I am an Anglo-Moroccan Muslimah who loves languages, books, tea and Islam.
This here is a collection of all (read some of) my random musings and interesting finds.
Qur’an 2:156 (via majdimam)
The alternative to interiority is inferiority; but the alternative to the internal is not the infernal.
from ‘Contentions’ of Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad
Expanding on this Contention, Shaykh Abdal-Hakim says:
We may remain only exoterists, which is inferior to full conformity to the Sunna; however God’s generosity ensures that even exoterists are candidates for salvation.
Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
I’ve felt more aware recently of how some people see the Middle East as the “core” of the Muslim world, and other Muslim population centers as less relevant to Islam and even less “Islamic.” The equations “Arab=Muslim” and “Muslim=Arab,” which many people seem to accept, are hard to break. Certainly Mecca is the ritual center of the Muslim world, and Arabic the language of the Qur’an. But this does not mean that non-Arab Muslims are second-class believers, that they are less versed in Islamic sciences, or that they are less central to the trajectory of Islam in the contemporary world.
Arabic grammar is one of the classical Islamic sciences, and I think it is especially important to point out that many non-Arab Muslims can more than hold their own in this area. I think many students of Islam who have not traveled to sub-Saharan Africa might be surprised at the high standard of Arabic that some African Muslim scholars possess. During my field research in Northern Nigeria I routinely met people who spoke flawless Arabic (fusha, typically), even people who had never left Nigeria. This does not mean that advanced Arabic literacy is widespread among the population – although many people possess some ability to, at a minimum, sound out Arabic writing – but people with an advanced religious education, including advanced training in Arabic, are not rare.
One anecdote may help demonstrate the depth of such people’s command of Arabic. In Arabic textbooks in the United States, you will often find that what we call in English the “passive voice” is called in Arabic “al mabni lil majhul,” a classical grammatical term that translates, “the construction for the unknown [subject].” I was sitting with a friend one day when the term came up. He ventured that the “passive voice” would be better rendered “al mabni li ghayr al musamma bihi” – “the construction for the subject that is not named.” After all, he pointed out, just because the subject is not named does not mean that it is unknown. Maybe that won’t seem like a big deal to you, but it blew my mind. This man’s knowledge of Arabic was so deep, and he had spent so much time thinking about the grammar of the language, that he was able to point out an untenable assumption in a common grammatical term. I would put that man up against nearly any native speaker, or grammarian, and expect his knowledge of Arabic grammar to equal or surpass theirs.
How do such people get to that advanced level? Oftentimes, even for people who have university degrees (as he does), what we might call “traditional education” has given them a strong foundation. In the US, we frequently view memorization by rote as the lowest form of learning. We exalt “critical thinking,” as though one can think critically without a foundation comprised of details – details that must be memorized. We also tend to read widely, reading many texts, instead of deeply, reading one text closely or repeatedly. In Northern Nigeria, the memorization of texts is widespread, as is their close and repeated study. Grammarians in the region will often study in depth, and possibly memorize, texts like the Alfiya of Ibn Malik. That memorization can bring a powerful command of the language, especially in its classical form.
The memorization of the Qur’an itself can also offer a tremendous grounding in Arabic. A professor from Maiduguri (which is, or was, renowned as a center for the memorization of the Qur’an), told me once about an impromptu competition he had held in Syria between Syrian students and a few Nigerians who were there. The competition was to write out the fatiha – the opening sura of the Qur’an – from memory without making mistakes in voweling and other linguistic features. He said that the Nigerians were able to reproduce the Qur’anic text perfectly, while the Syrians stumbled. One may disbelieve the story, but it at least shows the confidence that he felt in Nigerians’ command of Arabic and of scripture.
There is much more to say on the subject of outsiders’ perceptions – and the realities – of the depth of religious commitment and religious knowledge among Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa. I plan to return to the subject. But I hope these quick anecdotes have shown that just because a Muslim is not an Arab does not necessarily mean that their Islam – or their command of Arabic – is second-rate.
By Alex Thurston from Sahel Blog
When the woman comes out and demands for her rights, she is silenced. When she goes to the so-called scholar, he shuns her. When she goes to courts for legal help, the community sees her as if she is betraying the community. […] The biggest crime is that you say this is the “word of God” when it is not.
Enough of this talk that it was Islam who gave women their rights and it was Islam that freed women. Yes, Islam did that. The question isn’t whether Islam did that or not. The question that should be asked is why we’re not implementing Islam in that regard? Why do we just leave it as sermons? Or a means of self-defense in the media who criticize us from the human rights organizations. Put yourself in the shoes of the girl who is abused. […] You cannot be quiet about it. The wound is blistered.
a reminder just in case we forgot.
I mean one of the things that a lot of people do, they follow the Sunnah of the beard, the siwak, the robe, they take all these outward sunan but then they don’t follow the sunnah of smiling. Like they’ll never smile.
Now, the beard is an important Sunnah, there’s no doubt about that. But anybody can grow a beard. D’you know, it’s an effortless practice: you just don’t shave. Seriously. It’s effortless.
But smiling when you don’t feel like smiling, you know that - it takes effort to do that. And that’s why it’s one of his amazing sunnahs is that he was constantly smiling…
From a brief talk on Sufism by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf.
Imam W.D. Mohammed, from Dr. Jamillah Karim’s blog post ‘Black is Beautiful, Uh-huh!”
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf