Translation of the Manual of Islamic Sacred Law

Reliance of the Traveler is the classic manual of Islamic Sacred Law written by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d 1368 AD). For those of us who do not know Arabic, Nuh Ha Mim Keller provided a revised edition which shows Arabic and English in parallel (Amana publications 1991).  It is an essential resource for people studying Islam and is an important part of the Shariah, including the Quran and the Hadiths (the words and example of Mohammad). According to Wikipedia, many countries in the world use at least part of the Shariah in their legal system, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Gaza Strip, Ghana, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda, West Bank, and Yemen.  Organizations such as the Islamic State (ISIS) base their law on a strict fundamentalist version of Shariah, and there are strong movements to implement Shariah in the rest of the world, including the West.

Nuh Ha Mim Keller translated Reliance of the Traveler from Arabic into English. In the section entitled manumission (which is about all of slavery, not just about freeing slaves as the title would suggest), Keller did not translate sections K32.1, 32.2, 32.3 and 32.4. He wrote “the following four sections have been left untranslated (into English) because the issue is no longer current…” To his credit, he left the Arabic text in the book. With the increasing importance of the Shariah throughout the world, it should all be translated. After all, it is not clear that groups like ISIS consider any section in Islamic Sacred Law “not current”.

I looked on the internet for a reliable translation of these portions of the Shariah but was unable to locate one. Therefore I asked for help from some Arab friends and they provided the following:

K32.1 Women and children of the land that has been conquered are considered booty of the war and they are considered slaves. Everything belongs to the Imam first and after he takes a fifth of the booty the rest is given to the soldiers who were involved in the war. If the slave becomes a Muslim this conversion does not set him free and he will stay a slave. Captivity is the absolute consequence of Muslims war with non-Muslims and is not exclusive to elementary Jihad or defensive Jihad, even in the presence of the prophet or Imam and with their permission. If Jihad was done without the permission of prophet or Imam, all the booty is given to the Imam.

K32.2 If the father and mother were brought as slaves all the children are considered slaves. Being a slave is inherited from parents to child. If the parents convert to Islam the children will still be slaves, and they belong to the owner of their family. The master can sell the children to someone else without the parents’ consent. Male slaves and female slaves are considered the property of their master and he is allowed to treat them the way he wants. The satisfaction of the slave does not matter. The slave is responsible to keep his/her master satisfied. The slave eats, drinks and wears whatever the master decides and must live where the master says. He/she should clothe him/herself the way the master decides and speak and behave the way the master says.
K32.3 The master who owns a woman slave can use her in any way for his sexual pleasure; he can marry her if he wants. In intercourse the satisfaction of the female slave is not important at all. The female slave does not have to be Muslim convert. Even if she is pagan the sexual intercourse is Halal (permissible). A female Muslim is not allowed to have sexual relation with her slave without marriage. The male slaves are considered “mahram (impermissible, taboo)”.  The Koran has emphasized this point. The Mola (Master) not only has the right to marry his female slave without her consent but he is also allowed to lend her to another man without her consent to have sexual intercourse without marriage. He also has the authority to marry her to one of his male slaves.

K32.4 The master is allowed to cancel the marriage of his male and female slaves without “Talagh (divorce)”. It is enough for the master to order them to separate and they must obey. The female slave does not have to hide her hair, neck and head while saying Muslim prayer “Namaz “. The Hijab of the female slave must be different from those of the wife and daughters of the master.

There are other portions which Nuh Ha Mim Keller did not translate, including e1.6, e1.18, e6.5, e7.7, e10.2, e12.4, e12.11-13, e14.4, e14.8, f2.4, f4.6, f4.13, f5.9, f6.4, f8.4, f8.8, f8.26, f14.7, h2.3, h2.8, h3.8, i3.7, k4.6, k5.8, k7.4, k16.4, k23.1, k24.1, l10.7, m3.5, m3.14, m6.4, m6.6, m6.11, m7.3, m10.11, m11.15, n3.6, n4.2, n4.4, n8.2, n8.4, n9.4, n9.12, n9.20, n10.1, o3.7, o3.11, o5.3, o12.3, o13.10, o19.2, o19.4, o20.3. We will translate these as we are able in the future.

