Participation of Muslims in U.S. Political System

Prepared By: Imam Mohamed Ramadan

Introduction

In recent months, the coming presidential elections in the United States, scheduled for November 2004, have raised a public debate among American Muslim organizations. Issues such as U.S. support for Israel; the occupation of Iraq; the global war against terrorism; question marks on the human and civil rights of American Muslims; feelings of general hostility towards Muslims by the American public and politicians; and the shutting down of Islamic foundations in the United States, have raised doubts among American Muslim organizations and private citizens, over whether or not the six million member-strong American Muslim constituency should take part in American political life, including the presidential elections. Meanwhile, the general opinion of Muslim leaders in the United States supports the active and intensive participation in the various election campaigns and the political life in the United States.

Is it permissible for Muslims living in a non-Muslim country to vote in elections governed by un-Islamic rules?

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: (and ask the people of knowledge if you knew not) (16:43) (and if they had referred it to the Messenger and to those in authority among them, those among them who can search out the knowledge of it would have known it,) (4:83).

This is the guidance of Islam, which teaches us to seek clarity from the people of knowledge who are specialized in the field in question. It is the same way we seek the advice of a specialist in medicine when we become ill, and the mechanic when our cars break down, we should seek the guidance and clarity from scholars of Islam when we are unsure about a matter in this Deen.

Our intention should be seeking the truth, and following what is right and convincing regardless if it matches what we desired and thought to be true or not. This makes a great distinction between a truth-seeker and that who accepts only what suits his preconception or desire. Allah says: (But no! By your Lord! They do not believe (in reality) until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decision, and submit with entire submission) (4:65).

Here is a collection of answers by various scholars given on this matter. Please do read them with an open heart – may Allah guide us to the truth and that which satisfies him alone.

Yes to participation

On November 1st 2003, the popular web site Islam On-Line published the most recent Fatwah on this issue, by Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Ash-Shanqiti, President of the Islamic Association of Lubbock, Texas. The Fatwah was an answer to the following question:

Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. There is a great controversy among the Muslim communities in the US concerning whether it is permissible for Muslims to participate in the coming elections, its benefits and regulations. Some people say it is essential for the Muslims to take part in the U.S. elections so as to change the extravagance of the current administration, which has started its colonial policies in the Arab and the Muslim World.

On the other hand, another group sees that it is haram (unlawful) to take part in elections in non-Muslim countries, either by voting or being a member of their parliaments. They see that Muslims must keep away from such elections. So, what is the juristic view on the whole issue? Jazakum Allah khayran.

The last ruling is a continuance of the previous one from October 2003, by Dr. Taha Jaber al-`Alwani and Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, two of the leading Islamic scholars in the United States. Dr. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), was answering a question about the participation of Muslims in local elections across the United States. Dr. al-`Alwani, President of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences and President of the American Fiqh Council, widened the spectrum of this question to the participation of Muslims in the American political system at large. Both these American Islamic scholars support the participation of Muslims in all fields of American political life, and thus simultaneously, pave the way for Muslim candidates to nominate themselves to various elected posts.

The most interesting and important Fatwah in this regard however, was provided in February 2002, by Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi of Qatar. The Arab World and Muslim communities in the West regard Qaradawi as the supreme religious authority of the Muslim Brotherhood of our times. His Fatwahs serve as a basis for many major rulings in cardinal issues, including suicide operations against civilians; Islamic economy; immigration; participation of Muslims in the U.S. military forces in Iraq, etc. The recent ruling, (The Obligation of Muslims to participate in the US Political System) is a continuance of the previous ones by Dr. Salah al-Din Sultan, President of Islamic American University, Professor of Islamic Law, Cairo University

(1) Fatwa of Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Ash-Shanqiti

“First of all, I’d like to draw the questioner’s attention to two incidents which deserve deep reflection and which can be taken as the basis and reference of the issue in hand. One of them is mentioned in the Qur’an and the other is reported in the Prophet’s Sunnah.

The first is the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph, peace be upon him), as recorded in the Glorious Qur’an. We see that Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) asked the king of Egypt to appoint him as the keeper of Egypt’s public treasury. Allah Almighty says: “He said: Set me over the storehouses of the land, I am a skilled custodian.” (Yusuf: 55) This shows that Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) did not pay heed to the fact that the king was disbeliever or despotic. His main concern was the general welfare of the people and their need of a man as knowledgeable and clever as he was to care for them.

The second incident reported in the Sunnah is that of Muslims’ migration to Abyssinia, as recorded in Musnad of Imam Ahmad on the authority of Umm Salamah, Mother of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with her), who was among those who migrated to Abyssinia. It is reported that Umm Salamah, narrating the incident of their migration, said:

“We stayed in his (An-Najashi’s) land, where we were treated with great generosity and hospitality. During my stay there, some people rebelled against him (An-Najashi) and tried to take the hold of the reigns of power. By Allah, we haven’t felt sadness as we felt at that time for fear that such rebellious (ones) might succeed in their scheme, and then a man who does not know the truth of our religion (nor does he observe our right as refugees) as An-Najashi did may be the sovereign. An-Najashi set out to meet the enemy, who was on the opposite bank of the Nile River. Then the Prophet’s companions said that a man of them may cross the river to investigate the enemy intensively.

On that, Az-Zubayr ibn Al-`Awwam, who was one of the youngest among us, said, ‘I will.’ Then they gave him a float and he swam to the opposite bank and investigated the enemy’s preparations for the battle. During this, we observed du`a’ (supplication) heavily for An-Najashi to be victorious over his enemy and he succeeded and stability was achieved again in Abyssinia.” (Reported by Ahmad)

You see, when An-Najashi’s nephew rebelled against him and tried to elbow him out, the Muslim migrants in Abyssinia did not stand as onlookers; they didn’t stay idle because An-Najashi was a Christian and so was the enemy. Rather, they made du`a’ to Allah to give An-Najashi victory over his enemy. They also sent a man from among them to collect information about the battle, and if they had anything more to do, they would have willingly offered it.

That is the way that Muslims living in non-Muslim countries in the West should look upon participation in the political life there. In this context, taking part in the US elections is required, so that goodness may overcome evil and justice would prevail. It is not a sign of affiliation to the polytheists, nor is it a kind of support for the oppressors. Therefore, judging parliaments to be gatherings of disbelief and polytheism is inappropriate, as this does not take into account the complicated nature of such parliaments. The US Congress, for instance, is not a religious organization, as the American constitution neither supports a certain religion nor restricts another. The US Congress is not, thus, a gathering of disbelief, even though its members are disbelievers. Also, it is not a gathering of belief, even if there are Muslim members in it. It is a neutral political body in relation to matters of religion, according to the American constitution.

The US Congress can only tackle issues related to public welfare, which a Muslim is enjoined to participate in achieving, whether for the favor of Muslims inside or outside America, or even in relation to non-Muslims. So, Muslims who participate in the US elections should not have selfish objectives in doing so; that is, they should not aim at achieving the welfare of the Muslim minority only. Rather, they should aim at rescuing the whole American nation from creedal, moral, and social degradation that they suffer from, in the same way that Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) saved a pagan people from famine.”

Based on the above words of Sheikh Ash-Shanqiti, we can see that there is nothing wrong in Muslims participating in elections held in non-Muslim countries. It may sometimes be commendable for Muslims to take part in the political life of non-Muslim societies, so as to help achieve general justice and welfare for the Muslims and non-Muslims alike, ward off any discriminative schemes, and restore moral life in the society.

(2) In his response to the question, the European Council for Fatwa and Research issues the following Fatwa:

“Before answering this question, we will shed light on the following three aspects: (1) Al-Walaa’ (loyalty). (2) The Prophet’s participation in some activities in Makkan and Medinan societies. (3) The Constitution of Madinah.

A. The first aspect: Al-Walaa’ can be divided into the two sections:

1- Loyalty in religious matters. It refers to creedal loyalty, which lies in believing in Allah and shunning other beliefs that run counter to the Oneness of Allah. This kind of Al-Walaa’ is due to Allah, His Messenger and the believers. Almighty Allah Says: “Your friend can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the poor due, and bow down (in prayer)” (Al-Ma’dah: 55)

2-Loyalty as regards worldly matters: This refers to transactions between people living in the same society or between different societies, regardless the distance and the religion. It is permissible for Muslims to engage with non-Muslims in commercial transactions, peace treaties and covenants according to the rules and conditions prevalent in those countries. Books of Jurisprudence do contain many references about such kind of dealings.

B. The second aspect: The Prophet’s participation in activities in the Makkan and Madinan societies.

Throughout his life before and after the Prophetic mission, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, participated in many events that took place in the Makkan and Madinan societies.

Following are the most prominent events he participated in before being a Prophet. First: The Fujjar War:

This war was waged against some Arab tribes who violated the sacredness of the Holy Prescient in the sacred months. Hence, the Makkan people had to defend the holy sanctuary; this was a good custom they inherited from the upright religion of Prophet Abraham. This fight lasted for four years, and the Prophet’s age at that time was around 15-19 years. He participated in this war side by side with his uncles. That is, he would defend his uncles against the enemies’ attack. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, did so out of his sense that he should share in defending his homeland and ward off aggression and injustice.

Second: Al-Fudul Alliance:

This incident occurred in the house of Abdullah bin Jad`an between the greatest tribes in Makkah. One of the principles they agreed upon was backing up any oppressed person in Makkah, regardless of his origin and the purpose behind his visit; they vowed to help him regain his rights. At the advent of his mission, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is reported to have said (i.e. while referring to this alliance): “If I am invited to join a similar (alliance) after the spread of Islam, I will, surely, join it.”

Commenting on the aforementioned point regarding the Prophet’s participation in that alliance, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali stated: “Combating an oppressor however brutal he may be, and supporting an oppressed however low he may be, are consistent with the spirit of Islam that enjoins what is right, forbids what is wrong and calls for abiding by the limits set by Allah.

Moreover, Islam aims at putting an end to injustice whether in the general policies adopted by countries or oppression at the individual level. The Prophet’s participation in Al-Fudul Alliance reveals the positive attitude he took, for he considered himself part and parcel of the Makkan society. Besides, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was aware of the fact that if oppression or any form of injustice in the society is not eliminated, their ill effects will befall all and sundry.

Third: The Prophet’s Response to SOS Calls:

The humanitarian gestures of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, towards the people of Makkah was not confined to the period he spent with them. This noble attitude continued even after emigrating Makkah to Madinah and establishing the Islamic state there, as he rushed to lend the hand of support when calamities befell the people of Makkah.

It is reported that during the time of Al-Hudaibiyah peace treaty, the Prophet was informed that a famine had afflicted the Makkan people. Thus he sent Hatib bin Abi Balta’a with 500 Diners to buy foods for the poor and the needy among the Makkans. You see, he did this despite that it was the same people that drove him out of the city and even hindered him from entering it.

C. The third aspect: The constitution of Madinah:

Considering the constitution of Madinah or the treaty held between Muslims, Jews and the Arab polytheists who constituted the population of Madinah at that time, after emigration, one will notice that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stressed the importance of showing belonging and patriotism to the society.

Thus, he made it clear that this is a general duty shared by all regardless of religions, races or complexions. The treaty stipulated the following:

1-They (those who sign the treaty) should support one another in combating the attacks waged against any of them.

2-They, together, should back up the oppressed.

3-They, together, should fight against any enemy attacking Yathrib (Madinah).

We deduce from these three aspects that the early Muslims managed to cooperate with people of other religions, living together in the same society of Madinah, in fighting against anyone who tried to bring about sedition among people. Thus, they maintained peaceful co-existence within the same society.

This form of Al-Walaa’ comes under what we term ‘Al-Walaa’ in worldly affairs’. It states that citizens can live together in the same society in spite of their different faiths and religious orientations.

Moreover, the Constitution of Madinah regarded the People of the Book as part and parcel of the first Islamic State. For instance, some of its articles state:

1- The Jews of the tribe of Banu ‘Awf are part of the Muslim community.

2- Jews have their own religion and Muslims have their own religion.

3- The rest of the Jewish tribes have the same rights as do the tribe of Banu ‘Auf.

Conclusion:

Considering the issue of Al-Walaa’, it is evident that there’s nothing wrong Islamically in having some sort of such cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslim as regards worldly affairs. Besides, the Prophetic Biography is abound with fine examples of how the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, dealt amicably with non-Muslims, both in the Makkan and Madinan societies. He shared in many pacts and alliances aiming at eliminating injustice and aggression, in addition, he shared in relieving the impact of adversities and famines.

According to the articles of the Madinah constitution, the residents of Madinah would cooperate in establishing justice, supporting one another in combating aggression and help one another do righteous acts.

So it’s clear that mutual cooperation in worldly affairs goes far to encompass all citizens who share a common destiny, neighbourhood and sometimes kinship. This may be extended to include economic and commercial fields.

In addition, the teachings of Islam, as deduced from the Qur’an and Sunnah, show that Islam is a religion of mercy, justice, goodness. One of the main goals of Islamic law is to achieve benefits and ward off harms, whether at the level of individuals or at the level of society.

Furthermore, elections in the modern world systems have become a means through which peoples choose candidates and judge the programmes they adopt. Muslims living in such societies enjoy rights and are bound to do some duties. If they fail to meet the duties obligated on them, they are no more entitled to receive the rights, for the rights meet the duties.

Thus, Muslims’ participation in elections is a national duty; in addition it falls under cooperation on that which is good and righteous for the society and wording off harms from it, Allah Almighty says: “… help ye one another unto righteousness and pious duty. Help not one another unto sin and transgression…” (Al-Ma’dah: 2).

Therefore, we can say that Muslim’s participating in elections held in non-Muslim societies is Islamically permissible and there is nothing wrong in doing so.

Besides, it is a kind of mutual cooperation with those whom Muslims think as potential candidates who, if they win the elections, will bring benefits for the society in general and Muslims in particular.”

(3) Answering the question in point, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti, member of the North American Fiqh Council, states:

“Absolutely, it is not a matter of black and white. The structure of society in this country is a very complicated and sophisticated one. Unfortunately, we weigh things as if we were in Makkah, Cairo, or Sanaa. Aspirations of people in Muslim countries are always reinstating Islam to rule government and people. This is why people back in Muslim countries believe that any Member of Parliament or minister of government should work for enforcing Shari`ah as the only law and sovereignty of that country.

In the US, religion is not a priority in politics. On the contrary, politicians are secular in demonstrating what they are targeting. Of that secularism, we have perhaps more than 60% of our welfare and interests to be run through a polling system. Schooling, sanitation, zoning, social services, police, court, medication, finance, business, sports, recreation, etc. are run by people that are elected to office. If you have a vote power, you have the legitimacy to reach and accomplish anything of your needs or goals. Without it, you are a dead battery. Can you tell me where is the Qur’an or hadith that says to me, “Don’t help for these affairs?” Are you going to tell me that I am loyal or giving allegiance to the kuffar (non-Muslims) because I want to lead myself in the way that can get a school for my children, good sanitation for my neighborhood or good cooperation with the police to protect me?

When it comes to making a law by congressman, senators, or any other politician, I should try my best to oppose anything contradictory to Shari`ah. In Fiqh and principles of Fiqh, we know that it is a big step in the right direction to lessen evildoings. They say in Fiqh, ‘Removal of an evildoing is much better than gaining any welfare.'”

(4) In this context, the erudite Muslim scholar of Bahrain, Sheikh Nizam Ya`qubi, adds:

“In the matter of elections and voting we must look at what is in the best interest of the whole community (maslahah) and what is the less of the two evils (akhaff ad-Dararayn).

Looking into the matter from this angle, many contemporary scholars are of the opinion that you should practice your right to vote. If Muslims do not do that and there numbers are constantly increasing they will never have the power of lobbying that other groups have gained. This will lead to the benefit of Muslims in these countries in the future. It must be stated however that voting for a person does not mean endorsing every act or policy of the candidate. These facts are well known in all democratic societies!”

(5) This is clarified in the following fatwa, issued by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi:

“It should be made clear to all people that Islam addresses all aspects of life; political, social, economical and other aspects. Once we claim that Islam has nothing to do with politics, then, it ceases to be a comprehensive divinely revealed course.

As for the claim that Islam deals with political aspects of life, there are two reasons for that:

(1) Islam has a vivid stance on politics and a direct ruling in matters that are considered to be political. Islam is not merely dogmas or acts of worship that has nothing to do with life; rather, it is a comprehensive course of life for man, as highly clarified by Imam Hasan Al-Banna: “Islam is a comprehensive system, dealing with all spheres of life; it is a state and a homeland, or government and a nation; it is a morality and power, or mercy and justice; it is a culture and law, or knowledge and jurisprudence; it is material and wealth, or gain and prosperity; it is Jihad and a call, and finally it is a true belief and worship.”

