Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Kacem El Ghazzali, writer, activist, IHEU representative at the UN Human Rights Council, wrote in an article in Huffington Post, Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace In Societies Where Faith Is Law:
Do tolerance and social peace prevail in Muslim-majority countries which enshrine “Islam” in law? Nowadays in most such countries, atheists, apostates and those who convert to another religion are persecuted.
According to the NGO International Humanist and Ethical Union, there are 13 countries where expressing atheism is punishable by the death penalty. What these countries have in common, despite their differences: Islam is the state religion.
‘Islamic extremism and terrorism cannot be fought effectively without raising the discussion within Muslim societies, and calling for an Islam of tolerance towards non-believers.’
In a religion of peace, freedom of conscience and belief should be guaranteed to everyone. One could, if one did not know better, argue that it is the case with Islam. One might think for example that the problem is only with the laws of those countries, which do not reflect the actual will of Muslims.
Unfortunately, the facts speak a different language. It is not a rare occurrence that angry mobs of Muslims flock through the streets to punish, vigilante-style, or demand punishment against those who are considered apostates or blasphemers.
According to a detailed survey of the Muslim populations by the Pew Research Center:
Overwhelming percentages of Muslims in many countries want Islamic law (sharia) to be the official law of the land, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center. But many supporters of sharia say it should apply only to their country’s Muslim population.
Moreover, Muslims are not equally comfortable with all aspects of sharia: While most favor using religious law in family and property disputes, fewer support the application of severe punishments – such as whippings or cutting off hands – in criminal cases. The survey also shows that Muslims differ widely in how they interpret certain aspects of sharia, including whether divorce and family planning are morally acceptable.
Support for making sharia the official law of the land varies significantly across the six major regions included in the study. This in itself is proof enough that Shariah Law is not fundamental to Islam or a necessary part of faith or religion for the Muslims. The wide range of support for it in different countries from 8% to 99% shows it is not like 5 daily prayers for all Muslims or fasting in the month of Ramadan where one will find shared ideas among all Muslims all over the world. Shariah Law perhaps is a socio-cultural construct evoking different ideas and feelings among the masses of specific countries based on their history and life experiences.
In this poll, whereas 99% of the Afghanis and 84% of the Paksitanis are in favor of Shariah Law only 12% of the Turks support it. Who has better insights?
I would submit that the Turks are the winners here and the people from Pakistan and Afghanistan have been blinded by their religious zeal and indoctrination and could learn a thing or two from their Turkish brethren and sisters.
No rational and just person would like to put a rape victim into jail for being raped. But, some do in Pakistan, when they are blinded by their misplaced zeal for the ‘Shariah Law.’ Many of the so called religious scholars in Pakistan, deny the rape victims DNA evidence to prove crimes against them, as the Quran does not speak of DNA evidence, as it was revealed in the 7th century Arabia. They insist on what the Quran had to say on the issue literally, even if it leads to jailing the victims and making the Muslims and the Quran a mockery in the rest of the world. I will go with the majority Turks on in this issue rather than the majority Pakistanis any day of the week, without the slightest hesitation, even though Pakistan is my country by birth, until I became a US citizen in 2000.
In an interview below, one of the most learned scholars and proponent of Sharia says that if a woman is raped and does not have four male witnesses, regardless of other circumstances, she should better be quiet.
The learned scholar does not suggest how the victim should negotiate with the potential witnesses before the legal hearing in presence of strict Purdah requirements, to make sure that they are not going to deviate from their testimony.
Such lack of insight and empathy should send shivers down the spine of every sensitive human being!
All the moderate Muslims may be better off under any Western law rather than such medieval understanding of Sharia Law.
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.
If we ask the wrong questions the answers do not matter. The apologists for Shariah Law tend to obsess over what the holy Quran or the holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, say in this regard. I have news for them, the sources are silent, they do not say ‘Yes,’ or ‘No,’ to the Shariah Law. They leave it to your God given wisdom. Look around and find out what works. There are some 200 countries in the world and we have at least 4000 years of human history before us, we need to find what works and benefits and what does not help humanity.
The holy Quran only gives us guiding principles, it does not give us a ‘to do list’ to create a constitution or good governance. It says:
He sends down water from the sky, so that valleys flow according to their measure, and the flood bears on its surface swelling foam. And from that which they heat in the fire, seeking to make ornaments or utensils, comes out a foam similar to it. Thus does Allah illustrate truth and falsehood. Now, as to the foam, it goes away as rubbish, but as to that which benefits men, it stays on the earth. Thus does Allah set forth parables. (Al Quran 13:17/18)
When the prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina 13 years into his ministry he signed a contract with the Jews of Medina and other tribes, which came to be known as the Covenant or the Constitution of Medina and it was based on respect of human rights of every one and not on some ‘Shariah Law.’
At the time of his death he did not lay out a succession plan or a political system. It had to be an ever evolving system of just governance, guided by human experience in light of the Divine guiding principles, laid out in the holy Quran, shrouded in the human rights and the women rights.
Many in the Muslim world have failed the challenge, the prophet wanted them to take up, for the last 1400 years and are constantly looking for Aladdin’s lamp, a magical wand, a cookbook recipe to succeed, rather than to learn and adapt.
The human rights should be the ‘holy grail,’ for the Muslims, whether they live in the West or the East, to borrow a term from our Christian brethren and sisters.
As I wrote this article on March 8, which is the International Women’s Day, I am going to conclude with a link for the women rights: Today is International Women’s Day and We have the Most Extensive Coverage on Women Rights.