Archive for July, 2014


Some principles of Sufism, the role of the “Sheikh”, The Covenant, “Dhikr” and Sufism’s stance on the interpretation of the Quran; all of which strongly contradict the teachings of Islam.

 

Principles of Sufism

 

‘Willful and total submission to the Sheikh’, is probably the motto of Sufism.  From a glance, it is clear that a special and complete bond is formed between the head of the Sufi order (the ‘Sheikh’) and the Mureed (follower); understanding the principles of Sufism lies in understanding its basic structure.  So what is it all about?

Basically, the follower gives a pledge of allegiance, whereby he pledges to obey the Sheikh, and in turn the Sheikh promises to deliver the follower from every problem or calamity that may befall him.  The Sheikh also offers the sincere follower lucrative fringe benefits.  Once a follower agrees, he is blessed and assigned a set of Dhikr (chants).  The follower is also to carry on with his life in a manner that is laid out by the Sufi order.  If a conflict arises between his duties within the order and outside duties, the follower is to act upon the instructions of the Sheikh.  In this manner the Sheikh’s hold over the follower becomes absolute.

All in all, the follower is separated from the outside world and is exploited in many ways.  As Muslims we believe that no human has a special power or ability to deliver us from the calamities of the grave or the Hereafter.  Each of us will stand before God and will be judged individually.

God tells us:

“And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.” (Quran 7:164)

We also believe that as Muslims we are not to submit and surrender ourselves to anyone but God, Almighty.  Besides the Creator, all else is apt to make error.  The Prophet, may the blessing and mercy of God be upon him, said:

“Every son of Adam makes mistakes and the best of them are those who repent.” (Tirmidthi)

The Sheikh

He is the ‘supreme authority’, the head of ‘job’ distribution within the Order and gives each of the followers their necessary Dhikr.  It is to this individual whom the follower pledges full and total obedience; thereafter, the two universal laws of the Sheikh-follower bondage will come into effect:

a.     The follower must never argue with the Sheikh, nor ask him for a proof in relation to the actions he does.

b.    Whoever opposes the Sheikh, will have broken the ‘covenant’ and is thus debarred from all fringe benefits offered by the Sheikh, even if he stays a close friend to him.

As Muslims we believe that all acts of worship are ‘Tawqeefiyah’, i.e. not subject to opinion; thus must be substantiated with textual evidences that are both authentic and decisive.  God, Almighty, tells us:

“Say (to them), ‘produce your proof if you are truthful.’” (Quran 2:111)

We believe that there is no middle-man between God and His slaves.  We are to call unto Him directly.  God tells us:

“And your Lord says, ‘Call upon Me; I will respond to you.’ Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.” (Quran 40:60)

In Sufism, the Sheikh is thought to be ‘the inspired man to whose eyes the mysteries of the hidden are unveiled, for the Sheikhs see with the light of God and know what thoughts and confusions are in man’s hearts.  Nothing can be concealed from them.’[1]  Ibn Arabi, claimed that he used to receive direct revelation from God, similar to the way that Prophet Muhammad did, and was quoted as saying: “Some works I wrote at the command of God sent to me in sleep, or through mystical revelations.”  M. Ibn Arabi, “The Bezels of Wisdom,” pp.3

We believe that the knowledge of the unseen is restricted to God alone.  Anyone who claims the knowledge of the unseen has indeed told a lie.  God tells us:

“And who is more disbelieving than he who forges a lie against God, or says, ‘It has been revealed to me,’ when nothing has been revealed to him?”(Quran 6.93)

The Prophet said:

“Do not forge lies against me, because he who does so enters the Fire.” (Saheeh Muslim)

The Covenant

This is an interesting ceremony, which by far, is the most important principle of Sufism as it is common among all Sufi Orders.  Here the Sheikh and the follower hold hands and close their eyes in solemn meditation.  The follower willfully and wholeheartedly pledges to respect the Sheikh as his leader and guide to the path of God.  He also pledges to adhere to the rites of the Order throughout his life and promises never to walk away, along with this the follower pledges complete and unconditional allegiance, obedience and loyalty to the Sheikh. After this the Sheikh recites:

“Verily, those who take the allegiance to you take it to Allah.” (Quran 48:10)

The follower is then given his specific Dhikr.  The Sheikh asks the follower: “Have you accepted me as your Sheikh and spiritual guide before God, Almighty?” In reply, the follower is to say: “I have accepted,” and the Sheikh responds saying: “And we have accepted.”  Both of them recite the Testimony of Faith and the ceremony is ended by the follower kissing the Sheik’s hand.

This entire ceremony was unknown during the Prophet’s life and the best three generations that preceded him.  The Prophet said:

“Whoever lives after me shall see many differences (i.e. religious innovations); so adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of my Rightly Guided Caliphs.” (Abu Dawood)

The Prophet also said:

“Verily, the best of speech is the Book of God, and the best of guidance is the guidance of (Prophet) Muhammad and the evil of all religious matters are the innovations.  Every innovation (in religion) is a bid’ah and every bid’ah is misguidance, and every misguidance will lead to the Fire.” (Saheeh Muslim)

Imam Malik, may Allah grant him His Mercy, said: “He who introduces aninnovation in the religion of Islam and deems it a good thing in effect claims by that Muhammad betrayed (the trust of conveying) the Divine Message.”

The Dhikr

It is also known as the ‘Wird’ and in Sufism it is the practice of repeating the name of God, and the repetition of a set number of invocations.  These invocations may include beseeching the dead or seeking help from other than God for needs that only God Almighty can grant.

Ahmad at-Tijani, a Sufi Elder, claimed that the wird was withheld by Prophet Muhammad; he did not teach it to any of his Companions.  At-Tijani claimed that the Prophet knew that a time would come when the wird would be made public but the person who would do that was not yet in existence.  As a result, Sufis believe that there is an ongoing chain of transmission between Prophet Muhammad and their current Sheikh.

Dhikr is categorized by the Sufi elders into three categories:

  1. Dhikr of the commoners, in which they are to repeat ‘La ilaaha ill-Allah Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah’ (i.e. there is no God worthy of being worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is the slave of God.)
  2. Dhikr of the high class, which is to repeat the name of God, ‘Allah’.
  3. Dhikr of the elite, which is to repeat the Divine pronoun ‘Hu’, (i.e. He).

At times, the Dhikr is chanted in melodic hymns with eyes closed, rich music may be played (to some this is essential); moreover, some will dance before the Sheikh while saying the Dhikr.  Many a time the Dhikr includes open polytheism (the greatest sin in Islam).  God tells us:

“And it has been revealed to you and to those before you: If you attribute partners to God, your deed shall surely be in vain and you shall certainly be among the losers.” (Quran 39:65)

Interpretation of the Quran

In Sufism, studying the exegesis of the Quran or pondering the meanings of its verses is discouraged, and at times, even forbidden.  Sufis claim that every verse of the Quran has an outward meaning and an inward meaning.  The inward meaning is understood solely by the Sufi elders.  On account of this, Sufis have introduced concepts and words that are totally foreign to the teachings of Islam.

In the Quran God, Almighty encourages us to properly understand His words.  God tells us:

“(This is) a Scripture that We have revealed unto you, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations, and that men of understanding may reflect.” (Quran 38:29)

The exegesis of the Quran is accomplished by studying the Quran along with the Sunnah; these two sources of Islamic law must be taken hand in hand as one integral unit.  We are to understand and interpret the Quran and the Sunnah the way they were understood by the first generations.

Conclusion

As can be seen from the above, Sufism varies quite drastically from the true spirit of Islam.  Sufism inculcates in the follower the will to stop using the basic faculties given to him by God, the Creator of the world and to submit himself to a form of slavery.

Islam, on the other hand, is very simple; there is no need for intermediaries or any saints between man and God, and one is only to submit and surrender themselves to God, Almighty.

 

 

 

zs
Footnotes:

[1] Saif an-Nasr, Seera of Hamidiyyeh, 1956

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A brief look at how Sufism differs and contradicts the teachings of Islam.  This first part defines Sufism, mentions its origins and how it differs from Islam in the concept of belief in God, belief in the Prophet Muhammad (may the blessing and mercy of God be upon him) and belief in Heaven and Hell.

Whether it’s from a documentary on TV or a beautifully designed website, the majority have heard something about ‘Sufis’ and ‘Sufism’; programs on TV have aired, talk show hosts have made mention of them and politicians are taking a keen interest in this group… one has only to type the word ‘Sufi’ on any search engine to be overwhelmed with the videos and pictures that are available.  In cyberspace one can view images and videos of Sufi mystics and elders dancing in rhythmic forms to the background of vibrant melodies.  Disturbing images of mystic Sufi elders jabbing their heads with knives or submitting themselves to various means of torture are all too common as well.  One interested in Islam may get a wrong idea about Islam and Muslims, for to the occident ‘Sufis’ and ‘Sufism’ is just a synonym of Islam and Muslim.

The question that arises, are they really Muslims, and are they practicing Islam? Before jumping the gun, I have to make mention that there are many sites, articles and books that have been written and put together, but most talk about Sufism in an emotional manner, which will lead one to think that they are impartial.  In this humble endeavor, I attempt to write about ‘Sufism’ in an informative manner, far from any biases.

Though only a tiny minority, Sufis can be found in many countries, Muslim and non-Muslim.  But contrary to the belief that Sufism is one ‘group’, Sufism is divided into ‘orders’; each differs from the other in terms of belief and practice.  Some groups are larger than others, and others have gone to rest with the passage of time.  Among the surviving groups today, there is the Tijaani order, the Naqshabandi order, the Qadiri order and the Shadthili order.

