The premeditated snub and refusal by an unnamed Muslim policewoman (news report 22 January 2007http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2175076.ece) to shake hands with Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, at a recent graduating ceremony is not endorsed by the Holy Qur’an, the primary and transcendent source of Islamic law.
In fact, there is no passage in the sacred scripture banning men and women from offering customary salutations or ordinarily shaking hands. Like so many other contemporary distortions of the Islamic faith (including the ‘obligatory’ wearing of the niqab – the full face mask for women, and the unkempt beard for men), these specific ethnic norms are not Qur’anic commandments. They stem from rigid and archaic misrepresentation of the reputed sayings (ahadith) of the Prophet of Islam, most of which were compiled some 250 years after his death in 632 CE, providing sufficient opportunity for forgery and fabrication. For Muslims, the pristine Qur’anic text has to remain the sole and supreme foundation of all Islamic legislation rather than the subordinate and often contradictory (mortal) renditions of the Prophet Muhammad’s attributed pronouncements and practices.
With respect to men and women shaking hands, there are several conflicting and dubious versions found in the hadith compilations of Tirmidhi, al-Nisa’i, Ibn Majah and other minor collections. Misogynistic clerics, however, have simply ignored these factual inconsistencies. Instead, they projected an insidious patriarchal perspective of female sexuality, which incorporated strict gender apartheid, into an intrinsic Islamic value. But there is no Qur’anic sanction for such sexist prejudice. Medieval and modern preachers have claimed that even the innocent or inadvertent touching of women is forbidden to prevent male sexual temptation. If this was indeed the original Divine intent, why did God not explicitly outlaw this supposed ‘danger’ to men in His Holy Book? Does not the Qur’an regard itself as the complete guide, the detailed testament and the final revelation? (See 11:1; 17:12; 6:114; 6:38; 16:89; 41:3; 45:6). So, why would the Almighty authorise doubtful hadith narrators, early Muslim commentators as well as latter-day mullahs to enforce entirely non-Qur’anic rules and regulations?
Clearly, this is tantamount to humans subverting the sublime text of the Creator, replacing it with secondary and controversial rulings (fatawah) from the entirely masculine ulama (clergy). But to maintain God’s exclusive legal sovereignty, Muslims must adhere to theinfallible and immutable injunctions contained in the Holy Qur’an alone and not the fallible and undependable conclusions of culturally biased male interpreters. When thinking Muslims do so, they can then ignore disputable theological opinions, which in any case, are derived from spurious or suspect ahadith which have no Qur’anic legitimacy whatsoever. Rational Muslims must make it a top priority to reclaim their own faith from those who have introduced non-Qur’anic novelty and innovations into Islam. It is therefore high time that British Muslims jettison this unthinking and contentious form of Islam that is championed so virulently by fanatical Wahhabism and its opportunistic followers in this country and elsewhere.
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16th October 2006