either/or

Why must it always be either or?  Why can’t it be both?

Mini Pharaoh has appointed Ahmed el-Tayeb as the new sheikh of al-Azhar.  Will be speaking with AbuS sometime this weekend to get his perspective on him, since what’s available in the english media and internets isn’t very enlightening.  His name is vaguely familiar, but I can’t seem to drag anything out of my friday addled brain that is useful.

But from the slim picking out there, I’ve found this:

Viewed as a moderate Muslim who has encouraged dialogue with Western countries, el-Tayeb has outwardly criticized hard-line Islamists, saying the focus on rituals and outward manifestations of piety — such as Islamic garb or beards — comes at the expense of true spiritual development.

and:

He has also supported banning the niqab (face veil) among female university students, stressing that the niqab is no more than an ancient Arabic tradition and that the headscarf is the only religious obligation for Muslim women.

and this:

Not wanting to draw too many conclusions from too little information (or saying that this is what the sheikh believes), I will ask the question, why must it be either/or?  Why does it have to be either inward or the outward?  This is a failing in many muslims today.  Either we focus overwhelmingly on the halal and haram of the outward, or weabandon those in favor of focusing on the inward.

Why cannot we focus on both?  Why cannot we use the outward to strengthen the inward, and the inward to bolster the outward?  In wearing hijab or growing a beard, can these be more than simple ok, I’m doing what’s required of me and now everyone can see it?  Could they not be a reminder to our hearts that we are submitting to the Almighty in every action?

To borrow a concept from another faith tradition, you can’t have yin without the yang (ok, it’s not a straight up good comparison, since the yin and the yang are opposites, but they are complimentary opposites that are necessary for their mutual continuation.  The inward and the outward are two complimentary aspects of our deen, both of which are needed to create a full momin).

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I would like to know how “moderate” and “tolerant” are being defined in their descriptions of the sheikh.  Is it the abandoning of certain aspects of the sunnah?  A willingness to talk with non muslims (but not muslims)?  What?  I’m at a loss.

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On a completely personal note, I miss AbuS.  inshaAllah he’ll be returning this Wednesday, in the afternoon.  He better not be coming back with a mustache though.  What is it with Egyptian men and mustaches?  Squeaky also misses her daddy, and spends quite a bit of time wandering around the apartment, looking for him and meowing pitifully.

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3 thoughts on “either/or

  1. The state of our ummah…

    Hopefully the above are Western media reporting what they want to hear, and not what the Sheikh truly meant.

    Glad to hear that AbuS will be back soon though.

    p/s love the cats pic! But did you notice that both cats in the pic are female.. hence its more yang-yang, LOL.

  2. I think the labels are just a means of causing discord in the ummah. By allowing others to label this one as moderate, this one as extreme, this one as tolerate, divisions are created and we are weakened.

  3. Mama Pongkey – I didn’t even see that. Ah well, cute anyways :)

    rebecca – I think that’s part of it. I’ll email you with a story I’ve heard sometime today.

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