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Women Leading The Prayer

written by Theresa Corbin

The topic I want to tackle today is about women leading the Islamic prayer. The title gave it away, didn’t it? This topic, as all things confusing and provocative, is brought to us by the letter “F” and Facebook.

My talented and super busy social media manager shared a post on islamwich’s fb page about a woman leading the prayer at a masjid (mosque) in Copenhagen. The title was “The Future of Islam is Women”. Perhaps it is.

And as you can imagine, there were many who decided that they have the authority to declare who is going to hell. So much fun! Now my social media manager is experiencing a downward spiral in her faith and needs counseling because of all the harshness that was spewed over this post. 

Should women run masajid (mosques)?

My thinking on this “scandle” is that yes, women must be running masajid. There must be at least one woman on every masjid board. Period. Why? Because this is the example of the Prophet (PBUH). Prophet Muhammad sought advice from women often. Women in his community had a voice, a vote.

Women must be on every board of every masjid and hold offices higher than that because we are half of the community. We are more than half of society. We are moral agents just like men. And if we want our community and society to function properly, women must be included. We must sit at the table.

Should women lead prayer?

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The “Islamification” of the West — by Way of Islamophobia

Written by Theresa Corbin for Al Jumuah Magazine

Islamification (a verbal noun) is a word made up by the far-right conspiracy theorists and Islamic vilification factory which means that Islam—not actual Islam, but the myth invented by Islamophobes themselves—is taking over a region.

Islamophobia

It happened when self-proclaimed terrorism expert, Steve Emerson, falsely claimed on Fox News that “a number of Muslim no-go zones existed in areas of the U.S., England, France, and other western countries. […] ‘Sharia law’ essentially overrode the laws of the countries in which said zones were located, and local police avoided interceding in the affected areas.” The term “Islamification” took off.

But is there any truth behind the claim? Absolutely. Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent for The Telegraph writes, “Islam is the only religion growing faster than the world’s population.” A major area of growth: The West.

But this growth, this “Islamification,” has looked so little like the Fox “News” fever dream that it tries to sell to the American public. The spread of Islam has not come with tribunals or the oppression of women or the abuse of other faiths. It has come instead with education, modesty, finance, and -not surprisingly- big appetites.

Continue reading at Al Jumuah. 

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The Many Shades of Modesty

Written by Gracie Lawrence

I see you’re wearing pants today. Good for you. I chose to jazz things up with a shirt and a headscarf to boot. Too much you say?

Modesty means many things

Let’s be honest here, a whopping majority of us (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, or otherwise) do believe in some form of modesty–of course there are those outliers who believe in nothing at all–but I think most of us would agree that those conditions are not always very sanitary.

You don't quilt in the nude? YOU'RE THE PRUDE!
You don’t quilt in the nude?
YOU’RE THE PRUDE!

We women are especially notorious for scrutinizing one another and making harsh judgments, while men generally get a pass from our scrutiny.

Is that dress too low cut for her age? Does she have the body to pull off that outfit?  How can she wear that at a funeral/wedding? … 

Usually, to men, the more naked a woman-the better. Few from this gender do protest from seeing too much. And to those that are on the opposite side of the isle exclaiming that our covering isn’t enough–it isn’t like you will ever stop looking at us regardless of what we wear–lower your gaze, brother. There is no need to call the Haram Police.

While the judgments made between women can be harsh, it is in these critical comments where we decide where we want to draw our own personal modesty line–which helps us decide what amount of coverage makes us feel comfortable ourselves and in the company we keep.

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Have I Become a Cultural Muslim?

written by Kaighla Um Dayo

have-i-become-a

When I converted to Islam nearly 8 years ago, I had no idea there were literally millions of Muslims in the world who are Muslim only in name.

Some one who calls themselves Muslim, but has no connection to their creator can be called a “Cultural Muslim”. Cultural Muslims wear hijab, for example, only because it’s a cultural demand in their family/society; they only pray at Eid prayers and only because it’s a family/cultural obligation. They fast one day of Ramadan to feel like they are part of the festivities, but otherwise have no connection with God on a deeper level.

The cultural Muslim is not unlike the “Christian” who my former pastor lovingly called part of the “CEM crowd”, or those who only attend church only on Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day.

Turns out, there are millions of Muslims who are only called such because their parents’ parents’ parents were practicing. “Muslim” has become synonymous with “good, kind person of Arab/Indian/Pakistani/Indo/Malay origin” in much the same way as “Christian” has become synonymous with “good, kind person who is American”.

New Muslims cannot imagine that a day will come that they themselves could become a Cultural Muslim. And yet, I am here to say: it can happen to anyone.

I realized I had become a Cultural Muslim when the day came that I had more fear and trepidation at the idea of removing my hijab than I did about skipping prayers.

The idea of removing my outer religious identity was more crippling than the idea of actually not being Muslim anymore. If faced with the choice to maintain my hijab but neglect my prayers, or remove my hijab for safety reasons in America (Trump), but maintain my prayers, I searched my heart and realized that I preferred the first option.

This, my friends, is a severe disease of the heart.

But why do I openly admit this to you, dear reader? Because too many converts come into Islam—and too many heritage Muslims start practicing Islam—with such zeal and fervor that they do not adequately prepare themselves for the day when the fervor flares out. I know because it happened to me. 

It’s kind of like being in a formerly passionate marriage: when that passion has fizzled out, there must be something under the passion to keep the marriage alive and healthy, something deeper and more reliable than passion, lust, and infatuation.

Likewise, the day will come for all those who feel the zeal when, because of this reason or that reason, they will burn out and begin to question if they are still on the right path, and they will need to have something deeper than zeal to keep them going. 

When this realization hit me like a ton of bricks, I took some time and really investigated the deeper issues inside. Ultimately, I came to understand these things, and maybe they will help you, too:

  • People cannot save me when I face Allah. My dearest friends and spouse and children and parents will not even think of me on that day. “Allah will talk to everyone directly, without a translator. The person will look to his right, and will not see anything but his deeds. Then the person, will look in front of himself and will see nothing but the hellfire facing him. So protect yourself from Hellfire even by giving a charity of half a date.” (Reported by Imam Bukhari)
  • On that day, {their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions.} (Surat An-Nur, verse 24). {And they will say to their skin: ‘Why did you bear witness against us?’ They will say: ‘Allah has caused us to speak, as He cause all things to speak.’} (Surat Al-Fussillat, verse 21) I can just imagine my hijab, for example, speaking against me, saying “She wore me because it pleased her friends.” “She wore me because it pleased her husband.” “She wore me because it made her seem more pious.”
  • The first thing Allah will ask me is about my prayer. Not my hijab. Not my education. Not my loyalty to my country or friends or family or tribe. First, my prayer“The first thing the people will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment is prayer, Allah will say to His angels (even though he already knows) : “Look at my servants prayers. Were they complete or not?” […]” -Prophet Muhammad (Reported by Imams Ahmad, Abu Dawood, An-Nisa’i, and Al-Hakim)
  • God will only accept my good deeds if I have a pure heart: {And disgrace me not on the Day when (all the creatures) will be resurrected; The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean heart [clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)].} (Surah ash-Shu’ara, verses 87-89)

At the end of all things, it will only be my heart that saves me (or not), and what good will my struggling because of hijab or striving for my religion be if I did it to seem pious, or to please my family, or because I had finally found an identity to cling to and didn’t want to give it up?

I cannot willingly give up my soul while clinging tightly to my hijab and other outward shows of Islam. I cannot willingly toss aside all the work I have done on my heart by working to impress people around me rather than working to please Allah. 

Follow us (upper right of the page). Email us (islamwich@yahoo.com). Like our face with your face on Facebook (facebook.com/islamwich). Tumble with us on Tumblr (islamwich.tumblr.com). Pin with us (pinterest.com/islamwich). Follow us on twitter (@islamwich).

Like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.

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How to Build a Successful Intercultural Marriage

Written by Stephanie Siam

wedding-silhouetteMarriage is a commitment that requires unending devotion, conscientious effort, and a lot of patient practice. Selecting a suitable husband is quite possibly the most important decision a woman will make. So much rests on who she chooses to be her life partner:

  • Will he be kind and patient?
  • Will he support me through good times and bad?
  • Will he be responsible and mature when necessary?
  • Will he be a good parent?

Factor in religion, culture, and nationality, and a woman can just about go insane trying to satisfy her need to fulfill what many consider to be an obligatory rite of passage in Islam.

It’s no secret that many Western, female converts look eastward when searching for a husband. Perhaps their attraction to the dark, brooding males of the Orient is what initially drew them towards the study wedding-hennaof Islam to begin with – no, I’m not saying women convert to Islam for their men, reread the sentence.

While there are plenty of Western, female converts who find successful marriages with Western male converts (see: Corbin, islamwichs founder and person extraordinaire), an overwhelming number of women ultimately marry men from the Levant (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine), Arabian Gulf Peninsula (UAE, Saudi, Kuwait), India, or Pakistan.

However, no matter where these men come from initially, almost all of them share similar traits as Husbands to Western Convert Wives. And these traits can sometimes – read: always be challenging negotiations when trying to merge two cultures into one marriage.

I mean, marriage is hard enough as it is.

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The A-Pork-Alypse!?

The A-Pork-Alypse!?

Written by Theresa Corbin

Pork! Bacon! Ham! Ribs! Pickled Pigs Feet! Oh, the promiscuity of pork! It will be anything you want it to be for a price.

I wrote about the pork topic when I posted my Candy Conundrum and the delicious solution (halal peeps recipe for the peep-o-phile). But now I feel as if it is time to talk turkey. Not really. If you will allow me, I would like to explore the position pork plays in the psyche of the Muslim.

On the one hand pork is nasty:pork

1. Allah tells us not to eat the meat of swine in the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran. It is unclean. Do you think a rule like this was just a suggestion? Or maybe there is a reason behind it …

2. An animal’s flesh is a composite of what it eats. Pigs eat their own feces, as well as the dead carcasses of sick animals, including their own young.

3. The Center for Disease Control states that more than 100 viruses come to the United States each year from China through pigs.

4. Many of these toxins that other animals expel through urine remain in the pigs’ system to be stored in their tissue i.e. Urine in the meat that you eat.

5. Trichinellosis or trichinosis: an infection that humans get from eating under cooked or uncooked pork that contains the larvae of the trichinella worm. This worm has been known to hatch in the brain of the consumer i.e. worms in your brain!

6. Pigs are also primary carriers of:

  • Taenia solium tapeworm
  • Hepatitis E virus (HEV)
  • PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome)
  • Nipah virus
  • Menangle virus

7. Eating pork can lead to gallstones, hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol

8. Pigs are biologically similar to humans, and their meat is said to taste similar to human flesh. (Who is tasting human flesh to know this IDK, but am worried!)

On the other hand, I think people are way too focused on pork.


piglet

1. Avoidance of pork is not a prerequisite of faith.

 

Does eating pork negate your Islam? Does it make you not a Muslim? No.

Did Allah say to believe in His oneness, the Day of Resurrection, His Prophets, the angels, and that eating pork is nasty? Then did Allah say to establish the prayer and don’t forget to not eat pork? No & No. No y No. Non et Non. La wa La.

2. Pork free is not dawah (invitation to Islam)

Many times I have overheard someone answering questions about what Islam is by saying that Muslims don’t eat pork. Well … we are also not supposed to eat cats or cockroaches, but I don’t think it is an appropriate topic for an introduction to what Islam is.

3. Pork prohibition does not a Muslim make.

This is kind of like the inverse operation of number one above … maybe, if I knew what an inverse operation is (j/j i do).

Pork free is not a part of belief, nor is it the only directive in Islam. Why are we so hyper focused on such a small detail? While many Muslims will go around drinking and hooking up, they still revile the idea that somewhere … out there … a pig exists!

Sure your belief is what makes you Muslim, and action are also important. But following the no pork edict is not the only action that makes you a Muslim. If you aren’t eating pork and also not praying I have a sneaking suspicion that the later action negates the former.

If your entire religious identity revolves around the avoidance of one type of meat, I recommend therapy. And can I also recommend a rigorous reading routine that includes more that the regular no pork propaganda?

4. The pigs mere existence is not haram. 

Shocking! Scandalous! And he is naked like that infernal sponge named Bob!

People are so ridiculous about the avoidance of pork that they act like even the existence of a pig is haram (unlawful). While I was teaching a second grade class at an Islamic school, I hung up a poster that trailed around the room.

The poster was the typical a-z learning tool that included examples of what things start with each letter. It just so happened that the poster I purchased for the classroom portrayed a pig as something that starts with the letter “p”. Which is true and can be useful in learning that “P” sounds like “pah” in “pig”.

The kids and some of the parents flipped out. Pigs are haram!!!!, they proclaimed as if I were unaware.

In no way was I advocating that they should eat the pig in the poster. He didn’t even look that appetizing, but still there was much ado about nothing. I didn’t take the P for Pig down and we stared at his forbidden flesh all year. (The kids also threw a fit about my left-handedness. Such is the heavy handed way of those who know little but have great zeal.)

What do you think?

Is there some kind of conspiracy theory that pigs and their meat will cause some cataclysmic event? Did I miss that on Fox news? It is possible considering all the diseases that pigs carry and spread to us. But is it necessary to act this way when all your kid wants is a piglet stuffed animal from the Winnie the Pooh franchise? 

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Halal Jambalaya

Most recipes from my home land of New Orleans include pork (or alcohol). It is a sad reality that I have to face everyday. I thought about organizing a marathon to raise awareness of this travesty, but no one I know wants to run or even walk.

Alas, I have dried my tears and become a creative cook because I refuse to let a little pork get in the way of destroying the traditional dishes of my people.

One of my favorite home town dishes is jambalaya (JUM-bah-LIE-yah). It is a twist on Spanish paella with French and Caribbean spices.

halal jambalaya

Test kitchen-ed and written by Theresa Corbin

In jambalaya, andouille (ANN-do-ee) sausage usually features in the recipe. And if not that spicy, pork sausage, then some other form of ham is mixed in. But it shouldn’t be a big surprise to know that you can just leave the pork products out and !viola! you have a halal jambalaya recipe.

It really is that easy. And you really don’t miss it. You can add any other kind of meat that you want. I added chicken, but shrimp, crab, beef sausage, or all of the above, work just as well.

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