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Rejected “Modernism”: Women speakers addressing mixed gatherings

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 Lizard Hole

[33:32] O wives of the prophet, you are not like any other women, if you observe taqwa (righteousness). So, do not be too soft in your speech, lest someone having disease in his heart should develop fancies (about you); and do speak with appropriate words


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Abstract:

We urge all Muslims to take note of these series of events wherein our American Muslim Sister Yasmin Mogahead will be addressing a mixed gathering and Shaykh (Dr) Akram Nadwi (HA) will also be appearing at one of events alongside her. This event is being organised by Alburuj Press headed by Br Zaid and we request all Muslims to contact Alburuj Press & Br Zayd ul Islam , Shaykh (Dr) Akram Nadwi (HA), Sister Yasmin Mogahead and advise them to place appropriate barriers and safeguards in place or refrain from attending these series of events and also discourage others from doing the same.


Introduction:

All praise be to Allah (SWT) that this writer has had the privilege to benefit from the knowledge and experience of dear respected brother Zayd ul Islam (Alburujpress) and our dear beloved and respected Shaykh (Dr) Akram Nadwi (HA) both and they are individuals whom I greatly admire which makes writing the following few lines particularly difficult.

The Dawah and good works of brother Zayd ul Islam (Alburujpress) and our dear beloved and respected Shaykh (Dr) Akram Nadwi (HA) in Britain are not hidden from anyone and we make dua for them and for Allah (SWT) to increase his Tawfeeq to grant them steadfastness upon the Sunnah of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam).

It is with trepidation that I have decided to address the issue of the ongoing visit by Sister Yasmin Mogahead to UK organised by brother Zayd ul Islam (Alburujpress). I know my place and limitations; nevertheless my duty towards the Deen of Allah (SWT) has forced me to address the two whom I love and admire and to try to give them sincere advice about the matter which has greatly concerned not only me but many others who want to ensure that Islam in Britain continues along the path of pristine and unadulterated Sunnah.

There is no doubt that British Muslims need to make significant strides when it comes to Dawah amongst our Muslim Sisters but these strides must have sound footing and sure underpinnings and we must ensure that we are not affected by the “Modernism bug” and don’t simply follow the crowd and enter into the lizard hole! The tactics of Dawah and its methodology should be constantly scrutinised and improved to keep abreast of the latest social and technical developments; however we must ensure that our tactics don’t violate the guidelines of Shariah and sound traditions of classical Islamic scholarship, something our beloved brothers are well aware of!

In a nut shell, it is against Sunnah and illadvised for Muslim women to address a mixed gathering from the front without any physical barriers and appropriate safegurards. Such free-mixing should be discouraged and denounced. I am well aware of Shaykh (Dr) Akram Nadwi (HA)’s Magnum opus “Al-Muhaddithat” and greatly appreciate the contribution of all Muslim women in the field of Islamic Academia and may Allah (SWT) reward them all in this world and the next (Ameen) but the program of Sister Yasmin Mogahead in UK is a step too far and unfortunately in the wrong direction.

I appeal to brother Zayd ul Islam (Alburujpress), Shaykh (Dr) Akram Nadwi (HA) & Sister Yasmin Mogahead to listen to the advice of knowledgeable Muslim Scholars and to place appropriate physical barriers in place as this is what has been soundly transmitted to us on the matter of Muslim women imparting knowledge and advice to Muslim men. I urge, all those reading this to contact brother Zayd ul Islam (Alburujpress) and inform him (and the institute) of their displeasure at the organisation of this event, as it stands.

The Shariah discrepancies of this event are highlighted by Shaykh Mohammad Daniels (HA) below.

Last but not least, we extend a warm welcome to our Sister Yasmin Mogahead on her visit to United Kingdom and hope that her visit will become a means of her gaining proximity & to Allah (SWT).

I ask Allah (SWT) to accept what is good and to make it beneficial for all of us (Ameen).

Shariah objections to Muslim women addressing mixed gatherings

Shaykh Mohammed Daniel

As salaam aleykom

I have followed a lot of the answers to questions on this forum and am happy with what I read so far.

