The Qur’án in the Spanish courts

The “Kamal Case” and freedom of Islam in Spain

1. Case history

On the 29th of November 2004 Mohamed Kamal Mustafá, an imam of the Suhail Mosque in Fuengirola, was imprisoned in a Spanish gaol, from which he was freed three weeks later. The imprisonment took place as a result of the sentence handed down in January by a judge from Barcelona, who sentenced the imam to one year and three months in prison and a fine of 2,160€, for the offence of incitement to violence on the basis of gender.

The case goes back to the year 2000, when the Casa del Libro Árabe (House of Arab Book) in Barcelona printed the book La mujer en el Islam (Women in Islam). In the chapter titled ‘Cuestiones dudosas’ (Uncertain Questions), its author posed the question “Does a man have the right to beat his wife?”. Asserting this right, Kamal Mustafá gives particulars about the “limitations when resorting to physical punishment”:

“In order to avoid greater harm one should never beat in a situation of blind or extreme rage. One should not hit the sensitive parts of the body. The blows should be given to specific parts of the body such as the feet and hands, using a rod that is not too thick, that is to say, it should be thin and light in order to not leave scars or bruises on the body. The blows should not be hard or heavy, because the end sought is to cause psychological suffering rather than to humiliate or physically ill-treat.”

(La mujer en el Islam, p. 87).

In a ruling that will mark a before and after in the legal situation of Islam in Spain, the judge considered these phrases as an incitement to gender-based violence.

Following its publication in the year 2000, it did not take long for the contents of the book to leap to the attention of the press, when various associations for women’s rights voiced the alarm. In the media, it was considered as yet a further example of the “discriminatory nature of Islam” towards women. All this served to focus media attention on Islam and Muslim men, who were once more accused of being sexist and barbarians, once more as a result of the words of an imam.

Alarmed by this situation, those at the head of three associations of Muslim women in Spain (the Asociación An-Nisá, the Asociación Inshal-lâh, and the Asociación Baraka), sent a setter to the author of the book, in which they voice their concern because the text could be interpreted as saying that Islam permits physical, psychological or moral ill-treatment of women, and demanding the removal of the cited paragraphs. In addition, the Federación Española de Entidades Religiosas Islámicas (Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Organizations, FEERI, of which the organization that the very Kamal Mustafá directs forms a part), asked its author for a correction of the text. In spite of the criticism, its author decided to maintain his stance, claiming that he is one of the only two people in Spain with the right to interpret the Qur’án and issue fatwas, given his status as a “wise man of Islam”.

In his eagerness to save his reputation, Kamal Mustafá has not hesitated in classing as “heretics” all those who opposed his interpretation. In his attempt to justify himself, he wrote a “correction and explanation” in which he said that the Qur’án was revealed to “uncultured Bedouins” and that he had merely tried to “soften it”. This attitude has even been criticised by his own colleagues. In statements to the press, the imam of the Marbella Mosque (also financed by Saudis), Allal Bachar, considered the book as “a provocation, out of place in an advanced and democratic society. Another imam declared that “Kamal has lost his pride” (testimonies collected by El País Semanal, 14 July 2002).

2. The defence takes the Qur’án to court

The case arrived at the courts when various pro-human rights associations filed a suit for discrimination against women. The prosecution charged the imam with an offence against Article 510 of the Código Penal (Criminal Code), which provides as punishment imprisonment for “one to three years” and a fine of six to twelve months for those who incite violence on the basis of religion, race, sex or ideology.

During the trial, Kamal Mustafá affirmed again and again that he could not be tried for what was “the doctrine of Islam”, that he was “opposed to ill-treatment”, and that he had only tried to “soften” what the Qur’án states. He presented himself as a “modernistic wise man” and as a “defender of women’s rights”. His explanation of the “limitations when resorting to physical punishment” of women has as its starting point his reading of a verse of the Qur’án in which it speaks of the husband’s attitude in cases of domestic conflict:

“… wa l-latî tajâfûna nushûçahunna fa’dzûhunna wa ihÿurûhunna l-madâÿi’ wa idribûhunna.”

