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Muslim Lifestyle New Muslims

Women’s Rights and Status in Islam

Women’s rights, responsibilities, and choices have been the subject of books, articles, essays, and lectures. Sadly however, convincing the world that Muslim women are not oppressed by Islam is a message that is just not getting through.

Women’s rights

Islam raised the level of women, they were no longer chattels being passed from father to husband.

Media headlines scream oppression and the words Muslim, women, and oppression seem to have become inextricably linked. Fourteen hundred years ago Islam gave women’s rights; rights that could not have been imagined by European counterparts. Bold words!

It’s the words that have been spoken repeatedly, especially in the last two or three decades by Muslim converts, and Islamic writers, academics and educators across the globe.

No matter what Muslim women do or say to try to convince the world otherwise, words like hijab (veil), burqa, polygamy, and Shari`ah (Islamic Law) seem to do little but convince people that Islam oppresses women. Even educated, articulate women fulfilling the modest conditions of hijab can do little to dispel the myths.

Women who conduct themselves with decorum and grace and function effortlessly in the modern world have their achievements and successes celebrated. However, if a woman wears a scarf that covers her hair or puts her religion above worldly pursuits she is immediately labeled oppressed.

One wonders if this is the case for women of other religious persuasions. Are modest religious women of all faiths labeled oppressed? Alternatively, is it just Islam?

The most visible sign of a Muslim woman’s faith is the headscarf or hijab; it is also the garment that leads people to believe that Islam oppresses women. Although Islamic scholars unanimously agree that modest dress and head coverings are obligatory in Islam, for the majority of Muslim women around the world, to cover, or not to cover, is a freely made choice.

The women who chose to wear hijab view it as a right, not a burden and many describe wearing hijab as liberation from the need to conform to unrealistic stereotypes and images dictated by the media.

Against Oppression

What exactly do Muslim women say about themselves in relation to the issue of oppression? In 2005, a World Gallup Organization Poll, entitled ‘What women Want’:

‘Listening to the voices of Muslim Woman, revealed that the majority of women polled, in predominantly Muslim countries resented lack of unity among Muslim nations, violent extremism, and political and economic corruption. The headscarf or hijab, or any garment covering the face and body, often depicted as a tool of oppression was not even mentioned.’

The report concluded that ’…most women in the Muslim world are well aware that they have the same capabilities and deserve the same fundamental rights as men.  Majorities of females in each of the eight countries surveyed said they believe women are able to make their own voting decisions, to work at any job for which they are qualified, and even to serve in the highest levels of government.’

Islam raised the level of women, they were no longer chattels being passed from father to husband. They became equal to men, with rights and responsibilities that take into account the nature of humankind. Unfortunately across the globe, Muslim women are victims of cultural aberrations that have no place in Islam. Powerful individuals and groups claim to be Muslim yet fail to practice the true principles of Islam.

Whenever the media reveals unconscionable stories about honour killings, genital mutilation, forced marriage, the punishment of rape victims, women being confined to their homes or women being denied education they are revealing a tale of men and women who are ignorant about the status of women in Islam.

O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the bridal money you have given them. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and God brings a great deal of good through it. (An-Nisaa’ 4:19)

Honoring-women Religion

women's rights

The women who chose to wear hijab view it as a right, not a burden.

The religion of Islam demands that women be treated with respect, honour, and justice. It condemns oppression of any kind. In Islam women, like men, are commanded to believe in God and to worship Him. Women are equal to men in terms of reward in the Hereafter.

And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a true believer in the Oneness of God, such will enter paradise; and not the least injustice, even to the size of a speck on the back of a date stone, will be done to them. (An-Nisaa’ 4:124)

Women in Islam have the right to own property, to control their own money to buy and sell, and to give gifts and charity. It is not permissible for anyone to take a woman’s wealth without her consent. Islam gave women’s formal rights of inheritance. Women in Islam have the right to an education; seeking and acquiring knowledge is an obligation on all Muslims, male or female.

Muslim women have the right to accept or refuse marriage proposals as they see fit, and married women are completely free from the obligation of supporting and maintaining the family. Working married women are free to contribute to the household expenses, or not, as they see fit. Women have the right to seek divorce if it becomes necessary.

