Daniel Haqiqatjou’s response to this New York Times piece.
LOS ANGELES, United States — After Woodstock came campus surveys on sexual assault. After bra-burning came date rape. The Sexual revolution of the 1960s aroused enthusiasm at first, but passions have since waned. Those movements have come to look imperfect, even ugly: For one thing, they have failed to touch meaning, purpose, or fulfillment, especially the fulfillment relating to sex. Revolution doesn’t mean progress.
The recent finding that 1 in 4 Western women in college are victims of sexual assault by Western men ominously mirrors the fact that 1 in 4 Western women will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. These grim stats have led people in the West to realize that one of the great miseries plaguing much of the so-called Western world, and the liberal secular world more generally, is its sick relationship with women and girls. If they are not being paraded around in sleazy beauty contests at the tender age of five or being berated by sex-positive Feminists for not embracing their “inner sex Goddess,” at a minimum Western females can look forward to a life of chronic clinical depression and loneliness, if not outright domestic abuse and sexual violence. To address the latter, both Western universities and workplaces alike have taken to producing extensive guides of good conduct for college boys and male employees due to their preternatural propensity to date rape and sexually harass their female counterparts.
The Commodity of Sex
Sex is a complex commodity, commercialized — in places like New York, London, Paris, or Amsterdam — by way of liberalism’s hypersexualized culture, the voyeuristic pressures of social media, and the pornographic images of women (or their body parts) in the advertising-saturated West. These together create a potent environment of overexposure and desensitization, where people, like drug addicts looking for a stronger high, must increasingly resort to more extreme sexual acts and fetishes in order to generate the same arousal. Not surprisingly, this escalation has led to an epidemic of perversion and sexual abnormalities ranging from zoo- to pedo-philia, each deviance with its own group and its own social movement and dedicated “Social Justice Warriors” advocating for acceptance and celebration.
Today sex is a great paradox in many countries of the Western world: One acts as though it’s all that exists, and yet it means absolutely nothing. Overindulged in a Tinder-induced stupor of casual copulation, it weighs on the mind by its very vacuousness. Although Western females are regularly accosted by the unsolicited genitalia of sexting grade school football players as well as respected Congressmen, they are encouraged to bare their own “assets” on Instagram and Snapchat, in a social media stream of simultaneously narcissistic and desperate cries for validation.
The War on Women
Women are a recurrent theme in daily discourse, because the stakes they personify — for myths of Western superiority, progress, and exclusivism — are great. In some countries, they are allowed access to the public sphere only if they renounce their wombs: To be satisfied with women living as mothers and “mere homemakers” would be to uncover the paradox that Feminists and progressives desperately need to deny: Maybe Western women can’t have it all. Mothers are seen as a source of destabilization — extended maternity leaves trigger profit loss, some say — and are respected only when defined by a corporate relationship, as the Senior VP of X or Up-and-Coming Manager of Y.
These contradictions create unbearable tensions. Womanhood has no outlet, no outcome; starting a family is no longer a means for support, love, and fulfillment, but a burden to be put off for as long as possible. The sexual and psychological misery that results can descend into absurdity and hysteria. Here, too, one hopes to experience familial love, but the mechanisms for that love — marriage, child-rearing, familial stability — are prevented: Half of all children born in the West are born to single mothers, which is disturbing given that there is a direct, undeniable correlation between single-family homes and crime rates — though this might partially explain why some Western countries have the highest rates of homicide and violent crime in the world. And for few Westerners that are married, the spectre of infidelity looms large, as even adultery has been commercialized, where cheating websites like AshleyMadison.com cater to tens of millions of registered users.
In some Western lands, the war on women has the air of a theatrical farce. Western women spend over $20 billion annually on cosmetics and perfumes and another $12 billion on cosmetic surgery (while only $22 billion is needed to feed, clothe, and provide basic health care for the entire world’s poor) — all this expenditure to abide by artificial standards of fashion and beauty dictated by the corporate conglomerates profiting from the Western woman’s need to “be sexy.” Of course, that very need only arises due to women being deliberately socialized to obsess over every detail of their bodies such that millions of females, some as young as 11 years-old, suffer from eating disorders and other forms of Body Dysmorphic maladies.
