“Sister, I Got a Nice Tent For You Masha’Allah”

A brother I was talking to yesterday reminded of a situation that I had forgot about. I think I have mentioned before that once upon a time in Northern Virginia there was a 2 bedroom apartment that at any time would house between 10 and 15 Muslim brothers (mostly American brothers and always a heavy representation from Philly). The apartment even had a name, Dar us Sunnah, and it was used to mostly house students studying at the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America in Fairfax, VA when it was open and I even briefly stayed there.It was housed in a generic suburban apartment complex in Fairfax near to the hospital. One bedroom in the apartment was for the brother who actually had the lease in his name, the other bedroom was for a few brothers who were paying a little more per month who would all sleep on the floor, and the other brothers were all lined up sleeping on the floor in the living room.

The rent for each brother would be like 130 a month and even at that rate a lot of brothers would get evicted and leave without paying the rent. There was no TV or internet in the place and only a stereo to listen to lectures or Quran along with a lot of books. The only activity brothers really engaged in was reading and arguing about the opinions of the scholars and who was and wasn’t a deviant and upon biddah.

The place was usually pretty clean and it smelled of fragrances oils and the incenses that constantly burned and outside of the occasional turmoil created by theological disputes things seemed to be pretty calm. It was one thing that the brother reminded me of that made me think though and that was the fact that for a one or two month period a sister lived in the place with her husband.

In order to accommodate the sister a makeshift tent was set up about 4 or 5 long and tied to the wall and she stayed in this little corner behind the tent all day unless she had to use the restroom. Since she was not from the area she rarely went out and was confined to living in a space a little smaller than a jail cell. The brother who was telling me the story said “she is probably not even Muslim anymore.”

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Some Important Fiqh Questions

 

With all the problems the Muslim Ummah is facing, MR posted a fatwa on the permissibility of eating mermaids that all of us can use and shows just why these movements really are not dying out at all and shows that they talk about all the relevant issues

Here are some other questions of imminent importance to us (some questions taken from others):

- When the Mermaid takes human form, is it still permissible to eat her?

- Is it permissible to eat a Merman?

- After transforming into a werewolf, does one have to make ghusl after transforming back into human form? What about the Incredible Hulk?

- Is Godzilla’s feces najas?

- Is it permissible to wear a dragon skinned belt?

- Is the Salaat behind Optimus Prime valid? 

- Can we wipe over Superman Boots?

- If an intergalactic dictator conquers the earth, is he bay’ah due to him?

- Is it permissible to have sex with an Elf if it is your Right hand possession

- Is it permissible for Vulcans to have plastic surgery on their ears?

Meanwhile, there seems to be “no benefit” in helping in the community as it has been declared to be “nationalism”

Hajj Masturbation and a Call For Those Who Support KSA Ruling to Stand Up

I know that people will say that this topic may be off color and inappropriate; but I was made aware of this topic over lunch and I honestly had trouble finishing my meal I was so disturbed.A brother mentioned to me that while he was making hajj a few years back he witnessed men rubbing up against women and masturbating. The men were caught doing this and were escorted out by Saudi police and beaten for this act. When I asked this brother, who is held in very high-esteem in the local Muslim community, if this was common and why someone would masturbate at hajj, he told me that a sheikh who will be speaking at the Texas Dawah Convention has publicly spoken on the matter and it is soemthing that does happen.

It is beyond my imagination, unfathomable, how a man can even think of sexual arousal while in the most blessed place on earth in order to fulfill a commandment that Allah has been made obligatory upon the Muslims.

When I posed this question to the brother he responded that these men, like those I spoke of earlier, are so sexually repressed that the mere touch of a woman can send them into a state of ecstasy. Therefore, you have some men (though I assume not many) who go to hajj just to rub up against women. I have to ask this question; if these men were not living in such a sexually repressed atmosphere where they were totally separated from women would they behave like this? Is it not the sign of a sick society where there is this kind of sexual perversion in public? Not that dissimilar form the sexual perversion you see in the S&M dungeons of America and displayed on television?

Now, you may say these are isolated incidents, and I am sure that they are, but there are other examples of bizarre behavior stemming from sexual frustration in Muslim countries. Another example, and something I have spoken of before, is that of men in Syria breaking into the maternity ward of hospitals to watch women give birth or to see their bodies before and after the process. As someone who has attended a child birth I can tell you it is about as sexually stimulating as having diarrhea while camping in the woods on a hot day; but for grown men, with natural desires, who are denied the fulfillment of those desires and even the voice and presence of a woman seeing a woman even in this condition can lead to arousal.  Like I said before, what made me even more astonished at this situation was the fact that my friend, a Syrian doctor and a very nice brother, seemed very surprised that I could not see the logic of why men were doing this.