The Prophet &  Women’s rights

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.” The people asked: “O God’s messenger!  How can we know her permission?” He said: “Her silence (indicates her permission).” (Al-Bukhari)

A women was given by her father gave her in marriage when she was a matron and she disliked that marriage. So she went to God’s Messenger and he declared that marriage invalid. (Al-Bukhari)

The religion of Islam declares that women are worthy human beings deserving of respect, and the right to be free from oppression. Women have the right to a decent life, without facing aggression or abuse of any kind. They have the right to pursue a life that is pleasing to them within Islamic boundaries. Nobody has the right to force women to be less then they want to be. The true teachings of Islam, declare that women should be held in a position of high regard.

Sadly, it is true that some Muslim women are oppressed, but across the globe, some women are treated badly by some men, of all religious persuasions and ethnicities. It is possible to say that such and such a government oppresses women, or that Muslim men in such and such a country think it is acceptable to beat women, however, it is not correct to say that Islam oppresses women.

If women were given their God given rights, as set out in the religion of Islam, the global oppression of women could be trampled into oblivion.

Prophet Muhammad said: “None but a noble man treats women in an honourable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.” (At-Tirmidhi)

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Source: islamreligion.com

 

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

Islam: Guidance to the Straight Path

Description of the Straight Path

Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us.

Muslims plead to be guided to the straight path at least seventeen times a day while reciting Surat Al-Fatihah (the first chapter of the Qur’an) in the five daily prayers. How many of us have reflected on the nature of this guidance and the path that we are supposed to be upon?

“Guide us” (Ihdina)

In Arabic the word hidayah does not simply mean guidance, but it means to guide gently. The word “gift” (hadiyyah) in Arabic also comes from the same root letters as the word for guidance (hidayah). Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is also something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us in an act of infinite mercy and grace of Allah (Exalted is He).

Notice how it is in the plural- not ‘guide me’ but “guide us”. This instills in us a sense of brotherhood by making this request on behalf of fellow Muslims, especially as we stand in prayer as a group.

Types of Hidayah Mentioned in the Qur’an

There are four types of hidayah mentioned in the Qur’an, according to (Ibn Al-Qayyim).

1- General hidayah that is given to all creation. This type of guidance and knowledge is given by Allah to all created things. By this guidance, animals, plants and even inanimate objects fulfill the purpose for which they were created. This also includes the general intellect, wits and inherent intuitive knowledge given to all responsible beings regardless of their faith. This is referred to in the following verse:

He said, “Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its form and then guided (it)”. (Ta-Ha 20:50)

2- Hidayah that is in the form of explanation and education by way of defining the two paths of good and evil. It is when someone guides you by explaining that which is good and warns you from that which is evil according to Islam. This is the type of hidayah referred to in this verse::

And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

3- Hidayah that is tawfiq (a specific type of divine guidance) and inspiration (ilham) from Allah to be guided to the truth of iman (faith), Islam (submission), etc. The following verses refer to this type.

…Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. (Al-Muddaththir 74:31)

No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. (At-Taghabun 64:11)

4- Hidayah that is in the next life, by which one shall be guided to Paradise.

And We will have removed whatever is within their breasts of resentment, (while) flowing beneath them are rivers. And they will say, “Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this”. (Al-A`raf 7:43)

Each one of the above types of hidayah has a sequential connection and relationship. Without the first level of guidance you will not have the capacity to attain the second and without the second you cannot attain the third and fourth levels.

We have absolutely no power to guide anyone using any of the above types of guidance except for the second type of hidayah that is explanation and education.  This type of guidance is what is referred to in the following verses.

And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

You are only a warner, and for every people is a guide. (Ar-Ra`d 13:7)

The remaining types of guidance, particularly the third type which is tawfiq from Allah to have iman, are what are referred to in the following verse of the Qur’an, again addressing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

Indeed, (O Muhammad), you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the (rightly) guided. (Al-Qasas 28:56)

In other words even the Prophets cannot guide whom they choose to become believers in the sense of actually putting faith in a person’s heart.  They can only guide in terms of explanation, exhortation, clarification and instruction regarding the truth.

The first lesson here is that we should seek guidance in every matter with Allah first and foremost before turning to others. Secondly, it should humble those of us who are inviting or ‘guiding’ others to Islam to acknowledge and internalize the fact that we have no real power over this matter, and that true guidance is the sole dominion of Allah, the ‘turner of the hearts’.

