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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Intimacy for Muslim Couples

Men and women have different needs but BOTH men and women are sensual beings and they BOTH need sensual fulfillment.

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Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

For mature audience only:

Intimacy between spouses is a beautiful act of worship. A divine experience that has been mired by anxieties fueled by hypersexualized media, Hollywood movies, many cultural beliefs from the East and misinformed 18th century notions rooted in the West.

It took a year of contemplation for us to publicly address this topic in a broadcast, but the need amongst Muslim couples was so great that we had to put aside our hesitations. The Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam and the sahaba and sahabiyaat were not shy to discuss these matters.

Usually when sexual intimacy is discussed in public it is not from a female lens, hence we want to collaborate with our male shuyookh by providing the female perspective, so we can all contribute to healthy marriages.

If we look at intimacy as both a physical and spiritual act and climaxing as the epitome of pleasure that Allah has gifted us, it is easier to understand why it is meant to be a source of Divine Love for both men and women.

As you will hear today that intimacy has become a serious problem in many marriages—  there are many guilt and shame based misconceptions that cause problems between spouses often leading to divorce. Our main motive is to foster healthy marriages, Allah says he loves those who foster purity and marriage is the best way to guard our desires.

We don’t want to generalize because generalization can hurt a relationship and each relationship is as different as the people involved in it. Let’s not play the blame game after listening to this. We want couples to listen together in hopes of understanding and bettering their marriage.

Men Complain:

-“My wife doesn’t want to have intercourse”

-Frequency is mainly a concern amongst men

-“My wife doesn’t actively participate in intimacy, or never initiates”

Women Complain:

-Quality of intimacy

-Lack of foreplay

-Most common complaints: “He fails to give me a climax.”

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2010/10/25/psychology-from-islamic-perspective-how-to-score-big-with-women/”]How To Score BIG With Women: An Islamic and Psychological Approach for Men[/button]

Why is there a Difference between Men’s and Women’s Complaints about Intimacy?

Different needs but BOTH men and women are sensual beings and they BOTH need sensual fulfillment.

Top needs for men include:

-#1 Need: Mutual satisfaction (contrary to popular belief that men only want their own sexual satisfaction they, naturally, want to satisfy their wives too)

-Responsiveness of their spouse – men want their wives engaged during the act: mentally, emotionally and physically

-Men desire initiation by their wife —they long to feel wanted, desired and affirmed

-Men also want to be complimented

Generally, men see intimacy as an escape or release of tension.  They need the intimate act to open up emotionally.

Unfortunately, women continue to be restricted sexually by:

-Shame

-Guilt

-Social and society influence

-Religiously perceived notions

-Family taboos

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2013/05/03/vignettes-on-female-sexuality/”]Sex MashaAllah: Vignettes on Female Sexuality[/button]

Women have sexual needs:

Instead of being able to fully express their sensual nature, women are restricted to being “emotional” only and ripped apart from their “sexual” side.

A woman can be as sensual as she is spiritual, as erotic as she is intellectual and as climatic as she is emotional.

There is a common ground in the complaints—of both men and women— and it is “intimacy”, but:

-Men want intimacy and they want their wives’ participation, and more frequently

-Women have complaints about the quality of intimacy

Many men not only have a huge misunderstanding about women’s sexuality, shockingly many still wonder whether or not a woman is able to reach her climax. Yet, many confuse pleasing a woman in bed as equivalent to fondling only and not making her experience a climax.

Majority of married Muslim women complain about “satisfaction” during intimacy.

The word “satisfaction” is often confused with fondling or fore-playing only. The truth is that if and when explicitly asked, these women explicitly complain about not being able to reach their climax.

SO while men complain about lack of participation of frequency of intimacy, women lose interest because they don’t want to be intimate if they can’t reach their climax. It’s a cycle and unless men understand women’s need of sexuality, women will continue to lose interest that can lead to dangerous consequences.

Next video and outline can be watched here

 

 

 

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    nadia

    March 24, 2015 at 11:40 AM

    March 1st? Or April 1st…

    • Avatar

      Mia

      March 25, 2015 at 11:51 PM

      JazakAllah khair for this article. Patricularly the comment about women being emotional and men being sexual. Its getting so annoying hearing shuyookh discuss male and female sexuality and emphasize or make it seem like women are only emotional and men are so overly sexual that that is all they think about and it drives everything they do so much so that we women have to wear hijab for that very reason.

      News flash – women are very sexual too. Just like there are men with high sex drives or low sex drives, same goes for women. We are tired of hearing shuyookh essentially nullify our sex drive in their kind way and explain our lack of desiring sex because we are ultimately sexual but thats far from the truth.

