When You’re Gay and Muslim – Finding Allah’s Meaning in All of It

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/altmuslim/2017/07/when-youre-gay-and-muslim-finding-allahs-meaning-in-it-all/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaignFBCP-MU&utm_content=altmuslim

Waheed Jensen is a Muslim male in his mid 20’s, struggling in this world with being young, open-minded and gay, trapped in a global community of Muslims who claim to follow Islam but lack the application of its most basic tenets. Working to make the world a better place for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. A version of this article appeared on Altmuslimah and VirtualMosque.com.

Screenshot_2017-11-19-14-54-20.png

Ever since I began trying to understand life, one of the crippling realizations about the Muslim communities I reached was this: We tend to bury our problems in a dark hole, dismiss them and hope they will never come back to haunt us. But they often do. We overlook many of our familial, social and cultural issues until they multiply and are about to explode in our faces; at that point, we are notorious for pointing fingers and crying over spilt milk.

Our room is filled with elephants that we barely have an inch to stand, yet we remain oblivious and hope things will get better.

Allow me today to describe one of those elephants. A strange elephant. Allow me to dissect it and hand it over to you, that you may ponder and hopefully open your heart and mind.

Let me start off by saying these three words: I am gay.

Even though you do not know who I am, and maybe the mere fact that I just came out to you right this instant may offend you, confuse you or drive you away from reading the remainder of this article. Let me assure you, this is not one of those articles that tries to promote homosexuality or deliver an airbrushed and Islam-oriented version of all those pro-homosexuality arguments.

Yes, I am gay and I am Muslim, and I am here to offer you a small glimpse into a journey of struggles, passions and hopes. I do not intend to delve into the story of Prophet Lut and his people, talk about the evolution and progression of the LGBT community during the past century, present arguments for or against same-sex relations, or even try to prove my own opinion. I really hope you can read and reflect, and I pray that this small effort of bringing the picture a little closer to you might make the slightest bit of difference in raising awareness, and hopefully open healthy discussions on the topic.

I wholeheartedly believe, in concordance with Islam and its teachings, that sodomy is a major sin. I am against same-sex marriage and intercourse, and I am not in favour of any progressive movements that attempt to explain Quranic verses about People of Lut or sodomy from a modernist or post-modernist approach – in other words, arguments that try to find a leeway and claim that that is a legitimate Islamic perspective.

I hope that this will not drive away readers who are excited about the topic but may be uncomfortable with my statements. I have adopted this position after years of introspection, research, counselling and personal prayer, and I am coming forth today to share with you some of those experiences.

Why Am I Different?

Homosexuality has been present in humanity for centuries, and for as long as it has been there, homosexuals have been struggling with themselves, their families and society at large. To me personally, there was always something different. I could feel it in me from a very young age. Something that I could not explain to others because I thought they would not understand, let alone accept, or maybe because I was too young and immature at the time that I was not entirely sure what ‘it’ was.

It crystallized around puberty; when all the raging hormones started kicking in, those tendencies became obvious. And then the real struggle began.

The struggle led to an explosion of questions. “Why am I different? Why am I not like the rest of my friends or family members? Is this even normal? Am I sick?” Not finding the proper answers, I kept on putting these questions aside. “Maybe it’ll go away. Maybe it’s just a phase.” In my case, it never went away and it was not a phase.

With time I learned that this is something abhorred religiously, culturally and socially. So I tried to adapt. “How do I balance between the feelings and tendencies I have with what my religion, culture and social norms dictate?” So I began a journey of self-exploration and interacting with others, learning from religion, media as well as prominent persons, like religious scholars and major social figures. My schemas kept changing, and I kept on adapting.

Many of us may be brave enough to rebel against what others seem to ‘dictate’ on us, while others suppress their urges, often hiding their identities from those closest to them, generally out of fear, or maybe because they are not just ready to come out yet. I belong to the latter group.

To this date, I have never had the courage to tell my parents or close family members, but I have come out to a close friend of mine a few months ago, and he was extremely supportive Alhamdulillah (all praises to Allah).

One of the most dangerous pitfalls I have personally experienced was thinking that God hated me. He was mad at me. “I must have done something wrong in my life to deserve this ‘punishment’… If God does not accept homosexuality, then why am I a homosexual?” Whether Muslim or not, people struggling in silence can be more prone to deviating to dangerous paths.

So, you find many struggling homosexuals also dealing with bullying, drinking problems, substance abuse, domestic violence, poor academic performance, career problems, pornography or sex addictions, sexually-transmitted diseases, mood disorders like depression and anxiety, and many other issues. (1) I had my own share of bullying, academic problems and mood disorders. Our struggles multiply with time, and many even contemplate suicide.

This is especially true in cases where the individual tries to discuss the issue – often it is just those desires or thoughts that are tackled, not the actual act – with his/her parents or family members who are not receptive to those ideas. If not shown sympathy, care and love, he/she is often shunned, harassed, scorned and sometimes even tortured.

A lot of gay men and women are forced into arranged marriages, taken to local Imams to ‘heal them from their calamity and wrath of God’, or even killed. (2) Some of them take their own lives by themselves. Others live in constant torment while some flee their homes and families in search for a more welcoming environment. That and many have not even yet engaged in any sexual acts whatsoever.

Why We Have Difficulty with Other Muslims

This is why I, along with many fellow homosexual Muslims, find the Western alternative very striking: It offers acceptance and understanding. Things that we dearly miss in our communities, even though we may realize deep down that there is something terribly wrong, the fact that there is someone who accepts us and fights for us and not against us is incredibly more appealing. When we try to talk to other Muslim seemingly-pious and God-conscious brothers and sisters about our sexuality and are shunned by their lack of empathy, respect and understanding, would you find it surprising that we take comfort in talking to non-religious people about our struggles in hopes to find an open mind and a loving heart?

Ironically, the spirit of Islam is all about empathy, tolerance and understanding, yet the practice of Islam carried out by many Muslims shows the opposite.

Trust me, I understand that it is a difficult topic to open up with others, especially people coming from conservative backgrounds. It is difficult news for you to receive, just as it is difficult for me to handle, let alone share with others. However, the fact that I choose to come out to specific people means that those people are exceptionally special to me. To us.

It takes a lot of courage, incredible determination and a full dose of anxiety and fear to even think about coming out to someone, that you can imagine the damage we have to endure when the other person dismisses us or shows no empathy or mercy. It seems like a lot to handle if you ask me.

I remember the first time I decided to come out to someone, I was going through an overwhelming period in my life, yet Alhamdulillah I had some seeds of piety and religiosity inside me. I was around 18, and he was a non-religious psychologist and counsellor. I went to an appointment with him, tried to beat around the bush but ultimately came out to him. And, he was accepting. Later on, I found out that many struggling homosexuals came to him for advice and counselling.

I was hoping that, with the aid of therapy, my orientation would change – this is scientifically known as reparative or conversion therapy; while many studies have been conducted on it and some patients have reported success, a great number of psychiatrists and counsellors have reported failure and more harm done to the patients than good. The progress of my visits culminated in him putting forward the idea of accepting who I am and going all the way with it – in other words, experience my entire sexuality without restraints.

At that point I was really uncomfortable with his proposal, as it was against my Islamic beliefs and my own virtues.

During that same period, I was doing my own reading and researching, trying to find a proper Islamic “solution,” crying for help and praying that I am guided to what Allah pleases. One of the most heartwarming responses was given by a psychiatrist who also has a profound knowledge of Islamic shariah (legal rulings). He was hosted on a TV show, and he was speaking so graciously, so open-mindedly, that his words hit the right chord and I was immediately awe-struck. I cried after finally having found an answer with which my heartfelt ease.

That was pure bliss, Alhamdulillah.

Why Am I Homosexual?

The gist of the talk is the following: Homosexuality as an orientation is a disorder in one’s fitrah (human nature and disposition). “Treatment” of such a disorder involves therapy, familial and social support, personal discipline and a whole lot of other things. However, this therapy, which is tailored on a case-by-case basis, may or may not work. The mode of therapy is different between individuals, just like every case of homosexuality is different between people.

Mind you, the term “therapy” here is used loosely to mean dealing with the issue from different aspects rather than reverting one’s sexual orientation.

If many of us, homosexuals, dive deeper into our childhood and upbringing, we can pinpoint certain events that have taken their toll on us one way or another. Many of us have experienced child abuse, be it sexual, physical or intense emotional abuse that was brutally damaging to our body and soul, or lived in dysfunctional families that ultimately caused a lot of psychological damage. (3)

I, for one, had my own share of psychological and sexual abuse as a child from people closest to me and witnessed intense domestic violence that crippled my mind for a decent period of time. Such events were so incredibly powerful that they became ingrained in my psyche and took their toll on my thinking and behaviour.

