Friday, 11 December 2009

Freedom to speak (dec 09)

The freedom to speak is an enshrined value of the Western world. Something they pride themselves on and wish to promote in the Muslim world. So when the Danish cartoons happened, it was the freedom of speech debate which took centre stage. When the film Fitnah was created it was all protected by this freedom of speech value. One should be able to criticise and debate ideas, with openness as this is what creates a society which thinks about what it believes in, and questions it. So questioning the Islamic traditions in fitnah was the freedom to question and probe. Depicting the Prophet SAW as a terrorist was all about questioning the place of Islam and the Prophet SAW.

Therefore one would hope that the ability to question and debate the values embedded in the society all around us would be encouraged, urged. However the recent war on terror in Britain has set quite a different standard for Muslims, when it comes to their ability to speak and debate freely. If Muslims voice their different views about politics, society and question the norms which people swallow as universal around them, freedom of speech suddenly has no place for them. If Muslims believe that the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan is fully legitimate, as these lands have been bombed and destroyed, masses killed without any type of consent of the people, then are we supporters of terrorism? Because we believe in the self-determination of a people who are in the hands of foreign occupation? Did not Britain fight back during the Blitz? Did they welcome the bombing of their cities and embrace the Germans with open hands? Would we call those who assisted in the war effort to counter the blitz, insurgents and terrorists, simply because they wanted sovereignty in their own land?

What about those who believe the values of the people of the Muslim world should shape the way they live. The Muslim world should be allowed to let their way of life manifest itself in society and wiithin the state. Is this barbaric, backward if they want to live by the just Economic system of Islam, which distributes the wealth of the state to the poor, instead of letting the rich and elite accumulate it? A system which provides stability putting the interests of the people first, above the speculative markets? What about if they want their social values to manifest in society so that men and women maintain a respect towards each other instead of being encouraged to sexualise one another? So that family units are sanctified over individual's freedom to run after desires and temptations. Is this extremism? As if you call for a Caliphate, the Khilafah system, for the Muslim world, believing that democracy only perpetuates tyranny of man, allowing corruption of power and wealth; you have rejected the values of the West and have gone to far for this society.

But is this not the West who prides itself on the debate of ideas and values? Is this not the West who encourages people who criticise and discuss what leads to better societies? More harmonious societies?

Questions. Questions. No one seems to really answer. The problem is, the Government today, the prospective Conservative Government today is banding around alot of what will never be allowed. Extremism will never be allowed in British society, terrorism will never be allowed in British society and as Cameron has promised, he will ban Islamic groups who call for such terrorism once he comes to power. But Cameron has been quick to shove the debate about productive values in a very broken society which he wishes to mend, under the carpet. As these Islamic groups are those who are not and have never been engaged in any type of violent extremism, but have always been at the forefront of speaking out against colonisliam, occupation and the ability for Islam to solve the broken problems of society in the Muslim world. They want to discuss what values could potentially mend a society broken socially, economically and politically. So clearly Cameron's promise to ban such groups essentially means the promise to ban discussion and debate about values in society and silence those who actually think and don't just adopt the status quo blindly - That democracy is supreme. Rather maybe Cameron could stop to think - The reasons why some Muslims believe and call so wholeheartedly for Islamic law in the Muslim world, is because they wish more than anything for justice to return to our world today, the ceasing of the rich usurping the poor, and the powerful oppressing the weak. Something he could actually learn from maybe?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

When light hits the prism

Light, before it hits a prism, is one and whole. Blindingly illuminating. Then, as it travels through the unforgivingly jagged form of the prism, it splits into a variety of distinct colours which seem to have no resemblance to what came before. They all came from that same initial illuminating, all encompassing light, but the journey of the prism has shattered that oneness, creating many paths which seem now impossible to again unify.

Our purpose in life, I think, is a little like this. We all start off knowing that our purpose is one, wholly one on this earth. But as we travel through the jagged realities of this dunya, this purpose which can be explained in just three words, to worship Allah, becomes a multitiude of complex aims, desires and aspirations. And the further we fall into the lures of the dunya, the more divergent our aims and aspirations become, often becoming unrecognisable from our initial purpose, in reality, although we may not think so.

To exist in this world of course requires more than simply settling upon a prayer mat. And to fulfil your purpose in life, of worshipping Allah, definitely requires more than that. In fact as Muslims, we need to maintain a whole host of responsibilities in order to fulfil the instincts and needs we hold as human beings, in the way that Allah desires. But the question is, how do we maintain our purpose in life as well as live the life in this world?

The answer I think is quite simple. It means being able to distinguish the place where the light splits in the prism, where the purpose no longer is really the purpose. It's when we begin to do actions and then fit them into our purpose, however tenuous the link, instead of the other way round. And so normal this way of living has become for the Muslim, that to do things the other way round, raises eyebrows - they get labelled as making life as a Muslim very 'black and white'. That they have simplified it, that they have not really understood what living by Islam really means.

So when a Muslim woman has children, and she decides to fulfil her responsibility of bringing up her children, as this is the role, over all other roles, which Allah SWT will hold her to account for, she's being a bit black and white. It's all more complex than that. You can work in a job where you can do good, which gives you respect and social standing, you can put your kids in a nursery which teaches them well or you put them in the trusted care of a relative, and on top of all that the extra money that you earn will give those kids a better standard of life. It all fits in somehow to the grand scheme of our purpose in life, right? But I would ask that when we make these links, that we really stand back and ask ourselves. Is this action for Allah? Will these decisions get me closer to Jannah, or are they to enable me to progress more in this life, to fit in more in this life, to make myself more happy in this life? Because it's not really about being a stay at home mum or not. It's about the way we shape the decisions we make in life.

The point here is we live in a society today, where Capitalism has framed the right and wrong around us. From the bottom line - That money is it, has sprung values which promote accumulation of wealth, consumerism, materialism and when it comes to women, for example, in particular promotes the development of careers as the mark of value of a person. The values that the secular way of life has produced in society mean that people view personal benefit as paramount - Your career over your family, your contentment over the communities'. Although such an bare-faced exposition of society may stand as a little bit extreme, I believe that's exactly what it is. When you strip the society and values we live in of the normality which has grown on them, like the comfort of soft green moss on jagged rocks, I really believe, this is how it is.

So it's not really that complex. It is simple really. It's about the way you spend your time, that what gives you the feeling of worth and value is linked, inextricably, to your reason for being here. It actually is quite black and white. What makes things complex is the distractions of this dunya, the pressures of society and even family very often, and the luring values of personal benefit which have become so close to the way we think, they seem to even lurk under our skin.

So next time you start looking at your life in a very 'black and white' way, do so with pride, because it is Allah SWT who tells us repeatedly in the timeless Quran that those who forego the life of this world for His sake, His reward is with you.

And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the Hereafter for those who are Al­Muttaqûn (the pious). Will you not then understand? (Al-An’am 6:32)

POST FROM ISLAMIC SYSTEM BLOGSPOT: The Muslim Woman’s Dress in Public

Lately, the Islamic rulings related to the affairs of Muslim women have seen a lot of interest from the enemies of Islam who are bent on separating Muslims from their Deen. One such ruling under attack is the dress of the Muslim woman in public life. It is incumbent on all Muslims, both men and women, to defend Islam from such attacks. The best way to do so is through the Adila (evidences) that relate to the women’s dress in public life.

Sha’r (Islamic law) has imposed a dress code on the Muslim woman that is specific to public life – she is obligated to wear distinct attire known as the “Jilbaab”. In public life it is not enough for a Muslim woman to cover her Awrah, which is defined by Shar’ as all of her body except the face and the hands.

The Jilbaab covers the Awrah and fulfills other re-quirements defined by Shar’ for public life.Jilbaab: an obligation prescribed by Allah (swt)Wearing the Jilbaab is not an obligation required by the tra-dition of our forefathers, or a social custom or a right granted to the husband or the father.

It is also not a matter of personal choice for the woman, or an expression of modesty. Rather, it is an order from Allah (swt), similar to the order of prayer and the order of fasting. Allah (swt) has revealed:يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا“O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their Jalabib (plural of Jilbaab) close around them; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiv-ing, Gentle.”[TMQ 33:59]

Thus, the Muslimah wears the Jilbaab in submission to Allah (swt), seeking His pleasure and fearing His punishment:وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُبِينًا“It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah or His messenger, to have any option about their decision; if anyone disobeys Allah and His messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path.”[TMQ 33:36]

Wearing the Jilbaab is therefore a Hukm Shari (legal injunc-tion) associated with reward and punishment that is sup-ported by evidences from the Quran and the Sunnah. If the Muslim woman appears in public life without a Jilbaab over her normal clothes, she will be sinful for abandoning an obli-gation from Allah (swt).What the Islamic attire in public life is notA variety of common clothing arrangements are often con-fused with the correct Islamic attire for public life because of the misconception that simply covering the Awrah is sufficient in a public place. In truth, these arrangements are not substi-tutes for the Jilbaab and therefore do not absolve the Muslim woman of her obligation to dress correctly in public life.

For instance, some women may wear the Khimaar with a long dress or pants, while others may wear the Shalwar Kameez (traditional attire worn as an everyday dress in South Asia). However, both the Khimaar and the Shalwar Kameez are not substitutes for the Jilbaab since they fall short of satisfying the requirements for the Islamic public attire as defined by the Sha’r.

The Jilbaab in the Quran and the Sunnah

The Jilbaab is a loose outer garment which covers the whole body. The authority on the requirement for women to wear the Jilbaab is the Quran itself. In Surat al-Ahzaab the follow-ing verse instructs the Messenger (saw):يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا“O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daugh-ters and the women of the faithful to draw their Jalabib (plural of Jilbaab) close around them; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.”[TMQ 33:59]In his Tafseer, Al-Qurtubi explained:“Jalabeeb is the plural of Jilbaab, and it is a garment larger than a Khimaar (headscarf).

It has been narrated by Ibn ‘Ab-bas and Ibn Masud that it is a ridaa (large sheet of cloth). It is said that it is a qina’/veil but the correct view is that it is a garment which covers the whole body.
It has been reported in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Umm ‘Atiyyah who asked; ‘O Messenger of Allah! What about one who does not have a Jilbaab?’ He said, ‘Let her borrow the Jilbaab of her compan-ion.’”Also, In Surat An-Nur, Allah (swt) has commanded the Mus-lim woman to wear the Khimaar:وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ“Let them draw their Khumur (plural of Khimaar) over their necks and bosoms (Juyub). And let them not display (more of) their charms to any but their husbands...”[TMQ 24:31]

The Ayat is instructing women to drape their head-coverings (i.e. Khumur) over their necks and bosoms.The obligation of Jilbaab is also derived from the Sunnah of Rassulallah (saw):Umm Atiyya (ra) narrated:“We were ordered to bring out our menstruating women and screened women to the reli-gious gatherings and invocation of the Muslims on the two Eid festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from the musalla. A woman asked, ‘O Messen-ger of Allah! What about one who does not have a Jil-baab?’ He said, ‘Let her borrow the Jilbaab of her com-panion.’"[Bukhari]A report narrated by Umm Salama (ra):“When the verse, ‘That they should draw their Jal-abib close around them’ was revealed, the women of Ansar (inhabitants of Madinah) came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing Jal-abib.”[Abu Dawud]A report narrated by Aisha (ra):“The wife of Rifa'a al-Qurazi came to Allah's Messenger while I was sitting...and she was showing the fringe of her Jilbaab.”[Bukhari]As has been made amply clear by the cited evidences, the Muslim woman is obligated to wear a Jilbaab which conceals her normal clothes and drapes down until it covers her feet. This is in reference to the lower portion of the woman's clothes. As for the upper portion, she must wear a Khimaar, or something similar, that covers the entire head, the neck and the opening of the garment on the chest. In other words, it is Fard to wear these two pieces of clothes prior to leaving the house. This is because the command to wear these two pieces is general and it will remain so, since there is no evidence to make an exception to it.

It is also stipulated that the Jilbaab is draped down to the floor until it conceals the feet (i.e. they should drape their Jalabib down to the floor) because Allah (swt) says in the Ayah:يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ“…to draw their Jalabib close around them…”[TMQ 33:59]It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar (ra):“Rassu-lallah (saw) said: ‘On the Day of Judgement, Allah will not look with mercy towards the one that trails his garment behind him/herself in haughty pride.’ Umm Salama asked, ‘What are the women to do with the hems of their dresses?’ He answered, ‘Let them increase their hems the length of a hand span.’ She enquired, ‘Then their feet will be uncovered!’ He then replied, ‘Let them increase a fore arm’s length and no more.’”[Tirmidhi]This clearly shows that the garment which is worn over the woman’s normal clothes should be draped down towards the floor until it covers the feet. If the feet are covered by wearing shoes or socks, the garment must come down to the floor but it will not be necessary for it to cover the feet. However, if the feet are not covered by shoes or socks – then the garment must be draped and it must cover the feet.The Jilbaab must also not be semi-transparent to allow the normal clothes or any part of the Awrah to be seen from un-derneath. Furthermore, it must not become a form of Tabar-ruj (i.e. an attraction to men) and it must not resemble men’s clothing.In summary, it is not enough for the woman to cover her Awrah in public life. She is obligated to have a wide and loose fitting, i.e. an opaque baggy garment that she wears over her normal clothes in order to appear in public life.Muslim women steadfast in their DeenNowadays we sadly witness assaults on Islamic concepts from all corners, especially on the public symbols of Islamic observance such as the Islamic attire.

Enormous pressure is being applied on Muslim women to abandon or compromise on the correct Islamic attire in public life. The Muslim women of today should take guidance from the Muslim women of the past who were praised by the Messenger (saw) and earned the pleasure of Allah (swt). When the verses for covering were revealed they responded immediately without delay by covering their Awrah with whatever material they could find. Safiyyah, daughter of Shaybah, said that Aisha (ra) had mentioned the women of Ansar, praised them and said good words about them. She then said,“When Surat an-Nur came down, they took the curtains, tore them and made head covers (veils) of them.”[Abu Dawud]The Jilbaab: a matter of concern to Muslim husbandsAllah (swt) has clearly laid a responsibility on the husband to advise and teach the members of his household about the matters of their Deen. Allah (swt) has revealed:يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا قُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are appointed angels stern and severe, who flinch not from executing the commands they receive from Allah, but do precisely what they are commanded.”[TMQ 66:6]Therefore, the matter of the Islamic attire in public life and the obligation of wearing the Jilbaab must be conveyed by Muslim husbands to their wives and their daughters, and they must show them how to be righteous, so they may all receive the blessing of Allah (swt) and be rewarded, to-gether, with Jannah.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The sick trio

The news that three separate individuals living in different places across the UK have been charged with a series of acts of child abuse, has sent ripples of disgust as well as disbelief through the public.

The three individuals are said to have met on Facebook, and have since shared endless amounts of emails, texts and photos of the most depraved acts of child abuse. Vanessa George, a 39 year old nursery worker in Plymouth, had sent over 150 photos to Colin Blanchard from Rochdale and Angela Allen from Nottingham where she had taken the most graphic and disturbing images of sexual abuse of the children in the nursery she worked in. Between the three of them, graphic descriptions of child abuse, explicit photos were intensively exchanged to such a degree that police believe some sort of contest was occurring, due to the rapid acceleration in the depravity of the images and texts. The content of these photos and messages are so disturbing that the details are not being revealed to the public, but as they were described inside the courtroom, it was said that the parents of the children who Vanessa George possibly abused, wailed and cried in absolute despair.

The reality is paedophilia is rampant in society. The pages of newspapers are seldom free of some sort of case of sexual abuse of children. In 2002 the BBC conducted a documentary series which went on a hunt for Britain’s paedophiles and then the police’s lowest estimate for the UK, was around 230,000. And such cases are not restricted to only Britain, there was Jaycee Lee in America, the shocking Josef Fritzel case in Austria; just to name two - And these were simply two high profile cases. And finally a sad testimony of how rampant sexual abuse against children is, is just to read the barrage of comments listed after the BBC’s reports of this current case – The majority of the entries are individuals describing sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of someone as a child.

The question therefore always arises – How can we rid society of this despicable crime? The Sex Offenders Register, the CRB checking system are initiatives which seek to try to prevent acts of such sexual abuse occurring. After this current case of child abuse, a debate has now arisen on the need to ban camera phones in the workplace. Parents from the nursery within which Vanessa George worked, have already started a campaign calling for this amongst other things, as a way to prevent such sexual abuse against children in the future.

These policies and initiatives, although may make it a little difficult for sex offenders to carry out their crimes, they in no way make it impossible. A nursery worker can still smuggle a phone in into an enclosed nappy changing area in a nursery; a teacher can still obtain a successful CRB check, but still have committed atrocious crimes in secret – As was the case with Vanessa George. And although such initiatives make sexual crimes a little more difficult, they in no way eradicate the sick mentality that these people hold – the desire to sexually gratify themselves by abusing children, not caring about the consequence. This is because these people live in a society which is constantly screaming out that personal gratification is the most prized thing above all – We are told to make ourselves happy, whatever the cost. For some people that maybe enjoying a stable marital relationship, for some having one night stands with strangers one after the other, and for others sexually abusing a child. The problem is once you urge people to please themselves, different people will interprete this in different ways as this is the nature of human beings – Our desires and urges have no innate limits.

Personal gratification is pushed within Western secular societies because of the value which these societies hold as their cornerstone – Personal freedom which iterates that every individual is free to believe and behave in whatever way pleases them. This concept of freedom within society is founded by the viewpoint in life which all secular societies hold – That whether God exists or not is irrelevant, this is one life which is just about enjoying oneself and putting oneself first. Therefore this viewpoint in life inevitably affects the way people behave in the society. They have no regard for consequences of actions, as they live for themselves and are answerable to no one. This urges them to gratify themselves to a maximum degree, without even passing a thought about whether what they are doing is right or wrong, will have a good or bad impact on society. It’s simply about making oneself happy. The law is an after thought for many people, as many attempt to simply escape it.

Cases of paedophilia and child abuse, we know are not at all rare within the society we live in. However this particular case has caught much more media attention as two of the three perpetrators were women. When cases of paedophilia are committed by men, there has almost a level of desensitisation, as people are upset and angry, but not surprised. However the fact that in this instance, such depraved and disgusting acts of sexual abuse against children were committed by women – One of which who was herself a mother of two – has sent shockwaves throughout society.

The question has arisen across the board that how could a mother, who has children herself, carry out such disgusting abuse of other children? And women are seen to be the more nurturing and caring race – How could women therefore go against these instincts and behave in this way?

However in a way this debate is redundant, as regardless of whether the perpetrator is a man or a woman, both exist in the very same society which pushes increasing sexualisation in society. Therefore just because women may have more of a maternal instinct, does not mean they are immune from the dark consequences of letting their desires run free to any extent they desire. The American Psychological Association carried out a study in 2007 and found that magazines, television, video games and music videos all portray an alarming level of sexualisation in society which has a detrimental effect on particularly young girls.

Therefore paedophilia, can in no way be eradicated by simply banning camera phones from the workplace. What needs to happen is an entire overhaul of the very values of society which induce such behaviour within people. In Western secular societies this is the poisonous concept of freedom.
Islam on the complete other hand has a totally different viewpoint in life to secularism. Islam believes there is a God – A Creator who created everything in this world, including all of mankind. Islam iterates that mankind has come from this Creator, Allah SWT, and will undoubtedly return to Him SWT. This viewpoint in life creates a fundamental value within the Muslim, of accountability to Allah SWT in every action that one does.
This means that before seeking to fulfil one’s desires in whatever way one wants, despite the consequences on other people and society, the Muslim will think about what pleases Allah first.
Islam’s stance on sexual relations of any type outside of marriage between two consenting partners, is clear as the Prophet said in narrated by Abdullah bin ‘Abbas:
“A person who commits this act (sexual intercourse outside of marriage) is not a true believer of their faith” Imam Bukhari and Muslim
The system of Islam works to help sustain this mentality of chastity outside of marriage which Muslims hold, within the society. The fact that Islam directs the sexual instinct specifically to the realm of marriage and takes it completely out of society; means there are minimal agitations for the instinct in public life. This means that any billboards, TV advertisements, magazine pictures which depict anything even slightly sexual would be forbidden. The rule of segregation of the sexes, a man and woman not being allowed to be alone together and the strict punishments for fornification, rape and even accusing a chaste woman all supplement this mentality of chastity, and help the Muslim uphold their taqwa.
Therefore forget abusing children, the Islamic society aims to prevent the abuse of any man, woman or child. And it therefore is only the Islamic society which can return the depraved state we see across the world today, to a content and harmonious one. One where the simple thing of protecting our children and vulnerable, is maintained.

Friday, 18 September 2009

This is iman

The Prophet SAW in his ascent to Jannah could smell a beautiful smell and asked Jibrael what the beautiful smell was. He SAW was told this was the smell of the hairdresser of the daughter of Firaun, and her children,.

Who may this woman and her children be, we may ask? Yet another figure in an Islamic history book? But surely, my dear sisters, this woman is more than a dormant figure in a book. This woman is the magnificent, most beautiful example for us all, on what Iman really means. What steadfastness upon the Haq really means. And what sacrifice fi sabeelilah really means.

And the hadith narrated in Ahmad and Ibn Majah is as follows:

The hairdresser of the daughter of the Firaun, a nobody, another servant in the expansive quarters of the Firaun was one day combing the hair of her master's daughter. And as she was doing so, she accidentally dropped the comb and after picking it up to resume her combing, she subconsciously uttered Bismillah. Just as we do, my dear sisters, before we eat, before we do any action, the utterance of bismillah is alhumdulilah of second nature to us, as it alhumdulilah was to her. But this utterance in no way had the same repercussions as maybe out utterances do today. Swiftly the daughter asked her what she had said, asking her whether she was mentioning the name of her father.

But this brave and valiant woman's reply was - No. I mention Allah, my God and the God of your father. Immediately the daughter became angry and rushed to her father to tell him what had happened. He, in his anger, at finding this out, summoned her to him.

And she came and stood, a woman, a woman, sisters, in front of this great, most tyrannical and dictatorial Pharaoh. And he said to her, 'who is your god?' And she said, 'Allah is my lord.' He said 'who is Allah?' She said 'Allah is my god and yours.' Yes, she was cornered and put in a place, when she had to answer, she answered. No compromise, no thinking about how it would affect her job, her livelihood and most of all her 5 children.

Her answer made the Firaun furious and he ordered for chains to be brought. They whipped her, punsihed her but her reply was the same 'Allah is my lord and yours.'

And so he ordered for them to bring a large container and he spilt boiling oil in to this container, and then he said, 'bring me all her children!' And her first child was brought. A child who for a mother, her heart aches for, when he may graze his knee, bang his head. Yet as the Firaun asked her the same question again and her response was the same, this child was put into the boiling oil, for his flesh to melt away from his bones, leaving his mother in this dunya.

But my dear sisters, the pain of the loss of a child, in front of your very eyes, in a manner which could make the coldest of hearts weep, did in no way weaken this jewel of Allah. She continued to watch all four of her children being immersed in the boiling oil and killed in this way. And then came the fifth, a baby who was still breastfeeding. And she was about to pull back. Imagine sisters, the innocent form of a baby whose total dependence on the mother for all form of nourishment, imagine how a mother would feel to think of the fate that laid for him. And then Allah SWT, the Lord of the heavens and the earth, in his magnificence, enabled this baby to speak to his mother. 'Be patient my mother, you are in the truth, Allah Allah has promised you with a great heaven, keep going mother.' SubhanAllah!

And the same fate befall the innocent baby.

She knew she was next and she began to cry. The tyrant, Firaun, then asked her why she was crying. And sisters, it was not in regret of what she had done, or in anger for Allah's test upon her. No. It was because she had a request she wanted to ask this man, but she did not know whether he would comply. And what was this request?

This request was - After she was also boiled alive, that all that remained of her and her children should be gathered together and buried in the same grave. This is so, on Yawm Ul Qiyamah, she could be raised with all the children beside her and enter Jannah with them.

Sisters, what are our tests? Comfort? Ease? The fear of what people will say to us? The sacrifice of wealth, status, career? Just think of this fragant jewel of Jannah, and remember that nothing is too big a sacrifice for the sake of our Rabb.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A picture of the end

The Prophet SAW always iterated, that a believer should remember death. So sisters, please imagine:

The time for the day’s iftar is nearing and you count in your head the many things you still have to do in the short time span that you have. And then you remember you have not prayed Asr Salah. You leave the ladle beside the cooker, brush your hands with the tea towel nearby and gallop up the stairs to make wudu. You had intended to break the fight the children were having over the new remote controlled car you bought them, but you reassure yourself, that you can do so in about ten minutes, after you finish your salah.

You splash the water in the bathroom sink as you whizz through wudu, then just about wipe the dripping water off your face with the hanging towel and rush to your room, eyeing it for the prayer mat. You find it, throw it down onto the thick soft carpet and swiftly make your takbir. You try to forget the fizzling noise of the hot oil frying the samosas you can hear in the distance, as you know if you think about this, you will be worrying over the colour of the samosas, over the concentration in your salah. You recite the surahs, complete the sujood and as you turn your head in salam, finishing off your salah, and your thoughts immediately return to all the commotion happening downstairs. You can hear the oil, you can hear the cartoons on TV, but now most of all you can hear two children arguing and screaming over a small red remote controlled car you found in a sale yesterday.

And you rise quickly, scanning in your head all the things you still have left to do and thinking about the order in which you will do them to ensure everything gets done before the time of iftar. As you rise you sweep up the prayer mat with you from under your feet. But as you fold the prayer mat in half, it falls from your hands, to end up in a scrumpled heap on the floor in front of you. And over the next few seconds, the following happens:

A piercing, numbing pain consumes your entire head which feels like someone ripped your head apart from the inside. So intense is the pain, that it overwhelms every sensation you felt just one moment ago. So intense is the feeling that the clear vision that you just had becomes dark and the walnut veneered wardrobe which always stands in front of you directly in your vision, when you pray salah, every day, no longer is recognisable.

You realise that you are falling to the floor, hitting something on your left side which you know is the end of the bed. You have not even thought about making some sort of noise through your mouth, but you can’t even think how to use it as you can’t find your voice. But before you can even exert that effort your whole body violently convulses and you are laying in your vomit on the floor. Things slowly come back into focus and you can see the colourful pieces of lego, play plates and cups under that walnut veneered wardrobe that have collected over time. You can hear again the shouts from downstairs which have seemed to have died down and despite the numbing pain which has engulfed your head, a bellowing ache forms in the deepest pit of your stomach as you have flashes of the baby always looking for you, but never being able to express it, you imagine your daughter sitting at the living room window wondering when you will come back and you imagine them waiting at the school gates with the delicate hope of seeing you, just maybe today, pulling up in the car. You briefly think of all those you love and you feel crippled when imagining the pain they will feel. But as you lay there, feeling very little, not understanding where you are now, what is happening, one thought becomes crystal clear in the depths of your heart.

