There is no racial, sexual, cultural, age, or financial description that confines you to be a Muslim.You could be all the way from the Ningxia province in China, or be living in Edgware road in London. We are everywhere, and we come in different colors and various backgrounds. Funny thing is, the majority of us can’t even speak Arabic, yet it is the same language we perform our daily 5 prayers in, and it is the same call of prayer in every part of the world. In a cosmopolitan city it’s not surprising to see a masjid filled with followers from diverse educational backgrounds, with different mother tongues, some born muslims, and some that have even reverted. Looking back, the religion of Islam started as something quite controversial.
It was a time when slavery was predominant in Arabia, and it was so backward, that burying young infant girls was quite the norm. The first convert to Islam was a woman, Khadijah (RA) – Prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) first wife, and the first martyr in Islam was also a woman, Sumayyah Bint Khabab, and Bilal, who was a black ex-slave, was the 1st to call out the Athaan. This was also a time when the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) gave rights to women such as inheritance and divorce, so how is it that at this very time in the 21st century, we Muslims are still so backward and superficial ?
If an arab woman was to marry a non-arab man, all hell would break loose with her family. If a Pakistani man needs to get married, a background check on the girl’s family name, their caste, financial status, her educational background, even the color of her skin would be looked into, before a proposal could even be made. Yes, I know, there’ll be an outcry of ‘yeah, that’s culture not religion’. But how did this culture even start in the 1st place? Islam came to break down these ‘cultural’ barriers amongst people. There’s no white better than black and rich better than poor, and arab better than non-arab, so how did this all come along and why in God’s name does all this bigotry still exist ?
The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) married Khadijah, who was twice married before, many years older than him, and she was financially bestowed with gold, silver, land, slaves, and cattle of all sorts. Even now in 2012, men are intimidated by women that earn even a quarter more than they do – muslim or not! Till now, there are countless Muslim women in their late 20’s and 30’s that can’t find a ‘suitable partner, because too many Muslim men look for women half their age. It’s not uncommon to hear of a 35-year-old man marrying a 23-year-old. But if it’s the other way around, it’s an outcry, its controversial, and if anything such a proposal would be deemed outrageous. There was a time when a woman who held on to her deen was the 1st choice of priority. Women who were divorced with or without children, or even widowed, were still looked upon as a ‘catch’. It was a time when chastity was honored, and now holding on to that same chastity, is almost considered a joke.
TV shows and magazines like Cosmopolitan are all about spicing up your sex life, in fact, media brainwashes you to believe that you can’t even ‘get a man’ now without sexually enticing him. Forget marriage, first comes sex, and then maybe, just maybe he’ll start thinking of a ‘serious’ relationship. The world is equipped with the latest technology and gadgets to make your every day existence easier, yet our mentality and attitude has transgressed. We have forgotten the essence of Islam and what it was all about. Now, it’s all about the rat race. Your job title, the brand of your shoes, your educational background, your family name – the pettiest and most ignorant of things have now become the essential. It’s quantity over quality, rather than the other way around. What happened about looking at a person’s character, their attitude, and the level and strength of their deen?
The very same people who go to Mecca for Hajj or Umrah, united with various Muslims all over the world, will think ten times before giving their daughter’s hand to someone who isn’t the ‘right’ color or of the same financial, geographical or cultural background. Muslim men that want to get married also have a lot of pressure. “How much does he earn ? What’s his job position? How much jewelry,money, or assets can he provide as dowry?” Sometimes, the financial demands of giving his fiancé her dream wedding, can be daunting and even a turn off. This isn’t a sales transaction. Marriage is meant to complete our deen, not to leave one another bankrupt.
There are way too many Muslim parents that turn a blind eye when it comes to the misbehavior of their sons whether it’s late nights, partying, drinking etc. Yet it’s the same parents that will lay down the law with their daughters. Where does this hypocritical mindset come from ? Is it acceptable that your sons act the same way non-believers do, but not your daughters?
Pakistani director, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, recently got an Oscar for her short film documentary, Saving Face, that depicts the lives of women that are survivors of acid attacks in rural areas of Pakistan. This isn’t something that only affects Pakistan, it affects neighbouring third world countries like India and Bangladesh as well. An honor killing by an Afghan family that took place in Ontario, Canada, just a few months back caused a media frenzy. Hundreds of innocent men, women and children are being mercilessly slaughtered daily in Syria by a ruthless leader. Where is the sanity behind these barbaric acts?
It’s sad but I’ve almost become accustomed on hearing retarded fatwas regarding women – whether it’s by clerics in Egypt that demand that women shouldn’t eat bananas and cucumbers because they resemble, oh my God, dare I say it, a ‘penis’ ! or Imams in Saudi who encourage the ban on driving because they think that women who drive are ‘prone’ to losing their virginity ! Like seriously ! Doesn’t this Ummah have more serious issues to focus on ?!?
Our Ummah and our deen are in debt to this Dunya. Our spirituality is in a recession and it desperately needs to be revived and awakened. We are focusing on trivial matters that are bringing us towards the pleasures of the Dunya and further away from the blessings of the Aakhira. It’s about time we stop judging others, and start changing ourselves. This Ummah is distorted in its unity and we need to go back to our roots. We need to go back and assess the life of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH and his footsteps. We need to re educate ourselves on Islam, because 1400 years ago, those very Muslims were the pioneers in thought and philosophy, and instead we have moved back into ignorance and arrogance.
The Prophet Muhammed PBUH tried to establish unity, patience, respect, tolerance and peace as part of the tenets of Islam and its teachings. Yet, it’s the very same practices that are continually ignored by Muslim leaders and the Ummah today. Have we officially moved into the “Dark Ages” of the 21st century?