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Dreams of My Grandfather: Celebrating the Life of Professor Ghulam Azam

Muslim Matters - 31 October, 2014 - 09:33

Written by Abu Aisha

 

On Saturday 1st Muharram 1436 (Oct 25th 2014), hundreds of thousands of well-wishers converged on the streets of Dhaka to bid farewell to one of the most recognizable faces of Islam in Bangladesh, Professor Ghulam Azam.

In this short piece, I would like to present an insider's perspective into my beloved grandfather's household. Though I live abroad now, for some years of my childhood and youth, I was honored to live under the same roof as this illustrious Islamic scholar and remarkably influential da'iya.

 

His life

My grandfather was born in 1922 into a scholarly family with a lineage in which every one of his known forefathers was an Islamic scholar. However, his father, the Qadhi of Dhaka of his day, recognizing that Islamic scholarship had now become institutionally marginalized, and that graduating from traditional Islamic seminaries no longer provided careers for individuals who could shape and influence society, opted to send his son to a conventional educational institute, while providing him with a very thorough grounding in the Shari'a sciences. Thus when he eventually made it to Dhaka University, he enrolled in the Arabic program only to find that his knowledge of Arabic was beyond anything the University had to offer.

At University, he also became politically active and was a major force in the Bengali language movement that campaigned to have Bengali recognized as an official language in what was then East Pakistan, shortly after the independence of Pakistan. Early in his career, my grandfather was also a member of the Tabligh Jamaat movement, which he would later leave for the more politically active Jamaat Islami, though he always maintained the spiritual values instilled in him from his time with the former group.

 

His character

My grandfather was a very softly-spoken man, remarkably for someone known for powerful oratory. Possessed of a kind-heart, he had an ever present smile. He particularly loved young children, and went out of his way to play and make conversation with them. He would often say that little children are like lamps that bring life to homes. I have many fond memories of his affection and kindness to me as a child, and to ghulam-azamthe many other children in my extended family who loved to rest in his arms, or indeed, enjoy his enthusiastically playing with them!

But he was also concerned with his grandchildren's Islamic education. I remember one Ramadan, during which he was in his annual i'itikaf, when he organized nightly lessons for all his grandchildren in the masjid frequented by the family. At other times, I remember him taking the time to teach me how to pray as a young child. Despite leading the largest Islamic political movement in Bangladesh, constantly traveling, lecturing, and meeting with people, he did not neglect his household, but rather gave as much time to us as was humanly possible.

This was only possible due to his very disciplined lifestyle. He ate moderately, exercised regularly, and generally lived a remarkably ascetic lifestyle for a personage of his stature. When he was home, I never saw him miss the iqama in the mosque. Even in old age, he hired a personal assistant to arrive at his home so that he could walk assisted to the mosque well before the beginning of the jama'a prayers. He closely followed a timetable that would allow him to sleep shortly after Isha prayers so that he (and my grandmother) would be able to wake up before Fajr to pray tahajjud prayers each night. There was never a time that I passed their room late at night, except that I saw them both in prayer—a practice they have had for decades.

 

Recent persecution as a political prisoner

Of course, recent years had been particularly difficult for my grandparents. Driven primarily by political calculation, the current Awami League government of Bangladesh has targeted the main opposition parties in an effort to hold on to power. Jamaat Islami, the Islamic political party that my grandfather had led, for decades, had played the role of kingmaker in the first two elections of the 2000s. So long as the Jamaat was in play, Awami League could not dethrone the coalition government. To counter them, Awami League resorted to dredging up the emotive issue of the bloody birth of Bangladesh in the 1971 Liberation War.

Jamaat had openly campaigned against secession which was strongly backed by India at the time. India had been at war with Pakistan just six years earlier, and was enthusiastic about the prospect of what would have been the secession of East Pakistan from Pakistan. As it turned out, West Pakistan used indiscriminate and brutal force against East Pakistan's population to bring them to heel precipitating a civil war whose conclusion can only be described as the Liberation of Bangladesh from the oppression of the then illegitimate government of West Pakistan and its military.

During the war, while he campaigned publicly against the breaking up of a united Pakistan, he was very sharp in his criticism of the military in his interactions with the Pakistani authorities. In one instance, when some members of the Pakistani political and military leadership tried to meet with him, he so vehemently rebuked them for their extreme and gratuitous brutality that the people present feared he would be killed by them. He was not one to fear for his life when speaking truth to power—the highest form of jihad.

Despite this, because of Jamaat's campaigning against secession, the current ruling party in Bangladesh began a concerted PR campaign in the 2000s to brand the organization and its leaders traitors. By 2009, the campaign had succeeded in attracting a large youthful demographic, consisting of people who were not even alive during the war, to vote in the present ruling party. This gave them the opportunity to establish a highly politicized tribunal for trying 'war crimes' the evidence for which is so thin that it has frequently been a cause of embarrassment for those supporting it.

The tribunal, which was in and of itself a potential force for good as a kind of “truth and reconciliation commission,” has been repeatedly criticized by innumerable international bodies. These include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, to name but a few. The politically motivated nature of the tribunal has been recognized by all independent observers who have taken the time to study it. However, Bangladesh's relative geopolitical insignificance has left its domestic happenings as little more than a blip in the international news cycle, most of which is simply taken in by the narrative that is pushed by the largely anti-Islamic media outlets in Bangladesh. Thus my grandfather's ludicrous conviction, which was castigated in a detailed report by Human Rights Watch, made barely a ripple in the international community. And now before the appeals process could begin to show the world the complete lack of any evidentiary basis for such a conviction, he passes from this world bearing this defamatory conviction.

 

His martyrdom and legacy

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) likens the believers in their mutual affection and love for one another to a single body. “If part of it is in pain, the rest of it suffers in fever and sleeplessness.” The concerns of the Muslims are many in our times. My grandfather's passing is a single death that pales in comparison to the hundreds and thousands that have passed in Syria and elsewhere in the Muslim world in recent years. But it is important that we give our great scholars and leaders their due to the extent that we can.

