Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Thoughts on the Niqab

**Edit:  I wrote this a long time ago and the views I have expressed here may or may not still be my views. I will write an update on my views on the niqab soon, ka khaire.** - Qrratugai, May 2011.

An interesting question was posted ... about the niqab (face-covering, or the equivalent of "paruney" in Pukhto) on Chai Khana. I thought I'd paste my response here as well, just for future reference. I'd been meaning to write these thoughts anyway, so here they are finally :D

Niqab, paruney, face-covering ... Not for me at all. I would never wear it unless I'm in an area where wearing it is gonna save my coward behind. Like Swat. I mean, to not wear a paruney (face-covering) there basically puts you in the category of a slut, you know.

The niqab is bound to prevent me (and most women who wear it) from being actively and directly involved in their community, particularly when your activity involves being around both male and female members of the society. For instance, I can't imagine myself being a professor and wearing the niqab. I can't imagine myself giving some lectures or presenting at a conference with a niqab on. I think women need to help build communities, shape our future, and play a role in the society OTHER than by just giving birth and raising kids (don't get me wrong, though -- I think that's a crucial job that society has given the woman, and I have no doubt that most women cherish it, but that shouldn't be our only job ... and it doesn't have to be. I onno ... maybe it's just me 'cause I can't imagine thinking I'm being used only for giving birth and nothing else). Besides, how many niqabis out there prove otherwise -- as in, they actually are directly involved in their community? What percentage of women wear the niqab, and what percentage of those women do anything other than just having babies and all?

So, yeah, the niqab would certainly be a major obstacle in my achieving goals that are this important to me, and I don't think wearing a niqab is worth giving up these goals for. But that's just me -- and the lots of other Muslim girls I know.

Sure, some women wear it because they claim it's their choice, or they "choose" to wear it. Those who supposedly “choose” to wear the veil wear it because they believe it brings them closer to God, it makes them feel modest, and it is a moment of piety for them; many will also say, "I feel free in this. This is my OWN free will." But Qrratugai MUST ask her: "Is this really freedom, sister, considering it is something else’s will – the will of YOUR understanding of modesty – that you wear this veil?

Other questions I wanna ask, and would appreciate answers to, are:

1. Is it really a "choice" if your NOT wearing the veil means, in your opinion, your being molested or raped or disrespected in other ways? Where's the choice? Is this “choice” to wear the veil then really based on the women’s own will, or is it a consequence of external factors? I'll say: That's not choice; that's compulsion. Force doesn't have to come from another human being, you know; it can be a result of your own beliefs. So your belief is such that you are *required* to wear the niqab in order to feel closer to God, to feel modest, to feel secure, and so on... doesn't look like a choice to me.

2. If it's a "choice" like they tell us it is, then will you "choose" to wear the Niqab in some parts of the world, and in certain situations, but not in all? Why not? Especially when they're doing it only because they feel modest that way. If it's for purpose of modesty, then why wear it only at certain times and not all? Or is it based on when you think you look pretty and may attract attention?... If that's so, then how do you define beauty or prettiness? (Funny it may sound, but the billions of women who DO show their faces, why don't they seem to attract any men?...)

3. Most importantly, what makes Niqabi women think that in order to be modest, they must wear the veil? In other words, why is the level of modesty defined simply in terms of how much skin is covered?

4. If they're wearing the niqab because they don't wanna be molested or raped, I want to know ... what makes them believe that their veiling themselves solves the society’s problem of having its men molest women whose face are not covered? If a man is gonna be hungry enough to rape or molest a woman whose face (or even hair) isn't covered, something's not wrong with the woman's belief: something's wrong with the society for allowing this man to think that he CAN do this and for telling women that they MUST cover if they don't wanna be raped.

5. What are men’s ways of being modest? How many Muslims do we know who focus on the idea of teaching their male children and other male family members how to respect women, not to give unwanted attention to women, when these same families focus SO much on how modest their FEMALES should be? Everyone talks about whether a woman is required to cover her hair or face, but how many people talk about how to teach a man some values of respect for women? Can we for once try to remind Muslims that, yo, yo, the Quran tells both men AND women to be modest; it tells both men AND women to lower their gazes; it doesn't focus on women's modesty all that any more than it does on men's. So what's the fuss over?

And ... I'm sure each Muslim has her/his own ways of submitting to God. For some women, for instance, it may be by wearing the niqab (though I continue believing that they're not exactly submitting to God by covering their faces; they're submitting to society just as much). It's certainly not for me; I have my ways of submitting to God and expressing that submission. And so, I can't imagine believing in a God who thinks that I should cover my face to please Him or get extra blessings of His. But, of course, what works for one individual doesn't necessarily work for another, so if the only way some women think they can attain piety is by covering their faces, great. But I also think that they're sort of conditioned to believing that. I mean, I've friends who say, "I respect women who wear the niqab; it's the best form of modesty there is, and it takes a lotta guts." And I more than strongly disagree with these opinions.

So That's what I think. Oh, and as for women who wear the veil in the west ... they seem to get far more attention than they do when they don't wear the niqab. Now, let's ask ourselves. Why do we think the niqab is necessary again? Because it won't attract men our way? So that we don't get attract attention and are left alone? Well, if that's one of our reasons, let's re-evaluate that reasoning 'cause I don't think that works in this case.

Besides, even the head-covering (what has now come to be called "hijab") isn't obligatory according to the Quran -- or so one argument goes -- let alone face-covering.


  1. Bold and Brilliant Anlysis and very thought provoking questions.

  2. Many, many thanks to you both, Anonymous and Sanshinwa! Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

    Sanshinwa, I realize that many Muslims do look down upon non-Muslims and that the head- and face-covering doesn't, or shouldn't, say anything about a Muslim woman at all. I know of many who think that wearing a hijab or niqab make them a better *human* than someone else, an of course I judge, so I disagree with their perception of what defines a good person (or even a good Muslim).

    Fortunately, though, that's not how *all* Muslims are.

    Feel free to read my posts on this blog and leave a comment whenever you wish.

    Thank you again!

  3. I think your analysis missed alot from the Islamic perspective of the niqab (parhunay is just a modified pashtun version - which is more cultural in nature). I think if you are a muslim and you believe in the Will of God and his Commands, then things get very much easier to comprehend and accept. You can always argue with yourself and fellow humans even the very existence of God, but you can never disprove anything at all about God and His Commands - including the rationale behind hijab and niqab.

    To me, beauty is one of the treasures, Allah has bestowed upon women. She has every right to enjoy and appreciate this blessing and has every responsibility not to misuse it or let it be misused out of negligence/ignorance.

    I really appreciate your concerns about serving your community and people around you, but to be honest, what hurdle does a niqab prove to be if you work, say as a professor?! How effieicent would your research become if you remove your niqab in a lab? or during your lecture?! I think it would rather distract your male fellows and students on concentrating on your looks rather than what you do!? Isnt that a universal fact about men - brits, americans, arabs or pashtuns?!

    Hit back!

  4. Hi, Khaora!
    Thank you very much for stopping by and sharing your views. I hope you'll continue, particularly with this topic. Dera manana. :)

    Now ... let's touch one point at a time. I'll refrain from responding to all your points at once and focus on one in each comment box so that when you respond, we'll be on the same page. Sama da?

    You seem to believe that the Niqab is mandatory. My perception may be wrong, so please correct me. If you believe that for sure, though, then may I request some evidence for that claim? And by evidence, I don't mean the analysis and interpretation of the people we consider scholars. :) And that's because let's remember that each scholar has her/his own analysis and interpretation of it, and it's often difficult to choose whose view must be the "correct" one.
    I will appreciate contested views on niqab (and hijab as well, if convenient and possible for you).

    Oh, and remember that "beauty" has no fixed definition and, as they say, it lies in the eyes of the beholder. So to say that the woman is naturally beautiful is to make a subjective argument that can be very easily disproved by anyone. It's also relative to the society and time one lives in, don't you think?

    Besides, what do you think it makes a woman serve as? ... Other than a naturally seductive being who's gonna make any man go crazy upon allowing him to see her face, I mean. Ka sanga?

    Nonetheless, let's first decide whether the Niqab is mandatory or not. Once that has been cleared up, we'll continue from there.

    I look forward to this discussion!

    P.S. Nice name, lol.

  5. Salam, Very intresting indeed.

  6. Thanks for stopping by and reading us, Arip! Loye sarray she!

  7. Thank you, Qrratugai. :)

    I appreciate the high levels of entropy in the Muslim World regarding the word 'interpretation', so I wont dare to touch it, here atleast.

    Contested views have got huge books written on them! Simple conclusions from a thorough read on this topic would be:

    - There is no hadith discouraging or forbidding the face veil.
    - There are plenty of ahadith, even quranic ayahs (if you agree), which report/order the covering of the face.
    - Wives of the sahabah used to cover their faces.
    - The Wives of the Prophet RAA (Mothers of the believers) used to cover their faces.

    I dont know where else to look at and draw any proofs from?!

    If you don't mind interpretations, then there are two main schools on this:
    - Niqab is mandatory for a muslim woman anywhere in the presence of non-mahrams.
    - Niqab (covering the face) is recommended but is not mandatory, EXCEPT at times of fitnah. Then there is a whole consensus that this age indeed is an age of great fitnah, making it mandatory.

    This is why you see a vast majority of people beleiveing (if not practising) in the Niqab as an obligation. Some dont agree with the fitnah clause and move on and reveal their faces. I belong to the former lot!

    I agree with you on the subjectivity of the word beauty - but that doest make it non-existent. And I repeat its 'one of the' treasures God gave women. There are others, many of them similar to men that have been bestowed. This means they are by no means none other than 'seductive beings' only.

    Tu su wai!? :)

  8. Pa khair again, Khaorey!
    (You sound very familiar. Am I wrong?)

    Again, we'll try to touch one point at a time. So for now, it'll be about this comment of yours:
    QUOTING: "There are plenty of ahadith, even quranic ayahs (if you agree), which report/order the covering of the face."

    I want those Quranic verses where *God* tells us to cover our faces. The hadith, we're aware of them, as conflicting as they often tend to be. (One says women need to cover only their hair and bodies, not face; others say they should cover their faces, too.)

    We'll then talk about the Prophet's wives and whether that meant every other woman, too, should wear the veil and so on.

    Note that I didn't say hadiths forbid the veil, by the way, so just because hadiths don't forbid it doesn't mean we can't discourage it -- remember what time and society we live in today. Trying to compare that to one of centuries ago and of a certain type of society may be unfair, really.

  9. Bro, since you didn't come back, I'll just go ahead and say that the Quran does NOT command for women to wear even the headscarf (which has come to be termed hijab), let alone the face-covering (niqab). If you disagree, give me some Quranic verses -- and I know which ones you'll provide, but I have perfect refutations for each of those, since the actual Arabic text of the Quran doesn't make such a commandment: only the translations and then interpretations do. And each translator seems to suggest different rulings on the dress code of Muslim women. One of the ones I have puts in parentheses that women are OBLIGATED to cover their face, and the others don't say that. But then again, this one's from King Fahd University, so ... that should say a lot.

    And I continue believing: There's no such thing as "choice" to wear hijab or niqab; it's all mandated by someone or something upon the woman. Further, why does the woman cover her hair? Answer: because she might seduce a male with the beauty of her hair. Question: Why does the woman cover her face? Answer: because she might seduce someone with the beauty of her face. Question: what's beauty? Answer: Every single woman. Question: What about the beauty of men? Answer: Stop it, you shameless girl! Are you saying men are handsome and should therefore cover?

    Comment: The woman should cover her body because it's precious; see, you don't make the most precious items available to everyone, do you? Where do you find pearls in the ocean? -- deep down inside, right? Exactly! Women, too, are too precious to be shown to the world.

    Response to that comment: Umm... but why see the woman as a pearl? Why not see men, too, as pearls? And why does everyone have to agree with the understanding of "preciousness" of women? That's yours, and that makes sense to you, great -- it doesn't make sense to me. This is NOT to say, however, that I think all women should display their bodies everywhere and be clotheless or anything. No, not at all. But if that's the type of life they prefer, who's anyone to tell them they're disrespecting themselves?

    That brings me to say that I don't agree with the idea that women who cover up respect their bodies while those who don't cover up don't. The ONLY time this claim is true, in my opinion, is when the woman shows her body to people *in order to* attract men. But that's not the case with all women, and Muslims need to stop assuming that all women who walk around half naked are disrespecting their bodies or don't see their worth. Mind you, some of those same women (who barely cover) think that Muslim women who cover themselves so much are disrespecting their bodies. Think about it.

  10. Salamuna Qrratugai! My apologies for being late. dera skha hafta wa, and I was terribly busy.

    Wooow, thats a huge difference between the thoughts of two pa-watan-mrhai educated pukhtoons!

    Two major major things you touched upon over here.

    1) You seem to be totally discarding the importance of translation and interpretation of the Holy Quran. I really hope the books of Ahadith are also not going down the bin. Are they?

    2) You clearly deny a UNIVERSAL FACT that Allah has placed a great fitnah of women, inside men. In everyday language - men have *serious inclinations* towards women - which is not present the other way around. Why did ALLAH do this? I dont think I need to explain it here (do I?). But, "A woman's test in life is money, a man's test in life is a woman"!

    The first point is of prime importance to me as that might hurt a person's whole deen and might lead to extreme trouble. I wont really spend time on the second one as yaw na yawa wraz ba khpala omanai! :) Books as distant as Marketing and Advertisement, and people, as far as the likes of Dave Chappelle and Ali G, bear witness to this!!

    And by the way, I could'nt find the 'woman as a pearl' comment in any of my posts. Finally, we must have no concerns as to how other people chart out the rules of how to respect bodies, when we have the Quran in our hands, sahi wem??

    Coming to the main topic...

    Let me quickly, describe how our deen basically works (I hope you agree with me on this). The Quran and Hadith are the primary sources of all religious directions in Islam. The whole point of sending a Messenger with the Book is so that he can explain and elaborate on the word of Allah. Our aqeedah (creed) is dictated by these two sources, and so are all ibadaat (rituals of worship). Different scholars of eminence (usually called Imaams - please dont compare 'em with da jumaat mulyaan) scanned through all of these texts and gave structured opinions on things that seemingly had multiple options on how to do them, e.g. different aspects of salah. Thats how we have 4 main Imams (of fiqh/jurisprudence) in Sunni Islam - with each advising his students to abandon their opinion whenever they came across a Hadith contradicting it. This re-affrims the primary importance of Quran and Hadith.

    We have numerous nice examples of ahadith elaborating on whatever command used to be revealed onto the Prophet SAW at that time. For instance, when Salah was made compulsory by Ayahs from Allah - the Prophet went on and explained it to the Sahaba (these explanations now partly make ahadith). When fasting was made an obligation by Ayahas sent down, the Sahaba asked follow-up questions and the prophet explained. And so on with Zakat and Haj, etc.

    When Alcohol was made forbidden, we have Ahadith explaining that ruling and also narrations of Sahaba, telling us how wine was flowing in the streets (sewers) of Madina.

    Similarly when Ayahs were revealed by Allah for the Women (wives) of the Prophet(RA) *AND* the women of the believers, to cover, we have ahadith explaining on how, when, where they covered (mere translations never help sistah!). One good example is:

    Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba (Radhiallaahu Ánha) "Aisha (Radhiallaahu Ánha) used to say: "When (the Verse): "They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms," was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces. (Al-Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith # 282)

  11. (didn't know this thing had limits)

    There are a truck-load of ahadith which explain how the Wives of the Prophet (SAW) and Wives of the Sahabah used to cover, and how they lived and worshipped God - not merely at homes, universities and work places like us, but they (Muslim *WOMEN*) even went and fought battles - with their veils ON!!!

    "Narrated Thabit ibn Qays (Radhiallaahu Ánhu): A woman called Umm Khallad came to the Prophet (SAW) while she was veiled. She was searching for her son who had been killed (in the battle) Some of the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) said to her: You have come here asking for your son while veiling your face? She said: If I am afflicted with the loss of my son, I shall not suffer the loss of my modesty. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: You will get the reward of two martyrs for your son...." (Abu Dawood Book 14, Hadith # 2482)
    (lets not jump into non-muslim-non-pukhtoon alternative definitions of modesty, shall we!?)

    Now if a so-called scholar hides these ahadith from us, or a pukhtoon mullah (I would call him a professional prayer-leader only, he aint got any 'ilm) fails to present this in a good manner, is that enough a reason to ignore the whole chapter and disobey Allah?!?! Is it not worth a bit more effort from our side?

    If a translator or an interpreter goes on and tells us something which goes against this - are we sane if we follow him, when the guidance of the Prophet is there?? How can we quote translations and interpretations of these people to refute the actual text sent down by Allah?? Trust me khori, its very very very easy to google and find a self-proclaimed scholar with views against the mainstreem Deen.

    Then there are many different opinions on almost each detail of the Salah (munz) making it way more complex than the Niqab/hijab issue. Are we supposed to abandon it altogether??

    Su mu khyaal di?!

    "...Had Allah willed He could have made you (all) one community. But (He did not, so) that He may try you by that which He hath given you (ayahs of the Quran). So compete one with another in good works. Unto Allah ye will all return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ" 5-43

  12. E.,
    you're using adages to support your belief that women should cover up *because* they have the tendency to seduce men. (Quoting you: 'But, "A woman's test in life is money, a man's test in life is a woman"!' Who said this? God? Where?)
    As I'd said earlier, that objectifies the woman to make her nothing more than a seductive being.

    The QURAN never actually claims anything like that. If it does, please give me some verses. You wrote: "You clearly deny a UNIVERSAL FACT that Allah has placed a great fitnah of women, inside men."
    Please find me some verses that support this claim of yours. In your future posts, please provide these verses along with your claims so I can know how to respond properly to each one :)

    The books of hadith haven't gone down the bin, no, but one needs to study the history and science of hadith before accepting every hadith -- even if it's won the label of "authentic" by a majority of hadith scholars -- as logical, sensible, Islamic, etc.

    If you see other posts of mine elsewhere, you'll see I'm big on translations as well. I question translations big time. And why not to? Are ALL translations the same? Are the translations of men and women the same? Why are there differences?

    Quoting you: "And by the way, I could'nt find the 'woman as a pearl' comment in any of my posts."
    No, you didn't say it. (And what I'd say in my "Question ... answer ... comment ... response" part of my post wasn't necessarily about comments YOU'd made; I was referring to the typical comments of typical Muslims when they try to argue why women need to cover up from head to toe. They're like the most commonly heard and written claims.)

    lol :p I know how Islam works, mara.
    Still, Quoting: "The Quran and Hadith are the primary sources of all religious directions in Islam." Yes, but let's not forget the Quran is the MAIN source. Hadith are questionable -- all of them, no matter how authentic. Don't forget that "Sunnah" literally means "way" and whose way? The way of the Prophet as we understand it FROM the hadith. Unfortunately, most of us fail to recognize the fact that he lived at a different time and place than we do today, and not everything he said should be applicable to our time. Remember: someone may have heard him saying something that the Prophet (pbuh) meant to say only to ONE person for a SPECIFIC situation, but nooo, the hearer decided it meant it was for everyone. We see this happening with thousands of ahadith of Abu Hurairah -- the guy who spent only 3 years with the Prophet and narrated THOUSANDS of more hadiths than Aisha has done :S How did this happen?

    Quoting you: "Thats how we have 4 main Imams (of fiqh/jurisprudence) in Sunni Islam - with each advising his students to abandon their opinion whenever they came across a Hadith contradicting it."

    Yes, the belief is that any hadith that contradicts the Quran should be rejected and is NOT authentic. What about when it adds on to the Quran? Example: Punishment for apostasy according to hadith is death; it's never declared into the Quran. Punishment for adultery is stoning to death; it's never in the Quran, which calls both adultery and fornication "Zina."

    So ... you didn't give me ANY Quranic verse that supports the claim that women need to cover from head to toe :) I'm waiting for that.

    Manana for your comments!

  13. Qrratugai: The onus is on you, as a woman, to provide proof that covering the bodies and bosoms, as clearly mentioned in the Quran, precludes the covering of the face with niqab/khimar/jilbaab.

    Before continuing any discussion with you, I have to first establish if you think that your opinion is better than the opinion of the scholars of the first three generations after the Prophet (saw)? If you think so then there is no point of continuing discussion with you. Why? According to my worldviews and interpretation of Quran, a Muslim claiming to be more knowledgeable of deen than the Prophet or the Salaf is automatically outside the fold of Islam and it would be futile and in vain for me to continue debating with that person.

  14. Hi there, Coco Jumbo!
    Thank you for stopping by with your views. I very much appreciate it!

    No, I've never, ever claimed to be more knowledgeable than any scholar on earth, whether those are the type of scholars like Imam Hanifa or those of Zakir Naik or those of Amina Wadud. I've only recently entered the Islamic Studies field, and it'll take me even more than a few centuries to become a scholar.

    However, as an individual, I HAVE the right to express disagreement with scholars. It doesn't make me any better than them, by no means, no, but it only means that what they've concluded is still open to question. As Muslims, we NEED to stop believing that the Islam as understood by our classical scholars is THE (perfect or correct) Islam or that it should be applicable to all times and all people of all societies. Islam is open to interpretation -- in every single aspect. In an upcoming blog post, I will be giving some examples of Quranic ideals that are till today open to interpretations; I'll be presenting some of the most important questions asked about those verses, so hopefully, my thoughts about the whole deal with interpretations of Islam/Quran/hadith will be clarified a little bit.

    Also, how do we define a scholar? Does that definition, whatever it is, allow for a woman to be a scholar as well? Will someone like Laleh Bakhtiar (who's like the first woman to translate the Quran) or Amina Wadud (who's a professor of Islamic Studies, has written a book called "Quran and Woman: Re-reading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective," AND has been one of the first Muslim women to lead both men and women in prayer) or Omid Safi (who is a professor of Islamic Studies and has edited a book called "Progressive Muslims") or Asma Barlas (who has written a book called "Believing Women in Islam: Un-reading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Quran")?

    When someone disagrees with people like these, what would we think of them? From my experiences and observations, the average and typical Muslim goes: "OMG! These are just feminists! Shame on them! They're not SCHOLARS!" But you must ask: "Why? Just because their views are such that they contradict the views of most of the male scholars of classical Islam? Or their beliefs contradict your cultural/traditional beliefs? Even though they have studied Islam for decades and continue studying it?"

    So, really, the ultimate question is: WHAT is a scholar? WHO can we agree with, and WHO can we disagree with? Are the views of former and even many contemporary scholars the views of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? If what they've stated is IT, then why do you and I need to study Islam? Why don't we just go ahead and study these people only and their beliefs?

    And, no, the onus isn't on me to prove why the Quran doesn't mandate burqa/niqab on women; it's on anyone who believes it IS mandatory. All I'm kindly requesting is a list of some verses in the Quran that command for women to cover their faces/hair/etc. -- preferrably also the QURAN's definition of modesty and beauty. It tells women to cover their "zeenah," but what's "zeenah"? According to most scholars, it's "clothes, jewlery and other accessories (and make-up), face, and hair." Should I agree with this? What happens if I don't?

    So, again, as I said to the person before you, ALL I want is some Quranic verses that tell women to cover their bodies from head to toe, to cover their face and/or hair, and so on. I'll be happy to respond accordingly.

    Thanks again for visiting! I look forward to learning from you, ka khairee! (That's like saying "InshaAllah but in Pashto.)

  15. You did bring up many points and its nice to see that you have started studying Islamic studies. But may I ask what sort of Islamic studies are you pursuing? Are you studying history of Islam from an Orietnalist perspective, as done by Muirs, Watts and many others in the last 250 years?

    I am a cultural iconoclast. Cultural practices, be they of Punjabi origin or Pathan origin, do not mean much to me. Most of Pakistani Muslims are cultural Muslims. If a Pakistani marries a Caucasian Muslimah, he will be shunned. On the contrary, it seems you are the one who is talking from within a cultural sphere or cultural-rebellious sphere, and not me. I am just looking at things from an Islamic lens which is not in vacuum but influenced by the culture of Prophet Muhammad pbuh and I am willing to take his Arabic cultural practices, if there were any, as Islamic.

    Yes. You have the right to voice an opinion. But that does not mean your opinion is the correct one. Voicing an opinion against those of scholars from the first three generations, in matters of deen, will be an automatic expulsion from Islam. So you can have your opinion, but make sure not to criticize those who the Prophet (pbuh) left behind for religion.

    The onus is on you to prove the exlusion of face from the veil. My proof regarding the compuslory nature of Jilbaab is:

    "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils)* all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    *the arabic word here is Jalabeeb (plural of Jalbaab), which is the loose outer garment that covers all a woman's body. It says here to use the Jalabeeb to cover all, and scholars say this means to use it to cover her head (agree upon by all scholars) and her face (agreed by many scholars, not all) and one or both eyes, in order for it to be known that she is a free woman and so not to be exposed to any harm."

    I am running out of time. Will get back to you in detail if you bring forth something more concrete to argue about.

  16. I made some spelling mistakes, rest assured, they do not represent my poor writing skills. I typed things in a hurry and hope that they will not weaken my argument.

  17. LOL. Don't worry about mistakes. I can tell you have excellent writing skills, with or without the mistakes, and I'm not one to think of low someone for mistakes they make in writing, man.

    I don't judge the strength of arguments by a lack of spellings in the words used in it ... :p

    Now, quoting you:
    "But may I ask what sort of Islamic studies are you pursuing? Are you studying history of Islam from an Orietnalist perspective, as done by Muirs, Watts and many others in the last 250 years?"

    You know what I love about my professors? They are not allowed to share their OWN personal opinions, and they NEVER do it until and unless they've told us what many others say. We read books that contradict each other. Get this: I had to write a paper last semester JUSTIFYING the thinking, behavior, and interpretation (of Islam) of the Taliban! Do I personally agree with that interpretation? Not at all. But am I obligated to learn it? Yes.

    My professors don't belong to any particular branch or field of Islam; they never share that with us in class (but they may if you ask them in personal conversations). I can name some of them, and they're among the most important icons in Islamic Studies, but I prefer not to. -- not yet anyway.

    To give you an idea, lemme list some of the classes I've taken or am taking this semester:
    ~ The Quran (last semester)
    ~ Women, Gender, and Religion in South Asia (last semester)
    ~ Islam in South Asia (this semester)
    ~ Hadith: Islam's Second Scripture (this semester)
    ~ Shiite Islam (this semester)
    ~ Modern Islam (this semester; it's a continuation of a last semester's course called "Early and Medieval Islam" and tries to highlight the various Islamic movements that have paved way for what's going on TODAY in the Muslim world)

    SO, to answer your question, I'm not studying ONE Islam; I'm studying the interpretations of Islam from more than one angel, how Muslim thought has evolved from the time of the Prophet (pbuh) to today, why it evolved, what happened during it, what's happening now, whose interpretation is in the lead now, whose interpretation was in the lead in the 12th or 18th century (random time period), and so on. After all, isn't this how one's supposed to study? How things are from many different angles and not just from one?

  18. Actually, God tells women to cover their bosoms, nothing more than that. (You're assuming/claiming that all scholars have agreed that "jalb" = something that covers the entire body, but you're utterly ignoring those who do not agree with that definition). The Quran specifically tells the Prophet's wives to cover their faces

    Check this out:

    "And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, headcover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful" (Quran, 24:31).

    Note how the translator in here defines EVERYTHING in such strict terms. Whose arguments are these? How many scholars agree with this? This particular one says that women MUST cover their faces, and he derives it from the Quranic text. But mind you, most scholars don't believe that it's obligatory for women to cover their face.

    Here's another translation of the verse you gave:

    "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful" (Quran, 33:59).

    There are hadith that tell women to cover their bodies so much that only ONE EYE is showing :S

    Verse 24:30-31 tells women to cover everything "except that which is apparent." The question remains: What's "apparent"? Can we say the head is apparent? Can we say the face is appparent? Can we say hands are apparent? Can we say clothes are apparent?

    Sorry, but I can't look at just ONE view and accept it as the perfectly correct one. There are many others to look at as well, and nothing makes them any less significant or "correct" than the ones that a majority of Muslims agree with or like or support.

    Also note that verse 33:59 says "when you're going abroad" ... what's "abroad"? And who decides on this definition? What happens when not all of them agree? And what happens if those who agree are all men or all men/women who were raised in a society where they saw women covered from head to toe, including face, all the time (like where I was raised)?

    The same verse says "so that they are not known as such." This, too, needs to be taken into consideration.

  19. So, just because it may *be interpreted* to mean heads too doesn't mean it is necessarily the case. As you said, we're allowed to have our opinions but it doesn't mean our opinions are the CORRECT ones. That's very true -- and I've never, ever claimed that mine are the correct ones. In fact, I don't believe ANY are correct but they all have their justifications.

    Note how the translation of the text you gave me (jalb) comes to mean "cloak," or "veil" ... why is this? And whose interpretation is this? You said "agreed upon by all scholars," but as I mentioned in my previous post, WHAT defines a scholar? WHICH scholars are you referring to? Do they include women, too? Where were they raised and educated? Which time did they live in? What evidence or justifications did they use?

    These are the sorts of questions I'm interested in.

    Oh, and you said, "So you can have your opinion, but make sure not to criticize those who the Prophet (pbuh) left behind for religion. "

    Why can't we criticize them? Wait, is this really criticism? And, then, IF it is, why is it wrong? Why's disagreement not allowed according to so many Muslims today? What makes us think that even Muslim scholars of the past ALWAYS agreed with each other on EVERYTHING? (Because, shock, shock,, they didn't!) How do we know whom the Prophet (pbuh) left behind for religion, or to teach/interpret his religion?

    I'm still waiting for answers to the questions I asked in my previous post, regarding what defines scholarship and who can be a scholar and how many women scholars there are and whether someone we personally disagree with can still be accepted as a scholar (as in case of Amina Wadud, with whom most Muslims do NOT agree)... and so on.

    Thanks :)

  20. Sorry for the so many long comments at once :) But this is exactly what I was hoping we'd get into. Remember: You do NOT have to agree. But I do expect that we look into MORE than one view and stop seeing "scholars" as "scholars" just because they claim to be scholars or are men or have beards or say the strictest things about women and so on. We need to re-evaluate our entire idea of scholarship and try to incorporate some women into it as well. Really, HOW many women scholars are there? (No, I'm not talking about Aisha (r.) and the women after her between her time and the 12th or so centuries. I'm talking about in recent times, including today.)

    Anyways, I'm enjoying this discussion, and I hope you are as well. If we agreed on these things, we wouldn't learn anything from each other, so I hope you appreciate it as much as I do.

  21. Hey,

    Well that indeed is a litany of comments but lets see how many comments I can address tonight.

