Friday, 19 September 2014

ADL, Defamation, & Indoctrination of Israelis (2009)


Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Prophet’s Compassion for Children


 
Children are a great blessing from Allah. With their tender hearts, children can be molded into righteous people only with a positive and tender approach. Islam considers children to be an amanah (trust) given to the family and says it is fard(obligatory) for the family to raise a child in a righteous manner. One should not favor one child over another. In Islam, both male and female children should be treated equally and should be loved and cherished. The children have certain rights over their parents; it is the family’s obligation to shelter, feed, clothe, educate, support, nurture, and love them.
In today’s world many parents are so immersed in worldly life that they forget to pay attention to their children. Many parents think that providing financial support for their child is enough. The fact is, financial support alone doesn’t fulfill a parent’s duty towards their child. One can only win a child’s heart through love and a gentle attitude. It is the child’s right to be loved and cherished.
I remember that, as a child, I yearned for the attention of my family, but being in a joint family—my family and my uncle’s family lived together and a few other cousins stayed with us as their parents were working abroad—did not give me the opportunity to experience the kind of attention I expected. My parents felt that they should not express their love for their children in front of others, as people might think they were favoring us. As a child (and even now), I heard people saying “We need not to express our love to prove that it is there, it is enough to have a loving heart.” But the fact is that only when one expresses love to a child will the child feel more confident and stronger. Children have the capacity to easily distinguish when there is a difference in the attitude of the adults. Whether an adult shows or does not show love will have a significant impact on a child. Hence, we adults have to be conscious with our behavior in the child’s presence and be constantly aware of the emotions we project to our children.
Nowadays, we see people have become hardhearted so that their attitude towards children is unpleasant. There are some who show much partiality toward one gender, and there are some who don’t treat others’ children with the same kindness or affection which they show to their own children. It is common to see even people who claim that they act on the Qur’an and Sunnah showing less interest in playing with their children or giving them the due attention or expression of love.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is the model for the whole of humankind. His attitude towards children was always compassionate and merciful. Being fond of children, Prophet Muhammad showed great interest in playing with them. His involvement in children’s games shows us the great importance in playing with our children. He would have fun with the children who had come back from Abyssinia and tried to speak in Abyssinian with them. It was his practice to give lifts on his camel to children when he returned from journeys.
Prophet Muhammad never held back his love for the children and always expressed his fondness to them. In one hadith Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
I went along with Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) at a time during the day but he did not talk to me and I did not talk to him until he reached the market of Banu Qainuqa`. He came back to the tent of Fatimah and said, “Is the little chap (meaning Al-Hasan) there?” We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him and dress him and garland him with sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he (Al-Hasan) came running until both of them embraced each other, thereupon Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O Allah, I love him; love him and love one who loves him.” (Muslim)
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), the servant of the Prophet, had another recollection:
I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet nurse in the hills around Madinah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back. (Muslim)
The Prophet’s love for children was not restricted to his children and grandchildren. The scope of his mercy and affection embraced all children, and he showed the same interest and gentleness to his Companion’s children. The following hadith narrated by Usamah ibn Zaid (may Allah be pleased with him) shows this humane aspect of the Prophet’s personality:
Allah’s Messenger used to put me on (one of) his thighs and put Al-Hasan ibn `Ali on his other thigh, and then embrace us and say, “O Allah! Please be merciful to them, as I am merciful to them.” (Bukhari)
Some people who were not able to understand the power of expressing love to children wondered why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) played with children and took such an interest in them. Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him),
Allah’s Messenger kissed Al-Hasan ibn `Ali while Al-Aqra` ibn Habis At-Tamim was sitting with him . Al-Aqra` said, “I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.” The Prophet cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet was always concerned about everyone’s thought and feeling. The following hadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) proves his thoughtful character:
The Prophet said, “(It happens that) I start the prayer intending to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I shorten the prayer because I know that the cries of the child will incite its mother’s passions.” (Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet was always patient and considerate with children and took great pain not to hurt their tender feelings.
Narrated Abu Qatadah: “The Messenger of Allah came towards us while carrying Umamah the daughter of Abi Al-`As (Prophet’s granddaughter) over his shoulder. He prayed, and when he wanted to bow, he put her down, and when he stood up he lifted her up.” (Al-Bukhari)
In a another hadith,
Narrated Umm Khalid: I (the daughter of Khalid ibn Said) went to Allah’s Messenger with my father and I was wearing a yellow shirt. Allah’s Messenger said, “Sanah, Sanah!” (`Abdullah, the narrator, said that sanah meant “good” in the Ethiopian language). I then started playing with the seal of prophethood (between the Prophet’s shoulders) and my father rebuked me harshly for that. Allah’s Messenger said, “Leave her.” The Prophet, then, invoked Allah to grant her a long life thrice. (Al-Bukhari)
In another narration we see the Prophet’s tolerance towards children.
Narrated `A’ishah: The Prophet took a child in his lap … and then the child urinated on him, so he asked for water and poured it over the place of the urine. (Al-Bukhari)
Finally I would like to add another saying of the Prophet that proves that Muslims should be conscious to treat their sons and daughters justly:
“Fear Allah and treat your children [small or grown] fairly (with equal justice).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I was molested in the Delhi metro...

