The Islamic Bulletin
The Islamic Bulletin
One of the most famous women in the history of Islam is Aisha,
the Prophet’s wife. And the quality for which she is remembered
primarily is that of her intelligence and outstanding memory. She is
considered to be one of the most reliable sources of hadith by virtue
of these qualities. More that a thousand ahadith are reported by her
and she is regarded as one of the greatest teachers of the hadith.
Generally speaking, in the Muslimworld of the early medieval times,
there was not any bar or prohibition on women pursuing studies--
on the contrary, the religion encouraged it. As a result of this many
women became famous as religious scholars, writers, poets, doctors
and teachers in their own right, such as Nafisa, a descendant of
Ali who was such a great authority on hadith that Imam al-Shafi’l
sat in her circle in al-Fustat when he was at the height of his fame:
and Shaikha Shuhda who lectured publicly in one of the principle
mosques of Baghdad to large audiences on literature, rhetoric and
poetry, and was one of the foremost scholars of Islam.
There is therefore every encouragement for a Muslim woman to
pursue studies in any field for her intellectual benefit and to make
use of her academic or professional training for the good of the
community, subject to certain moral and familial conditions which
will be dealt with in following issues.
Black Seed (Nigella Seed)
It is narrated by the hadith that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Use
the black seed because it has a relief of all diseases, but death.’
Black seed has a tasty aroma and contains phosphate, iron, phos-
phorate, carbohydrate, oil 28%. It contains anti-virus bacteria,
carotene, anti-cancer fighting material, and hormones which give
strength and activity.
There are many, many benefits of the black seed. Here we will list
some of them.
1. Dizziness and ear infection: use it as a drop for the ears, for
‘infection’; and drink it in tea and rub under your cheek and at the
back of your neck for dizziness.
2. For women and delivery: it is the best thing for helping with the
pains of labor. Boil the black seed with honey and drink.
3. For skin diseases: mix a unit of the black seeds’ oil with a same
unit of rose water and 2 units of brown flour. Before you use the
mix rub the area with a cloth dipped in vinegar. Lightly apply the
mix to the skin and then expose to the sun every day.
4. Rheumatism: Warm black seed oil and massage the oil into the
painful areas. Also, make a drink of boiled black seed and mix
with honey, drink before going to sleep; and have a lot of yaqeen
5. High blood pressure: Mix the black seed with hot liquids you
may drink, such as coffee, tea, etc; and rub your body with the oil
and have yaqeen.
6. Chest pains and colds: Add 1 tablespoon of the black seeds in
boiling water and inhale the vapor and cover your head before
7. Heart burn: add a few drops of black seed oil to a hot cup of
milk and add one teaspoon of honey. Also, eat a lot of lettuce.
8. Eye pain: rub the oil around the eyes before you sleep and mix
a few drops of the oil with hot drinks.
9. Ulcers: Mix 10 drops of black seed oil with a cup of honey. Eat 1
spoon of this mixture daily, every morning, before you eat or drink
anything else. Follow with a glass of milk. Do this for two months.
10. Cancer: Rub the affected area with black seed oil. 3 times a
day drink a mixture of a teaspoon of the oil with a glass of carrot
juice. Do this for three months.
11. Laziness: Mix 10 drops of black seed oil with a glass of orange
juice when waking up for 10 days. Important, do not sleep after
12. For memorizing: Boil mint and mix it with honey and 7 drops
of black seed oil--drink while warm any time of the day. Also, stop
drinking coffee and tea.
The Quran as a Precept and Discipline For Life
Another remarkable feature of the Quran is that it explores and
prescribes some remedies for all mankind. As a ‘remedy’ its
fundamental objective is to cure any widespread corruption or
deviation from pre-established moral values and ethical norms.
The Quran deals with all these shortcomings and prescribes
remedies for them. Far from falling short of dealing with con-
temporary issues confronting mankind, it is as relevant today as
when it was first revealed.
However by failing to perceive the wider and more profound
meanings of the Quran, man sometimes misses the remedy.
There is no fundamental issue concerning man’s existence in
this universe that is not inherently dealt with. The Quran is fun-
damentally a discipline of worship and guidance in establishing
a right way of life. Thus, when the Quran tells us to explore the
earth for evidence of Allah’s greatness, or to study the universe
for knowledge and enlightenment, or to toil and produce, or
build and populate the earth, it is, in fact, delineating rules which
should govern man’s movement within Allah’s universe.
