Monday, May 6, 2019

Islamic Shariat and the Individual Muslim

By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
01 May 2019
In the name of bringing back the Islamic Shariat, several groups are actively engaged. The question is which Shariat? There is the stagnant Shariat of the past based on paradigms of the previous scriptures and concocted Ahadith antithetical to the letter and spirit of the Quran. It was this suffocating Shariat that prevented adoption of the printing press by a couple of centuries leaving us far behind Europe. It is the same Shariat that frowned on scientific study and promoted obscurantism. It is this Shariat that invited the wrath of Allah who inflicted colonial rule on us to give us a break from it so that we could rebuild anew. Have we rebuilt anew based on a correct understanding of the Quran dispensing with the paradigms of the previous scriptures and concocted Ahadith? We have not. So, if we are hankering for the same Shariat, is it to invite the wrath of Allah once again and have a foreign rule imposed on us?
The call is made in the name of restoring the ‘Sovereignty of Allah’! Is the sovereignty of Allah subject to us humans proclaiming and establishing it? Allah can any day impose his Will on us and take away from us our freedom and autonomy which He did when he subjected us to colonial rule. Do not fall for such misleading political slogans. Without doubt, we believe in following the Shariat of Allah or the Deen of Allah, but what the Classical Islamic Fiqh teaches us, is a hideous caricature of the Shariat of the Quran.
What does the Shariat or the Deen of Allah mean to us as individuals? It is to follow the commands of Allah in letter and spirit. No matter in which country we live, except perhaps China and Russia, we can practice our religion. As an individual, we need to follow the commands of Allah and do not for example, commit adultery. Establishing the Quranic punishment for adultery is the duty of the State and not of the individual. Even when such laws are established, our religion does not encourage us to bring the guilty to punishment. As a matter of fact, our religion actively discourages us from bearing witness, and punishes the witnesses with 80 stripes if the guilt is not established with four witnesses, even though it cannot be said that those who bore witness were lying. The religion encourages us to correct the wrong doers but not to bring them to punishment. We do not therefore become less Muslim, because the State does not implement the Quranic laws, because even if it did, we will try to correct the wrong doer rather than report to the authorities and bear witness to get the guilty punished. This is however not understood by those who hanker after the Shariat. The first thing that they do to prove that they have established the “Sovereignty of Allah” is to inflict the harsh punishments publicly on a large number of people.  What a hideous version of Islam these tyrants want to install!
It is only when a large majority of Muslims bring the Quranic Shariat in their personal lives that the laws of the State will change. Democracy is the best way, the only way, and indeed the Islamic way to bring about change in a religion that proclaims “let there be no compulsion in religion”. It cannot be imposed through violence by pressure groups capturing political office. Without exception, when they succeed, they impose a tyrannical rule.
The so called Classical Islamic Shariat, is anything but Islamic, and deserved to be uprooted through imposing colonial rule on us. What distinguishes the Quran from all previous scriptures is the overarching rule “let there be no compulsion in religion”. There can therefore be no law or rule forcing a Muslim to pray or fast or for Muslim women to wear hijab or veil or to punish a Muslim from leaving his religion. It is for the individual to decide what he or she will or will not do without impinging on the rights of others or disturbing public order.
The Quranic Shariat Differs From The Classical Shariat On Every Subject. For Example,
1. There is no punishment for homosexuality except strong Social disapproval and punishment only for public acts of indecency.
2. There is no punishment for apostasy. There is no punishment for blasphemy and heresy. There can be a law against disturbing of public order or inciting hatred but not impinging on academic independence or right to criticism.

3. The Divorce process as per the Shariat of the Quran is different from classical Islamic Shariat.

4. Classical Islamic fiq errs in the inheritance related calculations.
5. Classical Islamic fiq errs on female witnessing.
6. The Rules of war are ill-defined in classical Islamic Shariat. There is no duty imposed on the Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims and bring them under Islamic Shariat. Read: The Principles of War from the Quran
7. The relationship with the ‘other’ or the non-Muslim is ill-defined in classical Islamic Shariat.
8. Imposing ‘Jiziya’ on non-Muslims was never a religious requirement even in the Prophet’s times.
What the individual Muslim needs to do is to study the Quran carefully and understand how the bigoted Islamic scholarship has led us into a dead-end street, reject the out-dated Classical Islamic Shariat which is based on concocted ahadith and paradigms of the previous scriptures, and rebuild the Shariat afresh based on an authentic reading of the Quran. This requires the democratic process. The argument of how Islam got established in the past without the democratic process is of no relevance. We do not have in our midst today, a Prophet receiving divine revelations to guide us whom we can unquestioningly follow. We have fallible human beings with a bigoted and tyrannical view of Islam, trying to appropriate to themselves the power and position of a Prophet, and establish their tyrannical rule. Reject these pretenders.
We have the Quran, which is understood differently by different people, and therefore, no single individual, group, or sect, can have the authority to impose its view on the rest. We have no choice but to follow the democratic process. As individuals however, it is our duty to Allah, to read the Quran, understand it, and implement it in our lives in the best manner possible, and also to teach and promote it. We as a people, society, nation, and Ummah can succeed only when we do what we need to do, as an individual first.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to

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