Kroc Institute Luce Visiting Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding SherAli Tareen delivered a lecture titled “Beyond Good Muslim/Bad Muslim: Debating the Boundaries of Innovation in Islam” on Tuesday afternoon at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. Tareen focused on polemics over the ethical question of “bid’a,” or heretical innovation, among two major modern Muslim reform movements in South Asia: the Deobandis and Barelvis. The lecture began with a brief overview of the two major reform movements: the Deobandis and the Barelvis. Tareen said both are Sunni groups in India and that, being so similar, it made the polemics “bitter and more caustic because they were so personal.” He elaborated on the groups and explained how the two are usually assigned to a binary with the stereotypically more law-focused Deobandis on one end and the stereotypically more peaceful and mystical Barelvis on the other.“This kind of binary is intimately intertwined with the larger discourse of, which today is a very insidious and well-funded discourse, of what we might call the good Muslim-bad Muslim discourse,” he said. “Goodness is often measured by what is most proximate to a modern Western interpretation of what is a legitimate religion and, frankly, what is most conducive to American foreign policy at that moment in time.” Tareen said innovation in Islam refers to changes within Islam itself.“‘Bid’a,’ or heretical innovation, is the inverse of what is known as the normative model of the prophet, or sunna,” he said. “‘Bid’a’ consists of new, unsanctioned practices.” To explain the differences in the Deobandi and Barelvi definitions of “bid’a,” Tareen used the definitions as defined by two Hanafi Muslim jurists and Sufi masters who were involved in the founding of both groups. Quoting Ashraf ‘Ali Thanvi, one of the founders of the Deoband Madrasa, Tareen said, “Bid’a” is an innovated practice in religion that simulates the “sharia” in the intensity and discipline in which it is undertaken. “In other words, such conventions were kept alive and perpetuated by the invisible pressure to societal expectations and norms, rather than to divine law and divine will,” Tareen said. He added something can be considered heretical when it’s treated as being obligatory without a historical context to back it up. Tareen also read an extract from the writings of Ahmad Raza Khan, the founder of the Deobandi school, on “Bid’a,” which compared Islam to Muhammad’s garden which he said becomes “blanketed with breathtaking flowers, leaves and fountains, as each generation of scholars and saints added new layers of beauty to what they had inherited from their predecessors.” “Unless a practice was forbidden in Muslim law, ‘sharia,’ that practice is permissible,” Tareen said. “In other words, the default value of practices that have not been explicitly forbidden in the ‘sharia’ was that of permissibility.” Ultimately, Tareen said that by trying to compare the two groups within the context of a binary was harmful and fails to fully explain the traditions of each. “Rather than approaching debates on normative practice through the lens of a law-Sufism binary, or other binaries like good Muslim-bad Muslim, liberal-conservative and so forth, it might be more productive to look at the internal logics within the tradition,” he said.Tags: International studies, Islam, Kroc Institute, lecture
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau PBA President James Carver.The Nassau County police union that represents the officer who tragically shot and killed a Hofstra University student last week is backing him “100 percent” and defending him from those criticizing his actions during the home invasion.Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver expressed his condolences to 21-year-old Andrea Rebello’s family during his first public appearance since the robbery, saying, “[I] can’t imagine the pain that they’re going through right now.”But, Carver made clear that outsiders should point the finger at 30-year-old Dalton Smith, a career criminal from Hempstead who had recently absconded from parole after his early release from prison in February, instead of the 12-year Nassau police veteran, who hasn’t been identified.“There’s only person responsible for what happened early Friday morning,” Carver blasted. “And that’s the ex-con that was on parole and while on parole violated his parole and was still out there to commit more violent crimes as he did the other day.”“There’s some second guessing going on by people who think we should’ve stayed outside the house,” he added. “But our job is to get inside there and make sure we can protect as many people as we can.”Carver declined to go into the details about the case, citing the ongoing investigation. The Nassau County District Attorney’s office is also looking into the incident as it does “every police involved shooting,” a spokesman said. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said that Police Commissioner Thomas Dale “will conduct a complete and thorough investigation of this terrible tragedy,” according to a county spokeswoman.The parolee, Smith, used Rebello as a human shield as he tried to make it out of the house during a failed robbery attempt Friday around 2:20 a.m. Three of the four occupants, including Rebello’s twin sister, had already made it to safety when Smith put Rebello in a headlock, tucked her close to his chest, and pointed his .9mm at the officer before the officer fired eight shots—one hitting Rebello in the head, according to police.Andrea Rebello (Photo: Instagram)The officer was taken to the hospital after the incident and has since been interviewed by investigators, Carver said.Officers are often criticized for their actions despite the unpredictable nature of police work, the union boss noted, adding that fellow officers stand “100 percent” behind their fellow officer.His voice rising at times, Carver laced into critics that have questioned why the two responding officers didn’t wait for a hostage negotiation team to arrive before going into the dark house after Rebello’s friend, allowed to leave to retrieve Smith more cash from an ATM, called 911.“When you respond to a call you don’t wait around the block and wait for your backup to come,” he said. “What we’re trained to do is respond immediately there and we take action. That’s what we do.”“A split second decision will now become second guessed and criticized by those that never went to a police academy, never once responded to a call with a man with a gun,” Carver added.Rebello’s uncle, Henrique Santos, has been the first close family member to express his frustration with the officer, telling The Journal News, that “he should’ve negotiated,” with Smith.The uncle also added, “He should have hit the guy with the first shot, not eight.”Carver noted that he has no problem with the uncle expressing his frustration with police.“I understand why he second guesses,” he said. “They lost a family member, they lost a loved one and it’s a very emotional time for them. I understand his thoughts in this matter.”He also called on the parole board and lawmakers to examine how dangerous criminals such as Smith are allowed back onto the streets.Smith, whose rap sheet dates back 14 years, had served nine of his 10 year sentence for attempted robbery and criminal possession of a weapon when he was conditionally released on May 5, 2012, according to New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision spokesman Tom Mailey.Police said Dalton Smith of Hempstead was the masked gunman that sparked a police-involved shooting that killed him and a Hofstra student on Friday.He absconded the first time in July 2012 and was arrested.“On October 5, 2012 an Administrative Law Judge, with independent decision-making authority, gave Smith a 12 month time assessment, with the condition that his parole would be restored if he entered and successfully completed a 90 day drug treatment program,” Mailey said in a statement.Smith completed the program in February and was released to Post Release Supervision. He failed to make contact with his parole officer on April 23 and then left his approved residence. That’s when police issued a warrant for his arrest.“A team from Parole started following up on leads, and checking his past residences and other locations he was known to frequent,” Mailey said.The officer is currently with close friends and family and is on sick leave, Carver said.Rebello’s friends and family will say their final goodbye at a funeral service in Sleepy Hollow on Wednesday.