Arabs & Arab Culture in Islamic History, Scripture & Prophecy

 

Islam was revealed in Arabic in the Arabian Peninsula, but what does it actually say about Arabs?  What is their place in Islam and Islamic history?  And does this apply to today’s modern musta’rab (Arabized people) or only to the original Arabs?

 

Arabs & Islamic Culture in Islamic History

Enmity to Islam

  • The first opponents of Islam were Arabs. They tortured and killed Muslims, even spearing a woman- Sumayya- in her vagina.
  • The people Muslims had to flee from, several times, were Arabs.
  • The first army Muslims fought was an army of Arabs.
  • The first munafiqeen (hypocrites) were Arabs. They pretended to be Muslims ready to fight with Prophet Muhammad, sAá&s, then betrayed him.
  • The first murtadeen- renegade apostates- and false prophets were Arabs.

 

Enmity to Prophet Muhammad, sAá&s, and His Family

  • Arabs tried to assassinate Prophet Muhammad, sAá&s, a grave sin of the Children of Israel condemned in the Qur-an many times.
  • The first people to physically attack the body of Prophet Muhammad, sAá&s, were Arabs.
  • The first people to belie and mock the Prophet Muhammad, sAá&s, were Arabs.
  • The murderer of Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet, 4th Khalifa (Caliph), was an Arab.
  • The murderers of the grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad, Hasan & Husayn, were Arabs.

 

Arabs & Arab Culture in the Qur-an & Prophetic Narrations (Hadith)

Pride

“So when you have accomplished your (Hajj) rituals, remember Allah as you remember your forefathers or with a greater rememberance…” (Qur-an 2.200)

This refutes a custom the Arabs had introduced into the Hajj (a pilgrimage which precedes Allah’s revelation to Muhammad).  In it, they would spend hours praising their forefathers in poetry and song, an exercise in tribal pride.

 

Bedouin Arab Culture is Disbelief and Hypocrisy

“The wandering desert Arabs are the severest in disbelief and hypocrisy, and most likely to be ignorant of the limits which Allah hath revealed unto His messenger. And Allah is Knower, Wise.

Some of the desert Arabs look upon their payments as a fine, and watch for disasters for you: on them be the disaster of evil: for Allah is He That heareth and knoweth (all things).

But some of the desert Arabs believe in Allah and the Last Day, and look on their payments as pious gifts bringing them nearer to Allah and obtaining the prayers of the Messenger. Aye, indeed they bring them nearer (to Him): soon will Allah admit them to His Mercy: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur-an 9.97-99)

“He Who belongs to the Bedouin is most likely harsh and hard of heart”

[Reported by Abu Y’ala on the authority of Al-Bara’. Also by Ahmad on the authority of Abu Hurairah].

 

All the following people are cursed by Muhammad (Peace be upon him) until the Day of Judgment, the man who lends money at interest (Riba), the man who accepts to pay it back at interest, the man who writes down this usurious agreement, the two witnesses of it at those times, the tattooer and the tattooed for the of beauty, the procrastinator of Zakah, whoever turns back to the Bedouin life after his immigration.

[Reported by lbn Khuzaimah in his Sahih (No.2250), Al-Hakim (vol. 1, pp.387, 388), Al-Baihaqi (vol.9, p.19), and `Abd Al-Raziq in his Musanaf with difference in words (No.15350). It is also reported by Ahmad (No.3881), Al-Nasa’i (vol.8, p.147), and Ibn Hibban (No .3252) on the authority of Al-Harith Al-A’war]

The apostate to Bedouin life, as Ibn Al-‘Athir said, is the one who returns to desert and live with the Bedoums after his immigration. The man who returned to Bedouin life after immigration without excuse was considered an apostate.

Abu Hurairah reported in a hadith that:

The great sins are disbelief in Allah, killing a fellow man without a just cause, devouring usury, eating up the property of orphans unjustly, turning one’s back to the disbelievers in a battlefield at the time of fighting, accusing chaste women, and to go back to the Bedouin after one’s immigration.”

[Al-Haitharni said: It is reported by Al-Bazar, vol.1, p.103]

 

Sahl Ibn Abi Hathamah narrated after his father that he heard the Prophet (Peace be upon him) saying:

Avoid the great seven sins. When the Prophet saw that the people kept silent, he went on: “Won’t you ask me about them? They are: to associate partners in worship with Allah and to turn and live in the desert with Bedouin after the immigration etc.”

[Al-Haithami said: It is reported by Al-Tabarani in Al-Kabir, vol.1, p.103]

 

Selling Daughters and Female Wards

“And give to the women (whom you marry) their dowry with a good heart…” (Qur-an 4.4)

This bans the practice of giving dowries to the fathers of the bride, effectively ending the custom of selling daughters and buying wives against their will.

 

Passing Women between Brothers

O ye who believe! It is not lawful for you forcibly to inherit the women (of your deceased kinsmen), nor (that) ye should put constraint upon them that ye may take away a part of that which ye have given them, unless they be guilty of flagrant lewdness. But consort with them in kindness, for if ye hate them it may happen that ye hate a thing wherein Allah hath placed much good. (Qur-an 4.19)

The Arab custom of widows being inherited by their brother-in-law or other in-laws is banned.

 

Passing Wives to Sons

And marry not women whom your fathers married,- except what is past: It was shameful and odious,- an abominable custom indeed. (Qur-an 4.22)

Another Arab custom is banned.

 

 

Sexual Comparison of Wives and Mothers

If any men among you divorce their wives by Zihar, they cannot be their mothers: None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And in fact they use words (both) iniquitous and false: but truly Allah is one that blots out (sins), and forgives (again and again).

