Connect with us

#Society

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

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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.

Read Dealing With Homosexual Urges

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.

Read: Gay and Muslim?

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]

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 and 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 gives meaning to life and society, and this morality that liberates man while unifying him with others.

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

Imam Mikaeel Ahmed Smith (Michael V Smith) is an Islamic scholar, writer, and activist striving to meet the educational needs of communities at the Qalam Institute in Texas. He served as the Islamic & Quran Coordinator and Islamic Studies Teacher for the Tarbiyah Academy. Imam Mikaeel previously served as a resident scholar at the Islamic Society of Annapolis and the Islamic Society of Baltimore. At the age of 18, he embraced Islam after reading the Qur’an and the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Within a year after his shahadah, Imam Mikaeel enrolled at the Dar ul-Uloom al-Madania in Buffalo, NY, where he learned to read Arabic and memorized the Qur’an. In 2008, he traveled overseas to study Arabic at the Jami’a Abu Noor in Damascus, Syria. Imam Mikaeel is passionate about meeting the needs of students of knowledge, building Islamic literacy, working with youth, and striving for social justice.

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.

  4. Avatar

    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]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Culture

Book Review of Revolution by the Book by Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (Formerly known As H Rap Brown)

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s magnum opus, Revolution by the Book, is a paradigmatic Islamic liberation theology manifesto. It gives an outline of spiritual cultivation specific to the experience of the marginalized who are advocating for freedom from structural oppression, particularly Black Americans in the context in which Imam Jamil is writing. In his book, Imam Jamil Al-Amin argues that Islamic religious practice, which he refers to as “the Muslim program” provides a successful guide to revolution, specifically for Black Americans who have been marginalized, dehumanized, and oppressed in the United States for over 400 years. This revolution is not to be understood in the context of the masses suddenly rising up and overthrowing the ruling class. Rather, it is a suttle and spiritual revolution of the hearts. Imam Al-Amin argues that only through the revolution of self can a person be able to revolutionize the community around them. He writes that “It is said in Islam that the greatest struggle is the struggle against the evil of self. The struggle against the evil of self is the great Jihad, the foremost holy struggle,” alluding to a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him). The book’s quotations are almost completely from two sources: the Qur’an and ahadith, which are sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Revolution by the Book is adorned with these two sources of Islamic knowledge. It is seldom impossible to find a page of the book without either a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him), or a verse of the Qur’an. Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s book begins with Surah Fatihah, the opening chapter of the Qur’an. Following them come the 10 chapters of the book all deal with a particular aspect of this program. Each chapter begins with a particular set of verses of the Qur’an.

The first chapter, “God Alone” stresses the importance of belief in God in transforming society. Without this belief, society cannot move forward in improving itself. It is followed by a chapter entitled “Born to Worship” which emphasizes the importance of prayer. Thereafter comes a chapter titled “Holy Money” which speaks of the importance of charity, which morphs into a discussion on the sociopolitical imperative of investing one’s money in the community. Then comes “God’s Diet” which speaks of the importance of fasting and eating healthy food. The fifth chapter is titled “Pilgrim’s Progress” and mentions the Hajj, and how Islam connects Muslims to a broader community of brothers and sisters around the world. The book is then followed by a chapter titled “God Natured” which speaks of the importance of the fitrah, or original nature of submission to God that all human beings possess, described in a hadith by the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him). The book then presents a chapter titled “Turn Right at the Light” which emphasizes the importance of repentance when one commits a sin. Chapter 8, “In Your Family” emphasizes the importance of the nuclear family, and is followed by a chapter titled “Everybody Can Fight But Everybody Can’t Win” which emphasizes the importance of practicing the program and living by an Islamic epistemology, as opposed to ascribing to secular ideologies such as nationalism and Marxism. The book ends with a chapter titled “Finish Lines” which accents how death can come any day for a human being, and how the Muslim must prepare for it, each and every day. The book then culminates with Surah Asr, a three verse chapter of the Qur’an dealing with the importance of time, and making the most of the limited time that man has on Earth. Revolution by the Book serves as a call to action, intended to resurrect the soul of the reader, so that they can ultimately resurrect a broken society. The text reads in the voice of a powerful figure. In order to understand just how powerful of a figure the author is, one must understand both his contributions as both an Imam and leader of American Muslims as Imam Jamil Al-Amin, as well as his contribution to the freedom struggle of Black Americans as H. Rap Brown.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin is a leader within the Dar Al Islam movement, a Sunni Muslim, predominantly Black American, Islamic movement in the United States. Founded in 1962, the Dar Al Islam movement was the single largest Sunni Muslim organization in the United States until Imam Warith Deen Mohammed transitioned his father’s formerly pseudo-Islamic Nation of Islam to Sunni Islam in 1976. The Dar Al Islam movement’s ideology can be seen in the sources that Imam Jamil Al-Amin cites. He uses very few sources outside of the Qur’an and ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad. This is because the Dar Al Islam movement overall did not affiliate itself to any particular madhab, or school of Islamic jurisprudence, nor did it affiliate itself to any Sufi order. However, the organization is distinct from Salafis in the sense that they are not anti-madhabb or anti-Sufism. But one can see the ideology of not following a particular Sufi Shaikh or school of thought in this work of Jamil Al-Amin. Rather, he focuses on preaching to people the Qur’an and authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. This is not necessarily an issue as he is preaching very rudimentary and basic Islamic teachings, and means of purifying oneself in this book.

