New dynamics for Muslims in the West

Category: Faith & Spirituality Views: 9089

For the first time in Islamic history, millions of Muslims are living a new reality: As a religious minority in non-Muslim Western societies. This new situation requires renewed thinking in Islamic legal and theological scholarship. 

The mid-20th century centrifuged millions of Muslims out of the heartlands of Islam and into a whole new world in Western societies as political, economic and educational factors in their homelands sparked an exodus to Europe, Australia and North America.

The result was a new historical reality for Muslims who were previously accustomed to belonging to either the majority, or a very influential minority within their societies. Now, they found themselves living for the first time as minorities within established and advanced non-Muslim majority societies. another first, Muslims from all the corners of the globe, with all backgrounds, sects and schools of thought began living together in one place indefinitely. Vastly different Muslims co-exist in Mecca during the annual hajj, or pilgrimage, but this lasts only for a few days and for most individuals, just once per lifetime. But to be "stuck together" permanently, as a minority in one place is a new dynamic altogether.

These new realities brought several new challenges. First to Muslims' identity. Second, they also raised questions about integration, assimilation, loyalty and implementing what is perceived as the teachings of the religion. A half century since their arrival in non-Muslim majority nations, different Muslims in Western countries are still struggling with these challenges. 

The new legal, social and political circumstances that Muslims face as minority populations in the West have created an urgent need to reexamine Islamic legal principles (i.e. sharia). The question of what is Divine, and hence unchangeable to a Muslim, versus what is manmade and fallible, was always left to the minds of scholars who are themselves the natural product of their historic socio-economic political context. This question - of fixed and flexible within Islamic law - has to be posed and to be answered anew. Thus, very necessary and very exciting developments must be undertaken by Muslim intellectual leaders in their new homes in the West.

It is clear that Islamic law historically was codified to serve a ruling majority, which presents difficult (if not impossible) expectations for a minority group that is trying to establish its place within a new multi-faith, pluralist society. 

For example, the Quran was revolutionary in its time for restricting polygamy from an unlimited number of wives--a common practice in pre-Islamic Arabia--to four if they could be treated equally. But given its outright prohibition by law today, a modern Islamic understanding would indicate the practice of polygamy is illegal and therefore prohibited. 

In another case, Muslims living in Western societies usually can only purchase homes through interest-bearing loans. While interest is understood by some as usury which is prohibited by the Qur'an, new economic realities and different interpretations should lead to a deep examination of this issue. 

When undertaken properly, the interpretation and re-interpretation of Quranic principles and the development of new and modern Islamic law addressing new and modern issues and challenges can be both invigorating and enhancing to all human life. If undertaken by Muslims and for Muslims, this presents an opportunity to "purify" Islam - not by changing the Quran but by embracing the Islamic tradition of dynamic reinterpretation fitting each new day and age. 

At the Islamic Center of Southern California, we as concerned Muslim intellectuals initiated what we called "jurisprudence for minorities." It is a project in progress that could be contribute to the much-needed revival of Islamic scholarship for an ever-changing world.

For Muslims in adopted lands, life will be easier if they avoid imposing on themselves unneeded restrictions and hardships and instead follow Islamic teachings that discourage hardship and promote the development of a moderate and facile way of realizing the goals of sharia, which is what is good for people in this life as well as the life of eternity.

By doing this, minority Muslim populations will not place themselves in either physical or virtual ghettos, but rather will be ready to cooperate in a constructive way with their fellow, non-Muslim citizens. As such, it will not be difficult for any Muslim to avoid what is prohibited by God, nor what is outlawed by humans in any particular time or place.

For Muslims all over the world, this will lead to the needed reform of Muslim people and Muslim thinking--and it will be reform from within, not one imposed from outside. 

Dr. Maher Hathout, the author of "In Pursuit of Justice: The Jurisprudence of Human Rights in Islam" (MPAC, 2006), serves as the senior advisor to the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California.

The Jurisprudence of Human Rights in Islam

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  Category: Faith & Spirituality
Views: 9089
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Older Comments:

again---let me reiterate---obviously, your knowledge on islamic ecnomoics or for that matter on islam's moral code is seriously lacking--hence, it is better for you to first educate yourself about the fundamentals then for you to tackle such a multifaceted issue---similarly singh--though i have a reply for you--this is not the best avenue to have a "debate" ( email and we can talk [email protected])

though i do want to make a point to singh and KAM..

kam and singh...
....when the world is evolving into an exploitative forms of capitalism and trade (i.e. usury) in which what is deemed "immoral" and "illegitmate" one day and then "moral" and "legitamate" the next day---then Islam has no part of that---Islam will not promote it and neither will it justify it!

Morality and TRUTH for which Islam stands does not change at the mere whims of men---no matter how much silver or gold you put in front of it---the answer will be the same---up yours!

It is true that it is difficult for muslims to follow islam to its optimum , as a minority living among a non muslim majority, but having a detailed knowledge of Quran and sunnah reveals that islam is a religion which stands the test of all times and a ll places, be it the glorious era of muslims 1400 years ago or the present circumstances of muslims, or a place where they are in minority or where they are in majority, islam has the solution for everything because it is purely divne and needs no correction from us human with our limited comprehension.thanks

Daer friend Nasir:
Your statement,"...Regardless of being Sunni, or Shia we are Muslims first,........"st that - a hollow and ludicrous. If you read history of Islam, it never happened. The very day Prophet's body was lowered to the ground, his followers were at each other's throat, waging war on each other and literally killing the side. This is the sad story in the past 1400 years. Do you think human nature of Muslims,has become something different today? How do you explain sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias today all across the globe?

Tell me why should Muslims be united under Arabs? Why not under Iranians or say Indonesians who are as good Muslims?

In the last sermon of the Prophet, did he not preach that there is no difference between an Arab or a non-Arab?

Please read his last sermon before you "shoot from hips as they say in Umrica".

Wa Salaam.

Let me repeat what I said earlier. The writer takes a tleast a micro-step to move forward so that Muslim readers can understand that reforms in Muslimdom are necessary

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

So, where is Singh's or Hud's replies ? Why is it that a few Muslims e mail writers too quick to praise Singh, even though if one carefully reads his views, he is also belittling our Prophet ( s.a.w ) ? What does Hud mean when he said that Singh was upholding the islamic principle ? How ? in what way, if I may ask ?

Singh said that he went to Deoband to attend a conference there. I have a high respect for that institution, but just because he attended one conference, that doesn't mean that he has all the salient and adequate knowledge about Islam.

he said that he had been studying Islam for 10 years. How and in what manner ? Did he study it from the unapologetic orientalists, who has subtle aims to destroy Islam from within, by causing confusion to the Muslims on their clouded motives ?

I repeat again that the Quran itself mentions that the Prophet ( peace be upon him ) spoke not out of desire but it is the Divine ( guidance ) that inspire... How dare he belittle the Prophet. All these academic assaults on Islam are futile, and I stand in readiness to defend it.

Singh quoted a Hadith compiled by Imam Bukhari and said that it was a fable. Why is it that he failed to quote the one who reported the hadith ? So that learned Muslims can check to see the catergory of hadith it falls into ?

Obviously his dishonest intentions were crystal clear. Does Singh knows the life of Imam Bukhari ? Obviously he doesn't. Does he knows the mode and steps that Imam Bukhari took before compiling the hadith ? I say he doesn't.

Singh claims to have read the Quran. Does he know the " ulum " of the Quran and the asbab ? i say he doesn't. So to him, I urge, don't present baseless arguments.

Singh, you obviously do not know what you are talking about.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

To Singh again, you mentioned one hadith in which you claimed that it relates to one stone flying from Moses ( Moses, peace be upon him ) cloth. I am now applying the right test to determine the hadith which you claimed to be compiled by Imam Bukhari.

Can you present a greater detail on who reported the hadith ? That is the " Rawi ". Because I need to see on the nature of this hadith, in defence of what you claimed to be a fable.

Let's say if the hadith is credible, then Is it a fable just because it doesn't fit into your logic ? What about the story of Moses ( pbuh ) both in the Quran and the Bible when he brought the Israelites out of Eygpt ? Through the sea which splitted into two ? I'm sure that does not fit into your logic as well. But we the Muslims and even the other People of the Scriptures accepted it. We did not use your confined logics as a test of acceptance of the stories of the Prophets and the Messengers of GOD. These are not fables.

You said that you studied the Quran ( you wrongly spelled it as Koran ) which I doubt you do. And you had stated that the saying of Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him ) have no authority from GOD. Do you know that the Quran mentions that " the Prophet spoke not out of desire, but it is the Divine that inspire ....? Do you know the difference between a Sunnah and a Hadith ?

What do you know any way ? I just feel that I'm wasting my precious time in corresponding with an ignorant.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

Does the Bible ( even the original one ) talks about banking too ? No, it doesn't. Does Jesus ( Jesus, peace be upon him ) mentions about banking ? No, he didn't. This conventional banking system was developed by others, and it allows usury which Islam prohibits.

In fact the Quran warns Muslims on usury practices because it is oppressive. Yes, the hadiths ( sahih Bukhari and Muslim ) does not mention banking but the allowing principles of banking are there.

Read " Al Ahkam As Suttaniyah ". On trade practices and commerce. These are Hanafi school of thought practices. And it can be followed.

Again I say this, any attack on Islam and belittling it's ability on economic and trade matters is unacceptable. I do not need Hud's stamping approval on anything. I believe that he lent support for Singh's view is done due to his own ignorance of Islamic economics.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

And to Hudd, before you jump to a foolish conclusion yourselves by saying that majority of people are stupid, just because they did not conform to an anti Islamic opinion, well I do not know what your credentials are.

I doubt that you ever studied Islamic economics for that matter.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all

To Singh, since you have introduced yourselves quite adequately, then I'll introduce mine as well. I am legally trained and law is my discipline. I do not wish to state my profession. But I belong to one which is a little higher than a mere advocate or counsel for that matter.

And I too had deliver speeches on law particularly the areas of International law. And I had the benefits of reading ( this is a legal terminology for studying ) Islamic law and Islamic economics, that's for my Masters. Please come to Malaysia and see the working apparatus of Islamic Bank, which is now the 2nd. largest bank in the country, with a very manageable NPL.

The banking system of the islamic bank is also Islamic in substance, in that we advocated the Hanafi school of thoughts on economics matters. Yes, Islam forbids usury but it allows the making of profits. The Turkish Ottoman empire advocated the same Hanafi school of thoughts in their codified " Al Majelle ". There is also an Islamic mortgage system, which we in Malaysia followed.

In fact even Philippines, a non Muslim country for that matter is taking a keen interest on Islamic banking system. So does Thailand. Islamic forbids the oppressive form of riba or usury but again there is always and " aqad " which can conforms to Islamic principle. Otherwise it would be seen that Islam is anti enterprise. There can be room for allowing loans on mutual understanding of terms.
The difference, among the many from conventional banks is that Islamic banking does not give the lender the discretion to inflat what was already agreed upon, even in worst economic downturns.

I'll write more.

Singh your points are valid. I'm glad to see a non-Muslim upholding Islamic values and denouncing ignorance. Unfortunately, the majority of the average(not highly educated Muslims) consider almost everything that was not present or practiced in the time of the prophet as haram or they strongly disagree with it. I think this stands from a sort of fear of losing the purity of Islam. Which is stupid in itself, knowledge must supercede tradition which could be flawed by regional or tribal beliefs. It was mentioned that the prophet would have said to his envoys or messengers: "When you go among the nations, do not reject everything from them on basis that was not part of your tradition, but rather accept everything that is good and does not vex your religion, thus increasing your lore and broadening your culture." But hey, certain Muslims listen more to their local mulas than to hadiths that would contradict their primitive practices and narrow mind set that was engraved in their tribal code and believed to be the corner stone of an Islamic governace! Let's remember Talinban rule in Afghanistan, since when pursuing sports was haram? But since soccer was invented by the British and not by mula X it was automatically deeemed haram and a tool of the infidel to convert the pure Muslims to polytheism or kaferhood. We live the times of fast and ready information accessible to all, do please educate yourselves, brothers...

Dr. Hathout is exactly on the right track with this article. Muslims need to face the reality of the country within which they live.

khan and Kris,

You shoudl not assume things. I have read the Koran, 4 hadiths ( but in detail only Bukhari and Muslim). Plus addtionally copious amount of literature written by the scholars of the Sallfi and hanafi school (especially on islamic law, science and finance) addtionally various pronouncements by the Ulema at Deoband in India. These are all impecable islamic sources.

So please keep personal issues aside.

Why do you not point me to a writing in the Koran, hadith or for that matter any pre 1000 AD text on Islam that discuss in detail the concept of finance that deals with ROA, option pricing, futures etc. I assure you there is none of that because people had no idea about these things in 8th Century.

By makig these outlandish claims that cannot be backed up you yourself's indulge in making Islam weaker. I will give you an example:
Bikharis Hadith is considered one of teh most repsected hadiths. One of the story on Moses in Bukahri' hadith relates to a STONE running away with the Moses clothes? tell me how does a stone run away (i suppose bit like hindus have story's of Monekys Flying)? tell me that this is not a FABLE? Thus you shoudl be careful when you say that wahst is written outside of Koran has any authority from Allah.
Saying that there is Islamic Finance is like saying that there is Islamic trees. It is not tenable from any angle.

if you want to debate the specific knowledge that i have of Islam and its functions we can do that separately. I have excellent understading of islamic theology and have participated in numerous debates.

If i do not agree with Islamic Theology does nto mean that i do not understand it. In a free world honest men can have genuine difference of opinion. It is my basic human right to have an independent opinion. I am sorry that my opinion after 12 years of study of world religions does not match with your opinon on Islam.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

I agree with Khan, Razzaq, Dr. Steve Connelly, Amina and all Muslim e mail writers who understands the dangers and hazards that this article and it's content to the Muslims and the world at large.

Just ignore what Kam, or little Romesh or Singh had wrote. What do these people know about Islam any way !

I am still stopping short of condeming this article as blasphemous but it comes too close to it.

Soo much for Kam's disgusting comments, I suggest that he better look at the glory of capitalism in his hometown Brazil, the rich mansions of the haves and the millions of slums ghettos in Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere. That he better take heed. Instead of presenting unintellectual views which made him look like a foolish goon from the rainforest.

Muslims are to follow Quran and Sunnah.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

I have never disagreed on good articles but this is one which I'll oppose. It caused confusion to all. It potrays that Islamic law need changes in accordance with time and circumstances.

I believe before the author can pen down his thoughts on this subject, he must ensure that he has adequate knowledge on Islamic law and Islamic economics. obviously he doesn't. This article invites the non Muslim more opportunity to level attacks on Islam and to question it's relevance to present times.

For instances, one e mail writer, Singh wrote that there is no such thing as Islamic financing. how ignorant is he ? obviously he has not been reading the " Muamalat fil Islam " but all in all, this article is misleading and the author is misrepresenting Islam to the world.

in as far as Islamic law is concern, the primary sources i.e the Sharia on the Quran and the Sunah must not be changed. The Sunnah i.e. the ones on jurisprudential matters cannot be changed to modify with geopoloitical or sociological circumstances. it is wrong to conclude that only Quran must remain unchanged, the binding authority of the Sunnah which seeks to explain the detailed rules in the Quran must not be changed too. Even though the Sunnah are the words of the Prophet ( peace be upon him ) but the Quran itself mentions that the Prophet "...spoke not out of desire but it is the Divine that inspire...."

Thus it is only the precedents of the learned ulamas or scholars which may be subject to changes, in that only qualified people who can perform the ijtihad on jurisprudential matters, then these may change.

So please non muslim e mail writers, do not write on matters which you are not familiar with.

And to the author of this article, you piece is really a surprise to me.

Kam and Singh

First read the Qur'an just alittle more thoroughly and on the life of the Prophet (S) before you guys make such ill informed comments on such topics as related to economics or politics and/or especially spirituality.

To say that the Qur'an is fallible or that Prophet's sunnah and hadiths are to be neglected shows your lack of understanding and knowledge of what exactly Islam entails. I'd encourage you guys to first study the BASIC tenets of Islam before you make ill advised "analysis" that obviously displays your ignorance of Islam, its rulings and its Messenger (S)--- I also recommend you study the Islamic empires-- which were all by the way based on the principles of Qur'an AND sunnah until their demise when they neglected the two timeless source of guidance, go figure...

