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Legalizing Polygyny in Canada

Zainab (AnonyMouse)

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bountiful.jpgBountiful, B.C.: The first thing that comes to mind is a recollection of the media frenzy surrounding the ultra-fundamentalist Mormon community, which under their so-called “prophet” Warren Jeffs practices an extreme form of polygyny.

The Vancouver Sun has a huge “exclusive report” on the subject, covering it’s history, legal standing, and the court cases against Warren Jeffs and other members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. I recommend going through all the articles, which are fascinating (in a horrifying way) in and of themselves, as well as making us fervently grateful to Allah for the Shari’ah He blessed us with that would prevent such a situation from occuring amongst Muslims (assuming that the Shari’ah was being properly implemented and practiced; and yes, I know that reality is very different from our ideals). There is so much that is so wrong about what’s going on in Bountiful that I won’t even bother writing about it – the shock you’ll feel as you read about it will be the same feeling I experienced, along with horror, pity, and the urgent desire to go make Da’wah to them. Anyway, moving on:

One such article is titled “Legalizing polygamy” and discusses two sides of the story: how legalizing polygyny can provide protection for the (currently unrecognized) wives and children of polygamist men, and the bureaucratic nightmare it would be for lawmakers.

Hypothetically, if polygamy were to be legalized (which I highly doubt it will), what would it mean for Muslims? While polygyny in the Muslim community of B.C. (and most likely elsewhere in Canada) is extremely rare, I personally know of at least two families in my old city that are polygynous. As with the Bountiful cases, the second wives (as far as I know, there aren’t any kids from the second wives) aren’t recognized in Canadian law.

The polygamy/ polygyny issue leads to another hot Islam-related topic in Canada: the re-legalizing (is that even a word?) of religiously-based arbitration and family law, which was banned after the “Shari’ah law in Canada” fuss a couple years ago. Legalizing polygamy would mean recognizing the fact that some religions permit this practice… and more often than not, those same religions have rules and regulations that deal with polygyny – such as Islam. Would this mean that Canadian law would permit Muslims to refer to religious authorities so that they can deal with polygyny-related family law Islamically? If so, how would the system be set up? Would we have Shari’ah courts (of a sort) in Canada? Who would be chosen to sit as a qadhi, and on what basis would they be chosen? Taking into consideration the schools of thought, not to mention different mentalities (e.g. Salafi, Traditionalist, Modernist/ Progressive), you can imagine just how crazy the situation would become.

Keep in mind this is all hypothetical, and as I said above, it’s highly unlikely that polygamy will be legally recognized and allowed in Canada… which means that the scenario I mentioned above would probably be non-existent. But the possibly exists. Polygamy exists, amongst Mormons and amongst Muslims and who knows who else. Will the Canadian government, and the Canadian masses (regardless of religion) dare to do something about it besides simply outlawing it (which people will, and do, ignore) and occasionally taking practitioners of polygamy to court?

On a totally different tangent: does anyone else see the double-standards at play here? While there is outcry and outrage against the Mormon’s version of their own khilaafah in Bountiful, it’s nowhere near the level it would be were it Muslims instead of Mormons. I wonder why there aren’t any loud public protests, in B.C. or elsewhere in the country, calling for the dissolution of the Mormon community in Bountiful or the criminalization of all Mormon men who engage in polygyny (with underage girls or otherwise).

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young Canadian Muslimah, originally from the West Coast of Canada. She writes about whatever concerns her about the state of the Muslim Ummah, drawing upon her experiences and observations within her own local community. You may contact her at anonymouse@muslimmatters.org She is is no longer a writer for MuslimMatters.org.

133 Comments

133 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Faraz

    October 23, 2007 at 11:10 AM

    Bountiful is an interesting story. I’ve always found the double-standards to be quite silly, but considering that their leaders are facing jail-time, I can’t say they’re being treated that well either.

    I don’t think faith-based arbitration is a can of worms we’re ready to open, even if they did become allowed. Precisely because we’re not organized enough amongst ourselves to pick leaders that we can agree on, and as you said, we have too many differences amongst ourselves to make it work. I don’t see it working, and I think we’d make ourselves look foolish and silly if we tried.

  2. Amad

    Amad

    October 23, 2007 at 12:04 PM

    It is amazing though… how far something like homosexuality is come, in terms of acceptance, yet polygamy that is really recognized in one way or the other in most divinely inspired religious traditions, continues to be a crime!

    Relative morality will continue to create its own strange social standards…

  3. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 2:00 PM

    There is certainly more than one double standard in operation here. Am I the only one who ses it? What about polyandry? Canada is essentially a Western society, and women in western societies have achieved a high degree of equality. In fact most Western societies consider women the equals of men in law, even if in practice, the law and society still often fall short of that ideal.

    Still, if polugyny were to be legalized in Canada, polyandry would soon have to receive the same recognition. Most polygamy is part of religious practice, of course, and since almost all modern religions are based on patriarchy and male dominance, you might find that the idea of a woman having more than one husband would be – at least – the equal in controversy to gay marriage.

    But here is another problem that isn’t always taken into consideration – especially when men contemplate the delights of ‘owning’ more than one woman: the resultant shortage of males. It’s a huge problem among the FLDS, who have been leaving their escess boys on deserted highways for years, so that the more powerful, older men who collect dozens of wives won’t have to compete with the more interesting young males. The ratio of male births to female births is about equal. So if some men have more than one wife – even only 4 wives – some men will have none. (Leaving out concubinage, that is, which seems to be OK within Islam as well).

    Of course some of the ‘leftover’ men might be gay, and some completely uniinterested in sex with anyone at all. But the majority probably don’t fall into either of those categories, so in a democratic society, I should think that a certain amount of discontent with the injustice of plural marriage would result.

    And in FLDS towns, of course, nothing remotely like democracy or equality is extant at all. So the young girls who are assigned to various men – often much older men, have no say in their lives, and generally submit. But unless Canadian society undergoes a reversal of women’s equality, most women raised in a free society won’t submit – and no law can make them.

    However, go ahead and open that can of worms. All of these ancient notions need radical reconsideration.

  4. Amad

    Amad

    October 23, 2007 at 2:17 PM

    I don’t think anyone here is advocating that the legalization be done, but rather discussing issues in the news and social trends.

  5. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 2:25 PM

    I was commenting on the ‘double standards’ that someone mentioned. One hundred years ago, even in Canada or the US, the idea that women might claim equal rights in such a matter as polygamy, would have been silly, to say the least. And probably most men who approve of polygamy aren’t thinking of that aspect even now. But I assure you it would arise.

  6. Amad

    Amad

    October 23, 2007 at 2:30 PM

    oh ok. Got it now.

  7. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 23, 2007 at 2:38 PM

    “Most polygamy is part of religious practice”

    Wouldn’t you describe men/ women with multiple sexual partners at one time to be a type of polygamy? When a man gets a mistress, or a woman seeks pleasure with someone other than her husband (or their long-term partners), doesn’t that count as polygamy of sorts?
    When I see what’s common today, I see God’s wisdom in allowing polygyny as it exists within the Shariah: something permitted, but with MANY rules and restrictions.

    For example, limiting it to 4 wives, and with the financial obligations that come with them (each woman must be given housing and provision of equal value, or at least that which she’s pleased with within reasonable limits), would mean that men would more likely *not* marry more than one (or two)… and since Muslim women have the CHOICE to enter such a marriage or not (they aren’t “collected” the way FLDS does it), then again I’m sure the amount of polygamous marriages will remain pretty low.

    And as Amad pointed out, nobody here is actually advocating legalization of polygyny; just exploring the hypothetical situation.

    Thank you for comment, Mollyfurie, I enjoyed reading it! :)

  8. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 2:54 PM

    No, I wouldn’t consider adultery as polygamy. Polygamy must entail some of the obligations of marriage. Amd even within FLDS, the wives have some marital obligations and some rights – unfortunately, these rights (unlike those of Muslim women) are all reserved for the after life, so have little bearing on her life on earth – and are unproven and unprovable in this one, like all promises of heaven.

  9. Avatar

    Nazia

    October 23, 2007 at 3:57 PM

    Hi Mollyfurie,

    Are you atheist? Because the other day, I was thinking about a question I would like to ask an atheist, and I live in a small, conservative town where I’m still relatively new…so the internet seems to be my next best option.

    If not, it’s cool. Atheist websites and explanations just use too many big words…lol.

  10. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 4:46 PM

    I’m not precisely an atheist, but I might as well be, because I believe organized religion is evil, that god is unknowable by humans, and that the best we can do in this life is be good to other humans and species on this planet. In all of thse things, I am closer to atheism than to conventional religion, and some of my best friends are atheists. So ask – maybe I can answer.

  11. Avatar

    Joseph

    October 23, 2007 at 4:46 PM

    Uhm, a *lot* of ignorance here. First, the Mormon church no longer recognizes polygamy and excommunicates anyone who practices it.

    Second, “and since Muslim women have the CHOICE to enter such a marriage or not” Mouse, don’t pee on my head and tell me it’s raining, ‘K? Moslem women are treated no better than chattel.
    (Insult to Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) removed – MuslimMatters staff)

    • Avatar

      fedayeen

      March 19, 2015 at 5:43 PM

      Mainstream mormons only “outlawed” polygamy when they sought statehood for Utah since under US law it is considered illegal. However, according to their core beliefs that hasn’t actually changed; the mainstream mormons seeking acceptance among the American public don’t engage in this practice yet they haven’t openly denounced nor criticised it either.

  12. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 5:00 PM

    I am not technically an atheist. I believe that god is unknowable by humans and organized religion originated as a mind control technique for the purpose of gaining power over others (outside of the more direct methods of warfare and politics) and for the control and distribution of available females. However, many of my best friends are atheists and I might be able to answer your question – or know someone who can.

  13. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 5:08 PM

    Hello Nazia

    I’ve tried to answer your question twice, but it isn’t showing up on the site. I’m not an atheist. I don’t think any human can know god and believe religion is a method of controlling others, especially women, gaining power and getting money. Many of my best friends are atheistsm tho’ and I might be able to answer your question. IF my comments are permitted to be published on this board.

  14. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 23, 2007 at 5:28 PM

    “First, the Mormon church no longer recognizes polygamy and excommunicates anyone who practices it.”

    FLSD obviously allows it.

    “Moslem women are treated no better than chattel.”
    You were saying something about ignorance…???

    Please read our comments policy.
    We’d appreciate if it you refrained from insulting our beloved Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). At MuslimMatters, we expect people to have a civil dialogue without resorting to such a low and crass level.

  15. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    October 23, 2007 at 5:32 PM

    Hey Mollyfurie – sorry about that! Akismet is hungry today…

  16. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 5:39 PM

    I lived in Utah for a brief period in the 60s (seemed much longer to this California girl) and my impression was that women were not well treated there within the bounds of the mainstream Mormon church and from what I’ve studied of Mormon doctrine, women are not men’s spiritual equals either, as they will be back in polygamy in the hereafter.

    I contend that patriarchy is the norm among all the world’s religions, actually, so the LDS need not apologise as far as I am concerned!

  17. Avatar

    Joseph

    October 23, 2007 at 5:49 PM

    I contend that patriarchy is the norm among all the world’s religions

    Except Christianity. Yannow the whole “Mary mother of God” thing?

    And Shinto, where many of the Gods are Goddesses

    And Hinduism

    Almost all religions incorporate the feminine into the narrative. Except [Islam] (latter part of sentence removed by MM staff)

  18. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 23, 2007 at 6:03 PM

    In Islam, women are equal to men in the eyes of God.

    For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)

    Whosoever does that which is right, and believes, whether male or female, him or her will We quicken to happy life. (16:97)

    (On women’s rights)
    O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them except when they have become guilty of open lewdness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike something and Allah will bring about through it a great deal of good. (4:19)

    And among His signs is this, that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them; and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (30:21)

    All this is from the Qur’an. There is much, much more in the Qur’an and Sunnah that emphasizes good treatment of women, respect of women, honouring of women.

  19. Avatar

    Nazia

    October 23, 2007 at 6:04 PM

    Hi Mollyfurie,

    Thanks for trying to respond quickly. I think you should be able to answer my question…if there is an answer. How does an atheist feel about the injustice in the world? Like, a person who constantly oppresses others without any consequences and dies in a state of luxury without any question. What is your opinion or belief about this subject?

    Thanks in advance.

  20. Avatar

    Nazia

    October 23, 2007 at 6:09 PM

    Uh oh. I think the same thing that was happening to Molly happened to me. I’ll try posting my question a second time…

    Molly, I wanted to know about your belief or opinions regarding the injustice in the world? For example, if a person lives his life constantly oppressing others without consequence and dies in a state of luxury without question. What do you take of this person? Similarly, the people that he was oppressing and their misfortune, what do you take of them?

    I know people of faith believe in a Hereafter in which our deeds will be accounted for, but what are you thoughts?

    Hope my question goes through this time.

  21. Amad

    Amad

    October 23, 2007 at 6:10 PM

    Joseph, seems you came here from the LGF cult blog. So, unless you tone down your arrogant and condescending remarks, you’ll be history.

    Before you talk about stuff, brush up your facts. Lets start with JudeoChristian traditions vs. Islam:
    http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/w_comparison_full.htm

    Are you kidding that Hindus treat women better? Have you heard about Sati? I guess you should: http://muslimsonline.com/babri/sati.htm

    Here’s another blog entry you should read about Hinduism and women:

    * Ten million girls have been murdered by their parents in past 20 years in India!

    http://ummreem.wordpress.com/2007/03/31/got-a-girl/
    http://ummreem.wordpress.com/2007/03/28/if-you-really-want-to-help/
    Again, remember, any more insults and you’re out.

  22. Avatar

    Joseph

    October 23, 2007 at 6:26 PM

    Anad,

    **comment edited as per house rules**

    And don’t be editing my comments. I know the instinct to oppress is first nature to Moslems but you are in *my* country and you will respect our rights, even if we are Kuffar.

    **Its Amad, not Anad, nitwit. Its Muslims, not Moslems. Secondly, I am in your country, as much as YOU are in MY country. Get the xenophobia out of your head… Muslim-Americans are as much Americans as Christian-Americans, Jewish Americans, Hindu Americans, name it. If there is anyone with “special rights to ‘Americanship'” its the Native Indians!

    I’ll do what I wish on MY blog. I know you have the instinct to follow the neocons and right-wingers of this country in supporting the invasion or stealing of others’ territories and then calling the natives who are seeking their freedom from foreign rule as terrorists….


