Sunday, May 31, 2009

Surah An-Nisa' (4:3)

Copyright © 2009, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved

"And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan-girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fatwaa: Exercise for Woman

Photo Copyright © 2009, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved

As Salaamu Alaikum My Precious Muslims Sisters:

Given all of the controversy surrounding the permissibility of certain women's health clubs in Saudi, have you wondered if you're negatively affecting your deen by going to Curves or other similar women's health clubs here in America and elsewhere?

Well my lovely flower, wonder no more.

The Saudi Gazette has published an article called Women's Exercise - A Necessity As Per Shariah that will put all of your fears and concerns to rest.

I've given you the link above to the article, but I'm sure it won't stay up too long. After all, we wouldn't want something like this to get around and become common knowledge in the Muslim world, would we?

So, here is the article:

‘Women’s exercise – a necessity as per Shariah’
By Na’eem Tamim Al-Hakim

JEDDAH – Dr. Ali Abbas Al-Hakami, a member of the Board of Senior Ulema, has said that exercise for women is not only permissible but a necessity according to Shariah.

“It is permissible for women to exercise if the intention is to maintain good health, become more active and prevent obesity, and it is a necessity according to Shariah, as exercise as a means of maintaining physical health is one of the necessities called for by Shariah,” Al-Hakami told Okaz newspaper.Al-Hakami’s comments come in the light of recent controversy surrounding the issue of all-female sports clubs, which the Shoura Council recommended be set up some time ago.

“There is nothing stopping setting up women’s sports clubs provided nothing forbidden by Shariah occurs, such as mixing with men, exposing what should not be exposed, and other issues forbidden by Shariah,” Al-Hakami said.

“What is feared is that opening sports clubs will eventually lead to clubs where men and women mix which is forbidden. Keeping women’s exercise to the rules of Shariah is required, and exercise also becomes recommended, provided it abides by Shariah rules.”

Another member of the Board of Senior Ulema, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Suleiman Al-Manee’, agrees with Al-Hakami. – Okaz/SG

Okay, so there you have it, sisters.

You can proudly show this article to your husbands or other male members of your household just in case they only saw the original articles associated with all the controversy.

You know - just in case that they think you get enough exercise caring for the kids, homeschooling, working an outside job, cooking, cleaning, shopping, schepping the kids from here to there, gardening, caring for aging parents, going to school, running from the stove to the bed, and otherwise preventing the angels from being angry with you.

Just remember to be respectful. Re-education requires patience.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The White Privilege and the Ummah Carnival: What Does It Mean to You, Them and Us?

Sister Brooke over at Rolling Ruminations has started "The White Privilege and the Ummah: What Does It Mean to You, Them, and Us" blog carnival. "Them" is non-Muslims, "Us" is the Ummah.

If you are/consider yourself "white," feel free to jump in. It is open to both brothers and sisters. The carnival goes up on Friday, May 22, Insha Allah.

Once your post is finished, go to Brooke's blog and add your link to the comments or send her a private email with your post link.

Here is my contribution:

It's difficult for me to discuss this topic in a blog carnival. Why? First of all, because the topic is potentially rife with fitnah. But I can only write about my experiences and observations. I do not claim to speak for others.

I am a "white" Muslimah who is 60 years old. I am also a convert from Judaism to Islam.

So, "privilege" is not something I have personally ever associated with my white skin.

The Jew in America was, and to some extent still is, always considered "other."

There was a time in America when Jews were treated similarly to people of color (POC). Anti-semitism was rampant in America. Jews were vilified and even denied admittance to many places in America. Even today, Jewish country clubs, golf courses, and other places still exist that were started in 1940ish America.

I particularly remember how proud Jewish people were when Bess Myerson was crowned Miss America in 1945. Now, mind you, I was born in 1949, but as a child, Bess Myerson was an American Jewish heroine among us Jews. She was the first and last Jewish Miss America.

Looking at Bess Myerson and not knowing who she is or anything about her, one would assume white privilege:

But Bess Myerson suffered incredible anti-semitism as Miss America. This link explains some of what she experienced. Bess Myerson had a lot of difficulty carrying out her Miss America duties.

These days, some assert that Jews don't have it so bad in America. Some even claim that Jews run America. If that's true, it wasn't always that way.

Some Muslims claim that white privilege extends into the Muslim ummah. Perhaps it does. But some say that lighter skin has always been desirable among people. For example, some Arabs whiten their skin. "Good hair" is talked about among Blacks, as "pelo bueno" is among Hispanics. All over the world, light skin is sought. The "why" is not the focus of my post. I will leave that for discussion by a person of color.

For me, I haven't experienced "privilege" in the Muslim community due to my white skin. When I was divorced, no one knocked down my door for marriage because I have white skin. No one recommended me to any non-white for marriage despite my deen and my participation in the masjid. I am sure it had more to do with my age at the time (in my 50s) than my skin color.

Of all the white sisters I personally know, NONE of them are married to Arabs who had green cards or citizenship prior to the marriage to the white sister. If they did have documentation, they sent "back home" for a spouse when they were ready to marry.

In my masjid, my opinion is not purposely sought because of my white skin. As a matter of fact, my opinion is more often disregarded because I am not Arab or Indo-Pak. No one goes out of their way to favor me by speaking English because I have white skin.

As a child, I saw and experienced a lot of racism toward people of color. Remember that inter-racial marriage was a crime until the mid 1960s. For a time, we lived in a housing project (in the 1950s) where we had a black section. But, we did all go to school together. Where did I fit in as Jew? With the black kids. I did not enjoy "white privilege" because I was a Jew.

Prior to living in this housing project, we lived in New York City. Maybe I was too little to understand racism, but I never felt it so keenly until we moved to the projects in Pennsylvania.

When I become a Muslim, I thought the anti-semitism and racism would not exist. I was naive. Before saying the Shahadah, I read a lot about Islam and Muslims. I especially enjoyed the Prophet's (saw) Last Sermon, where he spoke about no person being better than another except by deen.

But mixing with Muslims, I have to say that I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED SO MUCH RACISM since my childhood. Some Muslims are over-concerned with another's lineage. Arabs stick with Arabs. Pakistanis stick with Pakistanis. Egyptians stick with Egyptians. Saudis with Saudis - and on and on and on.

Black sisters have shared with me the racism that feel and experience in the ummah. When they first started talking to me about it, I was real quick to defend those they were accusing of being racist. But, then I started to see it with my own eyes.

To add another layer to it all, my husband is African-American. Some of you "White" sisters or brothers married to Blacks know the story all too well. When someone first meets you (as a white Muslim), the first question they want to know is who you are married to and where your spouse is from. I play a little game with them:

Them: Sister, where is your husband from?
Me: Oh (with big fake smile because I know where this convo is going), he's American.
Them: Oh, yes, but where is he from?
Me: Why, he's American (pretending like I'm stupid).
Them: Yes, but WHERE is he from?
Me: He's from Philadelphia.
Them: Yes (a little uncomfortable now), but before that.
Me: He's American. Born and raised in Philadelphia. He's African-American.
Them: face falls, silent.

We (hubby and I) are not highly sought out. We are not invited to many homes or parties. We don't fit in anywhere. Everyone says they love us. But they don't include us. Yes, one or two Muslims who place Allah (swt) and deen first, yes, but for the most part, no. There are sisters here who I mix with on a regular basis. I have never been invited to their homes, to aqiqahs for the children, etc.

White privilege? For me, despite having white skin, people who don't know me assume that I'm a light-skinned Arab. Some Arabs even speak Arabic to me until they find out that I am a white American. Non-Muslims look at my clothing, not my skin.

When they find out I am a convert, that I PURPOSELY chose to be a Muslim and dress this way, I am seen as a traitor to "my" race. I truly then lose whatever race card I supposedly held.

Many people would prefer to marry their "own kind" - for many reasons. Inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages can be difficult.

How many Muslim couples do you know where both the husband and the wife are White?

Do you realize how difficult it can be to explain to your relatives that you have married a Muslim? And, oh BTW, he's (insert whatever non-white he is).

My mother, who was white/Polish and who married a Jew, was very bitter after they got divorced. When I was a little girl, my mother used to constantly remind me that "a Jew is a nigger turned inside out." As a little girl, I used to wonder if I had black skin underneath my white skin. Perhaps it was true, I thought. After all, when my black friends cut or scraped themselves on the playground, I always saw white/pink skin and red blood underneath their black skin. Imagine my confusion when I got hurt. I never saw the black skin my mother said I had underneath my scrap or cut. And my black friends had white-ish skin under their feet. The bottoms of my feet are white. I didn't see black skin on the bottoms of my feet. Yes, I was confused about a lot of things as a child.

I'm sure that I had some white privilege from people who didn't know that I was Jewish. I just wasn't aware of it.

The white privilege I experience these days is that most white people automatically think I'm a Catholic nun. They see my black jilbabs and hijab and think I"m a nun. Perhaps they don't know any white Muslims. It doesn't always have to be racism.

So you can see why I think this theme is rife for fitnah, stereotypes, and prejudice. So, I'll leave it to what I have written.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Copyright © 2009, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved

Surah 103 Al-'Asr, 1-3 (The Time)

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Merciful

By Al-'Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss, Except those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth {i.e., order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma'ruf) which Allah has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar) which Allah has forbidden}, and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah's Cause during preaching His religion of Islamic Monotheism or Jihad).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hijabs Around the House

In the drawers:

On the dresser:

In the laundry room (gardening hijab):

In the downstairs entryway (downstairs salaat hijab):

Answer-the-door hijab (keeping my daff company!):

Upstairs in the bedroom (salaat hijab):

Waiting to be put away hijabs:

Where are your hijabs?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Gardening 2009

Green bean seedlings - came up in less than a week! My gardening assistant, Hawaa, is keeping a close watch!

Three of my 12 tomato plants. Our new house has a mesh fence all along the rear of the backyard. No tomato cages this year, Alhamdulilah. I can tie them to the mesh fence.

Above is what I put in so far: squash, broccoli, cauliflower, green and yellow peppers, and a load of different herbs (chive, sage, coriander, basil, and more).

The extra space is for the green beans, Insha Allah!

Say dua that the rabbits don't "visit"my garden!

Okay, perhaps flower pics later!