05
Oct
07

Islam Needs an Age of Reason

_mg_5942.jpg

Love and religion do not always mix. No wonder the most common question sent to my website these days comes from young Muslims in America and Europe. They desperately want to know if they can marry non-Muslims.

Their parents and imams tell them that Islam forbids marriage outside the faith. But that is not necessarily true. Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, a progressive American imam educated at traditional universities in the Middle East, has written a clear defense of inter-faith marriage from an Islamic perspective. I have posted his “blessing” on my website.

Now, this interfaith blessing is such a popular download that I have had to get it translated into several languages to keep up with demand. Welcome to a hot 21st-Century issue, as more Muslims are born in the West or migrate to it, then meet people of other religions.

What this imam did goes beyond matters of the heart. It reflects the power of using the mind to reinterpret the Qur’an for contemporary times. He has captured the spirit of ijtihad (pronounced ij-tee-had), Islam’s own tradition of creative reasoning. As globalization persists and pluralism spreads, both Muslims and non-Muslims need to know that Islam offers a positive alternative to the tribal mentality.

Ijtihad has a history of achievement. In the early centuries of Islam, 135 schools of interpretation flourished. In Muslim Spain, scholars would teach their students to abandon “expert” opinions about the Qur’an if their conversations with the living, breathing Qur’an produced better evidence for their peaceful ideas. And Cordoba, one of the most sophisticated cities in Muslim Spain, housed 70 libraries. That rivals the number of public libraries in most cosmopolitan cities today!

From the 8th to the 12th centuries, the “gates of ijtihad” — of discussion, debate and dissent — remained wide open. This is also when Islamic civilization led the world in ingenuity. If ever we Muslims needed to renew our commitment to ijtihad, it is now. From the emerging generation, I continually hear this question: “Is there a way to reconcile our faith with freedom of thought?”

Yes, there is. The Qur’an contains three times as many verses calling on us to think than verses that tell us what is forbidden or acceptable. In that sense, re-interpretation – which means re-thinking Qur’anic passages, not re-writing them – is an Islamic responsibility. The Illinois-based Nawawi Foundation even describes it as a “religious duty of the first magnitude”.

That is why I and other young Muslims have launched Project Ijtihad, an effort to revive critical thinking in Islam by sparking honest debates both online and in person. As my story about the American imam shows, Muslims in the West are perfectly positioned to rediscover ijtihad. After all, it is in countries like the United States, Canada and Britain that we already enjoy precious freedoms to think, express, challenge and be challenged on matters of interpretation. What a precious gift.

But even if Project Ijtihad is launched from the West, it cannot stop in the West. People throughout the Islamic world need to know of their God-given right to think for themselves.

In the Islamic world, renewing ijtihad might start with liberating the entrepreneurial talents of Muslim women through micro-business loans. The Qur’an states that women are subject to men’s authority only if men spend money to “maintain” women. So if a woman earns her own assets, as did the Prophet Muhammad’s beloved first wife, Khadija, she can make decisions for herself.

Sound like a fantasy? Then consider this example. A journalist told me about meeting a woman in Kabul who took a tiny loan from a non-governmental organization. She started a candle-making business and, with her earnings, became literate.

For the first time ever, this woman read the Qur’an for herself rather than relying on local imams to select the passages she would see. She learned that the Qur’an gives all women the right to reject marriage. And if women choose marriage, the Qur’an advises them to draft contracts protecting their rights as equal creatures of God.

She recited these passages to her husband, who had been abusing her for years. Since then, he has not laid an unwanted finger on her. Could it be that what the United Nations has identified as key deficits in the Arab Muslim world — the deficits of knowledge, freedom and women’s empowerment — might all benefit from rediscovering ijtihad? The possibility begs for our attention.

Project Ijtihad is strengthened by the voices of others who are encouraging Muslims to change. Consider the words of Dr. Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre at Oxford in the UK. During the recent controversy over whether Muslim women in Britain should veil, he wrote: “In contrast to a blind acceptance of specific 7th-Century tribal Arabian dress and cultural norms, which have no eternal scriptural endorsement (as believers are required only to be modest), modern Muslims should revive the Islamic principle of ijtihad to interpret the faith for themselves.”

Young Muslims in America and Europe are doing exactly that by distributing the interfaith marriage blessing through their formal organizations and informal networks. May they have lovely weddings.

A senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, Irshad Manji is author of the New York Times bestseller “The Trouble with Islam Today,” creator of the PBS documentary, “Faith Without Fear” and founder of Project Ijtihad, an international network of reform-minded Muslims.


4 Responses to “Islam Needs an Age of Reason”


  1. October 5, 2007 at 11:02 am

    “The Qur’an states that women are subject to men’s authority only if men spend money to “maintain” women.”

    I wonder how and from which verse/verses she came to this conclusion. Ideally, whether women earn their own assets or not, men are not titled to become an authority over women, however, it is humanbeing’s nature that if someone is the only party who spends his money for the shared life and environment, he might believe that his position gives him such authority that women do not have.

    According to my understanding from Qur’an, man and woman in a marriage are supposed to be equal in giving opinions and decisions. Only equals can bring benefits in a relationship. But, in outside world, it is only because obviously woman’s privacy is more important than man’s privacy, man may carry authority for both of them whenever and wherever they both decide it is a necessary action, regardless to woman is working or not working. So, it is not an undesirable view if man acts as an authority figure for marriage in outside world, because it is more useful and helpful for woman’s protection, even woman leads her own occupation or not. In the West, assumptions on equality between man and woman is confusing people because in most cases woman’s privacy and protection of woman’s privacy are not an issue.

    Other than this, I can see no authority given to the men over women. But, it is human’s nature: If we spend money for someone, sometimes it mistakenly gives such an idea that we ‘own’ them. Ideally, it is strongly necessary for a woman to earn her own assets to avoid being ‘owned’.

  2. October 5, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    I think the below ayath which has caused confusion:

    “4:34. Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.”

    It is not surprisable that 4:34 has been interpreted as it is in M.H. Shakir’s translation for hundreds of years for well known reasons.

    Here, what we also may understand from the same ayath in 21th century:

    “4:34 The men are to support the women by what God has gifted them over one another and for what they spend of their money. The upright women who are attentive, and keep private the personal matters for what God keeps watch over. As for those women from whom you fear a desertion, then you shall advise them, and abandon them in the bedchamber, and separate from them; if they obey you, then do not seek a way over them; God is High, Great.” by Progressive Muslims.

    We never know how they are going to interpret the same verse in 29th century.

  3. October 5, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    you are absolutely right sukran,

    we have to analyze the verses within the context of the text and according to the way of life at the time the text was
    revealed, to be able to interpret it for ourselves.

    but at the same time when I read the verse in Arabic, i don’t see that it is a permission for men to beat their wives whenever they way.

    وَلاَ تَتَمَنَّوْاْ مَا فَضَّلَ اللّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبُواْ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ وَاسْأَلُواْ اللّهَ مِن فَضْلِهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

    And do not envy what God has favored some of you over others. For the men is a portion of what they gained, and for the women is a portion of what they gained. And ask God from His favor, God is knowledgeable over all things. 4:32

    http://www.openburhan.net/ob.php?sid=4&vid=32

    وَلِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مَوَالِيَ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ وَالَّذِينَ عَقَدَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ فَآتُوهُمْ نَصِيبَهُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدًا

    And for each We have made inheritors for what was left behind by the parents and the relatives. And those whom are dependent on you, you shall give them their portion. God is witness over all things. 4:33

    http://www.openburhan.net/ob.php?sid=4&vid=33

    الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُواْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللّهُ وَاللاَّتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلاَ تَبْغُواْ عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلاً إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا

    The men are to support the women by what God has gifted them over one another and for what they spend of their money. The upright women who are attentive, and keep private the personal matters for what God keeps watch over. As for those women from whom you fear a desertion, then you shall advise them, and abandon them in the bedchamber, and separate from them; if they obey you, then do not seek a way over them; God is High, Great. 4:34

    http://www.openburhan.net/ob.php?sid=4&vid=34

    وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُواْ حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن يُرِيدَا إِصْلاَحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللّهُ بَيْنَهُمَا إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا خَبِيرًا

    And if you fear a split between them, then send a judge from his family and a judge from hers. If they want to reconcile, then God will bring them together. God is Knowledgeable, Expert. 4:35

    http://www.openburhan.net/ob.php?sid=4&vid=35

    in (4:33) for each We have made inheritors for what was left behind by the parents and the relatives

    see: https://pressthat.wordpress.com/2007/09/14/inheritance-and-testament/

    the verse in question (4:34) is quite clear if we don’t jump to hasty conclusions. Men have been given the duty to protect and support women. God has given preference to one gender over another in certain duties. Men have been given preference in being the providers of women and women are given preference in caring for a child. Even if divorce separates a man from his wife, he has to seek her help in caring for the child or another female if the mother agrees ( 2:233). Men are told to spend of their property on women and not ask the woman for anything even if she happens to be rich.

    ( فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللّهُ ) “The upright women who are attentive, and keep private the personal matters for what God keeps watch over”

    Now to the controversial part: The verse asks women to guard even when unnoticed, that which God has asked them to guard. If we have read the Quran carefully, we won’t have trouble in determining that God specifically asks women and men ( يَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ ) to “guard” their chastity (24:3031). As for those women from whom you fear a desertion, the Quran gives a three step, braking mechanism to hasty divorce.

    ( اللاَّتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنّ ) “As for those women from whom you fear a desertion” 4:34

    step 1 ( فَعِظُوهُنَّ ) then you shall advise them

    the husband should talk to the wife and try to resolve it. Usually, given men’s image in popular culture, step one would normally be shouting and cursing and maybe even hitting. Around four million women in the US are severally battered each year. Two to four thousand of them die. Rather unfortunate and avoidable if a braking mechanism exists for people exercising their emotions. Contrary to this, the Koran suggests that talk be the first option.

    step 2 ( وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ ) abandon them in the bedchamber

    the Quran recommends that marital relations be temporarily stopped between the couple, if a desertion persists even after a talk. This would give the woman further opportunity to consider if she’d rather separate from the man and provide for herself after divorce or if she’d rather stay in the current marriage.

    if the couple want to separate, which most people would if there was a situation like the above going on, the Quran states in the next verse 4:35

    “And if you fear a split between them, then send a judge from his family and a judge from hers. If they want to reconcile, then God will bring them together”

    if however, the woman wants to stay with the man but doesn’t quit what she was doing, even after step 1 and 2, the Quran says resort to Step 3, which is implicitly for the woman’s own benefit especially in an economically harsh environment.

    step 3 ( وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ) the Quran says strike them. The word used signifies a single symbolic strike. The word strike in the verse does not represent beating up in any way. It is not supposed to injure the woman but is meant to be symbolic.

    I can state confidently that step 3 will never arise since both the man and the woman are free to end the relationship during the course of step 1 and step 2.

    peace

  4. October 6, 2007 at 4:56 am

    Thanks for clarifying the meaning of the 4:32-35, but, I cannot imagine meaning of the ‘strike’ as symbolic. Do you mean an ’emotional pressure’ to keep the woman stay in the marriage, or make her to leave the shared house physically since she has already left the shared home emotionally?

    It is clear that Qur’an gives husband three steps opportunity to save the marriage when wife is insistent to abandon the marriage: 1- a serious talk, 2- quitting marital relations, 3- and finally seperation.

    It is said the word ‘daraba’ used in 4:34 and has interpreted as ‘beating’ has multiply meanings:

    To travel, to get out: 3:156; 4:101; 38:44; 73:20; 2:273
    To strike: 2:60,73; 7:160; 8:12; 20:77; 24:31; 26:63; 37:93; 47:4
    To beat: 8:50; 47:27
    To set up: 43:58; 57:13
    To give (examples): 14:24,45; 16:75,76,112; 18:32,45; 24:35; 30:28,58; 36:78; 39:27,29; 43:17; 59:21; 66:10,11
    To take away, to ignore: 43:5
    To condemn: 2:61
    To seal, to draw over: 18:11
    To cover: 24:31
    To explain: 13:17
    (http://www.quran-islam.org/228.html)

    It sounds to me as ‘legal seperation’.

    Thanks,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Stefan Rosty Founded TruthBooth22.04.07

  • 451,758 hitz

“Virtual Insanity”

That's not nature's way Well that's what they said yesterday There's nothing left to do but pray I think it's time I found a new religion Waoh - it's so insane To synthesize another strain There's something in these Futures that we have to be told. JAMIROQUAI

RSS Genuine Islam

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

trashcontentz (by day)

October 2007
M T W T F S S
« Sep   Nov »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

trashcontentz (by month)

Bookmarks

RSS RationalReality.com

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Selves and Others

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS المؤلف: احمد صبحي منصور


%d bloggers like this: