Archive for the ‘Q&A’ Category

The Death Penalty–Just in Theory, Unjust in Application

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Here is my response to a set of questions about the death penalty posed by a Virginia high school student.

Q. What do you believe about the death penalty?

A. I believe that the death penalty should only be applied as a punishment for willful murder or for widespread criminal activity of a most serious nature, such as terrorism. However, because the criminal system in the United States has been unable to enforce the death penalty in a fair handed manner, especially as regards the racial and ethnic backgrounds of the perpetrators, and because of the frequency with which people have been convicted of capital crimes and later shown to have been innocent, I believe that there should be a moratorium on the death penalty until such time as these flaws in the system can be fixed.

Q. Why do you believe what you do? How did you come to this position? What were the influences in forming your beliefs?

A. Among the factors that have contributed to the development of my present position are the teachings of my religion (Islam) and my familiarity with the criminal justice system.  “… [I]f anyone killed a person, unless it is for murder or for spreading terror in the land, it would be as if he killed a whole people, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of a whole people.” (Qur’an 5:32)

Q. Do you see any problems with your point of view?

A. The only problem I see with my view is that it is vulnerable to skepticism that the flaws in the justice system that make the death penalty so unfair at this time may not be fixable.

Q. How do you explain the perspective of those who think differently from you? Do you see inconsistencies or problems with their point of view? Do you associate with persons who believe differently? Can you respect their beliefs?

A. I believe that people who disagree with me in most cases are starting from different premises. Were I to accept those premises I would have to change my view. For example, one might reasonably argue that lifetime imprisonment is a harsher punishment than death for some people. In most cases I can respect their points of view. On the other hand, I do confess to seeing in inconsistency in the views of establishment “liberals” who oppose the death penalty for the guilty, but have no problems with the slaughter of innocent and guilty alike by war.Q. Can you give me any stories, references or other resources to help me with my research?

A. I recommend that you search the Internet for examples of cases of people who were sentenced to life imprisonment for capital crimes of which they were subsequently found innocent. Had they been executed, they would’ve had no means of redress.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
President
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

 

Q&A: The Truth About Zabiha (“Halal”) Meat

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Q: I received an email of concern from a Christian reverend who wants to get some correct information that he can print in his newsletter regarding what is halal in Islam. This is in response to what he sees as anti-Islam bigotry that has been circulating among some people on the subject of halal and the purported harmful nature of halal products. As far as he is concerned, halal rules are similar to kashrut/kosher law. He cannot therefore understand the purpose of all this attack. He would like some help in answering the bigots who are spewing this stuff…. He would like a few or several paragraph response to what [such attacks] so that he can print this corrective information in his interfaith newsletter.

A. For a lengthy answer contact the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce Inc.  This is a quick response:

Halal is like the Jewish concept of kosher although not as complicated. The Islamic method of slaughter strictly prohibits the conception of carrion such as the already dead animals your correspondent accuses Muslim butchers of using and explicitly prohibits cruelty to the food animals. The accusations of excessive violations of food codes are imaginary. When I instructed a hotel hosting an event of ours to use a Halal Butcher for the dinner they inspected the shop themselves and told me that they had NEVER BEFORE SEEN SUCH A CLEAN BUTCHER SHOP and were considering using it for all their catered dinners.

The Qur’an spells out clearly what is halal in the opening verses of Surah 5 (The Tablespread, a reference to the miracle of Jesus, peace be upon him, of the loaves and fishes):

1              O ye who believe! fulfil (all) obligations. Lawful unto you (for food) are all four-footed animals with the exceptions named: but animals of the chase are forbidden while ye are in the Sacred Precincts or in pilgrim garb: for God doth command according to His Will and Plan.

2              O ye who believe! violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of God nor of the Sacred Month nor of the animals brought for sacrifice nor the garlands that mark out such animals nor the people resorting to the Sacred House seeking of the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when ye are clear of the Sacred Precincts and of pilgrim garb ye may hunt and let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part).  Help ye one another in righteousness and piety but help ye not one another in sin and rancor: fear God: for God is strict in punishment.

