Marriage is not necessarily “half our religion”

You said marriage is not obligated but we’re told it’s half of the deen

The “half our deen” saying comes from a group of hadith narrations all of which are of questionable authenticity. One of them comes from al-Bayhaqi’s collection and the chain of narrators includes يزيد الرقاشي, who is untrustworthy according to al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hajar. Another version comes from al-Hakim’s collection, and the chain contains عبد الرحمن بن زيد, who is untrustworthy.

There is another famous saying “a woman completes part of a man’s faith”, this is not from the Prophet, but from Tawus ibn Kaysan, it is just a scholar speaking his personal opinion.

The hadith scholar al-Albani does a detailed study and considers all of the narrations untrustworthy except one that says “A woman supports a man in part of his deed, so let him worry about the second part.” This hadith is not authentic due to its chain containing at least one person whose is known to be of arbitrary reliability (he sometimes speaks the truth, sometimes says something completely wrong). al-Albani concludes that the hadith has a status of “hasan”, meaning that it is not authentic (”saheeh”), but that the content and the chain of narrations is good enough that one cannot say with certainty that it is fabricated (”dha`eef” or “maudhoo`”).

In conclusion, therefore, this “half our deen” concept is not certain and cannot be used as a basis for deriving principles. Since it sounds good, most people, including clerics and scholars, have accepted it without questioning. It sounds nice, and you can’t question nice things, otherwise that makes you a mean person.

I rarely hear a Friday sermon in which the preacher does not mention some cringe-worthy false narration. It is for the greater good, so even if they know the hadith is fabricated, the preacher believes that the end justifies the means. Even if it is a lie, it sounds good and is supposedly beneficial, so they repeat it.

One commonly repeated false saying that non-Muslims have used for the past century to poke fun at Islam is that a martyr is given 72 virgins in Paradise, and this is repeated by some Muslims to this day. This is from a set of weak hadith narrations whose chains of narrators cannot warrant a higher status than dhaeef (”weak”, i.e. unauthentic) (see Apppendix IV of Jonathan Brown’s Misquoting Muhammad)God, of course, has the power to reward people however He wants, but since these narrations are false, they are false, therefore Muslims must stop repeating them even if they are considered useful. A lie is a lie regardless of how useful someone thinks it is.

What are the manners and rules of performing wudu and prayer?

What are the manners and rules of performing wudu and prayer (for a female)?

Learning how to perform ablution and pray properly requires a lot of detail and I cannot give it in an answer or two. Please check out Asad Tarsin’s book Being Muslim: A Practical Guide, which mentions all the details of praying and other Islamic acts of worship, and inshaAllah you will find it highly useful.

Is getting agitated when someone walks in on you praying something to be concerned about?

Is getting agitated when someone walks in on you praying something to be concerned about? In general, I strongly dislike when my family members see me do worship.

It is normal to dislike being looked at when you feel others might be judging you regardless of the activity you are performing. Even if you love your family and they love you, if for example they are non-Muslim or non-practicing Muslims and find the prayer funny, you will not like to do it in their presence, similar to the way you wouldn’t want to work on a painting in the presence of someone who thinks painting is a foolish activity.

On intentionally delaying the isha prayer

I’ve read that it’s best to delay isha namaz I was wondering exactly how long should it be delayed for?

“You’ve described many scholars as corrupt in your blog…”

You’ve described many scholars as corrupt in your blog. Many of them are classical and accridited scholars from Al-Azhar. How come they are wrong after all? Like you seem to not agree on things there’s a consensus on eg apostaty, obligation on marriage, etc

I haven’t called any of them corrupt, I consider them good people doing their best to follow Islam. The view of Islam I present is actually a mix of the views of some of al-Azhar’s greatest scholars (Muhammad Abduh, Rashid Rida, Mahmud Shaltut, Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, Muhammad al-Ghazali).

Regarding apostasy, Mahmud Shaltut (Grand Imam of Al-Azhar from 1958 to 1963) says that apostates are only punished if they try to fight the Muslims and plot against them, that mere apostasy is not punishable.

Marriage is not obligatory. Imam al-Nawawi says in his commentary on Sahih Muslim that those who have the means to marry and are psychologically ready and willing for it (تاقت إليه نفسه) should marry, otherwise they are free not to, and he himself never married.

Regarding other matters, I follow Muhammad al-Ghazali’s view (an al-Azhar scholar) and the views of Sayyid Qutb, Ahmad Moftizadeh and Nasir Subhani that the Quran’s principles take precedence over hadith, so that a hadith narration that contradicts the Quran can be doubted or reinterpreted even if its chain of narrators is considered authentic by hadith scholars. If the Quran says people should have religious freedom, but there is a hadith that says people should not have religious freedom, the Quran takes precedence. We use the Quran to re-interpret everything else within Islam. For the details of this method see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

How to repent from zina (sex outside of marriage)

How does one repent for zina? What if the man is someone who I’m planning to marry anyway since we are close to being engaged? Will the punishment be as severe, especially since we both feel guilt?

If you both truly repent (meaning that you ask for God’s forgiveness and intend to not repeat the sin), then it is the consensus view that the two of you can marry without issue according to the Egyptian scholar Khalid bin al-Mun`im al-Rifa`i (fatwa #43035 on islamway.net)

Before marrying (before nikah) you must wait one menstrual cycle to ensure that you are not pregnant. If you are, according to the Hanafi and Shafii schools, you two can still marry, while according to the Maliki and Hanbali schools you cannot marry until you give birth. The Hanafi and Shafii opinions are preferable since this is better for the two of you, the child and for the rest of society (to marry now rather than later if you have became pregnant). If you have your period like normal, then you can marry according to all the schools.

There is no punishment, that is only something relevant if the issue reaches an Islamic court (if people saw you during the act then went on to report on you in a country that follows Islamic law). Since what you mention appears to have been done in private, then it is sufficient for both of you to repent, and that is the end of it. This is the opinion of the Saudi fatwa council, mentioned in fatwa #47834 on Islamicqa.info.

In short, both of you should repent, then you can marry like normal (taking into account the complications mentioned above) and go on with your lives. Both of you should do extra fasts and worship to prove to yourselves and to God that your repentance is true.

Can you pray after eating pork by mistake?

I’m a new revert and today my mother made me a meal and it had some Chorizo in it. It was one slice and I was so engrossed in conversation that I ate it without realising. It wasn’t until 5 minutes later that the penny dropped. What happens now? Is my Salah invalid? Do I repent? I’m confused.

There is no repentance necessary since it was a mistake (according to the Saudi scholar Ibn Baaz, http://www.binbaz.org.sa/noor/3155)

According to the Shafii jurist Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, if one eats something unlawful by mistake, one should try to throw it up if this is possible for them, otherwise they do not have to do anything other than rinsing their mouth. (Islamweb, fatwa 94019)

As for whether a person can pray, the only relevant opinion I can find is of the 19th century Maliki jurist Muhammad al-Desouki who says that as long as the pork is in the person’s stomach and they are able to throw it up, their prayer will not be accepted. This means that if one eats pork by mistake, they should try to throw it up unless there is a health reason that prevents them before they pray. But if one is not able to throw it up, or the food has passed beyond the stomach, then one can pray like normal. (Islamweb, fatwa 283165).

In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan

Get it on Amazon.com

In the Footsteps of the Prophet is a long-needed biography of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that focuses on his character, manners and experience, rather than narrating meaningless dates and facts.

Many classical Islamic books are somewhat out-of-touch to modern readers, so that while they may have been satisfactory to their original (often Middle Eastern) readers, when translated into English they end up being unapproachable, enigmatic and highly inadequate, often leading to more questions than answers. In the Footsteps of the Prophet, having been written by someone who lives and breathes the Western worldview, lacks these shortcomings, so that I can refer Europeans to it without having to make apologies for it.

On embracing faith

Ramadan writes:

From the outset, the Quran presents itself as the mirror of the universe. The term that the first Western translators rendered as “verse”-referring to biblical vocabulary-literally means, in Arabic, “sign” (ayah). Thus, the revealed Book, the written text, is made up of signs (ayat) just as the uni­verse, like a text spread out before our eyes, is teeming with signs. When the heart’s intelligence, and not only analytical intelligence, reads the Quran and the world, then the two texts address and echo each other, and each of them speaks of the other and of the One. The signs remind us of what it means to be born, to live, to think, to feel, and to die.

His writing style creates vague clouds of meanings and feelings, and it is often left as an exercise to the reader to make out anything concrete from what he says. This is very much unlike my own style, but perhaps there is a demographic that finds better meaning in his. What he is saying above is that the Quran provides various pointers (rather than conclusive proofs) of the Creator’s existence and presence, and the universe around us also provides its own pointers (rather than conclusive proofs). When you bring together the total of the Quran’s pointers and the universe’s pointers, your conscience (what he refers to as your heart’s intelligence) is offered the very difficult choice of accepting faith or rejecting it.

When you run into sufficient ayat in yourself, in the world around you, and in the Quran, you reach a point where non-submission to the Creator becomes a sin against your conscience. This is the sin of kufr (disbelief), of denying God’s signs and/or favors.

Throughout your life, your conscience is like a jury watching a trial that tries to decide whether God exists or not. Sign after sign is presented to your conscience, never sufficient to conclusively prove to your rational brain that God exists, but never so little that you can deny those signs in good conscience. Once you have seen sufficient signs, you will feel guilty to deny God, because you have done something that goes against your conscience. Even if you can rationally justify your rejection of God, the guilt may never leave.

As for someone who has never seen sufficient signs, that is a different matter.

The super-humanity or not of the Prophet ﷺ

Ramadan embraces the idea that there was something special (super-human) about the Prophet ﷺ, narrating a few stories like the angels visiting him when he was a child and performing surgery on him to remove a black piece of flesh from his heart, in this way purifying him from something bad that other human hearts supposedly contain. The Egyptian scholar Muhammad al-Ghazali in his Fiqh al-Seerah rejects this story, saying that good and evil are a matter of the spirit, not the flesh.

The story is problematic because it suggests there is some inherent evil within humans, embedded right in their flesh, reminiscent of the Christian idea of original sin. This story is just one example of the myriad stories in books of seerah (biographies of the Prophet ﷺ) suggesting that the Prophet ﷺ was special, something more than human. The Christians turned Jesus into God, and Muslims would probably have done the same, out of love and a desire for a human divinity that wasn’t so terrifying as God, if the Quran wasn’t so insistent that God has no associates and wasn’t so critical of the idea of Jesus as a Son of God.

In the Footsteps of the Prophet contains only a few such stories, which makes it greatly superior to other books of seerah. And while we may not be able to conclusively say that there is was nothing specially super-human about the Prophet ﷺ, a truly human Prophet is far more admirable than a super-human Prophet in reality. What’s so special about bearing a burden if you are given super-powers by God to bear it? And resisting evil while desiring it is a greater accomplishment than resisting it after God sends angels to perform surgery on you to make you a better person.

