Equity vs Equality in Islam

Assalamualaikoum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatuh,

[NOTE: I haven’t been as active as I would like to be due to other commitments. Insha’Allah everyone is well ๐Ÿ™‚ I would usually update many blog posts simultaneously when I’m free but publish them at later dates, so I do apologize if it seems like I’m active in the blogsphere but did not reply to your comments :)]

Has anyone heard of this – equity vs equality – in Islam? I’m sure most of us would have heard the misconception that Islam is a ‘gender-biased’ religion which favours the males over the female counterparts. But, we hardly hear about why Islam is for equity and not always equality. That’s not to say that Islam isn’t a fair religion – it is in fact very fair with regards to its treatment to both genders but our perceptions has been shaped by the media so much so that ‘equality always means fairness’.

You may ask, what is the difference between equity and equality? To answer the question, I would give an example of two person: a 30 year old man and a 3 year old child. Equality would mean giving both of them equal amount of food but in our minds, we would think that it would be too much for the child to consume that amount of food. Equity on the other hand, means giving both of them according to their needs depending on their ages.

During class yesterday, my professor- masha’Allah a very wise man – shared with us an interesting case which depicts this equity vs equality in Islam. I was trying to find the case but it seems that either it’s not available in English (the case was in Arabic) or that it had happened more than half a century ago thus perhaps you can only find them in books but not online. Allahu Alam. Insha’Allah, I’ll narrate it the best that I can.

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The incident took place at an American hospital in the 1950s. Two babies were born at the same time – a boy and a girl – and both of them were taken together by the nurse to be weighed. When she returned the babies to the mothers, both claimed that their child was a boy. This immediately became a problem because in those days, DNA testing was not yet available so doctors needed to find another way to solve this dilemma. They tried to compare the blood types of the babies with the mothers but they had similar blood types. Since science had failed them, they turned to the Church for help. The priest said that it was beyond his ability to solve something like this and he was not able to help them too. An Egyptian doctor who heard about the case told the American doctors that he might know of someone who is able to solve this conundrum but he is in Egypt. This person the doctor was referring to is a well known Sheikh of his time.

Both American doctors travelled to Egypt to meet this Sheikh and using a translator, they described to him the situation and asked him for advice. The Sheikh replied saying that yes, the solution is in the Qur’an and he then quoted from the Suraah which mentions about the law of inheritance .

“Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females.” [4:11]

The American doctors were confused with the Sheikh’s reply and told him that they were not asking about the Islamic law of inheritance. The Sheikh then told them that this too can be applied to the babies. His advice was to measure the concentration of breast milk of both mothers. If the mother had given birth to a boy, the concentration in her milk would be twice of the mother who had given birth to a girl.

Both doctors became Muslims afterwards because to them, it was puzzling that how Prophet sallallahu alayhi salam would be able to have such knowledge when he was only a dessert Arab and unlettered. The knowledge would have to come from God.

(I need to re-check the name of the Sheikh thus explains why I didn’t mention his name. According to my professor, whenever he passes through Egpyt, he would stop at the masjid to listen to his lectures. The whole masjid would be filled up with people before noon subhan’Allah. The Sheikh has already passed away – may Allah have mercy on him)

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Subhan’Allah! Allahu Akbar! I couldn’t help but teared up in class yesterday. There is so much wisdom in the Qur’an that have yet to unravel but still, there are ignorant people who would just pick an ayaat and then make an assumption about Islam without studying it in depth. And even more unfortunate is when you have Muslims questioning on the ‘fairness’ of Islam.

My Professor mentioned that a few years ago, a French Islamic scholar by the name of Garodi (not sure if I spelt his name correctly), came to my university to give a lecture. He quoted this ayaat about the law of inheritance and said that he would turn the laws around (instead of females receiving one share, he proposed that they receive two) in cases whereby she has many children under her care. The scholar said that it is only fair she receives more because of the burden of raising children compared to a man. During the Q&A, someone asked him whether by doing so, he was changing the laws of Allah.

My Prof did not mention what his reply was, but said that the laws of Allah is based on justice and equity although in the ‘dunya terms’, we deem it as unfair. We need to place our trust in Allah that whatever laws that was commanded was for our own good – and that He knows what is best for us. We tend to come across a lot of issues that have sprung up over the last decade, i.e. the difference in covering for men and women, Muslim man allowed to have 4 wives etc. but we should not beย embarrassedย when it comes to explaining to others about these issues. The Qur’an came as a guide book to mankind thus, it is without a doubt that its instructions are for us to live and function well in this Dunya. Without proper guidance, our lives become meaningless ย and without direction.

It is ย always a boost to my eemaan whenever I hear stories like this. I think there are so many things we can reflect on the Greatness of Allah and we can simply do so by observing our surroundings. It is only those who think are able to appreciate this. As mentioned several times in Suraah Ar-Rahman, “So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?”