I have a question which is very important as no one is talking about it. Where I live the people will be inviting Yasmin Mogahed to give a lecture which is ok but she will be lecturing men and women. I am a female revert to Islam and knowing something about men I am not comfortable for my husband to look at another young woman lecturing or mixing with other female attendees. Am I wrong to feel this way everyone else is ok with it and I am confused so please help me. I am so confused with many things I see happening now not being the same as the Quran and hadiths that I read.

Respectfully,

As salam mu alaikum wa rahmat Ullah wa barakataHu

I have decided to divide my answer to this question in at least two posts in order to make it easier upon the reader to contemplate the contents of it. As always, I also welcome discussion from those noble students that particpate on this forum.

I ask Allah to increase you in your desire to remain on the 'straight path' and make your journey on this path easy and clear for you. What probably causes you to ask this question is a trait that has all, but become lost in secular societies, but remains strong amongst Muslims, known commonly as gheerah. (chaste-jealousy)

In order for me to answer this question and address the specifics of it, I would need to know more information about the nature of these lectures and how they are to be conducted as well as other information that will come in the context of my answer. As this information is not available to me now, my answer will provide general guidelines about the topic.

First of all, I would like to provide you with a non exhaustive list of the vices that occur when such lectures are conducted to a mixed gender audience.

The female lecturer speaks softly, tells jokes and even laughs during her lectures.

Where is she from these verses of the Quran in Surah al-Ahzab which do not require much explanation as they are quite clear?

"If you fear Allah then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should be moved to desire [you], but speak with appropriate speech. And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance." (33:32)

The female lecturer does not adhere to the principles of Islamic Hijaab by either not wearing a Hijab or by wearing a Hijab that adorns her and causes a person to stare, worst still she wears make-up.

For an example of this, one simply needs to look at the Islamic satellite channels or al-Jazeera news channel where the women cover their heads with vibrant fashionable scarfs and wear make up as if they are going to their marriage ceremony, not read the stories of the day to viewers

The gathering causes for the free-mixing of genders.

It goes without saying, that if a Muslim female lecturer is talking on an Islamic subject the likelihood of women attending the lecture is very high and if men are also invited there is a huge potential risk that free-mixing will occur. More often than not, and based on my extensive experience of traveling to conferences, good preparations ensuring the segregation of sexes to a reasonable degree are not made. This leads us to find that men and women are sitting beside each other, large groups of men and women are entering and exiting through the same doors sometimes in such a hurry to obtain a good seat etcetera that they even make physical contact.

Further to that, and in the interest of covering the expenses of bringing this lecturer, no dress code is advertised on the promotional materials or even enforced at the event. This results in a many brothers and sisters -that suffer from a lack of hayah- attending and wearing make-up, jewelry and clothing that is not permissible for them to be wearing other than in front people of the same gender and nothing is said about it, but rather it has been said that, "You should have a Hijab in your heart"

The female lecturer wears clothing that shows the contours of the body or while she gives the lecture bends into positions that are not synonymous with the concept of hayah in Islam.

Again while attending a Muslim training conference in New York, none of the attendees found it in the least deplorable that the female Muslim lecturer was clearly displaying her cleavage and when I objected to this, I was looked upon as if I was strange or an extremist. (Subhan Allah)

The female lecturer commits actions or talks on subjects that would be contrary to the norms of hayah (modesty) required of all Muslims leading to temptation.

An example of this occurred with me during a conference that I was invited to for Muslim youth when a well-known American-Egyptian woman started to talk about condoms in front of hundreds of Muslim attendees which I was absolutely disgusted by and will never forget in my life.

The young female lecturer traverses distances that exceed those permitted for a believing woman to travel when there is no urgent need for her to do so.

It has been narrated in numerous authentic Ahadith that it is not permissible for a woman to travel

Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) the Messenger of Allah (salahu alayhi wasalam) said: "It is unlawful for a woman who believes in Allah and the last day that she travels the distance of one day and one night without a Mahram accompanying her." (al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) the Messenger of Allah (salahu alayhi wasalam) said: "A woman must not travel for three days except with a Mahram." (Agreed Upon)

Now, none of the Fuqaha deem as urgent traveling to give lectures, but rather that it is mainly for those actions that are related to the preservation of life such as for some medical treatment, escaping from a war zone and the performance of Hajj, the last of which contains much difference of opinion amongst the scholars depending on the madhab that one adheres to. If they have differed in regards to fulfilling one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam, then it goes without saying that it remains unlawful for a woman to travel even if she is to give Islamic lectures.