(Qur’án, surah 4, an-Nisa’, verse 34)

This passage has been the object of innumerable explanations and interpretations throughout history. The problem originates in the polysemous nature of the last word, idribûhunna. According to numerous authors, the verb daraba in this context means “beat, strike”, with which the Qur’án is permitting, as a last resort, the beating of wives:

“As for those women with whom you may have a dispute; admonish them; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them.

This possibility is taken up by the majority of translators of the Qur’án into Western languages. In the case of Kamal Mustafá, in wanting to justify and “empty of meaning” the physical punishment by means of the aforementioned limitations, he has transformed it into a psychological/moral punishment, without realising that this could be more serious:

“Thanks to the aforementioned restrictions and limitations, Islam has emptied the physical punishment of meaning as a repressive measure and has converted it in to plain ill-treatment of a psychological/moral character.” (La mujer en el Islam, p. 87).

In his defence, he tried at all times to convince the judge of his innocence, with the argument that Islam permits the beating of women according to the conditions set out by him. In support of this thesis, he presented evidence of Arabists and Islamic legal texts from the 10th to 12th centuries. At all times his defence was based on the imputation of Islam as a whole (in relation to this type of attitude, see the Qur’án, Surah 5, verse 107).

In these circumstances, one understands the decision of the members of the Spanish Islamic community to give evidence against Kamal Mustafá, at the request of the prosecution. Amongst those giving evidence there appeared important members of the Spanish Muslim community, such as Jadicha Candela, president of the Asociación an-Nisá, Maryam Cabezos, president of the Asociación Cultural Inshal-lâh, and Mehdi Flores, secretary of the FEERI. These Muslims gave evidence that Islam is opposed to ill-treatment, citing the authorised sources – the Qur’án and the Sunna.

According to their evidence, and in relation to the aforementioned verse, it cannot refer to “ill-treat” or “physically beat”. In any case, it would refer to “beat” in a figurative sense – a coup de théâtre or ‘to set an example’ in order to bring about a change. According to the witnesses, this interpretation would be in accordance with the Sunna of Muhammad (peace be on him), who clearly showed his rejection of all forms of violence against women. Thus, the judge was able to listen to the hadiths in which Muhammad (peace be on him) states: “Never beat God’s handmaidens”, “He who beats his wife is the worst of all men”, and “The best amongst you men is he who best treats his wife”.

One of the most heated moments of the trial occurred when the judge called for several copies of the Qur’án in order to check whether it justifies the ill-treatment of women. As pointed out by various witnesses, the judge’s request was completely out of place. When John Lennon’s assassin stated that he had been inspired by Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, it did not cross the judge’s mind to ask for a copy of this book in order to check whether this was the case. Neither do they bring up the Old Testament when a fanatical Christian kills an abortionist doctor.

In the majority of the translations into Western languages, the verb daraba in the aforementioned verse is translated as “beat” or one of its derivatives:

Translation by Muhámmad Asad: “beat them”.

Yusuf Ali: “beat them (lightly)”.

Pickthal: “scourge them”.

Shakir: “beat them”.

Muhammad Ayub: “beat them”.

Rashad Kalipha: “beat them”.

T.B. Irving: “(even) beat them (if necessary)”.

Muhammad Muhsin Khan: “beat them (lightly, if it is useful)”.

