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Discourses in the Intellectual Traditions, Political Situation, and Social Ethics of Muslim Life
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The Premonitions Of Prisoners

16 October, 2021 - 18:58

Before I could do or say anything, I found myself sat in a chair in the centre of a large room which had extremely bright ceiling lights that were fully powered on and white walls that seemed to go on forever. Police officers, who all wore uniforms and stood around me talking over one another, filled the room. I silently sat there trying to decipher what they were saying but to no avail. And then, I awoke from my sleep. I was home. It was all a dream…

Before leaving the house every morning, I would say goodbye to my mum and tell her what time I would return… In my uncertainty, before walking out of the lounge, I told my mum that I dreamt the police had come to the house to arrest me for terrorism. In her reassuringly motherly tone she told me not to worry. “Allah Maalik hai” she told me in her native Urdu — “Allah is the Master”.

Two weeks after having seen a disturbing premonition in his sleep, Dr. Rizwaan Sabir would be arrested by counter-terrorism police for possessing a terrorism publication alongside Hicham Yezza. Both men would go on to be released, eventually, but not before their lives had been torn apart. 

Dreams that have a premonition quality about them are not rare in the experience of prisoners. They often come soon (and on occasion a long while) before detention takes place, embedding themselves in the back of the brain, hibernating until the eventual moment when the initial anxiety they caused in sleep, would come into reality. One of the first instances of the premonition dream I encountered came in the book of my CAGE colleague Moazzam Begg, who started the prologue with a description of the scenes that he witnessed at Bagram Airbase in 2002, except, the scene he had described came from a dream from years before: 

The concertina wire is ingrained deepest in my memory. As we strolled meaninglessly around the enclosure, cameras surmounted with machine guns, and guards in military uniform followed our every move. The situation was hopeless – without a foreseeable end. The dismal monotony of daily existence was becoming unbearable. The uncertainty of the future compounded the atmosphere of apprehension and fear…

That was how I woke up, next to my wife. She was woken by the sounds of my sobbing and asked me in her gentlest voice why I was so upset. I told her about the nightmare. But it was 1995. It would be another seven years before I learned its true meaning.

While the imagery in Moazzam’s dream was viscerally close to his future reality, in other circumstances, the premonition has taken on motifs that are more metaphorical. The former Taliban Ambassador, Abdul Salam Zaeef, saw a dream in which his elder brother beheaded him. At the time he did not understand what the dream meant, not until a few days later when Pakistani authorities would surround his house in Islamabad, breaching the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by arresting a serving ambassador and handing him over to the US to be eventually detained at Guantanamo Bay. 

Of course, the dreamers have little notion of what meaning the dream will hold prior to its occurrence; so what is the value of such a dream in the absence of being able to ward off any harm? In this piece, I want to think about the role that dreams play for prisoners, and how important they are as a source of comfort and reassurance, but also in the way they provide a sense of control by God over their fate – their imprisonment is something that was shown as part of their destiny. 

Surah Yusuf in the Qur’an provides many layers of meaning to detainees, particularly so because it contains the story of a Prophet who is threatened with and is then subjected to unlawful imprisonment. I have had the privilege of interviewing hundreds of released prisoners across the world, and to a man or woman, they cite the relevance of Surah Yusuf as an uplifting story for them during their incarceration. While the Prophet Yusuf’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) words of, “prison is dearer to me than that which they call me,” are frequently quoted, I have also heard from many that it is the fulfillment of Yusuf’s miraculous dream that really became a source of support. Such a dream was of course sent to a Prophet, and so its miraculous nature might seem exceptional, but when it comes to premonitions, we have this statement of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

Nothing of the prophecy remains now except sound visions, which are bestowed on a righteous believer, and it constitutes one-thirtieth of prophecy.

For those detained, the premonition might not be limited to pre-detention, but can also occur during a period of detention too, raising the prospect of an outcome or potential future release. In one of the most recent accounts to be released by a released Guantanamo Bay detainee, Mansoor Adayfi recalls how the vision of a female lawyer that came to him in a dream signalled to him that his release would come through the hands of a female representative. After fourteen years of imprisonment, he not only received one but five different women who would all become crucial in bringing about his eventual release. Mansoor recalls how just the mere sight of the first woman, gave him confidence that his dream was true, and that his release would come before too long – which it did. 

During his imprisonment in the US, Dr. Sami Al-Arian experienced a similar dream during a period of intense isolation in an empty women’s wing of a prison that is usually supposed to house 70 people. This was a particularly difficult period for him as he was in conflict with his own lawyers over strategy in the case – leading to a great many arguments. In these circumstances, the dreams that were sent were not only a premonition but had the added value of providing advice on the way forward through his difficulty. His vision brought his guards to his cell at 3 am in order to check his diabetes. Dr. Sami describes how usually they would switch on the lights and he would see the medical cart they would bring, but instead, the lights remain off and all he sees is a man holding a huge rock in his hand, coming to crush Dr. Sami’s head:

Of course, you think this is reality and you are about to die. So you have one of two reactions that came to my mind, either I try and stand up and try and wrestle with that person and defend myself, or just accept my fate and pray, and then, whatever happens, happens. 

It was only three steps between me and that person. And during these times I remembered a very long du’a actually, but I don’t have time to say it, so I take a very small part it and I say “God is Great, God is Great, God is Great. I seek refuge from bad things to happen.” So this person is coming now and I see the footsteps and I feel the fear and I hear the breathing, and they are right there on top of my head about to crush my head with that rock and I continue my prayer when suddenly the breathing stops and suddenly I open my eyes and see the door is open and the lights are out. 

This is when I wake up and see exactly the same thing, but this time with the door shut. So I tried to make sense of what that meant, and I was guided to the fact that the message I was getting was, do not fight, just pray. From that moment on, I decided not to fight my lawyers, let them defend the case the way they see it, just pray. So I concentrated on just praying. Really, every day, and my wife, God bless her, she gave me a book of prayers that was very helpful as it has all kinds of prayers even if you are in prison. And I remember there was one special prayer that you need to say continuously without interruption, but to say it, it takes around 4.5 hours. I kept delaying it because I don’t have 4.5 hours where I’m not interrupted. In order to do it, I had to time it so that from 11 o’clock when the last guard came to the medical cart coming at 3:30am, these were the only 4.5 hours I had. I kept on delaying it and delaying it until my trial when I said to myself that I have to just do it. I finished it, and it was that prayer that promised freedom would come. 

Dr. Sami Al-Arian was not only given an indication that his freedom would come but was also sent the means by which he might achieve his freedom – in this circumstance, engaging himself in prayer while allowing those assisting him to play their role. Ultimately, Dr. Sami’s submission to the interpretation of the dream removed the barrier that had existed, allowing him the freedom to turn to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for assistance. 

Dreams of future events can come to those who are not righteous, such as the ones received by Fir’aun, but ultimately even those dreams are a way of assisting the believers in the end. A hadith in Muslim (4200), explains that truthful dreams are sent to those who are most sincere and righteous, those who are most truthful in speech. Thinking about this hadith, I’m struck by the ways in which all the prisoners mentioned above consistently refused to lie about themselves or to tell lies about others in order to gain some form of amelioration for their conditions or to try and secure release. Mansoor Adayfi’s book Don’t Forget Us Here has a particularly moving passage on being offered a new life in a western European country with money and a home if he gave evidence against a man he had never met. Mansoor’s refusal to base his freedom on harming another is a consistent among all the above men, signalling their strong ethics in relation to nor harming others. With often very little material help or resources in supporting them, the sending of dreams to indicate release is often a form of support. In a hadith of the Prophet (saws), he said: 

…Prophethood and its effects will be so far away in time, so the believers will be given some compensation in the form of dreams which will bring them some good news or will help them to be patient and steadfast in their faith. (Bukhari, 6499)

The consistency with which Muslim political prisoners receive dreams that help them make sense of future events is a phenomenon that the wider Muslim community should not take lightly. This form of communication from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to them is indicative of the position they hold and thus should remind us of the obligations that we have towards them. As the stories of these men testify, the plan of their detention and release was only ever with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), no matter what their captors had in mind. Where that leaves those of us who are free, is how we are viewed in relation to their plight, one that we should never take lightly. 

The post The Premonitions Of Prisoners appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Muslim Bookstagram Awards 2021

15 October, 2021 - 05:19

The Muslim Bookstagram Awards is an annual celebration of Muslim voices in publishing, from mainstream publishers, Islamic publishers, or authors who self-publish. Hosted by MuslimMatters.org and featuring a panel of well-known Muslimah reviewers from bookstagram, the MBRA takes in nominations from other readers before finally judging the entries and announcing the winners! Muslimmmatters is proud to host the Muslim Bookstagram Awards. Winners will be announced on MM.

What is Muslim Bookstagram?

Muslim Bookstagram is the unofficial name for the niche space on Instagram where Muslim book lovers reside! It is a vibrant community of readers, writers, librarians, bookstore owners, and all those who are bookishly inclined. Book reviews are shared, new and old publications highlighted, and deep discussions about publishing, representation, and storytelling are had. Muslim Bookstagram has become both an amazing space for valuable conversations and a resource for Muslim parents as well as anyone else interested in diverse, representative literature. 

Who are the judges of the MBA?

Amire is a Mechanical Drafter by trade and a reader by heart! Her meticulous nature helps her identify quality and assess books. Amire not only helps online viewers with selecting Islamic content but also curates books for her local masjid library. Her background in Islamic knowledge has made her an authentic resource for Muslim parents wanting authentic Islamic books. Follow her on @muslimkidsbooknook

Shifa Saltagi Safadi is the author of three books published by Ruqaya’s Bookshelf and an Islamic book reviewer. She has been an avid book reader as long as she can remember, and in fact graduated with a degree in English literature. She curates a monthly Islamic subscription box for kids called Bismillah Box Kids and is obsessed with Muslim toys and crafts! Find her Islamic reviews of books, products, and more on Instagram: @muslimmommyblog

Kirin Nabi is a former Islamic School Librarian who now hosts (often virtual) story times for the local Islamic school as well as for the larger Muslim community at the masjid. She runs an Islamic middle school book club, stewards two little free libraries, and blogs about children’s and YA books by Muslim authors or books containing Muslim characters at www.islamicschoollibrarian.com. Find her on instagram: @islamicschoollibrarian

Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women’s issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She also provides in-depth book reviews of Muslamic literature on her Instagram account, covering everything from YA and adult fiction, academic treatises, and Islamic religious literature. You can find her on Instagram (@bintyounus) and support her via Patreon (patreon.com/bintyounus)

Nominate Your Favourites!

Click here to nominate your favourite Muslim publication of 2021 for the Muslim Bookstagram Awards! 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1y-x4qUSzI5TA30I0taYfgh7amz5L90ccl_lboLGB_Hs/edit?ts=61551138 

Nominations will close on December 1, 2021, and winners will be announced on January 14, 2022! 

Support our sponsors!

Our sponsors are generously providing the prizes for this year’s Muslim Bookstagram Awards! A $50 USD gift card to our sponsors’ stores will be awarded to the winners of each category. 

MuslimMemories is a Muslim online gift shop based in the USA, selling everything from children’s books, Muslim-themed stationery and decor, Islamic educational toys, clothing, houseware, and more! Featuring international shipping, MuslimMemories has everything you need to create beautiful Muslim memories for your family. 

https://www.muslimmemories.com/  and Instagram: @muslim.memories

Happy Street Store is the premier curated shopping experience created for Muslims raising a family surrounded by Western culture. Happy Street believes in living a beautiful and fabulous life surrounded by Islamic values, by solving Western Muslim families’ “Islamic Exposure” problem with quality and beautiful products that help celebrate life’s day to day and special moments.

https://happystreet.co/ and Instagram:  @happystreet_store

Days of Eid is an American-Muslim family-owned business that was founded to fill the need for well designed, high quality Eid decorations for Muslim families. Days of Eid believes in the value of nurturing a home that inspires meaning in our children’s everyday lives, and connects them to who they are. For Days of Eid, the future is as bright as that first light as we continue empowering Muslims’ identities everywhere. 

https://daysofeid.com and Instagram: @daysofeid

Bismillah Box Kids is the first Muslim kid’s subscription box, curated by the expert in Islamic children’s products, Shifa Saltagi Safadi, and created by Sara Ajabri, CEO of Bismillah Box. Bismillah Box Kids provides busy parents with authentic Islamic products and books that they can trust will benefit their children. Each month will deliver a themed, age-appropriate box of Islamic products sure to inspire imagination and a love for iman.  

https://bismillah-box-kids.cratejoy.com/ and on Instagram: @bismillahboxkids

Deen Hubb is a boutique Islamic bookstore located in the USA, featuring books and items brought from Malaysia and Singapore. Featuring everything from stickers, enamel pins, and books to Islamic toys and educational materials, you’re bound to find plenty of goodies to get you excited!

https://www.deenhubb.com/ and on Instagram: @deenhubb

TC Creative Co. is a brand dedicated to helping you create memories with personalized gifts inspired by faith. TCCC offers you high quality, unique, and customized lifestyle products that are made with love and duas. With incredibly unique items such as Ramadan and Eid themed family pajamas, Muslim kitchen decor, wedding gifts, and fun accessories, you’ll be blown away by the creativity of the selections! 

https://www.tccreativeco.com/ and on Instagram: @tc.creative.co

Eastern Toybox is the brainchild of a former Montessori teacher, who understood the dire need for high-quality, culturally diverse educational toys for Muslim children. Eastern Toybox offers “Western Treasures, with an Eastern Twist” – a unique product line that appeals to the environmentally and socially conscious consumer, with eco-friendly and fairtrade items.

https://easterntoybox.ca/ and on Instagram: @easterntoybox

Jasmine & Marigold is a children’s clothing store with unique items that celebrate Eastern cultures! Their lush, delectably soft bamboo rompers, PJs, hats, blankets, and more will have your baby cooing in delight while you take hundreds of pictures of your adorable little one. 

https://jasmineandmarigold.com/ and on Instagram: @jasmineandmarigold

Crescent Moon Bookstore carefully curates books, toys, games, stationery, and home decor for every Muslim household! Crescent Moon was created for all of us wanting to make our homes and the world a better place. A portion of all proceeds goes to several different children’s charities around the world for humanitarian aid.

https://crescentmoonstore.com/ and on Instagram: @crescentmoonbookstore 

The post Muslim Bookstagram Awards 2021 appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Domestic Violence And The Muslim Community

13 October, 2021 - 03:25
What is Domestic Violence? 

Domestic violence is a pattern of ongoing hurtful, manipulative, or controlling activities, including physical, sexual, financial, religious, psychological, emotional, and verbal abuse. 

Domestic violence is a taboo subject with disastrous consequences in the Islamic community.  Domestic Violence is not a private matter.  This misunderstanding has not only been perpetuated within certain communities, but it is also widely misunderstood in the Muslim community. It is a crime and shouldn’t happen anywhere or to anyone and we have to talk about it.  As we may know, domestic violence is not specific to a particular religious group; there are one in six women who have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner in their lifetime.

While domestic violence exists in both Muslim and non-Muslim societies, the position of Islam on the kind treatment of women is very clear as mentioned in the Quran and exemplified through the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

A reflection of a Muslim’s good character is the treatment of his wife which is a reflection of his faith.  The Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) character exemplified how one should be good to his wife, how he should smile and not hurt her emotionally or physically, how he should remove anything that will harm her, how he should treat her gently, and be patient with her, how he should communicate effectively with her and also involve her in decision making and support her in times and difficult times.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructs men to be nice to their wives and to treat them well to the best of their ability. A Muslim who is devout should always remember that pleasing his wife is part of his faith and he will earn the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) while dealing with her unjustly will only earn God’s anger.

We as Muslims, need to continuously focus on the Islamic position regarding domestic violence which is drawn from the Quran.

The Quran clearly illustrates the relationship between spouses. The Quran says the relationship is based on tranquility, unconditional love, tenderness, protection, encouragement, peace, kindness, comfort, justice, and mercy.

Prophet, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), set direct examples of the idea of a marital relationship in his personal life. As there is no clearer prophetic saying about a husband’s responsibility toward his wife than the response that was given by the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) which stressed the importance of kindness toward women in his farewell pilgrimage. Abusive behavior towards a woman is forbidden due to the fact that it contradicts the objectives of Islam,  specifically the preservation of life and reason, and the Quranic injunctions of righteousness and kind treatment.

domestic violence,

The Prophet took several measures to end the abuse of women:
  1. He fought abusive behavior in word and deed:
  • The Prophet used his sermons repeatedly to order men to stop abusive behavior towards women.
  • He once called an emergency community meeting to address the issue of men beating their wives, as described above.
  • The Prophet forbade women’s sexual exploitation and harassment, as well as the stalking of women.
  • Women could seek justice and divorce against abusive husbands.
  • Instituted punishment by law for those who falsely accuse women.
  • He prohibited men from stopping their spouses from attending the mosque.
  1. He empowered women:
  • The Quran declared that women have rights similar to men.
  • He established women’s right to inheritance while declaring that they were not obligated to use their personal wealth to assist husbands in covering household expenses.
  • The Quran ordered that women be consulted in family and community affairs.
  • He instituted educational programs for women. Many women became teachers in his lifetime.
What Imams can do today?

