Archive for the ‘Jurisprudence’ Category

Is Islamic inheritance law unfair?

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

The British newspaper The Telegraph published today an article with the heading “Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs”. The author, John Bingham, alleges in the article that British lawyers will now for the first time be able to write wills for their clients that “deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.”

Is that true? Have testators never been able to exclude from their wills heirs they resented, or wished to penalize, and given some heirs more than others and even given people who were totally unrelated to them a large portion of their estate? I doubt that, since the English law, as far as I know, regards the testator as the sole owner of his or her estate and therefore the only one who has a say in how the estate is to be distributed. Probate courts only interfere when a litigator contests the will as being contrary to common standards of fairness.

One article I found, written by a lawyers group, spells out how a testator can disinherit some heirs. I’m sure you can find many other.

However, is Bingham’s Islamophobic allegation true about Islamic law? Does Islamic law of inheritance deny women an equal share of inheritance and exclude unbelievers altogether?

Not quite as stated. The reason women inherit half of what men inherit is because Islamic law requires men to financially support women! If this requirement is not found in a Muslim community, then the division becomes invalid. I hope that the legal guidance the article refers to has taken into consideration that important proviso. Bingham really should have asked about it before he published his article.

And what about non-Muslims, can they possibly inherit from a Muslim? While some schools of thought do not allow it, there really is nothing in the Quranic verses that makes that ruling. A Muslim testator certainly can specify a bequest in his will, not to exceed one third of the estate, to be given to any one person or group who is not a regular heir.

The questions and answers page of this software may answer more of the readers questions about Islamic law of inheritance. God says in the holy Quran “Verily, God does not wrong even the weight of a speck.” (4:40) Don’t let Islamophobic writers give you the wrong impression about God.

Bingham also reports in the article that the legal guidance documents will exclude out-of-wedlock children and adopted children from inheriting. Is this true? Apart from the fact that any British testator can probably do that already under British law, Islamic law does not deprive out-of-wedlock children. The Quran does not say they are excluded! As for adopted children, they are not regular heirs for the reasons we explained in previous posts, but they can inherit by way of a bequest.

Next Islamophobic allegation in the article is the exclusion of people married in a church or in City Hall! Where is that written exactly in the Quran? If the reader can point to the verse, I’d appreciate it.

Is that guidance document “the first step on the road to a parallel legal system” for British Muslims, as the article quotes some campaigners? My humble answer to this question is that it can be, but never has to be. It all depends on how Islamic law is defined. If the definition is made by a school of thought, or some influential person, then the fears expressed in the article are legitimate. But that does not qualify as Islamic law. Islamic law is the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth, properly interpreted according to universally recognized logic, called in Islamic disciplines Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction). Anything else is somebody’s opinion.

This whole issue of fear of “Sharia”, which resulted in several American states banning Sharia altogether, mixes two things which are not always related: Islam and Muslims! What Islam teaches is not necessarily followed by Muslims, and what Muslims do is not necessarily taught by Islam. To ban unfair laws is a good thing regardless of who wrote those laws. But to ban something based on misunderstanding it, or on mixing it with something else, is unwarranted.

If I were to advise the Law Society of Britain, I would only say that what they are told is Sharia may not be. It could simply be a tradition, or somebody’s refutable interpretation, and therefore should not overrule British law. They and the detractors and even many Muslims may be surprised to learn that much of British law has always been Sharia-compliant. In fact, the beginnings of the English Common Law were much influenced by Islamic law.

Evolution of Islamic laws

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Thank you, Aapa, for the blog you referenced in your recent question. I particularly like the author’s post on Islamic law. I like to second the the idea he stressed: that Islamic law evolved and was flexible and took in diversity of opinions, people and circumstances. I humbly think that this is also the case with executive government, economics, etc. Any student of Islamic history who read the writings of the Salaf (Muslim antecedents), can easily notice that evolution of thought, discipline and rulings.

What the Quran and the Sunna did was not ordain a rigid set of rules, but rather a framework within which a judge, ruler or businessman may work safely. Like a parent teaches their children how the world works so they make it and not get into trouble.

I watched a YouTube video with that brother interviewing Hamza Yusef. They were discussing the fact due to internet access to translations of hadith i.e Bukari and Quran many youths make judgments. They forget that many hadiths are contextual and it takes wisdom to understand. They joked that in the old days the elders/scholars would literally give them 20 lashes for the rash judgments.

Unfortunately, nationalism has erased the words of the tribal elder. And it is easiest to control the greatest number of people with the most rigid standards. George Orwell comes to mind in 1984. As nationalism spreads we have a loss of deep understanding of our faith. We have lost the sense of compassion that was a trait characteristic of the prophets.

We forget that we need forgiveness from Allah swt. We also need to be in the mode of forgiving. Our laws today are not the Laws of Love.

We forget our history. How can we forget what happened to us in Spain?

We need a basic class in why understanding sharia helps us to be the best of moral character. We are distanced from each other not by nationalism but our ignorance of the laws that unite us.

Islam is wide, but some want it narrow. It is easy, but some want it cumbersome. It is open, but some want it strict. It welcomes diversity and history has proved it, but some want it exclusive. It is adaptable, but some want it rigid. The problems Muslims have are not the result of Islam, as some Islamophobes want you to believe, but are the result of misunderstanding Islam. Hopefully, this blog may put a dent into that misunderstanding.

On hijab, niqab, beards and faith healing

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

The dean of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar university, Egypt, made announcements that are bound to get criticism. Dr. Aamina Nusayr said that Niqab (face veil) is a Jewish tradition and not part of Islam, while Hijab (head scarf) is. She criticized Salafis who let their beard grow to look like a “radish bundle” as she put it, and finally she said that healing with the Quran is hocus pocus; that the Quran heals the soul, not the body.

What do you think?

There is no evidence from the Quran that the Niqaab is required for Muslim women. The only evidence comes from hadeeths that state that the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) wore it. Some scholars view that as a mandate on all Muslim women, but the majority see it as a special status for the Prophet’s wives only. Other women may elect to wear it, but they are not required to. That view best matches the evidence. Whether the Niqaab is a Jewish tradition is something that Jewish readers and historians are better qualified to confirm or refute.

Dr. Nusayr said that 13 exegetes have interpreted the so-called Hijaab verse (24:31) to mean the head and neck, not the face. I agree that it does not address the face, but I respectfully disagree that it orders covering of the hair. The verse clearly orders covering the upper chest, using whatever the woman is wearing on her head. The assumption that the woman is wearing a head cover is what prompted most scholars to say that a head cover is required. But the verse never said it was!

So, why does the Quran make this assumption? It’s because everybody at that time covered their heads – women and men. In fact, that was the custom of all people, not just the Arabs, throughout the centuries. Only in the Twentieth Century did people start to go out with exposed hair.

The Hijaab verse requires women to cover their decollete area, that’s all. The reason is that many dresses at that time were tailored with an open decollete area, and Islam makes it clear that this area is a charm that can incite lust and therefore should be covered. A dress that does not have such design already complies with the Hijaab verse, whether the woman is covering her head or not.

Interestingly enough, the verse mentions one more thing that women of the time used to wear: ankle bracelets! Should we then conclude that ankle bracelets too are required?! I’m not aware of any scholar who suggested that. Ankle bracelets are neither required nor forbidden. They are simply allowed, just like head covers are. What is forbidden about ankle bracelets is banging the feet so that they chime, thus drawing attention to the woman’s legs though they are hidden. You can see the fallacy of the conclusion that because God mentions a head cover it must be required.

It also follows that ankle bracelets that chime all the time are forbidden even if the woman wearing them never bangs her feet. It also follows that a woman wearing ankle bracelets that never chime may bang her feet as much as she likes! Get it? The scholars who have been fixated on the words “their head covers” totally miss the points of the Hijaab verse, namely: (a) Women should cover areas of their bodies that tend to arouse men’s lust, and (b) Women should not draw attention to those areas even if they are covered. That would defeat the purpose of covering them!

As for the unruly long beard, the evidence for it comes from a hadeeth where the Prophet (PBUH) says, “Let the beards grow, and trim the mustaches. Do the opposite of the Magi.” Narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported by Muslim who rated it authentic.