Others have been desensitized to issues related to sexuality and gender roles from a young age, that their perception of masculinity and femininity is quite erroneous. I can recall several stories of struggling homosexuals I know who grew up in homes where one parent was more dominant in their life (e.g. present most of the time while the other was absent, provided greater emotional, psychological and social support while the other did the exact the opposite), such that either parent’s gender became more dominant on their lives and personas, and hence their perception of gender and sexuality deviated from the normal.

It is worth noting, however, that many people grow up in normal environments with no such issues during childhood, yet end up finding themselves attracted to the same gender. So there is no discrete thumb rule or cause as to whether someone will end up identifying as a homosexual or a heterosexual. It is not a simple black or white situation.

In addition to the above, it has been asserted that there are other acquired causes – we are bombarded on a daily basis with sensual and sexually-explicit material, from billboards, magazines and newspaper articles, to online material on social media websites. Sex and sexuality are heavily emphasized in TV shows, readings and discussions, whether openly or not. We have become accustomed to seeing semi-naked and naked bodies, our concepts of beauty, femininity and masculinity have radically evolved over time and we have become desensitized to these matters. (4)

There is an unbelievable amount of time and resources spent on creating better bodies: muscular, dreamy and good-looking men, and gorgeous women with “perfect” facial and body features. In addition, many of the inter- and intra-gender boundaries have drastically changed over time. Taken together, these matters overwhelm the human mind, and the effects are undoubtedly palpable.

Again, these and countless other events affect people’s heart, mind, body and spirit differently. People struggle to cope in different ways. Some people, like myself and countless others, may eventually find themselves with a specific worldview, having had a culmination of experiences, as well as a specific orientation that may or may not be modifiable. Just like these examples are struggling in and of themselves, homosexual thoughts and tendencies are no less than struggles as well.

Will I Have a Partner in Life?

When I see married men and women sharing affection, enjoying companionship and raising children, it hurts. A lot. Not the jealous I-hope-they-lose-all-that kind, but the painful realization that this is not something I can ever attain. Because of my situation, my ibtila’ (struggle in life), the idea of marrying someone from the opposite sex is not practical at all or even fair for me or my potential spouse. Many shuyukh advice homosexuals to get married for their tendencies to dissolve; while this may work with a handful of people, a large number of us does not find it physically or mentally plausible.

Many of the things other people, including those shuyukh themselves, take for granted – like relationships, marriage and having children – are the exact things we struggle with day in and day out. Personally, and unlike Muslim heterosexuals, I do not have safe and lawful options through which I can channel and fulfil those desires. Therefore, I try my best to remain steadfast and struggle for the sake of Allah. If that is not incredible Jihad, I do not know what counts as such.

While it may seem unfair and even preposterous to some people to keep struggling and not fulfil our desires, especially in this time and age, that is where the beauty lies. Within Islam, we are not held accountable for our thoughts, feelings, desires and tendencies as long as we do not act upon them. There are three ideas worth mentioning here.

First, Allah has promised in the Quran that He “does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity” [2:286]. Taken in line with Islamic teachings, this means that Allah knows how painful my struggle is and knows that I can handle it. Every time I ponder upon this idea, I am overwhelmed with incredible awe and gratitude. Of all people across centuries, He has chosen specific people for this particular test. Indeed, life is nothing but a few years and the True Life is in the Hereafter, so no matter how agonizing the struggle is, there will be an end to it.

Second, there is an immense reward and unimaginable blessings, both in this life and the Hereafter, by staying true to God’s decree and struggling for His sake. The greater the struggle, the more the rewards in sha Allah (God willing).

Third, and just like the popular saying goes, “when God closes one door, He opens another.” So, if issues like intimacy and procreation may seem like dead ends for Muslim homosexuals, we find openings in other aspects of life. Many homosexuals across history have been known for incredible gifts in writing, public speaking, music, cinema, scientific discoveries, literature and art. (5) Studies have reported that homosexuals exhibit high levels of empathy and compassion compared to heterosexuals. (6)

Because we have suffered and are constantly struggling, we have big hearts that know no boundaries. If we utilize our God-given gifts wisely and for the greater good, we can do wonders inshaAllah.