      I could go on forever with this subject but I am just so relieved knowledgeable sisters like yourselves are taking this desperately needed initiative to speak for sisters unapologetically.
      JazakAllah khair again!!

  2. Avatar

    mo

    March 27, 2015 at 4:18 AM

    Thank you for this article, coming from a Pakistani family sex was always a taboo…. Until it came to my grandmother, when I hit puberty (as she did with all her granddaughters)…. Shortly before she passed away she told me that the secret to healthy marriage was lots of good sex. When the sex goes so does the marriage…. N you can always tell the state of someone’s marriage depending on their sex life. Over the last 20 odd years I found this to be one of the best advice that I was ever told.

  3. Avatar

    att

    March 27, 2015 at 12:06 PM

    I’m not married. I’m just a malaysian medical student in egypt. I find that this issue is not just something that has to be directed toward only the married crowd but also Teenagers. Alhamdulillah though I never got the sex talk from my parents I managed to understand it enough to know that it is not as television depicts it to be. Nor is it shameful (in marriages of course) but I find it mind numbingly frustrating that many of my friends dont even understand what it is. As in when I brought it up and tried to explain all I received were dumbfounded and horrified faces.

    I don’t think there is any shame in explaining what sex is. It’s mechanism, the rules, or the realities of it (unlike what the television tries to have you believe). I think the best way to create a healthy sexual intimacy in a marriage is to ensure a complete understanding of it before the marriage.

    however this is a problem for me. I have 4 younger sisters and I have no idea how to approach the issue with them. I’m especially worried concerning my immediate sister after me who is 16. Even worse is that schools don’t handle this issue. It’s taboo. In fact our whole society is rather tight lipped on the matter. You either end up with WAY to much knowledge on the matter or too little.most of the time it’s the girls who have to handle the consequences in worse case scenarios.

    • Avatar

      rachel schakel

      January 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM

      Why dont you just talk to your husbands and tell them what you like and what makes you feel good. Ask them why they dont want to touch you or what they like. Its called communication.

  4. Avatar

    KE

    March 28, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    Jazakum Allah khyran for addressing this subject. It is a very important topic for muslim couples. I have been married for 19 years and have been looking for an islamic discussion on this subject since I got married but could not find any. I hope I will be able to use your valuable knowledge to make our marriage more meaningful.

    KE

  5. Pingback: Erroneous Eastern Cultural Beliefs about Female Sexuality

  6. Avatar

    Mohammed Siddiqui

    March 29, 2015 at 7:54 PM

    Teh peerane kaleesa wa haram Haaye waaye majboori
    Sila inn ki kado kaawish ka hai Yeh seenon ki benoori

    “Islamic feminism at its peak”

    No wonder why muslim marriages don’t last long now a days.

    Instead of teaching how to reach climax or demand climax from your spouse, it may be more prudent and useful to teach how to be content.

    No wonder why the alims and shuyookh will be the first to be questioned.

    Keep up with your halal sex talk. Great going

    • Avatar

      KK

      March 18, 2018 at 6:13 AM

      How ignorant. It is sentiments like yours that destroy marriages. It is part of the sunnah to ensure the wife’s desires are fully met in addition to the husband’s, even when he has finished but she has not. May Allah guide us all.

    • Avatar

      Yusuf

      April 23, 2019 at 12:13 PM

      How can a man overcome low sexual confidence?? I am infertile and can’t father children but both wife and I have come to terms with it.

      Problem is I struggle to have intercourse even though I engage in foreplay. Sometimes I artificially satisfy wife’s needs by touch without me getting intimate for fear of not getting aroused.

      I have normal male hormone levels but I think now I’ve lost my job and wife starts at 9am, she is tired even though she works part time. I have taken the male pill but doesn’t work unless both are in the mood.

      I’m really frustrated as I know masturbation is a sin. What can I do?

      Bro Yusuf

  7. Avatar

    Umm

    March 30, 2015 at 9:35 PM

    These articles in MM has bi idnillah greatly improved our sexlife.
    Some things that was essential for our change were
    1.proper knowledge about sexlife (pleasure spots for both)from clean sources.
    2.No blaming the husband while communicating the issue.
    3.expressing support,care and love for each other’s needs
    4.feeling confident and participating actively during foreplay and sex.