The beautiful story the Quran tells us is that the Prophet was a human just like any of us, and that he was given a terribly difficult mission that terrified him. He had to bear this burden with all of his fears and weaknesses, he had to face humiliation after humiliation among his relatives and tribe, and he had to face death on numerous occasions, not as a super-man who couldn’t be harmed, but as a fragile human who could suffer, who could fear, who could desire, who could be impatient, who could make terrible mistakes.

Say, “I am nothing more than a human being like you, being inspired that your god is One God. Whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and never associate anyone with the service of his Lord.” (The Quran 18:110)

God did not tell the Prophet to say, “All humans are equal, but I am more equal than you.” He is told to say “I am nothing more than a human being”. That’s it. There is no need to turn him into a super-man and in this way take away from his achievements.

Activist Islam

Throughout the book, he advocates for the spiritual/activist Islam that I advocate for, but he does not, at least not in this book, provide the crucial algorithms for reaching this form of Islam; preferring the Quran’s authority over hadith, teaching everyone to treat the Quran as if it was revealed to them personally.

This type of Islam, which I call Quran-focused Islam, is almost exactly Tariq Ramadan’s kind of Islam. In this book, at least, he shows what this Islam looks like, without showing how it is arrived at and why it is so different from classical Islam. Perhaps he himself does not see his Islam as the result of a small set of algorithms but rather the result of a lifelong search for meaning. This is also the case with many other admirable personas within contemporary Islamic history, who call for a modern and extremely civilized form of Islam without clearly stating the crucial differences between their Islam and classical Islam. They show the results of a lifelong process they have arrived it, they do not, or are unable to, explain the process itself, explaining the algorithm that if applied by anyone of sufficient intelligence and knowledge always leads to their type of Islam.

This makes them easy prey to Salafis who always come with their highly simple and elegant-sounding algorithms, in this way in a statement or two appearing to demolish all of Tariq Ramadan’s thinking. The Salafi algorithm is that one must follow the Quran and the Sunnah as  accurately as possible, and who can argue with that? Tariq Ramadan, at least in this book and in his Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, does not offer a clear alternative algorithm that leads to his type of Islam and shows why the Salafis are wrong.

That alternative algorithm is that one must use all available tools to reach as accurate an understanding of the Quran as possible, and once that is reached, this understanding of the Quran is taken as a program that must lived and breathed by every person, with hadith acting as a helper. This alternative algorithm’s biggest proof of superiority is in its intellectual conclusions (solving the problem of slavery, stoning adulterers, punishing apostasy, the free will paradox) and in the lives of its greatest followers (Sayyid Qutb, Ahmad Moftizadeh).

Aisha

Sufficient evidence is not presented to show why the relationship between Aisha and the Prophet was special and exemplary, a claim that the book makes in multiple places. The issue of Aisha’s age is not addressed, and for someone who has this in mind while reading the relevant passages, nothing presented sufficiently justifies things. He mentions that the Prophet ﷺ “stayed away” from Aisha for a month after she was accused of adultery, then mentions that this event “reinforced their love and trust”. But this claim is not convincing when no evidence is presented for it, and in fact evidence is provided that it harmed their relationship.

The very important spiritual side of this matter is not mentioned. This was an intensely difficult lesson for the Prophet ﷺ, for he had not received guidance on what to do in the case of someone being accused without evidence being presented. Since the person accused was his own wife, and since he had no specific guidance on the matter, he could do nothing but suffer. He did not dare interact with his wife, not knowing whether her status as his wife was valid anymore.

Mentioning these facts would have shown that his abandoning her for a month was not an act of him throwing away his wife until she was proven innocent, as it would appear to a critical reader. Both in this book and Karen Armstrong’s  Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time, the focus on the Prophet’s persona and his sociopolitical status sometimes causes the fact of his utter servitude toward God to be neglected. In the issue of Aisha’s accusation, he was a helpless servant of God, not knowing what to do to please Him.

Later it is mentioned that Aisha remained upset with the fact that the Prophet had doubted her chastity. Her mother asks her to thank the Prophet ﷺ for forgiving her and taking her back, but she says she will only thank God, since the Prophet ﷺ had doubted her. This, while seemingly a negative fact, is a good illustration of the fact that she maintained her independence of will and did not act as an intellectual slave to her husband, but considered him a human that could be challenged. This proves Islam’s detractors wrong in considering Muslim women the toys of their men, and it also proves Salafis wrong in considering women the toys of men.

Sufficient justification for the war on Khaybar is not mentioned: the fact that it continuously sought to pay Arab tribes to go to war with the Muslims, hoping to remain the supreme Jewish power over the gentiles of Arabia, the way Israel today hopes to remain the supreme Jewish power over the gentiles of the Middle East, and using one group of gentiles to do their dirty work for them against another group while they themselves remained safe in their fortresses, the way today they get Christians to fund and fight Israel’s wars for them.

The Prophet’s manners

As mentioned, the book approaches the Prophet ﷺ as a human to be understood and emulated, and many examples are shown of his immense kindness, tolerance and civility toward both his followers and his sworn enemies. While on the whole the image of the Prophet ﷺ presented by the book is believable, there are also passages like the following which appear to attach too much of the author’s own reading to the Prophet ﷺ:

The Messenger, moreover, drew from children his sense of play and innocence; from them he learned to look at people and the world around him with wonder. From watching children experience beauty he also more fully developed his sense of aesthetics: in front of beauty, he wept, he was moved, he sometimes sobbed, and he was often filled with well-being by the poetic musicality of a phrase or by the spiritual call of a verse offered by the Most Generous, the Infinitely Beautiful.

It would have helped if these characteristics were backed by concrete examples.

Conclusion

In the Footsteps of the Prophet is a book I would recommend to anyone wishing to get something of an accurate view of Islam’s founder, a view that is neither harshly critical or fawningly uncritical piece of marketing. It shows the Prophet ﷺ as those who know the most about him see him, and I cannot give it a higher praise than this.

A non-Muslim may naturally be skeptical of a book, written by a Muslim, that offers such a seemingly charitable glimpse of the Prophet. Muslims have everything to gain if non-Muslims see the founder of their religion in a more friendly light. To that I will say that this is the Prophet ﷺ as Muslims see him. There are no dark secrets. If someone says he said or did something horrible, we reject it. The Prophet’s character, as his wife Aisha said, “was the Quran”. We think of the Prophet as a follower of the Quran, someone who did his utmost to embody its teachings, and if someone makes a claim about the Prophet that is highly out of character for him as a person who lived and breathed the Quran, then we reject that claim regardless of where it comes from.

Our only entirely reliable source about the Prophet is the Quran, therefore the Quranic worldview and its view of the Prophet takes priority over everything else (including hadith narrations), the Quran is the criterion by which we judge all other claims about the Prophet. As Abu Hanifah says, the Prophet of God cannot do anything that goes against the Book of God, therefore if someone says the Prophet did something that is out of character for him as bearer of the Quran, then that is automatically rejected.

Therefore if someone tells you the Prophet did this horrible thing, and that horrible thing is not mentioned in the Quran and goes against the Quran’s principles, then the rational thing to do is to distrust that saying. Saying the Prophet broke a Quranic principle is an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary evidence.

Skeptics of Islam who say this book gives an overly friendly view of the Prophet have misunderstood Islam. The view of the Prophet ﷺ presented in this book is the most Quranic view of him that we have, and therefore by definition it is the most accurate and believable for Muslims, and thus it should also be considered the most accurate and believable view by non-Muslims.

As rational humans, we believe in Islam because we have read the Quran and consider the likelihood of it being from God greater than the likelihood of it being a forgery, its evidence has overwhelmed us and we have gone with our conscience, which is to accept it. Different people, of course, arrive at Islam via different roads, but the place of the Quran is central. If it wasn’t a miraculous text that could prove its own truth, it wouldn’t be worth believing in. Our Islam starts with the Quran, not with the Prophet. To a Muslim, the Quran has center stage, and once you have accepted the truth of the Quran using your rational brain, what people say about the Prophet ﷺ is only of secondary importance. To you, the Prophet ﷺ is merely the Quran’s messenger, and therefore you judge him as a messenger. If someone mentions that he did something unfitting of the Quran, that is automatically rejected, since the Quran is your living, day-to-day guide, who cares what is written in some ancient history book that has no guarantee of being 100% true, even if it is generally reliable?

A skeptic who finds random narrations mentioning horrible things about the Prophet, thinking this somehow proves him to not be a very nice person, has totally misunderstood Islam. We judge the Prophet not by those narrations, but by the Quran, and if those narrations go against the Quran’s principles or the fact that the Prophet’s mission was to embody this book, then those narrations are automatically highly suspect and not worth talking about to a Muslim.

The Quran gives us a specific view of the Prophet ﷺ, and this is the unquestionable, unchallenged view. This is the canonical Prophet ﷺ that we love and follow. If you find something in an authentic hadith collection that goes against this canonical Prophet ﷺ, then say that the canonical Prophet is inaccurate, that this hadith takes precedence, then you are simply showing that you have not understood Islam. Our only 100% reliable source of evidence regarding the Prophet ﷺ is the Quran, therefore this is the canonical view. Everything else is less reliable by definition, and therefore should be judged according to the Quran’s canonical view.

This is a simple matter of giving weight to more reliable evidence (the Quran) over less reliable evidence (hadith). If the more reliable evidence gives you one view of the Prophet, and the less reliable evidence gives you another one, if you are a rational human, you will prefer the view arrived at through the more reliable evidence, and this is what we Muslims do, and this is what In the Footsteps of the Prophet does. Those who have an ax to grind against Islam ignore the reliable evidence and waste their time building an alternate-reality version of the Prophet ﷺ based on less reliable evidence, a version of the Prophet that goes entirely against the Quranic view. What they say about the Prophet, therefore, is automatically rejected, since they intentionally ignore the most important evidence (the Quran) and instead focus on secondary evidence that confirm their preconceived biases.

A fair-minded person should therefore see that what In the Footsteps of the Prophet does is exactly what we Muslims do in trying to arrive at an accurate understanding of the Prophet ﷺ; we use the canonical, Quranic view to make sense of a world of secondary evidence of varying authenticity to reach a good enough understanding of the Prophet’s mind and career.

Why Islam forbids extramarital touching and kissing even if no sex is involved

I have read one or two of your articles on your website. It’s really insightful, jazakumullah ahsanul jaza. I have a question similar yet specific about homosexuality. How does Islam view if there is two friends of the same sex who love each other in a platonic-romantic way, and have strong desire to express their love with kissing or even making out, yet no intention of leading it to eventually having sex? Thank you.

The generally accepted principle of fiqh (Islamic law and jurisprudence) is that seeking sexual gratification with another person is only allowed in the context of an officially sanctioned relationship (i.e. marriage). From this principle, kissing someone you desire, whether they are of the same sex or the opposite sex, is considered forbidden, since it is in the wrong context.

Therefore if sexual desire and gratification is involved when you kiss someone of the same sex, then that is in the non-permissible zone.

