HashimKamali

Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

Taliban's Grand Assembly a disappointment

Thursday, 07 July 2022 16:52 Published in Articles

The meeting of some 3,000 religious leaders from across Afghanistan in Kabul on July 1-3 ended with an 11-item resolution that received a mixed reception by the Afghan people, and was seen as falling short of addressing public expectations.

Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, who was formally declared as Head of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), attended the meeting that was touted as a Loya Jirga, a grand assembly, but became, at a short notice, a large get-together of clerics.

This meeting was expected to consider and approve a plan of action and policy outline of the IEA that is still unknown even after 11 months of the Taliban takeover of power on August 15, 2021.

It failed to address issues such as allowing girls access to secondary education, with schools closed under the Taliban for almost a year. The 11-point resolution was also silent on a new constitution.

Commentators were critical of the fact that women were not included in the meeting.

It was widely publicised that in the discussion, only two participants from Balkh province raised the issue of the girls' schooling.

Mullah Hibatullah was quoted only to have said that "oppressors and despots should no longer be entrusted with public office", evidently reaffirming the much-criticised Taliban monopoly of political power in Kabul.

Soon after the resolutions were publicised on July 3, a large meeting was held by the women representatives in Kabul in protest against the Taliban preclusion of women in the meeting and silence over the much-expected reopening of the secondary schools for girls.

A separate meeting of teachers was also held in Kabul to protest that the meeting remained aloof to people's demands.

The resolutions spoke on issues of concern to the Kabul government and demanded the international community recognise the IEA and and resume normal relations with it.

The 11-item resolution also declared full support for Mullah Hibatullah's leadership and lauded the ulama for becoming effective political leaders of Afghanistan.

Yet, the Taliban themselves have remained non-responsive to what the world expected of them regarding women's rights to education, and the formation also of an inclusive government.

The meeting was occupied by non-issues, the so-called shop talk about the new era of Taliban leadership, and changes spearheaded by Mullah Hibatullah.

The Taliban are introducing changes that people can hardly be expected to accept. The traditional Loya Jirga historically consisted of people's representatives, but was changed to an ulama-only platform.

The religious leaders are thus arrogating to themselves powers that amount to overruling the constitution and customary convention.

They seem to be creating the Iranian Supreme Leader in the person of Mullah Hibatullah and beginning to arrogate to him extra-constitutional powers without mentioning a constitution or the rule of law.

In one or two interviews that were given immediately after the meeting by the Taliban spokesmen, themselves mullahs, there was much talk that ulama were the true spokesmen of the people and that the people of Afghanistan look up to them and will never go against their wishes.

This is in line with the Taliban actual behaviour in office over the longer stretch of time, the fact that they are keeping to themselves and do not seek popular engagement. This is just a repeat of Taliban dictatorship in a new garb.

There is no talk of elections, a constitution, or good governance, not just in the last few days, but ever since the Taliban rule.

The modern history of Afghanistan is one of persistent struggle for these purposes and now the people's trust is being played with by a group of dogmatic rulers who have little regard for democracy, good governance and the rule of law.

The people of Afghanistan have known that the purpose of a constitution is to mark a transition from the rule of persons to the rule of law and commitment to serve the people and not a group of self-willed dictators by any name.

 

Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times (online), Wednesday 06 July 2022

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2022/07/811246/talibans-grand-assembly-disappointment

QURAN (lit. a reader) is the name that occurs in the Holy Book itself (al-Qiyamah, 75:17), but the Quran also records a total of 55 names for itself, including Nur (light), Huda (guidance), Rahmah (mercy), Dhikr (reminder), Hikmah (wisdom), Kitab (book), Furqan (distinguisher), Shifaa (healing) among others.

Quran is defined as God's speech revealed to Prophet Muhammad through Archangel Gabriel in Arabic. It is the world's most widely read book, and also written about, and translated into almost all spoken languages among Muslims.

Muslims are required to read parts of the Quran in their daily prayers. Hence, every Muslim commits parts of Quran to memory, but outside the ritual prayers (salah) Muslims also read and recite the Quran and commit it to memory as acts of spiritual merit.

Imam Abu Hanifa was of the view that salah could be performed by reciting translated verses of the Quran, a view that is not, however, supported by the Hanafi school, including his two leading disciples, Abu Yusuf and al-Shaybani.

This is because the Quran itself declares that it is revealed in Arabic. Hence, it is generally held that a translation cannot be said to be the "Quran".

When was the Quran revealed? To say that April 19/Ramadan 17 marks the timing of Nuzul al-Quran is acceptable but not certain.
The Quran itself declares (97:1) that it was revealed on the Night of Honour (Laylatul Qadr, or Night of Power, as Qadr is a homonym).

Muslim scholars have, however, no less than eight different views on the timing of Nuzul al-Quran, including Ramadan 1, 17, 19, 21, 23, 27, the night of the Battle of Badr or one the middle 10 days of Ramadan. But first we look at how the Quran itself describes the Night of Honour.

The text declares that it was revealed on the Night of Honour (Laylatul Qadr ‒ henceforth LQ), which lasts from sunset to sunrise. LQ is further described as a "blessed night" (laylah mubarakah) that is better (khayrun) than one thousand months (97:1-5).

On this night, the angels and the Spirit (Archangel Gabriel) descend from on-high to the heavens above the Earth to honour the event of Nuzul al-Quran.

To say that the Quran was revealed on the Night of Honour signifies a single night. We also know from actual history that the Quran was revealed piecemeal to Prophet Muhammad in about 23 years.

This clearly signifies two separate instances of Quranic revelation: one of which occurred in a single night, when the whole of the Holy Book was revealed from an unknown place, said to be the Lawh al-Mahfuz (Preserved Tablet), and then it was sent gradually to Prophet Muhammad.

Most of the text (about 85 of the total of 114 surah) was revealed in Mecca and the rest in Medina.

The Quran does not specify the actual timing of LQ but numerous Muslim scholars have thought it to be in the last 10 days of Ramadan, most likely on the 27th night – based on reports attributed to the Companion Abdullah Ibn Abbas.

Imam Shafie has mentioned the most likely dates, however, to be either the 21st or 23rd night of Ramadan. But many leading Shafie scholars have mentioned the 27th.

Another Companion, Anas bin Malik, had reportedly said that LQ occured on the first night of Ramadan. According to another view, based on a hadith narrated by Companions Ibn Abi Arqam and Abdullah ibn Masud, LQ occured on the 17th night of Ramadan.

They have explained that the Quran was revealed on the night of the Battle of Badr, and they support this with their reading of a verse of the Quran in Surah al-Anfal (8:41).

Another view on the dating of LQ, attributed to Companion Osman ibn Abi al-Aas, and a renowned successor, Hasan al-Basri, as well as some Shafie and Maliki scholars, maintain that it occured on one of the middle 10 nights of Ramadan.

Three renowned companions, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Zayd ibn Thabit and Abdullah ibn Masud, maintain that LQ was on the 19th night of Ramadan.

The last view on the dating of LQ says that it occured in one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan but that it is not the same night every year; it may fall on different nights from year to year.

This is due to their combined reading of different hadith mentioning different dates wherein the prophet himself was reported to have observed supererogatory prayers to mark the event of LQ.

With so much variation, Muslim scholars have then concluded that God Most High has left a degree of ambiguity in the timing of LQ so as to engage the ummah in research and ijtihad in its quest.

They add further: it is somewhat like not declaring the Hour of Acceptance (sa'at al-ijabah) on Fridays as an incentive to worshippers to engage themselves in prayer and supplication.

Similar uncertainty obtains with regard to God's Greatest Name (al-Ism al-Azam) that occurs in His 99 Excellent Names (al-Asma al-Husna) but unknown which, nor is the Day of Resurrection made known so that believers are engaged in pious activities in anticipation.

Muslim scholars have even recommended that one who sees the Lalatul Qadr not to declare it.

The wisdom of this advice may be that witnessing LQ signifies piety and spiritual distinction and declaring it may mean self-commendation, not quite in line with the typical humility that characterises Islam.


Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Tuesday 19 April 2022

Source: https://iais.org.my/publications-sp-1447159098/dirasat-sp-1862130118/civilisation-interfaith-peace-security/item/1420-nuzul-quran-an-incentive-for-muslims-to-engage-in-prayer-supplication

The Taliban have not changed

Friday, 01 April 2022 16:59 Published in Articles

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's ban on secondary education for girls announced on March 23 backtracked their earlier statement on reopening of schools for all students (boys and girls).

The ban was met with a chorus of denunciation and disdain by the Afghan population, seven months after schooling was suspended.

The ban on girls' secondary education is basically dogmatic, emanating from, in my view, a deep-seated prejudice against women.

Who can in their right mind and in the name of Islam and Afghan culture take such a retrogressive step in the face of the ubiquitous emphasis in the Quran and hadith on learning and the Afghan traditional appreciation for knowledge!

The Education Ministry spokesman also mentioned that the ban came from the top (i.e, Mulla Hibatullah Akhundzada), referred to as Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Mu'minin), indicating perhaps that the ministry had not proposed it.

Civil society, especially women leaders, parents and the girls themselves, are calling this as the "darkest day" and an intellectual blow for Afghanistan.

Parents spoke with emotion that their daughters were eagerly preparing to return to school. Many were seen crying at their school gates and elsewhere wiping their tears.

Former deputy education minister Thurayya Paikan, prominent women rights advocates Mahbuba Siraj and Monesa Mubariz, Afghanistan's former ambassador to Norway Shukria Barakzai, Strategic Studies Centre of Afghanistan director Atif Mokhtar, and leader of the Party for Intellectual Advancement of Afghanistan Saleem Paygir, among others, spoke forcefully in denunciation of the ban, coming also on the heels of similar restrictions on women's right to work.

The Taliban have no right to make such a momentous decision, especially when they lack popular mandate and came to power through coercive methods.

Seven months after their takeover, no country has yet to officially recognise the Taliban government.

Spokesmen and women leaders were askanced as to what kind of a society does the Taliban want. What do they try to make of Afghanistan — and what is their endgame? They have not explained their plans and programmes.

Former president Hamid Karzai had suggested earlier that the Islamic emirate should convene the traditional Loya Jirga (grand national assembly) and seek approval for their actions.

All are asking for immediate reversal of the ban, adding that the emirate is responsible in respecting and upholding people's rights, not to violate them.

Siraj and Paikan noted that people had remained patient and appreciative of the peace they enjoyed after some 40 years of turmoil, but that may be running out.

Civil protests on the streets of Kabul and provinces, especially by schoolgirls, has already started and likely to grow wider.

Paikan further noted that the Islamic emirate was breaking the promise made earlier that all schools will be opened after months of closure; the Taliban should know that breaking a promise is unacceptable in Islam.

Barakzai added that the Taliban were moving Afghanistan further away from progress and civilisation, wasting the hard-earned gains of the past decades.

The Afghan people and the international community seem to be seeing more of the fanatic side of the Taliban that has not changed since the 1990s when they ruled Afghanistan for five years (1996‒-2001).

The UN Security Council issued a resolution asking the emirate for immediate removal of the ban and opening of all schools.

The United States, European Union and virtually all leading countries of Europe have denounced the decision as a violation of basic rights and unacceptable. The US scheduled meeting in Doha on March 26 with a view to normalise relations was also cancelled.

I had quoted one of the Taliban spokesmen, Suhail Shaheen, who said the Taliban had changed from 20 years ago as they realised some of the mistakes they made and changed their views, especially with regard to female education that they now approve of.

It seems that this is not so. The fanatic side of Taliban has not changed.

On a more symbolic note perhaps, the Afghan people generally felt it was unnecessary and verged on self-styled dogmatism when months earlier, the Taliban replaced the traditional tri-coloured national flag of Afghanistan with their own white flag.

Both exhibited the same testimonial of the faith (the shahada) and there was no need to change the flag.


Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Friday 01 April 2022

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2022/04/784993/taliban-have-not-changed

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