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LoonWatch’s Response to Asra Nomani

Asra Nomani responded to my article with the following message:

Dear Friends,

Thanks for the time that you spent discussing the ideas that I’ve presented in my writings. I see that there are many differences of opinion with readers of this site, but, nonetheless, I appreciate the conversation.

It’s interesting to me how often readers of this site use the term “whore” to describe me, and I’m sorry that so many of you feel such anger. I understand that many of these issues from religion to intimacy are sensitive ones.

I would gently say to you that many of the assumptions that are made here are, I understand, an effort by some folks to make sense of ideas with which you don’t agree. Sometimes the truth is a lot less sensational. I’m not self-hating. I’m not gaining riches, and, as a journalist, I can tell you that the “fame” of a TV appearance here or there is most certainly fleeting.

I sincerely care about how Islam expresses itself in the world, and I care about our world. We may differ in opinion, but I would also gently suggest to you that, while anger and insults may be an authentic expression of your frustration, I do wish for all of us a day when we can be in more civil conversation.

If anyone would like to personally write to me, I invite you to do so at asra(a)asranomani.com.

Otherwise, I wish all of you well.

Warmly, Asra

My response is follows:

Dear Ms. Nomani,

You are certainly correct in stating that “civil conversation” is important.  However, I’d like to raise a few points with regard to this:

1)  It should be understood that this is the internet, and people tend to “say” things with less inhibitions than they would in the “real” world.  I myself have been called horrendous things on the internet.  Hence, the “colorful” language in the comments section needs to be understood in this context and as a product of this phenomenon.  I did not–and neither did any LoonWatch writer–refer to you as a “whore”.  Neither do we endorse such language.  As a progressive, I cannot condone the use of such a misogynistic word that is often hurled at women.  As for the few Muslim users who used this term, they ought to be reminded that in their faith the levying of such a charge is considered strictly prohibited (see Quran, 24:23).

2)  At the same time, I suspect that you will transform this into another piece of evidence against “the Muslims”, as if Muslims alone hurl such insults.  Yet, female personalities of all creeds are routinely called “whores” by random people (ever seen the comments on YouTube!?).  This is very unfortunate, but it is not a Muslim-specific issue.  But I’m sure you will make this all part of your anti-Muslim paradigm.  You might also feel the urge to boast about the insults you have received here, as you did with the “Uncle Tom” label in your article on profiling, and as Robert Spencer (your fan and loyal supporter) does with the e-death threat he supposedly received on some random forum (he put the quote on the cover of his book, just as the Uncle Tom quote was highlighted in your article).

3)  My own article was not nearly as “courteous” as your reply was.  But let’s be real for a second: my reply was at least more honest.  Your reply, on the other hand, is disingenuous (and as lame as Mr. Rogers).  “Dear Friends.” Are we really your friends?  “Thanks for the time you spent discussing the ideas that I’ve presented in my writings.”  Am I to believe you are actually thankful for the article we wrote about/against you?  C’mon, can’t we be real for a second?  We’ve accused you in our article of being a fake, not the real thing…and here you reply exactly that way: in a fake way.  You certainly could have responded in a courteous manner without being so blatantly fake, but I guess fake comes easier to some people than others.

4)  You said: “Sometimes the truth is a lot less sensational.”  Ahhh, if only you yourself understood this point.  You (and the right-wing loons who agree with you) sensationalize everything about Muslims and Islam.  Instead of having serious and nuanced discussion about Muslims and Islam, you engage in sensationalism and fear-mongering.

5)  While it may be commendable to respond with courtesy (although in your case I think it is simply an act), it should be noted that some very vile people make sure to respond to critics courteously.  For example, David Duke oftentimes sounds like an absolute gentleman, but his ideas are vile.  Even Robert Spencer attempts to portray himself in this way.  It is not simply the way in which a person responds that matters, but more importantly what they believe and say.  In your case, your ideas are horrendous, not the manner in which you deliver them.  You are not the “liberal and progressive” you pretend to be; you are a right-winger just like the people who you admire and/or who admire you, including Robert Spencer, Wafa Sultan, etc.

6)  On that note, you should be proud that the anti-Muslim website BareNakedIslam has come to your swift defense.  That vitriolic website responded with a post entitled LEFT WING LOONIES hating on a Muslim woman who most Americans would love.  They praise you as “a one in a billion Muslim author.”  On the very same page, they are selling shirts saying “War on Terror Islam” and “Infidel” and links saying stuff like “Islam’s Rules for Having Sex with Animals”, etc.  The site boasts a logo that reads “Proud Right Wing Extremist.”  If you are really a “liberal and progressive” Muslim as you pretend, then why is a “proud right wing extremist” infatuated with you?  You are in fact honored on their page entitled Pro-America Muslims, with such ex-Muslim luminaries as Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, etc.  Why care what we at LoonWatch think about you when you have such a great fan base at BareNakedIslam and JihadWatch?

7)  You have offered the opportunity for readers to write personally to you via email.  This makes it appear as though you are one who is willing to discuss your views.  Yet, your response is completely devoid of substance.  You have not responded to a single one of my arguments.  If you think that my article is not worthy of response, then why go through the charade of offering to respond to people privately?  Surely if you have the time to respond to people individually, you then should have the time to respond to our site.  Once again, this is all mere posturing.

You seem to enjoy being interviewed on the “Fair and Balanced” Fox “News” channel.  Why not speak with us and actually field some critical questions for once?

Warmly, Lovingly, and Cherishingly,
Danios.

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  • Pingback: All-American Muslim, All-About Asra Edition » Muslimah Media Watch

  • http://www.bandofstrangers.org Jack Cope

    That was odd, let’s not…

  • Ruba

    That was awesome. Lets get hitched.

  • http://thebandofstrangers.blogspot.com/ Jack Cope

    I take it you didn’t get my email then muhammad :-S Hold on the website for now, I have one that is getting to be up and running in the near future.

  • muhammad ‘abd-al haqq

    Mosizzle,

    it’s official… i have already begun. i got this idea because almost every single LW post gets derailed with off-topic discussions, but the issues raised in these discussions are important in and of themselves.

    i was thinking of making it a repository of Islam-related authentic information for scholars, independent researchers,journalists, imams, religious scholars, up-and-coming-scholars, and any other qualified individuals to contribute to.

    i think many LW writers and commenters also are well qualified to write articles for it and would appreciate it. i am currently working on topic ideas for the articles and would appreciate it if you or any other Loonwatchers like Dawood, Jack Cope, or Michael Elwood would send ideas my way, or even whole articles if you like. The struggle continues.

    Allahu A’lam

  • Mosizzle

    “i am thinking of starting a personal blog”

    Muhammad abd al Haq, that would be very good.

  • Michael Elwood

    @muhammad ‘abd-al haqq

    “Many Muslims deny the racialism present among Muslims.”

    They claim that there’s “no racism in Islam.” And they’re right. There’s no racism in Islam, but there’s plenty of it in “Muslims”.

    “Too many. You’ve got Arabocentrism, North Indians think they are better than South Indians and Pakistanis and vice versa, Persians consider themselves superior, etc etc. But nothing seems more prevalent than this ‘black’/’white’ dichotomy in the Muslim world. It is very prevalent in Arab and Berber society, from the North African Maghreb to the Arabian Peninsula. It is also to be found among South Asians and to some extent among East Africans. Alot of ‘blacks’ will deny this racialism until they are confronted with it when they try to marry a “white Arab” or a South Asian. Especially ‘black’ males. i’ve had this problem myself.”

    As Dan pointed out in another thread:

    “Not going to defend Juan Williams here, but let’s be realistic. You don’t think non-black Muslims express fear when they see blacks walking around? Desi Muslims are the most guilty of this in my opinion.”

    Even here on LoonWatch, when a “black” American is mentioned, the disparaging racial remarks seem to flow freely. Like Sourin Mahbub’s reference to Allen West as a “paranoid monkey” and “neo-coon” or Halal Pork’s suggestion that Whoopi Goldberg go back to the “jungles of Africa”.

    The funny thing about Halal Porks’s comment is that there is just as much, if not more, desert per square mile in Africa than jungle. Moreover, most “black” Americans like Whoopi are descended from people from the forest (and savanna) regions of West Africa. Kinda like the forest regions of western Europe, but less temperate.

    And needless to say, when immigrant Muslims go running to Obama, Ellison, Carson, or some other “black” (or more accurately, mulatto), to lobby for one of their little pet causes (because they can’t get one of their supposedly “white” and “mainstream” selves elected to significant office), they don’t call them monkeys or coons.

    “And Islamophobes mistakenly think this racialism is part of Islam. But i was especially offended when reading a jihadwatch article exhorting ‘blacks’ to return to their Christian heritage, suggesting that Islam is racist against ‘blacks’.”

    You can’t blame Islamophobes for trying to use the racism (and sexism) in Muslims to their advantage. It’s frustrating, though. Because some Muslims can’t seem to connect the dots. They don’t see the connection between their racist behavior and the existence of people like Williams and West. Besides being un-Islamic, racism is strategically stupid. It makes it impossible for them to speak with any moral authority on the subject of bigotry. And they have managed to not only turn off non-Muslims like Williams and West, but even Muslims like Adam Sitte, Dan, and others. It’s almost as if some of these immigrant Muslims (especially the “white” and “Aryan” ones) are determined not to have any allies here in the West.

  • muhammad ‘abd-al haqq

    Michael Elwood,

    Jazak Allahu Khair for your comments and for the email. i will add you and send you some stuff. You comments on racialism particularly interest me. Not only because of the fact that i prefer that term to racism, since racism implies power, and racialism is a more all-encompassing term, but also because of the issues it raises.

    “I think the issues of racism (or more accurately, racialism) and sexism aren’t given enough attention by Muslims. Both have been used by Islamophobes (with mixed results) to try to turn people off to Islam.”

    Many Muslims deny the racialism present among Muslims. Too many. You’ve got Arabocentrism, North Indians think they are better than South Indians and Pakistanis and vice versa, Persians consider themselves superior, etc etc. But nothing seems more prevalent than this “black”/””white” dichotomy in the Muslim world. It is very prevalent in Arab and Berber society, from the North African Maghreb to the Arabian Peninsula. It is also to be found among South Asians and to some extent among East Africans. Alot of “blacks” will deny this racialism until they are confronted with it when they try to marry a “white Arab” or a South Asian. Especially “black” males. i’ve had this problem myself.

    And Islamophobes mistakenly think this racialism is part of Islam. But i was especially offended when reading a jihadwatch article exhorting “blacks” to return to their Christian heritage, suggesting that Islam is racist against “blacks”.

    Allahu A’lam

  • Michael Elwood

    @muhammad ‘abd-al haqq

    “what exactly confused you?”

    What you wrote wasn’t confusing. In my rush to get on with my vacation, I mistakenly thought your comment about the elliptical nature of the verse was made by the other dude. I also said that Ghazala led a mixed gender prayer in Basra, when it was in Kufa.

    “On other note: perhaps we can exchange emails and discuss the issues you raised?:Arabocentrism in Islam, mixed gender prayer, female imams, headscarves and hijab.”

    I think the issues of racism (or more accurately, racialism) and sexism aren’t given enough attention by Muslims. Both have been used by Islamophobes (with mixed results) to try to turn people off to Islam.

    For example, take halalpork’s claim (which I’ve seen made by other Islamophobes) that Muhammad was “white” and prejudiced against “blacks”. It’s a claim meant to turn “blacks” off to Islam. There are a lot of immigrant Sunni and Shia who fancy themselves “white” or “Aryan” and who are prejudiced against “blacks”. In his book titled “Blue-Eyed Devil”, Micheal Knight pointed out that a lot of them place a premium on “white” converts like himself. In an article for altmuslimah titled “Non-Desi like me”, Adam Sitte pointed out that they discriminate against “blacks” when it comes to marriage. And many, like Asra Nomani and Saira Khan seem convinced that “white” men are superior to non-”white” men. Despite this constant dissing of “blacks”, they seem genuinely surprised when someone like Allen West comes along.

    Muhammad, of course, was neither “white” nor prejudiced against “blacks”. Like Pince Bandar and Mohammad al-Amoudi, Muhammad was likely brown skinned. As al-Jahiz pointed out centuries ago in an essay, many Arabs are brown skinned due to a combination of genes and environment:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Jahiz#The_Essays

    Like most Americans (and most humans), the Arabs are mutts. :-)

    It’s ridiculous to claim Muhammad was prejudiced against “blacks”. His adopted son, Zayd ibn Haritha, was a dark skinned man of part African descent. And Muhammad loved Zayd’s son, Usama ibn Zayd, as much as he loved Hasan and Husayn. Interestingly, one of Muhammad”s descendants who is considered an Imam by the Shia, Ja’far as-Sadiq, freed and married a slave woman of African descent named Hamidah. Their son, Musa al-Khadim, is also considered an Imam by the Shia.

    It’s to bad all those “white” and “Aryan” Sunni and Shia, who claim to follow the example of Muhammad and his household, don’t follow them in this regard. The Quran says:

    30:22 From His signs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and your colors. In that are signs for the world.

    35:27-28 Do you not see that God sends down water from the sky, thus We produce with it fruits of various colors? Of the mountains are peaks that are white, red, or raven black. Among the people, and the animals, and the livestock, are various colors. As such, only the knowledgeable among God’s servants reverence Him. God is Noble, Forgiving.

    49:13 O people, We created you from a male and female, and We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is Knowledgeable, Ever-aware.

    “i am thinking of starting a personal blog where i would make articles based on my exchanges here, allowing people to comment and post their own material: something for scholars, independent researchers,journalists, imams, religious scholars,and up-and-coming- scholars to contribute to.”

    I’m none of the above, just a layman. I think your blog would make for a good read. My email is melwood19[at]gmail[dot]com.

  • muhammad ‘abd-al haqq

    Michael Elwood,

    what exactly confused you?

    On other note: perhaps we can exchange emails and discuss the issues you raised?:Arabocentrism in Islam, mixed gender prayer, female imams, headscarves and hijab. i am thinking of starting a personal blog where i would make articles based on my exchanges here, allowing people to comment and post their own material: something for scholars, independent researchers,journalists, imams, religious scholars,and up-and-coming- scholars to contribute to.

    Allahu A’lam

  • Michael Elwood

    LOL! I was so busy gettin’ my Xmas vacation on that I confused your comment about the elliptical nature of the verse with the other dude’s comments. :-)

  • Michael Elwood

    Here’s the link for non-Muslim’s opinion on the hijab:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab#Historical_and_cultural_explanations

  • Michael Elwood

    “i don’t understand what you mean here. Are you suggesting that Muslims don’t care about these issues as well? Or that we overemphasize the Palestine issue?”

    I think it’s that we overemphasize the issue. With all that’s wrong with “Islamic World”, can it really be said that Palestine is the most important issue? I think there’s some Arabcentrism at play here as well. People in America, Iran, Turkey and elsewhere have their own issues.

    “While i agree that women should be able to dress how they want regardless of secular or religious pressure, i hope your are not suggesting that the headcovering that is mistakenly referred to as hijab(for reasons i won’t go into here), is somehow not religiously obligatory?”