The nature of a lecture requires that eye contact be maintained with the audience

As an accomplished public speaker that has received training from numerous organizations, I am fully aware of the role that eye contact has in engaging the audience and delivering a successful lecture. When one delivers a lecture to a mixed-gender audience it becomes very challenging not only for the speaker to not keep eye contact with the audience, but also for the audience not to look at the speaker. If one were to say, 'you don't have to look at the speaker if you don't want to', that would be rather nonsensical because it is well known in communication that a varying percentage of what is being communicated is not only in the audio that one hears, but also in the gesticulation of the speaker which in public speaking carries a more emphasized role. Furthermore, if organizers insisted that men should not look at the speaker then wouldn't it be rational for them not to be put into this scenario in the first place? We should also be aware that looking at the opposite gender whether we have a reason for it or not has its affect on the human heart and this is why Allah mentions it first when commanding us to guard our private parts.

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment... (24:30-31)

The effect it contains can very easily be translated into bad thoughts because the human self is weak, add to that the effects of today's society where sexuality is accentuated and licentiousness is rampant and you have a recipe for disaster.

Our Beloved (salahu alayhi wsalam) said very clearly in a Hadith that occurs in the Sahihayn (Bukhari and Muslim):

إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَتَبَ عَلَى ابْنِ آدَمَ حَظَّهُ مِنَ الزِّنَا ، أَدْرَكَ ذَلِكَ لَا مَحَالَةَ ، فَزِنَا الْعَيْنَيْنِ النَّظَرُ ، وَزِنَا اللِّسَانِ النُّطْقُ وَالنَّفْسُ تَمَنَّى وَتَشْتَهِي ، وَالْفَرْجُ يُصَدِّقُ ذَلِكَ أَوْ يُكَذِّبُهُ

"Allah has written upon the son of Adam is portion from Zinah (fornication) from which there is no escape. The zinah of the eyes is to look, the zinah of the tongue is to speak, the self wishes and desires and the private parts either actualize it or deny it"

Allah the creator of both men and women is fully aware of what is in the hearts and even if one 'pious' Muslim were to say that I do not feel any danger of temptation, what about the rest of the audience, it cannot be guaranteed that they will not feel anything. Furthermore, what about the non-yet Muslims males who may be watching this lecture on the net; how many times have we come across immoral comments about our Muslim sisters online?

My advice to honourable sisters who genuinely want to help the deen, not gain facebook fans

As our deen is Nasiha, I feel that my answer on this topic would be incomplete if I do not offer some at this juncture. I would like to offer all sisters the advice that they should contemplate their actions and search for and weigh the positives and negative elements of what they are doing in lecturing men. Looking at Muslim population statistics, the number of women in the Ummah is more than that of men and therefore the need for sisters is great. I recommend that sisters should specialize in issues that their fellow sisters would feel more comfortable discussing with them as there is a genuine need for this in the Ummah and leave the lecturing of men to the same gender. This would be a far more effective use of human resources in the Ummah.

My advice to the organizers of these events who seek to please Allah alone.

Organizers of events that seek to get people to practice their deen ultimately pleasing Allah in the process must ask themselves one golden question. Who is it that gives guidance to these people so that they are able to make the life changing decisions after listening to the lectures? Should the answer be Allah, then does it not follow that Allah is the One that puts barakah into our efforts and in order for him to do that, we need to act in complete and unquestionable accordance to the guidelines that He has set out for us.

My advice to brothers that are intending to attend a lecture conducted by a female lecturer

Ask yourselves what is the goal of your attending this lecture? Is it to gain proximity to Allah and increase your Imaan or is it for some other reason? While your are attending this lecture, is your heart undividedly attached to what is being said in a similar way to if you were attending a lecture conducted by a male lecturer or are you being distracted?

وَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَاعًا فَاسْأَلُوهُنَّ مِن وَرَاء حِجَابٍ ذَلِكُمْ أَطْهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمْ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّ

And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. (33:53)

It would be sheer sophistry to deny that women have an innate allure to any sane heterosexual man and that just because a woman is talking about love in Islam as opposed to love in general or any other subject for that matter, that those present would not be tempted by her soft speech, humour or even the idealistic notion that she is trying to convey setting their imaginations off in all directions.

In ending, I would like to say that if one studies the books of Usool and the Maqasid (purposes) behind the prohibitions of actions they realize that there are many actions that have been deemed Haraam even though they may contain some apparent benefit in them. The scholars have said that this is because people vary in their level of susceptibility to these things and so the prohibition encompasses everyone. I feel that this sort of activity for which I cannot find any pressing need in the Ummah to justify its dispensation, nor am I convinced will contain more good than bad, is not to be condoned and depending on the frequency of the factors above is either severely disliked or completely prohibited.

Finally, those of you whom have studied with me, know that I am always encouraging female scholarship in Islam by giving examples of great female scholars of the past in the hope that I can motivate my sisters to be more perceptive in their pursuit of the Sacred Sciences, so let not any person say that I am stepping on women's rights or anything of the sort.

And Allah knows best

Servant of Allah

Mohammed Daniel

Is modesty (even Islamic modesty) not subjective? Is it not true that in different cultures, the extent of Hijab observed also differs? For e.g. if you are in Saudia Arabia, uncovering your face may bring attention to you as a woman, but if you are in Malaysia, normal headscarf and loose clothing would bring about the same effect. Apart from following the basic standards, should she also not take into account cultural connotations?Are we not supposed to take cultural norms and connotations into account when debating the ''halalness'' of the female speaker in question? Also, isn't gender-interaction to a certain extent dependant on cultural norms too? The members who travel will have noticed how the appropriateness of certain aspects of gender-interaction will change according to cultures. For e.g. no woman will ever want to be on the board of a Masjid, or address a male crowd in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh. Yet she may feel perfectly at ease doing that in UK or USA.. because society defines different roles for her. A woman can take public transport alone in the west, yet the same woman will not do that in an Asian country...


If I am a female professional... I cannot give power-point presentations to my colleagues, because some may be male and I need to be behind a screen? I need to be stiff and not joke during my presentation? Even though you are taught in Business Communication or Public Speaking that one has to engage the audience? Or is it possible that the halalness of certain actions can be dependent on the circumstances, culture, situation and context.

As salam mu alaikum Sister (I assume this from your posts)

You have brought up some very valid points which are worth discussing.

If you look at the Islamic corpus you will find that there is a genuine difference of opinion between the scholars as to whether the covering of the face is obligatory or not and many see it as compulsory whereas others see that a free woman should cover her whole body except face and hands. What is interesting to note is that the scholars who hold the second opinion have also put conditions in place to ensure that hayah is maintained. They do not allow for a woman to go out and about unnecessarily or to engage in activities that would be contrary to the principle of hayah. I believe that laughing and joking with strange men is out of the boundaries of hayah.

Now , as long as one is observing the Islamic dress code and covering what they should be in the correct way, it does not matter what material or cultural design they use as long as that dress is the norm for the society they live in. In fact it is better for them to wear such clothing so as not to catch the attention of people unnecessarily by standing out, looking wealthier etc as our Beloved (Salahu alayhi wasalam) has said in an authentic hadith that can be found in al-Jami of Imam al-Tirmidhi and Sunan Abi Dawood as well as other compilations:

من لبس ثوبَ شُهرةٍ في الدُّنيا ألبسه اللهُ ثوبَ مَذلَّةٍ يومَ القيامةِ

Whoever wears a garment of celebrity in this world, Allah will dress him with a garment of disgrace on the Day of Qiyamah. (resurrection)



And Allah knows best
Mohammed Daniel

 


Sister Yasmin Mogahead

Our noble and respected Sister has decided to post the following on facebook in response and stated:

Islam came to liberate us--not to become a weapon we use to bully others. Perhaps those who feel compelled to publicly condemn female speakers, and even use specific names, may benefit from Shaykh Akram Nadawi's 50+ volume series on nearly 9000 Muslim women teachers of our tradition who taught both men and women--most without niqab.

