Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Challenges of Quranic Verse 4:34

Equality, anyone?

The post below is on verse 4:34, the challenges it's posed, its different translations and meanings, and how, in 4:34, the term nushooz magically means "disloyalty/ill-conduct" (because it relates to women!) but in verse 4:128, the exact same word means "desertion" (because it relates to men!) -- in verse 58:11, it means "desertion" as well. "Desertion" is the actual meaning of the Arabic nushooz, too, you see... well, that's what appears to make the most sense. I may discover many years later that I'm wrong, but I know for sure I'm right for now.


I have been studying it for the past 5 years, and I still haven't made a solid conclusion about it. I want us to look at different interpretations and different translations of the verse, since it actually implies that man is the head of the woman. I want us to see how we justify the beating/hitting of women, oftentimes saying, "Oh, the man is allowed to beat his wife but only LIGHTLY! it's not like you can abuse her just like that!" etc.

Here are some of the translations of verse 4:34 (NOTE: Anything in parenthesis is the translator's explanation, understanding and is not necessarily a part of the original Arabic text.)

- Men are the {qawwam} of women, because Allah has given the one more than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are {qanitat}, and guard in the husband's absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear {nushuz}, admonish them first, then refuse to share their beds, and finally {adriboo} them; but when they {ataa:} to you, then seek not against them means of annoyance: For Allah is Most High, great above you all. Source

(Note that in the above version, the original Arabic terms have been kept to show that it's these words that have been mistranslated, misinterprets, or are still open to interpretation -- or are used to justify violence against women or the inferiority of women.)

- Men are (meant to be righteous and kind) guardians of women because God has favored some more than others and because they (i.e. men) spend out of their wealth. (In their turn) righteous women are (meant to be) devoted and to guard what God has (willed to be) guarded even though out of sight (of the husband). As for those (women) on whose part you fear ill-will and nasty conduct, admonish them (first), (next) separate them in beds (and last) beat them. But if they obey you, then seek nothing against them. Behold, God is most high and great. Source

- Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. And the righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has [ordained to be] guarded. And as for those women whose ill-will you have reason to fear, admonish them [first]; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek to harm them. Behold, God is indeed most high, great.” (Translator: Laleh Bakhtiar - female.)

- Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all). (Translator: Yusuf Ali)

- Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great. (Translator: Pickthal)

- Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great. (Translator: Shakir)

Source for the above three translations.

- Men are the support of women as God gives some more means than others, and because they spend of their wealth (to provide for them). So women who are virtuous are obedient to God and guard the hidden as God has guarded it. As for women you feel are averse, talk to them suasively; then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) and go to bed with them (when they are willing). If they open out to you, do not seek an excuse for blaming them. Surely God is sublime and great. (Translator: Ahmed Ali)

More available at this link.

So, note how the term "nushooz" has been translated when it comes to women (disobedience, disloyalty, ill-conduct, etc.) ... EVEN though it literally means "to rise, to go above, to desert, give up" (see, for example, verse 58:11 of the Quran: "O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room: (ample) room will Allah provide for you. And when you are told "inshuzoo" (to rise up), Allah will raise up to suitable ranks and degrees those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge. Allah is well-acquainted with what you do.")

Annnnd guess what "nushooz" means when it comes to men, though. Somehow, it means "desertion" or "oppression"... as in, if the husband is being oppressive to his wife, or if he deserts her, etc. (I must say, beating your wife is oppressive. In which case verse :128 has a great suggestion for women who are being treated like that by their husbands.)

4:128 reads: "If a wife fears cruelty or nushooz on her husband's part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best, even though men's souls are swayed by greed. But if you do good and practice self-restraint, God is well-acquainted with what you do."

One must ask ... why the correct translation of the Arabic word "nushooz" when it comes to men and when it comes to the command/suggestion of giving up or yielding a position, but when it comes to women, it somehow magically means ill-conduct or disloyalty?

Yet, nothing in the Quran makes it obvious that the woman has to obey her husband. She's told, just like men are told, that she must be obedient to God, just as men are to be obedient to God. "Qaanit" doesn't necessarily mean obedience to man/husband: It's the same term used when God is saying that "obedient men and obedient women ... for them is reward promised by God."

Earlier scholars of Islam interpreter it to mean obedience of woman to her husband, clearly because women in most, if not all, societies are told to obey their husbands. It made sense to them, and we can't condemn them for having written volumes on the concept of obedience in Islam (of a woman to her husband).

