Archive for the ‘Fundamentalism’ 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.

Why are they leaving Islam?

Friday, August 24th, 2012

An excellent article by Mathew Longacre,

I’d add that the spread of lies, half-truths, bad translations and scare tactics and confusing traditions or culture with religious tenets by Islamophobes, as well as the spread of misinterpretations, misconceptions and flawed fatwas (religious rulings) by fundamentalist Muslims as well as portraying terrorism, mass murder and suicide as Jihaad (!!), all leave the vulnerable and the gullible Muslims in confusion and doubt. It is the responsibility of parents, friends, preachers, scholars and media to rush to help those who have unanswered questions about Islam and answer them! We are all responsible for each other and will be questioned by God on the Day of Judgment if we have failed that responsibility. The Prophet (PBUH) made that quite clear when he said, “All of you are caretakers and all of you will be questioned about those you were to take care of!”, narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar and reported by Al-Bukhaari.

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.

Are they trying to confuse us about our religion?

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot Marie said it was important not to confuse moderate Muslims with radical or fundamentalist parties.”

What do they mean by this? Are they trying to confuse us about our own religion?

What she’s saying is that generalization is wrong. Radicals and fundamentalists do not represent Muslims, nor are the majority. From her point of view, she can work with “moderate” Muslims, but she cannot work with fundamentalists. In that she’s right, because the fundamentalists, by definition, do not want to discuss; they want a fight.

That said, I doubt her sincerity. She was a champion of banning the niqaab in France and was instrumental in getting the ban approved by the French parliament. I heard her speech to the French Parliament. She confuses freedom of religion with social integration. I don’t think she does that out of ignorance, but out of prejudice.

Should Muslims boycott Facebook?

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

I read an article that gives a number of reasons why Muslims should not participate in Facebook or boycott it. I’m thinking they’re right. What do you think?

The reasons gives are:

1. Wastes a significant amount of time
2. Wasting one’s youth

That’s not the fault of Facebook; it’s the fault of its user who cannot or will not organize his or her time.

3. Facebook are the enemies of Islam

Facebook is a public domain like the roads. Enemies of Islam can use it and friends of Islam can use it. If friends of Islam leave it, they give the enemies of Islam a free hand! That would be the opposite of da`wa (calling people to God).

Facebook was indeed too slow to ban the pages that were antagonistic to Islam. But that’s partly due to the fact that Muslim members were not well organized to call for the ban. We can’t blame our failures on others.

4. It is a place of great fitnah (temptation to sin)

Which is under the user control. You choose which pages you like and you can dislike those pages later. You can also delete ads that you find offensive.

That said, if you’re a person who cannot resist fitna, then indeed you should not approach Facebook. But you really should train yourself to resist fitna because you are going to encounter it in your life many times. If you do not build resistance against it, you would easily fall in it, God forbid.

If we leave Facebook and Twitter, we leave the field open to Islamophobes to spread their hatred and leave a field that can be used for Da`wa! Is that wise?

In the US, liberals and progressives left talk radio to the radical conservatives. The result was that talk radio is now dominated by hate mongers and fundamentalist Christians. The liberals realized their mistake and started to use talk radio, but it’s too late now.

Fundamentalism and tolerance

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

I read a good article issued by the Institute of Islamic Understanding in Malaysia. It attempts, however, to legitimize fundamentalism when it says:

  • Fundamentalism is the most abused of words. It is equated with extremism. Yet if the teachings of Islam are studied, it would be clear that the best Muslims are the fundamentalists.
  • That’s not what fundamentalism is. Do you agree?

    You are right. That’s not what fundamentalism is. The mutual misunderstanding comes from the fact that the West means something completely different by fundamentalism from what Muslims means. The West means the belief that the fundamentalist’s opinion or view is the only correct one and all else is false, while Muslims mean by it the return to or insistence on the basics of the religion: the Quran and the Sunna.

    The Arabs translate fundamentalism as الأصولية (Al-Usooliyya) and that is where the error is made! The word has nothing to do with Usooliyya, which means foundationism.

    Fundamentalism is indeed evil, because it assumes that one interpretation, made by mortals who by nature are prone to error, is the only acceptable interpretation and all other are heresies. This can only cause animosity between people with different views. The article discusses verse 3:7, but neglects to mention its epilogue,

    “…As for those in whose hearts is a bias, they follow what carries multiple meanings of it, seeking discord and seeking its ultimate meaning. And no one knows its ultimate meaning except God. And those established in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord.” And no one remembers [that] except those of understanding minds.” (3:7)

    Yet, despite the clear declaration from God, countless scholars tried to interpret verses that carry multiple meanings, which God says is something that only He can do! See this discussion for more details about this verse.

    The lesson I think should have been learned form 3:7 is that a verse that carries multiple meanings was revealed that way because all of those meanings are intended! To confine such a verse to one meaning is to narrow down what God has widened.

    What is Muslims attitude toward Christmas?

    Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

    I saw a pamphlet here in the UK which claims that Christmas is a lie and an evil and that it is the duty of Muslims to attack it. The pamphlet is incoherent and it actually blames Christmas for crimes such as domestic violence and societal ills such as homelessness!

    Two phenomena that also exist in the Muslim world, so who is to blame them on there? The pamphlet is an incoherent rant like you said and should be taken as the attitude of its self-righteous authors only. They represent only themselves.

    Islam treats other faiths with respect, even as it strongly disagrees with their theologies. The Prophet (PBUH) said that “For every community is their feast.” And God tells us in the holy Quran to “invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good preaching, and argue with them in the most beautiful manner. Verily, your Lord knows best whom has strayed from His way and it is He who knows best whom are the guided”? (16:125)

    Islam gives particular consideration to “the People of the Book”, i.e., the Jews and Christians. God says in the holy Quran, “And do not argue with the People of the Book except in the most beautiful way” (29:46).

    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.

    Intolerance for differing opinions

    Sunday, November 28th, 2010

    I have been a regular contributor to an Islamic discussion board, but decided to leave them. The forum has been invaded by people who have no tolerance for opposing views. Someone can’t even ask what time it is without there being posted a dozen hadiths talking about how to build your own watch, followed by half a dozen saying time is bid’ah (novelty). Yet the original question remains largely unanswered.

    LOL! I know what you mean and you summarized the situation well.

    One thing that has kept me away though is how differences of opinion are NOT ALLOWED on that forum. If we do not agree with you, you’re wrong. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. We do not care if you have hadith backing your point. It does not match ours. So – you are wrong. No, there is no discussion. You are wrong. Period!

    Compare that to this story about Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may God bless his soul. Is-haaq ibn Bahlool wrote a book about differences of opinion and brought it to Ibn Hanbal. He said to him, “I’m going to call it the Book of Disagreement.” The Imaam replied, “No. Call it the Book of Wideness!” The wise Imaam knew that differences in opinion and interpretation are a blessing, because they multiply the possibilities. But, no, many Muslims want one narrow view to prevail. Theirs!

    My humble advice is: Don’t stay away. Be patient and continue to contribute. Fundamentalism flourishes only when it is not opposed. It is easy to defeat because the evidence against it is overwhelming, but it requires resolute debaters.

    The dogmatic mind

    Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

    Dr. Tariq Ramadan wrote an excellent article about the dogmatic mind. Check it out.

    Thanks for the reference. Great article, indeed. Dr. Ramadan is describing fundamentalism and its effect on the mind. Fundamentalism can be found in all aspects of life: politics, economics and religion. “It’s my way or the highway” as they say. We have seen each being abused by its adherents, not to mention imposed on others. If only we listen to God when He says,

    “Say, ‘O God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, You will judge between your servants concerning that over which they used to differ.’ ” (39:46)

    Balance is the bedrock of Islam. There is, for instance, a fine line between respect for and loyalty to scholars and taqleed (imitation). Taqleed dumps the mind, incapacitates intellect and makes infallible out of humans when we all know that even the Prophet, peace be upon him, made mistakes which are documented in the Quran! That’s one extreme. The other extreme is to look down on our great heritage and attempt to reinvent the wheel. No good ever comes out of extremes.