However, that should not make us despair of the work we do, for which our reward is with Allah. But rather it should increase our confidence in inviting others knowing that the result is not dependent on ‘my da`wah’ or speech, which is full of weakness and defects, but is in the hands of Allah Who can instantly change the hearts of the most wicked and tyrannical into the most pure and righteous.

The Ten Levels of Guidance

A Muslim may question why he or she has to ask for guidance at least seventeen times a day whilst they have already been guided to Islam. Scholars have explained that it is because firstly we ask for constancy (thabat) on guidance and secondly because there are so many levels and aspects of guidance that we are in need of in every detail of our daily life.

The following will help to clarify. For example, there are a further ten levels of guidance that need to be attained for one to be truly guided. (Ibn Al-Qayyim)

Therefore one should bear in mind when asking for guidance that one is asking Allah to:

1- Be granted guidance of knowledge and clarity, in order for one to know and reach the truth.

2- For the capacity to be guided

3- Make one desirous of guidance

4- Make one act upon the guidance

5- Make one remain steadfast on guidance

6- Remove all barriers and obstructions that impede guidance

7- Be granted a distinctive and detailed level of guidance on the path itself and its stations

8- Be granted sight of one’s ultimate goal along the path, to be alerted to it so that one can perceive it on the journey, catching sight of it without being blocked from seeing it.

9- Make one aware of one’s own destitution and desperate need for guidance (from Allah) over and above all other necessities.

10- Make one see the two misguided paths that veer off from the path of guidance; firstly the path of the people of wrath- those who intentionally, out of rebellion, turned away from following the truth; secondly the path of the people of misguidance- those who turned away out of ignorance and misguidance. One then sees the straight path upon which are all the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them) along with their followers from the truthful (siddiqeen), the martyrs and the righteous.

We are instructed by Allah to ask for guidance to the straight path (as-sirat al-mustaqim). What then is the nature of this path?

Description of the Straight Path

In the language of the Arabs a path (sirat) needs to possess five qualities for it to be called a sirat. The path needs to be:

1- Straight

2- Easy to travel upon

3- A familiar well-trodden path

4- Wide and spacious

5- Leading one to the desired destination

Since the path that we are asking guidance to is Islam itself, notice and reflect on how these qualities apply to Islam. Islam is straight in that it is a correct and firmly established way, pure and protected from any crookedness or deviation from the truth.  Allah describes those who want to block people on the path of Allah:

…Who averted (people) from the way of Allah and sought to make it (seem) deviant while they were, concerning the Hereafter, disbelievers. (Al-A`raf 7:45)

Islam is also easy as Allah has said:

Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you, (Al-Baqarah 2:185))

and as the Prophet said, “The deen (Islam/religion) is easy…” (Al-Bukhari).

Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. There will be challenges, temptations and difficulties in living as a Muslim but they are things that we ultimately have the capacity to bear. Everything in Shari`ah (Islamic law) benefits us or wards off harm for us in this world and/or the next.

Islam, which is submission to the commands of Allah, is also a familiar and well-trodden path, the path of all the Prophets and their followers. As Allah says:

And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favour of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions. (An-Nisaa’ 4:69)

The final, universal revelation of Islam is wide and spacious and accommodates all, regardless of color, race or social status. It is us with our parochial attitudes that restrict the vastness of this path to our favorite ‘saved’ group, way of thinking, sheikh or a specific allegiance that excludes others that Islam hasn’t excluded.

Ibn Majah records that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I have left you on a (wide, spacious) clear (white) path, its night is like its day, whoever deviates from this after me will be destroyed….”

Indeed, the path of Islam leads to the desired destination, which is Allah’s Pleasure gained by obeying Him. Allah says:

So those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him – He will admit them to mercy from Himself and bounty and guide them to Himself on a straight path. (An-Nisaa’ 4:175)

You will also notice that the word as-sirat (path) in the surah (chapter) has the definite article “Al”. The definite article is close to the meaning of ‘the’ which renders it ‘the straight path’ in English and has several possible meanings in Arabic. Here it is said that it denotes something definite which is in the mind as well as in reality.

