The Four Intellectual Journeys of Mulla Sadr Ad-Din Shirazi

 

السفر الاول

A Commentary on the First Premise: The First Journey 

by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

“وهو الذي الخلق الي الحق في النظر الي طبيعة الوجود وعوارضه الذاتية وفه مسالك.”

“And He is of those of creation [then] to The Reality wherein gazing upon the Seal of Existence and His Presence is immediate and in it [he] is one coursing [the path.]”

 Here, Mullah Sadr makes the point about the First Intellectual Journey. He does so with a simple premise: “He is of those of creation.” That we are ‘of those’, i.e., all life forms created, is self-evident. We are symbiotically related to all life forms on earth and maybe other life forms on other living or dead planets.

 PROOFS

An aspect of our existence is a mixture of atoms, molecules, and bacteria. That mix of biochemistry culminates in the development of our central Nervous system. It is structured to develop outwardly and to experience by mediation outwardly three-dimensionally, i.e., spatially and temporally; it is not developed to know immediately- inwardly extra-dimensionally.

Secondarily, that we are of this creation is self-evident because we are literally dependent upon minerals including certain gases for nutrition as well as upon sense impressions by means of which we orient our bodies by time and in space.  Intellectually, we are dependent upon sense impressions to form concepts of things we symbolically identify in our environments. Language is the greatest example of our symbolic life of the mind.

 The Limitations of Sense Impressions

We each have different orientations in the world. That is so because our sense impressions are different and limited by varying degrees of personal sensitivity. We are thus hampered not only by blurred vision and inaudible sounds but also by correspondingly vague conceptual clarity. More often than not, that results in defective reasoning and judgments. We find it very difficult to agree on almost every other persons’ description of nature. We are always in need of some extra technological assistance to artificially light the path before each step we take. We are never certain about our circumstances. We literally do not know ‘where’ we are let alone ‘when’ we are. So, we improvise measures of time and space and pretend by consensus to be oriented rightly. But generally, we are not oriented rightly.

Our Origin in The World

Neither do we know the nature of our origin in the world. Did we originate chemically here on earth? Did we originate chemically on some other planet? Did we originate chemically in some remote region of the solar system or galaxy? Is our soul an epiphenomenon of our biological birth into the world? Or did our soul get infused into the world extra-dimensionally in an immeasurably short moment when the forty-six chromosomes from our parent’s paired and united?

The Quran answers paradoxically both yes and no. We are from water[1] and we were thrown down “…Radadnahu Asfala Safaleen رددنه أسفل سفلين”[2]. We are both light and darkness. That being so, was our conception by chance or was our conception predetermined? We don’t know the answers to those questions and it may be logically impossible even by use of our most advanced scientific methods to discover the answers to those questions because we cannot follow the chain of causality back in time and space to that moment the material universe came into being. But this we do know. This sphere of creation has a degree of luminosity that is very low and which is dependent on power sources we call stars and atoms or technology. It is a place that is analogous to a ghetto street lighted by a dim lamppost because within this four-dimensional place we are not in the Light of Reality. As we move farther from the source of light we are increasingly surrounded by darkness until darkness becomes impenetrable. It is impenetrable darkness because we are away; we are not in the Perfect Unchanging Present Tense Existence.[3] Mullah Sadr alludes to that by the phrase: “… [therein] His Presence is Immediate…”.[4]  Yet, though we are repulsed to a lowly state, we are simultaneously attracted to Allah. Thus, we are driven by our attraction to Allah to journey to the Reality out from this fractionalized place but not physically, rather extra-dimensionally by and through our minds. Therein lies the purpose of salat. Salat is the mind’s means to Allah.

We are surrounded by dark matter shrouding dimly lighted stars. Over spans of time in billions and maybe trillions of years, trillions of stars are born, flicker for a moment in comparison to the age of the multiverse, then they burn out. Our vision is turned toward the edge of nothingness. We make our way in what light illumines the path before us aware that we are always stalked by dark shadows. We are terribly isolated, alone, unconsciously insecure, and in fact, with most of the time spent in our lives, we are quantitatively more autonomic[5] than conscious.[6]

Why are We Here?

A better question for us to ask would be: ‘Now that I am here, what should I do?’ There is an explicit moral implication in that question.    First, it is self-evident, we are in this earthly sphere because we are an ongoing effect of it in it. We are an effect of an ongoing complex chain of non-linear causes. We each carry the impress of those causes in our bodily chemistry. For example, we are more bacterial than we are cellular.[7] In relation to our environments, we continually receive its impressions as does a soft substance being continually cut by a harder substance.

Outwardly, we mirror many of its characteristics. We are often fooled into thinking that our mirror image is our identity. But our physical body is not our authentic identity. The body is literally ‘unconscious’, but paradoxically it is also a pathway or tunnel that leads out of the body because but for our birth into this world we would have no chance to, as Mullah Sadr states, “…gaze upon the Seal of Existence…” If men and women remain physical, then they remain as unconscious as all other things around them for a time. Then they die. Death means absolute impossibility and thus non-probability.

Mind or Soul, separate from the body, is our authentic identity. But we have no guarantee that we will become a free mind or soul. The body was born into the natural world simultaneously living and dying; simultaneously being and not-being. But mind or soul can live forever in the unmixed Light of Allah. Eternal life is the act of thinking in extra-dimensional consciousness if the soul can as Mullah Sadr said: ‘course the pathway’ out of this world.

 CONCLUSIONS ON THE THESIS OF THE FIRST JOURNEY

This outer sphere of creation is resistant to Divine Light because it inheres a necessary privation due to its grade in the creation. Thus, here, we generally experience a low emanation of Divine Light through our minds. Here, the ‘…Seal of Existence…” can only be known partially or in a narrowly framed consciousness which is heavily shrouded in sensation, perception, and reasoning. All three faculties preempt certain knowledge (ilm-ul-Yaqin) of Allah but such faculties are at the same time necessary for our orientation in and through our experience here.

We were born along in a biotic stream into this sphere of existence by chance and set afloat. We assume the form and characteristics of this four-dimensional creation as a stream must assume the shape and contours of the banks it courses through. We are both in the biotic stream and of the biotic stream. Our burden is to struggle against its unconscious power which is both in us and around us.

We were born with the potentiality to autonomically develop the anatomical skills necessary to live out our natural life to its term.

We were born with the potential to react automatically- biologically, emotionally, and imaginatively to things and life forms around us.

We were born with the potential to rationally categorize sense impressions, to form concepts, and to make logically derived judgments about the relationship between things in space and through time as well as to form mental concepts which permanently signify things in our minds.

We were born with the inherent potential to construct and participate in a virtual reality of mind shared by and with potentially unlimited numbers of other human beings. For some souls, it is the first step along an Intellectual Journey that will consciously lead them to the Beatific Vision of Allah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Quran, Sura 23, Mu’minun, Ayat: 13: “We then placed him as a sperm-drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed…”

[2] Quran, “Thereupon, We repulsed him, low of the those lowly. Sura: At-Tin, Ayat 5

[3] The Perfect Present Tense is the Eternal Now.  Sura: Al-Ikhlas, Ayat 2“Allahu-Samad..”

[4] Italic mine

[5] The Autonomic Nervous System; both sympathetic and parasympathetic.

[6] Add the time you sleep to the time that you are reacting instinctually (unconsciously) then compare that sum to the time you are conscious. See the ratio of sleep to wakefulness. We are sleepwalking most of the time.

[7] The bacterial to cellular ratio is 9:1. This underscores the Quranic phrase: “radadnahu safala safaleen…”

THOU SHALT NOT WAGE A RELIGIOUS CRUSADE IN THE NAME OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

 

Crusade 1

Millions of right wing religious and secular conservatives in the Republican party are increasing their push to repress Islam and Muslims in the United States. Those same people and the media which propagandize their views are also voices for war against Islam and therefore against all Muslims in the world. Except for the exercise of their own right to freedom of speech, Donald Trump’s (and Republicans like him) proposed State and Federal policies for Muslims are unconstitutional because they would restrict Muslim speech and are thus tyrannical by definition.  

Those same people and media intentionally ignore those parts of the first amendment which do not serve their immediate political agenda but nevertheless run parallel to the right to free speech.

Muslims may practice their religious beliefs in the United States because “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”. Here, the preposition ‘respecting’ means that no ‘religious beliefs’ in the United States can be legally recognized as a natural nor legal person under the law. A religious belief is not constitutionally required to be incorporated under States’ corporate laws and thus need not be a ‘legal person’. The term ‘establishment’ means simply ‘articulable beliefs’ even in the absence of any concrete infrastructure.

