The role of Muslims in the slave trade, both in the middle ages and in modern times, is well known in academic circles. But the variety of Muslim ways of life in Africa goes well beyond that. An article by Andreas Eckert
The author says: In his provocative book "Weltgeschichte der Sklaverei" ("World History of Slavery"), published last year, Egon Flaig describes Islam as "the greatest and most long-lived system of slavery" in history. But in so doing, Flaig, who teaches classical history at Rostock University, tends to ignore the complexity of Muslim slavery, so that he can uphold his basic thesis of a conquering Islam. With regard to Islam in Africa, at least, Flaig could have called upon a long tradition of research on the topic to put the subject better into perspective.
For the Indian Muslims and Muslims all over the world in general, an intellectual renaissance has now become indispensable. This includes a renaissance in their political, social as well as religious thought. There must be a re-thinking of certain strongly-held notions that have come to be seen an essential part of traditional Islamic thought, although these may not actually be so. In this regard, ijtihad or critical reflection on issues is of immense importance and we can no longer avoid it. Unfortunately, however, many of our ulema continue to ignore, and even deny, the need for ijtihad. Many Indian ulema have simply no idea of the needs and conditions of today’s age. They simply lack the capacity to understand the demands of the times and the need for appropriately addressing these issues. This is a matter of very grave concern. -- Maulana Waris Mazhari
The relevant verse on hur is as follows: “Immortal youths will wait upon them with goblets, and ewers, and cups filled with water from unsullied springs by which their minds will not be clouded and which will not make them drunk; and with fruit of any kind that they may desire. And (with them will be their) companions pure, (hur al-‘in), most beautiful of eye like unto pearls (still) hidden in their shells. And this will be reward for what they did (in life) (and not only for martyrs). No empty talk they will hear there, nor any call to sin but only the tiding of inner soundness and peace. (56:22-26) ... In this whole discourse on hur there is no reference to sex or lust but of richness of soul and moral purity. In fact hur is plural of both ahwar (masculine) and hawra’(feminine).Thus hur in Qur’an would mean morally pure men and women who will be companions of those who enter paradise. And Qur’an also says that there will be no empty talk (laghw) and one will hear only peace and peace (salaman salaman) i.e. eternal peace of soul. Thus neither hur are women nor seventy in number. This sublime description of jannat (paradise) is spiritual in nature and those who resist all temptations and do nothing but good and are truthful and just would bring about such an order of eternal peace in this and the other world. -- Asghar Ali Engineer
In the summer of 1927, Damascus witnessed several incidents of women being harassed and prevented from visiting public places as they were not wearing veils. One person who felt greatly disturbed by these events was Nazira Zainal Din, the teenage daughter of Shaykh Saeed Zainal Din, the then judge of the court of appeal on Lebanon. She shared her agony with her father, who encouraged her to study the subject in the light of Islamic sources and reduce her conclusions into writing. -- Arif M. Khan
The north Indian Muslims are sharply divided on the basis of sectarian affiliation. The Sunnis, who form perhaps nine-tenths of the Indian Muslim population, consist of the Barelvis, the Deobandis, the Ahl-e Hadith, the Jamaat-e Islami (each of whom considers that it alone represents the one ‘true’ version of Islam) and a large number of Muslims who are not associated with any organized Islamic formation but, rather, are linked to what are often dismissed as ‘folk’ traditions associated with Sufi saints. In terms of school of jurisprudence, the north Indian Sunnis are divided between the majority Hanafis and what are called ghair muqallids, who do not follow any particular school of fiqh. The majority of the north Indian Shias belong to the Ithna Ashari sect, the rest being Ismailis, who, in turn, are divided into various sects or jamaats. Despite the rhetoric of Muslim unity, each of these sectarian groups functions as a separate community, having its own mosques, madrasas and other community organizations, and marriages usually take place within each sect. -- Yoginder Sikand
Muslims in general admit that Muslim society the world over is characterized by a severe moral decline—indeed, nothing short of a moral crisis. This is apparent not just in our personal lives but also in our collective affairs and dealings. This lamentable state of affairs brings to mind the well-known saying of George Bernard Shaw that while Islam is a good religion, Muslims are generally not good people…..