It is important to realize that imperatives in religious texts are two types: mandates or recommendations. Scholars of Foundations have devised a simple rule to be able to tell which is which. If the order is accompanied by explicit words that it is a mandate, then obviously it is. If the flip-side of the order is prohibited, then the order is a mandate. Otherwise, the order is a recommendation. The consequence of this distinction, as the scholars defined it, is that with a mandate you are rewarded when you do it and punished when you don’t. With a recommendation, on the other hand, you are rewarded when you do it, but not punished when you don’t. There is no evidence that shaving a beard is prohibited. Therefore, the order in the hadeeth is a recommendation.

The other point to consider is that the hadeeth clearly states a contingency, namely, that Muslims should look distinctly different from the Magi. A command revolves around its contingency, as the scholars have concluded, so the hadeeth only applies if today’s Magi all have the same distinct look and a Muslim imitates that look. I rather doubt that today’s Magi all wear their facial hair the same way.

Finally, healing with the Quran is not hocus pocus. God says in it, “And We send down of the Quran what is a healing and a mercy for the believers” (17:82). This verse does not say whether the healing is spiritual, physical or both. Since it doesn’t, we have to assume both unless other evidence suggests otherwise. Verses 10:57 and 41:44 also make the same statement. There is evidence from the Hadeeth for and against faith healing. Evidence for it comes from `Aa’isha and evidence against it comes from Ibn `Abbaas. `Aa’isha’s narration quotes the Prophet (PBUH) making a supplication for a sick person, but he did not recite any verses. Therefore, we can conclude that faith healing (Ruqya) is not recommended, while supplications are. Furthermore, to say that this is the only way to heal is a stretch, since neither God nor His Messenger have suggested that. God is the Healer whether the medicine is the Quran, a supplication or pharmaceutical.

God knows best.

Serious jobs

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Abu-Zharr Al-Ghafaari, may God have been pleased with him, noticed many of his fellows getting leadership jobs assigned to them by the Prophet (PBUH). So, he went to him and asked him if he would give him a similar job. The Prophet (PBUH) smiled kindly at him, patted him on the shoulder and said, “O Abu-Zharr, you are weak and it is a trust, and on the Day of Resurrection it will be a disgrace and a regret for all except those who get it with merit and fulfill its obligations!” Narrated by Abu-Zharr and reported by Muslim in his compilation book of authentic hadeeths

Folks who trip over themselves to get a leadership position do not realize that they are walking into a fire pit unless they know what they are doing and can do it.

Another serious job people clamour to get is the job of a scholar. Such prestige and reverence from people! And authority too! He says it’s OK, and it may not be, and people do it, possibly getting themselves into trouble. He says it’s forbidden, and it may not be, and people abstain from it, possibly deprived. On that, Ibn Al-Mubaarak, a highly regarded second generation scholar said, “A scholar enters between the worshiper and his Lord, so he had better find the exit!!”

The job of a judge has two strikes against it! The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Judges are three; two are in hell and one is in paradise. The two who are in hell are a judge who knows the truth and rules differently and a judge who rules without knowing the truth. The judge in paradise is the one who knows the truth and rules accordingly.” Narrated by Burayda Al-Aslami and reported by Abu-Daawood who rated it authentic.

When to follow a fatwa

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Brother,

To what degree does a Believer have to follow a fatwa (religious ruling). Is a fatwa an absolute? I do not think so but I do not have the knowledge to make a judgement.

A fatwa is a conclusion made by a scholar concerning a religious issue. Often the question answered by a fatwa is whether something is allowed, obligated or forbidden. To arrive at such conclusion, certain discipline must be followed, called Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of deduction).

There is a protocol, established by the Prophet (PBUH), for the sources a scholar must consider as he analyzes an issue. This was done when he sent Mu`aazh ibn Jabal, may God have been pleased with him, to Yemen, to teach people Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) asked Mu`aazh, “How are you going to judge between the people?” Mu`aazh answered, “By the Book of God.” The Prophet liked that, then he asked him, “And when you don’t find the answer there?” Mu`aazh answered, “I consult the Hadeeth.” The Prophet liked that, then he asked him, “And if you don’t find the answer there?” Mu`aazh answered, “Then I work hard with an opinion of mine.” The Prophet (PBUH) smiled in approval.