Shaykh Mohammed Daniel Answers

As salam mu alaikum wa rahmat Ullah

Esteemed Sister,

Yasmin Mogahed

Thank you for posting your response to my statement regarding the issue of female lecturers lecturing males and the vices that it may contain. I do not write this response to your statement with the intention of entering into polemics, but so that we may collectively come to the truth as one of this Ummah's greatest teachers Imam al-Shafi'ee (RA) famously said:

ما ناظرني أحد فباليت أظهرت الحجة على لسانه أو على لساني

I have not debated a person except that it bothers me not, whether the proof is established on their tongue or on mine.

Your statement: "a weapon we use to bully others"

Know well, may Allah preserve and strengthen you, that the context of my statement was not one of "a weapon we use to bully others" as you stated in your response, but it was actually in response to the question of a confused revert sister who had become despondent at the lack of address of this issue. (see here) I also felt that it could negatively affect her matrimonial life. Furthermore, I did not want to invoke the wrath of Allah upon myself, by ignoring the plea of this noble sister and engaging in the obscurantism of the sacred sciences.[1]

Your statement,"Perhaps those who feel compelled to publicly condemn female speakers ..."

Respectable sister, may Allah guide you and me to the truth, this is not an accurate representation of my statement as I did not condemn female speakers per se, rather I was addressing the issue of female speakers addressing men as I said clearly in the opening lines of my statement.


"I would like to provide you with a non exhaustive list of the vices that occur when such lectures are conducted to a mixed gender audience"

In fact, had you read my statement attentively, you would have come across the following passages in which I clearly encouraged female speakers/scholarship by saying:


"My advice to honourable sisters who genuinely want to help the deen, not gain facebook fans

As our deen is Nasiha, I feel that my answer on this topic would be incomplete if I do not offer some at this juncture. I would like to offer all sisters the advice that they should contemplate their actions and search for and weigh the positives and negative elements of what they are doing in lecturing men. Looking at Muslim population statistics, the number of women in the Ummah is more than that of men and therefore the need for sisters is great. I recommend that sisters should specialize in issues that their fellow sisters would feel more comfortable discussing with them as there is a genuine need for this in the Ummah and leave the lecturing of men to the same gender. This would be a far more effective use of human resources in the Ummah.

And:

"Finally, those of you whom have studied with me, know that I am always encouraging female scholarship in Islam by giving examples of great female scholars of the past in the hope that I can motivate my sisters to be more perceptive in their pursuit of the Sacred Sciences, so let not any person say that I am stepping on women's rights or anything of the sort."

Your statement: "and even use specific names..."

Virtuous sister, this too is an inaccurate account of what I wrote and I can only assume that you were genuinely too busy to read my statement or felt that it was not of importance to you.

In the precursor to my statement on the subject, I clearly showed my intention to generalize the issue by stating:

"In order for me to answer this question and address the specifics of it, I would need to know more information about the nature of these lectures and how they are to be conducted as well as other information that will come in the context of my answer. As this information is not available to me now, my answer will provide general guidelines about the topic."

Furthermore, when the post was submitted it contained your full name in the title which I had removed as well as posting a reminder that stated.

"The title was changed to remove names but the first post cannot be changed in this forum. In future, we ask that names are not used if the question can be made general." In a later post, I also stated this. "Secondly, the Ulama have given preference to not mentioning the name of the individual if it is possible when asking for a ruling which is something we realize."

It should thus be clear from the above that I made a sincere effort not to use 'specific names' openly even if it is my prerogative to use specific names based on what the scholars have said in this regard. In fact, a little known fact that can be found in the books of the muhaditheen, (you stated Dr Akram's book) is that they would have special sessions in which they would permissibly backbite. You may ask yourself why then did I go to such an effort? The answer is in the saying of the great sage and scholar al-Fudail ibn Iyadh when he said:

المؤمن يستر وينصح والفاجر يهتك ويُعيِّر

"The Mumin conceals and advises and the persistent evil doer disgraces and condemns."

Now at the beginning of your facebook post you stated "Islam came to liberate us..."

May I kindly ask you, to be more careful when making such statements or quotations of people from the past because you are a very gifted sister with a strong following and your statements can be misconstrued or deliberately manipulated to promote objectives that I am quite sure you do not seek to promote. The object pronoun 'us' in your post was it referring to women, Muslims or humans?[2]

I am sure you can appreciate the connotation and what I am trying to say.

