The Household Impact On Our Children’s Islam

One of the greatest fears of a parent is the tragedy of a child forsaking their dīn (religion) and thereby becoming an apostate. In the noble Qurʾān we find the narrative of the wise man Luqmān عليه السلام and his advice to his son:

“O my dear son! Establish prayer, encourage what is good and forbid what is evil, and endure patiently whatever befalls you. Surely this is a resolve to aspire to. And do not turn your nose up to people, nor walk pridefully upon the earth. Surely Allah does not like whoever is arrogant, boastful. Be moderate in your pace. And lower your voice, for the ugliest of all voices is certainly the braying of donkeys.”

Qurʾān 31:17-19, The Clear Qurʾān by Dr. Mustafa Khattab

Increases in the acceptance of cultural ideals which do not cohere with the ethics of Islām are quickly becoming flashpoints of conflict in the home. Mitigation strategies need to be employed by parents and these strategies need to be taught across the board to the point it becomes commonplace within the Ummah. Unless we as an Ummah acknowledge and identify that there are issues when it comes to tarbiyah (the way in which we raise our children), then we are effectively ignoring a growing problem. There are two factors we will consider today, the first is one of the predictors of apostasy:

People who grew up in a home with relatively little credible displays of faith are more likely to be atheists, according to new research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science. The study indicates that cultural transmission — or the lack thereof — is a stronger predictor of religious disbelief than other factors, such as heightened analytic thinking.

New psychology research identifies a robust predictor of atheism in adulthood – PsyPost

Here we see the advice of Luqmān عليه السلام in the noble Qurʾān clearly being demonstrated in the aforementioned study:

The researchers found evidence that a lack of exposure to credibility-enhancing displays of religious faith was a key predictor of atheism. In other words, those with caregivers who faithfully modeled their religious beliefs, such as going to religious services or acting fairly to others because their religion taught them so, were less likely to be atheists.

Ibid

In other words, if we teach our children that Islām is true because it is good and beneficial, but in the home we don’t practise Islām (the daily prayers, fasting, giving charity) but rather find constant conflict (quarrels, hypocrisy, dishonesty, lying) then the child genuinely has no reason to think Islām is benefitting his family. It’s at that point Islām becomes an impediment to what is good and this beautiful dīn becomes associated with the negative attributes of their family. It makes sense as to why a child would want to create that disassociation from Islām, to create a disassociation from chaos, stress, and toxicity.

Imagine a scenario where we teach our children that Islām teaches us to have good etiquette towards those we disagree with, but then they see their father and mother constantly quarrelling, and using insults towards each other. Imagine a scenario where we take them to the masjid for the Friday prayer but we fail to pray any other prayer. The example we set literally has a moral effect on our children, they observe and remember everything, consciously or otherwise. The Qurʾān effectively teaches us this in a very poignant way:

“As for those who believe and whose descendants follow them in faith, We will elevate their descendants to their rank, never discounting anything ˹of the reward˺ of their deeds. Every person will reap only what they sowed.”

Qurʾān 52:21, The Clear Qurʾān by Dr. Mustafa Khattab

The consequence of being a hypocrite therefore has an everlasting effect in this life and in the next:

“Allah has promised the hypocrites, both men and women, and the disbelievers an everlasting stay in the Fire of Hell—it is sufficient for them. Allah has condemned them, and they will suffer a never-ending punishment.”

Qurʾān 9:68, The Clear Qurʾān by Dr. Mustafa Khattab

The second factor that we must look at is known as maternal education (as it relates to mental and spiritual resilience). It is a duty in Islam that our Muslim sisters are indeed given the time and consideration of becoming educated. The Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِيضَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ

Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.

Sunan Ibn Majah 224, Grade: Hasan

Education is for all Muslims, not only for men. Maternal education refers to the level of education which a mother has and its long term effects on a child’s intellectual development. Low maternal education is recognized as a marker of low resilience (the ability to adapt to difficult or trying circumstances), as well as a marker of lesser educational success. In the peer-reviewed journal, Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 3, we learn quite a few important details from the article, “Increases in Maternal Education and Young Children’s Language Skills.” The article states on page 319 that:

“Children of more highly educated parents enter school with higher levels of academic skills and continue to perform better than other children (Entwisle & Alexander, 1993; Lee & Burkham, 2002).”

