Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

Taqiyyah Sunrise: Shining Light on Contemporary Deception

December 22, 2019

 

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

Let not the Believers

Take for friends or helpers

Unbelievers rather than Believers:

If any do that, in nothing will there be help

From Allah: except by way of precaution,

That ye may guard yourselves from them.

[Qur’an, The Family of Imran (Amram), 3:28 – Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation]

There has been some discussion over the past few weeks over the uses and misuses of the term taqiyyah within Islamic jurisprudence. This article seeks to clarify the origins, meaning, and application of the concept of taqiyyah. In doing so, my purpose is to minimise its use, as part of a hostile narrative which paints Muslims are religiously-obligated liars.

I also attempt to explain the damage which the malicious misuse of that term inflicts on British Muslims.

The context of the verse quoted above is the melodramatic battle between the Meccan Unbelievers and Medinan Believers that took place in the earliest days of Islam. The Arabic for “precaution” is tuqaah, an alternative version of which is taqiyyah. As a footnote, as advanced students of Qur’anic studies will know, there are 20 equally-valid recitations of the Qur’an from a basic text that had no vowels or diacritical marks: two of these versions read taqiyyah, whilst the rest read it as the synonymous tuqaah.

The main meaning of the verse is very simple and rather obvious: in times of conflict, one may protect oneself from one’s enemy by apparently ingratiating oneself with them means of dissimulation. This was particularly important for the Muslims persecuted in Mecca, and explains why Ibn Kathir, the 14th-century Qur’anic scholar of Damascus, related it explicitly to the following one:

Anyone who, after accepting Faith in Allah,

Utters unbelief – except under compulsion,

His heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as

Open their breast to Unbelief – on them is Wrath from Allah,

And theirs will be a dreadful penalty.

[Qur’an, The Honey-Bee, 16:106]

That passage makes it clear that the exception to the basic moral obligation to tell the truth about one’s religious faith applies only in circumstances of compulsion. This was not a purely hypothetical situation in the first days of Islam. Many of the Prophet’s early followers were forced, under pain of death, to practice taqiyyah, although some of them notably preferred to express their faith and achieve martyrdom. The above verse was revealed to the Prophet regarding the case of Ammar, son of Yasir and Sumayyah, all of whom were slaves owned by Meccan polytheists. Yasir and Sumayyah were both killed by their owners for rejecting polytheism and embracing monotheism: Sumayyah, a woman, was the first martyr of Islam. But Ammar wasn’t quite as strong as his parents, and was given permission to hide his monotheistic faith by outwardly professing polytheism.

Throughout Islamic history, therefore, persecuted people often had to resort to taqiyyah. The most famous examples of these originate in the experience of the Shia minority, who were often oppressed by Sunni rulers: although this situation was sometimes reversed in regional variations. Muslims persecuted during the Crusades, Reconquista and Spanish Inquisition also applied the principle of taqiyyah for self-preservation.

The principle of taqiyyah is, as you might expect, not limited to Islam: faced with severe persecution or death, and especially in war, most moral and religious codes permit dissimulation. “War is deception” is a principle found across many cultures, from Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War onwards. A takfiri jihadist, particularly one who had been caught and imprisoned while engaged in terrorism, might well believe that he was being persecuted, or was at war, and therefore was permitted to engage in religiously sanctioned dishonesty. It is not objectionable to point that out. However, many of the most deadly forms of incitement and stereotyping often take the form of distortion and misapplication.

To take a parallel example, the Hebrew term “hasbara”, which means “explaining” or “diplomacy” is commonly deployed by antisemites to suggest that Jews customarily engage in insincere propagandistic deception, and so should never be believed. There is a significant difference between observing, on the one hand, that a particular statement from a named Israeli government minister is propaganda, and suggesting that everything that Jews say can be dismissed as lies, on the other.

In a similar manner, it has become a common trope of anti-Muslim hatred, in particular by the far-right, to accuse all Muslims of taqiyyah. It is an accusation that is obviously impossible to rebut in the eyes of the haters, because no matter what Muslims may say or do, they may be practising taqiyyah!

That the alt-right and far-right peddle conspiracy theories involving taqiyyah is not surprising. But it is disappointing that The Times of London, one of the most important newspapers in the world, should publish Melanie Phillips saying so.

Melanie Phillips is a Times columnist and often appears on the BBC in its TV and radio programmes such as Question Time and The Moral Maze. She also writes for the Jewish Chronicle. In her article, “Islamists are not the same as other prisoners,” (The Times, 3 December 2019) she claims that “taqiyya, the command to deceive for Islam … is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practises it.” Her authority? A minor Lebanese academic who is a member of the relatively heterodox Druze sect. This is a bit like deploying Neturei Karta against mainstream Jewish sects, or quoting a Jehovah’s Witness as an authority on the doctrinal content of post-Nicene Christianity.

There is value in deepening our collective understanding of the commonalities between the approaches Abrahamic faiths: a task which I, a priest and a rabbi attempt to undertake in our book: People of the Book: How Jews, Christians and Muslims understand their Sacred Scriptures. Jewish and Islamic jurisprudence have many similarities, and an analogous principle to taqiyyah is found in Judaism: Rabbi Michael C. Hilton writes, “Melanie Phillips should know that there are important Jewish precedents for hiding your beliefs in a situation of persecution.”

And Rabbi Mark Solomon of London writes,

“I teach about taqiya in the context of medieval philosophers (like Maimonides) using taqiya to obscure their most radical ideas behind a screen of orthodoxy, but to accuse all Muslims of it is deception of a different order.”

Ironically, the vast majority of Muslims, 80% of whom are non-Arab, are probably unaware of this obscure concept that is mentioned only once in the entire Qur’an. To give an example, Osama Filali-Naji, founder of the Arab Millenials network, comments:

Interestingly, growing up as a Sunni Muslim, I never heard of the concept. The first I learned of it was from islamophobes who claimed I was practising taqiyyah. Ultimate paranoia!

It is true that hardened islamist terrorists, such as the Al-Qaeda & ISIS supporter Usman Khan who murdered two people at Fishmongers’ Hall, do misuse the principle of taqiyyah in order to further their cause. However, the charge that all Muslims are generally religiously obligated to lie, and do so routinely, is both dangerous and untrue. Moreover, it is dehumanising. It suggests that deception is in our nature, and that we are not to be trusted. At secondary school in North London in the 1980s, I learned in history classes that the Nazis had compared Jews to rats in cinema films. In 2013, at the Museum of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University, I remember my horror in viewing the Nazi footage that painted Jews as a plague on humanity. We understand, from the experience of too many persecuted minorities throughout the world, the deadly consequences of years of the steady, drip-drip effect of demonisation.

This is not a new complaint: just over a decade ago, Ed Husain warned of such use of the taqiyyah trope by the same writer. More recently, the Deputy Director of Hope Not Hate, writing in the Jewish Chronicle, TellMAMA and Dr Hisham Hellyer have raised similar concerns.

I cannot overstate how damaging the charge that Muslims are directed by their religion to lie has been. It is impossible for us to “prove ourselves” against the backdrop of this pernicious accusation of taqiyyah and consequent implication that Muslims can never be trusted. The Times, the JC, the Spectator, and the BBC should be ashamed of promoting someone who has made this charge against us for so many years.

Seventeen years ago, the New Statesman published an issue with a front cover which referred to a “Kosher Conspiracy”. The language of that headline invoked ancient accusations that Jews were conspiring to control the government. The subsequent reputational damage to that magazine, and to its then editor Peter Wilby, was significant.

The Times should learn the lessons of that episode. It is outrageous that a respected national newspaper should render the tropes of anti-Muslim hatred mainstream in this manner.


(Imam Dr) Usama Hasan

London, UK

22nd December, 2019

This article is slightly modified from the version published by the Jewish Chronicle on 19/12/19.  The main modification is the addition of several hyperlinks, plus a couple of other edits.  In particular, the taqiyyah reading is found in 1/10 qira’ats (Ya’qub al-Hadrami only), equating to 2/20 riwayats (Rawh & Ruways from Ya’qub), and not 1/20 as I incorrectly stated in the JC version.

ISLAM AND UNIVERSAL EQUALITY (A FRIDAY OR EID SERMON FOR HAJJ OR EID AL-ADHA)

August 9, 2019

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

 

ISLAM AND UNIVERSAL EQUALITY
(A FRIDAY OR EID SERMON FOR HAJJ OR EID AL-ADHA)

 

Mount of Mercy (Jabal al-Rahma), Arafat, near Mecca, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, 2006. This is where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his Farewell Sermon to humanity in 632 CE, echoing God’s last message to humanity in the Qur’an [49:13].  Photo credit: (c) Haris Ahmad

 

The “Million Man March” on Washington DC, 23 August 1968, that included Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic, “I Have A Dream” speech. Photo credit – Wikipedia

[This sermon is written to be read out, or adapted and edited by each individual preacher, khateeb or khateeba according to their unique situation, community and congregation. Delivery time is approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on your oratory style and any gems of wisdom that you would like to add further. You may also wish to add the traditional blessings upon mention of the Messengers of God, such as: “may God bless him and grant him peace.” You will also probably want to recite the Qur’anic verses quoted in Arabic as well – apologies that I do not have the time or technology at the moment to add the proper, mushaf text in Arabic. I hope to do that in the future, God-willing.]

 

[FIRST SERMON]

Al-hamdu li’Llahi rabbi-l-‘alamin. Was-salatu was-salamu ‘alal-mursalin – All Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds. Blessings and Peace be upon the Messengers of God.

 

As hundreds of millions of people around our world mark the occasion of Hajj and Eid al-Adha this week, let us be reminded and inspired by the Qur’an,

 

O Humanity! We created you from Male and Female, and made you into Nations and Tribes, that you may know each other. Truly, the most honoured of you in the presence of God are the most pious of you. Truly, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware [Qur’an, Surat-ul-Hujurat, Chapter: The Chambers, 49:13]

 

… And by the Prophet Muhammad’s “Farewell Sermon” or Khutbat-ul-Wida’ delivered at the Hajj in the 10th year of the Islamic calendar or the year 632 of the Christian or Common Era. The Prophet’s farewell sermon was appropriately, and breathtakingly-symbolically, delivered at the “Mount of Mercy” (Jabal al-Rahma), for he was the most merciful messenger of God Most Merciful, and echoed the Qur’anic verse above:

 

“O people, truly your Lord is One and your ancestor is one. Truly, there is no superiority of Arab over non-Arab, of non-Arab over Arab, of white over black, of black over white, except by piety: all of you descended from Adam, and Adam was created from dust (or the soil of the earth).”  This is a soundly-transmitted, authentic or sahih hadith, and perfectly-congruent in meaning with the individual and holistic messages of the Qur’an.

 

These are the definitive Islamic declarations of universal equality: although clearly some people do more good than evil and vice-versa, since piety is only known to God, outwardly and essentially in this life, all people are absolutely equal.

 

When Martin Luther King Jr. famously declared,

 

I have a dream … that one day people will be judged not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character …

 

he was actually not stating anything new, except perhaps in the 1960s US context of the civil rights movement, a clear example of a blessed, social jihad, despite the US founding declaration that it was a self-evident truth that “all men are created equal.” The Muslim world had possessed this teaching for over 13 centuries, for “content of character” is another way of saying “piety” or “righteousness”, as in the above examples from the Book of God and the Way of His Messenger.

 

Let’s reflect on that again:

 

Firstly, in the 7th century of the Christian or Common Era, that is, in what many people today regard as backward medieval times, the Prophet Muhammad was inspired with a message of God that began, ya ayyuhan-nas: “O people or humanity!” Now, we know that there are many ayat or verses of the Qur’an, dozens in fact, that begin with ya ayyuhan-nas: “O people or humanity!” But if we study their tarteeb an-nuzul or chronological, time-based order of revelation, do you know which one was revealed last after 23 long years of prophethood, persecution and patient struggle in the path of God?

 

It was this verse of Surat-ul-Hujurat!

 

Secondly, after those long, 23 years of utter submission, servitude and spirituality, the Prophet chose, and he was guided by God as always, to impart this key teaching, or deliver this key message, as part of his farewell sermon on the Mount of Mercy that, like Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount of Olives and Moses’ receipt of the revelation of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai centuries earlier, would resonate for millenia with the millions and millions of men and women of God.

 

The last verse of the Book of God addressed explicitly to humanity, and the last major message of the Messenger of God to mankind, delivered in the mountains of Mecca, the mountains that witnessed the message and still resonate with it, if only we knew. Therefore, this is indeed a universal, Islamic declaration by God and then by the Messenger of God, echoing and confirming his Brother-Messengers before him. But what does this universal Muhammadan proclamation say after ya ayyuhan-nas?

 

The Prophetic proclamation says, to paraphrase, that God created us and reflected in us the breathtaking beauty of His diversity, as males and females, and across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, for as we learn in multiple fields of God-given, beneficial knowledge, all of which is drops from the oceans of the Divine Knowledge, from mathematics to music to medicine to metaphysics, and from physics to photography to philology to politics and philosophy, the “opposite poles” of a spectrum such as “male and female” are often the dominant forces, normal modes, eigen-vectors and eigen-functions, but they also imply the entire spectrum itself.  “We created you from Male and Female.”

 

And in the Farewell Sermon, the Prophet reminded the male-dominated society that gender-based rights are mutual and that people of both sexes, the opposite pairs that imply the entire spectrum in between, complement each other in all aspects of life:

 

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you … Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your lifelong partners and committed helpers.

 

Another passage of the Qur’an reminds us of our humble origins, our need for loving partners and spouses, and our ethnic and linguist diversity:

 

Amongst His Signs is this, that He created you from dust; and then,- behold, you are people scattered (far and wide)!

 

And amongst His Signs is this, that He created for you mates, partners and spouses from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has placed love and mercy between your (hearts): truly, in that are Signs for those who reflect.

 

And amongst His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variation and diversity in your languages and your colours: truly, in that are Signs for those who know.

[Qur’an, Surat al-Rum, Chapter: The Romans or Byzantines, 30:20-22]

 

The message of the Messenger continues with this depth of diversity by reminding us that we are different nations and tribes: different peoples in language, culture, with collectively multi-coloured skins and multi-coloured personalities. We have individual identities, but also group identities: nations and tribes, a tribe being a very large family. People now have new tribes, from political and religious affiliations to fans and supporters of particular sports-clubs and genres of art or music.

 

Nations and tribes lead to nationalism and tribalism, both of which can be good or bad, or a mixture of the two. The positives of nations and tribes is that these matters give us a sense of belonging and the comfort of community, for we are social creatures. Nations and tribes can do great things, such as feeding the poor, looking after widows, widowers and orphans, caring for animals and the earth, toppling tyrants, fighting oppression and injustice and building great civilisations that reflect the Majesty and Beauty of God by harnessing the power of collective effort and the synergy of diverse material and spiritual forces.

 

But nations and tribes can do immense evil when these forces descend, like vicious, collective egos into cycles of hatred, violence and revenge. “My nation first, whether it’s right or wrong!  My tribe first, whether it’s right or wrong!” The whole of human history, including the past, present and future, is littered with the awful cruelty, violence, warmongering and genocide caused by God-given nations and tribes being utterly misused, for evil rather than good.

 

And this is why, in this verse of Surat-ul-Hujurat, God follows mention of nations and tribes with: li ta’arafu: that you may know and recognise each other deeply. Know yourself, and know your nation and tribe, to give you a strong sense of the positive values, individual and collective, that inspire you to goodness, but do not use them to hate other people, other nations, other tribes, other sports fans, other political parties, simply for being different to you and irrespective of right and wrong.

 

Fourteen centuries ago, the Qur’an reminded us to dig deep and harness our individual and collective energies for goodness, and to bring people together. God didn’t say: li tanafaru or li taqatalu, that I created you in different nations and tribes to hate each other or to fight and kill each other and indulge your mad, genocidal impulses, but li ta’arafu: that you may know and recognise each other deeply, and see the beauty of God in each other’s good qualities, for people are mirrors of each other, with all our goodness and evil reflected back at us.

 

One of the great strengths and positive resources of today’s world is that through our God-given learning, telecommunication and travel, We, the peoples of the world, not just “We, the people” of America or Britain or Russia or Saudi Arabia or Iran or India or Pakistan or the blessed lands of Africa and the other great continents, but “We, the peoples of the world” are able to know, communicate with, learn about and develop deep friendships, and therefore to recognise each other on a deep human level, individually and collectively, more than ever before.

 

I seek the forgiveness of God, for me and for you all, for all of us. Seek His forgiveness, for truly, He alone is the Forgiver, the Merciful.

 

 

[SECOND SERMON]

Al-hamdu li’Llahi rabbi-n-nas, maliki-n-nas, ilahi-n-nas. All Praise belongs to God, Lord of humanity, King of humanity, Deity of humanity.

We now come to the crux, literally, of these majestic, divine teachings that are perhaps more relevant today than in all the bygone millenia of human history, because of the ever-increasing size of the human race and the competition for the earth’s scarce resource. Within our lifetimes, ours and our living parents and grandparents, the human family has rocketed from 2 billion people to nearly 8 billion today.

 

God says: Truly, the most honoured of you in the presence of God are the most pious of you.

 

And the Prophet said in his last message to the crowds of thousands gathered around him on his Hajjat-ul-Wida’ or Farewell Pilgrimage to Mecca:

 

O people, truly your Lord is One and your ancestor is one. Truly, there is no superiority of Arab over non-Arab, of non-Arab over Arab, of white over black, of black over white, except by piety: all of you descended from Adam, and Adam was created from dust (or the soil of the earth).

 

In other words, we are united despite our diversity: we are one human family, for as our scientists tell us, we are a narrow species as a human race, and there is no real scientific evidence for different races, only different skin-colours, that themselves will disappear through the increasing inter-marriage accelerated by globalisation, so that humans in a few centuries or millenia will all be the same colour and it will be clearer that there is only one race: the human race, and that is our ultimate nation and tribe.

 

There is no superiority of Arab over non-Arab, of non-Arab over Arab, of white over black, of black over white, except by piety.

 

And let’s face it bluntly and honestly, many Muslims have forgotten this and our communities and societies are plagued with racism: Arab v. non-Arab, North African Arab v. Black African, Arab v. Turk v. Kurd v. Persian v. Indian v. Chinese and all the subdivisions underneath. This jahiliyyah that Islam brilliantly eradicated in the City of the Prophet is back with a vengeance.  As we know from other Qur’anic verses and commentary and study of history from a Qur’anic lens, God honoured the Israelites with being custodians of His Covenant. Then this duty and honour passed to the Ishmaelites or Arabs. A century after the Prophet, it passed to the Persians and North Africans and Black Africans and Kurds and Mongols and Indians and Turks.  And now, each of these groups have nation-states that are vying for leadership of the Muslim world, and each one is claiming superiority over the other based on its history and supposedly-better culture. And the Arabs in particular – and my family, like most families of Indian Muslim heritage, claim Arab ancestry, have no superiority over others because, as Imam al-Shafi’i categorically showed, every Muslim is an Arab of sorts because every Muslim can recite at least one line from the Qur’an in Arabic. Furthermore, the Qur’an being in classical Arabic, does not make any Arab or Indian or Turk or Persian superior, if we do not live by the exalted ideals of God’s Holy, Noble and Majestic Word.

No!  The people who deserve to lead the “Muslim world” are the true people of God, plain and simple, those who love God and are loved by Him and who are always with the poor and the oppressed and the marginalised. And sometimes, it requires the greatest courage to keep saying basic truths when these are being forgotten and ridiculed.

As the greatest custodians and authorities of the Islamic tradition agreed:

God will give dominance to a non-Muslim state that practises justice over a Muslim state that practises oppression.

This is because God is Truth, and God is Just, and He underpinned His creation with the Balance, that we may not transgress the Balance. And there is no point countering Islamophobia with Westophobia, for Western, non-Muslim societies that are more just and better at human rights will continue to dominate Muslim societies that are culturally infested by racism, inequality, oppression of women, have appalling human rights records and even practise medieval slavery in a few places, although human-trafficking of men, women and children for forced labour and sexual slavery is a new problem all over the world, and it is called “modern slavery.”

 

 

Piety, or God-consciousness or true spirituality, is ultimately the most important “content of character.”

May Allah inspire us with the examples of His beloved servants. May Allah bless all of our countries, our nations, our peoples, our tribes, and enable us to do good and avoid evil.

 

[DU’AS OR SUPPLICATIONS]

 

[May Allah be with you, and accept and bless your sermons and your prayers!]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usama Hasan

London, UK

Friday 8th Dhul Hijjah 1440 / 9th August, 2019

 

 

 

FREEDOM – Islamic reflections on Liberty

December 25, 2016

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

FREEDOM

Reflections by Imam Usama Hasan, Head of Islamic Studies at Quilliam Foundation, in preparation for the Inspire Dialogue Foundation conference in Cambridge, Saturday 17th September 2016, hosted by Lord Rowan Williams, Emeritus Archbishop of Canterbury

There are many universal human rights: arguably, freedom is one of the basic ones, intertwined with life itself. As Tipu Sultan, the famous Indian resistance leader against the British, exclaimed: “better to live one day, free as a lion, than to live as a slave for a thousand years.” Caliph Omar once berated one of his commanders, who had followed the common pre-Islamic medieval wartime practice of enslaving the women and children of a defeated army, asking: “how could you enslave people whom God had created free?!” echoing Moses’ defiant response to Pharaoh in the Qur’an (26:22), which asks: “is this the favour, of which you are reminding me, that you have enslaved the Children of Israel?”

Theologically, true faith is based on free will and free choice: any practice that is not free, including faith and religious observance, cannot be genuine. Hence the famous Qur’anic declaration (2:256), “There is no compulsion in religion!”

The centrality of freedom to faith raises important issues: drugs, alcohol, mental illness, carnal lusts and social pressures all mean that our choices and decisions in life are not totally free. How, then, are these actions judged by fellow humans and by God? In particular, one of the goals of religious practice has always been to remove internal shackles that inhibit our expression of humanity, enabling greater self-awareness and realisation of our potential. Thus, a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad says that “the world is a prison for the believer,” i.e. the moral person, and great sages survived imprisonment because they were, internally, free spirits. Ideas of freedom and liberty have, of course, strongly shaped the modern world since the 18th century with the abolition of slavery, French and American republican ideals and anti-colonial independence movements.

It is my firm belief that the great philosophers, sages and prophets: Moses, Mary, Christ and Muhammad, Buddha and Confucius, and men and women of God through the ages, supported the liberation of men and women of all colours, races and religions, children and slaves, individuals and populations, from the yokes of tyranny and oppression. Our modern heroes in this regard range from Wilberforce to Jefferson to Gandhi, Jinnah, Martin Luther King and Mandela.

But today, we still have our modern forms of slavery: bonded and child labour; entire multiple-generation families working in sweatshop factories; highly-organised international rings dealing in human trafficking, including that of children, for financial and sexual exploitation. Therefore, we need to address the above problems by rekindling the same spirit that historically liberated children from labour into education, slaves from enslavement into liberty, peoples from colonisation into independence, and people of colour from segregation and apartheid into civic equality.

Tony Blair, whilst UK Prime Minister, once said in an historic speech on Capitol Hill that “to be American is to be free.” In reality, as spiritual-animal beings made in the image of the Divine, to be human is to be free. Now, let’s continue with working towards inner and outer freedom, and sharing it with our fellow travellers, with the goal of reaching our full and common humanity.

BURMESE ROHINGYA ORGANISATION UK (BROUK): Urgent Aid Needed for Rohingya Starving in Their Own Homes

October 4, 2012

Bismillah.  Received from BURMESE ROHINGYA ORGANISATION UK (BROUK), London

Tel: +44 2082 571 143, E-mail: brorg (dot) london (at) gmail (dot) com , web : www.bro-uk.org

Date: 03/10/2012

 

Urgent Aid Needed for Rohingya Starving in Their Own Homes

 

A new crisis is emerging in Arakan State, Burma, where up to 700,000 Rohingya are trapped in
their homes and villages, unable to go out and buy food or farm because of ongoing attacks and
threats against them. BROUK is already receiving reports of babies are dying from malnutrition.
While international attention has focused on up to 100,000 Rohingya in camps for internally
displaced people, who are now receiving regular aid, hundreds of thousands more Rohingya in
areas not visited by aid workers and international observers are starving in their own homes.

It has been almost 4 months the violence erupted in Arakan State, Burma, and since then local
Rohingya people describe being under effective siege by government forces and local Rakhine
communities. Constant human rights abuses committed against Rohingya make it unsafe for them
to leave their homes to get food.

BROUK has received the following information from the ground about abuses committed in the
past week, which give an indication of the type of abuses forcing people to stay at home:

1. Two Rohingya were killed in Sittwe while they went to buy food from Central Market.

 

2. No Rohingyas can go to school, hospitals, or markets most of the towns of Arakan State.
Several people who tried to go out were beaten and killed.

 

3. Many Rohingyas were arrested in Maungdaw Township. Those who were arrested have
disappeared.

 

4. Around 3000 Rakhine armed with weapons, together with Rakhine Monks, gathered and
surrounded Rohingya areas for hours in an attempt to recreate violence against the
Rohingyas in Sittwe. They demanded all Rohingyas to come out of their houses or they
would kill each and every Rohingya in the area.

 

5. 3 Rohingya boys were shot by government authorities while they were watching their
cattle in the pasture between paddy field and forest nearby the village in Pauktaw
Township.

 

6. In Pauktaw Township many babies have died because of malnutrition. Adults are also
reported to be starving.

 

7. Rohingya face a boycott in many areas with local Rakhine shopkeepers refusing to sell
them food.

 

8. Prison and security forces in Buthidaung jail are cutting off or burning the penises of
Rohingyas, forcing them to have homosexual sex with one another, cutting off or pulling
out their finger nails, severely beating them, keeping them naked all the time, keeping
them without food and water for days. When they are given foods once in many days, it
is on the ground with their hands tied at their backs. Authorities in the jail force them
through immense torture to confess that they are animals and that’s why they have to eat
like animals.

 

9. The bound and dead body of a Rohingya man was found in Sanpya village of Sittwe.

 

10. More than 10 Rohingyas were robbed and beaten, receiving serious injuries, by police
and security forces while they tried to travel from Alay Than Kyaw village to another
village in Maungdaw.

 

11. Those with bullet injuries and disease are in acute mental and physical pain without any
medical care and treatment.

 

BROUK President Tun Khin said: “President Thein Sein has already publicly stated that he wants
to ethnically cleanse all Rohingya out of Burma, even asking for international help to do so. He is
already implementing this policy, using starvation instead of bullets to kill Rohingya men,
women and children.”

 

“Hilary Clinton, David Cameron, Ban Ki-moon and others are praising Thein Sein at the same
time as he is killing our people. They should be insisting to end the starvation siege against
Rohingya, and allows in international aid all effected areas in Arakan. They should also be
working at the UN General Assembly for a UN Commission of Inquiry into what is taking place.”

For more information contact Tun Khin on +44 (0)7888714866.

 

True Story of a Survivor of Terrorism – Sayra Mobeen

March 3, 2012

Bismillah.

This relates to the twin suicide attacks at the International Islamic University of Islamabad in October 2009.  One of the targets was the women students’ cafeteria.  (Here is BBC and Guardian coverage.)  An injured survivor of that attack has written a brief piece about her experience, over two years later.

I received this from Major (Retd.) Tahir Wadood Malik, who was featured along with IIUI survivors in a moving Channel 4 Dispatches documentary about terrorism in Islamabad: City of Fear.  His comments are given below, followed by Sayra’s story.

Sayra Mobeen is a student at the International Islamic University at Islamabad. she was badly injured in the twin suicide attacks in the university on 20th October 2009.

The extent of trauma can be seen by the fact that it has taken her over two years and lots of persuasion to write her story.

May Allah help us all to overcome this menace of extremism that we are faced with in Pakistan, aamin.

If you have any comments or want to send her a message, these will be passed on to Sayra Mobeen.

Thank you Sayra, our prayers, and support for you and your friends will always be there.


Victims & survivors of terrorism, please come together to ‘speak truth to terror’
Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network, Islamabad, Pakistan
http://paktsn.webs.com/

True Story of a Blast Victim

SAYRA MOBEEN

Student BBA (Honors)

Islamic International University Islamabad

The morning of 20 0ctober 2009 was delightful and astonishing for me not for the country; I was happy to go to classes for my studies and be with my friends. Ignoring the years of unending dilemma of Pakistan facing the threat of terrorism; that every face showed pain did not matter to me.

I am not a keen follower of the news, and that is why I could not feel the pain people faced by being in a bomb blast, or of losing a loved one in a terrorist attack.

The twin blasts in my University that day changed my life, as it was the first strike on women students in Islamabad. This incident left deep effect on my life. Bringing me face to face with a disaster which in its wake brought a lot of challenges for me.

