Sunday, 22 July 2012

Has a Woman the Right to Hit Her Husband in Self-Defense?

Prominent Shi'ite Ayatollah Fadhlallah, Prominent Sunni Scholar 'Obikan:

Following the execution, in late October 2008, of a Saudi convicted of the violent murder of his wife, Sunni sheikh 'Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Obikan, an advisor at the Saudi Justice Ministry, issued a fatwa permitting a wife to use force against her husband in response to violence on his part. The fatwa stated that the wife may even kill her husband to prevent him from killing her. Explaining his fatwa at, 'Obikan said: "A woman may respond to violence with violence, in self-defense: If [her husbands] hits her she may hit back, and if he tries to kill her, she may kill him... if this is the only way she can save her life." In addition, 'Obikan also permitted a woman to leave her husband's bed and to deny him sex if he is not fulfilling his matrimonial duties towards her. [1]

A similar fatwa was issued a year earlier by Lebanese Shi'ite scholar Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadhlallah, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. He too ruled that a woman beaten by her husband is allowed to hit him back, and that a woman whose husband does not honour her rights, as stipulated in the marriage contract, such as the right to sustenance or marital relations, may withhold these rights from her husband as well. [2]

'Obikan's and Fadhlallah's fatwas evoked many responses among religious circles in the Arab world. Some supported the fatwas, citing the right to self-defense and the principle of gender equality. Others objected to them, claiming that the Koran permits only the husband to hit his wife and to withhold sexual relations from her, as a means of disciplining her, and that a fatwa permitting the wife to hit back would destroy families.

It should be noted that many Muslim religious scholars hold that it is permitted for a husband to beat his wife, though only as a last resort and under specific conditions.
[3] This position was reiterated at a recent symposium of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, held April 26-30, 2009 in the UAE and attended by some 200 Muslim scholars from around the world. A decision issued at the symposium stated that a disobedient wife should be treated according to the guidelines of the Muslim Shari'a: the husband must first admonish her, then withdraw from her bed, and only then, if all else fails, administer a beating. The decision stipulated that the beating must be light, must not be on the face or sensitive parts of the body, and must not be administered in anger or in revenge. [4]

Following are excerpts from Ayatollah Fadhlallah's fatwa, and from responses to his and Sheikh 'Obikan's fatwas.

Ayatollah Fadhlallah: A Married Woman is an Independent Legal Entity

Fadhlallah's fatwa stated: "
Despite the progress in the humane treatment of the woman; despite the respect attained by the woman [today] as compared to her condition in the past in most Eastern and Western societies; despite the woman's advancement up the social and political ladder - so much so that nowadays women occupy the highest positions in government and other [domains]; despite the fact that women have joined and even surpassed men in resistance movements - [despite all this,] women are still subjected to violence of various forms, and this [phenomenon] is not confined to specific [social] circles. This is happening not only in the East, but is worldwide, even though the form and extent of violence may vary from place to place... The woman - be it as sister, daughter, or wife - is still subordinate to the man - be it her brother, her father, or her husband..."

In view of the above, Fadhlallah emphasized the following points: "
Violence can be resorted to only in exceptional cases, as an educational tool or in response to aggression... This norm is valid in interpersonal relations in general, without distinction between man and woman, or between young and old...

"The man's guardianship over the woman does not entail control; rather, it means that the responsibility for the family is on his shoulders. [This responsibility] does not rest exclusively with the man, and he must share with the woman all [the responsibilities] that they have in common as a couple...

"The woman's willingness to engage in household chores and domestic duties [must stem] from [natural] human [feelings], love, and willingness to sacrifice - since Islam does not impose on the woman anything of the sort, even in connection to raising [children]. Islam respects [the woman's] work, and [even specifies that] she must be given material reimbursement for it. The man must appreciate the sacrifice the woman makes by taking care of him and the family, and he must not treat her arbitrarily or violently...

"According to Islam, within marriage the woman is an entity legally independent of the man with regard to material possessions. The man is forbidden to seize the woman's personal belongings, or to interfere with her commercial [dealings] or interests - if these have no bearing on him as her spouse, or on the family for whose [wellbeing] he is responsible...

"Islam does not permit the man to use any form of violence against the woman - either in respect of her Shari'a rights, which he must honor on the strength of the marriage contract, or in respect of her [right] to go out of the house.

