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Muslim Women: Balancing School, Work & Family

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

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Working Muslim women have several things to think about when they’re trying to juggle between their career, home and children. Here are some of the thoughts, I gathered from a few of the women on Muslim Matters to better understand their unique situations and gauge the issues faced by Muslim women in balancing school, work, and family.

Mehzabeen Ibrahim – a high-achieving academic

I am a hardcore academic. I’ve worked full time before, but always on a summer holiday basis. Otherwise, I’ve been a university student for almost 10 years. Part of the reason I chose to move into my field – away from lab-based work – is that I felt it would be more ‘family-friendly’, insha’Allah. I’ve experienced the research world, and if you want to achieve any kind of success you have to pretty much sacrifice most of your time, including evenings and weekends, which is likely why most senior academics are male. My projects started in January, and alhamdulillah, I have been working from home most of the time. I only really go into campus to meet my supervisor or group members, or clients. Plus, as I am in a field that is a growing, multi-disciplinary sector, I pray that possessing an in-demand skill-set will allow me some more flexibility when I eventually want to move over to part-time work – a virtual impossibility in this particular sector.

My decision to alter my career path was largely because I’ve witnessed how friends and family who try to have it all are usually very stressed and unhappy. This includes sisters I studied with who are now married with kids, and mortgages. Alternatively, sisters who completely abandoned work to become full-time housewives after studying to post-graduate level also have problems, especially those who are socially isolated or those whose husbands work away from home. They don’t have access to the mental stimulation that they were used to.

That’s why I suspect part-time work is the ideal for me, insha’Allah – especially that which I can essentially do anywhere, as long as I have my laptop. Of course, I’m not married, and I do think raising kids is not just full-time – it’s ALL your time. So I wonder whether part-time work will even be possible in the early years of motherhood. But at least I have a ‘Plan B’ in place, to give me some options, insha’Allah.

Ultimately, Allah is the best of planners, so as much as I try to control my life’s direction, the best way to ensure personal contentment is to keep an open mind!

Ify Okoye – in school full-time, usually working full-time, and trying to have fun all the time

I’ve worked part-time since I was about nine years old with a paper route I shared with my older siblings and later while babysitting. After high school, I transitioned into several areas of full-time work and put my studies on the backburner for a few years until I returned to school full-time while maintaining my full-time job. Would it be easier not to work or not to go to school, sure, but I really enjoy both, and see both as critical to my future educational, career, and personal goals.

When people ask me if I am married, I say with confidence, “no, alhamdulillah!” not because I’m not interested in marriage but rather because so many sisters view singledom as a death sentence but I am content with where I am. I have a deliciously full-plate as it is with taking care of my spiritual needs, joining ties with my family, school, work, volunteering, and enjoying the perks and advantages that come with the single without kids life. Yet, were I to have kids, I’d want to stay home and homeschool them.

My intended career path provides for a greater degree of both flexibility and financial security, insha’Allah, irrespective of my family life situation. I have a passion for education and many diverse interests and could, in the right circumstances, see myself in school for many years, and definitely always hope to be a lifelong learner and perhaps, an educator as well. I enjoy my work, it stimulates me mentally and challenges me emotionally. There’s a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at having worked a long day and helped others or made progress on whatever task I’m working on.

I’m not a big fan of long commutes, I’ve been there, done that and ideally, I’d like to work close to home. But even during my long commutes, I did memorize a lot of adkhar and Quran, and have learned to be a more patient driver. Among the things I have loved about my work over the years is the sheer number of different people I’ve had the opportunity to come into contact with, work with, and learn from their knowledge and experience.

Ameera Khan – a final year medical student

I’m a medical student in my final year and this whole issue of working/not-working is so relevant to me. Graduation is only about 8 months away now and people ask me what I’ll be specialising in or where I’m going to do my internship/house job (a one year on-the-job training after medical school). The truth is – I just don’t know yet. Having seen how tough doctors have it, especially female doctors because of their primary roles as wives and later mothers, I feel as if the zeal for the medical profession has largely left me. The working hours and the job stresses just do not appeal to me.

It’s true there are many options within the medical profession, with shorter working hours or even jobs which are academic and not hospital-based. However, the initial years are still going to be marked by long hours at work, especially if it’s a hospital-based job. And that’s the time women are getting married, starting new lives and adjusting to their new roles. All too often, I see female doctors juggling their new roles with their career ambitions, dropping off kids at the grandparents’, working non-stop during night-duties and going home famished. Being a person who loves children and looks forward to the joys of motherhood (yeah, I know it’s not at all easy either) as well as feeling strongly about having a stable, strong foundation in the home with a family environment,  I cannot imagine myself ever feeling really happy and satisfied with a strenuous job at work.

This is just me though. I know there are women who are, perhaps, more passionate about their career ambitions and, willingly or unwillingly, compromise on their others roles for that purpose. But that’s their life and if they’re willing to live with that, I do not blame them. It’s only when people make me out to be some sort of lazy, unambitious person that it hurts me. I’ve heard countless female and male doctors scoff at many young female medical students, “You all just want to be housewives!” And they make it sound as if it’s no job at all, despite knowing that a female doctor will nevertheless go home and have to take care of her children the household chores, even after the strenuous work hours. And even with trying to manage all these roles (which isn’t humanly possible), the satisfaction just isn’t there. My mother’s friend – a gynaecologist working in Saudi Arabia – often lamented on how she missed out on her kids’ growing-up and wished she’d opted for an easier career option.

As for me, I’m going to look into the many options within the medical field, such as Islamic bioethics combining my passion for Islam, ethical issues and biology/medicine or an MPhil, etc. to go into academics. The other possibility is that I take several years off to focus on my family and then plan a return to the medical field – which is what many women decide to do and successfully, by Allah’s Will, manage it. Of course, it requires a lot of extra hard work to return to the medical profession after a long gap but then, if you’re committed and have the will, Allah makes ease. Whatever I do, I realize it has to be for the sake of Allah, knowing my roles and priorities in life insha’Allah. I am confident that if I have that in mind, Allah will make the best way out, through His Grace and Mercy.

Bushra – an IT professional

Although I’m not in a demanding career yet, I foresee some trouble with regards to working from home as IT jobs are a rarity as it is and even rarer when working from home and I am wondering whether to go freelance, but I need to explore my options prior to making any big decisions (such as setting up my own company). I’m working from home one day a week right now, but I know that any other job will not be like that as this is a contracting job. I’ve suffered the corporate lifestyle – the glamorous job in the city, working a minimum of 45 hours a week, and commuting 1.5 hrs each way, whilst going through life as a newlywed and living with (alhamdulillah, very nice and understanding) in- laws. Those from London will know what it means to live, work and commute here. It’s crazy. Believe me, I’ve got it out of my system and that took me only a year!

A sister I know, a medical doctor by profession, faced the same turmoil in the US with their ridiculous residency scheme and she missed out on 3 years of her elder daughter’s life and had to keep a nanny. She also went through her second pregnancy there, where they only provide 6 weeks maternity leave. She somehow wangled 9 months worth of leave, but then had to make up for the extra 7.5 months, which extended her residency further. Post-residency, she’s decided to focus on her kids and her deen. She went on Hajj and she’s come out a better person on the other side, alhamdulillah. She’s not going to stop working altogether as now things are somewhat flexible because the hard bit is over, but the initial stages of your medical career means that you are practically married to medicine which strains your relationship with everyone, including your husband and children.

