Friday, November 11, 2016

The Trump Presidency: An Opportunity for Reflection and Change

By Qays Arthur

The undoubtedly historic victory of Donald Trump at the polls is certainly, if nothing else, worthy of reflection. There are many important lessons to be had from this most unusual campaign and election. 

Here are a few that stand out to me as an outsider.

It must be said that the campaign was horrendous involving, as it did, apparently unprecedented levels of slander and vitriol. At least one significant social commentator has taken the Trump win as an opportunity to soul search saying that such depravity and the hate, fear, and suspicion it engendered should at all costs be avoided in the future. That sentiment certainly has merit from a Muslim perspective. Every setback, loss, or slip should provide the believer with an opportunity for introspection and, where appropriate, repentance - which is always a good idea.

It may also be true that in this victory there is an indicator of the force (for better or worse) of authenticity. Politicians, as this campaign has made painfully clear, are hardly towering examples of moral rectitude. Yet there is something to be said, in retrospect, about the American voter’s decision to elect someone who was not perceived as being pretentious or deceptive, even if only with respect to his rhetoric, views, and disposition.

That is about as much as I can muster concerning positive moral lessons in this affair – unfortunately there wasn’t much to go on.

As regards the intersection of politics and morality, I have pointed out before that Muslims in the US, and indeed elsewhere, have for too long been content with an alliance of convenience with the political and intellectual left despite the glaring and unconscionable moral compromises entailed thereby.

That alliance is sustained by a fear-based conventional wisdom that says Muslims, as a vulnerable minority, have no choice but to ally themselves with socially progressive yet morally permissive political and intellectual forces in order to avoid harm at the hands of a powerful “racist”, intolerant, white majority. That approach might be expedient but it is not the way of taqwa which would require instead that legal and social means be sought to preserve and express the values of the community, in addition to preserving its safety, as permitted by the constitution and relevant laws.

Now this turn of events, completely unforeseen by those political and intellectual forces, undermines that morally flawed, fear-based conventional wisdom. The academics and pollsters (especially the progressive yet permissive ones) were all just as wrong regarding their political calculus as they are with their moral calculus and the Muslims are right there with them – vulnerable and exposed.

The fact is that America is not the same today as it was in years past. It is no longer simply a “white” nation with an “other” underclass such that the fear-based calculus of race and class politics remains potent in the same ways as before. The fact that race and gender were not particularly significant in getting Trump into office, despite obvious efforts on the part of the political and media establishments to play on them, may indicate not only that current methods of measuring public opinion are inadequate but also that the public response to political and media stimuli has changed in significant ways.

Could it be that the Democrats (especially) and Republicans have left the nation so broken and divided that they are now confronted by a groundswell of frustration-inspired, populist, anti-establishment sentiment that threatens them and republic’s existing political assumptions?

If that is the case then the Republican party is certainly doing better, emerging politically stronger after the election despite its divisions. That may well be because they, at least in part, grudgingly accommodated that groundswell of subversive ideas manifested in the Tea-Party then the Trump “movements” which, in retrospect, were very early warning signs of the outcome the nation faces today.

And the Democrats too, with their now forgotten Sanders movement, had their own early warning sign. But that movement was anything but accommodated by the party. Perhaps snuffing out the Sanders movement in such a manner was a fatal blunder that, along with other signs like what I would call the Malik Obama effect, were ignored ultimately leading to previous Obama strongholds contributing to the dramatic triumph of Trump.

Whatever the details are, Trump’s victory is not a minor matter nor is it a temporary setback for the political and media establishments.

This is a watershed moment and it may also be a judgment from God against the morally flawed conventional political wisdom relied upon by American Muslims for their political engagement up to this point.

Things have changed and right now America, for the first time, has a president who is an ill-tempered, crude, outsider with no government experience at all. But he is also a president who has refused the assistance of pro-Israel lobbies, has pledged to be neutral on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, has called for an investigation into why polls indicate hatred on the part of Muslims toward Americans (he did that when he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the country – see paragraph five), and yet has virtually single-handedly taken on the American political and media establishments and prevailed.

American Muslims could therefore take this development as either a catastrophe of apocalyptic dimensions or as an opportunity of similar magnitude. Either way, swift, responsive leadership and positive action will be required.
So insha Allah khayr will come out of it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

7 Blessed and Beneficial Fruits from the Sunnah


By Moulana Haroon Abasoomer (Allah protect him) (Source: al-miftah.com)

Allah, Most High, has repeatedly made reference to the gift of fruit in the Holy Quran.
In one verse Allah, Most High, says:
“Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and we produce therewith fruits of various colours.” (Surah Fatir: 87)
Elsewhere Allah, Most High, says:
“and He sent down rain from the sky and brought forth fruits as provision for you.” (Surah Baqarah: 22)

Gratitude for all Bounties

Fruits and vegetables are great bounties of Allah, Most High, upon the creation. Some provide nourishment and others are a source of satisfaction and refreshment. As Muslims, we have been taught in the Quran and Hadith to be thankful to Allah, Most High, our Sole Sustainer, for every minute bounty of His. It is only becoming of a true believer that he remembers his creator during times of enjoyment and happiness just as he turns to Almighty Allah in the times of difficulty and distress.
The practice of Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) at the time of receiving the first fruit of the season was that he would firstly show the utmost respect for it, he would then recite a supplication to Allah, Most High. Thereafter he would not partake of it himself; instead he would give it to any child that was present.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (Allah be well pleased with him), Sayyiduna ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be well pleased with them both), Sayyiduna Anas (Allah be well pleased with him) and Sayyidatuna Aishah (Allah be well pleased with her) have all reported that when the first fruit of the season used to be brought to Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) he would kiss it, touch it to his eyes, recite the following du’a and then give it to the smallest child that was in his presence:
اللهُم كَمَا أَرَيْتَنا أَولَه أَرِنا آخِرَه
“Allahumma kama araytana awwalahu, arina akhirahu”
Translation: O Allah! just as You have shown us the first of it, allow us to see the last of it.
References: These narrations have been recorded by Imams: Abu Dawud in his Kitabul Maraseel, Hadith: 475-476 Ibnus Sunni, Hadith: 280, Tabarani in Al-Mu’jamus Saghir, vol. 2 pg. 11 & in his Kitabud Du’a, Hadith: 2004-2005.
‘Allamah Haithami (Allah grant him mercy) has declared the narration of Al-Mu’jamus Saghir as sahih (authentic).

Explanation

The reason for giving it to the child is either because of the similarity between the two that both are new in the world or because of the extreme joy that a child experiences through this. (Al-Futuhatur Rabbaniyyah, vol. 6 pg. 235-236)
Hafiz ibn ‘Allan (Allah grant him mercy) mentions that the reason for Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) kissing the fruit and touching it to his eyes is because it has been newly created by Almighty Allah. Just as Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to go out in the rain and open his chest (so the rain may touch him) and he would say: “Verily it (the raindrops) have only recently arrived from my Lord!” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2080)
The following Du’a has also been authentically recorded to have been recited by Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) upon sighting the first fruit of the season:
اللهم بَارِكْ لَنَا فِيْ ثمرنا، وبَارِكْ لَنَا فِيْ مدينتنا، وبَارِكْ لَنَا فِيْ صاعنا، و بَارِكْ لَنَا فِيْ مدنا
“Allahumma Bariklana fi thamarina, wa Bariklana fi Madinatina, wa Bariklana fi saw’ina, wa Bariklana fi Muddina”
Translation: O Allah! Grant us Barakah (blessings) in our fruit, grant us Barakah in our town, grant us Barakah in our food that is measured and grant us Barakah in our food that is weighed. (Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1373)
The Sahabah (Allah be well pleased with them) would bring the first produce of their orchards to Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Many people today emulate that in a way by presenting their first produce to their teachers, seniors etc.

Selected Fruits

The following are among the fruits that Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is reported to have consumed in his lifetime:
1. Fresh dates
2. Dry dates
3. Grapes - Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would enjoy grapes.
4. Raisins
5. Pomegranates - Sayyidunna Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be well pleased with them both) is reported to have commented that in each pomegranate there is a seed from Jannah. (Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 5 pg. 45) In fact, the Quran states that pomegranates will be among the fruit of Jannah. (Surah Ar-Rahman: 68)
6. Cucumbers - Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would relish this. He would at times prefer to have it with a bit of salt.
7. Melons - Melons as well as fresh dates are reported to be from the most beloved of fruits to Rasulullah (Allah bless him and grant him peace)
For on the above list refer to Subulul Huda war Rashad (vol. 7 pgs. 204-209).

Conclusion

Each season of the year brings its own fruits. Let’s implement the above Sunnah and turn these bounties of Allah, Most High, into “Blessed Fruits”
Please practice and share.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Mufti's Musings on Dogs



By Mufti Musa Furber (Source: Musa's Muftic Musings)

I would like to provide a very brief summary of the basic rulings related to the purity of dogs, keeping dogs, and keeping dogs inside the house.
There is disagreement concerning the purity of dogs and their saliva. Numerous ḥadīths2mention that if a dog licks from one’s bowl, its contents need to be thrown out and the bowl must be washed seven times with water – using soil in one of the washings. Scholars differ in their understanding of these ḥadīths and other evidence related to this issue, leading to disagreement over whether dogs or their saliva are pure, and whether things touched by dogs need to be cleaned in a particular way. Ḥanafīs consider dogs to be pure, but their slobber filthy. Mālikīs consider dogs and their slobber to be pure. Shāfiʿīs and Ḥanbalīs consider dogs and their slobber to be filthy.3
There is general agreement amongst the scholars that we are discouraged from keeping dogs, and that we should not keep dogs without need to do so. This is due to the many ḥadīths that mention that anyone who keeps a dog will lose rewards for each day he keeps it, unless the dog is for hunting, protecting livestock, or protecting crops. While the scholars agree that it is permissible to acquire dogs for the purposes mentioned in the ḥadīths (hunting, guarding livestock, and guarding crops), they disagree concerning other purposes. Ḥanafīs and Mālikīs tend to consider it offensive to obtain dogs for purposes other than the ones mentioned in the ḥadīths. Shāfiʿīs consider it unlawful to obtain dogs that do not fulfill a need similar to the ones mentioned in the ḥadīths (hunting and protecting). Ḥanbalīs consider it unlawful to obtain a dog unless it can carry out one of the tasks in the ḥadīths mentioned above.4
There is also disagreement concerning the use of household guard dogs. In addition to the ḥadīths regarding purity and loss of rewards, there are also ḥadīths mentioning that angels will not enter houses if there is a dog inside. Commentators mention that the angels that are barred are the ones that bring blessings and mercy, and make forgiveness – not the angels assigned to individuals to record their deeds and to protect them. Ḥanafīs tend to say that one should not get a household guard dog unless out of fear for the safety of one’s life or property. Even then, the dog should not be inside the house. There is a fair amount of disagreement amongst the Mālikīs. The well-known opinion I keep finding is that it is offensive to have them inside the house. Shāfiʿīs tend to permit guard dogs for houses and alley ways – and even if the dog is permissible to keep, it should not be kept inside the house.5