Sadly I am a victim of that incident, and have been lucky to survive to tell my story, and look at life in a different perspective.

I remember that day after classes I came back in my hostel room at about 2:45 pm. My friend Umme Kalsoom came to my room and asked me to accompany her to the cafeteria, so I got up and we left.

We went to the cafeteria fruit shop but they had sold out the fruit etc. I don’t know why we were in hurry that day to go in the café, as we both ignored our class fellows who were sitting outside the café asking us to join them, and entered the main hall of the cafeteria.

We bought salad and some other eatables and sat inside the café on the left side of the hall, we still did not join our friends outside! We realized that we had not bought soft drinks so I went and bought these.

As I reached near the fountain in the hall, on my way back to our table, I suddenly heard a dreadful sound, and saw lots of smoke; my ears were deafened. I felt as if I had been hit by something forcefully. I was disoriented and fell down. The pain made me realize I was hurt and I could feel the pain on my body, arms, legs, forehead and chest. Later I found that the major injuries I received were on my chest.

Humble thanks to Almighty Allah that I was in my senses and tried to walk away from the cafeteria to save myself, but could not. I then saw my friends coming back to look for me; my shirt was full of blood which was coming from the wounds on my head and chest; when Umme Kulsoom  she saw me in this critical condition she started crying.

I asked Umme Kulsoom to look for my cell phone which I lost in this melee so I could call my family, she asked a female employee of café to look after me while she went to look for help.

I was feeling afraid because of the blast not for the pain or my injuries. The café staff told me I had severe injuries so I should go to the hospital, and tried to put me in a taxi, I refused because I did not want to go alone by taxi. The staff then left me and walked away, which hurt me more. I missed my family and friends and started to cry.

In the meanwhile my friends came looking for me, and picked me up, I was in great pain, and they took me to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. The doctors decided to undertake surgery because of the nature of my injuries. I was very afraid because I knew my family was not with me, and I did not know what would be the result of the operation. But that is perhaps what saved my life.

After initial treatment in the PIMS and in view of the nature of my injuries, I was sent to the Combined Military Hospital at Mangla Cantonment for treatment. I underwent treatment at Mangla and suffered lots of pain and surgical interventions, for approximately four months. During this period my family and I suffered a lot, as they had to arrange for a place to live at Mangla, and commute from Abbottabad to Mangla regularly.

My injuries were similar to the injuries that soldiers receive in the battle field. The doctors at Mangla took great pains to remove the pieces of shrapnel and other stuff in my body, but even then, they could not remove all, and some non-life-threatening pieces of the material that was used in the suicide jacket, are still in my body and will remain in me for my life. It hurts at times, but at least I am alive.

As I said I did not pay attention to news of bomb blasts when I saw it on television or read about this in the newspapers, therefore I could not assess the pain of others; especially those who suffered during terrorist or suicide attacks.

Since my ordeal, I can recognize the pain and difficulties of survivors and victims’ like me, and Alhamdolillah I can empathize with them and help them in their recovery from trauma.

This unpleasant incident did not close the door of life on me; it showed me the other and pleasant direction of life. I am happy, and grateful to Allah that I am passing my life normally, thanks to my family, friends, and many other people who helped me recover, and this has strengthened my belief in the saying that “obstacles come in life to polish one, or make one like a diamond.”

 

WHAT HAPPENS TO A MARRIAGE IF ONE OF THE COUPLE CONVERTS TO ISLAM?

January 13, 2012

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

WHAT HAPPENS TO A MARRIAGE IF ONE OF THE COUPLE CONVERTS TO ISLAM?

 Traditional Islamic jurisprudence says that Muslims should only marry each other.  The only exception to this is that Muslim men are allowed to marry women who are Ahl al-Kitab (People of Scripture), usually limited to Jews and Christians.  Traditionally, Muslim women were not allowed to marry non-Muslim men.  But what happens to a non-Muslim couple who are married, and later one or both of them convert to Islam?  Here are some fatwas on the issue, that slightly differ from each other:

A. Fatwa of The European Council for Fatwa & Research, including Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Sheikh ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah, Sheikh ‘Abdullah al-Judai, Sheikh Suhaib Hasan and others (from Sheikh ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah, Sina’at al-Fatwa, pp. 356-7)

  1. If both of the couple become Muslim, and they are not close relatives by blood or suckling that would make the marriage invalid, their marriage continues in its validity. (NB they do not need an Islamic nikah ceremony.)
  2. If only the husband converts to Islam, they are not close relatives and the wife is a person of scripture, their marriage continues in its validity.
  3. If only the wife converts to Islam, the view of the Council is that: a) if she converts before the marriage is consummated, she must leave him immediately; b) if she converts after consummation and her husband converts within 3 months or within 3 of her monthly cycles, their marriage continues in its validity; c) as before, but if a long time period has passed, she may remain with him in the expectation that he will convert also.  If he eventually converts, their marriage continues in its validity, without needing a new marriage ceremony.  d) If she wishes to leave her husband after the 3-month time period, she should seek dissolution of her marriage from the relevant authorities.

4. If the wife is Muslim and the husband is not, the four Madhhabs do not allow her to remain with him after the expiry of the 3-month period, or to have sexual relations with him.  However, some scholars allow her to remain with him, fully-married, as long as he does not harm her regarding her religious practice and as long as she has hope that he will also convert to Islam eventually.

It is authentically narrated from ‘Umar bin al-Khattab that a woman became a Muslim while her husband remained non-Muslim: he ruled, “If she wishes, she may leave him or if she wishes, she may remain with him.”  Also, there is an authentic narration from ‘Ali bin Abi Talib: “If the wife of a Jewish or Christian man becomes Muslim, he is entitled to remain her husband, since he has a covenant with the Muslims.”  Similar views are authentically-narrated from Ibrahim al-Nakh’i, Imam Sha’bi and Hammad bin Abi Sulayman.

 

B. FATWA OF SHEIKH ‘ABDULLAH AL-JUDAI (from his book Islam Ahad al-Zawjayn, pp. 249-251)

  1. There is no decisive, unequivocal text (nass qati’) about this matter.
  2. There is no consensus (ijma’) about this matter.
  3. Pre-Islamic marriages are sound and valid.  They can only be annulled for definite reasons.  Difference of religion is not a definite cause of invalidity due to the absence of an unequivocal text and due to the existence of a difference of opinion about the matter.
  4. Evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah shows that a couple remaining together with a difference of religion does not damage the basis of their faiths.  Their relationship remains sound, not corrupt.
  5. The simple fact that one of them converts to Islam does not invalidate the marriage.
  6. Despite the multitude of people converting to Islam in his time, it is not recorded at all that the Prophet (pbuh) separated a husband and wife or ordered their separation due to one of them converting, or due to one of them converting before the other.  What is authentic from him is the opposite, as in the case of his daughter Zaynab who remained married to Abul-‘As for six years after she converted to Islam and before he did so, just before the Conquest of Mecca and after the revelation of Surah al-Mumtahinah.  The most that happened was that she emigrated and left him in Mecca after the Battle of Badr, but her emigration (hijrah) did not nullify their marriage.
  7. To say that the ayah of al-Mumtahinah ends marital relations due to a difference of religion is not correct.  It only applies when one spouse is at war with Islam (harbi), not simply a non-Muslim (kafir).
  8. The ayah of al-Mumtahinah allows a believer to marry a believing woman whose husband is at war with Islam.  It does not obligate this.  The story of Zaynab shows that a woman’s marriage to a non-Muslim (harbi) man changes from being binding to being allowed.  The reason for this is the difficulty of her returning to her harbi husband, and the difficulty she faces without a husband.
  9. The ayah forbids a Muslim man from retaining a non-Muslim wife who has not joined him in emigrating from a land of kufr to a land of Islam, or has fled from him, renouncing her faith and joining non-Muslims who are at war with Islam.  The reason for this is to prevent an inclination towards ones enemies, as happened with Hatib bin Abi Balta’ah, who wrote to the polytheists about some of the movements of the Muslims due to the presence of some of his relatives in Mecca.
  10. When one of the couple converts to Islam whilst the other is not at war with Islam, they are allowed to remain together.  They are not separated simply due to difference of religion.  The evidence for this is the practice of the Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions regarding those who embraced Islam in Mecca before the Hijrah and at the Conquest of Mecca.  This was also the fatwa given by ‘Umar during his caliphate without any opposition, and also by ‘Ali.
  11. A difference in religion due to the conversion of one of the couple to Islam allows the annulment of the marriage but does not obligate it, as shown by the judgment of ‘Umar with the endorsement of the Companions.
  12. The conclusions of the Madhhabs in this matter are not to be given precedence due to their opposition to what is established, weakness of evidence (dalil), weakness of juristic indication (istidlal), or all of the above.
  13. The allowance for the couple to remain together means that their marital life together is permitted, including sexual intercourse.

 

C. TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE LIKELY EFFECTS ON CHILDREN

The majority of jurists regard a man who doesn’t pray regularly out of laziness as still a Muslim and not a kafir, so his wife is not obliged to divorce him.

In certain situations, the wife is allowed to have patience and persevere with her marriage, despite the objectionable behaviour of her husband, especially if she has children from him and she fears that they will become psychologically ruined and wasted.

(Sheikh ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah, Sina’at al-Fatwa, p. 353)

Compiled and translated by Usama Hasan, London, 13th January 2012

Minor updates: 21/12/2015

A PDF version of this article can be found here: One of a couple converting to Islam

Update: 26/01/2017

D. A SIMILAR ANSWER GIVEN BY SHAYKH GIBRIL FOUAD HADDAD

Q&A reposted from http://eshaykh.com/halal_haram/convert-required-to-divorce-non-muslim-spouse/

Convert required to divorce non-Muslim spouse?

Question:

As-salamu ‘alaikum,

An urgent question that has certainly come up again and again, requiring an absolutely authoritative answer, is what is to be done if a married woman accepts Islam but her husband does not.

Let’s say as an extreme example that they’ve been married for fifty years, have ten children together and love each other dearly. The wife has no job skills with which to provide for herself, much less for her children; the husband is ill or handicapped and his wife takes care of his needs. He’s fine with her new faith and lets her practice as she likes and teach it to their children but does not want to accept or commit to it for himself.

What to do? Telling a Muslim woman who is already married to a non-Muslim man that she must divorce him because staying with him is haram, deserves the death penalty and will earn her Hell isn’t the same thing as telling an unmarried Muslimah that their intended marriage to a non-Muslim man is prohibited and will nullify her profession of Islam. Moreover, there are no children involved who love their father and might end up traumatized and hating Islam if it the breakup of the household. Additionally, forcing *already-married couples *to break up would certainly deter many non-Muslim women from converting to Islam, no matter how much they may wish to if it means breaking an existing or possible future marriage.

Please understand that I’m not arguing with Allah Subhanuhu wa T’a’ala. Hasha,  God forbid! Rather, I’m just trying to understand how the Islamic Shar’iah deals with this specific situation, which is certainly not rare in our time. The website,

https://unity1.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/what-happens-to-a-marriage-if-one-of-the-couple-converts-to-islam/

deals with the issue but I need to know how acceptable this opinion is for Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jam’ah. May Allah greatly reward you for any help you can give.

Answer:

Alaykum salam,

If there is acceptance on his part and tolerance for his wife’s religion then there is hope for himself eventually accepting Islam. This hope is the basis for validating the continuity of their marriage as in the case of Fatima bint Asad and her non-Muslim husband Abu Talib.

And Allah knows best.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife? The Quran, Hadith and Domestic Violence

January 3, 2011

Bismillah.  I began work on this at about 5am on 1st January and, Praise God, have completed it around 55 hours later.  I am grateful to all my teachers and friends who encouraged me to write this work.

My conclusion is simple: God and Muhammad, peace be upon him, clearly wished to
ban domestic violence, as numerous hadiths indicate.  The verse was always known
to be a temporary compromise, an extremely limited concession that required
minimum use of violence, if at all.  “New” findings are:

1. Numerous hadiths say emphatically, “Don’t beat your wives.”  The Qur’an
apparently says, “You may beat your wives.”  This apparent difficulty must be
resolved.  The verse is perhaps the most quoted by critics and enemies of Islam,
the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

2. The article tries to highlight a basic and serious flaw with the way many
Muslims read and teach the Qur’an, including some preachers and clerics.
Helping to correct this problem will, God-willing, open the way to dealing with
numerous other controversial issues and “problematic” ayahs and hadiths.

3. Many issues around human rights and women’s rights, gender-equality,
dhimmitude etc. may be fruitfully-addressed along similar lines.

Feedback is welcome, especially from students and scholars of Islam as well as activists and reformers, particularly those involved with women’s rights.  If you find the work of value, I would be grateful if you could help circulate it as widely as possible, and publicise its conclusions that are given in a 2-page summary at the beginning of this 17-page study, and repeated below (with additions) for easy reference.  May Allah reward you. – U.H.

Read the study here: Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife – The Quran on Domestic Violence

With the Name of Allah, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

HAVE YOU STOPPED BEATING YOUR WIFE?

THE PLAIN TRUTH ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & THE “WIFE-BEATING” VERSE OF THE QUR’AN, INCLUDING A HOLISTIC STUDY OF IMPORTANT BUT RARELY-QUOTED HADITHS ON THE SUBJECT

© Usama Hasan (London, UK)