3              Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat blood the flesh of swine and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than God that which hath been killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a headlong fall or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety.  This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me.  This day have I perfected your religion for you completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.  But if any forced by hunger with no inclination to transgression God is indeed Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.

4              They ask thee what is lawful to them (as food): say: Lawful unto you are (all) things good and pure: and what ye have taught your trained hunting animals (to catch) in the manner directed to you by God; eat what they catch for you but pronounce the name of God over it: and fear God; for God is swift in taking account.

5              This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you.  The food of the People of the Book [i.e., Jews and Christians] is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

Condemning Terrorism in the Levant

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

[A listener to my interview with Scott Horton on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict submitted the following question.]

Q. I would like to know your views on Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah and if you denounce the groups as terrorist, genocidal organizations. Furthermore, I am also curious to know if you condemn all three group’s calling for the destruction of Israel and their simultaneous wanting to slaughter of the Jews.

A. The three organizations about which you ask are significantly different from one another.

Hezbollah has not engaged in any acts of terrorism in an extremely long time, so it could not be said to now be a terrorist organization.

Hamas did not engage in single act of terrorism until Baruch Goldstein massacred the worshipers at prayer in Hebron. Hamas broadened its target’s not so much for Goldstein’s slaughter of 29 innocents, but for the IDF murders of the noncombatant demonstrators protesting the massacre. Yes, I condemn Hamas’s decision to adopt the tactics of their oppressors. Yet defenders of Israel who condemn those acts by Hamas refused to condemn (or even mention, usually) the provocations that spawned them. In fact, Hamas has repeatedly offered to end all acts against civilians if Israel would end its policy of shooting down Palestinian civilians, an offer which has only elicited the consistent Israeli response, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

I condemn terrorism on both sides. However, I do not call either Hamas or Israel a terrorist organization because both insist that they do not intentionally target innocents. See, for example, the response of both to the Goldstone Report that charges that Hamas killed three civilians and the IDF killed over 1,000 civilians during the invasion of Gaza. Both insisted that the deaths attributed to them were not intentional. A real terrorist organization, like al-Qaeda, is not embarrassed by civilian deaths and makes no effort to mask it as a “mistake” (as does Hamas) or “collateral damage” (as does Israel).

I do condemn Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization because it shows little or no embarrassment over the civilian deaths for which it is responsible. Even so, a massacre is not necessarily an act of genocide. None of these organizations is genocidal unless you wish to reduce the standard for genocide to the point that Israel itself, which kills ten times as many children as have all Palestinian groups combined, is also genocidal. In their own minds Palestinians may excuse the killing of Israelis as the defense against marauders and in their own minds Israelis may excuse the killing of Palestinians as defense against terrorists, but no little child was ever a marauder or a terrorist. I do not believe that even Israel, with its horrifying record of child-killing, is deliberately seeking to murder ALL Palestinians and thus their actions while morally reprehensible and ethically unjustifiable, they fall short of genocide. Of course, others may have a different threshold for what is genocide, but to have different thresholds for Muslims than for Jews is simply hypocrisy.

As to calls for the destruction of Israel, one must distinguish between the destruction of a state by democratic or peaceful means and destruction of a people by aggression. No state has any right to exist except by the consent of the governed. Israel came into existence not by the consent of the inhabitants of the land, by the pretense that the indigenous people of the land then called Palestine did not really exist and the enthusiastic endorsement by the founding fathers of modern Israel (Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett) of the policy of “ethnic transfer” to rid the land of its non-Jewish inhabitants.This policy is echoed in Netanyahu’s protests that allowing Palestinians to return to their homes would mean the “destruction of Israel.” Perhaps it would, but it would be by a peaceful and democratic means. It was Meir Kahane, the founder of the terrorist Jewish Defense League who embarrassed moderate Zioinsts by stating bluntly what those such as Netanyahu say by indirection: a state that is mostly non-Jews cannot be a Jewish state and a democracy at the same time.

