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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

Why Do We Worship and Obey God?

nature way

By walking on the straight of God you will receive dignity in this world as well as in the Hereafter.

Brothers in Islam! I have frequently emphasized that ‘Islam‘ means total surrender to Allah and the Messenger, and that no one can become truly Muslim unless he gives up obedience to anyone or anything apart from God.

But why is so much stress laid on obedience to God and His Messenger? You may ask: Does God need our obedience so badly that He has to demand it so insistently from us? Is He, too, like the rulers of the world so power-hungry that He has to insist His rule cannot be sustained without subjugating us?

Let us try to examine these questions.

Our Well-being

Essentially, the demand for obedience to Allah is intended for the well-being and betterment of man himself. He is not like the rulers of the world. They subjugate people to benefit themselves, but Allah needs nothing from anybody.

He is not in need of taxes from you, nor does He require to build mansions, buy cars and amass luxury articles at your expense. He is not dependent on anyone for anything. Whatever is in the world belongs to Him alone and He alone is the Master of all treasures.

He demands obedience from you only because He does not want man – that creation of His whom He has declared to be the noblest – to be the servant of another man like him, or of Satan or bow his head before unworthy things.

He does not desire that His vicegerents on earth grope in the darkness of ignorance and, like animals, become slaves to their desires and thus degrade themselves to the level of the lowest of the low. Therefore He urges: You obey Me and walk by the light I have sent through My Messengers. You will find the straight path. By walking on it you will receive dignity in this world as well as in the Hereafter.

No coercion is there in religion. Distinct has become the right way from [the way of] error. So whosoever rejects false gods and believes in God has indeed taken hold of the most firm handle which shall never break. God is All-hearing, All-knowing. God is the Friend of those who have faith; He brings them out of darkness into the light. And the disbelievers their friends are false gods that bring them out of the light into darkness; those are the inhabitants of the Fire, therein to abide forever. (Al-Baqarah 2:256, 257)

Obeying Others Besides Allah

Why will a man plunge into darkness by obeying others besides Allah and why is it that only by obeying Allah can his life be illumined?

Let us look into this important question…

Our lives are made up of countless relations and transactions. Our first relationship is with our own bodies: these hands, these feet, these eyes, these ears, this tongue, this heart, the mind, this belly – all these have been entrusted to you by Allah to serve you. You have also been given freedom to decide to what end to employ them.

What to put in your bellies, and what to avoid. What to make your hands do, and what to keep them away from.

Where to let your feet walk, and when to hold back. What to let your eyes see and ears hear, and what to refrain from.

What to allow your tongues to say, and when to fall silent. What kind of thoughts to make your hearts and minds reflect upon, and what to shun. These servants of yours you can make do good work or bad, as you choose. In return, they can make you ascend great heights or plunge you into abysmal depths.

Then you have relationships with the members of your family; with your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, children and other relatives with whom you have to deal continuously.

You have to decide how to behave with these people, what rights you have over them, and what rights they have over you. Your comfort, your happiness and your success in this world as well as in the Hereafter depend very much on how correctly you behave with them. If you behave wrongly, you will make this world a Hell for yourselves. And in the Hereafter, too, you will have to answer to God.

You have relationships with many other people. They are your neighbours, friends and enemies. There are also many who work for you in various ways. To some you have to give something and from others you have to receive something.

Some entrust you with their works while you entrust Your works to others. You are in command over some people and others are in command over you. In this world, your happiness, your honour and your good names all depend entirely on your ability to maintain these relationships properly.

In the Hereafter, too, you can acquire places of honor near God only by scrupulously avoiding abusing the rights of others and doing them injustices. There, let no one charge you with having ruined his life or having illegally harmed his honour, life or property.

You therefore have to maintain these relationships in a proper manner; actions which may spoil or disrupt these relations should be avoided.

open book before the sun

If you try to find this knowledge with the help of your reason and feelings alone, you will not find it.

Following One’s Desires

Now consider: in order to maintain proper relationships with your own bodies, with the members of your families and with all other people, you need the light of knowledge at every step.

You have to know what is right and what is wrong; what is true and what is false; what is just and what is unjust; what rights you have over others and what rights others have over you; in what there is real benefit and in what lies real harm.

If you try to find this knowledge with the help of your reason and feelings alone, you will not find it. Because yourself is overpowered by the urge to immediate gratification of desires. Your reason and feelings are therefore ruled by physical pleasure and immediate temptations.

They will tempt you to earn money by doing illegal things, drink alcohol and commit adultery. They will lead you to usurp the rights of others and withhold things due to them on the grounds that such behaviour will profit you: take everything and give nothing. They will also make you exploit others to serve your ends while avoiding the doing of any service to anybody, arguing that this will make life easy and comfortable.

If you allow yourselves to be led by a self which gropes in such darkness, it will drag you down to the level of selfish, depraved, and corrupt persons and your lives both on earth and in the Hereafter will be ruined.

Alternatively, instead of following the self, you may rely on other human beings like yourselves, and place yourselves in their hands to take you in whichever direction they like.

The dangers in such a course are obvious: selfish persons may make you slaves of their own desires, and ignorant men, who have themselves gone astray, may mislead you also. Tyrants may use you to perpetrate oppression and injustice on others.

From human beings like yourselves, too, you cannot get that light of knowledge which can guide you to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and bad, and direct you on the right path.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book Let Us Be Muslims.

