FAQ (18)

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 04:57


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Question 7.  Besides IONA, there is a wide variety of Islamic organizations, groups, and parties in North America.  What is your view of these Islamic groups?

Muslims in North America are known for their diversity.  Over the years they have organized themselves in numerous groups and parties, each with its distinctive set of goals and methodologies.  If one agrees with the program offered by one or more of these organizations, one should not hesitate to join them.  In IONA’s view, the work of all legitimate Muslim organizations in North America is valuable and necessary, and they should be given the credit and support they deserve.  The diversity of activist groups is a sign of the vitality of the Muslim community in North America; it should not be taken as the indication of its internal strife.  The separate existence of IONA, on the other hand, stems from the fact that it is unique in several ways.

The reason IONA must continue to exist independently, rather than merge with another organization, is that it is distinctive in terms of its diagnosis of the ailment of the Muslim ummah as well as in the terms of its proposed treatment.  It is also unique for having followed the traditional Islamic way of establishing organization and discipline, rather than choosing the modern Western pattern.  While the work of ICNA, ISNA, MAS, CAIR, and other organizations is not without merit, the specific goals and methodology of IONA are significantly different from theirs.  A separate discussion on these differences can easily be found by exploring other parts of this website or by studying IONA's literature.

Without giving up its own claim to uniqueness and particularity, IONA considers itself as working in harmony with other Islamic organizations, complementing their efforts to serve Islam, and not as working against them in any sense.  In fact, IONA does not look at the work of other Islamic organizations as any less valuable than its own, only different in some ways.

“…And cooperate (with each other) in righteousness and piety,
And do not cooperate in sin and enmity.
Have fear of God; He is severe in His retribution.”
[al-Ma’idah; 5:2]

Question 5. What is the Islamic justification for the claim that one must be part of a jama’ah?  Isn’t it sufficient for a Muslim to belong to the global Muslim Ummah (Al-Jama’ah)?

The word “Al-Jama’ah” denotes the one Muslim ummah established by the Prophet Muhammad (SWT).  As Muslims and followers of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), we are all part of this “Al-Jama’ah.”  To accept Islam is identical with joining this Al-Jama’ah, and to leave the latter is tantamount to abandoning Islam itself.  By definition, there can be only one such ummah, and to cause dissension and separation within this Al-Jama’ah is nothing short of an attempt to sabotage the work and mission of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).  We seek the refuge of Allah (SWT) from becoming an agent of such dissension and separation.

The current state of the Al-Jama’ah, however, leaves much to be desired.  To begin with, the worldwide Muslim community is not organized in such a way that allows it to effectively fulfill its divinely ordained obligations.  The ummah is divided and subdivided along racial, national, sectarian, ethnic, and other lines; it lacks even an informal structure of leadership and there is hardly any established tradition of “listening and obeying.” 

Since the desired and ideal unity of the entire Muslim ummah cannot be achieved overnight, Muslims who do realize their duties and are willing to strive for them have no recourse but to organize themselves in some sort of group.  Such a group is by no means an attempt to replace the ummah. Instead, it is meant to facilitate the taking of conscious and deliberate steps in the direction of restoring the desired and ideal unity of the global Muslim ummah.

In other words, the aim of establishing such a group is not to cause further division within the ummah, but to develop and organize the human and material resources so that the desired goals may be pursued in the most effective manner.  In fact, the Qur’an itself contains a clear imperative that points in this direction: “Let there arise out of you a band of people, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong…” (3:104).

“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong.
And they are the successful ones.”

[Alee ‘Imran; 3:104]

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 03:39

Question 1. What is the objective of IONA?

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Question 1.  What is the objective of IONA?

IONA has a single overarching objective: to help the Muslims of North America understand and fulfill their divinely ordained obligations, in order to please Allah (SWT) and thereby achieve success and salvation in the Hereafter.  We believe that the goal of the revival and renaissance of the Islamic civilization is intimately linked with this overarching objective.  The aim is to establish Islam as a historical reality in this world, and to seek the forgiveness and mercy of Allah (SWT) in the hereafter.

