From TV Evangelist Wannabe To A Muslim

Several newspapers and online news portals are quoting a National Enquirer report claiming that prisoner O J Simpson, who aspired to be a TV evangelist last year, is now studying the Quran with the view to becoming a Muslim.  And the person helping him in this conversion process is none other than the former boxing pro Mike Tyson.

About O J Simpson

Remember 67-year old O J Simpson?  If you don’t, here is what Wikipedia says about him:

Orenthal James “O J” Simpson (born July 9, 1947), also nicknamed “The Juice”, is a retired American football player, broadcaster, actor and convicted felon currently incarcerated in Nevada. Simpson was the first professional football player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, a mark he set in 1973. While six other players have passed the 2,000-rush yard mark, he stands alone as the only player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a 14-game season (professional football changed to a 16-game season in 1978). He holds the record for the single season yards-per-game average, which stands at 143.1 ypg. Simpson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

After retiring from professional football, Simpson had a career as a football broadcaster and actor.

In 1995, he was acquitted of the 1994 murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman after a lengthy and internationally publicized criminal trial, the People v. Simpson. In 1997, a civil court awarded a judgment against Simpson for their wrongful deaths; as of 2007 he has paid little of the $33.5 million judgment.

In September 2007, Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada, and charged with numerous felonies, including armed robbery and kidnapping. In 2008, he was found guilty and sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment, with a minimum of nine years without parole. He is serving his sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada.

TV Evangelist Wannabe

Norman Pardo, O J Simpson’s manager, told the National Enquirer last year that his client found God in prison.  In fact, O J Simpson reportedly began ministering to other inmates.  And he had plans to become a TV evangelist.

According to an unnamed source inside the prison, “O J really thought that he was going to be successful in a bid for a new trial and eventually be released from prison”.  But such hope was quickly dashed as his appeal was unsuccessful.  As the unnamed insider puts it: “But now he’s not eligible for parole until late 2017, which has angered him”.

With that development, O J Simpson has turned from Christianity to Islam, trading his Bible for the Quran. O J Simpson reportedly became interested in Islam through fellow inmates.  And following his interest in Islam, O J Simpson was introduced to former pro boxer Mike Tyson, who is himself a devout Muslim.

Muslim Wannabe

According to informed sources, O J Simpson is studying the Quran, and he occasionally wears the traditional Muslim Kufi prayer cap.  However, during the recent holy month of Ramadan, O J Simpson struggled with the fast.  As one source puts it: “O J didn’t quite make it through the entire fasting process. He cheated during the day, and bought snacks from the prison canteen. But he’s really serious about converting to Islam. O J even made himself a prayer rug for his prison cell. He really likes the idea that upon converting to Islam, all of his previous sins are forgiven. O J has a lot to be forgiven for”.

Think About It

What made an apparently successful sportsman, broadcaster and actor like O J Simpson turn into a life of crime?  Having found God last year and become an evangelist of sort in prison, what made him reject his Christian faith and turn to Islam?  Has it got anything to do with the failure to get a retrial with the hope of early release from prison? If in the future he faces another failure in life, will he also walk away from Islam?  Can he?

Reports Of Muslim Leaders Condemning The Islamic State

The atrocities carried out by the Islamic State (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL]) have led to their widespread condemnation. The recent cold-blooded killing of the American journalist Joe Foley has prompted an outpouring of such condemnations. What is striking is that now the reports are of condemnations not only from western leaders, but also from Muslim ones. Are the condemnations by Muslim leaders likely to change thinking among the militant Muslims?

Condemnations From Muslim Leaders

Susilo Bambang Yudhonyono, outgoing President of Indonesia, which is home to the world’s largest Muslim population of 225 million, called the actions of the Islamic Sate “embarrassing”  and “humiliating” to Islam and urged Islamic leaders to unite in tackling extremism. He added that his government has taken decisive steps to curtail the spread of ISIS in Indonesia.

