August 23, 2010

Moderate Muslim?

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. We've all heard the phrase "moderate muslim" thrown around ALOT recently... in the news... on fb... on youtube... however you get your information. It's the only way mainsteam Americans can refer to Muslims it appears. Well I have a little to say on this point:

I am NOT a "moderate" muslim. I am NOT a "wahhabist" (which isn't actually correct terminology but debating minor points isn't the reason I am writing this post). I am NOT an "extremist". I am not a "______" anything.

I AM A MUSLIM. I follow the Qur'an and the sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saws). I follow the paths of all of the prophets and messengers sent by Allah from before. I strive to do what's right for myself, my family, my deen, my community...

I am not an apologist. I do not apologize for anything that others have done in the name of Islam, under it's banner, using their religion incorrectly. Just as I do not expect every Catholic I meet to apologize to me for the nasty goings-on of some of their clergy because I am open enough to realize that BAD PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS.

I also do not condemn those of my brothers and sisters overseas who fight against the invasion of their homes, the disruption of the lives, the molding of their futures by powers they cannot control.

I do however have zero tolerance for people who twist the words of Allah to justify ruthless slayings, or to imprison (literally and figuratively) their female relatives, or any of the other million and one things IMPERFECT people try to get by with doing.

Sometimes the pressure of being a religious minority is heavy on me. I love giving dawah and I do strive to uphold Islamic principals in my day to day life. (I'm not a jumah-only muslim.) Sometimes though I have a bad day, maybe I'm grouchy or I don't feel good or my kids gave me a hard time or maybe I am tired or in a hurry and I miss an opportunity to show through my actions the beauty of Islam.

I hate to feel that, like the terrorists who committed 9/11, I will be the face of an entire religion for anyone I meet that day.

I long sometimes to pack it up and move overseas. Now before anyone starts to criticize me, please remember I've been to a couple of different Muslim-majority countries. I know it's harder to live there, I know I would miss all the comforts of home. I know all of the negatives, really I do.

But there is just that draw. I am not so delusional (anymore!) to really think every muslim I meet will love me and feel I am their sisters in Islam, give me a great big "salaam" and we become insta-friends. :-D You know, I would settle just to be able to go into a doctor's office and not have to go through a page-long explanation when I do not shake their hand, or to walk on the street and not have that little niggly feeling that something could happen because of the hijab on my head. Or, wonder of all wonder, to be allowed to worship in peace and build religious centers wherever there is land and money enough available.

To all of the thinking, feeling, understanding, and open individuals who realize Islam is not twisted, it's not to be feared, and we, like all other religious entities in the US, deserve the protection of the Constitution, I thank you. Truly.



Um Abdullah said...

Yes! Allahu Akbar! I completely, completely agree, so much so, in fact, that I intend to copy and paste this to my blog, giving you credit, of course. but only with your permission. please?

Umm Aaminah said...

Um Abdullah, a'salaamu alaikum ya ukhti. Please feel free to use anything on my blog. :-) I just got a bee in my bonnet I guess you could say over this whole Park51 "mosque" near the site of 9/11. I had to get it off my chest. :-)

Ramadhan mubarak sis!!!

Stephanie said...

I think most of us Muslims in the US are collectively uttering similar thoughts. I think I'm going to write this up on a note card and hand it out to everyone I meet. :)

Banana Anne said...

Jazakallah khair for this much needed post. I agree with pretty much everything you said. I'm sure there are many, many people that think that I am an "extremist" because I pray five times a day, wear a khimar and jilbab, don't have any male friends, don't drink or smoke, etc. I say, using the awesome Brooklyn expression, "fugeddaboudit". I, and the people I care about (mostly), know I'm not the crazy loon people think Muslims are.

On a technical note, I can actually stand behind the term "moderate Muslim". In Surah al-Baqarah, ALLAH says that He has made us an ummah that is "wasatiyyah", or "justly balanced". In other words, we should always strive to take the middle, "moderate" way on everything, being neither fanatical nor lax.

