I had a quick question Imam Suhaib.
According to everything I’ve read on the spirit of Islamic Law and Islam, there is no caste system or seperation between races. “The most honored amongst you with Allah is the most pious of you”, the last sermon of the Prophet, etc. However, when I look at one of the more prominent classical legal manuals and other statements that I’ve read over the years, there seems to be a little-talked about idea that Arabs are superior to non-Arabs, the inferiority of certain races, non Arabs and Muslim men with a Muslim father and grandfather superior in marrying a Muslim woman to a Muslim man without a muslim father and grandfather and a hyper sense of patriarchy? I have alot of trouble reconciling this with the statement that Islam came to wipe these things out (which we’ve heard many times). wa alaikum assalam
You will constantly run into these type of things when dealing with legal presumptions founded in the classical period. One should read these with one eye open; understanding that they are merely presumptive recipes written to deal with certain social phenomena that existed.
In the 1960′s South African Ulema felt that there was nothing inherently wrong with apartheid practices as the ruling body did not disturb the Muslims “prayers” nor “other ritual acts of worship.” Now, if we were to take their contention and those mentioned in your question, apply them to the general principles of Shar’iah, as well as our own common sense, there is no way we could justify, nor accept, their postulations. In others words, honor the tradition, but don’t hold it as holy.
From this we can garner the need and obligation for tajdid [revival] of Islamic law and our need, as Western Muslims, to take proprietorship of it, at least its presumptive elements; translating it according to our contexts and understandings. That in itself should make obvious to us all, the danger and failure of traditional, centric movements who cling to such presumptions as though they are definite in their applications and fitting for every age to come. What is clear cut from our authoratative texts we must respect, what is based on speculative legal discourse is fair game for the qualified.