The title of the book may also seem strange to some. As opposed to a revolutionary manifesto, the book seems to rather be a book on how to change one’s own self and how to restructure society from there. Before his conversion to Islam, Imam Jamil Al-Amin was known as H. Rap Brown, a charismatic and nationally-known leader within the civil rights movement. He would be mentored by now-Congressman John Lewis, who was then Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. At the young age of 23, H. Rap Brown became Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, succeeding Stokely Carmichael. Under Brown’s leadership, SNCC entered into a working relationship with the Black Panther Party. Brown took the nonviolent out of the name of the organization, and renamed it the Student National Coordinating Committee, lamenting that “violence is as American as cherry pie” and that they would “use violence, if necessary” and fight for freedom “by any means necessary.” 

While chairman of SNCC, Brown simultaneously was appointed Minister of Justice of the Black Panther Party. In 1971, Brown was sentenced to 5 years in jail for “inciting a riot”, a crime that many suggest came out of the Cointelpro program that specifically had the goal of “neutralizing” him. It was in jail that chaplains from the Dar Al Islam movement invited him to their weekly Friday prayers. Familiar with Islam because of Malcolm X, H. Rap Brown attended Friday prayers without becoming Muslim. After a few Friday prayers, H. Rap Brown converted to Islam and took the name Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. Upon leaving jail, Imam Jamil Al-Amin studied the classical Islamic sciences in West Africa, India, and Pakistan. Following that, he became Imam of a community of around 400 Muslims in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta. The title Revolution by the Book comes from Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s credentials as a revolutionary. He is alluding to how he feels that his Islam is the culmination of his revolutionary days in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Black Panther Party, and that he has now finally found a means of making this revolution possible. He says in the prologue of the book that becoming Muslim did not mean a shift from his revolutionary lifestyle. Rather, he says that Islam was a “continuation of a lifestyle” of the struggle for freedom for Black Americans.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin writes that:

It became evident that to accomplish the things we had talked about in the struggle, you need a practice. Allah says He does not change the condition of people until they change was is in themselves. That is what Islam does, and it points out right from wrong. It points out truth from falsehood.

He continues on to say that:

It is criminal that in, in the 1900’s, we still approach struggle…sloganeering saying, “by any means necessary,” as if that’s a program. Or “we shall overcome,” as if that’s a program. Slogans are not programs. We must define the means which will bring about change. This can be found in…[what] Allah has brought for us in the Qur’an and in the example of the Prophet. Our revolution must be according to what Almighty God revealed…Successful struggle requires a Divine program. Allah has provided that program.