Listen to the Community

As an imam, you are the listening post of the community. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you listening?
  • Are you accessible to women in your masjids?
  • Do women know the masjid’s phone number?
  • Do you have a set time available exclusively for women when they can talk to you and discuss issues of concern directly with you in a safe manner?
  1. Learn About the Problem – There are different types of abuse: physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and others. Know what types of abuse there are and familiarize yourself with their telltale signs.
  1. Be proactive about domestic violence – Domestic violence is not a private matter between a husband and a wife that should be ignored. Domestic violence can lead to the sister being murdered and the brother being put in jail.
  2. Understand that this is not a personal matter – Domestic violence is not a private matter between a husband and a wife that should be ignored.
  1. Approach domestic violence as you would any social problem – Provide solutions, not just threats of Hellfire to men who abuse.
  1. Know the services available – If your town has a Muslim-run battered women shelter, you are very blessed.

Please do the following:

  •  keep their contact information handy
  • *put their info in the Masjid, Islamic center, or community newsletter
  • *ask your board to support them financially
  • *help them raise funds for their shelter 

If you’re based in the Carolinas, Penny Appeal USA’s Baitul Hemayah Shelter offers:

  • 24-hour crisis hotline (704)763-1773
  • Counseling
  • Safety Planning
  • Referrals
  • Temporary food and housing
  • Employment Assistance and much more
  1.     Be able to assess a crisis and protection plans

Consult a Domestic Violence Counselor about knowing how to assess the level of crisis in a home and help women develop protection plans.  If your masjid is not familiar with this process, please reach out to your local Muslim-run Domestic Violence Shelter.

  1. Prepare your community for zero tolerance

 A Khutba or several sermons on this topic could be structured 

  1. Make Dua

Pray for our neighbors who are suffering from this problem of domestic violence. 

 There is help out there so don’t be afraid of looking for it.  Penny Appeal USA and its staff will listen and help you to decide upon the best course of action.  They will also provide some guidelines to assist you with your own safety, and that of your children.  Be on guard, too, even if you have left your abusive partner since you need to keep alert.

Sa’idah Sudan is the Domestic Violence Project Lead at the first Muslim-run domestic violence shelter by Penny Appeal USA, Charlotte, NC

The post Domestic Violence And The Muslim Community appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Age of Consent in Classical Islamic Law

14 September, 2021 - 12:00

In the name of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the Gracious, the Merciful

The age of consent to sexual relations is not firmly established in classical Islamic law like it is in many Muslim and non-Muslim countries today. The appropriate age of sexual relations was set in traditional pre-modern societies by either individual families or local custom, often linked to signs of physical puberty like menarche and pubic hair.1  The lack of consistency in this area of law is because societies throughout time and place widely vary in their circumstances, resources, concerns, and priorities.

There are many instances in history for which the age of consent and marriage is in apparent disagreement with modern norms and laws. The 12th century Decretum Gratiani, for instance, mandates consent at an undefined “age of discretion”2 and acknowledges that sexual relations and marriage might occur as early as seven years. 3 Some Christian sources state that Mary was to be given in marriage to the ninety year-old St. Joseph when she was only twelve or fourteen.4 As late as the mid-19th century, the United Kingdom’s Offences against the Person Act legally allowed sexual relations with twelve year-olds.5 Around the same time in the United States, each state determined its own criminal law with age of consent ranging from ten to twelve years of age. It is only at the beginning of the late 19th century, spurred on by the Industrial Revolution’s rapid economic growth and technological development, that attitudes shifted toward setting the age higher and higher. 6

Therefore, it should not be surprising that the development of classical Islamic law into centralized state systems followed a similar trajectory as other societies.

Why is this issue important today?

Sexual relations are religiously unlawful in Islam in the absence of a contract of marriage or concubinage. Concubinage disappeared when the Muslim world martialed Islamic legal arguments to abolish slavery, 7 so consent is now only relevant to marriage. The question of consent to marriage is important to the modern context from at least two perspectives:

First, there is an ongoing controversy in regards to the practice of child marriage in some places in the Muslim world. 8 Classical Islamic jurists generally allowed a marriage to be contracted with a child, but not consummated through sexual intercourse until the child gained puberty or was physically ready to do so. 9 While the classical law theoretically upheld the right of children to consent to their marriage upon reaching adulthood, external factors such as cultural and familial pressure can easily violate the spirit of these protections, if not the letter of the law itself. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) decreed that such a child must consent to the marriage before it can be consummated. 10 Therefore, forced marriages are out of the question altogether, but the question still remains of what norms related to younger marriages that Muslims are most appropriate for them to adopt locally at the state-level in each country.

Second, the age of consent is brought up in anti-Islam polemics to allegedly demonstrate the backwards and ‘evil’ nature of Islam. Modern norms, at least in the West, have placed a stigma on sexual relations between “adults” (usually 18 years and above) and “adolescents” (usually 17 years and below). Voluntary sexual intercourse with a post-pubescent minor who is younger than the legal age of consent is legally punished as “statutory rape.” Such boundaries are appropriate for highly developed modern societies, but the rule in most of the world throughout time was based on local customs for good reason. As such, polemicists will cite the rulings of some classical Islamic jurists who allowed, or appeared to allow, sexual relations with girls as young as nine, which they claim is evidence that Islam promotes child abuse or ‘grooming gangs.’ Attacks of this nature permeate the internet, anti-Islam literature, and some political discourse, despite being based entirely on misinformed historical anachronisms.

No consensus age in Islamic law

There is no consensus in Islamic law around the age of consent to marriage or sexual relations, for the same reasons there was no consensus in the West or elsewhere. The Hanafi jurist Zayn al-Dīn ibn Nujaym (d. 1563) writes:

[The scholars] differed as to the time when one could consummate with a young girl. It is said that it is not permissible to consummate with her as long as she has not reached puberty, it is said he may consummate with her when she reaches nine years, and it is said he may consummate with her if her body is large enough to handle intercourse, otherwise he may not. 11

Islamic laws related to human-human interaction (as opposed to human-divine interaction) tend to be governed by social custom rather than explicit statutes from divine revelation. 12Juristic and moral reasoning on the basis of general principles are often the determining factor in judging social customs to be right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. This flexible legal device was derived from the statement of the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) well-known companion ʿAbd Allāh ibn Masʿūd (d. 653), “Whatever the Muslims view as good is good to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and whatever they view as evil is evil to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).” 13

That is, a society of Muslims has been delegated some authority to regulate their own social customs. For this reason, it is a valid opinion in Islamic law for a fixed age of consent to be set, or for it to be set by natural signs like puberty or physical development. Today, the majority of Muslim countries have opted to set the age of consent between fourteen and eighteen, although Bahrain is an outlier with a minimum age of twenty-one. 14

Operative principle: no harm or returning harm

Regardless of one’s opinion on the age of consent, all classical jurists accepted in principle the illegality of causing harm to another person without a legitimate reason.15 The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had issued a decree, “Do not cause harm or return harm.” 16 The jurists explicitly applied this principle to sexual relationships. Yaḥyá ibn Sharaf al-Nawawī (d. 1277), representing the Shafi’i school, states this as a necessary condition when discussing the rights of wives to living and maintenance, “If it is possible to have intercourse with her without harming her, he may do that. If it is not possible for him to have intercourse with her except by harming her, he does not have permission to have intercourse with her.” 17 There is no valid interpretation of Islamic law, in any school of thought, that allows children to be abused in any way, sexually or otherwise. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “He is not one of us who is not merciful to our young.” 18

Looking ahead

Islam was revealed to be relevant to all peoples in every time and place. The twin legal principles of permitting social customs in general, restricted by the imperative not to cause harm, allow some flexibility for Muslim societies to place appropriate boundaries to sexual relations as they continue to develop. It is not a coherent Islamic legal argument to claim that because the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) married his youngest wife Aisha at age nine, that it is permissible or beneficial for Muslims to do so while they live in greatly different social circumstances. There are other considerations in the divine law that cannot be ignored. The issue of child marriage leading to abuse is of dire importance for Muslims to address and through consultation achieve some stable legal parameters appropriate to each region’s context.

At the same time, it is ignorant or disingenuous for anti-Islam polemicists to cite historical facts and classical juristic rulings out of context to vilify Islam and Muslims today. Many of these polemicists attempt to draw a straight line between these facts and the criminal behavior of some Muslims today, though no such direct connection exists in reality. The gross stereotypes born of this misinformation contribute to the ‘othering’ of Islam and Muslims, as well as unfair demands for collective responsibility or even hate crimes. 19 A wider contextual analysis of classical texts, as attempted in this article, in tandem with appreciating modern realities should demonstrate that any proposed connection between classical Islam and contemporary criminality is simply tenuous at best.

Success comes from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows best.

1    Paula S Fass, Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood: In History and Society (New York, N.Y: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004), 45. Available from Gale eBooks.2    John T. Noonan and Augustine Thompson, Marriage Canons from the Decretum of Gratian and the Decretals, Sext, Clementines and Extravagantes (n.p., 1993), C. 30 q. 2. http://legalhistorysources.com/Canon%20Law/MARRIAGELAW.htm3    Ibid., Decretals of Gregory IX, book four, C. 3.4    Charles G. Herbermann, “St. Joseph,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia: an International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church (Knights of Columbus Catholic Truth Committee, 1913). https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08504a.htm5    Matthew Waites, The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality, and Citizenship (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 63.6    Stephen Robertson, “Age of Consent Laws,” in Children and Youth in History, Item #230. https://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/items/show/2307    William G. Clarence-Smith, Islam and the Abolition of Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 19.8    See for example: Kasjim Salenda, “Abuse of Islamic Law and Child Marriage in South-Sulawesi Indonesia,” Al-Jami’ah: Journal of Islamic Studies. 54.1 (2016): 95-121.9    ‘Alī ibn Khalaf ibn Baṭṭāl, Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (al-Riyāḍ: Maktabat al-Rushd Nāshirūn, 2003), 7:127. Ibn Baṭṭāl (d. 1057) writes, “The scholars agreed that it is permissible for fathers to marry off their young daughters even if they are in the cradle, except it is not permissible for their husbands to consummate the marriage with them until they are prepared to safely have intercourse.”10    Muḥammad ibn Ismāʻīl al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (Bayrūt: Dār Ṭawq al-Najjāh, 2002), 9:21 #6946. The ḥadīth is recorded under the chapter heading, “The forced marriage is not permissible.” See also: https://sunnah.com/bukhari:694611    Zayn al-Dīn ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Nujaym, Al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq: Sharḥ Kanz al-Daqā’iq (Bayrūt: Dār al-Kitāb al-Islāmī, 1970), 3:128.12    Taqī al-Dīn ibn Taymīyah, Majmū’ al-Fatāwà (al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah: Majmaʻ al-Malik Fahd li-Ṭibāʻat al-Muṣḥaf al-Sharīf, 1995), 29:17. Ibn Taymīyah (d. 1328) askes, “As long as social customs are not affirmed to be prohibited, how can they be judged to be forbidden? … The default principle of customs is permission, such that none are disallowed but what is forbidden.” 13    Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal, Musnad al-Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (Bayrūt: Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 2001), 6:84 #3600. The chain of authorities is considered “fair” by Shu’ayb al-Arnā’ūṭ.14    

“Age Of Consent By Country 2021,” World Population Review. Accessed June 14, 2021.

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/age-of-consent-by-country

15     Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī, Al-Ashbāh wal-Naẓāʼir fī Qawā’id wa Furūʻ Fiqh al-Shāfiīyah (Bayrūt: Dar al-Kutub al-’Ilmiyah, 1990), 1:7-8.16    Ibn Mājah, Sunan Ibn Mājah (Bayrūt: Dār Iḥyā’ al-Turāth al-’Arabī, 1975), 2:784 #2340.17    Yaḥyá ibn Sharaf al-Nawawī and Taqī al-Dīn Subkī, Al-Majmū’ Sharḥ al-Muhadhab ([Bayrūt]: Dār al-Fikr, 1991), 16:409.18    Muḥammad ibn ʻĪsá al-Tirmidhī, Sunan al-Tirmidhī (Bayrūt: Dār al-Ġarb al-Islāmī, 1998), 3:386 #192119    Ella Cockbain and Waqas Tufail, “Failing victims, fuelling hate: challenging the harms of the ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ narrative,” Race & Class. 61.3 (2020):3-32. doi:10.1177/0306396819895727

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Suicide Prevention for Muslim Communities

10 September, 2021 - 17:25

By Rania Awaad, MD, Taimur Kouser, BA, Osama El-Gabalawy, MD, & Belal Zia, MA

Trigger Warning: This article discusses suicide, which some might find disturbing. If you or someone you know is having serious thoughts of suicide, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

“Whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity” [Qur’an 5:32]

Suicide is clearly forbidden in Islam, but that does not mean that Muslims do not have suicidal thoughts or do not die by suicide. Suicide is a complex phenomenon. Several factors relate to a person’s risk for suicide, including biological factors like genetic traits that increase a person’s susceptibility to mental health problems, psychological factors like feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, social factors like the type and quality of relationships that a person has with others, and spiritual factors like a person’s ethical or moral beliefs. Muslims, just like all other people, are influenced by these various biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors. For Muslims living in some Western countries, there may be additional and unique factors that also lead to the development of suicide risk such as Islamophobia, discrimination, and marginalization. In fact, our recent study in JAMA Psychiatry showed that U.S. Muslims were twice as likely to report attempting suicide sometime in their lives as compared to other faith and non-faith groups. However, suicide is 100% preventable. That is precisely why we believe this article on suicide prevention in Muslim communities is of utmost importance.

Among Muslims, just like members of other communities, there are people who have died by suicide and many others who struggle with thoughts of suicide. As a result, it is critical for Muslim communities to spring to action and implement measures to prevent suicides before they happen. Suicide prevention refers to the actions that individuals and communities can take to help prevent suicide. Suicide prevention is a long-term process, and it relies on communities prioritizing the discussion of mental health and seeking treatment when a person is in need. Although many suicide prevention strategies call for more mental health education, awareness events, and even the formation of community crisis response teams, there are impactful steps that each individual can take to combat mental health stigma and help prevent suicide in their own communities too.

The Qur’an and Hadith emphasize the sacredness that Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has bestowed upon each human life, as well as the mandate of preventing its loss. Indeed, the Qur’an says “And do not kill the soul which Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has made sacred” [Qur’an, 17:33] and that “whoever kills a person, it is as though they killed the whole of humankind; and whoever saves (a life), it is as though they saved the whole of humankind” [Qur’an, 5:32]. These verses underscore Islam’s forbiddance of suicide and highlight the sacredness of the human soul.  These verses also serve as a call-to-action to prevent suicide based on the same value that Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has placed on each human soul.

The Qur’an and Hadith also emphasize the reality and nature of trials in this world. For instance, the Qur’an says “We will test you with some fear, and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops—but give good news to those who patiently endure. Upon these are blessings and mercy from their Lord. These are the guided ones.” [Qur’an  2:155-157]. Hardship and difficulty are realities of this life that we are encouraged to face using the tools prescribed to us by Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), including patient perseverance (sabr), gratitude (shukr), and the support of our communities. The teachings in Islam convey a duty for suicide prevention that we all bear. In fact, fulfilling this responsibility to the best of our abilities is not only a responsibility that individuals can fulfill, but one that they should fulfill. In short, suicide prevention is a fard kifaya– a communal obligation on us all.

Here is a list of 6 Do’s and Do Nots for all Muslims to follow when building a suicide prevention program in their community:

  1. DO hold regular community social events and check in on others

One notable Hadith reads, “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself,” and another reads “No two people love each other for the sake of Allah, behind their backs, but that the most beloved of them to Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has the strongest love for their companion” [Bukhari & Muslim; al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 5424]. These Hadith underscore the importance of strong, interconnected, and empathic communities- the types of communities that are also essential for combating suicide. Community gatherings, especially those that are welcoming to all people, are great places for people to socialize, meet others, and work on addressing risk factors for suicide including loneliness and social isolation. Community gatherings help to promote belonging, which can go a long way in terms of reducing suicide risk. When at community programs, dinner parties, at the masjid, or at other public gatherings, try to make an effort to include others in your conversations or activities, especially those at the margins of the community. Invite people into your social group, listen to them, speak kindly, and if you are concerned about them, make sure to check in to see how they are really feeling.