But those who divorce their wives by Zihar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered,- (It is ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other: Thus are ye admonished to perform: and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.

And he who findeth not (the wherewithal), let him fast for two successive months before they touch one another; and for him who is unable to do so (the penance is) the feeding of sixty needy ones. This, that ye may put trust in Allah and His messenger. Such are the limits (imposed by Allah); and for disbelievers is a painful doom. (Qur-an 58.2-4)

Zihar, the Arab custom of divorcing a wife by saying approaching her is like approaching the back of his mother, is condemned, punished and banned.

 

Refutation of Blood Feuds

“O you who believe!  The Law of Equality in Punishment is prescribed for you in the case of murder:  the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.

But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or relatives, etc.) of the killed for blood money, then adhering to it with fairness and payment of the blood-money to the heir should be done in fairness.  This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord.  So after this, whoever transgresses the limits (i.e. kills the killer after taking the blood-money), he shall have a painful torment.

And there is a saving of life for you in the Law of Equality in Punishment, O people of understanding, that you may become righteous.” (Qur-an 2.178-9)

Previously, tribes would retaliate for a murder by murdering any other member of the offending tribe, which would in turn retaliate, starting a vicious cycle of vengeance.  At the time of Allah’s revelation to Muhammad, a blood feud had been running for centuries between two tribes that began with a member of one drinking from the other’s well.

 

Hating Females and Murdering Female Infants

“And when the female infant is asked:  for what sin was she killed?… …every soul will know what it has brought (of good and evil).” (Qur-an 81.8-9, 14)

When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief!

He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that which is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the dust? Now surely evil is what they judge. (Qur-an 16.58-9)

The Arabs used to dig a hole for the mother to deliver over.  If it was a girl, they would simply bury her in the hole.  This is the amount of shame and inferiority that was attached to females.  There is a narration in which a man once informed Prophet Muhammad that he buried his daughter alive after she was several years old.  It is also reported that a man once told the Prophet that he had buried eight of his daughters alive before Islam.

Today, Arab men publicly greet each other by kissing and hugging each other multiple times, and also hold hands when they walk.  Any display of affection towards a woman is generally forbidden.

 

Other Miscellaneous Refutations of Arab Culture and Customs

“And as such do the idols beautify for the idolaters the killing of their children, in order to lead them into their own destruction and confuse them in their religion.  And if Allah Had Willed, they would not have done so.  So leave them alone in their fabrications.

And they say:  “What is in the bellies of these cattle is for our males alone, and forbidden to our females, but if it is born dead, the all have shares therein.”  He Will Punish them for their attribution (of such evils to Himself).  Verily, He Is Wise, Knowing. (Qur-an 6.137, 139)

 

Arabs in Islamic Prophecy

The Khawarij- extremist rebels- were and will be Arabs

Jabir b. Abdullah reported that a person came to the Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) at Ja’rana on his way back from Hunain, and there was in the clothes of Bilal some silver. The Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) took a handful out of that and bestowed it upon the people. He (the person who had met the Prophet at Ja’rana) said to him: Muhammad, do justice. He (the Holy Prophet) said: Woe be upon thee, who would do justice if I do not do justice, and you would be very unfortunate and a loser if I do not do justice. Upon this Umar b. Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) said: Permit me to kill this hypocrite. Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: May there be protection of Allah! People would say that I kill my companions. This man and his companions would recite the Qur’an but it would not go beyond their throat, and they swerve from it just as the arrow goes through the prey.
[Sahih Muslim: Book 005, Number 2316]

In one narration the words are:

A person among the people then sought permission (from the Holy Prophet) for his murder. According to some, it was Khalid b. Walid who sought the permission. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam), said: From this very person’s posterity there would arise people who would recite the Qur’an, but it would not go beyond their throat; they would kill the followers of Islam and would spare the idol-worshippers. They would glance through the teachings of Islam so hurriedly just as the arrow passes through the pray. If I were to ever find them I would kill them like ‘Ad.
[Sahih Muslim: Book 005, Number 2318]

 

The Dajjaal* Will Resemble an Arab

*”Deceiving Anointed One”, False Messiah, Anti-Christ

No, By Allah, the Prophet did not tell that Jesus was of red complexion but said, “While I was asleep circumambulating the Ka’ba (in my dream), suddenly I saw a man of brown complexion and lank hair walking between two men, and water was dropping from his head. I asked, ‘Who is this?’ The people said, ‘He is the son of Mary.’ Then I looked behind and I saw a red-complexioned, fat, curly-haired man, blind in the right eye which looked like a bulging out grape. I asked, ‘Who is this?’ They replied, ‘He is Ad-Dajjal.’ (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 650)

In another narration:

The Prophet added, “The man he resembled most is Ibn Qatan, a man from the tribe of Khuza’a.” (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Number 242)

 

Great Trials and Tribulations Will Come From Arabia

The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said,

“O Allaah bestow your blessings on our Shaam [The Levant]. O Allaah bestow your blessings on our Yemen.”

The people said, “O Messenger of Allaah, and our Najd [Central Arabia or Iraq].”

I think the third time the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “There (in Najd) will occur earthquakes, trials and tribulations, and from their appears the Horn of Satan.”

(Reported in al-Bukhaaree [Book of Trials, Chpt. ‘The afflictions will come from the East’ 9/166 no. 214 Eng. Trans])

Narrated by Abu Huraira

Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established till the buttocks of the women of the tribe of Daus move while going round Dhi-al-Khalasa.” Dhi-al-Khalasa was the idol of the Daus tribe which they used to worship in the Pre Islamic Period of ignorance. (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Number 232)

Narrated by Abu Huraira

Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established till a man from Qahtan appears, driving the people with his stick.” (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Number 233)

Qahtan is a large tribe in the Arabian Peninsula.

