Saturday, March 31, 2007


M. Zuhdi Jasser on record

Dear Zuhdi,

We appreciate Mr. Jusar Zuhdi for speaking up!

Thanks for the below listed video links from your interview with Arizona TV

  1. Islam is not a monolithic religion - Thanks for the assertion.

  2. Almost all Muslims & Organizations condemn terror, I wish you had emphasized that.

  3. Almost all Muslims want the separation of church and state, I wish you had mentioned that.

  4. I don't know any Mosques in the US and Canada that gives hate sermons now - wish you had stressed that point

  5. Only a few, just a handful of Muslims may support the move by CAIR, I do appreciate the civil rights work CAIR does, and take exception to this action of suing the passengers, it is indeed short-sighted. Let's all speak out strongly, so that it remains the voice of CAIR and not Muslims of America.
  6. We have to make it loud enough, and more of us need to do it. There will always be a handful of Muslims who will oppose it, and we need to respect their sentiments as a part of democratic process.

  7. I sincerely hope, the American Media expresses the Muslim sentiment on their air waves.

Mike Ghouse
Speak up, silent no more.
World Muslim Congress.
Good for Muslims and good for the world

In a message dated 3/31/2007 12:08:31 A.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:
Fox10 KSAZ's weekly news program- Newsmaker Sunday appears on the local Phoenix Fox affiliate- KSAZ. The following video links contain the full interview.

John Hook interviews M. Zuhdi Jasser in this 26 minute in-depth interview on Muslim Extrremism and issues related to Islam and the local Phoenix Muslim community since 9-11.

Muslim Extremism'- Part I -

Muslim Extremism' Part II -

Muslim Extremism' Part III -

Chilling effect feared over Muslims suing fellow passengers after removal

By Patrick Condon
Associated Press
Mar. 30, 2007 11:44 AM

MINNEAPOLIS - Six Muslim men removed from a plane last fall after being accused of suspicious behavior are suing not only the airline but the passengers who complained - a move some fear could discourage travelers from speaking up when they see something unusual.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed earlier this month, has so alarmed some lawyers that they are offering to defend the unnamed "John Doe" passengers free of charge. They say it is vital that the flying public be able to report suspicious behavior without fear of being dragged into court.

"When you drive up the road towards the airport, there's a big road sign that says, Report suspicious behavior,' " said Gerry Nolting, a Minneapolis lawyer. "There's no disclaimer that adds, But beware if you do that, you might get sued.' "

The six imams were taken off a Phoenix-bound US Airways flight on Nov. 20 while returning home from a conference of Islamic clerics in Minneapolis.

Other passengers had gotten nervous when the men were seen praying and chanting in Arabic as they waited to board. Some passengers also said that the men spoke of Saddam Hussein and cursed the United States; that they requested seat belt extenders with heavy buckles and stowed them under their seats; that they were moving about and conferring with each other during boarding; and that they sat separately in seats scattered through the cabin.

The plane was cleared for a security sweep, nothing was found, and the jet took off without the imams.

The Muslim clerics say they were humiliated, and are seeking unspecified damages from the airline, the Minneapolis airport and, potentially, the John Does.

Omar Mohammedi, the New York City attorney for the imams, said the intent is not to go after passengers who raise valid concerns about security. But he suggested some passengers may have acted in bad faith out of prejudice.

"As an attorney, I have seen a lot of abuse by the general public when it comes to members of the community creating stories that do not exist," Mohammedi said.

He denied the imams were talking about Saddam, and said that their seats were assigned and that they requested extenders because their seat belts didn't fit.

Some fear such lawsuits could weaken what has become the first line of defense against terrorism since Sept. 11 - an alert public. At airports and train and subway stations around the country, travelers are routinely warned to watch for unattended bags and suspicious activity and to notify authorities.

Ellen Howe, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees security at all U.S. airports, would not comment specifically on the imams' lawsuit. But she said the TSA counts on passengers to help the agency do its job.

" See something, say something' is certainly a common mantra in this day and age," Howe said. "We would always remind passengers to be both vigilant and thoughtful."

In reaction to the imams' lawsuit, Congress has taken steps to legally protect passengers who report suspicious activity. Earlier this week, the House approved an amendment to a rail transportation security bill that would make passengers immune from such lawsuits, unless they say something they know is false.

Mohammedi said he has not yet identified any of the complaining passengers. An airport police report listed a passenger and two US Airways employees as complaining about the imams. All three had their names blacked out before the lawsuit was filed by invoking a Minnesota law that allows it, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said.

Nolting said he has been contacted by several potential John Does.

Passenger Pat Snelson, who lives in a Twin Cities suburb, said he and his wife were not among those who reported suspicious behavior. But he said his wife noticed the men praying, and he saw them moving around the cabin while others were boarding.

"These guys were up to no good," Snelson said. "We think the airport people did a real good job in taking care of it."

Bomb-sniffing dogs examined the men and their baggage. FBI agents and other federal law enforcement officers questioned the men for several hours before releasing them.

Billie Vincent, a former director of security for the Federal Aviation Administration, said he is troubled by the mere attempt to identify the passengers who raised concerns.

Airline passengers "are your eyes and your ears," said Vincent, who now owns an aviation security company. "If attorneys can get those names and sue them, you put a chilling effect on the whole system."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Apostasy - Dr. Jamal Badawi

With reference to the request to endorsement on the issue of Apostasy,
here is another well documented article from Dr. Jamal Badawi.

Mike Ghouse

Is Apostasy a Capital Crime in Islam?
By Dr. Jamal A. Badawi**
Apr. 26, 2006

Apostasy, or riddah in Arabic, literally means defection or backsliding.1 As an Islamic legal term, it means denouncing Islam as one's religion by a Muslim. There has been a wide variety of opinions by Muslim scholars throughout nearly fourteen centuries concerning punishment for apostasy with the majority of the opinion that apostasy is a capital crime as it threatens the integrity and stability of the Muslim community and state. This paper aims at critically evaluating these views in the light of the Qur'an and Hadith.2

Apostasy is a capital crime as it threatens the integrity and stability of the Muslim community and state.

Examination and evaluation of such diverse opinions requires clarity of the proper methodology in the study of any topic relating to Islam. While this methodology is the focus of a profound discipline known as 'ilm usul al-fiqh,3 or the principles of Islamic jurisprudence, there are a few fundamental general rules that may be summed up as follows:

1. Actions of Muslims, whether or not they are claimed to be in the name of Islam or in the name of God are not to be equated with normative authentic Islam. It is the later that is the criterion of evaluating such actions and to judge whether they are consistent with it or not and to what degree.

2. Normative authentic Islamic teachings are based in the first place on its supreme source; the Qur'an which is to Muslims the verbatim word of God as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The Qur'an has been preserved intact since its revelation and in the original language in which it was revealed. Next to the Qur'an is Hadith, sometimes used interchangeably with the term Sunnah4. Hadith is defined as the words, actions, and approvals of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in the context of understanding and implementing Islamic teachings.5 In the case of Hadith, due care must be given to the degree of authenticity of each hadith.

With this hierarchy of sources, we can begin our enquiry by asking if there is any reference in the Qur'an to capital punishment for apostasy.

Evidence from the Qur'an
There is no single verse in the Qur’an which prescribes an earthly punishment for apostasy.
There is no single verse in the Qur'an that prescribes an earthly punishment for apostasy. Verses about apostasy in the Qur'an speak only about God's punishment of the apostate in the Hereafter.

The following Qur'anic verses illustrate two examples:
[Your enemies will not cease to fight against you till they have turned you away from your faith, if they can. But if any of you should turn away from his/her faith and die as a denier [of the truth] – these it is whose works will bear no fruit in this world and in the life to come; and these it is who are destined for the fire, therein to abide.] (Al-Baqarah 2:217)6

[Behold, as for those who come to believe, and then deny the truth, and again come to believe, and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of truth — God will not forgive them, nor will guide them in any way.] (An-Nisaa' 4:137)

It is important to note in the above verse that if the Qur'an prescribes capital punishment for apostasy, then the apostate should be killed after the first instance of apostasy. As such there would be no opportunity to "again come to believe and again deny the truth, and thereafter grow stubborn in their denial of truth". In spite of these acts of repeated apostasy, no capital punishment is prescribed for them.7

The silence of the Qur’an on any prescribed mandatory capital for apostasy is quite revealing.
The silence of the Qur'an on any prescribed mandatory capital for apostasy is quite revealing. More revealing is the fact that there is overwhelming evidence in the Qur'an of freedom of conscious, belief, and worship.

