Opinion Editorials, November 2004, To see today's opinion articles, click here: www.aljazeerah.info




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Difficulties for a New Muslim

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 11/23/04

Q.1. I am a new Muslim and I feel that my life has improved greatly by adopting Islam. However, sometimes I am unable to do certain things that Islam requires, and I fall short of doing them. What worries me most is that when I am back home I am unable to wear the hijab as is the case when I am here in Saudi Arabia. Please comment.

Q.2. I have learned that it is not proper to mention Godís name when one goes to the bathroom. What to do when one wants to perform the ablution, starting by saying Bismillah?

(Name and address withheld)

A.1. Every newcomer to Islam goes through a period of adjustment when there are things that he or she might find difficult. As long as one does oneís main duties, offers the obligatory prayers, pays zakat, fasts in Ramadan and maintains a generally Islamic life, one is on the right course. Such a person will find that what he or she finds difficult today will become easier as they progress. The point is that their consciousness of their Islamic duties become sharper and their getting used to doing things for Godís sake increases their determination not to violate any of His rules. Other Muslims who are aware of the situation of this newcomer to Islam should give him or her all the encouragement and support they can to help them to adhere to all their duties.

Wearing the hijab is one of the most difficult adjustments for a new Muslim woman, particularly if she maintains good relations with her relatives who are non-Muslim. There may be much pressure on her adding to her difficulties. She should remember that this is a duty imposed by God, which means that no one can tell her that she does not need to do it. In fact she should try hard to resist any pressure or temptation not to wear it.

However, if she finds the pressure too strong and she does not wear the hijab on one or more occasions, she should not despair. She should seek Godís forgiveness and pray Him to help her. But she should not allow this omission of one duty to affect her commitment to Islam and to the fulfillment of other Islamic duties. Failure to do one duty should not be allowed to justify other failures, as some people tend to think.

On the other hand, she should try to explain to her relatives why she has adopted Islam, and why Islam requires women to wear the hijab. When they understand the reasoning, their opposition would be much reduced.

A.2. As you said, it is not appropriate to mention Godís name when one is in the bathroom. If you are doing the ablution there, then do not mention Godís name. You can think of the words, without uttering them. The ablution is valid without saying any prayer or phrases of praise of God. As long as one formulates the proper intention to perform the ablution and fulfill its requirements, his ablution is perfectly valid.

Female Circumcision

Q. Only recently we began to hear about female circumcision. Some people suggest that it is recommended. Is it truly so? If so, why is it not as common as circumcision for boys?

(Name and address withheld)

A. Female circumcision is an African custom, which is common in many countries in Central Africa, but unknown in the North and South of the continent. Several of the countries in which it is common practice happen to be Muslim, or have substantial Muslim communities. Otherwise it has nothing to do with Islam.

The fact that it is unknown in very large areas of the Muslim world, including the entire Asian Muslim countries, apart from small pockets in some parts of Arabia, confirms that it is not an Islamic practice. In fact it is neither recommended nor desirable from the Islamic point of view.

Some people suggest otherwise, claiming that it is a Sunnah, and maintain that it reduces a womanís sexual desire. They quote a number of Hadiths that mention it approvingly.

The fact is that all these Hadiths are far from authentic. They are graded as ďpoorĒ or ďdaeefĒ. Therefore, no ruling could be established on their basis. Moreover, it does not have the effect these people claim, except that it makes sexual intercourse difficult. As such, it is indeed undesirable because it tampers with Godís creation. There are two types of female circumcision: One is moderate and the other very drastic, as it cuts part of the womanís genitals. This type, known as Pharaonic, is akin to mutilation. As such, it is forbidden.

Earth, a planet hungry for peace

 Apartheid Wall

The Israeli Land-Grab Apartheid Wall built inside the Palestinian territories, here separating Abu Dis from occupied East Jerusalem. (IPC, 7/4/04).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.