An International call for Moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic World
Muslim majority societies and Muslims around the world are constantly confronted with the fundamental question of how to implement the penalties prescribed in the Islamic penal code.
Evoking the notion of sharî’a, or more precisely hudûd, the terms of the debate are defined by central questions emerging from thought provoking discussions taking place between ulamâ’ (scholars) and/or Muslim masses: How to be faithful to the message of Islam in the contemporary era? How can a society truly define itself as “Islamic” beyond what is required in the daily practices of individual private life? But a critical and fruitful debate has not yet materialized.
Several currents of thought exist in the Islamic world today and disagreements are numerous, deep and recurring. Among these, a small minority demands the immediate and strict application of hudûd, assessing this as an essential prerequisite to truly defining a “Muslim majority society” as “Islamic”. Others, while accepting the fact that the hudûd are indeed found in the textual references (the Qur’an and the Sunna), consider the application of hudûd to be conditional upon the state of the society which must be just and, for some, has to be “ideal” before these injunctions could be applied. Thus, the priority is the promotion of social justice, fighting against poverty and illiteracy etc. Finally, there are others, also a minority, who consider the texts relating to hudûd as obsolete and argue that these references have no place in contemporary Muslim societies.
One can see the opinions on this subject are so divergent and entrenched that it becomes difficult to discern what the respective arguments are. At the very moment we are writing these lines- while serious debate is virtually non-existent, while positions remain vague and even nebulous, and consensus among Muslims is lacking- women and men are being subjected to the application of these penalties.
For Muslims, Islam is a message of equality and justice. It is our faithfulness to the message of Islam that leads us to recognize that it impossible to remain silent in the face of unjust applications of our religious references. The debate must liberate itself and refuse to be satisfied by general, timid and convoluted responses. These silences and intellectual contortions are unworthy of the clarity and just message of Islam.
In the name of the scriptural sources, the Islamic teachings, and the contemporary Muslim conscience, statements must be made and decisions need to be taken.
• What does the majority of the ulamâ’ say?
All the ulamâ’ (scholars) of the Muslim world, of yesterday and of today and in all the currents of thought, recognize the existence of scriptural sources that refer to corporal punishment (Qur’an and Sunna), stoning of adulterous men and women (Sunna) and the penal code (Qur’an and Sunna). The divergences between the ulamâ’ and the various trends of thought (literalist, reformist, rationalist, etc.) are primarily rooted in the interpretation of a certain number of these texts, the conditions of application of the Islamic penal code, as well as its degree of relevance to the contemporary era (nature of the committed infractions, testimonials, social and political contexts, etc.).
The majority of the ulamâ’, historically and today, are of the opinion that these penalties are on the whole Islamic but that the conditions under which they should be implemented are nearly impossible to reestablish. These penalties, therefore, are “almost never applicable”. The hudûd would, therefore, serve as a “deterrent,” the objective of which would be to stir the conscience of the believer to the gravity of an action warranting such a punishment.
Anyone who reads the books of the ulamâ’, listens to their lectures and sermons, travels inside the Islamic world or interacts with the Muslim communities of the West will inevitably and invariably hear the following pronouncement from religious authorities: “almost never applicable”. Such pronouncements give the majority of ulamâ and Muslim masses a way out of dealing with the fundamental issues and questions without risking appearing to be have betrayed the Islamic scriptural sources. The alternative posture is to avoid the issue of hudûd altogether and/or to remain silent.
• What is happening on the ground?
One would have hoped that this pronouncement, “almost never,” would be understood as a assurance that women and men would be protected from repressive and unjust treatment; one would have wished that the stipulated conditions would be seen, by legislators and government who claim Islam, as an imperative to promote equality before the law and justice among humans. Nothing could be further from the reality.
Behind an Islamic discourse that minimizes the reality and rounds off the angles, and within the shadows of this “almost never”, lurks a somber reality where women and men are punished, beaten, stoned and executed in the name of hudûd while Muslim conscience the world over remains untouched.
It is as if one does not know, as though a minor violation is being done to the Islamic teachings. A still more grave injustice is that these penalties are applied almost exclusively to women and the poor, the doubly victimized, never to the wealthy, the powerful, or the oppressors. Furthermore, hundreds of prisoners have no access to anything that could even remotely be called defense counsel. Death sentences are decided and carried out against women, men and even minors (political prisoners, traffickers, delinquents, etc.) without ever given a chance to obtain legal counsel. In resigning ourselves to having a superficial relationship to the scriptural sources, we betray the message of justice of Islam.
The international community has an equally major and obvious responsibility to be involved in addressing the question of hudûd in the Muslim world. Thus far, the denunciations have been selective and calculated for the protection of geostrategic and economic interests. A poor country, in Africa or Asia, trying to apply the hudûd or the sharî’a will face the mobilization of international campaigns as we have seen recently. This is not the case with rich countries, the petromonarchies and those considered “allies”. Towards the latter, denunciations are made reluctantly, or not at all, despite ongoing and acknowledged applications of these penalties typically carried out against the poorest or weakest segments of society. The intensity of the denouncements is inversely proportional to the interests at stake. A further injustice!
• The passion of the people, the fear of the ulamâ’
For those who travel within the Islamic world and interact with Muslims, an analysis imposes itself: everywhere, populations are demonstrating an increasing devotion to Islam and its teachings. This reality, although interesting in itself, could be troubling, and even dangerous when the nature of this devotion is so fervent, where there is no real knowledge or comprehension of the texts, where there is so little if any critical distance vis-à-vis the different scholarly interpretations, the necessary contextualization, the nature of the required conditions or, indeed the protection of the rights of the individual and the promotion of justice.
On the question of hudûd, one sometimes sees popular support hoping or exacting a literal and immediate application because the latter would guarantee henceforth the “Islamic” character of a society. In fact, it is not rare to hear Muslim women and men (educated or not, and more often of modest means) calling for a formal and strict application of the penal code (in their mind, the sharî’a) of which they themselves will often be the first victims. When one studies this phenomenon, two types of reasoning generally motivate these claims:
1. The literal and immediate application of the hudûd legally and socially provides a visible reference to Islam. The legislation, by its harshness, gives the feeling of fidelity to the Qur’anic injunctions that demands rigorous respect of the text. At the popular level, one can infer in the African, Arabic, Asian as well as Western countries, that the very nature of this harshness and intransigence of the application, gives an Islamic dimension to the popular psyche.
2. The opposition and condemnations by the West supplies, paradoxically, the popular feeling of fidelity to the Islamic teachings; a reasoning that is antithetical, simple and simplistic. The intense opposition of the West is sufficient proof of the authentic Islamic character of the literal application of hudûd. Some will persuade themselves by asserting that the West has long since lost its moral references and became so permissive that the harshness of the Islamic penal code which punishes behaviors judged immoral, is by antithesis, the true and only alternative “to Western decadence”.
These formalistic and binary reasoning are fundamentally dangerous for they claim and grant an Islamic quality to a legislation, not in what it promotes, protects and applies justice to, but more so because it sanctions harsh and visible punishment to certain behaviors and in stark contrast and opposition to the Western laws, which are perceived as morally permissive and without a reference to religion. One sees today that communities or Muslim people satisfy themselves with this type of legitimacy to back a government or a party that calls for an application of the sharî’a narrowly understood as a literal and immediate application of corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty.
When this type of popular passion takes hold, it is the first sign of a will to respond to various forms of frustration and humiliation by asserting an identity that perceives itself as Islamic (and anti-Western). Such an identity is not based on the comprehension of the objectives of the Islamic teachings (al maqâsid) or the different interpretations and conditions relating to the application of the hudûd.
Faced with this passion, many ulamâ’ remain prudent for the fear of losing their credibility with the masses. One can observe a psychological pressure exercised by this popular sentiment towards the judicial process of the ulamâ’, which normally should be independent so as to educate the population and propose alternatives. Today, an inverse phenomenon is revealing itself. The majority of the ulamâ’ are afraid to confront these popular and simplistic claims which lack knowledge, are passionate and binary, for fear of losing their status and being defined as having compromised too much, not been strict enough, too westernized or not Islamic enough.
The ulamâ’, who should be the guarantors of a deep reading of the texts, the guardians of fidelity to the objectives of justice and equality and of the critical analysis of conditions and social contexts, find themselves having to accept either a formalistic application (an immediate non-contextualized application), or a binary reasoning (less West is more Islam), or hide behind “almost never applicable” pronouncements which protects them but which does not provide real solutions to the daily injustices experienced by women and the poor.
• An impossible status quo: our responsibility
The Islamic world is experiencing a very deep crisis the causes of which are multiple and sometimes contradictory. The political system of the Arab world is becoming more and more entrenched, references to Islam frequently instrumentalized, and public opinion is often muzzled or blindly passionate (to such a point as to accept, indeed even to call for, the most repressive interpretations and least just application of the “Islamic sharî’a” and hudûd).
In terms of the more circumscribed religious question, we can observe a crisis of authority accompanied by an absence of internal debate among the ulamâ’ in the diverse schools of thought and within Muslim societies. It becomes apparent that a variety of opinions, accepted in Islam, are whirling today within a chaotic framework leading to the coexistence of disparate and contradictory Islamic legal opinions each claiming to have more “Islamic character” than the other.
Faced with this legal chaos, the ordinary Muslim public is more appeased by “an appearance of fidelity”, then it is persuaded by opinions based on real knowledge and understanding of the governing Islamic principles and rules (ahkâm).
Let us look at the reality, as it exists. There is a today a quadruple crisis of closed and repressive political systems, religious authorities upholding contradictory juristic positions and unknowledgeable populations swept up in remaining faithful to the teachings of Islam through religious fervor than through true reflection. The crisis cannot legitimize our silence. We are accomplices and guilty when women and men are punished, stoned or executed in the name of a formal application of the scriptural sources.
It leaves the responsibility to the Muslims of the entire world. It is for them to rise to the challenge of remaining faithful to the message of Islam in the contemporary era; it is for them to denounce the failures and the betrayals being carried out by whatever authorities or any Muslim individual. A prophetic tradition reports: “Support your brother, whether he be unjust or victim of an injustice.” One of the Companions asked: “Messenger of God, I understand how to support someone that is a victim of injustice, but how can I support him who is unjust?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) responded: “Prevent him from being unjust, that is you support to him.”
It thus becomes the responsibility of each ‘âlim (scholar), of each conscience, every woman and man, wherever they may be to speak up. Western Muslims either hide behind the argument that they are exempt from the application of the sharî’a or hudûd since they are “in a minority position”. Their avoidance of the questions leaves a heavy and troubling silence. Or they express condemnation from afar without attempting to change the situation and influence the mentalities. These Muslim women and men who live in spaces of political freedom, who have access to education and knowledge, shoulder – in the very name of the Islamic teachings – have a major responsibility to attempt to reform the situation, open a relevant debate, condemn and put a end to injustices perpetrated in their name.
• A call, some questions:
Taking into account all these considerations, we launch today a call for an immediate international moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in all Muslim majority countries. Considering that the opinions of most scholars, regarding the comprehension of the texts and the application of hudûd, are neither explicit nor unanimous (indeed there is not even a clear majority), and bearing in mind that political systems and the state of the majority Muslim societies do not guarantee a just and equal treatment of individuals before the law, it is our moral obligation and religious responsibility to demand for the immediate suspension of the application of the hudûd which is inaccurately accepted as an application of “Islamic sharî’a”.
This call doubles itself with a series of basic questions addressed to the body of Islamic religious authorities of the world, whatever their tradition (sunnî or shî’î), their school of thought (hanâfî, mâlikî, ja’farî, etc.) or their tendencies (literalist, salafî, reformist, etc.) :
1. What are the texts (and what is their respective degrees of recognized authenticity), that make reference to corporal punishment, stoning and to the death penalty in the corpus of the Islamic scriptural sources circumscribed to what the specialists call the hudûd? Where are the margins of possible interpretations and on which points are there clear divergences (al ikhtilâf) in the history of the Islamic law and in the contemporary era?
2. What are the conditions (shurût) stipulated for each of the penalties by the sources themselves, the consensus of the scholars (al ijmâ’) or by individual scholars through Islamic law history and jurisprudence (fiqh)? Where are the divergences on the stipulations and what “extenuating circumstances” were sometimes elaborated by religious authorities throughout history or within the different schools of thought?
3. The socio-political context (al wâqi’) was always considered by the ulamâ’ as one of the conditions needed for the application of hudûd. The importance of this question is such that it demands special treatment (and participation within the debate from intellectuals, notably those who are specialized in the social sciences). In which context today is it possible to apply hudûd? What would be the required conditions in terms of political systems and the application of the general legislation: freedom of expression, equality before the law, public education, eradication of poverty and social exclusion? Which are, in this domain, the areas of divergence between the legal schools and the ulamâ’ and on what are these disagreements based?
Studying these questions are meant to clarify the terms of the debate with regards to the interpretative latitudes offered by the texts, while simultaneously taking into account the determining state of contemporary societies and their evolution. This intra-community reflection requires from the start a double understanding of the texts and contexts, in keeping solemnly with the objectives of the Islamic message. On the whole, this must allow us to respond to the questions of what is applicable (and according to which methods) and what is no longer applicable (considering the required conditions are impossible to reestablish as well as the fact that societal evolution is clearly moving away from the required ideal).
This undertaking requires, from within, rigour, time and establishing spaces of dialogue and debate, nationally and internationally, between the ulamâ’, Muslim intellectuals and inside the Muslim communities since this matter is not only about a relationship to the texts, but equally, to the context. In the interval, there can be no justification for applying penalties that sanction legal approximations and injustices such as is the case today. A moratorium would impose and allow a basic debate to unfold in serenity, without using it as an excuse to manipulate Islam. All injustices made legal in the name of Islam must stop immediately.
• Between the letter and objectives: fidelity
Some will understand this call as an instigation to disrespect the scriptural sources of Islam, thinking that to ask for a moratorium goes against the explicit texts of the Qu`ran and Sunna. Precisely the opposite is true: all the legal texts demand to be read in light of the objective intended to justify them (Al-maqâsid). Foremost among these objectives, we find stipulated that the protection of the integrity of the person (an- nafs) and the promotion of justice (al-’adl) are primordial. Therefore, a literal and non-contextualized application of hudûd, with no regard for strict and numerous stipulated conditions, and one which would present itself as being faithful to the teachings of Islam, is in fact a betrayal if according to the context, for it produces an injustice.
The caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab established a moratorium towards thieves when he suspended the application of the punishment during a famine. Despite the Qur’anic text beingvery explicit on this, the state of the society meant it would have been an unjust literal application: they would have castigated poor people whose potential theft would have been for the sole purpose of surviving in a state of absolute poverty. Therefore, in the name of absolute justice demanded by the global message of Islam, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab decided to suspend the application of a text: keeping with the literalist interpretation would have meant disloyalty and betrayal of the superior value of Islam that is justice. It is in the name of Islam and in the understanding of texts that he suspended the application of one of these injunctions. The moratorium finds here a precedent of the utmost importance.
Reflection and necessary reform within Muslim majority societies will not occur but from within. It is for Muslims to take up their responsibilities and set in motion a debate that opensan intra-community dialogue, while refusing the continued legalizedinjusticesin the name of Islam, i.e. in their name. An endogenous dynamic is imperative
This does not mean that the questions put forward by non-Muslim intellectuals or citizens should be dismissed. On the contrary, all parties must learn to decentre themselves and move towards listening to the other, to the other’s points of reference, logic and their aspiration. For Muslims, all queries, from their co-religionists or women and men who do share their religious conviction, are welcome. It is for us to make use of these questions as a spark of dynamism to our thoughts. This is how we can remain faithful to the justice demanded by Islam while taking into account also the demands of the contemporary era.
This call for an immediate moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty is demanding on many fronts. We are defining it as a call to consciousness of each individual so that she/he realizes that Islam is being used to degrade and subjugate women and men in certain Muslim majority societies in the midst of collusive silence and chaotic judicial opinions on the ground. This realization implies:
– A mobilization of ordinary Muslims throughout the world to call on their governments to place an immediate moratorium on the application of hudûd and for the opening of a vast intra-community debate (critical, reasonable and reasoned) between the ulamâ, the intellectuals, the leaders and the general population.
– Taking the ulamâ to account so that they at last dare to report the injustices and instrumentalization of Islam in the field of hudûd and, in the name of fidelity to the Islamic texts, to put out a call for an immediate moratorium emulating the example of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab.
– Promoting education of Muslim populations so that they go beyond the mirage of the formalism and appearances. The application of the repressive interpretations, measures and punishment does not make a society more faithful to the Islamic teachings. It is more the capacity to promote social justice and the protection the integrity of every individual, woman or man, rich or poor, that determines a truly authentic fidelity. The priority, according to the norms of Islam, is given to the protection of rights not to administering punishments which are meant to be implemented under strict and conditioned exceptions.
– This movement for reform from within, by the Muslims and in the name of the message and reference texts of Islam, should never neglect listening to the surrounding world as well as to the inquiries that Islam raises in non-Muslim minds. Not to concede to responses from “the other”, from “the West”, but, in order to remain, in its mirror, more constructively faithful to oneself.
We urge all of those that take heed to this call to join us and make their voices heard for the immediate suspension of the application of hudûd in the Muslim world so that a real debate establishes itself on the question. We say that in the name of Islam, of its texts and of the message of justice, we can no longer accept that women and men undergo punishment and death while we remain utterly silent, as accomplices, through a process which is ultimately cowardly.
It is urgent that Muslim throughout the world refuse the formalist legitimization of the teachings of their religion and reconcile themselves with the deep message that invites towards spirituality, demands education, justice and the respect of pluralism. Societies will never reform themselves by repressive measures and punishment but more so by the engagement of each to establish civil society and the respect of popular will as well as a just legislation guaranteeing the equality of women and men, poor and rich before the law. It is urgent to set in motion a democratization movement that moves populations from the obsession of what the law is sanctioning to the claim of what it should protect: their conscience, their integrity, their liberty and their rights.
 A concept which literally means “limits”. In the specialized language of Muslim jurists, (fuqahâ’), this term is inclusive of the punishment which is revealed in the application of the Islamic Penal code. Sharî’a, literally ‘the way to the source” and a path to faithfulness, is a corpus of Islamic jurisprudence the in-depth definition of which is beyond the scope of this paper. Sharî’a has sadly been reduced to legalistic formulae of a penal code in the minds of many, Muslims and non-Muslim alike
 Prophetic tradition: texts which report what the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) did, said or approved of during his lifetime.
 In Muslim countries, laws that we see as being “ borrowed from the west “ are often interpreted as tools by dictatorial governments to mislead and legitimize their autocratic character, and more importantly, to promote a westernized culture and morals.
 Hadîth reported by al-Bukhârî and Muslim.
 The argument is weak and dangerous as it tacitly accepts the application of hudûd within today’s societal context as “ Islamic “
 If ever in doubt, all circumstances require the benefit of the doubt towards the accused according to a legal universal principle (acknowledged from the start by the tradition of Islamic jurisprudence)
63 commentaires - “An International call for Moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic World”
I strongly hope that Muslim governments, intellectuals and scholars of Islam would listen attentively and pay undivided attention to what Dr. Tariq Ramadan has to say in his A Call for an International Moratorium on Corporal Punishment, Stoning and the Death Penalty in the Islamic World.
There have been a lot of abuses, especially to the poor and less fortunate people by these governments that claim to adhere to the Islamic law while in reality, they dont.
A Somali woman who now lives in Canada lost her late husband and the father of her children in Saudi Arabia in a brutal and unjust manner.
He was accused of having involved in a bank rubbery. Without having legal counsel, he was sentenced to a public beheading.
The bank manager of the financial institution that was robbed was severely tortured until he became completely paralyzed.
As Dr. Ramadan rightly put it, the application of the repressive interpretations, measures and punishment does not make a society more faithful to the Islamic teachings.
