Monday, August 16, 2010

Maybe We Should Stop Practising Islam & Start LIVING Islam Part 1

I’m not the kind of Muslim that believes that from all the people on earth, only Muslims will go to Heaven. And every now and then I will encounter someone who tries to change my mind by quoting some or other Hadith etc. in some attempt to make me “see the light”. But I refuse. In fact, the only time I will believe that only Muslims will enter Jannah (Paradise) is when The Almighty God Himself summons me and tells me “Listen here Azra Sabreen, no one other than Muslims will enter paradise ok?”.

The thing is, apart from knowing many monotheistic believers who have better characteristics and habits than most Muslims I know, I don’t believe that our Creator is cruel or unreasonable. Allah SWT does not hate because he doesn’t need to. He created everything you see before you, and everything you can’t see and have no knowledge of, so why should He hate when he can just destroy that which He created?

And I have many people, quoting Hadith to me like they were there when the Prophet (SAW) imparted those words. The problem I have with that is that you have to ask yourself, who recorded (and re-recorded) these Ahadith? The answer is Men. Who interpreted them? Again, Men. Who wrote books and shared their opinions and have had those opinions quoted and mis-quoted throughout history? Men. And humans are flawed by nature, and only see or hear what they want to see and hear.

Now I’m NOT saying that I disbelieve in the Ahadith… all I am saying is that people are too ready to believe everything that is said in the name of the Prophet (SAW) and don’t take a minute to step back and think for themselves.

So I have people who will tell me that only Muslims are going to Heaven and I ask them “What about everyone else?”… and the answer is almost always “Well, they don’t believe in Allah SWT and His Messenger”… and I say, “That’s all fine and dandy, but what about those poor sods who lived in the mountains of Machu Pichu or Mongolia in a time when there was no ADSL and telephone lines or television… how do you know that they were informed about Allah SWT and His Messenger… that they had a chance to make the choice to believe or disbelieve?”… and there’s always no answer.

I have heard people quote Hadith stating that music is Haraam and that we’re all going to die and go to hell and what-not… but they either don’t know, or conveniently forget to state other accounts where the Prophet (SAW) would attend celebrations and actually watch the merriment (folk dancing) with his wives. In fact, there is also one specific incident where the Prophet (SAW) and Omar (RA) were invited to attend a wedding/celebration and as they approached the house, they heard music playing from therein. Omar (RA) got upset and wanted to put an end to it when the Prophet (SAW) stopped him and said something like “Every culture has their own traditions, let them celebrate”.

I’ve heard people go on and on and on about the Beard issue. A few months ago, there was an incident on Facebook where one guy actually cursed another for not having facial hair.

In a recent discussion with a group of men in the company of my father, I even heard someone say, “Well, it’s not Fardh (compulsory), but it’s a Great Sunnah” before he continued ‘quoting’ how the Prophet (SAW) will turn away from those without beards on the Day of Judgement and how everyone without one is going to hell. I interjected… “Excuse me, but do you honestly believe that on the Day of Judgment, you’re going to stand before The Almighty and He is going to commend you on the fantastic beard that you managed to produce during your life on earth? Or is He rather going to be concerned with HOW you lived your life? And *sarcastic* shame, what about those men who can only manage to cultivate peach fuzz… doom for them and their follicular failures eh?

Man1 told me, “No, no, if you can’t grow the beard, that’s another story but you shouldn’t cut it”. I replied “So I guess those Orthodox Jews and those 60’s Hippies and those inbred HillBilly’s will all be especially pleased to have warranted the Prophet (SAW’s) gaze upon them, although I don’t see how that’s gonna help them since they’re all going to hell for not being Muslim anyway right?”.

Man2 then said, “But it’s a GREAT Sunnah…” and before he could continue I enquired “Tell me about the other Great Sunnah’s? When was the last time you checked up on your neighbour’s to see that they are well and that they have food to eat? When was the last time you visited the sick? You don’t even speak to your own brother!”. And the million dollar question, “And do you have any intention of selling your Mansion and 2 Mercedes’ and giving most of what you have to charity for a small simple home and a trusty 1991 Toyota Corolla that can take you from point A to point B hassle-free… since living a simple life free from Ribaa (Interest & Usury) is considered a Great Sunnah too?”.

Man3 interrupted, “But the Hadith says…” and again, before he could continue I said, “Look I’m not saying don’t grow the beard… by all means, go compete with GandalfI just don’t think its right to sit there in your ivory tower, looking down upon others, cursing and condemning people to hell on an issue that is not even compulsory. Who died and made everyone God? Having a beard or not having one never hurt anybody, it never robbed anyone of anything.”

I continued, “Tell me, you agree that a woman should look her very best for her husband right?”. They all agreed. “So if her husband wants her to look a certain way for him, she should oblige right?”. They all agreed again. “So is a man not supposed to look his best for his wife too… to be attractive to her?”. They agreed that he should. “So what if a man’s wife grows distant from him because she doesn’t like his facial hair, when she married him he didn’t have any, and it irritates her skin, so she doesn’t want to be near him and wants him to shave before she will let him touch her?”.