While what you describe may appear harmless, in moral philosophy acts are considered not in isolation, but in the context of such acts becoming commonplace. If everyone started making out with people they desired, saying they did not intend to have sex, what would be the result?

Some unmarried Christians use oral sex as a loophole for enjoying sexual gratification, thinking that this preserves Christian sexual morality. This shows a lack of understanding for sexual morality. Sexual morality exists to channel sexual desires in ways that do not harm the persons involved and the rest of society. If everyone started having oral sex with people they desired, the result is a general laxness of attitudes toward sexual morality. It will seem quite foolish and arbitrary to most people that one form of sexual gratification with another person is allowed but another form is not.

The issue of making out is less dramatic than that of oral sex, but permitting it comes with the same consequences. Christians, again, provide a good case study. While 1000 years ago they were far more insistent on limiting contact between the sexes, the standards were slowly lowered, so that it became commonly accepted for unmarried people to enjoy some sexual gratification with each other, starting with the toleration of intense dances that greatly increased contact to letting unmarried couples spend hours of alone time together. That led to today’s Christian culture, where sex outside of marriage is the norm rather than the exception. Open-minded Christians have difficulty accepting the prohibition on extramarital sex because their religious authorities tolerate some extramarital sexual gratification.

Islam’s solution to this is to prohibit all forms of sexual gratification with another person outside of marriage, even if it is merely holding hands, because once any form of extramarital sexual gratification becomes commonplace, the door is opened for it to be extended slightly. Each generation lowers standards until a point is reached where sex outside of marriage becomes commonplace. This has happened in all Christian countries, and it is slowly happening in the non-devout sections of Muslim countries too.

One may go on to ask what the point of sexual morality is. What is so bad about sex outside of marriage? What is bad is that it reduces society’s fitness, causing it to slowly disintegrate. Look at the world’s civilizations and you will see that wherever sexual freedom is tolerated, that civilization is slowly going extinct due to below-replacement fertility rates. The people have lost their hope in the future and do not consider themselves worthy of having children, or they selfishly prefer their freedom and pleasure over bringing up children, and the result of these trends is that the number of old people dying is greater than the number of children being born every year, so that their society slowly goes extinct and is replaced by other societies that do not tolerate sexual freedom.

One of Islam’s primary goals is the long-term survival of humanity. Islam believes that there is a positive value in the existence and continuation of humanity and its practices are geared toward this goal. Usury, which enables the wealthy to drain the wealth of society, is forbidden, one reason being that it makes it unaffordable for people to have children. Many people in the West are enslaved to hundreds of thousands of dollars of student, car and mortgage debt, having to pay $2000 or more monthly in interest to the super rich, so how can they afford to have children?

Islam forbids all things that are destructive to humanity’s long-term survival; it thinks in terms of generations and centuries, and it forbids short-term gratification if it brings with it long-term harm.

So regarding your specific question of doing those acts with a member of the same sex, Islamic morality forbids it. Since (or if) sexual attraction is involved, then the case is similar to the case of an unmarried man and woman. This is a matter of conscience between you and God. Islam forbids that you eat bacon, even though eating it will not be the end of the world, you avoid it as a matter of respect for God’s laws, even if the thing seems relatively quite harmless. The same applies to drinking a can of beer.

God forbids certain things and requires that we carry out other things, all of which are there to enforce upon us a highly specific way of life. Telling one lie, making out with someone you are not married to, stealing $50 dollars when it seems like it wouldn’t harm anyone, and drinking a can of beer are all forbidden although they may all seem relatively harmless at the time, because all of these go against the enforcement of God’s structure. God wants us to act a certain way for humanity’s long-term good, even if occasionally breaking His laws does not seem to be harmful to anyone. Giving yourself the right to break any of His laws causes a degradation within your soul and makes it easier for you to break another law. For this reason, for your own good, it is best to avoid all things that your conscience is not comfortable with or that seem to go against His laws, no matter how seemingly unimportant.

Why is sexual harassment of women common in Muslim countries? IQ and development, not religion

What I have noticed is that in Muslim countries in which there are more modest woman I get more catcalls, harassment, men following me, staring at my body parts etc. I’m not saying I’m for zina, but it feels unfair that they take out their sexual frustration on us. Maybe you’re not able to relate to this, but every day I feel dirty. Even covered. Imagine people saying filthy stuff about your private parts, touching your etc. In countries where sex is more normal I haven’t encountered this

Sorry to read that, and I hope it gets better for you. I am actually very familiar with this problem, having spent my teenage years in a large Middle Eastern city (Sulaimaniyyah, Iraq).

This appears to be a matter of intelligence and culture and not religion or sexual frustration. In the United States, catcalls and harassment are common in ghettos and trailer parks, where the lower class lives, even though they have as much sex as anyone else and probably more than the middle class.

Lower class people often think catcalls and harassment are fine, this has been my experience with the lower class whether in Iraq or in the United States. By “lower class” I do not mean poor, I mean those who are unintelligent, rude and uneducated and proud of the way they are. They are generally poor and live ghettos and slums, but their being lower class is not due to their poverty, it is due to low IQ and a lack of devotion to any belief system.

In a country like the US the lower class is very well separated from the middle class. The middle class live in certain neighborhoods, the lower class live miles away in a different part of town. In this way the two classes rarely run into each other. The middle class can go shopping, get their errands done, go to work, do everything they want and go home without having to run into the lower class, in this way they can avoid the bad manners of the lower class.

In the Middle East, the classes are not very well separated in general. There are market districts where everyone goes, so that the classes constantly run into each other, and this is why it is hard for someone like you to avoid the type of man you are referring to. As these countries develop, the separation of the middle class and the lower class should increase, and with it the ability to avoid lower class men.

If you want to know whether the problem is Islam or something else, compare the country you are in with a non-Muslim country that has similar average intelligence (IQ) and similar levels of development. Egypt has an average IQ of about 83, similar to the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. I doubt women will fair much better in these two countries compared to Egypt when it comes to harassment.

The people in Egypt (and in the USA) who harass and catcall are not doctors and engineers, they are uneducated. And if you look at the middle class of the USA or Egypt, they are both equally good-mannered in general. I went to one of the top schools of my country in Iraq for high school, where boys and girls were mixed. Since everyone was middle class or upper class, everyone was perfectly good-mannered, not because we had Western-style sexual freedom (we did not), but because we all came from an intelligent and good-mannered section of society.

Instead of Islam being a cause for sexual harassment, it might be acting as a great limiter on it. If these societies abandoned Islam, the problem might get much worse. In the non-Muslim African country of Botswana (70% Christian), in 2010, 92 out of 100,000 women had been raped. In the Muslim African country of Senegal, that rate was 5.6 out of 100,000 women in 2010, 16 times lower. These two countries are not exactly comparable, due to different IQs and levels of development, but this should give people, especially Christian Westerners, pause when they try to blame Islam for the Middle East’s problems. A woman in non-Muslim Botswana is 16 times more likely to get raped than in Muslim Senegal, so it logically follows that Islam might possibly be having a beneficial effect in reducing rape.

I have never met a devout Muslim male who thinks it is acceptable to harass women. One could in fact say that the problem of these Muslim countries is that they have large non-Muslim underclasses, people who are Muslim by name but do not follow it in any manner in their lives (except when it comes to arranging weddings and funerals). A devout Muslim, no matter how sexually frustrated, would never catcall a woman, because they have sufficient self-respect and empathy to know that it is against good manners and civility to do that.

If a practicing Muslim is 100 times less likely to harass women compared to a non-practicing Muslim who knows nearly nothing about Islam and does not follow it, it is only logical to conclude that practicing Islam helps reduce sexual harassment, and that abandoning Islam will almost certainly make the problem much worse. It is the underclass that has abandoned Islam in all but name in the Middle East that is largely responsible for the harassment problem.

What you could possibly do is try to avoid such people, such as by shopping at malls instead of at shopping districts. If you can get a car and stick to the middle class areas of town, then you may run into them less often.

A certain level of intelligence is necessary for a man to have sufficient empathy for women to realize that harassing them is a really nasty thing to do. For this reason in well-developed high IQ countries like Japan (non-Muslim) and Malaysia (Muslim), women are far safer from harassment compared to undeveloped low IQ countries, whether non-Muslim or Muslim, where the men, due to their lack of intellectual capacity and empathy, are more likely to act according to their animal instincts without caring about their social responsibility or the psychological trauma they inflict on women.

Below is a table that lists countries from the highest IQ (Hong Kong) to lowest. You will notice that the highest IQ countries (those on the left) are generally the countries where women enjoy the most respect.

This table does not show the IQ of everyone in each country. It shows the average IQ, meaning the average person you meet will have this IQ, but there will be many people with higher and lower IQs. Countries with higher average IQs will have larger middle class populations, for example in the Netherlands, 50% or more of the population will have “middle class” values and manners. In India, where the average IQ is 81, the percentage of the population that will have middle class values and manners might be 15% of the population. This means that in India it is far more likely to run into men who think harassing women is OK than you would be if you were in the Netherlands.

Malaysia, with its average IQ of 92, is somewhere in the middle. Women will not be as free from harassment as they would be in the Netherlands, but they would fair much better than they would if they were in Egypt or India.

IQ might be the most significant factor, but it is not the only factor that affects these things. Testosterone levels may also play an important role, and perhaps more important than all of these is cultural and religious values. A truly devout Muslim (or Christian) man is not going to harass women even if they have a low IQ and a strong desire to do so, because their religious values will help them override their animal desires.

A Collection of Quotations of Ahmad Moftizadeh

I read this book as part of my reading of all available material on Ahmad Moftizadeh. It is a short book of a little over 100 pages. Below I will mention some of the ideas and quotations I found interesting.

Regarding education, he says that the best way to raise Muslim children is for the parents to be good, spiritual Muslims, meaning that teaching them technical things about Islam is of secondary importance. Sending your child off to Quran school while they are treated with disrespect and abuse at home is not going to turn them into good Muslims. Their main idea about Islam will come from their parents and the rest of the people they see around them who are supposedly Muslim.

O God, if possible, place all the troubles of this world on my shoulders so that no on else may suffer.

The above is an expression of his love for humanity and his willingness to suffer and die for people’s sake. His unconditionally loving attitude toward people was perhaps the greatest reason why he attracted so many devoted followers.

Changing society is secondary and is a consequence of changing individuals. it is individuals that must first be changed.

The purest state of humanity is childhood. The purest human is a child. It is children who most deserve to be served and taken care of.

I am not sold on this idea, because an adult is just a child into whom decades of effort have been poured. When the time comes to decide between allocating resources to children versus adults, who should be given preference? Moftizadeh suggests it is the child, but I don’t see this as a clear choice. Serving an adult so that they can become productive members of society can make it more likely that children will be served.

Taking faith away from people is like taking instincts away from animals.

Meaning that without faith, humans will be as lost as animals would be without their instincts.

The Quran, for a person’s spiritual livelihood is similar to the earth for a person’s material livelihood.