Haram is haram, don't try to shape Islam to meet your needs.

Dear all,

I agree with this article. For one the concept of islamic finance is a mere semantics and in fact there is no such thing. There has never been an arranagment of trade in which a rate of return on asset (ROA) was not charged.

Thus no mulsim has ever done a transaction which did not include a rate of return (and that goes for prophet mohammed).

To call a rate of return interest, or profit is purely a mechanism unique to monetisation. Rate of return is low if security offered is high and (in modern system if the cost is deductible for tax - it is called interest) and rate of return is high if security offered is low (if it is not tax deductible it is called dividend. In this please note that the central concept is Rate of return on Assets(ROA). Thus this whole thing of not charging a rate of return on assets was neevr a part of any society since or before prophet mohammed. There is no divinity in this practice. Thus sooner the muslim scholars upgrade their thinking the better they will serve islam and ummah. Holding on to man made concepts like interest etc and not understading the fundamental of finance is not helpful and enormous resources are wasted in PRETENDING that a financial product in islamic when this is a pure fiction.

There are offcourse 100's of such example where the islamic scholars have confused " temporal" based concepts with divine revealations.

It pays to remember that only the Koran is supposed to be the Word of ALLAH not the hadiths, sunah or even prophet mohammeds saying outside of the Koran.

And it shoudl be clear to all Muslims and islamic scholars that nowhere in the korans 114 suras rate of return is mentioned or banned or recomended. Thus all Muslims should be free to partake in rate of return based investments.


Dr. Hathout's article has offered nothing new. Muslims in the USA are already following the country's laws that do not contradict Islamic laws. In terms of banking and mortgages, there are alternatives for Muslims. Those Muslims who see fit to use the existing system of borrowing and lending are doing it anyway. Many Muslim organizations are developing the Islamic finance. Even non Islamic banks like HSBC are high on Islamic finance. Dr. Hathout should promote and support the organizations that are developing Islamic institutions that are good for Muslims and the country's development and growth, rather than trying to tune up Islamic laws to suit the time and place. Followers of other faiths have already changed the teachings of their prophets. Just reform yourself and leave our laws for those who are worthy for it.

I disagree STRONGLY. I am a US convert who has spent time in other Muslim countries and my wife is from a Muslim country. They are muslim conutries because their people are muslim. They are not islamic because the ruling people lack taqwa and ikhlas as the guide for their decisions.
This article is dangerous because it encourages the Muslims to leave the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah. Were not the Jews chastised by Allah for changing their religion with their own hands? This guy is challenging the usool of the religion for what, to be more like these kuffar or to gain their acceptance? The Prophet saws forbid the people from imitating the kuffar and from settling among them with no need - and one of the conditions for settling is practicing your religion freely. I have seen people saying the Western countries are not "unislamic" - what have you been lookin at? Europe especially is suffering from extreme Islamophobia, even Britian, and they all seek ways to limit immigration. The US has slowly eroded the rights of people, especially muslims and arabs, and the policy toward the rest of the world's Muslim is clear! Do you not have a beef with the gov of a country that systematically allows death and destruction to come to your bros and sis? Or are you too satiated with your riba based mortgage and SUV to recognise. Why are all of the muslim countries messed up anyway - because their regimes have been propped up and buttressed by Western powers for their own benefit.
The purity of this religion is not to be compromised to make it more palatable for Western minds. They care little for our religion, so we need to seek to strengthen ourselves, our families and our countries, instead of angering Allah by changing His deen to appease his enemies. No wonder the Muslims are be humiliated everywhere.

A question for Bilal! You say, "Haram is haram, Halal is Halal. I agree with Amy..Bilal".
This statement is so silly and juvenile. Human being has a God given mental faculties. Why not use it instead of blindly following like an automatoon?

Examine it, reflect on it then only you accept or reject anything that comes in front of you.
Any blind following itself is haram.

Wa Salaam.

I agree with idea of dynamically re-interpreting Islam to fit the current age. It's a good article but could have used more examples of concepts that need re-defining. Are poligamy and interest-bearing loans the only two?

Haram is haram, Halal is Halal. I agree with Amy.

I think that this brother needs to remember that we, as muslims, need to always refer to the Quran and the Sunnah as our guides. Yes, it is more difficult livng in the west but Allah (SWT) never gives us more than we can bear.

I think it needs to be mentioned that 50% of muslims here in the west were born there, like myself. There also needs to be a clarification. The Quran states that we muslims, should not take non-muslims as friends over muslims.

Those of us who were born here are very proficient in dealing with this society and our fellow citizens and this knowledge makes it easier to make dawah.

InshaALLAH, we need to remember that in all of our actions we should be striving to be pleasing to ALLAH (SWT) to the best of our ability. ALLAH (SWT) loves that we do on a consistant basis.

The siratul mustaqeem is what we should be striving for, not trying to be too lax or too extreme.

The only deen accepted by ALLAH (SWT) is Islam and that is what is perfect, not human beings even those of us blessed with Islam.

Just a comment to the writer 'Amy".
You say,"Be very careful what you want to say is acceptable because they may not be acceptable to Allah,.. "
Really Amy!. Tell me why would Allah be interested in censoring what little some body may be saying in the world. Doesn't he have better things to do?

Don't you think Muslims need to get out of the 'box' and see if rest of humanity have something to offer from their own spiritual and religious insights to you and fellow Muslims?

