Category Archives: Opinion

The Gaze and the Cover

There is a deeply embedded and intricately weaved rhetoric about gender roles in Islam, especially as they relate to men and women’s rules of social interaction.

Surah An-Nur was revealed with many of these rules:

“The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes…” (24:2)

Many scholars of the past have interpreted this ayah and have derived an understanding that in our society would probably be considered “sexist” or “misogynist” and that is this: Allah mentioned the female fornicator (in Arabic: “az-zaaniyah”) in this ayah first because females are attractive and carry the power to either entice a man with their charms and lead him into fornication or to help control his gaze by covering up, as is later instructed in the surah.

Hold that thought. And let’s move on to the ayah of lowering the gaze.

“Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them…” (24:30)

About this ayah we always hear from females (or from feminists) that Allah has told men to lower their gazes first because they have a harder time controlling their gazes. And many misinformed people like to add that a woman’s hijab has nothing to do with gaze, and that men are solely responsible for their actions, regardless of a woman’s hijab. 

Hold that thought, too. Let’s move on to the ayah of hijab.

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment…” (24:31)

Here, Allah tells the women to also lower their gazes because afterall, men and women get attracted to each other by looking at one another. But Allah knows that He has made one of His creatures attractive (women) and one weak, or should I say passionate (men)? So He ordered the women to wear hijab. And this protects them from ogling men (at least to a certain degree) because some men will ogle no matter what.

Now, my point here:

Allah is trying to tell us (from the first ayah and the third ayah’s interpretation-quoted above) that a woman does have in her power whether to entice a man or to keep him at bay. This is achieved by her hijab first and foremost and then by her manner of speech and behavior in interacting with men. It is as if Allah is saying to the Muslim women: “I have created you as attractive so cover yourselves up for your own protection, and save yourselves from sin by guiding others to sin.”

Then, it’s as if Allah is telling the men: “You have been created weak. You have certain desires which are so strong that you may or may not have control over them. So lower your gaze. Stop the evil before it begins. Respect your sisters; don’t treat them like a piece of meat. But recognize them as believing slaves of Allah who have respect.”

One Sided Rhetoric:

People love to quote the story in which the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) saw a young companion looking at a woman who was not properly covered and they say: “Look, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) didn’t tell the woman to cover; he told his companion to look away!”

And I say fine, okay, but why ignore this story then?

Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) said:

I was with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) along with Maimunah (May Allah be pleased with her) when Ibn Umm Maktum (May Allah be pleased with him) (who was blind) came to visit him. (This incident took place after the order of Hijab).The Prophet (ﷺ) told us to hide ourselves from him (i.e., observe Hijab). We said: “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), he is blind and is unable to see us, nor does he know us.” He replied; “Are you also blind and unable to see him?”

[Abu Dawud and At- Tirmidhi].

So when talking about men, women and hijab, let’s try to be fair in our approach. Let’s remember that Allah reveals His Laws not from a patriarchal nor from a feminist perspective. He is Al-‘Alim (All Knowing) and Al-Hakeem (All Wise).

So let’s put our trust in Him.

Many of the lifestyles that people want to live are made impossible because of the need for money.

I’m not at all talking about the “better lifestyle” that is achieved through a higher salary. I am talking about our collective enslavement to a society that values only money. If there is a reason that we cannot leave work and just go live on a farm or in some remote (poor but peaceful) village is because life is harder over there. The way we have grown up in first-world countries has made us believe that we cannot survive without money, that simple living is difficult and hence, something to be feared. That a modest living won’t be enough.

And in some ways, it’s true. The poor cannot afford healthcare. They cannot afford private schools for their children. They cannot go on vacation. They cannot even leave their hometowns sometimes to go see the beautiful world that Allah has created. In the past, travel was physically difficult, yes. But you didn’t need huge sums of money in order to travel. People could hop on their camels, horses or whatever it was and go to different places. We all know how the Sahabah and the Tabi’een traveled the world in search of knowledge and to spread the Deen, and many of them were very poor.

It’s disturbing how much of our life revolves around money. We make money in order to live a “better life”. But we spend the money. So we have to go back and make more. And then we spend our lives making money and forget to live.

I don’t want to do that.

Old Scholars

If you listen to an old Imam or shaykh, you will sometimes find it tedious to sit through the long pauses, listen to the cracked voice or try to understand the heavy accent or the old language (i.e. word choice) but you need patience.

I remember when my dad used to play a CD in our car, loaded with a lecture from an old scholar and I would groan. He told me that besides the knowledge, that would teach me patience. And it did. He taught me that I cannot dismiss people if I don’t find them immediately appealing.

It’s easy to listen to people who are good, eloquent speakers and if they are providing authentic knowledge, then go ahead and listen to them.

