South Asian Culture and Islam

A searing critique dispelling misinterpretations of women in Islam amongst cultural practices.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Pakistan and came to England with my mother and siblings when I was eight years old. My father was already here in the UK. He had been working at various hospitals as a doctor. When he became settled in one place, Coventry, he called us over to join him. I grew up in Coventry, went to a private high school nearby in Kenilworth and later moved to London for higher education. I married my husband who was already living in London and alhamdulillah we have two‌‌children.‌

‌Much of my studies, as well as the training with the Citizens Advice Bureau, took place after my marriage. I still work for the Bureau as an adviser and also give legal advice at one of the Bureau’s outreaches which takes place at the children’s centre. I think my deeper understanding of Islam really began after my marriage. I met Dr. Majdah Barhamein from Makkah, who was to become one of my very influential Islamic teachers, at a London mosque whist she was giving a talk to a group of young women. After listening to her there and later meeting with her, I became her student for about three years until she returned to Saudi Arabia.

I am a strong believer in education and learning new skills. I think one continues to improve and grow through learning. I believe if you stop learning, you stop growing and are more likely to become stagnant. ‘South Asian Culture and Islam’ is the result of several years of research, masha'Allah.

What were your main reasons for researching and writing the book?

It was in the duration of sister Majdah’s teachings that I began to realise there was a big difference or should I say discrepancies between the teachings of the Middle Eastern scholars and our own elders. I was hearing stories from various friends and acquaintances either about their own personal experiences or stories of others they knew that were undergoing miserable relationships with their spouses, simply because of external pressures from their families or interferences by living within a‌‌joint family system. Some ended in a divorce and some were living miserable lives with their spouses but didn’t divorce for the sake of the children. Alhamdulillah I felt that I had the resources to travel, research and possibly write a book that differentiates the oppressive South Asian cultural practices from Islamic principles.

Although the book focuses upon addressing the discrepancies between South Asian culture and Islam, you do also recognise that, in some cases, certain South Asian cultural practises are performed in harmony with Islam and in ways which nurture Muslims.

Can you highlight some positive aspects of South Asian culture?

I think that there is much hospitality in the treatment of one’s guests in South Asian culture and this includes generous offerings of food. The guests are treated well and given great importance. I think the hospitality given to one’s guests can celebrate the positive aspects of the culture.


I also think that the beautiful traditional and cultural dress called shalwar kameeze can look very much in harmony with the Islamic way of dressing because it does not only feel comfortable but can look modest, and yet also appear graceful and elegant.

Towards the end of the book, you recommend the benefits of voluntary work. What are your experiences and what do you particularly value about volunteering?

I think many of us do things voluntarily in our everyday lives such as picking up a friend’s child from school or helping with someone’s shopping. My own personal experiences of volunteering that I can think of are cooking for a sick neighbour, setting up a Sunday School to teach Islamic studies and volunteering to give advice at the Bureau when I was still working there as a trainee. I think what I value most about volunteering is that it is a way of socialising with others whilst doing‌‌something productive at the same time. You learn new skills, share knowledge and I think it is a great way of making friends.

Masha Allah, you have made a section from the book freely available on your website. Why is  that important to you?

The oppressive culture mentioned in the book is a very widespread problem and the internet has a better chance of reaching many parts of the world that the book may never get to or people may not be able to afford to buy the book. And of course passing knowledge is in itself an ongoing charity.

What advice would you give to sisters who are experiencing oppression, or who know of  others experiencing oppression?

I think it is important to find someone you are able to trust and with whom you can communicate well. When you are facing oppression it is easy to become depressed and it can be difficult to think outside you own personal situation. So having someone to talk to or even to go for counselling if necessary can be very beneficial to the mental state of an oppressed human being. I think having a good listener and supporter can help you deal with your feelings and emotions. It can further help‌‌you to see if there is anything you can do to make your situation any different if that is at all possible.


If you know someone that is facing oppression, I think you need to be attentive and be a good listener so that you can try and understand what their needs are. I think it is important not to make a decision for them unless this should be absolutely necessary but rather to show them what their different options might be as well as the pros and cons of each of those options as they may not be able to think clearly for themselves.

And of course the most powerful thing is to make du’a for the oppressed and to encourage the oppressed to also make du’a so that insha Allah she is alleviated from oppression.

What are your du’as for those suffering the adverse effects of un-Islamic South Asian culture?

The suffering can come in all kinds of forms whether it’s physical, verbal or psychological. Unfortunately many horrible things happen to women in South Asia. It can be from acid attacks to becoming tortured and disabled. It is hard to sit here and imagine what those women must go through. To make matters worse, many women are forced to suffer in silence due to the fear of their own lives or because of maintaining family honour or because they simply cannot get any form of‌‌justice. Often the criminals that carry out such atrocities go unpunished. I think the du’as for the suffering is essential. I would ask Allah (SWT) to give us a good and clear understanding of Islam, the removal of oppressive un-Islamic practices in all its forms and a spread of compassion, justice and peace everywhere.


May Allah (SWT) reward author Uzma Hussain and editor Sheikh Ismail Mahgoub with good for bringing the rights of Muslim women into discussion through this accessible book, and may Allah (SWT) guide everyone who reads it to overcome oppressions, to respect themselves and others as pleases Him and to achieve a sound heart. Amin.

The website for the book is

23 days ago

Get married, free, on muzmatch.

South African Match! #muzmatchsuccess

My name is Halima and I'm from Gauteng, South Africa and my husband (Arshad) is from Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa; we are both South African Indians.

He liked my profile on muzmatch on the 8th of April 2018 and on the 9th we started chatting and Alhamdulillah, today we are husband and wife.

We did our Nikah last month (March 9th 2019).

About a month before I joined muzmatch I remember speaking to my mother in the kitchen as we cooked supper and she had full confidence that I'd be getting married soon.

I told her that I felt that maybe I'm just not meant to get married and be happy, taking into consideration that I personally felt like one could never find a decent man whose intention is to make Nikah in this day and age.

My Moulana had recommended that I join Nikah/Muslim match-making groups and muzmatch populated amongst my searches, so I downloaded the app and registered. After a while I had lost hope so I deleted the app from my phone but did not deactivate my profile.

It was a Monday morning, I had woken up to get ready for work,

I checked my phone and I had an email notification from muzmatch which read "Arshad likes you".

I was quite surprised; I looked at his profile and his biography was quite captivating but it seemed so surreal - this was too good to be true.

Wintery iPhone Flat Lay Mock Up
Photo by Emma Matthews / Unsplash

I used the link in his bio to view his Facebook profile, we had a mutual friend which was my cousin that also resides in Kwa-Zulu Natal, so I felt a bit more assured that this is definitely real considering that I had started to think that this could potentially be a catfish.

We started chatting that very morning and there was an instant click. It felt like we were long lost friends because of how well we understood each other and could complete each others sentences. We had the same interests and the same intention; we could speak for hours on end without running out of things to say.

We had realized that we are most definitely soulmates.

Within 2 weeks he called my parents to ask for my hand in marriage. In July 2018 (21st), I booked a flight to visit him and his mum for the day and after spending time together we knew that this was the right decision and that Allah SWT had created us for each other.

Photo by Ross Parmly / Unsplash

We then saw each other once again in August 2018 (25th - A surprise for my 21st birthday planned by him and my mum); and again in November 2018 when he flew up to attend my younger sister's wedding with his mum, younger sister and brother-in-law.

Slowly the long distance had become difficult, our younger sisters were both already married and settled and we started wondering when would we actually get married. In February this year he decided to relocate to Gauteng and found a temporary job.

His dad visited my parents and they decided to set a Nikah date, Alhamdulillah once the date was set everything fell into place by the will of Allah. He found a job as a PC Engineering lecturer and we were able to find our own place with our parents help and support.

Today I am happily married, living my dream with my husband and I have wonderful in-laws that love me as much as they love Arshad.

The most important quality I wanted in a husband was someone that could take my family as his own and Alhamdulillah I found that in Arshad.

We are now a huge happy family Alhamdulillah.

Jazak'Allah muzmatch! Arshad has found me due to the creation of this wonderful app (He always says that he found me, not the other way around).

I would advise everyone to put their trust and faith in Allah SWT, never give up hope that Allah SWT will send the one who is meant for you when the time is right - for Allah is the greatest of planners. May all the other individuals find their spouses through this app as well Insha'Allah.

Halima & Arshad

4 days ago

Egyptian Romance #muzmatchsuccess

My name is Yasmeen and I found my husband, Taymoor, on muzmatch on the last day of last ramadan. We were both divorced.

The first time we talked on muzmatch was in June and we got married one month later in August 2018. I always wanted to send our story to inspire others who are searching for a good husband and wife.  

We are both Egyptians, from Cairo, we even work & live very near to each others in New Cairo city. I am a digital marketing manager and Taymoor is an IT manager. I am 37 years old and he is 40.  

Influences of the past —
Stories, desire and a vivid imagination
attract people to this place.
Photo by Simon Matzinger / Unsplash

I have a daughter who is 12 years old, and I was searching for a real Muslim man who would be a good husband and father. Finally I found Taymoor, who is a good man and a good Muslim, he is very kind.

I am telling my friends that I found someone who really looks like me from the inside.  He was divorced and also has a kid, who is 5 years old. When we first chatted on muzmatch we spoke for over 6 hours, he was surprised much we got on, he even thought that this was a prank!

I couldn't believe that I finally found the man I was looking for. The first time we met, was after Eid al futr, in the House of Cocoa, as Taymoor knew that I loved chocolate. We talked about ourselves for over six hours, I did not want to leave and neither did he.

After we met I told my family and friends, and he did too. He and his family visited us and we got married in only two months, I never imagined that I would find my soulmate and marry him that fast.

I always wanted to find a man to trust and love, after being a single mom for years, I found out that my dream man was hard to find, but alhamdullah I found him on your app.  

Alhamdullah, we are very happy together, my daughter lives with us and his son visits us on the weekends. You cannot imagine how much I am now recommending muzmatch to all my friends.

It didn't even take me long to find my husband. I used the app for almost one month or less.

I am so happy alhamdullah now that I married a real muslim I always wanted.  

5 days ago

Get married, free, on muzmatch.

Close Call #muzmatchsuccess

My name is Sara and I just wanted to thank muzmatch and let you know that I finally got engaged on 24th December 2018 and found my Fiance - Ghazunfar on the App.  

We are really happy Alhamdulilah and just wanted to thank you for creating a platform for Muslims to find a suitable match for marriage!    

I believe it's a real blessing because initially we matched but we didn't talk as he hadn't read my messages and was not appearing online. After around 4 weeks, I unmatched however after some weeks I logged in and I came across his profile again. After some giving it some thought I decided to rematch and give it a try again.

The next day he replied to me and the is history.  Its been a almost a year since we matched on Muzmatch and we have set the Nikkah date which will be 1st March 2019 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.  

Our families are very happy and we are looking forward to entering into the blessed union of marriage Insha'Allah. We just wanted to say keep up the good work, may Allah bless you and request that you keep us in prayers.  

One last thing to everyone using the  muzmatch App - please do not give up, there is someone out there for us all!  

5 days ago

Get married, free, on muzmatch.

© 2019 muzmatch Inc.