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Torture within Quranist Viewpoint (4): The Quranic Description of Torture/Torment
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A propos de ce poussin chiite qui nous insulte!
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Torture within Quranist Viewpoint (3): The Taste of Torture/Torment
The Destruction of Al-Saud Royal Family Because of Their Repelling Others Away from God's Path (1)
Forced Displacement: A Historical Fundamental Overview
Quranic Terminology: Between to Love and to Would Like
Quranic Terminology: Being (Un)Thankful to the Lord God (2):
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Missed Opportunity: The Politics of Police Reform in Egypt and Tunisia
Religious freedom between Islam and fanatic Muslims
The majority of Muslims throughout their history committed themselves to religious freedom

  Part two:  Part Two: Fanatic Muslims violate the religious freedom in Islam                                            

Section one: Muslim History in brief glance

Preface:

The majority of Muslims throughout their history committed themselves to religious freedom.

Islam is founded on two fundamental principles, Justice and absolute freedom of religion, as in doctrines, ideas and thoughts, worship and proselytizing. So was the Muslims’ application of religious freedom close to or farther from what the Glorious Quran commanded?

 The answer initially is that Muslims in Medieval Ages were closer to religious tolerance and farther from coercion in religion. What is taking place in our current times (Age of democracy and human rights), committed by terrorists (albeit Muslims), was not known to the majority of Muslims of Medieval Ages, (Age of religious and sectarian persecution, inquisition, religious wars and massacres.)

This requires methodological clarification, and some remarks for affirmation and evidence.

First: Define terms and expressions and not to confuse them with each other.

(1)-We have to be careful not to confuse an Islamic state as a concept, principles and Quranic Legislations, with the policies of the Umayyad, Abbasid, Memluk and Ottoman states, good or bad. Islamic state as principles and legislations, stipulates implementing those principles and legislations of democracy, of justice, of fairness, of beneficence, and of religious freedom, expressed fundamentally in (No coercion in religion), and backed up by more than a thousand Quranic verses.

 When some Muslim rulers are lax in implementing those principles, they in essence, are against Islam. It would not be appropriate, from a procedural standpoint, to label their system as a Muslim state. For that reason, old Muslim historians refered to such states established by Arabs or others, in the names of its founder, and not in the name of Islam, like the Umayyad state, the Abbasid state, the Ottoman state, the Fatimid state, etc…. None of those historians used the term, Umayyad Islamic state, or the Abbasid Islamic state. Due to increased dose of guidance and democracy, during the states of Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali, compared to those who succeeded them of familial oppressive dynasties, and hereditarily tyranny, the early Muslim historians, referred to the early Caliphs as (The Rightly Guided Caliphs) to distinguish them from the latter ones, tacitly acknowledging that those Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid Caliphs, were not close to guidance as the ones before them.

(2)-We should differentiate between Islam and its legislations implemented by Prophet Mohammad in his Islamic state, and the incompatible implementation that has gradually taken place during the time of( The rightly Guided Caliphs), and then transformed into contradiction during the reign of “unrightly guided caliphs” .We remember here, the first treaty concluded by prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the Israeli Jewish tribes living with him at Al-Medina, and what this document contained of emphasis on religious freedom. We also remember the Al-Hudeibeya reconciliation treaty, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) concluded with the transgressing polytheist Qureish, where the level of tolerance on the part of Muslims reached the extent that if a Qureishite were to accept Islam and migrate to Al-Medina, the Muslims had to return him to Mecca, but who ever reverts among the Muslims, and leaves Al-Medina to Mecca, Qureish was not obligated to return him.

