Thursday, 2 April 2015

“Khadija is my role model."

Throughout the Muslim world commemorating the death of Khaddija bint Khwalid is a day of reflection marked by recalling her greatness. She was the first wife of Mohammad, the first woman to convert to Islam and regarded by Muslims as ‘the mother of the believers i.e. Muslims.’

In the annals of history it is recorded that she was a wealthy woman who also belonged to the respected tribe of Quraysh. Khadija had been previously married three times and had older children when she met Muhammad, whom she hired to travel to Syria with one of her trade caravans, when he was twenty-five.  Upon returning her servant gave accounts of the honourable way that Muhammad had conducted his business and brought back twice as much profit than expected. Khadija entrusted a friend to approach Muhammad and ask if he would consider marrying. At first he was hesitant because he had no money to support a wife. The friend then asked if he would consider marriage to a woman who had the means to provide for herself. Muhammad agreed to meet with Khadija. After this meeting the marriage took place.

No doubt Khadija was a woman of remarkable intelligence. Her mature understanding of worldly affairs made her astute and wise. She saw in Muhammad a man willing to aid and abet anyone who gave the opportunity to prove himself worthy of accomplishing honest dealings and transactions in trade and commerce. We learn that her maturity was equalled by her consideration because of the support she offered to Muhammad’s prophetic mission. Khadija’s generosity left a lasting impression on Muhammad who grieved for a long time after her death. Because of the affection he maintained for Khadija, his wife Ayesha remained jealous of her.

Much that can be praised about Khadija, however it fails to make sense that so many young Muslim girls prefer her to be a role model. Khadija’s rare qualities made her a perfect companion for a man who was destined to become a prophet. She narrated dreams which led to the interpretations that she was to marry a prophet which tells us that she was bestowed with a strong spiritual awareness as well. Some of us are born naturally gifted and talented; however a gifted person’s rare attributes hardly assist others to better themselves.
It is narrated that Muhammad said there are four foremost ladies of the universe, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, his daughter Fatimah bint Muhammad, Maryam bint Imran, the mother of Prophet Issa and Asia bin Muzahim (the wife of the Pharoah.) Despite my best efforts I can never succeed to be like any of these women because I don’t possess their attributes, skills or place and position in society. However I can try my best to live by accomplishing some good in the face of adversities like Helen Keller, I can hope to learn from the legacy of Marie Curie whose discoveries benefits all of us, I can try and overcome my fears of altitudes and severe weather conditions like Junko Tabei and aim to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Blind veneration of Khadija, Ayesha and Fatima strikes to be an attitude which only highlights Muhammad’s status in Islam. Surely young Muslim girls can do better than worship for the sake of upholding Islam’s status.    

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

"You sound like an atheist."

Recently I have been receiving direct messages on twitter from some followers in regard to my rant on Islam. These ‘meant-well’ messages are directed at concerns that certain twitter accounts are being offensive about the content of my tweets. Some have also probed to question my religious standing and have gone on to believe that my recent tweets suggest I am now an atheist.

IT seems my ‘meant-well’ followers were compelled to direct their concern towards my religious standing because of the distraction I have caused through my tweets. I have outspokenly criticised Islam’s concept validating modesty and morality of women, challenged perceptions that Islam is compatible with British values and remained highly critical of the ideals to uphold the sanctity of Quran. All this has caused confusion on twitter. One follower sort of celebrated the thought that I have finally turned into an atheist and made an offer which sounded like ‘once in a lifetime chance’ of a relationship behind the marriage scene. Though it is fair assumption to make any sort of judgement from reading the tweets, I will have to explain my point of view, because the content of tweets is causing few of you to ask questions about my religious belief. But please bear in mind, this kind of explanation is something I choose not to do, simply because it is very difficult to explain religious standing without sounding presumptuous and I would refrain from becoming another Mehdi Hasan who once pointed out that I possessed very shoddy knowledge of Kerbala and hence rubbished me off for sounding too irrational on the topic of Islam.

Those who know me are not going to judge my approach to be overly religious in day-to-day matters. For as long as I remember I have always rebelled against the notion that secular values make you an immoral person. I grew up in a family where art was appreciated and admired and this never conflicted with the view that life is amoral if you draw human images. Any opinion resting on the notion that there is perversion in admiring women like Venus and Mona Lisa got me into fights in school. I still continue to view Islam as an elusive and intangible influence-----like a vague shadow in the background. My life is too busy, chaotic and demanding and I have little time to spare to dissect the reasons why Muhammad made it compulsory to live in an interest-free society or worry about the doomed after-death existence for not praying five times a day. I have lived under the shadow of Islam but I have also questioned, criticized and sometimes outwardly rebelled against Islamic ideas. But where I lack the will to emulate the Sunnah I also have no enthusiasm to formerly declare myself an atheist; simply because getting lost in a debate on faith and inner conviction is a distraction from serious issues.

The ones who believe Quran to be the final word of God are keen to promote the viewpoint that the teachings of Islam provide complete guidance in forming a society where everyone is given equal rights. But the voices disagreeing are putting up a fight. Although it is a credit that some on twitter compare me with Ayaan Hirsi Ali and  Tarek Fateh I am not as brave and courageous as them. These individuals have decided to no longer defend Islam and Sharia and they are challenging Islam and the Muslims who do not stand by free-speech and freedom of expression. It is hard, unforgivable and never-ending battle to oppose Islam, as I found out ever since I escalated my own criticism of Islam. I have been called an apostate and a non-believer, which I can live with because I have seen what criticism of Islam leads to after judging the barometer of hate Maajid Nawaz receive on twitter. However it rankle me that some devout Muslims claim I sound like a Jew or a Hindu, as if it is very heinously offensive matter to be a follower of either of these faiths.

Why does the level of tolerance slips away when Islam is challenged? Maybe because for too long Muslims have learned to tolerate the religious zealots who claim that sound judgement is a matter of absolute submission before Quran and Sunnah and anyone who disagrees can't be a Muslim. For me it is no longer a matter of choice to agree with principles and practices which are archaic, unjust and not sound in safeguarding freedom and human dignity. I will continue to criticize, condemn and highlight the issues within Islam because Sharia is no longer an answer to a better tomorrow for all those individuals who believe in living together without creating divisions resting on religion.