 Photo: It was a Saturday afternoon I had lunch with a friend in Gurgaon before I decided to head home.  The metro for those who do not take it or belong to Delhi can get crowded and air tight to an extent that the Tupperware guys could take inspiration. I luckily managed to find a seat till Rajiv Chowk metro station (Connaught Place) where I had to change my train. The doors opened… Btw I was in a regular and not the women’s only coach – why is this little detail important for this post? Well the answer lies ahead.

So where were we? Yes, the doors opened and people began to flood in. I tried to push and nudge my way out but no luck. With a huge sigh I decided to get off at the next station - New Delhi. As I positioned myself close to the exit door I felt a sense of unease run through my body, like someone has pierced their gaze on me or someone is watching me. Suddenly I felt something touch me from behind. With half my mind on trying to get off at the next station I turned thinking it was someone’s bag or hand touching me repeatedly. I turned to see a man in a white kurta (long shirt) staring right at me and he had no baggage with him. In fact both his hands were clenching the railing next to him.  But if both his hands were up there what was it that… I got my answer as soon as I lowered my sight. There beneath that long shirt I could clearly see that this man was UNZIPPED. I felt the blood rush to my head, boiling and fuming and fury ran through every nerve in my body.

Within that fraction of a second every single eve teasing incident, every darn face of those guys who had the guts to molest someone I know flashed in my mind. Before I knew my voice escaped my lungs and there I was screaming at the man who dared to mess with me.

‘KYA problem hai?’ (What is your problem?)
‘Kya samjh rakha hai saale?’ (What the hell do you think?)
‘Himmat kaise huyi teri?’ (How dare you?)

These were some of the things I uttered looking right into his eyes. He was startled and started blabbering that he is sorry and insisted that it was his hand that touched me by mistake. Your ‘HAND’ that comes out from your pants? How the hell was your zip open? I was screaming in a coach full of men and women. Did anyone come forward to help or even displayed basic courtesy to ask me what was wrong? The answer was a big unsurprising NO. I turned and spotted two men in fact smirking at me. Their silence tried my patience and ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

I held that (namesake) man’s collar and dragged him out of the train. He was on a loop mode ‘It was my hand, it was a crowded train’. The moment we set foot at the platform he managed to escape. I ran, with all the strength and courage in me, I ran after him making as much noise as I could. A few saw (the tamasha), the others gasped while one man in the uniform began to chase him. I went towards the other side and we managed to get hold of him. I yelled again How dare you? How did you dare to touch me? People like you make Delhi a nightmare for girls? You make us question every time before we step a foot outside. HOW DARE YOU?

