2. Freedom

This is one of a series of articles which were either written in collaboration with Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison or were carefully edited by him, in which it is no longer possible to see who wrote what

Free men and women are the basis of any sane civil order. They are distinguished from slaves. Classically, there were two routes into slavery: warfare and debt, for if a person became insolvent in the ancient world he became the slave of his creditors. This latter has a particular resonance for us today in what is fast becoming THE age of debt. Slaves were of different sorts. There were domestic and farm slaves and some slaves could go out and work in the world with a craft or skill which they had acquired and negotiated to pay their owner a dareebah in order to be permitted to do this. Now dareebah is known to every modern Arab as ‘income tax’. Thus, the hidden nature of our condition is made clear: we are slaves who are allowed to work and earn money in the world on condition that we pay our owners, in this case the state, an income tax on our earnings.

The only such tax that a Muslim pays is the zakah which is taken by the leader’s collectors and given by them to the eight categories who are allowed to receive it.

Thus, while we debate freedom of speech and electoral freedom, etc., we have lost sight of the fact that we have long since surrendered the vital freedom to refuse to have our wealth confiscated from us in taxation, accepting in exchange the democratic privilege of electing the people who will take it and manage it ‘on our behalf’, as if we were mentally or legally incompetent; or indeed, like the dependent slaves that we have clearly become. However, there is still worse to come.

As it turns out, the elected governments who behave as our masters, are themselves no more than indentured servants whose task is to organise the collection and payment of the dareebah that is ultimately due to the banks, who until recently have managed to remain hidden as the true slavemasters. Therefore, worse even than that of slaves, our situation bears closer comparison with that of the livestock which the slaves are made to herd and harness.

The full extent of the dareebah demanded by the banks, which makes it even more devastating to our wealth and freedom, arises from the various accounting devices that allow them to invent money from nothing, and then to levy compound interest on governments, corporations and individuals alike, who have little alternative other than to borrow from this endlessly conjured up money supply. This results in not only the various extra charges and taxes that are levied on almost every process of our lives but a general inflation that drains away our already dwindling wealth.

The civil disorder in the Middle East has raised the banner of freedom, but is pursuing the line of servility and servitude. They want to elect ‘freely and fairly’ the slaves who will milk them like goats, while they will certainly have no choice about the banks that issue the false money and command tribute from every government in ways that, sooner or later, result in the devastation of whole economies and entire societies.

Our warning here in the West to our young brothers in the Middle East, is that the absence of slavery does not signify freedom. Without men and women whose spiritual and intellectual integrity demand autonomy from the instinctive core of their individual beings, not only is there no escape from open tyranny, but there is no protection from the illusion of freedom.  Where are the genuinely free ones? They are within you (if you are not too wasted), they are amongst you (if conditions favour them) or they are yet to be born; whatever the case they must be empowered. The neglected sciences of your noble Deen hold the key to their recovery, and without unlocking the combinations of its inner and outer dynamics you will not create the conditions for their emergence, and you will not know how to recognise them or how to nurture them – but know that without them, you will remain imprisoned in a maze of smoke and mirrors the like of which has never existed before in the history of mankind. La hawla wa la quwwata ila billahi ‘alliyil ‘adheem.

1. Tomorrow’s Fiqh Today

This is one of a series of articles which were either written in collaboration with Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison or were carefully edited by him, in which it is no longer possible to see who wrote what

A body of fiqh scholarship has grown up called the Fiqh of Minorities (fiqh al-aqalliyat) professing to redefine fiqh for people living in the West. Its most substantial basis on which it draws is what is called the Fiqh of Momentous Events (fiqh an-nawazil) which is a chapter of Maliki fiqh that draws on the experience gained in Sicily and Andalus where the Muslims were defeated and remained behind in these two lands living under non-Muslim governance.

There are very real differences between living in lands in which the majority are Muslims and in which Islam has been established for some generations, and living in Europe or the US, for example, as Muslim minorities under non-Muslim governance. Fatally, contemporary scholars who aspire to address this matter have founded their endeavours on the fiqh of defeat, something which would be entirely appropriate for Palestinians to draw upon, but which is not applicable by analogy to the brand new appearance of Islam in Europe and the Americas, which often includes a significant presence of new Muslims who are indigenous to the West and who have embraced the Deen with a view to living not only by its basic tenets, but within the complete range of its social and economic modalities WHERE THEY ARE.

What these modernist scholars have rightly intuited is the need for a different approach in the West, but what they have not thought through is the substantial difference there is between an existing Muslim community that is overwhelmed and defeated by non-Muslims, and the situation in which Muslims have immigrated to non-Muslim lands (usually for economic reasons) where there is also a parallel spread of Islam as a result of the indigenous people embracing Islam in ever increasing numbers.

This task remains for the Muftis of today to address properly, so that the Muftis of tomorrow will inherit and add to the accumulating body of fatwas that arise from their responding to everyday problems confronting the Muslims in these settings. For these times and these places, we suggest that the Maliki madhhab, whilst sharing with other schools the transmission of strong opinions, also provides a range of the most flexible and effective tools, which, in the hands of the most dynamic fuqaha, would allow for the application of an ijtihad in these situations based on public welfare (maslahah mursalah), existing custom (‘urf) and blocking the means of access (sadd adh-dhara‘i) to things that are harmful or haram.

It is impossible to predict what the results of such ijtihad will give rise to in terms of the kinds of Muslim communities that will arise and the nature of the dynamic between them and the surrounding non-Muslim society; this can only be discovered by setting out on the journey of implementation itself. However, what is clear is that it represents the prospect of a positive, self-determined transcendence of the discourse founded upon the rights of beleaguered minorities or the closed dialectic of extremism versus moderation.