Women and Shariah

22 02 2008

A very good discussion on the treatment of women under the shariah following comments by Dr Rowan Williams.

Joan Bakewell (Broadcaster) and Dr Nazreen Nawaz (Muslim activist)

Enjoy with a cup of tea 🙂

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‘If you don’t like it here… go back home’

17 02 2008

I really hate it when I get into discussion with certain people about what being a Muslim means to me… the discussion often concludes with one sentence, and more than often since Dr Rowan William’s comments. ‘If you don’t like it here, go back HOME.’ Go back home, where? I don’t have a ‘back home’. I find this kind of response annoying more than offensive because of ignorance and narrow mindedness involved, and that coming from people depicted as the most progressive and civilised people on earth. I am not shy to discuss what I believe in, and I dont’t have a problem presenting it to people as an alternative way of life, why can’t people do the same? I don’t know.

If we were to explore the idea of going back home, which unlike me, most immigrant Muslims living in the West can do so…would it solve anyones problem? Well, not really. Most Muslim countries which have abundance of resources are run by tyrant despotic rulers installed and supported by the West working to secure those resources for the West. Regimes changes only occur when the Western interests are at risk of being fulfilled, one dictator is simply replaced by another and sometimes at the cost of thousand of innocent lives such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most problems of the Muslim world, however complex, can sometimes be narrowed down to the presence of these idiot rulers and their puppet regimes working against Islam and Muslims in cahoots with the Western rulers. And when any neo Islamic party termed ‘Islamist’ comes close to power even through fair electoral process, who feels the first itch? Sometimes it seems almost impossible for Muslim world to free itself from the shackles of Imperialism/colonialism and the constant interference from the West to be able to decide its own political destiny.  So what are they suppose to do? Perhaps, it would sound reasonable to send people back home if they were going to bring back their own troops, stop interfering in their lands and allow them to live however they wish to. But that I don’t see happening, not when this hypocritical theory of ‘one law for all’ will soon be applicable to the world.

Regardless of all that, the ‘if you don’t like it here, go back home’ attitude clearly highlights the strength of ideas people hold and their views towards minorities. Muslims are accused of being emotional, ready to explode the minute their faith is questioned, but didn’t those accusers explode with emotions of anger at the speech made by Dr Rowan Williams? Is it understandable for people to react in such way? Isn’t it clear that it is not only some Muslims, but narrow-mindedness, ignorance, intolerance very much prevails in the West too?





Going Hajj…

7 12 2007

Assalam Alaikum wrtwbrkt Dear Readers.

Alhamdulilahi Rabil ‘Alameen, a short while ago we have received confirmation from our agent that everything is in order and we will be flying tomorrow to blessed place for the blessed journey. I am so overwhelmed right now as our agent could not confirm our flights in time and we almost accepted we weren’t going. All praise be to my Rabb, everything has fallen in place as we set off tomorrow.

It is my request to anyone reading this to please make Du’a that we are able to complete it and that our Rabb (swt) accepts our actions during Hajj.. insh’Allah. Also to forgive me for any wrongdoings, mistakes and shortcomings. And finally if anyone has any special du’a please let me know as I will write them all down later. Subhan’Allah the last time I went Hajj was 6 years ago, seeing the Ka’ba for the first time right in front of me was amazing experience, my legs were shaking and I had forgotten to make all the dua, insha’Allah I will do better this time 🙂

Please make Du’a for me.

Shukran

“And proclaim (openly announce) to the whole of humankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (in order to perform Hajj).” [Al Hajj; 22:27]





Dark Stars of Islam

2 12 2007

Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said, “The scholars on earth are like the stars in the sky. People are guided by them in the darkness of the land and the sea. If the stars are covered, people would get lost.” [Ahmad]

The Prophet of Allah (PBUH) tells us of the important role the scholars play in guiding the Ummah and championing its cause. The position of a Mufti is a position of great responsibility, dignity and authority. Those who achieve such a position are endowed with such knowledge and wisdom that the very fate and progression of the Ummah may rest on their shoulders. The entire Islamic world including its leader looks to such men with awe and respect and the words of such a man have the weight to change the progress of history. Or at least that’s how it used to be.

