Why We Need, How it Works, and How to Use It

Why We Need, How it Works, and How to Use It

By: Danish Qasim and Danya Shakfeh, Esq.
May 17, 2019

Why we need it: Islamic law has a vast scope of interpretation. When there is no enforcement mechanism of strong views over weak ones, or of any particular interpretation, we are left with a free-for-all where any interpretation may be used to justify unethical behavior. There is still an expectation of ethical behavior and moral practices that congregants, teachers, leaders, students, and donors expect, which is why unethical practices are generally hidden. When abuse is brought to light, religious loopholes and obscure interpretation is used to justify exploitative, deceitful, and harmful behavior that would never have been initially approved. When these offenses are not criminal, there is no mechanism for accountability. With our code of conduct, we are giving both institutions and individuals a mechanism to hold abusers accountable.

How it works: Our Code of Conduct serves as a type of contract to work in conjunction with the employment contract in Muslim institutions. Though an attorney should be consulted in order to ensure that they these documents are binding, policies do not necessarily need to be signed by every party nor do they need to be called a ‘contract’ in order to be legally binding.  Thus when institutions adopt our code employees and employers both have remedies as to spiritual abuse. When an employee at an institution violates the institution’s policies, this is a “breach of contract” that can result in firing an abuser or even monetary damages. In other words, our policy is the document that victims and institutions can use to back their cases when there are allegations involving abuse. If a victim’s claims are dismissed, or if the institution covers up abuse, the policies can also hold institutions themselves liable for not enforcing the policy and remedies as to victims’ abuse.  Policies also serve the purpose putting the community and their beneficiaries and patrons on notice as to what is expected of them.  By binding the parties to a contract, victims and institutions can take these contracts, along with the abusers, to court and use the contract to fill in the gap for appropriate behavior that the law otherwise does not fill.This is the gold standard of ethical guidelines for Muslims scholars and leaders and we believe it will provide remedies to victims that would otherwise not be available through other legal means.

How to use it: Simply download our code and add it to your institutional handbook, website, or employment contract. You can add needs specific to your institutions. For that please refer to our appendix for the code and we suggest reaching out for training and customization.

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