Drones and the invasion of privacy in Muslim lands

Last month I mentioned concerns about the use of drones in Muslim lands in two pieces (Drones and privacy in Muslim lands, and Privacy, Muadhdhins, and Drone Operators). I wrote that measures are needed to be taken to ensure that observant Muslim women are not denied access to outdoor areas where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy from unwanted male eyes, such as within the walls of their own villa or farm, or in many of the public parks, beaches, and open-air pools reserved for women. At the time of writing, my concerns were merely hypothetical. That is no longer the case, according to a Gulf News article published yesterday.

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The legal status of gold plated phones

Emirates 24|7 reported that the Saudi Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Fowzan issued a fatwa on Twitter stating that gold-plated mobiles are prohibited for males to use, but permissible for females. The article claims that “Fowzan’s fatwa came as thousands of men in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states started to opt for gold-plated mobile phones.”

Whenever I see these handsets at the malls I assume that they are a ploy to get people into the shop to buy something else. I did not think anyone – male or female – bought them since they are unlawful to men and women in the Shāfiʿī and Ḥanbalī schools – at least as I learned them. My conclusion is based on considering phones a type of instrument or implement. But it is also easy to see that someone would arrive at a different conclusion if he considered phones a type of decorative accessory or jewelry.

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Dated fatwas direly needed for demands of the global digital audience

My fatwa web alerts have been abuzz with articles concerning Muslims saying “rest in peace” when expressing condolences for the death of non-Muslim. Initial reports claiming that a fatwa was issued in response to a recent death were subsequently retracted upon examination of the date of the initial article’s source for the fatwa. This blog post concerns the role of dates in the development of this story, and the need for fatwas to be dated. It does not concern the deceased, the contents of the fatwa, nor the circumstances which triggered it to be spread.

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Spouse in the bed; someone else in the head

The earlier blog piece Real world actions vs virtual or simulated actions in fiqh mentioned the issue of thinking about someone other than one’s spouse during intercourse. This issue comes up with enough frequency to warrant separating it into its own entry so that it can be found without wading through a longer piece (and to help ensure that comments on it do not drown out comments on the other issues).

If you find the topic offensive or of no use to you, or if you’re worried that it will lead you to the unlawful, please move on to something beneficial. Married couples, people who offer them guidance, and students of knowledge may find it useful. Otherwise, it’s probably best to move on.

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Real-world actions vs virtual or simulated actions in fiqh

This morning’s online reading material included a message from the producers of the “Happy British Muslims” video, apparently posted on behalf of Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad. In the message, Sheikh Abdul-Hakim explains the value of this type of video, and his own participation. The content of the message mentions many contemporary issues; it should be read regardless of one’s feelings or interest in the video itself. The sheikh does not mention just social issues, but also issues that are of an ethical and legal nature. One of the issues falling within the latter category is the use of synthesized music:

Regarding the music, I personally do not use instrumental music; but I would like to see a fully-reasoned fatwa about musical sounds produced digitally by synthesisers: do they count as the ma’azif which are surely forbidden in the sound hadiths? If so, are doorbells, or harmonised ringtones, ma’azif? What about a voice which is trained to sound exactly like a trombone? Personally I don’t know. Once we have some sort of consensus on synthesisers then the ijtihad discussion about this clip can begin. It will be interesting. [source]

I briefly touched on this issue when writing about the ethics of virtual worlds, which include things like Second Life and ultra-realistic video games. Synthesized music is just one of many ways that synthesized or virtual objects and actions enter our lives. As the role of digital technologies in our daily lives is increases, so does the need to answer these issues for Muslims who wish to live their lives in ways pleasing to Allah Most High. The following excerpt from my piece gives a hint of some of the issues.

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#iḥsānology collected – weeks 3-4

This is the third collection of short summaries of content from Shajarat al-Maʿārif which I post to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. See week 1 for more details; see also week 2. The numbers at the end of entries refer to the item number in the printed text in order to facilitate its reference.

This collection covers from 1 April 2014 through to 12 April 2014. Most of the entries here concern injunctions related to excellence in inward matters, such as intentions, attitudes, and perspectives.

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Need for deeper, more nuanced ethical & legal space-flight advice

Concerning the previous entry: The National Research Council’s Health Standards for Long Duration and Exploration Spaceflight: Ethics Principles, Responsibilities, and Decision Framework report is 172 pages long. The Academy’s press release mentions some of the book’s ethical decision-making principles for determining exceptions to usual mission-safety guidelines. The first two principles are “Avoid harm by preventing … Read more…

National board of scholars issues comprehensive fatwa banning deep-space missions

A national board of scholars has issued a fatwa banning all deep-space missions. This ban is even more comprehensive than last month’s scandalous fatwa banning one-way missions to Mars. Both fatwas cite concerns for safety as the primary reason for their ban. Read more about the latest fatwa here and here. UPDATE My more serious … Read more…