Is it more the capacity to promote social justice and the protection the integrity of every individual, woman or man, rich or poor, that determines a truly authentic fidelity.
I very strongly support this appeal and I hope that our ulema and governments pay heed to it.
I’m absolutely agreed with you and hope our ULEMA, SCHOLARS and Sharia law in Islamic states and Islamic conference must pay attention to the corporal punishement and other practices, In Afganistan during Taliban time, the cutting thieves hands, and peoples starve to death!!
The true adminstrator of Justice is Allah.
When Muslim countries are knee-deep with philosophies that are not-so-islamic ( ie. consider their economic systems ), the call for a « Moratorium » is much needed.
I’m glad you’ve provided the context and well known example of Caliph Umar, relaxing punishments, when the state could not provide help when a famine had broken out.
Much of the opposition stems from the realization that – If a Muslim country does declare a moratorium on Hudud – their inhabitants will finally see the dawn – that their rulers weren’t so Islamic after all.
What i can say about making sharia the state law in some islamic countries, is that if the economic system(which is fundamental for everyday life) is not islamic, things as stoning and other islamic capital punishments can not operate proparly. One can not give some conditions for one thing which are not purely islamic, and then expect from people and them after other islamic laws. I see that as pure compensation of lack of islamic practice in major fields. That is the same as not eating pork but not loving your family and hoping one would compensate for the other. Thank you
I disagree with your point. Its a prmitive practice and all death penalities are violation of basic human rights. I can’t imagine how this religion can thrive on idea of blood and human life? I am amazed by the enviornment of fear that you encourage in any state.
Stoning and all these corporal punishments happen in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 1400 years ago. Has it ever reduced the crime? Has it allowed women to rasie their voice on victimization such as rape? Has it eradicated poverty and adultery. NO. However it has induced fear among people to shut their mouth and never seek justice. What kind of mentality Muslims have. Its all based on fear.
I am pessimistic about the possibility of this moratorium in many majority Muslim countries since these cruel and mainly pre-islamic practices of oppressing women and violence to fellow moslems are the main whip of oppressive self-enriching oligarchies in the Middle East. Moslems have become closed in and fearful as their education systems progressively shut down since the apogee of Islam, and in areas where education and living standards are low (and kept deliberately low) the actions of the ignorant, cruel and self-interested are making life really hard for moslems in democratic countries as well as the poorer people in their own regions. Often the savage application of reprisals contradict the Holy Q’ran! As a convert who has no choice but to study carefully the Q’ran and the sunnah to find the true practise of Islam insh’Allah as best I can, I have often personally felt the need for this moratorium and thank Dr Ramadan with all my heart for tryng to do this, With Allah’s help perhaps there will be some progress insh’Allah.
Professor Ramadan, thank you for your courage and positive action in the name of our shared faith.
WHY WE ARE SO IMPRESS FROM WEST THAT WE CANNOT SHOW THEM EVEN THE TRUE SHARIAH LAW AND TRYING TO MANIPULATE OR MAKE CHANGES IN ORDER TO LIVE IN WESTERN WORLD,WHY HAVE NOT WE ABLE SO FAR TO SHOW A REALL ISLAM EVEN IN ONE COUNTRY, FOR INSTANCE TALIBAN TRY TO ENFORCE SHARIAH LAW IN AFGANISTAN NOT MUSLIM COUNTRY HELP THEM OPENLY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN RAHTER THEY WERE AWAY FROM THEM.SO WE NEED TO THINK TO APPLY SHARIAH LAW IN ITS TRUE NATURE RATHER THAN NEVER TESTED AND MAKING COMMENTS THAT IT IS NOT FESIABLE IN MODERN WORLD.
SHER ALI KHAN
It seems like the solution should NOT be a moratorium to the hudood, but rather a moratorium to the injustice that happens in the courts in some Muslims countries.
I appreciate the intellectual discussion, and would apprecaite it if someone would reply to the above.
as salam 3aleikoum wa rahmatullah,
Very good. I’m glad you published the call. you are absolutly right and make total sense islamically. I’m disappointed by the reaction of many « leaders » around the world though…I mean how can someone in the US, promote a type of law application he’s not a subject to himself…i’m truely sorry about my following language but i think i got to a point of exasperation. They are hypocrites, munafiqun !!! a bunch of rich guys running after titles, trying to look islamic. The fact is NO. sharia is not being respected anywhere. YES the only people being punished by mutilation are women and pour so NO it is not justice. Keep faith brother, those who think about the muslims are with you. maa salam
i feel that the issue which needs to be deliberated and robustly debated is the entire legal proceedings which leads to a court verdict, be it guilty or not guilty.none has a problem with the punishment or hudood since it has been legislated by Allah and His Messenger(pbuh). These punishments are none to all even those who are not muslim.however, the enigma is the legal procedure, in its entire, not even the muslims has information about this issue.they are even baffled by the convictions whether it is a guilty or not guilty verdict.everyone knows how a secular legal system functions thanks to hollywood but how does the islamic legal system function in this technologically advanced age.is DNA samples, video recordings admissible in an islamic court?how about the jury system or the different schools of islamic law will they be overruled in an islamic court.let us be relevant, your honour dr.tariq ramadan
I think brother Dr. Tariq Ramadan has done an excellent job by -An International call for Moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic World.
I don’t think there is a FULLY Islamic government that exists in any part of the world today. Even in Saudi Arabia (which chlaims to be an Islamic State), Hudud is only applied to the poor and the helpless. The rich class and the king family enjoys this world to its fullest by rebelling to all Islamic laws and oppressing women and the lower class. As Dr. Tariq pointed out, this is injustice done in the name of Islaam.
IT’S TIME THAT WE SPEAK OUT against the oppressive regimes of the Muslim (not Islamic) countries and settle whether we want to establish Shariah or not. Also, Dr. Tariq rightfully said that Hudud can not be applied to a locality where dictatorship and Monarchy exists. If to be applied, it needs to establish a FULLY Islamic State (which is impossible due to the money hungers and corrupted leaders)and have Islamic Court System that will try it’s best to make judgements based on the context of the crime (as done by Prophet, Peace be upon him).
On that note, I want to point out a Hadeeth in Sahih Muslim, in which (paraphrasing) a man came to Prophet (SAW) and was asking for death penalty for the crime (adultery) that he committed. On the process, due to the acknowledgement of the crime done by the offender, Prophet (SAW) didn’t even inquire further into details. Then when the man told Prophet (SAW) everything in details, he (SAW) let him go and said he couldn’t punish him since the person had already repented to Allah (SWT). In my opinion, Shariah can still be applied today if understood in the right context without being biased towards one of the parties (in a case).
Also, most of the Muslims misunderstand « Shariah » as Corporal Punishment and forget that it also means Justice. The main purpose of Shariah is to establish Justice (as commanded by Allah) and not to do injustice (to the principles of Shariah) in the process of being Just.
I hope the leaders of the Muslim world and the respected scholars of all the methodologies (of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal Jam’ah) would seriously think about this issue and decide whether Hudud can be applied without having a Just State. It’s not about making an alternative to Hudud rather making sure that it is applied in the right place in the right context.
I congratulate Dr. Tariq for such an insightful opinion and may Allah help him to work for the Muslim community. Let’s not be hypocrites here and denounce the truth pointed out by Dr. Tariq Ramadan rather we need to find a solution to this crisis (misunderstanding or having misconceptions about Shariah and not applying it rightfully).
Jazakallahu Khairn for your patience in reding my commentary and if you think I’ve said something wrong please feel free to write me at [email protected].
-> Tanvir Ahmed
excellent! how do you suggest that we can help though…muslims in the west?
Can anyone please point to the source that states Umar ibn Al-Khatab imposed the moratorium the article points to?
Assalaamu Alaikum, Dear Br. Tariq
I congratulate you on your courage to deal with the issue in a frank manner. Of course, the western media will have a field day with headlines such as the Globe and Mail’s (Canada) »The injustice of Islamic justice ». But that is beyond the point.
I have a few questions on your methodology:
1. There is an explicit acknowledgement that hudud laws are being applied in a manner that is not consistent with the maqaasid of the Shariah. However, you have not given detailed examples of how widespread this is (case studies; country profiles, local communities’ reactions to huddud laws etc.)
2. What mechanism have you put in place for an informed debate on the subject among the Ulama, and for a genuine consensus (if such a thing is at all possible)? Obviously, public internet forums may not be the best place for this, as some Ulama’ may want to use it to react (as is already done) without studying the questions in depth.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Assalamoalaikum wa Rahmatu(A)llahe wabarakatohoo Al-Hamdoli(A)llahe wa Nahmadohoo wa nusalle ala Rasoolehil Kareem, ‘amma B’ad,
I would like to express my appreciation and a deep sense of gratitude to Brother Tariq Ramadan. The first thing that came to mind was « why did’nt I think of it! » May Allah grant that the Muslim Umma raises its voice in support of what appears to be a very sensible and timely call for reform from within the Umma. The Holy Quran has instructed Muslims in the following words Ta’awanoo ‘alal birre wattaqwa. and wala ta’awanoo ‘alal ithme wal udvan Even before the Holy Prophet (salAllaho alaihe wasallam) was commissioned by God Almighty with the Messengership, he always joined in with anyone who was doing good. His joining the Pact of Fudool (hulful fudool) is a well-known fact of his blessed Seerat.
Throughout history Muslims have been blaming their woes on other people (especially the « West »). It is high time that we undetook some introspection and tried to correct our own ways. In the Friday Sermon, the Imam often recites the Prophet’s Sermon in the following words Ibadu(A)llahe Rahmakumu(A)llah InnaAllah y’amoro bil ‘adle walIhsane wa Eetaaul Qurba. Yanha anil fahshaae wal Munkare wal baghye
« O Servants of Allah, may Allah’s Mercy be upon you. Surely Allah enjoins you to act with Justice and with Benevolence and as close relatives to one another. The result will be that your societies will be cleansed of all Shamelessness fahsha and unpleasantness and rebellion and hurt ».
