On refusing to stand for a judge

One of two Somali women charged with funneling money to a terrorist group in Somalia was taken out of a federal court in Minneapolis today because she refused to stand for the judge as the trial opened.

An attorney for Amina Farah Ali, 35, says she refused to stand on religious grounds.

This is a new experience for the justice system here, but there are several instances of this dilemma facing judges in Europe.

In 2008, Mohammed Enait refused to stand for a judge in the Netherlands because he considered all men equal. The court agreed to allow him to sit, although members of Parliament were outraged. “It can’t be so that an individual with extreme ideas can tackle general manners,” Sybrand van Haersma Buma.

Last year in the UK, several Muslim protesters who were accused of insulting soldiers returning from Iraq also refused to stand. They were threatened with contempt of court but the judge backed off, eventually allowing the defendants to enter after she was already in the courtroom.

The men claimed it would be a “grave and cardinal sin” to show anyone other than Allah respect by standing.

The Islam Q&A website addresses the question of whether Muslims should stand as a sign of respect:

The one who claims that there is any created being for whom one should stand out of respect have given that created being one of the rights of Allaah.

Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever likes men to stand up for him, let him take his place in Hell.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2755); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. That is because this is part of the might and pride that belongs only to Allaah.

In further clarifying whether it’s permissible to stand as a sign of respect, the site also says it is “not permissible for the Muslim to stand out of respect for any national anthem or flag, rather this is a reprehensible innovation which was not known at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or at the time of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs (may Allaah be pleased with them), and it is contrary to perfect Tawheed and sincere veneration of Allaah alone.”

Still, when hundreds of people — many of them Muslim people from Somalia — took their oath to become U.S. citizens last July, everyone stood.