Thus, the protocol is clear. The Quran comes first, and only if one cannot find the answer in it, then one consults the Hadeeth. Let’s say that again: If the answer is in the Quran, you do not pay attention to any other source.

While that may sound obvious to any Muslim, you will be surprised by the number of fatwas from prominent scholars which break that first rule! Their fatwa may cite a hadeeth, even one whose authenticity is suspect, and fully ignore evidence from the Quran.

So, to answer your question: If the fatwa does not reference the Quran and focuses on hadeeths, or on opinions of other scholars, then that is a red flag for you. Rarely is there an issue which the Quran has not dealt with explicitly or implicitly.

Obviously, if the fatwa uses irrelevant evidence, inauthentic text, mere opinions, poor logic, subjective interpretations, etc., then it is uncertain in its conclusion at best.

Most fatwas, especially those from well respected scholars, are meritorious and well thought of and industriously analyzed. When you hear or read such fatwas, you ought to follow them.

One final word. There are many schools of thought out there, called Mazhaahib. You are at liberty to follow any of them, or pick and choose from either. There is seldom an issue where imaams (the foremost scholars) have agreed on, save those explicitly stated in the Quran or the Hadeeth.

Is there consensus on blind following?

Monday, April 11th, 2011

As a muqallid (strict follower) myself I wanted to know whether there is actually ijmaa (consensus) of the ulema (scholars) that you have to follow an imaam (religious teacher) and what is their main proofs for it.

There is no such consensus. In fact, Imaam ibn Hajar, may God bless his soul, wrote that strict following of a scholar borders on idol worship!

That said, if there were consensus, it does not prove the point! A Muslim is not required to obey the scholars, he or she is required to obey God and His Messenger only. The role of the scholars is to interpret, to the best of their abilities, what God and His Messenger have taught and share their conclusions with fellow Muslims. Being human, they may err. The fact that they differ on most issues is proof that (a) only one (or none) of them got it right, or (b) there is room for multiple interpretations.

My humble advice to you and to any muqallid, is that if you’re not able or willing to study the various viewpoints of the imaams, then go ahead and strictly follow one of them. They are all good, pious, knowledgeable people. If, on the other hand, you can put in the effort to study, then you are free to pick rulings from any of them. When you have studied the Quran, the Hadeeth and Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction), you can make logical deductions yourself.

Taqleed (strict following) is the easier route to take. That is why most people do it. Its danger, however, is that it suppresses the mind, God’s best gift to man after life itself. A Muqallid will do things that he or she normally would not do, such as things that are illogical, or sometimes even contrary to the teachings of the Quran, simply because it was the reported opinion of their chosen scholar.

What are Fiqh and Usool-ul-Fiqh disciplines?

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

I read a bit some of “Fiqh” books and frankly found them boring. I got lost between the various rulings on the same issue by different scholars.

Actually, I don’t quite understand what Fiqh is and how it is disciplined, if at all. And what is the discipline of Usool-ul-Fiqh?

The word Fiqh literally means “Getting the point!” Not all people who read a text or listen to a talk get the point of it. Worse yet, some may even get weird concepts from it.

In order for one to get the point, one needs to know how! That’s what the discipline of Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction) comes in. It is logic applied to Islamic sources. What you are finding boring is comparative jurisprudence (Al-Fiqh al-Muqaaran).

Yes. There are schools of thought and then comes the exegesis. But the process, and I am a process person, loses its perspective. Minute replaces the objective.

What about women. Why do women not discuss Fiqh?

I think that women were generally not encouraged, or their contributions have not been publicized. But that wasn’t the case early on. Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, was a consultant to many Sahaaba (Fellows of the Prophet, PBUH) on all issues, not just women’s issues. Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Imaam Maalik, among many others, had female teachers. See this post, for more examples.

Is Fiqh derived from the Hadeeths? Given that the Quran is Absolute.

Fiqh applies to both the Quran and the Hadeeth, because both are texts from which rulings may be derived. Usool-ul-Fiqh work the same way for both. Hadeeth involves an additional discipline: authentication.

While the Quran is absolute, it is revealed in a human language, and therefore may be interpreted in more than one way. If interested, check out this discussion about verse 3:7.

