The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Imam El Sadi condemns Boko Haram kidnapping

Malta Independent Wednesday, 4 June 2014, 11:30 Last update: about 5 years ago

Boko Haram is responsible for the kidnapping of some 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria, for undertaking a Western education. The group is also responsible for the bombing and murder of numerous people in the region.

The Imam explained that haram in Arabic means prohibited. The killing of people on the basis of religion is against the true meaning of Islam, he said. Islamic extremists and terrorists are the enemies of Islam, the Imam added. “Some people will believe that these actions form part of true Islamic behaviour, and it is not”. “Islam respects human life, religious freedom and the sanctity of religious places”.

Apostasy

Recent events in Sudan have seen Meriam Ibrahim sentenced to death for Apostasy (the abandonment of her religion). Her Islamic father died when she was six and she was brought up by her Christian mother. The sentence also ordered that she receive 100 lashes and remain alive until her newly born child reaches the age of two. Her Christian husband is not allowed to take custody of their 20-month-old son as he is not Muslim. As such, the boy is currently in jail with his mother.

Imam El Sadi commented on the situation. “Islam is built on conviction not force. People are free to embrace or leave Islam. I am personally against any penalty for those who choose to leave Islam. Instead of punishing them, we should open up a dialogue to uncover their reasons for leaving. In the end, everybody is free because religion is a personal choice”.

A sentence similar to that if Mrs Ibrahim can be given for Apostasy whilst rebelling against the government, Mr El Sadi argued. “Those deserve the punishment. People who peacefully leave the religion should not be harmed”.

Islamic women not allowed to wed outside religion

Islam permits Muslim men to marry Christian or Jewish women due to a number of common points found in all three religions, the Imam said, although it is forbidden for an Islamic woman to marry outside of her religion. “Islam teaches that the husband should leave his wife at liberty to embrace Islam or keep her religion. The reason for Islamic women not being permitted to marry men is fear of degradation of the wife’s religion”.

There are hundreds of these mixed marriages in Malta, however most fail he said. “Marriage between a man and a woman of the same faith fair better, but you cannot control the heart”. The Imam tries to help these mixed couples learn how to live and understand each other’s religions.

Children brought up in mixed marriages must be brought up as Muslims, Mr El Sadi said. “The father is convinced that Islam is the true religion so of course he would bring up the child believing in Islam. The Christian woman should know this beforehand and the husband should inform her prior to marriage”.

Sharia law

Violent actions against those found guilty of committing certain crimes are justified, the Imam added. “It’s not violence, its Justice.  God is the absolute justice and the laws of God are perfect. The question is who rules the world, man or God? Islam considers God as the lawmaker. The severity of punishments act as a deterrent against future crimes. You cannot question the wisdom of God. Such penalties existed in the bible, but are not practiced”.

Sharia law is only practiced in Islamic society not in a non-Islamic society, the Imam said. “In Malta, the Muslims attempt to practice certain prospects of Sharia law relating to marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance. Should there be a clash, then we follow local laws”.

Debt forgiven, subsidies paid

The Maltese government had forgiven the €400,000 debt to the Islamic school in Malta and is currently handing out €300,000 a year in subsidies. “We are possibly the only Islamic school in the world with a Christian headmistress,” Mr El Sadi explained.

The majority of students at the school are Maltese and the curriculum follows that thought in other schools around the island. “This school helps Muslims integrate into society and supports the ideal of them becoming good Maltese Muslim citizens”.

There are around 10,000 Muslims living in Malta, the Imam explained. “This number includes a number of Maltese who have converted to Islam”.

Discrimination and post 9/11

Following 9/11, Islamophobia spread across the Western world. “Although 9/11 had negative effects on the Muslim communities in Europe and America, it also helped spread curiosity about our religion. People were motivated to learn more about Islam and read the Koran. Yes it affects Muslims but does not affect Islam, the religion of God, the religion of truth. Islam is growing everywhere,” he said.  Islamophobia is an ignorance and lack of knowledge regarding the teaching of Islam, the Imam explained. He emphasised that should they realise that all humans are sons and daughters of Adam and Eve they will realise that Islam is not their enemy.

Discrimination against Muslims occurs here, in Malta. “Although I have not personally faced any form of discrimination, a number of Muslims have come to me and complained about the difficulty on finding housing and not being allowed to rent on the basis of their religion. Women also suffer, where places of work look down on them for wearing the headscarf, or require them to remove it whilst at work. This is injustice. The differential treatment of a person because of their religion or the colour of a person’s skin is inhumane. It is an affront to God” Mr El Sadi explained.

“Islam is in favour of democracy and tolerance. We cannot divide the world into two blocs, one Islamic and the other Christian. We are citizen of the same countries with different religions. We have no choice but to live in peace and work to improve the countries we live in,” the Imam added.

Mr El Sadi told a story regarding the 2nd Caliphate Omar, who travelled from Medina to Jerusalem and visited the Church situated on the site where Jesus ascended to heaven. When the time for prayer was due, the Caliphate went outside as he refused to pray inside the church. The Caliphate feared praying inside the church, for if he did, then one day a Muslim fanatic might come and attempt to transform the church into a Mosque.

Women

Women are highly respected in Islam, the Mr El Sadi explained. “In my case, my wife leads the household,” he said sarcastically. Women have the same rights as men, they can work, take part in political activities and a woman’s property is her own, he added. “In Islam, prostitution is outlawed so one can say that we have a higher respect for women when compared to most”.

“Islam doesn’t want people to be slaves, we want people to be free,” he concluded.

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