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Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

The People of Lut

Once upon a time, there was a village that was populated with bad people. God sent them a prophet, named Lut, but the villagers ignore his message.

One day, three young men came to the village in search for Lut. The town’s men were elated for they had their eyes on the youthful pieces of meat. Lut felt distressed that he couldn’t protect the visitors, so he hid the young men, but his wife let the villagers know of their hiding place. As it turns out, the young men were angels sent from God and warned Lut to leave town because God was about to send his wrath in a form “of shower of stones of clay” that would kill the inhibitors of Sodom and Gomorrah/ known in the  Qur’an as People of Lut. In one version of the interpretation of the Quran, Lut asked his family not to look back, as they fled town, but his wife did in agony and turned into pillars of salt. In another version, she decided to stay in the village and meet her doom with the rest of the people.

The end… but not for the millions of people came afterwards and heard the story with all its versions. Many believe that people of Lut were bad people solely because they were homosexuals.

Today, it is believed that what hit the villages was a natural catastrophe, some claim an earthquake, others claim it was an asteroid. Either way, this helped form the Dead Sea.

Here are points I find puzzling:

1. God’s prophet is supposed to be GOOD… homosexuality is supposed to be BAD…yet, in Arabic; homosexuality is known as “Luwaat” –derived from the word Lut. Doesn’t this give something godly a negative connotation?

2. The story of people of Lut is mentioned in several verses in the Quran. But two verses “ayas” in particular have mentioned that people of Lut, committed a sin/ crime that “no people in Creation (ever) committed before..”:

And Lut, when he said to his people, “Do you commit an obscenity not perpetrated before you by anyone in all the worlds? You come with lust to men instead of women. You are indeed a depraved people.” (Qur’an, 7:80-81)

Do you approach males among the worlds? And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing. (Qur’an 26:165-166)

And [mention] Lut, when he said to his people, “Indeed, you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds. Indeed, you approach men and obstruct the road and commit in your meetings [every] evil.” And the answer of his people was not but they said, “Bring us the punishment of Allah, if you should be of the truthful.” (Qur’an, 29:28-29)

Most jumped into the conclusion that this never before done crime was homosexuality, but then, why would the last verse mention other evil doings if homosexuality was indeed the sole cause for God’s punishment?

Also, archeology and science have found proof that People of Lut lived around 1800 BC.  However, drawings in caves suggests that people have been practicing homosexuality way before that time. These drawings are estimated to go back as far as 10,000 BC. So, how does this fit with the homosexuality being a crime “no people in Creation (ever) committed before you”? It would be interesting to further study the cultural life of Sodom and Gomorrah and see what other crimes could be added to the list.

3. People of Lut don’t sound like nice people. Aside from the “crime” of homosexuality, they were murderers, rapists and bandits. They mistreated their wives, and were unfaithful to them. They ignored their wives, who had sexual urges of their own, and had sex with men instead. Yet, all this was ignored and focus was on homosexuality as a cause for punishment. More so,  Why isn’t there a distinction made between consensual sex and rape , which is what the villagers had in mind towards the three young men/ angels? But then we live in a world that takes matters as rape, both genders, and act of violence very lightly. Wouldn’t rape , and covering it up, be a far more sever crime than homosexuality?

4. The most important point: Does all this matter? Whether homosexuality is a sin or not, or a disease or not is not important. But what is important is how we, whether Muslims or not, deal with it. Do we let our holier than thou attitude manifest into hatred or do we follow the attitude that Islam first and for most is about the “treatment of others. “deen al-mo’aamalah” –this highly ignored concept believes that how we treat others is as important as our acts of worship.  Why can’t homosexuality simply be a test of our level of tolerance? If we actually have any? Or to test our claim that we love God. if so, how could we then  be consumed with so much hate toward those who do things differently when one of God’s many attributes is mercy.

 Sadly, we humans act too quickly in judging others, and act too slowly in loving and having mercy and tolerance towards others.

Women and the Wait Period. Is it still Applicable today?

Death is  inevitable and divorce happens…

According to Islamic law, when either one happens, the divorced female or widow must observe a wait period, known as Iddah, before she can remarry again.  Reasons for the iddah are to a) ensure there is no pregnancy and thus confusion of lineage, b) Reconciliation period for the couple before the divorce becomes final. Some might add c) to give a woman the proper space to mourn her husband.

