Posts Tagged ‘islam’

As i was working out at the gym today the News Screens flashed at me from all main Australian Broadcasters. It revealed two Muslim women from the group called “Hizb Ut Tahrir” having a discussion about if and how it is justified for a man to physically hit his wife or not. In the video the two women talk about different interpretations of a certain verse in the Qur’an and they take out a Siwak (toothbrush) and tap each other with it to indicate this is the “beating” that is accepted, though not encouraged according to some Islamic opinions.

The video made all mainstream news and as i was working out i did indeed shake my head at this moment because it seems that Muslims are often the ones that shoot themselves in the foot by having such discussions and leaving the grounds of interpretation open far and wide.

Yet in a way, it’s actually good that this video was released and the Media published it because, let’s face it, we as Muslims and Islam as a faith already have a deplorable reputation and that bar could barely be raised any lower sadly, but at the same time it has opened up a discussion and dialogue about a huge problem, not necessarily in the Muslim community but in the Australian community at large, and that is domestic violence.

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The video in question of two women in Australia discussing if wife beating is permissible in Islam.

Now theologically, without a shadow of a doubt, beating your wife, or in fact anyone for that matter is absolutely unacceptable and a widely condemned action from an Islamic standpoint and this is the important crux of the discussion because all we are seeing right now are superficial opinions and snippets of dialogues that scrape the surface of this troubling detail.

What we need to do, or i need to do for that matter, is get to the core of the matter and we must examine, if indeed this action of “wife beating” is an accepted practice of Islam- the religion- and if i can convince you that it is not, then we can clearly make a distinction on whether or not this person is acting in accordance of not only the laws of his religion but also the laws of the land that he lives in and in this case we’re talking about Australia.

Now let us start with the verse in Question, which is found in the Qur’an. Chapter 4, verse 34.  “Men  are the supporters  of  women   by  what Allah has  given  one  over  the  other  and what   they  spend  from  their  wealth.  So  righteous   women  are  obedient,  guarding  in absence what Allah would  have  them  guard.  But those from  whom you  fear  rebellion  –   advise  them;  forsake  them  in  bed;  and (finally) strike  them.  But   if  they  heed to you  ,  seek no  means  against  them.   Indeed, Allah is  ever  Exalted  and  Grand.

The verse in question from its origins has been open to much interpretation, confusion and dissension upon Islamic scholars and believers alike, yet this verse as a standalone doesn’t carry with it enough information on whether this language is that of symbolism or one of absolute literal instruction. The Hadith literature that at times further clarifies some of the more ambiguous verses of the Qur’an can shed more light on certain topics and this topic of “wife beating” is widely covered.

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Does the Qur’an and Islamic literature really indicate to beat your wives?

What we now need to do is observe if the founder of Islam, the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (pbuh) followed the above instructions literally, did he hit his wives? Did he endorse hitting women? If he is a role model on how a man should treat his wife and if he was the living, breathing and walking Qur’an – we must then assume that if the above verse was literal, that he would then indeed beat his wives.

Our first piece of evidence comes from one of Muhammads wives, her name was Aisha. This woman later came to be a massive collector of Hadiths (sayings of Muhammad) that have been preserved for the last 1300 years. In one Hadith that is actually rarely cited we see something that is very clear cut and absolute. She states in the Hadith Below:

Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not strike a servant or a woman, and he never struck anything with his hand.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2328, 

Not only that, Muhammad himself convinced a woman not to marry a man because he had a reputation of beating women. She had three men make proposals to her and Muhammad helped her measure up who would be the most suitable. One man was poor, the other was a wife beater and the third was pious. It was stated:

Allah’s Messenger said: So far as Mu’awiya is concerned, he is a poor man without any property. So far as Abu Jahm is concerned, he is a beater of women, but take for marriage instead Usama b. Zaid. (The Pious man)

Source: Muslim, Book 009, Number 3526:

When a companion of Muhammad approached him and asked how he should treat his wife, Muhammad responded with a very simple and clear instruction.

I went to the Apostle of Allah and asked him: What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them.

Source: Abu Dawud, Book 11, Number 2139:

Yet one of the greatest evidences that beating is clearly not allowed or mandated in Islam is a historical event that occurred with Muhammad and his wives. There was a situation that ensued where Muhammad was dissatisfied with his wives, they were charged with jealousy amongst each other and conspired against their husband in order to “get even” about certain woes they felt in regards to their relationship. Clearly, if Muhammad had the green light in his book to “beat” his wives for “disobedience” then this would have been the perfect opportunity for him to recite this verse and then get physical!

Yet this never happened. This particular event was called the “Incident of I’la”.

Thereupon, he vowed that he would keep away from his wives for a month in order to show them that the worldly life was unimportant for him, to teach them a lesson, to decrease the jealousy among them and to measure their love of and loyalty to him.

After this vow, he started to live in the arbor called Mashraba. This was a small humble room with a straw bed, a pillow stuffed with bark and his food items were barley and water. His companions were convinced he had divorced his wives and they wept at his poor form while indicating the high figures of Persia and Rome lived like Kings.

Yet this was his way of dealing with supposed “disobedient” wives. He had already advised them and spoken to them, he then separated himself from their beds for an entire month and he did not lay a single hand on them before, during or after this event.

Source: Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 63, Narration 212

domestic-violence

In Australia 56 women a year are killed in domestic violence disputes.

So given the above information we can clearly see something is amiss. If the Prophet of Islam and the verbal communicator of the Qur’an never beat his wives, then how is it possible that this verse can be taken literally? This is why a Muslim man who intends on following their Prophet in his treatment to his wives should live by his ideals, which was NOT to beat them- ever! Muslim men that use this verse in their holy book to legitimize them beating their spouses are not only cowards, they have a clear and negligible misunderstanding of their own faith and their own Messenger.

Not only is this abhorrent and debasing action clearly unacceptable within the context of religion, it is clearly unacceptable within the society of which we live in. In Australia domestic violence is a major issue. According to the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre :

“On average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia. One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.”

These statistics are alarming, it indicates that in Australia alone 56 women are KILLED in domestic violence incidents yearly and a staggering one in three women has experienced physical violence from the age of 15. That is approximately 4.5 million Australian women.! 

So let us not pretend this is a “Muslim issue” and let’s not make it a Muslim issue as the media seems to be stipulating that domestic violence is an ESPECIALLY Muslim problem, it most definitely is not and the majority of the domestic violence cases in Australia are not being conducted by men reading Quran 4:34.

In Australia it is illegal to beat your wife, period. It is a highly intolerable action that should be dealt with in accordance to the law, yes the Australian law. Protections are already in place for women that encounter domestic violence encounters and they should utilize them, whether they are Muslim or not.

Muslim women that are dealing with abusive husbands should remind them of the examples above, inform them that their treatment against you is not in accordance to the Messenger of Allah and make it clear that if they are believers and want to replicate Muhammads treatment of their wives to their own lives that they should not, and cannot beat you!

I hope you have read this article and gained a better understanding on how and why this problem exists not only Worldwide but also within the Muslim world. All of my sources are Authentic Islamic sources that are verified and accepted by all mainstream scholars of Islam. I ask my fellow Muslims to please discuss this situation while the heat is still on.

People are on TV boasting about wife beating and making excuses on how some elements of wife beating are okay and it clearly enables others to navigate their way through to domestic violence when all of my examples show, without a shadow of a doubt, in clear language that Muhammad never hit his wives.

Today is our day to speak out and highlight to the media, to the wider general Australian public AND to fellow Muslims that we do not accept wife beating in our theology, hence in our lives. We reject it and we are law abiding citizens that stand by the laws of our land and our religion.

Peace and blessings be upon you.

Ramey

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Ramey, you cannot be half Muslim and half Christian, you can only be one“…These words echoed by my Religion teacher Mrs. Young at my former High School in 1998 had to have been one of the most earth shattering, mind boggling and mentally challenging words i had ever heard at the tender age of 15.

You see, i had a very interesting upbringing. I was raised in a household that was interfaith. My Mother of Croatian ancestry is a Christian whilst my father of Lebanese ancestry is a Muslim. Their marriage in the late 1970’s caused shock-waves through both communities and families from both sides couldn’t understand it, due to the supposed “taboo” of it all.

