What’s a good modern biography of Prophet Muhammad?

Can you recommend a good bibliography of the prophet Muhammad pbuh. I’ve read one so far but I didn’t like it. The style of the author was too heavy.

I just read Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet and it is extremely good. I think it should be required reading for every Muslim. It focuses on the personality and spiritual teachings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, rather than focusing on unnecessary technical details.

Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time is also good.

(I assumed you meant biography)

What to recite next after finishing salah

After finishing salah what should be reciting next? and are you meant to do dhikr after each fard prayer?

You can do various forms of dhikr or dua. The most common dhikr, which is done after every prayer, is to say subhanAllah 33 times, alhamdulillah 33 times, and allahu akbar 33 times, mentioned in Sahih Bukhari. You can also shorten these to ten each, aslo mentioned in Sahih Bukhari.

You can also recite any other dhikr words you know if you choose.

After that, you can perform dua, or stand up to pray the voluntary salah, if there is a voluntary salah associated with the obligatory one.

Can a person perform the ritual washing of a dead spouse’s body?

Regarding the ruling of washing a dead body; can a man or woman wash the body of their spouse? In my East Asian culture the scholars say that the nikah is ended when one of the spouse dies, and therefore it’s haraam to wash their body. I tried on islamqa, but their not giving a definite answer.

The Saudi scholar Ibn Baaz says there is nothing wrong with washing a spouse’s body. He mentions that Asmaa’ bin Umais (the wife of Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him and her) washed Abu Bakr’s body when he died, and that Fatima (daughter of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family) washed Ali’s body.

Dealing with parents who disrespect and fight each other

I would like to ask about my family problem. My parents have been fighting for years. My father no longer talks to my mother although he tried to make amends once. My mother constantly talk bad about my father to me and my siblings. She is always full of hatred and anger towards my father. I’m afraid with time I’ll begin to hate my father as well. What is the view in Islam about parents talking bad about their partner to their kids? Where should I stand in this? Thank you.

What your parents are doing is against Islamic teachings. What you should do is stay neutral and respectful toward both of them. If one parent does something unjust toward the other parent or toward one of the children, if you can help prevent it without causing greater harm, then you should try, without belittling or offending either parent.

In your situation, one thing you can do is encourage your siblings to think the best of your father so that they are not unjustly biased against him by your mother’s words. Since your father is not speaking to her and allowing the situation to continue as it is, it appears that both parents are responsible for the bad situation, therefore it is best to not take sides but try to be fair toward both.

If there was anything you could to improve their relationship, then that would be a good thing to do, although it is unlikely. Anything you try could do greater harm than good, since they are older than you and know much more about each other than you do.

Please also see my answer On Islamic Manners Toward Parents.

On Islamic Manners Toward Parents

What to do if you cannot find interesting and like-minded Muslims to befriend

I have experienced bad things in Muslim communities for so many years that it led me to giving up religion and I went astray. After going through many hardships in life alhamdulillah I came back to the Deen to take shelter. However I’m afraid of mixing with Muslims again. They are shallow at their thinking, even non Muslims understand me better and try to help. I’m tired of being judged yet I want to belong to a community or at least have Muslim friends so I’m not alone. How can I find balance?

Your experience of not finding mixing with other Muslims uplifting, although disheartening, is common. The Medieval scholar Ibn al-Jawzi mentions the same thing, and one of the primary pieces of advice he offers in his book of advice Sayd al-Khatir is that one shouldn’t mix too much with others, because most people are not very spiritual and will harm rather than benefit your faith.

When it comes to most Muslims, Islam is just a small add-on on top of their personalities and characters, so that if their personalities and characters are not compatible with yours, Islam will do little to change things. The exceptions are those who have taken Islamic spirituality to heart and try to follow Quranic manners in everything, but such people are rare, and you will be lucky to meet one among a hundred Muslims you meet.

There are different sections of society, each section having its own interests, character and manners. What Islam means for one section can be very different to what it means for another, therefore if you try to engage the wrong section, you will may not get anything satisfactory out of it.

I love reading, but the majority of people, including the majority of Muslims, do not. The people I like to befriend are those who enjoy reading and learning, and such people are few. This means that most people I meet are not going to be the type I can enjoy spending time with, even if they are good people and I like them.

Your experience might be the same. This is also the experience of many genetically European converts to Islam, who want to find fellow Muslims who are interested in intellectual topics, who care about the long-term good of the community and want to plan things and solve problems, but who discover that most people in the community do not care very much about these things. Perhaps this is what you meant when you said you find most Muslims shallow.

The type of people you like might be rare and perhaps not present in your local community. The internet can be a great help in overcoming this issue. You can find like-minded Muslims from around the world and follow them and perhaps befriend them. The people I keep in contact with over the internet are far higher in quality as friends compared to anyone I know at my local community.

Feeling lonely is a common experience if you are different from the people around you. You must first accept this reality, knowing that this is how things will always be unless God grants you the deep friendship of someone. In the end, it is only God who can cure our loneliness. He can arrange things for us, plan for us and facilitate things for us so that we are no longer lonely, if He wishes, if the time is right and if we deserve it. For this reason this is a thing that must be sought through God more than through any other means.

Just another day on reddit

Reddit, being a neo-Marxist-owned-and-operated site (Condé Nast), continues the admirable Marxist tradition of managing narratives and stamping out dissent. Ban people like it is 1917!

I expect these ideological dinosaurs to be widely recognized for what they are within the next ten years.

(The /r/news forum on Reddit is one of the “default” forums run by the company for the benefit of the benevolent billionaires who own our media and  politicians.)

Islam’s theory of free will versus physical determinism: Why humans are responsible for their actions even though God operates the universe

Emission Nebula

In your essay “God, Evolution and Abiogenesis,” you said an atom has no power to move on its own. It is God who has to move every single thing that moves in this world. Given that, does that mean we don’t have free will? On the atomic level, it is due to the chemical reactions and the firing of neurons in our brains that we think and make decisions. So, since God is responsible for everything that’s in motion (including atoms), then isn’t God to blame for all my immoral actions?

Your soul is “plugged into” this universe without being part of it. When you desire to lift up your hand, the desire is yours, therefore you are responsible for this action, but it is God who actually has to move the atoms (and everything else) for your hand to actually move.

When you play a video game, you can issue a command for your game character to lift its hand. You personally have no power to lift the character’s hand, it is the video game engine that actually has to carry your command out, and if the video game engine malfunctions, no matter how many times you issue the command for your character to do something, it may not do it.

When your soul, which is independent from this universe, issues a command, it is fully responsible for this command. But this command is nothing but a feeble wish, it has zero power to change the universe. It is God who has to communicate the soul’s commands to your body, and it is God who has to carry the command out by moving the universe, since nothing in this universe has the power or ability to move or change by itself.

So your soul is free, it is not part of the functioning of this universe. This universe can be thought of as a simulation that is entirely upheld and operated by God. Your soul has no power except to wish for things, and God can transfer these wishes to the body that is temporarily under a human’s control inside our universe. When a person dies, the soul is simply “unplugged” from the universe, and when the person is resurrected, the soul is plugged back into a new body in a different universe, or an outer universe inside of which our universe is contained.

Since He wants us to have the choice of disbelieving in Him, He always reliably operates this universe for us, making us think that we have control over our brains and bodies, and making us think that this universe would function by itself even if there was no God. This is a necessary part of the design of the universe, to make faith in God a choice.

Imagine yourself as sitting in a room outside of this universe, holding a remote control that enables you to send commands to your brain and body which are inside the universe. You are responsible for the commands you issue, but you do not have any power or authority to cause a change within the universe. God (or some mechanism laid down by Him) changes the universe so that the command is carried out. He does this so reliably for us that we are tricked into thinking that we have power over this universe.

In reality, the view of the universe we arrive at from the Quran is that it is a simulation-like thing upon which humans have zero power. The human soul is temporarily given the illusion of control over a body, and as the soul issues commands, God moves the body in response, as part of everything else He does in operating this universe.

Saying the soul is independent of this universe does not mean that it is not affected by it. By being plugged into this universe, it experiences it and responds to it. When a human is presented with a temptation, the physical body (and I include the brain in this), which belongs to this universe, responds to it and desires it. The soul, however, maintains final judgment on whether the human succumbs to the temptation or not. The stronger the temptation is, the less room there is for the soul to exert control over the physical body, and the weaker the temptation, the more control the soul has over the body. For this reason we are not always, perhaps never, entirely responsible for the bad deeds we do, the environment affects us and pushes us toward some things. The mistake is in thinking that the environment completely controls us, which is what some atheists say. The Quran says that while the environment affects us, our soul maintains its independence, being able to go against the environment if it wants.

God could prevent all evil from happening, since all that He has to do is stop carrying out an evil person’s intentions, or cause slight changes so that a terrible accident does not happen. I explain why He does not prevent evil things from taking place in my essay Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Humans would have had no responsibility for their actions if they were merely brains and bodies, similar to other animals. If things were so, they would be parts of this universe, and everything they do would be a consequence of the motion of particles and forces within the universe, similar to the actions of bacteria in a pond. But when a soul is plugged into the body, the soul “rides” the body, taking charge of it, directing it, and being responsible for it.

At times, the physical body is out of control, such as when under the influence of a drug, or due to mental illness, or due to witnessing some horrible crime. When this happens, when the soul loses control over the brain and body, it is no longer responsible for what the brain and body do until it regains control.

Our responsibility for a sinful act increases as the involvement of the soul increases. If there is no terrible temptation making us partially lose control over the human body that we control, if our sin is done in cold blood while having full control over the earthly body, then this is a far greater sin than a sin done out of overwhelming desire.

This concept also applies to good deeds. A person who forces their unwilling earthly body to do a good deed is going to deserve higher rewards than a person who only does good deeds that make them feel good. It is for this reason that Umar ibn Abdul Aziz says:

The best good deeds are those that one has to force the ego to perform.

When your ego wants to do evil and your soul overcomes it and prevents it from doing it, or your ego dislikes to do a good deed but your soul overcomes it and forces it to do it, in both of these cases you deserve reward, you used your free will to go against the environment, against the ego your soul is plugged into.

The ego is the earthly body’s sense of self. Even if humans had no free will, if they were merely animals, they would still have an ego. This ego makes them seek what they desire and avoid what they do not desire. The soul is an add-on over the ego, able to override it or go along with it. The ego is arrogant, loves pleasures and dislikes work. The soul can submit to it and do as the ego pleases. It can also receive guidance, submit to God and go against the ego when the ego desires something harmful.

You will meet some humans who mostly live inside their egos. The soul has nearly fully relinquished all control, letting the ego make nearly all of their decisions for them. These people are greedy, power-hungry and love pleasures, they are kind and loving toward their own families (since it is an animal instinct to be this way toward one’s own family), but have no empathy or understanding for others. If their child unjustly beats up someone else’s child, they will continue to defend their own child without caring about right or wrong, since they judge things based on the ego, and the ego wants what is good for the human animal’s interests and does not care about justice.

An easy way to find out if someone lives in their ego is to ask yourself, “Will this person help me if helping me required them to do something that gave them some inconvenience and discomfort?” People who live in their egos will generally only help others if helping others is easy and costs them nothing. If there is any cost involved, they immediately ignore the person who is asking for help, treating them as an annoyance to be gotten rid of. But if helping others will bring them fame and praise, they will do it.

The concepts mentioned in this answer are not meant to be used in scientific discussions with atheists, they help explain the Quranic view on these matters for people who have already accepted the truth of the Quran. The concepts in this essay are also useful in discussions with atheists like Sam Harris who falsely claim that the theory of physical determinism proves free will wrong. If the universe was physically determinate, there would be no free will. But there is no proof for this, as I will explain. What they say is similar to saying “If God did not exist, then there would be no God.” In reality, we can have a perfectly scientific universe that appears physically determinate, while also having free will that operates in parallel to it, and which to a scientist appears either as randomness or as a chaotic and emergent behavior

There is no proof that free will exists, the same way there is no proof that God exists. All that we have is soft evidence (rather than hard evidence) that the Quran is true, and once we have accepted the Quran as true, we accept that both God and free will exist.

Male privilege versus female privilege

The above is a comment from reddit. This is a common mistake among the men’s rights movement, that there is something wrong with women dictating what a “real man” is. The truth is that each gender has its own standards for determining whether a person of the oppose sex is “relationship material” or “marriage material”.

Since from a relationship perspective, a man’s worth is as much about things outside of himself (success, charisma) as it is about innate qualities, women’s standards are going to be extremely fluid and seemingly arbitrary, since what women seek in a man is success, and success can come in all kinds of garbs. In an African tribe, a real man is any man who is successful within that specific environment, who is best capable of defending and providing for himself, his women and his children.

In a Western society, a real man is the same; the man who is most capable of defending and providing for himself, his women and his children. But since the environment is different, the requirements are different.

So there is nothing actually arbitrary about a woman’s standards. She cares about success and uses various heuristics to find out a man’s level of success. If she meets a man who is not very wealthy, but who has great charisma, good manners and sensitivity, then she will consider him a real man. If she finds another man who has $50 million dollars in the bank, but who is somewhat rude and selfish, she will consider him too a real man, even though she wouldn’t accept this type of behavior from the previous (less wealthy) man.

Perhaps 3/4 of a man’s worth depends on his capacity to protect and provide. His looks and other innate qualities (manners, kindness) determine the remaining quarter of his worth.

When it comes to judging whether a woman is a “real woman”, which I will interpret as “marriage material”, men too have their own criteria which may seem arbitrary to females. Men do not care about her wealth and success, these are just the icing on the cake, while when it comes to a man’s worth, his wealth and success is most of the cake.

A woman’s quality is judged based on her beauty, youth and loyalty, the qualities necessary for ensuring successful long-term relationships and healthy, high-quality children.

A man’s quality, too, is judged based on his wealth and success for the same reason, to ensure a successful long-term relationship and healthy, high-quality children.

So, in reality, both genders have the privilege of determining which specimens of the other gender are worthy when it comes to marriage and reproduction and which ones are not. This is called sexual selection, and it is essential for the survival of all sexually-reproducing species. There needs to be a mechanism by which a woman can differentiate between multiple male suitors and choose the best one among them and discard the worst ones, and there needs to be a similar mechanism for men.

I explain in further detail men’s preference for  youth and lack of sexual experience in my essays The Most Desirable Women for Marriage are in their Early Twenties and Sexually Inexperienced and Why do traditional societies care so much about a woman’s virginity?

 

LGBT rights versus religion: Refuting “everyone should do what makes them happy as long as it doesn’t affect others”

Ludgate, Evening by John O’Connor (1887)

The statement “everyone should do what makes them happy as long as it doesn’t affect others” is from a reddit comment I saw. It aptly sums up the common secularist Western mindset toward things like gay marriage. The one who says it generally assumes this is an undeniable and inalienable right, meaning that there is absolutely no way anyone with a functioning brain, common sense and a lack of religious brainwashing should oppose it. It is perhaps an extension of the train of thought so well-put in America’s Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The problem with it, however, is that it assumes that humanity is purposeless. This is not surprising, since the people who believe in it are secularists to a greater or lesser degree. But if humanity has a purpose, then the statement is false. People should not pursue what makes them happy, even if it doesn’t affect others, they should pursue whatever serves their purpose.

Therefore, embracing the statement is not a sign of being modern and enlightened, and opposing it is not a sign of backwardness and a lack of empathy for others. The difference is not between being modern or backward, the difference is in whether you consider humanity purposeless or purposeful. If humanity is purposeless, they should peaceably follow their instincts, as the statement advocates. If humanity has a purpose, humans should fulfill that purpose, instead of (merely) peaceably following their instincts.

If you have a purpose, and if acting upon an instinct goes against your purpose, then it logically follows that you shouldn’t do it.

Therefore the right to do as you please as long as it doesn’t harm others is self-evident and inalienable only if you presuppose that humans are purposeless (that there is not a God who has designated certain purposes for humanity). Since the religious do not presuppose these, they do not believe in the statement.

In a society in which both religious and irreligious people live, whose word should take precedence, since there is no hard evidence for humanity having a purpose?

Generally, as is happening in Australia, opposition to things like gay marriage are portrayed as ignorance and backwardness, since the liberals who support these things are completely and utterly incapable of seeing the religious viewpoint (that the existence of purpose requires avoiding the fulfillment of certain desires), they rather, just as ignorantly and closed-mindedly as any religious person, start with their own unproven presupposition (that humanity is purposeless), then illogically and irrationally use this to “prove” that homosexual marriage is an inalienable right.

You cannot prove something using an unproven supposition, whether you are religious or liberal. The religious cannot prove that homosexual marriage is “wrong”, and the liberal cannot prove that homosexual marriage is “right”, since the root of the disagreement is in whether humanity has a purpose or not, something about which there is no hard evidence, whether to prove it or disprove it.

Therefore in a democratic society where both religious and irreligious people live side-by-side, instead of turning the matter into a barbaric scuffle filled with hatred, calls for blood and utter lack of empathy for the other, it should be settled democratically. The religious believe that it harms humanity’s purpose to practice homosexual marriage or tolerate it, the irreligious do not believe this. If the society is democratic, then each has the right to work for what they believe to be right like civilized humans, rather than like quarreling schoolchildren.

Those who support homosexual marriage will say that it is their inalienable right to enjoy the type of marriage they choose, what right does society have to dictate things for them? Society dictates many things on people to prevent things it considers harmful. If God exists and dislikes homosexual marriage and punishes those who engage in it, and if the spread of homosexual marriage means that society will tolerate it more, so that more of the children of the religious will be influenced by it and perhaps engage in it, then it logically follows that the religious should oppose homosexual marriage for the good of their children and societies.

You could say that the spread of homosexual marriage will not affect the choices of the religious, since they are free what they do. But that’s like saying the spread of child pornography and rape pornography is OK since people are free whether they actually molest children or rape people. Most people, including liberals, are opposed to the toleration of child pornography and rape pornography because they think it “normalizes” these things and makes it more likely for people to engage in them. The exact same logic applies to homosexual marriage; tolerating it normalizes it, which makes it more likely for people to engage in it. If the behavior is harmless, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the religious consider it harmful.

Therefore the religious opposition to homosexuality is not illogical; It is based on logic that begins with an unproven presupposition (that humans have a purpose, i.e. that God exists and commands things), while the liberal position is also based on logic that begins with an unproven presupposition (that humans are purposeless, that God does not exist or that He does not command things or certain things).

Therefore while as a liberal you have the right to work for what you consider your rights, you’d be wrong to think that an opposition to gay marriage is illogical or irrational, it uses the same methods you use (logic that starts with an unproven supposition) to reach the conclusion that gay marriage should be prohibited. If the religious are illogical and irrational for basing their thinking on an unproven supposition, you too are illogical and irrational for basing your thinking on an unproven supposition.

One could go on to say that the burden of proof is on the religious to prove that there is any validity to religious thinking, that the starting point of human rationality is irreligion, therefore an irreligious supposition (that humans are purposeless) does not require proof, while a religious supposition (that humans have purpose) requires proof.

This argument is incorrect because rationalism does not begin at irreligion, but at a state of confusion that seeks answers, which may either lead to religion or irreligion. There is much soft evidence to direct one toward religion, as I explain in my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species, while there are also things that make one doubt the validity of religion, such as the fact that there is no hard evidence for it.

Therefore the two positions are equal; whether you presuppose the existence of purpose when you oppose homosexual marriage, or you presuppose its lack when you support homosexual marriage, you are performing exactly the same logical exercise. You either adopted religion and used it to derive principles, or you adopted irreligion and used it to derive principles.

The liberals and and the religious both started at the same place (confusion), were exposed to the world and its experiences, then used their rational brains to arrive at differing conclusions. From a moral and ethical standpoint, liberals have no right to belittle certain humans for using their rational brains to arrive at conclusions that differ from theirs. If they respected human rights, human dignity, ethics and the democratic process, they would respectfully disagree with the religious instead of dehumanizing them.

As the (atheist) writer Terry Pratchett says, evil starts when people are treated as things. If it is evil to dehumanize gay people, it is also evil to dehumanize those who oppose gay marriage. Gays and those who oppose gay marriage are both humans, and a fair-minded person will never forget this humanity and the respect and kindness it necessitates.

I consider the whole issue of gay marriage a symptom of the West’s decline, rather than a cause. It is exactly the same as the issue of sex outside of marriage. Christians who themselves engage in sex outside of marriage and other mortal sins (like usury) cannot help but appear as utter hypocrites when they oppose gay marriage.

The gay marriage issue is very useful, as it helps distract attention away from society’s actual problems. If half of the country is foaming at the mouth with anger as they support or oppose gay marriage, they will have little time and energy to critique the utter corruption of their governments, the fact that the banks control their economies, the fact that a few people own and control most of their country’s major media outlets.

And to a neo-Marxist leftist (which is what most of the people who run the mainstream media and academia are), the gay marriage issue is useful in driving wedges into society, making one section fight another, and reaping power and profit from the process; delegitimizing religion and religious institutions and making their own ideologies replace them, making themselves the heroes of the supposedly oppressed, and enforcing a militant culture of political correctness where no one dares to oppose them and stand up to them. They are the good ones, after all, and if you disagree you are a bad, bad non-human!

It is the Marxist project all over again, making one section of society hate the other (workers against capitalists, women against men, minorities against whites, LGBT against the religious), and reaping immense power and profit from the process, with zero concern for the lives destroyed, the decay in manners, the utter lack of respect for ethics, the dehumanization and promotion of hatred and violence against millions of innocent people. If millions suffer in the process, let God sort them out; almost no one remembers the 11 million innocent Christian men, women and children murdered by the Marxists. If our new Marxists do the same in promoting the dehumanization of millions of people and violence toward them, who cares as long as they get to gain power, influence, fame and outrageous salaries as pundits, non-profit executives, academic bureaucrats and career victims?

Why does God oppose homosexuality and gay marriage?

If you are interested in the technical reasons why religion opposes gay marriage (i.e. we know that God doesn’t like homosexuality, but why is this so?), see my essay On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims. While this essay is written from an Islamic perspective, the reasons why Islam opposes gay marriage are similar to the reasons why Christians do it.

Should Muslims boycott the Hajj because of Saudi repression and war crimes?

I’ve read that when we do hajj we are financially supporting the Saudi government to oppress people in it’s country and also to kill people in Yemen. Is it true that they use hajj revenue for bad stuff?

I doubt there is a major country in the world that does not kill innocent people whenever it suits its political goals. Doing business with them or buying products from them always in some way supports them in doing this.

The United States is responsible for the murder of somewhere between 500,000 and 2 million innocent Afghans through staging the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. It is also responsible the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians through its regime change and war-mongering operations. This means that doing any business with the US in some way supports them in doing these things.

And yet there are millions of Muslims living in the US, paying taxes, and in this way supporting the US government.

A government is not a single beast. It is made up of various groups, often conflicting, each working for its own interests. Parts of it does much good, for example the US government and thousands of American charities have saved millions of lives around the world. Technologies developed in the US have helped save millions more lives through making farming more efficient and in this way bringing down the price of food.

We cannot, therefore, treat a government like an individual and make a final judgment on it when it is something very complex and made up of millions of individuals with varying degrees of morality. When American Muslims pay taxes, while supporting the US military, they also support it in taking care of millions of poor people, in doing scientific research and in carrying out various projects for the benefit of humanity.

In return for paying taxes, American Muslims get to enjoy the freedom to practice their religion in a peaceful and prosperous country. This is a great privilege that takes priority over the US government’s immoral actions. While we criticize the government and try to stop its immoral and unethical deeds, we recognize that good that it does, and recognize that living the US and paying taxes is preferable to living in a war zone or in a tyrannical country. There is no such thing as an all-good government, therefore we must operate within the limits of what is possible, enjoining good and forbidding wrong wherever we can.

The same applies to the Saudi government. By going to the Hajj, we carry out an important religious duty, we support the Saudi government in taking care of Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, and we support it in providing welfare for millions of its citizens, while also supporting its oppressive government and its murder of Yemenis.

The Saudi government is also partially responsible for all of America’s wars, because through its petrodollar agreement with the US, it ensures that the US dollar remains the world’s reserve currency, and this enables the US to print trillions of dollars and use it to wage wars without fearing poverty. The Saudi’s have enabled the US to have a free source of cash wherever they need it, and in return they get US weapons and support.

It is a question of whether the good of performing the hajj outweighs the evils of supporting the Saudi government. Most people think that the good outweighs the bad, meaning that performing the Hajj is justifiable even if it in some way supports the Saudi government.

Whenever you do business with anyone who does not have good morals, you support them in doing any immorality they do. But Islam does not prohibit us from doing business with them, because the facts of reality are complicated, and we must do what circumstances require, rather than closing ourselves off and expecting perfection from the world. Tumblr, Facebook and Google are all Jewish companies and all of them support Israel to some degree. Yet we use their services, because we (rightly or wrongly) think that the good of using their services outweighs the vague evil of their support for Israel. Ideally, we’d have alternatives to these services, owned and operated by better people. But realistically, since there are no such services, we cannot give up their services, because the loss we suffer from avoiding these services is greater than any good we do by avoiding their services.

Avoiding these sites is somewhat similar to cutting your house’s electricity because the electricity company’s owner is supports Israel. Will you do so, or will you decide that the good of having electricity outweighs the bad of supporting a company owned by a such a person? Most people will choose to continue to have electricity until there is a better alternative.

Even if you went back 500 or 1000 years, you could still find evil deeds that the rulers of Arabia did that would make you question whether doing the Hajj is justifiable. This is not a new problem.

Muslims are free to boycott the Hajj to shame the Saudi government into behaving better, and perhaps if there was a worldwide boycotting movement, it would do good. But this would require the support of many religious leaders, who at the moment are unlikely to support a boycott, since they believe that performing the obligation of Hajj takes priority over reforming the Saudi government. Maybe if things get much worse they will support a boycott. But at the moment there is little political will to do this.

You are free to try to educate Muslims about the mass murder of Yemenis by the Saudi government (which is largely ignored by the West’s media, since it is done with the full support of the US) and to encourage them to boycott the Hajj. But don’t be surprised if most people prefer to do the Hajj despite Saudi’s actions.

Most of the Saudi government’s revenue is from oil, not Hajj. If your country imports oil from Saudi, like most countries do, and you drive a car or pay to use a taxi, then you are in reality sending money to the Saudi government. If someone is really serious about boycotting Saudi, they should also boycott their oil.

Most people don’t like boycotts because they make life difficult. In Islam, the choice is yours. You can boycott the entities you dislike, or you can continue to do business with them if you have to, while working to make the world a better place in whatever way you can, through enjoining good and forbidding, exposing and criticizing wrong.

American anti-Chinese propaganda and Hawramani’s Law of IQ and Political Power

As someone who likes to keep track of Chinese news, not a day passes except I see multiple examples of American fear-mongering toward China. Every other day an expert says that the Chinese economy is right on the edge of collapse. And below is just another example of this all-too-American tripe that Americans swallow up by the millions.

“The world” “should” be wary of this fat Chinese man whose portrait for some reason has the color scheme of a wildfire. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Because we want you to.

It makes me wonder how this type of garbage can be considered respectable media by the people. I haven’t clicked a link to the New York Times or most other American media for years after recognizing them for the unprincipled propaganda tools that they are.

I would have liked to say that a person who takes the Economist and the rest of the West’s presstitute media serious deserves to be lied to for feeding this disgusting machine with their wallets and attention. But, sadly, this includes most of the population. Perhaps an IQ of 130 or more is needed to see through these tools, and such people are rare. This leads me to mention something I have had in mind for a while, Hawramani’s Law of IQ and Political Power:

The political power of a demographic group increases by an order of magnitude for every standard deviation increase in IQ.

This means that Ashkenazi Jews, with their average IQ of around 115, have an order of magnitude more per capita political power compared to whites, with their average IQ of around 100. America’s Jewish population of around 7 million actually has the political power of around 70 million whites (at least), and the facts on the ground show this. In the same way, Indonesia’s 7-10 million Chinese, whose IQ is also about a standard deviation above that of the native Indonesians, have the potential to have the political power of 70-100 million Indonesians, although discriminatory measures against them have limited their power in the past decades.

The same law can be used to examine genetically homogeneous populations as well. In every country, the ruling class is always the same as the high-IQ class. It doesn’t matter whether the country is a monarchy or a democracy. In a monarchy, the high IQ population ends up becoming the aristocracy. In a democracy, the high IQ population ends up filling the top positions in media, academia and government, in this way creating its own aristocracy-by-any-other-name.

So what is the solution to this? There isn’t. Always, everywhere, the clever will have the power to deceive, hoodwink, mislead and defraud the less clever. A country in which the elite does not have principles is going to be ruled by a government, media and academia that does not have principles.

It is, therefore, the duty of the elite to have principles. If they did, this will affect the nature of their government, media and academia. If tens of thousands of high-status lawyers, architects and media personalities called out the Economist’s garbage journalism, they would be disgraced into reforming. But they do not, because they see nothing wrong, since if they were running the Economist, they would act the same as its present managers and writers.

Wherever you see a country whose government, media and academia is corrupt through and through, it is because the country’s elite is corrupt through and through. Therefore the solution to America’s troubles is for the present elite to either acquire principles, or for it to die out and be replaced by another elite that does have principles, and this is going to happen.

In 1850, America’s elite used to judge things by ideals and principles. Since 1950, they have found ideals and principles laughably unfashionable. This state of things is not going to last forever. Their fertility rates are already below-replacement, and they will be replaced by another elite that has ideals and principles, perhaps the signs of this trend will start showing around 2050.

Some mistakenly think that if the present system was dismantled, it could be replaced with a better one. In reality, what happens when you have a corrupt elite is that regardless of how many governments you replace, the nature of the country always remains the same. You cannot force the elite to stop being utterly corrupt, greedy and unprincipled. Latin America’s various failed revolutions are a good example of this.

What to do if strict/intolerant Muslims make you dislike Islam

I’m now making slowly process to turn to Islam (as a Muslim) after years of no Iman. However sometimes I can come across really blogs here that post Islamic posts that are really strict and even dark in someway. I feel like I can’t keep it up if Islam requires me to hate other religions and groups so I end up not performing my prayers etc. because I don’t feel peaceful at my heart. It feels as if I’ve come to the wrong religion.

Generally whenever you stray away from the Quran and put your focus on anything else, you will lose your understanding of God and get an inaccurate and even depressing view of Him and His religion. This is true even if you read books by inspiring writers like Ibn al-Qayyim, who focus too much on certain of God’s characteristics and less on others. Only the Quran is perfectly balanced, all other sources will contain some imbalance that can upset or mislead you.

It is the Quran that defines your mission in life, your principles, your philosophy, your ideals. When people say something that goes against anything in the Quran, reject it and go on with your life.

There is no such thing as an “Islam” that is independent of the Quran. Islam is nothing more or less than the Quran applied to the real world. Read the Quran and you will see that it will not tell you to hate other religions. Read In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan and you will see that the Prophet, peace be upon him, was an example of love and tolerance toward non-Muslims.

You should not allow others to define Islam for you. Do your own reading and learning, and if anyone says something that insults your intelligence or goes against your sense of justice, research it and ask others about it, and you will find out that there is always a sensible answer. Instead of giving in to others when they present a version of Islam that you find unacceptable, find your own tolerant and beautiful version of Islam and use it to challenge theirs.

Many of the “strict” Muslims you see are Salafis who believe that the best way to please God is to follow the authority of hadith as an equal to the Quran, while the school of Islamic thought that I follow is Quran-focused Islam, which considers the Quran the center of Islam. These two different approaches lead to very different types of Islam. Salafism is “strict” and thinks virtue is in strictness, which often leads to an intolerant and judgmental form of Islam, while Quran-focused Islam is tolerant and respects your dignity and individuality.

I describe the problems with Salafism and its alternative in my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely or meaningless

Flowering Azaleas by Marie Egner (c. 1895)

I would appreciate some advice. I pray all my prayers on time and I read Quran daily, along with other forms of worship, but I feel so numb & empty. I feel like I have no purpose in this life, like if I died it won’t even matter. I don’t affect this Ummah in any way. I just work full-time, I’m single, I don’t have friends, my family and relatives are not on good terms, and I have social anxiety so I hate interacting with others. I feel so useless, is there a point to my worship?

It is human nature to want to be productive and achieve things for the sake of any cause you believe in, such as Islam. But ideally, your Islam should not be in any way attached to results.

Even if you were the only remaining human on earth, you can still perfectly apply Islam in your life, achieving your mission in life and a great success in the afterlife.

Your mission is the same as the Prophet’s mission, peace be upon him. It is to read the Quran and apply it wherever you can in your life, living by its manners, principles and philosophy.

When speaking of placing humans on Earth, God said to the angels, “I am placing a steward on Earth.” What is a steward? It is someone who takes care of something, for example a farm, for the sake of its owner, until the owner comes back.

We Muslims (and faithful Christians and others) are stewards on Earth. Our job is to take care of it for the sake of its Master. And this is achieved by following God’s Straight Path. The Straight Path is a program designed to ensure two things: humanity’s long-term survival (by placing various mechanisms to ensure that humanity doesn’t die out), and humanity’s short-term moral integrity (never justifying evil in the name of the greater good, never saying “the end justifies the means”).

We stewards are God’s representatives on Earth, and an important part of our stewardship is to keep God’s remembrance alive:

“And I have chosen you so listen to what is being revealed.
“Indeed, I am God, there is no god except Me, so worship Me and establish the prayer for My remembrance. (The Quran, verses 20:13-14)

Regardless of your situation, you are always able to fully live your life as a Muslim. You do not need anyone else’s involvement, this is something between you and God.

I have lived alone twice in my life, once when I was 18 and another time when I was 27, and both are some of the worst experiences of my life. I understand the difficulty of your situation, and how purposeless and meaningless it feels.

These are the times when your faith in God is tested. Will you think bad thoughts about Him, consider Him incapable of helping you, or consider Him unkind so that He wants you to suffer?

If we are fair-weather friends of God, then we will worship Him and love Him when things are easy, and once things get truly difficult, once our patience is tested, we fail the test and prove that we are unworthy of being honored by Him.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, suffered many hardships during his career that must have seemed purposeless and needless, since God had the power to protect him at all times and to ensure the very best for him. For 13 years he and his followers had to suffer under the hands of the pagans of Mecca. Couldn’t have God made this only one year, so that the Prophet and his followers used their time more productively? Couldn’t they have used all these years of suffering better if God had enabled Islam to spread faster? What was the point of the Prophet losing his wife and his main protector in Mecca, his uncle Abu Talib, at a crucial place in his career, greatly weakening him?

What the Prophet was taught with all of these difficulties is that God is a King, and He does as He wishes with His servants. If we have truly submitted, we will accept His decrees, thinking the best of Him and continuing to love Him, praise Him and worship Him, even as we suffer knowing that He can end our suffering.

Know that God has no need of you. You cannot do God any favors. No matter how talented or capable you are, God can always create someone with exactly your talents and abilities in little time. Everything we do for God’s sake is actually a gift from Him, because it is He who taught us, guided us, and sustained us throughout all of these years so that we could do this thing in His name and claim credit for it.

Any good deed you do for God is actually a favor from Him. If you want to be productive, to serve Islam, Muslims and humanity, what you are actually asking is for God to give you the favor of being useful in His cause.

You are asking God for a great favor. Ask yourself if you deserve it. Ibn al-Qayyim says:

Whoever, among the workers, wishes to know his status in the eye of the King, let him look at what jobs He gives him and with what He busies him.

If you want the King to give you a great job the ensures you rewards in this life and the afterlife, then you must know that this job is given to those He wishes, and not to everyone. You must purify yourself, rededicate yourself to God, give up all sinful behaviors, and constantly seek His guidance and forgiveness, while remaining patient and thinking the best of Him, and in this way you will be guided to Him step by step, month after month, until you reach a place where He decides to give you a better task in life.

There are no shortcuts if you want to be a sincere and useful servant of God. You must turn yourself into the type of person who deserves God’s honor and favors, and He will give these to you.

God can change your situation in an instant, solving all of your problems, giving you immense knowledge and placing you somewhere where you can be a great and highly admired leader. God will not do this for you, because God does not perform miracles for us. If God did miracles for us, yet we sinned afterwards, this would cause us to deserve the utmost punishment from Him, as happened to Jesus’s apostles:

112. “And when the disciples said, ‘O Jesus son of Mary, is your Lord able to bring down for us a feast from heaven?’ He said, ‘Fear God, if you are believers.’“

113. They said, “We wish to eat from it, so that our hearts may be reassured, and know that you have told us the truth, and be among those who witness it.”

114. Jesus son of Mary said, “O God, our Lord, send down for us a table from heaven, to be a festival for us, for the first of us, and the last of us, and a sign from You; and provide for us; You are the Best of providers.”

115. God said, “I will send it down to you. But whoever among you disbelieves thereafter, I will punish him with a punishment the like of which I never punish any other being.” (The Quran, verses 5:112-115)

They demanded a miracle from God, and God answered their prayer. But to maintain justice, it is necessary for God to hold these people who see the miracle to extremely stringent standards afterwards. Disobeying God after seeing physical evidence with your own eyes of His power is a far greater sin than disobeying God while He feels hidden from you.

It is out of His mercy that He does not do miracles for us. If He did miracles, this would be a burden that many of us couldn’t carry. On the one hand, it would cheapen our good deeds, because now we’d be doing them while having some proof of God’s existence. On the other hand, it would greatly increase our sinfulness if we disobeyed Him in anything, because we’d be committing sins while having had direct experience of Him.

What God wants, instead, is for us to go through the boring, difficult, numbing experiences of life, so that the good we do can be fully attributed to us, and so that we can be rewarded for our faith and patience. If God intervened directly in our lives, showing Himself and performing miracles, all of these things possibilities would be destroyed.

Accept your situation, knowing that God is fully capable of changing it in an instant. He wants you to be responsible for the change, so that He can reward you for it, instead of He Himself causing the change directly and taking away the chance for you to prove yourself.

Nothing you achieve in this life is going to be of any worth except the record of your deeds. Even if you build the world’s greatest mosque in His name, when the world ends, it will be destroyed and turned into nothing, as if it never existed. If you want to work for Him, then know that results only come through Him, and not through your own efforts. If He allows you to achieve any success in His name, then know that this is a favor from Him, not a favor from you to Him.

This is not to say that nothing we do for Him is of value, saying that He can accomplish anything He wants Himself. It is, rather, to realize that there are two worlds, the world of the seen and the world of the unseen. The unseen world is that which has priority. Nothing you do in the seen world is of value if the unseen part of your world is corrupt. And nothing you do in the unseen world is worthless regardless of your results in the seen world.

Becoming a chosen servant of God

If you want to become the type of servant that God favors by making him or her productive in His cause, then these are the steps you can follow to accomplish this.

1. Clean your slate

Chronic sins in your life will block God’s blessings. You cannot hope to be honored by God if part of your life is in direct contradiction to His teachings. For example, if you have usurious debt (debt upon which you pay interest, such as mortgage, car or credit card debt), then this is going to be a blocker of God’s blessings in your life. If you have cut off your relationship with a family member despite the fact that God commands love and kindness and tolerance toward them, then this will block God’s blessings.

Think of your life and find anything that could be considered a chronic sin, and fix it as soon as you can, doing your utmost to do so. God will not believe you to be sincere in wishing for His forgiveness and love if your life contains sinful parts that are insults toward Him.

The next thing to do is to ask God for His forgiveness for every great and small sin you have ever committed. Do this with every prostration of every one of your formal prayers, and do it after every formal prayer.

Equally important is to not add new sins to your record. Your goal should be to have a pristine record, clear of all sins. You cannot hope to have God’s favors if you are carrying a great burden of sins on your back.

2. Reestablish your connection with God through worship

Your question suggests that you are already doing this, that is good. Perform tahajjud at night (8 extra units performed after the isha prayer) and the duha prayer in the morning (8 rakat performed anywhere between 15 minutes after sunrise to 15 minutes before the dhuhr athan). Sit down for a few minutes after every formal prayer, supplicating to God for everything you desire. Do this with all of your five prayers.

3. Be patient and do not expect results

Even if you do not see results for months, detach yourself from expecting results, knowing that God is a King, and a King does what He wills with His servants. Submit to His decree. Do your part of worship, seeking forgiveness and avoiding sins, knowing that God will do His part. If you repent, worship Him ardently and constantly pray for His help, yet see no results for a week or two, what do you know, perhaps if you are patient, results will come in a few months, when you are ready for it.

If you feel numb, uncared for and abandoned, then realize that all of us have felt like that at some point in our lives, even the Prophet, who after revealing the first few revelations, stopped receiving revelation for a period of six months to two years, after which these verses were revealed:

1. By the morning light.

2. And the night as it settles.

3. Your Lord did not abandon you, nor did He forget.

4. The Hereafter is better for you than the First.

5. And your Lord will give you, and you will be satisfied.

6. Did He not find you orphaned, and sheltered you?

7. And found you wandering, and guided you?

8. And found you in need, and enriched you?

9. Therefore, do not mistreat the orphan.

10. Nor rebuff the seeker.

11. But proclaim the blessings of your Lord. (The Quran, verses 93:1-8)

4. Read

An important help toward being patient, thinking the best of God and understanding His decrees is to read. Read Ibn al-Jawzi‘s and Ibn al-Qayyim‘s sayings. If you do not speak Arabic, read multiple translations of the Quran, especially Muhammad Abdel-Haleem’s. Read Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet if you haven’t. Read every good Islamic book you can find, especially by modern, mainstream writers.

5. Put your hopes in the afterlife

This world will never live up to your expectations, and nothing you achieve in it will last forever. It is a central spiritual teaching of the Quran to focus more on the hereafter than on the present life, as verse 4 above teaches.

Think of this world as nothing more than a waiting room. You are here for a while, waiting for the door to be opened, behind which there is a beautiful and thriving city where you can finally have peace and freedom from all stress and worry. Arriving at this city must be your goal, you must never be deluded by the cheap counterfeit goods of the worldly life, which almost always cause as much pain as the pleasure they bring.

If you at this moment feel depressed and unable to do anything for the afterlife, then wait patiently, and this in itself is worship. Imagine yourself waiting in that waiting room. Just wait, if you cannot do anything more. Wait, knowing that eventually the door will open. You do not need to do anything more than waiting, God does not burden you with more than you are able.

6. Be easy on yourself

A mistake many of us make is to rededicate ourselves to God for a short period of time, such a during Ramadan, only to burn out, feeling that we can never be the perfect saint that we hope to be.

Never push yourself beyond what you are able to carry at this moment. Continue to enjoy what you enjoy, reading novels, browsing your favorite sites, playing video games, doing whatever (non-sinful) thing you enjoy doing.

Islam does not ask you to give up the pleasures of this world, or to turn yourself into a God-worshiping robot. It asks you reform your life, to remain close to God as much as you are able, and to continue living a normal human life. God does not blame you for enjoying yourself, for taking the time off to go to the park, to listen to music, to do anything you find enjoyable and uplifting.

Be gentle with yourself and increase what you do for God only when you are able. If today you are tired and cannot perform an extra good deed that you performed yesterday, then do not do it.

Pushing yourself too hard can cause your ego to rebel, because it will feel like Islam is an enemy that wants to prevent it from enjoying life. Children and teenagers also feel this way when their parents try to push them too hard to be pious and religious.

Instead, be a gentle and kind master with yourself, respecting your own dignity and giving yourself time to do what you enjoy.

7. Rely on His guidance

Another mistake that people make is losing hope in God’s ability to guide them. They lose hope and think that they are permanently lost, thinking as if God is incapable of reaching into their lives and purifying it again. The truth that Quran teaches us is that God is with us every hour of every day, teaching us, educating us, helping us overcome challenges and grow into better humans.

Some Muslims, especially strict ones, mistakenly think that for a person to acquire guidance, a thousand things have to go exactly perfectly for them. In reality, once a person accepts the Quran as their guide, and sincerely prays to God for guidance, then their guidance is assured. God will take care of arranging for them everything necessary to help them grow and improve. The Quran speaks much of guidance (al-huda), and there would be little point in mentioning this if it was all about a human’s own efforts toward learning about God and Islam. Rather, guidance is largely about God bestowing His favor upon humans, inspiring them and helping them along the way:

God chooses to Himself whom He wills, and He guides to Himself whoever repents. (The Quran, 42:13)

He said, “I am going towards my Lord, and He will guide me.” (The Quran, verse 37:99)

No matter how lost you feel, pray to God for guidance, and He will guide you, in ways you do not expect. He will arrange for you to go through the right experiences, to hear, read and see the right things, to be able to learn and grow and mature. What you must do, above all, is repent and be sincere.

On social anxiety and loneliness

I too do not enjoy social interactions except with people I know really well. This is perfectly normal. It is not a character flaw, it is due to your genes. If you get only four hours of sleep one night, the next day nearly all of your social anxiety will be gone, because the parts of your brain the cause you social anxiety will stop doing their usual thing.

Consider social anxiety just one of life’s annoyances, similar to a person who has an accident and has to limp for the rest of their lives. It is probably never going away completely, although many things can significantly reduce it (such as gaining wealth and status). Accept social anxiety as a part of life and move on. There are people who are blind, be thankful that your problem is not as serious. It will still get in the way of enjoying a life that people would call normal, but it is not more than you can bear.

When you are in a situation where your social anxiety becomes a factor, it is like a person who has a limp being expected to move fast or run. It is not enjoyable and you’d much rather avoid it, but if you think of it as just another physical disability, then you will be able to handle it with few negative emotions. If people constantly expect you to be outgoing and comfortable socially, then the blame is on them for expecting you to act in a way you are not designed to act. Instead of trying to live up to their expectations, trying to act the way their genes make them act, instead of acting the way your genes make you act, be comfortable with yourself, accepting your limitations, finding social enjoyment in the ways you can (instead of in the ways people expect), and having hope that as you grow older, you will learn better ways of dealing with the issue.

If you feel lonely and wish for meaningful social interactions, for example with a loving spouse, then you can pray for this and let God decide when and how you will have it. Loneliness is just one of the many tests of life, and the happiness we desire from ending our loneliness is only something that God can give to us:

42. And that to your Lord is the finality.

43. And that it is He who causes laughter and weeping.

44. And that it is He who gives death and life.

45. And that it is He who created the two kinds—the male and the female.

46. From a sperm drop, when emitted.

47. And that upon Him is the next existence.

48. And that it is He who enriches and impoverishes. (The Quran 53:42-48)

It is best not place your hopes of fulfillment in this life, as already mentioned, and this includes hoping for an end to loneliness. It is better to put our ultimate hope in the afterlife and to serve God as best as we can, expecting favors and blessings only from Him, whenever He decrees these for us.

This is about the spiritual side of things. As for the material side of things, you are free to seek fulfillment, for example by trying to get married. If you take care of the spiritual side, God will give you His help and guidance as you use your intelligence and planning ability to improve your material situation.

Spiritually, seek fulfillment only through God. Wealth, a spouse, family and friends will not bring you fulfillment unless He allows it and makes it possible. In the worldly life, act like any intelligent human, spiritually, act like His servant, knowing that He is the King above all kings.

Tumblr weightloss logic and all-you-can-eat diets

It is true that there is such a thing as “energy balance”, but the crucial thing that is left out of the equation is the nature of the person’s diet, which determines what their weight will be once they reach energy balance.

The numbers above are imaginary, they are only there to illustrate the way different “all you can eat” diets lead to different weights.

I have tried various diets throughout the years. A strict keto (ketogenic) diet reduces my motivation to work, even though it is great for blood sugar control. Currently I follow somewhat of a Mediterranean/low-carb diet. I avoid bread, rice, potatoes and all other foods that contain significant amounts of simple carbohydrates, since these foods make blood sugar management impossible regardless of how supposedly healthy some of them are. I also avoid eating more than 50 calories of fruit per day, as I always get neuropathy in my toes and fingertips the next day if I do so.

When to stand up during the iqamah, at the beginning, a specific point or at the end?

In our part of the world, I have noticed a few people standing up for the salah when the caller pronounces the words “Haiya as Salah” during the iqamat and most stand up from the beginning of the iqamat. Which is correct?

There is no specific evidence on the right time to stand up once the iqamah starts, and this is what Ibn Uthaymeen says. The various schools have used different arguments to justify different times for standing up. But since there is no strong evidence on any of these opinions, you are free to stand whenever it suits you. There is a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari in which the Prophet says not to stand up until the crowd sees him stand up, therefore if there is a specific person who is meant to lead the prayer, then the rest should wait for that person to stand up before standing up themselves.

The Hanafi opinion is to stand up when the athan reaches “hayya alas salat”.

The Shafiee opinino is to stand up once the athan is finished.

The Maliki opinion is that you can stand any time, at the beginning, middle or end of it.

The Hanbali opinion is to follow what the imam does. The imam is supposed to stand up once the athan reaches “qad qamatis salat”. But if the imam takes longer to stand up, then the rest will wait until the imam stands up.

However, if there is a specific imam who is meant to lead the prayer, and the imam is late, and the iqama is said, the rest should wait for the imam to arrive before standing up.

Muslims may use “God” instead of “Allah”, and why most converts to Islam should keep their pre-Islam names

They say in our doctrine that the word “God” is way different than “Allah”, and shouldn’t be said as long as the Kuffar use it. We as Muslims differ from what they came with.. Similar to what happened when Adan was first confirmed. What’s your take on that?

The Saudi scholar Ibn Uthaymeen says there is no issue with using foreign words to refer to God if the meaning of the word is commonly known and well-understood and not confusable with pagan deities.

I try to use the word “God” wherever I can if I am speaking or writing in English, because it sounds more natural than using “Allah”. My wife is a native English speaker and we always say “God” when we speak.

I come from a Kurdish culture and we always use Khwa and Khoda when we speak about God. It sounds highly unusual if someone says Allah in the wrong context, it is like saying “thou” and “thee” in English to refer to someone.

You will find some Arab-centric opinions on the internet that say to use “Allah” instead of other words, acting as if the cultural choices of hundreds of millions of non-Arab Muslims around the world are of no importance.

Using the word God in English is recommendable because it shows non-Muslim English speakers that we are not speaking of some foreign deity like some of them mistakenly think. It shows that we are speaking of the same God that they know of, the God of Abraham and Jesus, peace be upon them.For similar reasons I recommend that converts to Islam keep their pre-Islam names. A convert to Islam named Christopher is going to have a far easier time befriending and approaching non-Muslims, putting them at their ease and showing them that Muslims are just like themselves. If he chooses some foreign-sounding name, this will always act as a barrier.

Ultimately it comes down to personal choice whether a convert chooses to change their name or not. But it is a big mistake to tell them this should be one of the first things they should do after converting. This should be one of the last things they do, by choosing a foreign name they separate themselves from their local community and make it far more difficult on themselves to get their conversion to Islam accepted by others on the one hand, and to get others to have a friendly view of Islam on the other.

Additionally, converts to Islam who have children have the right to continue using local names, as long as these names do not have a meaning conflicting with Islam. Irish Muslims can continue using common Irish names, the way that Kurdish Muslims use Kurdish names, and Turkish Muslims use Turkish names.

Strategies for forgiving others

I’m having a bad past and it was not easy to forgive and forget. I’ve already tried my best to forgive people, but I still can’t find the inner peace. I still can’t find what I should be. Why it is so hard to forgive people? And why it is hard for me to forget the past. What should I do?

You are a human living in a human body. It is a natural part of you to find it difficult to forgive people who have injured you, since the subconscious part of the mind keeps track of every harm others have done us and in this way controls our emotions toward them. This is done for our own good, it is an automatic response meant to help us stay away from people who may harm us.

It is sufficient for you to consciously forgive people (to decide in your mind to not try to harm them or take revenge on them), as for your subconscious mind, it will continue to have its negative emotional response toward these people until a long time passes and you either start to see these people in a new light based on positive interactions, or so much time passes that you forget most of the injuries they have done you.

If you can consciously forgive people, and you can control your actions toward them, then there is no need to worry about the rest. Your focus should instead be on maintaining a heightened state of spirituality (through daily Quran reading, listening to lectures, and other acts of worship), increasing your knowledge, and always going closer toward God. As you improve in these regards, the worldly things that trouble you will feel less important.

Your subconscious (the emotions you feel toward people) is not under your direct control. The only way you can affect it is indirectly, by focusing on things that can rewire its priorities so that it stops worrying about people. And this is done, as I said, through days, months and years of spiritual practice.

There were people in my life who were extremely unkind to me years ago. Instead of trying to forgive them, I moved on with my life. I read hundreds of books, traveled, suffered many hardships and many good things, and in this way the negative things I felt toward these people became irrelevant, so that today I can interact with them without feeling anything negative toward them.

This is similar to how we do not feel strong emotions toward people who were mean to us in kindergarten or elementary school. It is not that we actively forgave them, it is that we grew up, we changed, so that they no longer feel relevant to us, to our emotions and our sense of self-worth.

In the same way, to forgive someone, a person can go to a different country, spend 5 years there and become a completely different person, and coming back to their home country, they may discover that they have forgiven the person even though they almost never thought about them.

To forgive, grow into a new person, move to a new position in life where those people’s negative actions toward you no longer feel important or interesting, so that you do not even bother to think about them anymore.

Besides Islamic worship, another thing you can do is to read 100 books. Read 100 good novels (classics written before 1965) and I guarantee that you will feel like a very different person once you are done, your view of yourself and the world around you will expand and you will start to see the world differently, so that your past stops having the power to hurt you.

James Watson’s happy ending

After a large alliance of the betrayers of science and Western civilization (who run the West’s media, academia and research foundations) ruined James Watson’s career for mentioning scientifically-verifiable facts, this happened:

James Watson is the co-discoverer of the 3D structure of DNA. I have read his books The Double Helix and Avoid Boring People.

In similar circumstances, the economist Larry Summers mentioned the scientific fact that there are important genetic differences between men and women, which lead to mass feminist hysteria. Summers quickly backtracked and gave $600 million of Harvard money to the feminist priesthood as his sin offering, having learned the valuable lesson that it does not pay to give priority to scientific truths when there are the far more important concerns of keeping his well-paying careers and high positions. Why be a martyr in the name of science when you can be rich and powerful instead? Steve Sailer has a good article on this particular farce:

MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins won much sympathy from the press for fleeing Summers’ talk like a blushing Victorian maiden hearing some uncouth personage use the word “legs” instead of “limbs.” In leaking Summers’ off-the-record talk to the Boston Globe, Hopkins claimed that she had to leave or, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.”

In reality, Hopkins is a veteran at playing the gender card. Wendy McElroy reported in 2001 on Hopkins’ lucrative conflicts-of-interest:

“The [MIT] Committee was established to investigate complaints of sex discrimination that were leveled by Hopkins herself. Yet she became the Chair, heading an investigation into her own complaints. As a result of her findings, Hopkins received — among other benefits — a 20 percent raise in salary, an endowed chair and increased research funds. Indeed, most of the Committee consisted of women who benefited substantially from the ‘guilty’ verdict. The only evidence of sex discrimination produced was the fact that there are more men than women in the faculty of the School for Science.”

Evolutionary psychology

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What got you interested in evolutionary psychology?

I have always been interested in science, in finding out how the world works, and I have read hundreds of books on all kinds of topics. I discovered that the ordinary field of psychology is full of irrationalism and principles derived not from reality, but from political ideologies. Psychology is one of the “woolly sciences”, as I call them, along with sociology, anthropology and many other fields of the social sciences. More than half of the findings of psychology research cannot be “replicated”, meaning that what psychologists say about something is generally far more derived from their own personal opinions, biases and ideologies rather than reality and an honest desire to find out how things really work.

In such a context, there comes evolutionary psychology, which rejects political correctness and treats humans like science treats any other creature, not bringing moral judgments into its research, but simply finding out how humans really are, which is a breathe of fresh air from the stuffy atmosphere of the West’s woolly science academia and the hundreds of thousands of rent-seeking scientists and researchers who have attached themselves to these fields.

Evolutionary psychology is just one of my interests, among many others, and I have no attachment to it. At the moment it offers the best explanations for human behavior, and I recently published a book based on ideas taken from it (Sex and Purpose). If anything it says is proven false, then it is the truth that takes priority.

What to do if the Quran (in English) does not touch your heart

I have an issue I feel bad about. Whenever I read the Qur’an i can’t connect to it. At worst I haven’t even had a clear feeling it’s from God. Idk why. Maybe because I don’t know Arabic. But whenever I watch a religious video explaining the religion i feel very connected.

You could try different translations of the Quran, some of them have a very technical style that is hard to connect to. Many people like The Qur’an (Oxford World’s Classics) which is not available for free online. You can also try Irving’s translation, which is free.

And if that doesn’t work, but you continue to enjoy lectures, then that is fine too. Once you have understood the religion and follow it, you are free to worship God and seek spirituality in the way that works best for you.

My favorite way to feel spiritual other than listening to the Quran is to read my collection of Ibn al-Jawzi’s sayings, which I have published as a book and which you can read here for free.

What is “sabr”?

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What is sabr actually? Is it to learn to be stoic?

Sabr means “patience”, its literal meaning is “to withhold”. To have sabr means to be able to withhold yourself from doing anything that displeases God. In times of hardship, sabr means not to complain, not to think negative thoughts about God, and not to give up worshiping Him and seek refuge in other things.

In times of ease, sabr means to withhold yourself from using God’s blessings to disobey Him. It also means to continue worshiping Him as ardently as during times of hardship, instead letting times of ease make you complacent and lazy toward worship.

To have sabr means to be steadfast. Regardless of what life throws at you, if you have sabr, you continue to obey and worship God, withholding yourself from doing things that displease Him.

Dating and Relationships in Islam: What is Allowed and What is Not

Is dating and having relationships totally forbidden in Islam?

I will start with a description of an example scenario of the way dating and relationships work in Islam, then will clarify the Islamic stance. If a woman works somewhere, and there is a man there that she likes and who likes her, and both of them want to enjoy a relationship with each other, Islam asks them to get their families involved and work toward getting married.

The time between knowing someone and marrying them could be years. When two people are interested in each other, Islam does not strictly prescribe how they should behave with one another. The two people are expected to get their families involved, and to have a polite and formal relationship with one another, until the marriage takes place.

Depending on the culture, the couple may be allowed to see each other often; for example the man may visit the woman’s family and see her there once or twice a week. This is how dating works among conservative Iranian families. Once the nikah takes place (the official engagement ceremony), but before the wedding, they are allowed to spend time alone outside, going to cafes and restaurants for example, and it is accepted of them to be in constant contact with each other, such as through their phones. But they are not expected to be sexually intimate until after the wedding.

Therefore the Islamic way of dating is as follows. This is the Iranian solution (which is perfectly acceptable in Sunni Islam as well) which allows for dating before the wedding. Note that this is not a loophole, this is perfectly in accordance with Islamic manners:

  1. The man and woman know each other, either as family friends, coworkers or classmates, and both show interest in marrying the other (or the man is interested in marrying her).
  2. The man approaches the woman’s family in an official proposal ceremony. If the man doesn’t know the woman’s family at all, he may get her family’s contact information and set up an official meeting with them. The woman will tell her family about it, and in this way it is set up. The man visits the woman’s family accompanied by some of his own family, and in this way the two families get to know one another.
  3. If everything goes well, the man and woman maintain a formal and polite relationship, although it is not expected to be as formal as that between strangers. The man may visit the woman’s family occasionally. The two families work toward setting up a nikah ceremony.
  4. The nikah takes place. The relationship between the man and the woman becomes religiously officiated by a cleric. They are not married yet culturally. They are allowed to date and to be in contact, similar to a Western-style relationship (without sexual intimacy).
  5. The wedding takes place, after which they are a married couple.

There are all kinds of subtleties involved with this process, and Islam does not strictly prescribe the exact way it is carried out, as long as there is no intimacy before the nikah.

Within the Islamic system, people are discouraged to become intimate emotionally before the nikah, although there is no punishment for this within Islam, so it is not considered a crime, it is considered a breach of good manners and etiquette that could have harmful consequences, so that a person who truly fears God would avoid it.

Lovers in a Garden by Marcus C Stone (c. early 20th century)

For someone living in a different society, what they do could be different. Islam strictly prohibits physical intimacy between people before marriage, leaving emotional intimacy in a gray zone. If a young man and woman fall in love and become emotionally intimate before getting their families involved, their behavior may be considered sinful, or approaching sinfulness, but they have not committed a punishable crime. They are instead strongly encouraged to get their families involved and to maintain a formal relationship until after the nikah.

For two Muslim converts in the West who get to know each other and who want to start dating, performing the nikah is as simple as getting the permission of the woman’s guardian (a male family member, such as a father, brother or other blood relative if they are Muslim, if not, some respect Muslim man from the community), performing a 10-minute nikah ceremony in front of witnesses, then publicly announcing their nikahengagement (for example on Facebook). This can be done months before the wedding. Once this ceremony has been performed, they can start dating like any couple (if they want to date but not marry). In this ceremony the woman’s dowry is set. If they decide to separate before physical intimacy, the women receives half of her dowry, rather than the full dowry, she can also forgo the dowry if she wants.

And, if after the nikah they want to start living together as a husband and wife (without a wedding ceremony), they can do that too, making the nikah the wedding too. In Iran too, sometimes the nikah and the wedding are on the same day, other times they are separated by long periods of time.

So, in Islam it is considered bad manners and a weakness in one’s faith if one tries to have an intimate emotional relationship (for example over the internet) with a member of the opposite sex before the nikah, because this can lead to various sinful behaviors, as there can at times be an immense desire for the couple to take the relationship further, “sexting” and exchanging inappropriate photos. A couple who want to follow Islam’s guidance fully would avoid such a relationship. If they want to know each other better before the nikah, they would get their families involved, or at least the woman’s family (meaning her guardian) should be involved.

Different Muslim cultures have differing practices. Islam does not expect people to act like robots, it acknowledges their humanity, which is why it leaves the pre-nikah relationship in a gray zone, acknowledging that different circumstances require different policies. It is ultimately a matter of conscience between you and God. It is very easy for us to find excuses for our sinful desires and to say that our case is different. So we must be aware of our ego’s desire to always take a relationship with a person of the opposite sex further until it becomes sinful.

By having a relationship with someone before nikah, you constantly create opportunities for you and the other person to act in ways that would be considered sinful by others and by God. Therefore you must do your best to keep your ego’s desires in check, and you must do your best to get your families involved at the first possible opportunity.

If you want to date before marriage, then have your nikah ceremony, then start dating. In this way you can have a relationship, and if you end up not wanting to get married, you have the option of ending the relationship. If it is the woman who wants to end it, then she will get no dowry. If it is the man who wishes to end it, he must give her half the dowry, unless she says she does not want it.

If it is a long-distance relationship, it is sufficient to have a Skype session that involves the two of them, the woman’s guardian and two male witnesses. In this session, the woman’s guardian gives his agreement to the nikah and the dowry amount, and this would be it. They would be considered engaged in Islam, and they can publicly announce their engagement, and from then on they can have an intimate relationship like any non-Muslim Western couple. Depending on their culture, however, physical intimacy may be considered highly inappropriate until after the wedding, although technically it is allowed.

Why should your relationship life be anyone else’s business?

Why can’t young Muslims simply get into relationships without having to involve other people? They mean harm to no one, and they are old enough to think for themselves.

The reason is that in Islam, marriage is an extremely serious business, because the survival of humanity depends on it. Islam creates a system that ensures above-replacement fertility rates, meaning that sufficient children are born and taken care of so that the the population does not start shrinking and slowly going extinct.

Why should anyone care about that when one’s fulfillment is involved?

For the same reason that a factory owner has to worry about not releasing contaminated water into the environment. It may bring him or her great fulfillment to do this, since it reduces costs and increases profits, but for humanity’s greater good, their desire is curbed. What they do isn’t just their business, it is also society’s business.

In Islam, relationships and marriage are equally society’s business. It may seem really fun to spend one’s youth “hooking up” with a dozen different people, having a different sexual partner every few months. This can be highly enjoyable, there is no need to deny this. The problem is that this leads to a society that does not value its future, and that considers having and bringing up children a nuisance that gets in the way of personal fulfillment.

The result is that the number of people dying ends up being greater than the number of people being born, so that the population starts to shrink, like it is happening in Japan. A person may say, “So what? They have 120 million people, let it become 10 million instead.” But if a population it can go from 120 million to 10 million, it can go from 10 million to zero if the same trend continues.

You are free to think this is OK, that it is fine if humanity goes extinct by preferring personal fulfillment over the good of society and humanity’s survival. Islam says it is not OK. Islam wants humanity to survive, and it doesn’t make a difference in God’s eye whether it is a plague that may kill off humanity in a year, or an ideology of sexual freedom that does it in 2000 years. The result is the same; humanity dies out.

You could say that you personally shouldn’t have to sacrifice your fulfillment for the sake of some disaster that may happen thousands of years in the future. Islam says you must. It says you must not kill, you must not use legalized robbery (usury) to extract profit from society, you must not do injury to others, you must not abandon your children so that they starve. And you must not have casual sex, you must instead build families intended to survive for the long-term.

All of these commandments are there to ensure humanity’s long-term survival while also ensuring its short-term moral integrity, since one of Islam’s central teachings is that the end does not justify the means; you must never do evil for the sake of some good you wish to obtain. Even if you are made to testify, and your testimony harms those you love or harms the Muslim community, you must do it. You must give preference to truth and justice over worldly concerns. To a materialist this sounds like insanity, to prefer principles over one’s material good. But this is what we believe in, because we believe by following principles, God will ensure our material good.

When it comes to relationships, Islam asks you to not be selfish, but to engage in them in a way that benefits society and humanity’s survival, rather than harming it. You are part of humanity and you have a responsibility to leave in as good a state as you found it, and that, needless to say, means that you do not do what leads to its extinction, whether it is by releasing toxic waste into the water supply or by giving preference to your sexual desires over doing the hard work of building families and raising children.

Who tells the truth these days? A list of rationalist sources

In these times, it’s difficult to know what’s really going on and what to trust. As someone who lives in the west and would like to know about the reality of things going on here, I would like to ask you for various reliable book recommendations. Unadulterated books that inform the reader about western shenanigans (i.e. their real politics, hidden agendas, media monopolization, who are the people behind these and their motives etc.). Your help will be much appreciated.

The first thing to note is the following, from an article by Paul Craig Roberts, economist and former US government official:

The word “conspiracy theory” is very useful for shutting down criticism of the government and discrediting anyone who questions things, because they are immediately grouped with fringe groups that say things like “the world is under the control of aliens” and talk about mind-control and telepathy.

In this way, anyone who presents evidence for corruption or criminal activity by those in power is easily discredited and ignored merely by being called a “conspiracy theorist”.

The other thing to note is that the internet is full of false conspiracy theories, designed to attract people’s attention away from the world’s real problems. Thus you have people who talk about the Illuminati and various other made-up organizations that supposedly run this world. By busying these people with these false theories, they are made incapable of focusing on the actual problems.

Another thing to note is that almost the entirely of the West’s media is thoroughly corrupt. You will never read widespread coverage of the evidence that the US government funds various terrorist groups in the Middle East, for example. And you will not read widespread criticism of the US support for the oppressive Saudi government. And when the Saudi government murders hundreds of innocent Yemenis using American weapons in its war against Yemen, it is entirely ignored by the West’s media, because it would look the US government look bad.

So who tells the truth in this atmosphere? The only media organization I know of that does not shy away from telling the truth and has many trustworthy people writing for it is The Unz Review. You could spend a year reading this site, and you would probably learn more from it than any number of books. Not everyone who writes for it is trustworthy, some have agendas, but most are.

As for books to read:

Islam versus Feminism

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My professor told me that men and women have different purposes, so we can’t protest how men are more “free”. We can’t protest on how wives have to do what the husbands say as long as it’s right. My Mom also told me that if your husband says no, then you don’t do it. However, there are feminists that are rebelling against this, they say that it’s sexist, women rights, equality, etc. What do you think about this? And what do you think about feminism? Sorry if it’s hard to understand.

It is true that men and women have different evolutionary purposes. I describe this in detail in my two essays Man’s Masculine Role and Woman’s Feminine Role in Family and Civilization and Civilization versus Feminism.

There are many types of feminists. Some of them believe in equal rights for women and there is nothing wrong with this. Others believe in women’s moral superiority and think that all men are inherently worthless

“I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” —Andrea Dworkin

“All men are rapists and that’s all they are” —Marilyn French, advisor to Al Gore’s presidential campaign.

“In order to raise children with equality, we must take them away from families and communally raise them” —Dr. Mary Jo Bane, feminist and assistant professor of education at Wellesley College, and associate director of the school’s Center for Research on Woman.

“The most merciful thing a large family can to do one of its infant members is to kill it.” —Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in “Women and the New Race,” p. 67.

“We are, as a sex, infinitely superior to men.” —Elizabeth Cady Stanton

These are feminism’s leaders and intellectuals. They have high-paying jobs as university professors and administrators, pundits and non-profit executives. These are not some crazy outsiders, they are at the center of feminism, and it is people like this who run most women’s studies departments at universities. It is for this reason that women taught at women’s studies departments generally have a visceral hatred toward men, believing that no evil done to them is too bad, and believing that a woman has zero moral responsibility toward men and society, because she is infinitely superior to all religious and societal values.

Feminism’s leaders are some of the most bloodthirsty and poisonous people on earth, utterly selfish and self-centered, having zero empathy toward 50% of humanity (males), and rejoicing at the thought of men suffering injustice and murder.

Since we Muslims follow a balanced religion that considers men and women equally worthy, we must naturally reject this type of feminism for the doctrine of hate that it is, and instead of considering these dangerously bloodthirsty women leaders of women (as some female Muslim intellectuals mistakenly think), we must consider them enemies of Islam and civilization, for what they want is to utterly destroy our values and ideals to replace them with their male-hating, marriage-hating, abortion-loving and homosexuality-promoting ideology.

As for women who believe in the equal worth of men and women and simply want to promote equal rights and opportunities for women, then there is nothing wrong with them, although it would be better if they did not call themselves feminists, because the above is what feminism’s leaders are like. They should create a new movement that stands against feminism, rejecting its doctrine of hate and replacing it with something that works for women’s rights without wanting to carry out genocide against half of the world’s population.

In Islam, a man has “a degree of authority” over women in his household, as I explain in my answer Patriarchy in the Quran. The woman should always have the right to divorce and to agencies that protect her against abuse, so that the man is prevented from abusing his authority. But the authority is there nonetheless, and it cannot be taken away without throwing away the Quran. This means that his wife cannot make significant decisions without his agreement. If she wants to, she is free to threaten divorce to get her way, but while she remains a wife to her husband, her husband has this authority over her.

A woman is not forced into marriage; she is the one who chooses what man deserves to be her husband. If she marries a man as cultured and intelligent as herself, then the question of authority may never come up, since the family functions comfortably, with both the man and the woman enslaved to the interests of the family, rather than their own personal interests. Neither of them seek power or privilege over the other; they both work for the same goal, the project in life.

So the man’s extra authority is something that only comes up if the woman wants to do something that goes against his wishes. In such a case, she can argue with him, she can ask for the support of her family and his family to convince him, and if the matter is important enough to her, she has the right to ask for divorce. So this authority is not absolute, like a short-sighted view would suggest; it is balanced by the woman’s right of divorce, and by the fact that in Islamic societies all women have universal income guaranteed by their male relatives, so that they are not reliant on their husbands in order to be fed, clothed and sheltered, if they leave the husband, the male relatives are required to do provide these for them.

Before marriage, a woman is free to ask her husband to give her equal authority, and he is free to either agree or not agree, since marriage is by the agreement of both sides. The Islamic view is that the system of giving men more authority in the household than women is beneficial to both of them, by giving them happy and stable families. When it comes to traditional marriages, some short-sighted people focus on the one unhappy and abusive marriage they find and ignore the 9 happy and peaceful marriages around them, and use this one example to “prove” that there is something wrong with the Islamic system.

Regardless of the system, there will always be unhappy and abusive marriages. The Islamic system claims to lead to better marriages, families and societies on average; having a lower rate of unhappy and broken marriages and families. If in Western societies the rate of unhappy marriages is 20%, in an Islamic society it might be 5%. And while all major Western societies have below-replacement fertility rates (their societies are slowly but surely going extinct), conservative Islamic societies all have above-replacement fertility rates, meaning that they continue to thrive, even in developed societies like Malaysia.

Another sign of the healthfulness of the Islamic system is the low suicide rates in peaceful Islamic countries. The suicide rate of the United States is four times greater than that of Indonesia and Egypt, for example.

The side of the patriarchy that is heretical for a feminist to examine

Like all neo-Marxist victimhood ideologies, it is a crucial part of feminism to have zero empathy for its designated enemy. The designated enemy is always dehumanized; so Nazi soldiers were not humans (post-WWII Jewish identity), capitalists are not humans (Marxist identity), men are not humans (feminist identity), straight white males are not humans (SJW identity). Therefore it is incredibly annoying when a feminist is forced to have some empathy for males in order to answer an intellectual question. For her it almost feels like rape, and like Anita Sarkeesian would agree, anyone who does such a naughty thing should be cut off from the internet and placed under house arrest for life.

Civilization versus Feminism

Prospect of London by Antonio Joli (mid-18th century)

Why should people get married? Why can’t we all just be enlightened, have sex with whoever we want without getting society, the clergy and the government involved?

This page that you are viewing contains the whole of chapter 25 of my book Sex and Purpose, available on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook and paperback.

The point of marriage is that you cannot have civilization without it. For a society to be sustainable (to have above-replacement birthrates, i.e. to not go extinct due to depopulation), it is necessary that men be forced by society into getting into long-term relationships with women, relationships that they cannot casually get out of.

To see what happens without marriage, do not look at enlightened bachelors and professional single women in big cities who are having a rocking time doing whatever they want without a care in the world. These people generally themselves come from traditional families. Their existence relies on the existence of marriage, but the fact that they have abandoned it does not immediately cause their social circles to implode. It takes generations for this to happen.

Instead, look at America’s ghettos and trailer parks, where many men would gag at the thought of being a family man, settling down and working on creating and building things of long-term value. Instead, men sleep with whoever they have access to, without accepting any responsibility for whatever happens afterwards. A man will generally not stay with any woman for a significant length of time if he find a better one, and he will generally have children with multiple women, not accepting responsibility for any of his offspring, but rather considering it an annoyance, something to be escaped, because it prevents him from living his ghetto glamour lifestyle to be forced to be there for his kids.

His children grow up generally not knowing who their father us. They belong to their mothers. This leads to what is known as a matrilineal society, a society where children identify with their mothers, where the fathers are insignificant satellites without much purpose or function.

Some feminists think that this is how all men are. Their books are full of references to “deadbeat dads”, as if this is what every man wants to be. Ironically, they also fully support the thought of men being insignificant, the thought of children belonging to their mothers rather than their fathers, of matrilineal societies ruled by matriarchs, not realizing that since such societies have no place for fathers, all fathers in such societies are going to be to some degree deadbeat ones.

In general, there are two types of societies in this world. The first are matrilineal ones, where fathers are insignificant and do not care much for their children. Such societies exist among tribes in the Amazon and in Africa, and in America’s ghettos and trailer parks. The most important fact about such societies is that they are not civilizations. Traditional matrilineal societies are all close to the Stone Age technologically. And as for non-traditional societies, those living in technologically advanced societies, they too are entirely technologically incapable, if it wasn’t for the larger civilization supporting them, they too would slowly revert back to the Stone Age, because they are incapable of innovation, of long-term planning, of having hope in the future instead of placing all of one’s focus in short-term gratification.

The lower class whites living in a trailer park are not going to sit down and think of building a wildlife conservation foundation. That is only something done by rich and overeducated weirdoes. It is far more sensible in their opinion to use their money on drink and women.

The other type of society is the patrilineal society. This is a society that, instead of letting men do whatever they like, having sex with whoever they want, it forces them to stay with just one woman (or a few, in polygamous societies). The society holds its men responsible for the wellbeing of their women and children. Through various psychological manipulation tactics, such as shaming its men for not being “real men” if they fail to do what is best for their women and children, men are forced to work day and night to improve their own lot and the lot of their women and children, instead of lying back and just enjoying life like men do in matrilineal societies.

Extremist feminist ideology wants to destroy the “patriarchy”, to prove that men are worthless and insignificant. They think it is a good thing to destroy traditional values that have “forced” women into being men’s companions and supporters, instead of being their own persons. They want children to belong to their mothers, not fathers. They do not realize that what they are, in effect, trying to establish, is a matrilineal society. A matrilineal society, by making men insignificant and worthless, forces its men to be uninvested in the long-term wellbeing and survival of their women, children and society, so that the society always falls into decay.

By destroying patriarchy, by making men insignificant in society, they are made to feel little allegiance to their women and children. They will much rather enjoy themselves than worry about raising a family, and they will do what they can to escape taking responsibility for their children.

A deadbeat dad is not a patriarchal dad. He is a matrilineal dad. African matrilineal tribes are entirely made up of “deadbeat” dads, where no man even knows who his children are, he just knows among the 10 or 20 women he has had sex with, some of the children born to them are his, he doesn’t care which. The same reality is recreated in America’s ghettos and trailer parks, whether they are populated by blacks or whites.

Feminist ideology holds that the law can be used to enforce matriarchy on society on the one hand, and to to force men to be highly invested in their societies and their women on the other hand.

What feminism does is destroy the very societal mechanisms that force men to be invested in their women and children (by destroying marriage, promoting sexual freedom, single motherhood and the idea that men are worthless), and to replace it with a new mechanism, the law, to force men do what women want.

Just like communism1, feminism wants to throw away the traditional societal mechanisms for the survival of civilizations that humanity has developed over the millennia, thinking it knows better, thinking it can destroy it all and use the law to force a new, and better order on humanity.

The result is that neither communism nor feminism work in the long-term. Communism does not work because it is against human nature to not be allowed to keep the fruit of one’s work. Communism is exactly the same as feudalism, where the lord of the manor keeps everyone’s harvest for himself, promising to take care of the peasants himself by distributing resources where he sees fit. All communist states have a massive police state that strikes terror into the hearts of their citizens. This is necessary because human nature rebels against communism. Human nature needs to be beat into shape daily by the communist state to ensure that things continue to function.

What feminism does is more subtle. By creating a culture where men are made to be the bad guys, worthless and stupid2, men are no longer made to feel invested in their societies, instead acting like the men in matrilineal societies, enjoying video games, drinks, sports, movies, pornography and any sex they can have, without wanting to get entangled with marriage.

The result is that birthrates plummet and women find it increasingly difficult to find men who want them for marriage, rather than for a casual sexual relationship. In a traditional society like Egypt, any reasonably attractive woman is guaranteed to have many men wanting to marry her and take care of her for life. In a feminist society, many men will recoil from marriage. They are told for all of their lives that the world would be better without them, that women are morally their superiors, that men are the source of nearly all evil on this earth, and they take this to heart. They stop believing in building and creating, in seeing society thrive, because they do not consider themselves worthy or fit enough to be involved in all that.

Similar to the men in undeveloped matrilineal societies, they spend their lives not as men, but as man-children, never feeling they have a place in society, feeling like unimportant satellites that may occasionally be involved with society, but that do not really belong to it.

The purpose of marriage, which is a patriarchal construct, is to sell men the idea that there is something special about their relationship with a woman, that it is not just about sex or about his or her selfish interests, that it is something more.

For a matrilineal man, a woman is little more than a vagina, something to be used and enjoyed, but ultimately not worth much interest beyond that. This is why hip-hop culture, whether black or white, uses the word “ho” (i.e. whore) as a word for all women. To them a woman is something to be bought and used. Such men will cynically laugh at the idea of cherishing a woman and her children, being in love with her and wanting to take care of her for life. What they believe in is promising a woman the world, showing her one’s money, cars and gold, getting into her pants, enjoying her for as long as she is useful, then moving on once it gets boring.

The patriarchy, where men are made to be women’s servants and protectors, otherwise they wouldn’t be “real men”. Painting by Frederic Leighton.

Similar to the way that the rank of a soldier comes with various duties and functions that are imposed upon him by the military, the rank of a husband comes with various duties and functions that are imposed upon him by patriarchal society. He is not a real man if he simply enjoys life and couldn’t care less what happens to society or to the women he has sex with. He is a real man if he works, if he creates, if he gets himself killed defending his wife and children, if he spends his whole life being a nobody who did nothing more glorious than raising a good enough family, if he spends his entire life in the service of his woman and children.

All of these are heavy duties, and men will refuse to carry them unless they are made to believe that they have a worthy and admirable place in society, unless they are made to believe in the societal fairytale that being a husband is more than just being someone who has regular sex with a particular woman.

What feminism does is destroy that fairytale. By stamping on men’s sense of worth in society day and night, in books, at college lectures, in films and TV shows, it forces men to abandon their sense of allegiance to their society. They are made to think and feel that everything would function just fine without them, so that you have 35-year-old manchildren who still have no idea what they are going to do with their lives, exactly like the men in matrilineal societies.

By destroying the patriarchal fairytale of marriage, the result is plummeting birthrates. In the short-term, this doesn’t mean anything much, which is why many people can say that we already have enough people, so what if the US ends up having 150 million people instead of 325?

But a far-sighted person will see that if birthrates are below replacement, then the society will dwindle until it goes extinct. The US population of 325 million will dwindle to 3 million in 900 years if it ends up having Japan’s depopulation rate of losing 34% of its population every 90 years.

Since we love post-apocalyptic films, the idea of a depopulated US may actually sound attractive. But what actually happens when a population starts to dwindle is that it is taken over by patriarchal sectors of the population who continue to maintain high birthrates.

The US population will not dwindle to zero. It will be replaced by those parts of the population who continued to maintain a patriarchal mode of living, believing in marriage and the importance and worth of men.

Therefore while some men’s rights activists see a dystopian vision of a feminist police state ruling the West decades from now, what actually happens is that once feminism reaches its peak of power, that is when its demise starts, because those who buy the feminist version of reality that is being sold in the media and everywhere else are going to suffer low fertility rates and will be thrown out of the gene pool. Those who remain are those who are intelligent, cultured or religious enough to reject it, so that they maintain a patriarchal mode of living.

When I say “patriarchal”, I do not mean one where sexist men are in charge of everything. I mean a society where both men and women are respected and honored, like in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but better. Where women are free to pursue careers if they want, and where no one gets away with discriminating against women.

In the type of society I believe in, men and women are considered equally worthy members working for the same enterprise, each serving his or her own evolutionary function in the best way possible. Both men and women are considered humans before they are anything else, and their humanity is respected in all matters. Their sex organs are secondary to this. Men will serve their evolutionary function of creating form, while women will serve their function of being substance, not out of compulsion, but because they like it.

Isn’t it demeaning for a woman to define her function with respect to men, instead of doing whatever she wants? No. It might feel that way for a few, who are free to do as they like. But the majority will be perfectly happy to do what millions of years of evolution have chosen them to do best; being a man’s home, being the thing that a man sacrifices his everything for. Most women would rather marry a king instead of building a kingdom, because most women will not get a kick out of building a kingdom, doing the drudgery, the planning, the hard and boring work necessary to build anything significant, while men are designed to enjoy all of that work. Your ideal man will find that idea of marrying a queen and becoming part of her kingdom somewhat demeaning, because evolution has chosen men to do the opposite.

It is the man who builds and the woman who enters what he has built, not the other way round. Most men will not be proud of becoming part of what a woman has built, and most women will not be happy to build things for a man to become part of. This is the evolutionary rule. There are exceptions, but the exceptions do not nullify the rule. We do not need to destroy our heritage and evolutionary past because some idiot thinks he or she has a better idea.

Most families will function best with the man as the CEO and the woman as the vice president. I respect a woman’s intelligence and courage in ensuring that this arrangement works out in her best interests and the best interests of her children. She will agree to be part of such an arrangement because she likes it, because she knows this is how she can get her money’s worth. If women can easily get a divorce, if there are government agencies and hotlines to protect women’s rights and prosecute abusive husbands, then women can both enjoy their evolutionary role of being emotionally bonded to a man and belonging to his civilization, and being protected from abusive relationships. Intelligent and well-educated women can continue to work as women’s rights activists, ensuring that no injustice is done toward women, without advocating for injustice against men as so often is done by feminists.

There can be a new breed of feminists who, instead of thinking they must carry a man’s burdens to be considered worthy, make full use of the men available to them, enjoy the evolutionary instincts of sexual bonding and belonging, and do whatever else they want with their lives. Such women will have the best mental and physical wellbeing any woman can have, because they will enjoy acting according to their genetics while also having their humanity and freedoms respected. There would be no psychological conflict in their heads between their respect for women’s rights and letting a man impregnate them, between intellectual aspirations and raising children, because their sexual lives, their place in society and their intellectual lives will all be in line.

Masculinism

Feminism rejects all male-defined (or presumably male-defined) ideas regarding female role and function, building a new one that is meant to be entirely woman-made. That it is only a very small cross-section of womanhood that is writing and directing nearly all feminist ideology is irrelevant to them.

Feminism’s male alternative would be masculinism, the male ideology that all woman-defined (or presumably woman-defined) ideas regarding the male role and function should be rejected. Instead of living up to a woman’s expectations, any woman’s, a man does what he wants with his life. Whether it is a traditionalist woman wanting him to be a family man, or a feminist wanting him to be a metrosexual male feminist, he equally rejects both, going his own way instead. The MGTOW (men going their own way) movement is mostly this way, acting as feminism’s counterpart. Unlike feminists, who have billions of dollars in funding, this movement has close to zero funding, therefore few people know about it.

If feminism is destructive to civilization, masculinism is equally destructive. In both cases, the two parts of this two-part organism stupidly and shortsightedly work for their own benefit, rejecting their dependence and relationship with the other part, thinking that this is the way to achieve their true purpose, their true fulfillment in life.

Whether it is men or women ignoring their evolutionary reality (that they are designed to join in sex with a member of the opposite sex, creating a single organism and working for its benefit), the result is the same. Traditional roles and values are discarded, each sex selfishly works for its own good with no concern for how it affects the other sex, and the end result is that neither sex is too invested in their society and civilization, resulting in low birthrates and dysfunctional families.

If there were no feminists, but masculinism was the order of the day the way feminism is today, the result would be the same. We would have men constantly working for their own sex’s benefit and calling the other sex stupid, worthless and inferior, telling her a man needs a woman the way a fish needs a bicycle3, telling her the world would be a better place without her, and that she is responsible for all of the world’s problems.4

Some men think that it is justified to be a masculinist as a response to feminism. That is what feminists say too, that even if they are selfish and misandrist (male-hating), men have had it coming for centuries.

Those of us who are adults can escape these melodramatic and juvenile arguments and act according to evolutionary reality, doing what brings us most fulfillment. I will never be selfish toward the woman I love, I will never treat her like anything less than a man, and I will never blame her for acting the way women are designed to act. And I will never marry a woman who thinks men are inferior to women.

Unlike the people of either camp, I will not consider men and women rivals. I will consider them equal members of the same species and union, each making the other the way it is, both working for the same goal.

Man’s Masculine Role and Woman’s Feminine Role in Family and Civilization

As has already been covered, man’s job in his family is to create the peace and space within which his woman and children can be happy and carefree.

This page that you are viewing contains the whole of chapter 21 of my book Sex and Purpose, available on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook and paperback.

A human is a two-bodied organism. The male’s job is to reshape and maintain the external environment within which successful procreation can happen. The female’s job is to create the internal environment within which successful procreation can happen.

A man builds the civilization or nest, the woman inhabits it and builds the children inside her. Similar to the way a queen bee takes care of procreation while the rest take care of going out to gather resources,  building the colony and defending her, a woman takes care of procreation while the man takes care of providing for her, building what is needed by their civilization and defending her and it.

Those are the fundamental genetic instincts that drive humans. Since humans are highly complex creatures, they can create various differing arrangements that do not always reflect the form/substance distinction between a man and his woman. But regardless of what civilization it is you are looking at, you will see the above realities operating underneath everything else.

A man’s focus is external, he is always interested in the other, in the environment, in ideas, in machines and structures. A woman’s focus is internal. She is interested in herself and her relationship with the world, in maintaining herself, her children and her relationships with her man, her relatives and everyone else.

Whenever we are looking at a man and woman who have sex regularly, we are looking at a single creature that works for its own good, each body doing what is necessary for the whole.

Man fulfilling his masculine purpose. Boat Builder by John George Brown (c. 1904)

Since a man’s focus is external, he doesn’t care too much about his relationships. He wants to reach a stable, reliable relationship with his woman, something that is achieved best if she is young and he has regular sex with her, so that a deep emotional bond is maintained. Once this is achieved, he wants to be free to do what is necessary to improve his family’s situation in the world. He does not want what he calls relationship drama, because it reflects an inefficiency within the internal structure of his family, which is not his specialty. It is for this reason that men generally do not like romantic novels and films. Men want to find the perfect woman and be bonded with her ever after. It is the “ever after” they are interested in, the things they can accomplish once everything is working. While for a woman, it is not the ever after that is so much her interest as the process of getting there.

She is designed to enjoy working to get there, meaning she enjoys the work of romance, the work of catching the right guy to join his already-built or being-built kingdom.

A man, on the other hand, is designed to enjoy the work of building civilization, rather than the work of getting her, because to him building civilization is getting her. Evolution promises them if they build the right civilization, she will come into it, inhabit it and build his children inside her, end of story.

For a woman, that is the end of her procreative goal. She has acquired her nest, and everything else from there should be plain sailing. For a man, it is just the start. Once he has her impregnated, that’s when his most important task starts, to work to grow and sustain and expanding civilization.

A man doesn’t want to watch a film about how a woman ends up getting the right man to impregnate her. He wants to watch a film that starts from there. He wants to watch a man who already has his seed inside the perfect woman, who then goes about the world doing interesting things, being involved in the action of building, defending and maintaining civilization, whether as a spy, scientific genius or detective.

A man’s job, therefore, is to be a creator, a builder, a protector and a maintainer, who perfects his work and continuously works to increase his status, while ensuring the wellbeing of those who are in his care.

A woman’s job is to ride with him through all of this, providing him with a warm and sweet home he can always come back to, so that he can feel that it is all worth it. A man who knows the perfect woman is lovingly waiting for him at home is going to be highly effective and motivated at whatever he does. He feels appreciated, and he feels like his life is going in the right direction.

Evolutionarily, a woman likes to think of his man as someone who is out there doing cool things for both of them. A man likes to think of his woman as inhabiting his home, that all she has to do. He will most effective at doing his evolutionary job when he knows he can go home to a woman who is ready to complete him. Every man’s dream is to go home after work to a woman who loves him and willingly opens her legs for him. Once he has this in his life, he will feel that he has everything a man could ask for.

There is, therefore, an evolutionary distribution of labor between a man and woman. A man’s labor is outside the home, he is supposed to suffer stress and damage outside and come home to be made whole again. A woman’s labor is inside the home, she is supposed to protect his children inside her and remain safe from the troubles of the world, so that healthy and happy children can be born to the both of them and be raised by them.

In this way, this two-bodied organism reproduces and raises its young.

In the modern world, while we can create complicated artificial arrangements that go against the above, since people mistakenly think it is fairer if both sexes carry exactly the same responsibilities and duties. A man who washes dishes and changes diapers, and a woman who works outside the home, are considered admirable for going against their genetics.

But when a man and woman are not taught otherwise, they always revert to their genetic roles, because it has the momentum of millions of years of evolution behind it. A 50-year-old ideological movement stands zero chance of undoing it or overcoming it. It will forever be like a fish swimming against the current of a river.

While there is nothing wrong with a man helping out in the home, and it is in fact an admirable and worthy thing if he has nothing better to do, it is an incredible waste resources for a woman to make her husband work inside the home if he is a lawyer who could be making $200 an hour doing his job instead.

Men, due to their testosterone and abstract brain, have a higher earning potential, as is admitted even by feminists. Men intentionally choose high-paying fields like mathematics and petroleum engineering when women absolutely hate the very idea of these fields. Women would rather study in low-earning but comfortable fields like English and psychology.

While some people think this is the sign of an intentionally unfair system created by men that should be dismantled, it is actually the sign of an unfair arrangement created by evolution. Men are interested in accomplishment, i.e. in watching the last minute of the romance movie, while women are interested in process, in watching the whole movie.

Intellectual women are more like men, in that they enjoy abstract topics, although generally if it is not to the same creepily obsessive degree as men, spending until 4 AM awake to finish solving some mathematical problem that is not going to earn them any money to solve, or staying awake that long to finish a stage in a video game.

House Builders by Frank Dicksee (1880)

In their families, intellectual women prefer men who treat them like equals intellectually, not just as an inhabitant of their home to be fed and had sex with. They want more from life than just process, than just enjoying life, getting pregnant and raising children. They generally want to be somewhere in the middle between the masculine and the feminine evolutionary roles, enjoying family life, but also doing more.

Like a man, they too want accomplishment. In the Victorian era, they did this by forming clubs, writing novels and travel journals, and being involved with charities. Today they do it by having careers or doing the Victorian things mentioned.

Some of these women become feminists, thinking that this is the right way for all women to be, failing to realize that humans are on a spectrum, the gender role they prefer is somewhere between masculine (accomplishment-oriented) and the feminine (process-oriented). There are women who are perfectly happy to take care of their men’s homes, to have regular sex, get pregnant and raise children, without wanting to do anything more besides these. They want to enjoy the process of life, and there is nothing wrong with this. Such women are not worthless, this is how the majority of women have been throughout history, they must be loved and admired for being an essential part of humanity’s history and survival.

Other women are still in the feminine zone, but closer to the masculine side, so that they want both process and accomplishment.

Others are in the masculine side, tomboys who do not enjoy feminine things but masculine things, and who like to have careers and accomplishments. Unfortunately some of these women are highly misogynistic, and the staunchest feminists are generally among them, because they discard the majority of women and their interests as worthless and stupid. Since they are so masculine themselves, they think that all women should be like them. Like the most sexist men, they think that there is something lowly and disgusting about a woman’s process-centered life, that there is something blameworthy if a woman plays her evolutionarily feminine role too well, the role she is designed to enjoy and do best.

Thus you have career women who think their mothers are worthless and stupid because they failed to “do anything with their lives”, content to be feminine women doing feminine things. There is nothing a feminine woman has to “do with her life” other than being a woman. If she is closer to the feminine end of the spectrum, this is what she enjoys and values. She is process-centric, not accomplishment-centric. To her the greatest accomplishment is to live every moment fully and to see his man and children celebrated, not to have a bunch of meaningless-to-her trophies on her shelf. Her job is to make everyone else’s accomplishment possible, and she takes complete pride in that, knowing that her husband and children’s accomplishments are a job well done…by her.

We must learn to celebrate this type of woman, this woman that many feminists consider worthless and embarrassing for her lack of masculine trophies. It is our job to defend her from the non-stop slander she suffers by domineering feminists. She doesn’t have to do anything to prove herself worthy besides fulfilling her evolutionary role, of being there for her family. That is sufficient honor for her. Feminists can keep their stupid degrees and jobs, she doesn’t want any of that. She wants to enjoy being with her children, seeing them grow and become worthy members of society.

Instead of ignorantly deciding that there is only one right type of woman that should exist, we must instead acknowledge that women are on a spectrum, and each type of woman enjoys a type of life specific to her. It is her job to determine what it means to have a worthy life. It is none of a feminist’s business to tell her. Such a woman is closer to a woman’s feminine function, of being there for her family, than a career woman is. A career woman who has to leave her infant in the care of potentially abusive caretakers is not doing the world any favors. She is subjecting her child to people who have no reason to love him or her, who may grow up feeling abandoned and uncared for, and who may not prosper. This is not something to celebrate, but something to condemn. It is a child’s right to be brought up by their mother. Studies may eventually show that it is nothing short of child abuse to subject one’s child to the unloving care of others.

These women do not need a degree or career to be loved and considered worthy. Mother Love by Walter Langley (early 20th century)

A family woman who has no greater accomplishment than supporting a husband and children who accomplish things is greater and more admirable than a career woman who brings up a psychologically scarred child, and whose husband feels abandoned and ignored. A man and woman together create a single organism. What kind of organism is this? An ineffective one.

At any rate, women should be free what they do with their lives, and they should be considered equally worthy, whether they choose careers or homemaking. I am not against women having careers, I am against subjecting children to daycare. I cannot say what the perfect solution is, or if there is one. A woman could marry early, when is most attractive and most capable of capturing the hearts of the highest quality men, then once her children reach puberty, she could start seeking intellectual accomplishments. Although a woman who really wants to intellectual accomplishment may not enjoy this type of life.

Or perhaps the best way is for a woman to seek intellectual accomplishment until she gives birth, at which point, with the help of her heightened feminine hormones, she can enjoy homemaking for a number of years, and once the children grow up, she can then go on to again do intellectual work.

I am not one to tell what a woman should do with her life, because I firmly believe in her basic humanity, her right to do what she wants with her life. What I am saying here is that there is nothing inherently admirable about having a career, and there is nothing deplorable about a woman being perfectly content with being there for her family. Both of these cases are evolutionarily mediated. It is the height of ignorance and stupidity to make moral judgments on either type of woman, considering one inherently more admirable, when both are the products of their genes and millions of years of evolution. This is discriminating against someone for the way their genes made them, it is exactly the same as discriminating against people for having black skin.

This discussion has its converse. A man may born closer to the feminine side than the masculine side, and may enjoy process more than accomplishment. These men are made fun of for being “nancy boys”. It is equally discriminatory to chide such men for not seeking accomplishments than it is to chide women for seeking accomplishments. In both cases, a person is discriminated against for not seeking their assigned gender roles.

Unlike feminists, I do not believe there is anything wrong with gender roles. They exist not because of an artificial, man-made patriarchy, but due to millions of years of evolution. Most women are feminine, most men are masculine. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this means most women will be process-oriented, most men accomplishment-oriented. The traditional gender roles come from these facts, and there is nothing wrong with these roles. This is how the majority functions.

What is wrong is when a short-sighted and ignorant society castigates someone for not acting like everyone else. Realizing the unfairness in this is what makes some people mistakenly say that gender roles are artificial constructs. They are not. They are genetic realities. No matter how hard we try to stamp them out, they will always come back, because they are genetically mediated.

If there is nothing wrong with a woman not living up to traditional men’s expectations by refusing to be a homemaker, there is nothing wrong with a man not living up to traditional women’s expectations by refusing to be an accomplished man. Career women abandon traditional gender roles by seeking careers, and what is known as a “nancy boy” can also abandon traditional gender roles by not seeking a career.

While the modern world has moved to a place where there a place for any woman who wants to abandon traditional gender roles, there is no such place for a man (unless he enters a homosexual relationship). Everyone laughs at him for being weak and wimpy, for not being a man, for being needy, for being like a woman. And almost no one sees that there is something wrong with this.

Such men are not the topic of my research, so I cannot say what should be done regarding them or what they should do. I merely want to point out that they are the opposite of a career woman, but what defines them is that they do not want careers. They instead have the process-oriented homemaker instinct, and society has no interest in them or place for them. They are supposed to either “man up” or die. One thing such men can do is to get testosterone injections, since testosterone is an extremely powerful substance that can rewrite their very bone structure and make them feel like an ordinary man. What they can do besides this I cannot say.

Understanding Islam’s Sophisticated Approach to Slavery: Why Muslims Practiced Slavery in the Past, and Why They Reject it Today

It may sound like nothing but empty apologetics to defend Islam’s toleration of slavery and say that Islam’s goal was to abolish it, when Islam’s Prophet  and his companions all practiced it widely. And generally this is what much of the arguments defending Islam’s views on slavery sound like when they come from traditional scholars.

It is difficult to reconcile classical Islam with modern views on slavery because classical Islam calls for applying the Quran and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s traditions ﷺ as recorded in hadith collections) as equal authorities. Since the Prophet ﷺ practiced slavery, the implication is that anyone can practice it without it being an issue. Saying slavery is morally wrong today is like saying the Prophet ﷺ did something morally wrong, which naturally is considered unacceptable. The Saudi Salafi scholar Saleh al-Fawzan recently issued a fatwa (ruling) saying that terrorist groups operating in Iraq have the right to enslave women belonging to the non-Muslim Yazidi minority.

The root of the problem is the corruption of the Quran’s status and role within Islam. While Islam was originally a religion based on the Quran, with hadith acting as a helper, today the Quran has become overshadowed by hadith, so that the Quran is no longer considered the always-relevant, always-supreme authority within Islam that it is meant to be.

Within conservative Sunni Islam, there are two major schools of thought, one of which cannot explain Islam’s toleration of slavery in a satisfactory manner. This side includes classical scholars and Salafis. The other side is the Quran-focused school, which can provide a satisfactory explanation while also being fully in agreement with the modern world’s ban on slavery. For a detailed discussion of Quran-focused Islam and its differences from classical Islam, please see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

To start the discussion, I will quote the relevant part of the linked essay that deals with slavery:

When we modern folk consider slavery repulsive, when we believe in human rights and the dignity of every human being, and when we find that the Quran, while regulating slavery, never commands it, then we can reject slavery and ban it in our societies. Our living guide, the Quran, does not ask us to practice slavery. Our dead guide, hadith, mentions that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions, widely practiced it, because that was the common practice in the world at the time, and it served various beneficial functions (it was far superior to the Jewish and Christian practice of killing all men, women and children of a defeated enemy, or leaving them to starve). It served a purpose at the time. And if 10,000 years from now, the world goes back to being undeveloped and slavery becomes commonplace, then the Quran is there to regulate it again and slowly eradicate it.

Classical scholars today are all against slavery to some degree, but they also have to “defend the Sunnah” by saying that it is a part of Islam and by finding various justifications for it. They are placed in the difficult position of having to say that there is nothing morally wrong with slavery (because the Prophet, peace be upon, practiced it), that the Prophet’s traditions are meant to be applied as an equal to the Quran today, and that slavery today is wrong and that Islam is against it. Quran-focused Islam doesn’t suffer from having to adopt these contradictory stances, because it believes the point of Islam is to follow the Quran, and that the Sunnah is merely a help toward this.

The Quran does not command slavery, therefore if there is no slavery in a society, then Muslims do not have to engage in it, and they are free to ban it. But, if Islam finds itself in a society that already practices it, then Islam can be adopted by it, in this way their practice of slavery is reformed and slowly eradicated (the Quran strongly encourages freeing slaves, and a child born to a slave and her master is considered a free person in Islamic law.)

[…]

So we can honestly say that slavery was a part of Islam then, but that it is no longer part of Islam today, and that one day in the far future it could again become part of Islam. Our religion is always updating itself. There is no such thing as a single Islam the entirety of whose practices and ways of life can be set in stone and followed for eternity, as Salafis think. Instead, Islam is always a self-renewing derivation of the Quran and life, guided by hadith and classical scholarship wherever needed. If people say slavery is wrong, we agree with them, and tell them that Islam wants to eradicate it. If they point out Islam’s historical practice of slavery, we say it tolerated it because it was a worldwide practice then, because it served practical purposes, because banning it could have had violent consequences, but now that the world is different, Islam, too, can be different, because the Quran is living among us, telling us how to respond to each new age of the world.

According to Abul A’la Maududi, the Prophet ﷺ freed 63 slaves by himself during his life. In his commentary on Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s Bulugh al-Maram, the historian Muhammad bin Isma`eel al-San`ani says that the Prophet ﷺ and his companions together freed over thirty-nine thousand slaves in their lives.

The question then is if Islam had to tolerate slavery for practical purposes, why did the Prophet ﷺ himself and his close companions have concubines? Couldn’t they have chosen to be morally better than the rest of the population?

I will focus on early Islamic history, since what Muslims did after that did not always reflect Islamic principles. If we find moral justification for the Prophet’s practices ﷺ, then this is sufficient. It is not necessary to find moral justification for Ottoman practices regarding slavery, since what they did regarding slavery and a thousand other things does not necessary reflect the teachings of Islam.

Islam’s critics may say that we modern Muslims are trying to back-rationalize Islam’s “savage” beginnings by reinterpreting the Prophet’s actions ﷺ as if he wasn’t a vicious and power-seeking warlord. But as will be shown below, his policies and reforms regarding slavery were so noble and ahead of their time that he puts Christians of a thousand years later to shame.

The Arabian System of Slavery

Slavery has been a part of life in most human societies. American Christians were having sex with their black slaves by the tens of thousands. Since Christianity has no framework for dealing with slavery, the slaves and the children born would be abandoned, rather than taken care of as Islam would require.

At Islam’s beginnings, it was common practice to take the defeated enemy’s women as slaves, this was done by the pagans too. It was an ordinary and accepted part of life. Before Islam, Arabs had 20 ways of acquiring slaves according to the scholar Muhammad Mutawalli Sha`rawi, such as people being made slaves due to debt, or a tribe offering one of their own as a slave as an offering to another tribe, or one tribe attacking another with the purpose of enslaving them. Islam reduces these ways to only one way: Enemy prisoners coming out of a just war, not an offensive war done for gain, but a war done against an aggressor.1 And if there are international treaties for dealing with prisoners of war, like there are today, then this way too would be closed.

So within the Islamic system, this is how slaves are created:

  1. During an age of the world where slavery is a worldwide practice, some group launches a war of aggression against Muslims. The Quran expects Muslims to sign treaties with their neighbors and commands them to not be aggressors, therefore a war would only be against an enemy that has broken treaties. Of course, many Muslim states throughout history have abused Islamic law to justify wars of aggression, but the actions of Muslims are one thing, and Islamic principles are another. You cannot hold Islam responsible when Muslims break its laws. All major religions, ideologies and constitutions have been used to justify wars of aggression.
  2. The enemy is offered peace but refuses to back down.
  3. The enemy is conquered.
  4. The enemy’s men, women and children are taken as captives and have the status of slaves, with a long list of rights ensured by Islam. Note that the enemy would have done the same to the Muslims if they had been the conquerors.

This is what happened to the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe, which at Islam’s darkest hour, when the Muslims were under attack by a large alliance of pagan Arabs during the Battle of the Trench, they broke their treaty with the Muslims and plotted with the attackers to help them destroy the Muslim state. Their men were executed for high treason (treason during a time of war, it is also the law in the United States to execute for high treason), and their women and children were enslaved. Executing the enemy’s men was done for their treason, this wasn’t the standard practice against enemies.

In Islam’s early history, this enslavement of an enemy was not done out of aggression. An enemy, instead, initiated the aggression, with full knowledge of its potential consequences. In the case of Banu Qurayza, it was a risk they took, and it did not pay off. Had they been successful, it would have been the Muslims who would have suffered execution and enslavement under the hands of the pagan Arabs and their Jewish accomplices.

Couldn’t God have asked the Muslims to do something morally superior to enslaving the women and children? He could have, but He didn’t. We can speculate regarding this, although we may not be able to find a conclusive answer.

One important reason for tolerating slavery may have been that at the time Islam arrived, Arabs may have found it impossible to accept the idea of not enslaving an enemy, because to them this was the standard practice around the world. They may have found it incredibly unjust and infuriating to not enslave an enemy that was going to enslave them if it had the chance. Abolishing this practice could been similar to trying to teach Arabs parliamentary democracy. They may have been unable to appreciate the reasoning behind it, and this could have created discontent and division. Therefore Islam humored them for a while, allowing them to continue existing as they already existed, while reforming their practice of slavery and placing mechanisms for eradicating it slowly.

So part of the reason could be the psychology of those times. It may not have been possible to help Islam continue on the one hand, and to ask its adherents to not take defeated enemies as slaves on the other.

One other reason for tolerating slavery is that slavery took care of providing for the women and children acquired through war. The Jewish solution to this problem in Biblical times was to also kill the women and children, as is recorded in the First Book of Samuel in the Bible and in other places:

…and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (Samuel I, 15:3)

The Jews who founded the modern State of Israel also seem to have had a similar mindset.

Christians did the same at times, for example:

Albert of Aachen, a chronicler of the First Crusade era, explicitly claims that the Arab soldiers capture and enslave virgins. (According to him, the Christians just kill everyone.)

[From a historian’s answer posted on Reddit]

Muslims, being more civilized, did not kill people needlessly, and especially not women and children. The killing of women and children in war is strictly prohibited by Islamic law.

New populations of slaves acquired during war would be mostly women and children (because the men were mostly dead, since the wars in those times were often “total wars”, where all the males fought). If this population of mostly women and children had been abandoned, it could have starved, since it had no men to take care of providing for it, and to avoid starving, the women may have resorted to prostitution, as Venezuelan women do today.

The Prophet ﷺ couldn’t have asked the Muslims to take care of these women and children without getting anything in return. Food, clothing and houses did not magically fall from the sky; it required much labor to provide these. Politically it could have been highly damaging to his cause to force the men to become practically slaves of the interests of this defeated population, building them new neighborhoods of homes in their towns and feeding and clothing them. Doing this would have also led to a great increase in prostitution and theft, because this new population of women and children would have had no major alternative ways for advancing in life. This is what happened in New York City in the 1850’s when a great number of unmarried Irish women and children were dumped into the city, escaping famine in Ireland. Their neighborhoods would have turned into ghettos full of crime, as happens to all jobless and idle populations, supported by the hard labor of the Muslims.

The Prophet ﷺ could have asked his followers to marry these women and take care of their children. This wouldn’t have worked because only a man who had two homes and the income to maintain both could have married a second woman. They couldn’t keep two wives under the same roof, because this has an immense likelihood of causing marital discontent and no sensible man would do this. Most men did not have a second home or the income to maintain one. So marrying them wouldn’t have been practical, a few of the women could been married, but not most.

As a reminder, I am describing the reasons why Islam tolerated slavery in the ancient world. As I will describe below, Islam today does not tolerate slavery and Muslims around the world have supported banning it, this is not because Islamic principles have been abandoned for modern principles, it is because the Quran supports us in doing what we know to be the just and kind thing, while also tolerating slavery in societies that already practice it. The Quran has an anti-slavery agenda, but its agenda requires that it should tolerate slavery if a society already practices it, ending it from the inside (more on this later). Societies that already practice slavery may be violently opposed to the thought of abandoning slavery, as the example of the American Civil War shows. Islam’s toleration for slavery enables it to spread in such societies and gently reform it and put an end to it.

So marriage was not a practical option. What was needed was a form of marriage that did not compete with the man’s existing marriage, that did not require a second home, and that did not require high income for a man to engage in it. The Arabian system of slavery provided all of these features by enabling the women to work as servants in the men’s homes, in this way not being competitors in status to their wives. By giving the men the right to have sex with their female slaves, it made the men willing to keep them as slaves, otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted them (as will be described further).

In this way the women were taken care of and fed as were their children, they were not killed like Jews and Christians would have done, and they were not left to starve. These women grew up thinking of slavery and concubinage as a normal part of life, and their own husbands had female slaves, and they saw nothing wrong with this as long as it was not happening to them. For them the difference between being a wife and a concubine was a difference in status, not a difference between a consensual sexual relationship and rape. This is evident to someone studying China and Japan’s ancient practice of concubinage. Concubines were neither wives nor mere sex toys. They had a specific social status, it was lower than that of a wife, but it is a highly naive view of history to think of such women as merely bodies that were abused and raped.

The Christians of Egypt gifted the Prophet ﷺ a Christian concubine named Maria. Were the Christians merely sending the Prophet ﷺ a sex toy as a gesture of good will?

Of course not. As any historian of ancient times will tell you, this was similar to a man offering his daughter in marriage to someone else, with her own opinion in the matter ignored, as has been standard practice among large sections of society in all of history, especially among the aristocracy. She did not have to be placed in chains and shipped off in a box. For her this was her job, and she had no problem with doing it, similar to the way today female actresses do not mind having a male actor’s sexual organ inside them for a movie sex scene, it is part of their job and they do it. The difference is that, in theory, concubinage was “forced”, while a modern actress is not “forced” to do that. But it all depends on the woman’s mindset. A concubine did not feel raped the way a modern woman forced into slavery would feel, she felt that she belonged to a lower-class caste of women, one of whose jobs was to have sex with their masters. She may have hoped for a better life, to one day be a full wife and not merely a concubine, but she had a respected social status and function, she thought of herself as an integral part of society, not as someone imprisoned and raped against her will like modern-day sex slaves are.

These things do not justify slavery, but provide part of the explanation for why Islam tolerated it. A modern woman may value her own dignity so much that she may consider murdering anyone who tries to enslave her, but at that time, the women thought of concubinage as a forced, low-status marriage that would be their fate if their men failed to protect them.

In Islam, the relationship between a slave woman and her master is an official relationship, it is similar to a marriage. She cannot be in a sexual relationship with anyone else during this relationship. If she is already pregnant when acquired, her master does not have the right of having sex with her until she gives birth. If she becomes pregnant by her master, her master no longer has the right to sell her, because she acquires that status of umm walad and cannot be sold as a slave. Her children that are born to her and her master will be free citizens and not slaves, and if her master dies, she becomes a free woman herself. If Islam was a barbaric religion that taught its adherents to enslave people, why would it have so many sophisticated mechanisms for eradicating it? What is the point of preventing a master from selling his slave once she is pregnant or has given birth? The Christian slave owners of America didn’t think there was any point in this, since they were not civilized enough to worry about the status and rights of the slave, while the Muslims of 630 AD found a point in this, because it enabled the woman to care for her children under the care and protection of her master, while also forcing the master to take full responsibility for the children, who were now free citizens. Americans just 160 years ago were barbaric savages in their dealing with slaves compared to the “barbaric” Arabs of 630 AD.

A person who has a limited view of history may think that the best solution to slavery is to ban it and let whatever happens happen afterwards, and this was the idea of the North in mid-19th century America, which led to the American Civil War2, causing the death of about a million people (it was the bloodiest war in history up to that time). Since Islam was not invented by short-sighted humans, it respects the existing culture, enables an extremely undeveloped society to take care of the women and children who are victims of war (instead of killing them, allowing them to starve or encouraging them to become prostitutes and criminals by dumping them into cities), and provides various methods for slowly but surely eradicating slavery until it can be banned without any social unrest, the way almost all Muslim-majority countries today have banned slavery.

While these facts are, of course, not sufficient to justify slavery in the modern world, in the ancient world, given the political and economic circumstances of those times, it is understandable why Islam tolerated slavery.

It would be untrue to say that the Prophet tolerated slavery entirely out of charitable motivations. The Arabian system of enslaving war captives and distributing them was done as part of the distributing of war booty, the goods taken from a defeated prisoner. From Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet:

Seven days had elapsed since the surrender, and the Hawazin had not appeared to ask for their womcn and children back. Now thinking that they would not come, Muhammad decided to share out the captives between the Quraysh Muslims (who once again received a more important share) and the Ansar. He only just finished the distribution when a Hawazin delegation arrived. The Prophet explained to them that he had waited for them, but since they had not arrived he had already shared out the captives; he said that he would intercede for them and ask people to give back their prisoners if they wanted to. After some hesitation, all the fighters gave up their captives to the Hawazin delegation. (Pages 184 and 185)

The Muslim fighters wanted the captives as their slaves. The Prophet, however, wanted them to wait for the captives’ tribe to come and hopefully sign a peace treaty, after which they would be given back the captives. Since the Hawazin didn’t seem willing to come for a treaty, the Prophet assumed they still intended war, and for this reason allowed the Arabian system to take its course, giving his warriors what they were used to get.

But once the Hawazin finally appeared, the Prophet showed his noble character and the non-Arabian-ness of Islam by convincing his fighters to give the captives back. Instead of acting like an Arab warlord, rejoicing in defeating and enslaving an enemy that had gathered to destroy the Muslims, he let them go free once their representatives came to ask for peace.

This scene also illustrates the sensitivity of the Prophet’s political situation. He could not force his fighters to give up the captives. They were from different Arabian tribes with their own ideas about their rights and their status in relation to the Prophet. The Prophet was not in charge of a “horde” of mindless soldiers like so many detractors of Islam (especially various Jews in the West’s academia) wish to portray, he had to keep a sensitive political situation balanced, giving sufficient satisfaction to each section of his following so that they would not rebel against him.

He did not act like the largely Jewish Bolsheviks of Russia (led by the Jewish Vladimir Lenin), enforcing a new ideology on the entire population and giving everyone the option of either accepting it or dying. He humored the population, their pride, their culture and their various forms of social organization. He did not want to destroy society then rebuild it (like all Marxist and neo-Marxist ideologies wish to do), he peacefully gave his message to his society, giving them the option of either accepting it or leaving it, and never responding to the violence offered him and his followers. Only when he was elected the sovereign ruler of Medina by its main tribes did he start to act like a ruler, doing what was necessary to protect his state against aggressors.

And even then, he continued to respect the existing society and culture. Instead of acting like Lenin or Ayatollah Khomeini, using assassinations and purges to enslave the population to his interests in the name of the greater good, even though he was a prophet of God and had His authority behind him. He continued to respect them, consult them, while the Muslims continued to maintain the right to question and criticize his decisions. Even at the end of his life, when he had become the supreme ruler of Arabia, his companions severely criticized to his own face his choice of a 17-year-old as the leader of a Muslim army. Instead of thinking “God’s messenger says so, therefore no argument can be admitted”, they treated him like a human and felt free to disagree with him, so that he had to convince them of the sense and rationality of his decisions.

In his truly democratic form of governance, in allowing everyone to voice their opinions and take part in decision-making, treating him like any other human, rather than as a supreme leader, he was a far cry from the typical modern dictator who expects absolute obedience, or the typical modern democratic leader who considers democracy an annoying formality that gets in the way of their achieving their goals, paying lip service to it while betraying its principles on a daily basis. It is all the more strange that someone who had over 100,000 people under him, considering him truly a messenger from God, would never make use of his status as God’s messenger to get his way, instead allowing people to challenge him daily.

Compare him to Ayatollah Khomeini, who by the virtue of (supposedly) belonging to the Prophet’s descendants and being the main religious authority of his sect, while in his weakness he admitted to believing in democracy and spoke with non-Shia leaders like Ahmad Moftizadeh, once he achieved supremacy in Iran, he quickly went on to purge the government from his opposition, rushed the constitution he liked through the judiciary to the dismay of his opposition and his own friends, and used theological arguments to prove that his decisions could not be questioned.

Vaso di fiori sulla finestra di un harem (“The window of the Harem”) by Francesco Hayez (first half of 19th century)

The Prophet’s Concubines ﷺ

A person may acknowledge that politically and economically, it made some sense for Islam to tolerate slavery instead of banning it immediately. They may even acknowledge the fact that Islam in the modern world does not command slavery nor support it, since, in the Quran-focused school of thought, Islam is always a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and since the Quran does not command slavery, and since we in the modern world dislike slavery and consider it repulsive, Islam gives us full rights to ban it.

But they may wonder why the Prophet ﷺ himself accepted to have slave women he had sex with (concubines). Couldn’t he himself, and his closest companions, have chosen the moral high ground of avoiding it?

We cannot find a conclusive answer for this, but we can speculate. Perhaps in God’s view, there was no good to be gained by prohibiting the Prophet ﷺ and his companions from keeping concubines when everyone else did. These women would have had masters anyway, so it wouldn’t have improved the lot of these women to prevent some Muslims from keeping them, it may have even worsened their lot, because many Muslims may have tried to follow the Prophet’s example ﷺ of not keeping concubines, creating large populations of female slaves that nobody wanted. And if the Prophet ﷺ had kept concubines without having sex with them, in this way practicing slavery without the sex part, other Muslims may have tried to follow his example, and by so doing, they may have avoided keeping female slaves at all, since an important reason, perhaps 90% of the reason, for their wanting to take care of these slave women was that they received the privilege of intimacy with them. So the result, again, could have been large populations of female slaves that no one wanted. The result would have been that the slaves would have been sold to non-Muslims (since Muslims didn’t want them), and this wouldn’t have been better for the women, but worse, since the non-Muslims may have had no laws for protecting the rights of these slaves or providing them with ways for themselves or their children to be freed. So there would have been no moral gain from these choices.

By keeping concubines the way the rest of the culture did, the Prophet ﷺ showed the rest of the Muslims that they too could do this. In this way the society of that time was able to absorb conquered populations and slowly free them.

In Islam, slaves also have the right of mukataba, which was for them to be given free time in which to work, so that they could buy themselves off of their masters. In this way many male slaves were able to buy their own freedom. America’s slave owners of 1850 CE and their official laws considered their slaves and everything the slave owned as properties of their masters. Imagine their infuriation if they were told their slaves should be allowed to work in their free time, or that what they earned was not a property of the master, but a property of the slave. They, including their religious clergy, would have considered this a dangerous attack against their God-given rights over their slaves.

The Prophet ﷺ himself could have kept no concubines, saying that God had commanded him not to keep any, while making it lawful for everyone else. This could have affected his status negatively in the eyes of his followers and allies, since the concubines belonging to a man’s household added to his prestige. The Prophet himself ﷺ was part of Arabian culture, considering slavery and concubines a normal part of life, like everyone else did. God could have taught him that one day humans will discover that it is morally wrong to enslave people, but He did not for His own reasons, perhaps it served the interests of everyone, including the slaves, for the Arabian system to continue functioning like usual, with a few crucial reforms added to it to significantly reduce the number of new slaves, and to provide various ways for slaves to be freed.

While today we can think of various things the Prophet ﷺ could have done at that time instead of practicing slavery and concubinage, we can never be sure that our solutions wouldn’t fail miserably in that ancient Arabian context. We can never be sure if Islam’s solution wasn’t the best possible solution for that time and place, enabling a society to slowly eradicate slavery without causing civil wars, and without the religion being abandoned for being too ahead of its time if it had outright banned slavery.

Therefore a fair-minded reading of the Quran and early Islamic history will see that there is not sufficient justification for calling Islam a false or unjust religion for tolerating slavery at that time. They will see that the Prophet ﷺ was already greatly ahead of his time and that he made some incredible reforms in various areas of life, including reforms regarding slavery. Therefore the only thing they can criticize him for is not being even more ahead of his time, which is a pretty weak criticism. Who is to say that he wasn’t already operating as much ahead of his time as it was possible to be without people abandoning his movement?

Is Islam Outdated?

A person could say that now that the world is sufficiently developed, Islam is an outdated religion, that since it contains many rules and regulations regarding slavery, the religion must have been meant for ancient times and not today.

The truth is that there is no guarantee that the world will continue to be developed. Perhaps a nuclear war will break out 10,000 years from now and there will be isolated areas of the world that would live in conditions as basic as those of 630 AD, and in that case, there may again be warring entities that practice sexual slavery, and Islam’s rulings regarding it would become relevant again.

Or humans could establish a colony on another planet where slavery is practiced. If some people among them convert to Islam while belonging to that culture that practices it, then Islam’s rulings regarding slavery would be relevant again.

Islam’s goal is to end slavery, as it is obvious to anyone reading the Quran. Muslims have not always worked toward this goal, but this is Islam’s goal, if Muslims misapply Islam, that is their fault, not Islam’s.

The Modern Islamic View

As I explained earlier regarding the Quran-focused school of Islamic thought, since Islam is always a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and since we in the modern world reject slavery, and since the Quran does not command that we practice slavery, then it logically follows that we modern Muslims can reject slavery without issue, working to eradicate it completely, and not practicing it even when given the opportunity.

This is not a way of rejecting Islam’s old teachings. Islam is based on the Quran, and the Quran does not command slavery, therefore practicing slavery is a choice that may make sense for some Muslims in some time and place that already practices it (as in ancient Arabia or an isolated space colony), while it may not make sense in another time and place (as in the modern world today).

Islam does not force us to practice slavery. Since we Muslims believe in human rights, since we hate the idea of any woman getting raped, since we have empathy for people, we can reject slavery while remaining 100% true to the Quran and the Sunnah, practicing the full letter of the Quran in every part of our lives.

The Quran is always the same, but Islam is not. Islam changes with the times, because it is a derivation of the Quran and the time in which it exists. When the Quran is placed inside the modern world, it leads to an Islam that rejects slavery, while when the Quran is placed inside ancient Arabia, it leads to an Islam that tolerates it for a while. Think of the Quran as a computer program. The computer program is the same, but it acts differently depending on the environment in which it is placed. Here is how the program’s logic works:

If there are practical reasons for tolerating slavery, if the world practices it and banning it would do more harm than good then slavery is tolerated, otherwise it is banned.

And this program is exactly what the majority of the world’s Muslims follow today. Almost all of the world’s Muslim-majority countries have banned slavery.

Islam’s Historical Mistakes

It is true that various Islamic empires have acted aggressively and have sought to enslave not as a matter of practical necessity but for profit and pleasure. You cannot blame a modern Muslim for the deeds of these past Muslims because, as I said, Islam is a program derived from the Quran, a program that is updated daily, therefore if the Muslims of previous times, out of ignorance, lack of appreciation for human rights or sheer greed have done things that would be found morally reprehensible today, then those acts reflect the shortcomings of those Muslims and not Islam.

One could say that if Islam had forbad slavery, all of those evils would have been prevented. There is no way to know this for sure, because as explained, banning slavery may have been politically and economically unfeasible, and even if it had been banned, Muslims were still free to do a thousand other evil things, therefore slavery is nothing special. If Muslims hadn’t enslaved, Islam’s detractors would simply have found another historical deed of Muslims to criticize Islam for.

Therefore a fair-minded person will not criticize the deeds of Muslims, but the program they follow. Islam is the program, and its programming logic makes Muslims avoid and ban slavery, therefore there is nothing to criticize today’s Islam for regarding slavery. You can, however, make this criticism:

I dislike the fact that in some isolated space colony 1000 years from now if slavery is already practiced, and if some people embrace Islam, I dislike that they will not ban it immediately but instead take a generation or two doing it.

A final question could be; why believe in a religion that has parts which require so much justification, why not just abandon it and embrace the modern world instead? Because Islam has undeniable soft evidence of its truth in the Quran, therefore the issue of slavery is a very minor thing for someone who has accepted Islam based on this evidence. In my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species, I discuss the reasons why I believe in Islam.

 

Conclusion

The best of Christians have also acted as the best of Muslims in fighting slavery, therefore what I mentioned above is about Christian history, not Christian ideals. Christians continue to use Islamic history against Islam, so there is no injustice in doing the same towards Christian history, so that it is known that Christian criticism of Islam is generally quite ignorant of the ugly sides of Christian history. As for Christian work against slavery, from Wikipedia:

Several early figures, while not openly advocating abolition, did make sacrifices to emancipate or free slaves seeing liberation of slaves as a worthy goal. These include Saint Patrick (415-493), Acacius of Amida (400-425), and Ambrose (337 – 397 AD). Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-394) went even further and stated opposition to all slavery as a practice. Later Saint Eligius (588-650) used his vast wealth to purchase British and Saxon slaves in groups of 50 and 100 in order to set them free.

Today, if there is a war of conquest between a Muslim nation and a non-Muslim one, then there would be no question of slavery, the enemy’s women would be treated according to modern practices. Muslim states officially recognize and respect international treaties, and the majority of Muslims have no problems with this. It is only barbaric, CIA-trained-and-funded groups like ISIS and al-Nusra which want to bring back slavery.

So it is true that Islam does not forbid slavery, and it is against the Quran and the Sunnah to say that the religion forbids it. But it does not encourage it either. It has a sophisticated approach toward it that takes the facts on the ground into account, regulating it and ending it when the time is right, rather than doing it too soon when it might cause starvation or war.

The fact that a child born to a female slave and her master is considered a free citizen, and the fact that the Quran strongly encourages the freeing of slaves is sufficient evidence for the fact that Islam came to end slavery, not to encourage it. If the Muslims before us made the mistake of encouraging slavery at times instead of fighting against it, we the Muslims of today are not required to act like them, and in fact are fully justified in disavowing their actions as we follow the Quranic program in the modern world.

The Quranic and Prophetic Way to Treating Non-Muslims

My father says we must hate Buddhist and Hinduists because they are mushrikin. I don’t really hate them or see them as enemy. Is that normal?

There is no reason to hate them. Hatred often causes you to be blind to the good qualities in the person you hate and to only see the bad qualities in them.

We must instead treat them the way the Quran teaches us to treat people, and the way the Prophet ﷺ treated his pagan extended family and neighbors. The Prophet ﷺ did not gather his following by preaching hatred and intolerance toward others. He did it by preaching recognizing God’s Oneness and the importance of connecting with Him, and by preaching good manners and patience toward the insults and attacks of the pagans against the Muslims.

Here is an anecdote about the Prophet ﷺ and his treatment of his arch-enemy Ibn Ubayy in Al-Madinah:

The Prophet’s leniency toward this hypocrite continued until Ibn Ubayy died of natural causes. The Prophet accepted to have his (own) garment used as Ibn Ubayy’s burial shroud upon Ibn Ubayy’s son’s request.

The Quran says that God would not forgive the like of Ibn Ubayy even if the Prophet asked for forgiveness for them seventy times, so the Prophet said he would ask for his forgiveness more than seventy times. He accepted to pray at his funeral, after which verse 9:84 of the Quran was revealed which prohibited him from praying at the funerals of proven hypocrites. (From my book A Beautiful Path to God).

The Prophet ﷺ, instead of finding excuses to hate this man who spent most of his time plotting against the Muslims, continued to find excuses for him, and honored him after death by letting his own garment be used as his burial shroud.

Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him was a similar person as is recorded in the Quran:

74. When Abraham’s fear subsided, and the good news had reached him, he started pleading with Us concerning the people of Lot.

75. Abraham was gentle, kind, penitent.

76. “O Abraham, refrain from this. The command of your Lord has come; they have incurred an irreversible punishment.” (The Quran, verses 11:74-76)

The angels had arrived to tell Prophet Ibrahim that they were about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, which were inhabited by a people who were homosexual rapists and robbers. Instead of rejoicing at the news of the destruction of these people, Prophet Ibrahim argues with the angels on their behalf, wanting to block the punishment.

And the Quran does not blame Prophet Ibrahim for trying to block the punishment, instead praises him for it in verse 75 above.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his ancestor Prophet Ibrahim are role models in kindness and tolerance toward others, including toward non-believers. It is the example of these two men that we must follow above all others.

If individual Buddhists or Hindus, or groups of them, commit a crime against Muslims then they should be dealt with as the case requires, the way the Prophet ﷺ dealt with the Jews, hypocrites and pagans who plotted to destroy the Muslims. But there is nothing in the Quran and the Prophet’s life ﷺ to teach us to have a blanket hatred toward people who mean us no harm just because they are not Muslim.

As for those who have not fought against you for your religion, nor expelled you from your homes, God does not prohibit you from dealing with them kindly and equitably. God loves the equitable. (The Quran, verse 60:8)

Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism

I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I came back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam. — Muhammad Abduh

At the end of the 19th century, Egypt came into increased contact with Western ideas. Travel to and from Europe became commonplace. Many intellectuals learned French and spent time in Paris. Egyptians started to feel that their conservative Islamic culture was increasingly outdated, irrelevant and inferior compared to the supposedly irreligious West.

The above saying of Muhammad Abduh elegantly expresses this realization; that despite the fact that Islam was supposed to be God’s latest and greatest religion, an irreligious civilization had built institutions, legal structures and prosperous societies that put Muslims to shame.

Cairo’s al-Azhar University was the world’s foremost authority on orthodox Sunni Islam at the time (and still is for most of the world). Al-Azhar’s scholars rushed to update their understanding of Islam so that its teachings wouldn’t seem inferior to the Western doctrines of socialism, communism, romanticism and humanism. Books were published with the intent of proving that, despite appearances and the obvious facts on the ground, Islam was really a socialist doctrine, and that it had great respect for logic and human rights.

Islam’s secularist detractors, thanks to the weakening of scholarly authority as a result of colonial rule, were able to speak loudly and point out Islam’s various failings. It was more than sufficient for them to point out the superiority of Western science, ideas and living conditions to show how inferior the Islam of their time was.

The Egyptian reformist jurist Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905 CE, al-Azhar professor and Grand Jurist of Egypt in 1899-1905), who had spent time in Paris and England, started a movement that resolutely worked to update Islamic thought and doctrine, and his follower Mahmud Shaltut (1893-1963, chief jurist of al-Azhar University in 1958-1963 CE) continued this work. They made many new and sometimes controversial rulings, some of which remain controversial up to this day. They were the first major establishment scholars to dare to risk controversy and become the subject of attack by going against established opinions and coming up with new interpretations of the Quran that sometimes conflicted with authentic hadith narrations.

By somewhat discrediting the Islamic establishment, they helped create a new generation of Islamic intellectuals that re-embraced Islam in a Quran-focused way, rather than a hadith-focused way, deriving their ideals and principles chiefly from the Quran rather than hadith.

This movement was similar to the Salafi movement, in that it wanted to go back to Islam’s roots to re-establish an authentic version of Islam pure from the decay and irrelevance of the Islamic establishment. The difference was that while the Salafi movement bought into the classical doctrine of considering the Quran equal or nearly equal to hadith, the Egyptian Islamic intellectuals considered the Quran a living book, something completely different from hadith.

Similar to the way that the printing of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 CE revived Christian belief and initiated the Puritan movement that took Christianity away from the clerics and put it inside everyone’s homes, the Egyptian movement took the Quran away from the Islamic establishment and put it in every intellectual’s home, as a living guide that taught them nearly everything they needed to know about Islam. Hadith was relegated to the task of explaining matters of ritual and practice, being an example of how the Quran is applied, rather than being a competing authority to the Quran.

Sayyid Qutb

The Egyptian intellectual Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), after spending much of his life as a secular intellectual, rediscovered Islam at the end of the 1940’s. Thanks to the new intellectual atmosphere of Egypt, he placed nearly all of his focus on the Quran, acting as if the book was sent down to him personally, instead of acting as if the Quran was merely a text belonging to a large library of Islamic texts determining Islamic belief and practice, which is how a person going through a classical Islamic education usually thinks.

The fact that he was a secular intellectual was probably crucial in developing his new understanding of Islam. He was originally repulsed by the classical Islam of his time and considered it outdated and irrelevant, only to rediscover the Quran and realize that the spiritual and ethical teachings of the Quran led to a worldview, spirituality and religion that were very different from the Islam of his time.

Imagine if the Prophet, peace be upon him, was brought back to life and placed among the people to lead Islam once again. What kind of revolution would that be? What kind of inspiration and revival? Sayyid Qutb says that you must treat the Quran as if it is alive, as if it was being revealed on the mouth of the Prophet this very moment, guiding us every hour and every day.

To a secular person reading this, this may sound like insanity, to treat a 1400-year-old book as if it is up-to-date even though its text has not changed in that time. It would be insanity if the Quran wasn’t a miraculous book. But, if like Sayyid Qutb, you are a secular person with very good knowledge of Arabic (he was a literary critic) who rediscovers the Quran, ignoring all their preconceived notions about Islam, you’d know exactly why he thought as he did.

Realizing the Quran’s immense superiority over all other texts and authorities, he came to consider it what the Quran was meant to be all along; a miraculous text designed to guide humanity for all time; a living guide. This means that the Quran is as much of an authority as the Prophet, peace be upon him, would have been if he were living among us today. The Quran is not considered a dead book to be left on the shelf, to be considered along with hadith as a historical artifact, sometimes to be followed, other times to be ignored in favor of hadith-based principles. What the Quran says, it is as if God is saying it to us today, as if He sent it down to us this very moment.

The Quran as a Software Program

The easiest way to understand the difference between Sayyid Qutb’s Quran-focused and classical Islam is to use the analogy of a computer program. A computer program can choose to do entirely different things based on the environment in which it is run. The program is always the same program, but its behavior can be different depending on the environment. The issue of slavery makes this clear. When the Quran was applied during the Prophet’s time ﷺ, it led to an Islam that tolerated slavery, since the environment required this toleration. When the Quran is applied today, it leads to an Islam that does not tolerate slavery, because the environment no longer requires that Islam should tolerate slavery.

The Quran with its laws and principles has always been the same, it has not changed. But it contains programming logic that does different things at different times:

If the environment already practices slavery, then tolerate it, reform it and slowly eradicate it. If the environment does not practice slavery, then do not practice it, but act the way the best of mankind act.

The Quran does not seek to control every facet of our lives. It gives us a set of ideals, principles and basic laws, and from there gives us the freedom to live our lives according to reason, common sense and our knowledge of the world. The Quran does not lead to an Islam that is out of date or anachronistic, seeking to bring 630 CE into the modern world. It leads to an Islam that is made up of Quranic logic applied to the modern world. It stands up to all of its challenges, rejects its falsehoods and adopts the good in it.

This Quran-derived Islam can evolve and become better over time. As we humans become better connected and find better ways of social organization and interacting with outsiders, we can adopt these new practices and make them part of our Islam. The Quran teaches us to adopt the highest ideals and principles, therefore if the modern world teaches us things about the rights of humanity that all of us can recognize as good, then we can adopt these new things even if the ancients did not. The Quran does not teach us to freeze ourselves in time.

Classical Islam and Salafism make the mistake of trying to follow the Quran and its ancient application (hadith) as equal authorities, not realizing that hadith is nothing but a derivation of the Quran, a record of how the ancients applied the Quran in their specific time and place, a record of the behavior of the Quranic program in the ancient world.

Classical Islam and Salafism will always suffer conflict as they try to apply the Quran and hadith equally, because they are misusing both the Quran and hadith when they do this, not recognizing the status and role of either. It is like having a computer program that acts a certain way today, but that acted a different way in 630 CE, and trying to adopt its 630 CE behavior instead of its modern behavior. It is rejecting the Quranic program’s modern authority, treating it as a dead guide, acting as if following the unreliable record of its behavior in 630 CE is preferable to following its reliable, ever-living, ever-authoritative principles and ideals today.

By mistaking hadith for a program by itself (rather than considering it a record of the way the Quranic program functioned), an unreliable and enormous tome of text becomes an equal authority to the Quran and refuses to allow the Quran to have the freedom to respond to the modern world. It mistakenly tries to adopt the program’s ancient behavior, instead of trying to adopt the program.

Classical Islam neglects the program (the Quran) in favor of adopting its unreliably recorded set of behaviors (hadith). In this way it refuses to admit that the Quran could do anything different today than what it did in 630 CE, acting as if God’s miraculous text, God’s guide to mankind for eternity, is a dead book that can teach us nothing new today. We are made to ignore God’s miraculous program in favor of a record of the way it was applied, a record that was written down somewhere between 100 and 200 years after the fact. The software analogy and an appreciation for the Quran’s immense superiority over hadith shows that this is almost insanity and is bound to lead to a corruption of Islam’s mission; instead of being a highly dynamic, always-relevant, always-responding program that deals with the matters of the age, it becomes an outdated program that thinks its highest achievement can only be an accurate reenactment of 630 CE.

This way of thinking led Muslims to forget their duty of living in constant renewal as necessitated by the Quran, becoming a backward religion that focused on appearances and rituals, leading to a worldwide Muslim community that had the rug swept from under them by the modern world. Instead of being leaders of modernity, they had divided societies where the religious leadership continued to advocate for a remake of 630 CE while the general population watched on with horror as their supposedly world-class religion was proven inferior time and again by the West’s prosperity, justice, empathy and peacefulness.

The analogy to a computer program is, of course, not exactly accurate. Hadith is a necessary part of applying the Quran in the modern world. The proper response is not to abandon hadith, but to realize that it is the Quran that we must follow as our ever-living guide, as our program in life, and to use hadith as a helper where needed, a helper toward following the Quran.

Once we think of hadith as a helper toward applying the Quran, everything falls into its proper perspective. Hadith no longer dominates Islamic thinking, and the Quran is no longer neglected and its mission abandoned. The Quran once more becomes the center of Islam, its priorities becoming the priorities of Islam, and its philosophy is used to judge both the modern world and hadith.

A Religion for Everyone, Not Just Scholars

Since the Quran is a very clear and simple book, Sayyid Qutb’s Islam takes the power of interpretation from the clerics and gives it to every Muslim capable of reading and understanding the Quran. Sayyid Qutb’s Muslims are not followers of the clerical establishment (although they respect it and use it where necessary), rather, like the Prophet’s Companions, they are followers of the Quran, and this gives them the power, the courage, and some would call it the audacity, to question everything within Islam, using the Quran to renew Islam daily, removing all practices and beliefs that went unchallenged a hundred years ago, but that today we have good reason to challenge as we follow the Quran.

Islam becomes a merger of the Quran and the cutting-edge of modern thought (rationalism and empiricism), instead of being a behemoth of tens of thousands of pages like classical Islam that only a scholar can properly understand.

Hadith is not a competitor to the Quran, or an equal authority to it. Hadith merely tells us about the Prophet’s efforts in following the Quran’s guidance. Islamic belief and practice is entirely about following the Quran, hadith is there to help us toward this goal, it is not there to give us new goals, to add things to Islam, to create a companion religion to the religion of the Quran that also has to be followed, which is sadly how Islam is practiced today.

What I am describing is not Quranism, the belief that only the Quran should be followed. We are still within orthodox Sunni Islam, we are merely rediscovering the Quran’s status and role.

Sayyid Qutb is today a controversial figure due to his political activism; his teachings have been used as inspiration by a number of famous terrorist organizations. Sayyid Qutb’s new, Quran-centric thinking naturally made him one of the most dangerous men in Egypt, because he had a version of Islam with him that was always up-to-date. Unlike the Islam of the scholars, it wasn’t concerned with technical matters of jurisprudence, or reciting the virtues of performing the minor pilgrimage and fasting on particular days of the month. His version of Islam was like the Prophet’s, was concerned with fighting injustice and tyranny, freeing the people from slavery and oppression, and reconnecting them with God as their always-present guide. He naturally made many enemies due to discrediting the authority of the ruling class on the one hand, and the authority of classical clerics and their control over Islam on the other.

Sayyid Qutb made the mistake of believing that the seeking of political power by Muslim groups is a good thing, and that said groups had the right to carry arms to defend themselves. This, as would be expected, was used (after his death) by others to justify terrorism. This matter is unrelated to the discussion (of Quran-focused Islam), therefore I will not delve into it. For a discussion of why I consider political power-seeking by Muslim groups detrimental to the interests of Islam, Muslims and humanity, please see my essay The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan (And a Critique of Political Islam).

Ahmad Moftizadeh

Two major Islamic leaders who followed in Sayyid Qutb’s footsteps were the Iranian Sunnis Ahmad Moftizadeh and Nasir Subhani. It is unclear to me how much influence Sayyid Qutb had on Moftizadeh, it is possible that Moftizadeh developed his Quran-focused Islam in parallel to, rather than as a result of, Sayyid Qutb’s Islam.

Nasir Subhani was a member of Iran’s Muslim Brotherhood and Sayyid Qutb’s influence on him is well-documented.

Ahmad Moftizadeh worked against the oppressive (but Western-backed) Shah regime of Iran, and later with the leader of the Iranian Revolution (Khomeini) in good faith, trying to ensure the rights of Iran’s multi-million Sunni population. Khomeini soon betrayed his promises to the Sunnis (and to some of his own Shia cleric friends who truly believed in reform and coexistence with Sunnis, such as Ayatollah Beheshti) and started a campaign of torture and assassination against them that continues until this day. Moftizadeh spent many years in prison under torture. He died in 1993, three months after being freed, due to the irreparable damage he had sustained under the regime’s treatment.

Nasir Subhani

Similar to Moftizadeh, Nasir Subhani, who was more of a classical scholar than Ahmad Moftizadeh, also worked against the Shah’s regime, and later worked with Iran’s revolutionary government to advocate for the rights of the Sunnis. Like Moftizadeh, he fearlessly criticized the duplicity and tyranny of Iran’s new “Islamic” regime, so that he was stalked by the Iranian authorities for years while he continued his activism and teaching career in Iran and abroad, until he was caught in 1989 and executed in 1990.

It should be mentioned that neither men ever condoned violence against the regime. In fact both spoke harshly against certain violent nationalist elements of the Kurdish population. Their imprisonment and deaths were brought about without any semblance of due process, and the Iranian treatment of both men were harshly criticized internationally.

 

The Plasticity of Interpretation

The most significant result of Sayyid Qutb’s Quran-focused school is that it results in a form of Islam that is always renewing itself, day by day and year after year. Regardless of what year we are in, we always go back to the Quran, treating it as if it was revealed right at this time, as if everything it says is relevant and authoritative this moment. This means that as times change, interpretations can change (because they are updated daily as new knowledge and ideas arrive and are exposed to the Quran), and in this way Islamic thinking can change, while always staying true and authentic to the Quran.

One good example of this is the issue of evolution. Old interpretations of Islam fought evolution, and classical scholars to this day continue fighting it. But the Quran-focused version of Islam is perfectly capable of handling it, absorbing it and making it a part of Islam, because the Quran is compatible with evolution. If science says something, our living authority (the Quran) agrees with it, but hadith and the scholars disagree, Sayyid Qutb’s Quran-focused Islam enables Muslim intellectuals and scientists to bypass the classical scholarly community and make progress on their own, reconciling science and Islam. For a detailed discussion of Islam and evolution, please see my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species.

And if one day science proves evolution false, we again go back to the Quran and ask its opinion on the new theory. We have the Quran living among us, enabling us to answer any challenge that Islam faces, now or 10,000 years from now.

Sayyid Qutb’s Islam is the Quran applied in the modern world, guided by hadith where needed. In this way a simple, highly capable, intellectually satisfying and non-contradictory Islam is achieved that is not anachronistic or irrelevant, that is not concerned with unimportant and technical matters, but that is always fully fitted to the needs of the age, that’s always highly relevant and highly activist, because it is derived from God’s living authority, as if the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, was living among us this day.

Embracing Sayyid Qutb’s Islam is like going back to the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, being with him and supporting him in his mission. It accomplishes what Salafism wishes to accomplish; to have an Islam that is alive and relevant today, having a living authority from God that guides each one of our steps, motivates us and inspires us to spend our lives in the service of God.

While classical Islam futilely continues to try to derive a modern Islam from the Quran and hadith, Sayyid Qutb’s Islam derives Islam only from the Quran, then uses hadith to provide guidance where needed. Since the Quran is a living authority, the Islam that is derived from it is always fully modern and up-to-date, and always fully compatible with science (if it wasn’t, if it contained even a single scientifically-provable error, it wouldn’t be worth believing in).

The Quran is not twisted to fit science and modern thinking, because it does not have to be. The Quran, by the virtue of being a miraculously always up-to-date book, always fits science and modern thinking, whether it is the ‘modern’ of now or the ‘modern’ of the next century we are talking about. The Quran opposes many things in the modern world, such as usury and sexual freedom. Those of us who know something about the history of the world know that when it opposes the modern world, the Quran is not backward, but ahead of its time. Usury is a highly corrupt practice that causes the super-rich to enjoy exponential wealth growth at the expense of everyone else. Sexual freedom breaks down the evolutionary mechanisms for the continuation of civilization; no matter how good it sounds, the end result is always below-replacement fertility rates and ultimately extinction; just because it takes a few centuries to cause a society to go extinct does not make it any less evil than a deadly plague.

Renewing Islam While Following the Sunnah

Quran-focused Islam gives its adherents immense freedom to modernize Islam and counter attacks against it, while also giving them the freedom to live authentically modern intellectual and personal lives. When living in the West, instead of acting like Salafis and Orthodox Jews, separating ourselves from the world, we fully embrace Western life and thinking, reject its evils, and work to improve it from the inside. We act the way the Prophet, peace be upon him, acted in Mecca. He did not separate himself from his pagan people, even though he recognized the evil they did and tried to change things for the better. He was fully-fledged member of Arabian society, living it and breathing it, and instead of being concerned with matters of technical detail, he was concerned with Islam’s spiritual message. His mission was to teach people to recognize the Oneness of God and to serve Him with everything they had.

We in the West, instead of hating the people and the society, love it and its people, recognize the good in them, forgive them their faults, and try to show that there is a better way. We do not try to destroy the West and rebuild it, any more than the Prophet, peace be upon him, tried to destroy Arabian society and rebuild it. Unlike Salafis who are generally authoritarians who think that everything must be forbidden unless expressly allowed by Islam, we leave it to the people to manage their personal and intellectual lives. If, like the Prophet, we succeed at spreading Islam through good manners and kindness like he did, then people will by themselves, democratically, choose to do what is in their best spiritual interests, similar to the way the people of the city of Al-Madinah invited the Prophet, peace be upon him, and made him their chief.

Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed God. (The Quran, verse 4:80)

A person reading this may think that this way of thinking rejects hadith or considers it unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth. We continue to love and respect hadith and the classical scholarly tradition, all that we want to do is make one crucial reform, which is to recognize the Quran’s immensely high status compared to hadith, and the crucial differences between the role of the Quran compared to the role of hadith.

The Quran is my guide in life. The Prophet, peace be upon him, is my hero. He is the best man ever to follow the philosophy of life that I want to follow, therefore I use his example as my inspiration.

This is similar to a person who loves the rationalist and humanist teachings of Western philosophy and wants to apply them in his or her own life. To do so, they go and study the lives of the West’s greatest intellectuals, in this way finding inspiration and guidance toward applying rationalist and humanist ideas in real life. They gather a number of heroes whose thinking, sayings and ways of life are taken as a guide.

