Wednesday, 26 June 2019

"Defending Muhammad in Modernity" - SherAli Tareen

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

What Being Malala's Father Taught Me About Feminism

Long before my daughter, Malala Yousafazi, was born, long before we began fighting for girls’ rights to education together, and long before the Taliban’s brutal attack on her brought the world’s attention to her story, I made a decision.

Growing up in a village in Shangla, northern Pakistan, I was surrounded by patriarchy. I had five sisters and a brother and I saw how we boys got better shoes, more clothes, and tastier cuts of chicken than the girls. I saw how my mother couldn’t go out unescorted and, on documents like doctors’ prescriptions, was never referred to by her name – Maharo Bibi – but as mother of Ziauddin, or wife of Rohul Amin. And, worst of all, I saw how I got to go to school, while my sisters stayed home, crippling their future.

I was very determined that if I ever got to be a father, I’d be different.

When I married my wife, Toor Pekai, we chose to build an egalitarian family, respecting each other as equal partners and raising our daughter Malala the same way we raised our sons, Khusal and Atal. I didn’t hear the word feminist until I was 45, after the attack on Malala led us to move to the city of Birmingham in the U.K. But it was feminism I had been trying to spread in my family, and in my community, for years.

I believe fathers have a crucial role to play in the fight for women’s rights. Of course, when your rights are being violated — at home, at work, anywhere — your voice is the most powerful to challenge your oppression. And so women’s voices are the most important in feminism. But in patriarchal societies, a father’s voice is perhaps the next most important tool to galvanize change.

We have seen great moments in history, from the Suffragettes, to #MeToo, and wonderful global organizations and local organizations, who are working for gender equality, and for the rights of women and girls. But in patriarchal societies – which even many Western countries still are –, one platform, one organization, is universal: the family. When a father begins a journey into feminism, believing in the worth of his daughters, he can change his whole family’s future.

I’m not sure why I chose to start that journey, while other men accept the values passed down to them for centuries. Maybe it’s because I was bullied as a child, for my dark skin and my stammering problem, so I was angry about any kind of discrimination against someone for the way they are born.

But I am sure of one thing: patriarchy is sheer stupidity. Fathers have a great interest in dismantling it. And we as campaigners need to communicate that to them.

Life within patriarchy is a sad, frustrated life, for everyone. I have seen families in Pakistan where a father and mother have one boy and five or six girls. Because of social norms, the father and his one son go out to earn for the whole family. The burden falls to them, while all his sisters have to stay back at home, not sent to school, unable to do jobs, just waiting to get married. A guy sacrifices his life for a foolish norm, and girls don’t see their potential unlocked. And, even in countries like the U.S. and the U.K., while girls are educated and often have the same opportunities as boys, issues like pay inequality, sexual harassment and misogyny continue to damage girls’ careers and personal lives. Unhappiness breeds unhappiness.

Fathers who help unlock their daughter’s potential, standing up for their rights and raising them to believe they have them, bring prosperity and happiness to their entire families. Worldwide, according to our data at the Malala Fund and the World Bank, if we gave all the girls in the world free, quality education for 12 years, we would add between 15 and 30 trillion dollars to the world economy. It really is win, win.

These arguments are powerful, and the arguments for patriarchy are weak. That is why the Taliban shot Malala in 2012 as she and I campaigned against their ban on girls going to school. They knew that one girl with a voice can create more change than their guns and bombs.

The attack was the worst thing that could happen to a family and remembering it is traumatic. Malala is not just my daughter, she is my comrade, my soulmate – jani, in Urdu, my nickname for her. To see her on the verge between life and death was terrible. But it did not affect our commitment to equality. If anything, it made us more sure that our fight is worthwhile.

Now, as Malala campaigns around the world without me and studies for her degree at Oxford University, I miss her deeply. Her first week in her dorm room, I peeked in and shed a few tears while she wasn’t there, thinking about how independent she has become.

But in my heart, I was so happy to see her move freely and confidently around the world, no longer needing me as an escort. Good parents should want their children to be as independent as early as possible.

Within my family, we have broken the chains of patriarchy. Because of that, all of us — not only Malala and Toor Pekai, but my sons and I too — are free.


Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Great Muslim Philosopher Al Beruni Was World’s First Anthropologist

Al Beruni’s methodology is rigorous. As Sachau writes in his preface, “it is the method of our author not to speak himself, but to let the Hindus speak… He presents a picture of Indian civilization as painted by the Hindus themselves.” Al Beruni leans heavily on primary Hindu sources, learning Sanskrit for this purpose, writing, “I do not spare either trouble or money in collecting Sanskrit books from places where I supposed they were likely to be found.”

He was perhaps the first Muslim to study the Puranas, the Hindu classical texts. In addition, secondary sources — translations by Arab and Persian scholars — are consulted. He travels extensively in India and associates with Hindus, especially Brahmins and yogis. He emphasizes “hearsay does not equal eye witness.” The anthropologist’s task is to “simply relate without criticizing,” and Al Beruni strictly avoided making value judgments of other people’s customs and cultures.

He is as unsparing to Arabs (when commenting on their pre-Islamic customs) as he is of certain traits of Hindus such as their “haughtiness.” Terming Hindus “haughty” may seem like a value judgment but Al Beruni observed that Hindus saw their land, their customs, their food etc. as the best in the world. The xenophobic pride of the Hindus was to become an essential part of their cultural defense system against the repeated onslaught of Muslims during and after Mahmud of Ghazni’s reign.

Al Beruni throws a wide net for comparative purposes referring to Jews, Christians, Parsis and the ancient Greeks for whom he has undisguised admiration. And his sympathy for universal mysticism is reflected in the comparison he makes between Sufi, Hindu and Christian mystics.

Al Beruni’s dispassionate commentary measures up to the highest contemporary scientific standards in the social sciences. As the Australian scholar Arthur Jeffery wrote of Al Beruni, “It is rare until modern times to find so fair and unprejudiced a statement of the views of other religions, so earnest an attempt to study them in the best sources, and such care to find a method which for this branch of study would be both rigorous and just.” “Above all,” the Pakistani scholar Hakeem Mohammed Saeed wrote in his Al Biruni: Commemorative Volume, “he had an open, universal mind and a keen desire to drink deep from the Fountain of Truth, whatever its source.”

Al Beruni is the embodiment of the Quranic injunction to seek knowledge, or ilm, and the Prophet (pbuh) had exhorted Muslims to acquire knowledge even if it meant going as far as China. While referring to the Holy Quran to back his statements — his faith in Islam is strong as is his relief to be born a Muslim — he reflects on the essential oneness of man. Al Beruni’s God is the creator of all things and all peoples. Islam has neither hindered the scholar’s enterprise nor has his Muslimness been compromised. When Al Beruni wrote, Islam was on the ascendant in world affairs. Yet neither condescension nor contempt mar his work.

The recognition of Al Beruni as the first major anthropologist of Islam thus opens both theoretical and methodological doors for Muslim social scientists. Almost a thousand years before European Indianists such as Louis Dumont and Adrian Mayer, Al Beruni had exhaustively examined, and suggested a methodology for the study of, caste and kinship in India.


Monday, 17 June 2019

Do you really know them? Mufti Menk

Kharashah ibn al-Hurr reported: A man gave his testimony to Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. Umar said to him, “I do not know you and it will not harm you that I do not know. Bring someone who knows you.” A man from his people said, “I know him.” Umar said, “What do you know about him?” The man said, “His justice and virtue.” Umar said, “Is he your closest neighbor, such that you know him by his coming and going by day and night?” The man said no. Umar said, “Then, have you had business dealings with him, by which you are shown his piety?” The man said no. Umar said, “Then, have you traveled with him on a journey, by which you are shown his good character?” The man said no. Umar said, “You do not know him.” Umar turned to the witness and said, “Bring me someone who knows you.”
Source: al-Sunan al-Kubrá 19769
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Who can be Awliya' Allah or Friend of Allah (azza wa jal)

[10:61] In whatever matter you [Prophet] may be engaged and whatever part of the Qur'an you are reciting, whatever work you [people] are doing, We witness you when you are engaged in it. Not even the weight of a speck of dust in the earth or sky escapes your Lord, nor anything lesser or greater: it is all written in a clear record. [10:62] But for those who are on God’s side there is no fear, nor shall they grieve. [10:63] For those who believe and are conscious of God,...

Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, explains in Surah Yunus, who are the friends of Allah عزّ وجلّ. Explaining verse 61-63, he says:

Ayah 61
You won’t find yourself in any situation and you won’t recite any portion of the Qur’aan, from any part of the recitation (there is a switch, Allaah عزّ وجلّ is talking to His messenger), you will not find yourself in any situation, you will not recite a single ayah anywhere from the Qur’aan. As for all of the Muslims there isn’t a single deed that any will be doing except that We will be upon you especially your witnesses. Allaah عزّ وجلّ is witness over all things but He is saying “I will be a special witness upon you” - Allaah عزّ وجلّ says, whatever action that one does He is a witness over us even whilst we are engulfed in it. Ibn Al faaris reports: they lose track of everything else they are so busy in that. Allaah عزّ وجلّ is watching this and is appreciating it. ‘Azaba = when you watch somebody walk away they go so far you can’t see them anymore. So you slowly see them disappear. Or if you take a pebble and throw it into a lake it slowly becomes smaller until it disappears. Allaah عزّ وجلّ says nothing disappears from the Vision of your Master no matter how far you think it goes. Mimmithqaali zarratin = from the weight of a speck, Fil ardi wa la fissamaa = in the earth and whatever is above. Wa laa asghar min zaalik = and whatever that can be smaller than that too or bigger, Allaah عزّ وجلّ is telling us the smallest deed that you do for this deen will not go unappreciated. I will be a special witness of that deed for you.

Ayah 62
You had better know, the protective friends, the deep, trustworthy friends of Allaah, there is no fear on them and they’re not the ones who will be grieving. In other words, in doing so and keeping the work up we have the opportunity to become the awliyaa of Allaah. The next ayah defines the walee of Allaah عزّ وجلّ

Ayah 63
Those who have emaan and they maintain the quality of taqwa in their life. The reason why Allaah عزّ وجلّ made the friendship of Allaah between the slave and the Master realistic is because when it is made unrealistic that is when help is sought from somebody else and say that he is much better than us, he should be Allaah’s عزّ وجلّ wali. The shafa’ happened because people were distant from Allaah عزّ وجلّ.

It is possible for all of us to be friends of Allah عزّ وجلّ as long as we have Iman and maintain the quality of Taqwa in our life.

Below is another lecture on this topic by Ustadh Nouman.