Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
19 June 2017
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah
Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
This short paper is provoked by the recent
anti-Sharia Law rallies across America. It aim is to clarify the black and
white distinction between ‘the Sharia Law of Islam’ that many Americans/
non-Muslims are genuinely afraid of and the ‘Sharia of Islam,’ that
unfortunately many Muslims conflate with the ‘Sharia Law of Islam.’
‘Sharia Law of Islam’ represents selective
opinions of the Muslim jurists, mostly from the early centuries of Islam; it
carries no divinity, it is not any part or article of Islamic faith; it is not
binding on Muslims for all times and, its rulings are divergent and can range
from the noblest to the vilest depending upon what a jurists or Muslim terror
ideologue seeks to establish. Had it been anywhere near as exclusivist or
brutal as the terror outfits of this era [ISIS, Boko Haram, and Takfiri groups]
claim, the Christians, Jews and all non-Muslims would have long perished in the
lands that the Muslims ruled for almost half a millennium, while Muslims, Christians
and Jews would not have lived in peace and harmony in the Muslim Spain for
almost 700 years. The present day radical proponents of Sharia Law are simply
terrorizing the West by feeding to their fear of Islam - thanks to the
grandiose Islamophobic industry.
‘Sharia of Islam’ on the other hand is
represented by the Qur'an. For the Muslims, it is divine, unalterable, and
eternally binding source of guidance. It encompasses a broad spectrum of
positive commandments - justice, liberty, equity, good deeds, charity,
generosity, kindness to all humanity for example as well as a whole string of
noble virtues – mercy, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, moderation, and
prohibitions against all that is evil and reprehensible. Its tenets are largely
compatible with universal secular/ Christian values. It also alludes to, among
other things, some existential aspects of its era of introduction (seventh
century Arabia) which do not form any explicit part of its message as it
expressly asks humanity to focus on its clear and unambiguous commandments
(3:7) and to seek its best meaning (39:18, 39:55).
As these two notions are engraved in the
Muslims’ collective memory as complementary or synergetic, verging on the
synonymous, it may be useful to illustrate this difference with the following
In the case of ‘Sharia Law of Islam,’ the
tag ‘Islam’ is symbolic as the pre-fix ‘Arabic’ in the popular dish
‘Arabichaleem.’ The recipe of Arabic Haleem can change from shop to shop, time
to time, and people can throw it out into the waste bin if it becomes stale.
The tag ‘Islam’ in the ‘Sharia of Islam’
represents ‘Islam’ as represented by the Qur’an (5:48). Its text does not
change with place and time. It cannot get outdated and no one can trash it.
So, there is black and white difference
between ‘Sharia Law of Islam’ and ‘Sharia of Islam.’
It is not surprising therefore that great
many rulings of ‘Islamic Sharia Law’ contradict the ‘Sharia of Islam’ (Qur’anic
message). These include, among others, stoning to death for adultery, capital
punishment for apostasy and blasphemy, institutionalized slavery, temporary
marriage, parental immunity against child abuse, instant (triple) Talaq, rape
law, mobility restriction, full veiling and gender-based segregation of women,
discrimination and hatred against non-Muslims, demographic division of the
world between the Muslims and non-Muslims, perpetual jihad against non-Muslims,
forced conversion of captive non-Muslim women, prohibition of all art forms –
song, dance and music– to cite some commonplace examples. In historical
relativism these may have been compatible with those of the other
civilizations, but with sea change in paradigms of civilization since the
Classical Islamic era, they stand in sharp stark contrast with the realities of
the modern era, and cause genuine fear and concern among the non-Muslims in the
Western world with growing Muslim population.
The truth is, the vast majority of Muslims
settled in the Muslim minority countries of the world including America do not
aspire to install the ‘Sharia Law of Islam’ in their countries as a parallel
system of governance or moral code. They simply want to be good, peaceful and
active citizens, have reasonable levels of income and entertain similar civil
aspirations, entertainments, consumption addictions and material ambitions as
the others – except that, outwardly, they may more devoted to religious rituals
as a group. All they want is to practice their religion freely, live with
others in peace and harmony, and avail of the blessings of life – without
coming anywhere near the theological or juristic issues of Islam that has
plagued this religion for over a millennium.
Hence, the American people and the
mainstream societies in the Muslim minority countries have nothing to fear
against any demand from its minority Muslim population to implement ‘Sharia Law
of Islam. ‘A section of conservative Muslims and first generation immigrants in
the Western countries may show their preference for Islam’s Sharia Law in any
survey – but the ‘Sharia law’ that they have in mind is nostalgic of the
classical period of Islamic civilization, which boasted of a highly structured,
just and pluralistic system of governance under its ambit. That is like an old
man dreaming to going back to the days of his youth. It can never be realized,
given the abysmal decline in Islam’s juristic scholarship and the irrevocable
march forward of human civilization in the track of history, and is therefore
not to be afraid of or aspired for.
The Muslims of the world – particularly the
Arab world must clearly understand the black and white distinction between the
‘Sharia of Islam’ and the ‘Sharia Law of Islam’ or else they will never be able
to form a cohesive society in another one thousand years. The proof of the
cataclysmic danger in this unholy mix up lies in the victory of Muslim
Brotherhood leaning candidate, Mohammed Morsi in Egypt’s 2012 elections. The
Egyptian masses conflated the Islamic Law that Morsi’s Freedom and Justice
Party promised with a progressive, enlightened and liberating form of
government that could parallel the Western democracy but would be free of its
pitfalls. This was their notion of the Sharia of Islam. But what Morsi gave
them was close to the Classical Sharia Law that was a far cry from the Sharia
they voted for. The result is known to the world.
So the Muslims of the world – especially
its leaders and educated elite must clearly understand the black and white
distinction between ‘Sharia of Islam’ and the ‘Sharia Law of Islam’ (‘Islamic
Law’) as this paper attempts to expound in very simple but compelling terms -
otherwise they will live in perpetual confusion and chaos and allow a handful
of proponents of Sharia Law to form mini-Caliphates, terrorize the whole world
and create mayhems in their own lands.
To conclude this exposition, the author
will remind the Islamists and the proponents of the Sharia Law of Islam - who
project it as the Sharia of Islam, of the axiom that “one cannot fool all the
people all the time” and therefore there is no way that they can fool God
Almighty indefinitely by attributing to Him or to His Prophet all the vilest rulings of the
‘Sharia Law of Islam.’ Therefore, they must use reason unless they want to
appropriate the following pronouncement of the Qur’an for themselves:
“Indeed the worst of creatures in God’s sight are the
deaf and dumb, who do not use reason (8:22).
This article follows up on this author’s
exhaustive technical article on the subject referenced below posted at New Age
Islam more than five years ago.
The Classical Islamic Law
(Islamic Sharia Law) is NOT a Word of God!
The Classical Islamic Sharia Law is NOT a Word of God! (Part
II: The Way Forward)
Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and
a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the
Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the
referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif,
Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and
authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana
Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic
Muslim News, Arab
World News, South
Asia News, Indian
Muslim News, World
Muslim News, Women
in Islam, Islamic
In Arab, Islamophobia
in America, Muslim
Women in West, Islam
Women and Feminism
“As for those who believe in God and His
messengers, and do not make a distinction between any of them – it is they who
will be given their rewards, for God is Most Forgiving and Merciful” (4:152).
“Certainly We have sent messengers before you
(O Muhammad!): Some of them We have mentioned to you, while there are others
that We have not mentioned to you…” (40:78).
Dear Yunus Sb,
I am engaged in the same activity as yourself – demolishing the
man-made sharia. My Quarnic sharia based articles listed below are proof.
Deen-e-Islam or the Moral Way of Living in Islam
The Process for Divorce in the Quran
Inheritance Related Calculations Based On the Quran
What Is Halal (Permissible) And What Is Haram (Forbidden)
In The Quran?
Is Music Prohibited In Islam?
Much discussed and debated Medinian Verses Relating to Fighting
Wisdom: Marriage and Treatment of Women
The Morality or the Immorality of the Institution of
Slavery and the Quranic Permission That Allowed Sex with Female Slaves
The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (pbuh)
From the Qu’ran (Part 6): The People of the Book and Jiziya
I go a step further and say that the Quranic sharia should be
talked about in the language of reason and practical ethics or what makes
rational sense in today’s world. Some of my articles especially the last two, touch
upon a sensitive subject from the past, to show that these made perfect sense
in the past but not today. My articles are written from such a perspective and
go beyond describing the Quranic sharia.
In the US and Europe, the Muslims cannot succeed with
demands for either the sharia of the Quran or the man-made sharia, unless they give
good reasons why they need laws that are different from what exist in those
countries. Merely saying that this set represents the sharia of the Quran may
not be enough. If the sharia of the Quran is superior to man-made laws, why has
not a single Islamic country established this as fact with the lowest rates of
crime and the highest level of happiness in their society? They need to focus
on this, rather than demand a sharia, without proof of its efficacy anywhere in
Dear Naseer Ahmed, Ikram Ahmed and hats off!
As practically every intelligent son has differences with his dad because of
differing worldviews, and perceptions of reality, so do all of us differ on our
views in this forum – the more brilliant are likely to differ the more. But our
goal is common: to take the Muslim masses out of their Medieval Citadel and
allow them to breathe fresh air of this era; put it directly, to reverse their
continuing decline as a civilization that has turned them from the messiah to
the pariah; and from a source of security and relief to their non-Muslim
neighbors to a cause of fear and mistrust.
Having done some 120 articles on this forum, mostly designed to deliver
the Muslims from their Medieval Citadel – a quagmire of its glorious heritage,
I have now hopefully hit close to the head of the nail in my above article. If
we could somehow get the Muslims to understand that that their true and only ‘Sharia’
is the Qur’an, we will at least be opening wide the gate of the Citadel and
extend a strong twig to the Muslims caught in the quagmire of it glorious heritage.
With this I am requesting each of you, who have participated on this
thread or at least seen it, to circulate the above article across all your contacts
with at least one good word about the author, which he possibly deserves.
It is not a question about whether the Qur’an is really a word of God
or Islamic civilization was a bane and not boon to humanity or relating to any
interpretational or polemical issue that can continue indefinitely like the diverse
and unending issues facing a ‘King.” But if the King has no clothes but and no one
wants to say this for fear of his wrath – someone must say loud and clear that
he has no clothes as much as the Sharia Law of Islam is not the Sharia of
This is my personal request to each of you.