Origin of Sufism

In its earliest form, Sufi teachings stressed that an individual should give more emphasis to the spiritual aspects of Islam, a result of many losing sight of this lofty goal of Islam.  After a period of time, however, infamous Sufi elders introduced practices foreign to Islam which were welcomed by its followers.  Practices introduced included dancing, playing music, and even consuming hashish.

The Scholar Ibn al-Jawzi, wrote in his book ‘Talbis Iblis’ about the origin of the name used by this group, saying: ‘They are called by this name in relation to the first person who dedicated his life to worship around the Ka’bah, whose name was Sufah.’

According to this, those who wanted to emulate him called themselves ‘Sufis’.

Ibn al-Jawzi also mentions another reason, he said: ‘they would wear woolen clothes.’ Wool in Arabic is called ‘soof’ and woolen clothes were the sign of an ascetic during those times, since wool was the cheapest form of clothing and was very rough on the skin; in short it was a symbol of a asceticism.  In any case, the word Sufi was not present at the time of Prophet Muhammad and his companions instead first appeared at about 200 Hijrah (200 years after the migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah).

The well known scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah, mentions that the first appearance of Sufism was in Basrah, Iraq, where some people went to extremes in worship and in avoiding the worldly life, such as not seen in other lands.[1]

So what is Sufism?

Sufism is a series of concepts and practices that range from poverty, seclusion, deception, depriving the soul, singing and dancing; and is based on a mix of many different religions and philosophies such as Greek philosophies, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, as well as Islam.  It is often referred to by Sufis themselves or by Orientalists as “Islamic mysticism”, in order to give the impression that Islam is either wholly or partly an dogmatic religion with a set of meaningless rituals.  The very nature of Sufism (or Tasawwuf) opposes what a Muslim is to believe in, this will be explained further when I make mention of Sufi beliefs in general.

Traits of a Muslim

A Muslim always refers back to the Quran and narrations of Prophet Muhammad, may the blessing and mercy of God be upon him, called the Sunnah, in matters of religion.  God tells us in the Quran:

“It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when God and His Messenger have decided a matter, they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair.  And whoever disobeys God and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.” (Quran 33:36)

Prophet Muhammad stressed the importance of following the Quran and Sunnah and the danger of introducing any innovations into Islam.  It is known that the Prophet said: “Whoever does a deed which is not in accordance to my commands (i.e. the Islamic Law), it shall be rejected.” (Saheeh Muslim)

Ibn Mas’ood (a companion of the prophet), may God be pleased with him, said:

“The Messenger of God, may the blessing and mercy of God be upon him, made a straight line on the ground with his hand, then he said, “This is the straight path of God.”  Then he made a (short) line on each side of the straight line; then he said, ‘These (short) lines, each one has a devil inviting people to it.” Then he recited the verse (of the Quran):

“And this is My path straight.  So follow it, and do not follow (other) ways, lest they lead you away from My path.” (Quran 6:153)

Saheeh: Reported by Ahmad and an-Nasaae’e.

A Muslim therefore is required to obey God and His Messenger.  This is the highest authority in Islam.  One is not to blindly follow religious leaders; rather, we as humans are required to use the faculties given to us by God, to think and reason.  Sufism, on the other hand, is a binding order that strips one of free thought and personal discretion and puts him at the mercy of the Sheikh of the order… as it has been said by some Sufi elders, ‘one must be with their Sheikh as a dead person is while being washed’, i.e. one should not argue, or oppose the opinion of the Sheikh and must display total obedience and submission to him.

True Muslims are content with the name “Muslim” given to them by Almighty God, as He says:

“He has chosen you (to conform to His religion) and has imposed no difficulty upon you in religion, the religion of your father Abraham.  He named you ‘Muslims’ both before (in the preceding Divine Scriptures) and in this Book.” (Quran 22.78)

Sufis may insist that they are Muslims, but at the same time some insist on identifying themselves as Sufis rather than Muslims.

Islamic Beliefs at a Glance: Belief in God

In short a Muslim believes in the Uniqueness of God.  He has no partner; no one is like unto Him.  God, Almighty, says:

“There is nothing like unto Him[2]  and He is the all-Hearing and the all-Seeing.” (Quran 42:11)

God is separate from His creation and not a part of it. He is the Creator, and all else is His creation.

Sufis hold a number of beliefs in relation to God, Almighty; of these beliefs are the following:

a)     Al-Hulool: This belief denotes that God, Almighty, dwells in His creation.

b)     Al-It’tihaad: This belief denotes that God, Almighty, and the creation are one, united presence.

c)     Wahdatul-Wujood: This belief denotes that one should not differentiate between the Creator and the creation, for both the creation and the Creator are one entity.

Mansoor al-Hallaaj, a figure much revered by Sufis, said: “I am He Whom I love,” he exclaimed, “He Whom I love is I; we are two souls co-inhabiting one body.  If you see me you see Him and if you see Him you see me.”[3]

Muhiyddin Ibn Arabi, another revered figure in Sufism, was infamous for his statements: “What is under my dress is none but God,” “The slave is the Lord and the Lord is a slave.”[4]

These above beliefs strongly contradict the Muslim belief in the Oneness of God, for Islam is a strict monotheism.  These cardinal Sufi doctrines are not far from some of the Christian beliefs or the Hindu belief of reincarnation. S. R. Sharda in his book, ‘Sufi Thought’ said: “Sufi literature of the post-Timur period shows a significant change in thought content.  It is pantheistic.  After the fall of Muslim orthodoxy from power at the centre of India for about a century, due to the invasion of Timur, Sufism became free from the control of the Muslim orthodoxy and consorted with Hindu saints, who influenced them to an amazing extent.  The Sufi adopted Monism and wifely devotion from the Vaishnava Vedantic school and Bhakti and Yogic practices from the Vaishnava Vedantic school.  By that time, the popularity of the Vedantic pantheism among the Sufis had reached its zenith.”

Belief in the Prophet of God

A Muslim believes that Prophet Muhammad was the Final Prophet and Messenger of God.  He was not divine, nor is he to be worshipped; but he is to be obeyed and one cannot worship God except in a manner that has been sanctioned by Prophet Muhammad.

Sufi orders hold a wide variety of beliefs in relation to Prophet Muhammad.  Of them are those who believe that he was ignorant of the knowledge the Sufi Elders possess.  Al-Bustami, a Sufi Sheikh said: “We have entered a sea of knowledge at the shore of which the Prophets and Messengers stood.”

Other Sufis ascribe some type of divinity to the Prophet saying that all of creation was created from the ‘light’ of Prophet Muhammad.  Some even believe that he was the first of creation and that he is resting upon the throne of God, which is the belief of Ibn Arabi and other Sufis who came after him.

Belief in Heaven and Hell

In short, Muslims believe that both Hell and Heaven are existent now, and are two actual abodes.  Hell is where a sinful person will be punished and Heaven is where a pious person will be rewarded.

Sufis in general believe that one should not ask God to grant them Paradise; they even claim that the Wali (guardian) should not seek it, for it is a sign of one’s lack of intellect.  To them ‘Paradise’ holds an immaterial meaning, which is to receive the knowledge of the unseen from God and to fall in love with Him.

As for Hell, a Sufi believes that one should not try to escape from it.  According to them, a true Sufi is not to be fearful of the Fire.  Some even believe that if a Sufi elder were to spit on the Fire, it would be put out, as Abu Yazid al-Bustami claimed.


Footnotes:

[1] Al-Fataawaa (11/6)

[2] There is no similarity whatsoever between the Creator and His creation in essence, in attributes or in deed.

[3] At-Tawaaseen by Al-Hallaj

[4] Al-Fatoohaatul-Makkiyyah & Al-Fatoohaat

zscurl


HIV is not currently a dominant epidemic in Pakistan. However, the number of cases is growing. Moderately high drug use and lack of acceptance that non-marital sex is common in the society have allowed the AIDS epidemic to take hold in Pakistan, mainly among injection drug users, some male sex workers and repatriated migrant workers. AIDS may yet become a major health issue.Pakistan has seen an eight-fold increase in HIV cases between 2001 and 2012, said a UN report on the eve of the World AIDS Day. The report calls for a rapid increase of voluntary confidential community-based HIV testing and counselling for populations at higher risk in the region.

The report, ‘HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero,” released by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, says that emerging epidemics are becoming evident in 12 countries in Asia and the Pacific region, where an estimated 4.9 million were living with HIV in 2012.

The 12 countries account for more than 90 per cent of people living with HIV and of new HIV infections in the region.

The countries are Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to the report, Pakistan introduced the “third gender” option for identity documents and Nepal recognised “third gender” in the national census.

The report points out that inadequate focus on key populations at higher risk of HIV infection and geographical areas with higher HIV burden mean that most countries in the region are not progressing fast enough to reach global targets on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

While significant progress has been seen in some countries — with some reducing new HIV infections by over 50pc since 2001 — impact appears to be slowing with overall number of new HIV infections across the region remaining largely unchanged in the past five years.

Pakistan is the second largest country in South Asia that stands only a few steps behind India and Nepal in terms of HIV epidemic. Until recently Pakistan was classified as a ‘low prevalence high risk’ country but now Pakistan is in a ‘concentrated phase’ of the epidemic with HIV prevalence of more than 5% among injecting drug users (IDUs) in at least eight major cities. However, the country still has a window of opportunity as the current estimates, using the various latest prevalence estimation models; indicate that the HIV prevalence among general adult population is still below .1%. According to the latest national HIV estimates there are approximately 97,400 cases of HIV/AIDS in Pakistan. 

