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Issue 3/Volume 1

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Ayatullah Milani then explained the audience how to reconcile Muslim religious duties with duties of citizenship in countries such as the European Countries and the United States of America as under;
  He said that we must clarify that the majority of jurists believe that any Muslim who seeks to be admitted to, and to be later accepted as a citizen of a non - Islamic state, is obliged to abide by all the laws of that land. If they do not, they have to suffer the full consequences of their actions. While a minority of Muslim 'scholars' may from time to time attempt to justify people not abiding with these laws, we do not agree with that view nor condone such behaviour.
  Finally he said that there are three areas to consider for a Muslim living in a non - Muslim state:
  Those laws and regulations required for the effective running of society such as traffic, building, health and safety regulations. All of these need to be adhered to by every one without exception, and there are no conflict of interest.
  Family and matrimonial issues such as marriage and divorce, custody of children, inheritance etc. In this area one can practice all one's religious injunctions without let or hindrance and without breaking the law of the land.
  To be a good citizen is by definition, to respect the laws of the land and to be a loyal subject. "

This is not and should not be seen as surrendering to western civilisation.  It is in reality the pre-negotiation position from where Islamic principles, beliefs and practices can assume a position of influence upon these civilisations.  A position from where Islam will become accepted as a valid viewpoint in the context of western thought and politics.  Rather than being regarded as an alien visitor as it is at present.
Madeleine Bunting, writing in the Guardian, quotes an Indian writer's views before offering these thoughts that are worthy of our consideration,

"Parekh argues that liberalism is right to assert that there are universal moral principles (such as the rights of women, free speech and the right to life), but wrong to insist there is only one interpretation of those principles and that that is its own. Rights come into conflict and every culture negotiates different trade-offs between them.   To understand those trade-offs is sometimes complex and difficult. But no one culture has cracked the perfect trade-off, as western liberalism in its more honest moments is the first to admit. There is a huge amount we can learn from Islam in its social solidarity, its appreciation of the collective good and the generosity and strength of human relationships. Islamic societies are grappling with exactly the same challenge as the west - how to balance freedom and responsibility - and we need each other's help, not each other's brands of fundamentalism. If we are asking Islam to stamp out their fundamentalism, we have no lesser duty to do the same."

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