Assalamu Alaykom (Peace be upon you),

So, I thought I would attend the Friday-prayer( Salatul Jumu’ah) with another Muslim-woman that lives around the corner from me. In being indoors for the last few days, I invited my dear friend to attend the khutba(lecture) with me. She accepted my invitation. So, we departed from our apartments, got into the car and was on our way. We were definitely excited about this. In going to the mosque, we found ourselves in a long line of cars awaiting for a chance at a parking-spot. In our short wait, we giggled and chatted about trivial matters. Once we were able to get a parking-spot, we quickly jumped out the car and headed towards the women’s entrance. We finally made it removed our shoes.

Once the lecture started, we sat quietly in anticipation for an enlightening afternoon. However, this quickly changed. The lecturer began with a narration by the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stating that:

“A Muslim community will stop being on the straight path once the: youth go astray, rebellious women appear, and men stop going out to perform jihad”

So, my dear friend and I sat flabbergasted and in awe. This particular lecturer went on and on about ‘astray youth, rebellious women, and men going out to perform jihad’. However, he failed in refusing to discuss the causes of the youth going astray or the reason(s) behind rebellious women appearin. I’m still not sure what ‘rebellious’ women are. Also, jihad in the context he spoke of was inappropriate. Jihad is Arabic for struggling for the sake of Allah (God). The biggest struggle we can undergo in battling is our own individual selves, our desires. We struggle everyday in being upright people. We struggle everyday in giving everyone their due rights. This is true jihad. This is more of an appropriate form of jihad that should’ve been dealt with, instead of talking about going out to fight.

I’m sorry, but some of these lecturers need to get themselves together because American Muslims are living in a different culture that is distinct from other places. The problems that an American Muslim will face will probably be different than an Afghani or Pakistani Muslim and vice versa. It is this constant rhetoric from these lecturers that throws me and others for a loop. Why don’t these men understand that second, third, and fourth-generation American Muslims do not hold the same cultural-baggage as recent immigrants. The happenings of now should be attended to. There must be a new look at how Islam is practiced in America. We cannot continuously bring along cultural-baggage to a country that is different than ‘back home’. So, many American Muslims continuously sit through countless lectures hearing things that they can’t relate to due to this cultural-barrier. The youth isn’t going to listen to some random person that is ranting about things they can’t relate to in their daily lives.

Also, we must turn away from this obsession over obedience. Submission belongs to God and God alone. A fruitful and well-grounded relationship is rooted deeply in mutual partnership. If a relationship is built upon tyranny, obedience, and a power-struggle then it may not last long. There should be equality between the two individuals. If not, then you may have someone within the relationship rebel against the other. It is rather absurd to believe that someone rebels for no reason. No, there is a reason behind this. Instead of ranting on and on about rebellious women, why not talk about why a person would want to rebel in the first place. Let’s talk about the behind-the-scenes stuff that occurs. I’ve heard some dynamic lectures from some great imams discussing: domestic violence, sexual assault, women’s rights, marital love, and etc. However, there aren’t enough of these lectures happening. Unfortunately, there are many communities that are firmly rooted in compliance. Compliance doesn’t cut it for me. It isn’t about blindly obeying or submitting to anything or anyone. One must ask questions and seek for those answers in order to be at one with themselves. If an answer isn’t satisfactory then you continue on in your search. You don’t just sit back and accept something. Oh no, never that. The first word that was revealed to the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was ‘iqra’. Iqra means to read in Arabic. So, we must move away from this blind-following of individuals, no matter what their title may be. In Islam, one turns to the Qur’an and the example of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In Islam, there isn’t a central authority. The Qur’an legislates for one to use their reasoning, their logic, the example of the prophet Muhammad and the ayats(evidences) from the Qur’an to live a satisfying life. Islam doesn’t restrict one from being an active learner or from asking questions. No, you are told to bring your questions. You are told to reflect and to ponder. You shouldn’t just sit back and listen. You must not be like heedless cattle in a herd. No, you use what God has given you- your intellect. So, I am saying right now that we have to move away from simply complying to lectures that aren’t applicable to right now.

