If Sharia Is Divine, Why Don’t Ulema Demand Medieval Punishments?

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Source: New Age Islam

By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

Acclaimed poet and writer Javed Akhtar has rightly condemned the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) “in the strongest words” for justifying the instant divorce prevalent in India. In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the AIMPLB had defended the practice of triple talaq and polygamy, professing that “polygamy is a social need and a blessing and not a curse for women.”

The Muslim reaction to Javed Akhtar’s tweet can be summed up by what Khalid Yunus Ansari wrote in Pratap of 11 September: “There has never been any dearth of opportunists and traitors among Muslims. These people may appear intelligent and educated but are ignorant of Muslim mores. … A real Muslim is one who consciously and even sub-consciously believes in and follows Islamic Laws, someone who cannot even imagine finding fault with or challenging or violating any of them. Even imagining any fault with Muslim Laws is absolute kufr (disbelief), not to speak of expressing such thoughts.”

I have been reading Urdu newspapers for 45 years. While Muslims have been constantly fighting for the so-called Muslim Personal Law which allows them to treat women as inferior beings, never have I come across any Muslim demand for being governed by Islamic criminal laws. If Sharia is so important, if it is such a vital part of our faith, then why this dichotomy? Except for drinking alcohol, punishments for all other hudud crimes (mentioned in the Quran, considered crimes against God) are to be amputation, flogging and beheading. One would have thought that at least those Muslims who are so particular about following Sharia, and, of course, all ulema who consider Sharia divine, would demand the implementation of the entire Sharia. Why follow only the part that helps keep women subjugated and avoid those that may lead to severe medieval punishments specified by Quran and Hadees.

Triple talaq or instant divorce is one of the evils emanating from the personal laws instituted for Muslims by the British. Hardly any Muslim in India follows the Quran-based practice of divorce in three stages, encompassing three menstrual cycles. After Independence from the British, a united Pakistan had refused to accept the Anglo-Mohammedan Law and reformed its personal law in 1961. These reforms have passed the test of time. Pakistan has since gone through much upheaval including an era of Nizam-e-Mustafa under General Ziaul Haq, in which even traditional pre-Islamic forms of punishment like whips and lashes and public flogging were practised for Hudud violations. So what progressive Muslims in India should be and indeed have been demanding for long is reforms in Muslim personal law itself. But perhaps we should also be demanding that those who claim to believe in the divinity of Sharia should be punished in medieval Hudud ways. If the government cannot reform Muslim Personal Laws, out of deference for ulema’s views, it can at least extend Hudud punishments to them. Ulema say Muslims have to be fully Muslim, accept Sharia laws literally, not be partial Muslim. The ulema must be given the option to face medieval Hudud punishments and be fully Muslim according to their own interpretation.

Reform of Muslim personal law is urgent. A demand for this has been made for decades. This is inevitably opposed and equally inevitably exposes the two-facedness of Islamic fundamentalists. India should not tolerate these archaic and un-Islamic personal laws.

But, to my mind, the most important benefit is the opening up of a theological debate within the community. This has already started to a certain extent.

Reacting to Dr Tahir Mahmood’s recent call for reform, AIMPLB’s Secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani made a dangerous and subversive statement. He said: “This issue is not related to the laws of the country but it is an issue related to Fatwa. Hence this issue should be dealt with by reliable scholars of Islamic jurisdiction.”

The clerics questioning Supreme Court’s jurisdiction should understand that the Muslims are as much subject to the Indian Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court as any other citizen. Muslim personal law is a part of the Constitution and the Supreme Court has every right to interpret it. Progressive Muslims are not committing a sin by encouraging the courts to intervene in the matter.

The most important outcome of this debate, however, is that it is breaching the complete stagnation in Islamic theological thinking. This is essential to replace the current theology of violence, exclusivism, xenophobia and intolerance with a new Islamic theology of peace, coexistence, inclusiveness, pluralism and gender equality.

Note: This article was first published in India Today’s Daily newspaper Mail Today and its online newspaper Daily “O”.

Reference

Suggested reading

Polygamy in Islam: What It Means?

Triple talaq: India considers jail for ‘instant divorce’

12 replies

  1. https://wwwelfajar.blogspot.com/2017/12/if-sharia-is-divine-why-dont-ulema.html
    The most important outcome of this debate, however, is that it is breaching the complete stagnation in Islamic theological thinking. This is essential to replace the current theology of violence, exclusivism, xenophobia and intolerance with a new Islamic theology of peace, coexistence, inclusiveness, pluralism and gender equality.
    Note: This article was first published in India Today’s Daily newspaper Mail Today and its online newspaper Daily “O”.

