Reactions to the moratorium throughout the world
The 1st response to Islamonline.net comment
Response to Dr Ahmad ar-Rawi
Dear Dr Ahmad ar-Rawî,
Salam alaykum wa rahmatulLahi wa barakatuHu
I read you commentary on the Call and I must say I was surprised and disappointed by the tone and, at times, the content of the remarks you made in your capacity as president of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe.
You are reported to have rejected my “justifying” the “call as a means of combating the vile campaigns that aim at distorting Islam in the West”; such rejection is unnecessary since no where in the call or in my public or private discussion have ever made the claims attributed to me. So how did you reach such a conclusion? This Call is a reflection from within and has nothing to do with the West or the desire to beautify Islam in the Westerners’ sight. Instead of supposing my having bad intentions it would have been better, perhaps, to read the text carefully and to respond clearly to my questions and proposals. Is not “husn an-dhan” (to suppose good intention to one’s brother or sister) a sine qua non condition to start a dialogue among Muslims?
To associate this Call with what happened recently in the States or in Holland – as to the question related to the relationship between women and the mosque or the imâma – is unfair and unacceptable. What is the link? Are they all bida’ (innovations)? Should this Call be considered as a bid’a? It would have been better if you came back to the meaning and the fields within which the ulama use this concept (bid’a) and explain how you justify describing this Call in such a way.
You add: “Where on earth are such hudud applicable?” and further “They are not implemented in all Muslim countries and there are some reservations on the application of these hudud in Saudi Arabia.” I do not know if we are looking at the same world but to minimize the facts in such a way is once again intellectually not acceptable: the corporal punishments, the death penalty (directly or indirectly justified by Islam) are daily practices throughout the Islamic world. A woman was stoned two days ago in Afghanistan. Are these details?
You say: “I respect Tariq Ramadan as a Muslim thinker and caller, but I deem him far above tackling thorny issues of this kind” and so I “should have consulted specialized scholars and jurists before launching his call through the media.”
I am not going to respond on the personal level as I assume that you have no idea as to my Islamic education for the last 20 years, its content and my professors and teachers. The essential point here remains, if you come back to the Call you will find it addressing the ulamâ’ and in it I request that they engage in a debate at every levels and in a profound way. This is consistent with what I have saying for the last five years.
Finally, I want to add three remarks:
I have been asked four times to be a member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research as I was invited to attend the first constitutive meeting of the International Association of Muslim Scholars. I have chosen not to be directly involved but I have followed and always respected the work done. In 2000, during a two months lectures trip in the United States, I proposed to the leaders of MAS (in Washington), to think about having three or four scholars based in America involved in the already set European Council as the topics discussed are similar : I am happy to see that this is the case today. I have written the foreword and the commentaries of the first volume of Fatawa published in French. This is to say that I respect the work done even though I have some reservations about the notion of “fiqh of minorities”. On the question of hudûd, the Council’s position is that, since Muslim monitories do not have to apply the hudûd, then this matter should not concern us. So why do you want me to direct this question especially to the European Council as the Council itself sees it as beyond its competence (even though I deeply disagree with this understanding)? It is an international question and it concerns in priority the Muslim world: this is the meaning of my approach.
The “fiqh of minorities” constantly refers to the two notions of “hâja” (need) and “darûra” (necessity). One can understand why, even though, humbly, I think that we are reaching some excesses. Nevertheless, I pose this question: how can we evaluate the attitude of the Turkish government which, to be able to integrate the European Union, has accepted to abolish the death penalty. Here is a majority Muslim country… is this an acceptable “political darûra”? Is it a decision against the “will of Allah”? Is it a bid’a? How is it that the ulamâ’ and the leaders have been so silent on that question?
Necessity (darûra) is very often put forward in order to ease the way for the Muslims living in difficult environment. Is it not possible to refer to the state of darûra to avoid people being treated or killed unfairly? Should we not, in the name of darûra, and because the basic conditions of justice are not gathered, suspend the application of punishments and irreversible sanctions as we all know that today they are a plain betrayal of the Islamic teachings. Is the notion of darûra only referred to help the Muslims to adapt themselves to the requirements of an unjust world but not to allow them to stop the injustices perpetrated in the name of Islam?
These are the questions, in addition to those of the Call, that I hope one day our ulamâ’ are going to tackle in shâ’ Allah. It is not because I live in Switzerland that what is going on in the Islamic world is not of my concern: one cannot refer to the glorious “ummah” to inspire the Muslims with the greatness of Islam and hide behind one’s national preoccupations in order to avoid facing up to the injustices done in our name at the international level. After September, 11 we all have strongly and clearly condemned terrorism under the pressure of the circumstances and the media: today, we must condemn the betrayals of our message under the only pressure of our faith and conscience. Even though nobody (or no media) speaks about it… in fact especially if nobody speaks bout it!
Wa Allahu a’lam wa a’lâ wa ahkam
The 2nd response to Islamonline.net comment
Response to Dr Taha Jabir al-‘Alawani
Dear respected Dr Taha Jabir al-‘Alawani,
Salam ‘alaykum wa rahmatulLahi wa barakatuHu
First I want to thank you for commenting on The Call for a Moratorium.
I must say I was surprised, if not shocked, by the title “Unacceptable Allegations” and the leading paragraph of your commentary “Fabricating lies against the Muslim nation is unacceptable…” Where in my Call did you find “allegations”, these “lies against the Muslim nation”? You neither cite examples of these allegations nor present refutation.
You add: “So, any trial to separate us and Shari`ah means that there is a plot to efface our identity, culture, and tradition. There is not a believer, believing in Allah, His Messenger and the Last Day, who can support such a plot or claim that we Muslims are in no longer need of Shari`ah.” Once again, where in this paper did you see statements that led to your assertion? In fact, and quite the opposite, this Call clearly argues that it is urgent to reconcile ourselves with the true meaning of the sharî’a by reforming our practices. This is the message in the Call, and in all my books and papers.
You go on to say: “There is a common misconception among some people as regards the comprehensive meaning of Shari`ah -that includes acts of worship, dealings, and morals, and penalties. This made some people, due to their ignorance, refer to Shari`ah as penalties or penal law. This is, in fact, a very limited perception that shows their lack of understanding of both fiqh and Shari`ah.” Reading your words I am stunned by the implication that I lack understanding of the basic definition of Shar’ia and I am left wondering if you really took the time to read carefully the text of this Call which explicitly points to the problem of reducing the Shar’ia to penal code. Your remarks seem unrelated to the text.
I can not but disagree with your argument that “Today, we live in a world where Shari`ah is almost not applied. Even those few states and governments that declare their application and adoption of Shari`ah neither apply nor execute any of its penalties. Shari`ah is a whole, unique entity that cannot be divided.” The few known (many less known) cases of stoning, the corporal punishments inflicted on the poor Pakistani and Filipino workers in the petromonarchies without legal recourse, and the unjust executions (those directly applied in the name of Islam and others tacitly accepted as sanctioned by Islam because death penalty is understood not to be against the Islamic references), are they not applications that betray the Islamic principles of justice? Can your formula “almost not applied” justify their suffering and our silence?
Your reference to the controversy of women’s imama does not pertain to this Call’s objective or the arguments it presents and I do not see the link you are attempting to make between these two subjects, except possibly one that evoking an emotional reaction.
You argue that I should have directed my questions to the ‘ulamâ’ and the scholars, I have done exactly that for the past five years and it is precisely what I am doing by this Call. You contend that I do not have the credentials to respond to the questions, fine, but you should at least recognize my right to ask and the humble legitimacy of the following questions posed by the Call:
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?
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 ?
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?
So far, except two or three comments from ulamâ’, I do not see any serious response to these questions. Some have dismissed The Call by misinterpreting its meaning or responded by avoiding the subject all together or simply made broad and emotional statements. My intention is to initiate a debate. So, is there anyone among the ulamâ’ who is ready to stand up, to speak up, and to seriously commit to engaging in a critical and honest debate instead of dismissing this entire matter because this call is “coming from the West” or is an attempt to “destroy Islam”?
Finally, you advice me to “study the current state of the Muslim nation side by side with Shari`ah, to point out the deficiencies that should be worked on to apply Shari`ah”. I have done and continue to do that. My assessment is detailed in many of my writings and my book Islam, The West and The Challenges of Modernity (1995) is an in-depth study and analysis of the contemporary Muslim majority societies and their socio-political dynamics. One of the important deficiencies I brought to the fore is this reduction of sharî’a to the penal code and the necessity to reform our understanding and to condemn the implementations that betray our message. It is this on going reflection that has driven me to formulate the content of the present Call.
I remain hopeful that, in shâ’a ar-Rahmân, we can debate its exact content. These are serious and essential questions for the one who, as you wrote, does not want to destroy Islam.
May Allah love us and guide us.
The 3rd response to Islamonline.net comment
Response to Dr Muzzamil Siddiqi
Salam ‘alaykum wa rahmatulLahi wa barakatuhu.
I thank you for taking the time to comment on “The Call for a moratorium”
I, of course, find nothing objectionable in the first section of your response where you outline the classical principles that constitute the Shar’ia. In my book, Western Muslims and The Future of Islam, I recall these elements as well and define “ash-Sharî’a” as “The Path towards faithfulness” within the scope of which comes the entire legal thought extracted from the Islamic scriptural sources.
As you mention, the penal code is but a small, yet important, field within “ash-Sharî’a” whose global objectives are the protection of religion (dîn), of the person’s integrity (nafs), of the intellect (‘aql), of the global family ties (nasl), of property (amwâl) and of the person’s dignity and honor (al-‘ird). At the collective level, the implementation of a well understood Sharî’a can only lead to the respect of justice, of the rights of the individuals and the people. You recalled it and we agree.
You recall as well how, today, the global message of Islam is misunderstood and wrongly implemented and that very often the hudûd are applied before taking care of the people’s rights (huqûq). We agree on that as well.
Having said that, how do we move forward? Is it sufficient to recall and to repeat that what we witness is not the right application of Islam? Should we be satisfied with just frequent pronouncement that the implementation “should be fairer”? Is it not time to say and to do more?
To this end, the call for a moratorium has at least three virtues:
To stop immediately the unjust acts perpetrated in the name of Islam. It is not acceptable to claim that these acts are rare or marginal. Be it directly in the name of Islam or because it is thought not to be against Islam, women and men, as well as political opponents, are chastised and executed within the Islamic world. It is not acceptable to denounce such practices only when the media is covering them. It is our responsibility as Muslims, inspired by the right understanding of the application of ash-Sharî’a, to ask for suspension of these punishments and for a vast debate regarding the meaning and the content of our faithfulness to the Islamic message in our contemporary world.
To open an in-depth debate that is no longer a reaction to individual events that happen in the Islamic world as we have witnessed it recently with the two stoning cases in Nigeria.
To dare to discuss the implementation of the hudûd that deal with borderline cases helps us to touch on a field revealing the very nature of the common intellectual attitude among the contemporary Muslims. Ulamâ’ and scholars affirm and repeat that “ Islam is not that…”, “Islam is misunderstood…” , “Islam is a global message…” At the same time we have become very timid in our condemnations of the instrumentalisation of our religion and we minimize the injustices done in our name.
Is it not time to condemn the injustices and to call for a suspension of theses formalistic applications that undermine the dignity of so many women and men and/or are irreversible? Is it not time to propose a reform project for the Muslim majority societies that is more coherent and consonant with our dignified Islamic message?
Our thought is broken down and we believe that we prove our faithfulness to the Islamic message by hanging on to slogans that maintain an evasive, reactive and uncreative mentality.
Yes indeed ash-Sharî’a is a Path to the global faithfulness within which we find the Laws and among which the penal code is an integral part. Yes indeed, we witness grave and unacceptable injustices every day and far from the media cameras…
I have been speaking about all that with ulamâ’ and scholars for the last five years. The great majority, if not all, agree that our message is being betrayed and that things should move… but as there is no “media noise” every one keeps silent and the injustices continue…
This seems to be our current intellectual state…this maybe our current spiritual and intellectual disease. This is not the way our Prophet (Peace be upon him) was acting and reforming…
In the name of these established facts, I humbly think that we should suspend these implementations and ask the ulamâ’ to provide us with a just, realistic and coherent vision of how we should deal with the hudûd in order to remain faithful to the universal message of Islam.
Wa Allahu a’lam, wa a’lâ, wa ahkam