December 05, 2021 | RabiÊ» II 29, 1443
Al-Maidah (The Table Spread) Chapter 5: Verse 2 (partial)
"Co-operate with one another in the pursuit of virtue and piety, but co-operate not in fostering offences and hostility."
While both the Quran and the Sunnah validate freedom of expression, interpretation and ijtihad, they also enjoin co-operation (ta'awun) in good and beneficial works as one of the cardinal teachings of Islam. In order to be effective, co-operation requires unity and organization and, on this theme, the Quran explicitly addresses the believers in the verse above.
Co-operation in good work (al-birr) is a broad concept which can apply to all forms of beneficial co-operation, whether in the form of a political party, a professional association, or a workers' union which aims at ensuring fair practices in trade and the equitable treatment of workers.
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 79
From Issue: 604 [Read original issue]
Revelation's Key Message
Muhammad, peace be upon him, distinguished between situations and the people involved in them, and he showed the utmost respect toward individuals and their beliefs. For many years, a young Jew was his companion and followed him everywhere, for he loved the Prophet's company. The Prophet never asked him to abandon his faith. Eventually the boy fell seriously ill, and on his deathbed he asked his father to allow him to embrace Islam, but during all his time by the Prophet's side he had remained what he was and enjoyed the Prophet's love and regard.
Later on, as the Prophet was with a group of Muslims, a funeral procession passed by, and the Prophet stood up to show his respect for the deceased. Surprised, the Muslims informed him that this was a Jew's funeral. The Prophet answered with clarity and dignity: "Was this not a human soul?" The teaching was to remain the same in spite of difficulties, treason, and wars: no one was compelled to convert, differences were respected, and all were to be treated equally. This is Revelation's key message and the heart of it's Prophet's action; all the later verses of the Quran that refer to conflicts, killing, and fighting must be read in the context of their Revelation (Muslims being in a situation of war and needing to defend themselves) and by no means alter the essential contents of the message as a whole.
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 90, 91
From Issue: 542 [Read original issue]
Reservations on Democracy
Some Islamists still have their reservations on democracy, and are even wary of the word "democracy” itself.
What I wish to stress here is that Islam is not democracy and democracy is not Islam and that I would rather that Islam is not attributed to any principle or system. Islam is unique in its means, ends and methodologies, and I do not wish that Western democracy be carried over to us with its bad ideologies and values without us adding to it from our values and ideologies in order to integrate it into our comprehensive system.
However, the tools and guaranties created by democracy are as close as can ever be to the realization of the political principles brought to this earth by Islam to put a leash on the ambitions and whims of rulers. These principles are: shura [consultation], good advice, enjoining what is proper and forbidding what is evil, disobeying illegal orders, resisting unbelief and changing wrong by force whenever possible. It is only in democracy and political freedom that the power of Parliament is evident and that people's deputies can withdraw confidence from any government that breaches the Constitution, and it is only in such an environment that the strength of free Press, free Parliament, opposition and the masses is most felt.
The fears of some people here that democracy makes the people a source of power and even legislation (although legislation is Allah's alone) should not be heeded here, because we are supposed to be speaking of a people that is Muslim in its majority and has accepted Allah as its Lord, Mohammad as its Prophet and Islam as its Religion. Such a people would not be expected to pass a legislation that contradicts Islam and its incontestable principles and conclusive rules.
Anyway, these fears can be overcome by one article stipulating that any legislation contradicting the incontestable provisions of Islam shall be null and void because Islam is the religion of the State and the source of legitimacy of all its institutions and therefore may not be contradicted, as a branch may not run against the main stream.
It should be known that the acceptance of the principle that legislation or rule belong to Allah does not rob the Nation of its right to seek for itself the codes necessary to regulate its ever-changing life and earthly affairs.
What we seek is that legislations and codes be within the limits of the flawless texts and the overall objectives of Shariah and the Islamic Message. The binding texts are very few, while the area of "permissibility" or legislative free space is quite wide and the texts themselves are as flexible and capacious as to accommodate more than one understanding and accept more than one interpretation, which leads to the existence of several schools and philosophies within the expansive framework of Islam.
"Priorities of The Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
From Issue: 524 [Read original issue]