Browsing "islam op-eds"
Oct 25, 2011 - islam op-eds    8 Comments

All the Single (Muslim) Ladies

Two new articles have been making major waves through the non-Muslim and Muslim blogosphere worlds recently. Interestingly enough the subject is the same, even though one is from a non-Muslim perspective and one is from a Muslim perspective. The topic:  Single Ladies.

The first article titled ‘All the Single Ladies’ published in The Atlantic is a very long narrative written by Kate Bolick detailing her life, her choices and how she came to be single.  Some parts regret, some parts self-blame, some parts accusation, some parts defiance, some parts drunken confession; the response to the article has been huge. And divisive. It’s safe to say the article has touched a major chord in people. Some bloggers are upset that she divides guys into two groups: deadbeats and ballers and she talks about how some ballers get taken and the rest become ‘playas’ spoiled for choice by desperate women and the single ladies are only left with deadbeats. Others are upset that she made a choice to turn down someone decent for marriage for no known reason and in so many words regrets it, but then goes on to defend her decisions. Others just call the piece anti-feminist, and others call it femi-nazi. (You know how that goes!) She also believes this wave of single women can be attributed to our current economy and lack of “male ambitiousness” which I’m sure pissed off a lot of guys. She’s also upset that her parents generation “the divorced generation” somehow instilled a fear of getting married and  ‘not settling” in their children and told them marriage was not the ‘be all and end all’ and that there’d always be someone out there for them. (But yet there isn’t; over time, like women the world over, she comes to believe there’s no one decent left.) Somehow in the end she tries to find meaning in singleness while coming to the final epiphany that marriage should always be “society’s highest ideal” and that perhaps the next generation of women will realize this.

The second article first appeared on Sh. Suhaib Webb’s website entitled ‘Wifehood and Motherhood are Not the Only Ways to Paradise’ written by Maryam Amir-Ebrahimi. According to the website’s Facebook spokersperson the article has broken all records of viewership and the response has been “off the charts”.  In the article, the author touches very briefly on how some girls only care about marriage to the exclusion of all else, while they could be educating themselves. She talks about the extreme pressure on Muslim girls to marry and how many believe that Allah created women only for wifehood and motherhood. Yet, she goes on, our history and tradition shows many examples of women who were more than “wives and mothers” and led in fields such as scholarship.

I’d like to point out that these two articles reinforce some other articles I wrote; namely that problems in larger non-Muslim society (the trend of single women) will affect or at least reflect and mirror the same problems among Muslim society, and secondly that this problem (the trend of single women) unchecked will come back to bite us, the entire Ummah with a whole host of other problems and repercussions.

Reading the first article made me feel sick, not because it was wrong or confused (which it was) but it echoes so much of what single Muslim women are going through now and will be going through in the next few decades. It’s almost like holding up a mirror and seeing the future of us. Confused, angry, blaming, not able to uphold this ‘Islamic ideal’ and still be us; I don’t think we’ll even have to wait a decade.

The second article I’ll say has been a long time in coming. I think ironically because of the amount of divorced and unmarried women, and older aunties with empty-nests, we’re finally coming to the realization that there is more to a woman’s life than marriage and kids.

For the first time ever, I heard a Shaykh answer a question about marriage by saying it was “Mubah” – permissible only, and if a person didn’t feel the urge or need to be married, they did not have the obligation to marry. That there were many examples in Muslim history of great women such as Maryam (ra) even who never married and dedicated themselves to a higher spiritual plane. And there were also men who did the same. This would have been unheard of even 5 years ago.

Muslim or non-Muslim we have to acknowledge that there’s something going on here:  Societal/generational change. There are so many complexities involved here about the trend of more Muslim singles, especially women. I’d like to blame it all on superficial guys, but going even beyond that, it involves being an immigrant generation trying to find partners in a non-Muslim society, the growing disparity between what sisters and brothers want and are looking for, the search for ‘perfection’, delaying marriage until men and women are completely ‘settled’, ‘expectations’, ‘superficiality’, ‘idealism’ and ‘lack of realism and experience’ involved on both sides, the ability of guys to marry decades younger, non-Muslims, converts and overseas. Not to mention religious, cultural and major, major parental limitations! Most of which have nothing to do with Islam.

