Wednesday 19 April 2017

The twisting of Shariah

Shariah is a word many are terrified of these days. Muslims will be asked do you adhere to Shariah? Are you committed to implementing it? Are you trying to replace our (of course much more civilized laws) with it?

I am married according to Shariah, I eat meat slaughtered by its rules and have a bank account organized on its economical principles. I assure you that is nothing to panic about!

Shariah is simply laws that have been enacted on Islamic principles, they are not uniform, they should be pragmatic and above all justice should be the goal. However miscarriages of justice occur in all  legal systems, human beings are capable of making errors and justice is the casualty. This has occurred in Shariah too. In my homeland of India, triple talaq is upheld as part of Shariah, despite being banned in other Muslim countries. Pakistan unfortunately upholds blasphemy laws which many have argued contradict Shariah. Saudi Arabia refuses to let women drive citing all sorts of pseudo-religious/cultural reasons, none of which the vast majority of Muslims agree with.

Those in power will often twist or misinterpret Islam and its principles for their own benefit/ to suit their agenda. Indeed we must be wary of this and call it out every time. This is an ongoing struggle.

Being a history buff I enjoyed watching some clips/episodes of Turkish historical drama Magnificent Century. One of the most disturbing practices of the Ottomans was fraticide. (I certainly condemn the imperialism, incessant warring and entire concept of the Harem too) However it was quite sad to realize that Fatawa were given by the Ulema of Islam to Sultans to murder of their own brothers/half-brothers. Many Sheikhs argued it was better that a few princes were executed, rather than entire wars be fought between brothers for succession (for example the War of the Roses in Europe). One Sultan murdered nineteen brothers! Another killed his innocent and very capable son in a 'preemptive strike'!

Why the Ulema couldn't stress cooperation between brothers, the need to serve the wider Ummah not the Dynasty, the sanctity of human life, the great sin that is fratricide is a great shame. However it has to be noted many Ulema also opposed this barbaric practice and gave Fatawa against it. For details please read this excellent article.

As enacted in the clip above this particular Sheikh certainly misrepresented the Quran to give Sultan rather bogus reasoning to murder his own friend whom he had sworn to protect. (This may not be entirely historically accurate I am simply using as a possible example).  So Shariah is certainly not safe from being twisted to serve the needs of those in power. Indeed it has been argued quite robustly that Daesh are doing exactly that.

The interpretation of Shariah is dependent on the conscience of the people/scholars/jurists of Islam. Above all Shariah is a means to an end which is paramount. The end that is justice and compassion. That is what we must aspire to.

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