Islamic civilization theoretically, since the time of Prophet Muhammad (s) until now, is firmly founded on the concept of ‘rule of Divine law.’ Even though throughout the Islamic history kings and caliphs have contradicted this rule of law based on secular aspects such as racism, nationalism and tribalism but the concept remains in Islamic or Shariah law. Even still today Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and many others have contradicted this philosophy and reality of divine law.
Shariah is the Islamic Law – the disciplines and principles that govern the behavior of a Muslim individual towards his or herself, family, neighbors, community, city, nation and the Muslim polity as a whole, the Ummah and everyone under Islam’s jurisdiction. Similarly Shariah governs the interactions between communities, groups and social and economic organizations. Shariah establishes the criteria by which all social actions are classified, categorized and administered within the overall governance of the state. Shariah first establishes the patterns believers should follow in worshipping God: prayers, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Islamic law comprises a comprehensive outlook on life. As one looks from a satellite at this planet, the Shariah conceives of the earth as a single ‘city’ with diverse inhabitants—in modern parlance, a ‘global village.’ Islam looks to the benefit of the society from a general perspective and presents a theoretical model that if followed provides safety and protection for society. Shariah literally means ‘a well-trodden path to water,’ the source of all life, representing the Path to God, as given by God, the Originator of all life. Shariah law aims to protect five basic human interests: religion, life, lineage, property, and intellect. These basic interests are universally recognized among all other nations even though nations vary in their approach in doing so. In a land there can only thus be one system which defines best how to protect these interests. This system can be called as the constitution, parliament, the whole legal apparatus. In Islamic state or republic, the system is the Shariah law. Shariah law has two aspects: Spiritual aspect and the practical aspect. To elaborate these two types, Shariah law has the following essential categories: adab (behavior, morals and manners), ibadah (ritual worship), i’tiqadat (beliefs), mu’amalat (transactions and contracts) and ‘uqubat (punishments). The spiritual aspect essentially is the Islamic faith and worship which are purely for Muslims to observe (ibadah and I’tiqad). The practical aspect however transcends everyone under the Islamic jurisdiction. Quran 2:256 and Quran 5:44/45 proves the two assertions.
Even though people will not believe in a practical law of Islam nonetheless governance by it is not impossible. In a secular state people do not necessarily believe or agree to all laws but they however must obey them as part of being under the jurisdiction. Any attempt to change the system in a criminal manner may label him or her as treasonous or criminal. Shariah law is based on mercy and justice. Quran 21:107 and 16:91 as well as sayings and practice of Prophet and His holy progeny prove the two points. The Shariah in fact defines and outlines the meaning of the two terms mercy and justice apart from what is innate and naturally perceived. All Muslims agree the sources of Shariah law are Quran and Sunnah of Prophet (s). All Muslims also agree to the temporal pervasiveness of Quranic law. However western perception of morality and hence law is complex and conflicting. It is a result of wide range of freedom exercised in their society which evolves the concept further vis-a-vis technology and taste. What is holy today can be unholy tomorrow. For example, partial nudity is a subject of conflict in western society, yet we are seeing the movement of naturists proposing complete nudity. Western morality is a result of this Darwinian conflict. We never know what the end of western morality as human species will be and as morality practitioners assuming the concept of good bad right wrong continue to exist in their civilization. For Muslims this preservation of a consistent moral structure is done through Shariah law and only an Islamic government can ensure this. If Islam doesn't exist in the government of Muslim nation Islam will be lost gradually even from the minds of its adherents as too many distractions will shadow the God conscience.
Islamic government and Shariah law do not have many examples except Islamic Republic of Iran and partially Saudi Arabia in contemporary times. The reason for this is colonialism and it’s legacy. Western governments have supported despots in Muslim countries as far back as colonialism. They never honored the hope and aspirations of self-rule for Muslims, most recent example being coup against President Morsi. This has created mass suffering for Muslims in their existence resulting in a broken social, economic, political and intellectual structure. Even Iran is under constant sanctions and attacks. A country’s political and legal development and maturity depends on stability and non-interference by foreign powers. As to other un-Islamic countries with Muslim majority population such as the royal kingdoms and democracies, Muslims there need political leadership to organize their resources and benefit the full potential of Islamic governance and Shariah law which has been impeded by the corruption of royalty and secular politicians. Such a political leadership should engage in promoting Islamic adherence for Muslims, persuading the already broken Muslim society and existence to adopt the spirit and values of Quran and Prophet (s).
Political and legal philosophy of Islam is not centered around nationalism or racism. It is centered around the concept of Ummah: The community of the faithful. This transcends culture, race and ethnicity. A powerful uniting factor which the west fears. In this multi cultured, multi-racial and multi ethnic political and legal existence the rule of just law reigns where tribes are not preferred, races are not preferred or even family attachments are not preferred. This political entity is based on meritocracy and piety. Piety and merits are the two standards by which offices are determined.
In a society there will always be a domineering culture, system and conscience. No such thing as absolute multiculturalism where every culture gets an equal share of existence and authority. Let me clarify this in relation to secularism. In a secular country like UK any Muslim politician must have a secular mind whether it is Secretary Javid or London mayor Sadiq. There is no place for religion in this secular system, neither communism. Your belief system must not contradict or come in the way of the establishment but maybe you are allowed to pray in your office. It is the same for communist China where you must leave God in home even not allowed to perform religion in office. In America however, Evangelical Christians rule hugely by Bible and Muslims too must leave Islam home in this so-called land of liberty. In Zionist occupied Palestine same case with the Jews. In Hindu India same case. Yes, minority in all these systems can work politically only for the benefit of their respective people in varying controlled degree which must in no way change the system or challenge the law of the authority called parliament/constitution.
An existence of a domineering system does not mean discrimination or persecution of minority. If the minority as a member of the parliament has to read Islamic law and jurisprudence relating to business, economy or crimes for example then it is not violating his or her rights or is not discriminating them in any way. To pass laws and understand the legal system of a nation, which is Islamic in this case, one must adhere to its literature and resources. If a minority including the majority for example has to stop smoking/drinking in public areas as part of adab (moral law) then this is not violating anyone’s rights or discriminating anyone.
Some of the Islamic criminal laws are harsh with high standard of proof required and that is the exact thing needed to tame the cruelty and harshness of human nature. If human nature had a small amount of barbarism in it we wouldn’t need these harsh and cruel laws because we would not see serial killers, torturers, rapists, genocidal maniacs or we would not see holocaust, genocide or crimes against humanity i.e. mass calculated atrocities of various forms and categories. Islamic law can and will contain the cruelest side of human nature.
Islamic/Shariah law is also a proponent of a welfare state where capitalist corporatism based on deceitful banking industry will be stopped and reshaped with an interest free schema of economy. Wealth will be properly distributed and will not be stuck circulating only among the rich. Quran 59:7 and Quran 4:37 establishes this. To achieve this effectively and globally dollar hegemony must be weakened and even fully dismantled.
The issue of freedom has been exaggeratedly used to demonize Shariah law. Western colonialism has wiped cultures and beliefs globally installing western philosophy and world views that people think this is the only standard of freedom and life. Freedom cannot be destructive but rational. Liberal secularism is the worst thing happened to humans. This is an idea of human individualism where man is the center of his own world. It is a license to human transgressions. Whatever right and wrong that human already has left with him has been due to human social evolution through the guidance of religions. Even this is evaporating in the Frankenstein morality being created by liberal secularism. A society which is not tied with God and does not know a higher authority is destined to be doomed morally, demographically and socially. Islamic freedom is not based on unchecked hedonism but responsibility and rationalism. Islamic freedom is based on duty and responsibility, collective good and social stability.
A simple example of consumerism will do. Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. This is, put simply, against sustainable development. Capitalist Corporatism backed by liberal secularism thrives on this. Those who have technological head start have exploited international relations to always have the upper hand in consumerist global economy at the expense of environment, human rights and morality. Human secular existence indulging in materialistic hedonism is thus self-destructive to the core void of empathy and humility.
Shariah law can be thus summarized to achieve the following objectives:
resistance against tyranny, persecution and exploitation
equality and fair play in economy
morality and charity
defense of honor, property and lives
humility and mercy
West’s ignorance of Islam cannot be an excuse for Muslim countries to abandon Shariah law. In fact western governments have been deliberately ignorant of UN charter of peace and international law to serve their imperial conquests. We cannot expect a sincere understanding from these criminals neither should we hope.
This short discussion has discussed the nature of Shariah law and the rational of behind it’s jurisdiction and activity in Muslim countries.