We All are Trying to Find Answers

Of course, there are Muslim homosexuals and pro-gay rights advocates who adopt a completely different perspective. Some try to balance between their religious duties while keeping in line with their orientation; in other words, they carry out their desires yet remain true to their duties. Others denounce Islamic rules altogether arguing that in modern times, such rules do not apply, hence they call for a reformation in Islamic laws taken for granted as solid foundations of religion.

Others are still struggling between balancing Islamic law and their own sexuality, searching for answers that provide them with ultimate satisfaction.

I am in no way trying to prove myself right and others wrong. This article is solely intended to highlight some of the struggles I go through as a Muslim homosexual, and I have taken the liberty at some points to speak on behalf of fellow struggling homosexuals because of our shared tribulations. Whatever your position is on this matter, I respect you and love you as a human being, your desires are legitimate and in no way make you less of a human being.

However, based on my beliefs, I do not accept specific actions that you may do which go against Islamic law. And there again, you are no less of a human being, and I still respect you as an individual. This falls at the heart of Islam – if someone like me who is struggling with his/her own desires can adopt such a stance, then so can everyone else. Maybe if we focus less on demonizing other people and concentrate more on helping one another, things would start to change for the best.

If you are a homosexual reading this, please know that my heart is with you. I of all people understand the daily struggles you are going through, and I salute your bravery and high spirit. Please remember that Allah is Merciful and Forgiving, no matter how much people tell you otherwise. Stay strong, and if you ever fall into the traps of Shaytan (the devil), repent to the Almighty with a pure heart and know that He accepts and welcomes the sincere. Pray to remain steadfast. Fasting is a powerful weapon so try your best to fast regularly.

Also, try to do sports and channel your energy in healthy ways. Surround yourself with the good company of pious people, and keep daily companionship of His Book. Pursue a higher purpose in life, for you are already on a high track. Trust me, I understand that the struggles may reach excruciating levels – it is at those moments that our inner cores are tested.

Make your struggles entirely for His sake, and they will be worth it. You will come out stronger and braver than before. With today’s explosion of sexuality and acceptance of same-sex relations, do not swallow the bait. Keep yourself in the company of Him for that is all that ultimately matters.

If you are a heterosexual reading this and assuming you may be uncomfortable with such a topic, I understand that this may be overwhelming for you at first glance. Take it easy on yourself, and certainly take it easy on others. We all have our own struggles, so let us make this journey we call life a little bit less difficult for one another. Let us shift our focus from pointing out each other’s faults and instead work together for more empathy, compassion and love.

There is a difference between respecting someone and accepting his/her actions; the former must be there at all times. If we disagree or have different lifestyles, and certainly if we make mistakes, please do not judge us. Bear with us. Listen to us, be there for us, for if you ever need us we will be there for you.

Even though we may not get the chance to experience what it means to have a spouse, be intimate or even raise a family in this life, I pray that Allah accepts our struggles for His sake and fulfil our desires in the Hereafter. Yes, I am a gay Muslim, and I am proud – proud that Allah has chosen me and many other brothers and sisters for this particular struggle in this life. And for that, and for all His countless blessings we say, Alhamdulillah.

“I hope that the world turns and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you… I love you. With all my heart, I love you.”
(V for Vendetta)

1. Lee, R. (2000). Health care problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients. Western Journal of Medicine, 172(6), 403–408.
2. Kesvani, H. (2015, April 18). Meet The Gay Muslims Living In Straight Marriages. http://www.buzzfeed.com/husseinkesvani/gay-muslims-in-straight-marriages
3. Schneeberger, A. R., Dietl, M. F., Muenzenmaier, K. H., Huber, C. G., & Lang, U. E. (2014). Stressful childhood experiences and health outcomes in sexual minority populations: a systematic review. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 49(9), 1427-1445.
4. Qadhi, Y. (2009, April 13). Dealing With Homosexual Urges: Yasir Qadhi to Muslim Student. http://muslimmatters.org/2009/04/13/dealing-with-homosexual-urges/
5. Rictor Norton (compiler), “The Great Queers of History, Part 1: Born before 1800″, 1 May 2004 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/greatgay/greatgay.htm&gt;.
6. Salais, D. A., & Fischer, R. B. (1995). Sexual preference and altruism. Journal of Homosexuality, 28(1-2), 185-196.