  8. Avatar

    RandMale

    March 31, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    I agree in general, but I have also noticed that there is sharp feelings in the bedroom regarding freedom and control whether it is consciously or only subconsciously. Men and women can become controlling of the act of intimacy and what they want to do/get out of it and what their conceptions are about the act itself. Sometimes the controlling factor can be about what NOT to do, or what is not being allowed, while sometimes it is about what one partner wants the other partner to do during intimacy. This can lead to conflict in the bedroom, which can also escalate away from the bedroom. Similarly confrontational behaviour outside of the bedroom can resurface during intimacy with negative outcomes, or no satisfying outcomes at all… these can also escalate ongoing problems in relationships. as regards to freedom, people knows that there are certain things which for both partners are taboo, then there are things only one partner might not be sure about or disapproves of, and the other partner might be willing to be persuasive or at least does not like the outright dismissiveness of such acts, eg through name-calling or put-downs which can make the acts feel less intimate and less desirable.

    Also, sleep, prayers, chores, work-life balance and other routines including eating/diet can overlap with sexual intimacy. Some things can have longer impact on an individual due to stress, tensions and mood.

    Lastly, excessive passion sometimes is a turn-on especially early in the relationship, but then later when passion cools, expressing feelings of love, desire and tenderness can become disparate and this might lead to divergences in the relationship as regards male/female views about what is “appropriate” or “suitable” or “proper” in terms of expressing desires, showing love and attitudes towards passion and tender intimacy. Often with women seeking comfort and security and men wanting excitement or physical action. This can be daunting at times and the bedroom can sometimes end up feeling like a battleground, which does not help matters. And to finish, previous sexual experiences/encounters can also have an influence on what each partner considers either as “normal” or “offensive” (“not normal”).

    Also, spiritual practice should not necessarily mean contentment with one’s partner during intimacy is somehow less spiritual.

  9. Avatar

    wanna learn

    April 1, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    Dear editors, does this article end on the first page?
    I kept searching for information on how to learn how make a woman reach her climax and what really is climax for her. I couldn’t find anything in this article.

  10. Avatar

    wanna learn

    April 1, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    I meant I couldn’t find anything in this article regarding things mentioned above.
    Otherwise the article has good necessary information. JazakAllah for making the effort to transform our lives.
    Please help.

  11. Avatar

    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena

    April 2, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Request Your kind permission to translate these creative pieces into Sinhala language, and to circulate its copies among the invitees at a couple of awareness programmes. (Note:Sinhala is the language of the majority of Sri Lanka of which the majority are Buddhists while the rest are Catholics/Christians.)
    Wish You All More Wisdom, More Courage, More Health, and More Patience.
    Thanking You.
    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena.

  12. Pingback: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Intimacy: Erroneous Western Cultural Beliefs about Female Sexuality - MuslimMatters.org

  13. Avatar

    Anum

    July 13, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    Every woman think that how my future husband will be liked. Husband and wife are alike a wheels of a car. They can’t move onwards without support of each other. A husband should be pious and have Allah’s fear in heart because Islam has assigned complete duties to husband about his wife. The 3 top features of my future husband, a woman should see are as follows.
    • Responsible and Supportive Person
    • Wife Caring Person
    • Attentive Person

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

  14. Avatar

    Zizou

    July 31, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    About time some analysis was provided on this topic.

    I’ve been married for around ten years, keep myself fit and I would regard myself as attractive (without trying to sound arrogant). My wife never instigates anything nor feels like sharing a bed. She claims to be tired which I understand due to having kids. However there comes a point when a man begins to question this and over a period of time becomes fed up of being the one who initiates everything. Marriage is to provide protection from zinnah but in a lot of cases it is going the opposite.

  15. Pingback: » Intimacy for Muslim Couples: The Anti-Climax

  16. Avatar

    Luna

    March 29, 2016 at 11:44 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum , I am very happy to learn from these lectures about we women faces humiliation with our physical needs. I have similar issues that I never got the chance to talk to the right expert person . I cry to Allah Subahanatala for his help . It is been 22 years of my marriage and my husband never does satisfied me with my desires. I was actually never satisfied with his giving. Over the years leaving me pain and unsatisfactory with my husband that I don’t engaged with him any sexually for 6 years . I am leaving with like roommate and hollow emptiness in my life . I want to seek help but I don’t where and to whom I can discuss my problems. I want to get out from my marriage but I can’t cause I am not financially independent nor I know any man available for me . I am living dead .

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      October 11, 2017 at 10:49 PM

      Salaam

      First off, could you write next time with better grammar so people can respond to you? It took me a while to fully understand your post with its grammar issues, so this will turn people off from wanting to help you.

      From what I could gather, you were married for 22 years, I assume divorced and living with a female roommate. You feel the need to marry to satisfy yourself. That is fine and acceptable, maybe perhaps try finding if there are other divorced men out there who are willing to marry you, also converts are not as cultural as other muslims and would be way more open to marry you, or you can ask someone else for better advice on this issue. However, what I can give you advice for is twofold.