Not only two very different cultures but also two different religions. What about the children? would be the cry of concerned relatives from both ends of the spectrum, little did they knew this upbringing of mine was one of the most healthiest and happiest when it came to tolerance and understanding.

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My brother hugging me under our Christmas tree. 1983.

So what was it like growing up in a household where i was both exposed to Christian and Muslim elements? Let me be honest. Pretty amazing! I truly looked forward to every Christmas and decking out that tree, helping my Mother decorate it and turning it on every night ensuring it faced a window so our neighbours could get tree envy!

I remember the excitement of sitting under the Christmas tree with all of those amazing colours shining on the floor and my obsession with the Christmas tree Angel we used to have sitting on top with her glittery halo and roughed up blonde hair. There was something so euphoric, beautiful and heartfelt about this time of the year and my house felt like a sanctuary.

Then came the period of Ramadan, the month long Muslim Holy month where Muslims are told to fast, read the Quran, pray and give to charity. Growing up i always remember being in complete awe as to how my father could refrain from food and water for long periods of the day. The unifying factor was dinner time, come sunset- we would all converge over a delicious feast that my mother would make up and my father would listen to the radio waiting for the Adhan (call to prayer) to start before we’d enjoy our usually eccentric over the top dinner.

Then came the “Eid” festivities where all the family from my Dads side would dress up in their best attire, head over to cafes and restaurants and enjoy time with family and friends. The vibe of the streets in our area during Ramadan was buzzing with excitement and energy, it truly was a beautiful time of the year that i grew further fond of .

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My too cool for school parents 1970s’.

Yet then came that moment, when i was happily 50% Christian and 50% Muslim in my own eyes- where all of that fantasy came to a sudden crash. When my High School Religion teacher asked me what religion i was- i stared her right in the eyes with a big smile and said “I am half Christian and half Muslim” – assuming that was a perfectly acceptable answer. She glared at me and smiled telling me that indeed my “beliefs” are in pure conflict and that i cannot be both, i had to pick one. This was when my perception of religions and the religious changed, almost like a perversion entered my mind about the life that i was living and it was time to reflect. She had basically told me my religious expression was invalid.

During this time neither of my parents pushed their religions onto me, respectably. Even though both parents were observant to degrees in their religion, neither was completely compliant. Yet i always felt religiously free to think as i wanted to think and this was a blessing in disguise. After doing a brief study of the religions i decided that for the time being i was happy to simply be an Agnostic. A person that is unsure about the existence of God, yet someone who still holds appreciation and respect for what religion can do to people. During my Agnostic stage of my life (from 15 years of age until about 18) i did not express my beliefs to anybody. I felt no need to and even though i had a numb feeling for religion, there was a yearning inside me to find out more and continue to explore.

Then at about 18 years of age i decided to become a Unitarian. This religion was very interesting because it was very inclusive and it mirrored my thoughts exactly. The Christian branch of Unitarianism was even better because it saw Jesus as a role model but also rejected him as a God figure.

I felt proud of my decision to become a Unitarian and i would engage with other people on discussion boards about it. When i told my Mother i had identified myself as a Unitarian (Christian branch) she was ecstatic. She expressed that i was “chosen” and that God loved me.  (Suddenly?)

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Me in front of Zagreb Cathedral 2015

When i expressed to my father that i identified with the Unitarian movement in my late teens, he was not impressed. He concluded that i was lost and needed some guidance. Hell was potentially on the horizon. Either way it was interesting to see that the more i expressed myself when it came to my faith and beliefs the more it would irritate and irk my parents- at different times, for different reasons. As i become more profound in my beliefs the perversions of religion and the religious reared its ugly head again.

Years down the path, especially after all the horrible terror attacks committed by supposed Muslims i had decided to study Islam. I truly needed to know and find out if indeed my father held the same beliefs as these lunatics. I knew instantly that there is no way, my Father, whom i love dearly would actively engage himself in a religion that encourages Murder and terrorism. So i hit the books again in my Early 20’s and i really studied the faith and the Qur’an. I remember each night before bed i would open a copy of my Dads Quran and read it for 30 minutes.

It was a mesmerizing read at times, i often remember nodding my head, in agreement, at what i read because the God concept the Qur’an expressed was exactly the God concept i believed in and when it started talking about the Prophets, especially Jesus (pbuh) it really chimed intensely for me. By the time i hit 23 years of age i decided to “Upgrade” my beliefs from a Unitarian to a Muslim and this again was something i had not immediately shared.

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Me in front of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 2014.

This time the tables turned and when i expressed my love and faith for Islam to my father he  was jubilant and happy, confidently asserting he knew i’d make the decision. Whereas my Mother was highly irritated, she saw it as some sort of betrayal and her Son was indeed lost in a Philosophical limbo.

Then it all became crystal clear to me. Even though my parents played it cool, deep down inside both of them had yearned for me to bat for their “team”. The bottom line is my spiritual journey is my own and i came to it without an indoctrinated mind. When i expected people to be happy that i, as a grown man, was taking observation and fleeting decisions about the World around me, i noticed it only increased their agitation and there was little support.

I remember my Father one day looking downcast and saying to me “I wish i taught you Islam when you were a kid“. I looked at him puzzled and asked why? Look at me today, i came to Islam all on my own, with a fresh mind that queried and alternated between different beliefs to come to my own “truth” or conclusion. I thanked him for not shoving religion down my throat as a kid.

I explained to him that kids that are forced into religion turn into Adults that don’t actually KNOW about their religion but instead repeat religious duties like chores. I also noticed that kids that were religiously forced into things in later years turned out to “rebel”.  I told him the fact that you both left me alone to take my own spiritual adventure was a blessing and that he has nothing to be ashamed of.

When i have children i will NOT force feed them my religious beliefs. My reasoning behind it is that i will explain to my children my beliefs and why i believe what i do, yet i will encourage them to research and embark on their journey through the path of curiosity and honesty. 

I had high hopes and expectations that my family would be proud of my spiritual journey from a lack of belief, to a Unifying belief to finally a belief of Submitting my will to the Almighty. Yet the way my Parents saw it was that i was playing with fire, quite literally! They’d selectively be happy for me if my journey stopped at their station of beliefs, yet then be upset and harsh if my beliefs went on to explore other stations.

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I will teach my kids to embark on their own spiritual journey and explain my own to them as well.

That is what i mean by the hypocrisy of religion and the religious. It is only about YOUR religion. Yet for me its about ALL religions and what you connect with the most. I want my children to find their way on their own, with their own senses, intuition and faith of which they naturally will develop. As opposed to me “corrupting” them at a young age and forcing them – out of their own will- to be a carbon copy of myself.

Today i can proudly say i am a Muslim, even if it annoys family, friends or strangers. Either side i am accused of being “brainwashed” into the religion or a “betrayer” for abandoning another. The bottom line is i have abandoned nobody or nothing. My upbringing under the Christmas lights and Crescent Moon of Ramadan really was the light of tolerance beaming down upon me and truly became the staple of my spiritual journey.

I wish my parents were more proud as to how they brought me up and held no regrets for their decisions in life. I believe because i truly believe, from the heart- as an Adult. Not a child that was forced to become an adult too soon and have their journey “cut short” because their ignorant parents don’t want them to face the reality of choice.

Peace, Salam Alaykum.
Ramey

The Daily Telegraph this morning published an article by so called “journalist” Tim Blair- titled “Last drinks in Lakemba, Taking A Look Inside Sydneys Muslim Land”. Lakemba is a Suburb in South West Sydney approximately 20 kilometres from the city. I live in the Lakemba area and I have lived here for a huge chunk of my life and this article had many blatantly paranoid views from a journalist that must have experienced a “culture shock”, despite knowing nothing about the culture- or the suburb itself.

Let me be the first to admit, sure enough Lakemba might not have the lush greenery of Sydneys Northern Suburbs or the glistening beaches of Sydneys South. Indeed it might not have that “cosmo” feel of the Inner West Suburbs nor the “wide open spaces” of the far West, yet this “Muslim Land” as he calls it has a lot more to offer than he had stated and sitting in a pub just talking to an Anglo Australian about Muslims is not exactly the most balanced way of getting a true taste of the area.