The majority of these translators add an explanatory note to the verse, attempting to justify it. Muhámmad Asad offers an extensive explanation, demonstrating the justifications as much as the contradictions in these translations:

It is evident from many authentic Traditions that the Prophet himself intensely detested the idea of beating one’s wife, and said on more than one occasion, “Could any of you beat his wife as he would beat a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?“. According to another Tradition, he forbade the beating of any woman with the words, “Never beat God’s handmaidens” (Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Hibban and Hakim, on the authority of Iyas ibn ‘Abd Allah; Ibn Hibban, on the authority of ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas; and Bayhaqi, on the authority of Umm Kulthum). When the above verse of the Qur’án authorizing the beating of a refractory wife was revealed, the Prophet is reported to have said: “I wanted one thing, but God has willed another thing – and what God has willed must be best” (see Manar V, 74). With all this, he stipulated in his sermon on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, shortly before his death, that beating should be resorted to only if the wife “has become guilty, in an obvious manner, of immoral conduct“, and that it should be done “in such a way as not to cause pain (ghayr mubarrih)“; authentic Traditions to this effect are found in Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah. On the basis of these Traditions, all the authorities stress that this “beating”, if resorted to at all, should be more or less symbolic – “with a toothbrush, or some such thing” (Tabari, quoting the views of scholars of the earliest times), or even “with a folded handkerchief” (Razi); and some of the greatest Muslim scholars (e.g., Ash-Shafi’i) are of the opinion that it is just barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided: and they justify this opinion by the Prophet’s personal feelings with regard to this problem.”

(Muhámmad Asad, The Message of the Quran, p. 108).

This note situates us within the legal tradition in which Kamal Mustafá includes himself and has developed, and from which he gets his qualification Doctor in Sciences of Islam from the University of al-Azhar. Given its contradiction with the general teachings of Islam and with the Sunna of the Prophet (peace and blessings), once has to explain this verse in some way. Thus, with the intention of “emptying of violence” this “beating”, a series of limitations is indicated: one cannot strike in moments of anger; one cannot strike sensitive areas; one can only strike lightly, etc. Anyone can see that these limitations dilute the punishment to its minimum and make it ridiculous or impossible.

This has an explanation in the very polysemous nature of the word idribûhunna. Taking into account that many Arabic speaking Muslims read verse 34 of an-Nisa as “beat them”, and that the Sunna explicitly prohibits this, the fuqaha have come up with a means of uniting the two. They have come up with a series of limitations to this “beat them” making it so absurd that it cannot take place. For example, there is a hadith which speaks of “not beating the face” of the enemy, given that the face is the sign of our likeness. The idea of beating with a siwak (a type of toothbrush) has its origin in a hadith in which the Prophet (saw), angry with someone, said to him “if it wasn’t for the fact that I know that it will weigh against me on the Day of Judgement, I would beat you with this [showing a siwak]” (passed on by Ibn Majah and for Ibn Hibban in their Sahih). In this way, it is an attempt to avoid beatings without giving up the possibility (which is a fact) of reading the verse of an-Nisa in the sense of “beat them”. A stratagem – when the causes that have made it necessary are left to one side, one gives way to ambiguities and misunderstanding, such as in the case of the imam of Fuengirola.

3. Divergent readings

Opposing these types of arguments (casuistry typical of Islamic jurisprudence of the 9th to 12th centuries), the Muslims called by the prosecution stated emphatically their rejection of any possibility of “ill-treatment” of wives, no matter how remote or “limited” it claims to be. In this case, the “limitations” do no more than leave the door open, just as it has been shown in cases of domestic violence in which a Muslim man has sought protection in his religion in order to justify his actions.

In this controversy, the determinant point is the meaning of verse 34 of the surah an-Nisa. In their appearances in court the Muslims called to give evidence for the prosecution explained that the verb daraba is eminently polysemous and that in the very Qur’án it has different meanings.

