By Sister Naasira bint Ellison
Since the height of the feminist movement in the late 70`s there has been a magnifying glass placed over the status of Muslim women.
Unfortunately, the magnifying glass that has been used is an unusual one. Unusual in the sense that it is very selective about which items it will magnify; other items it will distort to such a degree that they will no longer look familiar.
Islam has the most humane and most just system of divorce that exists.
I remember once reading an “in depth” article about the lives of Muslim women. This article “explained” that at any time a man can divorce his wife by simply stating “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you”.
This article can lead anyone ignorant of the Islamic ruling regarding divorce to believe that in less than five seconds the woman is left with no husband and is left to care for herself (and possibly children) by any means necessary.
The question that immediately popped up in my mind was, “Did the author innocently write that out of sincere ignorance or was it another of the many attempts to degrade the religion of Islam and its followers (Muslims)?” It may be out of paranoia, but I tend to believe it was the latter of the two.
The Islamic System of Divorce
The truth of the matter is that Islam has the most humane and most just system of divorce that exists. Firstly, many options are taken and tried before coming to the decision of divorce. If the man and woman decide that they can no longer live together successfully as a husband and wife, the husband (in most cases, not always) pronounces the divorce by saying “I divorce you”. At this point the waiting period begins.
The Purposes of the Waiting Period
The waiting period lasts for three menstrual cycles to assure the woman is not pregnant. This period allows the couple time to think about what they are doing and if this is what they really want to do. There are no lawyers involved to antagonize an already delicate situation.
In the case that it is realized, that the woman is pregnant, the waiting period lasts the entire time she is pregnant. During the waiting period (whether the woman is pregnant or not) the man is obligated to provide food, clothing and shelter to the woman as he did before the divorce pronouncement.
If the couple carries the divorce through to the birth of the child and the woman suckles the baby, the man is obligated to feed and clothe both his ex-wife for the time the woman suckles (the maximum being two years). After his weaning, the child will be provided for by the father until he/she is no longer in need of support.
It is quite ironic that in such an “advanced society” as America, there are divorce cases in which women are being forced to pay alimony to their ex-husbands. Can this and many other things we know about the American system of divorce compare to the Islamic system of divorce?
Are Women Forced to Marry Men without Their Consent?
I have also read stories wherein it is stated that women are forced to marry men without their consent. This in no way resembles the marriage system in Islam. In Islam the woman marries the man of her choice. She may even marry someone that her mother and/or father objects to. The point is that it is the woman who makes the final decision as to whom she will marry.
Once the man and the woman decide that they are interested in one another for marriage, a dowry is decided upon. A dowry is not a bride’s price but it is a gift from the groom to the bride.
They agree upon a gift that is affordable by the groom. In the time of the Prophet (PBUH) , often things such as livestock and money were given. This is a wise decision in the event that a woman becomes divorced or widowed, she has some financial security to fall back on even if it is for a limited amount of time.
The Wife’s Basic Rights
Once the man and woman are married, the man is required to clothe, feed, shelter and educate her (or allow her to be educated) in the same manner as he does himself.
Muslim Women’s Dress Code
The last distorted image that I will cover is that of the Muslim women`s dress. The western-influenced media portrays our dress to be outdated and oppressive. Needless to say, I differ with these adjectives. Our dress code does not hinder us from doing anything productive in our lives.
Muslim women maintain a variety of jobs, none of which are devalued nor hampered due to their dress code. And as for the timing of Muslim women`s dress during these contemporary times, it seems most appropriate due to decreasing morals in the world today.
For those who say that Islamic dress is outdated, they speak from great ignorance. The decreasing morality and trials of this time makes Hijab even more in need. More than ever before sex crimes are rampant.
Although this society tells women they can wear what they want to wear, anytime a rape occurs the woman is the one put on trial and one of the first questions is, “What were you wearing?” This concept seems as though it is a set up directed against the so-called contemporary woman. Also there is a direct correlation between the respect a man has for a woman and the amount of her body she displays flauntingly.
