Response to a Comment on Facebook

A colleague of mine on facebook responded to my post on Al-Fatiha:

I’m pretty sure those who have gone astray are those who murder, rape, and show other kinds of cruelty to other humans and living beings. Not just those who don’t follow the Quran as it is written, which is what this entry seems to imply. I’m also pretty sure that SOME questioning of dictates that were doubtless influenced by 7th century culture is healthy. In fact, isn’t questioning in general supposed to be the way to God and faith? I hope you don’t take this personally, but I find a lot of what you said here deeply troubling.

I started writing the reply and it turned out to be quite lengthy.  I thought I would post it up here in case anyone had similar questions or concerns.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

I ask for forgiveness in advance for being overly wordy.  As you have probably already discerned from my blog, Islam is a topic I can never tire of speaking about.  I hope though, that my wordiness will serve the purpose of satisfying you for a response.

As to the classification of the ones who rape, murder and show cruelty to living beings, they are most definitely not following the teachings of the Quran and are therefore among those who have gone astray, I would even venture to say that they belong more to the latter party: “those whose portion is wrath.”

“And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein; and the Wrath and the Curse of Allaah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him”

[Surah al-Nisaa’ 4:93]

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”  (6: 151)

The murderer has violated the rights of three parties: Allah (SWT), the victim and the victim’s next of kin.  As for the victim’s rights, that will be settled by Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment.  The rights of the victim’s next of kin in this situation are outlined in the shariah.  As for the violation of the rights of Allah (SWT), sincere repentence should Inshallah protect the sinner from Allah (SWT)’s wrath as it says in the Quran:

“Say: “O ‘Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allaah, verily, Allaah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” [al-Zumar 39:53]

Cruelty to living beings is not tolerated in Islam.  In fact, it is a sin which condemns a person to Hell if he does not repent:

It was narrated in the hadeeth from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “A woman was punished for a cat which she imprisoned until it died, and she entered Hell because of that. She did not feed it or give it water when she imprisoned it, and she did not leave it free to eat of the vermin of the earth.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2236; Muslim, 2242). Al-Nawawi said: the apparent meaning of the hadeeth is that she went to Hell only because of this sin.

Showing mercy or kindness to human beings and animals is a requirement in our religion:

The Prophet (SAW) said “He who does not show mercy to others, will not be shown mercy [by Allah].” [Al-Bukhârî]

It is reported that Allaah forgave a prostitute from the children of Israel who showed mercy to a dog that was dying from thirst. She filled her shoe with water and then taking hold of the dog’s mouth, she gave it the water to drink. Allaah appreciated what she did and forgave her sins.

You ask about questioning being the way to God and faith.  Here I would agree with you.  In fact, there are two famous instances in which questioning proved to be the way to truth:

The story of the prophet Ibrahim (AS) or Abraham as he is known in the Bible: Ibrahim (AS) was the son of an idolater, a man who not only worshipped idols but was also the one responsible for making them.  Ibrahim (AS) would play with them as toys, sitting on their backs as people sit on the backs of donkeys or mules.  When he asked his father what it was he made, the father responded that he made statues of gods.  The prophet spontaneously rejected this idea.

(6:74) And recall when Abraham said to his father, Azar: ‘Do you take idols for gods?  I see you and your people in obvious error.’

And so Abraham began his spiritual journey to find his Lord.

6:75- And thus We showed Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, so that he might become one of those who have sure faith.

(6:76) Then, when the night outspread over him, he beheld a star, and said: ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set, he said: ‘I like not those that set.’

(6:77) Then, when he beheld the moon rising, he said: ‘This is my Lord!’ But when it went down, he said: ‘Were that my Lord did not guide me, I surely would have become among the people who have gone astray.’

(6:78) Then when he beheld the sun rising, he said: ‘This is my Lord. This is the greatest of all.’ Then, when it went down, he said: ‘O my people! Most certainly  I am quit of those whom you associate with Allah in His divinity.

(6:79) Behold, I have turned my face in exclusive devotion to the One Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am certainly not one of those who associate others with Allah in His divinity.’

It was Ibrahim (AS)’s constant questioning of those that were worshipped as divinities that eventually led him to the One God.

