2 Extremely Valuable Lessons Everybody Ought To Learn From The People of Musa!

Very early in the Quran (2:49 onwards), we encounter the narrative of Musa and his people. In my view, his people demonstrate some of the most fundamental errors religionists commit when approaching religion. Reflecting upon these short-comings, and thereby gaining wisdom and inspiration from them is the purpose of this blog.

If you’ve read the Quran, you would be well aware that it delves extensively on the narratives of previous communities. The purpose of this is not to provide history for the sake of it, but so that we, as readers of the Quran, benefit by not making the same mistakes people have been making for centuries. As the prime focus of the Quran is the evolution of humankind, these narratives encourage us to reflect upon the actions of historic people, thereby transcending their paradigms.

However, reflecting upon the condition of the contemporary Muslim Ummah, it comes as no surprise that we have horribly failed in that task, and are in actuality, no different from them. Naturally, until there is an active effort to acknowledge our mistakes, change seems like a distant possibility.

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Musa (Salutes and respect) was no ordinary man. He was a revolutionary figure, and a very holistic example of taking a stand against oppression, no matter the resistance at hand. Such was the caliber of the man, that not only was he a spiritual activist, he was a political activist too; a role model for all of us to emulate and draw inspiration from. Yet, his people — the children of Israel — come off as extremely hypocritical and ungrateful for his service; constantly nagging him by making unreasonable demands (Quran 33:69) against the moral code (Deen) he brought forward.

So, here are the 2 lessons that I would encourage you to reflect upon.

 

Lesson No. 1: Giving preference to secondary sources over the primary source

“You said, “O Moses! We are weary of the same kind of food, so ask your Lord on our behalf to bring forth for us plant food such as herbs, cucumbers, garlic, lentils and onions.” He said, “Would you exchange something superior for something inferior? Go back in shame to Egypt and you will get what you demand…” (Part – Quran, 2:61)

Let me start off by announcing that I disagree with the traditional interpretation here. It certainly goes against reason that God would condemn somebody just because they asked for some vegetables. Clearly, the matter at hand seems to be of a greater significance. Alas, when you interpret metaphors literally, it’s always bound to come off as somewhat absurd.

In my humble opinion and rendering of the Quran, food, here, symbolizes nourishment. Even in English, we use idioms like “food for thought”, “chew on that”, “meaty discussions” and so forth. Therefore, one must be observant of the style of language that is being used, and not interpret everything literally. Even God warns against a completely literalistic interpretation in 2:26 and 3:7.

Now, what is obvious from the verse is that they were not satisfied with one food, and that Musa was quite annoyed with this demand of theirs. There can be multiple interpretations drawn from this, but the way I see it is that they were trying to substitute the primary source of nourishment (one food) that Musa brought (Scripture) with other ideologies. This was not a unique occurring, mind you. Even Mohammad was asked to “alter the Quran” or bring a new book altogether (Quran 10:16). Viewing it in this light, of course, justifies the anger and disappointment of Musa, considering how much he had done for his people.

Quite ironically, Muslims have done the same thing. Instead of sticking to the Quran as the sole source of guidance and nourishment pertinent to Islam, we have opted for the herbs, cucumbers, garlic, lentils and onions – these being the in-numerous teachings taken from secondary sources that have no basis in the Quran whatsoever! Now don’t get me wrong, my problem is not with literature and diversity in thought! Rather, the problem obviously lies in giving preference to these secondary sources over and above the Quran, thereby attributing teachings like blasphemy & apostasy laws, child marriage and death by stoning to Islam.

Yes, in Musa’s words, exchanging the superior for the inferior. 

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The verse continues:
So, humiliation and misery were stamped upon them and they had to face God’s requital. That was because they kept rejecting God’s messages. And they persisted in opposing and even killing some Prophets against all right. They did all this, because they chose to rebel and went on transgressing.” (Quran 2:61)

Can there be any truer reflection of the condition of the “Muslim Ummah” today? Quite incredibly, the verse portrays its timelessness. Without a doubt, we have incurred humiliation and misery because Islam, like any other ideology, has been grossly misused and turned into a political tool to manipulate people in the name of God, all the while denying God’s words in the Quran.

And instead of reforming, we persist in defending these barbaric laws in the name of Islam and consciously assassinate the characters of our Prophets by attributing downright disgraceful stuff to them. The problem, to a large extent, is internal. And God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves! (Quran 13:11)

 

Lesson No. 2: Substituting substance for form.

And remember, Moses said to his people, “Indeed, God commands you to sacrifice a cow.” They said, “Do you mock us?” He replied, “I seek shelter with God from being among the ignorant who mock people.”

(Now, they started making excuses.) They said, “Ask your Sustainer on our behalf to enlighten us as to what kind of a cow she is.” He answered, “Indeed, He says that she is a cow neither too old nor too young. She is between the two conditions. Do, then, as commanded.”

(Then) they said, “Ask for us your Sustainer that He enlighten us as to what color she is.” He answered, “He says that she is a yellow cow. Bright is her color, pleasing to beholders.”

(Again) they said, “Call upon your Sustainer that He make it clear to us what exactly she is. To us all cows are much alike. If God so wills, we shall be rightly guided.”

He answered, “Indeed, He says it is to be a cow that has not toiled in tilling the land nor in watering the crops and it is whole and healthy, unblemished.” They said, “Finally, you bring out a concrete description!” So they sacrificed her, although they would rather not have done it. (Quran 2:67-71)

This passage, quite remarkably, covers the phenomenon of being obsessed with meaningless and irrelevant details on part of religionists – painfully failing to observe the bigger picture.

Let’s take the example of prayer. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some pretty horrible experiences in mosques. There’s always that guy who wants to correct others on “the right way” to pray. The right way to stand, the right way to bow, the right way to prostrate, the right way to fold your hands and so forth. I mean, it’s absolutely ridiculous to think that God wants us all to be robots! By focusing all your attention on these ridiculously useless and minute details, the fundamental purpose of Salat (read: connection) is often overlooked; unfortunately becoming a mundane, mechanical way of fulfilling your obligations.

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I, at least, wouldn’t look forward to such an autonomous prayer where every move of yours had to be calculated. Prayer should be a natural extension of ourselves, not an obligation to get done within 5 minutes. That, after all, defeats the whole purpose of Salat; for if there is no spiritual connection, how would it contribute to our betterment?

Sometimes, I’m just amazed at the irony.

Final Thoughts

I have always marveled at these two teachings of the Quran, and how simply they outline some of the major errors people fall prey to, when it comes to religion. It would be an understatement to say that these two passages have had an enormous affect on me. But you’ve got to give the book a chance for that to happen! It wouldn’t happen magically, while your Quran rests on your cupboard.

They say, “History repeats itself.” Well, of course! And it will not cease to repeat until we change the way we approach religion: perhaps it is time we stop being penny wise, and pound foolish.

 

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Music: Forbidden in Islam?

The topic of music is one that is much discussed among Muslims, especially the youth. The web is full of humongous articles outlining the tiniest details of which instruments are allowed (if any), and the forums are full of questions regarding music. At a time when we should be focusing on matters like education, justice, and human rights; we’re still stuck at an almost laughable issue: Whether it is permissible for a Muslim to listen to music or not? But let’s not digress; and get to the heart of the matter.

In traditional Islamic thought, it is widely believed that music is forbidden in Islam as it is considered a mere waste of time that may have negative effects on the listener, and thus deter people from practicing Islam. The Hadith contain contradictory rulings on the subject of music, with some allowing it and others forbidding it. Hence, both the proponents and opponents of music justify their position by quoting Hadith that support their viewpoint.

To judge whether a thing is forbidden in Islam from a contradictory secondary source would not be a very wise choice. Let us then explore this topic from the Quran, as it acts as a Furqan (Criterion) over any other secondary source.

But before we do that, I feel it is vital for the reader to understand that things are neither positive, nor negative; they’re neutral in nature. It is how you use it that deems it beneficial or detrimental. A knife, for example, is a neutral object. Just because a knife could be used to harm another being does not mean that we should ban it and forego its positive uses.

With that being said, the same idea applies to music. Music that encourages positivity is a very useful means to uplift your mood, and motivate you. It is nourishment for the soul and counts among the many blessings of God to us humans. However, music that promotes negativity such as promiscuousness and lewdness should simply be avoided, just as you would avoid any other detrimental thing. After all, the whole point of Islam is to make responsible decisions in life. Is it not?

