Archive for August, 2010

Taha Jabir Alwani on the Space Time Factor in Understanding Qur’an and Sunnah

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

NOTES FROM THE IIIT CONFERENCE ON APPROACHING THE QUR’AN AND SUNNAH #11

[This is the eleventh in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on approaching the Qur’an and Sunnah held in Herndon, VA. These notes are raw material for an edited report I will write on the conference later and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. The Minaret of Freedom Institute thanks IIIT for the grant that makes the publication of these notes possible. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone.]

Session 11, Moderator: Iqbal Unus
Paper Presentation by Ahmad Kazemi Mousavi
“Taha Jabir Alwani on the Space Time Factor in Understanding Qur’an and Sunnah”

Dr. Taha Jabir al-Alwani holds the decline of ijtihad as the main cause of the present crisis of Islamic law. In the Middle East we have been speaking of democracy and modernization for 150 years but we have not achieved it. Human empowerment is missing from our modernization program. Change and stability are both necessary to society. Muslims have resisted the change part, so we change in practice even as we oppose it.

His first work on graduating from al-Azhar was on Fakhrudin ar-Razi. In several treatises he surveyed the history of ijtihad and the rise of taqlid. He marks the year 310 H. as the date of the beginning of the crisis of Muslim jurisprudence. After Imam Tabari there were no new schools of thought in Islam. The official declaration of the closing of the gate of ijtihad was by the Mamluk king who limited Islam to the four Sunni schools. Yet many great mujtahids came after this, including Juwayni and al-Ghazali.  Thus the closing of ijihad is a political decision, not legal. Juwayni found taqlid of the sahib as unacceptable. Ghazali revolutionized legal methodology, combining ethics with fish. In his Mustafa (sp.?), Alwani focuses on the usual al-fish: qiyâs, istihasân, aql. Regarding ijma we never had unanimity. We have sources, but we must apply reason and logic to the sources. Maybe the only ijma of the Sunnis was on the closing of ijtihad. This resulted in al hiyal wal mukharij or indirect, marginal solutions to problems that skirt the real issues and prevent meaningful solutions.

Istihsân is used by Malik and is rooted in common sense where the qiyas of Abu Hanifa comes from logic. Istihsân is developed by Shia. What is the source of Istihsân? If it is personal taste it is suspect, but if it is logic or common sense it is acceptable. Ghazali distinguished between true and false maslaha.

Alwani calls for inclusion of the opinions of experts. However, because Muslim fiqh was a written individually, we don’t have a tradition of collaborative deliberation.

Ash-Shatabi elaborated on the idea of maqasid, which was used by Jawayni and Ghazali, but not in the pioneering sense of Shatabi. Promotion of Islam and the advancement of the status of Muslims are among the primary maqasid. Deductive reasoning is not acceptable because reasoning should be inductive. If a legal opinion does not improve Islam, but disproves Islam, them it must be suspended. The philosophy of Islamic law is that the hadd is aimed at deterrence, and when it fails at deterrence it must be suspended. Yet, in Iran we have had four stonings and more than forty cutting of fingers.

He also wants to restore Islamic values to science. It has been objected that water boils at 212 degrees regardless of whether it is Muslim water or Christian water. Alwani’s point is that Islamic language is closer to us. It is more meaningful to speak of dunya that of the world.

`ilm al awliyya’ is an original contribution, although it goes back to Ghazali’s formula of munasabah (relevancy) and Shatabi’s theory of maqasid. The concept of priorities should be understood along with that of higher objectives.

Alwani is one of the few Muslim authors to present scholarly opinions of Islamic thinkers regardless of their sectarian or devotional attachments. Among his pioneering works is The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam.

Discussant 1. Khalid Troudy.

Alwani wants to appropriate knowledge from non-Muslim sources, using Islamic methodology (“Islamization of knowledge”). He calls for the recognition of two voices: the Qur’anic and reality (i.e., the material world). We must recognize the roles of both divine revelation and human thought. Legal decisions change according to time and space. The jurisprudence of Muslim minorities (Fiqh al `aqaliyyât) is another contribution, acknowledging that the problems faced by Muslims in Muslim minority countries are different from those faced in Muslim majority countries. In his ideology, political and legal thoughts are intertwined, reflective of his experience in the United States.

Discussant 2. Louay Safi

Alwani is one of the few al-Azhar graduates who continued to grow beyond his education at al-Azhar. Ijtihad presupposes freedom in the area of thinking about the sources. If you are afraid of the mob or the people in power, you cannot be a mujtahid. It is a moral enterprise as well as an intellectual one. Fear is not only about safety, but also about credibility. [And funding–Ed.] The responsibility of the scholar is to call things as he sees it, not to reinforce the perceptions of others.

I disagree with the notion that ijtihad can be done through committees or councils. Committees are about compromise, not about creativity. Shurah is distinct from ijtihad. There is no ijma among all people, but there have been cases ijma among scholars, esp. within schools.

Fiqh al awlawiyyât is a contemporary concept introduced by Qaradawi, which is a sort of fence-mending. We need to distinguish between ijtihad as a method and ijtihad as a slogan. I see no method in fiqh al awlawiyyât, only musâlih. Muslaha is about mubahât, areas that are left open by the text. Hîyya ash-sha`riyat is a means of defying the text by adopting a literal meaning, as marrying for the purpose of divorce in order to remarry a previous spouse.

Abubaker Al-Shingieti:  Alwani now divides maqasid into three categories: tahdîd, tazkiyyah, and `imrân. This has profound methodological implications. `imrân is very broad, dealing with well-being. Tazkiyyah is a very broad application of purification.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: Ijtihad by committee is impossible, but ijtihad without shura with experts is impossible in this age. The problem is not an inherent unwillingness to engage experts, but the fear of the authorities and the fear of the mob.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: Regarding the Islamization of the sciences., the easy part is the requirement that scientific research must be ethical in its methodology, and holistic rather than reductionist. The part that has met so much resistance is what is considered to be the challenge of voluntarism and the illusory problem in the denial that science is possible if universal causality is a function of God’s will rather than a supposed inherent determinism in matter. A real problem is the in the reception of the theory of evolution. Most Muslims seem to find something threatening to our faith in the notion that Allah has allowed natural selection to have a role in the development of the human.

Jamal Barzinji: Do not underestimate the power of the group mind. You cannot ask a scholar to come up with an answer to a problem without consult with the experts. For example, how can a faqih issue a fatwa on stem cells without consulting with those who understand stem cells.