It was with great sadness that our family learnt that my grandfather had died in prison. His condition had become critical weeks ago, but the government, which had imprisoned him for his political views, showed no clemency despite repeated calls from international leaders and institutions that he be released on compassionate grounds. He breathed his last at 10:10 pm on Thursday night (i.e. the night of Jum'a) on the eve of the Islamic New Year, in the presence of only a handful of his family members.

Yet, my grandfather had expressed his desire for martyrdom in an interview he gave shortly before his arrest in January 2012. He was not wanting in experience—he had spent many years of his career as a political prisoner. In the end, it seems that Allah blessed him by granting him what he wished for, even if his family would have liked him to be at home in their care.

My grandfather left many written works, most of them in Bengali, including many short works that were oriented towards the everyday needs of Muslims in their worship and their religious activism. But perhaps more importantly, he touched the hearts of millions in Bangladesh and around the world as someone who drew them closer to Allah, and instilled in them a desire to realize a society in which the word of Allah would be the most high.

 

May Allah accept him as a martyr in his path, forgive him all his shortcomings, and enter him into paradise without reckoning.

The post Dreams of My Grandfather: Celebrating the Life of Professor Ghulam Azam appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Israel reopens al-Aqsa mosque compound before Friday prayers

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 October, 2014 - 09:21
Rare closure followed fatal police shooting of Palestinian suspected of having been the attempted killer of a rabbi

Israel reopened the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Friday before the weekly Muslim prayers, after a rare closure following clashes sparked by the killing by police of a Palestinian shooting suspect.

The streets of east Jerusalem were calm before midday prayers, following an Israeli clampdown on the shrine on Thursday.

Continue reading...

Friday Links | October 31, 2014

Muslimah Media Watch - 31 October, 2014 - 06:00
Despite international condemnation and protest, last weekend Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged in Iran for killing her rapist. Later this week an opposition groups shared her powerful last message. French (visible) Muslim women are facing increasingly violent harassment, often connected to the country’s attitude towards religious garb, and Muslim head coverings in particular. Palestinian women have [Read More...]

Neo-Atheism Attacks: Thoughts on Cenk Uygur / Sam Harris Discussion on Religious Violence in Islam

Muslim Matters - 31 October, 2014 - 02:11

Background

The latest round of neo-atheist criticisms leveled at our faith that have gone viral in past weeks have come from comedian Bill Maher and neuroscientist Sam Harris while the most prominent responses have come from Reza Aslan, Ben Affleck, and Glenn Greenwald who is generally critical of a number of Harris's positions.  The discussion has hinged loosely around a number of topics, ranging from clarifying true liberal doctrine to accusations of anti-Muslim bigotry.

At the heart of the discussion are questions about the religion of Islam itself and what impact this has on how Muslims think and act around the world.  How should the rest of the modern world view us, and what criticisms are (or aren't) fair game, either for the religion or its adherents?

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks (TYT) recently conducted a three hour interview / discussion / debate with Sam Harris, asking him to either clarify misunderstandings or justify his positions on what has been accurately represented and criticized.  It's rare to find an open, unmoderated discussion of this type where disagreement is respected and each party is happy to go back and forth on each point without the constraints of time.  The discussion lasted 3 hours and the post that follows are my own thoughts after having watched it.  It will not be a point-by-point discussion / response, simply my own thoughts on what I've seen online of this discussion and placing it context with the others.

Cenk Uygur and Sam Harris Discussion

To summarize, Harris believes at this point in our history, Islam more uniquely predisposes its adherents towards violence because there is a clear line between text to practice.  He calls the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) a conqueror, unlike Jesus (and strangely neglects Moses in this discussion), and cites the expansion of the Muslim empire under the doctrine of jihad as his evidence. Cenk Uygur is not the counterfoil stating “Islam means peace” or some other recycled feelgood sound byte.  He is himself a former Muslim, and an agnostic.  He agrees with Harris that Islam, the religion and its texts, contain many problematic ideas, ideas which caused him to leave the faith.  However, he disagrees with Harris that Islam and Muslims are in any way uniquely predisposed towards violence over all other faiths.  He instead argues that while the faith may act as a motivator for action, it is largely geo-political and cultural concerns which drive Muslim antipathy towards the West in some Muslim nations and peoples vs others.  He also argues that historically, Muslims have been more tolerant towards other faiths and have caused far less deaths than Christianity.  Elsewhere, Aslan has argued Harris is not an expert on religion, his readings of religious text are excessively literalist, and that interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, that the reader determines the meaning of the text rather than the text having an unequivocal understanding, hence the overwhelmingly peaceful 1.6 billion Muslims who do not act as al-Qa'ida or ISIS does.

Thoughts on Sam Harris's Positions

While I am a card-carrying conservative / fundamentalist Muslim myself, I find points I can agree on with Aslan and Uygur.  I do believe Harris's lack of academic credentials, either from an Islamic seminary or from an accredited secular academic institution have caused him to read the sacred texts with as much insight and depth as any novice who reads and misunderstands because they lack the tools required for proper interpretation, which is why I can agree to an extent with the charge that they share the same interpretive framework as those who join al-Qaida and ISIS when discussing our faith's position on military action.

Having said that, I don't agree that it is simply the reader who gives meaning to the text and not the reverse.  For that matter, I don't see that most Muslims even read the texts, perform an interpretation, and then carry on with their lives having interpreted “peace” from the verses of the Qur'an dealing with warfare.  I believe it's fair to say many who work in the field of community spiritual development lament that few Muslims read the Qur'an except in Arabic, a language most don't understand, and fewer still read the translation.  Many are happy to set the bar low and ask that they simply follow the basics such as praying 5 times daily.  I don't believe the line between mass interpretation and peaceful daily living exists.

Does that mean if everyone started reading the texts they would become violent?  Harris wants to argue that were people to follow the texts, they would have no choice but to do so.  In this point he is criticized for literalism, but I don't believe literalism is the problem.  Even in literalism, multiple literal meanings and conclusions can be taken from a text.  What restricts us from taking any literal meaning is that the revelation of the Qur'an is inextricably tied to both the events that occurred during the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his explanation of those words, as well as the explanation of those closest to him, the Companions, and scholars who dealt with them.

