What is Shams?
‘Shams’ means sunshine in Arabic. The sun warms and nourishes as well as enlightens. ShamsST is an offshoot project from our central platform Seerah Today The aims of ShamsST is to focus on exploring issues that are swept under the carpet or avoided in Islamic circles but which young people often find themselves being intrigued by or confronted with.
The reason for this is not to provide new fatwas. It is just to help you think about lesser discussed, more taboo issues from Muslim perspective but also taking into account the prevalent cultural viewpoints.
Each topic will discuss different viewpoints and also will give the various Muslim rulings and will encourage you to think through things as a young Muslim in your own way and according to your own context.
There are many different books and organisations which will be able to give you clear fatwas if that is what you are seeking. This is not what this website provides. It is just helping you to think.
Ultimately, your path is your own and your choices are your own.
‘No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another’ (Qur’an 35:18)
But doesn’t the Shar’iah give the answers?
The path to Allah is called Deen and it consist of three areas. The first is Iman (or Belief). It comprises of a set of ‘things’ that a Muslim believes in.
The second is Islam; and it comprises the ‘practical’ aspect of the Deen. One of Islam’s main areas is Fiqh . This the the law or legal code. The practical application of this legal code is called Shari’ah.
Finally there is Ihsan, which is the third component of Deen. This comprises personal ethics and behaviour and the excellence and perfection of oneself. Now days, when we mention the term Islam, what we really mean is Deen. These two terms are usually interchangeable, but sometimes it is important to clarify the distinction between the two.
The Shari’ah acts as a guideline for mankind to walk the path to Allah. A few areas are absolutely forbidden for example murder, but a lot more areas are grey. That is to say; there is a wealth of differing opinions with regards to how to act in those circumstances. There is tremendous depth and nuance to the rulings and thus there is no ‘one size fits all’ scenario. The best thing to do is to speak to a learned person regarding your own unique set of circumstances and issues to get the best and balanced advice.
Allah the All Loving and All Merciful gives us these rulings to show His Care and Concern for all of us. Islam is based on love because Allah is Loving. Our Prophet pbuH was sent as a Mercy to the World.
The Prophet pbuH was the first to interpret the Quran and enacted Shari’ah as a legal code within the Islamic Civilisation. The Shari’ah has given those who followed the Messenger of God the required tools to adapt God’s legislation to suit differing times, peoples and circumstances.
As we encounter new inventions or situations, the Prophetic intellectual legacy given to us has given our current scholars the framework to best deal with these modern issues. This is all part of the Shari’ah. Some of these modern questions include: is make-up haram? How can I fast in summer? Is Bitcoin permissible? How about third party surrogacy? Can I have a girlfriend/boyfriend? What does Islam say about LGBTQ+? Believe it or not, Islam has answers to all these questions!
Every person is unique and every situation is different. This is one of the beautiful signs of Allah SWT and when we encounter differences, Allah SWT bids us to try and understand them:
‘We created you…., and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other).’ (Qur’an 49:13)
Alhamdulillah, the shari’ah recognises aberrations. It accommodates differences.
So should we.
There are people and situations that are not fully understood by the scholars because for every example there will always be an exception. Although the Qur’an is perfect and the example of Muhammad SAW was perfect, the Shari’ah is a ‘live document’ and a work in progress as the evolution of humanity occurs. Where there are new questions that arise is it important to keep in mind the inclusivity of Islam;
Islam leaves no one out in the cold.
Last but not least, always remember that the vast majority of the Deen is Mubah (permissible). What culture and society has made HARAM is far more than what Allah The Creator has made haram. Strange is it not?!
Leaving no-one in the cold does not mean that everything is permissible. Having an open mind is a good thing. An open mind is the mind that is able to progress self and society. But an open mind shouldn’t mean we have no boundaries. Islam provides us with boundaries intended for personal and societal safety and well being.
You will see from the above diagram that all religions and no religions have boundaries. Most people do. You will also see that a lot of the values contained within the values overlap between those who are religious, from different religions and those who have no religion. We just tend not to talk about the things we agree on quite as much!
Muslims, all agree on the vast majority of beliefs and values but there are areas where there is diversity of opinion as well.
You have to make the right decisions for you according to your own understanding and faith. This information is just here to help you explore.
Growing up is not easy. It is not easy for parents or teens. The gulf that can exist when there are cultural and religious complications can make the process even more challenging. The pages on this website are intended for teens and their parents to help ‘bridge the gap’ and also to satisfy curiosity in a safe way.
Growing up, I was not Muslim. I chose Islam in 2010 after a lot of soul searching. Please see the YouTube video of my experience here. This, coupled with my 15 years working with Muslim teens and being the mother of Muslim teen means that I am in a position to understand the ‘story from both sides’ and wanted to provide some help and information. I am also a mother, a teacher of RE in English secondary schools, writer of Muslim childrens books for girls aged 5-8 and trustee and director of the registered charity Seerah Today.
Please feel free to email directly: firstname.lastname@example.org any questions you may have pertaining to how to deal with your teen or if you are a teen, what is right and wrong and how you might best be able to approach a situation as a young Muslim. If we are unable to help we will find the right people for you to speak to.
With best wishes,
Sister Rose Qadriyyah, ShamsST