To travel, to leave: 3:156; 4:101; 38:44; 73:20; 2:273

To strike: 2:60,73; 7:160; 8:12; 20:77; 24:31; 26:63; 37:93; 47:4

To beat: 8:50; 47:27

To give examples: 14:24,45; 16:75,76,112; 18:32,45; 24:35; 30:28,58; 36:78; 39:27,29; 43:17; 59:21; 66:10,11

To take away, deprive: 43:5

To condemn: 2:61

To seal, to hide: 18:11

To cover: 24:31

To explain: 13:17

In the Qur’án, daraba appears with at least ten different meanings which are only some of the more than thirty meanings of this Arabic verb. When the alfaquíes explain how the ablutions (wudu) should be carried out they use this verb – “pour” (daraba) water over the face. Other meanings are: “imprint” (coin); “multiply” (numbers); finish (a job); etc. From this, one understands that each reader of the Qur’án in Arabic reads this part of the verse according to his or her own understanding.

Not all translators translate the verb daraba, in an-Nisa 34, as “beat”. Some scholars translate idribûhunna as ‘to set an example’, like Amina Wadud (‘Qur’án and Women’, 1999) and Asma Barlas (‘Beliving Women’, 2002). The Saudi Dr. Abdul Hamid Abu Sulayman, president of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and rector of the International Islamic University of Malaysia affirms in his article ‘Chastising Women: A Means to Resolve Marital Problems’: “A correct reading of the term daraba advises a husband to ‘separate’ from his wife, to ‘distance himself’ from her and to ‘leave’ the conjugal home”. In addition, he indicates that when the Qur’án talks of “strike physically” it uses the verb jalada (flog), as at the beginning of the surah an-Nur (punishment in the case of adultery).

Edip Yuksel, translator of the Qur’án into Turkish, states that the translation “beat them” is erroneous, and that it ought to be translated as ‘separate from one another’. One of the meanings of daraba is ‘to travel’ or ‘to leave’ as found in the Qur’án (3:156; 4:101; 38:44; 73:29; 2:273). This opinion is shared by numerous authors, such as Mohammed Abdul Malek (‘Does The Quran Sanction The Beating of Women?’), Uzma Mazhar (‘Treatment of Wife’), and many others.

This reading is reinforced by the verse as a whole and the verse that follows it. One needs to step back a little in order to see the whole picture. The whole can be understood as follows. If you have domestic problems, in the first place try to talk calmly. If this does not solve the problem, leave your wives alone in bed. As a last resort it is best to separate. If they are in agreement, in no way should you look for excuses to abuse them. Seek an arbitrator to settle your disputes and formalise the divorce.
This translation is in accordance with other passages of the Qur’án which deal with the subject of divorce:
A divorce may be [revoked] twice, whereupon, the marriage must either be resumed in fairness or dissolved in a goodly manner.
(Surah 2, Al-baqara, 229)
And so, when you divorce women and they are about to reach the end of their waiting-term, then either retain them in a fair manner or let them go in a fair manner. But do not retain them against their will in order to hurt [them]: for he who does so sins indeed against himself.
(Surah 2, Al-baqara, 231)
If you marry believing women and then divorce them ere you have touched them, you have no reason to expect, and to calculate, any waiting period on their part hence, make [at once] provision for them, and release them in a becoming manner.
(Surah 33, Al-Ahsab, 49). 
And if a woman has reason to fear ill-treatment from her husband, or that he may turn away from her it shall not be wrong for the two to set things peacefully to rights between themselves: for peace is best, and selfishness is ever-present in human souls.
(Surah 4, an-Nisa, 128)
In the case of a serious domestic conflict the Qur’án recommends “resolving the matter in a goodly manner”, “without hurting them” and “in a becoming manner”. Between this and “beat them” there is an abysm, and as such this translation appears incongruous.
Ahmed Ali offers an alternative to the plausible translation of wa idribûhunna as “(as a last resort) separate”. In his translation of the Qur’án published by Princeton University Press (1988; pp. 78-79) he translates an-Nisa 34:
 As for women you feel are averse, talk to them suasively; then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) and go to bed with them (when they are willing).

