AMJA Declaration on Home Financing in America

* This declaration is taken from their website, here. It came after a conference where the different companies were invited and the scholars debated and discussed the details of each company’s offerings. The scholars who sit on the council are very knowledgeable and reputable. More info can be found here.

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

All praise are due to Allah alone and may the peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah. To proceed:

The AMJA Fiqh Committee Resident Fatwa Committee met in Houston on the 20-22 of Dhul-Qadah 1435 A.H. (September 15-17 2014 C.E.) in order to issue a resolution concerning Islamic Home Financing in the United States. This meeting took place after an entire conference had previously been held on this topic, in which papers were discussed in the presence and with the participation of representatives of most of the relevant companies. This was followed up by correspondence between the Resident Fatwa Committee  Fiqh Committee and those companies with an attempt to clarify and respond to the Shareeah issues that are present in their contracts. Sh. Jamaal Zarabozo (may Allah preserve him) also participated in this meeting in Houston.

After looking into the matter, the Committee Resident Fatwa Committee (RFC) decided upon, according to the majority of its members, the following resolution:

First, the Shareeah fundamentals concerning the companies that deal in Islamic home financing:

Companies that deal with Islamic home financing in the United States may be divided into three categories:

The first group is comprised of those companies whose contracts, in general, are in agreement with the Shareeah. They are assisted by the fact that they are not in need of selling their contracts to the Public government-sponsored enterprises  federal, interest-based organizations [such as Freddie Mac]; this gives them the freedom to design their contracts in a manner in accord with the Shareeah without facing any restrictions from Public government-sponsored enterprises  interest-based financing institutions. At the same time, though, it is noted that the capabilities of these companies are quite limited. They are able to supply houses in the tens [as opposed to the thousands]. Furthermore, their availability is limited to certain states. Thus, they are not truly able to fulfill the needs of the millions of Muslims who reside in America.

The ruling of the RFC Committee is that it is permissible to deal with and purchase homes from companies of this nature.

The second group is comprised of those companies whose contracts, in general, avoid falling into explicit interest (Ribaa). They do not deal with interest-based loans. Instead, they deal in types of contracts that are permissible in the Shareeah in general, such asMurabahah cost-plus purchase order, Musharakah diminishing partnership and Ijarah rent-to-own. Many of the people who run these companies, we noticed, are anxious to avoid forbidden transactions and have exerted a great deal of effort with their legal advisors to produce legally sound contracts that will allow them to avoid what the Shareeah would consider void contracts. However, their contracts do contain some forbidden components, such as invalid clauses, inequity, undue risk, unknown quantities and the like. Additionally, they need to invoke exemptions allowed by the jurists and resort to an improper mixing of different schools of jurisprudence in order to devise a Shareeah-based way out [of the problem of interest]. In order to meet the large demands of the millions of Muslims residing in America, these companies are in need of selling their contracts to the federal institutions, such as Freddie Mac. These federal, interest-based institutions put a number of restrictions on them that virtually prevent their contracts from being free of these Islamic violations. These violations differ in intensity from one company to another.

The ruling of the RFC Committee specifically concerning this set of companies is that there is an exemption to buy through them in the case of need or dire need, depending on the different intensities of violations and the fact that need must be dealt with according to its severity.

We encourage these companies to continue their efforts in developing their contracts in order to bring an end to their shortcomings that the Committee has noted. If someone can find an alternative and not deal with these companies, he will be safe and will be protecting his faith and his honor.

The third group is comprised of companies that still continue to deal in interest-based loans. Their contracts are no more than offshoots of traditional interest-based loans or simply a form of impermissible legal stratagem to get around the prohibition of interest. The ruling of the RFC Committee with respect to these types of companies is that it is not allowed to purchase homes through them. We advise those who are administering these contracts to adjust them and make them proper.

Second, the Committee would like to emphasize that this ruling on this issue is directed towards those who wish to deal with these companies to purchase real estate via their financing and contracts and the ruling holds as long as the contracts are as they are in the present state and the modes of purchase are as they are now. Any change in their contracts or manner of execution would therefore require a change in the ruling.

As for the companies themselves, this ruling is actually in need of more clarification from them concerning their relationship with the Public government-sponsored enterprises federal financing institutions [such as Freddie Mac], a matter concerning which the RFC Committee was not able to receive a detailed clarification.

Third, “need” is that which is desired by an individual or society to make things easier on them and remove constraints. If one is lacking what is determined to be a “need,” then the individuals or the society face hardships and difficulties that go above and beyond the customary efforts required of individuals by the Shareeah. People may differ in estimating those hardships. However, the RFC Fatwa Committee views owning houses to be a general need of the Muslim population in America. As for determining the level of need for specific individuals, this would depend on the availability of a substitute in the form of being able to rent without being caused harm.

Fourth, below is the application of these principles to the Islamic financing companies that are operating throughout the United States:

Guidance Residential: They are based on a diminishing partnership with rent to own ending in ownership model in their relationship to the purchaser. Their contract is sound in general. However, it contains some Shareeah violations with respect to maintenance, taxes and insurance, as these expenses are not distributed in a just manner according to percentage of ownership.

The ruling of the RFC Committee concerning this company is that it is permissible to deal with them in the face of need. The representatives of this company are advised to review those defective portions of their contract.

Ameen Housing: They are based on a diminishing partnership with rent to own ending in ownership model in their relationship to the purchaser. Their contracts are not sold to the federal institutions [such as Freddie Mac]. They also avoid explicit interest in their transactions. However, their contract does contain some Shareeah objections glitches , such as unfairness in the percentage that they discount in the rent to take care of basic maintenance, expenses that be more or less than that discounted amount. Additionally, they have just introduced a late payment fee [which is another violation of Shareeah principles].

The ruling of the RFC Committee is that there is no harm in dealing with this company in case of need, although one should do one’s best to make one’s payments on time in order to avoid the late payment fee. The Committee also encourages the company to abstain from those aspects pointed out by the Committee.

Devon Bank: This company has two types of Islamic contracts:

The first contract is Murabahah a cost-plus purchase. This contract is surrounded by doubts concerning whether the bank truly owns the property before it is readied for sale. In addition, this contract also contains some defective or problematic conditions or aspects of great unfairness, such as with respect to (a) the bank having exclusive benefits from insurance payouts while requiring the purchaser to pay for the insurance, (b) the bank’s right to freeze the purchaser’s account simply on the suspicion that he will not be able to make his payments, (c) the bank’s right to declare the purchaser in default if he does not use the property as a residence or due to his death although heirs have the right to continue the contract after his death, in fact the cost-plus purchase contract states that the heirs are bound by the contract.

The ruling of the Committee is that there is no harm in dealing with this [contract of] this company in the presence of dire need. Whoever remains away from it has kept himself safe and has protected his faith and honor.  The Committee advises the Bank to correct these aspects and to affirm the ownership of the property before selling it and to avoid the other invalid conditions as much as possible.

The second contract is a rent to own contract. This also contains a number of Shareeah violations and invalid conditions, including having two different contracts (sale and lease) at one time, about one item during one time period. Various Fiqh councils have ruled that this model is not permissible as the legal effects of the two types of contracts are contradictory. This may be corrected by separating the two contracts by making them independent of each other time-wise, such that the sale contract is done after the lease contract, which must be a true lease and not something meant to simply hide the sale. Or, they [may replace the sale] with a promise of handing over ownership at the end of the lease.

From among the defective or void stipulations that this contract embodies are the fact that the bank can evict the lessee upon default but the bank still holds him responsible for the rent until they can find a new renter, the fact that the bank does not pay for the basic maintenance of the property and the fact that the lessee is required to pay insurance while the bank retains the right of any payments from the insurance, allowing the bank to benefit while the lessee bears the cost.

The ruling of the Committee is that there is no harm in dealing with this [contract of this] company when one is in a state of dire need. Whoever remains away from it has kept himself safe and has protected his faith and honor. The Committee emphasizes its recommendation to the bank to rectify the current model by separating between the two contracts and avoiding the defective or void stipulations as much as possible.

University Islamic Financial: The same comments concerning their cost-plus model and lease-to-own models as were stated concerning Devon Bank can be repeated here. Thus, their models have the same rulings and the Committee offers them the same advice. There is an exemption to deal with this company only if one is in a state of dire need. Whoever remains away from it has kept himself safe and has protected his faith and honor.

Ijara Loan: This company starts by directing the purchaser to get a standard interest-based [mortgage] loan and then creates a trust with the purchaser a partner in the trust, in order to borrow from the bank and then get ownership of the property. After that, the trust will sell the house to the purchaser with a rent-to-own contract. The purchaser is alone in getting the interest-based loan at the beginning and then shares in it at the end.

The ruling of the Committee is that it is not allowed to deal with this company as their model contains clear and explicit interest. We advise those in charge of this company to review and correct their model and to fulfill the trust that has been put in them by those who wish to avoid interest in their financial dealings.

Lariba: The contract of this company does not differ from a traditional mortgage that interest-based banks provide. This is the overriding contract between this company and the purchaser and what they present as an Islamic form to it actually has no existence in reality and has no legal authority in case of dispute.

The ruling of the Committee is that it is not allowed to deal with this company as their model contains clear and explicit interest. We advise those in charge of this company to review and correct their model and to fulfill the trust that has been put in them by those who wish to avoid interest in their financial dealings.

Additionally, the Committee would like to emphasize that the rulings previously made that are on the AMJA website represent the views of those individual scholars and do not necessarily represent the views of the RFC Committee. Furthermore, those rulings preceded this ruling and it could be the case that some of the scholars have adjusted their views to the views of the Committee. Finally, the Committee would like to encourage those Muslims who have experience and those who have funds to invest to create a competitive Islamic alternative, perhaps a credit union among themselves which may have profit in this world and we hope also a profit in the Hereafter if the intentions are sound.

May Allah bless everyone with acts of obedience to Him and may be the blessings of Allah be upon His best creation, Muhammad, and upon all his family and all of his Companions.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله أما بعد

فقد اجتمعت لجنة الفتوى بالمجمع في مدينة هيوستن من يوم الإثنين إلى يوم الأربعاء :  20 إلى 22 من ذي القعدة 1435هـ الموافق 15 إلى 17 سبتمبر 2014 مـ لإصدار قرار بخصوص الشركات الإسلامية لتمويل شراء البيوت بأمريكا وذلك بعد أن انعقدت دورة  كاملة لمناقشة البحوث المقدمة بهذا الصدد في حضور ممثلين لمعظم هذه الشركات ، ثم ما أعقب ذلك من تواصل مع بعض هذه الشركات ولجانها الشرعية، لتلقي إجاباتهم عن الإشكالات الشرعية الموجودة في عقودهم، وشارك في الاجتماع فضيلة الشيخ جمال زارابوزو حفظه الله.

وبعد الاطلاع عليها اتخذت لجنة الفتوى بأغلبية أعضائها  قرارها التالي:

أولا: تأصيل شرعي لحال الشركات التي تعمل في مجال التمويل الإسلامي لشراء البيوت

الشركات الإسلامية لتمويل شراء البيوت بأمريكا تنقسم إلى ثلاث فئات :

الفئة الأولى : شركات عقودها في الجملة متوافقة مع الشريعة الإسلامية، ومما ساعد على ذلك أنها شركات لا تحتاج إلى بيع عقودها إلى مؤسسات الاستثمار الفيدرالية الربوية، الأمر الذي أعطاها الحرية في صياغة عقودها بكيفية موافقة للشريعة، من غير تعرض لضغوط من شركات التمويل الربوية، إلا أنه يلاحظ على هذه الشركات أن إمكاناتها محدودة، ولا تستطيع توفير بيوت للبيع إلا عددا لا يجاوز العشرات، ونطاق عملها محدود بولاية معينة، فلا تسد حاجة ملايين المسلمين المقيمين بأمريكا.

وفتوى اللجنة بخصوص هذه الفئة من الشركات هو جواز التعامل معها، والشراء عن طريقها.

الفئة الثانية : شركات عقودها في الجملة  قد تجنبت الوقوع في الربا الصريح، فلا تتعامل بالإقراض الربوي، وإنما تتعامل بعقود مباحة في الشريعة من حيث الجملة، كبيع المرابحة للآمر بالشراء، والمشاركة المتناقصة، والإجارة المنتهية بالتمليك،  وقد لمسنا من كثير من القائمين على هذه الشركات حرصا على تجنب المعاملات المحرمة، وبذلا لجهد كبير مع مستشاريهم القانونيين لإيجاد مخارج قانونية تجنبهم الوقوع في مبطلات العقود ، إلا أن عقودها قد اشتملت على بعض المعاملات المحرمة كالشروط الفاسدة، والعقود المشتملة على الغبن والغرر والجهالة ونحوه، واحتاجت إلى تتبع رخص الفقهاء، والتلفيق بين المذاهب، لإيجاد مخارج شرعية، نظرا لكونها شركات تحتاج إلى بيع عقودها إلى مؤسسات الاستثمار الفيدرالية الربويةمثل فريدي ماك ، من أجل أن تتمكن من بيع ما يكفي لسد حاجة ملايين المسلمين المقيمين بأمريكا، وشركات الاستثمار الفيدرالية الربوية تضع عليهم قيودا تمنعهم من تنقية عقودهم من أكثر هذه المخالفات، وهذه المخالفات تتفاوت من شركة إلى أخرى.

وفتوى اللجنة بخصوص هذه الفئة من الشركات هو الترخص في الشراء عند الحاجة أو الحاجة الماسّة، تبعاً لتفاوت درجة المخالفة، على أن تقدر الحاجة بقدرها.

ونحثّ هذه الشركات على مواصلة سعيها لتطوير عقودها لتلافي أوجه القصور التي نبهت عليها اللجنة، ومن توفر له بديل فاستغنى به فقد آثر السلامة، واستبرأ لدينه وعرضه!

الفئة الثالثة : شركات لا تزال تتعامل بالإقراض الربوي، وعقودها لا تعدو أن تكون استنساخا لعقود التمويل الربوية التقليدية، أو حيلاً غير مشروعة، وفتوى اللجنة بخصوص هذه الفئة من الشركات هو أنه لا يجوز الشراء عن طريقها، وننصح القائمين عليها بتصحيح عقودهم.

ثانيا: يؤكد المجمع أن فتواه في هذا الصدد تتجه إلى المتعاملين مع هذه الشركات من الراغبين في تملك عقارات من خلال تمويلها وعقودها، ما دامت العقود على ما هي عليه عند إصدار هذا البيان ، ومادام تطبيق الشركات للصّفقات على ما هو عليه ، فأي تغيير في العقود أو في طريقة تنفيذها قد يؤدّي إلى اختلاف الفتوى.

أما الشركات نفسها فيحتاج الإفتاء لكثير منها إلى مزيد من الاستقصاء حول علاقتها بشركات الاستثمار الفيدرالية، الأمر الذي لم يتسنّ للمجمع الاستفصال بشأنه، والوقوف على تفاصيله

ثالثاً:الحاجة هي ما يطلبهالأفراد أو المجتمع للتوسعة ورفع الضيق، فإذا فاتت دخل على آحاد المكلفين أو المجتمع حرج ومشقة خارجة عن المشقة المعتادة في التكاليف الشرعية. وقد يختلف نظر الناس في تقديرها، ولكن لجنة الفتوى بالمجمع ترى أن تملك البيوت للسكن يعد حاجة عامة للمسلمين المقيمين بأمريكا. أما تقدير الحاجة الخاصة لآحادهم فيرجع إلى وجود البديل الإيجاري المناسب من غير ضرر.

