The Disconnect Between Theory And Practice In “A Common Word Between Us and You”: Letters To The Pope From Muslim Scholars

Invariably, human nature being what it is, there are always serious disconnects between accepted theory and practice. The disconnect is often so pervasive that only individuals not invested in the theory’s promulgation can see the glaring red arrow pointing at the disconnect. This disconnect, once exposed, is immediately hidden. Case in point: A Common Word Between Us and You Letter to the Pope intended to usher in a fresh period of love, peace and intellectual understanding between Muslims and Christians:

On October 13th 2006, one month to the day after Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address of September 13th 2006, 38 Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world, representing all denominations and schools of thought, joined together to deliver an answer to the Pope in the spirit of open intellectual exchange and mutual understanding. In their Open Letter to the Pope (see english.pdf), for the first time in recent history, Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam spoke with one voice about the true teachings of Islam.

Where’s the disconnect, Jack Burton? Patrick Poole PJM has it.

Last October, the international media establishment was abuzz over a letter sent by 138 Islamic scholars representing the elite of the worldwide ulema to Pope Benedict, entitled “A Common Word between Us and You”, in response to his papal address at Regensburg in September 2006. The letter extols the common bonds between Muslims and Christians, and their common belief in the love towards neighbors. It further declares that “justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbor.” Many Christian leaders have responded by welcoming this effort and affirming the Islamic scholars’ letter.

The letter was the product of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan, and its chief scholar, Sheikh Said Hijjawi, was one of the 138 signatories (#49). In fact, according to the introduction, the letter was presented by the Institute to the Islamic scholars gathered at a conference held at their facilities in September 2007.

The disconnect?: YES! a DOZY. The same institute which sponsored the letter to the Pope possible also hosts:Patrick Poole PJM post continues…

Ask the Mufti” section a number of fatwas on apostasy issued by the Institute’s chief scholar, Sheikh Hijjawi, that call for the death of Christian reverts (Christians converting to Islam and then returning to the Christian faith) and Muslim apostates. Further they state that if the Christian reverts and Muslim apostates are not killed, they should be deprived of all rights and accorded the status of non-persons.

Dr. Mark Durie, in a blog post last week translates some of the punishments to be imposed according to Sheikh Hijjawi’s fatwas:

  • His marriage is annulled by virtue of his apostasy.
  • He cannot inherit the wealth of any of his relatives — whether they are Muslims or not — because the apostate is legally regarded as dead.
  • None of his actions after apostasy has any legal validity (as the apostate is a legal non-person).
  • An apostate cannot be remarried, whether to a Muslim or a non-Muslim.
  • He cannot be a guardian for anyone else, so he loses custody of his children, and an apostate father has no say over his daughters’ marriages.
  • An apostate must not be prayed for by Muslims after his death and must not be buried in a Muslim cemetery.
  • If a male apostate comes back to Islam and wishes to resume his marriage, he must remarry his wife with a new ceremony and provide a new dowry for her.
  • The apostate’s wealth and possessions are to be entailed upon an heir. If the apostate repents and returns to Islam, he receives his wealth back. If he dies while still an apostate, his wealth is inherited by his Muslim heir, but only the amount which he had at the time of his apostasy. Any wealth which accrued after he had left Islam is considered fay (and thus the collective property of the Muslim community).

Dr. Mark Durie, at his blog “Resources on A Common Word Between You and Us” that the fatwas have since, his post was published, been hidden, disappeared, vanished down the memory hole:

As of 18 February 2008, the fatwas discussed here are no longer posted on the website. Instead the link given below to what was the apostasy fatwas now takes the reader to a page which states ‘No questions were asked concerning this topic.’ (in Arabic)