Wednesday, December 9, 2009

(Auto-) Biography of a Saudi Fraud: “Non-Original” Saudis and Cultural Identity—Part II Thriving

By Chiara

In Part I Maha Noor Elahi, of A Saudi Woman’s Voice, shared with us “The Biography of a Saudi Fraud”, an introduction to her own cultural identity, and to a projected book about Saudi cultural identity.
Maha is a Saudi national, born in 1971, and is now married with 3 children. She is a Lecturer in the English Department at Dar Al-Hekma College, Jeddah, and a creative writer. Here, in Part II, she will address some issues left in suspense with her 2007 biographical introduction in Part I, and share her views on being a professional woman, and a creative writer in Saudi. Below in her own words is Maha’s update and expansion on her June 8, 2007 biography’s promise.

The Nine Muses

Further reflections on my (auto-) biography

I don't consider writing the biography in 2007 an act of the past because I am still working on it. So far I've finished 3 chapters, and I am so determined to finish the book and publish it. Every time I read my biography, I feel so enticed to finish it, but I am not in a hurry; good things need time to be produced.
There is just one important thing that I'd like to clarify here. Coming from non-Saudi origins is a very common thing in Jeddah and Makkah. In the Hijaz Region, it is very common that people come from Indian, Syrian, Egyptian, or Indonesian origins.

I've been active in the internet world since 2005, but stopped for a while to focus on my new job at Dar Al-Hekma. Now that everything is almost settled at work, I feel that I have the time and energy to participate in blogs.
Back in 2000, I started writing English poetry and started posting it on different American and British poetry websites. Later on, I felt that I need to document my work to protect my copyrights, so I created a site for my poetry under the name Wallada's Salon .

Come along with me and enjoy the inspiration of the desert women. Read my poems, express yourself, or read others' works...The caravan is waiting, so let's sail into the heart of the warm sands.

I had not discovered blogging then. Two years ago, I came to know about blogs, but I wasn't interested. I felt that it won't add to me, yet my loyal friends kept encouraging me to have my own blog. So, I created both my English and Arabic blogs upon the encouragement of many of my friends who truly believe in me—and that of my biggest supporter, my husband.

I am so proud to have married a man who is a descendant of the Prophet; so proud because I love the Prophet Mohammad, and it honors me to be the mother of his descendants; I hope I can raise them to be up to the level that pleases Allah and the Prophet.

I got married in a very traditional way: his mother saw me, and saw that I might appeal to her son. Later, I met him and we clicked immediately. The chemistry was very obvious between us, from the beginning, despite our differences; but that's the beauty of it. I mean, what's the point in marrying someone who is a copy of you? So boring, I believe.

We stayed engaged for about a year, and then we got married. We were both the same age—then in our early twenties--and we both had to finish our studies, but it was more difficult for him because he had to work as well.

The Muse of Poetry, Calliope

We built our life together and we both worked so hard to maintain our marriage. I believe every couple must work hard to keep their relationship surviving. As any couple, we had our differences, our disagreements, and our ups and downs, but he was always willing to develop and do what's best for both of us.

At the very beginning of the marriage, I faced a few challenges because I've come from a rather open family that is not considered Saudi in terms of traditions and attitudes. Yet I was determined to make the marriage work because I loved my husband very much. His cultural identity had a kind of negative impact on the marriage at first, but then gradually we started to blend creating our own family culture apart from his family and mine. Together we decided to adopt the best of the two families, and try to avoid their drawbacks, adding our own beliefs and vision about life.

This sounds flowery now, but at that time it took a great deal of patience, tolerance, and a strong will to understand a whole new world.

The Muse of History, Clio

He knew everything about me before the marriage, and obviously he had no reservations about it. In fact, he wanted to marry a non-tribal girl who is open, educated, and willing to adapt to life's changes. He felt that a girl from a tribe might have specific conservative attitudes.

Regarding my career and writing, he has been my greatest support; greater than my own mother and father. He was the first one to believe in me; to believe that I am different from other girls. He could see that my interests are different from other girls whom he used to view as superficial and dull. Without him, I couldn't have been anything. He has empowered me in every way a man can empower a woman. To him, my writings are the best, and he considers me his favorite writer. Nevertheless, when needed, he gives me very profound criticism about what I write; and, so many times he has inspired me to write a lot of good articles and poems.

