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Islamic Sharia Laws

My grandfather was one of the most well-known literary figures in Pakistan’s history and once famously told me that, “Anger is the most extravagant luxury in the world.” I am always reminded of my beloved grandfather’s poignant sentiment whenever I read stories about death sentences being meted out in accordance with Pakistan’s blasphemy laws; with the most recent example being the case of an 11-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan who is facing blasphemy charges for allegedly burning pages of the Koran in rural Pakistan.

The child was arrested last week in a Christian area of the capital Islamabad, after a crowd of people demanded that she be punished for allegedly desecrating pages of the Muslim holy book. According to BBC News, it is not clear whether she burned pages of the Koran or was just found to be carrying them in her bag. Additionally, the BBC reported that doctors in Pakistan have examined this young Christian to further determine her mental capacity (some unconfirmed reports stated that she has Down’s Syndrome), with the results due to be presented in a Pakistani court in the coming days.

It is often said that property disputes or personal enmity are the reasons for many of these cases, because people can be charged on the basis of hearsay. If this were the case, the law would be misused in India also, which it is not. My view is that it is strong religious sentiment that is the reason why so many Pakistanis are accused of being blasphemers.

President Pervez Musharraf said he would look into softening the law, but couldn’t. Sherry Rehman tried to introduce a change to the law and failed. Why?

I would say that it is not possible for the state to bring change over an unwilling population.

Punjab’s Muslims have defied the state on religion before. Emperor Bahadur Shah I (Aurangzeb’s son) was unable to get the Lahore Jama Masjid to recite the khutba because the word ‘wasi’ was added by him to the name of the fourth caliph. The khutba proclaimed him as head of state and was therefore important as a sign of his sovereignty. The emperor had an angry showdown with four sullen clerics in his tent, demanding they comply. In Bahadur Shah’s view, the additional word was not against any specific Sunni practice. The clerics did not back down and, supported by the Afghans in Punjab, threatened civil war. A crowd of 100,000 civilians gathered to fight the state. In all the rest of India, the khutba continued to be read in the prescribed form except in Lahore. The emperor had to back down and finally the khutba was read on October 2, 1711, without the word ‘wasi’.

There is no chance that the state will be able to undo the two changes to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Codification of Muslim Personal Law and Gender Justice
Asghar Ali Engineer
Codification of Muslim Personal Law and Gender Justice
By Asghar Ali Engineer

The Islamic jurists (Fuquaha) had to keep this in mind while applying Qur’anic injunctions and those of authentic Sunna while formulating Sharias even if it meant a degree of compromise with the ideals and values. Thus it was very complex process and varied from time to time and place to place. It is for this reason that Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Shafi’i differed from Imam Malik and Imam Hanbal on many issues as both of them were in places where there were composite cultures....

Child Marriage and Islam
Asghar Ali Engineer
Child Marriage and Islam
By Asghar Ali Engineer

Reports indicate that in Iran, more than 75 female children under age 10 were recently forced to marry much older men. It is indeed very strange how child marriage can be deemed Islamic in any sense of the word. How can it be un-Islamic not to permit child marriage at the immature age of eight? This is probably more cultural than religious. After all, any law bears footprints of culture and cannot completely get rid of cultural influences....

For the last few months consultative meetings have been conducted in various states in which Islamic scholars, Ulama (religious heads), lawyers, jurists, representatives from madrasas participated and all of them strongly favoured codification of Islamic Law in the country,...

Ulama and Islamic Values
Asghar Ali Engineer is a scholar of Islam
Ulama and Islamic Values
Asghar Ali Engineer

A Maulana was deputed and from Farangi Mahal its chief Maulana Irfan Siddiqui himself came. The consultation was great disappointment and proved how rigid our Ulama are and one of the reasons why Islam appears to be so rigid to non-Muslims and rationalist Muslims is chiefly because of this rigidity. Right at the beginning the Maulana from Nadwa (I am not naming him) right in the beginning said you are undertaking very ‘dangerous’ work (khaufnak kam kar rahen hain). He also alleged that you are trying to ‘change Qur’an.’ I said let us first go through the proposals and then you point out why it is ‘dangerous’ and how it amounts to change Qur’an....

The institution of Zakat is rooted in the Quranic ordinance on mandatory that declares: “Charities are for the poor Muslims (Fuqra), and the poor of any other religion (masakin) and the workers (who administer) them, and for those who have embraced faith*, and for (freeing) the slaves, and for (assisting) debtors, and (for spending) in God's way, and for the traveller (ibn al-sabil)2 – an ordinance (faridah) from God. (Remember,) God is All-Knowing and Wise” (9:60) It was established as part of state-controlled poverty alleviation measure at Caliph Umar’s time – almost fourteen centuries ago....

Love, Sex and Marriage in the Quran
Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
Love, Sex and Marriage in the Quran
Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

The Qur’an treats sexuality as a divine bounty. It recognizes human impulse of love and mercy for the opposite sex (30:21), allows the members of either sex without specifying any age to have admiration for a believing member of the opposite sex (2:221). Its verses directly relating to sexuality also invoke divine mercy (7:189) and heedfulness of God (taqwa) (2:223) thereby precluding any notion of sexual abuse or coercion as widely practiced in many Muslim lands and committed by some Muslim husbands against their wives. Sexual intimacy is however forbidden during the fasting hours in the month of Ramadan (2:187) and with the wives who are in their monthly courses (2:222)....

Fatwa: The Final Solution?
Danish Raza
Fatwa: The Final Solution?
Danish Raza for New Age Islam

The series of fatwas issued in the recent years and the debate generated on media regarding these controversial announcements have given fatwas a grey character. Never ending debates and discussions later, there remains a mystery over the credibility and authenticity of these edicts. What exactly is a fatwa and who can issue it? When issued, who all are obliged to follow it? Why there are different fatwas on the same matter?  A fatwa is a legal pronouncement in Islam, issued by a religious law specialist on a specific issue. Usually a fatwa is issued at the request of an individual or a judge to settle a question where ‘fiqh’ or Islamic jurisprudence, is unclear. A scholar capable of issuing fatwas is known as a ‘mujtahid’. …

It is Salafi Muslims who degraded women, not Islam!
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
It is Salafi Muslims who degraded women, not Islam!
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

Being the birthplace of Islamic Shariah, Saudi Arabia is viewed as the epitome of Islamic practices. Indeed, it advertises itself as the last refuge of puritan Islam, whatever that may mean. Talking about women in Islam, people naturally fix their eyes on what is going on in Saudi Arabia with regard to Saudi and other women living there. To their horror, they find women in Saudi Arabia completely deprived of the dignity and honour ensured by the Prophet of Islam.    

In Saudi/Salafi society, women are treated like commodities and disposable containers. Different kinds of legal opportunities have been provided for Salafi men to exploit women in the name of Islam throughout the world. Wahhabi /Salafi scholars have issued many fatwas to allow several kinds of deceptive and fake marriages to use women as sex slaves for as long as they wish. Here are a few types of fake marriages practiced and favoured by Saudi Salafis:

Some Thoughts on Sharia as Islamic Law
Dr. Adis Duderija is a research associate at the University of Melbourne, Islamic Studies
Some Thoughts on Sharia as Islamic Law
Adis Duderija, New Age Islam

One of the most controversial aspects of the Islamic tradition today is the concept of Shariah law, especially when coupled with the much debated and often heated topic of the role and the status of women in Islam.  Even to the educated (western) (non) Muslim audience the term Sharia law or Islamic law  usually brings to mind barbaric, demeaning, medieval type practices such as stoning to death, cutting off hands, forced marriages, honour killings or the image of Muslim women  wearing abayas with Niqabs , chadors , or Hijabs ....

Where Is Her Home?
Syeda Hameed
Where Is Her Home?
Syeda Hameed

I looked for the Islamic view of marriage; especially for women. In this regard, I found verse after verse about the relationship of men and women, in marriage, divorce and inheritance. In short, I found a wealth of directives on interpersonal relations in marriage. The overall spirit I derived from the texts was that all believers, men and women, must exercise utmost consideration in their conduct with each other. A few examples from the Surahs will suffice. ...

Arguably, 15 years and 10 months is not too young, given that many girls are known to become sexually active by that age. But a closer look at the judgment reveals that it does not set age as the benchmark, but menarche as the determining factor for when a Muslim girl can be legally married. Like a pet animal who we joyously send for mating once she is in “heat”. Sounds derogatory? It is. With the age of puberty being consistently lowered, this judgment may well pave the way for young girls to be married off as early as nine years of age. ...

The hue and cry made by some activists’ against the judgment has no meaning. In fact the above judgment is a shining example of a very rational approach to a burning issue like marriage. There have been child marriages taking place throughout the world. It depends upon socio-economic conditions. All the religions Hinduism, Christianity, Islam etc. are not opposed to the marriages of girls below 18 years. Many Sankaracharyas have said that girls should be married as soon as they attain puberty.......

Muslims Must Reclaim the Spirit of Islam
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
Muslims Must Reclaim the Spirit of Islam
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

The Delhi High Court judgment did provide the opportunity for the Muslims to do some serious introspection, but as always, the Muslim leadership, both religious and political has sought to legitimize and welcome a judgment which would be anathema in any modern country.

In what can be termed nothing but shameful, the AIMPLB has welcomed the judgment, taking refuge in the Muslim personal law and the Constitution of India. It merits only some common sense to realize that even Muslim countries like Turkey, Tunisia and Syria have changed their laws to suit the emerging norm of modern living. Indonesia and Pakistan, both Muslim countries, perhaps have more gender just laws as compared to Indian Muslims.

What stops the AIMPLB to even start thinking along these lines is unfathomable, to say the least. Sticking to fundamentalism, they are potentially jeopardizing the health and life of many Muslim girls whose custodians they claim themselves to be….

Islamic Law does not Sanction Child Marriage
A. Faizur Rahman
Islamic Law does not Sanction Child Marriage
A. Faizur Rahman

It is well known that insofar as its legality is concerned, marriage in Islam is a written covenant between two individuals and as such both have to be adults to understand the responsibilities and intricacies of such an agreement. This prescript that strikes at the root of the concept of child marriage is supported by verse 4:6 of the Quran which equates the age of marriage (balaghun nikah) with the age of intellectual maturity (rushd), a stage that comes after the age of puberty....

All India Muslim Personal Law Board, whose main concern is the conservation of Muslim personal law: not with a view to reforming it over time, but as a way of buttressing Muslim identity in India. In this view, Muslim personal law represents a residual link with the Sharia and gives legal substance to the idea of a Muslim community. Muslim conservatives are sometimes joined, in newspaper reports, by 'moderate Muslims', a peculiarly offensive category that seems to assume that being Muslim is a condition that needs moderation. …

Why are the civil courts using Muslim Personal Laws when their duty is to interpret constitutional laws?
Vidya Bhushan Rawat, New Age Islam
Why are the civil courts using Muslim Personal Laws when their duty is to interpret constitutional laws?
Vidya Bhushan Rawat, New Age Islam

Now the question is why the civil courts are using personal laws in their jurisdiction when their duty is to interpret the constitutional laws. If we accept the supremacy of our constitutional provisions then all other laws of the country including personal laws, must be subordinate to our civil laws. And this must come strongly in the judgments. Unfortunately, the Judges have been using these religious moralities to explain or strengthen their arguments which seem to be quite dangerous….

So it’s official. Muslim minors, at least Muslim girls, are temperamentally more mature than their non-Muslim counterparts. Seen from this angle, the court verdict is reasoned, pragmatic and indeed uncharacteristically liberal:.... But hold that liberating air punch for a moment. The high court’s decision does come as a bulwark against pernicious parental and social pressure —.....

Gender Equality in Islam
Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
Gender Equality in Islam
Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

Historically, jurists have insisted that the lay Muslims lack the scholarship to interpret the Qur’an, and must therefore belong to a Sharia law school (mathhab) for their proper guidance in religious matters and conformity to a given legal system. This led to the institutionalization of ‘Sharia law’ as the taproot of Islamic civilization and its veneration as the word of God, whose rulings could not be breached or challenged. The truth, however is, the Islamic Sharia Law is a cumulative juristic tradition that circumscribes the views, opinions and rulings of Islam’s jurists and doctors of law and their interpretation of the Qur’anic ordinances pertaining to the different facets of life, including man-woman relationship....

Yet this is the only appearance in the Qur’an of the word qawwamun. The abstract term qiwamah ( protection, maintenance) based on it does not appear at all. In relation to marriage and relations between spouses, two other terms ? appear over twenty times: ma‘ruf  (good way, decent) and rahmah wa muwadah, (compassion and love). Why did the jurists choose not to translate these two terms into legal rulings? The closely related term wilayah does occur in the Qur’an, in the sense of friendship and mutual support, but never as endorsing male authority over women, which is the interpretation of the term enshrined, alongside qiwamah, in juristic rulings on marriage.

The document declared Iran as a Muslim nation whose laws are derived from Islamic Sharia, which it defines as God's "exclusive sovereignty and the right to legislate", based on God's commands in Quran and Sunnah, which is Prophet's Mohammad's teachings…

A Fresh Insight into the Qur’anic Verses Quoted to Justify Unwedded Sexual Relation with Maids, Call Girls etc
Muhammad Yunus is an Islamic Scholar and columnist for New Age Islam
A Fresh Insight into the Qur’anic Verses Quoted to Justify Unwedded Sexual Relation with Maids, Call Girls etc
Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

The Qur’an came to bring about an all round reform of human society that included, among other things,  phased abolition of slavery and empowerment of women  through the institution of marriage and other family laws. Therefore any suggestion to accommodate slavery or sex with captives, maids, call girls etc. in the fold of Islam will stand in stark contradiction to its universal message. It is conceivable that with time the gendered and historic-specific traditional translation of the Qur’an will be refreshed with the tabled universal rendition. …

Why Muslim Converts Wear Hijab
Dr. Adis Duderija is a research associate at the University of Melbourne, Islamic Studies
Why Muslim Converts Wear Hijab
Dr. Adis Duderija, New Age Islam

As part of my research I have come across mounting evidence indicating that young western-born Muslim women are increasingly adopting a more explicitly Islamic dress including the hijab and Niqab. This also holds true for Muslim women living in Australia. Studies also suggest that for western-born young Muslim women, wearing a veil seems to play a decisive role in construction of new Western Muslim identities. Importantly Qur'anic commentators repeatedly highlighted the habit of women in Mecca and Medina to expose all or most of their chests, even if their hair was covered.  …

Deoband Fatwas: Dream Scenario to Nightmare
Manoj Joshi is the Comment Editor of Mail Today
Deoband Fatwas: Dream Scenario to Nightmare
Manoj Joshi

In a revolutionary fatwa which could go a long way at strengthening the institution of Islamic wedding, the Darul Uloom at Deoband, in a departure from the Shariah, has said that a second marriage would be a bad idea if the first wife was alive. “According to the Shariah, it is lawful to keep two wives at the same time. But it is generally not acceptable in Indian custom. Here in India, it is like inviting hundreds of problems. …

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