Allah Kareem

Allah Kareem, ‘ God is the Most Generous’. Remembering the generosity of our Lord, and inspired by the generosity of a very beautiful sister…one of many beautiful people I am blessed to know. How indeed the qualities of Allah azza wa’jal are manifested by His creation! Imagine then the felicity of acquiring the reflection of even one of them! Allah forgive my sins and be generous with me and with us all!
Peace to you.

Topical article….’Are women created only for family life’ by Fathi Osman

I came across this article today on Islamicity and will copy-paste it here. It raises a number of issues very topical in the ‘modern’ world. The arguments are clearly expounded and easy to understand. I’m not merely posting it due to presentation however, I do agree with most of the author’s views and found this a refreshing read.

Here is a bio of the author:

Fathi Osman was a prominent Muslim thinker born in Egypt in 1928 and died in Southern California in 2010. He studied the development of contemporary Islamic thinking since 1947. He has written extensively about the process of change in Islamic concepts, human and gender rights in Islamic and Western perspectives, the Islamic approach to pluralism, the analysis of Islamic history and its interpretation. He has published more than 30 books in Arabic and English which represent new approaches in Islamic thinking. Many of his books, including “Reflections” in “Arabia: the Islamic World Review” published in London 1981-1987, have been translated into several languages.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon..may Allah grant him the highest heaven.

Article:

We have been used to thinking that women have been created for the family life and for raising children, and thus their natural place is in their homes. Nothing in the Quran or Sunna clearly supports such a view or assumption. Such a division of labor between the husband who earns the living of the family and the wife who stays at home doing housework is a societal experience, which has occurred for a very long time throughout history in so many societies, including the Arab society at the time of Islam, and the subsequent Muslim as well as other societies until recent times when change has come out. Women learn and work equally to men, and the family responsibilities are requiring more financial resources. Caring about the home has to be reviewed, and the Prophet’s traditions indicate his assistance to his wives.

However, such a modern experience of women’s work and the consequent need for husband’s help in the housework in so many countries does not necessarily mean that it is an eternal natural law. Social change never stops; and norms are introduced, maintained or abandoned according to their practical benefit.

In English, the verb form “to husband” denotes the mastery and management of the house, and “husbandry” may mean the control of resources and careful management or the or production of plants and animals. The word “groom”-used in bridegroom-is related to feeding. This may merely reflect a societal tradition that has existed throughout history. The Arabic language, however, differently uses the same word “zawj” meaning mate or companion of the other, for both husband and wife. Some may add the feminine suffix “h” to “zawj” to indicate that the word in a particular context means wife, but this is not a linguistic rule or obligation, and the Quran uses the word “zawj” and its plural “azwaj” to mean wife and wives respectively [e.g. 2:35, 102, 232, 234, 240, 4:12, 20, 6:139, 7:19, 13:38, 20:117, 21:90, 23:6, 24:6, 26:166, 33:4, 6, 28, 37, 25, 50, 53, 59, 60:11, 66:1, 3, 5, 70:31, as well as for husband and its plural [e.g. 2:230, 232, 58:1]. One may argue whether a woman’s work is better from various angles for the family than her stay at home or not. I may go further to say that some Muslim women, and non-Muslim as well, may prefer to stay at home, but this does not mean that this is God’s law that is explicitly spelled out in the Quran or the Sunna. The discussion has to be moved from theology to sociology, or from the divine laws to the human thinking and experience.

Moreover, the Arabic word “qawwamun”, with its preposition “‘ala” which describes the relation of men to women in the Quranic verse 4:34, does not imply any superiority, but simply means “taking full care of”. The verse reads: “Men take full care of women, for what God has granted some of them distinctively from the other, and what they may spend out of their possessions”. The distinctiveness between men and women is related to the woman’s pregnancy, delivery, and nursing, which make it necessary that the man should have the responsibility to provide for her needs and the needs of the children, at least when she is hindered with such a distinctive natural function of reproduction. This hindrance is not permanent, and it cannot be a reason to keep the women at home all her life, and neither does it hinder her intellectual and psychological merits. She is not supposed to bear children or raise them all her life, and at a certain age children have to go to school. Further, suppose that a woman may not marry or bear children, what, then, should keep her at home?