 

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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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Acts of Worship New Muslims

Apostasy & Drinking Alcohol

The noble Qur’an teaches us that there is no compulsion in religion. Does the punishment for apostasy conflict with this Qur’anic principle? What about drinking alcohol? Is it prohibited, and why? Watch this video and listen to Dr. Bilal Philips’ answers…

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

Hadith: Its Meaning and Significance

sahih muslim

If one is to understand the meanings of Qur’an, they must consider what the Prophet said or did regarding it.

The Arabic word hadith basically means ‘an item of news, conversation, a tale, a story or a report,’ whether historical or legendary, true or false, relating to the present or the past. Its secondary meaning as an adjective is ‘new’ as opposed to qadeem, ‘old’.

However, like other Arabic words (e.g. salah, zakah), its meaning changed in Islam. From the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), his stories and communications dominated all other forms of communication. Consequently, the term hadith began to be used almost exclusively for reports that spoke of his actions and sayings.

Usage of the Word Hadith

The term hadith has been used in both the Qur’an-where it is mentioned 23 times- and the prophetic traditions according to all of its linguistic meanings. The following three categories are the most notable usages. It has been used to mean:

a- The Qur’an itself:

Then leave Me alone with those who reject this communication. (Al-Qalam 68:44)

“Indeed, the best form of communication is the Book of Allah…” (Muslims and Ahmad)

b- A historical story:

Has the story of Moses reached you? (Taha 20:9)

“You may speak about the Children of Israel without …” (Al-Bukhari)

c- A general conversation:

When the Prophet confided in one of his wives… (At-Tahrim 66:3)

“Molten copper will be poured in the ear of whoever eavesdrops on the conversation of people who dislike him doing so or flee from him.” (Al-Bukhari)

Among the hadith scholars the term hadith means ‘whatever is transmitted from the Prophet of his actions, sayings, tacit approvals, or physical characteristics. Scholars of Islamic Law do not include the physical appearance of the Prophet in their definition.

Importance of Hadith

1- Revelation

The Prophet’s sayings and actions were primarily based on revelation from Allah and, as such, must be considered a fundamental source of guidance second only to the Qur’an. Allah in the Qur’an said concerning the Prophet:

(Muhammad) does not speak from his desires; indeed, what he says is revelation. (An-Najm 53:3-4)

Therefore, the hadith represents a personal source of divine guidance which Allah granted His Prophet which was similar in its nature to the Qur’an itself. The Prophet reiterated this point in one of his recorded statements, “Indeed, I was given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it.” (Abu Dawud)

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him

Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of Qur’an to the Prophet himself.

2- Tafseer

The preservation of the Qur’an was not restricted to protecting its wording from change. Were that the case, its meanings could be manipulated according to human desires, while maintaining its wording.

However, Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of Qur’an to the Prophet himself. Allah states the following in the Qur’an regarding its interpretation:

 And I revealed to you the Reminder (Qur’an) in order that you explain to the people what was revealed to them.” (An-Nahl 16:44)

Therefore, if one is to understand the meanings of Qur’an, he or she must consider what the Prophet said or did regarding it. E.g. in the Qur’an, Allah instructs the believers to offer salah (formal prayers) and pay zakah (obligatory charity) in Surat Al-Baqarah (2), verse 43.

And be steadfast in prayer; practice regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship). (Al-Baqarah 2:43)

However, in order to obey these instructions correctly, one must study the methodology of the Prophet in this regard. Among his many clarifications concerning salah and zakah, he instructed his followers saying “Pray as you saw me pray,” (Al-Bukhari) and he specified that 2.5% of surplus wealth, unused for a year,9 should be given as zakah.

Also, there are a number of authentic hadiths in which the Prophet gave specific instructions concerning the items and quantities on which zakah was due, as well as the time it is due. Among them is the following narration from `Ali ibn Abi Talib:

`Ali ibn Abi Taalib quoted Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying: “Whenever you possess 200 dirhams and a year passes on it, 5 dirhams is to be paid on it. You are not liable to pay anything until you possess 20 dinars and a year passes on it, in which case ½ a dinar is due. Whatever exceeds that will be counted likewise9. And no zakah is payable on wealth until a year passes on it.” (Abu Dawud)

3- Laws

One of the primary duties of the Prophet was to judge between people in their disputes. Since his judgments were all based on revelation, as stated earlier, they must be considered a primary source of principles by which judgments are carried out in an Islamic State. Allah also addressed this responsibility in the Qur’an saying:

O believers obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. If you dispute about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger. (An-Nisaa’ 4:59)

Thus, hadiths are essential for the smooth running of the law courts in an Islamic State.

4- Moral Ideal

Since the Prophet was guided by revelation in his personal life, his character and social interactions became prime examples of moral conduct for Muslims until the Last Day. Attention was drawn to this fact in the following Qur’anic verse:

Surely there is for all of you a good example (of conduct) in the way of Allah’s Messenger. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Consequently, the daily life of the Prophet as recorded in hadith represents an ideal code of good conduct. In fact, when the Prophet’s wife, ‘A’ishah, was asked about his conduct, she replied, “His character was the Qur’an.” (Ahmad)

5- Preservation of Islam

The science of narration, collection and criticism of hadith was unknown to the world prior to the era of the Prophet .

In fact, it was due in part to the absence of such a reliable science that the messages of the former prophets became lost or distorted in the generations that followed them.

Therefore, it may be said that it is largely due to the science of hadith that the final message of Islam has been preserved in it is original purity for all times. This is alluded to in the Qur’anic verse:

 Indeed, I have revealed the Reminder, I will, indeed, protect it. (Al-Hijr 15:9)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Usool Al-Hadith”.

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