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Note: This was originally published on January 20, 2018 on my other website fromatou.com.
What happens when you put two Muslim educators and one Muslim college student on the same podcast? You get an all-around epic and uplifting episode! Today, I’m sharing my review of episode 093 of The Mad Mamluks podcast titled “Deus Ex Anima,” which features an all female lineup for the first time on the show. #GirlPower
The purpose of this review is to give a brief summary of the main points that were discussed during this episode, share some of my favorite commentary from each person, and to add my perspective and advice for each topic.
Summary of Episode 093
As an overview, co-hosts Nour Goda and Sammer Zehra speak to Sister Heraa Hashmi about her perspective and opinions on politics, her 712-page list of Muslims condemning acts of violence/terrorism, being different from everyone else, the LGBTQ+ movement, feminism & women’s rights, and being unapologetically Muslim.
Background of Guest
Although I don’t personally know Heraa Hashmi, I think she’s very inspiring and amazing overall.
While conducting research for this post, I found out that Sr. Heraa:
- wrote and published three novels
- is the president of the Muslim Student Association
- volunteers/serves the community on a consistent basis
- is double majoring in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology and Linguistics
- can speak four languages
- won the 2017 Muhammad Ali Confident Muslim award
And she’s only 19 years old! Allaahumma baarik fihaa (O Allah, bless her)!
…but I like being busy. I like feeling like I’m putting my time to good use and I think that’s really the only thing that keeps me going. If it weren’t for that, I’d be in bed all day, just sleeping.Heraa Hashmi
In Fall 2016, one of Heraa’s classmates made a bold claim that “not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims” and “not enough Muslims were making a stand against terrorism.” To counter his claims, she spent three weeks doing research and putting together a Google spreadsheet that contained a 712-page list of Muslims condemning acts of violence/terrorism around the world. She also posted a tweet about this resource/incident, which became viral in less than 24 hours. After gaining a lot of traction, her spreadsheet was eventually turned into a website: muslimscondemn.com. (Source)
I’m not sure which of her classmate’s claims was more ridiculous since both claims are false. Every educated person knows that most terrorists are not Muslim (and the ones who claim to be Muslim are usually not practicing the religion), and every Muslim knows that we have a duty to stop evil deeds in any way that we can.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever among you sees evil should change it with his hand. If he is unable to do so, then with his tongue. If he is unable to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest level of faith.” —Sahih Muslim
It’s not necessary for us to spend our time and energy condemning every act of evil 24/7, but we should be using our time and energy to spread awareness, resolve issues, and grant justice to victims. Additionally, we should keep these two things in mind: 1) terrorism isn’t the only evil act we should condemn on a consistent basis, and 2) saying “they don’t represent Islam” or “that’s not part of Islam” is not the only way to condemn evil deeds (nor is it sufficient or effective). Try the methods below instead, insha’Allah.
How to effectively condemn things:
- hate the sin with your heart
- make dua for victims and their families
- share evidence & explain why that evil deed is not Islamic
- donate at least $1 to fundraisers for victims/their families
- spread awareness online & offline (along with an action plan)
- write letters of support to victims/their families
- write letters to your local politicians to persuade them to implement specific changes
- participate in peaceful protests
- give informative & motivational speeches to educate others on the issue and how to resolve it
- host/participate in workshops that address the root(s) of the problem
- take a pledge to be better and do better every day
Do you have any other suggestions? Share each with us in the comments section below (insha’Allah)!
Being the “Other”
Worships God instead of one’s desires. Prays five times a day. Dresses and behaves modestly. Fasts during Ramadan. Constantly gives charity. Actively prepares for the Hereafter. Lives by the Qur’an and Sunnah.
There’s no denying that us Muslims are very different from everyone else (as we should be).
However, instead of viewing this as a good thing, many of us view it as a burden. In a world that’s becoming more narcissistic and godless by the minute, we’re viewed and treated as “the other” because we don’t fit the West’s definition of “normal.” This has led to unjust torture and killings of our brothers and sisters, implementation of laws that ban the donning of the khimar and niqab, religious names for Muslim children, observance of Ramadan, etc., rules that prohibit Muslims from keeping copies of the Qur’an, having a nikkah, men from growing out their beards, etc., and numerous hate crimes against mosques and individual Muslims. How inhumane can one be!?
Instead of having a faith-centered response to these acts of extremism, Muslims have gone to an extreme as well to prove that we’re worthy of being accepted and liked. We’ve made illicit music & music videos, claimed that donning the Islamic attire is cultural not religious (aka not in the Qur’an), featured in a degrading & pornographic magazine, engaged in haraam relationships & made it public, featured in Christmas commercials, helped promote LGBTQ+ agendas and claimed that homosexual acts are acceptable in Islam, endorsed the banning of the niqab, participated in beauty pageants, and promoted haraam TV shows and movies that have a Muslim character in it (who is only “Muslim” by their name or a piece of cloth). How desperate can one be!?
….I realized, Subhan’Allah, a lot of Muslims they do go out of their way to show that they’re ‘American’ or show that ‘look we eat chicken wings and watch football too!’ And initially I kinda was like well why do we have to eat chicken wings and watch football to be human beings, to be worthy of value or respect? But really it comes into that psyche of ‘okay I’m not so much of an other that I can’t relate to you in cultural things or I can’t relate to you in some other things that we can both share similiarities from.’Sammer Zehra
It’s human to want to be liked. It’s human to want to “fit in” to be liked. It’s human to want to feel and be treated like a human being. However, we shouldn’t go to these extremes to prove that “we’re human beings and worthy of being respected” as Sr. Sammer said. Firstly, we’re already worthy of being respected and valued because we’re creations of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. Not because we wear makeup. Not because we watch/play sports. Not because we have a college degree. But because we were created by the Exalted, the Most High.
Secondly, we need to go back to the Islamic way of gaining people’s trust and respect. That means we need to give others their full rights even when they don’t give us our full rights, remember that this life is a test so it’s bound to be filled with trials and hardship, be patient and make dua, strive to be the best in everything we do and every role we have (e.g. parent, neighbor, student), and keep trying & doing the right thing no matter what.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” —Sahih Muslim
Thirdly, we need to remember that we’re not supposed to fit in. We weren’t created to be mediocre. We weren’t given the title of “the best nation” because we would assimilate and abandon the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. We don’t need to prove that we’re “just like everyone else” to be treated in a humane manner. We just need to be ourselves—Muslims: those who submit to the will of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala—and learn/teach others that unity, in the words of Sr. Heraa, is about respecting each other’s differences not changing them.
Writing to Change the Narrative
“One of the most startling findings of this report is that in one typical week in 2006, over 90 percent of the media articles that referred to Islam and Muslims were negative. The overall picture presented by the media was that Islam is profoundly different from and a threat to the west.” —The Search for Common Ground
It’s no secret that the media loves to promote the notion that “Muslims are a threat to the world.” If only those who work in that industry would put just as much effort (or even half of it) into doing research and learning the truth about Islam & Muslims. Then we would have more honest and unbiased reports. Sigh. One can dream.
…and I kinda wanna come in with a different narrative and be like, it’s not that we can be heroes despite being Muslim but it’s because we can be heroes because of our religion.Heraa Hashmi
Instead of waiting for the media to portray Islam and Muslims in a positive light, Sr. Heraa is working on changing the narrative through her writings (and we should too). There are 1.8 billion+ of us Muslims in the world, which means we already have enough manpower needed to change the narrative non-Muslims have written for us. We just need to pick & use our own medium and let Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala handle the rest.
Note: Remember to avoid falling into the extreme of being desperate and begging for acceptance. Be confident and let your actions do more of the talking for you. Refer to the previous section for help with this one.
Islam is More Than an Identity
I love Sister Heraa’s input on this topic, especially the following commentary she made:
I feel like these days, Islam is kinda viewed as an identity which it is, but primarily it’s a way of life and the reason I kinda emphasize this is because identity is something that changes depending on what you feel and what you think whereas a way of life, I’m constantly trying to change myself to fit the ideal of a Muslim in Islam. The deen doesn’t change to suit me, and it shouldn’t change.Heraa Hashmi
Back in my days of jahiliyyah (ignorance), I used to identify as a “Muslim” simply because my mother and her side of the family did. I didn’t fully understand back then what it means to be Muslim. Now, post-shahadah, I’m able to resonate with what Sr. Heraa said, because I understand that being a Muslim is so much more than just 1) saying that you’re Muslim because you have family members who are Muslim, and 2) performing certain rituals on a consistent basis. Our deen encompasses every aspect of our lives, not just one part, so we should strive to perfect each area of it to the best our abilities to ultimately “fit the ideal of a Muslim in Islam.” 😌
Theist vs. Atheist
“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
From a young age, we’ve been taught [in secular schools] that the scientific way is the best way to learn about the different components of the world because it’s based on research, tangible evidence, and logic “unlike religion.” Consequently, the idea that “science and religion are not compatible” has been ingrained deep into our intellects leading us to believe that we must only choose one and it’d better be science if we want to be taken seriously.
