Ramadan Mubarak and Ijtema Updates

As-Salamu Alaikum dear readers

As you have noticed, IJTEMA has been silent for the past half year or so. However, as promised, we had been working behind the scene on our next service. It derives from the same IJTEMA philosophy- sharing good content.

In preparation for the forthcoming launch of our latest service, we launched a new Facebook page, and Twitter stream.

To find out more, please stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter. If enough of you join the fan page on Facebook, we can register for a decent shortcut (i.e., facebook.com/ijtema). So please become a fan NOW!

We shall make the final announcements very soon, inshaAllah.

Please remember IJTEMA and the whole Ummah in your Du’a in this blessed month.

Mumbai Terrorists Succeed

The Mumbai terror attacks have left some deep scars. In terms of numbers, perhaps more Pakistanis are dying every day; but as it is, Mumbai is turning out to be more significant. India and Pakistan are back to rhetoric, and indeed, back from the brink of a war! Progress made in the past few years are gone in a few days. That event is tending to divide the Muslims and the Hindus in India.  Many Muslims are apologetic about crimes that they did not participate in, and had nothing to do with except as a victim. Pakistani seems to have become an abuse. (Not so long ago Obama was “smeared” by the horribly offensive term- “Muslim,” against which he rightfully protested; but did not do the right thing by saying- “(No I’m not), but why would that be a bad thing?.”) We have these beer drinking terrorists- who they are, what they want we do not know. We have these people who are confused. We have other political entities who benefit from our loss and others’ loss. The terrorists seem to have won the battle. We have to win the war.

Du’a is the least we can do. Today, as three million Muslims stand at Mecca, we can make du’a for ourselves, and make du’a for them, and for everybody in the Ummah, and for every person in the whole wide world.

Eid Wishes, y’all.

[Image courtesy: Ron Gonzalez]

Obsession with Obama?

After a long and hard fought primary and election, Barack Obama emerged victorious. The islamosphere is abuzz.

Let us begin with the positive notes. Margari Aziza Hill is happy that Obama won. And she says that the good things have only begun-

 This victory has more to do with an internal change in American society, foreign policy issues. But it has everything to do with the place Black Americans have in American society. And for Black American Muslims, this also profoundly changes the defined roles we have in American society. The most famous and recognizable Black man is an intellectual and Head of State (considering the last presidency, I think it is important to point out both). The reality is, that the public image of Black Americans, and let us not forget Africans on the continent and in Diaspora, defines our role in the American Muslim community. How so? Our public image shapes the ways in which our fellow co-religionists see us. Barack Obama’s presidency inverts a number of stereotypes that many in the Muslim community in the US and abroad have about Black Americans. In much of Muslim world outside of sub-Saharan Africa, people associate Blackness with slavery and inferiority. I recognize that this might not change the fact that when I go to the masjid in America, some immigrant Muslims will assume I am uneducated, broke, and not as valuable of an asset to the Ummah as a white convert.

Over to Tariq Nelson-

 No one is saying that everything is going to turn for the better just because of the election, but it certainly does change perceptions and the attitudes of many people in the corridors of power. Times are changing and it is time to get with it.

Then we have the dissent. The Man of Few Words has some disturbing observations-

 Let me explain.  Obama, is an opportunist who will gleefully trade in his values and beliefs in order to get ahead.  Let’s look at the litany of Obama’s sins.

1. Went back on his promise of accepting public funds for his campaign thus outraising McCain with scandalous amounts of money that, contrary to the naive amongst his adoring worshippers, was not made up primarily of small donors, but rather funded significantly by many large corporations.

2. Went back on his word and voted for FISA granting the telecommunications companies immunity for cooperating with the criminal Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping.

3. He voted for the re-authorization of the Patriot Act, there go our civil liberties.

George Friedman of Muslim Cowboys is nuanced.

 He will begin as one of the most powerful presidents in a long while. Truly extraordinary were the celebrations held around the world upon Obama’s victory. They affirm the global expectations Obama has raised – and reveal that the United States must be more important to Europeans than the latter like to admit. (We can’t imagine late-night vigils in the United States over a French election.)

Obama is an extraordinary rhetorician, and as Aristotle pointed out, rhetoric is one of the foundations of political power. Rhetoric has raised him to the presidency, along with the tremendous unpopularity of his predecessor and a financial crisis that took a tied campaign and gave Obama a lead he carefully nurtured to victory. So, as with all politicians, his victory was a matter of rhetoric and, according to Machiavelli, luck.

I hope this does prove to be a good thing for the Black people (I don’t like “African American” because there is nothing wrong with being black) and the rest of the world. He’s not going to fight racism in it’s face. But he being president will make the Black people more ambitious. The early signs about foreign policy, however, are not good. Biden and Emanuel is now joined by Sonal Shah, a former office bearer of VHP-A which is an extremist Indian group espousing “Hindutva”, and is responsible for many communal riots in India, and is recently being investigated for being involved in terrorist strikes in India (to be passed of “Islamic” terror.)

And I hope that the differences amongst us about Obama does not lead to divides. Differences are bliss. Divides are not.

(Image: Vincent J. Brown)

Dr. Wadud in England

Another event that has got the bloggers blogging is Dr. Amina Wadud’s attempt to lead Friday prayers again, this time in England.

UmmahPulse has an investigative piece on the people organizing it and the actual event.

Despite attempts by the organisers to whip up controversy with the help of the local (Oxford Mail) and national media (The Times), the event was a total flop – hardly anyone attended. An evening news report broadcast on the ITV Thames Valley programme (17.10.08) commented on “the media far outnumbering the congregation” and “the historic moment being underwhelmed by the turnout from both sides of the debate, with the majority of Muslims in Oxford having simply decided to ignore the event”.

Indigo Jo of Blogistan criticizes it and provides textual basis for mainstream scholars’ opposition.

As for the proof of the invalidity of the prayer of anyone who “prayed” behind Wadud, here is a collection of opinions by some modern scholars of Islam who are not ranting extremists (PDF, I’m afraid); I also wrote a few articles tackling not only the “prayer” itself but the media response to it and some of Wadud’s other antics ([1], [2], [3]). I wonder if she is aware (or if she cares) about Hargey’s well-documented deviations, such as believing that the hadeeth contain so many forgeries and fabrications that they should not be used to derive legal rulings, but rather that Muslims should use the Qur’an alone?

Shahrzaad asks a question on her blog and set off a response by Achelois.

So if muslim women can be the jurisprudent, i’d like to know why not the prayer leading then?

-

We need to hear from another woman and not a man what lies for us in religion. Blogosphere is not our khutbah place. We need to connect with women in the real world. At least I need that. I want to hear what a Muslim woman like me thinks about politics, religion, feminism, marriage, child-bearing and child-raising. I want to know what God says about women. I want to know what lies in Heaven for women. I want to know how God feels about lesbians. I want to know what should be done to men who rape their wives. Sorry but the khutbahs don’t tell me all that. I want to do more than swap recipes and talk about fashion with women.

But I wish I could look forward to it as a day when the entire family can go out and meet like minded people; where we can spend a good hour or so praying and talking about what is important to both men and women in Islam.

 

Therefore, I feel that it is important for women to be included in Friday sermons.

In a similar vein, Progressive Muslima wonders why something supposedly as relatively inane as this excites traditional conservative Muslims while more serious social issues don’t rally them.

Also, I find interesting that some Muslims who had intended to attend the prayers in Oxford were told they would no longer be welcome in their own mosques if they did so. I wonder if adulterers, wife beaters, child abusers, “honor” killers and folks who force their children to marry receive the same intimidating visits from these “concerned” Muslims.

Me in the Mirror

Last week we saw a bunch of self-critical posts. The trend continues, but the tone seems more positive this week. This is second and last in the series.

There has been some discussion about Black American Muslims.

Charles says:

It is my concern, but not mine alone, that Blackamerican Muslims(BAMs) in the US are quite torn between several ideologies, methodologies, and postulates concerning their current position in relation to immigrant, second-generation(GEN II), and ‘foreign’ Muslims.

[...]

When are BAMs going to acknowledge that we do not have concrete leadership? Or when and if we do reach that point, that our leadership may not take the stance of all the other Muslims?

[...]

There is no better time than now for BAMs to start plotting their own course to reach their Islamic ideal. It does not mean incorporating supremacist ideology or shifting blame from White America to Muslim-immigrant America. However, as has been witnessed in circles all around the country, there are outside influences which will impede the progress of BAMs. The jagged little pill is that BAMs are not quite sure how to create a healthy separation to foster the maturation through self-actualization I often speak of.

Marc writes, on the BAM issue:

A quick scan of the Muslim blogosphere, particularly the Blackamerican blogs, renders a mixture of angst, indignation, soul searching and a mixed bag of other emotions. To put it simply, [Black]American Muslims are having an existential crisis. From lack of authority to lack of learning, Modernity circles the camp, constantly threatening, constantly throwing confusion into the mix.

[...]

For me, my part was to get directly involved in the game. Over the past several months, I have come into contact with a variety of Muslims who have been earnestly seeking out some type of guidance. Everything from new Muslims who have been left in a state of dysfunction after the big hoorah of their shahadah to Muslims whove fallen off the wagon but are searching out some rehabilitation.

Mahaguru on the Malaysian government:

Everytime I arrive at the Butterworth Bus Terminal, I cringe with anticipating the express bus that I am in toppling over as it’s tyres descend into the many potholes reminiscent of the bomb blasted airport runway craters of Beirut.

[...]

What good did that blasting into space of that doctor cum part time model into orbit and eventually doing his thingamajig at the International Space Station do for Malaysians?

Many Malaysians are suffering here on Earth and we have the BN clowns at Putrajaya burning money like what people do during the Hungry Ghosts Festival?

Only difference is that these Putrajaya clowns burn real money!

And following up on the old post, Amy on the half filled glass:

To start with, the obscure new rule about strollers not being allowed in the building–somehow the word did get out and the sisters are cooperating. MaashaaAllah. May Allah reward the sisters who repeatedly had to explain this rule, and the sisters who are following it. Strollers are a problem because they block hallways and doorways–which can be a real safety hazard.

In addition the volunteer sisters last night were determined to keep food out of the new prayer area–that didn’t make most people very happy, but it’s something that must be vigilantly enforced, I think. Refreshments, you see, were being served across the hall, and naturally some wanted to return to the prayer hall with their food but they were kept out, and the sisters who kept them out often had to be strong in that but they were also polite, so I commend them. MaashaaAllah. May Allah reward them for setting that good example.

(Editor’s note: You must have noticed that the views are not exactly in sync with each other, nor with that of the IJTEMA team. They are chosen to give a window to different views within the Ummah. The choice is yours.)

Looking at the Mirror

(Editor’s Note: You will find conflicting views below, and it is upto you to decide.)

The Muslim blog-o-sphere seems to have turned attention to self-reflection.

Some of that boils down to- everybody in Ummah is bad except me; and if I have anything wrong, that’s because of their company.

Good news is, most of it is serious self-reflection. About me and you. In fact, more about me than you.

So here goes:

Charles at The Great Theft:

Muslims arent writing and fighting among each other or the non-Muslims to reach unity! We are waging war among and against ourselves for autonomy, for the right to speak for Islam and all Muslims whether those spoken for like it or not. This is a fact not even the Bush administration has acknowledged. All of these groups whether physically driven or ideologically driven, want to retain power among theirselves. Let me ask the reader a question: If the US leaves Muslims and the Middle East alone who comes to power? Here is another question: If the US seriously promotes democratic reform in the Middle East which groups benefit? I am not going to tell you the answers. It is for you to seriously ponder over. Am I suggesting that US foreign policy is the best thing since baked bread? By no means, but I am boldly stating that a vacuum exists without any outside influence and it cannot be denied.

Umm Zaid is much disturbed:

A very, mashAllah, tall and big woman stood on my foot while the imam recited a very long Asr prayer (apparently it was all of Surat al Baqara at least, it felt like it), oblivious to the tears of pain rolling down my cheeks. When it was over, I made some dua by myself, and after that, was surrounded by a group of women wearing niqabs who berated me for making dua after asr (they said it was haram), wiping over my face (Dont bring that cultural nonsense into our masjid), and who picked apart the prayers of one another (Your hands were as such, Sister So and So, and your prayer is not going to be accepted and so on). May God Guide these women and all of us.

But no one said anything to her about the fact that she caused me (and likely the person on her other side) pain. This is because she was making Shaytan didnt get through any gaps, even if she had to break my bones to do it. She was enacting the Sunnah on my foot. This was one of the first times I went to a masjid. From this I learned that Muslims pay attention to each other during prayer, and that one must be hyper-aware of what is going on next to one. No matter what all of our books say about khushu and minding ones own ps & qs.

Ginny finds much parallel between being a Muslim and being blind:

Before becoming a Muslim, I had to deal with being different and having that difference instantly noticeable the minute I walked into a room, or the moment anyone saw me. Even if I didnt have a cane with me, the fact that my eyes didnt focus properly, or because I had to hold onto someones arm when I went into an unfamiliar place, made me instantly recognizable as blind and thus different.

[...]

And yes, this does tie into being a Muslim, and more particularly a Muslim woman. Because as a Muslim woman, you have the same sorts of ignorance, the same sorts of stereotypes, the same sorts of pity. For a convert, you have the astonishment from non-Muslims that youd actively choose this lifestyle, because how would anyone want to subjugate themselves like that. You have the pity because of the stereotype of the oppressed Muslim woman.

Amy, too, is disconcerted:

The masjid here just opened a new portion of the building, including a musallah on the second floor especially for sisters (henceforth known as the fake musallah.) According to some people (men and women alike unfortunately) this means that women can’t or shouldn’t pray in the real musallah, the main one on the first floor. I tick these people off when I refuse to go upstairs to the fake musallah, and instead choose to pray behind the men. They usually let me know, as if I’m some poor stupid lass who can’t figure out how to use stairs.

[...]

the sisters seem to have a problem observing basic congregational prayer etiquette. Like straighting the lines. And filling in the gaps. And starting the row in the center behind the imam. It isn’t difficult to tell where the imam is downstairs, although it is not possible to actually see him. But still sisters insist on lining up starting sideways or in a corner instead of in the center. So tonight for example, the sisters somehow decided to line up in the front left corner of the fake musallah (against all logic) and as usual failed to fill in the gaps, and as usual could not manage to keep the line straight, despite having clear rows on the carpet!

Where have we gone wrong?

Ameera reflects on the state of the Muslim Ummah today, and the multitude of ills it faces,

“The Muslim Ummah today is approximately fourteen centuries old. We number over a billion, we attest to a Message which is the fastest growing faith in the world currently, far outstripping even the rate of spread of other faiths. But really, where do we stand today?…It is a question which goes through the mind of every conscious Muslim often. We look at the current position of the world, the ongoing wars, oppression, suppression, human rights violations, economic backwardness, illiteracy, aggressiveness, poverty, crime, ignorance and wonder what went wrong?”

The answer lies with us, she explains, as she urges us to take a critical look at ourselves,

“The Ummah has fallen into all sorts of destructive deeds because of losing contact with its own identity…..It is time to ponder in ourselves what the solution to this crisis should be. Educating the masses? Eradicating poverty? Preaching tolerance? All these and other facets of reform are taught by the Quran and Sunnah in the best manner,”

Read more.

Helping the Ummah, Bit by Bit

We feel angry and frustrated about the problems that the Ummah faces, and often complain about them. Nobody listens, which leads to yet more frustration.

But to complain alone is a mistake. To solve a problem, we must not stop at pointing it out. Rather, we should offer a solution and work on it. Thus the following is a humble attempt at offering such a solution, based on the advice found within the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The future of the Ummah? [Source: dlemieux]

Continue reading