Man4 told me “Allah SWT will punish her for not allowing him to practice Islam for sure!”. And then I said, “But surely, we do not control what we like or dislike, some of us like Chicken, others prefer Beef. The Prophet (SAW) himself had his preferences and stayed away from that which displeased him (he didn’t make it Haraam, he just refrained). And why do we have preferences? Who bestowed them on us anyway? Is it not genetic, a part of our Biology? Is The Almighty not responsible for our Biologies… those parts of us that are innate and form part of our core characteristics? So you’re telling me that The Almighty, Most Merciful, will punish her for that which He bestowed upon her in the first place?

*Room falls silent and they promptly change the subject*

11 comments:

  1. Those cold in their faith, leave me disheartened. It's good to know there are people out there who still value the good in being good for Good's sake. Thanks:)

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  2. Interesting.
    More so because a week before Ramadhaan I was invited to a Zikr evening at a friends house where the guest of honour was some or other grand mufti from the headquarters of Islam. I always thought that was Azaadville, but I later learnt it cou even be India, Pakistan and Saudi.
    Anyways, he posed the question "Who amongst you thinks a non-believer can get to Heaven by virtue of his/her good deeds?"
    Needless to say I raised my hand.
    After being glared at and silently labelled a heathen by my fellow friends, said Mufti asked me why I believed an "infidel" could be allowed into Heaven.

    So I said "I dont think I want to meet THAT God that would send a woman like Mother Teressa or a man like Nelson Mandela to hell, overlooking all the good they did, simply because they didn't followmy religion."

    Silence.

    I haven't been invited back.

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  3. The area of hadiths is perhaps the most debatable of the sources in Islam.

    With regard to the chains of narrations (i.e. men heard it, men recorded it, men re-recorded it) - the "authentic" hadiths are ones we can absolutely trust; because there's a hectic science behind what it takes to make a hadith 'authentic' - and it involves the chain of narrators being of good moral standing, good memory, etc.

    But it is irritating when people quote hadiths that *sound* suspect, and they don't give a reference. A lot of things that people say can be based on a combination of weak or fabricated hadiths, and cultural practices of a certain community.

    Anyway, with regard to the music issue - i've read a lot of fatwas, articles, and stuff on the subject. and the incidents you mentioned do come up as proofs.

    But if you really want a superbly in-depth, easy to read analysis of the whole thing, i recommend you find Khalid Baig's "Slippery Stone" (published a few years ago). The book is just incredible in the way it tells the story of music in Islam, and examines the often quoted evidences for and against music.

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  4. Slmz Azra. good post. I agree with some of ur points like the growing of the beard should be just as important as the other Sunnahs of the Prophet(SAW) and one should not be exclusive of the others. And thats what all ppl should strive for , surely, to follow all the Sunnahs of the Prophet(SAW) as best they can. And yes ppl think they better than others just cos they practice one sunnah but that doesnt mean they should stop carrying out that one sunnah and go rush out to perform the others. The same applies to wearing Hijab ofcourse (and I admit I am sometimes guitly of this too) I AM shocked when i see someone in the prayer facilities who does not normally wear hijab- and I know shouldnt be but Im just like OMG they're muslim- but yes I know its wrong and I really do try my best not to judge and to stop that thought in its tracks-but its difficult and requires active thought much like overcoming any other stereotypes and judgyness that humans are prone to. maybe you should take that into account as well. Anyways the point of this comment(finally): I feel your approach to those with whom you were arguing was wrong- U should (maybe?) have brought it to their attention that they need to follow all the sunnahs without blasting the beard(thats just what I feel.) Also the last paragraph- what pleases us- yeah- I think we were placed in this world to follow the commands of Allah no matter what, so if I found a beard unattractive in a man- like mustaches- ewww- I would not say anything to my husband simply because I would be keeping him from emulating the ways of the Prophet (SAW)and the same would apply to any thing else that the Prophet liked but which I don't e.g. Marrow or Olives-(a bit of a weak example I know) I don't like them but I won't stop buying them for my father if he wants to eat them for the sake of following the sunnah out of love for the Prophet(SAW). ok, one last point sometimes I think Allah created us a certain way as a test- for example ppl who are gay,its not their "fault" Allah made them that way- but they have to abstain from following those feelings and treat it as a test (if they want to be muslim, ofcourse)because thats what Allah says in the Quraan, humans can't make up their own rules even though Allah made them that way.Thats the whole point of submission (just my thoughts- apologies for the essay :) and I hope i have made my points clear- I have difficulty expressing my thoughts)

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  5. Speaking of music, I have put out a song, "Call To Prayer" that I would really appreciate feedback on especially because of the "music" issue in Islam. You can hear it at:

    www.myspace.com/stevenlancemusic

    As for this particular blog, all I can say is, RIGHT ON! It is from dialog like this that better understanding results.