Amatullah – community social work

I think a majority of sisters who are not married work or have worked part-time or full-time, at least to pay for their school/university.

I’ve worked at the American Red Cross, at a nursing home as an assistant coordinator, as a teacher/tutor and in the pathology lab of a hospital – I loved all of these jobs and alhamdulillah, they were pretty rewarding but as for the idea of working, I don’t think it’s my kind of atmosphere. In my ideal world, I would just be a Qur’an and Arabic teacher for life.

I’m in the social work field now so insha’Allah, I will definitely be doing things for my community and working but it won’t really be because I want to work but rather to fulfill certain needs for the community – insha’Allah.

All the more power to those sisters who are able to go out there and work.

Sadaf Farooqi – a freelancer

I work from home. Since marriage and motherhood, that is. Before marriage, I worked every day of the week at an Islamic foundation as content developer and teacher. So after I started staying at home post-marriage, I can’t tell you how tough it was for me to deal with taunts about “not doing anything” when I was pregnant and sick, vomiting all the time in my first trimester(s). People would say, “You were always so involved” and “You are so talented and you are doing nothing…” etc.

Since the last few years, because of my age bracket, my social circle of female friends has mostly come to include mothers of one, two, or three children. Despite trying admirably to juggle the demands of home and family with an academic and professional life, subhan’Allah, from hearing their candid thoughts, I know that it is definitely not easy. Also, I know many single young women, or those who are married but do not have children yet, and they have openly admitted to me that they prefer staying at, or working from, home, but society pressures them to get out of the house and pursue a job.

The kind of stresses I have known working women to endure; the way they switch from one job to another for one reason or the other; the way they say, “I haven’t yet found what makes me happy”, despite earning a fat paycheck and being provided a car from their office, sometimes makes me wonder whether full-time work is really for every woman out there, Muslim or not. Also, when I recall my classmates’ attitudes in final year of college I remember how gung-ho they all were to jump into the job market as soon as they graduated. It was when marriage and motherhood came along that most of the female ones reassessed their priorities and made some changes in life. Some switched careers eagerly, tired of the stressful 9-to-5 office routine. Others decided to stay at home full-time. Very few were able to go on with a 9-to-5 job after the birth of their babies, even if they wanted to.

Whenever any sister asks me for advice – whoever she may be – I always, always encourage  her to somehow pursue some kind of work even if she is married with little children, but especially so if she is unmarried. There is so much opportunity for Muslim girls and women to contribute to society in permissible ways.

I have come to conclude, with some time, experience, and observation of many sisters’ predicaments after marriage under my belt, that perhaps entrepreneurship or business might suit married women more as a choice of work, as it allows flexibility and also enables them to build a name for themselves by pursuing their innate talents and skills. For example, a childhood friend of mine pursued a successful 9-to-5 finance career until her daughter’s birth. When she started staying at home, she got the time to delve into a hobby: baking gourmet cakes. Within 2 years, she was running her own successful baking business from home, and she is not even thirty!

My Final Thoughts

It seems from the above viewpoints that being a working woman can have its drawbacks, as well as its advantages. Even some of the most organised women find that something has to give, whether it’s the housework, sleep or attention to their husbands. How these women make their choices is truly dependent on what is important to them.

However, one truth must universally be made known – it is not possible to have it all, compromises will have to be made. There is no such thing as Super Woman.

Bushra is a recent Computer Science grad from King's College London and is currently shaking off her newly wedded status. Aside from writing for MM, she vents on her blog: http://bushrabinthashmat.blogspot.com/ Currently working for a global IT firm, she is pursuing various studies, both Islamic and career-related. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she is living the lifestyle of a nomad, jumping from place to place, packing and unpacking and visiting family at the same time. She is an accredited Software Tester. Nevertheless, this won't take her away from writing about Islam and life in general. Amongst all the working, writing and family commitments, she somehow manages to fulfill one of her other, slightly devilish (so to speak!) passions - baking desserts!

75 Comments

75 Comments

  1. Avatar

    iMuslim

    October 1, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    This post was written so long ago… I had to spend some time re-reading it. Once again, I’m impressed by the level of maturity displayed by my fellow MM sisters, masha’Allah! :)

    We’ve also had a few more female associate writers join since then, who are equally as inspiring, masha’Allah.

    Btw, I actually have a job now! No more student life for me. =P

  2. Avatar

    M.M.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    MashaAllah, very well written.

    Its true we cannot have it all, comprimises will have to be made.

    That being said, if everyone pursued what they loved, what they had a passion for then all this compromise will be worthwhile, InshaAllah – whether they chose to work out of the house or work within the house.

    If we don’t then we will be dreading each working day, we will feel miserable and eventually burn out.

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      October 1, 2010 at 8:44 AM

      Absolutely! I 100% agree. I mentioned that in my bit about working the corporate lifestyle in the city.
      I would recharge on the weekends, dread Mondays, push myself through Tuesday and Wednesday, feel burned out by Thursday and absolutely exhausted by Fridays. And the cycle would continue every week for a whole year. Sometimes, I didn’t get to recharge on weekends, because there was something to do or somewhere to go.

      I felt this way because my job didn’t give me any flexibility and I worked through my lunches for something I felt no passion for and felt no particular involvement in my projects.

  3. Avatar

    M.M.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:19 AM

    By the way, the term ‘school’ is referred to in this article. Does this mean high school ( < 18 yrs old) or college?

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      October 1, 2010 at 2:27 AM

      I think it could imply either.

    • Avatar

      Ify Okoye

      October 1, 2010 at 11:42 AM

      No, school means university-level for all the MM’ers, don’t believe we have anyone in high school or less than 18 years old onboard.

      • Avatar

        Daughter of Adam (AS)

        October 1, 2010 at 10:58 PM

        I always wondered whether MM would like maybe a youth perspective.. would they like articles submitted by maybe 15-17 yr olds??

        interesting article :)

        • Avatar

          Amatullah

          October 1, 2010 at 11:00 PM

          of course! please submit inshaAllah :)

          • Avatar

            M.M.

            October 3, 2010 at 5:13 AM

            Sorry guys! From where I come from (Australia) the term ‘school’ is used to refer to primary school and high school ( 5yrs – 18yrs ). After that its university, college etc.

            Thanks for clarfying! Makes sense now :)

  4. Avatar

    Ameera Khan

    October 1, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Masha’Allah, it was nice to read that all over again! You’re right, Sr iMuslim, I’d forgotten what I wrote too.

    Btw, a big FYI here: That niqaabi medical student in the picture is not me! :D

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      October 1, 2010 at 3:35 AM

      i’m glad you said that Ameera – i think ppl would have thought it was you lol :)

      • Avatar

        Ameera Khan

        October 1, 2010 at 3:37 AM

        Exactly! O_0 That was my first concern… I mean, she has shapely eyebrows! I don’t do eyebrows! ;) Lol!

        • Avatar

          Ismail Kamdar

          October 1, 2010 at 3:40 AM

          Good thing you said that, otherwise you might have started receiving proposals from around the world based on that pic! :P

          • Avatar

            Ameera Khan

            October 1, 2010 at 3:46 AM

            Lol! :D Which reminds me, MM hasn’t done a marriage type post recently… *ideas*

        • Avatar

          Not_altering_eyebrows

          October 1, 2010 at 7:45 AM

          Assalamo elikuim
          Just wanted to point out that not everyone who has shapely eyebrows do shape their eyebrow.
          Genetically me and my siblings are blessed with shapely eyebrows and people assume that me(sister) and and my brothers shape our eyebrows!!!

          70 excuses people!!!

          Wasalam

          • Avatar

            Bushra

            October 1, 2010 at 7:47 AM

            Actually, I have to agree with you there!! I’m the same. People think I do my eyebrows, whereas it’s actually genetic, alhamdulillah.

          • Amad

            Amad

            October 1, 2010 at 9:22 AM

            Can we please now have an argument on eyebrows…

            it’s always great to see a perfectly innocent remark hijacked for some muslim bashing :)

          • Avatar

            Ameera Khan

            October 1, 2010 at 9:41 AM

            Actually, my own eyebrows are pretty neat themselves too (Alhumdulillah for that!). :) But yep, beyond a light joke, it wasn’t anything serious. Topic shut, case closed. :)

          • Amad

            Amad

            October 1, 2010 at 10:15 AM

            @ Ameera, I wasn’t referring to u with my comment…

          • Avatar

            Ameera Khan

            October 2, 2010 at 1:21 AM

            @ Br Amad I wasn’t referring to you but to “not__altering__eyebrows”. :)

        • Avatar

          BucketofDreams

          October 1, 2010 at 11:35 AM

          I did think it was you! And I thought “MashaAllah, she looks smart” :D

          • Avatar

            Ameera Khan

            October 1, 2010 at 12:11 PM

            Lol, I think I need to go to the “edit post” page now… :)

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      October 1, 2010 at 6:01 AM

      LOL. I don’t even think she’s a niqabi. She’s a Muslim female doctor with a mask on her face. The mask could mean she’s a surgeon, but the stethoscope implies she may be specialising in general medicine.

      A bit ambiguous, if you ask me.

      • Avatar

        Ameera Khan

        October 1, 2010 at 9:49 AM

        *thinks* True… :) I confess, I have a picture like that myself, with the surgical mask on. *ahem*

        • Avatar

          M.M.

          October 3, 2010 at 5:14 AM

          LOL! I am glad you clarified that Sis! I think many would have thought its you! :P :)

  5. Avatar

    green

    October 1, 2010 at 6:00 AM

    Nicely written article mA – I definitely agree with the point that we shouldn’t expect our sisters to be superwomen! Why make life even more difficult ?

    iMuslim – what line of work are you in and how have you found the shift to working life?

    • Avatar

      iMuslim

      October 2, 2010 at 5:58 PM

      Bioinformatics. I’ve only been ‘working’ for a few days. So far, feels much like studying to me, in that I have a lot of background reading to do. Only prob is that I’ve been travellng into the office every day. I may be able to work more flexibly later in the project when I start the actual coding, insha’Allah.

    • Avatar

      Sarah

      October 2, 2010 at 7:19 PM

      mash Allah for the article.

      Some of these damsels supposed to be best that are available, may Allah protect you, when approached for marriage were immediately not available/ do not approach me/ complained. You can’t have all here in this life. But we still do not have the kind of Yaqeen needed in afterlife and hence you know How it means?

  6. Avatar

    Bushra

    October 1, 2010 at 6:06 AM

    Just a disclaimer on my part too. I don’t work from home 1 day a week anymore. I’m now permanently employed by a global IT company working in one of their offices in the UK.

  7. Avatar

    Zayna

    October 1, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    Very nice!! It was great to read about the ladies behind MM :) Masha’Allah! Made me grin ear to ear on this rainy, dreary Friday morning! Just what I needed with my coffee at work.. Alhamdulilah!

  8. Avatar

    Mansoor Ansari

    October 1, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    My aunts (dad’s sisters) worked as teachers or principals… I think it was not too crazy for them as they went to school with their kids & came back at the same time. And they also got o enjoy the summer brks with their kids :)

    But i do remember them making sure lunch was 90% prepped the nite before, they would come home @ 1:30 pm and serve the family hot meals. Masha’Allah.

    I do think working women r super women as not only do they have to work like men outside but also take care of the house like housewives do… Allahu’Alam how they manage this! But I do think many do loose out on bonding with kids when they r kids & day care raises them for the most part…. if grandparents/aunts can take care of the kids then it’s the best.

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 1, 2010 at 9:58 AM

      Yes, teaching is one job that is seen as more in-line with a growing family’s requirements for the mother being more in sync with the kids’ schedules. Alhumdulillah, there are certain professions that allow this sync-ing much better than other ones. Of course, like you yourself say, it’s still isn’t easy but it’s better than other professions.

      Another point here I’d like to share with the general readership… leaving children with grandparents or other relatives closeby (or in a joint family setup, within the same house) is also an option *for those who have it*. With the increasing trend towards nuclear families in the East and it’s prevalence in the West, it’s not always a possible option. Also, leaving children with their grandparents for extended hours is not a long-term solution either (for children of working doctors, for example). One family I know well encountered issues when the young girl started taking on the mannerisms of her grandmother and her school teacher noticed her acting differently than what was expected for a young, carefree girl her age. The parents were invited over and counselled for the need for the child to be around her parents and young children more, for her complete psychological development. It might be a one-off case but it is a real life example, nonetheless.

      JazaakAllah for your input!

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      October 1, 2010 at 11:07 AM

      But I do think many do loose out on bonding with kids when they r kids & day care raises them for the most part…. if grandparents/aunts can take care of the kids then it’s the best.

      I agree with the first part of this, but not the last.

      I’m a firm believer of mothers raising their children themselves and not using their own parents/in-laws as free babysitters. I’ve seen this case in my own family, and whilst, alhamdulillah, my nieces have come out wonderfully on the other side (they’re in their teens and very good girls, masha’Allah), I do think my own parents, especially my mother and also myself and my sisters did get a little caught up in the ‘babysitting’.

      I enjoyed it, because I pretty much grew up with them, but it was very stressful for my own mother, because she worked (in the afternoons), cooked, cleaned, looked after her other 3 children on top of her two grandchildren and also looked after her own mother. My dad would work, so little or no help there. I was a child/teen and my sisters were at A Level/University age, so my mum went through a lot of stress with our studies too. It took its toll on her and although she is relatively healthy now, alhamdulillah, I couldn’t and wouldn’t do that to her again.

      I don’t resent my eldest sister, because she had her reasons. But, I do believe that grandparents have their own life and they have a right to living their own lives as they should. Plus it takes its toll on their health, both in the short-term and long-term.

      Daycare/Grandparents/Aunts should always be a last resort and only if the parents aren’t able to give their children the time and attention they need.

      • Avatar

        Ameera Khan

        October 1, 2010 at 12:24 PM

        An interesting angle… few talk about the sacrifices the grandparents/parents/relatives have to make for the working mother. It is expected they’d be more than willing to take on the extra work and responsibility. Jazaakillah, Bushra, for sharing your views so candidly!

      • Avatar

        Mansoor Ansari

        October 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM

        I do agree with u at the same time… my comparison was between daycare & grandparents. May b i m being biased as I m not of daycare.

        My sis-in-law drops her children with my MIL and Masha’Allah she takes good care of them but yes it does take a toll on her as now it’s like raising 2 more kids after being done with raising 5. She needs to take a brk & get some rest :)

      • Avatar

        elham

        October 1, 2010 at 7:15 PM

        I agree that we shouldn’t exploit grandparents or the elderly for that matter, but usually when people age they are more prone to being left isolated and not having anyone to converse with or even to sit with,everyone is busy with their lives:school,work,kids and they are often just there in the background,like a shadow.I really hate it when I see them sitting by themselves just due to younger people not having enough in common to share with them. and being somewhat ignored or not *really* listened to when they speak.

        So I feel that bringing kids over to visit or stay with their grandparents makes them feel less left-out of things and as having the chance of helping out at *doing* something for a change as opposed to having everything done for them.It can also recreate weakened bonds between them and their own kids.

        But I strongly believe that parents should not put a burden on them more than they can bear, that would be plain insensitive if not unjust and sinful.

        *Sigh*,sorry for the rant. Its just that everytime I see an elderly I remember my grandmother,the the most funny,intelligent,caring 80+ year-old woman I had ever seen,MashAllah. May Allah protect her and lenghten her life,Ameen

  9. Avatar

    unknown

    October 1, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Mashaa-Allaah it is good to hear that our sisters are getting into so many different fields; however, there is one field in which we are lacking females which is Islamic studies. Female Islamic scholarship is very important. in no way am I trying to say women shouldn’t go into whatever field they want. I just wanted to point it out so that people who have the ability to study Islam may consider it. I do not mean to offend anyone in any way by this comment. if anyone feels this has hurt them in any way please forgive me.

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM

      Oh, why would this hurt anyone? Masha’Allah, what you’re saying is so true… sadly, a lot of people don’t consider this as a valid profession. Ask MM’s Sadaf Farooqi, she left her computers’ education for Islamic academics and people continued to treat it as a transient ‘hobby’ that she’d soon leave for her “real” career.

      Honestly, the best scenario is when you freely choose what you want to be, on your own terms. It’s when we start fearing what people will say and base our career choices on their words, that we lose sense of purpose and motivation.

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      October 1, 2010 at 11:03 PM

      I definitely agree. Unfortunately there aren’t many avenues for sisters to get into Islamic scholarship…It mostly requires them to have a mahram and go overseas.

      • Avatar

        Ayesha

        October 2, 2010 at 2:58 AM

        there’s also Knowledge international university that’s offering Islamic graduation courses online…their website “www.kiu.org”

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      October 1, 2010 at 11:32 PM

      We need to revive Islamic scholarship among women, and I mean true schoalrship, not just a few years of studying basic knowledge. Inshaa Allah, I’d like to see a new generation of women who have mastered Saheeh Bukhari or who can perform Ijtihaad and are taken seriously by us men as authentic scholars.

      They existed in the past, so why can’t we revive this tradition today!

      Join us at bais.islamiconlineuniversity.com to start studying towards your BAIS, your first step towards becoming an Islamic scholar. :)

    • Avatar

      Sarah

      October 2, 2010 at 7:11 PM

      Bayyinah dream is just a way towards filling in that gap in long run inshallah.

    • Avatar

      M.M.

      October 3, 2010 at 5:21 AM

      Good point Sister! I definitely definitely agree with you there.

      But you know how it is in this community (well not everyone of course), when an intelligent sister (you know the type that tops the class etc) says: “I want to do Islamic Studies or something in Islam”, she gets the response of “MashaAllah, your so smart. You know we can do with more Female Doctors”.

      .. SubhanAllah, like there aren’t enough female doctors and the only people that should go to Islamic Studies are those who have ‘failed’ in life and can’t get into any other studies.

      Sorry for the ranting! But Its true unfortunately.

      • Avatar

        Ismail Kamdar

        October 4, 2010 at 8:59 AM

        You are correct in this point, except I have seen this with both males and females. Some Parents prefer their intelligent children to become doctors, and regrad Islamic studies as a last resort.

        Sad cultural fact that needs to be challenged.

        • Avatar

          M.M.

          October 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM

          Yes, but brothers manage to pull through and are able to achieve some sort of Islamic education to equip them for future dawah efforts BUT this is not the case with sisters. That is why we have very little females in this field.

          subhanAllah, May Allah change the mindset of this community.

  10. Avatar

    BintB

    October 1, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    “However, one truth must universally be made known – it is not possible to have it all, compromises will have to be made. There is no such thing as Super Woman.”

    MashaAllah, Love that final thought!
    Thanks for the inspiring article!

  11. Avatar

    Daily Hadith Online

    October 1, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Balancing work, family, and school is a tricky challenge for many people. May Allah help our sisters.

  12. Avatar

    elham

    October 1, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    MasAllah,a great post. I’m actually gladder that I haven’t taken Medicine as a career ,*YES!*. No offense to anyone in this rewarding career path.

    I was very close to doing it because of pressure from my dearest mum.I seriously told her that I would like to not come out of University with grey hairs on my head:8 years! I could see it happening before my eyes:) So to make us both happy I chose to enter the field of pharmacy-still close to medicine and in 4 years,right?,I said. Anything that seeks the advancement of human health is okay with me,just not too long!.

    I do admire the amount of hard work working mothers put into,not just their family and work,but also on trying to keep the balance between them. I just wish that we don’t forget the importance of not missing those important milestones of our future/present kids in their early years,where the presence of the mother is crucial for herself as well.

  13. Avatar

    Ninja

    October 1, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    mashallah, Jazakallah.

    This may seem irrelevant but I felt it necessary to share to the Muslim Men and Woman who love to Blog. Apparently on the CNN News blogs wherever its related to Islam or Muslims I have noticed/patrolling for the last 3 weeks user name by TAQQIYALIES and BARRY77 have been consistently trying to Defame Islam and our beloved Prophet by spreading hatred and byusing foul and vulgar remarks. They have consistently tried to change the perception of ISLAM to the mass public, not surprising I know. There are many blogs out there like that but I have noticed only few people who have stood up to these BIGOTS but not enough from the Muslim side. So here’s your chance to give dawah with peace of course while using knowledge and wisdom to refute there false statements.. My humble request is for those who find interest in blogging please join the CNN blogging and help defend Islam against these Bigots.

  14. Avatar

    Cucumberr

    October 1, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    Love this mashaAllah :) great piece!

  15. Avatar

    Ninja

    October 1, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    To have a better idea of what I am talking about..please read the blog comments to this article…http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/10/01/yemen.child.brides/index.html

  16. Avatar

    n

    October 2, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    a really nice peice.

    when i started school i was totaly into wanting to have a career and kids and family somehow didnt seem to be too relevant or right around the corner.

    during school years, i did some IT work (i majored in computer science) and i even found work with women! That was my thing. I didn’t want to work with men. I told myself I will try my best and make dua to find work with women. And subhanallah that experience just showed me…if u fear Allah and try your best, He will make a way out for u!

    Anyway, after marriage, i had my son right away and haven’t gone back to work. I’m no heavy weight champion that can do it all, even physically. Even though alhamdulillah i got a bachelors so in case i need to ever fall back on it I can , truth be told, I LOVE my life at home.

    I get to read, I get to hang out with pious inshallah sisters. I get to spend quality time with my children. I am totally involved in their islamic and otherwise..education. I am able to bake and make yummy stuff for my family which i think is realy important. They feel taken care of .. want to come home.

    I’m not a frazzled mom trying to juggle 30 things and too stressed out. I have time to look nice.
    I’m a student of arabic (taking classes currently) and Quran and alhamdulilah not having a full time 9-5 job really allows me that flexibility to do whatever I want.

    I feel like even after both my kids are in school, i don’t know if i necessarily want to bind myself into a strict schedule at work. I wouldn’t mind part time .. but i dont know about fulltime.

    Also, another consideration for me is that im not that physically ‘tough’. If I worked fulltime and did stuff at home, i’d probably die the first weekend that came along.

    I get the feeling (where I live) that if u dont work fulltime, yur somehow lazy but honestly, i know how much I do and the value of it. So if other ppl want to feel like working ‘out there’ is more important than giving my children a good stable home life, that is their right. I just don’t feel like that.

    Another thing is that my husband feels like what i do is really important as well for this phase of our life. Sometimes in my vulnerable moments, i’ll ask my husband if he thinks im lazy by not working fultime and his answer is always a resounding NO.

    Alhamdulilah I enjoyed a great childhood. My mom was very educated and was always somehow involved but subhanalalh she always put us first and our home life was great. Very stable. Always good food. Mom available for us to help and talk with anything. Clean house. etc.

    My mom is now a professional in the IT field for more than a decade, has been a dedicated student of arabic for years (after becomign practicing). and she’s always like / look when your kids are young, u need to dedicate your time to the family as much as u can. after wards..u end up with more time on your hands, then u can do other things on the side that fulfill you, and benefit ppl.

    Anyway, I feel like its sad that society pressures you into working at a time that maybe many ppl dont want to. I know many sisters who feel this way and honestly this is what I would say: dont allow society to make you feel a certain way. Do what u want.

    In the future insh’allah i plan on ‘working’ out there parttime perhaps but for now, this is great. alhamdulillah.

    • Avatar

      AS

      October 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM

      Thank you sister for sharing your experience and advice. I am a mom of a 6 month old baby. Although in Canada I get 1 year maternity leave, in my opinion it’s still not long enough. I am trying to now decide whether I should go back to work. Ideally, I would like to be a stay at home mom until he’s ready to go to school but I’m worried about the loss of income, society pressures, family opinion, gap in my employment, etc.

      This article is mashAllah very good. I would love to see more articles/tips on raising children with deen in the West when mom has to work and no relatives to babysit.

      Thanks.

    • Avatar

      Amal

      October 8, 2010 at 4:56 AM

      “I have time to look nice.”

      Well, I’m a full-time PhD student and course instructor, as well as wife and mother and I STILL manage to look very nice, so I don’t know why you would imply that those of us who work/go to school don’t take care of ourselves.

  17. Avatar

    ferdos abdu

    October 2, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    ALLAH WAT A NICE PEISE EVER U REALY CANT IMAGIN SISTERS N BROS HOW AM GLAD Z DAY I SAW ZIS WEBSITE THANK ALLAH ANY WAYS WEN I COME TO MY PIN POINT U GUYS CANT IMAGIN IN WAT SITUATION I HAVE BEEN THROUGH AFTER ALL I DESIDED TO KNW N STUDY ABT MY RELIGION N GET DEEP BUT I COULDNT CUZ NO ZAT MUCH ACSESS IN MY COUNTRY SO AM STILL TRYING ALL MY BEST TO KNW ABT MY RELIGION PLS GUYS I NEED HELP N EVEN WANT TO BE ISLAMIC SCOLAR N I REALY WANT TO ADMIRE AMEERA KHAN ; ISMAILKEMDAR .ELHAM ;BUSHERA N EVERY ONE LET ALLAH BLESS U ALL MUCH LUV .AM NEW BT KEEP IN TOUCH WIZ ME PLS

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 4, 2010 at 12:03 PM

      Jazaakillah khayr, Ferdos! Humbled, for sure, by you mentioning my name… but may Allah guide us all, we are all just his erring slaves… we learn and gain strength from each other.

  18. Avatar

    picless

    October 2, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    thumbs down to that picture….

  19. Avatar

    JOHN

    October 3, 2010 at 1:12 AM

  20. Avatar

    Hena Zuberi

    October 4, 2010 at 1:44 AM

    Salaams
    I loved learning more about my ‘new’ sisters from the MM family. MashaAllah full, vibrant lives dispelling the many stereotypes of Muslimahs!
    iMuslim ten years in Uni wow-
    Ify future home schooling mommy inshaAllah
    Sadaf- 100% relate to the ‘wasting your life’ comments- I got those so much or how people think you are ‘dumb’ because you choose to stay at home.
    Ameera- I feel so much for your dilemma- after so much hard work, hours of studying & sacrifices not to feel the passion is a hard place to be in- hope for you- my buddy just passed her USMLEs after 15 years of marriage- her three kids are 13,12, 9 she kept in touch by volunteering while the kids were in school.
    Bushra- I did the glam job in the city too- spent so much money on suits!! I miss some aspects of working, the satisfaction of job well done, the $ but alhamdulillah if you believe that you will get what is written for you- I stopped working when I was about to have my eldest and Allah (SWT) gave my husband a raise that made up for the loss of my income hasbi Allah
    Yusra- teachers zindabad! (long live) :)
    Thanks for sharing ladies

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

      Jazaakillah, Sr Hena! That’s what I have in mind too, depending on what Allah(swt) Wills for me. :)

      • Avatar

        khaj13

        October 28, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        assalamualaikum…im doing internship now and have thoughts similar to what you had at the time in terms of the long hours required etc…i was wondering what path taken since this post?

  21. Avatar

    Striving

    October 4, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    MashAllah wonderful article!

    I have a question somewhat related to this. How does a sister deal with being more dependent on a man after marriage? I work full-time, am independent though still living with my parents but it’s hard for me to imagine having to depend on someone else since I’ve gotten used to providing and making financial decisions for myself.

    I will be getting married in the near future inshallah and might have to relocate so that means leaving my job and it will probably take some time for me to settle and find a new job in this economy. But even then, I know that after children, the situation changes completely with most women becoming either entirely or almost entirely dependent on their husbands income. Starting a new life with someone is already awkward and challenging so how do you get to the point where you feel okay to spend his money? Or feel like his money is your money too?? I would love it if there could be an article relating the experience of different sisters because I really need some advice.. and any advice now would be appreciated. Jazakumallah khair

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 4, 2010 at 11:59 AM

      . Starting a new life with someone is already awkward and challenging so how do you get to the point where you feel okay to spend his money? Or feel like his money is your money too??

      I am single too and these questions make me wonder too. I don’t know how girls can transition to the new life and, for example, lay their hand on a cool bag while shopping and just go ahead and buy it with the husband’s money! I know husbands are providers but… um… it’s *his* hard earned money and how do you get used to that idea that you can use it? :S I’m sure this a silly question to all the married ladies here but it’s something that makes me wonder!

      • Hena Zuberi

        Hena Zuberi

        October 4, 2010 at 3:44 PM

        depends on the person- it takes time for some- I felt so weird too asking my husband at the beginning but eventually as you get comfortable in your role as his wife, comfortable at home, responsible for making purchases for the home you start seeing it as our money rather than just his money- this can be a slippery slope because we might spend his money for stuff that he would not give us permission for- Islamically it is his money.
        its worse when you have a father who likes to spend on his daughters or has empowered her enough to make financial decisions or if you have worked previously.
        That’s why I think instead of giving useless jewelry, so many clothes and lavish weddings to their daughters parents should give their daughters a source of personal income if they can afford it. This doesn’t have to be disclosed to any one it can be something between the bride’s father and daughter. Women too need to learn to save while they are earning so they will have savings to rely on. Learn to control your spending before marriage, immediately after marriage wait and access your husband.

        And husbands should give her a monthly stipend so she can spend on herself and her friends & family without asking him every time. Money matters can make or break marriages.
        I have other friends who were not so hesitant and thought being supported was a perk of getting married- they started talking “our money” so quickly. Depends on the husband too- just pray that no one gets the type of guy from “Joy luck club” who divided the grocery list because it was his wife’s cat and not his so she should pay for the cat food.

