Islamic Tarbiyah Academy response to Sky news report

Islamic Tarbiyah Academy response to Sky news report

We thank the press for their keen interest in our school and in particular Sky News’ coverage.

Islamic Tarbiyah Academy (ITA) has a wide range of publications which include topics on denouncing terrorism, crime and drug abuse as well as living in peaceful co-existence with others. Many of these publications have not been published recently but have been on our website for a number of years now.

ITA has strived to educate the community with good morals and discipline which includes the rights and wellbeing of all, irrespective of their colour, creed or religion. Many of our publications reflect this too as well as many in the neighbourhood who have seen the positive impact ITA has had for community relations. ITA fully believes in the importance and need for integration whilst allowing Muslims to able to practice their faith. ITA is committed to promoting teachings of Islam and is just as committed to comply with the law of the land.

We would like to take this opportunity to respond to the numerous allegations in the Sky News report;

Anti-Semitism

Sky News Report:

“In one leaflet Mr Dudha quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an early 20th Century anti-Semitic forgery, which claims to prove Jewish people are engaged in a global conspiracy.”

Our Response:

It is unfortunate that this material has been quoted in the context of spiritual training of the soul and we apologise for the offence this may have caused.  The quote itself is not anti-Semitic in anyway and focuses on the point about distractions which affect the spiritual.  Muslims have always honoured and respected the Bani Israel, Jewish Tradition.  The material does not advocate the demonization of the Jewish people, which is categorically forbidden in Islam.

Fame Culture

Sky News Report:

“He claims that colourful pictures, films, magazines and sporting celebrities are part of the conspiracy to “poison the thinking and minds” of young Muslim people.”

Our Response:

We do believe that there are harmful effects from certain aspects of the media. “Colourful pictures” is a reference to obscene images and the exploitation of women portrayed through all the above mentioned mediums. They entail fame for fame’s sake which we believe is spiritually destructive for the soul.  Study after study has demonstrated how social media and celebrity culture is adversely affecting the viewpoints of the young.  According to one survey (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/fame-the-career-choice-for-half-of-16-year-olds-1902338.html), half of teenagers do not want a career – they just want to be famous. Research has also indicated to the destructive consequences of such culture. According to one research study, a contributory factor in the high rate of shootings in the US is to do with the “obsession with fame” (http://www.livescience.com/51991-why-america-is-prone-to-mass-shootings.html).

Islamic Practices

The Sky News report also highlights a series of orthodox Islamic positions such as the separation of the sexes, refraining from immorality and the viewing of explicit content plus encouraging modesty in action and dress for both men and women. This is part our faith and we stand firmly with our religious expression. Certainly our practices are shared with other religions such as Orthodox Judaism and Christianity.

Jihad

Sky News Report:

“In a section on jihad he tells Muslims they should be prepared to “expend … even life” to create a world organised “according to Allah’s just order”.

Our Response:

The literature articulates a holistic understanding of Jihad, which includes reformation of the self.  The Just order of Allah is described literally a sentence before this cherry-picked quote: “that injustice, oppression and contumacy are annihilated”.  We believe that most of society will agree that injustice and oppression should be removed.

Westernization

The reference to Westernization and its evil effects is a reference specifically to the harmful effects resulting from excessive individualism, unfettered capitalism and materialism.  Some of these harmful effects are increasingly visible across society and have already been highlighted above and are indeed alien to traditional Islamic culture.  This however cannot be construed as being “anti-Western” and we reject such an interpretation of the literature and maintain that we as Muslims are not and should not be anti-Western.  A difference in viewpoints on what is good for society does not mean that there is something ominous afoot.

Keith Vaz and Extremism

The report references comments made by Keith Vaz.

We believe that Mr Vaz has recklessly conflated traditional, orthodox Islamic viewpoints with “extremism”. Disagreement with the Islamic way of life is one thing but to conflate it as “extremism” sets a dangerous precedent of securitising Islam.

