Books and Documents

Islamic Sharia Laws

For Muslim women worldwide, the 21st century is the age of progress and setbacks. The progress is made possible by women themselves; the setbacks are largely courtesy of some vocal clerics and self-appointed representatives, such as the terrorist group al-Qaida, both of whom often masquerade as the "saviours of the Ummah". This obsessive interest could be a clumsy, if not downright idiotic, reaction to the global push for women's rights, or it might simply be a reflection of such "representatives'" own bizarre mental universe. Either way, the result is humiliating for Muslim women who, after all, are the most pious and caring part of the community and as such deserve more respect. -- Nushin Arbabzadah

Sharia law, a religiously based approach to legislation, is a scary term for many of us in the US. We often associate it with a conservative, oppressive, and perhaps brutal form of governance that subjugates the rights of the people. In a few years we may look at a map and see these Middle Eastern countries as not only Islamic, but also as welcoming and democratic nations. We have to understand that Sharia law is essentially an ethical groundwork for governance, not a direct set of codes and prohibitions. -- Ryan Bennett

Newt Gingrich is not Alone in Castigating the Classical Islamic Law
Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com
Newt Gingrich is not Alone in Castigating the Classical Islamic Law
Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

"It is time Muslim scholarship takes cognizance of the dichotomy of Islamic faith between its primary scripture, the Koran and its theological corpus (traditions and Sharia laws): one appearing at a point in time in history as an epicenter of faith, and the other evolving in its second century onwards – as the ripples of the initial surge of faith. The former is constant, eternal and independent of history. The latter inevitably shaped by historical factors: pre-Islamic faith of the incoming converts, state of civilization, theological orientation and scholastic methods of the era. If Islam is equated with the 'religion' (or worldview) espoused by the Koran – regardless of whether it came from God or Muhammad made it up, it is universal, tolerant, balanced, gender-neutral, inclusive, non-political, pluralistic, flexible and open ended – albeit within broad boundaries, and emblematic of justice, liberty, equality, and other universal secular values. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

Did an Islamic cleric ban women from touching bananas and cucumbers? True or false, Asra Q. Nomani writes, fatwas have become ridiculous. See her list of the 10 most outrageous ones.

This past week, an email pinged around the world, claiming that a Muslim cleric "residing in Europe" issued a, well, interesting fatwa, or religious ruling, banning Muslim women from touching bananas or cucumbers: “He said that these fruits and vegetables ‘resemble the male penis’ and hence could arouse women or ‘make them think of sex,'" according to a report in a supposed Egyptian website, BikyaMasr. The Times of India ran the story: "Islamic cleric bans women from touching bananas." "If women wish to eat these food items, a third party, preferably a male related to them such as their a father or husband, should cut the items into small pieces and serve," the cleric supposedly dictated. The fatwas used to carry the authority of divine ordination. But the years since have revealed that, indeed, there is nothing to fear—or revere—about the fatwa. In fact, nowadays, you can get a fatwa to validate any point you want to make. I call it "fatwa shopping."-- Asra Q. Nomani

This was not so in the seventh century Arabia through to the pre-modern era, when i) women’s expenses were almost entirely met by their male guardians – father, husband, brother etc. or from inheritance; ii) the avenue and frequency of expenses and financial role and responsibilities of women were far lower and iii) siblings were many. The Qur’anic inheritance ratios - notably 2:1 in favor of a son, 2/3rds collectively if only daughters (1/2 if only one daughter) (4:11), and 1/8th for a wife - when there are children as well (4:12) was favorable to the female gender for a broad span of human civilization dating from the seventh to mid twentieth century – as women had no share in the inheritance in practically any other major civilization in that long time bracket. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

Then we have a view-point that Quran and Sunnah if properly understood are already liberal in nature (Liberal Sharia). This is also a popular form of Liberal Islam, and understandably so, promoted these days by Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and the likes of him. It is also, however, the most vulnerable to attacks of conservative-minded scholars, as the proponents generally struggle against the well-developed orthodox theology with all the references to Koran and Hadith and Sunnah worked out in detail. -- Awais Aftab