For example, when students waiting for their teacher to arrive say ‘the teacher is late.’ The teacher they are referring to is known amongst them and in their minds they know exactly who they are referring to. In that sense, grammatically, ‘the teacher’ is a definite noun phrase and not an indefinite one. They would not say a teacher is late in this case.

Similarly, in this case, it is a specific and definite known path that we are seeking guidance to. It is the path that Allah has ordained for the people that He has favored, the path that leads to His Pleasure and His Paradise, which is in fact His deen (religion) – besides which nothing is acceptable to Him.

It is said that it is also the path that we intuitively know in the deepest core of our hearts that must exist because as human beings we were affirmed, when we were created, that Allah is our Rabb (Lord).

All praise is to Allah Who has gently guided us to the straight path, described to us with crystal clarity its features and guided us to pray for it every day of our lives.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com

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FEATURED New Muslims

Islam and Preservation of Human Life

Physical Security and Protection

life nature-flower

One’s soul or own body is a sacred entity entrusted to him by God on a temporary basis.

Human life is sacred and a gift from Allah, the Creator. For the protection of human life Islam has legislated capital and corporal punishments and retribution unto those transgressing criminals who murder and physically harm others. Killing falls into three types: intentional and/or premeditated murder,manslaughter, and total mistake.

Islam commands the execution of anyone who commits premeditated murder of an innocent person, seeking to place as strong a deterrent as possible to eradicate the temptation of intentional murder.

Unintentional manslaughter and mistaken killings are separate categories with separate lesser sentences and blood money is paid to the close relatives of the victim. The family or the heirs of the killed victim are given a diyyah (blood money) unless they choose to forgive the killer. The killer must repent to Allah and make atonement by the freeing a Muslim slave, and if this is not possible, by fasting for two consecutive months.

All such penalties are for preservation of life. No one has the right to possessions or estate without legitimate cause. All oppressive or abusive must be warned against unjust killing, victimizing or harassing other innocent members of the Islamic society, and these strict punishments should be made clear. If the retaliation is not similar to the crime itself, criminals become emboldened in their criminal activities.

All other corporal punishments have the same rationale, wherein the punishment is proportionate to the crime with specific measurements of retribution predetermined to stop all arguments and confusion.

All capital and corporal punishments are oriented for the preservation of human life and property in an Islamic society. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

And there is (a saving of) life for you in al-qisas (the law of equality in punishment), O men of understanding,that you may become pious. (Al-Baqarah 2:179)

The penalty of the Hereafter for the intentional murderer who does not repent will be the wrath of Allah. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (forever): and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him. (An-Nisaa’ 4:9)

Prescribed Duties

Islam has imposed certain specific duties on everyone in respect to protection of human life. The following are some of these duties:

1-Man does not own his soul or his own body: rather it is a sacred entity entrusted to him on a temporary basis. It is not allowed for anyone to intentionally torture or harm himself, or carry-out any type of suicidal crime or reckless act leading to his destruction.

Life is only given in sacrifice for the cause of Allah. Allah says:

O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly: but let there be among you trade by mutual good-will: nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah has been to you Most Merciful! (An-Nisaa’ 4:29)

2-Man must maintain proper nutritional care to satisfy the minimum requirements essential for decent health. He is not allowed to deprive himself of permissible food, drink, clothing, marriage and proper care under any pretexts, if that causes him harm. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah,which He has produced for His servants, and the things,clean and pure, (which He has provided) for sustenance?
Say, they are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Requital.
Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand.
(Al-A`raf 7:32)

flowers-nature

Man may enjoy the lawful bounties offered by Allah to man on earth in moderation within the limits of the Islamic laws and without wastage

Halal in Moderation

Allah, the Exalted, admonished the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he abstained from eating honey in order to please one of his wives, and this became an eternal lesson for all Muslims. Allah states in the Qur’an:

O Prophet! Why do you make forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to you? You seek to please your wives but Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (At-Tahrim 66:1)

Moderation is between stinginess and extravagance. Man may enjoy the lawful bounties offered by Allah to man on earth in moderation within the limits of the Islamic laws and without wastage. Allah states in the Qur’an:

O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters. (Al-A`raf 7:31)

It is forbidden to neglect the physical needs of the body and cause harm through negligence or self-torture:

On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than itcan bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

It is reported that Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said that, “Three men came to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) mosque to inquire about the worship of the Prophet. When they were informed, they considered their worship insignificant and said: ”Where are we in comparison with the Prophet while Allah has forgiven his past sins and future sins“. One of them said: ”As for me, I shall offer salah all night long.” Another said:”I shall observe sawm (fasting) continuously and shall not break it”. The third one said: ”I shall abstain from women and shall never marry.”