And some people’s solution of “just getting married” is not the solution because these are only symptoms of a greater problem. The greater problem here is the very defining of women. The struggle here is that we’re trying to figure out the answer to these questions:  What are Muslim women supposed to be in society? What is our role? Is marriage truly our ideal? What is an ideal Muslim woman? Is the pinnacle of being a woman giving birth to a son? Being a mother? Is it being a ‘helpmate’ to a husband? Is the family unit (mother father + children), the only unit allowed in a Muslim society? What exactly is the purpose of our lives as Muslim women and what should we be doing at each stage?

To many single Muslim ladies growing up in the US and elsewhere, being an ideal Muslim woman meant being highly educated, opinionated, independent and active in society. Yet there is such a disconnect that on the marriage market this is the exact opposite of what’s desirable. Hence, the plethora of “baller” Muslim women, that every Imam in the US acknowledges; a surplus of ‘good’ older single Muslim girls.

Again as a single Muslim woman myself, I’m not going to stress ‘marrying down’ or ‘settling’ as the solution because that isn’t the solution. The problem isn’t even these girls! It’s us as an Ummah. We need to figure out what we believe the role of Muslim women is. If it’s to be a certain type/kind of girl doing certain things with certain established goals then maybe like Kate Bolick I can only hope the next generation of single Muslm ladies can find it.

In the meantime I hope we can begin to establish some kind of acceptance for us, all the single (Muslim) ladies, to become part of the Ummah.

 

Oct 15, 2011 - islam op-eds    15 Comments

Why do Muslims flip out?

Why do Muslims flip out?

Recently a Muslim comic book called ‘the 99′ came out. Some Muslims flipped out just on the concept alone, because they thought the comic book was trying to say God was “in” people or that people were God. But the comic book’s creator explains that it’s about exemplifying God through His attributes. ie God is the Most Generous so we strive to be generous, God is the Most Just, so we strive to be just and so on.

In the UK they just came out with a “new Muslim marriage contract” which emphasizes some rights of women (already given in Islam) and also (so I hear) allows women to marry themselves without a guardian and with witnesses that are not male. When many Muslim guys read this they flipped out. Even though women marrying themselves is a well known opinion in the Hanafi school of thought. There is also an opinion that if a marriage is public and known there is no need for witnesses.

When the Danish cartoons came out Muslims flipped out. Yes the cartoons were wrong and definitely not covered under free speech. (Imagine creating pornographic pictures of the most respected person you know like say…the Pope and then publishing it in newspapers across the Muslim world. Will anyone call that free speech?) Anyhow we saw what happened: Mass demonstrations, violence, ppl being killed across the Muslim world and death threats against the cartoonists.

Closer to home, the other day there was a woman in the Mosque whose baby was crying (screaming crying choking alternately) while we were praying. I’ve actually never seen a mother totally ignore her baby like that through the entire prayer. After the prayer I and some other women asked her why she didn’t pick up her baby, and she flipped out and became upset and said that it wasn’t allowed and that she needed “evidence”. She needed “evidence” to do something before her baby choked??? Turns out there is a very clear tradition that the Prophet (s) himself picked up his granddaughter during the prayer (and she was not even crying)!

So why do Muslims flip out? Why are we so emotional? Why do we think only in black and white? Why can’t we think about these things calmly and try to find the Islamic opinions on these things? Why don’t we contact wise and knowledgable scholars and try to think about the consequences of our actions?

Emotionalism and love for Islam are good things, but sometimes it just feels so hollow. Someone burns down a McDonalds in Karachi because they are mad about the Danish cartoons? Really? Does that make any sense? like at all?? It’s almost the same mentality of terrorists – so called “love” but completely wrong way of following through. And worse still a way that harms Muslims and Islam even more! The “love” becomes completely meaningless.