Unfortunately for these Western women, who are literally starving themselves for attention, Western men, in the thick of their own “Crisis of Masculinity,” don’t seem to be too interested, as they’ve been thoroughly desensitized by endless amounts of internet porn. And when the ADHD-addled gentlemen are not masturbating, they’re too busy playing video games and killing themselves: Tragically, suicide is the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20-49 in some Western countries.
Fantasy or Reality?
One result is that people fantasize about the trappings of another world: either the world peddled by popular culture and Disney films about romance and monogamous love between “soul mates,” happily ever after, or the sexually promiscuous, at times violent world of “hook ups,” no consequence, no commitment sex, more at home on the set of a pornographic film than in the realm of reality.
It’s a choice perfectly illustrated by the offerings of the Western media. Miley Cyrus and other former Mousketeers “gone bad” are all the rage on television as is the sexualization of young girls and “tweens,” pushed to empower themselves and “own their sexuality” by dressing and acting like pornstars, peddling the promise of their unattainable bodies and impossible sex well before puberty. Clothing is also given to extremes: Western women naively believe their wardrobes to be a function of free and independent choice, yet, despite that belief, the vast majority of garb “coincidentally” falls within the narrow bounds of current fashion and the diktats of Versace, Chanel, and an interminable supply of “hot or not” lists Western women abide by with a fervent taqlid that would make the most fastidious Sufi murids seem delinquent.
Sex therapists are legion in the Western world, and their advice, no matter how contradictory or ludicrous, is voraciously consumed. These self-anointed gurus have a de facto monopoly on talk about the body, sex, and love. With the internet, daytime TV, and gossip magazines galore, some of their “tips” have taken monstrous forms, devolving into a kind of pornoPsychology. A simple perusal of the women’s magazine covers at the typical Western grocery store: “Help your lover shop for an escort,” and more.
Sex is Everywhere
Especially in schools.
Orgasms are required as soon as puberty is within reach and a warm body is available. To be a virgin past an arbitrary age is to be an outcast. These pressures combined with the barrage of sexualized images and content in media and environment make for a dangerous mix. Incidences of prepubescent elementary school boys gang raping their female classmates are a growing phenomena in many Western cities. But young girls don’t just have their male classmates to worry about. Violent sex offenders in the West, at least the ones who are caught and convicted, serve shockingly short prison sentences before being considered “rehabilitated” and let back into society. In some parts of the West, offenders who commit sex crimes against children on average serve less time in prison than offenders who commit the same crimes against adults.
And it is not only degenerates molesting children. Producers, distributors, and consumers of child pornography and child sex slavery include famous filmmakers, celebrated sandwich spokesmen, and billionaire hedge fund bankers. Even prominent Harvard Law School professors like Alan Dershowitz are committing acts of pedophilia and sex trafficking on the weekends, allegedly. Apparently the lure of innocent, virginal children is too much for the West’s rich and famous. These otherworldly delights are the unspoken rewards for those who do well in the lands of sexual misery. Dreaming about such prospects, pedophilic business moguls surrender to a terrifying, surrealistic logic: The path to orgasm is through predatory domination, not love.
The West has long found comfort in exoticism, which exonerates differences. Satellite TV and the World Wide Web has a way of normalizing cultural variations and of excusing any abuses: Beyonce, Playboy, and “twerking” exempted some Easterners from considering the plight of Western women: Other than India and Zimbabwe, the rest of the top 10 countries with the highest incidence of rape in the world are Western. Despite all this soul-rending misery, Western imperialists have taken it upon themselves to export their unique brand of “sexual liberation” to the rest of the world, saving and rescuing women in “developing” nations by way of military occupation and an unending stream of NGOs ready to civilize societies who know nothing of the superior sexual values of the moral West.
What long seemed like the foreign spectacles of faraway places now feels like a clash of cultures playing out around the globe. Differences once defused by distance and a sense of isolation have become an imminent threat. People around the globe — i.e., the long time subjects of Western imperialistic pillaging and rape — are discovering, with anxiety and fear, that sex in the Western world is sick, and that its venereal disease has long infected the rest of the world.
Dilapidated bedroom image by darkday.
Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure
How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?
If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.
My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.
On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.
I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.
When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand. Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?
I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.
That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.
I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:
Host an open house
Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.
Expand your circle
Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.
You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.
Outsource Eid Fun
If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.
It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend. If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.
The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.
Get out of your comfort zone
If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.
Try, try, try again…
Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.
While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.
Broken Light: The Opacity of Muslim Led Institutions
Habib Abd al-Qadir al-Saqqaf (may Allah have mercy on him and benefit us by him) explains how we are affected by the spiritual state of those around us.
Every person has rays which emanate from their soul. You receive these rays when you come close to them or sit in their presence. Each person’s rays differ in strength according to the state of their soul. This explains how you become affected by sitting in the presence of great people. They are people who follow the way of the Prophets in their religious and worldly affairs. When they speak, they counsel people. Their actions guide people. When they are silent they are like signposts which guide people along the path, or like lighthouses whose rays guide ships. Many of them speak very little, but when you see them or visit them you are affected by them. You leave their gatherings having been enveloped in their tranquillity. Their silence has more effect than the eloquent speech of others. This is because the rays of their souls enter you.
The Organizational Light
As a Muslim organizational psychologist, I know that organizations and institutions are a collective of these souls too. Like a glass container, they are filled colored by whatever is within them. So often Muslim organizations have presumed clarity in their organizational light and looked on with wonder as children, families, and the community wandered. The lighthouse keepers standing in front of the beacon wondering, “Where have the ships gone?”have
Our Muslim led institutions will reflect our state, actions, and decisions. I do believe that most of our institutional origins are rooted in goodness, but those moments remain small and fade. Our challenge as a community is to have this light of origin be fixed so that it can pulsate and extend itself beyond itself.
Reference is not being made regarding any specific type of institution and this is not a pointed critique, but rather a theory on perhaps why the effect our variety of institutional work wanes and dissipates. Any type of organization or institution — whether for profit or nonprofit, whether capital focused or socially conscious — that is occupied by the heart of a Muslim(s), must reflect light.
Our organizational light is known by an ego-less assessment of intentions, actions, and results. We must move our ‘self’ or ‘selves’ out of the way and then measure our lumens. If the light increases when we move out of the way, then it is possible that we — our ego, personality, objectives, intentions, degree of sacrifice, level of commitment, and possibly even our sincerity — may be the obstructions to our organizational lights.
The Personal Imperative
What will become of our institutions and their role for posterity if we neglect to evaluate where we stand in relation to the noble courses they mean to take? We may currently be seeing the beginning what this may look and feel like.
When was the last time you walked into a Muslim led institution and felt a living space that drew you in because of the custodians, leadership, individuals, and community that made up its parts? It was probably the last time you and I looked deeply inward at our lives — our intellect, our relationships, our purpose, our spiritual state, our work, our decisions, and our intentions. If we cleanse our hearts so infrequently the dust which settles can become thick making them opaque. And perhaps this individual and collective state is what limits the reach and impact of our communal work thus, resulting in the opacity of Muslim led institutions. Note: Lighthouse keepers clean the lens of the beacon every day.
We must consistently assess the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual loci of our individual and organizational states. They are not fixed givens. Rather, they are capricious states that necessitate vigilance and wara’. Being aware of this will help in our organizational design and work.
The Collective Affect
When we are prepared to evaluate the efficacy of Muslim led institutions with the inclusion of some form of spiritual assessment, we will give ourselves a better opportunity to determine where, how, and why we may be missing the mark. The inefficiencies and inattentiveness we have on an individual level can permeate our relationships, our work, and our organizations. As organizational leaders, we must critically assess the amount of light our work emanates to illuminate the lives of the people we serve.
These inward evaluations should be in the form of active and ongoing discussions we have internally with our teams and colleagues, and ourselves. If done with prudence and sincerity it will not only strengthen our organizations but our teams and us God-willing. This collective effort can lead to a collective effect for those we serve that inspires and guides. We — and our institutions — can then return to the Prophetic example of being beacons of light that help ourselves and others arrive to a place of sanctuary.
And Allah always knows best.
The Day I Die | Imam Omar Suleiman
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (may Allah be pleased with him) in the midst of the torture he endured at the hands of his oppressors used to say: baynana wa baynahum aljanaa’iz, which means, “the difference between us and them will show in our funerals.” The man who instigated the ideological deviation that led to his torture was an appointed judge named Ahmad Ibn Abi Du’ad. At the moment of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal making those remarks, it appeared Imam Ahmad would die disgraced in a dungeon but Ahmad Ibn Abi Du’ad would have a state funeral with thousands of mourners. Instead, Imam Ahmad persevered through his struggle, was embraced by the people, and honored by Allah with the biggest Janazah ever known to the Arabs with millions of people pouring in from all over. Ahmad Ibn Abu Du’ad was cast aside and buried without anyone attending his janazah out of revulsion.
