Archive for the ‘Constitution and Law’ 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.

How can I become an Islamic scholar?

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Salam, there is something that I’ve wanted to know but couldn’t really find any defined information on.
1- What is an Islamic Scholar? 2- How does one become an Islamic Scholar? 3- How many years does it take to become one? (how long) 4- What are the necessary college classes/courses and degrees necessary to be qualified as one? (i.e., PhD?) 5-Are there different types of Islamic Scholars(specializations)? If there are, what are they?

Becoming an Islamic Scholar is something that I am really interested in in the near future. I hope this is not a lot, and I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

An Islamic scholar is one who can study an Islamic text, determine its credibility and then deduce intent from it. Like any other field of scholarship, this requires acquiring knowledge as well as skills of logical analysis and critical thinking honed by discipline and methodology.

Such scientific approach is crucial for weeding out whimsical opinions! If you have listened to some fatwas (religious edicts) issued by unknown, self-appointed Muslim scholars on satellite TV and YouTube, you know what I’m talking about.

Prior to modern times, Islamic scholars were not many and they all had to learn and be licensed (Ijaaza) by a recognized scholar. This approach carried over to modern times in the form of colleges and universities where Islamic disciplines are formally taught by teachers of high repute and earned licenses. If you want to be a formal Islamic scholar, this is the proper way to go about it. Such study takes about four years in reputable learning institutions such as Al-Azhar and Darul-Uloom universities in Egypt, for instance.

That said, one can attend these places of learning and graduate from them without actually becoming a scholar! Why? Because a student who simply memorized what he or she has been taught and echoes the rulings he or she has learned is a copy, not a scholar. Such a person cannot handle new, controversial or challenging issues. You will notice right away that they do not have what it takes and that they will end up giving their personal opinion, which is often based on their likes and dislikes.

God has honored scholars a number of times in the holy Quran. For instance,
“Verily, those who truly fear God out of all His worshipers are the scholars” (35:28) and
“But if they had referred the matter back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who can deduce from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of God upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.” (4:83)

Thus, true Islamic scholarship can save Muslims from falling prey to Satan. It can also sort out what is religion and what is tradition. So many people mix the two.

Finally, you asked about disciplines and specialties. Disciplines are many. There are disciplines centered on the Quran, such as its language and syntax, its interpretations, how to deduce rulings from it. There are disciplines centered on the Hadeeth, such as authenticating it, knowing the biographies and credibility of its narrators, how to deduce rulings from it, how it and the Sunna explain the Quran, etc. There is also the discipline of Usool-ul-Fiqh, which I personally think is near the top of disciplines, because it teaches the foundations of deduction. It disciplines the mind to be rational, logical and methodical. That way, the many pitfalls that some fall into can be systematically avoided.

There is also the discipline of law (Sharee`a), history, comparative religions and more. You can specialize in any of it. You can study with the aim of becoming a preacher, for instance, or a judge. Your academic advisor can help guide you in this endeavor. Best wishes.

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 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.

Buddhist killer pardoned by Muslim victim’s family

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Relatives of a Muslim Sri Lankan worker murdered by his Buddhist colleague in the country of Abu Dhabi told court they have decided to pardon the killer.

An official from the Sri Lankan embassy in Abu Dhabi handed the pardon document from the victim’s relatives to court on Tuesday, the semi-official Arabic language daily Alittihad newspaper said.

“They just pardoned the Buddhist killer without demanding any diya (punitive damages) taking into consideration that the killer’s family is poor,” it said.

Source: Americans Against Islamophobia

Few people know this, but in Sharee`a (Islamic law), when a killer is convicted in a court of law, it is not up to the judge to issue a sentence! The judge is obliged to give the victim’s family one of three choices of sentence to make: (1) Pardon the killer, (2) Take punitive damages, or (3) Execute. The judge is also obliged to explain to the victim’s family why they may consider a non-terminal sentence.

Ah, if only people would know the true Sharee`a instead of the propaganda Sharia.

Do Muslims have a covenant with God?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The Jews believe that they have a covenant with God. Do Muslims believe they have a covenant with God? What does Islam say about God’s covenant?

God’s covenant with people has been the same since He created Adam. It is that we believe in Him alone, do not associate anything or anybody with Him in worship, uphold His laws, follow His Messengers, and honor His scriptures. That is Al-Amaana (the Trust) which God speaks about in this key verse,

“We offered the Trust to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains. They declined to carry it and were apprehensive of it. But man carried it; he is ever unjust and ignorant.” (33:72)

We volunteered for the job, but we haven’t done it too well!

The first obligation of the covenant is made clear in this verse:

“When your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.” (7:172)

The belief in the One God is in our DNA!

Whenever God sent a Messenger to a people, He had them testify that they would uphold the Covenant. That is why many scriptures are called Testaments. There are many verses in the Quran which speak about that, for instance:

“And [recall] when God took the covenant of the prophets, [saying,] “Surely whatever I give you of the Book and wisdom and then comes to you a messenger confirming what is with you, that you [will] indeed believe in him and support him.” [God] said, “Have you acknowledged and taken upon that My commitment?” They said, “We have acknowledged.” He said, “Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses.” (3:81)

Thus, the Covenant was taken by all prophets and part of it was that all future prophets must be followed.

“And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except God; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give alms.” Then you turned away, except a few of you, with refusal.” (2:83)

The covenant included God’s moral teachings as well as theological fundamentals. The Children of Israel were one of the earliest people who did not uphold the Covenant.

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when God took a covenant from those who were given the Book, [saying], “You must make it clear to the people and not conceal it.” But they banished it behind their backs and exchanged it for a small price. Then how wretched is what they purchased!” (3:187)

The covenant included spreading the word of God to all, but people have hidden it, or worse, altered it.

What do people get when they stick to their end of the Covenant? God explains clearly in this verse,

“And God had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve leaders. And God said, “I am with you. If you establish prayer and give alms and believe in My messengers and support them and loan God a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the level road” (5:12)

We get the company of God! We get expiation of our sins. We get the ultimate reward in the Hereafter. May God enable us to uphold His Covenant and not deviate from the level road.

In case you’re wondering whether Christians were exempted from the Covenant, I invite you to read Mathew 5:17-20, in which Jesus (PBUH) is reported to have said that any talk about him abolishing the law is nonsense, that the law stands as long as the heavens and the earth stand, and that those who do not uphold the law will not enter the Kingdom of God. The law of God has been, and always will be the same, and it applies to all people without exceptions. Upholding it is the covenant we made with God.

God reminds Muslims in the holy Quran of their covenant with God. He says,
“And remember the favor of God upon you and His covenant with which He bound you when you said, ‘We hear and we obey’; and watch out for God. Indeed, God is much Knowing of that within the bosoms.” (5:7)

Is paying Jizya a sign of disgrace?

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

The Jizya verse, 9:29, says that the people of the Book have to be fought until they pay the Jizya in humility. Is paying Jizya a sign of disgrace?

That is not what the verse says. It says that citizens of a Muslim country, who are Jewish or Christian, must pay a defense tax called Jizya, and if they refuse, the authorities may fight them until they do. That is not a sign of disgrace, it’s a citizenship duty. That is the same law all countries use to collect mandatory taxes from their citizens. In the USA, for example, Federal Marshals are authorized by law to fight, with guns if necessary, any citizen who refuses to pay taxes.

That is simply being fair to the other citizens. Muslim citizens are not only required to join the army at time of war, but they also pay Zakah (mandatory alms). Non-Muslim citizens are exempt from military service and from Zakah. Jizya is what they have to pay in equivalence to Zakah.

The word God uses in 9:29 does not mean disgrace, it means humbled, as in surrendering to the authorities. The law of the land has to be followed by all citizens equally.

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.

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.

How does Islamic law protect non-Muslim citizens?

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Historically speaking, Christians never lived in more peace when it came to Islam ruling in Palestine where Shariah (Islamic law) was implemented. Even the Jews used to “run to the Arab lands” for the freedom and equality they saw there.

That was also said by Abba Eban, one of the founders of Israel and a prominent British Jew. He said it in an interview for the PBS documentary “Civilization and the Jews.”

One Rabbi wrote a letter to his family telling them that even in court the Jews had equal justice against Muslims.

Ali ibn Abi-Taalib, may God have been pleased with him, sued a Jew. He said he borrowed a shield from him and never returned it. The judge asked Ali if he had witnesses to the loan. Ali did not. The judge dismissed the case!

Ali was the caliph at the time, mind you!

Sharia law is the best, but it needs to be correctly implemented. Leaders who attempt to apply Shariah law never implement it right and it causes problems.

You said it. The problem is that Sharia enthusiasts rush to implement it but forget to lay the foundation for it first, like the Prophet did, peace be upon him. You can’t apply penal code before you’ve provided opportunities for education, jobs, investment, prosperity, democracy and freedom. That is why Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may God have been pleased with him, suspended the theft penalty during the year of famine.

You also have to apply the law to all, including the ruler and the elite. Only an independent judiciary can govern that. I bet a lot of Sharia enthusiasts will change their minds after that! When was the last time you heard of a “royal prince” who was flogged for drinking alcohol?

Lastly, you cannot impose Sharia on non-Muslim citizens. They have to request it first (5:42). If they don’t, they are delegated to their own arbitration mechanisms.