Modernity

MODERNITY

This depends on both what is meant by “modernity” and the varied interpretations on this subject. If by modernity one means science, the scientific method and technological advances, then we know that scientific exploration and technological innovation flourished in the Islamic cultures of the Middle Ages, commonly known as the Golden Age of Islam. And today, millions of Muslims are involved, often in leading positions, in the fields of science, mathematics, medicine, engineering and other scientific fields.

If by modernity one means democracy and individual rights such as freedom of thought, expression religion, and conscience, then Muslim attitudes vary depending upon how they are defined.

While some Muslims view these rights as secondary to religious principles conveyed by Islam, others, including, as we explain in the introduction to these questions, consider these rights to be fundamental principles of Islam. Muslims can cite the tradition of ijtihad (independent thinking) as an essential aspect of Islamic scholarly tradition that fosters reform, reinterpretation, and the exploration and advocacy of new ideas.

However many Muslims are concerned about the devastating negative effects that modernity and its accompanying technological advances can have, when influenced by factors relating to economic profit and short-term gain, have had upon our environment and the world.

Democracy is a cited as modern trend but is interpreted very widely, broadly and differently depending upon its location. Most Muslims who favour democracy, interpret it as merely shura (“mutual consensus”) and allowing the voting system to be employed, as we have witnessed during the 2011 Arab Spring and beyond, people throughout the Arab world in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria have risked their lives, and in some places are still risking them, in their struggle for freedom and government change in their countries. However, for most Muslims allowing the voting systems as per democracy/shurah requirements, does not mean it overrides divine Islamic law – with both being compatible.

In Muslim tradition, individual rights are balanced with collective rights in a mutually beneficial manner.

The principle of individual rights was established in one of Islam’s earliest documents, the Madinah Constitution, which was drafted by the Prophet Muhammad saws when he migrated with his followers to Madinah. The agreement laid out certain rights and responsibilities between the Muslims and the major tribes in Madinah and guaranteed the security and religious freedom of the diverse religious and tribal groups who made up the new community. In the context of its time, it embodied a remarkably strong affirmation of human rights.

View Of Other Religions

VIEW OF OTHER RELIGIONS

Muslims believe that respect for freedom of religion and conscience is a basic Islamic principle, and we believe that diversity, including religious diversity, is part of the Creator’s divine plan. Moreover, we believe that the salvation of all people, Muslims included, lies with the Creator alone.

The Qur’an refers to the followers of the previous Abrahamic holy books as “People of the Book,” which is generally interpreted to mean Jews and Christians. They are called People of the Book because Muslims believe their scriptures originally came from the Creator; “book” in the Qur’an is often a reference to scripture. The Qur’an gives the People of the Book special status by declaring their meat lawful for Muslims and by allowing Muslims to marry women from them. As it does with Muslims, the Qur’an describes some as pious and righteous adherents to their religions, while pointing out that others fail to follow the commandments that were sent to them. The Qur’an also takes issue with some of the beliefs of Judaism and Christianity, such as the Christian belief in the Trinity.

The Arabic word kafir (plural kuffar) is commonly translated as the word “disbeliever” or “unbeliever”. In the Qur’an, kafir usually refers to a person who not only rejects the beliefs of Islam but also takes a hostile stance toward Muslims and their religion; it is used primarily to refer to the Makkans who attacked and fought against the Muslim community. In modern Arabic, kafir is often used to mean simply “non-Muslim,” without any necessary negative connotation.

We strongly believe that people of other faiths should be treated with love and respect, affirming the Islamic principle respect for freedom of religion and conscience.

The Qur’an explicitly forbids hatred towards, subjugation of, or forcible imposition of religion on any person or people when it states “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256) and describes religious pluralism as part of the Creator’s plan. The existence of old churches, temples, and synagogues throughout the Muslim world in places like Egypt, Turkey, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, India, and Bosnia and the presence of minority religious populations in those areas demonstrates that this command was historically followed by many Muslim societies.

While the majority of Muslims believe in the five holy books or scriptures mentioned in the Qur’an as original revelations to the prophets (the Scrolls as revealed to Abraham; the Torah as revealed to Moses; the Psalms as revealed to David; the Gospel as revealed to Jesus), they do not believe that they have been preserved in the original form or language in which they were first revealed. However, we believe that the Qur’an contains the same principles included in these previous scriptures.

Muslim historians and scholars have described the history of the Qur’an and the efforts of Muslims since the early days of Islam to preserve the Qur’an in its original pure form. During the Prophet Muhammad’s life, scores of people memorised, recited, and wrote down the Qur’an. Shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad saws, the Qur’an was compiled into a unified standard form and transcribed by experts who carefully verified every verse by matching it against both the written word and memorised verses. The completed transcript was then copied and distributed across the growing Islamic empire. These copies served as the basis for all copies of the Qur’an written or printed since. Today these earliest written versions of the Qur’an are similar to contemporary copies of the Qur’an.

