Don’t Believe Your Eyes…

“Sister, you don’t understand. Islam is PERFECT. Wallahi, I know this is the truth! See, just read what it says here in the Quran/Hadiths and you’ll recognize the beauty of true Islam…”

Ah, if only I had a dollar for every time I’ve read or heard some variation of the statement above! I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d at least be able to take myself on a ritzy weekend getaway. Whenever I have pointed out some flaw in Islam(or Christianity for that matter), I’m simply referred back to the book. I am not supposed to judge Islam by it’s fruit but rather by what it says about itself. I am not to believe my eyes, I am to believe the book. Don’t judge the faith by its’ followers, judge the faith by the faiths’ own testimony.

This really is not a sensible way of thinking. In most areas of life, we don’t judge based on words alone. One wouldn’t support a business that consistently received low ratings from the Better Business Bureau yet claimed to be the best deal out there. One wouldn’t stay in a relationship with a person who claimed to love them yet whose actions constantly said otherwise. Yet when it comes to religion, and Islam especially, I’m expected to ignore what I can clearly see! Below are two common statements I’ve heard people use to defend Islam and my responses to them.

#1)”There is no racism in ‘real’ Islam! Traditional Islam views all mankind as equal; it is just some misguided people that practice racism in Islam”.

Whew, I couldn’t stop laughing as I typed that sentence. According to some, there is no systemic racism within Islam. It’s just a minority of Muslims who think this way and it has nothing to do with what is actually taught. So I guess I’m just supposed to ignore:

*The fact that white women are the epitome of female beauty in the Quran(read the description of the houris, the ‘perfect women’ of paradise

*The fact that sinners will be resurrected with black faces while the believers faces will shine with whiteness(Sura 3:106, Sura 7:46, Sura 39:60, Sura 55:39-41, Sura 67:27);

*The fact that one can only understand Islam by learning Arabic;

*The fact that one must make salat in Arabic

Indeed, there’s no racism in any of that folks!

 

#2)Islam preaches equality for women and liberates them. When Muslim women are mistreated and oppressed, it has nothing to do with Islam itself. Muslim women are oppressed by backwards cultures, not the religion itself!”

It’s just the culture, right? There can’t possibly be anything in the Quran that is misogynist. I suppose I can ignore:

*The fact that the Quran gives men divine sanction to beat their wives;

*The fact that the Quran gives Muslim men the right to marry women of the ‘people of the Book’, yet restricts Muslim women to Muslim men only;

*The fact that men can take up to four wives and also have the right to have concubines, while Muslim women get their husband and that is it;

*The fact that Muslim men are rewarded with their earthly wife AND houris in Jannah. while a Muslim woman is rewarded with…her earthly husband alone;

*The fact that Muslim women cannot seek divorce as easily as Muslim men can;

No inequality there at all folks. Islam respects women!

If I had been able to remain a drone, repeating what I was told and not questioning things, I’d still be a Muslim today. However I couldn’t do that. I chose to believe the evidence in front of me. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is my earnest desire that Muslims, especially converts, do the same.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

23 thoughts on “Don’t Believe Your Eyes…

  1. I am sorry but your argument doesn’t make any logical sense. You can’t blame the law, if a criminal chooses to commit a crime. You cannot blame Islam if some Muslims you’ve had bad experiences with don’t choose to act in accordance with the Islamic message.

    You make the same mistake as the ‘Muslims’ you seem to be critical of. You are reading the Qur’an literally when it is supposed to be read holistically. Both text and context matter. The greater message of Islam is one of equality; and the fact that you choose to read between the lines, and take verses or ahadith out of their given textual and historical contexts is very ignorant.

    Your examples of how Islam is supposedly ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ have already been debunked countless times by various scholars – you may call it apologia and I call it the truth. We can all look into holy texts and see what we want to see, when we are blinded by our bias. It’s very easy to take things out of context and present them as proof for any given argument, but we have to look at the bigger picture.

    The life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his actions and deeds, embody the holy Qur’anic message. He was our teacher of God’s Wisdom and the Qur’an – did he ever do those things you are accusing Islam of promoting? Did Muhammad ever beat his wives? Did he consider ‘black’ Muslims lesser then any other human being?

    You are simply regurgitating the straw-man fallacies Christians have been using against Islam without really having looked into the logistics of the faith. It really is unfortunate that people start stereotyping Islam simply because of their personal experiences with some Muslims.

    1. You use the word holistic as you reply to dimuntiveda. So you are supposed to question qua’ran as you’re reading it, but at the same time you have to believe in the words of your Allah. This is a part of the pillars of Islam so one of have to be very careful when questioning your Allah’s word because one may commit shirk so to say. Secondly you say she is just relating it to her experience with people? You know I get really sick of Muslims saying that when you don’t understand what went through her mind. Everything stated on her blog is relevant, and had deep truth to it. You are speaking to an ex-muslim here. You will say anything you can to defend a belief that degrades woman, and favors men. There is no way you can state that a man and a woman are equal when there are way more guidelines for woman than man. Also with the ayat where a man can beat a woman lightly , well you have to look at the true context of the word beat (which you were talking of looking at the qua’ran in context). The word beat means to strike repeatedly, and to hit repeatedly as to inflict pain. If your Allah is Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem why would he allow this to happen please tell me? Why would he make any type of hitting her permisible? Also why is it the man has the right to beat, but not the woman? You’re trying to say this is treating the woman as equal with the man? Ohhh, but it’s okay because it says to do it lightly right well a different word should have been used, and not the word beat. Let’s look at the haddith that says that more woman end up in the hellfire than men, why isn’t it the other way around when men gossip and backbite as well. Tell me what rights do you really have as a Muslim woman, and how can you really be happy? Well you might say I have the right to work, but only if your husband allows it. You have to seek permission from him to do things because you must obey him, but he doesn’t have to obey you. Whenever he wants to be intimate you have to go to the bed otherwise you will be cursed until the morning or until he is pleased with you again? So why isn’t it the other way around if the wife wants her husband to come to bed, but you see he wouldn’t have to because he doesn’t have to obey her. If this were equal on both parts then it would say a man or woman whom calls their spouse to the bed to come they must go, and if one refuses then they will be cursed…Also why would such a loving merciful God curse you for something simple as intercourse? But Islam is so perfect, and your Allah knows best is what you will say right lol! So you see Diva is right, and I can get her back on this one because Islam has so many flaws that it’s not even funny. You Muslims are so brainwashed that you cannot even see it smh…

      1. “Secondly you say she is just relating it to her experience with people? You know I get really sick of Muslims saying that when you don’t understand what went through her mind.”

        That’s all that they can do midnightstar. The experiences and dilemmas of skeptical Muslims-be they converts or born Muslim-are rarely addressed. Those who actually end up leaving Islam are spoken to in a very condescending way. Either we “took things out of context”. Or we are ignorant of true Islam because we can’t speak Arabic(this is never an issue when you want to convert however). Or you left Islam because of bad experiences with Muslims. Or you left Islam because of a bad marriage.

        No one wants to entertain the fact that maybe, just maybe, apostates had issues with the doctrine itelf. And astagfirullah, God forbid any of us actually question if maybe it is the teaching itself that causes people to leave Islam. I have read that anywhere from 60-75% of converts eventually apostate from Islam. You would think that such a high number would cause concern and make people pay attention. But they don’t. Instead they insult apostates and make erroneous assumptions about why we left.

  2. Islam is FAR from perfect. For example, most Muslims do not know about another “Muhammad” named Musaylimat..who was a pale Arab who has been confused with the real Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

    Speaking of pale Arabs what does the Qur’an say about them?

    Surah 9:97

    “The Arabs are the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy, and the most likely to ignore the laws that GOD has revealed to His messenger. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.”

    Give me a break.

    Here are some questions most Sunni Muslims cannot answer.

    1. Do you Make all of the Obligatory Prayers mentioned in the Koran?

    2. Do you worship the Ka’ba?

    3. Why do Muslims kill other Muslims if Islam is a religion of peace?

    4.Is thee more than one Ka’ba on Earth?

    More..

    Nowhere in The Qur’aan does it tell you to Sit with your finger pointed in Prayer , That’s a tradition .

    Nowhere in The Qur’aan does it tell you to be in The Mosque at Noon .

    Nowhere in The Qur’aan does it tell you to Shave your Mustache or To Dye your Beard with Henna or to put Kohl on your Eyes .

    Nowhere in The Qur’aan does it give you the Right to Name your Mosque .

    The Qur’aan clearly declares Abraham The Imaam Of All Muslims .

    Then Muslims cannot listen to music according to the hadith…what in the world?

    King David was a musical genius . He was skilled with the Oboe ( Chalil ) and the reed which he invented and he can be found in the Qu’ran also (Qu’ran 34 ; 10 )

    Muslims In One Breath Say That Singing And Music Is Haraam (Unlawful ) And In The Next Breath Wake Up To The Adhaan Which Is A Song Everybody Knows That The Adhaan Is Sweet And Beautiful Music . Muslims Also Try To Overlook That Fact That Khalwa Or Qur’aanic Chanting Is Music And Singing . Qur’aan 29 ; 45 .

    The proper dress of the scriptures is wearing white. Throughout the scriptures it tells you that the angels appeared arrayed in pure White garments . ( 2Chronicles 5 ; 11 – 12 , Revelation 15 ; 6 , Acts 1 ; 10 ) . So how come Muslims are wearing anything but this in their masjids, community, etc.?

    Anyway I will let you play in the mud with all of this..time to go back to work.

  3. Hello again Nida,

    I’ve read the refutations of the scholars and they don’t make sense. People love to throw up the “context” excuse-in what “context” is it okay for a husband to beat his wife? Would you tell a Muslim woman suffering from domestic violence that her husband is simply taking Sura 4:34 “out of context”?

    As for Muhammad-please don’t open up that can of worms sister. I understand that Muslims are incredibly sensitive about Muhammad so I do not want to go there. But if I were you I would not hold his actions up as an example. Even based on pro-Islamic sources and accepted hadiths, claiming one should follow Muhammad’s example puts you in an awkward position morally.

    And let’s get one thing clear Nida: there is a difference between Islam and Muslims. Whenever skeptical or former Muslims say anything negative about the faith, practicing Muslims immediately cast our concerns aside. We are dismissed as being bitter about how Muslims have treated us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prior to converting to Islam and during my time as a Muslim, I was blessed to meet some truly special, genuine Muslims. I still hold these individuals in high esteem. However, when it comes to ISLAM AS A RELIGION, I am critical and will continue to be so. I could be surrounded by the most wonderful and accepting Muslims. However that would do absolutely NOTHING to change what is written in the Quran and the Hadiths. It is the THEOLOGY of Islam that caused me to abandon it, not the people.

  4. By context it is meant you interpret a verse in relation to the entire Qur’an, not in relation to itself. May I ask how thoroughly you’ve studied Islam and specifically the Qur’an and sunnah?

    You do know that even native Arabic speakers still debate over the various translations of some words in the Qur’an (among those words in dispute is ‘daraba’ in the particular verse that supposedly refers to ‘wife beating’), and it seems that you do not even know Arabic, so how can you be so critical of something you haven’t even been able to study properly?

  5. Even in relation to the entire Quran, the contextul argument does not stand up. Perhaps I am crazy, but I just cannot see why God would command husbands to strike their wives.*shrugs shoulders*

    I studied Islam for years before I converted. It first appealed to me when I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X as a teenager. On the surface Islam is very impressive. It was only after I converted and began to dig deeper that the more disturbing aspects began to emerge.