In a message on the AIDS Day, President Mamnoon Hussain said that as HIV is an issue of global concern it is important that the international community focuses on AIDS prevention and cure in the less developed countries and thereby help make Pakistan and the whole world HIV and AIDS free.

He said that promulgation of ‘Blood Safety Ordinance’ both at federal and provincial levels and supply of diagnostic kits and laboratory consumables and equipment to all provincial, AJK, Fata and federal centres are critical advances in the fight against the disease.

Globally new HIV infections have dropped so as Aids related deaths with effective interventions but in Pakistan new HIV infections have been increasing, according to government and international health organisation estimates.
Pakistan is a signatory to the MDGs; goal 6 of which states that Pakistan will “halt and begin to reverse the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS” by the year 2015. But the key challenges hampering the fight against the disease are stigma attached to the disease and financial constraints.
With global funding gradually decreasing for AIDS and diverting towards other health problems due to drop in cases internationally, the financial worries may turn worse when the government will have to support the AIDS control programme solely after 2015, said National Aids Control Programme (NACP) Manager Muhammad Javaid.
More than 130,000 people are HIV infected in Pakistan and only 7819 are registered. People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in various centres and of them merely 3700 have access to treatment with AIDS drugs – known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). The number has increased from 90,000 in 2011 to 130,000 in 2013, according to estimation of NACP, UNAIDS and World Health Organisation.
In Pakistan, proportion of reported to estimated PLHIV is lowest in the region (3.0 per cent); the ART coverage is approximately 9.8 per cent and number of Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) receiving ART per 100 HIV-positive IDUs (2009) is less than 1 per cent. In addition, laws protecting PLHIV against discrimination and preventing obstacles to access to HIV services for vulnerable sub-populations, are also not existent in Pakistan.
HIV treatment, care and support facilities are available to HIV infected people, in Pakistan, through 18 ART centers, 16 Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Centers and 7 PPTCT sites for pregnant women. Under Global Fund Round 9 till now 11 Community and Home Based Care (CHBC) sites has been established but majority of the treatment, care and support facilities are confined to key cities. In the cities too few people wish to register themselves and among the registered also very few turn up for treatment.
Though, the first case was reported in Pakistan by a migrant worker but the prevalence ratio is not alarming among them and one of the major causes of spread here is unsafe blood transfusion by private blood banks as aforementioned data show around 95 percent patients remain unidentified in the country due to lack of diagnostic and counselling centers and awareness.   Health experts also say that sexual behaviors changing in Pakistan like global trends and homosexuality is becoming one of the major risk factors for the infections here too.
Though, there has been an upward trend in HIV prevalence among  key population that are at risk but Hijra Sex Workers are at higher risk and in contrast to the common perception there has been slight increase in new infections among Female Sex Workers.
A 2011 NACP study has found prevalence of HIV infection 1.6 percent among Male sex workers (MSWs); and 0.6 percent among Female sex workers (FSWs). Amongst ‘Hijra’ & Transgender sex workers prevalence was at 5.2 percent and 27.2 percent among Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) while prevalence of HIV among General public is less than 1 percent.
There is no authenticated data on deaths available but according to registered patients with ART centers about 5800 died with HIV so far.
World AIDS Day is celebrated on 1 December (today) every year to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic.
The day is an opportunity for public and private partners to disseminate information about the status of the pandemic and to encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care around the world, particularly in high prevalence countries.
Between 2011-2015, World AIDS Day has the theme: “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths”.
There is a need to make aware population to protect future generations from this deadly disease since there is no vaccine or no definite cure of AIDS, said the programme manager. Prevention of HIV infection is the only answer and early access to treatment with AIDS drugs for those who test positive as providing AIDS drugs earlier for those infected with HIV would allow them to live longer and healthier lives, and help reduce the risk that they transmit HIV to others. And for this the government administration, religious groups, civil society and the media will have to work in tandem.

More information can be found at: http://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/pakistan/

 


‘Ow, cr** and the police got me runnin’,

the black shades on my eyes,

the mascara tra la la ON! 
Comin’

followin’ me

beepin’ up right

my black car,

ow I’m having a scar,

cause yo I’m a star!

 

p.s. this poem type short rap was composed by me when I was only 15. 😀 

zscurl


They say ”Endings are the new beginnings”. Such people are actually right. I agree with this notion. It’s because when something ends, it denotes new beginning. For example, when a person dies i.e. his life ends, but actually his dreamy and full of fantasy temporary life ends, and a new beginning i.e. the eternal life hereafter begins as soon as he dies. No, I’m not brushing up my philosophy, but actually stating the TRUTH.

Take another example, how the night falls and a stony silence creeps in the whole atmosphere. Come to think of it?!

After darkness, there is always LIGHT. IT’S THE TRUTH AS WELL. The most common epitome that illustrates this statement is the blessed phenomenon of Allah The Almighty upon us that after the night, dawn comes and morning emerges with the sound of the traffic enmeshed with the chirping and tweeting of the birds in the clear, blue sky. The stars and the moon have hidden themselves in a veil, and Mr. Sun appears. 🙂

Too many times, I encounter such people who lose their optimism down to a cellular level when they suffer from a ‘betrayal, fraud or a breakup of their relationships’, or when they flunk in any subject(s) at the school exams.

The aftermath of such loss of hope, loss of love, loss of humanity, and care and respect is very detrimental. Most of the people (like me) can’t bear up the pain of separation and end up as mental patients, depression patients in the mental asylum. Some of them even succumb to committing suicide!! :'(:(

Suicide is becoming a common aspect among teenagers in our society. Even I suffered from loss of love and loneliness and breakup and failures. The pain of getting betrayed is far worser than it seems. Research shows that the pain of breakup/betrayal causes severe pain/damage to the brain, even more severe than an injury. But from what I’ve gathered from my experiences of life is that only the sincere one i.e. A true lover/friend weeps and gets himself/herself afflicted with the injury of brain and heart after a breakup/betrayal. Instead of worrying over bad grades, you guys should even focus harder on your ACADEMICS… Work hard and prove to your teachers and enemies that u are not a garbage. YOU are YOU.. And YOU are a MARVEL.. Keep your morals HIGH. AIM FOR THE HEIGHT. SO, BEGIN YOUR OWN BEGINNING. AND AS FOR THE VULNERABLE ONES, WHO GOT THEIR TRUSTS BROKEN, THEY SHOULD ALSO MOVE ON AND CARRY ON WITH THEIR FOOTSTEPS..THEY SHOULD WALK FURTHER UNTIL THEY REACH THEIR DESTINATION..BECAUSE, THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (P.B.U.H.) SAID: ”THE ONE WHO CHEATS IS NOT ONE OF US.” …

 

P.S. THIS WAS COMPOSED BY ME WHEN I WAS 16 YEARS OLD, IN 2013. 🙂 

zscurl


I am at once very poetic and extremely analytical when I write about love. I dissect this highest of human feelings with superb perception. I consider pure, true LOVE as SACRED and before I give myself the pleasure of writing about it, I must purify my lips with what I call a ”Sacred Fire”. I have to feel the inner energy, the glow of my eyes….

When I came to know LOVE, the songs in my heart became a deep silence, and I needed to ask for advice from someone to tell my heart about my heart and myself about myself. LOVE, according to me, consumes our emotions and passions…. Its hand is rough and sweet, takes hold of us in our loneliness and pours into our heart a drink in which bitterness and sweetness mingle….
The real feelings of LOVE are made of tears and laughter, of sorrow and happiness. It is a strange force that brings to our soul both death and life, sorrow and happiness, generating a dream stronger than life and deeper than death.
When love touches our soul with the tips of its fingers, we gather enough energy and strength to cross valleys, climb mountains to meet the one we love and travel from afar to meet the beloved of our life!…
I divide life into two halves: one half is frozen and the other half burning, and love is that burning half. This divine flame comes from the throne of divinity and I prayed that I be consumed by it. Love, according to me is not created by us but is sent from above and directs everything in our life, as it sees fit. . We are merely a plaything in its hands, knowing not where to go or what to do. When we love we should not say that (Allah/God) is in our heart, but rather that we are in the heart of Allah.
Real and geniune love for me is a self-consuming and self-nourishing fire. The flame is as strong as death, which changes everything and gives nothing but itself and takes nothing but from itself….

zscurl


In the name of God, Compassionate, Merciful بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

What Muslim Men Look For In A Wife

What do Muslim men really want from a woman? What do they look for? What are they attracted to? …Why don’t they listen?

Insha’Allah we shall try to understand what exactly Muslim men look for in potential wives, and why, very often, they don’t get it.

*Disclaimer: much of the following is from various Islamic studies and a result of research. This is not definitive nor applicable to all men, but it is a standard. All subheadings are to be taken as general guidelines. Some content is adult material. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bismillahi’Rahmani’Raheem. In the name of God, entirely Compassionate, especially Merciful.

Beginning with Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ famous marriage criteria, he said:

“A woman is married for four reasons, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her piety. So you should marry the pious woman otherwise you will be losers (your hands will be covered in dust).” Narrated by Abu Huraira, in Sahih Al-Bukhari (Book 62:27, Marriage)

{Read more of the Holy Marriage Criteria on MUSLIMNESS}

Let’s break this hadith down.
1) WEALTH » It is acceptable and encouraged in Islamic culture to marry somebody with the same socio-economic background. People marry rich daughters of businessmen all the time. Although it is common to hear that in South Asian/African countries men pressurise prospective wives and their families for high dowries etc, it is very unlikely a Muslim man will marry purely because his future wife is filthy rich. Wealth is a great turn-on; it’s power, opportunity, intimidating for some (for example if a wife earns more), but real wealth is not tangible. However much a woman or her family earns does not really alter what Muslim men are really looking for.

