Are you following Shaytan?

September 6, 2008

“Whoever doesn’t have a sheikh, the Shaytan is his sheikh….” 

It’s an interesting little saying.  It has been thrown out to those who do not have a scholar/sheikh from whom they get all their knowledge about what is right and wrong in islam.  It seems to be used in an effort to get people to shut their brains off and find someone to follow, and quick! 

There’s just one teeny little problem with it.  Following this logic, we would have to conclude that the Prophet, prior to receiving revelation, was following shaytan.  All the people who came to islam by reading the Qur’an and its (people’s best attempts at) translations? Following shaytan.  If they die two months after their shahada, without finding a sheikh? Well, they were following Shaytan all that time, right?  And we know what happens to people who do that.

Even if you want to find a scholar sheikh to follow, how do you choose someone to follow?  What force is operating in your life while you are making your decision?  If this saying is true, then you guessed it:  the one who has led you to your guide is none other than the Shaytan.

Doesn’t seem right to me.

Oh, the Irony!

February 7, 2008

I love being muslim.

I made a thorough, independent (not pressured by family/friends) study of islam before I decided that yes, this is the path I wanted to follow.  I am also rather conservative in my interpretation and practice.  I have zero desire to don a short skirt (even after dropping the pregnancy pounds), enjoy a cocktail with dinner or flirt.

Knowing that to be the case, you might think I’d like to live in a country such as Saudi Arabia.

You’d be wrong.

PM’s latest post http://peacefulmuslimah.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/are-women-really-liberated-by-the-way-we-implement-islam/ provides a huge reason why. Pick up the paper anywhere and any day and you will  read stories about the terrible treatment of women in almost every society on earth. I personally feel most invested in our Muslim societies (especially Qatar) and the US, because those are both very pertinent in my life. I confess to holding Muslim societies to a higher degree of expectation because after all, we are Muslims and we say we are guided on the right path. But how come that “right” path turns out to be so “wrong” so much of the time?

She continues by posting some of the latest foolishness as reported in the Gulf Times.

I know many sisters who have made the move from the U.S. to KSA and other muslim countries.  As far as I can tell they are mostly happy and I am happy for them.  But it is not for me. 

Check Your Brain at the Door

November 20, 2007

z_4762_brainsjar.jpg

Allah gave me a brain.

I’m inclined to think that he meant me to use it.

Yet I hear of those muslims who are basically telling other muslims  not to think.  I remember a discussion in which I said a particular  hadith did not make sense to me  in light of the Qur’an’s views on the same subject.  The response was basically “Astaghfirullah!  Now we are all scholars and are qualified to make pronouncements on the validity of hadith”.

No, I am not a scholar.  I am, however, a muslim with healthy brain function.  As my husband says, the Qur’an is full of exhortations and encouragements to “consider this” and “ponder that.”  But after you become muslim many people expect you to pick a scholar or group of scholars, shut your brain off and take everything they say as divine truth.

Not happening over here (insha’allah), sorry.

This is my life and my afterlife we are talking about here, and I’m the one responsible for it.  If you want to come at me and tell me I have to do X, Y, and Z, then bring your proof from the Qur’an and Sunnah.  And if I think that the Sunnah is contradicting the Qur’an on a particular issue, you ought to be able to explain clearly why I am mistaken.  If you can’t, don’t be surprised when I don’t defer to your position.  And if you think you have and I don’t agree, you are just going to have to live with that.

I have heard some crazy stuff attributed to scholars, and I can only hope that someone was mistranslating or making those things up because they defy logic, and in some cases seem to directly contradict the Sunnah.  To take those things at face value, to believe them at all would require you to either 1) not be very bright or 2) have your brain in a jar somewhere.

In any case, I’ll be keeping mine inside my cranium, thank you.