Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beyond the Pale and Dark: Islam, Muslims, and Race

"You can't be a Muslim. You're white."

"You can't come in our circle because you're white and we're all black."

I don't recall where the first comment came from, but it came from a non-Muslim.

The second came from a girl at the girls' halaqah at the masjid this past week. She's young, no older than 12 at most. It's one of those things where your mouth gets ahead of your brain, or where you try to make a joke, and it comes out not only flat, but sounding far worse than you intended it to.

It was a blessing, though, because it opened my eyes. I realised, for perhaps the first time since my conversion, that non-Muslims aren't the only ones with misconceptions about who Muslims are.

As often as I talk to people who think that you have to be Arab or black to be a Muslim, there are also Muslims who think I can't be a "real" Muslim because I'm NOT Arab or black.

Where, I wondered, did this child - for that's what she is - get the idea that you have to be "brown" to be a Muslim? At a guess, most people would say "her parents". Kids are like little sponges - they soak up whatever's around, and they have no filter to separate the bad from the good.

We all have been exposed to prejudice and racism at some point in our lives. Usually it comes from a parent or another family member.

I was in my dad's truck with my dad and brother. We were driving down a road in my hometown, and we saw a black man and white woman walking on the sidewalk. They were holding hands. My dad said "If you ever date a black man, I'll disown you."

I was seven. That was my abrupt realization that skin colors exist, and that some people think those with different color skin shouldn't be together, and even that dark-skinned people were "inferior" to white people.

It was my first exposure (in my memory) to prejudice. I've never forgotten it. When I recounted the story to my dad over 10 years later, he tried to laugh it off. To pretend he'd been joking. But I'd known he wasn't. After that, I had two choices. I could choose to see people as human beings, valuable and unique individuals, or I could see them as a skin color. Guess which one I chose?

As Muslims, we are taught that race doesn't matter, that one skin color isn't better than another.

"O people, We created you from a male and female, and We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is Knowledgeable, Expert." Qur'an 49:13

"And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations
in your languages and your colors; verily in that are signs for those who know."
Quran 30:22

From the recorded Last Sermon:

"All men are equal in Islam. The Arab has no superiority over the non-Arab, nor does the non-Arab have superiority over the Arab, save in the fear of God."

(While I disregard the hadith at large, I do enjoy the last sermon, as it sums up what Muhammad spent 23 years of his life preaching. I find it utterly compatible with the Qur'an.)

If we are taught this, by both Allah through the Qur'an and also Muhammad, HOW can we claim that Islam is an exclusively Arab/black religion or that another person is somehow a "lesser" or "insincere" Muslim? When the Qur'an tells us that it is a guidance for all mankind, that Allah has completed his favor upon all humanity and named our religion as submission to Him, who are we to say otherwise? How can we look at ourselves in the mirror if we think our skin color (or language, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or anything else) makes us better than another person, also created by Allah?

Islam is not only for a certain group or groups. It is for everyone. It's for the black people, the white people, the Arab people, the Latino people, the Asian people. It's for everyone who seeks and finds peace in it. Cultivate an attitude that reflects acceptance for all, regardless of their skin color, tattoos, piercings, hair color, clothing, or anything else that makes them different from you. You never know whose heart may be opened by your welcoming attitude, or whose heart will turn to stone because of a thoughtless comment made.

My point is this: watch what you teach your kids. This includes Muslims. Kids won't get only the good and leave the bad. Prejudice is a learned attitude. We don't come with it pre-loaded on our brains.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Scary Stuff.

This happened just a few days ago. Scary stuff, but the guy is currently in jail. CAIR is pressuring the authorities to increase the bail, which is set at $2,000 at the moment.

Allah is the best of protectors. Alhamdulillah that our community was protected before this evil man could gun down innocents, either worshipers at the mosque or the children and teachers at the Islamic Academy on the same property.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mistaken for Muslim

She said she watches it regularly
to remind herself
that there are people in the world
who don't see Muslims
as people.
We forget sometimes,
because we never forget
we're people.
If we forget anything,
it's that approximately half of Americans
they don't know any Muslims.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Surah Ar-Rum (Surah 30)

This is the start of a new series of blog entries, inshAllah. This isn't going to be an analysis of Arabic grammar, vocabulary, or translation comparison, as I am no speaker or scholar of the Qur'anic Arabic language. Instead, I intend to point out chapters or verses that make an impression on me, for whatever reason, and share my perspective and understanding of them. Please keep in mind that these are strictly summaries of what I personally take away from each chapter, and that I am not wanting or requiring anyone to agree with me.

I am including a link to an online Qur'an so that you can read this chapter for yourself. It's not a long chapter.

Starting with Surah al-Fatiha would be obvious, and it has been done many times over, so I thought I'd start with a chapter I randomly came across while reading Qur'an at the masjid:

Surah Ar-Rum (Surah 30: The Romans)

This surah begins with talking about the Romans. I've compared 30:2 in multiple translations, and they translate “Ar-Rum” as follows:

Abdallah Yusuf Ali: The Roman Empire
S.V. Mir Ahmed Ali: The (east) Romans
Ali Unal: The Byzantine Romans
Maulana Muhammad Ali: The Romans
Dr. Syed Vickar Ahamed: The Romans
Tarif Khalidi: The Byzantines
Muhsin Khan: The Romans
Ahmed Ali: The Romans

N.A. Dawood and A.J. Arberry depart from the Roman theme and instead translate Ar-Rum as “The Greeks” and “The Greek empire”. I wonder how they came to that conclusion? “Greek” and “Roman” aren't exactly interchangeable.

Most interestingly of all, Abdul Hye translates it as “The Romans (Christians)”. I'm intrigued by his whole translation of those verses, which read:

“30:2 The Romans (Christians) have been defeated (by the Persians – idol worshipers)
30:3 In the nearest land (of Syria), but after their defeat, they (Allah revealed to Muhammad that Romans) will be victorious
30:4 within a few years. Allah is in command with the matter before (the defeat of the Romans by the Persians in 615 CE) and after (the defeat of the Persians by the Romans in 625 CE). On that day the believers will rejoice (for victory).”

That, however, is a study for another time. The surah continues by stating that larger, stronger empires have fallen before because they denied the messengers/warners sent to them by Allah and were consumed by their own evil ways. This verse implies that it wasn't an act by Allah which deliberately destroyed them (the first example of deliberate acts that comes to my mind is of Sodom and Gammorah, destroyed by Allah for their corruption, idol worship, and unprecedented oppression), but that they basically self-destructed. I was left with the distinct impression that Allah simply did not get involved, but allowed them to destroy themselves through their actions.

Those who reject Allah after signs have come to them through the messengers/warners and continue to worship pagan gods are warned that what they worship will be revealed as false, that on the last day they will deny their gods and it won't avail them or change their fates.

The next verse moves into describing the reward for those who believe and do good, and transitions to a command to give glory to Allah in the morning and the evening and noon, and instructs those who believe to praise only Him. (Side note: It is from these verses (30:17-18) that many Quranists I know draw their belief that we are ordered to pray/worship 3 times per day, rather than the traditionalist Sunni/Shi'a 5 times.)

Verses 20 through 25 detail some of the signs in which we can recognize the existence of Allah:

20: Creation of humanity from dust and the scattering of people throughout the world.
21: Our spouses, with whom we are supposed to dwell in love and compassion.
22: Creation of the earth and all that is in it, and in the diversity of our languages and skin colors. (I read this verse as a refutation of the (unfortunately) prevalent attitude among Muslims that Arabic is a “special holy language” and “better than/superior to” other languages. It also refutes the notion that the Qur'an's message isn't communicable in other languages, as I've often heard claimed. Does it make sense that Allah would create so many languages and make it impossible for all but one to communicate His Revelation to mankind? Nope.)
23: Sleep coming to us at night, and our natural urge to seek Allah's grace/proof of a divine creator.
24: The weather (lightning, rain).
25: That the heavens and earth follow His commands, and that we will come out of our graves at His summons.

The above verses also stress reflection, seeking knowledge, listening, and understanding as conditions to us recognizing the signs. In other words, we have to actively put in the effort. Passivity or expecting to just “magically” have faith eventually won't work.

Verse 30 is a beautiful reminder: “So set your face uprightly for religion, in natural devotion to the truth, the nature caused by Allah in which He has made people; there can be no change in Allah's creation; this is the established religion, but most people do not know.”

Wow! People have a natural inclination towards truth, which is the nature of Allah.

We are reminded to fear and worship Allah alone and establish prayer (31), and also warned not to be polytheists, who divide up their religion into sects and think their specific way is the truth. Verses 33-36 speak of those who turn to Allah only in hardship, then go back to associating partners with Him (and these can be other gods, money, people, or other things of this world) when ease has come after the hardship. Basic message: Remember Allah and be grateful to Him, in ease or hardship. Don't forget where your blessings come from.

Verse 38 again urges us to charity, both to kin and strangers. The number of times charity is stressed in the Qur'an should clue us in as to how important it is to share what we've been blessed with, and reinforces the Qur'an as a book of action, meant to be implemented in our lives, not just read.

We are shown another sign of Allah's power, namely that He brings us to life, provides for us, causes us to die at our appointed term, then will raise us up again on the last day. Verse 44 reminds us that whatever we do in this life, be it good or bad, is for ourselves alone – there is no doing good deeds for others, even if they are family members, that will affect what they will get on the last day. (See also 6:164, 39:7)

The next verses detail examples of Allah's mercy (the wind, sailing of ships, rain, sunshine, giving life to the Earth after it has withered and died). An example of those who are “fair weather faithful” is given as those who see the silt blown from their crops by the wind, and turn from faith because of their misfortune. It is also stressed that we are tested with a portion of what we've done wrong in order to give us an opportunity to return to the straight path, particularly in the case of those with wealth. (41)

Verses 52 and 53: “For you cannot make the dead hear, nor can you make the deaf hear the call when they withdraw, turning upon their heels. Nor can you lead the blind away from straying; you cannot make anyone hear except those who believe in Our Signs, for they have submitted.”

Another amazing verse, alhamdilullah. This is something important to keep in mind: We can't change the hearts and minds of others, especially in cases where people are determined that They Are Right when it comes to religion and you are “wrong”.

Verse 58: “Indeed, We have set forth for people every kind of example in this Qur'an; yet if you bring a sign to them, those who disbelieve will certainly say: “You are bringing falsehood!”