    Yes, that’s what I’m suggesting. Edip Yuksel explains the meaning of khimar as follows:

    “After a brief period of freedom and progress women enjoyed during the revelation of the Quran and several decades afterwards, they lost many of their human rights because of the fabricated misogynistic teachings introduced under the title of hadith, sunna, and sharia of various sects (3:195; 4:19,32; 9:71; 2:228).”

    “The word “KHuMuR” in 24:31 is a plural noun that comes from the root word of “KHaMaRa” which means, “to cover.” It is used for any cover, not exclusively for headscarves. An extensive Arabic dictionary, Lisan-ul Arab, informs us that the word was even used for rugs and carpets, since they cover the floor. The singular form of the same word “KHaMR,” has been used for intoxicants, which “cover” the mind (5:90). In verse 24:31, God advises female Muslims to maintain their chastity and put their covers on their chests, not their heads! Additionally, the word “fel yedribne = they shall put, they shall cover” is significant in that verse. If KHuMuR meant head cover, the verb, “fel yudnine = they shall lengthen,” (like in 33:59) would be more appropriate.”

    “Another distortion involves the word “ZiYNa” of verse 24:31. Muslim clergymen have abused this word to cover women from head to toe. They considered almost all parts of female body as ZiYNa. Reflecting on the rituals of ablution for the daily prayers, one can easily infer that women can publicly open their faces, hair, arms, and feet as an act of worship (5:6). Therefore, opening their faces and arms is indeed an act of worship; and they are not required to worship in secret or segregated places (17:110). If a man stares at a woman who is taking ablution and is sexually aroused it is not her fault, but it is either a symptom of his psychological problems or an indication of the deep-rooted problems in that society. By requiring women to cover any of these parts of their body, religious scholars have turned a religious ritual into a matter of sexual expression.”

    “It is up to women to cover themselves for their own protection. It is not up to men or moral police to mandate or impose this divine instruction on women, since the instruction is personal and specific to women. Besides, the language of the instruction is deliberately designed to accommodate different cultures, norms, conditions, and individual comfort level. A divine recommendation to protect women from the harassment of unrighteous men should not be abused to justify the harassment and oppression of self-righteous misogynistic men.”

    The Turkish scholar Caner Taslaman gives a more detailed treatment below:

    http://quranic.org/quran_article/22/headscarf_and_veiling.htm

    Seeing how traditional lexicographers tacked the headscarf definition on the word hijab (despite its consistent Quranic usage), it’s not hard to imagine that they could’ve done the same thing with the word khimar. The guy who wrote the article tacitly admits that his interpretation might be an interpolation when he said that the verse was “elliptical”. According to the “Quran alone” method of interpretation, if something is absent from the Quran, it’s not because God forgot but intentionally left it out. And it’s not for us to fill in the blanks or dictate God’s word choice (like some atheists believe).

    “This is why Muslim women cover their heads: because the Qur’an unambiguously orders them to, and there is no qualifying text or hadith or even other lexical possibility to show that the Quranic order might mean anything besides obligation. Rather, the hadiths all bear this meaning out, Muslim scholars are in unanimous agreement about it and have been from the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) down to our own day, and it is even known by all non-Muslim peoples about them.”

    For reasons I gave to Jack, I don’t take the “unanimous agreement” of scholars in to consideration. You know my steelo, Muhammad. :-)

    Regarding non-Muslims, many agree with Edip and Caner:

    “John Esposito, professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, writes that the customs of veiling and seclusion of women in early Islam were assimilated from the conquered Persian and Byzantine societies and then later on they were viewed as appropriate expressions of Quranic norms and values. The Qur’an does not stipulate veiling or seclusion; on the contrary, it tends to emphasize the participation of religious responsibility of both men and women in society.[22] He claims that “in the midst of rapid social and economic change when traditional security and support systems are increasingly eroded and replaced by the state, (…) hijab maintains that the state has failed to provide equal rights for men and women because the debate has been conducted within the Islamic framework, which provides women with equivalent rather than equal rights within the family.”[23]”

    “Bloom and Blair also write that the Qur’an does not require women to wear veils; rather, it was a social habit picked up with the expansion of Islam. In fact, since it was impractical for working women to wear veils, “A veiled woman silently announced that her husband was rich enough to keep her idle.”[24]”

    “What valid points has she made?”

    I find that I disagree with her more on her social-political views than her theological views. For example, I disagree with her views on profiling and her apparent belief in the superiority of pasty non-Muslim men over their brown Muslim counterparts (a belief she shares with Saira Khan and other needy immigrant Muslimahs). But I agree with her views on mixed gender prayer and female Imams. Although it’s considered a innovation by Sunni and Shia, there are numerous antecedents in non-sectarian Islamic history. When Raheel Raza led the prayers for a predominately “Quran alone” congregation in Oxford, they considered it controversial. But women of the “Quran alone” view like Sanobar Tafazoli, Maryam Jenna, Faridah Salek, Martha Schulte, and the woman who introduced me to Islam, led prayers over a decade earlier. In the 7th century, the Warrior/Imam Ghazala al-Haruriyya led a mixed-gender congregation in Basra. And men and women have been praying in Mecca just as long (much to the chagrin of the Saudis).

    “How so?”

