Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Innocence Lost: Child Sexual Abuse

An innocent sleepover with family members. An older cousin, an uncle, or a brother and his friends. Darkness, and hands clapped over a mouth to silence the screams, while they push themselves roughly against an unwilling victim.
Or maybe:
An older teacher, paying too much attention. Beckoning a young student to sit on his lap, giving them a treat, whispering threats in one ear to make the student promise to never, ever tell… or else.
And sometimes even:
A friend, a girl with charisma and energy, giggling about ‘learning something new.’ Ignoring protests, insistently, unwelcome hands touching without permission.
These are all examples of sexual violence – a crime that exists in all countries and societies, regardless of race, culture, class, or religion.
In England, 85,000 women are raped on average every year; and 400, 000 women are sexually assaulted every year.  One in 20 children have been sexually abused, and over 90% of them were abused by someone they knew.
Muslims are far from immune to crimes of sexual violence. The statistics are equally horrifying, if not worse because the number of reports tend to be much lower due to social stigma and lack of trust and access to the authorities.
In Pakistan, nearly 3,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2013; 40% of abusers were relatives, family friends, or acquaintances; and the most vulnerable age to abuse for both boys and girls was between 11 and 15.
Despite these statistics – and numerous horrific anecdotes – sexual violence is an issue that Muslims all over the world still prefer to remain silent about. The stigma regarding sex, which may once have originated out of the Islamic concept of hayaa’(modesty), has become a disease in and of itself, one that simply perpetuates un-Islamic beliefs and allows these filthy crimes to continue taking place on a daily basis.
An upcoming documentary, “Breaking Silence,” bravely confronts the deep-rooted cancer of sexual violence and particularly sexual abuse of children that exists in many, many Muslim families and communities.
As illustrated by the stories of four Muslim women who were sexually violated as children by those whom they trusted – whether family members or friends – even parents who are aware of the abuse often turn a blind eye or accuse their children of lying rather than admit the truth.
One major reason for the twisted attitudes existing regarding sexual violence amongst Muslims is an ignorance and lack of education about what Islam truly teaches about sex, including the difference between consensual sexual activity and sexual violence (whether against adults or children).
Despite the fact that the Shari’ah discusses and encourages a holistic sexual education from a young age, many Muslims prefer to follow deviant notions of ‘honor’ and ‘shame.’ The true shame and dishonor lies not in admitting that sexual violence takes place, but in allowing them to continue rather than to educate oneself, one’s children, and the entire community about Islamic values regarding sex.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Companions were very honest and open about sexual education, even with regards to children.
'Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Aswad narrates:
"My father used to send me to A'ishah and (as a child) I used to go to her (i.e. beyond the curtain). When I became adult (i.e. reached puberty; became baaligh), I came to her and called to her from behind the curtain: "O Umm al-Mu'mineen, when does the bath become compulsory?" She said: "So, you have done it, O Luka'! And (in answer to the question), when the private parts conjoin."
(Al-Dhahabi in Siyar A'lam an-Nubala)
The first thing Muslim parents must do is put aside their harmful cultural attitudes regarding sensitive subjects and to develop a positive, healthy relationship with their children – one based on loving communication. It is upon this foundation that a holistic Islamic sexual education can take place.
Understanding and implementing the earliest steps of Islamic sex education, such as teaching children about ‘awrah and privacy, and providing a safe emotional environment where children can know that they will be believed by their parents, is one major step that needs to be taken in order to effectively prevent child sexual abuse from taking place.
The Shari’ah has absolutely no tolerance for those who abuse the trust of innocent children, or those who violate others against their will, as demonstrated by the Hadd punishments for rapists (which can either be the punishment for zina[1] or, according to some scholars who consider sexual violence to be a form of terrorism, being crucified and having their limbs amputated[2]) – and the attitude of the global Muslim community needs to reflect this.
We absolutely cannot accept those in our families and communities to be able to perpetrate their crimes without holding them to account and sending them to face the legal repercussions.
Parents and guardians must realize that they need to be keenly aware of our children’s lives and of their responsibility to be true guardians over their charges.
There is never an excuse to place cultural notions of ‘family honor,’ ‘reputation’ and ‘shame’ over the physical, sexual and psychological safety of a child. On the Day of Judgment, any adult guardian who knowingly allowed their charges to continue to be harmed in any way will stand before Allah and be held accountable for the grave transgression of their duties.
Parents must know that Allah has given them children as an Amanah, a trust. On the Day of Judgment, they will be held accountable for their safety, security, and overall health.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock.” (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
In short, it is the duty of every single Muslim to be aware of the existence and the seriousness of sexual violence in our societies, and to take every step necessary in order to eradicate it. Truly, Allah is the Most Just and praised this Ummah for being of those who enjoin the good and forbid the evil.
{You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.} (Qur’an 3:110)
May Allah make us of those who exemplify this verse, and truly enjoin the good and forbid the evil.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lower the Gaze (Strive to keep Sunnah of Nabi Sallallahu Alahi Wasallam alive)

Lower the Gaze (Strive to keep Sunnah of Nabi Sallallahu Alahi Wasallam alive)

Generally women are of the misconception that the command to lower the gaze is restricted to the man only, and they are free to look at men, whereas the command is for women to lower their gazes as well. At times curiosity gets the better of us. Especially on the occasion of a marriage, we are all too eager to get a glance at who the bridegroom really is. What we fail to realise is that in breaking the command of Allah Ta‘ala of lowering the gaze, we deprive ourselves of the sweetness of Imaan. Just one glance and our hearts are captured, our minds are thrown off balance and we lose all concentration in our acts of worship. We need to ask ourselves whether it is worth the glance; that for a moment of false pleasure we lose that clear communication we once enjoyed with our creator Allah Ta‘ala? Really, we do not know that behind the lowering of our gaze on which specific occasion lies our entry into paradise. Let us strive to lower our gaze and raise our stage.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Israel to vote on partitioning Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews

As Muslims are entangled in their local problems, Israel is silently working on its plans.