It is time to look to the woman as an equal human being, not just as a bearer and raiser of children, a cook, a home-cleaner, or a dishes and dirty-laundry washer etc. The family life and raising children require a join-effort of both the man and the woman. Since the woman has her right and obligation in obtaining an education according to the guidance of Islam, it is good for her personality and for the society, just as it may be good for the family itself to support the woman’s right to work, and as long as this right is beneficial for all parties, it should be secured.

The woman’s right to inheritance is stated in the Quran, and an addition can be supplemented by writing a will which has priority over the mandatory distribution of inheritance stated in the Quran [14:11-12]. The Muslim should feel his/(her) responsibility to write his (her) will as the Quran urges, even when one realizes suddenly that she (he) is on the brink of death without having it prepared [2:180, 240, 5:106-8]. In the society, men and women are equally and jointly in charge of and responsible for one another in fulfilling their collective obligations towards the public as a whole [9:71]. A woman has the right to vote, to be a member of parliament, a minister, a judge, and even an officer in the army. Which jobs may or may not be convenient to her should be decided-by women themselves not imposed on them, according to their own conviction and interests. In a modern state bodies rule not individuals, and women in executive, legislative and judiciary positions are included in bodies and are subject to a system. Laws are codified, and discretionary decisions are subject to be reviewed by those who have higher positions or by the courts. Not a single man or women has absolute power in a modern state.

Considering two women equal to one man in witnessing a documentation of a credit is connected with a certain practical consideration that is explicitly mentioned in the Quranic text: “so that if one of them [the two women] might make a mistake, the other could remind her” [Quran 2:282]. Women might not in general be familiar with business matters and their financial and legal requirements, especially in Arabia at the time of the Prophets message, but this does not mean that a woman who has had the necessary education or business experience cannot be equal to a man in this respect. Classical jurists pointed out that this is not a general rule for the testimony of a woman, and that the testimony of one woman is sufficient if she knows what she is witnessing and is reliable. In our times, should not a woman who may be a lawyer or an accountant be equal to a man in witnessing a documentation of a transaction? How can some prominent jurists allow a woman to be a judge with full jurisdiction on all matters, if she cannot be a full witness in the first place? Is it not obvious that the limitation regarding her witnessing a document of credit is understood as only conditional and related to certain circumstances?

Monogamy Not Polygyny

What goes with nature and fulfills the “solemn pledge” of marriage is the general rule of marriage in Islam (Quran 4:21). A normal man cannot split his own self into parts, each for a different woman and his children from her. However, Islam allowed – not ordered or recommended – that a man may have another wife exceptionally when this may be necessary. A wife may be seriously and incurably ill for all her remaining life, and her husband may be sincerely committed to take care of her, but he, their children and the ill wife may need badly a woman to take care of the family. It is up to both of the initial wife and the suggested co-wife to accept or reject freely such a second marriage, and no one can impose on any of them a marriage against her will, according to the Islamic law. Each should know that she would be a co-wife, for a legal marriage cannot be mutually based on or maintained on fraud and deception. It is required to register in such a marriage that both the previous and the new wives-know precisely the situation and have no objection.

Islam did not establish polygamy in Arabia nor in the world. Polygyny – the form of polygamy in which a man marries more than one woman – alongside with the reversed form of polygamy: “polyandry” (in which a woman marries more than one husband) still exists in every part of the world, but it is not frequent among African peoples” according to the Academic American Encyclopedia. It is known that polygamy prevailed in the patriarchal age, and was permitted in principle under the Mosaic law, and continued to later times – according to Smith’s Bible Dictionary. The Bible mentioned that Solomon had many wives [I Kings 11:3].