Mahmoud Ayoub. Adab al ikhtilâf means not ethics of disagreement, but etiquette. Ijtihad can be used broadly to mean a genuine effort to acquire knowledge, but it has a restricted meaning in fiqh. I‘m convinced that those who spoke about the closing of the door to ijtihad, who were mujtahids themselves, simply meant that there should be no new madhâhib.  I’m not sure the Islamization of the sciences is an issue. Knowledge has no religion; knowledge is knowledge. What can be Islamized is the use and how we view science. Are Christian moralists who write about the use of the atomic bomb Islamizing knowledge? If we mean coming up with a new jargon, that did not happen. We still use the jargon of the West. Islamization of knowledge is necessary (see Franz Rosenthal’s Knowledge Triumphant). Knowledge must be useful. There is an Islamic ethic of knowledge; knowledge itself is neutral.

Safi: To me shurah and ijtihad are not the same. As we distinguish between engineering and pure science, ijtihad is a pure science that is done by individuals and applications, like engineering, may be done in a council. Tabari himself in his explanation of the angels’ question about men shedding blood on earth was that they may have seen another being like us commit the same crimes.

Catovic: I see resistance to this notion of awlawiyyat.

Safi: Seeing ourselves as `aqaliyya in America is harmful in that it marginalizes is. I understand the motivation, which is to protect us from criticism from Muslim countries.

Jamal Barzinji: There are certain questions like whether Muslims should serve in the armed forces if this country is attacked that must be answered. We are not a ghetto community, and it is a religious obligation to be involved. We have greater latitude to make ijtihad than scholars in the Muslim world. We can pave the way for the ummah to come into the 21st century. If 50 scholars in Syria will say there is no rajm (stoning) it has a greater impact than Qaradawi hesitating to speak out. For me as a Muslim I could read every page of the Origin of Species and feel nothing but praise for the wisdom of Allah subhana wa ta`ala. There is an institution calling itself the Christianization of knowledge.

Rafiq: 70% of Indonesian law is Dutch, despite our hatred of the Dutch. A fatwa was issued against meningitis is vaccine because it uses a pork product. Subsequently it was excused out of necessity. We have an MUI in Indonesia, but people prefer to listen to their local mufti.

Hisham Altalib: Taha would agree with Sami, we are not in diaspora.

Safi: Would he say we are not a minority?

Altalib: That is different. You would have to ask him.

Ayoub: The scholars came up with the idea that wherever you are living, though you are a minority, if you are allowed your own judge, then you are a part of that society. What mitigates our minority status in America is “Are we able to nativise our religion so as to be part of the religious matrix of this country?” We are not there yet, but we are moving that way, and I felt that movement strongly at last year’s ISNA convention. I am not calling for an American Islam—Islam is one,–but Islam expresses itself through the culture of the country in which it finds itself.

Catovic: In the face of modernist thought many Muslims react by adopting the reactions of other religious groups who see their faith is undermined, while our is not.

Safi: I think we should stay away from awlawiyyat. We should not stipulate the religion of the head of state in a Muslim country. Models should be based on values, not on majority or minority identity.

Al-Shingieti: The fiqh of minorities is about creating a discourse with others. It is a means of engagement within our current reality. It is an enabling idea for dealing with our reality in America.

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

Aisha’s Critique of Authentic Hadith Content

Friday, August 13th, 2010

NOTES FROM THE IIIT CONFERENCE ON APPROACHING THE QUR’AN AND SUNNAH #10

[This is the tenth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on approaching the Qur’an and Sunnah held in Herndon, VA. These notes are raw material for an edited report I will write on the conference later and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. The Minaret of Freedom Institute thanks IIIT for the grant that makes the publication of these notes possible. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone.]

Session 10, Moderator: Sami Catovic
Paper Presentation by: Jasser Auda
“Aisha’s Critique of Authentic Hadith Content”

There is much groundwork that needs to be done before we can venture into certain areas to the general public. I will not talk about reinterpretations of hadith, but about authenticity: what does it mean? Sometimes we have narrations of hadith that go against Islamic ideals of the muqasid. It is a great problem that delays various reform projects, whether political, social, economic, or even spiritual. Reform is not to Westernize Islam, but to make the universals once again reign over the particulars. This realization is the reform that is needed. The Shariah is all about justice, mercy, common good, and wisdom. Ibn Qayyid adds that any ruling that turns from justice to injustice, from mercy against mercy, is not about Sharia at all. Shatabi says the particulars cannot void the universals. Ghazali spoke of the illusionary maslaha. How do we deal with these cases? I start with two examples from Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her).

There is a maqsid that overrides all others in `adl (justice). We find this in the Qur’an. There is a difference between contradiction and difference. Contradictions cannot be reconciled. As Ibn Taymiyyah said, often there is an opposition in the mind of the faqih rather than in reality. If hadith A opposes B, consider that A may be said in peacetime and B in wartime. Perhaps A was said to a rich person and B to a poor person, or A was said to someone in a peculiar circumstance and B to someone in an ordinary circumstance.

At-tarjîh means preference. We prefer sahih over da`îf, but I don’t understand a tarjîh between two narrations both with golden chains.  Malik reconciles such contradictions, for example over raising hands in prayer, to say both are valid. Abu Hanifa made brilliant reconciliations. There are different methods of reconciliation, such as reinterpreting meanings, making assumptions about context, etc. There is a huge myth that the companions never make mistakes by even a letter, but anyone familiar with the hadith books knows for every narration there are variations.

Aisha has corrected some of the companions on their narrations. Her knowledge was extensive, deep, and very personal, and everyone knows she was a genius. Therefore, she had the authority to reject hadith, but her method of rejection is telling. For example, “How is it you would tell me such and such, when the Qur’an says so and so (to the contrary)?”

According al Hakim, etc. Aisha heard Abu Hurairah say, “The child of adultery is the worst of the three.” She said “He had an inaccurate hearing and an inaccurate delivery” and that he was speaking of a particular person who was the child of adultery and also was the worst of the three. Further she quoted Qur’an [no one bears burden of another]. In another case she recited a narration by quoting Qur’an that Allah puts on no soul more than it can bear.  In a third she rejected bad omens by quoting Qur’an. In another she asserts that Abu Hurairah didn’t hear the whole hadith when he quotes Prophet saying there are bad omens in women. The surprise is that most people supported Abu Hurairah’s narraton rather than Aisha. ? sides with Abu Hurairah calling her analysis nonsense using arguments that are themselves nonsensical in that they employ factors involving issues of later eras that are inherently irrelevant to a companion of the Prophet.