"Furthermore, Islam prohibits cursing her or using abusive language to hurt [her]. All these are sins for which Allah will call [the man] to account, and which are punishable by the Islamic law..."

A Woman May Treat Her Husband Just As He Treats Her

If a man has used physical violence against a woman, and if she cannot defend herself other than by resorting to similar violence against him, then she is permitted to do so by way of self-defence. Moreover, if a man has acted violently with respect to the woman's rights - i.e. by depriving her of some of the rights to which she is entitled by marriage, including sustenance and sexual relations - she is likewise allowed to deny him the rights she is required to grant him according to the [marriage] contract...

"Islam emphasizes that no one is in control of a woman who is of age, behaves properly, and conducts her affairs independently. No one is allowed to force her to [marry a man] she does not want. A marriage contract drawn without the woman's consent is invalid...

"In order to protect the family, laws regulating women's employment must strive to balance the woman's work - if she chooses to work - with her responsibilities to her family. Any imbalance in this area may lead to the destruction of the family...
" [5]

In an interview with, Fadhlallah explained that the fatwa was "
based on the general Shari'a principle applicable to all Muslims, male and female alike, whereby a person who is attacked has the right to act in self-defense..." He further stated: "There is no [evidence] in the Koran that the relationship between a man and a woman is like one between master and slave - rather, it is [a relationship based on] responsibility."

Fadhlallah went on to clarify the fatwa with regard to sexual relations between a man and a woman: "
The sexual aspect is one of the basic aspects of marital relationship; accordingly, a woman is not permitted to deny her husband sexual relations, other than for health, emotional, or social reasons... Our understanding of the religious law is that sexual relations are the right of the woman as much as of the man. Just as the woman cannot deprive her husband of his sexual rights, if he wishes [to exercise them], so is the man is forbidden to withhold from his wife her sexual rights, if she [wishes to exercise them]..." [6]

Al-Azhar Sheikhs: A Woman May Hit Her Husband in Self-Defense

Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee head Sheikh 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Atrash endorsed 'Obikan's fatwa, saying that under Islamic law, a wife is indeed allowed to hit her husband in self-defense. He stressed that all individuals have a right to self-defence, regardless of gender - because all human beings are equal in the eyes of Allah, and no one who is subjected to violence must let it pass without response.

Dr. Ahmad Al-Sayih, lecturer at the Al-Azhar Faculty of the Fundamentals of Religion, likewise supported 'Obikan's position, saying that, according to Shari'a and the law, a woman has the right to hit her husband in self-defense, because men and women are equal both in their rights and in their duties.

Criticism of the Fatwa

Only the Husband Has the Right to Hit

Fadhlallah's fatwa generated extensive criticism in religious circles throughout the Arab world. Dr. Jawdat 'Abd Al-Ghani Basyouni, head of the comparative Islamic law department in the Shari'a faculty at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, said: "
The Islamic Shari'a clearly objects to a husband severely beating his wife, since the Prophet meant that the beating should be done (with a toothpick) [sic! It’s a “weak hadith, and this co,ming from al-Azhar!!], only in order to direct her..." He added: "If it happens that a man has transgressed the Shari'a by beating his wife severely, such a man has passed from Shari'a to the law of the jungle. However, even in such a case, the woman is forbidden to hit him back, since this kind of behavior is likewise forbidden by the Shari'a..." [8]

Saudi Islamic Academy member Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Al-Nujaimi likewise objected to Fadhlallah's fatwa. In an interview with, he said: "
A woman has the right to defend herself if a man has hit her in order to slay her - which is forbidden by the Koran. However, she has no such right [if he has hit her] in order to teach her [a lesson] according to the Shari'a and the Koran. A woman does not have the same right to hit a man as is given to the man [in respect of the woman] by the Koran. In other words, she is not allowed to teach him by beating, as he is allowed to do [to her].

Al-Nujaimi further explained: "Corporal punishment according to the Shari' the privilege of a man [alone] - not of the woman..."