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, said that “Extremism and militant ideas and terrorism which spread decay on Earth, destroying human civilisation, are not in any part of Islam but are enemy number one of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims”. The report of the mufti’s comments explained that Saudi Arabia follows the ultra conservative Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam but sees Islamist militants, who staged attacks in the kingdom last decade, as posing a threat to its own stability. It went on to say that “Although senior Wahhabi clerics endorse execution by beheading of offences that include apostasy, adultery and sorcery, oppose women driving or working and describe Shi’ites as heretics, they differ from al Qaeda and Islamic State militants in opposing violent  revolt”.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council produced a video in which several Muslim leaders each  condemned the actions of militant Muslims. And an article in Global Research (www.globalresearch.ca) drew together condemnations of ISIS from Muslim leaders worldwide. The comments included those from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Muslim Council  of Great Britain, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as well as from many other Muslim organizations and individuals. Generally all denounce the actions of ISIS as being morally repugnant and not being in accordance with the mainstream teachings of Islam.

Weakness Of Condemnations

What the comments do not address is the basis on which the militants justify their actions. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch points out this is because they can’t – that it is because there is basis in the Quran for such actions. The comments by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia support what Robert Spencer says.

Think About It

Without addressing the basis on which the militants justify their actions, can condemnations of these actions have any effect on the behaviour of the militants? Why do the Muslim leaders not address the basis of the militants’ actions? Is it because the Quran supports those actions?

Targeting Illegal Fatwa Issuers

On Wednesday August 20, 2014 the Jordanian  government endorsed the 2014 amendments to the Issuance of Religious Edicts Law (Iftaa). Unauthorized fatwa issuers who issue fatwas on public matters or even those who question fatwas issued by the Council of Iftaa, Research and Islamic Studies can be imprisoned for a period of up to three months and a fine of up to JD 1,500 ($2,116).

Who Qualifies?

A fatwa is the legal opinion or interpretation that a qualified person can give regarding issues related to Islam. It must usually meet certain conditions to be valid, including being issued by a person or board having due knowledge and sincerity of heart and he must have obtained a ijazat attadris wa’l-ifta (licence to teach and issue legal opinions) from a Madrasah (Islamic institution).

Why The Need To Qualify?

The government made these amendments because of the danger that is caused to society and to Islamic law by fatwas issued by such non-qualified persons. His Majesty King Abdullah urged scholars from 43 countries to stand up against fatwas issued by unauthorised persons and takfiri ideology (the tendency of some extremists to label Muslims as infidels for difference in opinion), saying “If there are those among us who declare the adherents of any madhahib [school of jurisprudence] an apostate, or who dare to issue fatwas without being qualified or who do not respect the sanctity of Muslim blood, honour and property, then there should be those who stand up to all these matters that fracture the nation and abuse our faith”.

Think About It

Is this new law helpful or is it a hindrance to the Islamic faith? Are individual opinions being oppressed? Or does this law prevent incorrect teachings and interpretations from being made? Shouldn’t individuals be allowed to make interpretations on issues relating to their faith or is Islam a blind faith where followers are not allowed to make their own interpretations of issues? And is it really necessary to make it punishable by law if someone comes up with their own interpretation?

The 2014 Crescentrating Survey

Early this year, Singapore-based Crescentrating Pte Ltd, which pioneers halal travel, released its 2014 most halal friendly Muslim destinations. It shows Malaysia heading the list of most halal friendly Muslim countries for Muslim travellers.  Singapore found itself ranked as top non-Muslim country for Muslim travellers.  The 2014 Crescentrating survey covers 60 countries.

The Most Friendly Muslim Countries For Muslim Travellers

According to the 2014 Crescentrating survey, the top Muslim countries for Muslim travellers are:

1 Malaysia
2 United Arab Emirates
3 Turkey
4 Indonesia
5 Saudi Arabia
6 Morocco
7 Jordan
8 Qatar
9 Tunisia
10 Egypt

These Muslim countries were ranked based on their attentiveness to the needs of Muslim travellers.  Such needs include the presence and accessibility of halal restaurants with meat slaughtered to Islamic standards, and the provision of prayer rooms at airports, shopping malls and hotels.

Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive officer of Crescentrating said: “An increasing number of destinations are now keen on tapping into this segment and adapting their services to take into account the unique faith-based needs of Muslim travellers”.

Malaysia – Top Muslim Destination

Referring to Malaysia’s status as the top Muslim destination for Muslim travellers, Fazal Bahardeen said that Malaysia’s Islamic Tourism Centre has “continued to educate the industry on how to cater to the Muslim travellers”.  There are now more and more hotel kitchens with halal certification, an increasing number of hotels are also now catering to the specific needs of Muslim travellers.

Global Market

Explaining the importance of the Muslim halal travel market, Fazal Bahardeen said the market is worth S$140 billion (US$112 billion) last year, or 13% of the global total travel market.