    For starters, she doesn’t advocate profiling. And I think she her understanding of Islam isn’t as superficial as Asra’s.

  • muhammad ‘abd-al haqq

    Michael Elwood,

    “What’s happening in Palestine is objectionable, but no more objectionable than what’s happening Darfur, Kurdistan, and elsewhere.”

    i don’t understand what you mean here. Are you suggesting that Muslims don’t care about these issues as well? Or that we overemphasize the Palestine issue?

    “Every time the Quran uses the word hijab it means barrier, not headscarf (see 7:46, 17:45, 19:17, 33:53, 38:32, 41:5 and 42:51). However, women should dress how they want without secular and religious extremist dictating to them.”

    While i agree that women should be able to dress how they want regardless of secular or religious pressure, i hope your are not suggesting that the headcovering that is mistakenly referred to as hijab(for reasons i won’t go into here), is somehow not religiously obligatory?

    There is an article here on the teaching but the author somehow draws the wrong conclusion from his analysis :)

    http://quranicteachings.co.uk/khimar.htm

    The Quranic verse, Say to believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment save such as is outward; and let them drape their headcoverings over their bosoms, and not reveal their adornment . . . (Quran 24:31) is a specific requirement for Muslim women to cover their hair.

    The word headcoverings(Ar. singular khimar, plural khumur), more familiar in our times as the hijab, is a word of well-known signification among scholars of Arabic, at their forefront the authors of the classical lexical reference dictionaries like Zabidi’s encyclopedic Taj al-arus or Mutarrizi’s al-Mughrib, both of which define khimar as a woman’s headcovering; or Fayumi’s al-Misbah or Fayruzabadi’s al-Qamus, which both define it as a cloth with which a woman covers her head. The Taj al-�arus also notes that a man’s turban is sometimes referred to as a khimar because a man covers his head with it in like manner as a woman covers her head with her khimar when he disposes it in the Arab manner, turning part of it under the jaws nearly in the same manner in which a woman disposes her khimar. These authorities are cited in the eight-volume Arabic-English Lexicon of Edward William Lane, who describes the khimar as a woman’s muffler or veil with which she covers her head and the lower part of her face.

    There is no other lexical sense in which the word khimar may be construed. The wording of the command, however, and let them drape their headcoverings over their bosoms, sometimes confuses nonspecialists in the sciences of the Qur’an, and in truth, interpreting the Qur’an does sometimes require in-depth knowledge of the historical circumstances in which the various verses were revealed. In this instance, the elliptical form of the divine command is because women at the time of the revelation wore their headcovers tied back behind their necks, as some village women still do in Muslim countries, leaving the front of the neck bare, as well as the opening (Ar. singular jayb, plural juyub, translated as bosoms in the above verse) at the top of the dress. The Islamic revelation confirmed the practice of covering the head, understood from the use of the word khimar in the verse, but also explained that the custom of the time was not sufficient and that women were henceforth to tie the headcover in front and let it drape down to conceal the throat and the dress’s opening at the top.

    This is why Muslim women cover their heads: because the Qur’an unambiguously orders them to, and there is no qualifying text or hadith or even other lexical possibility to show that the Quranic order might mean anything besides obligation. Rather, the hadiths all bear this meaning out, Muslim scholars are in unanimous agreement about it and have been from the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) down to our own day, and it is even known by all non-Muslim peoples about them.

    “The Quran also mentioned (in clear language) that the prophet Solomon had statues made (see 34:13). From whence this thin skin and iconoclasm, no one knows.”

    i will have to research iconoclasm in Islam further and get back to you

    “But I defended Asra because some of the points she makes are valid.”

    What valid points has she made?

    “I think Irshad Manji and others are more effective in communicating the criticisms that Asra is trying to make.”

    How so?

    Allahu A’lam

  • muhammad ‘abd-al haqq

    Jack,

    i think the idea that Allah should have been clearer in his Qur’an or in any holy book is based on the assumption that “clear” is not subjective. How do we account for the ones who do understand it clearly? The Qur’an explains why outsiders and even those calling themselves Muslims cannot understand the Qur’an clearly:

    [Qur'an 2:269} He grants wisdom to whom he pleases. And whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good. And none mind but men of understanding.

    [Qur'an 41:44] And if We had made it a Qur’an in a foreign tongue, they would have said: Why have not its messages been made clear? What! a foreign (tongue) and an Arab! Say: It is to those who believe a guidance and a healing, and those who believe not, there is a deafness in their ears and it is obscure to them. These are called to from a place afar.

    [Qur'an 17:45-46] When you recite the Qur’an, we place an invisible barrier between you and those who do not believe in the life to come. We have put covers on their hearts that prevents them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears.

    [Qur'an 3:7] He it is Who has revealed the Book to thee; some of its verses are decisive — they are the basis of the Book — and others are allegorical. Then those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. And none knows its interpretation save Allah, and those firmly rooted in knowledge. They say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord. And none mind except men of understanding.

    or alternatively: He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves – and these are the essence of the divine writ – as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer – albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.

    Another critical mistake that anti-Islam critics or just general critics of Islam make is that they fail to understand that the Qur’an must be taken as a whole, holistically. This is why scholars who understood “idribuhunna” to mean “strike/beat” still believed that the Qur’an does not advocate domestic violence. This is why, even among traditionalists, those who beat their wives and try to use the Qur’an as a support of their behaviour, only do so because they are predisposed to wife-beating.