Increases in Maternal Education and Young Children’s Language Skills, Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 3

Furthermore on page 343 it states:

“Improvements in mothers’ education are associated with concurrent improvements in young children’s language development and the quality of children’s home environments, particularly the provision of learning materials and mothers’ responsiveness.”

Ibid

In a traditional Islāmic household the primary caregiver of a child tends to be the mother, the research therefore elicits the fact that the primary caregiver’s level of education and intelligence has a direct developmental effect on a child’s ability to learn. If the mothers of our children aren’t educated then we are effectively limiting the intellectual development of our children. This can and does directly affect their (our children’s) ability to reasonably think through trying circumstances (emotional regulation during distress). In the book The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles by two PhD psychologist scholars, Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté, they state that:

“Resilience is of vital importance when making quick and tough decisions in moments of chaos. What’s more, it grants you the ability to do so with grace, humor, and optimism. Resilience transforms. It transforms hardship into challenge, failure into success, helplessness into power. Resilience turns victims into survivors and allows survivors to thrive. Resilient people are loath to allow even major setbacks to push them from their life course.”

The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles, p 11.

From this, we know then that a higher level of education for the mother of a child, directly impacts their resilience, and as children grow they need a robust thinking style to navigate challenges, intellectually and spiritually. The book qualifies this point by explaining the impact and efficacy of a robust thinking style:

“Their work indicates that the process that determines our resilience as adults is a dynamic one—a complex interaction between elements of a child’s external and internal worlds. Many of the early external pressures on resilience—low birthweight due to poor maternal nutrition, childhood poverty, divorce, or physical abuse —can themselves never be reversed. They are in the past. But some of the internal causes of low resilience, such as thinking styles, can be modified, even counteracted. And, more important, once your thinking style has changed, you can use it to undo the ongoing negative consequences that stemmed from events in your childhood that were outside your control.”

The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles, p 24.

The link between resilience (mental, emotional, and spiritual), maternal education and an unstable family structure is established (emphasis mine own):

“When we hear such stories of deprivation in the early years, we know intuitively that these children are disadvantaged—they are at high risk of failing to achieve later in life. Research has isolated many of the childhood circumstances that present the greatest threat to resilience: Low birthweight, low socioeconomic status, low maternal education, unstable family structure, and maltreatment put any child at risk for underachievement. But how is it that these characteristics of the world outside the child come to exert their influence on the internal life of the child, on her motivation, achievement, and on her resilience?”

The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles, p 26.

In conclusion, as Muslims we need to practise our faith consistently, as well as educate both parents, and in focusing on these two areas, the likelihood of our children remaining Muslims while being successful in navigating life (especially spiritual challenges) seems to be fairly attainable.

There are many classes that Muslims can attend for free, I recommend the i3 Institute as one of them.

and Allāh knows best.

Site Update: Corrections page added

In the interest of proper Islāmic etiquette, we’ve updated our website with a link in our main menu that lists any corrections which need to be issued. While streaming on YouTube, posting on Twitter or conversing on ClubHouse, mistakes can be made. Mistakes should and need to be corrected. In the course of doing da’wah over the years, I have found that we should consistently hold ourselves to a higher standard. In the past I’ve shared posts about my errata or commented on YouTube where I’ve misspoken or misstated something. It can be difficult to see those posts or comments as time goes by. As a Muslim I want to hold myself to a higher standard, even if that means actively highlighting my mistakes and flaws publicly. This is because I value the truth of Islām over any perceived praise from anyone.

O believers! Stand firm for justice as witnesses for Allah even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or close relatives. Be they rich or poor, Allah is best to ensure their interests. So do not let your desires cause you to deviate ˹from justice˺. If you distort the testimony or refuse to give it, then ˹know that˺ Allah is certainly All-Aware of what you do.

Qur’ ān 4:135, The Clear Quran by Dr. Mustafa Khattab

May Allāh guide us to what is true and just.

Yours in Islam,
Br. Ijaz.

An Example of Major Theological Corruption in the Bible: The Begotten God?

