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Greeting Christians: The problem of ‘crisis fatwas’

Every morning, a young girl prepares her pencils and papers, carries her bag, saying goodbye to her mother and heads to school. She does not ask about her friend’s religion while running alongside her to the classroom. She might be Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim. Children, with their innocent instincts, do not take things in a way that is filled with historical hatred!

The innocence of dealing with the other, out of his good origin, is a legitimate goal of the bases of Sharia. God help the Muftis as by the end of each year, during the Christian holidays, questions pour on them, which shows how some Muslims are deeply embarrassed of this issue, despite Muslims and Christians mingling together everywhere.

Some scholars are still isolated and use the “Crisis Fiqh legacy” for Fatwas issued under the shadows of swords and the echoes of drums of war, and flowing of blood following crises. They were not meant to be eternal. It is better to generalize its result throughout all ages of Islam, even during times of peace.


Following the Prophet

Although greeting Christians and all non-Muslims for their occasions is only natural, as it is natural for human unity. However, some reminding of the fatwas and evidence, omits the ignorance, assures concerned hearts and achieves the required civil benefit.

Who can forget Asmā' bint Abi Bakr’s Hadeeth, which is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, when she told Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, “My mother came to me while she is polytheist, she asked me to connect with her.” The Prophet replied, “Connect with your mother.” This Hadeeth establishes the connection between those who believe in different religions. Sharia’s goal is not to uproot other religions, actually other religions remained in the Arab peninsula till the death of the Prophet. God allowed for the Muslims to eat the food of the Christians and Jews, as well as allowing to marry them. Thus how would marriage be allowed, among hatred, isolation and uprooting? And how can the love and satisfaction of a woman be tested before marriage, and then as a mother of children and the caretaker in her husband’s life and after his death?

This can definitely never be known if the judgement in Islam is isolation, exile and discrimination as some believe!

The Fatwa in our modern age, can be divided into two sections:

The first is precautionary, ascetical, and preaching, which stems from self-protection and making a judgment that may result in mistakes. This is criticized by scholars of origins and purposes as it contradicts with the objective of fatwa and the logic of adapting and explaining the judgment. Without ascetical self-protection, as asceticism is an individual’s right, it should not impact his fatwa.

The second is based on a comprehensive vision of reality, interest, the changing human condition, and the convergence of people, civilizations and cultures, which became a different reality than in the past, and comes out of the Sharia faculties and its supreme resolves. This mufti needs fundamentalism tools, legitimate awareness and civil jurisprudence. I have an example for the second type, for a fatwa issued by a court of Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah.

In his search of the issue, Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah said, “Scientists had different opinions about greeting the non-Muslims. In Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal doctrine, there are three stories of prohibition, hatred and what is allowed. The last one is the one chosen by Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah; as this is for the best interest, which we choose. Thus greetings, condolences and visiting their patients is allowed. These stories in all these cases are stated by al-Maradawi in ‘al-Insaaf’. What the council had mentioned about Ibn Taymiyyah in other books like ‘Iqteda’ al-Serat al-Mustaqim’, might not be consistent with his documented choices.”

As a result of his research on this issue, he saw what was right is to greet them for many legitimate considerations, of which is the prophet’s own deeds (peace be upon him) in visiting people who have different religions. Also, the extensive texts of Sharia, including the main text of tolerance and coexistence, “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who do not fight your faith”.

This is a legitimate contemporary vision. Adopting it leads to overcoming hundreds of years of fighting and conflict. Civilization now gathers all religions, with the emergence of the State in its philosophical sense, establishing strong social contact upon which laws inside the city was built. None of the believers of any religion have the right to deny the ideas, opinions and the convictions of others. These convictions which were based under “crisis conditions”, to turn it a judgment throughout all the quiet and peaceful periods. That Ummah has passed on, and has won and lost. The lesson is in the jurisprudence produced under the shadow of prosperity and coexistence, as in the history of Muslims in Andalusia, which has achieved a shining example of coexistence and tolerance between Muslims and followers of all religions.

This is how jurisprudence or Fiqh flourishes, under prosperous conditions. As for the States, they do not flourish without coexistence and tolerance among the society’s elements, the fusion of its components and their acceptance of each other. The minimum level of acceptance is interacting in their celebrations and occasions.

 

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