What is clear when reading the various opinions within and across the schools is that no one considers it recommended or merely permissible to have a dog in the house. The most lenient ruling is that it is offensive. Some of the scholars who hold this latter position mention that one will still be subject to loss of rewards, and some angels will be barred from the house. So while there is a case for having a dog that serves a valid purpose – there does not seem to be any case for keeping a dog as a pet just for companionship or pleasure – or its appearance.6
Given all the ḥadīths related to dogs (that keeping one without justification reduces rewards, that their presence in a house bars some angels from entering, that there was an order to kill them that was later reduced out of fear of exterminating the entire species, that jet-black dogs are wicked, the extra provisions required to clean up after them – which suggests that they are filthy), one really needs to be very careful before getting a dog. Contrary to some pieces that have been written in English: those reports related to dogs were not related by a single companion (Allah be pleased with them).
Each of the rulings I mentioned above have additional conditions, constraints, and details. All of those things must be known before obtaining a dog.
And Allah knows best.
NOTES
Dogs today are used for a wide range of tasks not mentioned in our classical books. These tasks include: guide dogs for the blind, security dogs for the police and military, search dogs for humans trapped under rubble, detecting cancer, predicting and warning about seizures, as part of therapy for autism or PTSD, and many others. These tasks are beneficial to muslims. Many of them do not fit cleanly under hunting and guarding. Determining their legal status requires having a clear understanding of the textual evidence and rulings related to dogs, as well as a clear understanding of the contemporary task. And that’s why I have been reading so much about dogs.
  1. The links provided for this and the other ḥadīths enable even a semi-curious English reader to verify that the reports are each narrated from the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) by three or more companions (Allah be pleased with them all), putting them within the category of well-known (mashhūr or mustafīḍ). All of them are considered rigorously authenticated (ṣaḥīḥ). These reports cannot be waved away with the claim that they are singular (aḥād) or spurious fabrications (mawḍūʿah). If you’re going to dismiss them, at least identify where the chain broke or which one of them lied – you can’t just affirm or deny a specific ḥadīth based on surmise or it being inconvenient. One of the characteristics of Islamic legal scholarship is to use all the evidence that is available, as captured in the maxim that application of an evidence is superior to its abandonment (al-iʿmāl afḍal min al-ihmāl).
  2. Al-Kasānī, Badāʾiʿ al-Ṣanāʾiʿ, 1:63; Ibn ʿĀbidīn, Ḥashiyat ʿalā Al-Durr al-Mukhtār, 1:208; Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Al-Tamhīd, 18:296–270; al-Ṣāwī, Al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīr, 1:43–44; al-Anṣārī, Asnā al-Maṭālib, 1:10; al-Shirbīnī, Mughnī al-Muḥtāj, 1:226–7; al-Bahūtī, Kashshāf al-Qināʿ, 1:181; Ibn Daqīq al-ʿEid, Aḥkām al-Aḥkām, 1:75–76; al-ʿIrāqī, Ṭarḥ al-Tathrīb,2:120–121.
  3. Kamāl ibn Humām, Fatḥ al-Qadīr, 7:118; Ṣāliḥ ʿAbd al-Samīʿ, Al-Thamr al-Dānī, 714; Al-Fawākih al-Dawānī ʿalā Risālah Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qīrwānī,2:344; Sharḥ al-Talqīn, 2:429; al-Juwaynī, Nihāyat al-Maṭlab, 5:493; al-Nawawī, Sharḥ Ṣaḥīh Muslim, 3:186, 10:236; al-Anṣārī, Asnā al-Maṭālib,2:9; al-Shirbīnī, Mughnī al-Muḥtāj, 3:284; Ibn Qudāmah, Al-Mughnī,4:191–192; al-Bahūtī, Kashshāf al-Qināʿ, 3:154; Ibn Mufliḥ, Al-Ādāb al-Sharʿiyyah, 3:226.
  4. Kamāl ibn Humām, Fatḥ al-Qadīr, 7:118; Ṣāliḥ ʿAbd al-Samīʿ, Al-Thamr al-Dānī, 714; Al-Fawākih al-Dawānī ʿalā Risālah Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qīrwānī,2:344; Sharḥ al-Talqīn, 2:429; al-Juwaynī, Nihāyat al-Maṭlab, 5:493; al-Nawawī, Sharḥ Ṣaḥīh Muslim, 3:186, 10:236; al-Anṣārī, Asnā al-Maṭālib,2:9; al-Shirbīnī, Mughnī al-Muḥtāj, 3:284; Ibn Qudāmah, Al-Mughnī,4:191–192; al-Bahūtī, Kashshāf al-Qināʿ, 3:154; Ibn Mufliḥ, Al-Ādāb al-Sharʿiyyah, 3:226.
  5. Al-Juwaynī, Nihāyat al-Maṭlab, 5:493; al-Nawawī, Sharḥ Ṣaḥīh Muslim,3:186.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Near to Layla