In his translation and explanation of Reliance of the Traveler, Nuh Ha Mim Keller provided a service to individuals learning about Islam. However, his unwillingness to translate all of it does a disservice to those students, others throughout the world, and Islam itself. As Muslims attempt to make Shariah a growing part of our world, they must help the rest of us to understand it, all of it, and make our own honest choices.

 

 

 

 

The Year in Disaster and Emergency History

16 Jan – In the Marcellus Flood, also known as the Grote Mandrenke (“great drowning”), up to 100,000 people died across the British Isles, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Denmark (1362).

17 Jan – Kobe, Japan was demolished by a 7.2 (Richter scale) magnitude earthquake, resulting in almost 7000 deaths and 300,000 people left homeless (1996).

28 Jan – An O-ring on the Space Shuttle Challenger leaked during lift off, sending sparks towards the main liquid fuel tank and causing a massive explosion after 73 seconds that destroyed the vehicle. The seven person crew survived, until the cockpit impacted the Atlantic Ocean after falling 10.5 miles from space (1986).

30 Jan – In the worst maritime disaster in history, the German passenger liner Wilhelm Gustloff carrying over 10,000 refuges was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea. 1236 people survived (1945).

31 Jan – A major North Sea storm raised water levels to 16 feet above normal, breaching dikes in Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium. Over 600,000 acres of farmland, 200,000 farm animals, and 2,000 people were destroyed (1953).

1 Feb – The Columbia Space Shuttle, having been damaged when some insulation penetrated the outer shell of the left wing on lift off (16 Jan), burned up on re-entry, immolating the seven astronauts on board (2003).

2 Feb – One of the greatest winter storms in history, the Groundhog Day gale hit the north Atlantic coast of the US and Canada (1976).

15 Feb – A devastating hurricane struck Hamburg, pushing record amounts of water up the Elbe River, breeching dikes and flooding large sections of the city. 340 Germans died (1962).

26 Feb – In the Buffalo Creek Flood, a dam holding coal slurry from the Pittston Coal Company burst, spilling 132,000,000 gallons of black waste water on to 16 villages, killing 125 and injuring 1100 (1972).

6 Mar – The roll-on roll-off ferry Herald of Free Enterprise, while traveling from Zeebrugge to Dover, hit a sand bar. Her cargo doors had inexplicably not been closed and so she filled with water, capsized and filled with water within minutes. The ferry held 459 passengers and 80 crew, but despite the fact that all of this happened in only 30 feet of water at the mouth of the harbor and rescue boats were nearby, 193 people still perished (1987).

10 Mar – 1099 miners in Northern France died as a result of a dust explosion in the Courrières mine disaster, the worst in European history (1906).

11 Mar – Islamic terrorists in Madrid bombed four commuter trains, killing 191 people and injuring over 2000 (2004).

11 Mar – A 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the north eastern coast of Japan caused a tsunami which inundated 433,000 square kilometers of land, killed over 11,000 people and caused serious damage to the nuclear reactors at Fukushima, which caused an atmospheric radiation release (2011).

16 Mar – The oil tanker Amoco cadiz lost rudder control and then hit a rock off the coast of France, spilling 230,000 tons of oil (1978).

18 Mar – The oil tanker Torry Canyon hit a reef off the coast of England, spilling 120,000 tons of oil into the Atlantic ocean (1967).

20 Mar – Members of the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo attacked the subway system in Tokyo sarin gas, a potent nerve agent, which killed 12 and sickened over 3,000 (1995).

24 Mar – A tractor-trailer caught fire in the Mount Blanc Tunnel between France and Italy, starting an inferno in the tunnel that claimed other vehicles and killed 29 people (1999).

27 Mar – A Boeing 747 operated by KLM and a jumbo jet operated by Pan Am collided on the ground on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, causing both planes to erupt in a fireball from which only 61/643 survived (1977).

3 Apr – In an event known as the Super Outbreak, 148 tornadoes hit Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, the entire Midwest, and New York, the South and Canada within 18 hours, leaving over 300 dead and causing over $3.5 billion in damages (1974).

14 Apr – The RMS Titanic, part of JP Morgan’s White Star Line and one of the most fabled ships in history, struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank, taking 1522 passengers to the bottom (1912).

18 Apr – An earthquake of 8.25 magnitude on the Richter scale hit San Francisco, followed by a four-day fire, which destroyed 25,000 buildings and killed 3,000 people (1906).

26 Apr – The worst mining accident in history occurred in Benxi, China, when coal dust exploded, trapping miners. The Japanese Army sealed the mine without allowing evacuation, and 1549 perished (1942).

26 Apr – During a routine test, the Soviet nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, experienced a core meltdown, exploded, and released large amounts of radioactive materials into the atmosphere (1986).

1 May – A dust explosion in the winter quarters of Scofield Mine in Utah killed over 200 miners, one of the worst mining accidents in US history (1900).

3 May – An earthquake, estimated at 7.1 on the surface magnitude scale, killed over 30,000 on the island of Rhodes, off the southwestern coast of modern Turkey (1481).

6 May – The German zeppelin the Hindenburg burst into flame as it was landing after a flight from Frankfurt Germany to Lakehurst, New Jersey. 62 of 97 passengers escaped (1937).

7 May – The RMS Lusitania, a British passenger liner which also carried a cargo of war materials, was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat and sank in 18 minutes, taking 1200 people to the bottom of the Atlantic (1915).

17 May – British bombers attacked dams in the Ruhr Valley, destroying the Mohne and Eder Dams and releasing five billion cubic feet of water. 2,000 people, including over 700 from Eastern Europe in a forced labor camp, were killed (1943).

29 May – A tractor trailer crashed into a line of vehicles in the Tauern Tunnel in Austria, setting off a chain reaction which killed 12 (1999).

3 Jun – A high-speed Inter City Express (ICE) train with a faulty wheel hit a bridge piling near Eschede, Lower Saxony, in what was the greatest rail disaster in German history. 101 people were killed (1998).

15 Jun – Carrying 1300 passengers from the local German community in New York City, the paddle steamer General Slocum, named after a Union general, caught fire as it traveled up the East River. Paint which had been applied only a few days before ignited, covering the ship in flames, and preventing the lifeboats from being lowered. 1,021 people died (1904).

17 Jun – In Britain’s worst maritime disaster, German Luftwaffe aircraft attacked and sunk the RMS Lancastria, killing over 3,000, near Saint Nazaire, France (1940).

7 Jul – Muslim terrorists attacked the London subway and a double decker bus with bombs during rush hour, killing 56 and injuring over 700 (2005).

25 Jul – The Concorde, one of the world’s only supersonic passenger jets (with the Tupolev Tu-144LL), ran over a piece of titanium left on the runway by an earlier departing flight, which blew its tire and started a series of fires. Ultimately the Concorde crashed into a hotel, killing nine crew, 100 passengers, and four onlookers (2000).

28 Jul – In heavy fog, a B-25 accidentally flew into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City. The three man crew and 14 people on the ground died and 26 were injured (1945).

28 Jul – At least 250,000 people died when an 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Chinese city of Tangshan (1976).

6 and 8 Aug – Approximately 80,000 people in Hiroshima and 50,000 people in Nagasaki were killed in the only atomic weapon attacks in history (1945).

12 Aug – A torpedo failed to fire and then exploded in the forward section of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk during routine exercises, causing it to sink and killing all but 23 of 118 crew members. The survivors died within four hours (2000).