Many ulema think it is their right to criticize others for their real or alleged immorality or irreligiousness, but if the same complaint is made against them they declare it to be a ‘conspiracy’ against Islam and the ulema. This response is often totally unfair because, needless to say, in every class of society, including those who call themselves ulema, there are opportunists and unethical people. If every class, including the ulema, practiced introspection and self-criticism, our society would surely be much healthier, in terms of moral standards, than it presently is. – Maulana Waris Mazhari
Two key ideologues were responsible for the invention of this political interpretation of Islam: the Egyptian Syed Qutb, and Syed Abul Ala Maududi, in the Indian subcontinent. I can say without any hesitation that this political interpretation of theirs was totally baseless, and cannot be proven from a proper reading of the Quran and Hadith. The arguments that these two ideologues offered are not at all convincing or coherent, and represent unwarranted reading into the Quran and Hadith of concepts that are totally foreign to these two basic sources of Islam -- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
If, today, a husband finds his wife committing adultery with a man, it is considered acceptable in many Muslim countries for the husband to kill both the partners in the act, and most certainly the wife. But the Quran has a completely different story to tell. In li’an, the procedure adopted when a husband accuses his wife of adultery, but cannot produce four witnesses, he is supposed to go to the authorities and has to swear four times that what he is saying is the truth. Surah Al-Nur says: “Those who accuse their wives of adultery and cannot produce four witnesses, except for themselves, they should swear an oath by God four times that they are telling the truth. And swear a fifth oath invoking the curse of God if he is telling a lie. The punishment can be removed from the wife if she swears an oath four times by God that the husband is lying. And a fifth oath that the curse of God should be upon her if he, (the husband), is telling the truth.” (24: 6-9).
If she confesses or remains silent, she will be given the punishment fixed for adultery. If she chooses to swear that she is innocent, her word will be upheld against that of the husband, and they can undergo a divorce. -- Nilofar Ahmed
The Faza'il-i-'Amal, Maulana Zakariyya's collection of stories that occupies such a central place in the TJ, is, alleges Umri, full of 'fanciful tales' that far surpass the imagination and make a complete mockery of the Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions (ibid.:69—97). Ordinary Muslims are beguiled into believing that it is a book of Prophetic traditions, whereas it is actually only with great difficulty that one can find any authentic traditions in it (ibid.; 103). Despite this, he says, in the TJ the book is given a clear preference over the Qur'an itself. In Tablighi gatherings only the Faza'il-i-'Amal is allowed to be read out. According to Tablighi elders the Qur'an is meant for the understanding of only the 'ulama. Ordinary Muslims who do not possess the necessary skills in the Arabic language must rest content with just the Faza'il-i-'Amal or with merely reciting the Qur'an without understanding its meaning (ibid.: 100), since proper translation of the word of God into other languages is impossible. -- Yoginder Sikand
Later, in order to further expand this work of promoting peace and solidarity, the Prophet entered into a treaty with the Jewish and pagan tribes of Medina, according to which these groups were to be treated as belonging to the same qaum or community as the Muslims. All those who were party to the treaty were to be given protection or peace, except, of course, those who violated this agreement. According to the treaty, the valley of Yathrib or Medina was to be a sacred place for all those who were party to it. In this way, by giving foremost importance to peace, the treaty guaranteed the parties to it safety from external attack and internal strife. The same spirit was evident in the terms of the Treaty of Hudaibiyah between the Muslims, led by the Prophet, and the Meccan pagans. The Prophet signed the treaty although some of the terms appeared to be heavily weighed against him. This he did so that a climate of peace could be created, because of which Islam would be able to spread peacefully. -- Maulana Waris Mazhari
It is a well-known fact that Islamic social order started with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who was himself not from any royal family. The major and important regions of the world had, till then, known kingship as the only form of government, and so the Islamic government of Medina, was indeed a breakthrough; and therefore it deserved to be given due recognition in the pages of history. That the succession of the prophet, in the matters of the realm, was no easy challenge, and as the events proved, the aftermath was bloody. The departure of the prophet from the scene had the potential to deal a death-blow to the entire edifice of Islam, but the wisdom of the prophet had made it possible to avert that same. Muslims of the time, by and large understood his preference for the future leadership all the way down the line. The institution of Khilafat was a revolutionary step in that time-period, and helped to consolidate the nascent religious and social order in a big and effective way. If the proof of pudding lies in eating, then the proof of the success of Islam was provided in subsequent centuries by its standing as the dominant social force of the world. It cannot be denied that the institution of Khilafat over the first four Khalifas, was by and large democratic, according to the prevailing standards, (and it certainly did not follow the royal lineage), although admittedly there was no voting machine installed for their elections. But I am sure our friends in the West will be inclined to condone this procedural aberration by recalling the various stages through which democracy has evolved in their own societies. So, when the Western leaders and thinkers talk of the incompatibility of Islam with democracy, the Muslims feel cheated of the recognition due to their prophet for heralding (quite apart from the religious ideology of Islam), a remarkable historical revolution in the business of governance. -- Manzurul Haque
