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Podcast: Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child? Corporal Punishment & Islamic Education

Is beating kids just a part of “traditional Islamic studies”? Is it true that there are blessings associated with physical punishment for students of Qur’an? Or is corporal punishment in the context of Islamic education something that violates fundamental Islamic ethics? In this episode of The MM PodcastShaykh Abdul Rahman Chao takes on the topic of corporal punishment in Islamic education, discouragement of critical thinking, and the horrific impact of abusive teachers on Muslim students.



 – Podcast: Will Islamic School Fix My Kids? A Critical Look at Islamic Pedagogy

Podcast: A Critical Look At Islamic Pedagogy

 – Islamic Pedagogy and Critical Thinking: Does Islamic Pedagogy Want Critical Thinkers?

Islamic Pedagogy and Critical Thinking: Does Islamic Pedagogy Want Critical Thinkers?

The post Podcast: Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child? Corporal Punishment & Islamic Education appeared first on

Source: Muslim Matters

All That Is In The Heavens [Part 17]: On His Own Terms

All That Is In The Heavens [Part 17]: On His Own Terms

Captain Rahman wakes up from a dream to find his body and mind under attack.

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories.

This is a multi-chapter novel.  Previous Chapters:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3| Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16




United Army Squad 3690 of the UA Starburst, in order of rank:

  1. Yasin “Cutter” Rahman – Captain. Combat strategy master.
  2. Weili Menco Zhang – Corporal. Xeno-geographer. Calm and cool in battle. Carries a lasgun and a tekpi (trident).
  3. Ammar Abuzaid – Master Sergeant. Botanist and combat trainer. Oldest member of the squad. Quran hafedh.
  4. Bilal Mustafa – Fleet Officer. Xenobiologist, married to Rowaida.
  5. Rowaida Ali – Fleet Officer. Ship’s pilot, mechanic and fabricator, married to Bilal.
  6. Samir “Smasher” Sufyan – Specialist. Drone tech and explosives expert. Carries an ax. Multiple awards for valor, but also repeated misconduct violations.
  7. Ami Abdulghaffar – Specialist. Medic and psychotherapist.
  8. Amina Quraishi – Private First Class. Computer tech and AI diagnostics. Hijabi. Silat expert. Fearless.
  9. Hisham – Private. Grenadier, plus supplies & requisitions.
  10. Summer – Private. Riflecarrier and food services.
  11. Tarek – Private. Riflecarrier and janitorial. 18 years old.

* * *

Excerpt from The Life and Death of Yasin Rahman, By Dr. Ami Abdulghaffar:

Yasin Rahman was confident, encouraging, and a fantastic leader. He was funny at times, and could even be loving and sweet. He also fell occasionally into depression, and when that happened he kept it to himself. I was ship’s counselor, but he never came to me professionally, and of course if he had, I would not share anything he said.

Iced coffeeBut I remember a day in Selangor, during that week-long leave we had after the Battle of Breena Five. Rahman, Weili Zhang and I were sitting at an outdoor restaurant table with a caged patio that permitted a view of the street. I’d eaten an entire three course meal, and Zhang had passed much of her food to the beggars who pressed their faces to the wire links of the patio cage. But Rahman had ordered only an iced coffee, and he sipped it as he stared out at the masses of people on the street. The air carried the commingled scents of food, body odor, and bougainvillea. The street noise was a constant roar of shouts, hovercar engines and construction. The beggars left Rahman alone, maybe frightened by that metal eye of his, which I still say made him look like Bionic Basim.

Rahman spoke quietly. I think he was speaking to himself, not to me nor Zhang. In fact, I had the odd impression that he was speaking to someone invisible that I could not see. But I leaned in and was able to hear him as he said, “Maybe I’m not so different from an AI myself. I feel like an automaton, like everything inside me has been eviscerated or melted, and all that matters is my physical form. All that anyone cares about is what I do. As long as I do what’s demanded, what’s expected, the world praises me and promotes me. Even when my men die, they praise me. But no one gives a warp about what I think or feel. Is that what it’s like to be an AI? If so, I can understand never wanting to go back to that.”

It was so unlike Rahman to say something like this out loud, that for a moment I was speechless. I was still formulating a reply in my mind about how such feelings were normal for soldiers suffering from PTSD, and that he needed time away from battle to reconnect with his inner peaceful self, and so on, when Zhang spoke forcefully, which for her too was out of character.

“Don’t ever let me hear you say that,” Zhang said. “Don’t call yourself an automaton, or an AI, or whatever nonsense. How many times have I followed you into battle? How many times have I risked my life on your say-so, because I trusted you? You never failed me. And no matter what you may think, you never failed anyone under your command either.”

Rahman still had a dreamy, distracted look on his face, and it looked to me like he wasn’t listening. Zhang must have seen the same thing, because she seized his wrist and went on:

“Hey! Whether the soldiers under your command lived or died, that was never in your hands. Don’t be so arrogant. Such things are in Allah’s domain. I will tell you how I see you, brother. If your heart were to come out of your chest and become some planetary element, it would be the tallest mountain in the world, or a forest of a thousand trees. That is who you are. Not an automaton. How many battles have we been in that should have crushed us? Where we were outnumbered, wounded, surrounded? Yet we survived. Why? You think it’s a cosmic accident?”

Rahman was staring into Zhang’s eyes now, transfixed, and she continued.

