A Closer Look in the Mirror

Bayyinah’s popular “That’s Messed Up” series was the result of a dynamic interaction between Bayyinah Institute and thousands of online followers of Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan. We collected and sorted an endless stream of viewers’ questions to come up with the topics tackled in this eight-part series, and the results were phenomenal.

The episodes directly address issues of importance to Bayyinah Institute’s key audiences – women, Muslims struggling with their faith, curious non-Muslims and young Muslims on the verge of extremism. These include:

Realizing the seriousness of the topics preoccupying the vast majority of people who had reached out to Bayyinah with a plea for answers, Ustadh Nouman tackled several of these somewhat taboo topics in an engaging and informative way, dissecting them and filtering out cultural practices from religious edicts, tearing down many myths in the process.

The most popular video in the series, “To Cover or Not to Cover”, for instance, addresses the issue of hijab. Here Ustadh Nouman answers claims that the headscarf is not obligatory, while at the same time highlighting the fact that it was not immediately decreed by Allah, as evidenced by the time the relevant ayat were revealed in the Quran. Ultimately, the relationship between us and our creator is that of the merciful, loving master and his slaves, as Ustadh explains in Master and Slaves.

An episode about wives and in-laws tackles stipulations made by some husbands who forbid their wives from seeing her families. This inappropriate behavior is not Islamic, says Ustadh Nouman, but is a form of emotional abuse that threatens the mental health of the wife. It is technically haram, according to Islamic law. Marriage, he continues, must never trump a woman’s obligations towards her parents, as the Quran is explicit in its commandment to practice ihsan (the ultimate form of goodness) towards parents.

In a related episode titled “Hitting Women”, Ustadh Nouman unpacks the ayah in Surah An-Nisa, explaining it in context and refuting allegations and accusations that Islam encourages violence against women. Such cultural denigration of women, he says, has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with questionable ethics and hypocrisy. The episode Forced Marriage, is a wake-up call to parents who not only impose their own choices on their daughters, but striking at their self-esteem to such an extent that they feel unworthy of making their own choices, and must accept any proposal. This is fundamentally against the principals that Allah has instated on the institution of marriage, that stresses women’s undisputed right to make a free choice without being coerced.

“That’s Messed Up” series struck a powerful chord with millions of viewers all over the globe owing to its simple and convincing arguments that attempt to redress mindsets which harm the Muslim community as a whole.

Bayyinah Institute is currently planning season two of “That’s Messed Up” and we pray to Allah that it will be of benefit to all those who watch it.

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