Apparently I was wrong. This gets a longer entry.
I might be joking about outlawing bananas, but some people aren’t when they declare things “Islamically” illegal in order to police the lives of others. Some people force their own biases into the text (e.g. dogs as pets are harram, supposedly [hint: they actually aren’t]) And unfortunately some of those people are scholars. The Qur’an warns us against them and commands us to question them:
Say: ‘Bring forward your witnesses to prove that God did forbid so and so!‘ And if they bear witness falsely, do not bear witness with them; and do not follow the errant views of those who have given the lie to Our messages, nor of those who believe not in the life to come, and who regard other powers as their Sustainer’s equals! (Qur’an 6:150)
Notice that the verse says God [emphasis mine, obviously; it’s a translation anyway]–not the Prophet and recorded hadith, not anyone else. Only God decides what is religiously forbidden. The verse then commands us not to credit those who lie about the message, because their views are errant. In fact, their views are so errant, that the very next line likens making lawful things unlawful and vice versa to worshipping other powers alongside God. This is scathing admonishment with the implication that these people aren’t even Muslim.
Say: ‘Have you considered the provision God has sent down for you, and you have made some of it unlawful, and some lawful?‘ Say: ‘Has God given you leave, or do you forge against God?‘ (Qur’an 10:59)
Well, has God given you leave? Demand this of your scholars. If they cannot prove with Quranic evidence and logical support that you are forbidden to listen to music, or that you may not keep dogs as pets, or that women may not call the adhan, they are wrong. And by making such laws, they are placing themselves above God and are treacherous with a hunger for power.
But say not – for any false thing that your tongues may put forth,- ‘This is lawful, and this is forbidden,’ thus attributing your own lying inventions to God: for, behold, they who attribute their own lying inventions to God will never attain to a happy state! (Qur’an 16:116)
Clearly, this verse warns us against forging the biases of others and the biases of ourselves over the word of God. You are allowed to have preferences–you are not allowed to force them on anyone else just because you have some kind of weird power fetish. And power is why scholars and imams become so defensive and insecure when they are argued against. Power is why they police us, why people police other people, and why they accuse us of straying from the right path when we disagree or live our lives as God commanded. What they mean is that we’ve strayed from worshipping them.
And, behold, there are indeed some among them who distort the Book with their tongues, so as to make you think that [what they say] is from the Book, the while it is not from the Book; and who say, “This is from God,” the while it is not from God: and thus do they tell a lie about God, being well aware [that it is a lie]. It is not conceivable that a human being unto whom God had granted revelation, and sound judgment, and prophethood, should thereafter have said unto people, “Worship me beside God”; but rather, “Be you masters in that you know the Book, and in that you study.” (Qur’an 3:78–79)
As I’ve stated before, Islam is against priesthood, and during the time of the Prophet the power of religious leaders was always kept in check through intense debate. Argument is glorious, and I’m completely ashamed of the ridiculous fallacies to which scholars now resort. Really, it’s insulting. If they don’t try the whole “because the Christians do it” thing, they bring up entirely irrelevant points and they list hadith after hadith–some of which even openly contradict each other–to “prove” that they are right. They will tell you they can do what only God can do and judge the strength of your faith and pretend to know what weakens it (music! shaking hands with the opposite sex! exposed hair!) so that they may police you. And if you’re a woman, they will tell you that you’re being immodest in what you do or say as though they can read your mind.
It is both a violation of Islam and an intrusive violation of you. Seriously, if I’m not allowed to recite the Qur’an in public because some guy gets off from me reciting the Qur’an, there is something very, very wrong with him. And he’s telling me this–he is openly announcing to the world the sexual nature of the effects of my voice on him and taking it a step forward to silence me–and it’s my modesty at stake?
How did we even get here? Some of these fatwas are ridiculous and funny, but others are horrendous. How did we arrive at this when debate was lively once, when the Qur’an clearly states that human beings are not allowed to make forbidden what God has made permissible.
Or make permissible what God has made forbidden at that. Khadeeja wrote a few days ago an article entitled Halal certification: Rituals are means to an end, not the end in themselves, in which she eloquently examines the direct defiance of the command to treat animals with kindess from those who declare permissible the meat that comes from tortured and battered animals, just because they were slaughtered in a halaal way in the end. This is a case in which what God has clearly made haraam is made halaal. The meat is not halaal unless the animal was treated kindly. And there are hundreds of other examples.
That, by the way, is how you determine that something is haraam or halaal. Buying dogs? Haraam. Adopt them instead. They suffer and starve because people breed them for money, therefore it is against Islam to participate in the infliction of this suffering, as God clearly commands us to be kind to animals and it is a sin to be cruel to them. Owning dogs? Halaal. And if a scholar informs you otherwise, demand Quranic evidence or logical argument derived from Quranic evidence, and make sure it’s not something ridiculous. (e.g. “Dogs are haraam because angels don’t come in your house if you have a dog. A hadith informs us of this. Another hadith says that the companions had dogs with them in a cave, and that hunting dogs are allowed. So I guess angels don’t come into your house if you have dogs, unless it is a hunting dog. Angels discriminate like that. Also, the hunting dog must have curly hair. No shabby hunting dogs. When you feed the dog you must be three steps away with a metal rod and then you must stand on your head for two hours because the devil dislikes it when blood flows to your brain. Another hadith tells us this. Hadith Akbar.”)