The Nine Muses

Like any mother (I guess), my 3 children are my life. They are the real achievement in my life. The eldest one is 16 years old, and he is a computer genius (masha’Allah). He is part of the gifted students program in Jeddah, and he might join KAUST when he graduates. My second child is 12 years old, and she seems to have so many talents. She's very much into animation and she adores the Japanese culture; she even learned Japanese through the internet. The youngest one though seems to be rather troublesome. He is six years old and very naughty.

All my children know how to speak English as I was keen on having them go to schools with very strong English programs. However, I was also keen that they learn Arabic very well. The most important thing for me when dealing with my children is to help them to set goals, to believe in their abilities, and to respect education and work.

The Nine Muses, Libya

On Saudi Career Women and Work/Life Balance

I got married when I was a sophomore in college, and I had no plans for working or resuming my studies. I just wanted to finish my BA and then be a housewife. That was my first choice, which everyone disagreed to including my father and in-laws. My mother, though a working woman herself, had a rather mixed attitude towards the whole situation. She wanted me to be a perfect housewife and at the same time, she believed that I have great potential to pursue a career. My family and my in-laws wanted me to pursue my education and have a teaching career, but my decision shocked them a lot, especially because I was an A student in college. Despite their disapproval of me being a housewife after graduation, I went on with my plan with the support of my husband. It was my choice, and he was always (still is) supportive of any decision I take regarding my career.

At that time, I deeply believed that I needed to learn a great deal about being a wife, a housewife, and a mother. I believed that I needed to (study) my husband and my new life thoroughly. Now I have no regrets; it's the best thing I have ever done in my life. It's the thing that made me establish my relationship with my husband in a very profound manner. I remained a stay-at-home mom for 9 years after my graduation, and I was so content with my life. However, during that time, I never stopped reading, painting, and developing my thinking skills. I also started studying for my Master's degree. At first I was reluctant about it because I didn't want to leave my son with a maid, but my husband kept discussing the matter with me until he talked me into resuming my studies. Luckily, I had my mother who helped a lot in taking care of my son.

Now that I have experienced being a stay-at-home mother and being a working woman, I can say with great certainty that every choice we make in our lives has its advantages and disadvantages; we just have to try everything out to make a decision on which path we are going to take for the rest of our lives.

Being a mother and a housewife brought me great joy, and I never felt bored or tired of it, especially because I was in constant search for creative things to do for my husband and my son. Nevertheless, living in a society where housewives are expected to be only housewives in the traditional sense didn't appeal to me very much, which in turn made me have a social life with women who didn't share the same interests and ambitions.

When I decided to work, almost everyone was so excited about it except for my mother who knew very well that I was going to struggle in order to make a balance between my house and my career. Regarding my creative writing, my mother, father, and husband have always been supportive and have always encouraged me to publish my writings. My father even believes that my English poetry should be taught in colleges. :)
My children used to complain sometimes about me leaving them for long hours, but I always discuss the matter with them until we reach a conclusion together, and I always try to make it up for them. Now that they've become teenagers, they started having their own interests and started to understand what I am doing in a better way. The young one, however, is still my spoiled baby.

They like my writings and they are very proud of what I write and of what people say about me on the internet, especially in Arabic.

I have a rather quiet life with minimum social encounters, and this is due to my demanding job, but fortunately, my relatives and friends understand my situation and don't have problems with that. At first, a few couldn't accept the idea of me not attending their gatherings or occasions, but then I had to explain my working conditions to them, and they understood. However, I have to admit, it is not easy to live in a society where everyone expects you to visit/invite them regularly and have a career at the same time. And again, it's all about the choices that we make; we can't have everything and we have to take this as a basic fact of life. A woman can't be successful at work and open her house for social gatherings on a regular basis. Work needs time and devotion; it's not that I go to work to have fun or spend some time because I've been bored at home. I go to work to fulfill a mission in life, and this mission conflicts with having a social life that is based on showing off one's skills as a cook and housekeeper.

Once I started working, I formed my special circle of a few yet great friends, who don't judge me just because I couldn't attend one of their cousins' wedding parties. Actually, most of my friends are working women who have their own responsibilities and completely understand what it is like to be a wife, a mother, and a working woman. All my friends have goals and ambitions related to their career; and we all empower and encourage each other. Had I stayed a housewife till now, I could have been spending my entire day sleeping, shopping, or watching Turkish series. I am not saying that all housewives live like this, but the societal trend drags many wives to become unproductive and demanding at the same time.

Yet I have to emphasize that, if I weren't working in a healthy and productive working environment like Dar Al-Hekma College, I would have preferred staying at home.

I have to admit that my readers in Arabic are a lot more than my English-speaking readers. This is because I have been focusing greatly on Arabic through participating in different Arabic forums and through being directly in touch with many Arab writers and readers. We are in an Arabic-speaking society, so it doesn't shock me to have more Saudi and Arab readers who follow my work.

I used to be an active participant in a website called OWCP, and it had a great effect on me, but focusing on English blogging wasn't my plan; my plan was to publish my first poetry compilation. So far I haven't done so due to the fact that I haven't found an English or American writer who is willing to write the foreword to my book. In addition, poetry with its complicated nature as compared to the fast rhythm of our lives today does not have a lot of fans or readers. Yet my Arab friends, Saudis and non-Saudis, always read my English poems and articles, and encourage me greatly.

Writing, to me, is a means of self-expression and a means of breathing fresh air when things get rough. When I write, I don't plan on writing in English or in Arabic; I just follow the language of my inspiration; if it comes in English, I write immediately in English and do not try to translate it into Arabic. Even the topics that I deal with in English are different from my Arabic topics. It's not just a language issue; it's a cultural thing. Some topics are just not meant to be written in Arabic and vice versa.

My students are as varied as any group of students in any college or university. I have promising and intellectual students, who are a source of pride for any Saudi, and I have other students who just want a bachelor's degree to please their families or to fit society's requirements. Many of Dar Al-Hekma graduates have continued in higher studies, and some of them work in leading institutes around the world. Some have opened their own companies and businesses, which seem very promising and successful. Of course, others have  married and decided to live their social life freely, but those are very few.

The best thing about my students is that they always challenge me; it's a give and take relationship. I give them my knowledge and experience, and they keep me updated on the latest trends and philosophies of youth, which keeps me in an on-going journey searching for better and more creative ideas for teaching and conveying profound messages to my students.

I think every working and married woman faces many difficulties and challenges regardless of her nationality or culture. Even the advantages and disadvantages are almost the same despite the cultural gap between the two countries; USA and KSA. What I mean is that being in a negative surrounding puts you down, and being in a positive environment helps you ascend high. It's the woman's call; to look for the suitable environment or to refuse being part of a destructive and frustrating community. And if she cannot find a constructive community, she should create her own; she should never give up no matter what.

In America and/or Saudi Arabia, women have to struggle in order to prove themselves worthy of positions and great responsibilities. It's still a man's world in spite of all the changes, and the invisible ceiling is over our heads; the difference is that in America it is starting to be less invisible and therefore easier to fight and attack. In Saudi Arabia, women still don't understand that men in the workplace, not at home, are their greatest obstacle. Maybe this needs an entire article to explain! I highly recommend reading two of the most eye-opening books on women's condition in the workplace: Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women by Virginia Valian; and, The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued by Ann Crittenden.

Saudi women are struggling in a world of men, and a world of foreign employees who surpass them in experience and knowledge. If Saudi women don't work hard enough to assert themselves and their abilities, their future will be at risk. We do have many outstanding Saudi women (working in Saudi Arabia) like Dr. Suhair Al-Qurashi, Dr. Mervat Tashkandi, Ms. Maha Akeel, Mrs. Naeema Nawab, and so many others who really make us proud.

However, I hope to see more  women in Saudi Arabia who work for the love of work, for the sake of a mission greater than their personal interests, and I really hate seeing Saudi women in the workplace showing off their degrees and certificates without having a real understanding of what they are doing. I believe the new generation of Saudi women is better than my generation in this regard, and I wish them all the best. They are the ones who will determine the future, and we wholeheartedly support them and count on them.

For non-Saudi women, there will always be a workplace  in Saudi Arabia despite the Saudization movement. As long as we are short of experts, there will be non-Saudis working with us, and I truly believe it's a healthy thing to work in a multi-cultural atmosphere. Yet the problem emerges when some Saudi companies prefer non-Saudis just because they cost them less, or because they are better for the overall image of the company; not because of their unique qualifications. When qualification is no longer the criteria of hiring employees at any institute or firm, then the whole concept of work, quality, productivity, patriotism, and progression becomes a lost case. Work then transfers from a goal to be achieved into a suspicious realm where aspirations are shattered and beliefs are shaken.

I think I've already spoken more than I should have. :) I just want to sincerely thank Chiara for giving me the chance to express myself and share bits and bites of me with others. It has been a pleasure dealing with Chiara. Thank you!

I would like to thank Maha for sharing with us so generously, and invite all of you to share your thoughts and experiences as well.

How much work is required for a successful marriage? How many people know this before they get married?
How important is one spouse’s support for the other to thrive?
What options are open to a woman living in Saudi who wishes to both pursue a career and have a family? Are these different if the woman is non-Saudi or Saudi?
What are the pluses and minuses of a creative career?
How does a mother’s career impact her children, positively and negatively? What factors are at play, on the mother’s, the father’s, and the children’s sides? Does being Saudi or in Saudi alter this? How?


Salma said...

Well I don't know about being a Saudi or married to one, but I know as a young professional with children and a home it is not easy.

My hubby is old-fashioned and has been influenced by a mother who dedicated her whole life to her family...I would like to think that I am doing the same things, just not in the same way.

Being educated means different things to different people and I too see people waving degrees without much common-sense. I don't know this just seems to hit home for me, being in a marriage that has forced me to chose between things that I thought were necessary and things that I thought I could compromise on.

And Maha you are right...all our decisions have advantages and disadvantages. Great interview.

arbgrlusa said...

hello, chiara, this is mariam fro bedu's blog. I was thrilled to find you blogging!! Pretty soon I won't be getting any work done...
re: Maha - you cannot imagine how hard it is for women in saudi to have a social life and work. I empathize with her greatly. We do not usually get together until late at night, and this just does not meld well with working. Furthermore, when you work, you wish to spend time with your immediate family, especially children!! Non-working saudi women have a very hard time dealing with this. They think working women are "snobbish". I can't wait for the day when saudi society adopts the western custom of earlier meetings or only on the evenings of non work days. Salam.

Chiara said...

Salma--Thank you for your comment. I am glad you found my new blog! You are very right that these challenges of work/home balance are faced by all career women, but I do believe they are easier in some contexts than others.

It is very hard to transpose the lifestyle of a previous generation into current lifestyle demands especially if the previous one was very traditional, and the new one far less so, or they are from different countries, societies.

Some women wave degrees and have no common sense, but then others are forced not to use their degrees, even professional ones. I just heard from a Pakistani Canadian woman that her daughter who holds an MBA is clinically depressed. She married right after her degree, moved in with her inlaws, was not allowed to work, suffers non-stop abuse from her MIL, and has a son who is autistic and epileptic, and her husband won't pay for therapy for the son or let her family pay for it. She finally ended up in a psychiatrist's office and her husband made her switch from the female psychiatrist she liked to a male psychiatrist because he felt the woman was biased against him. The male psychiatrist convinced him to move them out of his parents' home, so he moved them to an apartment nearby, to far in the burbs for her to get a job easily. It is one of the worst stories I have heard, and it was her mother telling me, and that it is part of Pakistani culture; and that girls are raised from childhood that they will live with their MIL and be abused (verbally,psychologically, and sometimes physically) and the husbands say nothing. Hopefully that is a generalization, exaggeration, or becoming less true.

Thanks again for your inspiring comment! I hope everyone checks out your great blog, as well.

Chiara said...

Mariam--Great! I am so glad you found my blog! I really look forward to your comments on older and newer posts.

Thank you for sharing your insights into this as a Saudi woman. You do raise some very good practical issues that are tied to cultural norms. Other Arab Muslim countries have shifted their habits somewhat in line with European or Mediterranean European norms, partly under the influence of colonization.

