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Parenting Series | Part VI: Sexual Education from an Islamic Perspective

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Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | | Part V (b) | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

It is never easy to talk to the children about sex or sex related issues. In fact, even more difficult is to decide at which age we should educate them about these issues though we must realize that Sex Ed is more than just explaining intercourse to the children, and it may not be as difficult to get to the real topic if we keep taking care of the smaller issues related to it from an early age.

Raising children with Islamic values entails frequent religious discussions at home, including Qur’an and hadeeth studies. I said earlier that it doesn’t have to be at a “scholarly” level, rather, it involves simple studies of the meanings of Qur’anic verses, reading ahadeethbooks, discussing Islamic articles or listening to online lectures, etc.

Prophet (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

Whosoever gives me a guarantee to safeguard what is between his jaws and what is between his legs, I shall guarantee him Jannah.” (Bukhari)

As eager parents for the betterment of our children’s akhirah, we keenly train them in safeguarding what is between their jaws from a very early age, like ensuring that they know the harms of lying, backbiting, hurting others’ feelings with their tongue, and not using offensive words, but we  ignore the same emphasis on safeguarding what is between their legs. We think that shutting down conversation about private parts is sufficient to teach them how to safeguard it. We must acknowledge that the issue of safeguarding private parts is repeatedly mentioned throughout Islamic texts:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ

“And those who protect their private parts” (Mu’minoon: 5)

وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

“…and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard…Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.” (Ahzab: 35)

When children go through these ayahs or ahadeeth, they ask questions and we must be ready to, age-appropriately, answer their questions.

Educating children about their body parts:

Private Zone: From a younger age, around 2-5, children should be taught about their private parts and the necessity of keeping them covered and protected from others. As mentioned before, it is very important to educate them about molestation. Young children need frequent reminders. It may be a good idea to talk to them every now and then about how their private parts are off limits for anyone else and if anyone ever tries to touch them, then they must immediately tell their parent/s.

One of the common misconceptions is to believe that educating or emphasizing the importance of safeguarding private parts will put “ideas” in a child’s mind. A number of parents follow the “don’t ask, don’t tell” methodology. This is not only wrong but is equally harmful. We talk to our children about the perils of talking to strangers or crossing the road, etc. because we realize the dangers of keeping children ignorant about their safety, hence we prepare them ahead of time. Similarly, if this subject is left unexplained, we leave the doors of danger open for our children.

Curiosity: Sometimes children become curious about others’ body parts. If they are not explicitly taught what is expected of them, and especially why, then they cannot be blamed for “experimenting” with their own, their sibling’s, or their friend’s private areas.

Spiritual Hygiene: As we teach them the physical hygiene of their private parts, we must concentrate on the spiritual hygiene also: Tell the children that Allah loves those who protect their private parts, and doing the opposite is pleasing to shaytaan. This can be explained in an age appropriate way. As they grow older, the deeper meaning of the ayahcan be told.

When the discussion about the body parts is kept open from the beginning, it only makes it easier to take it to the next step. As the children grow above 5 years of age, parents should determine according to each child’s level of maturity and circumstances in educating them about more complicated issues. Nevertheless, IF a child asks a question, it must be answered truthfully.

Let us discuss a few commonly asked questions:

  1. What is the difference between a girl and a boy?
  2. Where do babies come from?
  3. Why can’t mommy pray?
  4. How does the baby get in mommy’s tummy?
  5. What is Sex? (a number of questions go under this category) Why do people want to have GF/BF? What is adultery (zina)? Why do people commit adultery? And so on.

Parents, always keep in mind:

  • Tell the truth: Remember babies don’t come from the stork.
  • Keep a smile on your face, but don’t joke around.
  • Make an eye contact; appear confident even if your heart is beating 200 beats/min.
  • Only answer the question; don’t voluntarily offer too much information.
  • Appreciate them for approaching you and not asking anyone else.

I’m going to suggest a few answers for each question. Let’s discuss them in order:

1. What is the difference between a girl and a boy?

Explain the difference between a girl and a boy including the difference between the private parts using whatever names a child may have for their private parts. It is a good time to shortly and age-appropriately drop a line or two about how their bodies are different and that’s why Allah has made them responsible for different tasks in life. They can also be told about how emotionally they are different too, but this explanation may not sink in until after 8-10 years of age. It will help them understand the different roles and responsibilities Allah has assigned to different genders.

2. Where do babies come from?

Draw a small diagram to show a child where babies stay in mother’s womb and how Allah‘azza wa jall has given the mother’s body the capability to pass out the baby through the private parts. They will be surprised and let them be. Explain to them that this is the system Allah has made. Most likely they will ask, “Does it hurt?” Be honest and say, “Yes it does, and that is one of the reasons why Allah has made mothers so special and has ordered children to listen to their mothers and fathers.”

Seize the opportunity to teach them what Allah has asked them as children:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا ۖ وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا ۚ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِي

It is also a good time to encourage them to memorize the du’a. This way, not only have you answered them truthfully, but you also showed them that discussing these issues, in a respectful manner, is not a taboo in Islam as Allah Himself has acknowledged a mother’s difficulty of child bearing.

I remember my son once said, “I am so glad my wife will get pregnant and not I!” I told him to appreciate his wife for going through the difficulty. It is also a good way to start training our young sons to be responsible and kind husbands from an early age.

3. Why can’t mommy pray?

After a certain age, blood passes through woman’s private areas and she cannot pray or fast during that time. Next, explain briefly and in simple terms the biological reason of periods. Make sure you don’t overlap into the topic of reproduction.

If your child asks why you (or someone else) is not praying, please do not give false or tricky answers like, ‘I’ve already prayed’ or ‘I don’t have wudu’, etc.  We have discussed this before that false information is a lie.

When my daughter was around 6, I told her that something happens in a woman’s body and she cannot pray during that time. I explained to her that this is what Allah has said in the Qur’an, and when she is older I would explain to her fully but if she becomes very curious and wants to know then she should ask me. She agreed. Later, once she started readingBulugh-ul-Maram, around 8 years, I explained it to her. I also advised her not to educate her younger sibling about it and that she should keep the discussions/questions between us. However, if she was going to a public school, I would have told her earlier.

Also, this was 8 years ago. Unfortunately, the way our society is progressing, I would not take the same approach with my younger one. Hence I advise if your daughter is around 5 or 6, then educate her about menstruation depending on her level of maturity.

Training our sons to be better caretakers of their womenfolk:

Similarly, explain menstruation to your sons as well. Also, take this opportunity to explain to them the hormonal changes and emotional difficulties that a female goes through at this time. Encourage them to be patient with their mothers and sisters and remind them to be understanding towards their womenfolk’s mood swings. Again, it is a good way to train our sons to be good future husband and care takers of their womenfolk.

Insha’Allah we will continue next week.

Umm Reem (Saba Syed) has a bachelors degree in Islamic Studies from American Open University. She studied Arabic Language & Literature at Qatar University and at Cairo Institute in Egypt. She also received her Ijaazah in Quranic Hafs recitation in Egypt from Shaikh Muhammad al-Hamazawi. She was one of the founders of Daughters of Adam magazine and remained the publishing director until 2007. She had been actively involved with MSA, TDC, and other community activities. She has also been actively involved with the Muslim women of her community spiritually counseling with marital and mother-daughter issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities, including special workshops regarding parenting and issues related to women.

65 Comments

65 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Christine

    May 25, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    Wow, thanks for this!
    I don’t have any children (only 17!) and am not Muslim, but I come from a very religious and traditional background, and to me this sounds like a very reasonable, intelligent and clever way to deal with such an issue.
    There is a nice balance between saying nothing and risking children to find things out from their friends or doing things they shouldn’t without knowing it, and revealing way too much to children who are not ready to find such things out.
    This way the necessary information is conveyed, and children will be able to pick up the right social and moral attitudes about this matter.
    Great piece!