By Qays Arthur

Two murids of Imam Abul Hassan were walking behind the Imam's camel in the shade provided by the canopy of his carriage.
One said to the other, "Oh so and so I've noticed that such and such person treats you badly yet you are most excellent in conduct towards him."
He replied, "He is from my land so I say what the poet does..." He then recited some verses of poetry where Majnun sees a dog in the desert and treats it with reverence and doting affection such that the people blame and criticize him. In response to them Majnun exclaims:
"Quit the condemnation for indeed my eye did see it once near to Layla!"
Upon hearing that line the Imam leaned his head out of the carriage and asked the student to repeat it which he did. The Imam started swaying in the carriage saying, "So he said, 'Quit the condemnation for indeed my eye did see it once near to Layla!'" repeating it over and over.
Then he threw a head scarf, amber in colour, to the student and said to him, "Take this and wear it for it befits you more than me. Allah reward you well, son, for your fine commitment."
From notes on a reading of Duratul Asrar wa Tuhfatul Abrar on the life and times Imam Abul Hasan Al-Shadhili by Ibn Sabagh (Allah be pleased with them).

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Nurturing Love in Marriage is Essential


By HaqqSeeker (Source: MuslimVillage)

The bond connecting spouses can be said to be made up of numerous threads, each thread representing a human virtue. These threads are woven together to form a bond between the spouses that keeps them together through the years.
It is very essential not only to keep that bond everlasting but to make every effort to strengthen it as well. The success of a marriage is based on the strength of this bond. The biggest mistake that couples make is to take their bond for granted, assuming that their connection will stay strong because they love each other or with the passing of the time they will get more attached to each other. But they don't have an ‘intentional strategy’ to maintain the strength of their union.
It may be said that there are five principal threads of human virtue that we have to work on very hard to keep the marriage robust and fiery. First and the foremost among these threads is love. A pleasant surprise is that the initials of the four subsequent threads that greatly help to keep the marriage thrive come together to form the word LOVE. They are: Loyalty, Openness, Variety, and Endurance. There are many other threads also that further strengthen the bond but these can be seen as the most fundamental.
Let us now examine each of these five threads.
LoveOne of the greatest bounties that Allāh, with his infinite mercy, has presented to us is loveThough the word love is very easy on our tongue, it has tremendous significance in our life.
Literally, the word ‘love’ means a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion and affection. Love is also a feeling of complete bliss and peace, a source of immense pleasure and the most beautiful thing that cannot be seen or even heard yet it has such soothing powers that it cannot only warm our hearts but can also take us to a different world altogether.
Just imagine what life would have been like if love were absent from this earth. The aridity, the boredom, the discord, the hostility and the weariness would have been enough to take us close to our death even before its time.
Love has a very unique and lofty position in a marriage and its presence in our married life is totally indispensable. Islam also has given great prominence to love between spouses as can be seen in the extract given below taken from ‘The Bond of Holy Love’ by Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai:
Even lifting a morsel of food to the mouth of the wife has been given the significance of ‘ibādat(worship). It is an act of love by which the husband derives thawāb (reward in the Hereafter).

It was part of the Uswāh Hasanāh (Noble and beautiful Character) of Rasulullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam to engage in light-hearted talk with his wives. Hadhrat Abu Hurāirah (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) said:

“Allah loves a man who caresses his wife. Both of them are awarded thawāb because of this loving attitude and their rizq (worldly provision and earning) is increased.”
Loyalty: The importance of loyalty in a blissful marriage cannot be overemphasized. Where there is true love between spouses, loyalty can easily find its way. However, the standard of loyalty should be such that you are always confident that come what may your spouse will never betray you and vice versa.
In the modern times, and especially after the advent of the social networks, interacting with members of the opposite sex has become very common. People tend to connect with their ‘exes’ and also with other ghair-mahram persons without any restraint. We have to be aware that such actions constitute a breach of loyalty towards our spouses.
The virtue of loyalty also includes seeking to create a space of comfort and security in your relationships, making your spouse feel loved and cared for, lending a hand to your spouse,trying to remember all that your spouse has done and is doing for you. At times we tend to take for granted the repeated acts and services our spouses are providing to us to make our life easy and comfortable.
Being loyal to your spouse also means treasuring the beautiful moments you have spent with your spouse and looking forward to a more dazzling future life, with sincere optimism that insha Allāh you will come even closer to each other.
Openness: This is an important factor and there is no compromise regarding it. Keep communication lines open between the two of you. Don’t keep secrets and try your best to let each other know about the innermost feelings and sentiments. If something is bothering you, let your spouse know about it. If you have questions, ask your spouse in a calm and pleasant manner. Don’t be too inquisitive like you are making an interrogation based on unfounded suspicions. Just be honest and sincere about your thoughts and encourage your spouse to do the same.
Variety: Monotony in life can at times be very frustrating. That is why we have to spice our life with variety. Variety keeps boredom at bay. Someone once said, “Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.” If love keeps the marriage alive then variety keeps it lively. For this reason, we should not neglect the process of trying new ideas to keep the marriage flourishing. The wife has to use her ingenuity to introduce new dishes in her menu. She should also see that she avoids repetitiveness in the way she dresses up and gets ready to receive her husband when he comes back from work. The husband in turn should reciprocate by greeting her in a novel way every time he returns home. Also, bringing an occasional gift can work wonders.
Your spouse should not become accustomed to seeing one monotonously repetitive site: you being totally engrossed in your smartphone. When your spouse is with you see that you take a temporary ‘separation’ from your smartphone. No matter how much you are attached to your smartphone you have to give top priority to your spouse.
Endurance: The Islamic term for endurance is ‘Sabr’. Sabr is undoubtedly one of the most useful qualities for a blissful married life. Most people who get married have high expectations about their spouses and about the life after marriage. As soon as the honeymoon is over and the realities of the life catch up with them they realise it is not all the bed of roses they had anticipated. Some very unpleasant and uncompromising traits in a spouse can make life for both parties uneasy or unpleasant. Then there are some marriages wherein the in-laws make life difficult for the newly wedded ladies. It is very important at this juncture that both of you must have time to sit together and try to work out ways to resolve your issues. You must encourage each other to have patience and try to work things out calmly. Also, when the husband loses his temper the wife should try to restrain herself and likewise when she flares up he should try to remain calm and composed.
We have all had moments when we wished our spouse was thinner, wealthier, more romantic, and so on. Take a look at your expectations and ask yourself how realistic they are. Unrealistic expectations lead to chronic frustration, which is one of the main reasons marriages fail. Rather than simmering in such expectations, observe your spouse closely to appreciate qualities that are unique to him or her that you might have overlooked.
This is also the time when the virtue of Sabr becomes very helpful. There are many verses in Qur’ān and numerous ahādith that stress the importance of adopting the noble quality of Sabr. Being patient and forbearing brings us closer to Allāh and with His Grace He rewards us by developing in us previously unattainable heights of insight which empowers us to handle life's difficult moments.
Remember, every difficult moment in our life is like an oyster and there is a precious pearl lying hidden in it.
The Strongest Thread
The thread that makes your bond the strongest has only been addressed briefly in the forgoing. Can you guess which one it is?
It is your connection with Allāh Mighty and Majestic!
To establish this connection, you have to have the noble qualities of taqwā (piety and fear of Allāh) and tawakkul (reliance on Him) in you.
Be abundant in du’ā (supplication) asking Him to bless your marriage, to keep your marriage safe from every calamity - whether big or small, and to make it easy for you and your spouse to follow the mubārak (blessed) Sunnāh of the Prophet (Nabi) Muhammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).
In conclusion here are two points of advice, for those who wish to embark on the journaey of marriage, that will facilitate all of the forgoing insha Allāh:
  • The Spouse: Choose a spouse who has Taqwā (piety and fear of Allāh). To have such a spouse you have got to develop this quality in you. It is then that Allah will open ways for you to have such a spouse.
  • The Wedding: Do you want blessings and barakāh to be showered in your marriage? Do you want to have true love between you and your spouse flourishing throughout your married life? It is very easy and the least expensive: have the wedding the Sunnāh way! If you have a lavish wedding where commands of Allāh are violated openly and without any reservations and where the Sunnāh of His Beloved Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is nothing more than mere ‘window dressing’ then there is no guarantee whatsoever that your marriage will last long and if it does then it will be void of the barakāh and the blessings.
And Allāh Most High Knows Best.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Abrahamic Morality in America


By Qays Arthur

“Say: ‘Come, I will recite unto you that which your Lord hath made a sacred duty for you: That ye ascribe no thing as partner unto Him and that ye do good to parents, and that ye slay not your children because of penury - We provide for you and for them - and that ye draw not nigh to lewd things whether open or concealed. And that ye slay not the life which Allah hath made sacred, save in the course of justice. This He hath command you, in order that ye may discern.” (Quran 6:151)
Since last week’s massacre in Orlando the internet and public discourse in general have been awash in all sorts of arguments and discussions, of varying degrees of relevance, about counter terrorism, gun control, increased powers for security agencies, and “Mawzlems” who visit terror “hot spots” (i.e. countries of origin or of religious significance). Within the embattled and increasingly visible Muslim community some seemed more disturbed about the prospect of a “backlash” than anything else. Others looked at foreign policy issues while yet others, for some bizarre reason, sought to “shed light” on abstruse details of Islamic legal theory from medieval legal texts such as the distinction between discretionary versus textually stipulated capital punishments.
Yet what caught my attention amidst the deluge of mandatory condemnations and expressions of outrage was the tone and overall message from prominent sections of the American Muslim community, both advocacy and religious groupings.
What I observed from the statements of many if not most Muslim leaders who are in the public sphere was a demonstration of just how “mainstream” the rhetoric of the Muslim community's leadership appears to be. Particularly worrying was one message that mentioned “Abrahamic morality” though not so much, it seems, by way of unambiguously affirming it and demonstrating how the massacre was a profound betrayal of it, as by way of advocating and indeed normalizing its subordination to some other kind of morality ostensibly based on “diversity”, “social justice”, and other doctrines held dear by the American political left and that are apparently, as if by default, “Islamic”. And that was the religious groupings, indeed some Muslim advocacy groups went a step further and actually declared themselves to be standing “shoulder to shoulder” in solidarity with, what I understand are now called, LGBTQ2 groupings.
That posture, if I've apprehended it correctly, is undoubtedly the result of decades of leadership which have seen the Muslim community become more and more committed to the political left in that nation. Whatever the causes of that relationship may be, its apparent cost is unfortunate and unsettling particularly as it relates to the religious leadership. I say that because the massacre in Orlando, where it is absolutely clear that homosexuals were the target and almost as clear that the perpetrator was one himself, most certainly demonstrates, if nothing else, a profound moral failing not only on the part of the shooter but of the society itself. This mass murder, said to be the biggest in recent memory, has, after all, come on the heels, in historical terms, of the Obergefell v. Hodges case, a landmark triumph of advocacy and social experimentation which remains as emblematic of America’s deep moral confusion as it is of the inevitable political and social divides that must result from such confusion.
Were the crime perpetrated by a member of another, perhaps more indigenous, faith the terrorism “angle” would conceivably have been much less prominent likely in favor of an “America divided” one. While I can’t say that with certainty it does seem plausible. As it stands many media and even so-called global intelligence outlets, representative of America’s political right, are going to ridiculous lengths to cast ‘Umra trips and Facebook rants as “evidence” of the “radicalization” of a man who was actually investigated and cleared by the FBI, a professional organization that obviously gets far more things right than wrong about America’s security.
When one contrasts the right’s attempts to externalize Orlando as an attack from without with the left’s attempts to reduce it to violations of their own sacred moral and political doctrines, like diversity and inclusion (with the Muslim community firmly in tow), the true significance of the crime and its social impact emerge.
The Orlando Massacre and the incoherent, often bitter, and divisive wrangling that it has amplified are alarming signals that America is under threat and in danger though not nearly so much from ISIS or the proliferation of guns as from its own moral confusion and crippling political divisions.
To the extent that that is true, the very last thing America needs from its Muslims is the kind of timidity that results in representing one side of America’s polarized political discourse as the correct and truly American (and “Islamic”) side despite many of that side's values being in opposition to Abrahamic morality, so clearly spelled out in the verse quoted above, which is rooted in uncompromising monotheism and values such as decency, chastity and the integrity of the family. Such a stance would not only perpetuate America's moral confusion and political divisions but would also be profoundly unprincipled.
I should thus implore American Muslim leaders to not advocate to their fellow Americans, as it seems they may be unwittingly doing, that Abrahamic morality is merely a choice, even for Muslims. That is already fact in America today. It is the status quo that doesn't need advocacy. I should instead implore those leaders to advocate, by all lawful means, and with other like-minded citizens, that Abrahamic morality is a moral imperative which when compromised or abandoned, as it was by the perpetrator of the Orlando Massacre, can have appalling consequences.
And for those Americans who may be wondering what locus standi have I to thus implore them I would hasten to point out that the outcomes of America's internal moral, social, and legal debates do find, at times, unfavorable expression in the social, and legal affairs of other nations. I would also point out that as a Muslim I have a duty to assist my brethren when it seems they are erring. And so I am duty bound to remind my brothers in faith of the imperative to serve the morality of Abraham (peace be upon him) above any other, however dated, un-trendy, or politically inexpedient it may appear at any given moment in history. For that morality is part of the raison d'etre for the Umma in whole and in part, wherever it may be, whether in America or anywhere else.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How Gadgets Can Affect Children's Attention Span


By Lisa Rapaport
(Reuters Health) - Parents who turn to smartphones and tablets to break up the tedium of caring for an infant around the clock may be teaching their babies to have a short attention span, a small study suggests.
That’s because when parents stop focusing on playtime with their baby to concentrate on other things like tiny screens, their infants may mimic this behavior by also focusing on toys and other objects for shorter periods of time.
In other words, babies learn to focus better when their parents aren’t distracted, said lead study author Chen Yu, a brain science researcher at Indiana University at Bloomington.
“If parents join a child’s attention on a toy object, children are more likely to show longer attention on the target object compared with cases that parents don’t show any attention or interest,” Yu said by email.
This works best when parents follow their baby’s lead, Yu added.
“If parents try to lead by getting the child’s attention on the object of the parent’s interest, this effort may not be successful,” Yu said. “But if parents just follow the child’s attention/interest it is easier to be in joint attention with their child.”
To understand how parental distraction influences babies’ attention spans, Yu and colleagues outfitted 36 infant-parent pairs with head-mounted gadgets that tracked their eye movements to measure how long they focused on different objects.
The babies were around 11 to 13 months old.
Researchers put parents and babies in a room with several engaging toys and then sat back to see what happened when the parents didn’t get any instruction on how to interact with their kids.
Generally, care givers fell into two groups: those who let infants direct the course of play and those who tried to guide babies toward specific toys.
When parents looked where their kids did, they typically both paid attention to the same object for more than 3.6 seconds. Then, the infant’s attention lingered on the same object for another 2.3 seconds after their parent turned away.
While that may not seem like much time, the babies whose parents followed their lead focused on objects for about four times longer than did infants whose care givers’ were quickly distracted.
Babies whose parents made little effort to focus on what their kids were playing with during the study had even shorter attention spans than the children whose parents focused briefly before looking away.
Beyond its small size, other limitations of the study include the lack of information on other parent and caregiver behaviors that may shape children's attention spans, the authors note in the journal Current Biology.
Talking about toys during playtime and reading stories about toys, for example, may increase young children's interest in these toys and help them focus on these objects for longer periods of time, they write.
The paper also didn't address how a parent's own history of attention deficit or hyperactivity disorders might influence the way their children learn to focus on objects.
The study only looks at how well children follow what their parents look at second by second, and not at every way that kids mimic the focus they see in care givers, noted Dr. Sam Wass, a researcher at the University of East London and the University of Cambridge in the U.K. who wasn't involved in the study.
"This paper isn't looking at attention span per se," Wass said by email. "Rather, it is about how second-by-second changes in a parent's attention influence a child's attention. So if I choose to pay attention to nice things, my baby is more likely to pay attention to them too."
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1OeDEBD Current Biology, online April 28, 2016.