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What type of Muslim would you be?

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I’m starting to realise something, if I didn’t know any Muslims, if I wasn’t told anything about Islam from websites and information pamphlets, if all I had as my source of information was the Quran, I would practice the religion completely differently to how it usually is now.

Ok so I still haven’t finished it (I know I know tick tock) so I can only base this blog entry on what I have read so far. I also cannot read Arabic so basing it on an English translation (M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, oxford classic, to be precise). But the Quran doesn’t seem to make Islam as ritualistic, OCD, complicated and nitpicking as Muslims would have you believe.

First things first: Hadith. Now these are the stories/sayings of the prophet Muhammed, they are not part of the Quran. For the most part they are considered pretty essential to a Muslim to tell them how to practise their religion and to expand on what the Quran says.
I have noticed in the last few years that all too often Muslim’s seem to put hadith equal to what is meant to be the word of God, the Quran, in fact in some cases they put it above.
I’ve thought that strange before truly knowing the religion, now I am learning the religion I find it wrong/haram.
Hadith’s were not written by the prophet, they were collected after he had died. The prophet was also just a man, he isn’t the son of god, or divine, a human with the faults that humans have. So why are people using his alleged teachings and sayings as an essential part of their religion?

niqab

God’s wish, or mans?


The Quran states that it is the completed word of god, it has perfected the religion, you need nothing else. It gives the rules, it tells you who god loves, it tells you who will be punished, it tells you the sins, it even tells you heritage laws. It also tells you time and time again that Muhammed’s ONLY duty is to deliever the Quran

“We did not leave anything out of this book, then all will be gathered before their Lord (for judgment). Those who do not believe our verses are deaf and dumb; in total darkness. God sends astray whomever He wills, and directs whomever He wills in the right path.” (6:38-39)
“Shall I seek other than God as a source of law, when He revealed THIS BOOK FULLY DETAILED? (6:114)
“The word of your Lord is COMPLETE in truth & justice.” (6:115)
“You (Muhammad) cannot guide even the ones you love. God is the one who guides whomever He wills, for He knows best those who deserve the guidance.” (28:56)
“You have NO duty EXCEPT delivering (Quran)” (42:48)
“Your ONLY duty is delivering (Quran), while we will call them to account.” (13:40)
But how is it that they come to you for judgment while they have the Torah, in which is the judgment of Allah? Then they turn away, [even] after that; but those are not [in fact] believers (5:43)

These are just SOME quotes from the Quran to show my point, there are more. Things such as stoning are not mentioned anywhere in the Quran, that comes from hadith, the burka/niqab too. People tell me the hadith helps them know how to be a muslim, but surely if it isn’t in the Quran, then there is a reason why God didn’t put it there? He doesn’t strike me as the forgetful type.

Wudu. This is the specific way to clean before you pray. To me it seems very OCD. I was told to perform wudu as follows:

1. Wash hands 3 times
Use left hand to wash right hand, up to and including the wrist, 3 times. Then, use right hand to wash left hand, up to and including the wrist, 3 times.
2. Rinse water in mouth 3 times
Cup right hand with water and put in mouth, then spit it out, 3 times.
3. Snuff water in nose 3 times
4. Wash face 3 times
5. Wash forearms 3 times
Wipe right forearm with left hand, all the way up to and including the elbow, 3 times. Wipe left forearm with right hand, all the way up to and including the elbow, 3 times.
6. Wipe water over head/hair 1 times
7. Wipe the inside and back of ears 1 time
Wash both ears at the same time
8. Wash feet
Wash right foot, including the ankle, with left hand, 3 times. Wipe between each toe on right foot, with left hand pinky, 1 time.
Wash left foot, including the ankle, with right hand, 3 times. Wipe between each toe on left foot, with right hand pinky, 1 time.
So can you imagine how much my jaw dropped when I read wudu in the quran (5:6) as: “When you intend to offer prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles”.
Where is the awful sniffing water in my nose bit? Where is the obsession with the number three? Where is the specific right/left hand order? I can guess where… I feel lied to!

