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Khan quizzed on knowledge of Qur’an
Former Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) president Brother Noble Khan was yesterday quizzed on his knowledge of the Qur’an as part his testimony in the ongoing sedition trial of Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr. While under cross-examination by Bakr’s defence attorney Wayne Sturge, Khan, a leader of the Trinidad Muslim League (TML), was questioned about his knowledge of the Islamic principle of zakaat. Zakaat requires Muslims to give two and half per cent of their wealth to charity. Khan explained that there were multiple categories of people listed in the Qur’an who are deserving of zakaat.
Sturge repeatedly asked Khan to identify the sections of Bakr’s hour-long speech which were of the most concern to him. Khan responded: “When he (Bakr) said if I don’t give a reason for (not) giving zakaat, then take it.”
Sturge said: “In your own understanding, the nature of zakaat is that it is impossible to steal it or take it by force?” However, Khan strongly disagreed, saying it was possible. He said from his understanding, the contributions were voluntary but according to the Qur’an, Muslims were obligated to make them. He said the Qur’an sets out a punishment for wealthy Muslims who failed to make zakaat contributions. Sturge suggested that if a Muslim refused to make the zakaat contribution and gave a reason, the person collecting it would have to accept the reason. Khan agreed. Khan admitted that while with the TML he was part of a committee which oversaw the collection of zakaat from its members. He noted that he was not an Islamic scholar, who he said would be able to explain more details of zakaat.
Despite being repeatedly offered a copy of the Qur’an to identify sections which supported his statements, Khan refused, saying he could not do so. Khan is one of the State’s main witnesses, as his name was mentioned by Bakr in his controversial Eid-ul-Fitr sermon which was delivered in November 2005. Khan served as an Independent Senator from 2002 to 2007. Bakr, of La Puerta Avenue, Diego Martin, is before Justice Mark Mohammed and a nine-member jury in the Port-of-Spain Third Criminal Court. Apart from sedition, Bakr faces charges of provoking a breach of the peace and two charges of inciting others to demand money by menace. Bakr’s legal team includes attorneys Naveen Maraj and Hasine Shaikh. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal and state prosecutor Renuka Rambhajan. Khan is expected to take the witness stand again today.
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