Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Concept of Nazar (Evil Eye) in Islam

Turkish Evil Eye talisman
Ibn 'Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The influence of an evil eye is a fact; if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of an evil eye, and when you are asked to take bath (as a cure) from the influence of an evil eye, you should take bath. Sahih Muslim Book 26, Hadith Number 5427.
The concept of "evil eye" has existed for several thousand years, and can be found in ancient Greek myths and Jewish folk stories. It is based on the idea that if someone is envious of another's good fortune, their envy can cause that good fortune to end. Many Muslim cultures express this belief using the concept of nazar (evil eye). The Quranic roots of nazar come from two verses in the Quran:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homosexuality in Islam

Mukhannathun in Pakistan
Note: I am extremely interested in feedback on this blog entry. Please provide constructive feedback below

Despite the pronouncements of many Muslim scholars, Islam’s stance on homosexuality is extremely complicated. Allah clearly has a preference for believers to engage in heterosexual marriage based on his praise of it, yet neither Allah nor the Prophet ever overtly banned homosexual relationships for Muslims, nor did Allah condemn alternative sexual identities.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Disparaging the Prophet

"Muhammad" by
Over the past few years, many Muslims have decided that it is there personal responsibility to avenge insults to the Prophet and Islam by burning down their own neighborhoods, imprisoning children with mental impairments, and killing innocent bystanders. This activity is more insulting to our religion than the original insults they seek to avenge.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Quran and Marriage

Another of His signs is that He created spouses from among yourselves for you to live with in tranquillity: He ordained love and kindness between you. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect. Quran 30:21
The relationship between husbands and wives in the Quran is truly sacred. As Allah describes men and women originating from the same original soul:
People, be mindful of your Lord, who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them spread countless men and women far and wide; be mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another… Quran 4:1

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Deeper Dive into Islamic Finance

Ahmad recorded that Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said that Umar said, "The Ayah about Riba was one of the last Ayat to be revealed, and the Messenger of Allah died before he explained it to us.'' Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Clarifying the meaning of Riba

A few weeks ago I summarized Allah’s guidance on commerce. Allah’s guidance is centered on the principles of truthfulness and fairness. Built into the doctrine of fairness is the idea that Muslims should not take advantage of people in distress. To that end, Allah banned riba. Today I am going to take a much deeper dive into that topic. The key takeaways are:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Contextualizing the Quran

This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God, who believe in the unseen, keep up the prayer, and give out of what We have provided for them; those who believe in the revelation sent down to you [Muhammad], and in what was sent before you, those who have firm faith in the Hereafter. Such people are following their Lord’s guidance and it is they who will prosper. Quran 2:2-5
Although all Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of God, interpretations of the Quran have evolved and changed over time. As I have blogged about my reading of the Quran over the past few weeks, I have received comments and emails both praising and criticizing my interpretation. Here are the primary sources I am basing my reading on.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Allah's Guidance on Diet

Today all good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful for you as your food is lawful for them. Quran 5:5
When reading Allah's guidance on food, it is important to remember that early Muslims had an identity complex. Early chapters in the Quran stressed that Allah was the same God described to both Jews and Christians. Prayers were made facing Jerusalem until the Prophet was given permission to change the prayer direction to Mecca. Early Muslims, therefore, could be forgiven for assuming that Jewish dietary practices applied to them. Early Quran commentators relate an incident of Jews questioning Muslims on their diet: