July 23, 2008

Ask Maria: Marijuana?

Filed under: Blogroll — mariahussain @ 10:08 pm

Q: I tried out marijuana for a couple weeks then I stopped. While I was using it I didn’t know it was against islam. I quit and I was thinking that I might do it once every month but I found out it was against Islam and haven’t done it yet. What can I do to compensate for my sins?

A: Smoking anything is haram [forbidden] according to some scholars and makhruh [reprehensible] according to others. Most consider it a lesser sin than alcohol. The only punishment for getting drunk is if you go out in public and make a drunken display of yourself, your friends are supposed to beat you with their shoes (according to hadith). But for private sins like smoking or drinking there is no Islamic punishment or specific expiation, although in general, a good deed wipes out a bad deed. Healthwise, the best thing you can do is get some exercise to clear that tar out of your lungs. I congratulate you for giving it up; it’s a very expensive habit not to mention bad for your health. But don’t beat yourself up too much because in the middle ages, under Islamic rule, marijuana was used as an herbal medicine for many different ailments, and it was cooked into butter and made into sweets. In many Islamic countries, non-medicinal marijuana (hemp) is used to make rope, paper and cloth. You can even run your car on hemp fuel, it’s much better than corn as a source of fiber to produce ethanol.

During the time that Ali was Caliph, the Islamic empire extended into regions where marijuana was used. There was never any controls or punishment over growing or using marijuana because the Quran does not outlaw any plant. Nowadays people make fatwas right and left but in the old days, if the Quran didn’t specifically outlaw something it was considered a very serious sin to declare it as haram. However, that being said, it is very socially unacceptable among Muslims living in the west and so it is best to avoid it and keep your lungs in good shape. What I’d suggest as a good deed to wipe out your bad deed is, however much money you spent on the herb, donate that much or a bit more to charity. In fact Islamic Relief has a clinic in Afghanistan for rehabilitating drug addicts that you could donate to at

The Quranic verse usually quoted to justify outlawing marijuana is 5:90.

“O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork; Eschew such (abomination) that ye may prosper.”

According to medieval scholars, drugs such as coffee or marijuana were considered “corrupting influences” and not “intoxicants.” Khamr is the term in the Quran and it literally means “covering up.” It is universally understood to apply to wine and liquor. Incidentally, both coffee and the act of smoking were introduced into the Islamic world after Columbus “discovered” America and Europeans started shipping tobacco and coffee to Turkey. The Muslims invented the water pipe still used today at that point. Prior to that, Muslims only ate or drank concoctions made with marijuana and other herbs.

Yet, just because something isn’t technically “haram” doesn’t mean an Islamic government can’t outlaw it. The Ottoman Empire used to hang people for smoking tobacco at one time, but people still refused to quit smoking. On the other hand, I heard the King of Jordan has his own private marijuana garden.


Ask Maria: Hitting your kids?

Filed under: Blogroll — mariahussain @ 8:22 pm

Q: What does islam say about hitting a disobedient child?

A: You sometimes have to hit them, there is a hadith that says you have to hit your kids if they won’t do their salah after the age of ten. But the Islamic rules of corporal punishment are: you can’t hit them in the face, you can’t hit them hard enough to leave a mark, and you can’t do it in front of other people. You have to clearly explain why they are being punished. You have to be consistent with what you expect them to do and what will happen if they don’t do it.

The kind of hitting where it’s just the parent venting his aggression because he had a bad day is absolutely not allowed. I noticed some Muslim mothers do this and it really bothers me, because they also do things like make empty threats like, “If you don’t behave we are never going to come back to your cousin’s house ever again.” So the kid is just being trained to become a brat that distrusts his mother.

With my kids, I tell them the correct behavior three times. The second time they get a warning that says if you don’t do what I said after I said it three times, you will be punished. That way, when they choose to be bad, the third time, they know what is coming. In fact, if I just say 1, 2, 3 they usually jump into bed or whatever it is they are supposed to do. It’s not a matter of being surprised by their mother’s temper.

However, I usually prefer to use time outs, one minute for every year of the kid’s age. The only time a light spanking is appropriate is for a serious offense like a bald faced lie, or hitting a smaller child. If you do it more than once a month it no longer is useful as a punishment because they’ll learn to grin and bear it, but in that case you are just training your kid to view you as a mean person. You have to make it clear that you don’t want to do this. And it’s only for serious offenses.

Ask Maria: When to wear Hijab?