    • Avatar

      Umm Reem

      May 27, 2011 at 4:04 AM

      Thankyou Christine. I am glad you liked this article.

      It is true that we cannot shield children form the society they live and their friends, I believe that as long as the primary education and training is offered by the parents and the communication and relationship is strong enough for children to keep turning back to their parents, it will be easier for them to face many challenges in the real world!

    • Avatar

      Ali

      September 1, 2015 at 11:51 PM

      Indeed sadly kids, nowadays are learning from pornography to deal with this issue which is completely fake and a evil lie. WAKE UP parents, pornography leads to other avenues, even to zina and much worst corrupting the soul . Wake up parents and teach from a young age. Children are naturally curious and the internet is filled with mixed information and do you want your kids watching porn on their computer at the age of 10 or even below!? WAKE UP NOW!

    • Avatar

      mahpara

      April 27, 2016 at 1:50 PM

      I am a teacher in Aps boys .i cant see my students indulged in wicked things .I want to teach them about difference in men and women and how to respect the women as well as how to save from the bad impression of media and net about wicked relations .I got useful way to guide them .

  2. Avatar

    WM

    May 25, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    Salamu `alaykum,

    Just to let you know, there is a response to your previous article floating around online:

    http://www.altmuslimah.com/a/b/rsa/4302/

    Regards.

    • Amad

      Amad

      May 25, 2011 at 7:43 AM

      There’s already a discussion ongoing on Part Vb

      Note, a response to this response is already in, awaiting editorial review.

  3. Avatar

    AnonyMousey

    May 25, 2011 at 8:29 AM

    Kitaab at-Tahaarah, people… best way to educate your kids about, well, everything they need to know on this subject, pretty much.

  4. Avatar

    Coorled38

    May 25, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    I wonder about question number one…point out how emotionally they are different? Seriously? Is this in reference to the “fact” that girls are taught they are emotional creatures unable to think clearly while boys are taught they should just suck it up and man up? If you are teaching this “fact” to your child at this young age it’s no wonder this horrible stereotype still exists.

    I might also add…while teaching your sons to “be patient” with menustrating women’s mood swings…do not teach them that these mood swings result in menustrating women being emotional, scatter brained, and deficient in their religion merely because they bleed once a month. That particular stereotype AND hadith need to go by way of the dinosaur.

    • Avatar

      Umm Reem

      May 30, 2011 at 3:40 AM

      Coolred,

      women are emotionally and physically different from men, it is also proven biologically!

      If boys are given proper tarbiyyah about their role as boys/men (and not left to learn from the “cultural” practices) and taught properly about how females are different (though the reward of good deeds for male and female is equivalent)
      then I”m sure inshaAllah the “stereotyping” will not exist, rather, they will grow up to be kind, loving and respectful men towards their womenfolk, bi idhnihi t a’ala

      • Avatar

        Coorled38

        May 30, 2011 at 4:42 PM

        I agree Umm Reem with everything you said…but the most important word you used in your comment is “if”…a 2 letter word that has such huge connotations and consequences. I raised my boys inside my home to respect and care for females (starting with their own sisters etc and including those they might meet) but then they would leave the house and encounter their culture, in the street, in the mosque, in the schools, that teach them this respect is not needed because males are in charge and females are just there as and when needed by males.

        “If” can only work if there is a concerted effort to make it work….but for the most part…that “if” is ignored while culture and stereotypes prevail.

  5. Avatar

    Haleh

    May 25, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Jazakillah khair for putting so much time and effort in doing this 7 part series on such a critical topic.
    It takes a brave and committed sister masha’Allah to tackle such a challenging subject. I hope that everyone becomes more comfortable about addressing these issues with their children. They truly need our guidance and support.

    Thanks again for your beneficial contribution. BarakAllaho fiki.

    Haleh

    • Avatar

      Umm Reem

      May 27, 2011 at 4:05 AM

      jazakAllah khiar haleh for your kind words! :)

  6. Avatar

    Bintulislam

    May 25, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum!

    I’ve always found this topic a bit treacherous.I am single(21) and definitely have no kids But I do have younger siblings and my mother actually brought us up following the “don’t ask;don’t tell”methodology.It worked for us.But as I see the world and the hazards to which we might subject our youngers to by keeping them in the dark is horrifying.I’d rather talk to my kids about all of that.But again I don’t see why we should actually elaborate the whole story of pregnancy to kids esp. to kids of very young age(I don’t think they need to know that) and also the menses discussion to be held with boys and girls alike.Does sound a bit odd.

    Anyways.It was a good and informative read.:)

    JazakAllah Kheirun!

    -peace

    • Avatar

      Umm Reem

      May 27, 2011 at 4:12 AM

      BintulIslam,

      So what do you suggest should be said when children ask, “where do babies come from” or when they see their mother pregnant with their siblings and ask questions about it? :)

      Or what should be told to sons when they ask why their mother is not praying? OR when they read Qur’an with meanings and go through the verses of menstruation?

      • Avatar

        Bintulislam

        May 27, 2011 at 6:09 AM

        Hmmm….I think we could tell them that they are not praying because they aren’t ‘paak’ (pure) to offer prayers at that time[and I think even the verses use the same vocabulary not the whole endometrium shedding its spongy layer theory every month so that an egg which was released by the ovaries didn’t get fertilized (Kid:what is fertilization?)its the fusion of male sperms and female ova(Kid:how does male eggs get in there?)O_O,now do you really wanna answer that.:).And about the babies,we could say that mothers are the one who bring the babies in this world(keep it simple),we could go in elaboration suitable to that child’s age and understanding and wisely.Avoiding giving them un-needed info(And lying too).Ignoring which might ‘put ideas’ in their mind(like said above)…and is liable to pollute them–and that happens.You see,I remember reading this in an article about ‘Haya’ (it was a long a time ago)and that article described how the sexual desires can be triggered by just ‘the ideas’ in even a human kid(who has not even reached puberty)unlike animals who reach a particular age to have such desires-now you might think I am painting it with a wide brush but there is a possibility.

        I would also like to share that I have SO many aunties,even now 2 of them just had boys mashaaAllah and one is still gestating–I have never even heard the children going into demanding that much detail or even realize that their mom’s pregnant-their general perception is that ”the mommy’s gotten fat” whether you tell them this or not.That innocence is what I would like to preserve. :)

        http://www.abezsez.com/2011/05/nine-months-pregnant-again-alhamdulillah/

        • Avatar

          Umm Reem

          May 27, 2011 at 6:54 AM

          BintulIslam,
          we had this discussion earlier in the series whether educating children about menstruation or reproduction in a pure vulgar-free way will take away from their “innocence”? I don’t think so. Neither, it goes against the definition of haya (read the first few parts of the series)

          I do not believe that telling the children “mother is not pure” is the correct answer. Because, if the mother is not pure then she can find a way to get pure and pray (as there is no excuse not to pray- we teach this to our children from a young age).
          Some children might as, what is ‘being pure’ mean!

          It is a fact of life, when it is told in a matter-of-fact way, children do not get “ideas”, instead they perceive it in a normal way and move on. It is only when we try to make something “suspicious” then they become curious about it.

          And just because you don’t know doesn’t mean your nephews have not asked. :) Most parents have experienced otherwise. And besides, the link you post is from a sister living in Duabi, not in US.

          • Avatar

            bintulislam

            May 27, 2011 at 10:39 AM

            I will definitely go through the previous parts of this series.InshaaAllah:)Till then I stick to my take on haya.:D

            If this post was exclusively for Muslims living in America or other non-Muslim countries then I cannot comment.See I live in Pakistan.:)It would be definitely better for kids to learn about this stuff from their parents than other sources.Which could prove themselves lethal.