While translations of the Qur’an may vary due to linguistics, all copies of the Qur’an in Arabic contain identical language. This standardisation, coupled with the millions of people who continue to memorise the entire Qur’an, ensures the text’s authenticity.

STATUS OF WOMEN

STATUS OF WOMEN

The Islamic faith advocates and demand complete equality between men and women. Women hold and have held many positions of authority and leadership in the Muslim community throughout history. In Muslim-majority countries women today work as physicians, businesswomen, engineers, lawyers and have served as heads of state.

There are many verses in the Quran and prophetic sayings that speak to the issue of women’s rights. They include the following:

Equal responsibilities and reward: “For the men who acquiesce to the will of God, and the women who acquiesce, the men who believe and the women who believe, the men who are devout and the women who are devout, the men who are truthful and the women who are truthful, the men who are constant and the women who are constant, the men who are humble and the women who are humble, the men who give charity and the women who give charity, the men who fast and the women who fast, the men who are chaste and the women who are chaste, and the men and women who remember God a lot, God has arranged forgiveness for them, and a magnificent reward.” (Qur’an, 33:35)

“And their Lord answered them, ‘I am never unmindful of the work of a worker among you, male or female. You are from each other.’” (Qur’an, 3:195)

“Whoever does right, male or female, and is a believer, We will revivify with a good life; and We will pay them their due according to the best of what they have done.” (Qur’an, 16:97)

Right to earn money: “. . . to men is allotted what they earn and to women what they earn.” (Qur’an, 4:32)

Right to inherit: “For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much – an obligatory share.” (Qur’an, 4:7)

Rights of a daughter: “Whosoever has a daughter and does . . . not insult her, and does not favour his son over her, God will make him enter into paradise.” (Hadith/Prophetic saying)

“Whoever has three daughters and treats them kindly, they will be a protection for him against the Fire.” (Hadith/Prophetic saying)

“Parents cannot force daughters into a marriage.” (Hadith/Prophetic saying)

Rights of a wife: “The best of you is the best to his family, and I am the best among you to my family.” (Hadith/Prophetic saying)

In Muslim-majority countries women are involved at the highest levels of education, employment, and politics, with many female physicians, engineers, lawyers, and other professionals. Muslim women have even served as heads of state in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Kosovo, Mauritius, and Pakistan.

In most Muslim communities, Muslim women work outside the home. Increasing numbers of Muslim women throughout the world are employed in various high level professions, including medicine and engineering.

Domestic violence and spousal abuse violate the Islamic principle of respect for human dignity and may even violate the principle of respect for life in severe cases. According to classical Islamic law, spousal abuse is grounds for a Muslim woman to initiate divorce. The vast biographies of prophet Muhammad (saws) record him as never having hit a woman or even a child and as condemning those who did.

There are many hadith (prophetic sayings) encouraging the seeking of knowledge that have led numerous Muslim women in history to become scholars, writers, and teachers of both men and women, as noted in the previous question. These include sayings such as “Seeking knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” In fact, the first word revealed in the Qur’an was “read,” an injunction directed at both men and women.

There is a fundamental Islamic principle that to seek education and knowledge is not only a right but an obligation incumbent on both men and women, and there is nothing in Islamic texts or teachings, that limits a girl’s right to seek education and knowledge. Those who limit women’s rights to education are doing so based on local social influences and understandings, not on religious texts.

Throughout Muslim history, as verified by historians, there have been thousands of female Muslim scholars, many of whom were teachers of renowned male scholars. Some notable examples include:

  • Rabi’ah Bint Mu’awwad, a great scholar of fiqh (jurisprudence), who taught scholars of Medina
  • A’isha bint Sa’d bint ibn Abi Waqqas, whose pupils included Imam Malik
  • Sayyida Nafisa, the granddaughter of Hasan, whose pupils included Imam Shafi’i
  • A’isha bint Abu Bakr, wife of the Prophet and narrator of over 2,000 hadith (prophetic sayings)

There are also many active female Muslim scholars today.

HIJAB AND MODESTY

HIJAB AND MODESTY

The Oxford Dictionary defines modesty as “behaviour, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency.” What constitutes modesty is understood differently by Muslims in different cultures, and can include the type of dress as well as the level of interaction with the opposite gender. For some Muslims, modesty also includes humility towards the Creator (God) and other people. Modesty is described by the Prophet Muhammad pbuh as an important virtue.

The Arabic word hijab literally means “curtain.” When used to refer to dress, it either implies modest dress that includes a headscarf or refers only to a headscarf. “Hijab” is often incorrectly used interchangeably with the terms burqa and niqab. “Hijab” is generally used to refer to a headscarf, ”burqa” to a covering of the entire body including the face, while “niqab” refers to a face covering that conceals most of the face but exposes the eyes. Some Muslim women wear hijab while others do not and expressions of hijab vary greatly by culture, individual taste, and conviction.

Practising Muslim women wear the hijab, an early practice established in the formative period of Islam that references Quranic verses and hadith (prophetic sayings) which requests obligating women to cover their hair and much of their body for the sake of modesty.