        • Avatar

          Ameera Khan

          October 6, 2010 at 1:19 PM

          Jazaakillah Sr Hena! :) That was excellent advice. My mother kind of gave me a similar answer when I asked her how she had tackled this feeling. :)

  22. Avatar

    Saiyyidah

    October 5, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    Bismillah, this article had raised a really interesting topic of discussion. I am an experienced professional and have a family. The key thing to getting balance and working out what it is that you want is to discover what your motivators and values are. Once you know this then inshaAllah you will know why you work and how you can juggle everything that you want to achieve, inshaAllah. This has really worked for me, now I know how to say no and also know what I will commit to entirely on projects that I am involved in. Wasalaam,

    Saiyyidah,
    Founder Working Muslim.com
    The only Champion for the Working Muslim Woman.

  23. Pingback: C L O S E R » Blog Archive » Closing the Week 40 – Featuring the Re-/De-colonization of the Netherlands Antilles 10-10-10

  24. Avatar

    BintKhalil

    December 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    Sister Bushra

    I was wondering if I may contact you in private. As a fellow female Muslim techie, and one who is just in the process of looking for jobs, I would like your advice on a job-specific question I have. It really won’t take much time, and I would really appreciate your input.

    Jazak Allah khair

  25. Avatar

    shakirah

    January 26, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    pls,am agirl who will like 2 become a doctor,but am aslo cosidering the islamic views about it and also will it not affect as a girl during marrage, pls i want 2 know more and how to cope

    • Avatar

      F

      January 26, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      Assalamu Alaikum Sister,

      My honest advice would be to renew your intentions. Many sisters become doctors thinking it is for the ummah but it is really not. The money and prestige are first and then comes the ummah.

      So renew your intention to please Allah(swt) and then back it up by holding free/discounted clinics for the poor or using your skills to help others. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work for pay but find a balance to help others using your career.

  26. Avatar

    Yasmin

    May 26, 2012 at 4:43 AM

    Salam. My father wants to become a doctor, as muslim doctors are really needed for this Ummah and the muslim females. However, I don’t think this is the career I want to chose, as this can impact on my future roles as a mother and a wife. I want to enter into teaching, but don’t know how to talk to my father about it. Also, in your opinion, what are other careers that muslim females can help the deen in? JazakAllah kheir

  27. Avatar

    student of knowledge

    December 13, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    as salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi,

    All i can feel in the air, is the PRODUCTIVITY :D
    all of us have reached this article coz’ there is a huge amount of passion in our hearts. Both to become responsible mothers and dedicated wives as well as productive muslimahs into variety of fields.
    The only concern i juggle in my mind is the ‘typical constant ideology’ of the people in my community.
    They are mashallah, closely working as regards to maintain family & community. I appreciate and love the bonds that we share. The major concern is about girls higher education. Often an under graduation is seen as a mere name sake coz people cannot be only highschool graduates;as they say!
    and further getting out of college to study is like forgotten, even if wealth time and energy is spent to make engineers and doctors our of talented girls, they are given keys of responsibility which has a tag saying “ok,you may forget about your degree and take the cooking book”

    Here what happens is :
    1] gifted talent destroyed
    2] girls feel low about studying coz’ they forsee it as of no use.
    3] wrong view about islamic rules on marriage ^ education
    4] as mentioned above; islamic studies not considered as an education but a last resort :(

    I have a goal, in sha allah wanna accomplish it for the welfare of the ummah; for now my reach when i say ummah is the community around me, coz i think a whole revival is needed.
    I used to have this high pressured dialogs with elders, which i realise is not right now, I HAVE DECIDED I’LL WORK OUT AND SHOW RATHER THAN TALK AND FADE ! in sha allah…
    Now i ask for dua’ if you are reading this :) now.

    Basically, our aim in life is ibaadah
    we women playing role of homemaker- literally got to make the home :)
    and not to forget our aim of using the skill allah has given us to put it to best use of ummah

    So when we are educating and working’ we must portray our passion towards welfare and goodness
    through our sincere islamic lifestyle
    All of these with intentions that Allah will not let out good deeds go astray :)

    I just shared a scenario what goes on in my city,
    i think sometimes that we girls in our teens need loads of patience to keep focus on our goal and close our ears to what sometimes the elders say; it’s like we respect so we do not want to clarify the point…when the matter gets away from real rights then we speak up..

    now i want to ask my muslim sisters & brothers, if anyone could give me an answer with respect to qur’an & sunnah, providing the texts
    on the issue of ” travelling for higher studies without mahram ” certain courses require us girls to travel out and it becomes difficult since we ourselves wonder if it would be right in decision, keeping aside the self-discipline issue.

    The views of my people is different, may be coz’ of they themselves having not much higer education or insecurity or lack of islamic ilm’
    in sha allah, hoping to make change one day with my action and alhamdulilah by the guidance of Allah and support of my family . :)

    jazakahum allahu khairan
    BAIS student [18years]

  28. Avatar

    zeyna

    October 28, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    inerresting!! I have to write a paper about it. so thank you so much

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Loving Muslim Marriage Episode #7: Islamic Modesty vs. Muslim Shame

Saba Syed (Umm Reem)

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

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Muslims who discuss sex are sometimes met with a call to shame, but if modesty is observed, then is there any cause for such shame? It all boils down to what shame really is, and how it differs from modesty not only in our lives, but also in the lifetime of the Prophet himself ﷺ.

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#Current Affairs

The Duplicity of American Muslim Influencers And The ‘So-called Muslim Ban’

Dr Joseph Kaminski

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

As we approach the beginning of another painful year of the full enforcement of Presidential Proclamation 9645 (a.k.a. ‘the Muslim ban’) that effectively bars citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering into the United States, the silence remains deafening. As I expected, most of the world has conveniently forgotten about this policy, which thus far has separated over 3,000 American families from their spouses and other immediate relatives. In June 2019, the Brennan Center of Justice notes that: The ban has also kept at least 1,545 children from their American parents and 3,460 parents from their American sons and daughters. While silence and apathy from the general public on this matter is to be expected— after all, it is not their families who are impacted— what is particularly troubling is the response that is beginning to emerge from some corners of the American Muslim social landscape.

While most Muslims and Muslim groups have been vocal in their condemnation of Presidential Proclamation 9645, other prominent voices have not. Shadi Hamid sought to rationalize the executive order on technical grounds arguing that it was a legally plausible interpretation. Perhaps this is true, but some of the other points made by Hamid are quite questionable. For example, he curiously contends that:

The decision does not turn American Muslims like myself into “second-class citizens,” and to insist that it does will make it impossible for us to claim that we have actually become second-class citizens, if such a thing ever happens.

I don’t know— being forced to choose exile in order to remain with one’s family certainly does sound like being turned into a ‘second-class citizen’ to me. Perhaps the executive order does not turn Muslims like himself, as he notes, into second-class citizens, but it definitely does others, unless it is possible in Hamid’s mind to remain a first-class citizen barred from living with his own spouse and children for completely arbitrary reasons, like me. To be fair to Hamid, in the same article he does comment that the executive order is a morally questionable decision, noting that he is “still deeply uncomfortable with the Supreme Court’s ruling” and that “It contributes to the legitimization and mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On the other hand, more recently others have shown open disdain for those who are angered about the ‘so-called Muslim ban.’ On June 6th, 2019, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, a Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College, Islamic scholar and the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative, rationalized the ban on spurious security grounds. He commented that,

The so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his potential. But, to be fair, a real Muslim ban would mean that no Muslim from any country should be allowed in the US. There are about 50 Muslim majority countries. Trump singled out only 7 of them, most of which are war torn and problem countries. So, it is unfair to claim that he was only motivated by a hatred for Islam and Muslims.