On the basis of the best scholarly understandings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, IONA has recognized that our divinely ordained obligations are as follows: (1) the cultivation of a strong and authentic faith; (2) the loving and sincere obedience to the will of Allah (SWT); (3) calling all of humankind towards Islam in the most beautiful and convincing way; and, (4) engaging in the struggle to establish social, political, and economic justice in the world. 

While in principle the Muslim's “zone of concern” is the entire world and all of humankind, IONA's particular “zone of influence” is limited to North America, viz, the United States and Canada. Furthermore, even though IONA works primarily among the Muslims of this region, it is important to emphasize that its mission is concerned with the salvation and welfare of all people. 

We believe that it is only by reminding Muslims of their duties, and by helping Muslims carry out their duties in the best and most appropriate manner, that Islam can be established as a historical reality.  Furthermore, it is only when Islam is established as a historical reality that its message of peace, justice, and salvation can be brought most effectively to the entire humankind.  Hence we must start at the beginning, i.e., by learning about our obligations and by striving to fulfill them.

Question 17.  What is IONA's position on Anti-Semitism?

Anti-Semitism is defined as “hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group.”  Technically speaking, this term is a misnomer because Jews are not the only Semitic people; Arabs, too are Semites, even though the term “Anti-Semitism” is never applied to hostility or discrimination against Arabs.  However, since the term “Anti-Semitism” is now universally understood as denoting the irrational hatred and prejudice against the Jewish people, we too will use it only in this sense.

To understand IONA’s position on anti-Semitism, three points should be noted:

1. The Qur’an neither teaches nor condones Anti-Semitism

The Qur’an teaches that all humanity has descended from Adam.  This means that all people are members of the same family—irrespective of the differences of race, class, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, and other markers of identity.  One of the central corollaries of tawhid—the imperative to believe in and worship only the One True God—is the radical egalitarianism of all human beings.  In his farewell address, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “O people! Your Lord is One, and your father is one; all of you are from Adam, and Adam was made from the earth.  The noblest among you in God’s view is the one who is most pious.  An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, except in piety.”

In light of these teachings, there is no religious or moral justification for a Muslim to hate an individual or a community on the basis of racial or religious differences. The Jews, furthermore, are particularly close to us because they are the descendents of the monotheistic community established by the Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, who has been much praised in the Qur’an as the “friend of God” and as “leader of humankind.”  The Qur’an acknowledges that God had chosen the “Children of Israel” over all other nations and had blessed them both materially and spiritually.  There is more space devoted in the Qur’an to Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, than any other figure.

It is true that the Qur’an criticizes the “Children of Israel” for their repeated transgressions of divine commandments and for their opposition to prophets.  More specifically, the Qur’an criticizes the Jews of Medina, who  were contemporaries of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), for their opposition to Islam and for their violations of the peace-and-cooperation treaty that they had made with Muslims.  These criticisms, however, are not racially based; they are based on the same moral principles that Muslims too are required to uphold.  Jews have not been reprimanded in the Qur’an just because they are Jews; rather, they are admonished because of their breaking of promises and other unrighteous attitudes and actions, i.e., for their violation of the Torah.  Because the Qur’an takes a consistent and impartial moral stance, it praises the faithful and righteous among the “People of the Book” just as it admonishes some Muslims for their moral shortcomings. 

The actual historic record confirms the fact that Muslims as a whole had never been anti-Semitic.  The history of Muslim-Jewish relations before the twentieth-century provides ample evidence that Muslim societies were much more tolerant and respectful towards their Jewish residents as compared to comparable Christian societies.  It is certainly true that non-Muslims had a second-class status under Muslim rule, but one should remember that a lower status for minorities was the norm in all pre-modern societies.

Historically speaking, anti-Semitism had always been a uniquely Christian problem, and its roots can be traced to the New Testament itself.  The very existence of Jewish communities in their midst created a theological problem for many medieval Christians, some of whom periodically sought to exterminate all Jews.  Muslims, on the other hand, did not face a similar theological problem; they could accept Jews (and Christians) as “People of the Book” without feeling that their religion requires them to exterminate these religious “others.”  Consequently, nothing even remotely comparable to the widespread massacres of Jews who lived under Christian rule ever took place in Muslim lands.  In fact, Muslims and Jews suffered similar treatment in the wake of the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula; it is well-known that the expelled Jews subsequently found a safe haven in Muslim lands.  No Muslim society would have justified the kind of Nazi policies that led to the horrors of the Shoah during WW II.

