by Cathy Lynn Grossman
Do you follow the rules of your religion? All of them?
Here’s why I ask. Last week I wrote about the Islamic injunction to give zakat, translated as charity, to the poor and needy, a faithful mandate that often peaks during Ramadan, the month of prayer and fasting that began last weekend.
Now Raymond Ibrahim, the Middle East Forum scholar, objects to my presentation, saying, essentially, I’m just a push-over for a nice gloss on zakat that he sees as a pipeline to violent extremists. You can read his comments in full in the comments section of my original blog item.
But I want to look at one point here. Ibrahim writes that Islamic jurisprudence defines one of the eight possible categories for giving as
… essentially synonymous with the concept of violent jihad. Thus the same canon of Islamic law (the Sharia) that unequivocally forbids Muslims from giving zakat (“charity”) to non-Muslims, legitimizes, indeed, advocates, giving it to what we call “jihadists.” This is a simple fact” not my opinion, nor something that is “open to interpretation.”
Now, I’m no expert in Islamic jurisprudence but I’m very familiar with how people actually behave within the rules of their religion. They largely don’t.
As clear as the Catholic church is on artificial contraception and abortion, Catholics statistically participate in both. As clear as Jewish law is on the dietary rules, most Jews do not keep kosher. As clear as evangelical preaching in many denominations is that Christ is essential to salvation, most people say all good people go to heaven, regardless of their faith or lack of same. What percent of people called upon to tithe do so?
Even if Ibrahim were correct, if the legal experts he consulted are the only and most widely accepted experts, it’s doubtful that most American Muslims — as Ibrahim himself told me in our phone interview — pay any attention to the “jihadist” branding of giving “in the path of Allah.”
As for giving only to Muslims, there are ample examples in many communities of Muslim generosity to all neighbors in need.
DO YOU FOLLOW … the rules of your religion “religiously?”