Menelusuri Literatur Sirah Nabi Muhammad Sallallahualaihiwasallam

MENELUSURI LITERATUR SIRAH RASULULLAH SALLALLAHUALAIHIWASALLAM

Zulkifli Hasan

Ahad ini bersamaan dengan 12 Rabiulawal 1433H/2012M seperti kebiasaannya umat Islam akan menyambut maulidur Rasul bersempena memperingati kelahiran Nabi Muhammad Sallallahualaihiwasallam yang kita kasihi. Mungkin ada yang tidak tahu bahawa tarikh kewafatan Rasululullah juga berlaku pada 12 Rabiulawal iaitu pada 11 Hijrah/632M seperti yang diriwayatkan oleh sebahagian besar ahli sejarah. Manfaat juga untuk dikongsikan di sini bahawasanya kebanyakan ahli sejarah pada zaman sahabat dan tabiin yang meriwayatkan kisah dan kehidupan Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam merupakan pakar dalam ilmu hadis.

Tatkala sebahagian umat Islam sibuk membuat persiapan menyambut maulidur Rasul dengan pelbagai aktiviti, ada juga yang mempertikaikan usaha ini dan melabelkannya sebagai bidaah. Dalam kekhilafan ini, penulis memilih pendekatan sederhana untuk bersama-sama Imam Jalaluddin Sayuti, Sayid Ahmad bin Zaini Dahlan, Syeikh Yusuf Qaradawi dan fuqaha yang lain untuk mengharuskan sambutan Maulidur Rasul dengan syarat ianya tidak mencampur adukkan perkara yang dilarang oleh Islam. Dalam merungkai permasalahan ini, penulis ingin menukilkan kata-kata Hasan Al Banna menasihati umat Islam dalam masalah ini seperti yang diungkapkan oleh Yusuf Qaradawi di dalam Fiqh Awlawiyat, halaman 266-267 yang bermaksud:

“Wahai saudara-saudaraku, aku amat mengetahui bahawa saudara yang bertanya tadi, termasuk juga ramai di kalangan kalian, tidak bermaksud daripada soalan seumpama itu melainkan hanya ingin mengetahui, daripada kumpulan manakah pengajar baru ini? Adakah daripada kumpulan Syeikh Musa atau daripada kumpulan Syeikh Abdul Sami’?! Sesungguhnya pengetahuan ini tidak memberikan apa-apa manfaat kepada kamu, sedangkan kamu telah menghabiskan masa dalam keadaan fitnah selama lapan tahun dan cukuplah sekadar itu. Kesemua masalah-masalah itu telah diperselisihkan oleh umat Islam sejak ratusan tahun dan mereka masih terus berselisih pendapat sehingga ke hari ini, namun Allah SWT redha kepada kita untuk berkasih sayang dan bersatu padu serta membenci untuk kita berselisihan dan berpecah-belah. Maka aku ingin mengajak kamu semua berjanji dengan Allah SWT untuk meninggalkan semua perkara-perkara ini sekarang, dan bersungguh-sungguh untuk mempelajari asas-asas agama dan kaedah-kaedahnya, beramal dengan akhlaknya, kelebihan-kelebihannya yang umum dan petunjuk-petunjuknya yang disepakati. Dan mendirikan segala kewajipan dan sunat serta meninggalkan sikap memberat-beratkan dan terlalu rigid supaya hati menjadi suci. Dan supaya menjadi tujuan kita semua hanya untuk mengetahui kebenaran, bukan hanya kerana sekadar mahu memenangkan satu pandangan. Ketika itu, kita mempelajari kesemua ini bersama dalam keadaan kasih sayang, kepercayaan, kesatuan dan keikhlasan. Aku berharap kamu terimalah pandanganku ini dan agar ia menjadi perjanjian sesame kita untuk berbuat demikian”

Berdasarkan kepada peringatan penting Hasan Al Banna di atas, sudah pasti isu sambutan maulidur Rasul ini tidak akan menjadi punca perselisihan dan perpecahan umat Islam sekiranya maksud sebenar sambutan seumpama ini dihayati. Jika ditinjau sejarah, C. Cherfils di dalam bukunya ‘Napoleon And Islam’ menukilkan bahawa Napoleon Bonaparte juga telah menganjurkan upacara besar-besaran menyambut maulidur Rasul di atas kekagumannya terhadap Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam. Hingga ada yang mengatakan dengan yakin berdasarkan beberapa dokumen sahih bahawa Napoleon diakhir hayatnya adalah seorang Muslim dengan nama Muhammad Ali Bonaparte.

Namun harus diingat, pada masa umat Islam beriya-beriya untuk menjayakan sambutan Maulidur Rasul dengan pelbagai program dan aktiviti di setiap pelusuk negara, sememangnya tidak dapat dinafikan bahawa masih ramai yang tidak mengenali Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam sama ada dari aspek pemikiran, peribadi, akhlak, pendekatan dan keseluruhan cara hidup baginda. Penulis mengambil kesempatan ini untuk berkongsi sedikit pengetahuan untuk membicarakan literatur mengenai Sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam dengan harapan ianya akan dapat menjadi panduan dan rujukan selepas ini.

Merujuk kepada sejarah penulisan Sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam, ianya telah pun dimulakan oleh para sahabat seperti Abu Rafi Mawla yang telah menulis tentang sifat solat dan ibadah baginda. Ini termasuk Sahl b. Abi Hathmah al-Madani al-‘Ansari dan ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Amru b. al-‘As b. Wa’il b. Hashim. Penulisan sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam secara sistematik telah dimulakan oleh para Muhaddithun yang juga ahli sejarah seperti Sa`id b. al-Musayyib al-Makhzumi, ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwam and Abu Fadalah ‘Abd Allah b. Ka’b b. Malik al-Ansari.

Penulisan sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam kemudiannya kian popular ketika zaman Muhammad b. Ishaq yang telah menulis kitab Kitab al-Mubtada’ wa al-Mab`ath wa al-Maghazi iaitu buku yang membincangkan secara terperinci kehidupan baginda bermula kelahiran hingga kewafatan. Ini diikuti oleh Muhammad b. ‘Umar al-Waqidi yang menulis Kitab Azwaj al-Nabiyy, Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi wa al-Mab`ath and Kitab Wafat al-Nabiyy and Kitab al-Maghazi. Kitab Sirah yang menjadi rujukan utama hingga kini telah ditulis oleh ‘Abd al-Malik b. Hisham melalui karyanya yang masyhur iaitu Kitab al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah.

Kitab-kitab sirah di atas walaubagaimanapun ditulis di dalam bahasa Arab dan mungkin ini menimbulkan kesulitan sesetengah pihak untuk memahami dan merujuk isi kandungannya. Ini sebenarnya tidak menjadi halangan bagi tujuan untuk memahami kehidupan Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam kerana terdapat banyak buku-buku kontemporari yang ditulis oleh sejarawan Islam mahupun dalam bentuk terjemahan. Sebagai contoh buku “Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya” oleh Ibn Kathir dan juga “The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq: Sirat Rasul Allah” telah diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Inggeris yang boleh dijadikan sebagai rujukan.

Selain daripada itu, buku-buku lain yang boleh dirujuk adalah seperti “Prophet Muḣammad and His mission” oleh S. Athar Husain, “Muhammad, the messenger of Islam: His Life and Prophecy” oleh Hajjah Amina Adil, “Mohammed and the Rise of Islam” oleh D. S. Margoliouth, “The Great Prophet a Short Life of the Founder of Islam” oleh F. K. Khan Durrani, “The Messenger of God Muhammad: An Analysis of the Prophet’s life” oleh M. Fethullah Gulen, “Prophet Muhammad(s) and His Family: A Sociological Perspective” oleh Shamim Aleem, “The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography” oleh Barnaby Rogerson, “Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman” oleh William Montgomery Watt, “Muhammad: Prophet for Our Time (Eminent Lives)” and “Muhammad: Western Attempt to Understand Islam” oleh Karen Armstrong, “The Sealed Nectar (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum)” oleh S. al-Mubarakpuri, “Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources” oleh Martin Lings, “Introducing Muhammad” oleh Ziauddin Sardar dan “Prophet Muhammad and His Miracles” oleh Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. Di samping itu, terdapat juga koleksi rujukan dalam bentuk cakera padat seperti “The Life of the Last Prophet”, sebuah audio biografi oleh Yusuf Islam.