Aug – 195,000 acres of wildlands in Galicia, Spain were consumed by more than 2,000 forest fires, as much as 80% started by arson (2006).

22, 26, 27 Aug – Volcanic eruptions on the island of Krakatoa (near Indonesia) blasted 4 cubic miles of ash and rock up to 50 miles into the atmosphere and releasing the energy 10-100,000 Hiroshima-power atomic bombs (1883).

24 Aug – Mount Vesuvius erupted outside the Roman city of Pompeii, burying the city and the region in ash and killing an estimated 17,000 people (79).

11 Sep – 19 Muslim terrorists hijacked four US airliners, crashing two into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon, killing 3,056 people. The fourth airliner was probably intended to hit the White House but passengers fought back and the plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania (2001).

21 Sep – The German ship sailing ship Pamir, a trainer for the merchant marine, was delivering 4,000 tons of barley from Argentina to Germany when she encountered a hurricane, capsized and sank. Eighty crewmen perished, including many cadets (1957).

28 Sep – The automobile and passenger roll-on roll-off ferry Estonia, traveling from Talinin to Stockholm, sank in the frigid Baltic Sea after her forward doors broke in rough seas, killing 852 on board (1994).

4 Oct – A cargo laden Boeing 747-200 flown by the Israeli El Al Airlines crashed into an apartment complex in Amsterdam’s Bulmermeer district shortly after takeoff. The three man crew, one passenger and 39 residents in the buildings died (1992).

9 Oct – A landslide on Monte di Toc into the Vajont reservoir sent a massive surge of water over the top of the Vajont Dam, flooding the nearby villages of Erto, Casso, and Longarone in the Piave Valley and killing over 2,000 (1963).

13 Oct – A Uruguayan Air Force plane crashed in the Andes Mountains while carrying a rugby team to a match in Chile. 33/45 passengers survived the crash, but by the time they were rescued 72 days later, only 16 people still lived, many having eaten their dead companions to stay alive (1972).

24 Oct – A wastewater lagoon in Germany breeched its dikes, pouring 121 million gallons of watery muck into nearby iron mines and trapping fifty of 129 miners. Over the next two weeks, in a series of dramatic rescues, 21 more were rescued (1963).

24 Oct – Two tractor trailers collided head-on in the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland, killing 11 people (2001).

1 Nov – On All Saints Day, an earthquake later estimated at 9 on the Richter scale devastated the wealthy and modern city of Lisbon, killing more than 60,000 of the 275,000 inhabitants. The severity of the chaos prompted what may be the first modern recovery and reconstruction plan, and helped future generations consider how to prepare for and respond to natural disasters (1755).

1 Nov – A chemical plant owned by the Sandoz company in Basal, Switzerland caught fire, and the water used to fight the fire was contaminated with toxic chemicals from the plant, contaminated the local drinking water supply and the Rhine River (1986).

24 Nov – A powerful snowstorm, known as the “Storm of the Century”, struck the northeastern US with subzero temperatures and winds over 100 mph. 353 people died as a result (1950).

25 Nov – Suffering from the single greatest number of November tornados in US history, 27 powerful tornados struck the Midwest on Thanksgiving Day, killing 76 and wounding 400 (1926).

28 Nov – A fire inexplicably started in the fashionable Boston nightclub, the Coconut Grove, rapidly growing into an inferno and killing 492 people of the over 1000 people in the overcrowded club (1942).

1 Dec – The Great Fire of Brisbane, Australia, destroyed 50-100 structures but caused no deaths (1864).

3 Dec – A Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, leaked methyl isocyanate, killing 3800 immediately, 6000 within days, and injuring 150,000 more (1984).

5 Dec – Unusual climactic conditions including a cold fog cause air pollution to be concentrated close to the ground in London, causing “The Great Smog” and killing up to 12,000 people in subsequent months (1952).