Tim Blair confronted by Lakembas display of Foreign Flags- he must have missed the Australian one!

Tim Blair confronted by Lakembas display of Foreign Flags- he must have missed the Australian one!

Let us first look at the confusion that Tim Blair has when he visits Lakemba. Tim Blair at first is shocked to not find a Gideons Bible inside his Lakemba accommodation, a $50 a night pub. I wouldn’t think a tacky pub hotel would be the most appropriate place to learn about God but lets move on from there. To soften the blow he initiates his article with a few compliments about the area, according to him Lakemba is a great place for Middle Eastern food and he compliments the suburbs late closing hours for every day amenities and that Ladies and Gentlemen is where the compliments end from this ever so curious Journalist. In his brief evaluation of the positives of the area he mentions that it has good food and that is about it. There is one very important aspect missing from his evaluation, what about the people? What about the PEOPLE Tim? We will get to the people in just a moment.

In his introduction photo Tim Blair posts a photo of Haldon street in Lakemba, in particular a bunch of foreign flags waving above foreign looking shops. Indeed this street looks more united than the United Nations itself, yet the shock value is lost once you find that the biggest and most obvious flag on top of these shops is…you guessed it…the Australian flag! Furthermore Tim Blair is extremely confused with the demographics of Lakemba and cannot seem to see the difference between Middle Easterners and Indian/Bangladeshi folk. I guess they all dress alike in Muslim attire so its one and the same. In his article he says that Lakemba is an” ethnic mix that seems similar to what you’d find in any Arabic city.”

Tim Blair confuses Lakembas mainly Bangladeshi/Indian and Pakistani population as "Arab".

Tim Blair confuses Lakembas mainly Bangladeshi/Indian and Pakistani population as “Arabic”.

The only bleeding obvious fact is that Lakemba is NOT an “Arabic city” and any layman can witness, with their own two eyes the extremely strong Indian and Bangladeshi influence. According to the 2011 census 21% of Lakembas population are of Indian/Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent whilst only 5% are Lebanese or “Arabic”. Tim Blair continues to then state that Lakemba is multicultural but also strictly is a MONOculture, which is highly offensive given that only 50% of the population are Muslim and again according to factual demographics the area also covers at least 20% Christians, 6% with NO religion and 5% Buddhists so yes, according to the demographics Lakemba does not have a single monoculture but is in fact a varied blend of races and creeds.

Tim Blair then decides to take advantage of the fragile and most recent Israel and Gaza conflict that cost the lives of almost 2,000 Palestinians. He mentions that a few weeks ago the streets of Lakemba were riddled with Pro Jihadi Muslim men chanting for both Palestine and Jihad. He then goes on to mention the link between a few extremists in the area and their supposed link to ISIS. In this summary based on the PEOPLE of Lakemba, we are off to a bad start because thus far Tim Blair has only painted the people of Lakemba to be violent extremists.

Tim Blair seems more interesting in meeting Islamic Mannequins, than actual Islamic people.

Tim Blair seems more interested in meeting Islamic Mannequins, than actual Islamic people.

Is Tim Blair aware that hours before he wrote his misinformed article that Muslim officials gathered in Lakemba along side government officials to openly condemn extremism and promise to fight it? Funny how that is conveniently missing from his biased narrative of this suburb. Not to mention NSW Islamic Council’s Khaled Sukkarieh said in regards to the actions of extremist activity “We condemn it all in the name of Islam”.

In what appears to be a move made by someone trying to fulfil their preconceived notions about a place, as opposed to openly wanting to learn about it. Tim Blair made his way to an Islamic Book Store in Lakemba  to sift through books and find particular pages with quotes that he found disturbing, including a Q&A book on Islam that openly stated you cannot support or love disbelievers. If Tim Blair had bothered to open the highest book of authority on Islam he will see that friendship is allowed. “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who do not fight you for your Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.” (Quran 60:8.)

