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Human Rights Are Above God's Rights - Khaled Abou El Fadl

Human Rights Are Above God's Rights - Khaled Abou El Fadl

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Published by MuslimThunder
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic law and Islam, and a prominent scholar in the field of human rights. He is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law where he teaches International Human Rights, Islamic Jurisprudence, National Security Law, Law and Terrorism, Islam and Human Rights, Political Asylum and Political Crimes and Legal Systems. He also holds the Chair in Islam and Citizenship at the University of Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Among his many honors and distinctions, Dr. Abou El Fadl was awarded the University of Oslo Human Rights Award, the Leo and Lisl Eitinger Prize in 2007, and named a Carnegie Scholar in Islamic Law in 2005. He was previously appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, and also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch. He continues to serve on the Advisory Board of Middle East Watch (part of Human Rights Watch) and regularly works with human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (Human Rights First) as an expert in a wide variety of cases involving human rights, terrorism, political asylum, and international and commercial law. In 2005, he was also listed as one of LawDragon’s Top 500 Lawyers in the Nation.

A prolific scholar and prominent public intellectual, Dr. Abou El Fadl is the author of 14 books (five forthcoming) and over 50 articles on various topics in Islam and Islamic law. He has lectured on and taught Islamic law throughout the United States and Europe in academic and non-academic environments for over twenty years. His work has been translated into numerous languages including Arabic, Persian, French, Norwegian, Dutch, Ethiopian, Russian, and Japanese, among others.

Dr. Abou El Fadl is most noted for his scholarly approach to Islam from a moral point of view. He writes extensively on universal themes of humanity, morality, human rights, justice, and mercy, and is well known for his writings on beauty as a core moral value of Islam. He is one of the foremost critics of puritan and Wahhabi Islam. Dr. Abou El Fadl has appeared on national and international television and radio, and published widely in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Review, and many others.

He is the founding Advisory Board Member of the UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law (JINEL), and an Editorial Board Member for Political Theology, the Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Islamic Law and Society, the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, and Hawa: Journal of Women of Middle East and the Islamic World¸ among others. He also serves as an Advisory Board member for the University of Adelaide Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion (RUSSLR) in Australia; the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Islam Initiative Publications Project; the Harvard Press Series on Islamic Law; and the Journal of Islamic Studies (Islamabad), among others.

His most recent works focus on authority, human rights, democracy and beauty in Islam and Islamic law. His book, The Great Theft, was the first work to delineate the key differences between moderate and extremist Muslims, and was named one of the Top 100 Books of the year by Canada’s Globe and Mail (Canada’s leading national newspaper). His book, The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books, is a landmark work in modern Muslim literature.

Dr. Abou El Fadl holds a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Islamic law from Princeton University. Dr. Abou El Fadl is also an Islamic jurist and scholar, having received 13 years of systematic instruction in Islamic jurisprudence, grammar and eloquence in Egypt and Kuwait. After
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic law and Islam, and a prominent scholar in the field of human rights. He is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law where he teaches International Human Rights, Islamic Jurisprudence, National Security Law, Law and Terrorism, Islam and Human Rights, Political Asylum and Political Crimes and Legal Systems. He also holds the Chair in Islam and Citizenship at the University of Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Among his many honors and distinctions, Dr. Abou El Fadl was awarded the University of Oslo Human Rights Award, the Leo and Lisl Eitinger Prize in 2007, and named a Carnegie Scholar in Islamic Law in 2005. He was previously appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, and also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch. He continues to serve on the Advisory Board of Middle East Watch (part of Human Rights Watch) and regularly works with human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (Human Rights First) as an expert in a wide variety of cases involving human rights, terrorism, political asylum, and international and commercial law. In 2005, he was also listed as one of LawDragon’s Top 500 Lawyers in the Nation.

A prolific scholar and prominent public intellectual, Dr. Abou El Fadl is the author of 14 books (five forthcoming) and over 50 articles on various topics in Islam and Islamic law. He has lectured on and taught Islamic law throughout the United States and Europe in academic and non-academic environments for over twenty years. His work has been translated into numerous languages including Arabic, Persian, French, Norwegian, Dutch, Ethiopian, Russian, and Japanese, among others.

Dr. Abou El Fadl is most noted for his scholarly approach to Islam from a moral point of view. He writes extensively on universal themes of humanity, morality, human rights, justice, and mercy, and is well known for his writings on beauty as a core moral value of Islam. He is one of the foremost critics of puritan and Wahhabi Islam. Dr. Abou El Fadl has appeared on national and international television and radio, and published widely in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Review, and many others.

He is the founding Advisory Board Member of the UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law (JINEL), and an Editorial Board Member for Political Theology, the Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Islamic Law and Society, the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, and Hawa: Journal of Women of Middle East and the Islamic World¸ among others. He also serves as an Advisory Board member for the University of Adelaide Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion (RUSSLR) in Australia; the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Islam Initiative Publications Project; the Harvard Press Series on Islamic Law; and the Journal of Islamic Studies (Islamabad), among others.

His most recent works focus on authority, human rights, democracy and beauty in Islam and Islamic law. His book, The Great Theft, was the first work to delineate the key differences between moderate and extremist Muslims, and was named one of the Top 100 Books of the year by Canada’s Globe and Mail (Canada’s leading national newspaper). His book, The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books, is a landmark work in modern Muslim literature.

Dr. Abou El Fadl holds a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Islamic law from Princeton University. Dr. Abou El Fadl is also an Islamic jurist and scholar, having received 13 years of systematic instruction in Islamic jurisprudence, grammar and eloquence in Egypt and Kuwait. After

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Published by: MuslimThunder on Dec 11, 2009
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Interview09/08/2005Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl Human Rights Are Above God’s RightsOleh: RedaksiIn the common Muslim perception, human rights should be subjugated toGod’s rights. Thereby they neglect the rights of people who are condemnedas heretical or who threaten the religious establishment. Is there analternative Islamic interpretation? The conversation Novriantoni and RamyEl-Dardiry, members of the Liberal Islam Network (JIL), had with Prof. Dr.Khaled Abou El Fadl, Professor of Islamic law at UCLA, could shed somemore light on this matter. The discussion took place at the Hilton Hotel inJakarta on Saturday 24/7, during Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl’s visit toIndonesia.JIL: Dr. Khaled, suicide bombing seems to be a trend among Muslimradicals nowadays. Hashem Saleh, a Syrian intellectual, said that Muslimsare focusing on ‘kamikaze . What is your opinion on suicide bombing in thename of Islam?KHALED ABOU EL FADL: First, I refuse to associate this trend with theconcept of Jihad. The concept of Jihad is very much different to today’ssuicide bombings. Jihad also differs from the holy war in the Crusade period, which developed from the doctrine of self-purification through bloodsheds. In the idea of holy war, murder is regarded as a mechanism toapproach God and war is regarded as sacred. Hence, any cruelty in war willnot be seen as a form of barbarism.On the contrary, jihad always relies on the power of da’wah (missionaryendeavor) and the absence of vengeance feeling. In jihad, you should notassume yourself to be a killer, nor should you sacrifice the enemy because itis God’s will. In the concept of jihad, war is always regarded as something bad (‘syarr ), an inevitable evil (‘syarrun dlarûrî), and we have to avoid it(‘kurhun). War is only permitted to liberate Muslims from tyranny or todefend them from attacks. That is the concept of jihad.
 
I think performing Jihad by suicide bombing is connected with modernity; itdid not originate from Islamic moderate literature. Psychologically, thefantasy of eternal life in the hereafter endorses those bombers. My critique isthat the bombers’ concept of Jihad has neglected Quranic pre-requirementsabout the detailed preparation of war. Their objective of jihad is not toliberate (fath ), but to ruin, in order to resist western domination. Here wecan see differences between the concept of Jihad based on moral principles,and the strategy of offensive suicide bombings, which are influenced byrevolutionary ideologies from the 1960s.JIL: Thus, you deny the association between suicide-bombing and theconcept of Jihad in Islam.It is not about the suicide bombing, but about murdering people withoutdifferentiating between the aggressor (muhârib ) and the non-aggresso(‘ghaira muharib ). Fikh (Islamic jurisprudence) has prohibited this kind of random killing (‘qatlul ghîlah). Qatlul ghîlah is a form of murder, where theobject does not have any chance to defend himself or herself. Ethics is very prominent in fikh literature, particularly in relation to war (hirâbah). Weshould not kill the incarcerated, children, women, and weak men. Thesuicide bombers view infiltrates the ideology of jihad. Those suicide bombers foresee resistance upon the West and therefore they declare other Muslims as apostate.Clearly, we saw this with the murder on the Egyptian ambassador in Iraqand the repeating attacks on Shiites there. I think such actions are aconsequence of Wahabism, which views Shiite to be outside Islam and whoshould hence be fought. Persons like Abdurrahman al-Zarqawi calledMuslims apostate and allowed killing them. I guess he never read aboutassimilation theory (‘nazariyyat tatharrus ) which deals with the questionwhether it is allowable to kill Muslims in order to reach the enemy, if theenemy and Muslims are mixed.JIL: Do you agree on their effort to resist western hegemony?I do not deny the problem of western hegemony. However, we have to raisethe question: what is the core of this hegemony and how do countries likeChina, Japan, Iran, South Korea, North Korea, and Turkey escape from it?We forget that the most effective weapon and the symbol of today’s gloryare science and technology. Do not forget that we have to build an incorrupt
 
and an anti-authoritarian state. We have to choose between a despotic stateand a welfare state. We need a system that opens the gate to science andculture, that manages the problem of environmental pollution, provides cleanwater, and reduces the spread of diseases. Technology is the only answer tothose matters. I think, resisting western hegemony should start by fightingcorrupted states. Preparing the khail (horse) to fight the enemy in theQur’an, nowadays means preparation of knowledge and technology. Anyonewho masters knowledge and technology will control the world.JIL: What do you think about the kind of religious reformation as proposed by Afghani and Abduh?Yes, religious reformation is necessary besides reformation in other fields.In the religious discourse, fikh must not be used as an oppressing instrument.Religion should not support despotism. My book on authoritative andauthoritarian fatwas criticizes the misuse of religion for such objectives.Religious reformation must be based on remembering God. This is not asimple point. Many consider that progress will be achieved by increasing thenumber of legal restrictions and the enforcement of Islamic law or (precisely) part of the Islamic school of thought. To me, the foundation andthe principle of religion are about remembering God, which is very personaland regarded with morality. We have to be accustomed to live with moralideals. No civilization can be based on pragmatism. Every civilization is primarily established upon idealism or dreams. That moralist dream puts youin a noble position.We also have to lead society towards the principle of gentleness (‘al-hilm ).It is impossible to build a civilization on the principle of violence. Thesuicide bomber is wrong when he believes that he will build civilizationthrough destruction. I stress that there is not a single civilization built ondestructiveness. All civilizations are built on a moral foundation, intellectualactivities, and innovations. The Greeks loved knowledge, and now theAmericans and Europeans respect knowledge. To some extend, Japanese aswell. The glory of Islamic civilization in the past was built based onknowledge. Briefly, the key is a revolution towards knowledge. Destructionwill never succeed in building a civilization.JIL: How can we make idealism as a foundation of a civilization?

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