Thursday, November 26, 2009

Woman's Status in the Bible & Quran

We're trying to compare the woman's status as seen in Christianity and Islam. The sources are mainly the Bible, Quran, and the teachings of Prophet Mohammed.

The First Woman / Eve

Christianity (Bible):
"When the woman (Eve) saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband (Adam), who was with her, and he ate it...Then the man (Adam) and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" He (Adam) answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he (God) said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman (Eve) you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." To the woman he (God) said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he (God) said, "Because you listen to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life."
Genesis 3:6-17

Islam (Quran):
(God said):"O Adam! You and your wife dwell in the Garden, and enjoy (its good things) as you wish: but do not approach this tree, or you run into harm and transgression." "Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them (Adam and Eve), bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them (before): he (Satan) said: "Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest you should become angels or such beings as live for ever." "And he (Satan) swore to them both, that he was their sincere adviser." "So by deceit he brought about their (Adam and Eve) fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies. And their Lord called to them: "Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy to you?" "They said: "Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: if You do not forgive us and do not bestow upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost"
Quran 7:19-23

Female Gender vs. Male Gender

"...if a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days...but if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks..."
Leviticus 12:2-5

"To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whomever He wills and bestows male children to whomever He wills.
Quran 42:49
"He who is involved in bringing up daughters, and accords benevolent treatment towards them, they will be protection for him against Hell-Fire."
Prophet Mohammed

The Female Spiritual Essence

"I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare." "Look," says the Teacher, "this is what I have discovered: "Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things-while I was still searching but not finding- I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all."
Ecclesiastes 7:26-28

"And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh: behold she said: 'O my Lord! build for me, in nearness to You, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong," "And Mary the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)."
Quran 66:11-2

"Heaven is at the feet of the mothers."
Prophet Mohammed


"When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening."
Leviticus 15:19-23

Ali asked the Prophet Mohammed if when a man and a woman make love then their clothes stick to them from the sweat of their bodies, or if when a woman has her period her clothes stick to her body, are the clothes considered unclean?
The Prophet replied: "No, the uncleanness is only in the semen and the blood."

Sexual Relation During Her Menses

"Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period."
Leviticus 18:19

"They ask you concerning women's courses (period). Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: so keep away (of making love) from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean..."
Quran 2:222

A Woman's Right to Education

"let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law, and if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for woman to speak in the church."
1Corinthians 14:34-35

Seeking knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim man and Muslim woman.
Prophet Mohammed

Right to Inheritance

"Say to the Israelites, 'If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter...'"
Numbers 27:8

"From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large, -a determinate share."
Quran 4:7

Dressing Modesty / Head Covering

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head...If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head"
1 Corrinthians 11:3-6

"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God"
1 Timothy 2:9-10

"O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
Quran 33:59

...they (believing women) should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women...or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex..."
Quran 24:31


"After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him."
2 Samuel 5:13

"He (Solomon) had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines..."
1 Kings 11:3

"And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
Genesis 4:19

"If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the first-born son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh..."
Deuteronomy 21:15

"if he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall her not diminish."
Exodus 21:10

"If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one... to prevent you from doing injustice."
Quran 4:3

Prohibition in Marriage

"Do not take your wife's sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living."
Leviticus 18:18

"Prohibited to you (for marriage) are: -your mothers, daughters, sisters...and two sisters (the wife and her sister) in wedlock at one and the same time..."
Quran 4:23


"...Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."
Mark 10:11-12

"O Prophet! When you do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately) their prescribed periods: and fear Allah your Lord..."
Quran 65:1

The Divorcee & Widow

"...who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."
Matthew 5:32

"'The woman he (the priest) marries must be a virgin. He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people.'"
Leviticus 21:13-4

"If any of you die and leave widows behind, they shall wait concerning themselves four months and ten days: when they have fulfilled their term, there is no blame on you (marrying widows) if they dispose of themselves in a just and reasonable manner..."
Quran 2:234

The Respect of Parents

"Then he (Jesus) went down to Nazareth with them (his parents) and was obedient to them..."
Luke 2:51

"For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death."
Mark 7:10

"Each of you must respect his mother and father..."
Leviticus 19:3

"He (God) has made me (Jesus) kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable."
Quran 19:32

"And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail (pains of childbirth) upon travail his mother bore him, and in two years was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal."
Quran 31:14

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Muhammad Ali(Clay)

February 28, 1964

Clay Says He Has Adopted Islam Religion and Regards It as Way to Peace

Miami Beach, Feb. 27 (AP)--The new heavyweight champion, Cassius Clay, said today he had adopted the Islam religion. He called Islam the best way to bring about lasting peace.

"They call it the Black Muslims," the 22-year-old Clay said. "This is a press word. It is not a legitimate name. But Islam is a religion and there are 750 million people all over the world who believe in it, and I am one of them."

He said he had made an extended study of the religion over a period of months and had become convinced it was "the truth and the light."

"A rooster crows only when it sees the light," he said. "Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light and I'm crowing."

Clay Is Relaxing

Clay, who stopped Sonny Liston in their 15-round title fight here Tuesday night, was relaxing at his temporary quarters when he was told that the leader of the black supremacy sect, Elijah Muhammad, had told a meeting in Chicago that the new ring champion was a disciple.

"That is true, and I am proud of it," Clay said. "But what is all the commotion about? Nobody asks other people about their religion. But now I am the champion, I am the king, so it seems the world is all shook up about what I believe.

"You call it Black Muslims, I don't. The real name is Islam. That means peace. Yet people brand us a hate group. They say we want to take over the country. They say we're Communists.

"That is not true. Followers of Allah are the sweetest people in the world. They don't carry knives. They don't tote weapons. They pray five times a day.

"The women wear dresses that come all the way to the floor and they don't commit adultery. The men don't marry white women.

"All they want to do is live in peace with the world. They don't hate anybody. They don't want to stir up any kind of trouble. All the meetings are held in secret, without any fuss or hate- mongering."

Religion Is Credited

Clay said that his religion, which had brought him "inner peace," was responsible for his sensational upset victory over Liston, an 8-to-1 favorite.

"God was with me--I couldn't have done it without God," he added.

The new champion said he was disturbed to find that the Islam group had drawn the fire of integrationist forces among the Negro people.

"We believe that forced and token integration is but a temporary and not an everlasting solution to the Negro problem," he added. "It is merely a pacifier. We don't think one people should force its culture upon another.

"I get telephone calls every day. They want me to carry signs. They want me to picket. They tell me it would be a wonderful thing if I married a white woman because this would be good for brotherhood.

"I don't want to be blown up. I don't want to be washed down sewers. I just want to be happy with my own kind."

Clay said it was only natural that people of the same culture and heritage should live together.

"Animals in the jungle flock together," he said. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Chinese and Japanese all live better if they are together.

"I don't like hot Mexican food and I would be unhappy if somebody made me eat it. At the same time, you may not like what I like--turnip greens and hominy grits, or country music. If you don't like it you shouldn't have to accept it."

Attitude Is Resented

The boyish-faced fighter, descendant of a runaway Kentucky slave, said he resented the fact that some people attached "dire motives" to his Islam connections.

"I am a good boy. I never have done anything wrong," he insisted. "I have never been in jail. I have never been in court.

"I don't join any integration marches. I don't pay any attention to all those white women who wink at me. I don't carry signs.

"I don't impose myself on people who don't want me. If I go in somebody's house where I'm not welcome, I am uncomfortable. So I stay away.

"I like white people. I like my own people. They can live together without infringing on each other. You can't condemn a man for wanting peace. If you do, you condemn peace itself."

End of Article

Muhammad Ali was the first bona fide American celebrity to embrace the faith, Ali was a hero to millions of Muslims, in America and around the world. Many African-American Muslims were inspired to convert to Islam because of Ali.

Ali is today a traditional Sunni Muslim, having left the Nation of Islam in 1975.

Article from The New York Times


Aminah Assilmi

I was completing a degree in Recreation, when I met my first Muslims. When I entered the classroom, I received a shock. The class was full of 'Arabs' and 'camel jockeys'. Well, I had never seen one but I had heard of them.

There was no way I was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens! After all, you could catch some dreadful disease from those people. Everyone knew they were dirty, not to be trusted either. I shut the door and went home. (Now, there is one little thing you should know. I had on a pair of leather hot pants, a halter top, and a glass of wine in my hands...but they were the bad ones in my mind.)

When I told my husband about the Arabs in the class and that there was no way i was going back, he responded in his usual calm way. He reminded that I was always claiming that God had a reason for everything and maybe I should spend some time thinking about it before I made my final decision. He also reminded me that I had a scholars award that was paying my tuition and if I wanted to keep it, I would have to maintain my G.P.A.. Three credit hours or 'F' would have destroyed my chances.

For the next two days, I prayed for guidance. On Thursday I went back to the class convinced that God had put me there to save those poor ignorant heathens from the fires of hell.

I proceeded to explain to them how they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal savior. They were very polite, but did not convert. Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts. They were very polite, but still did not convert. So, I decided to read their own book to show them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false God.

One of the students gave me a copy of the Qur'an and another book about Islam, and I proceeded with my research. I was sure I would find the evidence I needed very quickly. Well, I read the Qur'an and the other book. Then I read another 15 books, Sahih Muslim and returned to the Qur'an. I was determined I would convert them! My studies continued for the next one and half years.

During that time, I started having a few problems with my husband. I was changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted to go. I was quieter and more distant. He was sure I was having an affair, so he kicked me out. I moved into an apartment with my children and continued my determined efforts to convert the Muslims to Christianity.

The, one day, there was a knock on my door. I opened the door and saw a man in a long white night gown with a red and white checkered table cloth on his head. He was accompanied by three men in pajamas. (It was the first time I had ever seen their cultural dress.) Well, I was more than a little offended by men showing up at my door in night clothes. What kind of a woman did they think I was? Had they no pride or dignity? Imagine my shock when the one wearing the table cloth said he understood I wanted to be a Muslim! I quickly informed him I did not want to be a Muslim. I was Christian. However, I did have a few questions. If he had the time....

His name was Abdul-Aziz Al-Shiek and he made the time. He was very patient and discussed every question with me. He never made me feel silly or that a question was stupid. He asked me if I believed there was only one God and I said yes. Then he asked if I believed Mohammed was His Messenger. Again I said yes. He told me that I was already a Muslim!.

I argued that I was Christian, I was just trying to understand Islam. (Inside I was thinking: I couldn't be a Muslim! I was American and white! What would my husband say? If I am Muslim, I will have to divorce my husband. My family would die!)

We continued talking. Later, he explained that attaining knowledge and understanding of spirituality was a little like climbing a ladder. If you climb a ladder and try to skip a few rungs, there was danger of falling. The Shahadah was just the first step on the ladder. Still we had to talk some more.

Later that afternoon, May 21, 1977 at Asr', I took Shahadah. However, there were still some things I could not accept and it was my nature to be completely truthful so i added a disclaimer. I said: "I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger" 'but, I will never cover my hair and if my husband takes another wife, I will castrate him.'

I heard gasps from the other men in the room, but Abdul Aziz silenced them. Later I learned that he told the brothers never to discuss those two subjects with me. He was sure I would come to the correct understanding.

The Shahadah was indeed a solid footing on the ladder to spiritual knowledge and closeness to God. but it has been a slow climb. Abdul Aziz continued to visit me and answer my questions.

He explained that Allah ahd told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching a rose open - petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When I told him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was correct up to a point. The he would show me how to look deeper and from different directions to reach a fuller understanding. Alhamdulillah!

Over the years, I had many teachers. Each one special, each one different. I am thankful for each one of them and the knowledge they gave. Each teacher helped me to grow and to love Islam more. As my knowledge increased, the changes in me became more apparent. Within the first year, I was wearing hijab. I have no idea when I started. It came naturally, with increased knowledge and understanding. In time I even came to to a proponent of polygamy. I knew that if Allah had allowed it, there had to be something good in it.

My Journey to Islam - Jennifer Fayed

There comes a time in peoples’ lives that you are compelled to think, why am I here what is my purpose in this life. These were my thoughts during summer of 2001. I had been married to my first husband for about 3 years. The marriage was going downhill. There was no ambition in my former husband, and with two children barely old enough to take care of themselves finding out I was pregnant; I started to ponder my purpose in this earth.

Yes, I was a wife a mother a daughter; however, the same thought came passing through my mind there has to be a reason for my existence. My family had recently moved to the Dominican Republic I felt abandoned. Abandoned you might ask, she’s married with children how can she feel abandoned? I was 21 years old and my parents were the base of who I was who I strived to be. They were my example.

I was sleeping, when I got a frantic call from my former mother-in-law screaming “there was a plane crash a plane crash in downtown Manhattan” confused I said “what, what are you talking about!” I turned on the television only to find out that the second tower of the world trade center was being hit by the second aircraft. I was shocked! Who could’ve done this, who was capable of such atrocity? I was in disbelief on what I saw on the news. Was this real I kept thinking to myself, it was must be a movie please, please tell me this was a movie. I had just been in the world trade center the day before. I saw this as some proof that it wasn’t my time to die and I hadn’t completed my purpose in this life. I didn’t know what purpose, but it wasn’t my time. There was chaos in New York City that day; little did I know this day among other events in my life would only be the beginning of drastic changes that were about to happen.

Soon after the attacks of September 11th I went to Dominican Republic to visit my parents. I was about a month pregnant and no soul other than my mother-in-law, my former husband and I knew about the pregnancy. How was I going to break the news to my parents I mean I got pregnant with my first child out of wedlock and soon married as to make things right. So here I was pregnant with my third baby and I thought well at least I can think things through while being in the Caribbean. I left on American Airlines flight 587. This was the first time I was in an airplane so soon after the attacks of the world trade center. The security in the airport was intense, and people in the airplane kept praying some even during the whole flight. I started to laugh within myself. If we’re going to die well then it’s our fate. I kept thinking about my pregnancy. I didn’t want this pregnancy it was unplanned and a third mouth to feed I could barely support two children let alone three. I was so confused. I spent time with my family trying to tell them about the baby. I couldn’t bear to tell them that there first born daughter was yet again going to bring another major disappointment to them; therefore, I decided well I’ll terminate the pregnancy and no one has to even know I’m pregnant. Easy solution, I thought to myself but at the same time I came from a strong Christian family and to even fathom having an abortion was a sin and taboo. After my quick trip to the Caribbean I went back to New York and finally called Planned Parenthood to set-up the appointment to terminate the pregnancy. I asked them if I could take the abortion pill and I was devastated to find out that I would have to go through a full abortion because my window for the abortion pill was one week past the time to end the pregnancy with a pill. I was so depressed; I thought to myself oh my God their going to rip this baby out of my womb. What am I doing?

I really didn’t know if I could go through with it; as a result, I decided to pray to God not using the rosary or going to church but for the first time I was going to pray directly to him like a friend, someone who I felt had to help me it was my last resort. I cried while I continuously supplicated, oh God please I don’t know what to do I want this baby, but my marriage is on the rocks and we don’t have money to bring another baby into the world. I will put my full trust in you my Lord, please if it’s your will for me to have this baby then I will accept that and if it’s your will to end the pregnancy I will accept that too. I emptied my sorrows unto a God, a God that I worshipped my own way not the way I was taught to do. A God; one that to me had no partners and no son but just a being that I knew created me. I was at my wits end thinking about the pregnancy and just went through my usual daily routine. A few days past, I was watching television when a program was interrupted by a special report. I said oh no not another attack what happened next blew me away. I soon found out another plane had crashed, this time in Queens where I am originally from in New York. I was so worried I thought it must have been brought down by one of these terrorists yet again. I was astonished when they mentioned the flight number and its destination. It was American Airlines flight 587; yes the flight that I was on but only a week ago and it was headed to the Dominican Republic. I got chills up my spine.

I was numb all over thinking that this could’ve been me on this flight at this time. I saw this as a message from God that he was trying to tell me something. This wasn’t the first time in less then a month that I came close to death. I thought to myself God is trying to tell me something. A week after that supplication I started to have cramps, these cramps were different from the usual first trimester cramping. I brushed it off like no big deal. As the weekend continued the cramping got more severe and then I started to have bleeding. I was so frightened was I having a miscarriage? I hurried to the hospital and they put me on strict bed rest. I went home that evening and stayed in bed the cramping got better. Once asleep there was this shocking pain and with this pain I felt that something came out. I didn’t know what to do; I went to the bathroom only to discover a piece of round flesh on the pad. I was devastated. I never saw anything like this I lost my baby I was two months pregnant. I went back to the hospital and they confirmed to me that yes I had a miscarriage and they were sorry for my loss. The next day was the day of my abortion appointment October 15, 2001.

I had the miscarriage just a day before this appointment. They called me from Planned Parenthood and asked me why I missed the appointment. I told them that I had a miscarriage a day before. It was so surreal, was it a miracle from God, did God answer my prayer, and what did he have in store for me. I felt that God was telling me that my life was going to change. How was it about to change? I had no idea but I did know that I couldn’t stay married any longer to someone who didn’t want to work and had no ambition in life. So I made a conscious decision toward getting my degree and taking steps to divorce my first husband.

I saw how badly Muslims were being treated in New York. The aggression that played out so soon after the September 11 attacks, every other day there was a report on the news about a Muslim hate crime. It was horrible; I would literally see people walking on the opposite side of side walks if they even thought a person was a Muslim. Muslim businesses were empty people refused to buy from them. People would yell out horrible things to them in the street, “Go to your country, Terrorist, Taliban!! Why are people saying these things to innocent people? I agree the people who did this were horrible people, but why blame people who didn’t have anything to do with the attacks. It felt like a witch hunt. I was curious about what these people really stood for my interest grew larger everyday. I soon enrolled in college and I would meet Muslims and anxiously ask them questions about Islam. Why do you wear a scarf? What do you believe in? Who is this Mohammed who you always talk about? Some had answers but on the most part people didn’t know how to answer me. Most of the Muslim girls I did know didn’t wear the scarf and would say it’s a choice and I’m not that knowledgeable about Islam. I felt that no one was able to give me answers so I turned to the internet for answers. There I found out about Islam.

I couldn’t believe that God (Allah) had sent another prophet after Jesus (pbuh). I knew God couldn’t have put me and everyone on this earth without answers to our many questions. Why we are here? Why do people say God is three when in fact it only confirmed what I personally had believed in since I was fourteen years old that God was one with no partners. I was seeking the truth to my questions and Islam answered all of them. This was amazing prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was the last prophet the last one God had sent to reveal is final message unto us. His favor upon us was done. Then I decided to do more research on this Mohammed (pbuh) was he a real person did he actually exist? To my surprise he was a real person and not only was he our messenger but his whole life had been documented. I was stunned, this was my religion I thought, the faith I have been searching for many years and it’s called Islam. I attended my first Ramadan that fall of 2002.

Jennifer Fayed

The mosque was full of people. It wasn’t like a diocese in that generally one kind of race or nationality attends a specific church. The mosque had people of all different spectrums of the rainbow. They were all so friendly and kept saying salaam walakium, at the time I didn’t know what that meant but I would just nod in embarrassment. It was time to perform the salah (prayer); this was my first time ever to pray like the Muslims. I had no idea what they were doing but a friend of mine at the time just told me “do what they do” so that’s exactly what I did. I would mumble what I thought they were saying and perform the prostrations not knowing the significance or reason for it. I did enjoy it. I was amazed that all the Muslims face the Kabah in Mecca, Saudi Arabia at the same time for every prayer no matter what part of the world they come from. We didn’t have this in Christianity, not at all. The Muslims had an unspoken code that unified them to Allah the Most High. I wore a scarf that day in respect to them. I didn’t know how the women would put the scarf on so I bought a two piece scarf that I just slid on. I felt so wonderful and warm inside when I wore the scarf. I could walk the streets without men looking at me as a sexual object. I did get stares, but that didn’t bother me at all. After that day in the mosque I made a conscious decision to wear hijab all the time. People kept emphasizing to me that I didn’t have to wear hijab because I wasn’t Muslim. I would just comment that it’s my decision and it’s none of their business. When I wore hijab there was this feeling of security, warmth in my heart and soul that I was pleasing my Lord. I didn’t care about the stares or the negative remarks. I felt in my heart that I wasn’t doing enough to worship Allah. I was fasting some days during that Ramadan. Then I started to ponder how I would tell this to my family.

I had told my father that I was reading about a religion that comes from the east, all he told me was “it’s good to gain knowledge in different cultures and religions” I think that one flew by his head by a long shot. When my mother arrived from the Dominican Republic I was seriously considering declaring my shahada. I just didn’t know how I would tell all of my family especially my mom considering she was so critical of me. I was wearing hijab already so I didn’t feel good taking it off just to please her because my duty was to Allah then my parents. As a result, I decided to get it passed my younger sister Catherine. She and I are five years apart but I thought to tell her first as to see what might be the response of my parents. I called her and said, “Hey Catherine I did something” She wasn’t shock as I usually did things that were out of the norm. She told me “What did you do this time Jennifer?” I bluntly told her that I was considering becoming a Muslim and that I already wore the headscarf. She went ballistic in laughter. She told me that now I had definitely done it and that my parents would kill me figuratively, and that she couldn’t believe that I was one of those terrorists.

She quickly followed with you’re my sister and I love you no matter what religion you become but that our parents would probably go into an attack of some sort. The funniest thing though was that telling my younger sister you can only expect some form of sibling rivalry. She soon remarked “Don’t tell mom and dad without me being there so I can see you go down with a laugh”. I knew she was joking, and to my surprise I couldn’t believe how mature she had become during that year. As you can expect, I told my parents and my dad took it well I guess most men would if it means that their daughters would cover their bodies. My mother on the other hand, was furious and shocked. She kept trying to convince me that I was in the wrong and that Islam wasn’t the right religion. The thing that bothered her the most was that I was wearing hijab. It took them about two weeks to calm down with the whole idea that I was changing my religion. They soon accepted me after that, however my mom kept persisting that this was only a phase and that I would come to my senses. One week later, I had made my decision to declare my shahada.

I woke up on the first Friday of January with the feeling that this was the day, this was the day I was going to say my shahada. I was going to make my declaration that there is no true god (deity) but God (Allah) and Mohammed is the Messenger (Prophet) of God. I took my shower and jumped on the train and went to the mosque to make my declaration. I saw the sheik and told him I want to make my shahada today. He looked at me with a smirk and said “Are you sure, is this what you really want to do?” I was so excited I told him “Yes, Yes, this is my decision” and so that day all my fellow brothers and sisters in Islam joined with me to witness my reversion to Islam. All and all I felt normal that day so many people congratulated me on my reversion and told me if I needed anything they would help me. I felt so lucky; here I was with a new family a nation of people from all different parts of the world. On that Friday night I went to sleep. My first night as a Muslim I thought, later that evening around fajr time I had the most beautiful dream a blessed vision.

I was in a valley, full of beautiful green grass and gorgeous hills nothing I have ever seen in this life, and I was walking there towards a man. The person came towards me also, he was dressed in a white galabiya his face was like light not a humanly face but bright like the sun. I felt so warm and safe. He held my hand and we walked together to a big round rock which he sat on and I sat on the grass. He then told me “Welcome to Islam”. When I woke up I had this wonderful feeling in my heart. I thought this was the Prophet may the blessings of Allah be upon him. He came to welcome me to Islam. I later found out that it wasn’t Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), but it was one of Allah’s (swt) angels who had welcomed me into the fold of Islam for angels don’t have a human face but it is blurred. I felt so special from that day forward. An angel, an angel of Allah came to greet me to Allah’s religion my religion the faith that I so eagerly craved from a young age, Islam the one true religion.