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Coming to the Quran, it does not specifically refer to music in its discourse. What that means is that this is an unimportant subject, for which you get to make the judgment call based on reason and experience. However, although the majority of conventional scholars on Islam quote two verses to justify the prohibition on music, a careful reading of the Quran serves to dismiss this. Let us then analyze these two verses:

 

“Tempt and allure them with your voice such of them as you can. You may prompt them into armed conflicts, have a share in their resources and children, and give them (false) promises. And whatever Satan promises them is but meant to delude the mind.” Quran, 17:64

I find that the reasoning that goes behind prohibiting music is very simplistic indeed; for it demonizes music, as a whole, based on some songs that encourage immorality. Not staying true to the Quran holistically, traditional scholars would have you believe that the voice of Shaitan used to tempt, and allure you refers to music. Again, what about the music that promotes justice, equality, and peace? The argument falls flat on the face.

As a matter of fact, this “voice” is clearly defined in the last chapter of the Quran:

 

“(I seek refuge) From the evil of the sneaking whisperer who whispers (evil) in the hearts of people.” Quran, 114:4-5

The Shaitan deludes you in only one way: evil inclinations and suggestions that suddenly prompt up within yourself, acting counter to your nature. This is how it misleads us, and gives us “false promises of hope.”

 

Among the people, there are those who uphold baseless narratives (Lahwal Hadith), and thus divert others from the path of God without knowledge, and take it in vain. These have incurred a shameful retribution. Quran, 31:6

However you define and interpret “Hadith”, the purpose it plays is that it diverts people from the path of God – this is the defining phrase. This actually cements my point that good music, which in no way diverts you from godly virtues, is perfectly suitable and does not fall into the category of “baseless Hadith”.

 

A piece of advice:

And do not utter falsehoods by letting your tongues determine [at your own discretion], “This is lawful and that is forbidden”, thus attributing your own lying inventions to God: for, behold, they who attribute their own lying inventions to God will never prosper. Quran, 16:116

Conclusion

Forbidding things that are not explicitly referred to in the Quran is an act that is severely condemned by God as it leads to the misuse of religion to enslave people in the name of Islam by the “holy men.” It is revealing to observe that the scholars who forbid music in the name of Islam suddenly deem singing and *some* instruments to be permissible when it comes to religious songs, songs that overly praise Prophet Mohammad (which is risky business). Eh, double standards? Where is the consistency in approach that one would expect from a scholar?

It becomes highly problematic when additional laws and regulations are added on top of the word of God, as this leads to the complication of Islam and thus deters Muslims from practicing it. It’s not like the masses have adhered to this supposed commandment of God to not indulge in music, rather what it may do is that it may give a Muslim, who enjoys music, the impression of not being a “good Muslim”. Once you’ve established this, you have no incentive left to guard yourself from the things that are actually forbidden in the Quran, and may end up right in the midst of them.

Oh, the painful irony of it all.

 

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Kassim Ahmad: The Hero We Don’t Deserve!

We, Muslims, have come to a point where we revere scholars who push absurdities in the name of Islam, but slander those who seek to purify Islam from the dogmatic image it has acquired. Getting all our knowledge of Islam from these scholars instead of reading the Quran for ourselves, we, as a whole, have become so perplexed that we can’t even distinguish between concepts that are Islamic and concepts that are un-Islamic. So, our current condition is our karma. And, this is exactly what happens when people abandon their right to think for themselves, handing it over to others. What an ironic gift this is to the Creator of human intelligence!

Recently, Mr. Kassim Ahmad, who is one of the great Muslim thinkers of our times, was taken into custody by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) over what they call “controversial statements” he made about Islam at a seminar held in February. (You can read his statements here)

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JAWI, is this what your Islam teaches you? To imprison anybody who goes against your views on religion? It’s strange, because the Quran that I’ve read advocates absolute freedom of speech to express one’s opinions. What happened to, “Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith” (Quran, 2:256), and “The truth is from your Nourisher-Sustainer, so whoever wills — let him believe; and whoever wills — let him disbelieve.” (Quran, 18:29)

Was that not clear enough for you to stop going around imposing your authority on people who disagree with you? But, I would be naive to make such a plea. How could you stay silent? The truth of the matter is that you feel intimidated by him, and worry that you will lose your control over Muslims who may find that the “controversial statements” he made are in fact very Quranic indeed. After all, are you not in this for the power? Do you think that we’re stupid, and don’t realize your need to monopolize Islam for your petty purposes?

No, JAWI. We see perfectly well what is going on here. And this has been the case throughout the times when reform-minded individuals approached the established rulers. When Musa (Moses) approached Firaun (Pharoah), this is what he had to say:

Pharaoh said, “If you choose an authority other than me, I will surely put you in prison.” Quran, 26:29

Make no mistake about it; yours are the very institutions that Prophets and other futuristic individuals have fought against. So, enough already! Stop fooling people in the name of Islam, for your actions are anything but against it.

It saddens me, and breaks my heart to see the way we treat this noble man who only wishes that Muslims revert back to the Quran and stop mixing Islam with Arabic culture. Amidst the ridiculous Fatwas (religious rulings) and irrationalities of prominent Muslim scholars such as promoting child marriage, a truly commendable free-thinker like Mr. Kassim Ahmad comes off as a breath of fresh air. A sign that all hope is not lost for Islam, that maybe – just maybe we can trace our footsteps back to the Quran and become the Muslims God wants us to be.

But, no! How dare he question our beliefs? What right does he have to tell us to reform and get rid of the un-Quranic laws that the Ulema have imposed upon us? No, Mr. Kassim Ahmed, we all wish to remain in collective ignorance and celebrate our leaders that have put us in this honorable position. We, certainly, will not tolerate your call for reform. For realizing the need to reform, we must first realize that there is something wrong with the way we have understood Islam. And, we are simply not ready for that. Not when our scholars promise us heaven in exchange for simply uttering the Kalma (Proclamation of belief in Islam). We as always are right, and you are wrong! Let us live blissfully in our ignorance, and please don’t disturb us.

 

I am sorry, Mr. Kassim. But, we have failed you. Yet again, we have failed to honor a leader like yourself that would release us from the shackles these clergymen impose upon us. We don’t deserve you, sir.

We don’t deserve you.

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This article was also featured in The Malay Mail Online and Free Malaysia Today

 

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Stop Monopolizing Allah!

Amidst the mournful incident of MH 370, it was reported recently that the Malaysian Islamic Propagation Organisation (Pekida) was willing to suffer a bloodbath for Islam and the country, including defending the word “Allah”.

Bloodbath – right. Thanks for using such a non-violent term to represent Islam. We really needed that! Ironically, the biggest enemies of Islam are not people outside of Islam, rather the very prominent representatives of Islam who, for some reason, never fail to bring shame to us all. So, cheers to the new round!

Let me assure you, as long as we have organizations like Pekida around, you can be sure that Islam will remain a laughing stock for the masses. And, why shouldn’t they? When Muslim leaders come out with such insane stuff, how can we expect any better?

Instead of using their prominent position to their benefit in bringing a positive light to Islam, they’d rather prefer wasting other people’s time by focusing on the most ridiculous and silliest of things. Today, they want non-Muslims to refrain from using the word Allah. Tomorrow, who knows? I mean, we’ve digressed to a point where we now want a copyright on “Allah”. Shameful, to say the least!

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Islam is not an Arabic religion
Muslims make a big mistake by mixing Arabic culture with Islam. Many believe that it was Prophet Mohammad who brought Islam, but this can’t be further away from what the Quran says. The truth of the matter is that Islam is not a recent, 7th century Arabic religion. It is the same religion that was revealed to all prophets:

He has ordained for you all, the same System of Life that He enjoined upon Noah – And We have revealed to you (O Prophet!) the same message as We enjoined upon Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: “Establish the Divine System of Life and make no sects in it (do not be divided). Quran, 42:13

Prophet Mohammad said: And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Quran, 12:38

Having established that, it is obvious that Prophets throughout the times referred to God in their own respective languages. Hence, Allah is not a proper noun for the “God of Muslims.” It simply means “The God” in Arabic. Since the Quran is in Arabic, it refers to the Supreme Being as Allah. Similarly, if it was in any other language, it would refer to Him by the equivalent word for God in that very language.

From a Quranic point of view, one can observe that Allah is not the name of a unique God that Muslims believe in, rather it is an all encompassing term for the Supreme Being regardless of the faith one subscribes to. Christians, Jews, and other religious group are seen as using the word Allah to denote God in the Quran, and never has this been contested in any verse (5:17, 5:18, 5:72, 5:73). To give you a few examples:

Surely those who acknowledge (this divine book); and those who are Jewish, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whomever of them acknowledges Allah and the Last Day (Accountability) and does acts of reform; they will have their reward with their Lord, with no fear over them, nor will they grieve. Quran, 2:62

If we are to assume that believing in Allah equates to believing in Islam, then the first phrase of the verse loses purpose. After all, the gist of the verse is that no matter your religion, as long as you believe in God and continually reform yourself, you could expect reward.