  1. DO confront mental health stigma

Another notable Hadith reads, “Whoever relieves a Muslim of a burden from the burdens of the world, Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will relieve them of a burden from the burdens on the Day of Judgement. And whoever helps ease a difficulty in this world, Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will grant him ease from a difficulty in this world and in the Hereafter. And whoever covers (the faults of) a Muslim, Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will cover (their faults) for them in this world and the Hereafter. And Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is engaged in helping the worshipper as long as the worshipper is engaged in helping their brother” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1930, Book 27, Hadith 36]. Mental health stigma refers to the process of devaluing people with mental health problems, and it has real consequences for how mental health challenges are addressed in a community. Talking about mental health problems is still taboo in many Muslim communities. This means that people must endure the burden of a mental health challenge, and also endure the extra burden of doing so alone. People with mental health problems are often devalued and are considered weak, uninteresting, or even sinful by others in the community. People who face mental health stigma can have difficulties finding a job, a spouse, adequate housing, and belonging in a community. When people are unwilling to even talk about mental health, the stigma grows, making people who need help feel afraid to reach out because of fears that they will be labelled as crazy, weak, or bad Muslims.

When we recognize that mental health problems exist and are common, we can help to challenge the stigma. Moreover, we can fulfill the encouragement of Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to ease the burden of others. When people are willing to talk about mental health, then others will often feel more empowered to reach out for help or even admit that they need it in the first place. Combating mental health stigma is important for suicide prevention because it creates a path for people to find support when they need it. Mental illnesses are treatable, and normalizing conversations around mental illness allows those who are struggling to share, gain support, and seek help. Confronting stigma can be as easy as asking others how they are doing, creating a space where people are invited to share their struggles, or clearly identifying sources of support in your own community. This last point is especially important—by proactively identifying where to seek mental health treatment, it will be easier to reach out when you need it. Find mental health professionals around you who you can reach out to, or where you can refer your friends and family, in times of need.

  1. DO know the signs of suicide and seek Gatekeeper training

When a person is thinking of killing themselves, they may show several warning signs like withdrawing from their usual social circles or talking about not wanting to be a burden to others. Understanding the warning signs for suicide can help individuals recognize when someone in their community is considering killing themselves and can help ensure that the individual receives the support that they need. Proactively learning the warning signs of suicide is a way for the community to build its capacity to help people who are thinking of harming themselves in some way.

If possible, and especially if you are in a leadership or authority position (e.g., Imam, community leader, youth director, teacher, professor, parent, etc.), sign up for a Gatekeeper training program. Gatekeeper training programs are specially designed to help people learn the warning signs for suicide and intervene, when necessary, until professional help can arrive. The Suicide Prevention Resource Centre (SPRC) has compiled a list of available Gatekeeper training programs for different community groups. Additionally, Maristan.org has partnered with the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab to create a custom-tailored Muslim Community Suicide Response training. Communities in which people are trained to recognize suicide risk and respond appropriately are best equipped to prevent a suicide from happening.

  1. DO NOT look to one stakeholder to address mental health problems

As mentioned previously, suicide prevention is a fard kifaya—a communal obligation— and we each have a role to play. Suicide prevention requires long-term community commitment to mental health promotion. Because communities are made up of diverse stakeholders (such as Muslim religious leaders, youth directors, mental health professionals, social workers, families, individuals, and more), suicide prevention cannot be something that only one stakeholder addresses. For example, mental health professionals have clinical training in how to address mental health concerns, but their training is most helpful after a person comes in for treatment. Others, such as local Imams, may not have professional mental health training, but can leverage their knowledge of the Deen and general counseling skills to promote wellness and direct people to professional treatment-seeking. Similarly, community members occupy powerful roles in promoting mental health treatment. Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members and friends are usually the first points of contact when a person is struggling with mental health challenges. Lending a listening ear when it is needed and directing a loved one to appropriate support & resources—including mental health professionals—is a powerful way to reduce mental health challenges throughout the community. Mental health challenges are common, and they can happen to anyone. We all have a part to play in establishing mental health and wellness as a priority in our communities.

  1. DO NOT try to do everything yourself

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know” [Qur’an, 16:43].

Although everyone in the community plays a role in suicide prevention by adopting behaviors that promote better mental health and by creating different types of support systems for each other, it is important to recognize your limits. Mental health professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists are equipped to treat people who are having thoughts of killing themselves, whether that is during a crisis or not. Community members and leaders can, and should, play an active role in promoting mental health awareness, but within the limits of their capabilities. This does not mean that you should abandon a person who is at risk for suicide. Rather, individuals who are not trained in suicide intervention should make sure that a person with the appropriate mental health training can provide care for someone at risk for suicide, as soon as possible. This includes calling emergency responders right away if you are aware of someone planning suicide or attempting to take their own life. It is important to err on the side of caution — seek help if you are unsure what your next step should be.

  1. DO NOT put anyone on the spot or invade their privacy

Some of us may know people in our communities who have dealt with significant mental health challenges. While it is important to realize that people who have dealt with mental health challenges have unique perspectives to offer the community about mental illness or even thoughts of self-harm, it is imperative that these individuals are not singled out for suicide prevention programs. First, it is unfair to exclusively put the burden of mental health awareness on those who have struggled with their own mental health—prevention needs to be a community effort supported by all. Second, it is unacceptable to infringe on a person’s privacy—no one should be coerced into sharing their personal stories in public settings. Third, and perhaps most importantly, detailed discussions about personal motives and feelings toward self-harm and suicide are not appropriate for a community space. These types of discussion, though well-intentioned, can have the unintended consequence of transmitting self-harming behaviors, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts to other members of the community. Remember the goal is never to normalize self-harm or suicide, but to normalize the acts of sharing, reaching out for help, and supporting those who are struggling without judgement.

Conclusion

Suicide is preventable and mental health problems are treatable. Communities and individual community members have an important responsibility to make an active commitment to suicide prevention in their own communities. Successful long-term suicide prevention has much to do with individual capacity building and actively combating mental health stigma. When promoting mental health becomes an important and foundational part of a community’s environment, people are more likely to feel supported and will be more likely to have access to professional help when they need it. A kind word to a stranger or checking in on a friend who is struggling can have profound impact. Above all, remember that the Qur’an tells us, “Whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity” [5:32]. Working together to prevent suicide, we can all fulfill our joint Islamic responsibility of saving lives.

If you are interested in furthering your knowledge on suicide response in the Muslim community, the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab has developed a robust, evidence-based and Islamically-grounded suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention manual and training. It provides in-depth, step-by-step guidance for Muslim community and religious leaders that was developed in collaboration with Muslim leaders and suicide experts. The Stanford MMHIP Lab in collaboration with Maristan.org has developed a training and certification program for Muslims across the world to learn how to effectively prevent, intervene, and respond to suicides in their own communities. To learn more please follow us on social media @stanfordmmhip and @maristan_org and be sure to join the mailing list to receive downloadable resources such as khutbahs, speaking guides and training opportunities.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of self-harm, please call 911 or one of the following hotlines:

 

 

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Marking Four Years Of Rohingya Genocide: Khutbah On Rohingya Muslims 

26 August, 2021 - 07:36

 

ان الحمد  لله نحمده……..  


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ  

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. (4:135)


قُلْ أَمَرَ رَبِّي بِالْقِسْطِ  

Say, O Prophet that my Lord has ordered to do justice. (7:29)

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِٱلْبَيِّنَتِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الكتب والميزان لِيَقُومَ الناس بالقسط 

‘We sent aforetime our messengers with clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance, that men may stand forth in Justice.’ [57:25] 

واذا حكمتم بين الناس ان تحكموا بالعدل

And when you judge between people that you judge in fairness (4:58)

Justice to whom?

Justice to those who are wronged; who are discriminated against, whose voices are suppressed, and whose human rights are violated.

Who are oppressed and persecuted today?

It is the Muslim minorities who are being persecuted in Palestine, Burma, China, India, Kashmir and Sri Lanka. 

Islam is strongly opposed to all forms of injustice and takes all measures to ensure that justice prevails in every field but unfortunately Muslims themselves are the victims of injustice in most parts of the world today.

Who can play a momentous role in protecting Muslims from tyranny, torture, and genocide? Undeniably, the Muslims living in the West especially in the US and Canada can play their most effective role in providing justice, and striking substantial economic embargoes over despotic governments and pulling back the hands of tyrants from oppression.

Because of the upcoming 4th anniversary of their genocide, today the focus of the khutbah will be the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar/ Burma. 

  • The Rohingya are one of the many ethnic minorities in the country of Burma, also known as Myanmar. Rohingya Muslims represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar, with the majority living in Rakhine state.
  • Rohingya have their own language and culture and they say that they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.
  • But for decades the government of Burma denied the Rohingya citizenship rights and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognize them as a people of Burma. The government considers the Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • Especially since 2012, the military-led authorities have promoted laws that isolate the Rohingya, who do not even have freedom of movement in their own country, and therefore lack access to school or jobs or healthcare.
  • Since the 1970s, Rohingya refugees have fled oppression to Malaysia, India, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia in significant numbers. Estimates of their numbers are often much higher than official figures.
  • In the last few years, before the latest crisis, thousands of Rohingya made risky journeys out of Burma to escape communal violence or alleged abuses by the security forces.
  • Unfortunately in many host nations Rohingya refugees lack basic rights as well and are not even recognized as refugees.
  • Are they not refugees? Why did Rohingya Muslims leave their homes? Rohingyas arriving in Bangladesh report they fled after Burmese troops, backed by local Buddhist mobs, responded by burning their villages and attacking and killing civilians.
  • At least 350 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine state soon after August 2017, according to analysis of satellite imagery by Human Rights Watch.
  • At least 7,700 Rohingya, including at least 730 children under the age of five, were killed in the month after the violence broke out.
  • Amnesty International and other similar groups have found that the Myanmar military also raped and abused Rohingya many thousands of women and girls, up to 55 percent of survivors report this treatment.
  • A report published by UN investigators in August 2018 accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with “genocidal intent”.
  • The International Court of Justice of the UN has listened to the case, lodged by the small Muslim-majority nation of The Gambia, in West Africa, on behalf of dozens of other Muslim members nations of the OIC, and the court called for emergency measures to be taken against the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw, until a fuller investigation could be launched. The court and other UN mechanisms have been investigating.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi avoided saying the word “Rohingya” and rejected allegations of genocide when she appeared at the court in December 2019. At that time she was in a power-sharing relationship with the genocidal military. Now she is locked up again by that same military.
  • The Burmese military is an extremist group that has been largely in control of the government since 1962. Their recent coup in February 2021 overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.  For the last decade, they have allied themselves with extreme Buddhist nationalists who have been targeting Rohingya Muslims. However, the 50 million people of Burma are beginning to wake up to Rohingya suffering and also strongly oppose the coup.
  • China, India and Russia have been supplying arms to the Burmese military and blocking strong action in the UN.
  • Though the door to return is closed for Rohingya right now, there are some new possibilities in building resistance to Burmese military forces especially in alliance with christian minorities and democracy activists.


REVIEW OF FACTS

  1. The United Nations has called the Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine State in western Burma the “most persecuted people in the world.” 
  2. The total number of Rohingya displaced by the genocide remaining in Rakhine State is unknown, but over 1.5 million Rohingya refugees have been scattered across South- and Southeast Asia, making the perilous, often fatal journey by land and sea to find some basic measure of security in their lives. Their children lack educational opportunities, often restricted by local governments. 
  3. Over 1 million Rohingya are displaced into Bangladesh camps alone, including 340,000 children living in squalid, refugee camp conditions. Some 600,000 of that number reside in the massive, sprawling Kutupalong refugee camp in eastern Bangladesh. They are at risk for COVID 19 infection. But also, the government of Bangladesh has restricted education to children and even for most of last year cut off internet and mobile phone access.
  4. The lack of rights for Rohingya children is a global problem. Even in Saudi Arabia Rohingya children are not given equal access to education, even though the royal family invited Rohingya to live there during an earlier persecution. 
  5. Responsibilities as a Muslim:

As conscious Muslims, we must firmly stand with Rohingya Muslims to get justice from oppressors. The hadith of the prophet SAW explains that the parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever (Sahih al-Bukhārī and Sahih Muslim)

  1. Muslims living in the West and especially those privileged Muslims who live in the US and Canada are obliged to play their effective role for the support of Rohingya brothers and sisters. American Muslims have made a great struggle to stop genocide of the Bosnian Muslims, and we have successfully lobbied to get 800 million dollars for the rehabilitation of Burmese Muslims in Bangladesh. American Muslims have played an important role to impose embargos on Chinese merchandise manufactured by Uighur forced labor. 
  2. There are not many Rohingya refugees in the USA, about 5,000 but they have their active leadership and their institutions, especially in Chicago, Milwaukee, Upstate New York and parts of Indiana. The lack of formal education means that many of these hard working refugees are working in low wage jobs. How can we help their children to rise and prosper in the USA and Canada? To help Rohingya help themselves please reach out to Rohingya groups, including the Rohingya Cultural Center of Chicago.

 

Action Items: 
  1. Like with the Palestinians and the Uyghur, we Muslims must have a comprehensive knowledge of the Rohingya oppression to share with individuals and communities.
  2. Share information about Rohingya Muslims through social media and print media. Please look at the Burma Task Force website as a reliable resource both for information and for action steps. For example:
  3. Please ask President Biden to simply pick up the phone and call the French President Macron, asking for more pressure on the oil and gas companies (like Chevron and Total oil) that continue to pay millions to the Burmese military. Contact White House: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
  4. Finally, please donate to help the humanitarian needs of Rohingya. However remember that we also need to address the root causes of this disaster. Muslim groups like Burma Task Force and non Muslim groups like Human Rights Watch push governments to stop oppression and genocide. It’s not easy.

Let’s make dua for our Rohingya Muslims.

اللهم انصر اخواننا المستضعفين في بورما O Allah help and support our weaker brothers in Burma

،اللهم انا نجعلك في نحورهم ونعوذ بك من شرورهم O Allah we request you to controll the cruel oppressors of Rohingyas and we seek your protection from them.

اللهم انصر عبادك المومنين المستضعفين في كل مكان،اللهم انصرهم في بورما

اللهم كن لهم ناصرا ومعينا وحافظا ٥  O Allah our prayers for the Rohingya Muslims is full of hope , O Allah bring permanent and honorable solution to their problem.

O Allah our hearts go out for the innocent hildren and women who have been butchered by their enemies 

O Allah take mercy on those displaced Rohingya brothers and sisters who are forced to live in filthy, muddy, musty and moldy refugee camps in different parts of the world. 

O Allah give them dignity and honor because they believe in your oneness and in the prophethood of our beloved messenger SAW.

O Allah forgive all those innocent Rohingyas who have been killed, burnt to death or tortured because of being Muslims.

O Allah give them Sabre Jameel to those parents whose children have been killed and maimed.

Ameen!!

-contributed by Imam Abdul Jabbar

The post Marking Four Years Of Rohingya Genocide: Khutbah On Rohingya Muslims  appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Ashura: The Victory of Musa And Victory of Husain

18 August, 2021 - 17:16

The month of Muharram has already begun, and ‘Ashura is upon us. Unfortunately, it feels as though each year, we grow more and more distant from the true importance of the month of Muharram and of its tenth day. With each passing year, we see more “Happy Islamic New Year!” announcements and “Every day is ‘Ashura, every day is Karbala!” slogans – pointing to a deeply problematic understanding of what exactly Muharram and ‘Ashura signify. 

It is Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Who created the months of the year, and it is He alone Who chooses which of those months are sacred and which of those days are meant to be days of celebration and commemoration. In the Sunnah of RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), we have ample evidence of specific examples: the month of Ramadan, the last ten nights of Ramadan, the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah (including the day of ‘Arafah and the day of Nahr), and so on.

Muharram is one of those months, and is indeed the first of the Sacred Months of the Islamic calendar. Yet never did RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) or his Companions take the first day of the ‘Islamic new year’ as something to commemorate or make special note of. Rather, it is the day of ‘Ashura – the 10th of Muharram – that is marked as being of significant importance in Islam. (In short: “Happy Islamic New Year” is not a Sunnah. Everyone needs to chill with inventing new bid’ah every year.)

As for ‘Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, it is a day that was specifically mentioned by RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as being a day to be remembered.