    Yes I am aware of the endless debates among scholars regarding the meaning of Sura 4:34 and what ‘daraba’ means. But whether it means an actual beating, a light tap, a hit with a mishwak(as some scholars claim), LOGICALLY I find it unacceptable that a Just, Loving and Righteous God would instruct husbands to do that.

    You are right that I do not know Arabic. But seeing as less than 20% of the world’s billion-plus Muslims speak Arabic, I fail to see how this supports your argument. Whenever the Quran is criticized Muslim apologists always throw out the “but you don’t know Arabic!” excuse. Really, if not being fluent in Arabic is a barrier to understanding Islam then the majority of the world’s Muslims must all be ignorant as well! Furthermore, if the Quran is a clear guidance, why is it necessary to know classical Arabic to understand it? One would think that a Supreme God could make His message clear in any language,no?

    1. Actually the word ‘daraba’ can also mean to ‘leave’ or ‘desert’ – therefore it would make perfect sense that God never ordered man to beat his wife/wives anywhere in the Qur’an. And this is supported by the countless other proofs in the Qur’an and sunnah, that command Muslims to be kind and gentle with their wives, and that the best among the believers is he who is best to his wife.

      You stated: “Really, if not being fluent in Arabic is a barrier to understanding Islam then the majority of the world’s Muslims must all be ignorant as well!”

      Yes, indeed a practicing Muslim is humble in her/his quest for al ‘ilm. No one can claim to know the ‘Absolute Truth’ about anything, including Islam. A Muslim is one who is in a state of questioning and learning her/his entire life. It’s just that some may know more then others, and I personally strive to be the former.

      “Furthermore, if the Quran is a clear guidance, why is it necessary to know classical Arabic to understand it?”

      …because the Qur’anic, authentic message, was preserved in the unique Quraysh Arabic dialect. Any text that is translated into a different language looses some of its authenticity and accuracy – and the same applies to the Qur’an. Hence it is important to study the language itself to understand the message.

      ” One would think that a Supreme God could make His message clear in any language,no?”

      And He has. He revealed His message in many different languages to previous prophets. But God revealed it in the language that was being spoken and understood by the people at that time. to whom it was being revealed to. It’s common sense, really.

  6. “And this is supported by the countless other proofs in the Qur’an and sunnah, that command Muslims to be kind and gentle with their wives, and that the best among the believers is he who is best to his wife. ”

    Indeed this is true. On the flip side there are Muslims who would strongly disagree with your interpretation of Sura 4:34 and defend wife abuse using the same Quran and Sunnah that you follow. Matter of fact there is a hadith in which Aisha narrates an incident of the Prophet stiking her in the chest for following him out of the house. There’s an illuminating clip on Youtube about the subject of wife abus. The scholar bases his opinion on the Quran and Sunnah and also knows classical Arabic. So please do not insult my intelligence by pretending that your particular stance on Sura 4:34 is the only authentic one accepted within Islam.

    “Yes, indeed a practicing Muslim is humble in her/his quest for al ‘ilm. No one can claim to know the ‘Absolute Truth’ about anything, including Islam. A Muslim is one who is in a state of questioning and learning her/his entire life. It’s just that some may know more then others, and I personally strive to be the former.”

    Nothing in your statement addresses, let alone refutes, my earlier comment regarding the asinine idea that one can’t properly “understand” Islam unless they know Arabic. You have gone off a tangent and completely evaded the issue. I’m not surprised.

    “because the Qur’anic, authentic message, was preserved in the unique Quraysh Arabic dialect. Any text that is translated into a different language looses some of its authenticity and accuracy – and the same applies to the Qur’an. Hence it is important to study the language itself to understand the message”
    Okay, so let me get this straight: The Quran IS a clear guidance but it’s only clear if you know the “unique Quraysh Arabic dialect”. One cannot understand the message if they don’t know this dialect. What a pity then, I suppose the majority of the world’s Muslims will never understand the message of their own religion.

