Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Blog

I've decided to move to Word Press...

Here is the link:


See you there!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Unity of the Qur'an

We always hear that tawhid, or unity, is important in Islam. Yet we rarely see this applied to the Qur'an. Very few Muslims think of the Qur'an as a whole, rather than a compilation of verses that can be taken separately and out of context. But is this how we should look at it?

Fazlur Rahman suggests that we need to see the Qur'an as a whole to find out what God wants from us. Quoting a single verse as proof of something is not good enough. What is more important is the main message of the Qur'an - socio-economic justice - and the values the Qur'an mentions over and over again - peace, justice, kindness, compassion, sincerity, respect, and so on.

Rahman argues that we need to think beyond a single verse when we consider Islamic issues. The message of the Qur'an is a unity, not a block comprised of singular verses. We need to look at the values that underpin the Qur'an - what principles is God asking us to follow? We need to look for the VALUE behind the verse.

An example: the verse saying that women should inherit half of what men inherit. Then, it was seen as just. Today, it is not, because why should a woman only get half of what a man does? So when looked at by itself, it makes the Qur'an seem gender-biased. However, if we look at the value and message BEHIND the verse, we see a different picture: we see that God was giving women SOMETHING, at a time when she got NOTHING. God was saying a woman does have value, and does deserve an inheritance. That is the value and principle behind the verse, and according to Rahman, that is what we should be applying to our lives, not looking at that verse specifically and applying it literally.

Of course I'm sure most Muslims would disagree with him, as he is definitely a modernist and a reformist, but I think his view is very refreshing. It is an interesting question: why do we not apply tawhid to the Qur'an, when it is obviously the most important principle to God. Why do we not look at the SPIRIT of the Qur'an instead of focusing on specific verses?

Khaled abou el-Fadl once said that if we look at individual verses about women in the Qur'an, then it does seem like Islam treats women as less than men. But if we look at them together and see them as part of the Qur'an, we see that God does see them as equal and does want justice for them - because the Qur'an is about justice.

And it's so refreshing to have someone remind us of that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Questions on the Sunnah and Hadith

I'm really interested in finding out how you guys think the Sunna and Hadith fit into Islam. The Sunna are basically the practices of the Prophet and the Hadith are the written version of these. They can also include the Prophet giving his approval to someone else's action, without necessarily doing it himself.

Are we supposed to follow ALL of the Prophet's Sunna? Through the hadith we would know exactly what he did and how he lived. Does this mean we are supposed to implement this? If this is the case, as many Muslims argue, then we should grow beards, wear niqab, drink in a certain way, etc. Interestingly, these same Muslims DON'T think we should go back to riding camels or donkeys, give up all modern technology, give up healthcare, etc. So does following the Sunna mean selectively following it, or does it mean following all of it?

When it comes to hadith, how do you determine whether one is authentic (sahih) or not? Does it depend on the collection it is from? Many people say "well it's from Bukhari or Muslim so it must be right". Actually, weak hadiths were later found in the collection of Bukhari and a lot in the collection of Muslim. Also, neither of them was trying to make an exclusive collection of hadith - so there could be hadith that are sahih that were not included in their collections.

When a hadith contradicts our common sense, do we ignore it or do we ignore our common sense?

Is it a problem that the hadith were compiled by human beings, prone to error?

Can we understand the Qur'an without the hadith?

I would love to hear from all of you! My next post will be my answers.