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One Year Later – Wanting Egypt to Prosper and Sisi to Fail?

In short, this alternative calls for the opposition to finally set aside the comfortable fictions of street/revolutionary legitimacy, on the one hand, and get over the undermining of their electoral legitimacy, on the other, in order to establish lasting institutional legitimacy.

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There is a lot to lament in Egypt and lots of blame to go around. Sometimes, this excess blame takes on a collective form: “Egyptians deserve what they get” — a mean spirited variation on “you reap what you sow” — is a not-uncommon refrain. Some are even hoping for things to get worse so that “they” can “learn their lesson.” So long as Sisi is in power, these detractors reason, how could you possibly wish Egypt and its people well?

To be sure, these days it is easy to dismiss Egyptians — to write them off not only as patently undemocratic, but as amoral (if not immoral). In the first instance, it has been a year now since scores of Egyptians took to the streets demanding Muhammed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president, step down from office, which ultimately paved the way for a military overthrow. The latter critique draws directly on the public’s indifference, acceptance and, at times, outright support of the coup’s violent aftermath. Indeed, the past twelve months have witnessed mass slaughter, thousands incarcerated on political grounds, hundreds sentenced to death, and numerous show trials — all without any sign of abatement.

One man, of course, is the common denominator across all these transgressions: Field Marshall Abdel Fatah El Sisi. Once suspected of being Morsi’s ace-in-the-hole in light of his seemingly Islamist leanings, Sisi would end up coordinating (some might even say orchestrating) the former president’s removal from office. Subsequently, he served as de facto leader during a transitional period that ultimately led to his coronation as de jure chief executive — a position that many presumed was always his for the taking.

What many find surprising is not the authoritarian backsliding so much as the relative paucity of pushback from the broader public. Is it fair, then, to associate the actions of the regime with the state and its people? Are Sisi and Egypt now one and the same? Is it no longer possible to support the country while denouncing its ruler? As with many issues in Egypt, there appear to exist two polar positions and both miss the mark. The more balanced, nuanced alternative that bridges some key pragmatic and normative concerns is altogether elusive.

Sisi? Yes

sisi

There is a sizable contingent in Egypt that believes Sisi can do no wrong. These partisans regard Sisi as a savior that “rescued” Egypt from the “tyranny” of Morsi. Under the ensuing accord — part Stockholm syndrome, part Faustian bargain — the promised ends of security and stability justified all “necessary” means.

For this faction, as Sisi goes so goes Egypt. It simply does not make sense to talk about one succeeding or failing without the other following suit. As such, any criticism (really, anything short of superfluous admiration) is tantamount to treason.

Clearly, this perspective is as short-sighted as it gets. Handing a former military leader carte blanche to rule the country as he wishes, as history has shown time and again, never ends well. So long as Gulf money keeps flowing and Sisi keeps projecting the image of the Egyptian strongman, however, it will be hard to convince uncles and aunties nostalgic for bygone “prestige” and trying to make ends meet, that Egypt’s leaders need to be held to account.

Morsi? No

Egypt Protsts Intensify As Army Deadline Approaches

At the other end of the spectrum are the former president’s ardent supporters who feel that no good can come to Egypt if Morsi is not reinstated. They regard Sisi as a usurper, his regime as illegitimate, and his security forces guilty of crimes against humanity.

For this faction, there can be no progress unless Sisi is removed from office and the political clock is turned back to June 29, 2013. Between spearheading the overthrow of an elected president and presiding over the Rabia massacre, along with many subsequent human rights violations, any “progress” would simply be the fruits of a poisonous tree.

Yet this framework is blind to the changing calculus not simply in Egypt, but in the broader region. With the 2011 uprising and the coup in 2013, Egypt has weathered two major shocks to its system; it is quite possible that the next one may prove crippling. That is, while Egypt may not be inextricably bound to Sisi, that does not mean that it can survive his forceful removal; it would likely prove too great a blow to absorb for an already fragile state. Moreover, with regional security in disarray, any action that could leave Egypt’s military weakened may be just as short-sighted as granting them unchecked power.

Simply put, there is just no scenario (as of now) in which Morsi returning to office improves Egypt’s political, economic, or security situation.

