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- Ali Al-Timimi
As-salamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. Alhamdulillah wa's-salatu wa's-salamu 'ala rasulillah, 'amma ba'ad:
The topic that I was asked to discuss here at McGill University is the elevation of the status of women in Islam. Many, upon hearing the title of this lecture, might assume it to be an oxymoron because the prevalent idea - at least in the West - is that Islam does not elevate the status of women, but that Islam oppresses and suppresses women. So people might find the title in itself to be shocking or a curiosity at least.
In discussing this topic - since it appears to me that this is a mixed audience of Muslims and non-Muslims - I'd like to make my remarks and comments brief. I will take no more than thirty to forty five minutes, and then allow you an opportunity to ask your questions. Perhaps the question and answer session might be more fruitful in addressing specific accusations, understandings or misunderstandings regarding the status of women in Islam.
As we all know, in the world today, there are - for the overwhelming majority of humanity - basically two world views. These two views are often in conflict - not only on the personal level where individual human beings are making choices, but also on the international level in terms of the debate over the authenticity and correctness of these two world views.
Truthfulness is very closely related to trustworthiness and can perhaps be regarded as its twin quality. Like trustworthiness, it was also the second distinguishing feature of our Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, as he was called as-sadiq (the truthful) for his immaculate truthfulness. Similar to trustworthiness, it is intertwined with Islamic faith ('iman). It is inconceivable that a believer (Muslim) will not be truthful, or that a liar can be a believer.
In terms of graveness and abomination, the Holy Qur'an equates telling lies to worshiping idols. In Surah Hajj, it says:
"Keep away from the filth of the idols and keep away from telling lies, dedicating yourselves purely and uprightly to Allah, without equating anyone with him." [Al-Qur'an 22:30-31]
One day Allah's Messenger, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, stood up immediately after praying Salatu'l-Fajr (the Morning prayer) and repeated three times, "False witness has been equated to idolatry". The he recited the verse of the Qur'an quoted above.1
Also, consider this - The Messenger of Allah was asked if a believer could be a coward or a miser. He indicated that it was possible. But when he was asked if a believer could be a liar. He replied, "No!" 2
- Tarek Mehanna
A few days ago, I received a letter in which someone was expressing dismay at a hardship they were witnessing, that would not end. The letter contained the line: "I am angry. Why didn't Allah listen to our du'a? Why?"
I decided to write this as a response because this is an unfortunately common reaction, and it's due to a severe misunderstanding of how du'a (i.e. invoking God for something) works. We tend to this of du'a as a panic button: you're in a tight situation, God promised repeatedly in the Qur'an that he responds to the one who invokes Him in need, therefore, if you get all the details right (last third of the night, concentration, etc), the next day you'll see "the answer." And if you don't get "the answer," you begin to internally doubt the promise of God. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) addressed this phenomenon in an authentic hadith collected by both Al-Bukhari and Muslim. The wording in Muslim's narration is more to the point:
"A person's invocation of God will continue to be answered - so long as he doesn't ask for something sinful or to cut off a family member - and so long as he isn't hasty." He was asked: "How would they be hasty?" The Prophet replied: "By saying: 'I prayed and I prayed, and I don't see that I'm being answered,' and he then loses hope and gives up invoking God."
- Jaafar Sheikh Idris
Are Muslims and the West bound to clash? Dr Jaafar Sheikh Idris, professor of Islamic studies, Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences, Washington, gives an answer which supports the idea of peaceful coexistence.
Is it possible for the inhabitants of our global village to live peacefully together and reap the fruits of science and technology whose pace of advancement is ever increasing? Or are their religious, cultural and civilization differences bound to create clashes and wars among them? The matter is so important that it behooves Muslim intellectuals and statesmen to give it serious thought.
Western intellectuals are very much concerned with this question. But they are by no means agreed on the answer. One view is that the clash between Western civilization and others is inevitable, nay that it is already under way. Another view is that the real clash is within Western culture itself.
A third view is that people all over the world are heading toward Western political liberalism and economic capitalism, and that these systems constitute the end of history in these respects. A fourth view is that peaceful coexistence among people of different cultures and civilizations is possible provided they adopt secular pluralistic democracy.
What is the Islamic standpoint on this important and urgent issue? This paper is an attempt to give a brief answer to that question. But I am not speaking here as a social scientist who describes and explains actual reality; rather I am attempting to describe only theoretically what I consider to be the Islamic standpoint on this issue in our present circumstances. And my short answer is that it is a standpoint that is unequivocally on the side of peaceful coexistence. But to live peacefully with others you need sometimes to be fully prepared for war against them.
- 'Abdullah ash-Shimemeri
"But those who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the Garden, abiding in it eternally." [Al-Qur'an 2:82]
"There, no sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shay they [ever] be evicted." [Al-Qur'an 15:48]
"They will not taste death therein, except the first death, and He will preserve them from the penalty of the Blazing Fire. [It will be] a bounty from your Lord. That will be the supreme achievement!" [Al-Qur'an 44:56-57]
"As for those who believe and work righteous deeds, they will have the gardens of Paradise as hospitality. Eternally therein, they will not desire any other [place]." [Al-Qur'an 18:107-108]
"Their Lord gives them glad tidings of a mercy from Himself and good pleasure and of gardens for them wherein is lasting enjoyment." [Al-Qur'an 9:21]
Abu Hurayrah reported that Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said:
"He who gets into Paradise [will be made to enjoy such an everlasting] bliss that he will neither become destitute nor will his clothes wear out nor will his youthfulness decline." [Muslim]