Tuesday 30 March 2021

Pakistan’s first transgender-only madrasa breaks barriers


A long white shawl on her head, Rani Khan gives daily Quran lessons at Pakistan’s first transgender-only madrasa, a religious school she set up herself using her life savings. The school is an important milestone for the LGBTQ community in the Muslim-majority country, where transgender people face ostracism, even though there is no official restriction on them attending religious schools or praying at mosques. 

“Most families do not accept transgender people. They throw them out of their homes. Transgender people turn to wrongdoing,” Khan, 34, said, as other transgender people, their heads similarly covered, swayed back and forth behind her, reciting verses from the Quran. “At one time, I was also one of them.” Holding back tears, Khan recalled how she was disowned by her family at 13 and forced into begging. 

At 17, she joined a transgender group, dancing at weddings and other functions, but quit it to connect with her religion after a dream in which a deceased transgender friend and fellow dancer pleaded with her to do something for the community. Khan studied the Quran at home and attended religious schools, before opening the two-room madrasa in October. 

 “I’m teaching the Quran to please God, to make my life here and in the hereafter,” Khan said, explaining how the school offered a place for transgender people to worship, learn about Islam and repent for past actions. She says the school has not received aid from the government, although some officials promised to help students find jobs. 

 Along with some donations, Khan is teaching her students how to sew and embroider, in hopes of raising funds for the school by selling clothing. Pakistan’s parliament recognised the third gender in 2018, giving such individuals fundamental rights such as the ability to vote and choose their gender on official documents. Nonetheless, the transgender community remains on the margins in the country, and often has to resort to begging, dancing and prostitution to make a living. 

The madrasa could help trans people assimilate into mainstream society, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat told the Reuters news agency. “I’m hopeful that if you replicate this model in other cities, things will improve,” he said. A madrasa for transgender people has opened in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and last year, a Christian transgender group started its own church in Pakistan’s bustling southern port city of Karachi. Pakistan’s 2017 census recorded about 10,000 transgender people, though trans rights groups say the number could now be well over 300,000 in the country of 220 million. “It gives my heart peace when I read the Quran,” said 19-year-old school student, Simran Khan, who is also eager to learn life skills. “It is much better than a life full of insults.”  


Tuesday 23 March 2021

Urdu did not have a word for "rape".

When partition happened, men of all three religions took it upon themselves to humiliate the other group by ensuring that their women carried the sperm of the other's religion. Mass rapes took place. Carried out by men of all three religions against women of all three religions. In case a woman got raped, it was likely that she'd be killed by her own male family members in order to protect their honour. The situation got so bad that the only way women could think of saving themselves from such a fate was to end their lives themselves. Suicides became common. Women would often jump in wells to kill themselves until wells started filling up with dead bodies. At one point women had to actively search for wells with some space left to die in.

August 1947, two states celebrated indepedance. Urdu did not have a word for "rape".
When Bengal asked for its independance, it did so because the East Pakistanis felt deprived of its right. The Bengali man realized he would never be allow to run his own country or be a part of it. The Pakistani man could not fathom how the Bengali man could place his interest over national sovereignity. War ensued. Thousands died as an army turned against its own people. Thousands were raped. In one of the most horrifying cases on war crimes in modern human history, the Pakistani army raped thousands on Bengali women in an effort to insert their sperm in the Bengali lineage as payback for the Bengali man to prioritize his interests over national cohesion. The number of rapes was so high that rehabilitation of these women became one of the top most priorities of the newly born Bangladeshi state. The government promised economic reward to men who would marry these victims of wartime rape. In a war torn, newly independant state, men jumped at the opportunity. They married these women, claimed their economic reward and left them soon after. Further stigmatizing these women, until they started being conflated with sex workers.
Pakistan lost a war. Committed one of the biggest incidents of war crimes. Lost half the country. Thousands of women had their lives turned upside down.
Urdu did not have a word for "rape".
When Zia-ul-Haq came into power, he put into practice the Hudood Ordinance. One of those laws contained the Islamic judgement on Zina.
The Islamic judgement on Zina states that if an individual accuses two people of adultery, he is required to bring forth at least four eye witnesses as evidence. In case of failure, the individual would be charged with defamation. The laws of Zina were meant to ensure that public acts of sex did not become common, and any act taking place behind closed doors did not become a matter of public debate, and be dealt with privately.
Men raped women prior to the imposition of the Hudood law. Men raped women after the imposition of the Hudood law.

Women tended to remain quiet after being raped in order to protect familial honour. So they did.
But rapes can get women pregnant, and now when a woman carried a child of rape in her womb, she had to go to the police station in order to report her rape so that she not be accused of adultery.
The law then asked her the question that was supposed to protect her against defamation: bring forth four witnesses of rape. Because you see, urdu did not have a word for rape. Despite a national history so closely tied to it, it did not have the concept of rape. Female anguish was not spoken of in our national language. It was not heard. It was only inflicted.
As far as the imposition of Hudood Ordinance in Pakistan was concerned zina was adultery, zina was rape. And if zina had taken place, then the person claiming it to have taken place, in this case a pregnant victim who is left with no option but to report, had to bring forth four eye witnesses of her rape. How do you bring forth four witnesses in the case or rape, when the entire logic to bring forth four witnesses was to ensure that the private does not become public.
The catch: the woman has reported she was raped. Rape is zina in this reality. There is a life in her womb as testament to it. But there is no man.
The woman has "confessed" but there aren't four eye witnesses to support her against the man she accuses.

The raped woman is sent to jail for Zina under the Hudood Ordinance.
Sometimes no man was sent to jail for being the counterpart. In case that the rapist was influential, it was arranged that some other man be accused for it instead. This man could be anyone. Someone who was in love with the victim. Someone who friends with her. Someone who was cordial to her. Someone who took pity on her. It doesn't matter. As long as the two could be placed in the same vicinity by the locals. The man was then accused. Taken into custody. Tortured and forced a false confession out of.
In the 1980s, as Pakistan celebrated itself as the nation that brought a super power to its knees, women were being sentenced for their own rape. And men were being dissuaded from even being seen close to them.
Because Urdu did not have a word for "rape".
That is when women took to streets and demanded this be put an end to. Remember the iconic image of women burning their dupattas? It was in one of the many protests women conducted against Zia's multiple misogynistic laws to protect the "Islamic" culture.
Women marched.
After decades of being raped. Being killed by brothers and fathers after being raped. Killing themselves to prevent from being raped. Being raped in a war by their own army. Being exploited after being raped by their own men. Being raped and being sent to jail for it, women finally forced the language to create a word for that experience.
In the 1980s, we finally had a word in the vocabulary that described the experience of women in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan: Zina-bil-Jabr.
It was still just a word. Not the law. Introducing Zina bil Jabr in the vocabulary meant that in the case of rape a woman can accuse her rapist under Zina bil Jabr instead of Zina. And her accusation not being taken as a confession of adultery. She still had to produce four eye witnesses of rape in order for there to be a conviction. Again, impossible.
The introduction of the concept of Zina bil Jabr meant that the state will not punish the woman for being raped. It did not mean that the state would protect her against being raped.
Men knew that the chances of being convicted in the case of rape were slim to none. Thus, there was nothing preventing them from raping women like they used to by the state.
What followed was a feminist struggle of years. Women repeatedly argued that the four-witnesses-for-rape charge is an impossible condition for any victim to fulfil.
To which, men responded that it is Islamic law. Men argued that Islam has given women rights already. Demanding there to be an overturn in the law is the result of a westernized mind being antagonistic towards Islamic traditions of the country.
1) It is not an Islamic Law.
2) Pakistan has a history of sexual violence against the women
3) We have heard it. We still hear it. We will hear it for eternity.
After another two and a half decades of struggle, in 2006, there was finally a act passed in the assembly: The Women Protection Act of 2006 that removed the four eye witness condition from a rape charge.
The act stated that in case of a rape charge, forensic evidence will be considered adequate evidence for a man to be charged with rape.
We got a word for our experience four decades after they said we were independant.
We got a shot at justice 59 years after they said we were independant.
Islamic Republic of Pakistan, this.
Men raped women when they got this country.
Men raped women when they lost this country.
Men raped women when they went on a Holy War.
And men never had a word for what they did to us.
Women were raped.
Women were killed for being raped.
Women killed themselves to prevent themselves from being raped.
Women were raped by the men they paid to protect them.
Women were married as a stepping stone and discarded.
Women were raped and were sent to jail for it.
Women were raped and were made to stay quiet about it because they couldn't possibly prove it in courts.
Women marched.
Women marched against a dictators.
Women fought for a word to describe decades worth of trauma. The trauma of existence in this hellhole.
Women fought against the state. The men with guns.
Women fought against decades of stifling tradition.
Women fought against the men who have the Holy Book on their chest and darkness in their hearts.
Women fought against every man who ridiculed her. Who raised his finger on her character. Who accused her of being a pawn of the enemy.
Women fought against the men who raped her.
Women fought for the law that gives her a shot at justice.

So never tell me what our culture is. Never utter the same words to me that you uttered to these women. Because I know what our culture is. Our culture is to rape women and celebrate our nationhood on her body. Our culture is to rape women and celebrate our religion on her body. Our culture is to not even have a word for male atrocities. Our culture is to make enemies of the women who fight against those atrocities.
If men were made to remain quiet for the atrocities they have committed on us, none of them would be allowed to ever speak again.
I will set fire to your culture and dance around the pyre. Watch me dance.
Women breathe because women march.
And women will.

Written by: Aiman Faisal

Saturday 20 March 2021

Detailed Discussion on the Fiqh of Salah by Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Join Dr. Sh. Yasir Qadhi as he discuesses the Fiqh of Salah(Prayer), its conditions, pillars, actions, rulings, and everything regarding the Salah.



Wednesday 17 March 2021

Permissibility of Celebrating Birthdays and Anniversaries - Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Birthdays are halal because there is nothing to make them haraam. I celebrate my own birthday and birthdays of all my loved ones. This is the daleel I believe in. 

In a distant, self absorbed and sometimes extremely busy world we do need a day to make those close to us feel special. And this can be done without indulging in haraam. Gifts, cake, lunch or dinner together with friends and family. Notes of appreciation and flowers. 

There are legit Muslims who deem birthdays haraam not because they think they are haraam but just because they don't want to put in the effort or spend that money to make those in their lives feel special.
Although, I respect and know there is a difference of opinion about not celebrating birthdays. Don't celebrate if you don't want to. But don't degrade others who do celebrate knowing there are scholars who allow it. 🙂  

❝On top of this some of the celebrations can actually bring a positive that the shariah wants, love between families. Anniversaries are one of the most easiest ways to win your wife's heart back - mashaAllah tabarakallah.Please don't forget your anniversaries. I say it is sunnah meaning, the goals of the shariah sunnah not the prophet ﷺ did sunnah. Don't misunderstand me.
It is of the goals of shariah to celebrate annivesary. QUOTE ME ON THAT.❞

- Shaykh Yasir Qadhi


Tuesday 16 March 2021

A mother's prayers....


