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The Islamic Bulletin

Issue 11

Page 9

The Islamic Bulletin

Issue 11












(in the name of Allah) -- when doing something.


(peace be on you) -- when meeting a


Waalaikumus salaam

(peace be on you too) -- in reply.


(if Allah wishes) -- when hoping to do something.


(Glory to Allah) -- to praise someone.

Ma sha Allah

(what Allah likes) -- in appreciation.

Fi Amanillah

(in the protection of Allah) -- when saying good-


Jazakallahu Khair

(may Allah give reward you) -- to thank a


Tawakkaltu’ Alallah

(I rely on Allah) -- to solve a problem.

La Illaha IIIal Lah

(there is no god but Allah) -- when getting up.

Alhamdu lillah

(praise be to Allah) - when you sneeze.


(may Allah bless you) -- in hearing someone



(accept our prayer) -- when joining a Du’a’ (supplication).

Ya Allah

(O Allah) -- when in pain or distress.


(O Allah forgive me) -- to be sorry for a bad



(we seek refuge with Allah) -- to show your


Inna lillah Weina ileihe Rajeun

(To God we belong and to

Him we return) -- when you hear about someone’s death.

Muslimwomen are nomore or less ugly than other women, but they

do not flaunt their attractions. Muslimwomen expect to be appreci-

ated for their mind and characters, not just for their bodies. AMuslim

woman is required to conceal her attractions from men by a strictly

modest, straight-forward type of attire. Modest dress does not degrade

women, but it discourages lust inmen. Within the close family circle,

she is free to dress informally and to beautify herself; in fact, she is

strongly encouraged to make herself attractive for her husband since

her beauty is reserved for him. She is also free to do the same among

other Muslimwomen if noman is present. But outside her home and

at any time when she is in the presence of non-mahrem men, even

within her home, she is required to wear a covering-type of dress

which will make it clear to anyone who sees her that she is a chaste,

modest and pure woman, and that she does not want her sexuality

to enter into the interaction in the slightest degree.

A Muslim woman in this business-like, non-attracting kind of dress

which brings out her femininity while concealing her sexuality, and

with correspondingly straight-forward behavior, automatically elicits

and receives the respect of men just as nuns, whose habits are some-

what similar to the covering dress of Muslim women, have always

been respected. This type of dress, which is known as hijab or purdah,

is prescribed by a direct order in the Qur’an and is a characteristic

by which a conscientious Muslim woman is recognizable anywhere

in the world. We will have more to say on this subject in the section

on clothing.

It is within this context that the Islamic concept of womanhood

may be understood most clearly. The respect and status which a

Muslim woman enjoys are not tied up in any way with her physical

attractiveness or social skills in relation to men; rather it is concealing

and reserving her beauty and sexuality, her feminine charms and

favors, exclusively for the man she has married which marks her as

a virtuous woman and gains her respect. Indeed, Islam prescribes

hijab not only to protect society from the disruption produced by

uncontrolled expressions of sexual interest and in order to protect

woman’s dignity and honor, but also in order to neutralize her sexu-

ality so that she can be a positive, constructive force in society rather

than a harmful one. Due to this modest dress and the propriety of

her manner and behavior, men can regard and treat her as a person,

not a sex object; that is, her value to the society has no relationship

to her physical attractions but solely to her worth as a human being.

Consequently , as a Muslim woman grows older she loses none of

her value either in her own eyes or in the sight of society, for among

Muslims a woman’s worth, like a man’s , increases with age due to

her wisdom and experience instead of decreasing with her declining

youthfulness and beauty. For the Muslim woman, her character and

personal attainments, her modesty and dignity, her piety and intelli-

gence, and her feminine role as wife and mother are the sources of

status and respect within the community rather than her possessing

sexual interest, attractiveness or easy sociability with men.

But lest it be thought that the responsibility for maintaining pure re-

lations with the opposite sex rests with women alone, we have only

to cite the following well-known Qur’anic verse:

Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and

guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them.

And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the

believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard

their modesty...” (Quran 24:30-31)

The Islamic teachings thus inculcate in men and women alike a

strong sense of hay, that is, shyness, reserve and modesty in the

presence of the opposite sex (and indeed, in relation to modesty,

of one’s own sex as well), which acts as a very strong deterrent

against indecency. Due to this, a conscious Muslim man avoids

just as scrupulously as his Muslim sister anything which would lead

him toward what is forbidden or would lower him in his own eyes

or before his Lord; likewise his dress and manner demonstrate

that he possesses self-respect and is free of indecent intentions

and desires. In short, chastity, modesty and purity are not merely

external restraints imposed by religion or society but are rather

inner qualities which devout Muslimmen as well as women deeply

cherish and desire to uphold.

It will be obvious from this that Muslims generally do not feel at

ease with the current trends in Western society. Conscientious

Muslims who come to visit or to live in Western countries are

often deeply shocked by the general lack of shame and modesty,

by the fact that illicit sex is no longer censured in the society as

a whole, and they regard the open display of flesh and the overt

sexual behavior which they see all around them as animalistic and

degrading. The fact that sexual undertones can be observed in

innumerable aspects of the interaction between men and wom-

en in Western society-- between a professor and his student, a

doctor and his patient, or a boss and a secretary in an office, for

example, and between neighbors, friends and even relatives--in

the form of the off-color joke, the compliments, the back-patting,

the constant undercurrent of sexually-tinged innuendo which one

encounters on so many occasions is also very distressing to them.

Among Muslims, apart from the very westernized and others, pri-

marily young people, who have lost their sense of direction, such

behavior is very rare indeed; certainly the interaction of men and

women who fear God and strictly observe His limits is completely

free of these elements. The observing of the limits informs both

the man and the woman that there is no place and no wish for

anything to do with sex in their interaction; indeed, if there were

such undertones it would be felt as a great threat as well as a gross

insult, and would render further interaction prohibited and impos-

sible. To a conscious Muslim man or woman, attention from any

member of the opposite sex other than one’s own spouse in the

form of free talk, compliments, playfulness, suggestive comments,

touching in any form (including handshaking and patting on the

back), and anything else which has sexual undertones is insulting,

degrading and very much disliked.

In summary, Islam regards the sexual urge as an extremely powerful

element in human nature, one which clamors for free expression

if given even slight encouragement. Without such guidelines and

limits for governing it as we have just discussed, and without the

certainty that such behavior is forbidden and will be very severely

punished in the Hereafter, it will naturally seek to express itself

freely, as we see in Western societies. Recognizing the strength

of this drive and the fact that it is always present in any situation

where men and women interact freely with one another, are

alone together, and where bodies are exposed, Islam does not

permit any of these things; for it is obviously far more desirable

and effective--as well as much more realistic--to prevent tempta-

tion than to expect people to resist it when circumstances impel

them toward it.

Islam also insists on the right of an individual to have a spouse

who belongs exclusively to him/her. It totally rejects the notion

that what people feel for each other or the pleasure they derive

from an act should be taken as the criteria of right and wrong,

and that obedience to the unbridled demands of animal desires

should be permitted to dominate the lives of human beings. The

moral and spiritual harm done to individuals, and through them

to their society, when they disregard the vital need of the human

personality for purity and integrity to follow blind physical desire,

cannot be assessed by anyone but God, Who has so clearly and

absolutely prohibited such acts, and Who has also informed us

the awesome penalties which such proscribed deeds will incur

in the Life-to-Come.

















- V




Vincent Montagne is a French scholar and a tourist specialized in

the study of Arab and Islamic issues. He spent many years in the

eastern and the western Arab countries. He also went to Iran,

Senegal and Indonesia, and visited Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast,

Niger, Mauritania and Sierra Leone. He published about one

hundred theses and articles; this in addition to twenty books on

Islam, Islamic civilization, Muslims and Arabic language. Some

of these books are the following: Islam in Indonesia, Islam in

the USSR, World of Islam, Arabs...etc. Montagne also spent six

years of his life translating Ibn Khaldun Introduction to French

language. The end of this tour of thought and countries was

culminated by his declaration of Islam in Mauritania. “France

and The Arab World” journal published a detailed article about

his conversion to Islam. The said article was republished in full

by the Tunisian journal “La Presse” journal also published parts

of the article. But no comment was given of any kind by both

papers. Let us now hear what Mr. Montagne has to explain

regarding why he embraced Islam.

Q: Would you kindly tell us how your interest in Islam began?

A: “When a person embraces Islam, he is actually choosing a

religion, nay a way in which he stepped over his own self. In

other words, he was chosen a new concept of the universe, a

way of life and joined very clearly a new nation united by faith.

For me this in fact meant that I should stand, despite my old

age, in the line of the poor people, in the midst of tempests’

area and to the side of the Palestinians. It also means that I

should stand away from the big powers and put money aside

without too much hermitage that I should be on the side of

justice and right.

While we find the contemporary world makes technology an

end that justifies the means, and this is really unfortunate, we

find that abiding by Islam makes one reject this concept and

believe in higher values. Still I remained a French national just

like Charles De Gaulle and France remains my home land, but

the Arab world is my spiritual country as Loy Masinion told

me in May 1940. My belief in Islam represents the fulfillment

of my inner cravings, and the ultimate goal of my existence.

It does not tear me, as it is claimed, into two loyalties. It,

on the contrary, gathers all the threads of feeling into one

harmonious whole.

My conversion to Islam may be attributed to religious, ethical

and social factors as well as to cultural motives and eternal

support. As regards the religious factors the holy Prophet

Muhammad reminds us in one of his sayings of a permanent

truth. He says: Every child is born in nature (belief in Islam).

His parents make him Jew, Christian or Magian.

I grew up in a Catholic family, and had forsaken all religious

rites since my early days. Christian beliefs seemed to me

mysterious, its rites looked useless. As regards the clergymen,

although I appreciate solitary contemplation, yet I do not

find myself in need of a mediator between the Creator and

the created.

I felt afterwards the great obstacles between Islam and Christi-

anity namely the deification of Jesus Christ which is completely

rejected in Islam, and the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH)

which the Christians refuse. Thus all attempts of compromise

seemed to me a source of trouble and disturbance. It was es-

sential for me to make choice the one or the other i.e. Islam

or Christianity.