Book Review: Living Where We Don’t Make the Rules—A Guide for Muslim Minorities

Book: Living Where We Don’t Make the Rules—A Guide for Muslim Minorities, Edited by: Ebrahim Rasool,[1] First Edition: May 2022, Claritas Books

Review by Mufti Abdullah Moolla

The book, Living Where We Don’t Make the Rules—A Guide for Muslim Minorities, edited by Ebrahim Rasool, is a collection of ideas by various Muslim “Intellectuals,”[2] all strung together to ostensibly provide guidance for Muslim Minorities across the globe during the current postmodern era.

To start with, the very title of the book is extremely problematic. They have chosen to label Muslims as ‘minorities,’ to exude a sense of inferiority that the Muslim reader must accept as a foundational premise in order to proceed into the contents of the book. This then subsequently leads on to the notion that Muslims must simply submit and swallow the idea that they don’t make the rules in their relative countries.

Muslims are people who submit to and accept the supreme law of Allāh Ta’ālā. Everything else is secondary, inferior, being worthy of consideration only if it subscribes to the most supreme law, i.e., the sharī’ah.

The introduction, penned by Ebrahim Rasool, is, for all practical purposes, utterly confusing. It places the common Muslim into a conundrum where he or she has to decide between the various notions being proffered. The following excerpt (from p.11) illustrates this quite well:

‘When we assert that we are ‘living’ where we don’t make the rules, it may be a simple, resigned description of our condition. Or living may be a statement of defiance – we will not succumb! Or a statement of intent – we will find the strategies for a meaningful life! Or an outline of a project – we will scour our theoretical and theological resources for points of convergence with our context! Or the beginning of a management plan – we will reduce the contradictions between ourselves and our nation, seeking the formula for co-existence, harmonizing the seemingly irreconcilable, minimizing conflict and maximizing our contribution to our societies!

The last of the concepts put forward within this paragraph (in bold) is actually what the book pushes for the Muslim reader to accept and implement. It comes as no co-incidence that this particular concept is the supposed ideal and is the goal that the Abraham Accords and the newfound Abrahamic Religion strive towards. Page 17 of the book states:

‘The pursuit of freedom, citizenship – for Muslim, Jews and Polytheists – became the cornerstone of the social contract entered into in Medina under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammed.’

Ebrahim Rasool conveniently ignores the hard fact that it was the Jews that had broken the pacts and treaties made with Sayyidunā Muḥammad Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He also conveniently ignores the fact that within the Madinah Charter, the ultimate decision maker was none other than Sayyidunā Muḥammad Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam!

For more on this particular issue, see here: Interfaith: Modern Misinterpretation and Abuse of the Madīnah Charter

In order to achieve the kind of concepts and ideas being proffered by Ebrahim Rasool and the others, he provides ‘solutions’ for the common Muslim, such as this (pp.16-17):

‘So, while concurring with the need for outwardly focused work to deal with islamophobia, Lemu asserts that the orthodox mainstream of Muslims requires an internal immunisation against the extremist impulse through an internal reform process to reclaim the values and intents of the Islamic teachings.’

This sentence is very telling. Though the above is leading on from a discussion regarding extremism, every Muslim’s radar should be blaring as soon as they come across any sort of suggestion that we as Muslims need ‘reform’ (which in reality ends up being deforming Islam in favor of liberal values).

In order for the aim of Ebrahim Rasool and his collaborators to be achieved, the Maqāsid al-Sharī’ah are tabled as the ideal to pursue. Such a notion is wholesomely ridiculous, because it was the very same idea used to suppress genuine and authentic Islamic teachings and practices throughout the last century. Moreover, this very same notion was trumpeted by many quarters in order to close the houses of Allāh Ta’ālā!

For more on the issue of Maqāsid al-Sharī’ah, see: The Maqasid of the Shari`ah: Nuanced Application or Genuine Abuse?

Ebrahim Rasool has also unashamedly put forward a lie against Sayyidunā ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu, wherein he falsely claims that the second righteous Khalīfah in Islām was the premier architect of the Maqāsid Al-Sharī’ah (page 44). Even one such lie is enough to discredit the entire book—especially a book of this nature.

Ebrahim Rasool provides an innovative concept called Dār ush Shahādah, in reference to ‘shared spaces,’ as an alternative to the Dār ul Islam and Dār ul Kufr binary. Now, in these ‘shared spaces,’ Muslims are expected to apply the Fiqh-ul-Aqalliyyāt (Fiqh for Minorities) which is based on Maqāsid, Maṣlaḥah, etc.

What I find particularly shocking is that the book is devoid of credible references and explanations from the aḥādīth, the mujtahidūn, the pious scholars and the luminaries of the Muslim Ummah. How is it even possible for a premier, ambassador and politician to usher the entire Muslim Ummah towards accepting ideas, concepts and understandings that have no basis within the classical works of Islām?

Together with this, Ebrahim Rasool has actually even invented a completely new concept that he calls ‘Interregnum.’ This is something he has pulled from his own back pocket, either that or from some trickster’s dirty hat, because he outwardly sources it from the Noble Qur’ān (Sūrah Ar-Rūm to be exact). However, a study of the verses in question provides nothing of the sort. The stages of the Ummah have been detailed very clearly within the blessed aḥādīth, and these are the only stages that we need to focus on. What Ebrahim Rasool has set out to push down the throats of the unwary and ignorant is a fabricated time period that he has himself concocted. This is then used to provide the backdrop for furthering his idea of liberalizing the Ummah, ultimately robbing them of their orthodoxy and submerging them fully in modernity.

I am astounded and completely unable to grasp the fact that Ebrahim Rasool has avoided any mention at all of the oppressed Muslims in various parts of the world. We are patiently waiting for an answer as to how and where this supposed ‘Fiqh for Minorities’ has ever been practiced successfully. Hence, it seems to be nothing more than a major project to do away with actual tradition of Islam and instead slither away into modernism.

On page 106, Ebrahim Rasool is caught attempting clear Taḥrīf (distortion) of the Noble Qur’ān. He has totally misconstrued the meaning of the verses of Sūrah Al-Kāfirūn:

“To you your religion and to me mine!” this was an exhortation to tolerance, to absorb difficulty, an expression that says: whatever is happening to you, tolerate it, be resilient!

How could any Muslim tolerate deviation of this kind?

RELATED: Modernists and Zanādiqah: Muslims Must Tolerate Our Brazen Attacks Against Islām!

Let us delve further into the book and see what type of ideology Ebrahim Rasool desires the Muslim Ummah to adopt. He asks us, very slyly, to establish proactive relationships with gays—the very same gays that wish to change our religion and force their gayness onto Muslim, including our children—in order to make the society prejudice-free!

‘Sometimes, when you are able to lower the wing of mercy to those that you detest the most, you ensure that the wings of mercy are on you. If you open, for example, the doors of discrimination against any sub-group, whether they are the Roma or the gays, you put into the lexicon of a nation the words to deal with you when you become uncomfortable to the whole. We are not asking for loving relationships with those we do not agree with. We are asking for proactive relationships in order to make a society truly discrimination-free, prejudice-free.’ (p.112)

How about asking the entire non-Muslim world instead to stop their endless prejudice against Muslims? Wouldn’t this be doing a great service to the oppressed and marginalized Muslims across the globe?

Ebrahim Rasool has snuck in the idea that people should have the freedom to change their religion (p.121). In essence, this is nothing but normalization and promotion of apostasy.

After having read the book of Ebrahim Rasool, we started noticing certain scholars repeating its ideas and warped arguments within lectures and position papers. We cannot but look on in horror as events continue to unfold in this manner. Have these scholars now decided to turn towards new-found ideas and sources for their Islāmic knowledge and guidance? Or are such scholars actually working hand-in-hand with people of political influence in an effort to ‘guide’ (i.e., misguide) the Ummah, leading them in the direction that their baseless and insignificant feelings tell them is the most suited way for Muslims to pursue during the post-modern era?

Reading this book, Living Where We Don’t Make the Rules, was quite frankly: time wasted⁠—time which could have been spent far more wisely doing something much more worthwhile. For instance, it would been better to have utilized this time in the acquisition of true, beneficial knowledge; in the worship of Allāh Ta’ālā; or in helping someone, thereby earning Allāh Ta’ālā’s pleasure and reward.

However, we traversed these muddy waters and examined the flimsy, warped arguments therein to simply gain an understanding of the inner workings of the minds of the modernists and liberals that are hell-bent on destroying the structure and framework of Islām. These are things which we as Muslims must hold firmly onto at all costs. They are constantly making efforts towards distorting and deforming Islam. We must not allow these cursed efforts to weave their way into our minds or the minds of our fellow Muslims.

We seek refuge in Allāh Ta’ālā, and we ask Him to protect us from going astray. Āmīn.

RELATED: The Severity of Selling Out Dīn for Worldly Gain

Notes

  1. Ebrahim Rasool is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University, Washington DC and the founder of the World for All Foundation. He was formerly the South African Ambassador to the United States of America (2010 to 2015). Prior to this, he was an MP in the National Assembly of South Africa (2009 to 2010). He also served as the Premier of the Western Cape (2004 to 2008). Twitter: @AmbassadoRasool
  2. Tariq Ramadan, Ingrid Mattson, Farooq Murad, Nurudeen Lemu, Sheikh Rashid Al Ghannouchi, Sheikh Ali Al-Quradaghi, Beddy Ebnou, Imam Plemon El-Amin, Waheeda Amien, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Shaykh Siraj Hendricks, Sarah Joseph, Ebrahim Moosa, Imran Garda interviews with Ahmed Jaballah, Ibrahim El-Zayat, Ahmad Azimov, Albakri Ahmad, Sheikh Jihad Hammadeh, Abul al Ala Al Ghithy, Salam Al Marayati, and Rosieda Shabodien, Syed Zafar Mahmood, Sven Schottman, Najeeba Syeed-Miller, Sayyid Syeed
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Sad

Yep, Capetonians🇿🇦 have first hand experience with this type of narrative. It’s always the academics presenting these complex ideas in complicated English. Non-academics on the back foot and don’t know how to respond, without awakening the “extremist impulse”. Alhamdulillah most are allergic to BS in any form. Some ulema promote him while others don’t. The result is liberal values dominating Islamic values and a g*y m*sj**d Aoethoebiellah

Ojo Eli

May Allah help us. Some of what is in this book as reviewed here are now being swallow by some Muslims especially on social media. Christmas is around the corner. You will soon see Muslims-some of them prominent-supporting it. Those that don’t want to support are labeled extremist.
Meanwhile, I always enjoy all Muslim sceptic articles. From Nigeria with Love.

Ahmed

I’d like to be able to contribute like this for the love of Islam and Allah (SWT). I have the research skills, and I believe I have the right Aqeedah (Insha’Allah), but I don’t have the writing skills. English isn’t my first language, and when I write, it reads kind of boring/academic. Where can I get some help/training?