(2) The true character of a Muslim as required by Islam obliges him to be a man of politics. Every Muslim is required to fulfill the Islamic obligation of commanding good and forbidding evil. Also, it is the responsibility of every Muslim to offer advice to all his Muslim brothers and the leaders of the Muslim nation. We, Muslims are also commanded in surat Al-`Asr to enjoin good and stick to patience. Allah says: “By the declining day. Lo! Man is in a state of loss. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.” (Al-`Asr: 1-3)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urges every Muslim to fight mischief and combat injustice and never accept oppression. Upon being asked about the best form of Jihad, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The best form of Jihad is upholding the truth before a despotic ruler.”

It is also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The master of martyrs is Hamzah and comes after him a man who gets killed just because he stands to a despotic ruler commanding him to do good and give up evil.”

Islam implants in the soul of every Muslim the will and the determination to combat evil and evildoers and fight oppression and oppressors. In urging Muslims to fight for those who are weak and oppressed in the land, the Qur’an says: “How should ye not fight for the cause of Allah and of the feeble among men and of the women and the children who are crying: Our Lord! Bring us forth from out this town of which the people are oppressors! Oh, give us from Thy presence some protecting friend! Oh, give us from Thy presence some defender!” (An-Nisa’: 75)

It is an utter mistake and idle thinking to believe that the domain of prohibition in Islam is confined to committing adultery, drinking wine or the like only; rather, it’s of wider dimension. It extends to all acts that involve humiliating peoples, rigging the votes, oppressing the individuals and casting them in the dungeons of prisons without committing any crime; all these are apparent forms of evil.

Appointing incompetent people and dismissing, without justifiable cause, the qualified ones is surely a sinful act, and, thus, a form of evil.

Thus, it has become crystal clear that evil which should be eradicated and blotted out involves many issues that form the core of politics. How can a true Muslim evade facing all these atrocities and evils, claiming that it falls outside the scope of Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “If my followers fail to stand up to an oppressor and say to him: ‘You are an oppressor’, then there will be no good in them” (Reported by Ahmad in his Musnad on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Amr).

Thus, a true Muslim can never stay idle before evil, be it of social nature, political, economic or whatever. He is to combat it with his hand, if not, with his tongue, if not, then with his heart.

What urges Muslim to engage in politics is the fact that he is required to show care for others and concern himself with the problems of his Muslim brothers, for all Muslims constitute one brotherhood. In the Hadith, we read: “He who does not concern himself with the affairs of Muslim can never be one of them.”

In addition, all Muslims are commanded to combat political oppression in the same way they are commanded to combat social injustice. Both an oppressor and his advocate are punished severely. Allah says: “And incline not toward those who do wrong lest the Fire touch you, and ye have no protecting friends against Allah, and afterward ye would not be helped.” (Hud: 113)”

Thus, in the light of the above comprehensive fatwa, it’s clear that Muslims’ participation in political life of his society is part of what his religion dictates and enjoins. Rather, it is through the political course that he will be able to carry out the function of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong.

(6) Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), answers:

“The Shari`ah does not forbid Muslims to live in non-Islamic states. There are more than four hundred million Muslims in the world (almost one-third of the total population) who are living as minorities in non-Islamic countries. Some of them are the natives of these countries and some of them have migrated to these countries for better educational, economic and other reasons.

Most of the Muslim countries today are also not ruled totally by the rules of Allah the Almighty. So what should Muslims do? I think, Muslims are supposed to practice and preach their faith, but at the same time they must protect their lives, their properties and their rights to live in peace. In order to protect their own rights and to promote the good things in the society, if it is necessary for them to participate in the political system of non-Islamic states, then it is their duty to do so. It is in the best maslahah (welfare) of Muslims to participate in the system to safeguard their own interests and to establish good in the society.

In the Glorious Qur’an we have a lesson in the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (peace and blessings be upon him). He was brought to Egypt as a slave and was later imprisoned under a kafir system and a kafir ruler. Then the king of Egypt released him from the prison. As he was very impressed by Prophet Yusuf’s intelligence and knowledge, he offered him Egyptian citizenship (“You stay with us safe and secure.” 12:54). Yusuf (peace be upon him) did not say to him, ‘Thank you very much. But I have to go to my country. I want to be with my father who is a Prophet of Allah and I do not want to live in your kafir system. The only way I can live with you will be if you leave your kingship and make me change your system completely.’

Instead, the Qur’an tells us that Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) told the king, “Appoint me on the treasures of the land.

I am a capable guardian and know things well.” (Yusuf 12:55) Yusuf (peace be upon him) wanted to help Egyptian people. He wanted to take care of Egyptians’ economic interests. He wanted to implement a fifteen year economic plan to save the country and its people. In the process he also helped his own family and they all moved to Egypt. He slowly changed the conditions and finally he became almost a final authority in the country.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also lived in Makkah for thirteen years under the protection of his uncle Abu Talib who was non-believer and who supported him under the pre-Islamic Jahili system of family and tribe.

The Prophet openly criticized the un-Islamic beliefs and practices of his people but he participated in their tribal system and did benefit from it. He lived in that system as long as it allowed him to live there. After the death of his wife and uncle he went to Ta’if seeking the Jiwar (a pre-Islamic custom of protection) of the chiefs of Ta’if. When they refused and it was impossible for him to live in Makkah, then he migrated to Madinah.

It is true that Islam stands for the sovereignty of Allah the Almighty and Allah’s rules are not limited to the acts of worship, they also include social, economic and political matters.

By participating in a non-Islamic system, one cannot rule by that which Allah has commanded. But things do not change overnight. Changes come through patience, wisdom and hard work.

I believe that as Muslims, we should participate in the system to safeguard our interests and try to bring gradual change for the right cause, the cause of truth and justice. We must not forget that Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction.”

Source – www.islamonline.net

Participation of Muslims in U.S. Political System

By Dr. Taha Jaber Al-Alwani

I addressed the issue of whether Muslims should participate in the American political system in a previous article entitled “An Introduction to Minorities’ Fiqh,” in which I base my answer to this question on the following considerations:

(1) Mankind comprises one family, all from Adam, and Adam is from the earth. Mankind is divided into two nations: a missionary nation and a receiving nation.

(2) In considering the earth as an arena for Islam, Allah has promised its inheritance to His righteous people, and He has promised that Islam will prevail over other religions.

(3) The Qur’anic message is universal, and does not exclude any nation.

(4) The Islamic Ummah is a positive Ummah; it serves as a witness for other nations, promotes what is good and prevents what is evil.

(5) We should adopt the principle of being fair to non-Muslims.

(6) We should not prescribe to classifications such as “Dar Al Islam” and “Dar Al Harb.” There is no Qur’anic substantiation for these concepts. They are inapplicable to international relations in modern times.

(7) We should base our judgments on the general principles of Islam and its universal message.

(8) We should regard the presence of Muslims in any country as necessary and coinciding with the universal nature of Islam’s message.

(9) The contemporary world is borderless.

(10) Muslims can employ international agreements regarding human rights in the service of Islam. For example, Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Each individual has the right to participate in the management of public affairs either directly or indirectly.”

(11) Abiding by principles of justice is in accordance with such legislation, which itself is aligned with Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) Farewell Speech. We should utilize or participate in all activities that sustain justice. Political participation is one of those activities.

(12) We can benefit from looking at the experiences of the early Muslims – particularly, experiences such as their migration to Abyssinia.

(13) We should abandon passiveness, and strive to be positive and active members of society.

Peculiarities of the American Situation

The American situation involves special circumstances that need to be addressed in order to reach a conclusion regarding this issue:

(1) America is a nation composed of immigrant communities from all over the world. Its population is not limited to one ethnic or cultural group as is the case in most European countries, which often exclude ethnic minorities.

(2) America is still a young country; hence, it is open to the influences of Islam and Muslims. Its youthfulness provides Muslims with a huge opportunity to contribute to its growth.

(3) It is a country that constitutionally respects the right of all religious groups to exist, despite the shortcomings in the practice and enforcement of this right.

(4) Relatively speaking, Americans are typically less racist than people of many other nationalities because of their average higher intelligence and the country’s historical experience. This is particularly true of Protestants.

Based on these considerations, I have reached the following conclusions regarding the participation of Muslims in American politics:

I. First, it is incumbent upon Muslims to actively participate for the following reasons:

(1) In order to protect our rights as American citizens, we must be involved in politics.

(2) Our involvement can facilitate our support of our fellow Muslims around the world.

(3) Our interaction with non-Muslims and our involvement will help to spread Islam’s message.

(4) It helps to convey the universality of Islam.

Our participation is an obligation in Islam, and not merely “a right” that we can choose to forfeit at will.

It affords us the opportunity to protect our human rights, guarantee the fulfillment of our needs, and work for the improvement of living conditions for Muslims and non-Muslims in America and abroad.

II. Whatever helps us to achieve these noble goals becomes Islamically obligatory. This includes:

(1) Nominating qualified Muslims for public offices (as mayors, governors, Congress members, etc.) and supporting Muslim candidates in an effort to promote good and to forbid and prevent evil for the welfare of our society.

(2) Individual Muslims nominating themselves for such offices.

(3) Supporting (both politically and financially) those non-Muslim candidates whose beliefs and values are most compatible with ours as Muslims, and who most address and support our issues and causes.

(4) Pursuing American citizenship because it is the basis by which we can exercise our rights.

(5) Registering to vote and then voting. Although separate acts, they are both an essential part of the electoral process. Our participation in that process is mandatory.

Requirements for Implementing the Above

In order for American Muslims to obtain their full rights as citizens, exercise those rights in their entirety and be effectively involved in the American political system, we must:

(1) Consult with one another and come to a mutual agreement on the main principles of Islam, and excuse and overlook one another on our minor differences. The righteous companions of the Prophet set the example for this hundreds of years ago when they met to determine the best response to the situation necessitating their migration to Abyssinia.

(2) If we are concerned that our interaction with non-Muslims will lead to concessions that are not in accordance with Islam, we are in need of strengthening our belief, and enhancing our Islamic culture. Again, the refusal of the Companion, Jaf’ar Attyar, to cower down to Annajashi, King of Abyssinia, provides a good example of the possible outcomes of our faithfully professing and acting in accordance with our beliefs as Muslims.

(3) We are in need of being able to accurately and eloquently convey the message of Islam to non-Muslims. We must seek to practice the humanitarianism inherent in Islam, and to manifest its eternal values in the best manner, as Jaf’ar did in his speech before King Annajashi, when he stated the principles of Islam and explained the difference between Islam and darkness. In doing so, we will not only gain the support and cooperation of others, but we can influence them to follow the path of Islam.

(4) Muslims in America should become skillful in the arts of communication and public relations. Again, Jaf’ar’ provided an excellent example for us when he ended his speech to the king by saying, “We have come to your country. We have chosen you among kings; we seek out our neighbors, and we seek not to be dealt with unjustly.”

Objections Offered by Muslims to Political Involvement

The objections raised by Muslims to our political involvement can be classified into five points:

(1) Our participation is contrary to the principles of Islam – particularly, as it establishes loyalty to non-Muslims, which is prohibited in the Qur’an.

This is an inaccurate understanding of the prohibition of loyalty. The pragmatic aspect of a creed differs from the creed itself. Fair treatment of and cooperation with non-Muslims are not synonymous with loyalty. Rather, they are pragmatic methods for promoting good and fighting evil. As well, there is a distortion in the understanding of loyalty by some who expand its meaning to include cooperation. The type of loyalty the Qur’an warns against is that when a Muslim favors non-Muslims over Muslims in granting them love and support.

This issue is clarified in several Surah in the Qur’an. Allah (SWT) says in Surah 3:28, “O ye who believe! Take not for friends unbelievers rather than believers.” And in Surah 4:138-139, “To the hypocrites give the glad tidings that there is for them but a grievous penalty. Yea, to those who take for friends unbelievers rather than believers. Is it honor they seek among them? Nay, all honor is with Allah.”

In his explanation of these verses, Attabari said that they prohibit Muslims from being like non-Muslims in their morals and values, and from preferring non-Muslims over Muslims. He added that loyalty means supporting non-believers in their efforts against Muslims, such as spying on Muslim countries to the benefit of their rivals and enemies. This type of loyalty is at the expense of Muslims. There is a big difference between this and cooperation in the interests of Muslims and for our collective well-being.

(2) The second objection that is offered is that our participation is a kind of inclination towards non-Muslims, prohibited by the following Qur’anic verse (11:113): “And incline not to those who do wrong, or the fire will seize you; and ye have no protectors other than Allah, nor shall ye be helped.” According to this understanding, this verse would prohibit all types of cooperation with non-believers.

“Inclination” here means the acceptance and support of the Unbeliever’s actions. Attabari explains inclination as returning to disbelief, being loyal to Unbelievers, and accepting their behavior.

I don’t see any of these actions in political participation. They differ significantly from cooperating with non-Muslims for the sake of safeguarding our rights and protecting ourselves and our fellow Muslims from the injustices of Unbelievers, and from taking actions that may help non-Muslims find the right path.

(3) Some believe that our political participation helps to maintain the status quo in non-Muslim countries, and we are required to change the status quo rather than be a part of it. This is an upside-down understanding. It is the isolation and withdrawal of a society’s citizens from public life that leads to the maintenance of the status quo. Participation is an attempt to change such conditions. Our positive participation seeking to express Islam’s morals and values resists the status quo – not our boycotting elections and withdrawing from society.

(4) Participation within America’s political system will cause us to neglect working to establish an Islamic system. This objection encompasses two misinterpretations.

First, we have to consider two possible scenarios – one where Muslims are a majority, and the other where we are a minority. There is a great difference between the two situations. It is incumbent upon Muslims to establish the Islamic system in Muslim countries; however, it is not required when Muslims are a minority. Furthermore, it is logically inconceivable in America today. What is required is enhancing our presence through our active participation in public life, and working to strengthen our community and to Islamically influence others.

Then, we can consider the establishment of an Islamic system – a task that may take centuries. This has been the path of the prophets throughout history.

The second misinterpretation inherent in this objection is that it limits the definition of an Islamic system to the arena of politics; however, any activity that enhances the implementation of positive and moral values in our society should be promoted whether it is of a political nature or not. Activities that oppose crime, abortion, drugs, etc. are important, and they strengthen the good in society and work to prevent evil.

(5) Political participation contradicts the goal of residing only temporarily in a non-Muslim country. This objection is based on an inaccurate understanding of the historical concepts of “Dar Al Harb” (war) and “Dar As Silm” (peace), which, as mentioned earlier, do not apply to contemporary world affairs. It also contradicts history in that the first Muslim community was established in a place where the Prophet (SAW) and the Muslims had migrated temporarily. It was not established in the land of revelation, Mecca, but rather in Madinah.

The Obligation of Muslims to Participate in U.S. Political System

By Dr. Salah al-Din Sultan

President of Islamic American University, Professor of Islamic Law, Cairo University

In the Name of Allah the Most Merciful the Most Gracious, Peace and Prayers of Allah be upon the Prophet Muhammad, his Household, Companions, and those who follow His guidance until the Day of Judgment.

It is well known, as stated in the Muwfaqaat of Imam Ash-shatibi, that a fatwa is not valid unless it has been issued by a qualified scholar who is equipped in the art of understanding the Shar`i texts and rulings. In addition to this, he should know how to apply those text and rulings properly in the environment that he is living. Therefore, when discussing an issue, we should present the information from the correct angles. Thus, it enables us to come to a correct and sound ruling. Yet, some Muslims discuss the issue of participating in the American elections only from the viewpoint of permissibility or non-permissibility; however, there are many different points that should be brought up and thoroughly discussed. I wish that people would ask how to participate and how many Muslim candidates should there be! It is a wonder that Muslims live in US communities and are completely unaware of their political requirements related to: decision making, laws mechanism, and so on.

First: Reality and Statistics

There are many examples representing Muslims all over the world should be taken in consideration. They are as follows:

* Muslims of Germany are more than four millions; even though there is no Muslim representative in the Parliament. On the other hand, there are only 800 Jewish citizen and 9 reprehensive in the Parliament.

* Muslims in Britain are about 3 millions and still have only 2 representatives out of 659 while the Jews are no more than 5.000 but they have 20 representatives in the parliament.

* Though Muslims of Michigan, Dearborn are more than 75% out of the total number of the population, the Muslim candidate Abd Humud could not win the election because of the absence of Muslims. Generally, Muslims in America surpass the Jews in number, but, unfortunately there is no even one Muslim representative while most of US Congress members are Jewish.

The fact is that Muslims should interact with all the political and internal policies in their countries to help improve and guide that community; we have such a constructive ideology that enables us be effective and impressive in all fields of life. We should defend political Muslims’ rights and do our best to guarantee freedom to people to practice their religion. These are the points we would cover in this research.

Second: The Obligation of Election Participating and its Shar`i Proofs

I think it is obligatory to take part in the election. This opinion is supported by the following proofs:

1. The Shar`i Rulings

First Shar’I Ruling:

Whatever Leads to Mandatory Is Mandatory as well.

It is well known that there are many benefits cannot be attained if Muslims do not participate in the election either that of Congress or the senator assembly.

For example:

* They do not have any law making authority and others will control all their affairs.

* The beautiful image of Islam which has been distorted could not be corrected, nor could Muslims who are a very civilized community of 8 millions defend their right without a political supporting power. Most of Americans, nearly 95% out of them, as stated by Paul Findly and the late President Nixon, do not know the reality of Islam. If Muslims remain out of the political circle, they will not be able to secure their civilian rights, if not deprived of them.

* Muslims will not get benefit from the financial aid allocated to the non-profitable associations if they do not have a powerful impact in the election process.

The Second Shar`i Ruling:

To Prevent Harm with a Lesser One.

There is no doubt that taking part in the election causes some sort of harm as the candidate for Congress or Senate will agree or theorize laws that do not move in parallel with Islamic law. However, if Muslims play a part in the election process or not, then, these laws will be run. But if Muslims contribute to the process and make their voices heard, they may prevent the harm afflicted on Muslims in USA, refute the malicious fallacies schemed against Islam, and help Muslims practice Islam freely.

In this way, we may prevent a major harm with a minor one.

The Third Shar`i Ruling: To Prevent Harm and Get Benefit

So long as the Muslims refrain from voting or practicing their right in electoral process, their right will be open to aggression; that is why we should do our best to insure Muslims’ rights and preventing harm for them.

This aim surely will not come across if the Muslim fail to get involved and influence the major decision making bodies in their countries.

The Forth Shar`i Ruling: Works Are Measured by Goals Behind Them

Basing on this ruling, jurists permit a Muslim to learn Medicine, Computer sciences, and Languages under the supervision of non-Muslims scholars to assist the Muslim Ummah in general and help make progress in some critical fields.

This ruling covers the area of elections also; this will help enhance Muslims’ position in society and grant them more and more rights.

Thirdly: Making Analogy between Election and the Case of Setting the Prisoners of War Free

Al-Bukhari reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Give food to the hungry, pay visit to the sick, and release the captive.” Imam Malik said, “Muslims have (Must do everything in their power) to release those (Muslims) who are in captivity even if they pay all their wealth.” Abu Yusuf reported that `Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “Verily, it would be more beloved to me than to possess the Arabian peninsula if I saved a Muslim from the unbelievers” Furthermore, There are many scholars like Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi in al-Mughni, Ibn Taymiyah in Majmu` al-Fatawa, Al-Bahuti in Kashf Al-Qina`, Ar-Ramli in Nihayat Al-Muhataj, As-Suti in Al-Ashbah wa Nazair, Ibn Rajab in al-Qawa`id, and Ibn Salmon al-Maliki in al-`Iqd al-Munazam lilhukkam- they hold it mandatory to set the captives free and pay the ransom from the Muslim Treasury.

Knowing that it is permissible to pay ransom and give money to the Unbelievers to set the Muslim captives free, it is permissible to spend money for the election campaign of non-Muslim candidate as this may prevent harm and draw benefit to Muslims in general. We do not pay money in the hope of helping non-Muslim go against Islam but we assist those who may support the Muslims and defend their rights.

The well-known scholar, Imam Al-`Izz ibn abdilsalam mentioned that “It is permissible to help others get something wrong so long as it is the only means to attain a public interest; this is like the amount of money paid to the unbelievers to set free Muslim prisoners.

It is also permitted to pay money to the one who may kill you if you refuse to give him money.” Accordingly, it is permissible to assist a non-Muslim candidate if we are sure that he will enhance Muslims’ interests and help them come across their issues.

Fourthly: Fatwas Issued by Some of Ummah Scholars in Regard to Elections in West Countries.

1- A Fatwa Issued by Sheikh Jadul al-Haqq `Ali Jadul al-Haqq, the Late Head of Al-Azhar.

He permitted Muslims to take part in the political process and involve in elections so long as the Muslim candidate has an impressive personality, is a good believer, enjoys a strong determination, and will help the Muslim minority and defend their rights.

2- A Fatwa issued by the Shar`a scholrs of North America in November at Detroit city, MI.

There were more than sixty scholars headed by the well-known scholar sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi permitted Muslims to take part in the election carried out in the West.

3- A Fatwa Issued by the Eruption Council for Fatwa and Research

The council issued a fatwa permitting Muslims to participate in the election of non-Muslim countries so that Muslims can defend their rights and present their cultural project.

4- A fatwa Issued by Sheikh Al-Qaradawi

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi said that it is a religious duty to vote in elections; and whoever refrains or neglects this duty causing the non-qualified person to win and the one who highly qualified to fail- does not follow the Divine Order in regard to offering the testimony; Allah Almighty said, And if one of you entrusts to another let him who is trusted deliver up that which is entrusted to him (according to the pact between them) and let him observe his duty to Allah. Hide not testimony. He who hides it, verily his heart is sinful. Allah is Aware of what ye do” (Al-Baqarah: 283)

5- A Fatwa Issued by Sheikh Faisal Moloy

He said that it is a duty upon a Muslim to call others to Allah, spread right, forbid wrongdoing, and participate positively in all activities that bring about progress to his community wherever he lives regardless of the community he lives within; he should offer solutions for the problems facing his community according to the viewpoint of Islam. Thus, if there is a chance to participate in the elections, he should make use of it; since this will help block some evildoings, spread goodness, and keep people’s rights. But if a Muslim lags and hesitates to participate in this election, he will be responsible for not following the hadith in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, says Whoever sees an evil (being carried on) should prevent it with his hand, if he could not, then he should prevent it with his tongue…” To change or prevent the Munkar (Evil) with a tongue means to condemn and disapprove this munkar (Evil). This matter is attained most effectively when the speaker is a representative in the parliament who is welcomed by the media. On the other hand, Da`wah in such non-Muslim countries needs the approval of the governments of these countries that give the Da`wah more freedom and help those who convert to Islam get their human rights. Thus, if the laws in countries permit minorities to practice voting even for non-Muslim candidates who may stand for Muslims’ rights and have influence upon the elected government, then it would be a shar`i necessity to be involvement in voting and support a Muslim candidates or a non-Muslim candidate who can support Muslims’ issues.

6- The Fatwa issued by Dr. Nasr Farid Wasil The Mufti of Egypt

Dr. Nasr Farid permits the involvement in election even for women. He said that the Egyptian council for fataw holds the opinion that it is permissible for women to participate in an election and be a candidate for the parliament as well. This right is given to Muslim women since they participated in the convenient of `Aqaba; Islam therefore, does not overlook the woman’s role in life nor prevent her from playing an effective role in all spheres of life. A society is based on male and female; Allah Almighty says, O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware” (Al-Hujurat: 13)

7- A fatwa Issued by Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajid

He said that there may be a shar`i interest in voting and participating in the elections so as to lessen harm and prevent evil. For example, if there are two non-Muslims candidates but one of them does not hate Islam so much, thus, we should vote for this one to help him overcome the other who absolutely hate Islam and Muslims; we should choose the lesser of two evils. The final and main motive should be the interest of Muslims since the Early Muslims of the Prophet’s time were happy with the victory of Roman over Persian People, and with the victory of Ethiopian king.

The fulcrum of this issue is the Public Interest; thus, the learned scholars of Muslim community should be consulted.

8- A Fatwa Issued by Dr. Abdul Karim Zidan

He said: Participating in the elections is permissible in non-Muslim Majority countries so long as there is an interest for the Muslims of this country. He quoted the following evidence:

1. The Prophet, peace be upon him, accepted the principle of protection of the Non-Muslims so as to save the Muslims from their hurt.

2. On the base of making analogy it is permitted to vote for non-Muslim to remove harm as well as to utter a word of shirk to save the self.

Fifthly: Restrictions for participating in US elections

1. The benefit should be more expected than a harm so as to follow the Shar`i ruling saying “Harm should not be removed by procedure of an equal harm nor more harmful”

2. The elected candidate should be highly recommended and selected by the leaders of Muslim Minority on the base of Shura among them.

3. The elected persons should be known be loyal and not to hate Islam nor Muslims.

4. The aim behind participating in elections should be achieving a public interest and not a personal benefit.

Finally, I hope I offered my best and get the happy medium in covering the issue. I implore Allah accept this work, forgive my sins, and grant me doubled reward.

Summary

I would like you to take following points from this presentation

  • Religious rulings should be left for qualified, learned, and experienced scholars.
  • In their desire to achieve correct religious rulings (fatwas) Muslims must present and look at the variables from the correct positions.
  • Muslims have only looked at political activity in the United states from a very limited perspective, that being from the position of Halal or Haram.
  • Muslims must strive to find the correct means and limitations with regards to political activity in the United States.
  • Inactivity in the political field will cause Muslims to face immense problems in the future, and keep them from utilizing their rights as citizens
  • The Islamic principles of Jurisprudence support and offer a great wealth of support for working in a non-Muslim political environment. Some of these principles are:
    • Whatever Leads to Mandatory Is Mandatory as well.
    • Works Are Measured by Goals Behind Them
    • To Prevent a Harm with a Lesser One.

 

  • Muslims scholars from such countries as Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and the Untied States have issued fatwas supporting political activism in non-Muslim lands.

 

  • Muslims working in non-Muslim lands must observe important principles before doing so.

 

  1. Qualifications: Religiously and intellectually
  2. That benefits will be greater than the harms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An interview with Jamal Badawi on Muslim participation in North American politics

RadioIslam.com conducted an interview with Dr. Jamal Badawi, a leading North American Islamic scholar, professor and author, on the issue of Muslims and electoral politics.

The interview was conducted by Itrath Syed and Samana Siddiqui.

SS: Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah Br. Jamal

JB: Walaykum as Salam

SS: Welcome to RadioIslam.com. We’re going to be discussing Muslims and the political process, something which is very relevant, especially in the United States with the presidential elections coming up in the fall, Insha Allah. My first question is should Muslims even participate in the voting and political process in general in North America?

JB: For the sake of clarification, I’d like first of all to say that Islam by its very nature is a complete, comprehensive system or way of life. I don’t like the term that some people use, ‘political Islam’. There is nothing called ‘political Islam’ there is Islam that includes politics, economics, social structure as part of its teaching. It’s a complete way of living in that sense. That’s one point.

Based on that, I must say that the issue of participation in the political process is contingent on at least three different situations I could think of. One is to participate in a Muslim country which is ruling according to the law of Allah and applying it in full. And by in full I mean not only in the matter of criminal law but in terms of economic justice, in terms of Shura, consultation on the political level. That would be one case. Obviously in that setting participation is a duty on every Muslim.

Second situation would be a Muslim country that does not rule according to the Islamic law, to the rule of Allah and in some cases may be even a secular country that is forcing secularism on it’s Muslim population. That could be another difficult setting.

A third one which I suppose you might be focusing on in the context of Muslims in North America, is to participate in a country that is not Muslim and obviously of course does not apply the law of Allah, is it possible or not?

My answer to that basically, is that, while the Muslim population in North America is at least familiar that there are two views. There is no secret to that.

There are some people who oppose it and some even say it is unlawful, and there are those who say under some qualification it is permissible. But if I would put it very briefly, instead of just saying ‘this opinion says that, this opinion says that’, or dismiss one or the other, I’m always trying to look for the common ground that all Muslims should agree upon. That much I think is summarized in the following two points.

One: if a Muslim believes that there is any human being who has the right to make laws other than Allah then obviously this is total divergence from the path of Islam.

Or any person who believes that secularism is superior to the law of Allah, he’s violating the basic Quranic tenets (WA man ahsan min Allahi hukmun li qawmi yuminu) ‘who is better in giving us the rule in judgment than Allah, Our Creator’. That’s one issue that all Muslims should agree to.

The second point that if a person participates in an activity or process which is completely opposed to the foundations of Islam in its basic beliefs then of course that would be also totally out.

I would just like to add one more observation on that second point. The danger we find is to adopt the way of thinking of the Kharijites, the Khawarij, who, whenever they had a small difference in nonessential aspects of Islam, like they call it Furu’u branches, they blew it out of proportion to make it a matter of Iman (faith) and Kufr (disbelief) and those who did not agree with them and their particular interpretation on this minor issue, they put it in the context of even diverging altogether from Islam.

Other than these two points, the discussion as to whether it is permissible or not, is an area where there is room for different interpretations. It falls within what the Muslim jurists call as Siyassah Sharaiyya which means just to look after the affairs and benefits of the Muslims which are subject to interpretation within the basic boundaries and rules of Islamic law.

SS: So based on what you’re saying then, how does a Muslim find out what is Halal and Haram in terms of participating in the political process? When we’re talking about methodology, how do we come to an understanding from a purely Islamic perspective based on the Quran and Sunnah.

JB: I think that’s a very good question, I appreciate it because a lot of times people keep arguing about small details and magnify the differences without even being clear as to what methodology they are using to come up with this understanding. If you’re asking about methodology, I’d say at least four points.

First of all, that all Muslims are supposed to agree on the primary authoritative sources of Islam and it is known there are two primary revelatory sources: the Quran, the Word of Allah, as well as the sound or authentic Hadiths of the Prophet salallahu alayhi WA Sallam (peace and blessings be upon him). This should be the foundation for all. That’s one.

A second point is that even in the Quran and in authentic Hadiths, the Ulema or the scholars also make a distinction between things that are definitive or ‘Qati’ so clear, like for example, Muslims are supposed to pray or pay Zakah. There is no dispute; there is no room for a differing interpretation on one hand.

And the things that are probabilistic, they’re called ‘al Thanni’. In other words, the texts that are clear, yes, are authentic, but may be subject to more than one interpretation. That is second. And in fact, in Islamic law, there is a whole area of this probabilistic type of interpretation in nonessential or basic things.

A third issue on methodology: that even when we differ or debate on the interpretation of the probabilistic text, there are certain requirements also. At least I could think of four.

One: that all parties should have the sincere intention to seek the truth. In other words not just quote text, that a person would be fully convinced of one idea and going backwards to the text of the Quran and Sunnah just to try to justify their position or to support one party or one group of people.

A second requirement: there are also certain essential rules of exegesis or interpretation, understanding of the language and its uses, the occasion of revelation of some verses or Ayat in the Quran or possibly some Ahadith to keep in mind that after all, we cannot isolate one text in the Quran and Hadith and build a theory on that because Quran explains itself and is explained by Sunnah, so you need a more comprehensive view of all the text that relate to one particular subject.

A third requirement in interpretation that there should be respect also of specialization: We do respect specialization in chemistry, physics, and everything else. Why can’t we also respect specialization in the matter of Shariah, rules of Shariah, or interpretation that we refer to people who are more knowledgeable on that.

I would like to say in the very beginning that I’m not giving any Fatwa (Islamic legal ruling) or verdict but I am simply referring to the works which are done by very competent Islamic scholars on this subject.

For example, there was a publication by Al Majlis Al Shari’I al Ilmi, that’s the, you might say, supreme Shariah council composed of specialized scholars in Lebanon. Dr. (Yusuf) Qaradawi, Dr. Manah el Qattan, Maulana Mawdudi, Kamel Bahnasaoui, Dr. Salah El Salb, there have several specialized scholars who examined that particular issue. As you will see later, that they all agreed with participation under certain circumstances so that’s the third condition.

In other words, I’m just trying to avoid a situation where somebody who read a couple of books on Islam and he starts giving verdicts and accusing specialized and more learned scholars of not knowing what they are talking about. Respect of specialization.

The fourth aspect which I think is very important that all Muslims who are debating that issue, whatever opinion they adopt is fine, but the etiquette of differences should be there. And one of those etiquettes has been symbolized by Imam Shafi’i who very humbly said, ‘my opinion is right, that could be proven wrong. And the other opinion is wrong, that may be proven to be right.’ By that I mean, okay, if a person is more convinced of one argument or the other in matters where there is interpretations, that’s fine.

But one should not belittle the other opinion or show any disrespect to other people who came up with a different opinion or follow a different opinion. And worst of all of course is to consider them deviant from Islam, worse even, that they are even outside of the boundaries of Islam altogether.

