Reformist Muslim

Exploring possibilities for the future of Islam and other thoughts

Location: London, United Kingdom

Monday, October 17, 2005

Muslims, Faith and Sharia Law

The implementation of Sharia Law is a rallying cry issued by traditional Muslims and Islamists from London to Lahore. One argument used by moderate Muslims to argue against Sharia is the point that Sharia as we see it today is largely the implementation of Muslim values by 10th and 11th century jurists to the world that they lived in. Since then the gates of ijtihad have been closed and there has not been much jurisprudential development to update Islamic law so that it can provide guidance in the modern world.

I would not disagree with this, but I think that it is difficult to win the argument against traditionalist Muslims if the debate is shaped in the above terms. Therefore I would ask those Muslims who would like Sharia law the following.

You usually have the most public displays of faith and religion, but if you are so confident of your faith then why do you find it necessary to impose your notions of piety upon other Muslims and Non-Muslims? Surely you believe that on the Day of Judgement you will meet your creator and that he will judge you on the way that you have lived your life - whether you were pious or not, as he will all other people.

However the system of government that gives you the greatest opportunity to practise your religion as you believe you should is a liberal democracy where people of all faiths are given the choice to follow or not follow a religion. If you are a Sunni Muslim then you may well be persecuted in Islamic but Shia Iran. If you are a Shia or an Ahmadi Muslim then you might well be persecuted in Islamic but Sunni Saudi Arabia. We all saw the indiscrimanate nature of the Taliban who didn't seem to give any regard to due process and individual protection.

This is an example of where John Rawl's 'veil of ignorance' comes in. If you did not know whether you would be born Shia or Sunni or Ismaili or Christian, you would hope that the society that you were being born into was one in which all people had equal rights to follow their consciences and to practise their religion. If you were able to live a moral and pious life then I do not think that a benevolent Almighty would send you to hell for not forcing other people into believing what you believed.

There are usually some critiques of this point of view. People argue for example that in a society where lets say girls are allowed to wear miniskirts, there is a corrupting influence which prevents others from freely practising their faith. Among other things though, how does this relate to the ever increasing number of young Muslims 'in the west' who are wearing the hijab and keeping beards. Surely in a society in which they are free to choose they are choosing to live as pious Muslims.

Perhaps one of the reasons why such an argument as projected in this piece is difficult to get across is that there is very little doubt amongst some Muslims that their religion amongst all others is correct. This is despite the fact that scientific advancements and Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection amongst other things cast about the existence of a supreme creator. Of course they don't prove that a creator does not exist but they do add that element of doubt.

I think (hope) that once this doubt enters Muslims minds, instead of reactionary rejection of new(or indeed old) ideas then while still having faith they will not be so quick to try and push their views on others leading to a more open discourse as to the role of government in a Muslim society and hopefully help end the oppression of those millions of Muslims who happen to be minorities within Muslim majority states.


Anonymous bananabrain said...

i enjoyed this piece very much.


3:01 pm, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Jordan said...

Wonderful! I don't think tolerance has a better advocate than your blog! (ok, maybe thats a tad of an exageration for effect, but you still rock!)

7:37 pm, December 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But for a strong believer, should not relativism arguments not hold. Why should someone who knows what is correct tolerate something he knows is wrong?

2:20 pm, January 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I enjoyed very much your post. But I fail to understand how the argument that i quote below has any validity of any sort.

"People argue for example that in a society where lets say girls are allowed to wear miniskirts, there is a corrupting influence which prevents others from freely practising their faith"

How does a girl in miniskirt prevents the practice of religion? does it has supernatural powers? Maybe if those men saw women in skirts more often they would behave in a more relaxed/composed way and stop thinking that seeing a pair of legs are cause of havock in society.

If nothing else works...they could always try to "lower their gaze" for a change. ;)

9:09 pm, November 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read most of your blogs on euthanisa on isreal on calipath and I have determed that you have strayed from the path, I hope Allah(swt) guides you and I hope you find you're religion once more.
You rely shocked me when you said you didnt belief in inteligent design when you claim you are muslim.
I can see that you dont care about Allah's laws since its compulsary and you would rather choose to avoide them to keep others happy.
I hope Allah(swt) guides us all and I advice you life is short you should repent and return to your deen with full submission not half heartedly.
Waa Salamalykum

9:08 pm, July 28, 2009  

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