To make such a connection in the context of radicalisation is also spurious.  As a leading expert in the field of radicalisation has stated, “The evidence isn’t there to say ideology is the prime reason why people are becoming terrorists, and yet ideology is the foundation on which the counterterrorism effort is built on.”

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/20/david-cameron-anti-terror-strategy-wrong-expert-says

As regards to religious practice, a report by the MI5 behavioural science unit states that there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/aug/20/uksecurity.terrorism1

The labelling of orthodox viewpoints as “extreme” based upon subjective viewpoints is dangerous and can potentially lead to the demonization of minority groups who hold conservative beliefs to the rest of society.

Rather than condoning extreme views, ITA has and will continue to work within the community, along with others, including the local authorities and police, to try and counter extremism.

Islamic Tarbiyah Academy was established in 1998 as a private traditional Islamic seminary and registered place of worship. ITA’s ethos is of development in spiritual, moral, mental and physical discipline. ITA offers a range of activities to the community including religious instruction, sports and counselling. ITA presently has 150 students and also offers courses to adults in traditional Islamic scholarship.

Contact:
Please direct all media enquiries to Saghir Hussain at media@hmasolicitors.co.uk

source: http://www.islamictarbiyah.com/single_announcement.php?announcement=65



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Women’s Mosque? Women’s Empowerment?

By Khalid Baig

Posted: 11 Rabi al-Thani 1436, 1 February 2015

The Women’s Mosque of America has started operations in Los Angeles. It is not a mosque per se, but the name of a non-profit organization. It began with holding female only Jumuah prayers, in an old synagogue with Stars of David etched on the stained glass windows. The decision to use this venue was made to “promote peace.”

Creating a separate space for Muslim women is a noble idea. Unfortunately the organizers chose the one event for this project for which it has no basis in the Shariah. Muslim women are not required to offer Jumuah. They are allowed but not required. (They can offer the Dhuhr prayer instead.) Further by consensus of scholars of all schools, Muslim women are not allowed to lead Jumuah prayers or deliver Jumuah Khutbahs. Not surprisingly the project met with disapproval from the great majority of local Muslim scholars who objected exactly on this ground. The women who prayed there were advised to still offer their Dhuhr prayer as the prayer obligation remained undischarged.[1]

But there is a larger issue that has not been discussed. One wonders what the officers of this corporation would think of establishing a women only school or women only college. Obviously if women need access to Islamic education in an exclusive space, then would not a daily regular school be far superior to a twenty minute sermon delivered once a month? Alas their future programs make no mention of such a plan. On the contrary other programs will be coed.

It is also interesting to see the media reaction. This was a media event and all the big names were there. And they were excited. From the Los Angeles Times to the Wall Street Journal, from ABC news to Fox News, everyone praised this as a historic event. It was considered a key development in empowerment of Muslim women. “Maybe we could get a female Luther out of this,” Los Angeles Times reported an excited congregant as saying.

The question that we must ask is what the media reaction would be if the organizers had opened a women’s only college instead. Would that be considered a historic event that would open the doors to scholarship for Muslim women? Would that be praised by the same media as a space “where Muslim women can ‘bring their whole self,’ learn more about their faith and foster bonds of sisterhood?”

It is more likely that this would be ridiculed as a step backwards, as another sign of oppression of Muslim women.

Why? Why the same act is praiseworthy in one case and blameworthy in the other?  The answer may be that it is flouting the traditions and well established Islamic teachings in one case and complying with them in the other. The first act is therefore considered empowering and the other enslaving. The hypocrisy has a rationale!

It may be therefore empowering to deconstruct the notion of “women’s empowerment” itself.

The sad fact is that we are caught up in the discourse of empowerment. Everyone these days is for “women’s empowerment.” And it is taboo to question this dogma. But let us ask, where does this word come from? Does it come from the Islamic discourse or its textual sources? The Qur’an does not talk about “women’s empowerment.” Neither does Hadith. Neither does the Islamic literature produced by authorities and scholars of varied persuasions over the centuries. If in doubt please tell me what is the Arabic term for “empowerment” and where do you find it in the Islamic textual sources?

