Allah has ordained the good treatment of parents.
If you type the words, “kindness to parents” in Google, six of the first ten results are Islamic articles stressing the importance of being dutiful and kind to one’s parents.
Why is this so?
Islam is a beautiful religion that stresses the qualities of mercy, tolerance and respect among human beings. Allah has ordained the good treatment of parents and warned us against treating them with disrespect. There are several verses in the Qur’an where kindness to parents is even coupled with the most important aspect of Islam; worshipping Allah alone. This indicates that being kind to parents, honoring and respecting them, is extremely important in the way of life that Islam stipulates.
And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. (Al-Israa’ 17:23)
It is crystal clear in this verse that no word of disrespect should be uttered toward a parent, nor even a look of resentment or contempt. Honoring parents can be considered a form of worship if the intention is to please Almighty Allah by respecting His commands.
Allah continues this verse by reminding us that parents are deserving of kindness because they raised their children with gentleness and often made great sacrifices for their wellbeing. His use of the word wing invokes the image of a mother bird tenderly shielding her young and calls to mind the gentleness that parents have for their children.
And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.’ (Al-Israa’ 17:24)
The love and mercy that emanates from the Most Merciful Allah is manifest in the kind treatment existing between parents and their children. Allah clearly prohibits the bad treatment of parents, and in another verse of the Qur’an He enjoins on us the need to show gratitude to Him, our Creator, as well as our parents. Again, Allah clearly links the rights owed to Him to the rights owed to parents.
And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.” (Luqman 31:14)
Prophet Muhammad reinforced the duty to be kind to parents. A companion of the Prophet once asked him which of the many good deeds a man can do is the most loved by Allah. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) answered him by saying, “To offer the Prayer in its proper time”. The companion then asked, “And what is next?” to which Prophet Muhammad replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents…” (Al-Bukhari). The responsibility to be kind and good to parents comes right after the greatest duty in Islam, the prayer.
More than Goodness
The Arabic word that is used in the Qur’an and the narrations of Prophet Muhammad to denote this kindness to parents as bir, and more often than not, it is translated as goodness. However, as is the case with most Arabic words, a direct translation into English often fails to explain the true depth of meaning. Bir does not only mean goodness; it contains shades of meaning that indicate kindness, compassion, respect and even patience. Islam, the way of life, encompasses all these qualities, and Muslims must strive to model this behavior in all dealings, particularly in the relationship between parents and their children.
With hardship and endurance, most parents care for and nurture their children their entire lives, but at one point this duty reverses, parents become old and feeble and in need of this care and nurturing themselves. The child is obligated to care for the parents by displaying all the qualities of bir and knowing that the reward for this is with Allah. Prophet Muhammad said, “If anyone possesses these three characteristics Allah will give him an easy death and bring him into His Paradise: gentleness towards the weak, affection towards parents, and kindness to slaves.” (At-Tirmidhi)
One Man’s Devotion
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) was a close companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He is credited with remembering and transmitting many of the Prophetic sayings. The life of Abu Hurairah also contains many demonstrations of his love and devotion to his mother. When he first embraced Islam, no amount of pleading could convince his mother to do the same. Weeping and afraid, Abu Hurairah approached the Prophet and begged him to make supplication to Allah asking that his mother be guided. Prophet Muhammad complied with this request and within a very short period of time Abu Hurairah’s mother uttered the words, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his slave and Messenger”, thus embracing Islam.
Throughout his life, Abu Hurairah remained kind and courteous to his mother. Whenever he wanted to leave home, he would stand at the door of her room and say, “Peace be on you, mother, and the mercy and blessings of Allah.” She would reply, “And on you be peace, my son, and the mercy and blessings of Allah.” He would also say, “May Allah have mercy on you as you cared for me when I was small,” to which she would reply, “May Allah have mercy on you as you delivered me from error when I was old.”
Abu Hurairah always encouraged other people to be kind and good to their parents. One day he saw two men walking together and enquired of the younger one, “Who is this man to you?” to which the young man replied, “He is my father”. Abu Hurairah advised him by saying, “Do not call him by his name, do not walk in front of him, and do not seat yourself before he does”.