We are assured, yet again, that the Qur'an is detailed and complete for our guidance, and also that those who refuse to believe would do so even if they had been shown a sign as proof, because their hearts are sealed.

Finally, (whew, almost done here, folks!), in verse 60:

“Be patient, therefore; verily the promise of Allah is true, and let not those who have no belief in Allah make you despair of His promise.”

What a beautiful reassurance. The promise of Allah is true, so keep the faith and don't let others cause you to doubt.

Until next time, inshAllah.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Bible, Qur'an, and Hadith.

I'm actually a big fan of using the Bible in conjunction with the Qur'an in my studies. People (meaning Muslims) tend to say "Oh, it's a corrupted book" and dismiss it, but I think the Bible has a lot of wisdom to share with us. Provided that we study the Qur'an alongside it, I don't see how using both can be wrong.

If we weren't meant to use the two together, why would the Qur'an have been sent as the corrected book? Why were we told to ask the Christians and Jews (those who had the book before us) if we were in doubt about what was revealed (the Qur'an), if the Bible was so utterly unreliable? I think Muslims do themselves a great disservice by not studying the Bible.

It's because they refuse to study the Bible (unless it's to find proof of how Jesus isn't God according to the Bible) that they feel the need to resort to the manmade, truly corrupted books of hadith.

The hadith, quite frankly, make me angry. They ensure that Muslims are seen all over the world as backward, primitive, tribal people who see women as property and merely the outlets for mens' sexual urges. They're why people think Muhammad married and had sex with a child and why they think he murdered or ordered the murders of those who opposed him. They're why so many Muslims take pagan superstitions (against black dogs, photos of living things, etc) as religious edict instead of the cultural baggage that they really are.

Even lifelong Muslims can't see the Qur'an for the hadith, because their perceptions have been warped and dictated by scholars their entire lives. They've been brainwashed to think that Allah isn't enough, that the Qur'an Alone isn't enough, that you can't think for yourself in matters of religion because you "aren't a scholar" and "don't have the right education" for it, and that we need more than that to believe, live, and die as Muslims.

And so they conclude that you can't be a Muslim without the hadith. That Islam is incomplete without the hadith, despite the fact that Allah explicitly stated several times in the Qur'an that it was complete, detailed, and the guidance for Muslims.

People don't really trust in Allah's mercy and forgiveness, and because we don't have "Jesus-as-God", they feel they have to make up false "get out of jail free" cards like "fasting on the day of Arafat erases your sins for a year back and a year forward". Because of that lack of trust, people feel such fake "reassurances" are necessary. But when you truly trust in the goodness and mercy of Allah, you're willing to take Him at His word and don't try to make up such crutches.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gratefulness and Patience in Hardship

"And We will test you with some fear and hunger, and a shortage in money and lives and fruits. And give good news to those who are patient." Qur'an 2:155

Times when we have come upon financial hardship, when jobs are few or pay too little, we need to be patient and remember Allah and be grateful to Him for all He has given (and will give) to us. He is Most Merciful, Most Generous.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

On the Qur'an

You don't passively read the Qur'an. You read it, you think about what you've read, then you implement the teachings. The Qur'an is a book of action that urges us to improve ourselves and the world around us through DOING.


The Qur'an doesn't change, but what we absorb of it on a daily basis does. Our life circumstances and personal experiences affect what we see each time we seek guidance from the Qur'an -- maybe you had a bad day at work, and you find something that tells you to be patient, or something else happens, and you find verses that apply to that situation and provide guidance and comfort. I know I can take away something new from the same verse depending on my mood, what I've been thinking about during the day, and what my day has been like. In this way, I believe the Qur'an is an endless font of guidance and comfort that brings forth the bounty we need as we need and seek it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stop the Defense.

"Lately people sayin', stuff about my Prophet
They see our numbers rising, so they make him a target
Agitate the Muslims, get money in their pocket
We just work to spread the truth and make sure people got it

Like how he treated neighbors with all the love and care
Examples that he gave us, to be honest and fair
How to be forgiving, respecting every faith
Giving rights to the women, at war how to behave

The women and the children and every innocent
Should be protected no matter how oppressed we get
So we know they’re saying stuff about the Prophet that ain’t true
They did that at the prophets time so this ain’t nothing new

Did he worry what the people said after he passed
Or was he more concerned about us doing what he asked
Do our deeds tell the story of the man he was
A Mercy to Mankind, lets show the world his love

- Native Deen, "Mercy to Mankind"

Just stop. All of you, all of the Muslims in Libya, in Sudan, and anywhere else who are reacting in a violent and barbaric manner to the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims".


And think.

All the prophets have faced slander and defamation of character, both in their lifetimes and in the many years since.

Did that hinder their mission: to deliver the message?


But your behavior sets us all back. Anti-Muslim sentiment in the US is at an all-time high. I suspect the same is true in many other countries around the world.

And you're doing nothing but confirming the stereotypes: that Muslims are violent and barbaric people who think nothing of stoning innocent people to death but will rise up in violence if a single word is said against Muhammad.

This is a test for us. And you are failing the test. Instead of forgiveness, you result to violence. Instead of love, you embody hatred. I'm sure that, if Muhammad were here, if any and all of the prophets were here, they would be sorely distressed at you allowing slander to be an excuse for murder and brutality.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, as Ghandi says. Hate for hate leaves the whole world loveless.