The grand Mufti of Egypt, Mufti Ali Gomaa’, one of the highest religious authorities of Sunni Islam is found to be almost opposite of what his title stands for. But not only him, those at al-Azhar and those running the shariah based judiciary in places like Sudan and Saudi Arabia have proven themselves to be incompetent time and time again. Far from being stars in the Sky guiding the Muslims, at a time when division and fragmentation pervade the Muslims, they have only added to the darkness by their feckless counterproductive fataawa. Take for example:

Egypt’s top Muslim scholar has defended himself against criticism for a series of controversial fatwas he has issued.

With tears in his eyes, Grand Mufti Sheikh Ali Gomaa told reporters his religious edicts were never influenced by pressure from the authorities.

Fierce criticism followed his recent ruling that speeding drivers cannot be condemned for killing people who deliberately stand in their way.

It became public days after just such a case involving a police car. 

and

A committee of scholars at al-Azhar university, Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution, called the ruling “abhorrent” and something “even the devil himself hadn’t thought of”. Source

this man from al-Azhar solved the segregation issue at work by issuing a fatwa allowing women to breadfeed thier male colleagues 😮

Dr Izzat Atiya of Egypt’s al-Azhar University said it offered a way around segregation of the sexes at work.

His fatwa stated the act would make the man symbolically related to the woman and preclude any sexual relations.  Source

And last but not least

Turkish Muslims will be allowed to pray only three times a day from Wednesday instead of the usual five – without fear of committing a sin.

A member of the scientific council of Istanbul University, Muhammad Nour Dughan, has issued a controversial fatwa or religious edict cutting Islamic prayer requirements from five to three times a day.  Source

There are many more examples of such blatant ‘juristic’ errors which are often shown to discredit the Shariah.  Anyone with eyes to see can discern the irresponsible attitude of Muslim scholars throughout the world, who have turned Islam and its powerful infallable Shariah into an academic experiement. The scholars are to be blamed for the problems of the ummah, I know there are some good scholars, but they are also to be blamed for not taking government appointed feckless Muftis to task. The stars in the sky, as described by the Prophet (saw) are desperately needed now to show us how to live by Islam and the Shariah without having to reform or alter it.

Imam Ali (ra) is reported to have said, “Two types of people I cannot tolerate are – a scholar who is shameless and an ignorant worshiper. The ignorant worshipper fools the people with his worship and the scholar with his shamelessness.”

see also: End of Ulema





Muslim and Spy!

30 11 2007

The current political climate in the West has placed Muslims in awkward situations. Muslims are becoming victim of stop and search on daily basis, missing their flights at airports or having spooky people turn up at their doorstep for a cup of tea is just tip of the iceberg. Many Muslims are now being recruited by the intelligence services to keep taps on who does what. To some it may sound like an exciting job being an informant. You don’t have to do much except keep your ears up and report any suspicious behavior to the spymasters. Some are blackmailed or offered rewards which cannot be rejected by those in desperate needs, such as citizenship to immigrants. And some are interested in the general good that may come out of it or as a great career opportunity like the Man from Britz.

A news article from The Times  today reads, “Informant who risked his life to fight extremists ‘betrayed by MI5’. “An undercover agent who risked his life to infiltrate the extremist networks at Abu Hamza’s Finsbury Park mosque claims he has been betrayed by MI5 and Scotland Yard.” Source. Nothing new there. There are spies and informants all around us, in places we would least imagine, in Universities and even mosques. However, regardless of it being such a hot topic its rarely discussed amongst Muslims, in sermons, talks, lectures or Q&A’s.

In my opinion, one of the most relevant discussions Muslims in the West should be having is regarding their roles and responsibilities towards the people and society they live in. But this discussion must take place with the Islamic viewpoint in mind. I have come across discussions about joining the police force or even the Army, but almost all of these discussions turn into the age old argument of ‘identity’ and ‘loyalty’. Often I find Muslims confuse themselves over terms like ‘identity’ and ‘loyalty’, which have become centre of debate between the so called ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’. Amidst all of this, very little effort is made by those qualified to view such scenarios from a purely Islamic legal perspective to determine roles and responsibilities of Muslims living in the West.