A similar case is presented in the following verses

“And they claim, ‘None will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian.’ This is nothing but their wishful thinking. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.”Quran, 2:111

“Nay, whoever submits his whole being to Allah, and he is a doer of good to humanity, his reward is with his Lord. Then, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve.” Quran, 2:112

Hence, it is clear that Allah is used to denote God in Arabic as a noun, and not a proper noun.

God does not have a fixed name

Say, “Call upon God (Allah), or call upon the Almighty (Rahman): By whatever name you call upon Him, to Him belongs the best names and attributes of perfection…” Quran, 17:110

 

Conclusion
Did the members of Pekida never read the Quran for themselves? This is not something that requires intensive research, as it is blatantly obvious! So, what kinds of people are representing Islam in Malaysia? As always, the authority lies in the wrong hands.

Muslims, I sincerely urge you to start focusing on the big picture – things that really matter. It is high time we transcend petty arguments, and get involved in educating ourselves about the Quran and others around us to clear such misconceptions that certain individuals impose upon Islam.

Allah is not a trademark that Muslims own, and neither do Muslims own the Arabic language. It is about time we realize that.

 

This article was also featured in The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and ARY News.

 

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Does The Quran Really Permit Child Marriage?

One of the biggest misconceptions about Islam is that it permits child marriage, and is therefore looked down upon as medieval, oppressive and illogical by non-Muslims. Shockingly, instead of viewing this as a downright tarnation and disgrace to Islam, Muslims in complete ignorance of the Quran actually defend and support this point of view! If Muslims, themselves, are going to portray such an image of their religion, then I really don’t see why they would get agitated with the criticism on Islam.

I say this with my deepest regrets, but Muslims have become their own worst enemies. Practically abandoning the pivotal commandment of Islam on independent reasoning, they have substituted it with an unprecedented trust in the “authorities” on Islam. And yet again, they have succeeded to bring shame to us all.

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Recently, The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) passed a ruling that “Pakistani laws prohibiting marriage of underage children are un-Islamic, and that according to Islam, there is no minimum age of marriage. However, the Rukhsati (consummation of marriage) is allowed only in the case that both husband and wife have reached puberty. Furthermore, Under shariah, a man is not bound to seek approval for second marriage from the first wife,” declared the spokesperson.

What a way to celebrate Islam!

How we allow them to get away with such a ridiculous statement is beyond me. Not only are these rulings contrary to common sense and human dignity; they have no basis in the Quran whatsoever. As the Quran is the primary source of guidance in Islam, secondary sources can only be accepted if and only they do not contradict the Quran, or add additional rules to it. For, the Quran is fully detailed, perfect, and complete (6:114-115) and acts as the Criterion (Furqan) above all (25:1).

Without taking anymore of your valuable time, let’s get straight to the crux of the matter!

Part 1: Child Marriage

The Quran equates marriageable age to a mature and sound judgment:

“And test the orphans [in your charge] until they reach a marriage­able age; then, if you find them to be mature of mind/sound in judgment, hand over to them their possessions…” (Quran, 4:6)

Please pay close attention here. Marriageable age is equated to sound judgment; an age in which a person can responsibly handle their possessions. For heaven’s sake, are you really trying to tell me that a person is sound in judgment at the tender age of, say, 12? Give me a break!

It is illogical to assume that a 12 year old child has a mature intellectual level. After all, those years are meant to be a learning curve for the child: a crucial time in which a child shapes his whole personality by exploring different paradigms and attaining valuable experience on life. Undertaking such a huge responsibility would greatly affect the child psychologically, as they would be deprived of the time and space required to undergo a personal change and discover themselves.

Furthermore, such scenarios are by default rapes of children, since children have not developed and matured in sexual awareness to comprehend sex. To make it worse, traditional teachings involves psychological and sexual imposition of a man upon a girl who then surrenders under the circumstances, probably scarring her for life.

