In the next few days, wait for an in-depth post about my dealings with the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. As a mainstream, moderate Muslim, I have found them to be anything BUT a sisterhood. The truth shall be revealed. They are linked to Israeli zionist organizations that work hard to “educate” Muslims about who are the real perpetrators in Palestine (spoiler alert: they blame the Palestinians).
So, stay tuned! It’s going to be a doozy!
We hear this term a lot, “Progressive” Muslim. These days, it really seems to be quite the buzz word on social media, with Muslims eagerly describing themselves as being “progressive,” or “liberal,” and now, apparently, “inclusive.”
“Inclusive” Muslim is a new term to me. I had to Google it to see what, exactly, is an “inclusive” Muslim. I wish to first start by talking about what a “progressive” Muslim is, and then I will segue into this new (and very confusing) term, “inclusive.”
I’ll start with providing some background information on me, to give everyone an idea of where I am coming from. I am a moderate, mainstream Sunni Muslim, with love and respect for Sufism. I typically follow the Hanafi madhab (Islamic school of thought), and equally respect the (minor) differences of the other madhabs. I see none as being superior to the others, and feel that when it comes to fiqh (jurisprudence, generally handled by the interpretations of scholars who follow particular madhabs), it’s really up to the individual which one best suits them.
One important thing to note: the core teachings of Islam do not differ among the four Sunni schools of thought. Also, as I am Sunni, I cannot, nor will I attempt, to speak for the Shia schools of thought. I would assume, though, that they must be very similar to the Sunni madhabs, with very little differences among them.
I also do not view Sunni Islam as being superior to Shia Islam. I have Shia friends, and I love and respect them as my equals (because they are my equals). To view anyone as being inferior, would actually be counter to the teachings of Islam. Similarly, to think one’s self as being superior to anyone, is against Islam. Only Allah knows who is better than whom, and it’s really not our place at all to even try to guess.
I think that I am a fairly open-minded individual. I don’t judge people based on how they live their lives, and I am teaching my children to love and respect all, without exception. Personal beliefs, lifestyles, practices, etc, are not what makes a person good or bad. I try to look at all for what’s inside them. Do they have a good heart? Then they are a good person.
Now, with a bit of information about my own beliefs, let’s take a good, hard look at these “progressive” Muslims.
“Progressive” Muslims are those who feel that they are somehow more “enlightened” than moderate, mainstream Muslims. They see themselves as being more “integrated” and “accepted” into society at large (however, what what cost, I am not sure). Alternatively, they see Muslims like me, as being “regressive,” “backwards,” “old fashioned,” and blame us for all that is wrong in the world today. We are singlehandedly responsible for Islamophobia, mainly because we “refuse” to “integrate.”
Whatever I have to say here, is based on my own interactions with such individuals, both in person, and online. Surprisingly, I have found interactions in person to be more aggressive than online. I have been told to my face that my headscarf serves as a barrier, and that as long as I “insist” on wearing it, no non-Muslim will ever wish to befriend me (which is incorrect, I might add, as I have made many friends with non-muslims through the years!). I’ve even been told that celebrating Christmas will make my Christian neighbors love me (not celebrating will apparently make them hate me).
I really do have to laugh at this one, as I am a revert (convert) from Christianity, and I remember seeing non-Christians trying to act and look like Christians. People just laughed at them, and saw them as cultural and religious sell-outs. I never saw anyone “accepting” or “loving” them because they had muddled their religious customs with those of Christianity.
“Progressive” Muslims are extremists, on the opposite end of the scale from Wahabbis. Due to this, a lot of non-Muslims mistakenly believe that “Progressives” are the “right kind” of Muslims for them to befriend. They don’t do a lot of things that make them feel “uncomfortable,” and some are even willing to imbibe in an alcoholic beverage. There are even “progressive” Muslims who will very proudly advertise who they voted for, hoping that will save them the discrimination and lynch mobs later (it doesn’t, of course).
So, why are they called “progressive” Muslims? Well, that would be because they feel that they have “progressed,” they are “modern,” “up-to-date,” etc. Anything that seems to “archaic” about Islam, they simply throw it out. Don’t want to fast? “Progressives” say you don’t have to! Don’t want to pray? “Progressives” say it’s not necessary!
I would like to point out that you cannot tell that someone is “progressive” by their manner of clothing. The fact that “progressive” women reject hijab does not mean that all Muslim women who choose not to cover are “progressive.” In fact, I can give examples of women who follow Islam exactly to the letter, and yet, they do not cover. Go to the Indian subcontinent, visit Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and you will see thousands of Muslim women who don’t cover, but are not “progressive” in their interpretation and implementation of Islam. Quite simply put, hijab (head covering) does not an “orthodox” Muslim make.
Now, on to this new term, “inclusive” Muslim. What is this, exactly? Well, it’s just a “progressive,” but they are trying on a new look, so to speak. They are attempting to repackage themselves, by claiming that they are the ones who accept all, reject none, include all (that is, all except for mainstream Muslims like myself). They are now also using a term, “self-identifying Muslim” (I also had to look this one up).
