i want to introduce yasmin and her blog to my friends. she lives in cairo, egypt and is doing masters after a laspe in studies, is very thoughtful, and has interesting ideas. you will find the link to her blog here and on the right margins "bannos".
wrote a longish reply to her letter (which follows)...and she wrote back another long reply (which also follows)
then i had second thoughts and mailed her this postscript today:
putting all of what i wrote yesterday on my blog does not appear a good idea on second thoughts...hmmmmm...let me find another way of introducing you on my blog?
to this she sent this reply:
smiles, whatever makes you comfortable
on third thoughts maybe you would like to think about a joint blog of discussion, discussion points, thoughts, small things or so, maybe open for comments? or something? a small step towards a collective ijtihad perhaps?
well, this is what i will do. i will post my reply, her reply and then those interested can add their comments in the reply. (the replies are moderated to keep away the non-serious interactors.)
september 27, 2006
my comments on the use of salutation was not a dictate - just a personal whim - you are free to exercise you choice:)
i would be more careful with the use of urdu-hindi in the correspondence... and re: blaming it all on beady...hmmm...not fair...i will own up to my faux pas...and there are plenty of them...ask M!...
chuckled at this: "...so I am about ready to convert to worshipping any god of fire who would agree to put them in a pile and burn them all..."
just remembered your Bannos and started browsing...i liked this from your first blog entry:
Reform does not necessarily mean a change towards something unknown and unfamiliar and therefore to be rejected. In Islam's case it should be a change back to its roots and foundations. It means going back to Islam the way it was meant to be, before it was hijacked by politics, personal gains and power struggles. A true reform should do away with all the additions that were artificially introduced into it and which were not part of the original. It also needs to re-adopt the elements that drowned in all the different interpretations and re-interpretations yet again and again. Once we eliminate the superfluous additions we can then expose its original glory again.
am with you in principle...(o o ...he is going to sneak in some disagreement)...not really - as we exchange thoughts...perhaps you will understand better where i stand...
am not a good muslim...if good muslim means following the rituals...am merely striving to become a better insaan (a better human being) and if i achieve that...or even if i pursue that path diligently...i believe i will come out ahead in the end....can i share these thoughts with a literalist?...bang bang!...
also i nod in agreement..."Once we eliminate the superfluous additions we can then expose its original glory again." and please pardon me as we have not read each other well enough and are just trying to get to know...but feel i can share my thoughts with you without being thrown in a dungeon?...theek hay...we are muslims and we should strive for that (glory bit)...but then my Allah is everybody's Allah too...why must i be so possessive in this interpretation?
yes, surely you are talking about islam and muslims!...but He is everyone's Lord and in a sense we all belong to him (not muslims alone)...it is this sense of 'monopolization' that bothers me sometime...khair...please continue your work and ignore these rants
(and also, let me continue)
focus on " glory" - what does it mean to you? - social justice, egalitarian equality, rights,....but above all...and this is my interpretation...muhammed (saw) directed a light - a torch to a path...if muslims had followed that path for the last 1500+ years they would have evolved...evolved to perhaps better human beings, better compatriots then those simple arabs of his time and environment
the risk of aiming for that glory is inherent...(baby back into the womb)...of course it can be argued that to fix the present mess we have to look backward and start correcting from where we weaned off that right path...arrrghhh!...then where is THAT path?...
is there another way?...perhaps...what if we individually and collectively start the process of fixing the wrongs from this moment onward?...you are familiar and have touched upon qiyaas, ijma, ijtihaad in one of your blogs.....it is done individually...can it be done collectively?
