Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No Fun Please, We Are Muslims

Snippet 1.

It was the year 1989. NASA's Voyager 2 had just reached Neptune. The next day at school we were all an excited bunch. Eagerly we discussed the documentary showed the previous night on TV on the sole English channel at that time, Channel 33. It had been on the "slingshot effect", and how Voyager 2 had used it to reach Neptune. I asked one of my class mates, son of one muezzin, if he had watched the documentary.

"We don't have TV." He replied, "My dad says it's haram. He says the TV is evil."

Snippet 2.

2005. RIS. Toronto. The famous Indian speaker Dr Zakir Naik was speaking. A lady stood up to ask a question, "Is music allowed in Islam?"

Dr Naik answered, "Music is the devil's muezzin. It is a frivolity. Personally, I believe that music is prohibited to Muslims. To me, the only musical instrument that is somewhat permissible is the Daf, because this drum was used during the Prophet's time. We Muslims should be spending our time doing much more constructive things. Music usually intoxicates a person ..."

Everyone clapped.

Snippet 3.

The airport in Pakistan. The year was 1995. The press had gathered to see Jemima (Haiqa) Khan, the new convert-to-Islam and wife of Pakistan's world cup winning captain Imran Khan. Nervous, and feeling slightly uncomfortable, Jemima clasped her hands around her husband's. Quickly, Imran shook his hands free.

"It's not our way to show affection thus," he told her abruptly, standing stiffly apart from her.

I remember watching that scene on TV with a sense of awe.

Snippet 4.

Fourteen hundred years ago. A young Aisha, wife of the final Messenger of God, narrates the following story.

"On the day of Eid, the Prophet called me while the Ethiopians were playing with their spears in the mosque saying 'O little red one, would you like to watch them?' I said 'yes'."

"Then he had me stand behind him and dropped his shoulders so that I could see. I rested my chin on his shoulder with my face against his cheek, and watched from over his shoulder. When I became bored with the exhibition, he said to me 'Have you had enough?' I said, 'Don’t rush.' And so he continued standing for me. When he asked me the second time if I had had enough, I again told him not to rush. I saw him switching his feet from weariness."

Aisha explains to us, "I really had no desire to look at them, I only wished for the news to reach other women, of the way he stood there for me, and the regard he had for me though I was only a girl. So appreciate the status of a girl young in age and fond of pleasure and fun." (related from Al-Bukhari [Volume 7, Book 62, Number 118] and Al-Muslim)

And they still say any frivolity and fun is Haram!


Diganta said...

Exactly how these misinterpretations came up?

Suroor said...

And they still say that the Prophet (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) was athobillah a horrible man who oppressed women.

I've got goosebumps reading this. Thank you and I really love you for writing this post.

mousehunter said...

Nice. I like how you laid that out. If we as muslims can't show affection to our spouses in public (I mean, she was only hold his hand, not like they were making out like a couple of teenagers) then we appear to very cold individuals. It makes me think of certain Indian cultures where a husband walk like 10 feet in front of his wife! What's up with that. Anyways..gotta go catch the GO train...

sonia said...

Another good one Mezba!

I saw this Zakir Naik speaking on TV. He really made me giggle! In this one talk he seemed obsessed with rape and alcohol - his theory was that alcohol was responsible for rape and he kept saying if alcohol were banned in america then we'd see rape stats go down. ( he was obsessed with the whole stats thing!)

Now what I wanted to ask him was - and what about Pakistan? Not supposed to be drinking any alcohol - and what about their rape rates? ( of course he'd probably already thought of that - i daresay the official rates of reporting rape in Pakistan are low - i mean who would go and announce they'd been raped when most likely they'd only be punished themselves?)

The thing was - fair enough about his argument re: 'inhibiting' effect of alcohol- BUT his premise appeared to be that - all men want to rape someone. and they'd better not drink - as then they'll be more likely to give into their desires.

Really - not very nice! If we listened to the Mullahs, they'd give us a very bad idea of Muslim people who have no self control and are really very bad people waiting to do very bad things. !!

I guess his argument also implies that all these men who go to the pub, have a pint, go home ( and don't rape anyone in the process) must be very WEIRD.

ha hah

Maliha said...

I love this..I love how you laid it out so nicely. How could we have gone so far away from his example?

Abu Sinan said...

Everything is about intention. Some music IS haraam, others is certainly not. Who would contend that Beethoven's Ode to Joy is haraam?

As to public affection, that is a culture issue, not a religious one. My wife and I hold hands in public all of the time. It owuld be odd NOT to.

Anonymous said...

FUN???? You want us Muslim folk to have FUN??? To watch TV, listen to music, show affection and be considerate of others???? Mezba! I'm shocked at you! How dare you suggest such a thing!!!! *wink*

(Sarcasm however is fine.)

Anonymous said...

Now,some pple back home would say "Look how "english/american/canadian" they have become" (when holding hands or just a husband taking care of his wife).
Now, my question is,so where do all those babies come from? Did they just "appear?" sf

saqi namah said...