I do think that, at least in those countries, when the spouse and family are supportive, it is almost easier than in Europe and North America, because there are more family members available to share childcare, and it is the norm for grandmothers and aunts to be highly involved in raising the children. Also, at least in Morocco, there is an excellent system of French style nursery schools from the age of 3 on, so the children are accustomed to this type of socialization and routine early on. It is also much easier,cheaper, and more customary to have live-in help with housework.

I hope others will share their views on this topic as well, it is such and important one for men and women.

arbgrlusa (Mariam) said...

Chiara - I wanted to post on your latest - re: the camping experience, and I could not find a place to post. Coming from a third world country I guess I am a little PC challenged, lol. BTW, didn't the actress sound like a young boy? Peut-etre that is why Gabin called her une poupee?? She sounded child-like.

PS it would be lovely if our names popped up as we commented a la bedu, so we wouldn't have to keep selecting profiles, et al. Or am I again being "challenged"??

Chiara said...

Mariam--thank you for persisting and leaving the comment here. For some reason the settings on that post were "odd" and didn't allow comments. I fixed it. So please try again.

If you are signed in to Google your name should pop up, but I will try to find an alternate commenting format (bearing in mind that I am IT challenged myself LOL :) ) because this one has a "comment jinn" that gives everyone grief (including me) it seems. I hope all will persist in the meantime.

"Ma poupée" would be an old-fashioned but standard term of endearment from a man to a woman. I think her voice is supposed to be girlie-child sexy but perhaps the men would be better able to assess that! LOL :)

Maha Noor Elahi said...

Thanks, Salma for your comment.
women all over the world, I beleive, are faced with different challenges whether they are educated or not.
It's just that somw give up easily and conform to their society's norms.

Maha Noor Elahi said...

Well...late meetings? not in my agenda..whether people agree or disagree...that's why i have chosen a group of freinds who are early birds and who hate late gatherings...

Now i sound snobbish :) but it's just impossible to live in both worlds...

Thanks for your comment

Maha Noor Elahi said...

Thanks a lot for interviewing me.....

and your story about the Pakistani lady is really horrible...I can't imagine that some people still live this way...even in Saudi Arabia where that was the case in older generations, it wasn't as bad as this story...maybe because the women weren't educated at that time..
Luckily now Saudi girls write a basic condition in their marraige contracts (never to live with the in-laws) and to work if they wanted to...

Thanks once again Chiara..

Chiara said...

Maha--thanks for all your comments. Yes that story really stuck with me, and I was glad her daughter is both on medication and in therapy, is growing stronger and is getting appropriate support from her psychiatrist who takes on the role of explaining to the husband, and reinforcing that these things must be done for his wife's health. In that sense it is an advantage that the psychiatrist is a man, as that particular husband probably wouldn't follow the recommendation of a woman. It remains sad that it took a clinical depression for the husband to make even a minimal change. Despite this woman holding an MBA, and having educated parents (her father was an engineering prof in Pakistan, then in KSA for 18 years to retirement) and a subspecialist dr for a brother, she has been subjected to this type of marriage. Her parents were caught between trying not to interfere, trying to help their daughter, and trying not to aggravate the husband into worse behaviour. The good news is that her mother is now paying for the ABA therapy for her autistic son (who is 5), which she simply informed her husband was going to happen (with the psychiatrist's support) and she seems well enough to make other changes to her life.

On immigration some people become more conservative to hold on to the old ways, and in fact are sometimes a generation behind the evolution in their own country.

Chiara said...

Maha--PS It was my pleasure to interview you, and a real bonus for you to share your insights here.

Usman said...

It is a great biography and I really enjoyed reading it. But I can't resist on correcting on thing you said:

"I am so proud to have married a man who is a descendant of the Prophet; so proud because I love the Prophet Mohammad, and it honors me to be the mother of his descendants;"

Nobody is descendant of Prophet Muhammad, Nobody! Descendant are recognized by male lineage. Prophet Muhammad's sons died in his own time. He is left with no descendants. And if this is not enough to convince you then here is the verse of Quran to blow this descendant argument:

"Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things." (Quran, Al-Ahzab)

Maha said...

Thank you for your words, and let me explain the Prophet's descendants issue. We all know that the Prophet's sons died, but his daughter Fatima hasn't died. The word "descendants" here means the offspring of his grandsons from Fatima (May Allah be pleased with her) with her husband Ali (May Allah be pleased with him). The descendants are the children and grandchildren of Al-Hasan and Al-Hussain, who are the sons of Fatima and Ali.
There is a well-known hadith by the prophet that urges all Muslims to take care of (The People of the Prophetical house) who include , according to the Hadith (the descendants of Ali Bin AbdlMuttaleb, Al-Abbas Bin AbdlMuttaleb, Jaafar, and Akeel)
They are called in Arabic آل البيت
Unfrtunately, I can't think of a better translation for the word than what I have explained. It's like when you say in English the Kidneys….so it might be something like the "Mohammads".
This whole issue of belonging the Prophetical family is because of the descendants of the Prophet's daughter Fatima, which shows a great deal of Islam's respect to women. It's not his sons who had the descendants, rather it was his daughter.
I am sorry for my misleading translation. Thank you for adding your comment because it opened my eyes to my misleading wording. I will surly change it in the book and the blog.

Maha Noor Elahi

Usman said...


I am well aware of Fatima( (May Allah be pleased with her) and her sons. But you are completely missing the point. First of all, the verses of Quran have exclusive and ultimate priority over any hadith. That hadith you quoted is considered zaeef (week) and taken completely out of context. Such hadith are usually used by our Shia brothers to boost the personality of Ali and to bring him as close as the Personality of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) himself (God forbids).

In the verse I quoted, Allah has said clearly that no man on earth can claim that Muhammad(PBUH) was his father or ancestor. period. Then why insisting otherwise?

"This whole issue of belonging the Prophetical family is because of the descendants of the Prophet's daughter Fatima, which shows a great deal of Islam's respect to women."

NO, It does not come from Islam. It comes from some of us Muslims, who want to take false pride over each other. To score the point that I am Arab, hence better than you. I am "descendant" of Muhammad(PBUH) hence have a prestigious status as compare to you. My ancestors were Muslims when nobody else was Muslim hence I am better than you, etcetera.

If they are that grateful of Fatima then why don't they say that they are Al e Fatima ?.

Going back to your quoted hadith of Al e Albait, they have no exclusive priority over anybody by merely the relationship to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).And whoever claims otherwise, goes against the basic teaching of Quran itself.

Anonymous said...

Dear Usman,
you seem to have misconceptions about the verse, which was clarified by Hadith.
I wish that you could read the a book called Al-Albayt by Dr. Mohammad Abdo Yamamni and books by Mohammad Alawi Malki, who are both prominent Hijazi authors and Islamic scholars, and are both dedicated sunnis. The prophetical family story is well-known and acknowldged all over Saudi Arabia and it is acknowldeged by the government (which is sunni). It is also acknowldged by a huge number of other Saudi, Egyptian, and Yemeni Sunnie Islamic scholars. Maybe I am not the right person to explain it to you in English. It needs a lot of elaboration to explain it, but you should search for the Islamic Sunni scholars on this topic.
The Hadith I mentioned is only one example of many Hadiths, which are proven to be true by many scholars.
The Hadith and Quraan compliment each otehr and there are many things the Quraan hasn't elaborated on and Hadith explained it. If you take prayers for instance, from Quraan, you will not pray like the rest of us, and probably you won't understand how to pray.

Prophet Mohammad's famous Hadith says: hold on to Quraan and my Hadith, and you will never be lost.
He didn't say "hold on to Quraan only".
Unfortunately, many Muslims misunderstand Islam because they disregard Hadith and look at the Quraan superficially without trying to understsnd it through Hadith.
Besides, Muslims have four basic resources to refer to: Quraan, Sunna (Hadith), Ejmaa (agrrement of most scholars on a certain issue), and Qiyas (applying a general Quraanic rules on new issues or problems).

I know some people have exaggerated the family of the prophet issue, but this doesn't mean to cross out the whole thing or deny just because a few people misused it. Many Islamic principles and basics have been misused, so does this give us the right to deny these basics?

Please, read more about this issue from Sunnis and Arab scholars, not just contemoraries.