“The fact that we are here, eating, breathing and talking, is the decree of Allah. Allah saved you because He has a plan for you, not to use you as a tool like you think, but as a force for good in the universe. Don’t ask me how I know this, but I do. Allah loves you. And I will tell you something else, my dear Captain. I love you too.”

But just as Zhang said, ‘I love you,“ a man crashed into the wire cage surrounding the restaurant patio. He was lean and feverish looking, with black hair plastered to his forehead, and blood pouring from his nose. Two other men immediately pounced on him and began beating him. The man being beaten shouted something, and his son, a little boy of five or six years, ran into the street, directly into the path of an oncoming hover bus.

Before I could even open my mouth, Rahman was on his feet with his nano-knife in his hand. With a whipping circular slash he cut a hole in the cage, leaped through, and ran into the street at full speed, which in Rahman’s case means he moved so fast that my eyes could not track him. Then the hover bus passed by, engine roaring and horn blaring.

My heart was in my throat. Then I saw Rahman, standing on the other side of the street with the boy in his arms, both of them unhurt.

I didn’t need to be told what to do. Zhang and I went through the hole and saved the father. I kicked one of the attackers in the knee, and Zhang whipped her trident across the other one’s cheek, and they both hobbled away. Why the men were beating the father, I did not know and did not need to. Considering it was the Death’s Kitchen district of Selangor, it could have been anything.

I am quite sure that Rahman never heard Zhang’s last sentence. She did not repeat it, and I did not tell him. Not my place to do so.

* * *

Wake Up Running

Forest floorRahman ran. It was all he seemed to know how to do. Running with no purpose, with no enemy behind or goal ahead. He dashed through the forest, leaping over tree roots and thickets. A massive hollow log appeared and he ran through it, the scent of moss and mildew filling his nostrils, his breathing loud in the chamber. Emerging from the log he found a starship resting incongruously on the forest floor. He climbed the aft repair scaffolding and ran across the top of the ship, leaping down on the other side.

Now there was something behind him, and it wasn’t an enemy, but a terror. Looking over his shoulder he saw his father’s workshop pursuing him. As it flew through the air it shed dark mist, and a terrible keening sound came from it. Rahman looked forward and ran for his life.

He was exhausted. Pain shot up and down his legs. His breathing was a nonstop bellows. Sweat flew off him. His head spun. Something fierce and angry rose up inside him, trying to get out.

No, not trying to get out. It was trying to take over.

He woke, gasping for breath.

This Is My Body

He was running. In real life. He stood in the middle of his small private room on the highliner’s D ring, running in place. His entire body was slick with sweat. Yet it wasn’t him doing the running. Somehow his legs and arms were pumping on their own, his muscles burning like acid. He was utterly depleted.

Sayana. This was Sayana’s doing. This is my body, he thought. My body, my body, my body. Will it, he told himself. Just like Sayana had taught him. Will it.

Control of his body returned, and he fell to the floor, gasping, his heart thundering like a highliner’s engine on takeoff.

The psychic assault began. Sayana came up out of the recesses of his brain and seized control of his brain. He felt his consciousness – the part of him that made him the unique being his was – being dragged down into darkness. He lost all his senses, and was plunged into utter blackness.

He understood. Sayana had seized control of his dream and used it to exhaust his body so that he would be too weak to fight her off when she made her play to take over his brain.

Cut Off

What could he do? He was cut off from his own senses and limbs. He was powerless. He didn’t think he could survive very long in this state. This was like a little death, or a prelude to death.

Although… feeling around, he became aware of his own organs. He could feel his own heartbeat, and sense the air rushing in and out of his lungs. The artificial organs were like voids, he could not connect to them, but the others were all right there. It seemed that Sayana had not thought to exclude his connection to these, thinking them unimportant.

He remembered one of Zhang’s many Malay proverbs: Alang-alang menyeluk pekasam biar ke pangkal lengan. If you’re going to reach into the fermented fish jar, you should just put your whole arm in. In other words, if you must perform an unpleasant task, you might as well commit to it fully.

Seismic Shock

Rahman would commit fully. Let Sayana see what lengths he was prepared to go to to hold on to his own body. He reached out with his consciousness, made a mental connection to his own heart, and willed it to stop.

Immediately he felt a seismic shock go through his entire system. He began clawing his way back to consciousness, confident that Sayana would be shaken and terrified. Light came gradually, and sound, and he fought his way toward them, reaching out, seizing them.

He was back. He lay on the floor of his room, his limbs flung out unnaturally. His heart and breathing had stopped, and he could not move. His sight was already dimming, and he knew he was dying.

“What did you do?” Sayana screamed from inside him. “You’ve killed us both, you idiot! This was unnecessary. I would have shared!”

Rahman did not think that Sayana would have shared anything. What he’d experienced, down in the darkness, had felt a lot like death. But if he was going to die, he would do it on his own terms.

* * *


Next: All That Is In The Heavens, Part 18 – Abuzaid’s Tale

Author’s Note: Sorry it’s such a short chapter this week. I’ve been overwhelmed with things happening in my life, and now as well I have Covid. I’ll try to keep the chapters coming, but they might continue to be short for a while.

Reader comments and constructive criticism are important to me, so please comment!


See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – including Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters and Zaid Karim Private Investigator – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at

The post All That Is In The Heavens [Part 17]: On His Own Terms appeared first on

Source: Muslim Matters

From The Chaplain’s Desk: Don’t Be Angry

From The Chaplain’s Desk: Don’t Be Angry

It’s narrated that once a man sought permission to speak to ʿUmar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) regarding some issues or complaints. Instead of addressing him with honor and respect, he was extremely rude and harsh. He started going off and accusing him saying, “You don’t rule with justice and you’re not giving us our rights!” Upon hearing this ʿUmar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) became extremely angry and his face started to turn red. One of his advisors saw this and reminded him that Allah ﷻ says, “Be gracious, enjoin what is right, and turn away from those who act ignorantly.” This person is among the ignorant. (What is meant here is forgiving and excusing people’s failings of character and deeds and being gentle rather than harsh.) As soon as ʿUmar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) heard this, his anger disappeared and he remarked, “You’re right. My anger was like a fire that you extinguished.” The narrator commented, “ʿUmar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) would adhere strictly to the Quran.” I find it really hard to translate the Arabic expression. It is describing the fact that he would immediately implement whatever he heard of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) words.

In a separate instance, one day Muʿāwiyyah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) gave a sermon, and while he was speaking someone in the audience called him a liar. He descended from the pulpit in anger and entered his room and a short while later came out with water dripping from his beard. He climbed on the pulpit and said, “O people, truly anger is from Satan and Satan was made from fire. So if one of you becomes angry they should extinguish it with water.” Then he resumed his khutbah from where he left off.

Once a man cursed ibn ʿAbbās raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and when he was finished he asked, “Does this person have any needs we can take care of?” Upon hearing that the man hung his head in embarrassment.

Once a slave was pouring water for ʿAlī ibn al-Husain raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and the jug slipped from her hand causing his clothes to get wet. She saw that he had become extremely angry so she reminded him of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) words “and those who swallow their anger”. He responded, “I have swallowed my anger.” Then she recited, “And those who forgive.” He responded, “I have forgiven you.” Then she said, “And Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) loves those who do good.” He said, “Go, for you are free for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).”

Taming A Natural Human Emotion

I’m sure all of us here have experienced something similar to these incidents; someone may have said something to us or done something to us that caused our blood to boil. All of us are familiar with that feeling; our hearts start beating faster, blood starts rushing through our veins, our temperature rises, we feel this surge of energy flowing through our bodies and this emotion starts spilling over. Our faces start to turn red, our nostrils flare, that vein in our forehead starts popping out and we clench our fists. Sometimes it results in us raising our voices. Sometimes it results in cursing, or even worse, throwing something or hitting a wall. Anger is a natural human emotion. It’s something that every single one of us as human beings feels and experiences.


From Abū Hurairah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), he said that a man said to the Prophet ﷺ, “Advise me.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not become angry.” The man repeated [his request for advice] several times, and [each time] he ﷺ said, “Do not become angry.” [Sahih al-Bukhārī]


This is one of the narrations that is considered to be the foundation of manners, etiquette, and behavior in Islam. It is also one of the concise comprehensive statements of the Prophet ﷺ that may be few in words, but is extremely deep and profound in terms of meaning. The amount of evil and headaches this advice prevents, and the amount of good it brings is unimaginable. Oftentimes anger is the root cause of poor choices, regret, remorse, sorrow, and strained and broken relationships. Think about all the problems anger brings about in a person’s personal and social life; between brothers, siblings, parents and children, husbands and wives. If a person were to truly act upon this advice of the Prophet ﷺ it would lead to a wholesome, healthy, sound, and peaceful life.


In this narration a man comes to the Prophet ﷺ and asks for some advice saying, “Advise me.” This shows that the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ were constantly willing to learn from the Prophet ﷺ and seek advice and counsel from him in all of their affairs. Another version mentions that the man asked the Prophet ﷺ to advise him with something that was light and easy so that he could safeguard it and act upon it.

The Prophet ﷺ responded to his request by advising him to not get angry. He advised him with a few simple words, “Don’t get angry.” Don’t lose your temper and let your emotions get the best of you. Don’t get upset with people and say or do something that will be a source of regret later on. This is extremely succinct advice. However, the questioner did not realize how comprehensive and important this advice was. That is one of the reasons why he kept asking the Prophet ﷺ to advise him. Another narration mentions that later on he said, “I thought about what the Prophet ﷺ said and I came to the conclusion that anger gathers all the evils.”

Lessons and Benefits

1) Anger – Anger is a natural human emotion. It is something that every single human being feels and experiences. The Arabic word for anger is “ghaḍab”. Linguistically, anger is the opposite of contentment. It is derived from the root letters غ- ض- ب that indicate towards severity and strength.

Some scholars describe anger as “a flame of fire, lit from Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) fire, that overtakes hearts. Whoever it overcomes has inclined toward the hereditary disposition of the devil, for indeed he was created from fire.”1 The Prophet ﷺ said, “Truly anger is from Satan and Satan was truly created from fire.”2 It is an emotion that enters into one’s heart and can be both positive and negative. Other scholars have described it as a “movement of the soul as a result of revenge, or an internal quality that results in a movement of the soul to seek revenge.” Imām al-Ghazālī writes that it is when the heart’s blood boils out of a desire to seek revenge. Imām Mawlūd describes it as a “swelling ocean”. It is a swelling mass of emotion that is difficult to hold back once it is unleashed.

It is not necessarily a negative emotion in and of itself. Without anger there are many things that would not have been achieved. It can be a positive motivator. At the same time it can possess, consume, and ultimately destroy a person. In a state of anger a person is unable to see clearly; they don’t think of consequences. When a person becomes angry they lose control of their ability to think, speak, and act rationally. Oftentimes they will say or do things that they regret later on. How many people have ruined their lives because of something they said or did while in a fit of anger? How many people don’t have healthy relationships because they are known to be short-tempered? How many relationships has anger ruined and destroyed?

Anger is an emotion that needs to be trained, tamed, and kept in-check; it has to be controlled. It is an emotion that requires balance and moderation; a middle way. It is acceptable only at the right time, in the right place, for the right reasons, and with the right intensity. That is why scholars mention that there are two types of anger. One is for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and this is good anger, which can be channeled into positive actions. The other is bad anger, which is for the sake of ego and attributed to the devil. That is why the Sharīʿah encourages controlling one’s anger.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “The strong person is not one who overcomes you. A true strong person is one who is able to control himself when angry.”3 Similarly, the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever swallows their anger while having the ability to act upon it, Allah will fill him with security and faith.”4

2) Ways to Control Anger – The following is a list of some practical ways to control and break one’s anger:

  1. Remember the extensive praise, virtues, rewards, and blessings associated with patience, forbearance, and humility. There are unimaginable blessings associated with swallowing one’s anger and is considered to be an expression of one’s consciousness of Allah ﷻ. A person’s desire to earn these rewards and blessings can protect them from losing their temper.
  2. Controlling one’s anger by remaining silent. The Prophet ﷺ said, “When one of you becomes angry, remain silent.”5
  3. Seek refuge and protection with Allah ﷻ from Satan. It is narrated that two men began to argue and curse each other in the presence of the Prophet ﷺ and the face of one of them turned red and the veins of his neck were swollen (from rage). The Prophet ﷺ said, “I know of a word, if he were to utter that, his rage would vanish and that is: I seek refuge with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) from Satan the accursed.”6
  4. Change physical position or leave; a person should sit if they are standing, and lay down if they are sitting. The Prophet ﷺ said, “If one of you becomes angry while they’re standing, they should sit. If his anger doesn’t subside then he should lie down.”
  5. Perform wuḍū’. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Indeed anger is from Satan and Satan has been created from fire. So if one of you becomes angry, make wuḍū’.”7
  6. Be forgiving and overlook people’s rude behavior. There is a correlation between what a person does and what they receive from Allah ﷻ in kind – a correspondence that the Almighty has placed in the workings of creation. If a person doesn’t want to incur the anger of Allah ﷻ, then they should not be angry with people unjustly. A man asked the Prophet ﷺ, “What is the worst thing that one incurs concerning Allah?” The Prophet ﷺ replied, “His wrath.” The man then asked, “How do we avoid it?” The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not become angry.” Similarly, if a person wants to receive mercy from Allah ﷻ they should be merciful to others.


Related reading:

From The Chaplain’s Desk: Success – A Quranic Paradigm

From The Chaplain’s Desk: Success – A Quranic Paradigm

Haleh Banani | Where Psychology Meets Islam | “Is Anger controlling you?” Part 1/2

Haleh Banani | Where Psychology Meets Islam | “Is Anger controlling you? Part 1/2”

1    al-Ghazālī, al-Arabaʿīn fī Uṣūl al-Dīn, p.133
2    Abū Dāwūd, k. al-adab, b. Mā yuqāl ʿinda al-ghaḍab, 4784
3    Muslim, k. al-birr wa al-ṣilah wa al-ādāb, b. faḍl man yamliku nafsahu ʿinda al-ghaḍab wa bi ayyai shay yadhabu al-ghaḍab, 2609
4    Bukhārī, al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr, 6:123
5    Bukhārī, al-Adab al-Mufrad, 12:245
6    Muslim, k. al-birr wa al-ṣilah wa al-ādāb, b. faḍl man yamliku nafsahu ʿinda al-ghaḍab wa bi ayyai shay yadhabu al-ghaḍab, 2610
7    Abū Dāwūd, k. al-adab, b. Mā yuqālu ʿinda al-ghaḍab, 4784

The post From The Chaplain’s Desk: Don’t Be Angry appeared first on

Source: Muslim Matters

From The MuslimMatters Bookshelf

From The MuslimMatters Bookshelf

From The MuslimMatters Bookshelf is a new monthly column from MM staff members -which you can look forward to on the last Thursday of every month inshaAllah!- where we post brief reviews of our latest reads: the good, the bad, the intriguing, and the Islamic.

This month, Zainab bint Younus shares her reviews of three different books: Warda by Warda Abdullahi, 10 Steps to Getting and Staying Married: An Islamic Perspective by Ajmal Masroor, and Futuwwah and Raising Males Into Sacred Manhood by Dawud Walid


 – Warda by Warda Abdullahi [Genre: Young Adult Non-fiction]

This memoir, about a Somali girl’s journey across the Horn of Africa to America, fulfilling her dream of getting an education, truly stands out!

Unlike so many “inspiring stories” written by people of Muslim backgrounds, filled with anger towards their cultures/ family/ Islam and adoration of the West as a savior, Warda Abdullahi’s memoir is filled with love and respect towards her family, her culture, and Islam.

She makes a point of providing historical context to her family’s story, praising her grandfather for raising her, and crediting her father for his determination to get her the best education possible.

Even when topics like polygamy or FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) come up, Warda never falls into blaming Islam or trashing her culture – she recognizes the horrors of FGM gravely, without comparing her culture to the West.

Most importantly, her dedication to Islamic values holds throughout: from her fasting in Ramadan despite her massive school workload, Islamic center volunteering, and family responsibilities; to maintaining her hijab staunchly and refusing to touch student loans because of the riba involved. In the end, the barakah is clear: through her relentless determination and hard work, she is able to cover almost the entire cost of her college tuition through scholarships alone.

There is one odd segment about her “boyfriend”- a Somali boy in South Africa whom she has never met, but communicated with online. Thankfully, it turns out that other families and relatives know of him, and from her author bio, it seems that they eventually got married. This bit alone would require discussion with younger Muslim readers about what is and isn’t acceptable mixed gender interactions and conceptions of relationships, but it doesn’t get too problematic once one reads about the fuller context.

Highly recommend this for lower YA and above – a powerful story of struggle, perseverance, and success of a Somali Muslim woman who has truly earned her accomplishments. This would make a wonderful youth book club read!

 – 10 Steps to Getting and Staying Married: An Islamic Perspective by Ajmal Masroor [Genre: Relationships]

Everyone always asks me for Muslim marriage book recommendations, and I have always had to say that I don’t know of any books that aren’t severely problematic and filled with appalling sentiments about women.

Until now.

10 Steps to Getting and Staying Married was a shockingly good read, combining Islamic texts with solid relationship advice on how to ensure that one is themselves a healthy individual before pursuing marriage, also providing practical information on how to establish a healthy and wholesome marriage.

I genuinely appreciated that neither men nor women were targeted negatively, and the advice given was meted out equally to both men and women – while also acknowledging that men and women do have some inherent differences (however, this section didn’t have any citations for the research, which significantly weakened the arguments he was making).

The author does reference professionals such as John Gottman (a world-renowned American psychologist who specializes in marriage and relationships) of the Gottman Institute, in addition to Islamic sources, which was refreshing. Each section includes activities for both self-reflection with one’s spouse (or prospective spouse), which I found very interesting.

I did have a few quibbles: most serious was quoting alleged ahadith with zero citations, which is very dangerous. There were a few typos/ spelling errors. I didn’t agree with statements like “mahr is the property of the couple” (although he does goes on to emphasize that mahr is the wife’s), or that marriage/ procreation is obligatory for Muslims. Overall, this book included a well-rounded perspective with both Islamic analysis and understanding as well as reference to principles of professional relationship counseling.

 – Futuwwah And Raising Males Into Sacred Manhood by Dawud Walid [Genre: Non-fiction]

Futuwwah and Raising Males Into Sacred Manhood by Dawud Walid caught my eye, given the current (online) climate of Muslim discourse on gender and gender roles. With all the hype over ‘sacred manhood’ and ‘Muslim masculinity,’ with the book, I expected a discussion about Muslim masculinity.

Instead, it ended up being little more than a very generic list of Islamic values such as generosity, honor, truthfulness, and so on. Despite the heavy usage of the word “futuwwah,” there was almost nothing actually specific to Muslim men. Outside of the foreword, the introduction, and the conclusion, there were only a few sentences that made any of the points specific to men rather than general to all believers.

I expected more detail especially regarding modesty, sexual restraint, and ‘vigilant care’ (as the author translates the word ghayrah), which are all extremely important and relevant topics for young Muslim men. However, there was almost nothing beyond the absolute basic generalities. There should have also been significant discussion of what it means for men to be qawwaam, as well as a definition of what it means to be dayyuth and how to avoid it – there was little beyond a couple vague sentences.

I was also deeply unimpressed by the over-usage of Shi’i and Sufi references (though of course one could say that this is merely my own bias, and not something that other readers would necessarily find concerning). One example where this influence seemed particularly unduly was in the chapter “Love and loathing for the Sake of Allah.” By the title, the reader expects that it would cover the concept of walaa and baraa; instead, it solely speaks of loving Ahlul Bayt. While loving Ahlul Bayt is indeed important to our deen, it is neither the primary focus of the concept of walaa and baraa, nor the extent of it). There was nothing mentioned about not humiliating oneself to the kuffaar, standing up for Islam in a meaningful way, or any number of other points that are traditionally mentioned when discussing the topic of walaa and baraa.

All in all, I was deeply disappointed by this book. This may be due to my expectations, given my own personal investment in the topic. Others may find this book to be a good introductory resource for teenage boys, before introducing them to other classical books of virtuous character and tahdhib al-akhlaaq. Personally, I would rather recommend Riyadh as-Saliheen, to be studied with a teacher or scholar who can connect the universal virtues and values of Islam specifically to male character and masculinity.


Do you have any book recommendations or suggestions for our staff to pick up and review? Leave your comments below!