The feeling that you felt before you undertook your most important exam, the feeling you felt before you faced your parents after disobeying them in the worst way possible at some point in your childhood – Think back to the most intense, gripping sense of fear you have felt, having no idea what was to come, being crippled by the feeling of not knowing what would happen to you. Think back to this feeling and multiply it exponentially. Because lying there, in the double bedroom, of your three bedroomed house, with the cooking still on the hob downstairs, the kids still running around chasing the speeding car across the room, you realise that this is it. This is the moment when it all ends, all opportunities, all hopes, all desires, everything comes to a dark end. Overwhelming feeling of being lost, the unknown engulfs you as you realise that your limbs will now bring you now avail to gtake you where you want to go, as you are going back to Allah. No turning back, the good deeds and the evil sins now stand in their separate lines waiting to travel with you, back to your Rabb. All those times when you put the wealth, the children, the enjoyments of this dunya above the pleasure of your Rabb; all those times when you thought tomorrow will be the time when I sacrifice for Allah; all those times now are all you have, without ever actually embracing the sacrifice– Those times now are all you have.

The pictures of those times now dry in your mind, and your heart frantically tries to change them, etch some out, ply some of them to rub out the sin and complacency in the dunya. But as helpless as you lie there on your bedroom floor, you realise you are just as helpless now in changing any of your deeds. You are now in Allah’s hands, waiting for His account, with the story of your life as your baggage. That realisation that would be strong enough to knock you down to the floor overcomes you, that the end really did come and you never made those sacrifices, never detached your heart from the pulls of the dunya. You are trapped in a time now where there is going to be no going back, and you would cry the tears of a lifetime in regret but you are past that ownership of yourself and your free will.

As the Angel of Death swoops into your suburban home to collect the next soul for that night, your physical self is still curled up on the floor next to the creased up prayer mat. The stench of the vomit travels into the passage and your loved ones try to understand what the smell is. The screams and the cries of those who walk in, as the Angel glides away, to find you would have perturbed you beyond belief when you were in this dunya, but now your ears cannot hear them you eyes cannot see them.

There is no immunity from death, so there should be no denial of it. May Allah SWT help us to remember death and our return to him, just as we remember living our lives in the dunya.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Back in the month where Allah SWT could do no more to urge us to worship him

It's been a while. I'm not yet another one of those blogs who has been electrically active then disappeared into thin air when posting gets tedious. Because it's all for Allah SWT right? We don't get tired of praying and fasting, so how can we tire of spreading the word of Allah?

Post maternity leave 3 month return to work, a mad trip with two young children to Malaysia which although was supposed to be leisure ended up being an examination of my patience and stress levels. But now alhumdulila back at home, with the kids, wondering how to structure life, with no work lying ahead, no new baby about to come, it's just about fulfilling my responsibilities in the best way possible. And as someone asked, will I get bored? Bored? What a question. How can you get bored when you have the weight of the responsibilities of a Muslimah on your shoulder... Where is the time or audacity to feel boredom? The Angel of Death lurks behind us, in front of us every twenty minutes or so, someone once worked out if I remember correctly - Would I tell him, when he finally decided to take me, yikes I was bored with fulfilling my obligations of being a mother and bringing up my children in the best way that I can so Paradise can be at my feet, bored maintaining the home which brings me the reward of a jeehad, and tired with trying to carry Allah's deen to everyone around me in a time which is as dark as the time the Sahabah struggled in...??!!! So nope, bored, doesn't even fit in the equation. And I'm sorry, but I'm not that much of a sheep that I will kill myself working in the office in the day, working at home in the night, fighting with my kids and fighting with my hubby, just to get through the day. Yes everyone around me is doing it, people in my office even did it, but I have to ask myself why and I would rather choose tranquility in life, any day.

But having returned from Malaysia in the blessed month of Ramadan, of course Ramadan always sparks thoughts about what ibadah means. And my thought for tonight, as we enter the most blessed ten days of Ramadan, is that understand what ibadah really is. Because something is clearer than crystal, whatever action you do, whatever intention you have Allah SWT is the All Hearing and All Seeing, he knows it all. So if you neglect Allah's commands all year round, going by what pleases you, what fits in with the people you hang out with, over what Allah wants of you, Allah doesn't forget this, come Ramadan. Even though you may begin your fasting, retrieve your prayers and even maybe don the hijab, Allah SWT knows that you do it in this month maybe because everyone else does it, maybe because this month has a special spiritual atmosphere that motivates you, or maybe you do just want to please Allah. But our obedience to Allah knows no limits, no seasonalities. Allah keeps out hearts beating 365 days a year, every second every minute of the day, not by season or by month. Allah SWT grants us the mercy of family, rizq (provisions) even the mercy of tests in life to gain reward and expiate our sins, these mercies are never part-time, or intermittent.

So without questioning whether we mean to worship Allah sincerely in this month or not, the bigger question is why we have the mentality that we can choose when to obey Allah and when not to:
'But no, by your Lord, they can have no real iman until they make you (oh Muhammad) judge in all of the disputes and find in themselves no resistance in your decision and accept them with fullest submission' (surah Nisa)
Allah SWT uses many things in his Noble Quran to swear by, but in this ayah he views the content to be of so much importance that the Lord of the worlds swears by Himself. And Allah SWT majestically tells us in this verse, that our obedience to what the Messenger of Allah brought us goes beyond the fancies and superficial desires we human beings hold - And real faith is by embracing the code of Islam, as our own code for life. Despite the fear of what friends and family will see, the fear of loss of a job or client, the desires of status and honour in this world - whatever it may be - fullest submission is only what it can be.

Don't end this Ramadan by switching off the religious button in your brain. And anyway, you can only switch off something when you have the power to do so. But this is Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala we are talking about. The Allah who exists all year round, sees everything you do, and is closer to you at this very moment than your jugular vein. And let's face it, it's not us who really does the switching off, that's for Allah isn't it, when he decides to make that last intake of cool oxgenated air, our very last.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Polygamy – The Cause of ‘Social Breakdown’?

Newsnight’s recent report into polygamy highlighted how the practice was on the increase within the Muslim community in the UK, despite it being reportedly on the decrease in the Muslim world. The report sought to understand the effects polygamy has on family life, and why Muslims in the UK may be taking it up. The report interviewed a woman who had been in a polygamous marriage and found it a negative experience. She claimed polygamy was not about ‘religion’, but about ‘Men out there’ who were ‘abusing women’.

Shadow Cohesion Secretary, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, raised her concerns about polygamy in the report, claiming that many of her female constituents are suffering within the practice, and she felt strongly that the Government was turning a ‘blind eye’ to it and the ‘social breakdown’ it was causing.

It is interesting that this report very vividly laid out polygamy within the Muslim community being the reason for social breakdown as well as the abuse and exploitation of women in society. As in reality even if it is on the rise, polygamy occurs within a very small proportion of the Muslim community, which is a community which itself forms a mere 2.8% of the UK population. Therefore the numbers of people affected by polygamy are minute, in proportion to the population of Britain.

So the question begs, how can such a small practice be blamed for the cause of social breakdown in society? Rather if the Government want to deal with ‘social breakdown’, should they not look at the actual social breakdown happening all around them - The mainstream attitudes in their society which cause fathers to walk away from women they have made pregnant without so much as a flinch, men who drug women at a parties and rape them while they are unconscious and partners who treat their women in whatever way pleases them? Are these practices sweeping across British society, over the miniscule practice of polygamy, not the ones causing real ‘social breakdown’ to the utmost degree?

Statistics only further highlight this ‘social breakdown’ that is occurring within British society today. One cannot blame polygamy for the fact that births outside marriage in the UK, have gone from about 10% in 1970s to over 40% in the 2000s, and in 2007 the proportion of lone parents as heads of households was treble that of the 1971 statistic of 4%. It is not in polygamy that can be pointed at for the fact that domestic violence accounts for nearly a quarter of all recorded violent crime in England and Wales and on average and two women per week are killed by a male partner or former partner. And it was not polygamy that caused the Children’s Society to conclude from their report of children in the UK that they were more depressed and anxious than ever - Rather it was the excessive individualism of adults whose love lives and romance came before stability and security for their children.

Therefore clearly, it is not polygamy that is causing 'social breakdown' in society and maybe if the media as well as Baroness Warsi turned their spotlight in the correct direction, they may begin to deal with the real social breakdown happening all around us. This has been and is continuing to be the disastrous effects of liberalism, where people believe they are free to do what they want and treat others however they want, irrespective of responsibilities, commitments and what is right or wrong.

The ironic thing about this polygamy onslaught is that if a man wishes to commit and gives rights to other women that he has a relationship with, this is criminalised under UK law – However if a man wants to marry one woman and mess around with others giving them no rights or commitment, he has full right to do so under the law. This highlights the utter fallacy of man-made law where the indulgements and fulfilment of sensual desires comes first, before the rights of people and what is best for family and the society.

