The Irvine 11 verdict has just come in, Friday September 23. All guilty, all charges. Students and organisers say this selective prosecution will not thwart their efforts in future protest. I had the opportunity to address a press conference alongside the Shura Council, Council on American Islamic Relations and Jewish Voice for Peace among others, after closing arguments on Monday.
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was in the United States in February of this year attempting to hoodwink college students into believing that Israel was a democracy. These students of Palestinian and Arab descent not only know better as people of conscience and as people who read between the lines of news reports, they also know, based on the first hand experience of themselves or of their families.
They know that the there is no democracy under Israeli rule for Palestinians: Those who live within the 1948 borders are subject to an apartheid system, while Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem are under the most brutal military and economic occupation of our time.
The students referred to as the Irvine 11 stood up to Israeli Ambassador Oren’s lies, his misstatements, his bending of the truth – they stood up to the propaganda that allows Israel, after 60-plus years, to still sell itself as “victim” instead of “victimiser”.
Oren was sent here as part of the Israeli “re-branding” campaign to polish its image – an image only slightly tarnished in the US by the murder and injury of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip at the turn of the 2008-9 new year.
How do you rebrand the image of a country that is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than any other country in the world? You do so by silencing the truth tellers, by denying the truth and calling those who tell it liars and criminals – and that is what we see happening right now. Prosecution attempts to depoliticise Oren’s speech and this trial ring hollow.
The occupied are under no obligation to provide for the comfort or protection of the occupier – just as people of conscience in the United States are under no obligation to provide cover for the lies of Israeli officials.
At most, these students are guilty of displaying a lack of courtesy by interrupting Oren, but one could very simply argue that the brutal occupation of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of Bedouins within Israeli boundaries and the major attacks on Lebanon are the discourtesies, not the voicing of opposition to these policies and to those who promote them.
Prosecuting the Irvine 11 has reeked of the anti-Arab, Islamophobic, anti-Palestine and pro-Israeli stance that we are more and more forced to accept as the status-quo, as the US moves further away from what might be considered a democracy.
The United States already spends billions of dollars annually to support the Israeli occupation and is also spending well into the six figures to prosecute these students who spoke against it. This is a “selective and discriminatory” investigation and prosecution of Muslim students – because it was an Israeli official speaking, and because it was Muslims who protested.
Enough. The Orange County District Attorney is selectively prosecuting the students for political reasons and singling them out, based on their faith.
On the very same day that the trial opened against these Muslim students for speaking out against the Israeli ambassador’s lies, two non-Muslim women disrupted the speech of former US Vice President Dick Cheney – also in Orange County. Those women were not arrested or prosecuted. Several months before that, three non-Muslim women disrupted the speech of former US President George W Bush – also in Orange County. They were not arrested or prosecuted.
We’re not looking to be arrested for speaking truth to power – we are looking for an end to Islamophobia and an end to blind US support of Israeli occupation and apartheid. Prosecute the Israeli ambassador for promoting the blatant breaking of international law, not the students who called him out for it.
Presiden MCA Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.Sexiest man of all time Pig is the most shameless animal The pig is the most shameless animal on the face of the earth. It is the only animal that invites its friends to have sex with its mate. It feels no jealousy. And among people who … Read more BEHEADING FOR M.C.A LEADERS WHEN THE PIGS ARE WRAPPED IN HUDUD BLANKET
Malaysia must be the only country in the world where hudud is politicized by political parties to scare off voters. Despite professing the religion of Islam which considers syariah
laws as an integral part of the religion, UMNO has no qualm whatsoever to use hudud as a political contrivance to win votes from the non-Muslims.
When they cannot be too explicit while negating hudud for fear of loosing Malay votes they ‘outsourced’ it to MCA, thinking that MCA would do them a favour. UMNO desperately wants non-Muslim votes. But this modus operandi of ‘outsourcing’ has all backfired. UMNO and MCA are now being condemned by Muslims and non-Muslims for toying with hudud to seek some political mileage out of it.
MCA to do the mucky job for them
Islam as a religion is all-encompassing – syummul. What some ignorant Muslims are practising in some countries do not necessarily reflect the religion of Islam. Hudud is only a small part of the syariah. If this is not properly explained to the non-Muslims by those ‘noise makers’ and opportunists in politics there could be some resistance from the non-Muslims but not bad enough not to derail BN from power. Putting a shroud over hudud is what UMNO, MCA and some pseudo-scholars are hoping for in their pursuit for political power and social recognition.
Despite having religious ‘scholars’ on the government pay role, UMNO is not taking the requisite initiative to explain to the people about the simplicity of Islam and the broad interpretation of hudud in the modern context. A local university lecturer in Syariah Laws commented: “If UMNO decides not to practise hudud, as they claim they are not yet ready for it they should at least respect the hudud laws as prescribed in the Quran. They should not toy with it and try to push the ‘ball’ into PAS’ court then start coaxing and sneering them to implement hudud to scare the non-Muslims off. Worst still, to allow MCA to do the mucky job for them.”
MCA, being part of BN and UMNO’s soul mate in politics, just recently organised a forum on hudud at Wisma MCA to discuss its merits and implications even when they know less about the syariah law. The whole idea of MCA picking up this mission was to create phobia about Islam and pull the Chinese away from PAS or Pakatan – indirectly hoping that UMNO and BN could gain more support from the Chinese. The forum was a flop and ended up with people having just a murky view of hudud and this is not enough to derail voters’ preference for the Opposition. The plot and ploy by MCA did not convince the Muslims and non-Muslims.
Stoning and killing
Stoning and killing for offences were prescribed in the olden days in most human civilisations. If one were to read the Torah – Deuteronomy – on apostasy (17:01 – 17:07), slandering of own wife (17:01 – 17:07), women who lost her virginity (22:20 – 22:21) and adultery (22:22 – 22:24) these are all punishable by stoning to death. Anyway these were laws prescribed at the time when, before and just after the Torah was revealed to Moses, according to the Jewish tradition. But today no Jew or Jewish state prescribe stoning or killing as a form of punishment for those offences. There is some kind of harmony here between what have been prescribed in the Scriptures at that point of time and what have been practised today.
Neither do the Christians prescribe such laws on sinners today. The Bible prescribes the death penalty for the following activities, among others: apostasy, murder, adulterer, bestiality, rape, a woman who is found not to have been a virgin on the night of her wedding, worshiping other gods, witchcraft, cursing a parent and kidnapping. The old Testament says: “If a Christian has committed a crime, he shall be punished” (Crime and Punishment in the Bible – Wikipedia). The Bible prescribes death by stoning for apostasy: “You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God.”(Deutronomy;13:10).
Apostasy had always been considered as a capital offence in almost all religions and political systems of the world, because it was considered as betrayal of the established norms of society. The hudud that so many people criticize, including the Jews and Christians, are ironically mostly from the same Talmudic/Biblical prescription, since the origin of Islam, Judaism and Christianity is the same, i.e. Abrahamic Law.
Quran does not prescribe stoning
Ruthless encounters and punishments were too common in those days. Even the Romans, Hindus, Chinese and Egyptians had severe forms of punishment on their subjects during that time. Slavery, executions and amputating of body parts were too common in those days. Millions of people were slaved into building the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. They died hard-heartedly for their egotistical rulers. The world had gone into two world wars which saw millions annihilated. People since time immemorial have killed each other in the name of pride, race, religion and territory in every part of the world.
Interpretation of religious scriptures today have evolved into new paradigms and dimensions – to a more refined state – with the basic gist of having faith in the Divine power still remaining the same but punishment meted out may not conform to the old ways. It is this harmony between Scriptures and reality that people of all religions are adhering to in the modern world despite knowing how dogmatic faith can be.
There is disagreement among modernist Islamic thinkers as to the applicability of stoning for adultery. The Quran does not prescribe stoning as a punishment for any crime, mentioning only lashing as punishment for adultery. The Quran (An-Nur 24:2–9) mentions punishment for adultery or fornication but not stoning. Verse 24:4–5 also mentions the conditions for proving the charge.
“The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.” (24.2)
“The adulterer shall not marry save an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress none shall marry save an adulterer or an idolater. All that is forbidden unto believers.” (24.3)
“Those who accuse married women of adultery then fail to produce four witnesses, you shall whip them eighty lashes and not accept any testimony from them: they are wicked.” (24:4)
“If they repent afterwards and reform, God is the Forgiver, the Merciful.” (24:5)
“As for those who accuse their own spouses without any other witnesses, then the testimony may be accepted if (that one) swears by God four times that they are telling the truth.” (24:6)
“The fifth oath shall be to incur God’s condemnation upon him, if he was lying.” (24:7)
“She shall be considered innocent if she swears by God four times that he is a liar. (24:8)
“The fifth oath shall incur God’s wrath upon her if he was telling the truth.” (24:9)
It is a matter between him and Allah
The Quran says;
“If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four (Reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way.” (4.15)
“And as for the two who are guilty of indecency from among you, give them both a punishment; then if they repent and amend, turn aside from them; surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.” (4.16)
In early Islam, the pagans of Mecca, and Jews of Medina used to indulge in the practice to gain intelligence and to dishearten the frail Muslim community of Medina. For this reason apostasy is considered as a major sin in Islam. Whether it is punishable by Islamic law is a debatable matter among Muslim scholars.
