Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Little Late

(taken from google image)

ever since i was a little fat piggy with short legs, my dad would constantly remind me to read the Quran and the translation. no matter how young i was, he'd tell me to read it still, and read it again because you would see things differently when you read it many times.

i never went to religious school like everybody else but my parents have been teaching me the important things in my faith. and maybe because i don't have an official ustaz/ustazah to push me to memorize surahs and doas etc, i blame that on myself and not the fact that i was not sent to a religious school. however, i am very thankful that i have amazing parents that teach me all these things-- adab, aqeedah etc.

but now im trying to be a better person and read all the important things i should be reading a long time ago. i openly admit that there is so much that i do not know and therefore im a little shy around people who are more knowledgeable. at the same time, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming because there's just too much to take in.

so anyway, last week, in my History of Islam till the Ottoman Empire class, my teacher was showing us a video on the Quran. Before it started, he said that it's interesting because there are many arguments to what the video is trying to portray. I knew what was coming. and when he said that, my heart was beating faster.

and so the documentary of the Quran started about what Muslims believe about it, the history of it etc etc.

and of course, they just had to focus on the supposed 'contradictions' of the Quran. the video showed how one sentence of the Quran can be interpreted into such extremely different meanings such as issues on-- jihad, women etc.

i know that they are trying to be critical and that they need to see the many different sides of the debate. but i was unhappy on how they were trying to portray the Quran as though it was written by someone and the fact that it is supposed totally confusing. based on the music of the background, to me, it was as though they wanted people to see the Quran as a dangerous thing where people can missinterpret it so easily.

True, people can misinterpret it easily and do extreme things. but how many percent of the population of Muslims who actually do that? they did not emphasize enough on the fact that many barbaric acts such as the stoning of women are't due to Islam but cultural beliefs. they also failed to highlight the fact that the extremists lack of knowledge on Islam and some of them may even be completely ignorant.

Yes, they did show clippings of a number of modern and moderate Muslim people who gave a good argument about Islam and differentiating the religion itself and cultural beliefs but towards the end of the video, it left things hanging. i guess that was their intentions. but i wasnt happy.

feeling unhappy i went back home to search for an explanation. i wanted to see exactly why so many people say that Islam opresses women. im not trying to be a smartypants or whatever, but i just wanted to see how people can come up with that idea.

those who think that Islam opresses women because for instance, wives are allowed to be beaten by their husbands probably don't see the big picture. when i opened up surah Nisa', i read this one part closely where it states that a woman should not be beaten by her husband unless she does something totally morally wrong. and it clearly states that beating is the last resort. before that, there are certain things that the husband should do in order to ensure that his wife acts accordingly
to the moral codes of Islam. and even if he beats her, he should not inflict pain on her.

"men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other. and because they support them from their means. therefore the righteous women are devoutly obidient, and guard in (the husband's) abscence what God would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly). but if they return to obidience, seek not againts them means (of annoyance): for God is most High Great (above you all)." 4:34
At the bottom of the same page, there was a description that states...

on the basis of these traditions, all the authorities stress that this "beating", if resorted at all, should be more or less symbolic-- "with a toothbrush, or such a thing" (Tabari, quoting the views of scholars of the earliest times), or even "with a folded handkerchief" (Razi); and some of the greatest Muslim scholars such as al-Shafi'i are of the opinion that it is just barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided' and they justify this opinion by the Prophet's personal feelings with regard to this problem. [from the 'Message of the Quran' by Muhammad Asad]

(Taken from my Quran with English translation done by Abdullah Yusuf Ali)

my point is, many choose to take things out of context. and interpret God's message according to their liking, then make an argument saying that Islam is unfair?

what is unfair is how ignorant or bad Muslims act whichever way they want.

don't generalize things.

if so then nothing in this world will make sense.


Aiman said...

wow, this surely is a good post. I think it is just part of our struggle in becoming a good Muslim. We are bound to find people who will just try to single out faults in our beliefs and it is our responsibility to enlighten them in one way or another. :)

ChEsZa said...

