Tag Archives: Ali

The Muslim Who Amputated His Hands, ‘According to Sharia’

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3_495“Infidels,” or non-Muslims, or the wrong kinds of Muslims (Alawites and Shia for example) are often seen as the natural recipients of Islamic violence, or jihad, as prescribed by Islamic law, the Sharia.

Few, however, are aware exactly how Sharia can cause individual Muslims to do violence upon themselves.

Last week, December 5, Arabic news website Masrawy published a full report and interview with Ali Afifi, an Egyptian man who did just that—violently cut off both his hands to punish himself for, and prevent himself from, stealing, “according to Islamic Sharia.”  A summary of the report follows:

Four years ago, in Elgharbeya province, Egypt, 28-year-old Ali Afifi placed his left hand on the train tracks to be amputated by the wheels of the train without using any anesthetics.

Upon reviving, he went to the townspeople showing the stump of his bloodied arm while yelling at the top of his lungs, “People, I was a thief, and praise Allah, he has forgiven me.”  He repeated this multiple times, while passersby looked shocked.

Normative Islamic law calls for the amputation of the hands of thieves, per Koran 5:38.

Ali began his career as a thief at a very young age; however, one day he decided to stop being a thief and to find honest work. Despite his best efforts, the harder he tried to quit stealing the more intense was the comeback. He was unable to overcome “the devil’s whisperings” in his ears.

According to Ali: “I started at a young age. In first grade I stole other students’ pens and sandwiches. When I grew up, I began to steal cell phones, gold, and money. I performed over one hundred robberies and was arrested multiple times, but I was a smart thief, always able to avoid making the charges stick.”

Ali’s dad works as a Muezzin at one of the mosques and tried many times to dissuade him from being a thief, which caused problems between them. Ali’s father took him to many Muslim sheikhs and clerics, and Ali asked them to amputate his hand in accordance with Islamic Sharia. The sheikhs refused, claiming that only the ruler can make such rulings, and that there are authorities responsible for dealing with such issues. One of the sheikhs encouraged Ali to repent once and for all.

Ali said angrily, “Most of these sheikhs traded with religion and refused to implement the Sharia [law] of Allah.”

The problems between Ali and his father continued, until his dad decided to take him to a psychiatric center to help him quit stealing. But this also failed, because Ali continued to steal with his right hand (after he amputated his left hand).

Said Ali: “I saw that I did not deserve Allah’s mercy unless I amputated my other hand.  Shortly before January’s revolution, I myself amputated my right hand using the same method I used for amputating my left hand [placing it under a speeding train]. I did this because I discovered that nothing was changing; I cannot repent unless I amputate my hand. Thus, I became the authority [sultan], judge, and executioner.”

Ali continued:  “I went to the railroad tracks with joy, placing my right hand under the wheels of the train, experiencing peace of mind knowing that I will not steal again. Despite feeling this peace of mind as a result of my repentance to Allah, my family and neighbors were in shock.”

Ali now lives with his family, consisting of his parents and four siblings, in a modest home. He says with sorrow, “I only receive 215 Egyptian pounds from the department of Social Affairs, but I cannot live on this amount of money.”

The repentant thief asks the government to provide honest work for him, or a special stipend, and an apartment to help him build a new life, so that he can support his family and get married. He also requested that King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia host him, since he is the first thief in the world to apply Islamic Sharia upon himself.

Ali also prays that he becomes a role model for every repentant Muslim. And he wishes that authorities would implement Islamic Sharia as he applied it to himself, adding with disappointment, “I applied the punishment of Islamic Sharia on myself and amputated my hands, but the Muslim Brotherhood did not implement Islamic Sharia.”

While many in the West will deem Ali “insane,” it is important to note that, according to Islamic Sharia—which those clerics he consulted with are learned in—insane thieves should not have their hands amputated, suggesting that those clerics who tried to dissuade him did not deem him insane.

The Most Deadly Middle East Conflict: Shia vs.Sunni Islam

The Shi’ite-Sunni conflict is the most deadly and unsolvable conflict in the MIddle East and it is between Muslims. It is, for example, the basis for the great hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

This week, on the tenth of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Hijri calendar, is Ashura, which at first was akin to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, occurring on a similar date. However, over the years, this day has become a memorial day for Hussein bin Ali, leader of the Shi’ite sect, who was executed by the army of the Sunni regime in southern Iraq in the year 680 CE, 1333 years ago.

He was decapitated and his head was ceremoniously brought to Damascus as proof that the deed had been carried out. Caliph Yazid bin Muawiyah placed Hussein’s head on his table and left it there for a month, so that all could see the fate that befalls a rebel and would be deterred from behaving as he did.

The fact that Hussein was the grandson of Mohammad the prophet of Islam did not prevent the caliph from treating Hussein’s head in this manner.

What is the cause of the Shi’ite-Sunni conflict? Why the terrible cruelty that has been characteristic of this conflict even until today?

The story begins in the year 632, the moment that Muhammad died. Immediately upon his death the struggle began over who would succeed to the most powerful position in Islam – the office of Caliph, Muhammad’s replacement and the leader of Islam.

Ali bin Abi Talib was Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, since he was married to Fatima, daughter of Allah’s messenger and his first wife, Hadija. Fatima bore to Ali two sons, Hasan and Hussein, and two daughters – Zainab and Umm Kulthum.

While Muhammad was still alive, his daughter Fatima quarreled with Aisha, Muhammad’s last wife, who was younger than Fatima by several years. After Muhammad’s death, Aisha’s father, Abu Bakr, was appointed as the leader of Islam, which was against Fatima’s wishes, who saw her husband Ali as the natural successor to Muhammad, since he was Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, as well as the father of Muhammad’s grandchildren.

There were severe struggles among the group of people that surrounded the first three caliphs, Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman because of the family feud over who would inherit the leadership.

Ali was eventually appointed as the fourth caliph in the year 656 after his predecessor, Uthman, was murdered. Those who opposed Ali, principally members of the Umayyah family, accused him of being involved in the murder of Uthman and during all five years that he ruled, he had to fight his adversaries continually.

The governor of Syria, Muawiya, rose up and pronounced himself caliph. His son, Yazid, was the caliph who gave the instructions to murder Hussein bin Ali.

The murder of Hussein occurred in Southern Iraq, near the city of Karbala. He was murdered together with several dozens of his friends and family members, with only one baby surviving to continue the dynasty. The murder, which occurred in 680 – remains the defining event for “Shi’at Ali”, the “sect of Ali”, which is the source of the name “Shia” or Shi’ite, the name of the stream of Islam that supports the leadership of Ali’s descendants.

This family conflict has been ongoing for almost 1400 years. Until the year 1258, with the fall of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid dynasty, all of the caliphs of Islam for over six hundred years were from Muhammad’s tribe, the tribe of Quraysh, but they were never the descendants of Ali. This situation placed Shi’a in continual opposition to the ruling regime and they became a harshly persecuted group throughout the history of Islam.

The struggle between the two groups has led to the development of great differences between the two in every area of religious life: religious laws are different, the theology is different, and even the basic scriptures are different: The Shi’ites claim that the Sunnis omitted two chapters from the Qur’an where the leadership was promised to Ali and his descendants, while the Sunnis claim that these two chapters were fabricated by the Shi’ites. The oral law is also different, because each side invented stories about Muhammad to support their political position.

In their prayers, the Shi’ites curse the first three caliphs for stealing the rule from Ali, and they add passages that praise and exalt Ali. Therefore there are many among the Sunnis, especially the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, who consider Shi’a as a kind of fundamental heresy. The Saudi regime forbids the Shi’ite minority to recite the call to prayer aloud, because even in the muezzin’s call to prayer there is an extra part praising Ali.

The Shi’ites commemorate the Ashura – a memorial day for the murder of Hussein bin Ali – with very impressive events of “ta’aziah” (consolation). In some places they march in the streets and beat their backs with knives and chains even to the point of drawing blood, and in other places they meet to recite laments, weeping and wailing. All of these events carry a harsh anti-Sunni message, which perpetuates the hostility between the two groups of Islam.

Shi’ites are persecuted in every Islamic country where they do not rule: Saddam Hussein forbade the Shi’ites to commemorate Ashura, and on that day, Shi’ites were forbidden to gather in the streets. Any group of more than three Shi’ites that was caught in public on this day was sent to prison.

In Lebanon, the Shi’ites were a marginal, oppressed and degraded group. This provided the social background for the development of Hizb’Allah (Hezbollah, on Google), which eventually took control of Lebanon in revenge for hundreds of years of oppression and marginalization.

In one of the Arab villages in northern Israel, a number of families changed over to the Shi’ite side of Islam after Hezbollah’s “divine victory” in 2006, and as a result, these families have been banned: their youth were expelled from the schools and the stores in the village were closed to them.

A few months ago in Egypt, a leader of the small Shi’ite sect was slaughtered together with several of his aides, and in Europe there are mosques that have been built with Saudi money on condition that Shi’ites will not be permitted to enter their gates.

Iran’s behavior totally fits with the history of the battle between Shi’a and Sunna: the Iranian, Shi’ite Ayatollahs’ sweetest dream is to control Mecca and Medina, so that they can throw the Sunni Wahhabis out of these Islamic holy places, and restore the Shi’ites, the descendants of Ali, the fourth caliph, to power.

This is the basis for the great hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the sense of a great and real threat that Saudi Arabia feels these days because of the Iranian military nuclear project.

Israel is a punching bag for both streams of Islam: the Sunnis see Jerusalem as the third holiest place in Islam as a result of the political problems of the seventh century, when the House of Umayyah, which ruled in Damascus, adopted Jerusalem as the religious and political center to compete with Mecca.

The Shi’ites – traditionally – did not see Jerusalem as a holy place, because it had been “sanctified” by the House of Umayyah, the despised murderers of Hussein bin Ali.

But in modern politics, both sides compete against each other in the struggle for religious legitimacy, because each side wants to present itself as the better jihad fighter against the Jews. Thus, Jerusalem is “holy” to the Shi’ites too: Iran established the “Quds” force (“Quds” is “holy” in Arabic, and part of the Arabic name for Jerusalem: al-Quds) to spread terror throughout the world, and every year Hezbollah organizes “Jerusalem Day” in conjunction with the Iranians.

But the ongoing political wars between Sunna and Shi’a still cause many thousands of deaths: the eight year war (1980-1988) between Iraq, which was then ruled by the Sunni Saddam Hussein, and Iran of the Shi’ite Ayatollahs, resulted in well over a million deaths on both sides, all of whom were Muslims who were killed by other Muslims.

Since 2003, Iraq has returned to sectarian war as Sunni jihadists blow up car bombs and truck bombs in Shi’ite neighborhoods, and in revenge, Shi’ites blow up vehicles loaded with explosives in Sunnis areas. This front has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children until now.

Shi’ite commemorative events such as the Ashura (which occurs this week) and the fortieth day afterward, are “special favorites” of Sunni terror operatives, because the mass processions and large gatherings of Shi’ites in ta’aziah rituals make an attractive and effective target for anyone who is interested in harming Shi’ites. In a number of past events it was enough for a rumor to be spread that a terrorist had entered the Shi’ite crowd to cause a stampede causing hundreds of people to fall from bridges and be trampled to death.

There are groups of Shi’ites in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. The members of these groups are considered to be unclean and Shi’ite mosques in these cities are a regular target for terror attacks by radical Sunnis, especially members of al-Qaeda.

In the past, there have been attempts to mediate and reconcile the two streams of Islam, but the all-out war being conducted in Syria for the past three years has shuffled all the cards, because in this country too, supported by Iranian weapons, monies and Shi’ite fighters, the Alawite, “infidel regime” has been ceaselessly slaughtering its Sunni citizens, and has caused the death of about two hundred thousand citizens and has made refugees of millions of people, who are living a life of suffering and misery.

Ali and Muawiya, the fourth and fifth caliphs from the middle of the seventh century, have been in their graves for some time, but the struggle between them for the rule of Islam continues to claim casualties among their supporters and adherents, who are all, every single one, Muslims.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by SallyZahav with permission from the author. First published in the Hebrew weekly Makor Rishon. Copyright – Original materials copyright (c) by the author.

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

#Islam: Blaming the Rape Victim in Dubai

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Marte-Deborah-Dalelv-jpgDubai, not willing to take the international heat, has pardoned Marte Deborah Dalelv, a Norwegian woman who had been sentenced to sixteen months in prison for making the mistake of reporting that she had been a victim of rape.

The UK’s Daily Mail reported that “under UAE law, rapists can only be convicted if either the perpetrator confesses or if four adult Muslim males witness the crime.” This isn’t just Emirati law; it is pure Sharia, based on Qur’an 24:4 and 24:13. Those verses, in turn, are according to Islamic tradition, the result of Muhammad’s exoneration of his favorite wife, Aisha, who was suspected of adultery.

Allah gave Muhammad a revelation requiring four male witnesses to establish such a crime: “And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony, they indeed are evil-doers” (Qur’an 24:4). The problem with this is that women who accuse men of rape but cannot produce four male witnesses are often accused themselves of zina — unlawful sexual intercourse — and jailed as a result.

This is not limited just to Dubai or the UAE. According to Sisters In Islam, a Muslim reform group, there is evidence that most — up to 75% — of the women imprisoned in Pakistan are there because of rape.

And it is all because of a tradition about Muhammad, recounting that soon after the Islamic prophet had ordered the veiling of women, the Muslims went in caravan to battle. Muhammad’s child bride, Aisha, accompanied him, carried in a curtained howdah on the back of a camel. Aisha tells the story:

(We camped) as we approached near the city of Medina. Then he announced for departure at night. I got up when they announced the departure, and went away from the army camps, and after finishing from the call of nature, I came back to my riding animal. I touched my chest to find that my necklace which was made of Zifar beads (i.e. Yemenite beads partly black and partly white) was missing. So I returned to look for my necklace and my search for it detained me. (In the meanwhile) the people who used to carry me on my camel, came and took my Hawdaj and put it on the back of my camel on which I used to ride, as they considered that I was in it. In those days women were light in weight for they did not get fat, and flesh did not cover their bodies in abundance as they used to eat only a little food. So, those people did not feel the difference in the heaviness of the Hawdaj while lifting it, and they put it near the camel. At that time I was still a young lady. They made the camel rise and all of them left (along with it). I found my necklace after the army had gone.

Since the order for veiling meant that no one could look at her or speak to her, and her weight didn’t make any significant difference, the people loading Aisha’s howdah onto her camel had no way of telling she wasn’t there. And so Muhammad’s favorite wife was stranded.

While I was sitting in my resting place, I was overwhelmed by sleep and slept. Safwan bin Al-Muattal As-Sulami Adh-Dhakwani was behind the army. When he reached my place in the morning, he saw the figure of a sleeping person and he recognized me on seeing me as he had seen me before the order of compulsory veiling (was prescribed). So I woke up when he recited Istirja’ (i.e. “Inna lillahi wa inna llaihi raji’un” [“Truly to Allah we belong and truly to him we shall return”]) as soon as he recognized me. I veiled my face with my head cover at once, and by Allah, we did not speak a single word, and I did not hear him saying any word besides his Istirja’. He dismounted from his camel and made it kneel down, putting his leg on its front legs and then I got up and rode on it. Then he set out leading the camel that was carrying me till we overtook the army in the extreme heat of midday while they were at a halt (taking a rest).

Aisha had been alone with a man who was not her husband. For some, that was enough to begin circulating ugly rumors about her: “(Because of the event) some people brought destruction upon themselves,” Aisha said, “and the one who spread the Ifk (i.e. slander) more, was ‘Abdullah bin Ubai Ibn Salul’”—along with three others (including another man named Mistah bin Uthatha and the sister of Zaynab bint Jahsh), along with some secondary figures. The rumors flew, and even Muhammad was affected by them, drawing back from Aisha, who explains:

After we returned to Medina, I became ill for a month. The people were propagating the forged statements of the slanderers while I was unaware of anything of all that, but I felt that in my present ailment, I was not receiving the usual kindness from Allah’s Messenger which I used to receive when I got sick. (But now) Allah’s Messenger would only come, greet me and say, ‘How is that (lady)?’ and leave.  That roused my doubts, but I did not discover the evil (i.e. slander) till I recovered from my ailment and I went out with Umm Mistah [that is, Mistah’s mother] to Al-Manasi’ where we used to answer the call of nature…

Umm Mistah ultimately tells Aisha about the rumors, which of course made an already ailing Aisha feel even worse:

So my ailment was aggravated, and when I reached my home, Allah’s Messenger came to me, and after greeting me, said, ‘How is that (lady)?’ I said, ‘Will you allow me to go to my parents?’ as I wanted to be sure about the news through them. Allah’s Messenger allowed me (and I went to my parents) and asked my mother, ‘O mother! What are the people talking about?’ She said, ‘O my daughter! Don’t worry, for scarcely is there a charming woman who is loved by her husband and whose husband has other wives besides herself that they (i.e. women) would find faults with her.’ I said, ‘Subhan Allah! [Glory be to Allah!] Are the people really talking in this way?’ I kept on weeping that night till dawn, I could neither stop weeping nor sleep, then in the morning again, I kept on weeping.

And she had good reason to weep: Muhammad evidently believed the rumors, although Aisha had defenders:

(When the Divine Revelation was delayed), Allah’s Messenger called ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and Usama bin Zaid to ask and consult them about divorcing me. Usama bin Zaid said what he knew of my innocence, and the respect he had for me. Usama said, ‘(O Allah’s Messenger!) She is your wife, and we do not know anything except good about her.’

Rather ungallantly, ‘Ali, who later became the great saint and hero of the Shi’ite Muslims, reminds Muhammad that there are “plenty of women”  available to the Prophet (Aisha never forgot this, and later disputed Ali’s claim that Muhammad had appointed him as his successor: “When did he appoint him by will? Verily when he died he was resting against my chest and he asked for a wash-basin and then collapsed while in that state, and I could not even perceive that he had died, so when did he appoint him by will?”). Aisha’s account continues:

‘Ali bin Abi Talib said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Allah does not put you in difficulty, and there are plenty of women other than she, yet, ask the maid-servant (Aishah’s slave-girl) who will tell you the truth.’ On that Allah’s Messenger called Barira (i.e. the maid-servant) and said, ‘O Barira! Did you ever see anything which aroused your suspicion?’ Barira said to him, ‘By Him Who has sent you with the Truth. I have never seen anything in her (i.e., Aishah) which I would conceal, except that she is a young girl who sleeps leaving the dough of her family exposed so that the domestic goats come and eat it.’

Muhammad was satisfied with this, and turned on Aisha’s accusers. Aisha recounts:

So, on that day, Allah’s Messenger got up on the pulpit and complained about ‘Abdullah bin Ubai (bin Salul) before his Companions, saying, ‘O you Muslims! Who will relieve me from that man who has hurt me with his evil statement about my family? By Allah, I know nothing except good about my family and they have blamed a man about whom I know nothing except good and he used never to enter my home except in my company’…. All that day I kept on weeping with my tears never ceasing, and I could never sleep.

In the morning my parents were with me and I wept for two nights and a day, neither my tears ceased nor could I sleep till I thought that my liver would burst from weeping. While my parents were sitting with me and I was weeping, an Ansari woman asked me to grant her admittance, and I allowed her to come in. She came in, and sat down and started weeping with me. While we were in this state, Allah’s Messenger came, greeted us and sat down. He had never sat with me since that day of the slander. A month had elapsed and no Divine Revelation came to him about my case. Allah’s Messenger then recited Tashahhud (i.e., La ilaha illallah wa anna Muhammad-ur-Rasul Allah – none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger) and then said, ‘Amma Ba’du [Now to the point], O ‘Aishah! I have been informed such-and-such about you; if you are innocent, then soon Allah will reveal your innocence, and if you have committed a sin, then repent to Allah and ask Him for forgiveness, for when a person confesses his sins and asks Allah for forgiveness, Allah accepts his repentance.’

At that point Aisha began to fight back against her accusers, even quoting the Qur’an in her own defense:

When Allah’s Messenger finished his speech, my tears ceased flowing completely and there remained not even a single drop of it. I said to my father, ‘Reply to Allah’s Messenger on my behalf concerning what he has said.’ My father said, ‘By Allah, I do not know what to say to Allah’s Messenger.’ Then I said to my mother, ‘Reply to Allah’s Messenger on my behalf concerning what he has said.’ She said, ‘By Allah, I do not know what to say to Allah’s Messenger.’ In spite of the fact that I was a young girl and had a little knowledge of the Qur’an, I said, ‘By Allah, no doubt I know that you heard this (slanderous) speech so that it has got fixed up in your minds and you have taken it as a truth. Now, if I tell you that I am innocent, you will not believe me, and if confess to you falsely that I am guilty, and Allah knows that I am innocent, you will surely believe me. [Qur’an 12:18]…. Then I turned to the other side of my bed; hoping that Allah would prove my innocence.

Allah does:

By Allah, Allah’s Messenger had not got up and nobody had left the house before the Divine Revelation came to Allah’s Messenger. So, there overtook him the same state which used to overtake him, (when he used to be inspired Divinely). The sweat was dropping from his body like pearls, though it was a (cold) wintry day and that was because of the weighty statement which was being revealed to him. When that state of Allah’s Messenger was over, he got up smiling, and the first word he said was, ‘O ‘Aishah! Allah has declared your innocence!’ (V. 24.11-21).

Here is the full passage of the Qur’an declaring Aisha’s innocence, scolding the Muslims for ever believing the accusations, and setting a standard for evidence in crimes of sexual impurity that remains part of Islamic law to this day:

Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they produce not witnesses, they verily are liars in the sight of Allah. Had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy unto you in the world and the Hereafter an awful doom had overtaken you for that whereof ye murmured. When ye welcomed it with your tongues, and uttered with your mouths that whereof ye had no knowledge, ye counted it a trifle. In the sight of Allah it is very great. Wherefore, when ye heard it, said ye not: It is not for us to speak of this. Glory be to Thee (O Allah)! This is awful calumny. (Qur’an 24:11-16)

The story establishes that Muhammad loved Aisha, and was clearly relieved when the revelation of her innocence came to him from Allah. But as so often in Islamic tradition, it seems as if Allah’s solicitude for his Prophet takes the Qur’an, which is supposed to be a universal message applicable to all people in all times and places, into some rather surprisingly localized areas. Even Aisha herself was amazed: “But by Allah, I did not think that Allah, (to confirm my innocence), would reveal Divine Revelation which would be recited, for I consider myself too unimportant to be talked about by Allah through Divine Revelation revealed for recitation, but I hoped that Allah’s Messenger might have a dream in which Allah would reveal my innocence.”

Indeed, many others have marveled at this over the centuries. And women continue to suffer for the odd stipulation that four male Muslim witnesses must be produced in order to establish a crime of adultery, including rape.

Marte Dalelv was just the latest. She will by no means be the last.

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