Friday, December 30, 2011
Reliance of the Traveller
(Hat tip to Wet Paint)
There is a bit of controversy going around regarding a certain Islamic book entitled, "Reliance of the Traveller and Tools for the Worshipper", a book originally written in the Arabic by a respected Islamic scholar Ahmed Ibn Naqib al-Misri (d., 1368) and edited/translated by American Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller (b. 1954). Written for the Muslim reader, it is a guide to living according to (Shafi'i)Islamic law. It covers a wide range of rules for Islamic living.
One thing that is important to note is that the work produced by Keller has been given a seal of approval, if you will, by Al Ahzar University in Cairo, the oldest and most prestigious center of Islamic teaching in the world. It is reportedly the first such work in a language other than Arabic to be certified by Al-Azhar University.
It is important to note that Keller translated and edited this work since many arguments abound over how a certain work has been translated from the original Arabic (the Koran, for example). In the text, you might note there is a reference to modern religions (founded since this work was written by al-Misri) such as Baha'i and Mormonism, which are not considered in the same vein as Islam, Judaism or Christianity. Clearly, that is added by Keller. Below is a review of the book by an Islamic source, Sunni Path in English:
Below is the actual text of the book itself in pdf format. Near the end, the work (Book O), it deals with issues such as apostacy, its punishments (Book O 8.), jihad (Book O 9.), and treatment of non-Muslims -dhimmitud (Book O 11). As to jihad, the book clarifies the two kinds of jihad, as defined by the Prophet Mohammed, the greater jihad, which is the inner spiritual struggle, and the lesser jihad-fighting against non-believers. (Book O deals with Justice issues.)
If you are wondering where this book may be found in the US, Kamala, writing on the blog Wet Paint, tells us that the Muslim Community Association of the San Francisco Bay area is (MCA) is offering it on its website. The highly critical article also features another book entitled "Man-Made Laws vs. Shariah".
I recommend focusing on Book O and examining the credentials of the original writer (al-Misri) and the editor/translator (Keller). Then I would welcome comments as to how seriously we should take the references mentioned in Book O. Especially, I would welcome comments from my Muslim readers. (I know you are out there.) Let us have a serious and civil discussion. Is this prose something that was only relevant to a period during the time of the Prophet Mohammed (or the time of al-Misri)? Or is it applicable today?