رابعاً : تطبيق هذا التأصيل على واقع شركات التمويل الإسلامي العاملة في الساحة الأمريكية

Guidance Residential

وهي تعتمد أسلوب المشاركة المتناقصة المنتهية بالتمليك في علاقتها بعملائها، وعقودها صحيحة في الجملة، ولكن يكتنفها بعض المخالفات الشرعية التي تتعلق بالصيانة والضرائب والتأمين حيث لا توزع بصورة عادلة على أساس حصص الشركاء.

وفتوى اللجنة بشأنها جواز التعامل معها للحاجة، وتوجيه النصح للقائمين عليها بمراجعة هذه الشروط الفاسدة.

Ameen Housing

هذه الشركة تعتمد أسلوب الإجارة المتناقصة المنتهية بالتمليك في علاقتها بعملائها، ولا تبيع عقودها لشركات الاستثمار الفيدرالية، وقد تجنبت الربا الصريح في معاملاتها، إلا أن عقودها لا تزال تكتنفها بعض الملاحظات الشرعية، كالغبن الذي يتمثل في تحديدها نسبة مئوية من الأجرة مقابل تكاليف الصيانة الأساسية، التي قد تزيد عن ذلك وقد تنقص، ومثل ما استحدثته مؤخرا من إلزامها المستأجر بغرامة تأخيرية عند التأخر عن الوفاء بالتزاماته المالية.

وفتوى اللجنة أنه لا حرج في التعامل مع هذه الشركة عند الحاجة، مع الحرص على الوفاء بالالتزامات في مواقيتها حتى لا يقع تحت طائلة شرط الغرامة التأخيرية، ومع توصية الشركة بتلافي هذه الملاحظات التي أشارت إليها اللجنة.

Devon Bank

وهو يتعامل بنوعين من العقود الإسلامية:

العقد الأول: المرابحة، ويكتنف هذا العقد شبهات حول التملك الحقيقي من قبل البنك للعقار قبل إعادة بيعه، بالإضافة إلى تضمنه بعض الشروط الفاسدة أو التي فيها غبن ٌ فاحشٌ، منها: الاستئثار بتعويضات التأمين مع إلزام العميل بدفع أقساطه، وحقّ البنك بتجميد حساب العميل لمجرّد الشك بعدم قدرته على السّداد، وحقّه في إعلان إخفاق العميل إذا لم يستخدم العقار لغايات السّكنى، أو عند موته، مع أنّ من حقّ ورثته أن يتولّوا العقد بعد ميّتهم، بل ذكر عقد المرابحه نفسه أن الورثة ملزمون بما في العقد !

وفتوى اللجنة أنه لا حرج في التعامل مع هذه الشركة بهذه الصيغة عند الحاجة الماسّة ، ومن تورع فقد آثر السلامة، واستبرأ لدينه وعرضه!

ويوصي المجمع البنك بالعمل على تصحيح هذه الصورة، وذلك بالتأكيد على ملكية البنك للعقار قبل بيعه، وتجنب الشروط الفاسدة ما استطاع.

العقد الثاني: الإجارة المنتهية بالتمليك، وتكتنفه مخالفات شرعية وشروط فاسدة، ومن ذلك: ورود عقدين مختلفين (البيع والإجارة)  في وقت واحد، على عين واحدة، في زمن واحد، وهي الصورة التي صدرت قرارات المجامع الفقهية بمنعها، لتعارض آثار العقدين، ويمكن تصحيحها بالفصل بين العقدين بحيث  يستقل كل منهما عن الآخر زماناً، فيكون إبرام عقد البيع بعد عقد الإجارة التي ينبغي أن تكون فعلية وليست ساترة للبيع، أو وجود وعد بالتمليك في نهاية مدة الإجارة.

ومن الشروط الفاسدة حق طرد العميل من العقار عند إخفاقه مع تغريمة الأجرة حتى يجد البنك عميلاً آخر، وعدم التزام البنك بتكاليف الصيانة الأساسية، وإلزامه العميل بدفع قسط التأمين مع احتفاظ البنك بحق أخذ تعويضات التأمين لنفسه، فعلى العميل الغرم وللبنك الغنم!

وفتوى اللجنة أنه لا حرج في التعامل مع هذه الشركة بهذه الصيغة عند الحاجة الماسّة ، ومن تورع فقد آثر السلامة، واستبرأ لدينه وعرضه، ويؤكد المجمع توصية البنك بالعمل على تصحيح هذه الصورة بالفصل بين العقدين، وتجنب الشروط الفاسدة ما استطاع

Islamic University Financial

ويرد على عقدي هذه الشركة مرابحة و إجارة ما سبق إيراده على عقدي المرابحة والإجارة المنتهية بالتمليك لدى ديفون بنك، فيمتهد لهما نفس الحكم، ونفس النصيحة! فيترخص في التعامل معها عند الحاجة الماسة، ومن تورع فقد استبرأ لدينه وعرضه!

Ijara Loan

وهذه الشركة تبدأ بتوجيه العميل إلى قرض ربوي بين، ثم تنشىء شركة اعتبارية يكون العميل جزءا منها، لتقترض من البنك وتتملك العقار، ثم تعيد بيعه إلى المشتري بعقد إجارة منتهية بالتمليك، فالمشتري تفرد بالقرض الربوي في البداية، ثم شارك فيه في النهاية!

وفتوى اللجنة أنه لا يجوز التعامل بعقود هذه الشركة لما تتضمنه من الربا الجلي الصريح! وننصح للقائمين عليها بمراجعة هذه الصيغة وتصحيحها، وفاء بالأمانة التي أناطها بهم عملاؤهم ممن يريدون التحرر من الربا في معاملاتهم المالية.

Lariba

وعقد هذه الشركة لا يختلف عن العقود الربوية التقليدية التي تبرمها البنوك الربوية، وهذا هو العقد الحاكم لهذه المعاملة وللعلاقة بين أطرافها، وما يقدم من صورة تعاقد إسلامية هي صورة افتراضية لا وجود لها في الواقع العملي، ولا يحتكم إليها عند التنازع.

وفتوى اللجنة أنه لا يجوز التعامل بعقود هذه الشركة لما تتضمنه من الربا الجلي الصريح! وننصح للقائمين عليها بمراجعة هذه الصيغة وتصحيحها، وفاء بالأمانة التي أناطها بهم عملاؤهم ممن يريدون التحرر من الربا في معاملاتهم المالية.

هذا، وتودّ اللجنة أن تؤكّد على أن الفتاوى المنشورة على موقع المجمع من قبل حول حكم التعامل مع شركة ٍ بعينها إنّما هي لآحاد المفتين ولا تمثّل رأي اللجنة بالضّرورة ، كما أنها سابقةٌ تاريخاً لهذه الفتوى ، فقد يكون بعض المفتين قد عدل عن رأيه القديم إلى رأي اللجنة . كما تحثّ لجنة الفتوى رجال الأعمال وأصحاب رؤوس الأموال من المسلمين على الاستعجال بإيجاد البديل الإسلامي المنافس، ولعلّ الاتحادات الائتمانية Credit Unions من بينها،  فهي تجارة رابحةٌ في الدنيا، ونرجو أن تكون كذلك في الآخرة أن صلحت النّيّات.

وفّق الله الجميع لطاعته، وصلى الله على خير خلقه محمد، وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين.

 

Is the Bible More Violent Than the Quran?

* Article taken from npr.org, here.

 

As the hijackers boarded the airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, they had a lot on their minds. And if they were following instructions, one of those things was the Quran.

In preparation for the suicide attack, their handlers had told them to meditate on two chapters of the Quran in which God tells Muslims to “cast terror into the hearts of unbelievers.”

“Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them,” Allah instructs the Prophet Muhammad (Quran, 9:5). He continues: “Prophet! Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites! … Hell shall be their home, an evil fate.”