The period of the iddah is:

  • A widowed woman has a wait period of 4 months and 10 days.
  • A divorced woman has a wait period of 3 menstrual cycles.
  • The wait period of a pregnant woman, whether widow or divorced, ends with the delivery of the baby.
  • A female who was separated from her husband for a while before the divorce was final does not need to follow the Iddah law yet it is recommended as a cautionary measure.
  • A divorced woman where the marriage was not consummated does not require observing the Iddah.
  • Post menopause women:  have to comply with Iddah. Their wait period is three months.

Iddah Etiquettes:

  1. No makeup or jewelry.
  2. Be very sad and grievy looking. (the color black is the cultural color for mourning)
  3. Do not leave the house unless you absolutely must (some claim work is not necessary enough)  …
  4. Going out for a walk to smell some fresh air is not an excuse to leave the house.
  5. If you must leave the house, be back by night-time. Always spend the night at your house…(3-5 in particular are not supported with religious texts: Quran and Hadeeths.)
  6.  Not looking at the moon or at the mirror are old wives’ tales but most likely practiced by a few. It has been added to the list  for entrainment purposes.

What will the neighbors Say? 

It is worrisome when Muslims use social factors to explain Iddah. Sadly, many religious scholars have added that Iddah is a social formality to ensure the female’s safety from being judged for not looking or feeling sad enough. God forbid a woman fails to show sufficient mourning over her dead husband or greave over a husband who has abused and mistreated her. Why is a man not required to show sufficient greave over his deceased wife  

What others see is more important than how you feel!

Questions? Doubts?

Financial Support: How can a female breadwinner observe iddah when she cannot afford to miss work for 4 months or even during an entire pregnancy? This is no longer relevant to only non-Muslim societies but a reality that is inflected in Arab/ Islamic countries due to today’s modern day demands.

 Iddah and Modern Science: How does Iddah comply with modern science when the latter can confirm, through simple lab tests, the state of pregnancy and thus, invalidating reasons behind the iddah?

Female grieving: Some believe that the widower should feel   “broken and feel sad because of cruel separation…”– as one website described – doesn’t this enforce a certain way of mourning and grieving as well stereotype of gender roles?

Male grieving: When a man shows grieve he becomes a saint!                                                                                                                                                                              While women are forced to show a certain way of mourning, men are exempt from it. Some claim that this is not necessary because men need to be taken care of and their needs fulfilled. Their social responsibility demands from them to go to work and earn end’s meat. Once again, women’s needs have become nonexistent in order to satisfy the social outlook towards a man’s death. Also, this reinforces the claim to reexamine the need for the Iddah in light of financial support.  

Pregnancy! A Miracle? : In view of the reasons behind Iddah it becomes questionable why a post menopause widow should adherent to the wait period.   Chances of a pregnancy would be deemed a miracle and there is no reconciliation to consider. So, perhaps the only valid reason for a wait period would be to give her the time and space to mourn and grieve her husband before she may move on. However, is the griever given the proper tools to move on?  It should be put into consideration that people do not show grieve the same way (see the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross five stages of grieve) and forcing a person to grieve in a specific way will only prolong the grieving time. In addition, the wait period, also becomes a period of isolation. This could be deemed very harmful, both physically and mentally, especially if she lives in an apartment building, where there lacks adequate space for a woman to move around for 4 months .  And again, what is the the  role of  modern science?

It almost seems as though a woman is punished for the death of her husband … or entirely blamed for the divorce…

Suggestion: the purpose of Iddah, and the religious texts covering issues of Iddah need to be examined, along with input from science and feminine views

 Is there a Computer in you?                                                                        While researching the topic, I came across a website that a claim a woman’s uterus is like a computer that stores the code of men she mates with. Each sperm or man carries a unique code. When the computer is infested with many codes, they become virus like and infect the whole computer. This is why all prostitutes will eventually suffer from cervical cancer. (Disturbing thought!!! This analogy is not new and has been used many times against women to prove that women, as oppose to men, cannot be promiscuous by nature.  It also reinforces the idea that cancer as a divine punishment rather than an illness.)

Was Aisha a Child Bride?

One of today’s most fascinating controversies among Muslims and non-Muslims is the debate over Aisha’s ages when she married the Prophet and subsequently if that made him a pedophiliac or not.  