Zarkasha and As-Sufi say Aisha had corrected almost every companion, but mostly Abu Hurairah. Asked if Muhammad had seen his Lord Aisha responds with the Qur’anic dictum no human vision an encompass him.

Regarding the hadith of stoning one scholar challenged it on the grounds that the Qur’an prescribes a half punishment for slaves and “half of a stoning” is meaningless.

Discussant: Aisha Musa

Eight hundred years ago the scholars discussed these things, then why does the general mindset of the Muslims prevent us from informing the general public?

Auda: The problem is the public opinion is highly politicized and the scholar sometimes prefers to protect the public.

Discussant: Mahmoud Ayoub

I feel you have understated the problem. Not only Aisha but Umar criticized Abu Hurairah. Ibn Hanbal gives hundreds of hadith from her, yet no one contends with her for the most part. Some of the hadith you quote need more contextualization than you have provided. We need o look at the isnad, the matn and also the context if we can have one. For example, at the end of Tabari’s history he writes “In this year the dogs of the desert came to start biting people.” Dogs carry parasites. The so-called hadith used to justify killing apostates is not a hadith in the proper sense. It is a modern approach to relate this to la ikraha fi’din. The context of that verse was two persons who had been forced to accept Christianity.

Response by Jasser Auda

Most of the time the context is missing. Often it doesn’t matter, but sometimes it does. Sometimes there is a context but it is provide by less reliable narrators than the hadith.

Ayoub: Where context is needed it is not just historical but cultural.

Auda: There is a deliberate effort to keep methodologies that come from elsewhere out of  traditional Islamic scholarship.

Ayoub: I wonder if hadith has an equivalent to the bab al nuzûl found in Qur’anic studies.

Auda: The presumption is that hadith is a general rule not limited by context.

Ahmad: I was always a great admirer of Aisha’s scholarship, which your systematic analysis has made me appreciate even more. A factor in the problem of presenting controversial ideas to the general public is the fear that the public will be unable to follow such arguments and turn against hadith altogether, leaving them to their own uniformed interpretations of the Qur’an. Another problem is our own fear of discrediting ourselves before the public by taking unpopular positions. We need to feel that we have encountered and satisfied ourselves in our own minds of the objections of the scholars who do not agree with us before we face the public.

Auda: Sometimes the scholars are afraid of people. Shaikh abu Zahra told Qaradawa that scholars are afraid of the public and then admitted that he did not accept the verse of stoning but was afraid to speak in public.

Mousavi: We need a mechanism to determine maslaha. We cannot revive ijma, we know that. Why not revive the office of Grand Mufti?

Auda: There is politics in a Grand Mufti or in determining maslaha, so that is a problem.

Mousavi: But the Shia are independent.

Ayoub: They have independent income.

Khaleel Mohammad: Have you heard of the attempt inTurkey to reevluate hadith.

Auda: Yes. I think this is valuable, but we need to train the publc to have a sophistication in dealing with hadith.

Ahmed Rafiq: The evaluation of matn is very important.

Auda: This has been long recognized but it has been applied selectively. One scholar acknowledging the authenticity of the hadith on women leading prayers calls the matn da’if because the implication goes against the accepted position. Some of these are funny, like the Prophet’s question as to why pollute the water by standing and urinating as meaning squatting and urinating would not dirty the water. Or “silence means consent” implies that if a woman says “yes” it is a denial.

Ayoub: Relying on the matn can become too subjective and lead to all kinds of problems. We need to do the hadith some service by finding a way to popularize hadith literature, especially among the young. We could include books including both Sunni and Shia hadith.

Honercamp: Thereis a problem of people failing to cite their hadith sources.

Auda: Ayoub’s article on religious freedom published in Islam and Christianity is available online.

Auda: I have met people who have read IIIT books and iternalized the ideas so well they think they are theirs.

Sami Catovic: The belief in a higher standard is well established in our tradition in the area of `aqîda. When I was younger and I came across a hadith that struck me as strange I neither rejected it out of hand nor embraced it, but made further inquiry. How do you avoid the subjectivity Dr. Ayoub is talking about?

Auda: I don’t accept the separation of objective from subjective. Subjectivity is the reality of anyone who says anything. If only one person in the world says something is a matter of jusice then it is not a matter of justice.

Jamal Barzinji: I don’t think you did justice to Aisha in the paper in discussing her methodology. Why can’t we redevelop her methodology. This work may cause a shock wave in the Muslim world, but it is needed. There is a terrible fear of intellectual terrorism. Even Qaradawi hasn’t come out clearly against the verse of stoning. We are advocating that if there is a majlis fatwa it should be where the scholars can feel safe. Given the conceren of the earliest scholars over avoiding fabricated and erroneous hadith, why can we not rid the ummah these unacceptable hadith?

Auda: Politics played a role. Schacht and others noted that some hadith are fabricated and then tried to undermine the entirety of Islam, and so there is a reaction against that.

Safi: I shouldn’t let subjectivity prevent me from saying what I think is true; rather let others correct my mistakes. No methodology will be perfect. The locus of knowledge is not the text but the human being. There is a hadith that Allah does not remove knowledge from a society by removing it from the hearts of knowledgeable people, but by removing the knowledgeable people.

Iqbal Unus: I found a concocted hadith in Imam Ghazali that said a doormat is better than an infertile woman.

Safi: In this type of book, taghrib at-tahid, which is not establishing fiqh rules, this kind of hadith is ok.

Mehmet: What can you say to criticize Aisha’s methodology.

Auda: When you read about wakat al-jamal she made mistakes in the details that were revolutionary and caused a lot of bloodshed, but as a scholar she was one of the best.

Ahmad: I want to address Dr. Ayoub’s concern that evaluation of hadith based on matn may introduce subjectivity to the process. Of course Jasser is right that we cannot completely eliminate subjectivity, but it can be minimized. That is why we need methodology. Relying on sanad can also be subjective which is why the scholars created a methodology for dealing with it. Failing to do so with the matn results in the selectivity that Prof. Auda has pointed out.

Ayoub: We need a measure of respect for our scholars. Ihyâ Ulûm ad-Dîn is a great book. I am unaware of any sanitization. I know of no scholar who was perfectly faithful to their methodology. I read the hadith about the doormat and the since most Arabs didn’t use a doormat I think that we need to be careful about the Arabic word.

