Tag Archives: Muslim

A blessed and terrible month for the world’s Muslims

The days are long and the nights are full of newscasts.

Simply put, this has not been our month. 

I am not the most active Muslim — I like going to the mosque for taraweeh, but not every night. I like to read Quran, but at an embarrassingly sluggish pace. Still, I know that Ramadan is supposed to be the month of prayer, charity, and, if we do it right, forgiveness. But this year, it feels more like Ramadan has been a month of tragedy, hatred, and crippling sadness. We hate and kill each other, other people hate and kill us, and meanwhile, most of us would rather the warmongers and ideologists would leave us out of it so we could live and pray in peace. When it comes to human beings, I have become a cynic. I don’t believe that any one side in any conflict is good — I think everyone is pretty awful, to tell the truth.  

Bad things that have happened to Muslims (and, really, to humanity) this Ramadan:

  • Bangladesh. The Rohingya, a stateless and persecuted Muslim minority, have been banned from marrying in Bangladesh to prevent those fleeing from violence in Myanmar from marrying citizens and receiving citizenship. The ban also means they cannot marry each other, and they are prohibited by law from living together out of a state-recognized marriage.
  • China. Chinese authorities continue to try to erase the Islamic identity of Uighur Muslims by banning fasting, certain types of clothing, and unapproved Islamic literature.   
  • Iraq. When Muslims kill each other, we all lose. No matter what political agenda the different factions espouse, the (often execution-style) murder of civilians is always a tragedy. Iraq Body Count puts the number of casualties at 802 in the first 17 days of July alone. 
  • Syria. The UN has literally given up on keeping track of the number of dead in Syria’s ongoing civil war. Last week, photos of children swimming in bomb craters were all over the internet — just another reminder that it is the children who pay the price for the wars waged by men. 
  • Malaysia. A commercial flight blown out of the sky and 298 people dead for nothing. 
  • Afghanistan. The dead almost seem to run together since the U.S. invasion in 2001, so it’s important to note the 89 dead in a car bomb attack on a busy market three days ago. Way to keep that Ramadan spirit alive.
  • Gaza. This one hurts the most, maybe because I have Palestinian roots, or maybe because people the world over seem to be actually, truly convinced that it is justified. This isn’t a new conflict. Gaza has been losing a teenager every week or two to IDF bullets for years with no fanfare. But since three Israeli teenagers were murdered (no evidence at all proving who killed them has been released), Palestinian teenager Mohammad Abu Khdeir was brutally burned alive, more than 1,000 have been arrested in the West Bank, and (as of writing this), the death toll in Gaza has reached 265. Israel claims they are only hitting terrorist targets, but they have hit multiple hospitals, homes, schools, and mosques. 

Good things that have happened to Muslims (and humanity) this Ramadan (and every Ramadan):

  • Surat Al Baqarah, 185-186:

شَہۡرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ هُدً۬ى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَـٰتٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ وَٱلۡفُرۡقَانِ‌ۚ فَمَن شَہِدَ مِنكُمُ ٱلشَّہۡرَ فَلۡيَصُمۡهُ‌ۖ وَمَن ڪَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ۬ فَعِدَّةٌ۬ مِّنۡ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ‌ۗ يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ بِڪُمُ ٱلۡيُسۡرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِڪُمُ ٱلۡعُسۡرَ وَلِتُڪۡمِلُواْ ٱلۡعِدَّةَ وَلِتُڪَبِّرُواْ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَٮٰكُمۡ وَلَعَلَّڪُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ (١٨٥) وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِى عَنِّى فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌ‌ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ‌ۖ فَلۡيَسۡتَجِيبُواْ لِى وَلۡيُؤۡمِنُواْ بِى لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَرۡشُدُونَ

 

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you; and (He desireth) that ye should complete the period, and that ye should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that peradventure ye may be thankful. (185) And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. (186)

 

  • Surat Al Qadr

إِنَّآ أَنزَلۡنَـٰهُ فِى لَيۡلَةِ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ (١) وَمَآ أَدۡرَٮٰكَ مَا لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ (٢) لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّنۡ أَلۡفِ شَہۡرٍ۬ (٣) تَنَزَّلُ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةُ وَٱلرُّوحُ فِيہَا بِإِذۡنِ رَبِّہِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمۡرٍ۬ (٤) سَلَـٰمٌ هِىَ حَتَّىٰ مَطۡلَعِ ٱلۡفَجۡرِ (٥)

 

Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Qadr. (1) Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Qadris! (2)The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months. (3) The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. (4) (The night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn. (5)

 

I don’t really have much else to say, except that, no matter how cynical I may be about other people, I feel blessed to know that I can always rely on God. Maybe this is our month — we just can’t see it right now.

As always, there is much to be grateful for. God, please help us to make the most of these last 10 days of Ramadan. Ameen.

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Women’s rights and Niqab

A woman, out and about, doing her thing.

I’ve basically just been using this blog as a place to post random thoughts, but today I feel compelled to make this post.

Tuesday, the Jordan Times featured an editorial on the French niqab ban called “Avoiding Controversy.” Never have I read a piece with a more unintentionally ironic headline. The piece applauds France’s decision to talk to its Muslim population about why it wants to prohibit the niqab, otherwise known as a face veil or a burqa, before enforcing the ban. This is said to be the “right thing to do” in order to “avoid any unnecessary controversy and friction between the government of France and its Muslim residents.” While it would make more sense for France to talk to its Muslim population BEFORE deciding to ban the niqab in the first place, just to make sure they actually did feel oppressed, I was not surprised by this kind of shortsightedness.

This, however, is where I draw the line:

The French government also maintains that Muslim scholars in France agree with the interpretation that the Holy Koran does not in fact call for the wearing of a full face cover, which leaves women with no identity or personality of their own.

These are not the words of a man who knows women who wear niqab. These are not the words of a man who respects a woman’s ability to make her own religious choices. Here is my response, which I sent to the Jordan Times but am not really expecting to be printed (for its length as well as its content):

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I am a Muslim woman who does not wear niqab, nor do I consider it obligatory under the teachings of Islam. I do, however, believe that, as long as it does not violate anyone else’s rights, women’s clothing (as well as men’s) should not be regulated by law. If a woman wants to cover her face, that is her right, and if she wants to wear shorts and a tank top, that is also her right. In countries like Jordan, these freedoms are guaranteed and our society has not suffered for it. We have all kinds of people, and, as a nation, Jordan accepts them equally.

I was therefore frustrated to read Tuesday’s editorial on France’s impending niqab ban, “Avoiding controversy,” in which the niqab was said to leave “women with no identity or personality of their own” and to prevent women from being “active members of the Muslim nation.” Is this to say that women in niqab are not contributing to our society? Clearly, you have not visited the Kingdom’s universities lately, which are teeming with strong, intelligent and confident women, who choose to cover their faces, but express themselves through their words and actions. If you cannot see them, it is because you look away. They are there and they are active members of our society.

As long as a woman chooses to wear niqab on her own and is not being forced into it, there is nothing inherently oppressive about a face veil. The problem with these European bans on niqab is that they completely ignore the possibility that a woman would choose to wear such a thing. But even if you assume that women who cover their face are being oppressed, what does banning the niqab get you? The women who really were being forced to wear them have now effectively been put on house arrest. They won’t be allowed to leave their homes, to get an education, or to become active members of their own countries. Let us not pretend, therefore, that this ban has anything to do with the rights of Muslim women. This ban is about saving France from being forced to look at these unsightly people, draped in black and conjuring up images of the desert.

It is bad enough that the French have chosen to look away from women in niqab. Let’s not follow in their example.

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