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Tariq Ramadan: Why I Was Banned in the U.S.A.

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Why I Was Banned in the U.S.A.

By Tariq Ramadan | NEWSWEEK

From the magazine issue dated Mar 29, 2010

When the American embassy called in August 2004, I was just nine days away from starting a job at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. I had already shipped my possessions from Geneva, Switzerland, where I was living, to Indiana, and enrolled my kids in a school near our new home. Suddenly, however, an embassy official was telling me my visa had been revoked. I was “welcome to reapply,” the official said, but no reason was offered for my rejection. Sitting in a barren apartment, I decided the process had become too unpredictable; I didn’t want to keep my family in limbo, so I resigned my professorship before it began. I launched a legal battle instead.

It was hardly a fight I had expected. Less than a year earlier, the State Department had invited me to speak in Washington, D.C., and introduced me as a “moderate” Muslim intellectual who denounced terrorism and attacks against civilians. Now it was banning me from U.S. soil under a provision of the Patriot Act that allows for “ideological exclusions.” My offense, it seemed, had been to forcefully criticize America’s support for Israel and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. accused me of endorsing terrorism through my words and funding it through donations to a Swiss charity with alleged ties to Gaza. Civil-liberties groups challenged my case in court for almost six years until, in late January, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped the allegations against me, effectively ending my ban.

In early April I will make my first public appearance in the U.S., at New York City’s Cooper Union, participating in a panel discussion about Muslims. While it’s a victory of sorts, the fight is not over. Numerous foreign scholars remain banned from U.S. soil. Until the section of the Patriot Act that kept me out of the country is lifted, more people will suffer the same fate. Although the exclusions are carried out in the name of security and stability, they actually threaten both by closing off the open, critical, and constructive dialogue that once defined this country.

In my case, criticizing America’s Middle East policies cast doubt on my loyalty to Western values and cost me a job. But prejudice may ultimately cost the U.S. more. By creating divisions and disregarding its values, even in the name of security, America tells the world that it is frightened and unstable—above all, vulnerable. In the long term, it also reinforces the religious, cultural, and social isolation of minority groups, encouraging the very kind of disloyalty that these ideological exclusions are meant to prevent.

It’s not the first time America has tried to shield itself from dissenting opinions. During the Cold War, dozens of overseas artists, activists, and intellectuals—including British novelist Doris Lessing, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez—were denied visas because of their left-leaning ideas. Today, though, the American concept of the “other” has taken on a relatively new and specific form: the Muslim. America must face the reality that, in the West, many adherents to Islam demonstrate loyalty to democratic values through criticism. While violence must always be condemned, such debate must be encouraged if those values are to last.

Ramadan is a professor of Islamic studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and author of What I Believe.

Find this article at http://www.newsweek.com/id/235083

Ify Okoye is a Muslim woman, a convert, born and raised in the U.S. She is from New York and her parents are from Nigeria. Despite the petty hassles of work and school, Ify finds time to travel usually for AlMaghrib Institute seminars and to visit beautiful places. Pronunciation primer for her name, say it like this: E-fee O-coy-yeah!

46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hajera

    March 24, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    Score!

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      March 24, 2010 at 7:03 AM

      lol Epic comment

  2. Avatar

    Kaminari Ninjah

    March 24, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    I really would like to see yasir qadhi and tariq ramadan , suhaib webb talking aboutt muslimeen and mumineen in the west – that topic need to be dealt much more – even if a lot of ppl have dealt with it

    I would even like to see Tariq Ramadan with Kamal El Mekki talking about that topic I think a lot of ppl would like to listen to them – it could be very very interesting –

    We should write Eddie from the deeeen show to bring these ppl together

  3. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 24, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    This man seems to have some weird ideas to “update” Islam and its beliefs. May Allah protect us.

    • Avatar

      someone

      March 24, 2010 at 1:38 PM

      such as….

      • Avatar

        QasYm

        March 24, 2010 at 3:33 PM

        He’s not sure…but since he likes to make claims on individuals simply because he knows nothing about them…there must be something wrong with them.

        Mufti Abd-Allah to the rescue.

        • Avatar

          Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

          March 26, 2010 at 7:17 AM

          since he likes to make claims on individuals simply because he knows nothing about them

          Do you know Abd-Allah to be able to comment on how much he knows about Tariq Ramadan? If not, then your comment is ridiculously hypocritical.

          • Avatar

            Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

            March 29, 2010 at 12:37 PM

            If Abd-Allah had something real to say then he should have said it, instead of making a vague accusation and not backing it up with any specifics or proof. Dr. Ramadan has done a lot for Islam and the Muslims over the years. He deserves better than some vague, unfounded condemnation.

      • Avatar

        another white brother

        March 26, 2010 at 9:23 AM

        There was his call a few years ago for muslims to halt and re-examine the hudood. Very strange indeed, especially considering sharia isn’t fully implemented on a state level anywhere. He goes to extreme levels to hide the fact that he is related to Hasan al-Banna (ra) as well.

        He is on the modernist tip.

        • Avatar

          Stinger

          March 27, 2010 at 9:27 PM

          He said this because laws are being enforced in the name of Hudood when they don’t reflect the Hudood. As you said Shariah isn’t being correctly applied anywhere, so shouldn’t we first spread understanding about what Shariah truly is and what its true objectives are before we try applying it?

          This goes back to the classic discussion on when and how the Shariah should be applied especially in the current era of ignorance. Br. Ramadan only wanted to prevent abuse in the name of Islam no matter where it happens. I would like for him to explain his stance on the death penalty though because I believe he opposed that as well.