Putting the age debate to the side for a moment, If Prophet Mohamed were in fact a pedophile why would he settle for only one child?  Unless perhaps Aisha was not 9 years old has history has led us to believe.

All Islamic sources and historians claim/ agree on the following Islamic timeline:

570: Prophet Mohamed’s Birth.

610: Year of the divine revelation

615: Migration to Ethiopia

622 (01 H): Muslims migrated from Makah to Madina  

632 (10 H): Death of Prophet Mohamed at the age of 63

These sources claim that Aisha was only seven when she was wed to Mohamed, and 9 or 10 when the marriage was consummated right after the Prophet’s arrival to Madina, in 622. (Almost three years later) …

Accordingly she would be born in the year 612 (if she were 10 in the year 622)

————————————–

However, the follow events (taken from the same sources) show a contradiction in Aisha age:  

1)     a- Aisha was among the 12 Male and 12 Female Muslims to migrate to Ethiopia. She was identified as one of the 12 females and not an infant/ child though according to the sources (if she were born in 612) she would have been only 3 years old.

b-  Aisha recalled that she remembers how the Prophet used to visit her father on a daily bases, after the revelation and before the Hijra (migration) to Madina. She also recalled the migration to Ethiopia. Either she had a 3 year old’s über-memory or a big miscalculation has occurred.

2)      Aisha’s sister, Asma, is 10 years her senior. Asma was 14 old during the revelation (in 610). Accordingly, Aisha would be 4 years old in 610 and thus born 606, while Asma born in 596. (This makes Aisha about 9 years old when she went to Ethiopia and 16 when the marriage was consummated)

3)      Asma died at the age of 100 following tragic events in the Islamic history in 692 (73 H). Accordingly, she would have been born in 592 and Aisha 602. (Adding 4 years to her age in point 2)

4)      Aisha died in 678 at the age of 65… Accordingly, she would be born in 613. However; at the time of her sister’s death, Asma would be 75 and in 692 (year of her reported death) she would be 89 years old. (Where did the 11 years difference go?)

5)      Aisha was already a Muslim when Omar bin Khattab converted to Islam in 616….. If she were indeed born in 612, that would make her 4 years old during Omar’s conversion… In this case, it is very doubtful that she would be considered a convert but a child reared in a Muslim household. However, emphasis on Aisha’s Islam, in comparison to Omar’s, might indicate that she was already practicing and aware of a new religion in Makkah.

If she were born in 606: that would make her 10 years old when Omar converted. At that age a child becomes accountable and is required to perform religious duties. Thus, making it obvious that Aisha was a Muslims rather than a child whose parents are Muslims.

The first youngest known person to convert was the Prophet’s 10 year old cousin, Ali. This was in 610. So, where does baby Aisha fit into this? Wouldn’t she have taken the lead as the youngest convert, had she been only 4 years old? Islamic history is pretty good in listing the first converts and it does not shy away from mentioning the female pioneers. So, there would be no reason to exclude Aisha from the list of child pioneers. Unless she wasn’t a child

This would also lead to another question: Could children be considered converts? Although a 10-year-old child 1400 years ago might be more mature than today’s 10 year old, they were still considered children.  

6)      Fatima Al-Zahra’ a, prophet Mohamed’s daughter was born five years before the revelation (605). She is said to be five years older than Aisha, who would then be born in 610) another inconsistency with the above “sources”.

These are just a few of the argument presented by some of those who oppose the traditional view on Aisha’s age. It’s been said that the first person who presented this new calculation was as Egyptian writer Abbas el-Akkad (1889-1964), and again by other such as Saudi Human Rights activists Suhaila Hamad, journalist Islam Biheri.. etc

Perhaps this inconsistency does not give a clear indication of Aisha’s age. But if anything it shows that there is a further need to reexamine history with an objective perspective.

It is believed that one of the main reasons for the union between Aisha and Prophet Mohamed is to legitimize her stay in his house and thus learn from him and recite his hadiths (saying by the Prophet) . It has been reported that she narrated around 2210 but only 174 Hadith are commonly agreed upon by religious scholars. Yet Islam from a female’s perspective is nowhere to be found. Where are the rest of the hadiths? Until this day, there is perhaps only one, and very hard to find, book, that addresses these hadiths. So, why aren’t there more efforts to publish these hadiths and make them known?

