Frequently Asked Questions
1. About MAB
2. Shariah (Islamic Law)
3. Islam, Modernity and Democracy
4. About Terrorism
5. World Events
6. Shia and Sunni
7. Relations with external personalities
8. Other Questions
If your question about the Muslim Association of Britain, or about Muslims or Islam is not answered here, then you are more than welcome to send you question direct to us. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. About MAB
What is the Muslim Association of Britain?
The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) is a British organisation founded in 1997. We are dedicated to serving society by promoting the accepted mainstream understanding of Islam with its spiritual teachings, ideals, civil concepts and moral values, all directed towards serving humanity. MAB seeks to reach out to people using reasoned and logically grounded argument.
Does MAB support a political party in the UK?
MAB is a non-partisan entity. MAB does not support nor is it directly affiliated to any of the political parties in the UK. However, MAB supports the democratic principle of universal suffrage and encourages all members of society, which includes Muslims to participate in the electoral voting process. MAB believes that it is essential for all citizens to use the democratic apparatus for engaging in society and promoting change.
Does MAB run Mosques?
Our association is responsible for the upkeep, maintenance and management of a few mosques [masajid] throughout the UK. MAB also works closely with other mosques or trusts that manage mosques.
Is MAB a branch or part of the Muslim Brotherhood?
The Muslim of Association of Britain is an independent non-profit making British organisation. It has its own constitution, bylaws and regulations. MAB shares some of the main principles that the Muslim Brotherhood stands for; like upholding democracy, freedom of the individual, social justice and the creation of a civil society. Our association works closely with Muslim and non-Muslim groups of all denominations towards our common goal of “Building Society and Creating Hope.”
Can MAB help me to get a job or pay for me to study?
No. We are not in a position to provide employment or assist individuals who wish to study. Almost all of our members work on a purely voluntary basis. Within MAB, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer. If you would like to volunteer your skills, time or services, please contact us. Click here to found ways of contacting us.
I need charity, can MAB provide me with financial assistance?
MAB does not normally provide financial support or relief but encourages all its members to give generously and to support causes in the UK and around the world.
Is MAB an Islamist organisation?
MAB is not an Islamist organisation nor does it support or endorse Islamist ideology. Rather, MAB is involved in propagating Islam to its members by providing talks and lectures, visits and outings and by providing informative articles and comments about issues of current affairs or news relevant to the British Muslim society in particular and to the wider British society as a whole. MAB believes that being a Muslim isn’t contradictory to being actively involved in all aspects of society. The notion that there is a “political Islam” and a “non-political Islam” is fundamentally refuted by MAB.
2. About Shariah (Islamic Law)
What is Shariah?
Shariah comes from an Arabic word meaning “path to the water.” Shariah is often translated as “Islamic law,” which is not wrong, but incomplete. Shariah is divine guidance that is drawn from the Qur’an and Sunnah (teachings and guidance of Prophet Muhammad) for the purpose of helping humanity to worship and draw close to God, and live with love, kindness, and justice towards His Creation.
Shariah has six main objectives: to protect life, property, lineage, religion, honour and intellect. The overarching objective is to establish social justice, fairness, mercy and security in societies.
Shariah rulings or religious commandments are similar to the Ten Commandments. Both claim divine authority, but require human interpretation. It is within the human interpretation that there arises differences of opinion amongst scholars and students of knowledge.
Some of the rulings relate to social matters, others relate to financial dealings; and of these, a few intersect with governance.
Is MAB radical? Does MAB call for the implementation of Shariah?
MAB is a British organization working to serve society. It is neither a radical organisation nor does it call for the implementation of shariah law in the UK. In Muslim majority countries, MAB believes it is the right of the masses to choose Shariah if they wish; and their democratic decision should be respected.
MAB informs British citizens -of all backgrounds- that it is an obligation of them to operate within, adhere to and to fully respect the laws of our country – the UK; and should abide by it.
3. Islam, Modernity and Democracy:
Is Islam at odds with modernity and democracy?