Your last question is a trick question, because it is the premised on the fallacy that Hamas calls for the slaughter of the Jews. I condemn Hamas’s charter because of its call that all Palestine be considered Islamic endowment, a mirror image of Israel’s appalling founding demand that the land be a “Jewish state” from the river to the sea. Hamas’s call for a prohibition of Jewish ownership of Palestinian land is as appalling to me as the Jewish National Fund’s call for the prohibition of Muslim (and Christian) ownership of land. However, the Hamas charter contains no call for the destruction of the Jewish people. Accusations to the contrary, like accusations that all Zionists advocate the slaughter of all Muslims, are unfounded, shameful,.and serve no purpose but to pose obstacles to peace and reconciliation. Despite the flaws in the Hamas charter, we must give acknowledge the fact that it explicitly permits Jews who wish to live in peace under a Palestinian state to be allowed to remain in the land. Like most Palestinians I do not agree with the second class status that it would impose on the Jews (the PLO charter gives equal rights to Christians, Jews and Muslims), but I don;t close my eyes to the fact that a similar second class status is imposed by Israel on its Muslim and Christian citizens, under the euphemism of “national rights. Not only does Netanyahu defend the class B citizenship implicit in “national rights,” he actually recently criticized Mahmoud Abbas for declining adopt such a policy for any future Palestinian state!

For a factual analysis of Hamas’s good and bad points, see the US Institute of Peace report by Paul Scham and Osama Abu-Irshid: “Hamas: Ideological Rigidity and Political Flexibility”.

May God guide you closer to the truth.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

Guantanamo Bay Detainment Center

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Posed by Terri Friedman
The Beacon, University of Tennessee

Q. The Daily Beacon, Knoxville, Tennessee, would very much appreciate any comments from your organization, on the ongoing controversy at Guantanamo Bay
detainment center.

A. Concerned as all human beings must be over allegations regarding conditions at Guantanamo Bay detainment center, what should be of most concern to Americans is the attitude taken by the administration and its defenders. At the same time that they insist that the Geneva conventions don’t apply, they insist that any transgressions that may have occurred should, like the disgraceful conduct at Abu Ghraib, be blamed solely on the lower level soldiers and not on the senior officials who established a policy that condones torture.

Most chilling, is the complete lack of concern for whether the detainees are guilty or innocent. No formal charge has been made against them, and their designation that they are “enemy combatants” has been unproven despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that such allegations must be subject to some kind of judicial review. The administration seems proud of the fact that it has released a few dozen of the 500 (after years of incarceration without cause) but unconcerned that most of the others may also be innocent, even of being enemy combatants let alone of the terrorism.

There is an enormous amount of chutzpah in the unrelenting pressure the administration exerted against Newsweek to leverage a technical error in its article exposing some of the abuses into a retraction of the whole article when more flagrant deceptions regarding Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the rationale for the war on Iraq (as demonstrated by the scandal of the Downing Street memo) are dismissed as irrelevant. Finally, it is important to note that the administration has indicated in the Padilla case that it does not consider itself restricted to non-citizens in selecting its targets for extra-judicial treatment.

We propose that the government immediately review the status of the detainees and formally charge any who are indictable of a crime, and either release or classify as a prisoner of war any who are not indictable. Those charged with crimes should then be indicted and given a speedy trial. Those held as POWs should be accorded their rights under the Geneva conventions and International Law. Those who are released should be given an apology for being held without just cause. Finally, the world community needs to immediately address the issue of the threat of indefinite detention of prisoners of war. It is not only a question that affects the detainees at Guantanamo, but Americans and others being held in Iraq. People from all over the world are subject to the risk of being held hostage on unsubstantiated suspicion of being somebody’s “enemy.”

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

Sandra Day O’Connor’s Resignation

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Posed by Javier Méndez.
El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile

Q. Regarding the resignation of Sandra Day O’Connor, what are your comments on the political battle over the appointment of her successor? In particular, will Bush try to appoint a more conservative member and will the focus be on the death penalty and abortion?.

A. We are very sad to hear of Justice O’Connor’s resignation. She has been the most articulate and reasoned supporter of both religious freedom and individual rights on the current Court.