But today, thankfully, scholars are re-evaluating the implications of verse 4:34 and are trying to figure out what exactly it means.

This link gives explanations of classical scholars, their commentary, on the same verse. It's really interesting how the author writes at the end, "Therefore, due to all of the statements and interpretations of the word “nushooz”, one can objectively state that nushooz includes the refusal of a woman to answer the husband’s call to her bed."

I'm like, ummm... okay, but this isn't from God; it's from men, humans. Why should their views be binding?

Anyway, just a little wonder. While the Quran doesn't make it obvious that man is the head of the woman, humans' translations and interpretations do; read commentaries of EVERY Quranic verse that pertains to women, and you'll see what the woman is viewed as. Woman meaning wife, of course, since mothers are always giving a sublime position.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Challenging People's Faith

I've mentioned -- and often in details -- in many posts that religion and Holy Books are ALL about interpretations (particularly WHO is doing the interpretation). As I've promised, I'll be posting on that later on (I've written a 12-page essay-like piece on that with several examples to show what I mean, but now is not the time to post that. It's still under construction, anyway. Perhaps I can turn it into a book several decades from now, yeah?)

But here ... I'm going to say something that seems very offensive to a lot of people. Clearly, my asking for Quranic verses when someone says, "The Quran says ..." is not a good thing to ask of some Muslims, and it can be taken to mean that I don't believe in the Quran or that I think the Prophet's interpretation of the Quran was wrong. (Speaking of his interpretation of the Quran, what IS his interpretation of the Quran? So much can be written about this, and I will be doing it soon, ka khairee, don't worry, but when people say that the hadiths are his interpretations of the Quran, it's not true at all. Another point I'mmna make here that's not too relevant but oh well ... is: Does Sunnah = Hadith? The answer is more than just a yes or no, and I will provide my own answer in some time but not yet.) Gosh, there's SO much to say and SO much to dooooooooooo!!

Anyway, so I'm gonna paste a response to some silly comments posted elsewhere 'cause I think it's necessary and I know I'll be needing the same things in the future, so I might as well keep a copy at hand to paste wherever needed :D It's to/for people with "faith" who are afraid of being questioned and challenged, or anyone who doesn't like being asked, "Where in the Quran is it written that ...?"

The reason I ask for reference when someone says "The Quran sayss so" is to show that the Quran isn't as specific as we've made it to be. It's not. Plus, ANYONE can tell us, "The Quran says ...," but how do we know if it's true? If someone tells you, "The Quran says to kill non-Muslims," you shouldn't get offended or attacked; you should say, "Where does the Quran say that?" That way, you can read the verse yourself, read neighboring verses, understand its context, and figure out what made the person make such an unfair claim. You'll be able to have a discussion with that person and perhaps be successful in clarifying a major misconception about the Quran.

Similarly, when someone tells me, "The Quran says women should cover their faces" (lots of Muslims believe this), my response is: Where? We'll come to see that the Quran never actually says it; interpretations of certain verses (certain TERMS, in fact) of the Quran say that. People say that, not the Quran.

What Might be Wrong with Me

I'm surrounded by millions of different perspectives and by people I consider scholars, so, just so people know, when I go too much in detail into something, it's perhaps my way of imitating the people I admire. My daily life activities include spending hours with these people (whom, again, I consider intellectuals and scholars, and as I've said in another blog post before, I'm very strict on who can be a scholar), having them ask me questions that take me months to figure out answers to. I'll come up with an answer, be it something that's directly from the Quran, and they'll challenge it. At first, it used to upset me and even offend me because I was like, "Leave me alone. I'm fine this way!" But now, years later, I see what they were trying to do to me. A professor in my department once gave me an article to read, saying he thinks I'll be interested in it, and said to me, "Come by when you're done with it, and we'll discuss it. What I am looking for is your critique of the article."

So I said okay. I went to him a few days later, after having read that article four or five times (it's called "Speaking for the Subaltern" by Gayatri Spivak), making sure I fully understood the author's purpose and understood it well enough to critique it. Turned out, I hadn't understood the article at all because he asked me questions that I had no answers to! Each question I tried to answer, he challenged me further and said, "Come back tomorrow."

It was frustrating at first, but this teacher prepared me to read things more critically, to be able to RESPOND to something after reading it, to be able to QUESTION something.

What I probably need to learn is to not impose the same style on other Muslims -- if it's imposing at all, that is. We commonly here the adage, "Ignorance is bliss," and though I myself can't imaging seeing ANY bliss in ignorance, I guess it's true and it works for a lot of people. I see it works for some of us here as well, and that's just really sad to know. But then again, if it's bliss for some of us, who is anyone to tell us it's sad.