In my view, Harris selectively recognizes this.  He points to “kill them where you find them”, but is forced to concede that these words were not followed literally, that Muslims didn't do that, that they didn't simply kill everyone who came in their path, be they Jew, Christian, or otherwise.  Where he fails, however, is in discussing when and why those verses were revealed.  He doesn't discuss the prohibition on further aggression if hostilities cease, nor does he discuss that Mecca had attacked the nascent Madinan Muslim state on numerous occasions and broken treaties before its bloodless conquest by Prophet Muhammad's ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) armies.  In general, he fails to properly juxtapose the Quranic text upon the backdrop of the seerah and the Sunnah.  He's certainly not the first to commit this error, nor will he be the last.

We can even find instances of this type of mistake, of interpreting without context, among the generation directly after the passing of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Consider the following narration from 'Urwa, the nephew of Prophet Muhammad's ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) wife 'Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), discussing his interpretation of a verse with her, and her correction:

I asked 'Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), “How do you interpret the statement of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), '(The mountains) as-Safa and al-Marwa are among the symbols of God, and it is not harmful for the one performing Hajj or Umrah to do Tawaf between them'.  By God, (clearly), there is no harm if one doesn't perform tawaf between Safa and Marwa.”

'Aisha replied, “My nephew, your interpretation isn't true.  Had it been correct, Allah's statement would have read, “It is not harmful for him if he doesn't perform Tawaf between them.”  In reality, this was revealed concerning the Ansar who used to assume Ihram to worship an idol known as “Manat” which was worshiped in a place called al-Mushallal before they embraced Islam.  Whoever assumed Ihram (for the idol) would consider it incorrect to perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa.

When they embraced Islam, they asked the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about it, stating, “We used to refrain from Tawaf between Safa and Marwa.”  (Because of this), Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) revealed, '(The mountains) as-Safa and al-Marwa are among the symbols of God.' ”

Aisha then added, “Surely, the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) set the tradition of tawaf between safa and marwa, so nobody is allowed to omit the tawaf between them.”

Take a good look at where 'Urwa is before 'Aisha's raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) explanation.  He reads the words as they are and comes to a conclusion regarding their meaning.  The problem 'Urwa has isn't one of literalism, but of contextualizing what drove the revelation.  The close contemporaries, of Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the Companions, are there to help clarify the meaning rather than allowing it to wander wherever our imagination takes us.  If Harris et al are sincere in their thoughts about “redeeming” Islam, then they first ought to read it correctly, to try and understand why so many Muslim scholars, academics, jurists, and experts worldwide of any number of stripes have condemned ISIS and others like them so forcefully.  If ISIS is so correct in their interpretation, what are the rest missing?

This is why Harris's proposition, that one should be able to place the texts with a group of remote people who can read and interpret, makes absolutely no sense.  While we believe the message is perfect and complete, we make no assumptions about the perfection of those interpreting.  We expect human factors can cause mistakes, some small and some very large, and the more divorced one is from formal study, the more likely they are to hold strange views that don't reconcile with the rest of the Muslim scholarly community.  Because of such human factors, we also expect that even if a people had all the information they needed, they would still make mistakes, fall into war, possibly implement part of all of the message at their convenience, or neglect parts of it out of personal weakness.

This is a good point to mention our ideal expectation of textual interpretation – while it is very true we expect difference among qualified interpreters, starting with the Companions themselves, we also expect underlying the attempt is a best effort to provide the Creator's intended meaning, whether or not we find it socially or politically convenient.  Many of us do not view the texts and sciences of interpretation as a vehicle to subvert intended meanings and practices, but as a best effort attempt to reach the truth, bearing in mind mistakes can be made and those mistakes are forgiven provided the intention of the qualified interpreter was truth seeking and teaching.  Note that I am highlighting the word “qualified” (i.e. trained) repeatedly because we have an unfortunate boom in interpretation from unqualified individuals providing fatwa, among them those in ISIS and al-Qaida, as well as the Sam Harrises of the world.

Thoughts on Missing Voices

Perhaps what is most unsettling about these discussions for many Muslims isn't that they are occurring, but that we lack representation from standard, practicing, classically trained Muslim leaders.  While I appreciate the support we get from both Cenk Uygur or Reza Aslan, the message then becomes that moderate Islam is essentially leaving it altogether and simply affiliating with the community by name, but not belief or socially frowned upon practices, that the texts are man-made, imperfect, and quite possibly irrelevant for modernity.

It's not easy sitting through Uygur stating “Islam sucks” or its texts suck and that's why he left the faith.  Granted, he was raised in a school system that taught secularism in military fashion, but ultimately “Islam isn't worse than all other faiths, it's equally as bad, so don't discriminate” should be a non-starter, yet there it is because the bar is so low.  Likewise with Aslan's thoughts on religion as simply being man-made, that it is all language or metaphors, or that it is malleable, moves the discussion in the direction many would be uncomfortable with, that being to subvert or ignore texts at one's convenience.  I am in agreement with Aslan that we should acknowledge groups like ISIS / ISIL / Da'eesh are Muslims, but we should also be able to decisively demonstrate utter misinterpretation, referencing past and present religious scholarship in the same manner 'Abdullah ibn Abbas was able to successfully argue with and convince a large number of khawarij that their own interpretations were wrong.

I realize the problem inherent in making this request.  In doing so, you'll have to wade into a number of politically difficult discussions.  You will be forced to discuss matters found in the texts that are not simply about modern interpretation, but classic interpretation as well.  You will be forced to answer both  correctly in terms of content as well as in a style of delivery that conveys the correctness of the point. However, if those trained keep quiet, then the questions will be raised, and while the Reza Aslans and Cenk Uygurs will be able to deflect the human element side of the argument, they like others will not be able to answer for the texts and the actions that came with those texts, and why.  I realize there is fear for many conservative Muslim leaders to come out and speak for fear of government persecution, but so be it, as inheritors of the Prophets, you take not only the knowledge, but the responsibility of it and the consequences of delivery, something all Prophets did, so I suggest you make your peace with it and get out there – the community needs you.

Conclusion

Have you watched the debates and discussions about Islam and religious violence?  What are your own thoughts about these discussions?