Why are you people are so obsessed with immortality and infalliability of your own little Book?


assalamu alaikum my dear brother's and sister's out there. this article and book is a fitna for the muslims in the west, so stay away from it, and only consult those muslim scholars who are qualified to interpret the Qur'an and the Sunnah (those scholars who have chains of narration that connect them back to the Beloved Prophet pbuh - over 1400 years ago) wassalaam

3 of 5 dictators are "Muslims".
With the Saudi King at #5.

And yes, I seem to agree with this report. Muslims leaders should not even give anybody even the opportunity to criticize. The ones on the list are scary...

They might have fatawas from progressive Western-educated phd's to sanction their deadly and inhumane actions...


As the ancients were saying:"omni mutandur, nos et mutamur in illis."(Latin for, 'all things are changing and we are changing with them.') Jesus Christ reminded us of this when he addressed the Pharasees,"A generation that cannot read the signs of changing times." Quran is for ever, but times are changing and we need to adjust ourselves, not the Quran to the changing times. We use telephone and computers to communicate, we do not send out messengers on horse back. Quran is our guidance and a tool of survival against spiritual and moral corruption. If you don't want to be a drunkard or a prostitute, there is no law in the civilized world that would force you to. You accept what you are comfortable with and hope for the infinite mercy of the Almighty.

Yes, the Dr. is right. There is hope for reform, but look at all the negetive comments posted here. And he is being opposed by all the vile, hateful, Wahhabi preaching in the moques. You have to ask, why are so many muslims leaving represive, dictatorial governments to live in a free country and then preach hatred about their host country?

... from a so called Muslim state to an unislamic state.

I STRONGLY DISAGREE that this is an "unislamic state".

Even under Dubya and after post-9/11 tragedy, US is more fair to Muslims than many others I have visited.

I am an immigrant from South East Asia & I am here by Allah's Grace and Help. Living here by my own choice since this country offers equality and liberty that is MISSING in other "Muslim" lands.

We can practice Islam freely and live without the gross DISCRIMINATION against non-white-non-Arabs rampant in Arab nations.

Middle Eastern states are UNISLAMIC, DESPOTIC, FASCIST regimes. Please, do not blame OTHERS for the blunders of the Middle Eastern people.

Arabists have forgotten the true teachings of Allah as taught by Prophet Muhammad SAW. They are too busy changing & "modernizing" everything.

Just like the author's inappropriate suggestions to redefine Islam. I have first hand experience of what is bring suggested:

A Hajj videotape from a So Cal Islamic offices about udhiya during Hajj WRONGLY states: "Abraham switched his son for a ram".

I called and said, that Allah by His Mercy, swapped Prophet Ishmael for a ram.

The customer service rep. said that it was "TOO BARBARIC" in these times that a father would slaughter his own son.

The Jewish and Christian scriptures say, Allah saved the blessed son. The tape from SoCal IC says Abraham swapped his son. Go figure...

These suggestions are dangerous...

ASA, I think first we must question why Muslims are migrating from a so called Muslim state to an unislamic state.
Ecomically if Muslims establish there own banking system through small credit Unions at first. There would be no need to concern ourselfs about riba.

If we stop the enter prejudice with in the umma, it would be a gaint step toward the true sunna and a lot of our issues would be resolved.

We must first build a foundation from the ground up and not from the top down.


AMY FROM U.S.A. said:
As a muslim convert living in the U.S., I have to disagree with the opinions of the author. Haram is haram so don't try to make it halal. Riba is not permissable. Next you will say we can eat whatever we want or dress as we want. Interpretation in a modern sense cannot apply to basic halal and haram. Those guidelines are already spelled out in the Quran and are timeless. New innovations such as tv viewing or radio listening or other new technologies can be viewed in a new light because these things did not exist in the past. Be very careful what you want to say is acceptable because they may not be acceptable to Allah, subhana wa taala.

>It is clear that Islamic law historically was
>codified to serve a ruling majority, which >presents difficult (if not impossible) >expectations for a minority group that is trying
>to establish its place within a new multi-faith,
>pluralist society.

I am surprised that Islamic Center of Southern California would promote self-proclaimed "Muslim" intellectual theorists who question the absolute Universality (time and space) of Al Quran.

But then again, the primary supporter of DINA* moon-sighting calculationist is from that So. Cal. institution...

DINA - Deformed-Islamists of North America, similar to Reformed-Judaism. Both people are devoid of any Divine guidance.

May Allah Give us true Guidance against those astray...

again--for any kind of "interpretation" of the Qur'an we have the example of the Prophet (S) and the his noble companions (RA)--and so if Islam is not "catering" to your mortgage brand houses and credit cards than I suggest you leave that country and reside somewhere else!!! i don t think it s Qur'an or Islam that needs new "interpretation" maybe we need to examine OURSELVES and "interpret" how we think and why we think they way we do living in non-Muslim countries---and lastly, who said Islam was suppose to be a walk int the park---we want everything on the silver platter (i.e. western mentalitiy) that we so soon forget how our noble and simple our predecessors lived---please Doc, I suggest you read your Islamic History alittle more closely and confront this issue with the REAL scholars instead of speaking on your own whims, with all due respect!!!


I think the doctor has caved to the pressure of fox news an other anti-muslim begots. Islam need no interpretation other than the interpretations of the great ulima of the for schools. what I disagree mostly about the article is the statement "the Qur'an in its time" Doc the Qur'an is timeless. we can not allow ourselves to go against the Qur'an in the issue of interest because of our tough situation. it is not as if muslims in the past avoided interest because they were well-off. muslims in all ages seek allah's ridwan above all else that is what makes us Muslim.

Dear Maher,

You need to exmaine the Quran minutely if you have not done so as yet. This Glorious book is the manual for human beings. And given to us by the Creator. Why should we change? Never!



i am engineer. i live in karachi. i am muslim by birth. i have read this article and i make to it is that we can not change the islam ideology. whether we live in a islamic state or otherwise. i myself feel lucky to be born muslim and live in muslim country where muslims are in majority. majority or minority we must abide rule of islam else we will be called muslim but we actually are not living like one. we should not consider what is islam is today by watching the lives of muslim living today. we should consider only what is islam is and not what are muslims now. you give example of polygamy though at pre islamic time many wives are kept by one man but islam forbid that and allow only four wives given equal rights to all four wives. this doesnot change whether we live in muslim country or non muslim country. we should know that if we can balance all four wives than we should think of marriage with four wives. nowaday it is very difficuilt to keep one wives. i myself is married with 3 kids and 1 wife. so it doesnt matter if u live in muslim or non muslim country.
in islam we are forbid to make friend with non muslim (kafer) because they are not true with you. but if you live in non muslim country and your neighbour is not muslim. then islam also say that be good to your neighbour and neighbour does not mean that that person living nextdoor but nearabout 40 houses are neighbours. so we will be good to our neighbour whether he is muslim or non muslim. this good behaviour of yours will affect positively on your neighbour as well and you will be spreading islam thought and islam as muhammad pbuh has spread by his good moral he converted people in muslim.last word i must say is that it is the thinking (neeat) that is important.

Romesh Chander asked: "When you 'modify' islamic law, will it still be called 'islamic'?"

You'll need to understand the concept of Islamic scholarship and how Islamic Law (Shari`ah ) is derived. Muslims derive the rules of Islamic Law primarily from the Qur'an and the Sunnah. After these main sources comes secondary sources of such as the ijma`(consensus), qiyas (analogical deduction), ijtihad (personal reasoning) of Muslim scholars and maslaha (public interest).
An important point that should be made clear is that Muslim scholars who exercise ijtihad do not differ as to the basic principles of the Shari`ah. There could never be qualified scholars who said the Five Prayers are not obligatory or even that the Dawn Prayer, for example, is three rak`ahs and not two. They differ only as to detailed issues.

When someone talk about 'modifying' Islamic law, it is this Ijtihad they are talking about and it in no way changes the Islamic law to become unislamic because they are certain conditions that has to be met before exercising it. Ijtihad is the instrument which has been given to the followers of Islam by God Almighty, along with the Qur'an and the Sunnah, that guarantees to offer a solution to any problem faced by them for all times to come. It preserves dynamism and relevance.

It is good of you to ask a good question here but it is better if you don't just limit yourself to articles (the authors' views) published on this website as it may cause you to misunderstand and deduce your own superficial comments on Islam, I suggest you visit and learn more from other reliable websites. For Shari'ah I recommend you the following:

What Allah(swt) has made lawful, you are suggesting we make unlawful. What He(swt) has made unlawful, you want to us to find a way of making it lawful. Please refer to the Qur'an and find out what Allah(swt) says about this.

There seems to be a hesitation on the part of many Muslims, both here and in the US to educate us about Islam. I think for most Muslims its the fear of ridicule, violence and state sponsored oppression that keeps them shy and prevents them from explaining the faith. I had to read up on my own to understand what Islam really was all about. Many Muslims I approached were too scared and intimidated to speak about Islam or answer my questions. Perhaps they thought I was the police or worse. In any case, based upon my readings of various Islamic texts, I would venture to remind Muslims that they have an obligation to convey the message. It is not up to them to sell the message, they simply have to get the message across. It is up to God to open hearts and minds guide those with good hearts to Himself. Also it might be a good idea to first establish common ground on many issues before striking upon the differences. I find many, especially uninformed youth, eager to debate Islamic issues but get all flustered because of their inability to express themselves coupled with unbridled passion for their faith. But then if they cannot keep their tempers under control nor do they have proper knowledge they should not even attempt to debate Islamic issues because then they would be doing Islam a great disservice instead, by making inaccurate and misinformed statements. Islam is really a very interesting faith that attracts any one with humility and basic common sense and a desire to learn and enrich oneself. Not just Islamic knowledge, but sound general knowledge on a wide range of subjects and the ability to express oneself are key to getting the message across.

I do not see any signs by this author of article for "changing' contents of Quran etc., bit only asking the followers to reexamine and reinterpret in the current times.

I think he is right in his plea to his fellow Muslims to ponder over changed times and not get trapped in a medival mindset. The value system and the truth perceived by rest of humanity can be so different from what practised in Islamic world now or 1400 years ago. Also for Muslims in adopted lands, life will be easier and conflict free if they avoid demanding from others so called 'Islamic" values which often are meaning less to Non-Muslims.

Claiming " I am always right and you are wrong" breeds intolerance and bigotry. It is better to exchange ideas and resort to dialogue than take to street and resort to violence. Then there will be peace for all.



I am really happy to read the comments by brothers Babandi A.Gumel, Adam, Fedup, Dr Steve Connolly, Safaa Abdullah. Moreover, we should not repeat the mistake the Christians did with their book and performed gymnastics in the name of interpretation which have resulted in a thousand versions of the Holy Bible and miss out on the true message of God... in the end only we shall be the losers. Allah guide us all to the truth. Ameen.

We need qualified Muslim scholars who are trained in traditional Islamic 'fiqh' to discuss issues of importance regarding the 'shariah'.

Anybody with an Arabic name is not qualified to redefine our 'deen' for us.

Medical doctors, gynecologists, engineers, professors and other self-proclaimed "Muslim intellectuals" are in no position to mislead Muslims by interpreting the Quran as they see fit.