My final first point on this issue of methodology is a repeat of one thing that I also mentioned in the answer to the first question. That if indeed the participation in the political process in a non-Muslim setting means that one believes that there is any system superior to the system or teaching of Allah, then of course this is totally out.

So my conclusion is that since there is no definitive, direct, underline direct text in the Quran and Sunnah that does not specifically answer the question of the setting here in North America, there are texts that could be interpreted to relate to that, then the issue is not really an issue of the foundation of faith, it is an issue, like I indicated earlier, of as Siyassa Shariah, it’s a matter of running and conducting the affairs of the Muslim Ummah depending on the particular circumstances.

SS: So would you say there are some rules or some boundaries perhaps in Islamic jurisprudence which could help us find an answer to whether or not Muslims should participate in the political process in our context of a non-Muslim society? Particularly, I mean those Muslims who object to participating, and scholars who object often argue that number one, not only is it a non-Islamic state but this non-Islamic state often makes policies and perpetrates policies against Muslims in other parts of the world. I think the sanctions on Iraq, for instance, in the case of the United States, is a very good example. How can we reconcile, for example participating in the political process of a state which is enforcing a deadly embargo on fellow Muslims?

JB: Without going into detail listing this issue. These issues are covered, of course, in texts that deal with the so-called Usul al-Fiqh or the roots of Islamic law.

But just to get a sample of the broadness of Shariah that people sometimes apply ideas in a very narrow perspective that are much broader framework within which interpretations really should be made.

Example of this: there is no denial on the basis of the Quran and Sunnah that one has to weigh the harms or benefits just like when the Quran speaks about drinking or intoxication. Wa ith ma huma akbaru min naf ayma. There is benefit, there is harm, but the harm is greater than the benefit.

So the idea of weighing harms and benefits of any particular decision is a very legitimate rule of Shariah. To give a little bit more detail on that: what happened when one thing has to take place, in other words, you’re given two choices. You have no third choice. One of them would bring more harm. The other would be harmful but the harm would be less.

Obviously, the sensible rule of Shariah here is to accept lesser harm to end a greater harm.

What happens if you have two choices, both of them are good, one of them would bring greater good than the other? Again you find that the rules of Shariah are very sensible. Obviously, you take the one that gives greater benefit. But then, you run into a situation where a decision might have something positive but something negative. How do you decide?

And there are also detailed rules of how to approach that. For example, if the benefit that’s to be achieved is very minor as compared to the harm, get my point then you don’t necessarily take, adopt that particular benefit. You can sacrifice that benefit. You might purge a minimum harm in return for achieving greater benefit.

It’s just like when you say ‘okay if the government expropriates a house or something in order to expand a highway, there is harm, some harm that’s being done but there is a huge benefit also that will be achieved.’ So things are really controlled by very sensible frame of comparison. That’s one.

Even a rule that should have been mentioned even before that, that the rules of Shariah, Islamic law, ultimately, are intended to achieve the benefit of people so long as there is no sin or deviation from the foundations of faith.

Muslim jurists, based again on the Quran and Sunnah, the Quran and Hadith, the teaching of the Prophet alayhis Salam (upon him be peace), they came up with the conclusion that there is hardly anything that is required by Islam or forbidden except that it falls within five broad objectives of Islam or Shariah. One is to safeguard faith, second to safeguard life, third to safeguard mind, fourth to safeguard honor, and fifthly, to safeguard wealth or property.

So the bringing of benefit to people, in other words, to be religious doesn’t mean that you live in a miserable state of affairs. Shariah also looks after even the mundane as well as the spiritual aspects of the life of individuals so this jal bull man fa’a as it is called, to bring benefit and to remove harm are actually guidelines in making any interpretation.

A third one which is very important I believe, like Dr. Qaradawi keeps emphasizing this, that we have also to understand the Fiqh or understanding of comparisons between priorities. In other words, at a certain point in time, a certain thing might take greater priority than the other. It is not enough to know the rule of Shariah. More important among the specialists is the skill as to how to apply those broad rules on a given situation. This is known in the Usul, the roots of Islamic law as isqatil hooqq isSharii’ alal waqil amali. How do you apply a verdict or rule of Shariah in a particular situation in the context of a given situation.

I hope I did not sound to be too abstract in this respect but just to give you one simple example on that issue. I think that might exemplify some of those rules and bring it home.

One of the great scholars of Islam, actually many give him the title of Shaikh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyya rahim Allah (may Allah have mercy on him), while some people might consider him to be conservative on some issues, in fact he has been so open-minded to the point that he gave a verdict when he was asked.

He said suppose the enemies of Islam invade Muslim lands and rule according to their own law. In other words, they frustrate the application of Shariah, and they’re ruling according to their own secular non-Islamic or maybe anti-Islamic type of laws. And then they go to a Muslim to serve as a judge: Should he accept the position or not? I would not tell you how Ibn Taymiyya answered that question, but I can tell you what some people today might say. What do you think they would say?

They would say how come? If he accepts, he would be a Kaffir. He would be outside of Islam. Why? because he accepts to be the implementor as a judge of a law other than the law of Allah, knowingly. He should refuse.

But do you know what Ibn Taymiyya said? He said that he should accept. Do you know the reason he gave?

He said, all right, under the circumstances, the presence of a Muslim judge who fears Allah, even though he cannot control, of course, the law, that’s beyond his ability, but his presence in his position, is more likely in comparative terms, to bring greater justice because you know any judge can use his own judicial discretion. There is some area of flexibility. He can use his judicial discretion to achieve the greatest amount of justice as compared to a non-Muslim or a person who does not believe in Shariah or does not fear Allah he could be an oppressive judge following the system fully and wholeheartedly, who would even bring greater harm to people.

In fact, some scholars even refer to an interesting situation at the time of Prophet Joseph alayhis Salam (peace be upon him). You know Prophet Joseph was in Egypt. He was not a lawmaker yet he was the one even who offered to be in charge of the distribution of food supplies before the famine started.

Some scholars comment and say there is no question that Joseph was occupying this high ministerial position in the state position of power under a system that was definitely contrary to the teaching of Allah. There’s no question. He was ruling or taking authority and control in a system where he could not stop, for example, the Pharaoh and other chieftains from getting more than their fair share.

Yet, still, his fear of Allah, his wisdom and the position of power that he occupied enabled him to serve masses of people who otherwise could have starved from not doing that. That’s basically the reasoning given by Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyya on this issue.

Just giving an example on the surface, superficially, it sounds like it’s totally out and it’s a matter of principle, you should never touch it, you should never get close to it but that’s not how the learned scholars look at it. They have to look at it in a more comprehensive and more discerning manner.

SS: I understand that you said you did not want to give a Fatwa (Islamic legal verdict) of any sort but can you perhaps share your understanding, very briefly, going back to the original question, more specifically: a. should Muslims vote b. should Muslims run for political office and c. should they support candidates, Muslim or otherwise in the current political system in North American, in the US and Canada?

JB: On the first question I don’t need to give verdict because many scholars, like the names I mentioned earlier, are of the opinion that if a person is doing that within the boundaries and the precautions that you can speak about then there is no harm if indeed it falls within these basic rules of Shariah. That the voting is likely to bring greater benefit or remove greater harm.

I’ll just give you one specific example. Suppose you have two candidates for president, for example. Both of them might be not even sympathetic to just Muslim causes, suppose. In most cases that is actually the situation.

However, in terms of relative harm and benefit which is a rule of Shariah it may be the collective wisdom, for example, of Muslim voters that one of them would do even greater harm to Muslim causes than the other. Do you see what I mean?

Well in that case, obviously, the lesser of the two harms, i.e. electing or voting for someone who will do less harm to Muslims obviously would be much better than sitting on the sidelines and just criticizing both and doing nothing about it. Having no clout or no use of the Muslim voting power to minimize the harm that is being done to Muslims whether in North America or overseas.

By the way, it’s not all a matter of overseas. Suppose two presidential candidates who are hostile, even, to Muslim candidates but one of them may be more inclined on the basis of the principles of democracy and American constitution to repeal the Secret Evidence Act which has terrorized many innocent people, for example, I’m just giving a practical example of the things that are current even in the news.

Is it better to try to remove some of that harm than just sitting there and being totally apathetic to what is going on? So yes, in terms of our best judgment, if that is beneficial, yes we can vote, no problem.

Your second question running for office, that’s a little bit critical because if you run for an office, for example, you might be part of legislation which is not necessarily Islamic.

But that issue again has been addressed by learned scholars. Even though they address the issue in some Muslim countries, it is applicable as well here because as I mentioned earlier if you remember in the first question, I said the difference between participation in a country that applies Islam versus a Muslim country which is not applying Islam or not applying it fully, so that’s somewhat similar to the situation we have and there are many Muslim countries which fall in that category.

And in fact the verdict that the scholars gave that, yes, it is possible for Muslims to run for political offices even in legislative assemblies like in Egypt, for example, when some of the Islamic leaders were nominated and elected like the late Shaykh Salah Abu Ismail, Raheem Allah and others. And they were elected in the Egyptian equivalent to parliament. Even though they were a minority. Even though we know of course what happened in this election that may not necessarily be representative of the populace, even though they knew that they will be in no position to change the situation.

But suffice as they understood to communicate the message of Islam, to present their argument, to remove any excuse for anyone who opposes the implementation of the law of Allah even though they did not necessarily succeed or may not necessarily succeed in doing this.

So that issue again is a matter of judgment. It’s not Iman or belief or non-belief type of issue. It’s an issue again of best judgment as to whether running is just for your own sake, for your own ego, or is it something that might serve some purpose even though you may not reach the ideal, that you’re looking for.

And then your third question was on what, on support? Should Muslims support candidates?

Again if the support of that candidate would remove or lessen harms to Muslims or bring benefit, why not?

A practical down to earth example: you know the problem that many Muslim communities face when they apply for zoning or rezoning so that they can build an Islamic center or mosque? Now, we know that a great deal of decision-making power is in the hand of the aldermen, the people in the city council, okay.

Now, for example, many of those candidates have been hostile to Muslims and there are other candidates who are reasonable, decent, they may not be Muslims even, but they are reasonable, fair and decent people who support the right of people to build their places of worship as a principle.

Voting for them and supporting them in elections is not necessarily an agreement with everything that the law, by way of laws and regulations. But at least it would be for that particular, limited purpose.

So in any of these three categories, I cannot claim to say that there is any agreement among all scholars that there is a definite no or a definite yes. But it is a matter of judgment so we can say yes, it is open for debate.

SS: So in the case of those who, for example, those scholars who are of the opinion that it is permissible to at least participate in a political system which is not 100 percent Islamic, what kind of risks should Muslims be watching out for? What are some things they should be considering, areas of caution, for instance, that need to be examined before Muslims decide to participate in politics, whether it’s by voting or running for office or any other kind of political involvement?

JB: Actually more than one scholar who even gave their opinion that it is possible to participate, they did also address those precautions. So that’s different from people who just say ‘all right, since it’s permissible, there is no qualifiers.’

Actually they were quite cautious and one of those risks that you’re asking about is to get so involved in the political process to the point that it affects your work and your activity as a Muslim.

The Muslim’s main concern is to establish Deen (Islamic way of life) on earth so there is a broader perspective, one should never forget that bigger picture.

By that, I mean if someone spends all of his time or her time for the support of political candidates and getting into party machinery to the point that there is hardly any time for any other Islamic work.

And secondly, in some situations, the risk is that there could be some, not debate or honest difference of opinion, but split within the Muslim community on the local or other levels just on the issue of (whether) to participate or not to participate and I do believe that the Islamic manners of debate and differing in opinion and clarification and referring to the scholars could lessen this kind of split or argument that could arise, so instead of Muslims being united and facing the challenges, they turn against each other, whether we participate or not. That’s one risk.

A third risk is that to participate, obviously, may not necessarily be the ideal situation but that could be tolerated on the basis of the rules we discussed before.

But there is fear also that you get into a process of gradual concession after concession after concession and compromise. Well, to compromise on something in terms of benefit or something which is not very essential might be understandable but the fear here is to keep pushing, making compromises on something that really Muslims should draw a line (on). So there has to be a bottom line.

And the Quran actually warns us, ‘waddu laou tudhinu kama yubhiyuna’ as we find in Surah al Qalam for example, that some of the unbelievers were wishing that the Prophet would be relaxed a little on the matter of belief so they find also excuse for that. So this is something that we have to keep in mind, that the line should be drawn as to what would be the bottom line beyond which a Muslim can never give any more compromise.

In conclusion, really, if I want to sum it up, again many scholars have spoken to this to emphasize again, number one, Muslims who are involved in the political process should never forget that they are people of Dawa (invitation to Islam), the people of invitation of all of mankind to the message of Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

And any argument, any position they take, whether it’s election or voting or support must be weighed according to the scale or the criteria of Shariah and on the basis of not just partisan kind of argument but on the basis of real competent scholars and people who can really give an opinion, even though they might differ themselves, but at least it should be based on profound knowledge .

Secondly, that for other Muslim groups or parties, for all parties actually, not one or other, for all of them, they should be very careful not to judge their brothers and sisters with just a primitive or preliminary, superficial, hasty judgment and make accusations against them that is not necessarily to be justified. They could be good intentioned. There could be a foundation, whether you agree with it or not, that attitude really should be avoided.

And finally, we cannot also blame those who are spending more effort because of their specialization or their competence and understanding how the system operates.

We cannot blame them that if they keep at least their minimum obligations as Duaah (callers to Islam) that they are not doing this or not doing that because of course, these are some areas where duties have to be distributed. So there could be complementary roles played by Muslims with a minimum which all of them have to keep in mind.

SS: Is there anything you would like to add Br. Jamal?

JB: I think at least in terms of basics we seem to have covered that in fact, Insha Allah, I’m scheduled to speak on that issue in some more detail in the New England conference that’s coming up in early October where I go into more detail of the specific evidences or arguments from the Quran and Sunnah given by both views you might say on participation which would be of interest of course, we didn’t have time in a short program like that to get into that but other than that I think that seems to be the basic outline.

SS: Jazak Allahu Khayran.

JB: Wayakum

SS: Assalamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah.

JB: Walaykum as Salam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.

Islamic Fatawa (3)

Question (1)

Dear scholars, As-Salaam `Alaykum. I have gotten into a discussion with an old English teacher of mine concerning the Christian concept of Original Sin. She being a “New Testament Christian”, does not agree with the traditional belief of how Original Sin works, but still believes that humans have a sinful nature. To prove that, she mentions that if left up to our own choice, we normally will choose that which is pleasing physically or personally even if it means disobeying God’s command. In other cases, people like to relate how even babies will do “wrong” when they know they are doing something bad. How should I, being a Muslim, respond to this notion? Jazakum Allah khayran.

Name of Mufti        Ahmad Kutty, IOL Shari`ah Researchers

Answer (1)

Wa`alykum As-Salaam Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.
First of all, it is to be stated that the Original Sin doctrine is in utter contradiction to the Islamic belief. In this regard, we’d like to cite the following:

“Islam rejects the premises of the concept of Original Sin which is alien to Islam and inconceivable to the Muslim mind. Islam has a different version of the Fall. Adam acknowledged that he had gone astray and sincerely sought Allah’s forgiveness which was granted to him unconditionally. Adam and his progeny descended from bliss to the earth because of his error, and yet, none of his children inherited the blame for his error. The volitional implication of Fitrah is that man is responsible for his own wrong actions. It is inconceivable to Muslim thinking that mankind should be punished for wrong actions that others did. The concept of Divine forgiveness features strongly in the Qur’an, for Allah accepts the sincere repentance of His slaves.

Almighty Allah says: “But Satan caused them to deflect therefrom and expelled them from the (happy) state in which they were; and We said: Fall down, one of you a foe unto the other! There shall be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a time. Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and He relented toward him. Lo! He is the Relenting the Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah: 36-37)

Tawbah (literally, turning, i.e. away from wrong action, and to Allah) or repentance plays a very significant and decisive role in a Muslim’s life. Although man is born in a state of original goodness or Fitrah, he is also subject to temptation and folly. Allah has granted him the ability and opportunity to repent which means that he should admit his errors and turn remorsefully away from them to Allah.

Knowledge of Divine mercy as well as knowledge of the innate goodness of the human Fitrah, serves three very important functions: firstly it gives the believer hope of salvation and success; secondly, it gives him confidence in his own potential to do right and resist wrong; thirdly, it exhorts and admonishes him to actively pursue all that is right and resist all that is wrong. These are the merits of sincere repentance. Just as the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, repented and was pardoned for his wrong action, so may his descendents repent and be pardoned for their wrong actions.”

