What on earth were French officials thinking? Or have we gone way beyond the point where “officials” and “thinking” can be used in the same sentence? The French news site Fdesouche reported Tuesday that Ahamada Mmadi, an imam from Comoros, has been deported from France. In parting from the land of crepes and Suzettes, Mmadi struck a defiant note: “I have nothing to regret and nothing to apologize for as long as I have spoken the word of Allah. If I repent, I am no longer a Muslim.” Fair enough, Mmadi, but France’s action in deporting this Muslim cleric is curious in the extreme. According to the Islamic news site 5 Pillars UK, Mmadi and his family were “deported from France after he recited a verse from the Quran and quoted a Hadith which encouraged women to be chaste, stay at home and obey their husbands.” He was accused of making “comments incompatible with the principles and laws of the Republic.”
So Mmadi’s statement that he had “spoken the word of Allah” was actually referring to why he was deported. But if he was really deported for quoting the Qur’an and Hadith, what do French authorities think the other imams in the country are teaching?
Mmadi added: “I don’t have to apologise for the moment I spoke the word of Allah. … Our sisters live a nightmarish life … and we call it a land of freedom.” Mmadi was claiming that women in France live a “nightmarish life” because they aren’t subject to the restrictions on women’s freedom that Islamic law entails. The good imam was apparently criticizing the status of women in France, as compared to the status of women in states that enforce Islamic law (Sharia), during a sermon at the Saint-Chamond mosque in the Loire department. During that sermon, he quoted a passage from the Qur’an that French authorities thought was unacceptably misogynistic.
According to 5 Pillars UK, Mmadi quoted this passage from the Qur’an: “And stay in your houses. Do not display yourselves with the display of the time of ignorance. Be regular in prayer, and give alms, and obey Allah and his messenger.” (Qur’an 33:33)
If French officials were looking for misogyny and inequality, the Qur’an has much more disturbing passages than that. It even calls for the beating of women that Muslim men even suspect might be contemplating getting out of line: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend of their property. So good women are obedient, guarding in secret what Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, give them a warning and banish them to separate beds, and beat them.” (Qur’an 4:34)
It doesn’t seem, however, as if Mmadi even quoted that verse; the other one, calling for women to cover themselves and stay at home, was bad enough in itself for French authorities. To be sure, according to 5 Pillars UK, however, Mmadi did go a bit farther: “He also told worshippers at the mosque about an authentic Hadith in which Abu Huraira (ra) reported: ‘The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘If a woman prays her five prayers, fasts her month of Ramadan, guards her chastity, and obeys her husband, she will enter Paradise from any gate she wishes.’” This was the basis upon which “French authorities in the Loire region deemed his sermon, which was made at Eid prayers last year, ‘discriminatory.’”
Mmadi pointed out quite correctly: “These are not my words, they are the words of the Prophet and of God. All I did was repeat what was in the holy books.” Indeed. And so it is extraordinary that French authorities deported him for this. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other imams in France. Do French authorities think that they don’t read the same Qur’an that contains the passage Mmadi quoted? Do French authorities assume that all other imams in France reject the Qur’an’s exhortations to violence, misogyny, and hatred for unbelievers? Do they not realize that other Muslims besides Mmadi read and believe in the Qur’an as well?
If French authorities, as well as authorities all over the West, including the U.S., think that imams such as Ahamada Mmadi are “extremists,” they’re in for a rude awakening. They continue to insist that they want to create a new Islam with French characteristics, an Islam that will be compatible with French secularism. Yet the Qur’an also has Allah telling the believers: “This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed my favor to you, and have chosen Islam as the religion for you.” (5:3) If Islam is perfect as it is, any change will only make it worse, not better. That’s why innovation (bid’a) is a serious sin in Islam. Do French officials honestly think they will be able to create a new, Westernized Islam, shorn of its features that are offensive to contemporary Western sensibilities? If so, they really are in for a rude awakening.
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