I'm not a normal person (normal meaning typical, really), and everyone who doesn't know me well knows this. I'm normal to close friends who know me well and who know HOW to respond to my comments, but people who don't know me well, it takes them a while to absorb my thoughts (yeah, sadly, some of them never do). So, when I challenge you, it's not because I hate you but because I'm convinced that you'll learn so much more if you're challenged than if you aren't.

If you're not okay with it, ignore my comments everywhere. That way, we'll never have to get into "arguments" or discussions. A person can't have a discussion with her/himself alone, as we all know, so if you don't reply to me, I will understand that you just don't want to get into a discussion about it. That's fine with me.

I've said over and over, if you don't know the answer to something, simply ADMIT it. Don't get offended. We're humans; we learn, and we don't know everything. People will ask you things you don't know answers to, and those questions may never have crossed your mind before, but why see it as an insult? Why feel attacked?

I will pose many questions and challenges, and I will say things that many Muslims will not like. Eventually, you'll learn how to handle differences -- extreme, extreeeeeme differences -- and live in peace with those who are different from you, even if they have the same religion as you. But, noooooo, we'd rather ask questions like, "Are you Muslim?" as if someone's not being a Muslim will take away the meaning or purpose of the questions that are asked of you!

I question people's faith, and I don't see why I don't have a right to do this. What I have no right to do, my friends, is to tell someone which religion to follow, as that is a decision each human must make for her/himself individually and is nothing that someone else can make for her/him.

I'm an opinionated individual, and if some of us have a problem with that, ignore my posts. Really, that'll save you a lot of mental trauma, since I know that not many people can handle differences or my views. I'm always willing to have a discussion; I APPRECIATE being questioned - believe me, it feels fantastic to be questioned by people I consider intellectuals, but to be questioned by people who are just as "lay" as I am feels even better in that finally, I get to talk to someone on my level and not fifty levels above me.

For me, the more I'm challenged and questioned, the more I learn. There's SO much in life to learn that sometimes we don't know what to learn and how! So when someone asks me questions or challenges me, I know what to focus on for that moment and how to go about finding my answers. So anyone who thinks that I'd ever, ever be upset or feel attacked when someone questions my beliefs, think again 'cause it's certainly not the case with me. I accept all questions, and I take differences in beliefs to be an excellent way to learn something new and more -- and to appreciate my own beliefs because I know that no matter what happens, nothing and no one can take my beliefs away from me. The more I'm challenged, the stronger my faith in my beliefs becomes, and the better I feel about my own beliefs. Life would be so much more blissful if it was like that for everyone else, because to say that this is such a liberating and satisfying feeling is to say the least.

Remember that my focuses within Islamic Studies include:

- hermeneutics (mostly comparison of classical and contemporary interpretations of Islam, with emphasis on women and non-Muslims in Islamic law)
- Islamic philosophy (emphasis mostly on the existence of God and on the formulation of Islamic law)
- gender relations

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"I'm JUST a Muslim. Not Shiite, Not Sunni, JUST Muslim." Lies.

Pre-pre-post: I'm going to be posting many more similar posts in the next few months. And I'll give examples of this whole idea of "interpretation" and all so that people actually get what it means. In one of the best books I've ever read in my life (Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women by Khaled Abou el-Fald), the author gives a fannnntastic example of it. I'll go ahead and copy just that in the beginning.

Pre-post:  This post is going to lead to the one on Zakir Naik and why I don't think highly of him or see him as a scholar or anything like that.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Drawings of Mohammad, Facebook, Pakistan, and Ignorance!

Okay, so I'm not really sure whether to laugh at or cry for (some) Muslims. We've all probably heard about the whole "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" thingie that started on Facebook, and many of us can even imagine the response of some Muslims (death threats, etc.).

So, what had happened was that South Park recently had an episode in which it depicted Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as a bear. Many Muslims were infuriated and created riots over it, some even refusing to watch the show anymore and others going so far as to threaten the creators/producers/cartoonists of the show. I'm going to quote Wikipedia here (well, yeah, Wiki al-Saheeh has been keeping up with much better than I have, you see): The South Park episode sparked statements from the extremist website Revolution Muslim posted a picture of the partially decapitated body of the Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, with a statement declaring that Parker and Stone could meet a similar fate.