If the Islamic state was established during the time of prophet Mohammad (PBUH), evidenced by what the Quran described it with, the succeeding states of rightly guided and unrightly guided caliphs, were not totally void of signs of guidance. As I mentioned before, the departure away from the fundamental principles of the Islamic state happened gradually, that is where the difference between the rightly guided and the unrightly guided caliphs is most evident. When the Umayyad caliph Omer Bin Abdul Aziz was characterized with justice and guidance, unlike the general characterization of the Umayyad State, Muslim historians readily included him within the ranks of the rightly guided caliphs, irrelevant of the span of time between him and them. The Umayyad themselves hurriedly poisoned him to end his reign, before he managed to reintroduce the elements of justice, guidance and democracy into the political atmosphere, the same principles found in the time of the prophet’s state (PBUH).

Later on, some Abbasid caliphs tried to emulate Omar Bin Abdul Aziz style of rule, like the Abbasid caliph, Al-Muhtadi (869-870) who said about Bin Abdul Aziz, (I am ashamed that the Umayyad would have a caliph like him, while the Abbasid would not), and because of his tendency to go against the accepted norms of those times, the Turks, who were the real powers behind the scenes, murdered him within one year of his rule. Both of them were rejected by their times, for the Medieval Ages’ culture was based and founded on injustice and tyranny, and whoever deviates, loses his throne and his life, which leads us to the second point.

Second: Judge a certain period of history, with its own cultural standards and not with ours.

One of the fundamentals of the scientific historical methodology is to historically judge a certain period of history, with its own cultural standards and not with ours. It would be wrong for a contemporary researcher to look at and judge Medieval Age Muslims with the logic of our times and our culture-(The culture of human rights and democracy)-and blame Muslims of 1000 years earlier for not adhering to our culture, and criticize them for following the culture of t6heir time, based on tyranny, slavery, culture of isolation and oppressing those who differ with them in faith and in sect.

To this we add these remarks:

(1)-The Islamic state, with its Quranic legislation, was contradictory to the culture of Medieval Age, where the emphasis of the Islamic state was on democracy, human rights, tolerance, freedom of thought and religion. The existence of such a state during the prophet’s time, as a small oasis in an ocean of opposing prevailing culture, soon gave in to the medieval culture which erased the symptoms of the Islamic state little by little, with nothing remaining of it, except its name and few shining glimpses dependent on the personality of an oppressive ruler.

(2)-During the reign of the (Unrightly Guided Caliphs), the waves of fanaticism and intolerance were not prevailingly required policy; it was rather a short interval in a continuous long history of tolerance with Non-Muslims. It was influenced by incidental factors, some as a consequence of the military and political conflict between Christian Europe and Muslims for centuries, in the north and the south of the Mediterranean basin. Contributing also to those waves, internal political factors, like the rise in influence of strict intolerant Hanbali Sunni jurists, starting with Al-Mutawakkil reign, a heavy exacting price paid for also by other Muslim sects like the Sufi and the Shiite.

(3)-With the prevalence and dominance of this fanatical medieval culture over Europe and Muslims, what Christian Europe committed was by far more heinous than what The Arabs and Muslims committed, for Christian Europe, led by Catholic Church, was more loyal than Muslims, to the culture of fanaticism, extremism, religious terrorism, religious wars and inquisitions. Suffice to say that Muslims did not have an official religious ecclesiastical entity like the Catholic Papacy, to lead in the name of Christianity, the crusades, geographical discoveries, colonization and the extermination of the other, and to burn the different in faith, beginning with Savona Rolla until the persecution of Galileo and others.

(4)-At any rate, the level of intolerance of Muslims, did not reach Europe’s level within the same period. Muslims ‘history did not know waves of extermination that some of them were subjected to by their enemies like the Mongol and Tartar, then the European West. Let us remember here what the Spanish and Portuguese Christians (Ferdinand and Isabella) have done when they terminated the Arab Muslim and Jewish presence in Andalusia through murder, burning, inquisition and forced Christianization, then chasing fleeing Muslims to North Africa and Morocco. Compare that with what was prevalent before in Andalusia of peaceful coexistence among Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Let us also remember the extermination campaigns that accompanied geographical discoveries, and the formation of both , Spanish and Portuguese empires in both of the Americas, Asia and Africa, then came Christian Europe’s colonization of Muslim lands and others in China, India and Indochina, then in Africa, that led to inter-European conflicts over high seas colonies that ignited two world wars. Those extermination campaigns did not end with that, but continued under Stalin of the Soviet Union, who extinguished the Muslims’ presence in central Asia, to be revived by the Serbs after the collapse of Yugoslavia in the war against Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Regrettably, most of this took place, not in the medieval times, but in our modern current times.

