9th May 2024
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Statement on Palestine from North Carolina Academics

We, faculty from 19 colleges and universities across NC, are writing to strongly condemn Israeli attacks on historic Palestine, from the bombing of the Gaza Strip to the forced evictions in East Jerusalem, and to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people in their just struggle for liberation. We view this struggle for liberation as closely entwined with many struggles for racial and Indigenous justice in America, from Ferguson to Standing Rock. We reaffirm our commitment to combating racism in all its forms, including anti-Blackness, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Asian racism.
Although there are a lot of verses in the Qur’an endorsing the notions of freedom, tolerance, diversity, and pluralism, all of these verses were abrogated by the Sword Verse, according to some major classical Sunni scholars. In Shi’a Islam, however, none of these verses were abrogated; the Qur’anic arguments on freedom and diversity are always valid since they are an essential part of faith; they cannot be abrogated. The political teachings of Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abi Ṭalib are very supportive of diversity and pluralism in the modern sense.
‘Freedom of religion’ is a strong principle in Islam. The Qur’an neither mentions nor prescribes any temporal punishment for apostasy. No one during the time of the Prophet was killed solely for apostasy. Abolishing all types of temporal punishments for apostasy: Acknowledgement of the alteration of the subject and context; the invalidity of akhbār al-haād in matters of critical importance such as the life of a human being; the invalidity of hadiths that run counter to Qur’anic dictates; and the abrogation of the punishments for apostasy because of ‘impairing’ Islam.
The book starts with shedding light on the the regulations of Assembly of Experts. The approval of the regulations relevant to Article 111 of the constitution (the right to supervise, impeach and depose the Leader) remains the greatest achievement of the Assembly to date. Both of Leaders of the I.R.I. refrained from any kind of cooperation with the ‘Panel of Investigation’. The most prominent advocator of actual religious authority as a binding requirement for qualifying a Leader was S. Ali Khamenei. He disqualified the leadership of himself 3 years earlier!
Human Rights and Reformist Islam translates the influential collection Haqq al-nas, and critiques traditional Islamic approaches to the question of compatibility between human rights and Islam, and argues instead for their reconciliation from the perspective of a reformist Islam. The book focuses on six controversial case studies: religious discrimination; gender discrimination; slavery; freedom of religion; punishment of apostasy; and arbitrary or harsh punishments. Critically compares Kadivar’s approach to Islam and human rights with those of five leading contemporary scholars: Mahmoud Taha, Abdullahi an-Na’im, Ann Mayer, Mohammad Shabestari and Abdulaziz Sachedina.
Take a front-row seat to the debate on blasphemy and apostasy in Islam: a. Presents a back-and-forth debate between two Shi’a jurists (one conservative, one reformist) that locates the exact points of controversy surrounding apostasy and blasphemy; b. Engages with the broader subjects of religious freedom and human rights, addressing both secular and religious interests; c. Articulates the secular–religious divide and proposes a pluralistic solution, making a case that apostasy and blasphemy are non-existent in the Qur'an; d. Packed with translations of primary sources, including fatwas and interviews.
The collected works of Āqā ‘Ali Modarres was published twice in the span of nineteen years. The present book is the review of the second edition by the editor of the first one that was selected as the Book of the Year in 1999 and the Leader of the I.R.I. removed it. It represents the evidence of plagiarism, violation of moral rights, and a waste of public purse. After 12 years of having all his publications banned in Iran, this is Kadivar’s first print publication released in Germany.
The first question arises when the non-Christians or non-Western societies want to apply secularization in the processes of their modernization: ‘what is the precise meaning of secularization? or what are its major connotations?’ Is non-secular modernization possible, without a decline in religious beliefs and practices, without privatization of religion, and even without separation of church and state? Is secularism an end in itself, or is it a means to some other end? Which kind of religion do humans need? By whom are the categories of religion and the secular defined?
Ayatollah Khomeini expanded the domain of fiqh and Shari’a to include all political, social, economic, personal, public, cultural, and even the military affairs. He thought that fiqh had a comprehensive capacity to promote the jurist to the position of an absolute ruler, who is the final decision maker after consulting with experts. He tried to compensate the shortcomings of fiqh by adapting the public interest. We may reverse his theory, and appoint the elected experts as the final decision makers who consult the jurists! Jurisprudence doesn’t have such big capability.
I am from the Rest and now I am speaking in the West. Human rights and democracy for the others (the Rest) are not the first priority from Western perspective. We cannot generalize our understanding of Western white Christianity for all religions in the globe. Isn’t liberalism an ideology itself? we can have different approaches to religion. We need to be accepting of diversity, pluralism, existence of the others (tolerance) and equal rights. The Rest are in the margin, while the West are in the center and more equal!
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