The Ethics of Chivalry Between Genders: Imam Zaid Shakir

Source: http://www.emel.com/article?id=71&a_id=1964

The Ethics of Chivalry

Issue 67 April 2010

Islam is not a religion of empty laws and strictures but one which points towards a higher ethical order.

In the literature discussing Futuwwa, which has been translated as Muslim chivalry, there is the story of a young man who was engaged to marry a particularly beautiful woman. Before the wedding day, his fiancée was afflicted with a severe case of chicken pox which left her face terribly disfigured. Her father wrote to him informing him of the situation and asking if he preferred to call off the wedding. The young man replied that he would still marry his daughter, but that he had recently experienced a gradual loss of sight, which he feared would culminate in blindness.

The wedding proceeded as planned and the couple had a loving and happy relationship until the wife died twenty years later. Upon her death the husband regained his eyesight. When asked about his seemingly miraculous recovery he explained that he could see all along. He had feigned blindness all those years because he did not want to offend or sadden his wife.

From our jaded or cynical vantage points it is easy to dismiss such a story as a preposterous fabrication. To do so is to miss an important point that was not lost to those who circulated and were inspired by this and similar tales. Namely, our religion is not an empty compilation of laws and strictures. The law is important and willingly accepting it is one of the keys to our salvation. However, the law is also a means to point us toward a higher ethical end. We are reminded in the Qur’an, “Surely, the prayer wards off indecency and lewdness.”(29:45)

The Prophet Muhammad mentioned concerning the fast, “One who does not abandon false speech and acting on its imperatives, God has no need that he gives up his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari) These narrations emphasise that there is far more to Islam than a mere adherence to rulings.

This is especially true in our marriages. Too many Muslims are involved in marriages that devolve into an empty observation of duties and an equally vacuous demand for the fulfillment of rights. While such practices are laudable in their proper context, when they are divorced from kindness, consideration, empathy, and true commitment they define marriages that become a fragile caricature. Such relationships are irreparably shattered by a silly argument, a few wrinkles on the face, unwanted pounds around the waist, a personality quirk or a whimsical desire to play the field to see if one can latch on to someone prettier, wealthier, younger, or possibly more exciting than one’s spouse. Continue reading

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ICE Out of Control: Time to Rein in Rogue Agency and Pass Immigration Reform

Frank Sharry

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-sharry/ice-out-of-control-time-t_b_519201.html

Today, a group of grassroots leaders are demanding that the Obama Administration fire John Morton, the head of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security.

Deepak Bhargava of the Center of Community Change, a lead organizer of the immigration rally in Washington, D.C. on March 21st and a leader of FIRM (Fair Immigration Reform Movement), had this to say at today’s press conference:

“This agency has gone rogue and is operating in clear opposition to the direction President Obama has set.”

What gives?  It seems the stated priorities of President Obama may not be in sync with the cowboy tactics of ICE agents in the field.

The President gets it.  He has always gotten it.  In 2008 candidate Obama had this to say to theNCLR convention in San Diego:

“When communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids, when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel, when all that is happening, the system just isn’t working, and we need to change it.”

Little more than a week ago, President Obama told a gathering of over 200,000 activists that he heard their plea and was standing as a partner with them in fixing the “broken immigration system.” Here’s part of what Obama said, via video, to the marchers:

I’ve always pledged to be your partner as we work to fix our broken immigration system and that’s a commitment that I reaffirm today. Nobody knows the cost of inaction better than you. You see it in the families that are torn apart and the small business owners who try to do the right thing while others game the system. You see it in the workers, who deserve the protection of our laws and the officers who struggle to keep our communities safe while earning the trust of those they serve.

But this past weekend the Washington Post exposed a high-level ICE directive and internal ICE memos that reveals how wide the chasm is between administration rhetoric and on-the-ground reality.

Seeking to reverse a steep drop in deportations, U.S. immigration authorities have set controversial new quotas for agents. At the same time, officials have stepped back from an Obama administration commitment to focus enforcement efforts primarily on illegal immigrants who are dangerous or have violent criminal backgrounds.

The moves…differ from pledges by ICE chief John T. Morton and his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, to focus enforcement on the most dangerous illegal immigrants. That approach represented a break from the mass factory raids and neighborhood sweeps the Bush administration used to drive up arrests.

What was ICE’s response to the Post’s expose?  Blame the memo’s author, recast “quotas” as “performance goals,” and issue a press release stating the memo has been “withdrawn and corrected.”  Forgive us skeptics for wanting to see the new policy in writing before we concur. Continue reading

Online Muslim sex shop conforms to Sharia law

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/online-muslim-sex-shop-conforms-to-sharia-law/story-e6frf7lf-1225847502559

CANDID but demure, an online sex shop for Muslims has been launched in the Netherlands to tap into a demand for erotica that does not offend Sharia law.

“We had about 70,000 hits in the first four days,” founder Abdelaziz Aouragh said of his site that went online last week and claims to be the world’s first erotic webshop for Muslims.

The 29-year-old Dutch national said it targeted married Muslim couples as an alternative to sites “that focus on pornography and the extravagant side of erotica” — things forbidden in Islam.

The home page of El Asira, which means “Society” in Arabic, is a sober black and grey street with a line down the centre, inviting women to enter on the left and men on the right.

Once inside, clients can browse in Dutch, Arabic or English through more than a dozen products, mainly massage oils, lubricants and tablets that claim to act as aphrodisiacs.

All ingredients are halal, or “permissible under Islam,” said Mr Aouragh, and conspicuously absent are dildos, vibrators and any type of pornography.

“Most of the other products out there have pictures of naked people or foul language — it was very difficult to find ones that I could use in my business,” he said.

Instead, the website shows only photos of boxes, tablets, tubes and bottles — mainly in pink or blue with the brand’s logo, a black flame.

“We have chosen a respectful approach,” the site said, proclaiming itself “a novelty in the Islamic world.” Continue reading

Why I Was Banned in the U.S.A. By Tariq Ramadan

By Tariq Ramadan | NEWSWEEK

| NEWSWEEK

Choo Youn Kong / AFP-Getty Images
Indonesians wait in line to get visas at the U.S. embassy in Jakarta

From the magazine issue dated Mar 29, 2010

When the American embassy called in August 2004, I was just nine days away from starting a job at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. I had already shipped my possessions from Geneva, Switzerland, where I was living, to Indiana, and enrolled my kids in a school near our new home. Suddenly, however, an embassy official was telling me my visa had been revoked. I was “welcome to reapply,” the official said, but no reason was offered for my rejection. Sitting in a barren apartment, I decided the process had become too unpredictable; I didn’t want to keep my family in limbo, so I resigned my professorship before it began. I launched a legal battle instead.

It was hardly a fight I had expected. Less than a year earlier, the State Department had invited me to speak in Washington, D.C., and introduced me as a “moderate” Muslim intellectual who denounced terrorism and attacks against civilians. Now it was banning me from U.S. soil under a provision of the Patriot Act that allows for “ideological exclusions.” My offense, it seemed, had been to forcefully criticize America’s support for Israel and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. accused me of endorsing terrorism through my words and funding it through donations to a Swiss charity with alleged ties to Gaza. Civil-liberties groups challenged my case in court for almost six years until, in late January, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped the allegations against me, effectively ending my ban. Continue reading