Another famous instance is the story of Salman al Farsi.  His is also a beautiful story, but seeing as how my response has already reached 2 pages and isn’t anywhere near over yet, I’ll summarize.  Inshallah I’ll post the full story of Salman Farsi’s account in the future.

Salman al Farsi was originally a Magian or Zoroastrian—a Fire Worshipper.  Dissatisfied with his religion and seeking truth, he became a Christian and attached himself to the service of various religious figures, learning all he could about worshipping God.  The last one told him that “the time of a new Prophet is fast approaching.  He will be sent with the religion of Ibrahim (AS) and will emerge in the land of the Arabs, and will migrate to a land between two lava fields between which are date palms.  On him will be signs which cannot be hidden.  He will accept gifts but will not accept charity.  Between his shoulders will be the Seal of Prophecy.  If you can go to that land, then do so.”   When Salman al Farsi heard about the Prophet (SAW) he secretly tested him to see if he would match up to the signs.

Salman Farsi continues his story: “I had been saving something, so when evening cam I took it and went to the Messenger of Allah (SAW) in Quba.  I entered upon him and said: ‘I have heard that you are a righteous man, and you have companions who are strangers and in need.  This is something that I had, (which I give) in charity, for I see that you are more deserving of it than anyone else.’  I placed it near him, then the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said to his Companions: ‘Eat,’ but he refrained from eating.  I said to myself: This is one.

“Then I went away and started to save some more and the Messenger of Allah (SAW) moved to Al-Madinah.  Then I brought it and said to him: ‘I noticed that you do not eat (what is given in) charity, this is a gift with which I wish to honour you.’  So the Messenger of Allah (SAW) ate from it and told his Companions to eat with him.  I said to myself: this is two.

“Then I came to the Messenger of Allah (SAW) when he was in Baqi Al-Gharqad, when he had attended the funeral of a man from among his Companions.  I was wearing a cloak of mine, and he was sitting amongst his Companions.  I greeted him, then I tried to look at his back to see whether I could spot the Seal of Prophet hood that my companion had described to me.  When the Messenger of Allah (SAW) noticed me trying to look at his back, he realized that I was trying to confirm something that had been described to me, so he let his cloak drop, and I look at the Seal and recognized it.  I embraced him and kissed him, weeping.  The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said to me, ‘Come here.’ So I came and sat in front of him, and told him my story.”

Questioning is what brought these men to Allah and Islam.  Questioning is exactly what brings Muslims to this faith.  When we take our shahada and make our acceptance of Islam official, we say:

“Ash-hadu an la ila ha il Allah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasoolohu.” – I testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad (SAW) is His servant and Messenger.

When you are satisfied with the answer to your question, you stop asking the question.  When we have taken our shahada, it means we are satisfied with Allah as our Lord and Muhammad (SAW) as our Prophet.  If you are satisfied that Allah (SWT) is your Lord, than you stop questioning His word, which is the Quran—the unadulterated word of Allah (SWT).  And when you are satisfied with Muhammad (SAW) as your prophet, you stop questioning the Hadith (sayings and practices of the Prophet.)  To negate either one is to negate your acceptance of Islam.  This is a universally accepted fact in Islam.

So what CAN you question?

The Quran in its original form can not be called into question.  Again, like I said before, to question its truth is to leave the fold of Islam.  You CAN question the person who is translating it, the person who is interpreting it and the person who is putting it into context for you.  You can question your imam, you can question the muftis, you can EVEN question the Caliph—the head of state and leader of the Islamic Ummah, the very man who is responsible for carrying out the Islamic law or Shariah:

A rare incident worth mentioning is that during one Friday prayer, Umar (RA), who was Caliph at the time, went up to the pulpit and said, “O people listen to what I have to say and obey me!”  Salman Farsi (RA) a very notable companion of the Prophet (SAW)  stood up and challenged him publicly, saying “We will not listen and we will not obey.”  When Umar (RA) asked him why, Salman (RA) responded “You are a tall person and the clothing you are wearing today is made up of 2 sheets. However, the quota of sheet that was distributed from the war booty upon your own decree was 1 sheet each!  So until you account for the extra sheet which you are wearing, we will neither listen nor obey you.”

Umar (RA) asked for his son, Abdullah Ibn Umar (RA) to be brought forward,

“Inform the people where I got this extra sheet from,” he said to his son.

Abdullah (RA) duly came forward and testified before the gathering: “I was given 1 sheet from the war booty which I gave to my father as my father is quite tall and could not make a shirt from 1 sheet.”

If only we were able to openly question the political leaders of today about their financial practices in such a manner.  But I digress.

Continuing, the question arises: are the dictates of Islam influenced by the 7th century?  Again, Islam holds that the Quran was written by Allah (SWT) Himself, so to say that Allah (SWT) was “influenced” by the 7th century does not make much sense.   Allah (SWT) does after all exist outside of time and thus has the knowledge of what has not yet come to pass and what will never come to pass.  Were certain parts of the Quran a RESPONSE to 7th century culture?  Yes, I would say so:

Women had no status in the 7th Century, neither in Arabia or in Western Society.  In Arabia before Islam, female babies were murdered in infancy.

16: 58 When news is brought to one of them, of a female born, his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief.

16:59 With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had shall he retain it on contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah what an evil they decide on!

Islam gave women the right to inheritance, to own a business, to choose her own husband, to obtain a divorce, to testify in court, to vote, to hold public office.

During this time in Western Society, it was still under dispute whether or not women had a soul, and it was believed that the fall of Adam and Eve from Heaven was purely due to the fault of womankind.  Here is what some Christian figures who had a great impact on Western Society had to say about women prior to the 7th Century:

St. Tertullian (155-225 CE) addressed women saying, “Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the Devil’s gateway: You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree: You are the first deserter of the divine law: You are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert even the Son of God had to die.”

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) in a private letter wrote, “What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman…I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.”

And after the 7th Century:

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 to 1274 CE):  “As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”

Martin Luther (1483 to 1546):  “If they [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that’s why they are there.”

Islam’s treatment and consideration of women was not the only way that it was different from the predominant beliefs and traditions of that time.  All I can say is that 7th Century Arabian culture was completely and totally changed after Islam.  They went from a people who heavily drank alcohol to a people who obtained from it entirely, literally in moments.  They were a people who honored a strict code of lineage and economic status but they became a people who performed the pilgrimage wearing only two white sheets—representing their equality in Allah’s eyes.  They were idol worshippers and polytheists, and they came to monotheism, acknowledging only Allah as the one and only God.

Being still very weak in the history of Western Civilization and holding embarrassingly little amount of knowledge of Islam and its history, I can’t explore this topic much further.  However, I would strongly urge that if you have more questions or concerns to read the works or watch the debates of Dr. Zakir Naik or the late Ahmed Deedat.  Both have Mashallah an impressive knowledge of both Islam as well as other faiths.

It saddens me to hear that my post troubles you, but this also happens to be an unfortunate side effect of the times.  As much as we try to seek out independent sources of news, we can not escape the large media conglomerates with very singular views, especially when it comes to Islam.  They have done a fantastic job of demonizing Islam and its orthodox followers, and have severely distorted its teachings.  It is obviously in their political and financial benefit for people to see orthodox Islam as something sinister.  Against this backdrop, no matter how much we like to believe we can form our own opinions, orthodox Islam seems really scary.  I ask you to please, please overlook this fear, and try to get rid of your preconceived notions about Islam and learn about it from someone who really practices and has a firm knowledge of it.  Then Inshallah you can perhaps form a more complete opinion about us and our beliefs.

2 Responses to “Response to a Comment on Facebook”
  1. UmmH says:

    “If only we were able to openly question the political leaders of today about their financial practices in such a manner. But I digress.” *smile*

    If only we were like Umar ibn Al Khattab with his deep respect for the deen & equal amount of knowledge to balance it. Subhan’Allaah every time I think of him RA I remember how the companions and even Rasul sws had their moments of giving dawah with a bit more firm stance. Today, most people want to show Islam as a “snuggles” commercial when in fact, there are rare da’ees that would implement an unwavering stance, like the Sabiqoon, on an issue that bothers Muslims/NonMuslims alike. i.e. women leading salah, wearing hijab, polygamy, (mostly women issues), separation btwn men and women, living in America vs abroad, what is a muslim country etc… These commands are easier to understand when people list the harms over the benefits and the concept of keeping away from the doubtful matters. I guess we all need to rethink our decisions and how we perceive, let alone act upon, what is taught to us compared to what we personally believe is right.

    Wallahu alam
    wasalamu alaykum wrwb

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