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In the Name of God بسم الله


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  1. Hi Christian Lady, Thank you for sharing those videos. I admit that I need to put aside time and dig into Christianity first. Hopefully time permits someday. After thinking through your posts, the same question ultimately arises: What concrete rights does a Christian wife have? Unfortunately, I still do not understand the concrete rights of a woman in Christianity, in particular, in marriage. To better understand what I mean, here are the bullet points I mentioned regarding Islam earlier on (these are a small subset): Women are given sexual rights - e.g. if the husband does not have sex with his wife, the woman can get a divorce Women are given family rights She can be paid to suckle her child She has independent property and does not have to share it with her husband She can request divorce rights in the original marriage contract In the points I gave, it becomes easy to understand what must be protected, and how they can become law. In your points, I cannot understand what actionable items and legal rulings it translates into. To help me better understand, can you please provide an initial answer to the following via Christian rulings? What can a Christian wife do, if her husband does not listen to her? What can a Christian wife do, if her husband does not have sex with her? Can a Christian wife hold independent property (i.e. her husband has no voice on it)? When can a Christian wife disobey, and go against the word of her husband? Can a Christian wife get a divorce? At a high-level, we agree, and the approach is similar to Islam's (e.g. put faith in God, work towards God, work together, reduce misery). It is the low-level details that I am confused on and need clear explanations. Sorry for the long delay! It easily slips the mind to reply :) Thanks,
  2. Thank you Christian Lady for the reply. I require more education on Christian matters to be able to understand the big picture or reply with more detailed questions. Can you please recommend authoritative books that can first help to explain the denominations of Christianity, and the authoritative figures in Christianity (e.g. Paul)? I can then, time permitting, read into them and come back with better questions. --- If I did not misunderstand, at surface level in your reply, there seems to be an emphasis on God establishing justice for humans rather than humans establishing God's justice. In your reply, you seemed to gloss over a woman's legal rights on Earth:
  3. There is no clear answer to your question. Canada does have a strong multicultural institution and everyone is well respected. Growing up in Canada, I have been able to learn lots from other people's cultures and have been able to formulate my own hybrid culture or "superculture". However, if my post demonstrates anything, is that the cultural division of Shias remains a problem in North America. It may be of interest to you to investigate communities in our province of Quebec. They dominantly speak French there, which may make the transition easier for you. Ultimately though, the best community may be this Shiachat community ;)
  4. On the plus, if this post and Hannibal's post shows, we are not alone in our frustrations. There is a sense of unity amongst us. There is hope that one day these problems will be resolved, inshallah! :)
  5. I agree with you brother. It is formally called the "Straw Man Fallacy", and quite honestly, it annoys me to say the least. The few books I found refuting Shi'ism were exactly as you stated. This is why I was hoping to obtain a more objective, and scholarly, Sunni critique of Shi'ism. Having said that, I should mention that Shias are not immune to this. Reading posts in Sunni forums, the Sunnis basically have a different account of history. Even in the Battle of the Camel, Sunnis argue that Aisha did not want to start a war and was involved only to resolve problems amongst the Muslims. Shias on the other hand vehemently account the event as proof of her greed for power, hated for Imam Ali, and ignorance of the "righteous path". The difficulty is knowing what really happened, with no Straw Men in sight. I have a feeling I may need to read into how History can be studied before I can find an answer to this question. Either way, it seems sources are scattered and incomplete in their critique. Inshallah, I will group their argument together and make a post when possible. Thank you for all those that replied and provided their input!
  6. Thank you Gypsy for sharing that post with me! I am encouraged by seeing others experiencing the same problems. Simply knowing that I am not alone, makes me believe I am not crazy in how I feel. I definitely needed that. Shi'ism is definitely not an attractive concept around me. Personally, I see the Youth in Mosques pretending to be Muslims than anything else. In a certain way, everyone has given up a bit...
  7. Salamun Alaykum brothers and sisters, In the book "Shi'ism in America", there are interesting remarks regarding how culture and ethnicity have divided Shia Muslims in the West. The book resonated with me and encouraged me to isolate key points for a post. I hope to get your opinion on the topic, since I had to rely dominantly on one source. Thank you! I look forward to your input! --- Cultural Divide of (Shia) Muslims ...bonds of common faith have been replaced by ties to common origins, ethnicity, and culture. Step into an Islamic Shia center and notice the inseparable bond of culture and religion. Culture has infused itself in such a way that you cannot intuitively separate one from the other. You may be tempted to believe Shia Muslims primarily connect via Shia Islam; but in this post, I will explain to you how this is not the case. Using the authority of Liyakat Nathani Takim, an expert in the field of Shia Islam, and his book Shi’ism in America, I hope to show that most Shia Muslims do not unite under the banner of Shia Islam; but rather under the banner of ethnicity, culture, and language. Shia Islam, the sect, will not be criticized. No statement in this post should be seen as a criticism of the sect. Instead, this post will focus on exposing the negative effects of culture on Shi’ism in the West and provide insight into the frustrations that youth and converts feel. By the end of this post, you will understand why, many Shia Muslims do not participate in their community and choose to largely practice on their own. Please keep in mind that I am using a single primary source, which may naturally include a layer of bias or misinformation. In the future, if I find more sources, I will provide a more complete analysis of the topic. Having said that, the author is an expert in the field, and his sole input is still a valuable source of information. Cultural Divide Each immigrant brings with themselves a belief and lifestyle to which they have been accustomed to. Amongst people of their own ethnicity and culture, it is easier to hold on to past beliefs, rather than adapt or assimilate. In doing so, the Islam an immigrant comes with undergoes minimal adaptation: “As [immigrants] find themselves in situations of cultural displacement and marginality, immigrants mediate Islam in a culturally conditioned form, one that is highly resistant to change” (Location 1091) “Immigration and ethnicization mean that, like other Muslim immigrants, many recent Shi’i arrivals see Islam through a cultural prism, a lens that they have been accustomed to. Hence, to practice Shi’ism in any other way is often seen as an aberration or construed as cultural heresy.” (Location 1222)Initially, a small immigrant population assimilates into their new Western environment, in order to fit in with the community. In such cases, simply being a “Muslim” is enough to unite upon. “Practicing Islam as it had been done ‘back home’ was proving to be difficult... Imam Muhammad Jawad Chirri was one of the earliest Shi’i scholars to settle in America in 1949. Marium ‘Uthman remembers that he did not force women to wear hijab. Instead, some women just wore hats in the mosque. She remembers that although Imam Chirri did not approve of this practice, he did not enforce the hijab for fear that he might alienate women. He was more concerned that they remain true to their faith than insisting on their Islamic mode of dressing.” (Location 345) “The early Shi’i immigrants arrived in the United States at about the same time the Sunnis did. Initially, the two groups ignored their sectarian differences and focused on their Islamic identity. They worshiped together, often intermarried, and met at various social functions; they also represented the Muslim community as a singular group.” (Location 962)As an immigrant population grows, less of a need to assimilate exists and more of a need to preserve culture prevails. People begin to band together on identities other than “Muslim”. One of those identities being the ethnic identity. “Why do members coalesce around mosques that are frequented by people from the same background? Ethnic institutions are important for the psychological survival of new immigrants since they perpetuate customs and rituals that resonate with the home environment. They create the physical and social spaces in which those who share the same traditions, customs, and languages can reproduce aspects of their native cultures for themselves and attempt to pass them on to their children... Due to these factors, Shi’i institutions whether in the form of mosques, Islamic schools, or centers, have tended to fragment along ethnic lines and remain loyal to customs fermented in home states.” (Location 1140) “Indeed, more than any other factor, it is the ethnic factor that seems to have kept Shi’ism from becoming a dominant and shared source of identity.” (Location 1148) “...instead of a mosque being a focal point for all Shi’is, it has brought together Shi’is from the same ethnic community.” (Location 1164)Muslim identity has paled against ethnic identity. As such, ethnicity has become a source of disunity and friction amongst Shia Muslims: “Major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Detriot, Washington, and Chicago are characterized by disparate Shi’i centers established along ethnic lines... In Los Angeles, for example, Lebanese and Pakistani Shi’i centers are one mile apart, and an Iranian and Iraqi-based mosque are less than five miles from either of them... Similarly, in the Queens borough of New York, there are three Shi’i centers within a five-mile radius. In Houston, Pakistani and Arab centers are located virtually opposite each other”. (Location 1148) “The uniting factor within individual group often seems to be a common language and cultural ties rather than religious affiliation.” (Location 1164) “Shaykh Hisham Husainy of the Kerbala Center in Dearborn admitted that a cultural chasm existed between the Lebanese and Iraqi Shi’is” (Location 1156)You need to keep in mind that Islam encourages unity amongst Muslims. The Qu’ran, a Muslim’s most authoritative and authentic source of law, states: “Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects - you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only to Allah; then He will inform them about what they used to do.” (Qur’an 6:159, Saheeh International) “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided...” (Qur’an 3:103, Saheeh International)Additionally, the Imams of the Shia sect have married across ethnicities. There is no evidence that the Imams favoured an ethnicity over another. Ethnic diversity is not a problem on its own though. Let us instead ask what sort of impact has the ethnic divide been having? “...the existence of variant cultural traditions means that each ethnic group imposes its own distinctive understanding of how it experiences Shi’i Islam and firmly believes it to be the most authentic expression of Shi’ism, even, at times, disparaging the experiences and praxis of other ethnic groups that share the same faith”. (Location 1173) “Due to the predominance of ethnic centers, there are few interethnic marriages, and few Shi’is have friends outside their own ethnic background.” (Location 1183) “African American converts often complain that having converted to Shi’ism, they are discriminated against by Sunnis and fellow Shi’is alike.” (Location 1183) “Many centers hold programs in languages that reflect their countries of origins (Urdu, Persian, or Arabic), thus alienating them from Shi’is originating from different cultural or linguistic background. The linguistic and cultural bias of programs held at the centers also means that identification and interaction with Shi’is from different ethnic background is rare”. (Location 1173)Here is a testimony from an Amazon member who reviewed this book: “The cultural representations and traditions in Shi'i centers are fine as such, but they do not always speak to or resonate with me and have at times accentuated my sense of being outside the community. Further, the conflicts that have at times arisen when different ethnic/cultural groups did not agree on various matters have prevented the community from achieving its full potential. No matter how much time I may spend in or with a community, it never becomes my community psychologically, and I always remain a guest at best. With some physical distance between me and the nearest center and a naturally somewhat introverted nature, the personal benefit of attendance at programs is often not compelling enough to get me to make the commute.” (Amazon Reviewer D. Beatty)Cultural practices prevent unity within common areas of worship as well: “Occasionally, there are disputes regarding which speakers to invite, what kind of food to serve, whether men and women should be seated in the same hall, whether and how to perform acts of flagellations...” (Location 1216) “Iranian and Arab Shi’is often serve tea and light refreshments during the Muharram lectures. Such acts are seen as highly disrespectful and disruptive by South Asian and Khoja Shi’is, who insist on complete silence and discipline during the lectures.” (Location 1374) “The tensions that Muharram rituals can generate can be discerned from the following anecdote that occurred in Denver, Colorado, at a multiethnic center in 2005... The conflict arose as the Arabs wanted to eat after the noon prayers whereas the South Asians sought to mourn the death of Husayn at the same time. In the same mosque and at the same time, while the South Asians were fasting, the Arabs were feasting.” (Location 1490)Youth’s Disconnection Shi’ism’s ethnic divide, following immigration, has increasingly alienated youth born or raised in their new Western country. They do not identify themselves with their parent’s culture and lack support in incorporating Islam into their Western culture. “Shi’i youth must navigate between two worlds which neither is wholly comfortable or accepting. They are removed from the traditional culture of their parents, while at the same time they live in an American secular society that does not fully accept them” (Location 1736) “...most youth want to dissociate from the sectarian and ethnic identities that are a source of divisiveness and fragmentation.” (Location 1647)The demands of Western Shia youth are different and often unaddressed: “The youth seek a global Islamic identity, replacing a local culture in favor of a transnational or universal culture.” (Location 1647) “Shi’i youth often challenge their parents’ cultural articulation of Islam especially where there is no Islamic basis for such practices” (Location 1655) “The patriarchal family structure of Iranian families is one of the traditions being challenged by the second generation.” (Location 1663) “Pakistani youth often complain that their parents want to to raise not only Shi’i children in America but also Pakistani ones. A similar complaint is heard from Iranian or Lebanese youth. Some Pakistani youth even complain that their parents send them back home in the summer to become ‘more Pakistani.’” (Location 1676) “Like other Muslim youth, Shi’i youth reject the ethnic Islam phenomenon particularly as they experience and live in a post-ethnic world”. (Location 1677) “Many youth question... matam, especially when done with iron chains (zanjir)... dharih room and some wedding practices.” (Location 1654) “The survey also suggests that youth who have been here for a longer period are more disillusioned with the community and do not feel a sense of obligation to contribute to it. They do not feel a sense of belonging to the centers.” (Location 1756)Youth’s interaction with their environment differs from their parents’: “It is the younger generation who, due to their interaction with fellow Shi’is, Muslims, and non-Muslims, are becoming homogenized. Non-American traits, whether they be cultural, ethnic, or linguistic, are gradually but surely flattened out”. (Location 1684)The next generation’s Islam is not their parent’s Islam: “The trans-ethnic form of Shi’i Islam has emerged primarily because the ethnicized version is alien and isolationist to the younger generation”. (Location 1638) “Shi’i youth are engaged in the deethnicization of ethnic Islam, an Islam that is radically different from the one known to their parents.” (Location 1683) “A good example of a post-ethnic institution is the Yaseen Educational Foundation... Yaseen was established because other Shi’i centers held their programs in their native languages... The youth were not able to identify or relate to the centers their parents attended... it was clear that [Yaseen members] felt estranged both from other Shi’i centers and the adult community.” (Location 1719) “Preferring to distance themselves from parental practices that seem more superstitious than informed, they pursue what they call the ‘real Islam,’ however that may be defined” (Location 1727) “The youth feel that the adults cling to an Islam that is culturally conditioned, one that is formed by the ‘back-home mentality’ and one with which the youth cannot identify and often reject. For many youth, the shift from the cultural to the ‘real Islam’ is a return to the ‘true’ tenets of Islam; they feel they can lead a better Islamic life in America where they are extricated from the homeland culture.” (Location 1727)You may question, do the Mosques not care about the youth? They do. “My 2006 survey indicates Shi’i centers are clearly concerned about the youth within the community...70 percent identified the transmission of Islam to the next generation as a future challenge.” (Location 1770)Unfortunately, at best, Mosques have mixed results: “Most centers within the Shi’i community do not hold events that could attract the youth on a regular basis. In addition to there being no interaction with preachers in the centers, the lectures are either delivered in languages that are alien to the youth or they are in the form of repetitive and highly polemicized discourses, quite distinct from the intellectual discourses the youth are accustomed to in the universities.” (Location 1778)‘Ali Dabaja, a member of Young Muslim Association, states: “The majalis... are too narrative and repetitive to provide for the intellect and spirit of the youth... Islam is neither cool nor attractive to the youth. ‘Islam is not about bleeding chests and black and white turbans, it is more about role models...’... ‘Our leaders are more concerned with building centers than with investing in the hearts and minds of the youth who will occupy these buildings’” (Location 1793) From personal experiences, I can add that lectures aim to be more emotional than factual, Hadiths are not cited for the audience to verify, and rarely are alternative perspectives given, such as relevant Sunni perspectives. Dialogue seldom exists. You are a passive learner in the sessions and expected to believe everything taught, irrespective of evidence being presented or not. Fortunately, some Mosques are adapting by utilizing PowerPoints for their lectures, having Q&A after lectures, creating multipurpose centers rather than Mosques, inviting young Western lecturers, etc. In this regard, no blanket statement can yet be made regarding a successful outreach to youth. Conclusion As I continue to read this book (I am not finished), I reflect on my struggle to understand the religion of Islam. Much of what is mentioned in this book, I had to learn on my own. I struggled to understand the Islamic culture surrounding me. I struggled to understand why a compatible Western Islam had not surfaced yet. I struggled to understand why other Muslims recommend to me to marry within my ethnicity and “level”, despite the numerous teachings of Islam to select based on piety alone. I struggled to understand why the Islam I read about was not the Islam I saw. Fortunately, I was not disillusioned. Deep inside, I hold an internal belief to reject an idea only when it encounters a clear contradiction. People carrying out Islam incorrectly does not tarnish the Philosophy of Islam. It creates no contradiction for me to reject. As such, I persisted in studying Islam. Eventually, I came to realize my frustrations stemmed from cultural factors, not religious ones. I began to categorize Islam properly for myself: “Real Islam”, “Persian Islam”, “Khoja Islam”, “Afghan Islam”, etc. I can now encourage myself again to seek “Real Islam”. When and if I find it, I can then finally reject or accept it, knowing that what I am rejecting or accepting is the Islam that (Prophet) Muhammad had actually taught. Please feel free to share your comments below! Citation Note: I have read this book in Kindle format. Each quote's “Location” is only an approximate. You can easily do a “Search” and find the quotes in the book, if desired.
  8. Thanks brother Al-Hassan. I am a bit surprised at the difficulty of finding scholarly books that criticize Shi'ism or justify the Sunni position. On the forums, people are just bashing each other. The popular books are of the same nature, and the Shia position is often incorrectly presented. Your suggestion of reading classical scholars seems to be the way to go. I'll give those two a read. Thanks!
  9. Thank you brother Hassan! You have been very helpful and insightful on this forum! I will start by reading this document, and begin to identify top Sunni scholars and see if they have any books refuting Shi'ism. At least it's a starting point. I understand that many think this question is not well suited for this site, but I believe otherwise. Just as brother Hassan said "I don't see how a person (regardless of affiliation) can refute another ideology when they don't understand where the opposition stands on a particular issue.", then we should be able to identify top Sunni scholarly work and refute them if we believe our position to be more correct. In other words, we should know authoritative Sunni opinions, papers, books well before choosing Shi'ism. As such, I asked here since I hoped a brother or sister had walked this path before and could point out authoritative sources I should know about. Inshallah, if I find well-articulated and authoritative sources, I will share them on this thread as well. Thank you everyone!
  10. Salamun alaykum brothers and sisters, Can anyone guide me to popular and academic sources which defend the Sunni position? Ideally, the book defends itself against the Shia position. Also, if you happen to know of any sources that criticizes the Shia position (irrespective of whether it is Sunni, Ismaili, or Christian, etc.) that would also be great. I wish to understand the Sunni position from their scholars, rather than Shia scholars. I wish not to be biased in my research. I know it may be difficult for Shia believers to point me to sources, but I would appreciate it. Thank you!
  11. Thank you Al-Hassan! It is inspiring to read your input. It is definitely a struggling point for me, and I feel isolated by challenging the cultural practices. Fortunately, I am happy to see that others do notice this as well. Inshallah, I'll find a way to immerse myself and help. Although I am not sure how much the community will assist and trust a Canadian like me...
  12. Brother, I am basically saying that I am concerned with him using weak Hadiths to make his points. It is not related to what the point is. In other words, even if he promotes the social Hijab or is promoting Islam, I am not addressing that. I am addressing his use of weak Hadiths. I also asked, that if I am mistaken about the authenticity of the Hadith I quoted, to please correct me. Regarding "but don't attack the guy on an open forum", I find it an interesting statement and I'll make sure to ponder on it. While I am onboard with keeping average people's mistakes hidden from others, I believe criticism of scholars to be different. After all, people learn their religions from them. If no one said anything bad about them, then a person cannot select the best teacher for themselves. I did not inappropriately attack Nakshawani. I stated with evidence my concern about his lectures. Nor was my opinion hasty since I have listened to more than a 100 lectures from him. Perhaps it is best for us to agree to disagree. I believe we are beginning to repeating ourselves. I respect your opinion on my feedback, and hopefully our combined input will be useful to respective readers.
  13. There are a couple of concerns I see: How can someone possibly be blamed for looking into facts? If I am seeing the wrong facts, OK, but you cannot simply shun my point because it is "factual". If it is a strong Hadith, then please brother help prove it to me and I'll accept your position for this example Hadith. Using a common day example, "If a big scholar told you to jump off the roof, would you?" If someone is a "big scholar", then they should be big because what they are doing is correct. As such, if I am challenging them, then it should be easy to disprove me by showing my error. However, it does not make sense to just say "They said it, so be quiet" or "You are not a big scholar, so your point is mute". Brother, the other points regarding social Hijab, I am in complete agreement with you. I also agree with the priorities of home and raising kids. I'm not saying anything to oppose those. I am saying that someone should not, especially a Scholar, use weak Hadiths in a way to make points. We have modern tools such as Noor software that can easily be referenced by the scholars prior to making a statement. Why do they choose not to use it?
  14. Thank you "Waiting for HIM", that was a very thorough answer! I appreciate the different responses everyone has put in. I understand the arguments of wanting to seek through and how true Islam has been under attack and modification by others. The part that feels unaddressed, is the verification process that your Islam (Shia Islam) has not been corrupted or altered. It is not a matter of comparing sects, but a matter of addressing your current state and knowing whether it remains true or not. I fear that from the replies, multiple people here are taking the stance that "The current state of Shi'ism is the truth, we are safe". IMO, it is naive to have such a stance. It would seem safer to say "The current state of Shi'ism is closest to the truth based on the parts I have studied so far. I cannot speak for the parts I have not studied. Therefore, it is safe to call me Shi'a, but in reality this is too simplistic, since I have not yet come to know and accept everything in Shi'ism". I will research further into the matter. Understanding sects and their history is clear, but understanding how a person travels the path of knowledge to a particular sect is unclear. Thank you brothers and sisters.
  15. Brother Mommin, let's look at a Hadith he cited in his lecture regarding women: Once the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) asked [Fatima]: “What is the best for a woman?” She replied: “That she does not see a man and no man sees her.” - Wasa'il, vol. 3, p. 9. Now, what happens if this is authentic vs. weak? If it is authentic, then a woman should aim to be hidden. If it is weak, then it should be dismissed and should not be preached. This is essentially what our Science of Hadith aims to distinguish It aims to decipher what is authentic and what is weak, so we can make sure proper legal rulings. In this case, this Hadith is weak and Nakshawani used it, despite clear evidence of him being aware of the Science of Hadith. There are more, if you like me to find them for you. A scholar cannot just take a Hadith with the excuse of "it's from our books" without verifying it first. This is a plea to ignorance, except scholars know we have many weak Hadiths and by not being careful they are being negligent. This is not to say Nakshawani is the only one. I can cite you Murtaza Mutahhari's books where he uses weak Hadiths to make his claims as well. I have been finding lots of these when researching women's rights. Does it make sense why I do not recommend him?
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