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World Aids day – Islamic Insight

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• December 1st was World Aids Day, we have seen in the newspapers and on TV screens a lot of discussion about HIV & Aids• Let us look at this subject to understand its reality and look at the Islamic solution to the problem of HIV & Aids.

• HIV stands out in respect of its prevention. It is one of the most notorious infectious diseases around today, with good reason, as it is currently incurable. Although, it’s disease progression in an individual can be significantly slowed down.

• The uniqueness of HIV is in its transmission. It is a virus that must pass from person to person through the exchange of significant quantities of bodily fluids, primarily sexual fluid or blood.

• These fluids do not ordinarily transfer from person to person except through the undertaking of specific activities over which an individual normally has control. The main methods of transmission amongst adults are via sexual intercourse or the sharing of needles that enter the blood stream of sequential individuals. The sharing of needles primarily occurs during the use of recreational drugs such as heroine.

• A safe assertion may be made that if a healthy adult avoids certain high risk activities, the probability of contracting HIV are miniscule. If two people of the opposite gender marry, and are faithful to each other for the rest of their lives, their risk of contracting HIV through sexual activity is negligible. HIV in children is usually transmitted during childbirth from an infected mother. There are various techniques that can be used to prevent this vertical spread. However, it is simple reality that if adults do not have HIV, children could not get it either.

• The UN has reported that rates of HIV throughout the world are reaching previously unprecedented levels, estimated to be 40 million people infected worldwide. There were over 4 million new cases in the last year, 700 000 of which were in children. Current boom areas are Pakistan and Indonesia, where the report said that transmission was out of control, although the problem is most critical in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Secular response

“Freedom” is one of the core principles in the capitalist ideology. They therefore shy away from advising people to avoid those behaviours likely to lead to HIV infection. They prefer to try to find ways to perform the various risky behaviours that they want to practice, but with a modicum of protection.

Practically speaking this means the promotion of condom use, and the provision of clean needles and syringes to drug addicts so that they do not need to share. These principles have been the lynch pins of strategies aimed at preventing the spread of HIV in the Western world. These approaches are increasingly being peddled to the developing world as the solution.

This has not worked at all so far. While condoms are believed to be protective and the provision of clean needles may well limit the risk of transmission, it is naïve to expect uneducated drug addicts to be responsible, and condoms do not provide full proof protection. If these are really the only preventative measures that can be offered, failure is assured and the virus will continue to spread. This is an issue that many in the west are starting to acknowledge.

Jim Yong Kim, head of the WHO’s HIV/Aids program, said in reference to the G8’s pledge to pump more money into getting wide spread access to anti-retroviral drugs that this is more to do with social change rather than administering better pharmaceuticals. “Treatment is not rocket science,” he said “prevention is rocket science”.

Cause

The cause behind the increase of promiscuity & drug taking in society here and everywhere in the world is concepts of Freedom & Benefit.

Destroys any type of morality people have

Indecency & fornication are norms in West e.g. office environment. Places like Indian subcontinent are catching up, traditional values eroding.

This is occurring due to concepts of personal freedom, freedom of ownership and benefit as the criterion for actions.

Let us look at the cause behind this – idea of Freedom. They believe in 4 Freedoms – Freedom of belief, expression, ownership and personal freedom

Personal Freedom

The fourth type of freedom which the Capitalist system calls for and works to achieve and protect is the personal freedom. According to this system, every human being has the right to live his private life as he wishes unless he transgresses against the private lives of other people. He has the right to marry or to have an extra-marital relationship with any woman as long as it is done with her consent.

He has the right to practice sexual perversion as long as this practice does not involve a minor. Also, he has the right to eat, drink and wear whatever he wants within the public laws. For these Capitalists, the concept of halal and haram does not exist when it comes to personal conduct, as long as the person behaves lawfully, and “lawful behaviour” in the Capitalist societies is subject to disparity from one society to another and from one time to another.

Religion has no influence upon this freedom. The system is detached from religion according to the Capitalist ideology. As a result of applying this type of freedom in the Capitalist societies, immorality has spread. Men and women live together without any legal relationship, and even men and women have partners of the same sex and establish abnormal relationships amongst themselves under the protection of the law.

The personal and sexual perversions that prevail in the Capitalist societies result from personal freedom which has also led to unbelievable conflicts. Pornographic magazines and movies, sex phone lines, and nude bars are just a few examples of the abnormalities and perversions which the Capitalist societies have degenerated to as a result of personal freedom. The evident disparity between one Capitalist society and another in the practice of this freedom results from the origin of the Capitalist societies and their gradual application of the Capitalist ideology.

The Capitalist societies were established on the ruins of the Feudal system and the traditions and culture upheld by the Church. Because it was impossible to change these traditions overnight, the Capitalists were divided among themselves. One group pushed to immediately abandon these traditions, whilst another group called for removing the old traditions and culture gradually by taking into consideration the reality of the societies and the prevalent culture and traditions at the time. Those who called for the immediate practice of freedom were called Liberals, and those who called for the gradual application of freedom were called Conservatives. Another intermediate group has surfaced between these two groups who were called Moderates. This “Middle Group” was also divided; some of them were more inclined to the Conservatives and were called Rightists, and some of them were more inclined to the Liberals and were called Leftist. The Capitalist societies still have these classifications of groups today.

A Muslim is not allowed to accept personal freedom because it allows what Allah has forbidden, even aside from it being a source of various social diseases. Personal freedom is the freedom of fornication, sexual perversion, immorality, drinking alcohol, and other diseases.

“And those who disbelieve, their actions are like a mirage in a desert. The thirsty one thinks it to be water, until he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing, but he finds Allah with him, Who will pay him his full due (hell). And Allah is swift in taking account.” [Nur: 39]

He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) also said:
“Two categories of people I have not seen them (yet): some people who hold whips like the tails of the cows by which they lash the people. And women who wear (clothes) but (are) half-naked, bending (their bodies) and bending the sight of the men to them. Their heads are like the tilted humps of the camels. These women will not enter the paradise nor will they experience its smell (odour), though its odour is felt at a distance of so and so (days)” [Muslim].

Islamic alternative

The Islamic social system properly applied, holds the long-term solution to the problem of HIV. It constructs a society that heavily emphasises the importance of marriage prior to sexual relations, even prescribing penalties on those who transgress such boundaries. The resulting society would therefore have a particular complexion. The society would be founded on a number of principles.

Firstly, an Islamic State would create an atmosphere conducive for taqwa (consciousness of Allah [swt]) to thrive. Islamic codes contain certain etiquettes, which guard against inappropriate social relationships. These include dress regulations and arrangement of private buildings.

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts.” [TMQ An-Nur : 30-31].

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “When a person commits fornication there goes out of him the Iman (belief) and it hovers like a canopy over his head and when he quits this act the Iman reverts to him again” [Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud]

It has been narrated by Abu Musa al-Ashari that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Any women that uses perfume and walks past men in order for them to smell her fragrance; she is a fornicator” [Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud].

The Shari’ah prevents khulwa (seclusion) between men and women. The reality of khulwa is that it makes the man and woman more sexually agitated. By prohibiting this solitary privacy a cause of corruption is eliminated, because the khulwa is one of the direct means to corruption.
Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day (Al-Yawm al-Akhir) let him not be alone with a woman who has not a Mahram (male relative who she cannot marry) with her. Indeed, the third (person) is al-Shaytan!” [Ahmad]

Taqwa & public opinion – quote of Umar – Those who are not corrected by the Taqwa are corrected by the Sultan (authority).

The Islamic punishment system enforces these rules

“The woman and man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes.” [TMQ An Nur: 2]

Narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari: a man from the tribe of Bani Aslam came to Allah’s Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) and informed him that he had committed illegal sexual intercourse and he bore witness four times against himself. Allah’s Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) ordered him to be stoned to death, as he was a married person. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol 8, Hadith no 805).

Homosexuality

From Ikrimah from ibn Abbas who said: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Lut, kill the doer and the one to whom it is done” [it is narrated by the five excep An-Nisai]

As for Ijma as-Sahabah, the Sahabah differed in the style of killing the homosexual; however, they had a consensus (ijma) on killing him. Al-Bayhaqi extracted from Ali (ra) that he stoned a homosexual, and Al-Bayhaqi extracted from Abu Bakr that he gathered the people in the concerning a man who was married just as women are married and he asked the companions of the Messenger of Allah (saw) about that. The most severe among them on that day was Ali (ra). He said: ‘No nation among the nations has disobeyed with this sin except one nation with whom Allah did what you know. We view that we should burn them with fire.’

And Ja’far bin Muhammad narrated from his father from Ali in other than this incident who said: ‘He is stoned then burnt with fire.’

Al-Bayhaqi extracted from ibn Abbas that he was asked about the hadd of the homosexual and said: ‘The highest building in the town is looked for then he is thrown from it upside down, then he is followed by stones.’ And it narrated from Ali: ‘He is killed by the sword then burnt due to the enormity of the sin.’ Umar and Uthman adopted ‘that a wall is thrown upon him.’ All these opinions collectively indicate killing even if they differ on the style of killing.

Marriage

Finally, Islam encourages marriage at a young age if possible, and seeks to remove the obstacles to this.

“Oh you who are young. Whoever amongst you can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him refrain from looking at other women, and guard his modesty (i.e. private parts from unlawful sex). And whoever is not able to marry he should fast because it will protect him” [Muslim].

Abu Hurairah (ra) narrates that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Three (persons) have a right from Allah to be helped: the Mujahid in the way of Allah, the seeker for marriage who wishes to guard his chastity and the slave who seeks funds to free oneself.”

The upshot of the Islamic social system regarding marriage is that young people would not have casual affairs but make strong commitments before engaging in sexual relationships. This is likely to go a long way in preventing the spread of HIV. In contrast with some major religions, it does not prohibit barrier contraception, which could be seen as the last protection against the spread of HIV rather than the only protection.

As for the injecting of drugs, intoxicants are absolutely prohibited in Islam and an Islamic social system would seek to eradicate drug use among its people. This would start with the cultivating of the individuals taqwa and creation of an Islamic atmosphere in society, but would proceed to an uncompromising crack down on the producers and dealers of drugs. It should be remembered that the medical name for heroine is diamorphine, which is used in many medical conditions and is currently in short supply (Britain’s National Health Service recently went through a national shortage, some hospitals running out altogether). Therefore such produce does not have to be traded illegally though the illegal version is
more profitable.

The Problem of Stigma – the Islamic view

Muslim countries with HIV problems such as Pakistan or Indonesia should cultivate an Islamic environment within their societies and this is the best way to eradicate the spread of HIV in the short and long term. HIV is not a disease exclusively transmitted between homosexuals. It is now possible to contract HIV without performing any action prohibited in Islam, although very unlikely. HIV must not carry a stigma in Islamic societies. If a person has performed a prohibited action it must be proven, otherwise speculation and suspicion is not permitted. If a person has performed a prohibited action and it has been proven, then he should be penalised as proscribed in Islam, but the presence or absence of this infection does not make him or her guilty of any further crime.

In Islam having HIV is not a sin in itself. It is mostly, but not exclusively, transmitted through prohibited actions and it is those actions that should be frowned upon if it is proven that they have been performed, regardless of the transmission of this virus.

Seeking a cure – Prophet (saw) said “For every disease there is a cure, so seek the cure”

Conclusion

Eliminating the stigma and cultivating an Islamic society may contribute to controlling the spread of HIV in Islamic lands. Those who have already contracted the virus should be treated with the appropriate medications with compassion.

As for the non-Muslim lands, they are likely to continue to suffer hugely until a satisfactory model of an Islamic society can be displayed to them proving its capability to prevent HIV. Strong political leadership in these countries is required to modify behaviours but these political leaders need something to lead with which they do not currently have.

The importance of retroviral drugs and future vaccines should not be over-emphasised. They are needed for those people who currently suffer from the virus, but are not the solution. Even if a vaccine or cure is found, it will inevitably be expensive and there are many terrible eminently treatable infections that plague the developing world and are not treated due to expense or practicality leading to millions of deaths each year. Pharmaceutical companies will not solve this problem.

The Euro/American plan of action involving condoms, clean needles and medication has not worked so far and is unlikely to work in the long run. Total social change is required world wide to help stem the spread of this disease but that must be based on ideas and only the Islamic ideology has a social structure likely to tackle this disease. This is particularly relevant in affected Muslim countries, which should act as leaders by example.

These changes are needed immediately because sub-Saharan Africa, standing now as 28 million infected and 2.4 million dead, cannot continue like this for much longer.

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