Begotten; it’s a theologically loaded term that carries with it a great deal of baggage. Yet, the word seems to be used in both the Qur’ān and the Bible. In the Qur’ān it is mentioned in Surah al Ikhlās in two forms of the root word و ل د (w-l-d), appearing as both يلد (y-l-d) and يولد (y-w-l-d). In the New Testament it can be found in the Johannine Prologue as μονογενὴς (monogenes) and in perhaps the most popular passage of the Bible, John 3:16, in the form of μονογενῆ (monogene), see Strong’s #3439. Philologists and etymologists at some point realised that the term μονογενὴς (monogenes) did in fact not carry the meaning of “begotten”. Rather, it seems to be the case that the word is derived from two words, μόνος (monos, meaning “only”) and γένος (genos, meaning “class, kind”). This is the reason that modern translations of the Bible have effectively dropped the use of this term in English. The NET Bible at Translation Note 38 says the following:

Or “of the unique one.” Although this word is often translated “only begotten,” such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12; 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clem. 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant., 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham’s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means “one-of-a-kind” and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God, Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14; 1:18; 3:16, and 3:18).

https://netbible.org/bible/John+1

There are some further peculiarities here which lead to concerning conclusions. In the following video I have laid out a breakdown as to how Jerome after the Council of Nicaea emended the New Testament’s rendering in Latin (the Latin Vulgate) to insert Trinitarian phraseology in order to deny the Arian use of the New Testament. This can effectively be understood as a theologically motivated corruption to the text of the New Testament. In order to qualify my claims, I have relied solely upon Christian scholarship with all references listed in the video itself:

In light of this video I am inviting any credible Christian scholar or apologist to engage me in a live discussion on this example of corruption to the New Testament’s text.

and Allāh knows best.

The Insignificance of “Corrections in Early Qur`ān Manuscripts” a response to Daniel Alan Brubaker

Shortly after the release of Dan’s book we completed our response, due to factors outside of our control there was a delay in publicly releasing our response document. The document was been made available as of yesterday. For those of you interested in accessing the document via Academia.edu you can click this link to do so. To download it via Google Drive, please click here. To download directly from this website please click the “download” button below.

Was Christ Crucified? – Historiographic Study and the Aftermath

A few months ago I had a wonderful debate with Mr. Stephen Atkins of Toronto on the historicity of the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. The results of this discussion have been quite meaningful for me and I want to expand on this some more.

Typically, Muslim and Christian debates on the crucifixion have tended to focus on what the Bible or the Qur’ān say about the event itself. This almost always leads into the question of the Qur’ān denying a fact of history. Rather than repeating a debate that has been done ad nauseum, I wanted to do something a little different. It started with an innocent but yet a very foundational question. What does it mean when something is determined to be historic (this is different to an event being historical)? This question spawned other questions. What is the historical method, what counts as a fact of history, what is the role of evidence in determining something to be historic, etc? Muslim-Christian dialogues on the topic had previously presupposed to some degree that we can take the conclusions of some historians and then argue based on their conclusions. It had occurred to me that after twenty-something years of being told that there were mountains of evidence for the crucifixion that I had not actually seen these mountains at all. I surveyed Christian apologetic works against Islām to compile a list of these evidences. I then surveyed Christian apologetic works in response to mythicists (those who claim that Christ Jesus never existed) and compared the evidences they listed. The result was that the lists generally overlapped but they were quite short, in fact, this result bothered me. I assumed at that point that perhaps there was a flaw in the works I had chosen to survey and so I reached out to several Christian colleagues (many of whom were in academia or seminarians) to assist me with my lists. Most produced shorter lists than what I had produced myself.

Knowing then that my lists were more expansive, I then set out to analyse the provenance, datings, and other relevant information about each evidence listed. Most, if not all were from non-contemporaneous sources that provided less information than the Gospels collectively. Knowing already the historical problems with the Gospels (along with the New Testament in general), alongside the various preservation and textual-critical issues, I eventually concluded that our Christian colleagues had exaggerated their claim and in fact, that the emperor wore no clothes; there were no mountains of evidence. There were also no hills, no slopes, not even a slight incline, but rather a singular mole-hill. The stage was set, now I would proceed to examine the other half of the equation, the historical method itself. Reading book after book on historiography, works on historiographic criteria, and works by Christian historians, I began to feel quite underwhelmed and somewhat disappointed. I had assumed that there was some technical detail that held everything together or that there was something more elaborate and demonstrative other than assumptions that had little to no bases. One of the things which became plainly obvious was that from the secular historians I had read from, while they acknowledged the New Testament in and of itself as a complete work of literature was largely ahistorical in its claims, these same historians had viewed the individual event of the crucifixion as historic. The dichotomy was somewhat astounding. Eventually the overarching reason that this dichotomy existed was down to the view that no one else within the 1st century CE had claimed the crucifixion of Christ Jesus did not happen.