When Imam Bukhari was 3 years of age, he lost his eyesight.
His mother promised herself that she would pray #tahajjud salah until Allah restores her son's eyesight back.
And that's exactly what she did. She prayed tahajjud every night until one night in a dream she saw Ibrahim (as) give her the good news that Imam Bukhari's eyesight had been restored. She ran to her son and when he awoke, he found himself with vision again.
Lessons for me: This mother didn't go into a state of helplessness after her young child lost his eyesight.
Being a single mother, she didn't lose hope and become disheartened with the difficulty she would have to face with bringing up a son with a disability. She knew very well the power of dua. She knew the beauty that lies in praying tahajjud salah. She knew Allah comes down to the lowest heaven asking his servants to make dua to Him at this time. Her taqwa, her conviction in the Might of Allah is what led her to consistently pray. 

To pray tahajjud salah means you sacrifice your sleep. But she did it without fail. It wasn't a "sacrifice" on her behalf but a most needed task.
When we read about the life of Imam Bukhari or know what his contribution to Islamic history and education is, how can we not look back at the household he grew up in. The mother that raised him. The mother that made dua for him in the darkness of the night.
A widow, a single mother. But she had a wealth many of us fail to embrace. She devoted herself as a slave.
These women are our role models. These women are who we look up to. Not because we know how pretty or amazing they were in looks. But because in the face of tests, they remained close to Allah. With a history filled with women who brought up men like Imam Bukhari and others, how can we feel demotivated when it comes to our own children.
If we want good for our children, and see them grow up to be good slaves, we need to take the necessary steps to become a good slave too.

This reminder about this mother's dua came at such a perfect and apt time for me. A time when I've become extremely worried about my children. This reminded me that dua is no small thing.
- Gilded Dunya

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Hadith: Charity


The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "For every Muslim there is (compulsory charity)." The people then asked the Prophet: "What if someone has nothing (to give)?" He replied: "(Then) he [or she] should work with his hands so he may benefit himself and give in charity." The people said: "What if he cannot work or does not work?" The Prophet replied: "Then he should help an oppressed person (by word or action or both)." They again asked: "And if he does not do that?" The Prophet said: "Then he should enjoin what is good." They asked finally: "If he does not do that?" The Prophet replied: "Then he should refrain from doing evil, for that will be considered for Him as (charity)." Sahih Al-Bukhari

Monday 8 March 2021

Spiritual Chastity


The Muslim obsession with female virginity is disturbing, because it completely ignores the *Islamic* values and conceptualization of spiritual chastity.

Demanding a virgin bride turns a blind eye to:
1) sexual abuse and rape 

2) those who may have engaged in zina but also did sincere tawba (this includes both converts and 'born Muslims')

3) divorcees and widows

4) the importance of MALE chastity

Using the hadith of Jabir to point out "look, RasulAllah commanded us to marry virgins!" is a very convenient and selective reading of the hadith of Jabir. When Jabir explained his reasoning, RasulAllah approved of his decision, and indeed praised it.

Jabir himself was a young man, possibly previously unmarried himself - presumably, a virgin. The recommendation to marry a 'virgin' was more along the lines of marrying someone closer to him in age so that they could relate to each other better on a personal level.
Of particularly worthy note is that Jabir married a 'matron' (previously married woman) because he was looking out for his family - specifically, his young sisters, who had no other caretaker.
He purposely chose an older, more experienced woman so that his sisters could have a loving maternal figure who would look out for them and care for them... not someone who herself was too young to know how to raise children well.

It's very convenient for bros to quote the hadith of Jabir to justify their search for some pure, virginal, unblemished wildflower who has never seen a nonMahram man in her life... while they themselves have a far from spotless past and struggle with basic adult responsibilities.
Narrated Jaabir ibn 'Abdillah:

"Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said to me, "Have you got married O Jabir?" I replied, "Yes." He asked "What, a virgin or a matron?" I replied, "Not a virgin but a matron." He said, "Why did you not marry a young girl who would have been playful with you?"

I replied, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! My father was martyred on the day of Uhud and left nine (orphan) daughters who are my nine sisters; so I disliked to have another young girl of their age, but (I sought) an (older) woman who could comb their hair and look after them."
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "You have done the right thing."

(Sahih al-Bukhari)