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“Ugly Black Women”, Perfect Arab Wives, and Matters of Race

Sister Umm Adam over in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the same kingdom where you can get 200 lashes for talking to the media about being gang-raped and blamed for the crime, has an interesting piece on her experience with Saudi and other non-black women in Saudi Arabia who openly and matter-of-factly told her she was “black and ugly” and basically “how could a white man marry you”.

Despite what some Muslims may tell you, or to those who say I try and insert American notions of race in the Muslim World where they do not belong, race is very real in the Muslim World and particularly in the Arab World where black skin is seen as a sign of inferiority and this is something that predates colonialism.

Tawoos, a student of Abdullah Ibn Abbas (R.A.) and a Tabieen, believed to father children with black women was haram because it was “changing the creation”. Ibn Kaldun and Ibn Batutta, two men a lot of more liberal-minded Muslims like to quote, writings were full of statements demeaning to blacks.

I encourage all to read the the post by Umm Adam and to then check out the sister over at Southern Muslimah who has a heart-felt post about the number of heart-broken white women she knows who have suffered trying to be the “perfect Arab wife” and both posts speak to the fact that no matter how much you try to sweep these issues under the rug they are as real in Mecca as they are in Montgomery, AL.

Greeting Muslim Women

Growing up in America it is customary when you enter a home to greet all that are present male or female. The type of  greeting differs depending on the region, culture and class of the individuals involved. As an example, when I was growing up a simple hello and a nod of the head or handshake would suffice; but if you move in the Globo circles or some others of either the wealthy or those looking towards Europe, it is customary for people to give one another’s kisses on the cheeks regardless of gender.The etiquette of Muslims is much different as it is discouraged for us to have physical contact with those of the opposite sex we are not married to or are not related to by blood. As Muslim men we are encouraged to be modest in our dealings with women; but this is nothing unique to Islam. Traditional American men, like those I grew-up with, did not go around hugging other people’s wives and girlfriends and definitely did not give them those French pecks on the cheek. You will also find that these types of greetings are not practiced by many devout Christians in American churches or by more observant Jews. It is when you go into the areas of the secularized elite or the classless you will find these types of kissing and overt hugging between the sexes ( but with today’s young people whose minds were formed by the thought-police at MTV and there teachers who graduated form Woodstock this may be common among all groups).

As a Muslim man I always try to show respect to a brothers family when I enter his home; but one of the problems is I do not always know how to do this. There is a good friend of mine who is a white American convert to Islam and is married to a non-Muslim woman who is an attorney. When I first met him I had not visited the home of a non-Muslim not in my family socially in years and I did not know how to act. Because I was in the habit of ignoring women and not speaking to them in the home of Muslim friends of mine, because that is what they expected, I did not speak to his wife. I forgot about this brief encounter, but the brother’s wife was mad at me for years because she felt I had disrespected her. In a similar situation my ex-wife was livid when two Muslim brothers came into my house to watch a sporting event and did not even recognize her when they entered the home. I tried to explain it to her and clean it up but she never got over that and it gave her a bad impression of the opinions of a lot of Muslim men who she felt did not respect men.

I had come from a place in the Muslim community where you not only did not speak to other Muslims wives or look at them, but the majority of the time you did not even know their name, but as I moved into other circles within the Muslim community I discovered that there is a wide range of practice and opinion on male-female greetings.

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Email From a Detractor in the City of Brotherly Love and Muslim Madness

We saw that silliness you wrote about salafeeyah and we’ll address it

Please, I am waiting brother, but remember my attack is against some who claim salafeeyah like they claim their allegiance to a street gang, the Thugafi Dawah,  you know, the kind of dawah that leads brothers to jump off bridges when running from the police and hold up Wal-Marts and take out armored-truck drivers?  I guess those brothers are  on “the Haqq”  and their minhaj is right; but God forbid they had a CD of Imam Zaid Shakir in their car or a voter registration card on the way to do their dirt and they would be off it, right?

…..So you left salafeeyah(ali tamimi isnt salafeeyah they’re on takfeer) to be with a bunch of beard shaving sooofeees?

When and where did Sheikh Ali make takfir and upon whom? This is one of the problems with brothers of your ilk they are so concerned with labeling other people and putting them on it or off it they do not even bother to check the facts. Is your heart that hard that you do not feel any compassion for a fellow Muslim that has been unjustly incarcerated for the rest of his life? Is your gang affiliation that serious brother? Is there no mercy and brotherhood in your Islam? Or have you put being down with your gang as the most important article of faith?

 I see you have the haram music rappers everything  that secularist understanding of islam let’s you do. subhannnalaah…..Not to mention the nationalism they push that must be strange for you sitting amongst that.

I did not see any nationalism on display at MANA. I saw recognition of a reality that many brothers ignore that different cultures need to have different ways of solving their problems. You cannot import a way if thinking from the Najd into America and think it will succeed. Solutions have to be home grown but inspired by the Quran and Sunnah. This is in contrast to the attitudes of many African-American salafis I have met over the years who told me they were “no longer African-American” or even they were no longer black. Once such brother I know from the DC area, a hardcore Salafi till this day, went to Medinah with that understanding, and tried to correct one of his Saudi brothers. The Saudi looked at this dark-skinned black man told him to come here and the brother came up to him smiling and was promptly b####-slapped by a 140 pound Saudi who couldn’t beat up my sister. This brother, a former prisoner in the DC Prison and street thug, walked off without saying anything. Would he have let this happen in America? By a fellow African-American? By a white man? No, that would have never happed, but the Salafi dawah, and the way this guy digested it, led him to feel like a subservient b#### to an Arab. Now, do not get me wrong, I am not saying this was the dawah Ibn Baz, al-Albaani or Ibn al-Uthaymeen ( may Allah have mercy upon them), but I am saying that is a way a lot of brothers digested it.

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Debate With bin Gregory on White Muslim Identity in America

I want to respond to a post disagreeing with my views on the roles of white Muslims in America by a white Muslim brother by the name of bin Gregory over at his blog. My response to him is not out of a spirit of hostility our animosity towards him; but rather in a spirit of trying to clear up any confusion with regards to my arguments.Below is the post of bin Gregory and my new commentary is in dark type and his words are in italic.

bin Gregory: Umar Lee, whose website is frequently enraging but always engaging, is presenting a series of ideas about what it means to be white and muslim, and they are at such odds with each other I don’t know how they stay on the same page.

First of all,

( quoting from Umar) One thing you cannot be and be white in my mind is Muslim.which he believes to be true across the board.

Second, about himself,

(quoting from Umar again) African-American brothers … are the Muslims I have always been the closest to and have been able to identity with the most.

Third, on his favorite punching bag, other white muslims,

( quoting Umar) I despise the patronizing and phoniness of guilty white liberals, but the Muslim community is full of them. These Muslims take shahadah and immediately begin a full imitation of some group, Arabs, Pakistanis, African-Americans, etc, and are subservient and un-critical of these cultures while being fiercely critical of any white culture…. I think that some of these Muslims, but not all, embrace Islam to stop being white…

Several commenters on his site have picked up on the inherent contradictions in these three opinions, the biggest one being, what exactly is the difference between Umar Lee gravitating to the black community, and other brothers gravitating to the Arab or the Pakistani or the black community? I’d sincerely like Umar to answer that, since he is so vicious in his anger at these other brothers. From where I’m standing, there’s no difference at all, except perhaps that Umar had some prior connection to the black community before becoming Muslim

Thank you for this question because this is equivalent to one of those ripe fast balls right down the middle of the plate thrown to Mark McGuire during his great home run chase with Sammy Sosa in 1998. I think gravitating was the wrong word for me to use. Before and after I took shahdah I lived in areas and went to schools and existed in a family that were heavily African-American. I did not see my kinship with the African-American Muslim brothers as a cultural breakthrough or something any different than I would have been doing if I was not Muslim. It is hard for me to see how given the upbringing and living the life I have led that I could be expected to have the same outlook on things and identity as those who had  amore traditional white upbringing.  I saw these brothers as basically coming from the same experience and set of circumstances I had though obviously there are differences due to the fact that we had different skin colors and despite what you may hear from your professors or from the ivory-tower thinkers race matters jus as much in America as it every did and it colors every issue in this society. If I would have thought that I had to gravitate to something foreign, like Arab or Pakistani culture, I would not have taken shahadah, so for the most part, shariah issues aside, I did not change the essential nature of who I was after becoming Muslim. I stopped eating pork but didn’t stop eating the food I liked in order to eat like an Arab or Desi and I wore the clothes I had always worn for the most part without feeling the need to wear a kufee most times or a thobe.

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Reclaiming a Legacy

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik remarked to a friend and myself that a beautiful thing about MANA is that it brought together all of the historical factions of the African-American Muslim community; under one roof there were Mainline Sunni Muslims, Salafis (even if there numbers were few), Sufis, descendants of the Dar al Islam Movement (both those followers of Imam Jamil al-Amim and the Muslims of America), people who began their journey into Sunni Islam in the Islamic Party, and you also had the two major historical factions in African-American Islam represented;  Imam Warith-deen Muhammad, the son of Elijah Muhammad and successor to his leadership and catalyst of the largest mass conversion to Sunni Islam in the history of the West as stated by Dr. Sherman Jackson, and Minister Akbar Muhammad who is the International Representative for Minister Louis Farrakhan. That spirit of continuity was brought to the forefront in a session that featured lectures by Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam Warith-deen Muhammad, Imam Talib Abdul-Rasheed, and Ishan Bagby.

Imam Siraj Wahhaj is a pioneer of Islam in the African-American community, and the at-large Muslim community, and this has led some Muslims to give him the title of the “Amir of Dawah in the West”.  As Imam of Masjid at-Taqwa in Brooklyn, a masjid that started with a handful of people and now is a large and vibrant masjid, Imam Siraj has become an intentionally known figure in the Muslim community.

When I lived in New York, I would take the subway sometimes for a hour or two depending on where I was just to hear him speak at jumma and wherever I am I keep some of his lectures on CD for inspiration and encouragement. The journey that began in the late 1970′s for Imam Siraj has grown to the point today where he is considered as one of the most, if not the most influential leaders in the American Muslim community and an inspiration to many.

During my period in the Salafi movement Imam Siraj was often denigrated and talked bad about because he was perceived as someone who lacked knowledge and had not received formal Islamic training. However, I never fell for that negative way of thinking, because I knew then and know now that being a leader as a Muslim is about more than just the memorization of some knowledge and having the ability to regurgitate it, being a leader is also about leading by example and knowing what message is right for your people after feeling their needs and then calling them to the truth in their own language. By that measurement of leadership Imam Siraj was and is a leader in every sense of the word.

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“Morocco is Not the Solution” and Thoughts of Muslim Marriage Discussion

There is no issue in the Muslim community that is more serious and more of a problem to the short and long term success of the community than that of marriage. Family is the foundation of the Muslim community and a marriage is the foundation of the family and if our marriages are failing, and our divorce rates are soaring to a point that if a brother has been married less than 5 times he is considered pious, then we have a problem.I have chastised and been critical in the past of the failure of the Muslim community to address the problem of marriage in a serious way and be real. It angered me when I attended conferences where all they talked about was Palestine when our families and homes were in a state of crisis right here in America. The problem had been known to all but ignored on the organizational and national level, perhaps because it may have been seen as too hard to deal with, or perhaps because addressing it in a real way would mean airing dirty laundry and calling some of those pimps posing as imams that have been married more times than Dick Cheney has tried to hype the threat of Iran and Saddam.

Therefore, it was extremely gratifying to me and others I spoke with, to see the issue of marriage and all of the problems that come along with that in the Muslim community in America, being addressed in a very frank manner and the sisters brought it all out and the brothers responded in a cordial and constructive way.

One of the issues that was brought up most often in this discussion that was hosted by Sheikh Anwar Muhaimin and two sisters I did not get the names of was the issue of domestic violence (with many sisters adding in verbal and emotional abuse to that equation) and what is the appropriate response of the community to this issue and how do we develop a plan of action on this matter.

Sisters told of either being abused themselves, or of friends and relatives being abused, and the local imam or masjid doing nothing to help them and often taking the side of the brother. Others told the story of masajid playing a very active role in the defense of the sisters and having a set protocol, often physically intervening in such situations, and examining the pluses and minuses of this approach. In this regard it was one brother who I think made the best point when he said “we need to get rid of this street mentality once we are in the deen of not snitching and going to the police…if a sister is being abused she should call the police…if she calls the masjid and the brothers come over to handle the situation that brother may call the police on them and make the situation worse.”

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