Please read this important discussion
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "M Faruqi"
To:  "shah hannan" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Saturday, July 19, 2008 4:29 AM
Subject: Channel4 Documentary "The Quran"

> Response to the Documentary "The Quran" Written by Karima Hamdan
> Saturday, 19 July 2008
> JumahPulseIt was with much interest that I tuned in to watch Channel 4's 
> documentary titled "The Quran" as it had won high praise from various 
> non-Muslim reviewers both from the left and right of the political 
> landscape.
> It had even been praised by a Muslim website (albeit a somewhat 
> rant-prone, highly-strung, juvenile one) that had issued something called 
> an "Action Alert" to its readers to contact Channel 4 and "thank them for 
> this impressive and thought provoking documentary on Muslims and Islam."
> High praise indeed.
> From the outset it seemed a good sign that the director, Antony Thomas, 
> had opted to spell "Quran" correctly - ignoring the recent resurgence 
> amongst certain rightwing commentators in the phonetically incorrect (and 
> frankly quite irritating) "Koran" spelling - which is probably typed with 
> the same lip-curling sneer that they type "Moslem" with.
> It also was heartening that he included a great number of references to 
> the great works of scholarship and invention that can be attributed to 
> Muslim scientists and scholars. He also took a great deal of trouble to 
> praise the personal relationship that each Muslim has with Allah and the 
> emphasis Allah places on both individual morality and piety as being the 
> only benchmark of worth that matters. This is something rarely seen in the 
> documentaries I have seen on Islam and Muslims, and is what probably 
> provoked the storm of praise from some Muslim quarters.
> However, as one continued to watch this 2 hour marathon it becomes 
> increasingly evident that this apparent "love-in" that Thomas couches the 
> first half of his documentary in is nothing more than the sugar-coating of 
> a bitter pill that Thomas feels all Muslims must take.
> I am not referring to the tired old clichés and stereotypes that Thomas 
> along with just about every western documentary maker on Islam trots out - 
> like the old chestnut of filming the women's prayer hall at the mosque 
> through a screen making the women there look like they are peering out of 
> the bars of a cell, whilst overlaying the image with statements like 
> "women are segregated from the men" when it is more accurate (but not as 
> emotionally loaded) to say that "men and women are segregated".
> He also let himself down by using the hackneyed image of the "tragic 
> niqabi". In this case he interviewed a niqab-wearing woman who eloquently 
> and forcefully explained that she gave up her career as a lawyer when she 
> married in order to take care of her children and feels that the niqab 
> brings her closer to Allah.
> The whole interview is imbued with such a subtext of tragedy despite the 
> woman in question being perfectly happy with her choices. I can only 
> imagine that if the woman had said that she had given up her legal career 
> to become a pole-dancer in order to explore her sexuality or left to grow 
> organic almonds on a hillside in Tuscany in order to explore her inner chi 
> life-force, Thomas would have been a great deal more enthusiastic.
> These are the usual errors, omissions and inaccuracies that are seemingly 
> always present in western documentaries on Islam. What was more worrying 
> was the underlying themes of this documentary that seemed to be designed 
> to place doubt in the hearts of unsuspecting Muslims viewers.
> A great deal of time was spent focusing on the belief system within 
> Shia-ism, especially the use of icons and pictures as well as the 
> dependence on a prevalence of intermediaries that the Shia make dua to - 
> and who will "pass on" their requests to Allah. Thomas's collection of 
> experts all made the entirely valid point that this form of worship 
> largely fell outside the boundaries of what is acceptable in Islam. They 
> pointed out time and time again what every Muslim child knows - in Islam 
> there are no intermediaries with Allah.
> What was extremely troubling was that Thomas then took this fact and 
> extrapolated it himself to claim that when Sunnis use Islamic scholars and 
> imams to guide their choices and advise them on the legality of their 
> actions in a Shariah context, they too are using "intermediaries" with 
> Allah.
> This confusion between Islamic advice and Shirk (associating partners with 
> Allah) was extremely worrying as it seemed to promote an idea becoming 
> widespread amongst western Muslims that if one has a copy of the Quran and 
> Sahih Bukhari, then one is on par with a scholar of Islam and has no need 
> of any specific guidance. I often wonder if the same western Muslims who 
> follow this path would cure a physical disease of the heart with an 
> internet print out, a mirror and a pair of pliers to wrench out the 
> offending bit - of course not, they would be the first in line to consult 
> the relevant medical expert and follow his advice. It is too bad that they 
> do not feel that the cure for spiritual diseases of the heart deserve the 
> same consideration.
> This idea of DIY Islamic scholarship tied into another recurring theme 
> throughout the documentary, namely that the Quran was what one expert 
> called a "supermarket" of ideas - which could be used to support any 
> argument for any person. Thomas also highlighted the differences in 
> opinion between schools of thought and scholars and heavily implied that 
> this proved that the Quran and Hadith were so vague and indefinable that 
> actually no one really knows what is going on, making it acceptable to 
> reform and revise Islamic law to suit today's whims and desires.
> This is of course what existentialism is all about. The belief that there 
> are no absolutes and therefore there are many ways to the "truth". And as 
> sure as eggs is eggs, whenever anyone mentions existentialism and Islam, 
> the brilliant green sufi turbans come bobbing into view. Thomas's 
> documentary is no different, and just as any good story has a "baddy" (in 
> this case the Wahabbis and their petro-dollars), there must also be a 
> "goody" - enter everyone's Super Sufi Saviour, the Naqshbandi Hijazi Sufi 
> Order.
> Now before anyone accuses me of being unfair to my Muslim brothers and 
> sisters, please let me point out (as I have done elsewhere) that I do not 
> wish at all to label all Sufis, indeed all Naqshbandis, as being anything 
> but sincere, decent Muslims who strive as we all do to better ourselves in 
> front of Allah.
> However, I wish to point out that specifically the Naqshbandi Hijazi Sufi 
> Order seems to pop up every time there is anything controversial to say 
> about Islam. Whether it is one of their activists in the USA accusing 80% 
> of mosques of harbouring extremists, or whether it is their philosophies 
> guiding government backed initiatives to reform Islam (e.g. the Sufi 
> Muslim Council), the Naqshbandi Hijazi Sufi Order seems to appear as if by 
> magic. Indeed the shaykh from the order, Shaykh Abdel Aziz Bukhari, that 
> appeared in Thomas's documentary also moonlights as an advisor for the 
> Quilliam Foundation and spoke glowingly about it at their launch.
> In the documentary, Shaykh Abdel Aziz Bukhari made the extraordinary claim 
> that because Muslims believe that the Old Testament and Torah were 
> revealed by Allah to their prophets we cannot then say that the Qur’an is 
> any better than them. He obviously hasn't heard that both the 
> aforementioned books have been chopped, changed, altered and morphed into 
> mere shadows of their former selves.
> I wonder if he believes with equal veracity the claims that the Old 
> Testament makes about the prophets of Allah - especially the slander 
> levelled at Lot that he committed incest with his daughters in order to 
> protect his lineage from dying out; and the accusation against Noah that 
> after alighting from the Ark he cultivated grapes and made them into wine 
> and was found naked and drunk by his son Ham - whereupon he cursed the son 
> of Ham to be a slave. As this son of Ham begat the African nation, this 
> argument was used to justify the slave trade for many years. If Shaykh 
> Abdel Aziz Bukhari would have us believe these gems from the Old Testament 
> with the same vigour as we believe in the verses from the Quran then he 
> must provide some further explanation to us.
> The theme of existentialism was returned to again and again and usually 
> highlighted by different Islamic scholars giving different opinions about 
> the same issue. Nowhere was it mentioned that the majority of Islamic law, 
> i.e. the corpus of fatawa, represents case law and as such is time and 
> place specific being individually tailored to rule on the case in 
> question. Instead, Islamic shariah was portrayed as a confused amalgam of 
> conflicting voices, each trying to shout the loudest.
> The most extreme example of this misinformation was introduced by Thomas 
> with an appalling video showing the genital mutilation of an African girl 
> of about 10 or 12. Without any sort of warning the video starts with the 
> girl being held down on the floor by 2 hard-faced women wearing hijab. 
> Whilst this poor child screams in pain and begs for mercy, these women 
> rummage under her skirts. The video ends with the girl's mother slapping 
> her and accusing her of lying when she said it hurt. The short video clip 
> was designed to shock and shock it did. Thomas then cuts to a shaykh 
> stating that female circumcision is allowed in Islam and then cuts again 
> to several scholars stating that female genital mutilation is not allowed 
> in Islam. The obvious ruse is to show that no one really knows what is 
> right or wrong and so we as individual Muslims should make up our own 
> minds instead of following scholars.
> With apologies to those of a weaker disposition, I feel that this warrants 
> a brief discussion about female circumcision. I know that this should be a 
> topic that is veiled in modesty but it is now being used as a weapon in 
> the fight for Islamic reformation and so we should all understand exactly 
> what Muslim female circumcision means and how it differs from genital 
> mutilation. For those who don't really want to know, please skip the next 
> paragraph.
> The first thing to state is that the vast majority of scholars say that 
> female circumcision is a sunnah and therefore not compulsory - this is the 
> reason why it is performed so rarely outside of Africa. The next thing to 
> point out is that female genital mutilation involves the removal of, or 
> extensive damage to, the clitoris. Female circumcision in Islam involves 
> trimming of the clitoral hood or prepuce. The Prophet (peace be upon him) 
> specifically forbade any extensive removal of tissue from this area. The 
> shaykh that endorsed female circumcision said that he felt it was done for 
> the specific reason of decreasing sexual desire in a woman. In this he 
> made a medical error - quite understandable for a scholar of Islamic law 
> who is not a doctor. Instead of decreasing sexual pleasure in a woman it 
> in fact does the opposite and one can currently find clitoral "hoodectomy" 
> being offered by gynaecologists in the US and (privately) in the UK as a 
> means of improving sexual sensitivity. The grotesque depiction of child 
> abuse shown by Thomas is nothing more than a tribal tradition that is 
> practiced by African animists, as well as Christians and misguided 
> Muslims. There are also several reports of the practice being present 
> amongst Ethiopian Jews before their relocation to Israel. Therefore, 
> female genital mutilation has no basis whatsoever in Islam and is a 
