Traditions (hadith literature)

“Augustine of Hippo Refuting Heretic,” (Illuminated manuscript, thirteenth century, from Morgan Library, New York, M. 92, ©Morgan Library)

The history of Islam, like that of any religion, is littered with heretics. When you start with a divine revelation, revealed only in an Arabic dialect understandable to a seventh century illiterate Prophet alone in a cave with an archangel, add a cult of personality adoration for this Prophet and then acknowledge a cycle of violence and assassinations within the emerging Muslim community, heresy is inevitable. So who were the heretics over the fourteen centuries of the Islamic ummah? In a sense, everybody. Certainly every single sect calling itself Muslim has been attacked by some other sect. It is not just the majority Sunni vs. the marginalized Shi’a, nor the rational Mutazilites vs. the hardline literalists, nor the Arabs vs. the non-Arab converts, nor the trained clerics vs. the itinerant dervishes, nor simply the women-can’t drive Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, the Buddha-bashing Taliban or those brave souls who pursue Queer Jihad. Simply put, the heretic is the person who does not take your truth as his or her own. (more…)

[Editor’s Note: I include this article not because I agree with its spin, but due to the irony of someone attacking Bernard Lewis for being soft on terrorism in the name of Islam.]

By Andrew G. Bostom | Friday, March 14, 2008

Last week (March 6, 2008) The Jerusalem Post published an interview with historian Bernard Lewis that touched on a range of subjects, from Lewis’ own cultural identity, to his views on feminism and jihad.

Writer Rebecca Bynum has commented aptly on Lewis’ remarks about feminism, and the condition of women; I will confine my own analysis to Lewis’ remarkable statements on the jihad.

Lewis’ Claim (1):

What we are seeing now in much of the Islamic world could only be described as a monstrous perversion of Islam. The things that are now being done in the name of Islam are totally anti-Islamic. Take suicide, for example. The whole Islamic theology and law is totally opposed to suicide. Even if one has led a totally virtuous life, if he dies by his own hand he forfeits paradise and is condemned to eternal damnation. The eternal punishment for suicide is the endless repetition of the act of suicide. That’s what it says in the books. So these people who blow themselves up, according to their own religion – which they don’t seem to be well-acquainted with – are condemning themselves to an eternity of exploding bombs.

Doctrinal and Historical Reality (1):

But Lewis conflates “suicide”—as the tragic outcome, for example, in modern parlance, of clinical psychiatric depression, which is impermissible in Islam—with “martyrdom,” which is extolled.

“Martyrdom operations” have always been intimately associated with the institution of jihad. Professor Franz Rosenthal, in a seminal 1946 essay (entitled, “On Suicide in Islam”), observed that Islam’s foundational texts sanctioned such acts of jihad martyrdom, and held them in the highest esteem: (more…)

Saudi judge ignores Quranic rights in harsh decision over the ‘Girl of Qatif’

By Khalid Chraibi, Tuesday, 22 January 2008

In a memorable scene in Ingmar Bergman’s movie Wild Strawberries, Isak, the central character, dreams that he is standing in court, waiting to be sentenced. But he has no clue as to the charges against him. When the judge declares him guilty, he asks, bewildered: “Guilty of what?” The judge replies flatly: “You are guilty of guilt”. “Is that serious?” asks Isak. “Unfortunately,” replies the judge.

The verdict in the case of the ‘Girl of Qatif’, as the incident has become known worldwide, is as bewildering to most people as the judge’s verdict was to Isak. How can a young bride of 18 who has been subjected to the harrowing experience of being blackmailed by a former ‘telephone boyfriend’, then gang-raped 14 times in a row by seven unknown assailants, be further brought to trial for the offence of khalwa and condemned to 90 lashes? How does one justify raising the punishment to 200 lashes and 6 months in jail when she appealed the first sentence?

The case had all the necessary ingredients to become an instant cause célèbre, when word of it reached the global news agencies. It received very large coverage in the media, with the verdict being criticized by commentators, politicians and citizens in all walks of life, within the region and in far away countries.

Amnesty International protested against the flogging verdict (which was also applicable to the men involved in the case), observing that “the use of corporal punishment constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.” It added that “the criminalisation of khalwa is inconsistent with international human rights standards, in particular, an individual’s right to privacy.” The sentence against the ‘Girl of Qatif’ and the boy who sat with her in the car “should therefore be declared null and void”. (more…)

An Opportunity to Discuss Our Knowledge of Mohammed and Jesus
by Dr. Zein Al Abdeen Al Rekabi, Asharq Alawsat, Tuesday 08 January 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has urged Muslims to learn about Christian culture. This appeal, diplomatic as it is, is based on the assumption that Muslims are “ignorant” of Christianity, or at least know very little about it.

To begin with, we should welcome, and even accept any invitation to further our knowledge because, for the respectable and wise, it is a perpetual pursuit. Moreover, God has urged Muslims to know other peoples and nations and interact with them. This is explicit in the following verse: “Oh mankind! We created you male and female and divided you into tribes and nations, so that you may come to know each other,” (Surat al Hujurat 49:13). In this global human acquaintance and interaction endorsed by the Quran, learning of other nations’ cultures is a primary asset among others.

At the beginning of this commentary or discussion we present to the Archbishop a supreme truth: knowledge of Jesus son of Mary, and belief in him are integral to the Islamic faith, since they are pillars of the faith, and a Muslim’s faith is considered incomplete without it. What follows is verification from the Quran and Sunnah: (more…)

By Shaker Nabulsi for Saudi Debate

Nobody – from Western ‘unbelievers’ to Eastern ‘infidels’ – has harmed Islam as much as its own scholars of darkness.

While those “scholars” issue erroneous fatwas to cover every eventuality, they think they are serving Islam in the Twenty-First Century, when in reality they are abusing Islam and sending it down the path of obscurity. For example, some Islamic jurists have quoted the words of Al-Bukhari, who wrote that the Prophet Muhammad was a superman who regularly had sex with all ten of his wives in one night. However, it is known today that Al-Bukhari lied in many of his accounts of the Prophet’s sayings. For example, he wrote that the Prophet said camels’ urine cured certain diseases, and that some of the Prophet’s companions were drinking his own urine.

We may well ask: who are these jurists who have proclaimed such absurdities, and put Islam in such a bad light? Why have they – and there are many Egyptians and scholars from Al-Azhar among their number – descended to such a low level in their abuse of Islam? All of the events they describe occurred in a society that existed over 1,400 years ago. There is no one alive from that society today. How can Islam benefit in the Twenty-First century from resurrecting the behaviour of people who lived so long ago, especially since no one knows for certain how they lived or even what they believed?

The scholars of darkness and obscurity are making Islam look bad through their trivial and nonsensical fatwas. They are not enhancing Islam in the eyes of the global community, but portraying this great faith as a barbaric and primitive religion. These scholars have transformed Islam into an encyclopaedia of ‘urinary science’, and promoted the ethics of a primitive and savage era – an era that offers little enlightenment to the people of the present day. (more…)

[Illustration: Miniature illustrating the treatment of a patient, Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu. Jarrahiyatu’l-Hâniya. Millet Library, Ali Emiri, Tib 79.

In the 7th century Muhammad set in motion one of the world’s great religions, Islam. As an Arabian prophet, Muhammad spoke of the same God known to Jews and Christians for centuries. The message received by Muhammad, and revered today by over a billion Muslims, is contained in the Arabic Qur’an. Although the focus of this scripture is on the spiritual health of mankind, there are also numerous statements regarding physical health and emotional wellbeing. Muhammad himself often spoke regarding medicine and diet, and his words are accepted as authoritative only beneath the level of God’s revelation in the Qur’an. As Muslim scholars in later centuries encountered the medical traditions of classical Greece, Syriac tradition, and India, they compared this indigenous knowledge with the Qur’anic view of man and the prophet’s statements about health. Eventually, a specific literary genre called the “Prophet’s Medicine,” or al-tibb al-nabawi in Arabic, came into existence. In the texts of this genre Muslim scholars tried to merge the most accepted and current scientific knowledge about medicine with the folklore of Muhammad’s Arabia. (more…)

by Khalid Blankinship

[This is the second part of a post uploaded on Tabsir on May 30; to read the earlier post, click here.]

When we look for ten or more best books to use to teach about Islam, I would first of all recommend that all blatant, blaming propaganda be completely excised from consideration, including Bernard Lewis’s book mentioned by House. Secondly, while I would not want to exclude books by non-Muslims that are better, and while I myself in my introductory course use Carl Ernst (Following Muhammad), while my wife in her introductory course uses Denny (Introduction to Islam, 3rd. ed.) and Bloom/Blair (Islam), I would recommend that books by Muslims also be included in such a list, all the more so as these books are little known among non-Muslims and as Muslims should be accorded the right to represent themselves just as Jews and Christians are. The single book of this kind my wife and I have used most consistently over the years is Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick’s The Vision of Islam (New York: Paragon House, 1994). A list of books by Muslims mostly classifiable in the classical genres of literature follows below. This list includes books that are not suitable for classroom use, such as some large multivolume reference compendia. Also, some of these books are not in the kind of English acceptable to many American English speakers. So it might be viewed more as a list of Muslim resource books. It contains no works on modern history or politics. (more…)

[Photo of Muhammad al-Asadi by Mohammad al-Sharabi for Newsweek.

If your down and confused
And you don’t remember who your talking to
Concentration, step away
‘Cause your baby is so far away
And there’s a rose and it fits me close
And the eagles fly with the doves
And if you can’t be with the one you love honey
Love the one your with
Love the one your with
Love the one your with
You gotta Love the one your with
— Will Young

There is no dearth of Islamophobic and outright anti-Muslim rhetoric in both American and European public opinion forums. A litany of recent events, from the 9/11 Twin Tower tragedy to the Danish cartoon controversy, makes it seem to many people that Muslims are on the attack against “civilized” secular society. Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine (perhaps even Dubai these days) look at their nightly news and see an indiscriminate political war against their moral principles as well as individual lives. The rash of suicide bombings against Western targets, especially U.S. and British military in Iraq, gets precedence because it falls into the usual tit-for-tatness that uncontrolled violence feeds on. But how are we to understand the increasing threats and actual mayhem between fellow Muslims? (more…)

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