Friday, June 17, 2005

Why I Chose the Pen

Wanting to write for a long time, never had the encouragement or support to express myself through the pen. But after witnessing and facing the oppression of women in the Muslim community in the name of Islam because of culture, society, and its people, I have finally gained the courage and support to guide the pen on the paper.

I see writing as a powerful tool, which allows the writer to voice out many issues. And through writing one is able to express their ideas, opinions, etc, etc. It is a tool that allows us to voice and condemn the evil in the society. Through writing we are able to reach people who we don’t meet.

InshaAllah, I hopes to bring focus to the evils and deficiencies in society, which has caused the oppression of women in the name of Islam.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Book to Look for: Many Voices One Faith

As Salaam’Alaykum

Islam Writers Alliance is pleased to announce the publishing of our firstAnthology, Many Voices, One Faith. Seventeen authors and members of theIslamic Writers Alliance (IWA) contributed to creating this excitingAnthology:Many Voices, One Faith offers a unique window into the lives, thoughts andhearts of modern Muslim women. Many Voices, One Faith is an anthology ofpoetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and works for children written byMuslim women living in the West. At times poignant, at times humorous,sad, angry, joyful or grieving, the pieces in Many Voices, One Faith give aglimpse into the complex and multifaceted world of today’s Muslimah.

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The Islamic Writers Alliance is a group of Muslim women dedicated to writing about, presenting, and promoting positive Islamic fiction and nonfiction reading materials. Established in January 2004, the Islamic WritersAlliance has members at various stages in their writing careers, fromlittle known and talented authors on the path to publication, to newlypublished writers, to pros who have been publishing for decades. TheIslamic Writers Alliance is an inclusive group, including Muslim women fromall backgrounds, ethnicities, and theological bents. We also encouragewriters in all genres -- from poetry to science fiction to news reports.For more information about the Islamic Writers Alliance, please see ourwebsite:

Seeking Knowledge!...Seeking Allah!

Many times I have read and heard people talking about the emphasis on knowledge in Islam. I, being a woman of the 21st century, have always considered myself ‘educated’ and never bothered to learn what exactly Islam means by gaining knowledge. Some feel and say it is just pure religious knowledge; and some say we are acquiring worldly knowledge and as far as religious knowledge is concerned, only few are meant for it. But when I sat and pondered, I realized that both dunya (worldly) knowledge and religious knowledge are essential according to Islam. Both are interrelated. Having worldly knowledge helps one to appreciate and understand Allah’s Creation, His attributes, His Word and His Prophet. Acquiring religious knowledge helps us live better in this world, and to understand it more completely. Both depend on each other, it is really not wise to segregate knowledge into two different things. A doctor once said:

“When I was a kid, I used to run away from Islam as I was not taught the real beauty of it and I always felt it was a mere ritualistic religion . But now after becoming a student of science, I JUST love Islam. Now I am a doctor and I sometimes used to wonder: when I read the Qur’an, everything I learnt is right here in the Qur’an, and I wondered whether I wasted all these years trying to study Science…every minute detail is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Then I realized, if I had not studied science I would not have really understood what is mentioned in the Qur’an regarding science.”

One of my friends who had just discovered the beauty of Islam told me:

“When I started learning about Islam, I started off with learning about the Miracles mentioned in the Quran. I was in awe for all of them but to be honest, I was not able to understand or appreciate a few of the Ayah, Ihad to read a profound explanation for that Ayah.

But my friend, who is doing her Masters in Geography (one of her allied subjects was on Atmosphere), understood that Ayah immediately ( the moment she read it), and was able to appreciate and understand Allah's (swt) words.”

Thus, when we gain worldly knowledge along with spiritual knowledge, the two types of knowledge reinforce each other, and make each other clearer. Therefore, we are able to appreciate Allah's (swt) words in a better way.

Islam itself is a religion based on knowledge and will never be tolerant towards any form of ignorance. Islam is a religion which is based on questioning and reasoning. It can never overlook any form of blind imitation (taqlid) without questioning or reasoning. When one blindly imitates others in the name of religion, one is not following Islam but simply following the person or thing that is being imitated, and that apparently takes one away from the path of Allah. Apparently, ignorance can be replaced only with knowledge and only through knowledge can one reach the Truth.

Striving to attain knowledge is considered as a great act of piety in Islam. In Islam ignorance is highly condemned. We can say one is highly polluted when they are ignorant and one can purify oneself, both in this world and the hereafter, only through attaining knowledge.

• Elevated status is accorded to those who seek, possess, teach and act upon knowledge. Dismiss any thought of equality between those who know and those who do not (H.Q: 39:9)

• The Prophet (s.a.w.s) has said: "Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim (male and female)." (Sahih Bukhari)

In Islam great emphasis is given to the acquisition of knowledge in one’s life. Many verses in the Quran emphasize the importance of learning in one’s life. The first revelation of the Quran inspired the Prophet (s.a.w.s) of Islam to acquire knowledge and stressed the importance of learning. This first revelation went as follows:

1. Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists),
2. Has created man from a clot (a piece of chewed-like-lump of flesh).
3. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous
4. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen [the first person to write was Prophet
Idrees (Enoch)],
5. Has taught man that which he knew not. (Surah Al-Alaq; verses 1 to 5)

Every human being has been blessed with the power of learning and understanding. Allah (swt) has given each of us a free will (which itself is a test) and each one of us is born with the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Without knowledge we cannot get closer to Allah (swt). Allah (swt), advices the Prophet (s.a.w.s) to pray for increasing his knowledge.

Let us pray (Surah 20, Ayah 114) 'Ya Rabbi Zidni Ilma!' ('O Lord! Increase me
in knowledge.')

We can come across many verses in the Quran and the hadith or statements made by the Sahabas, in full reference to the importance of knowledge, and not only that, it also encourages one to expand one‘s knowledge in every aspect of life.

• The Prophet (s.a.w.s) taught that three things can continue to help a person even
after death; charity which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and
prayers on his behalf by a righteous off-spring. (Sahih Muslim)

A person who has an understanding of religion (faqih) is more formidable
against Satan than a thousand of worshippers (statement of Ibn Abbas)

Only the learned (together with the angels) are able to testify to God’s existence
and unity (H.Q 3:18)

• "Allah, His angels, the occupant of the heaven and earth, even the ant in its hole,
and even the fish, pray for the teachers who teaches goodness." (Tirmidhi and others,
authenticated by Al-Albani)

• "Whoever takes a path for knowledge, Allah will make an easy way for him to
paradise" and “the virtue of the scholar over (the ignorant) worshipper is as the virtue of the full
moon over the stars." (Ibn Majah, and authenticated by Al- Albani)

The pursuit for knowledge is itself a form of worship. According to the Qur’an only men of knowledge really fear Allah most.
Positive fear of God (taqwa) can be attained only by those who have knowledge (H.Q 35:28). One of the indispensable conditions in relation to the spiritual state of the soul, in getting closer to Allah, is the attainment of knowledge. Indeed, it is only through knowledge that we can appreciate Allah’s (swt) qualities.

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "For him who adopts a path of seeking knowledge, Allah eases the way in Paradise, and Angels spread their wings for the seekers of knowledge, being pleased with his occupation, and all that is in the heavens and the Earth including the fish in the water, ask for his forgiveness. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets and the Prophets do not leave an inheritance of dirhams and dinars, but only of knowledge. He who acquires knowledge acquires a vast portion." (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi)

There is a misconception among many people that it is impossible for just anyone to attain knowledge i.e. they say only certain people have the quality to acquire knowledge and only certain people possess Hikmah (wisdom) and that they are the only ones who should strive to acquire knowledge. We should remember that nothing is impossible when one strives to attain the right knowledge as enjoined by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, and we should remember that everyone can benefit even from a little knowledge, and that a little knowledge is surely better than none at all.

It is also important that we should get to know the etiquettes expected from the one who seeks this knowledge. Just attaining knowledge is not enough. One has to act upon what one learns. Many of the Sahabah have said that knowledge without practice is not true knowledge.

One of the most important issues is the priority of seeking knowledge to actions and deeds; knowledge must come before deeds because knowledge is the guide and because deeds without knowledge are definitely subject to error, innovation, and misleading.


Among the signs of the Day of Judgment are the increase of ignorance, and the disappearance of knowledge.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, ‘The Hour (Last Day) will not be established until (religious) knowledge will be taken away (by the death of religious learned men), earthquakes will be very frequent, time will pass quickly, afflictions will appear, murders will increase and money will overflow amongst you.’” ( Sahih Al Bukhari ,Volume 2, Book 17, No. 146; also see Hadith No. 85, Volume 1).