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

MFI News and Analysis (8/13/10)

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Malaysia’s central bank threatens Kelantan’s attempt to introduce sound money:

The Taliban condemn the cutting of the nose and ears of an Afghan woman as “barbaric, inhumane and un-Islamic” and accusing Time of compromising its “journalistic integrity” in implicating them:

“The Taliban say that they killed 27 Afghan soldiers, wounded 14 and captured eight men, while 18 army vehicles and six tanks were seized”:

Use of the Christian apocrypha as a source for an Iranian miniseries causes While Lebanese stations to pull the program in deference to Christian concerns that it misrepresents their understanding of Christ …

… American Muslims are concerned that the proximity of the date of the Eid-al-adha to 9/11 may provide an occasion for Islamophobes to misrepresent the significance of the celebration of the end of the month of fasting:

Mayor Bloomberg understands because his Jewish “parents had to ask “their Christian lawyer to buy a house and then sell it back to them to hide their identity in an unwelcoming Massachusetts suburb”:

Fraud allegations highlight the dangers of spying on religious institutions:

Contrary to the claims of some seeking to revise the 14th amendment, its authors knew precisely what its effects on immigration would be:

Principles of Economics in the Qur’an

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

NOTES FROM THE IIIT CONFERENCE ON APPROACHING THE QUR’AN AND SUNNAH #9

[This is the ninth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on approaching the Qur’an and Sunnah held in Herndon, VA. These notes are raw material for an edited report I will write on the conference later and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. The Minaret of Freedom Institute thanks IIIT for the grant that makes the publication of these notes possible. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone.]

Session 9, Moderator: Yaqub Mirza
Reflections by Muhammad Fahim Khan
“Principles of Economics in the Qur’an”

I will reflect on two sets of ayât, 2:261-280 and 17:21-40. The first set mentions the economic system of the Islamic society and the second refers to social aspects of human life on earth.

Economics alone is nothing without also considering social considerations. For 300 years economics developed on the false premise that economic aspects of human behavior can be discussed in isolation from other aspects of human behavior.  Earlier Muslim scholars did not operate on this fallacy, but Westerners ignored this period. For example, Schumpeter called the years when Muslim scholars dominated the field of economics as a “Great Gap” in which nothing was done. Yet, the “Laffer Curve” was originally discovered by Ibn Khaldun. Alfred Marshall sought to change the focus of economics from material wealth to “well-being,” but well-being was never defined.

Our first question must be “What is the objective of human economic activity?” Adam Smith defined it as to satisfy wants, which are subjective desires. When you go to the market to fulfill a want, it becomes a demand. The economists presume that a person is rational and that for a rational person more is always better than less, so wants are unlimited.

Well-being consists of improving five aspects of life: nafs, dîn, aql, ahl, and mâl. These are the objectives of the sound-minded man. Qur’an wants to give man rushd or right-mindedness, which I understand to mean sound-mindedness under divine guidance.

Discussant 1: Jasser Auda

I appreciate the replacement of the term “Islamic economics” by the concept of “principles of economics in the Qur’an,” since economics is economics, as mathematics is mathematics.  I also appreciate that we cannot isolate disciplines from one another and that the holistic view is an Islamic view. I also appreciate the mention of well-being, which is maslaha. Masala al-`âm of Imam Juwayni is, I think, even more advanced than his student al-Ghazali in his divisions of the muqâsid. Ibn Ashur added masalah al-fard and masalah al-ummah, to add a collective aspect to individual interests. In addition to the preservation of self, religion, mind, family, and wealth, there are other dimensions not clearly covered by these five like `adl (justice). Muqasis al `âma would add insight to the paper.

Discussant 2: Ahmad Kazemi Mousavi

I have only questions. Explain the relationship of rationality to economics.

Discussant 3: Jamal Barzinji

A rational person wants to maximize his utility function. The rational Muslim wants to maximize good in this life and the next. You want to maximize good in the next life without neglecting the permissible good in this life.  I will say the main problem is that the Islamic economists have been unable to develop something that would be clear to the outside world.

Kenneth Honercamp: Does the sûk reflect something different from the Western model of market?

Khan: There is no way to increase wealth but through markets. The question is how markets should function. Qur’an wants markets to be competitive. Don’t restrict entry or exit from the market. Don’t deal outside the market. Maximize information about the quantity and quality of the product. No discrimination in prices. These ideals are not met. Nobel prize winning economist George Ackerlof raised the issue of asymmetry of information that prevents markets from working properly.

Mirza: The Vatican has said Islamic principles offer a way to avoid financial crises.

Barzinji: The Muslims believe everyone will get his rizk without depriving others.

Mahmoud Ayoub: I believe the Western system is based on speculation. For example, the dollar is a piece of paper without value as compared to the gold dinar valued by the weight of its gold content.

Khan: When markets are perfectly competitive the only way to compete is to improve the product or lower the price. Carly Fiorina delivered an unexpected lecture recently in which she spoke of the successful medieval Islamic economy. The modern system is promoting gamblers and speculators rather than producers and traders. Consider the futures market. This is 99.9% speculation. Islam also has a concept of bay`a salam, but it is justified on the presence of a swing season.

Sami Catovic: Are wants being portrayed as needs for marketing purposes? There is a claim that Islam could not support itself internally without its imperial expansion.

Khan: Smokers claim they need to smoke, but smoking is destructive while the drugs that treat cancer are constructive.

Ayoub: The Islamic economy did benefit from booty.

Ahmad: Ibn Khaldun answers the question of booty and imperial expansion. The imperial phase of civilization is the beginning of the end. I have some problems with your analysis of needs and wants. Needs aim at survival, not at well-being. Smoking is a want until you become addicted and then you perceive it as need, but from the view of survival it is a disgood. A rational person always wants more goods only in the presence of an efficient market where surplus may be sold. Otherwise, excess of goods become disgoods, or trash, that we will pay others to haul away and dispose. I think justice is an overriding objective of which the other objectives are articulations. I think that what is missing in a meaningful analysis is an inclusion of the work of the Austrian economists. We must take into account the subjective nature of value, which explains things like marginal utility. As to the distinction between the sûk and Western markets, I think we must consider the difference in the Islamic and capitalistic views of corporatism. The limitations of liability on corporations, which was part of the colonial agenda in the developmental phase of Western capitalism has reached absurd levels in, for example, the BP oil spill with the limit of $75 million on damages other than the clean-up. Finally, how do you reconcile the tradition of haggling in the sûk with single market price?