Where some read “beat them”, Ahmed Ali reads “go to bed with them”. In other words, make love. This may seem frivolous, and yet Ahmed Ali uses as a basis two indisputable authorities in order to justify his translation. The first is the Qur’ánic commentator Zamakhsari. The second is philological - Raghib’s Lisan al-Arab. According to Raghib the verb daraba could have the metaphorical meaning “have sexual relations”. He cites a well-known Arabic expression in which daraba means “have sexual relations” - daraba al-fahl al-naqah (the male camel mates with the female camel). Raghib gives as an example of the sexual meaning of the verb daraba precisely verse 34 of the surah an-Nisa (Al-Mufridat fi Gharib al-Qur'an). 
These translations (separate/make love) have the advantage of not contradicting other passages of the Qur’án that deal with the relationship between spouses and of not clashing with the example of Muhammad (saw) or with the teachings of Islam as a whole. In relation to this matter Muhammad (saw) was emphatic: “Never beat God’s handmaidens”. 
From here on each person can choose the opinion that seems best to them, and which is no more than the opinion that best reflects their own moral state. The mission of the alfaquíes or scholars is not to ‘take a stand’ or ‘establish dogmas’, but rather to propose an interpretation to believers in order that they may choose for themselves. For good or bad, Allah has created us as responsible creatures. All Muslims have the obligation to study fiqh for themselves and choose, according to their reason and conscience, between the different options presented to them. 

The fact that the translations cited use “beat” or one of its derivatives is truly worrying. It says more about the state of Qur’ánic studies and the difficult situation of the ummah than the Word of God in itself. Not without reason, Shah Abdul Halim classes an-Nisa 34 as “the most misinterpreted verse of the Qur’án” (Woman: Chastisement & Other Issues).

4. The Verdict

As a result of the “Kamal case”, for the first time the debate about the word daraba has appeared in the jurisprudence of a Western country. In his verdict, the judge of the case, Juan Pedro Yllanes Suárez, recognised the existence of a variety of interpretations of the Qur’án, and as such nobody is able to use the Book of God as a basis for justifying opinions contrary to the laws in force. Furthermore, it makes reference to the conclusions drawn at the III Congreso de la Mujer Musulmana (3rd Conference of Muslim Women), held in Cordoba in March 2002, about domestic violence, in the sense that physical or moral ill-treatment is absolutely prohibited in Islam.

The judge stated that the book La Mujer en el Islam is not an objective statement of the principles of Islam, as its author claimed, but rather that in the book the author sets out his personal opinions. The verdict rejects Kamal Mustafá’s claim to be a “mere translator” on the basis of the many possible interpretations available:

Another of the arguments used to justify his position, being that it is impossible to contradict the Qur’án without committing heresy and that one ought to faithfully follow the Sunna and the texts of the wise men of the first three centuries in order (with the meaning of the word daraba always present and explained by university experts in Arab studies) to conclude that another interpretation of the aforementioned verse 34 was not possible, was taken apart by the alternative translation that the witnesses, who share the defendant’s faith, offered during the hearing concluding that physical or moral ill-treatment of women is absolutely prohibited in the Sacred Text.

Once he has established that he is dealing with the personal reflections of the defendant, the judge centres on the offence that these reflections constitute:

These reflections attack head-on the right to physical and moral wellbeing protected by article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment.

In relation to the defence’s appeal to “religious freedom”, the verdict is emphatic:

That confrontation between the right to religious freedom in its external dimension, exercised by Mohamed Kamal, and the right to moral wellbeing of the women to whom his discourse is directed, ought to be resolved in favour of the latter right for as much as it acts as a limitation to the former.

In other words, religious freedom is limited by other rights, and in no case exempts from compliance with the laws in force. Defending ill-treatment is an offence in Spain and should be judged as such. No argument, however religious it may claim to be, can justify it.

