Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
If you are a Muslim and are reading this article, you were probably surprised or even appalled and shocked by the title and you want to forcefully tell me that you like and prefer cars, especially the newer and the trendy models.
When it comes to cars, cell phones, computers and other technology, we all understand that we have to submit to the scientific revolution in the West and look towards them or the manufacturing they have kick started in Japan, Korea and China.
But, when it comes to political and legal systems, most Muslims in many of the Muslim majority countries, want to lean towards Sharia Law, without even precisely defining what they mean by Sharia Law.
They may realize that they need foreign cars, phones, televisions, medicines even simple things like needles, but, when it comes to running the country and its laws, they seem to know and seem to have no reliance on others. They believe that Sharia Law is the magical wand they need in the legal and the political sphere!
A recent Pew Research Center survey of more than 38,000 Muslims around the world, in 2012 and 2013, in the 39 countries and territories surveyed, gave very revealing information.
In South Asia, high percentages in all the countries surveyed support making sharia the official law, including nearly universal support among Muslims in Afghanistan (99%). More than eight-in-ten Muslims in Pakistan (84%) and Bangladesh (82%) also hold this view. The percentage of Muslims who say they favor making Islamic law the official law in their country is nearly as high across the Southeast Asian countries surveyed (86% in Malaysia, 77% in Thailand and 72% in Indonesia).
They want windows operating system, by Microsoft, even if plagiarized, to work on their computers, but, could not care less that there are also more than 200 Law Schools in USA and what they teach. They do not care for the countless libraries that are filled with legal debates in the Western countries.
They want to benefit from the scientific revolution over the last few centuries in Europe and USA, but, could not care less for what political and legal debates have taken place in the Western world in the last few centuries.
When it comes to law, politics and economics, majority of the Muslims unknowingly want to revert back to the seventh century Arabia and completely ignore all the human learning, experience, struggle and scholarship since, as if that did not happen.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, advised the Muslims, “A word of wisdom is the lost property of a Muslim. He should seize it wherever he finds it,” (Tirmizi), but, when it comes to political, judicial and economic progress in the West, the Muslims have no predisposition to study it and benefit from it. Often they do not want to even acknowledge that there may be something worth while in the centuries of struggle and debate in the West.
Let us look at a graph of different countries and their blind love for the Sharia:
In sub-Saharan Africa, at least half of Muslims in most countries surveyed say they favor making sharia the official law of the land, including more than seven-in-ten in Niger (86%), Djibouti (82%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (74%) and Nigeria (71%).
Support for sharia as the official law of the land also is widespread among Muslims in the Middle East-North Africa region – especially in Iraq (91%) and the Palestinian territories (89%). Only in Lebanon does opinion lean in the opposite direction: 29% of Lebanese Muslims favor making sharia the law of the land, while 66% oppose it.
Support for making sharia the official legal code of the country is relatively weak across Central Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe, countries or regions, which have been under the influence of Europe or communist USSR. Fewer than half of Muslims in all the countries surveyed in these regions favor making sharia their country’s official law. Support for sharia as the law of the land is greatest in Russia (42%); respondents in Russia were asked if sharia should be made the official law in the country’s ethnic-Muslim republics. Elsewhere in Central Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe, about one-in-three or fewer say sharia should be made the law of the land, including just 10% in Kazakhstan and 8% in Azerbaijan.
I am not here to condemn the Sharia Law. There are beautiful guiding principles in the Sharia, for all spheres of life and many of the Western laws may have been borrowed from the Muslim tradition, but, understanding of Sharia Laws has not seen the evolutionary process under the scrutiny of human reason that the Western laws have gone through, in the last few centuries. Over the years, I have collected some materials about Islam’s contributions to the Western law and here I link a few examples, to ensure that I am presenting a fair and balanced record to the readers:
Prof. John Makdisi traces the Islamic Origins of the Common Law
The Holy Prophet Muhammad Recognized, as a Great Law-Giver, by US Supreme Court in 1935
So, when the Muslims insist on Sharia Law and show disdain against the Western learning in the fields of law, political science and economics, it is as if they prefer camels over modern cars.