7 Dec – “The Great Storm” leveled thousands of buildings and sank 700 ships in Southern England (1703).

7 Dec – The Spitak Earthquake in northwestern Armenia killed over 25,000 and injured hundreds of thousands more (1988).

21 Dec – Pan Am flight 103 disintegrated after a bomb planted by Islamic terrorists exploded in its luggage compartment, killing 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground (1988).

26 Dec – A 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami which hit coastal regions of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and East Africa, killing over 230,000 people (2004).

28 Dec – A hurricane destroyed the central bridge of the recently constructed bridge at the Firth of Tay, Scotland, plunging a six car mail train into the depths and leaving no survivors (1879).

30 Dec – In the deadliest theater fire in American history, at least 602 of an estimated 2200 patrons perished in the Iroquois Theater in Chicago when an arc light shorted and ignited a muslin curtain, rapidly expanding into an inferno (1903).

Hellenization After Alexander – What was it, and Why Did it Matter?

When conquerors want to subdue a foe, they crush their armies. If they want to rule a conquered land, however, they must displace the culture of that land. Alexander the Great knew this, and as he wanted an empire that would outlive him, he needed to displace conquered cultures with his own. This was especially urgent to him due to the diversity of his empire, including Assyrians, Jews, Egyptians, Persians, Parthians, Armenians, and a host of others. Hellenism is Greek culture, and is the primary weapon, even more than his armies, that Alexander used to influence Middle Eastern and European history for millennia.

Some cultures assimilate foreign ideas easily, such as the Indian culture with its pervasive Hindu influence. Other cultures do not, such as that of Ancient Israel. Cities tend to adopt new cultures more quickly and easily than rural areas. This is partly because fewer people live in rural areas, technology and new ideas diffuse out there more slowly, and it is more cost effective to exercise influence in large populations than small. That is why politicians in a direct democracy spend more time in urban centers. If the US President was elected directly by popular vote rather than the electoral college, few contenders would ever show up in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Hellenism was urban, polytheistic, inclusive, and focused on the individual. Ancient Hebrew culture was rural, monotheistic, exclusive, and focused on the community. Hellenism was dualistic in its understanding of man and the universe. Ancient Hebrew Culture was unitary, believing in a united nature of man and God, even to the extent that Samuel speaks of Saul being afflicted by an “evil spirit from the Lord” (1 Samuel 16:14-15). No matter the conqueror, whether Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, or Caesar, Palestine was known as a restive province due to the culture of its people.

Several individuals and groups followed closely after Alexander in their enthusiasm for Hellenization. Among the most fervent were Antiochus Epiphanes (216-164 BC), who desecrated the Jewish temple, Aristobulus II (reigned 66-63 BC), one of the last Hasmonean rulers, and the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish council, primarily comprised of Sadducees, who instigated the murder of Jesus. Many of these encouraged the spread of Hellenism for their own financial and political gain, although the inherent pluralism of Greek culture was conducive to Emperor worship and religious tolerance and therefore beneficial to those who wanted to maintain the status quo.

The Jews believed that they were punished by God for their failure to obey and follow the Law of Moses when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, and they were not about to make the same mistake twice. So when challenged with Hellenism, many Jews, among whom were the Hasidim (“pious ones”, later giving rise to the New Testament Pharisees), rejected it, sometimes violently. The armed rebellion of the Maccabees was rooted in opposition to Hellenistic paganism. Others accepted secular but not religious parts of Hellenism, while still others abandoned the Hebrew faith and became Greek in their religion and worldview.

In many ways, Western culture, with its Christian religious roots and its Greek systems of thought, is a direct outgrowth of the synthesis of Hebrew and Greek culture. Even today a German “gymnasium” is not just a place for sports and exercise but a secondary school with all kinds of learning and activities, similar to what it was in Ancient Greece. It is no exaggeration to say that the amalgam of Greek and Hebrew thought that arose in the Eastern Mediterranean in the centuries surrounding the birth of Christ made Western Civilization what it is. Europeans and Americans cannot understand their way of life and point of view without comprehending this union of Hebrew and Greek thought.