When Osama bin Laden declared war on the West in 1996, he cited the Quran’s command to “strike off” the heads of unbelievers. More recently, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan lectured his colleagues about jihad, or “holy war,” and the Quran’s exhortation to fight unbelievers and bring them low. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, last year.

Given this violent legacy, religion historian Philip Jenkins decided to compare the brutality quotient of the Quran and the Bible.

Defense Vs. Total Annihilation

“Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible,” Jenkins says.

Jenkins is a professor at Penn State University and author of two books dealing with the issue: the recently published Jesus Wars, and Dark Passages , which has not been published but is already drawing controversy.

Violence in the Quran, he and others say, is largely a defense against attack.

“By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane,” he says. “Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide.”

It is called herem, and it means total annihilation. Consider the Book of 1 Samuel, when God instructs King Saul to attack the Amalekites: “And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them,” God says through the prophet Samuel. “But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

When Saul failed to do that, God took away his kingdom.

“In other words,” Jenkins says, “Saul has committed a dreadful sin by failing to complete genocide. And that passage echoes through Christian history. It is often used, for example, in American stories of the confrontation with Indians — not just is it legitimate to kill Indians, but you are violating God’s law if you do not.”

Jenkins notes that the history of Christianity is strewn with herem. During the Crusades in the Middle Ages, the Catholic popes declared the Muslims Amalekites. In the great religious wars in the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries, Protestants and Catholics each believed the other side were the Amalekites and should be utterly destroyed.

‘Holy Amnesia’

But Jenkins says, even though the Bible is violent, Christianity and Judaism today are not for the most part.

“What happens in all religions as they grow and mature and expand, they go through a process of forgetting of the original violence, and I call this a process of holy amnesia,” Jenkins says.

Jenkins, author of Jesus Wars, says that violence in the Quran is largely a defense against attack.

Courtesy of HarperOne

They make the violence symbolic: Wiping out the enemy becomes wiping out one’s own sins. Jenkins says that until recently, Islam had the same sort of holy amnesia, and many Muslims interpreted jihad, for example, as an internal struggle, not physical warfare.

Andrew Bostom calls this analysis “preposterous.” Bostom, editor of The Legacy of Jihad, says there’s a major difference between the Bible, which describes the destruction of an enemy at a point in time, and the Quran, which urges an ongoing struggle to defeat unbelievers.

“It’s an aggressive doctrine,” he says. “The idea is to impose Islamic law on the globe.”

Take suicide attacks, he says — a tactic that Muslim radicals have used to great effect in the U.S., Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. It’s true that suicide from depression is forbidden in Islam — but Bostom says the Quran and the Hadith, or the sayings of Muhammad, do allow self-destruction for religious reasons.

“The notion of jihad martyrdom is extolled in the Quran, Quran verse 9:1-11. And then in the Hadith, it’s even more explicit. This is the highest form of jihad — to kill and to be killed in acts of jihad.”

‘Out Of Context’

That may be the popular notion of jihad, says Waleed El-Ansary, but it’s the wrong one. El-Ansary, who teaches Islamic studies at the University of South Carolina, says the Quran explicitly condemns religious aggression and the killing of civilians. And it makes the distinction between jihad — legal warfare with the proper rules of engagement — and irjaf, or terrorism.

“All of those types of incidences — [Sept. 11], Maj. Nidal Hasan and so forth — those are all examples of irjaf, not jihad,” he says. According to the Quran, he says, those who practice irjaf “are going to hell.”

So what’s going on here? After all, we all have images of Muslim radicals flying planes into buildings, shooting up soldiers at Fort Hood, trying to detonate a bomb on an airplane on Christmas Day. How to reconcile a peaceful Quran with these violent acts?

El-Ansary says that in the past 30 years, there’s been a perfect storm that has created a violent strain of Islam. The first is political: frustration at Western intervention in the Muslim world. The second is intellectual: the rise of Wahhabi Islam, a more fundamentalist interpretation of Islam subscribed to by Osama bin Laden. El-Ansary says fundamentalists have distorted Islam for political purposes.