Source: http://www.thetruereligion.org

Shedding more light on the question in point, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

“According to the Qur’anic perspective, man has been created with the equal inclination for good or bad. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And a soul and Him Who perfected it. And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it. He is indeed successful who causeth it to grow, And he is indeed a failure who stunteth it.” (Ash-Shams: 7-10)

Based on this and other Qur’anic verses, all of us has the propensity to do good or bad. So, in Islam we can choose either of the two ways: right or wrong and we are rewarded accordingly.
Human beings themselves recognize when they do sin that they have the choice to avoid it. When they do something good they have the choice to do it and they feel good about it.

If human beings had been on sins and they had no choice but to do sins, then there is no wisdom behind punishment. Allah Almighty is All-Wise and All-Just. He has assured us in the Qur’an: “No soul will be questioned about what another soul has don.” (Al-Israa’: 15)

This means that the sin of Adam did not pass on to his offspring; he paid for his own sin and we must pay for our sins unless Allah forgives us.

The Islamic concept in this matter is fully consistent with reason and revelation. It is also consistent with the teachings of the Gospel and the Old Testament before the Christians invented the doctrine of the Original Sin. As historians have pointed out, the concept of Original Sin and the Jesus being crucified or the sins of humankind had been imported to Christianity from Pagan sources.”

Allah Almighty knows best.

Question (2)

Dear scholars, As-Salaam `Alaykum. Can you explain the meaning of the verse: (If My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am near, ready to answer those who call upon Me? ) (Al-Baqarah 2: 186) I was told it means that one can only come to Allah through the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Is that true? Jazakum Allahu khayran.

Name of Mufti: Ahmad Kutty

Answer (2)

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

Unlike other religions, Islam teaches its followers to resort directly to Allah without any intermediary or intercessor. The verse mentioned in the question affirms this principle; it tells us that Allah is near and close to each person, and accordingly there is no need for any external link between servants and Him.

To elaborate more on your question we would like to cite for you the following fatwa issued by Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He states:

While explaining the Qur’an we should follow the proper methodology. We should understand it as the people who were its first addressees understood it. Qur’anic terms and concepts should be explained by reference to their usages and explanations. Otherwise, we will end up distorting the text, projecting our subjective ideas into them. The result would be the tarnishing the purity of the religion.

The verse, (If My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am near, ready to answer those who call upon Me? ) (Al-Baqarah 2: 186) was revealed in an answer to a question put to the Prophet: ‘Tell us about our Lord – is He near that we can whisper to Him, or is He far that we ought to raise our voices?’

The verse teaches us that Allah is near and close to each person. There is no need to raise one’s voice while calling upon the Lord. By implication it rules out the need for any intercessor or intermediary. Because Allah is near, each one can speak to Him directly.

It is, therefore, absolutely wrong to state that the above verse refers to the idea that one can come to Allah through Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Islam teaches us that although Prophet Muhammad is the last Prophet and Messenger, he is not considered an intermediary between man and Allah.

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: http://www.islam.ca

Allah Almighty knows best.

Question (3)

I want to know why didn’t Muhammad die for your sins?

Name of Mufti: Ahmad Kutty

Answer (3)

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

First of all, it is to be made clear that the entire concept of someone dying for our sins is in utter contradiction with the Islamic view of the nature of man and God. In Islam, every individual is responsible for his/her own salvation. Everyone, male or female, can directly approach God without any intermediary of a prophet, saint or priest.

Answering the question you raised, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto,Ontario, Canada, states:

It seems to me that you are coming from a Christian background. In order for you to be able to understand the Islamic position, it is important to be clear about certain points.

First, Islam, unlike Christianity, does not teach a concept of “original sin”. Adam’s sin was his and his alone; and, according to the Qur’an (for the Qur’anic narration of the story of Adam and Eve, see: the Qur’an: 2: 30-39; 7: 19-25; 17: 61; 18: 50; 20: 116-122, etc.), God forgave both Adam and Eve when they turned to God in repentance; accordingly they were once again restored to divine mercy. Hence, there is no concept of Adam passing on to his progeny an original sin, and therefore no need for stipulating a redeemer for such sins.

Second, as there is no original sin, every one is born into a state of fitrah, a state of natural innocence; sin is acquired later by our own conscious and willful actions. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Every child is born into a state of fitrah (natural state of innocence.)”

Third, Islam teaches that God is All-Compassionate and All-Merciful; He is not bound by the rule of a blood sacrifice in order to forgive His servants. To assume that God can forgive only by accepting a blood sacrifice and therefore to state that Jesus or Muhammad died for our sins is not acceptable in Islam. Allah says: (O My servants who have wronged against their souls! Do not despair of Allah’s mercy! For Allah forgives all sins; for He is indeed Forgiving, Compassionate. Turn to your Lord repentant, and submit to Him before the torment overtakes you when you shall not be helped.) (Az-Zumar 39: 53-54)

Fourth, Islam teaches that every individual is responsible for his/her own salvation. Not Abraham, or Moses, or Jesus, or Muhammad can save us; they are only capable of saving themselves through God’s grace. In the words of the Qur’an: (Whoever commits a sin commits it only against himself. Allah is Knowing, Wise.) (An-Nisa’ 4: 111); (Allah does not charge a soul with more than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns.) (Al-Baqarah 2: 286); (Each soul earns only on its own account, nor does any laden (soul) bear another’s load.) (Al-An`am 6: 164) (Whosoever goeth right, it is only for (the good of) his own soul that he goeth right, and whosoever erreth, erreth only to its hurt. No laden soul can bear another’s load.) (Al-Israa’ 17: 15)

Fifth, everyone, male or female, can directly approach God without any intermediary of a prophet, saint or priest. God is closer to us than our own jugular veins. Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: (We verily created man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.) (Qaf 50: 16) (When My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am nigh, ready to answer the prayer of the suppliant when he prays to Me; therefore let them respond to Me and believe in Me, that they may walk in the right way.) (Al-Baqarah: 186)

So, the entire concept of someone dying for our sins is inimical to the Islamic world-view or understanding of the natures of man and God. Islam beckons us all to respond to God’s message and receive His grace and salvation through faith, good works and leading a responsible moral and ethical life.

Excerpted, with some modifications, from: www.islam.ca

Islamic Fatawa (11-18)

(11) Inheritance Doubted to Be Unlawful

I am a married woman with two daughters and my husband’s financial situation is moderate, all thanks to Allah. My mother died and left a sum of money, jewels and a house in her country. All her property was a gift from my father to her. There was some doubt that my father’s wealth came from unlawful activities; however, he denied this. My mother did not accept these gifts until my father assured her that his money is lawful, and she did not spend this money in an unlawful way; as she used it in helping us and giving in charity. However, the only flaw was that she deposited the money in a usury-based bank. She did this due to her ignorance of what is lawful and unlawful in this matter.

Hence, is it permissible to take this inheritance and give some of it in charity to make amends for its being unlawful (according to our doubts); or is it impermissible to take it, in spite of our need of it? In addition, we are seven daughters – all of us are married except one –; do our maternal uncles share in this inheritance with us or not?

Answer by Sheikh Faisal Mawlawi:

Praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, his household, Companions and those who follow him until the Day of Judgment.

It is lawful to take the inheritance, Allah willing; as your father denied that his money is unlawful and you have no evidence to prove that it came from unlawful activities. The sum of money that your mother received as a gift from your father and deposited in a bank is lawful even if she deposited it in a usury-based bank; as the sin of depositing money in a usury-based bank does not make the money unlawful. However, the interest of this sum of money is considered unlawful, and should be spent on the poor and needy. Thus, the inherited money (after excluding the interest) is lawful and you should pay Zakah for it when you receive it.

Concerning the distribution of the inheritance, the share of the seven daughters is two-thirds of the inheritance, and the rest (one-third) is distributed among the maternal uncles; the male has a share double that of the female. If they are all of the same gender, the one-third share should be distributed equally among them.

(12) Ruling on a man kissing or hugging a woman on the grounds of friendship

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

 

Is it allowed for a muslim kiss (friendly) a non-mahrum muslim of the opposite sex on the cheek? How about friendly hugging?

Is the sin of the same magnitude if done when in need of friendly company which only the other person can provide?

Praise be to Allaah.

It is haraam for a man to take women as friends. See question no. 1114.

A person should be wise, because whoever says that a man may kiss his female friend on the face in a friendly manner and hug her in a friendly manner is saying something that is regarded as foolish and stupid. It is obvious to any wise person than this kind of behaviour provokes desire, and this is the path that leads to zina (fornication, adultery). It cannot be said that his intention is pure, because Allaah has created men with an inclination to be attracted towards women. Hence Allaah has forbidden men to look at women and has commanded them to lower their gaze. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

âTell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts)â al-Noor 24:30

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: âThe eye may commit zina, and its zina is looking.â (Narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Nikaah, 1840; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, no. 1884).

Hence it is haraam to mix with women or to be alone with a woman, even if she is wearing hijaab, so how about if the woman is making a wanton display of herself? There are very many aayahs and ahaadeeth which forbid that. It is also forbidden to shake hands with women; see question no. 2459. A person who allows himself to do these things may start to commit zina zina with her on the grounds of friendship. It cannot be said that this is because of difficult circumstances where he needs a person to stand by him and be his friend. All of that is haraam and is not allowed. Whoever falls into such things must hasten to repent sincerely from this sin, and turn back to Allaah and regret what he has done. The Muslim must realize that if he turns to Allaah for help with the calamities and problems that befall him in this world, Allaah will relieve him of his trouble and grant him relief and a way out, so he should fear Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

âAnd whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty)âal-Talaaq 65:2-3

âand whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for himâal-Talaaq 65:4

And Allaah knows best.

(13) The Greeting of Islam

Is it possible for a non-Muslim to use the greeting of Islam: “As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatu-llahi wa Barakatuh (Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you)”? At the same time, is it permissible for a Muslim to use the same salutation to greet or answer the greeting of a non-Muslim? I know people who believe that this is permissible, and others who believe otherwise.  

Answer provided by Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi:

All praise is due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger, his household, Companions, and whoever follows his way.

1. It is possible for a non-Muslim to use the greeting “As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatu-llahi wa Barakatuh,” but he would not receive a reward for it as a Muslim would. This is because this greeting is part of the Prophet’s Sunnah in which non-Muslims do not believe.

2. It is permissible for a Muslim to greet a non-Muslim using the word “salam” (peace). This view has been attributed to Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn Muhayriz, `Umar Ibn `Abd Al-`Aziz, Sufyan Ibn `Uyaynah, Ash-Shu`abi, Al-Awza`i, and At-Tabari. Moreover, this opinion was chosen by Rashid Rida in his “Tafsir Al-Manar” and Ash-Shanqiti in his “Adwa’ Al-Bayan”.   

– We also support this view, on the basis of the following Qur’anic verses which adopt and recommend “salam (peace)” without restriction:

* “O ye who believe! Enter not houses other than your own without first announcing your presence and invoking peace upon the folk thereof…” (An-Nur 24: 27)

* “And when they hear vanity they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you! We desire not the ignorant.” (Al-Qasas 28: 55)

* “… and when the foolish ones address them, they answer: Peace.” (Al-Furqan 25: 63

* “And he saith: O my Lord! Lo! those are a folk who believe not. Then bear with them (O Muhammad) and say: Peace. But they will come to know.” (Az-Zukhruf 43: 88-89)

* “He said: Peace be unto you! I shall ask forgiveness of my Lord for you. Lo! He was ever gracious unto me.” (Maryam 19: 47)

Furthermore, there are a number of authentic hadiths that also recommend peace without restriction; that is to say: they recommend it toward all people. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

*  “… and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)  

* “… When Allah created Adam, He said (to him), ‘Go and greet that group of angels sitting there, and listen what they will say in reply to you, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your offspring.’ Adam (went and) said, ‘As-Salamu `Alaykum (Peace be upon you).’ They replied, ‘As-Salamu `Alayka wa Rahmatu-llah (Peace and Allah’s mercy be on you).’…” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

* “Spread peace…” (Narrated by At-Tirmidhi, who said it is hasan sahih (agreeable and authentic), and by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih)

– There is another authentic hadith on which the majority of scholars depend in supporting the view that it is legally detestable (makruh) – or even prohibited (haram) – for a Muslim to greet a non-Muslim with “salam”. In this hadith the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do not initiate (greeting) Jews and Christians with salam.” (Narrated by Muslim) This hadith was connected to an existing state of war at the time. This can be supported by other versions of the hadith, which are also authentic, such as the version according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “We are going early (in the morning) to (fight) Jews, so do not start (greeting) them with salam.” (Narrated by Ahmad and At-Tabarani with a trustworthy chain of transmitters) That was on the occasion when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) invaded Banu Qurayzah (who were Jews). According to another version narrated by Ahmad, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily, I shall leave tomorrow to (fight) Jews, so do not start (greeting) them with salam.” This version is authentic, as mentioned in “Al-Fath Ar-Rabbani”. Moreover, in “Fath Al-Bari,” Al-`Asqalani quoted a narration of Al-Bukhari – recorded in Al-Bukhari’s “Al-Adab Al-Mufrad” – and which was also narrated by An-Nasa’i; it reads that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily, I shall leave tomorrow to (fight) the Jews, so do not start (greeting) them with salam.” (The difference between the two versions is “the” before “Jews” in the second one.) 

This opinion – which is adopted by a large  number of scholars and which says that it is permissible to greet a non-Muslim using the word “salam” (or its translation) – is  confirmed for those who live outside Islamic lands but in countries which are in a state of peace (with Muslims). It can be regarded as a form of covenant with the people with whom a Muslim lives whether he is a citizen or only a resident. This is because he – in this case – is supposed to practice Da`wah with them (as every Muslim should do), and initiating a greeting is one of the morals of preachers.    

3. If, however, a non-Muslim greets a Muslim with the word “salam” [or its translation], it becomes necessary to answer him, because Almighty Allah says, “When ye are greeted with a greeting, greet ye with a better than it or return it…” (An-Nisa’ 4: 86) It is “recommended” (in this verse) to answer the greeting with a “better” one, yet it is “obligatory” to “return” it. Returning a greeting requires an equal greeting, as maintained by Ibn Al-Qayyim in “Ahkam Ahl Adh-Dhimmah”.

You may read more about this subject in the books of Tafsir (exegesis of the Qur’an) where you can find elaborated explanations and commentaries on the verses mentioned above, especially Al-Qurtubi’s “Tafsir” and Rashid Rida’s “Al-Manar”. You may also refer to books containing commentaries on hadiths, especially: “Fath Al-Bari,” which explains Sahih Al-Bukhari, An-Nawawi’s Commentaries on Sahih Muslim, “Al-Fath Ar-Rabbani” which explains Imam Ahmad’s Musnad, and Ibn Al-Qayyim’s “Ahkam Ahl Adh-Dhimmah”.  

May Allah bless you, and peace be upon you.

(14) Al-Qaradawi Permits Organ Transplants between Muslims and non-Muslims

 By: Mustafa Abdul-Jawwad

Prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), stated that it is religiously permissible to remove resuscitation equipment applied to a patient who is not expected to survive, and who will die as soon as the equipment is removed. His Eminence considered this action as a means of both comfort and relief to the patient and his family. However, he stressed the prohibition of using what is called mercy killing [euthanasia], by giving the patient deadly medication.

His Eminence, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, indicated that organ donation is permissible but with some restrictions, while selling is totally prohibited. He pointed out that these restrictions include the following: 1) the donated organ should not be the only one that the donator has, and its removal should not cause deformity, such as an eye; 2) the organ should not be among the organs that carry genetic features such testicles and ovaries; and 3) the donation should not affect the life of the donor.

In addition, Dr. Al-Qaradawi stated that it is permissible to transplant organs from a non-Muslim to a Muslim, and that a Muslim can donate one of his organs to a non-Muslim, indicating that the body organs, whether from Muslims or non-Muslims, are originally Muslims and praise Almighty Allah.

The dialogue of His Eminence, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi – which was broadcasted yesterday, August 29, 2009 within a program called Fiqh Al-Hayah [lit. Jurisprudence of Life] that is televised daily on Ana Channel [Frequency: 12226 horizontal, Nile Sat] and is presented by Akram Kassab – examined the issue of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis. His Eminence, Al-Qradawi, asserted that the husband is not permitted to resort to such analysis to deny a child born on the marital bed; but, the wife is permitted to resort to it to exonerate herself from any accusations made against her by her husband.

Hereinafter is the dialogue:

• First, would you explain what is meant by planting or transplanting organs before we deal with its religious ruling?

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon our master, imam, example, beloved and teacher – the Messenger of Allah – his Companions, family, and true followers.

Almighty Allah created and honored people and made them qualified to gain knowledge; as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah).” Thus, man, throughout time, has learned many moral and material facts that cannot be counted, and every age adds a great amount of information and knowledge to the age that preceded it. Hence, the cumulative experience in the final outcome becomes voluminous. Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says about man, “Who has taught man that which he knew not.” And, “And He creates (other) things of which you have no knowledge.”

All the fields of science, most of all medicine, have developed greatly. What is called by some people ‘planting organs’ or by others as ‘transplanting organs’ has witnessed great progress. Transplanting organs means transferring an organ from one person to another person who needs it because his organ is damaged or no longer functions. Thus, this person needs an alternative organ from another living person by way of donation, or from a dead person by way of donation before death, donation of his family, law, or by any other way. This is applied to some organs and not to others.

Ruling on Organ Donation

• We are going to talk about this later. Now, we would like to know whether organ transplant has a particular ruling or if the five religious rulings may be applied?

First, there are organs that are impermissible to be transferred, such as the single organs of the human being, like the heart and the liver; as taking them leads to the death of the human being. Also, it is impermissible to transfer the organs that cause deformity to a person if they are taken from him, such as eyes and legs. It is not permitted to take an eye from a person, turning him to a one-eyed person, or to cut off his leg to be given to another person. Hence, organ transplant is only permitted regarding dual organs, as one organ is taken and the other is left without endangering the life of the donor. Accordingly, the two organs of the donor should be totally sound, as the remaining organ can function well, according to Allah’s Laws. For example, physicians assert that a person can live with one-sixth of one kidney; hence, there is nothing wrong in taking one kidney. In addition, Muslim scholars stated that there are organs that are prohibited to be transferred from a person, whether living or dead, to another, such as the genital organs, especially the private parts, which have special rulings. Also, it is impermissible to transfer organs that carry genes, i.e. chromosomes, such as testicles and ovaries, as these organs carry the genetic features of the family.

The other organs can be transferred from one living person to another, provided that this is done by way of donation, and not by way of sale and purchase. This is because there are markets, in some countries, that resemble the markets of slave trading, in which humans are sold cheaply. Moreover, many children are kidnapped in order to take their organs.

• Are they like drug mafia?

Yes. Hence, there is emphasis that these organs should not be taken from a person by way of sale in any case; as a sale, as defined by scholars, is to exchange a property with a property by mutual consent, and the human is not property to be sold. Almighty Allah honored people, as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “And indeed We have honored the Children of Adam.” Also, He (Exalted and Glorified be He) sent down His Books to them, sent His Prophets to them and charged them with some duties and obligations; hence, it is impermissible to treat them like commodities.

Refuting the Opposition

• Some scholars are of the view that organ transplant is not permissible at all. They prohibit it, whether by way of sale or donation.

Yes, some scholars hold this opinion. Our Sheikh Muhammad Mitwalli Al-Sha`rawi (may Allah have mercy upon him) was against organ transplant, even by way of donation. He stated that man and his body belongs to Allah; thus, he is not permitted to donate it. Some people attacked Sheikh Al-Sha`rawi during his lifetime for this opinion, and claimed that he was against benefitting people. I rejected this in my book Fatawa Mu`asirah [Contemporary Fatwas] and said that it is impermissible to prevent any scholar from expressing his opinion, whether we agree or disagree with him. I disagree with Sheikh Al-Sha`rawi regarding this issue; but, he has the right to express his opinion.

I refuted his opinion, saying that the human body belongs to Allah, as we say that people’s money originally belongs to Allah, but Allah favored His servants by making them heirs thereof. Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “And spend of that whereof He has made you trustees.” And, “And give them something yourselves out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you.” Moreover, the whole universe belongs to Allah; as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth.” And, “And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth.” Hence, everything belongs to Allah; however, He, the Absolute Owner of everything, granted us the right to dispose of our money and our bodies, but with restrictions and conditions. For example, women can donate their milk and people can donate their blood. All contemporary scholars have approved of blood donation and considered it as one of the best forms of charity, and even it is better than money; as it results in saving the lives of many people who need blood transfusions when subjected to surgery.

Accordingly, there is no objection that a person donates a part of his body, if this will not cause harm to himself or to those who concern him. Once, a woman asked me, “My sister needs a kidney. I want to donate one to her, but my husband refused this, and said, ‘I married her while she has two kidneys, and I do not want her to donate one. How can I guarantee that the other kidney will not become dysfunctional?'” I told her that he has the right to refuse. In a word, all restrictions should be observed.

Brain Death

• Is it permissible for a person, before his death, to make a will that his organs are to be given to someone, or to an institution?

The main sources of organ transplant are the wills of the dead and those involved in accidents. Donations are very few; but, most organs are taken from accident victims, provided that this happens after complete brain death, while the heart is still beating. The victim is taken to the hospital and the organs that can be transplanted are taken from him, such as the heart, liver, lungs, cornea, and kidneys.

In this case, the fatwa of organs transplant is based on the advisory opinion of brain death. The Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences (IOMS) in Kuwait was the first organization to discuss this issue. This organization combines the prominent scholars of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and medical scientists onto one table. Medical scientists introduce and explain the issue elaborately to the Fuqaha’ (jurists) and discuss it with them in detail, until the whole matter becomes clear to the Fuqaha’ who can then issue their fatwa. This is an important way to reach the correct fatwa. The IOMS held many symposiums, and I participated in most of them, thanks to Allah. I participated in one of these symposiums entitled “Beginning and end of life, and brain death”, which concluded that Shari`ah (Islamic law) did not define the way to ascertain death. Some people ascertain death, when the heart stops beating; however, sometimes the heart may stop and the person remains alive, as we hear that some people rise from the coffin. Thus, the IOMS made a decision that was presented to the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), which represents all Islamic countries, and they concluded that death is confirmed when one of the two following matters occurs: 1) The heart completely stops, and the specialized physician should report that this is irreversible; or 2) brain death.

• So, you consider the brain death?

Brain death means that the brain is already dead, and has begun to decompose. A specialized physician asserts that this death is irreversible. But, it is obligatory that brain death is determined by trustworthy physicians who are specialized in neurology and intensive care, and not by a physician who performs organ transplant operations, for he may have an interest in this. This was the final resolution of the IIFA, and many countries adopted it. Saudi Arabia adopted this resolution after it was approved by the Council of Senior Scholars, and hundreds or even thousands of organ transplant operations were performed, based on brain death. Also, many countries in the Gulf region, including Qatar, adopted this resolution. The only country that did not accept this resolution was Egypt; as a number of well–known physicians, including my dear friend Dr. Mamdouh Salamah (may Allah keep him safe), were strict regarding this issue. We discussed this issue in the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate. Also, Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Complex discussed this issue elaborately, several months ago, in the presence of many physicians and the parties that opposed this action. Finally, the Islamic Research Complex approved the permissibility of considering brain death and consequently organ transplant operations by an overwhelming majority.

Removing Resuscitation Equipment

• Some patients are admitted to intensive care, and remain alive because of resuscitation equipment. They may stay as such perhaps for many years. This costs a great deal of money. Is it permissible to remove this equipment to let the patient die?

People in the West do not tolerate that, i.e. removing resuscitation equipment; however, many Arab and Muslim scholars and physicians are convinced that it is permissible to do so. We discussed this issue previously in the IOMS, and I told them at that time that resuscitation equipment is regarded as a way of seeking medical treatment, which the Fuqaha’ consider as lawful and not obligatory. Even if we adopt the opinion that obligates seeking medical treatment when it is effective and relieves pain, this does not apply to this case, as medical treatment is useless. Hence, if trustworthy physicians report that the patient is not expected to survive and his remaining alive is a burden on him and his family, and that if the resuscitation equipment is removed, he will die, it is permissible in this case to remove the equipment in order to relieve him and his family.

• Sometimes a person’s emotions do not accept this matter, as someone may say, “How can I do this for my father or my mother?”

The truth is that he would be relieving his loved one and himself. Sometimes the brain may be dead, even if the heart is still beating; hence, the person does not feel anything at all. In Qatar, an old man faced this situation, and his sons asked me about it, and I said to them, “What will happen when you remove this equipment?” They replied, “He will die within minutes.” I told them, “So, why do you torture him?” In fact, they removed the equipment and he died. Then, they came to me after that and said, “May Allah reward you. You relieved him and us.”

Mercy Killing [Euthanasia]

• Is it permissible for a physician to use what is called euthanasia or mercy killing, i.e. giving the patient who is not expected to survive special medication that causes him to die immediately?

There are two matters; one is permissible, while the other is impermissible. The permissible matter is that the physician does not give the patient anything, stops his medication, or removes the resuscitation equipment. However, it is impermissible to give the patient a drug to hasten his death. Hence, what is called mercy killing is impermissible, while ceasing a patient’s medication who has reached a hopeless case is permissible.

• You permit organ transplant from animals to humans; but, if we assume that a person needs an organ from a swine or a dog, is it permissible to transplant it?

I see no objection in this; as these organs are not used outside the human body, but inside the body, which is full of impurities like blood and stool. Hence, there is no harm to transplant it inside the human body, as long as there is no apparent impurity. Furthermore, many scholars say that swine are only prohibited to be eaten, but that they are permissible to be used in any other lawful means. For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) passed by a dead sheep and said to the people, “Would you not benefit by its skin?” The people replied that it was dead. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “But only eating it is prohibited.”‏ It is well- known that the Ever-Glorious Qur’an prohibited eating dead animals and swine in one context; as Almighty Allah says, “He has forbidden you only the Maytatah (dead animals), blood, and the flesh of swine.”

Organs of People Sentenced to Death

If an organ of a person was cut off as a religious punishment for theft, for example; is it permissible to make use of this organ through transplanting it to another person. Also, is it permissible to be replanted to the same person, i.e. the person whose hand was cut off, as a religious punishment?

It is impermissible to be replanted to the same person, as this contradicts the objectives of the Islamic law, which aims at deterrence. However, transplanting this organ to another person is permissible, on the condition that the owner of the organ permits this. If he wants to give it to another person to make use of it, may Allah reward him for this.

Among the issues that were also discussed by Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Complex was the ruling on the organs of the person who is sentenced to death. Is it permissible to take his organ after executing the death penalty and to give that organ to others to make use of it? I said that it is impermissible except with his approval. The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar disagreed with me; but, I stated that we are not allowed to punish him twice by executing the death penalty and by taking his rights. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) clarified in many hadiths that whoever is punished for something such as murder or theft, this punishment is considered as expiation for him. The majority of scholars are of the view that the prescribed punishments are compensation, and are not mere deterrents; as Almighty Allah purifies the sinner by the prescribed punishments.

Muslims and Disbelievers

• If a Muslim needs an organ to be transplanted, and this organ is from a disbeliever; is it permissible to transplant this organ?

Undoubtedly, it is permissible. We find many Muslims go to Europe and America to transplant organs; some of them may ask: What is the destiny of the transplanted organ; will it be taken to paradise or Hell-Fire? We say that when the organ is transplanted to a person, it becomes a part of the whole body. A person is not only organs; but is a soul, while all the organs are just machines.

• Does this also apply to the heart?

Yes, this also applies to the heart, which is a machine that pumps blood, and is found in the living and the dead, and in sheep and donkeys.

All bodily organs, whether of Muslims or non-Muslims, are originally Muslims and praise Almighty Allah; as Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him and there is not a thing but glorifies His Praise. But you understand not their glorification.” Hence, the disbeliever does not glorify Allah, but all his organs, including his heart, glorify and praise Almighty Allah.

• Then, is it permissible to transplant organs from Muslims to non-Muslims?

Of course it is permissible. We should deal with them in the same way. We go to their countries and take their organs; shall we say to them, “No, it is impermissible to give ours to you!” Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “And they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to Miskin (poor), the orphan, and the captive.” The captives at that time were disbelievers. Also, He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “We feed you seeking Allah’s Countenance only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you.” Hence, the Muslim should do all that is good for all people, and Allah shall not suffer to be lost the reward of anyone who does good deeds in the most perfect manner, even an atom’s weight.

• Does this ruling apply to the disbeliever who fights against Muslims and the disbeliever who does not?

No, of course; as there is another ruling to be applied to the one who fights against Muslims.

Organ Transplant from Embryos

• Sometimes organs are transplanted from embryos, and some physicians do business in this; what is the ruling on this matter?

This matter is impermissible. Moreover, it is impermissible to keep embryos that are likely to survive to take their organs. However, this can be done regarding the embryos that will not survive, on the condition that they are incomplete. Left-over survivable pre-embryos from In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) projects and similar operations must be left to die spontaneously, in order not to be used illegally, by giving them to another couple.

The issue of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis recently witnessed much controversy; hence, what is its ruling?

DNA is a nucleic acid that carries the genetic information in the cell. Hence, everybody carries the genetic information that denotes that he is the son of so-and-so and belongs to the family of so-and-so. These genes are passed on through reproductive cells (eggs and sperm) genetic data to the coming generation; thus, children inherit the features of their parents. DNA analysis is based on real science and experiments.

• Then, if a man and woman are married, is it permissible for the husband to use this analysis to deny a child?

No, it is impermissible.

• Even if there is a doubt?

It is impermissible, even if there is a doubt. If he wants to deny the child, he can do so through invoking mutual curses (Li`an). However, I believe – even if the Islamic Fiqh Academy disagrees with me – that the wife can resort to this analysis to prove the paternity of the child, if her husband doubts the child’s paternity.

• Is it considered invoking mutual curses (Li`an) or accusation of fornication (Qadhf)?

Yes, it can be considered like that. Hence, DNA will benefit in many ways; as it will exonerate the wife from the accusations of her husband, prove the child’s parentage, and resolve the concern of the husband. However, it is not allowed for a man to resort to DNA; as it is impermissible to expose the woman. Islamic law permits invoking mutual curses to protect a woman from being exposed. Hence, as long as the child was born on the marital bed, it is impermissible to resort to DNA analysis, and that child should be attributed to the husband.

• Even if there are suspicions?

Yes, even if there are suspicions. This is to keep the marital life unbroken and not to turn it into mutual scandals. Hence, the child is for the owner of the bed and the stone is for the person who commits illegal sexual intercourse.

(15) Fiqh and Rules of Enjoining Ma`ruf and Forbidding Munkar

Changing Munkar and Its Stages

Conditions of Changing Munkar

When the Government Commits Munkar

Changing any Partial Munkar Is Not a Treatment

Leniency When Changing Munkar

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, received a question from a reader on the issue of changing Munkar (wrong). The question reads:

The issue of changing Munkar by force is controversial. Who is entitled to carry out the change and when is it permissible? Some scholars say that the right to change can only be authorized by the ruler; meaning, it is the right of the government and not the individual in order to protect the state from destructive chaos and sedition. Some others say that every Muslim is entitled to this right; rather, it is an obligatory act, according to the hadith that reads, “He who amongst you sees a Munkar should change it with his hand; and if he has not enough strength to do so, then he should change it with his tongue; and if he has not enough strength to do so, (even) then he should change it with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.‏” (Reported by Muslim on the authority of Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri) This honorable hadith obliged any Muslim who sees a Munkar to change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then he should change it with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then he should change it with his heart, and that is the weakest degree of faith. Hence, any Muslim who is able to carry out the highest degree of faith should not resort to the weakest one.

Thus, some enthusiastic youths rushed into changing Munkar with their hands regardless of the consequences. Sometimes the ruler or the government itself may carry out or defend Munkar; for example by prohibiting what is lawful, failing to enforce obligatory actions, stopping penalties, antagonizing the right or spreading injustice. In this case, the individuals should leave no stone unturned to rectify such evils; if they are harmed, it is for the sake of Allah the Almighty, and if they are killed, they will be martyrs for His Sake and will be with Hamzah ibn `Abd Al-Muttalib, the Master of Martyrs.

Many people, especially devout, enthusiastic youths are confused; as those who adopt the first opinion are the scholars who are now called “the scholars of the authority” and “the agents of the police”. Hence, Muslims no longer trust them. The other opinion is adopted by some young scholars, who may be accused of rashness, boldness, extremism and forming opinions without linking texts together.

I hope that you give some time to this issue to clarify it. May Allah protect you and help you show us the right way.