Unfortunately, for the most part and for the majority of the Muslims of the world these words fall on deaf ears. The wind of change is, however blowing and hopefully, change is unstoppable. I would, however, like to sound a cautionary note at this stage: The present call for a Moratorium should not be converted into a call for « Changing the Sharia » as some quarters have suggested. The Holy Quran and its commandments cannot be abrogated or cancelled. The Sharia is and always will be open to interpretation by the Ulema. And by Ulema, I do’nt mean only the religious shcolars. I mean that there should be close interaction between the Knowledgeable Ulema and the experts in fields of science, Medicine, technology and other disciplines of knowledge and other sciences, such as sociology, ethics, anthropology and philosophy etc.
May Allah enable the Mulsims to find their true place in the modern day world without compromising the basic tenets of their faith. Ameen.
Please forgive my ignorance as a non-Muslim, but I want to engage in this debate because it seems so important to what I and other non-Muslims may think about Islam. I respect the view that the Holy Qur’an is a text for all time which cannot be changed. But for those who can’t read Arabic there is a problem, in that there is considerable variation in meaning between the different English translations. Not only that, but there is the issue of context. From the context of surah 5, verse 38, it appears that verses 38-40 refer to divine punishment rather than human justice. Also, in the Arabic, is verse 38 really about cutting the hands of thieves or is there a possible interpretation that it is about tying or immobilisng their hands ? (c.f. M.A.S. Abdel Haleem’s note to surah 111, which refers to the insult `Tabbak yadak’ – may your hands be tied).
Please accept this contribution in the frame of inquiry and dialogue in which it is intended.
I wonder if anyone got back to you?
This is what Hamza Yusuf says about theives and the punishment:
Jazak Allahu Khairan for this call. thank you for posing it in words that are well thought out and not resorting to ridicule and mockery like PMU people do.
we need to talk to people’s hearts and souls, and you did just that.
Globe and Mail : Letters to the Editor March 31st, page A14, March 31st.
Tariq Ramadan`s inspiring call for a moratorium on corporal punishment and the death penalty in the Muslim world proves that, in naming him one of the most important thinkers of the 21st century, Time magazine sold him short (Stop in the Name of Humanity-March 30). He is, in the deepest sense of the word, a leader.
I am not a Muslim, and Mr. Ramadan`s ideas do not make me want to join the fold. His wisdom, courage and heart had an effect more important and more rare. They made me proud to be human.
In the face of all we do wrong, it is those like Tariq Ramadan and Romeo Dallaire who convince me that our survival on the planet is not only possible, but worthwhile.
I am student from the London school of Economics and Political Science who has firm interest for the issue of Sharia Law. I agree that the Islamic world sends contradictory messages on the application of Sharia. This law is not practised, as it should be, rather it has become a tool for political uses on both sides of the world.
The Islamic world has been trying to experiment various political, social and economic systems that has nothing to do with Islamic thinking. Maybe, we are over-looking this matter. This state of affair cannot be put at the door of Islamic text or orthodoxy, since Islamic institutions and traditions have been marginalized for the most of last century. These conditions have allowed selective use of the Sharia and this why we are witnessing contradictory messages from the Islamic World.
In your article you have stated that we must condemn such repressive application, which are carried out without due legal process. I do not agree the main thrust of this argument. It is true that the application of such law should be seen to be just and coherent. However, condemning the use of this practise would question the functioning basis of Islam since this practise is integral part of the religion.
For me, the question that arises from here is, what should replace the application of sharia?
Any other alternative that exist such as secular values or democratic systems has its drawbacks when addressing the issue of social control, justice and legitimisation because, inevitability is human beings who devising and applying such laws.
By comparison, if we compare the level of crime and fear of crime in both worlds, you would find that the Muslim world does better on this particular issue. My point here is that, once used justly and coherently I believe the Sharia Law can be a useful deterrent against social ills.
As human beings we are accountable and responsible for our actions. Sometimes we deviate and as result there must be some form of control influenced by religion or political means. Can there ever be a universal value accepted by everyone? In relation to the topic in hand, I believe not. The critical point here is that each society or civilisation has the right to choose whatever particular root they wished to take in controlling their societies, providing that such actions are accountable and equally applied.
What is fascinating about human history is that every dominant ideology or empire has tried to suppress or silent any alternatives to their systems of practice. This is why the issue of Sharia is controversial between the West and the Islamic world. Further more, such struggles for ideas, universality or righteousness are debated fiercely in intellectual and political context, contributing to the same aim of dismantling other alternatives.
As young social scientist myself, I believe human beings whether they are intellectuals or politicians are influenced largely by where they live and how their conscience, way of life or behaviour relate to their environment of living. These factors contribute to how someone may determine what is right for him or her and with slight success he or she may feel this is the right formula for societies to function on and therefore other societies should follow suit.
This is a complex world, but what is clear from my understanding of political history or human history is that the better and quicker the Islamic world finds or retrieves its rich history calmly in political or system terms, the better for both civilisationsWest and Islamic world. I make this remark because such struggle for ideas or righteousness for the past century has not served any good purpose for enhancing the understanding for both sets of worlds. The quicker Western governments or academics understand this, the better for all.
With West favoring Petro-Monarchies and it’s Petro-Dollars that finance and influence unjust practices in poor countries; thanks to West’s addiction to oil they finance Wahabism with its extreme interpretations.
The international community has an equally major and obvious responsibility to be involved in addressing the question in the Economic world. All denunciations have been selective and calculated for the protection of their geo strategic and economic interests.
A poor country, in Africa or Asia, trying to apply injustice will face the mobilization of international campaigns. This is not the case with rich countries like Saudi Arabia, the petro-monarchies and those considered “allies”.
Towards the latter, denunciations are made reluctantly, or not at all, despite ongoing and acknowledged applications of these penalties typically carried out against the poorest or weakest segments of society.
Excellent article-even if only the site administrator reads this-I think what you wrote takes a lot of gutts; Muslims like to float around issues; they rarely discuss what matters. I’m on the University of Ottawa and Carleton University Muslim email lists and you should see the debates. I got into an argument with my brother in-law but like I figured; a lot of people havn’t even read the article (it was sort of dull-like a term paper; research type). Once all the media hype is over; your family and the Muslim community is what’s left. The way I see it, is your screwed because you can’t please everybody. I’m sure you know what your doing but be gentle with your children.
best of luck-oh, I figure the best way to reduce this tension in the Muslim community is to have a thick Arabic accent and use the terms « brothers » and « sisters » in Islam alot. It’s funny how people are comparing you to the woman leading friday prayer. Acctually it’s not funny, it’s a bit scary; because we just love labeling-it’s totally not logical. Atleast people are talking.
Globe and Mail
Letter to the Editor
March 30, 2005
Tariq Ramadan`s thoughtful, humane call for a moratorium on corporal punishment and the death penalty is a breath of fresh air for the Muslim Community. His scholarly perspective on the issue allows us the opportunity to express dissenting views which maintaining our respect for our religion.
L. Jamal, Toronto
Can anyone please point to the source that states Umar ibn Al-Khatab imposed the moratorium the article points to?
Tariq Ramadan has aptly proven that he his truly the brother of Dr. Aminah Wadud.
Please explain how Dr. Ramadan can be compared to Amina Wudud ?
She was asked:
« Quote: « (Q) With regard to women, is there a gender bias against women inherent in Islamic law, or Sharia, as is perceived in the West? »
« (A) From my perspective, Sharia is thoroughly patriarchal. … You cannot legislate with regard to the well-being of women without women as agents of their own definition. And Sharia was not concerned with that construction. Sharia was happy to legislate for women, even to define what is the proper role of women, and to do so without women as participants. So obviously that is a major flaw. And the only way for that aspect of Sharia to be corrected would be a radical reform in the way in which it is thought. »
So his saying: « it is our moral obligation and religious responsibility to demand for the immediate suspension of the application of the hudûd »
because, as he calls the human imperfect practice of the divine perfect order, injustice:
« All injustices made legal in the name of Islam must stop immediately. »
« In the interval, there can be no justification for applying penalties that sanction legal approximations and injustices such as is the case today. »
Both Dr. Amina Wadud, and Tariq Ramadan use references to religious texts and ideas by which they claim religious texts and or ideas should be halted or changed.
Most importantly in this case, is Tariq Ramadans premise that every where you go, scholars say it is not possible to practice the hudood.
And perhaps me calling it a premise is giving it too much credit, since the books of Islamic law are full of the when and how, regarding the hudood, similar to the when and how of Friday prayer, similar to the when and how of the `Id and other congregational prayers, similar to the when and how of the Hajj pilgrimage, etc., and none of these are conditioned with the absence of injustice. And they are justified in spite of the absence of what a human mind would dictate to be « justice. »
The mere fact that humans are unjust is mentinoed again and again in the Quran, along with references to the hudood. Because humans are unjust, the hudood was prescribed, for if they were not unjust, what, pray tell, would be the reason for it?
Dr. Ramadan lays out his assessment and reasons for this call: namely that while the hudud are textually based, their interpretations are diverse, conditions of applications are stringent, and current applications are unfair in the socio-political context of todays Muslim world. He explicitly states that Sharia is a path to faithfulness/a way of life of which the hudud are but the limits or boundaries. He re-affirms his faithfulness to Shari’a and his respect for hudud not only by accepting their textual bases, but by demanding adherence to the objectives/intentions behind them; in other words being faithful not just to letter of the law but to spirit of the law as well. Dr. Ramadan outlines his arguments and calls NOT for disregarding the application of Sharia, as some of his detractors claim, but for BETTER application of the Hudud aspect of Sharia. And until we can meet the strict conditions of application, he asks that we suspend the application of Hudud (not the entirety of Sharia). He asks that we spare a limb, a body, a life until we get our act together. He makes this call as a Muslim, known to be practicing and who had deep discussions with other scholars for years about this matter.