For example, a specific set of religious beliefs cannot be sued in civil court. Nor can a warrant be issued under the fourth amendment to arrest a ‘religious belief’ to appear in a criminal court because all religious beliefs operate outside the jurisdiction of both civil and criminal law. That is what it means to have ‘religious freedom’ in the United States. Therefore, Islamic beliefs held by persons in the United States cannot be criminalized nor can ‘Islamic beliefs’ be named as a tortfeasor in a civil complaint. 

Islam as a set of beliefs cannot be legally prohibited from being believed by people and Islamic beliefs cannot be prohibited from being practiced in the United States and its protectorates. That is so because only ‘natural persons’ who commit an act which violates a State or Federal statute, or crime against humanity can be arrested and denied freedom under either State or Federal criminal law. 

Crusade 2

No ‘natural person’ who commits a crime in the name of a particular religion can be charged in the name of his or her religion; only a person or group of persons can be charged with violation of a clearly defined criminal statute. Further, beliefs cannot be criminally charged because neither state nor federal law can ‘recognize’ the ‘beliefs’ of a religion.

Islamic faith is not a natural or legal person. Therefore, only an individual or corporation that commits a criminal act can be held responsible even though he or she or it may claim to be Islamic. For Islamic religious beliefs cannot ‘act’ to commit crimes. Nor can Islamic religious beliefs form an ‘intent’ to commit a criminal act. Both common law and statutory law clearly state that only natural persons and legal persons can form an intent and commit an act that violates a State or Federal criminal statute.

Therefore, it would be unconstitutional for any state or for the federal government to indict a natural person as being identical to a ‘religious belief’ or to indict a religious belief as being identical to a ‘natural or legal person’.  Such a distinction between a person’s actions and his or her ‘religious beliefs’ is a manifestation of the legal superiority of the first amendment precept of separation of church and state. A man or woman cannot be detained nor killed for his or her religious beliefs. 

Neither would it be constitutional under the first amendment for the federal government to wage war against Islam anywhere for crimes committed by an individual or group of individuals even though those people may claim to be adherents to Islamic beliefs. For to wage war against Islam everywhere would be to wage war not against natural persons but against ‘Islamic religious beliefs’ and the idea which gives rise to those beliefs and therefore it would be war against all Muslims in the United States, too.

THE BRIDGE OF MISERY: BETWEEN THE PRESIDENCY AND THE CATHEDRAL IN CAMEROON, by Kifon Emile, M.A.

Cameroon-Presidential-palace2

Two important edifices exist in Cameroon which define, to a great extent, the whole sociological architecture of the country – the cathedral and the presidency. The first is found at the center and like the force of gravity pulls all other things around it as a God and keeper of the nation. While the second, found about three miles away, constitutes the concentration of all the political forces that supposedly hold the nation together. But there are not two centers of gravity. In reality, despite the fact that the two operate in theory as separate entities, they constitute a continuum of harmonized inter-dependency linked together by a slippery tangent called control – or in its popular usage, power.

Head of the Black Church

The cathedral, epicenter of the Catholic Church in Cameroon under the Archbishop on Yaounde, sets the tone for religious policy with regards to its relation to the State as well as the population. The presidency, on the other hand, is the heart of politics, residence of the president where he dictates the political climate. By understanding how both structures function, it is possible to know how the country operates. When Yaounde is breathing, Cameroon is alive remains a popular expression demonstrating the paramount role of the nation’s capital.

However, despite the fact that these are important institutions, it should be mentioned that the most important part is what lies between the presidency and the cathedral – the people. Their fate remains suspended and trapped in a system where rules have been displaced from the traditional settings in favor of dubious practices.   So, by illustrating the constitutive nature of power in these structures 1.) It shall be possible to elaborate on how they enhance the exclusion of the people and 2.) It shall be possible to elaborate on how they thereby produce a strange outcome of exchange of competences to the detriment of the public.

  1. Mutually exclusive poles in a mutually constitutive power anatomy

In the preamble of the Constitution of Cameroon 2008, it is specified that “the State shall be circular. The neutrality of the State in respect to all religions shall be guaranteed.” This proviso has become a characteristic of most modern States since their origin of 16th Century divorce from medieval monolithic religious societies, kingdoms and monarchies. With the exception of a few States which are defined essentially by religion [Vatican, Saudi Arabia and to some extent Israel], most modern States, in order to fulfil this post medieval ideal usually define themselves as secular, even when in practice things may not be as simple.

Islam and Christianity are the main monotheistic religions of Cameroon. Nominally, approximately 70% of Cameroonians are Christians, of which about 38% are Catholics, while about 20% are Muslims. Because the Catholic Church is the main centralized religious body in Cameroon, semantically and technically, it is the main body that appears to have some direct and continuous ties with government authorities, at all levels. It should be added that the president, Paul Barthelemy Biya Bi Mvondo, who has been in power for 33 years, is also a catholic. He had been in the Catholic seminary before being dismissed in the early years, of his studies. His father, Etienne Mvondo Assam, was a catechist by profession for the same institution.

Given that the president is a Catholic, it is easy for him to maintain close ties with the main centralized religious organ in Cameroon which would serve him both politically and religiously

But why talk about the religion of the president? Eric Mathias Owona describes the presidential regime as pontifical and in some cases as a principality. In a presidential republic and pontificate State, where the president rules ad vitam, his personal choices resonates a vertical influence over his government as well as a collegial complicity with leaders of the religion of his choice.

The collegial complicity with leaders of religion enables him to exert institutional control over the people through indirect religious hypnosis thereby consolidating the authoritarian democracy. Or, should this be called an authoritarian dictatorship? In principle, the success of assembling, in a deconstructive way, judicial-legislative resources to conform to executive wishes may give the understanding that it is an authoritarian democracy. In practice, however, by taking into consideration that the president governs by decree and exerts tremendous control over all governmental institutions, the regime is more of an authoritarian dictatorship perhaps of a modern style.

As a result, we end up with just the belief that State and religion are separate as stipulated by the constitution. But in practice, they constitute a simple continuum of influence over the population where triggers can be generated either at political or religious levels to produce the same effect.

Divide and rule is a common strategy of control but in an authoritarian system unifying power structures can  be just as effective. But the worst part is when these structures don’t benefit the population they are constitutionally bound to serve.

The-people-of-the-Cameroon-show-respect-to-Pope-Benedict-boston.com_

  1. Dynamics of concerted exclusion of a frustrated populace

Three miles separate from the cathedral is the presidency in the metropolitan city of Yaounde. The cathedral where the archbishop presides his religious ceremonies is technically open but semantically closed. That is, it has just a few physical barriers to deter wanderers but everyone is welcome to enter and pray. One door of the cathedral is usually open, and in most hours of the morning and evening most of the doors are open for other religious services and those who wish to pray to their God: “let the children come to me, for unto these belong the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 19:14).

With a poverty level of almost 40% (2007), most of those who come to Church are around the poverty line. The Church welcomes them with phrases like “blessed are the poor…” and “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). In practice, those who go to Church always hope to please God while thinking that their temporal situation will be made better here on earth. And rightfully so, they pray, offer tithes, and pay dues – which in the archdiocese of Yaoundé was recently increased in order to meet charges that were not properly defined.

Regrettably, a considerable amount of monetary contributions that are made to the Church do not serve the purpose for which it has given. In July 2013, amidst the greatest corruption scandal in recent Cameroon Church history, the Archbishop was forced by the Vatican to resign in the hope of restoring the hope of the people in its failing hierarchy.

In such a complex situation where Christians do not feel that the Church is advancing their welfare, most turn to the State for comfort. It should be mentioned that most of those who come to church have already been discouraged by the strong presidential regime and weak government.  Again, with another disappointment from the Church, they turn to the State and one of the closest structures is the presidency of the Republic.

However, access to the presidency is virtually impossible. Despite its closeness, it is heavily guarded by the GP (Guard Presidentielle) including a big fence. In this case, it is technically closed but semantically open. That is, in theory, the public is made to believe that the authorities of the nation are there for the public, to listen to them and to address their difficulties. But this is far from reality. The president is almost absent from all national life, with only sporadic appearances on national Television to read a speech to a public he doesn’t know. There is a real disconnection between the people and its authorities.

As a result, the little distance which separates the presidency and the Cathedral appears, evidently, to be the nature of what separates the Cameroonian populace from the power structures which need to promote their welfare. Consequently, like rebounds of a non-reward psychological mechanism, the people turn back unto themselves, frustrated, without trust in themselves, nor in the church or in the government. This is evident by the life of duplicity in which most people become attuned: going to church without any intention to be a better person or living in a nation without a desire to serve it honestly. Corruption, as an endemic crisis in Cameroon can be deduced from the mechanism of suspended misery: neither in “God” [Church] nor in the government do they find solace [position 136 on 174 countries, with a score of 27 on 100]. This gets even deeper – citizens grow to lose trust in one another thereby threatening social cohesion and growth. All these are visible in the lane separating the cathedral from the presidency. Despite the fact that both poles concentrate wealth and comfort, this lane is full of jobless people who wander along the streets; others standing on the road side with their tools while hoping to get hired by someone to do a temporary job or those illegally subcontracting government services to citizens who duly deserve them. It is also a lane of insecurity, vulnerability and despair – just the symbol of the country as a whole.

The perpetual rule of the centralized government of Cameroon which is the cause of this social disequilibrium has created another system which has not been sufficiently explored. It is the fact that political power governs with religious authority while religious power rules with political power. It is a strange power structure not before seen in many countries and where the citizens end up – as always – in suspended misery.

  • Sociopolitical exchange of roles: the intercourse between religious and political power

At the heart of social despair is an economic problem rooted in misappropriation of roles both in the religious milieu as well as in the political sector. The classical roles generally attributed to the State do not necessarily hold true for the State of Cameroon nor  for the Church. Below is a table which summarizes how the State governs with religious principles while the Church has been ruling using political strategy.

Religion [epicenter –  cathedral] Politics [epicenter – the presidency]
1. Theology of the present [joy and happiness are hear] 1. Politics of the future [perpetual wait for change in the future]
2. Power is politically charged, elected 2. Power is religious and mystical: “Power comes from above”
3. Faults, errors are sanctioned 3. Corruptions, crimes are pardoned
4. The divine becomes man incarnate 4. Man becomes the divine [perpetual rule]
5. Power decentralized [independent management of dioceses] 5. Power centralized [authoritarian dictatorship]
6. Uses reason, rationality 6. Applies more and more faith, belief and blind truth
7. Motion of disagreement [encourage the good ones to stay and the bad ones to go] 7. Motion of support [support the perpetual ruler to rule even longer]
8. People play the role of citizens, and practice boycott 8. People play the role of ‘faithful’ and in most cases forbidden to strike
9. People learn to claim their rights 9. Political practice is ruled by rites
10. God more and more absent 10. God more and more present
11. Money more and more present 11. Money more and more absent
12. Policy analysts and strategists consulted 12. Prophets, kings and mystiques involved
13. Defined mandates well respected 13. Perpetual mandate
14. Governs by dogma (just belief) 14. Governs by decree (just listen and apply)
15. Leaders forced to resign 15. Leaders made to stay in power ad vitam [gerontocracy]

 

As illustrated in the above, the population has been made to accept inadmissible political practices where the executive leader is vested with an unlimited mandate for the presidency. Like a pontiff, he rules unilaterally over all other institutions which he has crafted to conform to his personal standards. This happens in a context where the archbishop resigned due to accusations of mismanagement of funds or the case of Pope Benedict XVI who resigned from an office which is supposedly made to be held for life. It is not uncommon to find corrupt leaders who get promoted and get rewarded with better appointments in the Biya regime.

Can this scenario explain the social and economic inertia of the country? Certainly, to a great extent. When political mobility is uncertain and religious credibility overthrown, it follows that the economic fluidity experienced by the public under the State of law would be jeopardized and at worst remain in misery.

Unlocking the infinite potentials of a nation cannot be done in a locked governmental system. A system that knows no variability. Neither can it grow in a religious context that has learned to survive with ruse, using political strategies while relegating religious protocols strictly to altar services. If change is the essence of society, then the government is criminal while the Church is complicit in its practice as they exploit a population that is ignorant of its own misery.

A QUESTION THE HADITH DOES NOT ANSWER: by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

 Hadith 1

Can the practice of slavery in the Muslim world be tolerated by Muslims? That question and the lack of a definitive answer from Muslims has caused a divide between African American descendants of slaves and Muslim communities.

Pan-Africanists, Afro-centrists, Socialists, Secularists, and African Pagan scholars who are descendants of slaves have long voiced their animosity toward Arab and Turkish Muslims because their ancestors endorsed and participated in a ruthless African slave trade for many centuries. Some of them make their arguments against Islam based upon malicious motives and feelings but the issue itself is rightly expressed and warrants a response.

It is morally imperative that Muslim scholars and jurists directly address the issue of slavery to those communities because the historical fact is that some Muslims did practice slavery and some Muslims still think that the enslavement of human beings is sanctioned by both the Quran and Hadith.  

arab_slaverholdingafricans

It is an incontrovertible fact that Black Africans were enslaved, raped, tortured, and murdered, by Sunni Arabs, Orthodox Christians, and Sunni Ottoman Turks during the rise of Islamic empires and their fall. The leaders of those empires justified the institution of slavery on one or more of the 12 or 13 Hadiths or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). But the truth is that the rich and powerful of those empires were greedy and ambitious men who had insatiable appetites for worldly luxuries and used slavery as a way to drive their economies and thereby satisfy their lusts.  But what now in the 2100 century?

I have often thought what would Malcolm X say today about the indorsement and institutionalization of slavery by Muslims in the past and present?

I think that he would argue, having been a descendent of slaves himself, that even though slavery was sanctioned as permissible (Halal) 1400 years ago by both the Quran and Hadith its place in the Muslim community has always a dubious one.

One example is prostitution. Prostitution is illegal in Muslims societies. Prostitution is an act by a male or female whereby they sell their body to another for money. Here the ‘body’ is used by a buyer for their sexual gratification. It is a kind of human enslavement. Here, the logical contradiction is clear. Some forms of slavery cannot be tolerated as moral while at the same time other forms of slavery are criminalized.

Another example can be found in both the Quran and Hadith. Both are ambiguous concerning the practice of slavery. On the one hand the Quran sanctions slavery and yet on the other hand it says the enslavement of a human being is contrary to the relation of a human creature to Allah. 

For example, the Quran lays down the fundamental premise regarding slavery: “It is unacceptable for a mortal that Allah should give him the Book and the wisdom and ‘Nabuwah’ (prophethood), then he should say to men: Be my slaves rather than Allah’s;… “.[3:79]Here, the Quran forbids slavery to Muslims, Christians, and Hebrews; and in no uncertain terms, the Quran states that all souls belong to Allah.

Clearly, a general principle in the Quran takes precedence over all particular ancient tribal customs and voids them when such practices are contrary to it or contradict it. 

We know that slavery predated the origin of Islam and its first community. We further know that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) freed slaves himself.

The practice of slavery was contradicted on many occasions when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) freed slaves for many different reasons including to prevent crimes against humanity, for marriage, for conversion to Islam, and as a penalty against Muslim slave owners who committed acts of human cruelty.

Egyptian_Slavemaster_and_Slave

Slavery in Islam therefore was not then nor is now a doctrinal pillar of Islam nor did Islamic law legally ever qualify some human beings as being inferior by nature and thus subject to perpetual servitude.

Historically, systemic slavery was an economic innovation instituted by the Abbasid Empire (748-1258 C.E.) for exactly the same reasons the Roman Empire instituted slavery.  To generate wealth.

Arab Slavers

“As the plantation economy boomed and the Arabs became richer, agriculture and other manual labor work was thought to be demeaning. The resulting labor shortage led to an increased slave market.

It is certain that large numbers of slaves were exported from eastern Africa; the best evidence for this is the magnitude of the Zanj revolt in Iraq in the 9th century, though not all of the slaves involved were Zanj. There is little evidence of what part of eastern Africa the Zanj came from, for the name is here evidently used in its general sense. The Zanj were needed to take care of the Tigris-Euphrates delta, which had become abandoned marshland as a result of peasant migration and repeated flooding, [which] could be reclaimed through intensive [slave] labor. Wealthy proprietors “had received extensive grants of tidal land on the condition that they would make it arable.”  The rise of Shīʻa Islam [in an anti-slavery movement] also occurred around this time …”[i]

Nevertheless, the issue today is whether or not Muslim scholars and jurists can overcome their silence concerning slavery and make fatwa or opinions to the whole world against slavery in the world?

Furthermore, can Muslims engage in discussions about slavery in the Muslim world and not be charged with committing Bid’dah or harmful innovation?

I believe that Muslim scholars and jurists or ulema can come out of the deep dark intellectual hole surrounding the issue of slavery; I believe that Malcolm X would have made the argument that slavery is absolutely and categorically forbidden in Islam and that its practice is a crime against humanity.

I add that it is also necessary that individual Muslims everywhere disavow slavery. I think Muslims should because the enslavement of human beings is the practice of tyranny and oppression and Islam is against oppression. To pretend to be the master over another human being as property when Allah is the only Master over all of humanity is an act of defiance against God.