    “And He has. He revealed His message in many different languages to previous prophets. But God revealed it in the language that was being spoken and understood by the people at that time. to whom it was being revealed to. It’s common sense, really.”

    ROFLMBAO at this! Um no, actually there is nothing common or sensible about what you are proposing here. Quraysh Arabic was the language spoken to specific group of people ONLY. Islam bills itself as a universal religion for all people and all times. You cannot make this point, but then say you can only comprehend the faith by knowing a particular language. It completely undermines the claim of universalism and is quite stupid actually. “God sent His final unique message, but if you don’t speak the language it was revealed in you will never get this universal and timeless message!” That is completely asinine, there is no other way to put it.

    You are certainly free to continue reading and posting on my blog, but this will be my last reply to you on this particular post. I’m obviously critical of Islam and reject all its’ claims; you zealously defend it.

    None of the arguments you are making to me are new. I have heard them all before. Six months ago I would have been parroting the same flawed arguments to defend Islam, so I know exactly where you are coming from. With that said, there will be no middle ground for you and I to meet on. So quibbling about details and differing interpretations of Islam is pointless. I reject the faith completely; you follow it scrupulously, and neither one of us will be changing our minds.

  7. “Would you tell a Muslim woman suffering from domestic violence that her husband is simply taking Sura 4:34 “out of context”?”

    Yes, because as an unapologetic fundo I can tell you that that’s not how scholars- ever- interpreted the verse. You can look it up in *any* classical tafsir- ‘beating’ is not permitted by the Qur’an. What is permitted is hitting with a miswak etc (the scholars use the phrase ‘ghayr mubarrih’ i.e. not a severe hitting or one that would cause harm like leaving marks, breaking bones and so on)- this was how the sahaba explained the verse. If they explained it by saying that beating, bruising, whatever, were permitted, then I would believe in that and defend it (frankly). But, in a word, they didn’t, and so I don’t. It’s also worth adding: as Kecia Ali observes of the classical legal tradition, it is better not to hit your wife with a miswak etc at all- ‘the best of you will not strike’, or words to that effect, said Imam ash-Shaf`i, rahimahullah. That said, it (miswak stuff) is still pemissible, no doubt about it.

  8. ‘I just cannot see why God would command husbands to strike their wives’

    Nobody believes that God does *command* it (which would be to say it was wajib, which it isn’t). The sahaba and Islam’s ethical tradition would have told you quite emphatically to treat them well, to put up with them, whatever. There are countless ahadith on the virtues of treating one’s wife and one’s family well, to the best of one’s ability. That said, if she gets a little uppity, the Qur`an provides you guidelines on what to do- admonish, abandon bed, hit with miswak. So you step up the game, so to speak, every time one kind of approach fails to produce results. And if you married a good wife, in the first place- I doubt it would ever go beyond the level of admonition.

    I hope that makes sense now.

  9. Rasul Allah (salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Khayrukum khayrukum li ahli’ and any Muslim striving to be a good Muslim would do his best to implement this advice.

  10. Hello WM,

    Very interesting post, I am glad you have commented on this post. I appreciate your honesty. Your words have created a bit of a dilemma though. As you can see in Nida’s posts, she strongly argues that 4:34 is not permission to actually strike a woman,even with a mishwak. According to Nida the meaning of the Arabic word in this text, ‘daraba’, actually means that husbands are to leave or desert their wife, not physically touch them. Nida says that the Quran, Sunnah and scholars back up her position. You, WM, say that the Quran, Sunnah and scholars back up striking with a mishwak. How can you both be right?

  11. Why? Because this is a matter of legal opinion dimunitivediva. Diversity in the way we interpret some legal aspects of the faith are considered a blessing in Islam, because they can make our lives easier given our historical and intellectual differences.

