Archive for May, 2015

News and Analysis (5/31/15)

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

A man in a “profanity-laced shirt, accepted an invitation to join the evening prayer inside the mosque, and said the experience changed him” and another “who had earlier said he didn’t care if his t-shirt was offensive, assured a small crowd of Muslims at the end of the rally that he wouldn’t wear it again” …

… “‘[W]e do not match wrongness with wrongness, but with grace and mercy and goodness,’ Usama Shami, president of the Islamic center, said Friday during prayers at the mosque”:

“It was never the team’s intention to exclude female participation, which was reflected in the offer to forfeit. The team sincerely regrets if any team members or participants were hurt or felt discriminated based on their gender due to the accommodation made by the opposing team”:

After the man next to her got an unopened can of beer, the flight attended told her, “We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people, because they may use it as a WEAPON on the plane”. United has apologized but its partner Republic Airways, operator of the shuttle, has not commented:

“It’s not sufficient to say: ‘How to help these people?’ This is not sufficient. There’s something wrong with humanity’s way of thinking. Ultimately we are lacking concern for others’ lives, others’ wellbeing”:

“Erdogan appeals to conservative Muslim Turks who feel they were treated as second-class citizens during decades of rule by secular parties. He has spoken with scorn of the old secular elite. ‘They drink their whisky on the Bosphorus … and hold the rest of the people in contempt,’ he once said”:

“Online, images of a lion and lioness are shared frequently to symbolize this union. This is symbolic of finding a brave and strong husband, but also propagandises the notion that supporting a jihadist husband and taking on the ISIS ideology is [an] empowering role for females”:

News and Analysis (5/29/15)

Friday, May 29th, 2015

“Sunni Muslim Arab states have maintained an air bombing campaign against the Houthis, allied to archrival Shi’ite Iran, but the Houthis retain the upper hand in battles in the south” …

.. and the apparent military stalemate has provoked “mutterings around the Gulf states now that the Saudi leadership is impulsive and rash” compared to their cautious predecessors and comparisons to both Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel as arrogant and barbarous,” to the glee of Iran …

… which comes off as the moderate in the region:

Despite concerns over the fate of antiquities, the terrorist state in Iraq and Syria leaves the ruins at the Unesco World Heritage site unharmed, and instead executes “20 men in the amphitheatre, accusing them of being government supporters”:

“Usama Shami, president of the community center, knew about the protest from Phoenix police and the FBI and said he respected the bikers’ right to demonstrate, he told local station 12 News. ‘Everybody has a right to be a bigot. Everybody has a right to be a racist. Everybody has a right to be an idiot'”:

“Majida and Adly Abumayaleh were just driving across their suburban Minneapolis-area neighborhood on a Friday night to get their teen son from a party. Until a self-appointed watchwoman, Nancy Kay Knoble, decided they might be agents of international jihad and grabbed a rifle”:

“Classical Muslim theologians and jurists differed on many subjects…. They developed an etiquette of agreeing to disagree, including the explicit admission that one’s opinion was simply an opinion and that true knowledge lies with God. These principles and practices support plurality of thought and free speech.”:

The gay filmmaker responsible for “A Sinner In Mecca” accepts Islam while on pilgrimage, declaring that the difference between a true believer and a radical is faith” and “it is only the believers who will have the ability to transform the religion from within”:

Some “Muslims and other Londoners” were shocked by leading questions asking children as young as nine if they agreed with “hypothetical statements, such as ‘I believe my religion is the only correct one,’ ‘God has a purpose for me,’ and ‘I would mind if a family of a different race or religion moved next door'”:

“I have discussed my veil greatly with professors, and I believe it’s wrong to force anyone to wear it as well as to force anyone to remove it. You’re taking away an individual’s right to her religious freedom”:

News and Analysis (5/26/15)

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

“Whether it’s Islamic women or whoever, it’s just not right they can abuse people like that. No one should be doing that to anyone regardless of race or gender or religious creed”:

Sectarian tensions grow in Pakistan:

“Nationalist monks are behind new powers enabling authorities to ‘organise’ family planning among groups with high birth rates such as Rohingyas” …

… while pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi  continues to evade the issue, saying “she is a politician and that she never sought to be a human rights champion. Critics note she is carefully choosing her battles, in part because she has presidential ambitions”:

“The presiding judge, Abolghassem Salavati, is known for handing down harsh sentences and is accused by human rights groups of cracking down on journalists and activists … [and who last year] sentenced [a man] to death for heresy for his interpretation of the Jonah and the Whale story as a symbolic tale”:

“We have no proof that a Middle Eastern billionaire is sitting on this salacious picture, but we do know that the breasts in the painting were blurred out by a Fox news channel. How peculiar, to project this bizarre outbreak of American puritanism on to Qatar…. So how come “we” are the ones censoring Picasso?”

