would be against their very interests,

“And they (the common people) will say: O our Sustainer! Behold, we paid heed unto our leaders and our great men, and it is they who have led us astray from the right path!” (Quran, 33:67)

Islam teaches Muslims to be free and critical thinkers, to question everything and then question it again.

The Quran tells Muslims to think for themselves, to uphold justice, to speak up and speak out against injustice and oppression.

The Quran expresses the need for social justice and the mandate in fighting oppression. Islam is not a religion that only gives you dogma to follow blindly, in return for some grand reward of paradise. Instead it expects one to use intellect and resourcefulness to help those less fortunate and vulnerable in society and to do all this in the pursuit of justice.

The Quran establishes that faith is only the beginning on the path. It isn’t the end of the journey. And on that journey are men and women on equal stance.

Contrary to popular belief, women are not subjugated by Islam, they are empowered by it. They have played an important part from the beginning, as teachers, preachers, warriors and leaders.

Research can present women with confidence in their role in Islam, while some are confined to their homes because of cultural norms others are vying for and fighting for leadership  throughout the Muslim world.

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I Can’t…

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by A.N. Bayat

I’m angry, you’re angry, everyone’s angry and if you are not angry you will be.

I went for hot chocolate with a friend last night. A lady approached us asking how she could help and how bad it all made her feel and she wanted to do something because she felt helpless. My friend told her we were fine and we appreciate it. She insisted that she felt so bad she had to do something. She offered to pay for our hot chocolate. At first, we said no and she was so distraught, so we allowed it. She said she felt so much better. Her husband pointed out that she wasn’t doing anything to help us, that we were doing more to help her by helping her feel better.

I thought about what he said, and that hit the nail on the head. I had someone message me yesterday to offer their help and support and in the same breath chastise me and judge me for posting what she thought were angry posts.  

It made me realise that so much of this, although it doesn’t affect many directly, it affects so many indirectly.

In the past few days, I’ve come across people who I thought were being insensitive or not empathetic. I felt they were making this situation about themselves while others were hurting, afraid and even uncertain about their futures. They tell me they feel helpless and want to help, want to reach out, how can they help and what can they do? They want to go to mosques and invite people for Thanksgiving and are concerned how that works. That’s thoughtful. Something about all that kept bothering me and I couldn’t pinpoint it until the hot chocolate incident.

It also made me realise that it is still everyone for themselves, even those it affects and those who say they want to help. This isn’t unity. There are enough people out there who really don’t care, who don’t want to help and people who it doesn’t affect directly. The rest of us – empathise.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I appreciate those who care. If you are judging me for how I feel or express my feelings and in the same breath want me to not feel it or express it to make you feel better, what is really happening? If you understand the anger of those of us whose rights and freedoms are on the line, then understand it, but don’t ask me not to feel it to make you feel better.

Don’t tell me, not to be angry, not to speak out, not to make waves, not to…Don’t tell me to help you feel better. I can’t even help myself.

I can’t empathise right now. I’m confused. I can’t lift you up right now. I’m exhausted. I can’t spell it out for you. I’m unfocused. I can’t help you feel better or tell you what to do to not feel helpless about it. I am trying to sort it out. I can’t be strong for you. I can’t be silent or polite for you. I can’t…I can’t…can you?

A part of me knows, I’m not angry. I’m disappointed and determined. You’re safe with me.

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Salvation and Mercy

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I sit in the shadows watching as an old priest in orthodox tradition, giving the liturgy in Arabic…talking about salvation and mercy. Some parts of Cairo are pristine and untouched. Then suddenly as one turns a corner, nothing but skeletons; the bare bones of old memories and long ago picked carcasses of history. The rhythmic timbre of his voice, like musical notes slipping through time and entering my thoughts,

[…]You don’t hurt others to save yourself. God will not accept your salvation on the backs of another. God won’t have mercy on you in the end. Have mercy on those who help you, care for you and take care of those who take care of you and your soul will be washed or cleansed and you shall be first in salvation[…]

His incantation, but a slow murmur; almost hypnotic as he slips between Arabic and Greek. The building empty, except for 2 old women whispering in the corner and a young mother dragging her little one across an isle. His voice filling the void between chaos and calm. My heart beating faster as I hide in distractions from my own thoughts and memories. Sometimes the suffering becomes too much. Then I realize, maybe it’s me and not them. I look around and life is moving forward. I’m standing still. His voice bleeds into my thoughts. His monotonous tone suddenly lifting and swaying in comforting rhythmic waves. 

[…] There is no power greater than sacrifice…sacrifice and redemption require compassion and mercy. Be kind to those are kind to you. Have compassion for those who hurt you and love those who will love you back. Sacrifice for those who will sacrifice for you. The offering fuels the calm…To be among the merciful is the highest 1456489546_web1calling there is[…]

I wasn’t really listening after that. What stuck in my head most was:

 

“[…] you don’t hurt others to save yourself […]”

 

71215733I’m not sure of the intended focus of his topic. I could only hear bits and pieces though my own distractions. There was an odd silence and a slow hum. I could hear voices beyond the walls, speaking rapidly and sometimes I could hear laughter in the distant night. Maybe it was the influence of my journey to get here.  Maybe it was my own paranoia. I heard every sound, even the silence was overwhelmingly and unnerving. In the distance, was it gun fire or just my imagination out of control? Every shadow, friend or foe?

I try to relax and put on a façade-confident and unafraid. That’s my reputation. I’m tough, fearless and self-assured. I’m reminded. It’s amazing what a person can get used to. Not tonight. Tonight I sit watching shadows fading from place to place. I watch lights flicker and burn away. I hear every sound and nothing at all. I watch the everyday, as people come and go. I’m startled out of my thoughts and jump slightly as I hear the sounds of an angry mob. I pause for a moment, uncertain; take a deep breath, I remind myself. I look around. No one is moving. When in Egypt…I walked slowly through the aisles and toward the front entrance. I see a crowd running past. The new normal of Cairo…the peace and chaos meshed into some unimaginable new civility. 

I’m not too bright when it comes to danger. Most run from it. I tend to run to it. I would be that person running into the woods alone at night chasing after some mysterious figure , all for the satisfaction of assuaging my curiosity.  That’s me. I walk down the road following the crowd. Nothing serious, but only in my own mind. Just a wedding; a moment of happiness and joy in in all the chaos; something good and positive rising from the rubble. How amazing that life goes on. When morning comes, I still can’t sleep.

It’s the mundane that I take for granted. I take for granted all of my every days, my usual trip to the gym without a worry or my bi monthly grocery shopping spree. It is not only Egypt.  I’m a Muslim woman in an uncertain world, the violence growing, the attacks against my community and soMideast Egypt much anger and hate, drowning out any semblance of peace. So maybe this security which I once took for granted, isn’t so assured now. Maybe what I am seeing here, is a glimpse into the future of my adopted homeland. This is new normal, the calm-chaos of everyday life. Did that already happen? Did I become numb to the chaos and violence?  I did not noticed until I had no other choice.

Life continues, through the anger, through the pain and even through the destruction. We are a resilient species. It is another sign of mercy in an uncertain existence.

Churches burnt to the ground all in the name of Islam, I’m told.

All of this for what? It is not in the name of Islam. It is in the name of power and control. People being the victims to another oppressive force, superimposing itself upon Islam to achieve an agenda. They don’t even pretend to follow Islam. Not by action or thought. It’s just the facade placed upon them to validate the existence and aggressive nature of their intentions. The world coming apart it seems.

…just stuck in my head the rest of the morning.

This is not my Islam. This is some vapid creature that not even the Prophet would recognize.

It reminded me of a saying by the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh)…Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to others

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Elements of Unconditional Love

12932715_10207869414786148_4531591342755493520_n…I didn’t always have faith …even when you did. Maybe there were times, you didn’t either or maybe you always have. But, those are things I haven’t doubted in a very long time. So, it does unnerve me when we are shaken because it becomes a new worry.

 

 

 

 

I feel as if you hold such tight control of the situation that you are not trusting me to be here for you and maybe that’s my fault as well because of my reactions. You are who you are and you like control and I am who I am and I don’t always initially react well to things. It depends on how I am approached…I suppose. Whether I react well or not I have struggled with trust and you know why. But even with all that, I have afforded you a great deal of trust. In the past I have seen the way you handle us as something else altogether but you showing me some of what you go through has helped a lot in being here and not immediately defaulting to feelings of betrayal or deliberate humiliation as I did in the past. I feel as if we have a repeat pattern and it’s not the one I always believed it to be. I feel that maybe it is that control element. When we are not together, before we met and the years in between, you have no control over us, so you try hard to have it, to get me and keep me, possibility because of your feelings and/or attachment to me. Then things do change drastically when we do come together again, because you do seem to try to maintain control and keep the upper hand…I think that is the part that I feel because when you have control of the situation, you also have control over me in a sense, and the ability to hurt me. I didn’t trust you in the past as much as I do now. I still struggle and become afraid, but not in the same manner because I do trust you more.  You try to remain in control, so you don’t get hurt and so you can manage things, your feelings, my presence or the power of emotions…the things is, that really neither of us has control over the other in that sense; because we both care. I have known this a while but not afraid to allow you to take control of us because I trust you, not to hurt me or use it against me.

…don’t know if you are or not giving me credit for my ability to be here for you, or maybe you are giving me too much credit in my ability to withstand a lot. Maybe you know something about I don’t. Yes, we have been through a lot and gotten through a lot to still be here and maybe you see that as evidence that we always will…It took me a long to time to realize that us not being fragile centered around your feelings because you know how you feel and what you have been through to stay…and I guess you know that as long as you have those feelings we stay…the thing is that our history shows us that this was not on a whim, this wasn’t just us acting and making decisions on feelings alone. It wasn’t something that just happened. There was something that brought us together, something that made us strong and something that has kept us together even when we have no other ties to each other.

This is one of those things, where I feel if I just take it for granted or become complacent that I will lose…but that’s just what experience has taught me in general. I think a huge part of me doesn’t trust that anything works out because well because of a lot of things and maybe too young I saw how badly life can fall apart and how easily it can… I can’t help realizing how it has affected me and my choices.

I don’t expect that you have all the answers…well maybe I mostly do. I see you that way and sometimes do forget you are human and don’t always have all the answers. That is the me that looks up to you and leans on you. I guess sometimes when I ask you to respond, I am not asking for an explanation. I realized that maybe you may feel you have said all that you know or can say or even have answers to. Sometimes, all I want or expect is to know that you hear me and you are listening even if you don’t have the answers. Because in that way alone you make me feel better and are enough…

 

…your struggle is not about me. He said as well that some of your struggle is more of a control issue because you caring about me leaves you feeling vulnerable and not in complete control of your feelings. And like me when I discovered the same thing years ago…not having control of something in my life, especially my feelings, was terrifying to me. Where once I was afraid to love, now I am afraid to lose. I stopped struggling against my feelings and accepted them and only then did I have any control at all; by letting go of control and trusting my heart in your hands even when I am afraid (the pastor saw that when I didn’t. I am not used to being bested that way) …The thing is, I am not your enemy. this isn’t me against you. Neither of us has the upper hand when it comes to feelings. that’s why, I step back and don’t fight you for it. If you need it, then I can be without it. That’s me trusting you. I trust you to guard us, to guard my heart and protect it as you would your own…I fight, then you take control and I struggle some here and there…but I trust. I count on you.  I do lean on you.

The fear comes in waves and then I take a breath and then I just have faith. I let go of control.

“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mathew 17:20)

Because I have faith in general, even a modicum, I trust you with me.

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My Sacred Name

        By A.N. Bayat

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Unknown artist

 

You know my sacred name
not ever meant for all
You held me with your gaze
You hold my fragile heart
You’ve held it a million years
You’ve had it from the start

i should have walked away that day
i should have gone invisible
i  shouldn’t have answered your call
i should  not have given all
i should have closed my heart
i should have turned my back
i should have lost my faith
i should have sailed away
i should have forgotten you

no expectations
no love
no loss
no pain
no joy
no happiness
no us

what would life have been if I’d never looked your way?
What would it have been if I’d turned and walked away?
If I’d never taken a chance, what I would have missed?

 

i can’t imagine my life if i had never smiled
i can’t imagine it if i had never ever tried
i can’t imagine life if I’d kept it locked away
i can’t imagine it if I’d not left that door ajar

turned on that light
expressed that moment
or handed you my soul

What would our lives have been
without that loving tender kiss?
what would it have been
without that comforting embrace?

How would it all have changed
without your understanding smile?
How would it be different
without your caring patient gaze?

I would never have known love
peace
happiness or joy
I can stand every ounce of pain,
sadness and tears
because you are always here for me
to love away my fears…

 

who ever thought I’d love a man
so course and rough around the edges
but loving from the start
that’s  why over all the years
all the distance in between,
No one else has ever held my heart

 

or known my sacred name

You’ve held it a million years

you’ll have a million more

 

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The History of Zionism: An Ancient Cultural Perspective and Modern Movement

You are looking at a rare reproduction of a lost oil painting titled The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 by David Roberts

You are looking at a rare reproduction of a lost oil painting titled The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 by David Roberts

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The 99 names of ALLAH

1. ALLAH (The name of ALLAH)
2 .Ar-Rahman ( The most beneficent)
3. Ar-Raheem ( The most merciful)
4. Al-Malik (The king)
5. Al-Qudoos (The most holy)
6. As-Salaam (The bestower of peace)
7 Al-Mu’min (The granter of security)
8. Al-Muhaymin (The protector )
9. Al-Azeez (The mighty)
10. Al-Jabbar (The compeller
11. Al-Mutakabbir (The majestic)
12. Al-Khaliq (The Creator)
12. Al-Baarih (The maker)
14. Al-Musawwir ( The fashioner of forms)
15. Al-Gaffar (The forgiver)
16. Al-Qahhar (The subduer)
17. Al-Wahhab (The bestower)
18. Ar-Razzaq (The provider)
19. Al-Fattah (The opener)
20. Al-Aleem (The all knowing)
21. Al-Qaabid (The with-holder)
22. Al-Basit (The expander)
23.Al-Khafid (The abaser)
24 .Ar-Raafi (The exalter)
25. Al-Mu’iz (The bestower of honor)
26. Al-Mudhil (The humiliator )
26. As-Sami ( The all hearing)
27. Al-Baseer (The all seeing)
28. Al-Hakam ( The judge)
29. Al-Adl ( The just)
30. Al-Lateef (The most affectionate)
31. Al-Khabeer (The all aware)
32. Al-Haleem ( The forbearing)
33. Al-Azeem (The magnificent)
34. Al-Ghafoor ( The forgiving)
35. Ash-Shakoor ( The appreciative)
36. Al-Aliyy (The most high)
37. Al-Kabir (The greatest)
38 Al-Hafeez (The preserver)
39. Al-Muqeet ( The sustainer)
40. Al-Haseeb (The Reckoner)
41. Al-Jaleel ( The Sublime)
42. Al-Kareem (The Generous)
43. Ar-Raqeeb (The watchful)
44. Al-Mujeeb (The responsive)
45. Al-Waasi (The all Encompassing)
46. Al-Hakeem ( The wise)
47. Al-Wadood (The most loving)
48. Al-Majeed ( The most glorious)
49. Al-Baa’ith (The ressurector)
50. Ash-Shaheed (The witness)
51. Al-Haqq (The truth)
52. Al-Wakeel (The ultimate trustee)
53. Al-Qawiyy (The most strong)
54. Al-Mateen (The most firm)
55 . Al-Waliyy (The protector)
56. Al-Hameed (The praise worthy)
57. Al-Muhsee (The reckoner)
58. Al-Mubdi (The originator)
59. Al-Mu’eed (The restorer)
60 . Al-Muhyee (The giver of life)
61. Al-Mumeet (The causer of death)
62. Al-Hayy (The ever living)
63 .Al-Qayyoom (The self subsisting, sustainer of all)
64. Al-Waajid (The self sufficient)
65 .Al-Maajid (The glorified)
66. Al-Ahad (The one)
67. As-Samad (The Eternally Besought)
68. Al-Qaadir (The omnipotent)
69. Al-Muqtadir (The powerful)
70. Al-Muqaddim (The Expediter)
71. Al-Mu’akhhir (The delayer)
72. Al-Awwal (The first)
73 .Al-Aakhir (The last)
74. Az-Zaahir (The manifest)
75. Al-Baatin (The hidden)
76. Al-waalee (The governor)
77. Al-Muta’alee (The most exalted)
78. Al-Barr (The source of all goodness)
79. At-Tawwab ( The acceptor of repentance)
80. Al-Muntaqim (The avenger)
81. Al-Afuww (The Pardoner)
82. Ar-Ra’oof ( The most kind)
83. Al-Malik -ul- Muluk (The owner of sovereignity)
84 Dhul-jalaali wal-Ikraam (The possessoof majesty and honor)
85. Al-Muqsit (The equitable)
86 .Al-Jaami (The gatherer)
87. Al-Ghaniyy (The all sufficient)
88. Al-Mughnee (The Enricher)
89. Al-Maan (The preventer of harm)
90. Ad-Daar (The distresser)
91. An-Naafi (The propitious)
92 An-Noor (The light)
93. Al-Haadee (The guide)
94. Al-Badee (The originator)
95. Al-Baqee. (The everlasting)
96. Al-Warith (The ultimate inheritor)
97. Ar-Rasheed (The guide to the right path)
99. Al-Sabur (The most patient)

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