Khan: I took the needs concept from Shatabi and Ghazali who give three levels of need: protection of the needed things, the things needed and the enhancement or beautification of the needed things. Only human resources can add value. Haggling in the market is an imperfection in the market. In fiqh al buyu you will see how this is handled. Once the markets are competitive I don’t know how you will have haggling.

Ayoub: How important is takâful in Islamic economics?

Hisham Altalib: If you had time you could mention problems of unnecessary government intervention, wastefulness, and how advertising convinces us to borrow to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need.

Auda: There are arguments for rationality beyond utility. They are not equivalent.

Khan: Fiqh mainly deals with microeconomic issues. There is little on the macro issues.

Abubaker Al-Shingieti: To what extent can a policy framework deal with surplus with a reserve for the state so long as social needs are not met?

Ahmed Rafiq: In Indonesia we say we don’t have copyright, but we have the right to copy.

Mirza: Because of the superior returns of the Sharia-compliant investments in recent years, the financial press has been touting, “If you want to make money become a Muslim.”

Ahmad: Rather than speak of Islamic economics, perhaps we should speak of the “Islamic school of economics.” Macroeconomics as a separate discipline from microeconomics is an example of the reductionism that you otherwise correctly challenge. Capital and labor are factors of COST not of value. Value is subjective. Merely increasing the costs of production doesn’t increase the value of the final product. Remember the role of marginal utility. The more pairs of shoes a rational person has, the less an additional pair is worth, Imelda Marcos notwithstanding. Also, I would like to know why Islamic investors don’t make use of the gold dinar.

Mirza: SEC may not permit this.

Auda: It is not permitted to leave funds unused.

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

MFI News and Analysis (8/12/10)

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

An Israeli “would work for a Palestinian advocacy group;” “a Palestinian, would work for a pro-Israel peace group;” together, they would seek a plan “to contain increasing Jewish-Arab tensions on U.S. college campuses”:

Her attorney says the confession, which seems to be aimed at taking attention away from the adultery charges, was coerced …

… and his attorney says his “interrogators fabricated a tale of a young boy raped and killed in prison to frighten him into making a fake confession”:

As “U.S. Braces for Kandahar Fight,” villagers and NATO disagree over whether the victims were civilizmas or insurgents:

Threats to the planned pullout from Iraq?

… and “an Iraqi general has called into question whether his troops are ready to defend Iraq against a stubborn insurgency and external threats”:

As “US Marines Arrive to Help Pakistan Flood Survivors,” “The government hasn’t sent us anything. Rich people, the factory owners, send us some rice and bread once or twice a day,” says laborer Abdul Rasheed. “It’s been five days and still no word from the government”:

Program joins Palestinians and Israelis as interns in the District

News and Analysis (8/11/10)

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

As the Wiesenthal Center plans to displace hundred of Muslims graves to build its “”Center for Human Dignity – Museum of Tolerance …

… Cooperation with local groups of other faiths and city government may not have been enough to prevent controversy over an Islamic center  that displaces a closed Burlington Coat store:

In a strange series of events, the Israeli Defense Forces killing of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy whose organs were then donated to Israelis leads to the reopening of a movie house closed for 23 years:

“Reactions in Lebanon to Nasrallah’s claims inevitably fell along partisan lines,” but the UN tribunal “is reportedly preparing a detailed response to Nasrallah’s allegations which it will make public in the coming days”:

As if to thumb its nose at Bernard Lewis’s peculiar claim that mechanical clocks are threat to Muslim authorities:

“The goal… is to show skeptical Afghans that their police can keep them safe. But the unspoken first step is getting the American soldiers themselves to trust the police”:

As Israel hustles to defend it’s slaughter of the those who sought to pierce the blockade:

In what “appears to be a show of bravado after the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said last week that the US military had a contingency plan to attack Iran”:

Mojtahed Shabestari’s Theological Approaches to Qur’an

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

NOTES FROM THE IIIT CONFERENCE ON APPROACHING THE QUR’AN AND SUNNAH #8

[This is the eighth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on approaching the Qur’an and Sunnah held in Herndon, VA. These notes are raw material for an edited report I will write on the conference later and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. The Minaret of Freedom Institute thanks IIIT for the grant that makes the publication of these notes possible. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone.]

Session 8, Moderator: Imtiyaz Yusuf
Paper Presentation by Ahmad Kazemi Mousavi
“Mojtahed Shabestari’s Theological Approaches to Qur’an”

Mojtahed Shabestari Sayyid Muhammad, even before Saroush, called for hermeneutical reading of Sharia. Each word in a text has a presupposed meaning to the reader. The presuppositions of those reading “heaven and earth” a thousand years ago is different from ours, so we have a pre-judgment when we read the holy texts. In Islamic tradition we have tafsir and tawîl, but none of these were concerned with presuppositions or immediate intentions beyond those of the lawgiver. Without hermeneutics no legal methodology involving theory can take place. The methodology involved tools appropriate to spoken text. The meanings derived by the fuquha deal with things like metaspace, metaphysics, or literal meanings rather than maqâsid. Munâsiba is based on necessities, needs and tâsiyât, which are not enough. Nafs ul amri. Theory of kalâm Allah all belong to history. More than 800 years have passed since Muslims produced a new theory and the old ones do not fit to our present circumstances.

What is meant by khâliq ul `âdir?  For Ibn Sina all the prophets are connected to the active intellect, which transmits a meaning from God heard by the prophets in a what is metaphorically called God’s word. It is beyond the laws of causality, which are created by God. Ashari’s position is the eternal truths are kalâm Allah, which are part of God’s essence. Ibn Arabi’s view is that the Qur’an is God’s word for the Prophet but for others it is only God’s word if it produces a similar Prophetic experience, not for everyone. Then revelation is a continuous phenomenon, a continuous experience. Only the lawgiving experience was completed by the Prophet. This is a summary taken from Shabestari.

Shabestari does not seethe traditional literal interpretation to be flexible enough to take into account external realities. Modern semantics takes meaning of words as a tool to speak about changing, not fixed, realities. Usûl al-fiqh stems from Greek philosophy. Shabestari bases faith on the association of divinity with free will. He identifies human existence with freedom of mind. Subjectivity is a human agency. Fiqhi tradition didn’t work with human agency. We talked about Sufism. The master is in charge not only of the murîd’s finances but his psychology. The murîd must report his dreams to the master. Shabestari’s conception of freedom of conscience does not allow for sanctity of religious knowledge. Sharia, Qur’an are sacred, but the fiqh, which id only the human understanding of the Sharia is not.