According to the Quran, the permission of marrying more than one wife has several restrictions, as it reads:

“And if you fear that you may cause the orphans injustice, then marry women of your choice who are lawful to you, two, or three, or four, But if you have reason to fear that you may not be able to deal justly with them, then marry only one… This makes it more likely that you will not deviate from the right course for have a family whose maintenance exceeds your ability”‘ (Quran 4:3)

Accordingly:

A ceiling was put to polygyny, restricting the maximum number of legitimate co-wives to four.

It is related to an injustice suffered by the orphans, and widows may be added; a suffering which may refer to after-war circumstances, when many women became widows and have to take care of their orphaned children, including girls in the age of marriage.

Fairness in treating the co-wives is a pre-condition for having more than one wife; otherwise one wife is, the general rule and normal situation “so that you may not deviate from the right course,” through unfair treatment or a lack of due material and moral care for a big family of co-wives and numerous children.

Another Quranic verse shows how almost impossible it is to maintain such an equal fairness among co-wives, and how difficult it is to be even close to such equal fairness (4:129). Injustice would be suffered not only by the co-wives but also by their children who have to live as half brothers and sisters. The required spousal “love and tenderness” (30:21) would certainly be undermined in such complicated “partnership.”

Prophet Muhammad emphasized clearly the general rule and normal situation of monogamy, when he heard that his cousin Ali was to take another wife beside the Prophet’s daughter Fatima, underlining the rights of the wife and her family to know about the other marriage and to reject it. From a practical viewpoint, a woman would never accept to share a man with another woman, unless women outnumber men in certain circumstances, and it may be better to accept the reality temporarily until the balance is restored, rather than to have them suffer psychologically and socially. If the family has to be a model for the whole society in its harmonious relations and fulfillment of all responsibilities (25:74), one man and one women only can establish such a strong and balanced nucleus that can provide such a model in the mutual relations within the family and with the whole society. Polygyny has been permitted with restrictions, exceptionally and temporarily, while men and women were educated and persuaded to develop a monogamous society, which is prevalent now in many Muslim communities. In some Muslim countries, there are laws that control having more than one wife.

The teachings of Islam about the religious and social importance of marriage and the necessity of justice, tranquility and pleasance within the family, have developed in recent times an attitude on monogamy among the Muslims, similar to what occurred before among the Jews, of whom many today may not be aware that polygyny was allowed in their Scriptures and practiced by their ancestors for a longtime time. To this day, cases of polygamy occur among the Yemenite Jews and the Sephardi Jews of the near East.

Modesty Not Segregation

The social role of women requires mixing with men. As Islam does not permit any discrimination between men and women, nor does it advocate a segregation between them as it may be widely understood because of long-standing socio-cultural practices or views. What Islam forbids actually is that one man and one woman stay together in seclusion and privacy (khalwa), if they are not married to each other but they are marriageable according to Shari’a. “Khalwa” cannot apply to a public place, or a place in which others may enter any time such as small offices and shops.

Modesty is required in the outdoor dress for both Muslim women and men. However, there is no specific uniformed dress recommended for a Muslim woman. Purda, chadour, ‘abaya, quftan or hayik are local fashions preferred by women in particular places, and may be changed in any time according to the change of taste. However, various designs or fashions should comply with the basic and permanent requirements of an Islamic dress. The Quran underlines such requirements for a woman’s dress in the following verse:

“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters as well as all [other] believing women that hey should draw over themselves some of their outer garments [when in public]: this will be more conducive to being recognized [as decent women] and not annoyed.” (Quran 33:59)

Moreover, certain decent behavior has to be observed beyond the dress:

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be [mindful of their chastity and] guarding their private parts, this is more conducive to their purity. …And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be [mindful of their chastity and] guarding their private parts, and not to display their charms [in public] beyond what may [decently] be apparent thereof; hence let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms… and let them not tap [the ground] with their legs [in walking] so as to draw attention to their hidden charms…” [Quran 24:30-31].

Muhammad Asad comments: “Khimra” denotes the head-covering customarily used by Arabian women before and after the advent of Islam. According to most of classical commentators, it was worn in pre-Islamic times more or less as an ornament and was let down loosely over the wearer’s neck; and since the fashion of the time [made] a wide opening in the front of the upper part of a woman’ tunic, this allowed her breast to be bare. Hence, covering the bosom by khimar does not necessarily relate to the use of khimar as such, but is rather to make it clear that a womanÕs breast [should be covered and] is not included in “what may decently be apparent” of her body.

In this light, Islam allows any dress that fulfills the required modesty for a decent woman, and the creativity of fashion designers has to combine elegance and modesty in women’s dresses since one does not negate the other. The attractiveness and respectability of a woman – the same as of a man – are due to one’s personality as a whole, with all intellectual and psychological dimensions, and not to what is physically exposed of one’s body. It is against the human dignity and equality to focus on the physical attraction of a woman, in her social performance with men, the same as this is required from men when they associate with women. In an open society, men and women are equally responsible in “enjoying the doing of what is right and good and forbidding the doing of what is wrong and evil” (Quran 9:71).

Comments are welcome. Peace to all!

Make me strong

This song has always helped me. I just came across this youtube video of it with these beautiful images of the ocean. I wanted to share it here… MashaAllah so healing. Allah bless Sami richly for the courage he has shown in expressing his feelings and just being himself, regardless of what any one says about his music. He is true to his heart and Allah gives success to the one true to his heart.

Here it is

On the death of a child

Assaalamu alaikum, peace to all

Tonight I heard from my sister of the death of a dear child, a beautiful little girl who lives down the street from us back home in Sri Lanka. Her family is not well to do, being fruit sellers…but are some of the most kind and giving people I know. Her grandfather in particular, went out of his way to look after my grandmother when she had a stroke…bodily lifting her up and carrying her out to the vehicle waiting to rush her to hospital. Being a manual laborer he had the strength to do it and being as fond of her as he is, often saying ‘she is like a mother to me’, he had the heart. I, stuck on the other side of the globe, and knowing it would take 48 hours to reach there, could only arrive to be by her hospital bedside. Thank God, she survived that attack and then this little child would visit her almost every day to keep her company as she recovered. She was an adorable bunch of mischief, naughty and full of smiles as she played one prank after another. Her name in Sinhala has no particular meaning I know but can be considered to mean ‘flower’ so I will call her that.

Well Flower has died. Of Dengue fever, a mosquito borne disease more deadly than Maleria in my Island home. The Doctors who examined her not being able to diagnose her correctly at first her treatment came too late. ‘Inna ilaihi wa inna lillaahi rajioon’, the beautiful and profound sentence we Muslims are taught to say on the passing of anyone… ‘From God we come and to God we return’. So then as we believe, another angelic soul reunited with the divine presence. Sinless, she will be in heaven, awaiting her parents and praying for them. So then there is peace.

I wonder about the beauty of children. How their presence gives us life. How we remember what is essential when we are with them. I think it is because they are so recently arrived from that divine presence, and unsullied by the world yet, they are able to communicate an angelic nature. Yes, even in their mischief, they are angelic! The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught us never to hit a child. Glory be to God, what a source of mercy our beloved prophet is!

After the tsunami happened I saw so many children who had died. So many children. Indeed, it was as if my soul shaken to its depths could not feel anymore. Only in blindly going through day after day after day indulging in back breaking work was there solace. Trusting without a shadow of a doubt, that Allah’s help will come and He is the MOST MERCIFUL. And so Allah is indeed the most merciful. Some time after the tsunami, I moved to another country and then moved in to live with a family where there was a beautiful baby. It took 5 years of growing with that child to be healed. Five blissful years of peace playing with a child and the world was right again. So I wonder at my Lord’s way, taking things away but giving back more. All we have to do is be patient. And kind and giving ourselves. All we have to do is learn to trust and that trust softens our speech so that we learn to speak to one another with kindness and gentility. Not a superficial gentility but one that has permeated our very soul. Is this then the way of the Buddha? the way of Lao Tse, of Jesus (peace be upon him) and of our Master Muhammed (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him)?

