Shariah law ex­plained

In­struc­tions, guid­ance can lead to right­eous life

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RELIGION - HAMEED NASEEM

Aques­tion oc­ca­sion­ally comes up in con­ver­sa­tions with Chris­tian friends: “But what about the shariah law in Is­lam?” I sup­pose there are some who won­der about this or have, per chance, vis­ited some web­sites im­put­ing hor­ri­ble in­hu­mane teach­ings to Is­lam, but they are shy to ask. There­fore, in this col­umn I will briefly dis­cuss some of the al­le­ga­tions made vis-a-vis shariah on these sites.

The word shariah (pro­nounced, sha-ria) is an Ara­bic word which lit­er­ally means “a straight path to a never-end­ing source of life-giv­ing wa­ter.” As a re­li­gious ter­mi­nol­ogy, it con­notes a set of in­struc­tions and guid­ance, that when one adopts through vo­li­tion, he leads to right­eous life. Just as To­rah is some­times de­scribed as law or in­struc­tions for the be­liev­ers, Qu­ran is con­sid­ered by Mus­lims as the source of re­li­gious in­struc­tions or law for at­tain­ing spir­i­tual progress and com­mu­nion with God.

The Qu­ran uses this term in re­la­tion to Noah and other prophets say­ing, the path God has pre­scribed for Mus­lims as re­li­gion is the same as that he had en­joined through Noah and the prophets to the peo­ple be­fore Prophet Muham­mad (Qu­ran 42:14).

Sim­i­larly, Al­lah says in the Qu­ran, “For each of you, we have pre­scribed a shariah and a man­i­fest way. If Al­lah had forced his will, he would have made you all one peo­ple, but he wishes to try you by that which he has given you. Vie, then, with one an­other in good works. To Al­lah shall you all re­turn; then will he in­form you of that wherein you dif­fered” (5:49).

Thus, God clearly says that all these dif­fer­ent paths are still path­ways to reach him and that one should not worry about the dif­fer­ences — rather, we must all try to ex­cel in good­ness and leave the rest to God. This also em­pha­sizes that free­dom of re­li­gion is a hall­mark of Is­lam.

So, what is the Is­lamic shariah that Qu­ran pro­motes, and is there any­thing in it that should be an affront or dan­ger to our Amer­i­can val­ues? As men­tioned be­fore, shariah is a way of life that one adopts for one­self and is never im­posed on oth­ers.

There are two ma­jor com­po­nents of shariah, one re­lat­ing to wor­ship ( iba­dat) and the other re­lat­ing to deal­ings with fel­low be­ings ( mua­malat). The first one com­prises of all the re­quire­ments of wor­ship: the five ar­ti­cles of faith (be­lief in Al­lah, an­gels, re­vealed books, prophets, the Day of Judge­ment) and the five pil­lars of Is­lam (bear­ing wit­ness for the ab­so­lute one­ness of God, pray­ing five times a day, fast­ing in Ra­mad­han, mak­ing Zakat char­ity and pil­grim­age to Mecca.)

It is ob­vi­ous these in­struc­tions are fol­lowed by Mus­lims no mat­ter of what coun­tries they are cit­i­zens, and there is no is­sue of im­po­si­tion.

The sec­ond ma­jor com­po­nent of the shariah in­volves per­sonal eti­quettes and con­duct; fam­ily deal­ings; rights of oth­ers; crime and pun­ish­ment; birth, mar­riage and death rites; in­her­i­tance, fi­nan­cial deal­ings and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties; work and com­pen­sa­tion; pol­i­tics and gov­er­nance; etc.

The Holy Qu­ran — be­ing a book of about 600 pages — pro­vides the fun­da­men­tals and a few ex­am­ples, and ex­pects Mus­lims to ap­ply them to de­duce guid­ance in spe­cific sit­u­a­tions. Prophet Muham­mad showed by ex­am­ple how to im­ple­ment this process. His con­duct, called Sun­nah, pro­vides a prac­ti­cal source of shariah. Many of Prophet Muham­mad’s say­ings also have been col­lected in the books of Ha­dith. The over­ar­ch­ing

prin­ci­ple that Mus­lims fol­low in un­der­stand­ing shariah from Sun­nah and Ha­dith is that these must be con­gru­ent with the clear teach­ing of the Qu­ran, which ver­i­fies their au­then­tic­ity.