God doesn’t beat around the bush, he is pretty happy to say exactly who is going to hell and who isn’t. He also states that he can forgive anything other than disbelief and putting another god equal to him. There are certain obligations in Islam that are repeated again and again: regular prayers, giving to charity, being just to orphans, believe in Allah and the last day. These people will receive great reward, and considering how often this message is repeated, it is safe to assume that it reflects on the importance of them. If I only got my Islamic information from Muslims and never read the Quran I would think: “women put a scarf on your head” was written on page one in bold.
So much focus is put on that and many other little details, things that have only been given a blip of a mention, or perhaps no mention at all. So many arguments, so many threats. God is probably highly confused why so many are happy to harass uncovered women whilst orphans are being neglected.
halal butchers
Halal: Muslim’s have to eat food that is slaughtered in a certain way, with God’s name said over it. Oh and of course, they can’t eat pork.
Ok, halal, now this is something I thought was very black and white. It is a pain in the west, especially when you don’t live in a high Muslim populated area, your food options are limited. But wait, once again the quran shocks me:
“He only prohibits for you the eating of animals that die of themselves (without human interference), blood, the Meat of pigs, and animals dedicated to other than GOD. If one is forced (to eat these), without being malicious or deliberate, he incurs no sin. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (2:173)
“Prohibited for you are animals that die of themselves, blood, the MEAT of pigs, and animals dedicated to other than GOD. (Animals that die of themselves include those) strangled, struck with an object, fallen from a height, gored, attacked by a wild animal – unless you save your animal before it dies – and animals sacrificed on altars.” (5:3)
“I do not find in the revelations given to me any food that is prohibited for any eater except: (1) carrion, (2) running blood, (3) the meat of pigs, for it is contaminated, and (4) the meat of animals blasphemously dedicated to other than GOD.” If one is forced (to eat these), without being deliberate or malicious, then your Lord is Forgiver, Most Merciful. (6:145)
Hang on, where is the mention of slitting the throat? What in those passages say I can’t go buy chicken from my local Tesco? All those times my husband has looked longingly at steak on the menu but opted for the fish, for what? Maybe this is where I need the hadith, maybe the details are there, but God also says:
“Today, all good food is made lawful for you. The food of the people of the scripture (Jews & Christians) is lawful (halal) for you” (5:5)
“Why should you NOT eat from that upon which God’s name has been mentioned ? He has detailed for you what is prohibited for you, unless you are forced. Indeed, many people mislead others with their personal opinions, without knowledge. Your Lord is fully aware of the transgressors.” (6:119)
So he even states that he has detailed what you can and cannot eat, I guess that means we don’t need any more information, it is all there. So I can’t eat pigs, I can’t eat a bit of road kill, no running blood, I can’t strangle the animal, nor can I go steal meat from a pagans alter, or push a cow off a building to eat it, or beat it to death. Ok, I understand all that, so why can’t I go buy my chicken from Tesco?!
This halal business is, well, just that, a money making business. What I’m reading seems to be pretty clear that unless specifically stated in the quran, ALL other food is lawful, ALL other ways of slaughtering is lawful. Over 90% of halal meat in England is stunned before slaughter, some countries state that all meat must be stunned, therefore exactly what is different between halal and normal supermarket? The price for one (halal is often more experience). Maybe it’s the fact that supposedly a halal butcher is saying the name of God over the animal? Well my husband does that before he eats anyway. So it is the specific way of cutting the throat. Our butchers slit throats too, however that is neither here nor there because the Quran doesn’t say it has to be killed in that way, just not in the ways given.
Using common sense, when they hunted in the time of the prophet they likely killed their game with a bow and arrow etc, not chased after it with a dagger to slit it’s throat. A nice clean kill from a distance is far more humane than wounding until you get close enough to finish it off too.

Ok I’m going on and on now. I just feel like I’m reading a completely different book to the Muslims I have met. People often ask me if my husband and I have lots of problems due to having different religions, but I actually believe we would have far more disagreements if I was Muslim: I would be a Quranist, I wouldn’t put much emphasis on hair covering, I wouldn’t only eat halal, my wudu would be short and simple. To some it might look like I would be a half arsed Muslim, but I actually think they are the ones making it harder than it was meant to be.
I cannot wait to read more of the Quran, it is truly fascinating to see what the Quran actually says compared to what I have been lead to believe it says.

Wanted: Muslim sisters

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muslim sisters
The other day I posted how I wanted/needed to go to a mosque, and I still intend to, but the more I think about it the more nervous I get.
I am not one who enjoys new situations, and when I have no choice I really like someone to “hold my hand”, at least for the first time. I assumed I would have my husband to hold my hand, but alas this can not be.
I already knew that men and women did not pray together in most mosques- most have women in a separate room, some behind a curtain, and apparently there are even some that don’t allow women at all. Now I can’t begin to say how anti I am for all three of those. This isn’t a dig at Islam, because it ISN’T Islam. In the time of the prophet it can be gathered by hadiths that women were in the same room as men, not hidden away. Yes, they were at the back, but free to participate in mosque discussions and with clear view and hearing of the imam. I really can go on about the subject, but this Muslim brother’s blog page pretty much sums up my thoughts on it perfectly: http://muslimreverie.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/its-time-to-end-gender-segregation-in-mosques/
Anyway, so as nerve wracking as I knew it would be to enter a mosque, I was prepared for it. I thought to lessen anxiety my husband and I could go for Iftar (evening meal after fast), until he informed me that that too was segregated! For someone who isn’t the most confident of people, the idea of sitting around eating and trying to make small talk with complete strangers has to be up there with one of my worst nightmares. I know I’d hate every minute of it. Obviously I will be dealing with feelings of not belonging there and feeling a fraudster, but feeling lost and confused on top of that? Argh!
I don’t want a trip to the mosque to be tainted by my own fears, I wish I knew even just one Muslima in the “real world”, to show me where to go, what to do, to talk to me as we eat.
But I don’t, all I have is my husband and he wouldn’t be much of a support in another room.
Before Ramadan many large London mosques were running classes for new Muslims and those interested in it. That would have been perfect, at the very least I wouldn’t feel like an imposter, and they would know and expect ignorance on my part. Sadly now it is the holy month, mosques are a bit preoccupied and the classes have ended/put on hold.
And it isn’t just visiting mosques that having Muslim sisters around would help with. The only Muslim in my life is my husband, and obviously he cannot explain to me Islam from a females point of view. In fact, he thinks I obsess about the differences between men and women in Islam, but he just doesn’t *get* it, there are difficulties women face that he doesn’t, and so doesn’t understand just why they are difficult. A woman however would get it, and explain how she deals with it/understands it. An example of this is the segregation mentioned above- my husband who gets to be in the main room with the speaker, able to participate in the discussions, cannot say how women feel being hidden away. Ok, some, maybe most, women might love it, but only they can say that, not a man. It is easy for men to say women shouldn’t wear make up, shouldn’t pluck their eyebrows, shouldn’t do this, shouldn’t do that, they are not living it, so they don’t bother truly thinking about it and understanding it.
When nonmuslims talk about the worst things about Islam, it is likely to be ranked: 1) terrorism, and 2) female oppression.
Now I know number one is simply not true, I didn’t need to do this month to know that, but number two is what I am working on now. You don’t need western media distorting Islam and making it out as sexist when so called Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia do it perfectly well all by themselves. But I have known some women online for years who are Muslim and not the “stuck in the kitchen and only out in a burka” type. The Prophet Muhammed’s first wife, Khadija, was a strong, successful business woman, much older than he was. Their monogamous marriage lasted for 25 years until she passed away, making me believe he must have truly loved and respect her. Doesn’t seem like the type of woman or marriage for a man who some claim just wanted women hidden away.

I need to start addressing the issues I have with Islam, and not be like those who are judging it by inaccuracies. I’m thinking of starting a facebook group and posting my questions/concerns there. Right now, whenever I discover something I disagree with, I’m seeing it as a point against Islam, instead of researching the why and even credibility behind it.
I’m nearly half way through being a Muslim for a month and feel as if I’m still clueless. I need more dialogue with actual Muslims, preferably sisters!