So it is baffling to read all the criticism of this call. One need not agree with every thing in this call, but no one really presents substantial arguments grounded in critical reading of this paper. The criticisms for the most part are but emotional knee jerk reaction that attribute sinister motives to Dr. Ramadans call: he is posturing to appease the West; like Amina Wadud he is just another sell out progressive Muslims; he is a Western Muslim influenced by his environment and is naively unaware of how much it shapes his thought and views of what is right or wrong. Others, read this call as betrayal of the sources; he condemns that laws of Allah; he wants to substitute man made secular laws for the divine laws; he does not understand the Sharia; he does not understand that it is the societies that are the problem; hudud law is only applied in a handful of Muslim countries so this is the not the most pressing issues facing Islam; Islam is under attack from the outside and Mr. Ramadan joins those armies attacking it from within. And last, but not least, some say if this call were to be made it had to come from the Scholars of the Muslim world not from some young-western-influenced Muslim thinker and diya, i.e. not quite a « real scholar.
Anyone who reads Tariq Ramadans books, listens to his tapes and attends his lectures should know this call is NOT about or for the WEST. Had he wanted to appease the West, he would have flat out condemned the hudud in front of millions of viewers of French TV last year, and in his speeches and meetings and he would have been made into the darling of the West. Instead, he firmly said he will NOT condemn hudud, but calls for moratorium until better application.
Those who follow the news would know he is under attack from the secularist who are bent on discrediting him because of his religious adherence, his stance for Palestinian rights and against the war in Iraq. These detractors lobbied to prevent him from entering the US to start his teaching job, lobby to cancel his lectures events in Europe, and have created a Tariq Ramadan publishing industry where anyone with PC can write a book demonizing him. He could have appeased them time and again and would have done well for himself in his career and life. But he did not and would not! For Muslims to then accuse this man of posturing to appease the West is not only untrue, it a grave injustice! It hands victory to those who want to discredit him and any Muslim who is faithful to Islam and is not willing to white wash it. Dr. Ramadan is not progressive Muslim who want to produce Islam light, a fast food style have it your way Islam. He is firmly grounded in the traditions of Islam read his books youll know!
To those who argue he is condemning the laws of Allah », I say READ the call for what it says not what you think it says. He is condemning the oppressive application of the hudud (not the hudud themselves) in todays Muslim societies where justice is but a slogan for the masses and the privilege of the elite. So he is calling for reforming the societies to be ready for the proper application of hudud. To apply the hudud without reform gives the leadership an excuse to not to deal with issues and is like puting the cart before the horse.
The worst of the criticisms against this call come from those who claim just because few Muslim countries apply Sharia, then it is not a pressing issue and since Islam is under attack we should not be self-critical. To those Id say: Are you willing to sacrifice even 100 people a year for the Ummahs low self-esteem, because we see Islam is criticized, because we ourselves are partly responsible by our actions? What if the accused were your sister, son, father, or yourself and have no access to competent defense? what if you or they were unjustly accused? Would you say, let me/them be killed/stoned/beaten because the hudud have to be applied, because Islam is under attack I seriously doubt that. But when you are not the one suffering injustice, it seems alright to be silent to stand on ceremonies and adhere to the « formal ».
To those who demean Dr. Ramadans scholarly credentials, Adab-el-Ikhtilaf (ethics of disagreement) in Islam demands humility and respect for the other. As-shafii, may Allah be pleased with him, said to those he disagreed with: our opinion is right with the possibility of being wrong, and yours is wrong with the possibility of being right…that aught to be our model.
Those who belittle Dr. Ramadan’s contribution because he is Western Muslim and who purport that authority and authenticity comes only from the East, we say that Islam is merit not tribal based. Their argument is no different than those who in historical Islam who would have argued that a good Muslim scholar had to be an Arab and who would discredited non-Arab Muslim luminaries without whom our Islamic heritage and civilization would have been poor for it.
There are over 20millions of us in the West, and we are as good Muslims as any in the East and sometimes we are more committed because one values more that which is not all surrounding and too familiar. Do Not underestimate our contribution and faithfulness to Islam! We are the ones whose daily lives are endless struggles to claim and bear witness to the essence of Islam to people suspicious of us and often hostile toward us. We make no apologize for the message of Islam. But we must be self-critical and honest, not to appease our western fellow citizens, but because it is demanded by our faith (to be just even against your own self). We, therefore, acknowledge that though Islam is perfect a religion, Muslims are not and neither is the human interpretation of the divine message. Like any being we are influenced by where we live, but we are not determined by it! To argue that our critical stance towards some issues and our demand for reform of our societies and for revisiting some of our relgious understanding means we are joining the chorus of Islam bashers is not only dishonest and unfair, it is more importantly a copout! A way to avoid dealing with the real and difficult problems the best defense is an offense argument.
This call is a reasonable and sincere attempt to help us better live up to the message of Islam. May Allah protect br. Tariq and reward him for his attempt to wake us up; he did his part, are we doing ours? What well be our answer on the day of judgment when are asked: what did you do when you had an opportunity to save a life, to change your society, to mend the world. I often wonder, what would our Prophet (pbuh) say today about our condition? Would he say: we must stick to formalities of our religion but not its spirit? would he say the hudud are only misapplied in few countries so let it be? Would he agree that we maintain the socio-political and economic injustices in our Muslim societies because any attempt to fix these problems would make it appear that we accept the criticism of the West? What would he think of us? what does Allah think of us? Is it not possible that the conditions of our societies and the apparent attack on our faith are a reflection of the pitiful states of our hearts and minds should we not change that which is within us for Allah to change our conditions .let each man and woman do his/her part and his/her best and Allah knows all and knows best.
Submitted to the Toronto Star:
Letter to the Editor:
A Moratorium on Debate and Dialogue.
Your article, published in the Toronto Star on Thursday March 31st, which interviewed key members of the Canadian Muslim Community concerning Dr. Tariq Ramadan`s Call for an International moratorium in the Muslim world on the application of hudud laws, the penalties linked to the application of the Islamic penal code reminded me of the childhood game Hot Potato.
Instead of responding directly to the Call, some of these leaders preferred to either maintain their victim mentality or completely deflect the question. One wonders if they even took the time to read entire 9 page call.
Their comments suggest that they would have more readily prefered A Moratorium on a reasonable, reasoned and critical intra-community debate and dialogue.
Can we, as Canadian Muslims hide behind such general statements: This is not the right time? When will it ever be the right time to think of those poor and innocent souls who are unjustly punished and killed ?
We hope that our Islamic Scholars, community leaders and ordinary Canadian Muslims heed Dr. Ramadan`s call and make their voices heard for the immediate cessation of the application of hudûd laws in the Muslim world and begin a dialogue on this issue.
Now is the time to move out of this binary mentality and reactive identity that defines itself to everything which is against the West. This debate has nothing to do with the West. It is a question that needs to be taken on within our own references.
I really appreciate this call and I completely agree with you Mr.Ramadan.
Ready to support your ideas..
thank you very much.
I have just one question about this moratorium. It seems like whenever there is a call for a debate on a subject, there always seems to be a pre-expected outcome that is intended to come about. For example, a debate on slavery may be called by someone with the intention of abolishing it. Shaikh Ramadan, just an honest question, is it your intention that the debate results in the abolishment of the penalities? May be you have answered this question in the article, but I am just a simple person. I have great, great respect to you so I don’t mean this to be an attack or anything like that on you.
Please can I recall my earlier post and replace it with this one. I now realise I may have misquoted Dr. Ceric in my first post.
Dear Administrator, Please will you put up text formatting and other instructions in English as well ?
Also, Dear Administrator,
Please will you let site visitors know there is an online petition regarding the moratorium so they could sign it too ? I know it’s on the Links somewhere but it’s not so easy to find.
I support your Call.
Many have been the times when I felt that my existence in this world is completely worthless ; I was weak and plagued by doubt but since becoming familiar with your writing, my Iman has increased, Alhamdulillah. Perhaps too much reading of Sartre & co. did my head in.
You are an unrivalled leader, a thinker, a statesman, a writer, a teacher, an activist, a scholar, intellectual, a HERO…
I recently read somewhere that the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Dr. Mustafa Ceric, thinks that European Muslims could be instrumental in the future direction of Islam and, that we British Muslims could play a big part in this -I certainly hope so, we are dynamic, motivated, inspired and, in continuous dialogue with our fellow citizens and political leaders. We, the British people, are also famous the world over for formulating standards, which then get adopted to become global standards.
Dr. Ceric thinks that British Muslims are more emancipated than other European Muslims and know where we stand within the British society. This is what he had to say :
ISLAM AND THE WEST Early Baghdad thinkers developed Greek learning Islamic Spain re-introduced ideas to Europe European Muslims export ideas back East ?
I agree and support Dr. Ceric, Prof. Ramadan, and all other leaders of similar vision who aim to translate lofty ideals into a living reality by being both thinkers and grassroots level activists. I pray that our Ulama in the East will take our ideas seriously, beginning with the Professor’s CALL.
May the Almighty God guide you.Amin.
I think your call for a moratorium is brave, amazing and revolutionary. No one doubts you sincerity and commitment to Islam. Your critics are baffled by how to respond to you- trying to discredit your credentials, qualifications, making you a fundamentalist’ or wishy-washy progressive’ whatever works to dismiss you from the public sphere and the renaissance of Islam for the 21st century.
Continue the hard, brave route of active, ceaseless engagement. Know that for every vociferous critic you have a hundred active supporters. You have the gift of giving articulation to the feeling that is sweeping the muslim world, the unsaid hopes and griefs of a people trying to maintain fidelity to the Islamic message. By giving voice to the voiceless, the powerless, the disenfranchised minorities which are affected by the unjust application of these laws you are true muslim for contemporary times.
Islam is about a delicate balance between the rights of the individual and the state, society, justice, spirituality, mental and emotional discipline. It not just this power hungry state apparatus devoid of feeling, of humanity.
In reducing islam to a penal code, these people are doing a grave disservice to Islam- the spirit, the SOUL.
