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George Bernard Shaw in "The Genuine Islam": I have studied him (The Prophet Muhammad) the wonderful man and in my opinion he must be called the saviour of humanity.
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Who speaks for Islam?

There are so many groups, organisations, councils and spokespersons for the Muslim community that you would be forgiven for asking who speaks for Islam?

The simple answer is that no one person or group does. Islam has no clergy. The right of understanding the message and interpretation belongs to each and every Muslim. Even if two Muslims come to a different ruling based upon the same Islamic legal text, then they will both be rewarded in the next life , so long as their effort was a sincere attempt to find Allah's solution to a problem.

As we said, Islam does not recognise a clerical class. Any attempt to establish official interpretations must be resisted by Muslims, as this inevitably takes Islam away from the people and leads to it serving political whims of the day. However, Islam did give the elected leader representing the Muslims (the Khalifah or Caliph) the right to adopt a particular ruling from amongst the authentic Shariah rules, to become an official adoption for the governors and judges to rule with. Other opinions can still be aired to account the ruler and ensure that only the strongest opinion is adopted.

However, even though Muslims all have the right to interpret, there are still clear guidelines as to what is a valid interpretation. Simply put, it must be based upon the Islamic texts. If it were a ruling to suit a vested interest, which was then justified by the text, then this would not be called an Islamic ruling . It would simply be following one's desires and deserves punishment, not reward. Allah says in the second chapter of the Quran

"And if you followed their desires after what knowledge has come to you, then you are surely an oppressor." (Quran chapter 2, verse 120)

The basic condition for us to judge whether an opinion is permitted is that the text must support the possibility of that interpretation. If it is a misquotation, out of context, or contradicts other definitive texts, then it must be rejected.

Today, some people present un-Islamic opinions to serve political interests. They rely upon the ignorance of general Muslims to get these rulings accepted. They misquote older respected scholars to justify their modernist interpretations, despite the sometimes clear irrelevance of such old opinions to modern issues.

Moreover, even if an older scholar was found to have an obscure opinion that the text did not support, then it must also be rejected. Legal precedent is not a valid source of law for Muslims.

Current attempts to establish official bodies of scholars to give localised rulings under the pretext that they are building a consensus are doomed to failure, as they are politically motivated attempts to silence opposition. Imposing respect for past consensus of all Muslims has doubtful legal authority and is practically impossible to establish.

In short, an arrogant cheat who twists texts to serve his interests, would never speak for Islam, even if he fooled most of the people. His intention is not purely to submit to Allah's Shariah , which becomes exposed when his justifications are put to close scrutiny, even if he was a master politician with a silver tongue.

Categories: Challenging Myths, Islam Explained, | Tags: scholar, expert, community leader,

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Cached: 21/8/2009 at 11:24