Mam, pls ask your “impressive” Muslim friends if they will hesitate to kill you in the case some…
My Quiet Place

Hi, and thanks for engaging. To answer your “question” (curiously a statement ending with a question mark), I would never have to make such an insulting inquiry of my Muslim friends for several reasons, all of which I know because I took the time to understand a bit about Islamic jurisprudence before I took to spouting off about it (I highly recommend the practice). The simple facts you seem to have missed are that fatwas are not death sentences and they are not even binding decisions, much less “obligations” that would turn anyone into a “bad Muslim” for not following.

Fatwas are simply decisions made by (and opinions of) religious scholars. They serve as the bridge between Islam’s intellectual-legal tradition (and centuries of Islamic case law) and the contemporary world. Since there has been no central Islamic body since the Ottoman empire, fatwas apply only locally and very often are contradictory to other fatwas and thus debated or ignored. For example, a Saudi mufti in 2000 issued a fatwa entitled, “The Transmitted and Sensory Proofs of the Rotation of the Sun and Stillness of the Earth.” Given the Islamic world’s massive contributions to astronomy, you can imagine why it was pretty much universally ignored, while inducing plenty laughter and groans from my friends. I can assure you than no one — not even the most devout and conservative Islamists — consider my firends “bad Muslims” for not taking this fatwa to heart.

Speaking of the Rushie affair specifically, Islamic scholars will tell you that a death warrant without a proper trial (including proper defense and other procedures) is a violation of Islamic jurisprudence. Killing is not accepted as an instrument, so a defendant must be given the opportunity to prove himself innocent or repent (repenting basically prevents any punishment from being handed out under Sharia). A death fatwa cannot be issued by a mufti outside of an Islamic court nor can it apply to countries outside of its jurisdiction. That is why the Islamic Jurisprudence Academy denounced Rushie’s fatwa, as did essentially every mufti outside of Iran (including Khomeini’s own cousin). It is a shame that this point seems to be missed by every breathless journalist and Islamic alarmist on the internet.

If death fatwas were a real concern, how do you think Rushie has been able to openly travel a world full of nearly two billion Muslims for for than 15 years without being killed (the fatwa is still in effect and has been reiterated by Iranian clerics)? How do you think he walks down the street in Manhattan — where he’s lived for all of 15 of those years — without a single attempt on his life, despite there being over a million Muslim residents in the New York metro area? He receives no police protection and employs no security protection, and any “good Muslim” who killed him would receive nearly $4 million dollars for the deed (really, you’d think that would induce at least one of them to give it a shot).

Do you think that perhaps those million Muslims — and the two billion others around the world — are generally good people who use their own judgement despite the words of a tiny minority of extremists? Do you think that perhaps they treat their religion the same as Christians do, ignoring outliers and ancient edicts? Both my extensive experience and empirical evidence suggest that Muslims are no more likely to obey a random fatwa than Christians are to follow the proclamations of Westboro Baptist Church or begin executing people for cursing their parents as the bible directs.

Given that your opinion appears to be based neither on fact nor on experience (nor evidence nor reason that I can see), I would humbly suggest you rethink the biases that drive them. There will be little progress made in our world as long as dialogue is driven by uninformed prejudice and outright bigotry. Beside, I promise you will enrich your life if you get to know a few good people who also happen to be good Muslims — many of them are, in fact, extraordinarily impressive, no scare quotes necessary.

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