“The Quran has no clear reference to masturbation and the authenticity of many hadiths is questionable. Despite Han’s assertive religious stance, only a limited number of Islamic interpretations categorize masturbation as “haram,” while most of others call it a “makruh” (disliked) act:

“Turkey’s general election looks likely to push Tayyip Erdogan’s dream of an all-powerful presidency further from his reach…. Barred by the constitution from party politics as head of state, Erdogan has nonetheless campaigned across Turkey”:

“I have always said I would much prefer to be killed by a Sunni terrorist organization than a Shiite terrorist organization” says a Sunni tribesman in Iraq …

… while “[o]ver the past year defeated Iraq security forces have repeatedly left US-supplied military equipment on the battlefield, which the US has targeted in subsequent airstrikes against Islamic State forces:

“Southern separatist fighters and Sunni tribesmen had regained control of Dhalea following heavy fighting on Monday, officials and residents said. It is the first major advance by the Houthis’ opponents since Saudi-led coalition air strikes began in March”:

“The director of the Hamas-controlled side of the crossing, Maher Abu Sabha, says the border is scheduled to close again Wednesday afternoon…. The one-direction opening reflects the deepening hostility between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Egypt…. Abu Sabha called on Egypt to fully open the crossing”:

Marriage Law in Indonesia: Deconstructing the Concept of Women’s Rights Within Islam

Monday, May 25th, 2015

[This is the ninth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Islamic Law and Ethics held in Herndon, VA in June  2014. These notes are NOT a transcript, but a lightly edited presentation of  my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone. Names of participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the conference director.]

“Marriage Law in Indonesia: Deconstructing the Concept of Women’s Rights Within Islam”

Shahirah Mahmood, University of Wisconsin – Madison

I want to show there are changes in the hermeneutic arguments with respect to polygamy [sic; Ms. Mahmoud uses the word “polygamy” in lieu of “polygyny” because she feels it is taken to mean marriage to multiple wives the general public]. Because Indonesia is neither a secular nor theocratic state, religion permeates the public space. Six religions are recognized by the state (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and indigenous Indonesian religions). Muhammadiyyah (Qur’an and hadith) and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU, traditionalists) are the principal Islamic organizations. Marriage is at the juncture of public and private concerns. Women’s organizations are acting for reforms in ways that are new and puzzling. The want equal treatment in individual rights, but celebrate the differences. They oppose polygamy, out of court divorce, and non-support after divorce. Yet, they want men to be heads of households and responsible for women. How do they reconcile this?

They prefer the politics of alliance to the politics of autonomy. A cultural conception links women’s subjectivities to their motherhood roles and duties. An ethical-legal model of marital justice promotes women’s rights as mother’s rights to physical and emotional protection.

After independence, women lobbied for a marriage law. Previously a blend of customary and Shafi law covered marriage, but it was not codified. In 1959 the parliament debated two bills. The Soemari Bill (representing secular groups) would ban polygamy and the Ministry of Religious Affairs bill (representing the religious groups) would regulate it. A period of authoritarian rule followed.

The Soemari bill provided equal protection of men and women, of which monogamy was an example. Mothers as nurturer and fathers as providers is the mode of marriage, which is monogamous. But what about the rights of unmarried women? What of the rights of the children of unmarried women? Motherhood became a strategic feminist strategy. Both the religious and secular feminist groups articulated this motherhood model. Although secular, Mrs. Soemari quoted Qur’an in support of her position. Is it possible for a man to divide his affection between two or more women? The Muslim groups also treated “polygamy” as a permitted exception to a preferred monogamous model. When Suharto was in power 1966-98, he accommodated Islamic piety as long as it was subservient to an expanded bureaucracy.

Muslimat NU assembled in their 14th congress in 2000 separate from the NU meetings. “Polygamy” is permitted but conditional and discouraged by Qur’an and a hadith by Abu Hurairah. Four reasons have been offered to justify it in particular cases: the wife too ill to perform duties, the man is hypersexual, the wife is barren, or the husband is able to provide equal treatment to all wives; but in the case 2 (and case 3?) the wife must be eligible to seek divorce. Muslimah NU rejected the argument of men’s hypersexuality since the Qur’an says marriage defends from immorality and fasting is the fallback. Should a wife not relent to the husband’s decision she could choose to divorce him. This places happiness, welfare, and freedom above children. Their understanding has evolved since the 1950s.  The tools for contextual analysis of Islamic doctrine were not available to the women’s groups in the 1950s.  They now accept polygyny only under circumstances of personal emergencies.



Sarra Tlili, University of Florida. I will say negative things about modernity tomorrow, but I will say something positive now. In these ways it is provoking positive change, especially with regard to women’s issues: Equal in religion and equal in society. You did not mention in your presentation concerns that women not lose their femininity and men their masculinity.  The first wife of al-Mansur imposed as-sadaq al-qayrawâni upon him, that he could not take other wives or concubines. Polygyny was there for a reason, and if it comes back it will be for a reason. We know many women in polygynous marriages are there by choice. To Chris, there is a distinction between sadaqa and zakat. In Qur’an they are used interchangeably but not in the fiqh. I am bothered by the shaming of the recipient. It is empowering financially while crushing psychologically.

Samy Ayoub, University of Arizona. Why did polygyny become the battlefield when it is on the margins of society? Also why discuss polygyny in terms of male lust? There are more pertinent social issues. Also does the claim that without protection women are vulnerable mean that women were left vulnerable throughout the pre-modern period?

Mahmood. The Dutch introduced the marriage ordinance act that prohibited polygamy after the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1824, when they also restricted the number of people who can go to Hajj. Polygamy became one of the highly politicized issues under the policy of quashing political Islam. In Java the practice of polygamy was high, with some men marrying more than four women.

General Discussion.

[Name withheld]. I don’t argue for polygyny, but how would you treat the issue that because of war and other things polygyny is an Islamic socio-sexual necessity?

[Name withheld]. Aisyiyiah, the other organization I studied, actually talks about the historical reasons for  polygamy. They argue that when such situations arise we can invoke darûrah (necessity) social and darûrah individual. The deputy chair of Muhammadiya said publicly that the principle of marriage is monogamy.  He said the men of Muhammadiya are not afraid of our wives, we are afraid of being unjust.

[Name withheld]. This is proposed state law debated. What is the current law?

[Name withheld]. Monogamy is the principle of marriage and four reasons for women to seek divorce and the grounds for seeking a second wife. Only financial equity is required, not emotional.

[Name withheld]. The word justice is invoked all the time. We assume everyone knows what justice is and that we all agree on it. Yet no one has defined justice, its objectives, or what is to be achieved. Then the only concept is the one advanced by Western society. Are we replacing one oppressive institution patriarchy with another, the nation-state? This march of modernity is bringing a Christian ideal of marriage even as the West moves away from monogamous marriage. Thirty years from now will we hear presentations on why gay marriage is fine and monogamy is not good in Islam?

[Name withheld]. The culture of motherhood was in Islam and then substantiated through the ethical legal model in Indonesia. Most of the Muhammadiyya members supported Suharto because he did not encroach on hajj and Islamic schools. Their numbers increased. But two reformist thinkers, Abdurahman Wahid of NU and Nurcholish Madjid of Muhammadiyah, talked about the ideas of reformist Islam and transcendental ethics. This is not a capture of female elites, parliamentarians. In passing the anti-DV laws, 30% of cases were men leaving women after marrying them out of court. The Muslim women’s organizations dropped their article on polygamy from the bill. It passed later as a present to the women’s groups from Megawatti as she was leaving office. They are not espousing monogamy as a model. They are wrestling with what women’s rights are. Do they rise above religion and culture? The organizations I follow do not see it this way. They are concerned with how policies affect others in society. Their main principle is bil ma`rûf. They want women’s welfare, her individual agency to choose, but are aware of the impact on future generations and above all to the state.

[Name withheld]. I would like to make a fatwa that everyone should get married but if they cannot get married for financial reasons I think zakat can be given to them.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad. We have polygyny in America, notwithstanding its illegality. There was woman who convinced her husband to take a poor friend of hers as a second wife. Soon after, the man admitted he was incapable of caring for both women equally and divorced the first wife.

