Towards a Fiqh for Minorities by Taha Jabir Al-Alwani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A short read, the author is a bit incoherent as to how a fiqh of minorities is to be achieved. With almost total disregard for traditional “appeal to authority” approach, he throws the baby out with the bath water in suggesting a solely Quranic derivation of Islam for practice amongst Muslim minorities in the west. Given the context in which this was written, it may be a reactionary stance to what the author first encountered when he came to the West, a society so much unlike Arab ones that many (even the scholarly) see no choice but compromise or reformulation of Islamic law. This author chooses the later, but obviously falls into the former by doing so. By taking the author’s suggestions to their logical ends, one will not merely compromise traditional “fiqh” (not a problem in and of itself) but will eventually compromise on several universals that are the mainstay of substantive Islamic law.
All in all this is a good read for the genre, but the genre is so lacking in works on this subject that a lot remains lacking.
1 thought on “Review – Towards a Fiqh for Minorities”
You may want to try and reference the journals produced by the Fiqh council of Europe. There is much more to be said about aims and methods.
As for the text under review it is best read in Arabic. The critique waged against Dr. Taha Jabir (h) has nearly been one of lack of clarity of what constitutes method but to be fair one needs to read his other works to get an understanding of what he understands to be a sound method as he has entered the realm of ijtihad.
Imam Muhammad Abdu (r) before Dr. Taha Jabir too called for a re-examination of self, text and practice, for ijtihad. This is only natural in a changing world in fact it happens everyday in this century. So it may be safe to say that coming to the West is no longer a rationale for calling for ijtihad but rather advancements in knowledge, technology and changes in customs and practices are the rationale for seeing the need to engage the world and the reference texts of Islam.
…ijtihad in every age is fard -Imam Suyuti (r)
and any who claim that is not they stand to be refuted.
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