Your guide to Ramadan fasting

Interestingly sensible, once one has absorbed the basic idea of daytime fasting through Ramadan:

Ruling for person unable to observe fast?

Dr. Ali Ahmed Mashael: If a person is unable to observe fast, he has to feed one poor person for each day that he didn’t fast. But, it is better to observe fast.

What is the ruling on fasting for those who are constantly travelling and not staying at a place for a long time.

Dr. Ali Ahmed Mashael: A traveller is permitted not to fast if he travels over a distance of 78kms per day.

However, a seasoned traveller who does not get travel weary can fast.

If a person stays in the country for four days or more, he should fast and perform prayers.

But if he stays for less than four days, he should perform Jama and Qasr prayers and fast.

Earlier, travelling was not easy. But now travelling has become smooth so fasting is not tough even for regular travellers. So, it is preferable for Muslims to observe fast.

A very sensible observation that the world has changed.

What is the Shariah ruling as regards eye drops and injections during the day?

Dr. Ali Ahmed Mashael: Eye drops, according to Shafai’i and Hanafi, do not break the fast even if the fasting person can taste it in the throat.

This is because the eye is not a normal place for receiving food or drink, even if something reaches the throat.

The fast is broken through anything entering through open ports like the ear, nose and mouth.

Injections do not invalidate the fast, whether it is intravenous or intramuscular, and whether there is a taste or not.

These do not reach the stomach via an open port, unless the injections are used to assist the body as food and drink like in the case of a nutrient injection. In such cases it breaks the fast.

I grew up in a pretty relaxed Catholicism but reading around what the Irish Church of the 50s was like, for example, one can imagine very similar questions and answers about Lent or no meat Fridays and the like. I actually recall one monk teaching us youngsters (and it was youngsters) of a Lenten rule. If we’d given up sweeties for Lent (no, didn’t happen for me but….) did that mean that if we were given some for our birthday, which happened to fall in Lent, we couldn’t eat them? No, your birthday, and for example that of St Patrick if you were of Irish background (and very grudgingly, the Irish influence in British Catholicism being rather strong, St George if you were English, David, Welsh and so on) is a celebratory day, a Feast Day, and thus Lenten restrictions do not apply. That might actually be exactly the same as Shariah works, the answer being dependent upon which authority you consult.

The actual injunctions are different but the method of logic in reaching them is almost exactly the same. I can imagine Rabbis chewing over the same points too, or at least in the same manner.

46 comments on “Your guide to Ramadan fasting

  1. The actual injunctions are different but the method of logic in reaching them is almost exactly the same. I can imagine Rabbis chewing over the same points too, or at least in the same manner.

    Given all three of them come from the same origin, it is not surprising that they have something in common. There is a difference though. Judaism and Islam are nothing but the rules and the commentary on them. They are very much letter of the law people. So you may not lend money but you can set up a notional trade that ends up with you being paid interest.

    Christians are not. Jesus very clearly objected to the letter of the law. The spirit is what counted. So these sort of rules and the logical hair splitting arguments that go with them have a much smaller place in Christianity. Virtually no place at all in Protestant Christianity. You would be told to examine your conscience, recognise you were abusing the letter of the law for your own personal indulgence and feel ashamed.

    The other part of this is Rabbi Shopping. Muslims and Jews can look around until they get a ruling they like. For Muslims this is made easy because virtually all legal books say “Abu Hanifa said you can’t do this, Abu Shafi agreed with him, but his student Malik said you can do this”. So you just need to find an authority who agrees with the right author. The closest Christian equivalent would be shopping for the right Confessor. A once fashionable pastime that has more or less disappeared.

  2. Matthew L – “Harry Turtledove published an amusing short story about a rabbi asked to make a kosher decision on GM pork.”

    Muslims have been discussing the babirusa for generations.

    I think they have decided it is not kosher no matter what.

    Jeremy Corbyn – “Jews are good.”

    When lightly roasted?

  3. How about someone in Northern Norway, where it’s all daylight at the mo’?

    Presumably whoever invented this taboo didn’t understand the ancient Greek lesson that the world is round.

  4. dearieme – “Presumably whoever invented this taboo didn’t understand the ancient Greek lesson that the world is round.”

    The Quran repeatedly refers to the Earth being flat – laid out like a carpet in fact.

