Saturday, April 6, 2013

Musalla | Imam Afroz Ali on equality


Musalla is an Arabic word for our Malay version for surau - a small room in a building or an outbuilding reserved for Muslims to perform our five daily prayers when we are out and about. Musalla at shopping malls in Malaysia is known for being below par. The one at BSC (Bangsar Shopping Centre) in KL, in my opinion, is par excellence. 

Today at the BSC musalla, Imam Afroz Ali of the Seekers Guidance and the founder of Al Ghazalli Institute of Australia gave a talk on 'Equality in Islam'. The event was jointly organized by Radical Middle Way of UK and Young Muslims Project of Malaysia.

It was my first time attending an event in KL which had a different approach in the way it was moderated. Imam Afroz wanted it to be interactive, and attendees were encouraged to discuss and express their views openly.

Because I wasn't expecting that, because I was feeling exhausted from travelling and because my comprehension level of spoken English was rather poor, I could not absorb as much information and knowledge as I had hoped.

Some points I did manage to jot down: 
  • Love needs not have a definition. Love may have a description from how you have experienced it.
  • We should not worry about form. We should get ourself concerned with meaning instead.
  • The secret of knowledge is service.
  • Man and woman are biologically different. A research shows that colors mean nothing to an infant male. He sees motion more than anything. A female infant on the other hand recognizes color better and is more conscious of soft and hard objects. 
  • Our education system is male centric.
  • Men tend to look for solution and women just need to express themselves.
  • When we speak of equality, an aspect of it is sameness.
  • There is a 'sameness' between men and women but we are different and in the eyes of Allah we are the same except in terms of piety (taqwa).
  • Two key Arabic definitions in relation to equality for us to note:
  1. Musawa - from Arabic word sawa or sawiya meaning equality which means to be the same, to put on the same level, to put on equal footing, non-discrimination before law. 
  2. Adala - means justice of equality that is to be fair and impartial to rights, honor of integrity and non-discrimination before law.
When talking about equality in Islam we should use adala instead of musawa. Equality in Islam is about returning to "whole". It is about equitable justice. It's about wholeness of equality.  

One common example is the authority a man has over woman in a marriage. Imam Afroz said man being a leader is not a privilege but a responsibility. Though a man may seem to have the upper hand in a marriage, he is actually subservient to a woman, his mother. So overall, in Islam this wholeness of equality becomes apparent. 
Allahu a'lam.  

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