There is nothing about modernity in general that Islamic teachings are opposed to. In fact, many aspects of modernity, such as the use of science, reasoning, and invention as a means for improving our lives are in line with the Islamic ideology that led to the flowering of science and learning at the height of Islamic civilization. In turn, this blossoming of science and learning contributed to the European Renaissance. Muslims also have a tradition of ijtihad (independent thinking) which facilitates reform and reinterpretation. When nurtured by enlightened scholars, ijtihad revitalizes Islamic societies and moves them forward. Islam is a universal religion compatible with different times and places, with the ability to adopt whatever is positive and good and to modify or avoid what is detrimental. However, Muslims, like members of other religious groups, question some of the specific aspects of modernity that Islam, like other religions, is not compatible with. These include the rejection of the belief in God, or other moral values that have been challenged or rejected in the modern era. Additionally, diverse and multiple groups, including some Muslims in a post-modern era, are increasing pointing out the devastating effects that modernity and its accompanying technological advances, when influenced only by factors relating to economic profit and short-term gain, have had upon our environment and the world.
There is nothing in the Islamic teachings that contradicts the ideals of democracy. On the contrary, there are Islamic principles such as the concept of shura, or “mutual consensus,” that reflect the ideals of democracy. Beyond shura, there is no specified form of Islamic governance.
As we witnessed during the 2011 Arab Spring, people throughout the Arab world in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria have risked their lives in their struggle for freedom and democratic change in their countries. A 2011 Pew poll shows that a majority of Muslims in the world desire democracy. Today, many Muslim-populated countries are experiencing democratic transformations, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Turkey. Where democracy does not exist, it is usually because of post-colonial dictators who have maintained their rule against the will of the people.
It is also important to remember that even in the West, democracy is a recent phenomenon that developed after centuries of despotic rulers. In the U.S., the road to a more representative democracy has been gradual, as initially only propertied white men were allowed to vote. Whites without property, African Americans, and women had to fight to gain this right which they achieved only gradually.
4. About Terrorism
What is the Islamic view on terrorism?
Terrorism, defined as the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes, directly contradicts Islamic teachings, which prohibit targeting civilians, even in war. In Islamic law, fighting should only be between armies (combatants), and should not involve non-combatants. In fact, Islam prohibits targeting infrastructure that affects the lives of non-combatants, such as food sources, water, hospitals, roads, bridges, and other necessities of a civilian population. Terrorism is close to the Qur'anic term "hiraba" which is defined as "sowing corruption and chaos on earth," and considered one of the most grievous crimes.
Based on the above, MAB has always been quick to condemn all terrorism, to include that which is state-sponsored.
Is there anything in Islam that leads to suicide bombings or terrorism?
Nothing in Islamic scriptures or teachings leads to terrorism or suicide bombings, nor has it ever been part of the ethos of Islam's 1400 years of history and traditions. This is a modern day aberration that, according to Time magazine, was first adopted as a strategy in the Middle East by George Habash (an atheist), with the first hijacking committed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1968. That fact that Muslims follow his tactics does not make his purely secular strategy an Islamic one.
Firstly, suicide is strongly prohibited in Islam because no one has the right to take away the life that God has given, except God Himself. Secondly, committing terrorist acts, which kill innocent civilians, is also prohibited. Even during war, it is prohibited to target civilians, particularly women, children, old people, and members of the clergy. Islam also forbids cutting down trees, killing animals, and destroying infrastructure. Islamic teachings about war are similar to the Christian concept of a "Just War," which is fought in self-defense or on behalf of the oppressed, not as an act of aggression. Such a conflict must similarly be fought between two groups of military personnel, not with civilians.
Terrorism is totally condemned by all mainstream Islamic scholars. Those who do endorse terrorism either have no Islamic credentials or legitimate standing among the masses. Their doctrines represent individual views that have been adopted by other disaffected, uneducated, or mis-educated people as regards to their religion.
What is MAB position of Suicide Bombing?
MAB view on suicide bombing is emphatic. Islam condemns suicide as much as it condemns oppression and aggression against others. While the Muslims are commanded to stand for their rights and defend themselves, their properties and their freedom they are told to first resort to peaceful means, advocate tolerance and disregard ignorance. MAB condemns suicide bombing wherever it is practiced, giving no exceptions to any land or region.
What is Jihad?
