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Hands off!

Jun 04,2017 - Last updated at Jun 04,2017

Hatred is a remarkable motivator, as incomprehensible as it is powerful. 

Last week, two men were stabbed to death in the US and a third was seriously wounded defending a Muslim woman who was attacked by a white supremacist. 

None of the stabbing victims was a Muslim, which speaks volumes about the decency of American society. But why was the killer so filled with hatred that he was prepared not only to pour abuse on a woman he did not know, but also to stab three men who asked him to stop?

In court, the perpetrator of this hate crime was charged with aggravated murder, second-degree intimidation, attempted aggravated murder and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.

No reference was made to ideology, neither his, nor that of the woman he bullied, nor of the victims who defended her.

America is not unique in this respect. Muslim historians, such as Yaqut Al Hamawi (12-13th century) described in harrowing detail the vicious war between followers of the Hanafi and Shafei schools of Islamic jurisprudence. 

Entire communities were exterminated in some cities and, as if the slaughter of the living were not enough, cemeteries were desecrated, dead bodies exhumed and their bones burned.

Yet, amazingly, it would be difficult to find two groups who disagree on less. Both are Sunni Muslims and both regard themselves as moderates, meaning that they regard moderation as good. 

The only difference between them regards the reference that a jurisprudent should consult on questions for which there is no text in the Holy Koran or the Sunna: one school allows the jurisprudent to exercise limited judgment, while the other none at all.

Is this worth the slaughter and the venomous scorn that they continue to pour on each other to this day on the Internet?

There was no shortage of sane people who tried to end the strife.

Taqi Al Din Al Subki (12th century), the chief qadi of Damascus, called for the slaughter to stop and declared it sinful for either group to call the other apostate.

His sober call went unheeded.

The violence stopped only when the Ottomans appointed a qadi from each school of jurisprudence in each of the major cities, so everybody could refer to someone he trusted, and they threatened to hang anyone who caused strife, irrespective of who or why.

Similarly, today, the Amman Message calls for respectful coexistence among different faiths, but all around us people continue to kill one another with energy and imagination. 

In Jordan, we are fortunate that our leadership maintains a rational approach to hate speech and crimes.

The Amman Message makes a sober call for respectful coexistence, and the law deters anyone from contravening this principle.

People do not need to like one another, but they are obligated to refrain from abusing one another through violent acts or incitement to such acts. 

 

This is why the law needs to be supreme and impartial: because only then does it serve justice.

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