I think people are getting ahead of themselves. The potentialities of islam in a post modern society- the work on that is still to come. We need intelligent, highly educated people who don’t see a just Islamic state through the appearance of things- stonings and chadors but a comprehensive system based on JUSTICE. The elusive nature of this term may not appease literalists but life is not black and white and neither should laws be. The complexity of the application of the Islamic law system though the ages, its morphing abilities, ijtihad’, the rules of exclusion and evidence, procedural fairness attests to that. The new generation of thinkers, lawyers, students can thrash out a beautiful new reality for Islamic law, society and governance- one that is based on justice and equity. Not east, nor west but universal.
I think there is nothing wrong in what you are doing Mr. Ramadan, because our Caliph Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) did a moratorium in the past, and why can’t we do it now, especially when there are so much injustices. What you are doing, I think, is in accordance with Traditional Orthodox Sunni Islaam.
Umar(ra) instituted a moratorium because of a famine that existed within the Ummah. Someone who is experiencing famine may possibly die as a cause of this and we are all aware that Islam permits those things which are not allowed in the case where some ones life is at stake .e.g. permission to eat pork if one is dying from starvation and no other food is available
With respect to the hudud there is no excuse for a moratorium from the Islamic context. A person that has fornicated does not act in this way because of an absolute necessity to preserve their life. Nor is it the case that the societal conditions within the Islamic world promote this kind of behaviour. In fact it is the western ‘civilisation’ that promotes such behaviour in all walks of their life and we as Muslims should seek to kerb their influence within our communities.
A fornicator is a fornicator be they a peasant or a prince and Allah(swt) commands us to punish the one who commits this act and how to do it. We cannot dismiss His(swt) order because in our current situation we witness that the prince will avoid the punishment because of his links with the establishment wheras the peasant will face it. The injustice here is not that the peasant is punished, rather this is part of the justice of Allah(swt). The injustice is that the kings and princes and the tyrant rulers are getting away from the punishment that is decreed upon them by Allah(swt).
Ultimately a moratarium on the hudud will mean that we will be adding further to the injustice by refusing to apply the penal system ordained by Allah(swt). The hudud is not the problem but it is the miapplication and misappropiation by those in authority. Although you may insist on this moratarium I hope that you and I can agree that the hudud implemented by the prophet(saw) and the rightly guided khalifhs after him are the best examples of justice on this world and also that when Alah(swt) returns to authority, those who believe in islam and do rightesous work that they implement and promote the hudud along with the rest of the teachings of islam within the muslim world and beyond.
assalamu alaykum Dear br.Tariq and may Allah be with your sincere efforts. I heard you recently and have read your message; and I find logic in the stance regarding the relationship between text and context. Myself and my colleagues at http://www.studying-islam.org and http://www.monthly-renaissance.com fully support your paper which has already been added to the site for further propagation; you will find these sites struggling for the same Cause. This stance on stoning to death has been given by Imam amin Islahi in 80s and 90s which was unfortunately strongly opposed by the scholars of the time.Amin [email protected] was a student of Imam Farahi, a brilliant and modern Muslim Scholar of his time i.e. early 20th century. http://www.amin-ahsan-islahi.org/?=3
Assalamualaikum Shaikh Ramadan,
I have read your article regarding your call for a moratorium in the application of the hudud. As you mention, there is passive acknowledgement among the ulama that hudud are almost never applicable in the context of contemporary conditions and I therefore agree for the need of a debate to talk about the things you mentioned. The only point I’d like clarification on is your methodology in establishing this debate. You mentioned, first and foremost, a need for a moratorium in order to begin to conduct the debate in serenity and you cited the precedent of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab at the time of famine with respect to thieves. I would like to ask whether this precedent is sufficient. In other words is there some sort of consensus of scholars on your methodology and, more specifically, with regards to your call for a moratorium as a means to starting a debate.
Furthermore, were you the first to suggest such a methodology (since I would have thought that other likeminded intellectuals would have independently or collectively come to the same decision)?
If your answers are in the affirmative on at least one of the above counts then, in my humble opinion, this will give some definite intellectual credibility to your call, since there must be a body of scholars who are not emotionally inhibited from a clear intellectual contribution to the subject (possibly those in the West!) and the existence of a consensus of such scholars supporting your call will undoubtedly add considerable weight to your call and I feel justify it from an Islamic standpoint, beyond a purely unilateral and unsupported call.
Your reply on this matter would be most appreciated.
Beware of those in whom the will to punish is strong.
Dead Woman Walking
By Shelina Merani,
posted by Mohammad, London.
In the last scene of the film Dead Man Walking, Matthew Poncelet (played by Sean Penn), is about to be executed with a lethal injection. Sister Helen Prejean, his spiritual adviser (played by Susanne Sarandon), quietly watches the last moments of his life.
She delicately raises her hand against the glass-enclosed partition and comforts him with a sense of dignity and humanity. There is a moment of resignation as the criminal walks towards his execution. The film touches on universal themes of revenge and redemption, crime and punishment, and fear and salvation.
I recalled this scene on a gloomy Friday afternoon, July 16th 1999, while in Saudi Arabia. It was our family’s last stop before completing our Umra or minor pilgrimage. Our taxi driver, taking us to the mosque for the Friday prayer, stopped in front of a public square and insisted that we didn’t want to miss this action.
What we saw next would affect me for the rest of my life.
A barefoot, cuffed, manacled and blindfolded woman was being led from a van to the middle of the square. Uniformed officials nudged her to kneel down.
Her name and crime were read out aloud: Aisha Sa’adah Qasim. Drug smuggling. She was Nigerian, as I later learnt from the Amnesty International website. Dead woman walking.
There was a surreal moment of frozen silence. The sword gleamed against the bright blue sky. With one mighty swing, the executioner severed Aisha’s head and sent it flying two or three feet away. Blood sprayed from the severed arteries and veins, swooping into the air like a fountain. The crowd started to clap. The dead woman walking was no more.
I had a flashback to Sister Helen Prejean and her hand slowly giving comfort to Matthew Poncelet. Unfortunately, poor Aisha had none of that humanity, dignity or comfort during her last moments. Garbage bags were brought to put her head in. Garbage bags! This was what her life had been worth. So hard to see, harder to forget.
What I had witnessed was an example of the hudud punishments (the Islamic penal code) or, more precisely, the Saudi government’s application of this code.
A day has not gone by that I do not think of Aisha. At that moment, I made a personal commitment to understand why Aisha had been killed and to ensure that her death was not in vain.
My answer came on March 30th, 2005 when the Islamic activist scholar, Professor Tariq Ramadan, issued An International Call for a Moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic World.’ In it he called for an “immediate moratorium” in Muslim-majority countries on the application of these hudud punishments prescribed in Shari’a law.
His reasoning for this bold action was that “a moratorium would impose and allow a basic debate to unfold in serenity, without using it as an excuse to manipulate Islam. All injustices made legal in the name of Islam must stop immediately.”
The reaction from the Muslim world, though predictable, was disconcerting. Many Muslims viewed the Call as, once again, that of another Muslim scholar switching sides and becoming a Westerner in Muslim dress.’
Emotional reactions or complete silence ensued.
Organizations, supposedly advocating for the rights of Muslims, had nothing to say on Professor Ramadan’s Call. Some decried the fact that it would create an opportunity for the “enemies of Islam” to attack again. Or that it would pit Muslims against one another. Others stated that it was not a priority.
If people had even bothered to read the Call, they would have at least understood this much – it is calling for a moratorium while an internal dialogue takes place and it has nothing to do with the pacifying the west, it is not denying the texts dealing with hudud punishments, it is not against the Islamic teachings and the Shari’ a but in the integrity of their name.
The only Islamic leader who seriously engaged in a scholarly dialogue was the Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa. Other scholars issued emotional, non-scholarly responses or were dismissive of Professor Ramadan. These types of reactions undermine the process of reform and dialogue so greatly needed in the Muslim world.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Call being put out, the issue of hudud punishments is still one area that urgently requires the collective Muslim attention.
In a total betrayal of the Islamic message of justice, many Muslim majority countries, in the name of hudud (which is but a small part of Shari’ a), are implementing repressive policies and injustices (from corporal punishments to death penalties) in the name of Islam. And who are the first victims of this application: women, the poor and political opponents.
How can we tolerate such injustices in the name of Islam if we are saying that the Shari’a is about social justice? Isn’t it our responsibility to speak out and represent the voices of the voiceless who live under these repressive policies?
Islamic scholars and socially engaged Muslims must recognize that, far from pitting people against each other, an internal debate and an intra-community dialogue is urgent and necessary.
Silence is just not going to suffice anymore.
If Muslim religious leaders are not going to stand up and defend the integrity of the Shari’a then it is going to have to come from the grassroots. On that day, when we are before our Creator and asked what we did about our poor brothers and sisters who were punished and killed in the name of Islam, what are we going to say?
Being faithful to the notion of Shari’a today means to speak out when it is implemented wrongly or used as a means of instrumentalizing Islam.
With Aisha’s image haunting me, I signed the on-line petition initiated by Muslim Presence Canada entitled “In the name of Islamic Justice” supporting Professor Ramadan’s Call but was shocked to see in the list of top 10 petitions, vying for number two spot was a petition created by a Muslim group. And what were they fighting for? To internationally recognize the Halal trademark that guarantees a product complies with the Islamic Sacred Law (the Shari’a).
They already had 24, 8554 signatories. I hope we, Muslims, realize that a human life is just as kosher.
(Shelina Merani is a community activist and spokesperson for the network Muslim Presence Canada. For Muslims who want to sign the petition In the name of Islamic Justice, go to: http://www.petitiononline.com/PMC001/petition.html )
Posted by Mohammad, London.
This article first appear at http://www.hiiraan.org/2005/apr/somali_news05_2.htm
The Author is Hassan S. Shirwa
Plz go on the URL where a picture of the criminal acts in the name of islam or islamic jurisprudence is displayed.
Welcome to Hiiraan Online, today is Friday, May 26, 2006
Saudi State Executed 6 Somalis Outside The Law
A Typical Weekly Beheading In Saudi Arabia (Photo: Saudi Insitute)
The Saudi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia brutally slaughtered like sheep six young Somali men without due process of law in the port city of Jeddah last Friday of April first 2005. The Interior ministry said that the Somalis were caught while in the process of robbery and piracy in which they wanted to seize a Taxi but the Saudi government had failed to produce any hard evidence in this regard or allow the young Somali men to have access to legal representation.