By 2020 the Muslim halal market is expected to rise to S$200 billion (US$160 billion).  Many non-Muslim countries have taken note of this growing market.  According to the 2014 Crescentrating survey, the top non- Muslim countries for Muslim travellers are:

1  Singapore
2 South Africa
3 Thailand
4 United Kingdom
5 Bosnia & Herzegovina
6 India
7 Hong Kong
8 Germany
9 Australia
10 Tanzania

Japan came in 40th place, up from 50th place last year.  It came in for special mention by Fazal Bahardeen as the most improved non-Muslim country in the halal travel segment: “Japan has definitely been the most active destination during the last year to focus on this segment of travellers.  It has launched a number of initiatives – from awareness programmes to the local industry to releasing the Muslim travel guide to Japan”. Fazal Bahardeen added that some Japanese airports and hotels have started offering halal food and prayer rooms.

Think About It

How accurate is the finding of the Crescentrating survey? How easy is it for a non-Muslim country to become a halal friendly destination for Muslims? If all it takes to become one are halal certified restaurants offering halal food and hotels and airports having prayer rooms, then it is quite simple.  Should additional criteria be added to future surveys?  If so, what?

Previous post

Of Halal Food And Vegetarians

Déjà Vu?

Whether the Roman Catholic Church can succeed in getting the Federal Court to review its own 4-3 majority ruling to deny the church from proceeding with its appeal against the Court of Appeal’s ruling banning its weekly publication, The Herald, from using “Allah” in its Bahasa section is still not known.  But whether the Roman Catholic Church succeeds or not, the Allah controversy continues in another court involving Jill Ireland. And if she succeeds in her appeal, it is likely that the whole argument on the Allah controversy will play out again.

About Jill Ireland’s Case

The case started on May 11, 2008 at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang when customs officers seized 8 Christian CDs from 33-year old Jill Ireland binti Lawrence Bill, a Malay speaking Sarawakian Bumiputera Christian of Melanau ethnicity.  Her legal status is that of a native of Sarawak, and under both the state and Federal Constitutions, Jill Ireland enjoys the same special position and protection as Malays and other natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

On that day, Jill Ireland was on her way back from Indonesia to Sarawak, transiting at Kuala Lumpur. She had bought the 8 Christian CDs from Indonesia for her personal use. But customs superintendent, Suzana Muin noticed that the CDs bore titles with the word “Allah” on them, such as “Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah”, “Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah” and “Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah”. Suzana Muin then decided to confiscate these 8 CDs.  This is despite the fact that Jill Ireland is a Christian from Sarawak where God is referred to as Allah for many years, even dating back to before the formation of Malaysia, and that she was merely transiting.

In August 2008, Jill Ireland filed for a judicial review of seizure of her CDs, asking for the return of these CDs and a declaration that she has the right to use “Allah” and to continue to own and import such materials.

The Verdict

On July 21, 2014 the Kuala Lumpur High Court ordered the home ministry to release the 8 seized CDS for return to Jill Ireland.  Judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof ruled that it was wrong of the custom officer to confiscated the CDs because only a minister can order such action.  She said: “It is clear that a senior authorized officer can only withhold a publication, pending the decision of the minister”.

Responding to this, the Malaysian government filed an appeal against this High Court ruling.

Jill Ireland has also filed her appeal. In her grounds for appeal, Jill Ireland argues that:

- High Court Judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof did not set a time frame for the home ministry to return the CDs to her;
- The judge also did not rule on the constitutional issue of whether Christians can use the word “Allah” in their worship;
- The judge failed to rule on whether Jill Ireland has the constitutional right to import publication materials related to the practice of Christianity.

Annou Xavier, the lawyer acting for Jill Ireland in the appeal said: “She intends to pursue her rights for freedom of religion, right to use the Allah word in her prayers and education, her right and the right of the Christian community to use, import, own and distribute Christian publications with the word Allah for the Bahasa Malaysia speaking community of Malaysia”.

Think About It

Why didn’t the High Court Judge rule on any of the other issues that Jill Ireland sought relief for?  Why only ruled on the return of the CDs and leave the other issues hanging?  By doing so, it is like inviting Jill Ireland to file an appeal, and let a higher court decide on those issues.  In the light of The Herald case, what will be the likely outcome of Jill Ireland’s appeal?

Previous posts

Allah Ruling – Now Minister Says Roman Catholic Church Should Not Have Been Banned From Using The Allah Word
Malaysia – Second Allah Ruling Soon, Déjà Vu?
Allah OK For East Malaysian Christians Only
Malaysia – “No” To Christian Allah

Perlis Mufti’s Call

The homecoming of the first batch of Malaysian victims of MH17 brought about a national mourning but Perlis State decided to skip the nationwide minute’s silence as a mark of respect to the victims.  And the decision maker is none other than the Mufti of Perlis.  The mufti cited 2 fatwas to explain why Perlis is not observing the traditional minute’s silence.

Old Fatwas

Prior to the arrival of the coffins and urns containing the remains of the Malaysian victims of MH17, the Malaysian government declared a national mourning, with flags at half masts, and a minute’s silence to be observed nationwide.

Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya vetoed the idea of Perlis observing the national day of mourning.  Explaining this move, Perlis deputy mufti Roslan Esa recently sent a letter to State Secretary Romli Dai in which he explained that Mufti Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya based his decision on 2 old fatwas.

The letter said: “In a Perlis Fatwa Committee meeting on August 21, 2014, the mufti was notified and explained that the tafakur programme suggested by the federal government cannot be held in this state”. “Tafakur” is Malay for “meditation”.  The national mourning includes observing a minute’s silence.

The letter cited a national fatwa in 1987 and a Perlis fatwa in 1974 to justify the stand taken by the Mufti of Perlis

The 1987 Fatwa

In October 1987, a national fatwa was issued prohibiting, inter-alia, the observance of a minute’s silence during Warrior Day.  The reason given for that fatwa was that doing so is akin to idolatry, and the action is contradictory to Islamic teachings.

The 1974 Fatwa

The 1974 Perlis fatwa is believed to be the fatwa issued in October that year.  That fatwa prohibited the recital of prayers in monuments for the same reason of idolatry and contradictory Islamic teachings.

Perlis State Legislative Assembly

But a day earlier, the Perlis State Legislative Assembly passed a special motion condemning the shooting down of Malaysia Airline Flight MH17 over East Ukraine by a missile on July 17 this year with 298 passengers and crew onboard.

Interestingly the Perlis State Legislative Assembly then recited the Al-fatihah prayer followed by the observance of a minute of silence for the victims.

Think About It

Can a fatwa or two justify any state government going against the directive of the Federal government?  How is the Federal government going to deal with the Perlis state government over this? Why is it that the other state muftis didn’t object to a time of national mourning, including the observance of a minute’s silence?  Who is right – the Mufti of Perlis or the other state muftis?

Allah Controversy Continues

Last June, by a 4-3 majority decision, the Federal Court rejected an application by the Roman Catholic Church for a review of the Court of Appeal’s ruling to ban the word “Allah” in the Bahasa section of its weekly publication, The Herald.  The Court of Appeal had earlier overturned a High Court’s ruling that “Allah” is not exclusive to Islam, and that The Herald can continue to use “Allah” in its Bahasa section.  Usually the decision of the Federal Court, being the apex court, is final.  But now the Roman Catholic Church is about to take the unusual step of asking the Federal Court to review its own majority ruling.  And so the Allah controversy continues.

Reasons For Review

An unnamed lawyer acting for the Roman Catholic Church said the church’s review application may be lodged early next week, and that the church will be seeking a new bench to rehear the leave application.  Explaining the reasons for the new application, the lawyer said: “We are compelled to file this application due to serious errors of law in the majority judgment”.

The lawyer added: “The court papers are ready and we are waiting for the church authority to sign affidavits in support of the review”.  The church is relying on Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995 wherein a review application is allowed to prevent injustice or abuse of court process.

The Verdict Under Appeal

The 4 judges who gave the majority verdict are Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, president of Court of Appeal Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin and Federal Court judge Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar. They said that the Court of Appeal was right in its ruling. Among other reasons, the Court of Appeal said that the Muslim Allah is one whereas the Christian God is a trinity, so the use of “Allah” by  Christian is confusing and can mislead even Christians.

The 3 judges who gave the minority verdict are Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, and Federal Court judges Datuk Zainun Ali and Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Hwa.  They noted that The Herald has been publishing for 14 years before the ban on “Allah” was imposed. Tan Sri Richard Malanjum commented: “There was also no evidence of prejudice to public order during that period and that the use of the word was also not prohibited in other publications like the Alkitab and the Sikh holy book.” Tan Sri Richard Malanjum also said that  although the case only involved the Bahasa section of The Herald, yet the Court of Appeal ruling seemed to sanction a sweeping, general prohibition against the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims in all forms, on all occasions. He also noted that the word “Allah” has been widely used in Sabah and Sarawak.

The Court Of Appeal Ruling

In October last year, Court of Appeal judge Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali who chaired the bench said: “It is our common finding that the name ‘Allah’ was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice”.

Reactions

Some time back, Joshua Neoh, a law lecturer from the Australian National University speaking at an academic seminar on “The Name of God on Trial: Narratives of Law, Religion and State in Malaysia” said: “All decisions could be revisited and challenged judicially, the losing side in a judicial battle can always live to fight another day. That is the very nature of Constitutional interpretation”.

Commenting on the oft repeated statement that the use of “Allah” by non-muslims is confusing to Muslims and Christians, Joshua Neoh said: “It is an argument we have heard over and over again but Justice Zawawi Salleh went further and said that if Allah is used by Christians, the confusion was not limited to Muslims, but Christians would also be confused. This ‘potential for confusion’ is akin to the following scenario: if I call my father Papa, and you call your father Papa, there is a risk that you will be confused that my Papa is your Papa, and your Papa is my Papa, or that we have the same Papa”.

Think About It

Will the Federal Court agree to review its own decision?  Can the church prove that there are “serious errors of law in the majority judgment”?  Or is this appeal doomed to failure?

Previous posts

Malaysia – Prominent American Muslim Theologian Laughing At Allah Ban
Malaysia – The Judgement Of The Dissenting Judges In Allah Case
Malaysia – Reactions Following Allah Ruling By Federal Court
Malaysian Appeals Court’s Ruling On Allah Issue Raises Concerns
Malaysia – Judge Rules Allah Name Not Exclusive To Islam

Decision Made On Fate Of Zumba Carnival

The Zumba carnival planned for Penang’s Merdeka (Independence) Day celebrations this year will not be scrapped after all, despite a call by a Malay-rights non-governmental organization (NGO) for the event to be cancelled. The decision to allow the event to go ahead was announced at by Penang’s Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon, at a press conference. He had been criticised by that NGO, Persatuan Mukabuku Pulau Pinang, for endorsing the event by allowing his photograph to be used in a banner promoting the carnival due to be held on Aug 31.

Call For Ban On Zumba Carnival

Persatuan Mukabuku Pulau Pinang had demanded the ban on grounds that the Fatwa Council in another Malaysian state, Sabah, had issued an edict banning zumba. Persatuan Mukabutu Pulau Pinang had also objected to the upbeat music that accompanies the dance and to some of the movements, which it considered go against Islamic teachings.

Why No Ban On Zumba Carnival

Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon had responded to the call for the ban and to the criticism of himself by saying that he would look into the matter. After consulting the Penang mufti and showing him a clip of a zumba exercise, he was told by the mufti that there is nothing wrong for Muslims to participate in such exercise as long as they are properly attired and covered up. The mufti also confirmed that there was no fatwa in Penang against zumba.

Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon dismissed Persatuan Mukabuku Pulau Pinang’s objections as baseless. Referring to the zumba movements, he said “…it can be controlled but if some has bad intentions, no matter what is the movement in any exercise, it will still be misconstrued as being inappropriate”. He also said that if there were objections to women and men doing the zumba together at the carnival, then the press conference at which he was speaking was also wrong since there were men and women sitting together there. “We are living in a society and it’s a group exercise in public with no hand holding or touching, so there is nothing wrong with that”, he explained.

He also explained that he had endorsed the Merdeka Zumba Carnival because the event was intended to promote a healthy and active lifestyle. It was also because the event would have helped to cultivate closer ties within the community.

Think About It

How will Muslims in Malaysia view Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon’s decision not to ban the carnival? Will they see it as a reasonable one that is in line with Islamic principles, or will they see him as a traitor to Islam? Will other Muslim leaders who hold the same views as Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon and the Penang mufti speak out against baseless demands by Muslim groups? How will the fatwa against zumba in Sabah be viewed now?

Previous post

Call For Zumba Event In Penang, Malaysia, To Be Banned

Police Investigations

A daycare nursery in south London has been swamped with racial and religious abuse, and even bomb threats, after allegations went viral about how a little girl at the nursery was denied her packed lunch because the staff did not know whether it was halal. The police are now investigating the allegations and the threats to the daycare center.