Dr Hathout writes "This question ' of fixed and flexible within Islamic law ' has to be posed and to be answered ANEW. Thus, very necessary and very exciting developments must be undertaken by Muslim intellectual leaders in their new homes in the West.".

Seems odd that he wants to re-examine and come to a different conclusion (otherwise why re-examine). Or based on some 'technicality' wants to provide a different interpretation. This seems to me a concept of 'situational religion', just like the concept of 'situational ethics' ion the western countries.

Who is he trying to fool? God!! And can God be fooled or he is fooling himself and everybody else who is ready to follow him and his interpretations.


As a muslim living in the west I do not agree with Dr. Hathout suggestions about innovating establised islamic principals. The article insinuates that "true islamic" principals and sharia does not match the best the west has to offer. Islam at its core advocates for the minority and the oppressed - something that the west talks about but does little to promote without some ulterior motives. Muslims in the west have the great oppurtunity to help non-muslims to see the greatness in our religion. Striving to convert the west to islam is also unacceptable. I believe the muslims in living in the west can help those in the east also...too many haram pratices in the east. The secular society is more consistent with Islam than any other religion. Muslims are expected to be moderate in their behavior - not extremists.

Muslims are minorities in their own countries, East! This is an amazing reality. Today's Muslims are silenced and accused under varius labels in both East and West. The real problem lies in the East however. The priority is should be given to the East not West. When Muslims get enough respect in the East, the problem in the West will be automatically solved.
Allah knows best!

I think Dr. Hathout forgot to look at the largest Muslim minority in the world, which is Muslims living in India. I felt Dr. Hathout assumes all muslims come from middle east, africa or malasia. Muslims have been living in India for last 500 years and have been a minority. There are some great lessons to be learnt from that example.

i think its a really good idea to have a website about islam it will encourage people to read it then judge us muslims

Dear brother Maher,
Salam... Allah has told us in the Holy Quran "Alif Lam Ra. (This is) a Book with verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning) further explained in detail from One Who is Wise and Well-Acquainted (with all things): sura 11:1.
Hence the law is made clear to us in the Holy Quran for polygamy in sura Nisa "If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans marry women of your choice two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them) then only one or (a captive) that your right hands possess. That will be more suitable to prevent you from doing injustice." 4:3. And as for the usury, the Holy Quran by Allah's grace guides us again in Sura Al- Baqara "275 Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Evil One by his touch hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord desist shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for Allah (to judge); but those who repeat (the offence) are companions of the fire: they will abide therein (for ever).
278 O ye who believe! fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for usury if ye are indeed believers." 2:275-278

Now what more interpretation do you want to do for a commandment so simple and straight? The real issue facing the Muslims living in the world today is to read the Holy Quran in Arabic and at the same time understand the Arabic text either by learning the language or reading a translation and then spreading the message of truth among all human beings east or west. This is the only way.

We all will face trials and struggles during this life some more than others, but the Qur'an was given to us so that we will know how to live our life. Life and times are always changing, and reinterpretation of the qur'an to make a better life here and now is something that I would have to question. Please take the time to read the Qur'an, especially the surah Al-Nahl and look for Allah (swt) for guidance.

It is rather odd that muslims are discussing 'modifying' islamic law to be applied in the west. Folks, the west is secular -- there is separation of the 'mosque' and the state; you cannot have religious law. Do we have Jewish laws in US or Methodist laws in US? US eing a predominantly christian country, what we have are 'christian' customs, e.g., Sunday as a holiday (though most of the businesses are open), Christmas/New year as holiday (though everybody is travelling). All one can ask for is recognition (if possible) of some muslim customs, but that is possible only if you are a very strong minority.

It is rather odd to discuss human rights under islam in the west; human rights are determined by secular laws though, in some cases, influenced by religious considerations.

What muslims need to do is to discuss these things where they matter the most and needed the most -- in the muslim majority countries. Unfortunately, no such discussion is taking place in muslim countries like Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, etc.

When you 'modify' islamic law, will it still be called 'islamic'?

Being outlawed and a religious minority in a foreign place is not new for Biblical Christianity. It was so in the Roman Empire,the Soviet Union, and now China. yet each time Biblical Christianity not only survived but thrived. And it will continue to do so.

Allah will not change condition of people until they change what is in their hearts.The new reality Dr Maher is talking, to me is simple and straight forward.Our intentions have all changed this is why Allah has changed our conditions.If we go back to our roots the way of Rasulullah sincerely from the core of our hearts with the intention to give something to these people i.e the Westerners who pride themselves with their material possessions not wanting anything from them or trying to grab their material possessions which they labored all their lives you will see us living and coexisting with them anywhere peacefully.What brings conflicts and wars is not materialism?.We are not saying you abondon all materials but rather don't let it go in your heart by making it a purpose.
When somebody asked Rasulullah what shall I do Allah to love me and people also to love me? He said love the Akhirat and turn your back against Duniya then you will be loved by Allah and avoid what people posses then they will love you.We are so materialistic this is why you find some of us are of the opinion Islam cannnot be practiced in some advanced countries such as Europe America and Australia.I think it is the Muslims who unfortunately are not showing good example this is why the Non-Muslims have serious misgivings and doubts about our Deen.When the colonialists went our countries they did not change their ways of lives why should we change the simple beloved ways of our Prophet.He was example more than 1400 years and he is still the example and he will be the best example for ever.Anybody who wants become successful in this life and the hereafter must adopt his style which gave Sahabah izzat(respect)in Duniya and are definitely successful like Ambiya in the Hereafter.So we can live anywhere in the World at the same time adopting the ways of Rasulullah and we will be successful anywhere by the Grace of Allah without feeling we are inferior human beings.Inna akaramakum indal Lahi atqaaku

Most Muslims living in west have migrated by choice and for economic reasons. It is not a migration due to oppression in their homeland.
So writer is suggesting that Quran and Islamic Sharia should be modified to make people happy in westren countries. If it is so hard to live in west for Muslims the doors are always open to go back home except for those who have no home country anymore.
I am sure Islamic Sharia does not impose any hardships for muslims living in non muslim lands. Most restrictions are matter of choice. No one in west forces you to drink alcohol or have mortgage or not do your prayers. Yes all your legal issues will handle by the law of the land not by sharia. This is the tradeoff muslim know when they came to west.
Leave Quran and Sharia alone in west and apply to muslim countries who desperately need that.

