Courtesy: Laiq Ahmad Atif of Malta
Relationship between Religion and Politics in Islam, A Speech by Mirza Tahir Ahmad
Recently Pakistan has been the seat of this hot, sometime violent controversy about the Shariah. It is understood generally that if the majority of a country constitute of Muslims, then the Muslims have a right rather, an obligation to enact Shariah law.
It is argued that if they believe in the Holy Quran and if they believe also that the Holy Quran is a comprehensive Book which relates to every area of human activity and directs man as to how he should conduct himself in every sphere of life, then it is hypocrisy to remain contented with those claims. They should follow the logical conclusion and enact Shariah law and make it the only law valid for the country.
Now, this is what is being said on the one side. On the other side, many difficulties are pointed out such as proposed legislative problems very serious constitutional problems as well as very serious problems in almost all sphere of the enactment of Shariah. So, let me first briefly tell you, why Shariah law cannot be exercised or imposed on a people, who practically, as far their normal way of life is concerned, are the not ideal Muslims, much to the contrary. In those areas where they are free to practice Islam, they fall so much short that one wonders when they willingly cannot exercise Islam, how could they be expected to do it by coercion and by force of law. This and many others are the areas where debate is being carried on and pursued hotly, but I’ll now, very briefly enumerate the points to make you understand all the sides of this issue.
Personally, I have also been participating in this debate which was going on in Pakistan and many a scholar who came to London or who wrote to me for guidance, were helped by me. Though I did not entirely dictate notes to them but to a great degree they were helped by me to understand the problem in larger perspective. Thus many an article that have been published in Pakistan did have my opinion also expressed in them.
Shariah is the law and there is no doubt about it; the law of Islam; the law for Muslims. But the question is how far can this law be transformed into legislation for running a political government. On top of that many other issues get involved in it. For instance, if a Muslim country has a right to dictate its law to all its population, then, by the same reasoning and the same logic, every other country with majority of population belonging to other religions would have exactly the same right to enact their laws.
The entire world would become a world of not only political conflict but also of a politicoreligious conflict, whereby all the laws would be attributed to God, yet they would contradict each other diametrically. There would be such a confusion that people would begin to lose faith in a God Who speaks one thing to one people and another thing to another people, and Who tells them to enforce this law on the people or ‘they will be untrue to Me’.
As such, you can well imagine what would happen in India for instance, if the law of the Hindu Majority is imposed on the Muslim minority. As a matter of fact a large section of the Indian society is gradually being pushed towards this extremist demand by way of reaction, I suppose to what is happening in some Islamic countries. What would happen to the Muslims and other minorities of India? Moreover this is not a question of India alone. What if Israel enacts the law of Judaism the law of Talmud I have read it and I know it will be impossible for any other nonJew to live there, normally and decently. In the same manner Christianity has its own rights and so has Buddhism.
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