One of the things that angers me the most is when crazy Muslims do incredibly stupid, evil things and ruin the reputation of Islam for everyone else. Thanks to them, there are fiery debates over whether or not masjids can be built; thanks to them, my parents condemn my choice of religion and have vowed never to support me in it.

Alhamdulillah, I am quite happy with my life here in Boston, and I really don't want to move to a Muslim-majority country. I am totally free and comfortable in practicing Islam to the best of my ability here, so there really isn't a need for me to make hijrah (I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can make hijrah from my parents' house back to Boston, very soon Insha'Allah!) It would definitely be more convenient living in a Muslim-majority country, what with daily activities revolving around salat everywhere I go, no worries about getting halal food, Islamic clothing stores galore, etc. But unless things get to a point where Muslims are being activily persecuted (Audhubillah), Insha'Allah I'm staying here in the USA.

Also, that comic is hilarious. :)

Umm Aaminah said...

Salaam sistahs! @ Steph, hey no problem. Part of my "inspiration" was your "interfaith dialogue" with that islamaphobe. :-) Tell you what, print up the cards and we'll go in halfsies.

@ Anne, insha'allah your hijrah to Boston will be soon and will help reestablish some peace for you. :-) I've never been one of those sisters who, without any background info, was just dying to move to a Muslim majority country. But now that I have a small daughter, I am even more worried by the hardships faced.

And really I hate to think as she grows how she will feel about herself when she sees people holding signs saying, "Go back home!" or "Islam religion of hate". :-( At a certain age I see it as character building but too young and I think it can make children scared. As a mom of course you keep your children away from as much as you can but media is so pervasive.

May Allah protect all our children and make them among the pious muslimeen. Ameen.

jana z. said...

salam sis...wonderful and well said! i was thinking of this term just yesterday...moderate muslim. there is no such thing. no such thing!!!

im constantly writing about such things on my FB page and i do believe that the average non muslim thinks that normal everyday muslims who arent blowing up things and killing people are "moderate muslims" when in fact we are just muslims as you said.

the "other" ones are the nutcases who do all the wicked things they do. they are not the norm.

i was thinking to write to the editor of our newspaper and explain the normalcy of muslims. just not sure where id start.

wouldnt hurt if we all started writing our editors and let them know they are misinformed by calling the other 1.8 billion muslims in the world moderate muslims.

we are it!! the norm alhamdulillah.

LivingForOneGod said...

I thank you for your honesty Umm Aaminah with your post and feelings of being a Muslim in America. The problem I have is that the proposed mosque near 9/11 is being built on a site that was destroyed by an engine of one of the planes so it is a part of Ground Zero. Also the imam Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been friendly with and does receive money from Saudi Arabia and jihad supporters oversees and even in America i.e. Jamal Barzinji founder of American Muslim Brotherhood and founder of Dar al-Hijrah which is a terror mosque

Mr. Rauf and his wife have openly lied and mislead the American people on practically EVERY area having to do with the mega-mosque funding, to his open support of Sharia Law over the U.S. Constitution and his personal and religious beliefs ESPECIALLY is saying America was partly to blame for 9/11.

I read Banana Anne's blog post with the "Islamiphobe" and unfortunately the man stated facts that are easily backed up whereas she used personal attacks instead of evidence. The fact is under Sharia Law there is no freedom of speech or religion. Blasphemy is a crime punishable by death under Sharia. So is changing your religion by becoming an Apostate. Also you need the written permission of the Head of State in a Muslim country to build or rebuild a church which means in Egypt if a tree falls and damages the roof of a church, they're unable to rebuild it. Non-Muslims are second class citizens in Dar al-Islam دار الإسلام
A non muslim is also considered guilty before innocent in blasphemy cases and esp. in places like Pakistan and Muslim will lie and say he was a Christian tear up a Qu'ran or blaspheme the name of Muhammad and that Muslim get's the Christian's property. At least 250 MILLION Christians are persecuted,jailed, tortured and executed of which the vast majority in Muslim Countries SIMPLY for being Christians. Not to mention another 350 Million legally harassed, discriminated against and forced conversion attempts.
Thanks for allowing me to post and do hope everyone watches a video I found. God Bless!

