from Khilafa Magazine
Why is the Shariah being attacked?
The Shareeâ€™ah has been portrayed as a mere set of brutal punishments by the media and the government to present Islam as a backward solution. The motivation behind this in the West is to immunize their own societies from Islam and as well to pressure the Muslim community to reject the return of Shariah via the Caliphate or pressure them to be silent about their demands. Even though the call for the Shariah is focused upon the Muslim world the West fears its return there and that is why it is being demonised today as the results of recent polls in Muslim countries indicating mass support for Shariah and Khilafah are still fresh in their minds. As for the Muslim response, far from being backward, we should use this opportunity to show non Muslims that the Shariah is not just a set of harsh punishments but a complete value based system that can address diverse problems like crime, poverty, education and healthcare and many other societal issues and challenges. This is also an excellent opportunity for the Muslim community to learn about their system and build their confidence in the Islamic political solution and amplify their call for the re-establishment of the Khilafah.
Is the Shariah only punishments?
The Shariah is a complete system of life and not only confined to a set of rules or punishments. The Shariah is in actuality composed of the following elements which emanate from the Islamic rational basis i.e. â€˜Aqeedah. They are:
ii. rules and
All three elements combine to bring peace and stability in society and so cannot be separated or depicted as merely a set of punishments. According to Ash-Shatibi, the great Maliki jurist who specialised in the theory of Shariah law: â€˜The meaning of Shariah is the restriction of the legally capable (mukallafin) by prescribing limits in respect to their actions, statements and beliefs.â€™ (Muwafaqaat, v.1, p.88). According to â€˜Allamah at-Tahaawuni, an expert on Islamic terminology: â€˜The Shariah are the rules legislated for the servants whether they relate to the mode of actions or beliefs.â€™ (Kashaaf istilahaat al-funoon, under word â€˜shariahâ€™). So one can see the Shariah is not defined only in terms of punishments but as rules relating to actions and beliefs of people. Consequently, these rules are holistic and comprehensive. For ease of comprehension we have divided them into the aforementioned elements. To understand how Shariah effectively addresses societyâ€™s problems it is important to appreciate the operation of all three elements in relation to problems in society in a holistic manner. To illustrate this point let us see the holistic approach of Shariah with regards to crime which is a problem spiraling out of control in the West.
Crime is rampant in western societies due to the values in society and not the superficial reasons that are cited such as homelessness, drug addiction, poverty, unemployment and low school attainment. Rather the real causes are freedom and the values of individualism and materialism that it spawns. Thus, even though the government has passed on average one law every three days since Labour came to power they have failed to be tough on crime or the causes of crime. However, the Shariah contains values which function as preventors of crime and the violation of peoples rights. The following are a few examples:
a) Taqwa (Fear of God): The first deterrent to crime is the individual himself and his conscience. That is why the Muslim, due to his Aâ€™qeedah, knows he is accountable to Allah (swt) before he is accountable to society. He knows that no leaf falls from a tree except that his Lord knows which leaf fell from which tree and what time. He (swt) said: â€˜And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.â€™ [TMQ 6:59] This belief deters him from engaging in many actions even though he may be able to escape the law which is a calculation that is frequently made in the West by many who would commit crimes; ie do it if you can get away with it. Hence, according to one newspaper report published 2nd September 2007 under the heading â€˜The untouchablesâ€™ there were 3,000 crimes committed in 2007 by individuals who could not be convicted even though the evidence was there to secure a conviction. The problem was that these 3,000 crimes (of which 66 were sex offences) were committed by children of and under the age of 10! According to another statistic 6 out of 10 teenagers in poor areas in the UK think that crime pays. This is the type of society that the West is creating and the future is looking bleak if these statistics are anything to go by.
b) Morals: In the West it is not the lawâ€™s business to pry into the morals of the people, hence we see the immorality that leads to crimes such as rape. Islam states that morals such as trust (amanah) or justness (â€˜adl) are paramount. The Prophet (saw) said: â€˜He has no faith the one who lacks trust.â€™(Musnad of Ahmed Ibn Hambal). The West pays lip service to these but undermines them by the other values of individualism which teaches selfishness and greed. That is why politicians in the West are the most distrusted of people in society even though their job description requires them to be the most upright and trustworthy.
c) Collective responsibility: In the West a Citizen is not legally obliged to stop crimes that are happening in front of them to the extent that one is not legally obliged to help even a drowning infant and if one does and it goes wrong somehow then that individual can be held to blame by the law. This is in stark contrast to Islam where Muslims are OBLIGED to forbid the munkar (evil) around them. The Allah (swt) informed: â€œ(The believers whose lives Allah (SWT) has purchased are) those who repent to Allah (SWT), who worship Him, who praise Him, who fast (or go out in Allah (SWT)â€™s Cause), who bow down (in prayer), who prostrate themselves (in prayer), who enjoin (people) for Al-Maâ€™ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and who observe the limits set by Allah (SWT). And give glad tidings to the believers.â€ [TMQ 9:112] d) It is reported that during the reign of Umar b. al-Khattab (ra) a man came to a house and cried for water. The residents of that house failed to respond to his call and the man died. Umar then ordered the family to pay blood money (diyyah) to the manâ€™s relatives. (Reported by Ahmad b. Hambal)
The laws in the West not only fail to deal with crime but contribute to its increase by the fact that they are based on values which are bringing society down in the first place. Laws in the West are legislated to facilitate individual freedom whilst ignoring the interests of society as a whole. Hence, greed, promiscuity, alcohol, and indecent behavior are all protected by the force of law. Is it any wonder that crime is rising in the West. In contrast the Shariah has prescribed rules which not only forbid the values which lead to crime but also forbid the avenues to crime. For example:
a) Sanctity of life and property: In the West a person is taken to the brink then he is told that an act is an offence. For example a person is allowed to take cannabis, get hooked on alcohol and gambling and then suddenly when he feels compelled to steal or kill to feed this addiction he is told such a action is a criminal offence. The Shariah in Islam stops the avenues to crime by forbidding and criminalizing not only the crime but also the causes of crime. He (swt) says: â€˜O you who believe! Intoxicants, gamblingâ€¦are an abomination of ShaitÃ¢nâ€™s handiwork. So completely avoid them in order that you may be successful.â€™ [TMQ 5:90]
b) Respect for the honor and dignity of women: In the West women are treated as sexual objects whose femininity is used to sell products and agitate the sexual instinct in an unregulated manner and then people are told rape is a crime. Is it any wonder that one in four women in the West has been raped or a rape has been attempted on her? The Shariah prescribed rules such as dress code for women, rules of non mixing in private space, lowering the gaze etc to protect the honour and dignity of women by prohibiting the means to its violation.
The Shariah, having laid down a set of values and rules has then prescribed a set of harsh punishments to protect these values and rules and deter people from violating them. The philosophy on which the Islamic penal system is based is the need to protect the society as a whole thereby protecting the individual as a result via harsh deterring punishments with a high evidential burden and due process to prevent the miscarriage of justice, unlike the barbaric lenient prison sentences we see in the West where murderers and rapists are let loose in society within a couple of years only to commit even more grave and heinous crimes. So punishments are deliberately harsh to prevent crime and send a message out to society that the values of life, property and chastity are sacrosanct. With regards to the death penalty He (swt) says: â€˜And there is (a saving of) life for you in Al-QisÃ¢s (the Law of Equality in punishment), O men of understanding.â€™ [TMQ 2:179] The Shariah protects life, religion, human dignity, property and the mind and such that it ensures stability and prosperity of society. The Prophet (saw) said: â€œA hadd acted upon in the earth is better for the place of the earth than it raining over them for forty mornings.â€ (Reported by Ibn Majah) The reference to the rain for forty mornings refers to abundance and the prospect of a good harvest in respect to which the Prophet (saw) says the Shariah is even better.
Muslim communities in the West need to appreciate the bigger picture of this attack on Shariah, understand why its happening now, learn the arguments to defend it as outlined above and continue supporting and voicing their demand for the re-establishment of the Khilafah in the Muslim lands which will implement the Shariah holistically with its values, rules and punishments.