Before Defending the Prophet of Islam

Again today I received an e-mail with a link to visit a website on the life and teachings of Prophet Mohamed… and again I checked it out, though I already knew of its contents, and again I found myself getting upset and then deterred away from the website.

Following the Danish controversy, many Muslim groups came to the conclusion that they need to fix their “image”. While the effort is needed I wonder if it is in its place… Those who invested in the webpage still see matter from their point of view and this is where their arguments stem from.  This also makes for very weak arguments.  Who are the audience of the website  

In theory Islam is a wonderful religion, but Muslims fail miserably when it comes to application and practice…

The website does not teach Muslims, who are in desperate need of, tolerance or acceptance of others who are different. They continuously compare Islam to Judaism and Christianity. This, they believe, will strengthen Islam’s position as the one and only true religion, while in reality it just preaches superiority and intolerance.  For example, in the website, Jews of Al-Madina are still seen as infiltrators who “had it coming”. One rule of managing/ mediating conflict is never to dig into history because it will only make matter worse. This apparently is the case with the Jews of Al-Madina. Both Muslims and Jews refer to a 1400 year old incident in order to defame the other.  So, why not put history to the side for change, or at least see matters from different perspectives!

On another page, which deals with, or rather glorifies, polygamy, “He used to spend one day and one night with each wife except when Lady Sauda Bint Zam’a reached old age and no longer had sexual desire.”  Those with some sense would instantly question at what age does a woman lose her sexual desire? Science will defiantly not support such claim. Unfortunately such narration does not defend the Prophet, nor gives a clear image of Islam. Instead, it portrays Islam as a sexist and misogynist religion and the Prophet as a man driven by his urges.

It is also peculiar that many Muslims, who work under the motto “defending the Prophet”, make a distinction between Mohamed, as a person or a prophet, and how Islam is understood, interpreted and applied today. The two, however, represent the same thing.  Prophet Mohamed and his teachings represent Islam. He is a role model for Muslims. Subsequently, when Islam is misunderstood, so is its Prophet, and vice versa.

What many Muslims refuse to understand is that the Danish caricatures, and its likes, do not target Mohamed, the Prophet, specifically, as much as it targets a religion seen as hateful and intolerant. Non-Muslims have a negative perception of Islam because of how it is interpreted and represented. To them, the Prophet is a symbol of everything that is wrong with Islam… To me, the Prophet is a symbol of a religion misinterpreted by it followers and non-followers alike.   

A remaining question would be, whose fault is it that Islam and the Prophet are misunderstood? But perhaps that question is not as important as what Muslims are willing to do about it?

Women Free Paradise

This is why blogs are a good idea…. They help release words before they explode…. If this would have been an article submitted to a newspaper, as if they would print it anyway, I would have taken the “emotion free “ road and discussed reason, if such thing exists …. (And of course  i would have done more proof reading)

A day after the world celebrates 100 years of Women’s Day,  Alarabiya  news wrote that Dar Al ifta in Egypt prepared a study on reasons why Islam grants men, and not women, the right to divorce their spouses.  According to the study, men, unlike women, can control their emotions and have far more life experience than women!!!! (Yes, this is why we have far more men abusing their wives) Of course, no study on Islamic fiqh will be complete unless a misogynist Hadeeth is present, so today’s hadeeth condemns women who seek divorce without a solid reason (isn’t this contradicting to the Hadeeth that allows women to seek divorce even if her only reason is that she can’t stand her husband ??? Besides, isn’t  the term “solid reason” a very subjective  matter?). In the same line, the article wrote  that the Prophet has “warned” Muslim men from manipulating and abusing divorce… Great, women are banned from entering Paradise and men get away with a warning (and that should be fair how EXACTLY) at the rate Muslim scholars are going….  Paradise will be a women free zone

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/03/09/102586.html

Day and night we hear how Muslim men have hijacked Islam, but what about Muslim women? It seems they just sit around and let their God-given rights pass them by…

It is articles/ studies like these that make me doubt, even if little, Islam’s greatness… My reason, logic and knowledge on Islamic history don’t always find way to defend my Islam…. 

It’s been said that we live in  man’s world and sometimes it seems that there is no escape from it…

On a brighter note, in Saudi Arabia, a lady was granted a divorce from her husband of 20 years because he took a second wife. According to the marriage contract the wife had added a clause that the marriage is annulled if her hubby took a second wife… and it happened….  And the court recognized it …. Victory?!