Conclusion

arab intellect

“The Arab intellect turns easily to lies, delusions and burying facts, as an excercise to save its face (dignity). Thus, it never accepts defeat, neither it is apologetic.”

Salman al-Ouda is a respected Muslim scholar from the Arabian Peninsula. He is a member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars and on its Board of Trustees, and a director of the Arabic edition of the website Islam Today.  He and appears on a number of TV shows and authors newspaper articles.

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Bikini vs. Burqa: from my Facebook wall

Bikinis Make Men See Women as Objects, Scans Confirm

Sexy women in bikinis really do inspire some men to see them as objects, according to a new study of male behavior.

Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up.

Men were also more likely to associate images of sexualized women with first-person action verbs such as “I push, I grasp, I handle,” said lead researcher Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University.

And in a “shocking” finding, Fiske noted, some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another’s intentions.  (Read more here.)

bikini vs. burka
COLUMBIA ROOMMATE  The text is true but the picture is misguided. Women are nor forced to where bikinis in the US, whereas women are forced to cover their skin in certain Arabic countries. It’s a choice / human rights question.
FELLOW HIGH SCHOOL ALUM  And bikinis are awesome.
ACTIVIST  Women who wish to cover their faces are forced not to in certain ‘western’ countries. That’s an equally unfair restriction on personal freedom. The picture says everybody’s an idiot, which is pretty fair.
COLUMBIA ROOMMATE  Yeah, not in the US. I somehow doubt that al-Qãhırıï is making an anti-France point here.
ACTIVIST  That’s true, but he didn’t actually name the US so I’m looking at things in a more global sense since most of the world isn’t America. The point remains the same though – personal freedom does include the choice to be modest, and there are more countries than France restricting that now. It’s all childish anyway – how another human being dresses doesn’t change my life.
COLUMBIA ROOMMATE  I’m all for absolute freedom in how people dress. Including going naked.
ACTIVIST I’d like to limit being naked, mostly because a great majority of people are not people I’d want to see naked 🙂
RED CROSS  i feel sorry about you activist.
al-Qãhırıï  ‎@COLUMBIA ROOMMATE it’s complicated:  Sociology of Gender:  the Hijab
COLUMBIA ROOMMATE  Thanks for posting that paper, al-Qãhırıï. I agree that a snap judgment that women wear a hijab due to patriarchal oppression is not the most educated view. In fact, let’s say it is 100% incorrect and damaging.
If we agree on that point, I think it boils down to one’s view on the role of religion in a political state. If one believes that religion and state are inseparable, then the mandate to wear a hijab is practically consistent and appropriate – a law that encourages alignment with the religious text on which the government’s policies are based. Makes sense.
If one, on the other hand, believes that religion and state should be separated, then it is wrong to force a woman to wear a hijab.
Of course, things are never this simple. There are gray areas and questions much more difficult to answer, depending on one’s beliefs. For example, if one believes in a human being’s intrinsic right to free expression, then even a government based on religion, despite its innate drive to align law and faith, is alienating a right. It’s very structure, its very essence, alienates that right.
And then there are some purely theoretical angles to this question. For example, imagine Culture X which only allows its people to wear green hats. The people of Culture X only grow up wearing green hats and the idea of wearing any hat but a green one seems ridiculous, even alien. Now imagine Culture Y, which allows its people to wear any color hat. Certain colors may be more popular, but people grow up to pick the color they like best on their own. While a member of Culture X may not understand why anyone would want to wear a non-green hat, that same member may have potentially chosen a different color had he been born into Culture Y. This opens up another can of worms – whether the “purpose” of the individual should be the flexing of his individualism or the attempt to maintain harmony of the group.
I am not saying I believe or do not believe in any of these views. Just laying the groundwork for any kind of discussion that is to be had on this topic.
al-Qãhırıï  ‎@COLUMBIA ROOMMATE that’s an amazing comment!
Now here’s a pickle: I don’t believe that Islam and law are separable, meaning that Islam is the basis for what’s right, permissible, inadvisable and wrong in a Muslim’s life.
This is different than “church & state” in that there does not need to be an Islamic state for a Muslim to choose the Islamic legal framework.
NOW, whether or not there is a state, there is no legal basis for forcing a woman to cover herself. The wording of the Qur-an, as I showed in the paper you read, lists two reasons for covering: to be recognized and to not be molested. That’s usually said to mean to be recognized as a believer and to discourage unwanted advances.
There is no legal punishment for a woman to reveal her body in the shari’ah. There are numerous recorded instances when Muhammad saw a woman without her head or face covered and did not force her to cover them. These narrations are also a source of Islamic law. Since there is no legal precedent for punishing/enforcing the Islamic dress code, in my eyes this leaves the situation at the verse “There is no compulsion in the religion” (Qur-an 2.256). So if a woman is not a believer or doesn’t want to be recognized as one, and/or does not fear/mind advances, she is free.
So IF and, since we know, WHEN a government forces a woman to adopt the Islamic dress code, they have stepped beyond the bounds of their authority and onto her right of choice. You may as well know that the only government I know of which enforces the head-covering is Iran. I am in Saudi Arabia and I can see women with their heads and faces uncovered every day outside. There is a requirement to wear a cloak (abaya). I think this goes to your very relevant point about grey areas, in this instance the grey area between cultural norms and religious requirements. In Oman, for example, where the laws are much more lax, no one tells a woman what to wear, but she knows she would stick out like a sore thumb without long, loose clothing. It is a sort of peer pressure, and I believe this is the only valid way to expect people to change: by presenting so many examples that they either agree with or start to respect the point. No one should be forced to do what they don’t believe in, or prevented from doing what they believe, unless there is an established harm in it.
COLUMBIA ROOMMATE Awesome post. Thanks for writing it. I think we see eye to eye on this.
al-Qãhırıï  we been seein’ eye-to-eye a lot lately…
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Related Posts
Hijab (head), niqab (face), and jilbab (body)

