Equality, Shmequality

Rick Santorum had this to say a few days ago:

“Where do you think the concept of equality comes from?” Santorum said on the campaign trail last Friday (Jan. 20). “It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions. It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

This resulted in the mouthpiece of the Hindu American Foundation calling Santorum’s comments bigotry.

Now I am no fan of Santorum (link NSFW), but is equality really such an important concept in Hinduism? Do Dalits and Brahmins drink wine from the same cup? Do the Hindu religious texts and figures teach Brahmins and Shudras to marry each other?

Jains, Sikhs, Muslims and Buddhists were also outraged according to the article.

Does religion really teach equality of all? Seems to me that all these religious spokesmen doth protest too much. Their religions preach equality. Except when they don’t (which is often).

Eid and Rosh Hashanah

Eid Mubarak and Shanah Tovah!

Here in Atlanta, Eid is today. We wish everyone a very happy Eid. Eid Mubarak to you!

The Jewish new year started at sundown last night. So Eid and Rosh Hashanah are on the same day. Shanah Tovah, everyone!

Inheritance and Islam

As parents, we decided that we needed to write a will to decide who we wanted to be guardians for our child and how we wanted our estate distributed. The Islamic laws were not what we wanted.

As parents, we decided that we needed a will. Therefore, some net surfing and searching was warranted in the name of research.

Looking at Georgia law spouse and children share equally if there is no will. In case of no spouse or children, parents are considered 2nd degree relatives, siblings 3rd degree and grandparents 4th degree.

Upon the death of an individual who is survived by a spouse but not by any child or other descendant, the spouse is the sole heir. If the decedent is also survived by any child or other descendant, the spouse shall share equally with the children, with the descendants of any deceased child taking that child’s share, per stirpes; provided, however, that the spouse’s portion shall not be less than a one-third share;

The problem for us here was that with a minor child, too much of the estate might be tied up until she’s older.

Of course, I had to search for what Islamic wills were out there and I found one from a major Atlanta mosque. When I first looked at the document, it just said that the distribution of the estate should be according to Shariah, which didn’t make any sense since who was supposed to figure that out. Now the document goes in some detail. However, I was surprised by this section:

I direct and ordain that any heir, declared as non-Muslim at the time of my death, be disregarded and disqualified in the application of Section B of Article V.

So anyone “declared as non-Muslim” can’t inherit from a Muslim. I decided to check some online Islamic sites. According to Sunnipath, a Muslim can’t inherit from a non-Muslim and a non-Muslim can’t inherit from a Muslim. However, a bequest can be made either way. The Salafi site Islam Q&A also has some information where they restrict even the bequest somewhat.

According to the Twelver Shia website, a Muslim can inherit from a non-Muslim but a non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim.

This whole approach to inheritance is communitarian instead of individualistic. It looks like the community has major rights on the estate since these rulings make it difficult for the estate to leave a particular religious community regardless of how closely related some members of different communities might be.

There is another problem with this approach. Who decides who’s a Muslim or not? Islam Q&A provides a hint:

If you believe that the person who does not pray is a kaafir and apostate – which is the correct view, and Allaah knows best – it is not permissible for a kaafir to inherit anything from a Muslim’s wealth, or for a Muslim to inherit anything from a kaafir’s wealth.

This same principle might be applied by the same group to any sects/groups they consider heretic or non-Muslim. In that direction lies madness in my view.

SunniPath has guidelines on preparing one’s will according to Islamic principles, which contains this odd tidbit:

It is worth remembering here that along with one’s written Will, one should have a separate document stipulating the number of unperformed prayers, missed fasts, unpaid Zakat, unperformed Hajj, any other religious obligations and debts payable to the servants of Allah.

One must strive in accomplishing these obligations in one’s life, and make the necessary amendments to the document whenever an obligation is fulfilled. For example: One had 500 unperformed prayers. In such a case one should stipulate this in the document. Thereafter, whenever, a prayer is made up, it should be deducted from the total of 500. This “important” document should be attached with the Will in order to let the relatives know of one’s obligations and liabilities after one’s death.

While searching on inheritance information, I found this software that can calculate inheritance shares according to Islamic laws. That’s cool.

I would recommend that you read Quran’s verses about inheritance law too.

From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large,-a determinate share. But if at the time of division other relatives, or orphans or poor, are present, feed them out of the (property), and speak to them words of kindness and justice. Let those (disposing of an estate) have the same fear in their minds as they would have for their own if they had left a helpless family behind: Let them fear Allah, and speak words of appropriate (comfort). Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a Fire into their own bodies: They will soon be enduring a Blazing Fire! Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children’s (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases (’s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Al-wise. In what your wives leave, your share is a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of legacies and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth, if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get an eighth; after payment of legacies and debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question, has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies and debts; so that no loss is caused (to any one). Thus is it ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Most Forbearing.

