Sunday, April 17, 2005

Tariq Ramadan calls for worldwide halt to hudud

I'm of two minds on the Tariq Ramadan visa issue. On one side, I want my country to encourage academic freedom and the study of all cultures, however attractive or repellent they might be. On the other hand, as I want my country to be safe I believe that no non-American who preaches in favor of terrorism should be allowed to visit America. In any case, this time Ramadan has done something pretty good.

In an article printed on Dak Bangla, Tariq Ramadam calls on Muslims to Stop in the Name of Humanity!
Muslim societies and Muslims around the world are confronted with a fundamental issue: the application of the penalties linked to the Islamic penal code -- widely referred to as sharia or, in stricter terms, as hudud. I refer, of course to the practices of corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty applied in several countries in the name of Islamic law. ...

The majority of Muslim scholars (known as the ulama) are of the opinion that these penalties are, on the whole, Islamic but that the conditions required for their application are practically impossible to recreate (notably in regards to stoning). They are, therefore, almost never applicable.

One would have hoped that this conclusion would have served as a guarantee to protect women and men from repressive and unfair treatment; one would have wished that the stipulated conditions would be seen as an imperative to promote equality before the law and justice between humans by their respective governments and the legislators that speak in the name of Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Behind the current Islamic discourse lurks a sombre reality where women and men are punished, hit, stoned and executed in the name of hudud. This is occurring in the absence of the slightest emotion shown by the Muslim conscience throughout the world.

It is as if one does not know, as if a minor treason were being done to the Islamic teachings. The height of these injustices is that these penalties apply mainly to women and the poor -- doubly victimized -- never to the rich, the governing or to the oppressors. ...

There is today a quadruple crisis of closed and repressive political systems, religious authorities promoting contradictory requirements and uneducated populations swept up with more a feeling of religious fervour and passion than true reflection. These facts cannot legitimize our silence. We are accomplices and guilty when women and men are punished, stoned or executed in the name of a formalist application of the scriptural sources.

It leaves the responsibility to the Muslims of the entire world. It is for them to rise up to the challenge of remaining just to the message of Islam in the contemporary era; it is for them to denounce the failures and the treasons that are being carried out by certain authorities or Muslim individuals.

Taking into account all these considerations, we are launching today a call for an immediate international moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in all majority Muslim countries. ...

1. Muslim scholars are not in agreement on the interpretations given to the texts upon which these practices are based, nor do they agree on the required conditions in which they would be applicable. It is necessary, therefore, to have an open debate to immediately suspend these practices as there is no consensus on the matter.

2. The application of the hudud laws today is used by repressive powers to abuse women, the poor and political opponents within a quasi-legal vacuum and with a total disrespect for human dignity. The Muslim conscience cannot accept these denials of justice.

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