First, despite how redundant and unnecessary this point is to make again, one ought to be reminded that between 1975 and 2015, zero foreigners from the seven nations initially placed on the banned list (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) killed any Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and zero Libyans or Syrians have ever even been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that same time period. I do not think these numbers have changed over the last 4 years either. If policy decisions are supposed to be made on sound empirical evidence and data, then there is even less justification for the ban.

Second, Bin Hamid Ali comments that ‘the so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his [Trump’s] potential.’ Whoa… hold on; on edge about his potential? For the millions of people banned from entering the United States and the thousands of Muslim families connected to these millions of people, this ‘potential’ has been more than realized. To reduce the ‘so-called Muslim ban’ to just targeting ‘war torn and problem countries’ is to reduce our family members—our husbands, wives, and children—to (inaccurate) statistics and gross stereotypes. Are spouses from Syria or Yemen seeking to reunite with their legally recognized spouses or children any less deserving to be with their immediate family members because they hail from ‘problem countries’? How can one be concerned with stereotypes while saying something like this? Is this not the exact thing that Abdullah bin Hamid Ali seeks to avoid? Surely the Professor would not invoke such stereotypes to justify the racial profiling of black American citizens. What makes black non-Americans, Arabs, and Iranians any different when it comes to draconian immigration profiling? From a purely Islamic perspective, the answer is absolutely nothing.

More recently, Sherman Jackson, a leading Islamic intellectual figure at the University of Southern California, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, also waded into this discussion. In his essay, he reframed the Muslim ban as a question of identity politics rather than basic human right, pitting Muslim immigrants against what he calls ‘blackamericans’ drawing some incredibly questionable, nativist, and bigoted conclusions. Jackson in a recent blog responding to critiques by Ali al-Arian about his own questionable affiliations with authoritarian Arab regimes comments:

Al-Arian mentions that,

“the Muslim American community seemed united at least in its opposition to the Trump administration.”  He and those who make up this alleged consensus are apparently offended by Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.  But a Blackamerican sister in Chicago once asked me rhetorically why she should support having Muslims come to this country who are only going to treat her like crap.

These are baffling comments to make about ‘Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.’ Jackson creates a strawman by bringing up an anecdotal story that offers a gross generalization that clearly has prejudiced undertones of certain Muslim immigrants. Most interesting, however is how self-defeating Jackson’s invocation of identity politics is considering the fact that a large number of the ‘blackamerican’ Muslims that he is concerned about themselves have relatives from Somalia and other countries impacted by the travel ban. As of 2017, there were just over 52,000 Americans with Somali ancestry in the state of Minnesota alone. Are Somali-Americans only worth our sympathy so long as they do not have Somali spouses? What Jackson and Bin Hamid Ali do not seem to understand is that these Muslim immigrants they speak disparagingly of, by in large, are coming on family unification related visas.

Other people with large online followings have praised the comments offered by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali and Sherman Jackson. The controversial administrator of the popular The Muslim Skeptic website, Daniel Haqiqatjou, in defense of Jackson’s comments, stated:

This is the first time I have seen a prominent figure downplay the issue. And I think Jackson’s assessment is exactly right: The average American Muslim doesn’t really care about this. There is no evidence to indicate that this policy has had a significant impact on the community as a whole. Travel to the US from those four countries affected by the ban was already extremely difficult in the Obama era.

What Haqiqatjou seems to not realize is that while travel from these countries was difficult, it was not as ‘extremely difficult’ as he erroneously claims it was. The US issued 7,727 visas to Iranian passport holders in 2016 prior to the ban. After the ban in 2018, that number dropped to 1,449. My own wife was issued a B1/B2 Tourist visa to meet my family in 2016 after approximately 40 days of administrative processing which is standard for US visa seekers who hold Iranian passports. On the other hand, she was rejected for the same B1/B2 Tourist visa in 2018 after a grueling 60+ day wait due to Presidential Proclamation 9645. At the behest of the Counselor Officer where we currently live, she was told to just finish the immigration process since this would put her in a better position to receive one of these nearly impossible to get waivers. She had her interview on November 19, 2018, and we are still awaiting the results of whatever these epic, non-transparent ‘extreme vetting’ procedures yield. Somehow despite my wife being perfectly fine to enter in 2016, three years later, we are entering the 10th month of waiting for one of these elusive waivers with no end time in sight, nor any guarantee that things will work out. Tell me how this is pretty much the same as things have always been?

What these commentators seem to not realize is that the United States immigration system is incredibly rigid. One cannot hop on a plane and say they want to immigrate with an empty wallet to start of Kebab shop in Queens. It seems as if many of these people that take umbrage at the prospects of legal immigration believe that the immigration rules of 2019 are the same as they were in 1819. In the end, it is important to once again reiterate that the Muslim immigrants Jackson, Bin Hamid Ali and others are disparaging are those who most likely are the family members of American Muslim citizens; by belittling the spouses and children of American Muslims, these people are belittling American Muslims themselves.

Neo-nationalism, tribalism, and identity politics of this sort are wholly antithetical to the Islamic enterprise. We have now reached the point where people who are considered authority figures within the American Islamic community are promoting nativism and identity politics at the expense of American Muslim families. Instead of trying to rationalize the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ via appeals to nativist and nationalist rhetoric, influential Muslim leaders and internet influencers need to demonstrate empathy and compassion for the thousands of US Muslim families being torn apart by this indefinite Muslim ban that we all know will never end so long as Donald Trump remains president. In reality, they should be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for American Muslim families. These are the same people who regularly critique the decline of the family unit and the rise of single-parent households. Do they not see the hypocrisy in their positions of not defending those Muslim families that seek to stay together?

If these people are not willing to advocate on behalf of those of us suffering— some of us living in self-imposed exile in third party countries to remain with our spouses and children— the least they can do is to not downplay our suffering or even worse, turn it into a political football (Social Justice Warrior politics vs. traditional ‘real’ Islam). It seems clear that if liberal Muslim activists were not as outspoken on this matter, these more conservative voices would take a different perspective. With the exception of Shadi Hamid, the other aforementioned names have made efforts to constrain themselves firmly to the ‘traditional’ Muslim camp. There is no reason that this issue, which obviously transcends petty partisan Muslim politics, ought to symbolize one’s allegiance to any particular social movement or camp within contemporary Islamic civil society.

If these people want a ‘traditional’ justification for why Muslim families should not be separated, they ought to be reminded that one of al-Ghazali’s 5 essential principles of the Shari’a was related to the protection of lineage/family and honor (ḥifẓ al-nasl). Our spouses are not cannon fodder for such childish partisan politics. We will continue to protect our families and their honor regardless of how hostile the environment may become for us and regardless of who we have to name and shame in the process.

When I got married over a year prior to Donald Trump being elected President, I vowed that only Allah would separate me from my spouse. I intend on keeping that vow regardless of what consequences that decision may have.

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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Obituary of (Mawlana) Yusuf Sulayman Motala (1366/1946 – 1441/2019)

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier.

Dr. Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera

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Dar Al Uloom Bury, Yusuf Sulayman Motala
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A master of hadith and Qur’an. A sufi, spiritual guide and teacher to thousands. A pioneer in the establishment of a religious education system. His death reverberated through hearts and across oceans. We are all mourning the loss of a luminary who guided us through increasingly difficult times.

