Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Imagine You're a Jurist

** Pasting this from my "Islam and Gender" Blog.**  There's so much more I'm dying to share -- no time to write it in words just yet, though, 'cause the semester is coming to an end, and that means a ton of exam reviews and term papers to complete before we welcome December Jaan!
In upcoming blog entries, either on this blog or on the Gender-Islam one (prolly the Gender-Islam one, though), I'll be discussing the role of interpretation in Quranic verses pertinent to women, inshaAllah! I took notes in class today, thinking I'll just paste those into the blog, but then I realized that my audience includes people who don't believe in "interpreting" a text and think that everything's all clear in the Quran... when it's in fact not. So I'll have to come up with a way to explain what it all means and everything. 

Enjoy this for the time being!

P.S. I'm learning slowly and slowly how boldly and openly classical Muslim jurists discussed "sensitive" topics such as the one below and how sad yet interesting it is that most of us today deem those same topics forbidden and too "immodest" to be discussed in public! Heck, read al-Tabari, al-Ghazali, or even Ibn Katheer (yes, all men of course;  we know that no women jurists existed in the classical period ... or even today! And of course this was all the space of men and men only), and you'll wanna cover your eyes because of the rich descriptions they provide of these "forbidden" topics! It's amazing how behind we've fallen, how we seem to be going backwards instead of forward. As they used to say, "There is no shame in learning and teaching; nothing is too immodest when it comes to discussing it from an Islamic point of view, or understanding Islam's stance on it." More on this another time, but you get the idea. 

So, during the last  couple of weeks, we've been reading texts on Islamic jurisprudence and sexual ethics. We were heading towards Muslim jurists' views on conception and abortion, the laws on what a woman should do in various scenarios. Before that, our professor had us imagine that we, the students, are jurists in the medieval times and a good, practicing Muslim woman comes to us and asks if premature withdrawal is permissible or not because she and her husband are poor and have several children, and she does not think they should have anymore because they cannot afford them. Her husband claims premature withdrawal is the best method of preventing pregnancy and that using condoms (made of cured sheep's intestine) are forbidden according to Islam. So, she wants to know if it's Islamically acceptable to use condoms and whether or not premature withdrawal is allowed.
We give a response based on Islam (the Quran, hadiths, and jurists' opinions). Some time passes, and she comes back, unhappy, saying that she followed our advice but just found out that she is 2.5 months pregnant. She asks us 1) if she can have an abortion, and 2) if yes, then does she need her husband's permission?

SO! Exciting stuff! And everything we said was to be supported by the Quran, hadiths, and other jurists' opinions, which means we couldn't say, "No, of course you can do XYZ! Who said you can't?" etc... which is where one of the main challenges lies in being a jurist, I see now.

We were not allowed to read up on abortion and conception in Islam, save for the material he sent us that we could use to make our decision. In this blog post, I share what all those are -- ranging from Quranic verses to hadith reports to jurists' statements. 

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