The prominent scholar, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, answered the questioner by saying:

In the name of Allah, praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah

The obligation of enjoining Ma`ruf and forbidding Munkar is one of the basic obligations of Islam; moreover, Allah the Almighty made it one of the two main elements that indicate the beneficence and superiority of this nation. “Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah.” (Aal `Imran 3: 110)

The Qur’an mentions some of the main characteristics of the believers: “(Triumphant) are those who turn repentant (to Allah), those who serve (Him), those who praise (Him), those who fast, these who bow down, those who fall prostrate (in worship), those who enjoin the right and who forbid the wrong and those who keep the limits (ordained) of Allah…” (At-Tawbah 9: 112)

Just as the Ever-Glorious Qur’an praised those who enjoin Ma`ruf and forbid Munkar, it also dispraised those who fail to do so. Almighty Allah says, “Those of the children of Israel who went astray were cursed by the tongue of David, and of Jesus, son of Mary. That was because they rebelled and used to transgress. They restrained not one another from the wickedness they did. Verily evil was that they used to do!” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 78-79)

The Muslim is not merely a righteous human being who does good actions and forsakes wrong ones, while living in his own circle, paying no attention to the decrease of good actions in his world and the sharp increase of evil actions around him; the real Muslim is the righteous human being who is keen to rectify others and help them to be righteous. He is the one depicted in the following Surah of the Qur’an: “By the declining day, Lo! man is in a state of loss, Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.” (Al-`Asr 103)

Therefore, the Muslim who lost this worldly life and the Hereafter will not be saved unless he enjoins good and forbids evil. Thus, a Muslim is considered a guardian of right and good in the Nation.

Munkar is only committed in the Muslim society when it suffers from weakness or negligence; thus, Munkar will not continue, exist in safety, or enjoy legitimacy by any means. Hence, all that is wrong should be pursued in the Muslim community so that it does not become settled in our lands.

Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “He who amongst you sees a Munkar should change it with his hand; and if he has not enough strength to do so, then he should change it with his tongue; and if he has not enough strength to do so, (even) then he should change it with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.‏” (Reported by Muslim) This honorable hadith clearly indicates that changing Munkar is obligatory on every Muslim who sees it. The Prophet’s statement “He who amongst you sees …” includes all Muslims (the rulers and the ruled); as he (peace and blessings be upon him) did not exclude anyone; starting from his Companions until the last generation of his nation.

Conditions of Changing Munkar

The Muslim individual or group that wants to change any Munkar should abide by the conditions of doing so. These conditions are indicated in the abovementioned hadith.

The first condition: The Munkar should be unanimously prohibited

The Munkar that should be changed with the hand first, then with the tongue and then with the heart in case of inability must be something that is prohibited. Thus, the word Munkar means doing the haram (prohibited deeds) that Allah the Almighty ordered us not to do, or not carrying out the actions (obligations) that Allah the Almighty ordered us to do. The haram includes major and minor sins even if the minor sins may be easily overlooked especially if one does not persist on doing them. Almighty Allah Says, “If ye avoid the great (things) which ye are forbidden, We will remit from you your evil deeds and make you enter at a noble gate.” (An-Nisaa’ 4: 31) What’s more, Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Five (daily) Prayers and from one Friday Prayer to the (next) Friday Prayer, and from Ramadan to Ramadan are expiations for the (sins) committed in between (their intervals) provided one shuns the major sins.” (Reported by Muslim)

Thus, the word Munkar does not include that which is disliked, leaving the sunnah or commendable (mustahabb) actions. It is reported that a Bedouin came to the Prophet and said, “Tell me of such a deed as will make me enter Paradise, if I do it.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Worship Allah, and worship none along with Him, offer the (five) prescribed compulsory Prayers perfectly, pay the compulsory Zakat, and fast the month of Ramadan.” The Bedouin said, “By Him, in Whose Hands my life is, I will not do more than this.” When he (the Bedouin) left, the Prophet said, “Whoever likes to see a man of Paradise, he may look at this man.”

This means that Munkar is that which is prohibited by perfect authentic Islamic texts or decisive Islamic rules, and not by an opinion or an independent judgment that may be correct or incorrect and may change according to the changes of time, place, customs or circumstances. In addition, it should be unanimously prohibited by Muslim scholars; thus, the matters that scholars have disagreed about are not considered as Munkar.

If some jurists disagreed concerning the rule of having pictures or photographs, singing with or without an instrument, a woman uncovering her face and hands, a woman assuming the position of judge and the like, proving the start of the fast or the end of the fast by sighting the crescent in another country or sighting it by telescopes, or any other controversial issue, it is impermissible for any Muslim individual or group to adopt one of the opinions and to use violence to compel others to follow it.

The opinion of the majority does not annul that of the minority, even if only one scholar has a different point of view, as long as he is a respectable scholar with a great deal of knowledge. Many opinions were considered weak and abandoned, then great scholars came after a time and supported and adopted them; afterwards, these weak opinions became the most prevalent. For example, the opinions of Sheikh Ibn Taymiyah, the Sheikh of Islam, concerning divorce and family matters were greatly rejected during his life and after his death for many centuries, however, after that they were supported and spread by many scholars. Afterwards, his opinions became the main reference of all Fatwas and laws in many Muslim countries.

The Munkar that should be changed by force must be the one about which all scholars agree upon its unlawfulness; otherwise, the doors of evil and sedition will be opened, as some people may attempt to compel others to follow their opinion by force.

There are seversal enthusiastic young men in some Muslim countries who destroyed toy shops; as they thought that children’s toys are kinds of idols and images that are considered major sins. When they were told that the old scholars permitted these toys, as there is a kind of disgrace, humiliation and scorn in such toys, and so on, they said that the old scholars permitted toys other than those of our days, which open and close their eyes, walk here and their and speak to the children. When it was said to them, “But, the child throws the toy here and there, breaks its arms and legs and does not glorify or sanctify it,” they could not find an answer.

Also, various youths in some Muslim countries attempted to close restaurants, coffee shops and the like by force, when some Muslim countries announced the start of the fast of Ramadan, even though their countries did not sight the crescent and, thus, had not declared the beginning of Ramadan. Those youths thought that Ramadan had started; thus, Muslims should not publicly declare that they are breaking their fast. 

Furthermore, when the Egyptian House of Ifta’ announced that it did not sight the crescent of Shawwal and, thus, Ramadan would be thirty days, some Egyptian youths insisted on breaking their fast and setting the rituals of `Idulfitr (Lesser Bairam) alone; as some other Muslim countries announced that they had sighted the crescent of Shawwal, which signifies the end of the fast. As a result, unjustified clashes between them and the security forces took place. I believe that those youths made a mistake for the following reasons:

1.                 Jurists differed concerning the way of proving the crescent; as some of them state the evidence of an eyewitness, others state two eyewitnesses, while some others state the evidence of a crowd of people when the sky is cloudless. Each group of scholars has its own evidence; thus, it is impermissible to compel people to follow a specific opinion.

2.                  Also, they disagreed about the different sighting-zones; according to many schools, every country has its own sighting and does not have to follow the sighting of another country. This is the opinion of Ibn` Abbas and many scholars, according to the hadith that was narrated by Kuraib in Sahih Muslim.

3.                 The judgment of the Imam or the Mufti concerning controversial matters ends any disagreement and obligates the nation to follow it. Thus, if the Mufti adopted the opinion of one of the schools concerning any matter, the Muslims should follow him and preserve their unity.

I said in some Fatwas that if we failed to unify all Muslims regarding the begining and the end of the fast, the people of the same country should be unified in this matter; as we do not accept that the people of the same country are divided into two groups: one that is fasting and one that is not. However, the wrong action of those enthusiastic youths should not have been resisted by bullets; rather, they should have been met with conviction.

The second condition: The Munkar should be apparent

The Munkar should be apparent and visible. If a person commits a Munkar away from the eyes of the people or closes his door on himself, it is impermissible for anyone to spy on him by any means or to storm his home in order to catch him red-handed. The honorable hadith indicates that the one who is entitled to change any Munkar is the one who sees it; the hadith reads, “He who amongst you sees a Munkar …” Thus, it is a condition to see the Munkar, and not to hear about it from someone else.

In point of fact, Islam leaves the punishment of the one who commits the Munkar secretly and does not proclaim it to the Almighty to call him to account on the Day of Judgment. Furthermore, the divine punishment for the one who committed a sin secretly and was covered by Allah the Almighty will be less or removed; as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Everyone of my nation is excused except those that announce themselves (meaning, those who commit a sin openly or disclose their sins to the people).” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

Thus, no one has the power to punish any person for any hidden Munkar – especially the sins of the heart that Islam considers as major sins, such as dissimulation, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness and pride – as long as they are not disclosed. This is because we are ordered to judge according to what is apparent, leaving Allah the Almighty to deal with a person’s innermost self.

In his famous book Al-Ihya’, Sheikh Al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy upon him) narrated the following story, “`Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second Caliph, was one day patrolling when he heard singing and music coming from a house. He jumped over the wall of the house and observed that a man was sitting with a strange woman and had a cup of wine in front of him. He was drinking and singing. `Umar told him, ‘O enemy of Allah, do you presume that Allah the Almighty will not disgrace you?’ The man replied, ‘O Ruler of the Believers, do not pass a judgment in haste. If I have committed one sin, then you have committed three!’ `Umar asked how? The man replied, ‘Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says one should not spy (Al-Hujurat: 12) and you have spied on me. Then, Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says enter houses through the proper doors (Al-Baqarah: 189) and you jumped over the wall. Finally, Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says enter houses of others only with the permission of the householders (An-Nur: 27) and you came in without asking permission.’ `Umar said, ‘You have spoken the truth. If I forgive you, will you repent?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ Thus, `Umar forgave him.” (See: Al-Ihya’, vol. 7, p. 1218)

The third condition: The real ability to change

The one who wants to change any Munkar by force should have the ability, whether morally or materially, to change it by himself or with the help of others easily. The honorable hadith reads, ” … if he has not enough strength to do so, then he should change it with his tongue …” This means that if the person is unable to change the Munkar with his hand, he should leave this stage to the one who has enough power and settle for changing it with his tongue.

In most cases, the stage of changing any Munkar by hand, meaning, by force, is entitled to the person within his circle of power; to the husband who has (moral) power over his wife, to the father who has (moral) power over his sons and daughters, to the manager in his institution, to the ruler within the limits of his authority, and so on.

When the Government Commits Munkar

A problem arises here: sometimes the government that has the means and military power commits the Munkar! Thus, what can the individuals and groups do to change this Munkar that was committed or defended by the government?

They, the individuals and groups, should have the power enabling them to change it. In our time, this power takes the form of three elements:

1.               The armed forces, on which many countries – especially in our Third World – depend to establish their rule, implement their policies and silence their opponents. Such governments do not depend on logic and dialogue; rather, they always deal with their opponents with force. Thus, those who control the armed forces can end any public movement that demands change; as we have seen in many countries, such as in China that easily ended the revolution of the students who were demanding freedom.

2.               Parliament controls the legislative authority of issuing or changing laws according to the decision of the majority, which is applied in the democratic system. Thus, the group that has the majority – under a real democratic system – can change any Munkar by issuing a binding legislation that cannot be cancelled by any minister, prime minister or president.

3.               The mighty power of the populace that resembles a consensus. If it is used, no one can stand in its way or stop its march. It is like the fierce waves of a flood that cannot be resisted, even by the armed forces; as these forces are a part of the populace and make up their families; fathers, sons and brothers.

If the individuals or the groups do not have one of these three elements, they should endure and continue with patience until they achieve one of them. Also, they should change any Munkar with the tongue, pen, preaching, educating and guiding in order to create a strong public opinion and a bold generation who can make the desired changes.

Abu Umayyah Ash-Sha`bani said, “I asked Abu Tha`labah Al-Khushani: What is your opinion about the verse, ‘O you who believe! Take care of your ownselves. If you follow the right guidance and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong no hurt can come to you from those who are in error. The return of you all is to Allah, then He will inform you about (all) that which you used to do.’ (Al-Ma’idah: 105)” He said, “I swear by Allah, I asked the one who was well-informed about it; I asked the Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) about it. He (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Enjoin one another to do what is good and forbid one another from doing what is evil.  But when you see niggardliness being obeyed, passion being followed, worldly interests being preferred, everyone being charmed with his own opinion, then care for yourself, and leave alone what most people are doing; for ahead of you are days which will require endurance, in which showing endurance will be like grasping hot coals. The one who acts rightly during that period will have the reward of fifty of your men.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and Ibn Jarir)

The fourth condition: not causing a greater Munkar

The one who intends to change any Munkar by force should make sure that his change will not lead to a greater Munkar, meaning, his change should not cause sedition that leads to shedding the blood of some innocent people or violating their rights or property. Thus, the scholars agreed on the permissibility of remaining silent about a Munkar for fear of committing a greater Munkar; choosing the lesser of two evils.

In this regard, we cite the authentic hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to `Aa’ishah, “”But for the fact that your folk have recently given up disbelief, I would have rebuilt the Ka`bah on the foundations of Abraham.”

The Ever-Glorious Qur’an asserts this meaning in the story of Prophet Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) with Banu Israel. When Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) went to fulfill the appointment with his Lord on Mount Sinai, As-Samiri – a man who was inclined towards evil – made a golden calf and managed to make the people worship it instead of Allah the Almighty. Musa’s brother, Harun (peace and blessings be upon him), who acted as their leader in Musa’s absence, was grieved and spoke up, “O my people! You are being tried in this, and verily, your Lord is (Allah) the Most Beneficent, so follow me and obey my order.” (Taha 20: 90) However, they did not accept his advice, and said, “We will not stop worshipping it (the calf), until Musa returns to us.” (Taha 20: 91) On his return, Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) saw his people singing and dancing around the statue of the calf. Furious at their pagan ritual, he flung down the Tablet of the Law he was carrying for them. Then he tugged Harun’s beard and his hair, crying, “O Harun (Aaron)! What stopped you when you saw them going astray; that you followed me not (according to my advice to you)? Have you then disobeyed my order?” (Taha 20: 92-93) Thus, his brother said, “O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard, nor by my head! Verily, I feared lest you should say: You have caused division among the Children of Israel, and you have not respected my word!” (Taha 20: 94)

This means that Harun chose to preserve the unity of his people during the absence of his elder brother and decided to consult him concerning this serious matter that required firmness and wisdom after his return.

Thus, these are the four conditions that should be available to the individual or the group that wants to change any Munkar by force.

Changing any Partial Munkar Is Not a Treatment

Now, I would like to draw the attention of those who bear the responsibility of reforming the status of the Muslims to a very important issue: the degeneration, which affected our societies during the ages of backwardness, Western colonialism and the ages of tyranny and secular rule, is old and deep-rooted. Thus, to change and remove this degeneration, it is not sufficient to change any partial Munkar, such as a music party, a woman displaying her beauty in the streets or selling video or cassette tapes containing what is improper or impermissible. The change should be greater, deeper and more comprehensive than this; it should include ideas, concepts, values, rules, morals, actions, customs, systems and legislations. However, what is more important is that people should be changed through continuous guidance, education and good example; as indeed, Allah the Almighty will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of degeneration in accordance with the constant Sunnah, “Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts…” (Ar-Ra`d 13: 11)

Leniency When Changing Munkar

There is another issue that should not be forgotten here: leniency when changing any Munkar; as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to be lenient. He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Indeed Allah is Lenient and loves leniency in all affairs.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Furthermore, he (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whenever leniency is added to something, it adorns it; and whenever it is withdrawn from something, it leaves it defective.” (Reported by Muslim)

In his book Al-Ihya’, Sheikh Al-Ghazali related the story of a man who came upon Al-Ma’mun, the prominent `Abbasi Caliph, and started to counsel him about vice and virtue in a rough and crude manner, without consideration for his status. Al-Ma’mun, who had sound knowledge of Fiqh, did not punish him, as many of the kings might have done; rather, he a1ddressed the man saying, “Speak more kindly. Remember that Allah the Almighty sent someone better than you to a ruler worse than me, and commanded the former to spe1ak mildly; He (Exalted and Glorified be He) sent Musa and Harun, who were better than you, to Pharaoh, who was worse than me, and commanded them, ‘Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds, but speak to him mildly. Perchance he may take warning or fear [Allah]’ (Taha 20: 43-44).”

In addition, the abovementioned verse denotes that the one who calls to Allah the Almighty should not lose hope, even if he calls people who transgressed all bounds (like Pharaoh), as long as he calls them mildly and leniently.

Allah Almighty knows best!

(16) Fatwa on Eating Fish in the Tsunami Areas

   It has been brought to the attention of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) that a section of our Muslim brothers and sisters in the South-East Asian areas, which were hit by the Tsunami disaster, have refrained from eating fish from the Indian Ocean and adjacent areas. They fear that such fish might have fed on human bodies that were swept into the ocean. 

Taking the interests of all Muslims into consideration, and in fulfillment of its duty to provide good counsel to the Muslims, pointing out to them that which is acceptable in Islam and that which promotes their welfare, the International Union for Muslim Scholars (I1UMS) issues the following fatwa concerning eating fish in the areas hit by the1111111 Tsunami disaster: 

A1ll praise and thanks are due to Allah, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of Allah, his household, Companions, and those who honorably follow him until the Day of Judgment.

The IUMS Secretariat contacted a number of international organizations concerned with food safety. Prominent among these were the regional offices and headquarters of the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. These contacts have confirmed to the IUMS Secretariat that comprehensive tests have been carried out on fish caught after the Tsunami disaster. All these tests confirm that such fish do not contain any harmful substances that might have been transmitted to them from anything swept into the ocean. This is also true of tuna fish, which feeds on flesh. As such, no particular health hazard results from eating such fish, and therefore eating them is absolutely permissible. Thus, the Prophet’s statement that prohibits the infliction of harm on oneself or others does not apply in this case, as there is no harm involved.

Nevertheless some people may still entertain some doubts about the permissibility of eating such fish. They may think that if fish feed on human bodies, they will be in the same position as land animals that feed on impurities, which are known in Islamic law as jallalah. But there is no reason to refrain from eating such fish on this basis. To start with, laboratory tests carried out by reliable sources prove that fish do not feed on dead bodies. Besides, the basic ruling of permissibility cannot be changed on the basis of doubt or assumption. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Lawful to you is all water-game, and whatever food the sea brings forth, as a provision for you and for travelers.” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 96) He also says: “It is He who has made the sea subservient to [His laws], so that you may eat fresh meat from it.” (An-Nahl 16: 14) Speaking of the sea, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Its water is pure, and its dead animals are lawful.” (Reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

On the basis of the foregoing, the International Union for Muslim Scholars issues this fatwa for all people in the areas affected by the Tsunami disaster: it is absolutely permissible from the Islamic point of view to eat sea fish. Indeed it encourages them to do so in order to protect their health and preserve their energy so that they can carry out their duties and functions in obedience to Allah, and guard themselves against any disease that may affect them as a result of malnutrition, should they refrain from eating fish. They should consider sea fish as part of the sustenance Allah has provided for them, as it gives them the proteins and energy they need.

It is to Allah alone that we pray for guidance.

Secretary General

Dr. Mohammad Salim Al-Awa

(17) Hostage Taking – The Islamic View

 Kidnapping and hostage taking are not an invention of our modern times. They go back far in history. But they have become more and more frequent these days because of the grave injustice suffered by weak and oppressed communities at the hands of powerful countries seeking to impose their will on them. Moreover, these oppressed communities seldom have adequate means and weapons to repel aggression. Since some Muslims are resorting to such methods at an increasing rate, thus going beyond the limits of what is lawful, we wish to make the issue surrounding this very clear. This ruling, or fatwa, sums up all the Islamic rules that apply to such acts:  

Kidnapping is a form of aggression against others, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims. It is a type of transgression which Allah has prohibited, as He says in the Qur’an: “Allah enjoins justice, kindness to all, and generosity to one’s kindred; and He forbids all that is shameful, reprehensible conduct and all transgression.” (An-Nahl 16: 90) It is well known that the order to ensure justice extends to kindness and being generous to one’s kindred and it is not limited to Muslims only. Similarly, the prohibition of what is shameful, and reprehensible conduct and transgression applies to all humanity. By nature, man is keen to repel any aggression directed at him, but Allah permits the repelling of aggression by similar means only. This is stated in the Qur’an: “If anyone commits aggression against you, attack him just as he has attacked you. Have fear of Allah, and be sure that Allah is with those who are Allah-fearing.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 194) “Fight for the cause of Allah those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression. Indeed, Allah does not love aggressors.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 190) Allah also makes it clear that religious differences do not justify aggression against anyone, even though they may reach the stage of open conflict: “Do not let your hatred of people who would debar you from the Sacred Mosque lead you into aggression.” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 2)

Kidnapping is an act of war. If it could be exceptionally permissible during war, it is totally forbidden in all other situations:

In his commentary on the Qur’an, At-Tabari quotes the following hadith: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Makkah to perform `Umrah. His Companions arrested some local people taking them unaware. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered them to be released.” We see that the Prophet did this, releasing unbelievers who were taken prisoner, because he did not consider himself in a state of war with the unbelievers, as his purpose was to perform `Umrah.

Similarly the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not sanction what one of his Companions, Salamah ibn Al-Akwa`, did when he kidnapped four unbelievers after the signing of the peace treaty at Al-Hudaybiyah. Salamah did so thinking that the unbelievers had already violated this peace treaty. The Prophet, however, said: “Leave them so that they will be the ones who initiate evil and repeat it.” (Reported by Muslim)

This means that initiating evil is a characteristic of unbelievers. It must never be a characteristic of Muslims. Muslims may repel evil by using a similar measure, but their purpose in doing so is not to retaliate; rather, it is to prevent any repeat of the evil committed against them, and to totally remove it from the domain of human relations. The Qur’an outlines the best method that ensures the prevention of evil, clarifying that forbearance and forgiveness is certain to stop evil actions: “Good and evil cannot be equal. Therefore, repel evil with that which is best, and then, a person between whom and yourself there was enmity may become a close and true friend.” (Fussilat 41: 34) “Repel evil with that which is best.” (Al-Mu’minun 23: 96) Muslims are described in the Qur’an as those who “repel evil with what is good.” (Ar-Ra`d 13: 22) 

On the basis of these points we state that it is forbidden to kidnap any human being in any situation other than open warfare, when the kidnapped person becomes a prisoner of war who must not be killed. Indeed, that person must eventually be released, as the Qur’an states: “Thereafter, set them free, either by an act of grace or against ransom.” (Muhammad 47: 4) Needless to say, it is forbidden to kidnap anyone who is opposed to a war that has been launched against us, or is sympathetic to us, such as the two French journalists. We denounce all cases of kidnapping where the victims have nothing to do with the occupation of Muslim land. They must be released immediately. 

In the case of war, it is not permissible to kidnap innocent or enemy civilians who must not be made a target of any act of war. From the Islamic point of view, civilians are those who are non-combatants, such as women and children, as well as elderly men who have no role in the fighting, and priests. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has given an express order “not to kill women and children.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) He also said: “Do not kill any young person.” (Reported by Abu Dawud) In an order to Khalid ibn Al-Walid, the commander of the army, he said: “Never kill a child or an employee.” (Reported by Ibn Majah) This last order includes anyone who is employed in non-combat capacity, such as factory workers, medical personnel, and the like. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also highlighted the prohibition of killing an elderly man, a priest, or a hermit dedicated to worship. The same prohibition of killing elderly men is confirmed by Abu Bakr. Moreover, Jabir ibn `Abdullah, the Prophet’s Companion, is quoted as saying that Muslims “did not kill business people who were unbelievers.” The majority of scholars in the Hanafi, Maliki, and Hanbali schools of Islamic law extend this prohibition, on the basis of analogy, to include other non-combatants, such as those who are physically or mentally handicapped, and those who lock themselves in a house or a church, labourers, farmers, and tradesmen. Imam Ash-Shawkani has formulated a clear rule of analogy on this particular issue. This rule makes it clear that “it is unlawful from the Islamic point of view to kill anyone who is of no benefit to the enemy and cannot do the Muslims any harm.”

Therefore, we denounce taking school children as hostages as was done in the school in North Ossetia, leading to a horrific massacre, despite the fact that we believe the Chechens have a just cause and that they have the right to self determination. We also denounce the kidnapping of two Italian women working for a humanitarian agency, at the same time that we condemn the Italian government’s policy of alliance with US aggression against Iraq. All such incidents are unlawful from the Islamic point of view. In addition, such incidents do not serve the interests of resisting the occupation of Iraq. In this connection we should remember that when the Jews of Banu Qurayzah committed a horrific act of treachery, violating their peace treaty with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and allying themselves with the aggressors who had declared their aim to annihilate the Muslim community, such treachery did not compel the Muslims to kill Jewish women and children or expose them to any danger.

Should kidnapping take place during times of war, those who are kidnapped become prisoners of war and must be treated according to the relevant Islamic rules, which can be summarized as follows:

Prisoners of war must be handed over to Muslim authorities to determine what is to be done with them. Those who actually take them prisoner do not have any authority over them and cannot determine their fate.

It is an important Islamic duty to treat prisoners of war kindly and gently, be hospitable to them, and provide them with food and clothing. They must never be subjected to ill-treatment or torture. Allah says in the Qur’an: “They [i.e. the believers] give food – however great be their own want of it – to the needy, the orphans and the captives.” (Al-Insan 76: 8) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave this general order: “Be sure to treat captives kindly.” (Reported by At-Tabarani) He is also reported to have said: “Be kind to your prisoners, and let them have their afternoon rest, and provide them with water to drink.” He is also quoted as saying: “Do not compound their suffering of today’s heat with the hardship of your arms.” After the Battle of Badr, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered that those unbelievers who had been taken captive should be treated kindly. Complying with his order, his Companions would give the captives their food before they themselves ate.

Eventually, according to Islam, captives must be released, either by an act of grace that requires nothing in return, or in return for ransom which could be monetary, or through prisoner exchange, or in the form of a service they render to the Muslim community. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked some of those who had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Badr to teach some Muslims to read and write in return for their release. This is clearly stated in the Qur’an: “When you meet unbelievers in war, smite their necks until you overcome them fully, and then tighten their bonds; but thereafter set them free, either by an act of grace or against ransom, so that the burden of war may be lifted.” (Muhammad 47: 4) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) put the instructions contained in this verse in practice till the end of his life. Indeed, many scholars rule that it is forbidden to kill a captive of war. In his priceless book, Bidayat Al-Mujtahid, Ibn Rushd says: “A number of scholars say that it is not permissible to kill a captive. Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad At-Tamimi says that it is the unanimous view of the Prophet’s companions.” In his commentary on the Qur’an, Ibn Kathir states: “Scholars say that the Muslim ruler’s only choice is to set captives free, either as an act of grace or against ransom, but it is prohibited to kill a captive.” Al-Alousi says: “The apparent meaning of the Qur’anic verse is that it is forbidden to kill a person after taking him prisoner. This is the ruling expressed by Al-Hasan.”

On the basis of the previous points, we say that a captive can only be killed in exceptional circumstances, by an order of the head of the Muslim state made on the basis of a court sentence. The groups operating within armed resistance to the occupation of Iraq or elsewhere do not have the right to exercise the power of the head of a Muslim state. Moreover, killing captives is bound to have adverse effects on the resistance to the occupation, and give the cause of the Iraqi people and their struggle a negative image. We, therefore, denounce the killing of the Nepalese and other captives who did not take part in the fighting. If it were true that they provided service to the occupation forces, such service does not justify their death.

It is unlawful from the Islamic point of view to take enemy civilians as hostages and threaten to kill them in retaliation for any action committed or omitted by anyone else, when they are not responsible for such an action and are unable to prevent it. This applies to the case of the school in North Ossetia where school children and teachers were held hostage. This prohibition is based on two factors:

One of the basic principles of justice is that no one should be held accountable for someone else’s action or offence. This is a basic Islamic rule emphasized in several verses of the Qur’an, such as: “Whatever wrong any human being commits rests upon himself alone.” (Al-An`am 6: 164) “No one shall be made to bear the burden of another.” (Al-Israa’ 17: 15) “Whoever does what is just and right does so for his own good; and whoever does evil, does so to his own hurt.” (Fussilat 41: 46) “He who does evil shall be requited for it.” (An-Nisaa’ 4: 123) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has re-emphasized this in several traditions, such as: “Anyone who commits an offence will be the only one to bear its consequences.” (Reported by Ibn Majah) “No one shall bear responsibility for another’s crime.” (Reported by An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah) A number of statements by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) make clear that non-Muslims who have a treaty with Muslims must never be killed. One of these statements says:, “Whoever kills a man bound with a treaty, without a valid cause, shall never be allowed even the smell of heaven.” (Reported by An-Nasa’i)

At times of war, it may happen that some civilians are killed as a result of some operations, as in the case of a raid launched against an enemy concentration resulting in the death of some people nearby. Scholars say that this is acceptable provided that it is unintentional. But to deliberately kill civilians is certainly forbidden. How, then, can the murder of captives in cold blood be justified when enemy civilians are not to be targeted even in times of war?

It is contrary to Islamic ethics to sink to the uncivilized level of the occupation forces in Iraq, which has so far killed thousands of Iraqi civilians, including large numbers of women, children, and elderly people, under the pretext of fighting the resistance to their occupation. 

It is incumbent on all Muslims to observe the Islamic rules summarized above.  

Allah Almighty knows best

(18) Muslim Scholars Call for rejecting Sectarian Disagreement

 

“The differences between sects never justify dividing the Muslim nation into small nations,” Qaradawi said

 

Some prominent scholars in the Islamic world proposed to overcome disagreements and enhance the convergence of Islamic sects, especially in the light of current events and the dangers that make it incumbent upon Muslims to achieve unity so as to face these challenges. This was stated in the symposium of ‘The Second Islamic Unity’, which was concluded on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 under the title of ‘The Ways to Islamic Unity and the Methods of Convergence’. The slogan of the symposium that was held in Damascus was, “Truly! This, your nation, is one; and I am your Lord, therefore worship Me (Alone). “

In his speech to the symposium, the prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and the head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, stated, “Muslims should not listen to invitations that separate the Islamic nation through various claims, especially those that emphasize the reality of Sunnah and Shi`ah.” “The difference in sects never justifies dividing the Muslim nation into small nations: the nation of Shi`ah and the nation of Sunnah,” he stressed.

He continued, “All of us believe in the same God; the One, the creed, the obligatory acts, the Books, the Messengers, and the Last Day and utter the same words of testimony: There is no god worthy to be worshiped but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Thus, simple disagreements should not separate the nation that greatly needs unity when adversity prevails and enemies have united against us. We need unity in these dangerous circumstances, as we face a military, political, and cultural battle.”

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi considered, “The unity of the Islamic nation is a necessary act and a religious duty, especially these days.” He quoted the Qur’anic verse that reads, “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves …”

“Worship does not become complete and piety does not enter the hearts except through the unity of the nation that the Almighty named ‘nation’ and not ‘nations’. The Muslim nation is a fact not a figment of imagination; it is a religious, historical, and geographical fact. Moreover, it is a political fact for the benefit of all Muslims,” he confirmed.

One of the speakers who inaugurated the symposium shocked many of the attendants when he opened fire on the trend of innovation and described those who adopt it as “trivial, ignorant, failing, and collaborators with the Americans.” His own point of view caused a great disturbance among the attendants.

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi condemned this attack saying, “Countries usually differ in ordinary situations; but, when the nation faces a great danger, it is required to abandon disagreements and face the enemy that lies in wait for them.”

“The world has converged, the European states have united for different purposes and the Protestants and Catholics agree after their fierce wars; while the Muslims disagree and fight each other even with weapons,” he stated.

Now Is the Time

 

The Syrian da`iyah, Sheikh Salah Kuftaru, delivers his speech before the symposium

 

In his speech before the symposium, the Syrian da`iyah, Sheikh Salah Kuftaru, remarked, “All of us are meeting today in spite of the different sects we long to that denote the easiness of our tolerant Shari`ah. Thus, it is obligatory to carefully study the reasons that led to this shameful result, which has caused weakness and humiliation to our Muslim nation.”

“In this age of challenges, the time has come to liberate ourselves from the chains of the past, which restrained thought and caused sedition,” he continued.

The IOL correspondent who covered the actions of the symposium said that the majority of the speeches that were delivered focused on calling for the unity of Muslims, bringing Islamic sects closer, and resolving disagreements in order to deal with the challenges that face our nation.

A host of the most prominent scholars in the Arab world took part in the symposium, such as Sheikh `Abdullah Nizham and Dr. Mohammad Salim Al-Awa, the secretary general of the IUMS.

Recommendations

After detailed and comprehensive discussions, the participants in the symposium approved some recommendations calling for intensifying efforts to converge Islamic sects through institutional action, which is based on studies and symposiums. These studies and symposiums should follow certain methodology and goals through a comprehensive plan implemented by some committees, and call for the unity of the nation.

The recommendations also called for spreading the culture of convergence through curricula and various educational institutions, while eliminating those aspects that contributed to the spread of wrong ideas and concepts.

Concerning the rejection of sectarian fanaticism, the recommendations called for encouraging the Fiqhi researches that unite and support mutual understanding, and to establish a satellite channel to broadcast awareness symposiums that focus on the unity of Muslims.

Source: The International Union for Muslim Scholars