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

News and Analysis (5/24/15)

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Arab world is outraged as US blocks an effort to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons:

“The comments by the Iranian deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, carried by state television, came after he and the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, attended a reportedly stormy closed session of parliament”:

The human toll in Palmyra is the first priority …

… “The ruins at Palmyra would not normally qualify for destruction by Isis, but the attention drawn to the site might tempt the group to destroy them as a way to inflict psychological pain” …

… while “[t]he commander of international forces in Afghanistan … said Afghans largely did not agree with the ideology of the [IS], … he contradicted his earlier statement that Isis was not active on the battlefields of Afghanistan by saying it was reportedly fighting the Taliban for control of territory and men”:

Partially declassified documents demonstrate that US intelligence anticipated the rise of a “Salafist state” in eastern Syria and new it threatened Iraqi stability but welcomed the development because they  believed it would isolate the Syrian regime:

“[T]he most vitriolic opposition wasn’t from radical Islamists who couldn’t take a joke … [but from] Islamophobes and anti-Muslim bigots … [who] brought to mind a lot of contemporary and historical accusations of ‘cultural apostasy’ … [as w]hen Lindsey Lohan was snapped carrying a Quran”:

“Most of America’s staunchest allies enforce speech laws much stricter than [anything in the Qur’an] — yet no one accuses such Western nations of being free speech obstructionists”; why do Italy, Switzerland and Canada get a pass?

“The Quran does not hide its preference for those who possess knowledge and those whose faith is tempered by reason”, but “Muslims have mistakenly began equating knowledge with a narrowly defined conception of religious knowledge, and scholars with again narrowly defined conception of scholarship”:

“Saudi Arabia’s top Sunni cleric on Saturday branded a deadly attack on Shi’ite Muslims a bid to sow chaos, after villagers targeted in the bombing vented their anger at what they saw as the Sunni-dominated government’s indifference to their safety”:

News and Analysis (5/21/15)

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

The full panel overturned a previous decision in favor of an actress who had been defrauded into participating in the project as a case of unconstitutional “prior restraint” because ” copyright law is not intended to protect people from the type of harm Garcia claimed to have suffered”:

“Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said Malaysia and Indonesia … said the two countries ‘greed to provide them temporary shelter provided that the resettlement and repatriation process will be done in one year by the international community'”:

Appreciative of the liberty modern life accords women, Huda Jawad “never dared to open” the Qur’an until she learned how to “critically engage with it”, embarking on the “thrilling experience [of] a direct and unmediated conversation with God” that ignited a “passion for Islamic feminism” …

… while in Egypt, “feminists differ over whether laws need to be reformed to better reflect the original Islamic jurisprudence or whether the religiously-based laws should be tossed out all together”:

“In the euphoria and sense of relief that followed my release, one important fact seems to have been lost: that all three of us are still on trial on nonexistent evidence, and that I am in danger of being convicted once again for the same baseless charges” — Peter Greste:

“Libya, which has descended into near anarchy since NATO warplanes helped rebels overthrow Gaddafi in a 2011 civil war, is now the third big stronghold for the Sunni Islamist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which declared a Caliphate to rule over all Muslims from territory it holds in Syria and Iraq”:

The terrorist state’s seizure of a famed archaeological site refutes speculation that they are in retreat:

The Ethical Structure of Islamic Jurisprudence: The Cases of al-Juwayni and the Hanafis

Monday, May 18th, 2015

[This is the eighth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Islamic Law and Ethics held in Herndon, VA in June  2014. These notes are NOT a transcript, but a lightly edited presentation of  my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone. Names of participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the conference director.]

“The Ethical Structure of Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni’s Usul al-Fiqh”

David R. Vishanoff, University of Oklahoma

This is a heuristic exercise to tease out the significance of the little choices Juwayni makes in defining terms related to ethics. It is a very influential text that tells us how many Muslims up until today think about the sources of law. How do you solve interpretative puzzles? Juwayni is in the divine command view of ethics, not natural law. He uses the language of building, as if fiqh is an edifice built from human labor. Is he claiming that ethical norms are constructed through dialog ? Does the law grow organically out of revelation, as if the fruit is determined by the DNA in the plant? No, he says it is built. Others speak of fiqh as the understanding of revelation, but Juwayni says knowledge is just reflection on the “true object of inquiry.” When he speaks of reward, he seems to refer to reward and punishment in the afterlife. It is about consequences, but it is not “consequentialist” in the sense of consequences in this life on the self and others. This is more individualistic and yet not egoistic. Here the purpose of law is not the welfare of the community, but of success of the individual. It is deontic and deontological and agent-centered. This is ethics, but not virtue ethics. It is about what to do, not what to be. Fiqh is knowledge of which hukm (rule) is assigned to what combination of time, place, person and circumstances. Not all deontic systems are deontological. There are conditions and prohibitions put upon the agent.  There are eternal consequences. It is not a strong realist system, for although every act has a property, it is not an intrinsic property, but what has been assigned by God, a more voluntarist or command theory. It is agent-centered, not patient-centered, based on my obligation to God, not on the rights of [i.e., obligations to] others.

Legal science is a kind of knowledge, facts about reward and punishment. Juwayni divides speech into commands, prohibitions, statements, and questions. A command is the act of requesting, so imperative verbs are presumed to be commands unless there is contrary evidence. A command may be multiple commands, as the command to pray is both the command to pray and to do wudu (ritual ablustions). There is a great variety of language in the Qur’an, but this vision wants to reduce them all to statements of law. Someone has said instructions are the only kind of information the Qur’an can convey. Jasser Auda wants to fit ethics into a modified version of this paradigm. He will have to modify it quite a bit. Juwayni is a Shafi and everything particularizes everything. If you have conflicting texts, the particular trumps the general. The philosophical tradition takes the opposite approach. There, what matters is the integrity of your decision making. This has an existentialist flavor. It is not in Juwayni.

“Necessity and Ethical Hierarchy in Islamic Law”

Samy Ayoub, Ph.D., University of Arizona

How should we understand the relationship between law and ethics? What is the status of Islamic law today? I focus on Hanafi jurisprudence. Why do we need legal systems? For me, conflict resolution is the core function. Muslims have always held that the legal system is to maintain order and harmony. We need to see Muslim jurists as lawyers rather than theologians. They make a clear decision between what is established in a court of law and what is a matter of conscience. Law solely intervenes when there is social conflict.

Islamic law evokes conflicting responses in Western eyes. Modernist Muslim thinkers have attempted to completely sidestep medieval law. Thus, Westerners have welcomed Islamic banking, Islamic bioethics, etc. One field tries to deconstruct the Muslim narrative without providing an alternative; others overtly wish to impose the Western agenda.

A distinction is made between teleological and deontological theories. The ethical value of telling a lie is determined either by its consequences or regardless of its consequences. Ethical realism ties ethics to the property of the act itself. Or, an act is good or bad strictly because God has declared it so. Necessity in Islamic law reflects a hierarchy with human life at the top. Legal choices of Hanafi jurists assert that one may violate a ruling in order to avoid a greater evil. Thus, there is a mandate to eat swine to avoid death by starvation. I argue that an understanding of rights is necessary to understand the juristic choices of Hanafi jurists. A key concern of fiqh is establishment of norms of human conduct Hanafi jurists dedicate a section to the “the excused one” for example whose medical condition prevents him from maintaining wudu. Although the term darûrah (necessity) does not appear in the Qur’an, the term coercion does appear and provides the framework for the theory of darûra. Ijâra, sharika, muzâri`a and other sale contracts were justified on this basis. “Hardship necessitates ease.” Ibn Abidin argues that the feces and urine of mice are impure, yet people were not required to drain the wells. Similarly, no one was bothered by pigeon droppings at the ka`ba [until recently].  Yet, there is a hierarchy: Eat pork before eating carrion. Drink impure water or urine before drinking wine, which is both ritually impure and causes intoxication. Ibn Abidin gives collective rights precedent over individual rights (a private structure cannot block the road). The theory does not mitigate criminal charges. One cannot kill another Muslim to avoid a lesser sin. The challenge to the theory lies in cases where the conflicting interests are close in value. It reflects a consequentialist approach.


Hamid Mavani, McGill University. If you take the theory of Juwayni, which is the dominant Ashari paradigm, it is difficult to accommodate the discourse of human rights, gender equality, etc. The Shia have more scope to deal with these issues within the fiqh. You are not reasoning what is good or bad, but to discover what is in the divine scripture. This makes it difficult to engage the modern dialog. Juwayni does not accommodate Samy’s discussion of collective vs. individual rights. Some have argued that property may be stolen from non-Muslims in a kufr society because all belongs to Allah—provided you do not get caught, because if you get caught you would tarnish the name of Islam. This use of darûrah is neither systematic, nor is it maslaha. It is subjective and will give different answers depending on who is posing the question. I disagree with Juwayni, but his theory is methodical and self-consistent.

Usaama al-Azami, Princeton University. Normative theories are divided in Western thought into teleological, deontological, or virtue ethics. I maintain all three exist in the Islamic tradition and we are struggling to force Islamic theory into one of these categories when it doesn’t work that way. More people are more influenced by Sufi virtue ethics than by Hanafi methodology. Al-Ghazali is a systematic Sufi. How does Ibn Abidin’s style differ from that of contemporaries? I think he is at the use of modernity in a different context than Abu Hanifa. If we think about Juwayni’s broader work (Ghazali was his student), he addresses the question of what we do when a crisis obliterates all knowledge.