The point is not to follow those heroes due to any innate virtue the heroes contain within themselves, considering them sacred and holy. A person who loves the Western tradition follows these heroes because they embody the philosophy they want to follow. They want to follow the philosophy, and those heroes, by having applied such philosophies very well in their thinking and lives, are followed.

In Islam, the point is the Quran. This is the philosophy we follow. The Prophet, peace be upon him, is the hero that we follow for having embodied the Quran’s teachings best in his life. As Aisha, may God be pleased with her, says:

His manners were the Quran. (Mentioned in Sahih Muslim, al-Nasa’i, Ahmad, Ibn Majah)

Most of the difficulty that the scholars have with raising the status of the Quran (the way Sayyid Qutb suggests) is that it automatically lowers the status of hadith, and to them, this lowers the status of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Anyone who praises the Quran’s immense status and mentions its central place in Islamic life is considered potentially a dangerous fanatic, because they think the person is attacking the Prophet’s status. It is a sad state of affairs when even great scholars are short-sighted enough to think like this, to think there is some competition between the Quran and the Prophet, and to have an issue with a person taking the Quran as their guide in life.

The Quran, Islam’s only entirely reliable and trustworthy source, never mentions anywhere that the Prophet was anything more than human:

Muhammad is no more than a messenger. Messengers have passed on before him. If he dies or gets killed, will you turn on your heels? He who turns on his heels will not harm God in any way. And God will reward the appreciative. (The Quran, verse 3:144)

We did not send before you except men, whom We inspired, from the people of the towns. Have they not roamed the earth and seen the consequences for those before them? The Home of the Hereafter is better for those who are righteous. Do you not understand? (The Quran, 12:109)

And in fact it mentions him making several mistakes:

It is not for a prophet to take prisoners before he has become firmly established as a sovereign the land. You desire the materials of this world, but God desires the Hereafter. God is Strong and Wise. Were it not for a predetermined decree from God, an awful punishment would have afflicted you for what you have taken. (The Quran, verses 8:67-68)

May God pardon you! Why did you give them permission before it became clear to you who are the truthful ones, and who are the liars? (The Quran, verse 9:43)

O prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has permitted for you, seeking to please your wives? God is Forgiving and Merciful. (The Quran, verse 66:1)

1. He frowned and turned away. 2. When the blind man approached him. 3. But how do you know? Perhaps he was seeking to purify himself. 4. Or be reminded, and the message would benefit him. 5. But as for him who was indifferent. 6. You gave him your attention. 7. Though you are not liable if he does not purify himself. 8. But as for him who came to you seeking. 9. In awe. 10. To him you were inattentive. (The Quran, verses 80:1-10)

We can argue about the status of the Prophet, was he nothing but a messenger like the Quran says, or was he somehow intrinsically divine like the Christians think Jesus was? Was his task to give humanity the Quran, or to also give them a 9-volume second Quran (Sahih al-Bukhari) that competes with the Quran as a second authority?

A fair-minded reading of the Quran that has not been biased by classical Islamic doctrine will see that the Quran considers itself the center of Islam, and the center of the Prophet’s mission. It wasn’t the Prophet’s job to create a religion that is 50% based on an entirely reliable and miraculous text, and 50% based on a different, and ten times bigger, text that is full of unreliability and contradiction, and that often opposes central tenets of Quranic philosophy, and that due to its massive size overshadows the Quran.

The classical, outdated view of considering the Quran and hadith equals or de facto equals leads to the creation of a monstrosity that is very difficult to follow in good faith without one’s intelligence and sense of justice being insulted. The Quran says God is just and does not punish needlessly. Authentic hadith mentions someone being sent to the Hellfire because they did not clean themselves properly after urinating. The Quran says the Prophet is unable to hear the dead. Hadith mentions him listening to people in their graves. The Quran says when a person dies, they wake up on the Day of Judgment feeling as if only a few hours or days have passed. Hadith mentions them going through eons in their graves, being conscious, before being resurrected. The Quran says God guides humanity toward what is good, yet according to hadith He supposedly will give miraculous powers (such as the ability to bring back the dead) to some anti-Christ so that he can misguide people and take them to the Hellfire. The Quran does not contain a single mention of Jesus coming back to life and establishing some Paradise on Earth, instead strongly suggesting that he is already dead, while hadith is full of narrations regarding these matters, apparently taken directly from Christian mythology.

While there is usually not sufficient evidence to clearly rule out the above claims of hadith, Quran-focused Islam turns them into non-issues:

  1. Since they are not in the Quran,
  2. and since hadith is not 100% reliable (even if it is 99% reliable. Imam al-Bukhari, may God have mercy on him, says that the chain of narrators Malik-from-Nafi`-from-Ibn-Umar is the “most reliable” chain that exists, which naturally means all other chains are less reliable)
  3. therefore they are not important parts of Islam, or they may not even be parts of Islam,
  4. and therefore they can be safely ignored,
  5. and therefore they cannot be used as a basis for any argument or for establishing any principle or law.

A fair-minded person then will read the following authentic narration from the Prophet:

There will be after me narrators of hadith. Expose their narrations to the Quran; any of them that agree with the Quran, then follow those, and those that do not agree with it, then do not follow them.

And they will realize that even hadith calls for considering the Quran a judge and authority over hadith.

Then they will learn that Umar and other Companions disliked that hadith narrations should spread, because they feared that this would reduce the Quran’s importance in people’s minds (and they were sadly right). Then they will find out that Ibrahim al-Nakh`i (A Tabi` who met Aisha, may God be pleased with her) and Abu Hanifah both considered Abu Hurairah, a major “authentic” narrator of hadith, unreliable, because they considered him a human capable of human errors and of overextending himself, rather than considering his status holy and sacrosanct like those after them considered him.

The point is not to abandon the Sunnah. The point is to acknowledge the Quran’s central place in our daily lives, to acknowledge its authority over all other authorities, and to give preference to its principles and philosophy over hadith narrations.

One important fruit of Quran-focused Islam is that it has the power to revolutionize the science of hadith. As Muhammad al-Ghazali, may God have mercy on him, and his students argue, the Quran can be used to judge the content of hadith, something that has not been done formally in the classical science of hadith. Since Islam is always updating itself due to the merger of the Quran and modern thought, if through this process we conclude that something is true (such as evolution), then we can use this new finding to go back to all existing hadith narrations and reevaluate them. Those of them which clearly contradict evolution can be lowered to the status of “unauthentic”, which will affect our opinion of the narration’s chain of narrators, and this effect will go on to affect our opinion of all other narrations that have a similar chain of narrators.

When a hadith says something questionable, it is even possible that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said something from his own opinion that is incorrect or that he has corrected in another saying. The following is recorded in Sahih Muslim and other collections:

Anas reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) happened to pass by the people who had been busy in grafting the trees. Thereupon he said: “If you were not to do it, it might be good for you.” (So they abandoned this practice) and there was a decline in the yield. He (the Holy Prophet) happened to pass by them (and said): “What has gone wrong with your trees?” They said: “You said so and so.” Thereupon he said: “You have better knowledge in the affairs of your worldly life.” (Sahih Muslim 2363, Musnad Ahmad 24964)

And from Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet:

When he arrived at Badr, the Prophet set up his camp near the first wells he found. Seeing this, Ibn al-Mundhir came to him and asked: “Was this place where we have stopped revealed to you by God, so that we must not move either forward or backward from it, or is it an opinion and a strategy of yours, linked to war expedients?” The Prophet confirmed that it was his own personal opinion; Ibn al-Mundhir then suggested another plan that consisted of camping near the biggest well, the nearest to the way from which the enemy was to arrive, then blocking the other wells in the area so that the enemy could not get to the water. During the battle, the Muslims’ opponents were thus bound to find themselves in difficulty. Muhammad carefully listened to the explanation of this strategy and accepted it straightaway: the camp was moved and Hubab’s plan was implemented. (Page 103)

These examples show that the Prophet is not infallible in matters not having to do directly with Islamic guidance. They should not be used to reject narrations left and right without proper scholarly work, and this is not what I am suggesting. Quran-focused Islam wants to correct the corruption of the status of the Quran in the minds; it does not seek to throw away the scholarly tradition, it only seeks to reform it. Scholars of hadith can continue doing the important work of analyzing hadith, but now with the Quran always in their minds as the Criterion by which all narrations are judged.

An Always-Modern Islam: Solving the Problems of Slavery, Stoning, Apostasy and Others

Sayyid Qutb’s Islam is about correcting the error of the scholars in lowering the Quran to the status of hadith. It places the Quran back in its proper place; at the center of Islam. By doing this, it creates a form of Islam that is never outdated or irrelevant, but that is always fully fitted to the needs and concerns of the age, while also always fully authentic to the classical spirit of Islam, because it continues to respect and follow the Sunnah.

The great difference in this new form of Islam is that whenever modern science or thinking recognize some truth, and the Quran supports it, then Muslims can accept it, even if there are narrations that say otherwise. The Quran is used as a judge over both modern thinking and over hadith, in this way preventing us from adopting false modernist ideas (such as women’s moral superiority over men, or communism), while also preventing us from holding onto false ancient ideas that are in hadith but that are today proven false. The Quran, being always up-to-date, enables us to live through the ages and respond appropriately to all of the challenges the world throws at us, while also staying authentically orthodox Muslims.

When modern science and the Quran support the theory of evolution, if a scholar finds an authentic narration or two that go against it, then it is science and the Quran that are given precedence, by the Prophet’s own command (to use the Quran to judge all hadith narrations).

When we modern folk consider slavery repulsive, when we believe in human rights and the dignity of every human being, and when we find that the Quran, while regulating slavery, never commands it, then we can reject slavery and ban it in our societies. Our living guide, the Quran, does not ask us to practice slavery. Our dead guide, hadith, mentions that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his Companions, widely practiced it, because that was the common practice in the world at the time, and it served various beneficial functions (it was far superior to the Jewish and Christian practice of killing all men, women and children of a defeated enemy, or leaving them to starve). It served a purpose at the time. And if 10,000 years from now, the world goes back to being undeveloped and slavery becomes commonplace, then the Quran is there to regulate it again and slowly eradicate it.

Classical scholars today are all against slavery to some degree, but they also have to “defend the Sunnah” by saying that it is a part of Islam and by finding various justifications for it. They are placed in the difficult position of having to say that there is nothing morally wrong with slavery (because the Prophet, peace be upon, practiced it), that the Prophet’s traditions are meant to be applied as an equal to the Quran today, and that slavery today is wrong and that Islam is against it. Quran-focused Islam doesn’t suffer from having to adopt these contradictory stances, because it believes the point of Islam is to follow the Quran, and that the Sunnah is merely a help toward this.

The Quran does not command slavery, therefore if there is no slavery in a society, then Muslims do not have to engage in it, and they are free to ban it. But, if Islam finds itself in a society that already practices it, then Islam can be adopted by it, in this way their practice of slavery is reformed and slowly eradicated (the Quran strongly encourages freeing slaves, and a child born to a slave and her master is considered a free person in Islamic law.)

The Slave Market, painting by Allan David (1838)

While classical Islam will always have difficulty with slavery, Quran-focused Islam does not. We can sincerely say that Islam is against slavery, and that its toleration of it is for practical purposes, since, as the experience of the American Civil War shows, abruptly ending slavery can create great discontent and unrest. It is far better to gradually phase it out, as Islam does. What the Prophet, peace be upon him, did in his time in practicing slavery does not apply to our time, because we are not required to follow his way of life in a vacuum (as Salafis think), we are required to follow the Quran and use his example when it applies, and needless to say, a modern person who authentically and unabashedly follows the full letter of the Quran does not have to have anything to do with slavery, and is in fact perfectly justified in opposing it, fighting it and working to put an end to it.

What the example of our Prophet, peace be upon him, teaches us is that if we find ourselves in a society that practices slavery, instead of taking up arms against the society, we can become part of it, help Islam spread, encourage people to free slaves, and in this way phase it out. If we find a slave woman on sale in the market, we can buy her and free her like the Prophet’s companion Abu Bakr used to do. Other Muslims, who are still stuck in the mindset of that slavery-practicing culture, can buy her and use her as a slave without being condemned. The culture is respected, while slowly being changed.

Unlike a Quran-focused Muslim, a Salafi, cannot have such a mindset toward slavery (that it was acceptable then but is not acceptable now). The Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Salaf (“The Pious Predecessors”) practiced slavery and had slave women with whom they had sex, therefore there is nothing wrong with it, and the practice can be continued today (as the Saudi Shaykh al-Fawzan recently ruled regarding Yazidi women captured by terrorist groups) even if most of the people of the world, including Muslims, find it repulsive.

To them, since Islam is a derivation of both the Quran and hadith, slavery has to be considered a good and acceptable thing, since it is part and parcel of hadith. While in Quran-focused thinking, since Islam is a derivation of  only the Quran, we are free what we think about slavery, if we find it repulsive, we do not have to support it, we can avoid it and work to eradicate it. If the world, or part of the world, or some isolated space colony, goes back to practicing slavery, then the Quran and hadith are there to regulate and eradicate it again.

So to a Quran-focused person, the fact that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had slaves does not have sufficient force in argument to justify it in the modern context, and such a person can stay true to the Quran while also supporting a worldwide ban on slavery. If there is a just war between a Muslim and a non-Muslim entity, the Muslim entity, while recognizing that technically Islam permits them to enslave the enemy, also recognize that Islam is a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and neither of these things recommend enslavement of people today. In a different time and place, in a world that practices slavery, things could be different. But, since their Islam is always up-to-date, in today’s modern context, it is fully in accordance with Islam to oppose slavery and not practice it.

So we can honestly say that slavery was a part of Islam then, but that it is no longer part of Islam today, and that one day in the far future it could again become part of Islam. Our religion is always updating itself. There is no such thing as a single Islam the entirety of whose practices and ways of life can be set in stone and followed for eternity, as Salafis think. Instead, Islam is always a self-renewing derivation of the Quran and life, guided by hadith and classical scholarship wherever needed. If people say slavery is wrong, we agree with them, and tell them that Islam wants to eradicate it. If they point out Islam’s historical practice of slavery, we say it tolerated it because it was a worldwide practice then, because it served practical purposes, because banning it could have had violent consequences, but now that the world is different, Islam, too, can be different, because the Quran is living among us, telling us how to respond to each new age of the world.

The Quran-focused view is that Islam tolerates slavery for practical reasons where it is already practiced. The classical view is that slavery is not so bad, because the Prophet, peace be upon him, practiced it. The Quran-focused view admits the possibility of development in human ideas about morality and ethics, the classical view does not.

It is true that Islam’s dedicated detractors will probably not be satisfied by the Quran-focused view on slavery, but it is not our mission to satisfy them. Our mission is to reach fair-minded and moderate people, people who do not have a hatred against Islam but who merely want to understand it.

Another important matter solved by the Quran-focused view is that of stoning adulterers, which is something that perhaps 99.999% of Muslims would not agree to witness or carry out. The Quran-focused view effortlessly shows that there is no such thing as stoning or executing adulterers in Islam. There is strong evidence in the Quran against it, as I will describe in another essay, and there is sufficient evidence to believe that the hadith narrations that mention stoning were mentioning instances of the Prophet following Jewish law before Islamic law was revealed in the Quran, as Imam Muhammad Abu Zahra (1898 – 1974 CE), prominent 20th century Egyptian scholar of Islamic law, al-Azhar professor, member of al-Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Research and president of Cairo University has argued.

Another issue is that of punishing Muslims for leaving Islam (for committing apostasy), which is clearly in opposition to the Quranic concept of “no compulsion in religion” (as stated in verse 2:256). As our modern appreciation for logic shows, forcing someone to stay in a religion is as much compulsion as forcing someone to adopt a religion. Quran-focused Islam rejects the classical Islamic thinking that apostasy is punishable, considering it a human right granted by the Quran. Ahmad Moftizadeh is the major Islamic leader I know of who has advocated for this new view of considering apostasy a right of Muslims.

And another issue is the treatment of non-Muslims in Islam. While traditionally nearly all non-Muslims were considered kafirs (“infidels”), a modern reading of the Quran shows that a kafir is someone who knows and accepts the truth but denies it and acts against, committing Satan’s sin. This means that most of the people of the world are not kafirs. It also means that faithful Christians and Jews living today, those who believe and do good deeds, will go to Paradise as the Quran teaches, rather than going to the Hellfire for not accepting Islam as classical Islam teaches, since they barely know anything about Islam. God only burdens a soul with what He has already given it, it is highly unjust to punish a Christian for not being Muslim when they barely know anything about Islam, and when they do their best to serve God in good faith.

The Quran, besides reiterating the fact that pious Jews and Christians will go to Paradise in many places, has the following verse which criticizes Muslim exceptionalism in their thinking that only they will go to Paradise, while also criticizing the Christians and Jews who say similar things:

It is not in accordance with your wishes, nor in accordance with the wishes of the People of the Scripture. Whoever works evil will pay for it, and will not find for himself, besides God, any protector or savior. But whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and is a believer—those will enter Paradise, and will not be wronged a whit. (The Quran, verse 4:123-124)

It is a sign of the incredible ignorance and negligence of Quranic principles and the status of the Quran that Muslims, including scholars, read the above two verses, then go on to say that Jews and Christians will go to the Hellfire in clear contradiction to it.

As can be seen, while the classical view insults our sense of justice regarding non-Muslims by teaching us to consider nearly all of them enemies of God, the Quran-focused view teaches us to have a positive view of them, since they are humans partaking in the same human struggle as ourselves, without being blessed with knowledge, and it also teaches us to have great respect for faithful and practicing Jews and Christians (few as they might be), and for people of other Abrahamic religions. And to give all of them the benefit of the doubt, since we do not know what is in their hearts, and to realize that it is opposed to the Quran to call them infidels when for all that we know they might be close servants of God. The only infidels among them are those who know the truth but act against it, and such people are also common in Islamic societies.

Salafism’s Better Alternative

One criticism of Quran-focused Islam could be that by giving the power of interpretation and argument to everyone who reads and understands the Quran, it promotes disrespect for the Sunnah and scholarship, that it teaches everyone to create their own sect. The best proof of the invalidity of these allegations is the ways of life of those who have actually adopted Quran-focused Islam, such as Iranian Kurdistan’s Maktab Quran movement. They continue to be full members of mainstream Islam, they love Islamic scholarship, and they follow the Sunnah. The same is true for those in Egypt who love Sayyid Qutb’s Quran-focused teachings.

Unlike Salafis (note that I have great respect for many Salafi scholars, such as Ibn Baaz, and consider them good and pious men), who often create elitist cliques that separates itself from the mainstream, who have an “us vs. them” mentality toward other Muslims, who attack respectable and pious scholars and leaders like Yasir Qadhi, Quran-focused Muslims, since they judge the world by Quranic philosophy, have an open and loving attitude toward all other Muslims (and non-Muslims), judging people first and foremost by the quality of their hearts, not by the quality of their virtue-signalling or their exact adherence to their version of Islam.

Quran-focused Muslims treat all Muslims as innocent unless proven guilty, while Salafism treats everyone as guilty until proven innocent.

Both Quran-focused Islam and Salafism have the same goal; to revive Islam based on Islam’s original teachings. Salafism makes the mistake of trying to derive Islam equally from the Quran and hadith, which, while often leading to good results in matters of fiqh (Islamic law), also leads to an exclusive, elitist and intolerant form of Islam.

Quran-focused Islam corrects Salafism’s mistake by not buying into classical thinking, but by evolving beyond Salafism to place the Quran back at the center of Islam and to re-derive Islam from its principles and philosophy, leading to an extremely open-minded, spiritual and tolerant form of Islam that thinks the best of everyone, that fits modern science, that solves the various issues that have Muslims questioning Islam, and that remains fully part of mainstream Islam.

It is important to reiterate that I have the same goal as a Salafi person; I too want to follow a version of Islam that most accurately represents Islam’s original mission. Having looked at both Salafism and Quran-focused Islam, it has become clear to me that Quran-focused Islam is far superior to Salafism; it accomplishes everything Salafism was meant to accomplish, while avoiding all of its pitfalls, and just as importantly, while creating a version of Islam that stands the tests of all time:

  • Salafism tries to derive “true Islam” from the Quran and hadith equally, creating a rule-based (rather than ideals-based) form of Islam. Every Muslim is judged based on their abidance by thousands of different rules, regulations and ways of thinking. Quran-focused Islam, on the other hand, tries to derive a far smaller “true Islam” from the Quran only, leading to a religion that is not rule-based, but ideals-based. Kindly and well-intentioned people of all sects are accepted, because the Quranic ideals are what matter most. Passing judgment on people is highly discouraged, because this is directly in opposition to the Quranic commandments of mercy, forgiveness and thinking the best of others.
  • Salafism always leads to elitist cliques of Muslims who separate themselves from the mainstream. Quran-focused Islam does not, because it contains nothing to build cliques on. It is a spiritual practice, a person who uses it to feel superior to others has failed to understand the basic precepts of it and will be shunned by the rest.
  • Salafism leads to a mindset that has a total lack of empathy for those who refuse to abide by its authoritarian version of Islam. It doesn’t matter that a scholar has a good heart, is pious and God-fearing, if a Salafi person finds a few technicalities to attack them by, they will do it without shame, and they will say they do it in the service of God, of course.
  • Salafism makes intellectual progress (in things like solving the problem of evolution or stoning) nearly impossible, because it refuses to admit that the Quran is an authority over all authorities, it considers Islam’s unreliable history an authority to be dragged into the modern world. Quran-focused Islam gives its adherents immense intellectual freedom, because their central authority by which they judge all other authorities is a simple and extremely open-minded book. This enables them to go out into the modern world and have a fully-fledged intellectual life that is in no way inferior to that enjoyed by the rest of the world, and is in fact far superior to it, because it has the courage to reject the things like the West’s fashionable but irrationalist ideas and ideologies.

 

Practicing Quran-Focused Islam Today

We cannot preemptively say what conclusions we may reach once the classical Islamic sciences are reformed according to Quran-focused teachings. For now, we can use the following rule to practice an intellectually satisfying and modern form of Islam that is free from the pitfalls of classical Islam:

Whenever someone says something about Islam that is not in the Quran and that is not anticipated by the Quran, you can safely ignore it.

If you hear a hadith narration about the virtue of performing the prayer (the salah) at a certain time of day, then you are encouraged to follow it, since the Quran encourages prayer, and it is fully in keeping with the Prophet’s mission (as an applicator of the Quran) to have prayed in such a way, therefore, even though such a time for performing the prayer is not in the Quran, it is anticipated by the Quran, therefore there is no issue with following it.

On the other hand, if someone tells you about devils praying on your fingernails, the Dajjal, or the need for exorcision, then while you may not be able to say that these things are definitely false (unless you have great evidence to back up your saying, or you rely on a well-respected scholar’s research on the matter), you have the right to be skeptical toward these things and to ignore them. Using the above rule, you can stay focused on Islam’s message and mission; its spirituality, its dedication to worshiping and serving God, its activism, and ignore everything that insults your intelligence.

From the outside, you can continue practicing Islam just like before, but now focusing more on the Quran, and due to the renewed devotion to God that this causes, working to carry out more of the Sunnah good deeds, while also being free from suffering the confusion, hesitation, and moral indignation that classical Islam causes. When a preacher says something so ridiculous that it makes you want to cringe and shudder, instead of feeling hopeless and questioning why you belong to this religion, you can simply think: “It is not in the Quran, and it is against the Quran’s principles, therefore it is not worth talking about. End of story.” You no longer have to submit to anyone’s authority except the Quran’s, with hadith acting as your helper toward applying the Quran in your life.

To many Muslims, what I describe here (of placing the Quran at the center of Islam) will not sound new or controversial. Within the scholarly community, however, few people dare to voice such an opinion, since they will quickly be attacked by Salafis and other hadith-centrists. Most scholars would rather choose the safe path of complacence that will ensure they will not be condemned, instead of choosing the path of respecting the Quran as an unchallenged authority as it is meant to be. In this way, with their silence and lack of courage, they continue to enable countries like Saudi to continue exporting their highly intolerant version of Islam with little resistance, so that today most Muslims cannot answer if asked why they are not Salafis.

We are not Salafis because it gives precedence to the Quran’s ancient application (hadith) rather than to its modern application (applying Quranic principles in the modern world). It thinks that if the Quran tells us to do something today, but hadith tells us that Muslims did something different in 630 CE, that we must ignore the Quran and follow the hadith, despite the fact that hadith is inherently unreliable.

Salafi attitudes toward slavery, stoning, apostasy and the treatment of non-Muslims is sufficient to show the inferiority of hadith-focused (classical) Islam and the immense superiority of Quran-focused Islam in the way it solves all of these issues.

Note: The concepts mentioned in this essay are developments of Sayyid Qutb’s ideas as carried forward by the Iranian Sunni leaders Ahmad Moftizadeh, Nasir Subhani and myself. They are not directly taken from Sayyid Qutb, but are inspired by his method in interpreting the Quran.

How is it fair that unattractive women have difficulty getting married? Why does God allow this?

I was reading your blog post and I keep wondering isn’t the system unfair? That the most attractive woman will get men and the unattractive not . As an unattractive female I can’t get married although I wish

First I will explain why the world is the way it is, then I will explain the Islamic way to think of these facts.

Of course it is unfair, because life is unfair. How is it fair that some people should have everything they need, and others have to struggle every day to stay alive and avoid starving?

As for relationships, it is equally unfair to men that fat, ugly, creepy and broke men are not considered attractive by women, regardless of how good his heart is. If this person had a million-dollar car, women’s interest in him would skyrocket, as the various “gold digger prank” videos show on YouTube.

It is unfair that a man should be judged by his wealth and success, which are things not outside his control. And in the same way, it is unfair that attractive women get more attention than less attractive women.

And it is unfair that innocent children are born poor.

This life is not meant to be fair. It is not meant to be Paradise. It is meant to have problems, imperfections and injustices, because this makes it an ideal testing ground for a person’s faith, patience and dedication to God. A person cannot be patient unless there is something they have to be patient about. And they cannot claim to be devoted to God unless they are able to overcome temptation.

So the system I described is part of the order of the natural world. It is in the benefit of humanity’s survival that men are attracted to good-looking and young women, and that women are attracted to successful men. This is called sexual selection, and it is not unique to humans. All sexually-reproducing animals have criteria they prefer in the opposite sex. This ensures that those individuals who have the highest genetic quality are most likely to successfully reproduce.

It is about “quality control”. In biology, there needs to be a way for a species to ensure that bad genes are not passed on to the next generation. A male bowerbird who has a broken leg will not be able to build a good nest, meaning that females will judge him inferior, since they judge him by the quality of his nest (among other things), they will reject him and prefer another male. This is unfair to the male bird, but it is in the benefit of the species. Because if the females did not care about the male’s abilities, birds of low ability would be able to reproduce, resulting in offspring that has a higher chance of dying (because the male bird cannot care for them properly), and if the male bird’s incapability is due to defective genes (due to mutations), then if this bird reproduces, those defective genes are passed on to the next generation. In this way, if those defective genes spread throughout the population, the species will suffer from the issues caused by these genes and may go extinct, as it becomes easier prey to predators, or less able to withstand environmental challenges.

The same concept applies in humans. A man who is incapable of holding down a job and being somewhat successful is naturally suffering from some genetic or environmental issue that is preventing him from being like other men who are successful. If a woman marries him and has children with him, first he will not be able to care properly for the children (because he is not good at providing for the family), and second, if his incapability is due to a genetic defect, that defect is passed on to his children, and in this way more incapable humans are created, harming the species as a whole.

So an important part of the female sex’s duty is quality control over males. They decide which males deserve to have children by rejecting some men and preferring others. This ensures that the highest-quality males reproduce the most, and the lowest-quality males reproduce the least, in this way the species as a whole maintains a high quality and capacity for survival. This applies whether we are talking about animals or humans, although humans, due to their advanced brains, are more able to ignore these instincts and act against them. But the instincts are always there underneath everything else.

So when a human is unattractive, whether they are male or female, that is the species deciding that others should be given preference over them. This is unfair to the individuals, but it is in the benefit of the survival of the species. The human species wants the most genetically fit people of both sexes to reproduce the most, which gives preference to some men and women over other men and women. This is not about religion, it is about the system of the natural world.

If you ask why God allows this, it is because He wants this world to appear to function perfectly without a need for Him, so that people have the choice of disbelieving in Him if they want. He does not want people to be forced to believe in Him, He want them to make the choice. And that requires that the survival of all species, including humanity, works along well-defined natural laws (such as that of natural and sexual selection). I explain this in detail in my essays God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species and Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Note that no matter how attractive or unattractive someone is, they are nothing but a point on the timeline of humanity’s evolution. A person who is unattractive today may be considered extremely attractive if they went back 50,000 years in time. And if they go forward 50,000 in time, they may see that everyone in the world is as attractive as the most attractive people today, and such people may actually be considered unattractive compared to new people who have come into existence.

From the religious perspective, being unattractive is one of those things in life that one has to deal with, similar to being born blind, or being born in an extremely poor village and spending one’s life there, not being able to go anywhere else. The point of existence is not this life, but the next one. If you have been assigned a life that is more difficult than the lives of others, and if you show patience (by not complaining, by thinking the best of God, and by worshiping Him ardently), then He will do for you what is in your best interest in this life and the next.

Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while being a believer, We will grant them a good life (in this world)—and We will reward them according to the best of what they used to do (in the hereafter). (The Quran, verse 16:97)

Treat your situation like other Muslims have treated their various hardships. Prophet Yusuf, despite his good looks, was oppressed by his siblings then spent years in prison. After years of patience, he was given his reward. If you feel oppressed by life and by the way society treats you, think of it as just another prison. If you endure patiently, you will have God’s rewards in this life and the next.

God will not let your life go to waste. This is a promise that the Quran repeats in many places. Good people are taken care of by God in this life and the next. God does not say that we will suffer and suffer in this life until we die, to be rewarded in the afterlife. He says that we will sometimes suffer, and other times will have highly enjoyable lives, and if we continue to serve God in both conditions, we will have an amazing afterlife.

I cannot say what kind of you life you will have, or how God will give you fulfillment in this life, but He is capable of all things. Satisfying a human being is the easiest thing for Him, therefore seek only from Him instead of looking at the world’s unfairness. He has full power and control over this world.

And whoever fears God—He will make a way out for him. And will provide for him from where he never expected. Whoever relies on God—He will suffice him. God will accomplish His purpose. (The Quran, from verses 65:2-3)

83. And Job, when he cried out to his Lord: “Great harm has afflicted me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.”

84. So We answered him, lifted his suffering, and restored his family to him, and their like with them—a mercy from Us, and a reminder for the worshipers.

85. And Ishmael, and Enoch, and Ezekiel; each was one of the steadfast.

86. And We admitted them into Our mercy. They were among the righteous.

87. And Jonah, when he stormed out in fury, thinking We had no power over him. But then He cried out in the darkness, “There is no god but You! Glory to You! I was one of the wrongdoers!”

88. So We answered him, and saved him from the affliction. Thus We save the faithful.

89. And Zechariah, when he called out to his Lord, “My Lord, do not leave me alone, even though you are the Best of heirs.”

90. So We answered him, and gave him John. And We cured his wife for him. They used to vie in doing righteous deeds, and used to call on Us in love and awe, and they used to humble themselves to Us. (The Quran, verses 21:83-90)

Jordan Peterson: Token Rationalist White Male

From Wikipedia:

Peterson believes that postmodern philosophers and sociologists, while typically claiming to reject Marxism, have merely built upon and extended its core tenets, arguing that they “started to play a sleight of hand, and instead of pitting the proletariat, the working class, against the bourgeois, they started to pit the oppressed against the oppressor. That opened up the avenue to identifying any number of groups as oppressed and oppressor and to continue the same narrative under a different name … The people who hold this doctrine — this radical, postmodern, communitarian doctrine that makes racial identity or sexual identity or gender identity or some kind of group identity paramount — they’ve got control over most low-to-mid level bureaucratic structures, and many governments as well.

And:

Peterson argues that postmodern feminists err by seeking to infantilise society. He stated, “There is an essential feminine pathology, just as there is an essential masculine pathology. And the essential feminine pathology Freud mapped out, it’s the Oedipal mother. And the Oedipal mother is the mother who gets too close to her children, and intermingles herself with them to too great a degree. That in her attempts to protect them undermines them, fatally.”

He continues: “It’s so comical watching the feminist postmodernists in particular rattle on about the absence of gender reality and act out the archetypal devouring mother at exactly the same time. For them the world is divided into predators and infants. And the predators are evil and need to be stopped and the infants need to be cared for. Well, that’s what the mother does, but adults are not infants, and all you do is destroy them when you treat them that way.”

And:

I will never use words I hate, like the trendy and artificially constructed words “zhe” and “zher.” These words are at the vanguard of a post-modern, radical leftist ideology that I detest, and which is, in my professional opinion, frighteningly similar to the Marxist doctrines that killed at least 100 million people in the 20th century.

I have been studying authoritarianism on the right and the left for 35 years. I wrote a book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, on the topic, which explores how ideologies hijack language and belief. As a result of my studies, I have come to believe that Marxism is a murderous ideology. I believe its practitioners in modern universities should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to promote such vicious, untenable and anti-human ideas, and for indoctrinating their students with these beliefs. I am therefore not going to mouth Marxist words. That would make me a puppet of the radical left, and that is not going to happen. Period.

This is amazing, feels like David Stove has come back to life. Most high-status white men are either infantile or cowardly (especially those of them in academia), it is a breath of fresh air to see Peterson stand up for rationalism.

Why do so many major companies get hacked? Because their executives are too ignorant to understand the new security landscape

Before computer networking, a large corporation’s data security concerns were rather straightforward. Don’t let strangers go where they shouldn’t be. Close the most important things in safes. If security is really important, have guards watch over every entrance and exit and do not let anyone leave without being searched.

Now that data is held inside computers that are on networks, that are sometimes connected to the internet or easy to connect to the internet, the security landscape is completely different. It is as if they had their most important data in occasionally-malfunctioning safes placed in the middle of Times Square. And not only that, but some of their safes are placed in dark alleys around New York City where criminals can get working on them without any surveillance or fear of detection.

In such an environment, only an extremely foolish executive would not be very, very worried about data security, or perhaps someone with a degree in music security.

So what should be done? Make the data security department an integral part of your company. You must worry very much about having the right data security department head, and the right people working under them, and the right type of oversight (by a very tech-aware executive, such as someone with a master’s degree or better in computer science or security) that ensures these people are doing their jobs instead watching pretty graphs and browsing reddit all day.

If so far your company has acted like most companies, completely ignorant of new security concerns, you probably need to increase your security staff by a factor of somewhere between two and ten.

If your data gets compromised, you have only yourself to blame.

You can also go with the Russian solution, which is to throw all computers away and work exclusively with paper, since most of your executives aren’t smart enough to understand the importance of documents and data they cannot hold in their hands.

The US Army’s Cultural Support Team

These ladies are tasked with reaching the female population of America’s “host” nations (what a great way to admit the American Empire’s parasitical nature!). I would imagine some conversations would go like this:

Old Middle Eastern Lady: So…my only son, his wife and all of his children died in your airst-

American Military Lady: We didn’t actually mean that, you know.

Old Middle Eastern Lady: And you destroyed my only source of income, that patch of land which is now one charred bomb crater-

American Military Lady: Come on, we only destroyed it a bit. See how nice of a person I am. And here are some USAID cookies for your very own personal use.

Americans and Trump vs. the NFL

Oh yes you will. Most Americans are too morally lazy to give up their entertainment just because it is anti-American. They would rather enjoy their credit cards than avoid paying $200 billion a year to the ruling banker class. They would rather enjoy their degrees than refuse to enrich the unholy alliance of universities, $200-a-textbook publishers, and the rent-seeking banker class that only stands to gain the more debt students are made to carry (since more debt for them always equals more interest payments, therefore they always also seek to involve the country in more wars, because require government bonds, and bonds mean billions of dollars of annual interest earnings for bankers). They would rather enjoy their music than avoid subsidizing the four companies that control most of America’s music industry and the utter scum who work for these companies, who continue fund the production of music that encourages young men to be gangsters, criminals and pimps. Americans would rather enjoy their cushy jobs instead of taking a career hit to avoid working for the parasitical financial sector, for the defense and security apparatus, for the utterly corrupt media and journalism sector.

Americans needs the president to tell them something before they start thinking about, then make a big commotion about it, and perhaps change happens or does not in a tiny part of life, like idiots who on the sinking Titanic argue about the decoration, will go back to their lazy and cowardly lives, letting the banker scum continue ruling this country.

Home Office: Are you a woman? Your man is the problem. Are you a man? You are the problem.

Let’s demonize men. Let’s act as if women are infinitely superior to men. Let’s act as if men are utterly worthless and in relationships always guilty until proven innocent. Then let’s act surprised when men do not want to get married, when they have an extremely cynical attitude toward women and relationships, when they feel worthless and unwanted, when they go to Ukraine to find unbrainwashed women to marry, when men men feel zero allegiance toward their societies and civilizations and think it could all go to hell for all they care, when they feel so hated by women that they start to feel only another man’s love is true, when they feel the only way to make it in life is to have a sex change so that they can escape belonging to the West’s most hated species.

Why do traditional societies care so much about a woman’s virginity?

Why reduce woman to her reputation and virginity. Why care so much if she’s a virgin or not?

If you are asking why things are so from a religious perspective (not from an evolutionary psychology perspective), then the reason is that when a woman has sex before marriage, this means one of two things: Either does not take the Quran seriously and thinks she has the right to disobey it, meaning that she is not worth marrying for a man who wants a devout woman, or that she is unable to control her urges, that she doesn’t have sufficient intelligence and upbringing to stop herself from engaging in that.

Both of these things make her undesirable as a wife, because if she has a casual attitude toward sex outside of marriage, or if she is unable to control her urges, then the man who marries her suffers being married to a woman who does not take religion seriously and breaks its commandments when she wants, or if she is unable to control her urges, it means she has a higher chance of cheating on him or abandoning him. After years of marriage, after the man has worked years to build the family and provide for it and raise it, she may fall in love with someone else and abandon him, or she may cheat on him and get pregnant by another man, so that he brings up another man’s child.

Therefore ideally, a religious man wants to marry a woman who takes Islam’s commandments very seriously, and just as importantly, has the ability to follow them. And needless to say, a woman who has sex outside of marriage fails at one or both of these.

The same way that women have criteria for deciding whether a man is “husband material”, men have criteria for deciding whether a woman is “wife material”.

For a man to be considered husband material, he must have a job, he must be reasonably successful, he must have sufficient social skills and masculinity to be an attractive male, and many women also require that he must be taller than themselves. This means that women discriminate against men who do not have a job, are unsuccessful, are without social skills or are short by preferring other men over them. Most women couldn’t care less how much of a nice and moral person a man is if he is extremely awkward (”creepy”), destitute and has no job or prospects. He may wish to be loved for who he is instead of being judged for factors that might be outside of his control, but his wishes do not matter, the majority of women will care about the above factors and will reject him for not having them.

Similarly, for a woman to be considered wife material, men use certain criteria to judge her, regardless of how nice of a person she is.

Both sexes look for those qualities in the other sex that increases the likelihood of having a successful marriage and bringing up healthy and successful children. Women look for husbands who are strong and successful men, because such men are good at taking care of them and their children. Men look for wives who are virgins and have a good reputation, because such women are good at following Islam and remaining loyal to the marriage.

If a woman has lost her hymen from some accident and she can prove this, then if she is still judged because of it, then that is really foolish, since she has done nothing wrong. The problem is that most people are not geniuses and jump to conclusions in all kinds of matters on a daily basis.

And a woman who has lost her hymen due to some accident but has no way of proving it, and she marries and her husband finds this out, then if he is a good man then he will judge her by what he knows of her reputation, and will not hold this fact against her, but will take her at her word.

So the important thing about virginity is not the piece of flesh (the hymen), the thing by itself doesn’t mean anything, it is just a piece of flesh and perhaps plastic surgeons will be able to reconstruct it, it is the implications of it that matter. A never-married woman who doesn’t have a hymen has either lost it due to some accident, or due to having sex outside of marriage, or due to using sex toys. Usually everyone assumes the worst (including all of the female relatives of the man), because marriage is an extremely serious business that determines a person’s fate for the rest of their lives, therefore they believe a woman who does not have a hymen when she is expected to has some explaining to do, the man’s family do not want him to marry someone who has sex outside of marriage.

So, in a traditional society, if society reduces a woman to her reputation and virginity when it comes to being considered for marriage, a man too is reduced to his success and prospects. Both are reduced to those qualities that are most crucial for a successful marriage. When a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage, the first thing the woman’s family thinks about is his job. If he has a high-status job like being an architect, her family may exult at the fact, saying “Wow! An architect wants our daughter!” What kind of person he is deep inside is rarely given a thought, and if a poor man with zero prospects asks for their daughter’s hand in marriage, they will think, “What a loser! We will never give him our daughter!” even if he is a very good and kind man inside.

Meanwhile, the man’s family will not think in such terms, they have different criteria for judging whether the woman their son wants is worthy or not. They will talk about her attractiveness, her manners, and her history, especially her history. They will gossip about her history for days and months and make use of the Old Wives and Grandmas Intelligence Organization to find out everything they can about her, because they want to make sure their son does not marry someone who does not take religion seriously, or someone who finds it easy to be disloyal and have sex outside of marriage.

Many of these activities are extremely crude and an intelligent and sensitive person will be repulsed by them, but that is how most traditional societies function, and there is some logic to its origins; the woman’s family’s purpose is to ensure that the man can take care of their daughter, the man’s family’s purpose is to ensure that the woman can take care of their son’s children and new family and not abandon it or be disloyal toward it.

No woman enjoys being under the scrutiny of a man’s family, being considered guilty until proven innocent, but she will most likely do the same to a woman her own son or brother wants to marry. I have seen this countless times. And similarly, no man enjoys being under the scrutiny of a woman’s family and being judged by his job and success rather than his innate qualities, but he will do the same if his daughter or sister is about to get married, if he is wise, he will worry about whether the man is able to take care of his daughter or sister for the long term.

If you ask why a man is not scrutinized equally for his virginity, it goes back to evolutionary differences between men and women. A religious family will care very much about his virginity (if he has never married) and will not want their daughter to marry someone who has sex outside of marriage. But, ignoring religion, in traditional societies, it was a man who supported a woman and her children, his function was mostly economic. If he had sex with other women, this did not necessarily affect his economic function, he could continue to provide for his wife and children. For this reason among irreligious folk, there is generally a laxer attitude toward a man cheating than a woman cheating.

On the other hand, in a traditional society, if a woman cheated, that could be the end of the world for the marriage. She could get pregnant by another man and her husband forced to take care of the child born. A man wants to raise his own children, and the purpose of a marriage and family is for him to achieve this. If the wife gets pregnant by someone else, then that destroys the purpose of his marriage. He will be like a slave, not working for his own benefit, but for another man’s. For this reason attitudes toward female cheating or sleeping around have usually been much harsher.

Men have an animal instinct to prefer young and sexually inexperienced women, because this instinct ensures that they are more likely to marry a woman who will be loyal to them and their marriage. Women do not have this instinct, they instead have an animal instinct to prefer successful men. It is these two instincts that come out in the behaviors of traditional societies, which do not always fit religion and are sometimes directly opposed to it.

When it comes to well-educated and intelligent populations (rather than traditional ones), the human brain has more control over their thinking processes, so that they do not judge everything by instinct. Therefore men can be found who do not mind if their wife has sex with other men, and women can be found who do not mind taking care of their families while their husbands do not work and are not successful.

Devout Muslims coming from such populations are more likely to treat the issue of cheating equally between men and women, since that is what Islam demands, and they are more likely to take a woman at her word, giving her the benefit of the doubt if she is not a virgin, and even if she is known to have dated someone, if she says they never had sex, then she may be believed, while in a traditional society she wouldn’t be.

The less intelligent a population is, the more it will judge by its animal instincts, and the more intelligent it is, the more it will judge things by ideals, religious principles and logic. In a traditional population, a woman who admits to having had sex outside of marrying, saying she has now made repentance and wants to be a good and religious person, will probably never be forgiven or given a second chance, while in a better educated and more intelligent Muslim society she will be forgiven and accepted again.

There are many female converts to Islam in the West who admit to having had sex outside of marriage before Islam, but by the middle class Muslims of the West this is not held against them. But the same woman, if she talks to the lower classes of some Middle Eastern society and tells them this fact, they will immediately treat her like she is somehow diseased and gross.

The problem is not Islam but humanity’s animal instincts and the culture that has been derived from this (since culture is a result of genes). The best-educated and most devout Muslims are most likely to have a liberal and open-minded attitude toward a woman’s virginity and to give her second chances. But this does not mean that they should completely ignore her virginity or reputation, because these are indicators of her character, and a man wants to marry a woman of good character, the same way that a woman wants to marry a man of good character. In a traditional society if a woman admits to having lost her virginity due to a mistake she made in her youth, saying that she has repented now, this may never be accepted of her and her life might be ruined, while in a more educated and more devout society, she may be easily forgiven and given another chance.

If part of your question was regarding why a virgin is more attractive than a divorced woman, it goes back to the dynamics of pair-bonding, which means that a never-married woman is far more likely to have a successful marriage than a divorced woman (a first marriage in the US lasts about 25 years, while a second marriage lasts only 10 years). Since both sexes look for those characteristics in the other sex that are more likely to enable them to have a successful and long-lasting marriage, and since a woman’s lack of sexual experience / virginity means that her marriage is much more likely to succeed (as the statistics show), then you’d expect men to have a preference for this type of woman, and it is so. For more details on this please see these two previous answers of mine:

Why did God let His scriptures (the Torah and the Gospels) become corrupted?

Why did Allah allow other books beside Quran to be changed by man like the Torah, gospel and bible? It was his own sacred word too when they were revealed and they were still his words so why did he allow that to happen? Why they became secondary when at one point they were the most important books for mankind?

The answer is the same as why God allowed Adam to be tricked by Satan into leaving Paradise.

This universe is a story that God writes. He gives humans things and sees what they do with it, and based on that, He responds and gives them new things, in this way writing a story that is truly authentic and made up of the free choices of millions of people.

This instant, God could solve all of the world’s problems and turn it into Paradise. He does not, because the point of this world is the story, the process, not the destination. This process continually produces good, sincere and proven friends of God who die and spend eternity in closeness to Him. If these people had been brought up in Paradise instead, never suffering, they would have never had any chance to prove their sincerity, their patience, their courage, since all of these require hardship, temptation and the existence of evils.

God is the Master and Teacher of humanity. Humans used to be ignorant, Stone Age people. God gave the Hebrews the Torah, in this way teaching them, helping humanity grow, giving them new ideas and new ways of social organization.

He knew that they would eventually corrupt it, and He allowed it to happen, because this makes a good story. It creates the opportunity for sending new prophets and new revelations, in this way continuing the growth process of humanity, raising them the way you raise a child. A good teacher does not control everything the student can do, and does not prevent all possibilities for making mistakes.

God continued to send new prophets to the Jews for a thousand years, yet during all of this time they continued to persecute their prophets, reject them and at times stone them to death.

God then sent Jesus, peace be upon him, a Jewish prophet meant to be a witness against the Jews, and meant to be the starter of a world-wide movement that would forever change history.

To continue this story, God sent Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as an answer to a prayer that Prophet Ibrahim made 2500 years before Prophet Muhammad was born:

127. As Abraham raises the foundations of the House, together with Ishmael, “Our Lord, accept it from us, You are the Hearer, the Knower.

128. Our Lord, and make us submissive to You, and from our descendants a community submissive to You. And show us our rites, and accept our repentance. You are the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful.

129. Our Lord, and raise up among them a messenger, of themselves, who will recite to them Your revelations, and teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Almighty, the Wise.” (The Quran, verses 2:127-129)

The sending of Prophet Muhammad was an insult and punishment to the Jews by God, because while he is descended from Ibrahim (as the Jews were promised their final prophet would be), he was not a Jew. All Jews are descended from Ibrahim, so they thought their final prophet would be too. But God instead raised the final prophet from Ismail’s descendants (the Arabs of Hijaz), who, while being descended from Ibrahim as promised, was not Jewish.

87. We gave Moses the Scripture, and sent a succession of messengers after him. And We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear proofs, and We supported him with the Holy Spirit. Is it that whenever a messenger comes to you with anything your souls do not desire, you grew arrogant, calling some impostors, and killing others?

90. Miserable is what they sold their souls for—rejecting what God has revealed, out of resentment that God would send down His grace upon whomever He chooses from among His servants. Thus they incurred wrath upon wrath. And there is a demeaning punishment for the disbelievers.

93. And We made a covenant with you, and raised the Mount above you: “Take what We have given you firmly, and listen.” They said, “We hear and disobey.” And their hearts became filled with the love of the calf because of their disbelief. Say, “Wretched is what your faith commands you to do, if you are believers.”

94. Say, “If the Final Home with God is yours alone, to the exclusion of all other people, then wish for death if you are sincere.”

95. But they will never wish for it, because of what their hands have forwarded. God is aware of the evildoers. (The Quran, verses 2:87, 2:90, 2:93-95)

The reason why God allowed His scriptures to be corrupted is that it was useful in the raising of mankind, that it made a good lesson for those who came after, and that it was a test to those who did it. It could have served many other purposes that we will never know about. God decided to protect His final message from corruption because the corruption of scripture had already served its purpose, and God had a new purpose in the Quran.

We are like ants who are being managed from above, being turned this way and that, as God wishes, for His own purposes. But we are free-willed, we can disobey Him and rebel against Him. Regardless of whether we are good or evil, at the end of the day He continues to be All-Powerful above us all, so that we can never escape Him or corrupt the story, the plot line, He has devised for humanity. We can choose what role we play in His story, whether as good people or evil people, but the story is always His story.

God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. And if God wills any hardship for a people, there is no turning it back; and apart from Him they have no protector. (From verse 13:11 of the Quran)

As the above verse and many other verses of the Quran teaches, it is God Who manages world history. If we are good and kind, God will respond by changing our conditions for the better, and if we are not, He can send us hardships. We have zero power to ensure our own good, it is all from God. All that we can do is be good internally, and encourage others to be good, and use common sense in our dealing with the world, and the rest is up to God. No matter how hard we try to get something, if God does not want us to have it, we will never get it, which is why it is so important to not be attached to this world, but to God, knowing that all things come from Him, and that nothing can ensure our good other than His decree.

The complexity of this world, the corrupted scriptures, the various religious movements, the knowledge we have and the knowledge we lack, all of these provide an ideal testing ground for humans, separating the truly good and faithful from the average believers, and these from the lost and the evildoers.

Why Europe’s new feudal lords hate digital piracy even if it doesn’t harm their profits

So the EU finds out that there is no conclusive evidence that piracy is harmful, but wants to bury the results. Since the EU is ruled by an aristocracy of bankers and their friends, its actions naturally reflect the will of the bankers and their friends, the super-rich, or as I call them, the usurer class.

You’d think they would be relieved that piracy isn’t hurting their billions. What’s at issue here is probably the fact that they cannot stand the thought of people enjoying their works without paying them rent. Even if it doesn’t harm their profits, even if these people wouldn’t buy their stuff if they weren’t available for free, to them it is still a crime against rent-seeking that someone should enjoy entertainment and knowledge without going through the systems they gate-keep (Elsevier and others).

It’s probably about power and control. They want control over the intellectual property their corporate entities produce, it is an insult against their sense of rent-seeking justice that someone should enjoy their works without paying them. It is not about profit, it is about how things should be.

You do not sit in the shade of my mansion, even if it doesn’t do me any harm, because I do not like the idea of anyone enjoying anything I have without paying me rent for it.

There is also the issue of the slippery slope. They probably feel that if they were too lax on piracy, services would develop that would make piracy too commonplace, rather than something limited mostly to warez dudes. So perhaps they wanted to bury this study in case it caused an erosion in their pretexts to have the gestapo hound pirates.

By the way, if, for science only, you were interested in knowing how pirates anonymously download movies, games and massive ebook collections from the internet, you may find this 2014 essay of mine interesting: How cyber pirates anonymously torrent movies on the internet

Did God intend for Satan to not bow down to Adam? Why did He let it happen?

Since we are talking about evil and it’s origins, do you feel that God had intended iblis to not bow to adam? And did evil exist before happening of that event? And if god did intend him to not bow, why did he let it happen?

I believe that God set it all up knowing what was going to happen, as a way of bringing out Satan’s arrogance and showing His own greatness.

Satan had free will and was not forced to act the way he did. But God knew of his latent arrogance and pride, and knew that setting up that scene would bring it out. God does this to humans as well, a person who sins in private, for example, will suffer situations in public life that disgrace them and make people dislike them, as Ibn al-Jawzi points out many times. Humans have free will, but God can always set up situations where their true nature shows through.

We do not know what existed before that event. It is possible that there are billions of other universes, each with its own story and history, and that our universe and its story may be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of all existence.

Adam, peace be upon him, also had free will, and was given some knowledge by God. But God placed him in a situation where he could be tricked by Satan and did not prevent this from happening. Why? Because God wanted a story in which His qualities would show, and in which He would gain millions of true friends, friends who are tested and tempted all their lives yet continue to be sincere and devout toward Him.

If you think about it, there is no other way for God to have true friends. A true friend is the one who is not forced to believe in Him or obey Him, but that despite this, of his own choice, he seeks Him, loves Him and obeys Him until he dies, and with this he earns eternal closeness to Him as a true and proven friend.

We can wonder whether the way God set up everything was fair and just. But the truth is that we do not have sufficient knowledge to make a judgment in this regard, God is infinitely wiser and more knowledgeable about us and about everything else than we are. What matters is that the end result of this universe is the creation of millions or billions of pious, kind and good people who love God and want to be with Him, and who prove their sincerity throughout their lifetimes. The creation of these humans, in my opinion, is more than sufficient justification for everything that happened at the beginning of the human story.

What is Tawbah Nasoohah?

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Do you know what is “taubat nasuha” ?

The literal meaning is “sincere and pure repentance”. It means to repent from a sin with the sincere desire to abandon it, acknowledging that you have done wrong and sincerely planning in God’s presence to find ways of avoiding that sin in the future.

The opposite is to sin then ask for forgiveness knowing that you will probably do that sin again and not sincerely planning to find every possible way to avoid that sin, and to not re-apply oneself in worship, which is the biggest protection a believer has from sinning.

Islam and dealing with PTSD from sexual abuse

Salaam, greetings from Malaysia. I am 21yrs old. I need help. I just feel like i need to let this out before i go crazy and do something i might regret. Not many people know of this but im dealing with PTSD. I was assaulted by my uncles at the age of 5,13 and 16. It happened long time ago, but lately i’ve been getting flashbacks of what had happened and there are times i feel like im a dirty girl as i’ve been touched by men before.. and it sometimes make me wanna commit suicide.

Continuing from above, i really dont know what to do. As i know committing suicide is haram. I started reading Quran, after years… and i feel at peace. but the flashbacks wont stop and it scares me everytime. What should i do?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

May God ease your condition. The best thing you could might be to seek medical help, it is possible that there are treatments that will work for you. The second thing to do is to read all of the books you can on PTSD. If you type PTSD on Amazon.com, many highly-rated books come up.

If you are looking for an Islamic solution, then it is to do sufficient worship so that you feel close to God, and so that the world stops feeling important to you. Pray the duha prayer (8 rakats done in the morning in units of 2, they can be done any time from 15 minutes after sunrise to 15 minutes before the duhr prayer) and also pray tahajjud (8 rakats done after isha and before fajr, in units of 2). It is good that you are reading Quran, you can start memorizing it and reciting what you memorize during your prayers. Spend 5-10 minutes after the duha and tahajjud prayers in supplication, asking for God’s help and guidance.

Do the above and everything else necessary to feel really close to God. You have a mission in life, similar to the way the Prophet, peace be upon him, had a mission. Your mission is to apply the Quran’s teachings as if the Quran was sent down specifically to you. Once you start to feel that you are an agent on a mission, then perhaps your PTSD will stop affecting you as severely as now. There were Muslims who were held in prison, suffering torture for years. Instead of losing hope, they used this as an opportunity to become closer to God.

Think of yourself as a prisoner and the PTSD as a form of torture. Instead of letting it control and own you, consider it a break in your day that will soon pass so that you can go back to your mission of living the Quran.

The above is of course easier said than done, and I do not know if they will help in your case, but it might be worth a try.

Living the Quran does not mean to dedicate every second to worship. It means to feel close to God and to feel that you are on a mission. You can still enjoy your hobbies and have fun, but you must do sufficient worship daily so that you never feel distant from God.

Reading Islamic books, such as biographies of great Muslims and other inspiring books may also help. It is not sufficient to worship, one must also always seek knowledge, through lectures or books. Maybe once you have learned much more about Islam you will be able to find a solution that works very well for you. There is no reason why you should let others know more about Islam than you do, seek knowledge until you have your own deep understanding of Islam.

Being a Muslim and a tomboy

Assalamualaikum! if you dont mind me say this, well im a female but since i was a little kid i was never into any girly thing. i dont like girl’s outfits, girl’s style and pretty much everything what a girl should be into. i have never had long hair too. i have always known as a tomboy in my big family. however, i have never hangout with boys or have a group of male friends, i always wear hijab and appropriate casual outfits(big hoodies,slacks,etc) and i never have a desire to become a trans man. i just dont like either? until now (i am reaching 20) i still dont feel any different. i cant get myself to be like the girls in my family, i dont want to be boys as well. but like i said, i cover up just fine though! people see me as a normal non-girly female on the outside. and i never leave my prayer. so im not sure if this is okay or not. my family is very religious too, they do try to help me find my way.

Human masculinity and femininity comes in a spectrum, and it does not always fit a person’s assigned gender, thus there are highly masculine women and highly feminine men. This is part of the natural variation that exists among humans and has to do with levels of estrogen, testosterone and the sensitivity of your cells to these two hormones, probably among other things. There is nothing wrong or sinful about being this way, as it comes from factors outside of your control, as long as it doesn’t cause one to do unlawful things.

As far as I know Islam does not offer any specific advice on this matter other than the usual advice of staying close to God through worship and seeking His support. You’d have to find your own way, like you said, and inshaAllah you will find success and fulfillment in this life and hereafter.

How do Muslims justify their Prophet supposedly marrying a 9-year-old girl?

So, I am someone who likes using logic and I have defended Islam and my Muslim-ness many times from criticisms, some well-founded, others not so much. How can I defend Mohammad’s marriage to a young girl? He was old at the time. I can’t imagine being a child and being given away to an older man. Why did he think that was okay? How do you defend that without sounding like a pedophile apologist? -It is an honest question. How do other Muslims deal with this and remain moral?

The current theory is that Aisha’s young age was invented to defend her against the claims of the hypocrites and some of the Shia that she was an adulteress or unworthy of the Prophet, peace be upon him. By saying she was 9, they wanted to exaggerate her quality as a virgin. From Wikipedia:

Some traditional sources disagree. Ibn Hisham wrote in his biography of Muhammad that she may have been ten years old at the consummation. Ibn Khallikan, as well as Ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi citing Hisham ibn Urwah, record that she was nine years old at marriage, and twelve at consummation. Modern author and journalist Sadakat Kadri points out that the recording of Aisha’s age by Ibn Sa’d and Bukhari (though the hadith was Sahih) came a couple of centuries after the Prophet’s death. Child marriage was not uncommon in many places at the time, Arabia included. It often served political purposes, and Aisha’s marriage to Muhammad would have had a political connotation.

Muslim authors who calculate Aisha’s age based on the more detailed information available about her sister Asma estimate that she was over thirteen and perhaps between seventeen and nineteen at the time of her marriage. Muhammad Niknam Arabshahi, an Iranian Islamic scholar and historian, has considered six different approaches to determining Aisha’s age and concluded that she was engaged in her late teens. Using the age of Fatimah as a reference point, the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement scholar Muhammad Ali has estimated that Aisha was over ten years old at the time of marriage and over fifteen at the time of its consummation.

From a historical perspective, it seems highly unlikely for Aisha to have consummated her marriage at the age of 9. Given the immense incentive for later Muslims to reduce her age at the time of marriage (to prove her virginity), the “9″ figure is extremely doubtful and almost certainly a fabrication.

While many Muslims live under the mistaken assumption that Sahih Bukhari is 100% reliable, recent research continues to poke holes into this view. Nothing in Sahih Bukhari is guaranteed to be 100% correct, only the Quran has this guarantee in our view. Everything in Sahih Bukhari (and other collections) must be judged by the Quran, by common sense and by our historical knowledge. Since what it says regarding Aisha’s age is highly questionable, we are fully entitled to doubt its statement on this regard and reject it.

Reply from a reader

Asalam Alakum, regarding Al- Bukhari a lot of Sunni scholars collectively agreed that his collection is the second most reliable source after the Quran.

I agree, and personally I love the Sunnah and try to follow it as much as I can. But the keyword is after the Quran. Traditional scholars have sometimes mistakenly assumed that this means that it is almost as good as the Quran, while it is more accurate to consider the Quran far more superior to it.

The superiority of the Quran over hadith is like the superiority of the Prophet, peace be upon him, over his companions. Hadith can never be taken as a guide by itself, and it must always be judged in the context of the Quran:

There will be after me narrators of hadith. Expose their narrations to the Quran; any of them that agree with the Quran, then follow those, and those that do not agree with it, then do not follow them. —The Prophet, peace be upon him, in an authentic narration.

The Prophet of God does not defy the Book of God, and whoever defies the Book of God cannot be a Prophet of God. Refuting any man who mentions a narration of the Prophet peace be upon him which goes against the Quran is not a refutation of the Prophet peace be upon him, and is not an act of calling him [the Prophet] a liar, rather, it is a refutation of someone who speaks falsehood regarding the Prophet peace be upon him, and the accusation [of speaking falsehood] is against that man and not the Prophet peace be upon him. —Abu Hanifah

Any hadith that you can recognize as going against reason or contradicting [well-established Islamic] principles, then know that it is a fabrication, therefore do not consider yourself compelled to act by it. —Ibn al-Jawzi

The Most Desirable Women for Marriage are in their Early Twenties and Sexually Inexperienced

In reply to my article Will a young Muslim woman miss out on marriage by not dating and having relationships? someone wrote:

No offense but that ask about marriage with 0 dating experience has so many things wrong with it, i don’t even know where to start (& there aren’t enough chars to cover everything). – “Peak of attractiveness” technically is around 30s – That “wife material” part was quite sexist – Getting a random guy u barely know to ur family bc he says “he’s into u” is just unrealistic. I know what Islam says, but that’s unrealistic. How will u get to know the guy even? He’s marrying YOU, not your family.

Regarding peak attractiveness, here is a chart from the dating site OkCupid, which has a large database of statistics regarding dating and relationships. You can say it is unfair, but this is life. In fact according to them the peak is at 21, not even 25:

The wife material part is certainly sexist, if by that you mean treating women differently compared with men, acknowledging the evolutionary differences between them. It is not sexist if by that you mean there is something morally wrong with it. Men have an evolutionary instinct to prefer young, sexually inexperienced women. You are free to dislike this preference of men, but disliking it is not going to change men’s genetic code so that they start to prefer older or sexually experienced women. In the same way, a man may dislike the fact that many women find successful men attractive, while they find romantic men who have no degrees, no jobs, no money and live in their parents’ basement highly unattractive. A man can dislike these things and say it is discrimination against men, why should they be judged by their success instead of their innate qualities? A woman too, can say it is discrimination that she should be judged by her beauty and youth instead of her innate qualities. But in both cases, it is our evolutionary instincts telling us to prefer members of the opposite sex who are most likely to give us successful relationships, families and offspring.

Politics and morality have nothing to do with it. Unless we find a way to perform DNA surgery on men so that they start finding older and sexually experienced women more attractive, they will continue to prefer younger and less experienced women. And unless we perform DNA surgery on women, they will continue to care about a man’s success, or potential for success, before they decide whether they should marry him.

Unlike men, women are not attracted to young and inexperienced men, in a man shyness is weakness, not an attractive thing, and men, when they decide whether they should marry a woman, rarely care about her success or chances of success, because each sex wants different things in the other, thanks to evolutionary specialization.

Since humans are not animals, they can use their brains and free will to overcome their genetic instincts and make choices that go against them. But these genetic instincts will always be present underneath everything else. A woman always wants her husband to be more successful, and this would make her feel more attracted to him (while a man’s attraction for his wife has nothing to do with her career success), despite her religious and ideological beliefs.

One could say that we should change society so that these differences in sexual preferences between the sexes should go away. You, as a free-willed human, are free to do that in your own life. But since these facts have biological drives behind them, they cannot be stamped out. Apart from physical appearance, women are sexually attracted to success, men are sexually attracted to youth, not vice-versa. Trying to erase these facts is similar to communism’s efforts to erase the human desire for private ownership. The law, secret police and the gulag can be used to impose an unnatural arrangement on the population, but once this political force is removed, biological reality will reassert itself. All communist states revert to quasi-capitalist states, and all societies that have gender equality imposed upon them will eventually revert to biological sexual specialization.

Islam and biology both treat the sexes differently, giving each sex different duties and responsibilities (while as Muslims and civilized people we never forget that both are humans and capable of all human things). Modern politics wants to treat the sexes as if they are exactly the same, and as if any mention of differences between the sexes is blasphemy. I prefer Islam and science and couldn’t care less about politics and ideology.

I saw a train that was carrying knowledge and so torrentially it went.
I saw a train that was carrying politics (and so emptily it went.)

~ Sohrab Sepehri (Persian free verse poet)

I did not say she should introduce a random guy she barely knows to her family. The assumption was that she grew up knowing dozens of men, and through college and work, she could know dozens more. If one of these men she already knows well approach her, then instead of engaging in a potentially harmful relationship, she should direct them to her family.

As for someone she barely knows, then there is nothing wrong with getting to know him. From an Islamic point of view, the problem is with trying to enjoy a relationship with someone without marrying them. If the point is knowing a person, then there isn’t an issue with that as long as both sides observe custom and religious boundaries.

Next reply:

Those are OkCupid stats, they show which age range ppl are looking for, to date/meet. Has absolutely nothing to do w peak attractiveness. By sexist, I meant how a hymen is a criteria in marriage. You have every right to prefer islam rather than ideologies. But then again, Khadija (RAA) was neither inexperienced, nor young. The prophet (SAAWS) clearly didn’t follow any of what u said in ur arguments. And he is human, a man, with a dna, hormones and all. It IS VERY important to point out that Islam has asked BOTH men and women to stay virgin til marriage. So the “ unlike men, inexperienced women are biologically more attractive” argument clearly has NOTHING to do with Islam’s teachings. As much as I disagree, you have your opinions and preferences, that I accept. But please, don’t claim they’re what Islam says. Islam didn’t say that you’re less worthy as husbands or wives if you’re not virgin.

You are right that Islam requires both men and women to stay virgin, this goes without saying.

As for young and sexually inexperienced women being more attractive, I did not say this has anything to do with Islam. It has to do with biology. In my answers, I always take the facts of real life into account, and if I can give someone common sense advice along with mentioning related Islamic concepts, then I will do so, as I have done in most of my answers. This is how I would answer a question a friend asks me, and this is how I answer questions here.

I think the OkCupid data is highly relevant, it shows the female age that men find most desirable. Here is another chart from a BusinessInsider article that says the age is 23, sourced from different data:

I pointed to the rest of what you said in my previous answer. Humans have free will and are able to choose differently than their biological drives. For religious reasons, you could choose a less attractive and less wealthy man as a husband who is very religious, rather than less religious but more attractive man.

I have no problem with marrying a 40-year-old woman if she is a good person and we are fit for each other in other ways. But this does not prove biology false.

Humans love the taste of meat, but there are vegetarians who avoid it. Vegetarians will be wrong to say that there is no such thing as a human preference for meat. The preference exists, and the population as a whole follows the preference, but individual humans can go against it.

In the same way, men prefer young and inexperienced women, this is a biological preference. But they can overrule it with other concerns, moral, religious, intellectual, whatever they may be. When you look at the population as a whole, the preference will show up clearly, as the data shows.

Given the choice between three equally religious, intelligent and pretty women, one who is 22, one who is 32 and one who is 42, the majority of men would prefer the one who is 22.

In the same way, given the choice between three equally religious, intelligent and physically attractive men, one who is greatly successful, one who has moderate success, and one who has zero success and zero prospects, the majority of women will choose the most successful man.

Another way to illustrate this is if a man’s wife is 40, and she finds a magic potion to turn her back to 22, then the husband would love her to use it, no matter how much he loves her already.

And if a woman’s husband finds a magic potion that makes him much more successful than he is currently, she would love him to use it.

If there are always exceptions, what is the point of mentioning the general rules? The point is that these rules have significant effects on our lives whether we want them to or not. A woman will find it much easier to get married at 25 than at 45, because most men are not the Prophet, peace be upon him; most men will judge her by their own instincts, not be her spiritual qualities.

In the same way, a man will find it much easier to marry if he is successful, therefore he must try to be successful, doing what makes it more likely for him to marry, instead of saying that he will wait for the right woman who will marry him despite the fact that he has no job or degree.

The rule is that women are attracted to success, therefore a man should make use of this rule and seek to be successful. It is foolishness if he says that the right woman will not care about material things like success.

In the same way, the rule is that men are attracted to youth, therefore a woman should make use of this rule, realizing that it will be easier to get married when she is younger than when she is older. It is foolishness if she waits until she is 40 and says the right man will not care about material things like age.

Personally if I was given the choice of marrying either a 30-year-old or a 22-year-old, if both were equally pretty and religious, I may choose the older just because I would feel guilty to use her age against her, and would worry about her chances of marrying. I would be cognizant of the fact that most men would pass her up, so I wouldn’t.

But, and this is an important but, most men don’t think like that. You cannot rely on men’s kindness, saying they shouldn’t care about age, and you cannot rely on women’s kindness, saying they shouldn’t care about success.

If I were giving advice to a young woman regarding marriage, it is essential that I mention the importance of age. A 50-year-old woman will find it extremely difficult to marry, there will probably be little controversy about this. A 35-year-old woman still has a chance of marrying an attractive and successful man, but nowhere close to the chances of a 22-year-old.

And if I were giving advice to a young man regarding marriage, I would tell him to seek to be successful, because this is essential for him to be considered “marriage material” by women. He can call this sexist and say that he doesn’t care about a woman’s success, why should she care about his success? She does because she is designed to do so, because the survival of the species relies on her choosing someone who can take care of her and her children, and his material success is a very good indicator of his ability toward this (that he has the social skills, intelligence and stamina to take care of a family and ensure its long-term good). If he doesn’t work to be successful, then he has no right to complain if women reject his proposals.

Also note that I am not saying that older women cannot get married. Women of most ages can marry, but the older they get, the pool of men they can choose from gets smaller. A 22-year-old woman has the largest pool of men available to her, wanting to marry her, because she is at the peak of her desirability. At the age of 32, she can still marry, but she will have to settle for less attractive men. At 42 she can still marry, but she will have to settle for even less attractive men, unless a man like the Prophet, peace be upon him, appears and marries her. But most women cannot rely on this happening to them.

If you do not believe these, ask any single 40-year-old woman who wants to get married. The internet is full of stories of such women, who were deluded into delaying marriage until their late 30′s to work on their career, only to find out that almost no man finds them interesting anymore, even though in their 20′s they had dozens of men willing to marry them. It is nothing short of evil to cause this to happen to women, to delude them into letting their most attractive years pass them by just because it is fashionable politically, so that once they do start to want to get married, they run into disappointment after disappointment.

Women should instead be informed that marriage is much easier when you are young. An unmarried 40-year-old woman will not derive much consolation from calling these facts sexist and unfair and calling men “sexist pigs”.

Regardless of how much a man calls women sexist and materialist and says they should love him for who he is instead of loving him for his wallet, they will continue to care about his success, because it is their instinct to care. And regardless of how much a woman calls men sexist and materialist and says they should love her for who she is and not for her beauty and age, they will continue to care, because it is their instinct to care.

Exceptions can be found where people find fulfilling relationships that do not follow these patterns. But these rules exist, and they affect most of us to some degree. There is nothing wrong with mentioning them and taking them into consideration.

Will a young Muslim woman miss out on marriage by not dating and having relationships?

I am afraid, I am not like normal girls of my generation, I don’t like dating boys and getting into relationships, but I really want a serious relationship later. The thing is that I am afraid, how can i be sure that later there is someone for me, I am afraid that the people who were dating and getting in relationships will get married while i will not, i know this is stupid but this is a big fear (not the biggest, we all know what the biggest is) but it’s a big one

I assume that you are aware that sex outside of marriage is a major sin, and that relationships outside of marriage are considered a gateway to that.

As for your question, a woman continues to be near the peak of her attractiveness until the age of 25, it should be relatively easy for a woman to get married until then. A wise woman will do her best to get married around this time or earlier, this is the age where she can get the interest of the best men available to her. After this age, she may have to settle for lesser men if she wants to get married. If she values her education and career, she can get married and continue with these and delay pregnancy, or have children and resume her career later, whatever works for her.

Some people mention the idea that experience with relationships helps a person have better relationships eventually. This is wrong. In the US, for example, a first marriage generally lasts more than 25 years, while a second marriage lasts about 10 years, and a third marriage 5 years. Instead of increasing the likelihood of marital success, having had a divorce greatly increases the chance of getting a second divorce.

Men consider some women “wife material” and others not. A woman who has a cynical attitude toward relationships and has had sexual experience with many men may still get much interest from men if she is attractive, but this interest will be mostly from men who want to have sex with her, rather than men who want to marry her and take care of her for life. A woman who is known to easily get into and out of relationships is not going to be considered attractive wife material. I don’t mean that she will never get married, but that she will be considered less attractive for that than women who do not have such a reputation.

A worthy man is not going to go for the most attractive women, he will try to marry a woman who has a good reputation and who is preferably a virgin, or at least has had very few partners. Such a woman is more likely to be loyal to their marriage, to not abandon him and to not fall in love with others, because such women still have their emotional bonding ability (as the divorce statistics show).

A woman who has had many partners has less of this ability, because she feels it puts her in a very vulnerable position, and she feels no man may deserve this type of dedication after the losses she has suffered. This makes it easy for her to abandon her later relationships. I discuss this matter and many related ones in my new book Sex and Purpose. It is neither sex’s fault that things are this way. We are designed to seek the type of partner who is most likely to give us a successful relationship and healthy children, and among the things men look for in a wife is her “innocence” (or whatever they may call it), her not having so much sexual experience that she cannot feel emotionally attached to a man anymore.

Developing a reputation for having had many partners is not going to do a young religious woman any favors, it will cause the worthy men she wishes to marry to consider her less attractive. If you want to have a successful marriage with a worthy and religious man, then avoiding relationships might be more likely to give you success in this regard than engaging in them.

It is difficult to avoid relationships when other girls your age talk about it and engage in it all the time. Your solace can be the Quran and worship. By making the concerns of the afterlife feel important in your heart, the concerns of this life start to feel unimportant and become much easier to bear. Keeping a heightened state of spirituality requires daily work, as I often say. It is not something that can be achieved then put on the shelf, one’s spirituality decreases every day, and one must work to increase it again every day.

From an Islamic perspective, it is God who manages your destiny for you. You are not in charge, God is. It is only God, and no one else on Earth, who can ensure a good marriage for you. If you carry out your duty of keeping God’s remembrance alive in your heart, of avoiding all sins and gathering good deeds, then you can leave it to Him to take care of your marital success for you. This is known as tawakkul, placing one’s reliance on God. If you have a close relationship with God, if you carry out your duties and pray to Him to give you success in this life and the hereafter, then He will give it to you in the way He chooses, at the time He chooses.

Engaging in a potentially sinful relationship out of the fear of being left behind is similar to a man engaging in a questionable type of business out of the fear of poverty. This is not an admirable thing, it shows a lack of trust in God. If God is the All-Powerful King of this universe, if He can do anything, if He takes care of His servants, then how can anyone justify disobeying Him to ensure their own good?

Engaging in a potentially sinful relationship may actually cause one to be punished by God by ending up in an unwholesome marriage where neither spouse likes the other much, and where both of them continue wishing to find a better match for themselves so that they are never content with their current relationship.

So it is true that it feels risky to pass up relationships for years in the hope that you will eventually be approached by the right man. But this is what Islam demands, that we avoid engaging in things that promise us rewards and profit if they are questionable.

If you are old enough to be in relationships, you are old enough to marry. Islam wholeheartedly rejects the hookup culture of the West where people “date” and have sex for years before “taking the jump” and marrying. If a man wants to enjoy being with you, then he must publicly promise to take care of you and accept full responsibility for the relationship.

Most men would rather not do that. They would rather enjoy having sex with women without being responsible for the relationship, and if you get emotionally attached to him (as you are biologically designed to do) and ask for marriage, he will act as if there is something wrong with you and call you “clingy”, and he may try to break off the relationship. Once this happens to a woman multiple times, she becomes cynical toward relationships and loses her ability to become emotionally attached to men, and men will treat her like she is broken. She may still be interesting to have sex with, but to them she is no longer worth marrying if there are younger, less sexually experienced women available.

Islam prevents these things from happening by requiring all sexual relationships to be official, men are not allowed to use you then abandon you.

It can be beneficial to delay marriage, for example so that the person gets more experience, but this has to be balanced by the concern that a person prevented from marriage may be tempted to seek a relationship outside of it. If a family prevents their daughter from marrying, saying she should wait for the perfect man to come along, and she ends up in a sinful relationship, then it is the family that is at fault.

Islam has no concept of relationships outside of marriage. It sounds like you are not eager for a relationship, you are only worried what may happen down the road. The only thing to do is to be patient until God makes a way for you, and to remember that in the view of most men, fair or unfair, for a woman the more sexual relationships she has had, the less attractive she is as a wife (even if she continues to attract men’s sexual interest).

Assuming you are 18 or older, if you are eager for a relationship, then you can let your family know this. If an eligible man approaches you, you can direct him to your family so that he asks for your hand in marriage, if he is in love with you he should have no trouble with the idea of marrying you. Islam does not let men stay children until they are 40, saying they are too immature to marry, it asks them to marry and grow up from the experience. If your family says you are too young and that you should wait 7 or 8 more years, tell them it is not easy to wait when so many people around you are in relationships.

There is no perfect solution to this dilemma. It is one of the challenges of life that require patience and reliance on God, similar to a person’s desire to earn an income in the West while not engaging in anything forbidden, which can be difficult at times. A person may be offered the perfect degree or the perfect career, but it may require engaging in unlawful things to acquire these, and for this reason they have to pass them up, taking a loss for God’s sake and trusting that His rewards are better than what this world offers. Similarly, to not engage in the dating and relationship scene may feel like a loss, but a devout woman will do it to please God.

Islamic Strategies for Escaping a Sinful Life

19 year old boy here. It’s a serious issue but I’ll keep it short. I was exposed to pornography at a very young age and I still haven’t been able to get over it. And then came the time when I could mingle with the opposite sex and actually do things and since then I haven’t been able to stop myself from committing zina. I’ve barely started to learn Islam but my imaan was a little stable in a few days and I did not do it in a long time. But it ate me from inside. Please help me

Continuing from above, I fear Allah swt but it does not remain constant to me. I’m very helpless and I do not know what to do. I keep doing it. My sexual desire overcomes it and I feel guilty then as usual. I know I’m doing a very horrible sin but I’m really in a position of a porn addict. And if I haven’t asked you the previous thing anonymously then please don’t answer to that? I’m in deep trouble and want my sins to be discreet obviously. Please help me. Jazakallahu khair

I cannot look at myself in the mirror. I desired to be a very influential Muslim and truth in my heart but this major sin inside me is eating me. I’m very frustrated and unable to do anything and I feel horribly ashamed to offer my namaz. Please help me. I’ve asked you around three questions cuz there was a word limit and I hope I get help from Allah swt through you!

No matter how great your sins are, God’s mercy is greater. The greatest sin of all is to lose hope in His mercy and to stop offering the obligatory prayers and performing other obligatory deeds. Regardless of how you feel, this is a duty you cannot ignore. Continue asking for His forgiveness. Even if you fail ten thousand times, He has the power to forgive you more times than that.

At the age of 19 your brain development is not complete. It only completes after the age of 25. What this means is that you have poor impulse control, because of no fault of your own, because the prefrontal cortex of the brain has not completed developing, which is the part of the brain that enables us to control our emotions and impulses.

Trying to make yourself stop engaging in those sins while they are easily available, and while your brain development has not completed, might be asking the impossible. It is like putting a child in a room full of candy and asking them not to eat any. It is an unfair test, because they haven’t developed the ability to control their impulses yet. The same may apply to you.

Think of your desires as an enemy. You cannot defeat it directly, because you do not have the power yet. You must defeat it indirectly. Instead of putting yourself in a test that you are unable to pass, you must avoid the test altogether. This is done by making it impossible to engage in those sins. If you live somewhere where you have easy access to women to sleep with, move somewhere else. Move to a different country if you have to.

If you are sincere in wanting to win this battle, you must do what it takes, even if it requires much work and hardship. Consider it your hijrah. You do not yet have full control over your desires, therefore you must not put your hopes in learning a magical way of overcoming them. You must instead use your intelligence and planning ability to find ways of making it impossible to engage in those sins. Since I do not know your exact situation, I cannot tell you what the best plan for you is. Any plan that requires you to have significant control over your impulses will most likely fail. The plan must take impulse out of the equation by making the sins impossible. For example, if you could join an Islamic educational establishment in a faraway country or area that does not have internet or cell phone coverage, then in that situation avoiding sinning would probably become very easy for you, and you would be able to focus on worshiping God and getting yourself educated about Islam.

Part of the solution could be to get married, even if your family think you are too young, since avoiding major sins is more important. Ibn Masud (companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him) says that even if he had ten days to live in this world, if he was afraid his sexual desire would cause him to sin, he would do his best to get married. You may be able to find a woman who understands your problem and helps you find ways of overcoming it.

You could also go to a pious person at a local mosque, perhaps the imam, and share with them your problem. Maybe they will be able to help you by getting you involved in certain activities, or helping you move somewhere where you can fight your desires more easily. Sharing your problem with others is difficult, since it will go against your pride and self-respect. But you must give more value to avoiding your sinful life, even if this requires that you expose yourself to highly uncomfortable situations.

If you are unable to find a successful plan for making it impossible for yourself to sin, then know that as you grow older your ability to control your impulses will grow. After 25 it will become much easier for you to avoid sins related to sexual desire. Therefore this should be your back-up plan; if everything else fails, hold on to your faith until it becomes easier to resist your sins. Continue to read as much Quran as you can, try to memorize it, perform all the voluntary prayers including tahajjud, constantly read Islamic books, and if you sin, repent, purify yourself and go back to worship as soon as you can, thinking of it as a temporary interruption in your life of worship, until God helps you completely avoid it.

Continue planning against your desires and praying day and night for God’s help, until He gives you a solution sooner or later. If you sincerely ask of Him and seek Him with everything you have, then He will forgive you and answer you.

Satan will constantly tell you that you are worthless and that you should give up hope. You must fight his whispers and know that there is no solution for you in this world except to seek God, regardless of how sinful and worthless you feel. It is only He who forgives sins.

There is no safety from [God’s punishment] except through taking refuge in Him. (The Quran, verse 9:118)

God knows you better than yourself, and He understands what you go through. If you are sincere in seeking a solution, then He will reward your sincerity and forgive you your past and future sins as you continue to seek His pleasure.

You must consider it your duty to perform sufficient worship and Quran-reading on a daily basis that the afterlife starts to feel as important as the present life to you. This seems to require about an hour of extra voluntary deeds a day, whether it is Quran-reading, supplication, praying at the mosque or performing extra prayers. Once you achieve this state and maintain it for weeks and months, it becomes far easier to resist sins.

You already believe in God and the afterlife. This is only an intellectual belief. Through worship, you can turn it into an emotional belief as well, so that God and the afterlife feel real to you. Once your faith is not just an intellectual belief, but an emotional state, then this will have a powerful effect on your state of mind and on your actions. This is the state that every Muslim must seek to achieve, and it is the state of the prophets and the greatest believers.

The best help I have found toward maintaining such an emotional state has been to perform every prayer at the mosque, to perform dhikr and supplication after every one of them, and to perform all the related voluntary prayers. If there is a mosque near you, then this should be one of the first things you try. Even if it is 10 or 15 minutes away, consider it part of your war against your sins to go there, and God will reward you for your time and effort.

Personally I do not generally enjoy going to the mosque, but I do it anyway.

Consider going to the mosque part of your job, as if you earn an hourly wage for it. It is just another job, perform it, and you will get its rewards.

Planning against your sins and doing the work necessary to avoid and overcome them is not going to be easy. It is going to require difficult and perhaps boring and repetitive work. But for this you will be greatly rewarded.

If you want to have a successful career in this life and the next, if you want to be a leader like you said, then do the daily work needed for this. A career requires work, your work is to do worship and to go to the mosque. No matter how unrewarding you find this work, if you do it, you will get its fruits. Worshiping and obeying God is not meant to be fun. It is work, sometimes hard work, sometimes boring work, we do it because we want His rewards. If you do not get any uplifting feeling from your worship or mosque attendance at first, continue doing it for weeks and months, and you will eventually feel it inshaAllah.

When we try to seek God and renew our allegiance to Him, He may withhold His help until we prove our sincerity. If we try to worship Him ardently for a week, then give up hope when nothing happens and we feel no difference, it shows that we do not truly have faith in Him, that we are not sincere in our servitude. We prove our sincerity by constantly working toward Him whether we feel good or bad, whether we feel appreciated or abandoned. This is true worship of God, that we love Him regardless of what He decrees for us. Everything else is mostly self-worship.

 

Dealing with an eating disorder (and other mental conditions) as a Muslim

i wanted to bring this topic up since its not really spoken that much in the Muslim community. I’ve had an eating disorder for a year now and its honestly changed me as a person. I’ve prayed many times but i still feel regret after eating and it doesn’t help with a family who don’t understand. They have this view that whenever you have a mental problem its because you’ve ‘strayed from god’. i kinda want some religious help because i feel so lost and numb.

Unfortunately it is common for people, and not just Muslims, to treat mental disorders as a weakness of the person’s character instead of a real condition.

The Islamic way to think of your disorder is to think of it as any other illness, such as type I diabetes. There are many devout Muslims who have this condition, and they are dependent on injections and drugs for the rest of their lives. There is no guarantee in Islam that prayer will take the condition away.

And a Muslim born without legs due to a genetic issue is most likely not going to grow new legs regardless of their prayers and worship. But God can turn their condition into a blessing for them in various ways. For example they could receive a good income from the government that enables them to dedicate themselves to studying what they like instead of having to waste their time working to earn a living.

The first step to defeating your condition is to accept it, the way the people mentioned above accept their conditions. God does not promise us perfect lives, and He does not promise that we will be free from suffering the various illnesses and conditions that befall all humans. If we are among the “unlucky” few to suffer a condition, we must accept it and realize that God had complete power to prevent us from getting that condition, and that He has complete power to perform a miracle to cure us. Yet He allowed us to get the condition, and He has not decided to cure it.

There is an important lesson in this. Your condition is not meaningless. God, with all of His power and watchfulness, has allowed you to have it. It is His decision. He is the one in charge, you are not in charge. If He wants, He can take it away at any moment. But while you have it, you must accept it, knowing that it is by His decree and permission. When you suffer, this is a chance to practice patience and earn its rewards. One cannot earn the rewards of patience unless one has something to be patient about.

Most of the hardships we suffer in life are sent to bring us closer to God, as they force us to see our weakness and fragility and our dependence on Him. We must stay close to God at all times, we must keep His remembrance alive, and we must always ensure that He and the afterlife always feel as important to us as the present life. Once we achieve that state, and we prove our loyalty to Him by maintaining that state instead of abandoning it after a few days or weeks, He either removes the hardship, or turns it into a blessing, or gives us something else that makes up for it, so that even though we continue to suffer from the hardship (a chronic condition, for example), we are given sources of happiness and joy that more than make up for it.

Forgive your family for not understanding, do sufficient Quran-reading, prayers and supplication to feel close to God every single day, then patiently wait for His judgment. He will either bring about a cure eventually (months from now He may lead you into reading an article that mentions some treatment strategy that works for you), or He will do something else that makes up for it one way or another.

Think of your condition as any other medical condition, such as diabetes. Your part is to seek closeness to God and seek help through research and medical professionals, in this way taking care of both your spiritual duty and your material duty. What happens next is up to God. He may give you a cure or He may not. What matters is that you do your part, stay patient and do not lose hope, knowing that He will do what is kind and just toward you when He wants, and what He will do may be something you never expected.

God does not ask you to do more than you are able. Sometimes we are in so much pain, physically or mentally, that the most we can do is prevent ourselves from complaining or thinking unthankful thoughts. If this is the most we can do, then God will understand and will not ask more of us. If people speak of God as if He is harsh, unjust or demanding, then know that what they say is false. God is kinder than we can imagine, and He will never hurt us just to hurt us, or demand more from us than we are able to give.

53. [The angels] said, “Do not fear; we bring you good news of a boy endowed with knowledge.”

54. [Prophet Ibrahim] said, “Do you bring me good news, when old age has overtaken me [when I am too old to have children]? What good news do you bring?”

55. They said, “We bring you good news in truth, so do not despair.”

56. He said, “And who despairs of his Lord’s mercy but those who are lost?” (The Quran, verses 15:53-56)

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