Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Islam and The West-3

The Veil

The Koran says: Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do (Surah 24, Al Nur, verse 30).
)قُل لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ يَغُضُّواْ مِنۡ أَبۡصَـٰرِهِمۡ وَيَحۡفَظُواْ فُرُوجَهُمۡ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ أَزۡكَىٰ لَهُمۡ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرُۢ بِمَا يَصۡنَعُونَ(.

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons…(Surah 24, Al Nur, verse 31).

)وَقُل لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ يَغۡضُضۡنَ مِنۡ أَبۡصَـٰرِهِنَّ وَيَحۡفَظۡنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبۡدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنۡهَا‌ۖ وَلۡيَضۡرِبۡنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِہِنَّ‌ۖ وَلَا يُبۡدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوۡ ءَابَآٮِٕهِنَّ أَوۡ ءَابَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوۡ أَبۡنَآٮِٕهِنَّ أَوۡ أَبۡنَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوۡ إِخۡوَٲنِهِنَّ أَوۡ بَنِىٓ إِخۡوَٲنِهِنَّ(...

Verse 31 is known as the “Verse of the Veil”, but all explanations I have read of this verse agree that it is talking about modesty, urging women to cover any cleavage. There is absolutely no mention of the word “hair” in the Book. Neither of Niqab.

Other relevant verses say: And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs … (Surah 33, Al Ahzab, verse 53).

)إِذَا سَأَلۡتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَـٰعً۬ا فَسۡـَٔلُوهُنَّ مِن وَرَآءِ حِجَابٍ۬ۚ ذَٲلِڪُمۡ أَطۡهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمۡ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّۚ (...

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful (Surah 33, Ahzab, verse 59).
)يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّبِىُّ قُل لِّأَزۡوَٲجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَآءِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ يُدۡنِينَ عَلَيۡہِنَّ مِن جَلَـٰبِيبِهِنَّۚ ذَٲلِكَ أَدۡنَىٰٓ أَن يُعۡرَفۡنَ فَلَا يُؤۡذَيۡنَۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا(.

Another relevant verse: … Even though their beauty attract thee…(Surah 33, Al Ahzab, verse 52)
(...وَلَوۡ أَعۡجَبَكَ حُسۡنُہُنَّ...)

I understand the above to mean that there is no hijab in the Koran, certainly no niqab. The hijab is a tradition, not a duty, like prayer. Still there are those who admit that the Koran carries no clear order for women to wear veil but support it nevertheless under the principal of avoiding temptation. This is an insult to men and women, seeing them like animals in heat who cannot restrain their basic instincts.

Alcohol

There are many verses on drinking alcohol throughout the Koran. The most important of which, and one of the latest, says: O ye believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork; eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper (Surah 5, Al Ma’idah, verse 90).

)يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِنَّمَا ٱلۡخَمۡرُ وَٱلۡمَيۡسِرُ وَٱلۡأَنصَابُ وَٱلۡأَزۡلَـٰمُ رِجۡسٌ۬ مِّنۡ عَمَلِ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ فَٱجۡتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُفۡلِحُونَ(.

The verse clearly says “avoid him”, or Satan, where it could have said “avoid it” and thus refer to alcohol and gambling.
Among the others: They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: “In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit”… (Surah 2, Al Baqarah, verse 219).
)يَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلۡخَمۡرِ وَٱلۡمَيۡسِرِ‌ۖ قُلۡ فِيهِمَآ إِثۡمٌ۬ ڪَبِيرٌ۬ وَمَنَـٰفِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثۡمُهُمَآ أَڪۡبَرُ مِن نَّفۡعِهِمَا‌ۗ (...

Also: And from the fruit of the date palm and the vine, ye get out wholesome drink, and food: behold, in this also is a Sign for those who are wise (Surah 16, Al Nahl, verse 67).

)وَمِن ثَمَرَٲتِ ٱلنَّخِيلِ وَٱلۡأَعۡنَـٰبِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِنۡهُ سَڪَرً۬ا وَرِزۡقًا حَسَنًا‌ۗ إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬ لِّقَوۡمٍ۬ يَعۡقِلُونَ(.

And: O ye who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say…(Surah 4, Al Nisa, verse 43).

)يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَقۡرَبُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَأَنتُمۡ سُكَـٰرَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعۡلَمُواْ مَا تَقُولُونَ(...
In all the above, and in other verses, I see no direct, absolute, ban on alcohol.

Polygamy

The Koran says: If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess. That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice (Surah 4, Al Nisa, verse 3).

)وَإِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ أَلَّا تُقۡسِطُواْ فِى ٱلۡيَتَـٰمَىٰ فَٱنكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ مَثۡنَىٰ وَثُلَـٰثَ وَرُبَـٰعَ‌ۖ فَإِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ أَلَّا تَعۡدِلُواْ فَوَٲحِدَةً أَوۡ مَا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُكُمۡ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ أَدۡنَىٰٓ أَلَّا تَعُولُواْ(.
It also says: Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women even if it is your ardent desire…( Surah 4, Al Nisa, verse 129).
)وَلَن تَسۡتَطِيعُوٓاْ أَن تَعۡدِلُواْ بَيۡنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ وَلَوۡ حَرَصۡتُمۡ‌ۖ (...

I understand this as a ban on taking more than one wife as the condition for two or more is fairness and God says man can never be fair and just to more than one wife. (Also, it is not a wife and a slave, but rather either or, not the two together).

I must be very clear at this point: I am not opposing the veil or polygamy, and I am not advocating drinking alcohol. All I am doing is reading Koranic text, mostly verses of not well-established meaning. If the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Mufti of Saudi Arabia say a veil is required of a Muslim woman, they know better.

The Koran says: None of Our revelations do we abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things? (Surah 2, Al Baqarah, verse 106).

)مَا نَنسَخۡ مِنۡ ءَايَةٍ أَوۡ نُنسِهَا نَأۡتِ بِخَيۡرٍ۬ مِّنۡہَآ أَوۡ مِثۡلِهَآ‌ۗ أَلَمۡ تَعۡلَمۡ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ(.

Abrogating certain verses was explained by the changing general interest of the Muslims. Restrictions on alcohol were gradual, as drinking was very wide-spread.

The second Orthodox Caliph Omar understood that conditions change, and acted in a bold and decisive manner.

The Koran says: Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to the Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom (Surah 9, Al Tawbah, verse 60).

)إِنَّمَا ٱلصَّدَقَـٰتُ لِلۡفُقَرَآءِ وَٱلۡمَسَـٰكِينِ وَٱلۡعَـٰمِلِينَ عَلَيۡہَا وَٱلۡمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُہُمۡ وَفِى ٱلرِّقَابِ وَٱلۡغَـٰرِمِينَ وَفِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَٱبۡنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ‌ۖ فَرِيضَةً۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَڪِيمٌ۬(.

The prophet used to give certain important men gifts from zakat money to win them over to Islam. So when some of “those whose hearts have been recently reconciled” came to Omar and asked him for land granted them by the first Caliph Abu Bakr, Omar refused saying “Islam is now strong and does not need you. You either remain Muslim or we resort to the sword.” Omar did not order cutting off the hands of thieves in the “year of famine”. Omar did not uphold the tradition of the prophet himself and a pledge by his predecessor Abu Bakr when conditions changed.

My point is that the revelations changed with changing condition and verses were abrogated, that Muslims have the example of Omar (who in the world is more Muslim than Omar?), but a majority of Muslims today do not change, and those who want to move on and modernize are marginalized or accused of apostasy.

To be continued...

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