HashimKamali

Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Mohammad Hashim Kamali

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

This article advances the theme that the conventional fiqhi articulations of the prescribed hudud punishments show inconsistency with the Quran and falls, therefore, due for a corrective. Whereas the Quran makes repentance (tawbah) and reform (islah) integral to the hudud punishments, the fiqh expositions of these punishments have entirely ignored that aspect of the Quran. To carry out this corrective and rectify the hudud theory in the way it is suggested below partakes.........Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Fighting Corruption: An Islamic Perspective

Thursday, 25 July 2019 00:00 Published in Media Exposure

Due to the numerous forms it can take, corruption escapes the idea of a comprehensive definition.

It knows no boundaries, applies to the rich and poor individuals, organisations and countries, and it is as old as human history itself.

Corruption can include bribery, unlawful gifts and donations, extortion, nepotism, buying influence, favouritism, fraud, embezzlement and the like.

They are all forbidden on the basis they seek to distort the course of justice.

Differences in interpretation of a particular hadith (words of Prophet Muhammad) on the validity or otherwise of the declaration of personal assets of government officials have recently been featured in the media.

In principle, syariah (Islamic law) accepts reasonable disagreement (iktilaf) in interpretation provided it is clear of bias and does not pursue questionable objectives.

One way to evaluate this is to refer to the higher purposes (maqasid) of syariah.

If an interpretation pursues a lawful purpose that finds support in the higher sources of syariah, it is accepted, but is set aside and rejected otherwise.

If asset declaration is meant to fight official corruption, then this is not only valid in syariah but highly recommended and meritorious.

Official corruption has undoubtedly become the bane of good governance in many present-day Muslim countries, Malaysia included.

Provided asset declaration itself is not motivated by a corrupt purpose, such as violating the privacy of others and conducting unwarranted searches to inflict harm on them, and it is intended only as a means of combating corruption, it is valid beyond doubt.

This is because all government employees have a duty to stay away from corruption.

For government in Islam is a trust (amanah) that must be faithfully observed (Quran Chapter 4, verse 58), and betrayal of trust is strictly forbidden (8:72).

The text also speaks in condemnation of corruption (fasad) and its perpetrators (mufsidun) (2:205; 26:151; 30:41).

Fighting official corruption also forms part of the Quranic principle of ‘prevention of evil’ (nahy ‘an al-munkar) which is a duty of the leader and those in charge of community affairs (uli’l-amr).

Iqbal and Lewis wrote in their (2002) work, The Islamic Attack on Corruption, that “there is zero tolerance for bribery in Islam, and Islam rejects any idea that bribery serves as ‘the grease that oils the economic wheels’.”

There is no scope either for legalising corruption in the name of commission, gift, donation, advances, soft loan, loan write-offs and the like.

Islamic history also records instances of anti-corruption measures taken by the government. The second caliph, Umar Al-Khattab, fought bribery and corruption of officials through expropriation of personal wealth accumulated during the tenure of office.

This was done to prominent figures among the Prophet’s companions, Abu Hurayrah, Amri Al-Aas, Nafi Amri, Saad Abi Waqas, and Khalid Al-Walid, the governors respectively of Bahrain, Egypt, Mecca, Kufa and Sham, among others, who were found to have accumulated wealth which they did not have prior to employment.

Some of them indulged in trading activities and careless handling of public funds.

The caliph ordered Abu Hurayrah to “take your own property and what is necessary for your living, and surrender the rest to the Baitul Mal (public treasury)”.

Amri Al-Aas was simply ordered to hand over one half of his wealth to the Baitul Mal as he had acquired goods, slaves, livestock and artifacts that he did not have before he was appointed as governor of Egypt.

Expropriation was not confined to government officials but also extended to merchants, contractors and dignitaries who conducted business with the government and accumulated disproportionate amounts of wealth.

An interesting incident on this, recorded by Abu Yusuf, involved the two sons of the caliph Umar, Abdul Allah and Ubayd Allah, who accompanied an army contingent to Iraq.

Governor Abu Musa Al-Asharı, said: “Here’s money as advance to buy goods from Iraq and then sell them in Madinah. Give the capital to the caliph and keep the profit for yourselves.”

This was agreed and the caliph’s sons made a profit. But when handing over the capital to the caliph, the latter asked:

“Does he give similar advances to everyone in the army?” The answer to this was “No”, and the caliph asked them to pay both the capital and the profit.

A man said: “O Umar, perhaps you could treat this as an instance of mudarabah on the analysis that if they had made a loss they would have been accountable.”

The caliph agreed and asked his sons to deliver the capital and only half the profit to the Baitul Mal.

Expropriation of assets of corrupt officials was eventually institutionalised under the Abbasid caliph, Ja‘far al-Mansur, when a department was established for handling expropriation matters in cases of unwarranted enrichment.

Reports also indicate that vast amounts of properties were retrieved.

The Abbasid caliph, al-Qahir, is thus reported to have expropriated the properties of the mother of his predecessor, al-Muqtadir, which raised the assets of Baitul Mal by a substantial amount.

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

Published in: The New Straits Times, Thursday 25 July 2019

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/07/507029/fighting-corruption-islamic-perspective

Fresh interpretation needed

Thursday, 19 December 2019 00:00 Published in Media Exposure

It may be said at the outset that in discussing haj related issues, one runs the risk of touching on public sensitivities as haj is part of the devotional aspects (‘ibadat) of Islam and not as open to rational enquiry in the same way as are matters of concern to civil transactions (mu‘amalat).

That said, raising questions over haj management matters tangential to the substance of worship should not be a problem. Islam does not even preclude religious matters from rational investigation in the spirit of healthy renewal and reform (tajdid).

Earlier precedent confirms this when, for instance, caliph Umar al-Khattab introduced the second call to prayer (adhan) on Fridays when the crowds attending congregational prayers in Madinah grew larger.

Also his successor, caliph Uthman Ibn Affan, edited the text of the Quran at a time when variations in its reading had cropped up due to differential Arabic dialects.

He verified the standard text with the help of leading Companions and then ordered the existing copies of the Quran to be destroyed.

In earlier centuries, the number of haj pilgrims was small and they travelled with slower traditional means of transport.

These numbers have risen beyond comparison, exceeding two million annually.

This also brings unprecedented challenges that call for fresh thinking and interpretation (ijtihad), some of which may not even require juridical ijtihad but only administrative and policy initiatives to make haj crowds more manageable.

One issue is the number of hajs that a person performs.

Haj is a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty of Muslims “who can afford the journey” (Q. 3:97).

But some affluent Muslims go to haj many times. Only the first instance fulfils the duty and the rest will count as supererogatory (nawafil).

These individuals should restrain themselves, and better still, spend the money on charity that may relieve the sick and the invalid of their hardships.

They will earn rewards for giving the opportunity to others, as well as for their charitable donations.

The haj authorities in Muslim countries are accordingly advised to take policy measures to discourage people from doing more than one haj.

This will help reduce numbers to some extent.

Another concern is the length of time that pilgrims take to perform the haj. Most pilgrims complete the haj in six weeks, while others can do so in 10 days.

There may be different issues of expenses and individual choices, but it should in principle be possible for the haj authorities in Muslim countries to make reasonable policy decisions.

The length of stay may be limited, for some categories of individuals and groups, to two or three weeks.

This will also help reduce numbers and enable better management of haj affairs.

Furthermore, statistics show that the number of applicants wishing to go to haj, from almost every Muslim country, is much larger than their allocated quotas.

When political leaders from different countries meet Saudi leaders, they often request an increase of their haj quotas. Saudi leaders are thus placed in an awkward position to respond.

Barring justified exceptions, requests of this kind should also be minimised and collective policy measures taken to observe the existing quotas.

This will also help keep the numbers under control.

What is the haj period and is there scope for fresh interpretation?

The Quran refers to the haj period as “months well-known” (ashhurun ma’lumat), within which the haj must be completed (2:197).

The text doesn’t specify the precise meaning of the “months well known,” but they were based on ijtihad.

The first and typical response, which is commonly adopted, is that the phrase refers to two complete months (of Syawal and Zulq iddah) and 10 days of Zulhijjah.

This is the position of the majority of the four madhabs (Shafie, Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali), the four renowned Abd Allahs among the Companions (Abd Allah b. Umar, Abd Allah b. Abbas, Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr, and Abd Allah b. Amr b. al-Aas), and many others.

The second response given is that the haj period includes all the three months, that is, inclusive of the whole of Zulhijjah and this is the view of Imam Malik, and according to alternative reports, also of the Companions, Abd Allah b. Amr b. al-Aas, Abd Allah b. Abbas, Abd Allah b. Masud, and many others.

This second response is preferable and sound, for the Quran refers to the haj months as “ashhurun ma‘lumat,” which correctly subsume three months, and not as it were, “sharayn ma-‘lumayn,” which would mean two months.

So anyone who reaches Mecca in a state of Ihram (lit. abstinence from certain activities) and performs the wuquf in Arafah, tawaf of the Kaa’bah, and sa’ie between Safa and Marwah — known to be the haj essentials — any time during these three months, his haj is valid.

This was also the practice as was known during the Prophet’s lifetime.

The theory of ijtihad is explicit on the point that when different rulings of ijtihad exist over the same issue, the one that addresses present reality should be preferred.

The second of the two views is evidently more suitable to address current reality, and should be adopted. This would further ease the congestion caused by the shorter haj period.

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

Published in: The New Straits Times, Thursday 19 December 2019

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/12/549074/fresh-interpretation-needed

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