I read the Bukhaari and Muslim compilations of authentic hadeeths and I was impressed with the arduous work involved in authentication of the Hadeeth

Indeed, may God bless the scholars of Hadeeth who verified the integrity of every narrator in every narration! A huge body of investigative research.

Is Islam compatible with democracy?

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I will be giving a talk on Islam and will be addressing the issue of democracy. Some Muslims tell me that democracy and Islam do not mix and others tell me they are compatible. What do you think?

Representative democracy is how Umar suggested his successor and popular democracy is how Uthmaan ibn Affaan was elected, may God have been pleased with them. It is also the way district assemblies were structured throughout Muslim history. They are called Ahl-ul-Hall wal-`Aqd.

The anti-democracy Muslims tell me that democracy is dictatorship of the majority. For example, in France and Belgium they ruled that women cannot cover their heads and in Switzerland the majority decided that minarets cannot be constructed. Both these decisions are perfectly democratic! What can you say about that?

Simple. Their constitution allows it. Ours doesn’t. If their constitution does not allow it, it can be challenged in court. Many a bill voted on by the people in the USA were turned down by the Supreme Court because it was determined to be unconstitutional.

To say that democracy is un-Islamic without proof is un-Islamic! Judgments in Islam cannot be made without evidence. Where in the Quran does God mandate on us to submit to dictatorship or forbid us from freely electing our leaders?

Ironically, the anti-democracy Muslims firmly believe in Ijmaa` (consensus). That is what representative democracy is all about: electing people who know their stuff to make decisions on behalf of the people and in accordance with the law of the land. The law of a Muslim land is the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth and the rulings derived from them. Parliaments in a Muslim democracy cannot pass laws allowing Muslims to drink or gamble because that would be unconstitutional.

But if democracy means going against the Law of Allah (as is happening)…it’s totally un-Islamic.

But that is not what democracy means! No democracy can go against the law of the land, or else it’s anarchy.

It’s misunderstanding of what democracy means and how it is implemented that causes some folks to think that Islam and democracy are not compatible. Proper understanding is advised before one starts to talk about them in public.

But isn’t democracy self rule by the people? This is why fornication and riba (usury) are allowed in the West and even homosexuality being legalized. The policies and legislation are based on majority that’s why Niqab (face cover) and minarets being banned.

If it was compatible with Islam all those would not happen.

No. That’s not why these things happen. They happen because the constitution in the West does not forbid them. Case in point is whether people can vote to elect a man for president of the US even if the man was not born in the US. Such vote would be overturned by the Supreme Court because it’s unconstitutional!

Banning minarets and the niqaab can be challenged in court, if Muslims care to defend their religious freedom in Europe. And they can win too because the case is not hard to make, given the EU constitution’s guarantee of freedom to practice religion.

OK, but who makes the constitution? It’s the people!

In the West, yes. For us, the Constitution was already written by God and His Messenger. Furthermore, Western constitutions can be amended, but ours cannot be because the Quran and the Sunna are final.

Well, you have to admit that modern versions of democracy are incompatible with Islam.

Forgive me, but I think that you still do not get the notion of the constitution and how “modern” democracy operates within it. The constitution of France may be different from the constitution of the US in some points. As a result, the French people may vote for something and it passes, but if Americans vote for the same thing, it won’t pass!

The constitution of Muslims is the Quran and the Sunna. Thus, implementing democracy for Muslim countries guarantees that Sharia will be honored. The Supreme Court will see to it even if people vote against it. The Supreme Court is a democratic institution and is a fundamental part of how democracy is implemented.

The “modern” version of democracy is fully compatible with Islam. As I said earlier, representative democracy (republic) is how Abu-Bakr and Umar were elected, may God have been pleased with them, and popular democracy is how Uthmaan was elected, may God have been pleased with him.

I’m told that democracy is a system which is at odds with the very essence of Allāh’s exclusive right of legislation and as such it steps outside the mere disobedience of Allāh into the realm of Shirk (blasphemy), in that it seeks to elevate mankind to the level of the only Legislator

The imaams (foremost clerics), judges, and jurists have all legislated thousands of laws throughout Muslim history. Are they all challenging the exclusive right of God to legislate? Of course not, because their rulings are based on God’s principles. That is what the constitution is about!

Those who support democracy in whatever form should provide supporting evidence from Quraan and hadith instead of going around in circles.

The burden of proof is on the claimant. That’s you who says democracy is incompatible with Islam. You have to prove that it is. You have to show verses where God orders us to submit to dictatorship or prohibits us from freely electing our leaders. You haven’t and you can’t, because there is none.

It is clear to me now that many Muslims completely misunderstand what democracy is and how it is implemented. While some of them will no doubt continue to misunderstand it, some may have gotten it.

It is often the case, isn’t it?, that when Muslims and Westerners talk to each other, they often talk above each other’s heads! If only each side would cool down and actually starts listening until they understand what the other is talking about, there would be much less resentment of the West and much less Islamophobia.

But democracy hasn’t been practiced by Muslims. Why would we consider it now?

First of all, that’s not true. Caliph Uthmaan was freely elected as I noted before.

But even if it were true, the argument that tradition is our guide is false. One of the first things God attacks in harsh language in the Quran is tradition! And He uses the rhetorical question “Could you not reason?” often in chastisement. Thus, the Quran makes it clear to us that logic is our guide, not tradition.

In Usool-ul-Fiqh (the disipline of foundations of deduction), the question of whether something is not forbidden is never asked! Because the question to ask is if something is forbidden. It’s called the principle of Original Allowance (Al-Baraa’a Al-Asliyya): Everything is allowed until proven otherwise, everybody is innocent until proven guilty and every place is clean until proven unclean.

Many tell me that democracy is a Western idea and that we should not follow Western ideas.

The West has stuff that are immoral, but it also has a few very good ideas that are in no way contrary to Islam. Ideas that evolved over centuries and have been tried and tested and proven beneficial and practical.

Many Muslims think that if they start following Western ideas, they will soon follow all their ideas! If they believe that, then they are implying that Muslims do not have any discernment; they cannot tell what’s good and what’s not. So, they think that the safest thing to do is to follow tradition, even if a given tradition is wrong. That is precisely what God berates people in the Quran for doing. He quotes them saying, “Nay, we will follow what we found our parents doing.” (2:170)

Many Muslims also believe that following any Western idea is tantamount to approving their religion, or their way of life! It’s neither; it’s following a good idea. If you have a cell phone, TV or computer, you’re following good ideas that came from the West The Prophet, peace be upon him, often did like the people of the Book in matters where no revelation was sent to him. Does that mean he approved of their religion or their way of life?

Democracy has not been tried in Muslim countries before. In fact, it’s been tried in Yemen and look what happened!

So, if a system hasn’t been tried, it shouldn’t be used? Is that logical, or is it more sensible to ask: does this new system have enough merit to give it a try? Especially since alternative systems have failed?

If the Yemeni model failed, was that the fault of democracy, or the fault of corruption? Democracy is not only free elections. It’s independent legislative and judiciary powers too, a system of checks and balances, watch-dog organizations, independent free media, etc., where nobody is above the law and corruption is quickly exposed and penalized.

We know from the Quran that obeying people is like worshiping them. That’s what democracy leads to.

And in Islam, many Muslims worship their scholars as gods, when they take their opinions without understanding their reasoning or questioning them. That’s not my view only, it was the view of one of the most prominent scholars of old: Imaam Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalaani, may God bless his soul.

And he wasn’t alone in this. Imaam Ash-Shaffi`i, may God bless his soul, was once asked a question by a man. He answered it for him in some detail, giving him his reasoning. The man started to pull out a tablet and pen. Ash-Shaafi`i yelled at him, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m writing down your fatwa before I forget it!” Ash-Shaafi`i said, “Don’t! I might change my opinion by the night prayer!”

The sad phenomenon that many Muslims have had for decades now is that they have decided that they will not, or cannot, use their minds to learn their religion. So, they delegated that job to the scholars altogether. Wrong! The job of the scholars is to study matters and share their conclusions, and the reasoning they used, with fellow Muslims. Their conclusions should be valued and respected but only taken if they are sound and logical.