Don't be a part of the problem. Be the solution.

Forgive. Forgive and show love, not hate. Don't be the stereotype of a Muslim - be the reality, so that when someone says "all Muslims are violent and backwards", your friends, family, and all who know you will say "No, they aren't. Here is the truth."

Show the world the mercy and love shown by all the prophets. Don't fight and kill because of an insult. As the best of people at their times, the prophets don't need us to defend them. Allah is their protector. We do, however, need to defend ourselves -- by behaving in a manner that reflects that of our prophets, who were all good examples for us to follow.

Allah, forgive us all and be patient with us. We still have so far to go.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Letter to my Muslim friends

My dear Muslim friends,

I have a high regard and love for all of you, but I have to get this off my chest. I do not and cannot believe much of what you do, so please stop expecting me to.

I am tired of being expected to believe every single thing that the ummah, in general, does. I'm tired of individual interpretations being "wrong" and religious determinations being left to scholars to decide, as if we don't have our own brains to think and reason with. I don't want to trust the fate of my soul to anyone on Earth but myself, and I doubt "but such-and-such scholar/this or that hadith said to do it" is going to suffice as an excuse for following superstition and falsehood, or the conjecture of other people. Allah gave you a brain and reason and free will to decide for yourself, not to be told what to do every moment of every day by the hadith and scholars.

I'm tired of people telling me Islam has rules, when the rules and customs they believe are not Qur'anic, but usually Persian or Arab culture confused for religion. Once you remove the culture from the Qur'an's teachings, Islam becomes what it was meant to be: easy for us, not a hardship, and for all mankind, not just the Arabs of centuries past.

I'm tired of women obsessing about each other's hijab, as if piety can be measured by the clothing you wear. Keep women talking about clothes, and you'll never have to worry about them coming to together to demand equal participation and rights in the mosque or society. Keep women believing they can't pray, read the Qur'an, or fast during their periods (despite 2:222, which forbids men from approaching their wives during menses, but doesn't forbid for women any spiritual practice), and you force them into a state of spiritual deprivation. ENOUGH. Don't lie to me and tell me my Lord thinks me unclean because of a bodily process HE CREATED. The Qur'an says Allah always hears our prayers. Always. What the Qur'an permits, or does not address, I will do. I will not hold as discouraged or forbidden what Allah did not.

I'm sick of segregation between men and women, especially in the mosque. The segregation hypersexualizes male/female relationships, making "temptation" much more of a problem than it would be if we weren't segregated. And really, are you THAT attracted to every man or woman you meet, or even a fraction of those you meet? Of course not.

I'm tired of the gossiping and backbiting, and the way some people say, with such certainty, that another person or group is going to Hell because those people don't believe every last detail like they do. Are you Allah, that you know what is in others' hearts?

I'm tired of hearing people say that they want to "get more rewards" for doing good, rather than do good out of love for others, and of hearing people trying to quantify the blessings of Allah, as if the reward He has planned for us is even comprehensible for us.

I'm tired of people saying that recitation of the Qur'an in Arabic (when you don't speak Arabic) is better than reading an English translation and reflecting on what you've read. (This despite the fact that we are ORDERED by Allah to read and reflect upon the Qur'an!) I'm tired of being treated as if I'm ignorant because I'm a convert. I don't need a scholar to "guide" me to the "right path". My guide is Allah, my guidance the Qur'an. Trusting Him, I will never be led astray.

I'm tired of people elevating Muhammad above Jesus, Abraham, Lot, Noah, and all of the other prophets. I didn't reject the trinity concept of Christianity only to worship another man alongside the Lord of the Universe. The name of Muhammad is on the wall of the masjid beside that of Allah, Muhammad's name is in the ritual prayers, yet Muslims will deride Christians as polytheists for worshipping Jesus. Well, at least the Christians are honest about their attitude towards Jesus, while the ummah, by and large, continues to play ostrich and stick its collective head in the sand, ignoring the level of devotion (read:worship) directed at Muhammad. You may tell me it's not like that, and maybe for you, personally, it isn't. But by and large, it is. I say this as someone who has been on the outside looking in as a Christian, and then on the inside, as a Muslimah who recognized the wrongness of the Trinity concept and left Christianity as a result. My eyes are wide open, and I won't close them - associating partners with God is the same, no matter what you claim. Your willful blindness doesn't change the truth.

Don't misunderstand me: I love Prophet Muhammad as I love all of the prophets, but I will not elevate him above any of them. (2:136 "Say: "We believe in God and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to the prophets from their Lord; we do not make a distinction between any of them and to Him we submit.")

Above all, I'm sick of people saying Islam is incomplete without the hadith, when Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, tells us in His revelation that the Qur'an is complete, fully detailed, and full of examples for people who reflect. What hadith other than the Qur'an will you believe? (77:50) Some people even have the gall to say that Allah "forgot" to put something in the Qur'an. Allah does not forget!

When I converted to Islam, I became a Muslim, not an Arab. I will not change my name, my clothes, my language, or my culture to conform to an Arab-centric mindset.