The following verses gives an example of this:

[And say [O Muhammad]: 'The truth [has now come] you're your Sustainer: let, then, him or her who wills, believe in it, and let him or her who wills, reject it.] (Al-Kahf 18:29)
[There shall be no coercion in matters of faith.] (Al-Baqarah 2:256)
[And so, [O Prophet,] exhort them; your task is only to exhort. You can not compel them [to believe].] (Al-Ghashiyah 88:21-22)
[Thus, [O Prophet,] if they argue with you, say, "I have surrendered my whole being unto God, and [so have] all who follow me' – and ask those who have been vouchsafed revelation aforetime, as well as the unlettered people, 'Have you [too] surrendered yourselves unto Him?' And if they surrender themselves unto Him, they are on the right path; but if they turn away – behold, your duty is no more than to deliver the message: for God sees all that is in [the hearts of] His creatures.] (Aal `Imran 3:20)

These and many other verses in the Qur'an are only consistent with its depiction of the human as a free agent with the power of choice as long as that choice does not involve violation of law or commission of a crime. They are also consistent with the meaning of Islam based on the etymology of the word, which means to attain peace with God, inner peace and peace with all of God's creation (including humans, animals, vegetation, and natural resources) through willing and voluntary submission to God and accepting His grace and guidance in one's life.

It is inconceivable to attain that peace if a person is forced or coerced into becoming a Muslim or remaining a Muslim against his or her free will. It is also inconceivable to say, "Yes, no one is forced to become a Muslim, but once he or she accepts Islam willingly, it is forbidden to reject it." Such an argument under whatever excuse or justification is inconsistent with the many conclusive verses in the Qur'an on freedom of belief which is above all an inner feeling of acceptance and conviction.

It is inconceivable to attain peace if any person is forced or coerced to become a Muslim or to remain a Muslim against his/her free will.

If indeed, capital punishment is prescribed for mere individual apostasy, then it is one of the most serious forms of "coercion" in religion, coercion which is clearly and conclusively forbidden in the Qur'an. Furthermore, the fear of such assumed punishment may lead many to hypocrisy; by pretending to remain Muslims just to save their lives. In the final analysis, hypocrisy is a greater danger to the community than apostasy in itself. Hypocrites may implode the Muslim community from within.

More inconceivable yet, is the argument that the verse that states, [There shall be no coercion in matters of faith] was abrogated (Al-Baqarah 2: 256). This verse is one of many other verses that affirm the principle of free choice of belief. As such, to claim that this verse was "abrogated" implies that all other similar verses are abrogated too.

What is more significant, however, is that any claim of naskh (abrogation or more correctly supersession) must be carefully examined. The entire Qur'an is definitively authentic and well preserved intact (qat`i ath-thubut). Any claim of naskh must be definitive also and not based on mere opinion or speculation. As-Suyuti quotes Ibn Al-Hassar as having said the following:
It is not acceptable, in the matter of naskh, (to accept) statements of the interpreters of the Qur'an, not even the ijtihad (reasoning) of those engaging in ijtihad without authentic reports or clear evidence since naskh involves removal of a ruling and affirming of (another) ruling which occurred during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and what is acceptable in that matter is the narration and history not opinion or ijtihad.

While some scholars have claimed that hundreds of verses of the Qur'an were abrogated, the majority of scholars reject that claim. The famous scholar of Qur'anic sciences Jalal Ad-Din As-Suyuti narrowed the number of abrogated verses to 19 verses. Other scholars, such as Shah Waliyyullah Ad-Dahlawi and Sobhi As-Salih narrowed them down to a lesser number.8 None of these verses mentioned by As-Suyuti, Ad-Dahlawi, or As-Salih are claimed to abrogate the verses prohibiting coercion in religion. A basic principle of Islamic jurisprudence is that the Qur'an can only be abrogated by the Qur'an or a more direct, highly authentic and explicit evidence based on the Prophet's teachings.

It is abundantly clear that there is no conclusive evidence, indeed no evidence at all in the Qur'an to sustain the claim that the apostate should be killed on that sole ground.9 However, absence of evidence in the Qur'an is not sufficient though central. If indeed there is a conclusive evidence in Hadith prescribing capital punishment for the apostate, that conclusion must be altered.

Evidence from Hadith

It is abundantly clear that there is no conclusive evidence in the Qur’an to sustain the claim that the apostate should be killed

Hadith is defined as the actions, words, and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The crucial questions that need to addressed are as follows:
Is there any report of apostasy that took place during the lifetime of the Prophet?
What is the degree of authenticity of such report(s)?

If there are such authentic reports, was the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in a position to implement and enforce the law?

How did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) deal with such case(s), in the form of action or words?

How should the actions and words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) be interpreted keeping in mind a number of widely accepted rules including that no Hadith may be interpreted in a way that genuinely contradicts the Qur'an or for that matter contradicting a more authentic Hadith. Following are answers to these questions combined.

There are a few reports alleging that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered the killing of a few apostates who refused to repent. However, all such reports were deemed weak (unauthentic) by Hadith scholars. For example, the famous scholar Muhammad Ash-Shawkani (died in 1839) wrote that there were problems with the isnad (chain of narration) of these reports and thus they are not consider to be reliable, especially in a serious matter such as capital punishment.10 None of these reports were narrated by earlier and far more reliable sources of Hadith such as Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

More significant is the fact that a case of apostasy was reported in the most authentic book of Hadith (Bukhari) reported by more than one reliable chain of narration (stronger isnad). The following includes a translation of the most central hadiths:

Jabir ibn `Abdullah narrated that a Bedouin pledged allegiance to the Apostle of Allah for Islam (i.e. accepted Islam) and then the Bedouin got fever whereupon he said to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) "cancel my pledge." But the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) refused. He (the Bedouin) came to him (again) saying, "Cancel my pledge." But the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) refused. Then he (the Bedouin) left (Medina). Allah's Apostle said, "Madinah is like a pair of bellows (furnace): it expels its impurities and brightens and clear its good."11

Some argued that perhaps the man in question wanted to be relieved of his oath (bay`ah) not to leave Madinah. This argument lacks any textual or other support. In fact, the wording of this particular hadith clearly indicates that the subject of the oath (bay`ah) was to willingly accept Islam. Thus, his request to be relieved from that oath meant that he wanted to leave Islam. This incident took place in Madinah when Muslims were living in an independent Islamic "state," where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had full authority to implement Shari`ah law.

If indeed the "revealed" prescribed punishment for apostasy is death, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would have been the first to carry out the punishment. In fact, he did not even prescribe any punishment at all against that Bedouin, nor did he send any one to arrest him as an "apostate," imprison, or ask him to recant or even reconsider his decision as later jurists prescribed. Nor is there any solid ground to claim that this and other similar hadiths were "abrogated." In fact, these Hadiths are in conformity with the Qur'an and consistent with its central value of freedom of conscious and rejection of any compulsion in matters of faith (Al-Baqarah 2:256).

The above described event is compatible with one of the conditions of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) accepted. The Prophet stipulated that the condition that if a Muslim were to migrate to Madinah to join the Muslim community there under the leadership of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) wished to leave Islam and go back to his or her previous religion, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was obliged to let the person return to Makkah.

This happened before the final victory over the Makkans and the Prophet's victorious return to Makkah. However, one would have expected the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to have refused this condition so that he could have been able to punish any potential apostate. It is interesting to note that some scholars who argue for capital punishment if someone commits apostasy justify that by the imperative of safeguarding the Muslim community and its political entity from disintegration and defection from the faith. Such justification would have been more relevant at the time the Prophet readily accepted that condition of the treaty since Muslims were even more vulnerable and still relatively insecure.

The above hadith and similar ones are of the highest degree of authenticity and reliability and are also quite clear and as such should be kept in mind when we examined other authentic hadiths on the topic.