So, it looks like some extremist Muslims were threatening the South Park show people, and in response, Jon Wellington created the Facebook page for "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" to show support for South Park and to stand against the extremist response of the Muslims who issued death threats. The person who first drew a cartoon of Mohammed to inspire the creation of the Facebook group was Molly Norris, who is now said to have apologized for having drawn the caricature and suggested to others to do the same; she also claims that her intention was not to instigate hatred. (Well, clearly, someone doesn't how beastly some humans can be, eh.)

Then in response to all this, to show it's "love" for Islam and Muslims, Pakistan banned Facebook (it banned Youtube, too; go figure!).  Me, I bow my head at this decision because of its stupidity.

Now I also hear that the Facebook page of the DrawMohammedDay has been hacked by some Turkish Muslims. Okay, now that's even more ignorant and ridiculous than demanding that Facebook close the DrawMoahmmed Page. Could we GET any more pitiful than this?

To answer my own questions, YES! Yes, we can! Get this: About a month ago, an Iranian Muslim cleric named Kazim Sidigi stated publicly that the reason we have earthquakes is because of the immodesty of some women. Quoting him, "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes." He later added, "Some ask why (more) earthquakes and storms don't occur in the Western world, which suffers from the slime of homosexuality, the slime of promiscuity and has plunged up to the neck" in immorality, he said.
"Who says they don't occur? Storms take place in the U.S. and other parts of the world. We don't say committing sin is the entire reason but it's one of the reasons," he said. He kinda clarifies himself in this last statement; otherwise, he's being utterly illogical and nonsensical in his first quote. He obviously has no knowledge of earthquakes or their formation, I see. 

Anyway, so guess how some people responded to this claim that earthquakes are caused by the immodesty of women: A female named
Jen McCreight created a Facebook Event to invite women and girls on Monday, April 26th, 2010 to be as immodest as they wanted to be. It was actually called "Bookquake," which she defined to mean the showing of cleavage, but she also said, "You don't have to show your cleavage if you don't want to. Show your ankles, for there must be someone out there who thinks that for a girl to show her ankle is immodest!" She adds:
I was amused and annoyed, but not surprised. Blaming natural disasters on sinful activities isn't limited to Muslim clerics—just look at Pat Robertson's comments on Haiti , or Jerry Falwell's on Hurricane Katrina. But as a scientist and a feminist, I felt obligated to respond. I proposed on my blog that we try a bit of a science experiment to test Sedighi's hypothesis: On Monday, April 26, women would dress as immodestly as they desired, and we would see if we really did increase the number of earthquakes. In a brilliant display of my intellectual sense of humor, I dubbed the event "Boobquake." I hurriedly submitted the post and scampered off before I missed the beginning of House.  

(Like she says, blaming natural disasters on the activity of humans is nothing new or atypical. Me, I don't buy this argument/explanation whatsoever. I must admit, any time we can't explain something or don't have any answers to a difficult question, we bring God into it and leave it to Him.)

My opinion on the draw Mohammad idea? This:
I don't approve of the idea of drawing Mohammad because I sense a bad intention (and I read some of the comments on the DrawMohammed page on Facebok, and they were extremely rude and intolerant), BUT I don't approve of Muslims' behavior towards South Park's decision either, just as I condemned Muslims' reaction to the Dutch cartoons. You see, we're absolutely ridiculous when it comes to making a point. We don't want people to make a picture of Prophet Mohammad, so we start killing each other and other people, and especially those who do what we don't want them to do! So I'm going to have to break some hearts here and say ... we Muslims brought this upon ourselves. We kill people who criticize Islam or say anything we don't like about Islam (EVEN THOUGH we say bad things about other religions ALL the time :S like it's our "right" to do so), and so this is what we get. When we protest, we have signs that say "KILL THOSE who insult Islam!" or "BEHEAD those who draw Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)!" Or "Go to hell, Free Speech!" (without realizing that what we're doing right there is itself free speech too, lol!) When these people protest, is there any violence at all? We kill people like Theo van Gogh with pride, and we think we've done an awesome job AND that now that we've killed him, all others should learn a lesson from our having killing him; we think that if we kill the bearer of an idea, we kill the idea itself. WHO exactly are we fooling with such ludicrous thinking? Well, guess what, folks with a feeble mind and extremely weak faith The idea is still there! You killed only one person who thought like that; what are you gonna do, kill the millions who believe that way, too? That's what this DrawMohammadDay group was trying to convey - "These extremist Muslims might threaten or even kill one or a few of us, but they can't kill all of us!" What we need to learn, folks, is to criticize an idea, a thought, NOT the individual bearing the idea. But, heck, try reasoning with folks who think you're anti-Islam/anti-Muslim just because you don't agree with their extremist ideologies. But, me, thank God I've finally officially learned to just observe without responding to people who don't make sense and think they're the most sensible people alive. I guess ignorance is bliss for them all right.