Maher calls for making the Halal Haram and the Haram Halal. He directly contradicts the provision in the Sharia for polygamy by calling for it to be considered illegal. According to Kufr law it is already illegal, but to call for it being illegal according to Islam is a grave error for a Muslim. In fact it is tantamount to Kufr. Maher's article is also factually incorrect - Muslims have been minorities in the countries they have lived in throughout history. What is different now, and since 1924, is that we have not lived in the presence of the Islamic State - Al-Khilafah - to guide and protect the Ummah wherever it is located. Maher needs to reform his ideas and instead call for the re-establishment of the Khilafah.

The article began like it is addressing the issues of only muslims in the west ("minority" as the author will want us to belief), but at the middle it deviated to making it general on all muslims to adopt changes to Qur'an in order to survive! Or is it?

The fact of the matter is that Islam is flexible on most issues if the circumstances are excruciating enough to warrant those flexibilities. But on no condition can this situation be made permanent or worst than that, to replace a given decree of Allah.

Allah is very clear on the issue of polygamy and usury. Q4:3 speaks on marrying more than one wife and four as limit. And decree on usury as in Q2:275-276, Q2:278-279 is equally very clear. While Allah makes it optional for marriage of more than one wife, He is categorical in abolition of usury in its entirity, and even hinted for that individual dealing in usury to awaits war between him on one side and Allah and His messenger on the other. The Prophet as a role model for the believers practiced the marriage of more than one wife and he equally spelt out with explanations the way of usury in many ahadith. If for any reasons "moderates" in the minority muslims in the West wish to chose to abolished the rulings of Allah and His messenger just to feel they belong, then the choice is theirs. After all there is no compulsion in this beautiful religion of Islam. But know that, Innal haram bayyinun wa innal halal bayyinun...

And also to close my comments let me say to those who feel that rulings by Allah or His messenger are inadequate for all TIMES to ponder one of the sayings of Allah on this issue and His decree in Q4:115.

This alone will make any right thinking person to reflect and turn around and accept the rulings of Allah wholeheartedly in all situations, whether that person feels comfortable or ortherwise about such rulings.

I fully agree that the interpretation of Quran should be adapted to modern times, but none of its clear and decisive injunctions should even be considered to be measured against the law of any land, period.

For instance, when you say that polygamy should be deemed "illegal" to conform to today's law, what you are really saying is that the law as dictated by Western "civilizations" is a more superior law. No muslim government ever made it law that a muslim man must marry more than one woman, it was always optional and should remain so, so that when a man and woman see the need for it they can engage it without legal recourse.

I think muslims should lobby to make the option of polygamy legal in western societies. If the fight for homosexual unions and gay rights can push its way through the political machine, why should polygamy (under the circumstances recommended by the Quran) be pushed in the closet?

Also, the Quran forbids Usury. We should not be looking for any loopholes in the Quran to get around this, but should try our best to create an environment where we don't have to engage it. In the meanwhile, buy a house. Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

We need qualified Muslim scholars who are trained in traditional Islamic 'fiqh' to discuss issues of importance regarding the 'shariah'.

Anybody with an Arabic name is not qualified to redefine our 'deen' for us.

Medical doctors, gynecologists, engineers, professors and other self-proclaimed "Muslim intellectuals" are in no position to mislead Muslims by interpreting the Quran as they see fit.

I agree, if local laws prohibit polygamy then Muslims should uphold local laws and not indulge in polygamy.

Domestic abuse is a serious social evil that has immigrated from the "old lands". Every assistance must be given to law enforcement to stop violence against women and children.Even if the aggressor is an Arab,Pakistani,Misri,Hindee,Muslim, etc.

However,bank-interest is usury.Usury is forbidden.There are ways to avoid interest and still enjoy wholesome livelihood in the US.

Similarly,eating non-'zabiha' meats,drinking alcohol,eating pork,indulging in illicit relationships are forbidden.

Disregarding SAW's 'sunnah' and/or Quranic ordinance just to make life simpler (eg. ISNA's calculations for calendars, praying 'Juma' or daily 'salaat' as per one's convenience, deciding proper 'wudu' before prayers as superfluous, declaring prayers themselves as obsolete, denigrating the 'hijab', allowing 'ribaa', social-dating, homosexuality etc.) is laying the foundations of a non-divine religion.

It is fairly easy to "simplify" Islam and change the fundamentals. 'Shaitan' is a great ally when unqualified people indulge in reshaping Allah's 'deen'.

Pseudo-intellectuals cannot justify these innovations,'bida', on the pretext of making Islam more palatable to Western-bred "Muslims".

The question one needs to ask: Are the new interpretations really within Islam or some new man-made religion?

Islam is tolerant of other religions and such misguided pedagogues and groups should be tolerated as adherents of a new religion.