LivingForOneGod said...

Sorry but earlier blog I'd also posted about was from Stephanie and not Banana Anne. Sorry about the mistake. Also Stephanie or Muslim Mama I hope your lil girl has a great time in Kindergarten :-)

Stephanie said...

I never made a personal attack and no nothing he or you have said are "facts". In fact this whole thing is a gross misconstuance of the "facts". As I argued with my islamophobe acquantance on facebook, bringing up human rights violations perpetuated in muslim countries have nothing to do with this issue. We are living in America last I checked. It's also quite obvious by your link that you keep posting everywhere that you are using this issue to prostelyze which in my opinion is in very poor taste.

Umm Aaminah said...

Salaam ya'll. @ Sis Jana, thanks for commenting and you are right; it's one thing to let other Muslims know how we feel but more proactive would be to send a letter to the editor of our local paper. Insha'Allah I will do so this week. Hmmm now to come up with a succinct letter.

@ Livingforonegod, I do post your comments (I believe you commented before) because unless you violate my rule about defaming the prophets and messengers of Islam or are openly hostile, I have no problems as I am personally not threatened by your beliefs.

However, as Sr. Stephanie said, we are discussing an issue in America, where we live and are law-abiding citizens. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

I will insha'allah address some of your comment in a more indepth manner but I have to consult with my husband. He is a respected shaykh and has a degree in Shariah law so he is the perfect person to clarify points for you (if indeed you are open for clarification).

However, he made one very good analogy I want to pass on. As Muslims in America, we are subject to the American code of laws, set down by the Constitution. We cannot say, Oh no you can't try me for polygyny because I am Muslim and its allowed for me. Nope, doesn't work. So while here in the US we have to abide by its laws. I think even in the Christian tradition Isa (Jesus) alayhi salaam said, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" which means you must obey the law of the land where you live.

Now it just stands to reason that anyone else living in a Muslim majority country will have to be subject to the laws governing that area, despite their religious beliefs. Just as the Muslim will receive no amnesty for engaging in polygyny in the US, neither will a non-Muslim receive mercy who commits adultery (sex outside of marriage) in a country where that is rightfully considered a grave sin.

The shariah is a complex set of laws meant to govern the physical aspects of daily living. It's a code of law not implemented in any country. Yes parts of it may be here or there but it is not in it's entirety and being thus perverted you cannot claim such and such is governing under shariah law.

Pakistan, as you specifically mentioned, does NOT adhere to the shariah at all. Nor does Egypt. It is definitely a Muslim majority country but it's leadership is anything but Islamic.

Also I would like to point out another related fact as you mentioned the difficulty to build churches. One, I don't care. Not to be rude, but those countries, to my limited knowledge, do not guarantee EVERYONE the right to religious freedom. So any further argument is moot. People chose to be Christian in a non-Christian land, they could choose to move as well.

However in Kuwait there are about 300 Christians. Not native Kuwaitis mind you but expats. There are, get this, 35 churches. Yes that's right. Many built by the government to appease their expatriated workers. Also in Oman Hindus are allowed temples and Jews are allowed to build synagogues; these are just 2 examples of Muslim-majority countries which tolerate others religious leanings.

As for my situation here, my contitutional rights GUARANTEE me the right to worship how and when I chose. Therefore I am absolutely within my rights as a citizen to be offended. No one has the authority to pick and choose to whom our constitution applies. So once again I find your argument specious because you are bemoaning the lack of religious freedom in countries which never promised any.

And I have to agree with Sr. Steph on this other point, that your use of the link over and over is your attempt to spread your viewpoint. Instead please feel free to open your own blog and have your own discussions which we may or may not chose to view.

And with Allah lies all success...

Umm Aaminah said...

One other point which I had forgotten, on the subject of Christians being allowed to practice in non-Christian lands.

In Egypt alone, there are over 7 million Christians. To serve these 7 million Christians, there are more churches in the country of Egypt than the ENTIRE continent of Europe.

During the height of the expansion of the Muslim empire, there are numerous examples of the Muslims sparing religious buildings and allowing others to practice their beliefs.

I will conclude with a quote by Mark Twain:
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed." We all need to be careful where we get our information from and not pass along unsubstantiated and easily refutable biases as fact.

And with Allah lies all success...

LivingForOneGod said...

Sorry Stephanie but EVERYTHING that I posted is documented FACT. I can bring up websites and also Scholarly research to back up my claims. It is a fact that the Imam has called for Sharia Law to be the Law of the Land in America. He has gone on University tours claiming that Sharia and the U.S. Constitution are fully compatible with each other. He has written books as well claiming this. The fact is the Constitution and Sharia Law can't stand side by side. America can only be ruled by one or the other. Also killing those that leave Islam and say that Jesus is God is simply evil! As would killing a Jew who becomes a Muslim. Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness are Universal Rights given by God. I have a universal right to worship God in my own way as long as it doesn't physically hurt someone else. I don't have that right under Sharia and according to the Bible and our Founding Fathers and the ideals of America, that is evil and wrong.

Angelle said...

Um Aaminah, you put it very well. I like your quote from Mark Twain.

Regarding the comparison of US policy to the policies of other countries you make some good points, but I don't even think it's relevant. Are we children on the playground to have our policies dictated by how others act? Or do we stand by our conviction (enshrined in our very constitution) that we support freedom of religion?

Bigotry is bigotry and we must strive against it.

LivingForOneGod said...

Also remember that those 7 million Christians are Coptics and are a persecuted MINORITY in Egypt. They also have to have armed guards protecting the Churches because people there have been arrested and attacked for allowing Muslim apostates to worship there. I know of an account of a Coptic Priest who had his tongue cut out and was beaten to death by a Muslim mob all for openly preaching Christianity. His family was also arrested as punishment and his brother spent 2 years in prison where they did awful thins to his food. He was also a Coptic Priest and had to emigrate to America because they banished him from Egypt upon penalty of death for being open about his religious beliefs. Now that is WRONG and unAmerican.

Thank you again Umm Aaminah for being so nice to me on here. You have shown far more respect for me then I'm afraid many other Muslims have on other websites. I hate saying that :-(. The problem I have and is also a reason why I post links to Dr. White has to do with a double standard. He is a Christian apologist and loves to have civil debates with respected Muslim Apologists such as Shabir Ally who is a very decent Muslim man. My problem as is Dr. White's
is similar to Umma's reason for not allowing someone to post on her blog, "Defaming the prophets or Muhammad". There is I'm afraid a double standard. Muslims I've talked to are fully willing to say that the Bible is corrupt, Paul was a liar and that the belief that Jesus is God is Shirk. They have a right to do that and bring their evidence for that. But when I "bring my proofs" as the Qu'ran said for Jews and Christians to do then they get "offended" and refuse to discuss anything any further. If I don't believe the Qu'ran is the word of God and Muhammad isn't the final Prophet then allow me to say why in a sensible and reasonable manner using logic and reason without fear of being persecuted or killed for my beliefs. If Islam is right and another religion such as Christianity is wrong, then evidence can be shown for that without the threat of using violence and intimidation under the excuse of being "offended" or "blasphemy".
That is my problem with Sharia and Muslim countries, there is no way to have an open debate about Islam or to even question it. If Muhammad IS the Prophet then anyone who says he isn't will be proven to be a fool through logic and reason since God is a god of BOTH.
Now I have a problem with Muslims saying the New Testament was corrupted when a. the Qu'ran NOR Muhammad said that esp. in Mecca and b. there is no physical evidence for it. You can't do textual criticism for the Qu'ran because to say that a single verse didn't come from Allah is blasphemy and is punishable by death under Sharia. But we can compare over 5,800 ancient Greek manuscripts of the NT to compare then and do honest research on them.

Again double standard. Muslims can't continue to scream for freedom of speech and religion for themselves while calling for it to be denied to billions of others around the world.
A Muslim has the right to say to debate me and try to show why I'm committing shirk for being a Christian and I love him for having the right to do so. God bless him for it. I would just like the same respect in return.
Sorry if double post

Um Abdullah said...

I think the point Umm Aaminah is trying to make is that Muslims CAN in fact scream for freedom of speech and religion in AMERICA, first of all, because the laws in America guarantee that right to all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. I would fight for that right for my agnostic sister and my pagan mother, because that is their right. In a country ruled by some Islamic laws which do not guarantee this right, no one can complain. They are receiving what they are promised, both punishment and reward alike. And if their government is corrupt (as many of them are), this is a situation to be dealt with in their own country on their own terms.

I would like to point out also that neither Christianity nor Islam provide the right of the freedom of speech. (I was a scholar of the Bible, studied in Bible college and dedicated my life, time, money and heart to missions work for Jesus around the world. so...I know what I am talking about on this). Christianity does not say a man can say whatever he wants and not be punished by God. Many of the laws laid down in the Bible govern the tongue. The only difference is that Islam provides for punishment in this life while the Bible only discusses the punishment in the hereafter. And, even if Christianity did provide for this right, America is anything but a Christian country. Similar to Egypt being a Muslim-majority country, but governed by corrupt people, America may be majority "Christian" (which is arguable, really, considering the average Americans knowledge of the actual precepts of the religion in general), but the government is anything but.

Again, no one is arguing for a double standard. in America, all people, regardless of spiritual, religious, ethnic backgrounds have a right to say and do many things they want to say and do (which is also arguable considering the number of upstanding american citizens imprisoned right now for 'speech crimes'). In Afghanistan, women have not had the right to go to school for decades. This is not Islamic, not in the least, but the people who make the laws enforce them and it isn't our right to complain about it (or launch a "war on terror" against them to "liberate" the people) because it isn't our country and we dont have the worldview they do.

And, p.s., I dont know a single Muslim who wants any right of anyone around the world taken away, no matter who they are. You have the right to degrade the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and we have the right to not post the comments on our page. I would fight for your right to say whatever you want about him, not as a Muslim, but as an American. I can hate it (and I do) but I cannot stop it by force, and nor would I try.

Umm Aaminah said...

@ Um Abdullah: masha'allah well said!

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

MashaAllah well said sis;)

LivingForOneGod said...

Um Abdullah you claim that you studied the Bible and went to Bible school yet stopped being a "Christian" when all your life problems didn't disappear. Plus you claim you found "thousands" of contradictions in the Bible and questioned why God doesn't just forgive everyone without having to have a sacrifice. Seems to me you need to return to Leviticus and the entire OT to reread about how God is Holy and Just and MUST punish sin just as a Judge in court must punish lawbreakers or he isn't just. If a judge in court just said "I forgive you" to a murderer who admitted he'd murdered someone and he was sorry for it then that's not love from a judge but injustice being done to the one being murdered who is made in the IMAGE of God. Evil must be punished period. God hates evil and sins and those who sin are enemies of God and are children of the Devil, Jesus said.
Also our Founders recognized that our Rights came from God and not the State, such as Life,Liberty and pursuit of Happiness or Happenstance. The Bill of Rights are rights that the U.S. Congress and American people recognized to be from God and again not the government or State. This comes from Enlightenment thought which was directly inspired by the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers understood that people had a freedom of Conscience due to the NT preaching that people have the right to come to God through Christ without ANY forced compulsion since it is God who saves a person and NOT due to man's own ability or power.
I could get into hours of discussion talking about these so-called "contradictions" and the textual criticism of the Bible ESP the NT and how the ABUNDANCE of NT Greek manuscripts alone shows how God has preserved the Bible.