Saturday, October 29, 2016

God: Atheistic Fallacies

“Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware.” (Al-Anam, 6: 104).

In this verse, God draws the attention of man to the fact that his eyes are not capable of seeing Him, for He is Subtle and subtle things cannot be perceived by the eyes. What then is the way of knowing God? He answers this question by saying; “but He reaches the eyes”, i.e., though the eye of man is not capable of seeing Him, yet He reveals Himself to man by a display of His powers and by a manifestation of His attributes. Manifold are the ways in which He reveals Himself to man. He displays His unlimited power, sometimes by terror-striking signs, sometimes through prophets, sometimes by signs of mercy, and sometimes by accepting prayer.

Of all the doctrines and beliefs that have been subjected to in this age of materialism, the greatest is the belief in the existence of God. The idolater sets up other gods with God, but he believes at least in the existence of God. The atheist, however, denies the very existence of the Supreme Being. As in the present day science everything is based on observation, hence the demand of the Atheist is: If there is a God, show Him to us. How can we believe in Him without seeing Him?

As Western influences have gone a long way towards effacing from the hearts of many young people the imprint of the Divine Being and hundreds of college students, barristers, etc., have begun to deny the existence of God, and there are thousands of persons, who, through refraining from an open declaration of their views through fear of the community, have really no faith in Him, therefore Allah inspired me to write this sermon so that some fortunate soul may derive benefit from it.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

'Talaq': Use and Abuse of Divine Law

“And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people, and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted.” 

                 ----(An-Nisa 4: 36).

My Friday Sermon (Jumuah Khutba) today is on the subject of divorce (Al-Talaq).

Islam places great emphasis on marriage in the sense that it is a sacred contract that cannot be broken for vain and trivial reasons.

Although Talaq (divorce/ repudiation) is allowed, it must be considered that from among everything which is allowed, Talaq (divorce) is the most hated thing, the most abhorred by Allah and it is permitted insofar that it does no unjust damage. 

It should in no way be used as part of some ruse which acts as a pretext for divorce. It can happen that the husband does not like a particular behaviour of his wife and that he has had enough of her. This is not sufficient to justify his request for divorce (Talaq). He must not consider only the negative side of his wife but on the contrary he must assess her good qualities that may well be greater than the defects. A separation may as well have a detrimental effect on the behaviour of the couple’s children (if any) who may become easy prey for Satan.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Privacy Matters: Islamic Approaches

Islam does not rush to impose sanctions on its citizens indiscriminately. Instead, Islamic precepts are very firm in relation to the protection of the privacy of individuals which is considered sacred. Islam does not put up surveillance systems, police, cameras to film people and spy on them and scrutinize them through.

Abu Dawud and Al-Hakim reported from Zayd Ibn Wahb: Once a man said to (Abdullah) Ibn Mas’ud (ra): 

“This man, Al-Walid Ibn ‘Uqbah, seems to be drunk for the traces of wine appears on his beard.” Ibn Mas’ud replied: ‘We have been prohibited from spying (on Muslims) and finding faults (with them). But if something become manifests to us (i.e. Had Al-Walid come to us in the situation you have described), then we punish for it.’”

It is reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “When the ruler starts searching for the causes of suspicions among the people he perverts them.” (Abu Dawud, Al-Hakim).

We also note that the explicit prophetic teachings greatly encourage the believer to cover himself (i.e. to keep his mistakes and sins to himself) and to cover others. 

(Abdullah) Ibn Umar reported that after sanctioning the transgression of Maa’iz bin Malik Al-Aslami, the Messenger of God (pbuh) said: “Refrain from this blemish (fornication/ adultery) that God has forbidden. If however one of you is involved in it, it is covered by God’s secret (that is to say, let him keep for himself the secret without disclosing it) and (he should) repent to God. Indeed, anyone who informs us of his crime (i.e. confesses it) should be punished according to the Book of God.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

Man and the Battles of the Heart

“The day whereon neither money nor children will avail, except him who comes to God with a sound heart.” (Ash-Shu’ara, 26: 89-90).

On Judgement Day, only a sound (pure) heart (Qalbun Saliim) shall benefit man. By a sound heart, it means a heart that holds the faith taught by God and His prophets (as) and which is free of any form of polytheism (Shirk). It is also, like I am telling you a heart that is pure from all kinds of dirt, including disobedience.”

The heart is continually exposed to the seductions of this world. When the heart is imbued with the fear of God, it manages to resist these temptations. But in the absence of that awe, the heart will be corrupted and will push the individual to disobey his Creator.

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: Temptations will be presented to men's hearts as reed mat is woven stick by stick and any heart which is impregnated by them will have a black mark put into it, but any heart which rejects them will have a white mark put in it. The result is that there will become two types of hearts: one white like a white stone which will not be harmed by any turmoil or temptation, so long as the heavens and the earth endure; and the other black and dust-coloured like a vessel which is upset (turned upside down), not recognizing what is good or rejecting what is abominable, but being impregnated with passion.” (Muslim).

Man must throughout his life wage a merciless battle against the seductions and temptations of this world. To achieve this, he must strengthen himself through acts of worship.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Justice and Rights in Spouse Relations

India: Muslim Women’s Struggle for Justice

Textual Islam, as emerging from the Qur’an and the sacred Prophetic traditions, provides a fascinating framework to think about and shape an egalitarian family and social order. Islamic tradition envisions justice and fairness in all types of human relations- family engagements, business agreements, state administration and world order. Islam theorizes that the balancing of freedoms and responsibilities, rights and duties among the stakeholders is central to the long term cohesiveness of all types of social institutions. Hence, it commends equity, reciprocity, generosity and even magnanimity  as diverse approaches that could be appropriately deployed for fostering family relations and retaining social order on an even keel. It insists on moderation and restraint and just dealings even in adversarial/strained relations. The Book of God also warns Muslims by citing the lessons from history, of other communities and nations that had abused their freedoms and failed their souls, so that they may observe the Divine limits of conduct. 