People watched the guards dragging a man to the control room and a girl screaming at him. They only watched.

As we took him to the control room he told the police that I am mistaken, it was his hand that touched me by mistake and it could happen to anyone because it was a crowded train. “Ask her… it was my hand”, he said. 15 guards, all men turned towards me as he tried to shame me. But if he had the guts to do it I had the spine to say it. You see anger brings out the strength you never thought you had in you but in my case anger brought out a language I never thought I could use. I was outright and I had all the right to be – “Lift up that kurta and you will know exactly what touched me”. There. I said it out loud and clear. The guards felt outraged and charged at him. Within seconds he begged for an apology and suddenly the hand in question transformed into a part of his body he wished he never had. “Why would this girl lie? After all she is taking the blame on herself”, said the police officer to the criminal infront of me. He committed the crime, I raised my voice and yet somehow the shame was on me. That statement reflected the thought process of our society, in fact it said much more. I argued with the officer and told the man in question that I have lost NOTHING in this entire episode and in fact I will make him pay for this. He immediately begged for an apology and I instead, insisted to file an FIR. After a few calls, 5 friends of mine reached the station to back me up and how? They were equally angered and showed no mercy.

We moved to Kashmere Gate police station and I slapped a sexual molestation case against him. He was arrested and put behind bars immediately. I decided to not let this one go and appeared at the court on Monday to record my statement in front of the magistrate. Meanwhile this man has been moved to Tihar jail and will spend his time behind the bars until he gets bail.

You see there are several measures being taken to make our public spots and transport safe. Someone asked me as to why I did not take the women’s only coach? But honestly that’s not a solution. These reservations in fact paint the idea that it is not ok or safe for women to be in public spaces. It's debatable, I know but are reservations really improving the situation? Then what would?

I think the answer lies within us. Unless women put forward that is not OKAY for someone to touch and get away with it, nothing will change.

I could just bite the bullet and accept that I was eve teased or molested. Or I can raise my voice and instill the fear in the criminal instead of victimising myself.  If this man has the guts to unzip in a metro full of people, he probably started off by doing something less offensive to another girl. Her silence was his encouragement. Remember every time you choose to ignore or walk away, you put someone else in danger. 

So I urge women to respect their body and know that it’s okay for you to say that someone touched you without your consent and you have to muster the courage to reach out to the police. I insist please for the sake of womanhood – SPEAK UP!

By Megha Vishwanath

Original image source: Camilla Soares http://stry.pk/1rPURLE

It was a Saturday afternoon I had lunch with a friend in Gurgaon before I decided to head home. The metro for those who do not take it or belong to Delhi can get crowded and air tight to an extent that the Tupperware guys could take inspiration. I luckily managed to find a seat till Rajiv Chowk metro station (Connaught Place) where I had to change my train. The doors opened… Btw I was in a regular and not the women’s only coach – why is this little detail important for this post? Well the answer lies ahead.

So where were we? Yes, the doors opened and people began to flood in. I tried to push and nudge my way out but no luck. With a huge sigh I decided to get off at the next station - New Delhi. As I positioned myself close to the exit door I felt a sense of unease run through my body, like someone has pierced their gaze on me or someone is watching me. Suddenly I felt something touch me from behind. With half my mind on trying to get off at the next station I turned thinking it was someone’s bag or hand touching me repeatedly. I turned to see a man in a white kurta (long shirt) staring right at me and he had no baggage with him. In fact both his hands were clenching the railing next to him. But if both his hands were up there what was it that… I got my answer as soon as I lowered my sight. There beneath that long shirt I could clearly see that this man was UNZIPPED. I felt the blood rush to my head, boiling and fuming and fury ran through every nerve in my body.

Within that fraction of a second every single eve teasing incident, every darn face of those guys who had the guts to molest someone I know flashed in my mind. Before I knew my voice escaped my lungs and there I was screaming at the man who dared to mess with me.