Working Both With and Against the System

There is a more prudent (if decidedly bitter) path for those opposed to the country’s current trajectory.

In short, this alternative calls for the opposition to finally set aside the comfortable fictions of street/revolutionary legitimacy, on the one hand, and get over the undermining of their electoral legitimacy, on the other, in order to establish lasting institutional legitimacy. In the first instance, liberal/secular groups will need to coalesce and offer coherent platforms while, in the latter case, jilted Islamists will need to lick their wounds and rebrand themselves for a parliamentary push. In both cases, acquiescence to the current status quo (however distasteful that may be) is simply unavoidable.

Admittedly there are drawbacks to this tactic. For one thing, it may very well be the case that meaningful participation/opposition is simply not possible in the current climate. What’s more, participating may serve as a stamp of legitimacy or political cover for the current regime. Even worse, if Sisi actually succeeds in pulling Egypt out of its current fiscal maelstrom and establishes some semblance of stability, such a performance may lend credence to the notion that only through military leadership could Egypt prosper.

These are all valid concerns and I don’t take any of them lightly. But the current crisis requires considering options that are the lesser evil, as clearly no good ones are abound. Less cynically, those looking to skew the trajectory of Egypt away from dictatorship must take more seriously the expected outcomes of their actions, weighing each possibility and the probability that it will occur. On balance, continued protests and boycotts will do little to change the situation, while the fostering of a viable alternative to military political rule, with the support of the few remaining pockets of independent journalism, can yield long term positive results.

This is a marathon — it always was, despite the numerous, reckless recourses to impatient sprints. A commitment to building viable democratic institutions, to imbuing them with public trust above and beyond any individual or group, is the only way to combat Sisi’s bid to entrench a cult of personality and continue Egypt’s descent into authoritarianism. It is a long and largely unsatisfying road, but the prize at the end is dignity and accountability: a political environment where “the people” and “the revolution” are not merely pawns in a dictator’s game.

 

Photos: AFP

Youssef is from Brooklyn, New York by way of Alexandria, Egypt. Currently, he is a doctoral student at the University of Southern California studying Political Science and International Relations. A student of Islam, history, and politics, his recent extended stay in Cairo placed him squarely at the nexus of these disciplines. Follow him on Twitter (@TheAlexandrian) as he tries to make sense of all that's happening in Tahrir and beyond.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mohammed

    July 6, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Salaam,

    Whilst I am a fan of your writing brother Youssef, I find it hard to agree that in the interests of Egypt the oppressed need to be pragmatic and partially accept their oppression.

    The very nature of the corrupt secular liberal fetid sissi-supporters in Egypt is that they will not accept any detente with the Islamic groups. At all. Ever.

    • Avatar

      Youssef Chouhoud

      July 6, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      W/Salam Mohammed,

      I get – and respect – your perspective. This wasn’t an easy position for me to come to and, now, advance. What ultimately lead me to it was the realization that there simply is no short term remedy to the regime’s transgressions that does not leave the overall state and its people in a worse off position. Moreover, the situation is such that appealing to a sense of justice will leave individuals and groups unsatisfied. What may have a chance in the longrun, however, is offering pragmatic solutions to the country’s ills and offering a viable alternative to indefinite rule by military strongmen.

      It’s not and easy row to hoe, but it’s one that, in my humble opinion, has more of a chance to bear fruit in the longrun.

      • Avatar

        Hassen

        July 9, 2014 at 2:56 AM

        I agree with your outlook, Youssef, (looking for long-term solutions to get Egypt out of a military-controlled government) but participating in upcoming elections is a wasted effort- there’s no doubt they’re going to be rigged. They learned their lesson from the 2011/2012 elections and there’s no way they’re going to leave the results up to the people again. All the referendums/elections b/w the revolution and the coup have consistently shown that a majority of Egyptians will choose Islamists, and that Cairo doesn’t represent the rest of Egypt. So free elections aren’t even an option for them.

        The real shame in all of this is that the Egyptians missed out on their opportunity to turn a page in their history and make this shift to a truly democratic society. I hope the April 6th movement and everyone in that camp have finally woken up and realize how naive they were in thinking Sisi would just take over and let the people press the reset button on this democracy experiment.