Bigamy/Polygamy are allowed only under exceptional and legally justifiable circumstances. These Qur’anic illustrations clearly demonstrate that the Qur’an espouses monogamy as a social norm. This view was propounded as early as the third century of Islam and is shared by many eminent Islamic scholars, notably Yusuf Ali [1], and Ameer Ali [2]. Muhammad Asad and Husayn Haykal refer to the conditional clause of the verse 4:3 and observe that such plural marriages are allowed only in ‘exceptional circumstances.’[3,4]

If recommendation was ‘towards monogamy’, why wasn't it clearly spelled out?

This question may arise in the mind of some people and needs answering.

Strict monogamy would have resulted in increased suffering and exploitation of women both in the immediate context of the revelation and the broader historical context.  -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

Why is a country like Israel, an unjust and tyrannical state, proud of what has remained of its distorted Judaic faith and its interpretations of the Torah, whilst some Arabs are not proud of Islam, a religion that has transformed them from mere shepherds into conquerors, reformers, messengers and makers of civilization? Islam has taken the Arabs from darkness into the light, purified them, and prompted them to raise their heads high after they had lowered them in disgrace by worshiping idols and believing in myths. Islam prompted our ancestors to sail far across the world and traverse vast deserts to spread God's message, standing upon the Great Wall of China in the east, and praying in Cordoba in the West! -- Dr. Aaidh Al-Qarni  

While many may think that Wahhabi terror is a recent phenomenon that has only targeted non-Muslims, it will surprise many to know that the orthodox Sunni Muslims were the first to be slaughtered in waves of Wahhabi massacres in Arabia hundreds of years ago. One only has to read the historical evolution of Saudi Arabia to know the gruesome details of the tragedy – a tragedy in which thousands of Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims perished at the hands of Wahhabi militants. The extremist interpretations of Wahhabism, although previously confined to small pockets of people in Arabia, has survived to this day under the protection, finance, and tutelage of the Saudi state religious organs. This has transformed Wahhabism – and related Salafi groups that receive inspiration and support from them – from a regional to a global threat to be reckoned with by the world community. To a Wahhabi-Salafi, all those who differ with them, including Sunni Muslims, Shi’ite Muslims, Christians, and Jews, are infidels who are fair targets. -- Zubair Qamar

“Children of Adam! We have sent you clothing to cover your nakedness, and for (your) beauty (risha),* but the cloak of heedfulness (taqwa) is the best. This is among the signs of God, that they may be mindful”(7:26). *[Lit., ‘plumage’ – metaphorically derived from the bird’s plumage.] The Qur’an expands on this in the Medinite period in a long and cryptic passage (24:30/31) asking both believing men and women to avert their glances (from what they should not see) in addition to covering their private parts (furujah). The passage also commands womenfolk to ‘draw their shawls (khimar) over their bosoms’ permitting a casual display of ‘what is (normally) apparent’ and forbids them from exposing their ‘charms’ (zinat)’ except in the presence of the immediate members of their household, and restrains them from walking in a provocative manner. The fuller interpretation of these injunctions, which will be contingent to the exact meaning of the word zinat, is evolved in the commentary following the rendering of the passage. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

Navi Pillay called on Maldivians to consider putting a moratorium on the practice of flogging. She did not say Maldivians who believe in Islam should abandon their faith. She pointed out that the Maldivian State is one of the few among followers of Islam that still engages in the practice of flogging, imposed disproportionately on women. Her fundamental proposition was: why not be as compassionate as your faith allows instead of being as cruel as it gives you room to be? Her suggestion was that we discuss and debate among ourselves to find this path to compassion. The official government response to this was, shockingly, ‘You can’t argue with God.’ The Islamic Ministry’s condemnation of Pillay’s speech and its criticism of MPs for ‘allowing’ Pillay to address the parliament are hardly unexpected. At the helm of the Ministry is Dr Abdul Majid Bari who, while having no qualms about pocketing money earned from his stake in the alcohol-guzzling pork-eating infidel tourism industry, presents himself as an ultra-pious conservative when it comes to affairs of the Maldivian public. -- Azra Naseem