Respect for religious figures is the only source of “sanctity” for religious figure, but this is human and not divine in origin. In his later writings he claims the wording of the Qur’an is the product of revelation, not revelation itself. The words ayat and ayât occur in the Qur’an over 400 times. The legal part of the Qur’an is only one fourth of it. Legal interpretation of the Qur’an is the interpretation of later jurists. Why did law become the queen of Islamic science? For the companions establishing the rituals was the focus. Under the Umayyids, with the rise of Mutazila and the Sufis, Islamic law arose to stabilize the society.  Not only law, but also conduct and ritual are part of Sharia.

Words are a system of expression based on speaker, audience, content, community of language, and context and presuppositions. The Prophet did not say the words of the Qur’an are not his words.

Louay Safi: But the Qur’an does say that.

Mousavi: The outlook of the Qur’an is that all humans should be able to understand the observable reality and live as monotheists without coercion.

Imtiyaz Yusuf: In a discussion of hermeneutics in India a speaker rose and asked, “What harmonium are you talking about?”

Discussant 1: Aisha Musa

What implications do his views have for verses with specific legal ramifications like the prohibition of pork? Does the notion that the wording of the Qur’an is Muhammad’s imply that it is like sunnah?

Mousavi: We also have hadith al-qudsi.

Musa: What is active intellect and divine absolutism? What is the distinction between freedom of conscience and faith?

Mousavi: Freedom of mind is part of the being of the human being.

Discussant 2: Mahmoud Ayoub

The masjid in Hamburg, which Shabestari attended, was neither Sunni nor Shia, belonging to everyone, and even had a Zaidi imam at one point. Once you start from the supposition that religion is feeling (Ger.: “gefuhl”) then you can go in many different directions. The active intellect is not the highest source in the Aristotelian tradition. Fazlur Rahman has argued that it is both God’s word and Muhammad’s. Often God is telling Muhammad what to say, but I am concerned with to what degree is the Qur’an the work of Muhammad, and I accept that “the faithful spirit wrote it down to your heart.” This is about nazûl. We can maybe argue that the Prophet received Qur’an in more than one mode.  Then what do we do with lailat-ul-qadr? I do not accept the classical commentaries, which make no sense. There must be another meaning. Also in surah furqan “We sent it down on a blessed night.” It seems to me most of the Hamburg school took from German scholarship what I call tentativeness. What makes Shias different from Sunnis is the Imamate appointed by God. Calling them learned scholars brings all that into question. It is interesting how the very conservative government in Iran coexists with this radical imamology. I see it as healthy. At least there is talk. Our problem in the Muslim world is that there are some things about which we have not been allowed to talk.

Response by Ahmad Kazemi Mousavi

Generalities and particularities are all terms relating to spoken language, not written language.

Louay Safi: There are other distinctions between the words of the Prophet and the word of God. “On us is the task of collecting it and reciting it.” If you want to know how Muhammad speaks, that is the hadith. Then every word of the Qur’an is free of the choices of Prophet Muhammad. For a long time Muslims were locked into the Greek philosophy, but by the time of Fakhruddin ar-Razi they used the particular and general to do away with the notion of aql al fa’I. The Hegelian idea of absolute knowledge cannot be fit into the Qur’anic view since Hegel sees absolute knowledge as the end of history achieved in the German state.

Mousavi: The presuppositions of Hegel are part of our problem. We are in the West, speaking the English language. Western knowledge affects our presuppositions. Qur’an didn’t say forget about time and space.

Ahmad: I would concede the Qur’an is the word of Muhammad in one sense: that the Spirit dictated to Muhammad words that would be meaningful to him.

Abubaker Al-Shingieti: When I think of the experience of wahiyy, and of the maqsad, and the Qur’an revealed in Arabic, to me the question is wrong. We cannot comprehend the nature of revelation, we can only relate to the Prophet’s accounts of it. Going into the nature of revelation goes into speculation.

Khaleel Muhammad: How do the rest of the Shia ulama view Shabestari?

Mousavi: He is well respected in Iran among the intellectuals. He is unknown by the masses. He was not excommunicated but he dismissed his turban himself in order to avoid persecution by the religious elites.

Ayoub: There is evidence in the Qur’an to speak of a heavenly tablet or source of revelation that is the source of all scripture. God confirms or effaces whatever he wishes because with him is the heavenly book that transcends the earthly Qur’an. Mutazila and Asharites both concluded that God is a speaker above all. It also implies revelation is universal and not limited to a single mode. I think Shabestari is a bit too tentative because of the German influence.

Hisham Altalib: The answer to the question of whose words are the Qur’an is in sura al haqqat: “tanzîlun min rabil`alaamîn.” This is verily the word of an honored messenger sent down ….”

Mousavi: The Message is from Lord of the Worlds, the words are from messenger meaning Muhammad.

Ayoub: I do not go so far as to say the words are from Muhammad, but I say Muhammad is not just a tape recorder.

Safi: This is one of those questions that cannot be answered by taking a single verse. The Qur’an challenges people at a time of the peak of its poetic development to produce even one surah like it.

Ahmad: Based on verses quoted by Hisham Altalib, the messenger may also be Jibril. Also in spoken word vs. written word is the fact that this is “qur’anun karîm fi kitabun maknûn” (56:77-78) significant? It is a recitation in a book rather than a book.

Ayoub: Were the presuppositions Ptolemaic or Babylonian when the Qur’an talks about seven heavens and seven earths? The “True Qur’an” is the Qur’an that is recited. It is authentic and beyond question because it has been transmitted through the centuries without change.  When the Qur’an says Kitâb it is not always talking about a book between two covers. We must think of the Babylonian view of the tablets of destiny or the book of life that somehow enters into our history. We are not talking about a book, but a message.

Mousavi: Shabestari was not a marja, but he is a mujtahid.

Ahmad: Babylonian presuppositions make more sense than Ptolemaic since the reference is to seven heavens rather than nine, but I wouldn’t call that conclusive because I take the “seven” here nit literally, but symbolical, to mean “complete.”

Hisham: But can’t the words “Mountains as pegs” be taken literally?

Ahmad: One can interpret these words in a way consistent with modern science, but I would stop short of saying that is the plain literal meaning of the text.

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

Qur’anic Roots and Ethical Foundations of Suluk in Islamic Pedagogical Methodology

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

NOTES FROM THE IIIT CONFERENCE ON APPROACHING THE QUR’AN AND SUNNAH #7

[This is the seventh in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on approaching the Qur’an and Sunnah held in Herndon, VA. These notes are raw material for an edited report I will write on the conference later and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. The Minaret of Freedom Institute thanks IIIT for the grant that makes the publication of these notes possible. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone.]

7th Session, Moderator: Khaled Troudi

Paper presentation by Kenneth Honercamp

“The Qur’anic Roots and Ethical Foundations of Suluk in Islamic Pedagogical Methodology and its Relevance Today”

To answer the question “How did early Islamic society integrate the essential ideals, values and sensibilities of the Qur’an and sunnah into its individual and social behavior” by looking at Sufic master-disciple relations in Nishapur. Abu Husayn al-Nuri said Sufism is ethical conduct (akhlâq). Al-Junayd called Sufism a process of purification, departure from base character to arrival at noble character. Hamdun al-Qassar defines Sufism as “correct comportment.” Such citations dispel the motion that Sufism is pre-occupied with metaphysics, philosophical ontology, and mystical experience. Adab and akhlâq are at the core. The ethical-mystical orientation distinguishes Sufism from other paths.

For Ibn Ajîba, “The rûh as long as it is engrossed in ignorance (ghafla) is named the ego-self (nafs) and will never access the divine presence.” The teachers of the formative period of Sufism equated the degree of progress to the degree of commitment to the process. The master-disciple relationship provided the teachers with the normative model by which they could restore their disciples and the community to rectitude after they had lost touch with the Qur’an and sunnah. Their very presence in the community was a source of hope. They are models for their own communities as the Prophet was for the first Muslim community. Upholding reverence of the awliyâ is an active principle of the transformative process and a reflection of the reverence owed to the Prophet of God. For Sulami the concept of hurma is based on an ontological vision of a multi-faceted hierarchy of divine presences including reverence of all God’s creation. Sulami says, “He who has not founded his aspirant’s journey upon the Qur’an and the Sunnah will attain nothing of knowledge of God.” Service is an essential element as are avoiding worldly goods and compassion for all creation.

Ethics has been the central thread of scholarly Islamic discourse for centuries. Today the only ethical options offered are secular humanism or pragmatic survivalism.  I believe making the formative and classical Sufi texts available to a broader public could have a positive effect on the present discourse.

Discussant 1: Mahmoud Ayoub

Unlike Christian thought, Islam has no ethical theory; ethics is the sphere of action rather than the sphere of theory. Thus when Muslims wrote of ethical theory they were guided by Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. When someone entered the house of Abu Said with his left foot instead of his right, Abu Said would not speak to him anymore. The Sufi’s journey is from the material world to God. If begins with self-discipline and ends with the relation in God. To use the full service of his master the disciple must be in the hands of the master as a corpse is in the hands of the corpse-washer. The problem is when one wants to impose this on others. One of the earliest Sufis insisted that whenever a Sufi lives with another, no matter whom, he must serve him. Mustafa Kamal Shaybi tells the story of a murîd who was quite affluent and to go on a trading trip entrusted his concubine (jâriyyah) to his closest friend, who fell in love with her. He wrote to his shaikh for advice, who recommended he visit a mu`amiliyyat (sp?) shaikh, but his townsmen discouraged him. He wrote back to his shaikh who said I already told you. He arrived at the house to find the shaikh had a young boy on his lap and a wine bottle in his hand. He asked, “How can you do such a thing?” The response was that the boy was his son and the bottle contained water. I call myself a Sufi, but I have yet to find a shaikh.

Discussant 2: Ahmad Kazemi Mousavi

Mousavi: Sufis are considered to be more tolerant. In the formative period adab was essential. We have a stronger sense of brotherhood among Sufis, which is socially important.

Response by Kenneth Honercamp

In Tabaqât Sufiyya, Sulami says there are as many definitions of Sufism as there are Sufis because they see it according to their own state. Maybe we can distill some principles from all these different definitions. Takhalli may mean to empty yourself of bad character traits and tahally means to fill yourself with good traits. Some feel that we should start with tahally in order to attract people. There were no orders in the formative period and people were not called sheikhs, but sahaba.

Louay Safi: I agree that in our current society, Muslims, especially, are spiritually impoverished. I am uncomfortable with certain adab adopted by Sufism that I think have a negative impact on society. My problem is with hurma given to the shaikh that nurtures a hierarchical impact on society that encourages a master-slave relationship. I can accept respect, but respect has to be mutual. I understand why the Sufis use the concept of fakar, beacuse our egos do distract us from spirituality, but I have a problem with the dichotomy that pride is negative while humility is positive. We need to encourage people to acquire wealth without letting the wealth take over their heart.

Ayoub: Whatever the Sufis do is rooted in the Qur’an. Allah says I have raised some above others. We are equal before God in our human worth, not in our talents. We are all fukurâ in Allah. To learn the spirit of Sufism read Abu Talib al-Makki’s Qut al-qulub fi mu’amalat al-mahbub wa wasf tariq al-murid ila maqam al-tawhid (The nourishment of hearts in dealing with the Beloved and the description of the seeker’s way to the station of declaring oneness), which influenced even al-Ghazali.  A shaikh once ordered a novice to clean the latrines and his wealthy mother sent some servants to do it for him. The shaikh asked the mother: If a physician prescribed medicine to cure your son of illness, would you give it his servants?

Honercamp: By pride I mean takabbur, which no one considers good. The concept of killing or smashing the nafs is [a kind of exaggeration]; we mean transformation of the nafs. One sage said if you try to mold charcoal it will crumble, but if you put it next to hot charcoal it will glow.

Hisham Al-Talib: Is Sufism more prominent among Sunnis or Shia?

Ayoub: The majority of Sufis are Sunnis. When Irfan became Shia there was much distrust of the Sufis. Now they want to embrace their entire heritage. Sufism is not a madhhab, but a mashrab

Yusuf: 33:35 declares spiritual equality, so why do we go against it?

Honercamp: If your son says, “Baba, have a problem,” would you tell him to go look at the Qur’an and sunnah?

Yusuf: Why not?

Safi: Can the murîd question the shaikh?

Catvovic: Yes, I have often seen it.

Abu Baker Al-Shingieti: In the Qur’an hurma is used in different ways. The popular imagination of Muslims has taken it further. For example in places where “woman” is called hurma. In the case of Hurmut al mashayukh, in Sudan it can be used as a form of respect but it also can be a form of immunity like a percentage of your earning that must go to the shaikh.

Ahmed Rafiq: Indonesian Tariqa are almost all among the Sunni. Shia dhikr is through Jafar as-Sadiq. People in my village all follow some tariqa without realizing that they are doing so.

Honercamp: Nishapur saw itself in opposition to Baghdad. After the Hallaj incident many Sufis fled to Nishapur.  ? brought the two traditions together.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: The real issue is not questioning, but the modality of mentorship. Pedogogy is the subject of this paper. At the risk of being criticized for bringing in a non-Muslim example, I always appreciated the answer Karl Hess’s mother gave to him when he, as a small boy, asked her what was her maiden name. She said “Look it up,” and he had to go to the count courthouse to find out.

Honercamp: I’m thinking of mentor as exemplar.  Our problem is we don’t have people that others look up to. We quantify knowledge, but we don’t qualify it. We never looked at our teacher unless he spoke to us. We want to be like our teacher, not take his knowledge. We don’t have this in the West.

Ahmad: If you want to be like your shaikh, you should want to have his knowledge. I was impressed by your shaikh when his response to your comments of how much you learned from him was “It is the other way around.” This is mutual respect that Dr. Louay speaks about.

Al-Shingieti: When I was six or seven years old, my father was a shaikh. “Look it up” is more than a matter of going to court records or the Internet, it is to look into the soul of your community.

Catovic: We grow up in a society with an egalitarian lack of hierarchy and there is a frustration of working in a culture of shut up and listen. I wonder about the Sufi development in the United States. Have they modified the more stringent rules of interaction rather than reversing expectations?

Honercamp: Once when Ibn Arabi came to a group in awe of him, he put up his foot and asked someone to massage it.

Ahmad: I don’t see this as a relaxation of formality but as an example of hierarchy. To relax formality he would have rubbed his own foot.

Aisha Musa: Or rubbed their feet.

Ahmad: As Jesus (as) is reported to have washed the feet of his disciples.

Musa: “Look it up” is being a good example.

Honercamp: That is the Western view.

Safi: This question of pedagogy is very important. Role models is not a uniquely Islamic concept, Westerners value role models as well. What I would like to see is Sufis develop an open code of ethics on the mentor-disciple relations that we can look at it that of the shaikh and murîd can know and at least avoid abuses.

Ayoub: I see a tension between American individualism and the communal modes of Asian societies. I am concerned about the view that Islamic pedagogy does not encourage you to think for yourself and that Sufis relate knowledge not to communicate things bit to experience. Sufis have been very verbose. They wrote many books. If it were true that Islamic education in Muslim countries discouraged thought we wouldn’t have had the thinkers[iaa1] we now have. Westerners study Arabic for four years and can barely read, but in Libya students with shorter training can translate habit with no errors. In the West they have preceptors or confessors and in India the guru.

Mousavi: Sufism is not confined to master-disciple relations and many have been against it. Muwardi did, but Rumi didn’t.  Sufism belongs to the faculty of arts. All Sufi writing is beautiful. Attar, Hafiz. It produces beauty and a strong Muslim brotherhood. Sufis have a tolerance we see in no faqih.

Safi: We are talking on different levels. I defended Ibn Arabi from Salafi attacks. We are not here to take partisan positions on Sufism, but to a talk about the development of the personality of the people. I am not even against irfân, the biggest mystery in our life is Allah and we cannot talk about Allah without experiencing His presence. But I am against the hierarchy that prevents going beyond a controlling element. I have seen people who even with a slight influence of Sufism don’t like to be questioned. I think it is part of the reason we have authoritarian societies.

Honercamp: Sherman Jackson has spoken about this too, but there is no doubt that when Islam comes into a country it empowers the population. The master-disciple relationship is one of empowerment.

Ayoub: Sufism began as a one on one relationship, but as it became popular we have the Sufi madrassas coming in. A relationship is then between shaikh and a group.  A Turkish shaikh knowing he as at death invited his disciples to appoint a khalifah. All came with flowers for his shaikh except for one who brought a single wilted flower. Asked about his seeming lack of reverence, he said the other flowers were in the processes of praising God, but this one seemed to have finished, so he brought it.

Hisham: Are there atheist Sufis?

Honercamp: See Gershem Sholam on Trends in Mysticism. Accepting non-Muslims into the process can bring them to the path of becoming a Muslim, but the orthodox position is that Sufis are Muslims but non-Muslims are free to follow the path.

Ayoub: More historically, from the 17th century on when Sufism became known in the West many asked the question as to whether Sufism is Islamic or the ”Iranian genius” introduced it to Islam. It took Arberry and others to refute this. Idriss Shah and others thought that if they introduce Sufism independent of Islam it would lead them to Islam. But I and others have argued that Sufism is Islam. I’ve met women rabbis who say “I’m a trained Sufi” and I say “you can’t be trained to be a Sufi, you have to live it by praying five times a day, etc. true Sufism cannot develop outside the Sharia.

[I had a comment that I did not have the opportunity to make in session so I shall insert there: Learning Arabic is not like learning those things for which originality is required such as pure science, art and love. Empowerment comes from the destruction of the old. Examples are the way the Nation of Islam prepared the way for orthodox Islam among Afro-Americans by turning Christian mythology upside down, and how al-Ghazali refuted the monistic rationalism in The Incoherence of the Philosophers.]


[iaa1]Ahmad: [not delivered] Learning Arabic is not like learning things requiring originality, which is needed is science, in art and in love. Empowerment comes from the destruction of the old. Examples are the Nation of Islam and al-Ghazali’s Tahafut.

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

News and Analysis (8/10/10)

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

As Hasan Nasrallah presents video evidence of Israeli involvement in the Hariri assassination, asking why the UN tribunal never questioned “Lebanese spies confessing they had worked for Israel,”

RIM won’t comment, but “any deal that would allow Saudi officials access to BlackBerry user data could be precedent setting:”

“[S]tudents believe that … their American educations will put them in line for the best jobs when the return home,” but journalist Omid Mamarian says that blacklisting forces students “who demonstrate or speak out against the government … to go abroad in greater numbers”:

The UN blames the rise in civilian casualties on the Taliban’s “increasing use of homemade bombs and political assassination:”

In the aftermath of the controversy over Christians using the Arabic name for God (Allah), a defendant claims “he suffered the burns at a barbecue gathering after he left” the scene of burning church:

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News and Analysis (8/9/10)

Monday, August 9th, 2010

In an example of Islamic cultural authority mainstream media recognizes the rise of Palestinian rap music; “My mom is so proud of my music”:”

As Israel investigates itself, Netanyahu sets an expected tone:

Aid workers under attack:

Details are unavailable:

Even though neither side wants to proceed: