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Can Hijab and Basketball Co-exist? The Phenomenon of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir

Amad Abu Reem

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An average of 42 points per game,

Passing Rebecca Lobo’s 17-year-old Massachusetts high school mark of 2,710 career points is about as easy as bumping Julie Andrews off the hilltop, and yet Bilqis graciously eclipsed the legend in January on her way to becoming the first player in state history — male or female — to score 3,000 points.

And as the author states, she does it in “full” hijab. Albeit not quite the “full” hijab, it is still quite remarkable that this sister is able to not only play basketball in what would be considered “difficult” clothing requirements, but also excel as she is doing.

And the enigma of the “Hijabi basketball star” is not ending anytime soon as Bilqis is expected to become the first Muslim player in NCAA Division I history to take the basketball court in full dress when she starts her college career next fall on scholarship at Memphis, a top tier basketball program. I am not sure how many Muslim men stars have played at the NCAA Div 1 level, but I imagine that there have been quite a few.

Regardless of the hijab nuances in this case*, there is no doubt that she represents a positive portrayal of Muslims in the media (remember everything is relative). And in the past, stars such as Hakeem Olajuwan and Shareef Abdur-Raheem have done nothing but to help the image of Islam. So, there is definitely some positive here.

In previous posts, Sr. Zainab has talked about how she believes that soccer and hijab could coexist peacefully, while saunas and hijab couldn’t possible… so can basketball and hijab?

Read the rest of the article on Sports Illustrated webpage here (PDF of newspaper cutting).

Also, there is a short TV news clip of the sister as player of the week (viewer discretion advised: there are highlights of Bilqis playing a high-school girls’ basketball game).

*The sister may believe that she is indeed complying with the hijab, because I have seen many others who pray at the Imam WD Muhammad Masajids, and who wear similar “styles” of hijab. My goal in presenting this nuance is to remind everyone about the need for benefit of doubt inshallah.

Imad Shaykh is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Imad is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Avatar

    UmA

    March 10, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    you might need to proof read the title and article (phenomenon, sauna etc)

  2. Avatar

    gess

    March 10, 2009 at 12:06 PM

    As’salamu aleikum,

    To the editor.

    May I suggest to remove the link to SI ? It contains un-Islamic contains. It is better to give a reference.

    Although I must say I am very surprised that SI decided to give space to a hijabi Muslim athlete, when the magazine is known and have been criticized to overlook most of the time female athletes.

    gess.

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 10, 2009 at 1:38 PM

      UmA: Fixed. jak

      gess: I changed the SI link to a pdf. It is interesting, as you mentioned, that SI which is known for its less-than-appropriate calendars, and scantily clad women (as if female-body exploitation is some sort of sport??) would do something quite the opposite. Well, good for them.

      Sabi, not sure what your beef is? I am pointing out what seems like an obvious issue, that SOMEONE would have brought up anyway. I wanted to take the lead to nip it in the bud as much as possible. It isn’t easy writing when you have critics from the far left, far right and every point in the middle :)

  3. Avatar

    sabiwabi

    March 10, 2009 at 1:08 PM

    Yes, someone please proof-read these articles first. Doesn’t MM have an editor? This is not the type of article I have come to expect from MM. Also, nattering over the “correctness” of her hijab? Really? Looks like she is taking hits from Muslims and non- Muslims alike.

    As I always say, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.

    More power to you, Bilqis…continue to represent the strength of Muslim women…you have my du’as.

  4. Avatar

    bintwadee3

    March 10, 2009 at 5:31 PM

    Sabiwabi: Your post is flawed in different ways. I wonder if you were merely trying to get us to give her some credit for wearing hijab (which the author did in the first sentence), but your wording is not proper. Maybe you don’t have an editor…

    “Also, nattering over the “correctness” of her hijab?”
    The author, and I and many others I’m certain, are simply fulfilling their islamic duty of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. I don’t know about you, but I would rather “natter about someone’s hijab” than be asked by the Creator why I didn’t say anything, and then get sins for it. If you think the author of this article is trying to incite people to hate on her, then you’re mistaken. May Allaah forgive us all for our shortcomings.

    “As I always say, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” ”
    Funny you should mention clichéd phrases. A couple come to mind. Here’s one:

    “If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right.”
    Allaah mentions Ihsan (perfection/excellence to the best of your ability) many times throughout the Qur’an.10:26, 39:10, 53:31 to mention a few.

    May Allaah guide us all to the better Islaam.

  5. Avatar

    Taha A.

    March 10, 2009 at 10:01 PM

    her family dresses in the appropriate islamic dress code and the father has a big beard. I believe she onlly has this type of hijab only for basketball. Just lets give her the benefit of the doubt that she is trying

  6. Avatar

    sabiwabi

    March 10, 2009 at 11:58 PM

    I am my own editor and I say what I mean, my dear Sister, Bintwadee.

    Have you read the article about her accomplishments? Her choices to cover her body with LOOSE fitting clothing….yet she gets no pat on the back for that. I bet if you compared her to 75% of her hijab wearing counterparts she is probably 90% more modest! The girls in my town get away with wearing anything as long as their hijab is “proper” and it’s a disgrace. I seriously would rather see my daughter in an abaya and a skully than see her in a “proper hijab” and the rest of her body poured into her Forever 21 jeans and tight shirt. We are talking about the minds and realities of teenage girls here, not full grown women. Can’t you see the nuance? Suppose Bilqis reads this thread herself. It’s a pretty good bet that she would be disheartened. What about her values, manners, morals, ways of interacting with others? Is she exemplifying the sunnah of the Prophets behavior? Why can’t we delve into that? If she is doing so….which it appears that she is….where is our support of that?

    Oh wait, we can’t, because a Muslim womans’ worth = her hijab.

    Sad.

  7. Avatar

    Nihal Khan

    March 11, 2009 at 12:59 AM

    Just for the books, Sr. Bilqis may stumble upon this article (Imam Suhaib Webb put up an article regarding her achievements and she commented).

    In regards to her dress, I think it’s only fair to speak to her personally. Otherwise, we shouldn’t comment. In the Precious Provisions class we had w/ AlMaghrib, YQ said that it’s better for a girl to pretty much wear loose clothing and no hijab than to wear a hijab and tight clothing…

    In my humble opinion, wouldn’t this be backbiting to an extent? I mean, don’t get me wrong, When the Prophet (SAW) saw someone doing wrong, he’d tell that person in a polite manner and in private.

    I think this article needs some changes. Allahu Alam.

    As Shaykh Yasir Qadhi said, “Hijab is a concept and a way of life, not just a piece of cloth.”

