“Muslim Women Should NOT Be Able to Marry Non-Muslim Men”: The Goatmilk Debates

THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, irreverent manner.

Each debater makes their opening argument. They can elect to post a rebuttal.

The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of their argument.

The motion: “Muslim Women Should Be Able to Marry Non-Muslim Men”

For the motion: Nadia S. Mohammad [See her article here] and May Alhassen

Against the motion: Sister Soul and Mahdi Ahmad

AGAINST THE MOTION: “Marriage Issues” – SISTER SOUL

I am not a legal scholar and I have not researched the legal aspects of the issue of Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men. To me, the essential issue in looking at this particular issue or others that “progressive” Muslims tend to discuss is whether “Islam” allows it or not – not whether we think it should be allowed or not. What we want is too tempting in this kind of topic and can bias our interpretations of our religion, and of course what each person wants can and does vary.

How do we decide what our religion says? This of course involves figuring out what “Islam” is and what it allows, which leads us to the Qur’an, sunnah, shari’ah and on and on. Certainly we’d want to look at the Qur’an, but even then we need to figure out how to understand it. Some verses we tend to say refer to a specific context and yet some we say refer to all times and all places. How do we decide which verses are which? And what about the sunnah, how do we use it when it is completely immersed in a specific context? Same with shari’ah. What this all gets at is methodology—coming up with one, being consistent with it and figuring out how it should mix with what we want (if at all). Now I’d like to set aside the legal issues and bring up others, while trying to come up with alternative solutions.

Why are we interested in this issue? If we are interested purely as a legal exercise, then we need to engage in a legal discussion, which this is not. I suspect that we are interested in the issue as a solution to a problem. That problem is that Muslims are having a hard time finding fellow Muslims in America to marry. I want to explore this topic now. Continue reading

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“Muslim Women Should Be Able to Marry Non-Muslim Men”: The Goatmilk Debates #2

THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, irreverent manner.

Each debater makes their opening argument. They can elect to post a rebuttal.

The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of their argument.

The motion: “Muslim Women Should Be Able to Marry Non-Muslim Men”

For the motion: Nadia S. Mohammad [See her article here] and May Alhassen

Against the motion: Sister Soul [Read her argument here]

For the Motion – May Alhassen – “Muslim women should not be able to marry non-Muslim men”

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (30:21, Y. Ali) 

“I’m not against capture and convert,” a male Muslim friend of mine frequently provides this jocular rejoinder in discussions about finding solutions to the rising number of successful, accomplished, unmarried Muslim American women in their 30s.  As many families and Muslimah community members extradite the Huma Abedins of the world for marrying “non’s,” and as little to no Imams agree to perform marriages for these unions, we must ask ourselves, what is the appropriate recourse for solving the problem of a growing number of unwed Muslimahs with a proportionally dwindling stock of suitable (or even available) Muslim men?

What is the solution?  Should the Muslim community, with an overwhelming opposition to inter-faith marriages for Muslim women, reconsider its position in the matter?

As Ms. Mohammad mentioned, Islamic legal scholar Dr. Abou El Fadl “personally, finds the evidence regarding the prohibition to be weak and does not feel comfortable telling a woman she cannot marry a kitabiyya [People of the Book.] Although this may be the case, he also acknowledges, “I am not aware of a single dissenting opinion on this, which is rather unusual for Islamic jurisprudence because Muslim jurists often disagreed on many issues, but this is not one of them.”[1] Since scholarly opinion has overwhelmingly established Muslim female marriage to non-Muslim men as haram [forbidden], it is incumbent for the “pro” side to prove otherwise.  I, in return, offer three additional points to not just support an “against position” but also to add nuance to the controversial debate which has arisen in this age of an “epidemic case” of Muslimah singledom.

Although I am a person not interested in ideological conversion or searing into people’s private affairs with argumentative interventions, I am taking this position on three accounts.

Firstly, to argue in favor of a Muslim marriage as a source for the preservation and protection of a woman’s legal rights in marriage; secondly, to show that not Muslim women, but Muslim men have more restrictive marriage guidelines; and lastly, to explore the parameters of what a “Muslim” is and rigorously interrogate the meanings we attach to such historically evolving, morphing, and transformed terms as “Muslim”—in fact, let us ask ourselves, not just who is defined as a non-Muslim man, but who is defined as a befitting “Muslim” man to marry. This is not a legal or a scholarly intervention, as I am no neither, but one compelling further scrutiny of perceived axiomatic truths. I also do not take on popular sociological arguments that use the preservation of religious inheritance in a patriarchical society or continuation of the “ummah” to either support or justify their position. I find those arguments lacking in qualitative and quantitative proof. Continue reading

“Muslim women should be able to marry non-Muslim men”: The Goatmilk Debates

THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, irreverent manner.

Each debater makes their opening argument. They can elect to post a rebuttal.

The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of their argument.

The motion: “Muslim Women Should Be Able to Marry Non-Muslim Men”

For the motion: Nadia S. Mohammad and May Alhassen [Read her piece here]

Against the motion:  Sister Soul [Read her piece here]

For the Motion – Nadia S. Mohammad – “Muslim women should be able to marry non-Muslim men”

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens) wed Huma Abedin Saturday in Huntinton, L.I. The bride wore a down designed by Oscar de la Renta.

When Huma Abedin, aide to Hilary Clinton, married Anthony Weiner, New York Congressman, it sent tongues wagging in the Muslim community. She did the unthinkable, the ultimate taboo for a good Muslim girl from a good Muslim family – she married a Jew… and he did not convert. O-M-G. The question that makes even the most open-minded Imams squirm was revived – Can a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim man? The answer in all the major schools of thought has traditionally been a resounding NO. Absolutely, not. Not ever. Haraam, sister.

The response only begs the next question, but why? It is not prohibited in the Qur’an. Few modern scholars feel comfortable forbidding it for that reason. Yet, few are actually willing to articulate this in an official forum. Dr. Abou El Fadl is an example of a scholar who has openly and candidly addressed the issue of Muslim women marrying “men of the Book.” In his response he explains his dislike of the issue and his tendency to avoid answering the question. He describes the traditional thought and then goes on to mention that he, personally, finds the evidence regarding the prohibition to be weak and does not feel comfortable telling a woman she cannot marry a kitabiyya [People of the Book.] Continue reading

“Muslims Should Not Adopt Moon sighting to Establish Ramadan”: The Goatmilk Debates

THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, irreverent manner.

Each debater makes their opening argument. They can elect to post a rebuttal.

The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of their argument.

The motion: “Muslims Should Adopt Moon sighting to Establish Ramadan”

For the motion: Irfan Rydhan

Against the motion: Aziz Poonawalla

AZIZ POONAWALLA against the motion, “Muslims should adopt moonsighting to establish Ramadan”

My brother Irfan Rydhan makes a compelling case in defense of moonsighting for Ramadan, and I think it is important to assert here that I do not intend to attempt to refute his case. The motion under debate is whether all muslims should adopt moonsighting, not the validity of moonsighting per se. My intention in this debate is to emphasize that there IS a valid debate about whether moonsighting is the sole method of establishing Ramadan, and to question the assumption that my brother makes, that there is some inherent value in all muslims adopting an identical practice rather than embracing the diversity of valid interpretation and traditions we have inherited as a truly global Ummah.Irfan begins his case with the Qur’an, so let’s revisit ayat 2:185, using Quran.com:

Pickthall: And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days.
Yusuf Ali: So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later.
Shakir: therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days;

Note that these translations disagree with Irfan’s formulation – the actual phrase in contention is, “shahida minkumu ashshahra” where the literal translation of the words in isolation would be “witness the month”. However, note that the three most prominent translators of the Qur’an chose to translate the phrase as “is present during the month” instead. Irfan insists that “shahida” be interpreted literally as “witness” but then argues that some scholars accept a symbolic definition of “shahr” as “crescent moon” instead rather than the literal meaning of “month”.I am famously skeptical of translations, but if we must use them, why be selective on a per-word basis? Doesn’t an ayat’s meaning depend on the structure of the verse as a whole, and the context of surrounding verses? I do not fault someone for interpreting 2:185 such that “shahida” is “witness” and “shahr” is “crescent moon” as Irfan does, but other formulations such as “witness the month” and “present in the month” are at least as justifiable. Continue reading

Who cares about Pakistan?

By Jude Sheerin BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11035270?print=true

Donations have been sluggish to the Pakistan floods appeals, as they were back in 2005 when the part of Kashmir the country administers was torn apart by an earthquake. The BBC News website asked some experts to comment on possible reasons why.

Donor fatigue

Graphic

Dr Marie Lall, Pakistan expert at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and senior lecturer at the Institute of Education, says: “I think there is donor fatigue all around. The [2004] Indian Ocean tsunami, the Burmese Cyclone [Nargis, 2008], the [2005] Pakistan earthquake, and [this year’s] Haiti earthquake. It is getting too much; we are in a recession and people are short of money.”

Rebecca Wynn, Pakistan specialist for UK-based aid agency Oxfam, says: “Many donors have made substantial contributions in humanitarian assistance to Pakistan over the years, particularly in response to the conflict-related displacements over the last two years. Of course, the fact that the people of Pakistan have been hit time and again by disaster is even more reason to give.”

Dr Elizabeth Ferris, senior fellow at the US-based Brookings Institution, a foreign policy think tank, says: “It should also be noted that the international humanitarian system isn’t set up to deal with more than one major crisis a year. USAID, for example, committed one-third of its annual budget to the Haitian earthquake response. And among the general public there may be a feeling of, ‘Well, I donated to the victims of the Haitian earthquake and Haiti is a far needier country than Pakistan.'”

Corruption

Yale University economics professor Dean Karlan, an expert on charitable giving, says: “Corruption concerns may explain why giving is lower to developing countries than many would like it to be, but it does not explain why there is less money pouring into Pakistan now than does to disaster relief causes in other developing countries with similar governance issues.”

Dr Marie Lall says: “People in Pakistan are sceptical the government will be transparent. But they are giving to philanthropic organisations. In the UK, I think people are sceptical of [non-governmental organisations’] overheads and costs. They don’t know which ones are transparent and reliable, even though local organisations such as TCF [The Citizens’ Foundation] are doing an incredible job.” Continue reading