If we truly had love of Islam we would do the work. It takes the long haul to educate people and change how they think of Islam. It takes long nights organizing, planning, writing things, holding events, working with interfaith groups, speakers, communities, teaching. It takes talking about Islam to our friends, co-workers, neighbors. It takes living up to its values of honesty, justice, truth, keeping promises and living decent lives. It takes time to think about and weigh the consequences of things, to create a vision and follow through. It takes a lifelong dedication to Islam and Dawah; not just 5 seconds of expressing our anger.

The same thing happens in our Mosques all the time. Everyone likes to flip out and complain, criticize or worse yet be very vocal about their own Islamic opinion on how something is wrong. But where are they during classes and Islamic learning? Where are they when it comes to volunteering and serving the community? Why don’t they join the committees and try to make positive changes? Walk the walk and then talk?

I know two sisters who (solely) organized a huge Eid party for the kids and one of the fathers came 4 hours late and because there were only a few things of food left, he flipped out. I’m sorry? These poor girls spent weeks organizing, recruiting, selling tickets, booking ppl, coordinating bouncy-bounces with pony rides and food and volunteers for his kids and he gets to flip out?

It just seems like a pattern or mentality we have. We flip out. And that isn’t even the worse part. The worse part is that’s ALL we do! Nothing else comes after it. Meaningless and Hollow.

There is no pause or conversation or consideration.

I remember a woman flipping out and telling a new obviously non-Muslim girl who came to Friday prayer once that her prayer didn’t count and she shouldn’t come here like that. Ummm? Turns out she came because her “Muslim boyfriend” wanted her to learn about Islam because she was having his baby! Yeah we never saw her again.

What does flipping out do? Does it bring someone closer to God? No. Does it benefit the person or others? No. Does it change our condition as a people? No. So why do ppl do it? Most likely the only reason I can think of is because it makes them feel better!

Makes one feel better, but again so false and meaningless. The only way emotion and feeling can be good is if it motivates one for doing action that benefits. Feeling passion and anger on behalf of our religion and Prophet (s) or in the face of injustice is good. But we need to step back and realize that the life of our noble Prophet is a study in how to deal with and channel these things. It was never easy for him or a 5 minute deal. The message of Islam took over 23 years, hardship after hardship. And still he persevered in his patience and wise actions.

Where at any point in the life of Rasulullah (s) did he ever once become emotional, do something spontaneous and leave it at that. Never. He always took the time to seek answers from revelation or consult those around him. He always took the wisest actions in dealing with people and situations. He always thought of the consequences. When people encouraged him to kill the hypocrities -known enemies of Islam who did such evil things, he said no, he did not want ppl to think he was killing his companions. When a bedouin came and urinated in the Mosque, he told ppl to leave him alone and let him finish! He even let someone come and pull his beard harshly and talk to him disrespectfully. He did not once let feelings at the time influence his wisdom and hope of teaching someone. There are countless examples of his forethought and vision, not because he was told those things by a higher power, but because he kept his real ideals and values in front of him at all times.

If only we could go back to that kind of pattern instead, where we are not reactionary or emotion-full, but thoughtful and full of  wise plans and vision. Our passion would still burn in our hearts, but only in order to light our way forward.

Aug 10, 2011 - islam op-eds    2 Comments

We’re all on this Safeenah

We’re all on this Safeenah together foos!!

 

One of the things that bothers me endlessly is when people say ‘who cares what’s going on with those kafirs*’, ‘they deserve what they get’ or ‘it doesn’t have anything to do with us’. Cases in point: the recession in the US and the very recent London Riots.

When the recession first started in the US, in the Muslim world there were people who were overjoyed. “Yes finally the US can feel what the rest of the world feels. That’s what they get those Kafirs!”. Ummmm. Really? I hate to break it to the Muslim world, but the entire Muslim world is dependent on those Kafirs, their banks and their investments. If the US goes into a recession, I’m sorry but the world suffers. Maybe an American has to cut down on their Starbuck’s lattes or gets a lower paying job, cutting out some luxuries, maybe even out of work for awhile, but in the Muslim world — people will starve. While you may think the economic systems of the world are independent, they are not. Where do you think all those rich Saudis and Khaleejis invest their money? Do this, take out a hundred dollar American bill and look at it closely. You’ll see some tiny writing in Arabic, read it. Yup that means that hundred dollars was used as currency by Muslims. There’s no self-sustaning Muslim country in the world. I mean you don’t have to take Economics 101 to get this. Just look at the Wall street crash this last week, the next day stock markets across the world crashed due to Wall street. Who loses money? Who ends up poorer? And who starves? Who will buy products from the Muslim world? Who will send aid to them in crises? Who will send tourists to them? Or do business with them. Eventually you will lose out and most definitely worse than any US counterpart, so don’t be so happy about US misfortune.

Second, London Riots… really are ppl that stupid? You LIVE in the same city. It’s your businesses and homes that are getting busted up, burned and looted. Where do you think the money will come to fix those things? It’s your taxes that are going to cover the millions in damages and pay for all that overtime of police. Do you think those businesses’ insurance will just cover it? Most small businesses do not have insurance. And even for the big one’s their insurance will go up and so will their prices next year. Who loses out? You do, the average person on the street Muslim or non-Muslim. What about all those Muslim restaurants that used to do amazing business during Ramadan that are now closing at 4pm. Yup Muslims losing out. Businesses close, ppl out of work, crime that expands exponentially, who’s affected? Just THEM or you. I guarantee you will be affected somehow or other.

Anyway those are just two examples, but time and time again I hear Muslims saying the ills in society don’t affect them. I’m sorry but all the same problems affect us and non-Muslim’s problems affect us, regardless if we live in the western world or not.

There’s a famous Hadith of the Safeenah (boat):

“It has been reported by Nu’man bin Bashir (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “There are people who do not transgress the limits (laws) of Allah Ta’ala, and there are others who do so. They are like two groups who boarded a ship; one of them settled on the upper deck, and the other on the lower deck of the ship. When the people of the lower deck needed water, they said, “Why should we cause trouble to the people of the upper deck when we can have plenty of water by making a hole in our deck”. Now, if the people of the upper deck do not prevent this group from such foolishness, all of them will perish; but if they stop them, they will be saved”.

Sahih Al Bukhari Vol.3 Pg.152 (Darul fikr)

This is actually an extremely deep Hadith that has many lessons. (There’s a nice 6 page explanation here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/19699363/The-Hadith-of-Safeena) Suffice it to say the one’s on the bottom are non-Muslims and the one’s on the top are Muslims. Some of us stay on the top deck thinking everything is great and we are saved, yet we ARE ALL ON THIS BOAT. So the people on the bottom that are nonchalantly making a hole will destroy all of us. When society is all full of ills, how and why do we think we are protected?? We only have to look at our children to see that idea was dumb. Do this exercise and check out the Facebook profiles of teenagers in your community. Yup, and that’s only what they show ppl.

You know in the 80s and 90s when Muslims first came here, we were all isolationists. We built our own Mosques, a few schools here and there. We just thought we could be our own society and live here on our own. Then 9/11 happened and then post 9/11 Islamophobia-hysteria and attacks on Islam and Muslims and Mosques and Islamic schools and even Halal food! started and have continued to this day. We are going to be fighting against being put in concentration camps soon. Not even kidding. (Read some right-wing blogs.)  All of our scholars kept calling on us to become more active in society and be a part of it and help cure it’s ills, build coalitions and interfaith councils. And of course there were people who thought those scholars were just cowards and were kissing up to Kaffirs, when they actually had vision and foresaw what is happening to us now.

Anyway in the end my point is that taking pleasure in or thinking we are unaffected by other’s misfortune is a fallacy and yes a pretty ridiculous way of thinking.

Ok thanks for reading. (Sorry this mini-rant came out in Ramadan, just couldn’t help myself)

*sorry for the ridiculous use of the word kafirs throughout this post

 

Update: Three Muslims have lost their lives trying to protect their areas during the spread of these riots. Now tell me these things don’t affect us :( Inna lillah wa inna ilaihi rajeoon. They are true martyrs.

Update #2: The injured boy that was callously mugged by other kids is a Malaysian Muslim student studying in Britain. :(