(meanwhile have been browsing through your thoughtful and wonderful blog...and i will add a link to my blog...and perhaps add this there too...will see)
in one entry you say:
Although the world today tends to view Islam in terms of schools and creeds, I believe that there is a much more fundamental conflict. It is between those who cling to the literal letter without applying their minds and compassion and those who stress inner values, the understated Islamic ones, now almost forgotten in the changing world of Islam. I do hope that we go back to the word of Allah and apply it using our hearts and try to fight all those different forms of discrimination."
you said it in fewer words what i was rambling about today...
re: your thesis - in brief...ours is less of a thinking persons world!...but if asrani can manji can spouse half baked thoughts and the gullible buy them ...am sure your more thoughtful and learned thoughts would be more welcome
i found the goethe poem you mentioned...it is wonderful and timeless...in a hermeneutical sense are we not from Him and to Him we return?...and in a larger sense part of the same clay and spirit?...
in 1815 goethe wrote Gingko Biloba:
This leaf from a tree in the East,
Has been given to my garden.
It reveals a certain secret,
Which pleases me and thoughtful people.
Does it represent One living creature
Which has divided itself?
Or are these Two, which have decided,
That they should be as One?
To reply to such a Question,
I found the right answer:
Do you notice in my songs and verses
That I am One and Two?
there are many layers to individuals...some we peel crying (like an
onion) other we shed with growth
"...and my five pillars are uhmmm not really derelict, but not uhmmm very well maintained either, I have an aversion to empty rituals and I would rather do my own thing in my own time from my heart, call me in transition of sorts or rather on a journey, I mean I know what I am, it's just that I currently have a few issues and once they are sorted, I will know more."
will you? is it ever possible? recall what was inscribed in golden letters at the entrance to apollos' temple at delphi?...gnothi seuoton...two words for a life long pursuit in vain mostly...in an individual sense 'go forth and delude' applies more to the homo sapiens we see around
yes, happy ramadaan to you too
ps: am thinking of putting this on my blog with your permission...and if there is something that needs be removed...you can advise about it too
(and her reply)
september 28, 2006
laughs, when you get to know me better you will know that I tend to joke quite a bit and that I never follow orders, not even when I should, grins, hence the lack of maintenance on my pillars, grins, just ask beady, he will most probably moan to you about all his grey hair being due to me and my being contrary!
But hey, I was serious about burning those books, I have about 3 - 4 thousand books to my name, nicely arranged on shelves in alphabetical order and subdivided into different genres, sad isnt it? I have never thrown a book away and I treat them like they were my kids, but some of the stuff I am forced to read now just makes me feel sick (rather than saying dumb!). Those ahem "revered" fuqaha-ists must have had too much time on their hands, writing 80 pages to arrive at an obvious conclusion after going, right, left, right again, left again, right again etc etc just makes one wonder about the big issues. No wonder we are sort of stuck in medieval times and kind of fail to see the big issues let alone address them.
I was collecting fatwas for a few months, just to see what the muslims think most about these days and ask about and I couldnt help shake my head, it seems the entire ummah is very concerned about women plucking their eyebrows and whether or not football is halal or keeping statues at home, leave aside issues such as violence and destroying useful assets thereby harming the common maslaha (consideration pf public interest) or even istihsan (equity).
I dont agree with you saying you're not a good muslim, I think that striving to become a better insaan is as good as it gets, because in my point of view that's what jihad is all about, and also what islam is all about, the concept of social justice which permeates most of the rulings and is the foundation for most of the do's and dont's, never mind the literalists, they dont see the wood from the trees.
And you are right, Allah is for everyone, for muslims as much as for the christians and the jews and even the non-believers, he is one, one for all, even for those who refuse him, and I dont think he would want to be shoved down someone's throat in any way.
Glory for me is not all those achievements that can be measured in material terms, not the kilometers of lands conquered and not the endless miles covered in geographical mappings, nor tons of books produced and foundations laid for science, medicine or algebra even, or equipments such as this weird astrolab or whatever it is called for navigating the seas, all that was great and indeed the golden age of islam as it is still called in history books and cried about by most muslims instead of thinking about how to have an aluminum age again at least, but for me glory means something else, more along the lines of the abstract terms, little things that go a much longer way, like al farooq Umar for example, refusing to practice hudood when there was a famine and insisting his hand be cut if any because he failed to feed his people and made them needy to steal, like Ali threatening to flog one of the sahaba for slandering another one of them and accusing him of drinking in his own house in secret and thereby upholding the right of privacy and hanging on to one's reputation, like abu bakr spending his fortune buying slaves to free them, or again Umar ruling that Amr Ibn al Aas should be punished for letting his son hit a copt in Egypt thereby going against the rules of protecting a minority (ahl al dhimma) or even Saladin sending his own physician to tend to his enemy. this for me is glory, justice, freedom, equality, equity, contentment and security, compassion, ihsan and even democracy, as far as I am concerned, and most of all thinking and applying one's mind and heart too, achieving understanding and compassion at the same time, living the words of the book not just reading them, and setting examples through "quranic/islamic" behaviour, if I may call it that, where does one find this now in the Muslim world? corruption where you look, discrimination where you go and apathy and real jahl, worse than jahilija itself.
You are right that we were shown a path, but then at some point we have started going in circles and cant seem to get off and out of it in any direction at all, not forward and not even backward. I am trying to write something which hit me in my last fiqh class when the prof was discussing the stages of muslim thought regarding fiqh and the methodology adopted. chuckles, I think that will make a lot of people feel like strangling me.
I think there are individual steps towards some ijtihad, the problem is that those voices are not really heard and that even when they are heard they are fought and drowned, it's some other voices that need to be drowned out, not by silencing them but rather by exposing their hidden agendas and deceptions. I wonder what's with these women, Ayan Hirsi Ali, Wafaa Sultan, Irshad Manji, Asra Nomani etc etc, what on earth possesses them to claim knowledge and leadership when it's built on nothing much. I guess the appeal to be saying what others want to hear in exchange for their 5 - 15 minutes of fame, but then I am not God and I wouldnt be presumptuous to say I know their niyyat and intention. Perhaps it is for a good cause, fighting injustice too, but then one doesnt fight it with another injustice, of slandering a religion for the mistakes of some misguided followers or mixing up traditions with religion, that has to be wrong. On the other hand one cant really fight for something one knows so little about, laughs, which is the reason of my temporary insanity and decision of starting a master's in my age. But I am also sick and tired of the apologetic tone Muslims have started to use when talking/writing about their religion. It shouldnt need any defence, it didnt do anything wrong. It has never changed. The idiotic followers have, and those need to be doing their own apologising!
I would love a collective ijtihad arriving at some sort of ijma to become better or a collective better ummah, but I am realistic enough to know how impossible a dream that is, first we have to accept one another and our own differences within, shia, sunni, ahmadi, shafie, hanbali, malkis, zaydani, ismaili, hanafi, agha khani, qaydani, bahai, wahabi, etc etc etc, and accept the others too, and then perhaps we can start thinking and working collectively, till then we will always be our own worst enemies. Before thinking about a dialogue with other faiths we should be thinking about a dialogue within, look at all this sectarian violence killing hundreds and thousands all over the place, is that a sign for possible collective thinking? sighs
I am very flattered you took to the time to read my pieces and I would be honoured if you find them worthy to link to.
Yes, that's the Goethe poem. It has become my favourite when I was 17 and going through a crisis of identity, not knowing what I was or where I belonged, more with my oriental father and his culture or my european mother and hers, and it gave me the answer, I am all of that and more and whatever I chose to be and become.
Maybe you are right and I will never know if I have reached the end of my journey or not, but I am having fun while I am on my way and even if I only end up knowing that I still dont know enough or even next to nothing (thanks to socrates) I will still have enjoyed the getting there and all what I collected on the way.
Some people say that all religions are delusions, but I think they also are a great comfort, when one can have a supreme being who controls everything then one can always unload the blame for anything in his/her lap, the praise one seldom remembers to send elsewhere.
And by all means, feel free to put anything anywhere, I think I am confident enough to stand by what I say, so there is nothing that needs to be removed or hidden away ... my parents taught me that if there is something I would be ashamed to show in public then I shouldnt be doing or saying it in the first place.
I have a tendency to ramble and to talk too much, so forgive me
bspnd to you too (I like that :) so I will use it with your ijazat ;))