Someone please tell me something ... why are we imposing our views on non-Muslims? If hadiths tell us not to draw Prophet Mohammad, should this same ruling apply to non-Muslims too? And shouldn't we be questioning the idea of why we can't draw it in the first? Isn't the philosophy behind it that eventually we'll start to worship it? (Not that we don't already worship the prophet, of course. I think we worship him much more than we worship Allah... some of us, I mean, of course.) So, if that's the case, why are we killing ourselves and others over this whole matter? 

A friend of mine wrote on his Facebook page that "Let's create a FB page and call it "Stupid things that Muslims say and do." I'm totally for it. I could write at least three heavy books on the topic of "stupidity among Muslims."

I'm so fed up of the nonsense that Muslims feed each other and the nonsense that they allow themselves to accept. Why is there nothing about the killings of Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide? Over 2.5 million Pashtuns were displaced during the last couple of years; what have Muslims done about these people? What have Muslims done about the Sudanese who are still suffering in their genocide? Yes, we've done a lot for the Palestinians, can't deny that, but what about all other Muslims?

I guess what I mean is ... why don't Muslims ever unite for something more "constructive" than "let's hack the anti-Islam groups!"? THIS is what we are willing to unite for? Oh my God.
Ignorance makes me gag ... no, wait, it makes me sick.

Something Called "Faith"?

I usually get into discussions with folks about God, and many a times, some of them will go, "It's called faith." And so I thought I should respond to this "argument" and the next time I get into it, I'll just paste this to them. :D

I don't think we should rely on "faith" being our excuse for believing in God. Why? Because "faith" can be the answer to ANYTHING. When Muslims claim they've discovered some scientific discrepancies in the Bible, some of us go, "OMG! How can ANYONE accept that religion then?! OBVIOUSLY, Islam is the right religion, since it's FULL of Science! SubhanAllah! All anyone has to do is read the Quran!" etc.,etc. We don't realize that just as we use the pretext of "faith" to defend our belief in God, the non-Muslims whose books are supposedly filled with scientific "mistakes" ALSO believe that their belief in their religion/God is a matter of faith and faith alone and that they need nothing else to "prove" their belief.

Similarly, Hindus can simply say, "How dare you call the Gods/Goddesses I worship 'mere idols'?! They're our GODS! They mean EVERYTHING to us; they're the REASON we live; they're the first thing we think of in the morning and the last thing we pray to before we sleep. This is faith. And it's OUR faith. And it's important to us."

So, if we're really gonna say that "it's a matter of faith" when we're questioned why we believe in God, we should also remember that ALL people are on the right path then because for them, just like for us, faith is just that important. It's "faith" that guides us towards whatever Path we've chosen, or whatever Path that has been chosen for us by our elders/parents/scholars/whoever.

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Breadwinning

Yay! I get to post a blog after forever ... well, I just remembered about it, I mean. I wrote this about a year ago, but here goes it.

The male, usually husband, is generally considered to be the breadwinner of the family. Men get higher salaries than women most likely for the same reason, and many men deny their wives the right to work for the same reason as well. But who decides who the breadwinner of the family should be? Should it be based on gender – that if you are born a male, you must provide for your family whether you like it or not – or should it be based on financial abilities, leadership skills, or just ability in general?

I am starting to believe that when religion (i.e., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) mandated that the man is the breadwinner of the family, followers of these religions interpreted it to mean that everything must lie in the hands of the man, that he is the head of the household, that he is dominant to the female sex, that the ultimate say is his regardless of everyone else’s opinion. This, of course, is also relevant when keeping in mind the question of who is doing the interpretation in the first place, in which time, and in what sort of a society. Perhaps it is a misinterpretation, or just a strict and biased interpretation and certainly not the ONLY interpretation. The societies that this guideline must apply to are those in which women are forbidden to work (though, of course, that is because men believe their women have no need to work. Why work if the men are available to fulfill their obligations of providing for the second-class citizens?); perhaps it applied to most, if not all, societies until women started being educated and discovered their ability to work and succeed without the male’s help. But today’s world is a whole new and different arena. Or it should be, anyway.

