Monday 30 June 2014

No discrimination between man and woman?

"Islam is the religion which gives woman highest level of priority in her life which she actually deserves. There is no discrimination of man and woman in Islam.

And their Lord responded to them, "Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. [3:195]

This verse clearly shows no discrimination between man and woman. But regretfully the leader of Islamic society who are known as scholars are contributing in such concepts which only oppress a woman from her real rights which is given by Allah and never be un-declared by Prophet Muhammad. 

Some Hadith source might show you women were oppressed like woman beating or slave sex concept where 1st wife would have to see her husband’s romance with slave without marriage or the polygamy concept where no special condition is necessary or the concept of wife can’t refuse her man’s call for intercourse in anyway (even she is sick too or passing in bad mode too) or women are source of fitna etc. Can you believe these are authentic hadith proclaimed by Prophet Muhammad? No other words beside Quran could be authentic in 100 %. These are all fabricated hadith where really a woman is oppressed!! After Prophet’s death People who were in support of woman oppression (as it is a law of society) mixed their own words with his noble words and made this hadith where a man is shown as superior to woman.

But if you really look in Quran word’s (direct translation of the verses) nowhere you will find such conditions. Allah says in verse 2:228 that man and woman have similar rights over them. 
What is less from man a woman is only the physical structure, woman are weaker than man. This weakness is only for the pleasure of carnal relationship between man and woman. For the strength of man which more than woman, Allah also gives the man more trials than us in the same verse “But the men have a degree over them, women” which means man are responsible for financial activity and also for giving their wives pleasure in every possible way and also they will be protector of their women in verse 4;34.

Now some Islamic website and scholars held their opinion basing on some fabricated hadith and by some wrong interpretation of quranic words in chance of woman persecution, that Polygamy can be practiced for lust only by offering it to a younger woman. Which is the wrong concept of islam they are delivering to people. Allah in Quran 4:3 told “With respect to marrying widows, if you are afraid of not being able to maintain justice with her children, marry another woman of your choice or two or three or four (who have no children). If you cannot maintain equality with more than one wife, marry only one or your slave-girl. This keeps you from acting against justice”. Where it is clear plural marriage can be practiced only then when a man will be able to sacrifice his boundless love for his 1st wife because of humanity to give protection another woman who is widow and has orphan child. If he can’t take care of her orphan child then he should marry that woman who has no child. Now, the possibility of childless woman only goes to a woman who is widow or divorced not a younger wife. Or he can marry his slaves (for giving her freedom). So, all of the points for polygamy are only for humanity, not for lust. And also about permission of 1st wife Allah clearly denotes in 4:19 not to make any difficulty in his wife’s life to those services which he can deliver her. The service is not only confined in mahr but also in love/sex/passion. Now if a man gets married 2nd time without 1st wife’s permission will not it create difficulty in her life? 

And also For loving 1st wife more than other wives whom they marry for humanity, they will not be accused in Allah’s eye as per the verse 4:129, only they need to serve them equally in other services except love which will only be for the 1st wife whom he married for love or sexual desire.

And also on slave sex which is proclaimed by Islamic mollahs are also a wrongful or lustful thought by contributing themselves in a belief man need more than 4 women in their life, so they are permitted to take infinite number of women in bed as concubines from slaves. This is the most hateful speech of them which conflict with quran. But in Quran verse 23:5-6 Allah told by noble word “right hand possess” to those female slaves who are attached to you wedlock or who are legally your wives from your slaves.
According to their thought Allah prepared beautiful hoor only for them, men in jannah as their lust is infinite or they are not satisfied with the number of women whom they get in duniya (including 4 wives and many concubines), But women will not get any hoor in jannah. Do u really think allah can discriminate in giving gifts to the believers (men and women) who will get jannah?? Or Allah can grow the attitude in man’s mind not to be chaste-full but to be lustful?
What actually quran says hoor is both for man and woman. Al-Ahzab verse 35,

“Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and he humble women, and the charitable men and the charitable women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember — Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.”
And also in quran 2:282 Allah told for adding 1 man with two women in case of financial witness. Here Allah doesn’t show woman are less intelligent/less dutiful. But here Allah told to guard those women from any danger by adding a man with them, from which they will not be able to protect as they are physically weaker than men. 
And also about the inheritance woman also have the right to get equal property as man in some circumstances too. 