    Unfortunately, your instinct has met an American knows American rights better than a bigot like you… so unless your comments are not of trolling and religion-insulting nature, they’ll be gladly deleted… I am sure you hate being bumped off by a “brownie”… get used to it… we’re here to stay and we usually use more brain than you right-wing neocon-loving sheep**

  23. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 23, 2007 at 6:38 PM

    Yep, we now have our token LGF zombie trolling the comments section!

    “I’ve read the Koran and other Moslem works”
    Riiiiiiiight. So what do you say about the Qur’anic verses I listed above?

    “but you are in *my* country”
    I’m a Canadian through and through… it’s the only home I know. I cheer for my hockey team, proudly pour maple syrup onto almost everything (including carrot soup!), and have visited a Parliament building without blowing it up.
    How is it any more YOUR country than it is mine?

  24. Avatar

    Joseph

    October 23, 2007 at 6:52 PM

    Don’t worry, Amad, I’ve contacted the FBI and made them aware of this terrorist-supporting blog. Expect a knock on the door soon, you Islamofascist.

    I have to absolutely approve this precious comment from Joseph. This is exactly one of the reasons why our country’s law enforcement has been rendered ineffective by fools and bigots like Joe who run to mommy to complain because “they won’t let me be a bigot”! Poor cry-baby Joe… I feel kind of sorry for how pathetic you are. I hope the rest of fair-minded Americans are seeing where our tax money is going… running after false alarms and cry-babies who try to turn others in when they don’t get their way. FBI, DHS, and all our state and national agencies and department are completely welcome to visit our site. In fact, I bet they will be glad to see Americans practicing their right to be Americans!

  25. Avatar

    zaynab

    October 23, 2007 at 6:53 PM

    O Bigotry, how I hate it when you rear your ugly head.

    On somewhat of a tangent: I’ve recently been wondering about these kind of communities and how they are left to function unchecked. I mean, are there any kind of state institutions (police, local gov’t, etc.) to oversee or tend to them?

    They must pay taxes and what not…are polling sections set up at election time?

    Sorry if this is somewhat off topic, but if anyone knows, fill me in :)

  26. Avatar

    Sis

    October 23, 2007 at 8:31 PM

    I don’t think anyone should be practicing polygny b/c its illegal in the land we are living in.
    You have to be sneaky and hide your other wife and children from the government, not so nice.

  27. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 9:38 PM

    In answer to Nazia’s question. Injustice is always wrong, whether or not there is a god or a heaven or a hell. The existence of injustice certainly doesn’t prove that there is a god. Some people use exactly the opposite argument – the terrible things that happen in the world prove that there IS no god. But as Marcus Aurelius – a Stoic pagan emperor – noted, whether there are gods or not, we owe each other a duty of kindness and cooperation.

    It is true that there is some recognition of ‘the feminine’ in many , if not all, religions. They may be left over from an earlier time, when, some say, god was considered to be a woman. A mother goddess. But that doesn’ mean human women are treated well in those religions where there are goddesses. In some versions of the Ramayana, the heroine is killed because she was raped!

    Catholicism wasn’t able to stamp out the presence of goddesses in Europe, so it incorporated them. In some ways, that gives women a higher status among Catholic Christians than among protestants. Women, of course, can’t be popes or priests, or cardinals or bishops. Of course they can be nuns, but more impressively, they can be saints – and many popes were no saints, believe me! And women in their convents were educated, so they could be theologians, composers, artists, philosphers, scientists – all of the pursuits that were effectively forbidden them in secular life.

    Many of the statues of Mary were originally statues of Ceres or some other goddess – so you will see statues of her holding a sheaf of wheat, or with stars around her head, like Isis.

    In the Catholic church, brides were not supposed to veil their faces or be ‘given away’ by their fathers because of the implication that the woman was not acting of her own free will. Since marriage is a sacrament in the RC church, it requires consent in order to be valid. (I would not be surprised if lots of marriages were forced on them anyway.)

    In the Old Testament women WERE chattel – bought, sold, traded, stolen, and even executed on a bet with the deity – see Jephthah’s daughter.

    For its time and place, Islam probably was an improvement. But I have spoken to Muslims about this, and they admit that a woman’s testimony is only worth half as much as a man’s in such countries as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. And to balance out Sati, there are honor killings throughout the Middle East – in fact, one happened right here in California during the 80s. (Of course there are also informal ‘honor killings’ of women by jealous husbands, etc. everywhere.)

    In general, women are not liberated by religion, but by their own efforts.

  28. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 9:43 PM

    Got bumped again! OK – in answer to Nazia’s question, the presence of justice or injustice in the world does not prove or disprove the existence of god. In fact, some people say there can’t be a god because so many terrible things are ‘allowed’ to happen – and the tyrants who cause them so often get away with it. The mystery of our existence, complete with our intelligence and consciousness, is not easily solved.

  29. Amad

    Amad

    October 23, 2007 at 9:59 PM

    “Comments missing”… unless your comment was deserving of the “history” command… sometimes comments find their way into the spam folder… completely randomly… but nothing gets deleted until we look at it… so sometimes it may take a bit but it will be unspammed and brought to life… sorry for the inconvenience.

  30. Avatar

    Nazia

    October 23, 2007 at 10:13 PM

    So injustice is a mystery for an atheist? I know we owe each other a duty of kindness and cooperation theoretically, but what about the corruption of so many people around us that goes unnoticed? How do atheists feel when they see this corruption where innocent people are the victims and nothing is done to help them?

  31. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 23, 2007 at 10:48 PM

    “I’ve recently been wondering about these kind of communities and how they are left to function unchecked. I mean, are there any kind of state institutions (police, local gov’t, etc.) to oversee or tend to them?”

    If you read the Vancouver Sun’s reports, you’ll find that, interestingly, what was going on in Bountiful was well known – the problem is that no one really wanted to do anything about it because of the “sensitivity” of the issue.

  32. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 11:04 PM

    As I said, I am not an atheist. Most of the atheists that I know are progressive politically, and work for peace and justice in this world. As do I. But most of my friends are artists and already quite liberal anyway, whether religious or not. Perhaps there are – somewhere – atheists who revel in injustice and evil. I don’t know any.

    I personally feel terrible about injustice, sometimes I send money to this or that cause and hope it is used well. Sometimes I call or write my legislators to demand action on some cause. Often I participate in demonstrations. I don’t expect god to do anything about it. Indeed, my whole lifetime has witnessed so many massacres, famines, wars, and genocides, that I figure that god – if there is a god – is probably expecting US to act on them.

    A few of my friends are conservative religious people, and it may be entirely coincidental, but they are the ones who support this war, for instance – which I consider unjust. In fact, they tend towards authoritarianism.

    Most atheists are humanists. I am a humanist myself. Humanism is not known for its cruelty or practice of injustice. I don’t even believe in capital punishment.

    There is a site on the web devoted to Republican child molesters. It’s a long list, and most of them were very religious people as well, and outspokenly intolerant of other religions and lifestyles. Add that to the recent Catholic priest pedophile scandals, and it really does begin to look as though strict religion, which too often encourages intolerance and repression, also produces much hypocrisy.

  33. Avatar

    Umm Reem

    October 23, 2007 at 11:10 PM

    “For its time and place, Islam probably was an improvement. But I have spoken to Muslims about this, and they admit that a woman’s testimony is only worth half as much as a man’s in such countries as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. And to balance out Sati, there are honor killings throughout the Middle East – in fact, one happened right here in California during the 80s. (Of course there are also informal ‘honor killings’ of women by jealous husbands, etc. everywhere.)”

    mollufurie: I just wanted say about this part of your comment that Sati is a ‘religious’ act, which can be found in the holy book of Hinduism. However, honor-killing is more of a ‘cultural’ thing and has obviously nothing to do with Islam.

    And you are right about women being killed/abused everywhere, as you can see here:

    “On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner.”
    http://www.endabuse.org/resources/facts/

    But whatever happens elsewhere is never associated with the religion of that particular country, however and unfortunately whatever happens in Middle-easter countries or Pakistan always puts Islam to trial although it may have nothing to do with Islam!

  34. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 11:10 PM

    My last post went missing, but I trust it is only temporary and I don’t wish to double post. Both Canada and the southwestern US states have been reluctant to interfere with polygamous communities. The second and all subsequent wives are not married in a legal ceremony, so it becomes a matter of behavior among consenting adults. Except that, as it turns out, the women are not always adults and rarely have other choices. Warren Jeffs was known to expel men from his church for some reason and ‘reassign’ the man’s many wives and children to other men. These people are singularly unaware of the rights of a citizen in the United States – or Canada for that matter.

  35. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 11:18 PM

    Well Nazia I will try again briefly. Atheists are mostly humanists, in my experience, and not at all in favor of injustice. How they fight it or express their disapproval is probably as individual as the ways in which religious people do.

  36. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 23, 2007 at 11:32 PM

    Many apologies, Mollyfurie, for the eaten comments… Akismet is acting up today!

  37. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 23, 2007 at 11:33 PM

    You’ll have to explain Akismet and his/her/its temper to me.

  38. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 23, 2007 at 11:41 PM

    Akismet is the spam catcher that WordPress provides for its comments… usually it’s well-behaved but there are times when it seems to have eaten something that doesn’t agree with it, whereupon it takes it out on other people’s comments :)

  39. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 12:24 AM

    a spam catcher? How disappointing! I thought it had something to do with ‘kismet.’ Fate, I mean – only THIS fate is capricious.

  40. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 11:59 AM

    In Texas they recently changed the law to try and prevent the Spread of Polygamy and their cults. The laws prohibit the marriage of anyone to their cousins.
    In Christianity that is forbidden but in Islam it is common for people to marry their first cousin.
    Islam does not prohibit marriage of cousins but it does suggest in hadeeth that it is discouraged.
    I wonder if Muslims realize that some of their marriages are illegal or against the law in certain states of the US.
    This same analogy can be used for polygamy. Will those Muslims who say that Polygamy can not be practiced because it is against the law of the land we live in, should get divorced from their cousins.

    There is going to be a new group of Muslim leaders who are aware of the law and have background in Mediation or Conflict Resolution to create an Islamic family arbitration system here. Canada was making strong efforts but the media and press outflanked them. Here in the US it will need to be done as well.
    How will Muslims make these changes in perception for the western world. We have to change the way we talk about certain issues.

    We need Muslims in media, press, politics!
    Not pretty, but necessary.

    and by the way…how is it that we can have swingers and nudist colonies everywhere but polygamy? No way.

    I say we call Islam the new swingers group, except it is only for men with up to 4 women…now it is ALL American !

    Salam all

  41. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 1:44 PM

    @ Mollyfurie
    Yes, I’m afraid it was nothing so interesting as true kismet!

  42. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 24, 2007 at 1:45 PM

    Wow that Joseph guy just makes me shudder, I cant believe that there are people out there like him. I mean my God! Are they human?

    Muslims in politics and the Media… Several have tried few have succeeded, the filter is will catch any and all that may enter the sphere of politics, law, and the media…well media may be able to work I have to do more research on that but being careful is the key word. Because people like Joseph are, and I say this with great pain, out there to ruin the lives of people when they are only trying to keep their rights.

    Yes the Muslims to do need people in these red areas…. The question is how do we get by the filters and the Josephs?

  43. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 1:52 PM

    Well it is very difficult.
    You have to make sure you are a positive change agent. You have to promote the the ideas of freedom, civil right, freedom of speech, and press. You have to understand the way the political and media world work.
    Check out my website and listen to my radio show on Islam. I am working on the concepts right now.
    Use audio video, viral content, liberal arts.
    It is difficult!
    You have to prove yourself with education or experience, so that you are not branded as a turncoat and find yourself in an orange jumpsuit in Cuba!
    http://www.HotConflict.com

  44. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 24, 2007 at 1:55 PM

    Oh and about the polygamy thing which this post was about at the beginning… :)
    Sadly people take advantage of these rights and abuse them to a point where now women and men dont trust it anymore. It has been tarnished and it will take alot to rebuild its credibility among men and women, mostly women. The good judgement on having polygamy legalized now doesntt even wiegh a thing compared to the bad omen it carries with it. Women all around the world are being abused and hurt because of this and other women are being abused and hurt without it, the middle ground has been lost and burried.

  45. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 1:56 PM

    Islam is the middle ground

  46. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 24, 2007 at 2:03 PM

    O Yah definitley without a doubt dont get me wrong, I was referring to the western mentality. Nothing of Islam is being considered in the west its being thrown into the melting pot with the other religions. for example the Freedom for other religions in the Golden age of Islam surpasses democracy like the heavens and the earth. Political policies in Islam are so awesome I wish I could tell it to the World.
    In that sense I meant the middle ground is lost and burried because Islam isnt being shown as a social system rather it is shown just as a faith.

  47. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 2:06 PM

    Moiez @ 1:45 – I think this comment was meant for another thread (Canada: A Nation of Bigots? or the Holy Land Foundation post?)… should we move it there?

  48. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 2:08 PM

    To your point, in the Golden era of Islam….
    the Muslims allowed the other Religions to have their own arbitration courts or laws to govern their own rules within their communities.
    Rabbis and Priests were able to hold mediations and arbitrations of their own religious laws. Especially when it came to family laws and marriage, inheritance, trade within their community.
    Interesting concept that the Islamic way was to allow freedom of religion in a Muslim country and yet Joseph is willing to kill us and kick us out of “HIS” country.
    Anyone who sees me, knows I am a total white boy! I come from here.
    Like Richard Gere in an Officer and a Gentleman, “I Got No Where Else to Go!”

  49. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 2:09 PM

    And I definitely agree w/ you about the middle ground being “lost” – it seems that most people get carried away by the emotional connotations of a thing (e.g. polygamy) rather than thinking about the practical aspect of it (legalizing it would help protect the second/ third/ fourth wives and their children).

  50. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 24, 2007 at 2:11 PM

    No it was this one it refers to Joseph up at the top and to S.S’s comment sorry ill try to stay on topic next time :)

  51. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 2:25 PM

    Oh okay…
    Nah, it’s all right – that’s what makes blogs so special! Randomness is welcome here at MuslimMatters, especially at my posts :D

  52. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 2:27 PM

    “………………… Political policies in Islam are so awesome I wish I could tell it to the World.
    In that sense I meant the middle ground is lost and burried because Islam isnt being shown as a social system rather it is shown just as a faith.”

    Some of the defenses you mount in Islam’s favor are definitely going to rub Western minds the wrong way. The Western ideal is SECULAR gpvernment.

    However most Muslims really feel about these things, there are some notoriously bad examples of theocracy out there. I can still remember when thousands of women were executed in Iran after the Ayatollah’s takeover. Women in Pakistan – no, GIRLS – and elsewhere in Islamic states, have been stoned to death. And I don’t even CARE if it was for adultery! In Saudi Arabia, girls were trapped in a burning building by religious police because they weren’t properly covered. And of course the excesses of the Taliban are well documented.

