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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Harvard Muslim chaplain calls for death for apostates

For those of you who are wondering why American college campuses are turning so radically against Israel and Jews and America itself, you may want to consider the words of Harvard Islamic chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser, a 1996 Harvard College graduate.

There is a vibrant Muslim community at Harvard. They have a Muslim chaplain, employed by Harvard and loved and respected by Muslims all around Boston. His name is Taha Abdul-Basser. He gives Friday sermons, is invited to talks and to him local Muslims go when they need religious advice. Rarely does any one voice disagreement with him.

Recently, Muslim students as MIT had a disagreement on what Islam has to say on apostasy. Fortunately, some one from Harvard was able to get Brother Taha’s opinion on this. Enjoy.

assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah

here is Brother Taha’s response on apostasy. he also suggested contacting two other people and if they get back, inshaAllah i will fwd the responses.
Wa-`alaykum as-salam

Taha Abdul-Basser:


I am familiar with these types of discussions.

While I understand that will happen and that there is some benefit in them, in the main, it would be better if people were to withhold from _debating_ such things, since they tend not to have the requisite familiarity with issues and competence to deal with them.

Debating about religious matter is impermissible, in general, and people rarely observe the etiquette of disagreements.

There are a few places on the Net where one can find informed discussions of this issue (Search ["Abdul Hakim Murad"|Faraz Rabbani" AND "apostasy"]) . The preponderant position in all of the 4 sunni madhahib (and apparently others of the remaining eight according to one contemporary `alim) is that the verdict is capital punishment.

Of concern for us is that this can only occur in the_domain and under supervision of Muslim governmental authority and can not be performed by non-state, private actors._

Some contemporary thought leaders have emphasized the differing views (i.e. not capital punishment) that a few fuqaha’ in the last few centuries apparently held on this issue, including reportedly the senior Ottoman religious authority during the Tanzimat period and Al-Azhar in the modern period. Still others go further and attempt to elaborate on the argument that the indicants (such as the hadith: (whoever changes his religion, execute him) used to build the traditional position apply only to treason in the political sense [you mean like supporting Israel's right to exist? CiJ] and therefore in the absence of a political reality in which apostasy is both forsaking the community and akin to political treasons in the modern sense, the indicants do not indicate capital punishment.

I am not aware of `Allama Taqiy al-Din Ibn Taymiya’s position on this issue but much is attributed to him by both detractors and supporters so one should be wary of accepting things attributed to him without asking experts. Perhaps you can ask Ustadh Sharif el-Tobgui or Shaykh Yasir Qadhi (I am copying both), both of whom are Ibn Taymiya specialists.

I would finally note that there is great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand. The formal consideration of excuses for the accused and the absence of Muslim governmental authority in our case here in the North/West is for dealing with the issue practically.

And Allah knows best.

Wa s-salam.

Reassuringly, the Harvard Crimson reports that some students are upset with the chaplain's position on the issue and have called for him to be removed. Make that sort of reassuringly.
“I believe he doesn’t belong as the official chaplain,” said one Islamic student, who asked that he not be named to avoid conflicts with Muslim religious authorities. “If the Christian ministers said that people who converted from Christianity should be killed, don’t you think the University should do something?” [SEE CLARIFICATION BELOW]

According to the student, many of Abdul-Basser’s other views are “not in line with liberal values, such as notions of human rights. He privileges the medieval discourse of the Islamic jurists, and is not willing to exercise independent thought and judgment beyond a certain limit,” the student said.

Samad Khurram ’09-’10 said Abdul-Basser’s remarks conflicted with the Harvard United Ministry’s support of freedom of religion.

“I support free speech, freedom of belief and association, so this came as a big shock to me,” Khurram said.

“[His remarks] are the first step towards inciting intolerance and inciting people towards violence,” said a Muslim Harvard student, who requested that he not be named for fear of harming his relationship with the Islamic community.

Aqil Sajjad, a Harvard graduate student, also said that Abdul-Basser’s statements were “totally wrong, definitely out of line for somebody in that position. I wouldn’t go and seek religious advice from one who is saying this.”

A Muslim student at MIT, who also asked to remain anonymous to preserve his relationship with the Islamic community, said the chaplain’s remarks wrongly suggested that only Westerners and Westernized Muslims who did not fully understand Islam would find the killing of apostates objectionable.

“If what he said was what I thought, then it is very shocking and not something that I would expect or want coming out of a chaplain at any major American university,” he said.
Oh and that clarification....
CLARIFICATION: The April 14 article "Chaplain's E-mail Sparks Controversy" included a quotation from a named Harvard student, who was later granted anonymity when he revealed that his words could bring him into serious conflict with Muslim religious authorities.
How reassuring.

By the way, the comments on this story at the Crimson are fascinating.

Before you send your kids to an Ivy League school (and yes, I went to one) in 2009, please consider the potential consequences.


There's more about Abdul-Basser from commenter Last Mohican at Little Green Footballs here.


At 6:12 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The point is Islam values "submission." Not free thought or co-existence with the infidels. It hasn't changed its value system since the 8th Century. Why any one would think a Muslim chaplain like Taha Abdul-Basser would preach anything else is beyond me. What we value dearly in the West is foreign to the Islamic mind.


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