          • Avatar

            suhail

            March 27, 2010 at 11:46 PM

            Let me ask you first thing since you are supporting Ramadan’s call “Which scholar do u have which support this kind of call”?

            Secondly Hudud laws come with its own prerequisite and it is applied only is cases with total certainity but are not applied when there is any doubt regarding the crime. So there are prerequisite that needs to be fulfilled before the laws can be applied.

            Now lets say that those prerequisites are not being fulfilled than is the course is to remove those laws or to work with the authorities to resolve this issue.

            Are you saying to me that there are no misuse of secular laws. So what do secular society do? Do they throw away those laws? No they don’t.

            Then why do muslims whom Allah have commanded to apply his laws run away from shariah.

            Where in the Quran and Sunnah did Allah and his Messanger(SAW) told us that you can replace Laws of Allah with laws of Man even temporarily?

            Where in Quran and Sunnah does Allah and his Messanger(SAW) told us that you cannot apply Shariah untl there is good understanding among the masses of muslims?

            Where is the Quran and Sunnah did Allah and his Messanger told us that we can abandon Shariah because it will give muslims bad name?

            Allah has commanded muslims to apply the law that he has sent down and Allah(SWT) told us in Quran that those people who replace Islamic laws with Man Made laws are Tahgoot and there destination is in hell. Should be become one of those who wants to replace Allah’s law with man made laws even if those laws are not applied with justice.

            Please ponder on these things before you support Ramadan next time in his call for moratorium. I do know that Tariq Ramadan has some good works for muslims living in the west but it does not mean that we support him when he is doing that is against Islam.

            You guys are so happy to condemn Imam Anwar when he has also done a lot for dawah than why not condemn Dr Tariq Ramadan when he goes on the wrong path.

        • Avatar

          freshouttatime

          April 29, 2010 at 8:06 AM

          hmm i dont think he goes to any length to deny his heritage. if you remember ‘islam, the west and the challenges of modernity’ the prologue is all about his father Said Ramadan (who was key in starting the MB in Palestine) and the profound impact that Hassan al-Banna had on him. If i remember correctly he mentions al-Banna in ‘what i believe’ too.
          As an academic, its one thing to respect and acknowledge others (which i feel he does, ive never known him to shy away from his heritage), but if you expect him to sell himself as ‘the grandson of hassan al-banna’ everywhere he goes; then its as if he has no new perspectives to offer on ‘islam, modernity, and the west’ and instead is echoing the ideas of the past. and as a pretty legit muslim intellectual TR is much more than ideas from a certain place and time.

  4. Avatar

    ASAWB

    March 24, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    Reading that last part reminds of Linus Pauling (won two Nobel prizes without sharing).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linus_Pauling#Activism

  5. Avatar

    ma

    March 24, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    assalamu alaykum what is he preaching? this is an innocent question not to stir any debates. someone told me about his progressive islam teaching. i dont quite understand. can some explain to me in a nutshell jazakallah khair

  6. Avatar

    Nahyan

    March 24, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    thanks for the post

  7. Amad

    Amad

    March 25, 2010 at 7:04 AM

    Tariq Ramadan is DA-MAN.

    His books on Muslims in the West are a must-read… absolutely essential readings.

    And please, manhaj police, leave him alone :) Take benefit from him in the areas he offers in it. He is a true Muslim intellectual and is an asset for the Ummah. I know that Shaykh Yasir also looks up to him in many areas.

    In the Footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad

    Western Muslims and the Future of Islam

    Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity

    • Avatar

      UmA

      March 25, 2010 at 7:15 AM

      Short of me having to actually read an entire book, could you please share what are his areas of specialty and what sort of proposals does he make? I’ve only heard rumours, nothing more.
      jazakumullahu khayra

      • Amad

        Amad

        March 25, 2010 at 7:20 AM

        I hope to do a book review one day, but I found his books inspirational, courageous and relevant to Muslims in the West. Basic ideas that help Muslims understand their situations and encourage them to be productive, integrated citizens. In the “footsteps” book, he tracks the Prophet’s (S) seerah and derives lessons and relevance for Muslims in the West again.

        Don’t sell yourself short, read the books. They are worth it. Start with the Western Muslims one.

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      March 25, 2010 at 6:02 PM

      My dear brother Amad, you seem to have created your own boogy man and called it “manhaj police” just so you can easily dismiss any issue that comes up without having to really address it. This issue has nothing to do with the manhaj as you call it, and even if this man has some good to offer, you need to at least point out the things where he is wrong and address these issues. When you promote him, you are implying that most of what he says is correct and you are encouraging everyone to take knowledge from him in all aspects, especially since nothing else was noted to the readers.

      Tariq Ramadan’s reformist approach to suggest new understandings of Islam and of the Quran and sunnah lead to nothing but to deforming Islam in its pure form and original message. While there might be a difference between Tariq Ramadan and Asra Nomani, Irshad Manji, and their likes, but I am sure that they look up to him as well, especially the principles which he is calling for of reinterpreting Islam.

      I’m not saying that you can’t benefit from the good that he has to offer, but we can’t ignore everything else that he is calling for. The main issue that is problematic, at least in my opinion, is his call to reinterpret the texts of the Quran and sunnah in light of our modern context. Sure there are many ways for us to benefit and learn from applying the Quran and sunnah to our daily lives and the situations that we live in, but it is something different when the Quran and sunnah are “reinterpreted” to mean something new, and that causes the pure message of Islam to be changed to other than what the Prophet peace be upon him came with, and this opens the door to “modify” the things which some people might not like about Islam.

