April 03, 2007

The Amman Message

To be honest, I had not heard of The Amman Message until Abu Sinan blogged about it a few days ago. His complaint with the Amman Message deals with who gave the Message its initial push (King Abd'Allah of Jordan) and various of its signatories. However, I find Abu Sinan's reasoning comparable to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. His complaint deals not with the message itself, only with some of those people who have attached their names to the document. Personally, I looked through some of the list of signatories and found people who, IMO, are the opposite of whom A.S. is complaining about. For example, among the signatories from SE Asia are Dr. Yaaqob Ibrahim (who serves, among other duties, as Singapore's Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs) and Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdallah, who is also an Islamic scholar.

But the point I should not have to stress to Abu Sinan is that we are all sinners, and that it is our intentions that matter the most. Can you judge the intentions of King Abd'Allah or some of the other signatories, Abu Sinan?

I, personally, support the Amman Message.

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad and his pure and noble family

(1) Whosoever is an adherent to one of the four Sunni schools (Mathahib) of Islamic jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali), the two Shi'i schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Ja'fari and Zaydi), the Ibadi school of Islamic jurisprudence and the Thahiri school of Islamic jurisprudence, is a Muslim. Declaring that person an apostate is impossible and impermissible. Verily his (or her) blood, honour, and property are inviolable. Moreover, in accordance with the Shaykh Al-Azhar’s fatwa, it is neither possible nor permissible to declare whosoever subscribes to the Ash'ari creed or whoever practices real Tasawwuf (Sufism) an apostate. Likewise, it is neither possible nor permissible to declare whosoever subscribes to true Salafi thought an apostate.

Equally, it is neither possible nor permissible to declare as apostates any other group of Muslims who believes in God, Glorified and Exalted be He, and His Messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him), the pillars of faith (Iman), and the five pillars of Islam, and does not deny any necessarily self-evident tenet of religion.

(2) There exists more in common between the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence than there is difference between them. The adherents to the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence are in agreement as regards the basic principles of Islam. All believe in Allah (God), Glorified and Exalted be He, the One and the Unique; that the Noble Qur’an is the Revealed Word of God preserved and protected by God, Exalted be He, from any change or aberration; and that our master Muhammad, may blessings and peace be upon him, is a Prophet and Messenger unto all mankind. All are in agreement about the five pillars of Islam: the two testaments of faith (shahadatayn); the ritual prayer (salat); almsgiving (zakat); fasting the month of Ramadan (sawm), and the Hajj to the sacred house of God (in Mecca). All are also in agreement about the foundations of belief: belief in Allah (God), His angels, His scriptures, His messengers, and in the Day of Judgment, in Divine Providence in good and in evil. Disagreements between the ‘ulama (scholars) of the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence are only with respect to the ancillary branches of religion (furu') and some fundamentals (usul) [of the religion of Islam]. Disagreement with respect to the ancillary branches of religion (furu') is a mercy. Long ago it was said that variance in opinion among the ‘ulama (scholars) “is a mercy.”

(3) Acknowledgement of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Mathahib) within Islam means adhering to a fundamental methodology in the issuance of fatwas: no one may issue a fatwa without the requisite qualifications of knowledge. No one may issue a fatwa without adhering to the methodology of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence. No one may claim to do unlimited Ijtihad and create a new opinion or issue unacceptable fatwas that take Muslims out of the principles and certainties of the Shari'ah and what has been established in respect of its schools of jurisprudence.

Section 1:
Notice that a number of religious groups that are either offshoots of Islam (e.g., the Baha'i, the Ahmadiyya) or are quasi-Islamic groups (NOI, Submitters, etc.) are not listed among the definition of who is a Muslim. Also, insha'allah, this definition of who is a Muslim and who isn't I hope will help to defuse some of the sectarian violence between the Sunnis and Shi'a, especially in Iraq and Pakistan.
Section 3: I find this section to be the most important of the three. This section removes the ability of both extremes of Muslims, the al-Qaeda types and the Secular/Pro-regressive" Muslims, to write legitimate fatawa. The eight mathahib are the only legitimate providers of fatawa for the Ummah.

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