One of my most beloved sayings of Rasullulah (the messenger of Allah, peace be upon him) is where he stated that the best means of persuasion is the gentle means…but I cannot find this reference and indeed I am also not sure if it is Quranic. Please forgive me for my lapse, but here is a hadith very close in meaning to that

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Be gentle and calm. . .because God likes gentleness in all affairs.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadith 404

This gentleness children possess. It is there in every coo and gurgle and in every time they stretch their arms out to be hugged. It is there when they put their little hands in yours as you walk along. It is there when they sit in your lap and ask for a story to be read to them. And yes, even when those little eyes dance with mischief and they enjoy annoying you, it is there for they want you. They always want you.

Imagine then the angelic presence and to be united with that. Glory be to God. How much we have to learn to be better. And I say this first to myself and then to everyone else. Allah help me.
May the little ones be in an eternal and beautiful peace.

I wanted to share some other ahadith beloved to me in case it is of benefit to you. And indeed remembering our prophet is never anything but a strength and mercy;

Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, Number 759:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr:

The Prophet never used bad language neither a “Fahish nor a Mutafahish. He used to say “The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.”

Malik Muwatta Book 47, Number 47.1.8:

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “I was sent to perfect good character.”

Sahih Muslim Book 032, Number 6264:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).

Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 11, Number 677:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

The Prophet said, “When I start the prayer I intend to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut short the prayer because I know that the cries of the child will incite its mother’s passions.”

May Allah forgive us all our countless sins, guide and strengthen us!

And may Allah the almighty, most beautiful, kind, generous, glorious and loving Lord, the Almighty, give rest and ease to every parent who has ever had to go through the torture of loosing a child.

Reminding myself

Assalamu alaikum, Peace to all.

I wanted to share two excellent articles I came across on Suhaib Webb’s virtual mosque, reminding me first about the nature of our beloved. I ask your prayers to help me be more like him and my prayers for all of you to. On this note, a very beautiful elder I was blessed to meet once told me to say this prayer whenever possible, it has helped change my life so I will pass on the wisdom…he said to say ‘O God, I do not know what mistake I have done, but forgive me’. It purifies one, and indeed my soul is in heavy need of purification. And a second short prayer to make that unites us all is ‘Allahumma irham ummati Muhammed’, translated to ‘O Allah be merciful to the nation of Muhammed’ a worthy prayer to make after every salah indeed.

Here are the articles. I will cut and paste them and cite the original. Hope they are of benefit inshaallah. Jazakum Allah Khairan

He Kept it Real! (taken from http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/character/he-kept-it-real/)
Reehab Ramadan | June 6, 2011 5:00 am

Commanded to Love: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII

Many of us have a wide variety of masks that we put on throughout the day depending on whom we are with and what their expectations are. Some of these masks are masks of patience, masks of gratitude, or masks of kindness. But the ones who see the ‘true us’ are those we live with. They see our faults and the side of us that we would never show to the outside world. When talking to the sahaba (Companions) the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, ‘The best of you are those whom are best to their families, and I am the best among you to my family’ (Tirmidhi). One of the wisdoms we can take from this is that it’s easy to be kind to people when you only have to see them a few hours a week, or even a few hours a day. It’s easy to put on a smile and make someone feel like they are worth something when you know that the show you are putting on will end soon. But it takes work, effort, and perseverance to keep up that niceness and compassion with the people you see day-in and day-out. It is with your family that your true colors show. Through the narrations and commentary of the wives of the Prophet ﷺ , we know for a fact that he was not one to wear masks nor was he one to be fake and insincere.

