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An Open Letter to Muslims Regarding Islam, Homosexuality, and The American Way of Life

Imam Mikaeel Smith

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Since the United States Supreme Court decision to allow homosexual marriages in all 50 states in America, the American Muslim community has been forced to reanalyze what it means to be an American Muslim, and specifically what  American Muslims should think about such legislation.  American Muslims have been forced to question (once again) how one balances living in any country that sometimes legislates against one’s core principles. Social media has been flooded with articles, posts and long discussions, as Muslims both young and old struggle try to understand where they should stand during this epic moment.

Muslims and Civil Rights and True Hypocrisy

A recent open letter written by two Muslims (a writer, Reza Aslan and a comedian, Hasan Minhaj) stated that it is hypocritical to fight for the civil rights of one marginalized group and not the civil rights of another group. What the writers fail to address is that one first has to be true to his or herself before they can be true to the society that they live in. They also fail to realize that Muslim civic engagement is based on not the current relative definition of what is or isn’t morally right but rather the Muslim engages based on a revealed ultimate moral code, which is static. If a Muslim stands up for the propagation of what she considers immoral actions, she is untrue to herself and an adversity to her society and religion.

I find it extremely disturbing that being true to what one believes can be called hypocrisy, when in reality it is the exact opposite.

This decision has effectively deemed homosexual relationships as morally right, in other words “good”. But what about the millions of Americans who the day before the decision was passed felt that this action was vile and detestable. What should they do if they wish to be good Americans? Well, if they truly believe homosexuality to be immoral, then their capitulation is tantamount to giving up a struggle for the well being of American society.

Is It Religiously Okay to Support and Celebrate the Announcement of This Decision?

The majority of the confusion regarding this legislation is about how a Muslim should interact with an individual or society that engages in such actions; and secondly, is it right for a Muslim to support such legislation.

Among Muslims there have been some who have expressed happiness over the legislation. In my understanding, this is completely wrong and unacceptable for someone who believes the action to be immoral.

When the Quran and Prophetic tradition speak so adamantly and clearly regarding an evil and perversion of an action, on what basis can a Muslim express happiness over its propagation?

A cursory study of the Quran would show us that a Muslim is taught to struggle to become the means for the removal of evil. If this is not possible than he should at least dislike the evil.

The evil is understood to be like that of a tumor, which has infected a person or even a society. The objective of doctors’ efforts is the removal of cancer out of love and compassion for the patient. Unity is also a byproduct of morally based political engagement in that all the doctors will join hands regardless race, religion or social class to get rid of the tumor.

[button color=”blue” size=”large” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2009/04/13/dealing-with-homosexual-urges/”]Read Dealing With Homosexual Urges[/button]

There are two tendencies which have added to the confusion. Some of the doctors have begun to hate the person due to the stubbornness of the tumor. This leads some to defend the evil in an attempt to stand by the person. While other doctors have begun to forget that the tumor should not be there in the first place.

Islam and Morality Relativism

The Islamic moral code is not relative. In fact true morality can never be relative rather it is absolute. As Peter Kreeft states in Ecumenical Jihad, “Otherwise, such a moral relativism is an infallible prescription for social chaos.” This exact idea is also found in the Quran, where Allah states, “Had there been any God other than He, the Heavens and Earth would be in chaos”. The “chaos” that we see today is called moral relativism which will be discussed later.

[button color=”blue” size=”large” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2014/11/13/gay-muslim/”]Read Gay and Muslim: How Can We Help?[/button]

Our Islamic moral code commands us to stand and fight for all human beings, but we are also commanded to stand against all dehumanizing deeds. Essential to understanding the Islamic moral system, I have outlined some facts or truths about morality:

  1. Morality is necessary for a society to survive. The alternative is chaos
  2. Morality is not Sectarian. It is both universally know and universally binding
  3. Morality is natural or based on human nature. Also know as These laws are intrinsic to human nature just as laws of physics are to nature of matter
  4. Morality liberates. It is a set of directions for the purpose of making our human nature flourish
  5. Morality takes effort. This is know a Jihad, or a fighting against forces of evil in all of us
  6. Morality gives meaning and purpose to life
  7. Morality is reasonable. It is not blind but intelligent. It perceives the difference between good and bad actions and lifestyles. It “discriminates” not between good or bad people but good or bad actions and lifestyles.[1]

[button color=”blue” size=”normal” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2015/07/20/debating-homosexuality/”]Read Debating Homosexuality[/button]

Point number 7 above points out perhaps the most essential aspect of Islamic morality. That is does discriminate. But this “discrimination” is not between good and bad people but good and bad actions.

A Trendy Defense of Islam

When living in America, or any other non-Islamic country for that matter, a Muslim is allowed by the Shariah (the moral, ethical, social and political codes of conduct for Muslims at an individual and collective level) to fore-go or ignore some of the aspects of the Shariah. For example, the penal law and some aspects of civil law are not to be implemented. However, this does not mean that a Muslim should lose sight of what his or her belief deems to be ideal — as per the Quran and Prophetic teachings of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

It has become a rather trendy method for many Muslim activists to dismiss or even demonize some aspects of the Prophetic teachings in order to defend Islam. The question begs to be asked, “What Islam are you defending?” This method of defending Islam has led to widespread confusion among Muslims as to what is a part of religion and what is cultural. As Muslims, we are not obliged nor allowed to force people upon Shariah. However, we are also not allowed to forget what Islam holds to be ideal.

Muslims should thus understand that their moral engagement in the American political scene is essential to the well-being of America. Their engagement will only contribute to the betterment of the society when they engage with their universal code of morality, their list of unchanging rights and wrongs. Without this moral law Muslims are no longer a part of the solution, but rather part of the chaos. From this, it should be clear that the Quranic delineation of rights and wrongs outlines the ultimate rights and wrongs. Actions that always were and always will be right or wrong. It is this morality that give meaning to life and society and this morality that liberates man while unifying him with others. It will not judge man but must judge the actions and lifestyles of man.

In my understanding, both American values and Islamic values merge on the elevation and honoring of those who are true to what they believe —both in speech and action.

Allah knows best.

Imam Mikaeel Smith is the Resident Scholar of the Islamic Society of Annapolis and the Islamic Society of Baltimore.

[1] Ecumenical Jihad; Kreeft page 75

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Peter Hall

    July 23, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    I find it amusing, with all the problems within the Muslim world, From lunatics chopping off heads in what they think Islam means, to slavery, female genital mutilation, honor killings, murders, rapes, child brides, terrorism and a multitude of other problems, that you devote your energies writing about what some non Muslims and Muslims do, in the privacy of their own homes, that affects nobody else but themselves?

    So many people who claim to be Muslims, are committing major atrocities and immorality in the name of Islam, or using Islam to justify evils, and you are worried about the immorality of other?

    You need to get your own house in order before you cast moral judgments upon others.

    • Avatar

      Faisal

      July 23, 2015 at 5:06 PM

      Come on Peter, the problem is not just with a miniscule percentage of Muslims that misinterpret Islam, but a lot to do with ignorant people such as yourself who are just as guilty of misinterpretation. Muslims have nothing to apologise to the world for, though I can think of governments, institutions and countries that do.

      • Avatar

        Ilpalazzo

        July 24, 2015 at 1:22 AM

        And that comment at least proves Zoroastrianism true.

        Congrats, Angra.

        • Avatar

          Peter

          July 24, 2015 at 1:46 AM

          So you are calling me ignorant, but you do not define what I am ignorant of?

          However, your claims that Muslims have nothing to apologies for, reeks of self delusion and ignorance.

          Or are you PROUD of ISIS? Do you support what happened on 9/11? Do you celebrate the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria? Do you congratulate the parents who have mutilated their daughters with female genital mutilation?
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence_of_female_genital_mutilation_by_country

          Or that Slavery is most prevalent in Muslim societies. are you proud of that? Do you want to blow up the Pyramids?

          Seriously? I can readily admit the mistakes of my forefathers, and the western societies. However my system of values I applaud being challenged and questioned. I do not have to live in denial and lies as I feel challenging and questioning my values, is how things get better.

          Clearly denial and ignorance, is the domain that you choose to dwell in.

      • Avatar

        JIHADYourUrges

        October 4, 2015 at 4:38 PM

        Peter, show me where, in Islamic scripture its allowed to kidnap, kill innocent people, hijack planes etc.?
        I think that’s why your being called an ignorant. SOME Muslims should be punished, rest shouldn’t. SOME western people should be punished, rest shouldn’t.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad B.

      July 24, 2015 at 3:24 PM

      [This is the first part of my response. The rest of it appears under the second, expanded posting from Peter Hall.]

      Dear Peter,

      Your post raises a couple of questions in my mind, if you don’t mind:

      (1) Do you believe the liberal state is under an obligation to permit incestuous marriages, particularly those between two siblings of the same sex (as in this case, all the “material” reasons given for the “traditional” prohibition of incest concerning genetic risk, etc. do not exist)? Why or why not?

      (2) Do you believe the American legal system is fundamentally unjust for forcing American women to cover their breasts on public beaches under pain of fine, arrest, or imprisonment, while in France this is a non-issue (and further north you can even go naked in public gardens)? Why or why not?

      (3) If everyone in a “liberal” society can do as they please, why does the state continue to ban and stigmatize willing polygamous marriages and family arrangements? Is the effect of the recent SCOTUS decision that, as we often hear, “all marriages are now equal” and “all families are celebrated,” or merely that “homosexuals can now marry each other” and “gay families are no longer to be stigmatized”? Does so-called “marriage equality” really apply to all, or is this just a convenient slogan to make ourselves feel righteous and good for specifically allowing GAY “marriages”?

      (4) Do you believe people in a liberal society have the right to publicly disagree with the morality of homosexual behavior or to publicly state their belief that true marriage can only consist in the union of a man and a woman, or should the expression of these opinions be banned as “discriminatory” to avoid offending self-identified homosexuals or contributing indirectly to a hostile environment that might prove dangerous to them? Why or why not? [Such rights, by the way, have been severely curtailed in oh-so-“liberal” Canada ever since gay “marriage” was imposed on that nation 10 years ago. See, for instance: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14899/%5D.

      (5) On a similar note, do you believe Pamela Geller has the right to slander Muslims and their faith through public bus ads equating Muslims with Hitler and alleging (erroneously and with no citation) that the Qur’an teaches “Jew-hatred,” or should this right be curtailed to avoid offending Muslims or contributing to a hostile environment which might prove dangerous to them? Why or why not?

      • Avatar

        Peter Hall

        July 25, 2015 at 9:03 AM

        Hi Ahmad,

        I hope you are well. I will try and answer your questions as best as I can. I am not an American, however I have lived there. I am from Australia. However you seem to be confusing matter of law and matters of morality. The laws you are talking about are in relation to the rules of the country, and how its society operates, not its morality.

        In response to your questions in order you asked,

        1)
        a) I do not view The USA as a liberal state, I view it is as one of the more conservative of the Western nations.

        b) I do not believe any state should allow marriages between siblings or first cousins. The reason is that the resulting progeny has a much greater rate of birth defects and low intellect, as a result of these Unions. Therefore the decision to inbreed, is creating a problem which the whole of society is burdened to look after, look at the Royal families of Europe. Up until 100 years ago it was rampant, now great care is taken to avoid it due to the health complications. An example is in the UK where the higher rates of birth defects in Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, and is directly linked to marriages between 1st cousins. Compared to non Muslim communities.

        c) The issues of marriage between same sex siblings is a non issue, please do not waste my time and embarrass yourself.

        The law in the USA previously did not recognize the relationship between homosexuals. Whether you like it or not, homosexuals exist, and the law was not recognizing what in reality already existed. Homosexuality is not illegal in the USA.

        The law cannot deal with what it denies exists. Changing the law does not start or stop relationships between homosexuals, but it does allow the distribution of the assets of Estates and formal structures pertaining to financial support, etc denied to homosexuals, and that makes our society fairer.

        2) The law does no such thing, your bias is showing. I am not a woman, so I cannot answer on behalf of women. However, grew up in a society where some women can CHOOSE go topless, or in some places naked on beaches designated as such. I do not view those women choosing to do so as immoral, and I do not want to rape them, or stone them, or judge them, to me they are females who want to get a better tan.

        Your term “baring her breasts”, indicates to me you are attempting to do some moral grandstanding. The sad thing is I now understand why Muslim women want to cover themselves when around Muslim men, you really do come across as a bit of a pervert.

        The laws in the USA are the same as anywhere else, in that local populations have agreed on places where you can wear clothes and others that you cannot. The law in some places also stops motorcyclists from wearing helmets into Banks. The regulation of what you can or cannot wear in the USA is not Federally regulated but is done so by local Government. These laws also permits women to go naked in designated public places or enclosed areas.

        In my opinion the USA presents more opportunities for a women to decide what she wears, than any Muslim majority society. You seem to be from a closeted viewpoint. Natives in New Guinea, who live naked happily, the majority of the the time, would consider you quite mad.

        So compared to Australia and France, the USA is conservative and restrictive, compared to any Muslim majority country, it is wildly decadent. Your point? You choose to live there, if you do not like Canada, leave. I chose to live in the USA for a number of years, I then CHOSE to move back home.

        3) Name a single society where anybody can do as they please? Like a lot of prejudiced people, you just do not understand the law in the USA does not forbid homosexual relationships. That is a moral issue. Homosexuality was struck from the criminal codes in the USA already.

        The laws that were enacted, recognize the relationships that do exist between some homosexuals. It is a legal contract that infers rights and obligations to both parties and recognized by the state, it allows the State to deal with the property and obligations resultant from these relationships.

        The law also controls the use and availability of alcohol, you cannot give alcohol to people of certain ages, you cannot drink and drive with too much alcohol in your blood stream, you cannot be drunk in certain places. So it is not illegal to drink. However there are laws that Govern the consumption of alcohol to protect people from themselves and others. it is not perfect, but better than nothing at all.

        The same with marriages. The states have rules that protect society, and the people who are in these relationships.

        The law says you cannot marry a 6 yo, why?
        (As a father, I would love it that my daughter can never date until she is 30 and marry a guy I pick. She is my daughter, however she had more realistic boundaries placed upon her by me, and the state. My security and pride comes from it does not matter what the state says or I, I trust her mother and I have raised her with the morals and decision making ability to do the right thing for her.)
        In our society, a person must be intellectually and physically mature enough to understand their obligations and rights on entering into the legal state of marriage. It is not a moral issue but a legal one, so if you marry your 6 yo sister, you should be in prison. Whether you burn in hell or not, is a moral issue, that is not the concern of the law, where there is separation of the church from the state.

        4) I believe in every society you should have the right to do anything you want, as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others. You voicing your believe that a marriage is between a man and a woman only is your right.

        You said “Canada ever since gay “marriage” was imposed ” !!! So when were you forced by the Canadian homosexual to marry him? Really? LOL LOL LOL, I think your husband was lying to you, you did not need to marry him. It may be a bit late now, but I would of talked to someone before the wedding; as I think the law did not mean you HAD to marry a guy.

        Is that why you are so angry, and obsessed with bared breasts?

        You are getting a bit hysterical about this aren’t you? There is exactly the same number of homosexuals with this law as there was before. Well maybe one more if we count your “marriage”. There is very good evidence the incidence of homosexuality is actually higher in Muslim societies due to the strict separation of men from women, and men not being able to afford to pay dowries to get married.