Meaning that the same way that the earth sustains us materially, the Quran sustains us spiritually.

I swear to God, in all honesty and frankness, that true faith in God cannot exist in the heart of someone until that heart loves the poor.

The first pillar of religious activism is the love of the poor.

When a Muslim person’s past is not burdened by sins and disobedience of God, his or her eyes do not become veiled by delusion and knows that God loves him or her.

Meaning that when hardship strikes, a person who is close to God will not think badly of God and think that He dislikes them and enjoys punishing them.

Feeling more spiritual with friends, less spiritual when alone

I could be a very different person with my friends( a good one that i always remind them of islam) but when I am not with them,i am not that way,how do I prevent it

That’s natural. Abu Bakr and another companion (may God be pleased with them) complained to the Prophet ﷺ that they felt very spiritual in his presence, but when they were away from him, they started to feel unspiritual and concerned with the worldly life rather than the afterlife. The Prophet ﷺ said this is the natural state of humans.

What you can do is read beneficial books in your alone time, listen to beneficial lectures, read the Quran and worship. You can also spend your time doing things you enjoy, such as a hobby, since Islam does not require you to spend all of your time in worship.

Once you can avoid sins small and great and are able to perform all of the recommended voluntary prayers, then you have reached the proper state of faith and spirituality, and from there on you can spend some of your time seeking knowledge and the rest of it doing things you enjoy.

Why can’t I pray tahajjud anymore?

I am a high school student, my teacher told me that she wasn’t a good student in her old times,but because she prayed tahajud,her results were magnificent.4 years back, at 3 30 am sharp I would wake up,almost every single day of the year,but now,i would just wake up on a usual daily basis,(6 am) ,what have I gone wrong? I see people that don’t even pray have success in their life,but I don’t want to be that way,what advice could you give,for me to wake up and pray tahajud?

The most important advice I can give you is to sincerely ask God for His help in performing tahajjud.

If over the years your closeness to God has decreased, then you must work on this. Many of the great early Muslims have said that sins cause God to forbid us from doing extra acts of worship, since these acts of worship are an honor that He grants.

Beyond that, your sleep schedule matters. If you try to get up at the wrong time in your sleep cycle, it can be very difficult to get up. Each person’s sleep cycle is different. If getting up four hours after you fall asleep is very difficult, you can try getting up four and a half hours or five hours after you fall asleep, or three and a half hours.

If you are not getting enough sleep, then it can be very difficult to interrupt your sleep to get up to pray. Try to get eight hours of sleep, for example by getting up four hours after sleeping, praying for 30 minutes or however long, then sleeping another four hours. Another way is to nap 7-8 hours after waking up in the morning (in the midday) so that the amount of total sleep you get in 24 hours is close to 8 hours (perhaps 7.5 hours at night and 30 minutes in the afternoon).

And if none of this works, you can pray tahajjud before going to bed, which is what I do, since interrupting my sleep makes it extremely difficult for me to work the next day (I do programming work, which is mentally demanding).

 

“How to avoid sexual desires?”

How to avoid sexual desires? (i’m a girl)

We all have sexual desires and there is no way to completely stop them. There is nothing wrong with sexual desire as long as it does not cause you to sin. If your sexual desire is difficult to manage, you can weaken it with fasting or dieting. You can also google “how to reduce libido” to find more suggestions.

From an Islamic perspective, the closer you are to God, the easier it is to avoid sins and obey Him. For advice on making it easier to avoid sins, please see my answers Islamic Strategies for Escaping a Sinful Life and God has not abandoned you.

“He made me fall in love with his words, I crossed my line for him…”

He made me fall in love with his words, I crossed my line for him. I was a good girl, i prayed 5 times a day and i sinned. When I couldn’t do more he left. I feel so heavy, my heart aches so much and i see no forgiveness for me. I left my Lord for someone i loved and now i feel nothing but grief.

Your sin is not greater than God, and the greatest sin of all would be to lose hope in His mercy and forgiveness and to delay repentance thinking that He is incapable of forgiving you. Go back to God, knowing that there is no safety except by His side, and even if you sin a thousand times, know that He is always ready to forgive, if you sincerely seek His forgiveness and work to improve yourself.

“I am tired of fighting and tired of trying…”

how could life fight me so hard while i didn’t do anything to deserve this hurt ,, I am tired of fighting and tired of trying, i don’t need this life I don’t want it, i can’t hold on, life is not for me i think i came here wrong i don’t belong here i don’t know where i even belong but it’s not here,, you should give it to someone else a dying baby whose parents are crying for his life or maybe a dying old father who has children crying for another day with him,, u should give it to them not me

Life’s difficulties are training for what comes afterwards, in a year or two. No difficulty lasts forever. Instead of succumbing to your difficulty and listening to Satan’s whispers when he tells you your life is purposeless and meaningless, patiently wait until God changes things for you.

If you lose hope in God in times of extreme difficulty, it means you will also lose your dedication to Him in times of ease. There is no such thing as a true friend of God who is close to Him and worships Him when things are going easy and who then turns his back on Him when hardship befalls them.

God teaches us to think the best of Him at all times. Satan  tells us to think the worst of Him, to lose hope in His mercy and question His wisdom. Which voice do you choose to listen to?

When you can, follow the steps I describe in my answer God has not abandoned you.

If you cannot find the motivation to do anything to get closer to God, trust in His saying “with hardship comes ease” and do your best to survive until things change.

“Is it bismillaah ar rahman ar raheem or bismilaa hir rahman nir raheem?”

Can you please tell me what is the correct way to recite surah fatihah? Is it bismillaah ar rahman ar raheem or bismilaa hir rahman nir raheem?

The Arabic letters say “bism Allah al-rahman al-raheem”, but when you read in Arabic, you say bismillahir rahmanir raheem. The way you pronounce certain words changes based on the context, so the reading is usually slightly different from what it appears to someone who doesn’t know Arabic very well.

To learn the correct way to recite Surat al-Fatihah, just listen to its recitation many times until you memorize it. Here is my favorite recitation of the surah.

“This world has always been so cruel to me…”

This world has always been so cruel to me. I have given up on life. Now, I’m planning to leave my home and live my rest of the life in orphanage/Housing home. So that my parents/siblings won’t get upset by seeing me in such state all the time. Is this step right islamically?

Sorry to read that. I cannot give you any specific advice without knowing more about your age and situation, but what you are suggesting (of leaving home) sounds like almost certainly the wrong thing to do. If you do not like your present situation, think of the possible solutions then consult with your family and relatives and maybe a solution will be found. Since your decision affects your family, this is not something you can decide all by yourself.

How and From Where Do We Begin? By Ahmad Moftizadeh

Chon u La Kwewa Dast Pe Bkain (“How and From Where Do We Begin?”) is a 170-page Kurdish book based on interviews with Ahmad Moftizadeh done after he was released from prison (and soon before his death) and perhaps some of his writings.

It provides an overview of his thinking processes regarding various matters, especially the proper form of conduct for those who want to emulate his way. The information is often scattered and no formal approach program or vision is presented. Moftizadeh’s approach has generally been like the Prophet’s ﷺ, offering guidance as situations presented themselves, rather than sitting down to build systems for people to follow.

On the question of political work, he offers some guidance on the issues that his own movement had, without doing a formal analysis, and saying that different people at different times and places can reach their own conclusions regarding the best modes of action when doing Islamic political work. He strongly criticizes the political partisanship practiced by so many Islamist groups. In his view (and mine, too) matters of the heart take precedence, so that a Muslim who uses partisan thinking to attack another Muslim has automatically lost the way of wisdom. He also mentions that a key source of corruption within Islamic movements is when individuals seek power within the movement.

My key discovery regarding political Islam has been that Islamic movements must never seek power. His ideas are close to this, and his movement (Maktab Quran) does not seek power, but he does not clearly state it. In his thinking, it is apparent that he hasn’t arrived at this conclusion, thinking that at certain times and places, once a certain stage of growth has been reached, groups of Muslim can engage in political partying and do more good than harm.

He mentions that one of the biggest proofs the truth of Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood ﷺ is that his wife believed in him immediately. A wife knows her husband of many years better than most people. She knows his weaknesses and flaws. If she had known him to be untrustworthy, or known him to have significant flaws, she wouldn’t have supported him in bringing about a new ideology that totally opposed her culture.

And after her, his closest friends also believed in him quickly, even though he didn’t have any proof to offer them except a few verses of the Quran. Again, this shows the immense amount of trust these people had in him.

Sayyid Qutb

He is asked about his opinion on certain luminaries of the 20th century Islamic revival, such as Maududi and Qutb, and is asked why he does not refer to them often, and is asked whether he somehow disapproves of them or dislikes them like some people have suggested.

He says that loves Qutb’s message and considers him far greater than himself, and mentions a few lines of poetry he had written in which the word “Qutb” is used both metaphorically and as a reference to Sayyid Qutb.

He says that he does not have a very good memory for crediting ideas and sayings to their authors, so that he uses what he has learned from these men without saying it is from them. He also says that due to his business with social and political work throughout his active (pre-prison) life, that he did not have time to read too much, often taking ideas from other people.

Tazkiyah

A large part of the book is dedicated to clarifying the concept of tazkiyah (which could be translated as “spiritual cultivation”), which in Moftizadeh’s view takes precedence over instruction. Instruction is merely the the transfer of information from a person to another, while in Moftizadeh’s view, Islamic education should focus on tazkiyah, imparting on people a subconscious appreciation for Islamic manners and ways of thinking. Instruction is the transfer of information, tazkiyah is the transfer of character, and far more important.

He does his best to clarify what he has in mind regarding the difference between tazkiyah and mere instruction, using the example of Prophet Muhammad. To perform tazkiyah is to provide for people the subtle guidance and encouragement for them to become spiritually uplifted. To merely instruct people, the way it is done in various Islamic education systems, without focusing on imparting character, is going to do little good and has little affinity to the Prophet’s method of instruction.

Discrediting the madrasa

A large part of Moftizadeh’s thinking regarding Islamic education is to discredit the classical system that taught various technical topics without giving a thought to the cultivation of character, creating insincere clerics who did their Islamic work as a job without their hearts and souls being in it, and causing people to consider Islam something irrelevant to their daily lives, similar to government.

He is also equally critical of Sufis who cut themselves off from society and allowed Islam’s highly dynamic, highly activist message to be lost.

Moftizadeh and I agree on considering Islam an activist movement rather than just a religion, and I think he would agree with this principle of mine:

No Muslim’s faith is complete if he or she is not an anti-poverty activist.

To me any Muslim leader who is not seriously worrying about and planning against poverty is either a hypocrite or a highly ignorant person, and in both cases is not worth following (he may, of course, have useful technical knowledge.)

Love and dawa

One of Moftizadeh’s key teachings is that a crucial part of spiritually uplifting others (whether those others are religious or not) is to treat everyone with kindness (mehrabani) and love, and to joke with people and talk to them in a way that reaches them (one would call it “building rapport” today).

