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Okay, so good evening everyone and as salaam alaikum Thank you all so much for joining us. My name is Matthias Ambani I am the director at critical connections, an organization in western Massachusetts that builds community and awareness around issues related to American Muslims. Our event today on the question of blasphemy is the first in our critical issues in context series, which will take a deep dive into controversial and contentious topics impacting Muslim communities.
Other topics in our series will include the rights of religious minorities, sectarianism, the ethics surrounding war and armed conflict in Islam.
And I hope that you will be able to join us for that. So it should be noted that, given the realities of societal and structural Islamophobia in this country, it is often very difficult to have these conversations for American Muslims.
And but we also unfortunately know that often the narrative surrounding these topics are dominated and distorted by both islamophobes and extremists. And so for this series, we really wanted to create the space where we can engage in these conversations, and empower American Muslims and our allies with nuanced understanding around these topics.
So coming back to our event today, we all know that there has been an uptick in incidents around the publication of offensive and insulting materials against the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam in various Western countries. There has also been an increase in blasphemy charges and prosecutions in various Muslim majority countries, and correspondingly accompanied by a rise in vigilante violence, surrounding allegations of blasphemy.
And so with our event today, we really hope to grapple with this issue, from varying perspectives, and examine the theological, social, political and historical dimensions of this very fraught subject. And to help us do that today, we are very fortunate to be joined by a group of very distinguished panelists. So first, we have Dr. Yasser bazi, who is currently the Dean of the Islamic seminary of America, as well as a member of the fifth Council of North America. He has a master's degree in Islamic theology from the Islamic University of Medina, and a doctorate in religious studies from Yale University. He also has a massive social media following that numbers in the
Next we have Dr. Dr. Dr. Hahn, who is a Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. He was the founding director of the Islamic Studies program there. He's also the author of numerous books, and his latest book, Islam and good governance, which I highly recommend, as received the 2019 excellence in scholarship award from afma. Last but not least, we have Dr. Sarah open towie, who is an associate professor of modern Islam and Islamic law at Fordham University in New York City. Her work focuses on contemporary Islam and Islamic law, especially in the context of post coloniality and authoritarianism. She has a master's in Middle
Eastern Studies, as well as a doctorate in the study of religion, both from Harvard University, it is my delight to welcome you all to the event today. Thank you so much for being here.
So before I turn it over to our speakers, I will just let you know what the format of our discussion today is going to be. So the each of the speakers is going to speak for about 15 minutes. And after that, we're going to give them some time to also respond to one another because they come to this topic from varying perspectives. And after that, we're going to open it up to q&a. And for the q&a, I will request our audience to then please submit your questions in the chat box right here. If you'd like to submit a question anonymously, please feel free to just privately text me on through the chat and then we will read out your questions and we'll try
get to as many as possible. So now without further ado, I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Yasser Pharisee, who will briefly touch on the classical ruling on blasphemy, and will then examine whether there is room for interpretation in its application in modern times that he has said, Guys, please go ahead.
Well, good evening. And Solomon, thank you very much for inviting me to this extremely sensitive topic. I'm grateful to be part of such an interesting discussion. Since time is limited, I'm going to I'm going to dive in immediately. And my brief preliminary remarks will consist of five key points. And obviously, I'm coming to this conversation, not just as an outsider, but not just even as a believer, but also as somebody who is trained in the Islamic sciences, who is considered to be a cleric. And and somebody who obviously actually gives fatwas in my in my day job, that is a part of what I do. So I'm coming to this with a very clear, quote, unquote, bias and that biases, that I
am coming to this conversation, not only believing that there is something called shitty, but that we are actively engaged in shaping and in propagating that understanding of the religion. So I have five basic points. And I'm going to jump straight in. Firstly, I believe that it is essential for any person who talks about this subject to acknowledge, on the one hand, the historical reality of how the Islamic tradition understood this concept of blasphemy, and to not distort that understanding, and on the other hand, to be brave enough to allow pre modern Muslims the moral right to have carved out their own interpretations and their own understandings of the shittier. In other
words, it is what it is, or to be more precise, it was what it was. So as an undeniable fact, this is just a factual statement. Across all schools of mainstream law, Sunni and Shia from ama didn't humble to the say these and all schools in between specific laws were put into place and are found in the textbooks that do curtail some types of speech. It shouldn't come as any surprise that in a pre modern world, in which no society allowed unconditional free speech, the Muslim world as well to had its views and its red lines and its rulings on blasphemy. Yes, it is true that the schools differed on the details and the levels of the punishment and the chance to repent and other areas.
But it is historically accurate to claim that it would be impossible for any sane adult to stand outside the Grand Mosque of any city in any Muslim land and yell obscenities against God or against the prophet or against the faith without state repercussions, if not other repercussions before that point in time. So, in this first point, I'm not just asking that we be historically accurate and quoting the past. I'm going further. And I'm saying that we need to respect the rights of earlier jurists and earlier political players to draw their interpretations of the Divine Law and not double guess their sincerity or even their validity. It behooves us to not to not back project our own
judgments and our own values onto our predecessors, and to grant them the same authority that we grant ourselves. Personally speaking, I am not sympathetic to grandiose claims of some modern reformers to have miraculously discovered the true intent, and the exclusively correct interpretation of the sacred law after 14 centuries of misinformation and misinterpretation. Such radical theological revisionism stems from the presumption that earlier scholars were influenced by their cultures and biases, but ignores the very real humanity and our own cultural biases of ourselves. And to be brutally honest, one must really wonder at the miracle of such revisionism,
when such reformers typically writing from within the enclaves of Western academia discover, rather for tuition Asli that the correct interpretations of the ancient Arabic texts just so happened to coincide with notions espoused by Voltaire and Locke and john Stuart Mill's. So we need to acknowledge the reality of the past and accept it for what it was. That is the first point. The second point is that acknowledging the past does not mean that we are wedded to the tradition, I am not saying that we need to copy and paste the past into the present. Accepting the past and acknowledging the moral right of our predecessors to interpret the shitty doesn't translate into
consecrating their interpretation. Rather, here is where we need to work from within the hermeneutics of our own faith system and to see whether a there is a genuine cause for rethinking through an issue and be To what extent the epistemology of our law allows for change. We need to be transparent in both our motives
And our methodology, and be willing to acknowledge that some people will disagree with our motives, and others will disagree with our methodology. Now, from my side as a religious cleric, and my capacity as a religious cleric, I have publicly said many times that there is both just cause, and there is hermeneutical leeway to rethink through the application of some of these laws in Muslim majority lands. The fact that the world we find ourselves in is so radically different from pre modern societies, and in particular concepts of the nation state and the intermixing of various faith communities and the interconnectedness of the globe. I think that these are sufficient causes
for us to rethink through some of these laws. And I think it is very healthy for Muslim majority countries, the clerics of those countries to have a very frank dialogue amongst themselves about what type of reform might be possible. Those believers who feel that the shady AI will somehow be infringed, they need to be reminded that many aspects of our classical tradition have been successfully renegotiated by the entirety of the scholarly class. And as one simple example, as far as I'm aware, nowhere in the world is jizya, taken from non Muslims in any nation state, and so it is possible for reform to take place. But this leads me to my third point, which is that we must
allow those conversations to take place from within each society, those outside of a society must be cognizant of the sensitivities and the variables of other peoples, and especially those of us like myself, who can claim a particular heritage, meaning my parents were Indian Pakistani, even as we occupy and are active in another meeting, in my case, the western American complex. other cultures have had radically different trajectories than ours in the Western Hemisphere. And topics such as family, such as community, such as faith, such as what constitutes sacred and divine are perceived very, very differently from people living in different parts of the world. So let's be honest, here,
it's been more than a century, I think, 150 years, since we have established a branch of knowledge called cultural anthropology. And so I think by now, I mean, it would be a crime for any speaker, to talk about other cultures, and then be guilty of a Western ethnocentric bias, we have to understand cultures are different. And frankly, the question arises, and that's a philosophical question, whether it is even possible to apply the same set of laws, for example, about blasphemy, or really about any matter across the entirety of the globe. In fact, the very fact that even within the so called liberal West, there is a massive spectrum of interpretation and leeway, and how this area is
navigated in what is considered sacred and what is considered profane in what is socially allowed and socially not allowed, versus what is politically prescribed. The very fact that even within Western lands, there is so much of a spectrum should be enough of an indication for us to understand the diversity of human cultures and thought. So the third point that I have is the dangers of super imposing our own conceptions, and of prioritizing our own models, and being careful of having a certain bias and a privilege that we give unto ourselves. And this leads me it's a perfect segue to my fourth point, and that is that it's not just a matter of varying cultures, it's not just a matter
of Western culture versus Eastern culture, we are not neutral actors speaking in a vacuum. My fourth point is to remind us that there is a very real political and military dynamics between Western lands and Muslim majority lands. And we cannot and should not ignore the post colonial angle in all of this. I mean, I'm speaking to an educated audience here, we're all aware of fucose contributions to the relationship of knowledge and power. Subbu Mahmoud has been amazing and trying to dissect some of the intersectionality between our own values and religion and political theory. And she argues that America in particular, and most of the Western world in general, is directly involved,
and I quote her in the attempt to shape out religious subjects who are compatible with the rationality and exercise of liberal political rule. And she mentions that American policymakers in particular American policymakers have found in secular liberal Muslim reformers, strong allies and quote, and also let us not forget almost two decades ago, right after 911, an infamous and oft quoted Rand report suggested as a matter of national policy as a matter of national security, that reform minded Muslims should be supported against those that don't necessarily agree with those types of values. And of course, what what has happened? What's
Such reports is that reform and Reformists are generally viewed as being extensions of American foreign policy, the infamous kiss of death and ology as some policymakers have called it. So the discourses that are happening on one side of the Atlantic regarding laws and religion and blasphemy, and customs of the other side cannot ignore the very real socio political dynamic dynamism and the relationship between East and West. And I, for one refuse to allow myself wittingly or unwittingly, to become a tool of an imperialist foreign policy. So this four point is that we have to be extra cognizant of such talk and of such reform in the backdrop of a hegemonic discourse that has a very
different aim and a very different goal than many of us as believing Muslims might have, and to keep in mind the clear disparity of power between East and West. And the final point that I have is just a reminder, and it's a bit of a sad ending, I understand. But it needs to be said, a bit of a reminder that we are speaking to ourselves in a very safe echo chamber in a very selective echo chamber, where even if we disagree, we're on all relatively similar wavelengths. But the fact of the matter is that the societies that many of us are talking about are on very, very different wavelengths. Let us not forget the assassination of the governor of Punjab said montae, saved by one
of his own inner circle, military guards by one of his own guards of person that knew him for many, many years. Let us not forget that he was assassinated simply because he wanted to possibly change blasphemy laws. And the fact that Samantha Sears funeral had to be held in secret in a small private gathering, while the funeral prayer of his assassin generated over 100,000 people, the streets were shut down mosques were packed to capacity and launched the assassin to martyrdom status. These are sobering facts. And it's something that we should be very cognizant of that our conversations really are at some level, and I'm sorry, to be a little bit blunt here, they really are elitist in our own
circles. They're not translating to the streets of the people that were pretending or assuming that we're going to impact. And I say this, as a believing Muslim, it is sad to see the level of emotionalism that is involved in this topic, and it is a sober reminder of the impact or lack thereof that our own internal conversations can have, in the end of the day reform has to occur from within organically. And that's generally very slow. And that's generally going to take place at a place and by actors that we might not necessarily see eye to eye with. So there has to be a level of pragmatism that moves beyond an internal echo chamber of dismissing or of being contemptuous of
certain aspects. If you want actual change is going to take place in a manner and a place and a pace, excuse me, and from actors that are generally not going to be in our types of zoom conversations. But still, there is a beginning. And there's some type of policies that at least we can understand. And with that, I conclude God help us all in all of this difficult discussion. And thank you for allowing me to participate to the floor is all yours. No. Thank you so much that Pharisee Thank you, um, you thank you for your very interesting, very provocative remarks. And I hope there will be many follow up questions to that you talked about reform from within the
tradition, and it would be great at a later point to hear about where that is happening in Muslim majority countries, if at all. So, but we will move on to our next speaker, Dr. Han, who is going to talk about the political dimension of the question of blasphemy and how it was politicized during some recent blasphemy cases in Pakistan.
