“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), 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, and not to show off their adornment…” (Surah Noor 24:30-31)
“Successful indeed are the believers…those who guard their private parts.” (Surah Mu’minun 23:1, 23:5)
“Protect your private parts except from your wives or those whom your right hands possess.”
Several human rights and religious groups have expressed their disapproval and opposition of such scanners on the grounds of violation of privacy and human dignity. From amongst these groups, The Fiqh Council of North America published the following fatwa:
“The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) emphasizes that a general and public use of such scanners is against the teachings of Islam, natural law and all religions and cultures that stand for decency and modesty.
It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women be seen naked by other men and women. Islam highly emphasizes ‘haya’ (modesty) and considers it part of faith. The Qur’an has commanded the believers, both men and women, to cover their private parts. Human beings are urged to be modest in their dress. [See Holy Quran, 7:26-27; 24:30-31; 33:59.]
FCNA fully supports the necessary measures for the safety and protection of all passengers. It is, however, deeply concerned about the use of nude body scanners for this purpose. FCNA recommends that instead of producing and displaying a picture of the body, software should be designed to produce only the picture of questionable materials on an outline of the body.”
Further, other technologies could be used that detect the presence of explosives without infringing on modesty as some European leaders have pointed out.
As for the scanners themselves, such an ‘improvement’ in current security measures is neither required nor warranted. The pretext under which the scanners were introduced, namely the most recently alleged attempt to bring an airliner down over the Atlantic, is by no means a substantiating excuse, given that the Dutch airport (from where the alleged conspirator boarded the plane) failed to implement even the most basic of security measures (such as metal or chemical detectors, or even a passport!), let alone more stringent processes such as those previously found at Heathrow or JFK airport. The fact that there have been no successful attacks by conspirators flying from the UK or the US demonstrates that the existing security measures preceding the scanners were clearly sufficient.
Furthermore, the speed at which the scanners were introduced after the alleged attack implies that there was a plan to implement this scheme before the attack and certain agencies were merely waiting for a pretext by which they could put it into practice. However, whether this was the case or not, there exists no definitive reason as to why these scanners must be used at airports, and beyond being an infringement of our rights, there exists no consistent argument as to why previous security measures may have been insufficient.
It is compulsory for all Muslims to exert every possible effort to prevent the implementation of Body Scanners. At present it is merely in its trial phase whereby airports are attempting to normalize the procedure with a view to normalize the validity of its use in the minds of common individuals. Furthermore, we call upon all human beings to rise against this violation of our rights and exercise all possible means to stop this breach of morality and cause of degradation.
It is also obligatory upon Muslim groups and individuals of the west to exercise whatever power they have and apply pressure on their government to stop the use of such scanners. This includes writing to their MPs, Councilors, influential people and government agencies. It also constitutes marching against this unwarranted imposition; it should be condemned by working with civil liberty groups and lawyers to expose its violation of basic human rights that are also protected by Islam. Muslims living in Muslim countries should also apply pressure on their governments to exercise their influence on western governments to stop the use of these scanners. This includes the refusal to send their students or citizens to such countries in which these scanners are in operation. Muslims elsewhere are commanded to forbid this iniquity as much as they can by boycotting countries and sending letters of condemnation to the embassies of such governments involved.
We must remember that each one of us will be held accountable for the failure to act in forbidding evil and calling for righteousness. Indeed Allah the Most High states,
“And when a community among them said: “Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy or to punish with a severe torment?” (The preachers) said: ‘In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (God), and perhaps they may fear Allah.’” (Al A’raaf 7:164)
May Allah guide us all to what is good and righteous, and may He save us from the evil of others and ourselves. May Allah’s peace and blessing be upon His final Messenger, Muhammad, his family, his companions, and all those who follow in righteousness.
Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom’s Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari’ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.