2) STATUS » During the Prophet’s ﷺ time status was categorised into two.
1) “Nasab“, which means heritage and lineage. Just as women hope to marry into ‘a good family’, Muslim men love the idea of marrying into a ‘religious family’ – being connected to a woman whose family have ethical commitments and she herself is morally upright.

2) The other type of lineage is “Hasab“, which is what the ancestors have done that distinguish the potential partner. “Status” for contemporary Muslims can mean respect, famousness or achievements. We may deny that social ranking means nothing to us but there is a difference between marrying the daughter of a farmer and the daughter of a professor, or a woman who is a farmer and another who is the professor. Most Muslim men do not use status as a measure of success for potential wives but they do tend to look into it for reasons of prestige and influence. Men will look at a woman’s current work in terms of how she may behave in their marriage or raise their future children. IQ and personality is involved. This is explained better further below (see: Personality).

3) BEAUTY » Now, for men, marrying someone for her beauty “jamali ha” is basically love at first/second/third sight, and it happens – a marriage based on looks, I mean. Or it can be a deeper attraction which transcends into her “inner beauty”, and this happens too, cliché though it may be. Basically what attracts a man most is a woman’s femininity. But the problem here is that Muslim men do not know how to articulate this very personal criteria appropriately.

In the above hadith Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is telling men that it’s o.k. to be captured by outward attractions but to not fall in love with the ephemeral nature of beauty. Initial attractions will be lost with ageing and if there is no or little appreciation of a woman’s other non-sexual assets, that marriage will breakdown pretty easily. This is why women are drawn to a mans’ character first (inner beauty) while most men require a visual beauty, that’s packed with stimulating contents.

4) PIETY » When men say they are looking for “religious” wives they each refer to very different attributes. They might mean simple women who don’t wear bright colours or follow fads; it may be directed at women not orientated towards the material world, “dunya“, but the events after death “akhirah“; it may mean a woman who has already completed her 5 basic pillars of faith or just one who wears the full H’N’J combo: Hijab-Niqab-Jilbab. Or it may mean all of the above.

Realistically, men don’t know how to clarify their pious wish-lists. Still, they hope for a woman who is connected to God in her daily life outside of prayers, as well as being aware of the nature of life’s challenges. Men tend to tick off a woman’s deen straightforwardly but it’s not as black and white as it seems, which comes back to outward beauty. The package may look religious, but without a conversation on worries and ambitions, you may later find she’s all about the wedding day and shoes.

Be blessed – Imam Suhaib Webb, The Lesser Of 2 Evils, 2013*
‘You see, we often misunderstand the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ where he said, “Marry a woman for four reasons…” This also means, “Marry a man for four reasons…” Unfortunately no one tells the sisters this, so they sometimes think men get to choose and they don’t.

The four reasons the Prophet ﷺ mentioned were beauty, wealth, family and deen (religion). The Prophet ﷺ then said, “Choose the one with religion, may you be blessed.”

Many people think that this hadith means that a person must only marry a person who is religious, and everything else doesn’t matter. This is not the correct understanding of this hadith. It means if you can find a woman/man who is religious that’s good. If you find a man who is religious and handsome, that’s better. If you find a woman who is religious and beautiful you have two out of four good qualities. And if you find someone with all four qualities, you’ve hit the jackpot! That’s why the Prophet ﷺ didn’t marry anyone when he was married to Khadijah (ra). She was beautiful, she came from a good family, she was wealthy, and she had deen. She was the epitome of the complete woman.’

A note from sh. Yasir Qadhi,

“Understanding the facts of life and things that men do may gross you out. Guys are very simple; they don’t worry like women, they don’t analyse or think too far ahead. He will take a relationship for granted. For men it’s more about ‘what can she do for me?’ Men want physical services from woman and there are key differences – he says it’s the ‘things she does for me’ whereas women will say it’s ‘how he makes me feel.’ To Muslim women: don’t be insulted or upset for it is by Allah’s creation that men are way more simple and want basic needs. Of course there is a a need for complex love, but it is not an overriding yearning.”

 

The 3Ds: Drive, Determination & Disposition
While it’s not high on their list, it is clear that men find a woman’s drive, determination and energy attractive qualities in a life partner.

1) DRIVE. A woman with a zest for life tends to have a more exciting presence than one who is reserved or afflicted with sloth. Men see women’s drive as a chart of their mood. It’s action, it’s motion, it reminds them of themselves. And not surprisingly, men prefer a woman in a generally positive frame of mind.

2) DETERMINATION. Determination is an admirable quality which shows this woman will not give up no matter what Allah throws at her. She will fall. But she will get up. With natural instincts to problem-solve themselves, men can tolerate complainers (mild “nagging”) but not a person who gives up at every obstacle.

3) DISPOSITION. A pleasing disposition overlaps with sound mental health and an easy-to-get-along-with personality. Is your wife-to-be a worrier or a warrior? Is she unhappy and moody? Does she get along with everyone? As the hadith above suggests, a pretty face and religious background are excellent, but they will not necessarily indicate whether she gets easily abusive or jealous.

And now, onto the check-lists.

• Looks
→ What Do We Mean By looks?
For men, looks are incredibly important and most will openly and shamelessly say they want someone they are physically attracted to. Saying that though, men are not as concerned about looks or as worried as women can be.

→ Dress Sense
Women don’t expect a service through a man’s appearance – his good looks are a bonus. Men on the other hand need visual solace, eye-candy (whatever you want to call it) from a Muslim wife. A ladylike and dignified presentation is reassuring. Similarly, a woman that can ‘work it’ in pj’s, an apron or less brings a needed stimulation. Men look forward to showing off their elegantly sophisticated wives, as well as keeping the simpler beauty to themselves. If men could, they would say: clothing should show your confidence. It’s a case of believing in what you wear.

→ Fertility, Stability & Purity
Visual attractions are a primary factor for men yet this appearance isn’t just about how voluptuous a woman’s shape is are or how large her eyes are. Appearances give a sense of fertility, stability and purity. Men do analyse a woman’s dress sense somewhat subconsciously and they do like stylish women, even when they deny it (keyword: ‘simple’). Make-up, that is, face paint, only covers up the natural beauty a man desires: the smiles and sweet perfumes which men like to ‘feel’. Of course it is a sunnah (prophetic tradition) to dress fantastic for your partner in crime, but in a woman’s daily single-life attire, men pick up important information at the outside to see whether there’s natural femininity on the inside.

• Experience & Age
→ Why Age Is A Factor
Now that women are receiving more college degrees than men according to the US Census, and outperforming in the UK’s employment sector, men are looking for women who are both intelligent and educated. Id est: interesting and accomplished.

Age is a direct correlative to sexuality and fertility. While estrogens (primary female sex hormones) impel women to choose men who are assertive and powerful, androgens in men ensure they look for youthful women and their apparent childbearing abilities.

It is true that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ wanted us to have many children. “Marry loving (passionate) and fertile women,” he encouraged his Companions, “because I want to compete with other nations (in size).” Thus sex for procreation has a reward and an impact on the community unity.

Ibn al-Jawzi said, “Sexual intercourse (of two pious Muslims) brings the likes of Imam Ahmad and Imam Shaf’i […] By Allah! Sexual intercourse that produces such is better than a 1000 years of worship.”

Eager to continue their lineage, Muslim men look for women who are ready to share those parenting roles. They see a woman’s biological make-up as something that benefits the Ummah, that can take the responsibility of nurturing a little Muslim, and provide the sex to create them.

→ Personal Baggage
In addition to age and youth, and this is something to note for women – men look for dependable character. Men want a life partner who will be reliable and faithful. A wife who will stand by their side and defy divorce rates. Experience explains whether a potential wife is capable of being a man’s rock and this comes down to assessing baggage.

Everyone has baggage. Everyone is affected by past experiences or problems with family or friends or relationships; it is the burden of the human soul. If someone claims to be totally unscathed, they are living in la-la land. The question is not whether a person has baggage, but how a person handles their baggage. If a woman is crippled by her experiences, it’s not good. If all she can talk about is her horrible childhood, poor relationship track record, traumatic divorce – she is trapped in the past. She isn’t carrying her baggage, she’s lying underneath it. Men look for a woman who is comfortable with her history.

Men want to know certain things that have shaped the woman she is today, however there’s a Muslim etiquette to sharing personal information prior to marriage. New Muslims in particular will face probing. Although there is a necessity to share medical history and traumatic events that could affect the marriage, there is no obligation to spill the bitter truth about everything. Everyone lies. Men lie, women lie, whether Muslim or not. As a man you cannot take an absolutionist position to a woman who admits a few mistakes. Honest women admit their imperfections.

Men do not want to babysit their wives. They want someone who’s lived a life and knows how to support him. Guys: she should be interested in your struggles and strivings. She should be your biggest fan and waving your flag.

• Personality
→ Intellectuality Verses Education
For men, intellect and playfulness are two highly desired qualities in women. Every man likes to have an intelligent wife who can advise and support him in day to day matters. Education and intellect aren’t the same thing. All deep thinkers don’t have degrees and lots of PhD graduates don’t think at all (!) A man is attracted to the woman who appreciates his thoughts, who is actually listening. Intelligence comes in different forms – a logical skill, emotional intelligence, a creative talent, or a scientific imagination – there are many areas of intelligence. Men look for a woman who can meet him on his intellectual level. A woman who is exciting, who can challenge and engage him but not overpower every conversation.

The best way for a man to test whether personality meshes is to make observations when interacting. Check how rigidly you define masculinity and femininity. Some men expect women to live tradition stereotypes of feminine roles. If she violates your code of womanhood or she’s offended by your vision, look for a different woman or recheck your ideals. Rigidity is a sign of insecurity.

→ The Funny Bone
Humour is far more important than most think it is. A man doesn’t look for a ‘funny woman’ or one with a ‘good’ sense of humour. He looks for a woman who laughs at the same things he does. Some people cannot stand sitcoms, others have a crude collection of jokes for the mosque after-party. It can be alienating when a group is gripped by hilarity but you don’t find that thing funny. Instead of feeling like a pariah, you want a sense of belonging. Humour is a very basic response, unique from person to person yet recognised the world over. A man will say “I love to laugh”, to which a woman will respond, “to what? do you find everything funny?” And vice versa.

• Wealth
→ Women, Perfume And Prayer
The wealth of a woman is not in what she has, it’s in what she protects. Islam motivates men towards marrying women with taqwah (piety) because that is what lasts. However, it’s difficult for Muslims to find the middle ground.

More often than not Muslim men fall into extremes. One says, “I don’t care how she looks, I only want a religious woman.’ The other extreme says, “I want my hijabi supermodel.” The unnatural media portrayal of women has a part to play in this. Television and print vomits out beauty whores who are paid to look super-skinny with surgery and Photoshop. Even Cindy Crawford said “I wish I looked liked Cindy Crawford!”

Brother, no matter how beautiful your wife is, you will desire something else. Trapped in a world where temptations do not cease and every eye wants the forbidden fruit, ‘Imaan (faith) in Allah and control is the only thing that will keep a Muslim grounded. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ recognised this unquenchable desire, saying to anyone attracted by another woman, “Go to your wife! She has what she has!” (A note for polygamy, perhaps)

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ also said:

“Beloved to me from your world are women and pleasant scents, and my greatest pleasure is in prayer.” (Ahmad)

In Islam, women are not sexual objects; granted they are sexual beings, but their sexuality is not for sale or public property. Men desire women more than women desire men (read that again). Created with “Rahm“, Compassion, and carrying “ar-rahm“, the womb, women are naturally more family orientated, closer to Allah and more loving. There is no shame in being the woman Allah pre-ordained – unpretentious, dignified, chaste.

When Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said he loved women, perfume and prayer, he was not separating one from the other. He included their qualities and their effect upon one another. A man who marries a woman with taqwah will be inspired to pray, and therein lies the “greatest pleasure” because it builds another bridge towards Allah – hence, “half your deen“. By marrying, men therefore gain a means to protect and express themselves lawfully,

“The Creator requires men to make more effort to reach (women’s) degree of fitra.” – Abdal-Hakim Murad

 

• The All Important Connection
When you’re motivated by Allah, things fit into place. The Prophet ﷺ said, “The best enjoyment is a righteous wife (or husband).” There are some things in this world which, when benefitting us, we love them. The best coolness for eyes though is salat (prayer). Following up from the point above, when two people marry with the correct intention and attitude, it becomes a rewarding act and brings a peace similar to prayer. Men being the simple creatures they are however, will forget what they’re doing.

Three things mistaken for compatibility
1) Sexual attraction – the trouble with sexual attraction is that couples need it to succeed, but it is not enough. As its the most powerful it can seem to be enough. At the beginning of a marriage you’re caught up in the dance of desire and you “click” physically. Five years later you’re sat silently staring at each other across the dinner table making du`a Allah gives you something better. Why? Because that relationship was based on sexual attraction alone. If you dive in just because you’re excited, you might ignore the red flags. Such as…

2) Falling in love – as the ultimate drug trip, falling in love is dangerous especially for men in that when you fall for someone, you don’t care if they love you back. You persist in this madness and feel they should love you back. If the love isn’t returned, it isn’t a tragedy. Lust is about ‘me’, it’s selfish; love is about ‘us’. But a Muslim marriage is ultimately about Allah – receiving love. Love for dunya and people seems to carry an approval from the universe: “this person is perfect for you, she’s right in every way possible. MARRY HER NOW.” But you need to think with a clearer head to avoid a broken heart as too often we fall in love with the wrong people. That feeling of ‘love’ makes us forget what we’re looking for = a partner in crime. For life.

3) Ideals – Another aspect men mistake for compatiblity is a dream relationship for himself and his future wife. He wants a type of relationship based on Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and Khadija’s marriage, but he doesn’t know what type of woman he wants. If we analyse the beautiful personality of Khadija we see she carries three top characteristics of many working Muslim women: Financial independence, a managerial position and a previous marriage. That is not the type of relationship most men look for – but it is the type of woman our beloved leader Khadija (ra) was. That’s the difference.

• What Muslim Men Really Need
It’s a large reality bite to swallow but at the crux of the marriage, a man is looking for what his wife can do for him, and 4 particular services she can provide. *Women ma women, put your feminism away, take it as empowerment.

(4) Maintaining a home – Men look for and need a woman who is adept at household chores. Washing, cooking and cleaning. These are basic mothering services. Being able to cook delicious food is what he really expects from his lady love. If he loves your food, he will love you more. As the saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is his stomach. Note that for women, the exact same applies with different effects: men washing dishes is like foreplay for women. He’s at home, maintaining the house together, pulling his weight, women love that effort. Men, get your apron on!

(3) Men look for admiration – They want to be number one, admired by their wife, respected. A man wants love from a nagging-free woman. He will hate being told what to do and what not to do. Respect has to be earned, nonetheless, Muslim men expect their wives to hold a high regard of them. (And not mention their shortcomings and mistakes – men’s egos are so large they have postal codes).

(2) Being left alone in solitude – Men need alone time to think by themselves, to reflect, to not expose everything. Just as the Prophet ﷺ spent time in a cave, Muslim men have a mental cave in which they retreat to figure out a problem or recharge. Women talk out their issues, while men want solace to find a solution.

“Men don’t think too deep. Feed them, love them, give him what he needs and he’ll be your slave.” – Sh. Yasir Qadhi.

And the number one thing Muslim men look for in a wife. The number one thing?

→ Halal sex ← 
Shocking, isn’t it.

(1) Halal sex – Intimacy is the only unique thing a woman can provide that men are powerfully dependent on. If you look to the dating culture, a man’s aim is to get her into bed. He will fulfil her material wants, show signs of adoration, all the things to get her to comply, but this is just foreplay that leads to the end goal. Sex. The maxim changes: the way to a man’s heart is slightly below his stomach. But our Muslim culture is not like “theirs”. We do not date, we do not give up our “services” with flowers and a wink.

• Sex, Sex, Sex… Yawn, Sex, Sex
In a wholly Muslim marriage, both men and women’s primary need is catered to. Men crave intimacy while women crave emotional care. Men’s first need is guaranteed in marriage as Allah stipulates it for a wife, and financial comfort, love and support is obliged on men. What one spouse needs, the other has to give. A woman with this knowledge is in a powerful position, since technically all she needs to “please” her husband is meet this one need. These huquq (rights) are from Islamic Shari`ah and unfortunately an area which Muslims haven’t educated themselves on.

The consequences of this mean that women freak out at the realisation of their husband’s sex drive, and men wonder why their wives aren’t on an equal level. By the age of 18 most Muslim men are aware of their sexuality, most Muslim women are not. And so the limits, permissible methods of expression and being aware of one’s body, is muddled up and too sensitive a topic to discuss.

More on gender differences later insha’Allah.

A note for our brothers – sex is good, but sex is not god. ‘Good sex’ is not enough, and a woman will enter a marriage with a different agenda altogether.

Sex is the number 1 cause of tension in most marriages. The reason being that the couple has a different take on what to expect and give. Thus, men are searching for a woman who is aware in this department, a woman who knows and will learn how to treat a man. Sisters: that’s you.

Love is action. You start ‘in love’ but you need to be ‘loving’ in your relationship. All too often men expect to receive bedroom thirlls without starting the fire as it were, (for want of a better expression). As soon as you as a husband feed the needs of your wife – even if it’s housework – you’ll see the increase her attention towards you. It’s an amazing circle of love which only existed because of Allah.

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Qur’an, 30:21)

• Looking For Your Missing Turban
Clothing protects us from external elements, the sun and cold. “Like a garment”, spouses protect one another from haram elements in society. Pornography, illicit relationships and degrading behaviour. Allah mentions the act of intimacy literally as one spouse covering the other, a metaphor for a type of beautification, without which, you are naked. And while the magic of marriage and eternal sakoon (tranquility) feels far-fetched in our grey days, the bond is incomparable to any other pleasure.

‘Aisha (ra) said,

“I heard the Prophet ﷺ saying: ‘Souls are like conscripted soldiers; those whom they recognise, they get along with, and those whom they do not recognise, they will not get along with.’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Finally, a powerful quote to end with a grin:
“Marriage is the price men pay for continual sex. Sex is the price women pay for marriage.”

Understand this to empower yourselves and your marriage.zscurl

Courtesy: zaufishan

 


In the name of God, Compassionate, Merciful بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم
We will stay forever
Learn what Muslim women are really looking for in a marriage, understand their biology and definitions of love.

*Disclaimer: much of the following is in note form from various Islamic studies and a result of research. My personal opinions will be highlighted and all subheadings are to be taken as general guidelines. Some content is adult material. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Through the ages various psycho-social theories have arisen in support of one basic scientific fact: men and women’s make-up is not the same. They have vastly different agendas for marriage and they think differently. They are in fact complete opposites.

Given that our fitra (natural instincts) and our DNA is from Allah, we must unravel how we are different to create solid Muslim marriages. A catchphrase I have with a twist is ‘women are from Madina, men are from Makkah’. We live and think in two separate worlds therefore we won’t “get” the other until we cross the border and study one another. And this is how we do that. Insha’Allah.

How Women Fall In Love
Modern biologists have scientifically narrowed down our process of ‘falling in love’. It is no more glorious than a chemical imbalance. Because Muslims believe in Allah’s perfect design, we always value our connections with people as part of Divine creation. Love is therefore rewarding.

In various cultures the “L” word (no, not that word), is a taboo emotion that is not really understood, is side-swept as something dirty or rarely expressed healthily. Love is different to lust. Lust is a desire that if acted upon pollutes your ‘imaan (faith) and well being. Islam tells us love is normal, it is from Allah, it is necessary for any bond to exist and it is part of our religion.

• The Science Bit
Both men and women have ‘sex hormones’ that are known as 1. testosterone and 2. estrogen .

Men have up to 20 times more testosterone than women, which primarily promotes the male reproductive organs. Testosterone in men – and this is something to note – also promotes the sexual characteristics in male behaviour and appearance. So, testosterone enhances a man’s build, it creates the shape of his jawline, his man-hands or the way he walks and speaks. It is what switches on his high sexuality. Basically testosterone makes a man, a man. Or as I would say, it makes a man, a sexy man. *Preferences and attractions differ.

Estrogen on the other hand is a women’s arena, and I add here for the medical humour, it is known as the “love hormone”. Yes, you guessed it, for women it’s all about the love.
While there is disputable evidence in support of oxytocin’s role in women’s sexuality, its primary functions lie in female reproduction and is significantly higher in women than men. Higher levels of estrogen generally lead to more emotional sensitivity, a positive emotional response and lower stress levels. Pregnant women also produce oxytocin. Recently a study at the University of Switzerland revealed that new mothers with lower levels of oxytocin are more prone to feeling post-natal “blues”. Therefore, more oxytocin = more emotional consideration, or a more loving nature.

• “Falling” In Love
When a man falls in love with a woman the normal levels of testosterone which otherwise make a man manly and tough, reduces significantly, and the level of estrogen increases which turn him into a softer, more bubbly fellow. He’s happier, he’s filled with energy, he’s being ‘romantic’, he’s emotionally charged and he’s probably praying harder. (*He may also be dellusional, daydreaming and excited, if you catch my meaning). When you can’t think straight and you’ve contemplated life-threatening events, congratulations, you’re in love (!)

Sexual appetite will no doubt increase but now there is a stronger attachment at stake: his wife’s welfare is his primary concern, not his own satisfaction. Women are attracted to this loving behaviour because it means men are paying them quality attention, they are being pursued, and I would surmise to say this phase does not last. I’m sorry.

This is where you need to ask yourself is this really love I’m feeling?

For women, an emotional and sexual attachment follows the same path as men but where the opposite hormones tip the scales. When in love, a woman’s level of testosterone increases. This means a woman’s sexual energy increases to almost match up with a man’s and both are giving and receiving what the other needs. They both show loving signs to one another. Although this biological data and understanding is observed from all human relationships, here we are talking about the intimacy within halal (lawful) marriage between a Muslim man and woman. Therefore love outside of marriage, while perfectly normal and involuntary, is not something to act upon.

‘It is here when the Muslims have to step up and realise that marriage was most definitely more than just “falling in love”, eroticism and the short-term. Rather it is for the sake of Allah, it is for the sake of the children, and it’s for the sake of the community at large who need to see people battle it out and suppress their desires for risk, excitement and throwing away stressful responsibility…’
– Imam Abu Eesa Niamatullah.

How Muslim Women Choose Potential Husbands
Generally, Muslim women look for stability and leadership qualities in men. They are attracted to men who have various and successful roles in inter-personal relationships. This is in addition to wanting a severely: (1) compassionate, (2) communicative and (3) active friendship. I say severely because often women demand too much from men. And these are traits that most men do not think about too deeply themselves.

Women fall prey to emotional dissatisfaction more quickly than men do (ISNA). W. Bradford Wilcox (director, National Marriage Project, University of Virginia) says:

“While men tend to be more content with the status quo, women now place more of a premium on being fulfilled in their marriages – having their dreams for intimacy, for sexual satisfaction, for challenge, all wrapped up into their marriage. That’s a hard order to fill, and these people are likely to end up on the rocks because they learn pretty quickly that no one person is capable of delivering all their deepest hopes for meaning and purpose and happiness”.
(Women’s Health, March 2010)

It’s not enough that he’s the masjid imam, a fireman, a skilled public speaker and an avid fundraiser; he has to submit to your entire family, be the most pious man you ever met, be from the most pious family in the country, own a separate house, be superhuman and be willing to share all of his problems with his “soul-mate”: You.

That’s a nice list to base a marriage on, but that’s not how it works in reality.

Allah has designed men and women as a pair that fit. Like jigsaw pieces, both are shaped differently and have different functions. There is not a single pair that will fit perfectly *in every possible meaning, and not every pair will last. This is important to understand and accept before we try to suss one another out.

And for women whose list of 3 top things to look for in a husband includes 1 material (car, money, house), 1 obscure (incredible physique) and 1 impossible (eternal happiness): you are not yet ready for marriage.

So let’s get in a woman’s mind and break this down. The usual suspects on a Muslim woman’s wish-list (in no particular order) includes:

• Looks
→ What Do We Mean By looks?
We say that “looks don’t matter”, that Allah does not measure our physical dress and appearance. But we do. In our relationships we are attracted to what our minds find beautiful. For women, “looks” could mean how physically handsome a man is, how he dresses or how he presents himself. Women overlook scars and dents, and most women do not even contemplate a man’s “package”.

→ Beards, Beards, Beards
Many women are attracted to bearded men (preferential). Not a scraggly, unkempt birds’ nest but a maintained, neat beard. Most sisters say a beard shows a man’s “manliness”. A neat beard is linked to good hygiene and a point on the “religious” card, as mentioned below.

→ Do Appearances Matter?
Contrary to the interpretations of Muslim female hayaa (modesty), women are very visual and attracted to men with the same bias and objectification. There is little control over which man a woman is physically attracted to and looks are not usually a deciding factor for marriage. Women love men’s bodies as much as men love women’s, and this is Allah’s design. Education, upbringing and Allah ta`la has simply “encultured” Muslim women to maintain a higher modesty component, which is why they are not as concerned with men’s looks. Muslim women DO use physical attraction as an initial hook.

But there is a difference. While men can fall in love at first sight more easily, women tend to look deeper into appearances. They analyse dress sense, smartness and even style. Women are more astute than men. They can pick up complex information just by looking. They see a man’s professionalism, attitude, fitness, ancestry, openness, health, uptightness or easy-going-ness… whatever. The average man will think this strange. However, even in Islam, how you present yourself speaks volumes about your lifestyle. And it’s the lifestyle that women want and see in how you look. Ergo: smarten up.

→ Real Couples
You see couples come in all shapes and sizes and you can see that that relationship wasn’t built on looks (alone). We judge each other mercilessly but we get pudgier as we age, and we can forgive the sagging, we CAN be forgiving when older. We know that looks fade, so after the first 5 years it is what’s inside each person that holds a marriage together. As you get older you realise that youth is mistaken for beauty. Yes, they have this and that asset but a wise Muslim knows looks are temporal and if the attraction goes deeper to a mutual love for the whole person, then every freckle, greying hair and imperfection is still accepted as perfect.

• Experience & Age
→ Why Age Is A Factor
When a Muslim woman carries out a background check on her potential husband (I’m kidding), she looks at several factors. How old is he? Where has he travelled? What does he do? What was his life’s journey? Who was he with? What did he learn? Mark my words that women care about a man’s past lives. While a not-as-Islamic past is kindly overlooked (insha’Allah), it helps show who that man is today therefore this area should be discussed with discretion.

Most women prefer older men because they are thought to have a wiser grasp on both the Muslim world and all its affairs, and the secular world with all its affairs. Generally, culture dictates that a husband should exceed his wife in age by a few years (4 years) as a round-about guideline since men mature much slower. Saying that though, a wider age gap is not as controversial as it used to be. More Muslim women choose to marry men a decade older than them, or younger. And this is because of the maturity factor: For example, despite a woman being 35 years old and her husband 25, his maturity as a responsible, independent and considerate person shows that he can reason and behave to her level, or above. This understanding is what is attractive to a woman; a man who has a similar outlook to the world as she does.

• Character & Behaviour

Think about why the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said regarding men:

“Whoever comes to you and you’re pleased with their deen and character (khuluq) marry them!”

→ What is character?
Character is the principles you say you have. What is behaviour? Behaviour is the principles you show in action. A man’s character is important for women because it affects them more than how much “deen” or “muslimness” he claims to have. Not only is measuring “deen” a subjective variant, it’s not a guarantee of a character you can reasonably live with. It should be, but it isn’t. You can be a devout Muslim in prayer and charity but if you have a temper, it affects your wife and by extension, the health of your marriage.

Women are all about putting sentiments into action. If you say you want her, show it, if you say you like her family, show it. If you say she’s the most amazing person you have ever met, prove it daily and frequently. Women want to see men back up their words with action and this isn’t about buying her “stuff”, it’s about following through your plans with sincerity. This is why years later in a marriage during a heated argument she will yell, “You never keep your promises” (even if you mostly did). She will remember the one occasion you promised to fix some broken appliance and 5 years later, you hadn’t. Your lack of action here is very much a small negative on the larger scale of things but it can build up and hurt a woman deeply. She will see it as neglect, inconsideration and *buzzwords* a lack of love.

A man’s character backed up by considerate actions shows a woman love. And she wants this type of attentive love from a man.

• Family & Background
→ Do Muslim women take a man’s family into account for marriage?
Yes. Sometimes a lot of pressure is put on finding a man attached to a noble family. According to Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ hadith about women, a marriage can take place where the status of the family is a selling point, but the active deen is better. This is because no one person represents his entire flock and no matter how wealthy, “religious” or famous the man’s background is, it does not not indicate his real day-to-day character and behaviour.

For many Muslim women though, this is the case because immediate families wish the best for their daughters and ask them to find a “good man from a good family”. Adversely, marriages do take place where nobody hears from the man’s family and later questions pop on heritage and newly discovered medical conditions. I believe a balance is required from the outset. A couple needs to discuss the interaction they will have with one another’s family, what role and level of involvement the “grandparents” will have with their parenting, and who the black sheep is that not everybody talks to (we all have one). Basically, the in-laws are part of the equation for women, but not a deciding factor in getting married to the man they love.

Eventually, after family nasiha (advice) is sought and the decision is settled between a couple, families need to accept their adult choice, as Allah said,

“…Do not prevent them from [re]marrying their husbands when they agree between themselves in a lawful manner…” (Qur’an, 2:232)

• Wealth 
Let me tell you that real Muslim women do not give a tutankhamun about what a man owns. When women say they prefer men in financially stable situations it means he needs to have some form of regular halal income, since he is legally obliged to provide for the family in Shari`ah (Islamic law). Demanding a new apartment or house is not part of the marriage package but with all the tension newly weds face living with the in-laws, one would advise looking into separate living arrangements as soon as possible. Extra wealth – the man’s car, his pool house, his savings, whatever, are not in a woman’s list of marriageable criteria. Saying that, it is fair to maintain the standard of life the woman is accustomed to.
{Read about men’s Islamic marriage rights on MUSLIMNESS.COM}

• Education & Profession:
For men who feel inferior for being unemployed or not earning a substantial income, rest assured that most women do not ask for or need a luxurious life. A foundation of trust, continuous love and honesty builds a successful marriage, not an accumulation of ching-ching (money) and certificates. Muslim women want real wealth in the form of good treatment, open communication and love.

A man’s education will reflect in his mannerisms and attitude, which is why most educated Muslim women today aspire for marrying someone with a similar if not equal pursuit of academia. They want to be able to have deeper conversations, to share household responsibilities, to talk about pertinent (or random) topics that both husband and wife are knowledgeable in. You’d be interested to know that where Muslim families encourage their children to marry into identical professions, for instance, doctors who marry other doctors, the divorce rate is higher. Why?

“Over time, sleep deprivation, working long hours without complaint, and coping with intense patient emotions on a daily basis may cause doctors to become emotionally distant. Marital discord is often the result of work-related stress and the inability to wind down after work – the training years in particular, are not a time for marital growth”. (Islamic Horizons Magazine)

When we get down to it, the best of men do not need degrees and secular or Islamic education does not prevent bad character (read above). Thus, it is usually families and not women who place professions on such high pedestals. If anything, I would advise Muslim women to search for man with a PhD in courtesy.

• The All Important Connection
→ What is compatibility and why is it important?
For our parents and grandparents’ generation, a marriage was based on family approval, or social honour or cultural balance (i.e., he/she needed to be from the same background). Immigrant Muslim families who inherited these customs meant that future generations were expected to follow the same marriage patterns. While this method of searching and approving a spouse has been successful to some extent, culture has nearly always dominated the Islamic aspects. And Islam says above all, you need to be compatible.

“If it so happens that there is love between a man and a woman, the most effective means of warding off fitnah (temptation) and immorality is for them to get married, because his heart will still remain attached to her if he does not marry her, and that may lead to fitnah…” – Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “There is nothing for two who love one another like marriage.”

Compatibility does not limit itself to having the same background or language. Even if you feel you “click” with one another and you have the symptoms of hardcore love, can you both carry an adult conversation? Can you combine your lifestyles to create a new one?

Compatibility means having shared values. You both need to talk about the important areas of life so you’re both on the same page. He needs to understand you as a woman. He needs to “get” you and accept you as you are, not what he thinks you are. This is a connection that’s built only when you actually meet one another, which is why the Prophet ﷺ encouraged meeting one another publicly before marriage. It builds compatibility, it builds love. Very often cultural standards prohibit these meetings or families will stamp their approval and rejection without informing the “singletons”. Such family customs warrant respect but not to the detriment of Islam’s freedoms. As a Muslim woman you NEED to have a connection with your potential husband that will carry decades into your marriage and help overcome obstacles. And here you need to ask yourself: what principles and actions do I value the most which I hope my future husband will also respect?

Most of us believe that opposites attract, and they do to an extent, but familiarity attracts more. Women will secretly want the bad-boy and the danger of a rebel but this is not marriage material. Marrying somebody who is the complete opposite to you also means there needs to be something else that connects both of you; if you’re a tree-hugger and he’s a corporate worker, when and how will you negotiate activities to avoid getting bored?

Advice To Single Brothers Looking For Wives:
→ When you say want someone who is “pious, modest, smart and caring” you’re generalising about the Muslimah population. You need to be specific and you need to know what you would like to see in your wife – in addition to the standard. If you don’t know why you want to get married (besides sex, children and food) and you don’t know what you’re looking for, you need to check what it is you’re bringing to your marriage.

→ Avoid putting yourself down, even if it’s self-effacing humour. When you say, “I’m not a social guy” or “I’m not that good at talking”, this is what we call an EPIC fail. Women like sociable men, confident men, men who know what they’re doing and where they’re going, with goals and self-awareness. However, there’s a fine line between confidence and sounding cocky, a fine line between sharing ideas and taking charge. Women want husbands, a partner in crime, not a manager. In the talks developing before marriage you will be trying to show that you’re an all-round easy-going communicator with academic social skills and some degree of open interaction. Saying, “eh, I don’t have any interests in life” makes you sound like a bore. And yes, you are worth it, otherwise she wouldn’t be talking to you.

→ Make a list of at least 10 specific things you hope to receive from your marriage. Make a list of 10 specific things you hope to bring to your marriage. Trust me, the woman you want to marry has already made that list. And it’s longer than yours.

→ Watch out for the ‘red flags’ in women that show she may not be prepared for marriage – overriding attractions to materialism or the wedding day, childish impatience, a defeatist attitude, emotional instability. Be her support now, encourage her now to make du`a (supplication), and put her trust in Allah. Perhaps more importantly, watch out for the good signs that meet your personal criteria. Don’t hang about for the sister to make a move, take appropriate action. Be courageous, don’t give up your marriage intentions.

→ READ CAREFULLY: You do not need to be a superhuman. You do not need to buy her the world. You do not need to promise her the world. You do not need to make her life a paradise on earth. I say this because (A) you cannot and (b) you won’t be able to maintain it. Eternal happiness is reserved for Jannah, not Earth. Make realistic goals, be pragmatic. Real Muslim women don’t expect “happily ever afters” because they don’t exist; they want motivation, support and love. The magic three words you need to overuse in your vocabulary are “Allah Loves You”. (As well as “I Love You”, that’ll get you far too, if you know what I mean).

→ Don’t joke about polygamy or divorce – this is hurtful in scopes you couldn’t comprehend. Do not openly flirt, make references to sex or how effective you will be at procreating – this is embarrassing and crude. Sex is a part of marriage, we get it, but maintain your modesty.

→ You cannot ask for your “perfect Khadija” or “somebody like Khadijah bint Khuwaylid”. Khaijda (ra) was perfection for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, an ideal woman. As a woman, Muslims aspire to her roles but “Khadija” is the maximum standard of womanhood, not the minimum. If you set the bar this high, you will be disappointed in a wife who turns out to be human. And your potential wife will expect you to be her “perfect Muhammad”. Everyone has flaws.

→ Avoid high expectations of a niqab-wearing saint who has a hermit lifestyle. This isn’t to say you don’t deserve the best in a wife, or that Muslim women are not worthy but by putting these prerequisites forward you stipulate some form of “religiosity” on a woman. If that were fair, Muslim women would ask men to wear thobes and never marry again in the prenuptial, but they don’t out of the understanding that everyone’s imaan (faith) is different. When you ask your potential wife to pray regularly, fast and wear a jilbaab – in essence, to CHANGE – is it because you want your wife to come spiritually closer to Allah in ibadat (worship) or because you want to keep her all to yourself? If it’s either, you need to highlight this before marriage.

→ Lastly: be patient with your potential wife and her family. Women over-analyse your every move and word and think 10 steps ahead (she’s just waiting for you to catch up). Don’t try to change this nature of women. Try to go at her pace and understand that she has to sacrifice more to become your spouse. Be the most respectful and considerate man possible to all her family members, irrelevant of what they ask of you. At the initial stages of getting to know one another’s family, you need to make the best impression possible. Finally, be a man of action. Women love men who show, who take steps to progress, so the lazy bachelor thing you had is going to have to come to an end.

*In the early years of finding a potential partner in crime a woman’s criteria is heavier and longer. A typical list of 50 traits a woman looks for in a man thankfully gets sieved as she matures into things she ‘can live without’ to things she ‘can’t live without’. As Abu Hurarya (ra) reported, the Prophet ﷺ said love in a relationship needs to be in moderation, and a Muslim’s ultimate dependence should not be with people, but with Allah.

 

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Classics

  1. On Behalf of the Insane Poor (1843) by Dorothea Dix: While individuals with mental health conditions (especially those in lower tax brackets) still grapple against marginalization today, the absolutely nauseating acts nurse Dorothea Dix witnessed at asylums were even more dehumanizing.
  2. Rules of the Sociological Method (1895) by Emile Durkheim: Almost anything by the heavily influential sociologist Emile Durkheim should be considered essential reading, but this one in particular is notable for outlining research strategies and models.
  3. The Communist Manifesto (1848) by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx: Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the core tenets and practices of communism, the most controversial economic treatise ever published still impacted humanity (and, of course, its social structure) in a major way.
  4. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) by Max Weber: In spite of the title, Max Weber did not intend for his book to be read as an in-depth inquiry into Protestantism. Rather, one of his most famous works explores the relationship between society and religion.
  5. Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) by Margaret Mead: Anthropologist Margaret Mead found some valuable sociological, historical and psychological lessons in her studies of indigenous peoples, precipitating a greater understanding of the adolescent and female experiences.
  6. The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell: For sociology buffs who love literature and anthropology, this undeniable classic dissects commonalities in religious and folk narratives and characters from various eras and geographic locales.
  7. The Lonely Crowd (1950) by Reuel Denney, Nathan Glazer and David Riesman: Although some of the research has changed over the decades along with shifts in American culture, this landmark read brought up some revolutionary, provocative ideas about self and social interaction.
  8. The Sociological Imagination (1959) by C. Wright Mills: C. Wright Mills delves deeply into sociology’s structure, function and ultimate goals, providing practitioners with some amazing insight into their field — offering up some intellectual challenges about the nature of reality along the way.
  9. Madness and Civilization (1961) by Michel Foucault: This incredibly illuminating book begins in the Middle Ages and traces the complex history of what society does and does not deem mentally imbalanced, its marginalization of various groups and how it justifies such intolerant behavior.
  10. Stigma (1963) by Erving Goffman: In almost every society, anyone who does not fit into a specifically dictated norm ends up sent to the margins, regardless of whether or not they truly deserve it. One of sociology’s seminal works makes sense of the whys and how behind this phenomenon.
  11. The Social Construction of Reality (1966) by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann:The concept of social construction remains a core component of sociological studies, and any students wanting to learn more about the influential relationship between individuals, groups and their perceptions of reality would do well to pick up Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s ruminations on the subjects.
  1. The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) by William James: Although more a work of psychology and philosophy than sociology, students concerned with researching interplay between religion, the individual and the congregations and denominations in question should still consider this book essential.
  2. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912) by Emile Durkheim: The religious beliefs and rituals all over the world receive skillful dissection and analysis regarding how they influence the societies surrounding them.
  3. The Sociology of Religion (c. 1921) by Max Weber: As one can easily glean from the title,The Sociology of Religion concerns itself with understanding the role of faith in shaping human society for better or for worse.
  4. The World’s Religions (1958) by Huston Smith: Originally titled The Religions of Man, Huston Smith’s classic work is oftentimes cited as one of the most adroit introductions to comparative religion around.
  5. Our Religions (1994) by Arvind Sharma: Significant scholars representing seven of the world’s most heavily populated religions describe the core tenets that attract followers to their respective faiths.
  6. The World’s Wisdom (1995) by Philip Novak: Sociology students with a keen interest in writing about interplay between religion and society should make an effort to read sacred texts from around the world.
  7. The Good Heart (1998) by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: In his lecture from 1994, the Dalai Lama offers up his own interpretations of Jesus’ teachings, resulting in a fascinating interfaith comparison between Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism.
  8. The Battle for God (2000) by Karen Armstrong: Explore the three Abrahamic faiths, and the patterns they share when fringe groups hold the rest of the faith hostage with fundamentalism and violence.
  9. When Religion Becomes Evil (2002) by Charles Kimball: Wake Forest professor and reverend Charles Kimball outlines the five major warning signs of a religion (or a segment of a religion) giving in to violent fundamentalist urges.
  10. God is Not One (2010) by Stephen Prothero: Using both academics and personal experience, this Boston University professor delves into the eight largest religions in the world and highlights the major differences that nurture heavy conflict.

Contemporary Classics

  1. Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) by Jared Diamond: Sociology aficionados, students and professionals who also enjoy reading about history, ethnography, geography and politics (among other topics) will probably find this critically lauded Pulitzer winner a thoroughly engaging read.
  2. Bowling Alone (2000) by Robert D. Putnam: Though time has witnessed a movement away from some of Robert D. Putnam’s studies and observations, his frank discussions of why so many Americans migrate away from civil and neighborly engagement still ring true in many aspects.
  3. Culture Jam (2000) by Kalle Lasn: Subcultures are just as important to sociologists as the prevailing hegemonies surrounding them. Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn introduces readers to the old art of culture jamming in response to conspicuous consumption and manipulative advertising.
  4. Sexing the Body (2000) by Anne Fausto-Sterling: Contemporary sexologists make some very compelling scientific cases for gender being based more on sociological paradigms rather than something inherently biological. Many, such as Anne Fausto-Sterling, hope to dispel many of the myths surrounding those who don’t fit into the confining cultural binary.
  5. The Blank Slate (2002) by Steven Pinker: All social science students are familiar with the concept of tabula rasa, but Steven Pinker believes that using it as a model will yield erroneous results and thinking.
  6. The Wisdom of Crowds (2004) by James Surowiecki: Though the “crowd mentality” has a tendency to devolve into madness, this journalist argues that there are some very valuable lessons in productivity to be learned from it.
  7. Freakonomics (2005) by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt: In spite of its merging of economics and pop culture, some sociologists looking for something a little bit lighter than Durkheim, Foucault and Weber find Freakonomics a neat read.
  8. The Lucifer Effect (2007) by Philip Zimbardo: Psychologist Philip Zimbardo explores the highly complex sociological and psychological factors that send previously stable, good-hearted people over the edge and compel them to commit violent crimes.
  9. Guyland (2008) by Michael Kimmel: Adolescent boys in America grow up with some potentially damaging social norms regarding acceptable, arbitrarily “masculine” behavior foisted upon them. This controversial read explores the sociology behind some of these hazardous mindsets and what needs to be done to curb them.

Ethnic Studies

  1. Tally’s Corner (1967) by Elliott Liebow: This groundbreaking study of African-American poverty, ethnography and urbanism should be placed on the syllabi and personal reading lists of sociology students and professionals alike.
  2. Coming to America (1990) by Roger Daniels: Now in its second edition, Coming to Americaexplores the unique experiences of immigrants fleeing to the United States in search of new opportunities — many of whom tragically never really find what they’re seeking.
  3. A Different Mirror (1993) by Ronald Tataki: History, sociology and anthropology lessons merge together through stories and perspectives shining light on the nation’s rich, multicultural heritage.
  4. Other People’s Children (1995) by Lisa Delpit: Learn about the myriad ways in which the public school system tends to marginalize minority and impoverished children based more on stereotypes rather than personal aptitude, and how these practices compromise their futures.
  5. Race Rules (1996) by Michael Eric Dyson: This essay collection explores the difficult but absolutely necessary questions behind racial divides in America, which persisted even into the succeeding millennium.
  6. The Earth Shall Weep (1998) by James Wilson: The grim reality of Native American history after the Europeans ravaged their culture and land provides ethnographers and ethnic studies students plenty to ponder.
  7. Asian American Dreams (2001) by Helen Zia: Part memoir, part journalistic inquiry, Asian American Dreams opens readers up to the marginalizing experiences of the eponymous demographic both in school and mainstream society.
  8. Harvest of Empire (2001) by Juan Gonzales: This history book delves deeply into the complex past, present and possible futures of the Latin American peoples, serving as an excellent introduction to this particular corner of ethnic studies.
  9. Unequal Childhoods (2003) by Annette Lareau: For examples of class and race divides still present in the United States, one need only look at the public school system. From there, these gulfs only widen and cause distress in the surrounding societies.
  10. “Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” (2003) by Beverly Daniel Tatum: One psychologist dissects how younger generations form and come to terms with their racial identity, paying especially close attention to African-Americans receiving an education in predominantly Caucasian schools.

Women’s Studies

  1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) by Mary Wollstonecroft: One of the earliest feminist treatises ever written laid the groundwork for later movements — all it asked was that women enjoy perfectly equal social standing as men.
  2. The Second Sex (1949) by Simone de Beauvoir: Before the women’s movement gained considerable momentum in America, this French existentialist pointed out the marginalization and “otherness” oftentimes foisted upon females.
  3. The Feminine Mystique (1963) by Betty Friedan: In the book that almost single-handedly launched the Second Wave of the feminist movement, Betty Friedan explored the plight of American housewives and pleaded for social justice.
  4. The Female Eunuch (1970) by Germaine Greer: Though not everyone will necessarily agree with the fiery, radical takes on feminism by writers such as Germaine Greer and Angela Y. Davis, sociologists with a love of studying sociopolitical movements and subcultures will find them absolutely fascinating.
  5. Women Race & Class (1983) by Angela Y. Davis: This incredibly controversial activist offers up her take on the eponymous subjects, based on experiences gained during one of the nation’s most volatile eras.
  6. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (1984) by bell hooks: bell hooks delivers an incredibly powerful message about how even movements meant to combat marginalization still end up kicking some members to the fringe.
  7. The Beauty Myth (1991) by Naomi Wolf: One of feminism’s core complaints revolves around the objectification and obsession with female beauty and body shape, which receives a thorough history and dissection here.
  8. ManifestA (2000) by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards: Young feminists looking to lead the next generation of empowered women — as well as sociologists studying them — will find plenty of useful information and inspiration between ManifestA‘s covers.
  9. Female Chauvinist Pigs (2005) by Ariel Levy: Explore one of the more nebulous corners of the women’s movement, where some ladies deliberately exploit their sexuality to impress men, yet still label such actions empowerment.
  10. The Purity Myth (2009) by Jessica Valenti: Savvy Jessica Valenti analyzes how social and media perceptions and stigmatizations of female sexuality actively hold back — if not outright endanger — young women.

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