My thoughts about this system of dividing up the estate is that it requires very specific social conditions, with a communitarian ethos where women are generally taken care of by men they are related to. In an individualistic society, this distribution leaves women in a bad situation. As parents of a girl, we are particularly sensitive to these issues.

Finally, the most important thing in our will (and the real reason we wrote one) is the issue of guardianship of our daughter in case both of us die. As immigrants living far away from parents and siblings, this was a difficult problem. We won’t want to remove her from familiar surroundings of the US but at the same time we couldn’t leave her with someone who’s not closely related. In the end, we decided that only her grandparents, uncles and aunts could be trusted.

حج مبارک

آپ سب کو حج اور عید مبارک ہو۔ آج ہم دیکھتے ہیں کہ امریکہ سے حج یا عمرہ کرنے کی شرائط میں کیا کیا شامل ہے۔

آج عرفات کے میدان میں حج ہے۔ حج مبارک!

چاہے آپ آج عید منا رہے ہیں یا 21 تاریخ کو آپ سب کو عید مبارک ہو۔

امریکہ سے حج کے متعلق معلومات حاصل کرتے ہوئے یہاں کی ایک مسجد سے کچھ عجیب باتیں پتہ چلیں۔

If you are not carrying a Muslim name, a certificate from the Imam of your mosques indicating that you are a Muslim is required.

یہ مسلمان نام کیا ہوتا ہے؟ اس بارے میں میں پہلے ہی لکھ چکا ہوں۔ اور اگر ان عقلمندوں کے نزدیک آپ کا نام مسلمان والا نہیں ہے تو پھر آپ کو مسجد سے اپنے مسلمان ہونے کا سرٹیفیکیٹ لانا ہو گا۔ واہ کیا بات ہے!! کیا واقعی لاکھوں غیرمسلم حج اور عمرے پر جانے کے لئے اتنے بےتاب ہیں کہ ان اقدامات کی ضرورت پیش آئی؟ مسجد والے آپ کو کیسے سرٹیفکیٹ دیں گے؟ کیا آپ کا اسلام کے متعلق ٹیسٹ ہو گا؟ یا ضروری ہے کہ آپ سال بھر اس مسجد میں جاتے رہے ہوں؟ اگر ایک شخص کہتا ہے کہ میں مسلمان ہوں اور حج کرنے جانا چاہتا ہوں تو ہم اس کا یقین کیوں نہیں کر لیتے؟ کیا یہ امریکہ اور مغرب کے مسلمانوں کے ساتھ زیادتی نہیں ہے کہ پاکستان اور دوسرے مسلمان ممالک میں تو ایسی کوئی شرائط نہیں؟

اس شرط پر تو ہم بھی پورے نہیں اترتے کہ مشیل کے لئے مسلمان ہونے کا سرٹیفکیٹ لینا پڑے گا اور میں مسجد سے ایسا سرٹیفکیٹ تو کبھی نہیں لوں گا۔

Women traveling alone without husband, brother or adolescent son, a NOTARIZED permission letter is required from the husband, brother, or adolescent son, indicating that he has no objection and permits her to travel for (Hajj/Umra) .

خواتین کے اکیلے سفر پر جو قدغن ہے اس کی ہم آج بات نہیں کرتے۔ نہ ہی ہم حقوقِ نسواں کی بات کریں گے۔ مگر اوپر کی شرط پر غور کریں۔ باپ، شوہر یا بھائی کی اجازت کی بات بھی مان لیتے ہیں۔ جوان بیٹے پر کچھ اعتراض ہے مگر اسے بھی جانے دیتے ہیں۔ مگر یہاں تو ٹین‌ایجر بیٹے کی بھی اجازت درکار ہے! خیال رہے کہ یہ وہی ٹین‌ایجر بیٹا ہے جو معاشرے میں کچھ بھی خود سے نہیں کر سکتا اور اسے اپنے والدین کی اجازت کی ضرورت قدم قدم پر ہوتی ہے۔ اس ٹین‌ایجر بیٹے کی اجازت لینا عورت کے لئے ضروری قرار دیا گیا ہے۔ یعنی عورت کی حیثیت ایک ٹین‌ایجر لڑکے سے بھی گئی گزری ہے۔

