Cambridge scholar criticizes Marrakesh Declaration on Muslim treatment of religious minorities

Sheikh Michael Mumisa a research scholar at Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge, has offered the first and most detailed blistering intellectual critique of the “Marrakesh Declaration

One of Britain’s top Islamic scholars, Sheikh Michael Mumisa a research scholar at Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge, has offered the first and most detailed blistering intellectual critique of the “Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Communities” since it was launched by the King of Morocco in January this year amid much fanfare and huge media interest. The declaration was produced by a group of leading Islamic scholars from different parts of the Muslim world. It was described as a response to the persecution of religious minorities by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Key among the declaration’s proposals, and as a solution, was the development of constitutional laws based on Islam “in countries with Muslim majorities.” The Marrakesh Declaration also states that “the United Nations Charter and related documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), are in harmony with the Charter of Medina.”  Mr Mumisa asks:

“If this is indeed the case, then why not just call for the strict implementation of the UDHR in all Muslim countries?”

In a detailed analysis of the contents of the Marrakesh declaration in an article published by the Centre of Islamic Studies at SOAS, University of London, which has since gone viral, Mr Mumisa argues that  the declaration comes in a long line of similar Muslim declarations in recent times which:

“have unwittingly provided PR cover to the various governments and religious establishments which signed them in the worst violations of Islamic principles and fundamental human rights.”

The Marrakesh Declaration is based primarily on a 7th century document called the Charter of Medina which is believed to be a peace code that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and the Jewish tribes of Arabia signed.  

By focusing on this 7th century document as a source of Muslim constitutional law, Mr Mumisa accuses the producers of the Marrakesh declaration of engaging in:

“a selective reading of historical sources which betrays a careless approach to the Sira (biography) of the Prophet of Islam… Thus, we have the highly curious situation of a group of Muslim scholars meeting in Marrakesh to call for the adoption of the Medina Charter as a source of Muslim constitutional law in response to the brutality of ISIS, about two years after ISIS invoked the same Charter of Medina as a basis of its own constitutional proposals, producing horrific results!”

Mr Mumisa argues that instead of obsessing with the contents of a 7th century text like the Charter of Medina:

“…the most important lesson modern Muslims should learn from the Charter of Medina is not its contents, as the Marrakesh Declaration and similar proposals suggest, but the processes that produced such contents. Although the Charter of Medina makes references to God, it is a product of deliberations, consultation and consensus between the various communities of Medina (Jews, Muslims, Christians and others), not of divine revelation to Muhammad. In that sense it is a purely secular document. Thus, the real general message of the Charter of Medina is that modern Muslims should be able to develop their own constitutional laws through deliberation, consultation and other democratic processes without the need to invoke divine revelation.”

Sheikh Michael Mumisa’s scholarly intervention is significant. He has spent years in the study and promotion of Muslim-Jewish-Christian relations.

Link to the original article: The Problem with the Marrakesh Declaration:

http://blogs.soas.ac.uk/muslimwise/2016/05/09/ideas-hub-the-problem-with-the-marrakesh-declaration-by-michael-mumisa-shaykh/

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