Most scholars do their job well, may God bless them and add to their knowledge. It is Muslims who turn their opinions into religion.

I’m not quite convinced of what you said. I prefer the opinions of several scholars who ruled that democracy is incompatible with Islam, so I’ll have to say that in my presentation.

Talking about Islam in public is a very serious affair. Done wrong, it may misguide people. God teaches us in the holy Quran not to do that! He teaches us this supplication, “Our Lord, do not make us a temptation for those who disbelieved, and forgive us, our Lord…” (60:5)

What is worse than not conveying the Message of God to people? Conveying the wrong message to people!

Unfortunately, that is precisely what Muslims have done for quite some time now: Holding fundamentalist views, projecting a holier-than-thou attitude, ridiculing other people’s religions, fighting amongst each other, living a backward and closed life, consenting to dictatorship, even committing war crimes… All are direct and blatant violations of God’s unambiguous commands in the Quran.

The disbelievers have been tempted. The Islamophobic campaign is a predictable result of such conduct from Muslims. “And if God willed, He would let them loose upon you…” (4:90)

Obviously, Muslims are not the only ones who did all those ills and non-Muslims have done more of them and on a larger scale, but that does not excuse Muslims. God described the true Muslims as “the best community ever produced for mankind: command the recognizable, forbid the objectionable and believe in God.” (3:110)

The only rescue for Muslims from all the rut they are in is to once again make the Quran and the Sunna supreme. As long as we prefer Taqleed (blind following) to the Quran and the Sunna, as long as we prefer people to God, we will continue to be in torment.

Please do not say in your speech about Islam things that are not true, cannot be proven, or are merely interpretations/opinions rather than established tenets. You’d be misrepresenting Islam. Remember that in the Hereafter you will be held responsible for “the harvest of your tongue”, as the Prophet (PBUH) eloquently put it.

Oklahoma votes to ban Sharia law

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Oklahoma voters voted to ban Islamic law in their state. The bill was initiated by Newt Gingrich. Any comments?

Mr. Gingrich and the Oklahoma voters probably do not realize that much of the Sharia law was the foundation for the British and French common laws. The word “jury” comes from Arabic Shoora. Terms like premeditated murder and negligent homicide are translations of juristic phrases coined by Muslim jurists.

The irony is that Gingrich used to be a history teacher. I bet he doesn’t know that the inspiration behind the Magna Carta was the human rights practices of Muslims as witnessed by the invading Crusaders.

That said, Sharia law applies to Muslims only. It is only applied on non-Muslim citizens of a Muslim country IF they chose it (they often did) AND IF the Muslim ruler agrees to arbitrate! This is because God says in the holy Quran,

“…So if they (non-Muslim citizens) come to you [for arbitration], then judge between them, or turn aside from them. If you turn aside from them, they will not harm you a bit. And if you judge, do so between them with equity. God loves the equitable.”” (5:42)

So, Newt Gingrich and his sort have nothing to fear from Sharia law because it won’t apply to him unless he migrates to an Islamic country and wants Sharia law to arbitrate for him. In fact, he may want it but not get it!

Update: As of this writing, this law has been put on hold by a judge pending investigation of its constitutionality.

Should schools of thought be unified? Can they?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I saw a video by a Muslim scholar who calls for unifying the four schools of thought [of Islamic jurisprudence]. Is that a good idea? Can it be done?

Personally, I think that we should follow whatever reaches us which has sound evidence from the Quran and Sunnah, it can reach us from any madhab (school of thought) or any knowledgeable reliable scholar of Ahlus Sunnah (People of the Sunna).

I certainly agree.

The founders of all four schools of thought (five if you count Azh-Zhaahiriyya), as well their students, were all pious and knowledgeable people. That does not mean we must follow them though! It means that their interpretations and deductions are a very valuable database of Islamic knowledge that can save us having to re-invent the wheel. If one of their opinions in a given issue comes across as solid argument, we ought to take it. If two differing opinions come across equally convincing, we may choose either one. If none of their arguments in a given issue is strong, we may apply Ijtihaad (analysis) principles to come up with a better interpretation/deduction.

We have a treasure of knowledge; it would be dumb to dump it, but it is also not a good idea IMHO to follow it without question.