One of the thornier issues that conservative Muslims who live in liberal democracies face is the question of navigating a relationship between Shariah and the laws of the land where they live. On the one hand, traditional Muslims believe in a Divine Law that dictates not only their rituals of worship, but also many aspects of their regular life, such as business transactions and family issues. On the other hand, for Muslims living as minorities in Western lands, the laws of the land typically also regulate these aspects of life.

In many areas, the two laws do not actually clash, and hence pose no problem at all. If the Divine Law permits legislation in a specific areas, then of course no conflict can possibly exist.  Examples of this include traffic laws and most civic regulations (such as zoning and housing ordinances). A simple and valid argument can be made that in such areas, Muslims are obliged to uphold the law of the land since they have an agreement and mutually understood relationship with the authorities. A clash can also be avoided where both laws can simultaneously be applied, without compromising either. In Western democracies, the majority of our personal religious laws can easily be accommodated within the confines of secular law. So, for example, secular law does not dictate what food items I choose to eat and abstain from; it does not dictate how I worship my God; and it does not dictate who or how I choose to marry. A valid Islamic marriage contract might require some conditions that the law of the land does not, but the key point is that neither does an Islamic marriage contract contradict existing legal laws, nor do the legal laws in any way restrict the conditions of an Islamic marriage.

From the above examples, it is obvious that the vast majority of one's personal religious laws can easily fit into and be accommodated by the laws of any secular democracy, and it is for this reason that many Muslims who come from religiously repressive regimes actually prefer to live in non-Muslim lands.

On the flip side of the coin, we also understand that if man-made laws theoretically commanded us to disobey the laws of God, we would not be obliged to follow such a law, and, depending on specific circumstances, perhaps  would be required to immigrate to other lands where we would have the religious freedom to practice our faith. For example, if a country passed a law that required Muslims to bow to an idol or to drink alcohol, obviously Muslims would not be permitted to follow that law unless their very lives were threatened or other extenuating circumstances existed.

There are many situations, however, that fall in between these two extremes. It is here where navigation between these two laws becomes tricky, and a number of key theological, moral and legal dilemmas are presented.

Practicing Muslims many times overlook that they are not alone in this dilemma. We need to realize that the situation in which we find ourselves is not much different from that of Orthodox Jews, or, to a certain extent, conservative Christians. These other groups also believe in a moral law that originates from a Divine Being, and would not compromise what they believe is God's law for man-made law.

The perfect example to illustrate this point is the extremely contentious issue of abortion. Most conservative Christians, of all denominations, view abortion as being nothing less than murder itself. If such Christians are told that the law of the land allows it, or that the Supreme Court itself has ruled in favor of it, they would not acknowledge the moral right of the Supreme Court to legislate in such a manner. When one Christian ministry was asked about which law should be followed: God's Law or man's law, it responded:

The simple answer is that Christians are to obey human law except where that human law violates God's Law.  Our supreme duty is to obey God.  Since God tells us to also obey human laws, we should.  But, when they come in conflict, we are to “obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).

Another Christian site, which advertises that it answers questions based upon the Bible, states that it is permissible to disobey governmental authorities “…if they demand that we disobey something God has commanded.” Such sentiment is even more pronounced amongst Orthodox Jews, who, like Muslims, have a highly complex and intricate legal system that they consider divine (called the halacha). A contemporary Jewish Rabbi writes, in response to a legal verdict regarding copyright laws, that “…the issue of interaction between halacha and civil law is complex. Indeed, there are times when the civil law, in conflict with the halacha, is not binding.” Even a popular kosher company has as its motto the tongue-in-cheek phrase, 'We answer to a Higher Authority'. The Law of God, for all three religions, is of course ultimately supreme, and cannot be compared to the laws of men.

While such sentiments might be common to all religious people who believe in Divine Law, it is very easy for xenophobes and fear-mongers to misrepresent such feelings, and stir up public sentiment against such people. This fear-mongering becomes even more palpable when it is directed against a minority group that is already viewed as a potential fifth-column. A generation ago, mainstream America, which is predominantly Protestant, was worried that the election of John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, would be problematic because of his religious affiliations. Many were worried that  he would take direct orders from the Papacy in Rome and stealthily catholicize the nation. Even in our era, when a member of the Kennedy family was refused communion by a Catholic priest because of his views on abortion, many people viewed this as an attempt to increase the presence of Catholic pressure in American politics.

This country of America was founded upon the basic principle of not wishing to interfere in personal religious laws, and of allowing those who chose to live here the ultimate freedom to morally oppose the decisions of its government and courts if they chose to do so, regardless of whether that disagreement stemmed from religious sentiment or other sources. The founders of this country did not wish to challenges its citizens' loyalties – they did not wish to ask whether a citizen loved his Creator more or his country more. In short, they did not wish to make the new republic a totalitarian regime.

Yet, it is indeed ironic that most of those who identify with the political right and claim to champion the cause of America are actually the most active in opposing the principles and vision of the Founding Fathers. For such narrow-minded bigots, an American can only be an American if he happens to agree whole-heartedly with what they themselves have chosen to label as 'American values'.

For many Muslims, the exact same sentiments that conservative Christians and Jews have about the law of God also ring true. No man has the right to morally challenge what God has decreed to be good and evil, and if someone does so, it should come as little surprise that religious people will always choose the law of God over the law of man. There is nothing wrong or illegal in saying this – this is quintessential manifestation of being American, even if certain agencies with well-known agendas try to spin it otherwise.

Fear-mongering and spin-jobs aside, the question that arises for us as Muslims is: how should we interact with the law of the land around us in areas where a conflict with our own Shariah actually exists? Examples of this include laws pertaining to the penal system, child-care, and marriage and divorce – how should Muslim minorities interact with such laws in their daily lives?

There are no simple answers, and in this brief blog post I do not even claim to offer one! Rather, what I wish to do is jumpstart the discussion, and present background information regarding the primary models that currently exist amongst serious Muslim intellectuals. Knowledge of the current models is a necessary precondition for further dialogue, and, based on such knowledge, we can either further refine one of them or devise alternative models.

There is, of course, the rather basic and straightforward model of 'Islamic law' versus 'jahili law', which was championed and popularized by both Abu al-`Ala al-Mawdudi (d. 1979) and Syed Qutb (d. 1966). Such a model, deriving from understandings of 5:45, posits that any law that is not Shariah is a law of jahiliyya ('ignorance'). Thus, for those who subscribe to this view, democracy, socialism, communism, and any other –ism is instantaneously deemed as being a manifestation of disbelief. Allah alone has the right of judgment (called hakimyyah), and anyone who takes this right and abuses it has in fact attempted to challenge one of the Attributes of the Divine, and hence fallen into kufr.

While this straightforward, binary differentiation might be extremely appealing and easy to comprehend, the way that it has been presented in the writings of these two thinkers has potential problems as well. It is essential to take into account  not only the historical and intellectual milieu in which these activists lived (a time when the very foundations of the Shariah were being questioned and rejected), but also the audience they had in mind (Muslims living in Muslim-majority lands, some of which claimed to be Islamic in nature). To read such works without these factors in mind has many potential problems.

Firstly, such a simplistic dichotomy makes it very easy for some overzealous Muslims to claim that any hint of cooperation with jahili laws expels one from Islam. In other words, while the concept of hakimiyyah has a legitimate basis to it, unless one understands and teaches it in a more nuanced fashion, it is extremely tempting to jump into the danger of takfir – claiming all those who oppose one's understanding of Shariah are kafirs because they have rejected hakimiyyah. This is extremely problematic, especially in light of the fact that no Muslim country is ruled exclusively by the laws of the Shariah. (As just one example, no Muslim country has yet resolved the dilemma of being connected to international trade systems and worldwide financial networks while avoiding interest – and once a country's banks operate in interest, Shariah courts no longer can have jurisdiction over them, which then leads to even more commercial transactions and financial dealings that take place beyond the pale of the Shariah). So what, then, is the verdict on pretty much all Muslim lands and their rulers? Surely one cannot make the rather grandiose and clearly Kharijite claim that they are all kafirs?

Such a danger of takfir, unfortunately, is not a theoretical one. Historically, a number of political movements have formed in the last few decades on the basic premise of takfir. The most dramatic of these movements was the Jama`at al-Takfir wa-l-hijra, which broke away from the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen) in the 1960s. It gained prominence in 1977 when it kidnapped the erudite scholar and minister of Islamic Affairs in Egypt, Dr. Muhammad al-Dhahabi, from his home in front of his family, and eventually executed him. Even though the scholar was a well-known Islamic figure, the Jama`at viewed him as being an apostate because he co-operated with the Egyptian government as a Minister of Islamic Affairs. And since there were only two systems, the system of Islam and the system of jahiliyya, being on the side of the Egyptian government, in any fashion, automatically implied for the Jama`at that Dr. al-Dhahabi was on the side of kufr. This group was also linked with the assassination of Anwar Sadat, and many researchers claim that Ayman al-Zawahiri, of al-Qaeda fame, was strongly influenced by them as well.

Whether either Qutb or Mawdudi would have actually agreed with these extremist understandings is something about which modern researchers can only theorize. Both of these figures died before the modern jihadist movements took root. However, it must be pointed out that the bulk of both Qutb's and Mawdudi's followers (meaning the modern movements of the 'Ikhwan al-Muslimeen and the 'Jamat-e-Islami') have eschewed both takfiri tendencies and militant methodologies, and have instead opted for mainstream political participation and effecting change in public opinion via educational activities.

The second major problem with these explanations of Qutb and Mawdudi, in my opinion, is that they presents 'democracy' and other '-isms' as a complete and unanimously agreed-upon 'whole'. It is as if the word only has one meaning, one system, one philosophy regardless of who uses it, or where it is used. Hence, if someone were to take even parts of such a system and adopt it for use within some type of Islamic model, it would be easy for simplistic followers to label such a model as being jahili. Yet, there are many intellectuals who remain committed to the tradition of Islam and also believe that some aspects of democracy can be adopted. How is it un-Islamic, for example, to allow people living in an ideal Islamic state to vote for a specific candidate to be on a legislative body (call it a Parliament) that decides the affairs of the land in areas that the Shariah does not legislate? Even if classical scholars did not devise such a method, is that grounds enough to reject it?

The third problem with the binary division given by Qutb and Mawdudi is that it fails to provide a realistic framework for Muslim minorities who live in liberal, secular democracies. In other words, even if Qutb and Mawdudi hold the entire system of man-made laws to be jahili, what does that actually mean for Muslims living in America who needs to resort to the local courts or are otherwise under the jurisdiction of such laws? Does it mean that they are all kafirs merely for living here (and some extremists have argued this)? Or would they only be kafir if they resorted to local courts (yet another opinion held by some)? In their defense, it can be argued that neither Qutb nor Mawdudi were writing for these minorities in the first place, and were directing their writings to Muslims and countries that claimed to rule by Islamic Law. Be that as it may, the fact remains that such an understanding of a 'God's law' versus 'man's law' remains a theoretical division that does not manifest itself in practical means to the Muslim living under a man-made system of government.

To put this in realistic terms, suppose a Muslim has been the victim of a robbery or murder. What should the victim (or the heirs of the victim in the case of the latter) do? Even if the courts successfully prosecute the robber or murderer, the 'justice' meted out by the government will not be the same as the penalty dictated by the Shariah (let us assume for this example that we know for a fact that the murderer will not get the death penalty). So, should a Muslim simply suffer in silence, (claiming, for example, that all man-made laws are jahili and hence cannot be used?), or should a Muslim willingly prosecute the offenders, knowing full well that the punishment will not be one legislated by God? In another, more common example, what should a woman do who has legitimate grounds for a divorce but whose husband is unwilling to give her an Islamic one? Even if she gets an Islamic divorce from a 'Shariah Council' (in those lands where such councils exist), local courts would not recognize such a divorce. So does a non-Muslim court ever have any jurisdiction over an Islamic nikah? These are just some examples; hundreds of more complex issues can easily be mentioned here.

Much work is being done by our modern scholars, and much remains to be done, regarding how practicing Muslims can best live in liberal democracies. And its not just Muslims who are doing this research – quite a few non-Muslim political scientists are also curious about this issue. One researcher in this field is Professor Andrew March, of Yale University (disclaimer: he is a friend of mine as well). Oxford University Press recently published his PhD dissertation (which was, not surprisingly, done at Oxford, and for which Tariq Ramadan was one of the readers). It is entitled Islam and Liberal Citizenship: The Search for an Overlapping Consensus. (I encourage this work to all those who are interested in this subject). In addition to his thesis, Prof. March has also written a number of key articles regarding the issue of Muslims living as minorities in Western lands. March bases much of his work on John Rawls, the most famous liberal political legal theorist of our era. Rawls' writings, and in particular his theories of 'overlapping consensus' and 'public reason', form the basis of much of the modern discourse that dominates liberal political thought. Most of the following paragraphs are taken (with kind permission) from Andrew March's writings.

Prof. March states that modern Sunni scholars have given several models for Muslims living in non-Muslim lands. Primary amongst them are:

1) The Thin Social Contract Model. Under this model, a Muslim views himself as being a loyal resident alien of the governing system, legally obliged to uphold its laws. This model posits that when the wider community (in our case, the American Constitution) guarantees certain rights of security and religious freedom, and when Muslims have agreed to take advantage of these rights, in return they will consent to obey laws even if they do not derive from Islamic principles.

This model is the dominant discourse amongst modern Sunni scholars, such as Yusuf Qardawi and Abdullah ibn Bayyah; they argue that Muslims are legally obliged to obey the laws of the land as long as these laws don't require them to do something haram, because they have agreed to do so in return for rights and privileges granted to them.  And this is all in accordance with the Prophetic hadith, “Muslims must abide by their conditions” [Abu Dawud].

2) The Internal Retreat Model. This model can be considered a subset of the previous one, but with a caveat. In this model, the religious community tacitly accepts the existence of the wider secular community, but directs all of its powers and energies to forming a type of insular 'bubble' from within which it seeks to maximize reliance upon its own religious laws. Typically, those who subscribe to this model would try their best to internally regulate their matters and disputes, without appealing to the wider legal system (for example, in matters of marriage, divorce and child custody). This model of 'partial citizenship' is adopted by the Amish Christians, the Haredim Jews, and some fundamentalist Mormon communities, and was the model espoused by the Salafi movement in the 90's.

The major problem with this model is that, due to its insular nature, it makes life extremely difficult for those who choose to follow it. This also explains the rather minority appeal that such a model holds amongst various groups. Lastly, it can also be said that no matter how 'insular' a community wishes to become, it is almost impossible to live a completely sheltered life, and what invariably ends up happening with most of this subset is a 'pick-and-choose' approach where certain elements (for example, dress codes) are very highly emphasized, but others (for example, opening bank accounts and paying taxes) are explained away as being 'necessary evils'.

3) The Self-Governance Model. This model relies on the situation where the larger governing body has legally delegated authority to each religious community to resolve specific issues. [Due to the Constitution, this model would not function in America]. For example, in India and Israel (and one can add, in classical Islamic law), each religious community operates semi-autonomously to resolve its own disputes in specific, limited areas (primarily family issues and disputes of inheritance).  While some Muslims in Western lands aspire to such a model and wish to petition governments to adopt it, it seems highly unlikely (and, in the case of America, constitutionally impossible) for this to ever happen.

4) The Temporary Modus Vivendi Model. 'Modus Vivendi' is simply a Latin way of saying 'agreeing to disagree' or, basically, agreeing to live with each other despite the fact that the two parties might not see eye to eye in all areas of life.  While this basic philosophy is inherent in all of the three preceding models, this fourth model envisions such a relationship as a temporary one, and aspires to somehow bring about conditions that would eventually allow for religious-based legislation to become dominant. In other words, in this model, religious constituents are not happy with status quo even if they accept it; while they do not seek to change matters via violent or militant means, they do strive from within the system to change laws to conform to their religious beliefs. Most Evangelical Christians who are involved in politics would  come under this model. Efforts to mobilize religious people to vote against gay marriages are a perfect example of this model, but in this model it's not just one or two issues that are of concern, but rather the entire legal structure.

The existence of Muslim groups in America that advocate such teachings is debatable. While many Islamophobes claim that this is the agenda of all mainstream groups (!!), such claims are known to be preposterous by those who are intimately aware of these groups.  Personally, I have never come across any group in North America that aspires for such unrealistic and naïve goals. In other lectures, I have mentioned that I do not believe the Shariah even asks Muslims to have such goals, and I mentioned the case of the Muslims of Abyssinia, in which it is patently clear that they did not have political aspirations to dominate the Kingdom of Najashi.

However, if such a group were to exist, one must look at their tactics and methodologies. If they are peaceful and law-abiding, and wish to create such a demographic majority via preaching and teaching, they would not be any different from any Christian group that attempts to do the same. In fact, they would not be different from any lobbying group that seeks to educate citizens and convert them to a specific course of action. Only if such a group were to espouse illegal tactics should they be banned or prosecuted.

5) The Thicker Social Contract Model. This is the model for which Prof. Andrew March himself argues (for those who are interested, it is based on Rawl's concept of 'Overlapping Consensus'). In this model, religious constituents would acknowledge and agree that while the existing system of government is not divine, it is sufficiently just or acceptably legitimate in many areas, and thus may be actively endorsed. March argues that we need to look at Western law in light of Islamic maqasid: if Western law is sufficiently protective of the five main daruriyat (i.e., the essential goals of the Shariah, which are: protection of religion, life, intellect, property, and progeny), Muslims should in return endorse the system based on religious grounds. This model would not simply be an understanding to abide by an agreement, but would instead actively promote a level of participation and a degree of enthusiasm, and even grant a measure of legitimacy that would be absent from the 'Thin Social Contract' model.

To give an example, under this model, if a Muslim is murdered, the family should feel religiously motivated to pursue legal action and prosecute the criminal to the maximum possible capacity, even if the death penalty is not inflicted. The fact that murder is a crime, and a murderer is punished, is something that is in complete harmony with the goals (maqasid) of the Shariah, even if the actual means to achieve them (i.e., the actual punishment meted out to the murderer) differ.

These five models are by no means the only models present. However, they do represent a healthy cross-section of ideas and trends found amongst Muslims as they struggle to find meaningful interpretations in reconciling their beliefs with the environment in which they find themselves in.

The first three models, in my opinion, each have their merits and problems (but of course, the third one would not be feasible in any Western liberal democracy). Between these, as of yet most Muslims (including myself) have been arguing from the 'Thin Social Contract' model, but it has its problems as well (and I plan to discuss some of them in future articles).

The fourth one is the one that most right-wing Islamophobes love to trumpet as being the 'hidden Muslim agenda', and while I personally do not subscribe to it (and in fact am not supportive of it), at the same time I am also opposed to the smear campaign that is directed against it. As long as Muslim groups follow legal tactics and proceed from within the confines of the law to convince people of the veracity of their moral positions, they are no different from Christian groups that attempt to do the same.

The fifth model is quite a novel one, and I feel hesitant to comment on it at this stage, for it does require some thought and research. Additionally, while the model works for some areas of law (e.g., prosecuting criminals), it becomes more difficult to extrapolate to other areas of law (e.g., rulings pertaining to divorce).

Muslims who believe in a Divine Law will face many of the same challenges that people of other religions face as they carve their way into the secular societies where they live. As with most of these topics that I discuss, while I do not claim to offer definitive answers, I do claim that we as a community must begin frank dialogue, and be prepared to ask some very tough questions, if we wish to move forward with our faith and lead productive lives in this world while we prepare ourselves for the next.

Such intricate problems and complicated situations cannot be resolved by a simple fatwa from an erudite scholar in a far away land. In fact, it cannot be resolved solely by religious scholars in the first place, even those who are living amongst us and fully aware of the ramifications of any fatwa they give. Rather, such a crucial situation – which in essence forms the religious basis and posits a practical methodology for our residing in these lands – requires the cooperation of numerous different specialists, both in the sciences of the Shariah (some of whom might belong to theological groups different than our own, for in such matters, many abstract theological differences play no role whatsoever) and in various secular disciplines (some of whom might even be of other faiths, for we should benefit from the wisdom of all, regardless of religion). Only with such a comprehensive effort, and with the cooperation of specialists of many disciplines, will we be able to formulate a comprehensive and practical solution – one that remains faithful to our orthodox tradition and also takes into account the practical realities of the world that we live in.

154 Responses

  1. Danish Hasan

    jazakAllahu khayran shaykh for the presentation of this topic and your thoughts on these models.

    A few things I wanted to mention or inquire about:

    1) We understand that we have a mutual unwritten contract (for the most part) with this country that by living here in exchange for the securities and rights that we enjoy, we agree to obey its laws. What would be the result of these rights and securities not being granted by the government, or if the government fails to live up to these rights and securities? Would the individual or group that has lost these securities and rights be free from obeying the laws of this country?

    2) Going back to the models mentioned. Hypothetically speaking it is possible to establish the #2 and #3 model plus some more, if there happened to be a time where Muslims became the overwhelming majority in one state in the US. As radical as this may sound, there are states in the US whose constitutions allow them to secede from the Union. Last I read, our state (TX) is one of them. I am not suggesting that there be a concerted effort to achieve such a statistic in a single state, but if that were to happen, forget all these models, even applying the shari’ah would be a possibility.

    3) Do Muslims living in non-muslim lands still bear the responsibility of applying the rules of shari’ah if they are not in power to begin with?

    jazakAllahu khayran
    Looking forward for your insight

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    • mofw

      Question #1 was answered in the article:

      … if man-made laws theoretically commanded us to disobey the laws of God, we would not be obliged to follow such a law, and, depending on specific circumstances, perhaps would be required to immigrate to other lands where we would have the religious freedom to practice our faith.

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      • Danish Hasan

        Perhaps I wasn’t clear in asking my questions…I apologize for that.

        If we say there is a contract between us and the country we live in, if the contract is breached then what are the ramifications of that on us and the country in the way we can approach the issue. What would be permissible for us to do in such cases and what wouldn’t be permissible.

        Ex: if say the US targetted a certain group of muslims to the exclusion of all other muslims and other religions. If they were to break their constitution, laws and regualtions that govern their operation in order to lets say imprison them or assassinate them, woudl this give that group a right to do as they please? Are they no longer bound by this contract? And breaking an unwritten mutually agreed upon contract is too vague and broad and could include many things, and can be left upto the interpretation of each individual or group.

        couldnt think of a good example.

        Allahu’alam

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      • Youssef Chouhoud

        I don’t think your question is one for Sh. Yasir so much as it is for Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau…or, for that matter, Thomas Jefferson. Each had pretty stark and, especially in these times, incendiary comments on a citizen’s rights should a government fail to live up to their end of the bargain. The difficultly for these theorists and for their modern day counterparts is where do you draw the line – when does a government’s action sufficiently register as a breach of the tacit social contract?

        Across America today there are pockets of armed militias with paraphernalia and literature referencing Jefferson’s call to periodic revolution encapsulated in his statement that, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” These guys seem pretty nutty. But, again, where do you draw the line? Lest we forget, Washington, Franklin, Adams, et. al. were all considered terrorists by the government they revolted against.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Salam

      1) This would be dictated by the masalih and mafasid of any choice of option as well. The Quraysh were far from the ideals they themselves espoused, yet the early Muslims of Makkah went about their lives as best as they could, without any confrontation in that stage.

      2) I find this vision more of a daydream than reality!

      3) They would not be responsible for those aspects of the Shariah that are related to the Caliph; however they are still responsible for personal issues that the Shariah dictates.

      Yasir

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      • Baasel

        Shaykh Yasir.

        Allah preserve you.

        Have you ever listened to “Political Revival of the Ummah” by Ali at-Timimi?

        What are your thoughts on that lecture with regards to what you’ve said in this article?

        Kind Regards,

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  2. Haseeb

    excellent Questions Danish

    and jzk Yasir Qadhi for your academic input on such matters, it is a nice and insightful read

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  3. mofw

    It seems that a combination of the different models would be most appropriate.

    For example, I hold that freedom of speech is praiseworthy and should be upheld in this society despite that it may be problematic Islamically. In an ideal Islamic society the limits of free speech should theoretically be constrained by the shariah. The basis by which freedom of speech would be limited in this society is uncertain and can be a means oppression.

    However, in issues that Muslims find problematic and where it is possible to find allies among like-minded Americans the approach of the forth model can be adopted selectively.

    I can think of various scenarios that would require the approach of a different model.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Salam

      Yes, it is possible to have a multi-layered approach, where one would choose a model in some areas, and another model in other areas. So, for example, some are arguing that we follow the first model for our overal political identity, the second for economic affairs (where possible), and the third for personal family laws.

      All of this is up for debate and will be the subject of ongoing discussion for a long time to come!

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      • Humayun Ahmad

        Salamualaikum WaRahmatullahi WaBarakatuh, Shaykh Yasir.

        Shaykh, I used to have a gmail address of yours but cannot find it… i was meaning to e-mail you a question… which me and my peers are trying to get some scholarly opinion & exploration of.

        The issue of VOTING as a Muslim

        1) Is Voting itself Haraam.. Does it constitute Shirk? To make a choice out of a selection of men? (then what of a legitimate Shuraa?)

        2) If Halal – can you briefly discuss conditions… (e.g. the popular question of “voting for the lesser of 2 evils” / voting to PREVENT an evil — even though the rest of the party policies would be generic n similar to other parties… and, ofcourse, unislamic).

        and any other points that would be of benefit to this discussion.

        Jazakallah Khairan.

        please get back to me, Shaykh.

        Your brother,

        Humayun

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      • rosalean

        Asalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa baraakathu,

        What is the Islamic ruling on studying and teaching man made laws? I am aware that democracy is major shirk because it is a government of the people, for the people and by the people thus Allah is insignificant and unimportant, so to believe in democracy is kufr. I was also wondering that, if studying man made laws are permissable then what area of man made law’s can one work in? Can a Muslim work in Human Rights or Immigration Law? I know it would be impossible for a practicing Muslim to work in a man made court, as the laws are man made and so are the judgements yet Allah has told us that He is the only judge and we should only rule by what He has revealed. Therefore I would like to know whether I can actually work in any field of law, whether it be teaching, Human Rights etc. I am extremely confused.

        JazakAllah Khair

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        Salam Alaikum

        There is no categorical answer of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Depends on what your’e studying, and what you wish to do with that knowledge.

        ‘Actions are judged by intentions’.

        Yasir

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  4. mofw

    Only with such a comprehensive effort, and with the cooperation of specialists of many disciplines, will we be able to formulate a comprehensive and practical solution – one that remains faithful to our orthodox tradition and also takes into account the practical realities of the world that we live in.

    I haven’t waited for anyone to make these decisions for me.

    It would perhaps be more instructive to research the nuanced ways that Muslims are currently adapting to these challenges and develop strategies around them. This seems like a more natural approach.

    I suspect that most orthodox Muslims mix between the various models despite their rhetoric.

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  5. Arif Kabir

    In my opinion, I think the the Internal Retreat Model would be the best, and that in long-term strategy, we should work towards building a community that is self-reliant. If the Muslims could have their own academic, social, medical, legal, and commercial services, then the economy of the Muslims would flow within themselves and could be invested in sustaining and generating further Muslim institutions and businesses.

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    • Ibn Mikdad

      Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu,

      That’s a very interesting point of view br. Arif. Economic independence would make it unnecessary to compromise on other issues and would make it easier to obtain independence in those areas as well.

      Wassalaam,

      Mustafa

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    • mofw

      As you describe it, it is impossible. A successful model for the internal retreat would be similar to Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jews.

      You will find that the sacrifices and lifestyle this requires is highly undesirable.

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      • Arif Kabir

        What makes it impossible?

        Is it too much to ask us to develop our own services in the educational (primary, secondary, and higher education), commercial (grocery, retail, corporate), legal (law firms, advocacy groups, lobbyists), medical (clinical, hospital, research) sectors? Our Masaajid would, in turn, be supported by these projects and the community would thrive.

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      • ahmed

        as salaamu alaikum,

        With all due respect, yes it is impossible. Just look at any masjid parking lot during Jumua and see how we treat each other, and how disorganized we are.

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      • Victor Purinton

        If you are talking about a concentration of Muslim-owned or Muslim-run stores, hospitals, etc. in a certain area, then this is not an issue. Examples can be seen here and there throughout the US.

        But are your hospitals going to ask a patient’s religion before treating him? Will your lawyer do the same? Here is where insular can become illegal.

        The laws of the US are built around the principle of the equality of citizens in all rights and obligations. So enclaves can arise naturally and legally, but there can be no “Keep Out” signs.

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      • lost Muslim in the US

        Well, equality is surely not provided to its citizens in health care, or is it?

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      • Abd- Allah

        But are your hospitals going to ask a patient’s religion before treating him? Will your lawyer do the same? Here is where insular can become illegal.

        Who said that a Muslim hospital wouldn’t treat a non-muslim? It being a hospital run by Muslims to treat Muslims doesn’t mean non-muslims aren’t welcomed to go there and get treatment. In general, if it is known to be a Muslim hospital then non-muslims will not go there on their own, not because they are not welcomed there, and even if they still do come, then they are welcome to be treated there if they don’t mind being in a hospital full of beards, hijabis, and niqaabis where all the food is zabiha and the adhan is called and prayer is established, and they have to abide by the (Islamic) rules of the hospital. If a non-muslim would still go to such a hospital for treatment, it means their hearts are open to Islam and we need to do our obligation of passing on the message to them and calling them to Islam. It is a great opportunity to give dawah! So just because the hospital is Muslim run and owned and it caters to the needs of Muslims doesn’t mean it wouldn’t accept non-muslim patients or treat them. It just means that the whole institution is run according to Islamic regulations, and so the majority of the patients are Muslims because it simply caters to their needs in a manner which takes their beliefs and way of life into consideration.