As an American Muslim, my experience(s) are centered on my daily life in America. It isn’t dependent upon anything else other than my experience(s) as a Black Muslim American woman. I’m sorry, but I can’t accept someone’s cultural-baggage from elsewhere as being my baggage. This can’t be the case for me. I just hope that some of these imams and lecturers will begin to understand that the American Muslim experience is different from a Muslim’s experience(s) in another country. American Muslims have their own problems and qualms to deal with on a daily basis. It is time to allow for American Muslims to create their own narrative. There’s nothing wrong with being an American-Muslim. It is just problematic when American Muslims are being told as a collective body to abide by cultural-norms that aren’t applicable to right now. This is America and American Muslims are trying to find their way. The last thing we need to hear is how things are ‘back home’. I’m sorry, but your cultural-baggage doesn’t cut it here. So, don’t try to spin Islam to make your cultural-baggage legitimate. Islam doesn’t oppress. Islam liberates. So, take that crap you think is Islam and throw it in the trash.

Anyways, I will go back to the hadith that he selected for the lecture. If he really wanted to do something beneficial, he should’ve elaborated on this issue of youth going astray, women becoming rebellious and men going out for jihad. In too many lectures, I hear about problems, but I rarely hear about solutions. Or I hear about consequences of actions, but never the causes. We shouldn’t dance around issues, but we should have a well-rounded talk about them. Instead of constantly complaining about this, that and the other, we need to just cut to the chase. We need to develop better ways of handling issues instead of giving things a cultural-slant. Why can’t we just focus on being good people? Islam is a full way of life, but someone too many lecturers focus on these trivial things. And too many times, people walk out of mosques not learning anything because the lecturer was so far from the reality of the people. Let’s get things in check the next time we want to go to the minbar to speak about something. Let’s have a real conversation that talks about causes and effects. Let’s discuss how we can help alleviate these problems and how this is apart of Islam. Islam is about being a mercy to the people. Islam shouldn’t be a burden. Islam should never be burden or else we’re doing something wrong.

So, our Friday-prayer experience was interesting. It was only one experience out of several, but hopefully from this one experience someone can think about the importance of connecting to their audience before speaking to them. It is very important to understand the reality of your audience before delivering a message. I mean…what good is a message if you’re not conveying it and your audience is unable to connect to it? So, let’s look at Islam as a way to alleviate burdens instead of being a burden. Islam is a way of life that is beautiful, but when a man/woman takes it upon him/herself to educate a group he/she should think twice about the message he/she intends to deliver.

“Halal Sex” and Seeking Marriage as the Cure

Marriage

One topic that is always in demand is marriage. There is always room at the dinner-table, in the mosque, at a gathering, or even at a wedding to discuss marriage. Unfortunately, the topic of marriage typically include the references of “halal sex” and “fornication”. You’re probably asking me to clarify what I meant by that last statement. Yes, allow me to elaborate. In many communities, the act of getting married is praised because it is a ‘halal’ way to engage in sexual-relations without the sin of fornication, especially when it comes to the youth. However, the notion that one must get married only for the sake of engaging in sex is problematic. If one was to ask any husband or wife if sex is the end-all or be-all of a marriage than one will quickly understand that sex isn’t going to provide the substance to keep the relationship together. No, I am not saying that sex isn’t important but it definitely isn’t the end-all or be-all of a marriage. Additionally, if one went into a marriage solely for the intention of dealing with their sexual urges than is one really cognizant about the purpose of marriage? Is marriage only about the exchange of a husband and wife fulfilling each other sexually? Or is there more than that?

I’m not here to define or outline anyone’s marriage, but if one was to seek marriage as this magical cure in dealing with sexual urges than this seems shallow. Yes, if one was to get married and indulge in sex then it is ‘halal’ or lawful. Additionally, it is even rewarded by Allah(God) since it is done in a lawful way. However, if one is seeking to only get married for the sole purpose of having sex then what about afterwards? Where does one go once their sexual-needs are satisfied? Unfortunately, the rhetoric geared towards the youth about marriage is more problematic because many youths feel that marriage is their ticket for ‘halal sex’. And I’ve heard numerous times how it would benefit the youth to get married young in order to protect themselves from falling into fornication. Yes, I agree that sex outside of marriage is a major sin in Islam and it can lead to corruptions within societies. However, if the youth is filled with this belief that once they get sexual-urges they should get married then how is this fair to them once they get married and see that marriage is more than sex?