Advertisements

In Plain English…

I seek refuge in Allah from the outcast Satan,

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

IMG-20140219-WA0020

“And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves.” [Surah Ale Imran: 103]

“There was no Racism between the Companions of the Prophet (SAW), for they all believed in the principle that the most honourable amongst them was the one with the most Taqwa.” [Shaykh Saleem Dhorat Saheb, IDA, Leicester.]

From the title, you may already have figured out the contents of this article are going to be pretty hard-hitting, straightforward, straight to the point, somewhat bitter and a bit of a rollercoaster ride for those of us who are not accustomed to listening to the truth.

Out of the many problems we see in society, Racism is one that is still prevalent in our societies.

However, Racism is an issue that is still one that is not something that we see commonly discussed; not in the Mosques, not on the pulpits, nor do we often hear talks and lectures on this topic, why is this the case?

Is it because we feel hypocritical talking about it?

Is it because we don’t think we can eradicate Racism from our communities, that the problem has gone too far?

Is it because we are proud of being Racists?

Or is it simply, we just don’t find anything wrong with Racism, because we have normalised it within our homes, within our towns, within our cities, it has become so main scale in everyday society now?

Whatever the reason is, it is not a justified one!

“Let people stop boasting about their ancestors. One is only a pious believer or a miserable sinner. All men are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust” (1)

[Prophet Muhammad Sall’Allahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam]

Racism should be a key area of concern within our communities if we truly believe in the principles of justice, fairness and equality.

After having lived in a small town in the North West of England, (Blackburn), for the last 30 years, I have seen and heard enough comments and remarks made in this small community, to muster up the courage In Sha Allah, and write this as a response to ‘all that goes on’ behind closed doors.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) dealt with these issues of Racism 1400 years ago. When Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) addressed to Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) with, “You son of a black woman!” and Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) got insulted, he went to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

He told the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) “O Messenger of Allah, … this is what Abu Dharr has said to me.” 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) called Abu Dharr and said, “O Abu Dharr you are a man who still has the traits of ignorance in him! I am equally the son of a black woman, as I am the son of a white woman.” (This is because He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was breastfed by a black woman).

In another narration, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “You are a man who calls to Jahiliyyah, whoever calls to the call of Jahiliyyah, he will be in the fire of Jahannam!” And the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) asked, “What if he prays and fasts?” He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Even if he prays and he fasts.”

This was simply because Racism was prevalent amongst the Arabs before Islam, but after Islam, it was successfully eradicated.

Some of us are impressed and inspired and even enthralled by the colour of people’s skin, this demonstrates just how shallow, we as Muslims have become.

Look around the world and you will see how, in particular countries, there are two individuals of equal education, two employees doing the same job, but one is paid more than the other!

Why?

Simply because one is white and one is of a darker complexion!

This is our state, we are mesmerised by the colour of a person’s pigmentation.

Now let’s look at how deeply these traits are entrenched within us…

We don’t need any interference from the US or anyone else to destroy us or disunite us – we do too good a job of it ourselves! If we delve deeper in to the history of how many states across  the globe ‘achieved’ so-called ‘independence’ as a separate entity in itself as a ‘new’ country, just look at any one of these countries, be this the abolishing of the state formerly known as ‘Hindustan’, the regions within the Yugoslav area, or even as recently as a few years ago when Sudan was split in to two, North Sudan and South Sudan. The reason why these countries separated and new border lines were created was simply because of the inherent preference of tribalism and ancestral pride, over the call of ‘La Ilaha Illa Allah!’

Isn’t this what we see everywhere in the Ummah, around the globe, in the UK and right here in Blackburn? All we see is people defending their ‘own’ how often do we hear the following statements on our very own streets?

“My country is the best!”

“My tribe is the most honoured!”

“My family has more prestige and honour than yours!”

We see Arabs who think that they are more superior than non-Arabs, Indians thinking that they are better than Pakistanis, and Somalis thinking that they are higher than Sudanese people.

IT NEVER FINISHES!

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve – an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black, nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” This was stated in the Prophet’s SAW last sermon on the Ninth Day of Dhul-Hijjah, 10 A.H. in the ‘Uranah valley of Mount Arafat in Makkah. He SAW further added:

Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer for your deeds. So, beware: do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone. (2)

Closer to home, all we hear is:

“I’m a Bharuchi!”

“I’m a Surti!”

“I’m a Raja!”

“I’m a Chaudhary!”

And calls of “We are better than you!”

“Our Masjid is better than yours!”

“Our Madrasah is bigger than yours!”

What a pitiful state we find ourselves in, how low have we stooped since the golden days of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when individuals were brothers by faith, not by tribalism, pigmentation, wealth or status.

Brothers and Sisters, by Allah!

When we are lowered into our graves, Allah is not going to ask us, if we were a Surti or a Bharuchi, rather Allah will ask us if we divided the Ummah with our words. You will be asked, “Who is your Lord?” “Which is your religion?” “Who is your Prophet?” You will NOT be asked, “Which country are you from?”

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him ) said, “He is not from amongst us, who fights for Nationalism.”

How many times do we see sisters failing to get married, because although they may have found a suitable brother to marry, he wasn’t from the same country as she was, or from the same village as their family in India, they remain unmarried? We would apparently rather deprive our daughters of a good life, of a happy life, simply because our pride gets the better of us? How selfish and proud have we become? How blinded by nationalism and tribalism have we become?

I say to my Bharuchi brothers and sisters, as well as Surti brothers and sisters – you only have ONE bridge that separates you in Gujarat. Why are your hearts divided? You hate each other as though you are enemies! And now for my Indian Muslims and my Pakistani Muslims, you are only separated by ONE border, but the Kalimah unites you – remain united.

On a positive note, it is nice to see inter-racial marriages, Indians marrying Pakistanis, Bharuchis marrying Surtis and Bengalis marrying Pakistanis. I believe this was the practice in Ancient Arabia to defuse friction between clans. But, having said that, we still find some parents very staunch – Allah purify our hearts. Ameen.

“If there comes to you one whose religious commitment and attitude pleases you, then marry [your female relative who is under your care] to him, for if you do not do that, there will be tribulation on earth and much corruption.” (3)

We must remember that every race and nation has its good qualities and bad qualities.

What follows is something I wasn’t going to include in this post, but just to open our minds a little, so that we can look ‘beyond our noses’ – below is my opinion on the khayr and goodness in some races:

Arabs

Generally, as an Asian myself, I find that as Asians we look down on Arabs because of their outer appearance (dhahir) doesn’t look ‘Islamic’. Although the Hadith clearly states that Allah looks at the heart, not the outer look (albeit identity is important in my opinion), Arabs are at the top of the list when it comes to generosity and hospitality. Which nation can we say supersedes us all in certainty and yaqeen? In firmness and conviction?

Bengalis 

I have always found Bengalis to be the most humble and open-hearted of people. We don’t have as many in Blackburn but sadly, it seems that they are looked down upon wherever they are situated.

Gujaratis

As a Gujarati myself, I find that it is difficult to deal with your own ethnic group impartially. It is difficult to deal with your own whilst being fair. I believe that Gujaratis are known for their Islamic productivity – they are well advanced and are usually ahead of everyone else when it comes to building Islamic schools and Madrasahs. Gujaratis educate their sons and daughters thoroughly in terms of the deen, and produce Hafidh and Alim(ahs) in abundance – although, at times, this sometimes leads to their haughtiness.

Pakistanis

Who else can we find that fight for causes of justice and stand up for the Ummah more than Pakistani men and women?

Who else can we find with pure hearts, sincerity and honesty more than Pakistanis?

Who else can we find with more Gheerah/Ghayrat (protective jealousy) than Pakistanis?

Unfortunately, Pakistanis are judged by the actions of a few ignorant ones and thus they are deemed to be one and the same.

The respected and honourable Malcolm X (Allah have mercy on him) a Muslim Human rights activist once said. “That it would probably do America well to study the religion of Islam and perhaps it could drive some of the Racism from this society as it has driven Racism from the Muslim society”.

Charles. R. Swindoll said: “Prejudice is a learned trait. You are not born prejudiced, you are taught it.”

How far have we drifted from this? From the equality that Islam has delivered to us.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Two matters are signs of disbelief on the part of those who indulge in them: Defaming and speaking evil of a person’s lineage, and wailing over the dead.” [Muslim].

Let us take a look at our Masajid, places that are meant to be places of worship and places for devotion and acquiring the Love of Allah, in Islam we call them the ‘Houses of Allah’. But how many of these Masajid do we know that have constitutions that are built on Racism! I am no great scholar, but just as Alcohol is Haram, Fornication is Haram, Murder is Haram, similarly, Racism is also Haram.

Let alone the same country, if you are not from ‘our village’ in India you cannot be a member of our Masjid. And it doesn’t end there, we don’t allow Non-Indians to become members of our Masajid, so we charge their children extra fees in the Madrasah.