  8. Avatar

    sincethestorm

    March 11, 2009 at 2:31 AM

    I agree with SABIWABI more than Nihal. Alot of sisters started out wearing something and it wasn’t perfect. Slowly, things changed and their hijab evolved as well. It is an accomplishment to want to cover up something in this society. This young girl is trying to not compromise her faith and still be athletic. She is wearing a full sleeved shirt and long spandex tights under her uniform and still playing a physical sport. It has to be difficult and hot. She is covering and trying when some people are not even thinking about. Wearing hijab is a step towards fulfilling the injunction by Allah SWT and its not the same as trying to grow a beard. Hijab is distinctly representative of Islam only. A person who wears it is doing it becuase they fear Allah SWT. Even it is not perfect, this person is taking a step closer to Allah SWT. And so when people say its better to wear loose clothing and no hijab than to wear a hijab and tight clothing…then I think that is really discouraging to all of the sisters. We should never discourage a person to fulfill an order of Allah SWT even if it is not done perfectly. This young lady is proud Muslim sister and that is why she is wearing it. And it is a credit to her for fearing Allah SWT and stopping and thinking about it period. And this article and comments like sr. Nihal and her quoted comment from Yasir Qadhi are counterproductive.

  9. Avatar

    J

    March 11, 2009 at 2:41 AM

    As-Salam Alaykum.

    I think brother Amad’s comments were 100% appropriate. He made his intentions for writing them quite clear. We all know that the hawks from the far right would have attacked MM if he had not made those disclaimers. Furthermore, it is important to be clear about our religious beliefs. So basically, brother Amad is saying that we support the basketball sister for her pure intention, even if she is unfamiliar with the legalities and technicalities.

    Brother Amad, I applaud the way you wrote this article. May Allah [swt] reward you.

    Technically, Muslim sisters should probably *not* be playing basketball in public at all, as the home is the proper place for them, according to our religion. Yes, in places like Saudia, it is ok to play games in all-girl’s sports where the audience is all-girls too.

    Having said all that, the basketball sister has–from what I can tell–a pure intention, and has made a great effort to conform to her religion. Not everyone is a scholar, and so we should appreciate her sincerity and piety, instead of condemning her.

    I think brother Amad’s approach to this whole issue is best.

    Fi Aman Allah

  10. Avatar

    AsimG

    March 11, 2009 at 2:44 AM

    Asalaamu Alaykum,

    There are significant number of Muslim brothers in NCAA division 1 basketball, but they don’t get much attention unless they have some “back home” story to show how they triumphed.

    Hasheem Thabeet is probably the most famous right now who plays for UConn and is considered their big star.

  11. Avatar

    J

    March 11, 2009 at 2:53 AM

    Remember what Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah [ra] said about Mawlid. He said that the person who celebrates it with an intention to do good deeds, such a person can get sawwab (reward) from Allah [swt] for this intention, EVEN IF THE ACTION IS WRONG. Therefore, we pray and hope that sister Bilqis will get reward for her pure intention and her sacrifice. Even though her covering may fall short of the requirement, it must have taken a lot of guts to even do that much. And keep in mind that in her mind, she must be fulfilling the requirement, and actions are based on intentions. Once again, not everyone is a scholar, neither is everyone a Salafi who knows all the intricate details of things. There are countless hijabis who don’t know that the hijab should come in the front to cover the chest, but we pray that they will be judged by their intention.

    Let us be extra careful with this one, and not break the spirit of sister Bilqis.

    At the same time, being clear on our beliefs–as this site tries to promote the proper aqeedah and sound jurisprudence–is important. I think brother Amad managed to strike this precarious balance pretty well.

  12. Avatar

    sincethestorm

    March 11, 2009 at 3:05 AM

    The problem is close to 8 million Muslim Americans don’t live in Saudi Arabia. We dont’ live in a segregated society. The sport is played by only females. She is trying to wear something…do something and play. Should she not play at all then? This is not the time to be inspecting other people. And esp. not young girls!!! Maybe someone will be impressed by her and want to learn about Islam. Many people still talk about Hakeem breaking his fast while praying. So, my point is its not our place to judge others and certainly not our place to discourage them. If a young kid was praying 3 out of 5 daily prayers, no one would say don’t pray 3 times if you can’t pray all 5. We would encourage them to do more but not look down at them for praying 3 times a day. Its just that simple.

  13. Avatar

    J

    March 11, 2009 at 3:15 AM

    Wa alaykum as-salam, sister SincetheStorm,

    I believe that this is similar to the dilemma faced by talented musicians once they convert to Islam. They dedicated their whole lives to music, and their talent is in music. So then they are faced with the choice of either abandoning music altogether or of going into “Islamic music”. Of course, my personal opinion–and the correct opinion–is that these brothers and sisters should leave music altogether, and Allah [swt] will recompense them with an even greater reward in the Hereafter.

    However, I do very much understand how difficult this choice is, and I do not agree with those people who “bash” them for making the wrong decision. Rather, I think we should talk to them softly and with love. Nudge them in the right direction, insha-Allah.

    So my personal belief is that even if a sister has a great talent with basketball, if she sacrifices it for Allah [swt], then that is a trade that will be of great profit. Allah [swt] asks in the Quran: “Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan, that Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times!” (Quran, 2:245) So I believe that if a sister who has immense talent in basketball, which could benefit her greatly in this life, if she gives it up for the sake of Allah [swt], then Allah [swt] return this “loan” many-fold in the next life.

    Having said all of this, I agree with you 100% that we should be soft and considerate to the sister, who for all we know may be getting immense reward from Allah [swt] for her sincere intention and sacrifice, no matter if her action may be wrong in the legalities and technicalities.

    I generally take a pretty conservative view of what Muslimahs should have in the public sphere, and I believe that their place is in the homes, away from the public eye. I do not think putting them center stage, where a whole crowd and audience stares at them, is correct. Wallahu Aalim.

    But again, I can’t stress it enough: the sister made a huge sacrifice, and may Allah [swt] reward her for her sincere intention! We really need to understand that ignorance is a protection for the awwaam (masses) who may not be cognizant of all the nuances of the religion. Therefore, we should be extra forgiving of them, insha-Allah.

    Fi Aman Allah

  14. Avatar

    J

    March 11, 2009 at 4:03 AM

    I just want to add the example of David Chappelle, who left a $50 million deal for Allah [swt]. As his brother, William, said: “How much is your Imaan worth?” David decided that $50 million is too little. Subhan-Allah.

  15. Amad

    Amad

    March 11, 2009 at 8:18 AM

    salam,
    Thanks to everyone for keeping the discussion polite.

    As “J” said, please remember that Muslim writers on the net have to walk a tight-rope between the right and the left… inshallah on the middle path, which is never easy.

    I find the criticism that this post would be disappointing to the sister slightly amusing, especially after the modifications from yesterday (after reading some of the comments).

    sabi: “yet she gets no pat on the back for that”.

    Ok, then let’s review my statements (let’s be objective about our judgments):

    it is quite remarkable that this sister is able to not only play basketball in what would be considered “difficult” clothing requirements, but also excel as she is doing.

    Regardless of the hijab nuances in this case, there is no doubt that she represents a positive portrayal of Muslims in the media (remember everything is relative).

    And then let’s review the “negatives” (1 half line)::

    While clearly not fulfilling ALL the conditions of most mainstream definitions & requirements of hijab*

    And check the foot-note on it:

    *=The sister may believe that she is indeed complying with the hijab, because I have seen many others who pray at the Imam WD Muhammad Masajids, and who wear similar “styles” of hijab. My goal in presenting this nuance is to remind everyone about the need for benefit of doubt inshallah.

