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Old Wednesday, November 14, 2012
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Default Islamiat Current Issues Notes...

DOES ISLAM STAND FOR TERRORISM?
By
Nasir Karim

AFTER 9/11, Islam has been consciously, or unconsciously, equated and amalgamated with terrorism, war and violence. A vicious campaign against the Muslims has been let loose in western media and other means of publicity.

Ever since, my mind has been haunted by some fundamental, nonetheless intriguing questions such as:
  1. Does Islam really stand for terrorism, war and violence? Or Does it have an essential respect for democracy and democratic institutions?
  2. If Islam does accommodate democratic dispensation of the state and its institutions how come we do not have a single Islamic state that might be referred to as model?
  3. Is this the fault of Islam or of the Muslims?
  4. What measures can be recommended for the establishment of an operational (if not an ideal) democratic state in the Muslim world?

These and other questions have been nagging my mind and nerves for quite some years. This short paper, therefore, is devoted to a critical appraisal of these and similar other questions.

THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF A DEMOCRATIC STATE

TO BEGIN WITH, it may be emphasised that Islam does not stand for western brand of democracy where sovereignty lies with the people and a brute majority can sanctify even the most heinous and sinful of acts, such as unisex marriages, child–birth without law–full wed–lock, or condemnation of a layer of their own society to slavery; and recommends of death and destruction of any innocent nation. Logically speaking a day may come when even incest relations would be legalised in western democracies.

In Islam, contrary to that, establishment of a real democratic society is regulated by certain moral norms and ideals. Let us note and briefly examine these essentials:

• Islamic democratic system is regulated by certain moral norms underlined in the Holy Quran and the Sunnahof the Prophet (P.B.U.H.). These norms determine the basic parameters of human conduct. In other words, sovereignty lies with God, the Almighty, not with the people, as is the case with western democracy.

• Man, his dignity and his divinity are the cardinal principles of an Islamic state. No law is permissible to violate or militate the fundamental principle. The Quran has emphasised that God breathed His spirit in man. It means that man is not a sinful, depraved and detestable being. Instead, he is endowed with a divinely element, being the viceroy and trustee of God.

This divinely characteristic calls for respect and honor and is the source of all human rights. It means that if we disgrace and dishonor a man, we are guilty of disgracing and dishonoring the Godly element in his person.

Further it signifies that all human beings are at par with each other. Solely, because they are humans and the distinctions of colour, caste and creed are accidental in nature, serving as marks of identification, not sources of discrimination.

In brief Islam stands for universal humanism and universal equality. All human rights, it may be underscored, are founded on the same foundational principles—that is, the sanctity and the vicegerency of man to God. This principle hence should not be compromised.

• Islamic state is obliged to establish a just socio–moral order in this world. For, without justice man is an armed animal.

• Community is supposed to act as a watchdog over the state who are state’s functionaries and actively participate in affairs of state. People are to show allegiance to the rulers, so long, as they are committed to the administration of justice and fair play and follow the constitution, that is, the Quran and the Sunnah. If by chance they depart from justice and become oblivious of the injunctions of the sharia, community is supposed to straighten them out, even seek their replacement.

• State is to respect and protect the individual’s life and liberty, honor and dignity, property and privacy. The freedom of thought and expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of work for decent living, freedom of choice, freedom of movement within and outside the country, freedom of education and so on are guaranteed.

• Independent judiciary is the backbone of an Islamic state. It is the judiciary that protects individual from state’s power abuse and transgression. Likewise, it ensures operation of state’s governing institutions within their defined limits.

• Succession to power is open to the reflective abilities of the community. One thing is certain: succession is based on public consent. Rulers are forbidden to impose themselves against the will of the community and govern them according to people’s will. Rule through force and fraud is illegal in Islam.

• Treasury is a sacred trust of the people on one hand and of God on the other. The rulers cannot use these resources for bribing and buying loyalties of their people to stay in office.

• Defence of country is a sacred duty of the rulers. State should take all possible measures and probable means to defend its borders. In brief the rulers are supposed to reflect Godly attributes in their conduct and prepare their communities for the best of life here and hereafter. They must be kind, compassionate, just and fair in their dealings with fellow humans. That is a qualification for distinction on the Day of Judgment.


MUSLIMS ARE TO BLAME, NOT ISLAM

IN SPITE OF such clear teachings, one wonders as to why Muslims have failed to establish democracy and democratic institutions in their respective countries. It may be observed that there is a vital difference between the teachings of Islam and the conduct of the Muslims.

Obviously, Islam cannot be blamed for the conduct of the Muslims, especially, when their conduct is not reflective of Islamic values or Islamic world view. In any case, it has to be admitted that Muslims derailed their political process in the early stages of history. Leaving Islam to itself, Muslims turned to dictatorial and dynastic rule. Centuries of repressive rule weakened the will of the community to assume the watch–dog role. Likewise, judiciary, the backbone of the society, was broken up and the doctrine of necessity was contrived to legitimise dictatorship and autocracy.

Resultantly the priorities and liking of leaders have changed totally, who merely became self-seekers and self-centered instead of serving the state and society. This has really damaged the political process owing to which we are starved of farsighted, visionary leadership. Naturally, we are condemned to invent and reinvent the same wheel, time and again, and still we are entrapped in the vicious circle and are groping in darkness.

It may be emphasised that in the absence of astute and popular leadership, our national problems and issues are left unattended, thereby multiplies and compounds as we move on. These lingering problems breed frustration, resentment and intolerance. Many of these problems are caused by external interference. Sometimes, people turns to external forces and opt for militancy and violence. Obviously, this militancy cannot be dismissed without resolving the basic problems.

CONCLUSION

TO CONCLUDE, we may emphasize that Islam is the most liberal and pluralist religion. It does not allow conversion through coercion or compulsion—no other religion can match Islam on this count.

In Islam, there is no room for war and violence, except defensive war. The aim is not to conquer but protection and security. Islam champions liberation of the oppressed and manumission of the repressed.

Anyhow, there is much to be desired in the Muslim world. There is an urgent need of establishing democracy in the Muslim world. What is immediately needed is two–phased reformation process.

In the first phase, Islam should be resurrected and made intelligible to the elite and common man alike. In the second phase, we should make it relevant to our socio–political, religio-moral dimensions of life, allowing our institutions deriving inspiration from Islam.

To facilitate this process we urgently need establishment of academies to produce leaders able of rendering requisite services. It may be noted that we do have civil and military services training academies, but we do not have political services academies. We should therefore pay immediate attention to this deficiency.

The Immediate repercussions of this deficiency emerged in the shape of incompetent, sluggish and self-seeking leaders that lead us astray of the designated path, enjoined in the teachings of the Quran.

The requisite qualification of an honest leadership is: “[T]o prove to be the best you must reach for the help of oppressed. You must come up to the standard of being able to command, respect and enjoin civility, by force if necessary. . . . to sever humanity without any distinction whatsoever.” The last sermon of the Holy Prophet isa clear constitutional landmark. Accordingly:

“O people, your God is one and your father is also one. All of you are from Adam and Adam was created of clay. The best amongst you in the eyes of God is the one who is the most pious of you. Neither any Arab has got any preference over the non-Arab nor any non-Arab has got any preference over the Arab, except on account of Piety.”

So as, it becomes our moral and religious obligation to come up with best possible, upfront solutions to tackle the dilemma the Muslims face. Farsighted leadership is one way out. That can be achieved only with a solid platform, where everyone will be facilitated and trained in the service of the community and project Islam on the international stage in its true perspective. The natural offshoot of it will emerge in the shape of honourable and just solution of the multifaceted problems the Muslim Umma confronts at large.
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Old Thursday, November 15, 2012
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Islamic Shari‘ah and the Question of Minorities
By
Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi

Abstract

[Minorities are defined on different bases by different countries and societies, e.g. ethnic, religious or linguistic. In Muslim societies, the basis is primarily religious belief. A minority is not always oppressed and may sometimes be ruling over the majority. At times, a minority may be large enough to deserve further rights than those due to a small minority. These situations are not adequately covered in contemporary international law. Muslim scholars have classified non-Muslims living in Islamic societies into two categories: mu‘ahidin (those entering into a contract with the Muslim state) and ahl al-dhimma (protected or guaranteed citizens). The second category, being the result of Muslim conquest, a phenomenon of the past, no longer exists. Historically, such minorities have been treated very well in Muslim societies, having the same rights as Muslims in civil matters; in some cases, they even enjoyed a better status than the Muslims. Non-Muslims in Pakistan too have constitutionally guaranteed rights. Muslim minorities in non-Muslims societies do not always enjoy fair protection of their Islamic identity. Many unnecessary issues arise because of the misunderstanding that Muslim individuals living in non-Muslim societies are required to implement the same laws as Muslim states. ]

Introduction


This article is divided into four parts. The first part defines the concept of minority and outlines the need to discuss the rights, privileges and status of minorities. The second part describes the position of Islam on minorities or, more accurately, the position of Islam on issues now considered relevant to minorities. Part three looks at the situation of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries. Finally, the fourth part makes a brief reference to the status and position of minorities in Pakistan in particular and in the contemporary Muslim world in general.

(I)
What is the definition of a minority? Linguistically, any community that is distinct from the majority of the people living in a territory is a minority. However, in a discussion of the jurisprudence, constitution, or rights and privileges of minorities, a further elaboration is necessary: in what way does a community need to be distinct to be considered a minority? For example, a society may include a small group of bearded people among mostly clean-shaven people, or vice versa, but such differences do not qualify the group to be considered a minority. Therefore, for the purposes of the discussion in this paper, the meaning assigned to the term ‘minority' by English lexicographers or linguists is not sufficient.

Importantly, even more fundamental sociological or political distinctions may not provide a valid basis for considering a group a minority: a group may be a political or sociological minority and yet not require a different set of rights and privileges or jurisprudence. This is partly because a minority in the political sense may not be - and normally is not - a permanent minority. Today's political minority may become tomorrow's majority, and such a temporary minority would not usually have to define and decide on its status and privileges as a minority, or settle questions of inter-communal relationship.

It is only in the limited context of international law that we find the definition of a minority that is relevant to a discussion of its rights and privileges. In this context, a minority may be defined as a group of people that differs from the dominant group within the state in matters essential to the formation and constitution of the state. In this sense, a majority is normally a permanent majority and a minority is mostly a permanent minority. The rights and privileges of such permanent minorities have become an important component of modern international law, and it is with respect to these that this paper attempts to outline rights and privileges under international jurisprudence and Islamic law.

The above working definition of minorities raises a basic question: what is essential to the formation of a state or for the constitution and formation of societies?

A society may be ethnic, giving primary significance to the ethnicity of its individuals and citizens. In such societies, the majority and minority would be determined on the basis of ethnicity. In South Africa's apartheid days, it was mostly, if not exclusively, the ethnicity of a person that decided whether he was to be treated as a minority or a majority member. On the other hand, in many countries in Europe, the Muslim world and many other parts of the world, different ethnic groups live together without anybody taking much notice of the ethnic background of a person. In fact, in all major Muslim and European countries, millions of people belonging to different ethnic backgrounds are living together without creating any apparent problem. There has been no significant difference of perceptions about the future status and the privileges of these groups. In most Muslim societies, difference in ethnicity or ethnic background has hardly ever led to any dispute involving minority or majority issues.
In other societies, linguistic difference provides one of the most important bases for distinguishing a majority from a minority. In others, the cultural affinity or otherwise of a people with each other labels them a minority or a majority.

In many Western countries, it is the cultural background, coupled with other factors, which mostly decides who is a majority and who a minority.

In most Muslim societies of the past, it was primarily the religious belief of a person that decided whether he belonged to the majority or to a minority. This remains true of Muslim countries even today. This is because society and state in Islam mainly draw their validity and legitimacy from their affiliation to Islam, which is primarily a religious message. Muslims seek guidance from the Qur'an, essentially a religious book which has come down to humanity through a religious source, namely, divine revelation. Therefore, the religious affiliation and religiousness of a person become as strong, important and relevant as, for example, ethnicity in Apartheid South Africa, or cultural affinity in some Western countries, or linguistic affiliation in some other countries.

The precise definition of majority and minority may, therefore, differ from country to country and from society to society. In Pakistan, around 97 percent of the population is Muslim. This group includes people from diverse ethnic backgrounds: many are descended from immigrants who came over centuries from Arabia, Iran and Central Asia; these live side by side with Muslim descendants of the local people who converted from Hinduism. In the distant past, large groups of people also migrated from Eastern Europe to the sub-continent. Many of these groups still retain their ethnic identities and references. Yet, they are never referred to as belonging to a minority or a majority. This example should substantiate and support the submission that the question of the basis of majority and minority should be decided differently in different contexts.

This, to some extent, has now been acknowledged in the relevant documents of the United Nations. These documents in particular, and the works of contemporary publicists on international law in general, have referred to the rights and privileges of a minority against the predominance of a hostile or unfriendly majority. Although these documents have seldom attempted to formally and exclusively define a minority in legal and constitutional terms, the manner in which they have dealt with issues, and the tendency they have shown in protecting the rights and privileges of minorities has, to a large extent, clarified the underlying concept.

In this context, we may refer to the documents related to human rights adopted by different bodies of the United Nations, documents dealing with the elimination of discrimination on different grounds, elimination and prohibition of genocide, and other similar subjects. In all these documents, a reference to a minority normally includes a minority ethnically, rationally or religiously distinct from the majority of its area. In the UN Convention of Civil and Political Rights, Article 27 is relevant and important. It quite elaborately defines a minority, and confines it to ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. Thus, it comes closer to the views of Muslim jurists, who give more weight to the religious beliefs of individuals in this matter.

Despite their precision and the clarity of ideas in the minds of their authors, however, these documents have failed to discuss the situation where a minority, far from needing protection in a society, might in fact be ruling it, in which case the interests of the majority might be more at risk. There have been such situations in the past, as there are now. The most conspicuous and obvious example is that of South Africa, where four million white people ruled over 32 million black people, as well as perhaps 2-3 million others, for more than three centuries. One should not ignore or downplay the question whether the documents dealing with the rights of minorities are applicable to persecuted majorities in contexts similar to South Africa. There are countries in Africa, and may be elsewhere, where different kinds of minorities are ruling over the majorities. However, the above-mentioned literature is silent on this issue, or appears to be practically irrelevant to the persecuted millions constituting majorities. This issue is an important lacuna and a significant oversight on the part of the framers of such documents.

Another weakness - one might call it another loop-hole - in the current documents on the rights of minorities pertains to how small a minority needs to be to qualify for the protection envisaged. Many feel that these documents contemplate only the situation where a minority is so small and has such limited resources that affirmative action, external moral and legal support, is required to protect it and its rights and privileges; their provisions and references are ineffective and inadequate for the situation where a group, while being a numerical and comparative minority, is sizeable enough to be bigger than the population of dozens of countries put together. This is felt by many Muslims in the subcontinent. The number of Muslims in India, according to various estimations, is 150 million to 250 million. As such a colossal minority, their expectations and interests may not be fully addressed in the reference made in different documents to minorities. Indeed, Indian Muslims are almost a separate and distinct nation in the sense that the term has been used in international discourses and documents. Nevertheless, they are citizens of a country where the predominant population is different from them, not only in terms of ethnicity and, in many cases, language, but also in basic religious beliefs. This is an important aspect of the contemporary discussions on minorities.

Issues about minorities may be taken up at two different levels: the national and the international. A national minority may be defined as a group of citizens who constitute a minority and whose rights and privileges are protected, or at least supposed to have been protected, by the domestic law of their country. An international minority would be a group or community whose rights and privileges are to be guaranteed through international instruments. Undoubtedly, there are, or might be in future, areas that need to be protected by international instruments framed by international bodies under international law. Yet there remain a lot of other problems and issues to be dealt with by the national documents and domestic legislation. The resolution of possible conflict between the requirements of these two kinds of documents is an important issue that has agitated the minds and engaged the attention of scholars and jurists.

Interestingly, Muslim scholars have addressed the question of minorities and other relevant issues on both levels: the level of municipal legislation, dealing with the rights of the other group, as well as the level of the international law of Islam (Siyar), which deals with the rights and privileges or non-Muslims living in the Islamic State.

(II)
Before taking up the Muslim point of view on the question of minorities, pluralism, as understood, formulated and practised in the history of Islam, needs to be understood. The Islamic legal system, as domestically enforced and as followed by Muslim rulers for their international dealings for more than one thousand years, was a pluralistic system. It successfully accommodated different and conflicting views, varying cultures and people of different backgrounds under one system that equally addressed the needs and requirements of these different groups.

Sometimes, non-Muslim observers from outside the Muslim world find it difficult to understand the Islamic position and to distinguish Islam as a religion and a set of moral principles from Islam as a social code, Islam as a legal system, Islam as a cultural paradigm and Islam as a civilization. These are different levels of implementation of, and manifestations of adherence to, the Islamic guidance and the law of the Shariah. There is an in-built balance in the requirements of these levels and manifestations: a harmony has, by and large, been maintained in order to keep balance between the push and pull of these different requirements.

The Islamic pluralism, if the term can be used, has been developed by Muslim jurists directly under the guidance of the Qur'an and on the basis of the model example established by the Prophet of Islam (PBUH). The Qur'an does not address a particular ethnic or linguistic group of people or a particular tribe or society. It addresses itself either to mankind at large - the Children of Adam - or to specific people with reference to their religious beliefs. There is no address in the Qur'an to any groups of people invoking their ethnic or linguistic, color or any other affiliation. This highlights the Qur'an's emphasis on the unity of mankind and, at the same time, acknowledges that distinctions can only be made between people on the basis of matters that they choose through their own free and conscious decision-making, specifically, ideology or religious belief. Ethnicity, linguistic difference and race are not chosen by a person through any conscious or free choice; they are only accidental or dictates of nature, and therefore individuals should not be discriminated on this basis.

The religious pluralism as reflected in Qur'anic references can be reviewed from two perspectives: the theoretical reference made in the Qur'an, and the historical practice of Muslim societies. The Qur'an invites the "People of the Book" (the children of Israel and Christians) particularly to come to the common ground for all divine religions and thereby advance their common cause and serve humanity. This Qur'anic call provides the ultimate basis for a lasting religious pluralism.

The performance of Muslim rulers in different ages of history, despite many failings in other areas, has been exemplary as far as treatment of non-Muslim co-citizens is concerned. It is acknowledged by Jewish historians and Western scholars that the best periods of Jewish history, after the fall of their kingdom, was when they lived in Muslim lands. In Muslim Spain, they enjoyed all the freedom, respect and dignity that should be available to every human being. The status given to non-Muslims by the Abbasids, and the status given to the Hindus by the Moguls and other Muslim monarchs before them provide examples of the nature of treatment historically meted out to non-Muslims by Muslim societies.

It may be pointed here that the term "minority" was never used by Muslim jurists before the twentieth century. There is hardly any explanation as to why this term has not been used in the formidable plethora of material on fiqh. It is not found in historical or legal literature. It is not found in literature produced by Muslim theologians and writers on political thought. However, the rights and privileges of non-Muslims living in an Islamic society are dealt with in elaborate detail, and with a fuller discussion as one expects from the width and profundity of their work. This is perhaps because, to the Muslim mind, it is not the numbers of people but their humanity and human quality that are significant. Every person with whom one is dealing is a human being; his dignity should be protected and he should be respected as a human being irrespective of the numbers he represents. Being similar to the larger number of people does not add to his human quality, nor does being dissimilar reduce it.

This primacy of humanity is supported by the example of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) in his treatment of non-Muslims in Madina. Once, the Prophet (PBUH) saw that the body of a Jew, who had been his enemy, was being carried by his people to the graveyard. He immediately stood up in reverence to the body, paying homage and respect to a human being. Somebody reminded the Prophet (PBUH) confidentially and secretly that this was the body of such-and-such Jew (i.e. an enemy). But the Prophet (PBUH) responded, with a raised voice, "Alaisat-nafsan?"-"Is it not a human soul?" He clearly indicated that a person deserves respect and enjoys rights as a human being, irrespective of his or her religion, creed, culture, or ethnicity.

Whatever has been done by the Prophet (PBUH) or his immediate successors or Companions as a whole is part of the shari'a and hence a source of Islamic Law. The conduct of the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions with respect to non-Muslims living in the Islamic realm became important sources of law and have been the basis on which the private International law of Islam was developed.

There have been non-Muslims living in Muslim societies from the very beginning. Indeed, there is no period in Islamic history in which non-Muslims have not lived alongside Muslim majorities as co-citizens. Muslim scholars have classified them into two categories:
  1. Mu‘ahidin, or parties to a contract; and
  2. Ahl al-dhimma, protected or guaranteed citizens.

The first term, mu‘ahidin, referred to those non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic state who had entered into a special contract or treaty with the Muslim government. It was on the basis of this treaty or contract that they had accepted the citizenship of the Islamic state. For example, when the Prophet (PBUH) migrated to Madina at the invitation of the city's new Muslims and established a city-state in Madina, he entered into an understanding with the Jews of Madina. A document was chalked out in consultation with the local chiefs in which the rights and privileges of all the tribal groups, the Jews, the local inhabitants of Madina and the migrants from Makka were laid down. This charter has been considered by some contemporary scholars to be the first written constitution in the history of mankind. This document has come down to us and is available in English, French, German, Urdu and Turkish translation.

Mu‘ahidin, then, are the groups of non-Muslims whose rights and privileges are determined in the light of the agreement and contract entered with them, in addition to the rights and privileges given by the Qur'an or by the Prophet of Islam (PBUH). We can say that the present non-Muslim populations found in almost all major Muslim countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and others, fall under this category. Their rights and privileges are determined in the light of the dictates of the Qur'an and Sunnah as well as the provisions of the contract, treaty or agreement entered between their communities and the respective Muslim government. This arrangement is reflected in the constitutions of these countries, the statements and pronouncements made by their respective leaders, and other relevant documents.

The second category of non-Muslim co-citizens has sometimes been misunderstood by superficial readers, and at times misinterpreted by writers. This includes those non-Muslims who become citizens of an Islamic state as a result of their defeat in a war and the resultant Muslim conquest. This category existed only in the past. Presently, there is no area or territory that has been annexed to any contemporary Islamic state as a result of defeat of the non-Muslim population in a war.

However, even though this category no longer exists, it is educative to consider the significance of the term used by the Qur'an and the Prophet (PBUH) for it. Ahl al-dhimma may be translated into English as "guaranteed citizens," i.e. citizens whose protection and whose defence is to be guaranteed by the Muslims, the citizenry as well as the state. This guarantee is to be issued on behalf of Allah and His Messenger.

The Prophet (PBUH) was extremely sensitive about fulfilling this commitment or pledge as extended to non-Muslims. This commitment is considered to have been made, not by individuals or rulers, but the Qur'an and by the model examples of the Prophet (PBUH).

There are several examples of Muslims entering into contracts or agreements with non-Muslims. Although all such contracts have normative value, two are highly significant and have been the subject of long discussions amongst Muslim jurists. One is the Charter of Madina, mentioned above, and the other is the agreement prepared by the Prophet (PBUH) in relation to the people of Najran, a province with a sizeable Christian population that was situated near the southwestern border of Saudi Arabia and present-day Yemen. In this contract or charter, the Prophet (PBUH) guaranteed basic freedoms to the non-Muslim tribes of Najran, undertaking that: (i) Whatever their earlier habits or practices had been, they would never be changed; (ii) Whatever their rights and privileges, these would never be subject to change; and (iii) Their religious matters would continue to be run as they were.

This document, which is not very long, has also come down to us and is available in English, French, Urdu and Turkish translations. Along with other similar instruments, including those prepared by the immediate successors of the Prophet (PBUH), it provides the basis for the resolution of conflicts of laws as conceived by Muslim jurists, who later developed the principles of what may be termed as the private international law of Islam.

A dictum phrased by the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib has already been quoted. He has been reported by some of the leading jurists of Islam to have said that the rights and obligations of non-Muslim co-citizens are similar to the Muslims' own rights and obligations.

There has been a general principle, which has enjoys unanimity amongst the Muslim jurists, that a privilege or a right once granted to a non-Muslim can never be withdrawn or changed to his disadvantage. A state can change a constitution; it can change its law. It can even modify the Islamic laws based on ijtihād or the exercise of independent judgment. But once a privilege is guaranteed to a non-Muslim, it cannot be withdrawn. There are examples in Muslim history where a privilege was conceded to a non-Muslim and it continued to be preserved and protected by Muslim rulers for six or seven centuries.

A recent authority on Muslim international law has compared the status of Muslim citizens of the Islamic State with that of non-Muslims. He has concluded that, in several respects, non-Muslims are better off than their Muslim compatriots. For example, zakat is compulsory and has to be paid by Muslims in all situations. Under no situation can this be exempted or relaxed. However, a non-Muslim, who does not pay zakat, can always be exempted from the payment of jizya, a tax parallel to zakat that is to be paid by non-Muslims. Likewise, a Muslim cannot be exempted if compulsory conscription or military training is undertaken in any Islamic state; however, a non-Muslim is exempted, although he is welcome to participate voluntarily.

Another privilege granted by the Prophet (PBUH) to some non-Muslim tribes is also significant. They were assured that no Muslim would be appointed to head them or to lead them if they felt that their own people should be appointed as state representatives to administer their matters. Such a right was granted through agreements. A similar privilege was given by the Prophet (PBUH) to a tribe living in present-day Taif. After the conquest of Makka, Taif became a part of the Muslim territory. Even then this privilege was allowed.

The personal law of non-Muslims has always been protected by the Islamic state. This right is recognized even in those matters where Islamic law does not approve a practice as valid or morally justified. For example, some of the non-Muslims observed habits and practices that are not only prohibited in Islam, but may be repugnant to most human societies. One such example is the practice of satti, which was the practice of the Hindus since before Muslim rule in India, and which is still followed in some parts of the country today. According to this religious practice, if a husband dies leaving a widow, the better recourse for her is to burn herself alive rather than continue to survive him. During Muslim rule in India, although Muslim scholars and jurists tried to persuade the Hindus to abandon this practice, the Muslim government never intervened and never prevented it by law or force.

Likewise, when the areas of present day Iran became part of the Islamic caliphate, there were many people who saw no harm in incestuous practices and who permitted marriage within degrees of relationship that are prohibited in Islam and in many other divine religions. However, the Muslim rulers did not interfere with this practice and the non-Muslim Iranians continued to observe it. It is believed that, among the very small minority of fire-worshippers in Iran, this practice persists even today. Even smaller minorities of this community are found in Pakistan and India today. However, this practice has never been interfered with by Muslim rulers. This shows the extent to which the personal law of non-Muslims is recognized in different Muslim countries.

The status of a non-Muslim in a Muslim society has been summed up by a Muslim jurist in the following words: "Non-Muslims are like Muslims as far as the civil matters and the dealings of this world are concerned." Thus, whatever is allowed to a Muslim with respect to his property and wealth is allowed to a non-Muslim; whatever is not allowed to a Muslim in this respect is not allowed to a non-Muslim either.

If we compare the Islamic tradition of tolerance and accommodation with the practice being meted out to Muslims in different ‘civilized' countries in respect of their personal law, we find a world of difference. It is painful to observe that the personal law of Islam is denied to Muslims in many modern and ‘democratic' countries. In some countries, there are constitutional provisions that do not allow Muslims to organize their personal matters, marriages, and other familial matters in accordance with the teachings of the Qur'an. The treatment of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries is discussed in more detail in the following section.
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Islamic Shari‘ah and the Question of Minorities
(Remaining Part)

(III)
Today, the population of Muslims living in a non-Muslim environment is growing. Of the approximately 1,400 million Muslims in the world, 35-40 percent live outside the Muslim world. This is not a new phenomenon. There have been Muslim minorities living in different non-Muslim countries from the very beginning. One of the earliest examples is that of Ethiopia. As is known to students of sīra (life of Prophet Muhammad pbuh) during the early years of Islam, when the Muslims of Makka were being severely persecuted, the Prophet (PBUH) advised those of his followers who were worst afflicted to migrate to Ethiopia. He told them that the country was ruled by a pious ruler in whose realm they would not be wronged because nobody was wronged there. Upon this advice, a number of companions migrated to and settled in Ethiopia.

The Prophet (PBUH) had also advised these followers to eschew any hostilities with the Ethiopians (or "habashis"). His instruction, reported by several compilers of the Hadith, was: "Leave alone Ethiopians as long as they leave you alone." This meant they were to adopt a neutral policy towards the Ethiopians, never interfere in their matters, never attack them, and never enter into any hostile relationship with them.

These migrants lived peacefully in Ethiopia and their descendants are found there today, even though Ethiopia has never been a part of the Muslim world or of any Islamic state, and is not an Islamic state.

The advice of the Prophet (PBUH) was honored not only by the immigrants but by Muslim rulers in the region, and continues to be honored even today. We do not find any example in the entire Muslim history where any ruler from Egypt, Sudan or from other adjoining countries has entered into any kind of hostility with the rulers of Ethiopia, despite several instances where Muslims have been bitterly persecuted there, such as in the days of Helaslasi.

The Muslim minorities can be divided into three categories:

(i) Muslim minorities that represent earlier Muslim kingdoms and free regions which were later either occupied or annexed by neighboring non-Muslim powers. The Muslims in South Philippines (Mindanao) once had their own kingdom. They were later annexed by a neighboring non-Muslim power. The Muslims in India and in some regions of Eastern Europe are similar examples of Muslim populations that were subjected to various non-Muslim rules during the course of history. Such Muslim minorities are numerically the largest.

This is the first category of Muslim minorities. This is perhaps the most problematic category of Muslim minorities. The main problem faced by these Muslims is the preservation of their Islamic identity. They see themselves not as minorities but as distinct nations, and feel that their ultimate destiny should be decided on the basis of this fact. The ultimate solution to the problem remains to be seen.

(ii) The second category of Muslims minorities includes immigrants who went to non-Muslim countries, mostly in Europe and North America, for economic attractions or other reasons and stayed behind. A large number of such immigrants were once students pursuing higher studies in these countries who did not return to their respective countries. They now constitute a large proportion of Muslim minorities and number in millions.

This category of Muslim minorities is mostly docile, submissive and peaceful. By and large, these Muslims have not created any difficulty or problem for their host countries.