In historiography there are two terms that everyone should become familiar with.

  • Methodical credulity – where you presuppose that something is true and wait for evidence to the contrary
  • Methodical skepticism – where you presuppose that something is not true and wait for evidence to the contrary

In the case of the New Testament, academic historians generally apply methodical skepticism but in the case of the crucifixion they applied methodical credulity. What then, explained this dichotomy? It comes down to another facet of historiography known as continuities. See, continuities are generalisations which allow for assumptions of truth (credulity). For example, if I were to make the claim that President Trump owned a smartphone, no one would generally doubt this because in today’s world almost everyone has a smartphone. A historian 200, 300 years from now who examines his presidency, or even his personal life can generally assume that he did own a smartphone because it was common at our present time. It is commonly understood that the Romans regularly crucified Jews at the time of Jesus and so it can be reasonably assumed that because it was so frequent an event, that he was indeed crucified. He just happened to be one of many. Yet, this is just an assumption. For people who aren’t Christians or Muslims, accepting this as a fact bears no consequence on their worldview or their salvation. However, both Muslims and Christians have consequences to bear regarding the crucifixion or the lack of the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. It now becomes more important to have more than mere assumptions based on generalisations and arguments from silence. The stakes are quite literally raised at this point (please forgive the pun).

This is why the debate and the subsequent EFDawah livestreams on this topic became of note.

Rather than arguing based on an assumption, now we were arguing on foundational claims, principles, and evidences. The debate and the streams became somewhat of a testing ground to see just how well prominent debaters, clergymen, and apologists would do in a serious discussion on these matters. The results proved to be quite successful. I’ve had Muslims who have left Islām, return to Islām out of Christianity. Folks who had become agnostic due to this “error in the Qur’ān” returned to Islām. My friends and colleagues have reported using these very arguments successfully in their day to day interfaith conversations. Yet there is perhaps a caveat to all this which most people have yet to recognise. All of my research and all of the arguments which followed from it, have not been made public. In fact, privately with my friends and colleagues, and in a few Masjid lectures I’ve gone into a considerably greater amount of detail. What I’ve presented in the debate itself and in some of the historicity streams are generally the less technical points, summarised arguments, etc. There is so much more to unpack and I hope to do so in a comprehensive, yet brief introductory book on the crucifixion.

and Allāh knows best.

Missionary Mishap: Name of Allah in the Qur’ān

Appealing to the Qur’an’s Arabic in order to dismiss the truth of Islam often produces comedic results. Today we look at one such case which I came across on Facebook.

Screenshot_20200901-173003__01.jpg

I decided to help this young missionary with an explanation of why they were wrong (i.e. their claim was false), followed by an argument by analogy based on a language they already knew, and finally an argument via proof by contradiction in using his same argument against the New Testament.

Screenshot_20200901-175115__01.jpg

There are of course multiple incidents like this from other missionary polemicists. This example is worth a good laugh.

and Allāh knows best.

Easter Livestreams (2020)

On this special Easter Sunday, please see the following two videos. The first, from SCDawah where the panel featured Ustadh Adnan Rashid, Br. Hashim, Br. Mansur, Br. Zakir Hussain and yours truly (don’t forget to like and subscribe to SCDawah). We had a splendid time answering questions and giving our various perspectives on the crucifixion and resurrection, as well as our unified understanding on Christ Jesus in Islam.

 

CallingChristians also did a livestream on Facebook on Easter as well.

Do not hesitate to reach out and ask us questions, we’re excited to share the truth of Islam with one and all.

Yours in Islam,
Br. Ijaz.

Coronavirus: The Death of Religion?

