Mythbusting with the Grand Mufti: Australia’s Muslim leader answers your questions

You asked, he answered. The Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand Ibrahim Abu Mohamed answers some of the most commonly asked questions about Islam, including views on homosexuality and Jihad. Here, SBS Reporter Fares Hassan sat down with the Grand Mufti to address what he calls “misconceptions” associated with the religion of Islam. The questions were some of the most commonly asked by commenters on the SBS Arabic24 Facebook page.

Q: You are the Mufti of Australia, why don’t you speak English?

A: “I can speak English but my English [is] very limited. I can’t explain myself [well] by the English language. I prefer [to] answer in Arabic because some ideas are very sensitive.”

Q: Why don’t you denounce IS?

A: “[IS] is a small group out of 1.75 billion Muslims, and we can’t be measured on it. If we denounce it [IS], where will it go? To them? Would they prefer to keep it with us or they take it?”

Q: Is it true that Muslims believe that when they die, there will be 72 virgins waiting for them in heaven?

A: “It’s true there are virgins in heaven but those who harm God’s creatures will never ‘smell’ them. Those who have bad intentions towards others won’t see the ‘shadow’ of those virgins. Heaven is not a nightclub open for anyone. It’s only accessible for those who benefit others regardless of their race or background.”

Q: What is Jihad?

A: “All walks of life are Jihad; working is Jihad, excelling is Jihad, mastering your job is a kind of Jihad, honesty is Jihad.

“Dying for God’s sake is very simple; it only takes a minute to take the decision that it’s the better choice. However, living for the sake of God is the harder choice, it has more Jihad. To live as a free, generous person who can leave a positive print in his community, to do good and denounce evil. This is the real Jihad.”

Q: Why does the Quran describe infidels (non-Muslims) as ‘unclean people’?

A: “The Quran verse ‘infidels are unclean’ describes a specific incident; the Quraysh (Prophet Mohammad’s tribe) were banned from performing tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka’aba) naked.

“People of the Book is an Islamic term for Christians and Jews. When they lived under Islamic rule, the Islamic community views them, even when they are a minority, as a state and an international convention was held with them.

“Prophet Mohammad has permitted some Christians to gather and pray inside his own mosque.

“Prophet Mohammad said: He who harms a peaceful/contracted a non‐Muslim, then I will be his opponent.”

“There’s even more to it, Prophet Mohammad respected non-Muslims who lived in an Islamic society, he said treat irreligious people in a similar way to the People of the Book.”

Q: Why are women treated as inferiors to men in Islam?

A: “This is a misconception, any human being, Muslim or non-Muslim, that believes women are worth less than men, then that is a completely wrong understanding because our teachings say ‘women are men’s sisters’.

“If we talk about Islamic inheritance laws, we need to highlight that women are not entitled to half the share of men only in all cases. Women can get up to 10 times the share of men in some cases. For example, if a man dies and leaves behind 100 million, 2 daughters and 10 brothers, each daughter will get nearly 10 times the share of each of her uncles.”


The Grand Mufti of Australia speaks with Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher after he addressed an Interfaith gathering for victims of the Christchurch attack.
Q: How does Islam view homosexuality?

A: “Judaism, Christianity and Islam have their own positions towards homosexuals. Yet homosexuals have rights under the civil law that gives equal rights to everyone and ensure freedom. So I treat homosexuals as citizens, I do not undermine them. Many things are permitted in Islam for example, but not permitted by law. Like polygamy, it exists [in Islam] but it is not permitted by law.

“You cannot judge my scriptures; you can blame me only if I break the law. We have to differentiate between what’s permitted in law and religion. We view homosexuality in light of civil law.”

Q: Prophet Mohammad killed and tortured civilians, yet only Muslims think about him as the perfect man, do you?

A: “I thank the person who asked this because they will give us a chance to explain. Saying that he [the Prophet] tortured civilians is a false statement. The Prophet fought 18 battles and the death toll was 203 [non-Muslims] and 183 Muslim martyrs, and that is in 18 battles throughout his lifetime. The Prophet views humans as God’s creation regardless of their religion, sex, or even their hostility towards Muslims. Once the Prophet stood up in respect when a non-Muslim’s funeral proceeded in front of him and he was asked: ‘Prophet why did you do that’, he replied: Does he not possess a soul?’”

Q: Terror attacks occur around the world daily, why aren’t you condemning all of them after they occur?

A: “Terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims have been condemned not only by me, but by 500 of the most respected scholars in the Islamic world.”

The Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand, Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed

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