With this in mind, we shall look at what Islam says about Spying (At-Tajassus):

Oh you who believe! Avoid many suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins.And spy not, nor backbite one another. [Surah Al-Hujurât verse 12:]

Abdullahi ibn Fuduye’, said in his Diya `t-Ta’weel Fee Ma`ana at-Tanzeel: “This verse means to be with regard to suspicion in the same state of avoidance that one avoids any evil. That is, he should be far from suspicion, stay away from it and object to it strongly, so as not to commit any form of suspicion except the type of suspicion that induces researched insight and independent judgment…” This statement is important because, suspicion, is a blameworthy quality that opens the door to spying. The Intelligence- gathering agency builds its investigation upon suspicion. Most times, there is no suspicion of a crime, but `cause is cooked up’ in order to justify harassment, arrest and detainment of Muslims.

Ibn Kathir, said in his Tafsir commenting upon this Ayah: “Allâh said ‘and spy not’ on each other. Tajassus, usually harbors ill intentions, and the spy is called a Jasus….In the Sahih it is recorded that the Messenger of Allâh said: “Neither commit Tajassus nor Tahassus nor hate each other nor commit Tadabur. And be brothers Oh servants of Allâh.”  Al-Awza’i said: ‘Tajassus means, to search for something, while Tahassus means listening to people when they are talking without their permission, or eavesdropping at their doors. Tadabur refers to shunning each other.’ Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement.
[Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr, Vol. 9, pp. 201 / 202]

Allah prohibited spying in the ayah. This prohibition is general covering all types of spying, whether it is spying for himself or anyone, whether it is for the State or individuals or groups, and whether the one performing it i.e. the spying is the ruler or the ruled. The speech is unambiguous in its condemnation of any Muslim who searches into the secret affairs, or open affairs of the Muslims, for themselves or for others from among the Muslims.

Abu Huraira reported Allâh’s Messenger (SAW) as saying: Avoid suspicion, for suspicion is the gravest lie in talk and do not be inquisitive about one another and do not spy upon one another and do not feel envy with the other, and nurse no malice, and nurse no aversion and hostility against one another. And be felow-brothers and servants of Alâh.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 32, No. 6214]

This tradition is a profound prophetic tradition and is evidence of the comprehensive speech (jamaam` `l-kalim) of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. This statement combines in its meaning everything Sayduna Issa, upon him be peace, said on the Sermon on the mount, where he outlined the true nature of those who follow him and the traits needed to be redeemed in the Hereafter. The above prophetic tradition not only deals with character, virtue and ethics, but it also delineates the foundation of politics (siyaasa) and uncovers the nature of the hypocrite, that individual whose existence undermines the very nature of Islam and the Muslim society.

Imam al-Khataabi said that meaning of the Prophet’s statement: “Beware of suspicion… “, this does not mean to avoid acting on the derived opinions upon which the majority of the legal judgments are dependent. Rather, it means you should avoid corroborating any suspicion that may bring harm to the person that is suspect. It also includes avoiding those suspicions that occur to the heart without sound proof. This is because the start of false suspicion begins with thoughts and notions which occur to the mind which are not possible to ward off.” It is for this reason relying upon these suspicions is not permissible.

Imam al-Khataabi, said about the meaning of the Prophet’s statement: “Do not spy on one another”; it means do not investigate or examine the faults of people, nor pursue them.” This word spying (yahisuu) takes its etymological root from the Arabic word the senses (al-haasa), like the senses of sight, hearing, tasting, and touching. Allah ta`ala uses this word on the tongue of Prophet Ya`qub, when He said:

“Go and investigate regarding Joseph and his brother.” That is, go and use your eyes and ears, and ask to inquire about their situation or condition. This type of investigation can only be done by means of inquiry with the eyes and ears, thus it is a scrutiny conducted with one or two of the senses. This was the opinion of Imam al-Qurtubi. Imam Ibn al-Anbari said: “This type of investigation means to listen to the words of the common people.” This was also the opinion of al-Awza`I taken from Yahya ibn Abi Kathir. Imam at-Tha`labi said: “It means to search into someone else’s affairs for oneself.” In modern terminology, these are called informants, while on the streets, they are called `rats’, while in our beloved Infallible shari`a, they are called munaafiquun.