            But in case of Muslim countries I guess you could go for what I said earlier.:)

          • Avatar

            umm_ismael

            June 2, 2011 at 2:09 PM

            Aoa, I live in Pakistan and though am 32 and a mother of 2, i still wish that we would not adopt the stay in the dark policy in our country. Globalization has effected every sphere and children are exposed to so much more than at my age. Its good to be natural as ALLAH has created things. When i was expecting and my older one jumped on my stomach, i candidly told him that ALLAH had put a baby in my stomach. And thats how I talk to him now. I said ALLAH only sends the babies that are with Him, once they have a mama and a baba and they become husband and wife.(why?) because they have to take care of the child together. etc etc etc There are ways to tell a child and that is much better than lies- I applaud you for this series – May ALLAH Reward you manifold. ameen

      • Avatar

        Umme Zaid

        April 7, 2016 at 8:51 AM

        I think the main goal is to maintain haya and innocence as long as we can. For example when young kids ask why cant mom pray we can tell them the ayah and hadith that describe it and say that there are days when women can’t pray and that you would explain to them when they are older.
        As far as babies in stomach we can also take the same approach. Allah makes the baby in the stomach and when it is time mom will go to the hospital and baby will come out. Does the doctor have to cut the stomach. Yes sometimes:) We can always say we can explain more once you are older.
        I strongly believe that teaching the kids understanding of the quran and studying ahadeeth from an early age will give them a lot of knowledge without explicitly telling them.
        Being a pediatrician myself I strongly believe that the schools go overboard in teaching kids sensitive topics and details too early leading to unnecessary and sometimes dangerous experimenting. These topics should be taught only by a parent and never in a group setting but rather one on one to maintain the haya so they know that we don’t talk about these topics freely with one another.

    • Avatar

      Apricot

      May 27, 2011 at 3:53 PM

      As-salamu Alaykum,
      Well, as you stated, you do not have children. Just wait until you do, insha’Allah, and they start asking very pointed questions that you cannot possibly escape from. :) Note that this depends entirely on the personality of the child. I grew up as a non-Muslim in the U.S. and never asked my parents anything about this topic and felt very uncomfortable when my mother spoke to me about menstruation. My daughter is also like this and does not like me to broach the topic at all. My sons, on the other hand, ask a lot of very specific questions. They have all been raised in a Muslim country, so that has not stopped them from being curious (despite the fact that they are all very shy). To a point, I agree with not offering too much extra information, but kids have a way of extracting the information they want, and you will have to eventually make a choice: be honest, lie, or brush them off.

      • Avatar

        Umm Reem

        May 28, 2011 at 1:09 AM

        Bintusislam,

        My article was not exclusively for Musims in west. Muslims in Muslim countries also need to read and breakaway from “hush-hush” mentality. The communication is especially needed there because this topic is still a taboo in East and children/pre/teen learn all this, maybe not as early as in the west, but they do but it is all done discreetly.
        I don’t know if parents really believe that their children don’t know or do they chose to turn a blind eye.

        As for haya, I think it is misplaced in pakistan. When it comes to educating the matters of religion, then haya cannot be an excuse, though it must be discussed modestly but what needs to be told, must be discussed.

  7. Avatar

    Saira Andleeb

    May 26, 2011 at 2:00 AM

    I agree with BintulIslam.
    Instead of telling children every intricate detail why cant we tell them only what they can comprehend and digest. Like why not just tell them this much that the baby comes inside of the mom’s tummy and the doctors bring it out. Why the whole diagram thingy? Telling the truth doesnt mean telling every intricate detail… especially to a child of a very young age.

    • Avatar

      Olivia

      May 26, 2011 at 6:44 PM

      Except that the doctors don’t bring it out, the woman does =)

      When I explained this to my girl, I didn’t use a diagram, but I didn’t make any bones about the fact that it does come out of the private part. She doesn’t understand exactly how that happens, but she knows that’s the exit. That’s what most kids want to know–how does it get out of the stomach? Saying the doctors bring it out doesn’t really tell them, because the next question is, “The doctors bring it out of where?” (additionally, the hippy in me doesn’t like the credit being given to the docs =) )

      When we were in Indiana we saw a cow have a baby. It was rather educational. You could tell the cow was uncomfortable, but it dealt with it. I think touching on this subject also helps to eliminate fears of childbirth.

      • Avatar

        Umm Reem

        May 27, 2011 at 4:22 AM

        agreed :)

        Diagrams can be shown/made for older children. I am giving suggestions to parents to get the discussion going.

    • Avatar

      Umm Reem

      May 27, 2011 at 4:19 AM

      Saira,
      And what will you tell children when they ask, ‘and how does the doctor take it out, does he cut your tummy?’

      I agree, telling the truth doesn’t mean telling every intricate detail, but this is a sensitive subject. Yes, I agree that the information should be age and circumstances sensitive (i.e public/islamic schools vs. homeschooling) but this is also a matter where children have “blind” trust over their parents. So if at any point, they find out information which does’t completely coincide with the information given by the parent, then it runs into issues of trust. Parents have to be very careful.

      And lastly, we are living in a hyper sexualized time and society so we have to take a suitable approach. We are no longer in a time where the details could be spared until later.

  8. Avatar

    Saba

    May 26, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    MashaAllah great sereis. Love the “don’t tell them children came from a stork”…LOL
    I was told they came from Allah via the angels…that sufficed for a little while…=)
    Jazkallahu khayir this series is really helpful for us

  9. Avatar

    Coorled38

    May 27, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    And while you are explaining to your children about a Muslim woman’s menses and why she “cant” pray while on it…do you also explain that due to this biological act of her body that she is declared deficient in religion and considered an emotionally challenged child that cannot make coherent choices for a week out of the month?

    Somebody commented higher up that “there is no excuse for not praying”…and yet…here we have one. God tells us that the whole purpose of our creation is to worship him…to pray. The prophet had to haggle 50 prayers a day down to 5 because apparently he realized better than god that humans simply couldnt pray that much and still have some sort of life…but it’s very telling as to how important prayer is to god. In the quran god gives no excuses for NOT praying…merely gives reasons they might be delayed…but then made up as soon as possible….ex sleep, sick, travelling. Muslims are told to pray even if their finger is the ONLY thing that can move to show the physical act of prayer. All of those instances are excuses for delaying prayer…but not for missing it completely. The prayers must be made up ASAP…or in the case of travelling, shortened. But pray you must.

    Prayer is the only thing that stands between Muslims and god on judgement day. They alleviate some of the sins you have done.

    Muslims claim that the menses is a “pollution” or a “sickness” …and yet..being sick does NOT preclude one from prayer. It must still be done to the best of ones ability. Describing the menses as a pollution is just horrible. Biological functions are just that…biological in nature…they are a necessity for the body to function properly. To consider for a moment that god has feelings of abhorrence or disgust towards a biological function of the body he created to do just that is demeaning to god in my opinion. Bringing him down to the level of humanity that find such things cringe worthy or dirty. God says “pray to me”. Period. (pun intended) To claim that god does not accept the prayer of a muslim woman that has blood between her thighs…even though he has established prayer as the ONE thing muslims must do to stay on the straight path…to alleviate sins…to keep in rememberence of him throughout the day…to wake up from warm beds…to stop whatever one is doing throughout the day…prayer is essential to muslims….but then muslims turn around and say…even though we have all of these words from god telling us how important prayer is…how we are meant to do it no matter what…how leaving prayer is like leaving the religion…one simple ayat in the quran is taken up and held as a banner as to why women are dirty, polluted, and deficient in religion and cannot pray for one week of the month for the whole of her life once puberty is reached. One ayat…that doesnt even state she cannot pray…it merely says dont have sex with her as it could harm her (possibly assuming that if she doesnt feel harm..then its ok?)

    Since there is no stated punishment for prayer while on your menses (after all…who would know you are except for god anyhow) then I would go ahead and pray. If god doesnt accept it…you havent lost anything…but if muslim clerics have pulled a big one over the eyes of muslims…convincing them that women cannot pray while on her menses simply because she is a walking pollution…in an effort to reduce her to a deficient emotionally incapable child for much of her life…I would be outraged and take matters into my own hands and pray anyways. It is completely up to god to accept or reject your prayers in the end…nothing to do with what or how muslims feel about it.