Al-Nujaimi agreed with Fadhlallah that a woman is entitled to withhold from a man the rights that he denies her - albeit only in particular cases: "
If [the man] does not provide for her, [the woman] has the right to withhold herself from him [sexually] and to demand the dissolution of the marriage contract; if [the man] has resorted to violence during sexual intercourse with her, she has the right to withhold herself from him and to sue him, since he is forbidden to act in this way. However, the claim that she can withhold herself [sexually] from her husband in other cases as well is unfounded." [9]

Dr. Sa'd Al-'Anzi, imam at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Religious Endowments and member of the Kuwaiti Journalists Association, said that Fadhlallah's fatwa, which permits a woman to hit her husband, is "
an extraordinary statement and an unprecedented claim that contradicts common sense and natural order." Al-'Anzi added, "Fadhlallah's view stands in contrast to [the principle of] warm marital relations, since hitting [by the wife] is a behavior that brings about neither stability nor steadiness in marriage, but rather [precipitates] conflict, quarrel, and the termination of the relationship."

Al-'Anzi further claimed: "
As concerns the attitude of the Islamic Shari'a to [granting the woman permission] to hit [the man], the divine precept is addressed to the man rather than to the woman... 'To beat' means to hit lightly [sic]... as a corrective measure." [10]

'Obikan's, Fadhlallah's Fatwas Destroy the Family And Are a Symptom of Capitulation to Western Pressure

Dr. Mustafa Al-Shak'a, member of the Al-Azhar Academy of Islamic Research, said of 'Obikan's fatwa that it "
destroys the Islamic family unit, and replaces the Islamic warmth and compassion with violence and beatings." He added: "The Shari'a does not allow the husband to beat his wife, except in the case of a 'morally [justifiable]' beating, for the purpose of education. Other [types of violence] constitute aggression, which is forbidden in Islam." [11]

Dr. Bassam Al-Shatti, columnist and professor at the Kuwait University's Faculty of Shari'a and Islamic Studies, also claimed that a woman was prohibited from hitting her husband. He explained: "
The Prophet said: 'Had I commanded someone to worship someone [else], [it would have been] the woman to worship her husband.' Given this, how [could a woman be allowed] to raise her hand against [her husband]?"

Al-Shatti added: "
If a woman should raise her hand against her husband, this would preclude reconciliation, since the husband would not find it in himself to accept the woman who had hit him... A woman's basic [traits] are softness, compassion, refinement, and grace. Should she raise her hand against her husband, she would precipitate a dangerous stage in the family life." In conclusion, Al-Shatti said: "This fatwa destroys homes; and does not promote peace between the husband and wife."

Kuwaiti Shari'a Foundation for Human Rights director Dr. 'Adel Al-Damkhi criticized Fadhlallah's ruling that a woman is not subject to any guardianship, saying: "
Fadhlallah's fatwa clearly contradicts [the prerogative] of guardianship over the woman that Allah granted the man." Al-Damkhi further explained that the man's guardianship over the woman is in line with "the Shari'a stipulation that [it is the man] who must support her, who makes decisions [in all matters related to] the household, and who is responsible for correcting the woman's misconduct." Al-Damkhi added: "This fatwa will turn the home into a battlefield... It is a sign of the Islamic countries' capitulation to the Western ways and Western pressure regarding women's issues." [12]

Fatwas Are Not the Answer - "There is a Need for New Jurisprudence Regarding Women and the Family"

Al-Sayyid Walad Abah, columnist for the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote in response to 'Obikan's fatwa: "The solution to the problem of violence between husband and wife is not to exacerbate [this violence] by granting the woman the right to retaliate - for this turns the home into a battlefield and an arena of confrontation. [The solution] is to abolish the principle of punishment according to the Shari'a and of [following] the rulings of ancient scholars, who interpreted the Koranic verse [4:34] to mean that it is permissible [for a husband to beat his wife]...

"[What I say] applies not only to this narrow issue. There is a need for new jurisprudence regarding women and the family [in general], which will re-examine many [traditional] laws and rulings that stemmed from [specific] social circumstances that were at odds with the principles of [Islam] - [new laws] that will respect women and [treat them] as equal to men." [13]

[1], October 22, 2008.
[2] Al-Diyar (Lebanon), November 28, 2007.
[3] This opinion is based on the Koranic verse: "As for those [women] from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them [Koran 4:34]."
[4] .
[5] Al-Diyar (Lebanon), November 28, 2007.
[6], November 28, 2007.
[7] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 29, 2008.
[8] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 6, 2007.
[9], November 28, 2007.
[10], November 28, 2007.
[11] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 29, 2009.
[12] Al-Rai (Kuwait), November 30, 2007.
[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 31, 2008.