Furthermore, the practice of making people slaves voids one’s claim to be a Muslim. All the prayers of such a person will fall like lead balls onto the ground. There is a legal basis under Sharia Law to make this clear.

I have heard many Muslims argue on the basis of Hadith or the ‘Book of Sayings’ of the Prophet that slavery is justified simply because it is qualified as permissible in both the Hadith and the Quran.

If you counter their arguments for slavery then some of them go so far as to claim that you are committing ‘Bidah’ or innovation which is a change contrary to Islam or they claim that you are not Mujtahid (one qualified to give opinion on Hadith and Quran.) Then I’ve seen them walk away and instead of getting on a horse they get in their car, a bad innovation, and drive away.

They drive away without the least concern that they are tearing the ‘fitrah’ (Fitra, or fitrah, in Arabic) or fabric of creation by poisoning the environment we all depend upon to live with carbon dioxide.  

Those kind of Muslims deny any argument on the basis of ‘bid’ah hasana’. ‘Bid’dah Hasana’ means ‘good innovation’. Good innovations are permissible in Islam. Yet those same kinds of people claim to be for what is good and claim that they have faith in Allah. But the truth is, you cannot claim to fight against injustice everywhere while at the same time you preserve an unjust practice upon others in the form of slavery. Those two orientations are mutually exclusive. You either stand for justice or you stand for injustice.

According to the Holy Quran and the Hadith, the practice of taking slaves in Islam was neither obligatory in times of peace nor war. Muslims were not compelled by law to own slaves. What is not obligatory need not be practiced. Therefore, slavery can be banned in the Muslim community because it is not necessary.

Neither can it be argued rightly that the practice of taking slaves was ‘highly recommended’ or ‘Mustahabb’ for Muslims because over ninety percent of Muslims in the past did not own slaves nor aspire to do so. Nor did official policies exists as incentives to encourage Muslims to aspire to own slaves.

It can be argued that enslaving other human beings in the past was generally frowned upon. It thus could be classified as ‘offensive’, ‘detestable’, or ‘abominable’ ‘Makrooh’ (Arabic) because of the unavoidable cruelty or oppression to another human being which follows. That would have qualified Arab, Turkish or Muslim slave traders as immoral and to have been practitioners of what is evil called forbidden in Islam at that time as well as today. 

For example, countless thousands of African boys who were enslaved from southern Sudan and Congo were taken to slave markets in Cairo, Egypt. There they would be auctioned like animals to Turkish slave traders. But, before being auctioned the African boys would be castrated. Most of them would die from bleeding to death or from infection. Those who didn’t die would be auctioned to Ottoman Turks who then would assign them to the harams of rich Turks and in the palace of the Ottoman Sultan. Muslims were not alone in this barbaric practice.

Here is a scholarly account, and I quote: “The concubines were guarded by enslaved eunuchs, themselves often from pagan Africa. While Islamic law forbade the emasculation of a man, Ethiopian Christians had no such compunctions; thus, they enslaved and emasculated members of territories to the south and sold the resulting eunuchs to the Ottoman Porte.[29][30] The Coptic Orthodox Church participated extensively in the slave trade of eunuchs. Coptic priests sliced the penis and testicles off boys around the age of eight in a castration operation.[31] The eunuch boys were then sold in the Ottoman Empire. The majority of Ottoman eunuchs endured castration at the hands of the Copts at Abou Gerbe monastery on Mount Ghebel Eter.[31] Slave boys were captured from the African Great Lakes region and other areas in Sudan like Darfur and Kordofan then sold to customers in Egypt.[23][29] 

During the operation, the [Christian] Coptic clergyman chained the boys to tables and after slicing their sexual organs off, stuck bamboo catheters into the genital area, then submerged them in sand up to their necks. The recovery rate was 10 percent. The resulting eunuchs fetched large profits in contrast to eunuchs from other areas.”[32][33][34][ii]

That practice was a crime against humanity and the people who practiced it were evil and thus are not qualified to be remembered as Muslims nor Christians.

Every Muslim scholar in the United States and Jurists such as the Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb of Al-Azhar in Egypt and   the Chief Imam Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais of Masjid al-Haram in Mecca are advised to make fatwas against the practice of slavery.  Today, the Arab and Turkish world has decayed beyond regeneration. The handwriting is on the wall; when you institute mass dehumanization there are two losers. The victims and the abusers.