General Discussion.

Name Omitted. Why are there such contrasts, and are we confusing the issue by bringing in Western categories? Juwayni was not just an usûli, and he wrote other works on fiqh and political thought.

Name Omitted. I think this is how law works everywhere. Ibn Abidin is working clearly within a tradition of thought and clearly justifies his departures. Things are not so clear with Jasser. Hallaq has an article about Ibn Abidin in which he says Ibn Abidin departed from the madhhab because he was on the cusp of modernity, but I see that he was able to respond only from within the madhhab; what makes him modern is his use of the tools of ijtihad.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad. The process of discovery applies equally well in the divine command model as the natural law model. However, this presentation has made clear one difference. The argument that “the exception proves the rule” is perplexing to the natural scientist, but self-evident to the lawyer.

Name Omitted. There is always someone who decides when there will be an exception: When someone will be put in a concentration camp.

Name Omitted. Can we say that al-Juwayni’s work is legal theory rather than legal practice? He is looking for yaqîn (certainty), which will make things more categorical.

Name Omitted. I want to introduce an idea for discussion: the believer’s general attitude towards the law. Jesus said he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Paul then says the law is a taskmaster and we must be saved from not only sin, but from the law. In Islam, the law is a divine gift and the prophet comes with a shariah, even when it is not extant. For me it is difficult to find the connection of the law to the people. The law is necessary, but limited. Ibn Arabi came to Sufism after Sharia. In that regard Juwayni’s defense of the law becomes important.

Name Omitted. Even in his time Juwayni made comments about maslaha. He said he spent a long time asking why drinking a small quantity of wine would be forbidden, except that the drinking of  a little wine awakens the desire to drink more.

Name Omitted. Juwayni and the Hanafis seem to be the extremes of a spectrum, as if they have nothing in common. What does Juwayni say about eating pork to avoid starvation?

Name Omitted. That the distinctions on the difference on the relations of particulars with general reflects the distinction of legal verses natural may be more relevant than the distinction of Western vs. Islamic. Time could be a factor. Juwayni had a broader thinking than his legal theory. Do we need a synthesis? Carl Ernst is satisfied to have a diversity of approaches. Tilma Nagel has written a book on all of Juwayni’s thought which suggests that salvation for Juwayni is to love every detail of the law, not because he would earn salvation, but because he demonstrates to himself that he was destined for salvation.

Name Omitted. At the end of his life Juwayni went back to the “unquestioning faith of the old woman,” concluding that all of his study was a waste of time.

Name Omitted. We are dealing with different sources. I am dealing with books of fiqh, so it is a different discourse. We have a section on darûrah in Hanafi legal theories, so I don’t see this as a rupture from pre-modern discourse. Some people have claimed the civil code of Egypt created a different kind of human being, and I find that hard to swallow. Similarly, some Islamists think that imposing Islamic law will change people.

Name Omitted. I would like to caution us against forming conclusions based on bits and pieces of information. I fear Mavani’s comments come out as essentialist in an untended way to others without his breadth and depth of knowledge. I want to caution against dichotomous thinking.

Name Omitted. I hope we are contextualizing and not essentializing.

Name Omitted. Yes. If this were to be put on the web as an educational tool there would be a problem. But we are all scholars in this room and this tells us where we need to go back and study in depth.

Name Omitted. There is no component of tusawwuf. Why didn’t the Sufis and fuquha collaborate to create a legal system informed by ethics? I don’t see it in Shafi literature. I don’t see that even in the modern books by Shafi or Hanafi scholars, who simply produce the same knowledge and say if you want ethics go somewhere else.  We know some fuquha were Sufis, but why didn’t they collaborate in a systematic way?

Name Omitted. Historically, the Sufis created those scholars known for their theopathic utterances, which created a tension; but the Sufis saw this and there was a period of rehabilitation of Sufism leading to ideas like those of S.H. Nasr. I don’t think you go to fiqh for virtue ethics.

Name Omitted. It might be useful to consider works like the Reliance of the Traveler.

Name Omitted. People don’t complain when a philosophy professor doesn’t write about psychology in the same text.

Name Omitted. I think there is no such thing as an airtight theory. It is a question of understanding the limitations of theories, even ethical theories and not using them as a norm. The Hanafi approach seemed to me case-based rather than arbitrary. They were aware that they were human beings using human thought in their process of discovery. What was the method for determining the hierarchy.

