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Imam Zaid Shakir, the Muslim-American co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California deleted a post on his popular Facebook page after receiving backlash for suggesting Sharia law should be applied in judging if Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh are credible.
“I do not support the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States,” he began. “My position, however, is based neither on the accusations nor the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.”
Shakir said he did not support Kavanaugh because he believes “he lied under oath” and is “too politically partisan to sit on the Supreme Court.”
Shakir went on to explain that he believes Ford’s allegations “cannot be used as evidence against Judge Kavanaugh.” He based his reasoning on “Muslim teachings” from the Qur’an, citing verse 24:4 which says “Those who bring charges of sexual improprieties against chaste women, then fail to come forth with four corroborating witnesses, lash them eighty times and never again accept their testimony. Such are truly corrupt.”
He also cited following verses which warn against alleging accusations without witnesses and claim those who do so “are liars in the sight of God.”
“The honor these verses are designed to protect is real, as are the condemnations they issue, as well as the punishments they threaten,” Shakir wrote. “If anyone can randomly produce vile accusations against anyone they please, and the only standard assessing the veracity of those accusations is our subjective feeling concerning the credibility of the accuser or the accused, none of us would be safe against the impugnment of his or her honor.”
Shakir warned against attacking Ford, but claimed “we are to remain silent and if we chose to speak it should be along the lines of the skepticism mentioned in the above-quotes verses and not in the voice of blind acceptance.”
The post was later deleted after backlash but Shakir followed-up in an additional post where he claimed he deleted the original because he “misused verses from the Qur’an to support an argument that would have been more correctly supported by another verse” and because “some people, especially sisters have been harmed and I am not in the business of harming people.”
In another follow-up post he walked back his claim that Ford needed four witnesses and said “anyone accusing someone of sexual violence, such as attempted rape, need not bring forth four witnesses to corroborate their claim. Furthermore, they are clear of any crime or sin unless after a proper investigation the accuser is proven to have lied.”
“While I apologize for that lack of clarity and any hurt it may have caused, I do warn against diminishing the power of patience and prayer,” he added. “There is always more that can be said about any issue, but I will take my own advice and shut up, pray, and be patient with Allah’s decree.”
“This Imam is a fundamentalist Muslim that’s expressing his opinions based on religious teachings which he was taught,” Imam Tawhidi, an Australian Muslim Scholar often called “Imam of Peace,” told The Daily Wire. “That’s what he was trained to do. He has a terrible record and preaches outdated ideologies that don’t belong in the USA.”
Here’s the full post of what Imam Zaid Shakir wrote:
On the Kavanaugh/Ford Affair
I do not support the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. My position, however, is based neither on the accusations nor the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I believe that Judge Kavanaugh perjured himself in the Judge William Pryor situation, and that he has proven to be too politically partisan to sit on the Supreme Court. While there are those who will argue that the charge against Judge Kavanaugh in the Pryor issue does not reach the level of perjury, I personally believe that Judge Kavanaugh lied under oath and that nominees to the highest court in the land should be held to the highest standards of truth.
As for Dr. Ford’s accusations, they cannot be used as evidence against Judge Kavanaugh. That is so for a number of reasons. I will confine myself to those which are rooted in Muslim teachings. We read in the Qur’an, “Those who bring charges of sexual improprieties against chaste women, then fail to come forth with four corroborating witnesses, lash them eighty times and never again accept their testimony. Such are truly corrupt” 24:4.
This verse raises several important points of discussion. First of all, Islam does have a high standard to establish proof of sexual impropriety, however, that standard, as clear from this verse, is immediately set to protect the honor of women. It is extended to include that of a man.
Secondly, some may argue that the accusation intended in this verse is that of fornication and that Dr. Ford is not accusing Judge Kavanaugh of fornication. This is true, however, an air of extreme caution should be maintained in slanderous cases involving sexual improprieties less grave than fornication or actual rape. This is affirmed by the verses immediately following the one in question. These verses involve those who started a campaign to impugn Aisha (God be pleased with her) suggesting she had been romantically involved with a young man who honorably escorted her out of the desert after she had become separated from the Prophet’s caravan (peace and blessings upon him) after the Battle of Bani al-Mustaliq.