    “…the Quran isn’t able to overcome human shortcomings when it comes to interpretation, is it really a likely candidate for Divine Revelation?”

    As stated before the Qur’an is not a living being that needs to overcome anything. Rather it a text, a revealed divine text for Muslims, that is interpreted by humans. Any shortcomings or deficiencies in understanding fall to the moral agent reading the text, the human being. Yes we should expect a divine revelation to be perfect, but to argue that because people do not understand it, it is imperfect and therefore not to be considered of divine origin, is fallacious. One does not effect the other. One’s apprehension of truth does not affect it’s truth.

    “What I don’t get – or rather, what I find somewhat disappointing – is that Muslims do get all riled up with righteous indignation about Palestine, and the right to wear hijab and disparaging pictures of the prophet Muhammad, with demonstrations and petitions and Internet discussions and all that, but I hardly see the same amount of zeal when it comes to wrongs within the fold of Islam.”

    What are considered wrongs within the fold of Islam by outsiders are not necessarily seen as wrongs by Muslims themselves. The Palestine/Israeli conflict, hijab, disparaging the Prophet(as), and the right to practice Islam are real issues to Muslims. Non-Muslims may not see these issues as important and indeed go so far as to say “assimilate!”, “give me a break!”, or “it’s not that big a deal!”

    “That’s what I like about Nomani. She gets worked up on the things I think Muslims ought to get worked up about.”

    We are trying to show you that Asra Nomani is getting worked about things that only non-Muslims care about or that only Muslims dissatisfied with Islam care about. Her legitimate concerns and criticisms of Muslims are few and far between. When she equates wrongful actions committed by Muslims with “things wrong with Islam”, she looks like other police blotter reporters/”scholars”. When she tries to deceitfully hide her intention to change Islam under the guise of reform, she loses all credibility among Muslims.

    “Again, I can refer back to all sorts of demonstrations, petitions, action by CAIR, etc, discussions about Palestine, civil and religious rights for Muslims and Muhammad cartoons;”

    These are legitimate concerns among Muslims that’s why we demonstrate, petition and take action.

    “…but somehow taking a stance against putting people in the back row and denying women leadership positions isn’t quite as popular.”

    You fail to realize that although female leadership is an important issue among Muslims, women leading mixed prayers, or praying side by side with men in a masjid, or praying on the other side of the room are all forms of bid’ah, innovation in religion. Criticizing women praying in the back row only becomes legitimate if the criticism is framed in the context of justice and precedence in the practice of the Prophet(as)rather than the context of leadership and “equality”. Praying behind someone doe not make one inferior.

    A woman trying to agitate for this type of change is really trying to appropriate power for herself by being like men. Her view of “equality” is rooted in her westernized worldview and her view of equality is “identical to men equals equality”, even though women are not identical to men. In doing so she is violating Islamic understandings of equity, fairness and justice.

    “How many Muslims rallied to support Tariq Ramadan when he called for a moratorium on the hudud?”

    That is only because mainstream Muslims fear that Ramadan is trying to do away with hudud, by suggesting that punishments stipulated by Allah are somehow subject to the approval and abrogation of men simply because the “modern” world may have adopted views against certain hudud punishments. Again, issues seen as crucial to non-Muslims may be viewed differently by Muslims.

    “I see all sorts of video’s and articles praising the virtues of hijab, and stressing it’s obligatory character; but scarcely any video where Muslims take a stance about peer pressuring women into wearing hijab.”

    i believe you answered yourself here. If something is seen as obligatory by mainstream Muslims, it’s easy to see how many would see taking a stance against peer-pressuring women into hijab as condoning being “uncovered”. Of course more should be done to expound on the idea of “no compulsion in religion”, so i agree with you there; hijab is made obligatory by Allah, not by men, so women should wear it out of religious conviction(ie voluntarily), not because of coercion from fellow Muslims. Often you will find women pressuring, ostracizing, and criticizing women behind the issue of hijab more than men! Especially in Western sociocultural contexts

    Allahu A’lam

  • muhammad ‘abd-al haqq

    Dawood,

    “Muhammad: I’m not a mufassir or a faqih, so what I believe doesn’t really matter anyway as I can in no way affect the generality of understanding on this particular issue.”

    You shouldn’t downplay your knowledge or your effect on readers.

    “But my point in posting all of the tafasir with translation was to show that, at least from my own survey of their works, even the classical mufassirs did not believe that the verse condoned domestic violence of any sort even though they understood ضرب as “strike”.”

    My point is in fact similar. Even though i take the moderate position that i mentioned, which states that the Qur’an doesn’t state that it is permissible to “strike” a woman for any reason, i still mention that even the traditionalists and traditional orthodox Muslims who believe that the word is translated as “strike/beat” still do not believe it condones actions that would today be defined as domestic violence.

    “And that, in actual fact, they went to great lengths to try and mitigate this possibility, which I would argue was based on the Prophet’s own example and teachings.”

    i argue that because the traditions report that the Prophet(as)commanded the men never to beat their wives, never to strike her face, or hit her in a way that would cause harm, the word is not properly translated as “beat/strike”.