  5. The huge difference between Christianity and Judaism and Islam is that Christianity is not hung up on physical purity vs contamination. Fasting for Christians is a discipline, a strengthening of the will, breaking that fast demonstrates the weakness of the flesh. Kosher and halal are designed to restrict and structure adherents lives by intruding into everyday life to remind the faithful that they are distinct, cleaner and better than nonbelievers, who are deemed dirty.

    Some of the early Christian saints had aggressively revolting personal hygiene eg the stylites, spending years living on top of a column to demonstrate the body’s unimportance, whereas ignoring ritual hygiene before prayers or after touching a menstrual woman, requires elaborate cleansing ritual esp in Islam but also Orthodox Judaism, and failure to observe these rituals makes the individual, whatever his spiritual status, an apostate.

  6. This is why sola scriptura followers are more Judaic in outlook (legalist clean-freaks). By going back to the text and ignoring the rest, they were naturally drawn back to a more Judaic outlook.

    And God said, yea, ye shall have but two units of wine per day, not one unit more, three units are an abomination in the eyes of the LORD…

  7. And ye shall fast of wine in January, no wine shall pass they lips. And ye shall grown an moustache on thy top lip in Movember.

  8. dearieme,

    I suspect most of these laws come from some sort of common sense 1500+ years ago. Lent was probably just about keeping people from eating too much in the period between winter and harvest so that everyone survived. Ramadan would have been when it was hot in Arab states, not much food around and you wouldn’t want to eat much anyway. I imagine most Jewish law was about a few people with shellfish allergies.

  9. TW: … but the ill do not have to fast.

    Well that’s what I thought too but then the post says: unless the injections are used to assist the body as food and drink like in the case of a nutrient injection. In such cases it breaks the fast. and this seems to be more likely to apply to an unwell person rather than just for the fun of the thing.

    And all this “open port” business makes me wonder whether you can stuff a load of semtex up your fundament during Ramadan with a view to – yum yum – extra virgins.

  10. Anon-

    I think the idea that these taboos were ever common sense as we would recognise it is pretty much dead these days. They were about tribal distinctions. “The foreigners in the valleys eat pigs, we in the hills eat sheep”. And so on. The ritual purity only has the most tenuous connection to what we understand as being clean (and thus disease free etc).

    It’s more like the youth/music tribes today who identify themselves with distinct clothing and behaviours.

  11. stuff a load of semtex up your fundament during Ramadan

    I always feel that way the day after a Bombay Bad Boy.

  12. IanB: “And ye shall fast of wine in January, no wine shall pass they lips.”

    That’s “Irish Ramadan”.

  13. Meissen

    I once used to frequent a muslim youth blog as a wind up and a colleague of mine used to post the most anti Islamic stuff on it under the pen name Mushy Diane, without anyone realising or commenting

  14. TMB – Moshe Peas?

    ABSOLUTELY HARAM

    BraveFart – He has an Edinburgh colleague called Ramabam.

    Nemo – It’s a mere stone’s throw away.

  15. Ian B,

    Reading Doug’s linked answer, yes, that’s what seems to be the case. This was, of course, rational, in the sense of tribes.

    And yes, we still have tribes today. The people who travel down to Somerset to stand in a muddy field in Glastonbury are doing it more for tribal identity and signalling than to get to hear some landfill indie.

  16. I don’t know how true it is but I was told that the instruction was to fast for one day during Ramadan. The exact day wasn’t specified though so, to be on the safe side, they decided to fast for all of them.

  17. “The actual injunctions are different but the method of logic in reaching them is almost exactly the same.”

    The best guide I know of to Sharia is ‘Reliance of the Traveler’. It was originally written as a compact guide for Muslims traveling abroad where they would not have access to legal experts. It’s endorsed by a bunch of modern Islamic authorities, so if you ever want to argue with Muslims about what Islam *really* requires of them, it’s very handy. (For example, it’s quite clear that offensive jihad *is* part of Islam.)

    http://concit.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/reliance2_complete.pdf

    That said, if anyone calling themselves ‘Muslim’ wants to follow a personal version of Islam that doesn’t conform to the rule book, I’m fine with that. Just so long as they don’t lie to me about their version being the original and only.

    “Well that’s what I thought too but then the post says: unless the injections are used to assist the body as food and drink like in the case of a nutrient injection. In such cases it breaks the fast. and this seems to be more likely to apply to an unwell person rather than just for the fun of the thing.”

    If you read the chapter on fasting in ‘Reliance’, you’ll see that fasting is not compulsory for the ill, but neither is it disallowed. If you’re ill, decide to fast anyway, but take medicine, then the fast is broken and doesn’t count.

