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Open Thread 7/ 27/ 08

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scale.jpgI’ve decided that the open thread is a great excuse for me to dump my half-formed thoughts and ideas that’ll probably never make it into a proper article… as always, comments, criticisms, suggestions, and randomness is welcomed  :D

Spirituality vs. Religiosity

Islam is a religion about balance, about fulfilling both practical needs and inner, spiritual needs. Yet I’ve noticed a trend – people tend to complain about “organized religion,” saying that all the dos and don’ts takes away from the essence of belief in God. Most notably, when it comes to Islam, is that people target our shuyookh and ‘ulemaa and claim that rather than being people blessed with knowlege, they are power-thirsty dictators who seek to rule over our lives.

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I find it sad that for many, it’s an issue of spirituality vs. religiosity instead of spirituality and religiosity. I’ve come across this underlying attitude mostly amongst the modernists/ progressives: those who perhaps don’t pray all the time, or wear hijaab, or grow the beard… generally, those who aren’t too concerned about following the rules. Their favourite argument is that wearing hijaab doesn’t make you “more Muslim,” a truer believer or a better person… in fact, the implication is that if you do wear hijaab or grow the beard or believe in gender segregation or whatever, then you are in fact some kind of backwards, unenlightened follower blindly obeying “the mullahs.”

While I agree that wearing hijaab or growing a beard doesn’t automatically make you the best Muslim ever and that there’s a lot more to Islam than just outward actions and appearances, at the same time we’ve got to realize that it’s not all “in the heart” (my favourite phrases are: “My salaah/ zakaah/ siyaam/ Hajj/ hijaab/ beard/ Islam is in my heart! I don’t need to display my piety, Allah knows how much I love Him!”). Throughout history, the scholars of Islam have emphasized both the inner and outer aspects of the Deen: both are equally important and to be taken care of. This is what we need to return to, rather than claiming that our taqwah is based on our “inner beliefs” alone, or our “Sunnah dressing” alone.

What has led to this attitude? How widespread is it? How do we respond to it? Is such an attitude a sign of gross arrogance and ignorance (never a good combination), or is there something behind it – insecurity, misunderstanding – that we should try to reach out and kindly address?

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Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. fastaqim.blogspot.com

    July 27, 2008 at 2:07 AM

    Nothing to do with the above topic, but I think people should watch this interview with Imam Siraj Wahhaj. Pretty inspiring, especially when he’s speaking about their anti-drug campaign.

  2. Nihal Khan

    July 27, 2008 at 6:04 AM

    AsSalamu ‘Alaykum everyone,

    It’s raining in Jersey. It’s a beautiful feeling when you hear the water drops hit your skylight…especially right after you pray Fajr.

    Solar Eclipse
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20080725/sc_space/viewersguideaug1solareclipse

    What does our Deen say to do when you see a Solar Eclipse
    http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/6111/

  3. Nihal Khan

    July 27, 2008 at 6:12 AM

    Really Funny Cartoon about Fajr (Props to Br. Dawud Israel) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TngE7htPvKk&feature=related

    DISCLAIMERS
    – has about 10 seconds worth of music @ the End
    -(I’m assuming this video was made by a Qadiani because it attributes itself to the Ahmadiyyah Movement at the end)

  4. Muhammad

    July 27, 2008 at 8:04 AM

    I ran into this video by a revert brother, Jeffery Lang, where he talks about focusing more on the spiritual, moral, and historical aspects of Islam rather than just the rules. I would love to see the full video. I don’t think he means rules vs. everything else, rather focusing on both equally. In another video he talks about spiritual growth through meeting obligations in Islam, in response to a question from the audience.

  5. Hassan

    July 27, 2008 at 9:12 AM

    It seems that circumstances are becoming favorable for attack of US & Allies on Pakistan. Afghanistan govt and NATO forces are blaming volatile region of tribal areas for anything that is happening in Afghanistan. Moreover attack on Indian embassy in Kabul was blamed on pakistan intelligence agencies. Now there are so many bombs have gone off in India killing so many innocent civilians, and most likely would be blamed on Pakistan.

    So wether or not US, India, NATO and allies attack Pakistan or not, but conditions are “made” very favorable for justifying it.

    PS. Musharraf sucks!

  6. Hassan

    July 27, 2008 at 9:22 AM

    Ok, the group who claimed responsibility was “Indian Mujahideen”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080727/ap_on_re_as/india_explosions

    I never knew India could produce violent muslims.

  7. H. Ahmed

    July 27, 2008 at 9:49 AM

    Of course this comes from ignorance about the Deen.

    Its all rather quite simple (as explained in the hadith of jibreel).

    Islam, or the physical manifestations of the deen (i.e. actions – salat, zakat, sawm, even hijab,beard, etc.) – is all a prerequisite for Iman, and Ihsan, or spirituality.

    In fact, in another hadith it is said that with Islam, alone (one who completes all 5 pillars) – we are guaranteed jannat.

    For people to think they can be muhsins (spiritual) or mu’mins (have strong faith), without first being muslims (completing all the actions) – is in fact -ba ckwards.

  8. amad

    July 27, 2008 at 11:10 AM

    To make MM a really useful networking tool :) :
    If there any visitors here from Russia, and anyone from France… pls contact me using the “Contact Us” button on the left.

    I will be visiting Paris (couple of days) and Moscow (almost a week) inshallah in September (school-related trip)… its right in Ramadan and I am hoping that I can connect with some Muslims, esp. in Moscow (I am sure I wont have a hard time finding some in Paris inshallah).

  9. Hassan

    July 27, 2008 at 11:37 AM

    amad said:

    To make MM a really useful networking tool :) :
    If there any visitors here from Russia, and anyone from France… pls contact me using the “Contact Us” button on the left.

    I will be visiting Paris (couple of days) and Moscow (almost a week) inshallah in September (school-related trip)… its right in Ramadan and I am hoping that I can connect with some Muslims, esp. in Moscow (I am sure I wont have a hard time finding some in Paris inshallah).

    I am sure, that marrying a muslimah in Moscow for networking, would not have crossed your mind even once.

  10. ibnabeeomar

    July 27, 2008 at 11:53 AM

    you don’t need to go all the way to Moscow when you can mail-order

  11. inexplicabletimelessness

    July 27, 2008 at 12:31 PM

    One really good book is Sheikh Jamaal Zarabozo’s Purification of the Soul

    In the beginning he talks about how disillusionment with Christianity which often times hindered scientific thought/reason led to a hate for religion overall by many people.

    But yeah, belief and action are both so important and true spirituality comes from being close to our Creator, Allah (swt), and not from man-made philosophies or feelings.

  12. Gohar

    July 27, 2008 at 2:16 PM

    If Allah has told us to do it, then how can doing it NOT make us better? (all other things being equal). I can think of few greater insults to God than to claim that He will treat the A+ slave in exactly the same way as He will treat the A star grade.

  13. Amad

    July 27, 2008 at 3:56 PM

    Interesting study here:

    Islamic Divorce in North America

    Looks like a positive effort. If you are divorced, consider participating.

  14. coolred38

    July 27, 2008 at 4:29 PM

    In the late 1800’s Sheikh Mohammed Abdo travelled to Europe and when he returned to the middle east this is what he opined…”In Europe I found Islam but no Muslims…here in the Middle East I find Muslims but no Islam.”

    Read, not to believe nor contradict…but to weigh and consider. (Quote on Library entrance)

  15. A

    July 27, 2008 at 6:03 PM

    Malik :: Book 56 : Hadith 56.3.8

    Malik related to me that he heard that Isa ibn Maryam used to say, “Do not speak much without the mention of Allah for you will harden your hearts. A hard heart is far from Allah, but you do not know. Do not look at the wrong actions of people as if you were lords. Look at your wrong actions as if you were slaves. Some people are afflicted by wrong action and some people are protected from it. Be merciful to the people of affliction and praise Allah for His protection.”

  16. Gohar

    July 27, 2008 at 7:16 PM

    Yeah, activists often point to virtues from ‘the other side’ to try and motivate their own side. Christians do this, for example, by praising the dedication/sacrifice of muslims to Islam compared to their followers. And other religions too (even neocons). And what you’ve quoted is just an example of a muslim activist doing the same. In the UK, brothers often like to say the line by Yusuf Islam.

    I find the thinking behind the statement just a little bit too lazy personally. 19th century Europen life islamic, heh? Hahahaha.

  17. coolred38

    July 28, 2008 at 12:09 AM

    Now and then “virtues from the other side” are quite possibly something Muslims should strive for…the state of the Ummah today indicates a real need to inject some virtue from some source or another…I look around and I do not see any Muslim country that comes even close to the religous obligations or requirements that our Holy Quran espouse…so why not look to Europe or even, heaven for bid, the Great Shaytan the West…for some guidance…God sends it to us from the most unlikely of sources at times…we only have to be willing to open our hearts and minds for the truth to enter…just thought.

    19th century Islamic life was a far cry closer to Islam than what passes for it today brother…we should only wish to be as God fearing and determined as some of them were. No oil in those days to corrupt the soul and lead so many astray.

  18. Gohar

    July 30, 2008 at 5:40 AM

    On The Issue of Context and Crimes of Israel (or the West)

    The quotes below are censuring a zionist for asking for context, my argument being that most westerners will insist on context when their crimes are concerned, but cry foul when muslims do he same for Palestinians/Chechans etc. If they can insist on context, then why can’t muslims?
    .
    Choosing to display the reality of what is happening on the ground is not naiveté; it is the opposite. It is naïve to think that you have to overload difficult images with endless amounts of “context” in order for people to be able to view them and understand them. It is naïve to think that Americans – Jewish, Arab, or otherwise – will only come to one conclusion when they view these images. Finally, it is naïve to think that ignoring or providing “context” for a difficult reality – rather than engaging with it – will do anything other than perpetuate it.”

    “The “asking for context”, is just an opportunity to attempt to mount a defence against the crimes committed by his folks over there. He can’t confront that, and wishes to lessen the war crimes , with this- lets have”context’ ( let that read justification )..”

  19. Gohar

    July 30, 2008 at 6:01 AM

    There are valids requests for context and invalid ones too. But its usuful to be able to make parallels when trying to explain your viewpoint to someone.

    Here in the Uk, for instance, a good parallel would be the way in which people objected to the 21st century crusader DVD on the basis that it didn’t provide context. Its a story that most news listeners would be aware of, and thefore when accused of trying to justify somesones wrond action, you can explain your true intent in a way they will understand.

  20. Gohar

    July 30, 2008 at 1:35 PM

    Maodoodi and the qurani word ‘min’/’from’

    (98:1) Those who disbelieved *1 – be they from the People of the Book or from those who associated *2 others with Allah in His Divinity – will not desist from unbelief until the Clear Proof should come to them; *3

    1) …does not mean that some of them were not involved in kufr, but that those who were involved in kufr were of two kinds: the followers of the Book and the mushriks. Here, min has not been used for division but for explanation, as, . for example, in Surah Al-Hajj: 30, where it has been said Fajtanib-ur rijsa min al-authan. which means: “therefore, guard yourselves against the filth of idols’-, and not: “guard yourselves against the filth which is in the idols.” Likewise, alladhina kafaru min ahl-il-Kitabi wal-mushrikin.means: “the, disbelievers from among the followers of the .Book and the mushriks … “, and not: “those who have disbelieved from these two groups.

    2) in the Qur’an the shirk, (polytheism, idolatry) of the people of the Book has been mentioned at many places, yet nowhere in the Qur’an has the term “mushrlk”been used for them. For they believed in the principle of Tauhid (Oneness of God) as the we religion, and then committed shirk. Contrary to this, for others than the followers of the Book, the word mushrik has been used as a. term, for they acknowledged shirk (idolatry) as true religion and disacknowledged Tauhid

  21. Gohar

    July 30, 2008 at 2:07 PM

    For the above verse, there are some who claim that it proves that not all christian and jews are non-believers, since Allah says the “disbeliever from amongst them” suggesting that there are some from amongst them who aren’t disbelievers.