    • Avatar

      Apricot

      May 27, 2011 at 3:43 PM

      Coorled, Are you a Muslim? Are you a woman? It is hard to respond to your post without understanding your background.

      A Muslim woman can still make supplications to God while menstruating but not take part in ritual prayer.

      It is a huge blessing not to have to make ritual prayers during that week of the month as one is usually very tired and needs the rest.

      • Avatar

        Coorled38

        May 27, 2011 at 5:47 PM

        Apricot….what does my religious status or gender have to do with what I have written? The prophet said…judge the message…not the messenger.

        As for it being a huge blessing not to make ritual prayers for that week…once again you are likening the menses to a sickness…in which case…even the sick have no excuse for not praying..merely delaying for a period…or reducing the actual motions to something more comfortable.(even just moving your lips)..but there is no excuse for actually stopping prayers while sick unless in a coma or something.

        Anyone can make supplications to god at anytime anywhere…but they are not prayer…they are basically mini messages…or text messages to be down with the slang. Prayers are a must and there is no excuse for a muslim to miss them. Period.

        I also find it interesting that muslim women cannot fast for ramadan either…yet missed fasting days are to be made up…but not the missed prayers. Why this descrepancy? Both are pillars of islam…both are enjoined on all believing muslims…yet one is completely disregarded for muslim women on her menses and the other is stopped…and made up later. How has this become acceptable islamic practice when god mentions many many MANY times in the quran that prayer and fasting are a MUST at their prescribed times.

        • Avatar

          Umm Reem

          May 28, 2011 at 1:27 AM

          Coolred,

          The laws of Islam are not derived only from Qur’an but from the ahadeeth also. Hence, though it does’t say anywhere in Qur’an to not fast/pray during menstruation, the Prophet sallallahu alihi wasalm had ordered Muslim women to do so:

          ‘Aa’ishah said: “We used to menstruate at the time of the Messenger of Allaah, and we were commanded to make up the fasts, but we were not commanded to make up the prayers.” Agreed upon.
          The one who commanded them thus was the Prophet, sallallhu alihi wasalam. As he, sallallahu alihi wasalam said: “Is it not the case that when one of you menstruates, she does not pray or fast?…” (al-Bukhaari)

          Having said that, we do not believe that menstruation is a way of undermining Muslim women’s faith. Maryam (as), Khadeeja, Fatimah, Aisha (radiAllahhunna) all menstruated but all the men of our times put together cannot claim to have better/more iman than them…

          The reward of the good deeds is given equally to men and women without any discrimination. We are not allowed to pray during menstruation and inshaAllah we will be rewarded for submitting to Allah’s Will and obeying His orders. I take it as a Mercy from Allah.

          • Avatar

            Coorled38

            May 28, 2011 at 12:27 PM

            I dont expect everyone to agree all the time…not really my intention to change anyones mind. Im pointing out things and asking questions, but with the huge controversy surrounding hadith…I have no idea why you (any you) would accept hadith that clearly make something forbidden that god did not within the quran. This is similar to the stoning law…it is not in the quran while clearly stating that lashing is the punishment given…yet muslims accept the idea that stoning is the required punishment simply because hadith say so. You would think god would have managed to slip in an ayat or two declaring this horrible punishment in there somewhere. The same with fasting or praying while on her menses…why not actually put those words in there? If god can bother himself to mention no sex while on her menses…why not add a couple more words and say no fasting or praying either. Simple, direct, and no ambiguities or discussion or reliance on nonreliable hadith.

  10. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    May 28, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Coolred – the Qur’an instructs us to heed the Sunnah and Ahadeeth.

    “Wa atee’ Allaha wa atee’ ar-Rasool…” – And obey Allah, and obey the Messenger

    The words of the Messenger of Allah were not from his own desires, but were revelation (there’s an aayah for this as well).

    Over 1300 years of Islamic sciences and scholarships, from the science of Qur’anic aayat (e.g.those which were abrogated from recitation but not practice) to the sciences of hadith (authenticity of every chain of narration, evaluation of every narration’s legal implications, etc.) cannot just be thrown out the window and ignored or labelled “false.”

    • Avatar

      AnonyMouse

      May 28, 2011 at 2:52 PM

      “Wa maa yantiqu ‘anil hawaa/ illaa wahyun yooha” – Surah an-Najm; He doesn’t speak from his own desires, but rather it is revelation.

      Coolred, before writing off the Sunnah and ahadeeth, please do your research! The skewed interpretations of ahadeeth do not warrant disregarding them entirely.

      • Avatar

        Coorled38

        May 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM

        I did not ever claim they should be disregarded completely…I merely said they could not forbid or require something unless the quran does as well. They are meant as back up…not replacement. If they are forbidding something which the quran does not…then they are a completely different set of rules and obligations contrary to the quran…they are not backing it up but rewriting or adding law where there was none.

        • Avatar

          Coorled38

          May 28, 2011 at 3:26 PM

          As far as not “speaking from his own desires…” the word used there is “revelations”…when the prophet was revealing ayats then he was in his prophet mode…so to speak and thus…not speaking his own words. However, when not in prophet mode (revealing revelation) the words coming from his mouth are his own. Regardless of whether he is explaining, directing, ordering, thinking out loud etc…those are his own words…not revelation. He might be referring to the quran while directing, ordering, thinking out loud etc, but still, his own words.

          hadith are other people hearing him, seeing him, hearing about him etc and thus, unless he is in his revealing revelation mode (prophet mode) then they are hearing his own words…seeing his own actions. If there is no forbidding of prayer or fasting in the quran for muslim women…and the prophet comes out and says it is forbidden (while he has no right to do so) then those are his own words, his own directives, his own rules…how can they be revelation when the quran is the revelation…hadith or sunnah are secondary sources that are meant to support the First and Only source of revelation…the Quran.

  11. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    May 28, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Related to the discussion:
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/gender-and-schooling/201105/blogging-lgbt-families

    They’re introducing the concept of gays, lesbians, and bi/transsexuals from Kindergarten!

  12. Avatar

    Coorled38

    May 28, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Anonymouse…Obey Allah and obey the messenger”….why do you (any You) assume that means that every word that is uttered by the prophet is religious in nature or straight from god etc? Are we to assume the prophet was never just a man uttering his own thoughts and opinions but always always a prophet who had no ability to say anything other than what he was told too? In other words, was he only a prophet, or sometimes a prophet while revealing prophetic things…and an ordinary man at other times?

    Obey the messenger means to obey him in matters pertaining to the quran…if there is guidance in the quran and the prophet relates to it, or instructs on it etc then obey him because essentially you are obeying the directives in the quran…but if he is speaking on his own giving his opinion about personal feelings (such as what he liked to eat or didnt like…there are hadith on that too) does that mean Muslims should avoid what he personally did not like to eat etc?

    The prophet could not forbid what god did not forbid…he couldnt allow what god did not allow…and what he was silent on muslims should assume the best about it and go from there. God does not mention prayer or fasting being forbidden in the quran…why are muslims to assume hadith forbidding that are viable when they are forbidding something god did not forbid? They are in direct contradiction to the quran and gods directive to pray and fast for every capable muslim at it’s prescribed time. No excuses. Period. I dont understand why that is such a hard concept to het past.

    Yes…you can ignore 1300 years of “false” science” of hadith etc if they are in direct contradiction to the quran. Scholars of the past use to say…my words are put out there with the best of intentions but if I am proven to be wrong then dont follow what I have said. Now days….the catch phrase is…scholars said it so it must be true. End of story. Scholars also declared the world flat and when one man came along and tried to claim otherwise they ordered his death…even though the accepted concensus was that the world was flat but evidence pointed to the contrary.