Filed under: Blogroll — mariahussain @ 4:39 am

I wore hijab for ten years full time although I took it off when I got divorced for certain reasons. I have come to the conclusion that it is very important for a person to look modest according to the norms of their culture. Unless you are thoroughly enmeshed in a foreign community or a multicultural community, dressing like an Arab or Pakistani when you are neither Arab nor Pakistani simply causes people to look at you and talk about you. It can totally rob you of all privacy. It does not send the message, “I am a Lady.” It says, “I am a freak.” It can be mortally dangerous to isolate yourself from society, whether you are a single woman living alone without protection or a married woman being psychologically or physically tormented by her husband or inlaws. To some extent, encouraging recent converts to don the hijab Arab style is a form of psychological entrapment similar to any other cult. Don’t get me wrong, Islam is the true religion and not a cult. But the level of isolation experienced by new hijabis includes being fired from job, kicked out of parents’ home, loss of all childhood friends, loss of fiance, loss of all university friends, and often these life support networks are NEVER fully replaced by the monthly dinners at the mosque or the weekly Quran study class. People can’t really live without others understanding where they come from.

Furthermore, I have found the opposite to privacy and dignity to have occurred when I put on hijab. Prior to putting it on, I was a slightly nerdy girl that no one ever noticed. I put on the hijab and everywhere I went, Pakistani men stared at me lustfully. I got hounded by marriage proposals to the point where I became terrified to answer my phone or answer my doorbell. Yes, an Iranian doctor I didn’t even know got my address somehow and rang my doorbell to propose marriage. It was absolutely terrifying and as a result of the combination between social isolation from my own culture and the desire to fit into a community, I got married to someone who was not mature enough to be married, and entered a decade of personal hell. It turned out NOT to be the case that marrying someone in the community would mean you have friends.In fact, “trying too hard to appear like a good Muslim” actually isolated me even within the Muslim community. And the family resented my husband’s choice of bride. The stupid idea that I had to wear Arab hijab and marry a foreigner resulted in me giving the cold shoulder to nice, compatible guys (black and white) who might even have converted to Islam to marry me.

Hijab just attracts a very narrow selection of men obsessed by what other people think of him and what they think of him when they see him with you.

If I could go back again, I would have never put on hijab and kept my religion to myself and just wore the scarf to pray. If and when I felt like covering publicly I would tie my scarf the way I always tied it before I became Muslim. I was always dressed in long sleeves and skirts before I was Muslim anyway. Covering your shape is far more important when it comes to deflecting men’s attention than covering your hair. In fact I tried on niqab one summer and was totally freaked out by how many western men would look at me in a totally perverted way. If I just glanced at them they would have a nuclear meltdown. It really made me realize that in certain places, wearing full covering could get you raped.

That being said, I did note that within the poor and violent inner city environment, wearing hijab did make me safer as a pedestrian and many urban women choose to veil for that reason. Yet it seems much more socially acceptable for Black or Brown women to be able to wear hijab or niqab without attracting stares and comments. They also have tight-knit cliques that they fit into and socialize with so isolation is less of a problem. I think each Muslima has to look at her situation and keep her safety in mind. If she knows she has no one in the Muslim community she can trust to do more than greet her at jummah, and she loses everything, she has then chosen to become a liability to the Muslim community. Then they will have to divert resources into helping you, instead of helping the homeless and the true needy. She could become so lonely that she becomes emotionally destroyed and possibly has a nervous breakdown or debilitating depression. Whereas, if she just kept her life pretty much the same, without donning foreign dress, and just went to the mosque for religious services, that is the type of support and friendship most Muslim communities are willing to give. The Muslims are simply not equipped to take your emotional load off your shoulders and be there for you the way your own lifelong friends and family have been there for you. In the future Muslim communities should probably set up some communal living situations for people who need that.

Obviously, as you become more pious and your personality changes, your relationships will shift, but it will be more of a gradual process that you can deal with without risking everything and then forcing the Muslims who hardly know you to pick up your pieces and take care of you like a member of their family, as if they didn’t already have enough problems.

July 9, 2008

Al-Safa Meat & the American Muslims

Filed under: American interests, Islam, Uncategorized — mariahussain @ 3:52 am

I think it’s really important people should know about this because Al-Safa made a FORTUNE at the ICNA-MAS convention that I just attended in Hartford, CT. They had two booths running 12 hours a day serving hot dogs and chicken nuggets to 10,000 Muslims. Did they realize Al-Safa is a Jewish-owned marketing company? If they are going to sell Jewish hot dogs then just sell the high quality kosher hot dogs. Better yet use an actual Muslim company if possible inshallah.

