27 March 2006 

 

The plight of Abdul Rahman has peaked my curiosity. The Afghani man is on trial, possibly for his life, for converting from Islam to Christianity. I was under the impression that “we” (yes Canada is a part of “The Coalition of the Willing”) had overthrown the Islamofascist, Al Qaeda supporting and worst of all: misogynist regime of the Taliban and brought democracy, freedom and true (western-based) enlightenment to the people of Afghanistan. I thought that we were still engaged there, as a part of NATO, not only to continue the fight against Islamofascist terrorism, but more importantly to protect the fundamental rights and democratic principles of a “free” Afghanistan.

What peaked my curiosity most was finding out what was the Afghani governments’ position when it came to the issue of the freedom of religion. I started my query at the Constitution of Afghanistan, which was approved on 24 January 2004. The Preamble reads: “We the people of Afghanistan:  With firm faith in God Almighty and relying on His lawful mercy, and Believing in the Sacred religion of Islam…etc.”   Chapter1, Article 2 in reference to “The State” establishes that: The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam. Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.”  So far, so good!! However it also affirms in Chapter 1, Article 3: “In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred law of Islam.”  In regards to the Judiciary, the Afghanistan Constitution in Chapter 7, Article 15 states: While processing the cases, the courts apply the provisions of this Constitution and other laws. When there is no provision in the Constitution or other laws regarding ruling on an issue, the courts’ decisions shall be within the limits of this Constitution in accord with the Hanafi jurisprudence and in a way to serve justice in the best possible manner.” 

The next leg of my search was finding what “Hanafi” was all about. According to GlobalSecurity.org, Hanafi is one of the four schools of thought of religious jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. It was founded around 700 A.D. by Abu Hanifa, who was born in Iraq and is “considered the oldest and most liberal school of law.” “Broad-minded without being lax, this school appeals to reason (personal judgment) and a quest for the better. It is generally tolerant and the largest movement within Islam. The Hanafi school is known for its liberal religious orientation that elevates belief over practice and is tolerant of differences within Muslim communities.”  WOW! Alright then. The next question was what did the Koran and the Hanafi school say specifically about those who convert from Islam to another religion, what they term “Apostasy”.

According to “The Law of Apostasy in Islam” by Samuel M. Zwemer, the passages which deal with apostasy in the Koran are the chapter of Women, verse 90: “Why are ye two parties about the hypocrites, when God hath overturned them for what they earned? Do ye wish to guide those whom God hath led astray? Whoso God hath led astray ye shall not surely find for him a path. They would fain that ye misbelieve as they misbelieve, that ye might be alike; take ye not patrons from among them until they too fight in God’s way; but if they turn their backs, then seize them wheresoever ye and them, and take from them neither patron nor help“; the chapter of the Table, verse 59: “O ye who believe! Whoso is turned away from his religion-God will bring (instead) a people whom He loves and who love Him, lowly to believers, lofty to unbelievers, strenuous in the way of God, fearing not the blame of him who blames”; and the chapter of the Bee, verse 108: “Whoso disbelieves in God after having believed, unless it be one who is forced and whose heart is quiet in the faith, – but whoso expands his breast to misbelieve, – on them is wrath from God, and for them is mighty woe! That is because they preferred the love of this world’s life to the next; but verily God guides not the unbelieving people.”

One of the most famous books of Hanafi Law is called the Hedaya, by Burhan ed Din Ali. It is used as a text-book in schools of law and is considered authoritative. In the chapter entitled “The Law concerning Apostates ” it is states:

“When a Mussulman apostatizes from the faith, an exposition thereof is to be laid before him in such a manner that if his apostasy should have arisen from any religious doubts or scruples, those may be removed. The reason for laying an exposition of the faith before him is that it is possible some doubts or errors may have arisen in his mind, which may be removed by such exposition; and as there are two modes of repelling the sin of apostasy, namely, destruction or Islam, and as Islam is preferable to destruction, the evil is rather to be removed by means of an exposition of the faith; but yet this exposition of the faith is not incumbent (according to what the learned have remarked upon this head), since a call to the faith has already reached the apostate.”

Furthermore, the Hanafi school of religious jurisprudence teaches that an apostate is to be given three days to reconsider his treason to Islam. If he/she returns to the faith, it is well, but if not, they must be slain. This ruling is from what is considered the oldest and most liberal school of law”!!!!

There are approximately 2,200Canadian troops in Afghanistan and since 2002 about 11 have been killed, with a greater number being injured. The question begs to be answered: What are the democratic principles, fundamental rights and freedoms we fighting and dying for in Afghanistan? AND where are the voices of those who advocate for the oppressed?! You would assume that “Christian” ministers such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton would be all over this?! What about the Honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan (who likes to quotes the Bible in his speeches)? How about the high profile left-wing ideologues such as Michael Moore, Jon Stewart, Warren Beatty and of course George Clooney (maybe he is preparing a statement for next years Oscars!)? What about the Christian Peacemakers Teams?! (nope… checked their web site… they are still too busy advocating for the people in Iraq against the U.S occupation!). Finally, where are the voices of the religious right including the current administration of the U.S.?! (I hope that Pat Robertson doesn’t make a statement or Abdul Rahman is as good as dead!). Maybe one, or more, or all of these individuals and groups are working tirelessly (possibly behind the scenes) for the cause of Abdul Rahman and I am not aware of it. But more importantly what can I do? I will pray. I will approach the “Throne of Grace and Mercy” and petition God to intervene for Abdul Rahman. Maybe it takes God and not the military might of NATO forces to ensure his democratic right of Freedom of Apostasy. 

Asa

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