    Put simply, there is simply no reason to forbid muslim women from prayer and fasting while on her menses. Because she has blood between her thighs? Really? This makes her impure or sick or needing mercy from god? Why? Why do we assume humanlike qualities towards god regarding women in finding them impure or sick or needing his mercy for something he supposedly created within them? Why not show mercy for muslim men who must work all day and take care of family at night and require him not to wake for fajr prayer because of his exhaustion? Why is this mercy selective in this regard?

    A sick person, a truly sick person that requires medication, rest, care…still must pray…even just to move a finger or lips…and the only mercy shown is that the physical movements can be reduced…yet a woman on her menses is forbidden to pray at all. And while women do experience discomfort, pain, weakness etc during that time…they are not sick (many women can go about their day with no discomfort or inconvenience at all)…yet why the disparity in this mercy of god? Sick muslims should still pray but menustrating women cannot?

    • Avatar

      Inqiyaad

      May 30, 2011 at 12:26 AM

      @Coorled38
      Amazing logic! You state that, “To consider for a moment that god has feelings of abhorrence or disgust towards a biological function of the body he created to do just that is demeaning to god in my opinion. Bringing him down to the level of humanity that find such things cringe worthy or dirty.”

      How about this? ‘Humans have invented sanitary products because they find it cringe worthy and dirty. Humans look down on people who do not pay attention to sanitation and hygiene. But God (according to your argument) is less elegant than humans to declare it as dirty.’

      This is where revelation comes in, to separate ‘notion’ from reality. Because if it were up to humans and the flawed logic of some, they would put Him down like you did and still claim to be glorifying Him.

      While you are at it, you would want to check up a dictionary and find that ‘sanitary’ is synonymous to ‘unpolluted’.

      You wrote, “one simple ayat in the quran is taken up and held as a banner… One ayat…that doesn’t even state she cannot pray…it merely says dont have sex”

      Attention all, welcome the authority on Islam ‘Coorled38’ and be all ears! Seriously, where do you get that this is the aayah that is used to exempt women from praying. Your bedazzling competency at exegesis (or lack of it) is only matched by your courage at spouting out this ignorance!

      Yes, Muslims cannot miss a prayer that has been obligated upon them. Prayer is not obligated during menses. I really don’t understand why that is such a hard concept for you to register. Oh, let me also try the pun you used. Muslims do not believe that menses are a sickness. Period. Ritual purity (as per Islamic requirements) is a precondition to prayer. The Prophet said that this is not achievable during menses and so the prayer is waived. End of discussion!

      You seem to be trying too hard to peddle the idea that ‘if it is not mentioned in the Qur’an then there is no basis for it, even if the Prophet has clearly ordered/prohibited it and it has been recorded meticulously and beyond any doubt.’ UmmReem and Anonymouse have already directed you to the authority of the Prophet and Hadith. Simply put, Quran is from Allah but, so is the Messenger from Allah.

      For now, I will just point out the inconsistency in your argument. For the sake of argument, I will accept your ‘text message’ analogy. But if your analogy is acceptable, where did we get the ‘email’ format from that you are encouraging women to use instead of the ‘text messages’? The Qur’an does not describe the template and even punctuations that are used in the framing of this ‘email’ format that you are talking about.

      It is clear that it is you who is trying to pull a fast one here, and not the Muslim clerics.

      Your claim that it is alright to disobey the messenger and go ahead and pray during one’s menses is outright ignorance and can have serious repercussions. The punishment could actually be very severe according to the degree one’s obstinacy.

      Since you are such a fan of depending only on the Qur’an, consider this:
      i. Surah: 4, Ayah: 150
      “Verily, those who disbelieve in Allâh and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allâh and His Messengers (by believing in Allâh and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, “We believe in some but reject others,” and wish to adopt a way in between.”
      ii. Surah: 11, Ayah: 59
      “Such were ‘Ad (people). They rejected the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord and disobeyed His Messengers, and followed the command of every proud obstinate (oppressor of the truth, from their leaders).”

      The crime of the nation of ‘Ad was two fold. First they rejected His Ayat. In the case of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), one of the Ayat would be the Quran. Second, they disobeyed the Messenger. Anyone who disobeys Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is falling into this second crime.

      So when it is mandatory to follow the Prophet (peace be upon him), it makes sense you record his statements and watch his every move. That is exactly what his companions did.

      You seem to have a pretty clear picture what God should and should not be. What He should order and what He should not. Go ahead and fabricate your own god. Or may be you already have materialized your god in the form of your desires!

      • Avatar

        Coorled38

        May 30, 2011 at 2:02 AM

        Inqyaad..”How about this? ‘Humans have invented sanitary products because they find it cringe worthy and dirty. Humans look down on people who do not pay attention to sanitation and hygiene. But God (according to your argument) is less elegant than humans to declare it as dirty.’”

        I did NOT say that god finds such things dirty…I said that Muslims want to enforce the belief that he does by forbidding women from prayer while on their menses because they are dirty…or impure. I said…this gives human like feelings or qualities to god that does not exist. He is above such things.

        Wow..as for the rest of your comment…I do not fabricate anything…I have spent years among Muslims whose very existence is spent on distorting, fabricating, and inserting into Islam what isnt there. I have no desire to do so simply because it’s too time consuming and I have better things to do with my time.

        OBEY the prophet does not mean to write down and follow every minute action, thought or word he spoke…what..are we robots who are programmed to act exactly like another human being without choice? Without deviation? OBEY the prophet is meant in regard to what he reveals of the Quran. The Quran itself says nobody and that means NOBODY can make forbidden what god did not…or allow what god did not…but here you are saying the prophet had that right and did so…by forbidding women to pray on their menses when god did not. That makes no sense to me…and if that makes me arrogant or all knowing then that is YOUR opinion. God tells me nobody has that right…and who should I believe….YOU…the consensus of muslims who have granted the prophet this authority he doesnt have…or god?

        I havent made a “clear picture of what god is or isnt…what he can order or not” etc…where have I said this? I am speaking of how muslims have given the prophet authority to do what he simply had no right to do. (whether the hadith is correct and accurate is something else beside the point)

        If I were to pray during my menses…in open (well personal) defiance of what you claim the prophet ordered (or forbid) who would know? You? Clerics? the Prophet? NO. The only one who would know is god…and god should be the only one that knows because any prayer that I perform is for god and myself…not muslims. So the absence or presence of my menses has nothing to do with anyone else but ME. Why so freaking hostile about this issue? Why do muslims get so darn touchy about a Muslim womens pure or impure state while praying…whose business is it anyway her state of purity or impurity except her own?

        • Avatar

          Inqiyaad

          May 30, 2011 at 1:12 PM

          @Coorled38
          That is exactly my point and I repeat, “This is where revelation comes in, to separate ‘notion’ from reality. Because if it were up to humans and the flawed logic of some, they would put Him down like you did and still claim to be glorifying Him.”

          Again, you are trying to peddle this idea that it is only the Qur’an that we are supposed to follow and disregard the prophet. Anonymouse, UmmReem, Apricot, Julz and myself have pointed out to you that what you want us to believe is not true. In fact, the Qur’an itself, the authority of which you cannot begin to question, obligates the obedience of the prophet.

          Instead of responding to those arguments, you told UmmReem that you are aware of the arguments. And then, you turn around to spout the same ignorance. Considering this, the only argument you are putting forth is, “Coorled38 has ignored those arguments. Therefore, they are invalid.”

          Not to mention the inconsistency of your argument, as I pointed above. The bone of contention for you is, “why can/should women only supplicate and not do the actual ritual ‘full’ prayer when nothing in the Qur’an prohibits them.” And my point was, where from did you get the structure of the “actual, full, ritual prayer”? The answer is, the Prophet!