No one denies that Muslim men who have conducted polygamous marriages and have done things such as conceal previous wives identities, denied other wives the same rights as the first, are not in the wrong, as Allah SWT says: ‘Marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial’ (Surah Nisa: 3) Thus unjust treatment is in fact in contradiction to Islam, as a man must be able to give all his wives equal shares in everything and must treat them all justly, as he is accountable to Allah for his treatment of them. The Prophet SAW said, ‘The best of you are those who are best to their wives and I am best to mine.’ However the issue here is not that polygamy is the problem, rather it is the fact that the men have not adhered by the correct process in line with the Quran and Sunnah, but have used it to fulfil their own whims and desires.

Finally this polygamy debate has been nothing more than the latest attack that the media has had the opportunity to undertake on Islam and namely on Muslim women. After debates about the hijab, niqab, burka all subjugating and oppressing the Muslim woman, polygamy is the issue that is next in line for this discussion. However this is rather misconstrued as it is not only Muslims who practice polygamy. Firstly as discussed above, masses of people practice ‘polygamy’ in British society, but it just doesn’t have the same name - Those who have affairs, extra-marital relationships. Also the Jewish community and many Christian groups within the US, such as the Mormons practice it, but the report did not even so much as touch upon their communities, and how women are oppressed in them.

What this does show therefore that such an attack is just the latest in line on the ever increasing attack upon Islam as a way of life, and all of its systems. Despite who else practices polygamy, and who else oppresses and subjugates women on an even bigger scale, it is Islam and Muslims who are under the spotlight and must take the blame for these issues. It is without a doubt the fact that the comprehensiveness nature of Islam is a threat to the Western values and a hatred is actively being built up of the distinct Muslim way of life, to try and curb its rapid flourishment across the globe. But we all know the beautiful words of Allah SWT when he assures the Muslims: “They wish to extinguish the light of Allâh with their mouths, but Allâh will perfect His light; even though the unbelievers detest it. It is He Who sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that it may prevail over all other religions, even though those who worship others besides Allâh may detest it.” [Surah as-Saff 8-9]

Monday, 13 July 2009

Here we still are

Women in Afghanistan are facing increasing violence almost eight years after the fall of the Taliban, a UN report has showed. The report, issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, focuses on the "growing trend", not rapid decrease, of violence and sexual threats made against women in public life. So eight years after a liberation war, here we still are.

The thing about Afghanistan was that if it ever was first about rooting out one famous man - the Notorious Mr Bin Laden, the operation soon became something else. As it had to, just as Iraq did otherwise how else could the public continue to stomach and support what was happening. And the something else it had to become was the women. From the onset of the Afghanistan campaign, the blue grilled burqa draped over a suffocating Afghani woman was just as frequent an image as that of Mr Bin Laden himself - The women's plight in Afghanistan very swiftly took centre stage in the world's media as the second in line plug for the devastating bloodshed. We heard very soon about the ‘no everything policy’, which is what I call it – No education, no healthcare with male consent, no ability to go outside without male permission, etc. These female struggles became apparent to us with the unprecedented sudden media spotlight, and the world longed for the heroic solders to go and liberate them.

But we sit here eight years later, knowing what happened next. That eight years on, British soldiers continue to die by their many trying to conquer Afghanistan from the multitude of factions and tribes which govern it and women's rights has become the least of the problems on the Western To-Do list. Although there is some sort of Afghani ‘democratic’ parliament put in place, their presence serves more for glossy photo opportunities for the media, than an actual ruling capacity over the people. It is the warlords and their multiple factions who in reality, still rule Afghanistan. So even when the Karzai Government, under Western pressure have attempted to make reforms, they have not have the courage to implement any real change at all – Having attempted to deal with violence against women within marriage, they have recently taken a small step to simply tweak the marital law so that men can still starve their wives as a punishment, instead of physically beat them.

The reality is, the situation for women in Afghanistan is not very different now than it was before the war – Rates for education for girls in Kabul has slightly increased with the ability for NGOs and other independent organisations to work there, however in the South and West of the country things are just as they were eight years ago. Professional women across the country are still kidnapped and killed as the Taliban and its factions continue to assert their authority on how they view women in society. This seems nowhere near the liberation that the West claimed to bring Afghanistan’s female race.Western liberalism did of course in some attempts enter Afghanistan. Beauty salons grew in stature in Kabul and the beauty company Revlon swooped in before the women could even fling there burqas off. This reinforced the message from the West to the Afghani women; that adopting the view that looking pretty is a measure of liberation, is the way forward for them.

But the thing is the burqas did not actually fling off, even with the presence of salons and Revlon. Forget the fact that lipsticks would be the least of their concerns, there is a deeper discussion to be had about values. Without sounding naive, of course women in Afghanistan still feared the repercussions of the Taliban warlords in rejecting their rules, anyone could say which would be the main reason for their continuing submission, but there was a more deeper issue here I think. Although the Afghani women were atrociously oppressed, liberation for them was not necessarily about slapping on some Revlon make-up. And this is something the world needs to understand - That liberation for women is not only in the form of Western liberalism where women must assert their sexual freedoms and desire to live like a man through equality, to feel liberated. In fact history in the West shows that exploiting the sexuality of women through the value of freedom, has brought a whole different set of devastating problems for society. Thus although denial of basic rights, being owned like cattle is the Afghani society’s absolute exploitation of women; can the opposite be drawn from societies which implement liberalism? Is not the standard of women being sexual comoddities as the norm as well as leaving her to run the rat race of seeking her own financial independence despite what other responsibilities she may have in life, another form of exploitation? How can such standards for women be seen as the liberation when they have their own chains of subjugation?

Eight years, ten years, twenty years. Even if Britain and America set their hearts on changing women's rights in Afghanistan with what they see as their golden freedom and liberalism, they would only replace one set of problems, with a whole host of another. So it’s time we seek a solution for the women of Afghanistan which actually gives them rights and protection without unshedding another load of social problems. And a change that would actually put the needs of the people, and the women first – not make them the convenient smokescreen to cover up real political objectives. This is the complete system of Islam, which enshrines rights for women in such a way that it fosters absolute honour and protection for them from all types of exploitation in society.

It is Islam which forms the sentiments of the people of Afghanistan, for even those who have twisted it to exploit the people. And it is Islam which forms the sentiments of the women, who seek Allah’s mercy and help for the oppression they undergo. And it is the Islamic ruling system, led by a sincere ruler, which can eradicate all the tribal practices once and for all and ensure it is only the pure and undiluted Shariah which is implemented as happened in the time of the Prophet SAW. And most importantly, for this debate, it is Islam which will actually give women their rights to full participation in public life, without compromising their role as women. Instead of punishing a race for holding X chromosomes in their DNA, Islam actually gave them a distinct value; as the Prophet SAW famously once said, ‘Paradise is at the feet of your mother’ and that ‘The world and all things in the world are precious but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman.’ Which other society can boast of enshrining the honour of a woman in such an intrinsic way as this?

The Afghanistan dilemma has become a plagued one in the Western media today, as all wonder how it is they can overcome this lingering mess. But one thing remains sure, that whether their military campaign ends ‘successfully’ or not, the place of women in Afghanistan will remain a cause for concern until real change can occur for them, which brings real honour. Not the most popular change, which has no proven track record in the least.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Universal Gender Equality?

The Government’s recent counter terrorism strategy, Contest 2, has not only clearly set forward what constitutes as terrorism when it comes to Muslims, but also what values we should hold. What ‘extremism’ is, is no longer a sketchy phrase twisted by whoever uses it – It now has a clear definition of a Muslim who carries ideas that do not fit in with the liberal secular views of the West, and includes objection to homosexuality and belief in Shariah law. This agenda therefore in moulding the Muslim, is very much upon the values more than anything. And for Muslim women, there is nothing more dangerous than their call to abandon the values of the Islamic social laws and take upon the Western values of gender equality. The former Home Secretary, John Reid, told a Muslim audience in September 2006:

Our fight is with those who do not share our values and who use terror to try and force us to accept theirs. When I say values, I mean those values based on our shared humanity on our shared understanding of the rights to life, equality, justice and opportunity, the principles of devotion to family and to society, and to faith, to good works, to good deeds, to charity.

‘Equality’ here is assumed to be a value the whole of humanity undoubtedly take on, and a value as he goes onto say is synonymous with good families, society and general goodness. That is an absolution sweeping assumption, that most do not question - But what I want to pledge today, is that, please, women, do question.
Tessa Jowell, the then Culture Secreatary, commented on the veil fiasco ignited by Jack Straw by saying that veiled women were failing to take a full place in society and that ‘equality for women’ was something integral which ‘We fought generations for’. The Government have therefore been trying to lure Muslim women out of their shells, into the world of gender equality with a whole host of measures. The Muslim Women’s Advisory Group, set up by the Home Office, has been active since the July bombings, providing the Home Office with insight into the world of Muslim women and the community. This advisory group most recently launched a massive programme called, ‘Play your part – Make your mark’, to try and get more Muslim women active in British public life, from becoming school Governors to actual politicians.

Behind the mask of being active in your community, the Government is attempting to entice Muslim women to leave their unique social standing given by Islam, and adopt a value which the West have ‘fought generations for’. By using Muslim women themselves to take this call out to the community, through seemingly innocuous calls such as help your community, the Government has been able to pressure and lure Muslim women to take on roles just like men – As of course, women are drawn as when packaged like this, we all want to fulfil our potential and give our due to our communities and our children. As it is not about being involved in the community, the problem I have with the whole agenda is the sweeping assumtion that somehow the lifestyles of specifically Muslim women, needs altering, and it is the values of therefore Muslim women that need changing. Cmon we all know that a lack of political participation and activism in society is absolutely shameful within the cruxes of mainstream British societies.

Therefore we need to understand in its entirety what this ‘gender equality’ is actually about and not fall for the rosy picture painted for us all. As Tessa Jowell very nicely pointed out, the idea of ‘gender equality’ arose actually out of the hostile battle women had to undergo in the West to simply attain certain rights for themselves in this society. Women in the West were faced with the inability to vote, leave a violent husband, own property and had poor rights in education and employment. Women were seen as lesser to men, having lesser mental capacity to be active in public life. It was therefore brave women who took it upon themselves to fight these oppressive circumstances and battle against the establishment and men, attempting to grab everything men had and were entitled to. It is this battle which has evolved to today, where women still feel on the defensive, fighting to have everything and be everything men are despite the consequences; and whether this is even the right thing to actually do.

The battle for equality has meant, that women in society have lost value for who they are as women, but are constantly trying to live upto the roles of men and thus contribute to the economy – as this is set as the measure of achievement. It means that women feel in order to be valued and feel successful, they must work – Whether this be delaying a family until an age when they regret not being able to conceive, or after having children assigning their care to other than themselves in the name of trying to still feel successful. Therefore how can this idea of equality lead to the successful building of the family and therefore society, when family incessantly becomes a second class priority?

Gender equality does not appreciate, in the workplace or in the home, the innate differences of the sexes rather ignores them leaving women to suffer. As when working women do bring home an income just like their partner, they find that the equality attitude does not stretch that far when it comes to the home. The majority of the housework still needs to be fitted in by them. An Oxford University study in 2001 showed that whether a woman works or not, this has little impact on the predominant amount of housework a woman does.The fact that better flexible working conditions for mothers and better maternity rights has also been a more recent ongoing battle shows how gender neutral laws and policies have done little to actually cater for the woman. And therefore women have been forced to betray equality in its essence in calling for such policies, just in order to survive in the workplace.

Thus the reality is real gender equality does not actually exist in society. This can be shown moreso in the fact that the gender pay gap between men and women still exists despite the lengthy equality battle so far - A study by the Office for National Statistics last year, claimed that this gap had widened to 17.1%. A report by the Equal Opportunities Commission in 2004 showed that women still faced a ‘glass ceiling’ when it came to progressing to senior positions in a variety of sectors. Finally equality in no way, has guaranteed the honour of women in society – A recent Home Office report found that there were over 650,000 reported cases of domestic violence in the last year, three times more than the previous year. Clearly the current viewpoint towards women in society is not working and it is time we look towards a viewpoint and solution which will guarantee women peace and tranquility and maintain their honour.

Islam views men and women in a totally different light to the West. In the eyes of Allah SWT, the Creator of mankind; all Muslims, men or women are equal in their intellect and in their ability to accrue good deeds:
Indeed the Muslim men and Muslim women, and the believing men and the believing women, and the men who obey and the women who obey, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and the humble women, and charitable men and the charitable women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their chastity and the women who guard their chastity, and the men who profusely remember Allah and the women who profusely remember Allah – for all of them, Allah has kept prepared forgiveness and an immense reward.’ Surah Ahzab 35

However when it comes to men and women, Islam looks at the overall needs of society as well as individuals. Both men and women have the right to vote, have a political voice, have access to justice and are punished in the same way, as these are things are gender irrelevant. However when it comes to the family unit, the centrepoint of society and the role of men and women within this, Islam takes a unique view which places the good of the community and society before greedy desires of individuals and establishments.

Allah SWT designated different roles for men and women, according to their different needs and abilities. Women have therefore been given the primary role of looking after the home and family, whilst the father is given the role of the breadwinner and the guardian of the family. The Prophet SAW said:
‘Each of you is a guardian and each is resonsible for those under his care. A ruler is a guardian, a man is a guardian of his family, a woman is the guardian of her husband’s house and children. For each of you is a guardian and each of you is responsible for those under his care. ‘ (Bukhari and Muslim)

Neither role is better or lesser than the other, but each plays a vital role in society to build it prosperously and each role is valued for its contribution. Under the Islamic Khilafah rather, being a wife and a mother is not a cause for ridicule or failure, rather is looked at with great admiration by society as the Prophet SAW said, ‘Paradise lies at the feet of the mother’ and He SAW said of a virtuous wife, ‘The world and all things in it are precious, but the most precious of all is a virtuous wife’. Women would therefore not be pressured to juggle a career, home and family, just in order to feel successful; rather the Khilafah would deem a woman’s contributions to her family the best contribution she can make to society and value this. Muslim women therefore would not measure their contributions and successes against men, but by what Allah, their Creator, has prescribed for them.

Islam never set the status quo for women at a lower position than men, rather from the onset Islam enshrined the honour and value of women in an Islamic society as wives and mothers. Therefore there is no room under the Khilafah for derogatory attitudes towards women, treating them as commodities as is seen in the West. As the Prophet SAW warned the believers in his Last Sermon:
‘Fear Allah regarding women, they are a trust in your hands’
Therefore my dear sisters in Islam! Understand that this call for gender equality in the West may appear as giving you many rights and liberation, but in actual fact it will enslave you to the oppressive law of man and subjugate you. It is only the Deen of Allah SWT which can guarantee you value for who you are and the beautiful things you can contribute to the society around you.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

I am free to do what I want

In this society, many of us really believe we are free to do what we want with our lives. And being a teenager or young adult, brings with it a whole different perspective. Soon as we enter into the world of being a young person in this society, we are tempted to take on a whole outlook on the way we live life. Whether its going out to clubs and pubs, looking for no-strings-attached romance or being typically rebellious with family and authority; the attitude of just living by whatever takes ones fancy or gives one pleasure is a common one for teenagers.

In Western society, the youth have created as well as have been pushed into a niche where responsibility is a far concern as seeking pleasures is the only concern. Thus being sexually active without responsibility has grave consequences – Alfie Patten, the 13 year old who became a father was a shocking example of this. This is no surprise as a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International in 2005 revealed that in the US, 27% 13 to 16 year olds and 41% of 14 to 15 year olds are sexually active. It is therefore no surprise that teenage pregnancies are a significant problem in the West, with the US and Britain having the highest rates.

Although the attitude of doing as one pleases exists in the West, the reality is that we live in a society, not in isolation. Therefore although some of us may interprete freedom in our lives as just trying to get a good job, have a decent career and start a stable family to make ourselves happy, another person may interprete this freedom in a totally different way. So making oneself happy for a rapist has a lot more of a disasterous consequence, although they have acted upon the same idea that we ourselves hold - the freedom to please ourselves. So if we really believe we all should be allowed to exercise our own freedoms as we live quite a decent and righteous life, then we should not have a problem with a rapist existing in our society too, who also has exercised his freedom.

Are you really free?

This is the question which many of us living in Western societies assume the answer to. However if we really ask ourselves this question we will find the answer to be in the negative. We are not at all really free. Although society promotes sexual freedom to satisfy ones desires, the British law requires that you must be above the age of 16 to do so. Although we believe we are free to dress in whatever way we please, be it a sack even if we chose, the reality is if you decided to walk down the street stark naked, you would be arrested. If you asked a newspaper to report some type of abuse about the Queen you would be told that it was not allowed.

Therefore it is clear we are not at all totally free – We are just free to the extent that society and the Government allow you to be. Therefore the question then begs, that if we are not free, but all live by a set of norms and rules, then what rules should we be following? The norms of a society which human beings have decided for themselves, or the norms and rules of the Creator who created our very bodies and souls?

Freedom causes you to think only about yourself

The desire to exercise their desires before anything else, damn any responsibility naturally fuels a certain mentality within young people. The endless quest to make oneself happy, makes people put their own desires first, above anyone elses.

The idea of individualism in society causes young people to just have fun without limits, without thinking about the impact on other people or on society. Individualism gives boys the licence to do behave sexually in whatever way they please, but never intend to commit to the girl they are intimate with. Individualism means a superficial desire of always wanting a pretty size 8 girlfriend, as a woman on a BBC reality TV show about single mothers disclosed, that her partner left her whilst she was 5 months pregnant because he felt she lost her ‘looks’. Individualism means parents who prioiritised their own career success or love life over the wellbeing of their children, as reported by the 2009 Children’s Society report; which has resulted in children being more anxious and unhappy.