3rd January, 2011

CONTENTS

1    SUMMARY OF THIS STUDY.. 3

2    INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND.. 5

3    THE QUR’ANIC VERSE REFERRING TO WIFE-BEATING.. 6

3.1       Notes on this verse. 6

3.2       Ibn ‘Ashur’s Contextualisation of the Verse: Then and Now.. 8

4    SOME HADITHS RELATED TO THE VERSE OF WIFE-BEATING   9

4.1       An Apparent Difficulty. 10

4.2       Resolution of the Difficulty. 10

4.3       A Fundamentalist Interpretation. 10

4.4       The Normative, Orthodox Interpretation. 10

4.5       A Refutation of Alternative Interpretations of “Beat Them”. 13

4.6       A Weak Hadith That Might Otherwise Justify Wife-Beating. 15

5    CONCLUSION.. 17

SUMMARY OF THIS STUDY

  1. There is a verse (ayah) of the Qur’an (Surah al-Nisa’ or Chapter: Women, 4:34) that may appear to condone domestic violence against women.  The verse says, “You may beat your wives.”
  2. Domestic violence is a problem in most, if not all, communities and societies.  For example, current statistics indicate that approximately 1 in 3 British women experience domestic violence during their lifetime.  Although the overwhelming majority of cases of domestic violence in Muslim households are due to wider human factors such as difficulties with relationships and anger-management, a handful of cases involve the husband feeling justified in using violence against his wife on the basis of this Qur’anic text.
  3. Such an attitude is not uncommon amongst socially-conservative Muslims who are “religious” in a formal sense: for example, a conservative leader of Indian Muslims is said to have given a public statement in 2010 denouncing a new law in India that criminalised domestic violence, thus: “They are taking away our divine right to hit our wives.”
  4. This fundamentalist misinterpretation of the Qur’an is sometimes sanctioned by the legal system in Muslim-majority countries, for example, as in the UAE’s Federal Supreme Court ruling of October 2010.
  5. A large number of hadiths (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) contain the explicit, emphatic prohibition, “Do not beat your wives!”
  6. These hadiths may appear to contradict the Qur’an, if the latter is read in a superficial, fundamentalist way.
  7. A holistic reading of the Qur’an, Sunnah and Hadiths, taking into account the socio-historical context of the revelation of the Qur’an and of the Prophetic guidance preserved in authentic hadiths, shows clearly that God and Muhammad wished to ban wife-beating and domestic violence completely.  As a temporary measure, and as a step on the way, an extremely limited, reluctant concession was given that only allowed minimal violence as a symbolic gesture of displeasure on a husband’s part.  This was in a strongly patriarchal society that used to bury baby girls alive because of their gender and where sons would inherit their fathers’ wives.  Such practices were outlawed by Islam, which also granted rights to women in 7th-century Arabia that were only achieved by European women in the 19th century, such as the independent right to own their property upon marriage.
  8. The evidence for this interpretation is overwhelming, from the 8th-century AD Mufti of Mecca, ‘Ata bin Abi Rabah, who ruled that “a man may not hit his wife” to the 20th-century Mufti of the Zaytuna in Tunis, Ibn ‘Ashur, who ruled that the State may ban domestic violence and punish any man who assaulted his wife.
  9. The “gradualist” approach of the Qur’an and Sunnah described in this case is a common feature in Islam.  Other examples are the prohibition of wine, gambling, fornication and adultery.  Modern reformers argue that the same principle applies to the abolition of slavery and the struggle towards gender-equality.
  10. Recently, a number of Muslim thinkers and scholars, unfamiliar with the holistic approach to the Qur’an, Hadith and Shari’ah embodied in the universalist Maqasid theory of Islamic law, have attempted to re-translate the “wife-beating” verse to mean something else.  Alternative translations and interpretations include temporary separation of husband and wife, travelling and even making love as a way of solving marital disputes.  A prominent example of this is Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar’s recent translation, The Sublime Qur’an (2007) that is largely-promoted based precisely on her translation of the wife-beating verse. Although well-intentioned, such interpretations and translations are either grammatically unsound or far-fetched, or both.  Furthermore, they ignore the overwhelming evidence provided by the Hadith traditions and simply do not placate the critics of Islam.  The normative, orthodox account of the issue in this study provides a thorough, honest and principled solution to the difficulties apparently posed by the wife-beating verse.
  11. The presence of hadiths with weak isnads (chains of narration) that would otherwise justify wife-beating may be evidence that some early Muslims themselves misunderstood the issue and either fabricated or misreported traditions on the subject.  The value of the work of expert Hadith scholars throughout the ages who meticulously sifted genuine narrations from the weak ones, may be seen to be crucial.  The work of al-Albani, a 20th century Hadith scholar, is especially valuable, for example his gradings for every hadith in the four famous Sunan collections of Sunni Islam.  Albani concentrated more on the chains of narration than the meanings of the traditions, but nevertheless confirmed that all the hadiths banning wife-beating or only allowing a limited concession are authentic whereas all those justifying it absolutely are weak.
  12. This study highlights a fundamental problem with the way many Muslims, including some scholars and clerics, read the Qur’an.  Rather than being read as a “textbook” or “instruction manual” as some superficial, populist, fundamentalist or Hadith-rejecting preachers advocate, it should be remembered for what it is: a collection of divine signs, guidance and wisdom revealed by God to the heart of His Beloved, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, by God via the Archangel Gabriel (Jibril), the Holy Spirit, peace be upon him.  This guidance was transmitted by practice and oral teaching (remember that “Qur’an” means “A Reading” and hence oral transmission) at first, and only collected by the Companions as a written book after the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, for fear of this Divine Treasure being lost for ever.  Furthermore, this guidance was always supposed to be manifested by righteous people of piety, humility, good character and the remembrance of God, taking their situation and socio-historical contexts into account.  A critical awareness of hadith and history has always been required, along with the worship of God and the service of humanity, to be guided towards the true way of following the Qur’an.

Free Jaafar al-Hasabi, a British-Bahraini human rights activist

September 21, 2010

Please see also the new blog:

JUSTICE FOR JAAFAR

Bismillah. I learnt recently that Jaafar al-Hasabi, a 38-year-old British-Bahraini with a wife and five children, has been detained without trial in Bahrain since mid-August 2010 (Ramadan 1431). Jaafar graduated from Middlesex University in 2009 with a B.Sc. in Business Information Systems with Information Technology. He studied my module (Decision Support Systems) in 2007, which is when I got to know him briefly. He was an activist amongst some of the Arab communities in London, and seemed to be a pleasant person.

It is alleged that he has been tortured in over the last month. Jaafar had previously alleged that he had been tortured in the 1994 before coming to the UK. Details are given in the links below. The British and Bahraini governments and embassies need to act swiftly to rectify any injustices that may have occurred. We can help by campaigning appropriately for justice.

The Guardian, 7/9/2010: Britain urged to act over Bahrain torture claims

Press TV: Committee set up to pursue Bahrain “torturers”

Press conference, 7/9/2010: Bahrain’s “slide into the abyss”

The same press conference with the detailed Q&A session, including a voice challenging the activists

Some background from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights website: attacks on activists etc. (a collection of articles)

Free Jaafar al-Hasabi page at the Gulf Cultural Club website

Jaafar’s story of torture from 1994 (REDRESS website); or read it here: JafaarAlHasabi.

Brief coverage at the “Atlas of Torture” website

The Islamic Human Rights Commission has a number of alerts about the recent arrests in Bahrain, plus a forthcoming publication (30/9/2010) about the country called “Broken Promises.”

May Allah keep Jaafar safe and reunite him with his family very soon.

UPDATE (23/9/10):

Here is the website of the Bahraini embassy in the UK, tel. 020 7201 9170.

The main news item on the website of the UK Embassy in Bahrain (tel. +973 17574100) has a large photo of William Hague with the headlines from his speech in London 15/9/10:

Please watch this space for more info.  I would also appreciate any advice, links, connections etc. in demanding justice for Jaafar.  Thank you.




MECO conference 2010, Oxford

June 15, 2010

Bismillah.  I attended this on Saturday 12th June 2010 and spoke on “Does the Muslim World Need A Scientific Revolution?”  Main points: we need to be more analytical/contextual about tafsir, hadith, fiqh etc. Plus reflections from a Muslim viewpoint on the 9 main effects of the Scientific Revolution in the West according to Prof. John Henry in his book, The Scientific Revolution & the Origins of Modern Science, Palgrave, 3rd ed, 2008. These 9 points are in the 1st two pages of the book and are enough, you can skip the rest of the book if you wish. And you can read those two pages & more for free on Amazon’s Look Inside feature!

Other speakers

Amina Wadud spoke via video-link in the morning before I got there. Merryl-Wynn Davies was there, nice to finally meet a childhood heroine who is often confused with Mariam Davis, another convert from the same era.  Merryl-Wynn is currently running the relaunch of the Muslim Institute as a Fellowship / Learned Society with journals, conferences, workshops etc.  Jeff Mirza the comedian was there: Jeff is his stage name & he’s an East Londoner. No relative of Shazia Mirza.

Asghar Ali Engineer: India passed a new law against domestic violence recently; a senior Muslim leader said that they’d “…  deprived us of our God-given right to hit our wives.”

There was a fascinating presentation on evolution by Dr. Shanavas of the USA. Darwin must have known of William Draper’s work, the US chemist, & of the evolutionary novel Hayy b. Yaqzan by Ibn Tufayl, since several English translations were widespread at that time. Draper wrote roughly that Christian theologians were too constrained, and should learn from “Mohammedan societies that developed & are comfortable with evolutionary ideas.”  If this analysis is correct, Darwin’s theory had many ingredients from Muslim thinkers (Ibn Miskawayh, Jahiz, Rumi, Ibn Tufayl, etc.) and is effectively an Islamic theory.  Rather ironic!

Hassan Mahmoud the Bangladeshi film-maker gave away DVDs of his film Hila about the oppression of women in the name of Sharia.

The “hijabis” there thanked me for defending their right to wear the headscarf, since a veiled woman can be a symbol of God. (God is veiled by creation & our egos.) Several of the revert sisters there had removed the headscarf after many years of wearing it since they felt it was counterproductive.

I politely challenged the total Hadith-rejecters there such as Edip Yuksel. His view is strongly based on seeing his mum, who he feels was buried alive in Turkey by being forced to wear a burqa, not having a real life & totally dependent on her husband. There are many weak, fabricated & problematic ahadith but the Hadith-rejecters throw the baby out with the bathwater, and I told them that.  They are keen to assert the primacy of the Qur’an over the Sunnah.  At the other extreme, some of the Ahl al-Hadith said things like, “The Sunnah rules over the Qur’an, and not vice-versa.”  (They meant in the sense of the Sunnah conditioning the general verses of the Qur’an, usually in fiqh matters.)

For me, the relationship between Q&S is best understood by Imam Shafi’i’s statement, “Everything that the Prophet SAWS said or did is what he understood from the Qur’an.” (I first read this in a book by the late Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazzali rahimahullah.)  Furthermore, others amongst the Salaf said that “Every sound hadith can be traced back to the Qur’an.”  Only people well-grounded in the Qur’an and the Sunnah can understand this in detail.  A clear grasp of the Spirit of Islam and its general principles is also required.  This is also why some of the early Malikis said that “Ahadith were misleading for all except the people of understanding (fuqaha’).”

Yuksel was wearing a “www.19.org” T-shirt and I told him that I, like many of my generation, were initially very excited by Rashad Khalifa’s “Numerical Miracle of the Qur’an” theory based around the number 19 in the 1980’s.  He guessed that we became disillusioned later.  Yuksel is currently based in Tucson, Arizona and had known RK for a year.  He confirmed that RK had indeed claimed to be a Messenger of Allah, and that it was a jihadi cell that had assassinated him in 1990.  This cell seemed to have links to the first WTC bombing, and therefore some in the FBI regard the killing of RK as the first jihadi attack in the US.

The young revert sisters from Atlanta, Melissa Robinson & Kelly of the American Islamic Fellowship were interesting. “Going to gender-segregated mosques perpetuates misogyny. An expensive new mosque there has a lattice screen for the sisters, whose prayer-area is effectively a birdcage.”

Raheela Raza was there from Toronto, a grey-haired woman from Toronto.  She’d led the Friday prayers at MECO the day before.  Highly-controversial, of course, since the overwhelming majority of jurists have been opposed to women leading a mixed congregation.  However, exceptions have been Imams Tabari & Abu Thawr, and it is even said, one of Imam Shafi’i’s (female?) teachers and Ibn Taymiyyah.

Raza grew up in Pakistan and owes much to that country, although she is worried that Islam there is dominated by extremism.  She recited a moving poem about women’s rights in Islam at the conference – “I am a woman. Celebrate me.”  In conversation, she mentioned that the TV series, “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” had helped  enormously to shatter misconceptions about Muslims in Canada and show them as decent human beings with a sense of humour.  (Muslims in the UK should take note, especially given the results of the YouGov survey last week about public perception of Muslims here.)  She also said that the actress who plays the “gorgeous hijabi” in the series appeared in a game-show wearing a micro-skirt, to the total confusion of many kids watching.

Milan Sulc was there.  I remember his presentation at the Islam & Science conference @ Wembley Arena around 1995. Science in the Qur’an stuff. He saw deep-sea oceanic waves in the ayah of “waves upon waves” in Surah Nur. Also Prophet Solomon’s winds that “travel a month’s distance every morning & evening.” His explanation was that if you compare earth & moon circumferences and motions, you find that our atmosphere travels the same distance in half (or quarter?) of a day as the moon does in a month. I’m not too convinced by the latter explanation.

On the way back, I got to Oxford train station at 10.45pm.  The train stopped at Didcot due to engineering works.  A rail replacement bus took us to Reading.  There were two beautiful Arabian horses from Thames Valley Mounted Police outside Reading train station.  Got on the 12.13am Reading-London train but it didn’t move because the train in front had hit someone, a suspected fatality (a drunk, suicide or kid playing on the line?) and the Reading-London line was closed.  We eventually reached Paddington at 2am after the reopening of the line and two night buses later, I was at Leytonstone station.  An ambulance was parked outside, probably from our Whipps Cross Hospital nearby.  The two-man crew asked me if I had seen anyone lying on the floor in the street or the station subway, since they’d had a call for someone.  I hadn’t.   An invigorating walk later, I got home with dawn spreading (past 3am), birds singing & foxes loitering.  After such a journey, it was easier to do the dawn prayer with a feeling of gratitude rather than simply duty.  Alhamdulillah.

Please help bring 2-year-old Aishah Sabra home to the UK

April 21, 2010

2-year-old Aishah with her mother Leila

Bismillah.  This is a heart-breaking story.  Please help, especially if you have access to Egyptian civic and religious authorities.  I hope the UK Foreign Office are doing their best also, although politicians are distracted by the upcoming elections.  Since Leila cannot work in Egypt, she will be eligible for zakat if she doesn’t have much money, as a stranded traveller.  It seems that she has sold her home in Manchester to help pay the legal bills.  Please read details of the case on the petition site (link below).  The behaviour of Aishah’s father (Leila’s ex-husband) seems to be utterly shocking.

Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134831589747#!/group.php?gid=134831589747

A recent appearance by Leila & Aisha on GMTV can be seen at:
http://www.gm.tv/videos/?vxSiteId=85319fc3-9ce2-44d7-b3ec-c25a155372ac&vxChannel=GMTV%20Top%20Stories&vxClipId=1441_gmtv_8523&vxBitrate=700

“Help bring 2yr old Aishah Sabra home to the UK” Petition
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/aishahsabra/

Update 20/5/10:

Mum’s fight to bring daughter home hits cash crisis

A heartbroken mother whose daughter was abducted in Egypt says she may have to return to England without her unless she raises more money.