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We are not ignorant of Sharia

Reader comment on item: Churches in Saudi Arabia?
in response to reader comment: mosques and churches.

Submitted by Archimedes2 (Canada), Apr 1, 2008 at 21:45

Thanks for your continuing input, Houssam. You make it clear in this message that merely describe observational data -- you have SEEN mosques in the West displaying no crescent. You provide no information about why they do not display a crescent, or why you did not hear a call to prayer.

But in your first post you say "most mosques I have seen in the west are NOT ALLOWED have crescents nor speakers to broadcast the call to prayer". Do you have any concrete evidence that they are "not allowed"? Please present this information. If a mosque chooses not to display its symbols that is one thing, but if it is forbidden to do so that is quite another.

What makes you leap to the conclusion that, because you did not see a crescent, the muslims are being persecuted by being forbidden to display one? On the surface, in the absence of evidence to this effect your conclusion strikes me as ludicrous. I'm interested in your word "most". What is your sample size? Which countries? By most do you mean 90%? 99%?

It's funny I haven't seen any because I live far from Dar al Islam. You use Lebanon, your home country as an example: "I have heard many church bells in Lebanon". This is supposed to prove tolerance of Islamic countries. But as we are all aware, until a few decades ago, Lebanon was a Christian-majority country and still retains a strong influence of Christianity, though much of the Christian community has largely migrated under decades of persecution and Islam is now the dominant religion, as a result of demographics.

It should not be surprising that many elements of Christian practice remain and are prominent. We can be thankful, I suppose, that you and your countrymen have not yet gone around knocking down these ancient churches (not all of them, anyway) and silencing bells that have been heard for centuries. Last I heard Lebanon as a whole has not been subjected to broad aspects of Sharia law.

Are you arguing that, in its present state, Lebanon represents the eventual situation in Islamic countries after Islamification of society is complete? A simple reading of the regulations of sharia reveals that there is less concern about christian churches built before the introduction of sharia -- the main constraints are on new building. In Lebanon there are many old churches, and Islamic majority rule there is very young. So of course churches are visible.

The same is true in Egypt, whose Christian community is ancient and has, until recently, been very influential -- and also, to lesser degrees, in other Islamic countries -- though Christians suffer varying degrees of persecution and of religious freedom. You say "It might be a law in that specific country, which is based on a particular judgment from scholars in that country. Obviously, others scholars in other countries has a different judgment." Now, it is certainly true that laws differ from place to place within the West as well as in the world of Islam.

So it would not be surprising if you could find local areas of intolerance or poor treatment of minorities here, or that we might find such in Dar al Islam. But you insist that your observations of a few mosques can be extended to general principles about the West. I say that they cannot, even if you can prove a few cases of local intolerance. Bigotry is everywhere. If you want to generalize, then dig through and find general foundational principles in Western law that would lead to your conclusion. If you found any such thing it would be a great shock to those of us living in the west, as our system is based on strict neutrality of government and the principle of one law for all. Though these principles are not lived up to universally they are nevertheless the basic foundations of our system.

I'm interested in anything you can find that indicates official, systemic suppression of mosques in the west. If it's there, I'll happily add my small voice to eliminating it. But it is easy to establish the counterpart in Islamic Sharia Law. The point of interest here for the west as for Dar al Islam is not whether there is a wide variety of application of the basic legal paradigm of the system -- the point is what happens when a country or locality actually DOES implement that paradigm. Because Islamic Laws are published it is easy enough to establish what sort of rulings they demand, and what the ideal is -- as laid out in those Laws.

The most widely available manual of Sharia Law is the Shafi'i compilation, "Reliance of the Traveller", which addresses exactly the question you have raised. It has the official sanction of the government of Saudi Arabia and the seal of approval of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam, the scholars of Al Azhar University. On this subject it says the following: Quote from Reliance of the Traveller------------- @9.11.5 Rules for non-Muslim subjects There is an obligation upon Non-Muslim subjects to comply with Islamic rules that pertain to the safety and compensation of life, reputation, and property.

In addition, they: 1. are penalized for committing adultery or theft, though not for drunkenness; 2. are distinguished from Muslims in dress, wearing a wide cloth belt (zunnar); 3. are not greeted with "as-Salamu 'alaykum"; 4. must keep to the side of the street; 5. may not build higher than or as high as the Muslim buildings, though if they acquire a high rise home, it is not razed; 6. are forbidden to openly display wine or pork, to ring church bells or display crucifixes, recite the Torah or Evangel aloud, or make public display of their funerals and feast-days; 7. and are forbidden to build new churches. Unquote------------------------

As you point out not all of this is implemented in all countries, thank goodness. But please tell me Houssam: Do you support implementation of Sharia Law as laid out by the four schools? If this Shafi'i manual does not represent the thrust of "Islamic Law" then please explain how the scholars of Al Azhar could get it so wrong?

If you disagree with these rules, I hope you are a better mujtahid than them, and can sway the world of Islam in a different direction, because it is clear right now that in most places the Islamists and advocates of fuller implementation of Sharia are gaining momentum.

Someone needs to speak out against this momentum. Will it be you? Can you go back to the Sahih Sittah and build better rules for non-muslims?

Submitting....

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