(5)-As an historical researcher specializing in pointing out aberrations in Muslims behavior, with the intention to reform, I say I have never found one single historical instance where a Non-Muslim was forced to embrace Islam, and if it was true, then all Non-Muslims would have been forced to embrace Islam and abandon their religions, and if that was the case, then how can you explain or justify all those Copts and the rest of Christian minorities that retained their faith?

In addition to dropping the toll tax off those who accepted Islam, they used to encourage and reward those, with ranking jobs after conversion, some of them did exactly that to conspire, enrage and peeve the Muslims, for after their apparent conversion, they would hold high ranking positions, to exercise power over Muslim masses and exact revenge over them, a well known phenomenon in Egypt’s history during the Memluk period.

Third: Fair-minded western researchers who wrote about Islam’s tolerance as a religion

 It is well known that there were some fair-minded western researchers who wrote about Islam’s tolerance as a religion, and about the tolerance of some Muslim rulers. I recommend reading any history book about Muslims during the Medieval Ages. For example, Adam Metz’s (Islamic civilization in the fourth Hijri century),in two volumes, translated to Arabic by Mohammad Abdul Hadi Abu Reida, we excerpt some of what he has written in volume two about festivities, and how Muslims participated with the Christians in their festivals. He says..(But Muslims, contrary to Church, left Christians conduct their religious affairs without interference…and participated in the social amusing portions of those festivities, for instance, almost all of Baghdad’s festivities were Christian in nature in all aspects. The Saints Days in various monasteries were the most celebrated by people)

Keep in mind that Baghdad was founded by Muslims during the reign of Abbasid caliph, Al Mansour, yet it was filled with Christians, poor and rich, who worked in the Abbasid courts. Adam Metz, mentioned some popular Christian festivities within Muslim circles in the fourth century Hijri, among which were, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Easter Sunday, and about the (Foxes Feast) held in a Baghdad Monastery, he said, (No Christian or Muslim would miss that feast)..Adam Metz also quoted Al-Meqreezi in what he had written about Egypt’s festivals, most of which were Christian in nature, like the Epiphany feast, and others.

Fourth:  Unjustified unfounded accusation of Muslims

 (1)-Some charge Islam with bigotry, fanaticism or prejudice, inferring it from the Sunni jurisprudence which has stipulations on how to treat Christians and Jews, naming them people of Dhimma-(meaning in Muslims protection, care, safeguard, guarantee etc..),because Islam treats them as second class citizens. Those who level these charges, confuse Islam with Muslims, as they confuse between the culture of human rights of our times and the medieval culture, based on religious fanaticism, religious wars and inquisitions. Although I have written criticizing, objecting and condemning the use of such term as Dhimmi, showing clearly its contradiction to true Islamic teachings, and to the legislation of a genuine Islamic state, yet the mere existence of such a bigoted jurisprudence in itself, indicates the existence of a legal system to protect some of the rights of Non-Muslims, providing them with a covenant, a promise of protection, that they could raise up with prophet Mohammad himself after his death, this is at the same time that none like this jurisprudence existed in medieval Europe, which in the first place did not allow Muslims to exist among its citizenry.

If those prejudiced against Islam were to review some of the tenets of Dhimmi jurisprudence, they would have found it loaded with freedom of worship for Non-Muslims, the worst of it, would’ve been forcing them to pay toll tax, contrary to Quranic instructions, but in conformity with the prevailing medieval culture, which the vanquished used to pay to the victor, regardless of religious affiliation, proof being that Egypt used to pay a tribute to the Ottoman Empire, and continued to pay it out of customary and traditional habits and carelessness, until few years into Nasser’s reign.