    Otherwise we are left with a contradiction and the idea that 1)these are not the actual words of the Prophet(as)and the hadith are false as they contradict the Qur’an or 2)Muhammad(as) commanded something contrary to the Qur’an and he was given free reign to interpret the Qur’an. Note: Many Muslims erroneously believe that the Prophet(as) interpreted the Qur’an.But the correct view is that he faithfully reported what was given to him and his “explanation” of the Qur’an was really a demonstration of the application of it’s principles.

    “Who knows, it may even be a case of naskh al-qur’an bi’l-sunna… for those who believe it is even possible. :P (just lightening the mood a little)”

    :) i doubt that anti-Muslim critics who claim that Islam advocates domestic violence know what nasikh al-qur’an bi’l sunna is. Of course i do not believe neither that Qur’an abrogates Qur’an or that sunna abrogates Qur’an. And the idea that Qur’an abrogates sunna is ridiculous in that it ignores the relationship between Qur’an and sunna.

    “To me, the fact that ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah understood the verse in such a way, is definitely a very strong indication that a) ضرب was taken by the early Muslims to mean strike, and b) ‘Ata saw that it should not be applied literally in this case, and attempted to mitigate as the Prophet had done, perhaps even relying on the Prophet’s own example.”

    i agree except that i would say alot of early Muslims. i do not think that a consensus of early Muslim scholars or Muslim “laity” believe the word should be translated as such. i could be wrong so i am researching it.

    “To me, if it had meant any of the other possibilities, ‘Ata would not have needed to state what is reported and recorded from him.”

    i disagree

    “But if others disagree, that’s cool, it’s just my 2 cents no more and no less. My point is that whether one believes the term used literally means “strike” or not is irrelevant, because ultimately there are avenues from within the religious tradition with which to argue the case successfully that even if it did, it does not sanction or allow domestic violence of any sort. And I think on that all of us can agree.”

    This i can completely agree with.

    Allahu A’lam

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    Nice article well argued

  • iSherif

    A Must Read for all Muslims: “Trends and Flaws in Some Anti-Muslim Writing as Exemplified by Ibn Warraq” by Jeremiah D. McAuliffe, Jr., Ph.D.

    http://www.city-net.com/~alimhaq/text/warraq.htm

  • Michael Elwood

    @Jack

    “No.”

    I don’t know how else to interpret you’re repeated references to what “significant amount of believers” and “a lot of Muslim men” believe. As if to suggest that the number of people who adhere to a particular belief renders it valid.

    “For starters, it should speak more clearly. You’d think that if God was serious about not wanting men to beat their spouses, he’d state so plain and clear in his revelation: ‘Beating your wife is a sin, it will make you go to hell, and if you do so, then you’re going to get spend some time in jail and pay for injuries’ instead of saying: ‘You know, in some instances, if all else fails, I guess it’s okay to beat your wife.’”

    You’re killing me with these coulda-woulda-shouldas, Jack. I tried to convey that with my admittedly smartalecky comment about M&Ms. Even if God spoke clearly to the exacting standards of persnickety atheists, provided glasses for people with seeing problems, and paid for tutors for the people with reading comprehension problems (or whatever other hypothetical you can think of), I doubt that it would eliminate the possibility of misinterpretation. You really underestimate the ability of some people to engage in eisegesis instead of exegesis. I gave examples in the previous post of the way some exegetes got around the clear meaning of the Quran. The only way to eliminate the possibility of misinterpretation is for God to rob humanity of their free will and make it so that they can only perceive things the way He does. As previously noted, a lot of atheists would object to such an arrangement.

    I also suspect that the same atheists who play both sides of the free will debate, will play both sides of the clarity debate. If the hypothetical verse that you suggested existed in the Quran, I suspect some atheist will ask:

    “Why do those barbaric Muslims need a ‘holy’ book to tell them not to beat their wives? We civilized non-Muslims don’t need a ‘holy’ book to state the obvious! Is that verse the only thing preventing those big, bad, Muslim men from beating their wives?”

    Note that a similar ridiculous argument has been made by some critics about the Quran’s moral injunctions, including it’s repeated prohibition of murder.

    “What the f.., Man! You can just bet your life wife-beaters will latch on to that and justify their actions using it. Besides, I don’t think that wife-beating is justified in any circumstance anyhow. So what were You thinking?”

    I don’t agree with the interpretation that advocates wife-beating (for reasons I gave in a previous post). So I don’t think there is anything for wife-beaters to latch on to and justify their actions. I also suspect most people make moral decisions independent of scriptures using, or not using, their God-given reason, aql (note that because people are capable of making moral decisions independent of revelation, Muslim moral philosophers believe that they were still responsible for their decisions absent revelation). Those who are inclined to beat their wives, had that inclination independent of the Quran. Those who are inclined not to beat their wives, had that inclination independent of the Quran. When both read the Quran, these inclinations leads them to interpret the Quran differently (via eisegesis in the case of the former, and via exegesis in the case of the latter). The Quran even mentions this dubious method of interpreting scripture:

    5:13 It was a consequence of their violating the covenant that we condemned them, and we caused their hearts to become hardened. Consequently, they took the words out of context, and disregarded some of the commandments given to them. You will continue to witness betrayal from them, excepting a few of them. You shall pardon them, and disregard them. GOD loves those who are benevolent.

