By T.O. Shanavas, New Age Islam
17 November 2016
Sharia is central to Islamic faith. It is
the Divine Law of Guidance for personal and public behaviour of Muslims, and
justice to humanity. Justice is one word in Islam that wraps balance, harmony,
fairness, mercy and equity together for the society to function cohesively,
where none has live in fear of the other but God. In its absence, humanity will
degenerate into a dysfunctional society. Most Muslims believe that the complete
code of Sharia or Divine Law is primarily in the Qur'an and secondarily in the
authentic reports of Prophet teachings as well as the practices (Hadiths).
However, there are many Hadiths in the Sahih Bukhari, Muslim, etc., that defame
Prophet (s), is irrational, unjust, contrary to common good, and contradict the
Qur’an, and “Any rules that depart from justice to injustice, from kindness to
harshness, from common good to harm, or rationality to absurdity cannot be part
of Sharia.’ (13th century jurist Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya)
Unfortunately, it is a common Muslims
misconception that Divine Law equals Fiqh (understanding by jurists) or Muslim
jurisprudence. Various forms of Muslim Jurisprudence are built on the idea that
every human effort to articulate Sharia (Divine Law) in specific legal rules is
human, and therefore unavoidably fallible process. This process is called
Ijitihad, and rules it produces are called Fiqh (understanding) or Muslim
jurisprudence. Thus, for Muslims there has always been one Law of God (Sharia),
but many schools of Fiqh articulating Divine Law here on earth. Sunni schools
are: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, Hambali, Zahari, etc., and the schools of Shia are
Jaf’ari, Zaydi, and Ibadi. Each of the schools of Islam are named by students
of the classical jurist who taught them.
Fiqh rules can be criticized or rejected or reframed without questioning
God's infallibility, because Fiqh rules are merely the result of fallible human
efforts to understand and elaborate Sharia.
The logic of the Sharia is its minimal
number of clear interdictions, and maximal scope for the interpretative
extension of key precepts to particular situations. It means that any freezing
of the Ulema’s (scholars’) ‘arbitrary’ decisions arises not so much from the
essential characteristics of the Sharia, but merely from a fallible human
decree of a particular legal tradition or method of exegesis. Only God knows
who is right and no Muslim religious-legal scholar (Fuqaha) can insist that his
or her conclusions are the correct articulation of Sharia (Divine Law) as
against all others. In short, whereas Sharia is perfect, incontestable and is
not in need of reform, Fiqh rules are always fallible, therefore can be wrong.
I define: Contemporary Muslim
fundamentalists are those who believe Fiqh (understandings by Fuqaha) or Muslim
jurisprudence are divine, perfect, infallible, incontestable and Ijtihad
(unfettered reasoning) is a closed for Muslims. Such a Muslim belief is called
T.O. Shanavas is a native of Kerala, but is now based in the USA.He is
the author of “Islamic Theory of evolution of Evolution the Missing Link
between Darwin and The Origin of Species.” Co-author of the book, And God Said,
"Let There Be Evolution!” Reconciling The Book Of Genesis, The Qur'an, And
The Theory Of Evolution. Edited by Prof. Charles M. Wynn and Prof. Arthur W.
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
Dear Ghulam Mohiuddin Sahab,
in your last post: “It (the Qur’an) sets out actual laws and even
punishments. That is the basis of Shariat.”
I had explained the existential necessity of the punishment laws
in my comment and I do not want to revisit it. But let me try to address your comment.
jurists reduce Shariat to Islamic punitive laws, though from the Qur’anic
perspective Shariah is a broad concept – the divinely approved principles or moral
imperative that can be given legal shape by the jurists and doctors of law. In
one word, the Qur’an is the embodiment of the Sharia of Islam and encapsulates
its social, moral and ethical tenets, and its criteria of right and wrong,
lawful and forbidden in broad terms as guidance to humanity for all times.
Therefore, as you said: “all
the laws that we enact must satisfy the Quranic principles of fairness, justice,
even-handedness, reasonableness, compassion and upholding the dignity of
We are saying practically the same thing, so we can focus on other themes unless you think otherwise.
Ghulam Mohiuddin Sahab: You say: “most Quranic laws are truly appropriate
only for those times”
It is ironical that contrary to the Qur’an
repeated claim to be a book of guidance, Muslims, even the most learned like
yourself, subconsciously regard it as a book of law.
role as a fount of guidance is captured in my book that you have in Ch. 2.3
that I am copying below to share with others and dispel the deeply entrenched specious
notion that the Qur’an is a book of law:
"The Qur'an sets out the highest
principles of belief and a framework of moral values and social guidelines.
However, its guidance is timeless, designed for universal communities, and is
therefore broad based, and not spelled out in any details. For example, it lays great emphasis on good deeds and zakah (traditionally rendered as
charity) - but does not define either. Its treatment of social and civil norms,
finance etc. is in general terms. It does not give any detailed instructions in
civil law or administration of justice, though it touches on the punishment for
some of the major prevalent offences and crimes, while emphasizing on justice and equity in general
terms. However, the Qur’an is specific when it radically changed what existed at the time.
Accordingly, it clearly spells out the various facets of family and inheritance
laws, thereby ensuring the rights and privileges of women in different
capacities: as an independent person, a wife, a mother, a widow, or as an
inheritor of property from the next of kin."
Agreed that “all the laws
that we enact must satisfy the Quranic principles of fairness, justice,
even-handedness, reasonableness, compassion and upholding the dignity of
brings out the disconnect between the divine/ universal Sharia and the Sharia
Law of Islam. Your previous comment has diverted the theme to anthropology/
since I chose to remain communication with you to gain from your erudition let
me clarify the points you raise on this new theme.
Buccail was NOT an advocate or supporter of Darwin’s theory. You have in all probability not read
his book, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science for
had you even scanned the book you could never charge him of subscribing to Darwin’s
theory. His book only aims to establish the compatibility of many of the
Qur’an’s cryptic and enigmatic pronouncements with modern science. He dismisses
Darwin’ theory on the ground of uniqueness of genetic configuration in all living creatures. He
concludes that “the Quran is the Word of God. He also tells that
some of the most celebrated scientific discoveries in the 20th century, were
described in the Qur'an in detail and accuracy.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Bucaille]
Here is the background of Maurice Buccail for your information lest you treat him like an ignorant, half literate and laughing stock - I am afraid a reflection of your disenchantment with the faith of Islam - an inferiority complex perhaps though I may be wrong for I cannot get to your mind through your words.
Maurice Bucaille (French pronunciation: 19 July 1920, – 17 February 1998), son of Maurice and Marie (James) Bucaille, was a French medical doctor, member of the French Society of Egyptology, and an author. Bucaille practiced medicine from 1945–82 and was a specialist in gastroenterology. In 1973, Bucaille was appointed family physician to king Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Another of his patients at the time included members of the family of then President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat.
Let us not
discuss this theme any further. If you want to know the Qur’an’s take on the
origin of man, my article referenced below captures the crux of it in these
The Qur’an’s divergent insights into the creation/evolution of man, mixing the
abstruse and the corporeal, the abstract and the scientific make it amply clear
that it has not been the object of the Qur’an to unravel the mystery of man’s
creation… By any stretch of
imagination, it is not a textbook on biology or any other branch of physical
sciences or field of knowledge.”
Re: Darwinism is
Consistent with Qur’anic Insights on Man’s Origin