Related reading:

Podcast: Is Harry Potter Haram? Islamic Perspectives Of Poetry And Literature With Sh. Shahin-Ur Rahman

Podcast: Is Harry Potter Haram? Islamic Perspectives Of Poetry And Literature With Sh. Shahin-Ur Rahman

The Muslim Bookstagram Awards 2022

The Muslim Bookstagram Awards 2022

The post From The MuslimMatters Bookshelf appeared first on

Source: Muslim Matters

Dirty Dawah [Part 3] – “The Infuriating” | Manufacturing Muslim Outrage

Dirty Dawah [Part 3] – “The Infuriating” | Manufacturing Muslim Outrage

What do Alex Jones and the Muslim community have in common? I’ll tell you, but it’s going to make you mad.

In this third part of  Dirty Dawah, I explore problematic trends in our online outreach to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Click here to read Part 1- Insulting in the name of Islam, or Part 2 – “Satisfying” Revenge In The Name of Islam.

And Now, To Dive In

Alex Jones is a right-wing radio host whose fame has been built on conspiracy theories and outrageous accusations. When the yogurt company Chobani began hiring refugees from Afghanistan and Syria, he accused them of “Importing Migrant Rapists.”

He accused Hillary Clinton of operating a child sex ring below a pizzeria (PizzaGate) and created mass hysteria by “alerting” the residents of Texas to an imminent invasion by the US military – operation Jade Helm.

“This is sensational news, Texas is listed in red as a hostile sector…I told ya, I’m deep behind enemy lines folks. I mean this—we are listed as a hostile sector, they’re having Delta Force, Navy SEALS, with the Army, train to basically take over. This is over the top.” source

The hysteria became so widespread that the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbot, sent the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercises conducted by the US military, as a sort of ‘just in case.’

Alex Jones was most recently in the news for being ordered to pay nearly one billion dollars to the families of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. He had been alleging that the shooting was another hoax, and that the “victims” and their “families” were actors. Twenty six people were killed, many of whom were elementary school children.

So what does this have to do with the Muslim community? It’s all big business in the industry of Manufactured Outrage.

On Outrage – Artificial vs. Organic

This really is a case where it’s better to go with organic. Good old natural outrage isn’t a problem. A certain amount of anger for the sake of Allah isn’t just permissible, it’s expected as a decent human. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

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 Muslim

Not only is righteous outrage a natural response to the outrageous, it’s also a force of positive social change.

When 14 year old Emmett Till was brutally murdered,  his death “pushed many who had been content to stay on the sidelines directly into the fight” for civil rights. 1 A photograph of Emmett’s mother standing beside the open casket of her son’s mutilated body was deemed to be one of the”100 most influential images of all time.2” by Time magazine.

Publications like What Has Happened to Me  and Guantanamo Voices tell stories that appeal to the righteous outrage we feel when a grave injustice has occurred.  How we respond to this grave injustice -or not – says as much about us as a society as it does individually.

“Of course, there is a good reason we feel an obligation to feel and express outrage: We assume it is a reliable force for social change. The absence of outrage in the face of the outrageous reflects a cowardly quietism, resignation, or apathy.” Professor Richard Thomson Ford. “The Outrage-Industrial Complex” Stanford School of Law

Righteous outrage, the kind that results from true injustice, spurs us to take positive action to rectify a wrong. It is a commendable and universal human response, and that is why manufactured outrage works so hard to impersonate it. Where righteous anger demands a response to factually established wrong, but manufactured outrage demands action for a wrong that is established through misinterpretation, misinformation, or misrepresentation.

Also referred to as outrage porn, manufactured outrage refers to any media designed to evoke a strong backlash, particularly for the sake of getting online traffic. Politicians use the anger they incite to rile up supporters, or claim the moral high ground in order to tar their opponents. On slow news days, media outlets use it to inflate minor occurrences into major stories.

“The ubiquitous outrage of today is a perversion of this American custom of politics-as-entertainment: Now, instead of reflecting sincere and mature political engagement, conspicuous outrage takes the place of it.” Professor Richard Thomson Ford. “The Outrage-Industrial Complex” Stanford School of Law

Conflation and Conflict

Compared to plain old lying, outrage media is harder to dispute because it is built on a grain of truth that is then deliberately misinterpreted. That is why its purveyors are able to present the “evidence” that lends legitimacy to their claims. It’s like a wolf wearing what was part of a sheep, but no longer qualifies as one.

It makes things even harder when the wolf in sheep’s skin grows a beard, wears a kufi, and uses the defense of Islam to deter disagreement. It’s a bit of a hostage situation, where people are discouraged from disagreement for fear of attacking Islam.

Conflating the sanctity of their opinion with the sanctity of Islam itself, videos like these can be hard to disprove without a depth of Islamic study not available to your standard Muslim viewer.  Or, without taking a deep-dive into some of the nuanced topics so often misrepresented in over-simplified ways, and who has time for that?

There are many, many ways that this distortion is happening in the Muslim media, and in the next few installments of this series of Dirty Dawah, I’ll be sharing a few specific examples. I will not be sharing the channel names or identifying information about the Muslim da’ees who are making the errors I discuss. For a full explanation of why, please see the disclaimer in Dirty Dawah [Part 1] Insult in the Name of Islam.

Dirty Da’wah [Part 1] – Insult In The Name Of Islam


Misrepresentation: Sisters On The Verge of Kufr?

There are a number of videos in which Muslim influencers dishonestly rebuke other Muslims for things taken out of context, either through cherry picking, creative editing, or some other form of misrepresentation. 

For this section, I will be discussing an actual case of misrepresentation where a number of videos have been made ridiculing and criticizing the content of another Dawah channel.