        Now that the military/power elite have regained power their grip is going to be 10 times as tight. Sure, they’ll probably want to give the impression of implementing democracy but the last election (if it can even be called that) is a telling sign that it’s just a show.

        The only long-term solution in my opinion is to work on the people’s hearts. Once they begin to live virtuously they will be able to see truth and falsehood for what they are and deserve a leader who will truly work for their benefit (as Heba Sh. pointed out in her comment below). Wallahu A’lam.

  2. Avatar

    md333

    July 6, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Well written article that provides a sane and healthy outlook on the current afair in egypt. The situation in egypt is more serious than sisi vs. morsi and people need to start realizing this. We need to set aside our biases to work together for a common benefit.

  3. Avatar

    wael77

    July 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    The Egyptian saga is done, for now. No further change or progress will occur in Egypt for a long time. The Egyptians demanded a return to dictatorship in the name of “security”, and they got what they asked for. Egypt will be stuck with Sisi for years to come, while the country continues along the familiar path of human rights abuses, stifled free speech, military control of the economy, and general stagnation.

    I suspect it will be at least 10 years until the majority of Egyptians wake up to the realization that they sold their own revolution for an illusion. Or maybe 20 years, or 30. We will have to see what the next generation can do, because this one proved themselves incapable of handling democratic change.

    As an Egyptian-American myself, I am deeply disappointed.

    • Avatar

      Youssef Chouhoud

      July 6, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      There were always bound to be fits and starts. For the time being, it seems there will be a few more fits and a few less starts. So yes, the near-term doesn’t look hopeful, but 1) democratization is always a long-term game, and 2) if the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that the political and social winds in Egypt can shift quite rapidly.

  4. Avatar

    ZAI

    July 6, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    Big problem with our discourse and socio-political culture in Muslim
    majority countries is that ALL “groups” tend to view it as a zero-sum
    game wherein the other “side” must be suppressed, oppressed, silenced
    or “defeated”. There is no tolerance for different opinions, behavior or
    ways of just being. Goes for all sides.

    Secular people and people who prefer a civil non-ideological form
    of non-intrusive government must make peace with the fact that religious
    people are part of the fabric of the nation and have EVERY right to
    influence and participate in governance/society through the prism
    of their religious values. They have just as much right to shape the nation
    as anyone. Supporting a military or secular fascism betrays any claims
    of human rights or progress they claim to stand for.

    Flipside, the ideologue Islamists must get it through their heads already
    that they do NOT have the right to craft laws that intrude in every single
    aspect of peoples lives. Most people will draw the line of government
    intrusion at their private lives and things which are moral personal issues…not
    issues of civil and criminal state and governance. Furthermore, religion…including ours…has
    different interpretations. Better to not intrude or interfere with people’s choices
    in that matter and foist on them an interpretation they don’t believe in as a matter of state.
    In other words there are LIMITS to their religious/ideological platforms and crossing
    those limits will GUARANTEED lead to rebellion. Sorry, but Morsi and co. blew it
    by trying to sneak a Brotherhood ideological document into place. They
    shoulda looked to Ennahda in Tunisia or AKP in Turkey to see how important
    balance is and how to get people on your side, including opponents…for
    the good of the country.

    Enough with these paradigms already. It’s way past time for us all
    to learn how to co-exist, compromise, cooperate and have tolerance
    already…and until we do, we’ll keep experiencing violence, oppression
    and destruction in the Muslim world…and keep falling prey
    to SIsi’s and ISISes who capitalize on the state of the social fabric.
    No one is going to “win” this way….

    • Avatar

      Youssef Chouhoud

      July 7, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      I think you’re spot on in your assessment of political/ideological parties in Egypt. There is a feeling that those on the other side of the divide are not just political opponents, but actually comprise an existential threat.

      It’s important though to understand why this is the case. The situation in Egypt now is not merely about setting in place particular laws or forming a short term governing coalition. What is at stake, in many ways, is the essence, the character of the nation-state. The questions being raised will have long term ramifications, and as such those with a vested interest are far more hardline than would be normally prudent. There is no underlying consensus — liberalism, for example — that a compromise can be based on; everyone is basically just playing it by ear.

      The other thing is that it’s not entirely clear that the norms you cite — tolerance, and the like — can be established absent a commitment to the democratic process. If the elites in society that control the messaging that trickles down to the masses don’t appear to buy into the utility — let alone the normative superiority — of democratic governance, it’s hard to imagine tolerance or any other related norms taking root.

      That is part of the reason why I advocate participation and a plea to pragmatic solutions. As of now, the government pretty much has carte blanche to do as it will (as evident from the recent unilateral prices hikes on gas). If leaders from the various groups can actually show a commitment to the democratic process, offer and alternative, and package that alternative as superior to effective dictatorship, then they can begin to sway the populace and lay the groundwork for the norms that will lead to actual stability (as opposed to the mere veneer of stability that exists today).

  5. Avatar

    fritz

    July 7, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    its amazing that some people in egypt would rather burn their country to the ground by handing it over to the Field Marshall Pillager that is Sisi than serve under a modest but collaborative govt with morsi

  6. Avatar

    Heba Sh.

    July 8, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Please note that for the sake of argument I am going to make some generalizations.

    As the common theory goes, “The ruler will be a reflection of its subjects”

    If we see oppression in the Middle East, it is because we Middle Easterners all have oppressive and unjust tendencies within us. Until we look inwards and change, the oppression will continue.

    You don’t have to be a killer to be an oppressor. When you treat someone negatively, in a way that you wouldn’t want to be treated yourself, that’s oppression.

    Yes….mashallah you pray 5 times a day and you fast and
    you are generous and hospitable. But how we treat other
    human beings is unjust and unkind.

    If you are a shop owner in one of the many souks and bazaars in the Middle East, then you probably tell 100 lies a day in selling your goods, that’s oppression. If you charge some of your wealthier customers more “because they can afford it”, that’s unfair and its oppression.

    If you live in the Middle East and you have a maid who is overworked and underpaid, that’s oppression.

    If you live in the Middle East and you see laborers from Bangladesh and Nepal and elsewhere working in hot temperatures and being paid peanuts for wages and you don’t do anything to prevent their injustice, that’s oppression.

    “But if I protest against the government, I will be arrested”, I hear you say.

    It doesn’t matter, if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem, turning a blind eye to oppression, makes you part of that oppression.

    If a driver cuts you off and you get mad and yell “kharab baitak” (May your house be destroyed) then thats oppression.

    If you care more about the World Cup matches in Qatar in 2022 and less about the fact they are using slave labor to build the stadiums, then you are an oppressor

    If you are a Middle Eastern father who would never dream of marrying your daughters to a good Indian or Filipino Muslim because “they are not Arab”, then you are racist and that’s oppression

    If you live in the Middle East and you have ever mistreated the Indian taxi driver or the non Arab guy making your shwarma sandwich and looked at him as inferior, that’s oppression

    I could give you many more examples, but this comment would become too long.

    We keep looking at the sources of our problems as being outside of us. We blame Sisi or Morsi or this guy or that guy. As the wise man said, anytime you point a finger at someone, you are pointing 3 fingers at yourself.

    Try to think of one Middle Eastern or Arab country that has no oppression. The same type pf oppression that these days is absent in “The West”). I will wait….

    In fact, think of one Muslim country today that is free from oppression….Whether it be Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, The Gulf Countries and others.

    The closest one I can think of is Malaysia but I know that even they have their issues.

    Remember….as the The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Each one of you serves as a mirror to his brother. Hence, if you see any fault in your brother, eliminate it.” [Tirmidhi]

    What you see in others(good or bad) is merely a reflection of yourself.

    • Avatar

      M

      July 8, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      I’ll agree with your comment, But I would like to add that the west isn’t all free from oppression or some sort of discrimination either.

      One thing that shows up a lot in arguments against the middle eastern countries is the treatment of South Asian workers. I will not disagree with that. But if we go back a hundred years, when the countries like America were not the world power, the situation was pretty much the same. They had workers who were not paid enough and lived in unfair conditions, eventually the workers released that they deserve more and they fought for their rights. In return the large corporations moved their factories elsewhere so they can pay someone less and keep most of the profit.

      That’s how I feel these countries became rich and developed.

      Although it’s true that people in the west are more likely to stand for their rights, I feel that the discrimination still exists towards certain racial and immigrant groups, specially in the work place. People might not get hired because of their names, and women still get paid less. Discrimination still exists but it’s more subtle in the west.

      Also, the problems mentioned here occur in places like Saudi Arab and other neighbouring countries, I am not sure if the case in same in Egypt. A lot of people have problems with the governments in those countries but not to the extent that they might want them to be over thrown, (there are very few countries where people are 100% satisfied with their government). The argument is not that simple. The main oil producing countries are still doing at least a somewhat better job then most of the developing Muslim nations.

      But it’s true, as an Ummah we do need to reflect on what we do before we blame the leaders for our problems. After all, the leaders do not come from abroad (or another planet), they come from the same society.

      • Avatar

        Akshay

        July 9, 2014 at 12:45 AM

        You are right. There is discrimination everywhere. And the westerners will be the first one to admit the dark ages of the past. But currently even though, atleast we have laws for equality. Laws to protect people. If you are discriminated against, you have laws to give you justice. But not so in the middle east. Discrimination will always exist due to human ignorance, but we need the laws to protect people from injustice.

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#Islam

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

Faith Community Stands With Peace And Justice Leader Imam Omar Suleiman During Right Wing Attacks

Hena Zuberi

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In a follow up to the right-wing media platforms attack on Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists, as well as criticism of Israel policies, Faith Forward Dallas issued a statement.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square – Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice is a Texas-based interfaith organization that has worked on many initiatives with Imam Omar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“Imam Omar Suleiman a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice!!!!!

Time after time in our city, in the United States and around the world, Imam Omar Suleiman has been a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice. When others seek to divide, he calls for unity. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square works to unite faith leaders for justice and compassion. Imam Suleiman has been a trusted leader among us. In the wake of his beautiful prayer to open the House of Representatives on May 9, he has received threats of violence and words of vilification when instead he should have our praise and prayers. We call upon people of good will everywhere to tone down the rhetoric, to replace hate with love, and to build bridges toward the common good.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square”

Commenters on the Faith Forward Dallas statement have left comments of support.

The group has invited locals and other leaders to endorse and share the statement. “Endorsed! I love and fully you Imam Omar Suleiman!” wrote Karen Weldes Fry, Spiritual Director at Center of Spiritual Learning in Dallas (CSLDallas), commenting on the statement.

Some commentators do not understand the manufactured controversy.  Heather Mustain writes, “What people are writing is so vile. They obviously didn’t even listen to his prayer!” Imam  Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives on May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas, TX.

“I’m grateful for the faith leaders with whom I’ve built relationships with and served with for years that have shown full support throughout this process. Together we’ve stood with one another in solidarity in the face of bigotry, and in the support of others in any form of pain. We will not let these dark forces divide us,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in response to the outpouring of love from the people he has worked with on the ground, building on peace, love, and justice.

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#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives

Zeba Khan

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Sh. Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives yesterday, May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas.

Immediately since, right wing media platforms have begun spreading negative coverage of the Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists as well as criticism of Israel policies.

News outlets citing the criticism have pointed to a post from The Investigative Project on Terrorism or ITP, as the source. The  ITP was founded by and directed by noted Islamophobe Steven Emerson. Emerson’s history of hate speech has been documented for over two decades.

Since then, the story has been carried forward by multiple press outlets.

The immediate consequence of this has been the direction of online hate towards what has been Imam Omar Suleiman’s long history of preaching unity in the US socio-political sphere.

“Since my invocation I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity,” Imam Omar Suleiman says. “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”

MuslimMatters is proud to stand by Imam Omar Suleiman, and we invite our readers to share the evidence that counters the accusations against him of anti-semitism, bigotry, and hate. We would also encourage you to reach out, support, and amplify voices of support like Representative E.B.Johnson, and Representative Colin Allred.

You can help counter the false narrative, simply by sharing evidence of Imam Omar Suleiman’s work. It speaks for itself, and you can share it at the hashtag #UnitedForOmar

JazakAllahuKheiran


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