Mezba, why are you leading these people astray? (*wink*) As the grand Sheikh of the Al-Bloghi sect you should set an example for everyone. Don't you know that if something is fun then it MUST be harm. Speaking of which blogging is fun sometimes so when you are having fun you shoud stop blogging. (*wink, wink*)

'liya said...

I can actually think of people who would benefit from reading this. And that's sad. :S

(I didn't get the email you asked me about)

mystic-soul said...

In maluvion ki to Ma ki......

arafat said...

Wonderful post!

Incidentally, I had recently been thinking about the question of public display of affection -- in part because I noticed there's been quite a bit of hullabaloo surrounding the new show Little Mosque on the Prairie. Some people are apparently pissed off that the guy Yasser kissed his wife in public, coz apparently "Muslim couples never do that"!!

But of course, this is again one of those issues where cultural norms become befuddled with religion. In South Asia, couples don't (or at least, didn't use to) make out in public (by make out I obviously mean the 'French' kind; and I presume they don't in private, either!). And this is/was so for everyone whether Hindu or Muslim.

BTW, the Zakir Naik cult is, I think, a fascinating phenomenon -- and in many ways representative of much of what's wrong amongst Muslims today. When I gew up, I heard Zakir Naik being praised so much I almost came to believe he's the big Muslim hero everyone needs; he was almost worshipped as a new Ahmed Deedat or something. Of course, I got to see a few of his videos, too -- and other than the fact that I barely understood anything at the time, I was quite impressed with his mastery of rhetoric. He speaks so fast and so smooth, I thought. And he keeps quoting "Chapter No. this, Verse No. that" so fluently, it's just remarkable.

However, when I went back home earlier last year, I again came upon a Zakir Naik video by chance. This time, I was utterly embarassed about my earlier naivete. The man is so un-scholarly, so un-scientific, and so ridiculously pseudo-intellectual that I was really quite shocked I could have possibly ever admired him (even if that was back in like 8th grade). What a poor sight, I thought to myself...this is what happens when a modern medical doctor assumes the status of a religious scholar.

In sum, I think there's a severe case of knowledge crisis in the entire Muslim community across the globe. God knows if we'll ever break out of this situation.

M&M said...

actually your mention of music being haram reminded me of something

i attended a conference a few years ago, i think icna, anyways the speaker was sheikh yousuf (and i cannot remember his last name, he is the muslim convert who used to be a priest) well he was asked this same question. his answer sticks to me to this day because i love the way he answered it. he said something along the lines that

i will not tell you if music is haram or not. start focusing on your deen and avoid the big sins that are haram in islam such as interest, backbiting, pre-martial sexual relations etc.. when you get closer to your deen, for things such as music that are not the huge sins, your heart will lead you to the right way. you will know what to do. for me to tell you right now that music is haram and you stop listening to music but then continue backbiting, eating haram etc. it does not help. remmeber it is your intention and the fact that whatever you do does not distract you away from the religion and prayers etc.

i tried paraphrasing. didnt do the best job of it. sorry.

mezba said...

Thanx all for the comments.

Diganta: I am afraid it has more to do with imporing customs and rituals and disguising them as Islam, as well as a strict focus on ritual and letter of the law rather than the spirit.

Suroor: Thank you. I use this hadith a lot.

Mousehunter: It was only holding of hands. I have heard though in Iraq the women now walk in front of men... not because they are liberated but there are landmines... OK ok very bad and sexist joke!

Sonia (AND arafat): lol I used to think of that way about Zakir Naik too, until I heard a lot of bad things about what he said. ANd then I saw with my own eyes some of his statements and have lost all respect for him.

Maliha: I think the revival of Islam and reformation of Muslims have to come from the West.

Abu Sinan: Yes it would be. What I find even more funny are desi people with 10 kids where the husband takes care not to be too close to his wife in public. Hello you have 10 kids!!!

Ruby: Having fun is haram. So said Shiekh Harami!

Sf: hehe... it's not that people are making out, just holding hands but NO! that is not OUR way..

Saqi: oh my goodness you are right! I must blog on non-fun posts now on.

Liya: Please do send the link to a few people who would benefit thus.

Mystic-soul: I like your attitude.

Wah wah!

Arafat: Check this video of Zakir Naik out.

M&M: Wonderful comment. You paraphrased it quite well!

singlemuslimah said...

"It's not our way to show affection thus,"
That poor girl, she must have felt horrible.

I often wonder where Muslims get these ideas.

everythingiseventual said...

wow thats a really beautiful hadith. ok so im reading all this new stuff about Zakir Naik, to whom i have been introduced to recently via dvds and such, and i was very awed by how well he can just quote verses off the top of his head and how logical his arguments are, its interesting to hear what other people think of him because ive only recently learned of him and have only seen two of his lectures.

Anonymous said...

I know this is late but I just want to say that this hadith made my fact it made my Ramadan.
Thank you.

mezba said...

Singlemuslimah, no wonder she could not adjust to Pakistan way of life.

everythingiseventual, just remember to take him with a grain of salt!

cairo, thanks! and hope you are having a good ramadan too.