        However Muslims deny what everybody else sees, like ISIS murderers are not Muslims. The sexual trafficking of young boys and girls, and the abuse of such children is a predominantly Muslim business. However Muslims do not view buggery of a young boy who is owned by them as homosexuality. They justify it the same way Muslims deny what other Muslims do, by denying that these Muslims are “real’ Muslims.

        ftp://ftp.repec.org/opt/ReDIF/RePEc/rau/clieui/SP14/CLI-SP14-A5.pdf

        http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/05/the-kingdom-in-the-closet/305774/

        5) Pamela Geller has the right to hold her beliefs. If she wants to expose her beliefs to society, she faces the judgement and scrutiny of those who do not hold her beliefs. I think that anybody who tried to murder her because of her beliefs, must be very insecure about their own system of values.

        So Pam can slander you as much as she likes, and you can slander her back. If she is telling lies, shame her with the truth, if she is wrong, correct her, if she is evil, show her by demonstrating what good is.

        The same as if someone insults the President of the USA, in the USA its almost a national sport, however planning to kill him is a no, no. I am happy for anybody to challenge my beliefs and my theories, that is one way I learn. However anybody who wants to kill me because of what I say, seriously needs help.

        The Qu’ran does say to kill the Jews and hate the Jews, haven’t you read it?

        I can provide some references on the many instances. However, not being a mindless chump, I do contextualize most of these calls to hate and kill, but you cannot deny that the Qu’ran is pretty blood thirty reading. The bible says lots of things that are pretty gruesome too, doesn’t mean you have to do it.

        Muslims keep on saying we non Muslims do not understand the Qu’ran, it is not that we do not understand the Qu’ran, it is Muslims do not understand it. The facts are, the Muslim world is among the MOST illiterate, even in their native tongue.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate

        Therefore the vast MAJORITY of Muslims have never read the Qu’ran, even if they could get translations in their native tongue, they still could not read it. Yet alone the few who can read Arabic, and even less can read the Ancient Arabic it is written in.

        Therefore compared to most Muslims, I have actually read the Qu’ran, and I have read a few translations.

        Muslims are terrified that anybody sees fault in their religion, and in doing so exposes all of the flaws of Muslims. The reason for their terror is they only know how to recite something, that could be an Arabic shopping list, for all they know, in a language they do not understand, and have to believe what they are told it really means. It is not the fault of Islam, it is the fault of Muslims.

    • Avatar

      Mohamed

      July 28, 2015 at 2:04 PM

      You need to let go of this notion my friend. It is perceived that Muslims are the cause for most terrorist acts, but that’s because they are the ones most highlighted in the media. If anything, it is used as a scapegoat mechanism. ISIS is not Islam, and anyone who thinks they are, really needs to understand what kind of a religion Islam is… or just religion in general. They fail to acknowledge the rates of depression and suicide in North America, the occupation of Palestinians, the killings of Rohingya’s, and so many more deaths that aren’t even related to Muslims. There is bad everywhere, trust me! Also, have a look at this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/07/24/there-have-been-204-mass-shootings-and-204-days-in-2015-so-far/ You’d be surprised to find the muslim:non-muslim ratio. However, I don’t think I fully agree with the content of this article. I stand by Nouman Ali Khan’s position of what he thinks Islam’s stance is on Homosexuality, which can be found on YouTube. He says that the act itself, is not permissible. However, to have homosexual or queer feelings is okay since the Quran says nothing about that. I think the most important aspect of his very short talk was that whatever a person decides to do is not our business insofar as we have conveyed to them or if it has been conveyed to them that these actions are forbidden in Islam. He goes on to further say that “we don’t have the license to judge” as this is not our position in life. So as long as one is aware of what they are doing, the rules they are breaking, and the consequences of that, then we have no choice but to let them be. This is speaking of homosexual Muslims, which has risen tremendously. In regards to non-muslims, they have every right to live the life they want and the they have every right to be treated fairly and justly. They deserve the Muslim’s acceptance, compassion, and and care. I truly believe this approach will benefit more people than harm them. And by benefit, I mean the ability for them to see the true Islam. If we continue to disregard homosexuals and condemn them, then consider more hate towards Islam and more ex-muslims. My thoughts only.

      • Avatar

        Peter

        July 30, 2015 at 2:46 PM

        Well, it is not a perception, it is actually a fact. Please no more denial, or trying to muddy the waters. I feel sorry for the situation of the Palestinians, as well as the South Sudanese, as well as peoples everywhere who are oppressed, but there is as much Muslim oppression, as there is non Muslim oppression, I feel sorry for the Copts of Egypt, The Christians of Sudan, The Muslims of China, and the women of Nigeria who have been enslaved by Muslim groups, I feel sorry for the millions of girls who are sexually mutilated because some Muslims believe it is part of Islam.

        What I object to, is the denial of the obvious! Muslims are very quick to point the finger at others. Yet when it comes to critical self examination, denial is the only public response.

        I honestly believe that the average Muslim is no better or no worse than the average Christian or the Average Jew or the Average Hindu. There are evil minorities within EVERY culture and society.

        However the freedom of movement, the ability to commit evil, the ability to abuse or oppress others within a community is directly related to the level of denial that community holds onto.

        The Catholic Church, by its silence, allowed a few Priests to commit horrendous sexual abuse on children. No one said anything, those that did were either ignored or shamed into silence, so the abuse continued for a VERY long time. However, now it is out, anybody who tried to do the same, will not encounter the protection of silence, they face a far greater risk of exposure, and criminal prosecution. The majority of good Catholics will no longer stay silent. If you think such abuse is the sole domain of the Catholic Church you are very wrong, every religion, has the same dirty laundry. Including Islam, and denying it will not make it go away, it only makes it worse.

        Rapist Pedophile Priests are not the fault of the Catholic faith, but of the Catholic followers denying there was a problem. Muslim terrorists are not the fault of Islam, but is the fault of the majority of Muslims who live in denial, who make excuses and who are too scared to be critical.

        If Muslims considering joining ISIS or committing a terrorist act, in the name of Islam, were as scared of the reaction of their fellow Muslims, as if they were to spit on the Qu’ran, or eat pork, or Insult the Prophet Mohammed, there would be no ISIS, there would be no Muslim terrorists.

        However, the average Muslim sits on their hands, and says NOTHING except “they are not real Muslims”, or makes excuses. In doing so they are saying it is ok to rape children, it is ok to behead captives, it is ok to kidnap children and sell them as slaves. Because Muslims will never say anything.

        Yet Muslims stay silent, they deny terrorism is a Muslim problem more than other communities. I am yet to see any mass protests by Muslims about Muslim terrorists, I am yet to see mass rallies objecting to ISIS, I am yet to see mass protests at the treatment of Copts in Egypt, or the execution of journalists or welfare workers by those claiming to be Muslims.

        So everybody can see what is happening, and it festers and grows, because Muslims stay silent.

        Now you may say Islam is a the religion of Peace, and Muslims respect women, and Muslims that to kill just one innocent, is to kill all of mankind, and that Muslims believe there is no compulsion in religion.

        However, the widespread practices of Muslims murdering people in the name of their religion, of mutilation of millions of Muslim female’s genitals every year, of the capture and sexual slavery of children, the forced conversion of girls and captives in their thousands, and the abuse and vilification of minorities by Muslims, such as homosexuals, presents an Islam to the world that is the opposite of what you say.

        If the Catholic Priests raped children in front of cameras, saying it was Gods will, and posted it on U Tube, they would of been hunted down, sacked and if lucky arrested, if unlucky beaten to death by the mobs. No descent person would stand for a child to be abused in public, yet alone let someone do it in the name of their religion something so clearly evil and wrong.

        Yet Muslims are happy to allow other Muslims, to murder aid workers who went to help other Muslims, in the name of Islam, AND BOAST ABOUT IT. Yet what do Muslims do? NOTHING.

        Do you understand now why Muslims are the ones dishonoring Islam? Your denial is a far greater offense against Islam, than the Cartoonist from Charlie Hebro. It is not cartoonists that encourage terrorism and evil, it is the denial that Muslims like you hold onto, in the face of the greatest slandering of Islam ever. That slandering is done by Muslims in the name of Islam, and the bulk of Muslims say NOTHING. YOU let it happen.