Jihad is an Arabic word, which is often mistranslated as "holy war," a concept, which does not exist in Arabic. The Arabic words for holy war "harb muqadasa," are not found anywhere in the Qur’an or hadith (prophetic sayings). The term jihad literally means "striving.” The "greater jihad" is described as the internal struggle to avoid negative actions and cultivate good character. The "lesser jihad" is described as the external striving for justice, in self-defense or against oppression. One can do this in one's heart, with one's tongue or pen, and if these are ineffective, by physically trying to change an oppressive situation, either in self-defense or to defend others against aggression (like the Revolutionary War by the founding fathers against the oppressive policies of the British; or World War II against the aggression of Hitler.) It is this last type of jihad that is misappropriated by extremist Muslims who cite jihad to justify terrorism. In reality, terrorism is the opposite of jihad, and closer to another Qur’anic term, hiraba, which means “corruption on earth.”
5. World Events
How does MAB react to the World events?
We believe we are citizens of the world and should be able to comment on any event, whilst at the same time working towards helping those who need our support and those working for justice.
6. Shia and Sunni:
What is the main difference between Sunnis and Shias?
The main difference originated from the question of succession after the death of the Prophet Muhammad and is related to differing views about appropriate leadership for the Muslim community. Shi’as believe that succession to the spiritual and political rule of the Muslim community lies only with the family and certain descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. Sunnis believe that the Muslim community is free to choose whoever appears to be the most qualified person. Shi’as believe that God chose Muhammad’s cousin Ali, who was married to his daughter Fatima, to be the Prophet Muhammad’s successor, and that Muhammad formally announced this before his death. Shi’as also view Ali as the first in a line of Imams, or preeminent religious leaders, whom they regard as the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad. In contrast, Sunnis believe that Muhammad did not appoint any particular person to be his spiritual or political successor; and that the senior Muslims chose Abu Bakr As-Sideeq to be the successor (Caliph).
Other theological differences exist between the two, many stemming from their divergent views of leadership, the role of the Imams, and resulting variations in beliefs and practices. However, both mainstream Sunnis and Shi’as share the core beliefs of Islam—the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad—and adhere to the five pillars.
7. Relations with external personalities
Why did MAB invite Anwar Awlaki?
Anwar Awlaki was a US citizen. He was invited here in 2004. He had not come to the attention of the authorities and therefore, he entered the country legally to give lectures and talks. At that time, Awlaki did not demonstrate any signs of extremism nor did he use any hateful rhetoric. The tour was informative and beneficial to those who attended. MAB does not bear any responsibility for any statements that he subsequently made that were deemed inappropriate or any alleged action that he later did in connection with or which resulted terrorist action.
What is MAB’s view of Yusuf Qaradawi?
MAB recognises Qaradawi as a respected, knowledgeable scholar of Islam. Qaradawi has contributed positively to the modern Islamic discourse in many ways.
In Islam, everyone may make sound or incorrect judgments or fatwas. No one’s words are binding on Muslims, except that of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace.
If a scholar makes an error in his judgment or opinion, this definitely does not mean that he/she should be alienated or disrespected.
8. Other Questions:
What is halal?
Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. While the term is used in relation to many aspects of life, when specifically used in relationship to food, halal refers to any food product that is not prohibited. In reference to meat products, halal means that the animal was slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines, which include reciting God's name over the animal before slaughter, and draining all the blood from the animal. This practice is similar to the guidelines set by Jewish law that classify meat prepared in this manner as ‘Kosher’. It is common to find halal butcher shops or restaurants in most major cities in the UK.
What is MAB's stance on homosexuality?
MAB considers that people from the LGBT community should be treated with dignity, respect and should never be mistreated, abused or discriminated against because of their sexuality.
MAB follows the teachings of Islam and the Quran that clearly state that same-sex intercourse is a sin. Many schools of thought regard the act in the same way as fornication or adultery. Therefore, a Muslim who commits homosexual acts is committing a sin; yet this doesn’t expel him outside the fold of Islam. Asserting that homosexuality is a sin isn’t and shouldn’t be a reason for homophobia, which MAB clearly rejects.
About Interfaith dialogue
What is MAB’s position on interfaith dialogue?
MAB supports initiatives, which result in intra or interfaith dialogue. Our association considers that this is one of the most effective ways of reducing tension between religious denominations.
Some of the answers have been adapted from http://www.ing.org/top-100-faq-about-muslims-their-faith