It is not clear what legal procedures or justice system the Saudis had applied because in accordance with Islam, you cannot kill people without due process of law and you cannot certainly execute people on unproven and dubious grounds. In the cases of robbery etc, the death penalty does not apply on Islamic jurisprudence. So it will be interesting to know what justice systems the Saudi state had applied to finish off the young Somalis.
Somalis at home and around the globe were saddened and dismayed by the cruel and heartless action taken by the Saudi state against 6 Somali men who were virtually refugees in Saudi Arabia.
To conclude, the Saudi state must give believable explanations as to why they executed the 6 Somali youths without fair and open trial. Similarly, the Saudis must alter their aggressive and merciless policies against the Somali people who happen to be in their country for whatever reason otherwise relations between the two peoples and nations will be severely damaged. This does not mean that the law should be overlooked but the manner in which the Saudi police and the security apparatus behave and deal with foreigners is most barbaric, uncivilised and utterly inhumane to say the least.
If I were the president of Somalia, I would have severed all relations with the Saudi government until they apologised and changed their bad treatments against the Somali people. The Saudis must understand the values of human dignity, the importance of God given life and the sacrosanct of God’s justice.
Hassan S. Shirwa
E-mail: [email protected]
Full support! No imposition of hudud – especially in certain countries particularly known for imposing it unjustly – until there is a proper moratorium on a way forward. How is it just and Islamic for a raped woman to be stoned to death while her rapist walks free? It is better to let go a guilty person to be judged by Allah than to punish an innocent person by unjust application of law.
Declaration on the death penalty drafted by the EU on Italy’s initiative introduced at the UN General Assembly
A declaration on the death penalty drafted on Italy’s initiative by the European Union and signed by 85 UN Members Countries, was introduced at the UN General Assembly yesterday evening. The positive import of this European initiative lies not only in the number of countries that signed the declaration, which is a highly valuable political and civil instrument, but above all in having submitting to the attention of the General Assembly the issues of the abolition of the death penalty and of the introduction of a moratorium on executions.
Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Gianni Vernetti underscored that the Italian government’s efforts, in keeping with the intentions expressed by our Parliament, was a determining factor in the introduction of the declaration and in garnering so many signatures, well beyond the number of co-sponsors for the resolution on the death penalty introduced by the European Union during the regular session of the former UN Human Rights Commission. Thanks to our efforts and the support of our European partners, the foundation has now been laid for future initiatives in the next UN General Assembly. The European Union’s involvement has substantially increased the possibility that the initiative will be successful, which would have been much less foreseeable if the project were to have been presented by an individual member alone.
As Undersecretary Vernetti pointed out, « Italy, has always played a leading role in the international campaign for the abolition of the death penalty. This initial positive result will allow us to launch an even more significant campaign on national and European level, hopefully making it possible to create the conditions under which the next General Assembly is able approve a resolution on a universal moratorium on the death penalty ».
When are we Muslim going to realize that we cannot rule our lives by norms fifteenth centuries old? When are we going to stop pretending that we had everything that’s good – human rights, women’s rights, democracy (shura) – before the West? When are we going to put Islam where it belongs, in each person’s individual conscience, instead of trying to impose it on other people?
Estimado señor Ramadan,
es conmovedora su iniciativa y sus propuestas. La moratoria para eliminar los castigos corporales y la pena de muerte en los paises musulmanes es n aroma de esperanza sobre todo porque viene de usted como musulman y conocedor de lo que se trata. Sin embargo, creo como mujer musulmana que el los intentos de cambio chocarán siempre y hasta claudicarán sin antes germinar, mientras la fuente de nuestra jurisprudencia en general sea el Coran.
Una musulmana de España
We Muslims are fortunate to have people like professor Tariq Ramadan and his team – those suscribe to thoughts similar that of his.
During early 1930s, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal (Allama)wrote « A Reconstruction of Islamic Thought »(urging on the revival of ijtehad), and earlier Judge Syed Amir Ali wrote a masterpiece on Islam, « The Spirit of Islam ».
Why we Muslims are on receiving end today? Perhaps because we did not understand the Prophet (May peace be upon Him)that, « the hand that gives is better than the one which receives »!
Shariah – Hadud!! The Muslim laws (Shariah) have developed over three stages. The first stage was during the life of the Holy Prophet and four righteous Caliphs [620 to 656]. The second period was during the time of Ummayads, Abbasids and others who ruled over most of Asia, Africa and part of Europe when most of the so-called Caliphs were in fact ruling like emperors and they least bothered about Islam in temporal matters. The third stage was during and after the post-colonial era when the Europeans subjugated most of the Muslim countries.
During the third stage, the Islamic scholars diverged further and most of them were victims of apologetic thinking that resulted from the peculiar circumstances that were during the colonial rule. Prejudicial translations of the Holy Quran and the works of Muslim religious scholars by the orientalists, done with an aim of tarnishing Islam to mitigate the burden of history rather than understanding Islam, widened the ideological gaps between Islam and the West, particularly the Christians. The apologetic Muslim scholars failed in researching original Islamic sources for applying the true Islamic teachings to the emerging realities of life.
Recently, I have recommended to a student of War Course at the National University of Defence, Washington, to include a recommendation in his thesis »
« The U.S. can technologically enable Muslims and the global public in understanding the true teachings of Islam; half hearted and biased research efforts targeted at making Muslims look apologetic(Militant Ideology Atlas, 2006: http://www.ctc.usma.edu/atlas/Atlas-ExecutiveReport.pdf) have not delivered anything thus far and will not in the future.
Instead, technological and financial support to eminent Muslim scholars can help in defeating Al-Qaeda by ideological means and also for promting tolerance and co-existence amongst the Christians and Muslims who together constitute around 54 per cent of the world population. »
Unless thinking of the Muslims is allowed to flourish on the true Islamic teachings and the hold of the mis-focused ULEMA is broken, Islam and the Muslim will remain subjugated – mentally, reliously and politically.
I hope Pofessor Tariq and his team can re-orient the thinking Muslims to creat space for themseleves in anywhere in the world by opting for ‘giving’ – the top quality of a true Muslim is give out even in adversity and never ask anyone other than Allah for favours.
May Allah bless us all Muslims and guide non-Muslims at least to benefit from the egalitarian way of life Islam shos to humanity.
We are unlucky to have this nutter. Can’t you realize the pain of death? Stoning is a death you give to a mad dog. You are sick and this man who has writtenj this artcile needs psychological treatment.
Death is a game for Islam.
Hiuman life is just a joke for you. A rapist or adulterous are crminals but not as big as murderers.
How can anyone discuss whether things like stoning, corporal unishment and death penalty are wrong? I don’t mind the fact that people are religious but when their faith makes them, even for a second, believe such inhumane doings could be the right way, I get a strong urge to become an atheist right now. I live in a largely christian, albeit secular, country and my best mate is a muslim, but that doesn’t mean he respects human rights less than I do.
Religion is fine, if it can help you through life, but when it makes people infringe human rights I find it disturbing.
In the Name of Allah Who is Infinite Compassion and Love
Assalamu Alaykum and Ramadan Kareem! May Allah Almighty the loving and merciful bless all of you, filling your heart, mind and body with divine love and peace.
The Holy Quran starts with the words « Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim » ~ In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
There is a the verse from the Holy Bible John 7:53-8:11 King James Version) which is as follows:
And every man went unto his own house. 8:1 Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Mahatma Gandhi has rightly said: « An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind »
Is stoning defined in Shariah, is it a compulsory punishment… stoning to death… OMG
Salaam, I support your call for a moratorium. I believe the solution to this problem is the revival of mu’tazilism, an early Islamic form of rationalism which placed reason above revelation, and tended towards highly figurative interpretations of the Qur’an. There is no reason why Quranic verses such as « cut the hand of the thief » couldn’t be interpreted to mean, for example « disable the hand » (e.g. by imprisonment). The Mu’tazili school is still alive and well within the Zaidi math-hab of Islam (a moderate math-hab representing the middle ground between sunnism and shi-ites). Both the Zaidi math-hab and Mu’tazili school need to be revived and publicized. I have started a blog about Zaidism for this purpose at blogspot. I wish you well with the moratorium, May Allah bless your efforts.
In all honesty, if someone didn’t persevere through the whole of this article down to the comments, or only heard the call for ceasing of the punishments in your ‘rethinking islamic reform’ lecture, it isn’t apparently clear how you are not arguing against something which is clearly stated in the Qur’aan.
You call it injustice and opression, but should really be more explicit with what you consider unjust- I’m guessing that’s the unequal and flawed implementation of the punishments. Otherwise, it sounds very much like you are arguing the Qur’an is unjust in stipulating the ruling, which then understandably will offend/antagonise Muslims, who consider it the very word of God.
By calling for this (temporary) moratorium, are you saying that should an real/ideal state be established, the law should once again apply? Because it seems that the majority of people who agree with you doing so under the impression it will become permanantly stopped. This needs to be clarified.
Are you a human being??? Do you have a little sense of pain? Adultery is not as big a crime that you treat a person like a mad dog.
I thought you were a bit normal Muslim. But unfortunately you are worse than the others.
Peace be on the Followers of Guidance,
While Professor Ramadan makes a valid and insightful point regarding the unjust application of penal laws (which is not restricted to just hudud, this is the case with all penal systems) does this imply that one should abandon all systems of punishment since they are not applied justly and fairly? Does one reject the perfection of Divine Law because of misapplication?
Or rather should the callers to reform urge people and their leaders to properly understand the aims and objectives of such law, and then apply them in their appropriate contexts and fulfilling their proper conditions?
I would submit that an appropriate analogy would be that of prayer; if there are those who do not perform ablutions properly or facing the direction of prayer, shall we urge them to abandon prayer all together?
Rather, we see that neither the Western penal system, nor that of other societies has been able to remedy societal ills and put an end to corruption.
As believers in Islam, it is upon us to be the moral voice to the world, and remind them that it is ultimately God’s wisdom, and not human attempts at rational justification, that will bring about true happiness on both mundane and spiritual levels.
I totally agree with prof ThariQ Ramazan’s arguments: unconditional justice is core principle of Islamic law: yet, literalists and some extremists Salafi groups do not understand this type of arguments: they do not understand Islamic law in social contexts. current legal systems of Most Muslim countries are greatly influenced by corrupted political thugs and most of them are not elected by democratic or Islamic ways of election in any sense: Most of so called our Ulamas are influenced by these political thugs and good ones are marginalized: The entire our political,legal and social systems are in dare need of changes: poor and feeble Muslims are being killed in the name of Islam without any proper and professional investigation in the name of Hudud and application of shariah laws: what striking me most is that we do not have enough voice among our modern Islamic scholarship to speak about this injustice within our societies in the name of Islam: It is really institutional bullying of public by so called Islamic countries: at least prof Thariq Ramazan has got some courage and denomination to speak about this injustice: it would be a great injustice for Islam and Muslims if we do not talk about this silent injustice in our communities: It is with a collaboration some of Salafi extremists Ulama and our politicians that these types of injustice is done: what can we do: we need to educate our people about this injustice at all levels: we may need some solid strategies: (long term and sort terms) to educate our people about this issue: our first and foremost obstacle in this project of reforming and educating our people about this capital punishment issues would be that of our Salafi groups: so, how do we deal with growing Salafi thought and influence: it is with them all these unwanted and unjust
social customs and tradition creep to our ummah: it is very shame and dangerous that these types of issues get religious dimensions: These people believe that they are applying and implementing Islamic legal laws but irony is that they are acting against he every notion of Islamic justice as stipulated by the Quran: Moreover, this give more bad impression about Islamic teachings of peace, justice and love: Islam is portrayed as a religion of cruelty and barbarism by these so called Muslims: We all should rally behind prof Thariq in his effort to reform Islamic punishment systems in Muslim world;
I hope this moratorium is adopted and that it leads to a permanent ban on such punishments. Just because the punishments are « traditional » does not make them necessary. They tend to brutalize the punishers and the onlookers, so the harm is not only done to the punished.
the law of allah it better then the law of human
Fundamentally, Tariq Ramadan’s position is flawed and I am truly surprised at the praises poured on his preposterous presentation. There exists a yardstick for us to analyse whether or not what Tariq has rendered is substantial or not. Sheikh Saleh Fowzan, a member of the Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta has reviewed a book titled ‘Sharhis Sunnah’. In one of the pages, the author answered some of the raging issues in Tariq’s piece. He says ‘when you come across any speech or da’awa from someone of your generation, you must not rush into accepting it until you make an enquiry and open your eyes – has any of the righteous companions made such a fatwa. This is because Islam does not change with the changes in time. We do not need any moratorium. Anybody who feels the time has come for Muslims to look the other way in terms of Sharia is a hypocrite. Just because Tariq is a Professor in Islamic Studies, it does not mean he has the capacity to make fatwa in Islam.
A few weeks back a Sri Lankan house maid aged 17years 0ld was beheaded in Saudi Arabia convicted for smothering and killing a four months old baby. No postmortem was done to establish the cause of death, the punishment was based on a confession made to a Malayalam(Language) speaking Translater, even though, the victim, spoke only Tamil(Language). Later, when she was offered a Tamil translater she denied the smothering.
She was not given any legal representation. No attempt was made to establish her age at the time of the alleged crime.
There is hardly any laws to protect foreign laborers from developing countries, while developed countries protect their citizens through bilateral agreements.
As the author pointed out this selective application of law
in primitive manner, and meting out corporal punishments is not Islamic Justice.
A note on hadith : We can NEVER be a hundred procent sure that a hadith is right or false. It has been pointed out that even those provided with isnaads can be false, and all shariah school apply at least one or more rules based on hadith they themselves acknowledgde to be ‘dafi’, meaning ‘very weak evidence’.
Therefore I believe we should examine the hadiths closely and critically. On the subject of stoning, weird that the prophet would do such a thing – while the Quran says different on the crime of adultery AND whilst the prophet forgave a woman of the streets just because she gave water to a cat. Contradictory, no ?
The Quraan is my first guide, since you can never be sure of the hadith. Also, as many hermeneutics (like for example Freidrich Schleiermacher – he was a very smart man on the matter) have pointed out – the Bible, the Quran and other religious/historical texts are to be viewed as a WHOLE corpus, not verse per verse (some verses refer to other verses, etc).
AND, most of the verses in the text comment upon things happening in the very beginning of islamic history – it is most of the time not possible to implement them litteraly. You can either take the Quraan literally, or seriously. Combining the two is not possible, you simply can’t take the holy text serious if you apply every single verse literally without considering other Quranic verses and without tafsir (exegesis).
For example, when the Quraan talks about the killing of female infants, and of what a big crime that is, such a grieveous sin, one might think : ‘But, is that such a big problem nowadays? AND, one shouldn’t be told that killing your female infants is wrong to know it’s wrong !’ But back then (very beginning of Islamic history) it WAS a problem, and the heathens killed their female infants. Also, because the Quran talks about female infants only, does this mean it is OK to kill boys ? NO ! We are in desperate need of people who can apply tafsir correctly. I hope I made my point. Salaam.
Dr. Tariq Ramadan,
I know you wrote this Moratorium long ago, but I still want to add my two-cents just in case you and others read this message and take it into consideration. I agree that there should be a moratorium until there is formal discussion, debate, and conclusion from the ulama and I hope that such a debate will result in the most just and compassionate interpretation which still remains authentic to Islam. However, I find that your statements sew in a subtle bias and I have some concerns to voice.
It is true that in some areas, stoning and amputation is carried out without trial and in discriminatory fashions – overall in unjust manners which defy Islamic values. This is definitely reason for deep concern and for a suspension of corporal punishments. However, aside from that, what does it mean when you say the reestablishment of appropriate conditions for the implementation of hudood are impossible? (And doesn’t this show that you’ve already come to a conclusive decision about the issue before the proposed debate can even take place?) What are these extremely strict conditions you speak of? What is this context you speak of? It’s as if Muslims are acting like the time of the Prophet and Rashidun Caliphs was picture-perfect and ready-made for the easy implementation of these corporal but deterrent laws. We’re also (anachronistically) acting like there was some sort of perfectly organized, elaborate and fully matured system of law and governance in 7th century Arabia which set society in perfect motion for harsh laws. The fact of the matter is that these corporal punishments were carried out by the founding fathers of Islam, with Islamic justification, during very messy and premature times – and times when the legislative, juridical organization and the science of the modern era (yes, even of the Middle East) did not exist at all. Remember, there were no formal courts in those days in the sense that we have now, there were no street cameras or cameras inside buildings, there were no organized police stations, there was no DNA testing, etc.
Let’s look at stoning, for example. I think it’s misleading for us to keep repeating that 4 witnesses must have seen the actual organ penetrate the woman, because although that’s true in general, it is not the only possible case. An accused adulterer/adulteress could simply be questioned about his/her crime (and in fact there are hadiths showing that this happened) and then stoned if he/she admits to the crime. Stoning could also take place by evidence of child bearing. Stoning could also take place by voluntary testimony. None of this is conceptually limited to the 7th-8th century.
How is it possible that the 7th century dessert of Arabia, in all of its uncertainty, tribalism, lack of formal legislative organizations and courts, relatively general poverty, etc., provided appropriate conditions for the implementation of things like stoning and flagellation, but later and other societies don’t? Conceptually speaking, why would modern times make stoning wrong unless we admit that our moral standards have changed? There is no conceptually rational explanation that can be derived from Islamic sources alone for us to say that stoning a man/woman is wrong today but not in the 7th century. Who can deny that one of the maqasid of hudood IS to actually *punish* crimes, which is why things like stoning and lashing DID take place during the Prophet’s time? If the point of stoning, for instance, was simply death as capital punishment, the Prophet and Companions would have simply beheaded adulterers. If the point was simply to deter, then the ultimate severity of the punishment would never have been actualized. If the point was simply to make criminals suffer the realization of their heinous crime, perhaps they would have been stoned but not to death, then detained for a time and subsequently released. The fact of the matter is, therefore, that a hadd such as stoning doesn’t have only the one purpose of being a social deterrent; and the fact of the matter is that the modern day is not in any less dire need of deterrents against adultery. An interesting question to ponder about theft, for instance: why isn’t the punishment for theft flogging, like that of drinking wine? If God wanted, He could have said that the « first time you catch a thief, then flog him. The second time, cut his hand. » But no, all we need is accusation and testimony, or two witnesses, with a few other simple conditions, and then you’re set. Cutting off the hand is much more severe than flogging, because one is permanent disfigurement and the other is temporary pain. The point is not just determent, but very, very, very severe determent (for both the criminal and society), and possibly humiliation, and then punishment.
In other words, what’s really driving most of us to say that corporal punishment is no longer appropriate for « these times » is our altered sense of morality: in the modern, post-enlightenment, post-reformation, globalized, and widely secularized world, we now feel, deep down inside, that such punishments are WRONG. We don’t accept such punishments because we consider them needlessly cruel and inhumane. And let’s face it, we have problems reconciling our religious faith with that reality. We have problems accepting that there are a handful of punishments in our religion that are very, very harsh. In fact, we have problems accepting that they are actual punishments and not only deterrents. There is nothing except religion which would justify a modern person accepting such cruel punishments. And let’s get real – we really do consider them cruel, even if we can’t admit it. Our inner selves are denying an Islamically sanctioned moral stance, and using Islamic terms to do so. We humans are fascinatingly clever, aren’t we?
Anyway, I would really, truly like to see further open discussion and debate on this issue – something that is genuine, rational, and honest. Let’s be honest with ourselves.
You cant deny the sharia, it doesnt matter how hard you try it. the source of the sharia is pretty clear, the quran and sunnah.