Friday, December 31, 2010

Hope of a New Dawn

I was recently introduced to this Pakistani band called Laal. The guys are AMMMMMMAYYYYZING!!!! Each one of their songs I've heard so far has been a meaningful one -- SO touching, SO moving -- 'cause they're all for the people, you know? They sing FOR the people, they stand WITH the oppressed, they're all for freedom of speech and freedom for humanity. I feel like I just now started living!! And their videos are SO thought-provoking, tooooo! Check out the following video, for instance. It's called, in Urdu (they sing in Urdu), Umeed-e-Sahar, or "Hope of a New Dawn." They remind people that they are powerful, that they have a say in what happens. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What is "Islam"?

Pre-post: My thoughts here are very disorganized, but you'll bear with me. Thanks for understanding!

For the longest time now, I've been wondering what "Islam" actually is, and that's why I can't help but put it in quotations. I'm gonna paste my comments from friends' blogs 'cause I really don't have the energy or the good health at the moment to write it (am terribly ill. You understand) and will hope that'll do for the moment. One day, I'd also like to write a long piece on what Islam is and what it means to believe/submit.

We always hear Muslims saying, "That's not Islam." Really? Then what is Islam? If Islam isn't as difficult as they claim, then why is no one practicing the Islam that's not difficult, the Islam that's so easy to practice? Almost all (if not completely all) Muslims will also agree that they do not practice Islam the way they are supposed to or the way they understand they should be. Why not? Obviously, it's not easy, then. Obviously, it's not understood what Islam is or how it should be practiced -- or there are strong disagreements.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Western Woman: Plague of the West

I share here my response to an article titled "Woman: The Plague of the West," by Abu Osama. The introduction of the article reads:
This short work has been compiled to expose the fallacy of the Western nations and the culture and civilisation they profess to believe in and live by. Its aim is to educate those in the Muslim world the true picture of life in the Western countries with a view to demolish the myth that the west has the solution to all the world’s problems. Rather the West is the cause and source of all the worlds’ problems!” Abu Osama's thesis is that the Shari'a is the only solution to the problems of the west, where women are“ sexually denigrated, alcoholic and drug dependent, abused, attacked and raped" and "constant thoughts of suicide and self harm, deeply depressed, pandering after equality such is the nature of the liberated Western woman!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Zakir Naik on Women: Part 3 - Women in Politics

 For part 2, please click here.

Zakir Naik emphatically and incessantly argues that Islam promotes the equality of women and men, often citing Qur’anic verses such as 9:71, which reads, "The men and the women are supporters of each other." He asserts that the term "supporter" here means that they are each other’s supporters not only socially but politically as well. He lists women’s political rights as their rights to vote, take part in law-making, and join battlefields. His example for women’s participation in lawmaking is rather interesting:
According to the famous Hadith in which Hazrat Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) was discussing with the Sahabas, and considering the putting an upper limit on ‘Meher’, since young men were discouraged from getting married – a lady from the back seat objected and said “When the Qur’an says in Surah Nisa Ch. 4, Verse No. 20 that ‘You can even give a heap of treasure, a heap of gold in Meher, when the Qur’an puts no limit on ‘Meher’, who is Umar to put a limit (May Allah be pleased with him)?” And immediately, Hazrat Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘Umar is wrong and the lady is right’.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Books I Highly Recommend on Gender/Islam

To my non-Muslim readers, sorry that this list revolves around Muslims/Islam only! It's just, since the last couple of years, I've been seeking Muslims who saw what I saw in the traditional interpretations of Islam and having found the following has been a blessing! And had it not been for a research mentor who suggested I compile an annotated bibliography of "feminist and progressive interpretations of Islam," this would never have happened -- at least not yet. So please bear with me as I complete the list for now!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letter to Dr. Laura

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.
a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?
g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?
i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Zakir Naik's Views on Women: Part I

Pre-script: This post, and Zakir Naik's personality and "scholarship," should explain to many Muslims why I am a feminist and why I'm worried about Muslim women, especially those who follow Zakir Naik and his likes like he's a prophet or something. I'm truly sorry for all such women ... although knowing that men, too, follow him doesn't help 'cause those men, after listening to Naik, go home only to put women in a lower position! For instance, a husband might tell his wife, "You can't work anymore because Zakir Naik said the woman shouldn't work." Or "I have the right to beat you up because verse 4:34 tells me I can." Like, yo, what's this guy doing to the future generations?! And, mind you, he often gets his Quranic verse numbers wrong . . . Yep. Of course, I verify him each time he mentions a surah/verse number, and he's wrong many times. I just wonder why no Muslims actually notice that. Does anyone ever, EVER bother to verify the information he spoonfeeds them? Wake up, folks!!! Oh, and ... not that anyone should be surprised, but he also makes up names of all these random nobel-prize winning "scientists" (such as those who don't believe in evolution... 'cause, oh you know, that is proof that evolution indeed is not true!). It's adorable, really. Oh ... this is still the pre-script. Sorry, I'll continue to the actual post now. 

Zakir Naik, giving a lecture on women's "rights" in Islam

So, as many of my readers know, I'm writing my honors thesis on Zakir Naik and his views on women. I've written a chapter of it so far (it was for my Gender and Sexuality in Islam course), and I'm learning that as I write more, more and more ideas come to me about how to interpret his talks/lectures! In this one chapter, I argue that his views subtly put women in an inferior position, despite his insistence that "women and men are EQUAL in the eyes of God." More on this later but for now ... 

Needless to say, it's complete torture -- TORTURE, folks, TORTURE!!! -- to hear and listen to Naik's lectures and analyze them and critique them. ~cries desperately~ Imagine hearing Quranic verse 4:34 as the ONLY reason for virtually everything -- from why you can't work unless you are absolutely *required* to, why God never send female prophets, why you can't have certain jobs (or any jobs, rather, because the responsibility is solely the husband's), to why you have to sit in the back of his lectures, why your husband has the right to beat you up or discipline you (yes, he's comparing women to children, you see, children who need to be beaten and disciplined by their parents. Clearly, women aren't intelligent or wise enough and therefore NEED men to discipline them. Sickness, I tell you!), and oh yes why YOU don't have the right to initiate a divorce and your husband can divorce you any time HE feels like it. It's disparaging to say the least! I don't know what kind of a woman accepts such stuff as "authentic" or "Islamic." Sure, we know how things SHOULD be in the ideal Muslim world, but he doesn't at all address those situations in which things are not what they're supposed to be. But I'll give you examples of this in future posts. Patience. For now, lemme just complain about what all I have to go through listening to someone many Muslims see as a "scholar"!

Often, I have to listen to each one like 50 times 'cause each time I listen to him, I hear him differently, and a new interpretation of his seemingly feminist ideas come to my mind. And, of course, Qrratugai has GOT to respond to those! The one thing that pushes me to keep going is that ... if I don't introduce him to the academia, no one will. This is my way of reminding Muslims that there are more than one way to read what he's feeding you, and there are miserable consequences for the sorta information he forces down your throat without your realizing it. I plan to distribute this paper if it's accepted by the department.

So, I'm reading his book titled Women's Rights in Islam: Modern or Outdated? As one would expect, it's nothing more than an attack on the west. No, wait - it's not an attack on the west; it's an attack on America alone. At these random times, he'll say things about America and American women and their treatment to make it seem like women are just so, oh so degraded in America but so, oh so respected in "Muslim" countries! Sure, it goes both ways. But who looks at that?
Lemme introduce the guy first. Zakir Naik is a 40-year-old Indian televangelist / preacher deemed a "scholar" by many Muslims, especially Muslims of South Asian background. It's disturbing, folks, it's disturbing. You can look him up. He's all over the net. And you can even follow him on Facebook, like I do, and check his status and try so OH SO hard to control yourself from responding to his comments (status messages) because you know that your message/comment will be hidden within minutes.
The reason I chose to write my thesis on him and not anyone else (e.g., Ahmed Deedat) is as follows.

When I first heard of Zakir Naik in 2006, I was impressed with his “logic” and teachings. I remained his acolyte for approximately two years, until I began to note contradictions and double standards in his explanations to questions asked of him. I therefore empathize with those who support him and deem him an authority on Islam. He continues to influence many of my Muslim friends, particularly those from a South Asian background, to such an extent that when I mention that I am pursuing Islamic Studies, the first thing I am asked is, “What do you think of Zakir Naik?” as though my opinion of him will determine whether or not I am studying the “right” Islam: If I do not think highly of him, I am being taught the “western” and “modern” Islam against which Zakir Naik preaches; if I think well of him, I am on the “right” path.
I'd have to have a long, long blog post for each comment he makes, but here's what you may expect: His views on female prophets, women leading their families (he says that if a woman is forbidden in Islam to lead her own FAMILy, then how can she lead an entire nation? I'm convinced!), women in politics, women on the battlefield (he says Islamic history tells us that women healed the wounds, serving as nurses, so Muslim women are ALLOWED to be on the battlefield -- but they're forbidden to fight in the war, unless there are absolutely no men around), and his views on non-Muslims' right to practice and preach their religion in a Muslim land.

I like the last one first, even though it doesn't have anything to do with women. It's just to introduce you to him so you know what to expect from his views on women, so you know what sort of "logic" he uses, so you understand why I felt the utter need to write on him in the academic world (while Ahmed Deedat is written on constantly, Zakir Naik is absolutely unheard of in the scholarly world).

Enjoy the video I'm about to share! Much more to come later.You might also want to take a look at this video: Zakir Naik and Women's Rights in Islam.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Am I Pretty?"

For those females who always ask, "Am I pretty?" here's your answer.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Khutba by a Woman

Something very, VERY interesting -- and uplifting -- I'd like to share here.

Sa'diyya Shaikh
giving a khutba (the Friday sermon). I've personally met Sa'diyya Shaikh, and she's one of the most pleasant people ever, so friendly and sweet and warm! What she does with South Asian women in South Africa, I'd like to one day do with Pukhtun women . . . but we'll see, ka khairee.

here to watch.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Women Leading Men in Prayer

A Facebook photo of mine shows a woman leading a mixed congregation of prayer. I was sure it'd lead to some interesting comments from some Muslims, and it sorta did. I'd like to share here the typical arguments given against women's leading men in prayer and my response to each one.

One of my friends commented that "This is so wrong." I asked why, and she said, "I don't know. I can't explain. But it feels wrong." Of course that's not a good enough justification, but I left it.

Another friend commented that Al-Maghrib disapproves (as if Al-Maghrib decides what Islam says and as if I am supposed to accept their decisions :p but it was cute, so no worries).

Finally, the response I'd been waiting for -- and I copy/paste the discussion verbatim here.

This friend, let's call him Wror Jaan (WJ), said that you can't pray behind a woman; it's disliked.

Me: Disliked by whom? 

WJ: In the world from Indonesia to Afghanistan,from Saudi arabia to Pakistan, from iran to Iraq and europe.. have you ever seen a woman standing and giving Namaz to men? yes in in some cases a woman can give jamaha to women only not men.
why was the masjid or prayer hall of men and women seperated? its because men shouldnt see women praying :)
for more info read this

Allah swt knows the best

[Note, readers, the link to an "authority" -- I'm supposed to agree with them. I wonder what happens if I don't . . . I mean, suppose I agree with another scholar or another person/group in a position of authority over such issues. Then what happens? Oh, I forgot - I'm a deviant and am following the wrong crowd! Geez, I don't believing in following people. I believe in evaluating whatever I read. I believe we have been blessed with reason so that we can use it in moments like these.

Me: Just because a woman has never been permitted to lead men in prayer doesn't mean she lacks divine permission to do so. Tradition isn't always coming from God; it's almost always man-imposed, in fact.

Why shouldn't men see women praying, or vice versa?

Try not to give me links to long articles that are denying every other perspective and interpretation out there and enforcing only one. I acknowledge's perspective, but the name itself suggests it's biased.

WJ: ok as you say.. there will be many others who wont agree with u. I am not trying to say that women have lower status in Islam than men, All i wanted to say is that how can a woman bow in front of a man? will the man be able not to look at her? I have travelled to many countries and I have never seen a woman giving jummah, how come they give jummah in America.
Have you heard any Prophet's wife or any bibi has given jamaha? If they have then its ok for all the women to stand and give jamah but if not then please dont bring this new religion. we as hanafis dont have woman imam.. oh and i havent seen any woman imam in saudi arabia or other gulf countries.. so lets say maybe we have a new religion in this world who allow women to give jammah.

oh and you dont read my article.. then bring me proof and hadith to convince me that its ok for women to lead a prayer. You can just decide on your own, you have to rely on scholars that spend their entire life studying our religion me and you are ordinary human beings and shouldnt allow ourselves to change the course of our religion without any proof. I gave you a link to read but it looks like you want to stick with your own stand on this matter and do not wish to research about whether your even right or wrong. if you have already decided that you are right then i cannot convince you otherwise. May Allah swt guide all of us.
‎1. We need a Quranic verse / hadith that tells us that women *cannot* lead men in prayer, not one that says they can. Otherwise, we're going to need trillions of hadith narrations and Quranic verses that tell us that we can do this and that and that and that. Unless something's specified as haraam, we don't need evidence that it's halaal.

2. Everyone can disagree with me, that's fine with me. It's possible that the majority is wrong and the minority right.

3. You ask why can a woman be in front of a man. Well, why not? What's wrong with it? Just because you've never seen it doesn't mean it's haraam.

4. Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf country? :) You mean ... you need one of them to do something in order for it to be considered acceptable Islamically? C'mon, WJ-- they're the worst example o what it means to be a Muslim!

All I'm saying is: What's wrong with it? I need you to think about it yourself and then answer instead of giving me what a certain group of a certain sect of Islam says about it.
WJ: imagine u r an imam.. a girl.. 4 am u go to masjid to give namaz.. therez only one man standing in masjid who will follow you to pray.. can you give him namaz? is there any shaytan between you two?
why is women not allowded to talk or meet strangers?
does islam teach us about not to talk to stranger men or not?
how can you bow in front of a stranger man?
what if the imam woman is not a fat ugly woman but a beautiful 20 yrs old girl.. will she be able to give namaz to a guy aged 20 or 22 who is totally a stranger for him?
Me: I don't get your first question. What would be wrong if I led him in prayer?

And last time I checked, the rule of segregation applied to *both* men and women. So your argument doesn't hold correct there -- 'cause it's not just women who are not allowed to talk to or meet strangers; it's men, too. (This, of course, is assuming that gender segregation is really prohibited.)

How can I bow in front of a stranger man? Well, how can a stranger man bow in front of ME?

What if the imaam in front of me is a 20-year-old handsome man, not a "fat ugly" man? Should he still lead women in prayer, especially if these women are strangers to him?

I hope you see what I'm doing here. Every question you ask can be turned around so that it applies to BOTH men and women, not just to women :)
WJ: No..there is difference in man and woman's body. a man can walk outside or even in haram sharif without a shirt and his half body naked but a woman cant.. there are certain rules for men and women to follow. you still think that its connected to our cultural issue? No its not.. if it was so then there would be thousands of women imams in the west.. can you give me atleast 10 names of muslim women imams?
in Afg or asian and gulf countries we follow our culture but how come in the west we dont see women imam except one or two whom i got to see in the past 3 yrs...
My first question was that can you feel urself safe in masjid giving namaz to a stranger man at 5 am alone? he is alone and you are alone too.. can you?

Ofcoarse you cant.. thats why women are told to pray at home and they will get the same sawab as much they get in masjid :D
and i forgot to ask.. did bibi khadija or bibi fatima every lead the namaz? they did attend speeches and talked to people in masajids but they never went for iqama or salah in front of men. we learn from our prophet, His ahadith and from our scholars.. no one is allowded to make up something out of his brain and make a fitwa saying this is halal and this is haram.
Whem Prophet Mohammad pbuh passed away, His wife was the one who took responsibility to talk to the people and spread Islam till another successor was announced, during that time she never leaded any Namaz :) now guess it urself and think that y she didnt give namaz to those people who respected her as much as they respected the Prophet Mohammad pbuh.
We are not living in Afghanistan to think that .. Oh ppl will say bad if my wife goes to masjid and lead a prayer.. we r living in the west where everyone is a free bird and can do whatever they want .. But our religion tells us not to follow what was not followed by others.

I will insist and say that a woman is allowded to give salah to the women only but not men. Yes there is a chance where a woman can stand in other room and men in other room, that time she may give salah but not standing in front of men. This is why all the masajids have seperate place for men and women.. if women was allowded to pray with men then there would be no seperate places for both men and women.

A woman cant stand next to a man and pray.. she has to stand atleast one meter behind the man and there should be no men standing behind her :). here in west there are different types of muslims who believe in different schools of teachings.. we have hanafi,sha'fi,hanbali,parvizi,qidyani,sufi,shia and all others mixed together so the best thing is to stick to your own school of FIQ and follow what your imam says. Even in kab'aa there are 4 imams who belong to 4 different schools..

Shaikh Hamza yusuf visits our class once a month and i hope i will be able to meet him, if i did then Inshallah for sure i will ask him about this and lets see what does he say about it. Oh and i am going to ask this question from my arab scholar and an Afghan hanafi scholar too. I will gather the views of 3 different scholars and bring it in front of you.. Inshallah that time you will get the answer to your question.

Allah swt knows the best.
Me: So, the only reason a woman should not lead men in prayer is that her body is different from the man's body? But but but but ... WJ, so what that our bodies are different? Or are you implying that because I'm a woman, I lack the feelings/emotions to be attracted to a man who's leading me in prayer, regardless of his age? Because if that's the assumption, it's completely wrong.

Here's what I understand from the arguments that people give when saying women shouldn't be allowed to lead men in prayer:

- A man leading women in prayer is okay because women aren't supposed to be thinking about physical stuff (desire, lust, etc.) when praying, so it's understood that women will behave while praying behind a man, no matter how attracted they are to the man leading the prayer.

- A WOMAN leading men in prayer, however, is wrong because men are easily attracted to women. And men just naturally can't behave once they fall in love with or lust after a woman. So it's not okay for women to do it, but it's okay for men.

Yet, when I say, "What IF a woman gets attracted to a man leading the prayer?" The response is, "OMG! Shame on you! That's so immodest -- why would you be thinking that when praying? :S That's so wrong and impious." Yeah, well, I was just told that women shouldn't lead men in prayer because she is nothing more than a naturally seductive and dangerously sexy being by nature, and so that means men are easily attracted to her . . . No one thinks THAT is immodest, but it's immodest when *I* say that a woman actually MAY be attracted to a man leading prayer?

You see the contradiction there, WJ?

And this makes sense to people.

Regarding the Prophet's wives and how they never led prayer (actually, you did ask that earlier, and I did respond :) 's okay, though ) -- again, just because they never did it doesn't mean it's haraam. There are many, many things they didn't do simply because such was not the norm or standard of the day; or maybe because they didn't have a reason to or access to such power. Yes, yes - Islam is for all people of all times, but, again, as I said earlier, unless it is specifically specified to be *haraam*, everything's halaal. Unless you can give me a quote from the Quran, or maybe even a hadith, that tells me that a woman is strictly forbidden from leading men in prayer, I am going to have to continue disagreeing with you.
WJ: as u wish sister..
Lakum deinokum walyadein :D

I wish we'd gotten into a discussion on hadiths . . . That would've pushed me to write a blog post on hadiths, too :p (NOTE: I don't reject all hadiths, so don't try to read between the lines, folks. But there are some "authentic" hadiths that I find quite disturbing.) 


End of comments.


There are too many claims without support -- and I mean this in any discussion/debate on women and gender. A woman can't do this; she has to do this and that; she can't do XYZ -- she has to stand this way -- she has to think this way -- etc. No support for these claims. No explanation. No evaluation of them. I don't understand how we can just sit there and accept everything as it is without thinking about it or questioning its authenticity.  
People often assume that I don't know my stuff and that because I disagree with the idea that women are forbidden from leading men in prayer, I need to be reminded of what "scholars" say. Firstly, I'm going to question the "scholarship" of these scholars -- and these "scholars" include Zakir Naik (ohhh my favorite one! I have a poem coming on him.) Secondly, the *majority* tells us that women can't lead men in prayer -- but who said the majority has to be right? What if I decide to go with the minority on certain issues instead? Isn't that the beauty of diversity? (Now, now, I mean what if the minority can very, VERY well defend their stance, not like, "Okay, let's just go with this because it "feels" right. Or "Let's go with this because it's 'modern' and we should be tryina be modern." Yeah, no. I don't mean that type. They gotta have a really good, convincing argument for me to give them some thought.)
More on this another time. I have an essay to write now on Zakir Naik's stance on female authority in Islam.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Deep Infinite Well

I'm writing this in response to a good friend's article/piece on the hijab and some Muslim's hypocrisy related to the hijab and all. (You know, when replying to non-Muslims' questions on the hijab, we go, "Oh, no, no - the hijab is just a choice." YET, we go around condemning the female who DOESN'T wear the hijab. Like, what's up with that, yo? Or we think we're more pious and more Islamic and closer to God and more modest than those be-sharam (immodest) women who don't cover their hair.) And not all Muslim females who cover their hair do so out of personal choice. It's often vying with their Muslim peers. It's done to please others rather than to please your Creator. As I read today, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please others." Or you cover your hair, but that's not enough: You've to cover everything else. So you cover your hair, but your chest shows; you cover your hair and chest, but your arms show; you cover all that but your face shows. Like, OH MY GOD! The obligations, the expectations never end, and you just wanna scream and say, "LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE, WORLD!!!! Leave me to my God!!!"

k, so here. I'm sharing here some thoughts that I shared with her on this. [Pre-script: I use both "She" and "He" for God. Live with it. If God has no gender, then why does it matter if I call Her a She or a He? It's both for me, and I'll use these pronouns as if they mean the same thing -- they mean God.]

We subtly force people to have the kind of faith we do, or to believe the way WE think everyone should believe without realizing that everyone has her/his own understanding of God, that God has a way with every single one of His worshipers, that each person has her/his own pace at which to reach or find God. I remember when a close friend of mine showed interest in Islam and I told some ladies at the Islamic Center nearby, and they were all like, "Hurry, hurry, convert her RIGHT now before she changes her mind!" :S At that time, around 2007, I was very immature and stupid and spiritually empty, so I was like, "OMG, sisters, you all are right! She might change her mind, and then she won't become a Muslim!" So I rushed to pretty much STUFF her with things about Islam ... it's now my WORST regret ever.

If I were to go back in time, I'd tell those ladies with a smile on my face, "If she's gonna change her mind, then she's not ready to be a Muslim, she's not ready to see God your/my way, she's not ready to practice our faith. Or perhaps God hasn't intended for her to become a Muslim NOW if she's gonna change her mind. Let's answer her questions if/when we can and be the best examples of good Muslims that we can be, and if she converts, great; if she doesn't, so be it -- God might have other plans in mind for her." Oh but I can imagine the frowns they'll gift me then!

Ahhh ... yes . . .

Anyway, we can't change the past but only look forward to a future in which we can better ourselves and allow others the space they need or desire to be their own selves. I just can't imagine WHAT kind of a God would wish to put us into hell in order to grant us heaven ultimately! I REFUSE to believe that showing a strand of hair is going to invalidate my prayer, or showing my head is going to deny me the fruits of heaven. No. And what if I don't feel comfortable in a headcovering? Would I not be resenting God the whole time, then? I mean, walking in a street with a hijab on FEELING ANGRY at God because He's making me do something I don't feel comfortable in, something that's inviting attention toward me from everyone else because I look different, I stand out -- how can I appreciate God then? How can I love God then? How can I even DESIRE to get to know this God or get closer to this God? I can't. I'd be resenting Him the whole time.

I'm a staunch supporter of the hijab -- even of the veil (face-covering). I believe EVERY woman should be allowed to cover her face if that's her way of getting closer to God, if that's what she believes it means to be modest, if that's how she attains piety. But she's in NO position to tell someone else, "You're not as close to God as I am because I cover my face, something the wives of the Prophet were commanded to do, and you're not! hah." Uhh ... screw you, you fake Muslimah! How does she know I don't feel even closER to God? In all honesty, I have this REALLY beautiful relationship with God. I believe I'm extremely close to God, and I love it. You know how I can tell? Because I talk to God and I yell at Him. I fight with Him. It's exactly what I express in a poem of mine I've aptly titled "Forbidden."

I literally talk to God, and I literally fight with Him. I get angry with Her when I have too many questions and can't figure out the answers, and then I embarrassingly come back to Her when I DO find the answers and discuss them with Him. But I don't mind, and I don't feel like it's going to send me directly to hell just because I didn't do something She has decided is best for me to do. No. I love this God. I fear Her but not in the way that we're normally raised or taught to fear God. It's like this: You know how you're always afraid of disappointing your favorite teachers or, say, your parents? It's becuase you love them SO much, you wish SO much to impress and please them, to make them proud, but you don't wanna mess up because you don't want to make them less proud of you, you don't wanna disappoint them. It's like that with me and my God.

And so, I don't discuss my relationship with God with anyone because people don't understand. They're like, "You're supposed to do XYZ; no way around it! Stop making excuses for yourself!" Yeah, okay. So what? Who're you to tell me what my God wants me to do? And if I don't do it, what are you gonna do about it? I understand that we should promote what's good and avoid what's bad, but who're you to force me to do it? And why're you picking and choosing which parts of your faith to practice and enforce and which ones to ignore? Hypocrite. Go away.

k ... :D that's all :D

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On the Hypocrisy of Some Feminists

k, so, have you ever felt like people OFTEN don't live up to their own beliefs and ideals and standards, or what they themselves promote? I do. In fact, I think it's true for most people in one way or another.

You see, I don't shy away from classifying myself as a feminist -- provided a feminist is someone who supports and advocates the rights of women as humans (or, as the witty saying goes, feminism is the radical notion that women are humans). Now, what this means is that I am entirely supportive of females, would do anything to help them, and would give up whatever I have for their happiness -- provided it's something I don't really "need," you know. Yeah, well, turns out that many feminists aren't like this! It makes me laugh.

Every time I read a book or article that I REALLY like, I email the author, male or female. If the piece is especially something that deals with Islam and feminism and progressive interpretations of Islam and so on, I definitely make sure to write to the author right away. Now, ALL the responses I've received from these authors have been very pleasant and encouraging, except for this one! I won't name the author (maybe when I write a critique of the rather sweeping generalizations she makes and the rather superficial argument she offers in some of her works, for which she is renown anyway), but here's what happened:

I emailed her, just like I do all the others, and told her that I found this particular book of hers very interesting and bold and that I appreciate and and you get the point. I'd been told to watch out for her response because she is a very arrogant woman. She's extremely popular in the fields of women's studies, religious studies, Islamic studies, and sociology, so she thinks she's too good for us ordinary peeps, you know. Yeah, well, wait till I get up there one day, sitting right there shoulder-to-shoulder with her, and we'll teach her who's who! (I kid, I swear.) But anyway, so, her first reply was VERY nice ... but the next!! OMG!!! I had to read it like 5 times to make sure she'd emailed the right person; I also had to read MY OWN email that I'd sent her 5 times to make sure I hadn't instigated it. It was really discouraging. I won't disturb you with what her message said.

So I told my teachers about it (of course). I have very, very supportive teachers, and each one was like, "Were you surprised?" I was like, "HELL YEAH!!! She's a feminist, damn it! It was obvious in my email that I'm a woman. If anything, she should've shown some support!!! hah, so much for being a feminist, that mean old lady!" Another teacher told me this really interesting anecdote in which it was proven to him personally what kind of a person she is. (They all know her personally 'cause they've met in conferences or at some other academic gatherings.) Another of my professors assured me that she is known for having an "obnoxious personality," so it's nothing new and that I shouldn't let her words get to me.

Khair, it's over now. It was just REALLY upsetting, you see!

Oh, and when I told about the same thing to this other teacher (who also knows her personally, I think), she and I briefly talked about how discouraging it is to see female feminists hating on other women, or being jealous of other women, or not supporting other women. (She, too, classifies herself as a feminist, but, contrary to some women who CLAIM to be feminists, she is extremely supportive and is the type of woman who, when she sees a female student who deals with gender/sexuality/religion/music/ethnography/etc., goes, "Why don't I know yet? We should talk." She's really pleasant, and I've a lot of respect for her for many reasons, including her personality.) So she shared some examples of women feminists in our own institution rejecting other feminists for certain reasons, which I'd rather not share here.

Of course, I have personal examples of how some self-proclaimed feminists don't know even the basics of feminism and possess very superficial knowledge of feminist and humanitarianism and don't know how to treat other women. Those stories will have to wait for another time, though, yeah.

Oh wait! I MUST reiterate: I am a staunch feminist who believes in the rights of women, who believes that women should have the right to choose what's best for them (be that a face-covering), who believes that women are just as human as men are, and that being equal in merit does NOT mean being or looking the same. (You know how people sometimes go, "Excuse me, but how can you fight for the equal rights of women and men when the two are so obviously different?" Oh please. That's such a lame argument. An African man doesn't look the same as a Chinese man who doens't look the same as a Caucasian man who doesn't look the same as a Latino man -- why should all men have the rights that they have that are denied to women? Anyway, more on this later.) My point is that although *some* feminists are hypocrites to the core, that's not at all to claim that *feminists* are hypocrites. SOME are - not all, not many, not most.

k, that's all for now, folks!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Musings of a Beloved

Musings of a Beloved
Shall I narrate to you the stories my beloved tells me
Or will my own musings suffice today?
Ahh, how he eulogizes these dark, exotic eyes!
How he gets inebriated with the redness of these lips!
He tells me I’m his goddess – and oh I am! And he’s mine.
I’m his heaven, and he's mine. And there’s no hell.
And when he comes to me,
He looks like Majnoon at last awoken from a deep slumber,
Divested of Laila’s lips
And there’s passion, untrammeled passion
And, with closed eyes, reveling in this felicity,
He tells me God exists. Yes, God exists.
For such finery is surely divine.
His hand in mine, my eyes cleaving to his,
I implode with yearning and love
And we sing songs of love
And I become the moon, and he becomes my glow
I recline with him in a spring of blue roses
And it’s us alone – two impenitent souls in love
But, alas, their mordant stares!
They make the world an incubus, a world where love is forbidden
But such is the state of a folk inured to envy!
What— must we immolate our existence now and let eternity begin?
For such is the penalty of love, written in history
No. Let us hone the blade of our love
And depart in fathomless eternity
And soar where the zephyrs blow.

~ Me, Nov. 25th 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Research Ideas - Part 3

Next up in the series of research ideas is ....
Begum Nawazish Ali!

OMG! She is SO freaking cool! Actually, she's a man in reality but acts, dresses, and talks like a woman on this one talk show she hosts. (I'm gonna address her as "she" throughout this post.) His real name is Ali Saleem. Check this out: Begum Nawazish Ali with Arbaz and Malaika. She is SUCH a great actress!

She says in one interview that she's had many, many different types of people on her show -- from preachers/imaams to famous celebrities to government officials to you-name-it. She also says that she knows if she were a female, she wouldn't have this freedom, this authority that she does as a man impersonator of women -- at least in the time and society that she's living in, anyway. She also knows that even though she's perhaps the most popular figure in Pakistan right now, she's not appreciated by many because they believe that she is either gay or confused about her identity or just wrong Islamically.

I've millions of questions to ask her and about her for a research project personally. I will let readers/viewers/listeners, however, form their own questions about her. I wonder, though, how she is able to do this ... I mean, what exactly are the stereotypes out there associated with Pakistan? All we seem to hear and are exposed to is this stringent, orthodox Islam and culture, when we have Begum Nawazish Ali in that exact same society, STILL LIVING! :O In one of her interviews, she said that she's never been attacked . . . and that's like the first question that came to our mind when our gender and Islam teacher told us about her. One student was like, "Has anyone tried killing her?"

Anyway, so enjoy her! I'm still mesmerized by her talent and gut.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the Progressive Views of Classical Muslim Scholars

On Tuesdays, I get together with a group of friends for dinner, and we have these really, really stimulating discussions. We try not to select our topics in advance because half the excitement comes from the randomness of the topics. Our group consists of 2 Muslims, a half-Muslim half-Atheist, a Buddhist, a Christian, and a half-Christian half-Atheist. Some weeks ago, I read on this one forum a  comment of this one member telling someone, "So [since you drink and have girlfriends], is it okay in your culture/religion to do that?" And it made me laugh because my friends and I often pick on our Buddhist friend by saying things like, "OMG! Is that ALLOWED in your culture/religion? WOW! So, in Buddhism, you can do XYZ? NO way!" We do the same to the Christian friends and they all do it to me and the other Muslim. It's our way of expressing our resentment towards those ridiculous people who think (no, I guess sneering at the idea) that one person or one group of people can represent an ENTIRE religion or culture or race.

So, as some of y'all know, I'm taking this class called Gender and Sexuality in Islam and that the book we're currently reading is called Homosexuality in Islam. A friend of mine asked what it was all about and which periods the book is covering, and sexuality in which time periods, etc.  And I realized that we (Muslims) have to rely on what our jurists of the 8th - 10th centuries said in order to figure out what's permissible and what's prohibited TODAY. A friend of mine pointed out that "that's ironic. In most other religions, such things were not discussed in the earlier stages of the religion's beginning but discussions/debates on topics in those religions start much, much later!"

An excellent point he made there. It's very true. Muslim scholars and jurists were WAY ahead of their time. I do not believe it was *because* of Islam necessarily. But if you study the works of those guys, they were skilled in MILLIONS of things at once! Read Al-Ghazali, for instance, or Ibn Fadlan, or Ibn Tufayl, or Ibn Sina. Ibn Tufayl, like many others, was one of those people who was a scholar, a philosopher, a theologian, a doctor -- EVERYTHING at once! He also wrote this novel in which his character, Hayy, is a genius like himself. . What he does with the character, the different stages the character goes through ... brilliant stuff, folks. (In a future blog post, ka khairee, I will tell the story of Hayy.)

But what do our "scholars" do today? How do we define a "scholar" today? By our definition, who is included and who's excluded?

My point is, like my (Buddhist) friend said, what Muslim scholars did in the past, scholars of most other religions are doing TODAY. It's TODAY that people are going back to interpretations of sacred texts, turning to debates/discussions to fully understand a scared text. But Muslim scholars, they did this in the past. Unfortunately, we put an end to this whole debating on religions in the 10th century! (As is said, "The doors to Ijtihad have been closed since the 10th century. Everything you study now HAS -- absolutely HAS -- to be based on the conclusions of the Muslim jurists before the 10th century. You may NO longer offer a new interpretation to any text." Forgotten is the fact that those same scholars respected and acknowledged their own limitations. They didn't have a problem openly admitting their weaknesses or faults. Most even wrote in their own texts that "I believe I'm right, but I understand that I MAY be wrong. I also believe that Persons A, B, C, ... Z are wrong, but I admit that they may be right or more right than I am." Who says this today?

Clearly, then, we Muslims today have gone backward: We let our scholars prior to the 10th century (C.E.) decide everything for us, and we think it's blasphemous to go back to the ORIGINAL scripture(s) to study and understand how our scholars said/concluded what they did. What we SHOULD be doing is to appreciate and respect the former interpretations and conclusions and realize that limiting ourselves to only what's already accepted as "tradition" is denying Islam its universality and limiting God's extreme vastness and absoluteness to the understanding of a group of people of one particular time and society only. A major problem in this is that we simply PRIDE ourselves with our "rich" history -- but that's it! We don't go beyond that pride by actually studying that history becuase what those people did back then is considered utterly forbidden by some Muslims today! Often, it's even those same Muslims who say things like, "Study Islamic history! You'll see we had great scholars, scientists, philosophers in that time because of Islam, okay?" I can't help asking myself if they have ever bothered studying it themselves... 'cause those people were very bold, VERY open. Heck, they often discussed things that even I think are "immodest" for public discussions :p (Kidding but not really). That was all because they valued tolerance and intellect. Who does that today? You'd think we should be moving forward; instead, we're moving backward!