Talking about “reaching people” is quickly misinterpreted by many (Muslims and non-Muslims) as a way for advocating for clever manipulation tactics for converting people to Islam.

There are two types of dawa (“inviting people to Islam”). One of them spends time and money on increasing the number of Muslims, and creates semi-missionaries who encourage people to embrace Islam using various tactics. The other type of dawa is to embody Islam, to live the Quran.

To me religion is a very personal thing, and any effort to connect with the hearts of other people with an aim in mind (to make them Muslim) is automatically dishonest.

To me, and more or less to Sayyid Qutb, Moftizadeh, and Tariq Ramadan , our mission is to love and to be kind, to do good in this world, to help people find a better way when they are stuck one way or another, without ever having the goal of turning them into one thing or another, treating their dignity and privacy with the utmost respect.

Religion and spirituality is a very personal matter, and it is highly disrespectful (not to mention awkward, and futile) to barge into people’s lives and try to convert them.

Proper dawa is goal-less. You do not make someone your “project” and try to finish this project by converting them. You, instead, treat everyone with love, kindness and empathy, while also embodying the rest of Islam in your daily life. Our interactions with non-Muslims must never be on the basis of hopefully one day converting them to Islam, this always leads to short-term minded, power-seeking behavior. Any kindness and empathy we show them must be given freely, selflessly, without expecting anything in return, and this means without expecting any return of the favor, or any added friendliness from them toward us and our religion.

We practice Islam and in this way show people what it is. They can take it or leave it.

I also feel that any money spent on converting non-Muslims to Islam is far better spent on eliminating poverty and educating those who are already Muslim, and especially new converts. In my view anyone who converts to Islam should automatically be given a monthly zakat stipend by their local mosque (if they are not wealthy), to make them feel like they belong to a community that cares about their well-being.

 

Masturbation is not clearly forbidden or allowed in Islam

The generally accepted principle of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) is that when it comes to enjoying sexual pleasure, everything is forbidden unless it is explicitly allowed. The Quran’s general teaching on sexuality is that Muslims should “guard their privates” except when taking pleasure in the context of a religiously sanctioned intimate relationship.

A strict interpretation of this verse is that all sexual pleasure is forbidden unless it is had with a spouse. A non-strict interpretation is that all sexual intercourse is forbidden unless it is had with a spouse, which means that masturbation is not included in the prohibition.

The Quran never mentions masturbation, so we cannot use it to reach a final judgment. As for hadith, there isn’t a single authentic narration that mentions masturbation (as stated by fatwa number 35889 from IslamWeb.net), therefore hadith cannot help us either in reaching a definitive judgment.

Ambr bin Dinar, one of the Tabieen (belonging to the generations that came soon after the Companions) and a hadith and fiqh scholar says, “I see no issue with masturbation.”1 Jabir bin Zaid, known by the nickname Abul Shaathaa, student of the companion Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) also says he sees no problem with it2. Ibn Abbas says that marriage is better than masturbation, and masturbation is better than fornication.3. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh, says there is no issue with it.4

The most famous scholar to permit masturbation was Imam al-Shawkani (died 1839), a widely respected reformer and revivalist. While he ruled that masturbation is permitted in Islam without conditions (other scholars have said that there are conditions needed to make it permissible, but al-Shawkani says no conditions are needed), he says:

There is no doubt that engaging in this act is a flaw (in one’s character), a show of a lack of self-respect, and a show of abasement in manners and a lack of willpower.

So he criticizes the act, but says there isn’t sufficient evidence to forbid it.

In the modern world, the Moroccan scholar Abdel-Bari Zamzami (died 2016) allowed masturbation for men and women, saying that since it helps one avoid illicit sexual acts, and since there is no clear evidence that it is forbidden, permitting it is more beneficial than forbidding it.

The Maliki and Shafii schools say that masturbation is forbidden.

Making sense of the situation

What scholars have often done is try to take the vagueness out of the scripture by enforcing their own interpretations, either saying masturbation is a sin (some of them say it is a major sin and the person who does it is somehow cursed), or saying that there is nothing wrong with it, such as Imam al-Shawkani who permitted it. Both of these approaches ignore an important teaching of the Prophet ﷺ in dealing with vagueness in religious matters, expressed in the two following authentic narrations:

“What God makes permissible in His book (the Quran), then that is permissible, and what He makes prohibited, that is prohibited, and what He is silent about, that is out of His mercy, so accept His mercy, for God does not forget anything.”

“God has made certain things obligatory, so do not neglect those, and He has set certain bounds, so do not overstep those bounds, and He has remained silent on certain matters out of His mercy on you, not out of forgetfulness, so do not seek out those matters (i.e. do not make a big deal of them).”

When it comes to masturbation, the Quran and the Sunnah do not explicitly prohibit it, and they do not explicitly allow it, leaving it in a gray area.

To a pious person who is eager to please God, the meaning of these things is clear:

  1. It is not important enough to be explicitly forbidden or allowed by God and His Prophet ﷺ.
  2. Every Muslim’s aim should be to avoid it if they can, since true love and fear of God means that a person should avoid everything that has even the slightest possibility of displeasing Him.
  3. If someone is overwhelmed by desire into doing it, or cannot control their impulses so that they habitually do it, they should not obsess about, they should repent and go on with their lives, knowing that what they have done is a small lapse in manners, rather than a crime.

Masturbation, teenagers and scholarly humility

Teenagers, especially teenage boys, have heightened sexual desire, while also having poor impulse control, since the brain’s prefrontal cortext does not finish developing until after the age of 25. These two factors (increased sexual desire, low ability to control urges) can make it very difficult for them to avoid masturbation.

Making teenagers feel bad about masturbation is a short-sighted and destructive thing that many preachers misguidedly do, decreasing these teenagers’ religious self-esteem and making them feel as if they will never be good Muslims, since they are supposedly committing a great sin and cannot stop themselves.

The result is that these teenagers start to think of Islam as an outdated and cruel religion that is asking them to do the impossible.

The balanced approach is to tell teenagers that it is best if they avoid it since it is in a gray area, while also telling them that it is not clearly forbidden, therefore if they cannot help themselves and end up doing it, they should not obsess about it, but repent and go on with their lives.

Rather than making baseless statements about masturbation, saying it is allowed or saying it is forbidden, we must acknowledge the vagueness of the Islamic texts on this issue, while also respecting the wisdom of the scholars in their dislike for it.

 

Conclusion

Different stages of growth and different life circumstances affect a person’s desire for masturbation. Depression, loneliness and a lack of social interaction, for example, makes it more likely that a person will want to masturbate, and not just among humans. I have seen many articles mention that monkeys in captivity masturbate, but those who live in the wild do not.

Most of our scholars consider masturbation an undignified act that a self-respecting person would not do. While they are right about this when it comes to themselves, they should have empathy for younger people living in very different circumstances and subject to far stronger sexual desires and a lower ability to control their impulses due to the fact that their brain development is not complete. Instead of asking the impossible of young people, of having perfect control over their desires like the scholars themselves, they should treat them with kindness and forgiveness, telling them that there is a consensus among Muslims that masturbation is not a dignified thing to do, but that Islam does not clearly forbid it, and that as people age, it becomes easier to avoid it.

Niqab is not more “Islamic” than hijab, and why I do not recommend it

As Muslims, the program we follow is the Quran. Its priorities are our priorities. Those priorities are to be kind, generous, understanding, forgiving, to work to make this world a better place as God’s stewards (agents, khalaa’if in Arabic) on the earth.

Veiling your face is not one of the Quran’s priorities, it is not even mentioned in it, and it should be considered in the light of the Quran’s priorities. Does veiling your face help you more effectively embody the Quran and carry out its program?

The root of the question is the matter of the Quran versus hadith. The Salafi view, which is a minority view that has billions of dollars of Saudi funding behind it, says that what the early Muslims did, we too must do. If their women wore niqab, then our women must do it too, since they were “the best generation” of Muslims and the represent the ideal all Muslims most follow.

The alternative view, which is the mainstream view followed by hundreds of millions of Muslims, is to follow fiqh al-awlawiyyaat (the law of priorities), giving importance to things the Quran considers important, and not obsessing with things the Quran does not consider important.

While Salafi Muslims are often obsessed with things never even hinted at in the Quran, mainstream Muslims read the Quran and try to apply its message in the modern world.

These differences lead to two different types of Islam. Salafi Islam thinks niqab and various other things about dress code are important parts of Islam, because it refuses to distinguish between the Quran and other texts. It treats all of Islam’s early history as a binding program that must be followed, thinking that the best Islam is one that creates an accurate reenactment of 630 CE.

The mainstream view rejects this, saying we follow the Quran, we do not follow Islamic history as if it is a program in itself. If the Quran and the most authentic narrations (those known as mutawatir) do not command that women should wear niqab, then it is not a necessary part of Islam, it is a cultural practice of early Muslims that we are free to adopt or ignore as it fits our modern context.

Since I belong to the Quran-focused camp (rather than the Salafi camp), to me niqab isn’t just unimportant, it must be judged within the context of the Quran’s priorities, and if it is found that wearing niqab goes against those priorities, it is more advisable to avoid it rather than wear it.

For Muslims living in the West and various other areas, wearing niqab will nearly always get in the way of applying the Quranic program more than it helps one follow it. Muslims are meant to belong to the societies in which they live, reforming it, working as activists to eradicate poverty and injustice, to create alliances with good people around them, Muslim and non-Muslim, in order to improve the world (please see Tariq Ramadan’s Western Muslims and the Future of Islam for detailed explanation of what I mean by these priorities.)

The Salafi view, exemplified in the fatwas of Salafi leaders like Ibn Baaz, is that a woman is a walking “bag of fitnah” that has to be cut off from society for her own good and the good of everyone else. Mainstream Islam considers this view inhumane and disrespectful toward a woman’s dignity, respecting her right to be an active member of society.

Wearing niqab will act as a barrier that turns people away from Islam on the one hand, while also reducing a woman’s ability to interact and connect with those around her. I respect a woman’s right to wear what she wants, but if you ask my opinion on it, then niqab is not something I recommend, I consider its potential harms to be greater than its potential benefits. This is, of course, something that every person should decide for themselves. But those who say that niqab is a “duty” or that it is “recommended” are voicing a minority view that is rejected by the majority of Muslims. Niqab is neither a duty nor is it recommended, it is a tool whose benefits and harms should be judged according to one’s culture and local context.

If a woman sees that it is more beneficial for her to wear it in her particular time and place, then she can do it. And if other women elsewhere decide not to wear it, like the majority of Muslim women have decided, then that’s their choice, and no one has the right to say that their faith is not complete or that they should “aim higher”, having the goal to one day wear niqab. There is nothing “higher” about niqab, it is a tool for separating women from society. If a woman prefers to separate herself in this way, then that is her choice, but this is not something the majority of Muslim women would choose.

