Letters to the Editor
Q: Dear Sir: I work in a library in the United States that receives your periodical. While glancing through the pages I felt compelled to write. Why? I am sure you’ve gotten emails like this before, but you really must know, your magazine is utter trash, filth, and backwards.
Islam and Americanism stand poles apart. In many ways, each is the antithesis of the other. To reconcile the two, America will have to abandon much that it is proud of, while Islam will remain – if certain universally accepted parameters are agreed upon – as un-budging as ever. Your reaction, therefore, is understandable.
Q: Even for a magazine that promotes nonviolence, what you DO promote does nothing to convince us that your culture is backwards and barbaric.
It is hard to figure out what you are saying. Perhaps you wrote in extreme anger, and so stated the opposite of what you intended.
As regards our culture, we agree with you that, over time, we have accepted influences of the east and the west, have moved away much from Islam, and, therefore, it deserves to be called ‘backwards,’ but to call it barbaric is being barbarically ignorant. Those who stole lands from the Palestinians, (getting the theft sanctioned by the UNO), planted European Jews on those lands, armed them to their teeth, allowed them expansion after expansion, supported them with 39 vetoes in the UNO, continue to donate billions of dollars every year, plus latest arms at virtually no cost, allow it to isolate indigenous populations in Gazza, flatten 18,000 homes within a month, through aerial bombings, do not allow even food to reach them, and then smile from ear to ear at the immense sufferings, are, in reality, those who deserve to be called barbaric. That is our opinion, but your opinion would favor them, because they give you complete freedom (to do evil) and equal economic opportunity.
Q: You generalize western attitudes towards women and morality, cherry-pick instances of western depravity, and defend your culture while unwittingly displaying your intolerance and foolishness.
We are neither defending our culture, nor defaming any other. We are informing and educating.
As for generalizing Western attitudes, we try to reflect their general attitudes. Their media eulogizes their attitudes; we expose their negative aspects. True, it is hurtful to the Americans. But, shouldn’t they also realize that there is much dirt under the carpet?
Q: The fact that you are giving advice to people and guiding children is shameful. That you discourage music and sex, two of the oldest and most natural forms of life and expression, betrays insecurity rather than wisdom.
If sexual interactions retained ‘natural forms,’ there wouldn’t be any need to criticize.
Sexual perversion in the West has now reached such levels that it threatens the survival of, first the West, and then the inhabitants of rest of the world. The present birth rate of anything between 1.2 to 1.4 prevailing in the Western hemisphere, against the healthy rate of 1.8, promises to wipe out Western communities. A lot is being written by your experts on this demographic issue, and you need to pay them attention instead of reacting with us angrily, at our criticism.
Q: You say western civilization is on the verge of collapse.
Wrong; it your own think tanks who are saying this. But, there seems to be difference of opinion between them. While some are saying that the Western civilization is on the verge of collapse, others are saying that it has already begun to collapse and that it is in a non-reversible situation.
Q: From the standpoint of the people who live here, this is not only wrong, but laughable. It is understandable, however, that you preach this. Activists of all oppressive religions use it to control their followers, who have never experienced anything else.
That is, as your experts say, part of the problem. American public is kept ignorant, in order that they do not create trouble for those who are sucking out blood from their economy. They are kept ignorant with the help of day after day hectic economic activities, then given sedatives on weekdays, (sex, drug, and wine), and kept on their nerves by promises that if they did not accept their passive role, terrorists will take over America.
Q: As an outsider, I beg you and your Muslim brothers and sisters: stop preaching intolerance and denying humanity!
To differ and criticize is not intolerance. Criticism, which has been a hallmark of American way of life and culture, should be encouraged. It always leads to betterment. Had you read a few issues of our magazine, you would have seen how criticism of our own deviations, of our own people, our own leaders, is spread all over its pages, throughout its issues. That does not make us intolerant of each other.
Intolerance is a growing disease which has ignorance, false pride, failed economies, governance, and religious systems as the prime reasons, and, although Muslim societies are not immune, the phenomenon is being detected more in non-Muslim societies.
Q: And, most of all, please stop being intimidated of progress, of science, of women, of culture and of life! It does nothing but keep people stupid and what is worse, ignorant of their stupidity.
A single word ‘progress’ has two concepts. To you, it means one thing; to us, another. To you, it means material progress; while, to us, moral and spiritual. To you, tall buildings, wide roads, newest model cars, unbound freedom for men and women, etc. are signs of progress. But we believe this is ‘progress of the materials;’ and not of mankind. The belief implanted by Islam is that despite the abundance of these elements, a nation could be regressing. To the Westerners visiting say Dubai, Manama, Doha or Riyadh, the region has much progressed when compared to the times half a century back. To the Islamists, these nations and its peoples have much regressed when compared with the previous half a century. We believe the good qualities that the Arab peoples of this region possessed before this ‘material progress’ came in, have suffered erosion. If the kind of progress they have been achieving is not arrested, soon they will be doing things that will decrease their birth rate to 1.2, and it will not be because of poverty.
The American leadership tends to propagate that our criticism of the American ways is because ‘we are envious of its progress.’ But, what is it of the modern material things this region doesn’t have that it should be envious of them? In fact, American Research shows that Saudi women possess more wealth and property than American women do.
Nevertheless, the progress of women, of the kind achieved by USA and others, is certainly a fearful thing, as it is proving to be fearful to American males, giving them a justification for their sexual preferences.
Q: I have no hope that this will make you change your mind, but intolerance and ignorance is something worth speaking out against. Your work does nothing but promote misunderstanding and tension. I hope your readers will, one day, embrace life and lay down the fears you have instilled in them.
You believe that we will not change our mind. We will, by Allah’s grace. But not towards the way the Americans think and live; rather, towards a more responsible life. Intolerance, prejudice, ignorance, disasters in the air, water, soil, forests, farms, and, not to forget, American military and cultural invasion of the East, in general, and the Middle East, in particular, are threatening the very existence of life on this planet. No, we are not ready to change except towards a morally and spiritually better life.
Q: Shame on you.
Your starting with “Dear Sir,” and ending with “Shame on you” tells us that the tolerance that you preach needs to be defined.
That apart, we advise you to get better informed – if you care for your country, first and foremost. You may, for instance, consult the writings of: Chris Hedges, Mike Whitney, Jonathan Latham, Ralph Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Finnian Cunningham, Jonathan Cook, Noam Chomsky, Alfred Lilienthal, Michael Parenti, Norman Finklestein, Pepe Escobar, John Pilger, Patrick J. Buchanan, John Perkins, Jonathan Steele, Robert Fisk, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Michel Chossudovsky, Ward Churchill, Michael Scheuer, Gerald Celente, David DeGraw and many others. None of them has any sympathy for Islam, and all are men of distinction. You may discover that they are more severe and persistent than us in criticism of the way America has been going. It would be an interesting exercise for you to read out the so-called hurtful anti-American stuff in our magazine, and then consult a few of these leading figures to discover, how miserably this magazine fails in portraying as mere sparks, what are portrayed by them as bombshells.
Your words ‘shame upon you’ have a different impact on us. It is a matter of shame that during its 40 years of publication, this magazine could not create the much desired one-page column devoted to non-Muslim readers. The proverb “drops add up to an ocean,” fails with us when coins did not add up to a million.
Q: I run a company called Tackyon in India. I have been stuck in losses due to no fund availability for hiring manpower and, thus, have incurred liability of Taxes. I wish if there was some help from the elders, I would be able to reinstate life back and shall also be able to provide employment to others.
I feel that you would show me the way to resolve this issue and help me grow the business back again.
We are sorry for your predicament. May Allah help you out. You should have good hope in Him and keep struggling. It is the persistent who survive. You should also understand that, at present, business and finances at entrepreneur level are not doing well enough. It is the corporate sector which makes its money, no matter what the environment for small businesses. At the market level, competitions are high, wages are rising, and profit yield is low. These factors demand grittiness, hard work, and intelligent handling.
On our part, we are not, regretfully, in any position to offer any kind of help. With trust in Allah, and in your own self, you may keep on doing your best, even if that means working 20 hours a day, and involving your dear ones in works that can be done from the home.
Q: I would like to know what is the position of Imam Abu Hanifa, when it comes to face veil? And also of the other Imams. I have tried searching it out, but I have only come across contradicting views which either say that all four schools thought it to be fard or that everyone except Imam Abu Hanifa considered it fard. Can you please shed light on this? And also what would you say about a woman covering her feet but not her face?
When a people find it difficult to come to terms with the demands of their religion, they look for variant opinions. That leads to the discovery of several opinions. Those who wish to cross over, pick the view that suits them. This explains the confusion that other, straightforward folks, run into.
The entire Ummah has been of the opinion, until men decided to unburden themselves of the responsibility to run the family, that a Muslim woman should cover herself head to foot. She could go out into the markets, cross the deserts, ride the seas, but must cover herself vertically and horizontally.
Abu Haneefa’s opinion– which was tacitly approved by others – was that she could uncover her face, in the absence of fitnah. The place was of no concern. She could cover or uncover her face within the living quarters or without, according to the fitnah.
How was fitnah defined? It was defined as ajanib’s second, lustful look. Women, being capable of differentiating between lustful look and an innocent look, would decide when to pull down the veil.
Women should remember that, except for lustful looks, the males can give her nothing. As office workers, they must show sexual favors to keep their jobs. As refugees, they must suffer rape at the hand of whoever is in charge of them, even if those in charge are the UN workers. As a beggar in the street, she doesn’t get a coin more than a male beggar. So, why should they unveil herself? Is it possible that the males who want her to uncover her face, have ideas and intentions other than what they avow as ‘women’s liberation’?
Why should women not force the message upon the males, that a woman behind the face-covering must be valued for what she is, and can be, if given equal opportunity, rather than for her facial and physical features?
By enforcing veil on women, is Islam demeaning her, or honoring her?
Q: I have been reading your magazine for quite some time and get to learn a lot, especially from the Q&A section and the editorial. My question is – I want to study more about Islam; so what should I start with and how to proceed further? Is there any pedagogy or any curriculum that I need to follow? Please throw some light on this subject, especially for people who are educated in secular fields but have no, or very limited knowledge, about Islam but have the eagerness to learn.
Eagerness is the main thing. Those who are eager will be guided by Allah to the paths that lead to Him. Eagerness also promises the second qualifying factor: consistency. Thus armed you should start with the simplest and move to the complex. A good grip on the ‘general features of Islam’ would require anything between five to ten years – depending on time spent daily – after which you can attempt specialization in a specific discipline: Tafsir, Hadith, Seerah, History, Tasawwuf, etc. You may read the following as starters, following the same order:
- Islam the Religion You can no Longer Ignore: Syed Iqbal Zaheer
- Towards Understanding Islam: Mawlana Mawdudi
- Islam the Misunderstood Religion: Muhammad Qutb
- Islamic Faith and Practice: Mawlana Manzoor Nu`mani
- Islam: Faith and Practice: Muhammad Mustafa Ayoub
- Islam: Fazlur Rahman
- Milestones: Sayyid Qutb
The Prophet’s Biography
- Muhammad, the Unlettered Prophet who Changed the World in 23 years: Syed Iqbal Zaheer
- Life of Muhammad: Tehya Isma`il
- Al-Raheeq al-Makhtum: Mubarkpuri
- Life of Muhammad: Muhammad Hussein Haykal
- A Biography of the Prophet of Islam: Mahdi RizqAllah, tr. Syed Iqbal Zaheer
- Seerat Rasulullah: Ibn Ishaq, Tr. Alfred Guillaume
- The 40 Hadith of Nawawi
- Al-Adab al-Mufrad: Imam Bukhari, UK Islamic Academy
- Riyadh al-Salihin with commentary
- Fake Pearls: Syed Iqbal Zaheer
- Translation of the Qur’an as done by Sahih International
- Tafsir Ibn Kathir
- Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani: Syed Iqbal Zaheer
- Fi Zilal al-Qur’an, Juz 30: Sayyid Qutb
These books are for the starters, the sophomores, sort of those who have been attending halaqas, or reading some magazines, but never exposed to literary works. This study will give one an overall, but correct view of Islam. Books of each discipline must be studied (not read) in the same order. They are in the order of simple to complex. It is recommended that one stops reading all else, except for magazines such as Young Muslim Digest or Al-Jumu`ah which offer authentic material. It would cause no harm if they too are avoided.
It is after one has finished the above, that more serious and intellectually challenging books can be recommended.
If somebody thinks the above list is overburdening, the answer would be: they were never meant for him. It is for the serious. A learned man is noble: noble in his own eyes, and noble in the sight of Allah. The Qur’an asks:
“Are those who know, and those who do not know, equal?”
Q. I am a twelfth standard student from J&K state and I want your help in deciding which Tafseer I should read. I am confused, because some say Ibn Kathir is authentic, some Tafheem of Moulana Mawdudi. Also suggest me some Islamic books so that with the help of Allah (swt) and with your help, I will become a good student.
Tafsir is a difficult discipline. One needs to have done a basic course in Islam before he or she can start with Tafsir. In fact, for a sophomore, even a translation of the Qur’an could prove arduous. Arab children do not find it very challenging because its admonitory part is – in Arabic – simple. They understand the other parts gradually, as they grow older and intellectually mature. For you, it will be all the more difficult: you do not know Arabic, are still young (by Indian standards), and immature of mind (thanks to Indian educational system and its incubatory culture).
Therefore, we recommend that you adopt, for study, the books recommended above, taking up the Qur’an last. Try to finish the course in about a year from now.
Do not depend on Allah’s help or on our guidance. Start off seriously. Allah’s help comes in time. When His help comes along, you will not need our guidance. He will guide you on: if you are sincere in your purposes.