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The Chicken

April 22nd, 2010 No comments

There was a woman who had a hen and she did not have anything else other than this hen. She lived on the eggs laid by the hen. One day a thief stole it.

The woman did not imprecate him and she sought refuge and help from Allāh.

The thief slaughtered the hen and began to pluck the feathers, when suddenly all these feathers grew upon his face. He tried hard to have them removed but nobody could help him get rid of the plumes.

Finally, he went to an ascetic of Banu Isrāyīl who said: ‘I don’t know of any cure for your malady except if the woman you stole from invokes evil upon you.’

The thief sent someone to the woman who began by asking: ‘Where is your hen?’

She replied: ‘It was stolen.’

The man said: ‘Whoever stole it has caused you deep grievance.’

She said: ‘Well, it is so..’

The agent kept asking her and provoking her until she lost her temper and cursed the thief for stealing her hen.

Immediately, feathers fell off the thief’s face and people came to the ascetic asking how did he know about this.

The ascetic said: ‘When her hen was stolen, she did not imprecate him and left the matter to Allāh táālā; so He avenged her. But when she imprecated him, she sought revenge for her own self and so the feathers fell [and the punishment and revenge of Allāh ceased].’

Laţāyif al-Minan, Ibn Áţā-Allāh as-Sakandari

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We have little to fear but ignorance

April 20th, 2010 2 comments


April 19, 2010
BY NEIL STEINBERG Sun-Times Columnist

Fear is the emotion underlying everything. A primary instinct we share with animals — I pad outside to retrieve the morning newspapers and catch a bunny unaware. He freezes, tracking me anxiously, then rockets away, his little heart hammering. I pick up the papers, smiling, because of course I mean him no harm.
For a bunny, there is no downside to automatically fleeing humans — much unnecessary leaping, perhaps. It is a survival mechanism, but so is my not being afraid of what doesn’t pose a threat, the skill that allowed humans to slowly develop beyond isolated tribes, to work together and build this complex world of wonder we now enjoy. There are no wonders of the rabbit world besides underground burrows. But that’s it.

My wife and I attended the 6th annual fund-raising dinner earlier this month for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group dedicated to thwarting the baseless fear that so rattled my rabbit friend. “I’m going to wear the long dress I wear to Hassidic weddings,” my wife said beforehand, without irony. I said that sounded like a good idea.

Some 1,500 guests attended the CAIR dinner, at the Drury Lane in Oak Brook. An older gentleman named Feteh Riyal — a muezzin — gave the call to prayer, eyes closed, hands pressed flat against the sides of his face, emitting long, plaintive tones I had never heard before. They were haunting, beautiful. The keynote speaker was Professor Tariq Ramadan, who had been banned from the United States for six years under George W. Bush’s security state.

I brought along a tape recorder “in case he said anything incendiary.” But the speech centered on the moral duties of a Muslim to be an active part of the community and do good works. That didn’t seem like news.

To me, the most noteworthy moment came before the doors were opened. A hundred people were waiting — men in suits, women in headscarves. Three couples walked up — college boys in dark suits and their dates in tiny black dresses. The girls looked almost naked among the colorful veils and modest leggings.

“I knew Islam was a big tent,” I whispered to my wife. “But I didn’t think it was THAT big a tent.”

Turns out the college couples were there for a Sigma Chi dance in the next ballroom. It’s funny how the power of a majority works, because the Sigma Chi couples were suddenly the ones out of place, swimming against the cultural mainstream, and for the first time I grasped the perspective of women who dress in the modest Islamic manner and maintain that it is themselves who are the liberated ones.

But that was subtle and not something I felt obligated to pass along to you. The next day, I began reading my e-mail, as I always do. But now the usual garbage seemed different, worse.

The e-mail was headed “Muslim Belief” and began, “This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well-known leader in prison ministry.”

It describes how Mathes attended a training session at a state prison. A Muslim cleric outlines his beliefs, and Mathes challenges him. Isn’t it true that “most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a Holy war against the infidels of the world”?

The imam admits it is.

“Let me make sure I have this straight,” Mathes continues. “All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can have a place in heaven. Is that correct?”

“He sheepishly replied, ‘Yes.’ “

The story stank of fabrication, and a check of the debunking sign Snopes.com shows it’s pure falsity — the only true part is that Mathes wrote it.

It’s a lie. No such exchange took place. Yet the story has been circulating widely on the Internet for seven years.

Tariq Ramadan spoke for 45 minutes and said, basically, that being a good Muslim means living in harmony with your neighbors and in doing good.

“Spread peace,” he said. “You are a people of peace. People of peace are going to face rejection and war, but this is not our objective. Our objective is peace. Any Muslim who tells you [that] you cannot love your neighbor, you have to say, ‘You need to have a better understanding of Islam.’ We are people who are spreading around a dignified way of life. . . . You are at home in this country. This is your home. The American people are your people. And anyone in a mosque who speaks of Americans as ‘them’ and not ‘us’ is the starting point of a problem.”