What happened then (mostly in the Abbasid Era) was solely because the time and resources were just well-fitting. Nothing lasts forever. We couldn't be successful forever, now, could we? Everything comes to a demise; everything has its own time. That's why I don't lament this. We have a rich and "glorious" history, but it ended just like everything is SUPPOSED to end. No, wait - perhaps "end" isn't the correct word here. I prefer to believe it's come to a halt instead and will continue when the time is apt again. That means we have to work hard, we have to study history and understand why things were the way they were at THAT time and then ask ourselves why things are the way they are today. Once we figure this out while remembering that there are thousands of factors involved in the success and demise of a people/civilization and no one factor is more important than another, we will be able to start working towards a better, more peaceful, more successful future as well. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Imagine You're a Jurist

** Pasting this from my "Islam and Gender" Blog.**  There's so much more I'm dying to share -- no time to write it in words just yet, though, 'cause the semester is coming to an end, and that means a ton of exam reviews and term papers to complete before we welcome December Jaan!
In upcoming blog entries, either on this blog or on the Gender-Islam one (prolly the Gender-Islam one, though), I'll be discussing the role of interpretation in Quranic verses pertinent to women, inshaAllah! I took notes in class today, thinking I'll just paste those into the blog, but then I realized that my audience includes people who don't believe in "interpreting" a text and think that everything's all clear in the Quran... when it's in fact not. So I'll have to come up with a way to explain what it all means and everything. 

Enjoy this for the time being!

P.S. I'm learning slowly and slowly how boldly and openly classical Muslim jurists discussed "sensitive" topics such as the one below and how sad yet interesting it is that most of us today deem those same topics forbidden and too "immodest" to be discussed in public! Heck, read al-Tabari, al-Ghazali, or even Ibn Katheer (yes, all men of course;  we know that no women jurists existed in the classical period ... or even today! And of course this was all the space of men and men only), and you'll wanna cover your eyes because of the rich descriptions they provide of these "forbidden" topics! It's amazing how behind we've fallen, how we seem to be going backwards instead of forward. As they used to say, "There is no shame in learning and teaching; nothing is too immodest when it comes to discussing it from an Islamic point of view, or understanding Islam's stance on it." More on this another time, but you get the idea. 

So, during the last  couple of weeks, we've been reading texts on Islamic jurisprudence and sexual ethics. We were heading towards Muslim jurists' views on conception and abortion, the laws on what a woman should do in various scenarios. Before that, our professor had us imagine that we, the students, are jurists in the medieval times and a good, practicing Muslim woman comes to us and asks if premature withdrawal is permissible or not because she and her husband are poor and have several children, and she does not think they should have anymore because they cannot afford them. Her husband claims premature withdrawal is the best method of preventing pregnancy and that using condoms (made of cured sheep's intestine) are forbidden according to Islam. So, she wants to know if it's Islamically acceptable to use condoms and whether or not premature withdrawal is allowed.
We give a response based on Islam (the Quran, hadiths, and jurists' opinions). Some time passes, and she comes back, unhappy, saying that she followed our advice but just found out that she is 2.5 months pregnant. She asks us 1) if she can have an abortion, and 2) if yes, then does she need her husband's permission?

SO! Exciting stuff! And everything we said was to be supported by the Quran, hadiths, and other jurists' opinions, which means we couldn't say, "No, of course you can do XYZ! Who said you can't?" etc... which is where one of the main challenges lies in being a jurist, I see now.

We were not allowed to read up on abortion and conception in Islam, save for the material he sent us that we could use to make our decision. In this blog post, I share what all those are -- ranging from Quranic verses to hadith reports to jurists' statements. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On the Periphery of Eruption

They try to extinguish these candles of passion
And disturb my ebullience.
They try to silence my thoughts and stultify my valor.
Do they wish I become one of them –
Burn in the rages of ennui and be damned to perdition?
But how am I to relinquish this dwelling of learning?
How must I shun this faith I have descried?
Must I continue reconnoitering new vistas while they regress,
Or must I capitulate to their baleful despise?
Ahhh! How the emollient whispers of each candle compel me
To reject these scathing overtures of a folk unlettered!
I lie here befuddled:
Why seek the approbation of
A people outside my realm of understanding? 
But I must welcome their flagging adoration!    
For, if pondering makes me a miscreant, then a miscreant I shall be!
And I must resist
Until the last candle of passion has consumed itself.
I am but a dauntless soul,
A circumspect acolyte of reason
Learning under the aegis of my teachers,
While caged in a society distended with sanctimony! 

~ Qrratugai, October 24th 2010

Persistence is the only thing that keeps you going.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

Today, I had the privilege of attending a lecture led by Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr (YES!!! I did! OMG!) and followed by Vincent Cornell and Scott Kugle (that's correct!) on the pursuit of happiness.

They talked on the concept of happiness in the Islamic tradition. Other scholars talked on faith and other religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism).

It was SO refreshing, SO beautiful, SO peaceful!

Anyway, so lemme share briefly with you what I learned and what they said. Some narrated Sufi stories and the thoughts of Muslim philosophers and scholars on what happiness is, how it is achieved, what it's for, and where it comes from. They talked on what our scholars of the past meant, and what's meant even today, when they say, "Reject the desires of this earth" (this is important to me personally 'cause I always misunderstood it. I thought it means what many people think it means: to literally abandon this earth, don't associate with anyone, resist all desires, and so on. Ahhh, but that's not what it means! I'll explain another time what it really means, ka khairee). The most interesting thing was said by Kugle: "It is not the pursuit of happiness we should be discussing or seeking; it is the pursuit of contentment." He, like the other speakers, reminded us that contentment is more important than happiness and that happiness is only transitory. Contentment, however, is deeper. To be content is to realize that your goals can become your prison, a dead end; to be content is not to let your heart be attached to anything; to be content is to experience something bad and, instead of feeling depressed or angry, looking at it from a distant, asking what it could mean and why it might have occurred (in other words, "What can I learn from this? What can this lesson teach me? It's not in my control, so what can I get from being angered by it?").

Contentment is best achieved by giving, by being generous, by sharing; to be fully content, one should possess the hospitality of the earth.

Most interestingly, the Arabic word for "happiness" is "Sa'aadah," ("Anaa saeedah" = I am happy). But it also means salvation. The speakers therefore asserted that, in Islam, one can attain happiness by attaining salvation. (I will get into the whole philosophical concept of happiness, heaven, hell, etc. in another blog post, not now.)

They said that another way to attain happiness (and salvation) is by performing dhikr, the remembrance of God. There are many ways one can do dhikr, but, when asked if he could perform it for the audience, Professor Hossein said he does not believe it should be done in or for the public.

And, last, they all also agreed with the other speakers and followers and supporters of other religious ideologies by stating that happiness comes with knowing who you are. They told stories in which this is explained. ... And I'll have to watch the lectures again to be able to share each story here, but that's not happening now, k?

Each of these points can be elaborated extensively, I know, but I needed to write all this down for my own sake, so it's not detailed. I'm just saying it all here because it was a really enlightening lecture, and the feeling of being around those sages was and always will be simply divine.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My New Blog :D

YAY! I got a new blog now! I am still gonna keep this Qrratugai one, of course. The other's one just going to have academic themes only, and my audience will include scholars in Islamic studies, gender studies, ethnography, and other academic interests of mine. And I'm going to be posting all things related to gender and Islam there!!

The link to it is: Islam and Gender
Sorry I couldn't think of a more interesting title or link. But no worries: We can change the link any time we like, so if you've got better suggestions, lemme knooooooow, or don't complain.


- Qrratugai

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Living Love" - what it means to love and be loved!

Yes, I remember the first time we talked. I was angry at him, and we talked about God. He had said something about a quality of mine that I never stopped reminding him for the rest of our life. Never you mind—you shouldn’t know that much. Just know that it was love. When we talked, love talked; love talked to us, and we talked to love. And we talked about love, and he’d tell me always that he did not believe in it; love was not for intelligent people, he’d say. Only I, of the billions of women in the world, had the honor to tell him, “You think you’re all that, but you’re not. Come down to earth. You’re worth no more than I am, and I believe in love.”

I remember, too, the first time he held my hand in his. I remember the warmth, the scent, the love, the respect. He said he could read palms, and so he took mine to pretend to read it. I knew he was lying. But it was the right thing to do with him—only with him. It took him several weeks to realize I could read his mind, because his mind was mine and mine was his and we were one, so he didn’t have to lie. Oh but how he lied! It was no Bollywood movie. I wanted him to hold it forever, and he did. He is still holding it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Abu's Comments

Pa khairuno, Abu (Hurairah)! 
I hope all's well with you.

Kha, so, since the Chatter Box thingie is mostly for hi/bye/sup kinda talks, I figured I should create a whole new blog post for you where you can say anything you want in the comment box below. Feel free to ask all your questions, complain about Qrratugai's beliefs (lol :D), and say whatever else crosses your mind. I'll respond accordingly. 

I think this is better, but if you prefer the chatter-boxie, I guess I can live with that. 

Dre nim darzana manana, wror gwala!

- Qrratu

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Mother's Advice to Her Bride-Daughter

I just read this on some Facebook group, and, and, and . . . well, I wish I didn't have to say that I'm SO sorry for the poor bride who does take (some of) this advice! Consider the boldened parts, for example. Of course, some of it is very helpful, noble truths, I want to call them  -- but they don't apply to women alone; they could prove quite helpful for men as well (example: "Show him as much honor and respect as you can"; So I don't know why the emphasis had to be on the bride only.Yes, there's one point in which the mother tells the daughter to become like a servant to her husband --  but she adds that "so that he will become like a servant to you." I guess it's just that I can't see myself treating my husband like a servant or accepting servile treatment by him! Or that I would never be able to respect a man who cannot handle disagreements (the mother tells the daughter to always agree with her husband so that he will enjoy her company).

Khair, enjoy, folks!

Abd al-Malik (RA) said: "When 'Awf ibn Muhallim al-Shaybani, one of the most highly respected leaders of the Arab nobility during the jahiliyyah, married his daughter Umm Iyas to al-Harith ibn 'Amr al-Kindi, she was made ready to be taken to the groom, then her mother, Umamah came into her, to advise her and said:

'O my daughter, if it were deemed unnecessary to give you this advice because of good manners and noble descent, then it would have been unnecessary for you, because you posses these qualities, but it will serve as a reminder to those who are forgetful, and will help those who are wise.
'O my daughter, if a woman were able to do without a husband by virtue of her father's wealth and her need for her father, then you of all people would be most able to do without a husband, but women were created for men just as men were created for them.
'O my daughter, you are about to leave the home in which you grew up, where you first learned to walk, to go to a place you do not know, to a companion to whom you are unfamiliar. By marrying you, he has become a master over you, so be like a servant to him, and he will become like a servant to you.
'Take from me ten qualities, which will be a provision and a reminder for you.
'The first and second of them are: be content in his company, and listen to and obey him, for contentment brings peace of mind, and listening to and obeying one's husband pleases Allah.
'The third and fourth of them are: make sure that you smell good and look good; he should not see anything ugly in you, and he should not smell anything but a pleasant smell from you. Kohl is the best kind of beautification to be found, and water is better than the rarest perfume.
'The fifth and sixth of them are: prepare his food on time, and keep quiet when he is asleep, for raging hunger is like a burning flame, and disturbing his sleep will make him angry.
'The seventh and eight of them are: take care of his servants (or employees) and children, and take care of his wealth, for taking care of his wealth shows that you appreciate him, and taking care of his children and servants shows good management.
'Know, O my daughter, that you will not achieve what you would like to until you put his pleasure before your own, and his wishes before yours, in whatever you like and dislike. And may Allah choose what is best for you and protect you." (Jamharah Khutah al-'Arab, 1/145)
'Be careful, O my daughter, of showing joy in front of him when he is upset, and do not show sorrow in front of him when he is happy, because the former shows a lack of judgment whilst the latter will make him unhappy.
'Show him as much honour and respect as you can, and agree with him as much as you can, so that he will enjoy your companionship and conversation.
'The ninth and tenth of them are: never disclose any of his secrets, and never disobey any of his orders, for if you disclose any of his secrets you will never feel safe from his possible betrayal, and if you disobey him, his heart will be filled with hatred towards you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Honors Thesis Topic Finalized at Last!

Hurray for me! I FINALLY (no, really -- I MEAN finally!) settled on a topic that not only interests and fascinates me but is also extremely relevant to modern affairs among Muslims, especially South Asian Muslims. I'm still gonna continue my digging for works on honor and Pashtun women, but that'll have to wait until I am working on my PhD dissertation! If, when the time comes, I realize that I wanna deal with gender in Islamic law and hermeneutics and Islam and feminism or something else, then no biggie at all: I'll just do my fieldwork in Swat/Pashtunkhwa whenever my future allows me, ka khair wee.

What's my topic, you ask? Ahhh, what but the notion of authority in Islam and the great and highly revered Zakir Naik, beloved friends! Now, any thesis adviser will tell you that that's just not specific enough, that it needs to be narrowed down. Sure thing - not to worry: I will deal with Zakir Naik and women's rights and his views on women in other religion, or in the west. (You know how he's always attacking the west for its representation of women. He lives in this ideal world in which women are treated with so much respect and love, and they're so appreciated for EVERYTHING that they do for the world. And the west, this infidel west, is nothing but a bad, bad, bad place for women. He's also always attacking other religions, appearing like an authority on other religious scriptures when anyone who just thinks about what he's really saying about those religions can figure out the wrong things he's teaching about those religions! It's truly a crisis. Muslims listen to them with the idea that "as Muslims, we're the only ones right. Everyone else is wrong. Let's just wait for Zakir Naik to tell us how they're wrong." Dude! Come ON! Read yourself! Study yourself!...k, yeah.) And, so, I think it's important and needs to be discussed in the academic world.

Last year, my "Islam in South Asia" professor asked me what suggestions, if any, I might have for him to make the course not only more appealing but wider in scope as well. Well, the first thing I said was: Academic scholars, especially those educated in western or other secular institutions, have little to no influence on Muslims' lives and belief systems; it is preachers like Zakir Naik, Ahmad Deedat, Yusuf Estes, etc. who have more power, more authority, and more influence. When we discuss Islam in South Asia, we NEED to talk about these figures because, although we strongly disagree with them and are aware of their lack of deep knowledge of Islam, it is THEY who everyone listens to. And so I suggested to my professor that he either write something on this himself or then search for some. You shouldn't graduate with an Islamic Studies badge unless you understand what power preachers like the above-mentioned ones have over Muslims and why Muslims look up to them to begin with.

More about my thesis will be discussed in the academic blog I'm creating right now (it's taking time 'cause it has to have the PERFECT name, PERFECT literature, PERFECT style, PERFECT look -- everything perfect. You understand.), but this was just to say: I am happy and relieved that all worked out well after all :D Hey, now I know how to guide someone who might be in the position I was in these last few weeks!

Peace be upon the world!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Waiting for ... What?

Some weeks ago, friends and I gathered to talk about something very important and relevant in today's busy world: Why are we always busy, and why are we always waiting for the next break?

I meant to share this message a long time ago but forgot in the mean time and was reminded about it today by my sister who is taking a yoga class (which I recommend for every single human to try out if possible!!), and her coach is one of those people who starts off the class with the message to "Leave ALL your worries behind the door, and enter this room with the desire to be happy, to FEEL happy, to relax." Forget lessons on happiness; everyone defines it differently, but the one thing we NEED to agree on is to stop waiting for happiness to come to us and instead go to happiness ourselves.