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The Quran advises Muslims to marry Monotheists:
“Do not marry the females who set up partners until they acknowledge.  An acknowledging servant is better than one who sets up partners, even if she attracts you. Similarly, do not marry the males who set up partners until they acknowledge. An acknowledging servant is better than one who sets up partners even if he attracts you” (Quran, 2:221)

A similarity of belief systems and common ground are necessary to establish a healthy relationship. How can children be expected to have a grasp of theology, when they are mentally incapable to do so? Usually, at that age, children would blindly follow whatever their parents teach them. This type of enforcement of beliefs is severely discouraged in the Quran on many occasions. As mentioned earlier, parents have to give children their own space to formulate their views before they even think of marrying them.

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The Quran terms marriage as a solemn oath:
And how could you take it away (marital gift) after you have given yourselves to one another, and she has  received a most solemn pledge from you? (Quran, 4:21)

Marriage is no child’s play. It demands a huge amount of responsibility from both individuals: something children are definitely not ready for.  Therefore, the Quran makes no compromises on this fact, terming marriage a “most solemn pledge.” To suggest that Allah would even allow, leave aside encourage, an individual to get into a “solemn pledge” without discovering themselves from a psychological, physical, and social perspective is nothing short of insulting the idea of creation.

The Quran forbids forcing women to marry by compulsion:

O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! It is not lawful for you to force women into marrying or holding on to them in marriage against their will. (Quran, 4:19)

Would an innocent child, on their own merit, entertain the idea of marriage? The immense responsibility of marriage is one that children do not even have the intellectual capacity to grasp thoroughly. They would only entertain it if they are heavily influenced by the parents. This, as you see above, is severely discouraged.

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The Quran expects the male partner to financially support his wife:
Let them (the divorced women) live where you live with the same standard of living that you have, and according to your best means. Harass them not to make life difficult for them. And if they are pregnant, spend on them freely until they deliver their burden. Then, if they nurse your baby, give them their due recompense.  And frequently consult together amicably.  And if both of you find it difficult, let another woman suckle the baby on her behalf.  (Quran, 65:6)

So, Mr. enlightened soul, how do you expect a 12 year old to earn a living now? Is he supposed to get an education, or is he supposed to labor in order to be able to financially support his spouse? Another ruling should be in order: Education is un-Islamic for children who attain puberty! Go make a living and support your teenage wife! Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised!

Part 2: The Misconception about Verse 4, Chapter 65

And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women – if you doubt, then their (waiting) period is three months (relating to divorce), and [also for] those who did not menstruate. And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth. (Quran, 65:4)

Here, traditional voices would have you believe that “those who did not menstruate” refers to prepubescent girls who have not “yet” attained puberty, thereby concluding that Islam permits child marriage. What is shameful is that they deliberately add the word “yet” to justify their medieval thought, which is to be found nowhere in the Arabic text of the verse.

Let’s dissect the verse, shall we? The verse starts off by discussing the waiting period for women who have ceased to menstruate, in the case of a divorce. Therefore, it has laid the context of adult women who are of menstruating age. Obviously then, “those who did not menstruate” is from the context of adult women who are supposed to menstruate, but did not do so. This medical condition is called Amenorrhea where a woman does not have menstrual periods. The waiting period for such women, then, is the same – 3 months.

Part 3: Is the permission of the first wife necessary to marry a second wife?

Polygamy is only to be practiced in exceptional cases:

If you fear that you will not be just/equitable to the orphans, then marry as permissible for you, women, two, three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then only one, or to whom you are committed to by oath. That is better so that you do not deviate from the right course”. (Quran, 4:3)

Without getting into too much detail, it is obvious from this verse that polygamy is not allowed to satisfy sexual lusts of men. It can only be practiced in the case of taking care of orphans (by marrying their mothers).

Moreover, the verse emphasizes on the fact that all wives must get a just and equitable treatment, in the unusual case of polygamy. If a man were to marry another woman without getting the consent of his first wife, how on earth can you call that justice?  Justice is only served when both parties receive it. “But if you fear that you will not be just, then only one…”

 

Conclusion

When-they-commit-anIt is absolutely clear from the Quran that child marriage is something God never authorized. Child marriage is detrimental to the overall well-being of children, and quite frankly, is another form of slavery. The psychopathic mentality that allows this is a sign of a very sick and disturbed mind, something that seems to be much abundant within the clergy-class. Any rational person can immediately identify the evils of such an oppressive act. It surprises me to see how a beacon of light is manipulated by a bunch of misogynistic individuals to enslave billions around the world!