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. (May the Almighty envelope him in His mercy)

His journey in this world had begun more than 70 years ago in the small village of Nani Naroli in Gujarat, India, where he was born on November 25, 1946 (1 Muharram 1366) into a family known for their piety.

His early studies were largely completed at Jami’a Husayniyya, one of the early seminaries of Gujarat, after which he travelled to Mazahir Ulum, the second oldest seminary of the Indian Sub-Continent, in Saharanpur, India, to complete his ‘alimiyya studies. What drew him to this seminary was the presence of one of the most influential and well-known contemporary spiritual guides, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (d. 1402/1982), better known as “Hazrat Shaykh.” He had seen Mawlana Zakariyya only briefly at a train stop, but it was enough for him to understand the magnitude of his presence.

Mawlana Yusuf remained in Saharanpur for two years. Despite being younger than many of the other students of Shaykh Zakariya, the shaykh took a great liking to him. Shaykh Zakariya showered him with great attention and even deferred his retirement from teaching Sahih al-Bukhari so that Mawlana Yusuf could study it under his instruction. While in Saharanpur, Mawlana Yusuf also studied under a number of other great scholars, such as Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aqil (author of Al-Durr al-Mandud, an Urdu commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud and current head lecturer of Hadith at the same seminary), Shaykh Yunus Jownpuri (d. 1438/2017) the previous head lecturer of Hadith there), Mawlana As‘adullah Rampuri (d. 1399/1979) and Mufti Muzaffar Husayn (d. 1424/2003).

Upon completion of his studies, Mawlana Yusuf’s marriage was arranged to marry a young woman from the Limbada family that had migrated to the United Kingdom from Gujarat. In 1968, he relocated to the UK and accepted the position of imam at Masjid Zakariya, in Bolton. Although he longed to be in the company of his shaykh, he had explicit instructions to remain in the UK and focus his efforts on establishing a seminary for memorization of Qur’an and teaching of the ‘alimiyya program. The vision being set in motion was to train a generation of Muslims scholars that would educate and guide the growing Muslim community.

Establishing the first Muslim seminary, in the absence of any precedent, was a daunting task. The lack of support from the Muslim community, the lack of integration into the wider British community, and the lack of funds made it seem an impossible endeavour. And yet, Mawlana Yusuf never wavered in his commitment and diligently worked to make the dream of his teacher a reality. In 1973 he purchased the derelict Aitken Sanatorium in the village of Holcombe, near Bury, Lancashire. What had once been a hospice for people suffering from tuberculosis, would become one of the first fully-fledged higher-education Islamic institutes outside of the Indian-Subcontinent teaching the adapted-Nizami syllabus.

The years of struggle by Maulana Yusuf to fulfil this vision paid off handsomely. Today, after four decades, Darul Uloom Al Arabiyya Al Islamiyya, along with its several sister institutes, also founded by Mawlana Yusuf, such as the Jamiatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya seminary in Bradford for girls, have produced well over 2,000 British born (and other international students) male and female ‘alimiyya graduates – many of whom are working as scholars and serving communities across the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, the US, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, Saudi Arabia, India and New Zealand. Besides these graduates, a countless number of individuals have memorized the Qur’an at these institutes. Moreover, many of the graduates of the Darul Uloom and its sister institutes have set up their own institutes, such as Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda in Blackburn, Islamic Dawah Academy in Leicester, Jami’ah al-Kawthar in Lancaster, UK, and Darul Uloom Palmela in Portugal, to just mention a few of the larger ones. Within his lifetime, Mawlana Yusuf saw first-hand the fruit of his labours – witnessing his grand students (graduates from his students’ institutes) providing religious instruction and services to communities around the world in their local languages. What started as a relationship of love between a student and teacher, manifested into the transmission of knowledge across continents. In some countries, such as the UK and Portugal, one would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who had not directly or indirectly benefited from him.

Mawlana Yusuf was a man with deep insights into the needs of Western contemporary society, one that was very different from the one he had grown up and trained in. With a view to contributing to mainstream society, Mawlana Yusuf encouraged his graduates to enter into further education both in post-graduate Islamic courses and western academia, and to diversify their fields of learning through courses at mainstream UK universities. As a result, many ‘alimiyya graduates of his institutes are trained in law, mainstream medicine, natural medicine and homeopathy, mental health, child protection, finance, IT, education, chaplaincy, psychology, philosophy, pharmacy, physics, journalism, engineering, architecture, calligraphy, typography, graphic design, optometry, social services, public health, even British Sign Language. His students also include several who have completed PhDs and lecture at universities. His vision was to train British-born (or other) Muslim scholars who would be well versed in contemporary thought and discipline along with their advanced Islamic learning, equipping them to better contribute to society.

Despite his commitment to the establishment of a public good, the shaykh was an immensely private person and avoided seeking accolade or attention. For many decades he refused invitations to attend conferences or talks around the country, choosing to focus on his students and his family, teaching the academic syllabus and infusing the hearts of many aspirants with the love of Allah through regular gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) and spiritual retreats (i’tikaf) in the way of his shaykh’s Chishti Sufi order.

During my entire stay with him at Darul Uloom (1985–1997), I can say with honesty that I did not come across a single student who spoke ill of him. He commanded such awe and respect that people would find it difficult to speak with him casually. And yet, for those who had the opportunity to converse with him, knew that he was the most compassionate, humble, and loving individual.

He was full of affection for his students and colleagues and had immense concern for the Muslim Ummah, especially in the West. He possessed unparalleled forbearance and self-composure. When he taught or gave a talk, he spoke in a subdued and measured tone, as though he was weighing every word, knowing the import it carried. He would sit, barely moving and without shifting his posture. Even after a surgical procedure for piles, he sat gracefully teaching us Sahih al-Bukhari. Despite the obvious pain, he never made an unpleasant expression or winced from the pain.

Anyone who has listened to his talks or read his books can bear testimony to two things: his immense love for the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his love for Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is probably hard to find a talk in which he did not speak of the two. His shaykh was no doubt his link to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in both his hadith and spiritual transmissions.

Over the last decade, he had retired from most of his teaching commitments (except Sahih al-Bukhari) and had reduced meeting with people other than his weekly dhikr gatherings. His time was spent with his family and young children and writing books. His written legacy comprises over 20 titles, mostly in Urdu but also a partial tafsir of the Qur’an in classical Arabic.

After the news of his heart attack on Sunday, August 25, and the subsequent effects to his brain, his well-wishers around the world completed hundreds of recitals of the Qur’an, several readings of the entire Sahih al-Bukhari, thousands of litanies and wirds of the formula of faith (kalima tayyiba), and gave charity in his name. However, Allah Most High willed otherwise and intended for him to depart this lowly abode to begin his journey to the next. He passed away two weeks later and reports state that approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral. Had his funeral been in the UK, the number of attendees would have multiplied several folds. But he had always shied away from large crowds and gatherings and maybe this was Allah Most High’s gift to him after his death. He was 75 (in Hijra years, and 72 in Gregorian) at the time of his death and leaves behind eight children and several grandchildren.

Mawlana Yusuf educated, inspired and nourished the minds and hearts of countless across the UK and beyond. May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaws in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and grant all his family, students, and cherishers around the world beautiful patience.

Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera
Whitethread Institute, London
(A fortunate graduate of Darul Uloom Bury, 1996–97)

*a learned Muslim scholar especially in India often used as a form of address
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