3. Anti-Semitism among contemporary Muslims has political causes

We do not deny the existence of anti-Semitism among contemporary Muslims.  However, it is very important to recognize that the hatred of Jews that one sometimes finds in Muslims societies has no roots in Islamic scripture, theology, law, or in Muslim history; instead, it is a product of specific political events of the twentieth-century, i.e., the Israel-Palestine issue.  Several Jewish historians have acknowledged that there was no anti-Semitism in Muslim societies before the nineteenth-century, and very little before the twentieth-century.

To understand the origin of anti-Semitism among Muslims, one must recognize the blurring of the boundary between scripture-based religion and secular nationalism that has taken place in modern Judaism.  Even though Zionism began in the nineteenthcentury as a secular and socialist movement among non-religious Jews, it has now become part of the religious identity of a large proportion of Jewish population. 

Due to this blurring of the boundary between religion and nationalism, political debates frequently take a religious hue; similarly, religious sentiments are often invoked when the issue in question is purely political and ought to be addressed on pragmatic grounds alone.  Another very unfortunate side-effect of this blurring is that a principle-based moral criticism of specific political policies can be easily misunderstood or misconstrued as religious or racial hatred. 

In light of these three points, our position on anti-Semitism should be very clear.  We believe in the essential unity of humankind and we reject any hatred, prejudice, or discrimination that is perpetrated or justified on the basis of the racial, ethnic, or religious identity of any individual or community.  We denounce anti-Semitism just as we denounce all other kinds of racism and racist ideologies directed against any group of people; we reject the irrational hatred of the Jewish people just as we reject Islamophobia—the irrational hatred aimed at Islam and Muslims.

We take this stand publicly because we are commanded by the Qur’an to “enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong” and to “stand up for God as witnesses of justice.”  For the same reason, we also take the principled stand that our respect for any religious tradition or any ethnic/racial group does not require us to suspend our right and obligation of moral criticism.

Question 16.  Why is the Qur’an so heavily emphasized in IONA?  By placing so much emphasis on the Qur’an, isn’t IONA undermining the traditional legacy of Islamic scholarship including tafsir, hadith, aqidah, and fiqh?

The Qur’an is the very foundation of the Islamic tradition.  It is the revealed word of Allah (SWT), and is therefore incomparably more important than anything else in the Islamic tradition.  The importance given to the Qur’an, however, does not mean that we are not aware of the value of tafsir, hadith, fiqh, and other aspects of our tradition, nor does it mean that we do not recognize the legacy of our blessed predecessors.  The members of IONA fully understand that the Qur’an does not stand alone; it can only be approached through the interpretive lens provided by the rest of the Islamic tradition.  Some modern Muslims have indeed tried to reject the entire corpus of the tradition in the name of favoring the Qur’an as the sole source of guidance; such misguided individuals have not served the cause of Islam in any way but have ended up creating dissension in the ummah. 

Having said this, it is important to keep in mind that the Qur’an is the living miracle of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).  Its wonders are infinite and its wisdom is fathomless.  In every generation, Muslims have to read and interpret the Qur’an and derive guidance for their own time and their own circumstances.  While the Islamic tradition that we have inherited from the past should always be kept in view, it is important to acknowledge that the legacy of the past does not always address the concrete problems that Muslims have to face within each new generation.  This means that the central importance and continuing relevance of the Qur’an cannot be underestimated. 

Human understanding of the divine word is dependent on the state of human knowledge in relation to secular fields, such as science, history, language, psychology, etc.  Thus, as our knowledge about the material world and about humankind grows, new ways of apprehending the Qur’anic teachings become available to us.  For this reason, scholars will always find new and unprecedented meanings in the Qur’an, for there is simply no limit to the treasures of wisdom that can be found in the study of divine revelations.  Far from being a disregard for tradition, this is a testimony to the infinite potential of the revealed word.

Even more important is the question of inculcating authentic faith.  By “faith,” we mean a state of inner conviction, peace, and trust that is more than mere belief or verbal attestation to a creed.  While much valuable Islamic knowledge can be gained from the study of the scholarly works of our blessed predecessors, faith is something that we gain primarily from developing a close and intimate relationship with the Qur’an itself. 

As the Qur’an itself repeatedly indicates, personal enlightenment and the inculcation of authentic faith require sustained reflection on the message and meaning of the Qur’an.  For this reason, IONA encourages all of its members to develop such a relationship by means of daily recitation and study of the Qur’an.  Learning the Arabic language and the acquisition of scholarly tools that help in the understanding of the Qur'an are also emphasized.

Question 15.  By adopting nonviolence as part of your methodology, aren’t you violating clear injunctions of the Qur’an regarding qital as well as the Prophetic Sunnah?  If Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his companions went to war against the enemies of Islam, isn’t this idea of nonviolence an unacceptable innovation in Islam?

In the history of humanity, the practice of nonviolence as a strategy for resistance and opposition is a very recent phenomenon.  During the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) - and for several hundred years after him - warfare was the only possible means for a political revolution or a basic transformation in social structures.  However, the chances of the success of nonviolent methods have steadily improved during the last hundred years or so.  In the twenty-first century, nonviolence is destined to become even more effective and sophisticated, making warfare look much like a dinosaur whose time has long past.  

Let us look at the religious and ethical aspects of this issue.  In Islam, warfare is always a means to an end, never an end in itself, and the taking of a human life is always an exception to the general rule of protecting and saving lives.  In situations where the same end can be achieved by violent and nonviolent methods, the latter is clearly preferable over the former.  Despite the emphasis on qital in the Qur’an and Hadith, there is nothing in these sources that would preclude or prohibit the adoption of nonviolence as both ethics and strategy. 

We know that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was a kind, lenient, and gentle human being; he was sent by Allah (SWT) as a “mercy to the worlds.”  If such a man fought battles, it was only because there was no alternative to warfare in seventh-century Arabia.  Furthermore, the Prophet (SAW) and his followers themselves set an example for us when they practiced strict nonviolence for several years in Makkah.  It is well known that Muslims were ridiculed, opposed, and persecuted by the elders of Quraysh, and Muslim slaves were frequently tortured and killed.  Despite this, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did not allow Muslims to carry out any retaliation against their tormentors; he only asked them to endure with patience while keeping their faith and continuing their struggle.  The Muslim practice of patience and strict non-retaliation during the 12 years in Makkah provide us with a brilliant example of how to resist evil without causing injury.

It is true that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) changed his strategy after the migration to Medina, and when Allah (SWT) through revelation gave Muslims the permission to fight back against their oppressors.  However, the social and historical context must be kept in mind as we try to understand the battles in which early Muslims participated.  From the Islamic viewpoint, warfare is not an absolute good; it is only a relative good.  It is important to remember that there is nothing inherently desirable in war from a moral and religious viewpoint.  Killing for the sake of killing is no act of virtue by any standard.  As such, it is only the end for which one fights, and the conditions which one upholds while doing so, that makes fighting morally good or bad.  Qital was made mandatory upon Muslims because it was the only possible method to serve the cause of Islam in the particular social and historical context of seventh-century Arabia.  The Prophet (SAW) led the Muslims in many battles; he had to do this in order to protect his community, to defeat his enemies, and to establish Islam as a historical reality.  If the establishment of Islam were possible without resorting to war, there is no doubt that this is what the Prophet (SAW) would have preferred. 

In this context, it is important to dispel the common misunderstanding that nonviolent struggles are somehow “easier” than armed combat.  On the contrary, it is fair to say that nonviolence is not for the fainthearted.  It requires extraordinary courage, patience, and discipline to stand one’s ground in front of guns, tanks, and bulldozers.  While it is relatively easy to take the life of a much hated opponent in a moment of rage, it calls for a great deal of self-control to allow oneself to be beaten to a pulp and not raise one's hand in self-defense.  Indeed, the use of nonviolence does not guarantee that one will remain safe and protected.  In the final analysis, there is probably equal risk of losing one’s life or limb in both kinds of conflict.  Nonviolence, therefore, is not an attempt to run away from danger or confrontation.  The imperatives of the Qur'an and Hadith that encourage Muslims to remain steadfast in times of conflict and to endure physical pain with patience remain as applicable in cases of nonviolent resistance as they were in the original context of warfare.

Question 14.  What is the rationale for incorporating “nonviolence” as part of IONA's methodology? Do you really want Muslims to turn the other cheek, till they are annihilated by the forces of evil?

“Nonviolence” is not passive surrender to tyranny.  It is, on the contrary, a politically sophisticated method of resistance and opposition; albeit one that does not mandate the use of violence as a coercive tool.  While most of the substantial revolutions in history have been bloody undertakings, IONA believes that the use of violence to change society or transform political authority has now become both obsolete and counterproductive. 

Let us look at the practical aspect of the issue.  It is not unusual for a popular movement demanding a fundamental social or political change to confront the resistance of an organized state or government. In pre-modern times, there was a definite possibility of success for a popular movement undertaking a violent rebellion against the government; one of the most well-known examples of this phenomenon is the French revolution.  With the consolidation of the nation-state during the last two hundred years, however, such a possibility no longer exists.  The modern nation-state exercises a monopoly over the means and use of legitimate violence, and all modern governments possess powerful resources to destroy, disperse, or otherwise neutralize a violent uprising, no matter how popular.  Particularly during the twentieth-century, the use of violence by non-state agents has become both futile and obsolete.

In addition to becoming largely ineffective, revolutionary violence has also become increasingly counter-productive.  The use of armed attacks on military targets is impossible for most such movements, which is why they resort to attacking innocent civilians.  But terrorism does not help these movements at all; instead, it legitimizes the effort of the state or government to brutally suppress the opposition and to reduce the level of popular support for the cause.  In today's world, to anticipate that a positive social or political change will result from the use of terrorism is to live in a fool's paradise.

In the twentieth-century, numerous movements for social or political change have succeeded without resorting to violent methods, and the trend is gaining world-wide acceptance.  Generally speaking, the modern nation-state tends to rely heavily for its own legitimation on the willing cooperation and consent of its citizens.  The pressure of democratic ideals is such that even the worst dictatorships are forced to make a show of popular support through token elections or referendums.  Consequently, peaceful withholding of cooperation and withdrawing of consent have now become immensely effective means for making successful popular demands. 

Nonviolent strategies include mass protests, civil disobedience, strikes, sit-ins, economic boycotts, nonviolent interventions, etc.  There is no hard and fast recipe of a successful protest movement; although creative and flexible strategizing in view of the available opportunities and constraints is a crucial factor that determines the success or failure of a given campaign.

Nonviolence enjoys numerous strategic advantages over violence.  Undeserved suffering of morally upright individuals espousing a just cause widens the zone of their sympathizers. Nonviolence allows a very large number of people to participate in the movement, including the children and the elderly. Long-term bitterness and hatred is precluded, and reconciliation remains a possibility in the future.  Gandhi’s Salt March and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the Civil Rights movement are just two of the most famous examples of successful nonviolent movements.  These have set the stage for other success stories like the Solidarity movement in Poland, the People Power movement in the Philippines, and anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa.

Question 12.  Does IONA believe that undertaking jihad in the way of Allah (SWT) is a fundamental Islamic obligation?  If yes, how does it plan to fulfill that obligation?

IONA believes that jihad is a central concept and duty in Islam.  In fact, the Qur'an repeatedly asserts that no one can be a true believer, or hope for success and salvation in the hereafter, if they do not practice jihad.  There is no exaggeration in the statement that Islam as a concrete historical reality cannot exist in the absence of jihad.  Indeed, if jihad were to be taken out of Islam, there will be very little left that can be called “Islamic.”

Yet, jihad is a concept that has suffered a great deal from various kinds of misinterpretations and even outright distortions.  These misinterpretations and distortions have come from both Muslims and non-Muslims, and have contributed to extremely narrow, truncated, and misleading views of Islam.  The common stereotype of the violent, blood-thirsty Muslim is actually a caricature of the notion of jihad, a result of an utter failure to comprehend and appreciate the true significance of this concept.  While detailed discussions of jihad, its Qur'anic meaning, and its various kinds and levels can be found elsewhere in this website, a very short introduction of the concept is given below.

The word jihad literally means “struggle.”  In the Islamic context the word denotes a particular kind of struggle, one that a believer undertakes in order to fulfill their divinely ordained obligations. 

The nature of the human being and the created universe is such that one always faces some degree of resistance as one attempts to perform what is required by the Creator.  This resistance may be called “inertia,” after the term used in physics for the tendency of both stationary and moving bodies to maintain the status quo.  When an individual tries to quit smoking, he or she experiences a resistance from their own body which is addicted to nicotine.  When a group of individuals tries to eradicate racism from society, it runs into resistance from entrenched attitudes and institutions that do not wish to give up their privilege.  In both examples, the resistance of inertia must be overcome before any change can take place.  The phenomenon of the counter force required to overcome that resistance is precisely what the Qur'an calls jihad.

Now the obligations that all Muslims are charged with can be understood under four headings: (1) the cultivation of a strong and authentic faith; (2) the loving and sincere obedience to the will of Allah (SWT); (3) calling all of humankind towards Islam in the most beautiful and convincing way; and, (4) engaging in the struggle to establish social, political, and economic justice in the world.  Because fulfilling these obligations necessarily involves exerting a considerable effort in order to overcome the resistance of inertia, it can be readily seen that jihad is an inevitable part of a Muslim's life.  Without exerting a considerable effort, one cannot fulfill one's duties; without fulfilling one's duties to the best of one's abilities, one cannot hope to receive the mercy and grace of Allah (SWT) that one needs to attain success and salvation in the hereafter. 

Most forms of jihad, as understood in this light, do not involve violence or warfare.  Most forms of jihad are, in fact, spiritual struggles that an individual undertakes either in his or her personal capacity or in solidarity with other believers in a social and communal context, in order to fulfill one or more of the obligations outlined above.  IONA is fully committed to this understanding of jihad in both theory and practice.

“And those who strive in Our (cause), We will certainly guide them to our paths: For verily Allah is with those who do right.”

[al-’Ankabout, 29:69]

Question 11.  How does IONA view the role of Muslim women in the context of Islamic activism? Does IONA allow its female members to contribute fully within the organization?

According to the Qur’an, Muslim men and Muslim women are helpers and supporters of each other. This was fully demonstrated by the active participation of women in the community of the earliest followers of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).  In our own times, there is no denying the absolute necessity of both men and women to participate in Islamic activism.  Any attempt at creating an activist organization that excludes women is doomed to fail. 

Since the Islamic obligations discussed above are just as relevant for Muslim women as they are for Muslim men, IONA's call is directed equally at both genders.  Women are as encouraged to join and be active in IONA as are men.

At the present moment, female members of IONA have their own organizational structure, separate from that of men.  In organizational or educational gatherings, men and women are generally separated through a wall or partition; when this is not feasible, men and women sit in different parts of the room and minimize their mutual contact as much as possible.  Women are encouraged to wear loose dresses that fully cover their bodies, except their hands and faces.  Many IONA members wear a face veil as well, as a sign of their modesty, piety, and commitment to Islam; however, the organization does not view the face veil as mandatory.  Men are strongly urged to avoid unnecessary contact with women who are not their immediate relatives, and also to exercise self-restraint by lowering their gaze when they have to interact with women. 

Even though women are normally segregated from men, they are very well appreciated for their positive contribution to IONA and are given the maximum possible support from the rest of the organization.

It should be noted that the precise role of women in the contemporary world is an area of heated debate and intense contestation among Muslim communities.  This is because the Shari’ah, as understood and interpreted by our blessed predecessors during the classical era, has placed numerous restrictions on the social role and mobility of women.  On the other hand, the social and economic realities of the world have changed tremendously since the time when the classical jurists derived their rulings and legal opinions.  This combination of factors has made the question of gender roles one of the most controversial among Muslims today, as well as one of the most urgent.  The situation is exacerbated by the relative stagnation in the juristic conversation during the last two hundred years, as well as by the contemporary crisis of religious authority in Islam.

IONA as an organization is fully aware of the constant need for growth and improvement.  As the number of female members of IONA increases, the women's side of the organization is likely to become more active, disciplined, and better organized.  At the same time, as the female members of IONA become increasingly conscious of their crucially important role, they are likely to exercise greater influence within the organization.  Similarly, as the knowledge and experience of both male and female members of IONA regarding the Islamic tradition improves, they are likely to devise more authentic and ingenious solutions to the challenges of gender relations and roles.

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