“Have you considered those who were asked to accept judgment from Allah’s Book? When they are asked to accept judgment from Allah’s Book, some of them turn their backs and walk away!” (Quran, 3:23)

Would you then, O fellow Muslim, rethink your stance?

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Blasphemy And Apostasy Laws: Islam or Hislam?

In January 2011, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by one of his own security guards over a controversial move — opposing the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Although thousands of Pakistanis condemned this by attending his funeral and showing support on social media, religious fanatics hailed his murderer as a hero, recently naming a mosque after him.

As a Muslim, I stand firmly against blasphemy laws. My faith demands that I do so, for it repeatedly asks me to stand for justice and fight oppression.

The Quran shows us that even though God’s prophets were mocked and threatened, they never killed their accusers for hurting their “religious sentiments.” In fact, the Quran opposes any laws that restrain freedom of speech or would have someone killed over differences in belief. Rather, Quran 73:10 says, “Be patient over what they say, and leave them graciously.”

So how did these blasphemy and apostasy laws come to be associated with Islam?

The blasphemy and apostasy laws are found in the Hadeeth, sayings attributed to Prophet Mohammad, which were compiled two-three centuries after his death. Muslims know that no Hadeeth should contradict the Quran if they are to be accepted, given their subjective nature and reliance on the Quran for authenticity.

But early scholars intentionally overlooked this to protect the interests of clergymen and political leaders. These oppressive laws allow them to exercise complete control over people, punishing anyone who threatens their position by declaring them apostates — enemies of Islam. To so many clergymen, religion is nothing but a means to gain power and control people. To keep out competition and force their monopoly, they invent laws in the name of God so “consumers” have no choice but to keep buying their “product.” Or else, face persecution.

Religious leaders like Tahir-ul-Qadri, a staunch proponent of blasphemy laws, rule people by fear. Add to that the fact that the average Muslim is unaware of the Quran’s teachings, which makes them likely to believe whatever the clergy tells them about Islam. Of these leaders, the Qur’an asks us to be weary: “O You who have believed! A great many religious leaders: rabbis, priests, monks, Mullahs, yogis, and mystics devour the wealth of people in falsehood, and bar them from the path of God” (Quran 9:34).

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So what exactly does the Quran say about blasphemy and apostasy?

Quite frankly, blasphemy and apostasy laws are themselves blasphemous to the teachings of the Qur’an. Not in the traditional sense, but because they violate the very instructions the scripture gives regarding freedom of belief.

Regarding apostasy, in Quran 2:256 God says, “There is no compulsion in matters of faith. The right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces false authorities and becomes at peace with God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Knower.”

In a similar vein, verse 109:6 instructs adherents to end a debate by saying: “To you, your belief system. And to me, mine.”

If all that isn’t convincing enough, Quran 10:99 should seal the deal: “If your Lord willed, all who are on earth, would have believed (by not providing free will). Would you then, compel people to become believers?”

When it comes to blasphemy, I often hear some version of, “Hold on. If someone mocks my religion, it prompts me to act violently. You see, it makes me very emotional.”

But this statement only shows an ignorance of the Quran, which says in verse 6:68, “When you see them engaged in vain discourse about Our verses, turn away from them unless they engage in a different subject. If Satan ever makes you forget (i.e. your mind gets engrossed in their discourse,) then as soon as you recollect, no longer sit in the company of the people who confound the truth with falsehood.”

Here, Muslims are instructed to engage with these people if they change the topic. Certainly that means we’re not to have enmity towards them, let alone kill them!

And, again, Quran 28:55 instructs, “Whenever they (believers) hear vain talk of ridicule, they withdraw from it decently and say, ‘“To us our deeds and to you yours; Peace be upon you, we do not seek to join the ignorant.”

Those verses are practically shouting freedom of expression at the top of their lungs! Islam is a very progressive path to God, one in which differences in opinions and beliefs are accepted, not punished (Quran 39:18). On the other hand, blasphemy and apostasy laws lead to negative misconceptions about Islam being an oppressive faith.

But what are we Muslims to do? By not voicing our disapproval, we stand for these anti-Quranic laws and call them Islam. Is that not like setting your own house on fire? There is not a single verse that encourages Muslims to act violently toward those who leave Islam, or even mock the Quran. After all, shouldn’t truth be able to defend itself on its own merit? What good is a forced belief?