The conviction of Kamal Mustafá was immediately recognised by the majority of Muslim groups in Spain, including the Comisión Islámica de España (The Spanish Islamic Commission, CIE, the leading body representing Muslims in Spain). The very FEERI (which comprises some one hundred Islamic religious entities) made a statement in which it expressed:

its satisfaction for the general approach of the verdict, which leaves no doubt that the opinions expressed by Mr. Kamal in his book La mujer en el Islam are solely a personal opinion and are also foreign to the religion and doctrine of Islam, which condemns any type of ill-treatment of, abuse of or discrimination against women.
(Statement by FEERI with regard to the conviction of Kamal Mustafá, 14 January 2004, in Webislam nº 239).

5. Media Repercussions

In order to understand this “satisfaction” for the conviction of an imam, it is important to place the case in its present context. It must be remembered that Islam has remained forbidden in Spain for centuries, the Muslims having been expelled in the 17th century. The current judicial framework, which guaranties religious freedom for all citizens was not established until the arrival of democracy and the Constitution of 1978. Although positive discrimination towards the Catholic Church persists, there are many Muslims working to achieve complete standardization of the practice of Islam in Spain. However, there are forces in Spanish society (linked to the national Catholicism of the Franco years) which try to deny Muslims their rights.

Amongst the hundreds of articles that appeared in the Spanish press as a result of the “Kamal case”, the subject of the so-called “incompatibility of Islam and the Spanish Constitution” stands out. It deals with a type of approach that has as its inevitable conclusion the prohibition of Islam in Spain. This is neither an exaggeration nor an isolated opinion, but rather something that is frequently stated. This was noted at the time by numerous columnists, such as Antonio López Campillo:

The judge’s decision, whatever it may be, is important for everyone. If it convicts the imam for the content of his book, it convicts the Qur’án. (El juez, el imán y el Corán, in Libertad Digital, 26/09/2002).

The subject has been a gold mine for all those who have wanted or been able to give free reign to their fear of Islam:

The incompatibility of Islam with the constitutional democratic system of Spanish law is extensive and profound. Álvaro de Juana (La Razón, 01/12/04)

This subject has been the object of a series of articles signed by Luis María Ansón, editor of the newspaper La Razón:

In view of these texts that collide with our Constitution and in which discrimination on the basis of sex and the right to domestic violence against women is established, one must ask oneself why the socialist Government wants to subsidize the teaching of the Qur’ánic religion in Spanish public schools. (El Corán y la Constitución Española), La Razón — 12/09/2004)

Luis Carbonel, president of the Confederación Católica Nacional de Padres de Familia y Padres de Alumnos (Catholic National Confederation of Parents of Family and Parents of Students, CONCAPA) also placed in doubt the constitutionality of Islam, making specific reference to the “Kamal case”:

Whilst all Spaniards are subject to the authority of the law, as well as to the Constitution, the Government supports a religion that goes against the equality of men and women, and that allows polygamy and the flogging of women so long as it does not leave a mark.

A National Award winner for journalism, Martín Prieto, writes:

The Qur’án is a civil code and contemplates women as one step below men. Little reproductive animals which can be flogged for disobeying a man. The teaching of Islam cannot be encouraged by public powers as it is unconstitutional.
(Del menstruo, El Mundo 13/11/04)

In a later article, Martín Prieto attacks all Muslims for this motive:

No; he is a believer, a faithful son of Mohammad, a devotee of the Qur’án and unless he renounces his beliefs, his faith is incompatible with Western Constitutions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Qur’án runs with blood… Women are livestock and her mere disobedience to men should be physically punished.
(El Imam, El Mundo — 23/12/04).

For José Martínez- Abarca the matter could not be simpler:

Law or Islam: there is Islam or there are Citizens’ Rights. There is Islam or there is the Constitution. There is Islam or there is Western civilisation. Islam and the law cannot coexist. (Ley o Islam, La Razón — 12/09/2004).

According to Dalmacio Negro, professor of History of Political Ideas and Forms, by including the teaching of the Islamic religion in schools,

one is contributing to the destruction of the West and its cultures.
(La Razón)

In the context of the discrimination and harassment that Muslims experience in Spain, the “Kamal case” has taken on great importance. The sentence goes beyond the confrontation between Muslims (and only Allah knows) and is seen as a positive step in the normalization of Islam in Spain, given that it implies recognition by the Spanish courts that Islam does not justify domestic violence under any circumstances.