        I am tired of hearing how we do not understand Islam, we do not need to, it is Muslims who do not seem to understand that what we see as Muslim Terrorist acts, is not our problem, it is your problem as you are suffering the most from it.

  2. Avatar

    Peter Hall

    July 23, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    I find it amusing, with all the problems within the Muslim world, From lunatics chopping off heads in what they think Islam means, to slavery, female genital mutilation, honor killings, murders, rapes, child brides, terrorism and a multitude of other problems, that you devote your energies writing about what some non Muslims and Muslims do, in the privacy of their own homes, that affects nobody else but themselves?

    So many people who claim to be Muslims, are committing major atrocities and immorality in the name of Islam, or using Islam to justify evils, and you are worried about the immorality of other?

    You need to get your own house in order before you cast moral judgments upon others.

    I am not gay, and I feel no threat to the morality of my society, or my own morality, by homosexuality.

    A free society grants everybody the right to do whatever they please, as long as it does not limit or infringe the rights of others.

    I respect your right not to eat pork, and I would fight against anybody who tries to force you to do so. However in a free society, you have to learn to respect the rights of others, and prioritize the needs of the greater.

    The rights you are exercising in publishing your article, are not available to all under the under the doctrine you are expounding as the higher moral code.

    The fault is not with Islam, but with those who interpret it.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad B.

      July 24, 2015 at 11:28 AM

      (continued from above)

      (6) Do you have a problem with the fact that adoption agencies run and funded by the Catholic Church in Massachusetts were forced by the state to close down for refusing to place children with gay couples, in direct violation of Catholic moral teaching? Or is it okay for the “liberal,” everyone-can-do-as-they-please state to constrict people’s religious rights and freedom of conscience in this manner if they happen to take strong and sincere exception, on the basis of very old and well established beliefs and practices, to the current state orthodoxy on highly complex and contentious moral, philosophical, and metaphysical issues such as these?

      (7) Do you accept that there is a difference between not wanting to serve a gay couple “just because they’re gay” (like refusing to serve them coffee if you own a restaurant) and not wanting to be forced to directly PARTICIPATE YOURSELF in an ACTIVITY that you consider wrong (like having to film a “gay wedding” if you’re a photographer or baking a cake with two “brides” or two “grooms” on top of it)?

      (8) More generally, does the “liberal” state allow me the freedom of conscience to refuse personal participation in activities I deem immoral and deeply offensive, or does it have the right to override my moral autonomy? If so, then in what cases and on what grounds? Whose rights are being privileged over whose, and how do you proceed to make this determination in anything like a fair and objective manner, one that doesn’t call a whole host of (heavily disputable) metaphysical and moral assumptions into play? And does the “liberal” state do this consistently, or just in the special case of homosexuality since that is now all the rage?

      (9) If a gay couple requests a wedding cake in the form of two interlocking male organs, do I now get to refuse on moral grounds, or am I still forced, like a soulless and unthinking machine, to simply “bake the cake” and not dare to judge the propriety of what I’ve been asked to do? If I am a photographer, am I allowed to refuse to take on a nudist wedding because I don’t feel comfortable filming and taking pictures of naked people? May I refuse either case only as long as my objections don’t stem from “religion”? On what basis are you deciding what moral intuitions and commitments the “liberal” state allows me the freedom to act on and what moral intuitions and commitments it is justified in coercing me to violate?

      (10) Finally, does it not strike you as ironic in the least that a notion upheld universally and intuitively by all of mankind throughout its history – namely, that a “marriage” can only consist of the union of a male and a female – is now castigated as the epitome of “bigotry,” “hatred,” and “intolerance”? How is it even remotely plausible that this freakish view of things is all of a sudden the right one and that the collective testimony of practically all human history should stand indicted of fundamental error?

      (continued below)

      • Avatar

        Saif

        July 24, 2015 at 11:56 AM

        Ahmad, your points are overlooked by too many people. I support homosexuals’ rights to live their lives; but I also think it’s ironic when people are forced to “bake gay wedding cakes” etc. And I think it’s a little presumptuous to alter the definition of marriage so flippantly when it has been defined one way for so long. I don’t agree with a lot of this article by the Imam here, but lots of your points are well taken.

      • Avatar

        Peter Hall

        July 24, 2015 at 12:42 PM

        Again you are proudly displaying true ignorance.

        Your examples of how unjust liberal societies are had me laughing on the floor.

        You clearly have absolutely no concept of proportionality. If you are offended by a wedding cake, yet not offended by the actions of ISIS, the problem is sadly your problem. You make so many assumptions, with no basis in fact, and attempt to draw together so many unrelated threads to hide the facts I presented you have turned yourself into a joke, truly!

        I am not a liberal, quite the opposite, and I do hold strong religious views. However, the very basis of the society you are commenting on, is that everybody has the right to do whatever they want, as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of other.

        You seem so self obsessed, that you can only see what offends YOU, or YOUR notion of YOUR belief system. So YOU equate the offense a Muslim might feel, at seeing an image of a gay couple upon a wedding cake as an infringement upon YOUR rights, and therefore YOU think that is all that matters.

        I feel offended every time I see a woman dressed in a burka, however her choice of wearing a burka, does nothing more than offend me, so she can wear a burka, as long as no one expects me to wear one, or tries to tell my wife to wear one, we have no problems.

        However, Muslims need to stop worrying what they get offended over, which seems to be a lot, and start looking after the very real problems facing the Muslim world. Islam is not a victim of gay rights, nor have Muslims. Islam has not failed to create a nice place to live, MUSLIMS have failed to create a society that anybody really wants to live in.

        That is why Muslims flee Muslim lands, they do not want to flee Islam, just their fellow Muslims.

        Now a a western society is by no means perfect, it has many flaws and many petty injustices. That is because it is a man made system, designed by men. It tries to balance out all the things people are offended over, and tries to stop all the things that are evil and bad. However it is a work in progress.

        However Muslims might have the perfect way of life for mankind to live under, they might not, however Muslims have utterly failed at trying to implement a society that people want to live under. Muslims will continue to do so, until they stop being constantly offended over things that do not matter, and start being offended by the actions of their fellow Muslims.

        I am yet to here of a slaughter of Muslims by homosexuals, I am yet to see Homosexuals owning Muslims, I am yet to see Homosexuals blowing up Mosques and crashing into buildings. I am yet to hear of Muslims being forced into Homosexuality by non Muslim Homosexuals or threatened with death.

        So you may want to continue with the wedding cake argument, for fight for the Catholic Churches right on who to grant adoptions too.

        In my society you can do that. In your idea of a society you may not have offensive wedding cakes, or for that matter adoptions at all. However we all know that not many people really want to live in your society when faced with the reality of it, they beg to flee your norms to live under mine.

        Or are there boatloads of Americans, Canadians and Australians washing up on the shores of Saudi Arabia? Are Britons, Sweds and Dutch begging to live in Lebanon, Egypt or Libya?

        Why are Iraqi and Pakistanis fleeing on boats, risking their lives to get to a country like Australia, when Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman are rich Muslim countries and right next door??

        It is not the failure of Islam, it is the overwhelming failure of Muslims to be able to create a society, that sane person would want to live in. The proof is the number of Muslims fleeing to non Muslim societies in their tens of millions.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad B.

      July 24, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      (continued from above)

      Of course we all know that it is bogus to speak of a “liberal state” that just lets everyone live however they want. No state has ever done this, nor can it. There is, in fact, a very particular set of moral standards and values, based on a very specific set of metaphysical assumptions (even if only implicit) regarding the human person, right and wrong, etc., lying at the basis of everything the “liberal” state does, and this particular — and heavily disputed — set of assumptions gets imposed on everybody through coercive legal means despite their own metaphysical commitments, as we see in the case of the de facto criminalization of various forms of non-endorsement of homosexual behavior.

      As I said, this is probably inevitable on some level if society is to have any chance of holding together at all. I just find it enormously disingenuous (or ignorant) when self-described “liberals” insist on masking this fact and pretending that they are just being perfectly neutral, imposing nothing on anyone, just letting everyone live as they please and follow the lights of their own conscience and worldview, and why can’t everyone else in the world be equally “enlightened” and “tolerant” as we? You should at least admit that you are, in a very real sense, imposing your own “religion” — that of a secular humanism grounded in an essentially materialistic metaphysics and a subjectivist view of human nature and the good — on Christians, Muslims, Jews, and everyone else, rather than pretend that you are just benignly running a neutral state that isn’t coercing adherence to a specific doctrine or morality. Then we could have a serious discussion about the merits and demerits of overall worldviews and ethical systems, rather than the facile assumption that atavistic Muslims seek to “impose” their religion on everyone else while enlightened Western liberals do not.

    • Avatar

      Nik

      September 24, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      hey peter, love your comments. i agree with all the things you said.. would love to hear from you. you seem like a guy who knows some stuff. do you have a blog or anything where i can follow you? let me know..

  3. Avatar

    Faisal

    July 23, 2015 at 12:47 PM

    American Muslims, if that’s what they want to call themselves, need to understand that Islam totally rejects and negates the ‘gay lifestyle’ for both genders, like all other major world religions. That’s the bottom line. Now if Muslims in America feel that they will be discriminated against because of this belief then the best thing would be to leave the country, rather than showing acceptance to this law. Americans can legislate as they will, but Muslims cannot.

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    mr.who

    July 23, 2015 at 1:45 PM

    //The majority of the confusion regarding this legislation is about how a Muslim should interact with an individual or society that engages in such actions;//
    How should a muslim interact with sinners who do worst than homosexuality? I’m talking about sins such as shirk?

    // and secondly, is it right for a Muslim to support such legislation.//
    Should we also un-support the currently legislated freedom to practice any religion of choice – such as idolator, satanism and gasp! Islam?! Or do we only withdraw support when it doesn’t harm us?

  5. Avatar

    Ilham

    July 23, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    Imam Smith, jazakAllahu khair for the beautifully written Open Letter. You hit the nail on the coffin with your analysis on how some Muslims erroneously demonize our religion so that others could better ‘understand.’ Our religion is free from faults, alhamdulillah.

    Peter, 1.8 billion people. Do the math and you’ll understand while Faisal said ‘minuscule percentage.’ When a white man commits mass murder (serial killers profile is a white male), do I have a right to blame white people? Do I have a right to tell them that they are not allowed to have an opinion on anything until they ‘get your house in order?’ By the way, your statement is completely false as Muslims overseas and at home have been denouncing acts of terror and technically speaking ISIS are not even considered Muslim! We are fighting non-Muslim terrorists who use our name to kill us and others.

    Rohingya Muslims are facing a genocide right now and barely anyone knows this. The ‘peaceful’ Buddhist are slaughtering Muslims in Burma, but hey who cares. The people of Kashmir are burned alive, but whatever. The Chinese Muslims are told they cant even fast!

    But whatever…

    • Avatar

      Peter Hall

      July 25, 2015 at 5:59 AM

      1.8 billion Muslims? There are 2.2 Billion Christians, so what?

      Your religion might be perfect, however it is pretty clear that the followers of Islam seem to have missed the bit about religion of peace, and there being no compulsion in religion. So my criticism is not of Islam, but of Muslims. Clearly most Muslims do not have a clear idea of morality, or of the dictates of what is fair and what is unfair.

      Clearly Muslims have failed to establish livable societies that are fair to the people who live in them. Muslims have failed to establish societies that are self sufficient, that can feed their population and act in a human way. The only Muslim societies that have survived for any period of time have been where the bulk of the population is subjugated or exploited in some way. Or have relied on hand outs.

      This is not only true of Muslim Societies, as it has characterized many Western Societies as well. However as Western societies have progressed from oppressive structures, Muslim societies have not. You do not understand that with freedoms come responsibilities.

      You do not get why you offend others, you are only cognitive of how other offend you.

      You again grab for the victim card to justify victimizing others. You do not understand that saying you have rights that are being denied, means you can then deny the rights of Homosexuals. The victim card is not a get out of jail for free card.

      If you want your rights respected, you need to respect the rights of others, you need to develop some maturity and acknowledge that Muslims are not perfect, and they way you Practice your religion is not only offensive to many people, but how many Muslims practice their religion is downright dangerous to everybody else but mostly to other Muslims.

      Funny you mention the Chinese Muslims, the Burmese Muslims and even Kashmir, YET YOU FAIL TO MENTION or even admit the greatest number of Muslims being slaughtered are by Muslims slaughtering other Muslims in the name of Islam, they are busy slaughtering the wrong type of Muslim. Get real man, you are so deluded it is scary.

      The reason Muslims are so dangerous to other Muslims, and everybody else in general, is they only kill other Muslims they consider not true Muslims. So denying Muslims who murder other Muslims is just the typical Muslim thing to do!

      It would be like me saying catholic Priests who molest boys are not Catholic Priests. So therefore there are no Catholic Priests molesting little boys. Clearly you are using a line of reasoning only reserved for an idiot.

      However being in denial you will not comprehend the stupidity of your statement, like only :”white men are serial killers”. OMG you are not only ignorant but clearly a racist.

      The top serial killers are dominated by non whites, the top ten have only 1 white man who comes in at number 10

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_by_number_of_victims

      Now looking at the rate Muslims seem to love slaughtering other Muslims, it amazes me you would bring up senseless murder. As Muslims seem to have cornered the market at killing each other. The only people Muslims of the last 50 years have been any good at killing, has been each other. For every Muslim murdered, by a non Christian, 7,900 Muslims are murdered by their fellow Muslims. That’s a 7,900 to 1 kill ratio

      So Muslims are far better at killing other Muslims than non Muslims are.

      Also the victims of Muslim extremists, are in the vast majority, other Muslims. Muslim terrorist mainly target other Muslims, they consider to be not the right type of Muslim. Just like you think you are the right type of Muslim, and ISIS would want to kill you.So Muslims are far better at killing other Muslims than non Muslims are at killing Muslims.

      So you may want to deny the facts, and make up facts. However the facts show, if Muslims want to stop the vast majority of innocent Muslims being killed, it is the actions of other Muslims that need to be addressed. If Muslims want to demand respect, they better learn to respect others first.

      The sad reality is, that Muslim countries are ineffectual in anything else except killing each other, and breeding, and living on hand outs. The Golden age of Islam is long gone, Muslims need a helping hand far more now than ever before, as you have outbred the capacity to feed yourselves, and with the exception of a few oil rich countries that are totally dependent of non Muslims to recover these resources, Muslim societies are total basket cases.

      Muslims make up 22% of the worlds population, and only 1.8% of the worlds GDP. Unless Muslims start asking for help more, and demanding less, the lot of the worlds Muslims will only deteriorate further.

  6. Avatar

    Rabia

    July 23, 2015 at 11:15 PM

    I find it astonishing that you say the moral code set in Islam is static. Is Islam a religion for all times or not? Is Quran a Book for all times or not? If it is indeed a living religion and document then it must be reinterpreted for every era and not remain frozen in 6th century Arab desert tribalism, otherwise it becomes a stagnant code with little relevance in the 21st century.

    If the moral code is static then slavery should be condoned. But we see that humanity has outstripped that as a moral value. No human being should OWN another human being. Women as war booty, concubinage, other things considered ‘moral’ by religion are no longer considered that because humanity has moved beyond them. Which implies that if considered static and absolute, religion and its moral codes become redundant. It is only by constantly reinterpreting religion and its codes according to the current era that it stays a living, relevant ideology.

    • Avatar

      Rob Squared

      July 24, 2015 at 1:13 AM

      The Shari’ah is static. Our understanding of it and willingness to practice it are not. Moving beyond the Shari’ah is not something to be proud of.

    • Avatar

      Saif

      July 24, 2015 at 11:52 AM

      Rabia, well put. It does no good to say that Shariah is 100% static. It is a false statement at the face, because nothing can be kept 100% static. We must decide what we should change and what should be kept the same. How we respond to homosexuality is simply another such thing that we have to decide on. America has perhaps forced this issue on us before we are ready for it… but perhaps that is good.

      Anyway, I agree with Imam Mikaeel that Muslims should not compromise their principles just for political convenience as Aslan and Minhaj are saying. But I disagree that the principles are static; I agree with you that they must change with the times.

    • Avatar

      M.Mahmud

      July 25, 2015 at 1:45 PM

      Islam will stay relevant and alive despite the efforts of munafiqeen and kuffar to make it fit with standards other than those of the very first Muslims.

  7. Avatar

    Ilpalazzo

    July 24, 2015 at 1:16 AM

    The author displays her hypocrisy by considering Muslims to be tools for removing evil (as if their personified God himself couldn’t) as an analogy for removing cancer, yet ‘fails to realize’ that Islam is a cancer to the US. Therefore, we would be justified on flipping the argument back onto them and would be labeled bigots for doing so. Also, the author ‘fails to realize’ that just because something is legalized, doesn’t make it automatically ‘good’. Everything is circumstantial, but in the US the marriage licensing is a business and there is a separation of church and state in that regard. I’m personally not a fan of gay marriage, but it also doesn’t affect me either. So if you’re bugged by it, move to a beautiful, peaceful Islamic country.

  8. Avatar

    Saif

    July 24, 2015 at 11:48 AM

    I find this article to be both highly principled, but also somewhat disturbing, at the same time. The Aslan/Minhaj article was found lacking by a lot of people, because it was not a defense of gay rights so much as it was a call to the Muslim community to enter into a “marriage of convenience” with their cause, because as another minority group here in America, we should be speaking up for their rights so they will speak up for ours. The Imam in the article above is, in effect, saying “Muslims should not compromise their principles for political convenience.” And there is a lot of integrity in that.

    But what is scary to me, and to many others I’m sure, is the part where he explains how Muslims do not force the issue of Shariah in America because it is a foreign land, but must maintain that it is the ideal nonetheless; and presumably, that Muslims would support Shariah if it ever COULD be implemented in America, and of course support its implementation abroad. Unfortunately, the picture that many people have in their minds about what “Shariah” would do to homosexuals is really disturbing to a lot of people. Even many Muslims who wish to follow their faith are disturbed by the idea that homosexuals should be oppressed (this is not to say we need to allow gay marriage, and to PROMOTE homosexuality, but certainly, there is a balance that might be sought between what happens in Muslim countries, and according to classical Shariah as most people understand it).

    If the Imam could respond and say what he thinks should happen with homosexuals under Shariah, that would be appreciated. I trust he does not believe that they should be killed for engaging in homosexuality… and if he does not, then I assume that he agrees with me that it is much better to be over-tolerant of homosexuality (as we perhaps are in the west) than to brutally oppress it (as seems to be done in most countries that claim to practice Shariah). To put it more succinctly, Imam Mikaeel- or anyone else who is defending this article- what would be your policy towards homosexuals if you were elected president of the US? And how would you reconcile your policy with your faith as a Muslim?

  9. Avatar

    Hue Man

    July 24, 2015 at 4:34 PM

    Thank you for being straight forward about the issue in this article.

  10. Avatar

    Ste

    July 25, 2015 at 2:37 AM

    “I find it extremely disturbing that being true to what one believes can be called hypocrisy, when in reality it is the exact opposite.”

    Actually, this only became an issue when Muslims bought first class tickets to ride the Victimization Gravy Train. Once Muslims insisted everyone cater to their sensitivities and indulge their persecution fantasies, it began to look hypocritical for Muslims to oppose gays. You think gay sex is immoral? I think cousin marriage, child marriage, concubinage and polygamy are immoral. Why should I tolerate Muslims if they don’t tolerate gays?

    If I look at the big picture, one of the fascinating things about the new Muslim community of the United States is the calculated way in which they have pursued status as a victimized group. That’s why I am always checking in on my old friends at MuslimMatters. CAIR is modeled after the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. The Jews had the Holocaust. The Muslims have the Palestinians, the Bosnians and the Rohingya. Muslims have made great efforts to attach their struggles as “brown people” to the white guilt towards black Americans. I loved the Muslim fund drive to rebuild black churches after the Charleston shooting. Way to be obvious, Muslims!

    All of this has worked so far, but it cannot be maintained if Muslims act on their own religious prejudices too much. The rhetoric in the above article is going to remind a lot of people of the Moral Majority. In the meantime, Faisal wants everyone to make their hijrah to Muslim lands, which he knows very well they are not going to do. At this point, I sense a checkmate for Muslims, a pivotal point at which they may have to redefine the whole game they are playing in the US.

    • Avatar

      alex

      November 2, 2015 at 11:34 PM

      That’s true people can show human kindness no matter what race or religion because God created all humans

      God bless you

  11. Avatar

    Ahmad B.

    July 28, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    Assalamu ‘alaikum,

    For anyone still following this thread, here is an excellent analysis (from a well-known legal thinker and author) of the premises and implications of the Obergefell decision: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stanley-fish/scalia-gets-it-pretty-muc_b_7880118.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592.

    The author, Stanley Fish, nicely sums up many very important points. Most salient is the fact that the SCOTUS decision represents not the impartial application of the obvious principles and provisions of the Constitution, but the substituting of one moral regime for another. The author rightly faults the majority decision (and I would add to that the whole rhetoric of the liberal left on this issue) for masking this reality under the rhetorical guise of a purely objective application of legal “impartiality.”

    I agree with Fish that they are at fault for this — and no one, certainly not Muslims, should be hoodwinked by such maneuvers! — but disagree with his implied stance that a proper handling of the case could even theoretically have taken place on “purely legal” terms without appealing to some type of moral framework or another. By the very nature of who we are as human beings, law and morality are too deeply intertwined for such a thing to be possible on any but the most mundane and mechanical level of procedure, traffic law, etc. — but certainly not when it comes to life-critical issues like sexuality morality and marriage norms (or, for that matter, reproductive technologies, abortion, end of life issues, etc.).

    At least Islamic Law admits this fact forthrightly, unapologetically recognizing that the provisions of the Shari’a rest on explicitly moral concerns and considerations — as legislated by the Lawgiver Himself for the benefit of all. A law that didn’t do this would hardly be worth the name, and certainly not worthy of man, whom Allah has created as “khalifat Allahi fi-l-ard” (God’s vicegerent on Earth). Liberalism, on the other hand, denies itself the resources to make explicit moral claims, though of course it cannot avoid doing so implicitly, so it is constantly involved in a disingenuous game of smoke and mirrors, pretending that it is just benignly ruling with perfect impartiality among competing rights and interests and not, as is the case, imposing through the arm of the state a very particular moral — and, by implication, metaphysical — outlook on the population. (These issues are dealt with nicely in Daniel Haqiqatjou’s article of July 20 on this website, “Debating Homosexuality,” which can be found here: http://muslimmatters.org/2015/07/20/debating-homosexuality/).

    This article linked to above by Fish and the concerns it raises makes it even clearer for me how problematic it is for any Muslim leader to declare public support for this decision, or to write it off as no concern of ours, or to concede that “as a matter of the Constitution, the issue is clear (i.e., we agree that the Constitution disallows “discrimination” and therefore concede that “gay marriage” is an obvious and indisputable right).” Since such a stance cannot but be a moral one, as this article makes clear, upholding and expressing this view hands the entire MORAL debate to the secular left on a silver platter, in a manner that directly contradicts our own moral commitments — and those of other religious communities, or even non-religious individuals who believe in natural marriage and family relationships — and undermines our ability to articulate and defend those commitments not just in the public sphere, but even, eventually, within the confines of our own mosques and communities.