“Knowledge is better than wealth - knowledge is a protection for you whereas it is you that has to protect wealth.” (As mentioned by Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph in Islam)

He has sent them Messengers inspired with Books, and has revealed to them signs of His greatness and wonders of His power which testify to His Lordship and Divinity. Allah’s Mercy is apparent as He has taught us how to get closer to Him so that we would be successful in this world and in the hereafter, inshaAllah.

Let us pray that Allah helps us to strive to our best to increase our knowledge and to act upon that which would help us to become successful in this life and the hereafter. Ameen!

© Amatullah Abdullah 2005.


    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Gheebah: A Disgusting Sin!

    Gheebah: A Disgusting Sin!

    A sister requested me to write an article on Gheebah. I asked myself “How can I write or talk about Gheebah when I myself am not free from it...” And then I realized that I should write about it, in order to remind and warn myself, my dear brothers, and my dear sisters in Islam of the severity of it.

    Now what does Gheebah mean?

    Gheebah comes from the root: Gha-Yaa-Baa, meaning that which is unseen. In Arabic, backbiting,slandering, or any misuse of the tongue is Gheebah. Gheebah is to talk about your brother or sister in such a manner that he or she would dislike it if told to their face. Gheebah is one of the major sins in Islam because it hurts others and destroys their self-esteem.

    In the following you can see that the prophet (s.a.w.s) has clearly defined Gheebah (backbiting) for us, so that we can identify and keep away from this terrible sin.

    Abu Huraira (r.a.) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.s) said, “Do you know what is backbiting?” They (the companions) said: “Allah and His Messenger know best. Thereupon he (the Prophet) said: “Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like.” It was said to him: “What if what I say about my brother is true?” He said: “If what you said about him is true then you would have backbitten him, and if it is not true, then he is slandered (buhtaan) [Reported in Saheeh Muslim: hadeeth 1183, Sahih Muslim: Book 31, Number 6265, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, others...]

    and in Another Hadith Al-Muttalib ibin Abdullah said, "The Messenger of Allah said, 'Gheebah (gossip, backbiting) means that a man mentions about a person something which is true, behind his back."[Al_Suyuti, Zawa'id Al Jami from the report of al Khara'iti in Masawi Al Akhlaq. Malik reported something similar with a Mursal Isnad as mentioned in Al-Sahihah, No. 1992] .

    Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: I said to the Prophet (s.a.w.s): It is enough for you in Safiyyah that she is such and such (the other version than Musaddad's has:) meaning that she was short-statured. He replied; You have said a word which would change the sea if it were mixed in it... [Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 41, Number 4857]

    We all indulge in Gheebah without realizing it but, we tend to realize how painful and horrible it is only when we become victim (the one who is back bitten) to it.

    Before I started researching about Gheebah, I was very careless about this sin, many times to the point of not being bothered or not caring to attempt to keep away from it. But I realized the dreadful part only when someone spoke about me. I realized the feeling of the people who I spoke of must have endured.

    Therefore we should remember that when we commit Gheebah we sacrifice the honor of our brothers and sisters.

    I go further with the point of Gheebah being wrong by pointing out what Allah says in the Holy Quran.

    “O, you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; in deeds some suspicions are sins. And spy not neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear God, verily, God is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful. ( Surah Al Hujurat 49: 12)

    Surah Humazah in the Holy Quran, describes clearly that, one who indulges in Gheebah is in clear error and in great loss.

    1. Woe to every slanderer and backbiter.
    2. Who has gathered wealth and counted it,
    3. He thinks that his wealth will make him last forever!
    4. Nay! Verily, he will be thrown into the crushing Fire.
    5. And what will make you know what the crushing Fire is?
    6. The fire of Allâh, kindled,
    7. Which leaps up over the hearts,
    8. Verily, it shall be closed in on them,
    9. In pillars stretched forth (i.e. they will be punished in the Fire with pillars, etc.).

    These verses tell us about the terrible punishment, that befall on the Muslim who commits Gheebah.