Imam Tha`labi, said that the meaning of the Prophet’s saying, upon him be blessings and peace: “Do not inform on one another”; means do not search into someone else’s affairs on behalf of someone else; in other words, do not search into their affairs to inform someone else about them.. Imam al-Khataabi said: “This means to select something with the hand, which is one of the senses, which makes it more specific than spying (yahisuu).” Although Imam Ibrahim al-Harbi maintained that both spying (yahisuu) and informing (yajasuu) were the same. Some of the scholars say that informing means to investigate into the hidden aspect of affairs, but mainly to search into what is hidden of evil actions. In Islamic State it is permissible to investigate into the corruption of those who manifest their evils in society.

Shaykh Abu Muhammad ibn Abd’s-Salaam, said in his al-Qawa`id: “Among the major sins is guiding the disbelievers to the imperfections and faults of the Muslims, knowing that by means of their assistance the disbelievers will be able to accomplish their goals over those Muslims.”

What we have here is a brief study of an Ayah and Hadith and some opinions of classical scholars on at-Tajjassus (spying). What this should demonstate to us is the guidelines Islam has laid down for our conduct in any society we live in. Furthermore, the need to raise discussions amongst Muslims and pressuring the Ulema/scholars to address real issues facing the Muslims.





14th Century blunder!!

19 07 2007

For the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are the deaf and the dumb― those who understand not.(Quran 8:22)

It is significant that the desire to create an alternative world, to modify or augment the real world through the act of writing is inimical to the Islamic worldview. The Prophet of Islam (saw) is he who has completed a world-view; thus the word heresy in Arabic is synonymous with the verb ‘to innovate’ or ‘to begin’. Islam views the world as a plenum (full), capable of neither diminishment nor amplification.” Thus Edward Said rationalises the absence of the novel in Arabic literature, in his book Beginnings, intention & method. Said considered novels to be – among other things – “aesthetic objects that fill gaps in an incomplete world”. And according to him, Arabic stories like those in the Arabian nights are merely “ornamental, variations on the world, not completions of it; neither are they… designed to illustrate… ways in which the world can be viewed and changed”.

The Arabic word for ‘beginning’ is al ibitida; for ‘innovation’ is al ibtidaa or al bidaa; and for ‘heretic’ is al mubtadiaa. Many Muslim thinkers agree with Said’s etymological explanation. But can one extend Said’s argument from literature to science, and draw a similar conclusion: that the desire to create an alternative world, to modify or augment the real world through scientific innovation is against the Islamic worldview? On the contrary, the common view is that, Islam emphasises the acquisition of ilm (‘knowledge’) and there is no conflict in the acquisition of new (novel) knowledge and the practice of Islam.

Speaker at a panel discussion on ‘What is holding back science in Muslim countries’, however, has a different opinion. “You are urged to acquire knowledge. Not to create it,” he says. He reasons that Muslims are asked to discover knowledge that is already there, in the Book. They are not urged to create new knowledge outside the Book. Like Said, this speaker refers to Islam’s completed worldview, and uses it to rationalise the absence of a tradition of innovative science.

To these thinkers, though, the distinction between discovery and creation of knowledge is cosmetic. For them, one creates knowledge in that one brings it from unknowing to knowing. One discovers it in the sense that all knowledge belongs to Allah. A secular scientist of my acquaintance uses a similar explanation: knowledge lies in nature; we create models to understand nature; models are creations of the human mind, which in turn is a creation of nature. So one could argue that the mind is actually acquiring knowledge, not creating it from nothing. The two words – acquiring and creating – become mere word play, or a difference in outlook.

So if creating and discovering knowledge come to the same thing, where lies the problem with science and learning in the Muslim world? Perhaps it’s in the method and scope of enquiry that is permitted and encouraged. In an ideal Islamic polity, life is mediated by scripture – the Quran, Sunnah and Hadith, where Sunnah is the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) life, and the Hadith are his narrations and approvals. Muslim life is informed by these sources; no action or information can depart from their prescriptions, everything must subscribe to the perfect worldview in the Quran.

So the critical issue for Muslims is not whether the scriptures ought to be interpreted literally or metaphorically, but whether they allow other worldviews that explain the nature and functioning of the universe. In other words, do they allow exploration beyond the worldview of the Quran?

Today most Muslim countries are far from the world view of the Quran, they enforce a limiting orthodoxy, yet this was not always the case with Muslims. During the heyday of Islam, in the 7-13th centuries AD, the principles of Islamic scriptures were a subject of debate by Muslim thinkers, Ijtihad was a common practice, and the political stability allowed intellectual elevation. In this time Muslims were the main innovators of science, philosophy and medicine in the world. At such crucial time an erroneous decision was made to close the doors of Ijtihad and debate in order for the one particular orthodox view to prevail, without realising the impact. With this, much of the Arab world’s innovation in science and technology came to an end. They generated a fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) based on taqlid (imitation), suppressing the stress on ijtihad -which allowed open inquiry, and other views whether erroneous or valid . They did not reject ijtihad amongst the learned, but they discouraged its application by the public. The loss of the application of ijtihad in law indirectly led to its ebb from philosophy and science. Most historians now think that this caused Muslim societies to stagnate, of which the symbolic moment came in 1492, with the final fall of Muslim Spain.

The regression of Muslim intellectual life continues unabated. Where they lost, the West gained. From current situation, it is clear that the West stands as the dominant power. From the onset of Capitalism, the West experienced the Renaissance and Enlightenment, a period of tremendous scientific and intellectual growth, which culminated in the Industrial Revolution. Similarly, what is often overlooked is that, under the Islamic civilization when Islam was implemented as a system of life and the Shariah was the dominant system, science and technology flourished. This progress came as a result of the ability of the Muslims to understand the relationship between science and Islam. Nowadays, this relationship has been misunderstood because the the term ”science” has become synonymous with progress and advancement, whereas religion is viewed as something backward that stifles progress and is counterproductive to reasoning. In order to promote the idea of Secularism among the masses, the West is attempting to sell the idea that science and knowledge are one and the same, that intellect/knowledge and religion exist in two mutually exclusive spheres, and that scientific and technological progress is a direct result of the Western Capitalist ideology.

It was reported in a hadith that a group of people came to the Prophet (saw) asking him about the pollination of dates. He instructed them not to pollinate the date palms themselves since the wind may carry the seeds. That year there was no harvest; they informed him of this, and he told them, ‘‘You know best regarding your worldly affairs,” referring to scientific research. Also, Imam Muslim reported that the Prophet (saaw) said:

”I am a human being like you, but I receive the revelation. If I instructed you on something related to the Deen, then take it, but if I instructed you on something related to your worldly affairs, then you know best.”

Islam clearly distinguished between the scope of science and technology, which is the lab and the physical universe, and the scope of the Deen, which is the life affairs and the systems governing the relationships and issues that human beings are confronted with. In spite of this distinction, there are so many so called Islamic “Scholars” issuing fatwas on scientific issues based on their understanding of some ayahs and hadiths, such as the rotation and shape of the earth, the atom, the fetus and its development, and many other scientific issues. In addition, many Muslims are busy digging into the Qur’an and the Sunnah for a cure for cancer or diabetes rather than conducting the necessary research in the lab. The problem with such an approach is that those scientific fatwas may become part of the Deen itself, the way it happened with the Church during the European Middle Ages. Such a trend could lead either to not accepting any scientific theory or conclusion unless a fatwa exists supporting it, or a potential conflict between the Deen and science if the scientific research proves the error in any fatwa.

Hundreds of years ago Muslims opted to follow the orthodox teachings based on Taqleed over Ijtihad. Is it now time to review unproductive choices? To reinstate ijtihad over taqleed, and encourage ‘free’ intellectual transgressions over forced containment?