It is al­leged that shariah en­cour­ages Mus­lims to lie and not be loyal cit­i­zens to non-Mus­lim gov­ern­ments. How­ever, one finds in the Holy Qu­ran that ly­ing is con­sid­ered an abom­i­na­tion, next only to wor­ship­ping idols and as­so­ci­at­ing part­ners with God. Al­lah says, “Shun there­fore the abom­i­na­tion of idols, and shun all words of un­truth” (22:31).

De­scrib­ing the true be­liev­ers, Al­lah says, “And those who bear not false wit­ness, and when they pass by any­thing vain, they pass on with dig­nity” (25:73).

And again, “Truly right­eous are those who ful­fil

their prom­ise when they have made one, … it is these who have proved truth­ful and it is these who are the God-fear­ing” (2:178).

Al­lah ad­mon­ishes Mus­lims in chap­ter 6, verse 153, as, “And when you speak, ob­serve jus­tice — even if it be against a rel­a­tive — and ful­fill the covenant of Al­lah. That is what he en­joins upon you, that you may re­mem­ber.”

On the sub­ject of loy­alty, the Prophet said, “Love of one’s coun­try is part of faith.” The Qu­ranic in­junc­tion that is com­men­su­rate with this teach­ing is, “O ye who be­lieve! Obey Al­lah, and obey his mes­sen­ger and those who are in au­thor­ity among you. And if you dif­fer in any­thing among your­selves, re­fer it to Al­lah and his mes­sen­ger” (4:60).

In mat­ters of gov­er­nance, Al­lah has in­structed, “When you judge be­tween men, you judge with jus­tice” (4:59). In other words, just rul­ings

of worldly gov­ern­ments are all in con­so­nance with the will of Al­lah and the Prophet and there­fore must be obeyed.

It is al­leged that blas­phemy (in­clud­ing speak­ing against Al­lah, Is­lam, Qu­ran and the Prophet) is pun­ish­able by death ac­cord­ing to hariah. How­ever, the Qu­ranic shariah teaches Mus­lims, “When you hear the signs of Al­lah be­ing de­nied and mocked at, sit not with them un­til they en­gage in a talk other than that” (4:141).

Mus­lims are ad­mon­ished in the Qu­ran to say, “Peace! (25:64),” be­fore va­cat­ing — in a way re­spond­ing to evil with good­ness and of­fer­ing an olive branch even to the most big­oted of en­e­mies. Al­lah says that he alone will avenge blas­phemy while Mus­lims must show ex­treme for­bear­ance and self-con­trol. Prophet Muham­mad’s life is a tes­ta­ment to this con­duct through­out his life.

It is also al­leged that

shariah ad­judges apos­tates to be li­able for ex­e­cu­tion, whereas there is not even a sin­gle verse in the Holy Qu­ran that says that or even hints as such.

It is thus ob­served that those who spread such vit­riol against Is­lam adopt the ways of ex­trem­ists — such as ISIS and Al-Qaida — by cherry-pick­ing some verses or parts thereof from the Qu­ran to ped­dle ha­tred among cit­i­zens of this great coun­try.

On the other hand, among the found­ing fa­thers, Thomas Jef­fer­son paid at­ten­tion to Is­lamic shariah as a re­source be­fore pen­ning down the great Con­sti­tu­tion for these United States of Amer­ica.

Hameed Naseem is the pres­i­dent of the Tulsa chap­ter of Ah­madiyya Mus­lim Com­mu­nity. He is also the fac­ulty ad­vi­sor of Al-Is­lam Stu­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, a reg­is­tered stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas. Con­tact him at hanaseem@gmail.com.

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