The local MAS sent out an e-mail announcing that Shaykh Ibrahim Madani is coming to town this weekend, July 11 and 12. He's lecturing, leading prayers and giving one-on-one counseling sessions at the Islamic Center of Burlington. Now there's a golden opportunity.
Who is Shaykh Madani? He was born in Medinah, Saudi Arabia, where he studied the Koran and the Hadith (traditions about what the Muslim prophet Muhammed said and did). In 1980, he went to England and studied at Darul-Uloom Holocombe, one of a chain of Deobandi madrassahs. In 1987, Madani moved to Waterloo, Canada to be an imam at a mosque there. In 1991, he moved to Buffalo, New York with his father and brothers to help establish Darul-Uloom Al-Madania, an Islamic boarding school. Madani is currently an Imam for the Islamic Society of Niagara Frontier, and a teacher of Arabic, Fiqh, Hadith, and Tafseer at the madrassah he established in Buffalo.There are lots of audio files available there.
While much of what Madani writes is about improving oneself, he's also written articles about keeping your pants above your ankles, not a trivial matter. "Whatever hangs beneath the ankles of the izaar is in the hellfire." Don't want that! He's also written about what the Koran says about prayer, noting that Allah gave special orders to women: "And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform Salah, and give Zakah, and obey Allah and His Messenger." I bet some of the men at the Islamic Society of Framingham use that quote a lot, I've heard there's much controversy about women's participation at the Framinham mosque.
The Darul Ulooms boarding schools were established in 1866 "as a movement for Islamic revivalism after the fall of Islamic Empire in India," and practice traditional Sunni Islam. More on Darul Uloom here and here. This Sunni forum about the Darul Ulooms notes where the schools are in the US and Canada and what they cost. Rather predictably, a Muslim woman in Texas asks this question at the forum:
"For those of you in Houston, where can a sister study or send her children for Islamic studies, that is friendly toward Americans. I find most of the traditional masjids here are not very accomodating of women or Americans."
Tell me again why we allow these institutions in our country? How exactly does our beloved country benefit by allowing people to come here and set up institutions which are explicitly anti-American and discriminate against women?
The Darul Uloom boarding school in NY appears to allow girls to study only until the 10th grade. Boys are educated for 12 years. According to a former student, it is required for female students to wear niqab (covering everything but the eyes, even hands) if they leave the premises. Given that the only courses appear to be Islamic religious studies, I'm surprised that these are approved by New York as secondary schools. The website is curiously devoid of any pictures of actual human beings, and provides no information about teachers, aside from Madrani and the principal. Creepy. The mosque associated with the school is a former 100-year old Polish Catholic church, which is a sad statement in itself. A former student makes allegations of rampant violence and sexual abuse at the Buffalo madrassah here. While I take those allegations with a grain of salt, there's ample evidence of sexual abuse at madrassahs in Pakistan and Indonesia.
What the heck are madrassahs - notorious for generating radical Islamists - doing in this country?
And why are Boston area Muslim organizations inviting "scholars" who preach that women shouldn't attend mosques and men's pants shouldn't hit their ankles? Is this standard Islamic teaching? Do most Muslims follow this?