Let us face it: It is a foreign term. And like other foreign terms it has to be examined carefully before we start using it and submit to its dictates.

The term as used today comes from the feminist discourse. And it brings with it the entire feminist agenda. Simply stated, the ideology of women’s empowerment means establishing an absolute-no-holds-barred-equality between men and women. Dozens of international organizations are devoted to promoting “women’s empowerment” and use the term interchangeably with “gender equality” and “gender mainstreaming.” At a more basic level it means fighting for your rights. As American feminist Gloria Steinem said, “Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.”

Let us contrast this with Islamic history.

The pre-Islamic Meccan society, like all Jahiliyya societies then and now, had its share of the weak and the downtrodden. Women were oppressed. So were slaves. Anyone belonging to another tribe was discriminated against. Did the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, go to them and say I have come to empower you? Did he invite them to start an empowerment movement? If he did, the seerah and Hadith books do not record it. Rather his message to everyone was, “Become a believer and you will be successful.” The promise was falah, the eternal and ultimate success, to be achieved through iman (faith) and taqwa (righteous action performed with the fear of displeasing Allah). To men and women, to slaves and masters, the rich and poor, Arabs and non-Arabs, the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said one thing:

"O people, say there is no god but Allah and you will be successful." Belief in Allah and submission to His commands were the road to falah.

“O people, say there is no god but Allah and you will be successful.” Belief in Allah and submission to His commands were the road to falah.

“O people, say there is no god but Allah and you will be successful.” Belief in Allah and submission to His commands were the road to falah.

The society that was so built did eliminate the injustices to the slaves and women and the poor and all the downtrodden people. But the path to that uplifting was not through the talk of empowerment. Rather it was through an exactly opposite strategy. Islam did not urge women to fight for their rights; it urged the men to discharge their responsibilities toward the women, fearing Allah. It did not urge the poor to fight for their rights; it urged the wealthy to discharge their responsibilities toward the poor, fearing Allah. It also urged the women to discharge their responsibilities toward their husbands. In fact it changed the focus of everyone from their rights to their responsibilities. For in the Hereafter we’ll be held accountable for our responsibilities, not our rights. If we were shortchanged on our rights here, we will be fully compensated there. But if we were negligent in discharging other’s rights on us, we will have to pay heavily for it there. Needless to say, with everyone concerned with their responsibilities, the rights of the others are automatically secured. Further, with justice being a supreme goal of Islam, redressing injustices becomes everyone’s job not just those of the victims. With this approach Islam obtained justice in the society but without the incessant friction and disharmony that is an essential result of an ongoing fight. It uplifted women without instituting a perpetual gender war. As Imam Zaid Shakir notes: “Islam has never advocated a liberationist philosophy.”

The language of empowerment is diametrically opposed to it. It makes everyone focus on their rights, not their responsibilities. The battle cry is, watch out for yourself for no one else will. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. With no one being primarily concerned with discharging their responsibilities, securing your rights becomes a lifelong struggle. You will only get those rights for which you fight. Hence the perpetual campaign for women’s empowerment.

What has that led to? The exact opposite of what it aimed at. The empowerment rhetoric did not end exploitation of women; it actually has opened exciting new avenues for it. As Dr. Brooke Magnanti wrote in the Telegraph, “Too often the word is used as a smokescreen for increasing consumerism, a cousin of L’Oreal’s ‘because you’re worth it’ whereby you can presumably empower yourself by buying shoes and pretty little journals, which is somehow worthier than simply buying things because you need or like these things. Or worse still, by landing some 9-to-5 corporate grinding job.”[2]

But it has done much more. It has destroyed the home and family beyond recognition. Even more, it has drastically changed men and women. Here are the words of Father John McCloskey, a Catholic priest lamenting the disaster that this world has faced.

There is something radically wrong with the family and the relationship between the sexes in the West as we rapidly approach the third millennium of the Christian era… Indeed it would be hard to find similar situations in history, unless it be the pre-Christian paganism of the Roman Empire (cf. St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans l: ll-20) or the behavior of the barbarian hordes of central Asia as they poured into a weak and decadent empire… Today, in societies that are nominally Christian, we witness the phenomenon of women who do not act like women, nor men like men, nor families like families. Codes of moral behavior that have made the family the central unit of society and have been the “guardrails” of civilization for centuries have been discarded as antiquated.”[3]

If we blindly follow the talk of women’s empowerment, we will also be headed to this lizard’s hole. Or we can follow the path of falah shown by the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and say goodbye to the borrowed language and borrowed ideologies.

The Women’s Mosque organization was started by two ladies, a comedy writer and a lawyer, as a reaction to their “mistreatment” at some other mosque. The “mistreatment” consisted in somebody in that mosque gently pointing them upstairs to a separate area for women.  They apparently thought that the separate upstairs space that had been provided was beneath them. One wonders if that is the attitude of a humble servant of God. In reaction they organized an event that violated the commands of the same God whom they so desperately wanted to serve. And they started a first ever “protest mosque.”

Among other firsts, it also encouraged women to “enter the mosque in the type and style of clothing in which they feel comfortable.” In other words it decreed that Islam does not prescribe any dress code for prayers. Anyone who thought otherwise was asked to keep their opinions to themselves. It asked that no woman should remind another woman to, say, cover her head while praying. If the mosque was a consecrated space which imposed its own rules of decorum and proper conduct, including dignified and modest attire, the “Women’s Mosque” had nothing to do with that.

Such is the tragedy when we become consumed by our desires. These ladies and their sympathizers would do well to listen to the words of Imam Zaid Shakir: “Our fulfillment does not lie in our liberation, rather it lies in the conquest of our soul and its base desires. That conquest only occurs through our enslavement to God.”

Does Islam ask the women to get sacred knowledge? Absolutely. And today, unlike the bleak picture painted by the marketing department of Women’s Mosque, women are very active in seeking religious knowledge. They are doing it from their homes over the phone and Internet; in gatherings arranged at private homes; in schools established for this purpose. And they are doing it in mosques as well. There are some institutions who have thousands of women studying with them from their homes. They are studying Arabic, Hadith, Fiqh, Qur’an, and so on. May Allah bless these efforts and multiply them. This is the right answer to the problem of women education. Not a Jumuah khutbah delivered by a woman once a month.

The organizers of the Women’s Mosque are right that for proper education women need a safe space where they are by themselves. Where they can discuss their problems freely, get inspired by other sisters, and seek both emotional and intellectual fulfillment from them. Where they do not have to act like men or compete with them. Where women can be women. If one is guided by Islamic teachings and not the talk of empowerment then one could easily see that it should lead to the development of female only schools, colleges, and youth groups.


[1] For a detailed discussion of the fiqhi ruling on women leading prayers, see Imam Zaid Shakir’s article at http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/articles/female_prayer_leadership_revisited. But the matter is simple to understand even without a detailed technical discussion. Dr. Salman Nadvi, who headed the Islamic Studies department at the University of Durban until his retirement and who is the son of the illustrious scholar Allama Sulaiman Nadvi, said: “If Allah wanted women to lead their own Jumuah prayers He would have asked the Prophet to order this and would have asked the Ummahat al-Mu’mineen to lead the prayers.”

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/dr-brooke-magnanti/

[3] http://www.catholicity.com/mccloskey/singlesexedu.html

source: http://albalagh.net/current_affairs/0107.shtml



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The Nobel Award and the Not-So-Noble Propaganda Campaign

By Khalid Baig

Posted: 20 Dhul Hijjah 1435, 15 October 2014

“The US corporate media loves talking about the remarkable bravery and strength of Malala and the brutality of the Taliban forces that almost killed her. Such coverage fuels its racist, orientalist, neocolonialist narrative about “backward,” violent, misogynist Muslims and their need for “white saviors,” thereby legitimizing Western imperialist interests in South and West Asia.  (Ben Norton in Dissident Voice)

The news of the award of a Nobel Prize for Peace to a Pakistani girl was accompanied by a condemnation of the Pakistani society in the mainstream media. Its crime: Its people were not dancing in the streets to celebrate the honor given. They even had the temerity to question the motives of the award givers and the actions of the recipient. They refused to take the attacks of the young recipient on Islam in stride. If it was trying to give a message to Pakistan, the Nobel committee must have felt that it was doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful. Poor, fanatic Pakistanis who cannot appreciate a good thing.  “By winning the Nobel prize, Malala joins Pakistan’s loneliest club,” announced the Washington Post in a bold headline.

The distance between the make-believe world of the media and the reality can be seen in that headline itself. Did she win, as the headline says, or was she awarded? You win, say, a marathon race, by being the first to reach the destination. It reflects effort and achievement. You do not get it because of the largess of the judges. They do not declare you a winner to promote the diet and exercise routine that you had followed. A Nobel prize, on the other hand, is an award— a political decision made by the judges aimed at achieving a political goal. Even the award announcement makes it so clear. It says: “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.” This is loaded political language.

Obviously if one does not agree with your political goals, one will not support the decisions made to advance those goals. There will be no reason to celebrate the award, in contrast to the win in the race. The media showed a singular inability to understand the distinction by blaming the Pakistanis for not celebrating the “win.”

Education is a wonderful thing. But what exactly do you want to teach? In case of Malala the agenda is very clear. In the writings that have been published in her name, she looks down on the education in the core values of one’s faith. She does not like Islamic studies. She is concerned about the increase in the number of madrasahs. She condemns female students who were the victims of barbaric military atrocities including dropping of phosphorous bombs on their own school. So much for being a champion of universal education!

Beyond education she also has statements to make on important issues of the day in Pakistan, like Blasphemy laws, Islamization of penal code, Hudood ordinance, even Muslim protests against the intensely provocative insults of Salman Rushdie. And on all these issue she parrots the lines taught by her imperial mentors. It is obvious that all her utterances are scripted. Further, her script writers and those who have awarded her for reading from the script are certainly working in harmony.

And then the pundits wonder with perfect disingenuity why the people are not rejoicing over her “win.”

But there was some consolation for the media. For some people did fall for the trap both in Pakistan and in the diaspora.

If you are suffering from  a very low self esteem (itself a gift of the media) you would be excused for grabbing on to anything to raise it up, including a tainted award.  They exhibited the signs of an inferiority complex: Denial, day dreaming and wishful thinking. Denial that a young girl is being used (Even when many of them agreed that her book is a case of that. No one defends her book and people in Pakistan are not rushing to the bookstores to get a copy.); daydreaming that the powers that be are choosing to honor a Muslim girl because of her goodness; and wishful thinking that some good can come out of the plans which are anything but good.

Their infatuation with the Nobel prize —itself a mark of colonization of the minds—led them to accept the Malala-for-education-versus-Taliban-against-education narrative. Little did they realize that this is a false dichotomy created by the propaganda machine. She is no champion of education and those questioning her status as a heroine are not against education. She did not build schools or help anyone get an education. She did not come up with any program for spreading education. She only allowed herself to be used by faithfully uttering the propaganda lines that she had been assigned. In a way she had been abducted. Her Nobel Prize award was a certificate that her abduction was complete.

After reading her book and her pronouncements the most charitable thing that can be said is that she is young and innocent and is unfortunately being used by powers with an agenda. This admission will lead us to pray for her liberation from the trap she has fallen into.

Let us mourn the abduction of a daughter of this ummah. And let us also mourn the celebration in some quarters of this abduction.

http://www.albalagh.net/current_affairs/0106.shtml



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Education of Women in the Zangi Era

Dr. Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi

Posted: 26 Jamad ul awwal 1434, 06 April 2013

Dr. Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, in his “Ad-Dawla az Zankiyya,” a historical account of the Zangi era wrote about women’s education in the rule of Nur ud-Deen Zangi. Noor ul-Deen ruled in Syria from 541 AH to 569 AH (1146 – 1174 CE). He was a just and righteous leader and was well-loved by those under him. He was succeeded by Salahuddin Ayyubi, who followed in his footsteps.

The following is a translation of the chapter on women’s education:

The devotion of Muslim women to Islamic studies reached high levels. Their purpose was to gain knowledge of the correct teachings of the religion and thereby bring them into practice. The subject that received the most regard was the study of hadith, in which many women attained high qualification. They competed with great Hadith scholars and memorizers of hadith therein and became profound examples of trustworthiness and uprightness.

Many biographical accounts allude to the substantial intellectual activities of women in this era. Sources have mentioned names of numerous female Qaris, hadith scholars, fiqh scholars, writers, grammarians, as well as scholars of other fundamental sciences. Many of these women would travel from region to region with their maharim to seek knowledge from great scholars and Muhaddithin and they received ijazas (certificates) from them. A testimony to the undertakings of women in this field is the fact that the biographers of Ibn Asakir (d. 571 AH / 1176) agree that more than eighty of his teachers were women. This demonstrates the large numbers of women who were busy in this field, such that a single scholar from the scholars of that era studied from more than eighty women. This is in addition to the large number of women whose biographies he has included in his book. (Ibn Asakir collected biographical accounts of 196 women scholars in his tareekh).

It becomes apparent from what Ibn Asakir alludes to in his Tarikh al-Kabir that the home was the first school for these women. The women who received much acclaim for their knowledge were the ones who grew up in the houses of scholars and studied from their fathers or other knowledgeable relatives. These women would also benefit from the various classes that would take place in their homes, as they would listen on to what was being discussed. This is what is listed as “Teaching in the homes of the scholars” in historical accounts. Thus, when Ibn Asakir wrote about his wife, Aisha bint Ali (d. 564 AH / 1168), he mentioned that she studied hadith from Fatima bint Ali Al-Asfraini, known as the Young Scholar, who in turn had studied with her father Abul Farj.

Similarly, the doors of the masjid would be open for women who wanted to study. These women would frequent the study circles that took place in the masjid. These study circles had a specific space appropriated for them, a space which was totally separated from that of the men which eliminated the possibility of mingling of the genders.

Women did not just take part in studying, but rather they played a role in spreading and teaching knowledge as well. Although they did not have teaching positions in specialized schools in the manner we see now, they did have other avenues of teaching. Ibn Asakir indicates this as he writes about his wife’s teacher Fatima bint Ali Al-Asfraini that she used to give sermons to women in the masjid.

One of the most notable women in the field of teaching was the alima Fatima al-Faqiha. She taught in Halab and authored many works of fiqh and hadith. Further, Nur-ud Din, the ruler of the era, would consult with her in his affairs and ask her for fatawa in fiqhi issues. He supported her and helped her in her educational pursuits.

An event that transpired between Fatima al-Faqiha and Nur-ud Din highlights the commitment of the Muslim women to the Islamic requirement of hijab and how the female scholars would only communicate with men through a woman assigned to act as a middle-person. The event, as Al-Qurashi writes, is that ‘Ala ad-Deen al-Kasani, the husband of the scholar Fatima al-Faqiha, decided to move from Halab to his own country at the request of his wife. Nur ud Deen summoned Imam Ala ad-Deen and requested him to stay in Halab. Imam Ala ud-Deen explained to him the reason for his move and told him that he could not oppose his wife’s wish who was also the daughter of his shaikh. Nur ud-Deen then sent a servant to Fatima to speak to her on his behalf. When the servant arrived at her house, she did not allow him to enter. Then she sent someone to her husband (who was with the king at that time) with the message, “With your experience and knowledge of fiqh, don’t you know that it’s not permissible for this servant to see me? What’s the difference between him and other men?” The servant returned and recounted what had taken place to her husband in the presence of the ruler. They then sent a woman to her with the king’s request. Fatima then accepted the request and stayed in Halab until she passed away. Her husband al-Kasani passed away after her in 587 AH / 1191 and was buried next to her in Halab.



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