“Basically what they do is they take verses out of context and then use that to justify these egregious actions,” he says.

El-Ansary says we are seeing more religious violence from Muslims now because the Islamic world is far more religious than is the West. Still, Jenkins says Judeo-Christian cultures shouldn’t be smug. The Bible has plenty of violence.

“The scriptures are still there, dormant, but not dead,” he says, “and they can be resurrected at any time. Witness the white supremacists who cite the murderous Phineas when calling for racial purity, or an anti-abortion activist when shooting a doctor who performs abortions.

In the end, the scholars can agree on one thing: The DNA of early Judaism, Christianity and Islam code for a lot of violence. Whether they can evolve out of it is another thing altogether.

Understanding “Kill Them Wherever You Find Them” — Text

* Article taken from seekersguidance.org, here.

 

Answered by Sidi Faraz Khan

Question: Could you please explain the verse of the Qur’an, “slay the polytheists wherever you find them” [9:5]  What are the implications of this verse and why/when was it revealed?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

InshaAllah  you are well.

The key to understanding the verse in question is to understand its context and the circumstances in which it was revealed.

What the Scholars of Qur’anic Exegesis Said

As mentioned by scholars of Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), these verses were revealed specifically with regards to particular groups of polytheists that breached their peace treaties with the Muslim polity. This is clear in the very first verse, as it mentions that the proclamation is given out specifically to “those polytheists with whom you had made covenants.”

Imam Razi, Imam Jamal, and others clarify in their tafsirs that this proclamation of fighting the polytheists “applies only to those that broke their covenants.” This is also why an exception to the proclamation is made in verse 4 which, as Imam Razi and others clarify, refers to “those who did not break their covenants,” i.e., they were not to be fought.

Hence, the oft-misunderstood fifth verse of “killing the polytheists wherever you find them” refers only to those that previously broke their covenants and, moreover, after they had four months to reflect on the situation and decide if they wanted to continue with their violation or not. If they decided to continue with their violation, then they would effectively be re-declaring war on the Muslim polity, in which case the verse ordered the polity to defend itself against the transgression. Even in that case, the next verse (verse 6) ordered the Muslims to provide safe passage and protection to any opposing soldier that sought asylum during combat.

Perhaps the following verse (verse 7) best summarizes the context of this discussion, as it states (with commentary from Tafsir al-Razi and Tafsir al-Jalalayn in brackets):

“How can polytheists [that were treacherous and violated their treaties] have a covenant with Allah and His Messenger? Except for those with whom you entered covenants [i.e., the polytheists who did not break them and hence were not treacherous] in the Sacred Mosque. So as long as they are true to you [with their covenants and do not breach them] then be true to them [by also fulfilling your covenants]; verily, Allah loves those who fear Him [i.e., He loves those who fulfill covenants, since whoever fears Allah will fulfill his covenants, and the Prophet kept his word and upheld his side of the treaty until his enemies broke theirs].”

[Razi, Tafsir; Jamal, Hashiyat `ala Jalalayn]

Summarizing the Issue

So to summarize, these verses have a clear historical context and cannot be used to justify acts of violence or terrorism committed against innocent civilians.

Furthermore, by Islamic law, a Muslim government must uphold its treaties and covenants with other nations, regardless of the faith of those nations. It is unlawful to break a peace treaty with any other nation. This also applies to any Non-Muslim that is a citizen of a Muslim nation or that peacefully enters one. This is because citizenship and visitor’s visas are legally considered covenants that cannot be violated. They ensure security and protection for the citizen/visitor, and require that the citizen/visitor not break any of the nation’s laws.

The same, of course, applies to a Muslim citizen of a Non-Muslim nation or a Muslim that enters a Non-Muslim nation with a visitor’s visa or the like, which again serve as covenants of mutual peace and protection. It would be unlawful for a Muslim to break such a covenant. This is also in accordance with contemporary international law and is absolutely binding. And Allah knows best. [Marghinani, al-Hidaya; Kuwaiti Fiqh Encyclopedia]

wassalam
Faraz Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani