Archive for the ‘Government and Politics’ Category

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.

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.

Why not a Muslim Pope?

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Why don’t the Muslims create a Muslim “Pope” to represent the ummah and clear up misconceptions about Islam and our beloved Prophet (saws)? If the Christians have someone to represent them, why can’t we? Don’t you think we need a Caliph or “Pope” like figure to represents us? Thanks.

No, I don’t. Islam is not confined to the opinion of any one person or group. The only person who ever had that kind of authority was the Prophet, peace be upon him, as he was assigned that responsibility by God. But even he had to consult with the Sahaaba (his fellows) on many issues in which he did not receive revelation. After he died, no one person or a select group had an exclusive right to interpret Islam. That is why the Salaf (Muslim predecessors) differed with each other, however respectfully, on nearly every detail of the religion that is not one of the fundamentals. That is why you see multiple schools of thought (Mazhaahib). If there would be a Muslim “Pope”, which school of thought would he follow? And what happens to Muslims who favor a different school of thought, something which they have every right to?

The Quran sets all the guidelines that Muslims need. In today’s parlance, it is a Constitution. It states principles, rules and credos. And it repeatedly invites its readers to reason and to consult each other in order to arrive at the correct conclusions. As a result, Muslims developed a very sophisticated deduction discipline (Usool-ul-Fiqh). Neither the Quran nor the Sunna (practice of the Prophet, PBUH) have sanctioned a priesthood or a clergy system. They have praise for scholars but nothing more.

As for a Caliph, it depends! A benevolent, freely elected leader of Muslims would be a good thing, but any other can do more harm than good, as history teaches us.

God guarantees sustenance, so why do people die of hunger?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

In Surah Hud (Chapter 11), verse 6, Allah says that He has created provisions for all the creatures. I wonder then why people die of hunger? Why is there starvation?

What is the true meaning of this verse?

Starvation is man made. There is plenty of food for all creatures on earth. Did you know that some governments pay farmers NOT to farm? The reason is that if the harvest is plenty, food prices will go down and that would cut into the profits of agricultural and food companies! When people place profits over feeding humanity, imbalance occurs. God’s design has balance.

Verse 11:6 does not guarantee that everyone will find food, it guarantees that God will provide sustenance for all creatures and He has. In the forest, animals do not wake up in the morning to find their daily regimen of food by their nest. They spend all day looking for it. If man takes it away from them for some industrial or military purpose, the animals will die. That is why we humans are Khaleefas (stewards) in the earth. We promised God that we will take care of the earth and its resources that He provided, but look what we’ve done.

Is Sharia law cruel? Does it still apply today?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I just heard the news that a 14 year old girl in Bangladesh was whipped until she died because she was accused of having a relationship with a married man. Of course that’s a bad sin, but shouldn’t the punishment be between her and Allah SWT? It’s not only in this case but many others who punished people under the name of Islam. These kinds of things really put my faith into a depression. Should Sharia really be practiced in todays world? Yes I do know the teachings are from the Quran but isn’t it true some teachings in the Holy Book were only meant for the Arabs back then?

I don’t like to question. But when I hear such scary things, happening under the name of Allah SWT, the Holy Prophet, and Islam I have no choice but to question. I honestly don’t know what to believe. I’m sure if Allah SWT were to reveal the Quran in todays world, it would be very different. I believe that Allah revealed the Quran to fit with the Arab culture of the time. Do you guys believe that these people that are following the Shariah are really following the Shariah or they’re just abusing it? Or that the Shariah shouldn’t be practiced in today’s world because some of the teachings were only meant for Arabs at the time?

Sharia law is meant for all Muslims at all times. It is designed by God to achieve a good society. The Quran was revealed for all times.

That said, Sharia has plenty of preconditions and pre-requisites. It cannot be applied until after a lot of foundations have been in place and all conditions are met. The Prophet (PBUH) spent 13 years in Mecca teaching faith and theology. Not even prayer, fasting and Zakah were clearly defined yet. After migrating to Medina and establishing a state, Sharia was gradually implemented. In fact, the penalties for adultery and theft were not specified until year 7 and later.

A Muslim society needs to establish the entirety of Islam before Sharia may be applied. For instance, you cannot enforce the theft penalty when citizens are poor and cannot find work and Zakah is not collected or properly distributed. That is why Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may God have been pleased with him, suspended the theft penalty during the year of famine (`Aam-ur-Ramaada).

By the same token, the penalty of adultery cannot be enforced when people are unable to marry and when pornography is allowed and easily available.

The Islamic state has the duty to teach Islam to its citizens, to protect them from sin and to provide them with an environment where sin is a luxury, not a necessity. If they choose sin after all that, then the punishment in Sharia is applied to them for discipline and as a deterrent. When you understand this, you understand why Sharia is not cruel though it may seem that way.

When Sharia punishes a crime, it is protecting all others from it. If adultery is left unpunished, for instance, all will be in fear that their spouses may cheat on them. Some spouses will cheat no matter what, but if the adultery penalty is enforced, the probability of cheating is significantly reduced.

Sharia law applies to all Muslims. No one is above the law. So, a state which claims to be Islamic, but will not penalize its elite is NOT Islamic. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “What destroyed those who came before you was that when their nobles stole, they let them go, but when their weak stole, they penalized them! By Him in whose Hand is my soul, if Faatima bint Muhammad (his daughter) stole, I would cut her hand!” (Narrated by `Aa’isha, Urwa ibn Az-Zubayr and Jaabir and reported by Al-Bukhaari, Muslim and At-Tirmizhi).

The above is not my opinion only, it is also the ruling of Dr. Yoosuf Al-Qaradhaawi, President of the International Union of Islamic Scholars. See this interview with him (in Arabic).

I have a few questions for you:

  • The girl was a minor. Minors do not suffer the same penalty as grownups. How come her sentence was not reduced?
  • Was the married man whipped too?
  • Were there four eye witnesses to the adultery act? I doubt it very much. Accusation is not enough. In fact, accusation without supporting witnesses is punishable by eighty floggings! And the accuser is permanently discredited, his testimony is never accepted and he is labeled a Faasiq (deviant). That’s in the Sharia law too, so why is it that not applied?

Update: According to this CNN News article, the girl’s dying words to her mother were that she was innocent! If that’s true, then those who whipped her must be tried for negligent homicide (ضرب أفضى إلى موت). That’s in the Sharia too.

Lessons to learn from the Queen of Sheba

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

I just read the detailed story of the Queen of Sheba in the Quran, verses 27:16-44. What an awesome story!

Indeed it is. In addition, many lessons can be learned from it. That’s why God tells us such stories: so that we learn good lessons.

One such lesson is that tells that she was the ruler of her people. Now, if there was anything fundamentally wrong with having a woman be the leader over men, God would have pointed that out here. But He did not! Thus, we know that women can be leaders over men in Islam.

Another lesson to learn from this marvelous true story is that the Queen of Sheba said, “I submit with Solomon” not to him! When you become Muslim, you join Muslims, not follow them. But you will find many Muslims who wish that you follow them. Don’t do that. Follow God and His Messenger only.

How about a Muslim commune?

Monday, December 13th, 2010

I was reading something about a new Mennonite (similar to Amish) commune in my state. A commune is basically a small community where people share similar interests.

That got me thinking about a Muslim commune! In this case, everyone there would be Muslim and it would be away from a mixed religion city.

There are MANY of these in the United States: Amish communes, Mormons, Hippies (self-sustaining communes) and even one for Buddhists in Oregon.

IF there was a Muslim commune, we could impose “laws” which all people in the community had to abide by. We could have a Shariah law system as close as US federal law allowed.

Alcohol would be illegal, the Masjid (mosque) could play the Adhan (call to prayer) 5 times a day, and given how many Muslims lived there, we could have a private school grades k-12. These things are common in these small communities, usually all one would have to leave for are groceries and other things like that!