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      • Ibn Mikdad

        Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu,

        Is anything more undesirable than compromising on religion?

        Wassalaam,

        Mustafa

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      • mofw

        The weak are those who seek perpetual retreat.

        This was not the practice of the Muslims who came before us, from the time of the sahaba to today.

        It is part of Islam to engage with the wider world. This extreme isolationism is alien to us.

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      • Arif Kabir

        I fully agree that it is part of Islam to engage with the wider world. However, I do not agree with your term of extreme isolationism because you just catapulted our debate to an extreme, in the same manner that March wants Muslims on the other extreme of the spectrum.

        Using an example, I’m from the Dar-us-Salaam (www.duscommunity.org) community, and the main motto of the whole organization is “Striving to build a model Islamic community”. Now, before you start branding one org/person and then moving on, Alhamdulillah, it’s one of the few communities that is actually practicing to their fullest extent what they are preaching, with a fulltime Islamic preschool, elementary/middle school, and high school, a biweekly regional newspaper, a publishing arm, a medical clinic, a community store, as well as several other projects.

        Now, Br. Ahmed, I didn’t get a shred of proof from you except to walk to my Masjid parking lot. Using that analogy, our parking lot is filled with cars of more than 100 people working for an Islamic institution. Is the idea still far-fetched?

        Br. Mofw, the whole idea behind building a community is so that the Muslims can be united and to present to the West, all those around them, how the Muslims are when they are united and collaborate with each other. The services that my community provides is to actually better the American landscape as a whole because the businesses that prosper with us do not have a “No Non-Muslims allowed sign”, the newspaper promotes understanding and educates others about Islam, and the graduates that leave our school tend to make fruitful contributions in whatever field of study they choose to immerse themselves in.

        The Prophet tried making a base, brought the community together, and lived peacefully with the Jews around them with a stated contract of agreement.

        That is our Sunnah.

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      • amad

        With the current state of Muslim infighting, even in small mosques let alone major communities, this is highly unpractical. While DUS may have survived fracturing into a thousand bits, it is an anamoly. I have lived in a few communities in USA (North and South), and the amount of rancour, jealousy and politics that exists in our communities is hard to beat. There are very few examples of “smooth” operations at individual Islamic centers, far outweighed by bitter fractured communities.

        Just consider the DC Mosque (the one we all know now from its “penalty box”)… two separate jumuahs. Recently, the police was “invited” at a mosque in Houston because “allegedly” the president had called for help to secure release of a kidnapped mosque official!

        My point: let’s be realistic.

        Let’s suppose though that this unrealistic view somehow comes to fruition, would I be even part of Muslimville, a self-sufficient imaginary Muslim community? To be honest, I am not even sure I would. I would want to be part of the wider society, to interact with my non-Muslim coworkers (dawah anyone?), to have the opportunity to be a star in the corporate world, a CEO perhaps, to be part of charitable works affecting all of my country’s inhabitants (not just Muslims), and to have an affect on local and national politics, to name a few. In other words, I don’t want to be insulated and let everyone else decide what ultimately affects me.

        In fact, I think this is one of the weaknesses of DUS. The perceived failure to interact with the wider community has made it susceptible to repeated attacks by media and suspicion by those on the out.

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      • Abd- Allah

        The weak are those who seek perpetual retreat.

        And you think the Muslims currently in the west (or any other place in the world) are strong??

        Extreme engagement in a non-muslim society is just as much alien to us as extreme isolation from that society is!

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      • sabirah

        salam
        there are muslim communities in eastern Europe that live under model 2 – secluded and self governing in the mountains and it appears to be working, however the governments are now going against those communities and aim to integrate them into their societies. These communities are left-overs from communist time and persecution.
        I have read opinions/fatwas though that muslims that are unable to practise their faith (does that include full sharia?) should emigrate to a muslim country however that would burst most muslim countries capacities.

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    • Dawud Israel

      I agree with Arif to a certain extent, but the only way an Internal retreat model would work is if we had already developed the capacity to isolate ourselves, as a successful society in the Muslim world. We haven’t been able to and we still rely heavily and indulge ourselves in the liberties of the West. Unless Muslims can figure it out back home, they won’t have any luck here either. But at the same time, if we already can tolerate and juggle the deen in this society, being isolated isn’t a big jump- really it’s not that much harder than moving to a small town where Muslims can quickly outnumber the non-Muslims. Perhaps with a concentration, Shariah can come to be applied?

      Furthermore, it’s already been done! Its called Islamville, and although its not ideal, its something to study: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9Dr765NMvc

      I think this idea is viable because it doesn’t ‘encroach’ Shariah on the mainstream or force all Americans to understand it (which they really lack the capacity to) but leaves it as something marginal.

      mofw: Isolationism has a legitimate place in Islam. Hadith mention the retreat into the mountains and valleys in times of great fitnah. The deen is dynamic.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      As I said, it has its pros and cons.

      We also need to realize that, just like the Jewish community, Muslims will also find people and groups splitting along these lines. There will be those who opt for one model over others – we will never be able to unite all Muslims of a land behind any one model (well, maybe one day if we can unite them for Eid, perhaps that would trigger more unification ;) ).

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    • Abd- Allah

      I agree with what brother Arif said, it makes complete sense and is the best available option. Those who don’t think this would work is because in their understanding of this concept that we as Muslims have to isolate ourselves from the society that we live in and cease all contact we might have with it, when in reality this is not true at all. This model only means we rely on each other as Muslims for the things that we need, and so we provide most of the services for each other and we depend on other Muslims for our needs rather than depend on the rest of society. An example of this in terms of education is Islamic schools where the students in the school are Muslims and so are the teachers and staff which provides a good work environment for Muslims as well as provide the educational services for Muslims to put their children in, and it is a perfect example of implementing this model on a small scale, we just need to expand this model and apply it to other things like finances, health care, etc. Another example is zabiha restaurants. Muslims providing this service (food) to other Muslims. It works fine. Keep in mind that this does NOT mean that Muslims isolate themselves from society in general or live in a bubble, not to mention that our duty of giving dawah to non-muslims and spreading the message of Islam remains an obligation on us, so we wouldn’t be isolated from society completely, but rather we are only being dependent on each other because we all believe in the same principles and want to abide by the laws of Islam, so it makes it easier for us to deal with each other and fulfill our needs without having to compromise our deen. As brother Arif says that in the long run, this strategy would work great, and we as Muslims would eventually be able to have our own universities, hospitals, residential areas, etc. and there is nothing wrong with that just as these institutions exist today for some of the other religions.

      The way this model was described in the article gave a distorted view of its reality. It does not mean completely isolating ourselves from the society we live in, because we still have an obligation towards that society of calling them to Islam and conveying the message to them, but rather this model means that we rely on each others as Muslims for most of the services and needs we have which will make it easier for us to live in such societies.

      Allah knows best.

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      • Abd- Allah

        With the current state of Muslim infighting

        If we are going to use our current state as an excuse, then why bother doing anything or even try to come up with a model to solve our issues ? We can use that same excuse about the current state of Muslims and how we never agree for almost any model that is proposed.

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  6. abu Rumay-s.a.

    First of all, thank you for taking the time and effort to embark on a very important issue, may Allah ta`ala reward you abundantly.

    I’ll try to read up on the Prof. March’s dissertation to get a better understanding of his assertions, however, based on the summary you provided above, his conclusions seem rather theoretical and perhaps somewhat unsubstantiated (but I will assume that he has done a lot of objective research and statistics to support his position). My comments are as follows;

    1. Thin social contract – he mentions “certain” rights of security, what does the “certain” pertain to, is it exclusive only to Muslims? And he also mentions “loyal resident aliens”? What happened to the term American “citizen”?

    2. Internal retreat Model – he compares the Salafi movement of the 90s to the Amish society in terms of their “insular bubble” behavior. I’m not sure which group of Salafi he is referring to, but I would believe that this is a bit far fetched comparison.

    3. Temp. Modus Vevindi Model – Prof. Mach says: “they do strive from within the system to change laws to conform to their religious beliefs” Isn’t that what most groups in America strive to do? Be it corporations, lobbyists, social activists, etc. Moreover, what is really the problem with wanting change with certain issues that need to be abrogated/superceded? The constitution itself has been changing not only due to precedents, but because of the influence of groups, i.e. abortion, tobbaco, etc.

    4. Thicker social model – While in theory, one could argue that the Western law can be protective of the Maqasid as Sharia, others would argue that the reality is quite different in certain realms. So all those issues of civil liberties, protection of life, etc. would have to be discussed in detail.

    I believe there is a very big gap here between theory and reality pertaining to this topic. I would partly agree with your conclusion that various disciplines need to be engaged for formulate a comprehensive solution. However, I personally believe that the onus is upon our own intellectuals such as yourself, Dr. Mogahed, T. Ramadhan and other reputable scholars to form a model compromising of all the theoretical model, statistics, realities, and details. Also, I do believe that scholars such as Y. Qaradawi, Bin Bayyah, and Al Awdah need to review and have input as they do represent our intellectuals just as we are going to allow non Muslim scholars to add their input ( such as Noah Feldman, Esposito, Constitutional Expert – J. Turley, N. Chomsky, and even politicans such as Ron Paul, Keith Ellison, and other) p.s. Noah Feldman’s extensive piece in the NY times some time back on a related issue : http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/s/sharia_islamic_law/index.html

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    • abu Rumay-s.a.

      i was speed reading and missed the important point that models he described were actually proposed by sunni scholars, that clarifies my 1st question… Also, from a quick view of Professor March’s book, he does use extensive references, however, it appears to be rather academic in style lacking raw statistical data (as perhaps it is not meant to present such info in the 1st place)….

      it is quite interesting that the like of these scholars (Rawls, March, etc.) do not receive the mere attention as others do, say, Bernard Lewis, Samuel Hunnington, Francis Fukayama, and others…go figure!! Maybe they need a better PR manager !?! :)

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      This article is written by me – I merely took the gist of each model that March wrote about and put it in my own words.

      Although Andrew March is a friend, that does not meen I agree with everything he writes! Of course he subscribes to the basic tenets of political liberalism, and is an admirer of Rawls. The perspective he is looking at this issue from is completely different from our own.

      Nonetheless, he has done admirable work, and we need to benefit from such works wherever they come from.

      Yasir

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  7. Siraaj Muhammad

    Salaam alaykum Shaykh Yasir,

    Jazakallaah khayr for sharing that. I had been under the impression that the model we currently lived in was to follow and implement as much as was possible from the shariah as well as work to increase how much could be implemented while respecting the law of the land to the degree that was either tolerable or necessary without granting any sort of religious legitimacy.

    In that sense, the models listed wouldn’t really be models so much as levels, the highest level being a complete shariah society within the west, the lowest being that you would be allowed to practice your religion privately, but where your rights are violated, you’d have to resort to secular courts for restitution (which I know is problematic for some, and would fall into the thicker social contract model).

    I personally believe that because we have so many rights and legal venues available, we needn’t look at the current reality and try to piecemeal a model together – we should first broadly define the legal features of an ideal western muslim community, and while striving to achieve that in broad socio-political daylight, we ought to then examine where we fall short of that ideal and then deal with the situation as it stands, bearing in mind that the answer is temporary, while working to change it so it no longer remains.

    For example, we are not required to drink alcohol, but we are required in most states to take car insurance. Most Muslims will take the bare minimum coverage simply to satisfy the law, but this is unacceptable – this is akin to being told you must take a minimum 1 daily glass of wine for heart health! We need a way out of this transaction, either through a religious exemption (as we and other religious groups receive for slaughtering animals), or through a legally recognized Muslim insurance organization whose transaction is not “gambling” (and investing in non-shariah compliant companies), or some other mechanism. Otherwise, we’re stuck with our daily glass of wine, no one is doing anything about it, and we stop at finding legal precedent to consider our behavior legitimate due to context, when it appears we ought to aspiring to achieve “the next best thing”.

    Siraaj

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    • ummaasiyah

      We had a legal Muslim insurance company in the UK which was as halal as possible, through which I took car insurance, but unfortunately the company went bust (although they are covering me to the end of my policy), because not enough Muslims were supporting it and buying insurance through it. I got the cheapest deal through them and breakdown cover was included. It was a real shame.

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      • Abd- Allah

        We had a legal Muslim insurance company in the UK which was as halal as possible

        What is the point of having the company to begin with? Whether the company is Muslim or not, insurance is not permissible, but because it is required by the law of the land that we live in, we have to buy it, and whether the insurance company we get it from is Muslim or not, it makes no difference. This is one of the cases where Muslims would just get their insurance from any company because if the company was Muslim it wouldn’t make much of a difference. This is just one of the things that no matter what you do you won’t be able to avoid. The law requiring to have auto insurance coverage is even spreading to some of the Muslim countries.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Not all prohibitions are the same; there will be an inevitable level of compromise living here (and, I would add, anywhere else in the world – there is no utopia on Earth, and the evils of the West are merely different than those of the East).

      Having an insurance policy cannot be compared to drinking a glass of wine. I do not know of any reputable scholar who would not allow Muslims in the West to buy basic liability insurance; yet pretty much all of them would tell them they could not drink alcohol even if forced to do so.

      Yasir

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      • Siraaj

        Salaam alaykum Shaykh Yasir,

        I agree that we have no “utopia” here or elsewhere, however, I don’t believe “utopia” has been properly defined to begin with – how can we decide which model or combination of models make sense when really, the vision for Islam in the West is scattered among thinkers, acronym’ed orgs, and masjid shuras?

        About the insurance / alcohol example, the point really wasn’t which is better or worse as it was to illustrate the thought process – while most, if not all scholars will allow basic liability insurance, I don’t believe it’s because by default its permissible, I believe it’s because the law requires it – the default is that it’s forbidden (according to the majority, I’m aware of a few who hold it permissible absolutely):

        http://www.amjaonline.com/en_f_details.php?fid=80141

        So my point remains, when there is either difficulty or prosecution (in the form of fines, not even jail time), we’ve outlined exemptions, but we acknowledge that by default, we’d rather not be involved in this transaction begin with, so how do we (or should we?) reconcile our compromises with these models?

        I guess more to Dawud’s point, we seem to be focused on being Muslims in America rather than Muslims for the akhira. They’re not mutually exclusive, but I guess what I’m saying is that we seem only focused on how things are, and how to weave our way around, whereas we should focus on how we want things to be and then work towards practical solutions to bring it about.

        Siraaj

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      • abu Rumay-s.a.

        but I guess what I’m saying is that we seem only focused on how things are, and how to weave our way around, whereas we should focus on how we want things to be and then work towards practical solutions to bring it about.