This begins with two Da’ees reacting to a video in which a group of Muslim women discuss the abuses that happen when polygamy is practiced improperly. The influencers begin their reaction three minutes after the source video begins, while one of the female hosts is in mid-sentence. She is heard to say, 

Sister 2: “- the environment around polygamy and what happens in the aftermath of it is really toxic and judgey and negative. There’s a lot of pressure to react in a certain way, there’s a lot of pressure to uh, accept that being like the automatic position. Like if you’re a Muslim you accept what God allows, so why are you struggling? Like what’s wrong with you? It’s bringing your faith into question and you’re – I hear it over and over, I want- I love Allah, I love this faith, this is something that Allah Subhanallah wa ta’ala allowed, why is it breaking me? And I think that that’s what I want to talk about today.” 

Sister 3: “So women are questioning themselves? Questioning their level of faith because it is something breaking them? Is that being the experience that you’ve had with people that you’ve spoken to and worked with?”

Sister 2: “I think that it’s an opportunity to put a wedge between a woman and Allah Subhanuhu wa ta’ala if she thinks that it’s being positioned that Allah Azzawajal allowed me to do this to you.” 

Sister 3: “So it’s like the spiritual abuse, when something’s going on to happen and then I say I have this God card that says I can do it to you, so if you have a problem with it, you have a problem with God.” 

The impression that the viewer could take from this clip is that the women are discussing polygamy without any further context, and thus they are suggesting that polygamy itself is a form of spiritual abuse.  Here the clip of the sisters is cut, and one of the Da’ees in the video provides a disclaimer:

Da’ee 1: “Just to be just yeah, before the video starts – because we don’t want the sisters to be like you didn’t put the beginning bit. In the beginning bit they make it very categorically clear that they do not have an issue with polygamy itself. It is from Allah, but when we watch the video, we’ve yet to see – they said they wanted to touch upon the way the polygamy is done the wrong way, so we’re going to see if they even touch up on that. Just to give that disclaimer they said that. Now going straight to this.”

Da’ee 2: “I think what she said is highly problematic, she is not giving an example of where there is a miscarriage of justice from the Islamic paradigm. She’s just talking plainly about polygamy as an institution or as a form of marriage that Islam allows.”

Da’ee 1:  “It’s clearly in the pretext, not even in the subtext of what these women are saying that just basically engaging in this act itself [polygamy] is a kind of spiritual abuse.”

Da’ee  2: “Exactly. This is verging on Kufr.” 

The two Da’ees are correct in that if the sisters in the video actually been declaring a halal thing to be haram, they would have been committing a major sin.

وَلَا تَقُولُوا۟ لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ ٱلْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَـٰلٌۭ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌۭ لِّتَفْتَرُوا۟ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ٱلْكَذِبَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ٱلْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُون

Do not falsely declare with your tongues, “This is lawful, and that is unlawful,” ˹only˺ fabricating lies against Allah. Indeed, those who fabricate lies against Allah will never succeed. The Holy Qur’an, 16/116

Muslim scholars agree unanimously that only Allah has the right to legislate halal or haram through the Qur’an or through His messenger, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). In his book The Lawful and The Prohibited in Islam, Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi – one of the world’s leading scholars before he passed away this September – wrote,

“Nobody is allowed to forbid something that Allah has permitted. If he did so he would be exceeding the limits set by Allah and claiming to himself what is a divine attribute of Allah. Moreover, those who accept and follow this man-made legislation will also be held responsible.”

That is why, had the sisters in this video been declaring polygamy to be haram, a correction would absolutely be in order.  In spite of how this refutation is positioned, that isn’t actually the case.

The two Da’ees in the refutation video began their critique by skipping the context that clearly explained the topic of the video, and thus contradicted the basis for their reaction in the first place. Here is what the sisters were actually saying, from the beginning of the original video, without any omissions.

Sister Da’ee 1: “First of all, it’s really important for me to say Allah ‘azzawajal has spoken on this and we are not here to discuss whether this is good, bad – Allah has spoken. Polygamy is permissible just as monogamy is permissible. Allah has made it halal and that is not what we’re bringing to the table. What we are bringing to the table when we discuss polygamy is how it is done, the effect that it has on individuals as a result of how it is executed and yeah- that’s what we’re going to bring to the table, Bismillah.

Sister Da’ee 2: “So you started, we’re talking about execution and how it’s being done, not the principle in our faith. Um, because that’s to avoid all of this “it’s allowed, it’s not-“ we’re not talking about that. Um, so execution – how is this being done? What are the effects it has? It’s not being done right. It’s a big issue. By the vast majority it’s a big issue, because there are cases where it works, there are cases where people choose this, there are cases where all of the positives are there, but that’s not what we’re discussing. We’re discussing where it’s an issue, where it’s to where it’s detrimental.

“Um, and obviously we’re talking about the position. I think you can’t escape a related kind of issue, which is the issue of secret marriages, they’re kind of hand in hand in the way it’s being done. So you have the case of a woman who has been married for x number of years, has children or doesn’t, and for whatever reason her husband has remarried in some cases they know, and in some cases he tells her this is what I’m going to do, and in other cases it’s done in secret where she will find out after the fact in short period of time, or well after the fact. And what this does to her, I think in the cases that I’ve seen and worked with in my own life experience, the environment around polygamy and what happens in the aftermath of it is really toxic.”