He then goes on to find other unsavoury book titles, of which I myself found to be in bad taste but alas if I were to walk in to any library in New South Wales I am sure that somewhere, somehow I will find a book or a quote in a book that I deem to be offensive, counterproductive or damaging– but the reality is that book, or that quote- still does NOT represent the people of the area and in this apparent smear campaign of Lakemba it appears Tim Blair is pulling at any straws to make Lakemba a place of savagery.

Hours before Tim Blairs article Muslim leaders IN Lakemba openly condemned extremism and promised to fight it.

Hours before Tim Blairs article Muslim leaders IN Lakemba openly condemned extremism and promised to fight it.

Tim Blair then takes his article to a whole other level by not only saying that the people of Lakemba are backwards extremists but he pulls the “unemployment” card out to indicate that the Muslim community of Lakemba are also lazy by highlighting the suburbs high unemployment rate. Sure, Lakemba has a relatively high unemployment rate in the Sydney district but how he links this to Islam or Muslims is rather peculiar seeming there are suburbs with HIGHER or similar rates of unemployment with extremely low Muslim populations- with these facts we break his chain of over the top assertions.

Lakemba has an unemployment rate of around 11%. The Sydney Suburb of Cabramatta has an unemployment rate of about 14%. Cabramatta has a 50% Buddhist population, will Tim Blair make a sweeping statement about welfare loving Asians or Buddhists? The unemployment rate of Wollongong in Sydneys south is almost 10%. No Religion is the highest demographic in the area. Will Tim Blair make a sweeping statement about Non Believing Heathens and their lazy Godless lifestyles? The unemployment rate of the Sydney Suburb Fairfield is almost 13% and the highest religious denomination is 35% Catholic. Will Tim Blair make a sweeping statement about shady “priests” and their lazy perverted population?

Lakemba hosts the hugely successful month long Ramadan Food Festival.

Lakemba hosts the hugely successful month long Ramadan Food Festival.

That just shows how shoddy this “drive-by” type of Journalism is. Tim Blair assumed that by renting a hotel and lingering in a suburb for some hours that he could make such ridiculous statements about this community, and yet still not a single nice thing about the people of Lakemba found in his article. If Tim Blair was honest in his endeavour to know more about the people of this estranged “Muslim Land” would it not make sense to visit Lakemba Mosque? The most popular mosque in Sydney? I am absolutely confident that he would have been welcome there with open arms by both officials and worshippers. Besides Lakemba Mosque is the venue where they have “open days” allowing people from all walks of life to tour the mosque, ask questions and learn more about Islam. Isn’t that what any honest journalist with integrity would do if he really wanted to “learn more” about a place and its people?

Lakemba is a diverse place and in fact the Ramadan Food festival just finished up in Lakemba. Where food stalls were open for all people whether at 6pm, 10pm or 2am. The News even broadcasted this event and on the two occasions I was at the 2014 Ramadan food festival I saw people from different cultures attend. I was sitting next to an American girl in a cafe having a laugh with her African American friend.. I saw two Latvian tourists. I saw two middle aged English ladies trying a Camel burger. I had a few work colleagues attend. This was another sign of the areas yes- good food but also good hospitality. I take my non Arab and Non Muslim friends to my area so they can get a glimpse of this “other side” and they always return home with nothing but good words to say, not only about the delicious food and late closing hours but also the strong sense of family and community that is seen all throughout the Lakemba region.

Tim Blair must be unaware of Lakembas annual "Haldon Street Festival" attracting many thousands.

Tim Blair must be unaware of Lakembas annual “Haldon Street Festival” attracting many thousands.

Journalists like Tim Blair are detrimental to society because they pretend to seek knowledge knowing they are endeavouring to only fulfil their own quota. It is beyond obvious that Tim Blair already had an opinion on Arabs and Muslims and he took this express trip under the guise of “journalism” to highlight this fantasy that he had- actively looking for what he wanted and sneakily avoiding what he wished not to confront. He travelled all the way to “Muslim Land” only to not speak to a single Muslim. How odd. As I said, I know that Lakemba is not the Santa Monica of Sydney, but for what its worth it has a lot more to offer than what Tim Blair presented in his dirty piece published by the Daily Telegraph.

Peace, Salam.