Your statement ...may benefit from Shaykh Akram Nadawi's 50+ volume series on nearly 9000 Muslim women teachers of our tradition who taught both men and women--most without niqab

Despite being a very beneficial statement for the promotion of the book, it does little to come to the truth of the matter for numerous reasons including the fact that the book, to the best of my knowledge, has not been published so I am unable to refer to it. Have you read the book and did you manage to gather the exact number of young women who travelled around without a mahram, teaching mixed-gender gatherings of lay people without a screen or niqab? (even though I never mentioned niqab in my statement and respect the sisters who do not wear niqab)

If you have could you kindly enlighten me to your findings so that I may be guided to the truth and retract my statement if need be. If you do not have the answer, could you kindly ask Dr Akram Nadwi or your sister Dalia Mogahed who are both scholars and whom I have met personally to provide precise proofs to support the premise above.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Servant of Allah and His deen

Mohammed Daniel


Shaykh Mohammed Daniel on the issue of Female Hadeeth Masters of the Past

As-Salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah

May Allah increase you all in good and raise you in rank...ameen.

I too am a simple student who has no authority to issue a legal opinion, however in one of the last classes with Sheikh Muhammad Daniel he mentioned the fact that the females who narrated ahadith in the past are not the same as the women getting up to give lectures to grown men today. He also mentioned that there is no lack of male scholarship to necessitate a woman standing up lecturing grown men (though this is not to be taken as applying that lack of make scholarship would or would not be a justification).May Allah raise every reader to the highest gardens...ameen.Wa salaamu alaikum

-hvsmrspct

As salam mu alaikum wa rahmat Ullah wa barakataHu

Esteemed Colleagues,

Masha Allah, the discussion has had a lot of interest and many variables have sprung out of it.

While others should feel free to continue their discussion, I would like to try and catch up on some questions and comments that were made earlier before I move on to later posts.

Brother Halim (HA) provided very beneficial naseeha earlier and these were two points I wanted to clarify.

Females who narrated hadith/taught in the past.

By the grace of Allah alone, I have read volumes of books regarding the lives of the muhaditheen and Ulama of our Salaf and until now, I have not come across any authentic statements that state young female muhadithaat/musnidaat or scholars would sit in a mixed gathering without a veil/curtain and teach, let alone the other factors I mentioned in my ruling on the issue such as traveling alone, laughing etc. I humbly request anyone who has proof to the contrary to present it, because the burden of proof is on the one that alleges this.

Lack of male scholarship justifying females lecturing men.

In Usool al-Fiqh, there exist many maxims (of rulings) some of which allow for dispensations to be made in extreme circumstances. The level of male scholarship that the Ummah currently enjoys would not constitute an extreme circumstance. Women participating on the battlefield in a scenario where Jihad is taking place is an extreme circumstance and therefore would allow for a dispensation. One cannot bring the second situation as a proof to support the first as they are simply not comparable.

And Allah knows best

 


 

Shaykh Mohammed Daniel on Hijab

Salam Alaikum Sheikh Daniel,

I am commenting because I feel this is a good opportunity to engage with others and listen to other viewpoints so we can learn and benefit more. I believe you are far more learned than me in terms of religion, and I say this with sincere intentions. What I am about to say is more on the emotional, human side...
With all due respect, I believe it would not be wise to object to the dress of a woman in a non-muslim country where women are free to dress as they please. Even if the lady in question was a Muslimah, it is possible that her level of imaan was not where it is supposed to be. So how can we object to her dresscode? (especially since we are in a nonmuslim country governed by nonmuslim laws) Objecting to non-hijabi sister could send many wrong messages. Are we not supposed to engage all sorts of people? If that muslimah had any knowledge or benefits to offer the conference, are we to exclude her because we believe her dresscode is not where it should be? I feel that as a community, we should be inclusive rather than exclusive

-featherbrain

As salam mu alaikum Sister,

Masha Allah, I am unable to catch up with your many points and was making an effort when you posed new questions. This definitely displays to me your passion for the subject and your genuine concern for Muslim sisters in the US and Western world. May Allah increase in the ummah people such as yourself as we are in need of people who are concerned and want to make a change.