I agree with you 100%. I'm having a class on Islam and Terrorism this semester and my professor is ah-maz-zing! In our first class he showed us the "supposed" contradictions in the Quran, and then showed us the line preceeding and following these "contradictions" to show that the Quran should be read in context. And then last week he showed us a CNN-produced documentary on Islam, where the reporter who fled Iran was obviously not a fan of Islam or Islamic rule, so how can she be neutral in this "documentary"? She obviously belittled women in Islam without thorough understanding of it. I was so mad at the end of class. Great post Pia, great post.

p/s: check out my latest post, a lil something for you :)

beb mentoot said...

aiman: hehehe yeah kan? btw u shud so take arabic next year, i think u'd like it.

syaza: alamak i didnt realize you read my blog. so i reread it and realized i had so many spelling mistakes hahahahahaa so i had to edit it.

btw, wow, u're lucky u have that teacher. sometimes people really think that muslims are terrorist etc and so they teach ppl what they believe which is bad for us.

elly said...

i feel like, sometimes all that is required to nudge those who do not know to be curious enough to seek knowledge of a religion that they have been raised to have deep distrust of,is a muslim friend who knows for a decent part what is truly up with the faith, and is cheerfully willing and able to delve into a conversation about islam, and discuss it in a manner that combines the intellect, the practice, and the heart. of course i am fully aware that you and many of my friends are much better practitioners of the islamic faith as compared to me; there is definitely this egotistical stubbornness - original sin; pride - that i am personally crusading against, and i see that as my jihad that i try to deal with every day. gets pretty emotional, but i hope to soon be able to attain that sliver of piece that will help me settle into being a better practitioner, as islam is not merely an organized religion (i mean this in the prejudiced context of the phrase, so commonly employed, especially here) but indeed, a beautiful, wholesome, fulfilling way of life. not only on the surface level where activities are done to be observed, but activities done with a sense of purpose and spirituality that move one to know oneself better, as a part of the greater whole and the original design. being here in the states, i've been studying islam more than i ever did back home, and understanding it critically and compassionately too, while a couple of years ago, i cannot deny that my education on islam is nothing but knowledge i had on a terribly shallow level. my ex-boyfriend and current boyfriend, both brought up in highly conservative, religious families; the former from a super catholic family, with him being only first generation filipino american, and the latter is straight up irish catholic. oh the things that they have been told of islam in sunday school and by family members whilst growing up, and the attitudes of those around them towards a religion that they did not even know of, but have been molded to just hate...it's really sad. i'm thankful how i am learning more about my own religion in this unorthodox way, from reading the quran with translations as well as other various materials, and from meetings with professors and fellow students and such. i guess it was planned all along for my conscience to be tapped by the higher being at this point in my life, when i'm far removed from what is familiar to me. i still wonder now, why i am the way i am, when i would say my parents did teach me well. i simply resisted them, and it's completely my bad :/


but ya daniel likes it when i wear the hijab! probably the first guy i've dated who actually said i look prettier with it covering my head. while i am aware that caters to my vainness/pride, i have to say while it spoke to me in that manner, to a degree it moves me to take an action that illustrates the saying 'the end justifies the means'...if that makes sense. anyway, both him and joe are studying the islamic faith now too, which i think is terrific, seeing as to how they realize how misinformed they have been, and how their families have been. i think joe is super interested in the faith, he chills around in his room at night with the recording of the quran playing on his iphone. it's quite the leap, from when we were first dating and he couldn't comprehend me being soothed by something not in my language, that i can't facilitate via logic but access via feeling, to him now finding the peace in something he can't understand, but experience in a way that is not necessarily deductible, but is more real in its intangibleness that anything tangible could ever come across as convincing.

okok i stop now k.

beb mentoot said...

elly: wow yeah that was long. u sure u dont wanna cut and paste and put on urs ke? :p but yeah, sometimes we learn in ways that we never thought of. it's good to know that you're doing well. btw u going back to malaysia?

elly said...

i might, but i'm leaning more towards taking summer classes cos i'll be going back next year dah pun. <3 school!