Are you ready for this?


Israel to vote on partitioning Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews


Black Dome of Al-Aqsa Mosque

It is important to note that both Rabbinical and Israeli law currently bans Jews from prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque because of the sanctity of the site for the Jewish religion [picture: Dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque]

An Arab Knesset member has revealed that there will be a vote in the next month on a law drafted by an Israeli committee regarding the partition of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews.

Arab MK Masoud Ghanayim was quoted on Monday by Palestinian newspaper Felesteen as saying that "the draft law, which has been prepared by the interior parliamentary committee in the Knesset, stipulates that Jews can perform prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque."

He continued: "This is based on a proposal that gives Muslims and Jews equal rights in their access and use of the holy site. It also specifies certain locations where Jews can perform their prayers."

It is important to note that both Rabbinical and Israeli law currently bans Jews from prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque because of the sanctity of the site for the Jewish religion. Most Jews who lobby to pray there are illegal settlers with a right wing agenda.

The Old City in Jerusalem where Al-Aqsa is located is internationally recognised as occupied land. The Israeli occupation authorities frequently prevent Muslims from praying there.

According to Ghanayim, the same draft law also bans organising civil protests and demonstrations in Al-Aqsa compound, and sets out punishment for any violations.

Ghanayim said that putting such a law for any vote is a "flagrant aggression on the religious rights of Muslims around the world." He also called it part of the Judaisation plan for the city of Jerusalem.

Commenting on the basis of this law, Ghanayim said it "is solely based on a legitimacy built on historical and religious myths bolstered with the power of the oppressive occupation."

He stressed that Al-Aqsa Mosque is part of the Islamic and Arabic world and cannot be partitioned at any time or place. He reiterated: "It is part of Arab and Palestinian lands, which is occupied by the Zionists and the [illegal] occupation does not have the right to impose its laws."

At the same time, he insisted that the Israeli government is behind all the attempts by the extremist right wing settlers to extend Israeli sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque and warned that the Israeli government would pay the price for this aggression on the rights of Arabs and Muslims.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Parenting the Islamic Way (Fanfold)

I received this by way of mail (courtsey uswatulmuslimah.co.za <info@uswatulmuslimah.co.za>). I found it useful and excellent way of rearing children in the correct manner.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Who is the Sacrifice?

Who is the Sacrifice?

Yesterday, Ebrahim Alayhis Salaam stood ready, with knife in hand, to sacrifice his only child to secure Allah's pleasure. Today, we sacrifice every command of Allah for the happiness of our kids.


Affluenza! Affluenza is a term that describes a mental illness that develops in a child by a parent's excessive molly coddling which translates into reckless behaviour and an inability to understand the consequences of one's actions. This very condition was used in the recent defence of a 16 year old American youth who while drunk and stealing his father's vehicle killed four people and injured twelve others in a horrific collision.


While the prosecution was pushing for a 20 year imprisonment, the defence mellowed the judgement down to ten years in a psychiatric facility. The defence argued that due to the pampered lifestyle afforded to him by his wealthy parents who gave him everything and never set any limits, the teenager never learned that he was responsible for his actions and that his actions have consequences. Hence, he was not fully responsible for his actions.


This type of mentality surely rings a bell when one considers many of the youth in our own community. Many are the parents who instead of parenting the child, dote on his/her every wish and encourage a lifestyle of indulgence. Flashy cell phones are given to kids still in primary school, expensive vehicles as soon as they can drive and plentiful cash to throw around. If the kids get into trouble, even if they are at fault,  the parents throw their power and influence around so that he/she gets away scot-free, instead of using such opportunities to teach the kids responsibility. One wonders if these parents realise that they are sowing the seeds of destruction for those they love the most.


The following Hadith imparts a most powerful lesson, “Whoever seeks Allah's Pleasure at the expense of the people's displeasure, will win Allah's Pleasure and Allah will then cause the people to be pleased with him. And whoever seeks to please others at the expense of Allah's Displeasure, will draw the Displeasure of Allah and Allah will then cause the people to be displeased with him." (Ibn Hibban)


Is it then any surprise, that the very kids that were doted upon later become their parents’ greatest nightmares causing untold pain and grief? The time of Qurbani should be a moment of deep reflection in the upbringing of our kids. Yesterday, Ebrahim Alayhis Salaam stood ready, with knife in hand, to sacrifice his only child to secure Allah's pleasure. Today, we sacrifice every command of Allah for the happiness of our kids.


The Hadith teaches us, “No father has given his child a gift better than good character.”(Tirmizi)

Unfortunately for many, the idea of gifts have been restricted to objects of material value, yet the Hadith, time and again, informs us that real wealth is the wealth of the soul. Have we not witnessed, with our very eyes, people whose monetary value is in the millions but who are valueless as human beings? It is hard to imagine that loving parents would wish the same internal bankruptcy for their kids. Reality is sometimes stranger than fantasy.


This year when we put the knife on the animal's throat that we sacrifice to please Allah, reflect on the rest of your life. Are we sacrificing for Allah or are we sacrificing  Allah for others?
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
Council of Muslim Theologians