I'm not asking you to agree with me or trying to "be right", and I'm not judging you. I'm just being honest and stating my views. I'm not afraid of being shunned by you. If you don't agree and still want to be my friend, we'll agree to disagree in peace, and focus on what we have in common, not on our differences. If you don't want to be my friend, fine. I will tell you goodbye with no reproach or resentment in my heart, wish you the best, and go on about my life, and on the Last Day, I will have peace in my heart because I will know that I strove with all my heart and mind to love Allah and submit myself to Him.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Last Sermon

People reference the last sermon as "proof" for Muslims being required to follow both Qur'an and sunnah/hadith, but ignore the fact that there are THREE recorded versions of the last sermon. A reported 10,000 people attended that sermon, yet even then they couldnl't come to a consensus on which version was said. The third is the most ignored, yet it is also the one most in keeping with the teachings of the Qur'an. Hmmm....

Three versions of the Sermon:

1) I leave with you Quran and Sunnah, Muwatta, 46/3
2) I leave with you Quran and Ahl al-bayt (meaning the family of the Prophet) , Muslim 44/4, Nu2408; ibn hanbal 4/366; darimi 23/1, nu 3319.
3) I leave for you the Quran alone; you shall uphold it. Muslim 15/19, nu 1218; ibn Majah 25/84, Abu dawud 11/56.

Food for Thought.

"When you admire someone, you adopt their principles, and when you idolize someone, you imitate them."

I found this quote recently and it made quite an impact on me (although, to my regret, I don't remember where I read it or who said it - if I come across it again, I'll post the source).

This is important food for thought, particularly for Muslims. So many Muslims are convinced that it is *impossible* to be a Muslim and yet not follow (imitate) the hadith/sunnah attributed to Prophet Muhammad. It's important to clarify that the hadith are ATTRIBUTED to him. We don't know that he ever said or did even a portion of what people claim -- people who weren't there at the time, but said they were told by someone who was told by someone who was told by someone else what someone else saw or heard him do. In any other field of study, such a method of validation would be mocked and laughed off, not taken seriously.

But I digress.

Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but you run the risk of committing shirk. There's a fine line between respecting and admiring someone and worshipping them. This is particularly true when it comes to the prophets, the messengers of Allah sent to convey the message and warn those who do not believe in God to repentance.

The prophets told us "God is one. Worship only Him." That's precisely what they did. I encourage you all (and myself) to adopt their principles instead of imitating them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Transferability of Sin

I had a Muslimah friend tell me the other day that we shouldn't give money to homeless people because if they use it to buy alcohol or drugs it counts against us as one of our sins.

Yeah, you read that right. We are accountable for someone else's choice.

....REALLY? She honestly believed this to be true.

But the Qur'an says:

35:18 "And none can carry the load of another; and even if it calls on another to bear part of its load, no other can carry any part of it, even if they were related..."

74:38 "Every soul is accountable for their own sins."

Nobody is held responsible for anyone else's sins but their own. Period. You have no control over anyone else, and they have no control over you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thoughts on Ramadan.

Ramadan is scarcely two days away. This is a joyous month, of prayer, fasting, reflection, and Qur'an study. A month to give in charity, particularly to the hungry, and to give thanks for all that we are blessed with and too often take for granted.

I've noticed a trend that greatly disturbs me. The trend is "Here's a list of these volunteer events. Come join in and maximize your hasanat (rewards from God) in Ramadan!"

This scares me a bit, to be honest. It ignores the fact that we should be charitable and help others out of love for our fellow human beings, regardless of faith or lack thereof. Instead, it advocates doing good so that you'll be rewarded by God. Selfish motives over selfless.

The Qur'an tells us that fasting is ordained for us (Muslims) as it was for those before us (Jews and Christians) so that we may become righteous. (Qur'an 2:183)

What was ordained, specifically? Well, if we refer to the previous book, the Torah and Gospel, (as the Qur'an instructs us to do if we are in doubt or confusion about something the Qur'an contains), it says:

[Matthew 6:16] “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

[Isaiah 58:3] "Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,

4 and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,

5 only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

6 to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry

7 and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

8 and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;

9 you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

10 and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always."

In short: Fasting is not about you. It is about others. Free the enslaved and oppressed, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless. Don't gossip, pass blame, or bicker with people.

So take a step back, take a breath, and remember, when someone starts talking about "rewards": "It's not about me."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New blog!

Salams to all! I wanted to share the link to my new blog with all of you: . I'll be chronicling my experiences as I downsize the clutter and chaos in my life and in my home. I hope you'll stop by!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Question time!

Salam aleikum, all. Sorry I've be incommunicado for so long! I'm popping in to ask a question. Question: How many of my (non-Muslim) friends here would be willing to attend and observe a Friday prayer service, go to a class on Islam, or some other activity (festival, interfaith event, etc) at a mosque? If not, why? If you have been to such an event in the past, but would not be willing to go again, why wouldn't you? Share this with your friends! I want as many answers from as many people as possible.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


The hadith say this:

The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Follow the way of the largest group of Muslims! For, he who deviates from this group will be thrown into Hell!" (Ibn Majah)

The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) advised us to remain firm with the largest group of Muslims and remain steadfast upon their way in beliefs and in actions.

The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Allah will never allow my Ummah to unite upon misguidance and incorrect beliefs. Allah's mercy, blessings and protection are with the largest group of Muslims. And he who deviates from this largest group of Muslims will be thrown into Hell." (Tirmizi)

The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "He who deviates from the largest group of Muslims, even as much as a hand span, has himself cut off his connection with Islam". (Abu Dawud)

But the Qur'an says this:

6:116 "And if you obey most of those on the earth they will lead you away from the path of God; that is because they follow conjecture, and that is because they only guess."

Anyone else see a problem here?

Get away from me; I never knew you.

I've been thinking all week on the ever-worsening reputations of Muslims in society at large. It occurred to me that non-Muslims associate all Muslims as one big group, with no different interpretations of the Qur'an, and that we are not viewed as normal people of faith with a random extremist thrown in -- we're viewed as extremists with a random rational person thrown in. Why?

I think this is because the ummah, generally speaking, accepts and defends people who claim the label of "Muslim", regardless of what their actions proclaim their true beliefs to be.

This also ties in with the question I've gotten from Muslims regarding my military service: "How can you fight against and kill your fellow Muslims?"

Answer: Extremists and terrorists are not my fellow Muslims. By committing (or attempting to commit) violent acts that will injure and/or kill innocent people, they show themselves to not be Muslims at all, just blood-thirsty, sick individuals who try to claim theological justification for their horrifying actions.

As Muslims, we should vocally and persistently deny these people who have the audacity to say they are also Muslims. I know that it's hard to do when the media doesn't want to show ANYTHING positive about Muslims, including us denouncing such violence. But if we don't do it, people are still going to accuse us of standing silent, and thereby condoning what has been done. Should we apologize for what they do? No, because when we apologize, we are saying that we are somehow also responsible. Don't take responsibility for one person or handful of people's personal choices! Christians don't feel the need to apologize for the existence of the KKK, the actions of Jim Jones, Anders Behring Breivik, the Army of God, the hatred and bigotry of the Westboro Baptist Church, or any of the other groups or individuals who act in ways completely contradictory to the teachings of Jesus. So why do we feel obligated to apologize for our own handful of crazy people?

I say: If you commit or intend to commit violent acts of terror against innocent people, YOU ARE NOT A MUSLIM. You are not my brother or sister in Islam, because your behavior shows that you do not believe in peace, acceptance, forgiveness, and working with those of different faiths to find our common ground. You are just a psychopath, and your beliefs are NOTHING like mine.

To paraphrase the words of Prophet Jesus, "Get away from me; I never knew you."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's called Google, people.

Ten years. Ten years we've been at war with extremists in predominantly Muslim countries.

After all those years, don't you think that all military and DOD civilians should be able to tell if a book is a copy of the Qur'an? You only need to read two words: "Al-Qur'an al-Kareem". That's it. If you are tasked with disposing of copies of the Qur'an because said books had extremist sentiments scribbled in them by detainees, and you know that the Muslim populace of the country gets PISSED if you disrespect their holy book, don't you think you should...oh, I don't know... find out proper disposal procedures? Even if there weren't a few hundred locals on post you could ask, there's always our good friend Google. But you couldn't be bothered to find out. Why surprised, then, when some of the local nationals who work on the base find the half-burnt Qur'ans and word spreads like wildfire?

BAF, you are fail.

On another note, let me tell you about the guy who came through my line at work last night. He walked up to my register with his stuff and asked "What's that thing on your head?" When I told him it's called a hijab and that I am a Muslim, he said -- get this -- "Oh, is that like Buddha, then? You rub his belly for luck and pray to him?" >>>>>>.<<<<<<< REALLY?!?!?!?! My answer: "No."

He was all "I don't mean to be rude, I'm just curious", but his tone was rude and he had a smirk on his face the whole time. Either he was intentionally being a moron or he REALLY needs a copy of "Islam for Dummies: Redneck Edition". *facepalm*

EDIT: I just read that two soldiers (reports on whether they were NATO or American vary) have been killed, bringing the combined Afghan and coalition total to 14 since this riot began 3 days ago. May Allah grant them peace in the next life and forgiveness for their killer. InshaAllah there will be peace in Afghanistan one day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Half a baby step forward, 200 steps back.

You know, some days I think the image of Muslims in society at large is improving and that people are starting to realize that Muslims are normal people with jobs and families and mortgages and prayers to say and lawns to trim and litter pans to clean--- and then the news puts out an article like this and calls a terrorist and would-be murderer a "devout Muslim". -.-

The title of this article? Underwear Bomber Abdulmutallab: "Proud to Kill in the Name of God"

>.< Glad I'm going to the mosque tomorrow...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Paws 4 Pogo

A friend of mine, Mandi, is a 100% service-disabled Navy vet. Her service dog, Pogo, is a rescue who was later trained to her current occupation. Pogo has a torn ACL (ligament) in her leg and needs a very expensive surgery ($3,500) to have it repaired. Due to her disabled status, Mandi is unable to work and is on a fixed income. She can't afford Pogo's surgery alone, and is largely confined to her home without her service dog due to her disability.

Here's where we can help! A fundraising campaign has been started at:

Paws 4 Pogo -

If you can donate, please consider doing so. Pass the word along to your family and friends through social networking. Please help us to reach our goal ASAP, as Pogo is in a lot of pain and suffers each day that she doesn't get this surgery.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sunnah in the Qur'an

A lot of people think you have to have the hadith to provide the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. They say the Qur'an contains no sunnah. I'm sorry, your Qur'an must be different from mine. Mine contains a staggering number of questions by the people and directly answered by Allah. I'm going through them all to make sure, but wanted to provide the list I made to those who are interested.


Chapter 2
2:8 2:11 2:13 2:14 2:25 2:26 2:58 2:76 2:79 2:80 2:91 2:93 2:94 2:97 2:102 2:104 2:111 2:113 2:120 2:135 2:136 2:139 2:140 2:142 2:156 2:170 2:189 2:201 2:215 2:217 2:219 2:220 2:222
Chapter 3
3:7 3:15 3:16 3:20 3:26 3:29 3:31 3:32 3:61 3:64 3:73 3:84 3:93 3:95 3:98 3:99 3:119 3:154 3:165 3:168 3:181 3:183
Chapter 4
4:46 4:72 4:75 4:77 4:78 4:81 4:127 4:141 4:150 4:171 4:176
Chapter 5
5:4 5:17 5:18 5:19 5:41 5:59 5:60 5:61 5:68 5:76 5:77 5:83 5:100 5:104 5:109 5:116 5:119
Chapter 6
6:7 6:11 6:12 6:14 6:15 6:19 6:23 6:25 6:27 6:31 6:37 6:40 6:46 6:47 6:50 6:53 6:54 6:56 6:57 6:58 6:63 6:64 6:65 6:66 6:71 6:90 6:91 6:105 6:109 6:124 6:135 6:143 6:144 6:145 6:147 6:148 6:149 6:150 6:151 6:156 6:157 6:158 6:161 6:162 6:164
Chapter 7
7:28 7:29 7:32 7:33 7:37 7:43 7:47 7:53 7:95 7:158 7:161 7:169 7:173 7:187 7:188 7:195 7:203
Chapter 8
8:1 8:31
Chapter 9
9:24 9:49 9:50 9:51 9:52 9:53 9:61 9:64 9:65 9:81 9:83 9:86 9:94 9:105 9:124 9:129
Chapter 10
10:15 10:16 10:18 10:20 10:21 10:28 10:31 10:34 10:35 10:38 10:41 10:48 10:49 10:50 10:53 10:58 10:59 10:69 10:101 10:102 10:104 10:108
Chapter 11
11:7 11:8 11:12 11:13 11:18 11:35
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
13:7 13:16 13:27 13:30 13:33 13:36 13:43
Chapter 14
14:30 14:44
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
16:24 16:27 16:32 16:101 16:102 16:103
Chapter 17
17:24 17:42 17:47 17:50 17:51 17:56 17:80 17:81 17:84 17:85 17:88 17:93 17:95 17:96 17:100 17:107 17:108 17:110 17:111
Chapter 18
18:22 18:24 18:26 18:29 18:39 18:49 18:83 18:103 18:109 18:110
Chapter 19
19:26 19:75
Chapter 20
20:40 20:47 20:97 20:104 20:105 20:114 20:135
Chapter 21
21:4 21:24 21:38 21:42 21:45 21:46 21:108 21:109
Chapter 22
22:49 22:68 22:72
Chapter 23
23:28 23:29 23:84 23:85 23:86 23:87 23:88 23:89 23:93 23:97 23:109 23:118
Chapter 24
24:47 24:51 24:53 24:54
Chapter 25
25:6 25:15 25:17 25:27 25:57 25:60 25:63 25:65 25:74 25:77
Chapter 26
26:16 26:203 26:216
Chapter 27
27:59 27:64 27:65 27:69 27:71 27:72 27:84 27:92 27:93
Chapter 28
28:47 28:49 28:53 28:55 28:63 28:65 28:71 28:72 28:74 28:75 28:85
Chapter 29
29:2 29:10 29:20 29:29 29:46 29:50 29:52 29:55 29:61 29:63
Chapter 30
30:42 30:58
Chapter 31
31:21 31:25
Chapter 32
32:3 32:11 32:28 32:29
Chapter 33
33:16 33:17 33:63 33:66 33:67
Chapter 34
34:3 34:22 34:23 34:24 34:25 34:26 34:27 34:29 34:30 34:34 34:36 34:39 34:41 34:46 34:47 34:48 34:49 34:50 34:52
Chapter 35
35:34 35:40
Chapter 36
36:48 36:52 36:79
Chapter 37
37:18 37:36 37:52 37:151 37:167
Chapter 38
38:65 38:67 38:86
Chapter 39
39:8 39:9 39:10 39:11 39:13 39:14 39:15 39:38 39:39 39:43 39:44 39:46 39:53 39:56 39:57 39:64
Chapter 40
40:11 40:48 40:50 40:66 40:74
Chapter 41
41:6 41:9 41:13 41:21 41:29 41:44 41:47 41:50 41:52
Chapter 42
42:15 42:23 42:24 42:45
Chapter 43
43:9 43:77 43:81 43:89
Chapter 45
45:25 45:26
Chapter 46
46:4 46:8 46:9 46:10 46:11 46:17 46:34
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
48:11 48:15
Chapter 49
49:14 49:16 49:17
Chapter 52
52:30 52:31 52:33 52:44
Chapter 54
54:2 54:8 54:44
Chapter 56
56:47 56:49
Chapter 62
62:6 62:8 62:11
Chapter 63
63:1 63:7 63:8
Chapter 64
Chapter 66
Chapter 67
67:23 67:24 67:25 67:26 67:28 67:29 67:30
Chapter 68
Chapter 69
69:19 69:25
Chapter 72
72:1 72:20 72:21 72:22 72:25
Chapter 74
Chapter 78
Chapter 79
Chapter 83
Chapter 99
Chapter 109
Chapter 112
Chapter 113
Chapter 114

I'd say that a pretty comprehensive question/answer list. : )

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Show me the proof!

If someone is going to say things to me like "You won't enter jannah unless you love the prophet more than you love yourself", you'd better back it up with Qur'anic proof. If you can't find that proof, then perhaps you'd better re-evaluate the stuff you're parroting that you've heard from other people.

Believe what you want. I support that completely. But I will not accept the hadith as proof of an assertion in lieu of evidence from the Qur'an.

3:78 "And from among them is a group who twist their tongues with the Book so that you may think it is from the Book, while it is not from the Book, and they say it is from God while it is not from God, and they say about God lies while they know."

So bring it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New year, healthier me.

I went running on Saturday for the first time in 6 months (okay, going on 7). It was just around the block. So why are my legs sore?! I guess I'm going to have to start all over on the running front... : ( I was running 4 miles with no problem. Not the fastest time (okay, I'm really the slowest kid alive), but the point is that I could DO IT. -.- I hate the first bit when I go back to running. It sucks.

However, I am utterly determined that I will NOT be the fat girl at my high school reunion! Yes, my 10-year reunion is this year. I will NOT be fat! Will not will not will not! Running, in combo with balanced diet, is my most effective source of weight loss.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quranist Belief: the Myths and the Realities

I've noticed a lot of anti-Quranist sentiment among Sunni/Shi'a Muslims, so I figured I'd do a post to clear up some of the utterly mistaken things that are said about Quranists and our beliefs. Granted, many of those things were on Yahoo Answers' Ramadan section, and I know you sisters here are brighter than that bunch, but it doesn't hurt to clarify things.

What Quranists are:

Muslims who believe the Qur'an is the revelation of Allah and that Muhammad is the last in a long line of prophets sent from Allah.

Sounds like Sunni and Shi'a and everybody else, right?

What Quranists aren't:

Followers of Rashid Khalifa. The most common accusation levelled against Quranists is that we believe Rashid Khalifa was a prophet.

This is false. FALSE. I don't know a single person who believes he was a prophet, or thinks much of him at all. When we do discuss him, we give him props for having the guts to say "Follow the Qur'an Alone. Worship Allah alone.", but in no way, shape, form, or fashion do we consider him a prophet. Actually, most of the people I've talked with consider him to have had a great idea but that he went coo coo for Cocoa Puffs after that.

We do not reject Prophet Muhammad. We reject the near-worship of him and the emphasis that is placed on him above all other prophets. The Qur'an instructs us not to elevate any prophet above another and not to make partners of anyone with Allah. What do you think the shahada does? Singles out Muhammad and joins his name with that of Allah.

Muhammad, in traditional Sunni/Shi'a practice, IS a partner with Allah. You don't see people react to cartoons of Jesus or Moses or Abraham with the outrage and hysteria that they do if someone makes a cartoon of Muhammad. People wish blessings on Muhammad because they think he can intercede for them -- despite the Qur'an saying that no one but Allah will be able to intercede for anyone on the last day, that Muhammad was just a warner, that he had no power over belief or disbelief, that no one shall bear another's sins.

When the Qur'an says "obey the Messenger", it doesn't mean copy every single thing Muhammad supposedly did or said and invoke his name so your prayers will be heard. It means to follow his teachings: the oneness of God, equality of the prophets, belief in the last day, and to deal with each other in kindness.

On Hadith:

There are a couple of different perspectives regarding hadith.

Some Quranists believe that you can accept the hadith that do not contradict or add to the Qur'an, but that you should interpret the hadith you accept only as good advice, not as guidance or a source of divine law. Others believe that you should not accept any hadith, period, but only the Qur'an.

By rejecting part or all of the hadith, we aren't rejecting the sunnah. Consider the many examples in the Qur'an where Allah instructed Muhammad to answer the believers. "Say:" is how it always began. These are the true sunnah. The Qur'an describes itself as the best hadith.

If you insist on having secondary sources to the Qur'an, the Qur'an tells us what our authorized sources are: the Torah and Gospel of Jesus! Being Muslim does not mean you exclude the other books from study. The three should be used in conjunction, to verify and clarify what is right and what is wrong.

Qur'an 10:94 "If you are in doubt regarding what We have sent down to you, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before you. The truth has come to you from your Lord, so do not be of those who doubt."

As Quranists, one of our highest ideals is to respect other faiths and other interpretations of Islam, so don't think I'm trashing your beliefs. I'm not. All I'm saying is: know what you believe and why. Be able to back it up. Be able to look at your beliefs with a critical eye and find answers to your questions.

For me, the beauty of Quran Alone is that it makes Islam simple again. It removes the cultural traditions and supersitions of the hadith and gives us the book revealed to and followed by Muhammad, untainted by centuries of "scholarly interpretation".

Do you seriously think you need a scholar to tell you what to think so that you can understand the Qur'an "correctly"? ("Correctly", of course, being that scholar's own POV.) Would you call Allah a liar by saying the Qur'an is too holy to be understood by the layperson and requires hadith to clarify it, when He says that it is a clear, detailed book of guidance for all mankind?