  12. Avatar

    Mike Bee

    October 8, 2015 at 4:27 AM

    i have heard a figure that 40-50% of run aways are on the street are there due family conflicts around youth LGBT issues. How does Islam address such issues? In what ways does Islam provide hope or alternatives?

  13. Pingback: » From a Same-Sex Attracted Muslim: Between Denial of Reality and Distortion of Religion

  14. Avatar

    abedeen

    February 11, 2019 at 7:23 AM

    The people of the twin cities transgressed against the bounds of God. According to the Quran, their sins included inhospitality and robbery [18] they hated strangers and robbed travellers, apart from other mistreatments and rape. It was their sin of sexual misconduct as well which was seen as particularly egregious, with Lot strongly chiding them for approaching men with sexual desire instead of women.[19][20] Lot exhorted them to abandon their sinful ways, but they ridiculed him[21] and threatened to evict him from the cities.[22] by saying that this man wants to be ‘Pure’ .Lot prayed to God and begged to be saved from the consequences of their sinful acts.[4][23]

    Then two angels, disguised as handsome males, came to Lot. He became distressed due to his powerlessness to protect the visitors from the people of the cities.[24] The cities’ residents demanded that Lot surrender his guests to them.[25] He offered them his daughters instead out of shame for his guests,[26][27] but they were unrelenting and replied “we have no need of your daughters: indeed you know quite well what we want!”[28] The Quran remarks “they moved blindly intoxicated in the frenzy of approaching death”.[4][29] The exegetes Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi and Tabari do not read ‘daughters’ to mean Lot’s literal daughters. They argue that since a prophet is like a father to his nation, Lot was directing the evildoers to turn away from their sins and engage in healthy relationships with the daughters of the nation, i.e. women in general.[30]

    The angels then revealed their true identities to Lot, and told him that they had been sent by God to “bring down upon the folk of this township a fury from the sky because they are evil-doers”.[4] They advised Lot to leave the place during the night and not look back, informing him that his wife would be left behind on account of her sinful nature.[31] Keeping his faith in God, Lot left the cities during the night with his believing family members and others who believed in him. When morning came, God turned the cities upside down, and rained down on them stones hard as baked clay,[32] putting an end to the lives of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.[4]

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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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#Society

A Code of Conduct To Protect Against Spiritual Abuse

Danish Qasim

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Code of Conduct for Islamic Leadership, Institutions

When there is a claim of spiritual abuse, the initial reaction of concerned Muslims is often to go to another Muslim leader and expect that leader to take care of it.  Most of the time, however, religious leaders in the community have no authority over other religious leaders who are found abusing their position. Many of these leaders feel a foreboding sense of powerlessness to exert change, leaving those who abuse, to do so freely and with impunity. 

There have been attempts by some leaders to take action against abusive religious figures. However, when this happens, it is usually followed by a public or ‘in-group’ campaign against the abusive figure, and the abusive figure and his supporters return in kind. This becomes messy, quickly. There is name-calling, mud-slinging, and threats, but in the end, it amounts to nothing, in the end, leaving everyone involved to make their own decision as to whether or not to continue support for the alleged perpetrator. Other religious leaders may know the accused is guilty, but due to friendships or programs they wish to continue doing with the accused, they will cover for them, especially when there is only a perceived low level of evidence that the public could ever discover it. 

There are several methods and excuses through which abuse is covered up.

The Wall of Silence

In cases of tightly knit groups, whether Sufi tariqas, super Salafi cliques, activist groups, or preachers who have formed a team, the abuser will be protected by a wall of silence, while the victim is targeted, maligned, and ostracized for speaking out against the leader. They, not the abuser, are held accountable, liable, and blamed. While the abuser is expected to be ‘forgiven,’ the victim is socially shamed for a crime committed against him or her. More often than not, the victim is intimidated into silence, while the perpetrator is left free to continue abusing. 

The Kafir Court Rationale

There have been countless situations when there have been legal claims made against a transgressing spiritual leader, but through coercion and pressure, the shaykh (or those close to him) will be able to convince his victim that they are not allowed to go to kafir court systems to solve issues between Muslims. Ironically, these same shaykhs see no difficulty signing legally binding contracts with other Muslims they do business with, or when they give classes, which stands to reason, they are perfectly fine accepting the same ‘kafir court’ as a source of protection when it is for themselves. 

Stop Hurting the Dawah Plea

In other cases, when the disputes are between fellow students, or representatives of the shaykh and those lower ranking students, the shaykh himself is able to get on the phone with the disgruntled victim, give him or her special attention, and convince the person to drop it and not pursue justice, as that may ‘hurt the dawah.’ Sometimes, the shaykhs will ostensibly push for Islamic mechanisms of justice and call for arbitration by other religious figures who they know will decide in his favor. It is critical not to fall victim to these arguments. 

Your Vile Nafs Culpe

Far too often in these groups, particularly the more spiritually inclined ones, everyone will acknowledge the abuse, whether illicit sexual behavior, groping, financial fraud, secret temporary marriages, or bullying by a Shaykh, but steadfastly invoke the ‘only prophets are perfect, and our Shaykh is a wali–– but he can make mistakes’ refrain. Then, when those seeking recourse dare disclose these issues, even when there is no dispute about the factuality of their claims, they are browbeaten into compliance; told their focus on the negative is a sign that they are ‘veiled from the more important, positive efforts of the group, and it is they who should overcome their vile nafs.’ With such groups, leaving may be the only solution. 

Pray it Away Pretext

Sometimes, a target of abuse may go to other teachers or other people in the community to seek help, guidance, or direction. The victims hold these teachers in high regard and believe that they can trust them. However, instead of these teachers acting to protect the victims, the victims are often placated, told to pray it away. They are left with empty platitudes, but nothing concrete is ever done to protect them, nor is there any follow-up. 

The Forgive and Forget Pardon

They are told to forgive…

Forgiveness has its place and time, but at that critical moment, when a victim is in crisis and requires guidance and help, their wellbeing should remain paramount. To counsel victims that their primary job and focus at that pivotal juncture is to forgive their abuser is highly objectionable. Forgiveness is not the obligation of the victim and for any teacher or religious leader to invalidate the wrong that took place is not only counterproductive but dangerous––even if the intention behind the advice came from a wholesome place.

The Dire Need For A Code of Conduct

It is very easy to feel let down when nothing is done about teachers who abuse, but we have to understand that without a Code of Conduct, there really isn’t much that can be done when the spiritual abuse is not considered illegal. It is the duty of Islamic institutions to protect employees, attendees, and religious leaders. We also must demand that. 

Justice is a process. It is not a net result. This means that sometimes we will follow the process of justice and still come up short. The best thing we can do to hold abusers accountable for our institutions is to set up a process of accountability. A code of conduct will not eliminate spiritual abuse. Institutions that adopt this code may still cover up abuse, in which case victims will need to take action against the institution for violating the code. This code of conduct will also protect teachers who can be targetted and falsely accused.

As members of the community, we should expect more.  Here is how:

  •  Demand your Islamic institutions to have and instill a code of conduct. 
  •  If you are in a group outside of an institution, get clarity on the limits of the Shaykh.
  •  Understand that anyone, no matter their social status, is capable of doing horrible things, even the religious figures who talk about the importance of justice, accountability, and transparency. 
  • When it comes to money, expect more from your leadership than emotional appeals. Fundraising causes follow trends, and while supporting good causes is a positive thing, doing so without a proper audit or accountability is not. It lends itself to financial abuse, mistrust, and misappropriation.  

Establish a Protocol

A lot of hurt can be saved and distrust salvaged if victims are provided with honest non-judgment. Even in the event that there is a lack of concrete evidence, a protocol to handle these kinds of sensitive situations can provide a victim with a safe space to go to where they know they won’t be ignored or treated callously. We may not be able to guarantee an outcome, but we can ensure that we’ll try.

Using Contract Law to Hold Abusers Accountable – Danya Shakfeh

In cases of spiritual abuse, legal recourse (or any recourse for that matter) has been rare due to there being no standard of conduct and no legal means to hold abusers accountable.  In order to solve this problem, our Code of Conduct creates a legal mechanism of enforcement through contract law.

The reason why contract law is important and applicable is that the law does not always address unethical behavior.  You have heard the refrain “Just because it is legal, it does not mean it is ethical.” The law, for varying reasons, has its limits. Although we associate the law with justice and morality, the law and justice and morality are not always interchangeable and can even be at odds with each other.  

Ultimately, specifically in a secular society, the law is a set man-made rules and sometimes those rules are arbitrary and actually unfair. For example, there is a class of laws called ‘strict liability’ laws. These laws make a defendant liable even if the person committed the offense by accident.  One example of strict liability law is selling alcohol to a minor. In some states, even if the person tried to confirm the minor’s legal age, the seller could still be held liable for the offense. On the flip-side, there are is a lack of anti-bullying laws on the books in the United States. This allows employers to cause serious emotional damage to employees, yet the employer can get away with such offensive behavior.  Accordingly, the law does not always protect nor is it always ‘just.’

On Power, Boundaries, And The Accountability Of Imams

This is one of the reasons that victims of spiritual abuse have had little success in having their claims addressed at a legal level.  Because abuses are not legally recognized as such, there is often no associated remedy. For example, when a woman enters into a secret second marriage only to find that the husband is not giving her all her Islamic legal rights, that woman’s recourse is very limited because the law does not recognize this as abuse and does not even recognize the marriage.

Further, if a victim of spiritual abuse is abused due to religious manipulation unless the abuser engaged in a stand-alone crime or civil claim, the victim also has no legal recourse. For example, if a religious scholar exploits a congregant’s vulnerabilities in order to convince the congregant to turn over large amounts of money and the congregant later learns that the Islamic scholar did not really need the money, he or she may have no legal recourse.  This is because manipulation (as long as there is no fraud) is not illegal and depending on how clever the religious scholar was, the congregant would have no legal recourse. Our way of solving this problem is by using contract law to set and enforce the standard for ethical behavior.

Use of Institutional Handbooks

Whether people realize it or not, institutional handbooks are a type of contract. Though an attorney should be consulted in order to ensure that they these documents are binding, policies do not necessarily need to be signed by every party nor do they need to be called a “contract” in order to be legally binding.  By creating institutional handbooks and employment policies that relate to common issues of spiritual abuse, we can finally provide guidelines and remedies.

When an employee at an institution violates the institution’s policies, this is a “breach of contract” that can result in firing or even monetary damages. In other words, the policy is that document which victims and institutions can use to back their cases when there are allegations involving abuse.  Policies can also hold institutions themselves liable for not enforcing the policy and remedies as to victims’ abuse. Policies also serve the purpose of putting the community and their beneficiaries and patrons on notice as to what is expected of them.

Our Code of Conduct is the most comprehensive of created ethical guidelines for Muslims leaders and institutions for making spiritual abuse remedies actionable. We believe it will provide remedies to victims that would otherwise not be available through other legal means.  By binding the parties to a contract, victims and institutions can take these contracts, along with the abusers, to court and use the contract to fill in the gap for appropriate behavior that the law otherwise does not fill.

Download the Code of Conduct For Islamic Leadership By In Shaykh’s Clothing

Blurred Lines: Women, “Celebrity” Shaykhs, and Spiritual Abuse

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#Current Affairs

The Environmental Cost Of War With Iran

Abu Ryan Dardir

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war with Iran

Report after report shows how planet Earth may reach a point of no return. An analysis written by Ian Dunlop claims the planet cannot be saved by the mid-century if we continue on this path. And yet here we are marching towards a war with Iran.

When we think of climate change, we rarely think of war. On June 12th, 2019, Brown University released a report declaring the Department of Defence to be “the world’s largest institution to use petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” Burning jet fuel for transportation of troops and weapons make up 70 percent of the Pentagon’s emissions.  Ironically, earlier this year the Pentagon released a 22-page report to Congress stating the ⅔ of their mission-essential installation in the US are vulnerable to flooding, and ½ are susceptible to wildfires. To no surprise, Trump rejected those findings at the time. The Pentagon is now concerned with the impact climate change has on their “foreign missions.”

war, iran, America, Climate change, pentagonWith tensions high with Iran, and several thousand troops are expected to be deployed, if war with Iran is to happen, it may lead us to a more damaged planet that may not recover. This makes the Pentagon guilty of killing people and the earth. The Department of Defense has consistently used between 77-80% of the entire US energy consumption. We see spikes during times of massive war (since America is in a constant state of war), like in 1991, 2001, and so on.

Here is a list of the seven significant sources of greenhouse emissions done by the Department of Defense:

  1. Overall military emissions for installations and non-war operations.
  2. War-related emissions by the US military in overseas contingency operations.
  3. Emissions caused by US military industry   — for instance, for production of weapons and ammunition.
  4. Emissions caused by the direct targeting of petroleum,   namely the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties.
  5. Sources of emissions by other belligerents.
  6. Energy consumed by reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure.
  7. Emissions from other sources, such as fire suppression and extinguishing chemicals, including   Halon, a greenhouse gas, and from explosions and fires due to the destruction of non-petroleum targets in warzones.

This impact on the climate is just the portion from America, in the Iraq war, 37 countries fought alongside America, and 60 are allied against ISIS. There is a way to calculate those emissions as well.

The Rules of War

Before engaging in battle, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed his soldiers:

  1. Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
  2. Do not practice treachery or mutilation. (Al-Muwatta)
  3. Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. (Al-Muwatta)
  4. Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food. (Al-Muwatta)
  5. If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
  6. Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
  7. Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle. (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
  8. Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience. (Sahih Muslim)
  9. No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire. (Sunan Abu Dawud).
  10. Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and not to do wrong even if they commit evil. (Al-Tirmidhi)

A verse in the Holy Qur’an

4:75 (Y. Ali) And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!”

How does this potential war against Iran play into all this?

Our first call to action is to organize an anti-war rally. This type of work is weak in America, and virtually non-existent within the Muslim community.

فَقَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ أَمَّا هَذَا فَقَدْ قَضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَنْ رَأَى مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُنْكِرْهُ بِيَدِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏

Abu Sa’eed said: ‘As for this, he has fulfilled what is upon him. I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying: ‘Whoever among you sees an evil, then let him stop it with his hand. Whoever is not able, then with his tongue, and whoever is not able, then with his heart. That is the weakest of faith.”‘

War with Iran will be a Greater Mistake than War with Iraq

Historically, anti-war sentiment in America has grown over the years. When the Iraq war first started only 23% thought it was a mistake, today it is close to 60% that believe the war is a mistake. Yes, this is in hindsight, but that it is also growth. The reason the anti-war movement is feeble in America is that there is no platform for the campaign to grow. Both parties are guilty of starting wars or taking over the wars from the past administration. Whether we do it alone as an individual or as a group, we should do everything we can as privileged members of this planet to save and protect those that can’t defend themselves.

There is a famous quote of the famed boxer Muhammad Ali when explaining why he wasn’t fighting in the war. He said, “…I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.”

Fighting Earth

With that said, there is a significant interest in the region for more than just fuel and resources. It is truly a problem, our operations in the Gulf is to address our dependency on Persian oil, and the fuel that is used to address our dependence is to protect those resources and access to them. One estimate is that America spends $81 billion annually defending the global oil supply. They do this because the DOD feels its dependency will make it vulnerable on a larger scale.

In 1975 America decided to take away the fear of losing the resources and developed the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” and in 1978, they created the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). Their only purpose was to defend US interest in the Middle East. This, in turn, leads to extractivism of resources and supplies. (Which will be explained in a future article).

This war can be the end of all wars as it can accelerate us to the point of no return in regards to climate change.

A war with Iran is a war with Earth and all who live on it.

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