عید مبارک

آپ سب کو عید مبارک۔

کہیں کل عید تھی۔ کچھ جگہوں پر آج عید ہے۔ کہیں کل ہو گی اور کہیں شاید اتوار کو بھی ہو۔ اس ساری کنفیوژن میں میں یہ بھول ہی گیا ہوں کہ ہم عید کب منا رہے ہیں۔ خیر عید اسی ویک‌اینڈ پر ہے۔ سو آپ سب کو عید مبارک۔

اس بار عنبر نے عید پر مشیل کے لئے غرارہ بنایا ہے اور اسے مہندی بھی لگائی ہے۔ میشل نے چوڑیاں بھی لی ہیں اپنے فیورٹ جامنی رنگ کی۔

اتوار کو ہم نے دوست یاروں کو دعوت پر بلایا ہوا ہے۔ امید ہے اچھا شغل رہے گا۔

کچھ روابط: اسلامی کیلنڈر اور چاند دیکھنا ، چاند نظر آنے سے متعلق دنیا کا نقشہ ، چاند نظر آنے سے متعلق ایک اور سائٹ ۔

It’s Eid today in some areas while others will celebrate it tomorrow. There might even be Eid on Sunday somewhere while Nigeria celebrated Eid yesterday. In all this confusion, I have forgotten when we are celebrating it. Anyway, it’s this weekend. So, a Happy Eid to everyone!

For the occasion, Amber has sewn a gharara for Michelle and done some henna designs on her hands. Michelle also bought some bangles, in purple of course since that’s her favorite color.

On Sunday, we are having some friends over for an Eid dinner.

UPDATE: Some links related to the Islamic calendar and moonsighting: US Naval Observatory’s page on the topic, Moonsighting curves on world map and another moonsighting calculation site. Also, see Robert Van Gent’s page on lunar visibility.

رمضان اور روش ہشانا مبارک

آج سے روزے شروع ہو گئے ہیں۔ رمضان مبارک۔ اور روش ہشانا یعنی نیا سال بھی مبارک۔

آج یہاں پہلا روزہ تھا۔ آپ سب کو رمضان مبارک ہو۔

ساتھ ہی آج عبرانی کیلنڈر کے نئے سال کا آغاز ہوا۔ آپ کو روش ہشانا بھی مبارک ہو۔ Shana Tova!

Angry Arab in Pakistan

The Angry Arab visits Pakistan and writes about lizards in his inimitable style. All his posts about Pakistan are worth reading.

The Angry Arab went to Pakistan a couple of months ago as a speaker at the International Islamic University. His blog posts about the visit were amusing and interesting. His experience of running scared from the lizards so common in Pakistan was especially funny.

Here is a list of his posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38.

Here are some of his concluding remarks about Pakistan:

Prior to my departure to Islamabad, my kind host called me from Pakistan and strongly urged me (for my own safety) to refrain from ever using the words “atheist” or “secular” or “communist.” Just to make sure I get the point, he always wrote to me making the same point. The political climate there was more liberalized than I expected: it is not that I met people who were critical of Musharraf. I did not meet any one who was NOT critical of Musharraf. But the liberalized political climate did not extend to the Islam question. I strongly felt that there was excessive obsession with Islam in a country that is overwhelmingly Islamic in religious affiliation. The term of reference was so Islamic in conversations and media that I was ready to embrace the secularism of the Turkish generals. It was always assumed that everybody was Islamic. After one talk, which coincided with the prayer time, my host quickly whisked me away because he did want the audience to notice that I don’t pray. I was quite bothered with the too many headlines and news items in Urdu newspapers about Salman Rushdie. Is this really the urgent matter of the day with the country suffering from extreme poverty and a military government? And in my Arabic talk at the Usul Ad-Din College, I made a side mocking remark against Ayman Adh-Dhawahiri, and I noticed in people’s faces that they were not pleased with that one remark, although they were quite pleased with my talk about the study of Islam. And I once was pissed. I am VERY bothered when somebody—anybody—tries to suggest that Palestine is an Islamic cause or question. One member of the audience in one talk said just that. I had to tell him: Islamic matter? You think that Palestinian Christians care less about Palestine than Palestine Muslims? I had to tell him that I knew Palestinian Christians who gave their lives for Palestine. George Habash cares less about Palestine that Mr. Muhammad Dahlan? That angers me when I hear it. I did not understand why a majority Muslim country can’t relax a bit about the Islam factor.

Mostly on the mark I would say, though of course the Angry Arab did not get to see the Westernized elite much, who are also making inroads into the middle classes.