We deplore the perversion of the word “conservative” in recent times. It is Justice O’Connor who upheld the principles of conservatism in her decisions against the abuse of eminent domain in the New London case and against the state governments’ violations of religious freedom in the Smith and Boerne cases. She has been the true conservative on the Supreme Court and our greatest fear is that her voice of conservatism will be replaced by a voice for “neo” (or sham) conservatism, that is “big government” or “imperial” conservatism.

No doubt the debate over Justice O’Connor’s replacement will focus on the death penalty and abortion; it is our sincere prayer that commentators and Congress would instead focus on more basic issues, such as a prospective nominee’s position on whether or not the U.S. Constitution is, as one Republican leader is quoted to have said, “obsolete,” or whether such provisions as the one prohibiting use of eminent domain gain or the one requiring that only Congress may declare war still stand, the guarantee of all persons (not just citizens) to due process of law, and whether freedom of religion is or is not a fundamental human right.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

Terrorist Attacks in Jordan

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Posed by Dan Karlini

Q. The multiple bombings in Jordan leave me confused. Assuming you’re right, and the battle is between moderate and extremist Muslims, does this event represent an escalation driven by strength or increasing influence, or was it an act of desperation suggestive of decreasing influence?

A. There is no doubt that this is between moderate and extremist Muslims. Credit for the attack has been taken by Zarqawi while the victims are mostly neither “Jews nor Crusaders” (of Zarqawi’s bigotted sloganeering), but moderate Muslims. (Among the fatalities was moviemaker Moustapha Akkad, most famous for the Halloween movie series, which made him rich, but whose real love was his historical religious movies like “The Message” and “The Lion of the Desert.” I recommend both of those movies for an insight into the minds of moderate Muslims). As for what this event signifies, I believe it signifies an escalation due to the strategic advantage handed to the extremists by the American occupation of Iraq. Zarqawi had targeted such hotels in the past but there were strategic problems in the limitations on his ability to train people and to convince people of the justice of his cause. Iraq has provided him with an ideal base of operations (terrorists have distance from Jordanian police while retaining easy access to Jordan from Iraq) as well as a propaganda opportunity for recruitment. The alternative explanation that it represents the last desperate throes of a force in defeat is as far-fetched as similar claims regarding the resistance in Iraq. On the one hand every month in delay of withdrawal from Iraq pumps more blood into the arteries of the terrorist monster. On the other hand, a precipitous withdrawal will make an Iraqi civil war more likely. This unhappy dilemma was the inevitable consequence of an ill-advised invasion not in the interests of America or the moderates of any nationality or religion.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

Freedom House Allegations of Extremism in American Mosques

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Posed by John McAlister

Q. I would love to get your take on the “Global Jihad” article on worldnetdaily based on a Freedom House report  (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42603).

A. A considerable number of Saudi (Wahabi) preachers hold the views described in the article “Global Jihad” and they do promote their ideas abroad, sometimes get support from the Saudi government, and have a small but scary following outside the country. Further, many of the violent extremists who have obtained so much bad press for Muslims lately have been in part inspired by such preachers (as well as some from our other U.S. government ally Egypt).

Having said that, however, I must say that I find the exaggerated tone and spin in the article and the sloppiness of the report on which it is based appalling, especially insofar as it contradicts the fact that the number of American Muslims who buy in to this view is miniscule and some of the mosques mentioned in the report have policies completely opposed to the views the article seeks to associate with them. Even Joe McCarthy never claimed that owning a copy of Das Kapital in your library made you a Marxist!

Here are some specific comments:

Many Wahabis do believe it is forbidden to be friends with Christians and Jews, but this is not necessarily a call for “hatred” of Christians and Jews. The Qur’an demands that Muslims be tolerant of the People of the Book and makes clear that there is no reason not to be kind and just to those who do not fight against Muslims. Of course, there are some Christians and Jews who feel they have a religious obligation to fight against Muslims (perhaps former CIA man James Woolsey is amongst them).

It is sad that Freedom House would choose to attack the Wahabis for having doubts about democracy. Anyone who believes in moral absolutes (including liberty) will have doubts about a system in which people can make up laws willy-nilly. Substitute “libertarian” for “Wahabi” and get: “[Libertarian] documents promote contempt for the United States because it is ruled by legislated  civil law rather than by libertarian natural law. They condemn democracy as unlibertarian.” I am not denying the authoritarian nature of the Saudi system (totalitarian, however, is an overstatement, given their jealous protection of the right of privacy), simply saying that opposition to human-invented positive law is not necessarily authoritarian, let alone totalitarian.

The article suggests that the millions of Muslim immigrants to the United States are here not because they like America better than their homelands, but because they are actively seeking to destroy our country. This will be cognized as palpable nonsense by any American not too bigoted or narrow-minded to have Muslim friends and acquaintances.  The notion that naturalized Muslim Americans are religiously opposed to becoming naturalized American citizens is a self-contradiction.

American Muslims do not condemn Sufis or Shi`a. While one can find the same kind of sectarianism between American Sunnis and Shi`as as divides American Catholics and Protestants, American Muslims are very open to Sufi ideas. While it is unfortunate in the extreme that some Muslims can’t distinguish between opposing the Israeli apartheid and opposing Jews, the authors of the article demonstrate a similar lack of discernment when they lump together opposition to Israel with belief in the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Some of the same mosques which they accuse of possessing literature that condemn participation in the American political process are leading the voter registration drives among Muslims. The bottom line is that this article and the report on which it is based do not have their sights trained on the Saudi extremists who write and promote intolerance, but on the Muslim mosques that they claim have these books in their libraries (for whatever reasons). In other words their target is not intolerance, but freedom of expression. The effect of such articles and reports is not to decrease Muslim bigotry, but increase bigotry against Muslims.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

Is Islam Balanced?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Posed by Richard B. Boddie

Q. Where is the “balance” in Islam (re: killing, etc. )?

A. The balance is in the Qur’an:

“To those against whom war is made permission is given (to fight) because they are wronged and verily God is Most powerful for their aid. (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right (for no cause) except that they say ‘Our Lord is God.’ Did not God check one set of people by means of another there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure. God will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily God is Full of Strength Exalted in Might (Able to enforce His Will).” (22:39-40)

“Fight in the cause of God those who fight you but do not aggress; for God loves not aggressors. And slay them wherever you catch them and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you slay them.  Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease God is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.” (2:190-193)

“Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power including steeds of war to deter the enemies of God and your enemies and others besides whom you may not know but whom God knows.  Whatever you shall spend in the cause of God shall be repaid unto you and you shall not be treated unjustly. But if the enemy incline towards peace do you (also) incline towards peace and trust in God: for He is the one that hears and knows (all things). Should they intend to deceive you truly God is sufficient for you: He it is that has strengthened you with his aid and with (the company of) the believers. And (moreover) He has put affection between their hearts: not if you had spent all that is in the earth could you have produced that affection but God has done it: for He is Exalted in might Wise.” (8:60-63)

“And the Firmament has He raised high and He has set up the balance (of Justice) in order that you may not transgress (due) balance. So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance.” (55:7-9)

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

Questions on Women

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Posed by Christina Tucholski

Q. Does the U.S. or U.N. have the right to intervene internationally in countries where women’s rights are disregarded?

A. No nation has a right to intervene into the internal affairs of other nations. The United States is no exception.  When nations join the United Nations they agree to adhere to certain standards of human rights.  Should they fail to abide by these standards, complaints may be lodged against them and dealt with in accordance with the standards to which they have subscribed. While this is beyond my particular area of expertise, you may find an outline of the process at: http://www.droitshumains.org/uni/Formation/Images/spdh_a.pdf.

Q. Ibn Warraq, Muslim critic and author of Why I Am Not a Muslim, stated that, “Islam has always considered women as creatures inferior in every way: physically, intellectually, and morally.” He uses the following verse from the Koran to support his opinion, “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other” (4.34). How would you defend Islam against people such as Warraq?

