03/31/2005, 00.00
Send to a friend

Tariq Ramadan appeals to Muslim countries to abolish death penalty and corporal punishment

The Muslim intellectual wants to mobilise Muslims against the unjust application of Islamic penalties and their political use by governments.

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tariq Ramadan, a well-known Muslim intellectual and grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, has called for an immediate moratorium on the application of hudûd (prescribed Islamic penalties) such as corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in all majority Muslim countries in order to mobilise Muslims and ulamâ against their unjust application and political use by governments.

According to Ramadan, the campaign is designed to put pressure on Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, which still apply such penalties.

"Several currents of thought exist in the Islamic world today and disagreements are numerous, deep and recurring," he writes. "Among these, a small minority demands the immediate and strict application of hudûd, assessing this as an essential prerequisite to truly defining a 'Muslim majority society' as 'Islamic'. Others, while accepting the fact that the hudûd are indeed found in the textual references (the Qur'an and the Sunna, consider the application of hudûd to be conditional upon the state of the society which must be just and, for some, has to be 'ideal' before these injunctions could be applied. Thus, the priority is the promotion of social justice, fighting against poverty and illiteracy etc. Finally, there are others, also a minority, who consider the texts relating to hudûd as obsolete and argue that these references have no place in contemporary Muslim societies."

In terms of the different interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunna, Ramadan says: "The majority of the ulamâ', historically and today, are of the opinion that these penalties are on the whole Islamic but that the conditions under which they should be implemented are nearly impossible to re-establish. These penalties, therefore, are 'almost never applicable'. The hudûd would, therefore, serve as a 'deterrent', the objective of which would be to stir the conscience of the believer to the gravity of an action warranting such a punishment."

He goes on to say that "[o]ne sees today that communities or Muslim people satisfy themselves with this type of legitimacy to back a government or a party that calls for an application of the sharî'a narrowly understood as a literal and immediate application of corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty."

"When this type of popular passion takes hold," he adds, "it is the first sign of a will to respond to various forms of frustration and humiliation by asserting an identity that perceives itself as Islamic (and anti-Western). Such an identity is not based on the comprehension of the objectives of the Islamic teachings (al maqâsid) or the different interpretations and conditions relating to the application of the hudûd."

In fact, when "[f]aced with this passion, many ulamâ' remain prudent for the fear of losing their credibility with the masses. One can observe a psychological pressure exercised by this popular sentiment towards the judicial process of the ulamâ', which normally should be independent so as to educate the population and propose alternatives. Today, an inverse phenomenon is revealing itself. The majority of the ulamâ' are afraid to confront these popular and simplistic claims, which lack knowledge [and] are passionate and binary, for fear of losing their status and being defined as having compromised too much, not been strict enough, too westernized or not Islamic enough."

Finally, according to Ramadan, the result is that "we can observe a crisis of authority accompanied by an absence of internal debate among the ulamâ' in the diverse schools of thought and within Muslim societies."

Tariq Ramadan, 42, is French literature expert and holds two PhD, one in Islamic studies and the other in philosophy (dissertation on Friedrich Nietzsche). He currently teaches at the universities of Geneva and Fribourg in Switzerland. He is the author To Be a European Muslim published in 1999 and translated in 14 languages.


To know more about Tariq Ramadan's appeal, check out his website at http://www.tariqramadan.com

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Three Indonesian Catholics executed by firing squad
Malaysia towards the abolition of the death penalty
03/04/2023 17:31
Life is God's gift, says Orthodox Christian woman fighting the death penalty
Gus Dur urges President Susilo to intervene in Poso
Christians and Muslims in Sulawesi demand an independent inquiry into past violence


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”