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First, al-Qaradawi permits the use of the Islamic concession of combining two prayers in one time, such as the sunset prayer (maghrib) and the evening prayer (‘ishā), in the summer in Western countries where sunset is late and nights are short in order to allow Muslims who need to work early in the morning to get adequate hours of rest at night. Depending on the mosque and the calculation method used for determining
sunset prayer and ends after the dawn prayer sets in. The concession that is made permissible by al-Qaradawi here works by allowing Muslims to perform the two prayers together in succession at the time stipulated for either the earlier prayer or the later prayer. This deviates from the prevailing traditional view that such flexibility can only be resorted to in extreme circumstances, such as severe weather conditions and natural disasters, or in exceptional conditions such as when one is in a state of journey or in a state of fear.
Second, al-Qaradawi allows a female Muslim convert to remain in a legal union with her non-Muslim husband, on whom she is dependent for support and with whom she has children, for the purpose of easing her hardship, which may prompt her to abandon Islam. Al-Qaradawi approaches this issue by reframing the question in the problem, so as to ask instead whether it is worse for the woman to stay in the marriage while still a Muslim or for her to renounce Islam altogether due to her love for her family and in order to maintain support from her spouse. The classical Islamic perspective on this issue is that the woman must be separated from her husband after having embraced Islam or after the expiry of her first waiting period (‘idda).
Third, al-Qaradawi grants a male Muslim convert, who is in a financial hardship and intent on improving the financial conditions of other Muslims who are committed to the mission of Islam, to accept family inheritance from his deceased non-Muslim father. The scholar acknowledges the predominant belief in Islam that it is unlawful for a Muslim to inherit from a non-Muslim - as adopted by the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs, the founders of the four Islamic schools of thought, and the majority of classical and contemporary Muslim scholars - following the Prophetic sayings that read
Muslim’ and ‘There is no interfaith inheritance (in Islam)’ (in al-Qaradawi, 2003a, p.118). However, he reasons that Islam does not deprive a Muslim from fortune and benefits that may be used for good purposes in accordance with Islamic teachings, and that it is better for family inheritance in the afore-mentioned context to be obtained by believers than non-believers who may use it to ‘devise malicious schemes against Muslims’ (al-Qaradawi, 2003a, p.119). In addition, he suggests that this may help prevent a non-Muslim interested in converting to Islam from being discouraged due to the fear that they may be deprived from their family inheritance after having embraced the religion.
Fourth, al-Qaradawi approves of Muslims living in the West congratulating nonMuslims on their religious or national festivals for the purpose of fostering good relations within their pluralistic environment, and of returning the favor of being complimented on Muslim feasts. This is based on the Qur’anic verse that reads: ‘And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner]. Indeed, Allah is ever, over all things, an Accountant’ (Qur’an, 4:86). It is generally believed that Muslims are prohibited from showing support for the “falsehood” of other religions by any means, but al-Qaradawi contextualizes this belief and subsequently allows Muslims to give their complimentary greetings on the condition that they do not include any religious symbols or messages that contradict Islamic principles. The scholar goes through several steps to cast nonMuslims in a positive light before coming up with his solution: First, he distinguishes between non-Muslims who fight the Muslims and drive them out of their homes and those who do not; second, he cites a Prophetic tradition that stipulates that a Muslim
People of the Book in Islam and supports it with the ruling that a Muslim man is allowed to marry a woman from the former group; fourth: he quotes a Prophetic saying that narrates how the Prophet responded to a group of Jews who greeted him with a curse with a restrained reply and reprimanded his wife, ‘Aisha, for having retorted the Jews’ verbal assault with another curse19.
one can deduce three important points regarding his adaptive reformist thinking. First, the scholar’s approach shows the practice of pragmatic and contextual thinking, where he suspends the literal and historical interpretations of the Islamic Revelation in order to assess the circumstances within which a problem is set and the wider ramifications of its resulting solution. Second, although he uses ijtihād and the principles of taysīr, ḍarūra, maqāṣid, and lesser evil to a significant extent, he keeps his solutions consistent with the general principles established by the Qur’an and Sunna. Third, his fatwas are clearly anchored in the notions of Islamization of the West, protection of religion, and interfaith tolerance, all of which correspond to his use of the concept of da’wa and his concern about losing the Muslim minorities to religious attrition and Western secularism (as discussed in Chapter 4.2). It should be added here that protection of religion is widely 18 Narrated Asma': "My mother who was a Mushrikah (pagan, etc.), came with her father during the period of peace pact between the Muslims and the Quraish infidels. I went to seek the advice of the Prophet saying, "My mother has arrived and she is hoping (for my favor)." The Prophet said, "Yes, be good to your mother." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 73, Hadith 9).
19 Narrated `Aisha (the Prophet’s wife): A group of Jews entered upon the Prophet and said, "As-SamuAlaikum." (i.e. death be upon you). I understood it and said, "Wa-Alaikum As-Samu wal-la'n. (death and the curse of Allah be Upon you)." Allah's Messenger said "Be calm, O `Aisha! Allah loves that on, should be kind and lenient in all matters." I said, "O Allah's Messenger! Haven't you heard what they (the Jews) have said?" Allah's Messenger said "I have (already) said (to them) "And upon you !" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 73, Hadith 53).
al-Sharī’a). As defined by Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali (d. 1111 C.E), these objectives are protection of religion, protection of life, protection of intellect, protection of lineage, and protection of property (in Ramadan, 2004, p.39). This list was later updated with many other objectives such as honor, peace, justice, and love of God by scholars such as al-Qarafi (d. 1285 C.E), Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1263 C.E), Ibn Ashur (d. 1973 C.E), alAlwani, and al-Qaradawi in light of the changing contextual conditions (Ramadan, 2009; Shavit, 2012).
5.3 Ramadan’s Transformative Reform and Ethical Reference 5.3.1 Conceptual Foundations As best as can be coherently discerned from Ramadan’s writings, his call for transformative change in the approach to challenges and opportunities faced by Muslims in the West (and Muslims in the modern world) first appeared in text in his Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation. It is in this work that the scholar expresses the limitations of the adaptive reform (notwithstanding its contributions), flagging its readiness to comply submissively with contextual realities and its “outpaced” methodology as its main issues (Ramadan, 2009), and suggests his transformative reform as a more progressive and realistic alternative. While his use of the terms “transformative” and “radical” to describe his model of reform may already be indicative of its departure from the conventions of the adaptive approach, his definition of the proposition speaks of an attempt at pushing the proverbial envelope beyond the vision of reconciling Muslim beliefs and European values; transformation reform seeks to formulate ‘visionary committed open ethics that questions the world, its order, its
transform it’ (Ramadan, 2009, p. 81-82).
The inception of transformation reform appears to be propelled mainly by Ramadan’s perception of stagnation in contemporary Islamic thought among religious leaders and lawmakers, particularly in their efforts to outline an applied Islamic ethics in many scientific fields and non-spiritual areas of life (Ramadan, 2009). This is supposedly caused by two main intellectual limitations on the part of contemporary Muslim scholars: First, their
understanding of the world is insufficient to grasp the concrete complexity of human affairs, and second, their lack of knowledge in the sciences prevents them from understanding the world's realities (Ramadan, 2009). He argues that ‘what was originally natural and integrated in the same person [knowledge of religion and the sciences] gradually became distinct, complex, and distributed among the minds of the social body immersed in history’ (Ramadan, 2009, p.86). This disintegration of expertise, then, led to the autonomy of ‘context scholars’ (specialists in the natural and social sciences) and that of ‘text scholars’ (specialists in the study of religion or ‘ulamā); while the former group remains self-engrossed in making expeditious technological progress in their particular fields (Ramadan, 2009, p.118), the latter gets by ‘with scanty information, with research-based conclusions to issue legal rulings about realities and contexts (that are inevitably more complex than they can understand)’ (Ramadan, 2009, p.126). Their tendencies to work within separate, autarchic domains without learning from and contributing to the means, visions, and achievements of one another have resulted in an unbalanced phenomenon where significant strides have been made in the sciences, but only little in the production of Islamic ethics (Ramadan, 2009). Consequently, complex issues plaguing both groups of
scientific thought, such as abortion, assisted suicide, human cloning, contraception, organ transplantation, and the like.
The afore-mentioned conflict is further exacerbated by the defensive attitude shown by Muslim scholars towards the growth of science and modernity. First, many have lapsed into the typical rhetoric of exclusivists in their use of problematic labels such as ‘Islamic’ and ‘non-Islamic’ to establish boundaries between what they believe truly reflects Islam and what does not; the latter has been growingly tainted by the negative connotation of 'non-ethical' and consequently deemed ‘irrelevant to Islamic legal deliberation and reform’ (Ramadan, 2009, p.118). Second, many have increasingly begun to adopt the approach of seeing “exogenous” Western progress and achievements in Islamic terms following the perceived need to protect ‘ethics against the “excesses” of the sciences’ (Ramadan, 2009, p.118). In response, Ramadan (2009) denounces the idea of ‘Islamizing’ the productions of Western modernity (e.g., science, technology, and cultural norms) through the use of superficial “Islamic-imbued” religious markers such as legal concepts and tools borrowed from the Islamic tradition - a trend he perceives as a misguided effort to ‘… recolonize the Universe of knowledge through an inflated use of the term “Islamic”…’ (Ramadan, 2009, p.128). His position on this issue – which he seems to suggest as the right approach, and that which parallels his general understanding of shahāda as discussed in Chapter 4.3 - is to consider any phenomenon in the world that does not present itself as being blatantly contradictory to Islam, irrespective of the absence of superficial Islamic markers, as essentially ‘Islamic’ (Ramadan, 2009), which is consistent with his loose definition of Islam discussed in Chapter 4.4. The key idea within this argument that effectively sets the scholar apart
Islamic nature of any given element is defined by its ethics, norms, and goals, which should be used to ‘… orient - and limit - the use of knowledge acquired’ (Ramadan, 2009, p.128), rather than by its superficial characteristics, such as methods and tools.
itself as a solution in Ramadan’s thinking in two important ways. First, it allows the creation of a unified framework of thinking and problem solving through the integration of relevant areas of knowledge that can serve as a lens through which global problems in all spheres of life - whether existing or potential - are analyzed and dealt with.
Second, it rejects the idea that religion and modernity represent two coexisting but mutually exclusive worlds. Evidently, the author’s focus in Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation centers largely on a supposed symbiotic, divine-intended relationship between the Revelation and the universe (‘universe’ here refers to the evolving diverse natural systems and processes of the world); this happens to be consistent with the theme of “complementarity” that characterizes his understanding of the interaction between religion and nationality through the concept of shahāda, which is discussed in the previous chapter20 (Ramadan, 2009).
of an ‘inherent complementarity’ (Ramadan, 2009, p.89), highlighting how they each are autonomous in their natural functioning, but complementary to one another in their ultimate objectives. He argues that this mutual enchainment necessitates both knowledge of the universe and knowledge of religion be rightfully seen as a dual, complementary force that is responsible for shaping all aspects of human life and
all these aspects have become inevitably intertwined with one another (Ramadan, 2009).
In a philosophical sense, Ramadan explains that both the Text and the universe reveal the order of things (he calls this the ‘how’ of things) in different ways - the former with its explicit or interpreted commandments, principles, and historical narrations, and the
latter with its discernible laws of nature (Ramadan, 2009, p.89). He writes: