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Hamid Slimi. Photo: Screenshot video Facebook Dr. Hamid Slimi

Hamid Slimi: “We do not believe that Islam is incompatible with Canadian life”

On January 14, 2019 The Fifth Estate, the Premier Investigative Documentary Program of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) exposed that some Canadian “imams are willing to perform marriages for men who already have a wife, and many of these second marriages likely go unregistered.”

CBC reported that “several Muslim women fed up with polygamous men in their community pointed us in the direction of Imam Aly Hindy of the Salaheddin Islamic Center in Toronto.”

Here is an excerpt from The Fifth Estate:

CBC: So Imam Hamid Slimi is a prominent Canadian Imam, based in Mississauga and he has spoken out against polygamy. Here is some tape of what he recently said in a sermon followed by a conversation I had with him.

Hamid Slimi: And most of these polygamy, the way it’s practiced today is unfair to women. So we want to make it clear that we don’t encourage polygamy.

[…]

The context is very important. It was permitted for a certain, within a certain context in the past hundreds of years ago, but it’s not acceptable. Context is very critical here. If people want to do that, they can go and live in countries where it’s permissible, but here in Canada it’s not allowed.

On January 15, 2019 Hamid Slimi, Resident Scholar of Sayeda Khadija Centre, posted on his Facebook page a detailed article about Islamic ruling on polygamy. Here are excepts from the article:

Canadian Muslims and Polygamy… 3. The ruling of polygamy in our classical Islamic jurisprudence is permissibility. It is not a required act nor an openly recommended injunction. Rather, the default and the closest to justice is to be married to one wife as Allah (swt) says, [If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or that which your right hands possess. That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.] (Qur’an: Chap 04, V.3) Orphan girls, as Sayeda Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) explained were at risk of abuse and their guardians taken advantage of them.

4. So, Islam permitted polygamy as a solution of orphans’ problems and some social and domestic problems in a context where it is permissible not where it is illegal. Therefore, it cannot be practiced while leading a person to being incriminated…

Based on my personal observation and experience in marriage counselling and dispute resolution for many years, I can say with confidence that in our current context the majority (not all) of the polygamous marriages are unfair to women and many men in such arrangements do not take up the full responsibility of a married husband with either the first wife, or the second wife or both of them. Not to mention the equity and impartiality issue between children in terms of time, finances, attention, affection and presence in their lives…

6. Another question was about what the imams are doing to help women who are seeking help when they find out about their husbands’ secret marriages or when they are forced directly or indirectly to accept imposed polygamous marriages and suffer emotionally and financially. I explained that polygamy in Islam has many conditions but unfortunately many people do not fulfill those conditions. As Imams, we can only educate, guide and help to the best of our knowledge and ability. We definitely – as most of the Muslims – oppose abuse of religion, abuse of women and abuse of authority. We believe in treating women in the best manner and that the standard of goodness in a man is in how he treats his wife and family as Prophet Muhammad (S) taught us more than 1400 years ago. The vast majority of Muslim women do not like polygamy due to the injustices committed and harm inflicted on many of them not to mention the ceaseless emotional traumas on them and their children.

As Canadian Muslims, we are proud of our religion and we do not believe that Islam is incompatible with Canadian life because Islam believes in universal values and is flexible and universal. There is no dichotomy unless some of us insist on it. We are free to practice our religion and we are allowed within the laws and charter of freedom and rights to seek accommodation to practice what is ordained (الأوامر) and seek exemptions to avoid what is forbidden (النواهي) such as our religious duties and our dietary restrictions…etc., However, what is permissible (مباح) but illegal here is not treated the same way. If Islam allows things within a certain context and with specific conditions but they are for some reason not allowed in a society like Canada then we cannot practice them if they lead to committing a crime and breaking the laws of the land…

So long as the laws of the country do not allow an act, we should not commit it just for the fact that it was allowed in our religion unless it is something we are ordained to do then we should find ways to seek our rights to practice that act. For example, if Halal food and its preparation process become illegal for some reason then we should do our best effort to find ways to seek exemption or review of those laws. Fortunately, Thanks God this is not the case in Canada and we pray that our freedom of religion will never be compromised. And Allah knows best!

In a comment on his post Hamid Slimi wrote:

…I hate doing these TV interviews on controversial issues but I never expected it will get to this. We do not want to show that the community is divided on the issue that the laws of the land are respected and upheld even if they deny us some of the permissible things in our religion. It would only strengthen the Islamophobes’ argument that there is a dichotomy between Islam’s laws and values and the West. The very incompatibility we keep hearing everyday between Islam and Western democratic values. The Council of Imams asked me to address the issue of whether the Imams are performing and promoting polygamous marriages and not helping make the community members be aware that it is considered a criminal act. Our main goal is to stand for Islam and stress the fact that it is not about breaking laws and challenging them but rather finding ways to work out things without compromising our values and principles which are universal and natural…

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About Rachel Ehrenfeld

Rachel Ehrenfeld
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is Founder and President of the New York-based American Center for Democracy, and the Economic Warfare Institute. Dr. Ehrenfeld has authored academic and policy papers and more than one thousand articles. Her books include FUNDING EVIL: How Terrorism is Financed – and How to Stop Ii (2011) • EVIL MONEY (HarperCollins, 1992,1994). Her latest book project is on The Economic Warfare against the U.S. from Within and Without. • NARCOTERRORISM (Basic Books, 1990, 1992).

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