          I would suggest that you go back and read the article by UmmReem and try to see if you agree or disagree. If you agree then it is good. But, if you disagree then you could share the specific reasons for your disagreement with specific arguments and then we could begin to talk. You might also want to consider the following in case they are not mentioned in UmmReem’s article.

          i. Surah: 4, Ayah: 80
          “Whosoever obeys the Messenger, indeed he has obeyed Allah. As for those who turn away, We have not sent you to be their protector.”
          ii. Surah: 3, Ayah: 50
          “Likewise confirming the Torah that has been before me and to make lawful to you some of the things you have been forbidden. I bring you a sign from your Lord, therefore, fear Allah and obey me.”
          iii. Surah: 53, Ayah: 2-3
          Verse 2: “your companion (i.e Muhammad, peace be upon him) is neither astray, neither errs,”
          Verse 3: “nor does he speak out of desire.”

          iv. Surah: 3, Ayah: 31
          Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allâh then follow me, Allâh will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

          What the prophet speaks (even apart from Quran) is not out of desire, but rather guidance from Allah. When he orders something, it is obligatory and there is no scope for missing what he has ordered, and vice versa with prohibitions. The default is to follow the prophet in whatever he does, unless there is evidence that it is specific for the prophet. Anyone who denies this has fallen into disbelief as mentioned in the ‘Quran’. For example:

          i. Surah: 4, Ayah: 150
          “Verily, those who disbelieve in Allâh and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allâh and His Messengers (by believing in Allâh and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, “We believe in some but reject others,” and wish to adopt a way in between.”
          ii. Surah: 11, Ayah: 59
          “Such were ‘Ad (people). They rejected the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord and disobeyed His Messengers, and followed the command of every proud obstinate (oppressor of the truth, from their leaders).”

          Personally, you can do what you want to do and then deal with Allah on the Day of Judgment. But if you want to come on to this forum and tell us what our religion dictates or does not, all the while ignoring the very Qur’an that you profess to bear as a standard, then yes, I am freaking hostile to this attitude. Very much like you are to the authority of our Prophet sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, or may be even more.

          • Avatar

            Coorled38

            May 30, 2011 at 4:02 PM

            Nowhere did I say disregard the prophet…I said you (any you) are giving him authority he simply did not have. He cannot allow what god forbid or forbid what god allowed. Simple. You would have to assume that if women were forbidden from praying while on their menses then god would mention it right along with the ayat about not having sex with them. Why leave it out and then rely on hadith to forbid it when there was never any gaurantee that those hadith pertaining to a woman’s menses would ever had stood the test of time (been written and remembered etc). Why would god leave something as important as women having this excuse, reason, mercy for not praying to hadith to inform us when putting a few words in the quaran would have been the more logical choice…and god is the most logical, right?

            I am not blaming the prophet, accusing him, or anything else..hell I dont even believe most of the anti women hadith he is proported to have authority over….if you read my post clearly I am saying that Muslims have given him authority to order things that god did not give to anyone…not even prophets.

            And yes…when it comes to my menses I will do as I please because it is a personal issue that is between me and god…Muslims as a whole should have nothing to say about a women who prays on her menses because it simply isnt there business what state she happens to be in while praying. As I mentioned…who the heck would know her state anyhow except for her and god?

        • Avatar

          Inqiyaad

          May 30, 2011 at 5:01 PM

          @Coorled38
          “He cannot allow what god forbid or forbid what god allowed.” Agreed! I will add that he would never ever do it.

          What others and I are saying is this, “whatever he (the prophet) forbids or allows, God has forbidden or allowed it, respectively. God has given the Prophet that authority.”
          Why don’t you just go ahead and refute those verses from the Qur’an that I quoted and/or UmmReem’s article, piece by piece. Don’t you think that you are denying the very Qur’an, which is so dear to you?

          You wrote, “if you read my post clearly I am saying that Muslims have given him authority to order things that god did not give to anyone…not even prophets.” Please tell us what is your understanding of these statements from the Qur’an, “Whosoever obeys the Messenger, indeed he has obeyed Allah”, “fear Allah and obey me”, “If you (really) love Allâh then follow me”

          Again, the bone of contention for you is, “why can/should women only supplicate and not do the actual ritual ‘full’ prayer when nothing in the Qur’an prohibits them.” And my point was, where from did you get the structure of the “actual, full, ritual prayer”?

          Please show us the verses from the Qur’an that describe the ‘actual, full, ritual prayer’ in detail. Afterall, God has allowed the “actual, full, ritual prayer” in the Qur’an and Muslims are playing spoilsport by placing restrictions!

          As to why God did not do something or do something a certain way, I repeat, “You seem to have a pretty clear picture what God should and should not be. What He should order and what He should not. Go ahead and fabricate your own god. Or may be you already have materialized your god in the form of your desires!”

          Do what you please, but don’t come here and tell us that this is what God wants from us, without evidence, while pretending how important the Qur’an and Allah are to you. Just blabber!

          • Avatar

            Coorled38

            May 31, 2011 at 9:40 AM

            I answered in another comment to Julz how hadith hardly play a role in teaching Muslims how to pray. It is commong knowledge that Muslims learn by watching other Muslims…NOT by reading hadith.

            Obey the prophet in what he says according to the quran on what god already said. In other words…when he is explaining, relating, revealing the quran then you must obey THAT. Because to obey him is to obey god..gods words, orders, instructions etc. Once again, not every word that came from his mouth was revelation. Not a hard concept to understand.

            As for rendering my comments as “blabber”…the one thing that turns off people from discussing anything with Muslims is how they will quickly resort to name calling and childish bullying tactics such as that. If I am wrong or misguided…then say so…I dont mind. I dont profess to be perfect but I can and do have opinions about a great many things. Not all of them agree with the consensus…so what…so Im just a blabbering female now?

            It’s a pity that “preach with beautiful words” is only used on the people that agree with you…the ones that dont actually need “convincing”..eh?

        • Avatar

          Inqiyaad

          May 31, 2011 at 11:41 PM

          @Coorled38
          Let us look again at your arguments vs that of UmmReem’s, Anonymouse’s, Apricot’s, Julz, and mine.

          According to us, Allah has exempted prayers during menses because the prophet said so.
          Vs
          According to you, Allah has not prohibited the “full, actual, ritual prayers” as the prohibition is not mentioned in the Qur’an. In other words, there is no statement in the Qur’an that qualifies the obligation of “full, actual, ritual prayers”.

          With regards to this argument, I had asked you, where in the Qur’an is the description of the “full, actual, ritual prayers”, in the first place? Because, according to you nothing has been left out from the Qur’an, for the prophet to dictate.

          Others and I are still waiting for you to enlighten us about this?

          On the flip side, about the authority of the prophet

          We said, obey the Prophet because Allah said so in the Qur’an.
          Vs
          You say, obey the prophet is qualified by….

          The numerous verses quoted in UmmReem’s article and above in my comments and that of others, supporting the authority of Prophet are absolute statements. But where from did you get that qualifier? Please share with us the specific qualifiers for specific verses that have been quoted.

          If you cannot address this by quoting from the Qur’an then we are left with, ‘because Coorled38 said so’.

          As for your statement, “…how they (muslims) will quickly resort to name calling and childish bullying tactics such as that…”, Does calling someone ‘freaking hostile’ and ‘darn touchy’, as you did, fall into this category of ‘childish bullying tactics’? And who beat the other at doing that?

          Also, it is interesting how your understanding of ‘blabber’ starts as that of an adjective describing your comment (for rendering my comments as “blabber”) and by the end, it transitions into a ‘blabbering female’.

          If you go back and read my comment in context, you will figure that I had highlighted ‘without evidence’ in the previous sentence. So it is your comments that seem blabber to me. Not because you disagree with me. But because you have been writing quite a bit, without a single bit of evidence to back up your statements or trying to refute the evidence presented by so many of us here!

          وَيُجَادِلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِالْبَاطِلِ لِيُدْحِضُوا بِهِ الْحَقَّ وَاتَّخَذُوا آيَاتِي وَمَا أُنذِرُوا هُزُوًا

          “but the Unbelievers dispute with vain argument, in order therewith to weaken the truth, and they treat My Signs as a jest, as also the fact that they are warned!”

  13. Avatar

    julz

    May 30, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    Coolred,

    Both QURAN and Hadiths should be guidance for all muslim. In the quran we are instructed to do our prayers (sholat), but the practice and the details on how to perform sholat is in the hadiths.

    • Avatar

      Coorled38

      May 30, 2011 at 4:36 PM

      julz…if a new convert was to come up to you today and ask how to pray…would you give them a book of hadith and say read that…it will tell you all you need to know about prayer…or would you take them to the mosque and show them the how to pray. Show them the physical aspects of prayer along with the words that should be spoken?

      I want to know of any muslim out there, whether it be a parent, friend, imam, what have you…that gives a book of hadith to teach someone how to pray. Nobody does that…they SHOW them how to pray with physical movements and possibly a booklet on ayats that can be spoken etc.

      Pray as you SEE the prophet praying…Muslims, for centuries, have watched other muslims pray in order to learn how to perform prayer. Nobody reads a book of hadith to learn how to pray. Not to mention, hadith are a haphazard collection of sayings about what someone saw the prophet do, how many rakats, what he might have said during a particular prayer etc…they are by no means a concerted collection of step by step instructions on HOW to pray. You will not find that anywhere in hadith. If you want to use hadith to learn how to pray you would have to go through them…pick out a collection of them that touch on every different prayer (and some have way more than others) and piece together a picture on how to pray and what to say based on them. Very complicated and nobody bothers to do that.

      So then why use this absurd excuse that we need hadith to teach us to pray when obviously muslims do not use hadith for that purpose. Muslims watch and learn. Period. If muslims across the planet stopped praying wholesale…not another prayer was performed for…say two generations (to allow forgetfullness) THEN quite possibly hadith would be useful in this regard to kick start the art of prayer again…other than that…hadith as a source of learning how to pray makes absolutely no sense.

  14. Avatar

    Umm Reem

    May 30, 2011 at 3:33 AM

    Going back to the content of the article:

    Here is an interesting read (from islam-qa) on teaching boys about menstruation and the women not hiding the fact, from their maharim, that they were menstruation:

    It was narrated from Kurayb the freed slave of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas told him that he stayed overnight with Maymoonah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who was his maternal aunt. He said: I lay my head on the end of the pillow and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his wife placed their heads on its side. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) slept until midnight, or shortly before or after, then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) woke and started to rub the sleep from his eyes with his hands. Then he recited the last ten verses of Aal ‘Imraan…
    Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4571; Muslim, 763.

    Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This indicates that it is permissible for a man to sleep alongside his wife without being intimate with her in the presence of one of her mahrams, even if he has reached the age of discernment. Al-Qaadi said: In some versions of this hadeeth it says: Ibn ‘Abbaas said: I stayed overnight with my maternal aunt one night when she was menstruating. Even though the isnaad of this version is not saheeh, it contains a very interesting idea, because Ibn ‘Abbaas would not have asked to stay overnight on a night when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) may have wanted to be intimate with his wife, and his father would not have sent him there unless he knew that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would have no need to be intimate with his wife – because it is well known that he would not have been intimate with her when Ibn ‘Abbaas was there sharing the same pillow with them and he was watching to see what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did, and he did not sleep or he only slept a little.

  15. Avatar

    Muslimah

    May 31, 2011 at 4:20 AM

    My daughter is almost nine, and my son is seven, and these questions, of course come up.

    Every year, probably until they are teenagers, these questions will come up in different forms, for different reasons, and I have answered them according to age.

    My daughter just learned at the most basic level why women sometimes can’t pray, and how babies come out. More details will come as she asks, matures, and grows.

    agree with Um Reem in responding with truth, and not giving too many details out all at once.

    It’s sad that people are afraid to be honest with kids, because when you make up stories, tell lies (yes they are lies), or make the topic all “hush hush” it teaches the child unhealthy shame, and a mistrust to come to you in the future for questions where they do need direction.

    And we know where they will get their learning and guidance from after that, don’t we!

  16. Pingback: Parenting VII: Sexual Education from an Islamic Perspective | MuslimMatters.org

  17. Pingback: Sex & Sexuality: An Islamic Perspective | ISLAMIC SPOTLIGHT: ISLAMIC NEWS, STORIES, HADITH, DOCUMENTARIES, LECTURES, NASHEED AND MORE DEEN RELATED ARTICLES

  18. Pingback: Sexual Activities Beyond The “Norm”: What Should We Teach Our Teens | MuslimMatters.org

  19. Avatar

    Ali

    July 5, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Sorry about the opening sentence of my previous comment. Forgive me.

  20. Pingback: Parenting Series | Part I: Swimming Against The Current - MuslimMatters.org

  21. Pingback: Parenting Series | Part II: Change in Parents is Essential - MuslimMatters.org

  22. Pingback: Parenting Series | Part III: Change in Parents Continues - MuslimMatters.org

  23. Pingback: Parenting Series | Part IV: Connection with Qur’an and Instilling Islamic Character - MuslimMatters.org

  24. Pingback: Parenting Series | Part V: Why Parents Need to Provide Sexual Education to their Kids - MuslimMatters.org

  25. Pingback: Parenting Series | Part V(b): The Reality of Sex-Education in Public Schools - MuslimMatters.org

  26. Pingback: Parenting Series | Part IX: Teen Idols – Crushes, Love & Heartbreak - MuslimMatters.org

  27. Pingback: Fifty Shades of Grey: What Young Muslim Women Looking for Love Need to Know | MuslimMatters.org

  28. Avatar

    jesusmyprophetFaiza

    July 16, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    Assalam alykum, what appropriate names can be used for private parts to educate children?

  29. Pingback: Islamic Parenting Book | Anakku Harapanku Dunia Akhiratku

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#Society

Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure

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How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.

Delegate

You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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#Society

Broken Light: The Opacity of Muslim Led Institutions

Rehan Mirza, Guest Contributor

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muslim led institutions

Habib Abd al-Qadir al-Saqqaf (may Allah have mercy on him and benefit us by him) explains how we are affected by the spiritual state of those around us.

Every person has rays which emanate from their soul. You receive these rays when you come close to them or sit in their presence. Each person’s rays differ in strength according to the state of their soul. This explains how you become affected by sitting in the presence of great people. They are people who follow the way of the Prophets in their religious and worldly affairs. When they speak, they counsel people. Their actions guide people. When they are silent they are like signposts which guide people along the path, or like lighthouses whose rays guide ships. Many of them speak very little, but when you see them or visit them you are affected by them. You leave their gatherings having been enveloped in their tranquillity. Their silence has more effect than the eloquent speech of others. This is because the rays of their souls enter you.

The Organizational Light

As a Muslim organizational psychologist, I know that organizations and institutions are a collective of these souls too. Like a glass container, they are filled colored by whatever is within them. So often Muslim organizations have presumed clarity in their organizational light and looked on with wonder as children, families, and the community wandered. The lighthouse keepers standing in front of the beacon wondering, “Where have the ships gone?”have

Our Muslim led institutions will reflect our state, actions, and decisions. I do believe that most of our institutional origins are rooted in goodness, but those moments remain small and fade. Our challenge as a community is to have this light of origin be fixed so that it can pulsate and extend itself beyond itself.

Reference is not being made regarding any specific type of institution and this is not a pointed critique, but rather a theory on perhaps why the effect our variety of institutional work wanes and dissipates. Any type of organization or institution — whether for profit or nonprofit, whether capital focused or socially conscious — that is occupied by the heart of a Muslim(s), must reflect light.

Our organizational light is known by an ego-less assessment of intentions, actions, and results. We must move our ‘self’ or ‘selves’ out of the way and then measure our lumens. If the light increases when we move out of the way, then it is possible that we — our ego, personality, objectives, intentions, degree of sacrifice, level of commitment, and possibly even our sincerity — may be the obstructions to our organizational lights.