salaam aleikum Good evening to all of you. And I want to especially thank
Dr. yasir Qadhi who's not just playing in the traditional world, but he's also an Ivy League graduate. He has a PhD from Yale for being so honest.
his situation is quite precarious. He's attacked on the right, as well as the left. So Muslims who seek reform are critical of his work and Muslims who seeks that, of course, I appreciate his honesty. Incredibly, I also want to type Hello fi as a board member of critical connections. I really admire the work she's doing and touching upon such difficult topics. And thank you for Also joining us.
Before I go, I just want to say two things.
The kind of response I appreciate the
Harvey's attempt to demand respect for the model right of pre modern scholars into practice Sharia.
I hope the same is extended to modern scholars, that when we interpret the Sharia, and we, our morality and our faith, and our intentions are not questioned, just as we take for granted that every medieval scholar was engraved Muslim.
The second thing that I do want to say is that we in the US, too, are facing a similar situation, there were hundreds of 1000s of people who were trying to overturn our government on January 6. And if we abandon our value from fear of people on the streets, then we will constantly be dictated our morality or law will be dictated by people on the street, and not by scholars and their understanding of the values and taxes that we have.
I am going to work a little backwards, in the sense that I wrote this book called Islam and good governance, not pitching this book. But in the book, I did a case study on blasphemy in Pakistan and looked at several cases, I spent six months listening to over 200 YouTube videos from various olema who were demanding that ossia BB should be killed for committing blasphemy, etc.
And I'm going to give you the conclusion of my talk first, and then I will try to
elaborate further from my research of the texts
and the arguments.
There is no doubt in my mind that in the primary sources of Islam, the Quran and the Hadith, there is no way you can conclude that somebody who commits blasphemy should be killed.
I also want to tell you that the word blasphemy is not easily translatable into
oldu or Arabic or Islamic languages, the concept is clearly a Christian notion.
So when it is translated into Muslim societies often gets overlapped with apostasy. Now, so we have to be very careful to separate the two. In Arabic they use words such as shotty, moral fool, or suberb. Assume it will do the use Word or talking reseller to talk about blasphemy all of it really comes down to insulting the Prophet peace be upon him. I personally as a believing Muslim was deeply offended when the Quran was burned in Florida. And when the US government was using the Koran to torture people in Guantanamo, I was upset. I was very angry, I wrote several articles about it in mainstream media invited Muslims to declare that particular year of the year of the Quran. And so
yes, there is blasphemy that is done strategically, sometimes geopolitically. And Muslims have to respond to that.
As far as I listened to all these Pakistani is in the mind the debate, I reached the conclusion that this is not about Islam at all, nothing theological about its political. It is about the identity of Pakistan.
So the religious establishment, which is traditional Muslims, who are Sufi, barelvi, etc, and Islam is like Jamaat e Islami. And the new Islamic movements, all of them are struggling against the nationalists and the liberals to redefine Pakistani identity. And there are three or four issues where they literally clash. And one of that issue is the issue of bluffing when they also clash on the issue of declaring me as apostates. And, and, and also having an Islamic ideology or not. And so it was very clear that the traditional establishment or pushing the liberals and westernizing scholars who are pushing the human rights agenda back by using the UN, because they realize that it
is such an emotional
thing for Muslims, I have grown up in a country where I physically got into fights or insults to profits with other people, and with Christians is very difficult because when they insult Prophet Muhammad, I cannot infer Prophet he fell back.
So the only thing I can do is throw punch. So I can't insult Moses, I can't if God is the same God and your Jesus is my prophet. So, I have experienced this person and I can tell you, it can be very emotional when when the Prophet is so so given that emotional context in Pakistan and other places, some of the debates with regards to the advent of modernity in the Muslim world, what does it mean to be a nation state? What kind of state will we have? What would be the role of religion that will play this issue becomes the fight where all of those things are contested?
So I really don't care whether it will be goes away to Canada or she is punished or killed. That's not the point. The point to them is that the state should not tell us that we cannot implement the Sharia in our country as period of as simple as that.
I'm sorry to interrupt, but I was just wondering for those of us who do not know the US habibie case, or who she is, if you could just human being was a Christian laborer who was accused of insulting the Prophet, and then she was sentenced to death, and they were part of consultations and challenges. And then ultimately, she was
on some technicality the Pakistani courts let her go on procedural matters. And then she migrated to Canada. And it was in her case that the governor of Punjab salmaan, taffy tried to intervene and protect her and that's why
the gentleman Mumtaz assassinated him or killed him. So the last argument when I was reading, I found it very fascinating.
They all had the same argument, they would all say that there is agema or there is consensus amongst Islamic scholars on this issue.
Whenever I hear people go,
you know, like, for example, with the Yasser Saudi Mashallah is a half an hour he has the Quran completely memorized. So even if he was sleeping, and I asked him, yeah, he asked,
Where does God say in the Quran that we should all fasting Ramadan, I guarantee you even without awakening, he will be able to recite those words from the Quran about the ruling on fasting. So most scholars will simply go to the Quran if it is clear, and they will just recite the word and the debate is over.
In the absence of the Quran on the issue, then scholars tend to invoke traditions where there are clear commandments from the prophet to do certain things and but when they go to agema, I immediately interpret that as Okay, so the Quran is not very clear on this and neither is the Hadees tradition. So they are going to some medieval consensus, it must have be if these are imaginary consensus must have happened at some point of time. It is clearly there is no consensus already today, there are many Muslim scholars who are contesting it even traditional traditional from establishment like Java darmody in Pakistan and other places. And when you actually go and look at
the sources that these scholars are fighting about consensus there is even those sources like even me as a book on blasphemy or
idea. Yes, book, color shifa. They all point out that yes, a majority of scholars agree but the biggest Islamic legal School, which is 100, the school does not actually subscribe to this. And so there was never a consensus on this issue. And majority of schools have interpreted it that way. So, and it was very interesting, many of the people who were advocating killing icbb come from the barelvi Sufi side of Muslims, and so they will begin their discussions by picking up a britannias book. And they will say, even though his aqeedah is problematic, or his faith, his or his beliefs are something that I don't endorse this particular argument of his I endorse. And so where do they
get this idea is very fascinating, and I will share with you two traditions that, that these scholars have, and contemporary scholars like speaker after speaker was narrating them in YouTube videos and in their fatwas consistently, and you can see how the discourse goes.
This is the worst in the Quran. Can you can you all see this?
Malika? This is a verse in the Quran is the 57th words in the third chapter, we say indeed those who abused Allah and His Messenger, Allah has cursed them in this world and hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. This is the only DIRECT address about where you could talk about abuse or insult, etc. and you will find that God essentially have taken the matter in his whole own hand. He has promised to punish them in this world and in the hereafter. I interpreted this to say that look, does this matter to God? He is going to take care of it. He has promised us that anybody who insults Him and His Messenger, he will take care of it.
And in the practice of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. There are numerous numerous instances where he was insulted on his face where he was abused, people can use stones at him, people walked into his mosque, and peed on the member of the mosque,
the podium of the mouth from where he would give his sermons. They have been, they have thrown garbage upon him and all of these instances the Prophet has never ordered somebody to be killed, or advocated etc. But in the modern age
Muslim, all them are so strict about this is that they, they not only say that we should kill anybody who installs a prophet, they even make the case that if he apologizes and seeks for forgiveness even then he or she should not be forgiven.
One of the narratives of Prophet Muhammad's life is that when he led the conquest or re acquisition of Mecca, he granted complete amnesty to people even a woman like him, who had abused him abused his uncle assassinated his uncle, and said lots of horrible things he forgave her to when she wrote a very beautiful poem about his great forgiveness. But there is this
narration from this is from
kuttabul jihad in
in sooner nabooda Whoo, that is number 974. You can see the reference. Now, according to this, apparently, Prophet Muhammad had given a list of 10 people who had to be killed on site in Mecca, and they were people who had insulted him written poetry against him misinterpreted the Quran, etc. One of them was known to this man was Professor luxilon son in law and also became the third Caliph. And so this man went on to provide him refuge protected and did not kill him on site, which is very interesting, which some would say this is the case, then he was disobeying and then brought into the prophet and sought forgiveness and the Prophet ultimately, when this man appealed three times the
Prophet then forgive him. And after they had gone away, the prophet turned to the other companions, and said, when I was quite, why didn't he kill the man. And they said, you know, all prophets should have signal with your eyes. And he said, it is not proper for a prophet to have a treacherous eye. So this story is narrated with such performative excellence and eloquence by the other man in Pakistan, to say, that the Prophet would not forgive those who insulted him, and so they should be killed.
Even though actually, in this tradition, the Prophet did forgive him, which is quite interesting. And then it's another tradition. And this is about a blind man who, who had a relationship with a woman, she was his slave and mother of two of his sons. And he used to have relationship with her, and she would curse the Prophet all the time. And he had recommended her, and she did not listen to him. And then one day, she went too far, and he killed her. And then when he told the Prophet that he had killed this woman, for insulting him, the prophet said that you don't have to pay the blood money. And so these are some of the sources. And these are like the sources that are used by
medieval scholars. And now contemporary scholars to issue fatwa, if you actually look at it, the man is committing murder, there is no investigation about a murder or anything. And, and even though the even then in none of these traditions have the Prophet said, because he insulted me, she insulted me and you kill her, you're forgiven. If you had killed her for some other reason, then we will prosecute you for murder, etc. So the point I'm trying to make is that this is not a theological thing.