    Well, from what you've mentioned regarding your program, I do see that you are in some sort of Islamic Studies or History of Islamic studies program. What I cannot gauge is what university or which scholars are imparting that education. Well, to be on even grounds, I had the fortunate opportunity to do a minor in History of Religions and I not only studied Islamic history but also Hinduism, Christianity and some Buddhism within my 4 year degree. Also got to work on Ismaili Islam.

    Well, when you say that you are not studying "one" Islam, rather many, I, of course, agree. There are many Islams. Just like how there are many versions of Christianity. Lets ignore Christianity as we cannot relate to it (Jesus was a blue eyes and blonde haired Jew :p) as desis, the neighboring country (India) has a whole gazillion traditions known as Hindu traditions (Hinduism is not one religion). It certainly is interesting to study all types of Islams but that approach is restrictive because it studies historical phenomenon, not supernatural phenomenon. If you weill talk to me from a historian perspective regarding Islam, I will assume that you are coming from an atheist/agnostic perspective. Why? A true historian can never accept supernatural phenomenon and must always give a naturalistic explanation for every historical event. That means Quran is authored by Muhammad, not God. An unbiased historian will always hold that Quran is a human endeavor and will write thing as: Quran is "believed by" Muslims to be a Divine book. Just like how a Muslim will say regarding some Hindu traditions that "Bhagvad gita is "believed to" consist of Lord Kirshna's words to Arjuna." So, I am not clear which perspective are you talking from? From a perspective of a Muslim believer or a secular student of history? You will have to first clarify that to me. And indeed, my professors of Islamic studies were rarely Muslims. They were white folks, probably atheists, or maybe Christians. Yet they are considered "scholars of Islam." Indeed they are. But only "historians of Islam," and not "traditional scholars." Just like how I can be a scholar of Hindu history but never be a pundit unless I become a Hindu. So clarify your stance for us before we continue.

  22. And if you are adopting the perspective of that of a secular historian , you can analyze the verses regarding veil in as many ways as you want but your analysis would never be credible in the sense that they would not be comparable to fatwa-deductions of traditional Islamic scholars (shyookh). Actually, there have been scholarly attempts to understand Quran in the Syro-Aramaic language. And as an example, if done in that way, the word "hoor" comes to mean not a dasmel but rather it is supposed by these "scholars" to mean "white grapes." LOL. These "scholars" can get ludicrous sometimes. I think about 150 years back, it was deduced by some of these "scholars" that since the name "Muhammad" was never mentioned in Meccan Surahs in Quran, Muhammad (pbuh) adopted this name in Medina. So are you talking about these kind of scholars?

    When I talk about Islamic scholars, I am talking about people like Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al Qayyim, Ibn Hanbal and not, and certainly NOT, Karen Armstrong or Gerd R Puin. Actually, mr Puin has this radical theory that Quran has not been preserved. His opinion even goes against the opinion of majority of Orientalist historians. Now, if I take your approach, I am bound to NOT call Puin a lunatic but rather I should appreciate his views even though I disagree with them. Well, the more such tolerance to opposing views remain to the Ivory Towers, the better it would be for Muslims.

    You also say that there probably is no correct Islam. That statement might sound romantic in a conference on Islamic studies where all the attendees are Orientalists, but such statements have no role in the moral behaviour of practicing Muslims.

  23. You said "Why can't we criticize them? Wait, is this really criticism? And, then, IF it is, why is it wrong? Why's disagreement not allowed according to so many Muslims today? What makes us think that even Muslim scholars of the past ALWAYS agreed with each other on EVERYTHING? (Because, shock, shock,, they didn't!) How do we know whom the Prophet (pbuh) left behind for religion, or to teach/interpret his religion?"

    Well, you cannot criticize the companions of Prophet. Secondly, they had disagreement in regards to minor matters on Islam. They had consensus on all the important matters such as aqeedah (creed), pillars etc. Thirdly, the later day scholars of Islam also have disagreements but only in matters of jurisprudence and some of that opinion was mistaken. Abu Hanifa made a mistake when he said that if a person is killed by drowning, it would not be called a murder. Later day "hanafis" have corrected this position because it indeed is a murder. Now if you are saying that Abu Hanifa is right, even though you disagree with it, you are contradicting yourself. So you disagree with the right thing? Or you agree with the wrong thing? Which one is it?

    And hey, what do you mean by "shock, shock?" Indeed, people got off track and that is why we always had revivalist movements throughout Islamic history. Regarding whom the Prophet left behind? Well those who stick to what he said. So for example, if looked at from unbiased perspective, Tahir ul-Qadri is not following Prophet while, lets pick Ibn Taymiyya, who did follow the Prophet. How can we judge that? Compare the writings of both scholars and study their world-views and then compare them to Muhammad's.

  24. And regarding which Islam is correct. All Islams are wrong because they are a product of time (after Muhammad's death) and local cultures. They are not the Islam of Prophet. In other words, the Islam of Muhammad is correct and everything else is nullified. And I see that revivalist movements share this desire and goal to go back to Islam of Muhammad (saw) and not human product. So, yes, in a religious studies conference, I might share what your views are but when i am dar ul-Islam, I stand against all that which I have learned and been indoctrinated with by the Orientalists. :)

    I think that is from me for tonight.

  25. and ooh, I forgot to talk about the point in which you said that all Islams have justification for what they preach. Well, if you really believe that then I am sorry to say that you get influenced easily by people's arguments, and have much critical reasoning to develop, in order to study what is being said. I am now wondering if would be easily convinced by the seemingly perfect arguments spread by the "conspiracy theorists" on internet regarding the landing of first man on moon (Armstrong) which is believed by them to be faked by the US govt somewhere on Earth. :P

    I mean, there is justification for everything. There are denialists, including credible scientists, who believe that HIV-1 is not the causative agent of AIDS. :D If you started believing that everything has justification, it wont take you much farther. So my suggestion would be to critically read the justifications brought by the proponents of all types of Islams and then we will see what your conclusions would be.

  26. I mean, there is supposed justification for everything.*** By the way, HIV-1 IS the cause of AIDS, not what seemingly true justifications might lead us to believe. :)

  27. Well, you didn't answer any of my questions -- except that "All Islams are wrong" (something I disagree with because ISLAM is a concept, a theory, an ideal; and it NEEDS to be interpreted and then implemented in order to become practice). But you mean to tell me that the Islam practiced in the 7th century was the perfect one? Pray tell -- what Islam is that? Most definitely ONLY the one practiced WHILE the Prophet was alive, right? ('cause remember the hell that rose upon his death?) then why is it claimed that Islam is a universal and eternal religion? What do you think this claim means? And how do you think it can be argued?

    So, you said I can't criticize the "companions of the Prophet" and you failed to tell me why.

    Why? I understand I'm using the standards of TODAY to judge what they did or said in THEIR time, in which case, I'm not saying they're *wrong* necessarily; I'm only saying much of what they did/said doesn't apply to today. But even if I WERE criticizing them, why can't we?

    Who decides who we can criticize and who we can't criticize?

    I believe in critical thinking; I believe in critically analyzing and studying every aspect of religion as well as every interpretation of it.

  28. lol @ agree with the wrong thing, disagree with the right thing :p

    Look whose views you're using to decide what's "right" and "wrong".

  29. Ohh, and as for your observation that "you get influenced easily by people's arguments, and have much critical reasoning to develop, in order to study what is being said."

    Actually ... I don't get easily influenced by ANYTHING ;) That should be obvious with my resistance to accept that the ulemas are perfectly right and that the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) should not be criticized, etc., lol.

    I STUDY each view; I don't necessarily accept it. There's a big difference -- look into it some time.

    You see, the Sunnis need to know what Shiites REALLY believe and why, just as the Shiites need to know what the Sunnis really believe and why. Perhaps we'll learn to get along well and in peace with each other then, no?
    That doesn't mean, of course, that they accept each others view as the correct ones; but BOTH need to study the sect of the other FROM the perspective of those who belong to that sect.

    As I said, we need to understand the Taliban interpretation of Islam (which is basically the most literalistic interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah as it can get) so that we know how to respond to the Taliban's actions and practices. It doesn't mean we start AGREEING with them necessarily; only that we recognize that their interpretation is JUST as legitimate as ours, which may be a less violent and less traditional/literalistic one, is. If not, then who decides which interpretation of Islam is right and which one is wrong? Don't tell me the Prophet or his companions 'cause they DIDN'T decide.

    I'll be posting a blog post on why we need to recognize AND accept and respect the differences between Sunnis and Shiites and why it's silly to claim we're JUST Muslims when we obviously belong to a particular BRANCH of Islam. We can discuss then there, ka khairee.

  30. QUOTE: "So, I am not clear which perspective are you talking from? From a perspective of a Muslim believer or a secular student of history?"

    That depends on what we're discussing and which perspective we're holding the discussion from. Of course I'm a Muslim believer. BUT I believe this: "The Quran *is believed by Muslims* to have been sent from God to Muhammad; hence, the author of the Quran, we Muslims believe, is not Muhammad but God."

    Is there anything wrong with that?

  31. Qrratugai: You cannot criticize the companions of Prophet because from a perspective of our ranks and understanding of Islam, you, and I, are inferior to them. This, I agree, is not a very modern scholarly perspective, but I am talking on your blog as a Muslim believer, and not a Islamic historian. We are inferior because we have not been able to learn Islam directly from the Prophet.

    Regarding your assertion that "ISLAM is a concept, a theory, an ideal; and it NEEDS to be interpreted and then implemented in order to become practice). But you mean to tell me that the Islam practiced in the 7th century was the perfect one? Pray tell -- what Islam is that? Most definitely ONLY the one practiced WHILE the Prophet was alive, right? ('cause remember the hell that rose upon his death?) then why is it claimed that Islam is a universal and eternal religion? What do you think this claim means? And how do you think it can be argued ...," you have already assumed that an ideal need to be re-interpreted in each time and era. If this assumption were correct, it mean we would need to interpret Islam every nano-second as time continues to move on in graduate segments and each femto or nanoseconds results in new situations, cultures, and social milieus. So your assumption is not entirely practical or true for that matter. Secondly, you are also assuming since Islam is eternal religion then it can be "molded" in each generation. This is a wrong assumption because you have neglected the other possibility of something being eternal. Something can only be eternal if it DOES NOT change at all over centuries from its true teachings. Each other religion's "holy books" have been mended and sutured by men over times save Quran. That is precisely what is meant by the statement that Islam is eternal, and not because Islam can be molded for every passing time and era. You can read Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" to see how there are more differences in different manuscripts of Bible than the total words in it. That is it for now.

    Regarding your previous comment, most scholars on the creed of Muhammad and his direct companions are of opinion that niqab is obligatory. The niqab-deniers actually follow the later shyookh while ignoring the opinion of those present around Muhammad.

  32. Regarding Shiites, yes, they have the right to practice their creed. *no matter how stupid it is*

    Well, most educated Sunnis do understand Shiites. Shiites must be put in jail for abusing their young children on 10 Muharram by making them bleed and putting their health at an extreme risk!

    From a historical perspective, Shiism as a movement is a response to historical factors, and is not necessarily any more related to Islam than, lets say, Nation of Islam is. You got lots of reading to do on the development of Shii sect. Once you read about the historicity of how different sects or cults arise, you will either realize that all religions are a hoax and all Prophets tricksters (including Muhammad pbuh) or you will realize that you need to find the true "Islam" of Muhammad pbuh. Good luck with your journey and lets see what God has written in our decree.

  33. WOW @ "no matter how stupid it is"...

    That reveals a bit too much more (about you) than I'd originally hoped to know, lol.

  34. Qrratugai: Well, you had misplaced hopes then.

    I am certainly not a perennialist and I have the freedom to hold such opinions, just like how you think you have the freedom to hold the views that niqab is not obligatory and that it reflects the misogynistic views of scholars of the past. Any reason why you would consider your views above that rule? And certainly, Shiite parents who coerce their small children into bleeding must be jailed and their children snatched away and given to child protection agencies. :)

  35. and by the way, as an immersive student of health sciences, I am actually BOUND to call such practices of beating one's children so that they bleed barbaric! But to be a culturally competent scholar, I used less critical words while I ought to be more severe because of the gravity of the matter.

    Here is something which you would not ban, eh? But I am sure you would be quick to ban Sati practice if you were in India? Just because it targets women only? Am I correct in seeing gender bias here?

  36. I'm assuming you're a male ... if so, all of your views make sense then.

    Nonetheless, to respond to your comment ...

    No, no gender bias at all. This is one things that really makes me laugh about anti-women people. The moment you start supporting women, you're called bias, lol. (I've some female friends who refuse to read books written by Muslim women scholars because, according to them, "these women are biased," yet NEVER does it cross their mind that the men scholars/author are no less "biased," if you will.

    In fact, here take a look at this, please:

    As for ashura or Shiites, in YOUR opinion, they're stupid, just as in MY opinion, misogynists are stupid. I don't believe in violence, whether it is against humans (INCLUDING men and children, not just women) or non-humans, so please keep your pre-conceived notions about feminists, about whom you've proven to be lacking in understanding and knowledge.

    QUOTING you: "Any reason why you would consider your views above that rule?"

    No, not at all. When have I implied that my views or opinions or beliefs are better than yours? I've never used the word "stupid" to anyone's beliefs or opinions (but I did just a second ago in response to a comment of yours); that's the difference between your comment and mine -- I don't believe anyone's views are stupid while you believe they're stupid if they don't agree with yours.

    And, yes, I stand MORE strongly about violence against women because, whether you wanna admit it or not, women are the worst treated human on earth, be they in India or a majority-Muslim country like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Iraq. But I'm active in violence against children as well, both male and female; I'm also supportive of refugees, war victims, and (oppressed) minorities who are shunned by their society because, though claiming the same religion, they disagree with the norms/practices of their culture/religion or are not followers of the religion or sect of the majority.

    This makes many people think I'm "liberal," whatever the label means, and therefore ANYTHING I say "makes sense, 'cause you're a liberal and a feminist, anyway." Being myself, however, I smile when I hear or read this about me, take it as a compliment AND as a blessing of God, and allow myself to immerse in the amusement of it.

    (As for men... fortunately, violence against men isn't a norm in any society, or at least as far as I know; so that's one less thing to worry about)

  37. Well, for you to call my views stupid is then hypocrisy on your part, because you should not call ANY sort of views stupid. But you just called mine stupid. So yea. Sort the inner contradictions out first.

    Violence done against children on Ashura is stupid. Nay, savagely barbaric. Idiotic. Such culprits belong to the jail if they do not stop. :)

    Whether I am a female, or a male, it should not matter. Rationality and skepticism are genderless.

    Well, if you are against violence on animals, your Prophet violated animal rights by sacrificing them on Eid-ul-Adha. Are you against that? Or you are selectively against animal violence (non-human violence as you said).

  38. And I did not call the Shiites stupid because they did not agree with my views. Rather it would be more appropriate to say that I do not share their views, because they are stupid views. :)

    So, it indeed was a miscalculation on your part.

  39. This is amazing stuff. Khu topic mu pakhwa prekhodi!!

    The heaviest and 'most critical-est' sentence in the whole post and all the subsequent comments:

    "Islam is open to every single aspect"!!!