      I am also interested in the issue which brother suhail has brought up. Is this true, and how do you address this issue if he is really calling for that?

      • Avatar

        Talkum

        March 25, 2010 at 6:08 PM

        The thing with boogey-men is that they don’t exist. So, calling the manhaj police “boogey men” is problematic.

        • Avatar

          Abd- Allah

          March 25, 2010 at 7:33 PM

          Thank you for addressing the issues at hand brother Talkum.

          • Avatar

            Talkum

            March 25, 2010 at 8:51 PM

            I love you too bro for the sake of Allah. No kidding.

    • Avatar

      Hassan

      March 25, 2010 at 10:36 PM

      There is nothing wrong with people viocing their opinion in disagreement. Specially if they believe they are doing amar-bil-maroof wa nahi anil-munkir (promoting good and forbidding of evil). I do not know him (Tariq Ramadan), so I can not comment against him (good till proven bad).

      Manhaj police.., I like the idea. There should be people like that, I can definitely benefit from them.

    • Avatar

      Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

      March 26, 2010 at 7:28 AM

      And please, manhaj police, leave him alone

      I believe this is precisely the attitude that allowed Anwar to become so popular. Anyone and everyone is open to refutation. You can’t just dismiss, out of hand, criticisms just because you like some of his stuff.

  8. Avatar

    Kaminari Ninjah

    March 25, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    There are many ppl who can’t follow him by intellect , so they get confused some of them start talking about him and banning him and some try to understand him – and by the way this man is not a stupid one – for everything he says he has good evidences ! So if you hear something from him that sounds strange know that he has the answer for you if you just try to ask him – why do you see the things like that – but a lot of muslims are not on this level – like nouman ali khan said – intellectual humility – anyway

    here I have some clips for those who dont understand him or dont know what he is preaching !

    This here is very amazing – try to understand him =

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUqbk82Z3UI&feature=PlayList&p=F451C29024CAA2C5&index=26

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXNWxKrMpV0

    I really would love to see Yasir Qadhi discussing with him together about many topics – two men having an good background of knowledge and manners – the muslims would definitely benefit from it !

    He is much more stronger when he speaks in French

  9. Avatar

    suhail

    March 25, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    Well for once he has advocated moratorium on the hudud laws. So basically according to him Allah(SWT) did not knew what is good for human being and may be the Prophet(SAW) and Sahabah did not knew how cruel hudud laws are. So he is for the moratorium against the hudud laws.

    I think Amad and others are such fan of him is because he calls for integration with the western society. Which is fine to an extent unless you lose the identity of muslims and forget the al-wala-al-bara is one of the core concept in Islam.

  10. Avatar

    Ify Okoye

    March 25, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Dr. Tariq Ramadan offers a pragmatic and intellectually stimulating paradigm through which to view our situation as Muslims living in the West and in the modern world as a whole within an Islamic framework. Read his books, they are peerless.

  11. Avatar

    suhail

    March 25, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    He may have beneficial stuff and i am not arguing against that. But his Call for moratorium on hudud punishment is indefensible.

    • Avatar

      Ify Okoye

      March 25, 2010 at 10:14 PM

      Salaam,

      Have you read his argument for a moratorium? I, myself last read it about six or seven years ago. It sounds sensationalized here as though Ramadan is opposing Islamic law rather than as I remember questioning and looking for solutions to the way we often see it unjustly implemented around the world.

      Let’s take for example the situation in northern Nigeria where we have seen calls in the last decade for the implementation of shariah and so often in practice it is only the weak and the poor, the women and disenfranchised in society that are punished and the wealthy elites, the politicians, businessmen, and military officials that go free.

      A call for a moratorium could simply be a way to recognize the misapplication of shariah to cause injustice, a call for reevaluating the way certain laws are applied so that the principles of the shariah are preserved as Allah (subhanahu wa ta ala) and his Messenger (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) intended and not abused and to prevent even a single person from suffering under the misapplication or misinterpretation of shariah.

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        March 25, 2010 at 10:39 PM

        Wow, that is weird indeed.

      • Avatar

        Abd- Allah

        March 25, 2010 at 11:29 PM

        Sister Ify, it is something good if he is calling for the laws to be properly applied and for justice to be done, but to call for not applying the laws with the excuse that they are misapplied is not a very strong argument. If something is not done right, it should be corrected and performed properly rather than abandoned altogether. If a person is praying wrong, we don’t tell him not to pray, but rather we teach him the correct way of praying. I know this analogy isn’t perfect, but I hope you see my point. So it might have been better for him (and us) to call for a proper application of the laws and that justice is done rather than him calling for them not to be applied at all. So if he is calling for the laws to be applied justly and properly, then great and I agree with him on that issue, but if he is calling that the laws be not implemented so that justice is achieved, then I would advise him to reconsider this way about which he is trying to achieve that goal of justice, keeping in mind that Allah is the most Just, and so His laws serve justice to everyone, and where there is a problem with justice being done it is because of a misapplication (or lack thereof) of these laws rather than the problem being with the actual laws themselves. I don’t know exactly which of these two views Tariq Ramadan is calling for, so if anyone has more accurate and precise information on what he is exactly calling for regarding this issue specifically, then please do let us know. However, the main issue that really should be addressed here is his reformist approach which he is calling for that suggests new understandings of Islam and its texts.

        • Avatar

          Ify Okoye

          March 26, 2010 at 6:24 AM

          Br. Abd-Allah,

          Your point is taken and indeed, Ramadan is calling for the sharia to be implemented properly with justice. I began re-reading one of his books today and was going to begin typing some of his words but found a few online articles from his own website where he defends the call he issued in 2005:

          Tariq Ramadan: Response to the official statement of the Al-Azhar Legal Research Commission On the Call for a Moratorium published on March 30th, 2005.

          Tariq Ramadan: A response to Shaykh Dr. Ali Jum’a, Mufti of Egypt

          • Avatar

            Mostapha Å .

            March 26, 2010 at 7:54 AM

            Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmarullah wa barakatuhu,

            Of all the things that are wrong in the Islamic world, of Ramadan took his issue up with the conditions for hudud. Please.
            Muslims have been, due to non-Muslim influence, become so estranged to hudud and sharia in general that I cannot see anything else happening if his call were to be taken seriously other than that estrangement being deepened, and aversion to sharia strengthened.
            We should keep in mind that every secularist from now on will be able to use this “excuse” of the supposed lack of necessary conditions to argue against sharia, thus buying their time in hope that the longer it takes for the “conditions to be met”, the more estranged to it the people will become.
            Tariq Ramadan is without doubt a man with a sharp intellect; this is why it baffles me that he and modernizers like as him, rarely fail to get their priorities wrong (since fiqh of priorities is one of the topic they discuss the most). Tawheed and sunnah first, then everything else. Then, you may even not have a need for the application for hudud. Then, you may have the right conditions for their application, or at least an audience truly interested in the existance of such conditions due to their taqwa and willing to follow the sunnah in regards to this as well.

            Wassalaam,

            Mustafa

          • Avatar

            Ify Okoye

            March 26, 2010 at 9:32 AM

            Wa salaam alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Mostapha,

            It seems you agree with Ramadan more than you disagree as that was exactly the point he made i.e. that when we hear calls to implement the hudud today, they reduce the sharia to simply a set of exemplar punishments but that the shariah is so much more encompassing and deals with our belief in God, human interactions, economics, the political sphere, and social justice.

            Why rush to chop off someone’s hand or stone a person when they are starving, may not know the essence of tawhid, there is no access to education or clean drinking water, and when corruption is prevalent on a wide-scale where public officials steal from the government coffers?

          • Avatar

            Ibn Mikdad

            March 26, 2010 at 10:03 AM

            “It seems you agree with Ramadan more than you disagree as that was exactly the point he made i.e. that when we hear calls to implement the hudud today, they reduce the sharia to simply a set of exemplar punishments but that the shariah is so much more encompassing and deals with our belief in God, human interactions, economics, the political sphere, and social justice.

            Why rush to chop off someone’s hand or stone a person when they are starving, may not know the essence of tawhid, there is no access to education or clean drinking water, and when corruption is prevalent on a wide-scale where public officials steal from the government coffers?”

            Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu,

            First, I’d like to urge everyone not to fall into the trap of even nominally denigrating hudud by referring to one form of it as “chopping off of the hand”; when implemented correctly, application of hudud is ibadah, not an act of a savage as we are trained to think by our non-Muslim environment.

            Secondly, I agree that there need to exist conditions for the implementation of hudud, and not because Ramadan say so, but because (as he rightly points out) it is a part of sharia as much as hudud itself.
            But what Ramadan doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to tell us (since I cannot see how he wouldn’t know that) is that the existance of these conditions is supposed to be checked in every individual case, i.e. in case of every person who has done something that may require such punishment, and if they are not met in that specific case, then the hudud cannot be implemented in that case only. So the analysis of the conditions is to be done an a case-by-case basis, and not using hudud can be valid for those individual cases which don’t meet the right conditions.
            I do not see how would it be possible to reach the state in which it would be neccessary to stop the application of all hudud, and stop it everywhere. That would require a very high level of ignorance among Muslims and unwillingness to pay attention to what sharia dictates, which would again be a paradox since why would those who do not pay attention to what sharia dictates pay attention to hudud, which are a part of sharia? Calling for a general moratorium is meaningless; it seems to presuppose that no authority in the entire Ummah today is able to understand that these conditions need to be met; if there is a such an authority, a generalized call like this is pointless; he can only call for the authorities of a certain country (or countries) who are not paying attention to these conditions to start doing so, not to stop applying hudud.

            Wassalaam,

            Mustafa

      • Avatar

        suhail

        March 26, 2010 at 9:41 AM

        First of all none of the Muslim countries are applying hudud correctly or lets say they are not fulfilling the application of hudud punishment.

        The question is this ” Is anybody allowed to call for moratorium of the hudud punishment?” I am sorry to say but even Prophet(SAW) was not allowed to stop hudud punishment. It is obligatory on a ruler to apply hudud law or else he is rebelling against Allah and his deen. Prophet(SAW) would do his best not to apply hudud on a person by admonishing them or talking to the family of the people whose member has been killed etc but when all these things did not bring results he did apply hudud.

        Some people take the issue of Umar(RA) when he did not apply the hudud for a man who stole during the time of famine and say that he stopped hudud punishment. Rather it is the application of hudud that he did. He first told to cut the hand of thief but when he came to know his condition he stopped it because the prerequisite for applying hudud was not fulfilled.

        So nobody can call for moratorium of Hudud laws. There is ijma of scholars who have said that if a ruler does not apply hudud he has rebelled against Allah and his deen. Read Muhmmad Ibn Ibrahim Rahimullah’s fatawa regarding this. He is very clear about this.

        Now my question is he issued this call just after Amina Wadud first time led Salah. What is the point on calling a Moratorium when hudud is not applied anyways in most of the muslim world. Why a professor whose subject is Western Society and Islam would make a global call to stop hudud punishment when majority of muslim countries do not apply hudud laws anyways.

        I am sorry but even if hudud is misapplied than it is better to work on correcting it rather than stopping it because once you have stopped it applying it again is almost impossible.

        By the way he does not believe that stoning the adulterer is from Islam. I was reading one of the reviews of his book Islam and the west (something like that) where the reviewer said that he does not believe stoning the adulterer is from Islam So it would be better if we remove tinted glasses and see things as they are.

        He may have some good works just like Sir Syed Ahmed, Muhammad Abduh and many others had but he has that mordernist element in him which needs to be told to people.

      • Avatar

        suhail

        March 26, 2010 at 9:57 AM

        By the way i am not the only one who is telling this about Tariq Ramadan. Many mainstream muslim organisations like, ISNA, Islamic organisation in Europe and many others have said that this call is indefensible.

        They are correct in there opposition of Tariq Ramadan call. Why ? Because today he thinks that Hudud laws in Shariah is not to be applied , tomorrow he may call for moratorium on Family laws of the Shariah.

        The question is do muslims have the authority to call for moratorium of any part of Shariah be it hudud, family or economic laws. Where did Allah (SWT) and his Prophet(SAW) allowed muslims to get rid or shariah in a temporary manner or permanently.

        Rather in Quran you will find explicit verses where Allah says that who do not allow laws that he has sent down and replaces them with man made laws as being expelled from Islam.

        There is a Ijma of the scholar about a ruler who removes Allah’s law with man made laws as being a kafir.

  12. Avatar

    Hassan

    March 25, 2010 at 10:49 PM

    I am reading bits and pieces of his work, and I have a question if any sheikh can answer..

    Ahlul-Rai vs Ahlul-Hadith = Reformist vs Literalist ?

    What level of Ahlul-Rai is acceptable if at all?

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      March 25, 2010 at 11:11 PM

      Brother Hassan, I won’t answer your question because you asked for an answer from one of the shuyukh and hopefully one of them answers you, but Ahlul-Hadith are not literalists in that sense, but they stick to the texts and derive their beliefs and rulings from the texts such as the Quran and sunnah and stick to what is mentioned there, where as Ahlul-Rai do not stick to the texts specifically, and use their opinions, views, and a lot of philosophy to arrive at conclusions rather than stick to the texts and what they say. Most of the great scholars of the past were from Ahlul-Hadith.

      As for Reformist vs Literalist, then I don’t see those two as opposite really, although there is some sort of a relation between the two terms. Reformist vs traditional/orthodox would be a better way to put things, and Literalist vs Metaphorical?

  13. Avatar

    Mena

    March 26, 2010 at 12:12 AM

    I absolutely love Tariq Ramadan! His writing and tv talk show has helped the Muslim ummah sooooo much, may Allah (swt) protect this amazing person.

  14. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    March 28, 2010 at 2:38 AM

    Dear MM authors, I enjoy reading many articles on this site however I see a trend. Some of the articles and commentary being posted by some of your writers are clearly involved in the promoting of a modernist stance.
    Did they study and understand the concepts of al walaa wal baraa?
    This particular article really is unbelievable.
    It hurts to see the balancing act this guy is doing, his attempts at bridging the gap has actually let him fall into the gap.
    Aside from his views on huduud which are heinous. A particular disturbing statement that he made is that hijab should be taken off for the sake of education. Education does not only happen in schools, sir, indoctrination with a semblance of education does. Even the non muslim Christian and religious groups realize you do not give in to securalist bureaucrats and have started the homeschool movement as a result.
    Modernism is not sunnah but is abject weakness in the face of challenges.
    Here is an article in Salon showing our Modern Man at work.
    How lamentable and what times of fitan we live in.

    http://www.salon.com/books/int/2007/02/20/ramadan

    • Avatar

      Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

      March 28, 2010 at 8:14 PM

      Umm Bilqis,

      May Allah reward you for your concern and for the link. I have read a good amount of Tariq Ramadan’s writing but I was surprised and a little saddened by some of his answers in that interview. A lot of times one can mention general principles which can be understood in different ways and which contain benefit as a broad perspective (which is what Ramadan does in most of his writings) but when you answer specific cases the way you are leaning comes out more clearly.

      I sensed, and Allah knows best, a lot of influence of his continental European background in some of those answers. I also find this in some other of his writings. Truly, there are differences between the reality of European Muslims and Muslims in the U.S. I will leave the issue of understanding the European context to those who are more familiar with it, but I feel his answers for the U.S. context did not strike the right tone.

      The whole question of the rhetoric of religious obligation versus personal choice is also tricky and is a key methodological understanding. It is one thing to say that we do not force people physically to pray or wear hijab. In the west, this is not even a question. So, factually yes, it is a personal choice. But if we become uncomfortable with the notion that these are requirements or obligations then we have departed far away from any orthodox understanding of Islam. Of course, it is also true that we don’t judge individuals, we leave that to Allah. Is that any different from what Ramadan said in the interview? I can’t really tell…the rhetoric of the issue in the abstract is slippery.

      As you can tell if you’ve been reading, “MM Authors” have a variety of opinions on these issues and our scholars who post here are actively thinking about these issues and I think it would be wrong to assume there is any one set MM position.

      So keep participating in the discussions, raise your questions and concerns, share your knowledge, experiences, and understandings, and inshAllah together we can reach an understanding acceptable to Allah. May He (swt) purify our intentions and keep our hearts united.

      • Avatar

        Umm Bilqis

        March 29, 2010 at 12:26 AM

        Jazak’Allah Khairan brother Noor, Ameen to your dua.
        Your response has helped much may Allah reward you Insha’Allah.

  15. Avatar

    hamayoun

    April 6, 2010 at 10:50 PM

    Salam

    Sounds like a lot of the posters here want to ban Tariq Ramadan the same the way the USA banned him, on “idealogical exclusions”.

  16. Avatar

    European

    April 12, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    Dear Umm Bilqis,

    we must remember that Tariq Ramadan has been and is a strong advocate of the hijab, and he might be the person who has voiced the support of hijab in the strongest manner in Europe, being very active fighting anti-hijab laws in parts of Europe. Tariq Ramadan also continously emphasizes that the hijab is fard, that is an Islamic duty – but no one should be forced to wear it.

    We should not condemn people on the wrong basis.

    Jazak Illah

    • Avatar

      suhail

      April 12, 2010 at 4:39 PM

      Wrong basis. I mean come on. Nobody is saying that Tariq Ramadan does not have something good in him. Be just with people.

      If he is wrong in certain areas than point that out. Is he masoom that he cannot make mistakes. Call a spade a spade.

      He has mordernist leanings when it comes to issue of hudood and other matters. Read that interview that is posted on this very thread and you will know what is being said about him is not wrong. That is a big problem that he has. Other than that he may have something good.

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#Islam

When Faith Hurts: Do Good Deeds = Good Life?

Loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way- even if it hurts. It is a time to learn.

Zeba Khan

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hurts, hardship. Allah, test, why Allah is testing me

The Messenger of Allahṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that the faith in our hearts wears out the way our clothes wear out. Deterioration, maintenance, and renewal are part of the cycle.  That’s life with all that hurts. That’s normal.

But what happens when that’s life, but life is not your normal? What happens when it feels like life isn’t normal, hasn’t been normal, and won’t be normal for a foreseeably long time?  For some of us, refreshing faith becomes secondary to just keeping it.

It’s easier to say Alhamdulillah when you are happy. It’s harder when you’re not. That’s human nature though. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with what we teach about faith that can leave us unprepared for when Allah tests it. I believe that our discussions about faith tend to be overly simplistic. They revolve around a few basic concepts, and are more or less summed up with:

Faith = Happiness

Righteousness = Ease

Prayer = Problem Solved

Good Deeds Equals Good Life?

Basically, the TLDR is Good Deeds = The Good Life. None of these statements are technically untrue. The sweetness of faith is a joy that is beyond any other gratitude, for any other thing in this world. Righteousness in the sight of Allah will put you on the path to the good life in the afterlife. Making dua can be the solution to your problems. But when we say these things to people who have true faith but not happiness, or righteous behavior yet distressing hardship, we’re kind of implying that that either Islam is broken (because their prayers seem unanswered), or they are broken (because their prayers are undeserving of answers.) And neither of those is true either.

Allow me to elaborate. I think it’s safe to say that there is not a single parent who has not begged Allah to make their sick or disabled child well again. Yet, our Ummah still has sick and disabled children. Through history, people have begged Allah for a loved one’s life, and then buried them – so is prayer not equal to problem solved?

Many righteous people stand up, and are then ostracized for their faith. Many people speak truth in the face of a tyrant only to be punished for it. Many of us live with complete conviction, with unshakeable belief in the existence and wisdom and mercy of Allah, and still find ourselves unhappy and afraid of what He has willed for us.

Are We Broken?

No, but our spiritual education is. In order to fix it, we have to be upfront with each other. We have to admit that we can be happy with Allah and still find ourselves devastated by the tests He puts before us, because faith is not a protection from struggle.

Has anyone ever said this to you? Have you ever said this to anyone else?

No one ever told me. It was hard for me to learn that lesson on my own, when I pleaded with Allah to make my son’s autism go away, and it didn’t. Everyone told me –Make dua! The prayer of a mother for her child is special! Allah will never turn you down!

It was hard trying to make sense of what seemed like conflicting messages- that Allah knows best, but a mother’s prayer is always answered. It was even harder facing people who tried to reassure me of that, even when it obviously wasn’t working.

“Just make dua! Allah will respond!”

I’m sure people mean well. But it’s hard not to be offended. Either they assume I have never bothered to pray for my son, or they imply that there must be good reason why Allah’s not granting to my prayers. What they don’t consider is that allowing my test to persist – even if I don’t want it to- is also a valid response from Allah.

I have been told to think back in my life, and try to determine what sin caused my child’s disability, as if the only reason why Allah wouldn’t give me what I asked for was because I was so bad I didn’t deserve it. As if good deeds equaled the good life, and if my life wasn’t good, it’s because I hadn’t been good either.

Bad Things Happen to Good People

You can assume whatever you like about my character, but bad things do happen to good people, even when they pray. You can try your hardest and still fall short. You can pray your whole life for something that will never come to you. And strength of faith in that circumstance doesn’t mean living in a state of unfulfilled hope, it means accepting the wisdom in the test that Allah has decreed for you.

That’s a bit uncomfortable, isn’t it.  When we talk about prayer and hope, we prefer to talk about Zakariyyah 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – who begged Allah for a child and was gifted with one long after anyone thought it even possible. But we also need to talk about Abu Talib.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was raised by his uncle Abu Talib, and in his mission to preach Islam he was protected by Abu Talib.  But Abu Talib died without accepting Islam, was there something wrong with the Prophet, that Allah did not give him what he asked for? Was he not good enough? Did he not pray hard enough? Astaghfirullah, no. So if Prophets of God can ask for things and still not get them, why are we assuming otherwise for ourselves?

Making a Bargain with Allah

If we can understand that faith is not a contract for which we trade prayers for services, then maybe we can cope better when fate cannot be bargained with. Maybe it won’t have to hurt so bad – on spiritual level – when Allah withholds what we ask for, even when we asked for the “right” things in the right way and at all the right times.

Life is not simple. Faith is not simple. The will of Allah is not simple, no matter how much we want it to be, and when oversimplify it, we create a Muslim version of Prosperity Gospel without meaning to.

If you’ve never heard of it, prosperity gospel is a religious belief among some Christians that health and wealth and success are the will of God, and therefore faith, good deeds and charity increase one’s wellbeing. Have faith, and God will reward you in this life and the next. That’s nice. But it’s too simple. Because the belief that Good Deeds = The Good Life doesn’t explain how Ibraheem 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s father tried to have him burnt alive.

Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s brothers left him for dead in the bottom of a well. He grew up a slave and spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Aasiya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – the wife of the Pharoah – one of the four best women in the history of womankind – died from her husband’s torture.

Good people are not guaranteed good lives. Islam is what we need, not a system of practices that we use to fulfill our needs.

When we limit our understanding of faith to a simplistic, almost contractual relationship with Allah, then we can’t even explain the things that Allah Tested His own prophets with.

Nor can we understand, or even begin to cope with- what He Tests the rest of us with either. We have to be real in our talk about faith, because otherwise we set each other up for unrealistic expectations and lack of preparation for when we face hardship. Faith is not protection from hardship. Faith is part of hardship. And hardship is part of faith.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) asks us in the opening of Surah ‘Ankabut,

Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test? We certainly tested those before them. And ˹in this way˺ Allah will clearly distinguish between those who are truthful and those who are liars.

Allah says in Surah Baqarah, ayah 155: “And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of the fruits of your labor. But give glad tidings to those who are patient in adversity.

tests, hurts, faith , hardship

Allah Tests Everyone Differently

Allah tests each of us differently, but in every single case – every single time – a test is an invitation to success. Hardship is the process through which we prove ourselves. Experiencing it– and then drawing closer to Allah through it –is how faith is tested as well as strengthened.

If we can change how we perceive hardship, then we can also change how we perceive each other. On our cultural subconscious, we still see worldly failure as being equivalent to spiritual failure. So when we see people who are homeless, we assume fault. When we see people facing depression or divorce, we assume fault. We even look at refugees and victims and special needs children and we look for fault. Because if it’s that bad then it’s has to be someone’s fault, right?

Fault is how we place blame. Blame is how we know whose mistake it is. But the will of Allah is never a mistake, it’s a test.  Instead of faulting each other for what Allah tests us with, we could respect each other for the struggles we all endure. We could see each other with more compassion for our challenges, and less aversion when Allah tests us with dealing each other.

So when you’ve done things the right way, but the right things aren’t happening. Or you’ve been charitable to others, and they’re being evil towards you. Or you’ve earned only halal, but haram- it’s been taken away from you, remember this- your faith is being tested. Allah tests those that He loves. When He raises the difficulty level, Allah is extending a direct invitation for you to climb higher.

So How Do We Succeed When Faced With Failure?

The first thing to do is redefine failure. There is only one true failure in this life, and that is dying on the wrong side of Siraat ul Mustaqeem, because if close your eyes and wake up in Jahannam, no success in this life can compensate for that.

I find that helpful to remember, when I fail to stay fit because I can’t exercise without hurting myself, when I fail to fast in Ramadan because it’s dangerous for me to do so- when I fail to discover a cure for my family’s personal assortment of medical issues through rigorous internet “research,” none of that is my failure either. And I can feel a lot of different ways about these situations, but I do not feel guilty- because it’s not my fault. And I do not feel bitter, because my test is my honor. Even when I do feel scared.

Being scared in not a failure either. Neither is being unemployed. Being unmarried is not a failure. Being childless is not a failure. Being divorced is not a failure. Nothing unpleasant or miserable or unexpected is a failure. It’s all just a test, and seeing it as a test means you have the state of mind to look for the correct answers.

Not even sin is failure, because as long as you are alive, your sin stands as an invitation to forgiveness. The bigger the sin, the greater the blessings of repenting from it.  Everything that goes bad is the opening of the door for good. A major sin can be the first step on a journey that starts with repentance and moves you closer to Allah every day thereafter. Sin only becomes failure when it takes you farther away from Allah, rather than closer to him.

Jahannam is the Only Failure

Addiction is not a failure. Depression is not a failure. Poverty is not a failure. Jahannam is the only failure. Everything else is a gap in expectations.

You assumed you would have something, but it’s not written for you. You assumed you’d ask Allah for something and He’d give it to you, but what is that assumption based on again? That good deeds are the guarantee to the good life, and that prayer equals problem solved?

Allah has all the knowledge, Allah has the wisdom, Allah is the best of Planners – how are you assuming that your wishes supersede His will? Even when you put your wishes in the form of a prayer?

They don’t. It is absolutely true that Allah may choose to rewrite Qadr itself based on your prayers – but that’s still His choice. Allah has always, and will always be in control of this world. And that means your world too. If you still think you’re in control, you will find it really, really hard to cope the first time you realize you’re not.

When we understand that we don’t get to control what happens and what doesn’t, we can then release ourselves from the misplaced guilt of things going wrong.  Lots of special needs parents struggle with guilt. I meet them often – and every single parent has asked the question- directly or indirectly-

What did I do for my child to deserve this?

Can you hear the presumption in there? That the parents were good, so why did something bad happen? They were expecting for good deeds to equal the good life.

There’s a second presumption in there too, that their life choices were a determining factor of what happened to their child. That is a presumption of control. And as long as you try to hold on to that presumption of control, there is the constant feeling of failure when it just doesn’t work the way you think it will.

I am not proposing that we lose hope in Allah and despair of His Mercy. I am in no way insinuating that Allah doesn’t hear every prayer, hasn’t counted every tear, and isn’t intimately aware of your pain and your challenges. Allah hears your prayers, and in His wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we want. In His Wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we need.

Even if we don’t see it.

Even if it scares us.

Even if it hurts us – because Allah has promised that He will never, ever break us.

hurts, hardship, special needs

Allah Tests Us in His Mercy

I am proposing that we put trust in the wisdom of Allah, and understand that when He tests us, that is part of his mercy, not a deviation from it. When He grants something to us, that is part of His mercy, and when he withholds something from us, that too is part of His Mercy, even if we don’t like it. Even when we ask Him to take it away.

The third thing I would like to propose, is that we correct our understanding of – Fa Inna Ma’Al usri yusraa, Inna Ma’al usri yusra.

So verily, definitely, for sure- with hardship there is ease. Again, Inna – for sure, with hardship there is ease.

I’m sure lots of you have said this to people you loved, or to yourself when you’re struggling with something and you’re just trying to get through it. But did you mean that this hardship will end, and then things will be good again? Like as soon as things have been hard for a while, Allah will make them easy again?

Would you believe that’s not really what that means? Ma’a means with, not after. With this hardship, there is ease. And maybe you’re like aww man, but I wanted the ease! I want the hardship to go away and Allah I’m ready for my ease now!

But that hardship, will bring you ease. Allah does not tell us what the ease will be, or when it will be- but He says it’s there, so trust Him. Even if you can’t see it right away, or in this life –it will become apparent.

I can tell you some of the ease I found with mine.

Learning When It Hurts

When my son was diagnosed with autism, my husband and I had to drop everything. We dropped our plans to save, to travel, and to live the charmed life of neurotypical parents whose only fears are that their children may grow up and NOT become Muslim doctors. We spent our earnings and our savings and our time and our nights and our tears and Alhamdulillah, we learned patience. We learned perspective. We learned compassion.

We really learned what we thought we already knew – about unconditional love and acceptance. We learned to be bigger than our fears, and smaller than our own egos. We learned to give and take help. We learn to accept what wisdom our cultures could offer us, and respectfully decline what did not. We learn to set boundaries and make rules that did justice by our children and our family, regardless of whether they were popular. With hardship comes ease.

When we couldn’t afford therapy for my son, my husband and I founded a not for profit organization in the UAE that provided it for my son and dozens of other people’s sons and daughters. Three and a half years ago I left that organization to seek better educational opportunities for my son here in the US, but it’s still running. The seed that our challenges planted has grown into something beyond us. With our hardship came ease for ourselves and others as well.

When I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, my health issues were upgraded from challenging to permanent. I had to rethink how I lived, how I planned, how I dressed, and even – my relationship with Allah. But if I had never been sick, I would never have started writing. When it hurt, I wrote. When I was scared, I wrote. When I was lonely, I wrote. And by and by the grindstone of fear and sickness and frustration sharpened my skills. Where I am today both spiritually and professionally – is actually a direct result of both autism and chronic illness. With hardship comes ease.

I don’t like my hardships, but I don’t have to. You don’t have to either. Being a good Muslim doesn’t always mean being a happy Muslim. It just means being Muslim, no matter the circumstances.

That means loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way – even if not loving everything He throws your way. You may hate your circumstances, and you may not be able to do anything about them, but as long as you trust Allah and use your hardships to come closer to him, you cannot fail, even if this life, you feel as if you never really succeeded.

hurts, depression, faith , hardship

Faith Wears Out In Our hearts, The Way Our Cothes Wear Out on Our Bodies

The hardship that damages and stains us is Allah’s invitation to repair, renew, and refresh ourselves. Our test are an invitation, an opportunity, an obstacle – but not a punishment or divine cruelty. And when we know that those tests will come, and some may even stay, then we can be better prepared for it.

Trust Allah when He says that He does not burden any soul with more than it can bear. He told us so in Surah Baqarah Ayah 286. Remember that when you are afraid, and Allah will never cause your fear to destroy you. Take your fear to Allah, and He will strengthen you, and reward you for your bravery.

Remember that when you are in pain. Allah will never cause your pain to destroy you. Take your pain to Him, and He will soothe you and reward you for your patience. Take it all to Allah – the loneliness, the anxiety, the confusion. Do not assume that the only emotions a “good Muslim” takes to Allah are gratitude and happiness and awe. Take them all to Allah, uncertainty, disappointment, anger — and He will bless you in all of those states, and guide you to what is better for you in this life, and the next, even if it’s not what you expected.

The struggles in your life are a test, and whether you pass or fail is not determined on whether you conquer them, only on whether you endure them. Expect that they will come, because having faith is not protection from struggle. Faith is protection from being broken by the struggle.

I ask Allah to protect us all from hardship, but protect us in our hardships as well. I ask Allah to grant us peace from His peace, and strength from His strength, to patiently endure and grow through our endurance.

Ameen.

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What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

Web MD

The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza

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On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.

 

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