Kesemua koleksi sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam di atas diterbitkan dalam bahasa Inggeris dan faktor ini boleh menjadi penghalang sesetengah individu untuk memahami buku-buku tersebut. Sebenarnya terdapat buku-buku dalam bahasa melayu telah diterbitkan seperti “Biografi Muhammad bin Abdullah” oleh Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff dan Noor Naemah Abdul Rahman termasuk buku terjemahan seperti Fiqh al-Sirah oleh Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti, “Sejarah kehidupan Nabi Muhammad” oleh Muhammad Hussein Haykal dan “Sirah Nabi Muhammad SAW: Pengajaran dan Pedoman” oleh Mustafa as-Shibaie. Berdasarkan senarai rujukan tertera di atas, penulis menganjurkan agar setiap umat Islam untuk memiliki sekurang-kurangnya senaskhah sirah Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam sebagai koleksi peribadi.

Memahami dan meneladani Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam merupakan suatu kewajipan bagi semua umat Islam. Perkara ini tidak akan dapat dicapai melainkan melalui proses pencarian ilmu. Dalam aspek ini, sememangnya kita telah disajikan dengan pelbagai koleksi rujukan mengenai kehidupan Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam. Hanya tinggal kini ialah kemahuan, keazaman, keiltizaman diri untuk belajar memahami dan meneladani seterusnya mendidik jiwa dan rohani untuk mengasihi Rasulullah Sallallahualaihiwasallam.

Selamat Menyambut Maulidur Rasul!!

Best Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Sarajevo Mosque, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Is Islamic Finance a Failure? An Assessment

Is Islamic Finance a Failure? An Assessment -Oliver Agha

Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:13pm EST Available at: http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL5E8CR0FV20120127?irpc=932

Oliver Agha, founding Partner of Agha and Co, a shari’ah-compliant law firm based in the United Arab Emirates (www.aghaandco.com), is a board member of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions, and secretary general of the World Islamic Finance Institute, a body created to develop best practice in the industry.Islamic finance, a faith-based system of ethical finance, is growing while it continues to struggle for its identity; it is torn between the market success of emulating conventional structures and developing genuinely Islamic structures that reflect its spiritual ethos.

This article reveals the struggle and highlights the endemic and extraneous pressures that threaten Islamic finance — and then notes specific remedial actions that must be taken for its redemption.The Islamic finance industry is reported to be valued at over $1 trillion, with an estimated annual growth rate of 10 percent (Global Islamic Finance Report, 34 (Humayon Dar et al eds., BMB Islamic ed. 2011)). The industry is continuing to grow despite its inherent problems, and some market analysts project it will be valued at anywhere from $3 to $5 trillion by 2016.Islamic finance should serve as a stabilising force in the global economic order because deposits in Islamic banks (which are not loans but true investment deposits on a mudaraba basis) are reinvested in the real economy for goods/services without any artificial money expansion.

In the conventional system, banks increase credit in good times on the fractional reserve banking system principle — for each dollar deposited (loaned) to a bank, the bank may loan out many more. The “choking” of such credit, in a downturn, can wreak havoc as evidenced by the financial crises, and therefore the equity-based constructs inherent in the Islamic system are likely to serve as a stable pillar of the economic system particularly in these times.While the spiritual precepts behind Islamic finance espouse risk sharing and partnerships, many products in the market reflect risk profiles of conventional structures. As disputes in such products/structures develop, the judgments (if out of line with Shari’ah precepts in the absence of regulatory and legal frameworks) could threaten the future of the industry.

From where we sit, stakeholders need reliability and clarity on laws governing the Islamic finance industry and adjudication of their disputes; in the absence of such clarity the industry will suffer from structural problems risking an exodus.This article is written, while uncompromisingly, with the intention to have the governmental authorities and stakeholders take serious notice of the issues and address them comprehensively through considered and comprehensive legislation while the industry is still in a nascent stage a stitch in time will save nine. It is also a call to all to push for an alignment for the industry with its spiritual core not focusing merely on market success. The article ought to be read with this background in mind.

Today, Islamic finance is beset with problems including those relating to credibility, regulatory, enforceability, uniformity (including Shari’ah issues), lack of scholarship/training and being fundamentally out of sync with its spiritual and ethical mandate.More often than not, people have said to me, “Islamic finance is a sham.” They don’t see the difference between Islamic banking and conventional banking and cannot differentiate between conventional and Islamic products. Some of this criticism is unfair and due to a lack of understanding of the difference in the actual risk profiles between the two (e.g. in an Islamic ijara project/property finance transaction, the financier assumes the risk of loss of the asset, which is markedly different than a conventional mortgage situation where the mortgagee (bank), as lender rather than owner, does not assume such risk of loss).

However, in other products such criticism is warranted. A case in point is the term “Islamic bond” — this oxymoron, used so commonly by practitioners and the media, suggests Islamic finance can offer a debt instrument that generates an interest-based return — a complete absurdity. A study of some market sukuk structures, however, reveals the term “Islamic bond” is correctly applied to such “market” structures (for greater detail on sukuk structures and “defaults”, please see Oliver Agha et al, Sukuk: Default or No Default?, Credit: The Magazine for Bond Investors, Jan. 2010).Some of the structures relied upon to solve the “problem” of “uncertainty” in an insurance transaction are a prime example of fundamentally unenforceable structures.

To obviate the uncertainty (lack of knowledge of the actual date of occurrence of a risk of loss) in an insurance transaction, structures were devised where the premium payer “gifts” the premium (with no expectation of return) to the credit of the takaful fund and then the takaful fund (while having no obligation to pay) “gifts” back the proceeds (assuming enough of a balance remains in the fund) upon the occurrence of an event of loss. This way the parties are just making the gifts and “not really getting into a contract”. But they are and expect it to serve as an enforceable obligation! However, based on Shari’ah precepts, once a gift is made there can be no expectation of a return. Thus, the entire construct is built on a false premise and the contract is invalid (this excludes those contracts where conditional contributions are made to a pooling arrangement). This sort of circumvention (hila), by making two unilateral “gifts”, effects the seemingly proscribed transaction through a sham arrangement.

Ironically, the “uncertainty” inherent in such transactions is not even of the proscribed type (Oliver Agha, Tabarru in Takaful: Helpful Innovation or Unnecessary Complication? 9 UCLA J. Islamic and Near E.L. 101 (2010)).Such constructs demean the Islamic finance industry and spur the hackneyed adage that “Islamic finance is a sham.” In truth, there is substantive basis for the development of Islamic insurance (which should be based on mutual arrangements and a commitment to refund premia on certain events upon non-occurrence of events of loss).Legal and regulatory frameworks in countries are generally severely deficient (with some exceptions e.g. Malaysia and Pakistan) and do not provide a framework for the fluidity required for efficacious transactions; nor does the system envisage the requisite Islamic procedures/laws/dispute resolution systems Islamic finance is not understood and in some instances (and in Islamic jurisdictions) is not even treated on a par with conventional finance.

More needs to be done at the governmental levels, including formulating legal and regulatory frameworks that (i) delineate standards applicable to the products/constructs in the industry (AAOIFI guidelines are helpful though not necessarily dispositive, and in some areas need review and revision to reflect consistency and cogency); (ii) develop substantive laws on property/real estate transactions that detail the rights and obligations of Islamic financier vs. developer vs. customer (clearly mortgage laws have little application in an Islamic ijara financing as the financier/property owner cannot properly be granted a mortgage on property that it owns); (iii) otherwise “level” the playing field between conventional and Islamic banking (e.g. reduce transfer fees in Islamic banking that need to occur twice, where in conventional banking there is just one property transfer); and (iv) simultaneously address the issue of transactions that have Shari’ah Board approval but are in stark contravention of the law of the country (e.g. beneficial ownership is not dispositive while registered ownership is when pursuing a defaulting customer).