    What Maodoodi has shown with the verse from Sooratul Hajj is that the word “from” in the verse is being misunderstood, and that the correct explanation brings the verse into conformity with all the other quranic verses which affirm their collective disbelief.

    -Edited spelling/grammer… to make sense of a hastily written comment :)

  22. Aalia

    July 30, 2008 at 8:41 PM

    Asalaam 3alaikum wa ra7matullahi wa barakato!

    Great post, Anonymouse and I totally agree. Anyone can say “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad was His Messenger” but we also have to show this by our actions. All of this siggly-wiggly “hijab is in the heart” stuff makes me roll my eyes. (Hijab is only one of the many examples that can be used today).

  23. Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

    July 31, 2008 at 8:38 AM

    The List for those accepted into Madeenah University has been released. Click here for a list of students from selected Western countries.

  24. Amad

    July 31, 2008 at 4:58 PM

    By Br. Shane Yoder
    July 29th, 2008

    Assalamu alaikum,
    The Sacramento Chapter of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and
    its 877-WHY-ISLAM project are hosting an information booth at the
    California State Fair from August 15th until September 1st. We will
    be handing out free Qurans, brochures and answering questions about
    Islam. The mission of the project is to encourage people to search
    for unbiased information on Islam and to promote understanding and
    dialogue between people of different faiths.

    WhyIslam volunteers will be there to answer all questions regarding
    Islam, its teachings and help clear up any misconceptions. WhyIslam
    will also be highlighting the cultural diversity of Muslims. We will
    be giving dawah for 18 days straight, 12 hours a day Friday through
    Sunday and 10 hours a day Monday through Thursday. We need donations
    to help purchase materials and volunteers to help us at the booth.
    Please visit http://sacramento.whyislamwest.org to sign up as a
    volunteer or to contribute. Note that we provide free dawah training
    and orientation classes, free admission to the fair and parking for
    volunteers and that the booth is inside an air conditioned building.
    We have a variety of shifts available and need both brothers and
    sisters to volunteer. Also please come and visit us at the California
    State Fair in Building B, space # 243 to show your support.

    Due to the presence of much negativity and Islamophobia, the general
    public has the daunting task of sifting through uninformed and biased
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    Islam, the religion of approximately 7 million Americans, promotes
    peace, prayer, humility as well as social, communal and family values.
    However, despite the many similarities and values shared with other
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    misunderstood religion in America. Ignorance is recognized as a major
    source for the hatred and violence that exists in today’s world. By
    eliminating ignorance, we can help create a more peaceful and tolerant
    environment where we can understand and appreciate each others’ faith.

    Approximately 900,000 people will attend this event. The opportunity
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    ♦ 3500 Quran (only English translation) ($4.00 ea.) $14,000
    ♦ 12 English brochures (total # of brochures 6000) ($.10 ea.) $600
    ♦ 12 Spanish brochures (total # of brochures 6000) ($.10 ea.) $600
    ♦ Misc. additional expenses (booth fee, admission/parking etc) $5000

    Total (estimated cost) $20,200

    ► Please contribute generously as follows
    ♦ Cash / Check (Make payable to “WhyIslam Sacramento”)
    ♦ Online @ http://www.sacramento.whyislamwest.org
    ♦ Donate Quran (English translation only) by Yusuf Ali
    ♦ Donate your time by signing as a Volunteer, on our website
    ☞ Note: All contributions are tax deductible

    About Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)

    Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is one of the largest,
    non-profit, independent, grass roots organizations of Muslim Americans
    which focuses on Education, Outreach, Social Services and Youth
    programming. We are dedicated to the dissemination of correct
    information on Islam and Muslims through our WhyIslam project which
    can be found at http://WhyIslam.org.

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