The Islamic Bulletin
The Islamic Bulletin
(in the name of Allah) -- when doing something.
(peace be on you) -- when meeting a
(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.
(in the protection of Allah) -- when saying good-
(may Allah give reward you) -- to thank a
(I rely on Allah) -- to solve a problem.
La Illaha IIIal Lah
(there is no god but Allah) -- when getting up.
(praise be to Allah) - when you sneeze.
(may Allah bless you) -- in hearing someone
(accept our prayer) -- when joining a Du’a’ (supplication).
(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
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.
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
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
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