Their unbridled love for every thing that goes under the label of ‘Sharia Law’ is not coming from any deeper level of understanding, but, merely blind religious zeal. The Pew Forum survey also highlighted this fact:
The level of religious commitment makes a big difference in attitudes about the implementation of sharia. Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely than those who pray less frequently to favor Islamic law as the official law of the land. The difference is particularly large in Russia (+37 percentage points), Lebanon (+28), the Palestinian territories (+27), Tunisia (+25) and Kyrgyzstan (+24).
Many Muslims in their zeal for the Sharia Law, completely forget the religious freedom of the non-Muslims and for that matter for the Muslims themselves, is so frequently mentioned in the Holy Quran.
The belief that sharia should extend to non-Muslims is most widespread in the Middle East and North Africa, where at least four-in-ten Muslims in all countries except Iraq (38%) and Morocco (29%) hold this opinion. Egyptian Muslims (74%) are the most likely to say it should apply to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, while 58% in Jordan hold this view.
By contrast, Muslims in Southern and Eastern Europe who favor making sharia the official law of the land are among the least likely to say it should apply to all citizens in their country. Across the nations surveyed in the region, fewer than a third take this view. This includes 22% of Russian Muslims (who were asked about the applying sharia in their country’s ethnic Muslim republics).
The picture below highlights the breakdown of the Muslims in different countries on the issue of non-Muslims:
How can you be for Sharia and against religious freedom of others?
Muslim masses could know better, if the Muslim religious scholars and leaders were to give them better information. Most of us can remember the idiom, to a hammer every thing looks like a nail, when the religious leaders read the Quran and early Muslim history, they realize that there may a political recipe, a panacea to make them the political elite. They then very quickly white wash their true intentions with grandiose ideas of service to religion and service to humanity and lead the Muslim masses into their schizophrenic love with the Sharia Law. A few misinterpretation of a few verses of the Holy Quran by the leaders and we have the masses crying for Sharia, sometimes even in Europe, as if they prefer camels over the modern cars.
Growing up in Pakistan, I recall that all the opposition parties, nine of them all together, in late seventies, had started an agitation against a popular Prime Minister, Zulifqar Ali Bhutto, probably with Western financing, but, they were all demanding Sharia Law. This included all the left leaning political parties also, who had nothing to do with Sharia Law before or since. Once the Western money stopped flowing, after General Zia ul Haq took over power, the left leaning politicians’ zeal for Sharia Law quickly dissipated.
General Zia ul Haq also used Sharia Law to justify his dictatorship and introduced Blasphemy laws, which are still menacing the country. He actually raised the bar, by having the audacity to conduct a referendum on Islam. If you liked Islam and voted yes in the referendum, it implied a green signal for the rule of Zia ul Haq, without his name appearing any where on the ballot.
Similar stories have been repeated in almost every Muslim majority country, but, the love affair of the masses with the Sharia knows no abating, after all they love the religion of Islam and do not want to give it up in their personal lives and their relationship with God and become an easy target for political exploitation.
Until the Muslim masses are better educated about the benefits of enlightened political, legal and economic systems and how they relate with what was practiced as Sharia Law in medieval ages and in Mughal and Ottoman Empire, they will always have the propensity to go back to Sharia Law, as there are short sighted Muslim scholars or actual religious charlatans, leading the masses towards a nostalgic journey to seventh century Arabia, under the label of Sharia Law, the Quran and the Sunnah.
Until the Muslim masses are educated better they will continue to prefer camels over modern cars.
Categories: Highlight, Secularism, Separation of Church and State, Sharia Law
Sharia is primarily for self reformation. Only a few verses in the Holy Quran give principled guidance for some matters of governance.
Under scrutiny from the West Muslims always claim that their religion is misunderstood. The area of Sharia is where this applies the best. Muslim religious and political leaders have always misinterpreted these verses to suit their personal ambitions.