    An Islamic speaker once said, “Even in our thought, one should honor his brother or sister in Islam”. It is obvious that we as Muslim should be loving and compassionate with one another.
    Gheebah is a disgusting sin, definitely one of the biggest, and evilest wreckers of this compassion, love and brotherhood.

    What we also fail to realize is that Gheebah will wash away our good deeds and our good deeds would be snatched from us and given to one who we spoke ill off on the Day of Judgement. The prophet (saw) said: We will have survived all of the horrible trials, the judgement, the bridge, and the huge thorns which snatch us according to our deeds and throw us into Hell. (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 577).

    We will have been through all this, only to lose all our good deeds because we could not or would not control our tongue.

    One of my friends, who is a revert, once told some of the sisters about her past (i.e. the past before she accepted Islam). I saw that people were judging her and questioning her about her integrity. Because of this , the sister was in the verge of leaving Islam, then I had to explain to her that we cannot judge Islam based on people’s(Muslims) behavior … she understood and Allah saved her Alhamdulilah! .

    This boneless flesh called “ tongue” is playing games and showing its stunt. It is not funny… We might be so lenient to this but in the sight of Allah it is one of the most hated thing.

    The Prophet says that Allah is the Judge of Judges and that no one can judge anyone as Allah does. If one is judgmental, he is making himself into a judge with no authority from the Judge of Judges. When one says: "So-and-so is a no-good person," we should remember that we are not the judge of our Lord's servants; He created them and He judges them as He wills! We should remember, whoever ignores this point is competing with Allah and taking his attribute of Al Haakem (The Judge) and setting himself as partner against Allah. What a grave mistake!

    Allah teaches us to speak out against Slander and try to put a stop to it in the following verse:
    And why did you not, when you heard it, say? "It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to God, this is a most serious slander" (Surah An Nur 24:16)

    Gheebah is indeed a disgusting sin worse than Zina (fornication). It can be done so easily, any moment, any time, whereas Zina is a sin were one cannot engage as easily as Gheebah

    However, we should also understand that under some circumstances a person is allowed to talk about his brother or sisters.

    The following are the only circumstances where one is allowed to talk about his brother or sister in islam
    1. If the person is being oppressed. In this case you are allowed to talk about the person who oppresses so that the oppressed may take what is rightfully his. He should only talk out of necessity and only to the one who can assist the oppressed person in taking his right from the oppressor.

    2. Requesting a fatwa (Islamic ruling). For example, you may say "my brother did such and such (recalling the event), what do I do?" It is permitted to recall the incident and not mentioning the name of the person (this is better) so that a fatwa may be obtained.

    3. When seeking marriage, setting up a business or being a witness. If a man asked another about a third person who has proposed it is permitted for the one being asked to say what he knows about the one who has proposed. When talking about him (the one seeking marriage) the one who knows him should be honest about what he says, without diminishing the persons value nor exaggerating his faults.

    4. Cautioning people about bad/evil-doers. If a person propagates forbidden or evil, or something which contains shirk, it is permitted to warn people about that person until they are convinced about the misleading information.

    These four circumstances under which backbiting (which sole intent is to provide TRUE information only by God fearing souls) is permitted and has certain conditions which should be fulfilled. Purity of intention to Allah (swt). He should not talk about the faults of a man (who has proposed to a woman) because of envy or dislike. It is a responsibility and a trust which Allah has ordered.

    Lastly, after knowing what backbiting is, knowing its dangers and the severity of the sin we should repent to Allah for those actions before there is no chance left. We should constantly remind ourselves that when Judgment Day comes, the one who has backbitten shall have his good deeds taken away from him and given to the one whom he has harmed by backbiting. If his good deeds have been exhausted, the other persons (the one who was harmed) bad deeds will be taken and given to the one who backbit. The one who indulged in Gheebah will be dragged by the face and taken to the fire.

    All of our organs-; tongue, heart, mind, etc- will be a witness against us, we should repent before the Day comes when we will regret what we have done. Perfect repentance is to regret the action we have committed against our Muslim brother, and to stay away from it in future. We should commit ourselves not to ever return to that action. If we remember those whom we have backbitten before knowing the reality of these and the severity of the punishment for the one who indulges in this sin then we should supplicate for that person( who we back bitten) in their absence.

    And Allah knows the best!!!

    © Amatullah Abdullah 2005.