What is a “self-identifying” Muslim? On the surface, you’d think that would be any Muslim, as Islam doesn’t require any sort of public declaration or ceremony in order to be considered Muslim. Literally, all it takes is someone saying, “I’m a Muslim,” and the whole community will consider them Muslim. So, why coin a term that makes no sense at all, in the traditional sense?
A “self-identifying” Muslims is (apparently) someone who tells people that they are a Muslim, despite whether or not that is true. Now, go back and re-read the previous paragraph. As long as someone says they are Muslim, the tradition goes that they are to be considered Muslim. No one is allowed to question, and certainly no one can declare them to not be Muslim (this is called “takfir,” which is a favorite pastime of the Wahabbis). Again, why the need to call one’s self a “self-identifying” Muslim, if Islam is quite clear about what makes a person a Muslim (they said they are Muslim, therefor, they are Muslim).
(I’m starting the third paragraph on this strange term, and I don’t know if I’m, any closer to an explanation)
They use this term as a means of saying that they are “inclusive” of all walks of life, no matter what religion they really practice. In other words, they don’t ask (for the record, mainstream Muslims don’t ask, either!), they don’t tell. A ‘self-identifying” Muslim can literally do whatever they want in the masjid (mosque), or wherever it is that they gather for worship (or not!). They don’t have to pray, they don’t have to make wudhu (ablution performed before prayer), they don’t have to cover their hair while praying (if they are a woman, and if they actually pray). In short, they don’t have to do any of the things that Muslims typically do in their day to day life. They “self-identify” and that’s that.
Sort of reminds me of the term “spiritual Muslim,” that was being used by some members of the African-American community some years ago, but this seems to be different. “Spiritual Muslim” was a term being used by people who were trying to figure out their spiritual background. They may have discovered that some of their ancestors had been Muslims, and they were feeling a longing to reconnect with something that was stolen from their ancestors (complements of the ignorant slave traders). Men were even growing what came to be known as a “Sunnah beard,” and I even had pregnant ladies asking me to suggest Arabic names for their babies.
While the “spiritual” Muslim movement is clearly an attempt to regain stolen traditions, this “self-identifying” Muslim phenomenon just seems more and more confusing, the more I try to understand it. Perhaps that’s the whole point…
(For anyone who is interested in seeing a side-by-side comparison of women’s rights in Christianity vs Islam, check out this cool little slideshow: http://www.slideshare.net/wadsan/women-in-islam-and-christianity-a-comparison)
I’m not anyone special. I don’t do anything special, or say anything special. I don’t have a following on Facebook or Twitter, and I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one who’s really interested in my blog.
Nothing about me really stands out and tells people that I’m special, and therefor, deserving of special treatment. Googling my name comes back with some pretty boring stuff (mostly origami videos on YouTube, and odd comments I’ve made here or there).
For the most part, I’m okay with being a simple nobody. I don’t want to have internet fame, or any other kind of fame. Let those who want it, have it, I say. What I do want, however, is to be shown the basic respect that everyone (special or not) deserves.
For many years, I’ve noticed that, had I been someone special, people would have treated me much differently. I wouldn’t have to necessarily be intelligent, or anything, just deemed special by enough people to have a big following. If I had more than a thousand followers on Twitter, or a few hundred on Facebook, suddenly, I’d be special. People would treat me differently. They wouldn’t argue with me as much, for example. They’d be trying to win my approval, as if it mattered.
Adab, or good manners, is something that is extremely important in Islam, but most Muslims lack it. Adab means that we should treat all with respect, regardless of their Twitter-ness. We cannot just pick and choose who is worthy of being respected. It’s not based on popularity or coolness. It’s a basic human right.
I’ve been blasted by keyboard warriors so many times that I’ve lost count. And every time that it happened, I thought to myself, “if I were someone special, would they have treated me like that?” The answer I always come back with is, “most likely not.” I’ve also been mistreated by people in halal restaurants, stores, even in the masjid. All because I wasn’t someone that the deemed special or important. I’m a nobody to them, and not deserving of kind treatment.
If I had internet presence, and was amazingly good at self-promoting every single, mundane thing that I do, and had managed to get my face and name recognized, I am sure that I would be treated very differently by most who encounter me.
My whole point is this, and I’ll repeat what I’ve already said about not wanting fame: I don’t want a following, or a band of groupies, or whatever. I’m not saying that is something that I desire to achieve. What I am saying is that we should all be treated with kindness and respect. And we should all be treating each other with respect.
Stop writing people off as unimportant or not worthy of kind regard.
You may not see them as special, but I am sure that somewhere, someone does. I’m pretty certain that my family thinks I’m special. My husband thinks that I’m a good cook, and artistic. My kids think I’m silly and cool. I may not be famous, but that doesn’t make me worthy or being looked over, again and again.
Three young adult Muslims were brutally murdered, shot in the head, execution style, in Chapel Hill, NC, a couple of days ago. The man accused has confessed to the murders, claiming that it was over a parking dispute (as if that justifies it). His wife has said that it had nothing to do with the victims’ religion, despite the fact that his Facebook page is full of anti-theist and Islamophobic rhetoric. She has gone as far as to say that the three victims (Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha) were simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I am deeply troubled by this statement, because many will perhaps agree with her. It wasn’t her husband’s fault that he murdered them. It was their fault entirely. Incidentally, the “wrong place” was their house, where he murdered them in cold blood.