Sister, as you are aware, there is no compulsion in this deen and if a person wants to dress in a certain way then that is between them and Allah (at least in the West). Many a time, I attend a conference and have to communicate with such people in some capacity, if I were to give them a 'cold shoulder' how would I expect to win their hearts over to practicing Islam properly. It would only cause them to go further away. However, I think we need to maintain a balance between having tolerant, cordial, personal interactions with people that are openly sinning (men too) and having these people becoming spokespeople for Islam which is what is happening nowadays in the West. (I am not talking about any individuals here)

Now, moving away from those who are speaking about Islam to those that are speaking in a professional capacity. If they are Muslim, then they still must adhere to the minimum requirements of their religion. To have a scantily clad Muslim woman/man lecturing a Muslim audience affords them some form of acceptance in Muslim society and we cannot allow for this to happen in the name of inclusion. A line must be drawn, where do we draw it and how inclusive do we become? Now, if we juxtapose this position with two openly gay 'Muslims' coming on stage to lecture on 'Overcoming the stereotypical challenges of adopting a son" or we had a male Muslim lecturer come on stage with a glass of wine set beside him for when he needed the occasional sip and many other examples that can be provided. Should we not object because we don't want to send the 'wrong message'?

What alarmed me most about the situation above with the sister lecturing and showing parts of her anatomy that only her husband should see, was that she had become acceptable in the Muslim conference that I was attending and I, a visibly practicing Muslim had become strange. With all due respect, Is that the cost of this inclusion that American scholars post Sept 2001 preach?

Let me give you a case in point. In Morocco, a predominantly Muslim country, women who wear Hijab cannot find decent professional jobs (French influence) but have to settle for jobs as cleaners (go to the airport, hotels etc and see for yourself) because they are given to sisters that do not wear Hijab. These non-hijabi sisters are more 'pleasing' on the eye and 'increase profits by attracting customers' as was told to me by many people I know in Morocco. On recent lengthy train journeys, my wife would encounter scantily clad sisters who would have the utmost admiration for her (my wife is from a noble Damascene family and wears abaya and face veil out of her own choice since the age of 13) and they would cry. You know what they were crying and complaining about? The were crying because they remembered fondly the days that they would wear Hijab and wished for those days to come back to them. And by Allah, they were complaining that they could not feed their children because no one gave them a job unless they removed their hijab and wore western clothing. What happened to their inclusion? Their exclusion came at the cost of society's inclusion of those who disobey Allah openly.

Now ask yourself, which foot should the shoe be on sister?

And Allah knows best

MD

P.S. Could I invite you to read this article because I think it would help you in understanding more the side arguments in relation to Hijab. I would also kindly welcome more participation of students living in the US as you said in the Thanksgiving post "So why not let American Scholars address this since this issue is specific to their region" It would be useful to hear their opinions too.

 


 

Footnotes:

[1] The scholars have stated that it is a major sin for a person who possesses knowledge to withhold it from those who request it of them and they base this on the following proofs:

 

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَى مِن بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ أُولَـئِكَ يَلعَنُهُمُ اللّهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّاعِنُونَ

Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down, and the Guidance, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book,-on them shall be Allah's curse, and the curse of those entitled to curse. (al-Baqarah 159-160)

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللّهُ مِيثَاقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ لَتُبَيِّنُنَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلاَ تَكْتُمُونَهُ فَنَبَذُوهُ وَرَاء ظُهُورِهِمْ وَاشْتَرَوْاْ بِهِ ثَمَناً قَلِيلاً فَبِئْسَ مَا يَشْتَرُونَ

And remember Allah took a covenant from the People of the Book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it; but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made! (ale-Imran 187)

In an authentic hadith that can be found in numerous books including the Sunan of Abu Dawood and Jami of Imam al-Tirmidhi we find the following: "Whomsoever is questioned about a matter of knowledge and withholds it will be branded with a brand of fire on the Day of Judgment."

 

 

[2] Could it be the statement of the famous Sahabi Ribee (RA) when he said:

 

الله ابتعثنا والله جاء بنا لنخرج من شاء من عبادة العباد إلى عبادة الله، ومن ضيق الدنيا إلى سعتها , ومن جور الأديان إلى عدل الإسلام