The panel which produced the 2009 Children’s society report stated that the current ‘excessive individualism needs to be replaced by a value system where people seek satisfaction more from helping others rather than pursuing private advantage’. [1]

Western societies breed the idea of individualism as an idea people live by in society and you are told it does not matter how your actions affect others – if you are fine that’s all the matters. However this is not at all true as everything people do in society affects others – If a man is intimate with a woman and gets her pregnant and then does a runner, he not only affects the life of the woman who has to survive and bring up a child and fend for herself alone, but he also affects the life of the baby who grows up without having a father figure. Actions by individuals affects society, and this is the idea that must be understood by Western society for it to deal with the current social breakdown that is being witnessed in society.

Islam cares about others around you

There is a Hadith reported in Bukhari, narrated by Nu'man bin Basheer (ra) that the prophet (saw) said,
"The example of the one who stands for the Deen of Allah and the one who has left it are like the people in a boat, some of whom occupy the upper deck and some occupy the lower deck. Whenever those in the lower deck need water, they have to go to the upper deck to retrieve it. So some of them said, ‘why don't we make a hole in our deck so we do not harm the people of the upper deck?' If the people do not stop them, they will all fall and be failures, but if they stop them they will all be saved"
The Prophet SAW is here aliking the example of the situation of people needing to work together to keep a ship afloat, like people in society – If people just seek to fulfil their own needs and desires without thinking about everyone else, then eventually they will all sink. Islam therefore necessitates that we think about the community and society, as well as our own selves. Under the Islamic Khilafah, the social system of Islam necessitates that the agitation of the sexual instinct is totally removed from society, so that the society and community are protected from the ravages of unrestricted promiscuity which occur as a result of unrestricted freedom. The Prophet SAW said:
‘Oh you youngsters. Whoever amongst you who can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him more to lower his gaze and guard his modesty (i.e.chastity). And whoever is not able to marry he should fast, because it will be a protection for him’ (Bukhari and Muslim).
The stability and commitment of marriage is the place for the satisfaction of this instinct, so that it is not let loose in society.
We are slaves of Allah

The idea that we are free to do whatever we want and fulfil are desires in whatever way we want, is a total fallacy. If we have no freedom over the number of times our heart beats, how many electric impulses our brain sends and how much oxygen our lungs intake, how can we possibly believe that we are free to fulfil the needs and desires of our body in other respects, as discussed above? Clearly we have been created by Allah and are being kept alive by Allah, so how can we have the audacity to believe that when it comes to the areas of our needs where we have a choice, that Allah has no room to tell us what to do?

Rather Allah SWT has clearly told us in Surah Adh-Dhuriyat,

‘I have created jinn and man for no reason but to worship me’.

This makes clear that whether it is the involuntary or ivoluntary needs and desires, everything we do must be in line with what Allah loves, and abstaining from whatever Allah hates, as our very purpose in this world, is for Him.

The Prophet SAW narrated in a hadith, ‘Any action not based upon our affair will be rejected.’

Therefore there is no room for a Muslim to feel that he has the freedom to choose however to fulfil his desires – Every single action he does must be in line with Islam. This does not mean that a Muslim must pray and fast 24 hours a day and nothing else, but it just means that in the way we have relationships with people, how we buy and sell, how we behave with our parents, where we go in our free-time, must all be in line with the deen of Allah.

This is because as Muslims we know that death is the most definite thing and that after death the Day of Judgement will inevitably come, where we must answer for every single deed that we carried out in this world. This will be the Day when, ‘he who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it And he who has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it.’ (surah Zalzalah 7-8)

Thus knowing that Allah will account us for even the smallest error we make in arrogance defying his deen, should make us people who use our minds to always think before we act. The behaviour of doing as we please, damn consequences and whether it is right or wrong, is never for the thinking, mature Muslim.

The thinking, mature Muslim has taqwa, fear and consciousness of his Creator, which ignites within him a desire to continuously remember his Lord in everything he does, so even if she wants to freemix and join in with the other girls with their flirting and college romances, her fear and love for Allah far exceeds her small and human desires. She remembers that Allah’s promise of the great reward of the Hereafter which will satisfy ones desires beyond imagination, is the best reward to wait for:
"And whoever fears Allah, and keeps his duty to Him, He will forgive his sins from him and will enlarge his reward." [TMQ At-Talaq 65:5]
Indeed, life in this society is extremely difficult to withstand for the Muslim youth, as they are constantly forced into submitting to their lowly human desires and seek their own benefit. But a Muslim knows that this is simply the path to destruction, in this life and the Hereafter and for the community around them. With the help of their Creator, therefore they are able to seek the higher ground for actions and live purely for Allah over the base desires of human beings:
‘Those who believe and constantly guard against evil, for them are glad tidings in the life of the present and in the Hereafter, no change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity.’ (Surah Yunus 63-4)

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The silent tests

Living in this dunya is testing and tempting, as Allah SWT tells us in the Qur'an. But living in the West is a whole another ballgame.

People assume that to carry the dawah for Islam in the Muslim world is the most testing thing you can do, and the most testing place you can be. Because in some parts of the Muslim world, to speak for this deen means hardship, means imprisonment and even torture - We look at our brothers and sisters undergoing this in Egypt and Uzbekistan and breathe a sigh of relief - What would I have done if that was me? A test beyond our capabilities we may even believe, in a quiet moment.

However my dear sisters, I would like those of us who look at the Muslim world and then count our blessings about our ease here, to actually stop and think. Step outside our bubble and actually think. Those of us who cover according to the Ahkam of Allah, don't have a haram mortgage, try to pray all of our salat and maybe even do the recommended fasting - Have we made it? We live by the haram and halal of this deen, because of our conviction of Islam and our acknowledgement of our creator and his Messenger SAW - But is this enough? When we look back to Aishah RA, of course she fasted, she prayed, she was a good wife, but she also held onto nothing in this dunya, except for Allah's deen. She never even allowed herself to keep any wealth - even what she needed, but she gave it away as sadaqah; she left her home and everything in it to move to Madinah purely for the sake of Islam and when Muhammad SAW her husband, offered her the comforts and ease of this world over marriage to him and continuing hardship - without a flinch she chose him and the deen. It's the question you probably know is coming, but what would we have done? Because living in the West, I truly believe that our tests are not necessarily less, they are just different. The tests which pull us away from our deen in the West, are of the more subtle and deceiving traits of Shaitan - Where tests and temptations are not even recognised as what they are.

We need to have the most modern aesthetically slick TVs, flawlessly modern newly fitted kitchens, our children dressed in a selection of the cutest of clothing armed with the most latest of toys and us ourselves clad in the latest and most hippest of clothes even our hijabs and jilbabs. Whatever the material asset, it's about the need to consume and keep up essentially with the joneses - Although our yardstick may not necessarily be the joneses, but our own pitless desire as human beings to consume wealth, fuelled by the Capitalist society we live in. As the Prophet SAW said 'The son of Adam, if he had a mountain of gold he would wish for another.'

Just distinguishing the haram and halal which we need to live by in Western society, is by no means enough for us to actually live by what we are trying to live by - Islam. Because this means that although we have understood we need to follow Allah's rules and laws, we have not actually understood why we are here in the first place. That it is not just about abiding by the rights and wrongs of Islam, but still having the same objective in life as non-Muslims - making ourselves happy. This happens when sisters cover, pray and fast etc but are always seeking ways of fulfilling the pit of personal happiness which is fuelled in the West, so they say 'being Islamic doesn't mean being boring you know!' - An innocent statement, but if meant in a particular context a dangerous statement to make. That although I abide by Allah's laws, I still need to fulfil my real purpose in life which is having fun, being happy, having a lovely Islamic house with a decent car, the nicest jilbabs and the whole range of toys available on the market for my kids. This may also mean needing to entertain ourselves by attending women's dinners, nasheed concerts etc - All in the name of happiness.

The reason why a Muslim is on this earth is:
'I have created jinn and man for no other reason but to worship me' Surah Adh-Dhuriyat
She is not here just to have fun, or just to be happy even if its all in an Islamic way. A Muslim is here live purely for Allah and his deen. The quest for personal happiness is not a quest for this dunya. It was not a quest for Aishah RA, Asma RA, Khadijah RA, Maryam AS, Asiyah RA. These great women who have surely gained Allah's pleasure did not gain it by holding onto the thread of do's and don'ts of Allah's message - They have gained Allah's pleasure because of the fact that the deen was the centrepoint of their lives, for which they were willing to, and did(!!) sacrifice everything putting Allah's pleasure constantly above their own. Allah SWT says:
'Surely my Prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, Lord of the Worlds.' (Al-An`am 6: 162)

My dear sisters, the hardest test is the fact that falling into the ditch of Capitalist consumerism, materialism and the quest for personal happiness is almost unnoticable. It's so easy to concern yourself with buying the latest high street trend, the most nicest of new furniture for the home and before you know it we too have been sucked into this bottomless pit.

But the Muslim is the thinker. I am not saying that having material things are themselves the shaitan, but it is the concepts that come behind them for us. We must ensure that it is only the material things, not the concepts which we take from this Western society. As the concepts are in aversion to Islam and will steer us away from living for this deen, and living for this dawah.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Al Qamar

I heard you wake when we all sleep
When you change your face for the day to come
Your man-boots, your struggle,
Your journey to keep going.
Oh my sister, my sweet sister, I love you.

It's a male affair
But you've swallowed the pain
And glide through with dignity,
Making the floors that you sweep
Pages of your deeds
Oh my sister, my sweet sister, I love you.

Five innocent hearts await
The echoes of your steps
You hide the bruised knees
From their glances
They know not but I do and of course
Does the Almighty above
Oh my sister, my sweet sister, I love you.

The scent of your perfume
And the tenderness of your hands
return to fill the air
in a house of islam
Oh my sister, my sweet sister, I love you.

But your heart doesn't stop
Your mind doesn't rest
The promise of Allah holds it's unrelenting thread
you give everything, every breath left in that day
To scatter forth the word of Allah
And the hope of the Amir who we know, inshaAllah
is to come
My sister, my sweet sister, I love you.

Winds, seas and miles of land
Hurdle between my smile and yours
But I pray that my Creator
In all of his mercy
One day unlocks me to you
Till then, my sister
Stay strong
Because I pray to Allah
Oh Allah
That blessed Jannah yearns for you

Friday, 6 March 2009

'Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah' Al-Ahzab, 33: 23

We are chasing many things in life. Having the perfect home, perfect family, perfect career. Perfection is a standard which is the requisite which must be met and life's goals become geared into doggedly achieving it, in all spheres. However trying to achieve perfection in the deen is deemed more often than not, as either extreme or escaping life's responsibilities.

To people - You become an extremist when you start bringing Islam into places and things where Islam didn't even seem to fit before, and you start escaping life's responsibilities when you take the brave step of maybe prioritising your deen over acquiring wealth, status, letters after your name or your social life even perhaps. The deen of course is not about abandoning life in this dunya. Rather it is living the dunya with the constant thought of the Akhirah. The point however is, when people decide to make certain sacrifices or choices towards Allah's deen the labels are all too quick to be slapped on.

But striving to achieve the best in our deen is the one worry, which I worry so often, do I worry enough about? How do I know if I have, when it comes down to it, given and sacrificed enough to make my entry into Jannah real?And of course I don't, and I never will, but there are events in people's lives which test them to the core, giving them it feels the echoes of the awaiting news of Jannah.

A friend of mine, is in a state of worry, wondering about the state of her brother who due to speaking out about corruption of a Muslim Government, now has to be in a state of hiding. He did it for Allah's sake, seeking only his reward.
'Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah'
Of all things in life, may Allah make us strong enough, and worthy enough to be amongst the group of believers who have been true to our covenant with Him. And make the strong who speak the Haqq, number many in this Ummah.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Jungle rules

Please read the comments attached to this post at the end, for a clearer political understanding of these events.

The recent massacre in Bangladesh has been heartbreaking. To yet again see faces in anguish, families in peril and most of all bodies after bodies, of people dead puts a rock in your stomach and sinking feeling in your heart. What on earth happened?

As the news goes, a lash out over pay and conditions. An arm of the paramilitary of Bangladesh exasperated with bad pay and conditions and unfulfilled promises, decided to take their future into their own hands and animalistically lashed out, slashing anything that breathed. Clearly not seeking the further support of the state for their requests, but showing people maybe who was boss and that evidently, they had had enough.

The class system in Bangladesh is nothing that even raises an eyebrow. We're all used to it. Even if you do not live in Bangladesh, beckoning your house maid and throwing a couple of taka at your fatigued rickshaw driver - if it hasn't become second nature - swiftly does after a stay in Bangladesh. As that is the way the world works, the poor need to survive, the needy need to earn their bread, so we are all doing them a favour by providing them with these jobs in the first place. And on top of that now, as I have recently heard, the working class have their own store of individualism now and as i was told, if you are too generous too them then they will just abuse you. So it is accepted behaviour to be cruel to the beggar that comes to your door, or grunt at the housemaid rather than talk. And its a believable story in a place like Bangladesh, where surviving is the name of the game, no matter who or what is in your way.

The horrific ordeal that Bangladeshis encountered a couple of days ago, where people where burnt alive and brutally killed no matter who they were or what part they played, I believe was the most painful example of surviving. An arm of the paramilitary in Bangladesh who were seeking better pay for the work they did, and wanted an end to the elitism the main army held, reacted in way where they were sure their voice got heard, being bottom of a heavy heap of hierarchy and class.

They had had enough of trying to achieve change and equal treatment to their army counterparts, through the channels provided. But it became clear that as always, elitism and the class system is paramount. If you mean something in Bangladesh you'll get things, but if you are from the meagre and lowly, then it's a waiting game, or more truthfully - a dead end. In a place like Bangladesh where the poor and working class are routinely exploited and have no proper avenue through which to channel their complaints and grievances, it was only time which was to stand in the way of some sort of crazy mental event such as this, as a reaction to finding their 'dead end'. If you are standing in a room of people and you need them to know something, there is a limit to how much screaming you can do. After a while if they are still ignoring you, your anger and frustration will get the better of you and cause you to react in a way which i'm sure you will regret. Instincts and needs can be dangerous if left to depravation - in both humans and animals. What these men did was animalistic brutality. But we have to be honest, in a jungle nothing else rules but jungle rules.

It is clear that beautifully orchestrated just and fair elections had no real effect on the actual politics and change in Bangladesh, as the problems which existed in Bangladesh (which we are so used to, that they don't even seem problems anymore - poverty, corruption) still exist now that the present government is in place. Whether the recent BDR mutiny was callously planned or not, there is a real question which we all need to ask ourselves, and that is do we want the people of Bangladesh to continue to live in this jungle? Because should it not be, that the job and purpose of any Government, is to take care of the needs of their people and secure these needs?Rather than the PM telling these folk committing the atrocious acts that they were testing her patience beyond tolerance, maybe she should actually review what her tolerance levels have been. To tolerate millions of people living in squalor, subjected to crime, unfair treatment, poor pay, bribery and corruption on a routine basis, I view, as a very generous tolerance level.

Clearly Bangladesh, like many other Muslim governments, has paid lipservice to the real needs of the people they rule over, whilst in reality concerning themselves with pocketing foreign aid, creating ties with foreign nations and embedding 'signs' of progress in the nation, as labelled largely by the West (women working and achieving equality became more of a concern to deal with than actually getting provisions on the tables of the families throughout Bangladesh). Without the resources and concern being utilised to actually really raise the standard of living for the entire population of the country, and not just the rich, the common folk have just been left to fend for themselves. And with no proper rules or avenues of hope it is wholly natural the people have become exasperated.

Gradual, minimal and what we call realistic change will mean nothing if we want to deal with the mammoth problems which face this nation. Rather the vision needs to be drawn massively out, if these are our concerns. For mammoth problems, we need mammoth radical change. A change in politics where the sole concern of the government and the system which it implements is accountability to the Creator of all mankind - of both rich and poor - so that the concerns, rules and laws then are all centred around actually putting the needs of people and justice before anything else. The system of Allah SWT is the only system, which does not put any human being, any group of people before any others. Rather all are rightful citizens and have rightful access to food clothing and shelter, whoever they are whatever background they come from. It is no wonder that in the history of the Islamic State, it is documented that many non-muslims happily lived within the State with all their needs met in plenty, even if they did not believe in a single aspect of Allah's deen. I mean, they were being fed, watered and protected to utter contentment, why would they even care what the Government that looked after them believed in?

The massacre by the BDR has been a unruly and cruel experience of jungle rules. Where in effect there are no rules, or laws, and people have been left to make up their own to try to fend their own flock. May Allah SWT bring soon his rahma and his Ahkam upon us, so that the jungle and lawlessness of human desires are eradicated forever.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Ugliness of democracy

Democracies are rated as the supreme system for our world today. The supreme system which no other can match or surpass. It's the buzzword if any Muslim uses in their speech or written word, you become an accepted member of society. It's the system which if we do not aspire to live under, we are viewed as extremists, as leaked to the Guardian.

Today's return of Binyam Mohammad to the UK, has uncovered an ugly truth for one of the foremost democracies of the world - That democracy actually doesn't unconditionally secure our justice, or even human rights - Just because you live in a democracy, does not in any way mean supremacy in values.

Democracies cover up the ugliness of human greed. Of people who rule by what they believe to be the best for their government, their ruling elite, and it seems, maybe their people. This means that legislation and decisions are subject to several human minds and largely their whims, who have the wealth and power to sit around the table. The evidence over time has only shown that governments will sacrifice any value which stands in their way to fulfil national interests, whether this is the killing of the innocent in Iraq for oil or the innocent victims of the war on terror in which sustains the fear of terrorism.

It is therefore time the world really does open up the debate, without brashly silencing those who have begun to question the untouchable notion of democracy. No democratic government, if it really believes in its own values, should fear the criticism of its system. If their supremacy really stands, criticism and debate can only be healthy in strengthening the conviction in it. Silencing of such criticism can only be rooted in a fear of the actual legitimacy of ones supremacy.