Recently, I had a heart-to-heart conversation with a dear friend about this topic. Many of the Muslim youth are groomed from a young age to value marriage and the beauty of it, but on the other-hand many are given this romanticized view that marriage is their outlet for sexual-frustration. For many of us, we understand that marriage comes with tons of responsibilities and obligations. Additionally, marriage is a place in which the couple can grow individually and together as a couple. Not only grow, but to strive Islamically for paradise. However, does the youth grasp this concept if they are being told constantly that the only way they can have sex is if they get married? Now, I must be fair in this depiction of marriage. I do believe that some parents explain that marriage is not a joke or just a place for sex. However, I’ve always found it, more times than not, that the youth is pushed to get married when they have sexual urges. Yes, I believe in many Western societies that there is an issue of hyper-sexuality happening and occurring right before our eyes, thus the youth is being exposed to sexuality on a daily basis in various ways. Nonetheless, this notion that once a kid gets sexual-feelings is ready for marriage is incorrect. Once we hit the age of puberty or even before, we can experience those urges. However, it doesn’t mean we are ready for marriage or can even grasp the seriousness of marriage.

In saying all of this, I don’t believe that marriage is a cure for horny youth. If anything, the youth should understand the various dimensions of marriage and all that it entails. I’m definitely not advocating fornication, but I am advocating education and a serious talk about sex. It isn’t fair for the youth to feel inclined towards marriage just because they can satisfy their desires because there are a long line of other issues that comes from marriage. And we have to ask if marriage is even appropriate at this point if the young man or woman is only focused on sex. We’ve heard numerous times that sex doesn’t sustain a relationship and isn’t going to hold-up a relationship if there isn’t a general connection between the two spouses.

What exactly does it show the youth that they can easily get married to have ‘halal sex’? Does it really give them the right image of marriage? Does it show them that there is responsibility attached to this choice? Does this truly show them the value of marriage? If anything, it gives the youth this stunted image that marriage is all about the sex. So, if this is the case then does the value of people ever come into play? Are people just places for imposing our sexual desires upon? So, if I knew that my general interest in getting married was to just have sex then this would force me to take a step back to ask some important questions.

1. Do I really understand the purpose of marriage?
2. What am I going to do after the sex is over?
3. Do I truly value this potential spouse as a whole or just as an outlet for my sexual urges?
4. Am I being selfish in thinking that I can be satisfied with only wanting sex out of marriage?

I’ve had so many instances in which I have heard the youth or older individuals saying that they want to get married just for the sex. Of course, they would never come out and blatantly say that, but the message got across. The only reason they wanted to get married was being they had those ‘urges’ and because they wanted to not fall into fornication. In these initial reasons for wanting to get married there wouldn’t be any claim of wanting to be with someone to share their lives with, to grow with religiously or etc. I guess my issue is simply about the notion of ‘halal sex’ and using marriage as a tool into getting it. We all have undergone those years of raging hormones, but we eventually get over it. We understand that these ‘raging’ hormones are just that…raging. However, it doesn’t necessitate for us to believe we can’t control ourselves. However, if someone believe they are ready to get married then go for it. This is ultimately a personal-choice and everyone has that right. However, we shouldn’t seek to find a cure to our ‘raging’ hormones by simply wanting to be with someone for sex. It just makes me wonder about the end results of this act of getting ‘halal sex’ in a marriage and realizing that sex was all you really wanted. So,it just makes me ask if someone really values or even understand marriage if they just wanted to have sex.

Like always, you are always welcomed to email me or comment. Just some thoughts about marriage and sex.

Muslim Youth, Dating, Sexuality, Taboos and Marriage

Assalamu Alaykom,

One of the biggest issues that are occurring throughout many Muslim communities are Muslim-teenagers and young adults getting involved in ‘haraam’ relationships. These relationships develop out of a young man’s or a young woman’s desire in wanting to be with a companion. In being an American Muslim, it is quite troublesome to see the mass amount of sexuality throughout the media and on top of that there are imams, parents, and shuyookh that has disconnected with the realities of many Muslim-youths and adults. The remedy to a young man’s or young woman’s desire in being with a companion is not to tell them that talking to the opposite sex is haraam. No, this is not realistic in the least bit. In most Western societies, men and women communicate on a daily basis for a variety of reasons. Also, we must realize that Islam is a realistic way of life that has given guidance on everything. A Muslim is not in the dark when it comes to most topics because they are guided by the book of Allah and the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), so why are many Muslims indulging in dating?

First, we have to look at the Qur’an and the Sunnah when we are questioning such an issue.

Allah tells us in the Qur’an that he has created a mate for every one of us, thus leading us to acknowledge that the want of being with a companion is a natural feeling:

“And Allah has made for you your mates of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best.” [Noble Quran 16:72]

However, this want or need is only restricted within the context of marriage to preserve morality within a society. So, how does one move from knowing that marriage is the only lawful option in being with the opposite sex? They proceed in the process of marriage, right? Of course. Furthermore, the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) even encouraged those that can get married to do so to prevent fitna(trouble, corruption) from arising throughout the lands. What are these issues? Fornication and dating. Why is it a problem to date?