Another hadith goes as follows:
Abdullah narrated that Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The blood of a Muslim, who confesses that there is no God but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas (retaliation) for murder, a married person who commits adultery and the one who reverts from Islam (apostates) and leaves the (Muslim) community."12

This hadith has been interpreted in more than one way. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) speaks here of three capital crimes, the third of which is committing apostasy and parting with the (Muslim) community. By merely committing apostasy and parting peacefully with the Muslim community without committing any act of treason justifies the death penalty, then why did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) let the man in the first hadith cited above go unmolested? Would that show that parting with the community refers to coupling apostasy with joining the enemies who were at war with Muslims at that time?

The argument that apostasy itself is an act of treason because Islam is also a religious entity is questionable on several grounds. First, it is known that all people of other faith communities, who are peacefully coexisting with Muslims, are entitled to just and kind treatment and are not pressured into accepting Islam against their will (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-8). If a Muslim chooses to commit apostasy, bad as it may seem from a Muslim perspective, the relevant question is whether or not such apostasy is coupled with other crimes against the state.

Another relevant question is whether an individual apostasy is itself an offense (in Arabic jarimah). And if it were an offense, it would be an offense that goes purely against God. In that case, God would hold the person accountable on the Day of Judgment. Or, if it were automatically considered to be a capital offense here on earth regardless of the particulars of any specific situation. More central here is whether it is coupled with any other punishable offense.

This inquiry is not meant to trivialize the possible, even likely harms to the community or the Islamic state. Nor does it ignore the possible effect of morale of the public in Muslim cultures. In his article regarding apostasy,13 Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi eloquently speaks of these problems and harms, especially when seen among the masses of Muslims today as part of their commonly perceived Western assault on Islam and Muslims, militarily, politically, economically, socially, and even religiously. However, in the same Muslim communities, there are people who still claim to be Muslim while at the same time, they wage war on Islam and Muslims. Dr. Al-Qaradawi calls it "an intellectual apostasy."14 Unfortunately, more dangerous and destructive "apostasy" goes unpunished.

One version of this second hadith quoted above is quite revealing and may help answer these questions. `A'ishah, the Prophet's wife, narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said the following:

"The blood of a Muslim, who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: a married person who commits adultery; he is to be stoned and a man who went out fighting against God and his Messenger; he is to be killed or crucified or exiled from the land and a man who murders another person; he is to be killed on account of it."15

This version is quite similar to Al-Bukhari's version above with respect to two categories of capital crimes; adultery and premeditated murder of an innocent person. However, the third category in Al-Bukhari's version is described here more explicitly as "fighting against God and His Messenger" an act that is inconceivable to be committed by a Muslim and is a clear indication of apostasy as the hadith deals with one who is a Muslim in the first place.

The expression used in this version of the hadith is identical to the following expression used in the Qur'an:
[The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: this is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.] (Al-Ma'idah 5:33)

This verse, and hence the description in the above hadith, does not relate to apostasy itself but rather to hiraabah, or organized crime involving murder, armed robbery, and other acts that terrorize the public. It is up to the court to determine the type of punishment suited to the degree of gravity of their offenses. It is a reasonable conclusion as such that the third category mentioned in Al-Bukhari's version refers to apostasy coupled with these other crimes some of which are capital crimes. This was regarded as a viable possibility by the medieval scholar Ibn Taymiyah.

Dr. Al-`Awwa, a well-known contemporary Muslim scholar, wrote the following:
Based on this hadith, Ibn Taymiyah said that the second category here stands for the same one referred to (in Ibn Mas`ud's version) as 'someone who abandons his religion and the Muslim community,' as abandoning the Muslim community is achieved by waging war against Allah and His Messenger.

If this view (of Ibn Taymiyah) is correct, which I consider it to be so, then the reasons mentioned in Ibn Mas`ud's version according to which the blood of a Muslim may be shed are the same as those mentioned in `A'ishah's version of the same hadith. Hence, the person who abandons his religion and the Muslim community according to Ibn Mas`ud's version of this hadith is meant to be the person who apostatizes from Islam and then fights against Allah and His Messenger, not the person who merely becomes an apostate. Based on this, the ruling on apostates who are not involved in fighting against the Muslim community is not indicated in this hadith.

In other words, this hadith does not state the ruling concerning those who merely apostatize from Islam; but states the ruling on those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and it is established that the latter must be killed, be they Muslims or non-Muslims. Hence, it is not valid to base the view that the punishment for apostasy is the prescribed death penalty upon the Prophet's permission to shed the blood of the Muslim "who abandons his religion and the Muslim community" as mentioned in this hadith"16

Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Prophet said, "Whoever changed his religion, then kill him".17 This hadith is perhaps the most quoted one by those who are of the view that apostasy is a capital crime. This argument could have been more convincing if this were the only hadith on this topic. It raises a number of questions as to how it may be interpreted in view of the following statements:

1. The absence in the Qur'an of any earthly punishment for apostasy in spite of its mention in many places in the Qur'an.
2. The consistent and repeated affirmation of freedom of conscious and freedom of faith and worship in the Qur'an.
3. The hadiths in Al-Bukhari discussed earlier show that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself did not carry out any punishment on the man who committed apostasy in Madinah and left the town.
4. There is no authentic hadith that narrates that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) carried out capital punishment for apostasy during his lifetime.

5. As Dr. Al-`Awwa observed, the expression "kill him" does not necessarily signify a mandatory command.18 In fact, one of the basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence is that the command verb could mean a mandatory command (such as prayers, zakah, and fasting). It could refer to an optional act (like optional night prayers). It could also mean permissibility of an act and several other meanings. It is the presence of corroborating evidence or lack thereof that determines the proper contextual meaning. In the light of the evidence discussed above, the Prophet's command here seems to refer to the permissibility of capital punishment, when apostasy is coupled with a capital crime such as waging war against the community.

6. Dr. Al-Qaradawi suggests another possible meaning of this hadith, saying, "There is another possibility that `Umar's opinion (against mandatory capital punishment for an apostate) is that when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, 'Whoever changes his religion, then kill him,' the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that in his capacity as the leader of the community and head of state and that this was one of the executive decisions by the authorities (one of the actions that falls within as-syaasah ash-ahar`iyyah) and not a religious verdict (fatwa) or transmission (of a verdict) of God which is binding on the Ummah at all times and everywhere and under all circumstances."19 This indicates also that punishment for apostasy, if any (as the Prophet himself did not mete to the man who committed apostasy and left Madinah), is not a mandatory fixed punishment (hadd). Other evidence to that effect was elaborated on by Dr. Al-`Awwa in his article.20

To justify capital punishment for the apostate, some refer to more than one version of a hadith pertaining to an incident that happened during the Prophet's life. A group of people from `Ukal and `Urainah came to Madinah and accepted Islam. Subsequently, they committed apostasy and then killed and tortured a shepherd (other version say there was more than one shepherd) and mutilated his bodies. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered their arrest and they were executed.21 The question here is whether they were killed because of apostasy or because of their brutal murder of innocent people. It appears certain that it was the later reason.

References to Actions and Interpretation of the Companions of the Prophet and the First Generation After Prophet Muhammad

Included in the books of Hadith are actions of the Prophet's Companions, the books contain either their explicit statements of what the Prophet said or their actions which are presumed to be based on what they learned from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). While the place of consensus (ijmaa`) of the Prophet's Companions as a source of Islamic Shari`ah has been debated, it is a valid source especially if there are other supporting evidence. However, the Prophet's direct words and actions are of higher authority since only the Prophet was the recipient of revelations in matters of faith.

A few hadiths refer to incidents when `Ali, Mu`adh, and Abu Musa carried out capital punishment on some people who had committed apostasy. In one instance, Mu`adh was quoted as having said that this punishment was the judgment (qadaa') of God and His Messenger. Referring to these incidents, however, may not give a conclusive evidence of a mandatory capital punishment for the following reasons:

1. The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself did not carry out a punishment in any authentic hadith. His action takes priority over words.

2. Other authentic hadiths relating to punishment has been interpreted differently as detailed above.

3. It is possible that when a companion like Mu`adh says, "This is the judgment of God and His Messenger," he was expressing his interpretation of the verses and hadiths cited above.

