MUSLIM scholar Sheiykh Allama Moalana Shahid Raza Naeemi OBE recently offered Reporter Series readers the chance to ask him any questions they had about Islam and its culture.
While visiting to our offices, the chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board answered as many of your questions as possible. Here, we share more of his responses.
Is is true that under Sharia law, a man who converts from Islam to Christianity must receive the death sentence after which his wife and children become the possessions of his family?
“First of all, I’d like to say that Muslims are not seeking the introduction of all the aspects of the Sharia law, particularly the criminal law aspects, in the UK. This is not a Muslim country and we’re not seeking to change or convert this country into one.
“However, Sharia law says that if a Muslim changes their religion it is treason and the punishment for treason is death. It’s interpreted as treason because in Muslim countries the law of the land is Sharia law, although at the moment there is not one single country in the world which has full Sharia law implemented as civil law.
“Here in this country that punishment is not being demanded or considered at all. If a Muslim takes the law into his or her own hand in this country and gives this punishment it will not be acceptable to the Muslim community in this country.
“I should also add that the children and wife of the person who converted from Islam would remain as free respected members of society.”
Would the Prophet Mohammed be against people killing non-Muslim civilians just because they are non-Muslims or because British armed forces in their country have invaded a Muslim country?
“Of course, the Prophet Mohammed would be totally against such murders and those who are killing non-Muslim civilians who are innocent just because they are non-Muslim. It’s not compatible with Islamic teachings at all.
“The Qur’an categorically states that if anyone has killed any person, it is just as if he has killed the whole of mankind. This is the very message Prophet Mohammed brought to the world so I don’t know how someone could expect him to condone it.”
If a Muslim suspects a fellow Muslim of being involved in terrorist activities, should they tell the authorities or simply try to dissuade them from such activity?
“I would leave it to the judgement of that particular individual who discovers such a person involved in terrorism or extremism to see whether the level of activity is so dangerous that it should be reported or whether it’s less dangerous and should be handled within the community.
“Returning to the verse in my previous answer, it says that if anyone saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind. As a Muslim it is your responsibility to save a life. It’s not for you to say somebody is being killed, I don’t care.
“Perhaps if I happened to see some extremist activities, I wouldn’t report it for the sake of my Mosque, family or job, but I will do everything possible for the sake of my faith.
“Saving a life is your duty. You have to answer that duty in which way you deem it possible and wise.”
If someone who says they are Muslim believes it is right to kill British civilians because they are non-Muslim, are they truly a Muslim?
“Such a person would definitely be considered as someone who’s misinterpreting and abusing the Islamic law and damaging and undermining the credibility of the law and the community.
“Such people should not be accepted. They should be identified and excluded in every possible way and the Muslim community has condemned all such activities.”
Is the long-term aim of Imams to work towards Britain becoming an Islamic state and under Sharia law? It that your hope?
“We have no such plans. Muslim families have migrated here for economic, family and political reasons. These are the main reasons of Muslim migration to this part of the world.
“They are here because this is a country where justice, education, medical care, peace and prosperity is available to them. They love this country.”
According to Sharia law, what would be the maximum punishment for people who commit crimes like theft or adultery?
“There are very rigorous laws to prove these crimes. Chopping off hands for theft and capital punishment for infidelity are well known articles of the criminal law of Islam but again we can’t impose those laws in this country.
“I feel very strongly that in order to live in this country like good members, perhaps we need to understand that we shouldn’t try to bring things from other countries here.
“Accusing Muslims of things happening in other countries is not a healthy thing. Let’s concentrate on what’s happening in this country and society. Our concern is not a village in Sudan or a city in Saudi Arabia. Muslims in this country are not going to chops hands or stone anybody to death.”
If Britain were to become an Islamic state, would our democratic voting system and parliamentary practices as we know them cease to exist?
“Even if Britain became a Muslim country after 500 years, those who would be running the country would be educated in this country. They would have democracy in their blood.
“If ever this country became a Muslim country, it would be led by British citizens who would have lived in this country for hundreds of years and they would have accepted those parliamentary and democratic practices and voting.
“Muslims here have started now to distrust influence from other Muslim countries. We want to live as part of British society and not be dictated to by any other foreign Muslim country.”
Is compassion and love really at the heart of Muslim teaching?
“I think that love and compassion is the most important command of Islam. It holds the maximum emphasis on loving the creation of God and being compassionate to all things created by the Creator, not just people.
“We are told that if a Muslim provides water to a dog, he is going to be rewarded with a place in heaven. You can imagine how important it is for a true, practising Muslim to love neighbours, family members, everyone. You can’t imagine Islam without love or compassion.”
Do we all share the same God?
“I very much believe that there is only one God. Jews, Christians and Muslims have always believed in that one God. Whether it is the God of love or of justice, it’s all the same God.
“The God of Jews and Muslims in my faith is without any doubt the same God. The God of Mohammed and Moses is the same God. It’s part of my faith and belief.”
Finally, is there a message you would like to give to people in North Kirklees?
“My message reminds me about our present prime minister’s views on ‘big society’. It is about creating, maintaining and developing good relationships with neighbours and for that I would like to mention two sayings of the Prophet Mohammed.
“In one saying he is reported to have said that the person who harms his neighbour is not a believer. In the other he is reported to have said that the best neighbour is he who treats his neighbour kindly and is good to him.
“These sayings show the basis of participating and contributing towards the arrival of a ‘big society’ where we should respect, love and care about our neighbours and respect their faith, culture, colour or creed. If we wish to live as Muslims we must first of all be practising and true Muslims as well.”