  2. A REAL MUSLIM
    A real Muslim is one who consciously and even sub-consciously believes in and follows Islamic Laws, someone who cannot even imagine finding fault with or challenging or violating any of them. Even imagining any fault with Muslim Laws is absolute kufr (disbelief), not to speak of expressing such thoughts.”===

    ===This is essential to replace the current theology of violence, exclusivism, xenophobia and intolerance with a new Islamic theology of peace, coexistence, inclusiveness, pluralism and gender equality.===

    The extremist Muslim like Saudi Arabia, Iran, ISIS, and Taliban reject a reformation, they want to follow the ancient Islamic laws such as:
    1. slavery, beheading, flogging, amputation at front of public
    2. Hijab, burqa for women. Beard, polygamy for male.
    3. Etc

    Hopefully Ahmadiyyah should lead to reform the ancient laws to modren law the fit to 21th century.

    ❤️
    Read more detail here. All violent verses should be reject it
    http://ilovemodrenislam.blogspot.com/2016/04/how-to-follow-islam-rightly-in-21st.html?m=1

    • In a crime statistic I saw (quite some time ago) Saudi Arabia was at the bottom of crimes like theft etc. The comment of even a Swedish journalist was that ‘may be our modern justice system is not really the best’. (in ‘crimes of passion’ Saudi Arabia was not at the bottom of the list).

  3. ==But, to my mind, the most important benefit is the opening up of a theological debate within the community. This has already started to a certain extent.===

    Yes, I agree 100 percent that Islamic debate in Muslim community. According to my experiences that the extremist did not want to have debate, they said that those Muslim who want to criticize Islam will be accused Khafir or Munafick etc they are not open mind. They do not accept the different thought, or interpretation of Islam etc.

    May Allah guide all clerics to open their heart and mind for reformation of Islam. Amin

    ❤️

    • Alhamdulillah, Zia wrote : ==The Quranic examples of punishments were in the context of the 7th century Arabia and should be adjusted to modern needs, context and resources.===

      Hopefully all ahmadiyyah Clerics can follow Mr. Zia H Khan. This is a good time for Ahmadiyyah to declare publicly that the ancient Islamic law have to be ajusted to modern needs, contex, science and technology.

      May Allah bless Zia H Khan and give the strength to reform Islamic teaching to modern interpretation and reject all violent verses of Al Quran and violent hadith.

      With ❤️
      READ MORE:My modern interpretation of Islam in 21th
      century
      http://ilovemodrenislam.blogspot.com/2017/09/extremist-leader-is-dangerous-for.html?m=1

  4. Somi, hijab and burka are prescribed by the Quran snd are a need of our time. It’s not out dated so why should the Ahmadiyya Community get rid of it when they are pro Hijab and burka as it is in the Quran. Quran 24:31, 24:32

  5. Rigfat, I know that Allah command women to cover the whole body. I agree and I will ask my wife and daughters to cover her body in order: first save from sand storm that can harm her body and hair, second in order save from kidnapping from unknown male.

    But if we live in the Westren Countries or USA, I ask my wife and my daughters not to cover your head, face, hands and legs, just wear in modesty. Because you save from sand storm and kidnapping, police will protect your savety here.

    Again and again, I agree with ZIA H KHAN.

    Zia wrote:
    The Quranic examples of punishments were in the context of the 7th century Arabia and should be adjusted to modern needs, context and resources.==

    The laws of Islam can be adjusted to modren needs and condition, othewise Muslim still live in the darkness like
    Saudi, Iran and Taliban and ISis.

    If you condemn Taliban and Isis ideology, why do you follow them the way they interprete Islam??
    Think about that?

    With❤️

  6. I agree with Dr Zia Shah Quranic punishments were in the context of 7th century Arabia and should be modified. Keeping this in view Pakistan Ideology Council declared in 2015 that triple talaq in one instance was un-islamic and against the sharia. It was considered a crime to do otherwise. It was decided a husband can utter in one sitting only one talaq. Anyone giving triple talaq on a government stomp paper was considered a crime. In India federal cabinet has given consent to the legal document/ Bill by which giving triple talaq in writing, orally or through electronic medium will be a crime without bail. Anyone found guiltyof this will be liable to 3 years of imprisonment. Wife will be allowed to ask a magistrate for her protection and for the maintenance of children.

  7. I believe we need to learn more about Holy Quran with actual commentary. Every one follow it according to their thinking. Teaching of the Holy Quran is for all eras. Problem arises when you don’t understand and blame the Holy book.

  8. There is no Sharia law dictated in Quran. The only Law given in Quran is Justice (according to time and space).

    O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor. So follow not the personal inclination. Q 4:135

    So probably we should avoid undefined, unspecified and confusing words like Sharia.

  9. What is preventing Muslims from following the Muslim law? Why are they waiting for the whole legislation to be changed?Most of Islam can be practiced without their being the law of the country.

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