Why do Westerners succumb to anti-Muslim fear? It’s a natural reflex — certainly what terrorists expect when they claim their acts are in the name of Islam. They want to drive a wedge between the cultures, lest a harmonious blending undercut their extremism and deprive them of the enemy they crave. It’s a partnership, the terrorists and the fear-mongers, working in harmony and tacit agreement.

Actually, fear isn’t the underlying instinct. Ignorance is. Fear is often ignorance in action. Rabbits are not smart animals, and so quick reflexes pass for philosophy. We humans are supposed to be brighter than that. I only wish you could have gone to the CAIR dinner with me and seen — no offense — the parade of unremarkable American normality that I saw; pleasant, concerned, decent people sharing a meal, albeit with a few more veils and skullcaps than are considered usual here at the moment. It will become much more common, and if that frightens you, you are being startled for no reason.

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A Woman’s Reflection on Leading Prayer

April 18th, 2010 No comments

by Yasmin Mogahed

On March 18, 2005, Amina Wadud led the first female-led jum`ah (Friday) prayer. On that day, women took a huge step towards being more like men. But did we come closer to actualizing our God-given liberation?

I don’t think so.

What we so often forget is that God has honored the woman by giving her value in relation to God—not in relation to men. But as Western feminism erases God from the scene, there is no standard left—except men. As a result, the Western feminist is forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing, she has accepted a faulty assumption. She has accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man.

When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army. She wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had it.

What she didn’t recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness – not their sameness. And on March 18, Muslim women made the very same mistake.

For 1400 years there has been a consensus of the scholars that men are to lead prayer. As a Muslim woman, why does this matter? The one who leads prayer is not spiritually superior in any way. Something is not better just because a man does it. And leading prayer is not better, just because it’s leading. Had it been the role of women or had it been more divine, why wouldn’t the Prophet ﷺ have asked Ayesha or Khadija, or Fatima—the greatest women of all time—to lead? These women were promised heaven—and yet they never led prayer.

But now, for the first time in 1400 years, we look at a man leading prayer and we think, “That’s not fair.” We think so although God has given no special privilege to the one who leads. The imam is no higher in the eyes of God than the one who prays behind.

On the other hand, only a woman can be a mother. And God has given special privilege to a mother. The Prophet ﷺ taught us that heaven lies at the feet of mothers. But no matter what a man does he can never be a mother. So why is that not unfair?

When asked, “Who is most deserving of our kind treatment?” the Prophet ﷺ replied, “Your mother” three times before saying “your father” only once. Is that sexist? No matter what a man does he will never be able to have the status of a mother.
And yet, even when God honors us with something uniquely feminine, we are too busy trying to find our worth in reference to men to value it—or even notice. We, too, have accepted men as the standard; so anything uniquely feminine is, by definition, inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a mother—a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigns supreme.

As soon as we accept that everything a man has and does is better, all that follows is a knee-jerk reaction: if men have it, we want it too. If men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in the front rows too. If men lead prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so we want to lead prayer too. Somewhere along the line we’ve accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one’s position with God.

A Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as a standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man.

In fact, in our crusade to follow men, we as women never even stopped to examine the possibility that what we have is better for us. In some cases we even gave up what was higher only to be like men.

Fifty years ago, society told us that men were superior because they left the home to work in factories. We were mothers. And yet, we were told that it was women’s liberation to abandon the raising of another human being in order to work on a machine. We accepted that working in a factory was superior to raising the foundation of society—just because a man did it.

Then, after working, we were expected to be superhuman—the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker—and have the perfect career. And while there is nothing wrong, by definition, with a woman having a career, we soon came to realize what we had sacrificed by blindly mimicking men. We watched as our children became strangers and soon recognized the privilege we’d given up.

And so only now—given the choice—women in the West are choosing to stay home to raise their children. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, only 31 percent of mothers with babies, and 18 percent of mothers with two or more children, are working full-time. And of those working mothers, a survey conducted by Parenting Magazine in 2000, found that 93% of them say they would rather be at home with their kids, but are compelled to work due to ‘financial obligations.’ These ‘obligations’ are imposed on women by the gender sameness of the modern West, and removed from women by the gender distinctiveness of Islam.

It took women in the West almost a century of experimentation to realize a privilege given to Muslim women 1400 years ago.

Given my privilege as a woman, I only degrade myself by trying to be something I’m not – and in all honesty – don’t want to be: a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men, and value the beauty in our own God-given distinctiveness.

If given a choice between stoic justice and compassion, I choose compassion. And if given a choice between worldly leadership and heaven at my feet—I choose heaven.

taken from suhaibwebb.com

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