People who are dependent on the religious establishment might be reluctant to challenge this, but it is very clear to me that it three day convention on this issue will clarify the matter that neither the Quran nor the Hadees literature are advocating, killing anybody from laughing, that doesn't mean that you can go on and abuse the Prophet, etc. There are many ways to deal with it.
Like we deal with criticism of Israel in this country, we claim on one hand, that this is a free country, you can say whatever you like, and the other day, you should criticize your brand, you lose your job, you're fired from your job, you're finished career wise. Maybe that's the role that Muslims should adopt in the West, we maintain claim that there is no legal punishment, but you can from a societal perspective, you can avoid people who commit blasphemy. So what is ultimate? The reality? I think,
at first I used to, I know you must have seen all these images of people burning the American flag, and is often used to portray
extremism in the Muslim world. And I realized while I was studying this, that it is a sign of helplessness. See when, when the US foreign policy commits crimes in the Muslim world, like invading a country on false pretension, destroying it, killing 250,000 people completely devastating Iraq, and there are no war crimes, no punishments, no accountability, George Bush's drawing paintings and selling. There's absolutely no I mean, you would think that the West has no law and order this is a barbaric society, you can destroy a country kill hundreds of 1000s of people and get away with it, torture them etc.
So when I get upset
I will write an article in a newspaper. If it doesn't get published in the West, it will get published in the East my anger everything subsides. But what about this common man in the streets of Alabama and in the streets of Karachi who is upset by this Imperial colonial policy? How does he get on Anderson Cooper's show and tell him, I dislike your foreign policy, you claim to be respecting human rights? Look, you're doing nothing for the Eagles. You've done nothing for the Palestinians. What are you doing nothing. This is obvious. How does he get on anderson cooper to say that it doesn't. He burns a US flag. And he is on Anderson Cooper. He was a US flag and he is on every front
page of every newspaper. Yes, he is not getting his point across because editors are not being honest in reporting why he's burning the flag. But nevertheless, he that is getting his say. So I think is this issue of blasphemy with the prophets, cartoons in Europe, etc. This is neither an issue of theology. It is an issue of the West, struggling to grapple with the growing population of Muslims, the growing assertiveness Muslims, and they're trying to prove that Muslims have no place in the modern world because they don't subscribe to moral values. Look at France, it has become a caricature of itself, in trying to prove that Muslims are unfit
to live in the French democracy secular democracy because they haven't abandoned the religious values. France have already abandoned the phone values that is becoming a bigoted, oppressive state. So the point that, ultimately I would like to remind is that, yes, there are theological debates in the Muslim world, we need to address them. I haven't forgotten the execution of monsoonal halacha, even to this day. And I've said, I have promised myself to write a scathing article about it, which I will. Now there have been similar cases in the Muslim world. And as someone who is believing in practicing Muslims engaged with Islamic tradition, I do want to deal with the excesses. But we have
to understand that under the broader geopolitical context, and the struggle of Muslims countries, to cope with modernity,
these issues are just just taking off.
It's not just the issue of blasphemy is the same issue with gender, the LGBTQ issue,
etc. So for example, I used to be so baffled when we went into Afghanistan, and people would talk to me about, Oh, my God, the Taliban do not respect the rights of women. And I would say, well, Saudis don't respect the rights of women or men, but we seem to be quite friendly with them for the last 80 years, we have no problem with that. Why are we suddenly concerned about how can we fix the rights of women in the Muslim world without fixing the rights of all people Muslim, and as well as a woman in most of these countries, nobody has proper rights, at least from the perspective of
democracy, etc. So I think that when we get these opportunities, we should look at it from a broader context, but also recognize that
just as we give the right to medieval scholars to interpret Islam, in their context, in their politics, even if they mean, the interpretation of blasphemy was when Islam was being invaded by Crusaders and Christians, were using Islam. Similarly, we whether we are in a Muslim majority country or as a minority, we also have the equal right to understand and interpret
the 30 seconds of less, I think the Quran was original spam. You know, God wrote the Quran and hit everyone send. So it has come directly to all of us. And as believing Muslims, I think it is our job to understand the Quran, and live according to it in our time and in our place, and not be monitored. Consciousness should not become hostile to the consciousness and ideas and intellects of people who left before us in different places and in different types.
Thank you so much, Dr. Han. I'm sure there will be some response, at least from some of our other panelists, after the initial preliminary remarks. So now we're going to move to Dr. Sarah Elton towie, who is going to talk about the rise investment in cases in recent decades, and will speculate on why that is the case. So Dr. Bobby, please go ahead.
Thank you very much Malika. Thank you, everyone. It's an honor to be here. I'm afraid I'm going to come at this from a bit of a different angle than our previous speakers. And so I suppose that's all in the interest of good conversation. You know, I just want to start by positioning myself because I fear that some of my comments are going to sound a bit hard hitting.
I, first of all, a Muslim come from a Muslim family. I'm a scholar of Islam. I've been
written a book on actually Sharia re implementation in northern Nigeria. And I spent a number of years working within the American Muslim community after 911 in a period of time I call triage when everything was just very chaotic. So I've really spent most of my life I'm very concerned about,
about Muslim issues. And what I appreciate about this particular forum, is that even though I am speaking on a panel with scholars, I deeply respect, I'm happy to be able to not be in a particular in a explicitly scholarly form so that we can speak a little more frankly, and with an audience of people who who care about Frank speech about these issues. So in that spirit, I want to just step back and get a little bit more clear about exactly what it is we're talking about. What do these blasphemy cases look like? And what are the effects and implications of them in the world so I'm going to give some detail about two cases. The first one is the the case of Samuel Patty of France,
okay, which happened in UK last October, October of 2020. He was beheaded by an 18 year old Chechen born man, following accusations that Patti had shown cartoons of Muhammad in class. It was alleged that Samuel petty, who is married or was married with a five year old son, told students that if they would be offended by showing these cartoons that they should leave the classroom. Okay, a 13 year old girl then went home and alleged to her father that she had refused to leave the class. And as a result, she was suspended. Her father then started a social media campaign against the teacher, which called for, quote mobilization against the teacher and filed a complaint with the school.
Just two days ago, in fact, it was reported that that girl actually lied to her father and to her parents. She was not even in class that day. And in fact, she had been suspended the day before for being absent too much from school. Her parents repeat reportedly knew the reason that she was suspended. So it seems that they too were not telling the truth when they said they believe their daughter's story. So why first question, why was there a great enthusiasm to start a quote mobilization against this teacher? Secondly, let's take a look at the killer. Abdullah Abu janovich and Zorro have an 18 year old Russian immigrant of Chechen ethnic descent born in Moscow. unser off
came to France with refugee status at the age of six. He lived more than 100 kilometers away from the school, or Samuel Patti taught and had no apparent connection to it whatsoever. At the time of the attack, his half sister had joined ISIS in Syria. He himself is reported to have been in communication with two unidentified jihadis jihadists in Syria, including a Russian speaking one.
awnser often released an audio tape claiming responsibility for the attack on Patty, saying that he had quote, avenge the Prophet,
and said his ISIS compatriots brothers pray that Allah accepts me as a martyr. It seems that awnser off took this action to prove his manhood or his dedication to ISIS, much like a gang member has to undertake an act of violence to join a gang. Now I'm being realistic about what we're actually talking about here because it's not just this abstract issue of speech and and different values and avenging the Prophet The devil is in the details as they say. And the fact of the matter is, we are seeing a huge rise in these types in this type of violence. And there are specific reasons for that. So here is that particular reason Okay, now, going back to the the killer here, on seraphs parents
could not understand why their son did this. His father worked at night he was a laborer who worked at night in France, and he lamented that he quote, lost control of his teenager.
The son's body was then repatriated to Chechnya, where his funeral was attended by almost 200 people, some of whom yelled Allahu Akbar for some reason. Now, I as a Muslim, find this outrageous I find this behavior outrageous and completely unacceptable, and I have a few thoughts about it. President McCrone of France replied, obviously by condemning the attack.
Then the governments of Kuwait and Turkey under air Dhawan, among others, criticized France, for allowing the cartoons to be shown in class. The Chechen President went so far as to say that France was creating terrorists by showing these cartoons. And then these governments spearheaded boycotts of French products, until Macron. stepped back from his remarks.
Please note here, two questions. First, why did the father launch this campaign based on a spurious at best story from his daughter? Who's 13? What did the father have to gain in his own community by taking on this cause? Second, why did a totally unrelated Chechen in men murder this teacher?
Who's really a child? He's 18? Okay. In the first case, let us accept the going theory that the Father launched this campaign as the result of sociological factors in France, which render Muslims a disrespected underclass. Let us then raise the question would targeting a teacher? I am sure he did not mean to get him killed, though, would that not it should have occurred to him that that would be a risk with this increased respect for Muslims in France? If that's the problem? Are we able to take any responsibility for ethical behavior in this case? Or is any reaction to perceive disrespect, acceptable? I don't think it is. And as a Muslim, I want us to have higher ethical
standards than this. Okay.
Now, let me turn to another blasphemy case, one that has a profound effect on me. And that continues to resonate. In 1992. There's an Egyptian intellectual named photogra folder.
He was a prominent professor, writer, columnist and human rights activists. He was assassinated when leaving his office by two murderers from gamma to the Islamia an Islamist group in Egypt. folder had been actually has been back in the news recently, because in the 1980s, he accurately predicted the rise of ISIS, based on what he saw going on in Egypt. Now, I'm not talking about the East versus the West, I'm talking about Egypt versus Egypt. Okay. And these are Egyptians killing other Egyptians, right. Okay. So, his son and other bystanders were seriously injured in the assassination of the father.
No photo was accused of Apostasy by the gamma to the Islamia.
Though in his own writings and speeches, he said that what he was doing was defending Islam from the growing Islamist movement arising in Egypt, which was rising more and more at the time. It was, in his point of view, an assault on what he took to be Egyptian culture and the practice of Islam in that country for hundreds of years prior.
In fact, if you read full day's work, you'll see that he claims that groups like gamma Islamia, who regularly take credit for acts of terrorism should not even be permitted to have the word Islam in their title. That's how much he defended the ethical content and reputation of Islam. And it's actually kind of an interesting point. Why should groups like gamma tel Islam a get to call themselves the group of Muslims, you're not the only group of Muslims, you undertake terrorist attacks? That's what you mainly do. Why do you get to call yourself the group of Muslims, we all need to respect this, but people who have more modern or secular or whatever you want to call it
views, they don't get to call themselves Muslims. So there's a nomenclature problem here too. Okay.
In June of last year, Al Jazeera interviewed obal ima Rabu, who was one of the assassins. So he somehow served his sentence and got out of jail,
and is now giving interviews to aljazeera.
And he said without a shred of apparent remorse, that he killed further because it is in accordance with the Sharia, and he is sure he will be rewarded. Now I want to pay attention to what he said his motivation was to kill him folder and Egyptian Muslim intellectual. Okay, so this is the quote of the assassin he says to explain.
This was a mistake on the part of the Mubarak regime. They oppressed us and closed in on us completely. They closed our pulpits and our means of spreading our message. They closed and blocked all of our paths, and in the end, we only had one option to smash
Everything. What urged me to kill frog Florida? What was the motivation to kill him? I'll tell you. While the regime was fighting the Islamist groups, closing down their puppets and killing its preachers, it still allowed frog Fodor to publish his books. I know that you're supposed to fight ideas with ideas. But if you shut me down while giving him the freedom to mock Islam, and to violate Sharia law, you are forcing me to take a drastic measure. So no, no taking any responsibility. It's It's mobarak. It's rock foda. Okay.
You're forcing me to take
drastic measures. As I said he had many beliefs. And he announced the public he announced them publicly and spread them. Many other secularists in Egypt held the same ideas, by the way, for this idea that that was offensive, was that he did not think that Shetty should be the law of the land in Egypt. Right? Which it's never been fully, of course, some elements of Penal Law are shut up. But because Egypt is a multi religious, multi sectarian country, it's a republic. So Sharia is not the law of the land. It's not a theocracy. And that's a decision made by Egyptians Muslim Egypt's mainly, okay. Many other secularists in Egypt have the same ideas, but nobody else would announce
them publicly. If you think like that, but keep it to yourself, then I have no quarrel with you. But if you spread this publicly, and if the state helps you to do so this is a provocation. He said loud and clear that as long as his heartbeats he will not allow for Sharia to be implemented in Egypt. He promised to fight it until his last breath. Those were followed folders words, I disobeyed the ruler by killing folder, which is actually a sin in somebody's theology that you know, so he's acknowledging that I disobeyed the ruler by killing Fota. But I have no problem with this because he was an unjust ruler. Since Mubarak did not rule. According to Shetty, Allah, I do not consider him
to be a Muslim. The ruler has the choice to implement Sharia or not, it was not my personal decision to kill frog folder. We are governed by Islam and what Allah and His messenger said, if the decision had come from the organization's leadership, then maybe I would hesitated a bit. But when the fatwa is issued, saying that the man is a heretic, and an apostate, and this fatwa came from Al Azhar University, the feeling was that whoever killed folder would be credited by alarm the Day of Judgment.
When I think about Samuel paddies, assassin, and when I think about the response of leaders like air Dhawan, who then blamed France. And when I read the justification of fodors assassin, a few things come to mind. First, I have to be blunt, I there is an extreme arrogance. That's what I see. Now France with its own traditions of free speech, unless you say we may disagree with what we may not like it, but that's the that's, that's their country, right? Just as Egypt as a country in Saudi Arabia as a country, nonetheless are expected to to kowtow to this particular conception of Muslim sensitivities. And it's a particular conception. I'm a Muslim, I don't have those sensitivities. But
why doesn't you know, my voice count on this or many, many, many other people, right.
So, so much so that if a teacher is beheaded in broad daylight in his own country by an ISIS recruits, these leaders see fit to condemn France and boycott France.
Miserable Rob Bell similarly takes no ethical responsibility for his murder whatsoever. His logic is the Egyptian state shut us down, and they didn't shut him down. So we had to kill him. Never mentioning that the Egyptian states shut down gamma Islamia because of repeated acts of terrorism. Furthermore, further argues that Sharia should not be the law of the land because Egypt is a secular country, or at least was where multiple religions are supposed to live together, such as the indigenous Coptic Christian population.
Bahais Shia, now again, no, this is not an East versus West issue. This is East versus east, okay? And yet, because of this arrogant way of thinking, it's somehow possible to just cast aside all of these details of society or a basic human decency or rudimentary ethics to justify killing innocent people because of their thoughts or because of their speech. And we want to teach this to our children. We want to tell young Muslim children that this is a highly complex issue, and that, that some in some cases, it's justifiable to kill people for saying words we find the fences. Okay. So I submit that this is not a slam if Islam is simply one thing, and I don't think it's simply one
thing. This is a particular
Our understanding of the assume, and this is what I want to get into here. And this is the thing.
Yeah. So sorry. Could you just describe for people what was who is on? Right about to? Yes. Okay. So the assault is it's, it's, you know, um,
Dr. Cosby talks about it. I mean, it is basically the, it's orthodoxy. It's the entire tradition that was formulated by pre modern scholars. And it refers mainly to the legal tradition. And the legal tradition, which was solidified in the early period of Islam is made up of the sources of law or the Quran and Hadees.
If you if you look at particular legal rulings, as we've all been saying, The devil is really in the details. So in terms of coming to the coming to the particular assumed rulings, on blasphemy, there is absolutely no question that the context of the scholars at the time was relevant. But I think what we're saying See, I studied post colonial Islam. So what I think what we're saying, I think there can be no question at all. And I think Dr. Cosby even said it, that the pre modern scholars were working within a particular context, this is completely obvious, right. And they had particular historical situations that they were responding to. But what what we do in the contemporary moment,
is we take that whole tradition, we basically consider it closed, or it can only be open in very only by the scholars, there's a real question about who qualifies, okay, and only if this kind of big universal conversation amongst scholars happens, that allows us to go back and reopen particular issues, which, by the way, it's impossible to have that universal conversation. I mean, I'd love to see someone successfully do that.
What happens is that facts on the ground change, like the jizya tax that Dr. kasi mentioned, we simply don't have the Ottoman Empire anymore. We don't have Islamic empires anymore. That's why we don't have the jizya tax. So it's more that we just change our behavior. And we have different ethical ideas. And and then those get reflected in our behavior and what we conceive of us of the ethics of Islam, but we have a tendency, and this is what's troubling to me, we have a tendency now because of post colonial fracture, because so many countries have undergone so much trauma, because Muslims consider themselves weak in the world today, there's a tendency to go back and look at that
period and reify it and say, This is our structure, and we need to hold to it no matter what it says. Even if it offends what we can almost all agree we agree upon ethically, which is that you cannot be head someone in the street for insulting the Prophet. Okay, if he was even trying to insult the Prophet, of course, he was trying to make a different point about free speech. But here's the thing. Um, I think that it's, and I'm not impugning anyone here, obviously. But what I have observed in my own work on my work on northern Nigeria, for example, and you can ask any northern, Nigerian practicing Muslim what they think of the Sharia reimplementation, they'll all tell you to a
one. This is cynical politics, right? So this idea that we need to be implementing these kinds of rulings that we are so offensive to our modern ideas of ethics. A lot of the actual players who are doing that are doing that for reasons of power. Now, it's a circular logic, if the majority of people, if you can convince the majority of people that there's no way out of this circle, and we can't do anything about the tradition, and then you happen to be scholars that are repeating this over and over and over, then you get to hold on to your power. Right, and it's at the expense of what I think is the actual ethical makeup of the of the health of the American Muslim community. So
I have a serious problem with that. And, um, I guess I'll just I'm sure I'm going over. And I have a lot more to say. But I'll just end by saying, you know, many of us probably have the experience, those of us who come from Muslim backgrounds, I come from an Egyptian background. My colleagues come from South Asian backgrounds. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about that you can go to your parents or your grandparents. And you can say, I play a game at this point when I go to Egypt and talk to my older relatives, and I say, Hey, have you heard about this, this Hadeeth that's very, let's say offensive to modern norms that they've never and they tell me how
I'm crazy. That's not Islam. Are you? Are you out of your mind? Of course, we don't believe that. Well, it's it's a dive Hadees. But you see, why is it that we can go to our forbearers? And we can talk about this version of Islam in which somehow it's a debate whether or not you can be had someone on the street some, you know, why is that you can we can go to our elders, and they have no idea what you're even talking about. They don't even recognize this as Islam. That's because there's a different ethical structure. And why is it that I can go to people younger than me, who were brought up in the West in a lot of cases, and they want to play word games and and have a big
challenge about whether or not this is possible? It's because they're being taught a certain version of ethics. And it's being done, you know, it's not, this isn't simply just Oh, they know Islam better. It's more complicated than that. So I resist this idea that we're stuck with, with ethical norms that we that we have to play mind games with ourselves and justify unjustifiable things. The last thing I'm going to say is on this question of
this post colonial condition, I'm reminded of this Indian author named his son Andy, he's a theorist of post coloniality. And he talks about how the post colonial the colonial condition the condition in which you, let's say, You're Indian, and you experienced probably one of the worst cases of colonialism in the world, British colonial colonialism for over 350 years, or, or, to a lesser extent, parts of the Middle East, but and of course, Africa. There's something about that process, Nan de argues, that renders the colonial subject a child,
that you're that somehow you're always looking up and blaming other people. And you know, and you don't take, and I have a problem with that we just stopped doing that we need to take responsibility for that's how you break the post colonial condition. That's how you Reclaim Your power. By taking responsibility and saying, We don't do this, we do do that this is acceptable. This is not acceptable. Not constantly muddying the waters about issues, that should be obvious.
Great. Well, thank you, Sara, thank you so much. For that, I am sure that we our other panelists would love to have the opportunity to respond to you and to each other. So before we open it up for audience q&a, I am just I just want to give that opportunity to Kasi, Dr. Hahn, and Dr. Oz and Darby to be able to exchange
views on what you just heard the other day.
So I guess I'll begin because I would first suppose
with regards to Dr. Martha's comments, I mean, again, appreciate all that you said.
with utmost respect, obviously, I mean, personal opinions don't really form the basis of Sharia laws. And obviously, you're politically free to present your own views. But I mean, don't be surprised when, you know, your epistemology might not be in accordance with mainstream Sunni Islam. And then mainstream Sunni Islam finds it problematic. I mean, you can't really have your cake and eat it both ways. you're quoting people like Ahmed and I, personally, you know, I respect him as a person. But I'm not surprised that mainstream Sunni Muslims are not going to take him as a resource, because his epistemology is radically different. I mean, again, it is what it is I deal with
pragmatics and not and not theory. So if you've chosen a particular epistemology in which you have your own interpretations of Hadith, and Sunnah, and in which you have your own understanding of ismar, that's great for you. But then large segments of the Muslim world are simply not going to be on the same wavelength. And I think you have to accept that that you have chosen a certain methodology, which is fine. But that's not the same methodology as the vast majority of normative Islamic law. And I do agree with you, by the way very, very much when you point out, and by the way, I have five points I did try to keep within my 15 minutes. But the sixth point that I had, which I
wasn't able to say, because of time, was that, in reality, this type of vigilante justice that is taking place has nothing to do with Islamic law. It has to do with socio economic realities, the laws of blasphemy have been in our textbooks for a millennia. And yet it is only recently that we're seeing this spat of vigilante justice. And I think Dr. McDevitt and, Dr. sardo, you both pointed this out that we have to look at the socio political context from within which such anger is being generated. I think the classic example not quite related to this is the suicide bombings of ISIS and whatnot. I mean, again, the notion of suicide bombings in Iraq, for example, you know, Iraq has been
Muslim territory for 14 centuries. The
First suicide bombing in the history of Iraq was 2004. Post US invasion. So one wonders, Is it because of Islamic law? Or is it because of something else? And the exact same thing goes for this spat of vigilante justice that we're seeing across the globe, including in Pakistan. So we have to be careful. We don't blame the law, when in reality, there are far more pertinent factors. And this isn't a justification. It is a contextualization there's a lot of anger in the Muslim community. I'm not saying it's justified. There's a lot of anger that is not based on Islamic law. And unfortunately, the way that that anger is expressed is in these types of vigilante acts here to Dr.
Saar, I just want to point out that I'm, to be brutally honest, your your, your whole point of these examples? I mean, I don't know of any mainstream cleric that would justify what happened to Samuel Patti, I mean, again, I'm very involved in the Muslim community, I gave a sermon that went viral, over I think, few 100,000 views across the globe, I was interviewed by television stations after that sermon, because I think I was the only one that actually spoke with what I did. And I don't know of any cleric that is sympathetic to the execution of, of Samuel, even if they didn't like what he did. And the fact of the matter, once again, the only types of people that go ahead and do this
are marginalized individual actors, such as the Chechnya that you mentioned, he was not even a mainstream Moscow or he people in his local community didn't even know him. And that is the stereotypical makeup of ISIS and and of jihad, this types of of people. And with regards to your your issue of scholar and who constitutes and what not, this goes back to what I said with to, to Dr. moqtada, which is that, again, it's a question of internal credibility. I mean, I don't think it's fair to I mean, if you're not going to follow, and again, that's your choice. I'm not saying it's wrong. If you're not going to follow mainstream normative, you know, epistemology, then don't
be surprised when those who do choose to follow mainstream normative Sunday methodology don't resonate with the types of views that are being espoused, it's just it is what it is, my views are not accepted as, as as authoritative outside of my my group, and people that are on the either ultra conservative or on the progressive, I'm sorry to use these loaded terms. But there is a utility at times for them, you know, I have my own niche base, and I have my own people that look up to me, because I have a certain methodology. Don't be surprised if you're how you're going to have your own, that you're going to appeal to different segments. And if you look at, again, the bulk of the
Muslim world, they do have an epistemology that is rooted in the Quran, and the Sunnah, and in the Jamaat and in the for legal schools and in the mainstream theological schools. So final point here, if you really want to effect change, it has to be from within that existing framework and paradigm, it's so easy for us on this call to all agree that those people are bad, and all of this and that, but that's not going to bring about tangible change. If you really want change, you have to work from within the system and within their epistemology, and convince them as they remain faithful to their own epistemology. Frankly, you're not going to get a radical revolution of intellectual
thought of a billion Muslims. But you will get from within the system slowly but surely, as has happened in the past, you will get tangible changes if you're utilizing the tools and the hermeneutics that mainstream Muslims believe in. That's what I'm attempting to do bit by bit. And it's not an easy process, but it is what it is what it is. And we ask God for His guidance in itself. Anyway, that that was my my two cents worth. Excellent. So I do want to get to the audience questions. But I do want to give a Dr. Hahn and Dr. Open taraweeh an opportunity to respond to what you just heard from Dr. kazi. And then we'll get right to the questions. Is there anything you'd
like to say?
I think you're muted. Clara go first, and then I'll depending on the time, I will.
And if you don't, and if you don't have anything to say we can immediately go to the q&a as well. I do want to say two things, but guessing Go ahead. Okay. So the first thing that I do want to talk about is availability. I'm not a follower of comedy.
vomit, he does not like Sophie's and I have a soft spot for socialism.
So we are not walking on the same street. But I'm glad you brought them down with you if somebody had to leave his home country of Pakistan, and come and live with us here in Texas, because his colleague was killed and he didn't feel safe. So this idea of normative Sunni Muslims, very dangerous. The moment you will say someone is not part of it, like what you're saying to me
If both of us were living in Pakistan, I would be worried tonight that your friendly normative Sunni Muslims might come and burn my house down or kill me. And then I will also have to migrate to Malaysia, or to the US after that. That's number one. That's very scary, this idea of doing taxied and saying that, Oh, your your views are not in constant. If you read my book, I have followed the standard methodology articulated by Sunni scholars and the only thing that I've pointed out is that they don't follow their own methodology. If the Quran has said very clearly that anybody who curses the prophet and Allah subhanaw taala, I will take care of him. And then you don't like that. And you
need to reject the Sunnah of the Prophet was so many times he was insulted, but he did not kill them. You don't like that practice of the Prophet, you ignore that and then go and take this far, episodes, to create a law for creating debt. So that is my critiques thing that I'm looking at your own methodology, and the traditional scholars don't seem to follow. And in Pakistan in particular, they are also clearly misrepresenting the traditional result when they said repeatedly that there is a consensus, there is a consensus there is not especially given that in Pakistan, the majority of followers out of the Hanafi school, that is my one point, the second point is that
this is kind of depressing for me.
There is no doubt that among the traditional scholars in the US, it is probably the most talented, most knowledgeable, and importantly, most followed, you know, millions watching on TV on YouTube. And he seems to be paranoid and afraid of his own constituency,
is afraid that they will, they will do tax free to you if you move even slightly off the beaten path. And that is, to me very depressing is if you don't have the courage to challenge the past interpretations.
I'm okay. People will not follow me because, okay, who cares about most of the, this is crazy, most of you can ignore me. But even if you are not going to question this and come out and say, Look, these interpretations are questionable, then there will be no change. And this is how perfectly this perpetuated. Again, if the best and the brightest, the best they can do is stuck lead, then where is there going to be reform and growth in the faith and the community is time is changing? When will the text be in sync with the context?
I have to respond to that. Yes.
You absolutely do. But I am also going to give a Sarah just a minute because and then absolutely, we'll get back to you. And then I really do want to get to the questions as well.
Okay, just very quickly. Um, so I think very respectfully, there's a maybe a move to paint me as an irrelevant progressive. I'm not trying to I'm not a chef. I'm not I don't have a following. I'm not a religious leader. I am just trying to make some points. So so whether I identify as progressive to be honest with you, I don't even know I don't really care. Right. So that's that's not the point. The point here is that I just want to challenge a couple of points, this idea that
no one justified what happened in France. When you when you give answers. Let me give you an example. I wrote a book on stoning on the stoning punishment. Tarik Ramadan, made a statement on French television, which ended up getting Sarkozy elected because it was so absurd to everyone. Right. But the the statement that he made was, so Sarkozy says to him, why can't you just outlaw this? Why can't you just condemn the stoning punishment where the 21st century we don't stone anyone to death anymore? And what Ramadan says is, and I think it's probably and I understand where he's coming from, and I, if I don't want to put words in your mouth, Dr. Cloudy, I, I would maybe assume
that perhaps you'd be on a similar page, which would be
I, as a person, it doesn't matter what I say, as a person, I can condemn stoning. It doesn't matter. What matters is the billions of Muslims who care about the bassoon. So what we need to do is have a big conversation with those billions of Muslims so that we can, but in the meantime, I'll have a more I call for a moratorium on stoning. We shouldn't do it at all. But I can't say that it shouldn't be in the law. And I am just here to say that is no longer enough that it really is no longer enough, because and so I'm not saying that scholars justified it. But if you're not willing to say you can't kill anyone ever for insulting the Prophet, if you're not willing to say that we do
have a problem, because there is people are going to read between the lines and say, well, it's still in the soul. And if I want to get extra
brownie points and go to heaven, then I should still do this. So that that's Problem number one. And then the next, the only last thing I want to say is that, um,
this idea of, well, there's all of these billions of people, and they follow normative Islam. And that's just the way it is. And all we can do is change from the inside. Two points on that, number one, these millions of people, they didn't used to be like this, there was a different ethical structure, something has changed, where they are now more literal, they're now listening to shifts who are more literal. And there used to be a different, more kind of ethically focused
way of speaking to Muslims, so that there has been a change. That's number one, number two theories of change. You're saying that the way to create change is to go in and do this kind of tinkering with the tradition. That's actually not my understanding of how social change is made social changes made by just doing things differently. And it's the scholars who adjust to that, or at least that's something else to consider. I don't really believe that it scholars tinkering with things that create social change. Thank you, Dr. kazi, if you could, yes, please respond. But if you could do so briefly to both because then we want to get to the questions. Okay. So Dr. Walker that I think you
have a bit of a misunderstanding. Firstly, by the way, if we were in Pakistan, I would also be under death threats. I'm pretty sure you are not aware of what's happening on social media with regards to me, we are both equally well it. But the main point and I say this not as a boast or brag or something, but I have never in my life pandered for popularity. It's a matter of using wisdom. But it is a never an issue of changing my opinion because of popularity. Yes, wisdom dictates that we present controversial issues and appropriate language. But if I were to say something on my tongue that my heart does not believe to be true, I would genuinely fear a divine wrath on me. So I have
never in my life given a religious verdict or spoken about this faith without sincerely believing it to be the active order. And I've never shied away actually, if you listen to my talks about Jihad and about blasphemy, the death threat from ISIS that came and I have two death threats. I'm the only American that has two death threats by name. And by picture, a huge picture called the picture in their magazine. And I didn't shy away from it was over the blasphemy issues after the Charlie Hebdo incident. I was the cleric and I was the sheriff that stood up and gave a hoot buck that went viral and condemned ISIS, and then I did it again. So it obviously I mean, it is a bit insulting to me to
insinuate You didn't say that. But to insinuate that I'm somehow scared of speaking the truth. It You should also understand it's not just it's not fear, there are elements and I think saara, I think we're gonna have to agree to disagree. There are elements that I genuinely believe are a part of the Shetty, so I can't disregard the fact that I believe this is coming from God. My religion is not based upon a popularity vote. And my ethics and norms don't depend upon the current, you know, liberal understanding of humanism. That's the way I am. I understand you are different, but do understand that I'm coming from a place of sincerity and not a place of fear. So I hope that that
answers that issue. Great. Thank you, Judge Ghazi so I'm going to go to the first question. And that is for you. kasi, and it says, How do we balance the call for reform from within with the general ambivalence towards the status quo or embrace a stance of quietism? It seems like asking for reform from within is like asking the police to investigate the killings of Mr. arbury, George Floyd, Briana Taylor or asking Harvey Weinstein to address me too. This is
a radical example.
I mean, that's your perspective. I don't agree with the examples. It's not it's that's painting the entire Muslim community as the police brutality and Come on, it's a little bit harsh, to be honest, you know, 1.5 billion Muslims, and you're gonna paint them as all complicit in an evil? I mean, if that's the case, and if that's your perception of Islam, then I think you need to rethink your perception of Islam. But
I'm being tangible. I'm being pragmatic and realistic. How else do you expect large groups of Muslims to change you? Do you really think you're going to bomb them into your perspectives like the Americans tried to do, how else do you think is going to happen? These are believers. And by the way, and again, I let me be personal here, my own trajectory in the last 20 years. Look at that, those of you and I know most other knows our Northstar knows about my trajectory from where I was and my group and following. I thank God, I'm very grateful I have taken them with me. And I have shaped the minds and broaden the horizons of hundreds of 1000s of people who used to be very, very
ultra conservative. It is possible it's tangible. And I did that because I
I was sincere because I was genuine, because I'm following hermeneutics that they understand. And I'm using those hermeneutics for them. I'm not saying My way is the only way. But I am saying a it is effective. Be there's a track record and see if lots of people did it from various different strands, you would actually get tangible change. And I don't want to be dismissive here. But you know, Sarah, you know, this, Dr. Sarah, you know this very well, for all of the talk and hype and whatnot. Let's Get Real. Let's Get Real here. How many people actually attend? And I'm not labeling us such progressive Muslim circles? How many people actually identify and then have how many mosques
in America, let's say are LGBT friendly. Let's just lay the cards on the table. How many are actually LGBT friendly? I'm not saying pro or con. I'm just being factual here. Right? So let's talk in pragmatic reality. The vast majority of Muslims have a certain paradigm, I'm working within the system, not because I'm scared of them, not because but because I actually generally speaking, generally speaking, I'm a believer of that paradigm. So you want to bring about change, it is possible to be done from within, and it and it's something that hopefully, myself and many others are doing might not be to the level you want, and might not be at the pace that you want. But hey,
in America, it's a free country. And I have defended your rights and other people's rights to do as you please. And you know, God will bless whoever he chooses to go to Pfizer. We have to work within the system. And we have to work within that epistemological, epistemological framework and the paradigm that billions of Muslims have bought into. And you just keep saying that that's what you are doing. And I'm also wondering, how are you doing that? When it comes to the question of blasphemy? How are other people who are working within contemporary scholars within Muslim majority countries are here in the US who have bought into that framework? And who subscribed to it? What
have they been doing to sort of bring it into contemporary times, not to conform to contemporary time, but using that framework? So where is that change happening? So in my particular case, I have been very clear that I am speaking to Western Muslims overall. And with regards to Western Muslims, it is very easy to make a very standard mainstream normative case, that is completely how long and unethical and sinful to get involved in vigilante justice. I have examples from the Sierra, I have quotations from the scholars. Unfortunately, not too many people were actually doing that. But I did this multiple times. And it's very easy to make that case, the more difficult case, which I don't
mind doing. But remember my five points, and especially point three and four, I don't feel I'm the best person to do. And that is dialogues within Muslim majority lands, dialogues in Pakistan, or in you know, Nigeria, or whatever. That's something that my very presence would actually pollute those gatherings because I'll be seen, as a Westerner I'll be seen, even if I'm Pakistani origin, I'll be seen as basically a tool of imperialism, which is why it is actually safer for most of us to not talk about country specific issues as if we are better than them as as if we can pontificate to them what they should do, our mere bringing up what they should do will automatically hamper genuine
efforts because of the dynamics and the global politics and the hegemonic realities between the west and east. So I speak as a cleric from the west to Western Muslims. And it's much more easy for me to do that. That's my main area of preaching and teaching America. I just want to add one more point. Sometimes. Dr. Cardy says that all Muslims and majority of Muslims have this paradigm. I found it funny that, you know,
people get high when they drink or smoke something Muslims get high, or how many Muslims are there in the world? So it's, oh my god, 1.7 billion, 2 billion Muslims. And and the funny part is when someone says, oh, there are 2 billion Muslims, give them two minutes, and then they'll say, Oh, the Shias are not Muslims. Oh, the meds are not missing. The Sufi God only knows where they came from. And then you are not a Muslim. At the end of the day, they will be the only Muslim left in the room at the end of it. So this assumption that that there is a standard paradigm that all Muslims subscribe to is incorrect. Yes, there is a core community in every society in Saudi Arabia, they
thought that the Sharia had banned driving and Muslim women were driving in other Sunni countries. So the turkeys also Sunni countries. Saudi Arabia is also a Sunni country and the paradigms are not very similar. So we should understand that even though there is a broad normative paradigm, there's a huge difference in how Muslims are that's why we have had different schools of thought that's why we have so many different modahaus so many other schools. In 2006 alankar, had done a survey of the city of Cairo.
And I remember actually, at that time for him, Webb was working there as an assistant or something. And they identified at Sunil Cech, who's of the jurisprudence and they said different methodologies. And I'm not saying just broadly but different methods of deriving Islamic law just in the city of Cairo. So if the Muslims also there is profound disagreements and diversity is on many, many issues. And we should not forget that. And part of it is because in some societies, some issues lead to reform in something in other societies, issues lead to reform, for example, blasphemy is not punishable by death in all Sunni countries. So we have to understand that that already reforms have
taken place, for example, I think in Tunisia banned polygamy. And in Morocco, you have to take permission before you can take a second Why? So there has been evolution of the law already. And these are Muslim majority countries trying to implement Islamic law. So there is no uniformity at all in within the I mean, yeah, surprising. The point that he made about Pakistan was perfect. And because I'm a small player, he is more likely to be killed than I am, because he's a bigger player. So yes,
he is more in danger than I am. But he thinks he is the core of the paradigm and others are not. And that's not true. We are all at the periphery. There is no center. That's the problem. And let's hope that nobody gets killed at the process.
Yes, and Sara, please respond. And then I'm going to go to the next logical point on this issue of, well look at just like, let's be real, most people are not going to progressive mosques, they're going to more conservative mosques.
The actual numbers are that less than 15% of American Muslims in the United States go to any mosque? Okay, so that 85%, right, I believe that a large portion of them are just completely disaffected? Because they don't progressive masa mean that yes, you're right, there's, I think I can think of maybe two that are LGBTQ friendly explicitly. But the progressive movement, if you want to call it a movement, it would it would be less, it'd be less than 20 years old. And there are many problems with that. I agree with that. And it's a tough one to solve. But the actual more important number is that 85% of people are Muslims do not go to any mosque whatsoever. So I don't think 1.2 billion
Muslims believe anything, I think you're talking about a much smaller number than that, with a very loud voice, speaking in the name of all of Islam, while everyone else is is kind of disaffected, I never claimed all by the way, both of you never claimed all but I said, statistics speak for themselves. And there are certain preachers and teachers that are very mainstream and accepted. And there are others that are on the fringe, social media has flattened all playing grounds, by the way. And it's awkward for me to say this, because obviously their doctor most others pointed out, there's a reality of who I am. It's awkward for me to say this, but social media has flattened the curve,
look at the biggest names and other interpretations of Islam in America and see how many people are listening to their YouTube. They're following whatnot. So it's not about geography even right? It is what it is. I didn't I didn't if these aren't my rules, it is what it is the mainstream bulk? Yes, the majority, I would say, have committed by the way, that figure of 85. The first time I'm hearing it, what I what I did, what I read from the listeners survey was around 35% are mosque goers. So that would make 65 not so I'm not sure about that. But in any case, that's an assumption to assume the rest of the 65 are automatically inclined towards an interpretation. I would say the default is
that those other 65% are not really identifying with any strand of Islam. They're more, you know, basically away from the faith and not really with a particular strand of Islam. But anyway, something I agree it's just there's a reason they're away from the faith. Many reasons, okay. There are many reasons that I feel like the younger generation is looking for answers to problematic questions or problematic, quote, unquote, questions that are mainstream allamah are not able to respond to and they're not able to reconcile what's happening in the Muslim majority world around some of these issues with the Islam that their parents raised them in. And so and because they're
not finding other answers, they are then being away from more traditional sources. So they're very quick question for you. Do you have more YouTube followers or ISIS?
I don't even know ISIS has a YouTube channel. They have YouTube channel. There are their preachers that their body videos where they really have no clue
I don't subscribe to ISIS as YouTube because I'm under Hitler. So I kind of stay away from them a little
more followers, what would it mean? Do we take that as normative Sunni Islam? Because they have millions of followers. ISIS does not have millions of followers. I don't know where you're getting this from is definitely more than progressive Muslims.
Brooke Okay, so moving on. So this is where another audience membrane can be any of the speakers can take this. And she says, I'd like to point out that in sunny theoretical discourse, we have as much a tradition of protest and attempting to change the direction of the discourse, as we do that of compliance with current norms. juridical discourse was argumentation. As a reaction to appneta Mia's work on sub where he endorsed an expanded use of the death penalty, we find also keys word, and if not Aberdeen's word that do in fact contest and object to anatomy as conclusions. Both were mainstream scholars, and if they ignore Aberdeen's case, he advocated for a minimalist approach to
hard penalties as the most authentic application of hanafy doctrine, and on this basis, criticize the use of the death penalty for the for blaspheming. The Prophet except in cases of treason, if anything, if net amea was an outlier, as his work was a reaction to the fact that mamdouh courts were not enforcing blasphemy laws. Are we taking this aspect of our history into account when we take assessments of when we make assessments of medieval discourse? Interesting question. So who would like to take back?
I can tell you very briefly that, that there is no consensus on this issue, there is a majority of lemma that people now say, believe that, that there should be punishment for both apostasy as well as
blasphemy but theologically, it is not, I find the arguments made by the Hanafi scholars far more compelling. And there are also contemporary Hanafi scholars who are challenging him. Yes, you may dismiss Java, the family as an outlier, but he's school in Pakistan, at least has made a very powerful argument against death penalty for blasphemy and, and there are many people who do agree with him and follow his argument. And, and I have a feeling that if he were to have a discussion,
see, when people tell you right away that Oh, you don't have enough followers, you don't have enough YouTube followers, you don't have this that he tells you that. Okay, you may have a good argument. But what's the point of having a good argument? What really matters is do you have people who will take your word for the tradition, so so one of the problems is that the ignorance of the masses is driving the postures that the scholars are taking. And if you simply resonate what the masses are emotionally saying, then of course, you will have a huge faith. So I think that is a that is the issue in America, we have this opportunity for American Muslims, who can think freely, who don't
have to be that worried about the street, they don't have to be worried about people coming in burning your house down or killing you or having to run away. So I think that American Muslims should take this opportunity to revisit some of the serious issues in the past. And,
and I do believe that, that we we as any moral community, in order to be authentic, in order to be authentically Muslim, we need to be able to have our own understanding of our sources, because we believe in them, and then try to build our own relationship with God by following his laws. And that is important, and rather than seeking affirmation from Muslim majority countries or other people, thank you,
Cassie, if you could respond. And then Sarah, I have a question for you if you can then respond. But then I also have a question from the audience directed to you. I think this goes back to my first two points. I am somebody who has trained in the classical law. This is simply incorrect. These types of radical revision isms of the past it's not true. The whole notion of blasphemy laws. It is undeniable the Hanafi is had an exception for Chateau Rasool solostar sallam, they're basically for somebody who criticizes the Prophet system, but even the Hanafi 's have laws for ryda and have laws for those who curse God and the religion. The Hanafi exception was for cursing the Prophet if you're
a Christian or Jew, they said if you're a Christian as you obviously you don't think he's a prophet, but they said he should be jailed and punished as the authority. See, it wasn't freedom of speech. It wasn't Voltaire. So this this, this, this thrust to try to radically reimagine the past. I am
Not a fan of it, it was what it was. But this goes back to my second point, which is okay, that was the past they had their laws, we don't expect them to, to to be propagating john Stuart Mill's, you know, back in the 12th century in both that its children, totally ludicrous church added back project, our notions on to them, I think, much more pragmatic is to move on to stage two. They had their laws, they had their understandings, and you know what it was right for them for the time in place. Let's now see which part of those laws we have the right to change and why we're doing that. And let's see what we can negotiate. And I am very, I'm all for rethinking through in light of the
nation state in light of the fact that citizenship is a novel concept that wasn't known 500 years ago, and that all citizens, you know, are a different understanding. I mean, again, we go back to the impossibility of Islam to say but why the hell out? I mean, that's a great book book to
talk about the fundamental in compatibility of the nation state with certain notions of the Shetty are not that either is negative, necessarily evil, but you can't have a nation state that has all of the laws of Shetty, I because their paradigms are totally different. If we were to take this avenue, we could actually bring far more tangible change without reimagining a utopic. past and re and trying to reformulate how the past tradition does. So I just wanted to, in my opinion, correct, but obviously others have their views that that notion of the past. Okay, so thank you, Sri, do you want to respond? And then I have a question for you should I just said right now. Okay. So the question
is a 2017. Pew poll found that 43% of American Muslim respondents say they attend mosque weekly or more. Can you please reconcile that with your claim that only 15% of American Muslims visit mosques? Thank you.
For the Pew poll from 2017 to 47% 80% of Americans.
That sounds way too high to me. And the poll that I am citing is actually from an American Muslim group, the think tank that's based out of Michigan, I think it's called ISP, the policy understanding. Yeah, so 43%, I please send that poll. Maybe it's grown. But that doesn't sound.
That doesn't sound right to me.
I want to say a couple of things. I mean, no one is actually saying that we want to impose john Stuart Mill's on on the tradition. I haven't heard anyone saying that the brilliant question. I think the very under rated brilliant question that was asked just that method I just read is actually pointing out that there were scholars that challenge even time his ideas of blasphemy within that exact same time period, but because of there's the politics of actually additions and translations as well, that for various just because of historical accident, in many ways. It's been timea. He was a marginal figure. And now he's emerged as a, a very central figure. And that that has
that has to do with the rise of political Islam, actually. So it's not
really to do with this assault. I mean, I really want to unpack this, this idea of
this, this? I mean, I think what you're saying Dr. Cosby, is that there's
that there's your mouth on the question, and that there's really nothing we can do. And I think that you also mentioned that you believe that that is your ma is in and of itself, the Sharia. And just to clarify, Sharia is God's ideal law. I mean, strictly speaking as Muslims, we can't know exactly what it is what we have is filk, or
Islamic law. These are traditions of jurisprudence. So theoretically, the question is, the Sharia question is always open and to take the position that it's closed, and we have an assumed that's already closed is a particular position to take. But I really just need to push back on this. Well, it's circular reasoning, you know, well, but all of these Muslims believe it. Okay. Number one, all these Muslims used to be in a different place. So we know that that's changeable. And then number two, I think Dr. Khan brought this up, and you know, really well, which is that
Kim Kardashian has the most followers on Instagram of any human being does that make Kim Kardashian important or someone we should be listening to or that you know what I'm that populism? We have to be very careful with that concept.
There's Yeah, so I'll just stop there. By the way, I never said there's a Jamaat on this issue I said there there's a Jamaat itself is a normative principle, but I never said that. ismar there is no
Ah, my ears, guys. ismar. Of course, if you're asking me I'm going to give the Sunni definition obviously there are two is contested.
Jamaat means that the jurists of any particular timeframe have agreed to a particular ruling. There is no edge mount on sub rhassoul. from people outside of the faith of Islam, the henna fees are allowing certain types of phrases that are derogatory, by that are coming from non Muslims, there is a drama about adult male Muslims, there is a Jamaat on this point, yes, there is not a whiff of controversy. If an adult male Muslim,
does shut him down, he curses the Prophet so certain that there's going to be a punishment against that person. The controversy occurred over females and the controversy that occurred over non Muslims that kind of did not have that position that hanafy said he should be jailed, and his punishment is left to the soul bond. Okay, they didn't say he's free to walk around his daily routine? No. Did you say to this, what is this? This will find the leader? No, no pre modern scholar would ever claim that there's freedom of speech in an unlimited matter. This is a modern construct and a notion. So like I said, it is it? Is it what it is, or it was what it was, we have to do with
modernity and not, and not just necessarily from the past, replicated on Twitter. And I just want to make one small point, that first of all, there is no email about each month, okay, as to what is email and there are different notions, it is the consensus of the companions of the Prophet, the consensus of scholars of the consensus of the oma, etc. So the arguments which try to make each myself an authoritative source of those soon, is very problematic, okay. And these traditions with the use do not necessarily, say the scholars, the consensus of the scholars of medieval scholars, so fine, you had a medieval conference, and everybody agreed. So what that doesn't mean that we have to
forever follow that consensus. If today's contemporary scholars disagree, I think that that each ma has been broken. So that is one point that we have to do.
I have a short essay on the web that people should just Google is called four freedoms that we need if the Muslim world needs to have intellectual vitality and freedom. And all the four freedoms one is the freedom to do is to have and the other is the freedom to challenge the past age. If you do not have the freedom to challenge the past is where you're immediately shut down if your question and said no, no, no, no. In the 11th century, we have this consensus and now anybody who raises the question about the past consensus, they will be deemed as outside the normative paradigm. This bacteria culture, I think, is one of the biggest detriments to progressive and I don't buy
progressive, I don't mean progressive. I have over the last 10 years become more and more Sufi leaning, I spend the whole night last night talking about Mirage, and miracles, etc. So I don't consider myself as my letter to me toffee is considered as the death knell of the progressive union at least. So but what I do feel that that every generation should have the opportunity to address the sources we don't have to be right. That's why if you do wish they had, if you get it wrong, you still have one reward. And if you get it right, you have double the reward. And I think that is the license to think that the Islamic tradition has given to Muslims and later they scholars are trying
to shut it down because they are protective of it and are afraid that Western ideas and Western philosophies will corrupt the pure and wonderful
laws of Islam, which will not allow freedom of religion and freedom of thought. And he had here refers to independent reasoning of engaging with the primary sources to arrive at independent conclusions. There's a question for you, Dr. Han from Stephen Gardner. He says thank you, Dr. Han. But I'm concerned about which group of Americans wants to make the changes. So I am in the position to have both wanting to preserve some rights and to change others. Justice Marshall was criticized for his attack on the US Constitution. And both his attack on the response were both correct. The Constitution which Marshall attacked was also his tool, but I can't get around the bed. I can't get
around the drive to reify the past as some groups interpreted, but rejecting the past either, I too, have to fight their approach.
So I think I have read Professor Gottlieb's book on sovereignty when I was in grad school, if I'm not mistaken, if you are the same Steven godling. But okay, so there was a Steven Gossett who wrote a book on sovereignty so I thought it were you i think that what is happening in in America is sometimes very fascinating, okay. So, so there is a core Moscow related community, there is no doubt you can dispute what the members is. And they are the core because they in Ramadan will go and fast and they will attend the telavi. They will perform all the reading
And obligate three aspects of it. Without that mosque going community, there will be no Islam in America, I mean, you're gonna have people wandering around saying I'm a Muslim when they feel the need and otherwise. Now, having said that, I think because there is freedom of thought and in, in the Muslim community as well, often so many young Muslims are entering academia and not just becoming like, like, like yourself, are they going to traditional land like chickens and other studying and bringing, we have an opportunity to have a fascinating conversation that probably is not possible anywhere else on these issues, people who are trying now there's going to be an
emerging wave of, you know, feminist challenges to Islamic thought a lot of them coming out of
out of Western universities, but well trained in the languages and traditions of Islam. So I think that the intellectual,
the intellectual horizons for American Muslims is fascinating. I just hope that, that we do not bring in some of the bad habits of duck feet and, and violence and other things. Like, for example, we don't have so much of sectarian hostility here in the US and we have in other parts because there is an understanding between the old Mr. Bashir as well as the Sunni and I think, yes, I have a lot of respect for the other party. I disagree with him profoundly on many issues. But I also learned from him I was just telling him that I read his book, and I learned how to understand the Quran 2536 years ago from him, and he was just 21 years old when he wrote this book. That was my first
introduction to interpretation of the Quran. So we can learn from each other. And I think that is the important part. It is not about getting the right answer and preaching it. I think our whole life. You know, there's a verse in the Quran that I use as an epic system, a logical pillar, and I would like to share it with you people should like it is the 18th verse of the 39th, Chapter of Edina, just coming on call yesterday, you know,
when you hear the text, when you hear,
counter Islamic forces, derive the most beautiful meaning from it.
To me, that is the epistemological bias that we need. And how do we define what is the most beautiful meaning of the text? I interpret that as to be most compassionate, most often, most loving, and not being legalistic, straight, and I'm waiting to look at you and the moment I get a chance, I'm going to make sure that you go to hell. That's not how God I think sees us. So to me, that is an important way that we should be able to interpret our forces continuously continuously, the next generation may find our interpretations, fossilized, that's fine. But for us for our time, we should be able to understand our sources and live by it. I never, I never advocate something that
I cannot live by I was part of a project with Dr. Yasser Fonzie, about the salvation of others. I went and made a presentation and later on after that, I read through that, but you know, I haven't understood that yet. And I did do that paper. I've never published it. Because I tried to make sure that my heart and my mind are aligned. And I think that, that we accept that sincerely from all Muslim scholars, and have a much more open debate. We have that opportunity in the US, which other Muslims who live under intimidating environment do not have in the Muslim world.
Right. Would you like to respond?
Yeah, I mean, I guess I just, I mean, I hate to, I don't want to sound like I'm pouring cold water on everything. But
I tell my students that really if you look at Islamic history, there's a very strong argument to be made that we're actually in the dark, our equivalent of the Dark Ages. Now.
The most amount of refugees in the world are Muslim, I say this out of care. Yeah. The most amount of refugees in the world are Muslims. Muslims are falling behind in every conceivable measure of freedom and democracy and dignity and human society. And one thing I really fail to understand it really and I don't mean to sound kind of reactionary here. But it bothers me that Muslim majority societies, that's from the middle of the 20th century onward really have been mean, we can talk about details. They have been taken over by Islamised trends, by selfie trends by Wahhabi trends that have really destroyed those societies to the point where there is no debate. And some of the
best and brightest minds have to leave. And then some people leave and they come to the west, and they want to reproduce the same problems that destroyed those societies that they came from. Enough is enough, really, I mean, it there has to be I mean, I disagree with Dr. Khan in the sense
That you should be going in the pulpit and preaching something different. You should be realistic about what is the use, there is no excuse for killing someone in the 21st century for blasphemy
and figure out a way to communicate that to your millions of followers without any equivocation. And there's so many other issues like that, because how much worse Do you want it to get? We have the rise of ISIS, we have we have sex slaves, we have Christians leaving the region in mass droves. We have we have? I mean, I just could go on and on. And there's no almost no exception in the Muslim majority world so and when does this become an emergency situation that we need to think outside the box about? So I just.
Yeah. And Dr. Sarah decries the rise of religious fundamentalism, and believe it or not, shockingly, I agree with the sentiment of that as well. I decry the rise of authoritarian regimes across the Muslim world that are propped up by our own country that we live in. To me that is the far bigger problem. And that is the cause of religious fanaticism. And why people choose religious fanaticism. The reason why people go and turn to these bizarre understanding of Islam is not because of the text is not because of the Koran is not because of our tradition, it is because of social political factors, the majority of which emanate from from the very lands we happen to live in San Jose decry
religious fundamentalism, my ultimate anger is that the socio political causes that brought about that level of fundamentalist and as it should be that a Pharisee, as it should be the socio political context within which refugees arise, has a lot to do with Western interventions. And in legitimate Western intervention. In fact, any kind of intervention is basically the point I definition. However, however, I do want to touch upon that question of the role of American Muslim scholars. And you said that this is purposely majority countries that over here, you cannot, you know, dictate as an American Muslim scholar, what should happen or shaped the discourse that's
happening in Pakistan or in Egypt or whatever. However, as Dr. Han said, you do sort of live within a context here where it is far safer for you to be having those conversations as a as an American Muslim jurist, what is your responsibility when it comes to these questions of blasphemy when it comes to so rather than just saying, well, that's, you know, Pakistan's issue and their trajectory and Egypt's issue and their trajectory? What is your I mean, you're a jurist, you're not one to sort of shape political, you know, events in Pakistan. But you can you can talk about and you can create a narrative around what what the discourse around blasphemy should be. And so what have you done in
that regard, not just in the mind, not Muslim minority context, but just as jurisprudence in general.
So I think was it three, four months ago last year, look, at November of last year, there was a famous case of a Christian in Pakistan, not icbb. Something happened last year, I forgot the name of it, and somebody was killed or something like that. I gave a very detailed lecture about that, which again, it went viral on that. And I was very clear in my, in my remarks, very similar to what I'm saying here, where I categorize the historical reality, versus the the modern misunderstandings and misapplications. And I actually said that, you know, I say this as a Pakistani American, that it is painful for me to see how, you know, these laws have been misunderstood in our modern times. But I'm
very, very cautious about trying, as I said, wittingly or unwittingly, to be perceived as a hegemonic tool. That's really the problem. If America hadn't done what it had done, I would be more free to speak my mind what I'm worried about, which I think I with my utmost love and respect, I feel I have a pulse on the mainstream people that look up to me, for an American cleric to say something against the Pakistani clerics, it might actually hamper the efforts of the Pakistani clerics, it might actually be counter productive. So it's better for me to not push that severely and let reform come from within. Now, by the way, I am in touch with people who look up to me who
respect and admire me on WhatsApp and, and private messages, the clerics that are forward thinking understand English and with them my dialogue, but I expect them to lead the change from within their communities. And that's going to be more conducive and useful for me to say this automatically. There's a dismissive and again, I hope everybody on this call is aware of the RAND report, which every practicing Muslim in the world is aware of right, the RAND report that came out post 911, one of the dumbest moves of Rand ever because what it did was it shut down actual reform from within the tradition, even myself when I try to do something automatically. My critics say, Oh, he's Iran
sellout, right. That's what the American government's supporting because what it's what it's done is is create a class
Amid of hostility, a climate of suspicion, which again, you can't really blame them, honestly put yourself in their shoes. In light of all that we've done, do you really blame them? So it's so easy for people to say, why don't you do more? I'm actually, in my humble opinion, my hesitation to do more is actually rooted in wanting to help in that silence right to not too much so that they can do from within. That's that's my own philosophy of how I'm doing this, right. But in fact, it's not as we all know, anybody who tries to talk about reform or anything, either gets gunned down or is expelled or is exiled. So and you I'm sure have many Pakistani followers, where you could absolutely
influence even though they're not there, but I am very mindful of Morocco. Can I quickly add something very religious? This is I think
I need to
yes, it is the book you're talking about.
So this is the RAND Corporation report. Civil? Yes. What exactly, that's definitely one of them. Yeah, there's more than one of them. Yeah. So basically, it was a post 911 book, which is and one of the beneficiaries of this have been. So for example, I have no hesitation in saying that one of the big biggest beneficiaries has been Shere Khan. And his group, who got heavily funded by the British government implemented these policies and funded a lot of Sufi movements in Britain and a lot of Sufi leaning scholars from the US frequently travel even I think the imbiah would have benefited from these policies, these are Western policies to promote people who align with them and of course,
people who dis aligned with them with this book. In fact, it is a simple philosophy which all countries adopt, even today, as again, we promote those Muslim scholars in the US who are sympathetic to him, and he will ignore those who are not. So the as you can see, with the all day one is going in settling in Turkey today. So these are things that government does, but to say that American foreign policy is like and will soon have the way Muslims understand Islam today and practice Islam today is going to, if it's family, traditions of for strong and normative to me also adherent to this wonderful tradition of Islamic law and then they should not be you know, moving
away from it, because of US foreign policy, either you say that they have moved away because of US foreign policy, and then acknowledge that they have moved away and therefore they are in the wrong and therefore need reform. Because you can't maintain both at the same time saying that all the horrible things that you see are a consequence of and a reaction to Western foreign policy. And then say all the horrible things that you think are horrible are actually normative Sunni Islam and that is the problem with with this logic, I think that that that yes, there is a huge impact of Western power. All Muslims are interpreting their Deen
you know, even the idea of when we talk about the concept of tau ie the oneness of Allah when we translate the unity of God, we are opposing the idea of trinity of God. So yes, the
the ideas of others also helps people redefine their own ideas. But I think that the Islamic tradition is sufficiently strong has a strong intellectual base has a huge 1000 1400 year history not to be shaken by this little country which has popped up just a couple of 100 years ago, whose very identity itself is not clear and American yasir Qadhi is an American. So it is our ideas which are part of American ideas. Ilhan Omar is the Congresswoman and so on and so forth and our president in the election for faith in Sharla. So that is the whole thing that American tradition is not completely divorced of Muslims today. And so I think yes, there is an impact of reaction to wealth,
which has been going on for 200 years since the Muslims lost to the British in 1857. and India was colonized and the rise of Aligarh Muslim University, there is a reaction. If you look at the world for avani, and others to Western imperialism and globally, it is actually a reaction to Western superior military and material power, showing what you're unable to cope with the fact that they dominate the world and we don't dominate the world. But having said that, we can't just blame everybody else. For our reality. We have to take some responsibility. Without taking responsibility. We will never have agency. Yeah. And Doctor, thank you so much, Dr. Khan, and I want to give a Dr.
Sarah pantawid, the last word but I also want to include in a question that is directed to you, Dr. Tantawi. So an audience member says Dr. Sarris concept of acting from role of children that makes such internal and external manipulations possible slash profitable so the question is, um,
How can we engage these post colonial realities more constructively? Hmm.
Well, I think we have to tell the truth for one thing. So I can't speak about Pakistan. But one question I would have would be why are clerics so involved in the makings of the states? Let's go back and talk about how that became the case. I can speak a little bit more about Egypt and this idea, and you know, I've been hearing it now, it's been the academic orthodoxy for 30 years. The only reason we have the rise of Islamist movements is because of the military dictatorships that radicalized the Islamist movements.
You know, it's actually a dynamic relationship. So if you look at Egypt, a coalition of Egyptians, Christians, liberals, nationalists, Islamist, got together and formed a coalition to get the British out of Egypt. And then they had a read, it's a longer story. But the Republic was founded as a secular Republic, a secular Arab Republic at the time, so that all people could enjoy basic rights. Now, that's, of course didn't happen. But here's the problem is that Islamist groups, and sometimes they don't admit this, but Islam as groups, most of them ultimately want to take over the state. Ultimately, we believe that they are not fulfilling their role. And they're not fulfilling the
Sharia unless they take over the state, unless it is ruled by an Islamic State. And I would imagine that this is what's happening in Pakistan at the bottom of some of these movements. So in the case of Egypt, it's not so much that it was just a horrible dictatorship that just went and attacked Islam. It's all the time, Islam is wanting to take over the state, right people. So this is what happened again, and again and again. And then what happens is that the state isn't very the military state isn't perhaps the most intelligent, they go and shoot them down and oppress them and put them in jail, they've come out stronger, they try to take over the state again, then they get it's the
same story over and over and over. So one thing we have to get on the table is whether we accept the concept of a secular state, do you accept the concept that there should be a state that is that is, you don't have to call it secular? You can call it whatever you want. It can be an amalgam that is created by those people themselves. But do you accept a state that is not run by the Sharia? Because I can tell you, in the places I study Nigeria and Egypt, most people do not want Sharia. And it's not because they are not Muslim. It's not because they're not God fearing, it's because they live in pluralist societies, and they live in pluralist societies. They don't think it would be fair to the
Christians to the animist to the non Muslims, etc. They also In addition, do not trust the clerics. Look what happened in Iran. Okay, look, talk to the Iranian refugee community in the diaspora here in the United States, and get their opinion of how Islamic they think that the state is in Iran. This, this is reality. This is reality. And sometimes what we talk about in academia is not reality. The reality is, these are very, very, very oppressive movements, the Sharia states, and there's no exception that I can think of. And so that's what people are reacting against. So the problem is, it's not just these innocent internal conversations. I mean, they're very influential on the Muslim
masses. But this is a power game, you want a lot of people so that you can have a lot of power, the way to have a lot of people is to keep things simple, to not reform to not to not uplift most the Muslim world into into a situation that would be better for the people. Right, that you have to understand that there's power behind these games. And some of these, some of these people doing this actually want to take over the states. That's reality. I mean, in every case, they just don't admit it a lot of the time, but it's the truth.
Thank you doctor has done that. We, I am very mindful of the time if we are way past our closing time, but I think that is because of the the amazing and incredible wisdom of our three speakers who are very dynamic who've contributed so much to the conversation. So I'd like to just thank them all each one of them for their very varying perspectives. We had promised a an interesting, provocative conversation and I hope that people were able to benefit from it. So again, Doctor yes at bazi doctor mother, hon. Dr. Sara Elton Bobby, thank you so much for your varying perspectives. I learned a lot and I hope everybody else did as well. We will have a recording of this available in a few
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