And also about beating wife: Quran never uses word for beating wife. 

- Farhana Hossain (Bangladesh)"

Taken from Muslim Feminists page on Facebook  

For  full comment pls see

Thursday 26 June 2014

How can we stop honour killings?

 Farzana Parveen was killed on May 27 by relatives for marrying against her family's wishes [AFP]

Disturbing cases of extreme violence against women from around the world have come to the fore in the past few weeks. Farzana Parveen's murder in Pakistan highlighted the country's dismal record of women killed in so-called honour killings. According to the Pakistani Human Rights Commission, 869 women were murdered in 2013 in what were said to be "honour killings". 
Sensationalist media quickly picked up Parveen's story and blasted the familiar stereotypes and misrepresentations, sidelining a much-needed open discussion on misogyny. 

The so-called honour killings is one manifestation of violent and criminal practices against women that seem to persist in places such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and several other Muslim-majority countries. Some are quick to seek the causes of this deplorable act in religion, when in fact Islam stands clearly against it. Therefore, it is important to expose the faulty logic behind such accusations and openly discuss violence against women and honour killings in the context of Islam as well as in the context of perceived social norms of honour

Understanding the 'honour code'
It is important first to consider the concept of honour itself. Renowned philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah'sanalysis of honour and his idea of moral revolutions can be particularly useful in this case. His book The Honour Code explores the processes that ended three abominable practices related to honour: duelling in Britain, foot-binding in China and slavery in the British Empire. According to Appiah, what ended these practices "wasn't the moral arguments ..., it was the willingness to live by them."  

Islam and reshaping honour 
After drawing lessons from history, reshaping honour is what Appiah suggests as a way to successfully move forward in the ongoing battle against honour killings. 
In other words, those willing to eradicate honour killings should pursue a strategy of collective shaming: to shed light on how such cases are bad publicity for the country, and demand the government'saccountability for keeping Pakistan "a ship permanently poised on the verge of failure". 

Religion is also a key factor in campaigning against honour killings. For example, Islam plays a very important role in Pakistan, including it in its constitution. Therefore it is encouraging to hear a fatwa by the Pakistan Ulema Council, declaring "Killing one's daughter and humiliating them is a sign of ignorance."(However, as one critic put it, clerics need to be more vocal and consistent in opposing every form of bigotry.) 

In the battle for shifting perceptions of honour in those Muslim communities where it causes bloodshed, it is of fundamental importance to demonstrate the fact that Islam in no way condones honour killing. 

For example, there are two verses in the Quran - An-Nur and Maryam, which were revealed to defend the honour of Prophet Muhammad's wife, Ayesha and Prophet Isa's mother, Maryam respectively. In fact, Islamic laws regarding sexual morality teach us that God protects woman's honour, and that the Quran holds both men and women equally responsible for adultery. It is clear that the idea of violence against women to protect honour is in no way justice prescribed by the Quran, but instead stems from socially constructed notions of patriarchy. Therefore, Islam can help us against honour killing as a religion that protects women from violence and condemns those who hurt them. 
Appiah rightly points out that Islam is "an ally" in the fight against "honour killings", and offers us a proposal to consider: Shaming communities where this practice occurs for disgracing Muslim ideals instead. Given the Western media hysteria surrounding cases like Farzana's, it is not difficult to see how the actions of a few Muslims stain the perception of Islam by non-Muslims. 

In this regard, it is important to distinguish between an act that is "Islamic" and an act perpetrated by a Muslim. As Myriam Francois-Cerrah points out in her article on Islamophobia: "Although Pakistan is a Muslim majority country, to assume Islam is the central motivating factor in the behaviour of all Pakistanis, is a form of cultural racism."