What lacks in all this anaysis is that Q 4:34

As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them…” Pickthall

As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly) Yussuf Ali

It suffices for the man to “fear” rebellion, in order to get from Allah permission to beat her. And nowhere does it state that the beating must be light, as added in Y. Ali translation. Actually it is mentioned, but only in a “weak” hadith, so not accepted by Sharia law.

For a more detailed analysis please refer to the following excellent article:


Friday, 20 July 2012

The Qur'an's Covenant with the Jewish People

Claims to the Holy Land

by Muhammad Al-Hussaini; Middle East Quarterly; Fall 2009, pp. 9-14

Editors' preface: Who has rights to the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River? Zionists cite biblical passages in which God awarded them Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, in perpetuity in his covenant with the children of Israel. Muslims make a counter-claim based in part on verses of the Qur'an that describe the Jews in terms of contempt and in part on rulings in Muslim law that reject Muslims relinquishing rule over a territory under Muslim rule to nonbelievers. But other Muslims cite different Qur'anic verses in support of the Jewish claim. The conflict has a religious quality that makes it the more difficult to resolve.
The Middle East Quarterly commissioned two essays presenting different views of the Qur'an and its passages dealing with the Holy Land and Jews. Here, Muhammad Al-Hussaini, a Muslim scholar, understands the text of the Qur'an to award the Holy Land to the Jews for all time, and he holds that Muslims can be convinced of this interpretation. In the second essay, Robert Spencer argues that Islamic law has not recognized and will never recognize Jewish rights to this territory.

Jewish claims to the Holy Land rest in passages of the Torah, in which the land is given to the Children of Israel in fulfilment of God's promise to them. In the book of Genesis, God promises the Holy Land to Abraham and his descendants unequivocally. Addressing Abraham, God says: "For all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed for ever" (Genesis 13:15). The promise is repeated to Abraham's son Isaac: "To you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath which I swore to your father Abraham" (Genesis 26:3).

Muslims today derive meanings from the Qur'an that censure the Jews and exalt the city of Jerusalem through reference to the "Night Journey" when the Prophet Muhammad is said to have travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night and then ascended to heaven to come before God. Chapter 17 of the Qur'an ("The Night Journey") refers to this event: "Glory be to Him, who carried His servant [Muhammad] by night from the holy mosque to the further mosque [al-Masjid al-Aqsa]" (Qur'an 17:1). [1]This "further mosque" is generally interpreted as Jerusalem or a place within it, often claimed to be the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque, built after Muhammad's death in 632.

Until now, there has been no proper dialogue about these founding texts. But a dialogue is possible, first by recognizing that the Qur'an does, in fact, confirm the Biblical promise, then by re-reading commentaries on the Qur'anic text where the Jewish claim is strengthened. Beyond that, although the Jews come in for severe criticism in the works of Muslim apologists and theologians, there are no grounds in religious law to entertain the conceit that God's promise to the Children of Israel has been broken, and none to support the view that Israel is now the property of the Muslims. This effort involves an approach to the analysis of texts that requires Muslim scholars to take lessons from modern Biblical interpretation as practiced by Christian and Jewish exegetes working singly and together. If dialogue at this level were to become widely possible, the long-term implications for peace in the Middle East might be considerable.

Law Takes Precedence over Polemics
Illustrative of the powerful ambivalences and loose ends in Islamic interpretation is the Qur'anic commentary on the verse in Surat al-Ma 'ida (Qur'an 5:21) concerning the Israelite settlement of the Holy Land, an issue which is addressed in some detail by the classical commentators:

O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers. [ya qawmi udkhulu'l-ar d al-muqaddasa allati kataba'llah lakum wa la tartadu ' ala 'adbarikum fatanqalibu khasirina.][2]

Islamic commentators simultaneously disdain and revere the Jewish roots of Islam; still some Muslim interpreters unambiguously understand the sacred territory as an Israelite inheritance through Islamic law. This kind of thinking is not uncommon. The Qur'an itself, divided between Meccan and Medinan verses, early and late, presents numerous contradictory statements that interpreters have found ways to reconcile.

In both Judaism and Islam, the status and legal rights of a Gentile or stranger dwelling among Israel, or of the non-Muslim People of the Book, are all matters governed by sacred law. These rulings fall wholly within the purview of practical jurisprudence, not theologies concerning their salvation standing with God. Among rabbinic tractates, Avodah Zarah is replete with condemnation of the idolatrous worship of Christians and pagans, [3] Tosefta Shabbat [4] and Sanhedrin [5] excoriate the falsity of the New Testament while at the same time, the rights and property of the stranger are protected and made sacred in Jewish law.[6]

For its part, the Qur'an clearly includes polemic against the Christian Trinity:

They are unbelievers who say, "God is the Third of Three." No god is there but One God. If they refrain not from what they say, there shall afflict those of them that disbelieve a painful chastisement.[7]

However, this does not detract from the judicial rights of freedom of worship historically granted in Islamic Shari'a to the Christians of Najran, allegedly by the Prophet himself:

To the Christians of Najran and the neighboring territories, the pledge of His Prophet are extended for their lives, their religion, and their property, to those present as well as those absent and others besides. There shall be no interference with the practice of their faith or their observance; nor any change in their rights or privileges.[8]

The Prophet is also said to have ordained similar rights for the monks of St Catherine's Monastery in Sinai:

No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or carry anything from it to the house of the Muslims. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet.[9]

What is important to grasp is that to the Judeo-Islamic judicial mindset, there is absolutely no inconsistency, on the one hand, between implacable polemics against idolatrous Christians in matters of religious doctrine, and on the other, legal rulings that establish the fair rights, liberties, and rightful property ownerships of these nonbelievers according to sacred law. Both Jewish and Islamic sacred texts and their vast classical traditions of reading are quite big enough to hold both concepts—just as both traditions have in practice applied justice with the same changeability.

Thus, more important even than the interpretation itself, this preparatory analysis is critical in helping form the correct reading of Qur'an 5:21, which commands, "O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you." It is necessary to stand this interpretation against the faulty equation that the anti-Jewish critique in the Qur'an cancels out all Jewish legal, religious, and property rights under Islamic law.

Tabari on Settlement of the Holy Land
Historically there have been two broad approaches to commentary on the Qur'an. One is to use received oral sayings of the Prophet and his Companions to interpret the text.[10] The other is the application of reason as a tool for understanding Scripture.[11] With the battles of the ninth century between the traditionalist Sunni party and the rationalist Mu'tazila school of thought, in which Sunnism emerged victorious,[12] oral tradition became the primary instrument for the interpretation and explanation of Holy Writ.[13]

In the particular case of legal questions, there is an unbending consensus that prevents anyone from expressing disagreement with a ruling based on the recorded texts of oral tradition. This is illustrated in the statement attributed to a companion of Muhammad, Ibn 'Abbas, cited by Muhammad bin 'Abd al-Wahhab:

Ibn 'Abbas said, "Stones are about to rain down upon you from the sky! For I say to you, "The Prophet of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, said…" and you say, "But Abu Bakr [first caliph] and 'Umar [second caliph] said?"[14]

This unassailable reverence for an oral tradition written down for posterity has spectacular consequences in the case of the interpretation of Qur'an 5:21. Of particular interest is the medieval commentary on this verse by Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Jarir at-Tabari (838-923), among the earliest and certainly the most revered fathers of the science of Qur'anic commentary and interpretation.[15]

After recounting the order from Moses to the Israelites to enter the Holy Land as commanded by God, Tabari explores the differing opinions received from a number of the Prophet's companions as to the identity of the territory in question, these being respectively "At-Tur [the Qur'anic term for Mount Sinai] and that which is around it," ash-Sham (the Levant), Ariha (Jericho) or Dimashq wa Filastin wa ma ba'da'l-Urdun (Damascus, Palestine, and Trans-Jordan).

The Tabari commentary then proceeds to the critical phrase, allati kataba Allah lakum (Which God has prescribed [lit. "written"] for you) with the startling comment, "And the meaning of His saying, 'Which God has written for you' is that He 'confirmed' it in 'the Preserved Tablet' [i.e. the matrix of all scriptures, preserved in heaven] that it is yours as settlements and dwellings, in place of the oppressors who are in it."

Among the key expressions alongside the juristic term kataba lakum (has written for you) is the expression "the Preserved Tablet," a reference to the Islamic conception of a divine blueprint in heaven from which all the revealed books—the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel, and the Qur'an—have been sent down to man. Later on, Tabari elaborates upon the linguistic implications of kataba, citing other companions of Muhammad in their use of parallel terms for it, such as wahaba (granted, bestowed) and amara (ordered, commanded), concluding with a declaration from the mouth of the companion, Abu Qatada al-Ansari: "They were commanded it, in the manner they were commanded the prayer and the alms-due and the greater pilgrimage and the lesser pilgrimage," reflecting the understanding of Jewish commandments (mitzvot) in the mind of the early Muslims.[16]

Among the key problems addressed by Tabari and in later centuries by another leading commentator, Ibn Kathir (1301-73), is the cowardly disobedience of Israel to enter Canaan and undertake jihad against its powerful inhabitants, as narrated in the succeeding verses:

"So go, you [Moses] and your Lord, and the two of you fight. We are sitting here." And this is their refusal of jihad, and disobedience of their Messenger, and dereliction of fighting the enemies. [17]

This behaviour, which provokes a furious anti-Jewish polemic in Ibn Kathir's commentary, culminates in the 40-year banishment of the stiff-necked generation until the second generation returns to claim its inheritance. Thus, Tabari concludes, "It became to them as God, majestic and glorious, said."[18] As ever, the commentators' scorn of Jewish wrongdoing stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the clarity with which they construct the legal argument for Israelite territorial ownership by forensic analysis of language.[19] Ibn Kathir comments in relation to the preceding verse recalling Israel's blessings:

The intended meaning is that they [the Israelites] were the best of their age, except that this community [i.e. that of the Muslims] is more noble than them, more favored before God, with the more perfect law, the more steadfast way of life, the more honored prophet, the greater kingdom, the more abundant bounties, the more plentiful wealth and children.[20]

For Ibn Kathir, Muslim superiority and supersession is naturally unquestionable and barely needs mention. But nowhere at any point does this classical commentator or any other dare to pretend an Islamic-Arab juristic claim upon the Holy Land, which the established and binding tradition of interpretation of the Qur'an has written for another.

Other medieval commentaries on this verse and related verses in the Qur'an (17:1-8 and 101-104) deserve mention, notably the narratives relayed in the accounts by Abu'l-Qasim Mahmud az-Zamakhshari (1074-1143) and his detractor 'Abd Allah ibn 'Umar al-Baydawi (d. 1286 or 1292), who both discuss Abraham's ascension of Mount Lebanon, from which he surveyed the promised inheritance of his descendants.[21] However, being so reverentially bound by inherited traditions, by and large, the consensus of commentators across the sectarian and historical span is strikingly consistent.

The educated American reader will know that the bad habit that Muslims and Christians share in their reading of Scripture is the compulsion to move swiftly from text to dogma. This bad habit might manifest itself in the verse-slinging missionary on a doorstep or the pulpit preacher whose interpretation leaps up a very sharp incline from a single verse to unassailable dogma.

However, a developing approach to a more nuanced engagement with text is a deliberately juxtaposed reading of Islamic Scriptures and traditions in parallel with Jewish and Christian sacred books by scholars from all three faiths—a process known as "Scriptural Reasoning."[22] This began as an intra-Jewish activity at Princeton, exploring how sacred texts might be an instrument for tikkun olam, or repair of the world.[23] In Britain, however, this approach has been taken out of the ivory towers and onto the streets of Muslim communities, resulting in the historic achievement of the first fatwa (religious edict) in modern times issued in 2007 by senior Islamic authorities, giving sanction for lay Muslims to meet with Jews and Christians for interfaith dialogue and frank debate around their sacred texts.[24] Thus a powerful instrument has emerged for the novel exploration of hitherto closed interpretative questions of Muslim relationships with other peoples and faiths—including those of the Middle East conflict.[25]

From a Jewish perspective, there are more important humane considerations for the sanctity of human life, of justice and rights for the Palestinian people that respect human dignity, self-determination, and parity of esteem—things safeguarded by the best of Judaism's legacy of rabbinic wisdom. At the same time, Muslims need to recognize the extent to which a vacuum has been created by the absence of any explicit Qur'anic counterclaim to the Holy Land. This missing concept has been filled instead with Judeophobia—the popular demonization of the Jewish people, embraced as a substitute for the lack of a heavenly eviction order.[26] The mass importation and translation of Western anti-Semitic materials into the Muslim milieu represents possibly the most disturbing novel development, rendering Jewish-Muslim engagement all the more critical.

It should in all respects be vividly apparent that it is in the interpretative relationship between Muslim peoples and Islam's sacred scripture—at this powerful and explosive nexus—that a significant part of our shared history will be written in the coming century. And it is here, therefore, that our conversations as Abrahamic believers round the family table and our reasoning together around scripture must begin.

Muhammad Al-Hussaini is fellow and lecturer in Islamic Studies at Leo Baeck Rabbinical College, London.
[1] All translations of the Qur'an from A. J. Arberry, ed., The Koran (London: Allen and Unwin, 1955, subsequently Oxford University Press).
[2] Qur'an 5:21.
[3] Avodah Zarah 26a.
[4] Tosefta Shabbat 116a.
[5] Sanhedrin 59a.
[6] Baba Kamma 113b.
[7] Qur'an 5:73.
[8] Muhammad Hamidullah, Majmu' al-Watha'iq as-Siyasiya (Cairo: Lajna at-Ta'lif wa 't-Tarjama wa 'n-Nashr, 1956), pp. 111-2.
[9] A. Zahoor and Z. Haq, trans., "Prophet Muhammad's Charter of Privileges to Christians: Letter to the Monks of St. Catherine Monastery," accessed July 26, 2009.
[10] Ibn al-Athir, An-Nihaya fi Gharib al-Hadith, Mahmud Muhammad at-Tanahi, ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1385/1965-66), 4:71.
[11] 'Abd al-Jabbar, Tanzih al-Qur'an 'an al-Mata'in (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-'Arabi, n.d.), pp. 118-9.
[12] Abu 'l-Fath Muhammad ash-Shahrastani, Kitab al-Milal wa 'n-Nihal, 3 vols. (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1948), 2:12-3.
[13] Leah Kinberg, "Muhkamat and Mutashabihat (Koran 3/7): Implication of a Koranic Pair of Terms in Medieval Exegesis," Arabica, 35 (1988): 143-72.
[14] Muhammad bin 'Abd al-Wahhab, Kitab at-Tawhid alladhi huwa Haqq Allah 'ala 'l-'Abid, (Mecca: Muslim World League, 1400/1980), p. 63, (author's translation).
[15] Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Jarir at-Tabari, Jami 'al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, 12 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, 1412/1991-92), 15:127.
[16] Tabari, Jami', on Qur'an 2:62.
[17] Isma'il bin 'Umar Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Karim, Yusuf 'Abd ar-Rahman al-Mar'ashli, ed. (Beirut: Dar al-Ma'arifa, 1987), on Qur'an 5:24, (author's translation).
[18] Tabari, Jami', on Qur'an 5:21, (author's translation).
[19] Abu Nasr Isma'il b. Hammad al-Jawhari, Taj al-Lugha wa sahah al-'Arabiyya, Nasr al-Hurini, ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1365/1946), 2:287.
[20] Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, on Qur'an 5:20.
[21] Abu'l-Qasim az-Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaf 'an Haqa'iq Ghawami' at-Tanzil wa-'Uyun al-'Aqawil fi Wujuh at-Ta'wil, 4 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-'Arabi, n.d.), on Qur'an 5:21.
[22] Steven Kepnes, "A Handbook for Scriptural Reasoning," Modern Theology, June 2006, pp. 367-83.
[23] Peter Ochs, "Introduction," in Textual Reasonings: Jewish Philosophy and Text Study at the End of the Twentieth Century, Peter Ochs and Nancy Levene, eds. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), pp. 2-14; idem, "The Logic of Indignity and the Logic of Redemption," in God and Human Dignity, R. Kendall Soulen and Linda Woodhead, eds. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006), pp. 143-60.
[24] Muhammad Fathallah, Salah al-Ansari and Muhammad al-Salamoni, "Fatwa on Scriptural Reasoning,", accessed May 1, 2009.
[25] Jenny Williams, "Sense and Spirituality," The Baptist Times (Didcot, U.K.), Mar. 12, 2009; Chad Pecknold, "Preface: The Promise of Scriptural Reasoning," Modern Theology, June 2006, pp. 339-43.

[26] See, for example, Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Quran (Leicester: Islamic Foundation, 2007), on Qur'an 5.