Name Omitted. I think asking to combine law with tasawwuf is a modern question.

Name Omitted. Perhaps the faqih should be informed of tusawwuf, but to tell him that you must incorporate tasawwuf in our work is a disservice to both fields.

Name Omitted. I think compartmentalization is a modern phenomenon and we are now moving back to interdisciplinary modes. In the earlier times of Islam there was this was the norm.

Name Omitted. I apologize if I come across as too harsh to our legacy, but I think it is remarkable, almost miraculous. I don’t want to essentialize a rich tradition. I see two different paradigms.

Name Omitted. When I say law is different from ethics I am not saying law is unethical. As long as we think law will solve our moral failures, it will not work.

Name Omitted. After the tenth century all madhahab were using the same methodology. The Hanafi said Muslims are better than non-Muslims in religious conception but in violations of the law they will be punished equally.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad. There was a great deal of nuance in the presentations and their juxtaposition. Juwayni would agree that one may eat pork when faced with starvation, but he would do so only because it is explicitly permitted in the Qur’an (16:115). Islamic law leaves many farâghât void areas which positive law seeks to occupy. Unless the legislator can prove that legislation in these areas serves the maqasid, such voids should be presumed to be mubâh (optional) and the intrusion of positive law is an act of usurpation.

Name Omitted. If I understand the legal tradition, Shabani and Abu Yusuf, we need to distinguish between siyâsa (politics) and Shariah. I don’t think it is necessary to be embedded in any culture. I am concerned about the epistemology of discomfort and hypothetical ideas about what could have happened. Where does the Ottoman decriminalization of homosexuality fit into this discourse?

Name Omitted. We deliberately introduced this English term “ethics” because the categories have not lined up neatly forcing upon us the question is there anything in Islamic discourse that would allow us to integrate this discourse. We may have to shift back and forth between different discourses. There is great appreciation for Al-Ghazali who does try to bring fiqh and spirituality together. Perhaps in the future integration will be an individual project as we all live in a plurality of normative discourses. How did al-Juwayni do it? Nagel says he started out striving with all his intellect to understand and to prove what he understood, and at the end concluded the religion of the old woman to just believe what you heard is the right approach.

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

News and Analysis (5/18/15)

Monday, May 18th, 2015

“As an independent academic and scholar, I will continue to uphold and defend democratic values, human rights and national reconciliation. These are the exact values that Egypt needs at the moment…. I believe this is the essence of why I was targeted and what my case is all about” …

… The court also passed the capital punishment … [a Palestinian] held in Israeli jails for the past 19 years, and … serving a jail term of 48 life sentences plus 20 years for resisting the Israeli occupation: as well as two men killed by Israel during their wars against Gaza last summer and in 2008 …

… “‘Ultimately, if the verdict is carried out, it will push many Islamist youths further away from peaceful political participation, and make it virtually impossible to achieve political reconciliation in Egypt….’ [E]ven Egyptians who did not like Morsi’s politics think the sentence was excessive”:

After seizure of Ramadi by “forces of the self-declared Islamic State seized over the weekend [in] the group’s biggest victory of the year to date” Iraq reluctantly let’s “militias – which have been coordinating with Iraqi forces, the US-led coalition providing air support, and Iranian militias” loose on Ramadi:

Jerusalem’s patriarch noted that “[t]he canonizations of the two Palestinians were the first of their kind ‘since the days of the apostles,'” and Mahmoud Abbas said canonization “affirms our determination to build a sovereign, independent and free Palestine based on the principles of equal citizenship”:

“[A] 12-year-old girl who asked a judge for permission to marry. The female judge refused, based on her age. A year later, the girl came back pregnant and again asked for permission. Because in Moroccan culture it’s very important that a child carry the family name of the father, the judge had to reconsider”:

“Luther … demanded that German peasants revolting against their feudal overlords be ‘struck dead’, comparing them to ‘mad dogs’, and authored On the Jews and Their Lies … and called for the destruction of Jewish homes and synagogues…. Hardly a poster boy for reform and modernity for Muslims in 2015”:

“Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television reported heavy shelling by Saudi forces at Houthi outposts across the border after the fighters fired mortars at an army post in Saudi Arabia’s southern Najran province…. There was no word on casualties in the incidents”:

A former congressional candidate has admitted plotting to kill residents and destroy a mosque and school in a Muslim village in New York state…. Said a Muslim observer, “All would agree, if a Muslim did this, the perpetrator would be immediately identified as a terrorist then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”:

“Formerly, Egypt’s stock market was free of any taxation on profits. However, last July, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb applied taxes on dividends and capital gains, worth 10 percent each”:

News and Analysis (5/16/15)

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

As the establishment circles the wagons to denounce Sy Hersh’s allegations of White House deception, the veteran journalist, visibly irritated by the controversy, hangs tough, and at least one major revelation, that an former ISI officer leaked the information of bin Ladin’s whereabouts to the US, is confirmed:

“Those sentenced to death with Morsi on Saturday include the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie, as well as one of the Arab world’s best known Islamic scholars, the Qatar-based Youssef al-Qaradawi” …

… as well as one woman, the “former international media coordinator for ousted president” …

… causing Turkey’s PM to accuse Egypt of “returning to the ‘old Egypt’ by rolling back democracy” and to criticize “western nations that he accused of not speaking out against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ousted Morsi, or against death sentences being handed down”:

U.S. forces killed the so-called Islamic State’s oil minister and took his wife captive:

“To point out that humor has thrived in Islamic lands for centuries would be painfully obvious for those who have studied the basics of world history.” Rather than mock revered religious figures or oppressed peoples, today’s Muslim cartoonists aim their pens at the malicious, corrupt, and violent:

After the “mayor of the southern town of Venelles, tweeted an appeal to ban Islam … [and] was quoted by Le Monde as proposing a plan for Muslims to practice their religion ‘in their country of origin’, … [the UMP, his political] party said it plans to exclude him”:

“[I]f anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of an entire people” — Qur’an 5:32:

By whatever name you wish to give it, is it a terrorist group, a functioning state, a group of millinialist religious fanatics “that expects an apocalyptic showdown from which it will emerge victorious”, or all three?

To those who say Islam needs a reformation, Reza Aslan replies, “What do you think is going on? People think that reformation is about holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Reformation is about a cataclysmic debate about who has the authority to define a faith. Is it the individuals or is it the institution?”:

“The highest-ranking officer in the [U.S.] Armed Forces from 2007 to 2011 is essentially saying that … long-standing allies in the Middle East are trying to lock it into permanent confrontation with Iran…. Why shouldn’t the U.S. have more options … to achieve its interests and reduce the threats it faces? … 

… yet “it seems like arms sales are the Obama administration’s tool of choice these days for dealing with everything from counterterrorism to a lagging economy. And the consequences, unsurprisingly, are bloody”:

News and Analysis (5/14/15)

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Among explosive claims in Sy Hersch’s latest exposé are that Bin Ladin was an invalid prisoner of the ISI, that his whereabouts were leaked to the CIA by “a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer” out for the reward money, and that the U.S. agreed to Saudi and Pakistani demands not to take him alive” …

… and the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist dismisses While House insistence that “the notion that the operation that killed Osama Bin Ladin was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false”:

… the faith “that our government would never ever lie to us about something so big, so important, as the circumstances surrounding the killing of bin Laden[,] …  unites both [right and left] wings of the Washington establishment … [and] is almost religious in its intensity in … the “mainstream” media”:

“Religious people of all backgrounds should recognize that this legal neutrality on religion has produced a society remarkably amenable to religion…. At the same time: Under most moral codes, setting out to demean or mock the deepest, defining beliefs of your neighbor is rude and cruel”:

During the initial consultation, the aim is for various options for the women’s mosque to be discussed with both locals and international Islamic scholars…. Early plans include facilities specifically tailored for Muslim women … including services for divorce, bereavement, legal advice, parenting, and” charity:

“Saudi King Salman pulled out, sending Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman instead. The White House has said such decisions were not snubs and has portrayed the summit as a set of working meetings rather than symbolic photo sessions” …

… while “Yemen’s humanitarian cease-fire came under significant strain in its first 24 hours Wednesday, disrupted by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike, fighting between rival sides in a strategic province and shelling by coalition warships west of the port city of Aden”:

“They [the government] should not stay in power, if they are not able to bring the perpetrators to justice. One after another incident is happening and they are not able to do anything” – Imran Sarker, head of a Bangladeshi bloggers’ association:

Unlike the Muslims of Medina, who welcomed the Meccan refugees, Malaysia’s deputy home minister, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, wants the refugees from Burma to go back to the land of persecution saying, “We have to send the right message that they are not welcome here”:

“[In the Soviet Union] women had to function like robots … but a passage in the Hadith, the teachings of the Prophet, that says women should be good wives, meaning they should be sexually educated. This is what we do” –Rakhat Kenjebek kyzy founder of Kyrgystan’s first sex school: