SADAKAT KADRI Heaven on Earth

ISBN 13: 9780099523277

Heaven on Earth

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9780099523277: Heaven on Earth

Almost 1400 years after the Prophet Muhammad first articulated God's law - the sharia - its earthly interpreters are still arguing over what it means. Hardliners reduce it to amputations, veiling, holy war and stonings. Others say that it is humanity's only guarantee of a just society. In "Heaven on Earth", Sadakat Kadri, a London-based criminal barrister and prize-winning writer, sets out to see who is right. Travelling the Islamic world, he encounters a cacophony of legal claims. At the ancient Indian grave of his Sufi ancestor, unruly jinns are exorcised in the name of the sharia. In Pakistan's madrasas, stern scholars ridicule his talk of human rights and demand explanations for NATO drone attacks in Afghanistan. In Iran, he hears that God is forgiving enough to subsidise sex-change operations - but requires the execution of Muslims who change religion. All Muslims are guided by the sharia - whatever their interpretation of it - and the stories of compulsion and violence are just part of a much bigger picture. Many of Islam's first judges refused even to decide cases for fear that a mistake would damn them, and scholars from Delhi to Cairo maintain that governments have no business enforcing faith. In this illuminating and important book, Sadakat Kadri draws on Islam's past and present to show us why. The promise of a perfect social order can be compelling. But reality will always intrude. And when human beings attempt to apply divine justice, they risk creating not a heaven on earth - but something much closer to hell.

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About the Author:

Half-Finnish and half-Pakistani, Sadakat Kadri was born in London in 1964. He graduated with a first in history and law from Trinity College, Cambridge, and after taking a master's degree at Harvard Law School qualified as a barrister and New York attorney. He has been attached to London's Doughty Street Chambers since the mid-1990s, and has worked on human rights issues in several overseas jurisdictions, including Turkey and parts of the Middle East. His last book was The Trial: A History from Socrates to O.J. Simpson, he is a past winner of the Spectator/Shiva Naipaul travel writing prize, and before setting off to research the sharia, he wrote a regular column on legal questions for the New Statesman.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

Laying Down the Law
 

“Recite!” The disembodied voice echoed around the cavern. “In the name of thy God who created man from a clot of blood!” With those words, according to the Qur’an, all of humanity was instructed to submit to Islam, but the only person present was a forty-year-old Arab merchant named Muhammad, who reacted by looking around with astonishment. Although it was the holy month of Ramadan and he had come to the cave to meditate, he had never before experienced so uncanny an event. The order was then repeated—“Recite!”—as incomprehensible symbols floated on a piece of cloth before his eyes. Muhammad protested that he could not even read, only to find himself lifted off the ground and crushed until words that he barely understood filled his mouth.
Muhammad was terrified. He came from Mecca, a trading center on the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula that doubled as a place of pilgrimage, and the pagan cults with which he was familiar had no shortage of malevolent deities. Their nymphs, satyrs, and storm gods were constantly up to no good, fighting dusty battles on the desert horizon or shifting villages across its shimmering sands, and Muhammad feared that he was falling victim to one of the most destructive creatures of them all—the jinn, a spirit capable of controlling a person’s mind. He scrambled out of the cave, besieged by visions, but as he swayed suicidally on a rocky precipice, he was at last made to realize that he was dealing with no mere demon. A colossal figure now filled the starry sky, and its voice addressed him wherever he turned. “O Muhammad!” it boomed. “You are the Messenger of God and I am Gabriel.”
Events on the hillside detained Muhammad for so long that his wife, Khadija, sent out a search party. She was an independently wealthy businesswoman, older than her husband, and when he was found, traumatized and shivering, she swiftly took charge. The region in which Mecca was situated, the Hijaz, was home to a number of faiths, and one of her cousins was an expert in matters spiritual, having studied the Torah and converted to Christianity. A visit was arranged, and Waraqa bin Nawfal’s response was both encouraging and ominous. The good news was that Muhammad had encountered the one true God and that the angel Gabriel had been associated with some very auspicious events. The bad news was that Meccans would vilify Muhammad, ridicule his story, and do their utmost to kill him.
Islam so despises the culture it replaced that its hostile claims about Arab paganism always merit a pinch of salt, but there would have been good reasons for Waraqa to be concerned. Although the Meccans considered one of their gods to be paramount, and even called him the god— al-lah, in Arabic—monotheism ran directly contrary to their traditions. As far as they were concerned, al-lah governed the universe in alliance with three daughters and several hundred subordinates, and that belief was fortified by some sound economic calculations. Across the city stood dozens of domed red leather tents, each of them housing holy statuettes and images, and an idol-strewn palace known as the Ka‘ba drew thousands of pilgrims annually. The shrine was jointly managed by two branches of the dominant Quraish clan—the Umayyads and the Hashemites—and their partnership was as delicate as it was lucrative. Muhammad was a respected Hashemite, but any attempt to revise the rules would not go down well.
The year was 610, and the channel of communication that had opened between Muhammad and God would transform the world. Thousands of lines of divine wisdom would reach him from the heavens over the next two decades, transmitted by a disembodied voice or heralded by a bell, and as he fell entranced and moved his lips to memorize God’s words, he would see far beyond the visible world, far into heaven and deep into hell. Even the jinns that he had initially feared were said to have converted en masse, after several overheard a nocturnal recitation and were struck by its beauty. Among Muslims, Muhammad has become a correspondingly heroic figure, and every child is brought up on stories about his valor, wisdom, and kindness. But though evidence of the admiration is ancient, the process that saw it recorded was far from straightforward. The revelations he received were collected together as a written Qur’an (recitation) soon after his death, but it took another century for the first written accounts of his life to appear, and only in the late ninth century did scholars compile collections of reports (hadiths) that the majority accepted as authentic. Older books were subsequently relegated to irrelevance insofar as they differed. As a consequence, the orthodox version of Islam’s origins became definitive only about three centuries after the events it described. Yet for many Muslims, history has turned into an aspect of faith rather than a subject for debate—assumed insofar as it supports the conventional view, and sacrilegious if it seems somehow to undermine it.
Any account of this period therefore faces some serious problems. Not only is there little way to test the received version of events, but the hadiths themselves are contradictory. There is plenty on which the biographers agree, to be sure. No one has ever denied that Muhammad was tall, dark eyed, handsome, fragrant, lustrous, well mannered, soft-spoken, modest, firm of handshake, and purposeful of stride. But the uncertainties quickly multiply. Some hadiths state that he was prone to tears, while others insist that he had an easy smile. There are claims that he once envisioned hell to be full of females, and many others that depict him not just comfortable with but delighted by the company of intelligent and opinionated women. He was a man of unyielding rigor, say some, but he is also supposed to have laughed when told that an arrested drunk had staggered free from a flogging, and to have counseled followers against further action. The truth must lie somewhere, but all that can be said for sure is that the descriptions frequently say more about the describers than they could possibly reveal about Muhammad himself.
A coherent picture does emerge out of the early biographies, however, and it portrays someone who was both resourceful and remarkable. Born after the death of his father, Muhammad lost both his mother and his grandfather during childhood and grew up in the household of an uncle named Abu Talib. Though orphaned and illiterate, he married well and built up a successful trading partnership with Khadija, and his acumen was impressive enough for his fellow Quraish to ask him at one point to arbitrate a dispute over management of the Ka‘ba. And even during the first quiet years of his mission, he won supporters. Khadija quickly accepted that her husband was a messenger of God, and though Abu Talib would never acknowledge Muhammad’s prophethood, his ten-year-old son, Ali, pledged his allegiance. Slaves and social outcasts also trickled to the cause, along with a prosperous merchant named Abu Bakr. Precisely what Muhammad was divulging at this early stage is not known, but he was clearly already inspirational.
Three years after first making contact, God told Muhammad that the time had come to spread the word more generally. With some trepidation, he duly informed his fellow Meccans that he was a prophet—the last in a line that ran via Jesus and Moses all the way back to Adam. Then, more boldly, he revealed that al-lah had neither companions nor daughters. The Quraish were blindly following their ancestors, he declared, “even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance,” and their activities at the Ka‘ba were fundamentally misdirected. They should pray twice daily toward Jerusalem instead and seek peace through submission to the divine—a state encapsulated by the Arabic word islam. Only then would they begin to appreciate God’s true nature: a spiritual presence “nearer to [man] than his jugular vein.”
Although no one would ever doubt Muhammad’s eloquence, early reactions were unpromising. Rumors rapidly spread that he had fallen under the spell of a jinn or poetic inspiration (maladies then considered much the same thing), and the first response of Mecca’s pagans was to offer Muhammad the best medical treatment that money could buy. But he had found his voice, and it was assuming ever greater urgency. Whereas Meccans seem to have believed that life after death differed little from life before it, Muhammad began to warn that a great reckoning awaited everyone and that earthly deeds carried eternal consequences. In his telling, God was about to snuff out His stars and set seas boiling, and as creation shuddered to a close, trumpet blasts were going to wake all the dead there had ever been. There would then be a time at which commendable deeds would be weighed against sins—the final Hour ( al sa‘a)—and all the signs suggested that Meccans were in line for scorching winds, molten brass, and unquenchable hellfire.
The apocalyptic vision was informed by solid moral arguments. The world into which Muhammad had been born was so stratified that clans did not even intermarry, while women were chattels and slaves bore a shameful status that lasted through generations. Vengeance was as valued as mercy was considered weak, and though the Meccans venerated three goddesses, the birth of an actual girl was so inauspicious that custom allowed for female infanticide. Against that backdrop, Muhammad had begun to claim that his followers were morally equal, regardless of sex or social standing, and to teach that clemency was no flaw but a virtue—so much so that compassion ( al-rahman) and mercy ( al-rahim) were the first of God’s many names. The killing of a single person was meanwhile tantamount to the murder of all humanity, and at the Hour of Judg...

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Sadakat Kadri
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Descrizione libro Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This book is important because it is: Unique. Heaven on Earth offers a critique of extremism that is human rights-based and entertaining - combining the comparative approach of Karen Armstrong and the immediacy of Ed Husain ( The Islamist ) with storytelling. Timely. At a time of veil bans, Qur an burnings and English Defence League protests, Kadri voices a liberal view of Islamic history and shows Muslims working against repression. This book explains up-to-the-minute brutalities. Epic. Interviews, anecdotes, personal reflection and analysis are set against a narrative that sweeps from seventh-century Mecca to the war in Afghanistan. Civilisations are evoked via the vivid lives of caliphs, mystics, and travellers. Legal changes are described through the feuds, courtroom dramas, conquests and cataclysms that have left their mark on modern Islamic law. First-hand. On the road for five months, Kadri travelled through Iran just before the June 2009 election protests, and took part in a human rights conference there with ayatollahs and academics. Eye-opening.This book goes beyond the explosive headline issues (criminal justice, women, jihad, religious freedom) to reveal the stranger ones: genie exorcisms; the legal consequences of premature ejaculation; online fatwa advice; the sharia approach to Facebook and Qur anic mobile phone ringtones, etc. Bold. Heaven on Earth primarily targets religious extremism, but also cuts anti-Muslim panic down to size. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780099523277

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Descrizione libro Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This book is important because it is: Unique. Heaven on Earth offers a critique of extremism that is human rights-based and entertaining - combining the comparative approach of Karen Armstrong and the immediacy of Ed Husain ( The Islamist ) with storytelling. Timely. At a time of veil bans, Qur an burnings and English Defence League protests, Kadri voices a liberal view of Islamic history and shows Muslims working against repression. This book explains up-to-the-minute brutalities. Epic. Interviews, anecdotes, personal reflection and analysis are set against a narrative that sweeps from seventh-century Mecca to the war in Afghanistan. Civilisations are evoked via the vivid lives of caliphs, mystics, and travellers. Legal changes are described through the feuds, courtroom dramas, conquests and cataclysms that have left their mark on modern Islamic law. First-hand. On the road for five months, Kadri travelled through Iran just before the June 2009 election protests, and took part in a human rights conference there with ayatollahs and academics. Eye-opening.This book goes beyond the explosive headline issues (criminal justice, women, jihad, religious freedom) to reveal the stranger ones: genie exorcisms; the legal consequences of premature ejaculation; online fatwa advice; the sharia approach to Facebook and Qur anic mobile phone ringtones, etc. Bold. Heaven on Earth primarily targets religious extremism, but also cuts anti-Muslim panic down to size. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780099523277

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Descrizione libro Vintage, 2013. Condizione libro: New. 2013. Paperback. Offers a critique of extremism that is human rights-based and entertaining - combining the comparative approach of Karen Armstrong and the immediacy of Ed Husain ("The Islamist") with storytelling. This book goes beyond the explosive headline issues to reveal the stranger ones: genie exorcisms; and the legal consequences of premature ejaculation. Num Pages: 352 pages. BIC Classification: JFSR2; LAFS. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 199 x 130 x 24. Weight in Grams: 258. . . . . . . Codice libro della libreria V9780099523277

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Descrizione libro Vintage Publishing. Paperback. Condizione libro: new. BRAND NEW, Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari'a Law, Sadakat Kadri, This book is important because it is: Unique. "Heaven on Earth" offers a critique of extremism that is human rights-based and entertaining - combining the comparative approach of Karen Armstrong and the immediacy of Ed Husain ("The Islamist") with storytelling. Timely. At a time of veil bans, Qur'an burnings and English Defence League protests, Kadri voices a liberal view of Islamic history and shows Muslims working against repression. This book explains up-to-the-minute brutalities. Epic. Interviews, anecdotes, personal reflection and analysis are set against a narrative that sweeps from seventh-century Mecca to the war in Afghanistan. Civilisations are evoked via the vivid lives of caliphs, mystics, and travellers. Legal changes are described through the feuds, courtroom dramas, conquests and cataclysms that have left their mark on modern Islamic law. First-hand. On the road for five months, Kadri travelled through Iran just before the June 2009 election protests, and took part in a human rights conference there with ayatollahs and academics. Eye-opening. This book goes beyond the explosive headline issues (criminal justice, women, jihad, religious freedom) to reveal the stranger ones: genie exorcisms; the legal consequences of premature ejaculation; online fatwa advice; the sharia approach to Facebook and Qur'anic mobile phone ringtones, etc. Bold. "Heaven on Earth" primarily targets religious extremism, but also cuts anti-Muslim panic down to size. Codice libro della libreria B9780099523277

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