Not surprisingly, the relevant authorities have little understanding of how to handle Islamic disputes — in some instances authorities have sent ijara disputes to rent committees to sort out. This completely misses the picture, as the underlying transaction requires careful consideration as an overall Islamic lease to purchase transaction with a fine understanding of the other elements that such a transaction contain, including complex (and sometimes tenuous) purchase undertakings and in some cases, deeply problematic “forward lease constructs” that are neither forward leases nor necessarily enforceable from a Shari’ah or a legal perspective. Nor is there much consideration of how courts will manage liquidations of Islamic banks in particular the treatment allotted to unrestricted investors vs. shareholders.Our experience in litigating complex Islamic transactions reveals that judges may be at a loss to properly adjudicate complex modern-day Islamic transactions. As a result, there is confusion among Islamic financiers, consumers and other stakeholders about exactly what they can expect in court when things turn sour.

This in turn does not augur well for the development of the Islamic finance industry, if left unchecked.Assuming there is a judicial system that is capable of dealing with Islamic disputes/ arbitrations, there are a host of complex enforceability issues at play in Islamic transactions that seem to be lost on issuers and banks and more importantly not highlighted to consumers.A case in point is a deal where parties elected to subject English law to “Shari’ah” in a contract as per their agreement. In other words, the Islamic instrument was to be enforced in accordance with English law, but always in accordance with applicable Islamic law precepts.

However, English courts in such a situation have not applied Shari’ah because it was deemed not to be a governing body of law but a mere embodiment of Islamic religious principles. In the Shamil Bank case, the court noted that the Rome Convention 1980, scheduled to the Contracts (Applicable Law) Act 1990, only contemplated and sanctioned the choice of the law of a country, not a religious principle. Furthermore, the court held that “the reference to Shari’ah law was repugnant to the choice of English law and could not sensibly be given effect to.” One can surmise then that when extraneous law is clear and specified, it will still not be applicable if there is a conflict with English Law.Given such pronouncements, Islamic jurists will invariably revisit English judgments on a “de novo” basis to determine whether there is genuine compliance with Shari’ah principles.

Had this critical nuance regarding the impact of conflict of laws (in of itself a highly complex subject) been highlighted to the scholars when such deals were being approved, I am sure such structures would never have been sanctioned in the first place.The lack of standardisation in Islamic finance creates confusion across the world over the dependability of structures and consistent application of principles.

While AAOFI, IFSB and World Islamic Finance Institute are Islamic bodies that work on developing standards, uniformity and developing communications among stakeholders, there is much work to be done on a faster track and with a deeper involvement of the stakeholders from different realms of the industry. There is, unfortunately, a lack of an overall vision and such disparate endeavors lack a cohesive, cogent and comprehensive approach to tackle the key issues facing the industry. Closer coordination must occur between these bodies and a comprehensive approach developed.Shari’ah scholars have largely done well in handling the inexorable demands placed on them and heavy pressure to yield to structures that are cleverly crafted to appear compliant but lack substantive compliance.

However, they need to make some clear strides in certain areas. Their opinions need to be published and clearly set forth with their legal reasoning. Individual diktats that lack basis in Islamic law must be questioned — the doctrine of necessity, which was used sparingly and mostly in life and death situations (e.g. permissibility to eat pork to survive if starving), is not appropriate to sanction instruments that serve economic convenience and would never independently be acceptable under Shari’ah. The fee arrangements under which the scholars operate need to be transparent to avoid any suggestion of undue compensation or perception of conflict of interest.

There needs to be consistency in methodology and approach and acknowledgement of precedent; the hackneyed phrase that “Shari’ah does not acknowledge precedent” is overly simplistic. Islamic Law simply gives the judge greater discretion in determining whether to apply a previous judgment, based on a broad consideration of whether there are any different factors present in the current case. When an Islamic judge (Qadi) applies analogical reasoning (Qiyas) and reviews an earlier case, the earlier ruling is applied if the underlying cause (‘illa) of the old case is present in the one before the court. A judge is not bound to blindly apply precedent, but it would be very unusual for a judge to disregard precedent capriciously and without any ameliorating circumstances.

There is a dearth of human capital in the Islamic finance industry. At the core, there are few western-style Islamic institutions that attract and educate the best and brightest in the Islamic world. Generally, many lawyers practicing as Islamic finance lawyers have little knowledge of Islamic law and have just worked on a subset of transactions without an independent study of the core sources of Islam or Islamic law.

Imagine a securities lawyer practicing securities law in the U.S. without having read the securities acts, or a tax lawyer who has never studied the tax code!Conventional bankers largely seem enthused about the market opportunity which exists, but in most cases without a due appreciation for the spiritual principles that underlie Islamic finance. When you go through the challenges confronting the Islamic finance market, it is a wonder that it has survived at all; in fact, it continues to grow despite the endemic and extraneous pressures. Islamic finance has survived and grown despite the mistakes/inadequacies of stakeholders/practitioners.The solutions are relatively simple to enumerate — but harder to implement:–

The Islamic world needs visionaries that take on the mantle of ethical finance and seek to develop it along the lines originally intended i.e. a spiritual system of finance that builds partnership and risk-sharing constructs rather than exploitative or adversarial contracts which leave no room for accommodation in a downturn. There is a crying need for prominent magnates to show that money can be made (and success achieved) in this world while preserving spiritual principles.

Governments need to establish Islamic finance task forces in their countries to critically assess the state of Islamic finance; such groups need to comprehensively review regulatory and legal structures, promulgate laws that fill in gaps, and create proper dispute-resolution centers.– Governments need to devote significant amounts of funds to developing fine institutions that offer Harvard-, Yale- or Oxford-style educations and train sophisticated and integrated Islamic jurists as well as financiers, lawyers and accountants.– Conventional dispute resolution centers need to be recalibrated to handle Islamic disputes with a rework of the applicable rules/procedures.

Corporations, Islamic banks and insurers need to reflect best practices as suggested by AAOIFI, by having at least three scholars on their boards as well as a financial advisor and a lawyer who is well versed in Shari’ah. Otherwise, opinions/fatwas may reflect problematic gaps. As importantly, individual consumers need to examine what they are offered and ask questions if anything seems to be in basic conflict with Shari’ah principles. Islamic finance is not rocket science; it is a simple discipline made unnecessarily complicated, sometimes to achieve impermissible ends. Consumers should make their opinions known and write to Islamic banks and institutions in an effort to help develop the industry, and failing that to the quasi-regulatory bodies mentioned above.

Perhaps the greatest philosopher in Islamic history, Ghazali, noted when asked about his quest to discern truth from error:(M)y daring in mounting from the lowland of servile conformism to the highland of independent investigation…what I found loathsome among the methods of the devotees of ta’lim, who restrict the truth to uncritical acceptance of the Imam’s pronouncements…what I seek is knowledge of the true meaning of things…sure and certain knowledge is that in which the thing known is made so manifest that no doubt clings to it, nor is it accompanied by the possibility of error and deception, nor can the mind even suppose a possibility. (Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali, Al-Ghazali’s Path to Sufism 17-20 (R.J. McCarthy trans., Fons Vitae 2000)).

So, is Islamic finance a failure? No; it is never fair to blame a discipline for the failures and shortcomings of its adherents. However, for it to continue to grow in a correct way, it must come back to its spiritual underpinnings best reflected by the motto: “Principle before Profit”.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN
Lake District, England

More Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Muslims

All Terrorists are Muslims, Except the 94% that Aren’t

Available at: http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/not-all-terrorists-are-muslims/

CNN recently published an article entitled Study: Threat of Muslim-American terrorism in U.S. exaggerated; according to a study released by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “the terrorist threat posed by radicalized Muslim-Americans has been exaggerated.”

