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Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway Addresses the Conscience Plenary

Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway addressed the Conscience Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

God wants us to know each other, to serve each other, and to respect our differences. A theology of living one’s neighbor is sublime but it needs a theology of justice as infrastructure as a prerequisite. The following verse reflects the antithesis of Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” and Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History and the Last Man.”

“O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.”

It is attributed to Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him, that he said people are either your brothers in faith or your brothers in humanity and of course sisters in faith and sisters in humanity.

This talk is about the nature of human rights in the Islamic world not about the practice of Muslim societies. Of course, as much as these wonderful minutes permit, the primary sources are the Holy Quran and the prophetic Sunnah, the prophetic traditions, along with the consensus of the scholars and analogical reasons. The law giver is God and the role of scholars who are law keepers is to understand and present the law to the best of their knowledge. The letter also means that Muslims have differences with other faiths and traditions, even when the people of the book preserve their original revealed law the Quran stipulates that God has ascribed a law that is unique to each in certain areas. We have revealed to you Oh Prophet this book with the truth as a confirmation of previous scriptures and a supreme authority on them. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their desires over the truth that has come to you. To each of you, we have ordained a code of law and a way of life. When it comes to the laws of the Torah there are cross references to them in the Quran. Regarding the law, it is more of a Judeo-Islamic tradition rather than as Louis Massignon put it Judeo-Christian. A construct that fails to show that Christians abolished the law of Moses early on through our interpretation of Jesus Christ’s nature, Peace be upon him, as fulfillment to the law to the degree that it is not required of his followers. This despite Jesus Christ led to uphold the law both in the Gospel and in the Quran. 

It is worth noting that the etymological origins of Halakha in Hebrew and Sharia in Arabic are identical. On the other hand, shared commonalities in the belief in Jesus Christ peace upon him despite the serious differences are not shared with Judaism at all The contemporary Abrahamic religions construct services on pragmatic political purposes Abraham was a recipient of divine revelation and scripture and was not the source of any of these religions himself. 

We also share the same challenges coming from a positivist worldview without the transcendental outlook. It could lead to nihilism and an end to the revealed sense of normativity that existed for millennia. The way forward is respect to the fundamental right to be different and conventia without coercion. Let there be no compulsion in religion, the Quran says. It is not the intention here to offend anyone. Do not argue with the people of the book unless gracefully.

The human being was created to fulfill the role of Khalifa. This is not the political office that emerged historically after the death of the Prophet, peace upon him. It is understood in the story of Adam’s creation to act positively upon the God-given universe without shedding blood and causing corruption on Earth. The human being was given language to facilitate this life to worship God and to serve humanity. Language is important to understand the revealed message for humanity was not left to its own to decipher its role and way of life. God honored, dignified, and ennobled all the children of Adam in the Holy Quran and it is imperative to uphold this dignity. This is an essential human right. This entails respect for all races, colors, tongues that is, languages, the profound categories of female and male, and the coexistence of the various religions and creeds. This is an essential part of the Islamic faith to believe in the previous prophets and to confirm their original revealed messages. As for the colors and tongues, they are signs pointing to the wisdom of the Creator. 

Tolerance If you can find the original use of this, which entails endurance with pain falls short they are to be celebrated. and one of his signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and colors. surely and these are signs for those of sound knowledge. The Prophet, peace upon him, confirmed this solid anti-racial position in his farewell address. All humans are descended from Adam. There is no superiority of an Arab over an Arab and no superiority of a white person over a black person or a black person over a white person except for piety righteousness. The prophet in the same farewell address reminded his nascent community of women’s rights, that men should be kind to them, that their marriage took place in the light of divine permission and Trust. 

Muslim women have the right to be financially independent 1400 years ago and that within marriage her wealth remains hers and her husband shoulders the responsibility for all Financial upkeep of the family unless she freely and willfully decides to contribute. A woman has the right to inheritance as a mother, daughter, or wife. She inherits the same, less, more. In some cases she inherits and the man does not. She has the right to participate in every sector in the society. The practical prophetic practice was such that the house chores are genderless, for he patched his own clothes, fixed his own shoes, was tidy, and in one tradition he used to do at home what his family did. Thank you.

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