Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Shariah’

Muslim & American

Resolution of the Fiqh Council of North America. Adopted in its General Body Meeting held in Virginia on September 24-25, 2011

On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans

Like other faith communities in the US and elsewhere, we see no inherent conflict between the normative values of Islam and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Contrary to erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda of political extremists from various backgrounds, the true and authentic teachings of Islam promote the sanctity of human life, dignity of all humans, and respect of human, civil and political rights. Islamic teachings uphold religious freedom and adherence to the same universal moral values which are accepted by the majority of people of all backgrounds and upon which the US Constitution was established and according to which the Bill of Rights was enunciated.

The Qur’an speaks explicitly about the imperative of just and peaceful co-existence, and the rights of legitimate self-defense against aggression and oppression that pose threats to freedom and security, provided that, a strict code of behavior is adhered to, including the protection of innocent non-combatants.

The foregoing values and teachings can be amply documented from the two primary sources of Islamic jurisprudence – the Qur’an and authentic Hadith. These values are rooted, not in political correctness or pretense, but on the universally accepted supreme objectives of Islamic Shari’ah, which is to protect religious liberty, life, reason, family and property of all. The Shari’ah, contrary to misrepresentations, is a comprehensive and broad guidance for all aspects of a Muslim’s life – spiritual, moral, social and legal. Secular legal systems in Western democracies generally share the same supreme objectives, and are generally compatible with Islamic Shari’ah.

Likewise, the core modern democratic systems are compatible with the Islamic principles of Shura – mutual consultation and co-determination of all social affairs at all levels and in all spheres, family, community, society, state and globally.

As a body of Islamic scholars, we the members of FCNA believe that it is false and misleading to suggest that there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens. Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so long as there is no conflict with Muslims’ obligation for obedience to God. We do not see any such conflict with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. The primacy of obedience to God is a commonly held position of many practicing Jews and Christians as well.

We believe further that as citizens of a free and democratic society, we have the same obligations and rights of all US citizens. We believe that right of dissent can only be exercised in a peaceful and lawful manner to advance the short and long term interests of our country.

The Fiqh Council of North America calls on all Muslim Americans and American citizens at large to engage in objective, peaceful and respectful dialogue at all levels and spheres of common social concerns. We call upon all Muslim Americans to be involved in solving pressing social problems, such as the challenge of poverty, discrimination, violence, health care and environmental protection. It is fully compatible with Islam for Muslims to integrate positively in the society of which they are equal citizens, without losing their identity as Muslims (just as Jews and Christians do not lose their religious identity in doing the same).

We believe that emphasis on dialogue and positive collaborative action is a far better approach than following the paths of those who thrive on hate mongering and fear propaganda. Anti-Islam, anti-Semitism and other similar forms of religious and/or political-based discrimination are all forms of racism unfit for civilized people and are betrayal of the true American as well as Islamic values.

May the pursuit of peace, justice, love, compassion, human equality and fellowship prevail in the pluralistic mosaic that is the hallmark of our nation.

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed,
National Director
Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 304
Washington DC 20002
www.ISNA.net

Anti-Shariah Movement

The Anti-Shariah Movemenet and Jewish Law by Jacob Bender. From Aslan Media.

The front-page article in The New York Times on July 31, 2011, by reporter Andrea Elliott, described some of the personalities involved in the nation-wide campaign against what they call “the danger of Islamic law.”

One of these personalities is David Yerushalmi, a Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, who the article describes as exercising “a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah.” Joining forces with right-wing think-tanks, Yerushalmi has “written privately financed reports, filed lawsuits…and drafted the legislation” that aims to cast Shariah as the gravest contemporary threat to American freedom. A Web site of Yerushalmi’s organization goes so far as to propose a sentence of 20 years for anyone found guilty of observing Islamic law.

As an American Jew, I was immediately interested in Yerushalmi’s involvement in the campaign against Shariah. A documentary filmmaker by training and profession, I have spent the last several years directing Out of Cordoba, a film about the two greatest thinkers to emerge from medieval Muslim Spain, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) the Muslim, and his Jewish counterpart, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimun (Moses Maimonides). These two geniuses, both born in the Andalucian city of Cordoba, were philosophers committed to balancing the ancient Greek rationalism of Aristotle with the revealed truths they found in the Qur’an and in the Torah, as well as serving as court physicians to their local rulers in Spain and in Egypt, respectively.

Averroes and Maimonides were also judges of Shariah and Halakhah (Jewish religious law), believing that religious law was the foundation of God’s will on earth, and the basis of just and rational societies, guiding not only religious practices and beliefs of an observant Muslim or a Jew, but also the numerous day-to-day aspects of their lives.

What is striking about Maimonides — generally considered to have had the most influence of any individual on the Jewish religion over the last millennium — is the profound influence of Muslim thinkers upon his thought. Ironically, Yerushalmi seems totally ignorant of this Islamic influence upon his own religious traditions. In Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, his great code of Halakhah, as well as in the Guide for the Perplexed, his philosophical masterpiece, Maimonides cites numerous Muslim writers, including Ibn Sina (980-1037), Al-Farabi (872-951), and Ibn Hazm (994-1064). Late in his life, while serving as the court physician to Saladin in Egypt, we find Maimonides reading the numerous commentaries on the works of Aristotle written by Averroes. Maimonides lived all his life in the Muslim lands of Spain, Morocco, and Egypt, and was steaped in the latest intellectual trends of his day.

Except for the Mishneh Torah, all of Maimonides’ books, responsa, and correspondence were written in Arabic. That over three-quarters of the world’s Jews once lived in the dar-al-Islam (Muslim lands), and that Arabic was once also the language of Jewish people, are historical facts of little use to the Ashkenazic-centric worldview of people like Yerushalmi, ignorant as they are of the heritage of those Jewish communities beyond the confines of Eastern and Central Europe, known to scholars and lay-persons alike as Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. It is important to note that Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed was often banned in many of the yeshivot (rabbinical schools) of Eastern Europe, for its espousal of the pagan Aristotle.

We should not be surprised at all that Yerushalmi, a practicing attorney, has no academic training in Islamic jurisprudence, nor in Jewish history, and that among his legal clients is Pamela Geller, another star of the bigoted Islamophobic circus that also includes Robert Spencer, Rev. Franklin Graham, and Daniel Pipes. (Full disclosure: A Web site associated with the anti-Shariah movement, http://www.SheikYerMami.com, accused me of being a long-time agent of Saudi Arabia because part of the funding for my film Out of Cordoba was provided by the Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation, together with the governments of the United States and Spain. Saudi Prince Alwaleed’s foundation has also made generous donations to such dangerous and subversive institutions as Harvard University and the Jesuit Georgetown University, as well as to the Louvre Museum in Paris.)

What should be abundantly clear from all of this is that the anti-Shariah movement has no interest in either history or facts. On the former, any honest reading of the history of Western Civilization will acknowledge the vast influence of Muslim thinkers across a wide range of human disciples, be it in philosophy, theology, architecture, grammar, poetics, mathematics, medicine, or astronomy. And regarding the current debate over Shariah, the simple fact is that this a red herring if there ever was one, for there is no vast Muslim conspiracy to advance the “Shariahization” of the United States that anyone can truly identify.

Read entire article at: Aslan Media

Jacob Bender is the director of the award-winning documentary Out of Cordoba. He can be reached at jacob@outofcordoba.com.

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