The remainder of the book outlines the ingredients for successful struggle. Imam Jamil Al-Amin claims that the most important aspect of revolution is belief in God. Without this, none of the other objectives such as prayer, fasting, charity, repentance, and pilgrimage to Mecca can be actualized and implemented. He also goes on to argue a divine command morality. If a person does not have belief in God, they lack an objective morality to base their lifestyle on. As a result, they fall into a subjective morality that makes it very easy for them to stumble and constantly reinterpret their values in accordance to their whims and desires when faced with pressure to compromise their values. To successfully mount a revolution, a person needs to be solidly grounded and not constantly reinterpreting what is right and wrong. Such an action could jeopardize the struggle and place the one engaging in the revolution in danger of selling out his or her values. Divine command morality serves as an anchor for the person revolutionizing society. This is why Imam Jamil Al-Amin believes that Imaan, or faith in God is the single most important ingredient to successful struggle. It is also interesting to note that the Arabic word “imaan” which means faith comes from “Amaan”, a root word that means safety or security. Through faith, believers are strongly anchored and have safety and protection from being misled by their whims and desires.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin writes that:

Iman is an essential ingredient to success, for a fearful, doubtful person is unable to struggle; he gives up easily, submits to every oppressor, compromises his integrity, acquiesces in injustice, and accepts enslavement. In contrast, a person who has taqwa, God-consciousness, fears only the Ruler of the Universe, Almighty Allah; he perseveres against the greatest of challenges, maintains his integrity, resists injustice, refuses enslavement, and fights oppression without regard to man-made standards.

Next, Imam Jamil Al-Amin claims that the most important aspect of this struggle is prayer. He says that prayer is the center of the community. He quotes the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad that prayer is what separates a believer form a disbeliever. He also quotes verse 11 of Surah Raad which states that “God does not change the condition of people until they change was is in themselves.” This is the most quoted verse of the Qur’an in his entire book, emphasizing the change in self that is required for the revolution that SNCC and the Black Panther Party imagined. He asserts that prayer is the key to this change, and that prayer is also what binds his mosque together.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin writes that:

Any building is just an edifice. The mosque is built to make prayer. Prayer is the key to the community, not buildings…Prayer is a practice, a program, that begins to make you aware, that makes you conscious of the Creator; it makes you fear Allah, and that brings about within you a transformation, a change that is necessary to throw off that whole system that you have become accustomed to. It is the beginning of a revolution in you which expands to other aspects of you reality.

Following his emphasis on prayer as the foundation of successful Islamic practice, Imam Jamil emphasizes other very important aspects of Islam, cemented with verses from the Qur’an and ahadith. Aside from just emphasizing the religious obligation of the action, Imam Jamil Al-Amin connects the idea to a sociopolitical imperative. It is not just his goal to explain to the reader why the action is religiously mandated. But he also seeks to connect it to why it is important for the social resurrection of the community in which a person resides. For example, he presents many hadith and the verses of Qur’an on the importance of charity. But beyond that, he connects the idea to the spiritual and social resurrection of Black Americans. 

Charity — you cannot have an effective social struggle, a successful movement, if you don’t have charity. You cannot have a successful revolution if people don’t have charity, if you are not willing to sacrifice. Sacrifice deals with giving, with sharing those things that Allah places in your trust? 

Beyond just laying out religious obligations, Imam Jamil Al-Amin points out many flaws in modern society, particularly those of materialism and corporatism. In his view, modernity is filled with many diseases that have deprived people of who they really are. People just go around consuming food, drugs, and entertainment, and are unable to cultivate their souls, or even ponder the fact that they have one. He writes about how society is devoid of values and how Americans have become a people who just go from one holiday to another without contemplating their existence. Americans have become a people not just intoxicated by drugs. More prominently, they have been intoxicated by holidays and entertainment.

We talk about intoxicants. We reduce the problem to cocaine and crack. But indeed, it is more than cocaine and crack. In fact, the problem is not crack and cocaine, the problem is that we live in a society that has made a virtue out of being high. This society arouses within you desires and passions that make you seek to escape reality by being high. Everything is geared toward keeping you in a state of euphoria. One holiday follows the next: Christmas to New Years, to Easter, to Mother’s Day, to Father’s Day, to the NBA playoffs, to the Superbowl, to championship fights, to Olympics. Everything keeps you high. Everything is geared towards keeping you away from encountering reality, everything is geared to keep you from remembering God.

He advises parents on the dangers of this corporatism also. Imam Jamil writes that: 

Your child must stop eating what the media sells; the television, radio, comics, magazines, recordings, etc. You must help them control their lives; you must take control of your children’s lives away from their enemy. You strive hard to teach your children right, then you turn the television on and allow everything that is against your religion, against your Lord, to be propagated in your house. You lock your doors and windows then turn on the TV.