The Incident

5-year-old Amari Jackson attended the first day of a summer play scheme at the Kingswood Daycare Nursery in Mitcham, a district in the borough of Merton in the south west area of Greater London. She brought with her a packed lunch, as instructed by Merton Council. Her lunch box contained a chicken salad sandwich, houmus, carrots, and a chocolate bar. However, when her mother Yasmin Jackson arrived to collect Amari in the afternoon, the girl said “Mummy, I’m really hungry, can I have my lunch now?”

According to Yasmin Jackson, when she asked the nursery manager why her daughter had been denied her lunch, the manager said that the nursery didn’t know whether the lunch was healthy, that the girl should not have brought a packed lunch since lunch was provided at the nursery, and that non-halal meat was not allowed in the nursery. So Amari was given some spaghetti and an apple.

Angered by what she was told, Yasmin Jackson posted the story on Facebook, which was shared by friends and went viral.

Manager’s Response

Interviewed by the Daily Mail, Afsheen Siddik, the nursery manager has denied the allegations, and said that she had informed Ofsted (the official body in the UK for inspecting schools) and the police, who are now investigating the matter. She would not comment on the nursery’s packed-lunch policy.

Think About It

For now there are conflicting reports about what happened, with the nursery manager denying Yasmin Jackson’s version of events. The Daily Mail showed a picture of Yasmin Jackson holding up a document from Merton Council, so perhaps there were instructions for children to bring their packed lunch. Is it correct for staff of a government nursery (presumably secular) to judge what the children should eat and to deny them their food on grounds that it may not be halal? What will Ofsted and the police discover?

Voyeurism Is Fine

Another cleric has issued another fatwa bordering on the lunatic.  This time an Egyptian preacher, who is a doctor by profession, has issued a fatwa allowing Muslim men to watch a woman showering.  Critics say this Peeping Tom fatwa encourages voyeurism and are critical of it.

The Fatwa

Egyptian preacher Usama al Qawsi recently issued the now infamous fatwa, saying: “A man is entitled to see a woman shower (before they marry), if he chooses her to be his future wife”. He can “hide” while secreting watching her shower. And what is the purpose of doing this?  Usama al Qawsi said: “Peeping aims at knowing if the woman suits you as a wife and if she has an acceptable body and beauty”.

But then again, why issue such a fatwa?  Usama al Qawsi  has a ready answer – because the Quran says so.  In a video recording, Usama al Qawsi said: “If you were really honest and wanted to marry that woman, and you were able to hide and watch her in secret, see the things that she wouldn’t usually let you see before marrying her, then it is acceptable as long as your intentions are pure”.

Usama al Qawsi then referred to the Quran, saying: “One of the Prophet’s companions did that. Some disapproved and told him: ‘How do you do that when you’re one of the Prophet’s companions?’ The Prophet answered: ‘If you can see something that would make you want to marry her then go ahead and do it”.

Reaction

Mohammed Mukhtar, Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments, said: “This is what we say to him and the likes of him, where is the glory and masculinity in watching a woman shower? Would you allow this to happen to your daughter? If it was OK with you then it isn’t with the conservative, civilized Muslim and Christian societies – they disapprove of it. Besides, Islam preaches that modesty should be in our nature and all religions concur.”  Mohammed Mukhtar then dismissed this fatwa as nonsense.

Mohammed Mukhtar added: “Moreover, the Islamic Sharia confirms that decency is a basic rule in all heavenly faiths”.

Fatwa Recanted

Usama al Qawsi reacted to these criticisms by recanting that fatwa.  He said he first issued it 10 years ago.  He said: “I announced this and other odd fatwas in the past when I embraced erroneous and extremist ideas. Now I have revised and abandoned all those fatwas”.

Think About It

This fatwa allows Muslim men to hide and watch women taking showers.  If they are caught, all the guilty men need to do is to claim that the women watched secretly by them are their potential future wives and that their intentions are pure.  But after watching (inspecting to be more precise) the women, the men can simply walk away to watch another woman.  Is this fair?  And how is “pure intention” defined or measured? By withdrawing old fatwas and admitting his errors, Usama al Qawsi has called into question old fatwas issued by other clerics.  Can these also be invalidated or withdrawn?  Will others follow his example?