    Qrratugai, I feel like, in a couple years time, you will develop an even more critical mind which will start asking people to prove whether even the Quran is indeed the same Quran, or if there was a Quran in the first place!

    with the same spirit of Questioning the sahabah and Ahadith of the Prophet, why arent you questioning Ayahs?? What proof do you have that they are preserved? Is it another ayah, yet again, that says that they are protected?? Wasn't the Quran compiled by men? Wasn't Muhammad SAW a man, possibly prone to bad memory?? ... ... ..along with .... why did God choose all Prophets to be men? Why not women? A very biased GOD you've got there, innit?!

    All legitimate, scientific questions in a secular academic setup of the day. What if one of your lubly Profs gives you any of these? Are you going to go on and dive deeper into this infinite sea of questions?!? Who is going to draw your lines??

    For me?? I think the Merciful and Compassionate, has drawn clear lines for us by saying:

    (يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تسألوا عن أشياء إن تبد لكم تسؤكم وإن تسألوا عنها حين ينزل القرآن تبد لكم عفا الله عنها والله غفور حليم * قد سألها قوم من قبلكم ثم أصبحوا بها كافرين) المائدة/ 101-102

    I seriously hope you get the last bit especially (Btw, you dont believe in/need translations do you?) Ku pakaar e nu owaya :P with any choices you have :) I will try my best in the very limited menu of translators I've got (gap mind na ki goray!)


    " اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتى ورضيت لكم الإسلام دينا "

    سورة المائدة:3

    These are marvellous Ayahs which place a full-stop and restricts Man's inner curiosity, which otherwise would end in aimless expeditions, annihilating the limited time and energy we have been given in this Dunya.

    clarify if we are into this discussion as students of oriental studies and RA's of secular historians or are we into all this as muslims - restricted by divine revelation and the traditions of the Prophet SAW - in a quest for the straight path!

    Lets set the rules of the game. If you still hold to your nick!

  40. E., you're right that the topic has long been abandoned, and good you brought it back up.

    lol @ "(يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تسألوا عن أشياء إن تبد لكم تسؤكم وإن تسألوا عنها حين ينزل القرآن تبد لكم عفا الله عنها والله غفور حليم * قد سألها قوم من قبلكم ثم أصبحوا بها كافرين) المائدة/ 101-102"

    There are many hadith that tell us not to question either ;)
    But I can't help it. Those who had to settle on the interpretations they ultimately did HAD to question and think before they accepted them, didn't they?

    Whatever happened to the Quranic verses that demand that we reason and understand?
    Now, if YOU don't wanna question and accept these things as they're told to you, perfect. But me? Sorry, but I can't accept what's been said -- BY men ABOUT me (a woman) :)

    As far as the clarification of who is involved in this discussion is concerned, are you implying that secular historians cannot be Muslims?

    My argument has yet to be refuted by either of you: The QURAN is divine words, no doubt about it; but it's INTERPRETED by humans, as HUMANS have to decide what a certain Quranic term, concept, phrase means. And those interpretations inevitably change with time. We have to decide what the word "dharaba" means, but we can't take that term OUT of the Quran; we can't change the word "nushooz" but we have to decide what it means -- and, mind you, it can have MORE than one meaning. The problem? How do we know when to choose WHICH meaning?

  41. @ Infinite road:
    I actually said so myself that I NEVER call anyone's beliefs/views stupid but that I didn't have a problem calling your view that "the views of Shiites are stupid" stupid. I clearly said this is the only time I've done it.

    I stick to my earlier comment: NO one has to decide that others' views are stupid, even though many of us do it often.

  42. "But I can't help it"?? Is that all you have to say about the ayah?! I am amazed at how you could afford a 'lol' at DIVINE WORDS.

    Please explain what, as a muslim or a secular historian, do you get from this ayah - as you appear to believe (for no scientific reason, though) that these are DIVINE words.

    "I can't accept what's been said -- BY men ABOUT me (a woman) :)"

    This line stinks with gender bias. If its not, then what other fancy word do you have for this one?! I am beginning to feel that the only problem you have with the Ulema and the Sahaba (I am amazed at your ignorance of sahabiyaat and women narrators of ahadith) is that they were all men! I repeat ALL PROPHETS WERE MEN!! What are going to do about that?! Ask for a whole new series of lady Prophets to be sent down?? Wal iyaadhu billah.

    Please explain what you get from the ayah cited above, and what problems do you have with scholars of the opposite gender?

    No more irrelevant stories and comments. Please.

  43. Btw, your whole argument is based on a huge assumption that the Quran is a Divine word. You have the guts to believe THAT blindly, but you seem to be really scared to accept Bukhari at the least - which is regarded as the most authentic book after the book of God!

    Dont know what science, reason and logic you have behind this assumption.

  44. Did you have any argument in the first place? You have said: The QURAN is divine words, no doubt about it; but it's INTERPRETED by humans, as HUMANS have to decide what a certain Quranic term, concept, phrase means. And those interpretations inevitably change with time. We have to decide what the word "dharaba" means, but we can't take that term OUT of the Quran; we can't change the word "nushooz" but we have to decide what it means -- and, mind you, it can have MORE than one meaning. The problem? How do we know when to choose WHICH meaning?

    This is hardly an argument. Its an observable reality. And there is an answer to it. I take things as Prophet and the three generations interpreted them because the Prophet authorized them to do so. If I accept that I can be allowed to interpret Quran according what I fancy, I'd rather choose Hinduism, its much more diverse and mythologic and tantalizes my mental buds.

  45. Regarding calling others view's stupid, I have every reason to call illogical beliefs stupid and idiotic. If I do not do so then I myself fear becoming accepting of illogical and irrational things. Sorry, I cannot accept your view of "not calling anything stupid" as that would go against my burning desire to eliminate irrationality from the world.

  46. Well, it's not my fault either of you refuses to accept the *fact* that the Quran is open to interpretation and the way males interpret it is far more different than the way females do. Ever wondered why we have hardly any female interpreters? And the ones we do today aren't accepted as legitimate interpreters at all?

    If you look back at my blog post, you'll note that I said the niqab is NOT in the Quran at all. Either of you has yet to refute that argument or to explain to me why niqab IS Quranic (or even why HIJAB is Quranic). And I keep waiting to hear anything about that.

    @ E.: You're changing the topic again. The point wasn't Bukhari, though if you wanna talk about that, I'm more than willing to do so. By the way, what if I have REASONS to believe the Quran is divine? You're assuming I don't; not a very wise thing to do, I suggest.

  47. @ E. - - QUOTING: "This line stinks with gender bias."

    This totally reminds me of when typical Muslims utterly REFUSE to read anything written by a Muslim *woman* scholar of Islam/Quran/hadith because, according to them, "these women are biased," lol.

    What do you want me to say about that hadith? Remember: I'm not questioning the QURAN; I'm questioning the *interpretations* of the Quran. Again, why not to?

    Also, you yourself admit that Bukhari's hadith are second to the Quran. So why do I have to accept hadith blindly? I don't even accept the Quran blindly (by which, of course, I mean its interpretations and the way it's been enforced in Muslim societies). Besides, who wrote down hadith? Who interpreted them? Who had to decide which ones were authentic and which ones weren't (as intricate and sophisticated the science if hadith has been and was a couple of centuries after the Prophet's death)?Who passed them down? You're forgetting that what you hear someone say will NOT be the EXACT same words you'll remember and pass down to others; true or not? I don't discredit all hadith; I only accept the FACT that just because they're labeled authentic does NOT necessarily mean they ARE authentic in reality, and we NEED to be cautious of this fact particularly when we see too much bias in it (against women, against non-Muslims, against animals, against non-Arabs, etc.)

    Plus, I wonder how much al-Bukhari you've read ... :p I encourage you to read each volume; they might do you some good, ka khairee. :)

    @ Infinite road -- Quoting: "And there is an answer to it. I take things as Prophet and the three generations interpreted them because the Prophet authorized them to do so."

    Actually... did the Prophett REALLY authorized the THREE GEnERATIONS after him to interpret the Quran? You must be kidding me! What room does that give us for Ijtihad? And who said the Prophet authorized them anyway?