As an example, the Quran says, “Your matters will be decided by mutual consultation”. Now we all know that the Muslim culture has always been authoritative. Our religious and political leaders do not like suggestions and always want to keep all the authority to themselves. The democracy was invented in the West not by the Muslims. Even today ask any Muslim religious scholar and he will misinterpret this verse to the point that the “mutual consultation” will become a joke. Almost all will claim the authority to throw away all the suggestion and do whatever they like.
This is how primitive we are in the matter of governance.
In other matters it is no different. So before we start craving for sharia, let us focus on the part which applies to us. Let us become upright, honest and hardworking persons. The rest will take care of itself.
And once we can free ourselves from the “shirk” of “aqeedat”, we might be able to understand what the Quran says, instead of what our leaders say.
This is a very good article about application of Sharia law in the lands. The Quran and Sunnah ha given prior information about the abandonment of the Camels. There is a verse in the Quran (81:5) which translates “AND When the she camels, 10 month pregnant will be abandoned.”
That means camels will not be useful any more. There is a Hadith also, in Muslim, which states that “ The camels will be abandoned and will not be used for going from one place to another”.
No doubt Sharia is the best law because it does away with many bad habits of drinking and gambling and illicit sex matters. But the law cannot be enforced in a mixed society of differing nations. I may present the reason for the mistakes of the learned Muslims of today, in my next post, Insha Allah.
Zia Shah sahib has rightly pointed out in these words ,” A few misinterpretation of a few verses of the Holy Quran by the leaders and we have the masses crying for Sharia, sometimes even in Europe, as if they prefer camels over the modern cars.” I will Insha Allah present those few verses where they went wrong and they misled the whole Ummah Muslimah.
Lutf has also given good reasons and described the malady very well.
If anyone was not conviced completely about the paramount need for Separation of Mosque-Church and State, this video clip should do the trick for him or her. In this interview Munawar Hasan the leader of the largest religio-political party in Pakistan is perfectly comfortable in denying rape victims any forensic evidence and keeping them in jail, if they are unable to produce four eye witnesses. Such lack of insight and empathy should send shivers down the spine of every sensitive human! My apologies to the English readers, for the video clip is in Urdu. You will need to find an Urdu translator.
Munawar Hasan is also completely unable to conceptualize that he may not have the correct interpretation of the Holy Quran.
I humbly suggest that instead of sharia we can use the word Islamic Jurisprudence. Sharia to me is like a Taliban kind of extremist work. Islamic Jurisprudence will need modern Forensic Medicine. This is only applicable in a real Muslim state. The condition of today asks for sure a secular government with religious freedom,
May Allah protect Pakistan from the kind of Muslim scholar shown in the video clip.
Just few verses are shown below. The other are not present in my mind at present there are two groups of three verses each, giving similar meaning. Please follow. It may show why some Muslims are trying to go back to fighting and camels. They have discarded the camels. So they should discard the fighting too. See below:
[5:45] Surely, We sent down the Torah wherein was guidance and light. By it did the Prophets, who were obedient to Us, judge for the Jews, as did the godly people and those learned in the Law; for they were required to preserve the Book of Allah, and because they were guardians over it. Therefore fear not men but fear Me; and barter not My Signs for a paltry price. And whoso judges not by that which Allah has sent down, these it is who are the Kafir i.e. the fanatic disbelievers. 5:45
And therein We prescribed for them: A life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and for other injuries equitable retaliation. And whoso waives the right thereto, it shall be an expiation for his sins; and whoso judges not by what Allah has sent down, these it is who are wrongdoers. 5:46
[5:48] And let the People of the Gospel judge according to what Allah has revealed therein, and whoso judges not by what Allah has revealed, these it is who are the rebellious.
In this first group, it is stated that any one who will not judge or rule by whatever Allah has revealed (that may be the Sharia law or assumed to be so), they will be the fanatic disbelievers, wrongdoers, rebellious people.
These verses do not bind the Muslims to struggle hard even to the point of killing non-Muslims to establish whatever Allah has revealed.
From these verses the Jama’at islami and Brotherhood people started a war of Jihad on non-Muslims. They believe that they must establish a government of Allah (hukoomat e Ilaahiyah). The present day Wahhabi sect may also be working on same lines.
There is no such order to establish any religious government by force. But peaceful preaching i.e. the greater Jihad is always valid.
But if any one is given the mandate by the people to order and establish what he likes and that person is free to do it then these verses will apply to that person. But not according to wrong understanding of the Quran. With the present understanding of the Quran by the non-Ahmadi Muslims, it is sure that whatever they willtry to do will be against the revealed message.
The verses applied in 622 A.D. That was the case when the prophet s.a.w.s. arrived in Madinah in 622 A.D. He knew the true meaning of Islam and its application.
[9:33] He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it prevail over every other religion, even though the idolaters may dislike it. [9:33]
[48:29] He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it to prevail over every other religion, And sufficient is Allah as a witness. [48:29]
[61:10] He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it to prevail over every other religion, even though the idolaters may dislike it.[61:10]
These three verses are giving some news that the religion of Islam will eventually prevail upon all other faiths. It does not say that it will be done through the power of a government. It does not say that the Islami government will prevail upon all other governments. It is telling only about Islam, i.e. the religion of truth that will finally win the hearts of people and most men/women will enter the fold of Islam, depending upon the good peaceful efforts of the believers.
There is no news that the religion of truth i.e. Islam will have to become dominant by use of force. It is a spiritual matter, not any political matter.
If I have described anything wrong, please give comments. Verses such as these have misled many present day Muslim scholars to take up sword to make Islam prevail upon other faiths.
Islam means peace, complete peace and no harsh deeds. wassalam.
Jazakallah dear Ghulam Sarwar for your detailed comment.
Indeed Islam will prevail, but, God has diverse ways to achieve His objectives.
For example, God is constantly bringing out the negative consequences of alcohol and non-Muslims do that research, as Muslims do very little research, as our societies do not put researchers on the pedestal and sometimes punish new and creative ideas.
Just today we learnt that CDC is acknowledging benefits of male circumcision.
God is All Knowing and All Wise, as long as the Muslims do not short circuit reason and logic, we will be successful, God willing.
Theocracy, whether run by the pious or the wicked, in this day and age, in my opinion will never be a valid option though.
The main lesson that I have learnt from the sorry state of Munawar Hasan in the video in my above comment is that important truths should be examined and not only perceived valid, but demonstrated to be valid, from different angles and different perspectives. If we examine any thing only from one limited perspective, it is possible to create fool’s paradise, as we noticed in the above video. We are all human and none of us are above and beyond such fallacies.
my apology about the following words in my post:
[Verses such as these have misled many present day Muslim scholars to take up sword to make Islam prevail upon other faiths.]
It should be read as follows:
Many Muslim scholars were misled due to not understanding the good meaning of these verses. Muslim scholars took up sword to make Islam prevail upon other faiths.
The PEW survey in the above article shows that Muslims all around the world are craving for sharia. Reason is the misery in which they find themselves. They believe once sharia is the law of the land, suddenly their fortunes will change for the better. There will be peace and justice all around and every one will be prosperous.
They also believe based on the lies fed to them by the mullahs that when Sharia was the law of the land in the time of the Holy Prophet and his khlafa this panacea existed.
Holy Prophet became a sovereign in Madina. Every Muslim has heard about Misaq-e-Madina and how great it was. What they forget is that there is no sharia in that treaty. It is a document of mutual agreement between various tribes and all were free to live by their own rules. Not a single Quranic punishment is mentioned in it. Madina gradually improved but almost the entire ten years was spent in battles. Poverty was rampant in Madina. There was not enough food, or money for arms etc.
In the time of Khulafa, the wars continued. The constant and bloody conflict among the companions is no secret. Three out of four khulafa were murdered. Almost the entire family of the Prophet was murdered in Karbala by the Muslims.
I should point out that we are talking about the best of the people. No one can doubt their honesty, or piety. Yet God has made certain principles which have to be followed. These are laws of nature, unchangeable. So good intentions and good wishes are not enough. Let us hope and pray that Muslims will open their eyes to reality around them. They will gain the strength to read and understand Quran as well as other worldly knowledge. And most of all they will develop the will to put in hard work necessary to achieve these goals.
Shariah and Constitution: A Personal Journey