How is that even remotely fair, when an Indian child and Pakistani child receive the same level of education?

Why the discrimination?

Simply because his father is from Pakistan?

To be judged on ethnicity? Something we cannot choose, something that Allah has chosen for us!

Shame on such Masajid and shame on such racist committees. I have always wanted to ask one question to such people,

“Why do you take Lillah (charity) money off Pakistanis and Bengalis to use in the Masjid?”

The position I hold is if they can’t be members, then equally refuse their Lillah donations. But no we won’t do that, we quickly and greedily take their money! Other Masajid, on the other hand, will not even give Ghusl (ritual bath for the deceased) if the deceased is a Pakistani. La Hawla Wa La Quwwata Illa Billah!

I won’t stop there, in the United Kingdom we have certain graveyards where only people from a certain province/state in India can be buried there. One wonders how do such committee members sleep at night, and more importantly, once they sleep in their graves how will they answer to Allah on the Day of Judgement?

I remember in high school my Science teacher once said, “I don’t know if there is a God but he sure did make a mistake creating everyone different colours!” At that time I was highly offended and did not have an answer, later in life, however, I did Alhumdu Lillah. So this is for him and all those who fail to understand why Allah made everyone from different tribes and nations:

“O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honoured of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (3)

Do we not recall how the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) were of different skin colours, different cultures, varying races yet they loved each other more than blood brothers.

Bilal Ibn Rabah, Wahshy Ibn Harb, Sumayyah bint al-Khayyat, Usama Ibn Zayd (Allah be pleased with them) were all from Ethiopia or surrounding areas.

Salman Abu Abdullah and Fayruz al-Daylami (Allah be pleased with them) were from Persia.

Suhaib Ibn Sinaan (Allah be pleased with him) was from the provinces of Rome, Abu Dharr (Allah be pleased with him) was from Gifar, Al-Najashi was an Abyssinian King who converted to Islam, Maryah (Allah be pleased with her) the Copt was the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Nabi Musa ﷺ, Dawood ﷺ, Sulayman ﷺ, Yahyaﷺ and Isaﷺwere Hebrew (Bani Israa’il). Peace be upon them all.
Muhammad ﷺ , his caliphs and most of his companions were Arab.
Salahuddin (Allah have mercy on him) and Ibn Taymiyyah (Allah have mercy on him) (mother’s side) were Kurdish.
Imam Abu Hanifah (Allah have mercy on him), Imam Bukhari (Allah have mercy on him) Imam Tirmidhi (Allah have mercy on him) and Imam Muslim bin Hajjaj (Allah have mercy on him) were Persians (Faris).
Muhammad al-Fatih (Allah have mercy on him), Selim and Suleyman (Allah have mercy on him) were Turks.
The Mughal Empire’s rulers were Mongol (central Asian) and the great muhaddithin of South Asia were Indians (Allah have mercy on them).
Tariq bin Ziyad (Allah have mercy on him) was a Berber, Ibn Hazm (Allah have mercy on him) was Andalusian, the Mamluks (Allah have mercy on him) were Turkic and Circassians and the list goes on and on…
In all of this is a constant reminder that nationalism, racism and tribalism are simply inconsistent with Islamic teaching and its history.
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” The Holy Qur’an, Surah al-Hujuraat (The rooms), Ayah 13.

 

The differences in language, colour and race were not considered as levels of quality or degrees of superiority but rather as an expression of diversity and richness in Humanity.

We loudly and proudly attribute ourselves to Islam and its teachings, but we fail to practise upon what Islam really says. We narrate stories to our children in Madrasah of how Bilal Ibn Rabah  (Allah be pleased with him) suffered in the streets of Makkah and how his rank was elevated to that of the Mu’addhin (caller to prayer) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), despite formerly being a slave and despite being from Ethiopia. We have numerous Masajid named after Bilal (Allah be pleased with him), absolutely beautiful Masajid costing over a million pounds, ‘MASJID BILAL’, but if Bilal (Allah be pleased with him) was alive today, would he even be allowed to become a member of your Masjid? We all know that his descendants are refused.