One of these narrations is of the time when the Prophet came bursting into the house of our mother, Khadija radi Allahu `anha (may God be pleased with her), seeking refuge from the experience he had just been through and begging her to cover him up. After listening to the story of what had occurred in the cave, which we now know was the beginning of the revelation, Khadija (ra) didn’t rush to call him a mad man, laugh at him, or even feel sorry for him. Rather, she had full confidence that something amazing was happening by the will of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) because she knew of his noble qualities. She began to comfort him, reminding him of all the good things that he consistently did, assuring him that there is no way that Allah (swt) would abandon him or allow him to be experiencing this out of madness nor out of possession. She reminded him that he was always good to his relatives, was always true to his word, helped those who were in need, supported the weak, fed his guests and answered the calls of those who were in distress. Had this account of his actions come from extended family or even neighbors, it would be awe-inspiring, but it wouldn’t be as powerful as when it came from the lips of his wife. His wife, a woman who sees him in the different moments of his life, who sees him day and night, who knows him for who he really is when his guard may be down, testifies confidently that he is a man of honor and a man that would never let anyone down.

They say if you really want to know who a man is, ask his wife how he is at home when no strange eyes are watching. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ was the same man behind closed doors as he was in public. His deeds did not change depending on who he was with nor did it change depending on who was watching because he knew that the only One who mattered was Allah (swt), and Allah (swt) could see him no matter where he was. He was not two-faced nor did he switch between different masks. No, the Prophet ﷺ kept it real—no matter where he was.

and

A Man of Mercy (taken from http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/character/a-man-of-mercy/)
Reehab Ramadan | May 30, 2011 5:00 am

Commanded to Love: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI

Today, often times a “religious” person is seen to be someone who is rough and rigid, spouting do’s and don’ts without thinking twice about the emotions of the person being scolded. The Prophet ﷺ, however, was the farthest from any such description. He was a man who was enveloped in mercy, who cared for the weak, encouraged the women, and stood up for anyone in need.

Allah (swt) describes the character of the Prophet ﷺ in the Qura’n when He says:

“So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” [Qur’an, 3:159]

The Prophet ﷺ did not only have mercy towards the men of his society at a time when women were treated very harshly, he was also busy working against this to replace it with mercy and compassion.

The men at the time of Rasul’Allah ﷺ were privileged with the opportunity to constantly be in his company, learning and growing with him. The women wanted to have such an opportunity, and being the leader that he was, the women did not feel any shyness or fear in requesting this from him. Upon request, the Prophet ﷺ set aside a special time just for the women so that he could answer their questions and help them with what they needed. There is a narration in which the Prophet ﷺ was sitting amongst the women and they were talking loudly to him. Umar came into the room and the women completely changed their demeanor. Seeing this, the Prophet ﷺ did not get angry, nor offended, nor even jealous–rather, he laughed. Umar radi Allahu anh (peace and blessings be upon him), asked the Messenger ﷺ why he laughed at their behavior and he replied that he was amazed at how the women hid the instant they heard Umar’s voice! This angered Umar and he questioned the women, asking how they should fear him yet not the Messenger ﷺ! Their response exemplifies the mercy that Prophet ﷺ had towards these women; they responded confidently that in comparison, Umar (ra) was hot-tempered, while the Prophet ﷺ was the epitome of mercy.

The Prophet ﷺ’s mercy was vast and inclusive. He spread it far and wide to the point that even animals could find refuge in his kindness. Of the many instances that are breathtakingly vibrant with the clemency of RasulAllah ﷺ is that of the helpless bird. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud was traveling with the Prophet ﷺ and a few other men. One of the men took an egg from the bird’s nest. Out of despair, the bird came and flapped its wings at the Prophet ﷺ, and he took immediate notice to her sad state. He turned to his companions and asked them who had made this poor bird miserable. Upon finding out that her egg had been taken, he ordered the man to return the egg to her as a sign of mercy and compassion. At a time when many humans were not being shown kindness, the Prophet ﷺ mastered kindness to mankind and was already encouraging kindness and rights of animals.

Today, we look to the lives of the sahabah and read their stories. Many times, it is hard to comprehend how they had so much energy and drive to do all the things that they did. Their energy stemmed from pure Divine Love which was not built through harsh reprimands or robotic movements—rather, this love was built by being in the presence of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, seeing his amazing mercy and knowing that if he, the creation of Allah (swt), could exhibit such mercy, then what of his Creator?

Allah help us all be more like our beloved, and please Lord, shower your blessings and salutations upon Muhammed and his family.