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Islam's Way to End Violence Against Women? Civilized Men

For example, to teach respect for a woman's body, Islam stresses chastity -- but places the primary burden for chastity on men, not women. While clerics and priests today declare that women should "get married" or "dress more modestly" to avoid domestic violence, Prophet Muhammad held a different view. While encouraging marriage and modest dress for both genders, Prophet Muhammad significantly and as a foundation commanded men, "You be chaste yourselves, and women will be chaste." He commanded men to stop obsessing over how women behave and dress, and instead demanded men focus on self-reform and self-improvement. While the Qur'an admonishes women to dress modestly in the footsteps of Mary Mother of Jesus, it instead and first commands men to "cast down your eyes" and "not stare at women lustfully" -- no matter how a woman chooses to dress. A woman is responsible to herself and God to dress and act modestly, while a man is primarily obligated to women, to himself, and to God to treat women with respect and not gawk.

 Most notably, Islam's solution to stop violence against women is not a religious answer -- it is a secular answer. It obliges men to safeguard their chastity, treat women with equality, take ownership over their own behavior, and respect a woman's body and right to self-determination.

Violence against women will stop when men stop committing violence against women. I would like nothing more than my pro bono practice in domestic violence to become obsolete. But as long as we rationalize data to support the preconceived notion that woman are the root cause -- or a cause -- of violence against women, I'll unfortunately have more clients than I can handle.

For the sake of humanity, stop blaming women. In the meantime, I'll raise my two young sons with Prophet Muhammad's example -- that the key to stopping violence against women rests with civilized men and their personal ownership.

Monday 23 June 2014

International media ignore Israel’s abduction of Palestinian teens

In the first ten days of June, seventeen teenage boys were abducted in the occupied West Bank. The youngest was thirteen, the oldest seventeen.
Some were dragged at gunpoint from their homes and family in the middle of the night; others were seized from the streets in broad daylight.
All of the abductions were documented by the Palestinian Monitoring Group. None were reported by the international media. No Western politicians called for the release of the boys.
On 12 June, three more teenage boys went missing in the West Bank. Their disappearance sparked worldwide media coverage, cries of terrorism and demands for their release by the US Secretary of State and the UK Foreign Secretary.
Those three are Israeli. The seventeen others are Palestinian.
And, if the case of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, taken by Palestinian forces in Gaza in 2006 and released in 2011, is any indication, Western interest in the case of these three Israelis will not wane until they are found.

Thursday 19 June 2014

The Daughters of the PROPHET MOHAMMAD (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)


1 -  Hadhrat Zainab (Radhiyallaho anha):
She was the eldest daughter of the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   and was born in the fifth year of his first marriage, when he was thirty. She embraced Islam and was cousin married to her cousin Abul Aas bin Rabi. The story of her emigration to Madinah and her getting wounded by the Qureysh has already been given in the early part of this chapter. She suffered long from that wound, and at last died of in the beginning of 8 A. H, Her husband also embraced Islam later and joined her in Madinah. She had a son Ali (Radhiyallaho anho), and a daughter Amamah. Ali died during the lifetime of the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) . This same Ali (Radhiyallaho anho) was the person who sat with the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   on the camels back at the time of his triumphal entry into Mecca. We read frequently in Hadith about a little girl riding on the back of the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   as he prostrated in Salaat; this was Amamah, Zainab’s (Radhiyallaho anha) daughter. Amamah lived long after the death of the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) . Ali (Radhiyallaho anho) married her on the death of Fatima (Radhiyallaho anha) -his first wife. It is said that Fatima (Radhiyallaho anha) at the time of her death had expressed a desire for this union. She had no issue from Ali (Radhiyallaho anho). After Hadhrat Ali 's (Radhiyallaho anho) death she was again married to Hadhrat Mughirah bin Naful (Radhiyallaho anho), from whom she probably got one son named Yahya. She died in 50 A. H.
2 - Hadhrat Ruqayyah (Radhiyallaho anha):
She was born three years after the birth of Hadhrat Zainab (Radhiyallaho anha) when the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   was 33. She was married to Utbah, son of Abu Lahab, the Prophet Mohammad's (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   uncle, but had not yet started living with him when Soorah Al-Lahab was revealed. Abu Lahab called his sons Utbah and Utaibah (to whom Umme Kulsum, another daughter of the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   was married, and said to them:   “Unless you both divorce the daughters of Muhammed, I am not going to see your faces.”
They divorced their wives. Later, upon the fall of Mecca, Utbah embraced Islam. Hadhrat Ruqayyah (Radhiyallaho anha) after this divorce was married to Hadhrat Usman (Radhiyallaho anho). The couple emigrated to Abyssinia twice.

Since the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   had anounced to the Sahabah that he was expecting to recieve Allah's command for emigration to Madinah any time, they started shifting to Madinah even before the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) Hijrat. Hadhrat Usman (Radhiyallaho anho) and Hadhrat Ruqayyah (Radhiyallaho anha) had also emigrated to Madinah before the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   arrived in the town. At the time of Badr, Hadhrat Ruqayyah (Radhiyallaho anha) was ill (she died subsequently of this illness). Usman (Radhiyallaho anho) was, therefore, asked by the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   to stay in Madinah and look after her. The news about the victory in Badr was received in Madinah when people were returning from Ruqayyah’s (Radhiyallaho anha) funeral. The Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   was, therefore, not present at her burial. A son was born to Hadhrat Ruqayyah (Radhiyallaho anha) in Abyssinia. He was named Abdullah and survived his mother, but died in 4 A. H. when he was six years old.
3 - Hadhrat Umme Kulsum (Radhiyallaho anha):
She is the third daughter of the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) . She was married to Utaibah son of Abu Lahab, but had not yet started living with him when Utaibah divorced her after the revelation of Soorah Al-Lahab, as has already been mentioned. After divorcing her, Utaibah came to the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   and used most insolent words to him. The Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   cursed him by praying: “O, Allah! depute one of Thy dogs to punish him."
Abu Talib, who had also not embraced Islam, was alarmed at the curse and said to Utaibah: “You have no way out now." Once Utaibah was accompanying Abu Lahab in a caravan going to Syria. Abu Lahab, in spite of his disbelief, said to the people: “I am afraid of Muhammad's curse. Everybody should be very careful of my son."
They happened to camp at a place which was inhabited by lions. The people piled up all their luggage and Utaibah was made to sleep on top of the pile, while the rest of the people slept around the pile. A lion came at night; it smelt all the people sleeping round the pile. Then it jumped over the people and reached Utaibah. He gave out a shriek, but meanwhile the lion had severed his head from his body. It is very necessary that we avoid offending the people dear to Allah. The Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   has reported Allah as saying: “I give challenge of war to one who offends My friends.”
After the death of Hadhrat Ruqayyah (Radhiyallaho anha), Hadhrat Umme Kulsum (Radhiyallaho anha) was also married to Hadhrat 'Usman (Radhiyallaho anho) in Rabi-ul-Awwal, 3 A.H. The Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) said: “I have given Umme Kulsum in marriage to Usman by command."
She died issueless in Shaaban, 9 A. H. After her death, the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)  is reported to have remarked: “Even if I had one hundred daughters, I would have given all of them in marriage to 'Usman (one after the other), if each one had died."
4 - Hadhrat Fatimah (Radhiyallaho anha):
Hadhrat Fatimah (Radhiyallaho anha) the fourth and the youngest daughter of the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) , and the "head of the ladies in Paradise" was born in the 1st year of Nubuwwat, when he was 41. It is said that the name Fatimah (lit: safe from fire) was revealed by Allah. She was married to Ali (Radhiyallaho anho) in 2 A.H. and she began to live with him seven and a half months later. She was about fifteen and Ali was 21 at the time of their union. Of all the daughters, she was the most loved by the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) ; whenever he went out on a journey, she was the last one to part and when he returned home she was the first one to meet him. When Ali (Radhiyallaho anho) intended to marry Abu Jahal's daughter, she was very much grieved and expressed her grief to the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) . The Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   said to Hadhrat Ali (Radhiyallaho anho): "Fatimah is a part of my body. Whoever grieves her, grieves me."
Ali (Radhiyallaho anho) gave up the idea of the second marriage during her life time. After her death, he married her niece Amamah (Radhiyallaho anha). It was about six months after the death of the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   that Hadhrat Fatimah (Radhiyallaho anha) fell ill. One day she said to her maid:  "I want to take a bath. Arrange some water for me."
She took a bath and changed her clothes. She then desired her bed to be placed in the middle of the room. She laid herself down on the bedding, with her face towards Qiblah and her right hand under her right cheek, and said:
"I am now going to die."
The next moment she was no more. The Prophet Mohammad's (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam)   progeny continued and shall continue (inshallah) through her children. She had three sons and three daughters. Hadhrat Hasan (Radhiyallaho anho) and Hadhrat Hussain (Radhiyallaho anho) were born in the second and the third year after the marriage, respectively. Hadhrat Muhassan (Radhiyallaho anho), the third son, was born in 4 A.H., but died in childhood.

Ruqayyah, her first daughter, died in infancy and has therefore, not been mentioned much in history. Her second daughter Umme Kulsum was first married to Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaho anho), begetting one son Zaid and one daughter Hadhrat Ruqayyah (Radhiyallaho anha). On Hadhrat Umar’s (Radhiyallaho anho) death, Hadhrat Umme Kulsum (Radhiyallaho anha) was married to Aun bin Ja’far (Radhiyallaho anho), but had no issue from him. After his death, his brother Muhammad bin Ja’far (Radhiyallaho anho) married her. A daughter was born to them, who died in childhood. Even Muhammad (Radhiyallaho anho) died in her lifetime and she was again married to the third brother, Abdullah bin Ja’far (Radhiyallaho anho), from whom she had no issue. She died as Abdullah’s (Radhiyallaho anho) wife. Her son Zaid also died the same day, and both were carried for burial at the same time. Abdullah, “Aun and Muhammad (Radhiyallaho anho)  have already been mentioned as sons of Ja’far (Radhiyallaho anho) and nephews of Ali (Radhiyallaho anho).
Zainab, hadhrat Fatima’s (Radhiyallaho anha) third daughter, was married to Abdullah bin Ja’far and had two sons Abdullah and Aun from him. It was after her death that he married her sister Hadhrat Umme Kulsum (Radhiyallaho anha). Hadhrat Ali (Radhiyallaho anho) had many other childrem from his wives after Fatimah (Radhiyallaho anha). It is stated that he had as many as thirty-two issues. Hasan (Radhiyallaho anho) had fifteen sons and eight daughters, while Husain (Radhiyallaho anho) was the father of six sons and three daughters. 

Speech of Imam Khalid Latif when he was given the Alumni Distinguished Service Award at NYU 2014

I love this brother so much. SubhanAllah.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Does Islam really condemn converts to death?

What does the Quran say about apostasy?

The Quran warns apostates, except those who later repent, that a severe and painful punishment awaits them in the afterlife.They shall forever be the companions of hellfire, the holy book says.But nowhere in the Quran does God command earthly authorities to execute anyone who has converted from Islam.That omission is key, because the Quran says, “The Lord neglects nothing, nor does he forget.”

In other words, if God wanted apostates killed, he would have said so.

Instead, the Quran’s message is: The apostate is accountable to Allah in the hereafter, not to judges on Earth.As one passage says, “It is God who judges.”

What did Mohammed say about apostasy?

Unlike the Quran, there are conflicting stories and opinions about the prophet’s stance on apostasy. According to several sayings attributed to him in the Sunna, Mohammed did call for apostates to be killed. “He who changes his religion, kill him,” the prophet said, according to one hadith, or story about his life.

But other stories contradict that teaching. In the seventh century, for example, Mohammed, as leader of the growing Muslim community, brokered a truce with the Qurayshites, a competing religious tribe. In the Truce of Hudaybiyyah, Mohammed agreed that if any Qurayshite came to join the Muslim community, he would not accept them.