(iii) The third category is that of new Muslim converts who have accepted Islam in different parts of the world. Their main problem is the acquisition and preservation of an Islamic identity. Educating and raising their children in accordance with Islamic norms and traditions poses the most formidable challenge to them. In many cases, the Islamic identity has been denied to them. In some cases, this identity is not formally denied to them, but the environment makes it difficult for them to achieve and maintain it.

An important issue confronting Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries is the misunderstanding that they are bound to implement the shari‘a in exactly the same way in their lives as Muslims living in Muslim countries. This misunderstanding, which imposes an unnecessary conflict between the shari‘a and the norms and laws of the host country, is created by some less educated or overenthusiastic Islamic activists as well as some non-Muslims observers who are not fully aware of the demands of Islam from various categories of its followers.

In fact, the demand of Islam from an individual living in a Muslim society is different from that of an individual living in a non-Muslim environment. Likewise, the extent to which Muslims have political freedom and independence in their own government also determines the precise obligations posed on them by Islam.

Clearly, if the demands of different contexts and situations were mixed up and everybody had to follow precisely the same code, confusion and difficulty would ensue. The idea that Islamic demands can change with altered conditions does not represent a compromise but is rooted in certain principles evident from the Qur'an itself. There are certain instructions given in the Qur'an that require Muslims to do things under certain preconditions: if the preconditions are present, the requirement is valid; if the pre-conditions are not present, the requirement does not apply. For example, if a person maintains a certain amount of saving for a full year, he is under obligation to pay the zakat - an obligatory tax - on it at 2.5 percent. Now, zakat is one of the key pillars of Islam, and is to be recognized as such by every Muslim. However, it is to be practiced only by those who meet the precondition outlined above. Thus, if a Muslim is poor and has not maintained savings free of all needs and encumbrances for a year, the obligation of zakat is not applicable to him. This exemption does not mean that the requirement of Islam has changed or an Islamic principle has been compromised. Simply, since the precondition is not present, the individual is not liable to meet the obligation.

In the same manner, the Almighty has directed that Muslims perform certain duties "if We give the believers authority in the land." Thus, having governing authority is a precondition for these duties. A Muslim minority would not be required to implement some of the Islamic instructions being applied in Madina. In Madina, the penal code of Islam was applied. But implementing this code was never required of the Ethiopian Muslim minority during the days of the Prophet (PBUH), or the tiny Indian Muslim minority during the days of the second Caliph, or the Spanish Muslim Community during the days of the third Caliph. This clearly shows that the requirements posed by Islam vary with the situation and context, and that in some respects different rules apply to Muslims living in non-Muslim countries from Muslims in Muslim lands.

Moreover, there are rules in Islamic law and principles of Islamic jurisprudence to be implemented only by the imam or the Muslim state and Muslim government. These rules and principles constitute an important part of the Shari'ah and are not required to be implemented by the individual. This distinction has to be made known to young Muslim men and women living in non-Muslim environments. It needs to be emphasized that individuals are under an obligation to perform only those duties and functions that are required to be implemented by the individual. This point also has to be taught to the uneducated as well as to those non-Muslim well-wishers and observers who are not fully aware of the requirements of Islam.

It is a matter of concern in Europe and the United States today that Muslims living there might start implementing the hudood laws; what would be the solution then? The answer is simply that the Qur'an does not require of Muslims in the United States, or for that matter in any other non-Muslim environment, to implement the hudood because individuals are not required to implement the penal code of Islam. This is a requirement of the Muslim state. Only men in authority have the obligation to implement such laws. Indeed, Hudood laws and other penal requirements are never to be implemented by individuals, whether they live in a Muslim country or in a non-Muslim environment.`

Thus, many of the difficulties faced by Muslim minorities and their non-Muslim hosts are due to confusion and misunderstanding regarding which Islamic requirements apply to the Muslim individuals living in a non-Muslim environment. Understanding that many of the Islamic requirements depend on the context and situation of the individual can help alleviate such issues.

(IV)

Non-Muslims in Pakistan have been living peacefully without facing any difficulty or problem at the social or political level. They have been given rights and guarantees that are protected in the Constitution of Pakistan. The founder of the country, the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, repeatedly assured the non-Muslims in Pakistan, and is on record to have said, that they would have equal rights and privileges as their Muslim co-citizens as granted to them by the shari‘a. This assurance was in conformity with the above-cited Islamic principle expressed by the fourth caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Both before the creation of Pakistan and immediately afterwards, the Quaid assured non-Muslims that they would have full freedom of worship and could continue to practice their religions as before. They were to be as independent and equal as the rest of the citizens of Pakistan. In his address to the first Constitutional Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, he said: "You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques, you are free to go to any place of worship. There will be no discrimination on the basis of religion. In Pakistan all citizens will be alike and there will be no differentiation on the basis of religion as far as citizenship is concerned and their rights and privileges as Pakistanis are concerned."

A few days after making this statement, the Quaid called a press conference in which he further clarified this commitment because this part of his statement before the Assembly had been misquoted several times; in fact, it has since then often been quoted out of context. The Quaid had himself realized and anticipated that this part of his statement might be misunderstood. Therefore, he explained his statement by reiterating that non-Muslims of Pakistan would have those rights that had been given to them by Islam. They would be equally treated and their rights and privileges will be fully guaranteed.

Soon after the Quaid's demise, the founding fathers of this country, the members of the First Constituent Assembly, adopted a resolution known as the "Objectives Resolution." The Objectives Resolution is one of the most important documents in Muslim constitutional history in the twentieth century. It combines, for the first time, the dictates of Islam and the principles of Islamic constitutional theory, the basic elements of Islamic political philosophy, and the dictates and requirements of the modern democratic representative system. All of these have been equitably integrated and beautifully interwoven into each other. This important document has been adopted in all constitutional drafts in Pakistan and now constitutes an operative part of the Constitution of Pakistan through Article 2-A. About minorities, it says that they shall have full freedom to practice their religion, to promote their culture, to promote their languages and to exercise all such rights as are available to other citizens.

This was the first constitutional guarantee given to the minorities in Pakistan. Further guarantees are provided in the constitution, which deals with fundamental rights, clearly says that these rights will be guaranteed to each and every citizen, irrespective of cast, creed and culture.

Then, Part 12 of the constitution, where Islamic provisions have been made, and where it has been said that all laws shall be brought into conformity with the Qur'an and Sunnah and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to the Qur'an and Sunnah, it has been said that this provision will not have effect on the status and privileges of the non-Muslims and their personal status as citizens of Pakistan. This provision has been added even to Article 227 of the constitution where the constitutional commitment to enforce Islamic laws has been made.

Therefore, the minorities in Pakistan, among whom the Christians constitute the largest, followed by the Hindus, have always enjoyed freedom, respect and privilege in the country. A Christian jurist rose to the highest judicial office in the country, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and remains a most widely respected figure in the history of the country's superior courts.

Likewise, one of the justices of the present Supreme Court is a Hindu, who is one of the most widely respected and honored judges in the history of the Supreme Court.

There have been many other non-Muslim judges in Pakistan as well who have enjoyed the highest respect because of their competence and also because of their upright and principled stance on different issues.
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Role of Morality in Islamic Legislation
By
Umi-Salma

Abstract
Legislation is the subject of philosophers and metaphysicians,and in the field of law, perhaps for the meta- lawyers, and meta-jurists, a species of extremerarity. I am conscious that lot of classical literature has been written on the subject of Islamic legislation and concept of justice in relation to morality. As a student of Islamic studies I have preferred to highlight the Divine law and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him through his mission altered the state of those unlettered ones to whom he was sent, his manner of reforming their conditions under the topic of legislation, facilitation, and ruling of religion. They used to accept the mission of the prophet and Sovereignty of Almighty Allah in all aspects of Islamic values and presented the best moral character to the world.

The emergence of alternative institutions implies not the acceptance but a challenge to the Western society. Rather than attempting to switch the Muslim world to its norms, the West should study Islam and its ruling system to promote intellectual discourse so as to understand each other better, and to hold together a just, humane world order. This paper examines the legal and moral hypothesis of those unlettered ones (ummiyens) and a brief analysis is investigated with the aim to focus on Divine Law and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessing of God be upon him in the framework of Islamic values within the structure of law and morality. It also highlights the influential role in legislation, facilitation and the rulings of the religion. There is a certain amount of overlap between law and morality as often law gives expression to the accepted norms of morality within the society, even if it does not directly legislate for it.

In the history of Muslim law Islamic legislation is based on four sources, Kitab ul Allah)Divine Law, (Sunnah) Hadith literature (traditions)Ijma(consensus) Qiyas (analogical deductions) all that inculcate into Sharia.Prior to the full revelations of the Quranic injunctions, the Prophet of Islam followed the Sunnah of the earlier Prophets of God Almighty. As such they too constitute an essential source of Islamic Legislation and are in the some cases woven into the text of the Quran & Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). In Islam ultimate legal and constitutional sovereignty rests with none but Allah as Al Faruqi points out thatummah is not a legislative assembly. It does not make the law nor is the law an expression of the general will of people. The law is divine as it comes from God. As such, it is supreme. Sharia defines the Shurawith Ijma(consensus) Qiyas (analogical deductions) as the Islamic decision-making model. In Islam, law and morality both are part of the body of Shari'ah, with morality having an important place in maintaining the integrity of society. There is no inhibition for legislating morality to the extent that even whatcould be termed private morality is subject to law and is enforceable. This is because the danger of immorality in eroding the fabric of society and the need for adhering to a shared morality is well recognised.

As in the classical literature Shah Wali Ullah inHujjat ul Allah al-Baligha explained that “If you want to know the method of divine legislation, and then study the case of a skilful doctor when he strives to treat the sick. He informs them of what they don’t know and orders them to do things whose fine points theydo not understand. See how he takes physical symptoms and then traces them to hidden things such as associating red skin and loss of blood from the gums with an excess of blood. Afterwards how he considers the strength of the sick person his age, city, weather and after diagnosing he suggests the potency of medicine and all other factors. Thus he intuits the specific quantity of medicine which will be suitable for condition and then scribes it. Sometimes he formulates a general principle due to establishing anticipated source of cause, in short Shah Wali Ullah concludes that Allah, may He be exalted, wanted through the mission of the prophets to, “bring the people out of the darkness into light”. He therefore revealed to them his command and cast His light into them and inspired them with the desire to reform the world.

Before the dawn of Islam, Arabia was the land of antagonistic tribes, always busy in fighting and bloodshed. Due to their inter-tribal conflicts and disunity they had become an easy prey to economic and political exploitation of the contemporary great powers, the Persians and Romans. It was the dawn of Islam that removes the oppression to the weaker and knit them together strongly in the bonds of brotherhood and made them an irresistible force. Their arms soon held the sway over the three continents and within a short span of three decades made them masters of one third of the known world. Islam has brought about a complete re-orientation in their attitude towards life and made tent-dwellers of the desert a cultured and civilized people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent withHanif religion of Ismael to straighten their crookedness and bring their distortion to an end, and to spread their light and this is His, may He be exalted saying “the religion (millat) of your father Ibraheem. (Al-Quran 22: 78) The Children ofIsmael had inherited the codes of their father Ismael, and remained following that divine law until the time of ‘Amr ibn Luhayy’for the interpolated things into it according to his worthless opinion. He was considered to be the founder of polytheism in Arabia who changed theIbrahamicreligion by introducing idols. It is said that he set animals free in their honour and this practice is denounced in Quran(5:103) so the religion was thereby falsified and the sound was mixed with the corrupt and ignorance, polytheism and unbelief overcome. Therefore God sent the Prophet Muhammad (PBHU) to straighten their deviations and to reform their corruptions. He (PBUH) examined their divine law and whatever in it agreed with the codes from rituals of God, he retained. Whatever in it was distorted or corrupted or adopted the emblems of polytheism and unbelief he nullified and recorded itsnullification. When something happen under their cultural behaviour and so on, he explained its proper manners and reprehensible aspects in such a way as to avoid the disasters of conventions, and he forbade the corrupt customs and commanded the sound ones. The unlettered people of Jahiliyya at the time of the Prophet may the peace and blessing of God upon him, used to accept the possibility of the mission of the prophets, belief in requital, believed in principles of the types of piety, and put into practice. The teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) inspired the heart of his followers with a feel for knowledge and createda new sense of civility, culture, justice, piety, tolerance and brotherhood into a savage race which is an essential pre-requisite for cultural development of society. Culture is the off-spring of many factors; human potential, creative consciousness, intellectual and spiritual vitality, real achievement of progress, and freedom among others.

The most important aspect of the Islamic value is peace as the word “Islam” inter alia means peace.In Arabic the word ‘peace’ is derived from Semitic stem and Hebrew word ‘Shalom’ in Arabicsalam, stands for peace and submission to God. “Considering the world as it is constituted today, there is no potentweapon to wage reconciliation than to fall back upon that age-old institution of mankind namely, religion, which even today, as Macaulay remarked, is capable of serving as last restraint on earthly power and last solace of earthly misery. Our present predicament is due to the fact that we have discarded religion and pushed out God’s consciousness from ourselves. If we aspire for reformation we have to reinstate our faith in God and in this behalf the responsibility of the Muslims are great, as they are peace-loving people”. Islam alone is amongst major religions that strive for eradication of mischief and violence. It seeks to establish universal peace and to assure security to all peace-loving people. Christianity claims to be the most peace loving religion, which favours the policy of non-resistance to evil. The New
Testament tells us that the proper answerto an act of violence is an act of love.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, that Ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right check, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take awaythy coat, let him have thy cloak also”

Certainly to do good in return for bad is said to be the best way to fight evil. No doubt, these are noble sentiments and in the personal lives of individuals may be praiseworthy. They do hold good in rare instances only, but these precepts as a universal code of conduct cannot be possible for mankind. The history of Christianity too negates their authenticity. Dean Inge’s comment on it deserves consideration. He says:

“The principle of non-resistance was laid down for a little flock in la hostile environment. But an organized security cannot abstain from the use of coercion. No one would suggest that a Christian Government must not suppress a gang of criminals within its own borders. Augustine held that was justified in repelling wanton and rapacious attacks and that in preventing such crimes we are acting in the true interest of the aggressor”

The Holy Quran describes the problems of life in a realistic manner and offers practical solutions for them. Like the New Testament, it admonishes us to do good in return for evil, for such actions are likely to have a wholesome effect on the evil-order.” Return a bad act by one that is beautiful and good. It may be, that he between whom and you there is enmity, becomes your friend”. (41:34) In another place, amu’minis described as “One who repels wrong with right”. However, those who are unjust and cruel to their fellow-beings are denounced by the Quran such men deserve punishment.

Islam declares the whole of humanity with its diverse races, is originally one, deriving its very existence from one creator. All mankind are from one stock, they must respect God and the ties of blood relationship “O Ye mankind! Reverence your Lord who made you from a single being. And from that being He made its mate, from the twain He caused to spread many men and many women, And Reverence God”. Islam always focuses on brotherly feelings among the followers of all prophets. “The Messenger (Muhammad) believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (So do) the believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His Angels, and His Scriptures and His Messengers.” Islam teaches us to live peacefully with each other.
Mankind cooperate with and help each other in the cause of justice, as is the sublime duty of Muslims. The Quran says: Help one another in goodness and piety and do not helpanother in sin and aggression. Justice in Islam seeks to attain a higher standard i.e. Absolute Justice and Fairness as suggested by the ‘Meezan’ or Balance. In Islamic concept of justice is far superior to the remedial justice of the Romans or of the Anglo-Saxons. The Quran Says: “We sent a foretimes our Apostles with clear signs and send down the Balance, that men may stand forth in justice. “Be strict in observing justice and be witness for Allah, even though it be against yourself or against your parent or kindered.

“Whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of mankind”.


One of the most distinctive features of Islam is Tolerance. A mere reference to humiliating terms of the Treaty ofHudaibiya,the Charter granted by the Holy Prophet to the monks of the monastery of St. Catherine near Mount Sinai, and his treatment of the Qureshon the day of the Victory of Mecca, bear ample testimony to the toleration in Islam. Dr. S.Inayatullah has provided historical data in this context: He Says: “The tolerance and protection which Christians and Jews enjoyed under the Muslim rule as ‘Dhimmisenabled them to make valuable the Islamic intellectual and cultural life with which they were surrounded. “For instance, the translation of Greek works into Arabic was done mostly by Syrian Christians. The heathens of Harran contributed in no small degree to the diffusion of Greek science as Philosophy. The Jews contributed immensely in the financial field, and they were sometimes entrusted with responsible positions in the government”. Due to catholic attitude of the Arabs, their civilization became cosmopolitan in character yet maintaining its Islamic traits. It is Islam which permitted men of all races-Arabs, Turks, Greeks and other-faiths, Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians to contribute to the glorious civilization we call Islamic. Bernard Lewis remarks:

“Despite this diversity of its origins, Islamic Civilization was no more mechanical juxtaposition of previous cultures but rather a new creation, in which all these elements fused into a new and original civilization by the transposition into Arabic and Islamic forms recognizable and characteristic in every phase of its achievement.”

Sovereignty is the highest and most general power or administering the affairs which generally concern the safety and welfare of the soul and body of the members of the state. This power could be neither absolute nor supreme since it is limited by the laws of God. The law of nature, and the terms of the contract with the people, who remain the ultimate source of sovereignty. Because of this, political scientists have found it extremely difficult to fix sovereignty in any individual, a group of individuals or in any human society. Thus, they are justified in arriving at the conclusion that there is none among human being who could confidently be called a sovereign power.

The Holy Quran repeatedly pointed out to the fact that only Allah, the Almighty possesses absoluteauthority and unlimited power. The world “Aziz” in the Holy Quran means unchallengeable authority and as such there is none in the entire universe who can challenge Allah’s authority and power.
  • He is all powerful. He is the accomplisher of what He planneth.
  • He is not answerable to anybody. None can question Him for His acts.
  • He is the proctor of all. He protect all but is not protected by any.

He is above all faults and short comings. “Allah is He, than whom there is no other God: the sovereign, the Holy one: the source of peace and perfectness; the Guardian of Faith, the preserve of safety, the exalted in Might, the irresistible and the supreme”, declares the Quran. Sovereignty could be divided into two types: Legal and political and both are interdependent. Legal sovereignty does not mean anything without political sovereignty. If political sovereignty is not there at the back of legal sovereignty it has no worth at all. There are numerous verses of the Holy Quran such as:
  • The command is for none but Allah.
  • Allah doth command according to His will and plan.
  • When Allah commands, there is none to put back His command.
  • The command rests with none but Allah. He declares the truth and He is the best of Judges.
  • Follow (O Men) the revelation, given unto you from your Lord, and follow not as friends or protectors, others than Him.
  • He hath commandeth that ye worship none but Him: that is right way.

Holy Quran establish this fact with ample evidence that legal sovereignty belongs to Allah alone. Those who are not prepared to accept, this fact, the Holy Quran has called them rebellions, wrong doers and unbelievers: And if any do fail to judge by the light of what Allah has revealed, they are not better than those who rebel.And if they do fail to judge by the light of what Allah has revealed they are not better than wrong doer. And if any do fail to judge by the light of what Allah has revealed, they are no better than un-believers.

All these verses reveal the fact that legal sovereignty belongs to Allah alone. “The command is with Allah, Most High, and Most Great”.

to be continued ...
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Role of Morality in Islamic Legislation
(Remaining Part)

The representative of Allah’s legal sovereignty are his chosen servants-the Apostles. He has revealed His commands to His Apostles through His special Envoy Angel Gebriel. The Apostles then have conveyed His message and explained it to the people. If a thorough study of all these commands is done one point comes out quite clear that every Apostle has put more emphasis on the point that:
  • Fear Allah and obey me.
  • If ye do love Allah follow me, Allah will love you.

In Holy Quran Allah has made this point abundantly clear that if someone claims to obey Me, he should follow My Apostle, which would mean that he loves Me. In other words, if someone does not follow His Apostle, it would automatically mean that he does not obey his commands. Thus, obey the Apostle and following him becomes obligatory for every Muslim. Without doing so, obeying Allah or loving Him is not comprehensible. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “We sent not an Apostle, but to be obeyed in accordance with the will of Allah”. In other words, obeying the Apostle in fact is obeying Allah. Thus there is no other way of obeying Allah except through obeying the Apostle. It is also worth mentioning here that Allah has not ordained the people to obey the Apostle in some things and disobey him some others. He has ordained the people to obey him entirely in all the walks of life. The Apostle has to be followed in all matters.

“But no, by thy Lord they can have no real faith until they make you Judge in all disputes between them, and find in their heart no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction”.

Thus, the legal sovereignty of Allah means that His Apostle should be obeyed and his decisions considered as final and binding, there should be no compromise on this point.

In the western state model, law is there essentially to protect what is regarded by the state to represent citizen's rights. It provides a safeguard against exploitation and corruption protects the weak from the strong and maintains public order and decency. It is not for the law to legislate or interfere with personal morality as morality is relegated to the private life of the individual. Even public morality must not be enforced by law, though this is not always practical and the law, almost unwillingly, has to adopt a moral attitude. In so doing, the secular state has virtually no choice. If it considers religion as a personal matter and accepts the plurality of moral values, to legislate to satisfy the standards of one group could be detrimental to the other and to legislate to a perceived common morality acceptable to all (based on natural or human values) would be an administrative nightmare, if possible at all.

The complexity of this problem is demonstrated by the well known Devlin-Hart
debate in which Lord Devlin supported the legislation of moral crimes (even when they may not necessarily be immediately injurious to society), came to completely unacceptable conclusions such as, the final arbiter as to what constitutes a moral value would, in the end, be left up to the thinking of the legislature. In this way, morality, one of the most powerful forces that has shaped civilised society, is almost unused by the modern secular state. It is a well-known fact that Islam has a value-system applicable to government and politics. It has a complete code of life and as a consequence, it provides man with theoretical and practical guidance covering all aspects of life, of which the political aspect is but one and focal point. The world, in its view, is a place of preparation of the soul for the hereafter and that this preparation fulfils the ultimate purpose of the creation of man. One cannot therefore consider parts of worldly life as having no meaning with regards to that final purpose. Life does not end with death but continues towards higher and higher elevations. The importance of society and laws governing social interaction in Islam therefore becomes obvious. The ruling of such a society requires Islam to provide guidelines for the establishment of a just administration of the state mechanism. Shah Waliullah, in the Hujjat Allah Al-Baligha points out that the
Hadd punishments were applied to offences of three kinds;
  1. Those subversive of public order and disturbing to the community
  2. Such as, if not prevented early, could be repeated so as to become habitual
  3. Such that the victim could not get redress for him.

For disloyalty and sedition, the most severe punishment was prescribed and mitigation was prohibited. For theft, the punishment was prescribed in the Holy Qur’an, namely, hand-cutting, the offence being one easy to commit, and therefore apt to become both habitual and widespread. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as a lawgiver is reported to have imposed this punishment only where the value of the stolen property was more than a quarter of a dirham. He also laid down the principle that for applying this punishment, the taking must be from actual safe-custody, or under protection, besides being of the requisite value. So, for plucking fruit from a tree or taking animals that were straying in the hills, lesser punishments were given, including a fine of double value of the thing taken. Cases of crimes which cannot be required by the victim are outraging the modesty of respectable women, highway robbery, and false imputation of unchastely, and for these the Hadd punishments were halved. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said-‘if a female slave commits offence, beat her; if a male slave commits theft, sell him’. Another tradition is to the effect that when a complaint was made against a slave by his owner, that he committed theft, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said ‘both belong to you; one is merged in the other’.

There are traditions also with reference to the Hadd punishment for adultery that qualified mitigation was applied, according to the facts. With regard to intoxication through drink, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) strengthened the Qur’anic injunctions by declaring it to be Haram. He ordered the punishment of forty lashes to a drunken person. Here too, the offence is one easily committed, and apt to become habitual so that full severity in punishment was justified. Later, it was increased to eighty lashes. A very impressive instance of the Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) inclination towards mercy is to be found in the tradition that when a man brought before him, as an offender who had incurred a punishment of hundred lashes, proved to be a sick and a cripple, he said ‘take a branch with a hundred twigs and give him one blow with it’.

During the period when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was the sole arbitrator of his period, he enlarged the jurisprudence of Islam in several directions. The record of his decisions and dicta is contained in the Ahadith. It was he who laid down the rule that in the trial of suits, the obligation of producing evidence to support his claim is on the plaintiff; the defendant must take an oath that his case is true. The reason given was that if relief were always given to plaintiffs on evidence alone, unjust result could follow. Another rule that he laid down is that in cases of doubt, the antecedents of witness should be checked. Supplementing the rule of the Qur’an that one who has proved to have made a false charge of indecency against an honourable woman is forever disqualified as a witness in judicial proceedings, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) disqualified also persons who have committed breach of trusts or adultery, as well as those who were enemies of a party.

Rules were laid down as to the taking of oaths-the formula of words, the time and the place. The words should bring to mind the total power and the total knowledge of Allah; the time should be the ‘Asr prayer; in Mecca, the place was within the precincts of theKa’ba, and Medina, at the mosque ofTayyaba. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) greatly disapproved litigious persons saying that in the view of Allah these were the most troublesome, but those who avoided contention were praised as magnanimous. False evidence and false case were regarded with a very severe eye; they show disrespect to Allah, who loves not trouble-maker and desires that social order should be maintained. The holy Prophet (peace beupon him) said ‘he who makes a false case to get another’s property is not of my people; he should find his place in hell’. A judgment does not make that lawful which is itself unlawful and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) added great emphasis by saying:

“Remember that I am like one of you. If a clever litigant, by artful words, convinces me so that I decide a case in his favour, right if a brother Muslim, such a litigant will go to Hell”.

In his decisions, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him always up-held the principles of public good. Thus in a case of damage to a garden by a stray camel, he laid down that if it happened in the daytime when garden-owner should have guarded his property. There was no blame to the camel owner, but if it happened at night, when the camel-owner should have kept his animal secure, the camel-owner was liable.

The maxim ‘al-khiraj biz-zaman’, meaning that the profit from a thing belongs to him who is responsible for its existence, from which is derived the corollary ‘al-uzm bil-ghunum’ meaning he who pays for a thing is entitled to the benefit from it, comes from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) himself, and in his time was laid down the salutary principle that all transactions that pre-dated the advent of the Islamic state to be left as they were, untouched by the new order of things. The rule favouring the person in possession, where the ownership of property is involved, and the evidence is either doubtful or equal on the two sides was applied by the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in a case be decided. With regard to property ofwhich no owner could be found, he laid down that its disposal should be governed by the element of benefit to all Muslims as well as to the thing itself, and secondly, by the element of prior possession; failing these, by the casting of lots. He held that contracts should be enforced to the letter, unless anything agreed makes that Halal(lawful) which religion declares Haram(unlawful). Where the parties are not agreed as to the terms of a contract, it should be declared void, and in a particular case, the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said-‘When seller and buyer are not agreed, and the word of neither can be accepted, if the thing allegedly sold be there, the word of the seller should be accepted, but if the buyer does not agree, the contract should be void.’

Many cases are recorded in which the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) laid down canons of justice of general application. The paternity of the child of a slave-girl being contested, one party claiming that his brother, when dying said the child was his and should be looked after his family, and the other declaring, it is the child of my father’s slave, and was born in my father’s house, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) pronounced as follows: ‘the child belongs to the owner of the house in which it was born; for the adulterer there is stoning’. He decided that in a built-up area, where trouble had arisen through the paths encroached upon by builders; the minimum width of the path should be seven cubits; so a public nuisance was removed. In a case where a person had cultivated land belonging to another tribe than his own, without authority , the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) decided that the man had no right to the produce, but should ask for payment of his expenses of cultivation. He laid down the principle in a pre-emption case, that the ‘right of pre-emption exists only so long as partition has not been effected, so that rights remain joint; when every field has been demarcated, and each owner has his separate way, no right of pre-emption remains’.

Kitab ul Allah and Sunnah of the Prophet may the blessings of God be upon him considered all these deeds, practiced and acted upon. He (PBUH) made the acts of worship precise for them by legislating the causes and time, conditions, pillars, proper behaviours, the ruling leading o their invalidation, the special consideration, the strict interpretations, he (timely) performance of and making-up for missing obligations. He PBUH) specified the acts of disobedience and legislated the ruling of Hadd punishments, deterrent punishments, and atonements. Islamic values are absolute and morally binding upon the believers. As justice is very near to piety and righteousness therefore they should not transgress he limits of justice.

Islam is brought about by a conscious resolve on the part of a politically free nation to renounce all claims to sovereignty in favour of God Almighty. Islam considers no discrimination whatsoever on ground of race or colour and is not bound by any linguistic or geographical barriers as such ensures the Islamic values throughout the world. Allah is the legal sovereign. His law (the Holy Quran) is the final and binding argument. His Apostles must be obeyed and loved by following them. Their guidance is another landmark of Allah’s legal sovereignty.
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Economic Role of Women The Islamic Approach
By
Jalaluddin

With the introduction of the concept of Gender and Development (GAD) in the 1990s, economic development and empowerment of women has today become a cross cutting theme of all national policies and plans worldwide. Different international agreements require signatories to take appropriate measures to provide women access to and control on resources to reshape gender relations.

Given the global implications of the concept of development and empowerment, it is pertinent to critically examine the position of Islam in relation to the subject under discussion, keeping in view present day realities. However, before taking this question up, the subject of family in Islam must briefly be touched upon as it has a direct bearing on the debate.

The family is an institution of society, and it is essential for every institution to have order and discipline, without which it cannot run or even survive. The institution of the family is run with the mutual collaboration and cooperation of husband and wife. The Islamic scheme for a family’s management is that the woman should be relieved from all other responsibilities in order to focus on the family’s internal discipline and stability, while the man should take the burden of meeting economic needs. The woman’s food, clothing and shelter are counted among the family’s economic needs; if both partners are well-off, a servant or helper for household chores is also included in these needs. The man has to arrange for the expenses of healthcare as well. This is the legal position of Islam on the responsibilities of the husband. In addition, good moral conduct as encouraged in Islam demands that a man treat his wife as well as he can and do everything possible for her comfort and happiness.

