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What about My Jewish Sweetheart? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This time the title of my article was suggested to me by colleague Abdul Rahman Rashid. I do not know if what he meant was a proposal to revive “normalization [of relations]” with Israel which is something that has failed, or whether what he meant is that a Jewish wife [of a Muslim] has the right to love and cordiality as an adherent of an Abrahamic faith and in accordance with the Quranic verse “And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect” [Surat Ar-Room; Verse 21]. This is precisely what I meant in my previous article “I Love My Christian Wife…How Could They Tell Me to Hate Her?” [19/02/2010]. This article created a heated and occasionally fierce debate on the internet, particularly on the internet group of Saudi journalist Dr. Abdulaziz al-Qassim.

Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal [founder of the Hanbali school of Fiqh] would turn his face away if any Christian looked at him, when asked why, he answered “I cannot look at anyone who lies about and slanders God.” On the other hand Imam Malik ibn Anas [founder of the Maliki school of Fiqh] said that it was permissible for a Muslim to share a meal with a Christian. This is a clear example of the huge gap in the different understandings and diverse opinions that Muslim Imams have on this subject. The above represent two opinions of the great Muslim Imams [founders of Islamic schools of Fiqh] and I would like to stress here that when I called for people to take a second look at certain texts, it was certainly not my intention to contravene Islamic doctrine or contest firmly established religious principles that scholars have mutually agreed upon.

The principle of not loving those who resist and make war on Allah and his Messenger [pbuh] is a “firmly established” Islamic principle. However scholars disagree over whether this applies to peaceful Jews, Christians, and others, or whether believers should hate all non-believers regardless of how peaceful they are, whether this is a wife, a neighbor or a colleague. This issue is considered to be a “contentious” issue and clerics have adopted different opinions with regards to this recently as well as throughout the past. It is therefore unworthy for any scholar or seeker of knowledge to describe anybody who adopts either of these two opinions as being confused or capricious or influenced by the West or having a loose doctrine or responding to pressure; they should not consider them to be sinners or wrongdoers in need of correction. Similarly, those who follow the permissive option [of Imam Malik] should not label those who adhere to their own contrasting doctrine as hardliners or extremists.

Unfortunately I have noticed that in a few cases there is no “direct proportion” between scholarly knowledge and understanding the opinions of others, and this is being blamed on scholars and writers. To be more precise, there has been a tendency for dialogue and discussion to use phrases and words that stifle the open climate of dialogue, such as the descriptions I mentioned above. It is impossible to probe the depths of the soul when ultimately only God can see this, and therefore instead these scholars and writers should rely upon evidence and proof. Let us look at an example of an old and ongoing dispute, namely the issue of whether a woman should veil her face. For example, somebody who believes that it is not allowed for a woman to uncover her face described a scholar who takes the opposing opinion as a “promoter of unveiling” while this scholar described the original commenter as being “Taliban-like” and submitting to customs and traditions that belong to his country [but not Islam]. This backward dialogue puts an end to any cultured or scholarly debate.

The opinions that I am inclined towards with regards to the issue of whether it is permissible to love a peaceful non-Muslim who does not resist Allah or the Prophet [pbuh] are based upon the Quranic verse “Surely you cannot guide whom you love” [Surat al-Qasas; Verse 56] as well as upon the interpretations and texts provided by a number of scholars and thinkers such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Dr. Jaafar Sheikh Idris, Sheikh al-Dado, Sheikh Lutfullah Khoujah, Sheikh Sueliman al-Majed, and many others. In the end, nobody can be certain who is right and who is wrong; only God can know.