A. Ibn Warraq, by his own account, is NOT a Muslim. On this issue he is also completely wrong. Let us begin with his mistranslation of the Qur’anic verse fragment. First let us note the context. It follows the verse saying that all near relations (in other words, women as well as men) are entitled to a share in the inheritance and immediately precedes the verse urging arbitration between husbands and wives who are on the verge of a breakup. Transliterated from the Arabic, it reads:  “ar-rijaalu qawwaamuuna `ala-nnisaa’i bimaa faDDal allahu ba`Dahum `ala ba`Din wa bimaa anfiquu min amwaalihim. ”  The literal meaning of these words are:  “The men caretakers over the women in that gifted God more some of them over some and in that they (masc.) support them (fem.) from their (masc.) wealth.”   Putting this into correct English syntax it reads: “Men are maintainers of women because God has given the one more than the other.” Recall now that the context is inheritance law and Islam has overthrown Arab tradition by giving women a share of the inheritance. The verse is explaining the principle of equity behind requiring men to support women out of their share. God is saying it is only fair that men support women since they have been given a bigger share of the inheritance under Islamic law.  (Not to mention that in modern America married men earn almost double the wages of married women in similar positions.)  The woman’s share, though smaller (though not in all cases) belongs totally to the woman and she is not required to support men out of it.  Some scholars have interpreted “faDDal allahu ba`Dahum `ala ba`Din” to mean God gave men more strength than women as the explanation of why men should protect women. This ignores the context of inheritance, but perhaps they are correct in that the Qur’an may be subtly alluding to this as part of the broader context of the social relationships between men and women that have been the case in every society in history. But in no case does this verse in any way imply any spiritual superiority of men over women whatsoever. Nor can such an interpretation be defended. (1) It is against the simple meaning of the text; (2) it is violates the context; (3) it contradicts the numerous other verses in the Qur’an insisting on the spiritual equality of men and women. E.g. 33:35: “For Muslim men and women for believing men and women for devout men and women for true men and women for men and women who are patient and constant for men and women who humble themselves for men and women who give in charity for men and women who fast (and deny themselves) for men and women who guard their chastity and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward.” Indeed, the opening verse of the surah in question exalts the status of women demanding: “Revere the wombs that bore you.”

Q. The famous Muslim philosopher al-Ghazali defined the woman’s role as follows: “She should stay at home and get on with her spinning, she should no go out often, she must not be well-informed…She should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband’s sexual needs at any moment.” (Hurley 87) Is this true of today’s Islamic faith?

A. First, in fairness to al-Ghazzali, he also demands that men meet the sexual needs of their wives. Nonetheless, it is proper to criticize the “women should stay at home” attitude reflected in your quote. (Who is Hurley? What exactly is the citation you are making?) Anyone who makes such a statement as Hurley attributes to al-Ghazali deserves criticism, for this was not the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is true, unfortunately, that the quote reflects the views of many Muslims today. However, the views of the Islamist movement today are better represented by Zaynab al-Ghazali who headed the women’s division of the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood under its founder Hassan al-Banna.  She wrote that  “Islam has provided everything for both men and women. It gave women everything–freedom, economic rights, political rights, social rights, public and private rights. Islam gave women rights in the family granted by no other society. Women may talk of liberation in Christian society, Jewish society, or pagan society, but in Islamic society it is a grave error to speak of the liberation of women. The Muslim woman must study Islam so she will know that it is Islam that has given her all her rights.”  You can read more about her jihad to establish women’s Islamic rights to a place in public life in contravention of a secular Egyptian society that had been forced in to the Victorian mold that held a woman’s place is in the home by its British colonial occupiers at: http://www.jannah.org/sisters/zaynab.html

Q. For those who justify burkas and oppressive laws on women by stating it is to keep men’s thoughts pure, why is it that men do not also need to wear these clothings to keep women’s thoughts pure?

A. This seems like a trick question. Since those men to whom you refer won’t let women leave the house, what opportunity would homebound women have to see men? But in fairness, those men cover their own bodies almost as much as they would cover the women’s. They wear long flowing outer garments, cover their hair, and hide their own face behind a long beard. The oppressive laws they advocate are aimed at segregation of men and women and thus may be considered evenhanded in their suspicion of the sexual drive. Such laws should be opposed because they are oppressive and not on the debatable premise that they are predicated on any spiritual inferiority of women.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

HAMAS’ Victory and Its Consequences

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Posed by Matías Bakit to Minaret of Freedom Institute president Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad El Mercurio newspaper, Santiago, Chile

Q. What are the main reasons for HAMAS’s victory?

A. The main reason for HAMAS’s victory was that voters sought an alternative to the corrupt, failing and fractious FATAH regime. The corruption of FATAH was well known, but their use of American tax money for what were really campaign purposes in the days before the election was an embarrassment that drove home the point of their corruption to the Palestinian voters. The main failure of the FATAH regime was their inability to conclude a peace treaty within the Oslo framework. The Palestinians had abandoned their objection to the existence of the state of Israel on pragmatic grounds, that they should obtain sovereignty and peace and they had been given neither. Further, it is widely believed among Palestinians that Mahmoud Abbas is prepared to abandon the Palestinians’ right to return to their homes guaranteed by International law. HAMAS was seen as the only viable alternative to FATAH’s failures, an organization that had provided the kinds of services the PA could not, that is largely free of corruption, and that would be less prone to unacceptable compromises. Finally, FATAH divided its support among rival factions while HAMAS’s united front allowed it to get more seats than their 44% popular vote would command had FATAH been unified.

Q. It is said that HAMAS will be a disaster for peace in Middle East. Is that so? Why?

A. There is widespread concern that HAMAS’s commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel, especially given the violent history of its military wing, makes it unsuited to negotiate peace in the Middle East. Further there is the fear that even if HAMAS moderates its views or overlooks them as irrelevant to its new role as representative of the Palestinian people, that Israel will nevertheless refuse to accept it as a negotiating partner. These obstacles, however, may not necessarily be insurmountable. They were, after all, the same argument put forth against PLO/Israel negotiations before Oslo, or for that matter put forth against the possibility of an East-West peace before American-Soviet detente became a reality. HAMAS has already expressed its willingness to include FATAH in the new government, has built bridges to the Christian Palestinians, and showed by its observance of the PA’s truce with Israel that it can behave pragmatically even while adhering to its fundamental positions. In any case, Mahmoud Abbas remains the President of the PA for the time being and it is with him that the Israelis must negotiate. HAMAS has already announced that they will not obstruct Abbas’ negotiations with Israel. Whether Israel will give HAMAS the opportunity to join in the efforts for peace is a more difficult question, but it is in Israel’s interest to do so and America has a great deal of influence with Israel and could be helpful if it chooses to be.

Q. Is there a possibility of a truce by HAMAS?

A. Yes. HAMAS largely observed the PA’s truce with Israel despite Israeli provocations. Even the most fanatical Muslim extremists accept that long-term truces are part of Islamic law. This is really in Israel’s hands as the Qur’an commands, “If the enemy inclines towards peace, the do you incline towards peace and trust in God.” Q. What would be the effects of the loss of international aid for Palestine? A. In all probability the loss of Western aid would be made up for by an increase in aid from other sources, less favorably inclined towards Israel, which would remove some of the incentives for HAMAS to show patience with the peace process or with problematical Israeli actions.

Q. What do you think the Israeli State will do?

A. Speculation is best postponed until after the Israeli elections in March. Nonetheless, I think that it is most likely that Israel will proceed with extreme caution. At the moment the world community understands their concerns, but it could hurt them to press their point too far. The country that has been led by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon undermines itself by protesting that leaders of other governments are associated with terrorism.

Q. What are the chances for peace?

A. Peace remains a long shot, but the recent shake-up actually makes peace a little bit more likely. The old situation was a stalemate. Now that the Palestinians have a new, freely elected parliament there is an opportunity for a fresh start, one with the authority of legitimacy. It was said that “Only Nixon could go to China.” “Only Sharon could unilaterally remove Israeli settlers from Gaza.” By the same token, perhaps, “Only HAMAS can make a lasting peace with Israel.”

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org