      One, if you really have strong sexual desires, then bring this up as a talking point to your potential spouse before the marriage. Yes, this is possible, and since you are older I don’t think you need a wali anymore. But, you must have a fairly open and public discussion with your potential spouse about intimacy needs. A good person to have someone proctor your talk with the potential husband would be a muslim couple’s therapist, psychologist, etc. as they have professional knowledge of sexuality and can help you. Essentially, someone like the muslimah’s you have written this article. Also, you can even have like a skype or google hangouts session, phone call, etc. with your potential spouse and talk to them about your intimacy needs and have your chosen muslim therapist or psychologist, etc. be available in and be listening in during the conversation with your potential spouse. I know for a fact an Organization named “Noor Human Consulting” that you can google can help you out and is indeed available for online and offline help. Also, you can try your luck at “Purify your Gaze” however they are an organization that specializes in providing help both online and offline for those addicted or heavily dependent on pornography. However, I have heard them help out in cases relating to intimacy issues both online and offline. Of course, there are other muslim organizations that can help you with this and not just the two I mentioned, so feel free to explore.

      Second, I am pretty sure this will all come out when you talk to these professionals with your spouse-to-be, but one thing you have to understand is that your “needs” are as much your responsibility to fulfill as is his. That is, you need to make sure that when if in say the future you find a husband and he wants to be intimate with you, communicate with him and tell him what he needs to do to satisfy you. Don’t expect him to read your mind, and don’t expect to flop on the bed and expect him to do EVERYTHING and you just lie there and stare at him with blank eyes. Also, in my opinion men like to experiment and will find “alternate ways” to make their wives reach their climax. So don’t be taken aback when your husband proposes he do things like oral stimulation among other things with you that he due to his “body part” not being fit for the job after he climaxes. Be open to your husband and his experimentative yet halal ideas. However, whatever you do DON’T DEMEAN HIS EFFORTS AND SHOVE ALL THE BLAME ON HIM, assuming he is sincere in trying to please you. Chances are, most muslim women who complain of sexual dissatisfaction in a marriage may be contributing more to their own dissatisfaction than their husband is, by for example coming into the bedroom with mental baggage, denying him sex when you don’t want it and giving him less desire to please you as you don’t please him when the time comes but he has to stop everything to please you, not respecting him and his decisions (Of course there should be no respect when he does wants something haram or unethical or if he is abusing you emotionally, spiritually, or physically abusing you or being PURPOSELY sexually negligent towards you) as men REALLY value and have more of a desire to please their wives if they respect the husband and his decisions. It is not me saying this, but western universities that have done psychological studies on men and what they most desire from the opposite sex in the relationship, and respect for his decisions and loyalty are at the top for men.

      I wish you Allah’s blessings in your search for a spouse. Don’t give up, and expand your horizon and search criteria when looking for a partner. I don’t mean marry a fat guy as that guy should be told to lose weight before the marriage, but be open to those men, who of course must be diligent muslims, who you initially did not want to marry due to cultural biases. Also, if you come to a desperation point you could try to maybe seek out a spouse the HALAL way online via muslim matrimonial online services. Also, a word of caution make sure the guy who you find online is single or divorced, as sometimes muslim men who are married and “looking for a 2,3, or 4th wife”, without the 1st wife’s knowledge, as this could involve you in a very heated and tense situation.

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#Islam

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf And The Question of Rebellion In The Islamic Tradition

Dr Usaama al-Azami

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Sepoy rebellion, Shaykh Hamza

In recent years, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a notable Islamic scholar from North America, has gained global prominence by supporting efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to deal with the fallout of the Arab revolutions. The UAE is a Middle Eastern autocracy that has been the chief strategist behind quelling the Arab revolutionary aspiration for accountable government in the region. Shaykh Hamza views himself as helping prevent the region from falling into chaos by supporting one of its influential autocratic states. However, more recently, he has become embroiled in another controversy because of comments he made regarding the Syrian revolution in 2016 that surfaced online earlier this week and for which he has since apologised. I will not discuss these comments directly in this article, but the present piece does have a bearing on the issue of revolution as it addresses the question of how Islamic scholars have traditionally responded to tyranny. Thus, in what follows, I somewhat narrowly focus on another recent recording of Shaykh Hamza that has been published by a third party in the past couple of weeks entitled: “Hamza Yusuf’s response to the criticism for working with Trump administration”. While it was published online at the end of August 2019, the short clip may, in fact, predate the Trump controversy, as it only addresses the more general charge that Shaykh Hamza is supportive of tyrannical governments.

Thus, despite its title, the primary focus of the recording is what the Islamic tradition purportedly says about the duty of Muslims to render virtually unconditional obedience to even the most tyrannical of rulers. In what follows, I argue that Shaykh Hamza’s contention that the Islamic tradition has uniformly called for rendering obedience to tyrannical rule—a contention that he has been repeating for many years—is inaccurate. Indeed, it is so demonstrably inaccurate that one wonders how a scholar as learned as Shaykh Hamza can portray it as the mainstream interpretation of the Islamic tradition rather than as representing a particularly selective reading of fourteen hundred years of scholarship. Rather than rest on this claim, I will attempt to demonstrate this in what follows. (Note: this article was sent to Shaykh Hamza for comment at the beginning of this month, but he has not replied in time for publication.)

Opposing all government vs opposing a government

Shaykh Hamza argues that “the Islamic tradition” demands that one render virtually absolute obedience to one’s rulers. He bases this assertion on a number of grounds, each of which I will address in turn. Firstly, he argues that Islam requires government, because the opposite of having a government would be a state of chaos. This is, however, to mischaracterise the arguments of the majority of mainstream scholars in Islamic history down to the present who, following explicit Qur’anic and Prophetic teachings, opposed supporting tyrannical rulers. None of these scholars ever advocated the removal of government altogether. They only opposed tyranny. For some reason that is difficult to account for, Shaykh Hamza does not, in addressing the arguments of his interlocutors, make the straightforward distinction between opposing tyranny, and opposing the existence of any government at all.

A complex tradition

Rather than support these tyrannical governments, the Islamic tradition provides a variety of responses to how one should oppose such governments, ranging from the more quietist—opposing them only in one’s heart—to the more activist—opposing them through armed rebellion. The majority of later scholars, including masters such as al-Ghazzali (d. 505/1111), Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795/1393), and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449) appear to have fallen somewhere between these two poles, advocating rebellion only in limited circumstances, and mostly advising a vocally critical posture towards tyranny. Of course, some early scholars, such as the sanctified member of the Prophetic Household, Sayyiduna Husayn (d. 61/680) had engaged in armed opposition to the tyranny of the Umayyads resulting in his martyrdom. Similarly, the Companion ‘Abdullah b. Zubayr (d. 73/692), grandson of Abu Bakr (d. 13/634), and son of al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwam (d. 36/656), two of the Ten Companions Promised Paradise, had established a Caliphate based in Makkah that militarily tried to unseat the Umayyad Caliphal counter-claimant.

However, the model of outright military rebellion adopted by these illustrious scholars was generally relinquished in later centuries in favour of other forms of resisting tyranny. This notwithstanding, I will try to show that the principle of vocally resisting tyranny has always remained at the heart of the Islamic tradition contrary to the contentions of Shaykh Hamza. Indeed, I argue that the suggestion that Shaykh Hamza’s work with the UAE, an especially oppressive regime in the Arab world, is somehow backed by the Islamic tradition can only be read as a mischaracterisation of this tradition. He only explicitly cites two scholars from Islamic history to support his contention, namely Shaykhs Ahmad Zarruq (d. 899/1442) and Abu Bakr al-Tartushi (d. 520/1126), both of whom were notable Maliki scholars from the Islamic West. Two scholars of the same legal school, from roughly the same relatively peripheral geographic region, living roughly four hundred years apart, cannot fairly be used to represent the swathe of Islamic views to be found over fourteen hundred years in lands as far-flung as India to the east, Russia to the north, and southern Africa to the south.

What does the tradition actually say?

Let me briefly illustrate the diversity of opinion on this issue within the Islamic tradition by citing several more prominent and more influential figures from the same tradition alongside their very different stances on the issue of how one ought to respond to tyrannical rulers. Most of the Four Imams are in fact reported to have supported rebellion (khuruj) which is, by definition, armed. A good summary of their positions is found in the excellent study in Arabic by Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Dumayji, who is himself opposed to rebellion, but who notes that outright rebellion against tyrannical rule was in fact encouraged by Abu Hanifa (d. 150/767) and Malik (d. 179/795), and is narrated as one of the legal positions adopted by al-Shafi‘i (d. 204/820) and Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855). As these scholars’ legal ideas developed and matured into schools of thought, many later adherents also maintained similar positions to those attributed to the founders of these schools. To avoid suggesting that armed rebellion against tyrants was the dominant position of the later Islamic tradition, let me preface this section with a note from Holberg Prize-winning Islamic historian, Michael Cook, who notes in his magisterial study of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong that “in the face of the delinquency of the ruler, there is a clear mainstream position [in the Islamic tradition]: rebuke is endorsed while [armed] rebellion is rejected.”

But there were also clearly plenty of outliers, or more qualified endorsements of rebellion against tyrants, as well as the frequent disavowal of the obligation to render them any obedience. Thus for the Malikis, one can find Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi (d. 543/1148) who asserts that advocating rebellion against tyrants is the main position of the madhhab; similarly among later Hanafis, one finds  Abu Bakr Al Jassas (d. 370/981); for the Hanbalis, one may cite the positions of the prolific scholars Imam Ibn ‘Aqil (d. 513/1119), Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1201), and in a more qualified sense, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali. Among later Shafi‘is, I have found less explicit discussions of rebellion in my limited search, but a prominent Shafi‘i like the influential exegete and theologian al-Fakhr al-Razi (d. 606/1210) makes explicit, contrary to Shaykh Hamza’s claims, that not only is obeying rulers not an obligation, in fact “most of the time it is prohibited, since they command to nothing but tyranny.” This is similar in ways to the stance of other great Shafi‘is such as Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani who notes concerning tyrannical rulers (umara’ al-jawr) that the ulama state that “if it is possible to depose them without fitna and oppression, it is an obligation to do so. Otherwise, it is obligatory to be patient.” It is worth noting that the normative influence of such a statement cited by Ibn Hajar transcends the Shafi‘i school given that it is made in his influential commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari. Once again, contrary to the assertions of Shaykh Hamza, there is nothing to suggest that any of the illustrious scholars who supported rebellion against tyrannical rulers was advocating the anarchist removal of all government. Rather they were explicitly advocating the replacement of a tyrant with a just ruler where this was possible.

Al-Ghazzali on confronting tyrants

A final example may be taken from the writing of Imam al-Ghazzali, an exceptionally influential scholar in the Islamic tradition who Shaykh Hamza particularly admires. On al-Ghazzali, who is generally opposed to rebellion but not other forms of opposition to tyranny, I would like to once again cite the historian Michael Cook. In his previously cited work, after an extensive discussion of al-Ghazzali’s articulation of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong, Cook concludes (p. 456):

As we have seen, his views on this subject are marked by a certain flirtation with radicalism. In this Ghazzālī may have owed something to his teacher Juwaynī, and he may also have been reacting to the Ḥanafī chauvinism of the Seljūq rulers of his day. The duty, of course, extends to everyone, not just rulers and scholars. More remarkably, he is prepared to allow individual subjects to have recourse to weapons where necessary, and even to sanction the formation of armed bands to implement the duty without the permission of the ruler. And while there is no question of countenancing rebellion, Ghazzālī is no accommodationist: he displays great enthusiasm for men who take their lives in their hands and rebuke unjust rulers in harsh and uncompromising language.

Most of the material Cook bases his discussion upon is taken from al-Ghazzali’s magnum opus, The Revival of the Religious Sciences. Such works once again demonstrate that the Islamic tradition, or great Sufi masters and their masterworks, cannot be the basis for the supportive attitude towards tyrannical rule on the part of a minority of modern scholars.

Modern discontinuities and their high stakes

But modern times give rise to certain changes that also merit our attention. In modern times, new technologies of governance, such as democracy, have gone some way to dealing with challenges such as the management of the transition of power without social breakdown and the loss of life, as well as other forms of accountability that are not possible in absolute autocracies. For their part, absolute autocracies have had their tyrannical dimensions amplified with Orwellian technologies that invade private spaces and facilitate barbaric forms of torture and inhumane degradation on a scale that was likely unimaginable to premodern scholars. The stakes of a scholar’s decision of whether to support autocracy or democracy could not be higher.

Modern scholars like Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1345/1926), someone who Shaykh Hamza’s own mentor, Shaykh Abdullah b. Bayyah (b. 1353f./1935) considered a teacher until fairly recently, has advocated for an Islamic conception of democracy as a possible means to deal with the problem of tyranny that plagues much of the Muslim world. He is hardly the only scholar to do so. And in contrast with some of the scholars of the past who advocated armed rebellion in response to tyranny, most contemporary scholars supporting the Arab revolutions have argued for peaceful political change wherever possible. They have advocated for peaceful protest in opposition to tyranny. Where this devolved into violence in places like Libya, Syria, and Yemen, this was generally because of the disproportionately violent responses of regimes to peaceful protests.

Shaykh Hamza on the nature of government

For Shaykh Hamza, the fault here appears to lie with the peaceful protestors for provoking these governments to crush them. Such a conception of the dynamics of protest appears to assume that the autocratic governmental response to this is a natural law akin to cause and effect. The logic would seem to be: if one peacefully calls for reform and one is murdered in cold blood by a tyrannical government, then one has only oneself to blame. Governments, according to this viewpoint, have no choice but to be murderous and tyrannical. But in an age in which nearly half of the world’s governments are democracies, however flawed at times, why not aspire to greater accountability and less violent forms of governance than outright military dictatorship?