And here, in the final half the last sentence is where the critique begins, deprived of context and the emphatic confirmation that polygamy is halal and that its permissibility was not up for discussion.  

When a person calls his brother (in Islam) a disbeliever (kafir), one of them will certainly deserve the title. If the addressee is so as he has asserted, the disbelief of the man is confirmed, but if it is untrue, then it will revert to him.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

In the spirit of husne-zhann, in which we give others the benefit of the doubt, we can try to suggest that the two brothers somehow missed the entire point of what the sisters in the video were saying, and that their entire critique was a misunderstanding.

If that were the case, could the brothers not have communicated with the sisters directly and respectfully through any of their Dawah channel’s many social media accounts? (Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Youtube?)

And if we assume the brothers to be making a genuine mistake, how do we explain why they did not take the video down when Muslim viewers pointed the discrepancy out in the comments?

When a Muslim makes a mistake, it is their job to repent, and if their mistake involves another person or party, it’s their job to apologize directly to them and make amends. 

If we are to assume an honest mistake, then we can look forward to the video being removed, and the two influencers replacing it with an apology and an explanation of what went wrong as soon as they found out. Over three months and 200k views later, we have yet to see one.

Rather than an honest representation, a private conversation, admission of error, or public retraction, what we in DIrty Dawah like this is  a pattern of criticism, refutation, and a toxic culture of reaction videos, as well as the subsequent reactions, reactions to the reactions, and the rebuttals to the reactions that have been reacted to. And a special mention must be made here, where that pattern is directed against Muslim women. 

Competing in the Sport of Public Spectacle

When dawah channels intentionally misrepresent information in order to refute, it’s hard to see the effort as sincere. It’s even harder when they double down on the misrepresentation and fail to correct it or apologize for it.

When videos like these stay online, we have to wonder who they are meant to benefit. With other da’ees are being insulted, and Muslim viewers are being misled, what exactly does content like this improve?

The bottom line.

“According to a variety of sources, YouTubers can make anywhere between $0.01 to $0.03 per view with AdSense, with an average of $0.18 per view.” – Source

Without paid sponsors or promotions, youtubers make between 3$ to 5$ per 1000 views. When they allow Adsense to run on their videos, they can make $18 dollars per thousand views. Further revenue can also be generated through paid video sponsors, endorsements, and those prices depend on the amount of clout these platforms bring to the negotiating table.

Because platforms like Youtube incentive popularity (not accuracy), our religious outreach has fallen into the same popularity contest that news media has. In order to successfully compete for our attention – and thus, ad revenue – Da’ees one-up each other in the quest for the most shocking, most infuriating, and most outrageous videos possible.

“News and media outlets know that headlines attract readers, so they use this to their advantage. Often times headlines feature an over-exaggerated display of events. With the right wording, the most mundane thing can be blown out of proportion.” – Rylan Vanacore, RIT Reporter

“Ideally we should be fulfilling the expectations we have of da’wah to begin with – good akhlaaq, and respect for one another,” says writer and activist Zainab Bint Younus, who has been involved in online Dawah for the past 16 years. “Instead, we get swearing, threats, and personal attacks.” 

“Public trolling is a threat used against Muslim women. I know plenty of Muslim women – Shaykhas and activists, who have had to retreat from the internet and public life or avoid talking about certain things because they know they will be harassed and attacked. They have people threatening their homes and families. This effectively pushes aside female da’wah/ scholarly participation, which in turn reinforces some of our community’s worst habits and patterns of disrespecting and even harming women.” 

The Cost the Muslim Community Pays

The net effect of sensationalized, misrepresented, and artificially inflated “controversies” like these is:

  • The creation of conflict between da’ees, influencers, and scholars.
  • Infighting between the respective viewers/subscribers at odds with each other.
  • The discrediting of Muslim scholarship and institutions.
  • The tainting of truth with the lies of intellectual dishonesty and sensationalism.

The Prophet SAW reinforced the requirement of good manners and gentle speech – not only in dawah, but in our lives as Muslim as a whole – in many, many ahadith. When Muslim influencers turn a dishonest spotlight of criticism onto other Islamic content, they set a combative tone for how others engage with the channels, scholars, and leaders targeted.

It’s hard to see this as good for the community, and harder to see “da’wah” like this as a good deed. Ibn Taymiyyah wrote in Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah, that:

Likewise in responding to the people of innovation among rejecters and others, if its intention is not to clarify the truth, guide the creation, and offer them mercy and goodness, then it is not a righteous deed.

If he is harsh in condemning innovation and disobedience, his intention should be to clarify what is in them of corruption and to warn the servants of Allah, as in the texts (verses) of warning and others. A man may be boycotted as a discretionary punishment, and the objective of that is to deter him and those like him as an act of mercy and goodness, not as revenge and vengeance.”

While defending Islam is the responsibility of every Muslim, but it cannot be separated from how Islam instructs us to do so – with sincerity, good manners, and the well-being of the other person in mind. Content that creates controversy to direct traffic through public anger isn’t actual refutation. It’s a lie, and what some da’ees gain from manufactured outrage, the Muslim community loses.

Part 4 of Dirty Dawah coming soon to a MuslimMatters near you.

2    Hampton, Henry (1990). Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s

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Source: Muslim Matters