  16. Amad

    Amad

    March 11, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    A few follow-up questions:
    1) Am I wrong to say that this does not fulfill general requirements of full hijab according to all schools of thoughts (I would say even Shias would agree with me)?
    2) If I am right, would it be just to avoid mentioning it? In fact, if the sister reads this post, perhaps she would read the linked post, and may be able to do a bit more.
    3) Isn’t the tone of the post positive, even with the hijab nuance mentioned WITH a disclaimer?

    Let me also add something more. I was going to say this in my post but then I didn’t want to be attacked for justifying the “lesser” hijab, but Sr. Bilqis is at least trying to do the hijab, under tremendous amount of pressure (from fame and peers), relative to many sisters who don’t have any of these issues and still don’t even try. I will also agree that wearing loose clothes and a head-scarf is much better than the “full” head-scarf accompanied by tight jeans and t-shirts. Having said that, relative comparisons don’t change the absolute, and so I felt it my responsibility to point that out.

  17. Avatar

    sabiwabi

    March 11, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    I feel that the last two comments were directed at me, so I’ll respond.

    It’s your article Brother, you should write what you to. Don’t let others ‘perceived’ responses distract you from the type of article that YOU want to write. Just be ready for both types of reactions next time. When your article is only 10 sentences long, it only takes a couple of references to her hijab for the issue to become the predominant theme (and SI is guilty of the same thing…as if hijab makes her superhuman or something). Non-Muslims gawk over the fact that she can run and throw a ball with extra fabric tied on her body and Muslims gawk over the fact that she doesn’t do her hijab right. What’s a Muslim teenaged girl to do? I feel for her.

    My overall feeling with the MM article was that I was disappointed to see her hijab mentioned at all. She seems like a strong, positive Muslim teen who does her best to adhere to her faith while trying to make an impact in a field that you rarely see Muslimahs in. I’ll reiterate the word “teen”. I used to sit in and volunteer at our local teen youth nights and what those poor girls are going through these days…it’s insane. Being hit with criticism from BOTH worlds. As if being a teen wasn’t hard enough in the first place. Maybe if we (the Muslim communities) started to uplift and celebrate those girls accomplishments without holding them under the “yeah but her hijab…” microscope first; we would start to see the changes that we want to see with our teenaged girls. I firmly believe that.

    They have to feel secure and loved by the community (with a hijab, no hijab or half-hijab) or we will lose them to the world. That is my sole concern as I have seen many teen girls go that route in my 13 years of being Muslim.

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 11, 2009 at 3:15 PM

      Sabiwabi, your point noted.

  18. Avatar

    Anonymous

    March 11, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    True Nasiha is always given in private, no need to publicly state the errors of our fellow Muslims

    Wa Allahu Allim

  19. Avatar

    AbdelRahman

    March 11, 2009 at 5:43 PM

    It is not our job to acknowledge the fact that maybe she’s not fulfilling proper hijab on a public forum such as MuslimMatters. In her interview with ESPN, she referenced the fact that her mother prefers that she wear looser clothing. We don’t know what she wears when she’s not playing basketball, only when she’s on the court.

    Regardless, it’s not the job of a website to address the issue of her hijab and to point out how she could be wearing it more in accordance with the majority opinions of the scholars of Islam. If you wish to give her naseeha, then get her e-mail address and do it privately. Even if the intention of the post wasn’t to bring up a “is she legit or is she not?” argument, you would be as intelligent as a rock if you didn’t think this topic would come up. My recommendation is to take the post down.

    Although it has a good intention, this post has more potential harm than benefit, in my humble opinion. Nice try, though ;-).

  20. Avatar

    bintH

    March 11, 2009 at 6:59 PM

    I’m gonna have to agree with the post above me.
    It’s just going to call for arguing on what is the proper hijab and what isn’t.
    Although it is great that this sister is successful in playing basketball, I can already see many problems that will arise for her if she plays for the NCAA.

  21. Avatar

    J

    March 11, 2009 at 7:33 PM

    Bro Amad, you just can’t win. lol

    If you say one thing, you’ll get toasted by one side. If you say another, you’ll get toasted by the other. haha

    You sir have a difficult job that I do not envy!

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 11, 2009 at 8:34 PM

      Ok folks, I have updated the post once again to make the reference to hijab even “lighter”. But I feel that I would fail in my writing responsibility to let the SI article author mention “full” hijab (she did not just say “hijab”, but “full hijab”), without giving some clarification. This is the best I can do. And while I appreciate your good intentions in asking for post removal, I hope that you can appreciate my right to disagree. I do give pause and thought on reader comments, and that is reflected in my adjustment to the post twice.

      wasalam

      P.S. If anyone has a contact for the sister, we will be happy to interview her on her positive attributes as a Muslimah in this society.

  22. Avatar

    Siraaj Muhammad

    March 11, 2009 at 8:37 PM

    Salaam alaykum,

    I thought it was balanced. It provided all sides of the discussion without being judgemental or negative. It’s good that we’re clear about what mistakes our role models are publically making without attacking them.

    Siraaj

  23. Avatar

    BintH

    March 11, 2009 at 11:35 PM

    Just wanted to clarify, I didn’t disagree with you Br. Amad. If it is indeed good that we can be clear about what mistakes our role models make without attacking them then that’s perfectly fine. I, of course, am not better than anyone, but I didn’t want my opinion to come off as attacking her, as at least she covers her hair instead of not at all. However, I will agree to say that hijab is a way of life, not just a piece of cloth, and not just for your hair only. I would be happy to see a woman in full hijab ( and I mean full) playing basketball, but then again, I wouldn’t. She’s going to be on TV twenty four seven, with people viewing her, I just would like it to be more private but have her still be successful, unfortunately you cannot do that in the NCAA, so all I can say is make du’aa for her.

  24. Avatar

    BintH

    March 11, 2009 at 11:37 PM

    And just to add in, if anyone knows her or has contact with her, I hope they can advise her nicely about it. InshaAllah she takes it as good advice and that someone cares about her rather than getting sensitive about it like the rest of us might get.

  25. Avatar

    usman

    March 12, 2009 at 12:47 AM

    salaam, i agree with br amad (props for a well written article) as Muslims we should not be afraid of saying what is clearly said in quran and sunnah. Hijab is fard and it is clearly stated wat needs covering and how. Sister Bilquis is not covered islamicly, and yes this should be said to her politley. Their is no judgment of her intentions or that she is a bad muslim. The issue went her to hijab, and hijab in islam is clear.

  26. Avatar

    bintwadee3

    March 12, 2009 at 2:57 AM

    Sr. sabiwabi:

    My comment about you needing an editor was a sarcastic, and rather harsh, rebuttal of your editor comment to the author. It was not my place, and for that, I’m sorry.

    I have indeed read the article about her accomplishments and, being a sport-lover myself, am astounded. Alhamdulillaah she’s doing an amazing job, and no one here is denying that (to my knowledge).