Yet, Americans continue to live in mortal fear of radical Islam, a fear propagated and inflamed by right wing Islamophobes. If one follows the cable news networks, it seems as if all terrorists are Muslims. It has even become axiomatic in some circles to chant: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists are Muslims.” Muslims and their “leftist dhimmi allies” respond feebly, mentioning Waco as the one counter example, unwittingly affirming the belief that “nearly all terrorists are Muslims.”

But perception is not reality. The data simply does not support such a hasty conclusion. On the FBI’s official website, there exists a chronological list of all terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil from the year 1980 all the way to 2005. That list can be accessed here (scroll down all the way to the bottom).

Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database

According to this data, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%). These radical Jews committed acts of terrorism in the name of their religion. These were not terrorists who happened to be Jews; rather, they were extremist Jews who committed acts of terrorism based on their religious passions, just like Al-Qaeda and company.

Yet notice the disparity in media coverage between the two. It would indeed be very interesting to construct a corresponding pie chart that depicted the level of media coverage of each group. The reason that Muslim apologists and their “leftist dhimmi allies” cannot recall another non-Islamic act of terrorism other than Waco is due to the fact that the media gives menial (if any) coverage to such events. If a terrorist attack does not fit the “Islam is the perennial and existential threat of our times” narrative, it is simply not paid much attention to, which in a circuitous manner reinforces and “proves” the preconceived narrative. It is to such an extent that the average American cannot remember any Jewish or Latino terrorist; why should he when he has never even heard of the Jewish Defense League or the Ejercito Popular Boricua Macheteros? Surely what he does not know does not exist!

The Islamophobes claim that Islam is intrinsically a terrorist religion. The proof? Well, just about every terrorist attack is Islamic, they retort. Unfortunately for them, that’s not quite true. More like six percent. Using their defunct logic, these right wingers ought now to conclude that nearly all acts of terrorism are committed by Latinos (or Jews). Let them dare say it…they couldn’t; it would be political and social suicide to say such a thing. Most Americans would shut down such talk as bigoted; yet, similar statements continue to be said of Islam, without any repercussions.

The Islamophobes live in a fantasy world where everyone is supposedly too “politically correct” to criticize Islam and Muslims. Yet, the reality is the exact opposite: you can get away with saying anything against the crescent. Can you imagine the reaction if I said that Latinos should be profiled because after all they are the ones who commit the most terrorism in the country? (For the record: I don’t believe in such profiling, because I am–unlike the right wing nutters–a believer in American ideals.)

The moral of the story is that Americans ought to calm down when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Right wingers always live in mortal fear–or rather, they try to make you feel that way. In fact, Pamela Geller (the queen of internet Islamophobia) literally said her mission was to “scare the bejeezus outta ya.” Don’t be fooled, and don’t be a wuss. You don’t live in constant fear of radicalized Latinos (unless you’re Lou Dobbs), even though they commit seven times more acts of terrorism than Muslims in America. Why then are you wetting yourself over Islamic radicals? In the words of Cenk Uygur: you’re at a ten when you need to be at a four. Nobody is saying that Islamic terrorism is not a matter of concern, but it’s grossly exaggerated.

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. More than 8000 Muslims were killed here by the Serb.

From Turbo Capitalism to Popular Capitalism

David Cameron pledges era of ‘popular capitalism’

Prime minister blames Labour for ‘turbo-capitalism’ of recent decades and says Tories are best placed to lead new type of capitalism

Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/19/david-cameron-pledges-popular-capitalism#history-link-box

David Cameron has marched onto territory staked out by Ed Miliband by promising that there would be no return to the “turbo-capitalism” of recent decades.

In the third new year intervention by the main party leaders on what is being described as “responsible capitalism”, the prime minister revived a signature theme of his time in opposition when he said he would preside over an era of “popular capitalism”.

“I want these difficult economic times to achieve more than just paying down the deficit and encouraging growth,” he said. He also announced a co-operatives bill to give public sector workers a greater chance to create mutuals to deliver public services.

“I want them to lead to a socially responsible and genuinely popular capitalism,” he said.

Miliband publicly welcomed the prime minister’s decision to address issues he marked out in his Labour conference speech last year when he promised to champion “producer” businesses and to crack down on “predator” businesses. But in private, the Labour leader dismissed the speech as a “doughnut” – attractive on the outside, but with nothing in the middle.

In a parallel speech to the Which! consumer rights organisation, Miliband said: “I frankly don’t believe that this prime minister is serious about this agenda. Why? He attacked me last year when I talked about irresponsible capitalism, and I’m afraid it’s never going to work if your basic view is that government should just get out of the way.”

The prime minister, whose pollsters say Miliband’s ideas for forging a new form of capitalism are resonating with voters, challenged two Labour claims – that it is best placed to reform the free market and that the Tories are disqualified from contributing to the debate because they are the party of capital.

Cameron said New Labour was to blame for the excesses of recent years, adding: “Three years ago, I argued that the previous government’s turbo-capitalism turned a blind eye to corporate excess while we believed in responsible capitalism and would make it happen.

“The last government claimed to have got rid of boom and bust. What it really did was allow a debt-fuelled boom to get out of control.

“The result was a series of lethal imbalances in our economy, between north and south, between financial services and manufacturing, between the people who got huge rewards at the top, or welfare at the bottom, while everyone else seemed to be left out. The truth is that the last government made a Faustian pact with the City.”

He said the Tories had a record for promoting social responsibility that dated back to the era of Edmund Burke, who insisted on public accountability for the East India Company.

This spirit led to the Factory Acts under Benjamin Disraeli, which began to set working conditions, and continued into the modern era asConservatives forged a “genuinely popular capitalism” by opening up markets, he said.

“A consistent Conservative theme has been the ambition of building a nation of shareholders, savers and homeowners,” Cameron said. “Macmillan championed this through home ownership, giving people an asset of their own. Margaret Thatcher did the same with privatisation and share ownership.”

The Conservative party had shown that progress was not achieved by abandoning the free market, which actually promoted morality, he said, adding: “I believe that open markets and free enterprise are the best imaginable force for improving human wealth and happiness. They are the engine of progress, generating the enterprise and innovation that lifts people out of poverty and gives people opportunity.

“I would go further: where they work properly, open markets and free enterprise can actually promote morality. Why? Because they create a direct link between contribution and reward, between effort and outcome. The fundamental basis of the market is the idea of something for something – an idea we need to encourage, not condemn. So we should use this crisis of capitalism to improve markets, not undermine them.”

The prime minister said the Tories were best placed to reform the free market because the party understood its failing and strengths, unlike Labour which either promoted the economics of socialism or “let capitalism rip” under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. “No true Conservative has a naive belief that all politics has to do is step back and let capitalism rip,” he added.

Aides say Miliband is confident that Cameron will fail because he has no understanding of the difficulties many people are experiencing or the role the government should play in changing the rules. The Labour leader believes he will trump Cameron in three key areas:

• Changing the rules. Miliband wrote in the FT on Thursday about introducing new rules for takeovers to prevent a repeat of the “unedifying spectacle” of the Kraft takeover of Cadbury.

• Standing up for people suffering in the downturn. Miliband says his pledge to break up the big six energy companies is an example of this.

• Understanding that the world has utterly changed. “We are no longer in the politics of ‘and’ but are now into the politics of ‘or’,” one source said. “Tough choices will have to be made. But in Ed’s case they will be informed by his values. David Cameron just thinks the government should get out of the way.”

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Cambridge University

Islamists look to shake up Egypt stock exchange

Islamists look to shake up Egypt stock exchange

Available at: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/609331

Last month, Mahmoud Abbas, a member of the Salafi-led Nour Party, addressed newly elected members of Egypt’s lower house of parliament and journalists in a conference at the Egyptian stock exchange, in an effort to reassure investors that markets will be safe under an Islamist-dominated parliament.

“I am an investor in the Egyptian exchange since 1996,” said Abbas, whose party has garnered about a quarter of the seats in the People’s Assembly.

But as he spoke, it also became clear that the stock market might be seeing some changes in Egypt’s more Islamic-oriented political environment, such as an Islamic index on the country’s stock exchange.