The Salafi view is that niqab is more “Islamic” because there is evidence that some early Muslims wore it. The Quran-focused view is that niqab is not more “Islamic”, because it has little relation to the Quranic program. It is considered a tool that may or may not be beneficial depending on the time and place. The Salafi view is that Islam is about reenacting history. The Quran-focused view is that Islam is about following the Quran’s priorities.

Instead of thinking of niqab as a duty, it must be thought of rationally. As a woman, does it help you carry out your function (of being God’s agent for good on Earth) more effectively or less effectively? Which is more beneficial for you, separating yourself from society (and wearing something that many people find disconcerting), or engaging with society? Is it beneficial for your psychological health to feel separated from and potentially disliked by the people you interact with daily?

This way of thinking of niqab does not apply to hijab, since hijab is commanded by the Quran (although the Quran’s view on hijab is more moderate than the views of many Muslims, since the Quran recognizes that different cultures may choose to show less or more than others).

Niqab can help a person in avoiding unwanted male attention, and the separation it causes is beneficial toward applying the Quran’s teachings regarding modesty and lowering the gaze. But these benefits must be weighed against the potential harms it does.

There is nothing wrong with a woman veiling her face at a certain occasion, the way Victorian women used to, if she decides that she is more comfortable that way and expects benefits from it. This is the proper way to think of wearing niqab, not as a duty to be practiced no matter what, but as a tool that can be used if and when necessary.

The highly respected mainstream scholar Yusuf al-Qaradhawi has done a detailed study of the Islamic rulings regarding niqab, published as al-Niqab Baina Fardiyyatihi wa Bid`iyyatihi, and his conclusion is that niqab is neither a duty, nor is it a bid`ah (false innovation) to be condemned, it is rather a tool, an item of clothing, that can be beneficial to wear at times and harmful at others.

Conflicts of Fitness: Islam, America, and Evolutionary Psychology

Get it on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook or paperback.

Conflicts of Fitness: Islam, America, and Evolutionary Psychology by A.S. Amin is a highly original examination of the dynamics of gender and sexuality within Western societies on the one hand, and within Islamic societies on the other.

As someone who has been working on reconciling Islam and evolutionary theory and on developing a post-feminist theory of human sexual dynamics, I hardly expect most books to tell me anything I haven’t already heard or thought about, but this book manages it. It is a short and enjoyable read that sticks to the facts and does not try to force an interpretation on them, which will make it agreeable to people coming from differing backgrounds and ideological currents.

The author’s main thesis is that different societies have different reproductive climates designed to maximize reproductive success. In a short-term climate, like that of most of the United States, human evolutionary instincts drive men to do their best to have sex with as many women as possible while not caring very much about a woman’s virginity and past sexual experiences. As for women, the climate drives them to display sexual receptivity through makeup, dress and manners designed to encourage men to think of them in sexual terms.

On the other hand, in a very-long-term climate like Saudi Arabia, men maximize reproductive success not by trying to have as many short-term relationships as possible, but by maximizing paternity confidence. Saudi Arabian seek virginal women so that they can be assured their children are theirs, and they go to extremes to ensure this; marrying very young women and preventing women from leaving the house, getting an education or a career.

This way of looking at the problem of women’s status in extremely conservative Muslim societies is a breath of fresh air from all of the moralistic, emotional and melodramatic treatments the subject has so far received on the hands of ideologically-driven intellectuals and commentators. It is also good to find another Muslim who can think of these matters in scientific and largely apolitical terms. Almost all Muslim-written materials on gender and sexuality is stuffed with moralistic thinking. Either they are traditionalists and try to “fight off” the West, or they are modernists and embrace unscientific moralistic frameworks like modern gender philosophy, exchanging one highly biased framework for another, abandoning one that unfairly favors males and embracing one that unfairly favors females, and thinking they have gained something out of this.

Get it on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook or paperback.

The topic of this book is close to my heart, as it has been a focus of my research for close to a decade, having recently published a book on it, Sex and Purpose. There are significant differences between our works. Amin’s book aims to be a scientific analysis that examines the problem without offering solutions. Mine is a highly opinionated work that takes evolutionary psychology for granted without bothering to offer citations, and a large focus of the book is offering a solution that bypasses modern feminist/post-modern thinking.

And while Amin’s book delves into a deep examination of Islam and gender politics, mine does not at all, since my book is not meant to have anything to do with religion directly.

A reader of Conflicts of Fitness or Sex and Purpose may wonder how a Muslim can write from an evolutionary perspective when Muslims do not generally accept the theory of evolution. Amin does not offer an explanation for this, focusing on his research topic without delving into this issue, leaving it to the readers to work it out. In my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis I explain how the Quran is compatible not only with evolution, but with abiogenesis as well.

Explaining Islam’s policy toward polygamy

Before reading this book, I had often thought of polygyny as a privilege granted men in order to deal with certain exceptional circumstances (such as having an infertile wife). Conflicts of Fitness explains that there is more to it than this, and that women, rather than men, are potentially the primary beneficiaries of polygyny:

  • If you have ten men and ten women, by allowing the most successful man to marry the two women, nine men are left to compete for the remaining eight women. These men will be forced to offer stronger commitment to these women in order to secure their hands in marriage, in this way creating a society where most relationships are highly committed.
  • Successful middle-aged men often strongly desire to use their wealth and success to build new families and have more children. In a monogamous society, such men are forced to divorce their current wives, or worse, cheat on them. In an Islamic society, a safe outlet is provided for these men, enabling them to keep their current wives (who, if divorced, would most likely be unable to marry again due to their old age), while also enabling them to create new families. While this is not ideal for the current wives, most would prefer it over being divorced. This also increases the options of younger women, since married men would compete for their hands in marriage. Polygyny is not a zero-sum game for women, and the overall benefits to women is almost certainly greater than the harm it does.

Most Western women and men empathize with the underdog when thinking of hypothetical situations, therefore they are unlikely to accept the above explanation, since they empathize with the poor woman who will suffer having to share her husband with another woman. The fact that she chooses this over divorce is not given attention since it goes against the “Islam is misogynistic” narrative.

For a Muslim who already believes in the Quran, the explanation is a good vindication of the policy, and it should help restrain scholars overeager to place strict restrictions on polygyny. In a society where marriage is by consent and where people are free to divorce whenever they want, polygyny will be self-balancing. Men will have to balance the fear of losing their present wife with their desire for a second one, meaning that the majority of men will be unlikely to abuse this right. My experience of Kurdish and Persian society proves this correct.

Explaining makeup

In a short-term reproductive climate, women signal their receptivity to short-term-style sexual relationships in various ways, one of which is makeup. One thing that makeup does is simulate the effects of sexual arousal:

It turns out that when a woman becomes sexually aroused, certain physiologic changes take place. Among these changes are dilation of the pupils and the blood vessels in the cheeks and lips.

The author refers to this facet of makeup-as-a-signal-of-sexual-receptivity in many places in the book. However, while this is highly informative, it is not the complete picture. In Sex and Purpose I provide the other part of the picture, I explain that makeup serves as an important axis for enabling women to get ahead of themselves and other women. Makeup enables a woman to enhance her apparent quality as a worthy mate by making herself look younger and healthier. In a long-term or somewhat-long-term climate, makeup helps a woman appear as a better substance compared to her competitors. This, however, runs the danger of sending the wrong signal, of appearing to be receptive to sexual advances, for this reason in a long-term climate, a woman has to walk a fine line between enhancing her looks (which helps her get the interest of more suitors wanting to marry her) and signalling sexual receptivity (which garners the attention of the wrong audience).

While Conflicts of Fitness entirely focuses on the short-term aspect of makeup, Sex and Purpose entirely focuses on its long-term aspect. In this way neither book’s theory is complete, and together they provide what is closer to a full picture.

Along these same lines, I have always told women that I prefer makeup I cannot see, since I have always had a long-term, “Victorian” mindset toward women. I like women to look beautiful, and makeup can help toward this. But I also think of women as long-term lovers and despise short-term sexual relationships (since they are anti-civilization as I will explain below), therefore if I see a glaring amount of makeup on a woman’s face, what I see is what Amin describes, that she is signalling short-term sexual receptivity, which is not something I find attractive in a woman.

Therefore to me, the ideal woman will care about her looks and will be able to enhance them, but without appearing to have done so. If she wears lipstick, it will be a color and texture that makes her lips look young and healthy without making any obvious modification to it.

Some Muslim women, confused by various differing influences, wear hijab on the one hand, while also wearing very heavy makeup on the other. This is such a glaring contradiction that it makes my eyes hurt. Her dress signals the fact that she is not sexually receptive, while her makeup is designed to signal sexual receptivity. It is, at its root, a very good indicator of the identity crisis that so many Muslims suffer from.

Of course, a woman is free what she wears and what she puts on her face. And people are free to respond to seeing her according to what their instincts tell them. You cannot send a signal on the one hand, and enforce a specific interpretation of that signal on people on the other hand. From an evolutionary perspective, heavy makeup signals sexual receptivity (that the woman is approachable). From a radical feminist perspective, this fact does not matter, what matters is whatever is going on inside the woman’s head. Not only does she have the right to wear whatever she wants, she also has the right to dictate how people interpret what she is wearing. She can expose most of her breasts while berating any man who dares to look at them. She can wear heavy makeup and complain if people, following their evolutionary instincts, interpret her makeup as meaning anything.

A large part of Sex and Purpose is dedicated to discrediting these and various other forms of irrationalist thinking present in radical feminist ideology. If a feminist is free in the interpretation she gives to people’s behaviors (which is a right that is always 100% reserved by feminists), then if equality is to be achieved, people, too, should be free in the interpretations they give to her behaviors.

If a man acts a certain way, feminists reserve the right to judge him for his behavior. Yet if she acts a certain way and a man reserves the right to judge her for her behavior, she considers this misogynistic. It is for this reason that many have called radical feminist ideology female solipsism, it is the belief that the female mind (or more likely, the feminist mind) is all that can issue valid judgments about reality, it is a woman’s nannying instinct taken to its most horrible extreme; mother always knows best, and every man is just a foolish little boy (and a potential rapist) to be told what to think and do for his own good.

The generational gap in reproductive strategies

The author mentions that an important reason for the strife that so often exists between teenage girls and their parents regarding dress and makeup is a generational gap in reproductive strategies. The parents grew up in a climate that was more long-term oriented than the present climate, and they want to enforce the mores of their outdated climate on their children, not realizing that the climate has changed, and that by preventing their daughter from dressing more skimpily or wearing more makeup or dating more freely, they are causing her to fall behind her peers.

Immigrants, especially Muslims, bringing up children in the West suffer a similar conflict. What should be done to handle this problem? The author does not say.

The fact that a highly leftist-oriented and activist mainstream media continuously pushes society toward a shorter-term reproductive climate, consequences be what they may, is not mentioned.

Should Muslims submit to the new climate, admitting that laxer standards are needed for their children, or should they fight off the West and try to keep isolated?

My creed, Quran-focused Islam, inspired by Sayyid Qutb and Ahmad Moftizadeh, offers the way to the solution. Islam should always be an application of the Quran over the modern world. Muslims living in the West, instead of trying to recreate their own mini-Arabia in Nashville, should go back to the Quran daily and ask its opinion on how they should live. This constant “going back to the Quran” leads to an Islam that can embrace or reject cultural practices as needed, responding to the environment and updating itself daily. Unlike Salafism, which tries to apply all Islamic texts to the modern world (trying to create the mini-Arabia mentioned), Quran-focused Islam only tries to apply the Quran, which is a highly simple and “lean” program, using the rest of the texts as helpers toward the Quran, rather than as goals in themselves.

This seemingly simple change in mindset changes everything, enabling Muslims to create a “Western” Islam that is truly and authentically Western. A Muslim Westerner, guided by the Quran, works daily to implement its priorities while remaining fully a citizen of the West, avoiding its evils and embracing its good (which, of course, is easier said than done).

The Muslim Westerner’s mindset toward the West’s short-term reproductive climate is not reactionary, the way the Salafi reaction always is, it is instead  constructive. It does not seek to reject, it seeks to use it to build something new. Muslim men and women, following the Quranic program, live and marry and construct their own Western society that proudly rejects everything it considers inferior and happily embraces everything it considers beneficial. Instead of trying to live in an “intellectual ghetto”, as Tariq Ramadan calls it, they live in the center of the Western intellectual tradition, reforming it, critiquing its weaknesses, calling for betterment, and freely defining new ways of life, exactly the way the intellectual elite throughout the ages have always done, defining new ways of life for themselves often at odds with the wider society.

Parents, instead of trying to restrict their “out of control” daughters, share the program with their daughters, and let the daughters themselves be evangelists of the program. I have seen this phenomenon in many Quran-focused families around me. Unlike in Saudi, where a daughter has to be held in a physical and intellectual cage for her own good, in such families the daughter is given the program and is expected to love it and follow it of her own free will. She becomes an activist social critic, rather than fearful and victim-minded minority.

Teenagers are by nature selfish and short-term minded (I used to be one myself), therefore parental management is still necessary. If Muslim adults don’t attend Western-style parties, neither should their children. The topic of bringing up children in a discordant climate would require its own book, and it is not something I have focused on so far. Perhaps this would the subject of some future work of mine.

Approaching Muslim women

I have seen some Western non-Muslim men wonder how you go about approaching a Muslim woman (i.e. “hitting on her” to see if she is interested in a relationship), since the way they dress often signals unapprochability. The answer is that you don’t approach Muslim women (at least not the vast majority). The author gives an evolutionary explanation for this. Muslim women seek long-term partners, which requires deep knowledge of the man before any contact is made. It is for this reason that parents, relatives and friends are often heavily involved in planning and executing marriages.

Approaching a Muslim woman, telling her she is beautiful and that you find her really interesting will most likely upset and offend her, since you are offering her exactly what she does not want; a relationship based on a short-term sexual attraction, and because being seen talking to a random man can harm her reputation.

Westerners, and some liberal Muslims, think these facts show that Muslims are out of touch or backward, and that they must be “better-educated”, “liberated”, “integrated”, “assimilated” and a whole lot of other euphemisms referring to the belief that Muslims should stop being Muslims and act more like non-Muslims for their own good.

The Quran requires that Muslims implement long-term reproductive strategies in their lives, meaning that for Muslims to remain Muslims, short-term reproductive behaviors can never be normalized. A Muslim woman who has a PhD and is attending a conference is not going to respond positively to some non-Muslim man’s pick-up line no matter how well-educated and liberated she is, if she is a devout Muslim. This is because in effect the man is calling her to abandon her chosen way of life. For her, sexual relationships are long-term matters that require the critique and approval of her family, relatives and friends, since Islam teaches her to think of herself as a member of a community, and to respect the opinions of her relatives and the authority of her parents.

If a man is interested in her, instead of approaching her directly, he does it in a manner that shows his respect for the Muslim community and her family, and that shows his long-term interest in her, by having a friend or relative approach a friend or relative of hers.

Of course, this is not always an option, sometimes a direct approach is the only one possible, for example for a Muslim man and woman studying at the same college but knowing nothing else about one another, and having no one to mediate for them. This is one of the many scenarios that shows the superiority of Quran-focused Islam, since it teaches that instead of trying to implement traditions as if they are binding commandments, it teaches them to follow the Quranic principles (which say very little about courtship), leaving it to the man and woman’s conscience to intelligently follow it.

Islam, women, careers and divorce

The book analyzes the significant relationship between reproductive climates and attitudes toward women having careers. In a short-term climate, men cannot be relied on as providers, since they are interested in independence and short-term sexual relationships. In a long-term climate, men can be relied on, since men have no option but to be providers, in order to be able to attract the love interest of females.

This means that in a short-term climate, a career can be essential to a woman’s survival, while in a long-term climate, it can be largely irrelevant. Western women may look down on or feel sorry for Muslim women for not having careers, while Muslim women may look down on or feel sorry for Western women for being forced to have careers in order to survive.

Men who like to follow a short-term sexual strategy (having sex with widely available women) will promote women’s “liberation” and will hate the idea of women being “locked away” within their families, inaccessible to them. For such men, it can be extremely frustrating to live in a society that limits the availability of women, and they will do everything in their power to bring about change, to “free” these women, to discredit the “backward” patriarchs, to get these women out of society’s protection and into their own hands.

This conflict between different sections of Muslim societies is analysed in detail, and it proves informative in explaining the conflicts existing in these societies between modernists and traditionalists.

In his analysis of Islamic thought as it applies to the topic, the author’s methods and ways of thought are close to mine, which was a pleasant surprise. He refers to some of my favorite scholars while also maintaining a critical eye toward their opinions. He makes many references to the UCLA professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, someone largely unknown to me until reading this book, an unknown treasure whose books I now plan to read.

Reviewing many of the Qur’ānic verses used to justify women’s restricted access to divorce, he concludes that the full implications of these verses have not been fully considered and intimates his opinion that Islam gives women the same access to divorce as it does to men. However, Abou El Fadl seems somewhat troubled that his opinion is in disagreement with the majority of Muslim jurists throughout Islamic history. The question becomes, is the majority opinion the result of the unequivocal evidence found in the sources of Islamic law, or a manifestation of the reproductive climates in which those opinions were formulated?

For me, as someone belonging to the Quran-focused school, the matter of divorce rights for women is a long-solved problem. A woman should have full rights to divorce, because ethically, this is almost certainly crucial for ensuring the fairness of the marriage system. A man is given a degree of authority over his wife in his household. To ensure that this authority does not lead to abuse and tyranny, a woman must always retain the right to leave. Preventing her from leaving is going to greatly reduce her bargaining power in the relationship.

I also support the opinions of the Salafi scholars al-Albani and Ibn Baaz in requiring a formal procedure for a man to divorce his wife, requiring him to stay with her for one menstrual cycle without having sex before the divorce is considered official. I believe that allowing a man to perform a permanent triple divorce by uttering a sentence is a highly damaging and anti-social and defeats the purposes of Islamic law.

The desire to make it difficult for a woman to leave a marriage is an instance of the same patronizing and nanny-ing behavior that scholars show in wanting to make it difficult for Muslims to leave Islam, and both policies are equally counterproductive in my opinion.

If jurists say that letting a woman leave will cause all kinds of social ills, instead of taking their hypothesis for granted, we must question it and ask them for statistical evidence. Are there devout Muslim societies where women can easily get a divorce? Are such societies more likely to accomplish the aims of Islamic law in spreading justice and preventing tyranny, or more likely to accomplish the opposite?

Instead of blindly following tradition, the Quran-focused school teaches that we must boldly question all traditions, and if a scholar ever recommends anything that we find irrational or unjust, we must demand from them extraordinary evidence, because they are making an extraordinary claim; that the Quran supports something irrational or unjust.

Reproductive climates and the practice of fiqh

Fiqh refers to Islamic jurisprudence, the field of discovering the best possible practical applications for the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s traditions ﷺ). One of the main theses of the book is that the reproductive climate affects the way men interpret Islamic principles.

According to Amin, in very-long-term climates like Saudi Arabia, paternity confidence is one of the prime directives in the minds of the scholars, so that they support nearly everything that can in some way restrict a woman from cheating on her husband and make her a better reproductive object.

Egyptians have a less long-term climate, so that their scholars are willing to make concessions to women’s freedom even if they acknowledge that in certain circumstances these granted privileges may lead to less paternity confidence.

Amin’s thesis is that reproductive climates affect the derivation of fiqh, leading to differing rulings (fatwas). This is one of the main conclusions of the book, that Muslim men prefer different interpretations of Islam based on their reproductive climates. To Saudi Muslim men, it is “obvious” that women should be restricted for everyone’s good, while to (cosmopolitan) Egyptian Muslim men, it is “obvious” that women should have more freedoms. A man’s reproductive strategy affects his values and makes him prioritize certain things over others, leading to a type of Islam that fits his own reproductive goals.

This scientific analysis of the derivation of fiqh is important and very much needed in order to separate what is truly Islamic from what is merely cultural within the rulings of the scholars. A new field can be launched, the (evolutionary) sociology of fiqh, that studies these matters.

The limitation of his evolutionary psychology approach is that it treats humans as genetic creatures, so that he studies how manifestations of genetically-driven instincts affect psychological behavior. To me this is only half of evolutionary psychology, although I know that many evolutionary psychologists limit themselves to this.

Humans are not genetic creatures, but genetic-cultural creatures, genes affect culture and culture affects genes. This adds a layer of complexity to human psychology that, if ignored, leads to incomplete theories. Thus the Egyptian toleration for less paternity confidence is not necessarily a consequence of the reproductive climate, it might be a cause of it. Perhaps the cultural appreciation of Egyptians for human rights led to a toleration for a shorter-term reproductive climate, so that this ideal was given priority over the concern for paternity confidence.

A piece of evidence in support of it being culture that affects scholarly opinion toward paternity confidence is that higher IQ Muslim nations (Egyptians, Iranians, Turks, Malaysians) have higher appreciation for our modern romantic ideals than lower IQ nations like Saudi.

IQ is largely genetic (i.e. not cultural), but its consequence is a culture that appreciates various intangible ideals, whose consequence, in turn, is a re-interpretation of religion that tolerates a laxer reproductive climate, since this is more likely to achieve those ideals.

Having a high IQ does not mean that a person will be a nice, idealistic person. Rather, a high IQ population, after accepting certain teachings (Western/Christian philosophy, the Quran, Sufism), ends up becoming something of a humanist.

A low IQ population, given the same teachings, will mostly focus on its form and ignore its content (ideals). Thus low IQ Muslims and Christians are often obsessed with appearances, socialization and ritual, while it is the high IQ Muslims and Christians who bother to read deeply into the texts and reach sweeping conclusions from them.

It is, therefore, my hypothesis that when Islam is given to a high IQ population, the result is a humanist Islam, as is so well seen in modern Egypt. While when Islam is given to a low IQ population (Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan), the result is a focus on texts (naql, its extreme example being Wahhabism) and negligence toward the Quran’s humanist teachings.