In conclusion, I hope this article helps to clear up some distorted/misunderstood aspects of Islam and women. Women in Islam are respected and held in high regard. We will never find success and/or solutions to our problems until we realize that Allah knows best and that this disbelieving society will ruin itself.
Taken from Hudaa magazine, Jamaica, New York (as cited in http://www.iupui.edu).
Allah has blessed us with a religion that is complete and perfect for all times and places. Allah tells us in the Qur’ān:
“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as your religion” (Quran 5:3)
Whatever problem or issue a Muslim is facing, he returns back to Allah and his Messenger for guidance; there is nothing that happens in the life of a Muslim except that his religion has a solution to it.
The coronavirus is a reminder to us all of our weak state. Regardless of our social standing and our financial position, we are helpless.
We recently heard about the coronavirus which is spreading to a number of countries, affecting the lives of many people, causing death to others.
There are a number of thoughts that should cross the mind of a Muslim when they hear something like this. Below are some points that a person must remember and internalise when they see or hear of such incidents:
Trials and tribulations
Trials and tribulations are part of life, this is something that Allah informs us of and warns us so that when we are afflicted, we remember that it is ultimately Allah who controls of our affairs. It is He who will provide help and His knowledge of our affairs surpasses our restricted intellect. As He says in the Qur’an:
“Do you think you that you will enter Paradise without such [trials] as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, ‘When [will] the Help of Allah [come]?’ Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!” (Quran 2:214)
Allah sends us tests to see how we will react and handle them. How are we going to respond? When you hear the news that your umrah trip is cancelled because of this virus, how will you respond? When you hear your flights have been cancelled, your loved ones have fallen ill, how will you respond?
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient” (Quran 2:155)
So how do we respond to a calamity? Allah tells us immediately after the previous āyah:
“Who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.’” (Quran 2:156)
A Muslim is patient in trials; he knows Allah will never forsake him, nor will Allah burden him with a trial that is more than what he can handle.
This is not something new
Illnesses and viruses such as the coronavirus are not something new, nor is the fact that people are afflicted with illnesses.
The companions once asked the Prophet (peace be upon him):
“Oh Messenger of Allah, who from amongst the people were tested the most? The Prophet (peace be upon him) responded and said, the Prophets, then the next best and then the next best.”
We see the great Prophet of Allah, Ayyūb (peace be upon him),اwas tested with a great illness. His story is synonymous with patience. He lost everything; his family, wealth, and health. Some narrations say he was bedridden for 18 years, tested with a great illness, yet we find he did not give up hope in Allah and turned to him in this great trial.
Allah tells us his story in the Qur’an:
“And Ayyūb, when he called to his Lord, saying ‘Harm has inflicted me and You are the Most Merciful” (Quran 21:83)
“So We answered him and removed his affliction and We gave him his family and the like of them with them, as a mercy from Us and a reminder to Worshippers.” (Quran 21:84)
The story of Prophet Ayyūb (peace be upon him) is one filled with lessons for us to ponder over. The virtue of patience is shown to us in the Prophet Ayyūb (ʿalayhi al-Salām) through some of the most dire situations that one can come across in life.
The concept of pre-destination is extremely important for a Muslim to understand. When incidents such as the coronavirus occur, a Muslim should know that this is what Allah had decreed 50,000 years before the creation of the universe. The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained:
“Allah had written the ordained measures (and due proportions) of the creation, fifty thousand years before the creation of the heavens and the earth…” (Muslim)
All good and bad is from Allah, as is mentioned in the Hadeeth of Jabir: ‘No slave of Allah will truly believe until he believes in al-Qadr; its good and bad from Allāh, and until he knows that what has befallen him was not going to miss him and that what missed him was not going to befallen him.’ (Al-Tirmidhi)
Allah will never harm us nor does he want evil to befall us. We may think something is bad for us due to our restricted view of life, but there is always good in a situation. Allah tells us that perhaps you hate a thing but it is in fact good for you, and perhaps you love a thing when in reality and it is bad for you, yet Allah knows while you know not!
A believer has two positions when it comes to pre-destination: one is before the situation occurs, and one is after. Before the situation he seeks help from Allah, makes dua to him, and relies upon him; he asks Allah for good to come from it.