 

 

[i] Wikipedia

[ii] Wikipedia

IN MEMORY OF: THE MOST HONORABLE MALCOLM X, AL HAJJ MALIK AL SHABAZZ

Malcolm Lecturn

We all have dreams and aspirations to reach up for the stars. But under the stars and your dreams there are gun towers. Those gun towers cast long dark shadows on the yard to block the light of the stars from your view. They are instruments of repression which imprison you. They always have you in the cross hairs of their scope.

The towers rise high above the yard and from every corner of them extend  dark rifle muzzles  from shaded rooms behind which are nameless faceless shooters ready to take aim at any one who would have the courage to ascend the wall to take their freedom.  So we see the Michael Browns, the Eric Garners, and thousands of others like them taken down.

Sporadically, we all walk our yard and when we do we step into and out of lines of fire as do miniature figurines in a shooting gallery. 

It is a mind boggling experience to watch the endless procession of hapless men and women. We are that procession of people who continue generation after generation spewing forth from all the four horizons of the world to converge on a yard wherein we like peas in a pod live out our lives indistinguishable one from the other.

But there are deeper connections between us. We see and feel those connections every day. We are on some kind of conveyor belt a kind of assembly line.

It rolls us along a feedback loop between the prisons and our neighborhoods. It sweeps whole families away.  We are related to each other by blood and even if we are not then we are interconnected by a common subconscious mind which binds us to a network of fractured images. Such are the kinds of images which continually distort our perception of reality as would happen to one in a carnival’s house of mirrors. We see our reflections.

Faces are young and old. They play the same old roles consigned to them over and over again generation after generation. Typecast our energy is not our own it is continually sapped from us as oil is pumped from deep beneath the earth.

We are the lumpenproliteriate. The prison yard is our estate. But the illusion is such that we are not aware that the estate which we have inherited is bankrupt. We like Malcolm X have come to know that our estate is one wherein we should expect poverty. And what of the experience of our dear brother Malcolm X?

Did Malcolm X know that he was a figurine? A whatnot, a caricature of a man?  Was he such a thing having no power of self-animation? Was he a thing to be forever moved by inimical forces? The forces which giveth and taketh away?

The young Malcolm lost his civil rights and even more importantly he lost the power of his soul. Those two are the elements which great philosophers celebrate as the context of all relations between government and its citizens.

It as a way of life based upon a simple proposition. Government cannot be the context of human relations between it and the citizens who created it. Citizens don’t live in government because government is an idea in the mind of its citizens. Government, therefore, is a momentary choice citizens make about what government should be as citizens live their lives free, outside of government.

How does it happen that Malcolm X walked the yard in the line of fire? By what rule of logic does such an inversion from citizen over government to government over citizen take place? And can it be reversed?

Malcolm X must have pondered that his situation was a contradiction of all that we say is a man and woman’s inherent right. That incarcerated he could not by his free will even expand his lungs to take in fresh air.

How repressed he must have felt in that  situation.  His dawning dreams forced down to the ground and mixed with his base impulses must have caused extreme confusion in his mind.

That kind of confusion can only occur in one’s mind when the concept of freedom is turned inside out by the voice and actions of one’s fears. Such is a life lived out of misdirected attachments to what one falsely concludes are worthy objects of attraction. But if one wants to change, then a decision to change one’s life is a crisis. For an effort by anyone to replace unworthy objects of attraction is full of danger.

To self-motivate is to rise above the gun towers by spiritual force alone. It means not to fear ideas. It means not to fear the capacity to dream. It means to risk death by his choice to be free. 

It is a risk that all courageous men and women have taken throughout history and it is the greatest risk that courageous men and women take to be free today. 

Malcolm X knew that to become free he must fight. He learned that the fight would be spiritual in nature. He knew he had to fight so that he could claim and exercise his inherent natural rights against all oppressive forces.  He knew that it would take not one, two, or even 10 rounds to fight, but that it would take a life time of struggle day in and day out.

 His decision must have made him intuit that any stall or step backward in his struggle would have put him in the line of fire and trigger a shot from the gun tower. But more importantly, his fight could not be a response to fear nor could it be a fight solely in response to the power of the shooter.

Rather, Malcolm X understood his fight had to emanate from a completely transformed subconscious mind in conjunction with a clear consciousness of freedom and the price which he had chosen to pay so that he could have it. 

You are on the yard, too and you are in for the fight of your life, too.  So, prisoner, have courage and fight. 

 Malcolm X Statue2