    I can attest to the fabric wrapped tight as can be around girls heads, in addition to the painted on jeans and, well, shape revealing clothes. You have very good points but we’re looking at it through different points of view.

    Scenario in what seems to be your POV according to your examples (correct me if I’m wrong): if we all looked at the people below us, here meaning those (whom we believe to be) less practicing than we are, well then theres no competition. We’re at the top of our game. Assuring ourselves with statements such as “Well they only pray 2 times a day and I only skip Fajr” is nothing to be happy about. Yes, alhamdulillaah you’re almost completing your obligation to Allaah. Do you want a medal?
    My POV: It still is not completing the obligation of hijab. I don’t deny that she dresses alot better than girls our age (I assume you’re in your teens, as I am), but that doesn’t cancel out the fact that it does not fulfill the requirements of hijab that Allaah commanded of us. You can’t just say “Well, we’re Muslim but we decided we don’t want to pay Zakat.” We all know that one was dealt with in the sahaba’s time.

    About the minds of teenage girls, in my humble opinion, it has nothing to do with anything. Your brain will continue to develop for the rest of your life. Age doesn’t justify maturity or immaturity. Alot of mature, “sound-minded” individuals do extremely assinine things all the time. Correct me if I’m wrong, but are we not held accountable for our actions (islamically) when we hit puberty? I believe so. A common phrase among girls is “Well as long as I have the intention, Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, and Most Merciful.” To these girls, I say “And Allaah is also swift in punishment!” Allaah is Just and He will deal with each accordingly.

    If Bilqis is reading this, I would like her to know that it is not only actions of the heart that count, but of the limbs and tongue as well. I say this not out of spite, nor contempt, but a form of cautionary naseeha, if you will.

    About her values, manners, morals, ways of interacting with others, of course we could speak of what little (if any) knowledge we have in those aspects, but that is not the topic at hand.

    Her worth being her hijab, I don’t think anyone even came close to implying that. If the article was titles “Is bastketball superstar Bilqis a good girl who does what she’s told? Lets all evaluate her morals, values and manners and then determine her worth” then your statement might be plausible. Hijab and basketball was the point of the article. No one automatically assumed “BAD MUSLIM, SHE HAS A SKULLY WHICH MEANS SHE DOESN’T PRAY, FAST OR PAY ZAKAT!” No one said that.

    Can hijab and basketball co-exist? Even if she played in full abaya/hijab, maybe even niqab, I would still say no if there were non-mahram men around.

    This comment is not meant to offend anyone, just to express an opinion on this matter. WAllaahu ta3aala A3lam.

  27. Avatar

    AbdelRahman

    March 13, 2009 at 1:27 AM

    That’s fine and dandy, the whole point is that it’s not anyone’s job on this site to point out someone’s flaw, let alone an 18 year old girl who hasn’t even graduated from high school and is receiving all of this media attention. If anything, contact SI and ask them to correct it, but bringing up a weak part of a sister’s faith to the MM community of readers isn’t necessary, and is of poor taste.

  28. Avatar

    AbdelRahman

    March 13, 2009 at 1:42 AM

    Salaam alaykum,

    I thought it was balanced. It provided all sides of the discussion without being judgemental or negative. It’s good that we’re clear about what mistakes our role models are publically making without attacking them.

    Siraaj

    Like the commenter above said, Imam Suhaib put an article about her on his blog, and she later came and commented. How would you like it if there was a blog with many, many readers, and one of your flaws (possibly due to ignorance or blossoming iman) was pointed out, albeit in a “soft” way? No one would.

    I completely agree that this post falls in a form of backbiting, as it is (1)criticism in public that doesn’t need to be made in public and (2)something said about her without her direct knowledge and something I don’t think she’d appreciate. Look at the difference between how Imam Suhaib posted his article (in praise of her efforts and accomplishments with no conditions) vs. how it’s been posted here, with an * next to her achievement. Which audience do you think she’ll be more prone to fall in to, and insha Allah become better by becoming a part of?

    We all have flaws, and it’s from Allah’s mercy that He hides them for us. Let’s not get bit by the holier than thou bug and decide to pick out others flaws, even in a manner that doesn’t seem so harsh to us.

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 13, 2009 at 6:01 PM

      AbdelRahman, the problem I believe is not in the text of the post, but how you are framing it. To rip on a few words in the post, and gloss over everything else positive, is also unjust reading. I did not put an * next to her achievement, that is what you did. I put an an * next to the Sports Illustrated writer’s contention that this represents full hijab.

      For instance, if a different article had a focus on a Muslim male athlete and mentioned how the brother sported a full Islamic beard, yet the brother only had a goatie, I would do exactly the same as I did here. Point out that the statement in the article is inaccurate. It doesn’t take away from the brother’s achievements; rather, it points to inaccuracy in the article. It is as simple as that.

      The hijab or the beard are part of the Muslim package, but they are not pillars of the faith. At least the sister in this case is trying compared to tons of other muslim women who don’t have this sort of pressure/problem, yet they can’t even don modest clothes, let alone hijab. So, let’s keep this in perspective and not read too much into the post.

      wallahualam

  29. Amad

    Amad

    March 13, 2009 at 6:05 PM

    If anything, contact SI and ask them to correct it, but bringing up a weak part of a sister’s faith to the MM community of readers isn’t necessary

    The first part of this sentence is unpractical. The article is out, and if you think explaining the nuances of hijab to a SI writer is going to be helpful or that she would issue a correction, then you know that’s not going to happen.

    As for the second part, bringing up a weak part of the sister’s faith, how did you get that? I never questioned her faith. I corrected the writer. And even with that, I provided a defense for why the sister might believe its full hijab. Again, I think, you have framed the post in a certain way in your mind, which is not the frame that is provided by the apparent and clear text in this post.

  30. Avatar

    Siddiqua

    March 14, 2009 at 4:01 AM

    Assalamoalaikum wa Rahamtullah wa Barakatohu

    I have been reading some ot the articles and comments posted for the last few days.

    Allah SWT in His infinite Mercy and Compassion has given us a Book full of Light, for the one who submits truly unto His Will and is truly His slave.

    There is no doubt or confusion or varioation in our Book, the Quraan Al Kareem.

    Then we have the preserved ways of His Prophet SAW, a firm guidance to the good.

    Allah SWT says in His Holy Book that He created us only that we may worship Him. If we hold firmly to this reason of our being in this duniya, which is only our temporary abode and a test for our everlasting destination, then most clearly the Holy Quraan repeats again and agan that to achieve the true success we have to follow Allah’s Commands and the Sunnah of Rasulillah SAW firmly and without wavering.

    To be muslim is to know for sure that Allah is our Creator, our Lord, Our Master, our Owner and that unto Him is our return and we will be judged, according to the guidelines established in the Quraan and the Sunnah. Allah SWT is Al Ghani; we are the beggars hoping and praying for His acceptance of our deeds and His Mercy that we may succeed in the duniyah and the Akhirah.

    So the one who follows the Straight Path, giving up the prohibited and doubtful mattters of the duniyah, for the Sake of Allah SWT, that is the true slave of Allah SWT who will be given the real success, Jannah forever.

    Argumentation is firmly prohibited by Rasulillah SAW and hated by Allah SWT. There is no “dsicussion” of Allah’s Commands. Once Allah SWT has ruled on a matter, there is no gainsaying or varying or scurrying from here to there in a vain attempt to reconcile one’s own worldly desires with the imcomparable Truth.

    The one who is established most firmly on the Straight Path, by Allah’s Mercy, worries not one whit about the opinion of anyone except he fears: Does Rabb ul Alameen accept this from me? Most certainly he is not fearful of the kuffar media.

    Allah SWT in His Mercy, Compassion and Wisdom has made Al Islam the deen of ease and clarity. We are the arrogant ones who mix it all up, creating thereby only fitan and fasaad. So beware my dear brothers and sisters in Islam. Allah SWT has ruled. And there is none who can change one whit or iota of His Truth. So for Allah’s Sake, stay firm and honourable to this His Straight Path. And inshAllah we will all be gathered together in the Highest Jannah and be with our Lord besides Whom there is no Lord. Ameen ya Rabb il Alameen.

  31. Avatar

    sincethestorm

    March 14, 2009 at 5:28 AM

    @ Amad, You have a daughter and I don’t think you would appreciate an article like this on a blog about her. You may be presenting an almost positive artible but at the same time you are putting someone else’s daughter and her actions on centerstage. I find it terribly inappropriate because she is a young girl!
    @Siraaj This teen is not looking to be a role model. And, I think its ridiculous that people, random strangers on their computers, think this is the best way to bring this issue to light with all the problems we have amongst our ummah!

  32. Avatar

    Siddiqua

    March 14, 2009 at 5:29 AM

    Assalmoalaikum wa rahmatullah wa baraktohu

    A clarification for the following:

    “Argumentation is firmly prohibited by Rasulillah SAW and hated by Allah SWT”

    should read
    Argumentation is hated by Allah SWT and Rasulillah SAW strictly forbade any of his sahabas to engage in it.

    May Allah SWT forgive all my mistakes and errors.

  33. Avatar

    sincethestorm

    March 14, 2009 at 6:33 AM

    @Amad i apologize my comment in retrospec. was not appropriate.

  34. Avatar

    AbdelRahman

    March 15, 2009 at 2:27 AM

    Basically, in simpleton’s terms, there need not be any emphasis of her “not quite full hijab (insert HTTP link for what full hijab is).” Everyone here can tell that a doo-rag and long sleeve tights with leggings is not something that qualifies as hijab. But again, there’s not need to point it out in an article to a community of people who can already tell the difference.

    Agree to disagree, I guess.

  35. Avatar

    Siraaj Muhammad

    March 15, 2009 at 4:19 PM

    Agree to disagree, I guess.

    Yep, pretty much :)

    Siraaj

  36. Avatar

    Siraaj Muhammad

    March 15, 2009 at 4:23 PM

    Basically, in simpleton’s terms, there need not be any emphasis of her “not quite full hijab (insert HTTP link for what full hijab is).” Everyone here can tell that a doo-rag and long sleeve tights with leggings is not something that qualifies as hijab. But again, there’s not need to point it out in an article to a community of people who can already tell the difference.

    By the way, I hope you realize that comments are also public, and the one statement you just made was far harsher than anything Amad said in the entirety of his article.

    Siraaj

  37. Avatar

    AbdelRahman

    March 15, 2009 at 8:26 PM

    I don’t think so – she herself in the ESPN interview mentioned that she told her mom that she knew she should be wearing looser clothing. I don’t think my statement was “far harsher” at all. I think writing an article about it on a site like MM was, bluntly put, moronic. Maybe commenting on it so much was even more dumb, who knows.

  38. Avatar

    Siraaj Muhammad

    March 16, 2009 at 12:43 AM

    Maybe commenting on it so much was even more dumb, who knows.

    Exactly my point.

    Siraaj

  39. Avatar

    Hidaya

    March 16, 2009 at 1:44 AM

    She is only 18 MashaAllah……I didn’t even know what Hijab was at that age, so hats offf to her, mashaAllah.

  40. Avatar

    Fuad Ahmed

    September 3, 2009 at 4:00 AM

    I admire her. Just look into her mind and the confidence level she has. And Hijab is OK.

  41. Avatar

    cukaash

    May 27, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Salam, Muslimah.

    Thank you so much for your insightful question. It shows a desire to understand the essence of Islam, not just the rituals. May Allah guide us all to the true beauty of His religion, and allow us to submit to it.

    Before anyone can have a true and complete understanding of hijab and its real meaning, one needs to take a step back and start at the beginning. Allah says in the Quran, which Muslims believe is the word of God, what means:

    [Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between!] (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:16)

    In this verse Allah makes clear that everything He created has a purpose. Every star in the sky, every fish in the ocean, and every leaf on a tree was made for a specific reason. So too was the human being created for a specific purpose. And Allah explains this purpose clearly in the Quran. He says what means:

    [And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.] (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

    It is important to note even the construction of this statement. Allah did not just say that He created jinn and mankind to worship Him. He began with a negation. He said: “I did not create the jinn and mankind.” By saying it in this way, Allah begins by clearing the board from any other purpose before He states what our one and only purpose is: to worship Him and Him alone.

    Now, it is in that context that one should begin to understand hijab. Hijab should properly be seen as simply another show of devotion to our Creator. Just as we pray and fast because He commanded us to do so, we should view hijab in the very same light.

    Just as praying and fasting sincerely for Allah’s pleasure brings us closer to Him, so too does wearing hijab — if done with the same sincerity. By obeying Allah’s commandments, hijab is just another way to worship our Lord. And in so doing, it brings us closer to realizing our purpose of creation.

    That purpose can be reflected even in the clothes that we choose to wear. If when we choose our dress, our intention is to please Allah, that action in itself is an act of worship. In the very choice of one piece of clothing over another, is an act of worship.

    Many people like to refer to hijab as a “personal choice”. Yes. It is a personal choice. It is a personal choice to submit to God rather than the fashion of society. It is a choice to be beautiful to God, rather than to people. And it is a choice to cover and dignify the body Allah gave you, rather than give in to a culture that teaches women they are to be sex objects who sell their bodies to market beer.

    However, hijab should not just be seen as a cloth one puts on the head. Rather hijab is a symbol of our worship and servitude to God. It is a symbol of modesty, that is not just about our attire; it extends to our whole demeanor.

    If someone is wearing the hijab of modest clothing but is not modest in their behavior, they have only shown the external modesty. But internal modesty is missing. Because both internal and external modesty is essential, Allah mentioned the two together in the Quran:

    [Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty…] (Al-Mu’minun 24:30-31)

    In this verse of the Quran, Allah does not just talk about the dress of modesty, but also the demeanor of modesty. In fact, both internal and external modesty is so important that the Prophet (peace be upon him) connected it with faith itself.

    Unfortunately, we live in a society that teaches the exact opposite. In our society today, modesty is viewed as a sign of weakness and insecurity, when in fact modesty is a sign of dignity and self-respect.

    True modesty means not only being modest in front of people, but also in front of Allah.

    Regarding your question about “fashionable hijabs full of designs and prints,” there is no black and white answer. The question one must consider is what the purpose of hijab really is, and whether a particular type of dress contradicts that purpose.

    For example, if one is wearing a headscarf that is excessively beautified, and therefore draws more attention, one must wonder whether that is fulfilling the object of modesty, both internal and external.

    Ultimately, Allah knows best. We seek His guidance in all our affairs; and we pray that He shows us and allows us to remain firm on the straight path.

    I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.

    Salam.

  42. Avatar

    cukaash

    May 27, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Praise be to Allaah.

    Verses that have to do with hijab:

    1 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, headcover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful”

    [al-Noor 24:31]

    2 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “And as for women past childbearing who do not expect wedlock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them. And Allaah is All‑Hearer, All‑Knower”

    [al-Noor 24:60]

    “Women past childbearing” are those who no longer menstruate, so they can no longer get pregnant or bear children.

    We shall see below the words of Hafsah bint Sireen and the way in which she interpreted this verse.

    3 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”

    [al-Ahzaab 33:59]

    4 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet’s houses, unless permission is given to you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meal, disperse without sitting for a talk. Verily, such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet, and he is shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allaah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not (right) for you that you should annoy Allaah’s Messenger, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him (his death). Verily, with Allaah that shall be an enormity”

    [al-Ahzaab 33:53]

    With regard to the Ahaadeeth:

    1 – It was narrated from Safiyyah bint Shaybah that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) used to say: When these words were revealed – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – they took their izaars (a kind of garment) and tore them from the edges and covered their faces with them.

    Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4481. The following version was narrated by Abu Dawood (4102):

    May Allaah have mercy on the Muhaajir women. When Allaah revealed the words “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)”, they tore the thickest of their aprons (a kind of garment) and covered their faces with them.

    Shaykh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

    This hadeeth clearly states that what the Sahaabi women mentioned here understood from this verse – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – was that they were to cover their faces, and that they tore their garments and covered their faces with them, in obedience to the command of Allaah in the verse where He said “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” which meant covering their faces. Thus the fair-minded person will understand that woman’s observing hijab and covering her face in front of men is established in the saheeh Sunnah that explains the Book of Allaah. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) praised those women for hastening to follow the command of Allaah given in His Book. It is known that their understanding of the words “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” as meaning covering the face came from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), because he was there and they asked him about everything that they did not understand about their religion. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad) the Dhikr [reminder and the advice (i.e. the Qur’aan)], that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought”

    [al-Nahl 16:44]

    Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Baari: There is a report of Ibn Abi Haatim via ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Uthmaan ibn Khaytham from Safiyyah that explains that. This report says: We mentioned the women of Quraysh and their virtues in the presence of ‘Aa’ishah and she said: “The women of Quraysh are good, but by Allaah I have never seen any better than the women of the Ansaar, or any who believed the Book of Allaah more strongly or had more faith in the Revelation. When Soorat al-Noor was revealed – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – their menfolk came to them and recited to them what had been revealed, and there was not one woman among them who did not go to her apron, and the following morning they prayed wrapped up as if there were crows on their heads. It was also narrated clearly in the report of al-Bukhaari narrated above, where we see ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), who was so knowledgeable and pious, praising them in this manner and stating that she had never seen any women who believed the Book of Allaah more strongly or had more faith in the Revelation. This clearly indicates that they understood from this verse – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – that it was obligatory to cover their faces and that this stemmed from their belief in the Book of Allaah and their faith in the Revelation. It also indicates that women’s observing hijab in front of men and covering their faces is an act of belief in the Book of Allaah and faith in the Revelation. It is very strange indeed that some of those who claim to have knowledge say that there is nothing in the Qur’aan or Sunnah that says that women have to cover their faces in front of non-mahram men, even though the Sahaabi women did that in obedience to the command of Allaah in His Book, out of faith in the Revelation, and that this meaning is also firmly entrenched in the Sunnah, as in the report from al-Bukhaari quoted above. This is among the strongest evidence that all Muslim women are obliged to observe hijab.

    Adwa’ al-Bayaan, 6/594-595.

    2 – It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to go out at night to al-Manaasi’ (well known places in the direction of al-Baqee’) to relieve themselves and ‘Umar used to say to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Let your wives be veiled.” But the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not do that. Then one night Sawdah bint Zam’ah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), went out at ‘Isha’ time and she was a tall woman. ‘Umar called out to her: “We have recognized you, O Sawdah!” hoping that hijab would be revealed, then Allaah revealed the verse of hijab.

    Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 146; Muslim, 2170.

    3 – It was narrated from Ibn Shihaab that Anas said: I am the most knowledgeable of people about hijab. Ubayy ibn Ka’b used to ask me about it. When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) married Zaynab bint Jahsh, whom he married in Madeenah, he invited the people to a meal after the sun had risen. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sat down and some men sat around him after the people had left, until the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up and walked a while, and I walked with him, until he reached the door of ‘Aa’ishah’s apartment. Then he thought that they had left so he went back and I went back with him, and they were still sitting there. He went back again, and I went with him, until he reached the door of ‘Aa’ishah’s apartment, then he came back and I came back with him, and they had left. Then he drew a curtain between me and him, and the verse of hijab was revealed.

    Al-Bukhaari, 5149; Muslim, 1428.

    4 – It was narrated from ‘Urwah that ‘Aa’ishah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to pray Fajr and the believing women would attend (the prayer) with him, wrapped in their aprons, then they would go back to their houses and no one would recognize them.

    Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 365; Muslim, 645.

    5 – It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “The riders used to pass by us when we were with the Messenger of Allaah (S) in ihraam, and when they drew near to us we would lower our jilbabs from our heads over our faces, then when they had passed we would uncover them again.

    Narrated by Abu Dawood, 1833; Ibn Maajah, 2935; classed as saheeh by Ibn Khuzaymah (4,203) and by al-Albaani in Kitaab Jilbaab al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah.

    6 – It was narrated that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr said: We used to cover our faces in front of men.

    Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah, 4/203; al-Haakim, 1/624. He classed it as saheeh and al-Dhahabi agreed with him. It was also classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Jilbaab al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah.

    7 – It was narrated that ‘Aasim al-Ahwaal said: We used to enter upon Hafsah bint Sireen who had put her jilbab thus and covered her face with it, and we would say to her: May Allaah have mercy on you. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And as for women past childbearing who do not expect wedlock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment” [al-Noor 24:60]. And she would say to us: What comes after that? We would say: “But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them”. And she would say: That is confirming the idea of hijab.

  43. Avatar

    cukaash (cukaash10)

    May 27, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    and in my opinion bilqiis abddul qadiir she much better than many people in the world honestly, those who don’t using any thing about the hijab she is best just the way she is.