Some scholars believe that the apostate should be punished after trial because they consider this crime as deceitful and a revolt against the community, while others opine that if someone changes his faith and does not challenge the Islamic society, it is a matter between him and Allah, Who will punish him in hereafter. In the Quran there are no stones involved at all, no one gets killed.
A hedonistic lifestyle is not accepted by all religions. Social order is integral in any religion, No wife would want to be infected with HIV through her promiscuous husband. No parents would want to hear their daughter coming home to inform them that she has been impregnated by her lover. No wife and children would want to commit suicide just because the family breadwinner has lost all his money in gambling. Random sexual activities have brought miseries to innocent people and children. Pleasure seeking is always fun to some, but the society cannot ignore the fact that it comes with a millstone.
Today we see millions are affected with HIV and other STDs that cannot be cured. We see the rate venereal diseases are transmitted in our society is so alarming. Millions of innocent children and spouses are being infected with incurable diseases acquired from random sexual relationships and drug abuse. We see the truth in religion when we see the society today getting soiled with moral decadence. There is thus valid reasons why Islam and all other religions prohibit a hedonistic lifestyle. There has to be this limit (hadd) of freedom in human life, or else it would lead to destruction.
When the matter of hudud was outsourced to a Chinese political leader, Muslims and non-Muslims were part of the panel discussing the matter. One Muslim ‘scholar’ at the forum described that no country that has adopted the hudud have been successful, citing a few countries to support his premise. He suggested that no political party that has empowered hudud has brought progress and success to any nation. Being a Muslim, he did not come up with what hudud is all about. Neither did he come up with a workable blueprint on hudud for the consumption of all –PAS, UMNO and the non-Muslims in general.
Being more a spokesman for UMNO, he was probably insinuating that since PAS is an Islamic party that has hudud as part of its religious responsibility, the country would be a failure if PAS is empowered to govern the country. The people could sense this: what he was narrating was only about the ‘harsh punishment’ meted out if hudud is implemented.
Making use of Islam as the plaything
Another Malay-Muslim – an aide to the MB – from an east coast state mentioned that he was not in agreement with hudud as proposed by PAS – ‘hudud ala PAS’. But he did not make any effort to explain what was wrong with that version of hudud, neither did he come up with his UMNO’s version of hudud or explain in detail hudud as espoused by Islam. Thus his aim was again politically motivated – just to denounce PAS. Of course there were non-Muslim panellists who looked into the matter of hudud from how it was implemented in some Muslim countries. Their interpretation of hudud was based on what they saw happening in some Muslim countries. They could not be blamed as their views were coloured by what they see or read on the ignorant ways Muslims are practising thesyariah laws in some backward Muslim countries.
It was reported that the Chinese leader made up a conclusion that if hudud were to be implemented, the country would be in trouble economically. Actually his intention of organising this forum was with the sole intention of convincing the Chinese that if they voted for PAS or Pakatan then they would have to bear with the hudud laws as prescribed in the syariah laws. That was his only motive. Not that the forum was an intellectual discourse, a religious seminar or an economic colloquium. Surprisingly, he managed to get a few Muslims to help him advance his goal in politics. It failed and backfired. UMNO is silent about the whole matter now – and silence could mean consent. It is all a political game in BN making use of Islam as the plaything. PAS has ruled Kelantan for more than 20 years and we have not heard of any harsh punishment meted out on offenders under the syariah in this state. The Chinese in Kelantan are happy with the ‘clean’ PAS government.
Clear the blots and ambiguities
It was reported that a local ‘scholar’ – an outspoken Chinese convert – was quick to label the Chinese leader as ill-bred (kurang ajar), warned him, described him as an adulterer (penzina), and as a person hailing from a tainted background. So unbecoming of an academic, he was woofing on prostitutions, mistresses and kiasu – assuming that all Chinese are so immoral. He fell short of coming up with a solution to the social ambiguity here and telling the people that the whole playacting at the forum was politically motivated and has nothing to do with hudud, Islam or morality.
As reported, this so-called ‘scholar’ hinted that political parties or non-Muslims can give comments on the misconduct in governance, corruption etc but when it comes to matters relating to Islam they should not be too ill-mannered (kurang ajar) to comment. This ‘scholar’ has not done enough homework on Islam, as he does not understand that Islam itself is syummul – encompassing every part of human activity and that everything that a Muslim does has to conform to Islamic teachings; it has to kowtow to the etiquette as prescribed in Islam. Islam does not stand in isolation but it is a way of life. He fell short of telling the non-Muslims that there is only hudud as prescribed by the Quran and there is no such thing as ‘Hudud ala PAS’ or ‘Hudud ala UMNO’.
A non-Muslim has all the right to be inquisitive and enquire what Islam or hudud is all about. And it is the obligation of a Muslim to clear the blots and ambiguities for the non-Muslims to understand about Islam or hudud instead of demonising them. Calling a non-Muslim ill-bred (kurang ajar) is not going to resolve the problem. As a Muslim who claims to know a lot about Islam, he should have explained to the people what hudud is all about and sound less like an UMNO spokesman.
It was also reported that Perkasa and ABIM were all out against the Chinese leader and wanted him to apologise for his outspokenness on hudud. They warned him that MCA would be ‘taught a lesson’ in the next general election. However, no apology came from the haughty leader. UMNO was again caught with their pants down when their leaders remained silent over the matter. They must have earlier erroneously thought that they could score some brownie points from the forum but it backfired on them badly. The fingers now are all pointed at UMNO for the blunder created by MCA.
UMNO prefers not to implement the hudud
If truth be told, UMNO itself prefers not to implement the hudud despite claiming to have the largest Muslim members in the country. They are deliberately kicking the ball to PAS with the hope that PAS would go round canvassing to the people that ‘if they come to power hudud would be implemented’. MCA too hope for this wind to blow strong to win over Chinese votes.
PAS is too smart to fall into this ambush. UMNO has failed to realise that the people are not that naïve to be taken in by their political conjuring. The voters are able to see the gambit here and will still vote for PAS and Pakatan in the coming general election. The non-Muslims in Kelantan have not regretted choosing PAS as their saviour. In fact, PAS and the Pakatan-controlled states have already indirectly ‘implemented’ the syariah principles without the people realising it – Islam abhors and condemns corruption, nepotism, wastage and dishonesty. Islam advocates honesty, integrity, competency, accountability and transparency in governance.
The governance of the state or country with honesty and integrity is itself part of the syariah principles, as there has to be limitation (hadd) to everything one does in life – void of dishonesty, corruption, obsession or going overboard in executing one’s power. One has to live within the permissible perimeter allowed in him to safeguard law and order in society. If one goes ‘beyond’ this perimeter he can be subjected to punishment. How the punishment is meted out is again subject to interpretations according to the situation and era we live in – based on the consensus of lawmakers in a democracy. Hudud – as misconceived by some Muslims and non-Muslims – will not be forced into anyone’s throat.
Cheap beef for the people
In governance and in a democracy it is always the consensus of the lawmakers that would determine what laws should and should not be implemented. The non-Muslims have no ground to fear the syariah principles or laws as they have already seen how effective the Pakatan states are being governed as compared with the states under BN and also the Federal government, for that matter. The annual Auditor General Reports are testimony to this.
For instance, if a government project worth RM230 million is given to a company to run a beef industry to help produce cheap beef for the people the company should ensure that they are accountable to the task given to them to run the industry. There must be this element of integrity here. If the company absconds with the money or does not fully honour the contract where people’s money is involved, the company has gone beyond the permissible perimeter required of it and therefore those involved must be punished. This itself comes under syariah principles. When no action is taken against the absconders or there is a cover-up to any wrong doing this is against thesyariah codes. Justice must prevail in any society – Muslim or non-Muslim.
The same goes with murder or corruption. If a person is murdered there should not be any devious plots to conceal all the wrongdoers – irrespective of who the wrongdoers are. They have to be accountable for what they have schemed. If huge sums of money are paid out as commission or bribery to procure defence equipment for the country the people have all the rights to know how and why the abuse of taxpayer’s money. The perpetrators should not be let off the hook just because of his position, political or personal connections but they have to be brought to court and a fair trial be effected on them.
Islam is a simple and pragmatic religion but the Muslims themselves and some politicians are making it look so complicated and ruthless. They are doing so for their insincere motive to stay in power. And the people are aware of this. The country is blessed with people of many races and religions. As long as democracy prevails in this country the non-Muslims need not worry about hudud or the syariah principles. There is always the article of compassion in Islam as well as other religions for all to live without fear but in peace and harmony.
I’m not a big follower of reality television, but was happy to hear about TLC’s new reality show “All-American Muslim.”
We know that personal contact is the best way to break down stereotypes, but with Muslims less than 2% of the U.S. population, many Americans will never get to know a Muslim. Meeting us through reality television might not be ideal, but it’s better than nothing.
After watching “All-American Muslim” for a few weeks, I now believe that the show is good for our community beyond the way it might lessen prejudice against Muslims. The additional benefit is that the show has engaged our community in discussing some of the many challenges we face making distinctions between critical religious values and flexible cultural practices. In the fourth episode, the issue of Muslims having dogs in the home came up, and this is worth further discussion.
In this episode, newlywed Arab-American Shadia tells Jeff, her Irish-American convert husband, that she does not want his dog to move with them to their new home. Shadia has allergies, and her asthma is exacerbated by the dog’s hair. This is an understandable and common dilemma. But Shadia bolsters her position with statements about the impermissibility for a Muslim to have dogs in the home. Her father will not pray in the house if the dog is there, she says, because dog hair is impure and a prayer space needs to be pure. Later, Shadia backs off from the religious argument, admitting that the main reason she doesn’t want a dog in the house is “I wasn’t raised with dogs; I’m not used to them.” I appreciated this moment of honesty. The use of a religious norm as a trump card in an argument we want to win is a temptation we all face.
So what is the Islamic position about dogs? In fact, there are a variety of opinions according to different legal schools. The majority consider the saliva of dogs to be impure, while the Maliki school makes a distinction between domestic and wild dogs, only considering the saliva of the latter to be impure. The question for Muslims observant of other schools of law is, what are the implications of such an impurity?
These Muslims should remember that there are many other impurities present in our homes, mostly in the form of human waste, blood, and other bodily fluids. It is fairly common for such impurities to come in contact with our clothes, and we simply wash them off or change our clothes for prayer. When you have children at home, it sometimes seems you can never get away from human waste. But we manage it, often by designating a special space and clothing kept clean for prayer.
Some Muslims object to having a dog in the home because of a prophetic report that angels do not enter a home with dogs in it. If a Muslim accepts this report as authentic, it still requires an analysis of context to determine its meaning and legal application. Ordinary people are not recipients of divine revelation through angelic messengers, so it is possible that this statement, although in general form, might suggest a rule for the Prophet’s home, not all homes. This interpretation is strengthened by the fact the Qur’an states that angels are always present, protecting us and recording our good and bad actions.
Whatever the implications of this report, there is no doubt that the Qur’an is positive about dogs. The Qur’an allows the use of hunting dogs, which is one of the reasons the Maliki school makes a distinction between domestic and wild dogs – since we can eat game that has been in a retriever’s mouth. But most compelling is the Qur’anic description of a dog who kept company with righteous youths escaping religious persecution. The party finds shelter in a cave where God places them in a deep sleep; the Qur’an (18:18) says:
You would have thought them awake, but they were asleep And [God] turned them on their right sides then on their left sides And their dog stretched his forelegs across the threshold
This tender description of the dog guarding the cave makes it clear that the animal is good company for believers. Legal scholars might argue about the proper location of the dog – that he should stay on the threshold of the home, not inside – but home designs vary across cultures. In warm climates, an outdoor courtyard is a perfectly humane place for a dog – its physical and social needs can be met in the yard. This is not the case in cold climates, where people stay indoors most of the day for months at a time.
Extreme concern about the uncleanliness of dogs likely arose historically as Islam became more of an urban phenomenon. In medieval cities, as in modern cities in underdeveloped countries, crowding of people and animals leads to the rapid spread of disease and animal control is not a priority. A few run-ins with an aggressive or diseased animal can result in excessive caution, fear and negativity.
I have long felt badly that many Muslims fear dogs as a result of negative experiences and that they resort to confused religious reasoning to shun them. It is one of the reasons why I try to introduce my students and friends to my very sweet, very large dog Ziggy.
Ziggy came into our home to be like the dog in the cave: to keep company to my child who lies in exile from the world because of a debilitating illness. He has been nothing but a blessing – guarding the house while we sleep, forcing me to exercise daily, and showing us, as he happily follows our tiny cat around the yard, that if cats and dogs can get along so well, then we people have no excuse.
There is another reason why I love having my dog around. Ziggy came from Tennessee. He was rescued by an animal control officer who uses her own resources to save dogs who would otherwise be destroyed in a few days. Tina saves as many dogs as she can by bringing them home and putting them up for adoption on the internet. When I called Tina to speak about adopting Ziggy, she had 65 dogs she had rescued out in her yard. After being disheartened by some terrible things that have come out of Tennessee lately – mosque burnings and anti-Shari`ah legislation among them – I love looking at Ziggy and thinking about the woman with the thick southern accent and big heart who saved his life.