Rather than ask this question, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf appears to be willing to defend autocracy no matter what they do on the grounds that government, in principle, is what is at stake. Indeed, in defending government as necessary and a blessing, he rhetorically challenges his critics to “ask the people of Libya whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Yemen whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Syria whether government is a blessing?” The tragic irony of such statements is that these countries have, in part, been destroyed because of the interventions of a government, one for which Shaykh Hamza serves as an official, namely the UAE. This government has one of the most aggressive foreign policies in the region and has been instrumental in the failure of representative governments and the survival of tyrannical regimes throughout the Middle East.

Where do we go from here?

In summary, Shaykh Hamza’s critics are not concerned that he is “supporting governments,” rather they are concerned that for the last few years, he has found himself supporting bad government and effectively opposing the potential for good government in a region that is desperately in need of it. And while he may view himself as, in fact, supporting stability in the region by supporting the UAE, such a view is difficult if not impossible to reconcile with the evidence. Given his working relationship with the UAE government, perhaps Shaykh Hamza could use his position to remind the UAE of the blessing of government in an effort to stop them from destroying the governments in the region through proxy wars that result in death on an epic scale. If he is unable to do this, then the most honourable thing to do under such circumstances would be to withdraw from such political affiliations and use all of his influence and abilities to call for genuine accountability in the region in the same way that he is currently using his influence and abilities to provide cover, even if unwittingly, for the UAE’s oppression.

And Allah knows best.

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Raising A Child Between Ages 2-7 | Dr Hatem Al Haj

Dr. Hatem El Haj M.D Ph.D

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children drawing crayons

This is called a pre-operational period by Jean Piaget who was focused on cognitive development.

Children this age have difficulty reconciling between different dimensions or seemingly contradictory concepts. One dimension will dominate and the other will be ignored. This applies in the physical and abstract realms. For example, the water in the longer cup must be more than that in the shorter one, no matter how wide each cup is. Length dominates over width in his/her mind.

Throughout most of this stage, a child’s thinking is self-centered (egocentric). This is why preschool children have a problem with sharing.

In this stage, language develops very quickly, and by two years of age, kids should be combining words, and by three years, they should be speaking in sentences.

Erik Erikson, who looked at development from a social perspective, felt that the child finishes the period of autonomy vs. shame by 3 years of age and moves on to the period of initiative vs. guilt which will dominate the psycho-social development until age 6. In this period, children assert themselves as leaders and initiative takers. They plan and initiate activities with others. If encouraged, they will become leaders and initiative takers.

Based on the above, here are some recommendations:

In this stage, faith would be more caught than taught and felt than understood. The serene, compassionate home environment and the warm and welcoming masjid environment are vital.

Recognition through association: The best way of raising your kid’s love of Allah and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is by association. If you buy him ice cream, take the opportunity to tell them it is Allah who provided for you; the same applies to seeing a beautiful rose that s/he likes, tell them it is Allah who made it. Tell them stories about Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Statements like: “Prophet Muhammad was kinder to kids than all of us”; “Prophet Muhammad was kind to animals”; ” Prophet Muhammad loved sweets”; ” Prophet Muhammad helped the weak and old,” etc. will increase your child’s love for our most beloved ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

Faith through affiliation: The child will think, “This is what WE do, and how WE pray, and where WE go for worship.” In other words, it is a time of connecting with a religious fraternity, which is why the more positive the child’s interactions with that fraternity are, the more attached to it and its faith he/she will become.

Teach these 2-7 kids in simple terms. You may be able to firmly insert in them non-controversial concepts of right and wrong (categorical imperatives) in simple one-dimensional language. Smoking is ḥarâm. No opinions. NO NUANCES. No “even though.” They ate not ready yet for “in them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people.”

Promote their language development by speaking to them a lot and reading them books, particularly such books that provoke curiosity and open discussions to enhance their expressive language. Encourage them to be bilingual as learning two languages at once does not harm a child’s cognitive abilities, rather it enhances them.

This is despite an initial stage of confusion and mixing that will resolve by 24 to 30 months of age. By 36 months of age, they will be fluent bilingual speakers. Introduce Islamic vocabulary, such as Allah, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), masjid, Muslim, brothers, salaat, in-sha’a-Allah, al-Hamdulillah, subhana-Allah, etc. (Don’t underestimate the effect of language; it does a lot more than simply denoting and identifying things.)

In this pre-operational period, their ability of understanding problem solving and analysis is limited. They can memorize though. However, the focus on memorization should still be moderate. The better age for finishing the memorization of the Quran is 10-15.

Use illustrated books and field trips.

Encourage creativity and initiative-taking but set reasonable limits for their safety. They should also realize that their freedom is not without limits.

Between 3-6 years, kids have a focus on their private parts, according to Freud. Don’t get frustrated; tell them gently it is not appropriate to touch them in public.

Don’t get frustrated with their selfishness; help them gently to overcome this tendency, which is part of this stage.

Parenting: Raising a Child from Age 0 to 2 | Dr. Hatem Al Haj

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Reflection On The Legacy of Mufti Umer Esmail | Imam Azhar Subedar

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“An ocean of knowledge which once resided on the seabed of humbleness has now submerged below it, forever.”

“Why didn’t you tell me!! You call me your younger brother, but you couldn’t even tell me you were ailing?!”

I could’ve called you or visited you so I could apologize for all the pain I caused you; thank you for all the good you did for me throughout my life despite all that pain. if nothing else, just so I could say goodbye to you.”

(My selfish mind continued to cry out as I stood in front of his grave— praying.)

As I sat down to compile my thoughts, upon returning home, I put my feelings of loss aside and tried to analyze your decision of not informing me about your illness from a different perspective.

Possibly, your own.

Why would you tell me?

This was just like you. You never wanted to hurt a soul; forget about making them worry about you, augmenting their own worries. For you were the sponge for our worries, the shock absorber of our concerns, and the solid wall that shouldered the pain of those around him.

You weren’t just a big brother, my big brother, you were a true human. A lesson on humanity.

You were always there for me.

“I GOT A QUESTION” sent at 2 AM.

“Sure” was your response.

We spoke for over 40 min.

That night.

Your strength reflected my weakness- always urging me to do better, be more like you.

I was told you were in hospital by a close family member early Friday morning before Jummah prayers. I was supposed to call you. That was my responsibility. However, the preparation of the Friday Sermon was my excuse not to do so.

As I exited from delivering the Friday services, I received a message from you, the one who was spending the last days of his life in a hospital, never to be seen outside of the confines of those walls ever again.

That message you wrote- you knew me so well.

“As-salaam alaikum, I thought you were already American?”

(You were catching up with me as I had become an American citizen the day before. You wanted to congratulate me, without complaining to me.)

“I heard you are in the hospital?! How are you? What’s going on?” I asked immediately.

“Getting some treatment done. Mubarak on your American citizenship” was your response.

Diversion. A stubborn man with a heart of gold. You wanted to celebrate people even at the cost of your own life.

Your last words to me were digital, even though your connection with me spans a lifetime. As much as I wish I had heard your voice one last time, I try to find the beauty in that communication too as I can save and cherish those last words.

We grew up together in Canada in the ’80s- Mufti Umer and I. Our fathers were tight- childhood buddies. He ended up becoming the inspiration for my family to trek towards a path devoted to Islam, beginning with my brother and then myself.

He was my support from the time when I came to England to study at the Dar Al Uloom and wanted to call it quits and go home, to when he hosted me when I visited him in Austin in 2002, all the way till 2019, after I was married and settled with kids he loved like his own.

He visited us here in Dallas and had met them in his unique way of showering them with love. And why wouldn’t he? My wife and I are here under one roof all because of his earnest desire to help people.

He introduced us to each other.

“I want you to marry my younger brother.” A message he sent to my wife over 17 years ago.

She was his student. He was her mentor, support beam, confidante, and best friend. (Well, we all feel like he was our best friend, only because he truly was.)

I am sharing my life story not only because he was an integral part of it, but throughout (he was also a major part of my wife’s life when she really needed him) but because that final text message wrapped it all up- the gift that he was to me and my family. It showed how much he was invested in us as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

That message wrote:

“I thought you’ve been a citizen since marriage.”

(FRIDAY, AUGUST 30TH @ 3: 07 PM)

This is just my story featuring Mufti Umer Ismail.

I am confident that there are thousands more out there without exaggeration.

I’ll conclude with a word he corrected for me as I misspelled it on my Facebook page a few months ago when Molana Haaris Mirza, a dear colleague, passed away in New York. He didn’t do it publicly, he did it through that same Facebook text messenger that kept us in touch- with love and sincere care for me in his heart.

“As-salaam alaikum the word is Godspeed. Sorry for being [a] grammar freak.”

(MARCH 28TH, 2019 @6: 04 PM)

Godspeed, my dear brother. Godspeed.

Azhar Subedar

imamAzhar.com

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