    By the way, I’m not sure how you thought I believed wife-beating was justified in any circumstance. Perhaps you’ve confused me with another poster. Or perhaps I wasn’t “clear” enough.

    “You yourself note three major issues where you think the Islamic exegetes have been wrong for ages about what the Quran says. But if the Quran isn’t able to overcome human shortcomings when it comes to interpretation, is it really a likely candidate for Divine Revelation?”

    The Quran can’t overcome human shortcomings when it comes to interpretation, or do anything else for that matter, because it’s an inanimate object. Humans can overcome their shortcomings when it comes to interpretation, however. They can do this by applying themselves and not putting the onus of their moral and exegetical shortcomings on God, the Quran, the dude down the street, etc. That was the point I was making about traditional exegetes, and why I believe the Quran is still an excellent candidate for Divine Revelation.

    “The difference between the relationship between God and his revelation on the one hand, and scientists and the natural world on the other, is that scientist didn’t create the natural world, nor did it emanate from their perfect essence.”

    “Therefore, looking at it from a non-theist perspective, there is no reason to think the natural world should be perfect or perspicuous. But with revelation, it’s quite a different story, isn’t it?”

    You’re right. I was trying to give an example using ayat in the Quran and in nature. I meant to say God in both instances.

    “So speaking plainly and clearly and preventing rather obvious misunderstandings is ‘forcing’ people to see things a certain way? Wow, so I guess great science writers and popularizers are just being coercive instead of just illuminating. Or that science teacher in high school, who made you grasp really hard to understand material, I guess he was forcing you too, right?”

    “Utter nonsense of course. Clear communication and preventing misunderstandings is not ‘forcing’ anybody, it’s being clear, plain and precise about what you’re trying to convey. I’d expect nothing less from Allah, who is after all, All-Knowing, All-Wise.”

    No, clearly communicating, which is what the Quran does, isn’t forcing people to see things a certain way. However, the only way to eliminate the possibility of misunderstanding/misinterpretations is to somehow force them see things a certain way.

    “Even if that were true, that would only mean, logically speaking, that God therefore cannot exist.”

    Uh, no. It means that some individuals and groups are playing both sides of the debate and that, logically, it’s an incoherent argument.

    “And don’t you think manufacturers suck for writing obtuse manuals and then blaming the customer if the appliance breaks down for improper use? So if we apply the same logic to Holy Books and their shortcomings… well, you get the picture.”

    I think the customers who blame the manufactures for their reading and technological shortcomings are the ones who suck. But hey, that’s just me.

    “No, it’s just that you happen to disagree with my presupposition – This one: “After all, one would expect an all-knowing and foreseeing Entity to anticipate the later confusion and act on it beforehand” – and then forget how you tried to rebut it with an array of arguments.”

    That’s true.

    “To the victims of injustices, oppression, cruelties, subjugation, intolerance, and feelings of superiority being justified by faith, that probably isn’t the main issue.”

    That’s partially true. The Quran doesn’t advocate those things, but some traditional exegetes and some secular critics claim a causal relationship (based on the supposed ambiguity of the Quran and its non-divine origins). So it’s partially relevant. That criticism is more commonly made of Quran than it is of other scriptures. Despite the Mongol hordes, Japanese kamikazes, and violently oppressive governments in Sri Lanka and Thailand, I’ve never heard critics attribute the problem to ambiguity in Buddhist scriptures. Such a courtesy isn’t afforded Islamic scripture, however.

    “What I don’t get – or rather, what I find somewhat disappointing – is that Muslims do get all riled up with righteous indignation about Palestine, and the right to wear hijab and disparaging pictures of the prophet Muhammad, with demonstrations and petitions and Internet discussions and all that, but I hardly see the same amount of zeal when it comes to wrongs within the fold of Islam.”

    Join the club! A lot of Muslims, including yours truly, don’t get it either. What’s happening in Palestine is objectionable, but no more objectionable than what’s happening Darfur, Kurdistan, and elsewhere. Every time the Quran uses the word hijab it means barrier, not headscarf (see 7:46, 17:45, 19:17, 33:53, 38:32, 41:5 and 42:51). However, women should dress how they want without secular and religious extremist dictating to them. God tells Muslims in the Quran (in clear language, of course) to ignore those who mock Islam, not make a spectacle (see 4:140 and 6:68). The Quran also mentioned (in clear language) that the prophet Solomon had statues made (see 34:13). From whence this thin skin and iconoclasm, no one knows.

    “That’s what I like about Nomani. She gets worked up on the things I think Muslims ought to get worked up about.”

    I think Muslims should decide what they get worked up over, and non-Muslims should decide what they get worked up over. But I defended Asra because some of the points she makes are valid. However, she makes them in a self-defeating way. For example, you’re not going to endear yourself to brown skin Muslims like me by advocating profiling and suggesting that your pasty non-Muslim husband understands Islam more. I think Irshad Manji and others are more effective in communicating the criticisms that Asra is trying to make.

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