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Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Far Can You See? Just the Cultural Practices, or the Real Islam? Part 1

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I can understand the prejudices towards Muslims from non-Muslims. I can understand the fear people feel when they find out a woman from a country like the USA or Canada etc... is going to move to the Middle East to live in, and to marry a Muslim from there. I can understand that people *think* it is Islam that oppresses women. I can understand all of this because I once felt the same way.

I studied Islam for over four and a half years and the last hurdle to becoming a Muslim was the behavior and words towards/about women from Middle Eastern Muslim guys studying in Denver that I knew from school or work. I often heard them saying negative things about women even if they did the same things the women they talked about did. When I would try to tell them they are just as bad if they do the same things they think is bad for a woman to do... but it was always shrugged off and said its ok because they are men.

It really is too bad there are guys like these spreading the stereotype around that this type of thinking is condoned in Islam. I am sure these attitudes have turned plenty of people away from even wanting to study Islam...

After some would find out how long I had been studying Islam they would encourage me to hurry up and become a Muslim. But I just couldn't because of what I saw and heard from these guys at school. I would never follow a religion that would oppress me.

I finally decided to really read the Qur'an more thoroughly because I knew that if Allah was really God, then there wouldn't be these double standards.

The result? Well, just as I thought, the Qur'an sets the same standards of behavior for both men and women.

Qur'an 33:35
For Muslim men and women― for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves) for men and women who guard their chastity and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise― for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.

followed by:

Qur'an 33:36
It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.

So right there in clear language is the command that guarding the chastity is commanded upon both men and women. And any man and woman going against the commands are on the wrong path.

Then I also had to learn more about what rights Islam gives to women. I was given advice to search online for Muslim women on Islamic forums because they could most help me with my concerns about Muslim women. I was argumentative with them at the beginning...always having to put in my views of what I knew of Muslim guys that I encountered and their attitudes toward women. Mashallah for their patience in sticking it through with me and educating me about how women are given so many rights in Islam. For an excellent post about this, please read this excellent post from my dear best friend:

Texan in UAE- Its a MAN'S world.... or is it?

Mashallah through one of the forums, we formed one Qur'an study group and during the time we had the group, they explained so much for me and helped me in understanding some of the more difficult verses.

And finally on August 30, 2002, I said the Shahada, which is the Muslim profession of faith:

أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله

Transliteration: La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasool Allah

Translation: "I bear witness there is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God"

Alhamdulillah Allah has guided me to Islam!

And so came the beginning of my understanding that cultural attitudes and practices are not always Islamic.

Part 2 will be discussing more about some how some cultural practices have given fuel to non-Muslims to paint Islam in a bad light. It might take a few days but we will see inshallah.


  1. Awwww mashAllah I really enjoyed reading this post!
    It is sad that many Muslim people hold on to their culture and tradition more strongly than they would hold on to Allah's guidance. It really infuriates me when people begin to mix their culture to Islam, when the two are clearly not mixable. But Quran also warns us of the people who will do things that their fathers and forefathers did rather than abandoning those practices because those are against Allah's will.

    Can't wait for part 2!

  2. Aww, ma'shs'allah, Shukr'Allah that He Guided you. I wouldn't have had such a terrific and cool Sis otherwise! *heart*

    It is so terrible what men like you describe do and say. I hate this double standard that exists in so many places and how culture is overshadowing the true Islam, which makes our Faith look unflattering (which it isn't) to outsiders. Indeed, study Islam and not the Muslims!

  3. awwww brother MuslimFirst,

    "I wouldn't have had such a terrific and cool Sis otherwise! *heart*"

    how sweet MashaAllah :)

    its just that in so many Muslim cultures, men aren't brought up with the fear of the punishment of sex before marriage-- all of the fear of it falls on women all too many times.

    yes, people need to study Islam, and not Muslims... for Islam is perfect, not Muslims.