Therefore, this gentleness and affection Abu Hurairah demonstrated to his mother teaches us that mutual respect and love is a duty. A Muslim is obliged to show respect towards parents even if they are non-Muslim, and the greatest love he can show towards them is to supplicate to Allah in hope that they will be guided to Islam. At the time of the Prophet, many of those who embraced Islam found that it conflicted with the beliefs and requests of their parents, but they were taught to be kind and to obey their parents, except if the parents demanded they disobey Allah.
But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not, but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to Me in repentance and in obedience. Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do. (Luqman 31:15)
Being dutiful to parents, obeying them and treating them with kindness is embedded in the teachings of Islam. However, obedience to Allah is always the first and foremost duty in Islam.
This article was originally published on islamreligion.com. It has been taken with modifications from onislam.net
By Aisha Stacey
Suicide or hara kiri is part of the ancient Japanese honor code and is noted in Asian cultures. It is not something confined to Western civilization and is even found in Muslim majority countries even though it is well known that it is something clearly prohibited in Islam.
And do not kill yourselves. Surely, God is Most Merciful to you. (Quran 4:29)
The Gift of Life
In the Quran there are sanctions against suicide.
And do not kill yourselves. Surely, God is Most Merciful to you. (Quran 4:29)
And do not throw yourselves in destruction. (Quran 2:195)
The Quran makes it clear that human life is sacred. Life cannot be taken without justification and the right to life is inherent in the tenants of Islam. Life itself is a gift from the Creator that we are obliged to care for.
Suicide out of despair of God’s mercy or worldly problems is strictly forbidden. Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, said:
Whoever kills himself with something in this world will be punished with it on the Day of Resurrection.(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
It is a major sin and its punishment is subject to the will of God. If He wills, He will forgive it, and if He wills He will punish for it.
Life is an unending succession of moments. At the two extremes there are joyful moments that make our hearts soar and dark moments that plunge us into sadness and worry or even despair.
Gladness and its opposite sadness are part of the human condition, however when we lose control over our emotions we can easily fall into despair. Despair is the feeling that we get when all hope has disappeared and it is a very dangerous situation.
Do not Despair of Allah’s Mercy
God tells us not to despair and particularly not to despair of His mercy. God has not abandoned us in face of the temptations and trials we face in this world; He is ever merciful and has equipped us with potent weapons.
God, the Most Merciful, gives us clear guidelines and promises two things, if we worship Him and follow His guidance we will be rewarded with Paradise and that after hardship we will find ease.
But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, We shall admit them to the Gardens under which rivers flow (i.e., in Paradise), to dwell therein forever. [It is] the promise of God, [which is] truth, and whose words can be truer than those of God. (Quran 4:122)
So verily, with hardship, there is ease. (Quran 94:5)
When Prophet Jacob was grieving and sad, he turned to God, and the Quran tells us that he beseeched God for relief.
He said: ‘I only complain of my grief and sorrow to God… (Quran 12:86)
Prophet Muhammad also said:
No misfortune or disease befalls a Muslim, no worry or grief or harm or distress – not even a thorn that pricks him – but God will expiate for some of his sins because of that. (Al-Bukhari)
The religion of Islam is primarily concerned with making and keeping a connection with the One God. One of the biggest mistakes that people can make is to separate their worldly life from their religious life.
The Sin of Ending One’s Life
The stressful situations that cause us to despair and feel unconnected to God always originate in the affairs of this world, such as emotional issues, financial stress, substance abuse or health issues.
Especially in this new century one of the most common reasons for despair is a sense of isolation or detachment from others.
God has promised us that He is well aware of the situations that we face and He has given us weapons with which to face them.
When it comes to despair, the condition that could in some situations lead a person to contemplate taking his or her own life, we need to dig a little deeper, we need to remind ourselves first and foremost that God is Merciful and that no matter what situation we find ourselves in He is ready to forgive and help.