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The power of Dua

Assalamualaikoum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatuh,

A friend asked me this question couple of days ago: How did you convince your mom to allow you to wear niqaab?

I replied her saying that it’s a good question because I don’t know. I didn’t sit my parents down and explained to them why I want to wear niqaab or gave them the daleels from Qur’an and Sunnah. I have done neither of that but there’s one thing I realized which proved effective al-Hamdulillah and that is: lots of patience and dua.

When I had the intention to wear niqaab, I was thinking to myself that it’ll only be possible after I got married because at that time, my parents were against wearing big hijaab and abaya. Each time before leaving my room, I would actually make dua that my parents would not tell me ‘go back to my room to change out of my old woman’s clothes’. And if I wasn’t verbally poked fun at by my family for dressing that way, my relatives would do a good job at that. Everyday felt like a battle just to properly cover my aurah.

Subhan’Allah over a period of five years, there was a transition from my former tight clothes to much looser ones along with bigger hijaab. Al-Hamdulillah, it was all by His will. I was starting to wear baggy pants with longer tops, followed by skirts and then dresses and finally abaya. My mom changed her wardrobe as well. One day she told me that she wanted to get rid of clothes that revealed her figure because she didn’t feel comfortable in them and it was replaced by bigger and longer tops as well.

The last bit I want to share is about something which took me by surprise. A couple of months ago, my mom came over to visit me for a few days. We were walking back to my dormitory and the there were a few sisters walking ahead of us. I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before but I’m currently studying at an Islamic university thus the types of clothing we usually see is sisters with baggy abaya and khimar.ย I was telling my mom that the colour of the sister’s khimar is beautiful but left the part where ‘the khimar is beautiful too‘ out of the conversation because I know how she feels about it.

But then she said it. “The khimar is beautiful too. Do you want me to get it for you tomorrow?”. I was squealing in delight inside, completely taken aback by those words and thinking did my mom actually say that? I controlled my excitement and tried to reply calmly like it was no biggie, “Yeah sure, but just one will do”. The next day when she went out, she bought three different coloured khimars and told me, “Make sure you wear it to class”.

My intention for sharing these is not about my ‘journey to wearing niqaab’ or anything of that sort. The point I actually want to make is that dua changes the impossible to possible if Allah wills it. Several times when we make dua, myself included, we might not have that 100% trust in Allah SWT that it’ll change any of our situations. To those who do not believe, the thought of raising our hands and asking from a Higher being for help may sound incredulous but we Muslims, sometimes fall into that category too. We think, “how is it possible to get out of this problem. No one can help me and you want me to make dua?”; “How can I do this when there is no one supporting me?”.

The truth is, we lack trust in Allah SWT. We know He is there to help when we are in need, but we may think that it is only through our efforts and hard work will things get done. We only give credit to ourselves when we manage to achieve something or solve a problem. But it is only when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, then He comes to the picture as a last resort for help.

If you ask me five years ago, whether there will come a day where my parents will let me wear niqaab, I will tell you that that’s not possible. But I look back now and thought that I must have forgotten that Allah SWT is the controller of our hearts and situations. We think that we have everything within our grasp but the One with ultimate control over everything is Him. I don’t believe I put 100% trust in Him when I made dua seeing how my situation seemed bleak at that time but I knew I had no one to turn to for help except Him.

Whatever situation any of you are in right now, and you feel like there is no way out and no one to listen to you, make dua and be patient of a better outcome. Pray two rakaah for relief if something is distressing you and open the Qur’an when you are in need for answers. Our dependence and reliance is on Him to provide ease for our hardship, not on people and especially not thinking that only we can help ourselves.

Allahu Alam.

Jumaah #20

Assalam alaikoum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatuh,

(I just remembered that I’ve not had Jumaah reminders for ages!)

This Ramadan, let’s train ourselves insha’Allah that when we hear Al-Laghw, we immediately disassociate ourselves from it. Our time in the blessed month is too short to waste with idle talk. A reminder for myself and all of you bi’ithnillah.

One of the best advices given to me

Assalamualaikoum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatuh,

Each time I’m faced with any difficulties, I’m reminded of an advice a sister gave me last year when stress level was at the peak for me. I was on the verge of breaking down when some things were not going as planned and everything was just piling on me and I had no one to share the workload with. She said something along this line (according to what I can recall),

“When you are doing something for the sake of Allah, He will test you to see if you are sincere. ย And if you are truly doing it for His sake, you can deal with anything that comes your way no matter how bitter it is. If not, you will ย give up”

I stopped for awhile to ponder on her words and realized how important it is to always renew our intentions. Sometimes, we start a good deed with the right intentions but somehow along the way, our intentions change. Humans crave for other human’s attention and acceptance – and that is something we cannot deny. It is indeed a trial that I’m sure everyone faces.