        I think The answer lies in your statement! In practice, the quickest and easiest way to bring changes is to work with what is already there and try to work your way up. The top-down method is really impractical, it will consume too much effort and bear little, if any, fruits…
        .

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      • Abd- Allah

        we seem only focused on how things are, and how to weave our way around, whereas we should focus on how we want things to be and then work towards practical solutions to bring it about.

        Well said! Couldn’t agree more.

        We seem to be accepting the way things are and trying to adjust, and although I do agree that changing things doesn’t happen over night and we have to sort of put up with things and deal with what we currently have in order to be able to bring about some change for the better, yet when we adjust and accept the way things are, then we will never even bother trying to change things for the better.

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  8. darthvaider

    Jazak Allah khayr shaykh yasir for the post.

    As mofw mentioned above, I doubt that a single approach can be adopted whole-heartedly (and Allah knows best); each model requires situational awareness, and I’m curious as to whether you (shaykh yasir) feel we need to designate a single model by which we can inform our relationship with the west.

    I’m also curious about your opinion regarding the role of foreign scholars in determine the way forward. Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah and Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi (may Allah preserve them) continue to influence the lives of both western scholars and lay muslims; you rightly mentioned their adoption of the Thin Social Contract Model and subsequent adoption of that model by the broader sunni majority as a result. There are a ton of questions that fall under this one (do we shelve eastern scholars all together? If not, who do we select as being ‘worthy’ of participating in the discussion? If so, then what are the alternatives?)

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    • Abd- Allah

      shelve eastern scholars

      SubhanAllah! Is that how we are supposed to be talking about the great scholars of Islam, the ones who have taught us and all the shuyukh the knowledge that we know, as if they were book that we can just “shelf” whenever we don’t need them. SubhanAllah! Where is our manners with the bearers of this deen. I ask who has taught this deen to the “western scholars” other than the “eastern scholars” ?! Those great scholars of Islam, regardless of where they are, should be consulted about the matters of the Muslims, and whoever calls for the “shelving” of scholars just because they are “eastern” has truly introduced an innovation into Islam where what people say is valued based on where they are in the world. Some arrogance that we have developed just because we live in the west and have higher standards of living and more advanced technology.

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      • darthvaider

        Br. Abd-Allah: Those were my words, not my statement. It was part of a subset of questions that branched from the larger question of the role of eastern scholars in informing which model we adopt and how that affects our relationship with the west. It was not a suggestion, not a put-down (certainly not intended to be one), and the only reason for bringing up their geographic location was because this particular matter, like many others, is heavily impacted by ones socio-cultural context. It was also a question for shaykh yasir :)

        I was also a little surprised by the response. The statement in its context certainly didnt warrant such a passionate reply. Allahu A’alem. Jazak Allah khayr for the reply nonetheless.

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      • Abd- Allah

        I apologize if my comment came off wrong, but it was more so a general one that was triggered by your words rather than actually directed at you personally. My reply was “passionate” just because it is frustrating that there are some Muslims who undermine the scholars and disregard their views on certain issues with the excuse that they are in another country and don’t know the actual situation for us to be able to consult them and take their ruling on the matter. Once we break off from the major scholars (regardless of where they might be) then that would open the door to our misguidance, because only due to arrogance would a person see himself as knowledgeable enough and not in need of the guidance and advice from the major scholars and go about trying to solve the issues independently, while dismissing what the scholars say on a certain issue with the excuse that they live in a different country and so they don’t know the reality of things here in the west. That is what triggered my response because unfortunately there are some Muslims who are calling for that even in subtle ways, and so it has been building up and finally your words triggered me to sort of empty my thoughts. Again I apologize to you if you thought my response was directed towards you specifically, because it was not, but your words were what triggered my response.

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  9. Ibn Masood

    JazakAllahu khayran Sheikh,

    Although it does seem that this article was intellectually ‘tamer’ than some of the previous ones you have written (aside from the investigation into the Ikhwaan and Jamaat), but It seems that was your intent, to introduce and articulate the topic so it can be built upon further.

    I think those fine details that you mentioned for those who find it most convincing to side with the social contract theory are what we should really focus on (e.g. divorce etc).

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  10. Youssef Chouhoud

    Salmualaikum Sh. Yasir,

    I’m not sure if these were your words or Prof. March’s, but the third model is described as one where:

    each religious community operates semi-autonomously to resolve its own disputes in specific, limited areas (primarily family issues and disputes of inheritance)

    While this method is not applied generally in American society, it certainly appears to have piecemeal application. I’m referring here to Beth Din, which has legally recognized and binding powers of arbitration. How then is this model “in the case of America, constitutionally impossible”?

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      The Beth Din is a voluntary self-opted arbitration court that does not and cannot supersede the jurisdiction of local and federal courts. In other words, if a Hasidic lady wished to take her husband to a county court, he could not argue there that she must go to the Beth Din instead. Only when both parties agree can the decisions of the Beth Din be upheld.

      Muslims, Christians, Scientologists, Wiccans and atheists also have this right. Our problem as Muslims is that we as a community still haven’t come together to sustain and maintain effective religious family councils. I am aware that some communities have tried, but on a national level (in America) I believe we have a very, very dire need and no concrete agenda.

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      • Dunia's Stranger

        YQ,

        I think what YC mentioned with regards to arbitration is the potential for it to bind the parties involved. In fact, Beth Din requires all litigants to signing a binding arbitration agreement prior to hearing the case. It would be very difficult for a State or Fed. court to overturn a binding arbitration agreement that was entered into voluntarily between a husband and a wife.

        The key is to ensure that a binding arbitration agreement exists prior to any tension since it might be difficult to get a Muslim to agree to a Muslim arbitration council after the cause of action has accrued. The potential for Muslim arbitration is the greatest when Muslims agree to binding arbitration agreements in conjunction with their acceptance of a contract.

        I really think more Muslims need to become aware of arbitration, especially in the context of family law. Recently, the NJ Supreme Court upheld the validity of binding arbitration agreements pertaining to the determination of child custody (previously, child support and alimony were the tested limits of arbitration).

        The grounds for testing the limit of binding arbitration agreements are ripe and Muslims should utilize it as a means to honorably resolve their legal conflicts.

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      • Yasir Qadhi

        I agree completely with you. That is why I said we (as Muslims) have fallen short of taking advantage of our legal rights to pursue and ensure a better implementation of our religious laws.

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  11. abu Rumay-s.a.

    Prof. March on T. Ramadhan back in late 2007

    http://www.cceia.org/resources/journal/21_4/essays/001.html

    His writings seem a bit “self righteous” and most of his arguments are directed against classical works as well as some of the contemporary scholars which are plainly unfair and problematic for the following reasons:

    1. The works of the earlier scholars which he refers to were mostly circumstantial pertaining to their particular era
    2. Most of those earlier works were the “ijtihad” of those respective scholars which do not necessarily bear weight to the issues of today
    3. His use of Quranic verses to build his arguments are sometimes not presented in a wholistic interpretation of the particular verses
    4. As far as I know, he, like many of the western scholars, have not engaged in deep discussion with contemporary Muslim scholars to further understand the Islamic position to these issues
    5. There seems to be a bit of “apprehension” of admitting the clarifications that T. Ramadhan has presented with a tint of bringing a bit of doubt by mentioning certain “claims” about the other’s past (a bit unprofessional to me)…

    Other than that, I do commend him for trying to bridge a gap and delving into the contemporary Muslim thought…Wish him the best.

    and God, The Exalted, knows best.

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  12. Tariq

    bismillah. “indeed actions are (judged) by their intentions.” read the article, and alhamdolillah the intention seems to shine through. read the comments and this hadith seems like a necessary reminder. may Allah guide me, you, Shaykh Yasir, and all our leaders.

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  13. Nafees

    Assalaamu Alaikum Sheikh Yasir,

    May Allah bless you and give strength to work harder and better for His cause.

    Your article makes many mistakes in representing both Moulana Abu Ala Maududi and Syed Qutb (may Allah bless them both) positions on a number of issues regarding your topic.

    You have over simplified and thus distorted both thinkers’ views on these issues, both individuals’ writings present a significantly more nuanced picture then binary dichotomy you have described.

    I further do not think it helpful to conflate both individuals arguments as one, particularly as both, whilst considered to be included within the broad platform of the Islamic Movement, have distinct and different ideas, each with their own particular emphases.

    It is Syed Qutb that placed much more emphasis the concept of ‘Jahiliyah’ to characterise systems based upon principles that deviate from Islam, Sayd Abu Ala Maududi rarely used that term in this way.

    You have characterised Qutb and Maududi’s thinking as implying that those who participate in democracy are or live in the West are Kaffirs, this is a particularly egregious error to make with reference to Abu Ala Maududi, especially was not anti-democracy and did not at all imply that people living in the West were Kaffirs as you have questioned (Maududi died whilst staying the US, and many of his key students moved to the West to do the work of Da’wah).

    Maududi used the term “Theo-democracy” for Islamic state. He didn’t deny the term ‘democracy’, rather he accepted democracy while this system will work under the sovereignty of Allah. Jamaat-i-Islami participayed in the Pakistani elections system under the leadership of Maudid whilst he was alive.

    You are right in saying that the vast majority Qutb and Maududi’s arguments were focussed on encouraging the establishment of Sharia against the growing trend of secularisation in Muslim majority countries, so then why did you use their arguments as a model for significantly different issue? i.e. the role of Muslim minorities in the West. They are not related – for modern Islamic Movement thinking on this issue Sheikh Yusuf Al Qardawi, Ustadh Khurram Murad and Ustadh Khurshid Ahmed are more relevant thinkers.

    Your characterisations are particularly ironic, as many of the leading Islamic organisations in the West were rooted in or have direct links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami.

    ICNA to ISNA, Islamic Foundation to Islamic Relief, all these organisations and more in the US and UK have been led by individuals rooted in the scholarship of people like Maududi and Imam Hassan al Banna. All these organisations are at the forefront in encouraging Muslims within the West to engage and participate in the wider society, including voting and participating in elections.

    Finally, on a more general note, I find it interesting that you use the term ‘man-made’ rather than ‘secular’. I do not think there is a difference in modern nation states. All Muslims believe that an system of governance based upon the Sharia will have primacy over the secular one but that does not mean that a Muslim cannot live in a secular system – just because you believe that an Islamic system is better does not mean that you cannot live and work within a secular democracy that does not follow all the laws of Allah, nor does it restrict you from working for the betterment of all those around you be they Muslim or non-Muslim.

    Allah Knows Best.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Jazak Allah khayr, but I think you have read too much into the article. I did not make most of the claims that you said I made.

      And yes of course I was being simplistic in describing the two thinkers – that was not the main focus of the article.

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      • Abu Ahmed

        Shaikh Yasir, I just got read this article today because someone reffered it to me for same reason.
        Although that was not the main topic.. the incorrect generalization should be corrected.

        This will also help the audience correct the misconception rooted from your simplistic and incorrect comments. For us who have read, understood and support Islamic Movement…it is uncomfortable and we wished and hope you will read more of Abu’Ala Maudidi and Syed Qutub and do not dwell upon the views you have learned from whose view might have struck in time.

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  14. mahmoud

    As Salaamu Alaikum,

    I have a sort of contemporary question…what is the opinion of Muslims living in the US? Meaning, indirectly funding a government that has (at least) 2 wars in heavily Muslim countries. Some high estimates say that almost 30% of our taxes go to defense spending. Not to mention other immoral and unethical practices or beliefs in this country (or those that it funds, like israel).

    Are we being selfish? Some people can justify it but, others can say that we are being selfish because we want to have a comfortable and wealthy lifestyle…

    Obviously there are examples or Ahlul Dhimmah, those who lived under the protection of the islamic empire but were not muslim. They paid a jizyah tax, but we don’t believe their money went to fund an unjust cause.

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    • Hassan

      I think many scholars have accepted/realized the premise that asking people to do hijrah (or wait for oppurtunity to do hijrah) is waste of valuable time and resource that can be utilized to make things better or favorable. In simpler words, live like you are never going to leave, but ofcourse for any reasone if you leave, you still have contributed something positively.

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  15. thabaat

    be aware english is not my first language.
    Brothers and sisters we know that living in non muslim lands whether you realize or not you will have your faith decreased forget about the layman even the duat and mashaykh the way they think got affected. Because environment makes you. Not everyone does what yasir qadhi does, that is travel to propagate islam but most people day-to day life are involved in dirty corporate political bussiness, and schools. people majority time will be spent for dunya instead of akhira. im not saying america is not allowing to practice some aspect it allows but some aspect it does not like the for example adhan some states yes. I think i heard one imam says those who are thinking to leave the kuffar country should stay and those who are not thinking to leave should leave.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      I believe we already had a longer discussion somewhere on these pages regarding hijra versus residing here. This article is not about that.

      Of course, even if you choose to make ‘hijrah’, the land that you emigrate to will in all likelihood itself be based on secular law in many areas, so we are back to square one :)

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      • thabaat

        It is sad that yasir qadhi thinks living with muslims is no good if their is no sharia in the muslim countries. people want sharia it is only the dictators who r against it. There is no perfect place oh yasir qadhi. Allah did not make this world to be perfect place. You find a place having safety and good standards of living but there is kufr and some places you find eeman but there is starvation or no safety but there is eeman instead of kufr. my point there is no perfect place in this world.
        I just think sometimes you may have melt down views, thats all akhi.

        Im not against u akhi yasir qadhi and i myself benefited from your lectures.

        May Allah give you enormous reward,ameen. May Allah protect u and us from evil eyes, ameen
        Take care my brother in islam yasir qadhi.
        Keep doing the great job inshallah.

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  16. Gohar

    Model 5 sounds like a Mirza Ghulam nocturnal emission about the British occupation of India.

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  17. Abu Zayd

    Contributing to the Dialogue

    This is not a rebuttal, refutation or response to the article by my teacher and shaykh Yasir Qadhi, but an informed contribution to the discussion he helped jumpstart.

    The founders of the contemporary Islamic movements, including Hasan al-Banna, Syed Qutb and Abul A‘la Maududi are among the most misunderstood personalities in modern times- and that doesn’t exclude Muslims. The Al-Qaeda hysteria and the global chaos caused by terrorism, both real and imagined, both individual and state-sponsored, has rendered a sound understanding of Islamic religion, history and thought extremely challenging if not impossible. This preoccupation keeps leading to outlandish conclusions that we have all heard all too often, and attempts to link contemporary violence to Qutb, Maududi, al-Banna, or even to earlier figures such as Muhammad b. Abdulwahhab, Ibn Taymiyyah and others.

    I believe it is more than obvious, from the thoughts, writings and works of these figures, that there is no need to theorize whether they would have agreed with contemporary extremist tendencies or not. The answer is resoundingly clear to all those who have any rudimentary familiarity with their life work.

    The prolific and abundant writings and speeches of Maududi, for instance, clearly reveal his mainstream, gradual approach to Islamic work and his rejection of violence and extremism. His magnum opus al-Jihad fi’l-Islam is a nuanced approach to the understanding of the misunderstood concept of jihad (which badly needs to be translated into English). Incidentally, that book was written ~ 1929 in response to a violent incident which occurred in India involving a misguided Muslim who took the law into his own hands.

    Anyone can read Maududi’s 400-plus work in English- Islamic Law and Constitution and realize that far from presenting a naïve and simplistic view of Islam and kufr, he proposes real and substantial solutions to integrate Islamic law within the fabric of Pakistani law and society, in a gradual and peaceful way.

    His analysis of the Islamic political system is that it is neither an absolute theocracy nor an absolute democracy without limits, but rather, in his own words, “a theo-democracy,” “divine democracy,” or a “Democratic Caliphate.” Incidentally, in that vein he was endorsing what the poet Muhammad Iqbal called “that spiritual democracy which is the ultimate aim of Islam.”

    Maududi is somewhat different from other thinkers in that he was not just a writer, but he founded a socio-political movement within a Muslim nation and led it for a number of decades. As the first leader of the Jamaat e Islami, his approach and methodology was always severely criticized by others, for the simple reason that he advocated full involvement in the political and electoral process of Pakistan. As such, his party was always involved in elections, made alliances with others and even advocated other candidates in many elections (including at one point, even a female- Fatimah Jinnah the sister of Pakistan’s founder!). In fact, the main point of contention that led Dr Israr Ahmad to break from Maududi’s movement was his involvement in the political process and his refusal to engage in extra-systemic means to establish the Islamic order.

    In addition, Maududi came to the United States several times, corresponded regularly with Muslims living here and was generally aware of the Muslim presence in the US. His own son lived here. His correspondence with the convert Maryam Jameelah is well-known and is the subject of several works. His only available video interview in English is addressed to an audience of US Muslims. There are indigenous Imams still alive today (Imam Khalid Griggs comes to mind) who visited him and sought his counsel on affairs relating to American Muslims. His small but concise booklet on the halal meat issue is a response to the zabiha issue brought up by US Muslims!

    The very fact that there were radical offshoots, such as Takfir wa’l-Hijrah, from these movements, shows their mainstream nature. Ascribing these offshoots to the founders of the original movements is as problematic as ascribing deviant sects to mainstream Islam or modern terrorist groups to the way of the Prophet Muhammad, as right-wing ideologues do today.

    The effects of the work and thought of these contemporary personalities is innumerable. It helped shape nearly every Muslim community throughout the world today, especially in the West. The infrastructure and backbone of most communities, masajid and Islamic organizations in the US was laid down by the students of these personalities. It is high time that this aspect of their lives is brought to the forefront and documented by their own students before their work and thought becomes obscured to the dustbins of history.

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    • Abd- Allah

      Qutb declared takfir on all Muslim societies and their rulers because they rule by man made laws, and that made the Muslims living under those governments also kaafirs just because they are “satisfied” with what they were ruling by. Qutb influenced the world in more negative ways than the good that he attempted to do, regardless of his good intentions or love to do good for this deen. Some scholars have declared that the basis of the takfiris in the world today are the teachings of Qutb. May Allah have mercy on Qutb and forgive his sins, for truly he wasn’t a scholar and should have not delved that deep in talking about Islam without learning first from the true scholars of Islam.

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      • Abu Zayd

        Be careful with your words my brother. When you make such sweeping claims and judgments, the burden of proof is upon you. Your first statement is highly debatable.

        Syed Qutb was a writer/caller to the message of Islam, not a qadi/judge issuing legal judgments. Don’t misconstrue his words as such. As for whether his overall work had more positive or negative effects on the world, only Allah alone has the capability and the wisdom to judge these scales.

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      • Abd- Allah

        Akhi have you read his books?? The proof is in his books! Although I wouldn’t suggest that anyone read his books.

        In any case, may Allah forgive his mistakes, but regardless of his good intentions, he should have learned knowledge from the scholars before trying to speak, write about Islam, or call others to it, as Imam Bukhari entitled a chapter in his Sahih, “The door of: Knowledge [is prerequisite] before speaking and action”. May Allah have mercy on Imam Bukhari, what a wise scholar he was.

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      • Abu Zayd

        Generations of laymen, scholars and duat across the globe have been and continue to be inspired by the writings of Syed Qutb to renew their commitment to Allah’s Book and His deen. His works were written in the language of dawah not in the language of fiqh, and they should be taken as such. To take solitary statements and words from his works and treat them as legal fatwas is grossly misrepresenting his ideas and downright unjust. Who the “true scholars of Islam” are, whom he should have turned to first, depends upon what club you belong to.

        The fact is that each one of us is responsible for spreading the truth in whatever capacity possible (be it writing, speaking, conversing, blogging, etc.).

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      • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

        Who the “true scholars of Islam” are, whom he should have turned to first, depends upon what club you belong to.

        I think you misunderstood his point. I don’t think he meant “true” in the sense of adhering to a particular understanding but rather true scholars in the sense of people who were properly schooled in the Islâmic sciences and therefore qualified to teach Islâm.

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      • Yus from the Nati

        I have heard some Muslim intellectuals would agree with you Abu Zayd. I have heard some say that many of his writings were misinterpreted as almost anything can/will be. I remember Imam Yusuf Rios writing about it on his blog awhile back re: Was Syed Qutb really promoting or was a jihadi/takfiri mentality?

        -Let it be known that I have not read any of his work yet, but is on my list إن شاء الله for the future.
        -We should try to be academically objective when reading pieces to keep an open mind/heart about things if we are academically inclined

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      • studentofknowledge

        Don’t you know that Syed Qutb also lived under Jahili rule ? Are you arguing that he made himself a kafir ? Do you believe that a muslim can be ‘satisfied’ with kufr rule ?

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  18. Dawud Israel

    Shaykh Yasir:
    Salam aleikum,

    Jazaka Allahu khayran for this piece. I’m glad you raised up Rawls’ concept because it is being discussed nowadays, but at the same time, knowing the religious demographics of the readers here, I know it will be quickly dismissed! I like it because its a real start. My critique is short: the Maqasid also mentions honor and dignity, which you notably omitted in your discussion, and if a Muslim is to assent to overlapping consensus, is there any guarantee his honor will be preserved, all the more in a society of xenophobia? Even if Rawls’ idea was to work, and dignity was to be given to Muslim, a Muslim’s pride is no easy thing to accommodate as the state of confusion in the world demonstrates. It is so under discussed yet so obvious. And at the same time, it is that same pride that has helped us remain true to who we are.That is a big issue and I believe it is the driving force behind Muslims advocating hijra.

    One other movement is the Bellah’s ‘civil religion‘ which akhi Marc Manley explores at his blog: http://www.manrilla.net/blog/page/2/

    I personally am torn on this issue. In all reality, there is a lot of presumptions I think are totally overlooked.

    How much influence do our scholars actually exercise upon Muslims? It seems the scholars exercise greater influence on non-Muslims than Muslims. So if in the event this riddle is solved, and a plan is layed out for Muslims, will Muslims even choose to apply it? I don’t think we will, especially with the culture mosaic and more so in a land that maximises freedoms unceasingly. Keep in mind, most Muslims voted for the hijab ban in France. Also, looking back at older ‘solutions’ you realize how precarious the state of their succeeding and failing really were and how much they depend on eman and activism which we are already so overburdened with. Today, in the West, solutions are made, they are rarely applied.

    Frankly, I think dealing with this is too much to ask of the Muslim masses. Most Muslims don’t want to deal with this dilemma. Western society is a land where we are constantly flooded, and our capacity to negotiate through this specific problem is shrinking. In many people’s minds, this is of no greater importance now, than it was when Muslims immigrated here, and since we’ve coped with it passively, and grown so used to the comforts, and so easily forgotten the dangers, well, we might as well continue to do so. It’s no coincidence the most practicing Muslims I know, are also the ones who eat the most welfare. And that is why I like Tariq Ramadan’s approach, I think he realizes, their is a limit to the human capacity to deal with all of this, on a day to day level, so his simple approach of encouraging loyalty, respect for the law and at the same time to have confidence and creativity to make Islam a spiritual contribution to the West are more realistic. Abdul Hakim Winters mentions the social changes in religious life; as he converted to Islam, so was the church his family attended, was transformed into a mosque:

    “Faced with England’s desertion of its own identity, may one ask whether an English move to Islam is a farewell to one’s heritage – or its unlooked-for revival. Certainly for me, there has always been a pleasing irony in the fact that the small church on Chapelfield Gardens in Norwich, in which my family worshipped, married and attended Sunday School in my grandparents’ time, has been converted into a mosque. When I visit to pray, am I the last surviving upholder of the family tradition?”

    I think this is how the changes will come. I think most are just biding their time until Islam grows and we can negotiate this all more easily. Otherwise, if we are honest, we are too confused, that we simply do not know what we are striving for. BismAmerica has to be said before Bismillah. It is more characteristic of being Muslim now to grapple endlessly with what it means to be Muslim, than to worry about the akhira. But if we focus on the akhira, perhaps we’ll have some better direction.

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    • abu Rumay-s.a.

      so what you are saying is “let the ship sail as the wind drives it”….passive….better to Hoist your sail when the wind is fair”

      it is really up to the leaders of the community to steer the ship in the right direction, the masses are on board whether they know it or not..

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    • abu Rumay-s.a.

      masha`Allah excellent stuff…Noble ambitions and objective thought process.. Kutty says:

      I believe there is enough in the interaction between the two ideas and the existing doctrinal and conceptual tools within Islamic legal and political theory for us to work with. These three considerations provide us with a workable starting point in theorizing a more tolerable yet robust model of Islamic Constitutionalism. Such a model must be acceptable to both the Western and Islamist perspective. This of course envisions a role for both the moderates among us in the west and the moderates in the Muslim world.

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      • Abd- Allah

        masha`Allah excellent stuff…Noble ambitions and objective thought process.

        Noble ambitions, perhaps, but objective thought process, I do not agree. The theory he proposes would mean that practicing Muslims would have to compromise some aspects of their faith and become more “moderate”.

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      • Yaqeen needed

        “…would mean that practicing Muslims would have to compromise some aspects of their faith and become more “moderate”

        Don’t you get it..thats the whole idea: keep compromising in agradual manner and call it ‘moderate’ Deceptive mechanisms at full throttle

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  19. 'Uthmaan

    JazakAllah Khayr for the insightful article Sheikh.

    I was wondering whether you could clarify something for me. There’s a lot of terminology flying about and I was wondering whether you could explain the following terms for me:

    – Dar al-Islam
    – Dar al-Harb
    – Dar al-Kufr
    – Dar al-Imaanah

    It’s all rather confusing for a layman such as myself. Also, could you direct me to a resource (preferably a written article if there is one?) by yourself regarding the whole ‘Hijrah’ thing?

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      Salam

      These are very important questions. I did hope to write an article about these issues but am waiting for one more important work to read before venturing on that topic.

      In actuality, these terms are fiqh terms which scholars have devised and derived; the Quran and Sunnah does not explicitly divide the world into specific arenas. Some are calling for a re-doing of this categorization in light of the modern world situation. I do think this call is very appropriate.

      We are always battling amongst ourselves regarding the level of reform that needs to be done – this is one such issue. Should we be content with what our scholars of a thousand years ago wrote about this, or are we allowed to rethink and recategorize political realms (without getting labelled a ‘progressive’)? In other words, which areas of our fiqh are grounds for legitimate reform, and which are not? Very big question, and I’m afraid that in the end, each scholar will have his own line to draw…

      Yasir

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  20. ALI

    You will find that establishing iqamat ad deen is wajib wherever you are. Even ‘islamists’ agree to this:

    Hadith 3

    مَنْ خَلَعَ يَدًا مِنْ طَاعَةٍ لَقِىَ اللَّهَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَلاَ حُجَّةَ لَهُ وَمَنْ مَاتَ وَلَيْسَ فِى عُنُقِهِ بَيْعَةٌ مَاتَ مِيتَةً جَاهِلِيَّةً

    Whoever removes his hand from obedience (to the ruler) will meet Allah with no proof for himself, and whoever dies without the pledge of allegiance (to the ruler) upon his neck dies a death of jahiliyyah

    (Muslim)

    Hadith 4

    مَنْ خَرَجَ مِنَ الجَمَاعَةِ قِيْدَ شِبْرٍ فَقَدْ خَلَعَ رِبْقَةَ الإِسْلَامِ مِنْ عُنُقِهِ حَتَّى يُرَاجِعَهُ

    مَنْ مَاتَ وَ لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ إِمَامُ جَمَاعَةٍ فَإِنَّ مَوْتَتَهُ مَوْتَةٌ جَاهِلِيَّةٌ

    Whoever removes himself from the Jama’at (the unified Muslim Ummah) by a handspan then he has taken Islam from his neck until he returns,

    Whoever dies and does not have a leader of the Jama’at over him then his death is a death of jahiliyya

    (Hakim)

    Commentary

    1. These ahadith show the obligatory nature of unity upon the Truth, with the expression “by a handspan” indicating that any disunity however small is forbidden.
    2. Islam obligates obedience to the consented ruler, which should be considered alongside other ahadith explaining the specific circumstance when dissension and even rebellion is permitted (such as when the ruler rules by other than Islam).
    3. The pledge of allegiance referred to in the hadith is the pledge taken between the ruled and ruler, as exemplified by the Prophet and the companions after him, to rule the people by the Quran and Sunnah and in return to be obeyed.
    4. The “death of jahiliyya” is an indication in the narration that to die without having the pledge of allegiance upon one’s neck is prohibited, and therefore the existence of the pledge of allegiance is obligatory, which in turn necessitates the existence of the Khalifah with whom that pledge is made as mentioned by scholars such as Imam Taftazani, and also Shah Waliullah Dahlawi (in his book originally written in Persian izalatul khafa an khilafatul Khulafaa).
    5. In the second of the narrations this point is made explicit, with the wording of the hadith being “does not have leader of the group (of Muslims) over him” explaining what is meant in the first narration by the metaphor “without the pledge of allegiance upon his neck”.
    6. To establish the Khilafah is in turn obligatory from the principle “whatever leads to a wajib is wajib”, and this is an obligation which encompasses all of the people due to the generality indicated in the use “من” (whoever).

    By Abu Luqman

    http://abdullahhasan.net/?p=1758

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      • Abd- Allah

        *sigh*

        Those who keep calling for the establishment of the khilafah want to eat the cake before it is even baked. There are certain steps that need to be taken before we are able to re-establish the khilafah in the Muslim Ummah. It is not that simple. And giving your allegiance to the leader of a certain group or political party does not constitute the proper pledge of allegiance. That allegiance should be given to the Muslim ruler and only to him, not to your local shaykh or leader of your political group.

        so who did you give your allegiance to?

        Let me say that I am excited to know the answer as well.

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      • Yaqeen needed

        ‘There are certain steps that need to be taken before we are able to re-establish the khilafah in the Muslim Ummah’….

        Which are these steps?

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  21. Naseebah

    Excellent, a keeper, ma sha Allah. Will re-read the article and comments when I have more time in sha Allah.

    I did have a question – about if and how the secular law might operate as Urf (custom) and what impact that might have on a model.

    For example, in divorce and child support there is a non-Islamically derived formula for judgments in these cases in this country.

    However, it seems to me as a lay person, that financial issues of child support have a lot of leeway in Islam and are highly impacted by the customary amounts.

    A mother with custody of her child – in Islam and by custom here – should be paid in support of her role, and the child himself should be supported, and no set amount appears to be stipulated in Islam.

    It seems rather to depend on keeping the child in the lifestyle to which he was accustomed, as much as possible, which as we know in this country is a lot compared to what might be customary in other countries.

    This implies another point, which is that when the law is implemented, we can apply a different causality as muslims than the causality of the secular law. For example, if an ex-wife is awarded money – in the secular system she might be awarded as a spouse. By this standard, she might not have the right to this in Islam. However, if she is taking care of the children, this same received money could be still legitimate if we say the Islamic reason she is receiving it is as her role as the custodian of the child, and to pay for the child ‘s expenses (not for her role as the spouse).

    If the wife receives 1/2 the property for being a wife, this might be unjust in Islam. However, if she receives it – or in any case, a significant parting financial allotment, something actually encouraged in Islam – for her role of child custodian and to pay for the child’s rent, school, college, food, clothes, etc. then this is the customary amount in this society to which she is entitled and which – even if it seems a lot – will seldom be enough to keep her and her kids out of economic hardship.

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  22. Naseebah

    Reading some of the other comments on the Internal Retreat Model…

    To my mind, this model is very american actually. Other groups have set up their little Italys, Chinatowns, Irish sections, and other neighborhood enclaves, and these have been deeply grounded in non-mainstream cultures, languages and religions. These are rich incubators of success in the broader society. You can hear many if not most americans speak fondly and very sentimentally about the “old neighborhood” where they grew up – which is often short-hand for their ethnic or religious neighborhoods. Even neighborhoods that were multicultural were areas where distinct groups interacted – kids playing b-ball on summer evenings – but did not merge completely into one another.

    Citing the Amish and the other groups listed as examples, already skews the model to its extreme. You could add the Mob to the list, but that would skew it to one side. That would leave out the vast majority of law-abiding Italian immigrants who nevertheless often lived in Italian-speaking, exclusively Catholic enclaves where Mama and the church were law in the neighborhood.

    The name Internal Retreat itself puts a negative isolationist spin on it, but it needn’t be so. Also, the partial citizenship tag is loaded. The Amish are full, equal citizens. They are practicing democracy to its full extent.

    In a democracy, citizens endow their government with limited power to govern them, and otherwise they are free to govern themselves — the government does not endow the citizen with freedom. That is the essence. Self-governance of the individual over him/herself and self-governance of communities who freely choose to associate with one another — this is the default in a democracy.

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    • Yasir Qadhi

      There are spectrums for the isolationist model. The Amish is one extreme example on the right side of the spectrum, and ‘little Italys’ would be on the other side.

      The Dar al-Salam community model would be more on the ‘little Italy’ side.

      Yasir

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  23. Zulander

    JazakAllahu khair Shaikh for the article. Would Hizbul Tahreer be an example for #4? Sounds very similar Allahu a’lam.

    I agree with Arif that establishing pockets and communities is very ideal, however it’s very tough to take that model to communities that don’t share the same luxury as Darusalaam. And in all honesty I’m not even sure that it’s feasible in many of the smaller communities (or at least not in the near future).

    It appears as if the different communities can integrate these models into their local area but to take one model and endorse it to the entire US seems like a mistake. I do think that communities in the U.S have become lackadaisical in terms of goals and vision, and I think that these issues need to be addressed more in the future insha’Allah.

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    • Zulander

      To clarify point 2: For sure Darusalaam enjoys certain luxuries, that is not to say however that they did not strive through difficulty after difficulty to attain such luxuries.

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  24. TheSussist

    The way I see it is simple

    I’m British so be a British citizen abiding by British Law and Islamic Law.

    If they cooincide, there’s no problem.

    If there is a difference between the two e.g. in regards to matters of divorce or custody of children, adopt the Islamic Law with a local Islamic Authority (such as a mosque or a Muslim Beth Din) and get divorced. Choosing to get divorced this way and not going through a British court will not end me up in jail or with a fine.

    If they conflict (rare) then it depends on the issue of conflict and this would be presented to a learned Scholar who would give his verdict. I would think taking compulsory car insurance is something which is forced but inshaAllah forgiven without the need for hijrah, whereas let’s say having to bow down to an idol would be a too bigger conflict to accept, and hijrah would need to be made.

    All this would be implemented whilst living well integrated into British Society, not isolating yourself, working for large corperations, mixing with fellow colleagues and eating fish and chips on your lunch break.

    The problem would arise when there is a difference (not conflict) between Islamic Law and British Law and you’d like to take it to a local Islamic Authority but your partner doesn’t because they follow their desires or are ignorant of the importance of Islam.

    So even if you had the best Local Islamic Authorities or a Muslim Beth Din, they would not work unless both parties agreed to seek a ruling from them i.e. allow themselves to be ruled by the Quran.

    Therefore, it all comes back to what Islam first started with: Da’wah

    Let’s focus our efforts on educating the masses on Islam and Eemaan, Allah will then pave the way for us inshaAllah as he did for Muhammad s.a.w. and his companions.

    Just another view.

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  25. The Penn is Mightier than Yale

    Assalamu Alaikum Sheikh Yasir:

    3 quick but highly relevant questions:

    1) How do you reconcile the aspects of secular law that are in fact more stringent than those of Sharia? For instance, in the Sharia, witnesses may be needed to produced in order to convict someone of murder; whereas in a common law system such as the US, a conviction can theoretically be reached without witnesses. If such an instance occurs (and it was because someone had informed the authorities), would that person be guilty of oppression, given that the Divine Law would not have brought the convict to justice in this life?

    2) And how do we account for the fact that a party commits a capital crime against the state rather than against the individual? It means that if someone’s family member is murdered, that person does not have the right to forgive the assailant in our capital system (whereas in Sharia, s/he would). What would be the Islamic way to view this: should an approximation of justice be what we seek at the expense of possible mercy?

    3) How do we account for prisons? I am under the impression that the most anyone was imprisoned in the time of the Prophet was a couple of days and that the hudud system meant justice was delivered in a quick and efficient manner. How should we as Muslims regard a guilty person going to jail–is this oppressive to that person (even if he may be guilty of the crime for which he is serving time)? This is all even independent of all of the secular work that exists about the societal consequences of prisons: such as the views held by Noam Chomsky http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/199804–.htm

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    • Ibrahim

      Bro, I’m amazed by your first question. “Reconcile” a stricter law with Shariah?! Any law that is different the shariah is absolutely wrong because it’s man-made and thus cannot be reconciled even if it “seems” more stricter. The point in shariah is never, ever about strictness. Rather, it’s always about fairness and justice. And, nobody can dealt in a more just manner than Allah Himself.

      Also, actually I’m not sure if you need witnesses for a murder to get a hadd punishment. But, to illustrate my point let me use the example is that of adultery. Even if you can’t produce four witnesses the accused can still be convicted based on other evidence. But, he won’t get the hadd punishment. So, some of the requirements are needed to carry out hadd punishment once a person is convicted.

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  26. Gohar

    I would say that accepting model 5 would completely fail to protect religion and life. As long as kufr is allowed to flourish in this world there will always be rampant evil and what little Divine Law remains in this world will continue to be diminished and fought by it. To say that a unislamic govt should be endorsed simply because Yasir Qadhi is allowed to wear his shalwar kameez without being arrested is beyond stupid.

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  27. chota bacha

    Salam. This is quite an excellent piece to begin the discussion and I am quite glad that Yasir sahab presented it as the equivalent of opening remarks before a discussion. This is the kind of care and caution we need to take before having serious theoretical discussions; unfortunately Muslims, both scholars and laymen, have become too comfortable with weak argumentation and reasoning. I’m also glad because Yasir sahab’s recent work did not embody the kind of seriousness and caution this piece in which he has spoken about a major topic by not addressing it in its entirety; rather he has presented a small window into potential world.

    I have a couple of issues to raise that I feel Yasir sahab should have raised in this piece or should write about in future articles on the same theme.

    Firstly, I think there is a disproportionate amount of focus in the discussion of matters pertaining to certain aspects of civil law or what we call personal law. Even in most Muslim majority countries, much of the application of Islamic law has to do with only this area that deals with Marriage, Divorce, Custody, Inheritance, etc. I saw with pleasure that Yasir sahab had discussed areas for which Islamic law does not give us guidance and for which we may derive rulings ourselves regardless of the moral system involved. This would include laws pertaining of traffic, city planning etc. But even these two domains of law combined make up a very limited part of the the legal domain and a very limited part of the Shariah as well even though they receive the most focus in popular discourse. So the discussion about divine law and man-made law must also be carried out with reference to laws of international relations, laws pertaining to human rights, laws governing minorities, election processes, etc.

    Secondly, and this is a major limitation, is that the discussion is being carried out almost in entirety with reference to positive law or substantive legal rulings. There is no discussion of the difference between the two seemingly dichotomous foundations of law with reference to the normative basis underlying the substantive legal rulings and any discussion of law without respect to the conception of justice its based on will be limited in focus. Also, the discussion must incorporate the new creature that we have to reckon with in the modern world which is the territorial nation-state whose laws apply only within fixed geographical boundaries and whose entire legal system derives its legitimacy from the constitution which is almost sacrosanct. So the issue of legal structure also opens up the domain of legal and political theory which must also be dealt with if we are to take this discussion anywhere.

    Yasir sahab, care to comment please? Jazakallah khayr.

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    • Muscle Man

      Amzing article. MashaAllah. This article should be given a separate entry on the front of MuslimMatters for its importance.

      My question is that In theory this is what most muslims want. but How do we implement it practically as muslims living in the 21st century, regardless if in the west or in the muslim world.

      That is the question to be discussed. I personally have no idea.

      May Allah help us. Ameen.

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  28. chota bacha

    I have one more question with regards to the fourth model. I know you’re not proposing it or anything but I was just wondering about. From my understanding of the Maqasid – and really its based solely on Hallaq’s work on Shatibi and the discussions we had about the text in class – they are not independent principles of justice in Islamic law; rather they have been derived from the rulings in the Qur’an and Sunnah. They are general principles that the Shari’ah is meant to uphold abstracted from specific rulings. Which means that it will be a major problem if we ignore this derivation and understand them as existing independently of the specific rulings of the Shari’ah. A false separation between the general and the specific/particular within Islamic legal theory could be disastrous. One obvious problem would be that the the maqasid would be taken as Absolute legal principles allowing no exceptions or allowing exceptions only as something external; when in fact they are not absolute at all and incorporate exceptions within them in the form of specifics that go against the general trend of rulings in that domain because of particular circumstances. This is one problem I have with people using the five accepted maqasid to establish an Islamic affirmation of the modern conception of Human Rights in their absolute form. There is a big conceptual problem with that. In the fourth model as well, a similar mistake will be made; I can also see why that is so attractive a model because it necessitates very little change really. It’s just an affirmation of principles already enshrined in the UNDHR and the American constitution based on a selective engagement with the Islamic legal tradition. The fourth model basically undermines the very specifics from which the maqasid are derived and uses those maqasid to allow for new specifics or to give an Islamic rubber stamp of sorts to the present legal and political realities. I think it leaves us with a caricatures of the Shari’ah, its rulings and even the maqasid themselves. Just my two cents.
    Would you like to comment Yasir sahab? Perhaps we are hesitant about the fourth model for some of the same reasons?

    By the way. the following paragraph was priceless and should be highlighted. Everyone reading this article and all intellectually gifted and blessed Muslims should take part in the process mentioned and try to acquire the specializations mentioned in subjects such as Ethics, Law, Religion, History, Modern European thought, etc.
    “Muslims who believe in a Divine Law will face many of the same challenges that people of other religions face as they carve their way into the secular societies where they live. As with most of these topics that I discuss, while I do not claim to offer definitive answers, I do claim that we as a community must begin frank dialogue, and be prepared to ask some very tough questions, if we wish to move forward with our faith and lead productive lives in this world while we prepare ourselves for the next.”

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  29. Qasym

    +10 to Abu Zayd for clarifying the misunderstandings that many people have about the Mujadid of his time, Mawdudi (ra). It’s sad that alot of people would blindly take the opinion of a few so called scholars in their slander against another man w/o first doing their own research. Plus why are we even commenting on Qutb and Mawdudi’s take on “Islamic Law vs. Jahily Law”?

    One was focused on the Dawah and spread of Islam in Egypt and the other in the Sub-Continent, and going up against their countries’ corrupt goverments. So even if their views on the matter at that time seems slightly extreme NOW, you can see why.

    So we should all do our own research into the lives of these extraordinary individuals and stay away from what the “scholars” say about them, especially those in Saudi, because their biggest beef against them is that they opposed the Government. They want everyone to get fat off the govt. by feeding them fataawa just like they do.

    Allahu Alam

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    • Abd- Allah

      and going up against their countries’ corrupt goverments

      This is the exact same argument that the khawaarij used during the time of the companions!

      their biggest beef against them is that they opposed the Government

      My biggest beef with Qutb and his likes is what he said about some of the companions which if you have read you would never accept such words be said about the companions, but I am assuming that you haven’t done that “research” which you are asking others to do, nor have you actually read most of Qutb’s works. My other beef with him is the mistakes in his “tafsir”, and what should we expect from some one who is not a scholar who tried to explain the words of Allah according to his own understanding without having acquired any knowledge from its proper sources. No one denies that he has done good and that he had good intentions and wanted to do good for Islam, but his good intentions are not an excuse for us to glorify him the way some people do and overlook his mistakes instead of correcting them or telling the people about them so that they don’t fall into them.

      and stay away from what the “scholars” say about them, especially those in Saudi

      Great advice to give people, to disregard the scholars and instead follow some one who isn’t knowledgeable. Exactly the opposite of what Allah tells us to do in the Quran. But I guess we are sometimes blinded by our bias for a person so that we don’t even see the truth anymore or reject it just because it opposes our desires.

      Besides, what most of Qutb’s supporters don’t understand is that this “beef” is not against Qutb personally but against his mistakes so that the rest of the Muslims do not fall into them as well. But to those people, pointing out Qutb’s mistakes is somehow an attack on his person, and they act as if he is infallible and no one can criticize what he says.

      I don’t really want to discuss this issue anymore, I think it has taken more than what it deserves, and it is not even very relevant to the original topic of the article. To those who are supporters of Qutb, I say read his works before you blindly defend everything that he said without having read it all, and to those who don’t even know who he is or haven’t read his books, then I don’t suggest you read them, but instead make du’a that Allah forgives him, and go seek knowledge from the true scholars.

      May Allah have mercy on all the Muslims who have passed away and forgive them and us.

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      • Abu Zayd

        Maududi on the Khawarij
        It appears no one reads anything these days before embarking on wholesale criticism and slander. Let me quote Maulana Maududi, pg 250, Islamic Law and Constitution:

        “The third important right (of citizens in an Islamic state) is that of freedom of opinion and belief. Ali, the 4th Caliph, has given the best exposition of Islamic law in this respect. During his period, the party known as the Kharijites reared its head in revolt. This group was very similar to the modern anarchists and nihilists. Its members defied the state openly and denied the need for its existence in Islam, and they were making preparations to wipe it out by the sword. Ali sent the following message to them:

        “You may live wherever you like, the only condition between us being that you will not indulge in bloodshed and will not practice cruel methods.”

        This makes it quite clear that even an organized group may entertain any set of ideas and may also peacefully practice them, and an Islamic state would not hinder or harm it. But if it tries to foist its ideology on others by violent means and endangers the security of the state or its administration, necessary actions shall certainly be taken against it.”

        Any doubts still remain?

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      • Hassan

        Once an ideology has creeped into the minds, its very difficult to think outside of that framework. The people of jamat-e-islami are very loyal and can not think outside of it. For them if you criticize Moulana Maududi (RA, may Allah have mercy on him), it would be blasphemy, while its ok for Moulana Maududi (may Allah forgive his shortcomings) to criticize sahabah (like Uthman RA).

        You are challenging their framework that they grew up with. Its hard to concede on it, because their whole methodology collapses.

        Now I may be wrong on this, but I have read it from different reliable sources, that Maulana Maududi (may Allah put noor in his grave) was ok with sunnis praying behind shias, and he had no issues with that. Now I can understand why he would say such a thing, because for people of jamat-e-islami and ikhwanis (followers of Syed Qutb may Allah have mercy on him), its integral of their methodology to ignore differences (no matter how big) for establishment of khilafah.

        So if anyone who is more familiar with works of them, can perhaps refute this, like this was not the case, of being lenient towards ahl-ul-bidah

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      • Abd- Allah

        that Maulana Maududi (may Allah put noor in his grave) was ok with sunnis praying behind shias, and he had no issues with that

        Maududi (may Allah have mercy on him) was a very close friend with Khomeini and he supported his revolution, so why would you be surprised if he allowed sunnis to pray behind shias?!

        You answered it yourself akhi:

        for people of jamat-e-islami and ikhwanis (followers of Syed Qutb may Allah have mercy on him), its integral of their methodology to ignore differences (no matter how big)

        And part of their methodology was also:

        being lenient towards ahl-ul-bidah

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      • UmerSultan

        I think being linient is better than pushing and resisting and enforcing Islam or our own understanding on them which only leads to make them hard on their believes and dividing the community.

        This same mindset has alienated “Hanafis” from “salafis”

        There are 2 ways to deal with the issue in believes, either you resist them so much that you make them Apostate in your thinking or you invite them and have good relations and each time show them ur evidences.

        I can’t commit a sin of pushing any one towards Apostasy! This same problem is going on with “Muslim Liberals!”

        rigidity is not the solution, its a problem itself. I am glad Syed Mawdudi was linient to Ahl-ul-Bidaa when the whole Pakistani society was at each other throats for differences even to the extent of someone not saying Ameen aloud and someone having hands below the navil.

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      • studentofknowledge

        Dear Abdullah,

        You have probably not read Maududi.
        Maududi did support Iranian revolution, but he criticized Shia beliefs in many places.He criticized Mut’ah in his tafsir of Al-Mu’minun. He criticized Shia’s slandering of sahabah and A’ishah RA in Tafsir of Al-Jumuah and An-Nur respectively . He ridiculed the Shiite Mahdi concept (which is opposed to that of Ahlussunna). He even wrote a preface to a book which accuses shiites of kufr .In his ‘Caliphate and Kingdom’ , he briefly exposed their false beliefs and placed them among the four deviant sects he listed (incl. khawarij and murji’ah). In the same book he mentions one of the biggest achievements of Imam Abu Haneefah as ‘refuting shiite beliefs’ .

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      • Nafees

        Assalaamu Alaikum Br. Hassan,

        Once an ideology has creeped into the minds, its very difficult to think outside of that framework. The people of jamat-e-islami are very loyal and can not think outside of it

        Not really brother, there may be some within that grouping who following blindly, just like there may be a minority who follow the option of a certain sheikh from Saudi or Morocco without questioning, but that has not been my understanding of the way most people who approach Maududi’s (Rahimullah). works. In fact, for many people Maududi was an antidote to the unquestioning and blind following of the type village Pir’s in South Asia that demanded unquestioning obedience.

        A minor example of his followers taking a different approach – Maududi held the view that Niqab was mandatory, but you will find the majority of the females within Jamaat do not wear Niqabs (excepting those from the NWFP where it is the norm), this is especially the case with Muslims of the Islamic Movement in the West.

        people of jamat-e-islami and ikhwanis (followers of Syed Qutb may Allah have mercy on him), its integral of their methodology to ignore differences (no matter how big) for establishment of khilafah.

        Wrong again brother, they unite on issues of shared concern (just as they would do with non-Muslims) but do not compromise/change their own beliefs.

        It is also not true that they ignore differences no matter how big; in fact, Abu Ala Maududi was one of the most forceful scholars against the Qadiani movement (for which he was sentenced to death but instead imprisoned for many years). Maududi’s real contribution was not a new fiqh or a new way of understanding Islam, his contribution was reviving concept of Islam as a complete way of life and that each and every Muslim had an active role in helping each other make the world a better place (rather than just exclusively focusing on ensuring the authenticity of Aqeeda or increasing spirituality).

        I do not agree with Maulana Maududi on every matter, nor do most of his followers, nor did he expect his followers follow him blindly but that does not mean that through Allah’s grace he made an immense contribution to reviving true Islam for his time.

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      • Abd- Allah

        linient to Ahl-ul-Bidaa when the whole Pakistani society was at each other throats for differences even to the extent of someone not saying Ameen aloud and someone having hands below the navil.

        @ brother UmerSultan, why do we have to pick one of the two extremes? Why do we either have to be lenient with Ahl-ul-Bidaa, or we have to be at each other’s throats for minor issues of fiqh? Can’t we take the correct path in the middle which is not being lenient to Ahl-ul-Bidaa, in general although there are exceptions in some cases, and at the same time be lenient instead with the people who are close to the sunnah and not be harsh on them because of minor issues like saying Ameen aloud.

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  30. Touhid

    Assalamu alaykum,
    May Allah (Swt) reward Sh. Yasir Qadhi and this site for taking on relevant issues.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to attend http://www.alimprogram.com ‘s winter program at Adams Center, where presenters’ such as
    Prof. Sherman Jackson (Abd’Allah Hakim Jackson) offered their critique of the book entitled :
    Islam and the Secular State
    – Negotiating the Future of Shari`a
    by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im

    Although this seminar, may not directly relate to the central subject of Sh. Qadhi’s post; I was reminded of the seminar, when the mention of John Rawl’s “public reason” was stated. If not already, I think advice and direction should be sought from knowledgeable people like Professor Jackson.

    May this site continue to keep up the good work, Insha’allah…
    with duas, peace and blessings

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  31. abdullah

    Sheikh Muhamaad bin Jameel Zeino said regarding sayyid Qutb:

    I used to be very fond of Zilaal al-Qur’an of its author, Sayyid Qutb, and when I read it I found the doctrine of Wahdat ul-Wujood in Surah al-Hadid and Surah al-Ikhlas along with other errors which contradict the aqidah of Islaam, such as his saying about the tafsir of al-Istiwaa which occurs in numerous verses: “A figurative allusion for control, dominion”, and this is opposed to the tafsir which occurs in al-Bukhari’s Sahih, from Mujahid, from Abu al-Aaliyah, regarding His saying, “He it is Who created for you all that is on earth. Then He ‘istawaa’ towards the heaven and made them seven heavens and He is the All-Knower of everything.” (Al-Baqarah 2:29) – Mujahid and Abu al-Aaliyah said: “He rose and ascended”.

    Sheikh Muqbil bin hadi said; “his books are placed in the closets of misguidence”
    This is just a taste of what the people of knowledge say about him

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  32. UmerSultan

    Assalam-o-Alaikum Sheikh Yasir Qadhi,

    Good and relevant article. We need more of these kinds of healthy discussions within our community.

    However, based on what I have read the writings of Mawlana Syed Abul Ala’ MAwdudi, when ever he spoke/wrote against Democracy he meant Western “Secular” democracy.

    I have come across these 2 terms in his books: Theo-Democracy and Islamic Democracy. I think I read “Islamic Democracy” in his “Our Message.”

    This type of thinking that Democracy is Kufr, I have come across by the people of Hizb Tahrir. They declare Democracy as Kufr, people participating in it as muslims indulged in kufr etc.

    I think Mawdudi should have been swaped with Hizb Tahrir (HT).

    Wassalam

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    • Qasym

      Dear Abdullah,

      You have probably not read Maududi.

      That’s pretty obvious. With all the slander taking place I have yet to see any evidence to the claims that are being made. I wonder who will be responsible for the foolish actions, the individuals blindly following the “scholars” who slander these individuals, or the so-called “scholars” themselves who are misguiding our Ummah as we speak.

      May Allah (swt) forgive us.

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      • abdullah

        Are you saying that the ulema that warn against mawdoodi are people who are misguiders?

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      • Abu Zayd

        This type of thought is the root of the problem- Anyone who is misguiding the people is a misguider, anyone who commits an act of kufr is a kafir, anyone who supposedly criticizes the Companions is a “reviler of the Companions,” anyone who expresses what is perceived as some type of sympathy towards the Shiah in any one issue becomes a “friend of Khomeini,” a “lover of the Shiah,” etc., etc. This is real, classic Khariji thought.

        We need to be more careful with our tongues and their consequences. As the Prophet (saw) warned Muadh, “Is there anything that puts more people into the Fire than what their tongues reap?” [Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]

        «ثَكِلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ يَا مُعَاذُ هَلْ يَكُبُّ النَّاسَ، عَلَى وُجُوهِهِمْ فِي النَّارِ، إِلاَّ حَصَائِدُ أَلْسِنَتِهِمْ؟؟

        Just because someone has a characteristic of nifaq doesn’t earn one the label of a hypocrite. Just because someone commits an act of kufr or shirk, or has elements thereof, doesn’t automatically make that person a kafir or mushrik. We should try to refrain from such wholesale labeling of certain scholars and personalities based upon certain statements, usually taken out of context, that is the characteristic of the vulture culture of certain groups that is tearing the ummah apart.

        For every scholar that has warned against these illustrious personalities, there are countless others that praised their work.

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      • abdullah

        bro if you are a friend to khomeini, i truly believe that you are a person who loves shia AND HATES AHL AS SUNNA, because the scholars have said the khomeini was a mushrik, and i will post the fatwa below.

        Question: What is the Islaamic ruling regarding (Ayatollah) Khomeini?

        Response: Khomeini has a book in which he mentions the excellence of the Imaams (Hassan and Hussein et al) of the family of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) over and above the Prophets and the Messengers (`alayhim as-salaam); (So) based upon this (statement of his) he is not a Muslim.

        Shaykh al-Albaanee
        al-Haawee min Fataawa ash-Shaykh al-Albaanee – Page 349
        this was taken from fatwa-online.com

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      • Abd- Allah

        Brother Abu Zayd, I agree that it is incorrect to say that whoever commits an act of kufr is automatically a kafir, etc. but this has nothing to do with the khawaarij or their beliefs, so it is inaccurate to say that this “is real, classic Khariji thought.”

        As for the one who criticizes the companions and describes some of them with the ugliest of words that no Muslims should accept, then this should be refuted even if it has to be with harshness, because the companions should not be cursed, criticized, or insulted as the Prophet peace be upon him said “Do not curse my companions, for if any of you were to spend gold equal to (mountain of) Uhud in charity, it would not equal a handful of one of them or even half of that”.

        If what Qutb have said about Muawiyah may Allah be pleased with him isn’t considered cursing, then I don’t know what is. Do you brother Abu Zayd accept those ugly words which Qutb has used to describe Muawiyah and some of the other companions?

        Regardless of whether Qutb honored the companions in general or not, these words of his, even about just one of the companions, is not accepted AT ALL!

        For every scholar that has warned against these illustrious personalities, there are countless others that praised their work.

        I don’t think you will find many scholars who praise these aspects of their work which are wrong, such as cursing some of the companions or the mistakes in Aqeedah. Also when the top scholars of our times such as Bin Baaz, Ibn Uthaymin, and Al-Albani may Allah have mercy on them, when they all pointed out to Qutb’s mistakes and warned against them, this should tell you something if you are sincere in following the truth rather than be blinded with your bias towards a certain individual. As for the one who claims that these big scholars are misguided themselves because they pointed out Qutb’s mistakes, then that person is truly misguided himself and should not let his bias blind him from seeing the truth and following it.

        The main problem here is that some people think that pointing out Qutb’s or Mawdudi’s mistakes is an attack on these individuals personally, and so they try to defend these individuals by justifying their mistakes and trying to present them as being correct and true.

        The slogan of the ikhwaan which says “we unite upon which we agree about, and we excuse each other in the things where we disagree” simply does not work because it is part of our deen to fix the wrong that we see around us, especially in our brothers and in their beliefs, so “excusing” them when they are wrong instead of advising them and correcting them is like calling t throw away a very important aspect of our deen which is enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.

        The people are divided into 3 groups when it comes to those “illustrious personalities”, two extremes and the middle path which is correct. While you have one extreme who declared these “illustrious personalities” as being kaafirs because of some of their mistakes and errors they had, others went to the opposite extreme and over glorified these “illustrious personalities” and tried to defend their mistakes and justify them and act as if they are infallible and that no one should even mention their mistakes or correct them because everything they have said is correct, while the third group of people who are in the middle, they point out the mistakes of these “illustrious personalities” without declaring them to be disbelievers, and they ask Allah to have mercy on and forgive these people, while at the same time they warn the Muslims from their mistakes so that they don’t fall into them as well.

        This sad reality is not only limited to these “illustrious personalities”, but you have many other examples of how people went to two opposite extremes regarding the same person. The jews went to an extreme of not even believing that Jesus peace be upon him was even a Prophet, while the christians went to the other extreme of believing that he is divine and worshiped him, while Muslims took the middle path and believed that he is a Prophet but not divine. Similarly with Ali Bin Abi Taleb may Allah be pleased with him, you had the Nawaasib who hated him, and the Rawaafid who over glorified him and considered him to be infallible and some even worship him, while Ahl-us-sunnah took the middle path and love him and give him the status that he deserves without going to either extreme regarding him.

        To those who continue to defend the mistakes of these “illustrious personalities” rather than admit that they are wrong, then prepare an answer for when you are asked on the day of judgment as to why you continued to defend what was wrong instead of pointing out the truth.

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      • Nafees

        Br. Abd-Allah,

        You seemed to have diverted a discussion on Maulana Maududi’s (may Allah bless him) ideas to criticize Syed Qutb.

        You quote Sheikh Bin Baz (may Allah bless him), but he used much softer terms than you have when describing both individuals.

        Sheikh Bin Baz / Permanent Fatwa committee of Saudi Arabia, on Syed Qutb

        In this fatwa he criticises the fact that Syed Qutb shaves but recognises and reminds the questioners that he did done good works in “spreading knowledge and supporting the truth” and even refers to him as a scholar. Click here.

        Sheikh Bin Baz / Fatwa Committee on Maulana Maududi

        With regards to Maududi, the Sheikh uses much more endearing terms even when disagreeing with him, here in this letter to Maulana Maududi, Sheikh Bin Baz refers to Maududi with words such as Eminence , Sheikh, Excellency – if you read the letter about their disagreement you cannot help but notice the Sheikh’s politeness is more than just a formality (I believe the this issue was a down to a misunderstanding of Maududi’s words, in any case I agree with and accept Sheikh Bin Baz’s letter). Click here to read the fatwa.

        Here whilst recommending his book on Jihad, Sheikh Bin Baz, refers to Maulana Maududi as “our brother, the erudite scholar Abu Al-A`la Al- Mawdudy”. Click here to read the fatwa.

        Here the Fatwa committee recommends another one of Maulana Maududi’s books. Click here.

        Summary

        As Sheikh Bin Baz states in one of the fatwas above: “All humans err, even the scholars, as the Prophet (PBUH) stated: All humans err, even the scholars, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated, “All sons of Adam oft sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who oft repent.”.” No scholar is infallible, but this is not about highlighting people’s mistakes or differences of opinion but rather it is about representing an individual’s views fairly, without prejudice and in a respectful manner.

        The least we can do is respect other peoples scholars like our own scholars respect them. Unlike some other, lesser scholars, Sheikh Bin Baz respected Maulana Maududi if he disagreed with him on certain matters. Which is more than can be said of some of the posters here.

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      • abdullah

        Have you not read the famous saying, al luhoomo ahl al ilm masmooma (the skin of the people of knowledge is poisinous)?

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      • Abu Zayd

        This is an excellent saying we should all abide by. You made my very point. We should fear Allah before spreading slander and mischaracterizations concerning the people of knowledge, which includes Qutb, Maududi and all people of knowledge.

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      • abdullah

        who said qutb and mowdoodi were people of knowledge?

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      • Nafees

        abdullah,

        Would Sheikh Bin Baz call Maulana Maududi a “erudite scholar” and a “brother” if he wasn’t a person of knowledge?

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      • Abu Zayd

        Shaykh al-Uthaymeen: “Syed Qutb is not infallible, nor anyone higher than him from the scholars, for the words and speech of every single human being is either accepted or rejected, save for the Messenger of Allah (saw). I recommend that we not focus on individuals [but the truth]. . . . As for the truth, we accept it whether it comes from Syed Qutb or from other than him, and we reject incorrect ideas whether they come from Syed Qutb or other than him. This is my advice to our brothers, that we should not fall into disputations nor enmity nor refutation or acceptance based upon any one individual. We should not focus on personalities, for Syed Qutb has passed from this world, as have others from the people of knowledge (ahl al ilm).” [Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftuh 1/130]

        Shaykh Nasiruddin al-Albani: “I say that there is a chapter in this book (Milestones) which is of great benefit, called ‘La ilaha illallah manhaj hayah’… in which he has written some words which I believe are filled with light and filled with knowledge.”
        “I believe he wasn’t a scholar, but he has words, especially those issued from prison, which in reality are like inspiration (ilhaam).” [Silsilah al-Huda wal-Nur 784]

        Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd: ‘Sayyid Qutb based his life upon, and he dedicated his pen for, the Da’wah (call) towards Tawhid (monotheism) of Allah “in ruling and legislating,” rejecting the man-made laws, and confronting those who committed that (legislating and ruling by other than Allah’s rule). . . . I found in his books many good things, a great faith, clear truth, exposing the plans of the enemies of Islam, and some mistakes in the contents and saying some things that I wish he never said. He nullifies lots of these things in other places, and to be perfect is hard. This man was a great writer and a great criticizer, and then he moved towards serving Islam through the great Quran, the noble Sunnah, and the beautiful Seerah. ’

        Shaykh Ibn Jibreen: “Sayyid Qutb and Hasan al-Banna are among the scholars of the Muslims and among the people of da’wa. Allah has brought benefit by them and through them He has guided many people. They both have efforts [for Islam] which should not be denied. For this reason Shaikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz interceded on behalf of Sayyid Qutb when the order for his execution was given. [Ibn Baz] was gentle in his intercession, but President Gamal [Abdel Nasser] did not accept [Ibn Baz's] intercession, may Allah send upon him [i.e. Abdel Nasser] what he deserves. When both men [i.e Hasan al-Banna & Sayyid Qutb] were killed, each was referred to as a martyr, as each was killed unjustly. This is borne witness to by those close [to them] as well as by the general public. As it was widely spread in the papers and books without anyone ever objecting. Moreover, the scholars have received their books [with acceptance]. No one has attacked them for more than the [last] twenty years. If some [heresy proceeded] from them, then [these mistakes] are similar to an-Nawawi, as-Suyuti, Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn ‘Atiyah, al-Khatabi, al-Qastalani and the likes of many of them.”

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      • Abd- Allah

        You seemed to have diverted a discussion on Maulana Maududi’s (may Allah bless him) ideas to criticize Syed Qutb.

        Brother Nafees, I did not “divert” any discussion. Who said that the discussion is only on Maududi and not on Qutb?!

        As for the fatawa of the scholars which you and brother Abu Zayd have copied here, then I ask why don’t the both of you also take the criticism of these same scholars about Maududi and Qutb and accept what these scholars have said are mistakes? Why do you only quote the scholars in the good things that they said about these du’at, but you don’t accept any of the criticisms? No one is denying that they were callers to Islam and have done good, but they also have major mistakes that need to be pointed out and corrected rather than overlooked.

        When Shaykh Bin Baaz heard what Qutb had said about some of the companions in one of his books, he said that these are ugly words and that cursing one of the companions is considered fisq and whoever does it should be reprimanded for it, and he said that the book which contains such ugly words should be torn. My question to both brothers, Nafees and Abu Zayd, is why do you accept what Shaykh Bin Baaz said in some places only because it acknowledges the good that these du’at had done, but you don’t accept what those same scholars have said about these same du’at in other places where they criticized their mistakes?

        As for the claim that there is no respect for these callers to Islam like Maududi and Qutb, then that is a false claim, and I respect them just as I would respect any other Muslim, but as for their mistakes which are too big to remain quiet about, then no I do not respect their mistakes, and I don’t think that we should use the excuse of respecting them to overlook the major mistakes that they made.

        The irony is those who do not respect some scholars and say that they are misguided and misguiding the people, and then they turn around and ask that others respect their scholars.

        I think that one issue here is that some brothers are making assumptions about where we are coming from or what we are saying, just because we have shown some criticism of Qutb and Maududi. I remind everyone that there are other scholars in the world than those who brother Nafees referred to as “lesser scholars”, and people differ in their positions and they are not all on the same level. Perhaps brother Nafees was referring to those who are on the opposite extreme as he is, so remember that there are people in the middle.

        As I said before, I don’t see much benefit coming out of this discussion anymore, so I’ll have to excuse myself and not continue participating in this discussion, and Allah knows best.

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      • Yaqeen needed

        Is this saying a hadith that MUST be religiously followed? Or is one we often used to make others tow our viewpoints and succumb to blind following without using their aql?

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  33. Muscle Man

    Please, everyone let’s get back to the topic at hand in the article and not get sidetracked by the Qutb/Mawdudi issue.

    At the end of the day, we ask Allaah to have mercy on the both.

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    • Abd- Allah

      At the end of the day, we ask Allaah to have mercy on the both.

      Ameen.

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  34. Zeeshan Ahmed

    Salam Sheikh
    I listened to your short lecture regarding the question of istihlal and how the modern salafi scholars had actually gone against the fatwa if ibn taymiyya. Also that sh. albany and sh. ibn uthaimeen and sh. ibn baaz had there own interpretations regarding this notion. The salafimanhaj team have done a reply to that and have (or maybe haven’t) corrected these points. What are your comments regarding this? Its on the following link if you have not already read it: http://www.salafimanhaj.com/pdf/SalafiManhaj_YasirQadhi
    Jazakallah

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  35. Sister

    Assalamu alaikum,

    “As just one example, no Muslim country has yet resolved the dilemma of being connected to international trade systems and worldwide financial networks while avoiding interest.”

    I heard that Saudi Arabia takes interest but gives that money to Israel. So I had two questions if this is true:
    1) Would that make it acceptable for them to accept the interest if they give it away and
    2) if it does then would the country fully follow Shariah law?

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  36. Abdullah

    Certainly a debate that needs to be had, but not with the narrow understanding of our responsibilities with respect to the implementation of the Shari’ah that this article implicity takes as a premise.

    In a truly global world, the proverbial notion of ‘think global, act local’ is no truer than it is today.

    Globally, or as an Ummah, our communal responsibilities are no different to what they were before: the comprehensive implementation of the Shari’ah, the establishment of dar al-Islam, the appointment of one imam, the implementation of Jihad and the Hudud, the repulsion of invasion of the Muslim lands etc.

    This should be the focus of the Muslims around the world, as to how they can contribute.

    To leave all that aside, and seek to merely increase that which is compatible with the shari’ah in the West is not only defeatist in the extreme, but is also unacceptable, and does not achieve what Allah has asked of us. We are not commanded to have as much as the Shari’ah implemented by the kuffar over us, but to implement the Shari’ah as a whole over ourselves and over them.

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  37. MD Bro

    I am pretty sure that Qutb openly mocked Musa in one of his books. And he didn’t have much Islamic knowledge…more of a “thinker” I guess.

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  38. Mezba

    Reading some of the comments it seems most people take Islam to mean only the ritual elements of Islam – such as eating halal food, praying five times, ability to wear hijab etc.

    Islam is more than that – it’s about kindness, tolerance, freedom etc.

    I recently penned some thoughts about the Islamic and Cultural aspects of living in Dubai vs Toronto.
    http://mezba.blogspot.com/2010/03/dubai-vs-toronto-part-4-islamic-and.html

    Prayers, fasting etc. make up only a part of what makes one Muslim. There is a lot more to being Muslim – and this is not being discussed in any of the models presented above or when talking about “God’s laws”.

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    • Touhid

      Assalamu alaykum, May the author of the article, comment on the following article…I understand that the article, may not directly correlate with the topic, however, the subject matter of the article attempts to make a fundamental point in the area of Islamic Law, which may or may not impact other sub-topics….Also, please comment on the hadith of the ”Khulafaa”, Jazak Allahu Khayrun, salam

      Article:
      Thoughts on Islam’s Political System by Dr. Ahmed Al-Raissouni
      Posted by Abdullah Hasan on September 19th, 2010

      Source: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/islam-studies/thoughts-on-islam%E2%80%99s-political-system/

      -Edited. Link is sufficient.

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  39. Abdullah AbdulMalik

    Assalamu Alaikum wrwb…
    I had a question specifically for Shaykh Yasir, but im not sure if hes still checking the comments on this thread. Ive done some research into this topic, and i wanted to know how this issue fits in with one of the branches of shirk, shirk of obedience and fear. From this concept, we understand that a person falls into major shirk if they believe that obeying someone (whether a person or government) in something forbidden is allowed or if a person believes that laws that go against the laws of Allah can be followed, meaning man-made laws can take precedence over or supercede Allahs laws.
    1. In cases where the two dont contradict (man-made laws and Allahs laws), is it still considered shirk or sinful if one believes the man made laws are legitimate, because even though they dont contradict Allahs laws, they still are derived from other than the laws of Allah?
    2. Also, what should be our views towards the laws while living in secular western lands. Are all laws only obeyed because of the agreement we have living here, or do we only reject laws that go against Allahs laws?
    Basically, i want to make sure I am avoiding falling into major shirk living in the west. I know no one can make halal what Allah made haram and make haram what Allah made halal. Is that eneough, or is there a more detailed understanding in relation to secular western govts and their laws?
    Please correct any misinformation or misunderstanding I have on the topic as it is a little confusing for me, and more difficult to express through this comment section

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    • Abdullah AbdulMalik

      Also, as a connected follow up question, How does this all relate to “ruling by other than what Allah has revealed”, because as was mentioned, many secular laws do not contradict Allahs laws, but nonetheless these secular laws are still laws other than Allahs laws (e.g laws specified for us by Allah that are different than the secular laws in the same area)?

      Does this mean that these laws are only abided by because of the situation we are in (living in non muslim land), or are these laws acceptable generally because they dont contradict Allahs laws? From what i understood from Shaykh Yasir, the latter is the case…and if not, then how can one say we are obliged to follow the laws of the land that dont contradict Allahs laws but we must avoid those laws which go against Allahs laws. Why wouldnt the former also be forbidden since its other than what Allah revealed?\

      JazakumAllahu Khair

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  40. Question Working for non Muslims? - Page 3

    [...] Working for non Muslims? Salam Here's the link: Yasir Qadhi | God’s Law and Man-Made Laws: Muslims Living in Secular Democracies | MuslimMatte… What Qadhi is basically saying is that the scholars have not developed a workable model which we [...]

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  41. Khalid Abbas

    Asalamu Alaikum,

    I am currently a law student at University. I would like to know, is it halal and permissible for a Muslim to work as a practising Lawyer in a secular non-muslim country such as the UK or the USA? Knowing full well that these countries have man-made laws and do not rule according to Shariah?

    Jazakallah,

    Khalid Abbas

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  42. alom

    Salaam

    I just wanted to ask a quick question. You mentioned there is an implicit covenant between the state and us that we would not break the law of his land. which type of covenant is this to do with, is it covenant of security?

    jzk

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  43. Parvez Khan

    Jazakullahu Khaira Dr. Sheikh Yasir Qadhi for this informative article.

    I as a muslim living in UK have question regarding the banking system. I currently use barclays (which most likely uses interest) so how do reconcle my faith with this economic system?
    i am unaware of islamic banks.
    Are all muslims obliged to use islamic banks only for loans, insurances, banking, savings and mortgages?

    Other than that I dont see much problems following the laws of UK although we muslims will crittic against the different values/lifestyle that contradict Islamic shariah ; such as same gender marriage, abortion and intoxicants.

    Thank you.

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