God the most merciful, compassionate, and beneficent has instructed us to inculcate these attributes and treat each other with respect and fairness. This includes not leaving anyone alone with their problems and worries.
How Important Support and Care Are!
A little bit of support and care might help someone avoid the sin of ending their own life. God also tells us not to mock, scorn, insult, abuse or put down one another.
O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Quran 49:11)
Both God and Prophet Muhammad remind us that He will punish those of us who commit injustices or oppress others.
And whoever oppresses (commits injustice) among you, We will make him taste a great punishment. (Quran 25:19)
Prophet Muhammad said: A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfills the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever covers the faults of a Muslim, Allah will cover his faults on the Day of Resurrection. (Al-Bukhari)
Thus there is certainly a benefit in treating others well, especially in coming to the aid of friends or family members who are overwhelmed by life’s cruelties and injustices.
However what of the people who feel alone, crushed by circumstance and are teetering on the edge of despair.
How can a person suffering from suicidal thoughts bring themselves back from the brink?
This can be achieved in many ways; firstly by strengthening one’s relationship with God. This is achieved by reading the Quran, being mindful of Him and making lots of du’a (supplication) to God.
Next a person would do well to recognize Satan’s hand in this matter. He whispers frightening scenarios of poverty and helplessness. They are not true for God’s mercy conquers all. Cling to Him and to Islam even in the darkest hour and the longest night.
Along with the weapons mentioned earlier God also gave us Prophet Muhammad, a mercy to all the worlds, to all the people. Trying to emulate him, this will make a despairing person calmer and closer to God.
If we are mindful that God has control over all things and that He ultimately wants us to live forever in Paradise, we can begin to leave our sadness and worry behind.
If we face our fears and anxieties with complete trust in God and if we show patience and gratitude with all our circumstances, sadness and worry will disappear or at least feel lighter. Prophet Muhammad said:
Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit. If he is granted ease then he is thankful, and this is good for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres, and this is good for him. (Muslim)
Alex Lickerman M.D.
Though I’ve never lost a friend or family member to suicide, I have lost a patient. I have known a number of people left behind by the suicide of people close to them, however. Given how much losing my patient affected me, I’ve only been able to guess at the devastation these people have experienced. Pain mixed with guilt, anger, and regret makes for a bitter drink, the taste of which I’ve seen take many months or even years to wash out of some mouths.
The wounds suicide leaves in the lives of those left behind by it are often deep and long lasting.
The one question everyone has asked without exception, that they ache to have answered more than any other, is simply: why? Why did their friend, child, parent, spouse, or sibling take their own life? Even when a note explaining the reasons is found, lingering questions usually remain: yes, they felt enough despair to want to die, but why did they feel that? A person’s suicide often takes the people it leaves behind by surprise (only accentuating survivor’s guilt for failing to see it coming).
People who’ve survived suicide attempts have reported wanting not so much to die as to stop living, a strange dichotomy, but a valid one nevertheless. If some in-between state existed, some other alternative to death, I suspect many suicidal people would take it. For the sake of all those reading this who might have been left behind by someone’s suicide, I wanted to describe how I was trained to think about the reasons people kill themselves. They’re not as intuitive as most think.
In general, people try to kill themselves for six reasons:
1. They’re depressed.
This is, without question, the most common reason people die by suicide. Severe depression is almost always accompanied by a pervasive sense of suffering as well as the belief that escape from it is hopeless. The pain of existence often becomes too much for severely depressed people to bear. The state of depression warps their thinking, allowing ideas like, “Everyone would all be better off without me” to make rational sense.
They shouldn’t be blamed for falling prey to such distorted thoughts any more than a heart patient should be blamed for experiencing chest pain; it’s simply the nature of their disease. Because depression, as we all know, is almost always treatable, we should all seek to recognize its presence in our close friends and loved ones. Often, people suffer with it silently, planning suicide without anyone ever knowing. Despite making both parties uncomfortable, inquiring directly about suicidal thoughts, in my experience, almost always yields an honest response. If you suspect someone might be depressed, don’t allow your tendency to deny the possibility of suicidal ideation prevent you from asking about it.
2. They’re psychotic.
Malevolent inner voices often command self-destruction for unintelligible reasons. Psychosis is much harder to mask than depression, and is arguably even more tragic. The worldwide incidence of schizophrenia is 1 percent and often strikes otherwise healthy, high-performing individuals, whose lives, though manageable with medication, are often derailed from their original promise. Schizophrenics are just as likely to talk freely about the voices commanding them to kill themselves as not, and also, in my experience, give honest answers about thoughts of suicide when asked directly. Psychosis, too, is treatable, and usually must be treated for a schizophrenic to be able to function at all. Untreated or poorly treated psychosis almost always requires hospital admission until the voices lose their commanding power.
3. They’re impulsive.
Often related to drugs and alcohol, some people become maudlin and impulsively attempt to end their own lives. This is when, they are taken to huntington beach rehabs in order to get them out of addiction. Once sobered and calmed, these people usually feel emphatically ashamed. The people who have taken treatment at iop rehab miami, often confess that the remorse is often genuine, but whether or not they’ll ever attempt suicide again is unpredictable. They may try it again the very next time they become drunk or high, or never again in their lifetime. Hospital admission is, therefore, not usually indicated. According to drug rehab LA, substance abuse and the underlying reasons for it are generally a greater concern in these people and should be addressed as aggressively as possible.
4. They’re crying out for help, and don’t know how else to get it.
These people don’t usually want to die but do want to alert those around them that something is seriously wrong. They often don’t believe they will die, frequently choosing methods they don’t think can kill them in order to call attention to their challenges, but they are sometimes tragically misinformed. For instance, a young teenage girl suffering genuine angst because she feels lonely or has gotten into a devastating fight with her parents, may swallow a bottle of Tylenol—not realizing that in high enough doses, Tylenol causes irreversible liver damage. I’ve watched more than one teenager die a horrible death in an ICU days after such an ingestion when remorse has already cured them of their desire to die and their true goal of alerting those close to them of their distress has been achieved.
5. They have a philosophical desire to die.
The decision to die by suicide for some is based on a reasoned decision, often motivated by the presence of a painful terminal illness from which little to no hope of reprieve exists. These people aren’t depressed, psychotic, maudlin, or crying out for help. They’re trying to take control of their destiny and alleviate their own suffering, which usually can only be done in death. They often look at their choice to die by suicide as a way to shorten a dying that will happen regardless. In my personal view, if such people are evaluated by a qualified professional who can reliably exclude the other possibilities for why suicide is desired, these people should be allowed to die at their own hands.
6. They’ve made a mistake.
This is a recent, tragic phenomenon in which typically young people flirt with oxygen deprivation for the high it brings and simply go too far. The only defense against this, it seems to me, is education.
The wounds suicide leaves in the lives of those left behind by it are often deep and long lasting. The apparent senselessness of suicide often fuels the most significant pain. Thinking we all deal better with tragedy when we understand its underpinnings, I’ve offered the preceding paragraphs in hopes that anyone reading this who’s been left behind by a suicide might be able to more easily find a way to move on, to relinquish their guilt and anger, and find closure. Despite the abrupt way you may have been left, guilt and anger don’t have to be the only two emotions you’re doomed to feel about the one who left you.
The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah.
As the primary religious institution, the masjid has the greatest role in community building, and its success in performing this role is essential for the wellbeing of the community, particularly where Muslims live as minorities.
Sadly, the role of the masjid in many Muslim communities around the globe has recently been reduced to being a physical place where prayers are offered. It is time to reverse that trend and revive the role of this institution to what it was in the early history of Islam. Such a revival cannot be fully realized without first developing a clear understanding from the revelation, the Qur’an and Sunnah, about the importance, virtue, and role of the masjid in Islam.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The best patches (of earth) are the masajid (mosques) and the worst are the markets.” (Ibn Hibban)
Thus, Allah chose His Prophets to establish them, He said:
And (mention) when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and (with him) Ishmael. (Al-Baqarah 2:127)
And He commanded them to purify them and keep them clean, He said:
And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, (saying), “Purify My House”… (Al-Baqarah 2:125)
Furthermore, Allah made the reward of building the masajid most abundant. Regarding this, the Messenger of Allah said:
“Whoever builds a mosque for Allah, though it be the size of the ground nest of a sand-grouse, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise.” (Ibn Majah)
Refuge for Hearts
Allah made the masajid a refuge for the hearts of His righteous servants, as the Prophet said:
“There are seven (types of people) whom Allah will protect with His Shade, on the Day (of Resurrection) when there will be no shade except His Shade.” Of them is, “A person whose heart is attached to the masjid.”
It should suffice the caretakers of the masajid that Allah praised them with this description,
The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah, for it is expected that those will be of the (rightly) guided. (At-Tawbah 9:18)
It was not a coincidence that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) started his mission in Madinah by building the masjid, which he made in its center.
The masjid takes its name from one of the actions of salah (prayer), which is sujud (prostration). It is the action wherein the believer shows the utmost humility to Allah. The salah is the best of our actions, as the Prophet told us in the hadith of Thawban.
However, the role of the masjid is not limited to the performance of salah. The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah, and not only their bodies. They are places of tarbiyah (refinement) of the Muslim character.
To the Prophet and his Companions, the masjid was not only a place where they prayed, but it was also a place where they learned, recited the Qur’an, made dhikr (remembrance) and du`aa’ (supplication), met with each other, socialized, received the delegations, prepared the expeditions and raised funds for various good causes.
In fact, it was sometimes even a place for tending to the sick, and a shelter for the homeless. In the physical world, it was at the center of their lives. At the same time, it was the cradle of their learning and spiritual growth.
Whatever can be said about the importance of the masjid for Muslim communities throughout the world it is even more magnified when we talk about the Muslim minorities, to whom the masjid is truly the ark of Noah. In America, for example, Muslims are a small minority scattered throughout a large continent. For some of them, weeks or months may pass by without getting a chance to see another Muslim except in the masjid.
The masjid, therefore, constitutes the link between them and their deen (religion). In it, they develop that emotional bond with their community, which is vital to the wellbeing of their allegiance to the Ummah and faith in Allah. Many youth may find in the masjid the role models they lack at home.
In addition to this, for Muslims to see a masjid– especially the youth who did not grow up in Muslim countries– is vital because it’s the most evident symbol of Islam in their tangible world.
The pressing question now is how to revive the role of the masjid in our times, particularly where Muslims live as minorities? Here are some of the things we need to do as a community.
We need to educate ourselves regarding what may be done at the masjid…
To begin with, one must emphasize that the primary actions in the masjid are salah (prayers), dhikr (mention of Allah), du`aa’ (supplication), tilawah (recitation), and education.
In light of that, priority must be given to the main jama`ah (congregants) of the masjid and activities led by the designated imam. Those who do anything else, or do something other than what the main jama`ah does, should not cause disruption. Abu Sa`eed narrated that the Prophet was in i`tikaf and heard them raising their voices with recitation, so he said:
“Each one of you is in munajah (soft conversation) with his Lord, so don’t bother one another, and don’t raise your voices above each other in recitation (or salah).” (Abu Dawud)
If it is prohibited for someone who is praying or reciting the Qur’an to bother the other worshipers, then it is more prohibited for someone doing something inferior to that to bother them.
Having said that, there is still room for much to be done at the masjid, and while many actions are prohibited in it, such as conducting business, advertising, announcing lost items, many other practices are thought to be prohibited when they are not.
Some of us Muslims have this mental image of the masjid as a sterile, extremely quiet place where people pray together and disperse thereafter. This causes some to enforce many restrictions in the masjid that would eventually make it an unwelcoming place for children and families, and even to adult men. However, a tour through the masjid of the Prophet (peace be upon him) during his time may help us rid ourselves of this false conviction.
To be continued…
By Saulat Pervez
Islam’s code of modesty extends to all aspects of one’s life, including attire. b, the head-covering worn by Muslim women, is an outer manifestation of an inner commitment to worship God. But why actually do Muslim women cover their heads?
More than a dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech.
This brochure explores the different dimensions hijab brings to the lives of women and the responsibility men and women share in upholding modesty in society. Along the way, it debunks common stereotypes and celebrates the voices of women who practice hijab with pride!
One of the questions often asked by people is, “Why do Muslim women cover their heads?” The answer lies in understanding the essence of one’s existence as explained in Islam.
Act of Worship
Muslims believe that their true purpose in life is to worship God according to His instructions, as revealed in the Qur’an and through the teachings of Muhammad(peace be upon him), the final prophet of Islam.
Worship in Islam is a holistic concept which encourages God-consciousness in every facet of daily life, from charity and neighborliness to prayer and honest dealings in business. Modest clothing is an integral aspect of worship in Islam as well.
In the Qur’an, God says,
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms… (An-Nur 24:31)
When God revealed this verse, the female companions of the Prophet Muhammad promptly adopted these guidelines. In a similar spirit of obedience, Muslim women have maintained modest covering (hijab) ever since.
Hence, the primary motivation for covering/wearing the hijab is to obey God.
A Personal Journey
Wearing hijab is a personal and independent decision that comes from a sincere yearning to please God while appreciating the wisdom underlying His command. Many people mistakenly believe that women are forced to cover their heads/wear the hijab. This concept is not based on Islamic teachings as God says in the Qur’an, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah 2:256).
Likewise, Prophet Muhammad never forced religion upon anyone. If a woman is being forced to cover, it is contrary to this clear Islamic principle and might be due to cultural or social pressure. According to Islam, a woman willfully chooses to commit to this act of worship.
Days of contemplation, an inevitable fear of consequences as well as reactions and, ultimately, plenty of courage weigh heavily in making the leap.
Katherine Bullock, a Canadian convert to Islam, stated, “For me, the lead up to the decision to wear hijab was more difficult than actually wearing it. I found that, praise be to God, although I did receive negative comments from people, I appreciated the feeling of modesty that wearing the hijab gave me.”
Further, many people make the error of thinking that the hijab is a definitive statement of a woman’s religiosity, as if it is a clear indicator of her spiritual commitment. While veiling is a reflection of one’s beliefs, the hijab simultaneously becomes a tangible reminder to the woman herself: to embody the modesty and dignity it represents and to carry one’s self in a way that pleases God. In that sense, the hijab symbolizes a journey of devotion rather than the end-result of piety.
“After I started wearing hijab,” continued Bullock, “I noticed that people would often behave more cautiously with me, like apologizing if they swore. I appreciated that. I feel that wearing hijab has given me an insight into a decent and upright lifestyle.”
Saba Baig, an American woman converted to Islam, stated, “Before I started wearing hijab my self-perception was rooted in other people’s perceptions of me. I dressed to elicit compliments, keep up with the latest trend, wearing the most desired brand name – which had very little to do with me, and more importantly, what God thought of me.
Before hijab I was in bondage to the surrounding society. After hijab, I became attached to God. With that connection to God came an enormous amount of freedom. Confidence and self-respect were just some of the benefits.”
Ambassadors of Faith
Generalizations and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims are rampant in today’s society and, by extension, in the minds of many people whose worldview is shaped by the media. Muslim women in hijab are frequently stigmatized; they are regarded on the one hand as oppressed and, on the other, as religious fanatics. Due to such misconceptions, unfortunately, the larger society fails to acknowledge and appreciate Muslim women’s courage in standing up to societal norms in their determination to preserve their modesty.
Hijab clearly identifies women as followers of Islam, which can have its disadvantages in a land where misinformation about the faith and its adherents abounds. For instance, some Muslim women are discriminated against in the workplace while others are emotionally abused through insensitive remarks. Yet, drawing on inner strength and resolve, Muslim women take these incidents in stride. Their love for God and commitment to modesty empower them in the face of challenges.
Indeed, Muslim women identify themselves with Mary who is commemorated for her piety and modesty. Aminah Assilmi, who converted to Islam in 1977, was once asked about going out in public without her hijab and she responded, “I cannot help but wonder if they would have ordered Mary, the mother of Jesus, to uncover her hair.”
“By focusing on what God wants from me, and thinks of me, I am no longer a prisoner of other people’s desires,” declared Baig. “Knowing that I am doing what God, my Creator, has ordained for me gives me a contentment and happiness like no other.”
Despite all the odds, Muslim women in hijab have managed to carve a niche for themselves while upholding their Islamic identities. They actively participate in their surroundings, be it as homemakers or professionals, on the sports field or in the artistic arena, in public service or in charitable activities. Conspicuous in their head-coverings, these women have become ambassadors of the Islamic faith.
More than a dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech. The inner humility as exhibited through etiquettes and morals completes the significance of the physical veil. However, contrary to popular belief, these characteristics are not limited to women alone.
God also commands men to maintain their modesty in the Qur’an:
Tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do. (An-Nur 24:30)
In Islam, the responsibility falls on each gender to protect their own modesty and to control their own desires. Whether a woman dresses modestly or not, it is the obligation of each man to guard his own chastity.
While many people may think that hijab is worn primarily to restrain men’s illicit desires, this is another misconception. Indeed, it is not women’s duty to regulate the behavior of men. Men are accountable for their own conduct; they are equally required to be modest and to handle themselves responsibly in every sphere of their lives.
In reality, Muslim women cover/wear the hijab to seek the pleasure of God and to uphold Islam’s code of modesty. The majority of women who cover consider it a constant reminder that they do not adorn their bodies for men:
“Hijab forces someone to look past the external and focus on the internal. How many women do we know that feel they have to sexualize themselves to gain attention; why don’t we see as many men wearing short bottoms and tighter tops? Because we have always given men a pass on their looks, demanding from them success and intellect instead,” reflected Baig.
“Women however, are valued for their looks, their beauty. We have entire industries built upon making a woman feel that she isn’t pretty enough, or thin enough,” she added. “Hijab, on the other hand, takes one beyond the superficial. It elevates her in society by desexualizing her, and individuating her instead.”
Islam is a religion of moderation and balance; it does not expect women alone to uphold society’s morality and dignity.
Rather, Islam asks men and women to strive mutually to create a healthy social environment of practical values and morality. In short, the concept of modesty in Islam is holistic, and applies to both men and women. The ultimate goal is to please God and to maintain a wholesome and stable society:
…In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)
Islam clearly establishes that men and women are equal in front of God. At the same time, it does recognize that they are not identical. God created men and women with unique physiological and psychological attributes. In Islam, these differences are embraced as vital components to a healthy family and community structure with each individual contributing their own distinctive talents to society.
Hence, God’s rules apply to both genders, but in diverse ways. For example, men are also required to cover parts of their body out of modesty, but not in the same way as women. Similarly, men are prohibited from wearing silk clothing and gold ornaments whereas women have no such restrictions. Therefore, God has ordained different commands for men and women while encouraging both to be modest.
As more and more Muslim women embrace hijab, they renew their commitment to God through their appearance as they continue their lifelong spiritual journey. Unfortunately, such women often seem mysterious to those not acquainted with the religious significance of hijab.
Understanding the beliefs and lifestyle choices of Muslims, and the emphasis Islam places on modesty, eliminates the stereotypes associated with hijab. People of many different faiths and beliefs make up this patchwork world of ours. Muslims are an integral part of this diversity. It’s time we overcome our fears and bridge our distances. So, the next time you see a Muslim, stop and chat with them – and decide for yourself!
Is marriage an easy process in Islam? Why are parents making difficult conditions for marriage? What are the actual conditions of marriage in Islam?
Watch Baba Ali answering these questions and much more.
Source: Taken with kind permission from thedeenshow.com.