It  is an irony of history that despite Islamic empires ruling over most parts of modern India for centuries altogether, the Muslims today stare at the bleak prospect of remaining at the margins of the Indian State for the foreseeable future. With the partition of the subcontinent in the 1940’s into India and Pakistan on the exit of British colonial administration, the Muslims were reduced to a neglected, minority group of 'second-class citizens' among the sea of Hindus in the 'secular', 'democratic' India. Majoritarian political mobilization, rising religion-based adverse discrimination, communal prejudices and other exclusionary biases, denial of fundamental rights and deprivation of basic entitlements are rampant in India today. So much so that astute political observers fear that 'Hindutva'- the political cry for ultra-'Hinduisation'- might bury India's composite culture and latent secular ethos in its majoritarian triumphalism. Muslim women in India, thus, suffer from multiple disadvantages. Their vulnerability is directly related to and arises from the unjust social order prevailing in the country: the political system and the governing elites have failed to bring about an egalitarian society for all of the people through appropriate interventions, including legal reforms and sustained commitment to the equal application of the laws. The traditional community leaders have also failed the Muslim women, they are unable or unwilling to ensure the basic rights and entitlements of the womenfolk in issue areas such as marriage and divorce, child care, family support and maintenance. Their failures are glaring and pronounced, given the impressive presence of a range of normative principles within the Qur'an and the Prophetic Traditions that address this vital area of family relations. 

The patriarchal dimensions of the Indian society, including among the Muslims, often perpetuate a 'family and community order' that inherently subjugates and oppresses women. Husbands are thus increasingly utilizing 'technological means' and new communication devices to get rid of their solemn marital responsibilities. It is revolting that such men/husbands who neglect their Qur'anic duties on respecting the rights and entitlements of their former spouses on divorce, apparently enjoy legitimacy and community support, even as the Mullahs and Maulvis who constitute the community leadership, fail their vocation to stand by the victims, by their abject failure to insist on justice and fairness through internal reforms.

India's imperfect democratic legal system, despite its structural biases and other inherent judicial inefficiencies, does offer the prospect of waging struggles for justice and reforms. This 'lawfare' possibility has in the past been invoked by spirited individuals, human rights activists and civil society movements to advance the cause of fairness and justice at multiple levels and scales in this diverse society. Of late, the Muslim women are organizing themselves to challenge the denial of rights in their every day lives. Former wives, abused and unfairly treated in marriage and out of it and are unjustly denied of their rights on divorce, are seeking to invoke the Qur'an and the national law in order to resist the male chauvinism and brinkmanship on display. 

Reproduced below is an Article in the Indian newspaper, The Hindu, dated October 02, 2016. The article by Vaishna Roy chronicles the remarkable story of a social worker, Zakia Soman, and the women's organization she co- founded, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan (Indian Muslim Women's Association) that is leading the legal struggle for banning certain unjust practices such as "Triple Talaq" that are being grossly misused by privileged men to neglect their legal responsibilities on divorce-matters. 

A few rabid, patriarchal men were speaking on the community’s behalf. And they were talking rubbish. We felt the need to raise a voice.’

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan turns 10. Feisty co-founder Zakia Soman describes the journey. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Spirituality in Spouse Relations

Spirituality is not a set of vague feelings experienced by the Muslim but a daily practice for success in this world and the hereafter.

Cohabitation (Married life) is not easy because our desire to be free and not be constrained by the other is greater than our desire to build a family. But for the Muslim, family is sacred. As stated in the Quran, we must reflect on the place of every word, of every verse.

“Among His signs is that He created from yourselves wives so that you find tranquillity with them and He has set between you bonds of love and mercy.” (Ar-Rum 30: 22).

The survival of humanity passes through the family. Currently, we are witnessing the decline of marriage. On the other hand, concubinage is becoming more frequent as well as conflicts which arise because of it. The consequence of concubinage worldwide is that over 20% of children are born outside marriage.

No law in the Civil Code or other speaks of the duty to love. But in Islam, marriage will live by love or last by mercy. And this love is a blessing which Allah deposits in the heart of whomever He wills. 

“Those who say: O our Lord! Grant us in our wives and our offspring the joy of our eyes and make us guides to those who are pious (God-fearing).’ Those will be rewarded with the highest place (in Paradise) because of their patience. Therein they shall be met with salutations and peace.” (Al-Furqan, 25: 75-76).

Before announcing the reward, there is beforehand the verse where we understand that love is a gift from God. Among His servants, there are those who say: “Lord, let the sight of our wives and our children fill us with joy.” This love will be directly related to paradise and guidance.

Take the example of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) in the way he treated his wives, and he vowed exceptional love for his two principal wives: Khadija (ra) and Aisha (ra). He always spoke good of his late wife Hazrat Khadija (ra). Hazrat Aisha (ra) was jealous of Hazrat Khadija (ra) despite the fact that she had ever seen her. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) used to reminiscence her (Khadija) very often. And it was always in a good way. He had good relations with the relatives of Khadija (ra) even after the death of the latter. He used to send meat to her friends and stood up to receive them as soon as he saw them. That is why, Aisha (ra) was very jealous of her.