The post Neo-Atheism Attacks: Thoughts on Cenk Uygur / Sam Harris Discussion on Religious Violence in Islam appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

UC Berkeley student group votes to disinvite Bill Maher; college overturns it

Loon Watch - 30 October, 2014 - 22:35

University-of-California-Berkeley

via. IslamophobiaWatch

The controversy over having TV host Bill Maher speak at the University of California Berkeley has taken another turn. Well, make that two.

If you remember, the outspoken comedian was selected as the school’s 2014 fall commencement speaker, until students incensed by his anti-religious comments – particularly his views on Islam – started a petition to have him removed.

On Tuesday night, the student group that’s tasked with selecting commencement speakers met and voted to withdraw Maher’s invitation.

That would have been the end of the matter except the very next day, the college said it won’t honor the vote. “This university has not in the past and will not in the future shy away from hosting speakers who some deem provocative,” the school said.

The student group is called The Californians. It’s a committee of undergrads whose role is to come up with graduation speakers. In August, the Californians selected Maher. On Tuesday, it decided to unselect him.

But the college says the Tuesday night meeting was held without administration participation. “The UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision, which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech,” the school said in a statement.

It added that the school’s decision shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement of Maher’s views. “Indeed, the administration’s position on Mr. Maher’s opinions and perspectives is irrelevant in this context.” As so, it said, the invitation stands; Maher will speak at the December event.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations expressed disappointment at the college’s ruling, saying it disrespected students “by casting aside the long-standing process for selecting commencement speakers and instead imposing its own will.

“While Mr. Maher has the right to speak whenever and wherever he likes, he does not have the right to have his hate-filled views honored and tacitly endorsed by a prestigious university,” said Zahra Billoo, of the group’s San Francisco chapter.

For his part, Maher’s keeping mum. “Every news outlet asking me 4 comment on this Berkeley thing but then i remembered: I’VE got a show!And thats where I’ll address it,Fri nite,” he tweeted.

CNN, 30 October 2014

See also “Bill Maher’s UC Berkeley speaking invitation rescinded by student group, but school won’t allow it”, CBS San Francisco, 29 October 2014

Al-Aqsa mosque closure sparks outrage amongst both Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem - video

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 October, 2014 - 18:34
The closure of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque sparks protests outside the holy site on Thursday. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, called the closure a 'declaration of war', while Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netenyahu, condemned Abbas's comments as incitement. The mosque has been closed to all visitors following an attempted murder of a far-right rabbi, Yehuda Glick Continue reading...

Israel closes Al-Aqsa mosque compound to all visitors

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 October, 2014 - 18:15
Closure of Temple Mount site denounced by Mahmoud Abbas as tantamount to a declaration of war

Israel on Thursday ordered the first full closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalems Old City in 14 years, in a move denounced by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as tantamount to a declaration of war.

The closure of the religious site, venerated by both Muslims and Jews, came after anti-terrorist police shot dead a 32-year-old Palestinian man on Thursday morning who was suspected of having tried to kill a far-right Jewish activist the night before.

Continue reading...

Nigerian prosecutors may seek death penalty for child bride

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 October, 2014 - 17:20
Trial of Wasila Tasiu, 14, accused of murdering 35-year-old husband, sparks debate in Nigeria about underage marriage

Nigerian prosecutors said they may seek the death penalty against a 14-year-old girl accused of murdering her 35-year-old husband by putting rat poison in his food.

The trial of Wasila Tasiu, from a poor northern Nigerian family, has sparked a heated debate on the role of underage marriage in the conservative Muslim region, especially whether an adolescent girl can consent to be a bride.

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UAE's leading role against Isis reveals its wider ambitions

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 October, 2014 - 06:59

Emiratis, who have played a role in US-led attacks on Islamic State, are increasingly assertive in fightback against jihadism

Major Mariam al-Mansouri, a female pilot with the UAE air force, played the starring role in a publicity stunt last month when she was photographed in the cockpit of the F16 fighter she had flown in the first wave of US-led attacks on targets of the Islamic State in Syria (Isis).

Thumbs up and beaming for the camera, it was a striking image that combined empowered Muslim women, the Arab fightback against jihadi extremism and the pride of the small but wealthy Gulf state that is flaunting a new-found assertiveness and promoting its political agenda in a region in profound turmoil.

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This Islamic New Year Pay Off Your House

Muslim Matters - 30 October, 2014 - 04:30

By imam Tahir Anwar

This message is for people who are homeowners and make good money.

I've never understood why people don't pay off their homes. I've never understood why people only make the minimum monthly payments, so they are enslaved to the financial institution for the entire period of the loan at times for 30 years. I've never understood why some senseless people have barakah-free interest only loans?

The tech industry is an unforgiving industry. Once you reach a certain age, and there are younger people who can replace you at half your cost, you will be out of a job. Over the years, I've witnessed many people lose their homes after periods of unemployment; they lose their well-paying jobs and often cannot find another one. These are people who made good money, but were busy spending it on cars, vacations and God knows what else.

[A few months ago], I spent between Maghrib and Isha with an uncle, who has earned a large amount over the year—on occasion in access of a million dollars annually. A generous man, who supported his entire family overseas—purchased each of them homes— and assisted widows for many years. He's been out of a job for over a year, and can't find another. He lives in a large home, which he now must sell. He's having a hard time selling it. He was in tears, fearing that he would be on the street with his wife and (young) kids.

I reassured him that it would not happen, but honestly I was asking myself: Why didn't he use some of his money to pay off his home that he's lived in for almost 20 years? This way, one of his largest monthly expenses could have been avoided. He could have rented the house and moved into a smaller place, providing him with income in hard times.

This is the story of many people in our communities.

Lynnette Khalfani (The Money Coach) in her book “Zero Debt,” says that: “Debt is the longest-lasting economic curse, the most heinous financial plague, and the least recognized form of modern slavery afflicting Americans (and others around the World) this millennium.”

My advice, let's call it an investment strategy, is at the least, secure your home. This is your best investment, not your 401K, not your stocks and not even your rental properties, if your primary residence isn't paid off. This is a faith-based principle of building wealth.

A small home that you own is far better than a larger home that the bank owns. The peace of mind that accompanies this, especially for your family, is priceless.