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  6. SaalehaID – I believe that actions without character mean nothing. And it seems that most people have lost the plot when it comes to what constitutes being a good Muslim… its not only what we do, it’s who we are… I still have so much to say on this so its gonna be a few more segments :)

    Kaloo – I don’t believe it for the simple fact that Allah SWT mentions Dhul Qarnayn in the Qur’an in a time when Islam as we know it did not exist… and Allah SWT says that he was a monotheistic believer and good man and that he did Allah SWT’s work by helping people he came into contact with. Now why would The Almighty Allah SWT Himself mention Dhul Qarnayn if He was going to send him straight to Hell? And what about the other Monotheistic Believers? If you look at the Amish, their lives closely resemble ours… if not they’re even better than us because they believe in simplicity and living humbly, not with the extravagance that most Muslims these days strive for and have become accustomed to? Even the lives of the Orthodox Jews mirrors ours. So who are we to say that they will attain Jannah or not? :)

    Dreamlife – Thanks for the book reference, I will definitely look out for it. I strongly believe in moderation. An old, very pious, very wise Arab woman once told me that Islam by nature is not dogmatic, it is at its very core all about Moderation, governing the senses. You can be sad, but don’t become too sad. You can be happy, but don’t be too happy. You can have fun but don’t over do it. As Muslims we are not even allowed to be isolated for too long, we should be engaging with people because if done so correctly, your mere presence is a form of Dawah. It’s all about Balance. She said that the best form of existence is in equilibrium, centering oneself, because that is where we are the strongest against Shaytaan.

    Awa – Wasalaam. I hear what you’re saying, but I did not blast the beard as such, in that particular conversation I was challenging the way these men thought about things which was a very dogmatic rigid approach, without questioning any of the merits of it. They simply hear what this one or that one said, and they take it as law. They want to practice and adhere to those parts of Islam that suit them, conveniently cast aside other more important aspects. If people want to don the beard out of respect and reverence to the Prophet SAW, then by all means they should go ahead. But I have a Huge problem with the staggering amount of people who are cursing and condemning others to Hell because I believe that no matter what, Allah SWT is the ONLY and FINAL judge. And simply put, the beard is NOT FARDH. And I have an issue with Ulema who continually try to make it so, threatening people with eternal damnation if they don’t adhere. The basic premise here was that I find that most people are becoming so ingrossed in the tiny details… like whether or not they left the house with their right or left foot… that they are forgetting that a simple thing, like being a good human being, is a large part of Islam as well.

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  7. I will take a look at it when I have time and get back to you :)

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  8. This post reminded me that there are a huge number of Muslim scholars in this country that believe that 1) you are not allowed to make dua in any other language other than Arabic and we have to robotically follow a set format e.g. recite such-and-such a dua for seeking Allah's help, another if you fear your enemies may harm you etc and 2) it is a sin for any non-ulema to read the Qur'an in anything other than Arabic because if we can understand what we are reading that might lead to us forming our own opinions of our own religion instead of being good sheep and beleiving the patriarchal claptrap that the ulema spews out and expects us to parrot word-for-word.

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  9. Phenix – It is my sincere hope and prayer this Ramadan that everyone stop thinking they’re God. Ameen.

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  10. slms
    ok...not stirring up anything here...but a little reminder.
    it always broke my heart- still does- that abu talib- who suffered alongside rasoolalllah(SAW)-never accepted islam.
    as a child- even now- it hurts to know that such a beloved uncle of Nabi (SAW) never became muslim. that even when Rasoolallah(SAW) was begging him to whisper the kalimah in his ear, he didnt.
    it really...hurts. because he was such a staunch supporter and lover of Rasoolallah(SAW).
    for those who never knew islam or had the chance to learn about it- i honestly dont know what will happen to them. but Allah promises us that He is most just- and i sincerely hope that....they will receive justice and mercy.

    but it is a different matter for those who know- and who turn away.
    please remember that.

    (this isnt my fatwa. or some twist in history...)

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  11. Psearean – Yes we know how the Prophet SAW begged and pleaded with his uncle to accept Islam but he refused. Abu Talib had the opportunity to learn about Islam in its purest form, and he still rejected it as such. But in this day and age, where out of the almost 5 Billion people that are not Muslim on earth, how many of them have access to TRUE and ACCURATE information regarding Islam? Sure some of them may have heard of it but all the information they get is negative where Islam is depicted as a cult or a terrorist organisation. And very very few people will be motivated to go and seek the truth behind what they learn or hear from others, they’ll just accept whatever propoganda they’re fed and pass it along to future generations. So can they be prosecuted for that which they do not really know? And you have to remember, that kind of knowledge and understanding and Hidayah only comes from Allah SWT. And then there are others that have absolutely no clue about Islam, those tribes in the Amazon and others in inaccessible regions.
    At the end of the day, I believe that it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, because we’re just human and our capacity to understand greater things is very very limited and when it comes to Allah SWT, we will NEVER really know.

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