In our endeavor to achieve our goals, we must be armed with
unwavering faith in Allah’s grace and infinite justice, as well as
with the firm conviction that we are divinely guided subjects
whose principal concern should be the fulfillment of Allah’s
plan for mankind as expressed in the Quran - for Allah does not
assist or reward those who ignore His decrees or stray from His
path. By failing to follow Allah’s directions one should not hope
to share their fruitful ends. By straying, nations lose mobility and
become decadent when they diverge from Allah’s way, failing to
implement His injunctions.
It is unreasonable to give lip service to the directives Allah has
prescribed in His message and expect His blessing and rewards.
It follows that there is no action without reward, and no reward
without action. This is the core and kernel of Allah’s precepts
and discipline. It is this equilibrium which constitutes harmony
and beauty in life and existence as a whole. Indeed, this balance
would become meaningless if the industrious and the idle, the
studious and the lethargic, the productive and the negligent were
equally rewarded, irrespective of their effort or yield.
If this became the rule, beauty and harmony would eventually
disappear and be replaced by grossness and the lack of drive,
motivation, ambition, ingenuity, creativity, and the desire to
excel. There would be no addition to one’s cultural heritage.
Q: Would you kindly tell us how your interest in Islam began?
A: I was Margaret (Peggy) Marcus. As a small child I possessed a keen
interest in music and was particularly fond of the classical operas and
symphonies considered high culture in the West. Music was my fa-
vorite subject in school in which I always earned the highest grades.
By sheer chance, I happened to hear Arabic music over the radio
which so much pleased me that I was determined to hear more.
I would not leave my parents in peace until my father finally took
me to the Syrian section in New York City where I bought a stack
of Arabic recordings. My parents, relatives and neighbors thought
Arabic and its music dreadfully weird and so distressing to their
ears that whenever I put on my recordings, they demanded that I
close all the doors and windows in my room lest they be disturbed!
After I embraced Islam in 1961, I used to sit enthralled by the hour
at the mosque in New York, listening to tape-recordings of Tilawat
chanted by the celebrated Egyptian Qari, Abdul Basit. But on Jumha
Salat (Friday Prayers), the Imam did not play the tapes. We had a
special guest that day. A short, very thin and poorly-dressed black
youth, who introduced himself to us as a student from Zanzibar,
recited Surah ar-Rahman. I never heard such glorious Tilawat even
from Abdul Basit! He possessed such a voice of gold; surely Hazrat
Bilal must have sounded much like him!
I traced the beginning of my interest in Islam to the age of ten.
While attending a reformed Jewish Sunday school, I became fas-
cinated with the historical relationship between the Jews and the
Arabs. From my Jewish textbooks, I learned that Abraham was the
father of the Arabs as well as the Jews. I read how centuries later
when, in medieval Europe, Christian persecution made their lives
intolerable, the Jews were welcomed in Muslim Spain and that it
was the magnanimity of this same Arabic Islamic civilization which
stimulated Hebrew culture to reach its highest peak of achievement.
Totally unaware of the true nature of Zionism, I naively thought that
the Jews were returning to Palestine to strengthen their close ties of
kinship in religion and culture with their Semitic cousins. Together
I believed that the Jews and the Arabs would cooperate to attain
another Golden Age of culture in the Middle East.
Despite my fascination with the study of Jewish history, I was
extremely unhappy at the Sunday school. At this time I identified
myself strongly with the Jewish people in Europe, then suffering a
horrible fate under the Nazis and I was shocked that none of my fel-
low classmates nor their parents took their religion seriously. During
the services at the synagogue, the children used to read comic strips
hidden in their prayer books and laugh to scorn at the rituals. The
children were so noisy and disorderly that the teachers could not
discipline them and found it very difficult to conduct the classes.
At home the atmosphere for religious observance was scarcely
more congenial. My elder sister detested the Sunday school so
much that my mother literally had to drag her out of bed in the
mornings and it never went without the struggle of tears and hot
words. Finally my parents were exhausted and let her quit. On the
Jewish High Holy Days instead of attending synagogue and fasting
on Yom Kippur, my sister and I were taken out of school to attend
family picnics and parties in fine restaurants. When my sister and I
convinced our parents how miserable we both were at the Sunday
school they joined an agnostic, humanist organization known as
the Ethical Culture Movement.
The Ethical Culture Movement was founded late in the 19th cen-
tury by Felix Alder. While studying for rabbinate, Felix Alder grew
convinced that devotion to ethical values as relative and man-made,
regarding any supernaturalism or theology as irrelevant, constituted
the only religion fit for the modern world. I attended the Ethical
Culture Sunday School each week from the age of eleven until I
graduated at fifteen. Here I grew into complete accord with the
ideas of the movement and regarded all traditional, organized
religions with scorn.
When I was eighteen years old I became a member of the local
Zionist youth movement known as the Mizrachi Hatzair. But
when I found out what the nature of Zionism was, which made
the hostility between Jews and Arabs irreconcilable, I left several
months later in disgust. When I was twenty and a student at New
York University, one of my elective courses was entitled Judaism in
Islam. My professor, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Katsh, the head of the
department of Hebrew Studies there, spared no efforts to convince
his students--all Jews, many of whom aspired to become rabbis-
-that Islam was derived from Judaism. Our textbook, written by
him, took each verse from the Quran, painstakingly tracing it to its
allegedly Jewish source. Although his real aim was to prove to his
students the superiority of Judaism over Islam, he convinced me
diametrically of the opposite.
I soon discovered that Zionism was merely a combination of the
racist, tribalistic aspects of Judaism. Modern secular nationalistic
Zionism was further discredited in my eyes when I learned that
few, if any, of the leaders of Zionism were observant Jews and that
perhaps nowhere is Orthodox, traditional Judaism regarded with
such intense contempt as in Israel. When I found nearly all import-
ant Jewish leaders in America supporters for Zionism, who felt not
the slightest twinge of conscience because of the terrible injustice
inflicted upon the Palestinian Arabs, I could no longer consider
myself a Jew at heart.
One morning in November 1954, Professor Katsh, during his lecture,
argued with irrefutable logic that the monotheism taught by Moses
(peace be upon him) and the Divine Laws reveled to him were
indispensable as the basis for all higher ethical values.
If morals were purely man-made, as the Ethical Culture and other
agnostic and atheistic philosophies taught, then they could be
changed at will, according to mere whim, convenience or circum-
stance. The result would be utter chaos leading to individual and
collective ruin. Belief in the Hereafter, as the Rabbis in the Talmud
taught, argued Professor Katsh, was not mere wishful thinking but
a moral necessity. Only those, he said, who firmly believed that
each of us will be summoned by God on Judgment Day to render
a complete account of our life on earth and rewarded or punished
accordingly, will possess the self-discipline to sacrifice transitory
pleasure and endure hardships and sacrifice to attain lasting good.
It was in Professor Katsh’s class that I met Zenita, the most unusual
and fascinating girl I have ever met. The first time I entered Profes-
sor Katsh’s class, as I looked around the room for an empty desk
in which to sit, I spied two empty seats, on the arm of one, three
big beautifully bound volumes of Yusuf Ali’s English translation and
commentary of the Holy Quran. I sat down right there, burning
with curiosity to find out to whom these volumes belonged. Just
before Rabbi Katsh’s lecture was to begin, a tall, very slim girl with
pale complexion framed by thick auburn hair, sat next to me. Her
appearance was so distinctive, I thought she must be a foreign
student from Turkey, Syria or some other Near Eastern country.
Most of the other students were young men wearing the black cap
of Orthodox Jewry, who wanted to become rabbis. We two were
the only girls in the class. As we were leaving the library late that
afternoon, she introduced herself to me. Born into an Orthodox
Jewish family, her parents had migrated to America from Russia
only a few years prior to the October Revolution in 1917 to es-
cape persecution. I noted that my new friend spoke English with
the precise care of a foreigner. She confirmed these speculations,
telling me that since her family and their friends speak only Yiddish
among themselves, she did not learn any English until after attending
public school. She told me that her name was Zenita Liebermann
but recently, in an attempt to Americanize themselves, her parents
had changed their name from “Liebermann” to “Lane.”