> practice that is cultural in nature. These facts were not bothered about 
> in the documentary of course; rather we were shown a barbaric picture of 
> abuse and then an Islamic scholar appearing to condone it.
> Once the idea of multiple interpretations of every aspect of Islam had 
> become set in stone, Thomas introduced his most contentious and disturbing 
> idea. This involved spurious arguments about the textual history of the 
> Quran. The first argument questions the very authenticity of the Quran 
> with Thomas examining claims that fragments of a "different" version of 
> the Quran from the 7th century had been found hidden in a crevice in a 
> mosque in Syria undergoing renovation. The other argument involved an even 
> stranger idea. Thomas interviewed a German professor who first claimed 
> that the Quran had up to 50% of "unintelligible" verses; he then claimed 
> that reading the Quran in Aramaic and not in Arabic decreases this to 
> about 10%. He also made a contention that if one changed the haraka (i.e. 
> the dots and dashes around the Arabic letters that are roughly equivalent 
> to vowels in English) this changes the meaning even further.
> To Muslims who believe absolutely in the verse in Surah 15 Ayat 9:
> "Verily, it is We who have sent down the Quran and surely We will guard it 
> (from corruption)." (Surah 15, Verse 9)
> this apparent revelation may shake their faith, especially if they feel 
> that they cannot ask a scholar for advice as they do not wish to have 
> "intermediaries" between themselves and Allah. However, they should 
> realise that far from being a killer argument, both contentions are easily 
> dismissed when one realises that the Quran has always been passed on from 
> generation to generation via the strongest oral tradition in the world and 
> its textual transmission has always come second to this. It has always 
> been the case that the Quran is best retained in the hearts and minds of 
> the believers, thus allowing it to be accessed by people from every 
> educational and intellectual level and protecting it from those who would 
> alter the way it is written. Indeed anyone who has heard the Quran recited 
> can vouch that one cannot just change bits of it without breaking down the 
> syntax and rhythm that is intrinsic in the text.
> By strange coincidence, this week has also seen the government's 
> Communities Secretary Hazel Blears announce plans of a government-backed 
> board of Islamic scholars that will ostensibly try to sideline extremist 
> groups. Whilst every effort to safeguard the country from any crimes of 
> violence is to be welcomed, the small print in the press release also 
> announces that the scholars will "lead (the) debate on key issues such as 
> women and loyalty to the UK".
> What women's issues will be debated is anyone's guess but the last 
> government minister to call for a "debate" on a women’s issue was Jack 
> Straw and his idea of a debate was to order niqab-wearing Muslim women to 
> uncover themselves immediately. As yet there are no details on who will be 
> on these committees and what their specific remit will be but rest assured 
> that the UmmahPulse team will be keeping a beady eye on proceedings and 
> will keep you updated on events as they develop.
> After watching Antony Thomas's documentary and hearing about this new 
> government initiative I feel that this week has ushered in a brave new 
> world for the UK's Muslims. We find ourselves being flattered about past 
> achievements whilst being asked to isolate ourselves from the very thing 
> that made these achievements possible - namely a strong link to 
> traditional Islamic scholarship. We find ourselves being told that there 
> are many ways to the truth but these don't include those ways that we have 
> always used to guide us to it. We find ourselves battling against spurious 
> arguments that strike us at the very heart of our religion and belief 
> structure.
> Every brave new world needs a currency, and it seems that in this brave 
> new world the currency is doubt.
> "Alif Lam Mim.
> This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to 
> those who are Al Muttaqun (pious and righteous people)."
> (Surah Al-Baqarah V1-2)
> Oh Allah make us from amongst the Muttaqun. Ameen.
>   Comments (2)
>  1 Written by The Equaliser, on 2008-07-19 09:23:49
> A much needed critique about this programme by one of UP's finest writers. 
> Keep up this excellent work dear sister.
>  2 Written by Majid, on 2008-07-19 10:03:38
> MPAC is over the moon with the programme because their "sheikh" and 
> self-procalimed "expert" Taj Hargey was featured more than any other 
> commentator.
> -- 
> No virus found in this incoming message.
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> Date: 7/18/2008 6:47 AM


{Invite (mankind, O Muhammad ) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom 
(i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qur'an) and fair preaching, and argue 
with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone 
astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.} (Holy 

{And who is better in speech than he who [says: "My Lord is Allah (believes in 
His Oneness)," and then stands straight (acts upon His Order), and] invites 
(men) to Allah's (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: "I 
am one of the Muslims."} (Holy Quran-41:33)
The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "By Allah, if 
Allah guides one person by you, it is better for you than the best types of 
camels." [al-Bukhaaree, Muslim] 

The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  also said, "Whoever 
calls to guidance will have a reward similar to the reward of the one who 
follows him, without the reward of either of them being lessened at all." 
[Muslim, Ahmad, Aboo Daawood, an-Nasaa'ee, at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah] 



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