As opposed to this new practice of segregation, women during the time of the Prophet were actively engaged in trade and agriculture. The Hadith books mention several women like Umm Mubashshir who owned date-palm groves. One narrator, Jabir says, “My maternal aunt after divorce went to her grove to collect dates. Someone scolded her for coming out during her waiting period. She went to the Prophet and he said: ‘Certainly you can pluck (dates) and you may do charity or do an act of kindness” (Muslim 3535). Likewise, the women not only prayed in the mosque but also attended leisure activities held there. A narration, reported by Aisha, wife of the Prophet, says, “It was the day of Id when Negroes used to play with shields and spears. Either I requested Allah’s Apostle or he himself asked me whether I would like to see the performance. I replied in the affirmative. Then he let me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying, ‘Carry on, O Bani Arfida (Negroes)”’ (Bukhari 4.155). -- ARIF M. KHAN
Unfortunately, the generation that came soon after that of the Prophet’s companions was afflicted by enormous strife and conflict. This began during the later period of Usman’s Caliphate. A group of rebels engaged in takfir against Usman and then slew him. The Kharijites, who emerged at this time, considered all Muslims other than themselves as kafirs, who deserved to be killed. They branded a massive number of companions of the Prophet and their companions as infidels. They regarded it their duty to wage war against other Muslims, and considered their lives, properties and women as objects that could be seized in war as booty (mal-e ghanimah). -- Maulana Waris Mazhari
The following testimony by Caliph Umar may sound shocking to the champions of Islamic law today, but it shows how strongly women asserted their rights. He says, “Once I shouted at my wife and to my horror she paid me back in the same coin. Further she said: why are you so upset, the wives of the Prophet reply back to him and some of them do not speak to him whole day long. What she said appalled me... Then I dressed up and went to Hafsa (Prophet’s wife) and asked her: Does any of you keep Allah’s Apostle angry all the day and she replied in the affirmative” (Bukhari 3.648).
Islam had not only imparted a sense of equality and dignity to women but had vehemently denounced female infanticide saying, “When the female, buried alive, is questioned, for what crime was she killed?” (81.8-9). Fatwa makers may also be questioned for what crime they wish to confine women within the four walls of their homes. -- ARIF M. KHAN
Let us examine some brilliance of Maududi through his famous Six Volume Tafseer, Tafhimul Quran (Urdu), by Idara Tarjumanul Quran, Lahore , November, 1982. We will turn to his other writings from time to time, with due reference given.
The Marriageable Age: According to the Mullahs, the beginning of the menstrual cycles in a girl and nocturnal emissions in a boy are firm indicators of their age of marriage. To the unfortunate Mullah, everything revolves around sex. A Hadith from Bukhari atrociously tells us that a girl can have Nikah (the marital contract) at 6 and the marriage can be consummated at age 9 since the exalted Prophet did that with Hazrat Ayesha! Is there any wonder that the West call him a child-molester? Why don't then the Sunnah-peddlers "marry off" their daughters at 6 and 9? Many countries set an arbitrary 16 years for the girl and 18 years for the boy. The Divine Wisdom enshrined in the Quran makes things so sensible. It sets up three rational criteria:
1 - Sufficient maturity to grant consent. (4:21)
2 - Ability to sign a legal contract. (4:19)
3 - Competence to take care of one's own finances. (4:21)
SUCKLING ON THE BREASTS OF A YOUNG WOMAN: This is a horrible Hadithi joke. Bukhari writes that Hazrat Ayesha’s goat had eaten up the date-leaf upon which were written two Quranic verses. This is supposed to have happened when there was chaos at home because of the demise of the Prophet (S). One of those verses was about stoning the ‘Sheikh and Sheikhah, a mature or married man and woman, committing adultery. The other verse was about the grown-up men suckling on a young woman.
The goat-eaten, non-existent, “Ten Sucklings Verse” (the so-called Ayah Ridha'at) is a horrible joke. The 'Imams' of Hadith report that Hazrat Ayesha advised women of an 'easy' way to admit unrelated men into their privacy. Let any grown up unrelated man suckle on the woman's breasts on ten different occasions and lo and behold! He becomes a Mahram (one who is a family member and can intrude into their privacy from then on). (Hadith 1934 Ibn Majah, 30:12 Malik’s Muwatta and Bukhari about the ‘criminal’ goat). About foster mothers, the Quran clearly states:
4:23 The following women are prohibited for you in marriage: Your … foster-mothers who have ever nursed you, foster-sisters … -- Dr Shabbir Ahmad