Good news and minarets

Good news first:
  • I got married to Şerife exactly one week ago : )
  • It is the blessed month of Ramadan, and my best wishes go to all who observe it.
  • the world has not ended yet.
Apart from that, today's news have been full of bad news from all over the world. Additionally, I had been reading a lot of stuff all over the web and naturally some of it had potential to pull me down (think Palestine, think victims of human trafficking). But today the Swiss news also featured Obama supporting religious freedom in the US. 

I got curious about the http://www.thecordobafoundation.com/ and there found their journal called Arches. This proved to be quite fascinating, as the points of view expressed in those articles are so different from what one usually sees in the media. The last edition is Vol 3 Edition 5.

Not all of the Arches articles are my taste. For instance, there is this Kurdish guy who represent the home-coming of PKK guerilla in Turkey (which derailed the peace process very efficiently) as the "home-coming of members of a peace group" and describes how brainwashed the Turkish people are to misunderstand this event. Well, it seems in 2010 "peace groups" sport fashionable war uniforms, even when they lay down their arms.

The one article I like most is " Understanding 'Land of War' and 'Land of Islam' " by Dr Jasser Auda, pp.41.
'Land of War' is a concept that, unfortunately, has currency among some Muslims. For them, 'Land of War' is the essential clash-of-civilizations hypothesis.  This glossary gives the definition: A land ruled by infidels that might, through war, become the "Abode of Islam."

In essence, there really are people who believe that in the "Land of Peace" they are free to cheat or lie. Maybe they think, Muslims will "conquer" this land one day, and then, only then, will it become necessary to act. It seems pretty clear that terrorists would subscribe to this idea.

It sounds silly to think of a country like Switzerland as a "Land of War". You would think that Turkey, which is mostly Muslim, would not qualify. Yet, I once overheard a discussion where somebody qualified the whole country of Turkey as un-Islamic, since "the women would not wear the veil there". Uh-huh. What can one say to that? Something is pretty wrong with people who think in terms of "Land of War".

This has been refuted many times, and practicing Muslims who take their religion seriously enough to do some research should know about the falsity. Dr Auda's article is special in that it is at the same time approachable by Muslims as well as non-Muslims, and reads like a sound scholarly discourse on the topic. 

First, the article points out the difference between Shari'a and Fiqh: whereas the former is an ideal (like "Justice"), the latter is a necessarily incomplete, changing attempt to achieve justice by norms and rules (like "Law"). Then he places the "Land of War" concept in the realm of Fiqh. In other words, yes, there was a time and a place where learned scholars argued that outside the secure realm of the Islamic empire, things gets rough. Fiqh is and must always be adapted to social circumstances of a particular time and place. (My remark: A great book that explains why is Tariq Ramadan "Radical Reform")

Back to the article. Auda then thinks on how the "Land of Peace" should look like. Should it be predominantly Muslim? Should it have a Muslim ruler? Should its legal system be Shari'a compliant? Is it enough for Muslims to practice their religion.

He arrives at the conclusion that the proper way of viewing things is to see "Land of Islam" as synonymous with "Land of Justice". This has its basis in the realization that the purpose of "Islamic Law" is to ensure justice and well being. This includes Muslims rights to perform "public acts of worship". Among other things, this means construction of mosques, including minarets.

There, finally, is a great explanation of why many "Western" countries are better developed and why Muslims find it easier to practice their religion there. The legal systems of many so-called "Islamic countries" are not up to the task of actually achieving justice.

I am willing to draw the conclusion that it absolutely does not matter whether the laws were derived from the Noble Qur'an or not: what matters is if they are achieving justice (or Shari'a). Muslims can well approximate the "divine way of living" in a secular democracy. Also in democracies, humans make errors when deriving and judging law. They introduce bugs. It seems the legal systems of "Islamic countries" are still buggy.

Democracy is not a guarantee for justice. In Switzerland, a not-so-nice bug got introduced. At the time of this writing, building minarets is still forbidden in Switzerland. People voted on this on 2009-11-29, after a big smear campaign by the SVP. On the other hand, the constitution still claims that everybody is free to practice their religion, and that everybody is equal in front of the law. Am I the only one who sees a contradiction here?

Barack Obama supported building the community center (including their mosque) near Ground Zero, on the basis that Muslims have the right to practice their religion.

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