While it is true that a woman’s home and family are her primary sphere of activity, and that she has been relieved of financial burdens to give the best of her time and energy to the sustenance and growth of the family, it is not true that she has no right to do anything else, or that all avenues for economic activity have been shut to her. Islamic history shows that, along with paying their duty to family and home, Muslim women have rendered great services outside their homes as well. They have also been involved in economic activities according to the situations in which they found themselves. It is necessary to reflect on different aspects of this phenomenon in the light of Islamic teachings:

Sometimes, a situation demands that a wife support her husband in earning for the family. This situation, where both husband and wife work to meet the family’s needs, is generally seen in the working middle class. However, a highly educated, professionally trained and skilled woman too may find herself in a difficult situation that demands of her to work and earn. If she adopts a lawful occupation, she has every right to do this.

Women may have certain sources of income even where they do not set out to earn in the first place. For example, a woman receives dower (mahr) from her husband, she owns her jewelry, and Islam has given her the right to inherit. A woman may receive money, a plot of land, or property in the shape of a shop or house. She is free to invest her assets and holdings in a profitable business and thereby improve her economic situation.
There were times when women had to bear a very heavy burden of household chores and maintenance, which included, along with serving the husband and rearing the children, sieving and grinding grains, cooking, fetching water, washing dishes as well as clothes, sweeping and dusting, etc. These were really hard and tiresome duties in which women used to spend almost all of their time. Today, we are living in an era of machines. Many of the chores that were done manually get done by machines now. This is one reason why, at least in urban areas, women have more time at their leisure. Moreover, children are sent to nursery and kindergarten when they are just three or four years old, which means that their mothers are spared the time they would have had to give to them in the past. Thus, women generally have more time at their disposal now, even while performing all household responsibilities. If they manage this time and utilize it to improve the economic conditions of their family and their own selves, there is no harm.

For a certain period after marriage, women remain quite busy in bearing children and giving them the special care they need in their early years. A woman might be busiest during this period. When she crosses the age of 40, these responsibilities begin to shrink. However, her abilities and energies do not similarly diminish; rather, maturity and experience adds to her competence. At this stage, therefore, women can engage themselves in economic activities with greater focus and attention.

Women can adopt any occupation or business according to their situation and circumstances, abilities and inclinations. They can seek jobs as well as invest in trade, industry, or agriculture. They can manage and supervise the ventures in which they invest or which they own. They can even create new opportunities for themselves.

Here, it is important to note that meeting the financial needs of a woman is her husband’s responsibility if she is married, and her father’s or brother’s responsibility if she is single. This is an obligation (wajib) on him, of which he is not exonerated even if his wife (or daughter or sister) is well-off and has some other means of income. A woman’s income is exclusively her own. She may spend it as she wills. She may choose to spend it on her husband and children, but this will be an act of goodness (ihsan) on her part and is not a legal compulsion.

Hazrat Abdullah ibn Masud (May Allah be pleased with him) was in a financially weak position. His wife, Zainab (May Allah be pleased with her) used to spend on him. She once approached the Prophet (Peace be upon him [pbuh]) and asked through Hazrat Bilal (May Allah be pleased with him) if she could spend on her husband (in addition to the orphans she was taking care of). An Ansari woman too had the same question. The Prophet (pbuh) replied that theirs was a double reward: one for keeping the relationship good and the other for charity.

To prevent women’s economic activities from taking any direction considered wrong in Islam, it is essential to be aware of the following Islamic principles:
Islam has prescribed the limits of halal (lawful and allowed) and haram (unlawful and forbidden), which both men and women have to observe in all circumstances. They can engage only in halal pursuits. Nobody is allowed to engage in haram activities.

A distinguishing feature of the Islamic scheme for society is that the notion of free intermixing of the two genders is simply alien to it. Therefore, women cannot adopt an occupation or business in which they would have to work in close proximity with men. Chastity and modesty are important values, which give dignity and security to women. As they cannot be compromised, Islam wants women to avoid all situations where there is danger of these values being flouted or violated.

The family is an important institution of society. It is accorded great importance in the Islamic scheme of life. Its strength gives strength and stability to Islamic society as a whole, while its weakness makes the growth and very survival of Islam in society very difficult. The family is built and run by a man and a woman. In this set-up, they both have rights and obligations. It is their responsibility to raise their children, and train and educate them. They may have to shoulder many other responsibilities as well. For instance, they have to fulfill the legal and moral rights of their parents, brothers and sisters and any other relations who are also part of their family. On the internal front of all this, the woman has a highly significant role to play. The family needs her time and attention, energies and potential.

Thus, finances are important, but a woman should not engage herself in economic activities at the cost of the family system and discipline. She should not give herself up to economic struggle at the cost of the warmth of relations.

The family is an abode of peace for its members and an institution that, if strong, guarantees the progress of society. Any damage to it is a loss to both the individual and the society. Therefore, it is not right for individual men and women to ignore it in their pursuit of any other objective.
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Global peace and justice: An Islamic perspective
By
Anis Ahmed

Quest for peace and justice is perhaps a core issue and a major shared aspiration in most of the world religions. However, a more realistic analysis will show that even for the Secularist thinkers peace has been a major concern, though, their basic assumptions and the motivating force behind it may be totally different. The post-capitalism mind set, with its deep commitment to economic development, individualism and ethical relativism, gradually developed a belief that war, can not help, in the long run, in achieving the social and economic targets of the industrialized world.

Pacifism, in due course, as an individual commitment to non-violence was projected further and extended to other areas of concern. The strategic use of armed conflicts and wars, directly related with the capitalist urge to control sources of raw material and to create markets for its products, was reconsidered. A new strategic thinking put forward the thesis that peace and pacifism can also pave the way for free trade movement and help the capitalist powers in achieving their objectives, for which, conventionally, bloody wars were waged.

In the post-world wars era, a functional approach of trade, travel, and democracy was considered as basis for internationalism. In an era of search for peace, efforts were made to avoid physical wars, considered enemy of free trade and travel. The age of cold war offered new opportunities for development of regional economies, mutual understanding, and nuclear deterrence. Emergence of the institution of United Nations, theoretically, was materialization of pacifism at a global international level. Leaving aside the success or failure of this international body, its major role was supposed to be facilitation of peaceful resolution of conflicts. Peace making and keeping peace became an article of faith for this proud secular institution and its member states.

Peace movement and non-violent resistance movements, at an historical level, included not only democratic struggle for the liberation of people from the exploitation and oppression of imperialist and colonialist powers of Europe. It also included movements such as the one for gender equity. Though women’s liberation movement in the West called for equal rights for women and not for an equitable role for them, it did not become violent and remained a peaceful movement. At the political front, movements for democratization of society, sometimes remained peaceful, while at others, turned out violent. Nevertheless global movements for peace or resolution of conflicts, without use of military power, with their basic secular character, kept working for creation of a better human environment. The Helsinki process or the movement for a Nuclear free world is an example of this secularist concern for peace.

Persons with profound and obvious religious affiliations, on the other hand have been often blamed for instigating extremism, fundamentalism, violence, terrorism and bloodshed. For several decades Catholics and Protestants in the Northern Ireland were blamed for religious violence, fundamentalism and extremism. The fact however remains neither Catholicism nor Protestantism endorses such violence and bloodshed. Similarly the ethnic cleansing by Croats and Serbs and their terror against the Bosnian Muslims could not be regarded a true reflection of pristine Christianity. We have reason to believe that conscientious, honest and ethically committed Jews, never support the naked violence and brutality committed by the Zionists against the indigenous Muslims and Christians in Palestine. The refusal of a number of Israeli pilots to target Palestinian townships, shows that not all Jews support Zionist terrorism in Palestine. This brief review shows that peace enjoys enormous importance among the secularists as well as among religious persons, and violence can not be justified in the name of religion.

Peace initiatives and peace process are generally associated with peaceful settlement of disputes; concern for collective security; disarmament; preventive diplomacy and functionalism. Disputes and disagreements whether political, economic or ideological have been generally settled either through use of might and power or through negotiations, i.e. brain power, mediation, face to face interaction and dialogue. Peace initiatives provide a forum for this purpose.

Concern for collective security generally leads to bilateral and multi-lateral relations which further leads to regional or global peace process. While disarmament refers to, particularly efforts to check arms imbalance and containment of nuclear weapons, proper disposal of nuclear waste, and voluntarily avoiding an arms race are inalienable dimensions of that. It also prepares the ground for better future for peace in the world. Preventive diplomacy through direct involvement of agencies such as U.N. also offers a viable option for peace. Though unilateralism of the US imperialism, particularly its invasion and unlawful occupation of Iraq, has seriously dented, rather announced demise of this role of the U.N. Failure of such prestigious institution does not frustrate us. This on the other hand strengthens our belief that a phenomenological approach in which intellectuals, religious leaders, and those involved in policy planning, through their collaborations on current international economic, social and political issues, can create a better environment for an on going dialogue, mutual confidence building and development of a non-violent global psyche.

Where do the living religions stand in this contemporary discourse on peace? More specifically how Islam looks on peace, calls for a rather dispassionate search for the meaning and relevance of peace in the texts of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Etymologically the term Islam draws its origin from the Arabic root slm which literally means peace and acceptance of servitude to Allah swt or to surrender to His Authority as the Ultimate. If this is so why a global uproar about the so called “bloody doctrine” of Holy war or “Islamic Jihad”. It may sound naïve nevertheless a major cause for this misconception is the fictional image created by electronic media and journalistic writings of a group of orientalists, neo-con intellectuals and free lance lobbyists. To take one example, we refer to Judith Miller’s God has Ninety Nine Names: Reporting from a Militant Middle East. As a correspondent of New York Times, without having lived much in the Middle East and with no working knowledge of Arabic language, she writes authoritatively on Islam. Edward Said while reviewing her book says “what matters to “experts” like Miller, Samuel Huntington, Martin Kramer, Bernard Lewis, Danial Pipes, Steven Emerson and Barry Rubin, plus a whole battery of Israeli academics, is to make sure that the “threat” is kept before our eyes, the better to excoriate Islam for terror, disposition and violence, while assuring themselves profitable consultancies, frequent T.V. appearances and book contracts. Similar effort is made in Stephen Schwartz’s The Two Faces of Islam: the House of Saud from Tradition to Terror;[1] it is a search for “demons” and a call to slay “dragons”, which only exist in the fantasy of the author.

One apparent reason for such projections of Islam, perhaps, as mentioned above, is projection of Jihad as a weapon for elimination and destruction of all non-Muslims and their civilizations. The tragic event of 9/11 rather re-enforced this centuries old misgiving about Islam as a violent faith. Muslim responses, in general, thanks to being apologetic or reactionary, neither helped in capturing the real meaning and purpose of Jihad nor could be useful in dispelling these allegations. Consequently misreading the intent, purpose and method of Jihad, easily leads one to equate it with violence.

Violence is generally defined as purposeful use of force in order to hurt, insult or injure someone. This is why a remote control device when used to hurt or kill anyone is regarded an act of violence and terror. However, we always differentiate between physical injury with an intention to cause pain or harm and the same action with an intention to improve, repair, and make life better for a person, such as the use of surgical tools by a dentist in extracting tooth or the use of knife by a surgeon to save a patient’s life. It is in this context that jihad, in the Qur’an, is projected as an instrument for realization of peace and justice in society, and at the same time a tool for checking and eliminating lawlessness, oppression and exploitation.

Those who choose an apologetic course of argument often draw a line between the so-called defensive and offensive dimensions of Jihad. They make frequent reference to a later classification of the world as darulharb (abode of war) or darul Islam (abode of peace). They Go to the extent of saying that Jihad being essentially defensive, does not permit to go to war against anyone. On the other hand, some Muslims talk about Jihad as a total war against whatever they consider un-Islamic. While both interpretations may contain elements of truth neither one comprehends the concept in its totality.

If we look directly into the Qur’an, as the ultimate source of Islamic teachings, we find the term Jihad is used in around forty places in the Qur’an while the term qital appears around one hundred sixty seven times in one or another context. While jihad in its Qur’anic sense refers to struggle, concerted effort, and an ongoing endeavor, in order to achieve an objective, the term qital simply means fighting or war in its wider connotation.

The purpose and intent of jihad as defined by the Qur’an is to liberate people from oppression, injustice, exploitation, slavery and bondage or restoration of human rights of a people. Although the focus in several places is on the Muslims, it is not correct to confine it to restoration of human rights of Muslims only for the simple reason that the Qur’an uses the word mustad‘afin or those who are ill treated and oppressed, and exhorts Muslim to fight for the cause of their liberation. “And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who being weak are ill-treated (and oppressed) men, women and children, who cry Our Lord rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors and raise for us from Thee one who will protect and raise for us from Thee one who will help” (an Nisa 4:75).

Elsewhere the Qur’an includes specifically followers of at least three different faiths whose places of worship have to be protected by the Muslims as an obligation and in order to uphold human rights. “For had it not been for Allah to check one set of people by means of another; these would surely have been pulled down Monasteries (temples), Churches, Synagogues and Mosques, in which name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure, Allah will certainly help those who help His Cause, for verily Allah is full of Strength exalted in Might. (al-Hajj 22:40)

Jihad consequently, in the Qur’an, stands for a movement of protection of human rights, freedom, and dignity of man. It does not call for a “holy war” against the “infidels”. The term “holy war”, which in Arabic would mean harb al muqadas, practically does not exist in the vocabulary of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Similarly peace (amn, salam, sulh) in the Islamic Tradition is not an antonym of war. It stands for a culture of peace, tolerance, mutual understanding and an ongoing systematic cultural and civilizational discourse and dialogue. Addressing the whole of humanity as a single Ummah the Qur’an invites all humans to cultivate an attitude of peace “And Allah summons to the abode of peace, and leads whom He will to a straight path” (Yunus 10:25). The word peace in its different forms appears in around one hundred and thirty eight places in the Qur’an.

The culture of peace, as visualized by Islam, is not limited to a formal understanding of concept of disarmament, collective security or peace as functionalism. Islamic view of peace is comprehensive; it is more than a no-war situation. Without going into details the Islamic understanding of peace can be summarized in seven points which provide a practical basis for a global order of peace.

Tawhid: Needless to say, peace and justice, as recurring themes in the Qur’an enjoy a central place in the Islamic scheme of thought. Their manifestations take place at individual as well as collective levels. The concept of peace in the Qur’an also appears directly linked with the principle of tawhid,, often considered a theological issue. Tawhid being the be-end and be-all in the Islamic framework of thought implies conscious removal of conflict and contradiction in one’s conduct, attitude, behavior and in social transactions. The coherence, cohesion and unization thus achieved at individual level becomes a major effective and authentic source for peace. Once consciously internalized, tawhid deters a person from using double standards while interacting with members of family or business partners as well as when entrusted a public responsibility. Systematic elimination of internal contradictions and development of coherence in thought and actions paves the way for existential peace. Tawhid or observance of One ultimate cosmic principle, operating at cosmic level and in the human realm, makes this principle relevant and agreeable even for persons who may not profess to be Muslim. Unization in thought and action thus acquires status of a global viable solution for resolving conflict at individual and social levels.

‘Adl: This leads us to the second central Islamic principle, viz ‘adl or equity and justice, which provide basis for peace in society. The Qur’an refers to at least seven important dimensions of ‘adl which lead to meaningful peace in society. First and foremost is the rule of law and equality and value of human life. Realization of rule of law cuts across different sections of society. Law does not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims in the basic human rights. Life, honor, property and security of non-Muslim citizen is as much valuable as that of a Muslim. Protection and promotion of life becomes a primary value. It under scores that peace in society is only possible when protection of human life is given highest priority. Its promotion and protection of human life offers a solid foundation for peace, security and a sustainable society. The Qur’an not only condemns manslaughter, as, it claims, was done in preceding religious traditions, it declares killing one human soul unjustly as killing the whole of humanity and protecting one single life equal to giving life to the whole of humanity (al-M’aidah 5:32). The Prophetic commands even prohibiting unjust violation of life of plants, birds, animals etc. indicates Prophet’s concern.

This is followed by social and economic dimension which includes proper observance of rights and responsibilities of members of extended family, neighbors and even strangers. The Qur’an and the Sunnah, thus, put enormous emphasis on observance of huquq and faraid as a pre-requisite for peaceful life at a grass root level. It is only when a person honestly observes rights of the Creator and the fellow humans that may qualify a person to enter the abode of peace (dar al-salam) in the life hereafter. It calls for ethical conduct and behavior in social dealings in order to realize enduring peace in society. It also calls for ethical conduct in trade and economy. Financial corruption, and exploitation of property of citizens is considered a social evil and cause of crisis and insecurity in society. Taking a serious note, the Qur’an legislates strict punishment for theft (saraqah and harabah) in order to create security and peace as well as safe traveling for traders and businessmen. Practice of ethics in economic and financial matters is underscored by the Qur’an as a pre-requisite for peace and justice in society. Therefore it says “O you who believe squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it is for some business (trade) by mutual consent” (an Nisa 4:29 also al-Baqarah 2:188). Referring to quality control and standardization of measure it declares “Fill the measure when you measure, and weigh with a right balance, that is better and finest in the end” (Bani Isra’il 17:35)

While pleading for fair and transparent economic transactions, it condemns, with all possible force, economic exploitation in the form of riba or usury and interest which is regarded a major source of conflict and economic oppression in society by Islam.

Political liberty and freedom: Third dimension of justice relates with political liberty. Free participation in political process is recognized by the Qur’an as a human right of people. Political justice, right to association and disagreement, and power sharing thus becomes instrumental in realization of peace.

Rational behavior: Fourth important dimension of adl and a Qur’anic pre-requisite for global peace relates to inculcation of a rational and reasonable behavior in personal and social matters. Islam does not visualize creation of peace unless individuals and society, as such, adopts an attitude of fairness and reasonableness. Individual matters and social policies are to be decided keeping in view their moral consequences for individuals as well as society. Rationality is not a matter of personal justification but an objective exercise of principle of reason and intellect or ‘aql . A balance between the individual good and the social good (maslahah ‘amah) becomes the basis of durable and dignified peace.

Gender relations: Fifth, peace, in the Islamic framework is also linked with gender relations and sexual ethics. The Qur’an regards unethical sexual conduct as not only obscene but a major source of corruption, exploitation and unhealthy society. Unlike several world religious traditions Islam disapproves celibacy and, living life of a hermit or monk. It makes the family, society and state responsible for getting bachelors married (an Nur 24:32). It appreciates and encourages family life and rather large size of family and makes provision for remarriage of widowed. These measures help in avoiding sexual deviance and in creating peace and ethical environment in society.

Religious freedom and pluralism: Sixth important aspect of justice relates with the realm of religion. Religious freedom within the Muslim community and right to live by their religious teachings, for the non-Muslim citizens, is considered vital, by the Qur’an, for realization of peace (al-Baqrah 2:256).

Legal justice: Seventh major aspect of ‘adl relates with realization of legal justice without any discrimination based on religion, color, ethnicity, gender, race, or social status of a person (al-Ma‘idah.5:8). When Tawhid and ‘adl in this comprehensive connotation are established in society it makes peace viable and an existential reality.

Another important dimension relates to realization of a pluralistic society with recognition and respect of religious liberty. Its ecumenism allows within the Muslim community parallel existence of madhahib and masalik, or legal and theological interpretations. It also recognizes religious and human rights of believers of other faiths. Even a kafir (denier of Allah’s authority) has a right to live by what he believes (al-kafirun 109:1-6)

These seven dimensions of ‘adl (Justice)’, in essence, are not particular to the Muslim or to any specific time or space. These are universal ethical principles, which provide solid grounds for a global dialogue leading to realization of peace, mutual understanding and cooperation.

These principles also allow development of a pluralistic world with recognition and respect of religious liberty, respect and promotion of human life, transcendence of reason over dogmatism or rigid traditionalism.

Muslim philosophers of law and jurists particularly al-Ghazali ((d. 505/1111) and al-Shatibi (d. 790/1388) consider that five of the above seven principles are the basis of divine legislation in the Qur’an and the sunnah. Most of the commands, directives and teachings of the Qur’an are founded on one or more of these principles. Nevertheless universality of these principles, and their logical relationship with the two vital principles (usul wa asas) of Islam viz. tawhid and ‘adl’, makes their applicability and relevance meaningful for any one irrespective of culture and religious affiliation, an achievable target of sustainable peace and justice in society.

These seven principles, thanks to their universal application and non-parochial and non-sectarian nature, also offer a meaningful basis for a global peace dialogue with a transparent social agenda. Peace in the final analysis becomes a matter of socio-economic and political justice.

Secular fundamentalism on the other hand, with its commitment to situational and relativistic views of ethics, ultimately secularizes political, economic, social legal and educational institutions. Universal ethical values are substituted by a set of secular materialistic values. Peace and justice become situational and relative to individual judgment. A lack of consensus thus created in universal ethical values, leads to conflict and clash in society. Pluralism, justice, peace (internal as well external), become first victim of this secularization of space and time.

How to realize peace and justice at an existential level? Perhaps solution lies in forging a moral force in which persons with a religious orientation as well as those claiming to be secular, join hands against violence, denial of human rights and socio-economic injustice. A moral force consisting of intellectuals, religious leaders and professionals can be instrumental in creation of proper awareness about peace, it can also identify concrete steps needed for its realization at national and global level.

The Author, Prof. Dr. Anis Ahmad, is Vice-Chancellor of Rephah International University, Islamabad.
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Some Important Question-and-Answer Regarding Women Jobs


Q: Women doing jobs or other activities outside the home cannot perform household duties as well as they would have otherwise. Do they still have the right to maintenance?

A:
There could be two situations in this regard. One is where a woman has opted for a job or some other activity with the permission of her husband. Here, it is meaningless to accuse her of giving less time to household duties. She also retains the right to maintenance. The second situation is where a woman takes up some activity against the will of her husband, and spends quite a lot of her time outside the home or at her parents’ home. Then, she will have no right to maintenance. Although the family relations cannot be taken simply as the economic contract yet this can be understood by considering the case of a person who goes on leave according to the rules and regulations of his organization. In this situation, he would get his salary. But a person who goes without informing the concerned staff and without following any procedure would have no right to get salary.

Q: In our society, which jobs could be considered right and correct for women within the limits prescribed by Islam?

A:
I think a woman can decide for herself which job she would be able to observe Islamic conduct in, and which are the situations where she would not be able to hold fast to it. She must desist from jobs in which she thinks she would be put in trying situations.

Q: Sometimes a woman may find herself in circumstances, such as her husband’s little income and absence of other resources, which compel her to do a job in which she finds it difficult to be able to observe Islamic conduct.

A:
These compulsions are a product of the contemporary economic system. It is a responsibility of an Islamic state to create an environment where everyone has opportunities to earn his livelihood according to the teachings of Islam. One should not be compelled to violate Islamic norms of conduct in order to obtain or retain a job. This is why Muslims should strive to make their society and country a true Islamic state. Then you will see that the services of educated women who have spare time and who can play their role in economic development of the country will be sought and appreciated.

In the obtaining circumstances, if women find themselves compelled to overlook Islam’s prescribed norms of conduct, this can be regarded “compulsion” in specific circumstances. This will have no general sanction in Islam, however.

Q: A hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) asks men to provide food and clothing to their wives as they would provide for themselves. Based on this, some women think that preparing food and other household chores are not included in their duties. It is for men to provide prepared food, etc. What do fuqaha (Islamic jurists) say in this matter?

A:
Fuqaha (Muslim Jurists) have deliberated on the issue of whether household chores are included in women’s duties or not. To me, the hadith that asks men to provide food and clothing to their wives as they would provide for their own selves does not mean that they should provide prepared food and ready-made garments to wives. In fact, the purport of the hadith is that women’s status and standard of living should not be less than that of men. We see in countries like Pakistan and India that most men actually try to keep their women in better conditions than their own. Nevertheless women are not treated well because of difference in disposition, lack of tolerance, quarrels or some other reason. This is why Islam exhorts that women have equal rights to the same standard of living as their husbands. They cannot be denied maintenance and expenditure for their needs, or forced to have a lower standard of living. It is not correct that, while a man is using the car for himself, his wife is not even able to hire one; while he has one or more servants or assistants, his wife has no maid to help her. As for preparing food and other household chores, women performed this duty during the era of the Prophet (pbuh) and they do this job even today. If a woman does not consider it her legal duty and refuses to do it for her husband, then she should expect nothing more than her legal rights from her husband, and no better conduct.

Q: You said that though women find it difficult to do jobs during certain periods of time in their lives, they can take up jobs more easily at later stages. But if a woman has to participate in economic activities, she would, nevertheless, have to be trained from the start. Without professional education and training, how would she enter any field?

A:
This is a very important question, and merits serious consideration and deep thought. If women wish to obtain professional education, it is a right that should not be denied to them. If they want jobs along with attending to family responsibilities, and have their husbands’ consent, or if they are at an age where they have time as well as potential and experience, then they should be given opportunities to realize their potential. This has to be properly schemed. The existing rules and regulations have been framed with men in view. Thus, for instance, the timing for work prescribed for men may not be suitable for women. Likewise, the procedure we have for appointment and retirement of men may need to be altered for women. If a woman wants to begin a job even at the age of 40, she should be given the opportunity. Similarly, her retirement may be set at a later age than 60. Along with this, her health and ability to work too should be kept in view and given due regard. While we should all think over the issue, it is primarily a responsibility of the state to examine all these aspects from an Islamic perspective and design a new framework for the economic role of women.

Q: From the Qur’anic instruction to women to “stay in your houses” the term ‘chadar aur char diwari’ was derived and it was thought that women should remain confined to their homes. Champions of women’s liberty raised a lot of hue and cry over this. We would like to hear you on this issue.

A:
The Qur’anic instruction for women to “stay in your houses” does not mean that women must be kept permanently in houses and not allowed to go out. What it means is that women should not leave or forsake their houses if they risk ruining them for lack of attention and care. In the Prophet’s era, women used to go for prayers to the mosque, visit the market, and come out of their houses for various other tasks as well. They performed Hajj and Umrah. Nobody restricted their movement. What we need to realize is that Islam has given the internal management and administration of the home to women. It is a woman’s responsibility to make the home an abode of peace, comfort and tranquility. Her conduct should not say that the home is not her focus of attention, and that the office or market or factory where she works has absorbed all of her attention. If she comes out of her home after meeting its needs and demands, there is nothing wrong in her going out and it cannot be termed a violation of the Qur’anic instruction “stay in your houses”.

Q: Holding that “men are protectors and maintainers of women,” the Qur’an places on men the responsibility of providing food and shelter for women. Is a man still his wife’s “protector and maintainer” if he is financially weak or unemployed and cannot bear the burden of financial responsibility, or if he is disabled and cannot give her physical protection?

A:
One can think of even worse situations. For example, a man is blind and paralyzed and himself needs help and support. His wife takes care of him and bears his expenses. Does he still retain the position of “protector and maintainer”?

The answer is that man has been appointed “protector and maintainer” for two reasons. The first is that Allah has given a degree of superiority to man over woman. This may be for physical, mental and/or practical reasons. And this is why Islam places more political, social and financial responsibilities on men. The second reason for man’s superiority is that he spends from his means on the woman in his care. This is a general rule, and exceptions are always there. A woman may be ahead of her husband financially and more able physically and, therefore, she may be spending on him. But this would not annul his status of being “protector and maintainer,” or if the man — simply because of being a man and woman —because of her economic position enter into a clash would destroy the home system.

Then, we should note that along with declaring man a “protector and maintainer,” Islam has praised the good woman as one who obeys her husband, guards her honor and chastity in his absence, and keeps his secrets. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) defined a good woman as one who pleases her husband whenever he sees her, carries out his orders, and keeps away from such attitudes about herself and his wealth that he does not like.

Q: Sometimes we see that a wife provides financial support to her husband to make him financially stable and strong. He becomes strong with her support. But then they separate on petty differences and she has no right on him. Who would be responsible for the upkeep of such a woman, and for her maintenance?

Some people readily say that her father would take up the responsibility of her well being and upkeep. But it sounds odd that a woman who spent the best 30-40 years of her life with her husband and supported him should now come back to her father’s house. Is it not against logic that her old father should be burdened with her maintenance?


A: Along with the situation you have narrated, there can be many similar situations that raise the question of a woman’s maintenance. For instance, who would be responsible for an orphan girl’s education, training and marriage? Similarly, what about the future of a young woman whose husband divorces her or dies? These situations can happen to women of all ages — young, middle-aged and old. The general principle of Shari’ah in this regard is that the closest male relation of a woman who cannot meet her financial needs would be responsible to take care of her. However, it is generally the husband’s duty to provide maintenance to his wife even if she is well-off. In the case of an orphan girl, her closest male relation — a grandfather, paternal uncle or brother, etc. — would be responsible. If the husband of a young woman dies, or divorces her, and she does not have the means to meet her own financial needs, she would come to her parents and have all the rights that she had before marriage. If an aged woman faces such a situation, her sons would be responsible for her maintenance. This is how the maintenance system prescribed by Shari’ah seeks to resolve problems in varying circumstances.

It is quite another thing if we ignore Shari’ah and think that problems cannot be resolved. If you stretch your imagination to think of a situation where a woman has no male relation, or has a male relation but he cannot bear her financial burden, then the answer is that Islam has made it the responsibility of the state to take care of women in such situations. If the state fails to do so, it is guilty of not doing it duty. The existence of a state has no meaning if it does not look after helpless women who have no one else to seek support and help from. In fact, it is hard to imagine in an Islamic society or an Islamic state that there can be a woman who has no relations or state machinery to stand by her.

Q: Sometimes it is suggested that a man who divorces his wife should be bound to provide maintenance to the divorcee until her death. This would, on the one hand, make divorce difficult and, on the other, resolve the issue of maintenance. What do you say in this regard?


A: This suggestion is against Shari’ah, which binds the husband to provide maintenance only until the completion of the iddah (i.e., the waiting period, which in divorce is three months and tens days in general, and, where the divorced woman is pregnant, ends with the delivery). How can we prescribe some thing in the name of Shari’ah that has not been prescribed by it?

As to making divorce difficult, while this suggestion appears to favour women, it is, in fact, harmful for them. A man who wants to divorce his wife — whether owing to his own foolishness or due to some weakness on his wife’s part — would keep the step of divorce pending if he is told that he would have to pay maintenance allowance to her for her lifetime. He would neither live with her properly as her husband, nor would he divorce her so that she may decide her own future.

Then, at times, it is the woman who wants to get rid of her husband, because his conduct is wicked or wayward, or in some other way repulsive to her. Divorce is her way out. If obstacles are created in the way of obtaining divorce, it would only add to her misery. She would have no option but to approach the court, which may only get her separated after long and psychologically draining proceedings.

Q: Why is it that a woman is required to observe hijab (veil) while a man is not? Is it just? Does not it go against the concept of equality of man and woman?

A: There is no denying that there is great attraction between men and women. Their unbridled interaction and free intermixing would further provoke their sexual urge and lead them to sexual waywardness. History bears witness to this tendency, and the present age gives ample evidence that not observing hijab has given rise to adultery and rape. It has ruined women’s honor and dignity, which hijab seeks to uphold.

Having said that, there can be only two situations to observe hijab: either the woman is required to observe hijab or the man is asked to do so. Islam required woman to observe hijab because it is the demand of nature. Man is not asked to observe hijab because his doing so would disturb the whole scheme of life. He is tasked with financial responsibilities to maintain his family. For this, he has to undertake certain hard tasks that it would be cruel to assign to a woman, who has a more tender nature and disposition. If all these factors are ignored and men are made to observe hijab and stay at home, women would have to be burdened with financial responsibility, which would be unbearable.

Q: There can be many forms of mixed gatherings of men and women. Are all of them forbidden? Some people object to men and women attending the same session though they are sitting separately. What is your view in this regard?


A: It is a settled matter that Islam does not approve of the intermixing of men and women. The more the intermixing, the more vehement the prohibition would be. There can be various forms of mixed gatherings. One is where their seats are mixed, they are indulging in light or loose talk, and they have opportunities to come close and be informal, which they use. This is prohibited because there are great chances of conduct that is unacceptable in Islam.

Another situation is that of a classroom. Let us suppose there are 25 boys and 25 girls in a classroom. Although the two groups are in the same classroom, their seats are separate and there is no intermixing of the two genders. It seems there is no harm in this. In the era of the Prophet (pbuh), women used to come to the mosque as well as to the Eid site. They would listen to the Prophet (pbuh) and offer prayers behind him, just as men did, but they would do so in separate rows.

Both men and women need to go to markets but they should be on their guard and not try to be too open or intimate in any way. Their going to the market is necessary and therefore the visiting of both is tolerated.

There is another aspect to this issue: age. The Qur’an gives concessions with regard to dress to aged women. It can be inferred from this that Islam does not require old women to abstain as strictly from intermixing with men as young women.

Q: Women used to go to mosques during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) but our religious scholars consider their coming to mosques a cause of mischief. Not allowed to come to mosques, they cannot benefit from lectures and lessons that are arranged there. It is strange that women can go to markets, and are not stopped, but their coming to mosques is opposed. What do you think is the right course?

A: There is no denying that women used to come to the mosques during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) — and there were separate special arrangements to receive them there. But the Prophet (pbuh) also said that women’s prayers at home are better than their prayers at the mosque. This means that while women are permitted to go to mosques, their going there is neither obligatory, nor does it merit more reward. The practice is simply permissible.

Contemporary ulema’s opposition to women’s going to mosques should be viewed in the context of today’s moral decay and chaotic environment.

Your objection is that while women are discouraged from coming to mosques, they are not stopped from going to the market. The answer to this lies in the difference between mosques and markets. The mosque is a place of worship, which requires that one should be clean, not only physically but also mentally and psychologically; one’s heart and mind should be clear from the corrupting influences of base sentiments and urges. If women made frequent visits to mosques, it would become difficult to maintain such an environment.

The market is a very different place. It is a place for exchange, and the buying and selling of material items. Unlike the mosque, there is no notion of sanctity attached to it. Thus, women may go there to buy items of daily use or for other necessary things. Notably, while they are allowed to go to the market out of necessity, it is not permissible for them to go there for fun and leisure. The Prophet (pbuh) has instructed that women should not go out of their houses unnecessarily; if they have to go out, there are certain conditions they need to observe, such as wearing simple dress, not using strong perfume, avoiding crowds, and walking on the sides of the road, etc. A Muslim woman should abide by these and other related instructions, or she would be going against Shari’ah.

As for women’s being deprived of the benefits of listening to lectures and lessons that are arranged in mosques, I think that women should be given the opportunity to benefit through special systems or arrangements. Arrangements should be made to enable them to attend Juma (Friday) and Eid prayers in order to equip them with Islamic knowledge and strengthen their Islamic spirit and sentiment.

Q: Can woman be a judge or qadi? Have women been judges during the era of the Prophet (pbuh) or during the times of the Righteous Caliphs? Or is this an ijtihadi issue (i.e., an issue requiring scholarly deliberations and resolution)?

A: The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was himself the qadi, as part of his prophetic office. He would make decisions that were final. His appointed governors and administrators decided matters in their capacity as his deputies. None of them was a woman. However, those who deliberated on Shari’ah and issued edicts during the times of the Prophet (pbuh) and the Righteous Caliphs included women. In this regard, the name of Umm-ul Muminin Hazrat A’isha (May Allah be pleased with her) is very prominent.

Islamic jurists have deliberated on whether a woman can be a judge or qadi or not. It is an ijtihadi issue. Some scholars see no justification for this. The Hanafi view is that her witness is accepted in matters other than hudud and qisas, and she can be a judge in matters where her witness is accepted. This means that, with some restrictions, she can be a judge or qadi. However, this issue needs further discussion and deliberation.

Q: Women are lagging behind men in education as well as in the economic and political spheres. To help them move ahead, a quota system is envisaged, in which 30 percent or more seats would be reserved for women in all walks of life. This system would be wrapped up when women are at par with men. The question is what would be the effects of such a strategy on society?

A: If the quota system could resolve some women’s problems and enhance their position socially and economically, it should not be opposed. However, there are many aspects and concerns that would need to be taken into consideration. One or two considerations with respect to the economic situation can be mentioned as examples.

In Pakistan, the situation of employment is unsatisfactory even for men. People are going abroad in search of employment. In these circumstances, if you reserve 30 or 50 percent seats for women, this would render or keep an equal number of men unemployed. If there is 40 percent unemployment among them now, it would jump to 70 or 80 percent and you cannot create enough new opportunities to reduce this number in the short run. Provision of employment to deserving women is a duty of the Islamic state, but if it does so by reserving a heavy proportion of seats for them, there would be extremely negative effects on the family system.
Another drawback of the quota system is that less capable people have to be recruited according to the quota at the cost of eligible and capable people. This is not good for the state. This is, of course, a delicate issue that merits serious consideration by the government, its policy makers and policy advisors.

The Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 advocated gender mainstreaming as a strategy for promoting this equality. The Platform for Action called upon Governments and the international community to take priority action for the empowerment and advancement of women besides identifying strategic objectives in twelve critical areas of concern and proposing concrete actions to be taken to achieve those objectives. And the United Nations General Assembly, which convened the twenty-third special session to follow up the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2000, enhanced the mainstreaming mandate within the United Nations. (http://www.unesco.org/ education/information/nfsunesco/pdf/BEIJIN_E.PDF)

For instance, Article 3 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) asks all state parties to take all appropriate measures, including legislation to eliminate discrimination in the political, economic, social or cultural, civil or any other field. The text of the Convention can be downloaded from the UN website (http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/ econvention.htm#article4). The Beijing Platform for Action (BPA) is also relevant.

“Men are the protectors (qawamoon) and maintainers of women because Allah has made one of them excel over the other, and because they spend out of their possessions (to support them)....” (An-Nisa 4: 34)

Islamic jurists of the past made no mention of healthcare expenses, perhaps because these were nominal in their times as most ailments were cured by home-grown treatments and medicines. Since the situation has changed considerably now, it may be assumed that it is for the man to meet the expenses of healthcare as well.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: “The most perfect believers are the best in conduct, and the best of you are those who are best to their spouses.” (Tirmidhi)
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THE EVIL OF NATIONALISM
By
the esteemed and revered scholar, Shaikh ‘Abd-ul-’Azeez Bin Baaz, may Allaah have mercy on him


Indeed, Islaam has forbidden the calls of the Days of Ignorance (jaahiliyyah). There are many textual evidences that forbid all of the characteristics and deeds of these times of Ignorance, except for those (good) practices, which Islaam has condoned. And from that which there is no doubt of, is that the call to NATIONALISM is indeed one of these calls of Jaahiliyyah. This is because nationalism is a call to something other than Islaam and a support for something other than the truth. And how many crimes, evils and severe wars has such calls of Jaahiliyyah brought about upon the people, causing great harm to their souls, their wealth and their possessions. The consequences of such calls was a break in their (Muslim) unity, a harvesting of Enmity and Hatred for one another, in their hearts, and a splitting between them into tribes and nations!

Ibn Taimiyyah (ra) said: “Everything that is foreign to the call of Islaam and the Qur’aan, with regards to lineage, land, nationality, schools of thoughts and methodologies, then that is from the calls of the Days of Ignorance (jaahiliyyah). Once the Muhaajireen and the Ansaar argued, such that one of the Muhaajireen said:’O Muhaajireen!’ (meaning, come to assist me) And one of the Ansaar said: ‘O Ansaar!’ Upon hearing this, the Prophet r said: ‘Is it with the calls of Jaahiliyyah that you cry out, while l am still amongst you?!’And he became very angry at that.”

From the textual evidences concerning this issue, is Allaah the Most High’s saying: “When those who disbelieved placed in their hearts, pride and arrogance – the pride and arrogance of the Times of Ignorance (Jaahiliyyah), then Allaah sent down His tranquillity upon His Messenger and upon the believers. ”

The Prophet r said: “Whosoever leaves off obedience and separates from the Jamaa’ah and then dies, he dies a death of (one in) the Days of Ignorance (Jaahiliyyah). Whosoever fights under the banner of the blind, becoming angry for partisanship (‘asabiyyah), calling towards it, or supporting it and then dies, he dies a death of (one in) the Days of Ignorance (Jaahiliyyah).”

In Saheeh Muslim (8/120) the Prophet r said: “lndeed, Allaah has revealed to me that you should have humbleness. And that no one should act proudly and oppressively over anyone else, nor should one boast over anyone else.”

Thus, there is no doubt that calling to nationalism is calling to partisanship (‘asabiyyah)! And it is a call towards becoming angry for the sake of this partisan group, and fighting for it. Also, there is no doubt that calling towards nationalism is a call towards transgression, pride and arrogance. This is since nationalism is NOT a way of life that was divinely revealed, which would prevent its people from oppression and proudful boasting. On the contrary, it is an ideology from the Days of (pre-Islaamic) Ignorance, which leads its adherents to bragging about their group and having fanaticism for it, even if they are oppressors and the others are the oppressed!! So O noble reader, consider this well, and the truth will be made clear to you!

Another evidence related to this, is what has been reported by At-Tirmidhee that the Messenger of Allaah r said: “Let the people stop boasting about their forefathers that have passed away – who are merely fuel for the Hellfire – or they will surely become more insignificant to Allaah than the beetle that rubs feces on its nose. Allaah has removed from you the party spirit of the Days of Ignorance and the bragging about one’s forefathers. Indeed, a person is either a pious believer or a wretched sinner. All of mankind are the children of Aadam, and Aadam was created from dirt.”.

And the Prophet r said: “Indeed there is no excellence that an Arab possesses OVER a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab. Nor is there (an excellence) of a white man over a black man, or a black man over a white man, except by TAQWAA (submissive obedience to Allaah).”

This is in accordance with Allaah the Most High’s saying: “O mankind! Truly, We have created you from male and female and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know one another. Indeed the most noblest amongst you, in the sight of Allaah, is he who has the most taqwaa.”

So Allaah, the One free from all defects, has made it clear in this noble verse that people have been made into nations and tribes so that they may come to know one other, NOT so that they could brag and be proud over one another! And Allaah, the Most High, considers the most noblest amongst them to be the one who has the most piety and taqwaa. Similarly, the hadeeth mentioned before it contains the same meaning, and it guides to the fact that it is from the customs of the Days of Ignorance (Jaahiliyyah) to proudly boast and BRAG and to have FALSE PRIDE for one’s forefathers and ancestors. This is what the calls of Ignorance lead to, whereas Islaam is in opposition to all this. Rather, Islaam calls to being modest, humble, righteous and having love for the sake of Allaah. It also indicates that the true and sincere Muslims are only one of the branches of the children of Aadam, and that the Muslims are a single body and a single structure; each part supporting the other and each part feeling the pain that the other parts are suffering. This is as occurs in an authentic hadeeth where the Prophet r said: “A believer (in regards to) to another believer is like a solid building, one part supports the other.” – and then he interlaced his fingers to demonstrate this.

The Prophet r also said: “The example of the believers in their mutual love and mercy for one another is like the example of a body, if one part of the body feels pain, then all the body suffers in sleeplessness and fever.”

O people!! I call to you in the name of Allaah. Does your nationalism direct you to these noble manners of mercy and kindness for the Muslims – both Arabs and non-Arabs – and of having mutual sympathy and concern for them, and feeling pain when they experiance pain? NO, by Allaah!! Rather, it directs you to having devotion to those with evil manners and it calls you to breeding animosity and hatred for those who reject this false belief of nationalism. So beware, O Muslim who desires safety and salvation, and consider the reality of this matter with fair consideration, without being prejudiced by party spirit and desires!! Only then you will see the reality as it truly is. So may Allaah guide me and you to the means of safety and salvation.

And it is reported by Imaam Al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh (8/137), that a young man from the Muhaajireen and a young man from the Ansaar once argued, so the Muhaajir said: “O Muhaajireen! (meaning, come help me)”, whereas the Ansaaree said: “O Ansaar!” When the Prophet r heard this, he said: “Is it with the calls of Jaahiliyyah that you cry out, while l am still amongst you??!!”

The terms Muhaajieen and Ansaar are ascriptions that Allaah, the One free from all defects, loves. And He has praised these two groups very highly, in His saying: “And the first to embrace Islaam from the Muhaajireen and the Ansaar, and those who followed them in righteousness, belief and actions. Allaah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens of Paradise, beneath which rivers flow, to live therein forever. That is the supreme achievement.”

However, in the above incident, this ascription to the Muhaajireen and seeking help from them, and ascription to the Ansaar and seeking help from them, was considered to be from the CALLS OF IGNORANCE (Jaahiliyyah)! So what about those who adhere to nationalism and look for support from that and become angry for the sake of it??!! Is it not more befitting that this be considered one of the calls of Ignorance?! This is a matter about which there is no doubt, and indeed it is one of the clearest of all matters.

And it has been established in the authentic hadeeth of Al-Haarith Al-Ash’aree t, that the Prophet r said: “I command you with five things that Allaah commanded me with: (Sticking to) the Jamaa’ah, hearing, obeying, Hijrah (migration) and Jihaad in the Way of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. So whosoever separates from the Jamaa’ah by a handspan, he throws the yoke of Islaam from his neck, unless he repents. And whosoever calls with the call of the Days of Ignorance (Jaahiliyyah), then he is from the hoarded heap of the HELLFIRE!” It was said: “Even if he fasts and prays?” So he r said: “Even if he fasts and prays. So call (one another) with the call of Allaah that Allaah gave: ‘the Muslims’, ‘the Believers’, ‘Slaves of Allaah. ‘”

This hadeeth is absolutely clear with regards to debasing the call to nationalism. Those who call towards it deserve to be amongst the hoarded heap of the Hellfire, even if they fast and pray and claim they are Muslims!! So look at what a harsh threat and severe warning is being given here! It is warning every Muslim from the calls of the Days of Ignorance and from ambarking on it, even though such calls may be beautified with false speech and enchanting words. Rather, NATIONALISM is a deception and a form of blind following which leads its afherents to the WORST and most DETESTABLE of consequences! And we ask Allaah to free us and save us from that.
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Problems of the Ummah: Role of Ulama & Intellectuals

The world of Islam today is passing through a critical period of its history. We are confronted with many problems and find ourselves in a limbo, between aspirations and despair. We, therefore, need to locate the key problems the Muslim nation(Muslim Ummah) faces today and identify our duties.

If we are really sincere and determined to overcome the problems facing Muslims worldwide, we need cooperation between the different sectors of Muslim societies. What is particularly needed is teamwork and dialogue between the thinkers (Mufakkirs) and traditional religious scholars (Alims – in Arabic pl. Ulama) of Islam. While the Ulama are better versed in the permissibility or forbidden nature of a certain act, the Mufakkirs are advanced in the field of ideas even if they are not fully conversant with Islamic Laws (Shariah) and regulations concerning the various forms of worship. The Mufakkirs deeply contemplate the problems the Muslim Ummah faces today. Hence the Alims need the opinion of the thinkers. The thinkers, on the other hand, require the opinion of the Alims. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, for instance, is not considered to be an Alim but a Mufakkir of Islam. He was a pioneering thinker of Islam. In a similar vein, Dr. Ali Shariati of Iran was a far greater thinker than many contemporary Alims. Syed Qutb, too, was a remarkable thinker of Islam. He is considered a Mufakkir rather than an Alim. Likewise, Dr. Khurshid Ahmed of Pakistan, Dr. Hasan Zaman, and Dr. Syed Sajjad Husain of Bangladesh are Mufakkirs or thinkers. What we need is an interaction between such thinkers (Mufakkirs) with the traditional religious experts (Alims). The Alims will identify the limits of Islam that cannot be crossed in matters of permissibility and prohibition (halal and haram). The Mufakkirs, on the other hand, will try to find solutions within these prescribed limits. At the same time, the Alims must realize that the Mufakkirs have thoroughly studied the outstanding problems plaguing the world today, in their various depths and dimensions. If a synthesis between the expertise of the scholars (Alims) and the ideas of the thinkers (Mufakkirs) can be attained, only then is it possible to arrive at a pragmatic and realistic solution to these problems. We, therefore, need close cooperation and collaboration between these two different and yet interdependent groups of people.

If we really want to serve the cause of Islam in a meaningful way in today’s world, and respond effectively to the ills of our times, we must be aware of contemporary problems. The philosophical problems the earlier Muslim generations faced, notably the conflict between the Mutazilites and the Asharites, which continued for more than two centuries, are no longer relevant today. During the last century, we confronted the ideologies of socialism, capitalism, secularism, and the ideas of Darwin and Freud and these continue to be significant issues until today. Our seminaries (Madrasas), however, continue to teach the philosophy of the Mutazilites and Asharites and other ancient philosophical issues. They do not teach philosophical issues of current significance. The old issues no longer pertain to the world we inhabit today. The literature on such topics can remain in the Madrasa libraries as reference books. Such topics should not be part of the contents of present-day Mardasa text books, which should engage contemporary issues, those burning philosophical questions and difficulties of the day mentioned above.

Today, a great deal of change has become apparent in the realm of politics. Parliamentary system has been introduced. The ballots are now being cast in secret. Issues such as those concerning the decentralization of power, federal structure of the government which shares powers with the autonomous units, the delegation of power to regional government, etc. have come to the forefront. These issues and concepts are completely new and therefore not discussed in the old books of Fiqh (books on law). The earlier Fiqh books do not contain any discussion, for instance, on election or the separation of power among the three organs of the government as these are also new concepts. Previously the elite used to dominate politics and the public did not play an important role. The situation is quite different today. Today, with the strengthening of civil society, the people play a central role embodied in the elections even though the elite continue to play a significant role as well.

Likewise, a good deal of change has taken place in the economic arena. Earlier, concepts like Central Bank, Monetary Policy, Inflation, etc. were absent. If we are not adequately familiar with developments in this field, we shall not be able to arrive at the most judicious decisions. Against this backdrop, it is essential to attain knowledge of modern Economics and modern Political Science.

Here, we may cite the contributions of the eminent thinker (Mufakkir) Dr. AbdulHamid A. Abu Sulayman, who was Rector of the International Islamic University, Malaysia and now the President of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, USA. He has discussed in great detail the crisis prevalent in the Muslim World. The crisis today has become more critical than it was 10-15 years ago. In his book Crisis in the Muslim Mind, Dr. AbdulHamid opined that a blind imitation of the West is not desirable from an Islamic perspective. This will also not be acceptable to the common Muslim. No nation can become great by emulating others in a wholesale fashion. Such a people cannot become a leading nation in the world.

One view is that we must follow the earlier generations of Mulims, imitate the way the Abbasids and the Umayyads solved their problems, the way jurists (Fuqaha) solved their problems some 1200 years ago. Dr. AbdulHamid argues that this is neither possible nor practical. Many changes have occurred in many spheres of life – in politics, economics, administration and communication- and the solution to today’s shifting problems cannot be found in the practices of the earlier generations or opinions of the Fuqaha of bygone times. He suggests that we must devise fresh solutions to contemporary problems in the light of the Quran and Sunnah. We must identify the problems of the Muslim Ummah, evaluate the nature, depth and dimension of each crisis adequately, and then craft solutions while maintaining the centrality of Islamic precepts to our considerations. In designing these solutions, we must utilize our intellect and resort to the methodology of Ijtihad. In his seminal book, Dr. AbdulHamid terms this approach, which he deems to be the most adequate for tackling contemporary problems, the “Asala approach” or “the original approach.”

I suggest that the ideas of Dr. Abdul Hamid merit serious consideration and implementation. He has underscored the importance of considering the specificities of time and place. With the passage of time, circumstances change, and circumstance or context, is a crucial factor in deciding matters of gravity. We should, therefore, try to find the ruling of the Quran and Sunnah on a particular problem or issue giving due importance to issues of time and space.

Dr. Abdul Hamid further stressed the importance of rewriting the social sciences in the light of Islam. The subject of reconceptualizing the social sciences did not make much headway and progress in the hands of the Muslims. We must develop the social sciences further, taking inspiration from Islamic principles. This requires a serious investment of time and labor on our part. The International Islamic University Malaysia has begun questioning the conventional premises of the social sciences. Other Islamic universities are also committed to revamping or restructuring social scientific thought and approaches.

Bangladesh, today, is facing numerous problems. One of the major problems we face is poverty. The alleviation of poverty is no easy task. Some think that we can ameliorate poverty by simply establishing Zakah. However, I feel that this problem is a complex one and requires a complex, multifaceted strategy. In my article ‘Poverty Alleviation: Islamic Perspective,’ I have emphasized that we must simultaneously establish Zakah, restore endowment (Wakf), and utilise monetary and fiscal policy and banking system in a harmonious, well-coordinated manner with the objective of attaining overall economic development. Only such a polyphonic approach can help us combat poverty effectively in today’s world.

Education comes next. This is one of the primary problems plaguing Bangladesh. We must craft an education policy in the light of the basic tenets of Islam. Since the existing educational curriculum fails to meet the requirements of Islam, it must be recast. The Alims should play a constructive and meaningful role in the reform of education in the interest of the nation of Bangladesh. The first step they must take towards undertaking this project is carefully considering the work already done in this field by the International Islamic University in Malaysia, the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, and the International Islamic University in Chittagong, Bangladesh. In these seats of learning, students are required to study specialized Islamic courses - notable among them are the Quran, Islamic Studies, Fiqh, Arabic Language, Islamic Economics etc. - along with other modern subjects. The students, thus, acquire a basic knowledge of Islam alongside knowledge of the subjects in their field of specialization. In this way, the existing curriculum is being gradually modified, refined, and restructured. The future curricula of the Muslim World may take shape following the above outline in due course. Therefore, we can consider the curriculum of the International Islamic University in Malaysia, the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, and the International Islamic University in Chittagong, Bangladesh to constitute models for other institutions of higher education to follow.

The Madrasa (religious schools / colleges of the sub-continent) education will carry great weight only if it plays a meaningful role in preparing people who can effectively administer contemporary civic institutions and the economy. Should we wish to make the Madrasa part of the mainstream general education, we must consider this matter of reforming Madrasa education carefully. The students now graduating from the Madrasas are not capable of running either the economic sector or the administrative sector of a country successfully. These students have neither studied Business Administration nor Economics nor Political Science/Government nor Public Administration. We can resolve this problem and improve the situation in the Alia Madrasa (one of the two types of Madrasas in Bangladesh) by introducing three additional options / degrees along with the existing four degrees (Kamils) at the graduation level. Out of the total sixteen years’ curriculum, we can keep the first twelve years curriculum more or less intact and introduce new subjects into the course curriculum for the last four years (Fazil and Kamil courses). The existing degrees of Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh and Adab may remain. We have to introduce three-four more degrees at the Kamil level (15th and 16th year of study) notably Economics, Business Administration, and Public Administration. This means, in the first twelve years, students will acquire knowledge of Islam in the same way as before and in the later four years they will study contemporary subjects such as Economics or Business Administration or Public Administration to fulfil requirements for the Kamil degree. If we can conduct this project of revision successfully, the Madarasas should become capable of producing persons skilled in knowledges of both worlds and hence better able to serve their country and the Muslim community.

The Qaumi Madrasas (the Madrasas that follow the Deobond regimen), in the same way, confer degrees on Fiqh, Hadith, Tafsir and Arabic Language, and the degree is called Dawra. We should introduce at least two more Dawras, notably Dawra-e-Iqtesad and Dawra-e-Business Administration. The course curriculum of the first twelve years here too may remain unchanged. The new Dawras would be added to the course content for the last four years only. If we are able to introduce these two new subjects in the curriculum of the Qaumi Madrasas, these educational institutions will also produce eminent Alims who shall be simultaneously capable of fulfilling the general economic and administrative needs of the societ. If we can make these changes, we shall be well on our way towards unifying the madrasa and the modern educational systems.

Another problem the Muslim Ummah is facing is that of extremism or radicalism. Islam certainly does not propound the way of extremism, but that of the middle-path or the balanced path Some twenty years following the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the Khawarij emerged as a radical current among the earlier Muslims. Extremist in religious belief and political thinking, the Khawarij were rejected by the mainstream of the Ummah. Even today, there are religious groups that adopt extreme views on socio-political and religious issues.

We must be very cautious about these extremist groups and make Muslims aware of their activities so that the Muslim Ummah may be protected from the negative effects of the extremist approach. Extremism thrives when people become preoccupied with very small matters, minor and side issues, ignoring or neglecting the fundamental issues. Such a problem arises when we fail to derive lessons from history and do not possess sufficient knowledge and understanding of the Shariah and other related subjects. There is no doubt that the welfare of the Ummah lies in avoiding the extreme path. Extremism has led to the suffering of Muslims in different countries around the world.(Reference:Islamic Awakening between Rejection and Extremism by Dr. Qaradawi)

The social condition of women is another key issue. Many eminent Alims and Islamic scholars have spoken about the rights of women. We can mention here the names of a few who have spoken with particular eloquence and insight on this issue, such as Prof. Dr. Yusuf Al Qaradawi, Dean of the Faculty of Shariah, Qatar University; Dr. Jamal A. Badwi, Chairman, Islamic Information Foundation, Canada; Sheikh Abdul Halim Abu Shuqqah, eminent leader of the Ikhwanul Muslimeen (the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt); Dr. Hasan Turabi, ideologue of the Sudanese Islamic Movement, to name only a few. They have argued that Muslims cannot advance unless women are given the honor and support due to them. It is not possible to make progress leaving behind half of the members of the society. They have therefore stressed the importance of involving women in an entire range of Islamic activities and ensuring that the various rights of women are practiced and protected. While women can clearly acquire a great deal of knowledge about Islam through attending mosques, some people continue to debate the rights of women to attend mosques. We should, therefore, try to understand and seriously consider the various problems faced by women today and the Alims should take an initiative in aiding women so that the latter can move forward.

Misinterpretation is another problem looming before us. Large numbers of translations of the Quran and Hadith compilation are available in the market today. Naturally people read them and many questions arise on different issues in the minds of these readers, who then become inclined to respond to these questions themselves even though these readers are not well versed in the underlying principles and and methods of interpretation (Usul). Those who want to judiciously interpret the Quran and Hadith must, therefore, acquire knowledge of the Usul al Fiqh. They have to read books on Usul al Fiqh that are accessible to the lay public. High-quality authentic books on the subject need to be translated in local languages from Arabic and circulated and publicized widely. The teachings of such books must be disseminated to all those who intend to study Islam from the original sources and cultivate the capacity of interpretation. Otherwise, individual efforts to interpret will create confusion within the polity, particularly by those who try to interpret by reading translations alone. The Alims need to pay attention to this matter and help disseminate the knowledge of Usul.

Likewise, we should also try to bring an end to the debate over democracy. We know that there is no place for dictatorship or autocracy or monarchy in Islam. The vast majority of Islamic parties and movements around the world are struggling for democratic rights today. They consider election as the most legitimate instrument to effect changes in government. They demand legal rights so that they can participate in the fruits of civic and political rights. If any restriction is imposed on the functioning of Islamic parties, they turn to the law and file petitions with the Court so that they are allowed to function as a legitimate and law -abiding organization. During the days of unified Pakistan, one political party was banned. That party fought a long legal battle all the way up to the Supreme Court of Pakistan where it won its case. In other words, this Islamic party determinedly sought to secure its democratic right to function as a legal political party.

Islamic parties in different countries are trying to reform the government by participating in democratic elections. All eminent Islamic political scientists think that subject to the sovereignty of Allah, democracy constitutes an adequate method for establishing an Islamic state. The modern democratic process, in fact, can be understood to be an elaboration of the principles of Shura and Khilafah. What is the Khilafah? Khilafah means representation. It means a beneficial, consultative government of the people through representation of the Divine. We are all vicegerents (Khalifh) of Allah and must understand that when we talk of democracy, we mean government under the suzerainty of Allah and through consultation with the people. What I am hinting at here is Islamic Democracy. This concept does not cohere completely with the model of Western democracy but the two do have common ground. If this concept is not clarififed, some people are likely to provide opportunities for dictatorial parties to seize power. This will benefit the enemies of Islam. All the Alims of Pakistan supported Fatima Jinnah against the candidacy of Field Marshal Ayub Khan in the 1965 presidential elections on account of her promise to restore democracy. Regrettably, some of us tend to have very short memories indeed and are now adopting extreme positions against the consensus of the Islamic scholars and Alims of the past. Such a move will undoubtedly cause much harm in the long run.
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