I have spoken to the Al-Safa halal certifying agency personally about the animal feed and slaughterhouse. I was doing some articles for a halal food magazine that used to exist, Halalpak. Al-Safa is a Jewish marketing company that creates the packaging and advertisements and supplies Muslim grocery stores. The certifying agency is connected to a nearby local masjid. They do not certify any other brands of meat, nor did they coordinate with any national organizations regarding the halal status. The slaughterhouse is in Canada. You’d have to call to get the exact wage they are paying, if they would tell you, but that is what I heard from someone who went there and checked the place out and talked to the slaughtermen, African American and immigrant laborers who work strenuous, long hours doing hand slaughter.

Technically it’s halal, but very low quality meat that primarily benefits the Jewish owned marketing company. The cows are factory farmed and fed corn plus protein supplements made of chicken, according to the certifying agency’s word on the telephone. The slaughterhouse also slaughters non-halal meat. In my extensive interviews with a cattle rancher, I learned that corn-fed cows must be given mass doses of antibiotics to survive as this is not their natural diet. Humans receive a huge health hazard when they eat meat from a cow that took antibiotics because their body then develops a resistance to antibiotics. Furthermore the fecal matter from cows that took antibiotics contain deadly strains of e coli bacteria.

Muslims in America need to learn from the Australian Muslims and start employing cattle ranchers to raise grass fed cows that will supply pure meat that is safe for our children to eat. We can earn the respect of our non-Muslim neighbors if we can provide meat that is guaranteed free of mad cow disease, which is caused by feeding diseased meat products to cows. Most Kosher meat is also not guaranteed free of mad cow disease.

There is a phone number for the certification company on the Al-Safa package. You can call them and confirm everything I have said. I am telling the truth on this matter.

Al Safa Halal
P.O. Box 1076
Falls Station
Niagara Falls, NY

Canadian Mailing Address:

Al Safa Halal
P.O. Box 24178
Cambridge, ON
N1R 8E6

Canadian Head Office:

260 Holiday Inn Drive
Suite 786
Cambridge, ON
Canada 1 (800) 268-8174

AL SAFA guarantees that every single chicken is – hand slaughtered by a Muslim. You are welcome to visit at any time to personally witness our Zabiha and meet our slaughtermen.


Did you know that pretty much every dairy cow is fed pork products to make the milk taste more fatty? That includes high end products like Land o Lakes, according to the cattle rancher I interviewed. The safest bet is to buy organic.

Al-Safa’s certifying agency guy, sorry I forgot his name, was really mad at me for telling people what he told me on the phone. So he may be more hesitant to talk about the protein supplements because it’s certainly not a traditional Islamic practice to feed chicken protein drinks to chickens and cows.

I tried for about a year to find an imam who would make a fatwa against feeding animal byproducts to cows, but according to the hadith you are technically allowed to eat a cow that ate garbage, including the milk of a pig, as long as the meat itself is not obviously stinking. You can however easily tell the difference between pure meat and meat-fed meat by the smell. I can barely eat meat anymore after studying the halal meat system in the US. It is not safe at all.

I tried to convince some local halal meat stores to carry natural beef and even put them in touch with the organic cattle rancher, but they refused to carry organic or natural meat because they were afraid people would ask what is wrong with the other meat?

The independently owned halal meat stores buy the cows at the auction. They do not have any controls over the farmers or the feed. My husband visited a number of slaughterhouses and none of them obeyed all the Islamic laws such as not slaughtering animals in front of other animals. One halal company, Purdue, had Amish-raised natural chicken but machine slaughtered. However, the guy pulling the lever would say “Bismillah” each time.

I only talked to one Turkish brother in Brooklyn who was serious about halal. He was importing equipment from Saudi Arabia to do it totally properly. He planned to only use organic raised cows. Unfortunately I don’t live in NY so I don’t know if his luncheon meat ever made it to grocery shelves.

I wrote an article on this subject for the mosque newsletter and the board of directors personally intervened to have my article removed from the newsletter as they felt it would hurt the local businesses. Grrrrrrr!

I heard all kinds of stories during my interviews, from cows with bullets in the head to cows that were half dead on arrival in New Jersey after being trucked across the country without any break for water or food or exercise (which is haram in Islam). Even buying the meat leftovers from Kosher butchers, as they will not eat the part of the cow containing the spinal column.

American Muslims must learn from the Australian and New Zealand Muslims and act on this right away. Halal butchers must make individual contracts with farmers to raise organic and natural grass fed cows. The future of America, not only just the American Muslims, depends on it. The Muslims are centered in the Midwest. So they need to utilize this advantage and create a center for halal slaughter in Chicago. They need to make contracts with the best and most dedicated organic farmers in America and stimulate the demand for responsible agriculture. The halal meat market is huge. The farmers will be happy to grow us some grass fed cows if we are willing to sign a contract guaranteeing them a stable income. They need a contract that says they supply a certain number of cows per week to x slaughterhouse. It’s not a big deal.

Come on Muslims. Wake up.

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