Sociology of Gender: the Hijab

The following is a final exam paper I wrote on the practice of hijab (Islamic veil).  I was in a Sociology class called “Sociology of Gender” taught by Dr. Elizabeth Bernstein at Barnard College.  It presents the results of a survey I conducted at Columbia University that shows that non-Muslims and Westerners fail to understand this and other practices because they focus on forcing their assumptions on the situation rather than considering what Islam really means.  I got a B+…

_______

Daniel Nehemiah Oliver

Sociology of Gender Final Question 2

There is no god but ALLAH.  Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of ALLAH be upon him) is the Messenger of ALLAH.  Sincere belief in these statements makes one a Muslim.  They are the fundamental, guiding principles of Muslim life.  They, for instance, establish the Qur’an unquestionably as the word of ALLAH, brought to humanity by his Messenger.  Belief in ALLAH and His Messenger and the authority of the Qur’an figure importantly in the Muslim/Western

Dr. Homa Hoodfar

debate over veiling moreso than Hoodfar, in The Veil in their Minds and on their Heads*, realizes.  She rightly identifies the Qur’an as an influencing factor in Middle Eastern veiling practices, but her essay does not explore its implications.  Her argument is based mainly on historical and sociological sketches that illuminate truths about Middle Eastern society and Muslim culture, but by ignoring Islam as a faith, and failing to acknowledge Muslims as a distinct, diverse group, held together by and operating upon the dynamics of this faith, the discussion of veiling loses credibility and explanatory value.  This paper presents the findings of a study aimed at exploring and explaining this crucial and little understood aspect of veiling.

Palestinian Christians in headscarves

To this end, I selected a survey sample that could represent these unheard and ignored voices.  I picked 3 types of respondents, whom I coded as “Muslims”, “Muslimahs” and “Hijabis”.  The Muslims were two male Muslims, one born Muslim (Muslim B) and one revert to islam (Muslim R).  (Those who accept Islam from another faith are called reverts rather than converts, due to a belief that all things are born in, and some later corrupted from, fitrah, a natural state of submission to ALLAH.)  The Muslimahs were two Muslim women who do not veil;  one born Muslim (Muslimah B) and one revert (Muslimah R).  The Hijabis were two Muslim women who do veil, also known as wearing hijab;  one born Muslim (Hijabi B) and one revert (Hijabi R).  All six of these were affiliated with Columbia University or Barnard College either as undergraduates, graduate students, or staff.  Their ages ranged from 18-29, and their backgrounds and living experiences represent the diversity of the world’s Muslims to as great a degree as possible given the sample size.

Islam is the basis of a worldwide community united by belief in the Lordship of ALLAH and the messengership of Muhammad.  This community is diverse in every way that a community can be:  linguistically, culturally, economically,Hijab (head), niqab (face), and jilbab (body) geographically, economically, theologically, and so on.  Veiling and most other practices are not uniform.  These differences, however, are usually not based on belief, but on interpretation of belief.  Take the Qur’an, for example.  There are no versions.  The only variation lies in the rendering of Arabic terms different translators may choose.  So, in the original Árabic, every Muslim reads the same thing, but inevitably many individualized readings result.  Consider the following:

(With the Name of Allah, the Universally Merciful, the Discriminately Merciful)

And say to the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts, and not to show their ornaments except what is apparent, and two draw their veils over their bosoms and not to show their adornments except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women or what their right hands possess, or to their male servants who have no vigor, or children who are not yet aware of women’s private parts…

– Qur’an, Chapter 24 an-Nuur/“The Light”: 31

And

O Prophet, say to your wives, and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their outer garments over themselves.  As such it is likelier that they will be recognized and not molested.  ALLAH Is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.

– Qur’an, Chapter 33 al-Ahzab/“The Confederates”: 59

It must first be said that this paper is not gaging the accuracy of this translation from the original text.  In addition, the purpose of this paper is not to explain or interpret these verses.  These verses have been presented simply as evidence that the Qur’an contains mandates concerning the practicing of veiling or hijab.  (The word hijab means “screen or veil”, rather than, for example, for example, “headscarf” or “cloak”.  There are many words for Muslim womens’ outer garments, not all of which are found in Islamic literature.)  To Muslims, again, the words of the Qur’an are no less than the words of the One, True God.

All but one respondent, Muslimah B, agreed that hijab is legislated by the Qur’an.  In the words of Muslimah R, “It was prescribed in the Qur’an for women to cover themselves”.  Hijabi B simply answers “ALLAH Commanded it”.  These statements begin to answer one of the questions central to this study and the lager debate over veiling:  why do Muslim women veil themselves?

Hoodfar unduly emphasizes Arabian and Mediterranean traditions dating back to antiquity, but only presents the fact of veil-wearing:  its first recorded references, its changing role in societies over time, etc.  However, the reason for veiling is largely untouched in her essay.  Westerners and feminists have for some time defined their reasons for other women’s veiling customs:  patriarchy, notions of the harem, and extreme repression and domination by men.  This colonial method of assumption is prone to great misunderstandings because these “studies” of Muslims have mostly been unaccompanied by what makes them Muslim:  Islam.  This ignorance seemed apparent to Hoodfar at times, though she did fully address it or elude it.  It was not lost on Hijabi B, quoted here at length, who summarizes wonderfully how Muslims feel about the views of Westerners and academics whose conclusions about Muslims are formed without consideration of Islam.

