Thursday, August 25, 2022

Sharia Is the Most Controversial Concept in the World - Although Its Interpretation Is Human

By Dr Asad Syed, New Age Islam 25 August 2022 Sharia Was Just Supposed To Be A Way Of Living; It Was Not Meant To Be Associated With Political Power Main Points: 1. No religious law has ever had worse press than the Sharia has in recent times. 2. To many, the Sharia conjures the horrors of hands being cut off, adulterers being beaten, and women being oppressed. 3. Different people understand and apply the Sharia in different ways. ------ What is Sharia in Islam? There was a time when Afghanistan was a modern state, faith was a private matter, burqas were optional, and women and men could travel together. Right next door, Iran was not far behind; it was on par with the Western world. Women could step out without a veil and even meet men in public, but Iran and Afghanistan are very different today. The hijab is mandatory and Western clothing is frowned upon; clerics dictate societal norms, religious police patrol the streets, and civil rights are non-existent. What happened in these countries? They came under Sharia law. Arguably the most controversial concept in the world is the concept of Sharia. It's back in the news after the Taliban took over Kabul. The first question, what is Sharia? To many, the word conjures the horrors of hands being cut off, adulterers being beaten, and women being oppressed. In fact, no religious law has ever had worse press than the Sharia has in recent times. Why is that so? Thanks to the misrepresentation, manipulation, and misuse of the Sharia by Islamic regimes, politicians, clerics, and radical terrorists, they've all used the Sharia to rule in the name of God. Sharia has no clear definition. Different people understand and apply the Sharia in different ways. In the latter case, the Sharia is an Islamic legal and spiritual system, both divine and philosophical, religious because it is said to be God's will for humankind, and philosophical because it is based on human understanding. In Arabic, the Sharia translates as "the clear well-trodden path to the water." The human interpretation of Sharia is called the Fiqh, which means "understanding." These terms are used interchangeably, but they're not the same. Sharia is considered divine and permanent, infallible, but its interpretation is human. It's a set of rules by Muslim scholars over the centuries. These rules have been drafted and applied to suit those in power. The laws of Sharia are derived from three sources of the Quran, Islam’s holy book - the Sunnah, the deeds and sayings of Prophet Muhammad, and a range of other sources promoted by early scholars and Ulema, like how God wants Muslims to live. Still, there is no single law book, definite statute, or set judicial proceeding to determine the Sharia. It's a vast collection of different, often conflicting interpretations. These interpretations gave birth to five legal schools of Sharia. They are not different in the fundamentals of the faith. Still, in their practice, there are differences in how they pray, resolve legal matters, settle marital disputes, and deliver punishment for certain crimes. This is understandable because no religion is uniform. Still, the problem begins when religion is mixed with the government. Many Muslims who embraced the Sharia thought of it as a substitute for the law of the land, and that's where the problem lies. Sharia was just supposed to be a way of living. It was not meant to be associated with political power. When European colonialism ended in much of West Asia, Africa, and Asia, the leaders of the newly formed Muslim majority countries faced a dilemma; should they govern based on previous Islamic values, or should they embrace laws inherited from colonial rule? They proclaimed the Sharia as the basis of their legal justice system. In 1932, Saudi Arabia was formed as a theocratic monarchy, and in 1979, Iran witnessed the Islamic revolution. Until then, Iran was a secular monarchy. After the process, the clerics took power, and the country became the Islamic Republic. In 1996, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan and made it a terror regime based on the Sharia. What makes this law acceptable in some countries and horrific in others is its understanding and implementation. Some countries enforce the most discriminatory and patriarchal aspects of Sharia. They selectively pick certain verses from the Quran and legalize draconian practices like polygamy, triple Talaq, and genital mutilation. Representative Image ------ They also enforce rules that had little or no basis in Islam; research shows that most of these punishments were not sanctioned in the Quran. The Prophet did not practice them, yet today they've been made the highlights of the Sharia. They're being used to dictate the daily lives of Muslims the world over. Many followers do not understand this. They stubbornly uphold ignorant and unjust practices. The biggest victims of this are Muslim women. Does God judge differently based on gender? For many clerics, it does; even though women worked and fought alongside the Prophet, they don't tell you this. In some countries, women cannot step out without an Abaya, but men can dress the way they want; women cannot stand for president, but men can govern for a lifetime. Still, men are allowed to have four wives; women cannot travel without male guardians; women cannot drive. Women cannot retain custody of their children after a divorce. They receive half of what is awarded to their brothers in inheritance. It is cited to justify what they called the conquest mindset to wage wars in the name of Islam, especially by terror outfits. They will portray themselves as more faithful than other Muslims. They use religious scholars in their ranks to make finely crafted arguments to use religion as a pretext to perpetrate violence. They exploit people who have little understanding of Islam. They recruit them as foot soldiers to fight their politically motivated wars. Some join them in the name of faith, some in the name of their land, some for a good paycheck, and some because they're just murderous. This is not the Sharia. Much damage has been done in the name of religion, including people from all faiths, by people from all cultures. That's true for the Sharia, yet it remains a way of life for 1.8 billion followers of Islam in more than 57 countries. Rational people think all things, including religion, must evolve with time. If some practices are outdated, they must end. Religious laws have no place in modern nation-states governed by a constitution. If the Sharia interpretation and approach clashes with today's way of life and social structures, then perhaps it’s the time for society to bring changes and revision after reflection rather than resentment. ---- Dr Syed N. Asad, MD, FACP served as a vice-president and a treasurer on the executive board of IMANA (Islamic Medical Association of North America) and a physician at Senior Friendship Health Centre, Naples, Florida. He graduated from high school in Hyderabad, India, with high honours; attended Osmania University Medical School; and completed his medical training in the United States. He taught medicine and nephrology at a New York state university for nearly twenty years before opening an independent practice. He is the author of a book, Selected Collections of the Holy Quran in English: A Companion for Young Muslims to Understand the Divine Messages of Prophet Mohammad. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

No comments:

Post a Comment