Fifth: Most of Sunni jurisprudence was disconnected from practical life of Muslims during the Medieval Ages

 (1)-Jurisprudence is the science of writing in matters of religious legal code (Sharee’a), whether it was a Sunni or a Shiite jurisprudence. It is divided into two types: Theoretical jurisprudence and sermonized jurisprudence. The theoretical jurisprudence is the seat of fanaticism, yet not all of it is uniformed or at the same level. There is somewhat moderate jurisprudence in the Hanafi School that differs from the fanaticism of the Sunni Hanbali School. And besides the strict Hanbali jurisprudence, there was the tolerant jurisprudence of Imam Alleith Ibn Sa’d, who defended the right to build churches, because it is part of civilization.

There were also differences between Sunni and Shiite jurisprudence, most notable of which are the ones related to women. For the Shiite jurisprudence grant women, rights not found in the Sunni jurisprudence and still, women in this fanatical prejudiced Sunni jurisprudence scored rights, western women did not enjoy until recently. Hence, this theoretical jurisprudence was never uniform; it differs and varies within its ranks vertically and horizontally. Levels of strictness and tolerance fluctuate inherently.

(2)-There are two different writings of jurisprudence in Sharee’a. Least popular, yet more truthful and comprehensive, is what we refer to as Sermonized jurisprudence, in which a jurist would critique people’s behavior pointing out its fault, providing the Sharee’a ruling concerning it. The advantage of this method is that it sheds some light on some aspects of social life during those ages, and if it were not for those jurists who tackled such issues in their writings, we would not have known anything about it. Yet despite the importance of these writings, it had no use in legislation, and they never considered it in issuing rules and fatwa, because their attention was directed to the other type, the theoretical. This type, where a jurist would issue a verdict based on what he thinks people might commit or encounter of problems. This theoretical jurisprudence is dominated by imagining and conceptualizing actions and issuing a ruling thereupon. Sometimes it is referred to as imaginative jurisprudence. Some jurists went too far in their imagination to the extent of impossible situations. Out of this theoretical jurisprudence, most of the strict prejudicial Sunni jurisprudence evolved.

(3)- At any rate, this theoretical jurisprudence was in most cases, disconnected from people’s practical lives of its times, for it was the result of the jurist imaginations and suppositions. Even when it came to application of those rulings, there was a gap between what is on books and what a judge would rule, exasperated by having judges ruling according to four different schools of thought, Hanafi,  Shaaf’ee, Maalki and Hanbali. In reality each judge was ruling according to what he saw fit, in other words, a judge was acting as a legislator and an adjudicator at the same time, meaning coming up with a ruling ,then pronouncing it. None of those judges could go back to jurisprudence books of his school of thought, because of its enormity and its multiplicity, its overlapping and its contradictions, even in the same book, worse yet in the same page. Most importantly, most of those rulings in those books were nothing more than imaginations and suppositions that had nothing to do with reality.

(4)- That is where the dilemma of the Muslim Brotherhood come from, in their slogans to implement this imaginative, theoretical Sharee’a that was never in conformity with its own times, so how can it be in conformity with ours? When confronted with our questioning of them, how are you going to implement this Sharee’a in your view? The only answer to that is to accuse us of blasphemy and to call for killing the people of Al Quran.

Sixth: Sunni jurisprudence does not reflect the intellectual life of Muslims

(1)- There, in the tradition of Muslims, is a vast side which is ignored and no one talk about. That is the subject of creeds and denominations, meaning man-made religions, schools of thought, doctrines and sects that Muslims were divided into. Of the prominent ones that wrote about it, were Abul Hasan Al-Ash’ri, Ibn Hezm, Ash-Shehrestaani, Al-Baghdadi and Al-Melti. When reading their books, you will find a vast contradiction between Islamic creed, and the creeds and acts of worship of numerous sects of Muslims during the Abbasid period, you will find within it clear, Christian, Magian and Jewish influences, with same expressions and beliefs.