How cool would this idea be?

Sorry for discussing the cynical side of it, but unfortunately the cynical side in this case is quite probable.

You may end up with a fundamentalist commune, in which everybody is required to believe in a narrow version of Islam or else are excommunicated. Despite the Quran’s explicit prohibition of it, Muslims have no qualms about calling each other names and they have a large bag of labels to cast on their fellow Muslims who disagree with them. The chance for a successful Muslim commune are slim unless Muslims learn to respect each other’s views and live and let live.

Those Muslims who can coexist with diverse views do not need to live in a commune! They do just fine in a pluralistic society.

Please explain the Jizya verse

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

The Jizya verse is verse 9:29. Jizya means defense tax and it applies to Jews and Christians under Muslim rule. They are not required to join the military but it’s the Muslim ruler’s duty to defend them at time of war, hence the name defense tax.

Because Islamic law does not institute regular taxes, the Islamic state’s main revenue is the Zakah (alms). Since non-Muslim citizens do not pay the Zakah, it would be unfair that they do not pitch in but still be defended. Jizya balances that. That’s what the Arabic word means: compensation.

The command to fight in 9:29 means that People of the Book under Muslim rule are required to pay the Jizya, or be fought until they pay it. In all modern societies, the authorities are legally empowered to collect taxes by force if citizens refuse to pay them. Jizya collection is no different.

The Jizya collector of caliph Umar ibn Abdil-Azeez, may God have been pleased with him, went to him one day complaining that Jizya revenue is shrinking! He said that Christian and Jewish citizens are accepting Islam in large numbers and that’s why less and less Jizya is collected. Umar said to him, “Almighty God sent Muhammad (PBUH) a guide, not a tax collector.”

How do we reach the conclusion that this verse speaks about non-Muslim citizens under Muslim rule?

We know that because it was the understanding of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Sahaaba (his fellows), may God have been pleased with them. They took the Quran in its entirety together and that’s how one can understand the Quran correctly. Extracting one verse and making conclusions from it will not work.

When the early Muslims went to Egypt to call its people to Islam, the Egyptians liked them very much and asked them if they could stay and help them get rid of their Greek occupiers. They agreed and, with God’s help, succeeded in driving the mighty Greeks out of the country. Muslims were suddenly in power in Egypt! Something which historians and orientalists have called a miracle. What did they do with the population which was mostly Christian? They left them with total freedom to choose Islam and simply collected the Jizya from those who chose not to and the Zakah from those who chose to convert. That was the primary revenue for the new Islamic state of Egypt. Muslims did not even try to impose the Arabic language on the Egyptians. Many Muslims learned the Coptic language so that they can be effective governors to the population that did not know a single Arabic word.

That went on for seventy years! During which, Egyptians learned Islam from role models of it and learned Arabic. They converted in droves and they chose Arabic as their new language.

To this day, one of every ten Egyptians is Christian. If the Jizya verse meant forced conversions of non-Muslims, the early Muslims must have misunderstood its meaning

Can authorities force citizens to practice the religion?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Verse 2:256 makes it clear that there shall be no compulsion in religion. Notice that God says “in religion”, not just “upon” it. One has to conclude that no matter in religion can be forced.

What the Muslim authority is obligated to do though, is protect citizens from immorality in the same way any society protects its citizens from crime. If a woman, for example, goes out in improper attire, it is the duty of the Muslim authorities to prevent her, not because they can force her to be decent but to protect others from fitna (temptation to sin). That’s the key difference that many advocates of personal freedom overlook. We cannot drive our own cars on the highway faster than the speed limit because if we do we may cause fatal harm to others, not just ourselves.

So, why did Abu-Bakr, may God have been pleased with him, fight the people who refused to pay the Zakah? Because they remained Muslim! As Muslims, they have committed to pay it. By refusing to pay, they violated the law of the land, just like in America, the Federal government may send U.S. marshals to bust the home of a citizen who refuses to pay taxes.