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#Current Affairs

Why Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Racist Slur Strikes Beyond Cricket

Amad Abu Reem

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The Pakistani cricket team, that has been dogged with many off-field problems in the past decades, is now facing an issue that many outside the Indian subcontinent find perplexing—charges of racism, after Sarfaraz Ahmed, the team captain was caught on mic calling a South African player a “kala” (literal translation black).

Some are wondering how racism could even be an issue in a team which has all shades of brown, from very fair to very dark. In fact, racism in the subcontinent is dirty laundry that no one wants to talk about.

For far too long, racism has festered in the brown world (or “desis”—a term that encompasses the people of this region), be it the Indian subcontinent or Arab countries. And thankfully (not for Sarfaraz of course), it has been brought into sharp focus with Sarfaraz’s racial slur caught on mic.

Lets face it, the word “k*^la” is offensive and derogatory, but if you were to ask most desis about this incident, they would tell you that the word “kala” is normal part of the language and completely innocuous. While “k*#a” and other iterations of this word are indeed a commonly used “taunt”, it is nevertheless a taunt and far from innocuous.

The repercussions of a national team captain normalizing racism goes far beyond a joke.

It would not be surprising if Sarfaraz himself does not understand the gravity of the situation, because of the routine use of this word in Pakistan. Many consider it neutral. In fact, cricket fans in Pakistan often refer to the West Indian cricket team as “Kali Aandhi” (Black Storm).  The intention, many would argue, is not to insult but just a factual observation of blackness. But that explanation falls flat, because it is not as if Pakistanis call the Australian team “Chitti Aandhi” (White Storm).

Others would argue that this is just out of habit. So should we just let bad habits fester?

In reality, there is nothing innocuous and innocent about racism among brown people. The British left the Indian subcontinent more than 70 years ago, but not before infusing a white superiority complex among their ex-subjects.

The derogatory capacity of a pejorative word has far reaching consequences. Slurs perpetuate prejudices and cause intolerance and harm.

Let’s look at the negative coloring of this word- no pun intended.

As an example of why this issue extends beyond humor or innocence, ask most desis: what is the number one attribute in brides that parents look for, especially  in arranged marriages? The answer would be “light colored skin”. It is not a secret that most brown people still do not appreciate their children having dark or black spouses. While some of these folks may argue that not marrying into the black race is related to cultural differences, how come it is much more acceptable then to marry into the white race?

One needs to realize that the difficulty of considering darker/black spouses is not borne out of instant prejudice. It stems from a slow and steady indoctrination process that is common among most desis and Arabs. Many times, this process is not out of ill intent. It is not even conscious for the most part. It just happens out of routine behaviors. As an example of this process, mothers will tell their children to stay out of the sun, not because they may be harmed by sun exposure, but they may become “kala”. What is amusing and sad, is that many white people spend countless hours and money to willingly become a little “kala” by resorting to sunbathing or staying locked up in tanning parlors!

Let me speak from personal anguish—a painful personal experience that I have not shared with many others out of embarrassment. Growing up, my family used to visit Pakistan often. While I am not at the darkest end of the “brown spectrum”, I was darker than my cousins. This was enough for me to be routinely subjected to taunts of “k&*a”. Dark was bad was the message I got, as do many young children. I cannot recall if my uncles and aunts participated in this, but I do know they did not admonish their children either. Amusingly enough, I was even called “Indian” as a taunt (this continued well into adulthood too), because in the petty minds of my cousins, Indian was near synonymous to black—it was like two insults packed in one!

While I pretended to shake this off, it bothered me enough to secretly buy a stash of skin-bleaching cream, transfer it to an unlabeled container to avoid embarrassment and use it. I was only 11 or 12 years old! Please tell me how harmless these taunts must be to cause a young child to want to change his skin color that Allah gifted to him?

Recently, playing cricket with some desi friends, I was reminded of those painful times. The same “kala” slurs that you heard from Sarfaraz were targeted at a very dark friend. To make it more palatable, the taunts were packaged in jokes, such as “we need more light, because so-and-so will be in the picture”, or “don’t let your blackness rub off on the ball”, etc.

My dark friend took it with a smile or a laugh. However, I always wondered what was going on inside his mind. I regret that I did not say anything from the very first time I heard it, but being dark myself I felt hesitant to come to his defense. I never participated in the jokes; it would be hypocritical. But I know I could have—because it is like a pecking order, the lighter shades joke about the darker shades, even if the differences in shades are invisible to an outsider.

Eventually, I garnered the strength to advise my good friend (very light-skinned) who was the main source of the comments to lay off and that he may be hurting our friend’s feelings. And while I have no doubt about our fair friend’s good heart, I suspect that similar to those with white privilege, he didn’t even realize the problem with his jokes.  

It is not enough to just talk about racism and its cousin colorism, as if it only affects other societies. It is intricately woven in the desi and Arab societies. It gets passed down from generation to generation, like an inherited disease.

It is time for a change among our societies. The Muslims among desis and Arabs need to pay heed to their own Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who forbade racism of any kind. What culture is more important than the Islamic culture of an egalitarian society, where race and color have no impact on position or influence or the opportunities for success?

It is time for all brown people, Muslim or not, to purge the scourge of racism, not just from our tongues, but our hearts. Stop telling your children to avoid sunlight to avoid becoming dark. Stop using the word “k*&a” at your homes in ANY context of someone’s skin color. Stop telling your family the color of your newborn child is congratulatory if white or a commiseration if dark. Stop your children’s friends or cousins from making any negative comments (in jest or otherwise) with respect to anyone’s complexion- this is a form of unacceptable bullying. Raise children who feel completely comfortable and beautiful in their complexion, no matter the shade.

Because black and white are both beautiful.

. هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names . All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. (Surah Al-Hashr 59:24)

A Shade Less | Not Fair and Lovely

Between a Rock and a Hard Place- Black and Muslim

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#Culture

Iftar and The NBA Finals: Lebron vs Steph Episode 1

Ammar Al Shukry

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All praise is due to Allah and may the most perfect salutations be upon His messenger.

Today is a day that many people have been waiting for for the better part of a year. Today my friends, starts the NBA finals. From the beginning of the year, everyone knew that it was going to be Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. It was just a matter of time. People’s imaginations are captured by the idea of two teams meeting for the third time in three straight years, each one having one in the past two, and now this may be the deciding one; the competition being at an all time high, all of the tables are stacked, both teams healthy and loaded to the teeth, the competition is at an all time high.

It is enough to almost make one forget that they are in a competition themselves.

A real one. You see, we’re in the playoffs right now. Ramadan IS our high stakes. Every day we should be pushing ourselves to do what these players have now taken as a mantra “we’re just trying to get better each day.”

And the reality is there is a place for competition in the religion.

In fact regarding Jannah Allah says,

“وَفِي ذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ

So for this let the competitors compete. (Surat Al-Mutaffifeen v. 26)

The competition of the prophets

Bukhari and Muslim both report that when the Prophet (ﷺ) ascended into the heavens on the night of Mi’raj he met Musa and the following conversation occurred,

“When I went (over the sixth heaven), there I saw Moses. Gabriel said (to me),’ This is Moses; pay him your greeting. So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ When I left him (i.e. Moses) he wept. Someone asked him, ‘What makes you weep?’ Moses said, ‘I weep because after me there has been sent (as Prophet) a young man whose followers will enter Paradise in greater numbers than my followers.'”