The gravity of becoming involved in such slanderous campaigns is made clear in those verses, which are referred to as the verses of “Ifk.” We read:
“Those producing a slanderous imputation are a clique among you. Do not think [O believers] that it is bad for you; rather, it is good for you. Everyone (involved in spreading this calumny) is liable for the sin they themselves have earned, while the principal instigator will have a grave punishment. Why is it that when the believing men and women heard it they did not think well of each other and say, ‘This is an obvious lie!’ ‘Why did these accusers not bring forth four corroborating witnesses?’ In that they have not brought forth witnesses they are liars in the sight of God. Were it not for the Grace of God and His Mercy in this world and the next you would have been afflicted with a great punishment for what you involved yourself in. You unleashed your tongues in [spreading such imputations] and spoke with your mouths what you had no knowledge of. You took [such scandal-mongering lightly] while it is extremely grave with God. When you did hear it, why did you not say, ‘We have no right to speak in this matter, gloried are you O God! It is pure slander.’ God admonishes you that you never again engage in such an affair if indeed you are believers.” (24:11-17)
These standards of truth constitute essential teachings in our religion designed to help insure that our societies remain sane and governable. The honor these verses are designed to protect is real, as are the condemnations they issue, as well as the punishments they threaten. If anyone can randomly produce vile accusations against anyone they please, and the only standard of assessing the veracity of those accusations is our subjective feeling concerning the credibility of the accuser or the accused, none of us would be safe against the impugnment of his or her honor.
In light of the teachings of our religion, which also forbid the behaviors laying at the root of this crisis, it is not our place to jump into the raging debate surrounding this aspect of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, as there is not a single soul among us who can confirm that Dr. Ford is telling the truth.
Does this mean that we say are to viciously attack her as some have done? No. It means we are to remain silent and if we choose to speak it should be along the lines of the skepticism mentioned in the above-quoted verses and not with a voice of blind acceptance. In that these verses were immediately revealed to protect the honor of a woman, such an approach would be even more fitting had such slanderous charges been brought, by way of example, against the likes on Justices Elena Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor during their confirmation hearings.
It is a disservice to our people, both Muslim and American, if we join every polarizing controversy without giving any thought to clearly instructive teachings existing in our religion as to how we should approach such issues. That is so because were we to adhere to our principles of conduct we could offer alternative approaches to those sincerely searching for a viable middle ground from which to approach the many burning issues challenging our society.
Such is the case here. We do not dismiss Dr. Ford’s allegations out of hand because we believe Judge Kavanaugh is or has always been such an upstanding individual that such claims are automatically too preposterous or inconceivable to be countenanced. We do, however, demand that she produces corroborating witnesses. Were she to do so we would say she has a legitimate claim which we could support and rally behind. Since she has not we silently avoid voicing any opinion on the issue and if we do speak we do so with a skeptical voice. Other than that we can pray for her and urge her to be patient.
As for those who argue that in the name of justice we must do more than merely pray for her, I would respond that sometimes our hands are tied by the nature of the issues confronting us and that is all we can do under the circumstances. If this were the case for one greater than all of us, how could it not be our case in some instances?
When witnessing the torture of a woman, Sumayya, along her husband, Yasir, and their son, Ammar, the Prophet (peace and blessings of God upon him), realizing there was nothing he could do at that point, urged her and the members of her family to be patient: “Patience, O family of Yasir! Verily, you are promised Paradise.”
Before anyone reading this unleashes accusations of me attempting to pacify our youth or empower oppressors, let me say that this response is not always the case. If we, however, accept as a default position that we are to never urge patience and prayer in vexing situations, when our Lord has commanded us to seek His help with patience and prayer, then we have capitulated to ideas of activism and justice totally divorced from a view of reality that includes God, Heaven, Hell, Divine pleasure and punishment and otherworldly redemption, or we interpret those realities in ways which subordinate their understanding to materialistic conceptual frameworks alien to our religion.
Hence, I sincerely pray that God comforts and protects Dr. Ford and her family and if there is truth to what she alleges that corroborating witnesses come forth. Furthermore, if Judge Kavanaugh’s honor is to be impugned let it be based on what can be unequivocally confirmed from his words or actions and not on the uncorroborated accusations of others, be they male or female. May God bless us all.
Imam Zaid Shakir