4. As Dr. Al-Qaradawi and Dr. Al-`Awwa have suggested, these reports of capital punishment were not mandatory, but rather executive decisions based on their particular circumstances, a matter that varies considerably with time and place, and not a fatwa "religious verdict" that is "binding on the Ummah (Muslim community) at all times and everywhere and under all circumstances.22

It is important to note that `Umar, a famous Companion of the Prophet, was disappointed when he learned that an apostate was killed. When asked what he would have done in that situation, he suggested that the apostate should have been detained and given an opportunity to reconsider his decision. He did not speak of any time limit, which may negate the notion of mandatory capital punishment. The same view was held by Ibrahim An-Nakh`i and Sufian Ath-Thawri, two members of the first generation after Prophet Muhammad. Some scholars argue that apostasy, in the early days of Islam, was considered in the context of security and war situation. For example, Jamal Al-Banna suggested the following:

The notion of apostasy in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was coupled with animosity against Islam and waging war against it. So, one who believed in him (the Prophet) was endeavoring to support him, and one who committed apostasy was endeavoring to wage war against him and join the idolatrous folk.23

He then gives an example the case of `Abdullah ibn Abi As-Sarh who accepted Islam and then committed apostasy and returned to Makkah to instigate the Quraish tribe to fight against the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

There is no firm ground for the claim that apostasy is in itself a mandatory fixed punishment (hadd), namely capital punishment.

The preponderance of evidence from both the Qur'an and Sunnah indicates that there is no firm ground for the claim that apostasy is in itself a mandatory fixed punishment (hadd), namely capital punishment.

References to early capital punishment for apostasy were not due to apostasy itself, but rather other capital crimes that were coupled with it.

In the context of the besieged early Muslim community, apostasy was a major threat to the nascent Muslim community. Taking a passive attitude towards it would have jeopardized the very emergence of the Muslim community. This may be one reason why the consensus of scholars is that apostasy is an offense (in the context of an Islamic society) is an offense. However, there are wide divergence of views about its suitable punishment. Sheikh `Abdul-Majeed Subh argues that "we can conclude that the issue of the penalty prescribed for apostasy is dependent on the public interest of the nation. Therefore, there is no harm in ignoring the apostasy of an individual as long as he or she does not harm the nation. On the other hand, if a group of apostates endangers the security and interests of the Muslim community, then the Muslim ruler should consider them to be a danger and threat to society."24

As religious opinions (fatwas) change with the changing time, place, custom, and circumstances, this issue should be reexamined within the basic boundaries of Islamic jurisprudence and not simply of pressures of others. No Muslim is required to change the indisputable stable and fixed aspects of Shari`ah for the sake of pleasing others or earning the title "moderate" or "open minded." In the meantime, jurisprudent rulings and interpretations in the non-fixed area need not be permanent either.

Some principles of Islamic jurisprudence may be helpful in any such endeavor. Considering ma'alaat al-af`aa, or considering the results of adopting a particular interpretation. Even if an act was permissible or desirable but could cause harm to the cause of Islam, it should be avoided. For example, The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was conscious of the imperative of safeguarding the name of Islam and its reputation. When it was suggested to him that `Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul should be killed because of the divisive and subverting role he had played in Madinah, the Prophet answered that he feared that people will say that "Muhammad is killing his companions."

Weighing harms and benefits of a particular act since there is no sense to do some good if that results in greater harm. Applying these rules in our contemporary world where the setting is vastly different from the past, a few pertinent questions are as follows:

Would the insistence on a particular view, common in Muslim jurisprudence heritage as it may be, really enhance the reputation of Islam and Muslims and correct the already severely blemished unfair image?

Just as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and early Muslims considered the context of their times in non-fixed matters (ghair thawaabit) shouldn't our scholars today do the same?

Whatever opinion is held, as Dr. Al-Qaradawi and others suggest, a great deal of caution must be exercised when dealing with any alleged apostasy case as there are many legal consequences of apostasy pertaining to family law in Islam. The benefit of doubt must be given and only those in legitimate authority and knowledge may deal with such situation as no one is allowed to take the law in their own hands.

If there is anything in this paper that is accurate, it is only by the Grace of Allah and because of what I have learned from scholars for whom I have great love and respect, even though I am not one of them. If there is anything that is erroneous, it is my doing and I seek Allah's forgiveness for it. If there are people who disagree with these preliminary reflections, there is no offense in engaging in brotherly and objective dialogue with the prayer that Almighty Allah may show us all the truth and help us to act upon it. The last of our prayer is all grace is due to Allah.

** Dr. Jamal Badawi is a professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where he is currently a cross-appointed faculty member in the Departments of Religious Studies and Management. He completed his undergraduate studies in Cairo, Egypt and his Masters and Ph. D. degrees at Indiana University in Bloomington, In.Dr. Badawi has authored several books and articles on Islam. He also researched, designed and presented a 352-segnment television series on Islam, shown in many local TV stations in Canada and the US and in other countries as well. Audio and video copies of this series are widely available thought out the world. Some Titles of His Published Works are: Selected prayers, Gender Equity in Islam, Muhammad in the Bible, Status of Women in Islam, Polygamy in Islamic Law, The Earth and Humanity : An Islamic Perspective, Islam: A Brief Look, Muslim Woman’s Dress According to the Qur’an and the Sunnah and Islamic Ethics.In addition to his participation in lectures, seminars and interfaith dialogues in North America, Dr. Badawi was invited as a guest speaker in various functions throughout the world. He is also active in several Islamic organizations, including the Islamic Society of North America and is the Founder/chairman of the Islamic Information Foundation, a non-profit foundation seeking to promote a better understanding of Islam and the Muslims towards non-Muslims. He has lectured extensively in North America and abroad, and is an excellent speaker on a variety of topics including Islam & Christianity. He is an expert in Christian-Muslim Dialogues. Dr. Badawi is also a member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Fiqh Council. He is also a member of both the Fiqh Council of North America, and the European Council for Fatwa and Research.

1. Baalbaki, Rohi. Al-Mawrid: A Modern Arabic-English Dictionary. Dar El-Ilm Lilmalayin: Beirut, 15th Edition, 2001, p. 582.
2. Hadith is defined as the actions, words and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
3. For a more detailed discussion of these issues, see Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence. Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1991.
4. While some scholars argue that there are fine differences between "Hadith" and "Sunnah," the majority of scholars consider the two terms to be interchangeable. For more details on this, see Al-Saleh, Sobhi, `Ulum Al-Hadith Wa-Mostalahoh (Arabic). Dar El-Ilm Lilmalayin: Beirut, 13th Edition, 1981, PP. 3, 11.
5. For the distinction between the legal (As-Sunnah At-Tashri`iyyah) and non-legal Sunnah, see Kamali, op. cit., pp. 50-57. See also Al-Saleh, Sobhi, Mabaahith Fi `Ulum Al-Qur'an, Dar Al-`ilm Lilmalayeen: Beirut, 14th Ed., 1982, pp. 34-35.
6. Translation of the meaning of the Qur'an was based mainly on Muhammad Asad's, The Message of the Qur'an. Dar Al-Andalus: Gibralter, 1984. Some minor adjustments were made by this author to provide for greater clarity.
7. For other verses on apostasy, see 3:62; 86; 90, 5:57, 9:75, 16:106 and 47:25.
8. See Al-Saleh, Sobhi. Mabaahith Fi `Ulum Al-Qur'an. Dar Al-`ilm Lilmalayeen: Beirut, 14th ed., 1982, pp. 272-274.
9. Some may argue that in the Qur'an (9:74) speaks of God's punishment in this life and in the hereafter. However, both the textual and historical context of this verse deals with the hypocrites not the apostates. In spite of their lack of faith, hypocrites continue to claim that they are believers and do not declare that they had "committed apostasy." The basic rule is to accept hypocrites' claim (of faith) and leave it to God to punish them in his own way, in this life and the life to come.
10. Ash-Shawkani, Muhammad Bin `Ali. Nayl Al-Awtaar (in Arabic). Dar Al-Jeel: Beirut, 1973, Vol. 8, pp.2-3.
11. Sahih Al-Bukhari. (translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan), Maktabat Al-Riyadh Al-Hadithah: Riyadh, 1982, Vol.9, hadith 316, pp. 241. Similar hadiths narrated by other chains of narration include Hadiths 318, P. 242; 323, p. 246.
12. Al-`Asqalaani, Ibn Hajar. Fath Al-Bari Bisharh Sahih Al-Bukhari (in Arabic). Edited by M. Abdul Baaqi and M. Al-Khatib, Dar Al-Rayyan Lilturaath: Cairo, 2nd Printing, 1987, Vol.12, Baab Ad-Diyaat, hadith 6878, p. 209, translated by this author.
13. updated April 14, 2006.
14. Ibid.
15. Al-Azdi, Abu Dawud Sulaiman (died AH 275), Sunan Abu Dawud (Arabic) , Edited by M.M. Abdul Hamid, Al-Maktabah Al-Asriyyah, Beirut, no date, Vol. 4, hadith 4353, P. 126, translated by this author.
16. Islamonline, op. cit.
17. Sahih Al-Bukhari, op. cit., Vol. 9, hadith 57, p. 45.
18. Islamonline, op. cit.
19. Islamonline Arabic website. Translated by this author.
20. Ibid.
21. Sahih Al-Bukhari, op. cit., Vol. 8, hadiths 794, 795, 796, 797, pp. 519-522.
22. Islamonline, op. cit.
23. Islamonline Arabic website. An article by Jamal Al-Banna, Translated by the author.
24. Islamonline, op. cit.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Divorce :: Arab wives

High divorce rate is a big surprise, the women in India, whether Hindu or Muslim endure the same suffering. The woman goes through the same routine, and some of it, I have writtne in my previous article. The Egyptian movie could have been made in Bollywood. What I really see is, it is not religion, it is the men. Women in the US also go through some of that same routine. - Mike Ghouse
Divorce a labyrinth for Arab wives
Dina Abdel Mageed
Middle East Times
March 27, 2007

TIES THAT BIND: A scene from the 1975 Egyptian film, 'I Need a Solution,' starring Faten Hamama (R) and Rushdy Abaza (L). The controversial movie illustrated the difficulties faced by Middle Eastern women to secure a divorce.

RIYADH -- "You want a divorce! Are you mad? That has never happened in our family before!" are lines common to dozens of Egyptian movies. But in real life, Arab divorce statistics paint a different picture.

Overall, getting a divorce for Arab women remains a daunting prospect, given all its negative connotations: failure, helplessness, and shame. For some, a female divorcee is a person to be regarded with suspicion by society, and even by family members and friends.

However, the divorce rate in the Arab world has risen considerably. According to the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat, an average of 60 divorces occur everyday in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh.

And according to research conducted recently by Nora Al Shamlan, chairman of the University Studies Center for Girls' research unit, the divorce rate in Saudi Arabia has reached 60 percent. "The rate rose from 25 percent to 60 percent during the last 20 years," confirms Al Hayat's Fatima Al Aseemy.

In Egypt, a divorce is granted every six minutes with an average of 240 divorces per day according to a census released by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

"The divorce rate has been rising because of the change in women's status. The fact that women today have education and, more importantly, employment - which leads to their financial independence - makes them more willing to accept divorce rather than live an unhappy life," says Madiha Al Safty, a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo. And "as society [moves] away from the traditional model, a divorced woman is no longer as stigmatized as she used to be," she adds.

As an ever-increasing number of women find themselves either divorced or enduring a sad marriage, girlhood dreams of happy families and peaceful married lives evaporate.

Layla Ahmed (real name withheld on request), a 27-year-old Saudi woman, is a recent divorcee. From her perspective, "the high rate of divorce has to do with choosing wrong partners and the fact that most youth are irresponsible," she argues, adding that "divorce can also be the result of parents spoiling their kids."

Layla has a five-year-old daughter, and was granted a divorce five years ago after a year-and-a-half of marriage. Her sister is also a divorcee with a 17-year-old daughter who has not seen her father since she was six.

In the Middle East, whether or not it is her own decision, a woman is often blamed for a divorce, given that divorce is always thought to be the "fault" of one of the marital partners. The corollary to this is that women are always expected to protect their family's stability and harmony, even if they find themselves in a miserable marriage.

Commenting on this view, Safty says, "Of course, you cannot blame the woman alone for divorce. [Either member] of the couple may be responsible."

Nonetheless, she points out: "It is common for an Egyptian woman to endure an unhappy marriage for the children's sake in order to maintain the family environment. However, there are cases where the mother does not have the children's [well-being] as a priority and proceeds with divorce for her own reasons."

In Arab culture, wives and mothers are self-sacrificing figures, always ready to tolerate their husbands' mistakes, which can amount to infidelity at times. "Mothers maintain homes while fathers destroy them," goes an Egyptian proverb.

In such a context, providing children with a stable home life becomes the sole responsibility of the mother. And according to the same point of view, nurturing the marriage is not a mutual responsibility.

Highlighting the role society assigns to a man in a marriage, Madiha Al Ajroush, a Saudi psychologist, recites the Saudi proverb, "A man's only important attribute is what is in his pocket."

"Why didn't you endure the marriage?" and "You are irresponsible!" are among the barbs hurled at female divorcees, Layla tells the Middle East Times.

Nonetheless, for some of the region's women, a sad marriage is better than being alone. Hence the Egyptian saying, "The company of any man is better than being alone." Arab women are socialized to believe that an unattached female is a worthless being. Having children also makes life easier for a woman in a patriarchal society that holds motherhood in such high esteem.

While kindness is sometimes offered to divorced women, well-intentioned gestures cannot undo the deeply-rooted societal beliefs regarding the role of a married woman, and the culpability of female divorcees.

And even though spinsterhood is too frightening a prospect in the Middle East, spinsters are generally luckier than divorcees, given that they are often offered pity, rather than the pity mixed with suspicion divorcees are shown, ultimately resulting in hostility. Thus, many wives take the path of least resistance, choosing to endure their marriages, however unhappy they may be.

According to Safty, "The fact remains that in most cases, divorced women are not happy with their self-image," who adds that such self-condemnation is due to women's "earlier traditional image."

However, a divorced woman's self-image, says Ajroush, ultimately depends on her social class and the level of her education. When it comes to highly-educated women, she argues, "divorcees usually clash with their families because they tend to rebel against the limitations imposed on them," adding that "in some cases, women are influenced by the negative messages they receive from people."

In addition, being single again and, supposedly, in search of a partner, a female divorcee is often seen as a threat to her friends' marriages; wives see her as a potential temptation for their husbands. Conversely, husbands might regard her as a bad example for their wives.

Nevertheless, Safty says the status of divorced women in the Arab world has changed considerably. "The traditional image for the [female] divorcee might be one of suspicion, and, at times, of pity, but not so much today as in earlier times, especially as divorce is on the rise," she tells the Middle East Times.

Layla expresses a similar opinion: "In the past, divorce was regarded as a strange thing, but it has become normal today."

Nevertheless, Layla makes it clear that traces of the traditional view still exist. "Divorced women are treated differently. For example, they are expected not to go out a lot ... in order to protect their reputation."

Ajroush agrees with both Safty and Layla. "The society's attitude toward divorced women," she says, may have "changed slightly because of the high divorce rate," but "people still have a predisposition to stigmatize female divorcees."

"When a woman becomes a divorcee, her social status is downgraded, her personal freedom is limited, and her rights as a mother are taken away from her in many cases. Even young unmarried women have more freedom than divorced women," Ajroush explains.

Meanwhile, post divorce, Arab women often have the added burden of how they are to support themselves and their children.

"I can't provide for you and your four children," was the reaction of one woman's father after hearing her decision to dissolve her marriage on discovering her husband's infidelity.

In the words of Layla, "women who fear [returning] to their familial home are obliged to endure the marriage against their wishes."

The reaction of families to the divorce of their female members complicates the situation of women even further, given that marriage and divorce are seen as familial, rather than individual, affairs. Fearing their loved ones' rejection, some women abandon the idea of divorce altogether; others decide to rebel against traditional norms and to bear the consequences of their choice.

Divorced women face many obstacles in moving on with their lives. For her part, Layla believes that "divorced women are deeply wronged." She highlights the fact that "a divorced man can easily [later] marry [a] virgin, [but] female divorcees' ... only option is to marry either a [divorced] or an old man," adding that this is "the price divorced women ... pay for their first marriage."

In the words of Ajroush: "Society deals with divorced men and women very differently, given that we live in a patriarchal society. Male divorcees have no problems at all with remarrying. Yet, female divorcees fear that their kids might be taken away from them and, even when they have the courage to look for new partners, they have to accept lower criteria [in a new partner]."

Ismail Mohammed (real name withheld on request) is a 34-year-old Egyptian man. A divorcee himself, Ismail agrees that divorce has become a common social phenomenon. Even so, he expresses his unwillingness to remarry a divorced woman because, in his words, "divorce is a harsh experience that affects women psychologically more than men, making it difficult for them to resume their life normally."

The 1979 film Wa la azaa lel sayyidat (Ladies Should Not Offer Condolences), illustrated some of the problems faced by divorced Arab women. It tells the story of Rawya, a woman who succeeds in divorcing her husband after he fails to provide for her and their daughter. When she finds love again, Rawya's ex-husband reappears on the scene, spreading vicious rumors about her, which eventually lead her new lover to desert her. The movie, thus, harshly criticizes society's condemnation of female divorcees, and the gossip that can destroy a woman's life.

Predictably, initiating divorce proceedings has, for a long time, been far easier for Arab men than Arab women. Until recently, in many Arab countries, the only way for a woman to secure a divorce was either to convince her husband to divorce her willingly or to file a case herself, having to prove in court that she had compelling reasons for doing so - a process that might take her years.

An earlier 1975 Egyptian film, Orid Hallan (I Need a Solution), starring Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, follows a woman named Fawzya as she seeks to dissolve her marriage to an adulterous diplomat. Upon her husband's refusal to grant her a divorce, she is left with no other choice but to take the matter to court. But by using legal loopholes, her husband complicates the issue, making it impossible for her to end the marriage.

The movie, which became the direct cause for the reform of certain articles in Egyptian family law, denounced the legal injustice that placed suffocating limitations on women's right to end a marriage.

Almost 24 years after the film's release, a new law or khul passed in January 2000 in Egypt, generated instant controversy and fiery debate, enabling women to get a divorce easily on condition they first renounced their marital financial rights as former spouses.

For some, khul alleviated a genuine problem; for others, the new law generated much fuss while being less-efficient than anticipated.

For her part, Safty argues that khul was meant to facilitate divorce procedures that are lengthy and complicated. However, she seems to be unsatisfied with the implementation of the law to date: "It is not as simple as it sounds, and it also needs time and some procedures. But it has somehow helped in some cases, although not in the way expected."

Ironically, in some Arab countries, dissolving marriages has proved to be less of a problem than maintaining the original unions. In Saudi Arabia, forced divorces are now the latest social phenomenon.

In 2006, the case of Fatima and Mansour - divorced in absentia at the request of Fatima's brother on the basis of tribal incompatibility - shocked Saudi society. According to Fatima's brother, the husband lied to them about his tribal origin, which the brother regarded as a valid reason for separating the couple against their wishes. Fatima is now serving an eight-month sentence in Dammam prison with her one-year-old baby, while Mansour is in hiding with their three-year-old daughter.

A number of similar cases have also been brought to court. "At least 23 cases have come to light in the past year of male relatives, often distant or unknown, filing to divorce ... [a] happily married couple," wrote Suzan Zawazi for The Saudi Gazette. As a result, a panel of legal and Islamic jurists was formed by the ministry of justice to investigate the trend of forced divorce.

Women, says Ajroush, are the victims of a miscarriage of justice. "There are no effective family laws and even those in existence are not applied properly."

Between the hammer of society and the anvil of law, divorced women or those attempting to get a divorce in the Arab world, suffer - silently in most cases. Whether or not their plight will be addressed remains ambiguous.

Perhaps, a totally new approach toward divorce is needed on both social and legal levels so as to protect the right of millions of Arab women to a happy, peaceful life. Merely reforming family law may not be enough to resolve the problem, given that the law can only ultimately reflect, not mandate, a new social attitude toward female divorcees.


Wife Beating - Abusulayman

Saudi Scholar Abdulhamid A. Abusulayman recently published a paper (also attached) that draws the same conclusion as Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar on the 4:34 verse containing the daraba verb, which is misunderstood by some husbands to justify the infliction of psychological and physical pain toward their wives.

The article is located at:[1].pdf


Thanks to Daisy Khan for sharing this article.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Wife Beating: Jamil/Ghouse

Wife Beating in Qur'aan
Javed Jamil & Mike Ghouse
March 25, 2007
Wife Beating: Discipline or Abuse?
By Mike Ghouse

I encourage every one to do the ground work, when more of us can focus and subject the research to consensus among Muslims of all hues, most certainly Islamic Scholars and Imams, we can come to an understanding and set a benchmark resolution. The word of God is final, however, our understanding of the word isn’t. For this century, let’s start the work and finish it by the end of this Islamic year and develop the consensus, Insha Allah on the first day of Muharram Hijri 1429, we need to pass a resolution on the subject.

In the year 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. Around the world, at least one in every three women hasbeen beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy. Forty percent of girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or knowing someone has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. – (Resources:,, and more)

Here is the title of my column in process “Wife Beating; Discipline or Abuse?” My contention is given the fact that no man, whether a Texan Cowboy, Brazilian Coffee picker, Tibetian Lama or an Arab Sheikh; Whether a Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim or an Atheist , can watch his wife in bed with a strange man. (or a woman can stand her husband in bed with a strange woman) and not react violently. It is nothing to do with civility or even religion; it is the possessive animal instinct in men and women DNA'd into us.

Thousands of women in the United States were killed by their husbands/boy friend, this is how the animalistic man behaves, and probably men were no different 2000 years ago regardless of their religion, ethnicity or national origins. Given this, God admonishes men, Hey guys, when you find your wife in bed with another man (full research is warranted on the word referenced above before we draw the conclusions), don’t kill them, hold yourselves, let her go, reconcile or discipline her. (Beating a child as are release of anger is abuse, feather touching them to let them know that it is a not an allowable behavior is disciplining the kids – that is what they refer to, hit by a pencil thin stick).

Again, I welcome to see Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar’s break through work. She has propelled research on the subject and we acknowledge her leadership on the issue. ( It is going to reinvigorate research on the word. The word "Idribuhunna" is usually translated as "beat them" in Sura 4:34. This word with the root "Dharaba" has a very long list of meanings. The word is used in Qur’aan in 10 different ways – for example the meaning is used 2 times, is used 9 times and is used 17 times (check the comment section below for all the words) ).

I am glad to see your effort; I have highlighted one of your paragraphs and repeated it at the beginning of your article below. Some of the ground work from Mohammad Irtaza and Irfan are listed in the comments section with their names. We will re-open the comments section for the public after we post a few comments from our members, then we will open up for the public. The word of God is final, however, our understanding of the word isn’t. Two thousand years ago, if God ordered Moses to go to Sinai, he would have gone on the back of a camel or walked. Today, he would fly. Meaning is still the same, but modes of understanding are different.

Mike Ghouse

Wife Beating in Qur'aan -- the Modern Context
Dr. Javed Jamil

The recent translation of the Quran by a woman is in the news all over the world just because it suits the designs of the forces of economic fundamentalism and feminists spawned by the culture that they created. In particular, verse number 4:34 of the Quran has come into focus with an attempt to disseminate the message that the Quran is cruel to women and even allows wife beating. There are apologetic Muslims who have been arguing that the context of the verse was set in the old Arabic world, and it has to be reinterpreted according to the modern context. Before discussing the meaning of the verse in question, let us first try to understand what the modern contexts of feminism and domestic violence are.

The biggest and perhaps the most destructive impact of the on-going march of economic fundamentalism was systematic, steady and substantial erosion of family system. This was the result of both the orchestrated designs to undermine family as well as the unintended adverse effects of the socio-economic transformation that was being pushed by the big business with all the possible means at their disposal. Misogamy grew in intensity. Making early marriage illegal, (while promoting premarital sex) banning polygamy (while promoting promiscuity and prostitution), making both the marriage and divorce difficult so that marriages become unpopular (while promoting live-in) highlighting incidences of atrocities on women within families (while trying to normalise the ever rising incidence of rapes) have been the chief steps in destroying the family system. This was obviously aimed at dissociating sex from marriage.

Thus the social apparatus built by the economic fundamentalists has led not only to the destabilisation of family, but also to almost its total annihilation. This has resulted in a number of social problems: domestic violence including abuse of women and children, divorces and separations, single parenthood, etc. Free mixing of men and women, the rise in sexual aggressiveness among women and the decreasing financial dependence of women on men have all contributed to the development of affairs both before and after marriage. Due to an increasing intolerance towards each other and total absence of endeavours to adjust with the spouse, extramarital affairs, sooner than later, lead to the break-up of marriages.

It is almost a universal fact that couples do expect primariness in their relationships; in places like India and Islamic countries, men and women do not even tolerate past relationships of their spouses. A man is highly unlikely to accept a woman in marriage if he knows about her intimate relationship in the past. They do not feel like entering where others have entered. Even women do have an exaggerated sense of exclusiveness and the knowledge of any past relationships of their spouses does not go particularly well with them.

In West, previous relationships are almost always not much of a problem for a new relationship to commence. But once they are in a relationship, they too do not tolerate any body else in the lives of their spouses. But such is the freedom in air and the provocation all around, that extramarital liaisons have become routine affairs. The new "Sexual Revolution" has given rise to domestic violence, which is different but much more dangerous than the Domestic violence in the old style family system.

Note the following facts about the ever rising incidence of domestic violence:

  • Every fifteen seconds, a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend. (FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 1991)
  • National surveys indicate that at least 2 million women are assaulted by their male partners each year. (Straus and Gelles, 1990)
  • The American Medical Association estimates that almost 4 million women are the victims of severe assaults by boyfriends and husbands each year, and about one in four women is likely to be abused by a partner in her lifetime. (Sarah Glazer, "Violence Against Women," CQ Researcher, Congressional Quarterly Inc., February 1993
  • Approximately 97% of the victims of domestic violence are women. (U.S. Dept. of Justice)
  • Violence by intimate partners is the leading cause of injury for women, "responsible for more injuries than car crashes, rapes, and muggings combined." (Centres for Disease Control)
  • In the United States, a women is more likely to be assaulted, injured, raped or killed by a male partner than by any other type of assailant. (Browne, A. and K.R. Williams, 1989)
  • Females are victims of family violence at a rate of three times that of males. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1993)
  • Abused women make up approximately 22-35% of women who seek medical attention at hospital emergency rooms. (Randall, 1988)
  • More than 50% of women are battered at some time in their lives; over one-third are battered repeatedly. (Peachey, 1988)
  • Approximately 70% of murdered women are killed by a husband, lover, or estranged husband or lover.
  • Approximately two-thirds of those murdered by intimate partners or ex-partners have been physically abused before they were killed. (Campbell, 1981, 1992; Wallace, 1986)
  • More than twice as many women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends as are murdered by strangers. (Kellerman, 1992)
  • Every day in this country approximately four women are killed by a male intimate partner. (Stout, 1991)
  • The nation's police spend approximately one-third of their time responding to domestic violence calls. (Domestic Violence: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, New Jersey Dept. of Community Affairs, 1990)
  • Estimates of the percentage of pregnant women who are battered run as high as 25%. (Flitcraft, 1990)
  • Abuse of pregnant women is the leading cause of birth defects and infant mortality. (March of Dimes study)
  • Most prevalence rate studies estimate that 28% of all adult women in a relationship are victims of domestic violence on an annual basis. (Anna Wilson, ed., Introduction to Homocide: The Victim/Offender, 1993)
  • Separated or divorced women were 14 times more likely than married women to report having been a victim of violence by a spouse or ex-spouse, accounting for 75% of all reports of battering. (Bureau of Justice, 1991)
  • As many as 50% of women killed by partners/husbands are murdered at or after separation. (Wilson and Daly, 1991; Barnard, 1981)
  • As much as 90% of the hostage-taking in this country is domestic. Domestic hostage-taking attempts to coerce a partner to return or remain in a marriage or relationship. 100% of these hostage-takers are men. (FBI, 1989)
  • 40 children are abducted by a parent each hour in the U.S. More than half occur in the context of domestic violence. More than 80% of abductions by parents occur after separation. Almost 40% of the abductions by fathers involve force or violence. (Finklehor et al, 1990; Grief and Hegar, 1992)
  • Domestic violence is increasing in Russia, with 14,000 women dying every year at the hands of their husbands or other relatives. (Amnesty Internatic)

Now, in this background, examine the verse that is supposed to support wife beating: " As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), next refuse to share beds with them (and last) beat them lightly. But if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance) for Allah is Most High, Most Great." (4: 34) It is clear from the verse that:

It is clear from the verse that:

The over-all aim of the directions is to save the family from breaking;

The strategy is not to let the issue going out of the house and giving it a chance to get resolved within the family;

The directions involve a situation where wife is arrogant or disloyal, and does not apply to women whose behaviour is within normal limits;

The steps to be taken are in an increasing order of harshness.

First, the husband is asked to use verbal tactics like lecturing, persuasion and admonition.

Second, if this fails, the husband is advised to isolate her within the house. Sexual separation is a very potent weapon for reform within the marriage.

Third, even if this fails, the husband is allowed to use physical measures.

Only when this fails, the husband must take the issue out of the family, either by seeking arbitration or by initiating the procedure of divorce or by seeking criminal action, in case she has engaged in any forbidden activity.

Whenever she reforms herself, the husband is warned against continuing mistreating her; he must return to her and live with her in love.

Though this verse is primarily addressed to men, its indirect application should also be there for situations where husbands are arrogant or disloyal to wives and are engaged in forbidden activities. There are various situations in the Quran where the instructions are either for men or women but they need to be applied in reverse cases too.

For example, the above verse talks of "disloyalty" by women. But there is no verse about what should be done if husbands prove disloyal and are engaged in extramarital relationships. Does this not mean that women too must first try to resolve the issue within their houses, first by admonishing them, second by refusing sex and last by seeking intervention of the other members in the family (like fathers and elder brothers) who can even use physical assault as means to reform them? This last one is necessary as women are normally not physically strong enough to beat their husbands and if they do so it may invite greater violence.

I have however heard cases where women actually beat their husbands (sometimes even by shoes) for their misdemeanours like drinking, gambling, etc. Similarly, the Quran talks of "80 lashes" for those men who label false allegations of disloyalty on their wives. (Surah Nur) But what if the wives label false allegations against men? As the underlying principle is that men and women committing equal crimes under similar circumstances must receive similar punishments, it applies that women must also be given 80 lashes if they make unsubstantiated allegations against their husbands or other men.

Wife beating allowed in the Quran is surely different from wife battering that is routinely seen in the world, more so in the Western societies. In the Quran, mild beating is allowed only in cases of disloyalty for the purpose of reforming women within the family and not let others know about their misbehaviours. In the modern world, wife battering is mostly the result of silencing them into submission, alcohol and other addictions and to continue their own extramarital affairs. It is almost always aimed at causing them pain or taking revenge rather than reforming them. Islam creates social conditions where women do not face problems of physical security on account of the drinking, gambling and other bad habits of their husbands. It is also to be stressed here that market forces have used the issues of wife beating and child beating for their own selfish ends.

It is clear that if women are battered for no fault of theirs or they are battered more than what is permissible, they can always seek revenge from the court. The Islamic court will have to use the principle of "punishment equal to the crime" in order to fulfil the demands of justice.

Dr. Javed Jamil is a Chairman of International Centre for Applied Islamics, India. His columns regularly appear at and now it will appear at this blog and eventually he will have a blog of his own at the new upcoming website

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Accomodating differencs

Accommodating the Views of Different Muslim Groups

All Schools of thought and all understanding of Qur'aan and Sunnah are respected and are part of the discussion of this group; The World Muslim Congress. God is the master of the day of judgment.

Whoever claims to be a Muslim is a Muslim and that is all there is to it. Our relationship with God, Prophet, Imams or others is personal, how we pray is really one's own responsibility, as that is the person who is answerable to his deeds and no oneelse is.

Alan Border forwarded the following piece.

Mike Ghouse

“ The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy.”(Al-Qur'an, 49:10 (Al-Hujraat [The Private Apartments, The Inner Apartments])Accommodating the Views of Different Muslim Groups

QuestionOn our campus there is a large population of Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi Muslims. As the president of the Muslim Students Organization [MSO], I and the board of executives are responsible for making sure our group is the voice of all Muslim students on the campus, which means that we must represent all groups equally and fairly, giving them a platform to address Muslims and non-Muslims on campus to their particular beliefs, whether we agree with them or not. For example, sometime back a Sufi music concert was held to raise money for the tsunami victims that was sponsored by our group. Some people in the Sunni community are having a problem with this because they are saying that such things are against the Qur'an and the Sunnah. While I agree with some of their arguments, the MSO is a place where all kinds of Muslims may express their views and particular practices (cultural, religious or otherwise) to the University community. In addition, as a student organization funded by our university, we are bound by the university rules which bar discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, or religious belief. Please comment.

AnswerIt has always been the practice of distinguished and leading scholars to accommodate views that differ with their own. They all took the attitude that, to the best of their belief and knowledge, their own view on any particular issue was correct, but they never excluded the possibility that they could be wrong. Nor did they think that any view that differed with their own was inevitably incorrect. They admitted that it could be correct. This is the proper scholarly attitude. All this naturally applies to matters of detail. As for essential beliefs, there is no difference among Muslims.

We will be certainly well advised to follow in their footsteps and accept differences of views as normal. This means that in working within the rules of your university, the Muslim Students Organization will be only following a great principle of Islamic scholarship, where other people are welcome to express their views and argue their point. You should encourage such an attitude as much as possible. God quotes in the Qur'an the arguments put by unbelievers in defense of their attitude. Why should any Muslim suppress the views of a fellow believer?

Besides when the question at issue is one of detail, it does not matter how far we differ. Take the issue of music as an example, which has caused a problem for your organization. I realize that some scholars today strongly believe that it is forbidden in Islam. I do not share this view as I consider that the evidence put in support of it to be poor. I recently read a well-argued piece of research in which the author, who is undoubtedly a well-versed scholar, suggests that music is a Sunnah. Of course the two views are diametrically opposed. In between there may be many different views, ranging from opposition to encouragement. I do not propose to compare these views or discuss them at any length. I merely wish to point out that as music is a question of detail, adopting a mistaken view on it will not affect a person's belief. The maximum that could happen is that the holder of a wrong view will be judged by God to have committed a genuine mistake that He may be pleased to forgive.

Woman re-interprets Qur’aan

Woman re-interprets Qur’aan
Mike Ghouse March 24, 2007

Sometimes, our faithfulness to our understanding of anything in life makes us eager to reject any other expression, and prevents us from enlightening ourselves. We assume that seeing a different point of view is being disloyal, it is not. Islam is consistent in advising us to learn, whether from Romans or going as far away as China, we have to learn and we have to be open to learning.

First of all, we welcome this new additional translation of Qur'aan. In the spirit of learning, and learning well, the alternatives available to us will simply open up our up minds to understand the concept of Justness in God's word in every aspect of life.

There was a time when most of the non-Arabic speaking Muslims (>75%) relied on translation in English or other languages, what was given to us, was all we knew. We did not know how close the translations reflected the values of Qur'aan, but that was the only source available to us one time. We also had translations where due to the inadequate comprehension of the audience, certain words were injected into the translations to explain the meaning of the terms. People have taken that literally and some people have been hurt with these unintended wrong translations. (Apology and Qur'aan translations power point presentations at )

Indeed, when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made the knowledge available to every human through the Qur'aan, he meant for every one to read and understand it. It was common for the Prophet SAW to ask the Sahaba to think a bit before he told them the actual meaning of anything. He sometimes used to initiate a conversation by asking a question "Do you know what xyz means?" It was simply a means of encouraging the Sahaba to think.

Thanks to the variations in translations, it shows us the limitations of human understanding, and challenges us to strive to grasp the whole truth. What was hitherto cut and dry is no more. May be it is Allah's hint to us to get closer to understanding the truth. The monopolies would be gone and focus would be on the essence rather than literal meaning. Presently the 14 translations are available at and Insha Allah it will be at soon.

Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar offers another meaning to the translation of the Arabic word "Idrib," traditionally translated as "beat," which has been mis-understood and abused over the centuries by men who would be abusive any way, whether they are Muslim or not. "Why choose to interpret the word as 'to beat' when it can also mean 'to go away' - either one from the other, may be it meant separation as a process of re-evaluation.

Insha Allah, I am working on presenting a paper on the myth of "wife beating" to our scholars and Imams to review, and if it is consistent with the essence of Qur'aan and if they concur, it will be a relief to the Muslim women around the world consistent with God being a just God.

I am optimistic with this particular development and welcome this new translation, even if it has a few flaws, it would wash off by the 15 other translations, but will take us closer to the essence.

Jazak Allah Khair
Mike Ghouse

Woman re-interprets Koran with feminist view

By Manuela Badawy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new English-language interpretation of the Muslim Holy book the Koran challenges the use of words that feminists say have been used to justify the abuse of Islamic women.

The new version, translated by an Iranian-American, will be published in April and comes after Muslim feminists from around the world gathered in New York last November and vowed to create the first women's council to interpret the Koran and make the religion more friendly toward women.

In the new book, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, a former lecturer on Islam at the University of Chicago, challenges the translation of the Arab word "idrib," traditionally translated as "beat," which feminists say has been used to justify abuse of women.

"Why choose to interpret the word as 'to beat' when it can also mean 'to go away'," she writes in the introduction to the new book.

The passage is generally translated: "And as for those women whose ill will you have reason to fear, admonish them; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek to harm them. Behold, God is indeed most high, great!"

Instead, Bakhtiar suggests "Husbands at that point should submit to God, let God handle it -- go away from them and let God work His Will instead of a human being inflicting pain and suffering on another human being in the Name of God."

Some Muslims said the new interpretation strayed from the original. Omar Abu-Namous, imam at the New York Islamic Cultural Center Mosque, questioned Bakhtiar's interpretation.

"There is nothing to stop a woman from translating the Holy Koran. The translator should have good command of the Arabic language in order to convey it and translate it into other languages. I don't know if Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar has good command of Arabic," Imam Abu-Namous said.

"Maybe she is depending on other translations, not on the original," he said.


Bakhtiar defended her work, telling Reuters she translated from the Arabic text and that she "reads and knows classical Arabic."

The New York imam also said the passage she is challenging speaks of when a woman wants a divorce, and only allows a man to "hit his wife, according to the Prophet, with a 'miswak,'" or a twig of a pencil's length, on her hand.

Arabic Language Professor at the American University in Cairo Siham Serry said her interpretation of the word "idrib," was "to push away," similar but slightly different from Bakhtiar's "to go away."

She said she agrees with the imam that 'miswak' means twig and that the Koran does not encourage the harm of women. But she also said that men can interpret that passage to justify their own behavior.

"How can you hurt someone by hitting her with a very small, short and weak thing?" she asked by telephone from Cairo. "But sometimes the interpretation of the Koran is according to men, and sometimes they try to humiliate the woman."

Bakhtiar writes in the book that she found a lack of internal consistency in previous English translations, and found little attention given to the woman's point of view.

In other changes to the text, she cites the most accurate translation of the word traditionally translated to mean "infidel" as "ungrateful."

And she uses "God" instead of "Allah," saying that God is the universal English term.

Bakhtiar has been schooled in Sufism which includes both the Shia and Sunni points of view. As an adult, she lived nine years in a Shia community in Iran and has lived in a Sunni community in Chicago for the past 15 years.

"While I understand the positions of each group, I do not represent any specific one as I find living in America makes it difficult enough to be a Muslim, much less to choose to follow one sect or another," she writes.

The new text is published by Islamic specialty bookseller Kazi Publications, which has a store in Chicago and online


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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.