Islamophobia is at an all-time high. News agencies, such as Fox News (the term “news” is applied rather loosely here, as I am sure that many will agree that Fox is anything but real news), have done nothing but fuel the fires of religious hatred and intolerance. Their news anchors have even made statements on air that, had they been about any group other that Muslims, they would have been told to retract these statements. People might have even lost their jobs over it, had the target not been Muslims. Islamophobia has given Fox (and others, like CNN and MSNBC) the green light to pretty much say or do whatever they want, with regards to Muslims.
Yesterday, as I was still reeling from the awful, sad news of the deaths of these three, beautiful, gentle young people, I had a thought: If they only knew us. I mean, really knew us. We aren’t really that much different from everyone else.
I can give my own life as an example to how similar it is to that of my non-Muslim neighbors. I am your typical stay-at-home-mom, with typical SAHM issues. I have a pile of laundry that threatens to attack me when I walk into the laundry room. My house is littered in toys and clothes, as if some strange cyclone started at Target, and ended right in my living room floor. My kids watch toxic amounts of TV, and every time I turn around, they are telling me about some app that their dear Disney Jr has told them to download (with a parent’s permission, of course). Certain foods are cause for great, massive meltdowns at the dining table, and junk food is always welcomed with rabid relish.
The fact that I pray five times a day, fast in Ramadhan, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat pork, and try my best to live my life in accordance to the teachings of my religion, should not make me “foreign” or “different” from my neighbors and fellow countrymen. I don’t walk around my neighborhood, handing out pamphlets on how everyone is going to Hell, unless they start believing in exactly the same things that I do. I don’t condemn people for how they dress, or drink, or eat. I don’t scowl at people because they are different from me. Rather, I do my very best to meet each person with a smile (I have bad days, too, so maybe I don’t walk around all the time with a smile plastered on my face. Maybe, if you see me in the grocery store, you will instead witness a crazy, unhinged woman, arguing with her kids on why they cannot fill the cart with candy and cookies). I don’t impose my beliefs on others.
I really, truly believe that religion (or lack of religion) is a personal choice. I will raise my own children with the teachings of Islam, showing them what it means to be Muslim, and that each and every living person on this planet deserves respect. I will not, however, start telling random people that they should also be Muslim. It’s their business, not mine. My ultimate favorite verse in the Quran translates to mean, “To you be your way, to me be mine” (لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِىَ دِينِ). To me, that sums it up perfectly, how we should view our relationships with people of different faiths.
If people would take the chance to look past the (small) differences, they would see that we, too, are normal human beings, with all the trappings that come with being human. We love, we hate, we laugh, we cry, we rejoice, we mourn. Also, contrary to popular misbelief, we are quite humorous people. Most of us know how to laugh at ourselves. Sure, we do have crazy fanatics (all ethnic and religious groups have their crazies, believe me!), but they are honestly in the minority (just like they are in other groups).
What has happened here, according to public thought, is that one bad Muslim ruins the barrel. I cannot count how many times have people said to me, “You’re not like other Muslims.” I always end up thinking, “really? How many ‘other Muslims‘ do you know?” Since I, myself, happen to be Muslim, I know a lot of Muslims. And, I know a lot of funny Muslims.
The man who killed those young people is clearly someone who has never taken the time to get to know any Muslims. Had he known Deah, Yusor, and Razan, he would have known that they were three beautiful and bright souls. They were not the sort of people that have been portrayed on the news, and in movies. They were kind, and generous, and helped their fellow man, regardless of their faith. Perhaps he would have even grown to like them, seeing past that which “offended” him so greatly.
How they were choosing to live their lives, in service to others, is what is referred to as “stewardship” in Christianity. It’s a deeply rooted concept in Islam, as well, and we are encouraged to help others, be they Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, atheist, etc. The Quran refers to “mankind” (insan, in Arabic), and we are constantly told how we are to treat mankind. We are not told just how to treat our fellow Muslims. We must treat all of mankind with care, compassion, kindness, and respect.
If they only knew.
Inna lilahi wa inna illayhi rajeeon wa la hawla wa la quwatta illa billah! (To God we belong, and to God we shall return, and there is no power or might except in God!)
May Allah grant Deah, Yusor, and Razan the highest level of Jannatul Firdaous (heaven), and may He give comfort and ease to their grieving family. Ameen.
Asalaamu Alaikam! Ramadhan will be on us very soon, inshAllah (less than two weeks!), so I am sharing some pages that I printed from an Islamic school workbook that are specific to fasting and Ramadhan. Share and enjoy!
Responding to the Crisis | Teaser Trailer | Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi | January 2013:
A unique chance to be part of an amazing fundraising tour by the noble Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi in 2013 . Attend and invite others to help our oppressed brothers and sisters in the blessed land of Shaam ash-Sharif! The dates and venues are yet to be confirmed Inshah’Allah!