This notion of the man’s being head of the household may be a personal idea – one most heavily influenced by religion, as mentioned earlier. There are some women who have no problem with letting husbands have full control over their household matters, but then there are also some others who think that women should have an equal say in everything and that marriage doesn't have to be considered a "kingdom" in which the head or king is the husband while the female, the wife, is his subject. If a woman chooses not to work and depend entirely on her husband, she should be allowed to do so and not judged by anyone as a "weak" woman who "lets her husband make her decisions for her." Perhaps she just chooses that lifestyle for herself because she is confident that it’s best for her.

But not all women want to live such a lifestyle; some want as equal a say in their household matters as their husbands do. Some – not all – men make better leaders, better providers than women, and the woman should be allowed to provide financially if she so chooses to and not be condemned for doing so. This lifestyle unfortunately does not seem to be encouraged or appreciated by religions, or at least by Islam, which promotes patriarchy and commands that the man be the sole provider for the family unless the female wants to join as well. In some cultures, it is women who do all the leading. There's only one community that I know of in the whole wide world that's maternal rather than paternal; it's the Indonesian island of Sumatra. There have been many more throughout the history of humanity, of course, but unfortunately they're dying out gradually as patriarchy continues to dominate each society. An interesting observation is that Sumatrans are Muslims, which proves that we can have a successful matriarchal society and be Muslim at the same time. It works for them, and it's worked in the past for other societies as well, so why do most of us refuse to even consider the idea and in fact condemn such a social system?

This whole breadwinning deal would work perfectly if every member of a society did what he or she was supposed to do, according to their social guidelines. For instance, there would be little to no objections, at least from me, if the man agreed to always work and adhere to his family’s social and financial needs, without feeling the need to abuse his wife and/or children when things did not turn out the way he had expected or planned them to, and if the woman agreed to always take care of all her household duties, without feeling the need to willfully submit to her husband and other male members of her family. Practically speaking, unfortunately, we have not been successful enough to construct our society to work in such a faultless manner. Yet?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

On Infatuation, Lust, and Love

Lust, love, infatuation ... extremely difficult terms for some of us.

Lust has to do with the desire to be physical with the beloved. I think it SHOULD be present in love -- otherwise, my understanding is that love is incomplete. If you don't have that physical desire, that longing, that craving for the person, it's not complete love in my opinion. And, by lust, I mean intimacy. It doesn't mean, however, that you touch the person 24'7, or everywhere you are. I am not a fan of public display affection, although I realize that everyone has her/his own views on this.

So, whereas feelings of love INCLUDE feelings of lust, lust does not include feelings of love at all.

Infatuation, according to me, has nothing to do with love. It lasts for a very brief time. You know you're infatuated with someone when you ONLY want to be physical with them. There's no intellectual, no emotional connection; it's just physical. You don't love the person for what she/he is but only for her/his ability to satisfy your physical needs.

~ Love is when you can tell your partner, "We haven't fought in FIVE DAMN days, man! We should fight." And he smiles at you and laughs like you're the most beautiful thing in the world -- and you are, in his world.

~ It is love that enables you to use a type of language with your beloved that you CANNOT use with others; you just don't feel comfortable using that same language, same tone, same terms with others because to you, it's too special, too precious to be shared with others, and you wish to reserve the language only between the two of you.

~ Love is when you fight with your beloved, pull his hair alllllll you want (in complete privacy, of course, not in front of others), and 30 minutes later, you're giving him the most beautiful smile he's ever seen.

~ Love is when you work together with your beloved to cook and clean, just as you do in the process of reproduction.

~ Love is when you meet your beloved after a long period of time (long in your world, not necessarily in the world's world, hah -- it could mean one week or a month or a year, but to you, it's no less than eternity), and the first thing you do is hold hands talk and talk and talk and catch up on ALL the things you've missed out on together during that time. Plans to satisfy your physical desires aren't really discussed; they come naturally once you're both calm and back to normal.
(Means to say ... the first thing on your mind isn't always intimacy. Just BEING with the person is the best thing for both of you, and everything else comes second, although it MUST happen in order for the love to be "sanctified," as I like to see it.)

So!! :D This is what I have come to conclude-- and I'm a strong advocate of and believer in love. Not a lot of people are lucky enough to experience the feeling, and I find it to be a wonderful way for one to appreciate oneself and another human being (same gender or not, but I myself prefer the opposite gender).

And, no, this ain't no fantasy; it's possible and it has proven to be true for many people, but unfortunately, not everyone's lucky enough to experience love this way.

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