Now, why're we always waiting for a break? Come Christmas Break, you can't enjoy, you can't relax because you have a lot of homework to do, a GRE/MCAT/GMAT/etc. to study for, a thesis to write, several books to read for academic purposes, and so on. The moment you TRY to relax, you can't enjoy it because you feel guilty that you're doing something fun when you should be, say, studying. But why? And, more importantly, DO you actually end up using every single minute of your life studying? No, of course not. That's humanly impossible, and even the most nerdest people among us can't and don't do it.

Then, once Christmas Break is over, first day of class/work and we're counting days till the next break visits us! Heck, stop waiting for breaks to visit you and go right up and visit those breaks!

So, relax and stop waiting for the next break. Dedicate a good amount of time of your life to taking rest, to relaxing, to doing something that you ENJOY -- be it what I do at times: Reflecting on the day's or week's events, my feelings, what good I've done, what bad I've done, what I've accomplished, what needs to be done. Believe it or not, just sitting alone with yourself and reflecting on your own life every now and then helps relaxes your mind quite a lot.

It's good to plan for the future, for the next moment, yes, but it's unwise to plan the tomorrow so much that you forget to live in the present.

Peace to all!

Back to Blogging :D

Hello, world!

So I decided to get back to blogging again. The main reason is that I'm really busy. Odd, I know. But what I mean is that because I'm busy with my academic life, I need something to do for pleasure as well, something that benefits not only me but others as well. I mean, reading is the most exciting thing to do -- okay, ranking after the most beautiful baby girl in the world (that'd be my niece, yes) -- but that's just for myself. My blogging, however, has benefits for my readers as well, yeah? Writing blog posts could be way of taking a break from the serious moments in my life -- serious like choosing which freaking grad schools to apply to, who my advisers should be, and so on. They give me a headache just thinking about them, you see.

Bottom line: Blogging's the best. don't understand why more people don't turn to blogging. Really, it's such a great medicine for the mind and soul!

Okay, so I have some ideas, and I'm gonna try to share them here.

1. The "really important" things are at last done with: The professional blog, owned by my summer research adviser, that I was monitoring is still running, but since I'm not involved in the research this semester and will be getting back to it either during the Winter Break, ka khairee, I don't have to post in it until then.

2. I need to have an academic blog that'll aid the studies and research of students of Islamic Studies, Gender/Women/Queer Studies, and Religious Studies as well as (Muslim and/or Pashtun) women and other interested individuals. In this blog, the tone of which must be as professional as it can get, I will discuss the books, articles, and other literature that I find important and worth reading and provide PDF links to them (technology: the best thing humans have come up with as of yet! Every time I read a book or something I love, I immediately contact the author. Some of them are kind and generous enough to send me PDF files of their other works! How beautiful that be?!). I also have a gazillion and a quarter ideas for research on Pashtuns, especially Pashtun women, as well as on Muslims in general, and since I may not live long enough to accomplish the goals I have set for myself, someone else needs to hear those ideas so that they may be enforced if/when possible.

3. Coming up with a topic for an honors thesis is one of the most torturous moments of a student's life! Those of you who have been through it share the sentiment. Oh geez, I spent the entire summer reading books to include in my thesis, or to compile a good enough bibliography for the thesis, but it turns out ... I'm not satisfied with that! I need something more intellectually stimulating than what I'd chosen. Khair, I will discuss this in the next blog post -- my honors thesis dilemma and all. But, needless to say, I refuse to quit here and am going to have a highest honors by the end of April 2011, ka khairee.

4. Zakir Naik!!!!! Maaan!! I can't WAIT to write something on this guy! It turns out, my honors thesis MIGHT be on this guy's influence on (South Asian) Muslims! I haven't shared this possibility with my adviser, so it's possible that he disagree with it, but we'll see. (The reason he might disagree is that we have discuss Islamic Feminism and Islamic law extensively, and we had initially hoped to have the thesis on that. More about this later.)

All right, now. So the summary is:

- Blogging is good for the mind!
- I will be creating a new blog that will be for academic purposes only. This one will remain my space for ranting :D
- I need ideas for an honors thesis topic, and I'm still listening to whatever anyone has to suggest.

Peace! I'll be back later.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Misunderstood Role of the Hijab

 So, a conversation with a great teacher the other day made me realize something that I'd always known and believed but hadn't really thought about: when you wear a hijab, you're expected to be ... abnormal. Allow me to elaborate.

You see, a hijabi girl is not allowed to smoke, drink, talk to non-related males; she must walk properly, dress properly, and be perfect and "modest" (whatever this term means) in every other way. But why? Why does she have to be burdened with all of this? Meaning, if she's gonna do these things without the hijab on, why can't she do them WITH the hijab on, too? People often say, "What's worse is when a HIJABI smokes -- or wears tight jeans or hugs males or laughs loudly in public," etc. But why can't she do this? Why deny her these things just because her hair is covered? And why're we even assuming that she's wearing the hijab out of choice? Why are we ever SHOCKED when we see a hijabi girl holding a boy's hand (a boy who's not her husband)? If you smoke, why should you be forbidden from doing it just because you wear the hijab, for example? Or if you hold your partner's hand in public, why should you be forbidden from holding it in public just because you wear the hijab? Of  course, like everything else, this can be viewed in different ways, both negative and positive. One way could be that when you wear the hijab, you start to represent not only Islam but all Muslims. Hence, you MUST be behave in a way that the ideal Muslim would behave -- or else. Another way could be that wearing the hijab, deemed a symbol of modesty and virtue, means that you are striving to become a better Muslim, which means that you must avoid everything that you're expected to avoid. As a result, since smoking is not something that "good girls" do, hijabi girls, who are normally seen as "good girls," shouldn't smoke. If you don't wear the hijab, however, then you may do so, since you don't have to worry about carrying the burden of representing an entire faith and over a billion people worldwide.

Still, though, why all these expectations with one choice? I mean, it's not even like all females who wear the hijab do so out of choice. Why should they, too, have to do everything they're expected to do just because they cover their hair?

So what I now wonder is . . . why can't you wear the hijab and be "normal" at the same time? In other words, if, for a hijabi woman, doing something without the hijab is normal or something that she would do if she were NOT wearing the hijab, why does it have to become abnormal or unacceptable with the hijab on?

P.S. I imagine folks twisting my words and going around saying, "Qrratugai thinks that hijabi women should drink and smoke, wear indecent clothing, talk indecently, do everything indecent" and so on. hah. Oh believe me - such folks exist!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Weeping at Ghani's Grave

Dear readers,

This poem has been transferred over to my new blog. Please click here to access it.

Thank you!

~ qrratugai

Monday, June 14, 2010

Exodus of the Wretched Souls

Exodus of the Wretched Souls

Welcome the exodus of the wretched souls!
When living life becomes an option
And death becomes the first resort
All faith in humanity is lost
What is life when there is no more life?
When the flames of hell appeal to the soul
More than does the calm of a non-existent paradise
When the heart has seen enough serenity
And hell repels it, but it repels heaven
When the darkness of the sun pervades the spirit of humanity
Welcome the exodus of the wretched souls!
Let the heart amble with the aimless
Let it float in the hollows of our memories
Let it stumble on the pieces of callous human flesh
Humanity does not exist
The well of life has dried up
Welcome the exodus of the wretched souls.

~ Qrratugai
Monday, June 14th 2010

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