Photo: Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

1. Universality of the concept of Islam and of the criterion of divine judgment.

The Qur’an’s use of the noun Islam and its other roots (asslama, Muslim) demonstrates that members of all faith communities – Christians, Jews, and others – regardless of whether or not they are mentioned in the Qur’an (4:164, 40:78) belong to the universal din (way of life) of Islam that espouses submission (orienting oneself, asslama) to God and doing good deeds. The followers of the Prophet Muhammad are also given this name.  “Indeed! Whoever commits (asslama) his whole being to God, and does good deeds - will get his reward from his Lord. There will be no fear upon them nor shall they grieve” (2:112).

2 There is no compulsion in religion. 

The Qur’anic spirit of religious pluralism, intrinsic to the universality of the concept of the Islam (1 above) is reflected in its following pronouncements on the freedom of religion: “(There is) no compulsion in religion. ... (2:256).

The Muslims who turn atheist will be punished after their death. The Qur’an declares:  “…And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in a state of atheism, their deeds will be of no avail in life, or in the hereafter; and they will be the inmates of hellfire and they will remain there” (2:217). “…Anyone who, after believing in God, denounces his faith, - except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith - but such as open their breast to atheism, on them is Wrath from God, and theirs will be a dreadful punishment” (16:106). -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

The verses and explanations furnished in this article are sourced entirely from a recent exegetic (tafsir) work (Essential Message of Islam), (Essential Message of Islam), this writer authored jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed, each having spent more than 15 years on the project – albeit in their after-office hours as they both have been corporate executives. The defense of the article can be established by demonstrating i) the level of scholarly screening of the sourced text, ii) the preference level of the methodology of interpretation iii) appropriate level of its endorsement and authentication iv) integrity of compliance with the sourced text in framing the article. These are tabled below by quoting from the sourced text.  “Professor Muhammad Abulaylah of al-Azhar University - whom one of the authors personally met in Cairo (1997) with the first English draft, insisted on the need to attaining a high level of perfection. His suggestions precipitated in the deletion of some superfluous commentaries leading to a consolidation and improvement of the work, which in the initial stage lacked focus and scholarship. Sheikh al-Saeed Gharseldin of al-Azhar Academy (Canada) presented the improved draft to the office of Sheikh al-Azhar (1999), Cairo and actively helped its subsequent improvement, and inclusion of the Arabic script, through to its authentication and approval to proceed with the publication (2002). Dr. Louay Safi, Director of Publications of the International Institute of Islamic thoughts, supported the work and offered to sponsor its publication if required (2003).”

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl “personally edited the first four chapters of the draft manuscript in long hand, assisted with taped commentaries (2004, 2009) on some salient features of the Prophet’s mission and Islamic Law. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com


Politicisation of religion is not merely restricted to Muslims in South and Southeast Asia. Revivalist Hindu and Buddhist political projects have equally exploited the faith. There are interesting case studies of puritanical political projects in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, however, the most exciting essay for Pakistani audience would arguably is the case study of Bangladesh by Taj Hashmi. The analogy with Pakistan is most striking here. “Faltering and failing governance since its emergence and government manipulation of Islam for the sake of legitimacy since 1975 have reinforced political Islam in the country,” says Hashmi. “Despite the phenomenal growth in ritualistic Islam in Bangladesh, the average Muslim has remained almost totally insensitive to the corruption, deception and immoral behaviour of traders, professionals, bureaucrats, politicians and members of the civil society. In view of Transparency’s International’s singling out Bangladesh as the most corrupt country consecutively five times between 2000 and 2005, one wonders if Bengali Muslims’ apparent religiosity has any positive correlation with their moral degeneration at all as they accept corruption as a way of life.’’-- Farooq Sulehria