Now sometimes righteous people do die in isolation, and wicked people are given grand exits. There are people like Uthman Ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) who was murdered by the people of fitnah, then buried at night far away from the people out of fear of the large numbers that would’ve poured out to his janazah and potentially mobilized against his oppressors. But it may be that Allah inspired Imam Ahmad with the vision to see his victory in this life before the next. To elaborate a bit on his statement though, allow me to reflect:
A wise man once said to me,
“Always put your funeral in front of you, and work backwards in constructing your life accordingly.”
With the deaths of righteous people, that advice always advances to the front of my thoughts. When a person passes away, typically only good things will be said of them. But it’s important to pay attention to 2 aspects about those good things being said:
1. Is there congruence in the particular good quality being attested to about the deceased.
2. Are those good qualities being attested to actually truly of the deceased.
The first one deals with consistency of character, the second one with sincerity of intention which is only known by the Creator and His servant. In regards to the first one, take our sister Hodan Nalayeh (may Allah have mercy on her) who was murdered tragically last week in a terrorist attack in Somalia. Everyone that spoke of her said practically the same thing about how she interacted with them and/or benefitted them. There is complete harmony with all of the testimonies about her. And in that case we all become the witnesses of our sister on the day of judgment, testifying to her good character.
For many that pass away, neither the deceased nor the community fully appreciates the way they benefitted others until that day. It was narrated that when Zainul Abideen Ali Ibn Al Husayn (may Allah be pleased with them), the great grandson of the Prophet passed away, he had marks on his shoulders from the bags he used to carry to the doorsteps of the poor at night when no one else was watching. The narrations state that the people of Madinah used to live off his charity not knowing the source of it until his death.
How many people will miss you when you die because of the joy you brought to their lives? How many of those that you comforted when they were abandoned by others? That you spent on when they were deprived by others? That you advocated for when they were oppressed by others?
Will your family miss you because of an empty bed in the home or a deep void in their hearts? Will it be the loss of your spending only that grieves them, or the loss of your smile? Will it be the loss of the stability you provided them only, or the loss of your service and sacrifices for them?
But Zainul Abideen didn’t care for the recipients of his charity to know that he was the source of it, because He was fully in tune with it’s true Divine source. He didn’t want to be thanked in this world, but in the next. He didn’t want the eulogy, he wanted Eternity.
He understood that if you become distracted by the allure of this world, you may merely become of it. Focus on bettering the future which you cannot escape, rather than the present that you cannot dictate. Focus on the interview with the One who needs no resume, rather than the judgments of those who are just as disposable as you.
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ خَيْرَ زَمَانِيْ آخِرَهُ، وَخَيْرَ عَمَلِيْ خَوَاتِمَهُ، وَخَيْرَ أَيَّامِيْ يِوْمَ أَلقَاكَ
“O Allah, let the best of my lifetime be its ending, and my best deed be that which I seal [my life with], and the best of my days the day I meet You.”
Which brings us to the second aspect of your funeral, the sincerity of the good you’re being praised for. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “increase your remembrance of the destroyer of pleasures.” Death only destroys the temporary pleasures of this world, not the pleasure of the Most Merciful in the next. Keeping that in perspective will help you work towards that without being distracted. If it is the praise of the people you seek, that is as temporary as the world that occupies both your worldly vehicle ie. your body, and your companions in this world who shall perish soon after you.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned the one who passes away with the people lavishing praise on him that he is unworthy of. In a narration in Al Tirmidhi, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No one dies and they stand over him crying and saying: ‘Oh what a great man he was! Oh how honored he was!’ except that two angels are appointed for him to poke him and say: Is that really you?”
But if it is Allah’s praise that you sought all along, the deeds that you put forth shall await you in your grave in the form of heavenly ornaments. Those that were known to the community, those that were known to only a select few, and those that were known by no one but Allah and you.
May Allah give us all a good ending, and an even better eternity.
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