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      Dr. Tasneem Shamim is giving a presentation on December 4, 2004 at Stevens Institute in Hoboken, New Jersey. The topic is about "The Chosen Ones" according to each each religous group. Last year she gave a similar speech on the topic of "Woman's Role in Islam." This is the abstract of her "Chosen Ones"  lecture:
The topic of "Who is Privileged by God" is a very difficult one to answer, since only He knows  and we do not know. He can judge, but not us. All that we in Islam can do, is to find the guidelines of "Who are the people that please him" and find ways of practicing them, to the best of the ability of our souls.
I would like to use a few quotes from Quran as our guidelines for discussion. These are mentioned below.
Surah 49,(Private apartments) verse 13 says "O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.
Surah 25 (Criterions) v63 and 64 The faithful servants of the Benefiecient are they who walk upon the earth modestly and when the foolish ones address them answer: Peace.
And who spend the night before their Lord, prostate and standing.
Surah 2 (Cow) verse 277. Lo! Those who believe and do good works and establish worship and pay the poor due, their reward is with their Lord and there shall no fear come upon them nor shall they grieve.
Surah 4 (women) verse 95 and 96. Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who are disabled, are not an on equality with those strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah has conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah has promised good, but He has bestowed on those who strive, a great reward above the sedentary.
Degrees of rank from Him, and forgiveness and mercy. Allah is forgiving. Merciful.
With the above verses of the holy Quran as background we realize that the only competition that is allowed in Islam is the competition to be a better servant of Allah, and strive with our actions to be more pleasing to him. We as Muslims believe that the ones privileged by god are the ones that have the awareness to search for "Truth", to reflect upon themselves, meditate, and follow the guidelines of the books sent by God through his 124,000 Prophets.
The meditation part of it, is the "Tariqat" which is equivalent to the gas of a car, and the guidelines of the books are the "Shariyath" which is the body of a car. You need both to move.
The unprivileged ones of God, are deaf, dumb and blind spiritually, and do not possess higher awareness. They are ruled by their "egoes". They do not meditate, nor do they care to fight against their egoes, with the qualities of anger, arrogance, stubborness, and jealously. To judge people as such implies a feeling of "Superiority" hence the enemy, arrogance, can take over. So when one comes across people that seem to be trapped in their egoes or the materialism, unaware of the dangers, one may present ideas to them to help, but can not force to change.. The change can come only from Allah. When the time for a change comes, the people that appeared "lower" spiritually, may infact improve to a level better than yourself. Hence the restriction of Judging "others".
Most wrong is done by people with half baked knowledge, who are arrogant in thinking they are correct. There is a saying that " One educated practicing scholar is a worse enemyof Satan, than a thousand idle worshippers. The problem with these days is the onset of ignorance among all people.
Privilged are the ones that God has opened the hearts, and opened the veils of ignorance, since neither the heaven nor the earth can hold God but the heart of a believer does!
This is the abstact of the "Woman's Role in Islam" lecture:
     Islam literally means "Submission to the will of God", so has had its inception with the creation of the first man, Prophet Adam. God has sent the same message with all his 124,000 Prophets, the last being Prophet Mohammed, (peace be upon him). The laws, in their final and last forms have been defined in many verses of the Quran and are called "Shariah". Shariah does specifically  define the women's roles. Men and women are considered equal, in terms of spirituality and intelligence, but have different gender roles. <en's primary duty is to provide for his family, and the women's primary duty is to maintain peace and love.
     Important women in early Islamic history, are Prophet's wife Bibi Khadija, who was educated, cultured and a very successful business woman. After her passing away, Prophet married Bibi Ayesha, who was highly educated, esteemed scholar in Quran, sciencey, poetry, medicines and Arab History. She helped the wounded in the battle fields with other women, and in fact led a battle as a leader. Bibi Fatima, was Prophet's daughter, respected for her education, kindness, piety and helpfulness.
     The other highly respected and honored women in Islam are Bibi Asiah, the wife of the Pharaoh, and the lady that adopted Prophet Moses, and Bibi Maryam, the mother of Prophet Jesus.
     Political rights have been enjoyed by women for 1400 years, along with the right to inherit and own property, right to education, and right to divorce in an unsuccessful marriage. The women have been encouraged to have jobs and help the community. In modern days, the countries to which they belong define their political rights. In America, they find a balance between the American society's ideas, and their Islamic beliefs.
     Modesty is an important virtue for a Muslim woman. "Hijaab" is a guideline for hwo a woman dresses, and defines her mannerisms and behaviour in public. Modesty protects her and secures respect for her, and encourages her to be still active and involved in the community. Modesty of dressing does not mean meekness. It infact liberates her, and helps intereact with others as a person and not be percieved as a "sex object". Different follow the rules of dressing to differenct levels, but the choice is a personal decision made by the women.

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