Amidst a global pandemic some sectors of society have found themselves ecstatically celebrating the “death” of religion as many religious institutions find themselves closed or in the process of closing in order to stop the spread of the virus. Masajid, Churches, Synagogues, and Temples are all taking steps to stop the spread of the virus. CNN reports:

First, many religious leaders modified their rituals, hoping to contain the spread of coronavirus. Now, some are taking more drastic measures, canceling worship services, closing religious schools and shuttering holy sites.

Like sports leagues, museums and other cultural institutions, millions of churches and mosques, synagogues and sanghas, temples and gurdwaras are temporarily closing to guard against spreading the virus.

For many spiritual leaders, the decision to shut their doors is difficult. Religious rituals are meant to be enacted, soul and body, traditionally alongside other believers.
But the present dangers of the deadly virus are too great to ignore, many religious groups have decided, leading to a cascade of cancellations worldwide in the last 48 hours.

What these groups (mainly atheists) seem to be misunderstanding is that while some faith-healing Churches are indeed shutting down, this polemic can generally only be applied to a few religious groups that do preach that they perform miracles regularly. This polemic however is highly ineffective against mainstream Sunni Islam where we do not teach that as Muslims we are magically protected against any and all types of disease. In fact, Allah specifically mentions the opposite in the Qur’ān:

Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test? – 29:2 (translation by Dr. Mustafa Khattab, The Clear Qur’ān).

Indeed, the word ‘test’ (يفتنون) encompasses the additional meanings of harm, trials, and tribulations. One form of these tests are in the form of viral diseases in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised us to practise quarantining:

Sa’d reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If you hear of a plague in a land, then do not go into it. If it happens in land where you are, then do not go out of it.”

This narration is found in both Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī  and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. One may even say that this is a form of social distancing. Within Islamic legal jurisprudence there are also two main foundational principles:

  1. المشقة تجلب التيسير – al Mashaqqa Tajlib at-Taysīr (Hardship begets ease).
  2. لا ضرر و لا ضرار في الاسلام – La Ḍarar wa La Ḍirar fī al-Islām (In Islam we do not cause harm to ourselves or others).

It is due to these two considerations (the latter of which is a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as recorded by both Imām adh-Dhahabī and by Imām al Hākim) that many Muslim-majority countries and many Muslim communities throughout the world began suspending prayer in congregations, as well as all activities at their Masajid:

  1. Saudi Arabia suspended visiting religious sites, especially with regard to Makkah and Madinah.
  2. Kuwait suspended Friday prayers at Masajid throughout the country.
  3. The UAE prohibited the sick, the elderly and those at risk of infection from attending Friday congregational prayers.
  4. In Egypt they have stated it is permissible to ban the Friday congregational prayers due to viruses like the coronavirus.
  5. In Canada, the Canadian Council of Imams and the Muslim Medical Association of Canada jointly suspended all Masjid activities.

This is therefore an evidence that we are not a people lacking the faculty of reason, or that we have abandoned hope in our faith, or that science has won against religion (this in itself is a false dichotomy), but rather it is an evidence for the truth of Islam that despite such difficult circumstances our faith has a means by which we can accommodate and manage public health issues. In Islam, we do not have this distinction between faith and science, both work in congruence with each other and are not apart from the other. Had that been the case, then we should not find any statement from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advising us on the plague or on diseases in general.

Indeed, we also find a narration from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) that cleanliness (purity) is half of faith:

Abu Malik al-Ashari reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Purity is half of faith, and the praise of Allah fills the scale. Glorification and praise fill up what is between the heavens and the earth. Prayer is a light, charity is proof, and patience is illumination. The Quran is a proof for you or against you. All people go out early in the morning and sell themselves, either setting themselves free or ruining themselves.”

Keeping ourselves, our clothing, and our belongings clean in general is a great way at combatting the spread of the virus. Therefore this polemic is only effective against pockets of Muslims who are ignorant of their Islam and of religious groups who do not adhere to the truth of Islam, but it is not a polemic against Islam in and of itself. Therefore, this current crisis does not affect the truth of Islam, but rather demonstrates the perpetual reality and authenticity of the message from Allah and from His messenger.

and Allah knows best.

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