Last year, I agreed to take on a charity project to raise funds for Horn of Africa when they faced a serious drought. The committee consisted of only three sisters – a sister who was working full-time as a nurse, a full-time mom with 5 kids (and some of her children had sickness which she had to constantly tend to) and there was me; inexperienced in organizing events and had no idea where to begin. All in all, it was not a good start since we were short of manpower, experience and no one else wanted to be a part of the committee because of other commitments they had.

Al-Hamdulillah we had a lot of help and support from other sisters too but the committee mainly held on the reins on where and how the event is headed towards. I remember there was so much work to be done that at my breaking point, I’m all of a sudden reminded of my intentions. ย That afternoon, I was alone in the office with the sister, complaining about how ‘nothing is done’ and ‘not sure if we can pull this off’ and she listened to me rant before giving me that advice.

Deep in my heart, I asked myself – it’s true. What really is my intention? Am I doing it entirely for His sake? After self-reflection, I recalled of how I was being praised by sisters for taking on this project. Masha’Allah, you’re doing such a good job. I’m so impressed by you. We need you in this community. I would modestly reply No, it’s all for His sake.

I dug deeper inside my heart. So if it is for Allah’s sake, why complain? Why give everything up now?

Truthfully, I believe I was slightly pleased with the praises and attention from others. I mean, who doesn’t like being looked up to especially since you were nobody before?

After that day, I started ย to be more aware of my intentions. A person reminded me that sometimes, the success of such events also depended on how sincere you are. It could become a complete failure where everything goes wrong during the event and people leave unhappy. You work hard for Allah’s sake, and then leave the rest to Him to make it successful.

Subhan’Allah, the charity night – the night that we were preparing for months before; the night that I feared we were not able to execute the tasks well – was a success al-Hamdulillah!

Honestly,we were worried that we would not have enough help but we had so many volunteers that I had to tell some of them to sit and enjoy the event. We were quite concerned of not having any sort of entertainment but last minute, we had local Sheikhs agreeing to do some programmes. We were also afraid about not meeting the target of $10,00o (to at least cover expenses) but it actually doubled by the end of the night! Subhan’Allah.. there was a similar charity event a couple of months before and as much as they did a far better job than we did (in terms of venue, programmes, entertainment, attendance, special guests etc), we actually raised more money than them (after minus expenses).

See how Allah SWT made it possible for us although at the beginning, everything seemed impossible? The odds were not on our side in so many situations but somehow, by His grace, we were able to execute the tasks.

I write this not only as a reminder to you, but to this own forgetful self. It may seem an exaggeration to say that having the correct intentions is the most important before doing anything. In fact, it is a pillar before one does anything or claim to perform a good deed for His sake. It’s like saying a person wanting to build a big building but its foundations are made for a small house! Surely, it will crumble! Thus, our intention is the basis of every action. Any intention is not to seek His pleasure alone, then it will bear no fruits in this world and Hereafter.

Umar bin Al-Khattab was on the minbar and said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, saying: โ€œIndeed, deeds are only (rewarded) with intentions. Indeed, every person will get rewarded only for what they intended. Therefore, whoever emigrated (to Medina) for worldly reasons or for a woman, then his emigration is for what he has emigrated to.โ€

[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 1]

ุนูู…ูŽุฑูŽ ุจู’ู†ูŽ ุงู„ู’ุฎูŽุทูŽู‘ุงุจู ู€ ุฑุถู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ ู€ ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุงู„ู’ู…ูู†ู’ุจูŽุฑู ู‚ูŽุงู„ูŽ ุณูŽู…ูุนู’ุชู ุฑูŽุณููˆู„ูŽ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุตู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุณู„ู… ูŠูŽู‚ููˆู„ูย โ€โ€โ€ ุฅูู†ูŽู‘ู…ูŽุง ุงู„ุฃูŽุนู’ู…ูŽุงู„ู ุจูุงู„ู†ูู‘ูŠูŽู‘ุงุชูุŒ ูˆูŽุฅูู†ูŽู‘ู…ูŽุง ู„ููƒูู„ูู‘ ุงู…ู’ุฑูุฆู ู…ูŽุง ู†ูŽูˆูŽู‰ุŒ ููŽู…ูŽู†ู’ ูƒูŽุงู†ูŽุชู’ ู‡ูุฌู’ุฑูŽุชูู‡ู ุฅูู„ูŽู‰ ุฏูู†ู’ูŠูŽุง ูŠูุตููŠุจูู‡ูŽุง ุฃูŽูˆู’ ุฅูู„ูŽู‰ ุงู…ู’ุฑูŽุฃูŽุฉู ูŠูŽู†ู’ูƒูุญูู‡ูŽุง ููŽู‡ูุฌู’ุฑูŽุชูู‡ู ุฅูู„ูŽู‰ ู…ูŽุง ู‡ูŽุงุฌูŽุฑูŽ ุฅูู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ู โ€โ€โ€โ€

Allah knows best.

Causes that lead to a hardened heart #6 [LAST]

Assalam alaikoum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatuh,

[Transcribed fromย “A commentary on Ibn Taymiyyah’s Essy on the Heart”ย translated by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips]

6. Repeated sins over time

57:16

“Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.‘ [57:16]

Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alayhi Salam warned against scorning any sins saying: “Beware of scorned sins. When a person develops the habit of ignoring minor sins, his heart becomes progressively hardened to sin in general and major sins then become easy for him to commit. By being conscious of the smallest of sins and scrupiously avoiding them, the believer becomes firmly protected fro major sins.

On the other hand, if one does not make a conscious effort to revive one’s faith and reflect on one’s actions, even pure and sincere acts of worship can deteriorate into blind rituals over time. As is said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The mind shifts into automatic mode and the body performs according to commands, while the heart dies.

Fastabiqul Khairat <3

Assalam alaikoum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatuh,

[update] I pray that all of you are in the best of health and eemaan insha’Allah. I haven’t been blogging much lately because subhan’Allah, work seems to be piling up :/ Al-Hamdulillah ala kulli hal! I wanted to apologize too if I take a loooong time to approve and reply to the comments. And also some of the posts have been written weeks ago so I don’t keep track when they are up..

If anyone is wondering why I use this phrase ‘fastabiqul khairat’ [or ‘race to all that is good’] as my blog title, it’s actually a reminder for me from time to time that I should increase in good deeds. Subhan’Allah, I’m impressed when I browse through blogs I find that sisters and brothers out there are doing so much for Islam and yet I’m still lacking farrr behind. There are posts on raising awareness about Islam, clearing misconceptions, reminders … a whole list of them! I would like to tell all of you to keep it up insha’Allah!

Apart from online reminders, we should also find a company of friends who are constantly encouraging us to become better Muslims. If you have friends who are always racing you to do good deeds, you’ll find yourself joining in the race with them! The people we spend most of time with affect our eemaan whether we like it or not so we need to watch who we are friends with. I’m sure some of you can vouch for this..

Subhan’Allah, I unexpectedly became close friends with this sister who is masha’Allah such an eemaan booster to me. She’s in one of my classes and although we sit together sometimes, we rarely speak to each other much except after class but we are always rushing home since it’s already late. Recently, I invited her to have lunch with me .. it was one of those days whereby I was feeling a bit impulsive so when she crossed my mind the night before, I sent her a text message about lunch. Al-Hamdulillah I felt like my eemaan skyrocketed up the roof from that few hours spent with her lol.

I learnt that she prays all her salaah at masjid despite staying quite a distance from masjid. It is of course preferable that a woman prays at home, but at the same time Prophet sallallahu alayhi salam did not forbid the women from going to the masjid because of the rewards one can attain from congregationalย prayers. ย Not everyone is able to do that! She does volunteer work atย a few Muslim-based NGOs here and she goes for Islamic classes despite the workload! And there are a whole list of other things which I found out too after doing some ‘digging up’ from her lol.

Bottomline is that: I’m strangely jealous of her good deeds and now I’m finding ways to ‘overtake’ her lol. My dormitory is the closest to the masjid and yet I find it difficult to perform all of my salaah there. But subhan’Allah, just knowing that the sister will be at the masjid has become sort of a motivation for me. She has listened to me whine about school work and her advice has always been reminders taken from Qur’an and Sunnah. There is a saying of Prophet sallallahu alayhi salam (which I plucked from the book called “In the Early Hours”):

The best friend is one who makes you remember Allah when you see him

Also,

Whoever Allah wishes good for, He will grant him a righteous friend who will remind him if he forgets and aids him if he remembers

The writer also mentioned something beautiful:

And the Qur’an says: “Bind yourself upon those who call upon Allah morning and evening” [Al-Kahf: 18: 27-28]. As soon as you see the seed of iman planted in your heart and you recognise it in someone else’s and you find that he agrees with you, ย you will feel ten times stronger. Social scientist have also discovered that group life is one of the most powerful forces to stimulate and improve human being

ย Ya Rabb, I am truly blessed for all the righteous sisters I’ve met for the past few months ever since I came here al-Hamdulillah. There had been some really amazing sisters, apart from the sister mentioned above, who are equally as inspiring. I’m excited to meet more of them insha’Allah.

May all of us be blessed with the best companions who will be of benefit to us in this Dunya and Aakhirah!