Maha Noor Elahi

Usman said...

Dear Maha Noor Elahi,

It is the belief of Muslims and the assertion of Quran itself that Quran is complete and self explanatory. The verses of Quran are to be taken on its face value. History or hadiths play the role of context and background, only. Thus, You cannot claim that certain verses of Quran have shortcomings or are confusing and hence in order to fully understand them, we have to use hadiths. Hadith do not stand as reason or explanatory supporter for any verses of Quran. Hadith at best will give us context, nothing else!

Only those matters where Quran is silent, Hadith will come into play for explanation and reason. But we have to be careful in judging if the hadiths is compatible to the teaching of Quran or if it comes to clash with Quran in anyway. It is the hadith of Prophet (PBUH) that if you come across a hadith which is attributed to me but is in even a slightest way contradictory to Quran, throw it away.

You said; "The Hadith and Quraan compliment each otehr and there are many things the Quraan hasn't elaborated on and Hadith explained it."

NO, and I have explained it above that Quran is self explanatory. Ane where Qurna is silent, we will take the hadith in such a way that it does not clash with any teachings of Quran..

You said; “ If you take prayers for instance, from Quraan, you will not pray like the rest of us, and probably you won't understand how to pray. “

Hadith were compiled some over a hundred years after the death of prophet. People were performing salah even before then. In fact, Salah is being performed since the time of prophet Ibrahim.

You said; “Unfortunately, many Muslims misunderstand Islam because they disregard Hadith and look at the Quraan superficially without trying to understsnd it through Hadith. “

Quran does not need any help through hadith. You can take the verses of Quran to understand hadith. But you cannot take hadith to explain the verses of Quran. It is one way function only. Hadith, as I said, when it comes to talk about something which is given in Quran, will play the part of background or context, only. It will not provide any additional meanings to the message of Quran.

You said; “ Besides, Muslims have four basic resources to refer to: Quraan, Sunna (Hadith), Ejmaa (agrrement of most scholars on a certain issue), and Qiyas (applying a general Quraanic rules on new issues or problems). “

Fundamental source is Quran only! The other three things you listed are secondary and are subject to guidance from Quran. They will be Judged and made through the teaching of Quran. Quran will not be judged by anything other than Quran itself. Hence, Muslims got only ONE source, which is Quran. Nothing else!

I personally hold to the Quran only. I don't mix it with any other “source” for the sake of explanation. Hadith or history will give me context, not the explanation, reason or justification. If it is said in Quran that no man can claim that Prophet(PBUH) is his father or ancestor, then no man can claim it. Plain and simple. No apologies, no spin here. I challenge you to bring any alternative explanation of it, Which I am sure you can never!

On a side note, you should be proud that you belong to a noble family. The Family of Hazrat Ali. Don't take it further than that.


Maha Noor Elahi said...

Dear Mr. Usman,

What I said about Quraan and Hadith is not my invention. It is based on what the Muslim scholars agreed on.

There are four cornerstones to refer to in Islam:
Sunna and Hadith

This is agreed upon by all Muslim scholars. the Hadith was not written until the prophet died but it was memorized and practiced during his life.

Read for great scholars like Ibn Katheer, Ibn Taymiya, Al-Qurtubi, and the four Imams (Abu Hanifa - Ibn Hanbal - Ibn Malik - Al-Shafiei)

Read also Fiqh Al-Sunna by Sayed Sabiq...I don't know if you are an arab or not, but if you are not, you should start looking for good translations of these scholars' books.

Quraan is the complete book, and hadith explains it. When the aya of prayer was inspired to prophet Mohammad, he had to explain it to the Sahaba the way it is right now. As for Ibrahim, we don't know the way he used to pray.

Islam compliments other religions that came before and perfects them, so it is illogicl to have the exact same teachings and details. Islam is a very felxible religion and it is for all times and places.
There are also some verses in Quraan that are called الآيات المنسوخة which were inspired to serve a purpose at the time of the prophet, but were followed by ayas and explanations of Hadith that state they are not workable anymore.

Anyway, this is a long and complicated issue. I just wish that you consult notable Islmaic scholars who are experts at both the Arabic language and the Quraanic studies.



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