I personally have had my own experience, where I have walked into a Masjid and been made to feel unwelcome. Simply because I do not share the same village in India. For the record, I am neither a Surti nor a Bharuchi, nor does it matter. Neither should I feel the need to state what I am. My belief is that we should judge people by their words and actions, not stereotype people and look at the village they are from or where their ancestors descend from. I humbly request some of these racist, xenophobic, ethnocentric and nationalistic brothers and sisters to remove the pride and the prejudice from their hearts. Islam is not JUST about Salah and Sawm, it is also about the purity of the heart. A biased and racist person can never have a clean heart. Imam Ibnul Qayyim (Allah illuminate his grave) used to say, “If you want to get a taste of a person’s heart look at his tongue.”

Finally, I would like to end something which might seem slightly off topic, but I feel that it is related to the issue of ‘Unity’.

As we see the Ummah divided from every angle, in every shape and form, it is quite evident that it is not just race and nationality that divides us. We see different sects of the Muslim Ummah fighting and bickering over Fiqhi and sometimes hair-splitting issues; the mind boggles… I wish to elaborate more on this in a future blog In Sha Allah, but for the benefit of  readers I will start with a quote that dates back to 1920, Shaykhul Hind Mawlana Mahmoodul Hassan (Allah sanctify his secret) was only 69, not only was he one of the most distinguished scholars of his time, he had also spent a lifetime in political struggle. His audience was a gathering of Ulama, eager to hear the lessons of a lifetime of study, struggle and reflection. His conclusion: “Our problems are caused by two factors; abandoning the Qur’an and our infighting.” He spent the few remaining days of his life addressing these causes. (4)

The reasons Shaykhul Hind (Allah sanctify his secret) are as valid today as they were then. They are also related; the second being caused by the first. The Qur’an had declared us as one Ummah and had warned us against infighting. We have ignored those teachings and the billion-strong Ummah has turned into an Ummah fragmented into a billion segments.

Some people blame the four madhabs for the disunity. but if we look at each of the four Imams and their biographies we will see, not once did they promote this sort of sectarianism. Fiqh is fiqh, it is not Aqeedah/Beliefs.

As Ahlus Sunnah Wal-Jama’ah our roots and fundamentals are the same,

One Allah, One Prophet, One Qur’an and one Qiblah, why are we not ONE Ummah?

Jannah has room for everyone! We seriously need to be careful before we declare people ‘Kafir’. It doesn’t matter if you are a Barelwi, Deobandi, Mawdoodi or a Salafi – Jannah certainly has room for us all, why do we choose to narrow the mercy of Allah? Why do we choose to divide on Fiqhi issues? Don’t get me wrong – debates and discussions are a good thing, when done sincerely, not merely for argument’s sake. The problem rather occurs when we overstate these differences. There was a difference of opinions in Fiqh amongst the companions, the Successors and great Mujtahideen. They disagreed but did they not turn these into fights. They disagreed but they maintained respect and love for each other.

The Brotherhood remained intact.

They had tolerance for the other view.

As I follow the Deobandi school of thought, I talk to my own first – because I believe that is the Qur’anic principle “Rectify your own first.” It is easy to get defensive and blame others, and I know amongst us Deobandis we have many people who harbour hatred, hate mongers and those that divide and cause disunity intentionally. Many claim that their organisation is doing the task that is the most important, and the work which is the only work of the Prophets (peace and blessings be upon them). A simple answer to those dear brothers, Jannah has eight doors, not one! People were created for different purposes, some preach, some teach and some are busy writing books, Allah accept one and all.

I end with a quote from Brother Malcolm X (Allah have mercy on him), “Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy.”

Ismail Ibn Nazir Satia (One who is in dire need of Allah’s Forgiveness, Mercy and Pleasure).

20 Rabeeul Thanee 1436

An article written on the completion of reading the biography of Malcolm X RH. I believe he was a man of courage and strength, a man who stood up for his people. Such men are rare to be found, we have a LOT of males, but very few men. One of his famous quotes, “To come right down to it, if I take the kind of things in which I believe, then add to that the kind of temperament that I have, plus 100% dedication that I have to whatever I believe in, these are ingredients which make it just impossible for me to die of old age – I know these societies have often killed the people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the Racist cancer that is malignant in America – then all credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.”

Malik al-Shabbaz (Allah illuminate his grave)

References:

(1) – (Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi)

(2) – (Bukhari, Muslim)

(3) – (Tirmidhi)

 (4) – (Hujurat:13)

 (5) – (Adapted from a talk in 1963 by Mufti Muhammad Shafi, the late Grand Mufti of Pakistan which was published in the booklet ‘Wahdat e Ummat’)