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We can even take it a step further by noting how rejecters treated the prophets.

Of Prophet Nooh: “They said, ‘If you do not desist, O Noah, you will surely be of those who are stoned’” (Quran 26:116).

Prophet Ibrahim’s father said, ”Do you dislike my gods, O Abraham? If you cease not, I will certainly cause you to be stoned to death! Now get away from me for good” (Quran 19:46). Similarly, the priesthood said of Ibrahim, “Burn him alive and uphold your gods if you are going to take any action” (Quran 21:68).

Regarding Prophet Musa, “[Pharaoh] said, ‘If you take a god/authority other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned’” (Quran 26:29). To Musa’s followers, Pharaoh also said, “I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you all” (Quran 26:49).”

These verses should reveal to us a different perspective: all prophets were seen as blasphemers and apostates to the prevalent religion of their time. To condone the oppressive laws of religious leaders today is to support ill treatment of the prophets. After all, you would’ve done the same!

And that’s the most ironic part. If a messenger were to come today, these clergymen and their ardent followers would utter the same threats to him. They have fabricated their own laws in the name of God, so when you ask them to reform, they either consider you a blasphemer or an apostate and have a fatwa issued to kill you.  That’s the scary thing about truth: it doesn’t warrant aggression but is always met with it.

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This is not a matter of interpretation, as some would call it. The Quran condemns forced belief in numerous verses. Rather, this is a matter of giving preference to the Hadeeth over the Quran to justify bigotry and extremism in the name of Islam. Having said that, it’s up to you whether you want to rethink your stance or keep blindly following what you have been taught — whether you want to follow Islam or Hislam. Because unlike misguided religious fanatics, sincere believers never force their beliefs on others.

What’s the Golden Rule, again? “Any secondary source on Islam that goes against the Quran should be rejected.”

Often said, but seldom followed.

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Oh, Maulana Tariq Jameel…

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Just a while ago, I was listening to a talk given by Mr.Tariq Jameel (revered by many) and found out some very interesting things. Let me begin by saying that his lectures are somewhat better than what is usually propagated by other clergymen. As you might be aware, I am not against scholars. Rather, I am of the opinion that before listening to anyone speaking about Islam, read the Quran for yourself. And I will demonstrate why:

I will add the reference, but the context of the video is that the angel of death had come to take Prophet Mohammad’s soul. In his exact words: “Peace be upon you, Messenger of Allah. Till this day, I have never greeted anyone, you are the first.”

Now, when I heard this, immediately a verse came to mind:

Those whom the angels gather in death while they are in a state of inner purity, greeting them thus: “Peace be upon you! Enter paradise by virtue of what you were doing [in life]!” 16:32

Does it refer to the exclusivity of Mohammad? No, every noble human being is greeted by words and gestures of peace.

Furthermore, in another video, Mr. Tariq was talking about how every other Prophet except Mohammad (salutes and respect to him) would only be caring about himself on the Day of Judgement. Mr. Tariq Jameel described it like this: “ And the Prophets will say: Nafsee, Nafsee! Save me God, I do not intercede for anyone else on my behalf. But what would Mohammad do? He would be the lone person seeking forgiveness for his “Ummah.”

But, what would Prophet Mohammad actually say on the Day of Judgement?

And the Messenger will say, “O my Lord, indeed my people have taken this Qur’an as [a thing] abandoned.” 25:30

Here, we see, that he is in fact complaining about his people having totally abandoned the Quran. And this is the case with us today! We have no idea what the book says, only what so and so scholar told us about.

And, the concept of intercession by prophets is a lie. You can read about it here.

So it all boils down to two scenarios. Either Mr. Tariq Jameel is ignorant about these verses, or he is purposely misguiding his audience about Islam. Both ways, it doesn’t paint a very good picture of him. Do you see why I am against blind following? I skimmed through the comments on these videos, and not a single person had tried to rectify his mistake. All I could see was “Subhan Allah, Masha Allah, wow that is so true.” Why? No education about the Quran.

Personally speaking, having read the Quran, I have the luxury of knowing when a person is speaking from the Quran and when he is speaking out of his own desires and attributing it to Islam. Hence, I would heartily advise you to please familiarize yourself with what God has to say about first, then listen to other people’s opinion. Without a Furqan (criterion), how can you judge?

References: 1st video –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnjWTomBUVk
2nd video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvPU8Guj0fg