And the prophet (ﷺ) said as reported by Al-Nasa’i, Abu Dawood and Ahmed among others,

“Have many children for I will boast your great numbers over the other nations on the day of Judgment.”

The competition of the companions amongst each other

One of the most striking examples of the competition of the companions in goodness was the complaint that was presented by the poor companions about the rich companions to the prophet (ﷺ). And I don’t know any other complaint that the poor ever made about the rich that was *about* their richness.

AlBukhari and Muslim both report that

Some of the poor Emigrants came to Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said to him, “The wealthy have obtained all high ranks and everlasting bliss.” He asked, “How is that?” They replied: “They offer Salat as we do, and observe Saum (fasting) as we do, but they give in Sadaqah (charity) and we do not, and they emancipate slaves and we cannot.” He (ﷺ) said, “Shall I not teach you something whereby you will catch up with those who have preceded you and will get ahead of those who follow you, and no one will surpass you unless he does the same as you do?” They said, “Surely, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Say: Subhan Allah, and Allahu Akbar, and praise Him (by saying Al-hamdu lillah) thirty-three times at the end of every Salat.” They returned to him and said: “Our brothers, the possessors of wealth, having heard what we are doing, have started doing the same.” Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “This is Grace of Allah which He gives to whom He wishes.”

And so the poor’s complaint is actually an incredible one, their complaint is not about any of the additional worldly access that the rich may experience because of their wealth, but what they feared was a spiritual access that they may have to their exclusion because of their wealth. They wanted every opportunity to be able to compete with them in giving charity. And that is an incredible testimony to the culture of the companions.

The competition of the prophet (ﷺ) and companions with previous nations

In fact, the very gift of the Night of Power (Lailatul Qadr) was a direct related to the prophet (ﷺ) and companions wanting to compete with previous nations:

In the Muwatta of Imam Malik we find:

Ziyad related to me from Malik that he had heard a man he trusted of the people of knowledge say, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was shown the lifespans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al- Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.”

And Imam AlQurtubi reports in his tafseer that there was a King from Bani Israel who would go out and fight in the path of Allah daily with his wealth and sons, all while fasting during the days and praying during the nights. He did this continuously for a thousand months until he was killed. The companions upon hearing this said,

“No one can reach the station of this man.” And so Allah revealed, “Laylatul Qadr is better than a thousand months.”

The competition of the successors

The successors were that generation that came immediately after the companions. They saw the companions but did not see the prophet (S). Abu Muslim Al-Khawalani was of them and once was praying in the night. As he was praying he was overtaken by sleepiness but instead of succumbing he struck his thigh to wake himself and said,

أيظن أصحاب محمد أن يستأثروا به دوننا ، كلا والله ! لنزاحمنهم عليه زحاماً حتى يعلموا أنهم قد خلَّفوا وراءهم رجالاً

Do the companions of Muhammad think that they will have him exclusively (again), no by Allah. We will crowd them over him (on the day of Judgment) so that they know that the ones who came after them were men!

And this is an amazing notion, to feel that you are not only in competition with your own generation, but even the previous ones, in fact even the companions in a sense. For paradise is up for grabs, as is Al-Firdaws, as is the company of the prophet (S) in Paradise.

The competition is on. The activities are many; recitation of the Quran, prayer, du’a, feeding others, charity and repentance. The stakes are high. And victory in it is the ultimate triumph.
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فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise is indeed Victorious. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion. (Al-Imran v. 185)

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Aaron Hernandez’s Death And The Responsibility of Sports Fans

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By Abu O’baydah b. Ali

Many people will look at the passing of AaronHernandez, former New England Patriots tight end, and say look “someone who had it all, money, fame, women, super human talent on the football field and he just threw it away.” But let’s follow the trend in pop culture and take a moment to look at our part in his passing (yes, we do play a part)…

Hernandez’s dad died from complications of surgery in 2006 when Aaron was just 16 years old. According to Hernandez’s mother this when he started acting out against authority. In 2007, at the age of 17, while on a recruiting trip to Florida (where he would eventually play college football and win a National Title) he consumed two alcoholic drinks at a restaurant, refused to pay, was escorted out of the restaurant by an employee and subsequently punched the employee in the head rupturing his eardrum. No charges were ever filed against Hernandez and the University of Florida was more than happy to have him still come and play for them. During college, Hernandez was believed to be involved in a shooting that left three people injured; he failed multiple drug tests and was a known and admitted marijuana user. The repercussions for his actions? He led the Gators to a national championship, was first team all SEC and first team all American and received the John Mackey award for the best tight end in college football. And even though his draft stock dropped when news of his marijuana use leaked, he was still selected by the best team in the NFL.

The message the world was sending Aaron Hernandez time and time again was that so long as you produce on the football field, so long as you keep winning, so long as you keep making our team money, you can do whatever you want off of it. Did anyone ever think that this was a troubled individual and that he needed help? Why would they? He was always a stud on the field which must have meant that everything off the field was ok. That’s why the NFL and NBA and every other sports league for that matter have no desire to speak about or touch upon anything not sports related. Just look at what the NFL has done with the issues of domestic violence, concussions and Colin Kaepernick. And as fans that’s what we’re sold and that’s what we eat up and love. We’re taught to care about our favorite teams and players and nothing more. We don’t care if our teams players are accused of rape, murder, lying, cheating or stealing. So long as they bring us the great satisfaction of seeing our team win, then that’s all we really care about.

Is this what Islam is about? Would our Messenger ﷺ look at us supporting these teams and these organizations as something trivial? Or would it be something that he truly detests? Could he (peace be upon him) watch a video of a woman being brutally beaten in an elevator and then go on to support the organization that tried to cover that up? Could heﷺ hear about an activity that was causing massive brain damage to those involved in it and then go on to support the organization that tried to cover that up? Could heﷺ hear about an individual who stood up and spoke out against oppression and then go on to support the organization that tried to silence him and shut him up? And while we agree that Aaron Hernandez committing murder is nothing short of despicable and abhorrent, could the Prophetﷺ hear about a troubled individual who time and time again acted out and was screaming for help, yet his screams were ignored by everyone because he was just too good at his craft, and being too good at your craft means that you should be grateful and thankful and suck it all up. Could the Prophetﷺ look at such an individual and feel sorry for him because he had all the fame and fortune and still decided to throw it away? Or would the Prophetﷺ feel sorry for those who couldn’t see or didn’t want to see past the fame and fortune to help someone who was obviously troubled?

As a sports fan you’re probably saying to yourself that this man had millions and it’s not my fault that he did what he did. And as a Muslim, I’m saying to you that the fact that we all support this kind of behavior when we should know better means we are just a little to blame. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.

Abu O’baydah b. Ali is a certified CrossFit trainer, and the president of the innovative charity org: Muslims Giving Back. He is also a doctor of pharmacy, and enjoys long walks on the beach and long car rides with older wiser men.

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