The Personal Imperative

What will become of our institutions and their role for posterity if we neglect to evaluate where we stand in relation to the noble courses they mean to take? We may currently be seeing the beginning what this may look and feel like.

When was the last time you walked into a Muslim led institution and felt a living space that drew you in because of the custodians, leadership, individuals, and community that made up its parts? It was probably the last time you and I looked deeply inward at our lives — our intellect, our relationships, our purpose, our spiritual state, our work, our decisions, and our intentions. If we cleanse our hearts so infrequently the dust which settles can become thick making them opaque. And perhaps this individual and collective state is what limits the reach and impact of our communal work thus, resulting in the opacity of Muslim led institutions. Note: Lighthouse keepers clean the lens of the beacon every day.

We must consistently assess the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual loci of our individual and organizational states. They are not fixed givens. Rather, they are capricious states that necessitate vigilance and wara’. Being aware of this will help in our organizational design and work.

The Collective Affect

When we are prepared to evaluate the efficacy of Muslim led institutions with the inclusion of some form of spiritual assessment, we will give ourselves a better opportunity to determine where, how, and why we may be missing the mark. The inefficiencies and inattentiveness we have on an individual level can permeate our relationships, our work, and our organizations. As organizational leaders, we must critically assess the amount of light our work emanates to illuminate the lives of the people we serve.

These inward evaluations should be in the form of active and ongoing discussions we have internally with our teams and colleagues, and ourselves. If done with prudence and sincerity it will not only strengthen our organizations but our teams and us God-willing. This collective effort can lead to a collective effect for those we serve that inspires and guides. We — and our institutions — can then return to the Prophetic example of being beacons of light that help ourselves and others arrive to a place of sanctuary.

And Allah always knows best.

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#Life

Mindful or Mind-full? Going From AutoPilot to Aware

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Mindful

Modeling Mindfulness

Mindfull

“Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.”

[Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:235]

Mindful or Mind-full?

Ever felt frustrated when you were trying to talk to your spouse, your children, your students, or your youth group and they would just not pay attention? This is a prime example of being on autopilot and getting carried away without actually being aware of what is most important in the present moment.

A recent Harvard study shows that our minds are not present in the moment and wander about 47% of the time1. In a world of technology and continuous sensory overload, the lines between work and home, friends and family, necessity vs. purpose, world-centric vs. Allah-centric have become blurred. We are either living in the past or ruminating about the future, and in the process, we are forgetting to live, enjoy, cherish, and make the most of our present moments.

For parents, teachers, youth leaders, and anyone in the beautiful role of guiding, teaching, coaching, or mentoring others, we can make a huge difference by modeling Mindfulness ourselves. But where do we start? The answer is to go from autopilot to becoming aware.

Autopilot to Aware

Being on autopilot is when you are distracted in the present moment, where your mind is wandering into the past or the future, and you are less aware of yourself, surroundings, or others. Autopilot can actually be pretty helpful for your regular habits. Waking up, brushing your teeth, getting ready for your day, going to school or work – many of the things we do habitually every day can be done more seamlessly without having to think, and that is a good thing. But there are times when you have to learn to turn off your autopilot to become aware. But how?

Here is a Mindfulness tool that can be done in just a minute or two for you to become more aware.

Step 1: Breath as a Tool. Say Bismillah. Focus on your breath. See where you experience the breath – the breathing in and breathing out of your body. Is your breath stemming from your nostrils, your chest, or your stomach? Just bring your attention to your breath and relax and stay with it there for a few moments.

Step 2: Body as a Tool. Relax your body. We carry so many emotions in our bodies2. Our stress from the past or anticipation for the future sometimes finds its way into our necks, other times in our chest muscles or our backs. Pay attention to what emotions and sensations do you feel, and try to relax all parts of your body.

Step 3: Intention as a Tool. As you have centered your thoughts to the present moment through your breath and your body, ask yourself: “What is most important now? In this present moment?”

Just simply being aware makes us more mindful parents, teachers, youth and professionals – being aware makes us more Mindful of Allah SWT. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your mind and body and bring your attention to the present moment.

Mindful

Real Life in the Present Moment

You are an on-the-go parent: It has been a long day and you have to pick up the kids from school, but work is still pending. You’re picking up the kids from school, feeding them, and then shuffling everyone to their afterschool activities, be it Qur’an, softball, soccer, swimming, or the million other things that kids seem to have these days. You squeeze pending work in between drop-offs and pick-ups, and you function by living from one task to the next.

The Autopilot Impact: You’re getting a lot done, but are so engrossed in quickly moving your children along from one thing to another that you are unable to really cherish your time together.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: You can try to go from autopilot to awareness by focusing on your breath, paying attention to your emotions, and relaxing your body. As you do so, ask yourself: “What is most important now?” Make the intention to slow down, listen to the children more mindfully, and cherish and enjoy your time together.

You are a busy teacher: Last night you had to take all the grading home and spent two hours poring over students’ work. This morning, you woke up early to pick up some classroom supplies after dropping off your own kids to school. You’ve already had two cups of coffee and are trying to think through everything you have to do today. You like the idea of Mindfulness, living life in the present moment, and enjoying every day to its fullest, but your mind is not free to even enjoy the beautiful morning sunrise as you drive to school.

The Autopilot Impact: You want to listen and pay attention to every child’s needs, and enjoy the rewards of their growth, but you can’t. What’s more, you judge yourself for just trying to get through your activities for the day. You wish you could connect with your students better.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Whenever you are stressed with an unpleasant parent or student interaction, think about breathing, relaxing your body, and asking what you need to focus on now. Try to do one thing at a time, and relax into what you’re doing.

You are an overstretched youth director: You are a role model. You have this major weekend event you are planning with the youth. Your budget is still pending from the board, you have to call all these people, have to get the graphics and remind everyone about the event, you have to visit all these masjids and MSAs to announce and remind people about the weekend.

This weekend’s theme is Living a Life of Purpose and you are super passionate about it. However, the whole week you have had a hard time remembering to even pray one Salah with focus. Instead, your mind has been preoccupied with all the endless planning for this weekend. You love what you do but you wonder how to also be mindful in your everyday worship while you are always prepping and planning engaging activities for the youth.

The Autopilot Impact: You enjoy shaping the youth but you are losing steam. You are always planning the next program and unable to focus on your own personal and spiritual development. It is difficult for you to pray even one salah without thinking about all the events and activities planned for that week.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Get serious about taking some time for yourself. Know that becoming more mindful about your own prayers and self-development will also make you a better role model. Take a minute or two before every Salah to practice the simple, 3-Step Mindfulness Tool. You say Bismillah and breathe, focus your mind, and then relax your body. Empty your mind from everything else – what has past and what’s to come – and ask “What’s most important now?” to develop better focus in your Salah.

In Conclusion: Practice Simple but Solid Steps towards becoming more Mindful Muslims

Mindfulness is to open a window to let the Divine light in.

[Imam Al Ghazali]

Mindfulness gives us the ability to be aware. We can use Mindfulness tools to remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), refocus, renew our intentions, and engage with the present moment in a more effective and enjoyable way. Mindfulness also invites awareness of our potential negligence in being our best selves with both Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His creation. To put it simply, being more aware of our selves can help us be better versions of our selves.

Mindfulness is both an art and a science, with brain and behavioral science research validating the importance of Mindfulness in improving our health, managing our stress, navigating our emotions, and positively impacting our lives3. In today’s modern and distracted world, let us treasure every tool that helps us center our attention on what matters the most.

  1. Bradt, Steve (2010). Wandering mind not a happy mind. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/
  2. Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, Jari K. Hietanen (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/26/1321664111
  3. “What are the benefits of mindfulness,” American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx

To learn more about how to become mindful take the Define Course on Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence.

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