Jennifer Fayed is an aspiring writer living in North Carolina, USA. She has a degree in business marketing and is an active member of the Muslimah Writers Alliance. Read more of her writings at

No Choice in the matter - Janet's story

"And such as Allah doth guide there can be none to lead astray. Is not Allah Exalted in Power, (Able to enforce His Will), Lord of Retribution?” The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 39, Verse 37

She was a thoroughly modern young Australian woman - successful in her business and social life, enjoying the close ties of parents and siblings. So who would suspect that it was the destiny of such a young woman to become Muslim?

Her very first sign of interest in Islam was quite early in her adult life when she purchased a book about Islam from a Christian bookshop in Sydney. "Did that lead you in some way to Islam?" we asked. "Well, actually, I bought it but I never did read it," she replied. We wondered whether, in fact, the book had been pro or anti Islam, but that was never fated to be an issue.

Her life continued on very pleasantly, and among her friends was a young Jewish woman. They had a close relationship with the exchanging of gifts on Christian and Jewish religious festivals. Religion was never an issue, nor was it ever anticipated that it would be.

The second remembered step towards Islam was when she met a young Armenian Orthodox Christian man. "Oh, you would have met Muslims then!" she greeted. "Muslims! Muslims! I hate Muslims!" he vehemently stated. "Oh dear," she thought. "Why do you hate Muslims then?" she asked him. "I don't know," he said, "I just do!" This was to lead to a further step in her journey to Islam, for she was amazed that a person, or persons, could have such hatred without realizing why it was so. Perhaps this was the factor which made her wish to know more.

Her work took her to many towns and cities, and as she travelled she listened to the radio. One day she had tuned to 2FC and found that there was a series entitled "The World of Islam," being broadcast. She was so impressed by what was being said that she stopped and took down notes. To this day she says that it was very well produced and that everything which was said, was correct.

Her life went on as usual until about twelve months later when she was driving through Lakemba in Sydney, and saw the Mosque standing there. "A Mosque!" she mused. Suddenly, applying the brakes, she turned. Parking in front, she boldly walked up the steps and through the main entrance. "Hello," she addressed one of the brothers, "What's your religion about?" She now smiles as she remembers how religiously naive she was at that time.

She was given a Quran and some pamphlets, and told that she had really come to the wrong entrance and that there was a Ladies' association down the road. This she took in good part, and eventually, when she returned, she was introduced to some sisters, and week by week she attended classes in religious education.

She smilingly recalls that she used to wear Fire-Engine red lipstick to these classes, and gradually, with increase in knowledge and the help of one of our sisters, became aware that this was really not part of the Islamic code.

Week by week she came and learned, and when it came to the profession of faith, she thought, "Ah! I only have to believe that Allah is the only God and that Muhammad is His Messenger. I believe that already. I am, therefore, a Muslim." Saying nothing to her Muslim sisters, she kept attending. One day, one of the sisters said to her, "Have you ever thought of becoming Muslim?" "Oh," replied our new sister, "I am a Muslim already!" Thus it was that she was told how profession of Islam, the Shahadah, should take place in front of two or more witnesses. Quite nonchalantly she said, "Oh, alright then."

. Strangely, as she repeated slowly the words in Arabic (followed by the words in English), which gave the witness; and for the first time, seeing the Sheikh in his turban and flowing robes, she became aware of the seriousness of her decision. "It was as sacred as if I had been married," she told us. The next weekend, when she saw her parents, without any warning she told them that she had converted to Islam. Although shocked, they accepted that this was her decision. In fact, as she described the comparison between Christianity and Islam, her mother said, "Oh, then I have really been a Muslim always." Both parents were influenced to study Islam, her father even attending University classes on the subject.

As for her Jewish friend - she could never quite accept that Islam had claimed Janet, and although both tried to continue the friendship, they found that Zionism was too strongly opposed to an Islamic stand.

Actually, all were amazed, for during these many weeks of studies, she did not think to mention her interest in Islam at all, thereby stunning most who knew her. Today she feels that had she done so, they may have tried to deter her, and perhaps, just perhaps, she may have, in her lack of knowledge, been influenced. Therefore, she says, "It was my fate to be Muslim and I was not to be deterred. Really, I had no choice in the matter, it was my destiny to be Muslim."

Note: Those who know Janet are happy to tell you that she has, over the years, continued on the Straight Pathway of Allah. She has worked hard in the field of daawah and women’s issues. She has been blessed and is a blessing.- Ed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Islam In The Bible by Thomas McElwain

Islam In The Bible

Thomas McElwain

Printed In

Great Britian for Minerva Press

Copyright Thomas McElwain 1998

ISBN 0-75410-217-3

Reproduced with permission by the

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Introduction to Islam(1): Articles of Faith

1. Unity of God
Muslims believe that Allah is ONE. He was neither begotten nor does He beget. He has no Partner. He is the Beginning and He is the End. He is Omniscient and Omnipresent.
The Quraan says that He is closer to man than his jugular vein yet He cannot be encompassed by human intellect.
See the following verses of the Quraan:
Imam Ali says in a supplication:
"Oh God, verily I ask Thee by Thy Name, in the name of Allah, the All-merciful, the All-compassionate, O the Possessor of Majesty and Splendour, the Living, the Self-subsistent, the Eternal, there is no God other than Thou, Oh He of Whom no one knows what He is, or how He is, or Where He is, or in respect of what He is, And yet, we know that He is."
2. Justice of God
Allah is Just. In XCV:8, the Quraan says "Is not Allah the most conclusive of all judges?"
Again in XXI:47 "And we have provided a Just balance for the Day of Judgement. No soul shall be dealt with unjustly in any way. (Any good deed or evil deed) though it be as small as a grain of the mustard seed, will be brought forth by Us (in testimony). We suffice as the best of reckoners."
The Sunni School of thought subscribes to the view that nothing is good or evil per se. What God commanded us to do became good by virtue of His command. What he forbade became evil.
The Shias believe that there is intrinsic good or evil in things. God commanded us to do the good things and forbade the evil. God acts according to a purpose or design. Human reason cannot comprehend this design or purpose in its entirety though man must always strive to understand as much as he can.
Compulsion or Freedom?
The various schools of thought are divided.

  1. Mutazzilas believe that man is totally free and God exercises no power over his action. Those who subscribe to this view are also known as Qadariyyas.

  2. Mujabbira school of thought believe that man has no freedom and is only a tool in the hands of God.

  3. The Asharia school of thought to which most Sunnis subscribe believe that though man has no free will, he will earn the reward of his good deeds. The Sunni scholar Al-Ghazzalli sums up this doctrine as follows: "No act of any individual, even though it be done purely for his benefit, is independent of the will of Allah for its existence. There does not occur in either the physical or the extra-terrestrial world the twinkle of an eye, the hint of a thought, or the most sudden glance except by the Decree of Allah, of His Power, Desire, and Will. This includes evil and good, benefit and harm, success and failures, sin and righteousness, obedience and disobedience, polytheism and true belief."

  4. The Shias believe that there is neither total compulsion nor total freedom. The true position is the one in-between. They maintain that Allah has fore-knowledge of human action but does not compel man to any particular course of action.
See Quraan:
God created mankind to serve Him (LI:56). He endowed man with faculties and freedom of action and out of His Grace (LUTF) and Justice sent Prophets to instruct and guide mankind. No nation or community was left without such guidance. (X:47 and XVI:36).
Some of these prophets were sent with Divine Revelation, scripture and miracles. The first Prophet was Adam and the last was Muhammad, the Seal of Prophets (XXX:40).
While Quraan mentions only twenty-five most prominent of the prophets it also states that there were many more whose names have not been revealed in the Quraan. (XL:78). Muslims believe that there have been 124,000 prophets. Amongst those specifically mentioned are Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, Ezekiel, David, Solomon, Jonah, Zachariah, John the Baptist, Jesus and Muhammad.
Five of these prophets brought new codes of law. These were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. These are called the "ulu l-azm" prophets meaning those of great constancy.
Quraan mentions five divine books.

  1. The Book of Abraham, sometimes referred as the Booklet (LXXXVII:19).

  2. The Psalms given to David (IV:63 and XVII:55).

  3. The Torah granted to Moses (II:87, III:3 & 4, VI:91 & 154).

  4. The Evangel or the Gospel revealed to Jesus (V:46).

  5. The Quraan revealed to Muhammad.
A Muslim must believe in all the Holy Books. (II:4 & 285). He must also believe in all the prophets. (IV:152).
The Shiahs also believe that all the prophets were infallible and sinless. Not all the Sunnis subscribe to this belief.
4. Resurrection
The world will come to an end on the Day of the Rising (Qiyamah), the day of final human accountability. All men will be resurrected and presented before God Who will decide their fate according to their deeds. The good will be rewarded with paradise (jannah) and the evil will be punished with hell (jahannam). (XXII:6-9 & 1-2; III:185; VI:62). The dominant factor in the administration of His Justice by Allah will be His Mercy (VI:12).
5. Imaamah
Only the Shiahs believe in the institution of Imaamah. Literally "imaam" means a leader. In Shiah belief an Imaam is the person appointed by God and introduced by the Prophet and then by each preceding Imaam by explicit designation (nass) to lead the Muslim community, interpret and protect the religion and the law (shariah), and guide the community in all affairs.
An Imaam is first and foremost the Representative of God and the successor of the Prophet. He must be sinless and possess divine knowledge of both the exoteric and the esoteric meaning of the verses of the Quraan.
There are many Shiah sects e.g. the Zaidis, the Ismailis etc. The principal sect is the Twelvers (Ithnasharis).
(NOTE: In these Notes, unless specifically stated otherwise, references to the Shiahs and Shiah beliefs, should be construed as references to the Shiah Ithnasheriyya school of thought.)
The Twelvers believe that the Prophet was succeeded by twelve Imaams. These are:
1. Ali ibne Abu TalibDied 40 A.H./659 A.DHe was the Prophet`s son-in-law, having married his daughter Fatimah.
2. Hassan ibne Ali
Died 50 A.H./669 A.D.
3. Hussain ibne Ali
Died 61 A.H./680 A.D.
4. Ali ibne Hussain
Died 95 A.H./712 A.D.
5. Muhammad ibne Ali
Died 114 A.H./732 A.D.
6. Ja'far ibne Muhammad
Died 148 A.H./765 A.D.
7. Musa ibne Ja'far
Died 183 A.H./799 A.D.
8. Ali ibne Musa
Died 203 A.H./817 A.D.
9. Muhammad ibne Ali
Died 220 A.H./835 A.D.
10. Ali ibne Muhammad
Died 254 A.H./868 A.D.
11. Hassan ibne Ali
Died 260 A.H./872 A.D.
12. Muhammad ibne Hassan
Born 256 A.H./868 A.D.
On the death of his father in 260 A.H. the twelfth Imam went into occultation (Gaybah), appearing only to a few leading Shiahs. Until 329 A.H./939 A.D. he performed the functions of the Imaam through representatives appointed by himself. He then went into major occultation which will continue until the day God grants him permission to manifest himself.
The Sunni View
The Sunnis use the term Imaam synonymously with the term khalifah. A khalifah may be elected, or nominated by his predecessor, or selected by a committee, or may acquire power through military force. A khalifah need not be sinless. It is lawful for a person of inferior qualities to be made a khalifah while persons of superior qualities are present.
Development Of Jurisprudence And Theology
A. The Shiah School
During their life time the Imaams remained the chief exponents of the shariah, the Islamic law. Many of the Imaams, when the political atmosphere permitted, held theological classes and also taught other sciences.
Since the major occultation of the twelfth Imaam the Shias have, as commanded not only by him but also most of the preceding Imaams, sought guidance from mujtahids and followed the institution of taqleed.
Taqleed literally means to follow or to imitate someone. In Islamic jurisprudence it means to follow a mujtahid in matters pertaining to law. (XXI:7 and IX:124)
Taqleed applies only to matters of shariah. There is no taqleed in matters of beliefs (the articles of faith). A Muslim must seek to attain conviction of their truth through reflection and rational examination.
A mujtahid must be a person learned in all the Islamic sciences. At any given time there would normally be a number of persons qualified as mujtahids and it is not uncommon to have two members of the same family in taqleed of two different mujtahids.
Any muslim can address any question of law to any mujtahid, whether or not he is in the taqleed of that mujtahid and the mujtahid would issue a fatwaa giving his opinion on that subject. This would invariably be by way of a statement of the law which in the opinion of the mujtahid is the correct legal position. The fatwaa would be binding on all the persons in the taqleed of that mujtahid.
A mujtahid is so called because he does ijtehaad which term means to strive for deriving the laws of the shariah from its sources which are:

  1. the Quraan;

  2. the sunnah which mean the traditions (ahadees) and the practice of the Prophet and the Imaams;

  3. reasoning (aql);

  4. consensus of the mujtahids (ijmaa).
B. The Sunni School
The ruling khalifah invariably assumed the mantle of the chief exponent of the shariah.
For nearly a hundred years following the death of the Prophet the State retained absolute control over authentication, collection and publication of the sayings (ahadees) of the Prophet. A few unscrupulous khalifahs did not hesitate to use this power to legitimise their misdeeds by arranging to have apocryphal ahadees produced.
After the Banu Abbas came into power in 132 A.H. (750 A.D.), the formation of the Sunni community was formalised.
Although there are many sects and sub-sects in the sunni school of thought, the four main sects are-

  1. The Hanafis, founded by Imaam Abu Hanifa an-Nu'maan ibne Thabit (died 150 A.H./769 A.D.). He is a scholar greatly respected not only by his followers but also the other sunnis.

  2. The Malikis, founded by Imaam Abu Abdullah Malik ibne Anas (died 179 A.H./797 A.D).

  3. The Shafeis, founded by Imaam Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibne Idris al- Shafei (died 204 A.H/819 A.D.)

  4. The Hanbalis, founded by Imaam Ahmed ibne Muhammad ibne Hanbal (died 241 A.H./855 A.D.)
Although there are many irreconcilable differences in the four Sunni schools, in the main, however, they agree on the fundamental bases of their doctrines and laws. Each claims to have derived them from the following four sources:

  1. The Quraan;

  2. The Sunnah of the Holy Prophet and at times the Sunnah of the first four khalifahs;

  3. The Ijmaa (consensus among the companions of the Prophet or of the religious leaders or among the followers);

  4. The Qiyas (deduction of legal prescriptions from the Quraan and the sunnah through rational analogy).
The extent of the acceptance of the theological and legal doctrines of any of the above four sunni schools depended largely on the inclination of the ruler of the time. For example, although Abu Hanifa himself did not gain great popularity with the khalifah, his successor Abu Yusuf became a powerful figure in the court and held office of the Chief Kadhi.
The khalifah, however, always continued to remain the final arbiter in the exposition of the law and the jurists were relegated to an advisory role.
Since the abolition of the institution of khilafah following the fall of the Ottoman Empire the sunni schools have not developed as fast as they need to so as to keep pace with the social, economic, political and scientific development. Some Sunni sects have recognized the need for ijtehaad, a few appear to concentrate on ijmaa as the main instrument for reform.
In addition to their differences in jurisprudence, the Sunnis and the Shiahs hold divergent theological views on various aspects of the articles of beliefs e.g. human freedom of action and the Justice of God (both discussed above), whether God has a corporeal form. Some sunni sects believe in anthropomorphism.
The Shiahs and the Sunnis, however, agree on the following fundamental beliefs:

  1. That Allah is One and has no partners;

  2. That Muhammad is the last Prophet of God;

  3. That there will be Resurrection and Judgement.
Acts of Worship
The Arabic term used for Acts of worship is Ibaadah. This does not mean worship. It means service. To serve God in the manner in which He has commanded his creatures to serve Him is Ibaadah. The term would include all acts of piety as well as the mandatory acts of worship.
The mandatory acts of worship accepted by both the Sunnis and the Shiahs are:
1. Salaah (The Daily Prayers)
Every Muslim, from the time he or she attains puberty must perform the salaah. Except for a woman in menstruation, no person is excused from this act of worship.
Before a person begins his salaah he must perform the ritual ablution in the prescribed form. The object is symbolic preparation for the salaah and not, as often believed, cleanliness. A person has to be clean to perform the ablution (wudhoo). Then he stands facing Mecca and declares his intention to pray for gaining proximity to Allah. With this declaration he enters the formal state of salaah in which he remains until the completion of his prayers.
A salaah consists of a number of units called rakaahs. Each unit (rakaah) consists of

  1. recitation of the opening chapter and one other chapter of the Quraan while in the standing position,

  2. the bowing down (rukoo) and glorifying God in that position and

  3. two prostrations each called a sajdaah in which again God is glorified. Then the second rakaah would commence.
The morning prayers to be performed between the dawn and sunrise have two rakaahs, the mid-day prayers four rakaahs, the sunset three and the evening four.
The prayers are ended by affirmation that Allah is One and has no partners and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. Salutations are offered to the Prophet, all the righteous souls and all who are engaged in prayers.
Salaah is regarded as not only a ritual act of worship but a communion with the Maker. It is the most important form of ibaadah and sickness (other than insanity), age or infirmity is no excuse for not performing prayers.
Lapsed prayers constitute a debt to God and are a first charge on a muslim's time and conscience. In the event of a person having died without having said any of his lapsed prayers, the eldest son, or if the deceased is not survived by a son, his heir must say or pay someone to say the lapsed prayers of the deceased.
Seyyid Hossein Nasr writes in his Ideals and Realities of Islam:
" In the canonical prayers man stands before God as the representative of all creatures. He prays for and in the name of all beings."
Amongst the many sayings of the Prophet on the subject are:
" Salaah is the spiritual ascension of the faithful where he communes with Allah."
" The good deeds wipe out the evil deeds of a man. The salaah and patience (sabr) are the best of deeds."
Salaah is a spiritual activity where the person performing it is totally immersed, mentally and physically, in the remembrance of God. (XXIX:45, XXII:34 & 35, XXVII:1-3, XX:6-7 and 14, IX:71, LXXIV:38-48, VI:71 & 72, XV:98 & 99, XI:114 & 225).
2. Saum (Fasting).
The second act of worship is fasting in the month of Ramadhaan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. This is obligatory upon every mature muslim except the sick, the traveller, a woman during her menstruation period and those infirm by age.
Fasting involves refraining from eating, drinking and sexual activity from the beginning of the nautical dawn to sunset. But these are not the sole objectives. Fasting is a conscious obedience of Allah's command. It is the human being's struggle to dedicate a whole month to activities which please his Maker. "It is the means", says Nasr, "by which man pulls the reins of his animal desires and realizes that he is more than an animal."
Fasting also begins with a declaration of intent to fast for the attainment of proximity to Allah. (II:184, 185, 187)
It is incumbent upon a muslim to know why he prays and why he fasts. Imaam Ali says, "One who knows not why he prays or why he fasts, his prayers and fasts are little more than meaningless physical exertions, hunger and thirst."
3. Hajj (Pilgrimage To Mecca).
Every Muslim who has attained puberty and has sufficient means not only to undertake a journey to Mecca but also for the subsistence of his dependants during his absence, must once in his life time perform pilgrimage.
Kaaba is the edifice which was presented to God as a gift by His Prophets Abraham and Ishmael.
The rites for the pilgrimage begin on the 8th of the eleventh month and culminate into the Idd of Sacrifice on the 10th. (II:158, 196-203; III:97; V:3; XXII 26:33).
A muslim's journey to the House of God, and there seeking his Maker's forgiveness through expression of repentance and the performance of all the rituals attending pilgrimage, is a spiritual experience so overwhelming that the pilgrim's very soul appears to undergo a purification.
The pilgrimage has another philosophical aspect.
In the Quraan, like in the Old Testament, there is the story of Abraham having been commanded to sacrifice his son. The Quraan, however, states that the son was Ishmael.
The father communicates the message to the young lad who had just attained puberty. The lad exhorts the father to comply with the divine command adding, "God willing, you shall find me amongst the patient ones."
Unbeknown to the mother, the father and the son travel to the planes of Arafaa, a short distance from Mecca. There they spend the night in prayers. The following afternoon they travel to the town of Meena where the sacrifice was to take place. They spend the night on the outskirts of the town. The following morning they enter Meena.
On the way to the appointed place, the Satan tries thrice to lure them into abandoning the enterprise, but each time the father and the son chase him away by throwing pebbles at him.
When they get to the place of sacrifice, the father blindfolds his son saying that he did not wish the lad to see the anguish on the father's face. He then blindfolds himself for, as he reasoned, how could any father watch his son die ?
God saves Ishmael by substituting a ram and sends His salutations to Abraham for his act of obedience. God also promises Abraham to immortalize the event. (II:125-127; III:96-97; XXXVII:101-111).
The mother, on learning what had happened, screams and falls unconscious at the thought of what might have happened had Allah not intervened to save her beloved son. Shortly afterwards she dies and is buried close to Kaaba. Her burial place is treated as being included in the hallowed ground around which the pilgrim circumambulates.
Every pilgrim takes the same route which Abraham and Ishmael had taken. He too spends the first night, as they did, in Arafaa and the second night outside Meena. He too symbolically stones the satan at the three places in Meena.
While of-course the visit to the House of Allah has its own great spirituality, the pilgrim also must reflect upon the rituals which appear to enshrine family values, parents' love for their off-spring, the vanquishing of the satan, the one within man's heart, by symbolically stoning him and above all the willingness to make sacrifices for the pleasure of God.
4. Zakah. (The Wealth Tax).
Zakah, which literally means purity or purification, is a wealth tax of a small percentage (usually 2.5%) for the benefit of the needy in the society. It is regarded as a debt to God and must be distributed for the pleasure of Allah to the less fortunate amongst one's relatives, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarers, and the beggars, and for the freeing of slaves. (II: 2-3, II-43, II:177, IX:11, XXII:41, IX:71, III:91, XIV:91, XXIV:22, XXVI:9, XIV:35-37, XXII:26)
There are innumerable traditions of the Prophet insisting upon zakah being paid by every muslim. Imaam Ja'far Sadiq said that the one who does not give zakah can not expect his salaah to be accepted by Allah.
The Doctrine Of Five Pillars:
Many Sunni theologians, instead of enumerating the Articles of Faith and Acts of Worship separately, state that belief in God and the Prophet as affirmed in the creed (the Kalemah), together with the foregoing four acts of worship constitute the Five Pillars of Faith.
The Shiahs list the five Articles of Faith as the roots of religion (Usool-e-Deen) and the Acts of Worship as the branches of religion (Furoo-e-Deen).
In addition to the above acts of worship the Shiahs believe in the following acts of worship (The sunnis regard them as mandatory acts of piety):
5. Jihad Struggle Or Striving:
There are two kinds of jihad, the major jihad and the minor jihad.
The Major Jihad: (Jihad Al-Akbar)
This is the struggle against one's inner self (nafs) to subjugate and control one's passions and carnal desires. The base self (nafs-e-ammara) must be controlled by the conscience (nafs-e-lawwama), and only when one succeeds in this struggle does one attain the perfect self, the self at peace with itself (nafs-e-mutmainna). To those who attain this state, the God says:
" O the soul at peace, return to your Lord, pleased with His good pleasure AND enter into the company of My true servants. Enter the Garden !." (LXXXIX:27-30).
The Minor Jihad (Jihad Al-Asghar)
This means to struggle for Islam. Not for extension of boundaries, not for personal glory, not for the glory of any tribe, community or nation, but for the defence of Islam and the protection of its values. Such a struggle can take many forms, through the use of pen, through the use of tongue or through the use of the sword. This last form is often referred to in the Quraan as Qitaal (warfare).
In the Shiah theology, a general qitaal can be declared only by an Imaam. A mujtahid has no authority to summon Muslims to a jihad involving qitaal.
6. Amr Bi L-Ma'Aroof (Directing Others Towards Good).
It is an act of worship for a Muslim to advise and direct others to the doing of good deeds for the pleasure of Allah.
7. Nahy 'An Al Munkir (Directing Others Away From Evil).
Similarly it is the duty of every Muslim to advise others against committing sins. (III:103, 109, 113; VII:199; IX:71, 112; XXII:41; XXI:17.)
8. Khums (The One-Fifth Tax)
Only the Shiahs believe in this additional tax and they regard it as a major obligation of every Shiah Muslim. It was instituted by God as a token of regard for the Prophet and his family. (VII:1:41; XXXIII:27; LIX:6-9).
It is a 20% tax on all earnings after deduction of house-hold and commercial expenses.
Khums is paid to the mujtahid and is divided into two equal portions. One half of all receipts of khums by the mujtahid is the portion belonging to the Imaam in occultation and the mujtahid spends this portion in educational, social and economic projects for the betterment of the Shiah community. First priority is accorded to the community from which the khums was received. The second half is distributed amongst the poor and deserving descendants of the Prophet (the sayyids) each of whom may receive only up to a year's subsistence.
Other Acts Of Piety
Islam does not have the concept of secularism. All human activities must be either in accordance of the law (the shariah) or the prescribed code of conduct. An act which accords with either is an act of piety.
A muslim's must consider his life on this earth as a journey from his Maker to his Maker and must strive to gain the pleasure of his Maker. "Give glad tidings to the steadfast who say........`We are from Allah and to Him we return'. Such are they upon whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy. Such are the rightly guided." (II:155-157).
The purpose of every creation, other than humans) is to serve mankind (XXXI:20; XLV:13; LXVII:5). Man, who has been created of the best structure (XCV:4), must serve none other than Allah.(LI:56-58). It will be beneath the dignity and status of man to worship any being, thing or power other than Allah.
The doctrine of the Unity of God is not just an article of faith. It is an important factor in man's comprehension of himself and his raison d'etre. God the One, the Indivisible must be his sole Guide in his journey on this earth.
The sixth Imaam explaining the Unity of God said, " The true ibaadah is for the human being to ensure that the essence of the unity of God lies between his intent and his deed.
The Prophet has said, "Man's every action must incline towards Allah".
The Islamic ethical code is too vast and extensive to permit a full discussion in this course. We shall, therefore, confine ourselves to a cursory glance at a few aspects of the code of conduct.
Pursuit of Knowledge:
Islam regards ignorance as impure (najasah) and the acquisition of knowledge as a great act of piety. "One who has knowledge can never be equal to the one who is ignorant" (XXXIX:9).
The Prophet has said:
"It is the duty of every muslim male and every muslim female to seek knowledge".
"Seek knowledge even if you have to travel as far as China for it."
"Sitting an hour in a learned gathering is better than a thousand nights spent in performance of (optional) salaah, and better than engaging in a battle for the sake of God on thousand occasions. If one leaves one's house with the intention of gaining knowledge, for every step that he takes God shall bestow upon him the reward reserved for a prophet."
Respect for, and obedience and kindness to, parents are enjoined upon Muslims. Obedience is, however, excused where the parents require injustice to be perpetrated. (XVII:23, XXIX:8, XXXI:14, XLVI:15-18).
The Prophet has said:
"It is an act of worship to look at either parent with affection and kindness".
"Allah is pleased when one has pleased his parents, and Allah is angry when one has angered either parent".
"Paradise lies under the feet of your mother".
Quraan enjoins the spending of one's wealth in the cause of Allah, for the poor, the needy, the freeing of slaves, the curing of the sick and other good causes. Charity is a precondition to the attainment of piety. (II:195, 215, 245, 254, 261, 262-273; III:92; XXXVI:47; LVII:10, 11; LXIV:15-18)
There are innumerable traditions of the Prophet and the Imaams on the merits of charity. In one of these it is said, "If you have nothing to give, give a kind word or even just an affectionate smile."
Dissemination of knowledge by a scholar is an act of charity. So is the visiting of a sick.
Caring for the bereaved is also a great act of piety. There is a tradition which requires the extended family or the community to feed the immediate family of the deceased for at least three days after the death has occurred and to offer them solace and comfort.
Resisting Oppression:
Imaam Ali has said:
" To suffer oppression passively is as bad as to commit oppression".
"He who makes no effort to alleviate the suffering of an oppressed one is an oppressor".
A muslim is required to act with justice in all his dealings with other human beings and in all circumstances. (IV:58, 105, 135; VII:29; XVI:90).
In IV:135 the Quraan says:
"O You who believe, be staunch in justice.......though it may be against your interests, or the interests of your parents or near relatives, and whether you are dealing with a rich person or a poor person. Remember Allah is nearer to them both in compassion. Therefore do not follow your low desires."
Lewdness And Indecencies:
These are totally forbidden. (XVI:90)
Idle Chatter, Slander and Infringement of Privacy:
These are totally forbidden. (XLIX:11 & 12)
The Freeing of Slaves:
This is not only an act of piety but is also prescribed as the primary penalty for certain wilful acts or omissions e.g. failure to fast or repay a lapsed fast, infringement of any regulation required to be observed during pilgrimage etc.
Liberation of slaves was also highly recommended as an atonement for various sins.
Ill treatment of slaves and servants is also forbidden.
It is highly recommended that zakaah and other alms be spent for liberating slaves. (XXIV:33; IX:60; II:177; XC:12, 13).
Reasoning And Reflection:
"Will they not reflect and ponder on the Quraan or are there locks on their intellect ?" (XLVII:24)
"Say unto them, O Muhammad: I exhort you unto one thing only. That you awake for Allah's sake, by two or singly, and then reflect." (XXXIV:46)
"In the creation of heavens and earth and in the difference between night and day are tokens for men of understanding. These are those who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and then cry out): Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain. Glory be to Thee !" (III:190-191).
The eighth Imaam has said:
"Worship does not lie in engaging oneself in saying prayers endlessly or in fasting copiously, but in engaging oneself in the contemplation of the works of Allah."
The Prophet has said, "Allah has endowed man with the most precious gift, the reason. The slumber of a man of reason is better than the movement of the ignorant."
Other Good Deeds:

  1. Respect for the elders.

  2. Respect for teachers and scholars.
    The Fourth Imaam has said, " Your teacher has the following rights. Firstly, total respect from you. Secondly that you listen attentively when he speaks. Thirdly, that you never raise your voice in his presence".

  3. Hospitality.

  4. The keeping of promises, adhering to contracts and covenants, and repayment of debts. All these are mandatory. In V:1 God says, " O you who believe, fulfil your undertakings".

  5. The forgiving of any debt owed to one by a person unable to repay.
Women in Islam
Islam does not accept that the first woman was created of any inferior composition (IV:1) or that it was Eve who fell to the promptings of Satan in disobeying God. Both were equally to blame. (VII:20-21).
Women play an important role and are equal partners of men.
"The women are raiment (comfort, embellishment and protection) for you and you are raiment for them." (II:187; IV:1).
As a daughter, she is to be shown greater affection than a son. The Prophet commands that a daughter must receive twice as much love and affection as a son.
As a wife, the woman has no obligation to provide for her husband or the children out her income or wealth. The husband has this responsibility. What a woman earns, or receives by way of inheritance or gift, is her own property over which she has sole control.
It is injustice for the husband to require the wife to do the house-hold chores. It is for the parties to agree on the division of labour.
The wife, however, is under a duty to obey the lawful and just commands of her husband.
As a mother the woman occupies a unique position. She is placed upon an almost divine pedestal. She must be obeyed (save where obedience would lead to injustice), revered and her feelings never hurt. The Prophet has said that while both parents must be obeyed and respected, the father's place is three rungs below that of the mother.
The woman is the pivot of the family, and Islam holds the family as being the most important unit of the society. From the moment of conception to birth and up to the attainment of puberty, it is the mother who shapes the mind, the thinking and the behaviour of that future member of the society. The Prophet repeatedly emphasised the importance of the upbringing of children and the role of the mother.
He is reported to have said:
"It is better to bring up your children so that they have good manners and morals than to spend your wealth for the pleasure of Allah."
There are also several traditions of the Prophet and the Imaams about the treatment and conduct of pregnant mothers.
The Quraan commands both men and women to `lower their gaze and be modest'.
The women have been further commanded `not to display their ornaments except what appears thereof and to wear their head-coverings over their bosom and not to display their ornaments except to their husband (and other members of their family within the prohibited degree of marriage e.g. a son, father, brother, uncles excluding uncles by marriage etc.)'. (XXIV:30 & 31).
Again in XXXIII:59 God says:
"O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments. This will be more proper. They will be known and will therefore not be given trouble."
The above verses have been interpreted by some jurists as requiring a veiled face and body and others as requiring a scarf over the head to conceal the hair (an essential ornament) and the rest of the body, except the face, the hands and the feet, to be covered by a loose fitting outer garment. In different cultures different forms of women`s dress, or veil or "purdah" have evolved.
The Quraanic object clearly appears to be protection of women from molestation and disrespect, and not their treatment as inferior beings.
Marriage is a solemn contract between a man and a woman, each giving his or her consent freely and without any duress, to become life partners and enjoy the rights conferred and fulfil the obligations imposed by the shariah.
The basic requirements are free consent, the mahr (dowry) and the recitation of the marriage formula (the aqd) in the prescribed form and perfect Arabic. The mahr is the giving or a promise to give any sum of money to the bride and/or to fulfil any condition or obligation that the bride may impose.
The parties may recite the aqd themselves or appoint agents to do so on their behalf.
According to some Shiah jurists the bride may, in the mahr, confer upon herself a right to divorce, or provide for the division of property of property in the event of divorce or any other condition to reserve for herself any right or benefit which under the shariah she would not normally enjoy.
The relationship between husband and wife must be founded upon love and mutual tolerance:
"And of His (God's) signs is that He has created for you mates from amongst yourselves so that you might find comfort and solace in them, and He has ordained between you love and mercy." (XXX:21)
There are many traditions and sayings on thios subject. Two are given below:

  1. May Allah bless the man who lays the foundation of his relations with his wifeon goodness. (Imaam Ja'far Sadiq)

  2. A man must honour and love his wife. (The Prophet)
Temporary Marriages (Mutaa):
The Shiah law also permits temporary marriages. It has the same rights and obligations as a permanent marriage except that the marriage will terminate by effluxion of time, and, if the parties so agree, the relationship may be for companionship only without consummation.
A marriage with up to four wives is permitted. There are, however, strict conditions as to equal and just treatment of all the wives.
Islam permits divorce where the marriage has irreparably broken down. But first there must be a process of reconciliation in which the elders of the two families as well as of the community must strive to get the parties to reconcile.
The Prophet has said that of all the permissible things divorce is the most detestable to Allah.
Political Science
Sovereignty belongs to God. The ruler, whether a king or an elected or nominated representative, can only rule as His vicegerent and in accordance with His laws. (XLII:38; XXII:41).
When Imaam Ali was finally elected the khalifah he endeavoured to establish an Islamic government but alas he was not permitted to rule for long.
However, during the five years of Ali's reign he wrote several letters to his Governors and Commanders restating the principles of governance in Islam. These letters and instructions have been compiled into a book called `Nahjul Balaagah', English translations of which are available. The most famous of these documents is Ali's letter to his Governor in Egypt, Maalik Ashtar, which deals with a variety of subjects including administration, judiciary, treatment of non-muslims, the army and the conduct of a ruler or his representative. In the preamble of the letter Ali says:
"This is what Allah's servant Ali has ordered Malik ibne al-Harith al-Ashtar when he appointed him Governor of Egypt, for the collection of its (Egypt's) revenues, fighting against its enemies, seeking the good of its people and making its cities properous."
The Quraan & Modern Science
The French author Maurice Bucaille has written a book entitled `La Bible, le Coran et la Science', which has been translated into English. In this book the author writes:
"The relationship between the Qur'an and science is a priori a surprise, especially when it turns out to be one of harmony and not of discord........The totally erroneous statements made about Islam in the West are sometimes the result of ignorance and some times of systematic denigration."
The author then proceeds to take various scientific subjects and give Quraanic references which fully accord with the modern scientific conclusions. While it is not proposed to deal with the subject in any detail in this course, it might be interesting to give here a few of the scientific subjects dealt with by Bucaille and the corresponding Quraanic verses cited by him:
The sky:
(L:6; XIII:2; XLV:13; X:5).
The Planets:
(XXIV:35; XXXVII:6).
Celestial organization:
(XXXVI:40; XXXV:13; LI:47).
Conquest of space:
(LV:33; XV:14 & 15).
The earth:
(II:22; XX:53 & 54).
The water cycle:
(XXX:48; VII:57; XXV:48 & 49).
Origin of life in water:
(XXI:30; XX:53).
Vegetable and animal reproduction:
(XX:53; XII:3; LIII:45 & 46).
Animal communities:
(XVI:68 & 69).
Human reproduction:
(LXXXII: 6-8; XVI:4; LXXV:37; XXIII:13; XXII:5; XXIII:14; LIII:45 & 46; XXXV:11).
Islamic Jurisprudence
This too is a subject beyond the scope of this course. The main sources of Islamic Jurisprudence are the Quraan and the sunnah, and encompasses inheritance, marriage, divorce, paternity, waqfs (trusts), contracts, penal laws, evidence and procedure.
Islamic Culture ?
Culture has been defined as "the totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought characteristic of a community or a population. It is the set of shared beliefs, attitudes, values, and behavioral patterns of a group or organisation." (Readers Digest Universal Dictionary)
Religion on the other hand is "the expression of man's belief in and reverence for God or gods who created the Universe and Govern it."
It is as naive to think that any religion encompasses the totality of culture as it is to think that any culture is solely the product of a religion.
Islam like many other religions claims to be universal accommodating within its fold the cultures of all its adherents provided that the bounds of the religious laws are not transgressed.
Islam has broad parameters of rules and regulations and within these parameters an African can remain as much a Muslim as a Pakistani or a Bangladeshi or an English-man or Scots-man or an American or Chinese or any individual from any country anywhere in the world.
Nevertheless there is a difference of opinion on whether Islam has its own distinct culture. Scholars are divided on whether there is a central cultural theme in Islam.
Some vehemently argue that there is such a central theme.
Others maintain that because of the universality of Islam it is wrong to insist upon a common cultural theme.
This latter school of thought argue that culture is an historical heritage of a nation, people or society in the fields of art, architecture, dress, cuisine, language, literature and other cultural norms and pursuits. Islam, on the other hand, consists of beliefs, acts of worship, a code of conduct and jurisprudence. So long as the culture of a society lies within the parameters of Islamic beliefs, acts of worship, code of conduct and the shariah, that culture would be acceptable in Islam. Many an artist, architect, poet, author and chef has, upon acceptance of Islam, adjusted himself/herself so as conform to the Islamic requirements.
Muslims in Britain
There is a substantial muslim community in Great Britain and at times there occur conflicts between them and other communities.
It is wrong to link racism with religion. Racism is an attitude of hostility based upon racial prejudice. This is often exploited by unscrupulous politicians and community leaders for their own ends.
Unfortunately, both the victims and the perpetrators of racial prejudice tend to foster the image of it being the result of the diversity in religious beliefs. This often rallies support for the victim community and provides the perpetrators with the mantle of defending their faith.
At the same time there is amongst the indigenous population a fear, nurtured by irresponsible media, that Islam poses a threat to their community.
If a solution is not found, and found soon, the muslim communities could be driven to extreme ethnicity with the future generation growing up as pariahs in their own country.
Consideration must be given to promoting a better understanding of Islam in the indigenous population. For this both the communities will need to strive hard.
Islam is a tolerant religion. It accepts Christianity and Judaism as sister faiths and respects other religions as well. The Muslims are enjoined to respect churches, synagogues and other places of worship.
There is a need to ensure that each side is enriched by the values of the religion of the other through amicable inter-action without anyone from either side losing his identity.
To ensure harmony efforts must be made to create a community of British muslims rather than a community, or a number of communities, of muslims in Britain.