While the author’s focus on reproductive concerns within the practice of fiqh is useful and enlightening, it is an incomplete view of the system. Genetics can lead to certain cultural (by “cultural”, I mean everything that’s not genetic) behaviors, which can then come back and influence reproductive behaviors, leading to highly complex feedback loops.

Dress codes for slave women

Amin mentions the fact that jurists have tolerated laxer dress codes for slave women compared to free women. According to his theory, this is a sign of the fact that since a slave woman is a short-term mate (more of an object of desire than reproduction), a short-term mindset toward her was tolerated, some jurists going as far as allowing her to show her breasts in public. Since paternity confidence was not a concern, the amount of skin a slave woman showed was not much of a concern.

This behavior is also seen in Arab and Indo-Pakistani men living in the West who have sexual relationships with Western women without caring much about the woman’s past sexual experience or the way she dresses, but once they go on to seek a wife, they look for women who offer maximal paternity confidence by being virgins who dress modestly.

In both of the above situations, a double standard is maintained depending on the purpose of the woman in question. While the dress codes of slave women have no practical relevance to the modern practice of Islam, from a sociology of fiqh perspective, the matter provides a useful insight into the thinking processes of jurists, showing how personal biases and reproductive goals affect the way Islamic sexual morality is interpreted.

It should, however, be noted that part of the justification for this double standard for the dress codes of free vs. slave women is verse 33:59 of the Quran:

O Prophet! Tell your wives, and your daughters, and the women of the believers, to lengthen their garments. That is more proper, so they will be recognized and not harassed. God is Forgiving and Merciful.

A common interpretation of “so they will be recognized” is that so that it will be known that they are free women and not slaves (as mentioned in al-Tabari’s tafseer). This clearly provides justification for tolerating different dress codes for different classes of women.

Another Persian scholar, al-Razi, interprets this verse as saying that virtuous women should dress more conservatively if there is a chance they will run into uncouth strangers, so that those strangers may recognize them as virtuous women and not women open to flirtation. This interpretation is far more satisfactory in my opinion and prevents the use of the verse as justification for having double standards regarding different classes of women.

Short-term reproductive climates versus civilization

The most significant missing topic in Conflicts of Fitness is an analysis of the long-term consequences of short-term climates, which perhaps cannot be done without bringing politics and morality into the discussion, and therefore perhaps this is why the author avoided it. It is my belief, expressed in detail in Sex and Purpose, that short-term reproductive climates are inherently anti-civilization.

A man needs to feel integrated into his society, to feel as a part of its rises and falls, in order to be invested in its long-term welfare. Short-term climates turn men into societal satellites who dip into it when it benefits them, but who are ultimately free to move on and leave it for somewhere else where the grass is greener. Men no longer think of building a better world for their grandchildren, but of earning enough money to attract the most sexually desirable mates as quickly as possible, to have no-strings-attached sex as often as they can, and to continue to maintain a fulfilling life that maximizes pleasures and minimizes burdens.

In such a climate, the economy is “financialized”, everything is about short-term returns, and anyone who invests his money expecting returns 20 years from now on is considered hopelessly old-fashioned. The entire economy starts to function on the short-term sexual mindset; take as much pleasure as you can, give as little back as you can. Men financially rape and plunder, women worship power and privilege and offer themselves up for sale to the highest bidder.

What would be the fate of the country in 2100? Who cares? Maximize money and orgasms.

Individuals can talk about sustainability, anti-consumerism and charity. But expecting such things to be taken seriously in a short-term reproductive climate is like expecting a tree to grow on Mars, and therefore all movements that promote these things are going to be largely incapable of doing anything against the general flow of history toward ever more short-term decisions that damage and destroy civilization’s foundations. This process is slow and subtle, and therefore goes widely unnoticed.

The ideals of civilization are all long-term; a respect for truth, fairness and sustainability. A short-term climate will always act as an incentive to abandon these ideals in favor of short-term interests (personal power and profit). It is for this reason that today very few scientists are willing to state politically incorrect scientific facts. In this short-term climate, the scientists and intellectuals that rise to the top are not those that are best at unbiased factual analysis or contributing to civilization, but those who are best at being fashionable through doublespeak, cherry picking of facts and avoidance of sensitive topics.

In short-term climates, the parasites raise to the top. The lender class (the bankers and their friends, nearly every member of the super-rich), who through interest extract profit from the economy at the expense of everyone else, end up owning most of the country’s economy, real estate, publishing and media, and use their immense wealth and power to continually push society toward reflecting their short-term-oriented rape-and-plunder mindset, and part of this is the promotion of sexual freedom. They do not necessarily do this out of malice, it could just be the human desire for short-term gain.

On the one hand, there is civilization and what it needs to stay alive; a thriving population that respects its long-term ideals. On the other hand, there is the short-term climate and its love for the wide availability of other people’s money and daughters. A Manhattan billionaire would absolutely hate to be forced to sit in his office without having easy access to attractive and sexually receptive women, therefore it is a central aim of the billionaire mindset to promote sexual freedom. 99 out of a 100 billionaires probably feel a strong revulsion for anything that threatens their supply of sexually available young women, the way they feel a strong revulsion for anything that threatens the profits they extract from society.

I admit that an objective analysis of these phenomena would be needed to show beyond reasonable doubt that short-term climates are inherently anti-civilization. For now, it is a general conclusion that I have reached over the years, and the facts of the modern world and history both seem to strongly support this theory. The only place where a short-term climate can sustain civilization is the minds of science fiction writers.

What does Islam select for?

All societies select for something. —Greg Cochran
All policy is eugenics.1 —Ikram Hawramani

Another relevant and highly interesting topic that is not covered by the book is the effects of reproductive climates on genes. For example, in a society that practices polygyny for long enough, the sex ratio will likely correct itself so that slightly more women than men will be born.

As I explain in my essay The Gene-Culture, any study of humans that entirely focuses on genes, or entirely focuses on culture, is going to be incomplete, because it focuses on one force while ignoring its equally important companion force.

A study of religious policies toward gender as entirely reproductive strategies, while highly informative, is incomplete. Thinking in terms of centuries and millennia, rather than in terms of individual generations and societies, will bring into focus the importance of religion as a gene-modifying force; Islamic culture will rewrite genes by selecting for certain characteristics and against others, the same way that genes (and reproductive strategies) affect our practice and interpretation of Islam, causing us to focus on certain aspects of Islam (and ignore others at times).

Islam rewards and promotes self-restraint, which is strongly associated with IQ, therefore high IQ people will get a favorable treatment under Islam compared to lower IQ people who have difficulty with self-restraint. A woman who has a reputation for being “wild” is going to be passed up by men in favor of women who have a reputation for restraint. A man who does not have the long-term planning capacity to get a degree and a good career is going to be passed up by women in favor of men who have such capabilities.

Short-term climates create winner-take-all realities where a few attractive men get to have sex with a great number of women, as Conflicts of Fitness studies in detail, while the less sexually attractive and shy “nerdy” men are going to find it very difficult to have sex.

The Islamic system prevents this reality from existing. It punishes the womanizing “alpha males” by forcing them into long-term relationships where they have to make do with one, two or at most four women. And since many of these “alpha males” will not have the money to take care of too many women at the same time, they will often be forced to make do with just one or two women. This means that the rest of the women will not have access to these men, so that they are forced to settle for less attractive men.

In an Islamic society, similar to Japanese society 100 years ago, the majority of men will be able to marry, including shy and nerdy ones who are totally incapable of using charisma to attract women. This fact of Islamic societies may be a significant contributor to the high fertility rates that devout Muslim societies enjoy.

The system may slowly increase IQ by enabling nerdy men to pass on their genes, instead of turning nerdy-ness into an evolutionary dead-end. The explosion of European innovation over 1000 years ago may have been partly caused by Christianity’s spread, enabling nerds to marry and reproduce, while before that, it is possible that they had a winner-take-all system where men who fitted the warrior archetype left the most offspring, and those who did not were less likely to survive and pass on their genes. This, however, is a big speculation.

As for today, throughout all sexually open societies (Western Europe, South Korea, Japan), nerdy men seem to feel isolated, purposeless and shunned by their societies, since short-term sexual climates always reward the alpha male archetype. This may cause a long-term dysgenic effect that decreases IQ, along with decreasing fertility rates in general.

Conclusion

Conflicts of Fitness is a worthy contribution in the best tradition of Western civilization, an effort to arrive at the truth without concern for political considerations. Many Islamic books quickly become tiresome as the author tries to signal their virtue and belonging to the Islamic establishment, and many Western books suffer from exactly the same thing; authors virtue-signalling and using doublespeak and the cherry-picking of facts to please crowds at the expense of the truth.

Conflicts of Fitness avoids these ills and provides much food for thought that will hopefully help in the goal of reforming Islam while avoiding infecting it with new Western diseases. The book should also contribute toward the equally important goal of rescuing the Western tradition from the clutches of irrationalism.

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.

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.

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.

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 is 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 presupposition, 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 presupposition) to reach the conclusion that gay marriage should be prohibited. If the religious are illogical and irrational for basing their thinking on an unproven presupposition, you too are illogical and irrational for basing your thinking on an unproven presupposition.

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 presupposition (that humans are purposeless) does not require proof, while a religious presupposition (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.

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?

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

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:

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.

Also see: How Islam Can Adapt to the Modern World: The Persian versus the Arabian Approach to Handling Complexity.

God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely and 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 that 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.

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 necessarily wrong with that. So it is quite true that a Muslim woman can be a feminist and make a contribution to society.

There is a big difference between the old humanist feminism of Wollstonecraft and Stanton and the new radical leftist feminism in vogue today. The old one worked to end social injustice against women by demanding equal rights and freedoms for them. This old feminism is in keeping with Islamic principles and can serve a useful function in Islamic societies, ensuring that women’s rights are not neglected and women’s freedoms not limited due to un-Islamic cultural biases that exist in many places.

The new feminism, which is the doctrine of today’s women’s studies departments at universities, has little to do with the old feminism. It teaches that men are inherently evil and worthless, that men’s thinking is invalid, that the world would be a better place if all men ceased to exist. It promotes hatred and anger against men and civilization, teaching women to feel no moral responsibility toward their societies and to see everything from the highly skewed lens of a mythical war between the sexes. This view is highly un-Islamic, because it does not believe in the transcendent value of human life. It teaches that men are sub-human, lesser creatures, almost worthless. It teaches that a woman’s rights and feelings must be of the utmost importance while considering men’s (and boys’) rights and feelings laughable and worthless.

Any feminist Islam, therefore, must be highly sensitive to the differences between these two types of feminism and reject the new one in favor of the old, humanist feminism that truly believed in equality, in giving back to society, in cooperation with men rather than hatred toward them.

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 is all she has to do. He will be 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 embraces 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 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 of 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 she 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 have intellectual accomplishments 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 is 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.

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