It remains unclear what exactly an Islamist-controlled government could mean for the Egyptian economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. In recent months, talk from Islamist politicians about limiting alcohol sales and dictating conservative beach attire have spurred fears that an Islamic government may toe a conservative line and crack down on industries they consider in contravention of Islamic Sharia law.

Representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which will control about 40 percent of the incoming parliament, and the Nour Party have both expressed a desire for a list of stocks for Sharia-compliant companies on the Egyptian market and the introduction of policies that would eventually foster a stock market that would be entirely religiously acceptable.

In Islam, interest is forbidden, as are other banking practices that are deemed usury or as taking advantage of a person’s financial need. Though interpretations of what is acceptable Islamic banking vary, with many transactions resembling widely accepted practices, profits in alcohol, pork and entertainment that features scantily clad women are unanimously considered prohibited.

Experts and party representatives have said that in the near future, the stock market might include both the market’s regular index of companies and a parallel index for companies with Islamic-certified practices in permitted industries.

Difficult implementation

For a company to make it onto the Islamic index, it must have adopted Islamic financial operations. Experts say that means very little of their investments can be locked up in interest-bearing activities or in industries not allowed in Islam.

Thus, an Islamic stock index must be in part predicated on the existence of a strong Islamic banking system in the country.

Egypt is lagging behind the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and much of the rest of the Arab world when it comes to Islamic banking. According to a 2009 report by the McKinsey consulting firm, Islamic banking only accounts for 3 to 4 percent of the US$193 billion banking industry in Egypt.

But that doesn’t seem to be due to a lack of demand on the part of Egyptians.

In the past, Islamic banking practices were discouraged by the Mubarak government, said Walid Hegazy, managing partner at the Hegazy Associates law firm and vice president of the newly founded Egyptian Society for Islamic Finance. Hegazy hopes his group will gather experts in the field and help connect them to Egyptian banks looking to cater to the Islamic-banking market.

Under Mubarak, he said, the political climate was so anti-Muslim Brotherhood that many feared that endorsing Islamic banking would boost the opposition group’s funding.

“We would hear rumors before the revolution, but deep inside we knew that the Central Bank and senior officials were not very sympathetic,” he said.

Now, Hegazy said, Egyptian companies are finally free to choose the kind of banking systems they prefer, and bankers see the market as full of customers who had previously refrained from using banks for religious reasons. FJP and Nour representatives said they saw this as a way to engage potential investors excluded by the corrupt economic policies of Mubarak and his cronies.

Even before Mubarak stepped down, many banks in Egypt were already looking to tap into the Islamic financial services market. Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt, Bahrain’s Al-Baraka Bank and HSBC’s Amana bank have extensive operations growing here.

Hegazy said his group has been approached by representatives from Egypt’s biggest banks, many of whom are looking to expand into Islamic financial services.

“I think we have a chance, I’m very optimistic,” he said.

Who will be the authority?

In December, Adel Hamid, an FJP representative, said that Al-Azhar might emerge as an economic authority through which companies are Sharia-sanctioned.

The formation of such a board would give the religious institution great economic power. Hussein Hassan, a consultant on Islamic banking who has worked in the past with numerous Gulf financial institutions, said that he’s not sure the scholars are well-enough educated on how the modern international economy functions.

“There are some scholars so conservative they don’t understand the nature of the economy,” he said.

As for the process of certifying companies, Hegazy is also not sure if Al-Azhar would be the best authority, though he thinks an Egyptian body should rule on Egyptian companies.

“Although I’m concerned the process of companies converting will be long process,” he warned.

Getting too caught up on labeling companies and banks is not important to the development of a more Islamic economy, according to Hassan. He said it is the Muslim investor’s responsibility, if he wants to invest in Islamic stocks, to examine a company’s balance sheet to see where its money is coming from and where it goes.

“We don’t have to have the label of Islamic,” he said.

Many large companies that are not overtly religious conduct their business according to similar precepts found in Islam, he said. Shifting to an Islamic-certified designation would be relatively simple for them.

The important point, Hegazy said, is that Egypt’s international standards do not lag under the development of its own authority, or else the stock exchange could lose further ground.

“The regulation cannot fall behind,” he said. “That would be disastrous.”

He also warned against any authorities forbidding entire industries in the country for purely Islamic reasons. He says he hopes Egypt’s economy will remain free and Egyptians will still have the right to make their own consumption decisions.

“We’ll still have tobacco and alcohol companies in Egypt, hopefully.”

An unclear timeline

Whatever happens, experts agree that the changes won’t be quick.

“I see the first four years as showing why this system is better,” said Hegazy, who has also served as an advisor to the Brotherhood’s economic committee on Islamic banking.

“What I think will happen is we’re going to keep the stock exchange as it is, little by little developing Sharia-compliant investments.”

But some say politicians’ hopes of a completely Sharia-compliant stock exchange are unrealistic.

Even countries such as UAE and Malaysia that have Islamic-compliant components of their stock market have parallel indices of conventional, non-Islamic companies. In these economies, even Islamic-certified companies are still allowed to have a small amount of their holdings tied up in interest-earning debt.

They also use very liberal interpretations of Islamic financial law, according to Hegazy, especially Malaysia.

Given the interwoven nature of modern international finance, the goal of an Islamic stock market is not a political or economic reality for Egypt, or any country for that matter, according to Hassan.

“I don’t think there will be any changes to make the Egyptian stock market an Islamic stock market,” said Hassan. “After all, it’s related to stock markets all over the world.”

“Until we have an Islamic central bank, then we cannot have 100 percent Islamic financial laws.”

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Amsterdam, Netherland

The proper man understands equity, the small man profits

Islamic Finance: Year of index outperformance

By Rushdi Siddiqui Available at: Business Times Malaysia or http://www.indianmuslimobserver.com/2012/01/islamic-finance-year-of-index.html

“The proper man understands equity, the small man profits.” Confucius.

The year 2011 was the year for (Malaysia) syariah-compliant index outperformance against all conventional developed and emerging market country indicies and almost all frontier countries.

The Islamic finance industry has not talked up the Islamic equity capital market story, as the Islamic debt capital market poster child, ‘Sukuk,’ has become the alter-ego of Islamic finance. But, does that amount to concentration brand and business risk for a US$1 trillion (RM3.15 trillion), where Sukuk are, at best, 20 per cent of Islamic finance?

For example, the continued conversation about the ‘controversy’ surrounding Goldman Sach’s US$2b (RM6.3 billion) Sukuk, structure, proceeds and trading, seems to be a proxy statement about Islamic finance’s welcome mat to market moving institutions.

Equity Conversation

There is an equal and as important conversation that needs to be had on Islamic finance chat groups and social media, and its about equity. The equity conversation is not only closer to the inclusive and public good objectives of Islamic finance, but, more importantly, its transparent and easier to explain to the ‘man on the street’ and ‘sceptical media’ in the elevator ride time frame.

Let’s start the conversation by looking at performance of syariah-compliant indicies and compare them to conventional counterpart indicies for 2011.

Today, we look at syariah-compliant indexes, as it sets up the foundation for the transition to syariah-based indexes. It should be noted there is nothing “Islamic” about syariah-compliant indexes, as most of the underlying companies are not from the Muslim countries.

These compliant companies just happen to pass primary business screens (akin to social-ethical indexes) and financial screens (eliminate companies with high debt, high account receivable (translating sales into earnings), and too much non-operating interest income).
May be such screening is the need of the hour for all investors during external shocks or financial tsunamis of sub-prime credit crisis, sovereign debt crisis, so on.

(Query: What provides a pulse on the health of Islamic finance?

A. syariah compliant indicies.
B. Sukuk Indicies.
C. syariah Based Indexes.
D. Ratings of Islamic banks.
E. Islamic product offerings.
F. Western media coverage.
G. Western institutions entry
H. Anti-syariah movement blogs.)

Some observations from the S&P Developed Country indicies for 2011:

* Syariah-compliant indicies out-performed conventional counterpart indicies in 23 of the 25 developed countries, ex-Portugal (no syariah index)

* Syariah-compliant indicies out-performed conventional counterpart indicies in all the major countries encountering turmoil in 2011: US (positive return), Greece, Spain (positive return), Ireland (positive return), Italy, etc. There were not enough compliant companies for a Portugal syariah-compliant index.

* Syariah-compliant indicies out-performed conventional counter-parts in Germany and France – two countries with large exposure to sovereign debt crisis in Europe

* Syariah-complaint indicies under-performance in resource plays of Australia and Canada, yet out-performed in technology or IT- heavy syariah-compliant Israel Index.

Some observations from the S&P Emerging Market Country indicies:

* Syariah-compliant emerging market country indicies outperformed conventional counterpart indexes in 14 of the 20 countries.

* Syariah-compliant Muslim country indicies outperformed (Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt) in three of the five (Morocco and Indonesia) emerging market countries.

* Syariah-compliant indicies from the BRIC countries outperformed in three (Russia, India and China) of four (Brazil) countries.

* Syariah-compliant indicies from SAMI countries outperformed in three (Turkey (Ankara), Malaysia, and Saudi (classified as frontier country) of the four (Indonesia) countries.

* Syariah-compliant indicies had positive return in Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines, whereas conventional had positive return for only one country – Philippines.
Some observations from the S&P Frontier Country indiciesfor 2011:

* Syariah-compliant indicies out-performed in 16 of the 26 frontier countries. It should be noted that 11 of the countries, including Kazakhstan, did not have a syariah-compliant country due lack of enough companies for an index. Kazakhstan stands out because it has made statements of wanting to be an Islamic finance hub.

* Syariah-compliant indicies from the Muslim countries outperformed better than conventional country indicies in seven of the 13, ex-Kazakhstan, countries. It should be noted that most of the Muslim countries are classified as frontier countries except five countries: Turkey, Malaysia, Morocco, Indonesia and Egypt.

It should be noted that the S&P Malaysia syariah BMI (+3.8 per cent), ahead of S&P Qatar syariah (+3.5 per cent), was the best performing syariah-compliant index from the 18 Muslim countries covered by S&P.

Although, the S&P Malaysia BMI conventional index (at -1.14 per cent) underperformed the syariah-complaint index, it was the second best performing in the Muslim world behind S&P Qatar (+3.34 per cent).

The S&P Malaysia syariah BMI (at +3.8 per cent) outperformed all conventional developed and emerging market S&P country indexes, and only underperformed three conventional country frontier countries: Jamaica (+28 per cent), Panama (+18 per cent), and Namibia (+6 per cent).

Conclusion

One challenging and volatile year, (2011) does not establish a performance pattern for syariah-compliant indexes that are ‘light’ on exposure to the conventional financial sector, typically the largest market capitalisation weighted in almost all countries.

However, it shows that ‘low-debt, non-financial-social/ethical’ way of investing does well when there was an external shock to the financial/capital markets.

The 2011 momentum for syariah- compliant indicies should be the spark for stakeholders of Islamic investing to establish foundation for building out the equity side of Islamic finance.

We need to examine:

* Tex benefits of dividends over interest payments, especially countries wanting to be an Islamic asset management hub. Here the Muslim world, led by syariah-compliant equities, can provide a lesson for the western capital market’s bias on debt and leveraging.

* Delivery and payment for clearing and settlement in certain Muslim markets.

* Increasing the free float of syariah-compliant and syariah-based companies in Muslim countries, plus increasing foreign ownership percentage stakes.

* Consolidation amongst Islamic banks, takaful operators, leasing companies, etc, hence, resulting in large cap and liquid companies with large free float (attributes of prominent western-compliant companies in Islamic funds)

* A robust Islamic equity capital market should result in increased IPOs, via private equity exits, family listings, etc.

The ‘proper man understands (the benefits) of equity.’

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Cape Town Radio Station, Cape Town, South Africa

A Must Read Interview with Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradhawi

A Must Read Interview with Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradhawi

A Conversation with Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi

By Huda Al-Saleh Available at: http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=3&id=23563

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- In an extensive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi revealed that he turned down the post of “Muslim Brotherhood guide” on numerous occasions, preferring to remain a guide for the nation. Al-Qaradawi also revealed that he believes that the traditional Salafi trend has become divided into several schools of thought, some of which are very close to the Muslim Brotherhood Group.

Sheikh al-Qaradawi also stated that the Islamic jurisprudence crisis relating to women’s issues cannot be attributed to Islam, but that it is a crisis in understanding these issues by some people.

The Following is the full text of the interview:

[Asharq Al Awsat] Your Eminence, allow us to start with your assessment of the current crop of Islamist Movements, particularly regarding the issue of secrecy and the lack of transparency?

[Al-Qaradawi] First of all, we would like to ask: What is the meaning of the political Islamist movement? I have the book, “Priorities of the Islamist Movements,” in which the Islamist movements are defined as organized collective popular work to serve Islam. The work has to be popular and non-official; also it has to be collective and not individual, because the individual work can never achieve great aims; it also has to be organized with leadership and grassroots, and its aim has to be to make Islam victorious; moreover the Islamist movement has to have links to politics, because it is not possible to raise the status of Islam unless it has influence and impact. In the life and nature of Islam there is call, state, creed, Shariaa, worship, dealings, faith, and worldly life; in order that this is achieved, Islam has to be linked to politics.

[Asharq Al Awsat] What about the secret work of the Islamist movements?

[Al-Qaradawi] Not all the Islamist movements, as I describe them, are based on secrecy. This depends on the countries in which these movements operate; if they are countries that allow work to support Islam, and such work is not legally or constitutionally banned, then the groups work openly. There is the example of the Jamaat-e Islami in Pakistan, which was established by Mr. Abul A’ala Maududi; its nature since it was established has been to work openly and publicly. As for the Muslim Brotherhood, it is described as a banned group because the state does not allow Islamist work in public, and also prevents the establishment of a party that is linked to Islam on the pretext of banning the establishment of parties on religious bases.

Here I wonder, are the religious people banned from practicing politics and participating in the building of the country?! There is no doubt that this is a crime, because religion is the essence of life, and the religious individual has the right to participate in building the country through his personal opinion, be it political, economic, educational, or health opinion. If the state prevents the practicing of politics, then this will certainly lead to underground work.

I was asked by a state security officer at a meeting about my opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and I called on him to grant the group the freedom to work openly. Why is the Muslim Brotherhood prevented from establishing a party?

If the groups are banned from working publicly, they will start to work underground. The Islamist groups might be forced to work secretly. This is an unhealthy situation, because whoever works in the open can be held to account for his actions, and you can criticize him, but how can you hold to account whoever works in secret?

[Asharq Al Awsat] Are governments exaggerating the dangers of political Islamist movements, because of the fear that these movements one day might demand their right to govern?

[Al-Qaradawi] Sometimes the apprehensions can be correct, but at other times they only are mere illusions. Many of the existing governments now do not have any popular support; they are governments that are hated by their peoples, and they govern their countries by brute force, and martial and emergency laws rather than governing through the consensus of the people. It is possible that they hold elections in the name of democracy, and establish parliaments; however, the fact is that they do not express the satisfaction of the people as these government rig the elections. As an old socialist has said: Elections in the socialist countries are a “one-horse race,” and hence the result is that the candidate wins the famous four nines (99.99 percent).

[Asharq Al Awsat] What are your thoughts on what some are describing as an internal split within Islamist movements between patriotic and revolutionary divisions?

[Al-Qaradawi] Splits happen frequently, whether in Islamist or non-Islamist movements. This is because there are those who do not like continuous silence, and they have violent and revolutionary character, and hence they split, and establish another group whose course is violence. However, what is important in all this is the mother group, which in many cases is the one that remains, and the splinters become unable to do anything, and they dissolve in society.

[Asharq Al Awsat] But why do Islamist groups fail in implementation?

[Al-Qaradawi] This is not restricted only to the Islamist groups. All the idealistic movements that have principles for which they call, when the time comes for implementation the idealistic call becomes one thing, and the implementation becomes another. This is the nature of man himself, and the nature of human beings. Not all movements are like this, and it is wrong to generalize this judgment; nevertheless, the Islamist movements remain better than others, because religion protects from severe deviation; all democrats are the first ones to encroach upon the principles of democracy.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Let us move to the current relations between the Muslim Brotherhood, and traditional Salafism. Recently a form of competition has started to emerge between the Salafi tendency of the Muslim Brotherhood on both the political and jihadi arenas, and this competition has been spread even within the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood themselves. What do you say about this?

[Al-Qaradawi] This is true. The Muslim Brotherhood tendency is a broad one. Sheikh Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, when describing the group says that it includes all the concepts for which all groups call. He says that it is a Salafi movement as it calls for returning to the Koran and Sunnah, it is a Sufi tendency as it calls for purifying the hearts and returning to God, it is a Sunni way that is based on honoring the Prophet’s companions and on the work of the Sunni school of thinking; moreover, it is a political body, a sports group, a youths league. The group includes all the reformist concepts. The advantage of the Muslim Brotherhood lies in its comprehensive character and its balance, as it does not exaggerate in supporting one tendency at the expense of another. For instance, the Salafi tendency sometimes prevails over the Muslim Brotherhood; this tendency adopts a hard-line attitude about issues including the interpretation of God’s qualities, the arguments between the Salafi and the Ash’ari [Sunni sub-sect believes that that man does not have the power to act before he actually acts and that God creates this power in him at the time of action], the Maturidi [Sunni sub-sect believes that before the action man has a certain general power for action but that this power becomes specific to a particular action only when the action is performed], and others. Thus, the Salafis enter the arena, and these issues and others become the focus of a major debate, arguments, and fighting. This exists in particular in the Gulf countries, where the Muslim Brotherhood tendency has been influenced by the Salafi tendency.

[Asharq Al Awsat] But the relations between the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood have not been good, and these relations have become more critical in the case of the traditional Salafi after Hamas entered the political arena?

[Al-Qaradawi] The traditional Salafism has become several schools of thinking, and is no longer a single school. There is a Salafi movement that is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, and now there are those who say to the Salafis: Now you are talking like Al-Qaradawi. There are Salafis who have become close to centrism, which is based on combining the opposites, combining mind and matter, combining the spirit and the material, sometimes interpreting and at other times abstaining from interpretation, and combining intellect, action, religion, and politics. Moreover, we cannot disregard the development of the Salafis; in the past they did not talk about politics, but now they participate in the political battles and the elections after they reproached the Muslim Brotherhood for a long time for doing so. The Salafis also have developed in several jurisprudence issues, such as “photography,” which they used to consider one of the major crimes, but now they consider it allowed.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Is this change due to enlightenment, or has reality imposed this change?

[Al-Qaradawi] There is no doubt that the reality has imposed change on them, including getting in touch with the world, and their travel to the world countries, after a large number of them used never to leave their own countries, which was the cause of not changing their thinking. When the Salafi goes out, and gets in touch with the various peoples, he definitely will revise his views. Also there are those whose reading has expanded, and got acquainted with books they never expected to read at any time. Man is not a stone, and there are many influences that are bound to cast their shadow on the individual.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Has the Muslim Brotherhood abandoned the jihad currently represented by the Hamas Movement?

[Al-Qaradawi] The groups that have been based on jihad, such as the jihadi or Salafi jihadi groups have been established against the Muslim Brotherhood. The first jihadi group was established as opposing the Muslim Brotherhood, and accused it of betraying the principles. Such groups have carried out some acts of violence against the Jews, the British, and some citizens, such as the case of Al-Khazindar [In March 1948, members of the Muslim Brotherhood secret apparatus assassinated a judge, Ahmad al-Khazindar Bey, who had given a prison sentence to a Muslim Brother for attacking British soldiers]. We said to them: We have tried such things, but they have not been helpful, and we have not gained anything out of them other than detention, suffering, and victimization.

Man ought to be able to change his plans on the basis of what he sees. All Islamist movements are entitled to try for themselves, and start from zero until they reach the conclusions of the preceding groups. The jihadis who reproached the Muslim Brotherhood for some issues, have gone back, retreated, considered themselves to have been wrong, and issued more than 12 books most of which are revisions, including the Islamic Group in Egypt, and many others that are based on violence, or use military force against the governments or against the citizens themselves.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Sheikh Ahmad Yassin subscribed to the principle that his movement should not engage in any political activities. He stood by this principle until he was assassinated. After Hamas won the elections, and joined the political process, does the current situation in Palestine prove the correctness of the stance of the Hamas founder?

[Al-Qaradawi] The political issues are subject to improvisation and change; they are not firm principles, but they are viewpoints that change with the change of situation and circumstances. Hamas’s refusal to join the political process and the elections has its circumstances. However, when Hamas discovered that there is someone who was going to usurp the state, encroach upon it, and that its members would become prisoners, it decided to fight the elections. Hamas won the elections contrary to the expectations of its opponents; thus the elections proceeded without rigging, contrary to many of the elections that take place in the Arab and Muslim countries.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Recently Sudan failed to keep its southern province. The secession is taking place under the influence of an Islamist address by Al-Bashir, who threatens to apply Islamic Shariaa in the south. Are Al-Bashir actions an embarrassment for Islamist groups?

[Al-Qaradawi] First of all, Al-Bashir will not apply Islamic Shariaa in the south, because any region that does not contain a Muslim majority does not have to apply the Shariaa, as the case is in South Sudan. Shariaa only applies in the regions that have Muslim majorities. The application of Shariaa is not what has led to the secession of the south; there are numerous reasons for this secession, which started with the British occupation that isolated South Sudan from North Sudan, and considered it an independent state, as the northern citizen would not be able to enter the south without special procedures, and the south was instilled with the culture of hating Khartoum. However, Sudan has not exerted any effort since its independence to combat what the colonialist powers had entrenched, and to change the inherited concepts; moreover, there are schemes plotted for that purpose.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Are you in favor of the conspiracy theory?

[Al-Qaradawi] I am not in favor of the conspiracy theory. However, the issue cannot be ignored. The reality has proved that there are conspiracies that scheme to secede the south from Sudan. Unfortunately, the world around us is talking in the language of blocs, and the scattered entities are getting together; however, the Arabs and Muslims still are in a state of increasing fragmentation and division. Europe that had fought each other, has found its interest in uniting and disregarding the entire past, contrary to what we do.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Have you been offered the post of president of Al-Azhar?

[Al-Qaradawi] No, never, and it can never be offered to me at any time.

[Asharq Al Awsat] What about the post of the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood?

[Al-Qaradawi] It has been offered to me several times, but I personally declined.

[Asharq Al Awsat] What were your reasons for declining?

[Al-Qaradawi] I found that it would be better for me to be a guide for the nation in general, with all its groups and tendencies, rather than be a guide for one of the groups, because this is more beneficial.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Was there government pressure involved?

[Al-Qaradawi] No, nothing like this.

[Asharq Al Awsat] What is your personal opinion of the attendance by Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Ashura [anniversary of the battle of Karbala and martyrdom of Imam Hussein Bin-Ali, 10 Muharram every Hegira year] celebration in Turkey? Is there a Shiite invasion of the Sunni cities?

[Al-Qaradawi] With regard to the Shiite invasion, I have said it repeatedly that in order to achieve effective rapprochement among the two schools of thinking, we ought to refrain from promoting one school of thinking in the societies of the other school. Because of this, the Shiites have become angry with me, especially after I called on the Sunni ulema to strengthen the Sunnis with any culture that protects from this invasion. This is because the Shiite school of thinking is trained for preaching their creed, and allocating large funds for this. Moreover, the Shiites have behind them a country to guide them.

With regard to Turkey, there are those in Istanbul who are known as Alawi [Shiite sub-sect, and an offshoot of the Shiite Twelvers], and perhaps they are the ones who celebrated Ashura. The attendance by Recep Tayyip Erdogan definitely was due to political reasons, especially as he is known for his skill and diplomacy; it is an attempt to win the hearts of all Turkish sides, especially the Alawi, the same as he did with the Kurds.

[Asharq Al Awsat] From an Islamic jurisprudence perspective, why is there always a crisis over every issue related to women, as it became apparent in Saudi Arabia recently over the work of women as “cashiers”?

[Al-Qaradawi] The crisis cannot be attributed to the Islamic jurisprudence. It is a crisis of some people in understanding these issues. The Salafi tendency was one of the most hard line about issue; however, recently new ideas have started to enter the tendency, and to create some kind of flexibility. The best proof of this is the conference of Islamic University in Medina to present the efforts of the Kingdom to serve the Islamic issues, as there was distinguished presence of women, and they participated in the research work and verbal interventions. This was the first time I saw such participation. Moreover, some time ago, I read about the discussions of the issue of “women driving cars,” the discussions took place publicly, which showed the development of the situation and the gradual steering away from rigidity. With time, the viewpoints of such issues will get closer.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Can you give us your opinion on two controversial issues; the mixing of the sexes and listening to music?

[Al-Qaradawi] What is meant by mixing of the sexes? Sometimes the term suggests something different from what is intended. This is as if it is mixing two issues together. If we are talking about man meeting woman in the mosque, as they meet in pilgrimage, mini-pilgrimage, scientific institutions, and scientific lessons, Islam does not prevent this. There are no mosques for women; what is known as Women’s Gate at the Prophet’s Mosque was ordered by the honorable Prophet, God’s prayer and peace be upon him, in order to prevent men brushing against women. Islam has not ordered the existing severe separation between the sexes, because man is from a woman, and woman is from a man. God Almighty says: “The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil [Sura Al-Tawbah, from Verse 71].” Therefore, a woman has the right to enter the parliamentary and Shura councils. Women are half the society. Why can man decide the affairs of women, while women cannot decide and participate in deciding their own affairs?! When there is a need for mixing the genders in worship, education, or social activities, it is imperative to observe the Shariaa controls, such as absence of privacy, absence of excessive makeup, and observing the necessary ethics of lowering the eyes, and politeness in talking walking, and movement in order to prevent the situation from becoming chaotic.

[Asharq Al Awsat] What about singing and music?

[Al-Qaradawi] Previously, I wrote a book about singing and music in which I allowed singing and listening to music. This is an issue over which the faqihs, past and present, have disagreed, and over which many books have been written. The fact is that singing, whether or not accompanied by a musical instrument, is allowed, but under controls including that its contents do not contradict the creed, Shariaa, and Islamic ethics such as mysteries of Iliya Abu-Madi, which were sung in colloquial by Muhammad Abdal-Wahhab in his song “Without Asking Why;” the poetry of Abu-Nuwwas that says [poetry] “Do not blame me, because blame is a temptation, and cure me with what was the illness;” the song “The one with daring eyes;” or the song “Life is a cigarette and a drink.” Also the way of performing ought to steer away from wantonness. This also is linked to women, as it is allowed to listen to women, as there is nothing wrong in listening to a woman singing “Beloved mother?” The honorable Prophet listened to two women slaves. However, women’s voices ought to steer away from wantonness and arousing lust. The controls include that singing should not be coupled with something prohibited, and hence the quantity of listening ought to be observed, and there ought to be no excess in listening.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Your Eminence, your relations with the Salafis in the past has gone through major tensions. How are your relations with them now?

[Al-Qaradawi] Now, they are good relations. Here I am today in the country of the Salafi. It is clear that my relations with all are as good as we might wish with all age groups. Moreover, I do not adopt a hostile stance toward Salafi tendency; it is merely a stance of criticism in some aspects. I always call on everybody to adopt centrism. I also am in favor of Sufism. It is imperative to adopt what is best in Sufism, as the Sheikh of Islam Ibn-Taymiyah and Imam Ibn-al-Qayyim did; they were among the greatest Sufis, but they rejected from Sufism what is inappropriate. Personally, I call for “making Sufism into Salafi” and “making Salafi into Sufi.” The Sufi takes from the discipline of Salafi in not following the fabricated Hadith, polytheist rites, and tomb-side rites, and we want the Salafi to take from the Sufi tenderness, spirituality, and piousness. From this mixture we get the required Muslim.

[Asharq Al Awsat] With whom among the Saudi Sheikhs do you have special relations?

[Al-Qaradawi] Recently I had a meeting with my friend Sheikh Salih Bin-Humayd, preacher of the Kaaba Mosque and chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council; this is in addition to Dr Muhammad al-Aqla, president of the Islamic University in Medina; Sheikh Abdullah Bin-Mani, who is an old friend. I have great amicable links to the Saudi mufti, and I met him when he was first appointed as Saudi general mufti. The mufti said to me that he was a reader of my books, including “Imperativeness of the Islamic Solution” and “The Imported Solutions,” in addition to my books in political thinking. Also I had great amicable relations with Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin-Baz, God have mercy on his soul.

[Asharq Al Awsat] What about Sheikh Salman al-Awdah?

[Al-Qaradawi] (Laughs) He is one of my closest friends, and they consider him a follower of Al-Qaradawi’s course.

[Asharq Al Awsat] And Sheikh Hasan al-Saffar?

[Al-Qaradawi] There are good relations between him and me. I have met him recently in Qatar, and I sent him a letter of thanks when he denounced the stance adopted by the Kuwaiti man against Lady Aishah [Prophet’s wife], God be satisfied with her.

[Al-Salih] Have you seen Al-Jama’ah series, in which a characterization of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Group, Hasan al-Banna, was presented, and which was shown on the television screens last Ramadan?

[Al-Qaradawi] The fact is that I did not see it, because I was busy, but I saw a few sections of it, and I was told about it. It seems to me that it was not fair in presenting the life of Al-Banna, it exaggerated some issues at the expense of others, most prominently is that the series ended before his death, while it should have ended with the end of Hasan al-Banna and his assassination. The series ended without mentioning his assassination in order not to condemn his murderers.

[Asharq Al Awsat] How has age changed Sheikh Al-Qaradawi?

[Al-Qaradawi] There is no doubt that it added more maturity. The longer one lives, the more his experience increases, the more his reading increases, the deeper his insight gets, and the more his maturity increases. As they say, life is the best teacher, and life is a school for anyone who lives it with open eyes and mind.

[Asharq Al Awsat] How do you describe yourself?

[Al-Qaradawi] I am one of the soldiers of Islam. I am a soldier of God Almighty fighting with knowledge, work, and call for God. I wish to conclude my life by martyrdom for the sake of God. We have a well-known prayer: “O God, we beseech you to grant us happy life, martyr’s death, winning in judgment, and victory over the enemies.” Praise be to God, we are happy with our belief, and I wish that God concludes my life with martyrdom, and that my martyrdom be at the hand of a non-Muslim.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Do you suspect that one day your martyrdom will be at the hand of a Muslim?

[Al-Qaradawi] This might happen by a crazy person.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Have you ever been threatened?

[Al-Qaradawi] Only the Jews have threatened me publicly. I have not been threatened by a Muslim. However, it is not excluded that someone affiliated to the extremist groups would come and want to get rid of me.

[Asharq Al Awsat] Your Eminence, who do you miss?

[Al-Qaradawi] I miss most of my friends, who have gone one after the other, and now I am alone. However, praise be to God, I feel very happy because people love me everywhere.

[Asharq Al Awsat] What are your thoughts on the latest fatwa by Ansar al-Sunnah al-Muhammadiyyah Group [Supporters of Muhammad Sunnah Group] about ElBaradei nominating himself as a candidate in the presidential elections, the fatwa that says that it is allowed for the guardian to detain, imprison, or even execute ElBaradei, because of his destabilization of the country and of the state security?

[Al-Qaradawi] No one is allowed to say this, because the Constitution has secured this and granted it to others (Al-Qaradawi means being a candidate in the elections).

Regards
ZULKIFLI HASAN

Muscat, Oman