Women who choose to wear the hijab do so for a variety of reasons: religious duty, as a sign of identity, as an act of devotion to their faith, or to indicate that they do not want to be judged by their physical characteristics.

A minority of women in some Muslim cultures understand modesty to require covering not only their whole body and head but also their faces – this is a voluntary practice not deemed mandatory. Therefore, when in public, they wear a burqa (a loose garment which covers the body and face) or niqab (a covering for the face that leaves the eyes exposed).

The Qur’an instructs both men and women to be modest, but how this is practiced varies greatly. One understanding of modest dress for men in some Muslim traditions requires them to cover from the navel to knee and to dress modestly in loose-fitting clothing. The traditional clothing worn by Muslim men in such places as South Asia, where they wear a loose shirt and pants, or in some Arab countries, where men wear what looks like a long dress (jalaba) and a headscarf (kuffiyah), differs little in the extent of covering from the traditional dress of Muslim women. Many Muslim men grow a beard and wear a head covering that resembles a skull cap, as do observant practitioners in some other religious traditions.

JESUS AND MARY

JESUS AND MARY

Muslims overwhelmingly revere Jesus (AS) and believe that he was born to the Virgin Mary through an act of the Creator (God), just as Adam (as) is believed to have been created without a father or mother. The Qur’an describes his conception and birth, as well as his many miracles such as healings of the sick. The Qur’an also emphasises that Jesus (as) was a great prophet of Allah swt (God), as well as a messenger who received divine revelation, but that he was, like all other prophets, only a human being. While Muslims greatly revere prophet Jesus (as), Christmas is generally considered a Christian holiday (the date of 25th December is widely now known to be inaccurate with respect to the birthday of Jesus (as)) and not a part of Muslim cultures.

Muslims believe that Mary (as) (Maryam in Arabic) is the Virgin Mother of the Prophet Jesus (as). An entire chapter in the Qur’an is named after her. The chapter called Mary (Maryam) and other verses in the Qur’an emphasise her piety, righteousness, and status as an exemplar for all people, male and female.

The Qur’an describes her as the greatest of all women: “Allah chose and preferred her above all the women of the worlds.” (Qur’an, 3: 42)

PRAYER (SALAT)

PRAYER (SALAT)

Every Muslim is required to perform a range of compulsory and voluntary prayers.

Prayer among Muslims can take many forms. Three very common forms are Salat (ritual prayer), Dhikr (remembrance of God, which usually involves the repetition of God’s names), and Du’a (supplication, or asking God for a need or desire or for forgiveness).

The five compulsory prayers take part at different times of the day are known as : 1 Fajr 2 Zuhr 3 Asr 4 Maghrib 5 Isha.

Other compulsory prayers include: 1 Eid Ul Fitr 2 Eid Ul Adha 3 Weekly Friday Jummah 4 Funeral Janazah 5 Witr 6 Hajj Pilgrimage Ritual

Each Prayer (Salat) lasts 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the prescribed length of the prayer and the number and length of Qur’anic verses recited. Other factors may also influence the length of time a Muslim prays, including the number of additional (non-obligatory) prayers one chooses to perform, and the pace at which one recites the Qur’an.

The separation of men and women in prayer is not universal among Muslims. In the mosque built around the Ka’bah, men and women are not separated, but pray together in circular formation around the shrine. In some mosques women pray in balconies above the prayer hall for men, and in some mosques women pray parallel to men while in others they pray behind the men.

The main reason for this practice involves the practice of modesty. The Muslim ritual prayer is very physical in nature, involving standing, bowing, and prostrating oneself. While in congregational prayers, Muslims are supposed to stand side by side and shoulder to shoulder with those next to them. Many Muslim cultures have considered it distracting or immodest to have men and women praying side by side or to have women prostrate themselves in front of men.

Depending on their schedules, Muslims probably will not need to perform all five prayers while on the job since the prayers are spread throughout the day. In addition, each of the five prayers has a window of time during which each prayer can be performed. This time frame extends from about one hour to as long as four hours depending on the specific prayer and the time of year, since the times shift depending on the season and length of day.

Throughout most of the year, the prayer time for the noon prayer does not end while students are at school, so they can perform it when they return home. During the time of year when the prayer time ends while students are still in school, they can take a few minutes during breaks or lunch to pray. Students can ask their teachers if they can pray in the classroom or library.

The daily prayers represent not only the fulfilment of a divine mandatory duty, but an opportunity to connect spiritually with the Creator throughout each day, showing gratitude for the many bounties that Allah swt has provided for people.

KA’BAH

KA’BAH

The Ka’bah is the cube-shaped building covered with a black cloth in Makkah, Saudi Arabia that is believed by Muslims to have been the first house of worship to the Creator (God, Allah (swt)).

Muslims throughout the world face towards the Ka’bah when they perform each of their daily prayers.

Muslims believe that the first prophet on earth, Adam (as) built the original Ka’bah and that Prophets Abraham (as) and his son Ishmael (as) rebuilt and consecrated it as the first house of worship to Allah swt (God).