One weakness in this text comes with regard to who Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s audience is. One review referred to it as “A valuable text for new Muslims and an excellent introduction to the fundamental teachings of Islam for non-Muslims.” So perhaps it is a text aimed at introducing non-Muslims to Islam, while also allowing Muslims to review the basic teachings through the context of his unique life experience. But which non-Muslims is he specifically speaking to? Is he speaking to Black revolutionaries who are not yet Muslim? He could be speaking to past colleagues of his from SNCC and the Black Panther Party. Is he making the case to them that Islamic practice presents a necessary program for them to actualize what they want in regard to this revolution?  Is that the purpose of this book? Or is he is referring to Islam as the continuation of the struggle in a rhetorical way. He is saying to his people that they do not need to wage revolution through protests and the ballot box. Rather, by the practice of Islam, each and every person transforming themselves will transform society. After all, society is merely the summation of a bunch of individuals. If all parts of the whole have revolutionized themselves, the whole too should revolutionize itself.

I also question if it weakens Islam or sells the deen short to present it as a means of good revolutionary praxis as opposed to salvation. The objective of Islam is to get close to God, not to restructure society. But establishing justice and ridding the world of this oppression is a result that comes from closeness to God. One begins a Muslim out of belief in God, and out of realization that the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is the messenger of God, the last of prophets, and the greatest human being to ever walk this Earth. It is obvious that Imam Jamil Al-Amin understands. He emphasizes that the self must be transformed before anything else and that it is important to be aware of one’s close proximity to death. I wonder if maintaining the notion of a revolutionary self is to essentially say to those from his past days in the freedom struggle that he has not changed as a person. The H. Rap Brown who asserted that “violence is as American as cherry pie” has discovered what real revolution is all about—the greater jihad against the nafs. It is a sign that he has not committed some sort of political apostasy towards the freedom struggle, or cultural apostasy towards Black people. Rather, he has discovered that this materialism and lack of spiritual ethic guiding the freedom struggle can be purified and best applied when put into Islamic guidelines. 

For Muslims, this is an especially important text. It reminds them to fulfill the basic obligations of their religion and the evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah for fulfilling these basic obligations. It also connects to a figure who is seldom forgotten. Many know of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, but few know of the Imam Jamil Al-Amin. In addition, the Dar Al Islam movement which he was a leader in provides a model for dawah and Islamic institution building. But moreover, Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s book exemplifies to the reader that purification of the self does not have to take place in a vacuum of political quietism. Rather, in purifying themselves, the reader too can purify the community around them. Revolution by the Book is a seminal text representing a seminal figure.

Both Imam Jamil Al-Amin and his manifesto will be etched in the American Muslim imagination for years to come as symbols for purification of self, and the purification of society, insha Allah. 

Buy the book here

Continue Reading

#Life

Convert Story: To Ask Or Not to Ask, That is the Question

covery islam story
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

“How did you convert to Islam” is a question that is commonly asked to those who convert to Islam. While the short answer to this question is, “I said shahada”, the long (and more detailed) answer is one that is commonly expected.

It is important to acknowledge that the majority of “born Muslims” who ask this question do such out of good intentions. For this reason, I wrote this piece out of a place of love and not out of a place of judgment or hatred. While it is important for “born Muslims” to be mindful of how they ask this question, it is equally important for converts to not hold ill will towards born Muslims who ask this question. Due to the fact that Islamophobia is rampant in both the media and political discourse, many “born Muslims” are naturally shocked and emotional when they meet people who accept Islam. Some “born Muslims” have also had limited interactions with converts and therefore, to them, it is not only shocking for them to meet converts, but they are genuinely unaware of certain etiquettes when it comes to asking a convert for his or her story.

In this piece, I am going to write about a pet peeve that is shared among many Muslim converts. While I cannot speak for every single convert, I can say that based on innumerable conversations I have had with fellow converts, there is one thing most of us agree on and it is this; it is rude to ask a convert about his or her conversion story when you haven’t built a relationship with the convert. This piece will explain why many converts consider such a question to be intrusive. The purpose of this article is to better educate the “born Muslim” community on how they can do a better job in support of converts to Islam. In this piece, I will break down the reasons why this question can come off as intrusive if it isn’t asked in a proper manner. I will also include personal anecdotes to support my position.

I would like to conclude by saying that I do not discourage “born Muslims” from asking this question entirely, rather I am merely arguing that this question should be asked with the best of adab.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:  “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” (Tirmidhi) For this reason, such a question should be asked for purpose and it should be done with the best of manners. This is supported by the fact that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “I have been sent to perfect good character.” (Al Muwatta)

Note: For the sake of avoiding confusion, the term “born Muslim” is defined as anyone who was brought up in a Muslim household.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask about the person’s personal relationship with God

Within the context of a friendship, it is generally understood that friends will share personal details with each other. However, it is also generally understood that it is rude to ask people you just met personal questions. To ask a new acquaintance a personal question in most cases comes off as intrusive. This is especially the case in which you ask a person about his or her relationship with God.

For example, there are women who do not wear hijab. Even if we do (for a moment) ignore the Islamic ruling concerning hijab, we should all agree that a woman’s reason for wearing (or not wearing) hijab is a personal matter that is between said woman and God. If one was to ask a woman who doesn’t wear hijab why she doesn’t wear it, that would be intrusive because such a question would involve interrogating said woman about her relationship with God.

Another example concerns a married couple. If one was to meet a married person for the first time, it can be considered rude to ask said person about his or her relationship with his or her spouse.

When one asks a convert about his or her choice to convert, one is literally asking said convert about his or her relationship with God.

I am not saying that it is wrong in all cases to ask such a question. However, one should be mindful of the fact that because this is a personal question, one should have at least have built some form of a friendship with said person before asking.

convert friendship hugs

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is another way of asking, “Why do you believe in Islam?”

Many people identify to a faith tradition because it was part of their upbringing. If you were to ask a person who was born Muslim, “why are you Muslim?” you might hear said Muslim respond with, “I am Muslim because I was raised Muslim” and you wouldn’t hear a detailed answer beyond this.

In most cases, a convert to Islam (or any other religion) did such after research and critical thinking. To convert to a new religion involves not only deep thinking but a willingness to step into the unknown.

I have on many occasions told my story to people. In most cases I will ask the person “why do you believe in Islam?” I am then disappointed when I find out that the only reason the person is Muslim is due to upbringing. While I am not saying that said person’s faith is invalid or less than mine, a person who only identifies with a religion due to upbringing is a person who didn’t engage in critical thinking.

Any relationship should be built upon equality and mutual benefit. If I as a convert am able to provide a well thought out answer as to why I believe in Islam, I expect a well thought out answer to the same question from the person who initially asked me.

Again, while I am not saying it is wrong in all cases to ask, a born Muslim should ask himself or herself “why do I believe in Islam?” In my opinion, there are many who are born into Muslim families who don’t truly believe until later in their lives. Those Muslims in my opinion (and mine alone) are similar to converts.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to perform labor.

In some cases, “born Muslims” expect converts to tell their stories. I can remember a few incidents in which I have been asked to tell my story and I politely declined. In response, the person became angry. This to me is a symptom of entitlement. Nobody is entitled to know anything about anyone else (aside from people with whom one has a natural relationship with).

In addition, one should be cognizant of the fact that converts typically get asked this question repeatedly. Thus after a significant amount of time, a convert is prone to get tired of repeating the same question over again repeatedly. Naturally, it can become exhausting eventually.

While I do not believe it is wrong to ask this question in all cases, one should not ask this question to a convert from a place of entitlement. I can think of cases where I have been asked this question by “born Muslims” and when I have refused to provide an answer, they have gotten angry at me. This is entitlement.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to explain his or her personal life.

Backbiting is one of the worst sins in Islam. Another major sin is to disrespect one’s parents. Thus we can conclude that backbiting about one’s parents is a huge sin.

This is evidenced by the fact that Allah has said (ﷻ) “We have enjoined on humankind kindness to parents.” (Quran 29:8)

A typical follow-up question to “Why did you convert?” is “How did your parents react?” This in many cases puts the convert in a position where one may feel pressured to mention some negative details about his or her parents. In Islam, parents are to be respected, even if they aren’t Muslim.

Before asking a convert this question, one should be mindful of not putting unnecessary pressure on the convert to commit this injustice.

convert friendship

Cases when it is appropriate to ask

However, I do maintain a firm belief that in any true friendship, things will be shared. I don’t think it is wrong in itself to ask a convert about his or her story provided that there already exists a relationship where personal information can be shared. It is highly suggested to hang out with the person first and then ask the convert for his or her story.

As a personal rule of mine, unless I have hung out with the person one on one at least once (or a few times in group gatherings) I don’t tell any born Muslims my conversion story. Naturally, I only share personal details with people I consider to be a friend. If I would hang out with the person, I consider that person to be a friend.

The reason I am also hesitant to share my story with just anyone who asks me is because I can think of countless cases of when I have shared my story to people I have never seen or heard from again. I choose to exert my agency to share personal details of my life to people who I consider to be part of my life. While many Muslims are happy when people convert, many Muslims also fail to provide any form of support for said convert after conversion. I have seen too many cases of when a person recites shahadah, people pull their phones out to record it, but very few will give the convert his or her number. I genuinely believe that many “born Muslims” fail to see the big picture in this regard.

Before asking a convert for his or her story, you should ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person. If you are not comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person, there is nothing wrong with that. However, you shouldn’t expect the convert to share personal details if you aren’t comfortable sharing personal details. Even if you have built a close friendship with someone, you still aren’t expected to share every detail of your life to someone. Even if you consider a convert to be a close friend, you should still respect a convert’s wishes to not share his or her story.

Conclusion

While I have addressed concerns about the tendency of “born Muslims” to ask converts about their journeys, I want to acknowledge that most people have good intentions. In Islam, the natural state of any person is one of righteousness.

I firmly believe that a friendship that isn’t built on trust and the sharing of personal information isn’t a genuine friendship. Therefore the key term in this context is “friend”. If you wish to ask a convert his or her story, please make sure the following conditions are met:

  1. You are already friends with the convert to a point where asking a convert about his or her relationship with God isn’t an intrusive question. Ask yourself, “Are we close enough where we can share other personal details of our lives with each other?”
  2. You have a well thought out reason as to why you believe in Islam.
  3. You don’t feel entitled to know about the convert’s journey and that you will allow the convert to choose not to share such information if the convert doesn’t wish to.
  4. You don’t probe into the convert’s relationships with other people.
  5. You aren’t just asking the question to somehow feel validated about your belief in Islam.
Continue Reading

#Life

Rebuilding Self-Love  in the Face of Trauma

touch trauma
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

“…there is beauty in breaking” – Amir Sulaiman

Words fell softly from her lips as tears streamed down her face. A young woman, newly married, had reached out to me via social media to ask a question about how to reconnect with her body after trauma. Receiving intimacy and sex-related questions from Muslim women all over the world is a large part of my work.  But there was something about this particular questioner that struck me in a very deep place. I intimately knew her pain as a survivor. Not long after taking my shahada, I was the victim of sexual assault. The amount of trauma I suffered is indescribable. But rather than pulling me away from the faith, I relied heavily on the deen to pull me through one of the darkest periods of my life.

After trauma, rather than pulling away from the faith, I relied heavily on the deen to pull me through one of the darkest periods of my life. Click To Tweet

Healing after trauma took action, not only faith. For years, I struggled with the ability to connect with my body and to understand how to properly process emotions.  Intimacy, of all kinds, was a challenge for me. Reclaiming agency over my own body and establishing my right to pleasure led me down a life-changing path that has led to me now assisting other women in understanding and owning sexuality from a sacred perspective. My trauma broke me but it also showed me new ways to heal.

But getting back to pleasure really requires coming back to a sense of oneness and power within one’s self. It means owning your narrative and rebuilding the parts which have been broken. @TheVillageAuntieClick To Tweet

Re-engaging with sexual pleasure after trauma can be very difficult, especially for Muslim women who have been taught their whole lives to vigorously guard their bodies and not discuss sex. Talk of intimacy is still seen as taboo and, worse yet, the ability to report sexual assault and abuse remains a very difficult task for many women, regardless of faith.

But getting back to pleasure really requires coming back to a sense of oneness and power within one’s self. It means owning your narrative and rebuilding the parts which have been broken.

I have developed a five-step plan for helping women to navigate the heartbreaking process of reclaiming the body and opening one’s self to pleasure.

[*This plan is not to be used in place of mental health care (cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, trauma-informed somatic practice, etc.) but is meant to supplement intervention from a trusted licensed mental health provider.]

  1. Practice mindful forgiveness. This is not meant to be directed toward the abuser. Mindful forgiveness after trauma focuses on a need to forgive one’s self for the range of self-directed emotions that can be detrimental in the aftermath of sexual trauma. Sometimes women blame themselves when abuse takes place. This internalized oppression requires forgiveness because a victim should never assume blame for the heinous acts of others. Forgiving ourselves for any negative self-talk and asking Allah to grant His indelible mercy is a key foundation for the development of a healing path. It took years after my assault for me to understand the ways in which I had wounded myself with disparaging internal scripts. When I increased my level of istighfar and asked Allah to excuse all the instances where I doubted myself and harmed my spirit in the process, I was able to finally uncover long-hidden emotions and set about the work of true healing and reconciliation with my body.

    rights of women in Islam

  2. Seek knowledge about one’s own body and its rights. When I became a Muslim 21 years ago, I had no idea that Islam was such a sex-positive religion. The Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is full of instances where he demonstrated the beauty and importance of sex as a form of marital bonding as well as an act of worship. Scouring books of fiqh, I learned the rights of women in Islam which affirmed that we are not human possessions meant to be tilled; women have undeniable rights to pleasure and protection of our most sacred human parts. Understanding that Islam is a guide for all areas of life can give a sense of comfort and provide a pathway to explore the sacredness of sexuality. This is key, especially for women who have been abused by men of faith or who have been victims of spiritual manipulation for carnal gain. Also, learning about the female anatomy, how the brain is an integral part of harnessing pleasure, and ways to use the mind to develop an internal sense of pleasure can also be extremely helpful in re-igniting one’s love of self.

  3. Activate the sensuality of everyday life.  There is a misunderstanding of the role of sensuality in pleasure. Sex is the physical joining of bodies. Sensuality, however, is a conscious internal awareness of pleasurable stimuli. It does not involve engaging with another person. This is key because many trauma sufferers may find physical human touch triggering.  Recognizing the sensual aspects of daily life requires the mindful perception of things that titillate or arouse. It can be as simple as the feel of a particular fabric against the skin, the smell of the air after a heavy rain, a sound that evokes sensual memories, a scent that conjures an arousing mood. Why is this important? Sex is not the sole route to pleasure. For women, pleasure is largely dependent upon a spiritual or mental connection within the body. By engaging in self-motivated pleasurable sensations, this can assist women in realizing the power and control that we have over our physical vessels. Muslim couple healing reciting Quran

  4. Be easy with yourself. In the Qur’an, Allah reminds us “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (2:153)  During the process of reclaiming one’s power, there will undoubtedly be times of anger, grief, sorrow, and resentment. These are human emotions and are quite reasonable given the magnitude of trauma’s effect on the heart. Be patient with yourself. Channel love and support during times of difficulty. Do not neglect your healing journey because of a setback. It is important to practice patience with one’s self and utilize prayer as a stabilizing force. Allah is Al Wali, our greatest Protector, and Supporter. During times of emotional despair, rather than directing our energy inward, we can learn to release these emotions through dua and remembrance. Trauma is not a fundamental characteristic of who you have become. Reclaiming your narrative means understanding that you have the power to create a different story with a powerful ending. Give yourself the time and space to rewrite your script.

    Allah is Al Wali, our greatest Protector, and Supporter. During times of emotional despair, rather than directing our energy inward, we can learn to release these emotions through dua and remembrance.Click To Tweethealing from trauma

  5. Find your circle. Healing is not a solitary act. Sometimes it requires the love and support of others. Do you have a circle of support? Who are the people in your circle? And if you don’t have one, how can you create one? When I was at my lowest, my circle was there to remind me of who I was and how far I had come. They were the ones with whom I could be my most authentic self. One of the ways in which we can heal trauma is by seeking human connection. Select your circle carefully and lean on them during times of need. The healing power of your personally curated community can be transformative and life-changing.

Continue Reading

Trending