The Prophet came to them and said,“Are you the people who said such and such things? By Allah, I fear Allah more than you do, and I am the most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still I observe fasting and break it; perform salah and sleep at night and take wives. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah does not belong to me.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions.

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His Legacy New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad: The Greatest Revolutionary Ever

nature-sunrise

Prophet Muhammad’s great contribution to history lies in his being a philosopher and a seer as well as a living embodiment of his own teachings.

In the cavalcade of world history the sublime figure of this wonderful person towers so high above all others that they appear to be dwarfs when contrasted with him. None of them possessed a genius capable of making a deep impression on more than one or two aspects of human life. Some are brilliant theoreticians but are lacking when it comes to practical action. Some are men of action but with little knowledge. Some are renowned as statesmen only, others are masters of strategy.

Others again have devoted their energies to ethical and spiritual problems but have ignored economics and politics. In short, one comes across heroes who are expert in one walk of life only.

His is the only example where all the excellences have been blended into one personality. He is a philosopher and a seer as well as a living embodiment of his own teachings. He is a great statesman as well as a military genius. He is a legislator and also a teacher of morals.

He is a spiritual luminary as well as a religious guide. His vision penetrates every aspect of life. His orders and commandments cover a vast field from the regulation of international relations down to the habits of everyday life like eating, drinking and personal hygiene.

On the foundations of philosophy he established a civilization and a culture without the slightest trace of a flaw, deficiency or incompleteness. Can anyone point to another example of such a perfect and all round-personality?

Why that Unique?

Most of the famous personalities of the world are said to be the products of their environment. But his case is unique. His environment seems to have played no part in the making of his personality. At most one might accept in the light of Hegel’s philosophy of history or Marx’s historical materialism that the time and environment demanded the emergence of a leader who could create a nation and build an empire.

But Hegelian or Marxist philosophy cannot explain how such an environment could produce a man whose mission was to teach the highest morals, to purify humanity and to wipe out prejudice and superstition, who looked beyond the artificial compartments of race and nation-state, who laid the foundations of a moral, spiritual, cultural and political superstructure for the good of the whole world, who practically, not theoretically, placed business transactions, civics, politics and international relations on moral grounds and produced such a balanced synthesis between worldly life and spiritual advancement that even to this day it is considered to be a masterpiece of wisdom and foresight.

Can anyone honestly call such a person a product of all-pervading darkness of Arabia?

He does not only appear to be independent of his environment. When we look at his achievements we are irresistibly drawn to the conclusion that he actually transcends the limitations of time and space. His vision breaks through all temporal and physical barriers, passes beyond centuries and millenniums and encompasses within itself the whole of human history.

History Maker

He is not one of those whom history has cast into oblivion, and he is not praised only because he was a good leader in his own time. He is that unique and incomparable leader of humanity who marches with time, who is modern in every age and in every era.

Those whom people style ‘makers of history’ are only ‘creatures of history’. In fact, in the whole of history of mankind, he is the unique example of a ‘maker of history’.

One may scan the lives and circumstances of the great leaders of the world who brought about revolutions and one will find that on such occasions the forces of revolution were gathering momentum for the destined upheaval, were taking their course in certain directions and were only waiting for the right moment.

In harnessing these forces the revolutionary leader played the part of an actor for whom the stage and the role is set beforehand. On the other hand the Prophet is only a person who had to genuinely create a revolution; he had to mold and produce the kind of men he wanted because the spirit of revolution and its necessary conditions were nonexistent.

He made an indelible impression on the hearts of thousands of his disciples by his forceful personality and molded them to his way of thinking. By his iron will he prepared the ground for revolution and directed events into the channels he wanted. Can anyone cite another example of a maker of history of such distinction, another revolutionary of such brilliance and splendor?

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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