However, sometimes the wisdom that you need with the knowledge is only found with the older scholars, the ones who have spent their lives learning, contemplating and teaching the Deen.

Random concepts (makes sense to me)

Some people refuse to embrace themselves, with their character and personality, their strengths and weaknesses, their positive points and their flaws because they think that embracing themselves as they are will hinder their progress.

What they fail to realize, however, is that self-love is a very important motivational factor to get you where you want to be.

If we did not love ourselves enough, how would we find the motivation to go to Jannah? Why do we want ourselves to go there? Why do we want the best reward from Allah?

Also, accepting yourself as you are does not have to mean that you are happy with your current state; it just means that you stop blaming yourself all the time and instead propel yourself forward using your strengths. It means being grateful with your body and appearance, your provision, your health and your opportunities because they are all gifts from Allah. As for your spiritual condition, then you can always improve it.

The road to Tazkiyah is always open.

“Indeed, your efforts are diverse. As for he who gives and fears Allah And believes in the best [reward], We will ease him toward ease.”

Al-Layl (92: 4-7)

Our diversity of personalities will most inadvertently affect what path we decide to take towards Allah. And instead of letting that be simply a coincidence, we can deliberately use our unique talents and abilities to aid the Deed of Allah.

But it starts with loving yourself enough to do the best and the willingness to turn that into the da’wah track of your life.

Disclaimer: By “path we take towards Allah”, I do not mean any sect and any ideology. We must adhere to the Qur’an & Sunnah and the path of the Salaf but what I do mean are the modes for da’wah. For example, if you are a good writer, you can write and publish Islamic articles or if you’re a good speaker, you can make youtube videos giving advice, etc.

On Family

When young people are depressed, many of them turn to their friends for help. And others turn to the internet. Okay so what if they turn to the internet? What if they look for validation among people unknown to them?

The reality is that people tend to open up when they’re sad and that openness leads to vulnerability.

But that’s not my only point. I’m trying to get somewhere with this. When these young people lock themselves up into their own worlds (whether that be the virtual world or that of intoxication), they are consequently distancing themselves from the people who love them most-their family members.

Yes it’s true that sometimes your family does wrong you and sometimes they are the cause of your stress, but if you do not make the effort to improve your relations with them, you will always be miserable.

We always hear in Islam the importance of family ties and the danger of breaking them. Your emotional isolation may or may not count as breaking family ties, but stop for a second and think what your dad must be feeling when he asks you what you did at school and you say “nothing” or how your mom must be forcing herself to eat when you didn’t come down to dinner. Imagine what your younger brother must be feeling when you refuse to play a game of basketball with him or what your younger sister must be feeling when you refuse to read her a bedtime story.

If you’re a person who doesn’t spend much time with your family, set aside a day of your week only for them and see how happy you become. That happiness is not coincidental; it is a result of the blessings that Allah has put in spending time with your family.

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Learn enough about your lineage to facilitate keeping your ties of kinship. Forindeed keeping the ties of kinship encourages affection among the relatives, increases the wealth, and increases the lifespan.” Jami’ At-Tirmidhi (Hasan)
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari told him that a bedouin came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, while he was travelling. He asked, “Tell me what will bring me near to the Garden and keep me far from the Fire.” He replied,“Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him, perform the prayer, pay zakat, and maintain ties of kinship.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad)
Disclaimer: If you suffering from physical, mental or emotional abuse from your family or you need to be away from them for a while, that’s completely fine and you may even need to seek help from outside sources like a mentor, counselor or the authorities. What I meant by depression in this post was probably the minor kind, or the everyday struggles that keep us from giving time to our family. We all know ourselves better than others and May Allah rectify our affairs.

My Favorite Qari: Mishary Rashid Alafasy

Sometimes when people are discussing their favorite qurra’ and I say my favorite is Mishary Rashid Alafasy (hafidhuAllah), people give me that “oh-how-standard-why’d-you-pick-him” look.

What do you want me to say? Someone with a fancy reciting style? Someone who is moved to tears when he recites?

I like Mishary because:

1-I can actually observe the rules of Tajweed that I learned. He stops where I learnt to stop; he elongates the Madd the way I was taught to elongate the Madd, etc.

2-His recitation is in sync with the meaning. He seldom cries in his official recordings but you can tell when he’s reciting a calming ayah, a warning ayah or a conversational ayah simply by the way he changes his tone of voice.

3-He has a unique style for each surah, even in the way he says “Bismillah” for them sometimes, which helps if you’re trying to memorize.

The Followers of Religion

Sometimes you think that the followers of religion will understand your concerns, your dreams, your caution, your fears and your efforts. Because they practice as you do and they strive as you do, but sometimes for them you are extreme and you stand all alone in an ocean of confusion where even the life buoy can’t wait to slip out of your grip because it is too overwhelming.