Some will point out the tax advantages they enjoy on the interest/profit they pay. However, these advantages often aren't all they are touted to be (if the interest on your mortgage is less than the standard deduction, you aren't even getting an additional tax benefit) and there is always talk in every administration of taking away the home mortgage interest deduction. Plus, imagine the benefits you will enjoy from Allah, when you are debt-free, and for many, interest-free.

I end with 2 du'as that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us.

1) One he taught to Abu Umamah Ansari, who recited it, and said that Allah removed his worry and relieved him of his debt.

“Say, in the morning and evening, '“Allaahumma inni a'oodhu bika min al-hammi wa'l-hazani, wa a'oodhi bika min al-'ajzi wa'l-kasali, wa a'oodhu bika min al-jubni wa'l-bukhli, wa a'oodhi bika min ghalabat il-dayn wa qahri al-rijaal (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, and I seek refuge with You from incapacity and laziness, and I seek refuge with You from cowardice and miserliness, and I seek refuge with You from being heavily in debt and from being overcome by men).”

2) Allahumma ikfini bi halalika 'an haramik, wa aghnini bi fadhlika 'amman siwaak. (O Allah, save me from haram and make the halal sufficient and by your favor, make me free from others)

These words were spoken by Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) when a person expressed a shortfall in his wealth to Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), he said: Shall I not show you what the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught me, even if there is a debt equal to that of a huge mountain, Allah will pay it. Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) then recited this du'a.

The post This Islamic New Year Pay Off Your House appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Was Aaisya (AS) Tolerating Domestic Abuse?| Living Islam for Today’s Women

Muslim Matters - 30 October, 2014 - 04:00

This video is addressed to women in a domestic abuse situation, especially those who are advised to stay in situation misusing the concept of tawakkul and du'a. Men, who are also facing abusive situations, may also benefit.

Domestic Violence: Was Aasiyah ('alayha salam) tolerating martial abuse? Part of a video series on issues related to females and teens, presented by Umm Reem, exclusively for MuslimMatters.org.

You may also find the following of interest:

The End to Hitting Women: Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence | imam Abdullah Hasan

Nour Domestic Violence Awareness Week | Abdullah Hasan

Domestic Violence: Why Women Endure?

Unspoken for: The Unheard Victims of Domestic Violence  Part 1

Domestic Violence Series: Protecting Yourself from a Violent or Abusive Spouse

The post Was Aaisya (AS) Tolerating Domestic Abuse?| Living Islam for Today’s Women appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Australians think Muslim population is nine times greater than it really is

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 October, 2014 - 02:47

International Ipsos Mori poll shows Australians are also wildly wrong in their estimations on teen pregnancy, immigrants and unemployment

How well do you know Australia? Take the quiz

Australians believe the proportion of Muslims in the country is nine times higher than it really is, according to a new international survey comparing public perceptions with actual data.

The Ipsos Mori poll conducted across 14 countries also showed Australians are wildly wrong in their estimations of the number of pregnant teenagers, unemployed people, immigrants and Christians in the country.

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Israeli MP proposes banning Islamic prayer call

Loon Watch - 29 October, 2014 - 19:14

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On top of the daily violence perpetrated by settlers and the state of Israel against Palestinians there are also efforts to wipe Islam out.

via. Telegraph

Israeli Right-wingers have revived highly contentious plans that could effectively silence the Muslim call to prayer, known as the adhan.

In a move that risks stoking already simmering tensions in Jerusalem between Jews and Arabs, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition is tabling legislation that could put strict limits on Islamic prayer calls from mosques in the city and across Israel.

Robert Ilatov, a parliamentarian with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, is sponsoring the bill with the support of Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister who is also the party’s leader.

While the legislation is being justified on the grounds that prayer calls often produce “intolerable noise” that disturbs many citizens’ sleep, it is bound to prompt accusations of religious intolerance and prejudice against Israel’s Muslim minority.

A similar proposal – also put forward by Yisrael Beiteinu – was shelved in 2011 despite having the explicit support of Mr Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, after several cabinet members criticised it as likely to cause division.

The proposal comes against the backdrop of a clampdown by security forces in Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem which have witnessed almost nightly scenes of unrest in recent months following the murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian by Jewish vigilantes seeking revenge for the killing of three Israelis in the West Bank.

Read the entire article

Muslim funeral home in Orléans defaced with Islamophobic graffiti

Loon Watch - 29 October, 2014 - 19:07

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Arab News

Saphir News reports that last Friday night racist vandals broke into the office of the Muslim Assistance funeral home in Orléans and defaced the walls with Islamophobic graffiti.

The graffiti featured swastikas and Celtic crosses, and a drawing of a pig’s head, accompanied by slogans such as “Islam out”, “close or die” and “dirty Arabs”. Computer equipment was stolen and a photocopier damaged.

The manager of Muslim Assistance, Abdessamad Errich, later received anonymous phone calls boasting of the attack. Last month he had been subjected to telephone threats.

The vandalism may be connected to the fact that Errich publicly opposed the recent closure of a Muslim school at La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, which was itself the object of a graffiti attack at the end of September.

Orléans-Islamophobic-graffiti

Pig’s head left outside Ellesmere Port mosque

Loon Watch - 29 October, 2014 - 19:01

police

via.WirralGlobe

DETECTIVES are investigating how a pig’s head came to be left outside an under-construction mosque in Ellesmere Port.

Police found it shortly before midnight on Wednesday, October 22 after receiving reports of two men acting suspiciously on King Street, where an Islamic Cultural Centre is being developed.

A 41-year-old man and a 33-year-old man have been arrested and bailed in connection with the incident but detectives are keen to find out how the pig’s head was obtained.

Chief Inspector Giles Orton, who leads the Ellesmere Port and Neston Policing Team said: “We take incidents of this nature extremely seriously and will not tolerate hate crime within the community.

“As part of our ongoing investigation, our officers are conducting enquiries with local businesses to discover where the pig′s head might have come from.

“We are also appealing to anyone from the local community who may know how the pig′s head was obtained to please contact us.

“Anyone who has any information which may assist with our enquiries is urged to contact Cheshire Police on 101. Information can also be left anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.”