When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) arrived in Medina, the Jews were observing the fast on ‘Ashura (10th of Muharram) and they said,

“This is the day when Musa became victorious over Pharaoh,” On that, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to his Companions, “You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses’ victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.” [Bukhari]

He also informed the Sahabah: “Fast the Day of ‘Ashura, for indeed I anticipate that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will forgive (the sins of) the year before it.” [Tirmidhi]

Umm al-Mu’mineen Hafsah bint ‘Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said: “There are four things which the Prophet never gave up: Fasting ‘Ashura’, (fasting during) the ten days, (fasting) three days of each month, and praying two Rak’ahs before Al-Ghadah (Fajr).” [Nasa’i]

For this day to be singled out by the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) shows that there was something truly unique about it. At the time of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Bani Isra’eel – the believers of that time – had suffered generations of oppression and injustice at the hands of one of the most genocidal tyrants of all time, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Bani Isra’eel had been enslaved and used for the most painful and backbreaking of labour; Fir’awn had their menfolk killed, leaving the women alive to be raped and tormented. Worse still, while Bani Isra’eel struggled in the depths of their torturous enslavement to worship Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone, Fir’awn declared himself to be God, commanding all those around him to worship him. It was a devastating time of darkness, of oppression that had perhaps never been matched at such a scale before. The coming of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) as a Prophet to Bani Isra’eel heralded a new era: an era where tawheed would once again fill the hearts of people, an era where the vicious regime of Fir’awn would be eradicated, an era where the believers would be powerful once again. The day of Fir’awn’s destruction, as the Red Sea split for Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Bani Israel and opened their way to freedom, was a day where Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Promise was most visibly evident: 

{…Truth has come, and falsehood has been extinguished. Indeed, falsehood is ever bound to vanish!} [Qur’an 17:81]

It is for this reason alone that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded us to fast the day of ‘Ashura: as a celebration of the believers’ victory over Fir’awn, and as an opportunity for the expiation of sins. It is not, and never was, commemorated as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husain ibn ‘Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). Indeed, to claim ‘Ashurah, or the month of Muharram, as a time of grief and of performing rituals to commemorate that undoubtedly tragic event, is a blatant rejection of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). ‘Ashura remains for us a powerful day of reminder: that victory will only come to those who believe in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), to those who struggle for His Cause, to those who obey Him fully, and to those who seek repentance for their own shortcomings. Then, and only then, will we experience the blessings of a victory like that of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) against Fir’awn. 

Even as it is absolutely necessary for us to understand that the act of ‘ibadah specified for ‘Ashura was with regards to Musa’s triumph over Fir’awn, it is also important for us to be aware of the later events of our Islamic history that took place on this day. 

 The story of Hussain ibn Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) is not one that belongs to only a certain group of people; it belongs to the Ummah as a whole, and in particular, those who profess to be of Ahlus Sunnah wa’l Jamaa’ah – those who must, by necessity, love RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his Ahlul Bayt. It is extremely unfortunate that many of us have not been taught to understand the story of Husain raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and his death in a contextualized manner; for either there is a tendency to shy away from speaking about the story of Hussain raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) out of fear of being associated with the Shi’a and the many bid’ah that have arisen related to the incident, or there is an exaggeration over what happened, those involved, and how we as Muslims speak of the tragic story. 

As Muslims, we have an obligation to be honest to our history, to be true to it, and to learn from it – for verily, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is al-Qaadir, the One Who decrees events to take place, and it is we who must understand the ayaat (signs) that He has placed in those moments.

The story of Hussain is not one that is in opposition to the story of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), but in fact confirms it, and confirms the spirit of ‘Ashura. That spirit is one of struggle against falsehood, oppression, and injustice; and of victory.

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) stood against Fir’awn; as a humble Prophet with a community of former slaves facing the most powerful ruler of the time and his vast army of brutal soldiers.

Husain ibn Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) stood against Yazeed ibn Mu’awiyah; the grandson of the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his family members, facing the ruler of the Islamic empire at the time, and his vast army of soldiers loyal to his cause.

Neither Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) nor Husain raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) were military leaders, nor did they set out with military intentions. Their only intention was to speak truth to power; to stand against the oppression of the innocent, and to remind those in authority of the One with true power overall.

Whereas Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was given a clear victory against his enemy, little do we realize that Husain raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was also given a victory of his own. Though he may have perished, though his family was captured, and though it was perceived that the political influence of Ahlul Bayt was destroyed, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) brought about an even greater victory through all of that: recognition for the rest of the Ummah, and for hundreds of years to come, that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) returns to Himself those whom He loves. Husain raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) died as a shaheed for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and he remains a symbol of courage, determination, and justice to us all.

In a time when we are seeing Muslims across the world being destroyed almost effortlessly, the tragedy of Hussain ibn ‘Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and his family members being massacred and captured is a story which we must remind ourselves of… not that we lose hope, but that we hold strong to it.

{And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, “They are dead.” Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not.} [Qur’an 2:154]

Injustice and oppression may seem to be powerful today, just as they seemed to be powerful when Husain raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was killed, but Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone is the Most Powerful. Victory in the sight of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does not always mean that the enemies of Islam are immediately destroyed with a miracle, but that their destruction in the Hereafter will be eternal and all the more painful.

Ultimately, the day of ‘Ashura is a lesson to us all – not to mourn, but to rejoice over the ultimate victory of truth over falsehood, just as Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was given victory over the tyranny and falsehood of Fir’awn.

The post Ashura: The Victory of Musa And Victory of Husain appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Afghanistan: Discussing the Crisis And Solutions

16 August, 2021 - 16:53

Centering Afghan Voices

What has happened in Afghanistan? Who are the role players in the development of the current situation and what is happening now.

On the ground realities, and prospects for the future in terms of solutions.

Panelists: Shaykh Hasib Noor, Prof Haroun Rahimi, Spozhmai S. Stanakzai, and Muslimmatters EIC Hena Zuberi

The post Afghanistan: Discussing the Crisis And Solutions appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

My Photo Was On Sulli Deals: Anti Muslim Bigotry and Misogyny in BJP’s India

6 August, 2021 - 18:01

I am a Kashmiri Muslim woman and I am not sharing my name or photo as they have been shared thousands of times along with photos of a hundred other Muslim women on an app using GitHub – by the name of ‘Sulli Deals’. By stealing my information and posting about me as a deal of the day, sending rape threats to victims, they thought they could silence me. 

According to 2018 UN reports “Violence against women is used as a strategy of Conflict”. Women trapped in conflict often become the soft targets for the domineering class. The attribute and the battleground of war have altered. During the First World War, 80-90 percent of the victims were from the military, whereas according to the common statistics, 90 percent of the victims of today’s conflict are civilians. Most of the time, women usually don’t initiate the wars, however, they do endure heavily from the ramifications that follow the war. Conflict catalysts much higher rates of sexual violence.

The repercussions of the war result in the extreme vulnerability of women to poverty, the loss of jobs, and the destruction of any kind of aid or help, which are quite evident in Dalit women and women in Kashmir and now in Indian Muslim women.

Physical, sexual, and psychological violence that is being inflicted on women in the conflicted zones is often overlooked by the state. The generic surge in violence and the debacle of law and order intensifies the brutality against women. In addition, during the conflict, the perception of masculinity repeatedly engages with contentious and misogynist attitudes, through which women and their bodies are seen as territory to be conquered and possessed to escalate the oppressed men’s humiliation or to reward the men in power. The bestiality against women that takes place in the time of the conflict has horrific characteristics that demarcate it from violence in unhostile population in peacetime.

From the side-effect of war to be the most lethal and common weapon, rape is being used as one of the most essential instruments in the conflicted regions. It’s used as a blueprint to break down the whole population of the subjugated. Rape is operated as a gambit to force people to flee their homes and lands; to cripple resistance to aggression by building an atmosphere of fear, dismantling the morality and honour of the subjugated population. Rape as a weapon of war has been globally condemned, and UN Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution placing rape, for the first time, distinctly within the structure of war crimes trauma of wartime rape, both physical and psychological, does not stop with the termination of the conflict. Since past decades till date, sexual violence continues to be employed as a tactic of war, with widespread and strategic rapes, including mass rapes, mostly in association with other crimes such as assassination, burglarize, forced displacement, pillage, and arbitrary detention. Often the fault lines resulting in the conflict are blurred out due to the strategic nature of violence. Patterns of sexual violence have also been seen in the context of both rural and urban warfare, during house searches, operations in residential areas, and at checkpoints.

Since the idea of democratic India has been throttled by the current authoritarian regime, the government and its system have waged a war against its minorities and the violence against them has escalated in its severity. And Muslims, the largest minority in India, is the first line victims of the authoritarian regime, where Muslims are both dispossessed and disempowered. From daily harassment of Muslims to lynching to demolishing of mosques, Muslims in India are being inflicted with severe trauma, for living in this country and are on the verge of being rendered as second-class citizens. However, in the larger context, keeping in mind the misogynistic environment of the country, Muslim women are most vulnerable to the repercussions of this power.

Watch: What Inspired The Sulli Deal App for Muslim Women Auction

From facing threats to abuses by the men in power on the ground to now being auctioned off online by the Right Wing Hindu men on GitHub, with a site named “Sulli deals” (Sulli is a slang word used for Muslims), Muslim women are facing the most heinous form of persecution, with little or almost no justice from the system that in turn bestows impunity to the culprits under the garb of religion.

From the women victims in the Gujrat program in 2002 to the victims of the Delhi riots in 2020, the violence against women was identity-based. Their identity of being Muslims is what led the culprits to perpetrate the crimes against them, i.e, from rapes to physical torture.

Islamophobia mixed with misogyny is a lethal weapon that has almost been certified in India, which is used to violate the sanctity and dignity of Muslim women of this country.

Islamophobia mixed with misogyny is a lethal weapon that has almost been certified in this country, which is used to violate the sanctity and dignity of Muslim women of this country.Click To Tweet

And if you are a vocal Muslim woman, your existence itself is seen as a threat to the power structure of the government.

Being a Kashmir Muslim Woman, an active social media user, I propagate and speak against the violence of the Indian government in Kashmir, it becomes inevitable to escape the daily trolls on Twitter. However, finding my picture on the app created specifically to auction Muslim women is both dehumanising and frightful. The thought of my pictures being circulated among various Right-Wing Hindu groups sends shivers down my spine. As mentioned before, it’s not an isolated incident of misogyny but a very explicit case of Islamophobia, and this act was drafted to humiliate both Muslim women and men. More than 100 women, who are vocal and expose the oppression of the current regime on Muslims in this country and who also further question the systematic corruption of the government towards the minorities were the prime targets.

However, despite filling various FIR’s, and opposition leaders vehemently expressing their condemnation and demanding the arrest of the culprits, no action has been taken by the government, which further makes it clear, that any culprit or any violence committed against Muslims (both men and women) by the majority of this country calls for no action, rather each incident is white-washed and forgotten.

A month before this incident, a Youtube channel by the name “Liberal Doge” ran a live stream on the evening of Eid-ul-Fitr, where it screened the pictures of Pakistani and Indian women (that were updated on Twitter on the occasion of Eid) and passed profane comments which were further joined by over more than a thousand Hindu men participating in passing vile and obnoxious comments on Pakistani women. However, the channel was widely reported but no legal action was taken against it. Emboldened, the perpetrator boasted with audacity about his actions and how victims failed to seek any punishment.

These incidents cannot be viewed in isolation or dispossessed off as “minor” incidents. Such incidents are well-drafted to attack and vilify Muslims in India backed by the system and the lack of punishment from the emboldens it further.

If it continues the same way, the day is not far when a Muslim woman will be violated openly on the roads of India by such men with most of the majority community watching it in silence.

[Ed. Note] I urge Muslims to share her story, to amplify her voice. Some segments of our community want their sisters to stop speaking, but isn’t that exactly want they want.

The post My Photo Was On Sulli Deals: Anti Muslim Bigotry and Misogyny in BJP’s India appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

My Miscarriage And Healing Afterwards

26 July, 2021 - 14:54

Trigger warning: miscarriage

I felt it as I hobbled nearly doubled-over towards the car on our way to the ER. The pain that surged through my body didn’t allow me to process what I knew had just happened.

“Don’t freak out if you don’t hear a heartbeat,” the RN (Registered Nurse) assured me as he was using a portable ultrasound machine on my abdomen. It was my first ultrasound of the pregnancy, my first ultrasound ever. “The vast majority of women experience bleeding in their first trimester and continue on to have completely healthy pregnancies. Only a certain percent of bleeding results in miscarriage.” One, then two, ultrasound machines later, and a heartbeat was still undetected. The doctor came into the room finally with another ultrasound machine. Nothing. At this point, I was drenched in the physical pain I was experiencing and confused, numb, and panicked.

The RN kindly asked, “Before we send you in for the internal ultrasound, I noticed your bladder is quite full. Do you want to use the restroom while you wait?” Yes. I hadn’t noticed the incredible pressure building in my bladder. For two hours, I was locked into a fiercely single-minded concentration on the pain I was experiencing and how and when it would eventually end. The pain was so excruciating that I had never experienced anything like before, I could only in hindsight equate to contractions, whatever I imagined those to feel like.

I saw it, in the bathroom. I tearfully begged my husband to come inside with me because I was too scared to go into the bathroom alone—too scared because I didn’t know if something would come out of my body and fall into the toilet or if my bleeding would be extraordinarily severe. I was too afraid to go to the bathroom alone since eight o’clock that night when I noticed my spotting had turned bright, bright red. What I had felt leave my body while we were getting to the car, I saw sitting there on the pad I had been wearing. It was my first baby—I didn’t think about it in those terms then—I thought about it in the terms that the RN later kindly explained to me: the “products of conception.” I gasped and sobbed in the ER bathroom, trying to muffle my voice, as I sat on the toilet seat relieving my bladder. What I said to my husband when I saw the results of our first pregnancy loss, I can’t recall. My husband had gotten a zipper seal bag from another nurse for me before we went into the bathroom so that I could place the reusable pad I was using inside to take it home later and wash it as usual. I asked my husband if I should show what I saw to the nurse.

He didn’t know.

I placed my pad as it was in the bag and I informed the RN, who wanted to show it to the doctor.

The doctor, with his unmoved, unmoving serious calm, said, “You’ve had a miscarriage this morning…” I knew it at last with certainty. Finally, I knew it, conclusively and without a doubt. It felt like my soul left my body. I locked my eyes on the doctor and experienced the scene both from where I was sitting on the hospital bed and as if I were simultaneously floating above. Finally, after five hours of being in the ER, after spotting and bleeding starting around noon the day before, it was over. I didn’t have to worry about if I had the baby or not anymore.

“Can I take some pain medicine now? I really need some naproxen.” The doctor responded, “The pain you’ll experience will be much more than you’ve experienced in the past. You’ll need something stronger.”

He was right—the pain was much more than I had ever experienced and had ever imagined it could be. Pain of all sorts. Physical. Mental. Emotional. Spiritual. When I lost my first pregnancy, I was ten weeks pregnant and the products of conception had stopped developing at the six-week point. I barely felt pregnant—yes, I had some minor symptoms, but everything was great. I had just started my semester student teaching high school English at a local public school, and other than taking a ten-minute nap during my free period and my abdomen swelling the slightest bit, I didn’t really feel the pregnancy much at all. I hadn’t even processed that I was pregnant. I had only told my husband, my personal trainer, and my older sister who was getting married in the summer and needed my measurements for a bridesmaid’s dress. Nobody else knew—we were planning on telling everyone once the first trimester was over because that’s what everyone did. You’re supposed to wait until the first trimester is over to tell people just in case you lose the pregnancy. Well, we lost the pregnancy and we still had to tell people.

My husband texted his old imam, asking what we should do with the remains of the…fetus? Embryo? What was it even at that six-week mark? The RN reassured us to take our time deciding if we needed a burial or not—he was Catholic and he thought all unborn life was sacred. He gave us the number to call if we’d like to collect the remains ourselves later.

I texted my cooperating teacher and supervisor at the school. I told them I was at the hospital being discharged after having a miscarriage. It was around the time that I would normally leave to get to school in the morning, but I was going home to get some sleep. Once my husband and I got back into the car, I said, “We’ll have to tell our parents. I just don’t know how and I can’t. You have to do it.” He called them later that morning after I was in bed. He did not want to do it. “Good news and bad news, but everything is okay. We just came back from the ER. Meena was pregnant, but she had a miscarriage. She’s fine and everything is okay.” I didn’t know what his parents or mine said. I couldn’t listen. My mom wanted to talk to me, but when my husband tried to give me the phone I just cried and shook my head. I can’t remember if I spoke to her or not, I can’t remember what she said.

I thought one day of rest would be enough. I felt so alone at home that day. My husband went to work in the afternoon to finish up an experiment. When he left, I felt even more alone. When I was pregnant, it felt like I was never alone—even though I had barely thought about the baby that was growing inside of me. It was like a protective shield against loneliness which gave me a little bounce in my step as I walked through the high school halls. Just being in the high school environment made me question myself with little swells of teenage angst I was absorbing from my students—but I would remind myself that I was pregnant and I felt cool, of all things. I was incredibly nervous to go into student teaching and test out my chops as a teacher, but being pregnant was my invisible, secret talisman. I was so busy in my last semester of graduate school and teacher training that I had subconsciously pushed the thought of the realities of the pregnancy to when I’d graduate at the end of the semester and how I’d have to figure out what I’d be wearing since I’d be showing at that point.

The pregnancy was just a part of my body at that point and not much else.

After spending the first miserable day after the miscarriage feeling so alone, I decided to go to school the next day. I was still feeling physically ill as if I was having the worst period of my life. It did feel nice to get back to my normal routine, to see my students and talk to them. It felt so good until I had hall duty at the end of the day. A teacher who I had spoken to a few times here and there was walking through the halls carrying a baby in her arms. She said hello to me as she passed and I responded, asking her if that was her daughter. And then I exploded into sobs.

Alarmed, she asked, “Honey, is everything okay?”

“I’m—I’m so sorry. I don’t mean to cry, I just, I just…I just had a miscarriage yesterday,” I replied, choking and sputtering.

“Yesterday?” she exclaimed, in disbelief. “What are you doing here? Should I leave with her so that you don’t–?”

“No! She’s beautiful, you don’t have to leave.”

“You need to go home, go find your teacher and tell her you’re leaving,” she responded with the stern sympathy only a teacher has.

That was the moment when I realized what I lost wasn’t just the pregnancy, but the baby that I could have held in my arms a year later, the baby I could have walked around the halls with at my school two years later. Of course, that was only the beginning of understanding what I had lost. Even today, three years and a healthy two-year-old child later, I don’t fully understand what I lost that day.

What I experienced for the next couple of months was one of the most trying periods of my life. I blamed myself for the miscarriage. Why did I have to run two blocks to catch the bus with a heavy backpack on my back earlier on the day of my miscarriage? Couldn’t I just have waited twenty minutes for the next bus? What was wrong with me? Could I get pregnant but not carry a pregnancy to full-term? Would I ever have another pregnancy or a pregnancy that resulted in a healthy baby after that? My mind was plagued with questions and doubts and I spent so much time living inside those fears and unknowns. I thought I was ready to have a kid when I got pregnant—this was a planned pregnancy. It happened so quickly and everything was so smooth up until the miscarriage…was I deluding myself? Was I not ready? Was Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) slowing me down because I needed to grow up some more or…for some other reason? The confusion I experienced was overwhelming and sometimes shook me to my core.

The one thing that really helped me was talking to people. At first, I had to tell so many people that I had lost a pregnancy because of what was going on in my graduate program. Suddenly so many faculty and administrators knew of my predicament and I heard so many words of sympathy, encouragement, and kindness. I heard other women tell me that they experienced miscarriages, too—women who were as old as my mom and even older. It felt so nice to talk about it and get the “secret” out that I started calling the friends who I stayed in touch with, some of them who were still single and not even close to being pregnant. I talked and talked; I was healing myself with sharing. It felt so good that I couldn’t help it sometimes and when a cashier would casually ask me how I was doing, sometimes I would just blurt it out, word vomit: I had a miscarriage recently and it’s been hard. Sometimes I’d get blank stares (not really an appropriate level of sharing at a grocery store…) but sometimes I’d get sad smiles or encouraging words. The more I shared with others, the more they shared with me. I soon found out that I was far from the only person who had a miscarriage and as a matter of fact, many of the women I knew had miscarriages in their first pregnancies. I also encouraged my husband to share with others. I don’t think he shared as much as I did, but he had a right to share if he wanted with others because this was his pregnancy, too, wasn’t it?

I don’t think he shared as much as I did, but he had a right to share if he wanted with others because this was his pregnancy, too, wasn’t it?Click To Tweet

The few messages that stood out the most to me are the ones that follow.  Our imam, who is from West Arica originally, said that in his culture, a miscarriage is a good sign because it shows that a baby is coming soon. I didn’t get it at the time, and I don’t get it now, but at least I knew that in one culture having a miscarriage isn’t some weird dirty secret that symbolizes a woman’s failure to carry a child.

My husband’s aunt, who is an OBGYN, said to us that she says this to all of her patients who lose a pregnancy, and even to her daughter after she had a miscarriage herself. “When you’re planting a garden, you get some seeds and put them in the soil. You water them, you give them sunlight, and you treat them all the same. Most of them grow into plants, but some of the seeds never grow.” That’s what a miscarriage is — a seed that didn’t grow because it just couldn’t. I took care of the seed, but the seed wasn’t destined to blossom into a beautiful plant. There is neither any control nor any failure on the part of the caretaker of that seed. And lastly, I loved reading a post that Shaykha Maryam Amir Ebrahimi wrote reflecting on her own experience with pregnancy loss (related talk she gave). She touched on so many of the raw emotions that I felt as well as brought me some solace from an Islamic perspective, mentioning the rewards that a mother gets for losing a child in that way.

Three years later, the lost pregnancy is still a part of my life and it’s a fact that I don’t conceal unnecessarily from others. If people talk to me in detail about my experience being pregnant or a mom, I often share with them that I have had two pregnancies—the fruits of one is running around at our feet and the fruits of the other go largely unknown. It isn’t overwhelmingly painful for me to talk about anymore—perhaps because I have a (second/first?) child now—but I do think sharing and talking healed me as well. With all these conversations I have had with women in the last few years who have experienced pregnancy losses or stillbirths or infertility issues or even abortions or unplanned pregnancies, I have come to know how common it is to not be on an easy path towards having children and I have learned a lot about mourning and coping and moving forward.

But I know that not all people want to or are capable of sharing about their fertility complications. Although keeping those struggles to myself would be destructive for me, personally speaking, I guess I am also coming to terms with the fact that some people might have to keep that private in order to heal. It’s complicated by our cultural understanding of miscarriages—and if you’re wondering what is the cultural understanding of miscarriage in America, look no further than the term “miscarriage,” which feels like it blames the mother, and by asking yourself how many women do you know who have talked about losing a pregnancy. I fluctuate between being annoyed and severely wounded when close friends or family members confide in me that they had a pregnancy loss months or even years ago—but that’s a weakness I have to overcome myself. My way of dealing with my miscarriage is not the way everyone I love and care about will deal with theirs.

In the last month, I think I managed to get the rest of the closure I was looking for by naming the child of our first pregnancy. I told my husband that I wanted to name our first, and lost, child, because I wanted that child to feel more real to me, as real as our son feels to us now. We never found out the gender of the child from the first pregnancy, but we both agreed we thought it was a boy. (We’re biased since we have a son now.) Still, I told him I wanted to name the baby a gender-neutral name, just in case it could have been a girl. I chose the name Rayyan—the name of one of the gates of Paradise. Now every time I think of our Rayyan, I think of how a door may have been opened for me due to my loss. Now I have an easy way of thinking and communicating my loss: when I lost Rayyan three years ago, after the miscarriage in which I lost Rayyan…etc.

One thing that I have learned the hard way for myself is that I will never keep a pregnancy, no matter how early on it is, to myself. If I need that person’s support going through a potential pregnancy loss, I will tell them about the pregnancy as soon as I have a chance to do so. I’m tired of the secrecy and the shame and the taboo around pregnancies and miscarriages.

Losing a pregnancy is difficult and perhaps losing your first pregnancy is even worse. It has been a long road of recovery for me, but I hope that sharing my experience helps others who are also grieving a loss and helps destigmatize a common loss that many suffer.

When Children Die: On Tragedy, and What is Reported about the Death of Believing Children

Positively Muslim in the West: Sister Hafizah Ismail of Children of Jannah

The post My Miscarriage And Healing Afterwards appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Zakat Eligibility of Islamic Organizations

20 July, 2021 - 11:25

All Praise Be to Allah, and May His Blessings and Peace Be on His Final Messenger 

In response to a question about the zakat (zakât, zakâh) eligibility of a non-profit organization whose purpose is to gather detailed information on the Muslim communities in the West, AMJA issued the following fatwa: 

The principle regarding the expenditures of Zakat is its limitation to the eight categories mentioned in the verse: 

{Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.} [Surah Al-Tawbah 9:60] 

However, some past scholars believed much can fall under the term “and for the cause of Allah,” and many contemporary scholars believe it includes protecting the interests of Islam and the Muslims, da‘wah, intellectual efforts, and any related projects that promote them. This was also the conclusion reached by the Islamic Fiqh Council in their 8th conference. Therefore, if the work done by this organization and others like it, which includes gathering detailed and beneficial information concerning Muslims and making them available to those involved in da‘wah, [and to] think tanks and policy makers, serves those objectives, then it is eligible to receive Zakat – according to this opinion. In conclusion, AMJA would like to remind all organizations which receive Zakat and [that] benefit from charity of the importance of attentively adhering to the parameters set by the Shariah on receiving and spending Zakat in the correct fashion.

AMJA has issued other fatwas to the same effect. These fatwas have been used by many organizations seeking to collect funds through zakat. Such a “trend” in the community caused some sincere observers to be concerned about the change of the focus of zakat from fighting poverty to supporting different organizations. Some of the feedback we received was reasonable, but at times, people’s emotions made them lose objectivity or even transgress. Although I am a member of the Resident Fatwa Committee of AMJA, I write this article in my individual capacity. Its purpose is to clarify AMJA’s position and contribute to the discourse on the prudent application of this fatwa. 

I have divided this article into 4 segments:

  1. Introduction 
  2. The zakat eligibility of da‘wah organizations and others defending the cause of Islam and Muslims 
  3. The difficulty of establishing stringent guidelines 
  4. Recommendations for Muslim organizations and individual donors
Introduction

This is an issue that is loaded with emotions. Many people fail to see that zakat has eight categories of recipients, and that although fighting poverty is its primary purpose, it is not the only aim. Furthermore, while this discourse is bound to be “emotive-intellectual,” the use of rhetorical devices and logical fallacies should be avoided whenever possible. At least, they should not be intentionally used to score vain victories. We do understand that controversy regarding money and its distribution has been a fixture of human history. We also understand that people are affected by their intellectual milieu, and that our community in this part of the world leans to the “left.” We also remember how a great Companion like Abu Dharr (raḍiya Allâhu ‘anhu – rAa), who was not surpassed in sincerity by anyone, as described by the truthful one (al-Ṣâdiq, pbuh), fervently disagreed with the rest of the Companions about these issues. And while we agree with the rest of the Companions, we will always love and revere Abu Dharr and respect his motives. Having said that, I would also like to remind the reader that the first one to suffer from accusations of maldistribution of public money was none other than the Prophet (pbuh) himself – al-Ameen! There is the well-known hadith in which a proto-Kharijite person accused him of injustice. The following story, however, better demonstrates the complexity of the subject and its emotive aspect. It is long, but there may be more lessons to learn from it than from the rest of the article. 

The context of this hadith is that from the spoils (war booty) of the battle of Ḥunayn, the Prophet gave massive grants to those of the former enemies whose hearts he intended to win and to those whose faith was still questionable. 

Abu Sa‘eed al-Khudri raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that when Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) distributed some grants to [the people of] Quraish and [among some] other Arab tribes, the Ansar [Anṣâr] did not receive anything from it [the booty], so they [were disappointed and] felt saddened. Some words started to go around about that, till one of them said: By Allah, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has met his [own] people (i.e., he has reconciled with them and forgotten about us). Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubâdah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) came to the Messenger of Allah and said: O Allah’s Messenger, this group from among the Ansar are [feeling] sad within themselves about what you have done with the spoils which you have acquired… The Prophet asked: And how do you feel about this, O Sa‘d? He replied: O Allah’s Messenger, I am just one of them. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: So, gather for me your people in this place… So Allah’s Messenger came to them. He praised Allah and glorified Him duly, then he enquired: O people of the Ansar, what have I heard about you, and about the sadness you have felt among yourselves? Didn’t I come to you while you were astray, then Allah guided you, and you were poor, and Allah enriched you, and you were enemies to one another, but Allah joined your hearts together? They said: Yes, and the greatest favors are from Allah and His Messenger. Then he said: Do you not answer me, O people of the Ansar? They replied: And by what can we answer you O Allah’s Messenger? Truly the greatest favors are from Allah and His Messenger. He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) responded:

أَمَا وَاَللَّهِ لَوْ شِئْتُمْ لَقُلْتُمْ، فَلَصَدَقْتُمْ وَلَصُدِّقْتُمْ: أَتَيْتَنَا مُكَذَّبًا فَصَدَّقْنَاكَ، وَمَخْذُولًا فَنَصَرْنَاكَ، وَطَرِيدًا فَآوَيْنَاكَ، وَعَائِلًا فَآسَيْنَاكَ. أَوَجَدْتُمْ يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ فِي لُعَاعَةٍ مِنْ الدُّنْيَا تَأَلَّفْتُ بِهَا قَوْمًا لِيُسْلِمُوا. وَوَكَلْتُكُمْ إلَى إسْلَامِكُمْ، أَلَا تَرْضَوْنَ يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ أَنْ يَذْهَبَ النَّاسُ بِالشَّاةِ وَالْبَعِيرِ، وَتَرْجِعُوا بِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ إلَى رِحَالِكُمْ؟ فَوَاَلَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ، لَوْلَا الْهِجْرَةُ لَكُنْتُ امْرَأً مِنْ الْأَنْصَارِ، وَلَوْ سَلَكَ النَّاسُ شِعْبًا وَسَلَكَتْ الْأَنْصَارُ شِعْبًا، لَسَلَكْتُ شِعْبَ الْأَنْصَارِ. اللَّهُمَّ ارْحَمْ الْأَنْصَارَ وَأَبْنَاءَ الْأَنْصَارِ وَأَبْنَاءَ أَبْنَاءِ الْأَنْصَار . 

By Allah, if you wished, you could have said, and you would have been truthful in [saying] it and would have been believed, that: You came to us accused of being a liar but we believed you, and you came to us forsaken and we supported you, and you came to us as a refugee and we sheltered you, and you came to us poor and we aided you. Did you feel saddened, O Ansar, for a trifle of this worldly life that I used in order to reconcile the hearts of some people [to Islam], and entrusted to you your faith in Islam that Allah has given you? Would it not please you, O Ansar, that the people return to their homes with sheep and camels, and you go back to your homes with the Messenger of Allah? By He in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul , had it not been for the Hijra I would have been one of the Ansar, and if the people [altogether] take one way and the Ansar take another, I would take the way of the Ansar. O Allah, have mercy on the Ansar, and the children of the Ansar, and the children of the children of the Ansar!

[Upon hearing this] the people wept bitterly till they wet their beards, and they said: We are pleased with the Messenger of Allah as our share and fortune.1

People have various psychological and ideological inclinations. It is absolutely fine for someone, who is so inclined, to give all of his zakat to the poor. This is true according to the majority. It is, however, unacceptable for people to condemn someone else who may decide to give some of his or her zakat for other purposes. We know, for example, that the Mâlikis and Ḥanbalis still consider the category of “those whose hearts are to be reconciled” to be applicable to non-Muslims. And while such expenditure should be done by the imam or his deputies (including major Islamic organizations in today’s circumstances), it is legitimate for individual Muslims to give their entire zakat of one year for this purpose. This money could be used to lobby policymakers or to support some of them for the interests of the Muslim community: not to usurp the rights of other communities, but to defend our own. 

Those who may decide to avoid this position because of their religious conviction or benefit/harm assessment should not deny others the right to choose their own position and to make their own benefit/harm assessment. This is assuming that such a decision is based on textual proofs and legal principles, and not, for instance, on assessment using other criteria that vary with time, such as a risk–benefit ratio. In other words, it is imperative that we are not violating an established (i.e., not merely reported) consensus, specific to the issue at hand, that is not simply based on maṣlaḥah (securing benefit and removing harm). For if we deviate from that, an opponent can “deny” us the right to adopt our own position. Technically, in the legal context, inkâr (condemnation) is warranted when someone deviates from such consensus, and we must respect that. We are not by any means calling for the “deregulation” of the religion.

A more detailed discussion about the concept of the change of fatwa can be found in this article. However, it must be said here that the realization of the effective causes (manaṭât) of the legislation and its higher objectives is an ongoing exercise that should be deferred to those scholars most grounded in knowledge and most aware of the reality. Quoting text or traditional fatwas can be done by many. Understanding the manaṭât of the text is the responsibility and prerogative of the fuqahâ’. Realizing such manaṭât in changing realities is the work of those among them most aware of such realities. The Prophet (pbuh) said,

“يحْمِلُ هَذَا العِلْمَ مِن كُلِّ خَلَفٍ عُدُولُهُ يَنْفُونَ عَنْه انْتِحالَ المُبْطِلِينَ وتَأْوِيلَ الجَاهِلِينَ وتَحْرِيفَ الغَالِينَ”

“In every generation, their reliable authorities will steward this knowledge, rejecting the frauds of the false claimants, the interpretations of the ignorant, and the changes made by the extremists.” 

The zakat eligibility of da‘wah organizations and others defending the cause of Islam and Muslims 

The intent of this segment is to show that the position adopted by AMJA is a mainstream position among the contemporary scholars. Those who disagree with it should at least find it sâ’igh (excusable/defensible). This will not be a detailed analysis of the different positions, so I will not mention the evidence for the counter positions in detail. Such evidence can be sought in the books of fiqh. I will start by presenting a typology of the positions on this matter, followed by the evidence that were (or could be) cited in support of AMJA’s position. 

A typology of positions

There is usually a spectrum of positions in such controversial matters. However, for simplification, I will mention the main positions concerning the scope of the category of “for the cause of Allah.” I will also mention the other categories that can be invoked in support of the zakat eligibility of Muslim organizations defending the cause of Islam and Muslims. 

There are five main positions concerning the meaning of “for the cause of Allah” in the following verse outlining the eligible zakat recipients:

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ ۖ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

{Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.} [Surat at-Tawbah 9:60]

Position 1: It means the fighters for the cause of Allah. We may safely say that this is the position of the majority of earlier scholars. However, when we address positions 3 and 4, we will come to realize that many of them did not strictly limit it to fighters. 

Position 2: Diametrically opposite this first position, we have the position that it is the apparent meaning of the phrase: all the good causes of Allah (some have specified it as meaning all public interests of Muslims), including building and maintaining mosques and dams, shrouding the dead, teaching the Qur’an, supporting students of knowledge and missionaries, and so forth. This is the position reported by Imam al-Qaffâl from some jurists, and supported by imams like Qâḍi ‘Iyâḍ2, al-Râzi3, al-Kasâni (see details below)4, and al-Ṭeebi5, and of the latter scholars, by al-Ṣan‘âni, Shihâb al-Deen al-Aloosi, and Ṣiddeeq Hasan Khan6, and of the scholars who died after 1900, by al-Qâsimisi, Muhammad Râshid Reda7, the grand shaykhs of al-Azhar, namely Musṭafa al-Marâghi8, Maḥmoud Shaltoot, ‘Abd al-Majeed Saleem, and ‘Abd al-Ḥaleem Maḥmoud, and the grand mufti of Egypt, Muhammad Hasanayn Makhlouf, whose position became the standard position of Dâr al-Iftâ’. It is also the position chosen by Nadwat al-Iqtiṣâd al-Islâmi (Islamic Economic Forum), convened in Amman, Jordan in 1983 under the leadership of the late towering Ḥanafi fiqh scholar, Sh. Muṣṭafa Ahmad al-Zarqa9. 

Between these two ends of the spectrum lie the three other positions that considered this category a specific one but did not limit it to fighters. They added one or more of the following:

Position 3: It includes financing the wâjib hajj and ‘umrah for those who cannot otherwise afford to go. This is the authorized Ḥanbali position10. It is also the position of the Companions Ibn ‘Abbâs, Ibn ‘Umar, and Ḥuẓaifah, and of al-Ḥasan of the Tâbi‘een, and others11.

Position 4: It includes the students of knowledge. This is the position of many Ḥanafis, as in al-Zaheeriyah and Ḥâshiyat Ibn ‘Abideen. However, unlike the majority, the Ḥanafis qualify all the categories except the zakat collectors by need (al-ḥâjah), although Ibn ‘Âbideen12 cites a different position that excludes students of knowledge from this and permits zakat for those of them who own a niṣâb13. The Maliki scholar, al-Ṣâwy, argued that they are eligible, according to Imam Malik’s madhhab, even if they are rich, because they are “mujâhidoon.”14 It is noteworthy here that the Shafi‘ees15 and Ḥanbalis16 consider those students of knowledge who are capable of earning eligible to receive zakat if they dedicate their time to the pursuit of learning. They do not extend the same right to those devoted to worship. They would still classify this as belonging to the category of the “poor.” It is obvious, however, that they are in different ways allowing the student of knowledge to receive zakat because of the ummah’s need for their knowledge.

Position 5: It includes all forms of jihad, including intellectual jihad through da‘wah, dispelling misconceptions, and defending the religion and its people through all legitimate means. This is the position chosen by AMJA in the fatwa above. It is also the position of the Islamic Fiqh Council17, the second-largest international fiqh assembly, as declared at their 8th conference. Notably, the decision passed with an absolute majority. It is also the position of the following fiqh bodies: The Permanent Fatwa Committee of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the Fatwa Committee of Kuwait, the Kuwaiti Zakat House, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments, and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Egypt18. It is also the position of the following notable contemporary scholars: the grand muftis of KSA, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim and ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Bâz, Sh. Yusuf al-Qaradâwi, Sh. ‘Abd al-Kareem Zaydân, Sh. ‘Abdullah Nâṣiḥ ‘Ulwân, Sh. Muhammad Sulaymân al-Ashqar, Sh. ‘Umar Sulaymân al-Ashqar, Sh. ‘Abdullah al-Muṣliḥ, Sh. Ṣalâḥ al-Ṣâwy, among many others19. It is important to mention here that all of the supporters of Position 2 would, a fortiori, support this narrower spectrum of eligible recipients. 

Is this category the only one invoked in supporting the zakat eligibility of Muslim organizations defending the cause of Islam and Muslims?

The short answer to this is “no.” We have scholars of the past and present who extended, via analogy, the category of zakat collectors to those serving the public interests of the community; they also cited textual evidence in support of their position. This was reported from Abu ‘Ubayd, and understood from the chapter headings of al-Bukhâri in his Ṣaḥeeḥ20. Some scholars like ‘Iyâḍ and others understood it from the instance in which the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used zakat money to pay for the blood-money of a man of the Anṣâr about whose death the Jews were accused21. In fact, Ibn Rushd pointed out how mainstream this position was when he stated,

“Those who permitted it for the collector, even when wealthy, permitted it as well for judges and others like them whose services are of benefit to the Muslim public.”22

It is also reasonable to pay students of knowledge who staff many of those organizations, for their dedication to learning and research, based on the large number of earlier scholars who allowed that, even if those students are capable of earning a living. 

It is also reasonable to pay the organizations who defend the legal rights of Muslims under the category of riqâb, based on the view that extends the meaning of this term to include freeing the captives and paying bail for the unjustly imprisoned.

As we said before, the Mâlikis and Ḥanbalis still consider the category of “those whose hearts are to be reconciled” operative and applicable to non-Muslims. Major Islamic organizations may use some zakat funds to lobby policymakers or support some of them to protect the legitimate interests of the Muslim community. Any research on the uses of this category in the Ḥanbali madhhab, for instance, would lead to this conclusion.

Evidence cited for the expansion of the category of “for the cause of Allah”

While it is extremely unlikely that all these scholars mentioned above and others would uphold a baseless view, it is still important to show their evidence if we are arguing for the defensibility of their position. Here are some. 

From the Qur’an

The Qur’an does not always use “fi sabeel Allah” (for the cause of Allah) to refer to jihad. A simple search would yield this conclusion. And with respect to spending in particular, there is also the following verse that infers that it is not restricted to that cause. Allah says, 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الْأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ لَيَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

{O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah. And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment.} [Surat at-Tawbah 9:34]

According to the majority, one may give all of his or her zakat to any recipient. If “for the cause of Allah” here means only the fighters, all those who are not giving their zakat to fighters would deserve that severe torment. 

Allah says, 

فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَجَاهِدْهُم بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا

{So do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them with the Qur’an a great striving.} [Surat al-Furqān 25:52]

This verse can be cited by those who expand the concept of jihad to include intellectual jihad. 

From the Sunnah

The Sunnah also does not limit “fi sabeel Allah” (for the cause of Allah) exclusively to jihad. It is used in the context of a variety of good causes, including hajj and umrah, seeking knowledge, and even providing for oneself or one’s family. And with respect to spending in particular, the Sunnah also used the term to refer to other good causes. 

Umm Ma‘qil narrated: “When the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) performed the Farewell Pilgrimage, and we had a camel, Abu Ma‘qil dedicated it “for the cause of Allah.” Then we suffered from a disease, and Abu Ma‘qil died. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) went out (for hajj). When he finished the hajj, I came to him. He asked: Umm Ma‘qil, what prevented you from coming out for hajj along with us? She replied: We resolved (to do so), but Abu Ma‘qil died. We had a camel on which we could perform hajj, but Abu Ma‘qil had bequeathed it “for the cause of Allah.” He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) responded: 

“فَهَلاَّ خَرَجْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّ الْحَجَّ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ”

Why did you not go out (for hajj) upon it, for hajj is in the cause of Allah? 

While the hadith indicates that the prevalent use of the phrase “for the cause of Allah” was for fighting, it shows, along with other texts, that it does not refer exclusively to that. 

Like the Qur’an, the Sunnah attests to the intellectual jihad being a form of jihad. Of these traditions is the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying, 

‏ “‏ جَاهِدُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ ‏”‏ 

“Use your property, your persons any your tongues in striving against the polytheists.”

From the Companions

As we said before, Ibn ‘Abbâs, Ibn Umar, and Huzaifah all considered hajj to be included in the category of “fi sabeel Allah” with respect to spending23. The Ḥanbalis may argue that none of the Companions contested this opinion, showing that this type of spending is included by their (tacit) consensus in this category. Those who expand it further may argue that, by the consensus of the Companions, this category was not limited to the fighters. 

From the Language

The apparent meaning of this phrase in the language is “for the cause of Allah.” It includes all good causes that draw us closer to Allah. This has been acknowledged by linguists and exegetes (mufassireen) alike24.

It was argued that when there is no clear takhṣeeṣ (specification) of the meaning of the verse in the Revelation, language, or ‘urf (common usage), its general purports should be upheld. 

Analogy

One may argue that analogy has no place in rulings on acts of worship. However, this, while somewhat true, is not an absolute principle. Any student of fiqh knows they applied to comprehensible rulings in the sphere of worship as well. There are examples mentioned above. Ibn Rushd’s statement about the fuqahâ’ widening the scope of “the collectors” via analogy is one25.  

Rational evidence 

Most of the struggle in our times is intellectual, and enormous resources are needed for da‘wah and dispelling misconceptions about the religion. ِAdditionally, in the current era, countries have standing armies, and they are not soliciting zakat for them. 

We often hear people say that we need homegrown scholars who understand the realities of our nascent Muslim community in the West, in general, and North America, in particular. I have found that many of the “foreign” muftis truly appreciate the needs of our communities, including the imperative to establish institutions that serve the interests of the religion and its followers, and they agree that zakat money may be used to secure such great need. For example, you will find the fatwa agency of Bayt al-Zakat al-Kuwaiti, one of the most active in researching this area of the law (and largely conservative in its opinions), making several distinctions between Muslim majorities and minorities, allowing the expenditure of zakat for da‘wah – and even for the building of mosques within the context of the latter26.

Those who argue that money will be diverted from fighting poverty may be overestimating the trend of supporting Islamic organizations from zakat money. We have no reliable statistics or studies to support such a claim. Even if the money that was typically sent from Muslim communities in the West to their fellow Muslims overseas is now partly diverted to fund legitimate local causes, this may be a result of the changing demographics of the community. We have more members of the faith now who are native to the West. They may have fewer ties to the majority-Muslim “homelands,” and they may also have a greater interest in establishing thriving organizations. Many earlier emigrants did not even want to buy graves in their new countries because they always planned to “go back home.” 

The fact that voluntary charity by the community is not sufficient to support all of its essential needs is acknowledged by most leaders of these communities. Zakat money has contributed greatly to the goals of serving the common interests of Islam and Muslims. This is attested to, even by those overseas, observing from a distance27. How could we blame someone for giving a portion of their zakat to the organization they believe brought them back to Islam or to practicing it? We must understand that da‘wah is the best way to “cultivate donors.” What we need to do is not to contest this “concession,” but rather to remind Muslim organizations and donors of the importance of zakat and other forms of charity and appropriate zakat stewardship. 

I hope that people who read this segment will find that the judicious expansion of the category of “fi sabeel Allah” (for the cause of Allah) to include all forms of intellectual struggle is supported by the ẓawâhir (apparent meanings) of the texts, and has been upheld by scores of notable ‘ulamâ’ of the past and present and that if someone chose another position as râjiḥ (weightier), they should be able to find this one as sâ’igh (defensible/excusable). This would mean refraining from inkâr (condemnation) of it and of those who uphold it. 

The difficulty of establishing stringent guidelines 

Some people expressed concern about the brevity of AMJA’s fatwa and the lack of guidelines. I must begin by saying that the fatwa committee of AMJA would have provided a more detailed answer to the question if it were putting forth an unprecedented position. It is not. It is a position that has been largely mainstreamed by fiqh bodies, fatwa agencies, and individual scholars. While there is extensive research on the subject, oftentimes, their fatwas were as “brief” as AMJA’s, or even briefer. Excessive regulations, unless warranted and supported by evidence, can cause more harm. People must be trusted to some extent in the phase of application. This applies to many areas of the law. Giving women a list of colors they cannot wear would be fraught with arbitrariness, lack of evidence, and inconsistency. Telling them to avoid colors that bring attention to them can be justified with much more ease. The extreme regulation of things that are meant to be left to the conscientiousness of humankind causes atrophy of that faculty. 

Guidelines (even arbitrary ones) by the recipient organizations are welcome. Stringent or exclusionary guidelines cannot be established by a mufti or a fatwa agency because the following legal principles may be invoked against them. 

Separating between equals and the a fortiori argument 

Many of the arbitrary guidelines laid down by organizations for public assurance cannot be demanded by fatwa agencies because they are legally (and sometimes rationally) incoherent, separating between equals or prioritizing for no good reason what is less important. When we say that giving da‘wah to others is part of intellectual jihad, some may say that preserving one’s capital takes priority over making profit; thus, financing Islamic schools from the zakat funds, to protect the deen of our offspring, should take priority over da‘wah, when such schools cannot otherwise survive. This is why the fatwa agency of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments, Sh. ‘Abd al-Ḥaleem Mahmoud, Sh. Yusuf al-Qaradâwi, and others argued that zakat may be given to finance them28.   

Giving da‘wah to Muslims in a small village in Egypt may not look like a form of “intellectual jihad.” But da‘wah to those Muslims at risk of losing their religion because of societal pressures or non-Muslim missionary efforts may be an eligible cause, and that is why the fatwa agency of Bayt al-Zakat al-Kuwaiti ruled that da‘wah among Muslim minorities would be eligible for zakat under the seventh category: “fi sabeel Allah.”29

The same or more could be said about building a masjid in a town or neighborhood of an indigenous community when it could not otherwise be built. It can always be argued that masâjid should be built from the crème of the crop of our wealth, not from the impurities we seek to cleanse ourselves of by paying zakat. But what if they cannot be built? This is exactly what Sh. Shaltoot argued when he said that a mosque should not be built from zakat money except when it cannot otherwise be built, in which case it is permissible30. This is AMJA’s position as well31.

The means to wâjib are wâjib and the means take the rulings of the ends

Another way to phrase it is “that which is necessary for the fulfilment of wâjib is wâjib.” Of course, this principle applies when such means are attainable by the mukallaf (responsible) agent. This principle can make the distinction between buying desks and chairs and paying researchers a risky one. That is why the Permanent Fatwa Committee of KSA allowed the use of zakat money by da‘wah organizations in the UK for buying a building and maintaining it, as well as paying its electricity bills, and so forth32.

If one says that zakat money may be used to support orphans, but it cannot be used to build orphanages, this argument may be invoked against them. That is why Bayt al-Zakat of Kuwait allowed its use for the building of orphanages, particularly for Muslim minorities33. 

Recommendations for Muslim organizations and individual donors 

Based on the foregoing, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.  

Recommendations for recipient organizations

(Organizations may have their own additional guidelines to demonstrate to themselves and others their good stewardship of the zakat money.)

Here are some that are most obvious. 

  • When an organization has several activities, they should direct their zakat money to those that are eligible, if they desire to follow one of the middle positions, 4 and/or 5. 
  • Organizations should be transparent about their finances. Those who will earn the people’s trust are those that achieve the expected level of transparency, particularly in a country like the USA where there are established ethics of transparency concerning the conduct of non-profit organizations. 
  • Zakat money should not be used for anything extravagant or unwarranted. When in doubt, avoid using it. Nothing is like safety. The objective is to defend the cause of Islam and Muslims, and while the means to wâjib are wâjib and the means take the rulings of the ends, it is particularly indicated in such controversial matters that we do not widen the scope of the means or consider the most distant means to be zakat eligible. No fixed rules can be placed here because of the infinite scenarios, but our conscientious stewardship of zakat money is essential. 
  • Organizations that use zakat money should have an objective mechanism to evaluate the salaries of their employees and avoid any conflict of interest. If they desire to abide by the one Ḥanafi position, for instance, that gives zakat only to those who are needy, including students of knowledge/researchers, they may give them what is enough to keep them above the poverty line. Traditionally, niṣâb was considered to represent that line. If the organizations follow the position of the majority, they will pay their employees at market value, not more. Of course, such value is commensurate with their training and skills. 
  • Over-decorating the mosques is disliked. “Charitable donations, even voluntary donations, should not be used to adorn the mosque except for a small amount that is customarily considered acceptable, that will not distract the worshippers, and which is not considered extravagant.” 34
  • Our mosques should be built using the purest of our wealth, not zakat money. The only exception is in indigenous communities or small towns where a mosque cannot otherwise be built. A mosque that is in debt can receive zakat money to pay off its debt35.
  • Those mosques that use zakat money to support their da‘wah program should be truly active in reaching out to non-Muslims and Muslims who are distant. These funds should not be used to simply support a halaqah for the regular masjid community. 
  • Islamic schools that decide to accept zakat money should have the wealthy pay full tuition. This will largely funnel the zakat money toward those already deserving of zakat because of their need36. 
  • All organizations that are capable of gradually weaning themselves from dependency on zakat money should attempt to do that, so as to avoid controversy. They should diversify their sources of income and, most importantly, develop awqâf for long-term stability. 
Recommendations for donors

Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated: 

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A man (from amongst the people before you) said: ‘Indeed! I will give in charity.’ So he took his adaqah out and placed it in a thief’s hand. In the morning the people were talking (about this incident) and saying: ‘Ṣadaqah was given to a thief last night.’ The man said: ‘O Allah! Praise be to You. I have given adaqah to a thief. Indeed, I will give in charity!’ So he took his adaqah out and placed it in a prostitute’s hand. In the morning the people were talking (about this incident) and saying: ‘Ṣadaqah was given to a prostitute last night.’ On hearing this, the man said: ‘Praise be to You, O Allah! I gave adaqah to a prostitute. Indeed, I will give in charity!’ So he took his adaqah out and placed it in a rich man’s hand. In the morning the people were talking (about this incident) and saying: ‘Ṣadaqah was given to a rich man last night.’ The man said: ‘O Allah! Praise be to You (for helping me) give charity to a thief, a prostitute, and a rich man.’ Then he had a dream in which he was told that his adaqah to the thief might result in his refraining from theft, his adaqah to the prostitute might help her abstain from immorality, and his adaqah to the rich man might help him pay heed and spend from what Allah had bestowed upon him.”37 

I decided to start with this hadith despite it not directly serving the purpose of this segment, because moderation is always good, even in preaching. There is no need to cause unwarranted anxiety. People need to learn about Allah’s fairness and mercy. Having said that, it is still the obligation of the donor to be thoughtful in giving their zakat. 

  • As a donor, I should learn about the cause I am supporting and the organization I am patronizing. I would favor transparent organizations that are truly and effectively defending the cause of Islam and Muslims. 
  • Also, according to the Shâfi‘ees, zakat must be equally divided between the eight categories of recipients. If one category cannot be found, then it should be equally divided between the remaining seven. While we uphold the position of the majority, it must be said that it would be favorable to include several categories in your giving of zakat. 
  • Moreover, the first two categories mentioned in the verse above about the recipients are the most deserving. They should never be neglected. They are the only ones mentioned in the hadith of Mu‘âdh where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to him, 

“‏ … فإنْ هُمْ أطاعُوا لذلكَ، فأعْلِمْهُمْ أنَّ اللَّهَ افْتَرَضَ عليهم صَدَقَةً تُؤْخَذُ مِن أغْنِيائِهِمْ فَتُرَدُّ في فُقَرائِهِمْ‏”‏ 

“…and if they obey you, tell them that Allah has made the payment of Zakat obligatory upon them. It should be collected from their rich and distributed among their poor.” [Al-Bukhâri and Muslim].

  • Finally, the affluent people of this ummah must be reminded of the virtue of voluntary charity. In fact, all of us must remind ourselves of that virtue. 

“فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَاسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُوا وَأَنفِقُوا خَيْرًا لِّأَنفُسِكُمْ ۗ وَمَن يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ”

“So fear Allah as much as you are able and listen and obey and spend in charity for the benefit of your own soul. And whoever is saved from the stinginess of their soul – it is those who will be the successful.” [At-Taghābun 64:16]

وصلى الله على محمد والحمد لله رب العالمين.

 

Notes: All footnotes are hyperlinked and can be accessed by clicking on the numeral.

1     This wording was reported by Ibn Hishâm in his Seerah. A variant version is in Muslim. Translations of the hadiths (with modifications when indicated) are from Sunnah.com except when noted. This particular translation was adapted from: “One of the most touching narrations you will read!,” Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem [blog post], January 2, 2015, https://alsiratalmustaqeem.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/one-of-the-most-touching-narrations-you-will-read/.2     Sharaf al-Deen al-Ṭeebi, Sharḥ al-Ṭeebi ‘ala Mishkât al-Maṣâbeeḥ, 1st ed. (Makkah: Maktabat Nizâr Muṣṭafa al-Bâz, 1997), 5:1541.3     Fakhr al-Deen al-Râzi, Mafâteeḥ al-Ghayb, 3rd ed. (Beirut: Dâr Ihyâ’ al-Turâth al-‘Arabi, 1420 AH), 16:87.4     Alâ’ ud-Deen al-Kâsâni, Badâ’i‘ aṣ-Ṣanâ’i‘, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1986), 2:45.5     Sharaf al-Deen al-Ṭeebi, Sharḥ al-Ṭeebi ‘ala Mishkât al-Maṣâbeeḥ, 1st ed. (Makkah: Maktabat Nizâr Muṣṭafa al-Bâz, 1997), 5:1541.6     Ṣiddiq Hassan Khan, al-Rawḍah al-Nadiyyah, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Ma‘rifah, n.d.), 1:206.7     Muhammad Rasheed Reḍa, Tafsir al-Manâr, (Cairo: al-Hay’ah al-Miṣriyyah al-‘âmmah li-l-Kitâb, 1993), 10:499.8     Ahmad ibn Muṣṭafa al-Marâghi, Tafisr al-Marâghi, 1st ed. (Cairo: Maktabat Muṣṭafa al-Bâbi al-Ḥalabi, 1946), 10:145.9     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 83.10     Manșour ibn Yoonus al-Buhooti, Kash-shâf al-Qinâ‘, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, n.d.), 2:284.11     Muḥammad ibn Ismâ‘eel al-Bukhâri, Șaḥeeḥ al-Bukhâri. (Cairo: al-Maṭba‘ah al-Kubra al-Amiriyyah, 1311 AH), 2:122.12     Muhammad ibn Ameen ibn ‘Âbideen, Hâshiyat Ibn ‘Âbideen (Radd al-Muhtâr ‘Alâ ad-Durr al-Mukhtâr Sharh Tanweer al-Absâr), 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Fikr, 1421 AH), 2:343.13     Muhammad ibn Ameen ibn ‘Âbideen, Hâshiyat Ibn ‘Âbideen (Radd al-Muhtâr ‘Alâ ad-Durr al-Mukhtâr Sharh Tanweer al-Absâr), 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Fikr, 1421 AH), 2:340.14     Ahmad al-Ṣâwy al-Mâliki. Hâshiyat al-Ṣâwy ‘ala Tafsir al-Jalâlayn. (Beirut: Dâr al-Jeel, n.d.), 2:144.15     Yaḥyâ ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi, Al-Majmoo‘ Sharḥ al-Muhadh-dhab, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Fikr, 1997), 6:190.16     Manșour ibn Yoonus al-Buhooti, Kash-shâf al-Qinâ‘, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, n.d.), 2:271.17     “الفقه عام ( مقارن وفتاوى ) ” قرارات المجمع الفقهي الإسلامي للرابطة ـ مكة,” المكتبة العربية الكبرى, accessed June 10, 2021, http://arabicmegalibrary.com/texts/4548?page=39.18     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 46, 34, 54.19     Ibid, 99, 101, 105, 106, 107, 111, 126, 128. 20     Muhammad ibn Ismael al-Ṣan‘âni, Subul al-Salâm. (Cairo : Dâr al-Ḥadeeth, n.d.), 1:550.21     Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalâni, Fatḥ al-Bâri Sharḥ Saḥeeḥ al-Bukhâri, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Ma‘rifah, 1379 AH), 12:235.22     Abu Al-Waleed ibn Rushd Al-Ḥafeed, Bidâyat al-Mujtahid wa Nihâyat al-Muqtaṣid, 2nd ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ḥadeeth, 2004), 2:38.23     Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah, Mușannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 2nd ed. (Riyadh: Maktabat ar-Rushd, 1409 AH), 6:220. Muḥammad ibn Ismâ‘eel al-Bukhâri, Șaḥeeḥ al-Bukhâri. (Cairo: al-Maṭba‘ah al-Kubra al-Amiriyyah, 1311 AH), 2:122.24    Muhammad ibn Makram ibn Mandhoor al-Ifreeqi al-Miṣri, Lisân al-‘Arab, 3rd ed. (Beirut: Dâr Sâdir, 1414 AH), 11:320. Muhammad al-Barakti, al-Ta‘reefât al-Fiqhiyyah, 1st ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2003), 168.25     Abu Al-Waleed ibn Rushd Al-Ḥafeed, Bidâyat al-Mujtahid wa Nihâyat al-Muqtaṣid, 2nd ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ḥadeeth, 2004), 2:38.26     Al-Hay’ah al-Shar‘iyah: Khalid Shujâ‘ al-‘Utaybi et al. Aḥkâm wa Fatâwa al-Zakât wa al-Ṣadaqât wa al-Nudhoor wa al-Kaffârât, 13th ed. (Kuwait: Bayt al-Zakât, 2019), 174, 178.27     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 41.28     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 37, 105, and 114.29     Al-Hay’ah al-Shar‘iyah: Khalid Shujâ‘ al-‘Utaybi et al. Aḥkâm wa Fatâwa al-Zakât wa al-Ṣadaqât wa al-Nudhoor wa al-Kaffârât, 13th ed. (Kuwait: Bayt al-Zakât, 2019), 178.30     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 102.31     “12th Annual Imams’ Conference,” AMJA Online, accessed June 9, 2021, https://www.amjaonline.org/declaration-articles/12th-annual-imams-conference/.32     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 50.33     Al-Hay’ah al-Shar‘iyah: Khalid Shujâ‘ al-‘Utaybi et al. Aḥkâm wa Fatâwa al-Zakât wa al-Ṣadaqât wa al-Nudhoor wa al-Kaffârât, 13th ed. (Kuwait: Bayt al-Zakât, 2019), 183.34     “12th Annual Imams’ Conference,” AMJA Online, accessed June 9, 2021, https://www.amjaonline.org/declaration-articles/12th-annual-imams-conference/.35     “12th Annual Imams’ Conference,” AMJA Online, accessed June 9, 2021, https://www.amjaonline.org/declaration-articles/12th-annual-imams-conference/.36     Al-Hay’ah al-Shar‘iyah: Khalid Shujâ‘ al-‘Utaybi et al. Aḥkâm wa Fatâwa al-Zakât wa al-Ṣadaqât wa al-Nudhoor wa al-Kaffârât, 13th ed. (Kuwait: Bayt al-Zakât, 2019), 180.37     al-Bukhâri

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Reviving The Sacred Months: Dhul Hijjah (Part 1)

14 July, 2021 - 13:17

The buzz of Ramadan has come and gone, leaving us with already-fading memories of days of fasting and nights of worship. Caught up in the bustle of our regular lives, especially as the world struggles to move towards a post-pandemic norm, we may find ourselves longing for another opportunity to ground ourselves spiritually. Just in time, Dhu’l Hijjah has begun! Some of us might be a little confused – okay, so what? We’re not going for Hajj, so what’s the big deal? It’s actually a very big deal. For all that we know of the incredible blessings of Ramadan (even non-Muslims know about Ramadan), too few of us know of the rest of the months of the Islamic calendar, and in particular, those months which were designated by Allah as being uniquely sacred. 

{Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…} (Surah al-Tawbah 9:36)

Abu Bakrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2958).

Of the four sacred months, Dhu’l Hijjah was singled out to be the most sacred of them all – even moreso than Ramadan.

Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” They said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for jihad taking his wealth with him and does not come back with anything.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 2/457)

Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No deeds are more pure to Allah Almighty, nor greater in reward, than good deeds performed in the ten days of the month of sacrificing.” (Source: Sunan al-Dārimī 1774; Hasan (fair) according to Al-Albani)

In reference to the second verse of Surah al-Fajr, where Allah swears by the dawn and “wa layaalin ‘ashr,” Imam Ibn Kathir reported from Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Zubayr, Mujahid and others that “the ten nights” mentioned in this surah are referring to the first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah. 

Altogether, the evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah emphasize the unique importance of the month of Dhu’l Hijjah, and in particular, it’s first ten days. 

Ramadan duas

close up of men hand pure fresh sugar cane juice in plastic cup for Ramadan iftar buffet with Thai food menu. Food set including palm date, sweet and drink. Peopel waiting time for fast breaking. Top view.

Fasting

These are days of increased worship, akin to our increased worship in Ramadan; indeed, we are strongly recommended to fast the first 9 days of Dhu’l Hijjah. 

Hunaydah ibn Khaalid (may Allah be pleased with him) reported from his wife, from one of the wives of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, and may He be pleased with all of them), who said:

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) used to fast the first nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the day of ‘Ashoora’ and three days of every month. (Abu Dawood (2437))

Even if you’re unable to fast all nine days, try to fast at least a few of them, including the Day of ‘Arafah! For women in particular, this is an excellent opportunity to also combine the qadha’ fasts of Ramadan with the increased blessings of these days of Dhu’l Hijjah; for those who have already made up their days (or who plan on making them up later), or for men, it is also encouraged to make the intention for Sunnah fasting on Mondays and Thursdays alongside these days of Dhu’l Hijjah – essentially maximizing the rewards.

Dhikr

The first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah are a time when we have been urged to increase in our tahleel, takbeer, and tahmeed – that is, to recite the shahadah, to say Allahu akbar, and to say alHamdulillah repeatedly. Most of us are familiar with the takbeerat of ‘Eid – this is not just for ‘Eid, but for these days as well. 

Ibn Umar reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“There are no days greater and more beloved to Allah than these ten days of Dhul Hijjah, so increase in them your declaration of the oneness of Allah, your exaltation of Him, and your praise of Him.” (Source: Musnad Aḥmad 5423)

If you have kids (and even if you don’t), a great way to incorporate this and make it part of one’s daily practice is to have the audio of takbeeraat playing on speaker so that everyone can hear it and be accustomed to reciting it as well. Find other creative ways to encourage this practice as well – go for a dhikr walk with your spouse, children, family members, or friends (just don’t turn it into a bid’ah by doing synchronized dhikr or something), or use a planner sheet with designated hourly/ daily goals, or set a timer for yourself (even if it’s just 5 minutes) throughout the day to take a dhikr break. 

Hand holding The Holy Quran on a white background

Qur’an, qiyaam (and other prayers), and sadaqah

Just as in Ramadan, we should be aiming to increase our recitation of the Qur’an, strive to pray qiyaam every night, and give sadaqah every day. You don’t have to do a full khatmah, but look at the goals you accomplished in Ramadan, and compare them to where you are now – and try to bridge the gap. Even if it’s just increasing from half a page of Qur’an to one page, or from two pages to four, or half a juz to a full juz, the rewards will be exponentially multiplied! 

With regards to prayers throughout the day, there are so many ways to increase one’s worship in simple ways. If you find it difficult to pray all your sunan ar-rawaatib (the voluntary prayers attached to the obligatory prayers) every day, challenge yourself to at least pray them during these days! The sunnah of Fajr is especially important, as RasulAllah told us

The two Rak’ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains” (Sahih Muslim). 

Salah adh-Dhuha is another oft-neglected sunnah with amazing rewards. It is an optional two-rakʿah prayer, performed in the time between sunrise and Dhuhr.

The Prophet ﷺ said:

In the morning, every single joint of yours must pay a sadaqah (charity). Every SubhanAllah is a sadaqah, every Alhamdulillāh is a sadaqah, every La Ilaha Illa Allah is a sadaqah, every Allahu Akbar is a sadaqah, every commanding good is a sadaqah, and every forbidding evil is a sadaqah, and all this is accomplished through two rakʿahs one can pray in Duha [prayer].” (Ibn Khuzaymah; authentic according to the conditions of Muslim. Sahih at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (1/164))

The Prophet ﷺ said:

“Whoever prays the Fajr prayer then sits in his place of prayer remembering Allah until sunrise, then prays two rakʿahs, shall be rewarded as if he had performed Hajj and ʿUmrah, with a reward that is complete, complete, complete.” (at-Tirmidhi (586), al-Mundhiri in at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (1/220), and Sahih al-Jāmiʿ (6346))

At night, schedule time after ‘Isha or before Fajr for qiyaam – even just two rak’aat! – just as we scheduled time for taraweeh in Ramadan. 

In the last ten nights of Ramadan, many of us set up a plan where we would give in sadaqah each night. Do the same for the first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah! There are so many causes to give to, whether it is to support local Muslims in need, or contributing to causes such as supporting those in Palestine, Kashmir, Yemen, the Rohingya, the Uighurs, and others. Now more than ever, we cannot forget how many Muslims – in our own cities and towns, as well as overseas – are suffering from starvation, ethnic cleansing, crippling poverty, and more. 

…The first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah are incredibly precious and should not be wasted – its significance in our hearts should be on part with the significance that we give Ramadan, and the attention that we pay to our worship in these ten days should be as our focus in Ramadan. Just as Ramadan provides us with a month’s worth of spiritual struggle and reflection, so too does Dhu’l Hijjah make us pause, reflect upon the meanings of Hajj and incorporating its messages and lessons into our daily lives, and create a spiritual regimen even if we ourselves are not going for Hajj. 

May we all be of those who spend the priceless minutes and hours of the first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah in worship, repentance, and purification; may our deeds be accepted; and may we be of those who revive the sunnah in our lives and encourage it amongst our families, friends, and communities.

Ameen.

The post Reviving The Sacred Months: Dhul Hijjah (Part 1) appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

How To Integrate Classical Arabic Into Public Education

14 July, 2021 - 12:39

A 16-year-old American high school student who wants to study Classical Arabic seriously – that is Arabic used to understand the Quran, hadith, literature, or historical works – has a few options:

  1. Take a year off and either go to an institute that specializes in teaching Classical or travel overseas.
  2. Take an online course on top of the already demanding schedule they have.
  3. Transfer to an Islamic school. (If they are blessed with a good one the school will have good secular studies and Islamic studies.) Unfortunately, many parents have to make the difficult decision of putting their children in a public school due to better secular studies and as a result outsource their Islamic education, many times through an outdated Sunday School system.

For the past decade or so these have been the avenues and options for students who take an interest in Classical Arabic at an earlier age. Each option requires a unique sacrifice. Unfortunately, some do not have the time or finances to make those sacrifices and are limited to the resources around them. So why hasn’t the Muslim American community found a solution to this? There are a few reasons:

  1. Most educational leaders such as principals and superintendents are unaware of the difference between Modern Standard Arabic and Classical Arabic. Simply put, Classical Arabic is similar to Latin in that they have the characteristics of a dead language – a language that is not used in everyday speech and is used mainly for reading and writing purposes. While they both focus on Arabic, the demographics are drastically different. This requires an educational marketing campaign which takes a lot of time and effort.
  2. There are not enough teachers who speak fluent English that can teach Arabic well enough to high school students
  3. There are not enough interested high school students per school in Classical Arabic to warrant a separate class.
  4. Institutes that teach classical Arabic are either primarily focused on teaching communities or working with universities.
  5. Working with the public schooling system is a long process and many times requires accreditation such as Cognia.
  6. By outsourcing Classical Arabic the student only has one source of motivation, their own interest. For this reason they are more likely to not complete the course as that motivation can easily dwindle. Having multiple sources of motivation leads to higher retention rates and is essential for a successful student and course.
What is the solution?
  1. The majority of high schools require foreign language credit. Through this avenue, we can use Classical Arabic courses to fulfill their foreign language credit. All that is needed is an institute that is accredited which can transfer these credits to any high school. In order to do this one has to develop relationships with the high schools. In addition, many high schools require an institute to be accredited by some sort of body to take this relationship seriously.
  2. Instead of wrapping Classical Arabic as an Islamic endeavor, we need to explain it as a cultural and language study. This mode of communication is important for public schools to understand what is being offered. The reason for this is because schools would be more hesitant to accept Islamic studies courses versus language courses.
  3. The goals of Classical Arabic are emphasized more on reading and writing, not speaking and listening. Many times schools will require a speaking and listening portion based on state standards. A way to explain this to schools is by comparing Classical Arabic to Latin. When reviewing many Latin syllabi, it becomes apparent that they too do not focus on speaking and listening, giving an entry way for Classical Arabic.
  4. Accessibility. The silver lining with the Covid-19 pandemic was that online classes became normalized. Because the Muslim community and Arabic learners are spread throughout the country, the best way to get many students with a similar mindset and interest is to have the courses online.

Arabic Daily is attempting to bridge this gap. They have recently been accredited by Cognia, the world-leading accrediting body for high schools. They are in constant communication with high schools around the United States and are accepting their first batch this Fall 2021. A student just needs to fill out the form and Arabic Daily will contact the high school on behalf of the student.

This is a sponsored post

The post How To Integrate Classical Arabic Into Public Education appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

The Marriage Proposal in the Qur’an

12 July, 2021 - 12:15

The pearls of the Qur’an never truly fails to amaze the believer. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qur’an,

إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ
“Indeed in the Qur’an is a reminder for whoever has a heart or who listens while he is present [in mind]. (Surah Qaf; 37)

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) only discusses those things in the Qur’an which we need to know in order for us to traverse through this dunya successfully to Him. Many a time, we find Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) going into detail or mentioning something very clearly, and at other times we find that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) simply touches upon a topic without elaborating. This is because the Qur’an is applicable to each and every single instance, and hence, had Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gone into detail regarding specific things, it would have defeated the purpose of the Qur’an; i.e. being a source of guidance for each and every generation.

Furthermore, whenever Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does go into detail, it is incumbent upon me and you to analyze and ponder over those details, as they have been detailed for a reason. The scholars have divided the themes of the Qur’an into three; 1) Rulings, 2) Belief in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and 3) Stories.

Within this article, I want to focus upon the third division, and in particular, the life of a specific prophet who came before our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). But before that, why does Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even mention the lives of different prophets in the Qur’an?

Yes, we see that every prophet that came to their people came with one message, which was to worship Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), but was that all? That was the prime objective of their conveyance, but you will notice that the prophets’ lives Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) narrates to us in the Qur’an were also sent with social issues they had to tackle that was linked to their disbelief of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

For example, the people of Madyan for whom the Prophet Shuayb 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent, would cheat each other in business transactions because they failed to realize that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would hold them to account for their wrongdoings. As another example, the people of Thamud were a very technologically advanced people; able to design and carve secure abodes within mountains. When Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sent Prophet Salih 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to them, they thought their technical skills would be able to defend themselves against the punishment of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Through these stories, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) shows us that the Qur’an is truly a practical guide. Not only does it help us find Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), it also helps us with those social issues that we have to grapple with in order to live our lives as Muslims.

In this article, I want to highlight an issue from the life of the most discussed Prophet of the Qur’an: Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in his Book, narrates in great depth the life of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him); his upbringing, the optimism his mother embodied, how he became a Prophet, how travelled from Egypt to Madyan, and his dealings with Banu Israel among many other things. However, one of the most amazing things about the Qur’an is how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) details for us the marriage proposal of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and how he got married. The timeless institution of marriage needs no in-depth discussion, but nowhere else do we find this in the Qur’an regarding any other prophet of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) except in the life of Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions in a passage within Surah Qasas:

وَلَمَّا وَرَدَ مَاءَ مَدْيَنَ وَجَدَ عَلَيْهِ أُمَّةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ يَسْقُونَ وَوَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمُ امْرَأَتَيْنِ تَذُودَانِ ۖ قَالَ مَا خَطْبُكُمَا ۖ قَالَتَا لَا نَسْقِي حَتَّىٰ يُصْدِرَ الرِّعَاءُ ۖ وَأَبُونَا شَيْخٌ كَبِيرٌ

“And when he came to the well of Madyan, he found there a crowd of people watering [their flocks], and he found aside from them two women driving back [their flocks]. He said, ‘What is your circumstance?’ They said, ‘We do not water until the shepherds dispatch [their flocks]; and our father is an old man.’” (Surah Qasas; 23)

فَسَقَىٰ لَهُمَا ثُمَّ تَوَلَّىٰ إِلَى الظِّلِّ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

“So he watered [their flocks] for them; then he went back to the shade and said, ‘My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.’” (Surah Qasas; 24)

فَجَاءَتْهُ إِحْدَاهُمَا تَمْشِي عَلَى اسْتِحْيَاءٍ قَالَتْ إِنَّ أَبِي يَدْعُوكَ لِيَجْزِيَكَ أَجْرَ مَا سَقَيْتَ لَنَا ۚ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُ وَقَصَّ عَلَيْهِ الْقَصَصَ قَالَ لَا تَخَفْ ۖ نَجَوْتَ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

“Then one of the two women came to him walking with shyness. She said, “Indeed, my father invites you that he may reward you for having watered for us.” So when he came to him and related to him the story, he said, ‘Fear not. You have escaped from the wrongdoing people.’” (Surah Qasas; 25)

قَالَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا يَا أَبَتِ اسْتَأْجِرْهُ ۖ إِنَّ خَيْرَ مَنِ اسْتَأْجَرْتَ الْقَوِيُّ الْأَمِينُ

“One of the women said, ‘O my father, hire him. Indeed, the best one you can hire is the strong and the trustworthy.’” (Surah Qasas; 26)

قَالَ إِنِّي أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُنكِحَكَ إِحْدَى ابْنَتَيَّ هَاتَيْنِ عَلَىٰ أَن تَأْجُرَنِي ثَمَانِيَ حِجَجٍ ۖ فَإِنْ أَتْمَمْتَ عَشْرًا فَمِنْ عِندِكَ ۖ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَيْكَ ۚ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ

“He said, ‘Indeed, I wish to marry you one of my two daughters, on [the condition] that you serve me for eight years; but if you complete ten, it will be [as a favor] from you. And I do not wish to put you in difficulty. You will find me, if Allah wills, from among the righteous.’” (Surah Qasas; 27)

Just from these few verses, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) teaches us etiquettes of giving and receiving marriage proposals. Despite our cultures being different on how proposals are given and received, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has beautifully outlined this event in the life of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to show us that the Islamic perspective of the marriage proposal is practical for all times. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in this passage of Surah Qasas, outlines for us an event which took place during the life of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him).

When Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) accidentally killed the Coptic Egyptian man, he fled for his life to Madyan where he came across two women who had a flock of sheep but had difficulty controlling their herd. In front of them, there were men who were watering their flocks, and so when Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) inquired as to why they remained behind, the women informed him that the flock belonged to their father and that because of his old age, the responsibility fell on both sisters to water their father’s flock of sheep. Furthermore, as they did not want to mix with men, they waited patiently for them to finish for when they could take their turn.

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) without questioning, grabs hold of the flock and takes them to the water. He then does not utter a single word and goes to seek shade, supplicating to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for goodness. When those two women return to their father and explain what happened, their father requested one of his daughters to go and call Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in order to reward him for his chivalry.

One of the daughters then goes to invite Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to meet their father. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions that the woman instructed by her father walked shyly towards Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). This is a beautiful characteristic that the believer should embody especially in a time where shyness is frowned upon. In the context of marriage, the true Muslimah is the one who displays shyness as it is a virtue. Do not think that you have to be outspoken and need to be heard in order for marriage proposals to come your way, but rather, the real Muslim believer is the one who desires to marry a woman of shyness as it is innate within the fitrah.

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) accepts the invitation and goes back to the father of these two women and explains his situation. One of the women (many scholars say it was the woman who went to invite Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)) requested her father to hire him because of two characteristics Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) displayed; trustworthiness and strength. To this, the father not just offers Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) a job, but he also makes him a marriage proposal for his daughter.

At this juncture, we can see how the daughter was interested in Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), how -through her beautiful etiquette of shyness-, she hinted at her interest of marrying Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). If Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) were to be hired to work for the father, it is only befitting he marries his daughter to him as he will have to work around her.

Many a time we restrict our youth -our sons and daughters- from marrying or we prevent them for marrying whom they wish to marry because we think we know best whom they should marry. In many cultures, it is unfortunately frowned upon if a woman hints her interest respectfully in wanting to marry a man. But if we look at this passage in Surah Qasas, it is completely the opposite.

The Qur’an should be sufficient for the believer above every type of culture. The fact that your daughter approaches you hinting interest in marrying a particular brother like the woman in Surah Qasas is a sign of goodness as she recognises the boundaries of the Shari’ah and the important role the Wali has. Did not our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) receive a marriage proposal from Khadijah after she was impressed by his trustworthiness and beautiful character? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qur’an:

إِن وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلنَّبِيِّ

“and a believing woman if she gives herself to the Prophet” (Surah Ahzab; 50)

This verse was revealed pertaining to a woman who came to propose directly for herself to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) looked up at her and informed her that he was not interested in marriage. Did the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) rebuke her for approaching him? Did he scold her for not embodying shyness? No, because the woman had a genuine interest in wanting to marry the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and hence, she went the correct way of approaching the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). However, if a Muslimah who shows interest in marrying a man is extremely bashful to approach them directly, they may send a friend, relative, or even their father to give a proposal.

Likewise, if a Muslim brother sees a Muslim sister at work or university and is impressed by their level of Islamic character, he may approach her in order to give a proposal and get into contact with her guardian. Again, if he is shy or feels it may be awkward, he can always send someone to do so on his behalf. If a Muslim man praises you and requests to get into contact with your guardian, then it is a sign of goodness and veneration of the shari’ah of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). By no means does this article endorse free mixing, but rather, the objective of this article is to highlight the beauty and the balance of the shari’ah and the practicality of the Qur’an and how it sheds light on issues we may think are not connected with our religion. When it comes to proposals, the shari’ah is flexible and not rigid, as we find with many other situations, and so acknowledges that every situation is not the same.

That having been said, the key takeaway is to show us that the Qur’an highlights that shyness is a quality embodied by the believer; a quality that is sought for when searching for a partner. For men, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) specifically mentions two characteristics in this passage of Surah Qasas which are desired for marriage; trustworthiness and strength. Being trustworthy in fulfilling your duties, and having that strength and zeal primarily in worshipping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and then physical strength. If these two characteristics can be fulfilled, the path to marriage becomes much easier.

Despite arranged marriages being a part of many cultures, we should not shun proposals brought to the table by our sons and daughters with regards to their marriage. Lastly, if you struggling with marriage and all proposals seem to be rejected, or if you lack the courage to send a proposal, utilize the du’a Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) supplicated with, for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) then blessed Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) with a job, a spouse, a family, shelter, safety and security, and the greatest blessing of them all: prophethood. All from a single du’a:

رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

‘My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.’ (Surah Qassas; 24)

The post The Marriage Proposal in the Qur’an appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Cars4Jannah: Creating New Dreams With Old Cars

7 July, 2021 - 14:17

Have you ever thought to use your old car to fulfill your dream of a better world? Cars4Jannah is pumping cash into Islamic organizations to help fuel their missions across the nation. 

“[Cars4Jannah] funnels Muslim money back into the Muslim community through car donations. Instead of donating cars to the Salvation Army, Kars4Kids, or Goodwill, [Cars4Jannah] is here to help your community turn their old cars into cash,” said Hadi Joyowidarbo, Cars4Jannah Program Manager. “Our mission is to help bring in additional revenue for all masajid and Muslim non-profit organizations across America,” he continued.

Cars4Jannah offers a financially sound alternative to competing non-Muslim car donation programs; one which emulates Islamic principles and consciously invests in the prosperity of the Muslim community. 

“Our [Muslim] institutions are struggling. We should be recycling our money back into our community as much as we can. It’s really high time. Other groups have been doing this for decades. We [Muslims] have to start thinking big,” said Minhaj Hasan, director of Dar-us-Salaam’s Donor Care Office.

The donation process is completed within 24-48 hours. Once the donor submits their donation through the Cars4Jannah site, a local tow company retrieves the vehicle and its title. “[The donation process] was very good, very quick, and simple, and the process with the tow truck was very easy as well so I would highly recommend it,” said donor Shaukat Khan of Maryland. 

Once towed, the condition and mileage of the donated vehicle is analyzed by a national broker. On average, Cars4Jannah receives $350 per car. Then, Cars4Jannah receives a check and forwards 70% of the proceeds to the donor’s intended Islamic project, and the donor is sent a tax receipt. 

“[The donation process] is good and what is [even better] is the fact that this donation will help to generate funds for the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati to help people in need,” added donor Shariq Tariq of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. 

Cars4Jannah ensures transparency and Islamic business practices. Partner organizations receive detailed alerts whenever a car is donated through their Cars4Jannah portal, and once the car donation is completed, donors receive IRS required forms for their taxes. Money from the sale of the donated car is split 70% for the partner organization and 30% to sustain Cars4Jannah, a higher percentage split than other car donation partnerships.

“We’re trying to pull ourselves up at Dar-us-Salaam, but while we’re trying to pull ourselves up at Dar-us-Salaam, we are also pulling other masajid up, even if it’s in a small way,” said Hasan. The pleasure of Allah remains intrinsic to the organization’s success; the fuel powering the Cars4Jannah mission. 

“$1,000 for a small masjid in Kentucky might mean a huge amount [for them]. That might be their monthly expense,” added Hasan. 

Cars4Jannah partners are provided with access to the Cars4Jannah management system, a landing page, and personalized social media graphics to advertise within their community. “[Cars4Jannah] guides you on how to handle the whole process from A to Z. They make your job so easy. All your marketing materials are done by them. This is the easiest way to get donations. I did not have to contact the donor. I just advertised and Cars4Jannah took care of the rest,” said Fouzia Haddad, Cars4Jannah partner and Director of Enrollment and Marketing at Al-Falah Academy in Georgia.

Cars4Jannah has accumulated 50 partners nationwide and expects significant growth within the next year. “Some of the partners we have are the Council on American-Islamic Relations Los Angeles, the Muslim Legal Fund of America, and Helping Hand for Relief and Development,” said Cars4Jannah’s Hadi Joyowidarbo. Extending a welcoming hand, Cars4Jannah partners range from Islamic schools, to relief organizations, to social service organizations, and civil rights organizations. 

 “I feel good that we are trying to solicit the pleasure and the help of Allah by helping others while we are helping ourselves, and Allah really loves that. Allah says that as long as you keep helping your brother or your sister He will keep helping you,” said Dar-us-Salaam’s Hasan.

As additional Islamic projects board the organization’s mission, Cars4Jannah paves the road to paradise.

To find out how to join the ride, visit cars4jannah.com

The post Cars4Jannah: Creating New Dreams With Old Cars appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.