Did you ever think to ask me?

“Responses to common misconceptions (even by [Columbia] professors teaching about Islam”  Hijab was not a left-over practice from pre-Islamic culture, it doesn’t mean our parents force us to marry our cousins, it’s not just a political statement, it doesn’t limit intellectual development…  it’s not a symbol of male domination, it doesn’t have to be black, it doesn’t make our heads that much warmer in the summer”

She finishes with a telling reflection:  “It can be some of those things, but often is not.”

Other respondents described hijab as:

– “the ultimate necessity for any woman (Muslim R)

– “unfair” (Hijabi R)

– “a chore” (Hijabi R)

– “a wonderful way to protect the modesty of a woman” (Muslimah R)

These are all things that wearing hijab or veiling can be, according to the respondents.  But in the end, they are largely the effects of hijab, not its causes.  For example it is doubtful that that Hijabi R, who feels that hijab is unfair, wears it because it’s unfair.

Regarding cause, interestingly, none of the stereotypical, Western/academic-assigned causes for veiling were quoted by the respondents.  Some were actually refuted, as in Hijabi B’s above quote.  Family pressure was mentioned once, but only as a discouragement against veiling.  All respondents were geographically and socially distant from the Middle East, negating it by default as a cultural explanation of the veiling practice.

To the Muslims of this survey, veiling has a meaning, and a power, that is lost on the minds of Western academia.  Just is in Hoodfar’s essay’s explanation of the veil carrying a sense of power, Hijabi R said that hijab was a way to “fight in the way of ALLAH’s Cause”.  To Muslimah R it was a statement of faith.  Muslimah B felt it “shows one’s inner strength”.  To these women, whether or not they chose to wear it, the hijab was a force, and a statement, as well as a shield and display of modesty.

Why has Western academia, with it sustained contact with Muslim population groups, failed to recognize the value of the practice of veiling?  It is not just because of the colonial/propagandist motivations that do too much to frame western discourse on Muslims.  The seemingly blind misunderstanding is one symptom of a larger problem:  willful ignorance of Islam and refusal to acknowledge faith.  One does not have to be a Muslim to study the practice of veiling, but how can studies of veiling ignore Islam when the practitioners list ALLAH, Islam and the Qur’an as the cause?  Western/non-Muslim perceptions, and to an extent Hoodfar’s essay, fail- refuse, in fact- to capture the reality of veiling as an extension of their refusal to acknowledge Islam.  Sympathizing Western feminists thus perpetuate the paternalism and repression that they suffer by re-inflicting it on Muslim women.  If Western men have historically treated women like objects, then that is all the less reason for them to do the same thing to Muslim women.  The feminist protest is against being treated like a docile, disenfranchised second class, yet feminism, out of ironic sympathy, approaches hundreds of millions across the globe as exactly that.  How can feminists insist on their voices being heard, when they drown the voices of Muslim women?  How can they, perhaps even more ironically, oppose being treated like sexual objects, while fighting for their right to look like one and belittling the women who refuse to?

Veiled Hindu women at a temple

This guise of objectivity is itself a veil, masking an academic and cultural arrogance that causes the scientific standards of Western academia to falter and the societies which it informs to suffer.  Some studies show American Muslims to live at a higher standard-of-living and education level than American non-Muslims.  The statistics of homicide and sexual violence in Western societies soar high above those of Muslim populations.  The tendency to criticize and patronize should be replaced with one to recognize.

The West, especially and perhaps because of its academics and feminists, succumbs to the subjectivity it is so wary of internally because it refuses to subjectively evaluate the meaning, or even acknowledge the statement that there is not deity besides ALLAH and Muhammad is His messenger.

* 1997. “The Veil in Their Minds and on Our Heads: The Persistence of Colonial Images of Muslim Women”, Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital, David Lloyd and Lisa Lowe (eds). Duke University Press, (reprint).

Changing Her Fate

I read article called “Changing her Fate” by Margaret Coker in the 6 May 2007 edition of the Austin-American Statesman,  ‘Insight’ section.  I do not have access to the Statesman’s archives, but I found the article here.  Read it.  It’s about a girl forced into prostitution and forced later to suffer for it, all of which is blamed on Islam, rather than the misguidance of a minority of individuals.

This is the response I wrote:

Dear Statesman,

I am very moved by “Changing her Fate” (Insight 6 May).  Sadr was spot on for saying “It’s a monopoly of power.  They have a mentality that’s very traditional.”  She’s right.

Islam, like America, has a constitution that has been subject by manipulation by the power-hungry.  Traditionally, worldwide, the culprits are male.

Unlike America, Islam’s constitution is constantly judged by the worst, never the best, of its constituents, rather than being evaluated on its own merit.

No one, for example, assuages that drug use is American- rife though it may be- because our written law makes the opposite clear.

So what are the true fundamentals, the valid traditions, of Islam?  Consider, for example, the authenticated saying of Prophet Muhammad that heaven is found at the feet of the mother.  What about the prophetic injunctions encouraging men to provide for, entertain, and strive to sexually satisfy their wives?

Are we now prepared to accuse Islam of being a medieval matriarchy?

What of this, that Allah Himself Said “And do not force your girls into prostitution, if they desire chastity, seeking the benefits of worldy life.  And whosoever forces them, then Allah Will Be, after their compulsion, Pardoning and Merciful.”  (Qur-an 24.33)?  Is this not sufficient to free Islam of all the oppression that women like Layla have suffered?  As for why men claiming to be Muslims perpetuate and punish unwilling prostitutes, ask them;  Islam is free of them.

So why don’t we stop accusing Islam altogether, and stop propping up every misguided man and political machination as a bona fide example and proof?  These war-mongering charades are made more transparent by the millions of converts to Islam worldwide, including many, many women from all walks of life.

P.S.  I challenge you to a test of journalistic subjectivity by printing my response to this article.

——-

The challenge was not accepted…

Taking charge of her fate…

The “Arab Spring”: Revolution or Awakening?

Last night (Day 4, 23 Shawwaal 1432 – Wednesday, 21 September 2011) I was a call-in guest on a show called Awakening.  The topic was “Islamic Awakening and the Arab Spring”.  It’s a program on a satellite channel called Sahar TV, a subsidiary of the IRIB network.  They sent me the questions a day earlier, and here are the responses I typed up in preparation for the show.  It’s just about what I ended up saying on the show.

——-

1 The World Bank and the G8 are already planning to sponsor the so-called Arab Spring. Less than a fortnight ago, G8 finance chiefs pledged $38-billion in financing to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan over 2011-13, widening a deal agreed in May and offering Libya the chance to partake too. Analysts are now concerned over a possible Euro-US containment of the regional movement through this type of “cheque book diplomacy”. What’s your take on that?

Worth the paper it's printed on?

What is money anyway?  A bunch of pieces of cotton paper?  A readout on a bankslip?   It’s a promise to pay and I can tell you about the G8’s ability to pay.  The UK has been bankrupt since a hundred years ago, and it’s owed money to the U.S. since WWII.  The US, in turn, owes money to China and Russia.  So how can these bankrupt countries lend money?  All their doing is tricking Muslim countries into promising to pay them money that isn’t even real, that they don’t even have to lend in the first place.

When they lend this money, they lend it at interest.  Allah says in Surah Baqara 279 that He and His Messenger are at war with people who devour usury.  This is because it enslaves the borrower to the debtor.  These Islamic populations have just freed themselves of West-serving leaders.  By indebting themselves to them, they would be re-enslaving themselves, and this is the goal of cheque-book diplomacy, to create a situation by which they can continue to dictate over us.

2 A large number of scholars have constantly been warning against the risk of the revolutions being hijacked or contained in one way or another. How concerned should we really be about that?

One common colonial trick is to make the village thief the village chief.  There will always be someone without scruples, with no goal beyond his own selfish interests.  Colonial powers usually find that person, support him with every means, such as money, glorification in the media and so forth until he rises from vagabond to ruler, from thief to chief.  Then, because the colonizers, not the people, are his true power base, he does their bidding to ensure their continued support.

This is how I see things being hijacked.  In the end, a politician only cares about one thing.  He doesn’t have a religion.  He doesn’t believe in any idea or purpose.  His only goal is to get and keep power, and he will do whatever it takes to do that.  They let the parade get going and then run out in front of it like they’ve been leading it the whole time.  Colonial powers are only waiting for that man, woman or group to show themselves and start the politicking.
3 I think it’s fair to say that the reaction of the West towards the wave of Islamic awakening in the countries affected has been quite selective. Let’s talk about the most recent case, i.e. Libya, where we saw military intervention. Do you think that NATO may follow the Libyan model of intervention elsewhere in the Arab World?

The West’s selection process is based on what they think serves them best.  They use language clevery to disguise their self-serving intent in the language of freedom, democracy, human rights, etc.  For example, there has been brutal repression by certain regimes, even invasions and occupations, but this is either completely ignored.  For example, the Bahraini royal family, which hosts the US 5th Fleet, is immune to criticism no matter what it does.  As for Qathafi, whose friendship with the West was less easy, but a friendship just the same, they wanted him out, and made sure he got out.  What’s the difference?  Why do they support Syrian protesters, and even go so far as to reveal their arrogance by mentioning that al-Asad is “expendable”?  Why don’t Bahrain protesters get any support?  The only consistent factor has nothing to do with rights or freedom or legitimate aspirations.  It has only to do with who they want, and who they don’t.  I would say that Western powers are willing and waiting to intervene in other countries.  They are going through no end of rhetorical gymnastics, political treachery and covert operations in the meantime to justify an attack on Iran, as we all know.  I would also say that Syria is another target.  They’d be more than happy to make it look like their helping the people like in Libya rather than a full invasion like Iraq, because it’s easier to justify and probably cheaper.  In these cases, the revolutionaries run the risk of being nothing more than volunteer soldiers in a Western invasion.

4 A serious problem in the countries affected by the wave of Islamic awakening is- as a matter of fact- the problem of a strong leadership leading the opposition in those countries. In fact, in several cases those working under previous dictatorial regimes are still ruling the country. Is there any solution to this problem?

Well, in the case of Libya, to my understanding, the transitional government has been planning and plotting for years while in exile in England, and there’s only one reason why that government would support them while they were doing that.  If I’m correct.  Otherwise, the greatest threat to these movements is the lack of leadership.  The Islamic revolution in Iran is unique because there was already an established figurehead, Ruhullah Khomenei, even though there were groups of many different stripes. He united them. 

Shocking the world...

Islam united them.  But look at the movements today, there is no one leader.  There is no spiritual leader uniting them.  The most basic elements of history’s greatest revolution are two:  negation of falsehood, and affirmation of truth.  With the words “laa ilaaha” we negate every falsehood, every impure motive, all the weaknesses in ourselves and communities.  The revolutions of today have thrown out corrupt rulers, but does this mean the people have achieved self-purification?  The leaders were corrupt, but we have to remember that a leader is of his people, he reflects their characteristics too.  The people need to revolt internalyl-, the inner, greater jihaad– against their own corruption.  And they can only achieve this, the life that is lived by truth with the second half of our testimony of faith:  illAllaah.  They must make the Qur-aan their constitutional document, and the shari’a– which literally means “path to salvation”- as their new legal framework.  For that a leader must arise with the knowledge and integrity to rule by Islaam, and the people must recognize and pledge allegiance to him.

'Ilm & Taqwa (Knowledge and Piety)

5 The question that everybody’s now asking is whether the unexpected, amazing and unique wave of Islamic awakening will shape, influence or rather change the future of the Arab world in particular and the whole world in general. Now has Islamic Awakening got the potential to dramatically change global equations, do you think?


Muslims got to open their eyes to the ground beneath their feet.  We have every imaginable resource from A to Z- untapped human potential, water, oil & natural gas, agriculture, precious metals and stones, varieties of landscapes, geo-strategic position.  Pakistan’s soldiers are arguably the best in the world.  Egypt and Syria alone could have defeated the Zionists in Palestine and completely checked other Western powers in the Middle East more than 30 years ago.  Look at how much Iran changed the equation from 1979 until now.  What if we all did the same?  Pakistan and Sudan alone could feed the world.  WE DO NOT NEED THE WEST.  WE DO NOT NEED SYSTEMS THAT DON’T EVEN WORK FOR THEM.  

ALLAAH HAS GIVEN US EVERYTHING.  When we realize it, and when the people who realize it insist on leading and refuse to be misled, we’re gonna unleash peace all over this planet.  But, there is only one condition.  Allaah Doesn’t

Change the condition of a people until they change the condition of their selves.

6 What’s the most important challenge that the Islamic Awakening in the Middle East and North Africa will have to face?

The Awakening part.  The people who we let lead us are obviously corrupt and naïve, but so are the people.  We have no idea how eager the Zionists are to control Libya’s vast water reserves.  That’s their whole M.O. in the Golan Heights, for example.  We’ve forgotten- though the Western polities haven’t- what happens when we think for ourselves, such as the 1973 Oil Embargo, the Iranian revolution.  We’re unaware of the lengths these fading, illegitimate powers will go through to make sure we do NOT regain autonomy.  Here’s an example:  they bombed the bomb the Islamic Courts

Refusing to be misled...

Union out of Somalia, even though they restored order, justice and peace to the extent that Mogadishu’s airport was running again, just because they were not indebted to and controlled by anyone.  They were of, by and for the Muslim Somali people.  They would rather tempt a country into civil war that leads to famine than allow Muslims to decide what to do with their uranium, their geographical position, and their coastal waters.  We need to wake up to this level of awareness, which will lead us to believe in Allaah’s Promises, rather than the unsubstantiated promises of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

EXTRA

1 How do you think the momentous events of last few months or the so-called Arab Spring will help shape the future of American relationship with its allies in the region?

The best possible outcome is that it is the foundation of a model- the Islamic society- which will provide the alternative to the Western lifestyle the world is starving for.  We did that before- our societies have inspired and uplifted the world- but that was long ago.  Instead of always quoting anecdotes from our great past to defend Islam, we need to present Islam in a real way as the hope for the future.

2 How successful and effective has the US policy been in the Middle East since the Arab Spring started?

It has been effective in some instances.  So far the regime in Egypt has only changed in name.  Whereas Mubarak was its face, now it has no face and is in that sense all the more deceptive.  In North Africa in general, with the exception of Libya, it has made sure the people think they get what they wanted by allowing the dictators to leave on a golden parachute, without any fundamental or meaningful changes.  There not less but more American military bases and operations in North Africa, for example.

On the other hand, they have lost their complete stranglehold on Muslim’s imaginations.  We know we can stand up to their strongmen.  We’ve reminded ourselves of a lesson we learned in 1979, that Allaah Supports the believers when they unite, wa Huwa l-Wahidu l-Qahhaar.  Politically, there are some instances of greater unity between Muslim governments, such as Palestine’s confidence in pushing for full recognition by the UN, greater ties between Egypt and Iran.  And it’s efforts to isolate the powers it doesn’t support have not been very successful, though the double treatment of Syria and Libya compared to Bahrain is a glaring exception.

Overall, revolution is not really a solution.  Heads of state have been changed, but that has been the only result so far.  We have yet to see if the lives of the people will improve, and right now they are actually worse in most cases.  It is an awakening and revival of our Islam that we need, not a revolution.  Revolution is only one vehicle towards this- not necessarily the best one- and we only get to the point of dealing with the external after we’ve dealt with the internal.  A Muslim has the duty and right to rule if he excels the people in knowledge and piety.  At the very least, he should not block the people from Islaam.  After that, it doesn’t matter about a vote, or what they think of him, or how the West evaluates him.  They should follow and advise him.  Lastly, we have the duty and right to rule ourselves by Islaam individually, and accomplishing that is the true Awakening, Revolution and Spring.

Duties and rights go hand in hand.

Is Muslim violence a proof against Islam?

This is a comment to an article about the role of Zionism in the Norway massacre.

 

Name any nation that is not at war…  you can’t.  Nearly every country in this world is in some sort of conflict.  No matter what religion the majority of their citizens claim.  Read the news:  Buddhist Thailand vs. Buddhist Cambodia, over a temple.  Civil wars and rebels all over the Christian nations of Africa.  The secular and Christian nations of the West occupying, attacking or aiding conflict all over the world.  Zionist Jews in Palestine.  Hindus committing atrocities in Kashmir and against Muslims and Christians in India.  It’s everywhere.  EVERY religion has members that are fighting, that kill innocent people, that commit murder and rape, that embezzle, scandal, scam, scheme and plot, rob, plunder and steal, commit adultery, abandon children, can’t read or write, molest children, bribe their way out of justice, etc., etc., etc….  And secularists, atheists, agnostics, and humanists get in on it too, so don’t blame religion

 

As you can see, a religion’s texts are a proof for or against its members.  They are not a proof for or against it.  You measure a religion by its book, and you measure its members by its book, too.  They either live up to it or fall short of it.

 

Let us look at an example.  It is true that many Christians were at the forefront of abolishing slavery worldwide (many were also the leaders of enslavement).  Should we judge Christianity by that?  According to some places in the Old Testament and Romans 13.1, opposing the laws that allowed slavery were AGAINST what they consider to be the word of God.  In other words, they had to step OUTSIDE Christianity to free slaves.

 

Islam’s Qur-an and Hadeeth (Prophetic narration) literature support abolition and forbid enslavement outside of the context of war-captives when there is no exchange for prisoners.  So while many Muslims were involved in the slave trade, they were stepping OUTSIDE of Islam to keep slaves.

 

Judge them by the book.

 

The United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence, celebrated symbols of freedom, enslave Africans, dispossess Native Americans, deny the rights of non-landowning white males, and deny the rights of all women.  So freedom, justice and equality can only be achieved by stepping OUTSIDE of America’s founding principles.

 

This is why we Muslims argue from our book.  That, not the action of the next Muslim you walk past, is Islam for us.  We only know the Qur-an as Islam.  We don’t know what every Muslim in the world is doing and why, but we will argue as strongly against a (seemingly) good deed as we will against a bad one if it is inconsistent with our law and doctrine.

Oh my God!! They're eating ice cream...

The truth is that Muslims also do a lot of good things, for the sake of Allah, in the name of Islam, to get a reward in heaven, etc.  Find them and what they do.  See, do they outnumber the wrongdoers?  I leave that as an open question to any sincere seeker of accurate information, I won’t answer it for you.

 

Personally- and this is admittedly subjective- I’ve been around the world and read and heard viewpoints from many walks of life.  I was in NYC on 11 September 2001 and accepted Islam there 3 years later.  Islam is my free choice because after research and experimentation, I found it to be the best and most complete way of life.  I won’t lecture you that I’m right, but I assure you that I’m aware and sincere.  See for yourself:  https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/11/

 

So please, do justice to yourself and stop ignoring all the wrongdoing and conflicts involving non-Muslims, and all the good done by Muslims, to prop up an argument that is an offense to intelligence, reason, history and logic.   Islam is singular in its establishment of justice and right.  Why do some Muslims act to the contrary?

 

Ask them.

 

For more on the accusations of rape, sexism/masochism and slavery in Islam:  https://qahiri.wordpress.com/category/stockholm-syndrome/

To see the deceptive and erroneous nature of Islamophobia and WikiIslam exposed:  https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/dealing-with-doubt/

To see whether Islam is incompatible with democracy:  https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/is-democracy-islamist/

To see if there is any difference between Arab culture and Islam:   https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/is-islam-arabian-part-i/

To read what Islam actually is:   https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/what-islam-is/

 

stockholm syndrome

 Excerpt of a letter from a friend:

“I have only read the Quran in English so the translation might be bad, but what i read says that a man can rape his wife and his slave girls who are unmarried and married. And since a husband can punish his wife for having sex with somebody else, this is really bad. Then there is also the fact that women is not found as mentally fit as a male when it comes to giving legal testimony. Not that the Bible is any better, I would say worse. The Quran doesn’t say beat your children and kill them if they are disrespectful, nor does it promote genocide and it promotes slavery more. And not that the west does a good job either. Its amazing in Canada, the % of political leaders that are slightly chubby, grey haired white men. And it was only recently that the age of consent for sex was raised from 13. And, raping your wife has only been a crime for about 20 or 30 years or so. However, still better than Saudi which has now had to ban maids from Indonesia the Philippines because they kept fighting back when being raped.”

Dear Friend,

Thank you for taking the time to write this.  I’m glad you trust me enough to be honest about thoughts that you probably assume I will not like.  It is useful and enjoyable to hear your impressions and views about Islam and the Qur-an, and I think I’ve learned a lot about what some people may think or feel.  I can see that you’ve taken pains to say what you know I won’t agree with in a way that does not insult me, and to show that this is a general criticism rather than a grudge against Islam.  I thank you for the respect and consideration you have shown, and most of all the honesty.

From what your message contains, either your translation of the Qur-an’s meanings was scandalously (and singly) inaccurate, or you have succumbed to that all-too-human phenomenon of memory fading with time, and being replaced with impressions of things we think we remember…

I have been blessed enough to have read the entire Qur-an in its original Arabic, along with the entire translation of its meanings.  Simply put, the Qur-an does NOT:

(a) say that a man can rape his wife,

(b) say that a man can rape slave-girls, married or unmarried,

(c) say that a husband can punish his wife for having sex with somebody else,

(d) say that women are not as mentally fit as males, or

(e) promote slavery.

It does touch on all of these subjects.  I am not a scholar, but I read and listen to the words of people who are known as scholars.  From that, my limited knowledge, I will do my best to address these and your other points.