It indicates an intellectual freedom, free active and lively interaction among Muslims that was not known to Europe in those medieval ages, or to the contemporary modern history of Wahhabism.

(2)-Similar to such activity was free debates, discussions and disputations forums between Muslims and atheists, and between Muslims and Christians, and between Muslims and Jews, and the intellectual heritage that ensued, some in dialogues , and some in atheism in the form of prose and in poetry, in thought and in philosophy . The existence of such lively culture of debate and dialogue, is a proof of a climate of Abbasid intellectual freedom, we miss and bemoan nowadays, when dialogue between religions is conducted between and by fanatics and hardheads from both sides.

(3)- In my books (The Penalty for Apostasy) and (Al-Hisba System-roughly close to license and inspection Department), I mentioned the atheists who, during the Abbasid era, enjoyed unprecedented levels of freedom of (not to believe), besides championing the cultural movement of its time. They considered disbelief as the fashionable thing of the times and regarded it as a philosophy that belongs to the elite, and adhering to Islam as something of and for the commoners. Yet, they enjoyed high ranking positions in Abbasid courts as scribes, as well as being of tremendous power and influence, and never worried about the penalty of apostasy, which was drafted and carried out for purely political purposes. What Al-Hemedani, Ibn Ar-Rawendi, Abul Alaa’ Al-Ma’rri and the Sufi Sheikhs wrote in contempt of Islam, indicates a high level of intellectual and religious tolerance, at a time when the Pope in Rome used to order the burning of reformers in his church .

(4)-  Al-Azher itself was not far from this spirit of tolerance, before it was invaded and then dominated by Wahhabism in the eighties of the last century.

During the Ottoman period, there used to be the hallway of Copts in Al-Azher, and the Imams of reform were, and still are, from Al-Azher, most notable among them , Mohammad Abdu, pioneer of intellectual renaissance for Arab Muslims at the turn of the century.

Amid the Wahhabi din, the voice of Imam Mohammad Abdu (1849-1905), rose criticizing the Sufis and their intellectual backwardness, as well as Wahhabis in their strictness, rigorism and terrorism. In his book,(Islam between science and civilization), he laid down fundamentals for Islam that differ with the Wahhabi ideology, which were, faith is founded on reason, reason is precedent over apparent religious law when it seems they are in conflict, avoid accusations of apostasy or blasphemy, contemplating and pondering over God’s laws of creation, meaning scientific deduction and conclusion, abolishing religious authority and religious state, for in Islam ,there is no religious authority, rather a civil authority or state, since Islam did not give any individual or a group of individuals, authority over beliefs and disposing of rules and regulations, and to protect the mission to prevent sedition and turmoil. Fighting in Islam is intended to repel aggression, not to accuse people of blasphemy and to coerce people into religion. Being cordial to those who differ with you in creed, to join between the benefits of this life and the rewards of the later one, for the prophet did not say, sell off every thing and follow me, he forbade extremism in religion, and allowed ornaments and perfumes.

Seventh:  The lived reality in Muslims’ History, and the theoretical writings of Sunni jurisprudence

(1)-Notwithstanding the theoretical writings by jurists, the actual lived history of Muslims in the medieval ages confirms the unconditional and absolute enjoyment of Christians and Jews in practicing their religious rights and freedoms, moreover, the participation of Muslims in their festivities as national holidays. This is evident when we consult Al-Meqreezi’s voluminous book (Al-Khutat), in which he chronicled Egypt from a new angle, that of the history of cities, districts, villages and Egyptian landmarks, touching on Egyptian customs and Egyptian architecture from its inception until the Memluk period. In between its lines, we learn of the religious freedom enjoyed by the Copts, and the participation of Muslims in Coptic holidays and festivities. Although Al-Meqreezi himself had traces of fanaticism, yet he portrayed honestly some of the Copts sufferings under few fanatical rulers and jurists. He was bent on reporting those incidents, despite being isolated individual occurrences that veered of the established rule of peaceful coexistence and religious freedom enjoyed by Copts after the Arabs won Egypt over for Islam.

(2)- From participation in social and political life, we move to participation in intellectual, scientific and philosophical life. As a reminder, I advise those who want to learn more, to refer to Al-Qifti’s book-died in 646 H. (The learned’s talesin the tales of the wise), describing the scholars in Muslims’ history, particularly in the Abbasid period. A reader will be astonished of the power wielded by educated Christians, specializing in translation and wisdom (which meant combined knowledge of medicine and philosophy and prevalent subjects known at that time), and how the physicians among them, achieved such prominent and powerful positions, like Bekhtei-shoo’ family in the first Abbasid period. And the high ranking personalities in the Scientific Institute for translation, during the reign of Al-Ma’moon, with their powerful influence, and they were Christians. You will read also about the unprecedented magnanimity of Abbasid caliph Al-Mu’tasim, which Al-Mutawakkil’s fanaticism pales in comparison, who came afterwards. Should we also forget?  The righteous even handed caliph, Omer Bin Abdul Aziz? Who requested that he be buried in a Christian monastery, refusing to accept as a gift the plot where he was to be buried for free?

(3)-Sa’d Zeghloul, Egyptian leader of 1919 revolution against British occupation, graduated from Al-Azher, and a late student of Mohammad Abdu, became a pioneer of liberalism and democracy in modern Egyptian political life. He was the one who declared to the leaders of Copts who participated in the Egyptian revolution,(We share in the fruits as we share in the burden), his footsteps were followed by Mustapha An-Nahas, who was in his personal life a devout practicing Muslim, but in his political life, made sure to distance himself from mingling both together. Also, what about Ali Abdur Razzaq and others…the list goes on and on…all this, an actual implementation of the Quranic dictum (No coercion in religion)

(4)-Applying this Quranic principle is what I do as a Muslim scholar and an Azharite Sheikh, of protecting and defending my Copts brothers and others. Although my silence would have meant security, wealth, comfort, lots of followers and disciples, enjoying life’s luxuries and being away of its problems

I am a Muslim thinker and an Azharite Sheikh, who dedicated his life to reforming Muslims through Islam. A reformer is just like a physician, who only looks for maladies and ailments, there is no physician who treats health; he deals only with sickness, likewise, a reformer concentrates on deficiencies, defects and faults to treat. This is what I do when I deal with Muslims’ ills in their history and in their traditional jurisprudence and man-made religions. I research it from a fundamental point of view, traditionally and historically, examine it in light of the Quran, clarifying what should be, meaning as a historical researcher, I delve in the subject from a historical methodology, then from a reformatory stand point, comparing it to the Quran, pointing out how it deviates from or contradicts the book of Allah, glory be to Him.

This does not mean at all that Muslims’ history is void of positive shining aspects, matter of fact; they constitute the better part of it, and I could write with fair analysis, tens of volumes, but it would not benefit the cause of reform one iota, rather it will help those who advocate living in the past and consider it to be a religion, for no matter how good or bad the PAST is, it is to learn and benefit from, not to live it again, this is according to the Quranic injunction which was repeated twice to stress that, it was a people gone by, to their credit what they have earned, and to your credit what you have earned, and you will not be questioned about what they had done. Chapter 2-Verses 134 and 141

My harshness sometimes, in critiquing Muslims’ history and their traditions, springs up from my awareness of Islam’s greatness and how it is imperative upon Muslims to rise up to its level as much as they can, and if others commit a mistake, it does not justify committing another.  The content of the Quran, if we understood and comprehended it according to its lexicon and its legislative methodology, is more worthy of following and implementing.

Finally...We reach the gist of the issue....

If Muslims were pioneers of religious tolerance and freedom in Medieval Ages, what caused them to become, in our times, pioneers of fanaticism and terrorism?

The secret word here is Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.

This is our subject in this part.                       


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