    If you really believe that, then there goes our main disagreement on interpretations. I don't buy those, and you do -- and we both have our reasons, though the other may not like them.

  48. Your argument that niqab is not in Quran, and hence not compulsory, is a non-argument and I cannot be asked to refute it because there is nothing to refute. Many things are not in Quran but are compulsory. For God's sake, spare me this insanity! Meh. You can however continue to believe that I failed to refute it, it wont change the facts though

  49. Moreover, the onus is on YOU to prove that the word Jilbaab excludes niqab. Happy hunting.

  50. Secondly, I thought you would be intelligent enough to not obsessively ask us to show you the word niqab in the Quran. Niqab is probably a newer Arabic word and hence not found in classical Arabic. Just like Quran uses the word Hoor to mean virgin women, and does not use the explicit word for virgin.

    Prophet told us to follow the Salaf (the three generations) as mentioned in Sahih Hadeeth. That is prove enough. If you dont believe in Sahih hadith, listen to a lecture by Dr. Jonathan Brown (a proper Muslim revert actually unlike Wadud) who is a faculty at Yale University.


  52. Ahhh -- note how "salaf" is defined :) "Three generations after him." Is it, really?

    That's one of the main roots of the problem.

    The questions and comments you're making about niqab, I've responded to them already in the last comment in which I was responding to your claim that Niqab is Quranic.
    If you insist, I can past that comment. I await answers to at least a few of the questions I asked in there.

    Thanks for the link to Hadith criticism. I'm about to watch it, but the topic brings two books to my mind that I'd like to recommend to you. One is "An Introduction to the Science of Hadith" by Shahrazuri Ibn al-Salah, and another's "Hadith Literature" by Zubair Siddiqui. Both are a must read for people interested in how hadith literature/science works, how they're transmitted, how they're compiled, who does it all, who can study and pass hadith on, when did the science of it flourish, why was the need felt for it, and thousands of other questions.

    The latter book is written by a hard-core pro-hadith guy, so I'm sure anyone who's looking for more reasons to accept all authentic hadith as authentic will find those reasons in here. The former is more cautious but still explains the necessity of hadith. We also learn that, interestingly, belief in hadith as part of Islam arose mostly during the 17th-18th centuries; before that, it was more of an "option."

    Oh, and the second one also lists the types of hadith that CANNOT be accepted as authentic. I've currently lend the book to a friend; otherwise, I'd list those criterion because, honestly speaking, those apply to over 80% of the hadith I know. So I thought that was VERY interesting.

    Khair, I'll share those when I get hold of the book again, ka khairee.

    But, yeah, hadith science is a very fascinating field and it needs to be study; hopefully, more Muslims will start thinking then if they actually *studied* it.

  53. ** sorry for the too many typos! I'm half asleep! But hopefully, you're getting my point.*

  54. Qrratugai: There are hadith which specifically say 3 generations after the Prophet. And there are others which generally say Salaf. So taken together, Salaf means 3 generations after the Prophet. There is no room for any alternate opinion here.

    Regarding ijtihad, there is no place for ijtihad in matters of Aqeedah and laws. As backward as it might sound, my progressive minds only accepts such religions which is strict and literalist and not open to interpretation by people according to their whims and desires.

  55. If religions were to be open to interpretations, there would be no need for religion. We would be better off WITHOUT religion as such a religion would not be truthful because of its 6 billion variations. This reductionist approach is necessitated by the very definition of a "truthful religion."

  56. Presence of different Islams and other religions provides a strong case for atheism. If there indeed was one God, there would be only one religion. So in a way, you are indirectly strengthening the position of atheism when you say that one can follow a religion in any interpretation. That by definition means that no one true religion exists and hence no God who protects His religion. Ever thought about that as a Muslim?

  57. According to classical Sunni Scholars, there's no room for ijtihad based on the same claim you've made (i.e., that the generations after the Prophet (pbuh) were closest to the REAL interpretation of the Quran). However, I don't have to be a scholar to point out numerous verses in the Quran that can mean SO many things and ask why the typical meaning has been used.

    These are folks from a long, long time ago we're talking about, NOT the Prophet himself NOR God.

    And yet, we have the gut to claim that Islam is for all times and all people.

    Fortunately, we have many people who are challenging the classical readings of the Quran, and judging by the number of them and their knowledge, I believe that in a couple of centuries, if not earlier, we will have succeeded. Just being hopeful.

  58. Khor jani, pa 'interpretations' di poya na krham!?!

    I was just day-dreaming... Are we going to witness an age when people would choose from a variety of male and female a'imma of different genealogies (possibly personalized genotypes, with synthetic biology hitting the screen now!) from which a 'muslim' will choose based on his gender of choice, geographic and ethnic proximity and genetic homology? I think we will still be able to see people who would still want to follow their own whims and therfore call for another complete over-haul, a 're-re-ijtihad'. Do you agree? Zu khu na pohegam..

    From your above post, 'people who are challenging the classical stuff', dwi na ba Zwemer sam khushala na ee? I always thought (was never 'taught' that way though!) dwi na yara pakar da.. look:

    O Messenger, let them not grieve you who hasten into disbelief of those who say, "We believe" with their mouths, but their hearts believe not, and from among the Jews. [They are] avid listeners to falsehood, listening to another people who have not come to you. They distort words beyond their [proper] usages, saying "If you are given this, take it; but if you are not given it, then beware." But he for whom Allah intends fitnah - never will you possess [power to do] for him a thing against Allah . Those are the ones for whom Allah does not intend to purify their hearts. For them in this world is disgrace, and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment. 5:41 (Sorry, I couldnt find Mrs. Pickthall or a Muhsin Khan's Bibi ;-) ).

    Laga ranha pa achai na??? Sochuna mi kawal, stasu blog rayaad shu, thought I'd share. Allah di afa oki!!

  59. Hm...

    No, E., ka da wasa pore pe poha shawey na ye, no za de sanga poha kam, mara, lol.

    I have a long piece prepared for the whole concept of interpretation, what exactly it means (when it comes to the Quran), examples of Quranic verses still open to interpretation as opposed to having been fully understood, and so on. At this point, it needs a lot of editing and other work, but I'll be sure to post it on my blog as soon as I'm sure it's okay enough to be shared.

    Hopefully, that'll make the whole idea of "interpretations" clearer for you and you'll see what exactly we mean when we say that the Quran never commands women to cover their hair. :)

    Until then, I strongly suggest you look into some works of Classical Islamic scholars as well as contemporary ones, especially with regards to women, modesty, hijba, etc., and compare their interpretations. Also take a few verses of the Quran (again, those relating to modesty, women, etc.) and take different Quran translations and compare them critically. Be sure to read the Arabic of it carefully to see if there are any similar/same terms that have been used differently in different contexts - and ask yourself why. :)

    Bya dalta raasha, and share with us what all you've learned. Sama da?

  60. Wow, after reading through this marathon comment section, I am just amazed that there are people who say things like: "Presence of different Islams and other religions provides a strong case for atheism. If there indeed was one God, there would be only one religion.So in a way, you are indirectly strengthening the position of atheism when you say that one can follow a religion in any interpretation. That by definition means that no one true religion exists and hence no God who protects His religion."

    Umm no. It's not God that needs our prayers and our religion, we need Him. Diversity is one of the miracles of God ['O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).' - Quran 49:13, Yusuf Ali translation]. Surely the thing that matters most is how we behave with people who differ from us - the akhlaq and the adab that we show others. Ultimately that is the only thing that will create peace and harmony in society, and tranquillity in our hearts, which is the true purpose of religion. Maybe His purpose in creating all these different sects and interpretations is to test us. Btw I'm no scholar and in fact I know nothing, so I'm just going to leave it at that. wa Allahu 'alam. Salaam.


Dare to opine :)

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