6. The coming of age of Islam in Spain

The trial of Kamal Mustafá constitutes a landmark in the process of the “return of Islam to al-Andalus” and is an authentic lesson for all those involved. It deals with complete acceptance of religious freedom within a democratic society, and as such affects the way that Muslims live and understand Islam. At present there are countries and institutions which try to impose their monopoly over the production and interpretation of Islam and which do not accept this liberty. During recent years, many of us who have participated in this polemic, placing ourselves in a position which goes against the point of view of the imam of Fuengirola, have received insults (even threats) from other Muslims, not to mention the takfir (declaration of kufr) on the part of the convicted himself.

All of this leads us to reflect on concepts such as “orthodoxy”, “interpretation”, “sexual equality”, “liberty” or “dogma”. And above all, the obligation of every Muslim (man or woman) to read the Qur’án for himself or herself, according to his or her own capacity and understanding.

What Spanish Muslims have recovered is the open nature of the revelation as opposed to a reified interpretation. Islam was born as a form of liberation of mankind from all the obligations that bind him “to this world” and as an overcoming of idolatry and representations of divinity through which the priestly castes try to impose themselves and control and confine human spirituality.

Since the Prophet’s (saw) death, historical Islam has experienced the tension between free interpretation and attempts to create an orthodoxy. Unfortunately, many continue to think that Muslims owe absolute obedience to the decisions taken centuries ago by the great Islamic scholars. This type of thinking denies all possibility of exercising our own individual responsibility before the Word of God and prevents us from exercising the Qur’ánic directive to reason and to try to understand the revelation from our own selves.

From this point of view, it is instructive to realise that one Qur’ánic verse alone can give rise to two different religions. Each one presents itself with overwhelming logic, with coherent internal development, filled with references to the Qur’án, to the traditionalist wise men and to examples of the Prophet (peace be with him). One leads to the patriarchy, to dogmatism and to totalitarianism and the other to an egalitarian society.

In an interview about the trial, published in Webislam No 189, Mehdi Flores (Secretary of FEERI) offers us a conclusion to these events:

“No learning can offer us the criteria for understanding Islam, but rather the very Rahma of Allah, His Merciful Creator. The understanding that each person has of the Qur’án is proportional to his love and openness to Allah. You may be a doctor in Islamic Sciences from the University of Azhar, but as the Messenger of God (peace be on him) says: “He who beats his wife is the worst of all men”. The status of each Muslim, of his or her submission to the Creator, is not determined by an academic title, but rather by the openness of his or her heart. Our beloved Prophet never beat a woman, this is his Sunna, his way of understanding and living the message of the Qur’án, his attitude. Who better to interpret the Qur’án than the prophet Muhammad (peace be on him)? He who beats his wife does not follow the Sunna or path of the prophet Muhammad, peace be with him and all his followers.”

Una respuesta a The Qur’án in the Spanish courts

  1. Jordan dice:

    Very nice. The issue of people giving Muslim scholars so much authority defeats the purpose of the Prophet (pbuh) making sure that the Ummah never created a priesthood. Not that I wish to say that scholars are superflous, but rather that there are many scholars with differing interpretations, mental capacities, contexts, environments, etc.

    I would even go as far to say that the scholars of modern day Islam have much more say and are given much more importance among their community versus that any pastor, priest or monk of the Christian religion. If we relegate true religious understanding to the fatwas and opinions of a few, then we will suffer stagnation just as you alluded to in your article.

    I suppose my opinion would be that the Quran overpoweringly calls for moral behavior, consisting but not limited to compassionate, loving behavior, logical thinking, charity, and prayer to remember the Beloved. The Sunnah/Hadith should be “used” in a way that doesn’t contradict that overall love, compassion and rational behavior.


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