After the situation, if the result was positive and good the person thanks Allah. If the event had a negative outcome the person is patient because he knows that Allah will never forsake him even if it seems the result is negative, because indeed Allah is the best of planners.
Taking necessary precautions
A Muslim should not overreact; at the same time he should not be oblivious about a situation and do nothing!
Taking the necessary means and then relying upon Allah is something which is emphasised in Islam.
“One day Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, ‘Why don’t you tie down your camel?’ The Bedouin answered, ‘I put my trust in Allah ’ The Prophet then said, ‘Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah ’ (Al-Tirmidhi)
We also find in the incident of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) taking necessary precautions is a must when you know of a harm or potential danger that could afflict you.
Umar ibn al-Khattab was traveling with a group of companions during his reign. They approached a town in which it was said had a contagious/infectious disease. Umar asked his group whether they should proceed or return (to Madinah). The majority of the companions said they should go back but some said they should proceed. Then one companion said he knew a hadith where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If you hear that this disease (plague) exists in a country, do not travel to that country.” So Umar decided that they should go back. Another companion asked him whether he was running away from qadar. Umar replied that they were moving away from one qadar to another qadar.
Whenever there is a problem, a challenge, or any hardship which we can remove, overcome, solve, or minimise, we must do so.
Many of the health guidelines given by the NHS are in fact normal practices for Muslims, some of which are as follows:
1. Washing hands: this is a part of ablution, a Muslim’s daily ritual of purity.
2. General cleanliness
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Cleanliness is part of faith” (Muslim)
Keeping our surroundings tidy, cleaning up after ourselves, and wiping surfaces down are all aspects of cleanliness which must be adhered to in these situations.
3. Covering your mouth when sneezing
The Prophet would cover his mouth when he sneezed. This basic etiquette can take big part in the stopping of the spread of viruses
“Whenever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sneezed, he would cover his mouth with his hand or a piece of cloth.” (Abu Dawud and Al-Tirmidhi)
4. Quarantine in times of viruses which can spread.
The Prophet gave instructions on what to do if there is an outbreak. Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf that he said:
“I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: “If you hear that it (the plague) is in a land, do not go there, and if it breaks out in a land where you are, do not leave, fleeing from it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also taught us how to protect ourselves by maintaining our adhkar from the Sunnah. One such dua that he taught us was:
“In the name of Allah with Whose name nothing can harm on earth or in heaven, and He is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing” (Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
Being positive and having an optimistic outlook
Always have a positive outlook regardless of the situation you’re in, this is what our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us, when he told us
Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affairs are good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him, he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him.” (Muslim)
He also said:
“There are no omens, but the best of it is optimism” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
When we look through the seerah we find many examples of the Prophet (peace be upon him) being optimistic event though he was in a dire situation.
We should also not blame others or ridicule them because they are from a certain country or they have come from a part of the world that has been affected by the virus. Unfortunately, we have seen physical attacks on people, racist remarks made, and people making a joke and mocking the situation people are in.
The coronavirus is a reminder to us all of our weak state. Regardless of our social standing and our financial position, we are helpless. Allah says:
“Mankind was created weak” (Quran 4:28)
Situations like this remind us to turn back to Allah. Allah controls everything and he is the one that can relieve us from our difficulties, we must return to Allah and seek refuge in him and ask his protection.
Source: www.islam21c.com with some modifications
Thanksgiving is a celebration observed on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and the second Monday of October in Canada. The celebration is about giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.
The celebration is about giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.
Though it started as a Christian tradition, the current form of celebration is a culture holiday observed by all people of all faiths. The celebration is marked by family gatherings, cooking food, being thankful, watching football matches, staying home from work, and all the malls offer discounts on that occasion.
A Sense of Gratitude
Muslims are urged to give thanks to God (Allah) all the time. Giving thanks to Allah and showing gratitude are not limited to a certain time of the year. Actually the life of a Muslim is all about thanksgiving and gratitude.
A Muslim thanks Allah for creating him in the first place. A Muslim thanks Allah for guiding him to the right path of Islam. A Muslim thanks Allah for bestowing on him many blessings such as the blessing of health, money, having a good wife, having good children, etc.
We read in the Qur’an:
So remember Me; I will remember you. Be thankful to Me, and never ungrateful. (Al-Baqarah 2:152)
Allah promised that if we thank Him, He will give us more. This is a divine promise and we believe that Allah never breaks His promises.
Allah says what gives the meaning of:
Remember that He promised, “If you are thankful, I will give you more, but if you are thankless, My punishment is terrible indeed.” (Ibrahim 14:7)
These are the things that we should God for:
It is God who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and minds, so that you might be thankful. (An-Nahl 16:78)
New Muslims might find it an opportunity to meet their parents and family members whom they do not see usually. Meeting parents and family members will strengthen the family ties. It will give them a sense of belonging. It will give them a feeling that their son or daughter is still a member of the family and he is not detached from them. It will also be a good opportunity to explain to them how Muslims thank God and they do so.
Islam places great emphasis on maintaining family ties. We read in the Qur’an:
… Beware of severing the ties of kinship, God is always watching over you. (An-Nisa’ 4:12)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) urged Muslims to keep their family ties when he said:
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.” (Al-Bukhari)
Do’s and Don’ts
When attending such gatherings, please note that your attendance will be judged according to your intention. The Prophet said: “Actions are judged by intentions.” (Al-Bukhari)
Don’t participate in any activity that is against the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah such as eating pork or drinking alcohol. Don’t compromise the basic teachings of Islam.
You as a Muslim, should explain to them that thank Allah is not limited to that day. Muslims thank Allah on all other days of the year. When offering prayer, a Muslims is thanking Allah. When helping the poor, a Muslim is thanking Allah. When offering fasting, a Muslim is thanking Allah. When making hajj, a Muslim is thanking Allah.
The Prophet used to thank Allah when he ate, drank, dressed new clothes, mount on his camel, etc. Therefore the whole life of a Muslim is about thanksgiving from an Islamic perspective, i.e. thanking Allah for His blessings.
It is permissible for a Muslim also to thank anyone who does him a favor. The Prophet is reported to have said: Whoever does not thank people, does not thank Allah.” (At-Tirmidhti) You are allowed to thank your parents, friends, people next to door, etc.
About thanking parents, we read in the Qur’an:
We have commanded people to be good to their parents: their mothers carried them, with strain upon strain, and it takes two years to wean them. Give thanks to Me and to your parents– all will return to Me. (Luqman 31:14)
It’s about God’s Blessings
What is unique about Allah is praising Him, i.e. saying Alhamdullilah (praise be to Allah). You say to friend (thank you), but you do not say (I praise you or ahmaduka.)
New Muslims should understand that celebrating thanksgiving is not the sixth pillar of Islam or the seventh article of faith. If you decide not to participate, it is up to you. We are talking about cases in which you are invited to a family gathering.
I would like to invite everyone to sit back, relax, reflect for a moment and count God’s blessings on him. You will find countless blessings. God tells us:
… If you tried to count God’s favors you could never calculate them: man is truly unjust and ungrateful. (Ibrahim 14:34))
Think of how you are going to thank God for all that. The least you can do is to recognize His infinite mercy on you and declare His Oneness and that He is the only one worthy of worship. God is the most worthy of our thanks, praise and gratitude.
We should note that God does need our thank. It us who benefit from offering thanks to God:
…Be thankful to God: whoever gives thanks benefits his own soul, and as for those who are thankless–God is self-sufficient, worthy of all praise. (Luqman 31:12)
By Jamaal Diwan
Exchanging greetings , even gifts with non-Muslims out of companionship and manners is permissible.
Is it permissible for me to say “Merry Christmas” to my non-Muslim classmates, friends, family, neighbors, and others this holiday season?
(Please keep in mind that on the days of `Eid they always wish me a “Happy `Eid” and even buy me gifts.)
Allah says in the Qur’an, addressing how Muslims should deal with non-Muslims:
Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – (forbids) that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8, 9)
There are also many places in the Qur’an and Sunnah that encourage the Muslim to be of the best of manners. One example of this is the ḥadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) where he said: “The believers with the most complete faith are the ones with the best manners.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Habban, and Al-Hakim)
The Prophet also said: “Verily, I was sent to perfect good character.” (Al-Bukhari)
That being said there are a couple of things to take into consideration here. The first is that there is no disagreement between the scholars regarding the impermissibility of celebrating Christmas. It is a religious holiday that is based on beliefs that are against Islam and it is not permissible for Muslims to celebrate it.
This is because it goes against the concept of protecting one’s deen (religion) and contradicts the teachings of the Prophet which limited Muslim religious holidays to the two `Eids. That does not mean that they cannot spend time with their non-Muslim family on such a day if there is a family get together but that is a different issue.
As to whether or not one can greet their non-Muslim family and friends with “Merry Christmas” there are two major opinions. The first says that it is impermissible and was held by scholars such as Ibn Al-Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn `Uthaymin, and others.
The second opinion is that it is permissible as long as the intention is to interact with them in the best way possible without supporting their belief.
What is meant by this is not that people are not allowed to believe what they want to believe. They are. What rather is meant by this is that the Muslim is not agreeing with their belief. This opinion was held by scholars like Yusuf Al-Qaraḍawi and Muṣṭafa Zarqa. The latter opinion also allows the exchanging of greeting cards on holidays like Christmas as long as the card is free from any sort of religious symbolism.
Al-Qaradawi in his fatwa specifically mentions being aware of the opinion of Ibn Taymiyya, but that he does not agree with it based on the influence of the different times and circumstances during Ibn Taymiyyah’s era.
Al-Qaradawi speculated that had Ibn Taymiyyah lived during the times in which we live and seen the importance of good relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims, that he would have changed his opinion. Regardless whether that would be the case or not, it does show that Al-Qaradawi was acutely aware of Ibn Taymiyyah’s opinion when he gave his fatwa.
The argument against saying “Merry Christmas” to one’s family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers is based on the concept that in doing so you are approving of their beliefs in some way. This is simply not the case, and saying “Merry Christmas” is nothing more than an act of good societal manners.
However, it should be noted that this is not the same as actually celebrating Christmas or other non-Muslim religious holidays. Celebrating these holidays is not allowed but exchanging greetings and even gifts with non-Muslims on them out of companionship and manners is permissible, as long as the gifts themselves are permissible. This is especially the case when those same friends and family greet and exchange gifts with you on the Muslim holidays.
In conclusion, in America, for example, we need to try and seek a balance between maintaining our identity and the purity of our beliefs while at the same time dealing with our greater society in the best way possible.
Therefore, I think the way Muslims in America should deal with this issue depends on their circumstances. An interesting way to understand this predicament is to look at how Jews in America deal with this same question. It seems that they have many of the same discussions that we have around this time of year.
In general there are a couple of things that we want to try and be aware of at the same time: we want to maintain our identity and belief, we want people to understand Islam as much as possible, we want to respect and appreciate others, we want to treat others in the best way possible, we don’t want to be socially awkward or insular. Different situations will require different responses. Those of us who have non-Muslim families have different situations than those of us who do not.
You could reply with a number of different answers, including: “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “As a Muslim I don’t celebrate Christmas”, or “Thank you. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but merry Christmas to you.” The appropriate answer will depend on the person, the situation, one’s internal intentions, and the perceived intentions of the one they are speaking to.
Note: The answer here by Jamaal Diwan is based on the fatwas of Sheikhs Yusuf Al-Qaraḍawi and Muṣṭafa Al-Zarqa.
Yasmin Mogahed is an instructor for AlMaghrib Institute, a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development.
Mogahed wore the hijab when she was between thirteen and fourteen years old.
What did motivate Mogahed to wear the hijab at that age? What change did hijab bring to her life? How did it impact her view of the world, her Islamic identity, and her identity as a Muslim “woman”? How did it impact other acts of worship?
What does hijab mean to her? How has the meaning of hijab evolved for her over time? How did she find her path to God through the hijab?
What challenges has she faced with hijab? What is her advice for women regarding the hijab?
Watch the interview her with Yasmin Mogahed by AlMaghrib Institute…