    “I don’t know how true it is but I was told that the instruction was to fast for one day during Ramadan. The exact day wasn’t specified though so, to be on the safe side, they decided to fast for all of them.”

    I don’t think so.

    http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=2&verse=185

  18. I think cultures vary a lot in terms of just how much they like being told exactly what do and think, and for the Arab world this predates Mohammed, who felt he had to lay down lots of rules for his people because if he didn’t they would get a set of rules from another group of elders.

  19. Ramadan follows a lunar cycle, not in phase with the sun cycle.
    So it would have been obvious within a few year for Mo’s followers to know that it was just an arbitrary rule from the Angel Gabriel, direct spokesman from HIM. No?

  20. I was once in a shoe factory in Indonesia during Ramadan. It was 40+ degrees inside and people wouldn’t even take a glass of water until they fainted and were carried out… At that point I believe it’s ok to have a swig.

    There is apparently some correlation between Muslim kids being born 8 or 9 months after Ramadan and them being retarded or otherwise disabled. Pregnant women don’t have to fast but those who don’t know they are up the duff and that important developmental period of the kid occurring during Ramadan is a recipe for disaster.

  21. To support Timmy’s original post, yep, that’s pretty much the way it is. Islam is essentially a split off from Judaism without all the Graeco-Roman philosophical baggage that got taken into Christianity. Both Islam and Judaism have the view that if you “do good” as defined, you’ll be right with God and go to Heaven. Again Christianity is the outlier here; in spite of what many people think, doing good isn’t enough to earn the wings and a halo in Christianity.

    “Imam-shopping” used to be as prevalent as “rabbi-shopping” in Judaism or “pastor-shopping” in Protestant Christianity. That means finding a guy who preaches pretty much what you agree with and then attending his mosque/synagogue/church.

    What changed that was the rise of the House of Saud coupled with the rise of the value of oil. Ol’ Ibn Saud, cunning old son of the desert that he was, needed help from the Wahhabis to beat the Turks and throw out his old rival, Sharif Hussein of the Hejaz. That worked for Abdul Aziz who during his lifetime gave nothing but respect (and *nothing* but respect) to the Wahhabi sheikhs. However his sons were far less wise…

    Their oil led to gold. And their gold has resulted in setting up training for would-be Sunni imams who learn nothing but the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. And that’s why we are where we are.

    Islam was and is as capable of being flexible and moderate as the other Abrahamic religions. Perhaps it’s time the gold of the West was weighed in against the Saudi gold…

  22. ” And their gold has resulted in setting up training for would-be Sunni imams who learn nothing but the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. And that’s why we are where we are.”

    There is a story going around that most of the Islamic schools are moderate, that only the Wahhabi school is ‘extremist’, and that all the terrorists are terrorists because they follow this old-fashioned minority interpretation.

    It’s not true. ‘Reliance’ is quite clear on the subject of offensive jihad, confirming that *every* school of Islam says exactly the same thing on this subject. They’re all agreed. None of them is ‘moderate’ in that sense. And although ‘Reliance’ doesn’t cover it, the Shia and Sufi schools say the same thing too. Offensive jihad to convert Dar al Harb (the House of War – i.e. the non-Muslim world) to Islam is a *communal obligation*, meaning that it is obligatory for the Muslim community as a whole to fight, but not for all individuals within it. So long as enough others fight, an individual may be excused. But if nobody fights, the sin rests on every Muslim.

    “Islam was and is as capable of being flexible and moderate as the other Abrahamic religions.”

    Islam isn’t flexible – or at least, not officially. There are specific rules forbidding changes (one of the early Caliphs got overthrown because he tried). While changes were made during Muhammad’s time (and a complicated set of rules set out on which verses overrule which others), once Muhammad died the rules were (officially, at least) fixed. There are matters of interpretation – things not covered in the original law because they didn’t know about them, like what happens to prayer times if you’re above the Arctic circle and the sun doesn’t set) – that could still be ruled on, but once the ruling was made it couldn’t be changed.

    There was for several centuries a habit of making up haddith (stories about the prophet and his companions) to support whatever ruling a particular Imam wanted to make. Eventually they stopped that by declaring four particular books to be genuine (sahih), and the rest unreliable. They had so much trouble with people sneaking in changes that they cracked down on it and forbade it totally. It’s simply not allowed.

    So while it’s possible to get a new ruling on things like the internet, that they didn’t have back in Mo’s day, you can’t change the rules on jihad and expect to get away with it. The scholars documented exactly how it was interpreted and practiced historically, and the rules say that can’t be changed. There are a few loopholes in those rules, but the rules themselves are not flexible.

    In practice, of course, there are a lot of self-described Muslims that don’t follow the rules. The rules themselves state that they’re not really Muslim if they deliberately and knowingly fail to follow the rules, and indeed are under sentence of death as apostates if they’re caught. (Muslims usually don’t follow this rule, either.)

    It’s a rather delicate situation. On the one hand, it’s a bad idea to lie about Islam being moderate and allowing this sort of flexibility, because it perpetuates and shields a pernicious orthodoxy from challenge and scrutiny. It’s not a tiny minority of heretical extremists that are the problem, it’s the orthodox mainstream. And it’s very easy for the jihadists to prove that – and the fact that they’re telling the truth and everyone else is lying is a very convincing tool for recruitment.

    However, we don’t *want* Muslims to interpret it that way, and telling everyone that the jihadists are actually *right* about Islam’s requirements is a bad idea – it recruits the pious to the cause. We also don’t want to put the moderate Muslims at risk of being executed for apostasy (or even excluded from their communities). They’ll hide what they are if that happens, make more of a show of orthodox belief, become less moderate, and less willing to stand up for tolerance.

    The lie that Islam is moderate and flexible is told partly to enable Muslims to *become* moderate and flexible. The hope is that it will eventually become moderate and flexible enough for people to escape it, if they want, or for Islam to cease to be a problem if they don’t. (Conversion is the only possible long-term solution. It’s not like we could ever exterminate them all, even if that was morally/politically feasible, even with the Western technological advantage.)

    The Saudi Sheikhs are as moderate as it pays them to be. Which is a lot more moderate than they would be if it wasn’t for all that oil money, but a lot less moderate than we’d like given the political advantages to them of stirring up trouble. The idea is that we’ll support their despotism because the jihadist nutters are the most likely alternative to arise if they’re deposed – and they therefore make damn sure the jihadist nutters survive to *remain* the only alternative.

  23. You’ve missed out (deliberately?) the important qualification that jihad, in the sense of warfare, has to be directed by the caliph. Which is why the nutters are so keen to declare a caliphate.

  24. “You’ve missed out (deliberately?) the important qualification that jihad, in the sense of warfare, has to be directed by the caliph.”

    That’s what I was referring to when I said: “There are a few loopholes in those rules, but the rules themselves are not flexible.”

    There are two varieties of jihad: defensive and offensive. Defence of already-Muslim lands (e.g. Palestine) is an individual obligation and requires no Caliph to direct it. Offensive jihad (against non-Muslim lands) does require the Caliph’s permission to launch an offensive, if the Caliph exists.

    It’s something of a legal grey area what’s required if there is no Caliph, since in earlier times there always was one, and indeed it is obligatory to have one. Nobody in the early days bothered to give a ruling on what to do in a situation that is legally not supposed to ever happen.

    ‘Reliance’ (linked above) gives a modern-day interpolated ruling that if there is no Caliph, then his permission is *not* required (ruling o9.6 on page 602). Opinions differ, and it would make it a lot easier to argue for the jihad if there was one (and he happened to be jihad-inclined), which is why, as you say, the nutters are so keen to declare a caliphate with their own leader as Caliph. But the ‘authoritative’ answer is that they don’t need one.

    The other major loophole is the ‘hudna’ – if the enemy is too strong for the Muslims to immediately defeat, it is legal to call a temporary ceasefire while they build up the military strength until they are strong enough. This is based on Mo’s exile in Medina, while he built up the military strength to retake Mecca. Supposedly there’s a time limit, but again that’s a bit of a grey area in cases where the Muslims still aren’t strong enough at the end of it.

    Yes, I *deliberately* left out discussion of it – partly because my comment was already getting very long and it’s not directly relevant to the point I was making, partly because it’s a complicated subject and it’s impossible to cover every nuance and subtlety in the depth it deserves in a blog comment, and partly because I’ve given a link to all the gory details – all 1251 pages of it! – that I expect anyone who wants to know more to go *read*. It’s got a nice index. You can look up ‘jihad’ for yourself.

    There’s a lot of misinformation and rumour circulating about what Islam really does and does not require – both from its attackers and defenders. My primary aim was to give people the means to find out for themselves, so that when they argue they’re backed by the top Islamic scholars and are not vulnerable to having their arguments exposed as BS.

    It’s an unrealistic hope, I know. Most people are happy to carry on spouting BS, and are not going to read a thousand page book on Sharia law just so they can be technically accurate while they’re bloviating on the internet. They’re only venting their feelings – they’re not trying to make a difference or convince any actual Muslims, so what difference does it make if they lose a few arguments? but you never know.

  25. So on the one hand the rules have been set in stone for centuries and can’t be changed, and on the other hand your entire argument depends on an (over)interpretation of a 20th-century addition.

  26. “So on the one hand the rules have been set in stone for centuries and can’t be changed, and on the other hand your entire argument depends on an (over)interpretation of a 20th-century addition.”

    It’s fair enough that someone might choose not to read the thousand page reference before criticising, but I’m a lot less impressed that you failed to read even my relatively short blog comment!

    I’ll say it again: “There are matters of interpretation – things not covered in the original law because they didn’t know about them, […] – that could still be ruled on, but once the ruling was made it couldn’t be changed. […] So while it’s possible to get a new ruling on things like the internet, that they didn’t have back in Mo’s day, you can’t change the rules on jihad and expect to get away with it.”

    Nor does my entire argument depend on it. But whatever. You’re apparently more of an expert than all the Islamic scholars who endorsed the book are. So I don’t see any point in arguing any further.

  27. I’m not expert on this. But there are, and have been for centuries, many Islamic scholars who believe that offensive jihad is forbidden. Given your extensive reading, you must be aware of this. Your argument is dishonest.

  28. “I’m not expert on this. But there are, and have been for centuries, many Islamic scholars who believe that offensive jihad is forbidden.”

    On what basis? It can’t have been for lack of a Caliph, because the Ottoman Caliphate was only abolished in 1924.

    The consensus from all four Sunni schools is that it is obligatory.
    For example:
    Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani said “Jihad is a precept of Divin institution. Its performance by certain individuals may dispense others from it. We Malikis maintain that it is preferable not to begin hostilities with the enemy before having invited the latter to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks first. They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the jizya, short of which war will be declared against them.”

    Ibn Taymiyyah (Hanbali school) “Since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought. As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight, such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped and their likes, they shall not be killed unless they actually fight with words (e.g. by propaganda) and acts (e.g. by spying, or otherwise assisting in the warfare).

    From the Hanafi school, we have Sheikh Burhanuddin Ali al Marghinan saying “It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war […] If the infidels upon receiving the call, neither agree to it nor agree to pay the jizya, it is incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve him, and the destroyer of his enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore his aid on every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us to do so.”

    Al Mawardi (Shafi’i school) says: “The infidels of Dar al-Harb are of two types. First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they have refused it and taken up arms. The amir of the army has the option of fighting them […] in accordance with what he judges to be in the best interests of the Muslims and most harmful to the unbelievers. Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call of his Messenger […] It is forbidden to […] begin an attack before explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the miracles of the Prophet and making plain the proofs so as to encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those who the call has reached.”

    And for the Shiite school, al Amili, a distinguished theologian under Shah Abbas I, wrote in Jami-i-Abbasi: “Jihad against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam or pay the jizya.”

    Reliance of the Traveler reiterates the consensus, and has been endorsed as current and correct in more recent times by (for example) Dr. Taha Jabir al-‘Alwani, President of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, and Fath Allah Ya Sin Jazar, General Director of Research, Writing, and Translation at the al-Azhar University Islamic Research Academy.

    They all appear to be under the mysterious impression that there is no doubt and no disagreement. Jihad is obligatory. It always has been, and always will be. While it is one of the duties of the Caliph to direct the war, and for Muslims to obey him, the imperative to jihad is the overriding principle – that there is no Caliph to direct it does not in any way negate the obligation. The duty to wage offensive jihad lies on the umma, the Muslim community as a whole, not the Caliph specifically.

    But you say there are lots of Islamic scholars who think otherwise, and have been for centuries? That sounds very interesting. Please do tell me more about their reasoning.

  29. SJW,

    Thanks, but that’s a Westernised ‘moderate Muslim’ appealing for the rules to be changed, not an Islamic scholar citing the orthodox interpretation – his main argument seems be that offensive jihad is horrible, and Islam is all about mercy and justice and conforming to the modern ideal of human rights and equality and so forth, so Islam can’t possibly advocate offensive jihad. This is a case of the Appeal to Adverse Consequences.

    He’s quite correct that the early Meccan verses of the Qur’aan are a lot more tolerant than the fiery Medinan verses, and that the conventional orthodoxy holds that the latter abrogate the former. He doesn’t give any argument for why they don’t, other than that he doesn’t like the consequences. It’s rather like arguing that Jesus was *wrong* to tell people to forgive those who trespass against them, because the bible says ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’!

    He argues for tolerance of other religions in return for their tolerance of Islam, although Mohammad himself got thrown out of Mecca for insulting the local tribal Gods, and when he went back he smashed their idols and slaughtered their worshippers. He also slaughtered the Jews who had sheltered him in Medina for being insufficiently loyal to him in defending the city. It’s not really credible that he would act that way if this version of a tolerant and accommodating Islam was how Mohammad intended it to be understood.

    I will grant you that he cites others who argue for defensive jihad, who themselves cite the verses on defensive jihad. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really answer the question, because we already know there are verses on defensive as well as offensive jihad. What we need is not evidence that the defensive ones are there, but reason to believe that the offensive ones are to be ignored. (Do the earlier verses abrogate the later ones?) If they give such arguments, he doesn’t mention them. (I’m not entirely convinced that it’s not just his partial interpretation of what they were saying, either; but I don’t know that for sure and it’s possible. A lot of his arguments seem suspiciously modern to be derived from antiquity – e.g. human rights, condemnation of American wars.)

    But my thanks – I do at least know now what you’re talking about. I don’t consider such to be an Islamic scholar, I doubt any of those he cited would be widely considered Islamic scholars if that’s really what they were saying, and I think any real Islamic scholar would rip the argument to shreds, but I think that there may be a lot of less knowledgeable, Westernised Muslims (and infidel Westerners!) who would find the argument plausible.

    But even your “American Muslim” evidently doesn’t consider it it be orthodox. In his closing paragraphs he says: “It is clear that traditional understandings of jihad are urgently in need of careful scrutiny, study and revision. They desperately need to be re-looked at. If Muslim scholars do not take up this task, …” I think it’s pretty clear from this that he knows very well that Muslim scholars haven’t yet taken up that task, and that the “traditional understandings” are at variance with how he wishes things to be.

    Unfortunately, the traditional understanding is that such re-examination is forbidden, and he’s an apostate under sentence of death for even suggesting it. (Reliance b5.1, o8.7 (14), o8.1-2). So given the potential bravery of what he’s doing, I’m willing to cut him some slack. It’s an admirable attempt, but not a strong one.

  30. It doesn’t matter whether you or anyone else agrees with the theological argument. Because the case you’re trying to make is that Muslims everywhere are constrained to support offensive jihad. And of course they’re not if an ulema from the Dar ul-Ulum in Deoband says they’re not, because Muslims can decide for themselves who to listen to.

  31. “Because the case you’re trying to make is that Muslims everywhere are constrained to support offensive jihad.”

    No, the case I’m trying to make is that, unarguably, offensive jihad is immutably obligatory according to the orthodox and traditional Islam. Muslims who don’t accept that are not orthodox, according to the traditional version that’s been extant since Muhammad’s time. They are, according to the traditional version, apostates.

    That doesn’t mean they can’t be apostates according to the historical Islam, but still call themselves ‘Muslim’ in a new and improved Islam that they’ve just invented. Because that’s exactly what they’re doing.

    It’s dangerous trying to claim that their new Islam is the traditional one, because it retains the priority on following tradition instead of putting tolerance ahead of tradition. It’s easy for the beards to prove that obligatory jihad is traditional, and therefore young Muslims wanting to be more pious will drop the new Islam in favour of the old. But at the same time, it’s dangerous to be too transparent about what you’re doing.

    ” And of course they’re not if an ulema from the Dar ul-Ulum in Deoband says they’re not, because Muslims can decide for themselves who to listen to.”

    It depends which Islam you’re following. The traditional Islam says that Muslims can only follow qualified scholars, one of the identifying characteristics of who is that they follow the traditional consensus, and in particular one of the four schools (Reliance b7.5-6). They’re not stupid. They’re well aware that if you made the rule be that you could follow the rulings of anyone you wanted to, there would in effect be no rules, because you could always find someone willing to say that eating pork and worshiping false idols was OK, or whatever.

    But if you’re making that a rule of new Islam, then of course you can make a rule that anyone can make the rules, and you can follow whichever set of rules you like. Sure. Why not.

    But don’t you think it’s a bit too obvious what you’re doing?

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