Faiz has been described in some circles as a cleric. Yet Islam knows no priestly or clerical class. The word sheik literally means old man. In a religious context, sheiks are little more than religious lawyers, similar in status to rabbis in the Jewish tradition.
Faiz studied Islamic law in Saudi Arabia and is a follower of one of a number of fringe “salafi” groups. Salafi groups are regarded as heterodox, removing texts from their historical context and turning a religion whose name literally means peace into a violent political ideology. They are rejected by even the Saudi religious establishment.
I prefer the wisdom of Turkish sufis to the fires of hatred that al-Qaeda wannabes like to fuel.
Who doesn’t? Meanwhile, the organization Melbourne Muslims emails a press release:
Australian Muslims say they’re deeply concerned at the comments of a Sydney religious teacher who told a public meeting that a rape victim had no one to blame but herself.
The comments were attributed to Sheikh Faiz Muhammad, who teaches at the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool in New South Wales, at a speech in Bankstown on March 18.
A number of Muslim organisations have responded by saying it is inappropriate and incorrect to suggest that if a woman does not dress appropriately then she is in some way responsible for what happens to her.
The responsibility for an evil act such as rape lies solely at the feet of the person who commits it. There is never an excuse for rape.
These organisations point out that Islam is a faith that encourages self restraint and discipline, and it specifically encourages both men and women to avert their gazes as part of this approach to modesty. It encourages each Muslim to avoid sin regardless of the temptation. Rape, being one of the most heinous of sins, can never be justified on the grounds of dress.
They also cautioned against tarring all Muslims with the same brush. Fearing reprisals against the Muslim community, and especially women who wear the veil and may be subject to verbal and physical harassment, they urge the media and the community to adopt a balanced approach to this issue and not use this as an opportunity to incite further hatred of Muslims. Several media commentators are to be commended for keeping a level head at a time when such issues could be sensationalised.
The Muslim organisations urge Sheikh Faiz to retract his statements on this issue. The current statement blemishes the good work he has done to help many young Australians get their lives back on track.
The following Muslim organisations condemn the notion that rape victims have any responsibility for the crimes committed against them:
al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences & Human Development
Andalus Islamic Bookstore
Australian Society of Islamic Psychology (ASIP)
Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network (AMCRAN)
Australian Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC)
Muslim Village Network (formerly known as Islamic Sydney)
Islamic Women’s Welfare Association (IWWA)
Mission Of Hope (MoH)