Im a Muslim with a beard. Whats so scary about that? | Areeb Ullah

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 October, 2014 - 13:08
Since growing some rather impressive facial hair Ive noticed Muslims are more open to me, but others view me with suspicion

People stare. Sometimes, on the tube, they cross the carriage to create a space between us. There is something about me some people dont like, or it makes them uneasy. Its my beard.

My beard is about three and a half to four inches long now. I started growing it nearly a year ago; the result of a number of things coming together. One if I am honest was laziness. It also began not long after an incident at my university, Kings College London. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was guest of honour at a reception. I went along in traditional dress, thinking: This is Desmond Tutu. He fought against discrimination and oppression. I can be myself because everyone will be welcoming and open. Then I was stopped by security and they demanded to know it I had actually been invited. From then I just thought: Why not?

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The Tunisian election result isnt simply a victory for secularism over Islamism | Monica Marks

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 October, 2014 - 11:27
The battle between Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda is more complex than enlightened secularists versus backwards Islamists

A self-styled, secular, modernist party called Nidaa Tounes won against the Islamist Ennahda party in the Tunisian election this week. For many, the subsequent headline Secularist party wins Tunisia elections will seem more impressive than the fact Tunisia just completed its second genuinely competitive, peaceful elections since 2011.

Indeed, in a region wracked by extremism and civil war, the secularists victory will strike many as further proof that Tunisia is moving forward and is the sole bright spot in a gloomy region. Some may prematurely celebrate, yet again, the death of political Islam, arguing that Tunisians achieved through the ballot box what Egyptians achieved through a popular coup, rejecting the Brotherhood and its cousin-like movements once and for all. We should exercise caution, however, in labelling Nidaa Touness victory part of a seamless sweep of democratic achievements, or seeing Sundays vote as a clear referendum against all varieties of political Islam.

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No Culture for Niqabis

Muslimah Media Watch - 29 October, 2014 - 06:00
The French “niqab” ban (burqa ban, whatever ban…call it what you will) of October 2010 has not faded away from the public consciousness in France at all. What I had originally hoped was just right-wing propaganda has turned out to be, since its entry into force in April 2011, part and parcel of a unique [Read More...]

The Invitation – Part 2

Muslim Matters - 29 October, 2014 - 04:00

By Umm Zakiyyah

a short story

PART ONE | PART TWO

After the summer internship, Paula and I went our separate ways. We kept in touch, but we had our own lives to focus on. I went to college close to home to be near John, and Paula went to college in another state. When we talked, which was usually about once a month, Paula talked mostly about her burgeoning spirituality and all the different Islamic awareness activities Sommer was organizing. Though Sommer herself lived far from us both, Sommer was active nationally in several Muslim youth organizations and ran a pretty successful blog that focused on sexism amongst Muslims and the need for feminist interpretations of long-held patriarchal interpretations of the Qur'an and prophetic traditions.

Once Paula had even called to tell me that I absolutely had to turn on the TV “at this moment” because Sommer was being featured on a CNN special about Islam's alleged oppression of women. John was due any minute to pick me up and take me out to dinner, but I was curious enough to turn on the TV while I waited. John rang the doorbell while I was still watching and I asked if he could give me a minute, and he stood in the front room of my apartment watching snippets of the show himself as he waited for me.

“That's the girl who taught you about Islam?” John remarked after we were in the car.

“Yeah,” I said, smiling to myself as I buckled my seatbelt in the passenger seat. I was proud to have personally known someone who was so prominent.

“Good thing you only knew her for a few weeks.”

My eyebrows shot up as I regarded John. “What do you mean?”

He shrugged. “I don't know, Faith. She just sounds a little too opinionated for her own good.”

I smirked. “You know what Paula would call you now?”

He grinned knowingly. “A sexist?”

“And maybe a racist too.”

We both laughed.

“Why racist?” he said, humor still in his tone.

“Because it's obvious you think Arab-Pakistani girls don't have a right to their own minds.”

We chuckled, shaking our heads. It was a bitter joke because John was White, and he often said he felt reluctant to share his opinions about anything objectionable that a non-White did because he feared he would be labeled a racist.

“But I do agree with one thing she said.” John's tone was serious.

“What's that?” I asked, curious.

“That people who are gay and lesbian have a right to worship God like everyone else.”

I grew silent and looked out the passenger side window. The day I became Muslim Paula had asked Sommer if a gay person could be Muslim. When Sommer said yes (albeit reluctantly), Paula said, “That's all I wanted to know. Because I think I want to be Muslim too.” Then she became Muslim herself.

More than a year had passed since that conversation, and I couldn't get it out of my head. What did Paula mean by that? Did she consider herself gay? But that didn't make any sense. In high school, she'd had more boyfriends than most of the girls we knew. Was this because she was confused about her sexuality? Or maybe she was putting on a façade to hide who she really was.

“Yeah,” I agreed noncommittally, but I continued to stare out the window next to me. “We all sin. Nobody should be prevented from worshipping God just because their struggle is different from other people's.”

“I'm ready, Faith,” John said seconds later.

I turned to him, my forehead creased. “Ready for what?”

“To become Muslim.” He smiled flirtatiously then added, “And to marry you.”

I brought a hand to my mouth in surprise. “Are you serious?”

“If you are,” he said as he slowed to a stop behind a line of cars.

“Is this your idea of a proposal?” I teased. “Asking me to marry you at a stoplight?”

“It's more than an idea actually,” he said, smiling at me before turning his attention back to the road. “I want us to make it reality.”

 

Married Life

John and I eloped a week later so that we could enjoy each other's company before making any official announcements of a formal wedding to our friends or family. Though I wanted to tell Paula, John convinced me that we should keep the decision to ourselves.

“What if she doesn't approve?” he asked one day as we lay awake in his apartment. “It would crush you, and I want the memories of this time to always be special for us.”

“I think she'll be happy for me,” I said, but I detected hesitance in my tone. Sommer had practically become a spiritual mentor to Paula, and though I wanted to believe that was a good thing, Paula's rants about male patriarchy in religion were increasingly more passionate than they were before she accepted Islam. I could only assume her views on early marriage (I was only nineteen and John twenty-one) did not mirror mine.