In retrospect, the church in India has displayed remarkable sobriety and a sense of responsibility in their response to the arrest in Srinagar of Reverend Chander Mani Khanna, pastor of the All Saints Church. The Muslim Ulema of the rest of India have been reluctant to condemn the arrest, precipitated by the demand of a local Mufti. The vital issues of the rights of minorities, and freedom faith are however involved, which impinge on all minorities even in states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Orissa and remain relevant in Kashmir. I suppose one can understand their reluctance in the backdrop of the complexities and sensitivities involved in anything that is concerned with the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The same is the reason perhaps for the silence of civil society in India and in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Only journalists and activists Seema Mustafa in New Delhi and Javed Anand in Mumbai have dared spoken, pleading for caution but articulating the voice of sanity and freedom. -- John Dayal

Islam teaches peace, tolerance and coexistence; but it is unfortunate that our religion is perceived as violent and intolerant. We Muslims are mainly responsible for this false perception. Followers of other religions do not read what is written in Qur’an and Hadees; they see what we Muslims do and practice and that is how they create negative images of Islam. Like us Muslims, Hindus also celebrate their religious festivals; but according to teaching of some ‘Muslim scholars’ we Muslims must not say ‘happy Divali’ to Hindus, as it is a sin. Their teaching further states that we Muslims cannot say ‘Happy Christmas’ to Christians and share happiness with non Muslims on their religious days. Rationale of this philosophy, according to this school of thought is that if I say happy Divali to a Hindu, it means I have accepted religious significance of this religious day. I don’t agree with this interpretation. When a Hindu says happy Eid Mubarak to me or another Muslim he is not accepting that there is one Allah and Prophet Mohammed PBUH is the last Messenger. -- Dr Shabir Choudhry  

The Qur’an distinguishes man for his extraordinary role, potentials and privileges in the divine creative scheme. i) He is assigned the role of God’s deputy on earth (2:30). ii) He is taught the use of intellect. iii) He is endowed with the power of coherent speech (55:4). iv) He is honored and granted special ‘favors’ above much of the creation (17:70). v) He is given a freedom of choice (90:10/11). vi) He is fashioned in the finest model (95:4). vii) All that is in the heavens and the earth is made serviceable to him (31:20), and viii) his soul is stroked by God’s breath and angels are made to bow down to him (15:29).  i) “..Your Lord said to the angels: ‘I will place a deputy (Khalifah) on earth’, (2:30) [See also 6:165, 27:62, 35:39] ii) He taught humans the use of the intellect (96:4). He taught man what he did not know” (96:5) iii) “He created man and taught him coherent speech (55:3/4) iv) “We have indeed honored the descendants of Adam ….. and favored them above much of what We have created” (17:70).   v) (God) guided him (man) to the two highways (90:10). But he does not brave the steep (one) (90:11). vi) “Indeed, We have created humankind in the finest model” (95:4).

Taken together, the foregoing Qur’anic pronouncements constitute a clear and emphatic exhortation to pursuing universal as well as scientific knowledge in all their dimensions and directions, and to make no distinction between Islamic and non-Islamic knowledge. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

Blasphemy Law has NO Qur’anic Basis
Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com
Blasphemy Law has NO Qur’anic Basis
Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

It is an affront to the Qur’an’s cardinal principle of justice, trivializes and demonizes Islam, confounds the Muslim community and needs to be revoked. ...“Thus we made for every messenger an enemy among the criminals – but enough is your Lord (O Muhammad,) as a Guide and Helper” (25:31). The Qur’an thus warns humanity that there will always be some people who will hurl seductive remarks at the Prophet (6:113) or be inimical to him (25:31) for fun or cupidity and asks the believers to simply ignore them. In other words, the Qur’an treats blasphemy as a moral vice and does not regard it as a punishable criminal offence. The Meccan enemies of the Prophet called him impostor, a madman (30:58, 44:14, 68:51), and an insane poet (37:36) and ridiculed the Qur’anic revelation (18:56, 26:6, 37:14, 45:9),7 which they declared to be strange and unbelievable (38:5, 50:2), a jumble of dreams(21:5)9 and legends of the ancients (6:25, 23:83, 25:5, 27:68, 46:17, 68:15, 83:13). They accused him of forging lies and witchcraft (34:43, 38:4), forging lies against God, forgery and making up tales (11:13, 32:3, 38:7, 46:8), witchcraft (21:3, 43:30, 74:24), obvious witchcraft that was bewildering (10:2, 37:15, 46:7), and of being bewitched or possessed by a Jinn (17:47, 23:70, 34:8). By definition, all these accusations were blasphemous. Nowhere in its text does the Qur’an prescribe any punishment for those who uttered these blasphemies. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

Debate about Ahmediyas, a sect in Islam, now comes to a new arena because of oppression and violence for them. The anti-Ahmediyas campaigns support the marginalization of this marginal group. The argument that Ahmediyas as a party of Islam is very powerful. However, so many people have other perspective and accused Ahmediyas as a deviant sect or non-Muslim. The problem is that the argument Ahmediyas as a deviant or non-Muslim is used by some groups to violate, terror, and kill the member of Ahmediyas. In Constitution, law, Human Rights, and common sense we can find clearly that there is no reason to violate anyone, particularly only in the name of religion or belief. But, the violence actors think that they don’t have duty to implement the Constitution, law, Human Rights, and common sense in their barbaric actions. They suggest that the religious teaching or argument is more and more powerful than any other arguments. It is very clear that in the verse la ikraha fi al-din the Quran state that there is not compulsion in religion. The verse explains the religious freedom in some levels. Firstly, there is not compulsion for someone to engage in particular religion or leave it. -- Saidiman Ahmad


The image of God’s men exerting force on women and being afraid of an earthly complaint is all a bit odd when thinking of the Prophetic character. Do they really think they’re furthering God’s wishes on earth? If so, why does their lack of tact so contradict the manner of the last prophet who, through kindness, won the hearts of the rigid Meccans? Some have more forcefully tried to convince me that it’s feminine to have a clean shave. “If you keep a beard, my heart will automatically draw toward you because you’ll be fulfilling a Sunnah,” said a man, who hardly knew me, at the Columbia University prayer room…. Over the years, I have taken heat from many Muslims for using prayer beads because it’s a “despicable innovation in Islam,” for getting a western-style haircut because “the prophet either kept long hair or shaved his head” (mind you, there were no scissors then), for wearing black because “it’s a color for women and men are supposed to wear white,” and for my interest in Sufism because “all those Sufis had gone astray” from the right path and some of them were “heretics.” -- Fahad Faruqui

Diversity, whether religious or cultural, is always a good thing. But here, this diversity of belief within sects and sub-sects is stamped with unflinching righteousness, intolerance, and violent knee-jerk reactions. Leaving the organised sectarianism between Shias and Sunnis aside, these widely varying interpretations in such an environment result in friction and veiled hatred towards other sects within one’s circle. In such a situation, incidents like the one in Chakwal are in reality a mere prelude to what can follow. One of the most obvious possibilities, while remaining within the ambit of law, is the misuse of the blasphemy law against those who are fanatically in favour of it. They were accused of ripping posters from outside their grocery shop which advertised an event to observe Eid Milad un Nabi (the birth and death anniversary of Prophet Muhammad). There was strong speculation that the issue was not of blasphemy but difference of belief. The Deobandi philosophy, to which the imam and his son prescribed, do not believe in commemorating such days. -- Bushra S

The Classical Islamic Sharia Law is NOT a Word of God! (Part II: The Way Forward)
Muhammad Yunus, New Ages Islam
The Classical Islamic Sharia Law is NOT a Word of God! (Part II: The Way Forward)
Muhammad Yunus, New Ages Islam

The jurists of Islam can draw modern law (Sharia) based on broader social, moral, ethical paradigms of the Qur’an and its emphasis on equity, justice, wealth distribution and other liberating paradigms [1 above], but without transgressing limits. They must consider the historical context of the Qur’an, as many of its allusions like hunting animals to catch birds (5:4), traveling to the Mecca for Hajj on lean mounts (22:27), employing cavalry in battle (8:60), flogging for zina (prostitution by married women) (24:2) and exemplary amputation punishments (5:33, 5:38) accorded with the paradigms of the seventh century Arabia. The Qur’an could in no way ask its audience to engage the practices of later historical eras – let alone the 21st century world. Therefore, a 21st century Sharia (system of law) of Islam must be commensurate to its realities. The Qur’an allows a flexibility or dynamism in the notion of Sharia by complementing it with the term, ‘minhaj’, or ‘an open way’ (5:48) that allows the diverse communities at different historical locations to evolve their own Sharia “in accordance with the exigencies of the time and each community’s cultural development.” [7] -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

The caption is shocking indeed! The qualifying statement may, however, turn the shock into posthumous glory, concern, and challenge. The essay attempts to bring across the dichotomy between the Classical Islamic Law and its divine Sharia (the Qur’an), and the incipient role of the former in feeding Islamophobia and Islamofascism – the twin menace that complement each other to  reduce Islam to a violent, intolerant cult and provoke a clash of  civilizations, threatening Islamic civilization and world peace. The Qur’anic paradigms are eternal, free from any addition or alteration since the revelation that was preserved orally as well as in various indigenous writing materials (suhuf, 80:11-16). It lays a great emphasis on the ‘constants’ of life – how a human being should behave regardless of time and era. Thus, it encompasses a broad spectrum of universal paradigms - justice, liberty, equity, good deeds, good neighborly and inter-faith relations, sharing of wealth with the poor, eradication of slavery, deliverance of women from various entrenched taboos, conjugal oppression and dehumanization; good business ethics, fair payment for goods and services, financial support to the needy, use of intellect, striving for excellence – to cite some major examples. -- Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com

Since Islam was first adopted and practiced by people speaking Arabic — the language of the Holy Quran — they did not need any intermediary between themselves and the religious text. However, there was a possibility of a group or class of people taking it upon themselves to give a specific interpretation to the divine word. Besides, many of the Islamic acts of worship and social rites were such that somebody was needed to lead them in congregations. Therefore, there certainly was a likelihood that some people might choose to make it a source of their living. Syed Naseer Shah, a writer of an exceptional merit, born and based in Mianwali, in his classic 1962 essay titled Kya khidmat-e-deen ka muawza laina ja’iz hai?’ (‘Is it allowed to get paid in exchange of a religious service?’) lists in sufficient detail verses from the Holy Quran, clear and generally accepted Hadiths and the opinions of the Islamic legal experts through of the early centuries to show how they were unanimous in condemning, disallowing and declaring haram — absolutely forbidden — and said it was a grave sin to demand or accept any economic reward in exchange of teaching and explaining religious texts, leading and facilitating acts of worship and performing religious rites. This was done with an unambiguous purpose of discouraging people from making khidmat-e-deen their bread and butter. -- Ajmal Kamal


"As in the past we [Muslims] have saved Europe from the dark ages, we now plan to do the same. Now we have the right solution for all crises and this is the observance of the divine law, namely Sharia. We call to implement Sharia in Belgium." "Sharia is the perfect system for humanity. In 1300 years of the Islamic state we knew only order, welfare and the protection of all human rights. We know that Spain, France and Switzerland knew their best times under Sharia. In these 1300 years, 120 women were raped, which is equal to 120 women a day in Europe. There were barely 60 robberies recorded in 1300 years." "As a result, we invite the royal family, parliament, all the aristocracy and every Belgian resident to submit to the light of Islam. Save yourself and your children of the painful punishment of the hereafter and grant yourself eternal life in paradise." -- Soeren Kern

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  • Kashmir historically , religiously & spiritually belong to Hindus. The Muslims are all converts. After...
    ( By Abhishek Sinha )
  • @Pandit Priyaranjan Swain hindu government never managed India successfully, last time it was ashoka ....
    ( By Manzoor Ahmad )
  • Priyaranjan Swain plz preach me how's that suppose to happen? By creating more violence, lynching ppl,...
    ( By Mohammad Hussain )