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Beware of Making Eid Boring, by Ustadh Salman Younas

Eid is just around the corner and Ustadh Salman Younas has an important message for everyone, especially for those with children: Eid is not meant to be boring and dull.

Eid is meant to be a celebration. It is a perfect opportunity for us to show our children how our religion balances between worship and leisurely entertainment. We begin our day with charity, prayer, and supplication and continue it with food, family, and fun.
Historically, Eid was celebrated on a grand scale in the Islamic world. During the Abbasid period, the viziers and military soldiers would march in procession wearing their best clothing accompanied by torchbearers. Mosques, palaces, and even boats on the dock would be decorated and illuminated with lights. Tables would be set out for people to indulge in a variety of foods and sweets. People would sing, exchange gifts, visit family, and have an enjoyable time. In some periods, there would be firework displays as well and a number of other entertaining activities.

If you want to be a bore on Eid, then don’t be surprised when your children grow up with zero excitement and love for this prophetic tradition. As the scholar Abu’l Abbas al-Azafi (d. 633/1266) stated, “festivals are an occasion of delight, joys, permissible play, and licit amusement.” But he also noticed that many Muslim children during his time actually grew up as admirers and enthusiasts of Christian holidays/festivals because they were frankly more memorable and fun for them. Sound familiar? Yup, and this is not someone from the 21st century or the 20th century speaking, but a religious scholar from the 13th century.
If you make Eid memorable for your children by partaking in things that elicit happiness and jubilation, it will become endearing to them. So, don’t just pray the Eid prayer while your family sleeps at home and then go off to work. Don’t have your children spend Eid alone. Don’t just hand your children 20 dollars as “Eidi” and be done with it. Take a day or two off and make it something that they enjoy, remember, and can’t wait to experience again.
P.S. for those wondering, al-Azafi did try to “lecture” and “explain” to those children who adored Christian festivals that they had their own festivals. Did it work? Nope. Why? Because it is the actual experience that counts.

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The Dangers of Judging People Based on Their Status Updates, by Ustadh Salman Younas

Do you find yourself painting a mental picture of someone based on their social media profile? Ustadh Salman Younas has valuable advice on how to keep a good opinion, especially if you disagree with them.

 

My personal rule is not to formulate judgments about people based purely on online interaction/information. This applies especially to those who I do not see eye-to-eye with on particular issues. There are exceptions to this rule but my personal experience demonstrates that perceptions formulated based on web-interactions are often highly deceptive and skewed. I’ll mention two examples here:

A Learned Scholar With Impeccable Character

My first experience was with Shaykh Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Ninowy: Prior to meeting him, I would read and hear a lot of things concerning him and his views. His connection to X group of scholars, his views on such and such theological matter, or this and that prophetic tradition, and so forth. When I first had a chance to meet and spend a few days with him nearly a decade ago, the person I saw was a learned scholar with impeccable character, attentive and caring to those around him, generous with his time, always smiling, and very positive.

I remember holding the door open for him one day and he kept telling me to enter first. Later, I asked him about the issue of disobeying the commands of elders and scholars when it was done out of adab as Ali (God be well-pleased with him) had done with the Prophet (blessings be upon him). He laughed, held my hand, and simply said, “I am not the Prophet, Salman, and I pray to God that you will be like Ali.”

Graves, Music, and Miracle Stories?

My other experience was with Shaykh Nuh Haa Meem Keller. I always thought Haa Meem was a rather odd middle name. Being a Sufi did not aid my initial perception of Shaykh Nuh either, nor did the hadra, and nor the fact that Sufis were associated with graves, music, miracle stories, and a host of other practices and beliefs that seemed extremely odd at the time. I eventually matured and settled in Amman where I lived for nearly half a decade. To this day, I have never seen anyone more actualized in his spiritual state than Shaykh Nuh, nor anyone more attached to the sunna of the Prophet (blessings be upon him). There was no grave “worship”, no music, no giving your money to the shaykh, no constant miracle stories. All I heard was one message: realize tawhid, worship Him, trust in Him, be people of good and benefit, etc. He is the one who demonstrated to me that the notion of al-insan al-kamil (‘the perfect man’) was in fact a reality and continues to be a reality realized by some.

These are two examples from among many where the portrayal of someone on social media and websites turned out to be utterly deceptive and false. We have a tendency to be quick in formulating judgments about others based on some website setup against that person, or some limited exposure to certain views, or the polemics of certain people and groups.

Small Screen Projects Resentment

Among our own fellow brothers and sisters whom we may discuss and disagree with publicly on the internet, we fall into the error of reading anger, resentment, hatred, and animosity into their comments and stances. This projection on our part is amplified manifold by the small screen that stands between us. I have found that meeting people humanizes them; it brings about a more respectful, civilized, and beneficial relationship. Some of my closest colleagues today are people who are in some ways my polar opposites and who disagree with me on fundamental issues. I was fortunate enough to have actually had the chance to sit with them and discuss things like real people are meant to.

Don’t let the internet damage your relationships with others. Don’t let it allow you to fall into the sin of ill-will towards people, arrogance, hatred for your fellow brothers/sisters, animosity, backbiting, and the like. Recognize the potential of this medium to distort your perception and take the means to make sure that does not happen. When discussing with another, refer to him/her respectfully, thank that person for sharing their thoughts, make a supplication, and do not say things you would not say to someone in person.

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The Passing of the Father and Grandfather of Ustadh Salman Younas

The passing of the father and grandfather of Ustadh Salman Younas

salman younas

Ustadh Salman Younas (right)

It is with great sadness that we bring to you the news of the passing of the father and grandfather of SeekersHub teacher and friend, Ustadh Salman Younas. The two tragically passed away in a car accident in Pakistan on Friday, the 6th of May.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised to recite Surah Yasin for our deceased.
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani requests that all SeekersHub students, and everyone else, take the opportunity to recite Surah Yasin for Ustadh Salmans’ father and grandfather and for all our deceased.

Here is a beautiful recitation of Surah Yasin from Shaykh Muhammed Hussary.

Resources related to Surah Yasin:

 

Unregistered Marriages: A Muslim Concern

Nikah Wedding bride

On his deathbed, an imam in the United Kingdom had a confession to make: he had never registered the unions of hundreds of Muslim couples he married in his mosque. Despite promising these couples that he would do so, he forgot – a catastrophic mistake, as they and any children from their union would have no rights in UK law upon divorce or death. Taking his last breaths, the imam now begged for forgiveness.

As she shared this story, London-based solicitor Aina Khan offered statistics that have recently made headlines in the British press:

80% of Muslim couples under the age of 40 in the UK have not registered their marriages under civil law, while 80% of UK mosques are not registering the Islamic marriages conducted under their auspices.

The high rate of unregistered Muslim marriages, or ‘nikahs,’ has concerned traditional Muslim scholars, who worry that these numbers reflect a lack of Muslim integration into broader society and increasing injustice for women and children involved in such unions. Many are calling for Muslim couples to register their marriages under civil law.

“Because we live in a Western society where a traditional nikah can’t be enforced by the court and there is a lot of harm that results – particularly from the female side – people should be told to register,” said Ustadh Salman Younas, a SeekersHub teacher who has studied with many of today’s leading Islamic scholars.

The consequences of unregistered Muslim unions – in which couples sign an Islamic contract but fail to register their marriages with the government – can be extremely harmful. As the UK does not recognize an Islamic marriage contract as legally binding, if the marriage ends upon divorce or the death of a spouse, spouses owe each other nothing in terms of financial support, child care, or inheritance under British law. Removing one partner’s share of funds from a couple’s joint financial investment, such as a mortgage or family business, or from a shared bank account becomes extremely difficult.

The reasons for such high numbers of unregistered marriages are many. Although British headlines worried the numbers indicated a rise in religious extremism, Khan, who published the numbers after conducting research in the UK’s Muslim community, uncovered a different cause.

“Nine out of ten people do it out of sheer ignorance. They say, ‘oh, we’ll do it one day.’ What’s really important is the outfit, the venue, the color of the napkins,” said Khan, head of the Islamic department at Duncan Lewis. “[Others] want to avoid a divorce and a financial share of assets.”

The resistance to registering the marriage often comes from the groom and his family, according to Khan, who want to limit what he would owe the bride in a climate of high divorce rates. Some argue that divorce settlements under British law do not comply with their Islamic counterparts, taking away some of the rights men traditionally had under Islamic law.

Such a view, however, is antithetical to the Islamic spirit.

“Our religion calls for excellence,” said Ustadh Salman. “Are you going to say that because the husband isn’t going to have some of his rights, you’re going to take away virtually all of the wife’s rights?”

Unregistered marriages that end in divorce usually end up at one of Britain’s shari’a courts, which, while holding moral authority among Muslims, are not legally binding. Most of these courts go back to classical texts with traditional rulings that include giving the husband custody of children over the age of seven and leaving the wife no more than three months of financial support.

Few Muslim scholars in the West have dealt with how a post-divorce settlement would look like in a situation that includes new variables such as double income families and two-party contribution to mortgages. This is a problem, argued Ustadh Salman.

“Scholars should examine the family context,” said the ustadh, particularly when viewing the wife’s rights. “To say that all she’s allowed is three months upkeep and then off you go, there’s no link and the husband owes you nothing: that’s unfair in a contemporary context.”

One of the main pillars of Islamic law is justice. Scholars have long held that if older rulings do not establish justice in contemporary realities, then they must move beyond the letter of the text and look at the principles of the text to see how they apply to our current time, according to Ustadh Salman.

“There are many tools at the disposal of a mufti to change legal rules: custom, consideration of public interest, hardship, lesser of two evils, blocking the means to harm,” said Ustadh Salman. “All are well-documented in the tradition.”

In order to ensure the creation of rulings that establish justice based on the Prophetic model in contemporary society, Muslim scholars – and the community at large – must work with other professionals who have the necessary expertise in the fields being studied, such as marriage counselors or legal advisors, said Ustadh Salman.

Among the most common advice given by those experts is that prevention is the cure.

“Have a prenuptial agreement, write it down before the nikah: you’ll each keep your own earnings… Discuss these things,” said Khan, “and then forget about it and have a happy marriage.”

The Islamic contract itself can include clauses that give the wife, for example, the right to divorce if the marriage is not registered under civil law in a year’s time, said Ustadh Salman.

Divorce-ImageFor unregistered couples whose marriages may be failing, however, Khan advised to put the needs of their children before their own and register their marriages. They could then sign an agreement that they would not take from each other more than they are owed Islamically. If that does not work, then a claim against the husband can be made for housing and other types of support if there are children from the marriage. Other issues, such as joint business ventures, can be dealt with, but this is both expensive and risky.

Ultimately, the only way to effectively deal with these issues is for Muslim scholars and community leaders to spread the the message about the consequences of unregistered marriages in the Muslim community, said Khan.

“It cannot be women demanding their rights from the outside,” said Khan. “We need sponsors – mostly male in our community – to support us by spreading this message.”

Khan’s “Register Our Marriage” campaign is one avenue for spreading the word on unregistered marriages. The campaign aims, among other things, to partner with Muslim scholars to publicize a narrative via road shows and social media that says an Islamic marriage is a legal marriage that protects all in it. It also asks mosques to pledge to become authorized to register civil marriages.

As for changes within the Islamic legal system, Ustadh Salman said that they are taking place. Although some may be frustrated with the pace of change, the discourse is progressing, especially as word about the consequences of unregistered marriages spreads through the community.

“Social progress always precedes law,” said Ustadh Salman. “It’s going to take some time to get solutions on this issue, but we need to keep pushing.”

Written by Nour Merza

 

Resources for Seekers:

Who Gets Custody of the Children After a Divorce?
Can One Get Married With the Goal of Getting Citizenship?
Words of Divorce and Dealing With Abuse in the Maliki School
How to Solve the Problem With Prolonged Engagements
Is It Valid to Divorce Someone While Angry or During Menstruation?
The Fiqh of the Marriage Feast (Walima)
The Ruling on Divorcing While Angry and Pronouncing Three Divorces
Is My Marriage Valid? (Shafi’i School)
What are the Wisdoms behind the Rulings on Divorce in Islam?
Islamic Law for Seekers (Hanafi): Marriage & Divorce (Course)
Basic Rulings and Length of the Waiting Period (`idda)
When Love is Not Enough
Understanding Marriage – A conversation with Imam Zaid Shakir
Should I Stay Married Even Though I Hate My Husband?