Interpreting Shariah Law Across The Centuries

Sadakat Kadri is an English barrister, a Muslim by birth and a historian. His first book, The Trial, was an extensive survey of the Western criminal judicial system, detailing more than 4,000 years of courtroom antics.

In his new book, Heaven on Earth, Kadri turns his sights east, to centuries of Shariah law. The first parts of his book describe how early Islamic scholars codified — and then modified — the code that would govern how people lead their daily lives. Kadri then turns to the modern day, reflecting on the lawmakers who are trying to prohibit Shariah law in a dozen states, as well as his encounters with scholars and imams in India, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Iran — the very people who strictly interpret the religious and moral code of Islam today. And some of those modern interpretations, he says, are much more rigid — and much more draconian — than the code set forth during the early years of Islamic law.

Islamic law is shaped by hadiths, or reports about what Prophet Muhammad said and did. The hadiths, says Kadri, govern how Muslims should pray, treat criminals and create medications, among other things.

Iran reissues death sentence for Canada resident

News Agencies – January 19, 2011

Iran’s Supreme Court has reinstated a death sentence against an Iranian resident of Canada who had been accused of running a pornographic website, a lawyer working on the case. The death sentence meted out to Saeed Malekpour was reinstated by the court, after it had reportedly been annulled in June. Malekpour, a 36-year-old computer programmer, was sentenced to death in December 2010 after being found guilty of “designing and moderating adult content websites,” “agitation against the regime,” and “insulting the sanctity of Islam,” according to his supporters.

The Canadian government protested the verdict, which the Supreme Court then reportedly annulled in June 2011. Malekpour’s supporters say he developed a program that allows photographs to be posted to the Internet, which was used without his knowledge for the creation of porn sites. A resident of Canada since 2004, Malekpour was arrested in Iran in 2008 while visiting his dying father.

Op Ed suggests that Canada is a haven for Iran’s elite

Toronto Star – November 21, 2011

This opinion piece by Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, and founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre  suggests that Canada is the haven of choice for the Islamic Republic’s inner circle.

He says it is ironic that while Ahmadinejad condemns “western imperialism,” his inner circle has quietly established itself in Canada to enjoy ill-gotten fortunes with impunity. A recent example is the former head of Iran’s Melli and Sepah Banks, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, who acquired Canadian citizenship under questionable circumstances and then fled this October to his multi-million-dollar Toronto mansion following a $2.6 billion embezzlement scandal in Iran. Akhavan suggests that their presence may benefit the economy, but is clearly a security threat.

At the Met, a New Vision for Islam in Hostile Times: A Cosmopolitan Trove of Exotic Beauty

Over the past decade, many Americans have based their thoughts and feelings about Islam in large part on a single place: the blasted patch of ground where the World Trade Center once stood. But a rival space has slowly and silently taken shape over those same years, about six miles to the north. It is a vast, palacelike suite of rooms on the second floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where some of the world’s most precious Islamic artifacts sit sequestered behind locked doors.

When the Met’s Islamic galleries first opened in 1975, they were presented as a cultural monolith, where nations and cultures were subsumed under one broad banner, as if Islam were another planet. Haidar and her colleagues have tried to emphasize the diversity of Islamic cultures across time and space. One result of that altered emphasis was the gallery’s new name. The “Islamic Wing” is gone, replaced by the “Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia.” It is a mouthful, but it makes a point.

Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, asks Iran to free 2 US hikers

MINNEAPOLIS — Yusuf Islam, the British musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, is calling for the release of two American hikers charged with spying in Iran.

A video of Islam pleading for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to be freed on humanitarian and justice grounds has been posted on YouTube. He says they should be released if there’s no clear evidence they’re anything other than hikers.

Another prominent western Muslim, former boxing champ Muhammad Ali, has written to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei twice on the hikers’ behalf.

Prosecutors defend Islamic charity case conviction

Federal prosecutors acknowledged that the government blundered in the prosecution of Pete Seda, an Oregon man convicted of helping to smuggle money through an Islamic charity, but said Friday that the errors weren’t serious enough for a new trial. Court documents filed late Friday contain the government’s first accounting for its failure to tell defense lawyers for Seda that the FBI paid a Southern Oregon man for information and discussed paying the informant’s wife, who was a witness against Seda.

Seda, born in Iran, is a U.S. citizen convicted in September of tax fraud and conspiracy. He was accused of helping to smuggle $150,000 out of the country 11 years ago through the arm of the Al-Haramain charity he operated in Ashland—the charity was declared a terrorist organization by the government. The government said the money was meant for Muslims fighting the Russians in Chechnya.

Toronto becomes an “underground railroad” for gay Iranian Refugees

November 19, 2010

Arsham Parsi escaped Iran five years ago and has since assisted 50 gay Iranians to safety in Canada (and consulting on 250 other cases) with the COSTI Immigration services in downtown Toronto. The arrival of lesbian and gay refugees to Canada is difficult. Temporary asylum can be even more damaging than the persecution refugees face in their home countries, said Rachel Tribe, a senior lecturer at the University of East London’s School of Psychology. Separation from family, the loss of socio-economic status and the inability to speak the language can lead to crippling depression.

In 2010 Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney increased the quota of government-assisted refugees in Turkey who are invited to Canada from 475 to 640. The two most prominent groups that need resettlement help are “refugees from Iraq who are fleeing persecution, and gays, lesbians and dissidents who have had to flee Iran,” Kenney said.

Mosque Bans

23 October 2010

In this article, Michael Prüller highlights the inherent problems associated with attempts to ban mosques: not only is reciprocity absurd (the lack of Christian churches in Iran should not have an impact on Indonesian Muslims in the Netherlands), but is goes against the very idea of human rights. However, he draws attention to an “elegant solution” proposed in Norway: while religious freedoms cannot be restricted, funding for mosques that comes from countries where those religious freedoms are not respected (such as Saudi Arabia), can be curtailed.

Dutch Court Upholds Ramadan’s Dismissal

August 11 2010

A Dutch court has ruled that the city council of Rotterdam was within its legal rights in dismissing academic Tariq Ramadan in August 2009. The prominent Islamic philosopher lost his job as city integration officer due to participation in a television program for a broadcast company financed by Iran. Ramadan, who was asking fo 75,000 euros for wrongful dismissal, is to appeal the decision.

Toronto, Canada link to Iran’s Haircut Policy

The Advertising and Marketing Association of Canada is active in Tehran. At an Iranian news conference earlier this month the association’s head, Afshin Nemati, helped spread word that Iran’s government is cracking down on unacceptable haircuts on men. He took questions on news clips shown around the world, explaining what sorts of haircuts will be acceptable in that country.

Nemati claims to live in Toronto and his business website states he has a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from York University. Yet, York does not offer a Doctor of Business Administration, and its registrar’s office has no record of Nemati. Members of Toronto’s Iranian diaspora, including a Toronto man who just learned his phone is listed as Nemati’s contact number, want to know why a group with such a name, and that uses the Canadian flag as its logo, would be advising the Iranian government about acceptable haircuts for men.

The involvement of an apparently fake Canadian organization, especially one without any actual presence here, also concerns York political science professor Saeed Rahnema.