The mere possibility of hearing Paula criticize me for “dishonoring my womanhood” by giving myself to a man before I even had a college degree made my stomach churn in dread. John was right. We should keep this between ourselves for now. Besides, I was beside myself in happiness to be with John right then, and I didn't need anyone else's opinion, dissenting or otherwise, to make that feeling any more genuine.

“No it's not. No it's not!” My eyes fluttered open in the darkness, and I found John sleeping next to me, his breathing soft and rhythmic. My heart pounded with the same frustrated conviction that it had the first time I'd seen the dream. I sat up in bed, confusion and worry lingering where grogginess should have been.

The dream was unchanged. I had no idea what I was arguing about, and I didn't even know whom I was arguing with except that she was some girl with a faded red-heart tattoo on her lower back. I felt close and distant from myself at once, and the more I yelled, the farther the girl was out of my reach and the closer to myself I felt. There were black snakes and lizards coming toward the girl, but she didn't see them because she was so happy and content with whatever she was telling me. “No it's not!” I kept telling her in response, growing more desperate with each moment. And right before I woke up, I was in a green pasture alone, far from the girl, but I was losing my voice yelling at her though I knew she couldn't hear me.

“It means you're going to find the truth,” Sommer had said, interpreting the dream. “And after you find it, you're going to be tempted by yourself or someone you love to give up your faith, but you won't insha'Allah.”

Unable to sleep, I tossed aside the comforter, causing John to stir in his sleep. I went to the bathroom then washed my face. John and I were scheduled to have breakfast with my birth mother at nine o'clock the following morning, so I really needed to sleep.

Was I getting cold feet? Was that what this was about? I'd asked John to come with me because I thought it would make things easier. But now I wasn't so sure. I'd suggested to John that accompanying me might be the inspiration he needed to find his own birth parents. Like myself, John was adopted. But unlike myself, John didn't have the slightest inclination to find his real mother and father.

“What if they're drug addicts or something?” he'd often say.

“So what if they are?” I'd retort.

“It's different for African-American families,” he'd said once. “You all have closer bonds with your parents.”

“What? That's not true.” I don't know why, but I was deeply hurt by that comment. I guess in a way I felt that this was John's pathetic attempt to avoid facing his past. Unlike my own experience as the brown child of two White parents, John's outings with his adopted parents never incited questions or suspicions as to who his “real” parents were. Like my own adopted parents, John's were White, as was John, so people naturally assumed that John was their biological son. Apparently, other than close family and John himself, they'd never told anyone that John was adopted, and I sensed that in a bizarre case of wishful thinking, John believed that if he kept quiet about his true background, it would disappear. He didn't even want to accompany me when I met my birth mother for the first time. I suppose even that was cutting too close to home for him.

After leaving the bathroom, I felt a sudden need to read the Qur'an before trying to go back to sleep. I was still a bit unsettled by the dream, mainly because I could find no reason for having seen it a second time. I'd already found the truth. I was Muslim now, so what was I supposed to get from the dream this time around? Would my birth mother oppose my decision to be Muslim? But how would she find out in the first place? I didn't wear hijab, and I certainly didn't plan on telling her about my conversion, at least not during our first meeting.

I removed a copy of the Qur'an from a bookshelf in our bedroom, and I carried it to the kitchen, where I decided to put some water on for tea while I read.

“We have explained in detail in this Qur'an, for the benefit of mankind, every kind of similitude. But man is, in most things, contentious.”

Al-Kahf, 18:54

This is the verse that would stay with me as I drifted to sleep the night before I would meet my birth mother.

 

A Life Changed Forever

The door to my apartment bathroom banged against the sink counter as I rushed inside. I dropped to my knees in front of the toilet and hung my head over the bowl as my stomach heaved and the contents of my breakfast exploded from my mouth. I clutched the porcelain seat as I vomited twice more and gagged on the bile burning the back of my throat. I spit into the commode one last time before reaching up to flush the toilet. I collapsed onto the tiled floor with my back against the porcelain bowl as the rush of water sucked the putrid contents down the pipes even as the stench of vomit lingered in the air.

I covered my face with my hands and my shoulders shook as I moaned and tears spilled from my eyes.

“I'm coming right now,” Paula said when I called her minutes later. I didn't want to tell her what had happened because, technically, my marriage to John was still a secret. But I really didn't know who else to turn to. After John, she was the only person I considered a good friend. I wanted to talk to my mother (my adopted mother) but I hadn't even told her I was Muslim or that I had found my birth mother—or that I'd run off and married John without her knowledge. And I knew now wasn't the time to divulge this, especially after what had happened at breakfast.

It was late at night when Paula stepped inside my apartment and found me sitting in the dark living room, staring off into space with my legs folded pretzel-style in front of me on the couch.

“You left your door open,” she said, playfully scolding me as she closed the front door and locked it. A second later light flooded the room.

I managed a tightlipped smile, but I didn't look in her direction. She put her arms around me and pulled me into an embrace, and I laid my head on her shoulder. The tears welled in my eyes again, but I blinked to keep myself from breaking down again.

We sat like that for some time in silence before she asked, “Faith, are you sure? Maybe there's some mistake…”

I drew in a deep breath and exhaled. I'd said the same thing over and over to myself the whole day, and I didn't even want to imagine what John was telling himself. I'd rushed out of the restaurant without him and took a taxi alone to my apartment. I still had a couple months left on the lease before I was supposed to move out and live with John full time.

“He recognized her too, Paula,” I said, dejected, my voice scratchy as I spoke into the cloth of her shirt.

“But he was a baby when he was adopted. How could he even remember?”

I shook my head, but that felt like too much effort. I sat up and Paula released me so I could look at her while I spoke. “I was eighteen months, and John was almost four.”

Paula averted her gaze. “But he's…”

“We have different fathers,” I said, already knowing what Paula was thinking.

I groaned aloud. “Why is this happening?” I blurted, a surge of anger overtaking me. “I love him.”

“But he's your brother, Faith,” Paula said softly.

As if I didn't know that! I wanted to slap her right then.

Paula drew in a deep breath and exhaled, the sound painfully empathetic. “Maybe this is a test from Allah. I know it must be hard, but—”

“Hard?” I glared at her. “No, Paula. Getting through high school was hard. Learning how to pray was hard. Saving myself for marriage was hard.” I shook my head and stood up, my arms folded over my chest as I struggled to keep my composure. “This isn't hard, Paula. This is…” My mind frantically searched for the term that could aptly explain my fury. “…f—ed up!”

I usually didn't use profanity, but right then I really didn't care. No words, not even profane ones, seemed heart-wrenching enough to accurately describe what I felt right then.

“Why would God even let this happen? Why did He make me and John fall in love?” I said, angry gasps between my questions. “He could've stopped us. He knew we weren't allowed to be together.”

I clinched my jaws and balled up my fists. “This is so unfair,” I said, speaking under my breath. “This is so f—ing unfair.”

“No it's not,” Paula said softly, but she wasn't looking at me. She was looking at her hands. I could tell she hated being in this position. She didn't want to be the one to tell me I couldn't be with the only man I loved. She didn't want to be the one to tell me there was no way for me and John to remain married. She didn't want to tell me that I'd saved myself, prizing my chastity and virginity all throughout my youth, only to give my heart and body to someone I was never allowed to be with in the first place.

“It is unfair,” I said, raising my voice as I glared at her.

“No it's not,” she said, raising her voice as she met my gaze. Her eyes filled with tears as her jaw trembled in tortuous compassion for me. She wanted to take away my pain, but she couldn't. I looked away.

“It's a test from Allah,” I heard her say, but I couldn't look at her. Tears filled my own eyes as her words pierced my heart. I knew she was right. But I didn't want her to be. “You're being tempted to give up your faith,” she said.

At that, I jerked my head around to meet her gaze and found that she and I were thinking the same thing. She apologized with her eyes, but I sensed she felt that, for my own good, I needed to hear what I already knew.

“It's like what Sommer said about your dream.”

 

Moving On

“Do people think that they will be left alone on saying, 'We believe'

And that they will not be tested?”

Al-'Ankaboot, 29:2

John and I eventually annulled our marriage, and we mutually agreed to go our separate ways and avoid communication with each other except online via Facebook and Twitter. But we kept even that to a minimum. A year after the annulment, John left America to study Arabic and Islamic studies in the Middle East, but I remained where I was.

Paula and I grew closer as friends, and as she had the day I'd called her distressed, she periodically drove six hours to our hometown to visit me. She eventually opened up to me about her own personal and spiritual struggles and admitted that she was in fact attracted to women, not men. But in high school, she'd tried to fight it.

“I thought I just needed to meet the right guy,” she said. “But it turns out there was no right guy.”

“What are you going to do?” I asked her one day as we spoke on the phone. I wondered if Sommer knew, but I didn't feel comfortable asking.

“I'm hoping for a miracle,” she said jokingly. But I detected a sense of resentment in her voice. “Maybe I'll start a convent for Muslim nuns. You know, vowing celibacy for the sake of Allah and all that.”

We both laughed.

“I'll make du'a for you,” I said more seriously, letting her know I would pray for her. “I know it must be hard.”

“In a way,” she said, her voice somber, “you and I are the same.”

I grunted laughter. “I guess so.”

But I didn't want to think about John. Even now, three years later, he still had a hold on my heart. I'd tried to talk to other Muslim men for marriage, but nothing ever worked out. There were times that my heart and mind would search frantically for a way for me and John to be together. I searched fatwa after fatwa, asked scholar after scholar, and read all the Islamic material I could in hopes of finding something, anything, to justify me and John getting remarried. I'd even found a couple of religious loopholes that seemed plausible justifications for arguing that, technically-speaking, John and I were not officially brother and sister—by law or Islam. And since our mother never married my father or John's father, weren't John and I technically “illegitimate children” who were not mahram (legal relatives) for each other?

“Be careful,” Paula told me one day after I explained to her what I'd learned. “You don't want to do like that story in the Qur'an where the people were forbidden to fish on Saturday, but they put out the net on Friday so they could collect their fish on Sunday.”

I sighed in agreement, but my heart fell in defeat. I missed John so much that my heart literally hurt for him. Why couldn't I just move on?

“But there are so many different interpretations of things,” I said, desperate for any justification for what I wanted. “Maybe the laws forbidding mahram's from marrying don't apply to illegitimate children.”

Paula laughed, but I could tell she wasn't trying to be mean. “Oh please, don't go there,” she said. “You start doing that reinterpreting thing, and you might interpret yourself right out of the religion.”

“Maybe you're right,” I muttered.

 

The Invitation

I hugged my knees and concentrated my attention on the parking lot beyond my apartment window. It was all I could do to steady my trembling and think of something besides the torn envelope and embossed card next to me on the crumpled sheet of my bed.

I was upset. I knew that much. But there was something deeper knifing at my heart.

Your attendance is requested at the wedding celebration of Paula Smith and Sommer Khan.

I gritted my teeth as I glanced at the folded ivory-colored card. On the front of the card was a faded red heart, and beneath the heart was the calligraphic quote, “It's about love.”

No it's not, I protested in my mind. No it's not.

Part of me wanted to pick up the phone and confront her. I'd seen the link on her Twitter page to the article by Sommer entitled “It's About Love” that defended the rights of gays and lesbians to fully participate in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faith traditions. But I'd thought nothing of it. Same-sex marriage was discussed in the article, but I would have never imagined that Sommer was implying that our “faith tradition” should treat these unions as Islamically acceptable.

“It's about love,” Sommer kept repeating throughout the article.

“No it's not,” I said aloud as I snatched up the invitation card from my bed and ripped it in half right through the faded red heart.

It's about Allah, I thought to myself, reflecting on the tremendous lesson I learned from my own struggles. And it's about whether or not you'll accept Allah's invitation to choose Him over your desires.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of the If I Should Speak trilogy. Her latest novel Muslim Girl is now available.

To learn more about the author, visit ummzakiyyah.com or subscribe to her YouTube channel.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Al-Walaa Publications. All Rights Reserved.

WRITTEN FOR MUSLIMMATTERS.ORG

The post The Invitation – Part 2 appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

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