    It is different if we are talking about aspects of the akeedah which all scholars are unanimous about – no one will argue about the oneness of God, or that we should believe in angels and previous prophets etc. But these matters are always up for discussion. Islam is not black and white religion – nothing is cut and dry in Islamic law. That is why we have many different schools of thought in classical Islam, and it something positive, not negative.

    1. Here is another problem with Islam is all the difference of opinion, but in a way this is good because you have the right to choose what scholar you want to follow under the Sunni sect right? You people cannot even see eye to eye on the subject of salat because for example some say it’s okay to shake your finger during At Tashahshud, but others differ in opinion. Even with the way people do dihkr at the end of salat some people argue of how that is even done. Now Nida you stated that a ” A Muslim is one who is in a state of questioning and learning her/his entire life. It’s just that some may know more then others, and I personally strive to be the former”. No a Muslim is one who is in submission to Allah.

      40:35 (Asad) such as would call God’s messages in question without having any evidence therefor: [25] [a sin] exceedingly loathsome in the sight of God and of those who have attained to faith. It is in this way that God sets a seal on every arrogant, self-exalting heart.

      40:56 (Asad) Behold, as for those who call God’s messages in question without having any evidence therefore [39] in their hearts is nothing but overweening self-con ceit, which they will never be able to satisfy: [40] seek thou, then, refuge with God – for, verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-seeing! –

      So you mean to tell me in these ayats it’s really permissible for a Muslim to question the words of your Allah, and that is who a Muslim is “constantly in a state of questioning in learning”. As a Muslim why would you continue to question you would just strive to learn. Now it’s different if you have a question concerning salat like what does it mean when you say bismillah or something like that. But if you questioning Allah’s word as a means to disagree with that then according to these ayats that is not good. All I know is that a Muslim completely follows the words of the qua’ran and the sunnah, and you cannot argue with those things to be a Muslim Nida. But ofcoarse you are going to argue in defense to that so give me your best shot lmaaaooo!

  12. Hi- I also made other comments on this thread and I think you should let them through your filter or whatever it is, or risk giving others a skewed perspective on what I said.

  13. Hang on, I’ll do it myself:

    Rasul Allah (salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Khayrukum khayrukum li ahli’ and any Muslim striving to be a good Muslim would do his best to implement this advice.

    “I just cannot see why God would command husbands to strike their wives”

    Nobody believes that God does *command* it (which would be to say it was wajib, which it isn’t). The sahaba and Islam’s ethical tradition would have told you quite emphatically to treat them well, to put up with them, whatever. There are countless ahadith on the virtues of treating one’s wife and one’s family well, to the best of one’s ability. That said, if she gets a little uppity, the Qur`an provides you guidelines on what to do- admonish, abandon bed, hit with miswak. So you step up the game, so to speak, every time one kind of approach fails to produce results. And if you married a good wife, in the first place- I doubt it would ever go beyond the level of admonition.

    I hope that makes sense now.

  14. Yay, the Muslims have found your blog. Yay. (raises hands for a wee sarcastic cheer)

    Now they’ll bore us all to death while beating us about the head with how everyone who disagrees with them about the perfection of Islam is just so overwhelmingly wrong. Look! I see a straw horse! Lots of them! A whole herd!

    You’re such a threat, Diva. Who knew? 😉

  15. @Nobody:

    I’m actually glad that they have found it, it certainly makes the comments section more lively. Really I should have started a betting pool regarding the comments they would make. It’s just too predictable!

    1. I’ve been reading your blog for a while. I enjoy it a lot. I think I’ve thought about commenting before, but I tend not to comment on blogs b/c I always feel so foolish afterwards. I can really relate to the things you’ve said — our backgrounds are so alike (even though they are also so divergent). I, too, am an ex-Muslim from a devoutly Christian, Southern family. I was also raised by a single mom. I spent a whole lot longer than seven months as a Muslim, though. I don’t regret my past but it sure does put me in a difficult present.

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