The Importance of the Mother in Islam

Yesterday, many parts of the world celebrated Mother’s Day, focusing on mothers and their contributions to their families. Since there is a negative stereotype of how Islam views women, many people may not know that mothers specifically and parents in general are held in very high esteem in the faith. There are verses in the Qur’an and hadith that emphasize the burdens that a mother carries and the respect that should be accorded to her. In this post, I will focus on the importance of mothers in Islam. Continue reading

Patience and Perseverance

Patience in Arabic

One of the central concepts in Islam is that this life is a test. This means that human beings should expect to face trials and tribulations, and that they should endure them with patience and perseverance. This point is repeated throughout the Qur’an and the hadith. In fact, patience and perseverance in the face of difficulty are traits that believers strive to embody. Continue reading

The Best in Character

Crystals in Arabic (Source: www.qawareer.com)

One of the most persistent stereotypes about Islam is that it is oppressive towards women. While it is true that there are many instances of abuse and oppression of Muslim women and problematic interpretations of religious texts, there is no justification for that behavior in the faith. In fact, it is clear from the Qur’an and the hadith that the relationship between men and women should be based on respect, kindness, and love. In this post, I would like to focus on a few examples of hadith that underscore these core values and illustrate that the Prophet Muhammad himself displayed these characteristics in his interactions with the women in his life. Continue reading

The Farewell Sermon

Mount Arafat

As I have written in previous posts, the Prophet Muhammad is a central figure for Muslims. Not only is he considered to be the final prophet of a long line of prophets sent to humanity, but he is considered to be the role model that Muslims should emulate. It is for this reason that there is a great deal of emphasis placed on the hadith and the sira, the biography of the Prophet Muhammad. There are many aspects and events in his life that exemplify his character, but one in particular highlights his nature and the way he envisioned Islam. Before his death in 632 C.E., during the final hajj, the Prophet gave what has been called “The Farewell Sermon” or khutbat al-wadaa` in Arabic. In this sermon, he reminded his followers that were with him and also those in the future of the core principles of the faith. Continue reading

Helping Others: A Core Principle of Islam

One of the central principles of Islam is helping others. While some perceive Islam as a faith that encourages violence rather than positive contributions to society, the Qur’an and especially the hadith highlight how helping another human being is a fundamental aspect of Islam. Muslims’ primary goal is to worship God, but this is done not only through rituals like prayer and fasting but also through treatment of other people. Continue reading

The Importance of Accountability

Faith in Arabic

One of the most important aspects of Islam is the belief in a Day of Judgment. It is one of the six articles of faith and is central to the Islamic concept of accountability. For Muslims, the present life is not the goal; rather, it is the life after death that is the focus. This does not mean that Muslims should not enjoy their lives, but it does mean that they have to be conscious of God in all aspects of their life knowing that they will be asked about their decisions. Continue reading

Knowing the Divine: The Names of God

99 Names of God

Allah is often (mis)understood as the Muslim God. However, “allah” is simply the Arabic word for “god”; thus, Arabic speakers from other faith traditions will also use that word. In Islam, Allah is not only known by this name, but is also known by attributes that are found in the Qur’an and the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. Commonly, Muslims say there are 99 terms that are considered to be both names as they refer to God and attributes because they describe different aspects of God. These attributes all refer to the singular being of God, but are representative of various traits. A metaphor for these attributes given by Hamza Yusuf, a well-known scholar, is the numerous colors that appear when light is refracted. Continue reading

Differences of Opinion

Image: Stuart Miles

Hussam Sehwail is a Palestinian-American Muslim and graduate student of electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We often find Muslims arguing with each other about differences between their actions: “Why do you pray with your hands like that?”, “You’re washing yourself the wrong way,” and other similar statements frequently heard in mosques. This is especially true in multicultural Muslim communities common in Western countries. Although many grow up with whatever customs their parents follow, they may fail to realize that other Muslims might act differently than they do. Hence, it would be of benefit to understand why Muslims may have some differences with regards to religious practices.

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Islam does not support “honor” crimes

The Shafia daughters and their stepmothers from CBC News

On January 30th, Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya, and their son Hamed were convicted of first degree murder in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. In June 2009, they planned and carried out the murders of Zainab Shafia, Sahar Shafia, and Geeti Shafia, as well as Rona Amir Mohammed. Zainab, Sahar, and Geeti were Mohammad and Tooba’s daughters and Hamad’s sisters. Rona was Mohammad’s first wife. The three daughters were considered by their parents to be “shameful” because they had boyfriends and did not dress the way their parents wanted. Rona, a victim of domestic abuse, was killed because she supported the daughters’ behavior. Their crime, which is being called an honor killing, has no support within Islam. Continue reading

On Apostasy

Among the negative images of Islam is that apostasy is believed to be punishable by execution. The most recent example of this is in Iran where a pastor was convicted of apostasy and faces execution by hanging. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was born to Muslim parents but did not practice Islam. He converted to Christianity when he was 19 and is now a pastor in the Protestant Evangelical Church of Iran. Nadrakhani was arrested in October 2009 when he protested that his son was forced to read from the Qur’an. Iranian state media, however, later reported that the real charges were rape, extortion, and security-related crimes. His case has received international attention and pressure has been put on the Iranian government to release him. Continue reading