On the other hand, Muslims were permitted to join the Qurayshites, no questions asked, no executions threatened. Moreover, lots of Muslim coverts abandoned Islam during the prophet’s life, and he never sentenced one to death. The Sahih al-Bukhari, one of the most famous collections of Sunna, contains an illustrative example. A Bedouin man pledged allegiance to God and the prophet, only to later inform Mohammed that he wanted to cancel his pledge. After the prophet refused three times to accept his cancellation, the Bedouin simply moved to another town.

The prophet did not order his execution despite such clear and undisputed apostasy. And there are many other examples like this in the Muslim historical literature. The conflicting stories and lessons from Mohammed's life is one reason why the Sunna is not considered as authoritative a source of Islamic law as the Quran.


Tuesday 17 June 2014

Fasting is beneficial to the immune system: Study shows it triggers stem cell regeneration

Fasting as little as eight days a year could help bodies become healthier, according to new research from the University of Southern California. 
People undergoing chemotherapy treatment often suffer damage to their immune system, leading to additional health complications. Similar challenges are faced by the those experiencing autoimmune deficiencies and some seniors. These effects could be treated simply by not eating. 
Fasting two to four days at a time every six months causes stem cells to awake from their normal dormant state, and start regenerating. Researchers discovered this practice destroyed damaged and older cells, and caused new cells to be born, effectively renewing the immune system. This is the first time any natural intervention has ever been shown to trigger this self-renewal. 
In mice and humans, white blood cell counts were significantly lowered after long periods without food. These bodies are vital to the human immune system. But, when their numbers decline to a critical point, pathways for hematopoietic stem cells were switched on. These cells manage the immune system and generate new blood.
"When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged," Valter Longo of the USC Davis School of Gerontology, said
Going without food for 48 to 96 hours shifts human bodies to consume stores of fat, glucose (sugar), and ketones (created when fats are broken down for energy). Unhealthy white blood cells are also broken down, so that their components can be reused for the next generation of cells. This process is akin to recycling for the immune system. 
After a period of fasting, human immune systems generate new blood cells when nutrients start flowing back into the body. Researchers at USC wanted to know what drives body systems to rebuild the cells. 
Protein kinase A, an enzyme known to inhibit cell regeneration, was reduced in the systems of people who are fasting, the study found. Concentrations of a growth-factor hormone called IGF-1 were also lowered in those who have not eaten in days. That biochemical has been shown to promote the formation and growth of tumors, as well as the damaging effects of aging. 
"[I]f you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system," Longo said in a university press release. 
Study of the role of fasting in stem cell generation and human health was profiled in the journal Cell Stem Cell

Monday 16 June 2014

Hadith of the Day: Teach and Make Things Easy

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "God did not send me to be harsh, or cause harm, but He sent me to teach and make things easy." Sahih Muslim

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Islam: Easy Ways To Do Good Deeds in Your Everyday Life

This is a great video, I hear from lots of Muslims with various problems they think they are afflicted by black magic or nazar and become preoccupied and paranoid. My advice is simply to focus on doing good deeds, increasing your ibadah and actively making the world a better place inshaAllah.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Whose Sharia Is It? by Kecia Ali

It has been a lousy month for Islamic law.
First, there was the kidnapping and threatened sale of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram, which claimed religious acceptability for their acts. As Muslim theologian Jerusha Lamptey opined, this is not my sharia.
Then, the Sultan of Brunei’s horrific new penal code came into effect. Unlike the Nigerian girls, where a social media campaign garnered White House attention, the Brunei law gained visibility because the Sultan–who is dictating law that his track record suggests he does not observe–indirectly owns the famous Beverly Hills Hotel. Hollywood figures have objected to the rules, due to come into effect next year, which would punish proven male-male anal sex with death. (As far as I know, the code does not prescribe any particular punishment for lesbian acts, though the rhetoric has become that the new law prescribes “stoning gays and lesbians.”)
Claims like that of the Sultan or Boko Haram that “Islam” demands implementation of “sharia” ignore the complex reality in which there is not now nor has there ever been a uniform set of identifiable rules that Muslim scholars have agreed on much less that governments in Muslim majority countries have implemented over the centuries. As I wrote elsewhere, so-called sharia laws on the books in Brunei, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Morocco are not directly revealed by God. They are human products with human histories negotiated in human contexts. The pretense that these laws are straightforward implementations of God’s will not only serves to justify these otherwise unjustifiable rules but also feeds the demonization and dehumanization of Muslims. Though happening on two continents and perpetrated by two quite distinct sorts of actors – a multibillionaire monarch enmeshed in global capitalism and a militant anti-Western, anti-government insurgency – the Nigerian kidnapping and the Brunei law became exhibits A and B for the vilification of sharia.
And then I heard an NPR story about Sudan’s intended flogging and execution of Meriam Ibrahim for apostasy and illicit sex. My first response, as someone who writes and teaches about Islamic law and is committed to understanding it in all its historical complexity: how barbaric.
That was followed by resignation. Why bother to advocate for more sophisticated understandings of Islamic law? What is the use in pointing out that the claims of timelessness authenticity are groundless? So what if these versions of Islamic law are selective, partial, implemented by dictators with populist pretensions and monarchs with captive constituencies? They still apply it. And yes, it’s true that Americans generally aren’t interested in threats to Muslim lives or well-being or African lives or well-being except when there is a sensational story to be made (drone attacks don’t cut it). Doesn’t matter; this is still happening, and it’s wrong.
My “what’s the use?” phase shifted into the simmering anger phase once I began to think about why exactly this version of Islamic law holds sway. It’s patriarchy straight down the line.
The charge of apostasy is based on the claim that Ibrahim was born Muslim: her religion follows that of her (Muslim) father, who left her (Christian) mother when Ibrahim was young. She was apparently raised Christian. Patriarchy allows interreligious marriage between a Muslim man and a Christian woman, but not the reverse, and supports the presumption that the child’s religion follows that of its father.
The charge of illicit sex for which Ibrahim has been sentenced to lashes results from the court deeming her marriage to a Christian man void. Since she is considered Muslim (because of her father’s religion), and since, unlike the situation in her parents’ marriage, marriage between a Muslim woman and a Christian man cannot be valid, the court determined that she had sex outside of marriage. Her toddler, and the child growing in her belly, prove her offense. Score another one for patriarchy.
According to reports, Ibrahim’s case was brought to the attention of the authorities by some relatives (presumably Muslim ones) who objected to her marriage to a Christian. As far as the charge of illicit sex goes, a premodern court would almost certainly have applied the doubt rule: essentially, if there are anygrounds for exoneration – such as the fact that the woman thought her marriage was valid – avert the punishment. Apostasy, too, seems to have been seldom punished in practice, however strongly the rule was upheld in theory. One can make a case that as with Brunei’s new penal code or the Boko Haram kidnapping, the Sudanese verdict represents a modern and profoundly problematic view of Islamic law.
At the moment, though, I am less interested in insisting on the nuance and variability of traditional Islamic law and more on critiquing its powerful patriarchal presuppositions. However tempered they were in past practice by judicial clemency, they lay the ground for the charges against Ibrahim. Of course we need to remember that context matters: we will not understand these developments in Nigeria or Brunei or the Sudan without reference to national and global politics, economics, and – in the last case – individual family dynamics; Islamic law is only part of the picture. And yet it is a key piece of the picture. Rethinking Islamic law without questioning its basic presumptions about male dominance will not take us nearly far enough.
Whose sharia is this? It is certainly not mine. I cannot believe that it is God’s.
Kecia Ali, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University where she teaches a range of classes related to Islam. She writes on early Islamic law, women, ethics, and biography. Her books include Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence (2006)Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam (2010), Imam Shafi’i: Scholar and Saint (2011) and The Lives of Muhammad (due out this fall). She lives in the Boston area with her family.