The minute you use the word faith, you’re already kind of suggesting or inviting people to raise, browse, and question how sane you actually are. The moment that you start speaking from a faith-based perspective, you lose credibility in our society because our society values secular theory and to say something like ‘well it’s just faith, right, I don’t have tangible evidence for it,’ you’re pigeon holed into a debate where you’re set up to lose from the very beginning.Nour Goda
I have found the opposite to be true (post-shahadah): science and religion are compatible. Yes, there are certain scientific theories that don’t align with the teachings of Islam, but that doesn’t mean the two aren’t complementary in general. Furthermore, learning about the law of conservation of energy, audio frequency, the body’s defense mechanisms, liver regeneration, pregnancy durations for different species, etc. has increased my imaan and made me appreciate Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala’s Artistry and Wisdom even more. Allahu Akbar!
Note: Be careful not to approach the Qur’an and Sunnah with a secular lens (i.e. trying to see how it fits in with Western ideologies). Approach it the other way around. Sr. Heraa explained this well in one of her threads:
“And (We sent) Lut when he said to his people, “Do you commit the shameful act in which nobody has ever preceded you from all the worlds? Surely, you come to men lustfully instead of women. No, you are a people who cross the limits.” And the answer of his people was not but that they said, “Expel them from your town. They are a people who seek to be pure.” So, We saved him and his family, except his wife. She was one of the rest.”—Surah Al-A’raf (7:80-7:83)
There is no doubt that homosexual acts are not permissible in Islam, but does that mean one cannot be Muslim AND homosexual? Of course not. Every human being has at least one sin that they struggle with, and for some, it’s homosexuality. So how do we handle this “Love is Love” movement and people who are struggling with this sin?
As stated in a previous section, we usually have an extreme response to certain situations instead of a faith-centered response. On one hand, we dismiss the fact that homosexual acts are haraam and encourage those who identify as homosexual to freely act on their desires. They’re not hurting anyone, we claim. On the other hand, we shun those who identify as homosexual and make them feel like an outcast to the point where they no longer want to be a part of the Muslim community. Astaghfirullah, you can’t be gay and Muslim, we claim.
To sin is human but to make the sin normal is not and when we push them towards a community where it’s indulging in that sin and that sin is an okay thing to do and a moral thing to do, that’s very problematic and I don’t know when we answer Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, how are we gonna answer that? Because of something we said or something we did, somebody strayed further from Islam, and that’s my worst fear, is being responsible for that type of thing.Heraa Hashmi
Both of those approaches are wrong and can lead someone to stray further away from Islam like Sr. Heraa said. So how can we handle this in a strategic manner? Try the methods below, in-sha-Allah.
How to effectively address the LGBTQ+ movement to fellow Muslims:
- remind everyone that having thoughts and feelings is not a sin in and of itself
- make it clear that homosexual acts are not permissible in Islam
- allow Muslims who identify with this struggle to open up about it (in an appropriate manner)
- remind them that they are still considered Muslim & should continue to practice the deen
- treat them with the same amount of respect & kindness you would with a heterosexual Muslim
- remind everyone that we should not encourage homosexual acts (look what happened to Lūt’s wife)
- help them get to the root of their feelings to provide the best coping methods
- read & pass on this article: The Strange Elephant in the Room
- make dua that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala grants them strength & rewards them for their efforts
Do you have any other suggestions? Share each with us in the comments section below (insha’Allah)!
Feminism and Being a Working Woman
Listen to this episode
There were a lot more stories, jokes, and commentary in this podcast episode that I left out on purpose so I wouldn’t give away everything. Overall, this episode deserves a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating, and I highly recommend you listen to it too, in-sha-Allah!
Note: If you do not listen to music, then start at 00:36 and end at 01:02:53.
Over to You
What are your thoughts on this episode? Do you have anything to add to any of the discussions? Share your answers with us in the comments section below, in-sha-Allah!