By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
20 November 2015
The following quote is from a readers
comment on an article praising the response to the recent Paris attacks by an
articulate young Muslim media personality:-
The comment was, “I am just waiting for the
grand mufti to lead the way”.
The sarcasm that oozes out from the
statement above is not perhaps appreciated by the readers outside the country.
It is based on the Grand Mufti of Australia’s parallel statement to the press.
The Mufti as the ‘leader’ of the Muslim
community had issued a statement on the tragic events in Paris but it caused
huge ‘misunderstanding’ in the media. The statement was given in Arabic and was
translated into English. It was alleged by the mufti’s minders that it was
misquoted and had lost is essence and real meaning.
The Mufti of Australia is an Egyptian
(Sunni Muslim) and is referred to as Professor and Doctor A religious academic
from the oldest madrasa in the Muslim world, Al Azhar, the beacon of light.
Unlike many muftis who stand out like the
proverbial sore thumb in their ‘Islamic’ gown and weirdo headgear; this mufti
presents himself in public dressed in the best of Western style clothing. That
is a welcome change from the pseudo holy apparels that are worn by most
The grand Mufti has been living in the
country for over two decades now, and was elected by the Australian National
Imams Council. Who elects them is not the subject here. One assumes the council
comprises only of Sunnis. If so, then it says a lot about imams’ council: the
prayer leaders of the churches representing ALL Muslims.
Much like the one previous grand mufti of
Australia years ago, the current grand mufti conducts media interviews in
Arabic language too and therefore requires an interpreter to translate his statements into English—the
language of the country,
After the media had analysed his
statements, it raised a storm over what was thought he had said. The Grand Mufti’s
statements then needed number of attempts to “explain what he had really
meant”. Very often it is too late and the damage is done to the Muslim
community’s standing in the nation as a whole!
Under the highly charged political atmosphere
of today and the focus of the world on the so called ‘Islamic’ terrorism; it is
so important that the Muslim political leadership in countries such as
Australia, a modern Western country, should comprise of politically savvy,
articulate and of high diplomatic calibre so that the “spins” that the media
may present to the world is nipped in the bud at source.
It is probably true that his presentations
to the media in the Arabic language are not tinged with the holiness of the
Arabic language, but is due to his lack of confidence in English language.
Nevertheless it is a big loophole for others to misconstrue his statements.
And who can blame them. After all, the
medium of communication of the nation is the English language and anybody
masquerading as a citizen of the country and representative of a community must
be a speaker to articulate his/her intent in the language of the land.
The misunderstanding, and then because of
it, the misrepresentation of the community is a huge setback in an already
Fortunately there is no shortage of well
educated, politically savvy and articulate young Muslims men and women to speak
on behalf of the Muslim community in the country. The unfortunate thing is the
general attitude of the Muslims to look for ‘guidance’ from the keepers of the
religions and houses of worship. Hence the double edged sword of the vested
interests of the guides on one hand and ignorance of the community in general
on the other is a cause for concern.
It is a big setback to the community that
it should think it necessary to be represented by purely religious scholars in
today’s enlightened world of the West. In a country like Australia where
rightly or wrongly the cliché: ‘religion and politics should not mix’ and where
the church is for worship and the Parliament a house of politics; the Muslims
should still be hanging to the apron strings of the prayer leaders like Maulana
and Mufti to represent them. This is a dilemma and retrogressive step.
It therefore becomes necessary to address
this leadership claim that of mufti, grand or not, in terms of the faith Islam,
the source of which is the Quran.
The Messenger is addressed in the two
verses, Chapter Four ‘Nisaa’ verses 127 and 176 with identical words, thus:-
4-127 & 176, they ask you for an edict–
fatwa and then the Messenger is directed to say unequivocally that- God gives
you these instructions…
Fatwa it seems is an exclusive domain of
God and not even a Messenger/Apostle can issue one. Therefore for anybody,
scholar or not, to hold the title Mufti and act as if he or she can issue a
fatwa even in religious terms, is clearly playing god!
This title in the context of leadership is
therefore misleading to say the least and smacks of duplicity to heavily
bolster the political position by giving it religious overtones so as to
mislead the religious community.
It is unfathomable that those who are supposed
to be scholars of the Book should perpetuate this double dipping for the sake
of maintaining their status and position.
In many Muslim countries, and particularly
the named “Islamic” states, have this titled position on government payroll,
contrary to the Book and history of the very early period of Muslims.
Mufti was not a position created by the
Messenger Muhammad or by the early Khalifsof the first century. Religiously and
or politically there seems to be no justification for the position of mufti or
grand mufti to represent the Muslim community today. It was a position created
much later by the rulers in order to create a buffer between themselves and the
public; should the public rise against them; which has happened a few times.
The leadership issue for the Muslim
community in the West is an important issue to resolve. In the ostensibly
democratic countries where Muslims have migrated to make home, often going back
generations must adopt democratic means to elect their representatives on the basis
of political acumen, educational merit and not on religiosity and religious
Religions by their very nature and their
different ideologies are inherently divisive and therefore hinder the process
of integration and harmony in the country and peaceful coexistence in the world
All religions, it is said aspire for peace
through love and kindness to fellow human beings. But there is no evidence of
that throughout human history. If it was true then how is it that many of the
world conflicts were and are based on religious differences?
What is evident today is that Islam is
extensively used as a religion by many countries and people in conflicts; to
implement their particular political and strategic agenda. It is most important
that the people who claim to be leaders of Muslims community in the West are
fully cognisant of and aware of various agendas camouflaged as “Islam”.
It is the leader’s duty to steer the
community safely out of the mire by not pontificating on the causes and effects
in foreign languages, creating further complications of “misunderstanding”
which the media is quick to manipulate for its purpose. Unfortunately that is
its allotted and accepted task!
For a leader and representative to use
foreign language is a clear indication of ghetto mentality and insularism on
his/her part, which does not auger well for their future generation who might
end up stranded and confused between the two worlds.
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
"...may not even want their Muslim identity to be advertised".
are called “The silent majority” of the elite Muslim world.