‘KYA problem hai?’ (What is your problem?)
‘Kya samjh rakha hai saale?’ (What the hell do you think?)
‘Himmat kaise huyi teri?’ (How dare you?)

These were some of the things I uttered looking right into his eyes. He was startled and started blabbering that he is sorry and insisted that it was his hand that touched me by mistake. Your ‘HAND’ that comes out from your pants? How the hell was your zip open? I was screaming in a coach full of men and women. Did anyone come forward to help or even displayed basic courtesy to ask me what was wrong? The answer was a big unsurprising NO. I turned and spotted two men in fact smirking at me. Their silence tried my patience and ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

I held that (namesake) man’s collar and dragged him out of the train. He was on a loop mode ‘It was my hand, it was a crowded train’. The moment we set foot at the platform he managed to escape. I ran, with all the strength and courage in me, I ran after him making as much noise as I could. A few saw (the tamasha), the others gasped while one man in the uniform began to chase him. I went towards the other side and we managed to get hold of him. I yelled again How dare you? How did you dare to touch me? People like you make Delhi a nightmare for girls? You make us question every time before we step a foot outside. HOW DARE YOU?

People watched the guards dragging a man to the control room and a girl screaming at him. They only watched.

As we took him to the control room he told the police that I am mistaken, it was his hand that touched me by mistake and it could happen to anyone because it was a crowded train. “Ask her… it was my hand”, he said. 15 guards, all men turned towards me as he tried to shame me. But if he had the guts to do it I had the spine to say it. You see anger brings out the strength you never thought you had in you but in my case anger brought out a language I never thought I could use. I was outright and I had all the right to be – “Lift up that kurta and you will know exactly what touched me”. There. I said it out loud and clear. The guards felt outraged and charged at him. Within seconds he begged for an apology and suddenly the hand in question transformed into a part of his body he wished he never had. “Why would this girl lie? After all she is taking the blame on herself”, said the police officer to the criminal infront of me. He committed the crime, I raised my voice and yet somehow the shame was on me. That statement reflected the thought process of our society, in fact it said much more. I argued with the officer and told the man in question that I have lost NOTHING in this entire episode and in fact I will make him pay for this. He immediately begged for an apology and I instead, insisted to file an FIR. After a few calls, 5 friends of mine reached the station to back me up and how? They were equally angered and showed no mercy.

We moved to Kashmere Gate police station and I slapped a sexual molestation case against him. He was arrested and put behind bars immediately. I decided to not let this one go and appeared at the court on Monday to record my statement in front of the magistrate. Meanwhile this man has been moved to Tihar jail and will spend his time behind the bars until he gets bail.

You see there are several measures being taken to make our public spots and transport safe. Someone asked me as to why I did not take the women’s only coach? But honestly that’s not a solution. These reservations in fact paint the idea that it is not ok or safe for women to be in public spaces. It's debatable, I know but are reservations really improving the situation? Then what would?

I think the answer lies within us. Unless women put forward that is not OKAY for someone to touch and get away with it, nothing will change.

I could just bite the bullet and accept that I was eve teased or molested. Or I can raise my voice and instill the fear in the criminal instead of victimising myself. If this man has the guts to unzip in a metro full of people, he probably started off by doing something less offensive to another girl. Her silence was his encouragement. Remember every time you choose to ignore or walk away, you put someone else in danger. 

So I urge women to respect their body and know that it’s okay for you to say that someone touched you without your consent and you have to muster the courage to reach out to the police. I insist please for the sake of womanhood – SPEAK UP!

By Megha Vishwanath

 Taken from facebook page 'Muslim Feminists' 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Religious minorities under Ottoman rule


Jews at the western or wailing wall circa 1900.
 Jews at the western or wailing wall circa 1900.
 
Much like previous Muslim Empires, the Ottomans showed great toleration and acceptance of non-Muslim communities in their empire. This is based on existing Muslim laws regarding the status of non-Muslims. They are protected, given religious freedoms, and free from persecution according to the Shariah. One of the first precedents of this was the Treaty of Umar ibn al-Khattab, in which he guaranteed the Christians of Jerusalem total religious freedom and safety.
The Millet System
The first instance of the Ottomans having to rule a large number of Christians was after the conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed II in 1453. Constantinople had historically been the center of the Orthodox Christian world, and still had a large Christian population. As the empire grew into Europe, more and more non-Muslims came under Ottoman authority. For example, in the 1530s, over 80% of the population in Ottoman Europe was not Muslim. In order to deal with these new Ottoman subjects, Mehmed instituted a new system, later called the millet system.
Under this system, each religious group was organized into a millet. Millet comes from the Arabic word for “nation”, indicating that the Ottomans considered themselves the protectors of multiple nations. Each religious group was considered its own millet, with multiple millets existing in the empire. For example, all Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire were considered as constituting a millet, while all Jews constituted another millet. 
Each millet was allowed to elect its own religious figure to lead them. In the case of the Orthodox Church (the biggest Church in the Ottoman Empire), the Orthodox Patriarch (the Archbishop of Constantinople) was the elected leader of the millet. The leaders of the millets were allowed to enforce their own religion’s rules on their people. Islamic law (Shariah) had no jurisdiction over non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire.
In cases of crime, people would be punished according to the rules of their own religion, not Islamic rules or rules of other religions. For example, if a Christian were to steal, he would be punished according to the Christian laws regarding theft. If a Jew were to steal, he were to be punished according to Jewish laws, etc. The only time Islamic law would come into account was if the criminal was a Muslim, or when there was a case involving two people from different millets. In that case, a Muslim judge was to preside over the case and judge according to his best judgement and common law.
In addition to religious law, millets were given freedom to use their own language, develop their own institutions (churches, schools, etc), and collect taxes. The Ottoman sultan only exercised control over the millets through their leaders. The millet leaders ultimately reported to the sultan, and if there was a problem with a millet, the sultan would consult that millet leader. Theoretically, the Muslim population of the Ottoman Empire also constituted a millet, with the Ottoman sultan as the millet leader.
Legacy
The Ottoman Empire lasted from 1300 to 1922. Throughout most of this history, the millet system provided a system of religious harmony and belonging throughout the empire. As the empire expanded, more millets were organized. Separate millets existed for Armenian, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians, for example, with each sect being divided further into more specific regional churches.
The millet system did not last until the end of the Ottoman Empire. As the empire weakened in the 1700s and 1800s, European intervention in the empire expanded. When the liberal Tanzimat were passed in the 1800s, the millet system was abolished, in favor of a more European-style secularist government. The Ottomans were forced to guarantee vague “rights” to religious minorities, which in fact limited their freedoms. Instead of being allowed to rule themselves according to their own rules, all religious groups were forced to follow the same set of secular laws. This actually ended up causing more religious tension in the empire, which was one of the causes of the genocide of the Armenians during World War One in the Ottoman Empire’s dying days.
The millet system was a unique and creative solution to running a multi-ethnic and multi-religious empire. The rights and freedoms it gave to religious minorities were far ahead of their time. While Europe struggled with religious persecution into the 1900s, the Ottomans created a harmonious and stable religious pluralistic system that guaranteed religious freedom for hundreds of years.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ayat al-Kursi

The Advantages of Ayatul Kursi
Verse 255 of Surah al-Baqarah (chapter: The cow) in holy Qur’an is called Ayatul Kursi:
"Allah! is besides whom there is no God, the Everliving, the self-subsisting by whom all subsist; slumber does not overtake Him nor sleep; whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His; who is he that can intercede with Him but by his permission?
He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they can not comprehend anything out of His knowledge except what He pleases, His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of them both tires Him not, and He is the Most High, the Great."
The benefits Ayatul Kursi are:
1. Holy prophet (PBUH) said: whoever recites the first 4 ayats of Surah al-Baqarah (chapter: The cow), then Ayatul Kursi and then the last 3 ayats of Surah al-Baqarah, will not be inflicted with any kind of difficulty in his wealth or himself, Satan will not come near him and he will not forget the Qur’an.
2. Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: Qur’an is a great word, and Surah al-Baqarah is the leader of the Qur’an and Ayatul Kursi is the leader of Surah al-Baqarah. In Ayatul Kursi there are 50 words and for each word there are 50 blessings and good in it.
3. One who recites Ayatul Kursi every morning will be in the protection, safety of Allah until the night.
4. If one ties this to ones wealth or children, they will be safe from Satan.
5. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said: These things increase ones memory: sweets, meat of an animal which is slaughtered in Islamic manner near the neck, Lentils, cold bread and recitation of Ayatul Kursi.
6. For those of our dear ones who have passed away, recitation of Ayatul Kursi and giving it as Hadiyeh to them, gives them light (noor) in the grave.
7. Frequent recitation makes ones own death easy.
8. When leaving home, if one recites it once, the Almighty has one group of Angels to come and protect you. If recited twice, 2 groups of Angels are assigned to do this. If recited 3 times Allah tells the Angels not to worry as the Almighty himself takes care of him.
9. The Holy Prophet has said: If one recites Ayatul Kursi before going to sleep, Allah will send an Angel to come and look after you and protect.
10. When one is alone in the house, recitation of Ayatul Kursi and asking Allah for help will make you remain calm and you will not fear.
11. The Holy Prophet has said: When leaving home, if one recites Ayatul Kursi, then Allah will send 70,000 Angels to do Istighfaar for him until he returns home, and upon his return Poverty will be removed from him.
12. One who recites it after every prayer, their salat will be accepted, and they will remain in the safety of the Almighty and He will protect them.
13. Allah told Prophet Musa (a.s): If one recites it after every salat, the Almighty will make his heart a thankful one (Shakireen) will give him a reward of the prophets, and his deeds will be like those of the truthful (Siddiqeen).
source

Thursday, 11 September 2014

On Aisha’s age at the time of marriage



I think too much emphasis is put on Aisha’s age (ra) at the time of her marriage and/or consummation to Muhammad (saaws).
There are two issues at play here: The issues with the narrations that say Aisha (ra) was nine when her marriage with Nabi Muhammad (saaws) was consummated, and the issue with placing modern, “first world” values on illiterate societies.

The issues with the ahadith

First, let’s look at the issues with the hadiths saying Aisha (ra) was nine when her marriage was consummated. I am not going to reinvent the wheel in regards to this topic. Instead, here is an excerpt from someone else’s research:
  • Most of these narratives [saying Aisha (ra) was married at 6 and her marriage was consummated at 9] are reported only by Hisham ibn `urwah reporting on the authority of his father. An event as well known as the one being reported, should logically have been reported by more people than just one, two or three.
  • It is quite strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `urwah lived the first seventy one years of his life has narrated the event, even though in Medinahhis pupils included people as well known as Malik ibn Anas. All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have had shifted after living in Medinah for seventy one years.
  • Tehzibu’l-tehzib, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that according toYaqub ibn Shaibah: “narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq”. It further states that Malik ibn Anasobjected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq. (vol 11, pg 48 – 51)
  • Mizanu’l-ai`tidal, another book on the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) reports that when he was old, Hisham’s memory suffered quite badly. (vol 4, pg 301 – 302)
  • According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years before Hijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (kitabu’l-tafseer) Ayesha (ra) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur’an, was revealed, “I was a young girl”. The 54th surah of the Qur’an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Ayesha (ra) had not only been born before the revelation of the referred surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn `urwah. I see absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham ibn `urwah, why we should not accept this narrative to be more accurate.
  • According to a number of narratives, Ayesha (ra) accompanied the Muslims in the battle of Badr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of hadithand history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to take part in the battle of Uhud. All the boys below 15 years of age were sent back. Ayesha’s (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhud clearly indicate that she was not nine or ten years old at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battle fields to help them, not to be a burden on them.
  • According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported in Taqri’bu’l-tehzi’b as well asAl-bidayah wa’l-nihayah that Asma (ra) died in 73 hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma (ra) was 100 years old in 73 hijrah she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. If Asma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah, Ayesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha (ra), if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.

Placing modern, “first world” values on illiterate societies

We need to understand that illiterate societies are different from literate societies when it comes to the age of maturity. To prove my point, let’s go to a quote about Europe in the throes of the Dark Ages (a largely illiterate period of time) and see what they thought of children, since Europe is the gold standard for Western beliefs:
In an oral [illiterate] world there is not much of a concept of an adult and, therefore, even less of a child. And that is why, in all the sources, one finds that in the Middle Ages childhood ended at seven. Why seven? Because that is the age at which children have command over speech. They can say and understand what adults can say and understand. They are able to know all the secrets of the tongue, which are the only secrets they need to know. And this helps us to explain why, until the seventeenth century, the words used to denote young males could refer to men of thirty, forty, or fifty, for there was no word – in French, German, or English – for a young male between the ages of seven and sixteen. The word child expressed kinship, not age. But most of all, the oralism [illiteracy] of the Middle Ages helps us to explain why there were no primary schools. For where biology determines communication competence, there is no need for such schools.
(Above quote from The Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman.)
So you see, Aisha’s age (if we accept the hadiths with the younger ages) at the time of marriage and consummation only applies to illiterate societies. Once the determination for adulthood becomes command of the written word over the command of the spoken word, childhood appears. Concepts of pedophilia appear, because the age in which adults need to protect children from the secrets of the adult world extends much further, from seven to, say, seventeen.
Furthermore, to the Evangelical Atheists out there I ask: What part of the theory of evolution and modern primatology states that one must be 18 (or 16 or 21) in order to have children? What evolutionary advantage is there, over the millenia of human existence, in waiting for humans to reach an arbitrary solar year age-wise? The answer is there is no such understanding. Obviously waiting for a woman to reach a certain biological maturity is better for her (and for her child), but biological maturity does not equate with a solar (or lunar) year of age. Case in point – my cousin was menstruating at 8 and was very mature by the age of 14. I, however, did not start menstruating until I was 14 and I was not biologically mature until I was well into my 16th year.
In fact, does it disturb anyone else out there that it is acceptable for a girl of 15-17 years of age to experiment sexually and engage in consensual relationships with her peers, yet it is not acceptable in most states for her to get married? I don’t get this at all. If the individuals we define in American society as children are expected and urged into sexual relations and think about sexual orientation and identity, why is it wrong for them to also get married? Certainly, if they are physically and emotionally mature enough to have sex wouldn’t that make them also physically and emotionally mature enough to get married?
Beyond this debate and regardless of which hadith you accept in regards to Aisha’s (ra) age, that’s why most Muslims don’t marry off their daughters as soon as they have their first period (or encourage them into sexual experimentation)- because it doesn’t make sense in a literate society to do so! A child who is menstruating and has command over the spoken word is not a fully functioning part of literate society, but she is a fully functioning part of illiterate society. In fact, Islam’s revelation in and of itself actually started the liberation of women from the perils of illiterate society because its copious texts and requirements that women be educated changed the way Muslim societies viewed childhood and women themselves. The fact that Western “liberators” outright ignore the protection Islam gives women and instead focus on a marriage that was not even a scandal at the time merely shows that they are not interested in understanding, and without understanding there can be no liberation.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Why India’s Muslims are so moderate




ON SEPTEMBER 3RD Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's chief, released a video message in which he promised to "raise the flag of jihad" across South Asia. Many analysts responded with little more than a shrug. The extremist group looks increasingly desperate. Since Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, al-Qaeda’s impact has been limited. It is overshadowed by the brutal Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, which draws volunteer fighters from a wide range of countries and has said that Afghanistan and Pakistan will be brought under its yoke too. Yet the biggest reason for scepticism about al-Qaeda’s threat is that neither it, nor the IS, are likely to get support from more than a tiny handful of Muslims in India.

India’s Muslims are numerous, but moderate. Though barely 15% of the total, at some 180m they roughly number the same as Pakistan’s entire population. Many are disaffected. In the only Muslim-majority state, Kashmir, residents are embittered by years of heavy-handed rule by Indian security forces, and protests frequently erupt. Occasional terrorist attacks take place in Indian cities, blamed on a home-grown group, the Indian Mujahideen. In February 2013 a bomb attack in Hyderabad killed 16. But these attacks have been growing less frequent and less deadly, possibly because support from Pakistan has waned. Bursts of deadly religious violence, when Muslims and Hindus clash, also take place, most notably last year near a northern town, Muzaffarnagar, when at least 40 people were killed. India’s Muslims generally have reasons for some gloom: they endure lower levels of education, income, political representation or government jobs than the majority Hindus. And yet India’s Muslims, almost across the board, have remained moderate, tolerant, quick to condemn religious violence and ready to engage members of other religions. The contrast with the sectarian bloodletting, growing radicalism and deepening conservatism in Pakistan next door, for example, is striking.

A combination of factors explains it. Islam in South Asia has a long history, over 1,000 years, but was long dominated by Sufis who integrated closely with non-Muslim Hindus, sharing many cultural practices. In Pakistan, decades of large-scale migration to the Gulf along with close political ties to Saudi Arabia saw harder forms of Sunni Islam adopted, notably the spread of Wahhabi and Deobandi mosques, madrassas and beliefs. By contrast many Indian Muslim migrants to the Gulf, for example from Kerala, have proved less effective at reimporting harder-line forms of Islam on a large scale. Indian madrassas appear to be under more watchful eyes of the state. It is crucial, too, that India—unlike Pakistan and many other countries with large Muslim populations—has long remained as a robust and lively democracy. A secular constitution and the electoral clout of a sizeable minority helps give Muslims in India a stake in the political system. Many are also intensely proud to be Indian, even if a few support Pakistan’s cricket team. Targeted government welfare schemes to assist "backward" Muslim groups may help too. The election this year of Hindu nationalist, Narendra Modi, as prime minister has not cheered Indian Muslims. But his promise to treat the secular constitution as his "bible" helps to put a limit on anxiety. Perhaps as important, as Indian Muslims are widely dispersed around the country, they are in a small but not insignificant minority almost everywhere: that fact encourages both majority Hindus and Muslims mostly to rub along together, since extremism would prove disruptive for just about everyone.

Such moderation is obviously a boon, and prevents more communal violence. Even troubled Kashmir has for the past three years seen relative calm. A handful of Indian recruits have reportedly joined up with IS in the Middle East but because they are from a population of 180m that hardly looks significant (more worrying are reports of several young men joining the IS from increasingly hardline, Sunni-Islam Maldives). Yet moderation today is not a guarantee that extremism will not arise tomorrow in India. One additional reason at times given for India’s Muslims remaining moderate is that literacy rates and incomes have been low, leaving them relatively isolated from those global forces—such as jihadist websites and news of atrocities against Muslims in the Middle East—that help to spread rage elsewhere. Rising literacy, an ever-more urban population and growing wealth and information may yet encourage more extremist factions to emerge. Large migration flows to the Gulf might yet help to bring back more conservative Islamic beliefs and funds for Wahhabi mosques and madrassas. Similarly, if Hindu nationalists in power were to grow heavy-handed, a backlash and a rise in extremism are easy to imagine. The stability in India is a remarkable achievement. With luck, zealots and murderers such as al-Zawahiri will therefore fail in their desperate ambitions. But preserving stability will be a task for everyone.

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