Allah says in the interpretation of the meaning:

“And come not near to unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a faahishah (a great sin) and an evil way.” (Sura Al-Israa # 17 ayah # 32)

So, in Islam it is known that steps that leads to fornication should be cut off for one to preserve their religion. So, if we understand this notion that fornication is a major sin and dating is a step towards fornication then why are people still dating when it is wrong? Great question.

The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said to the ummah (community):

“O you young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty.” [Al-Bukhari]

The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is telling us the multiple reasons of why a person should get married. One of the many reasons that a person may date is because they are usually desirous of an individual, thus unable to lower their gaze. Also, it helps a person from going forth in engaging in sexual activity that would otherwise be reserved for marriage.

Also, It is narrated by Anas that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

“When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half.”

This hadith is apart of a bigger hadith that is in Sahih-Bukhari. The hadith in Sahih-Bukhari expounds on the meaning of “the other half”. The “other half” means to protect one’s tongue. The prophet Muhammad said: “If you can protect what is between your lips (your tongue) and your legs( your private parts) then you will be given paradise”.

So, once a person fulfills the act of getting married they are keeping themselves from engaging in illegal sexual activity because their mate have become lawful for them in having sexual intercourse. So, once a person protects one of the two things that the prophet Muhamamd told us of then it becomes important to go forth in protecting the tongue from slander, gossip, backbiting an etc.

Additionally, the prophet Muhammad continued to warn his nation about this issue of marriage by stating that:

Al-Tirmidhi #3090, Narrated Abu Hurairah, r.a.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied asks your daughter in marriage, accede to his request. If you do not do so, there will be temptation on Earth and extensive corruption.’ [Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah transmitted it.]

The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has not forgotten anything. Islam is so detailed in regards to this issue that the issues we are seeing today are the direct effects of what we aren’t doing throughout our Muslim communities. Islam doesnt deny any person the right to experiencing the natural feeling of wanting to be with another person of the opposite sex. This is not even the issue. However, the issue is when an individual do experience these feelings and feel like going forth in fulfilling their sexuality through unlawful means. It is very easy to tell someone to fear Allah, which is great advice, but if the dialogue about marriage isnt opened up and spoken about then it will remain a taboo among many Muslim families.

This taboo about sexuality and marriage for many families have led many Muslims, especially the young to indulge in unislamic relationships. The only way to mend these problems is to open up the dialogue. Anytime a male or female states they are seeking to get married then this issue is quite serious, especially if they are in their mid-teens, twenties and thirties. The dialogue must be honest, expansive and open. The topic of marriage is serious and important. All of those seeking to get married and those seeking to help in the marriage process should lay out the responsibilities, advantages, Islamic rulings, possible problems that would arise, and etc. The dialogue about marriage isn’t supposed to be sugar-coated or made to seem easy, but to simply inform the uninformed. If there are more open conversations about marriage then there will be less accounts of dating and unislamic relations between men and women.

So, open the conversation up in your local masjid, in your home, at your school and in your social-circles. Listen to those that wanting to fulfill half of their religion and wanting to seek out the lawful option in being with a companion. Make the conversation beneficial, realistic and worthwhile. Atleast the one thing that any person can do is to simply plant the seed of knowledge and allow it to blossom from there. Islam is a simple and beautiful way of life. So, allow Islam to be the guide and put your faith in Allah.

She Is Apart Of Our Muslim-Youth

Her imagination is the catalyst to something spectacular
She is apart of our Muslim-youth
A mind not yet molded to the mold of those who have forgotten the beauty of dreaming
Her mind is untamed
To the point in which she thinks outside of borders
Painting outside of the box
Writing into the margins
Not caring about boundaries
Not afraid to shout
She is apart of our Muslim-youth
Exploring places we have yet explored
Questioning things we have yet questioned
Too confined to the mold in which we were molded
we do not question anymore nor seek to shout with our mouths
Our thoughts have become imprisoned to the four walls of our skulls
Our words have been closed in between the margins of our notebook pads
Our boundaries have limited us to a confinement in which imagination is punishable to the highest extent
She laughs at our adult-ways as she scribbles outside of margins, onto floors, on tables, and across walls
Inspiring to set off a revolution somehow
somewhere
Creating dreams that will change our nation
Inspire our youth
Creating dreams that will change our world to the point in which she is limitless and without borders
She is the face of Islam
She is the voice of Islam
She is the revolution that is here to stay
She is the catalyst to something spectacular
She is apart of our Muslim-youth