    Few women would ever want to live in such a society. And few women would want to live in polygamy in any society where they are equals. Islam may be less oppressive to women than the FLDS, of course, but women are no more likely to want to share their men with other women than men are to share with other men. Such a system can only be born and maintained in a framework of inequality – not only of women, but of the many men who simply won’t be able to marry at all.

  53. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 2:33 PM

    @ Mollyfurie:
    The examples you give are all of Muslims doing things in the name of Islam, which are not neccessarily Islamic (or not done in an Islamically correct manner).

    Just as the justice system of a secular goverment can be twisted and manipulated, so too are the justice systems of theocracies.

    Sadly, a lot of times practices are carried out which are given the name of Islam but which are the results of CULTURE (e.g. honour killings).

  54. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 2:39 PM

    It is part of Human nature to feel jealous. Even our mother Ayesha was tailing the prophet and hiding in the streets of Medina to follow him and see where he was going.

    She did that whole thing with the honey drink and caused a ruckus!
    I say all of this with love. It is up to men to be MEN. You want more than 1 wife, step up and draw them to you. Be the confident male, the alpha male.
    In this society they have whole organizations devoted to being a Pick-Up artist. The goal is to bed as many women as possible.
    When you hear about that…marrying four and taking responsability is a big difference.
    There is a show on HBO called BIG LoVe.
    It is about the LDS and they show some interesting points of view. Polygamy is not all fun and Games, it is HARD work…pun intended!

  55. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 2:40 PM

    Oh and the cousin marriage thing. It is legal for first cousins to marry in many states in the US. However, what has been going on in the FLDS is unique. EVERYONE is descended from TWO guys there. And few, if any, people have ever converted and joined the FLDS. It’s tyrannical, for one reason. So first cousins have been marrying first cousins for generations. The kids there look like clones. And now it turns out that a birth defect so rare in the rest of the world that there were only 5 or 10 known victims is quite common in this very small community.

    Unlike Islam, which requires a man to support his wives,, the FLDS has them all living on welfare and food stamps and medical aid to the poor. The government is unwilling to let them starve, so it looks the other way while these welfare queens (I mean the men) rob them blind. And their reckless, dangerous breeding practices are being subsidized by taxpayers who would NEVER approve of such a lifestyle, and would sooner have all the men in jail. And meanwhile, the men drive around in big new cars, while the women and children are living in dire poverty.

    Perhaps it is safe to marry a first cousin in one generation – and then, maybe several generations later. But even an animal breeder knows that some fresh genetic stock is important.

  56. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 2:45 PM

    Thats exactly right.
    When my dad asked me who I wanted to marry…
    I said,

    ” I want Fresh Genetic Stock” !

  57. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 2:56 PM

    But Saleem, these are Western nations. They may agree to leave polygamists alone – to look the other way, but most Western women would prefer to support themselves and live alone than share a husband! The sexual experimentation that is now the norm for young adults of both sexes in the West, is a form of advanced dating – whether anyone approves of it or not. And it has exploded quite a number of myths. For one, the myth of superior male sexuality. But marriage is still another matter and most young people expect fidelity from their spouses when they do marry.

    Big Love is a situation comedy, albeit with a highly unusual situation, and most fundamentalist LDS people are shocked by the sexual part of Big Love. They are quite straightlaced and believe sex is for procreation – which they tend to do in vast numbers.

    Finally, the h**l with alpha males! Look around. Who starts the wars? Who lives like kings while others starve? This leftover from ape society should just go out for sports – preferably sports that give them a chance to knock each other off – and PLEASE not run the world!

  58. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 2:58 PM

    Saleem – what if you’d said “I don’t want to marry. I want to live alone and have a career” – would your father have wished you well?

  59. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 3:06 PM

    You got the wrong guy Molly
    I might sound religious and be a person who gives sermons in the community but I was raised in a very “healthy” muslim home

    My dad is from India and he married a British Christian woman. My mom converted.
    My father wanted me to study and I was the one who wanted desperately to get married.

    Islam encourages early marriage because we dont date or have the extramarital situations that are so common in the west.

    Growing up here is more difficult because we are eXposed to a lot!

    My father did support me in everything I have done
    Allah blessed me with amazing parent.

    “Live Alone” who wants that Molly?

  60. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 3:16 PM

    “Saleem – what if you’d said “I don’t want to marry. I want to live alone and have a career” – would your father have wished you well?”

    Funnily enough, there are quite a few Muslim parents who actually do tell their kids to get a career before every marrying… in fact, my aunt did that, and now she’s regretting it!

  61. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 3:29 PM

    I got the wife first and never regretted it.
    I just finished law school a year ago, my wife is in her third year of dental school and I have 5 kids…I think…
    there are a lot of them, I lose count!
    anyway…the sunnah is there for a reason.
    It is important for Muslim to talk about these issues in the same way the Christian Right talk about the importance of family values.
    Louise Farakhan just talked to the Nation about the importance of two parent homes.
    Strong Family values is the key in Islam

  62. Amad

    Amad

    October 24, 2007 at 3:55 PM

    I have 5 kids…I think…

    Hope that doubt is not an ominous sign… just kidding :) Mashallah… way to go Saleem!

  63. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 4:03 PM

    I was just curious. Worse than that, Saleem, I assumed you were a woman! I don’t want to live alone – in fact, I never have. I followed a fairly old-fashioned model in my youth – an early marriage, two kids, a house in the suburbs. In my case it was a misery and I left the marriage after 16 years. I never caught up on the education I missed however. I love family though. I have 6 grandchildren.

  64. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 4:14 PM

    This leads back to the polygamy discussion.
    The prophet encourage marry the loving woman and the one who will have many children.
    We are a nation that does not need violence to spread Islam.
    We spread Islam by procreation!
    The west is having a big problem. Europe and the U.S. is in PoPulation decline.
    There is something beautiful about having a lot of children. Yes being a parent is a difficult job, but Islam is all about family. Extended family system has been killed in the US.
    The US 2.4 kids a dog and the white picket fence leads to decay.
    When molly says leave home and be on your own, this is how you lose your way.
    Importance of family, and even extended family.
    I met someone who had two wives and it was a blessing. When you are married and have kids, you dont spend a lot of time together.
    With two wives, each wife has a day off and gets to spend quality time with their husband.

  65. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 4:20 PM

    “In my case it was a misery”

    Personally, I think that since every individual is different, we can’t really follow the exact same model when it comes to such things as marriage, education, etc.

    There are Muslims for whom marriage is something eagerly anticipated and looked forward to, some who would prefer to live a while on their own before marriage, some who love marriage but don’t want kids (got a couple of these people in my family, lol), some who actually not want to get married at all (a lot fewer of these, though! ;) ).

    In the end, as Muslims we have certain obligations that we *must* fulfill, and other things that are optional (while extremely beneficial and highly recommended). Marriage is something which can be either an obligation (when staying away from it means getting drawn into fornication), or optional (when there is no real danger)… and polygyny is one of those things which is most certainly optional, and can only be practiced when certain rules and regulations are followed.

  66. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    October 24, 2007 at 5:08 PM

    AnonyMouse: There was another article on polygyny in Macleans (they are bigots but have some good stuff) that talked about Muslims a while ago, maybe check it out. I think as a community we need to take the marriage issues one step at a time–we have plenty of parents not letting there kids get married and they get caught up in the haraam. We need to solve that first and then we can entertain thoughts of polygyny.

    P.S. Is it just me but do a lot of the discussions here get steered into Muslim-nonMuslim interactions? It’s good, alhamdulillah, but we kinda got enough issues already hmm? -sigh- distracting…

  67. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 5:20 PM

    Before you can have two wives, you’ll have to persuade two women to share your affections. This will get more and more difficult as time goes by – especially when women are living in the west.

    As for many children – I was raised next door to my cousins – 8 kids – and was very much part of that family as well as of my own. But I am a socially conscious person, and early on decided that I would not contribute to global overpopulation. Five million kids starve to death every year. No, they don’t live here in California or Canada, but there is no doubt in my mind that the pressure on food and water supplies by affluent cultures contributes to the problem. While there are always exceptions (especially when a couple can afford many kids) in general, the birth rate goes down where women receive an education. Lots of racists like to point out that the Mexican families coming over the border always seem to have a lot of kids. But this I know: their daughters will assume the American norm – 2-point-something kids. So as much as I love a big family, I wouldn’t ever advise anyone to have one. Soon enough, the human race will be fighting for its life – and our dear, monstrous US military establishment predicts wars over water and arable land. Unfortunately, they are preparing to win those wars, rather than working on plans to help the rest of the world live better, and teaching Americans how wo live more simply.

  68. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 5:24 PM

    c’mon fellas – you keep talking about polygamy and poygyny, but you are ignoring the obvious. In Canada, any law that legalizes plural marriage will make it possible for women to have more than one husband. And I wonder how you will deal with that? I once knew a woman who lived for a number of years with three men – all of whom treated her child as their own and all of whom loved her – and got along pretty well, too. Then she fell for a guy who refused to share her, married him and was divorced after a short stormy period.

  69. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 5:45 PM

    “In Canada, any law that legalizes plural marriage will make it possible for women to have more than one husband. And I wonder how you will deal with that?”

    Probably the same way we’ve dealt with/ felt about gay marriage: Islamically, we strongly disagree with it, but since Canada isn’t an Islamic state, we can’t really do anything about it.

  70. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 6:00 PM

    My response to the big family issue got bumped again. It boils down to this:

    ” The population reached 1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974 and 5 billion in late 1986. On October 12th 1999, the human population of Earth reached 6 billion. The population has doubled from 3 billion in 1959. ”

    “10 million children died before reaching their fifth birthday in 1998 and nearly 8 million of them did not reach their first birthday. About 98 percent of child deaths occurred in developing countries, with the least developed countries accounting for a third of all deaths under age five.”

    “The world’s richest 1 billion people use 80% of the world’s resources. . . . the other five billion plus people use only 20%.”

    “. . . the number of fish in the seas is a fraction of what it was a century ago. Marine biologists differ . . . . Some argue that stocks of many large oceangoing fish have fallen by 80 to 90 percent, while others say the declines have been less steep. But all agree that, in most places, too many boats are chasing too few fish. ”

    “The world’s demand for water has tripled over the last half-century” The Pentagon predicts that wars of the future be fought over WATER.

    “Scientists say wildlife extinction rates are soaring. The die-off, they claim, threatens the planet’s web of life or biodiversity which sustains farming, forestry and oceans”

    We are also losing topsoil, agricultural land, and the forests which help make our air, from population pressure. The increased market for meat contributes considerably to global warming too. And countries in which people are going without proper nutrition are growing our cotton and coffee and even foods like tomatoes for the US market – when we can grow those ourselves. Come to think of it, California is a big cotton-producing state – but all of our ag land is endangered by subdivisions.

    That is why so many young Americans in MY generation stopped at two children. I took Sartre very seriously when he said one should judge one’s behavior by asking ‘what if everyone did as I do?’

  71. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 6:02 PM

    When it comes to kids, I actually (sort of) agree with you, Mollyfurie… even though Islam encourages having children, it also encourages sponsoring orphans and others in need: so much so that the Prophet said that the sponsor of an orphan will be next to him – the Prophet – in Paradise.

  72. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 24, 2007 at 7:31 PM

    I will be on the air tonight talking about polygamy and dating in Islam. Along with the concepts of marrying People of the Book
    at
    http://www.HotConflict.com
    11pm central
    you can call into the show to ask question or make comments

  73. Amad

    Amad

    October 24, 2007 at 8:31 PM

    I reckon most women would find having more than one man at a time in their life quite despicable. I would say the opposite would be true for most men even among those who are not inclined to polygamy or adultery. There is a difference in our programming, there is no doubt about it. While you the percent of sexually harrased women is quite high, how many times do you hear of the opposite? Of course there are exceptions but generally speaking men tend to be the ones who have a harder time controlling their lust than women.

    Remember the husband’s addiction to porn post… I doubt you’ll find husbands complaining that their wives are addicted to porn, at least not many. Of course this does not justify this behavior… it is just a symptom of the differences between the sexes.

    Of course there are other social problems with polyandry, like who is the father (in the absence of dna testing). In any case, from a purely religious perspective shared by the “abrahamic” religions, there were examples of many Prophets engaged in polygamy. And no one is forcing this concept on anyone else… if individuals are free in the West to engage in homosexual activities, then why the restriction on others, esp in the presence of mutual consent?

  74. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 9:09 PM

    Isuspect that the mutual consent part is what you’ll find very little of in the West. Besides, as John Stuart Mill pointed out, no one knows what the REAL man or woman is like – we only see them through the lenses of the societies they’ve dreated – or rather, the societies that men, as the physically stronger sex, has created.

    In some of the polygamous societies, for instance, there is a custom of what is called ‘female circumcision’ – it is widespread enough that now, countries like France and England and America, find themselves in the position of banning it, in the interests of women’s rights, and in the face of a large influx of people from another culture. And what is it designed to do? Only one thing: to curb or abolish sexual desire in women. (“diminish, but do onot destroy, the prophet is supposed to have said – but the destruction continues – and why diminish?) And why would any Frenchman or American want to do such a thing? They would not. It is designed to facilitate polygamy – and nothing else.

    And I would argue that it is probably necessary, too, since women actually have a greater sexual capacity than men. If they did not have at least equal desire, then female genital mutilation would never enter anyone’s mind.

  75. Amad

    Amad

    October 24, 2007 at 9:33 PM

    This is the first time I have heard of the “new” link between polygamy and female circumcision. Of course you should note, since you kind of implied the opposite, that Islam does not condone or mandate the latter. Rather it is practiced in many parts of Africa by Muslims and non-Muslims. I am quite positive that it is not done in the Middle East, I know it is not done in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, etc… so definitely not an Islamic practice, but a cultural one. And sadly, it seems to be brutal in the way and conditions it is practiced and this should be condemned by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

    What I mentioned in my comment was in reference to men and women in all societies… of the East and the West. The differences are natural and exclusive of circumcision. So, then I don’t see your point at all.

    P.S. What quote are you referring to from the Prophet?

  76. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 9:52 PM

    Perhaps you have not heard of Nawal El Saadawi, a woman doctor from Egypt – who has spent a few years in jail for her activities – and a devout Muslim. It is from her book, The Hidden Face of Eve that I got this enformation. And a few other books – actually they were written by Middle Eastern women, although I know the problem is far worse and more extreme in Africa.

  77. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 10:24 PM

    Yes, I’ve heard about FGM in a few Arab countries – but it’s almost always done amongst the lower classes, the Bedouin, those who cling to their culture.
    As Amad said, there is NOTHING in Islam that condones FGM… in fact, it’s forbidden in Islam.
    The practice of female circumcision (to be differentiated from genital mutilation) is something that the Prophet (saw) permitted so long as it did not harm the woman in any major way.

  78. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 24, 2007 at 11:16 PM

    I was refering to the time of the 4 caliphs(Golden Age of Islam) that the Islamic state had some pretty decent political policies, It is true that this society is secular no doubt but even if the “few” women want to be placed in a polygamous society, they are considered in this society a minority party and minority rights are to be protected. Regarding FGM definitley agree with Mouse on that one,
    “so long as it does not harm the woman in any major way”
    not just harm but protect her from future harm if it helps her by preventing a severe illness. It makes much more sense that way for FGM to be used. Although I wouldnt think that would count as mutilation but as surgery, you get the point.

    Correct me if im wrong but I dont think there are any women who want to marry more that one husband in the minority party is there?

  79. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 11:24 PM

    Moiez, please be careful when you talk about female circumcision… there’s a difference between the sunnah-style female circumcision, and what’s referred to as FGM – female genital mutilation, which is totally haraam.

  80. Avatar

    Ahmad AlFarsi

    October 24, 2007 at 11:25 PM

    The hadeeth that mollyfurie is referring to can be found on IslamQA.com (search for ‘female circumcision’ or something similar). I’m not certain if her exact wording is precise, however.

  81. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 24, 2007 at 11:26 PM

    @ Dawud – sorry, your comment got buried pretty fast and I didn’t notice it!
    Which issue of Maclean’s was the article in? I’ll try to look it up, insha’Allah…

  82. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 24, 2007 at 11:44 PM

    Women tend to adapt to the society into which they are born – like men. In our day it is clear that women have as much sexual desire as men – but that was denied for centuries. In fact, in some places it was said women had NO sexual desire. Along with other things, such as women didn’t have the brains to make a good use of a college education, or hold high positions in government, or understand science or math. All of those ideas have been considered beyond question at one time or another. But they are now disproven.

    We don’t know what women can be. Maybe some women would want more than one husband. High maintenance women, for instance. We know there have always been women with many lovers. The only difference in polyandry is the ceremony, and the fact that they might all share living quarters. Fatherhood is easy to determine now with DNA. And among the Tibetans (who practice polyandry but not for the women’s benefit) all of a woman’s husbads are considered responsible for any children she has while married to them.

  83. Avatar

    aarij

    October 25, 2007 at 1:40 AM

    Actually, contrary to popular belief promoted by CSI and other such TV shows, DNA testing is still not precise at all times. (Aside: many of the testing such as gun-powder residue testing, fire scene re-tracing, etc. are flawed scientifically and have been proven to abduct the wrong people as criminals. I watched this documentary on Discovery once where they documented such these cases).

    It’s very, very high probability that the DNA results are correct (like 96% or something), but its not spot-on. So the issue of the “who’s-the-dad” is still unresolved. We can’t really toss a coin to decide the dad, can we?

    Also, what happens if a woman has multiple husbands and she is having her period and whatnot? Are the men to sit around and twiddle their thumbs while she gets done, or do we now propose (for the first time in human history) a harmonious many-to-many relationship? I love many-to-many relationships, but only when I’m designing software. This is real life, not software design!!

    As for high maintenance woman, they can write a clause in their marriage contract that they want the man to not marry another woman (as far as I know, this is Islamically acceptable), and if he does, the marriage is over.

    Moreover, the scarcely-mentioned pre-requisite for the multiple wife option is that the man has to treat all of his wives fairly (of course, he’d be naturally inclined to one over other, but fair treatment is still required in terms of time, money, etc. etc.). If the guy knows that the woman is high maintenance, surely he will be able to gauge this and realize that one is enough for me, no?

    Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), one needs to realize that the multiple wife option is just that: an option. In the past, it was a very common and many men exercised this option. In our times, its not. No big deal, it’s not like you have to marry 4 women to be a good Muslim! It’s a great option to have since it solves so many societal problems, but by no means is this a requirement!

    Men and women are different physically and physiologically (but not spiritually). Try equating two dissimilar types, and you get a type mismatch error. Can someone please inform our friends at the feminist movement of this? This is the root cause of all this “Why-not-women?” syndrome.

  84. Avatar

    AnonMuslim

    October 25, 2007 at 1:59 AM

    Let me try this again, my comment keeps getting caught by the filter…

    mollyfurie said:

    “In our day it is clear that women have as much sexual desire as men – but that was denied for centuries. In fact, in some places it was said women had NO sexual desire.”

    The thinking that women have no sexual desire or limited sexual desire is purely cultural and has been stated in the East and West. Islam has never stated anything close to this. What Islam has done is recognize the differences in men and women in terms of sexuality and make sure to remind husbands that the duty of sexual gratification is a 2 way street.

    For example, there are that hadith indicate the importance of a husband building intimacy with one’s wife.

    `Not one of you should fall upon his wife like an animal; but let there first be a messenger between you.’ `And what is that messenger?’ they asked, and he replied: `Kisses and words.’

    `Three things are counted inadequacies in a man. Firstly, meeting someone he would like to get to know, and taking leave of him before learning his name and his family. Secondly, rebuffing the generosity that another shows to him. And thirdly, going to his wife and having intercourse with her before talking to her and gaining her intimacy, satisfying his need from her before she has satisfied her need from him.’

    `Your eye has a right over you, your guests have a right over you, and your wife has a right over you.’ (Bukhari.)- In relation to a wife who complained to the Prophet PBUH that her husband would spend all night praying and all day fasting.

    “We don’t know what women can be. Maybe some women would want more than one husband. High maintenance women, for instance. ”

    I can only relate this to Islam, but I’m sure there are Muslim women who wish to marry more than 1 man. I’m also pretty sure there are Muslim men who wish to have more than 4 wives, but what it basically comes down to is following what has been prescribed to Muslims in the forms of the Quran and Hadith.

    But since these desires are outside the bounds of what is allowed Islamically they cannot be fulfilled. Is it fair? No, but then again this life isn’t meant to be fair. Yes we are to enjoy this life within the bounds of Islam to the fullest, but one must remember that this life is a test and that control of one’s desires is a fundamental part of Islam.

    It may not make complete sense on why in today’s society with women being able to achieve the earning power of men polyandry isn’t permissible, but the basis of Islam is submitting to God’s will and that the wisdom of God’s rules will not always be apparent to us.

  85. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 25, 2007 at 2:17 AM

    Now..now people.
    You know it hate it when we start talking about what a man might desire and what a woman might desire.
    That is never really the basis for how we as Muslims think of things.
    This is especially to Molly. When we say we are Muslim we accept that we have submitted to the will of Allah. And that means we leave it up to the wisdom of Allah to proscribe the law. In Islam we believe that the religion is completed and perfected. That means that all of these issues must have already been settled. As well as the reasons given. In the case of sexual desire we see a lot of people confusing the debate with polygamy adulterty and even homosexuality.
    Sometimes Muslims in the west get caught in the natural desire argument and that even compromises their position on the homosexual nature nurture argument.
    The desire of a person whether male or female is not the issue. The point is what has Allah proscribed as the best way to have a healthy society at large. Islam is a religion for all time and all places. Not a history/ future or East /West argument. The best answer for the world is the middle ground as we discussed earlier.
    That middle ground is called islam.
    The healthiest relationship is where a woman is with one man. That is the best situation for her as the way she was created. For her to be with one man. From a social point of view. As well as the nature of the woman to be cared for and protected. To have someone wit her, a companion. That is her nature. It has nothing to do with her intelligence or ability to function in society, or even her sexual desires.
    A man may lust after many women or even other men and islam does not alloy him to follow his desires. Nor are the desires of a woman to be used for a determination.
    When it comes to men, that need to have one single solitary partner is not there. It is not an emotional need, for security with men. We have a hard time here in the west just adjusting to gender roles. There is a big backlash as we have changed the nature of our society. Women only started going to work because of the last war and the amount of sacrifice by the men while fighting. That affected our culture in the US.
    Now women are finding more and more ways to stay home, with different forms of leave to raise their kids…
    anyway I am rambling…
    my point is that we dont follow the islamic system because it is compatible with our animalistic sexual desires, but because this is the way Allah has told us, as the most healthy for society.
    Long explanation with little substance…apologies. It is late.
    Peace. Salam

  86. Avatar

    AnonMuslim

    October 25, 2007 at 2:18 AM

    One last response and then I’ll stop:

    “And to balance out Sati, there are honor killings throughout the Middle East – in fact, one happened right here in California during the 80s.”

    I just want to reiterate what has been stated before and that Sati is a religious practice. Honor killings are a purely cultural practice that has no place whatsoever in Islam. It was never practiced by the Prophet PBUH or his companions and there is not any evidence condoning this act.

    Honor killings are the work of ignorant, uneducated, cruel men who would be carrying out their “honor killings” regardless of whether they were Muslim.

    Any mistreatment that Muslim women face is due to cultural influences that have been mistakenly thought to be associated with Islam.

    One only has to look at the Prophet PBUH and his marriages where he treated his wives with love, dignity and respect.

    What is disappointing is when a Muslim’s imperfection is associated with Islam. The media always gets a kick out of using the isolated actions of a few misguided Muslims and then painting the entire faith of Islam with it.

    Isn’t it strange how this standard never seems to other faiths?

  87. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 25, 2007 at 7:23 AM

    sorry guys I was using FGC and FGM interchangeably my mistake if you guys can edit that in my comment that would be great just change FGM to FGC.

  88. Avatar

    Amir

    October 25, 2007 at 8:35 AM

    The solution isn’t necessarily to legalise polygamy/polygyny but may also be to simply ‘privatise’ marriage.

    The marriage contract could then be treated like any other private contract between consenting adults. i.e. they have absolute freedom to contract with whoever and with how many parties as they wish, with whatever terms they agree, and the contract would be as legally enforceable as any other.

  89. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 25, 2007 at 11:12 AM

    “Also, what happens if a woman has multiple husbands and she is having her period and whatnot?”

    Positively antidiluvian! She probably never wants it more – sorry to be crude.

    female circumcision, however liimited, accomplishes nothing for health or any other purpose except curbing female sexuality.

    I realize that the entire Muslim world can’t be held responsible for the actions of some – but you must face this: the offenders are not a small minority. Governments that permit stoning, that hold girls to be adults as young as 13, that say a woman’s testimony is worth only half of a man’s – try Pakistan, for instance – they are not just a few. Of course it is probable that most Muslims are in the West for the purpose of getting away from such things, but some of those ‘things’ have followed them abroad.

    There are also problems in Europe and Australia. In Australia a Muslim leader said than men aren’t responsible for rape, that if ‘meat’ is left uncovered and the cat gets it, it isn’t the cat’s fault! And Europe is having to pass laws against forced marriages, fgm, and other barbarities that they haven’t had to deal with for decades or centuries. And they’ve had to take seriously the complaints of girls who have said that their families were going to kill them – because it happens now. And again, the religious leaders in those countries say that it is the women’s fault, and warn European women against dressing in a way to incite rape.

    Do I need to mention that these developments are frightening to Westerners? Perhaps Muslims should be distancing themselves from the impression of female oppression, rather than trying to introduce polgyny into Western nations in which women have long been accustomed to equality.

  90. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 25, 2007 at 11:20 AM

    “Perhaps Muslims should be distancing themselves from the impression of female oppression”

    Muslims in the West have been constantly repeating themselves on this issue as well as that of terrorism – but if the media ignores us just as constantly, are we to blame?

    “rather than trying to introduce polgyny into Western nations in which women have long been accustomed to equality.”

    Again: Nobody here is trying to introduce polygyny into Western nations. This post was initiated because I read what was going on in Bountiful, B.C. and wondered what the reaction would be should polygamy be legalized in Canada.

  91. Amad

    Amad

    October 25, 2007 at 12:45 PM

    I like Amir’s idea of “privatization”, which I imagine is consistent with the libertarian thought on this?

    However, I wonder how you would manage it in terms of for example, healthcare for spouses, and the myriad of other private and public benefits that come with “official marriage”? The recognition to function as a couple has to have some sort of official sanction, no?

  92. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 25, 2007 at 12:56 PM

    In Canada we have something called “common law marriage” which, as far as I know, isn’t actually marriage (not recognized in any special service or ceremony) but basically means that when two people live together for a long enough period of time they eventually gain legal status as a couple… that’s what I can remember off the top of my head; if I’m wrong, please do correct me.

  93. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 25, 2007 at 1:05 PM

    “…….to function as a couple………” Wouldn’t that be as a triple or quantuple, etc.?

    In Canada, isn’t everyone entitled to health benefits quite apart from marital status?

    How would you handle inheritance? In California, a spouse is entitled to one-third of the estate (at least). But four thirds seems out of the question, and leaves nothing for the apparent ideal multitude of children. I must say that leaving one’s children nothing does seem to fit into the Western scheme of things these days. Also, in the west, there is a tradition of community property – that means that half of all of a couple’s assets belong to each spouse, regardless of their origin (except those that predated the marriage) – so would these be divided four ways? But if you followed the Utah model, only ONE wife (the first) would be wed in the law – so the others would be legal outsiders, possibly with no claim on the inheritance. Complicated…………………

    And here’s a question. What do you tell a man who is unable to find a wife because all the wealthy men (since Islamic rules do say the man must be able to support all his wives) have monopolized the available stock? Of course that is VERY hypothetical. I am sure there are lots of men dreaming of polygyny – perhaps hundreds to every woman who would consent to it.

  94. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 25, 2007 at 1:48 PM

    See, Mollyfurie, those are all the sorts of things that come to mind when we think of what legalizing polygamy would mean – and why it’s probably not going to happen. The cost of drastically changing existing laws would be too much for the government (who don’t seem to have a problem wasting it on other things… grrrr!).

    I think that the major question is: would the benefits of having second/ third/ fourth wives/spouses legally recognized and protected for in the eyes of the State be worth legalizing polygamy?

  95. Avatar

    Saleem Siddiqui

    October 25, 2007 at 3:24 PM

    Amir point is the legally correct way in the west.
    You can have civil unions in certain states. This can be done with any form of partner you chose. The freedom to contract is always there. The issue only comes up when dealing with people who have the states make their decision. If you have legal help and plan for all contingencies , then you can define everyones role and legal standing in contract. There can be no way to prevent it. Anyone can contract with anyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

    There are not a lot of Muslim Lawyers, nor are they thinking on this line so the documents are still being developed. The same can be said after divorce or prenuptial agreements. You can create the contract to be Islamic in the very start. Yet, it would still be legal and binding in courts of law here in the US.
    This is America. You dont need to explain yourself to anyone, or provide reasons for why you and another consenting adult are intimate!

  96. Avatar

    Salik

    October 25, 2007 at 4:08 PM

    “Indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts.” (22:46)

  97. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 25, 2007 at 11:13 PM

    Hypothetically, if polygamy is privatized what would be the case if problems were to occur, everything that is privatized eventually has the government step in, which is not a problem but it will get to the point where it becomes more public than private. If that sounds confusing to you as it does to me, and I was the one that typed it, let me know so I can explain a little better, or if someone wants to give it a shot go for it.:)

  98. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 26, 2007 at 12:13 AM

    Just curious again – and btw, I don’t think Islam is worse than other religions (which I abhor universally) if you wanted to take a second wife and your first wife objected – tho’ she wished to remain in the marriage – what would your response be? I am going here on the convention that a man can divorde a woman merely by pronouncing the sentiment 3 times. And what would you do if, for any reason, your wive – or one of them – wished a divorce and you did not? What rights has she?

  99. Avatar

    Amir

    October 26, 2007 at 1:49 AM

    Moiez, not necessarily. Contracts often have dispute resolution mechanisms in them and, even so, the state could interfere in as much it was enforcing adherence to that contract.

  100. Avatar

    AnonMuslim

    October 26, 2007 at 4:06 AM

    “I am going here on the convention that a man can divorce a woman merely by pronouncing the sentiment 3 times. And what would you do if, for any reason, your wive – or one of them – wished a divorce and you did not? What rights has she?”

    A woman can initiate a divorce from her husband if she wishes. I’m not sure of the exact procedure but it can be easily searched.

    Besides, female initiated divorces are nothing new and happened during the times of the Prophet PBUH:

    “An instance was reported at the time of the Prophet when a woman came to him saying that although her husband was a good man and she had no complaint against his treatment, she disliked him greatly and could not live with him. The Prophet directed that she should return to the husband a garden which he had given to her as her dowry, as the condition of her divorce.”

    “What do you tell a man who is unable to find a wife because all the wealthy men (since Islamic rules do say the man must be able to support all his wives) have monopolized the available stock?”

    This is an unrealistic situation that will never occur. How many men are wealthy enough to support 4 wives? How many women want to enter into a marriage and become a second/third/fourth wife, remembering that both men and women have the right to refuse to enter into any marriage contract.

    Although there are some women who are content with being a second wife I’d say the majority would not want to be in the situation which is their right.

    Just because marrying multiple wives is an option doesn’t mean people are going to flock toward it.

    Polygyny was practiced more commonly during the Prophet PBUH yet there wasn’t a shortage of “stock.”

  101. Avatar

    Amir

    October 26, 2007 at 4:33 AM

    However, I wonder how you would manage it in terms of for example, healthcare for spouses, and the myriad of other private and public benefits that come with “official marriage”? The recognition to function as a couple has to have some sort of official sanction, no?

    The ‘benefits’ that married couples get from private organisations are typically not the result of legislation but for other reasons. For example, marketing reasons or because married couples may be less risky. I have no doubt that if people were allowed to contract all forms of civil unions, that these companies would likewise offer benefits to people in these sorts of contracts because it would make good business sense to do so.

    Already, some companies and organisations offer discounts or deal favourably with defacto or common-law relationships so this would not be too different.

    Of course, privatised marriage contracts that allow polygany and the settling of divorces according to Islamic law has a side-effect that some might not like: that if a man can marry two, three or four women, a woman can also marry two men; or, for that matter, a man can marry another man or two men or two men and a woman; etc

  102. Amad

    Amad

    October 26, 2007 at 9:07 AM

    I think for a company to provide medical coverage for multiple spouses would be a financial drain and I think there’ll be significant resistance to it, ESP. since medical costs are becoming a huge burden these days. I do feel that medical expenses in America is a big discouragement for multiple partners, even if you could privately contract it.

    Polygamy is a dead-end zone… it isn’t going to happen. Starting from the fact that most Western Muslim women will never accept it, and ending with the fact that Western society is very hostile to this concept. I think incest will be accepted before polygamy does… sad and disgusting reality… but weren’t people equally disgusted by the concept of homosexuality 20-30 odd years ago?

  103. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 26, 2007 at 11:16 AM

    Incest will not be legalized and in fact, may be more strongly legislated AGAINST, due to the astronomical rate of birth defects now being seen in Utah among the FLDS. The care of fumarase deficiency children is too expensive for most people to deal with – so – and especially among the FLDS, where all the women are on welfare (FLDS men don’t have to prove they can support a multitude of wives in order to have them) the State will have to put up the money – and taxpayers are quite likely to revolt at subsidizing reckless breeding.

    Work-related health insurance plans wouldn’t cotton to polygamy, because of the doubled risks per insured male worker, but a national health plan would cover anyone regardless of marital status, etc.

  104. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 26, 2007 at 1:36 PM

    “I am going here on the convention that a man can divorde a woman merely by pronouncing the sentiment 3 times.”

    That’s actually a misconception – he only has to say it once, whereby she is divorced and enters what is called the “Iddah” (waiting period). If they agree to get together again before the Iddah is over, then it counts as one non-final divorce. This may occur one more time, but the third time is considered final (i.e. he can’t take her back, she has to be married to someone else and consummate that marriage, after which if the second marriage is terminated she and her first ex-husband may get married once more).

  105. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 26, 2007 at 2:48 PM

    some interesting views of divorce as it pertains to Islam:

    “Egyptian Women See Divorce as Religious Right

    CAIRO (WOMENSENEWS)–As Egyptian women push to eliminate gender bias in divorce laws here, they find themselves entering a struggle over competing visions of Islam.

    “We always use Islam now,” says Iman Bibars, director of the Cairo-based Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, which has long struggled to amend Egypt’s divorce laws.

    To make their case, many advocates are advancing a vision of Islam in which men and women enjoy equal rights in all matters, including divorce.

    “Men control the subject in a backwards way,” contends Dr. Zeinab Abdel Meguid Radwan, a member of the National Council for Women and a scholar of Islamic philosophy. “This is why there is a big difference between true Islamic Sharia, and what happens in reality.” Sharia is the Islam-derived legal code whose meaning and interpretation vary according to different theological schools. Egypt’s constitution states that Islamic Sharia is the principle source for legislation.

    Radwan says the Islamic Sharia reflected in divorce law resulted from men picking those aspects of Sharia that fit their world view.

    Under Egyptian law, men have an absolute and unilateral right to divorce. Women, by contrast, must turn to the courts, where they must provide exacting proof of abuse. The decision is left to Egypt’s male-dominated judiciary and decisions can be appealed by husbands wishing to prolong the process.

    With approximately 8,000 judges and 14 million pending cases in Egypt, a divorce settlement can take years. While the case slogs through the legal system the woman is left in legal limbo, her husband oftentimes no longer supporting her, and unable to remarry until the case is decided.”

    http://www.religiousconsultation.org/News_Tracker/Egyptian_women_see_divorce_as_religious_right.htm

    And here is a very odd case – from GERMANY!

    ” Thursday, March 22, 2007
    German Judge Says Woman Can’t Get Divorce, Men Have Right To Beat Their Women

    The case seems simply too strange to be true. A 26-year-old mother of two wanted to free herself from what had become a miserable and abusive marriage. The police had even been called to their apartment to separate the two—both of Moroccan origin—after her husband got violent in May 2006. The husband was forced to move out, but the terror continued: Even after they separated, the spurned husband threatened to kill his wife.

    A quick divorce seemed to be the only solution—the 26-year-old was unwilling to wait the year between separation and divorce mandated by German law. She hoped that as soon as they were no longer married, her husband would leave her alone. Her lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk agreed and she filed for immediate divorce with a Frankfurt court last October. They both felt that the domestic violence and death threats easily fulfilled the “hardship” criteria necessary for such an accelerated split.

    In January, though, a letter arrived from the judge adjudicating the case. The judge rejected the application for a speedy divorce by referring to a passage in the Koran that some have controversially interpreted to mean that a husband can beat his wife. It’s a supposed right which is the subject of intense debate among Muslim scholars and clerics alike.”The exercise of the right to castigate does not fulfill the hardship criteria as defined by Paragraph 1565 (of German federal law),” the daily Frankfurter Rundschau quoted the judge’s letter as saying. It must be taken into account, the judge argued, that both man and wife have Moroccan backgrounds.”

  106. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 26, 2007 at 3:37 PM

    Divorce is something allowed to both men and women in Islam… and physical abuse is something forbidden in Islam. The German judge was way weird.

  107. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 26, 2007 at 6:59 PM

    Yeah, that judge is a nutter. But how many countries that, like Egypt, consider themselves Islamic nations adhering to Shariah law, grant women equal rights in the matter of divorce? Technically, women are equal in Buddhism, too, but it doesn’t work out that way in practice. Or in Christianity much of the time also.

  108. Amad

    Amad

    October 26, 2007 at 7:14 PM

    I am sorry Molly, but we don’t represent Egypt, Saudi, Pakistan or any other country. We represent simply, everyday Muslims. If you want to ask us about Islam and Muslim, we can tell you. But if you want to ask us why this or that country does it the “wrong” way, we won’t be able to help you much there.

    Unfortunately this discussion is going down to familiar quarters… starting with throwing out all the crimes that Muslims do against women (as if this has something to do with the religion), about the “shariah” bogeyman, and so on…

    So, let me ask you a different question Molly. What do you know about Islamic fundamentals? About our basic beliefs? About God, the Prophets, angels, etc.?

  109. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 26, 2007 at 9:10 PM

    Actually I have read some sizable ‘chunks’ of the Quran (not particularly impressed, by the way), but fairly early in my life, I read the Old Testament, and the New Testament, and I came to the conclusion that neither of them represented anything like the TRUTH – the Truth worthy of the creator of the universe.. I also read some Hindu texts (much more impressive in terms of time and space, btw), and was entranced by Buddhism for a few years. The fact is that none of us know god, and I don’t believe godis knowable by the human race in its present form One of the ways that this is made obvious, is by the actions of Christian nations, Muslim nations, and the Jewish nation. Also the Hindo nation and the Buddhist nations. Secular nations come closes to creating a decent society – and by their fruits ye shall know them, right?

    Here is a god big enough to create an infinite universe, with uncounted numbers of galaxies, filled each with billions of stars and star systems, who yet chooses some pitiful tribes on an unimpressive planet circling a lesser, outer star in an unimpressive galaxy to be his/her ‘chosen’ people and to give them a ‘truth’ they can actually comprehend! This is mythology – no not even that, because mythology is beautiful and contains at least some psychological truth. It is superstition. Those who began these religions were not the brave or the wise – who rule directly or influence directly – but the crafty, who found a way of controlling others through fear of a god and a hell they cannot even see or prove. And while they were at it, they crafted a system by which women were owned and controlled by men – and bought, sold and traded.

    I haven’t the slightest fear that any of these things are true.

  110. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 26, 2007 at 9:11 PM

    P.S. I don’t believe in Santa, either.

  111. Amad

    Amad

    October 26, 2007 at 9:18 PM

    In other words you don’t know much about Islam. Sizeable chunks of Quran without background may not be that helpful sometimes.

    Do you understand Islamic monotheism and its difference from all other faiths, sects and cults?

  112. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 26, 2007 at 9:37 PM

    Yes – but Judaism is also monotheistic and even Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as the People of the Book, no?

    But are you familiar with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch? I don’t really concern myself much with god and his rules – all the world’s religions date back to more primitive times and reflect those values and science. I am much more interested in the treatment humans receive at the hands of their governments. I can’t really judge every Muslim by the actions of those governments which call themselves Islamic, but it is hard to ignore the fact that all of those countires have appalling human rights records – as does Israel, to be fair, and every Christian theocracy in history as far as I can tell.

    Really, the old guy in the sky doesn’t interst me in the least.

  113. Amad

    Amad

    October 26, 2007 at 10:18 PM

    The monotheism of Muslims is very different from any other religion or sect. I am sorry but since you are on a Muslim blog, we are concerned about God Almighty :) And I will say that a good Muslim will be a natural humanist. But in order to understand what drives Muslims and what attracts so many converts to it, despite all the negativity and misconceptions about the religion, you have to understand Tawheed (Islamic monotheism). So, if you will allow, I and other Muslim readers can share some basics of what Tawheed means, for the benefit of all our readers.

    You mentioned all the “bad” things going in the Muslim countries, and Israel. If you talk to people over there, their image of Americans isn’t the most stellar either. There is a reason for this… usually the news that makes it across the wires is what is sensationalist. Usually sensationalist news is bad. So, when the lady in Texas drowned her 5 kids in the bath-tub, you can bet that news made it yonder. How many people do you think now believe (in the East) that this is a common event in America? You can bet a lot. Similarly, the few horrible events of “honor” killings, beatings, etc. from that side become screaming headlines over here. And the stereotypes hence are reinforced about Eastern society similar to the stereotypes prevalent about Western societies in the East. I was raised in the Middle East… my family is still in Pakistan and there weren’t many more outrageous events over there than over here. My mom and almost all other “aunts” were treated just fine. In fact, Pakistani women usually ran the show in many households, and I kid you not. I personally can’t think of anyone who treated his wife much worse than regular folks here.

    Furthermore, if you consider the stats of sexual harassments, wife-beatings, and the other “bad” stuff here, there is a chance it may be worse here. So, as fair-minded individuals, we need to temper our perceptions with the reality of how news travel.

    Ok, now back to Tawheed, should we?

  114. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 27, 2007 at 3:17 AM

    You are right Amad. This so-called ‘Christian nation’ (the US) has some very very dark aspects – the most prominent of them being our behavior in the Middle East. And those things – the support of Israel in the persecution of the Palestinians, the unprovoked and brutal invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the perhaps unavoidable war on Iran – are of far greater consequence than even the unfortunate occurrences of honor killings. If I were an Iraqi, I would no doubt have joined the resistance by now. What else can a freedom loving person do?

    Personally, I am deeply ashamed of the part America has played since before the first Gulf War. And I am horrified that it is being done in the name of Christ – for while I am not a Christian, I believe that such murderous acts should not be done in he name of a person who mostly preached for peace.

    Nothing will make me believe in religion, but I do think there have been good men and women throughout history who have worked for peace, love, and harmony among people and among nations.

    I am afraid that it is more convenient for people to worship those ‘prophets’ than to live what they taught.

  115. Avatar

    Salik

    October 27, 2007 at 10:10 AM

    “I believe that such murderous acts should not be done in the name of a person who mostly preached for peace.”

    ….so whats the difference between this and people doing heinous acts which are not part of our religion in the name of Islam? or the Prophet? sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

    No offense, but if I find a lot of what you’re saying to be really rude and arrogant.
    “not impressed by it [the Qur’an]”, sorry but reading it english doesn’t even come close to arabic. It was reaveled in arabic, and its miraculous nature is arabic. Anything other than arabic is only a mere attempt–an attempt- to capture it’s beauty, so until you learn arabic your critcism really has no basis.

    “Really, the old guy in the sky doesn’t interst me in the least.” Learn about tawheed.

    You’re going to find bad people in all religions and it’s really not fair for you to use evidence from isolated cases, which in fact have nothing to do with Islam but their culture against the muslims. Seems kinda backwards, don’t you think?

    Good luck mollyfurie.

    wAllahu yahdee mayn yashaa’u ilaa siratil mustaqeem, subhanAllah.

  116. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 27, 2007 at 12:52 PM

    I’m sorry, Ibelieve you misunderstood me.I don’t believe that Christianity is particularly superior to Islam, or Judaism, or Rastafarianism – or vice versa. The world’s religions were begun by well-meaning people, it seems, but in the end they have ALL been used to oppress and murder and excuse heinous acts. I am not a Christian, nor much of a defender of it. And I think orgainzed religion is the curse of humanity.

    All the world’s religions have a BOOK – a Holy Book, usually written or dictated by God. We know it was written (or dictated or inspired) by God, because it SAYS SO…………….in the book. (And they are all beautiful books too. Really bad prose doesn’t survive 10 or 20 centuries, y’know?)

    But all of them are used for controlling others’ minds and behavior – and not always for good. In fact more wars have probably been waged in the name of god than any other cause. Which is too bad, because religion is the one cause for war that is NEVER legitimate. Oh alright, conquest is not legitimate either, nor empire building. But as you can see, The President of the US is still deluded into thinking that his imaginary friend in the sky told him to ‘smite’ Saddam Hussein, and that is why we are now in a war which promises no gain, no end, no peace and no honor.

  117. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 27, 2007 at 2:47 PM

    Regarding the earlier question, which I dont think was answered, was if a woman already in a marriage didnt want a second wife, what would be the response of the man, A man cannot have a second wife without the consent of the first. If the first wife does not wish to share a marriage than the man cannot marry the second woman. This I believe comes from Abraham(AS) and his talk with his wife who could not have any children and she ALLOWED him to marry the other women, had she said no Abraham(AS) could not marry the other woman.

  118. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 27, 2007 at 2:57 PM

    “A man cannot have a second wife without the consent of the first.”
    Erm, this is actually incorrect… in the Shari’ah, the man does not *need* the permission of his first wife, although it’s considered basic decency/ common sense to tell the first wife about it, listen to what she has to say, give her the option for divorce, etc.

  119. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 27, 2007 at 3:03 PM

    Mollyfurie, I have to say that your reasons for rejecting religion are the same as that of many atheists, and one which I view as fundamentally flawed:

    You say that religion is the cause of so much evil, that the Holy Books have been and are used to manipulate and control people… yet the fact is that religion is not THE ONLY cause of evil, that the Holy Books are not THE ONLY things used to control and manipulate people.

    Just because something has been twisted to evil ends, does not make IT, in and of itself, evil.
    The truth will remain the truth, eternal and everlasting, regardless of who tries to twist it or reject it. The most courageous are those who will not fear it because of it’s potential for evil, but because of the universal truth within it.

    You could say the same for science (see iMuslim’s latest post). Technological discoveries have been made by those who had good intentions, yet they can be used for evil purposes.
    Will you say, then, that because of that you’ll have nothing to do with science? That you’ll despise it simply because of what it has (sometimes) been used for?

    You say you believe in God’s existence. Awesome. That’s one step forward.
    Now, may I ask why you don’t believe in God as we (meaning, Muslims) believe in Him?
    Is it that 1) you don’t know how we believe in Him, or 2) that you don’t think God bothered letting us, His creation, know about Him so that we can worship Him properly?

  120. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 27, 2007 at 3:03 PM

    “in the Shari’ah, the man does not *need* the permission of his first wife”………………..
    and this is ‘equality?’ It is similar to the ‘equality’ granted women by all religions, I see.
    Well I’d have nothing to say, unless you consider the sound of a pistol being cocked a language…………… ‘-p

  121. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    October 27, 2007 at 3:09 PM

    In Islam, our concept of equality between the genders is not the same as the Western concept.
    Here’s an awesome vid. by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi (one of our writers on MM) on the subject, which explains it.

    You could summarize it by saying, “Equality without sameness.”

  122. Amad

    Amad

    October 27, 2007 at 3:28 PM

    The argument that religion has been the cause for much evil and specifically for a lot of killings is completely bogus and not historically proven either. If you look at even the last century, more people died because of ethnic or land-based conflict than religion. Think of the Rwandan massacre… ethnic based. Think of Stalin… and for the most part Hitler… again, not religiously motivated. And if you review historical data, there have been many occasions where religion has been used as a battle-cry ONLY to motivate, but usually far from being the main underlying cause.

    So, again, though this argument is oft-repeated, it is rarely backed (because it can’t) by historical facts.

  123. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 27, 2007 at 3:37 PM

    Mouse: Can you give me a reference to that because Im not sure I agree with the no need of consent, I only said that because I heard it from a scholar and it makes sense to me and of course I could have misunderstood. Jazaks!

  124. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 27, 2007 at 3:55 PM

    Think of the witch-burnings of the Renaissance and late Middle Ages. Estimates run from 50,000 (mostly women) to millions over three centuries. Some towns in Germany were left with only one or two women after the priestly witch-hunters were through. Only religion could have caused such a slaughter. hmmmmm Think of the Crusades. Just before the Conquistadores came to Mexico, an estimated 45,000 people were sacrificed to the gods on one of the great pyramids of Mexico. Meanwhile, the Conquistadores murdered hundreds of thousands, no doubt, in the name of somebody they called “the Prince of Peace.” And how many women have been burned alive in the ritual Sati?

    Someone said, “Men never do Evil so cheerfully as when they do it in the name of god”

  125. Amad

    Amad

    October 27, 2007 at 5:24 PM

    50,000 to possibly millions over 3 centuries?

    How about Stalin with 20 million, the Rwandans at 1 million and Hitler’s Germany about 6 million?

    Right there, in JUST the last century, I have given you 27 million reasons that non-religion based killings exceed probably all killed on religious basis in the last 20 centuries.

    I am not saying that a perverted sense of religious duty hasn’t led to some unjustified killings, but statistically you’ll have to be a fool to believe that it is worse than “secular murders”.

  126. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    October 27, 2007 at 9:40 PM

    Moiez:
    http://islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=61&ln=eng&txt=second%20wife%20consent

    Scroll down to the very bottom, and it says that there’s no evidence in the Qur’an and Sunnah saying that the first wife’s permission is a must.

  127. Avatar

    Moiez

    October 28, 2007 at 12:11 AM

    hmmm, I see Im going to revisit the place I heard this from and find out what was really said from the scholar. Jazakallah Khair Mouse!

  128. Avatar

    JALEES

    October 30, 2007 at 1:46 AM

    Eating pork meat is prohibited beacuse it harbours taenia solium parasite which resides in brain,calcifies there and results in epilepsy,mental ailment,tumour and death.Secondly the moral side is that pigs have peculiar habits i.e.female pigs r very much prone to be polygamous.this finding explains the western world’s moral behaviour

  129. Avatar

    JALEES

    October 30, 2007 at 1:51 AM

    mr.Mullefurie should read the sorah albaqra which says that Quran is a guidence for the pious and pure and it will not help the ones who r away from piety and purity.He should learn how to become pious- not by seeing common muslims or maligned by propaganda but rather should dive in the sea of piety and experience himself.Old prejudices never work in education and inquisition of knowledge.

  130. Avatar

    mollyfurie

    October 30, 2007 at 4:23 AM

    Every religion is the only one true religion – it’s sometimes the only thing they have in common. I was raised in the only one true religion too, and according to twenty centuries of Roman Catholic teaching, y’all are goiong to hell, no doubt about it). But of course I now regard such teachings as bigotry. Wherever they appear.

  131. Avatar

    scene girls

    June 11, 2009 at 5:10 PM

    Hah! That really made me laugh – thanks!

  132. Avatar

    Murat Kumbasar

    June 10, 2017 at 3:15 PM

    Asalamu alaikum
    I’m Murat.
    I am 67 years old. I live in a small town Djelandy in Tajikistan
    In need of dentures, The ones I have now are worn down and broke. Eating mostly with front teeth.
    I do not smile,do not go out of my home because I am embarrassed cause of my teeth. I avoid ring around family and friends. I do not grocery shop anymore.
    Please please help me to smile again. Your generosity will be. Greatly appreciated. Owe around 1700 TJS (US$ 200 ) in past due doctor bills.
    Whom every helps can pay directly to the dentist. Allah bless you all thank you for taking time to read this .
    If I was wrong. Tell me who will ask for help.
    I will be grateful for any of your help.

    Sorry for my bad english.

    My PayPal muratkumbasar95@gmail.com

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Challenges of Identity & Conviction: The Need to Construct an Islamic Worldview

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islamic online high school

He squirmed in his seat as his Middle East history professor–yet again–made a subtle jab about Islam, this time about the jizyah.  This professor claimed to be pro-Arab and pro-Islam and was part of a university department that touted itself for presenting history and narratives that are typically left out of the West’s Eurocentric social studies sequence. Still, she would subjectively only present an Orientalist interpretation of Islam. Ahmad* sighed. He felt bad just thinking about what all his classmates at this esteemed university thought about Islam and Muslims. He was also worried about fellow Muslims in his class who had not grown up in a practicing household-what if they believed her? He hated how she was using her position as the “sage” in the room to present her bias as absolute truth. As for himself, he knew deep down in his bones that what his professor was alleging just could not be true. His fitrah was protesting her coy smile as she knowingly agitated the few Muslims in her class of one-hundred-fifty.  Yet, Ahmad had never studied such topics growing up and felt all his years of secondary education left him ill-equipped as a freshman in college.  He tried to search for answers to her false accusations after class and approached her later during office hours, but she just laughed him off as a backward, orthodox Muslim who had obviously been brainwashed into believing the “fairy tale version” of Islam. 

***

Asiyah* graduated as class valedictorian of her Islamic school. She loved Biology and Physics and planned to major in Engineering at a top-notch program. While both family, friends, and peers were proud of her (some maybe even wishing they were in her shoes), they had no idea of the bitter inner struggle that was eating away at her, tearing her up from the inside out. Her crisis of faith shook her to the core and her parents were at their wits’ end. While she prayed all her prayers and even properly donned her hijab, deep down she felt……..sort of….……atheist.  Physics was her life–her complete being. She loved how the numbers just added up and everything could be empirically proven. But this led to her greatest anguish: how could certain miraculous events during the time of the Blessed Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) have occurred? How could she believe in events that were physically and scientifically impossible?  She felt like an empty body performing the rituals of Islam.

*names changed

***

An Unwelcome Surprise

Islam is a way of life. Its principles operate in every avenue of one’s life. However, English, History, Science and Mathematics are often taught as if they are beyond the scope of Islam. It is commonly assumed that moral teaching happens, or should happen, only in the Islamic Studies class. Yet, if we compare what is being taught in the Islamic Studies class with what is being taught consciously or unconsciously in other classes, an unwelcome surprise awaits us. Examining typical reading material in English classes, for example, reveals that too much of the material is actually going against Islamic norms and principles. Some of the most prominent problems with traditional English literature (which directly clash with Islamic moral and ethical principles) include: the mockery of God and religion, the promotion of rebellion against parents and traditional family values, the normalization of immoral conduct such as lying and rude behavior, and the condoning of inappropriate cross-gender interactions. Additionally, positive references about Islamic culture are either nonexistent or rare. Toxic themes of secularism, atheism, materialism, liberalism, and agnosticism are constantly bombarding our young Muslim students, thus shaping the way in which they view and interact with the world.

Corrective Lens: The Worldview of Islam

We need our children to develop an Islamic worldview, one that provides a framework for Muslims to understand their world from the perspective of the Qur’an.  It is impossible for the Islamic Studies classes alone to successfully teach Islamic behavior and nurture moral commitment unless the other classes also reflect the Islamic worldview- an outlook that emphasizes the idea that all our actions should be focused on pleasing Allah and doing good for ourselves and others. Therefore, the majority of what is taught in all academic disciplines should be based on Islamic values, aiming to improve the life of the student by promoting sublime ethical conduct. The unfortunate reality is quite the opposite: a typical child in a school in the West spends a minimum of 576 periods (16 periods of core classes/week * 4 weeks/month * 9 months) of classroom instruction annually on academic subjects that are devoid of Islam and contain minimal teaching of morality that aligns with Islamic principles. How much Islam a child learns depends on whether their parents choose Sunday school, Islamic schools, and/or other forms of supplementation to provide religious knowledge. However, rarely does that supplemental instruction undo the thousands of hours of the atheistic worldview that children soak in by the time they finish high school through the study of secular subjects. By not having an Islamic worldview and not having Muslims’ heritage and contributions to humanity infused into the teaching of academic subjects, we witness the problems experienced by the likes of Ahmad* and Asiyah*–problems that plague modern Muslim youth.

Identifying the Unlikely Suspect

This realization is perhaps the missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to our bewilderment: how are large swaths of youth from some of the kindest, sweetest, practicing Muslim families going astray and getting confused? When we shepherd our flock and find one or more of our “sheep” lost and off the beaten path, we think of the likely suspects, which include negative influences from peers, family, movies, social media, etc. We may even blame the lack of inspiring role models. We are less likely to suspect that the very literature that our children are consuming day in and day out through our well-intentioned efforts to make them “educated” and “sophisticated” could cause them to question Islam or fall into moral abyss.

Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of the people of his house and he is responsible. A woman is the shepherd of the house of her husband and she is responsible. Each of you is a shepherd and each is responsible for his flock.”

Islamic Infusion in Academic Study as a Solution

There have been efforts across the globe to infuse Islam into academic study of worldly subjects. Universities such as the International Islamic University of Malaysia(IIUM), which has a dedicated “Centre for Islamisation (CENTRIS),” is an example. At the secondary school level, most brick and mortar Islamic schools do offer Arabic, Qur’an, and Islamic studies; however, few Muslim teachers are trained in how to teach core academic subjects using principles of Islamic pedagogy.

How exactly can educators infuse an Islamic perspective into their teaching? And how can Muslim children have access to high quality education from the worldview of Islam, taught by talented and dynamic educators?

Infusing Islam & Muslim Heritage in Core Academic Subjects, According to the Experts:

  • Dr. Nadeem Memon, professor of Islamic pedagogy, states that for a pedagogy to be Islamic, it should not contradict the aims, objectives and ethics contained in revelation (Qur’an) and should closely reflect an Islamic ethos that is based on revelation, the sunnah of the Prophet(pbuh), and the intellectual and spiritual heritage of his followers. It should also effectively develop the student’s intelligence (`aql), faith (iman), morality and character (khuluq), knowledge and practice of personal religious obligations (fard ain) and knowledge, skills and physical abilities warranted by worldly responsibilities and duties (Ajem, Ramzy and Nadeem Memon, “Prophetic Pedagogy: Teaching ‘Islamically’ in our Classrooms”)
  • Dr. Susan Douglass, expert in Social Studies, promotes a panoramic study of the world by global eras–emphasizing the interdependence of nations–rather than an isolationist civilizations approach (which in Western societies focuses only on Western civilization). Such study includes Islamic history and Muslims’ contributions to humanity throughout the ages.
  • Dr. Freda Shamma, pioneer in promoting culturally inclusive and ethical literature, emphasizes that English classes should carefully select literature aligned with Islamic moral values and include works by both Western authors and those from other cultures, i.e. literature that 1-features Muslim main characters and 2- is authored by Muslims.
  • Dr. Nur Jannah Hassan at CENTRIS, stresses that Science classes should be designed to awaken the student’s mind, to inspire a complete awe of and servitude towards the Creator and Sustainer, to instill the purpose of creation, vicegerency and stewardship of the earth and its inhabitants, to enable students to decipher God’s Signs in nature and in the self, to infuse responsibility in sustaining balance and accountability, and should include Muslims’ legacy in the field.
  • Dr. Reema alNizami, specialist in Math Education, advocates that Math classes should instill creative thinking, systematic problem solving and an appreciation of balance; include a survey of Muslims’ contributions to the field; and utilize word problems that encourage charitable and ethical financial practices.

Technology Enables Access to Islamically Infused Schooling for grades 6-12

Technology has now enabled this Islamic infusion for middle schools and secondary schools to become a reality on a global scale, alhamdulillah. Legacy International Online High School, a college preparatory, online Islamic school serving grades 6-12, whose mission is “Cultivating Compassionate Global Leaders”, offers all academic subjects from the Islamic worldview. Pioneered by leading Muslim educators from around the globe with background in Islamic pedagogy and digital learning, Legacy is the first of its kind online platform that is accessible to:

  • homeschooling families seeking full-time, rigorous, Islamically infused classes
  • Public school families looking for a part-time Islamic studies or Arabic sequence
  • Islamic schools, evening programs, and Sunday schools that are short-staffed and would like to outsource certain courses from the Islamic worldview
  • Schools and entities needing training/workshops to empower Muslim educators on how to teach from the Islamic worldview

Alhamdulillah, Legacy IOHS is an accessible resource for families with children in grades 6-8 who are seeking curriculum and instruction that is Islamically infused.

Strengthening Faith & Identity in College and Beyond

For those seeking supplementary resources to address the most prevalent hot topic issues plaguing young Muslims of our times, Yaqeen Institute, whose initial publications were more targeted towards a university audience, is now working to make its research more accessible to the general public through both its Conviction Circles initiative and its short videos featuring infographics.

Another online platform, California Islamic University, offers a comprehensive course sequence which allows college students to graduate with a second degree in Islamic studies while simultaneously completing their undergraduate studies at any accredited community college or university in the United States. Qalam and AlMaghrib Institute also offer online coursework in Islamic studies.

What We Hope to Avoid

While volunteering at his son Sulayman’s* public school with ten student participants, Ibrahim* was saddened when he met a young boy named Chris*. When Chris met Ibrahim, he piped up and eagerly told Ibrahim, “my grandparents are Muslim!” Through the course of the conversation, Ibrahim realized that he knew Chris’ grandparents, a very sweet elderly couple (and currently very practicing) who had not made the Islamic worldview a priority early on in their children’s lives. A mere two generations later, Islam is completely eliminated from their family.  *names changed

Our Resolve

Legacy IOHS recommends the following to Muslim families/educators and Islamic schools:

  1. Instill in our children a strong grasp of the foundational sciences of Islam, while preparing them with the necessary contemporary knowledge and skills
  2. Teach our children in their formative years to view the world (including their “secular” academic study) through the lens of Islam
  3. Follow this up with relevant motivational programs that assist them in understanding challenging issues of today and coach them on how to respond to the issues in their teenage years.

We pray that with the above, we will have fulfilled our duty in shepherding our flock in a comprehensive way, with utmost care. It is Allah’s help we seek in these challenging times:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ

‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Grant us Your mercy: You are the Ever Giving. [Qur’an 3:8]

 رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

‘Our Lord, give us joy in our spouses and offspring. Make us good examples to those who are aware of You’. [Qur’an 25:74]

يَا مُقَلِّبَ القُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِيْ عَلَى دِيْنِكْ

“O turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm on your religion.”

Freda Shamma has a M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Ed.D. from the University of Cincinnati in the area of Curriculum Development. A veteran educator, she has worked with educators from the United States, South Africa and all over the Muslim world to develop integrated curricula based on an Islamic worldview that meets the needs of modern Muslim youth. She serves as Curriculum Advisor for Legacy International Online High School.

An avid student of the Islamic sciences, Zaheer Arastu earned his M.Ed from The George Washington University and completed his training in Educational Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. his experience in Islamic education spans over 15 years serving as both teacher, administrator, and dean of innovation and technology. He currently serves as the Head of School for Legacy International Online High School.

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Grit and Resilience: The Self-Help vs. Islamic Perspective

Omar Usman

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grit

I don’t really care about grit.

Persevering and persisting through difficulties to achieve a higher goal is awesome. High-five. We should all develop that. No one disagrees that resilience is an essential characteristic to have.

Somehow, this simple concept has ballooned into what feels like a self-help cottage industry of sorts. It has a Ted talk with tens of millions of views, podcasts, keynote speeches, a New York Times best-selling book, and finding ways to teach this in schools and workplaces.

What I do care about is critically analyzing if it is all that it’s cracked up to be (spoiler alert: I don’t think so), why the self-help industry aggressively promotes it, and how we understand it from an Islamic perspective. For me, this is about much more than just grit – it’s about understanding character development from a (mostly Americanized) secular perspective vis-a-vis the Islamic one.

The appeal of grit in a self-help context is that it provides a magic bullet that intuitively feels correct. It provides optimism. If I can master this one thing, it will unlock what I need to be successful. When I keep running into a roadblock, I can scapegoat my reason for failure – a lack of grit.

Grit encompasses several inspirational cliches – be satisfied with being unsatisfied, or love the chase as much as the capture, or that grit is falling in love and staying in love. It is to believe anyone can succeed if they work long and hard enough. In short, it is the one-word encapsulation of the ideal of the American Dream.

Self-help literature has an underlying theme of controlling what is within your control and letting go of the rest. Islamically, in general, we agree with this sentiment. We focus our actions where we are personally accountable and put our trust in Allah for what we cannot control.

The problem with this theme, specifically with grit, is that it necessitates believing the circumstances around you cannot be changed. Therefore, you must simply accept things the way that they are. Teaching people that they can overcome any situation by merely working hard enough is not only unrealistic but utterly devoid of compassion.

“The notion that kids in poverty can overcome hunger, lack of medical care, homelessness, and trauma by buckling down and persisting was always stupid and heartless, exactly what you would expect to hear from Scrooge or the Koch brothers or Betsy DeVos.” -Diane Ravitch, Forget Grit, Focus on Inequality

Focusing on the individual characteristics of grit and perseverance shifts attention away from structural or systemic issues that impact someone’s ability to succeed. The personal characteristics can be changed while structural inequalities are seen as ‘fixed.’

Alfie Kohn, in an article critical of Grit by Angela Duckworth, notes that Duckworth and her mentor while studying grit operated under a belief that,

[U]nderachievement isn’t explained by structural factors — social, economic, or even educational. Rather, they insisted it should be attributed to the students themselves and their “failure to exercise self-discipline.” The entire conceptual edifice of grit is constructed on that individualistic premise, one that remains popular for ideological reasons even though it’s been repeatedly debunked by research.

Duckworth admitted as much in an interview with EdSurge.

There was a student who introduced himself having written a critical essay about the narrative of grit. His major point was that when we talk about grit as a kind of ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ personal strength, it leaves in the shadows structural poverty and racism and other things that make it impossible, frankly, for some kids to do what we would expect them to do. When he sent me that essay, of course, I wanted to know more. I joined his [dissertation] committee because I don’t know much about sociology, and I don’t know much about this criticism.

I learned a lot from him over the years. I think the lesson for me is that when someone criticizes you, when someone criticized me, the natural thing is to be defensive and to reflexively make more clear your case and why you’re right, but I’ve always learned more from just listening. When I have the courage to just say, “Well, maybe there’s a point here that I hadn’t thought of,” and in this case the Grit narrative and what Grit has become is something that he really brought to me and my awareness in a way that I was oblivious to before.

It is mind-boggling that the person who popularized this research and wrote the book on the topic simply didn’t know that there was such a thing as structural inequality. It is quite disappointing that her response essentially amounted to “That’s interesting. I’d like to learn more.”

Duckworth provides a caveat – “My theory doesn’t address these outside ­forces, nor does it include luck. It’s about the psychology of achievement, but because psychology isn’t all that matters, it’s incomplete.” This is a cop-out we see consistently in the self-help industry and elsewhere. They won’t deny that those problems exist, they simply say that’s not the current focus.

It is intellectually dishonest to promote something as a key to success while outright ignoring the structures needed to enable success. That is not the only thing the theory of grit ignores. While marketing it as a necessary characteristic, it overlooks traits like honesty and kindness.

The grit narrative lionizes this superhero type of individual who breaks through all obstacles no matter how much the deck is stacked against them. It provides a sense of false hope. Instead of knowing when to cut your losses and see a failure for what it is, espousing a grit mentality will make a person stubbornly pursue a failing endeavor. It reminds me of those singers who comically fail the first round of auditions on American Idol, are rightly ridiculed by the judges, and then emotionally tell the whole world they’re going to come out on top (and then never do).

Overconfidence, obstinance, and naive optimism are the result of grit without context or boundaries. It fosters denial and a lack of self-awareness – the consequences of which are felt when horrible leaders keep rising to the top due, in part, to their grit and perseverance.

The entire idea of the psychology of achievement completely ignores the notion of morality and ethics. Grit in a vacuum may be amoral, but that is not how the real world works. This speaks powerfully to the need to understand the application of these types of concepts through a lens of faith.

The individual focus, however, is precisely what makes something like grit a prime candidate to become a popular self-help item. Schools and corporations alike will want to push it because it focuses on the individual instead of the reality of circumstances. There is a real amount of cognitive dissonance when a corporation can tell employees to focus on developing grit while not addressing toxic employment practices that increase turnover and destroy employees physically and emotionally (see: Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer).

Circumstances matter more than ever. You’ve probably heard the story (of course, in a Ted Talk) about the famous marshmallow test at some point. This popularizes the self-help version of delayed gratification. A bunch of kids are given a marshmallow and told that if they can avoid eating it for 5 minutes, they’ll get a second one. The children are then shown hilariously trying to resist eating it. These kids were then studied as they grew older, and lo and behold, those who had the self-discipline to hold out for the 2nd marshmallow were far more successful in life than those who gave in.

A new study found that a child’s ability to hold out for the second marshmallow had nothing to do with the ability to delay gratification. As The Atlantic points out, it had much more to do with the child’s social and economic background. When a child comes from a well to do household, the promise of a second marshmallow will be fulfilled. Their parents always deliver. When someone grows up in poverty, they are more attuned to take the short term reward because the guarantee does not exist that the marshmallow would still be there later. The circumstances matter much more than the psychological studies can account for. It is far easier to display grit with an entrepreneurial venture, for example, when you have the safety net of wealthy and supportive parents.

Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post that grit discourse is driven by middle and upper-class parents wanting their spoiled kids to appreciate the virtues of struggling against hardship. Unfortunately, this focus on character education means that poor students suffer because less money will then be spent on teaching disadvantaged students the skills they need to be successful. Sisyphus, she notes, had plenty of grit, but it didn’t get him very far.

Strauss asks us to imagine if a toxic dump was discovered near Beverly Hills, and our response was to teach kids how to lessen the effects of toxins instead of fixing the dump.

The grit discourse does not teach that poor children deserve poverty; it teaches that poverty itself is not so bad. In fact, hardship provides the very traits required to escape hardship. This logic is as seductive as it is circular. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is seen as a virtuous enterprise whether practiced by Horatio Alger’s urchins or Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs (bootstrapping is a common term in technology finance circles). And most importantly, it creates a purported path out of poverty that does not involve any sacrifice on the part of the privileged classes. -Valerie Strauss

This approach is a way to appear noble while perpetuating the status quo. It provides the illusion of upliftment while further entrenching the very systems that prevent it. We see this enacted most commonly with modern-day Silicon Valley style of philanthropy. Anand Giridharadas has an entire book dedicated to this ‘elite charade of changing the world’ entitled Winners Take All.

The media also does its fair share to push this narrative. Stories that should horrify us are passed along as inspirational stories of perseverance. It’s like celebrating a GoFundMe campaign that helps pay for surgery to save someone’s life instead of critically analyzing why healthcare is not seen as a human right in the first place.

Islamic Perspective

Islamically, we are taught to find ways to address the individual as well as the system. Characteristics like grit and delayed gratification are not bad. They’re misapplied when the bigger picture is not taken into account. In the Islamic system, for example, a person is encouraged not to beg. At the same time, there is an encouragement for those who can give to seek out those in need. A person in debt is strongly advised to pay off their debts as quickly as possible. At the same time, the lender is encouraged to be easygoing and to forgive the debt if possible.

This provides a more realistic framework for applying these concepts. A person facing difficulty should be encouraged to be resilient and find ways to bounce back. At the same time, support structures must be established to help that person.

Beyond the framework, there is a much larger issue. Grit is oriented around success. Success is unquestionably assumed to be a personal success oriented around academic achievement, career, wealth, and status. When that is the end goal, it makes it much easier to keep the focus on the individual.

The Islamic definition of success is much broader. There is the obvious idea of success in the Hereafter, but that is separate from this discussion. Even in a worldly sense, a successful person may be the one who sacrifices attending a good school, or perhaps even a dream job type of career opportunity, to spend more time with their family. The emphasis on individual success at all costs has contributed to the breakdown of essential family and community support systems.

A misapplied sense of grit furthers this when a person thinks they don’t need anyone else, and they just need to persevere. It is part of a larger body of messaging that promotes freedom and autonomy. We celebrate people who are strong and independent. Self-help tells us we can achieve anything with the right mindset.

But what happens when we fail? What happens when we find loneliness and not fulfillment, when we lack the bonds of familial solidarity, and when money does not make us whole? Then it all falls on us. It is precisely this feeling of constriction that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), give good news to those who are steadfast, those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ These will be given blessings and mercy from their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” (2:155-157)

Resilience is a reflex. When a person faces hardship, they will fall back on the habits and values they have. It brings to mind the statement of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that patience is at the first strike. He taught us the mindset needed to have grit in the first place,

“Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him” (Muslim).

He also taught us the habits we need to ensure that we have the reflex of grit when the situation warrants it –

“Whoever would be pleased for Allah to answer him during times of hardship and difficulty, let him supplicate often during times of ease” (Tirmidhi).

The institution of the masjid as a community center provides a massive opportunity to build infrastructure to support people. Resilience, as Michael Ungar writes, is not a DIY endeavor. Communities must find ways to provide the resources a person needs to persevere. Ungar explains, “What kind of resources? The kind that get you through the inevitable crises that life throws our way. A bank of sick days. Some savings or an extended family who can take you in. Neighbours or a congregation willing to bring over a casserole, shovel your driveway or help care for your children while you are doing whatever you need to do to get through the moment. Communities with police, social workers, home-care workers, fire departments, ambulances, and food banks. Employment insurance, pension plans or financial advisers to help you through a layoff.”

Ungar summarizes the appropriate application of grit, “The science of resilience is clear: The social, political and natural environments in which we live are far more important to our health, fitness, finances and time management than our individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. When it comes to maintaining well-being and finding success, environments matter. In fact, they may matter just as much, and likely much more, than individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. A positive attitude may be required to take advantage of opportunities as you find them, but no amount of positive thinking on its own is going to help you survive a natural disaster, a bad workplace or childhood abuse. Change your world first by finding the relationships that nurture you, the opportunities to use your talents and the places where you experience community and governmental support and social justice. Once you have these, your world will help you succeed more than you could ever help yourself.”

The one major missing ingredient here is tawakkul (trust in Allah). One of the events in the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that epitomized grit, resilience, and perseverance was the Battle of Badr. At this occasion, the Companions said, “God is enough for us: He is the best protector.

“Those whose faith only increased when people said, ‘Fear your enemy: they have amassed a great army against you,’ and who replied, ‘God is enough for us: He is the best protector,’“ (3:173)

This is the same phrase that Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), while displaying the utmost level of resilience, said when he was thrown into the fire, and it was made cool.

There is a core belief in Islam about balancing between fear and hope. Scholars advise when a person feels despair, they should remind themselves of the traditions that reinforce hope in Allah’s forgiveness. When a person feels themselves sliding further and further into disobedience to Allah, then they should remind themselves of the traditions that warn against Allah’s punishment. The focus changes depending on the situation.

Grit itself is a praiseworthy characteristic

There is no doubt that it is a trait that makes people successful. The challenge comes in applying it and how we teach it. It needs a proper level of balance. Too much focus on grit as a singular predictor of success may lead to victim-blaming and false hope syndrome. Overlooking it on the other hand, enables a feeling of entitlement and a victim mentality.

One purpose of teaching grit was to help students from privileged backgrounds understand and appreciate the struggle needed to overcome difficulty. Misapplied, it can lead to overlooking systemic issues that prevent a person from succeeding even when they have grit.

Self-help literature often fails to make these types of distinctions. It fails to provide guidance for balancing adapting the advice based on circumstance. The criticisms here are not of the idea of grit, but rather the myopic way in which self-help literature promotes concepts like grit without real-world contextualization. We need to find a way to have the right proportionality of understanding individual effort, societal support, and our reliance on Allah.

Our ability to persevere, to be resilient, and to have grit, is linked directly to our relationship with Allah, and our true level of trust in Him.

To stay up to date with more articles from Omar, sign up for his email list at http://ibnabeeomar.com/newsletter

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Who Can We Trust?

Danish Qasim

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trust

Spiritual abusers are con-artists, and if they were easy to spot then they would be far less successful. That is why you must exercise vigilance and your own judgment above that of public opinion. Never let the person’s position make you trust them more than you would without it.

Spiritual abusers work covertly, present themselves well, and use their service as a cover beneath which to operate. The way to avoid them is to recognize their tactics and avoid being caught by them.

Blurring Lines

Spiritual abuse often begins with hard-to-spot precursors, with manipulators exploiting grey areas and blurring boundaries to confuse targets. For example, when setting someone up for illicit relations or secret marriage, teachers may begin with inappropriate jokes that lower boundaries.

They may touch others in ways that confuse the person touched as to permissibility, for example, men touching women on their hijabs rather than direct skin. They may inappropriately touch someone in ways that leave him/her wondering whether or not it was intentional.

There may be frivolous texting while the premise of engagement is ‘work only’. Boundaries may be blurred by adding flirtatious content, sending articles praising polygamy, or mentioning dreams about getting married. The recipient may struggle to pinpoint what’s wrong with any of this, but the bottom line is that they don’t have to.

While these tactics may be hard to prove, you don’t need to prove that you don’t want to be communicated with in this way and that you will not tolerate it. You can withdraw from the situation on the basis of your own boundaries.

One of the key challenges in standing up to spiritual abuse is the lack of confidence in calling out bad behavior or the need for validation for wrongs. We may be afraid to a question a teacher who is more knowledgeable than us when he is doing clear haram. However, halal and haram are defined by Allah and no human has the right to amend them. If a religious leader claims exemption to the rules for themselves or their students, that’s a big, bright, red flag.

Beware of Bullying

When you witness or experience bullying, understand that a Muslim’s dignity is sacred and don’t accept justifications of ‘tarbiyah’ (spiritual edification/character reformation) or breaking someone’s nafs (ego). If you didn’t sign up for spiritual edification, don’t accept any volunteer spiritual guides.

If you did sign up, pay attention as to whether these harsh rebukes are having a positive or negative effect. If they are having a negative emotional, mental, or physical effect on you, then this is clearly not tarbiyah, which is meant to build you up.

When abuse in the name of tarbiyah happens, it is the shaykh himself or the shaykha herself who needs character reformation. When such behavior goes unchecked, students become outlets of unchecked anger and are left with trauma and PTSD. This type of bullying is very common in women’s groups.

Trust Built and Trust Destroyed

There are different levels of trust, and as it relates to religious leaders, one does not need to investigate individuals or build trust for a perfunctory relationship. You do not need a high degree of trust if you are just attending someone’s general lectures and not establishing any personal relationship.

If you want to study something with an Islamic teacher, do so as you would with a school-teacher, understanding that their position does not make that person either exceptionally safe nor exceptionally harmful. Treat religious figures as religious consultants who are there to answer questions based on their knowledge. Give every teacher a clean slate, don’t have baseless suspicions, but if behavior becomes manipulative, exploitative, cultish, or otherwise abusive, don’t justify it either.

Personal accountability is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith and we have to take responsibility for our own faith and actions. There is no need to be suspicious without reason, but nor is there a justification for blind trust in someone you don’t know, just because they lead prayers or have a degree of religious education.

It is natural to ask ourselves whether people can be trusted after experiencing or learning about spiritual abuse. The answer is yes – you can trust yourself. You can also trust others in ways that are appropriate for the relationship. If you know someone well and they have proven over a long period of time to be trustworthy, keep secrets, and do not use you or take advantage of you, then it makes sense to trust that person more than a stranger or someone who has outward uprightness that you do not know well. That level of trust is earned through long-time demonstration of its characteristics.

Seeing someone on stage for years or relying on testimony of people impressed by someone should not convince you to lower your guard. Even if you do believe someone is pious, you still never drop your better judgment, because even saints are fallible.

Don’t Fall for Reputation

Never take other respected leaders praising or working alongside an individual as proof of his or her trustworthiness. It is possible that the teachers you trust are unaware of any wrongdoing. It’s not a reasonable expectation, nor is it a responsibility for them to boycott or disassociate themselves from another religious figure even if they are aware of them being abusive.

Furthermore, skilled manipulators often gain favor from respected teachers both overseas and domestically to gain credibility.

If one shaykh praises another shaykh, but you witness abusive behavior, don’t doubt yourself based on this praise. The praise may have been true at one time or may have been true in the experience of the one giving the praise, but no one knows another person’s current spiritual state as spiritual states can change.

Even if the abusive individual was previously recognized to be a great wali (saint), understand that there are saints who have lost their sainthood as they do not have isma (divine protection from sin or leaving Islam) like the prophets (upon them be peace) do. What was true yesterday, may not be true today.

Often praises of integrity, courage, and inclusiveness are heaped on men who support influential female figures. However, men who are praised as ‘allies,’ and thanked for ‘using their privilege’ to support female scholarship and the participation of women in religious organizations and events are no more trustworthy than those who don’t.

Abusers are often very image-conscious and may be acting to improve their own image and brand strength. Influential male and female religious figures also help one another with mutual praising and social-proofing. That is how the misdoings of men who are supportive of women are ignored, as long as they support the right politicized causes such as inclusive spaces and diverse panels.

Don’t be tricked into trust through a person’s credentials. An ijazah (license) to be a shaykh of a tariqa is purportedly the highest credential. It’s a credential that allegedly has a chain that goes all the way back to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but that does not impart any of the Prophet’s character or trustworthiness in and of itself. A shaykh has to continuously live up to the ijaza and position. The position does not justify behavior outside of the sharia or any form of abuse. Scholars are inheritors of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) only to the degree to which they embody his character.

When a teacher who hasn’t spent adequate time with righteous shayukh abuses, they are said to lack suhba (companionship of the pious), and that is why they are abusive.

The truth is many of the worst abusers in traditional circles are highly certified, have spent adequate time with shayukh, are valid representatives of them, and are able to abuse because the previously mentioned credentials lead to blind trust.

Don’t let certifications about spiritual abuse, ethical leadership, or the like mean anything to you. Skilled narcissists will be the first to get such certifications and take courses because they know this will make people trust them more. You will see courses on ‘healthy leadership’ and ‘spiritual abuse prevention’ being taught and designed by them. There is a false premise behind such certifications that if religious leaders knew how abuse occurs and the damage it causes victims they wouldn’t do it. The fact is they know how abuse works, know how damaging it is, and don’t care. In a way, it’s good to have lessons on spiritual abuse from purveyors of abuse, just as learning theft prevention from a thief might be the most beneficial.

Don’t judge by rhetoric

Don’t look at the rhetoric of groups or individuals to see how seriously they take abuse. Spiritual abuse occurs in all groups. It is common for members of one group to call out abuse that they see in another group while ignoring abuse occurring within their own group.

Sufis who will talk about the importance of sharia, label others as ‘goofy-Sufis,’ and insist that real Sufis follow sharia, will very often abuse in private and use the same justifications as the other Sufi groups they publicly deride.

Many imams and religious leaders will talk publicly about the importance of justice, having zero-tolerance for abuse, and the importance of building safe spaces, while they themselves are participating in the abuse.

Furthermore, female religious leaders will often cover up secret marriages, and other abuses for such men and help them to ostracize and destroy the credibility of their victims as long as their political views align. Muslim mental health providers often incorporate religious figures when they do programs, and in some cases they involve known abusers if it helps their cause.

In some cases, the organization does not know of any abuse. Abusive individuals use partnerships with Muslim mental health organizations to enhance their image as a “safe person.” This is especially dangerous due to the vulnerability of those struggling with mental illness and spiritual issues, who may then be exploited by the abuser. It is a community responsibility to ensure the safety of these vulnerable individuals and to ensure that they do have access to resources that can actually help them.

Don’t judge by fame

One false assumption is that the local-unknown teacher is sincere while the famous preacher is insincere and just wants to amass followers. This contrast is baseless although rhetorically catchy.

The fact is, many unknown teachers desire fame and work towards it more than those who are famous. Other times the unknown and famous teacher may have the same love of leadership, but one is more skilled than the other. They both may also be incredibly sincere.

Ultimately, we cannot judge what is in someone’s heart but must look at their actions, and if their actions are abusive, they are a danger to the community. Both famous and non-famous teachers are equally capable of spiritual abuse.

Look for a procedure

Before being involved in an organization, look for a code of conduct. There is no accountability without one in non-criminal matters. Never depend on people, look at the procedures and ensure that the procedure calls for transparency, such as the one we at In Shaykh’s Clothing published and made free for the public to use.

Procedure also applies to an organizations’ financials. Do not donate money to organizations based on personalities, instead demand financial transparency and accountability for the money spent. There is great incentive for spiritual abusers to win the trust of crowds when it means they can raise money without any financial accountability.

But what about Husne-Zann? Thinking well of others?

Allah tells us يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

O You who believe, leave much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sinful” (Quran 49:12).

From this verse, we see that some – not all negative opinions are sinful. The prohibition is partitive, meaning some bad opinions are permissible.

If someone punches you, it is not hunse-zann to assume that person just happened to stretch with a closed fist and did not see your face was in the way. This kind of delusion will lead to you getting punched more. To be wary of their fist isn’t a sinful level of suspicion.

Part of why spiritual abuse is difficult to detect is that its purveyors have a reputation for outright uprightness. They are thought well of in the community, and in many cases they are its pillars and have decades of positive service to their defense. Assuming that someone cannot be abusive simply because they have been a teacher or leader for a long time is not husne-zann. When facts are brought to light- like a fist to the face – it is delusional to assume they didn’t mean it that way.

If someone does something that warrants suspicion, then put your guard up and don’t make excuses for those actions. Start with a general guard and be procedural about things which require a procedure.  For example, if you are going to loan someone money, don’t just take their word that they will pay you back but insist on a written record. If they say they are offended, just say “it’s my standard procedure to avoid any confusion later on.” A reasonable person won’t have an issue with that. If someone mentions on the phone they will pay you $100 for your work, write an email to confirm what was said on the phone so there’s a record for it.

Lastly, and most importantly, never leave your child alone with a teacher where you or others cannot see them. Many cases of child sexual assault can be prevented if we never allow children to study alone with adults. There should never be an exception to this, and parents much uphold this as a matter of policy. Precaution is not an accusation, and this is a professional and standard no one should reject.

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