From the Commentary of Tabari

Middle East Quarterly
Few have commented on the book purporting to be the literal word of God as successfully as Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (838-923), an Iranian scholar of considerable intellect and perception, and the author of a 30-volume commentary on the Qur'an that is widely considered to be definitive. We excerpt here its text dealing with Qur'an 5:21, in which God appears to grant the Holy Land to the Jews in perpetuity. Tabari discusses conflicting identities for the Holy Land, then examines the lexical implications of God's command that the Jews be granted the land. Translation by Muhammad Al-Hussaini — The Editors

"O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers." (Qur'an 5:21)

Tabari's commentary on the verse
This is a statement by God (glorious be His remembrance) concerning the words of Moses (may God bless him and grant him peace) to his community from among the Children of Israel, and his order to them according to the order of God to him, instructing them to enter the holy land.
Thereafter, the people of interpretation differ in relation to the land which He means by the Holy Land. Some of them say, "It refers to at-Tur [the mountain, Mount Sinai] and that which is around it." This brings to mind those who have said that "The Holy Land is at-Tur and that which is around it." It has also been related [from Muhammad]: "Enter the Holy Land, namely at-Tur and that which is around it."
Others have said, "It is ash-Sham [Greater Syria]." And in another saying, "The holy land is ash-Sham."
Others have said, "It is the land of Ariha [Jericho]."
It has also been said that "The Holy Land is Damascus and Palestine and part of the Jordan. And this is meant by His saying, 'The holy, the purified, the blessed.'"
And the meaning of His saying, "Which God has prescribed for you," is what He has confirmed in the Preserved Tablet [al-lawh al-mahfuz, i.e. the eternally preserved tablet of the holy scriptures in heaven] that it is yours as settlements and dwellings, in place of the oppressors who are in it.
Assume someone were to say, "How can He say, 'Which God has prescribed for you' while you know that they [the Children of Israel] did not enter it because He said, 'So indeed it is forbidden for them.' In that case, how can it be confirmed in the Preserved Tablet that it is settlements for them while it is forbidden for them to settle in it?" [The answer is that] it is said, "Indeed it is prescribed for the Children of Israel as an abode and as settlements, and they did settle it and reside in it, and it became to them just as God, Majestic and Glorious, said."
Another narration glosses the words, "Which God has prescribed for you" as "Which God has granted to you." And as-Suddi
[1] used to say, "The meaning of kataba [he wrote, he prescribed] in this context is amara [he ordered, he commanded]." Thus, "Enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you" is glossed as "Which God has ordered you to do."
related an interpretation of "O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you," meaning "They were commanded it, as they were commanded the prayer and the zakat [the alms tax] and the hajj [the annual pilgrimage to Mecca] and the 'umra [the minor pilgrimage made at any time of year]."[3]

[1] One of two Qur'an commentators of the same name.—Eds.
[2] Probably Bishr ibn Musa al-Asadi.—Eds.
[3] Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Jarir at-Tabari, Jami' al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, 12 vols.
(Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, 1412/1991-92), 15:127.



Thursday, 19 July 2012

Two Minute Points: Brainwashed

Let me take liberty to draw your attention towards two minutes points where (according to my knowledge) no one paid attention till now. These points expose further falsehood and ignorance mentioned in Quran.

030.024: YUSUFALI: And among His Signs, [3rd person] He shows you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope, and He sends down rain from the sky and with it gives life to the earth after it is dead: verily in that are Signs for those who are wise.

In the above verse “gives life to the earth after it is dead” indicates a basic law of biology. During the primitive days Greek philosophers believed that a living thing can be born from non-living material. That idea is called “bio genesis”. They believed that fish can be born from mud when the mudd is watered. They believed that vegetation can grow from dry land when the dry land is watered. Later in the sixteenth century Louis Pasture introduced his famous theory through a practical and proved that living things can not be born through non-living things. This proven and universally admitted biological law is called “A bio gensis”.

007.057; YUSUFALI: It is He [3rd person] Who sendeth the winds like heralds of glad tidings, going before His mercy: when they have carried the heavy-laden clouds, We [1st person] drive them to a land that is dead, make rain to descend thereon, and produce every kind of harvest therewith: thus shall We raise up the dead: perchance ye may remember

In the above verse, look at “His mercy: when they have carried the heavy-laden clouds”. During the 7th century all over the world people were astonished that how the clouds full of water are flying (they thought being full of water clouds are heavy). Now we know that hot air is the reason of evaporation. The hotter the air, the more capable to have more water vapours in it. Moreover, hot air tends to go upward being lighter. This is the start of formation of clouds. On the high altitudes, due to cool air, water vapour becomes condensed and forms in the shape of cloud. Air does not lift the heavier clouds but clouds are lighter and when they become heavier they cause rain.