By Adil Rasheed
28 September 2018
It might seem ironic but religious
fundamentalism is quite a modern, sui generis phenomenon. As its quest for
truth is driven more by casuistry than spirituality, it strives to confute the
orthodox and traditional practices of various faiths, polities and cultures.
Thus, fundamentalism is modern not merely
because of its emergence in relatively recent times, but because it attempts to
impose a systematic structure to dogma and is generally averse towards
religion’s essentially metaphysical and esoteric dimensions.
By discarding the intricacies of the
metaphorical, fundamentalism clings to a literalist defence of scripture that
invariably gives its arguments a reductionist, absolutist and intolerant
In its pursuance of minimalism to
ostensibly achieve pristine purity of faith, it sets itself up against
intellectualism, aestheticism and mysticism, and so it finds few scholars,
thinkers or artists among its obscurantist following.
The term fundamentalism originated in late
19th century when it referred to the extremist beliefs of certain Protestant
sects in Britain and the US, which insisted on the literal inerrancy of the
However, this mimetic threat soon spread to
other religions including some segments of Islam, even though this trend has
arguably shown signs of general regress in recent times.
Although simplistic in its vehement
adherence to “the inviolable basic principles”, fundamentalism in our times is
remarkably innovative in that it has transported religion out of its spiritual
realm and brought its distorted version into the socio-cultural, political and
even economic domains.
Surprisingly like neo-liberalism,
fundamentalism rejects tradition and “cultural specificity in favor of abstract
universalism”. Thus, Muslim fundamentalist movements generally reject all the
orthodox schools of religious jurisprudence or doctrines. In this, they are
remarkably anarchist, even post-modern.
In an article titled “Post-Modern Jihad”,
published in The Weekly Standard soon after the September 11 attacks in 2001,
Waller Newell (Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Carleton
University) wrote “the ideology by which al-Qaeda justifies its acts of terror
owes as much to baleful trends in Western thoughts as it does to a perversion
of religious beliefs. Osama’s doctrine of terror is partly a Western export.”
In the article, the scholar traces the
influences of Nazi philosopher Heidegger and post-modern ideologues like
Foucault on the Iranian Revolution and al-Qaeda.
He writes: “The relationship between
postmodernist European leftism and Islamist radicalism is a two-way street: Not
only have Islamists drawn on the legacy of European left, but European Marxists
have taken heart from Islamist terrorists who seemed close to achieving the
longed for revolution against American hegemony.”
According to noted expert on Islamist
terrorism Olivier Roy, “In the 1960s, in Western Europe we had a tradition of
youth radicalization from the Marxist revolution. Suddenly around the 1990s,
the dream of the Marxist revolution disappeared and al-Qaeda and ISIS filled
Similarly Ofri Ilani writes:
“Individualism, hatred of the establishment and a cult of emotion activate the
jihadists, just as they activated the anarchist assassins in the 19th century
or the Red Brigades in the 1970s”.
The Loss of Meaning
Since ancient times, religion instituted
meaning in human consciousness through its spiritual injunctions, ethical
distinction of right from wrong as well as restrictions on the bestial and
carnal instincts. With the coming of European enlightenment, rationalism and
science set new standards of personal, societal and universal values.
However, with the rise of post-modern
philosophies, certitude in established institutions of faith, ethics and even
reason started to crumble and thereby the very construct of meaning began to
blur. A similar trend is perceptible in the descent of militant fundamentalism
from its avowed pursuance of essential religious truths to a near complete
breakdown of any ethical construct it claimed to cling to.
Like post-modern Marxist revolutionaries,
the bestial has gained pre-eminence over both the spiritual and the rational,
leading to a near collapse of faith and any semblance of good sense. Borrowing
ideas from their post-modern ideological mentors, groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS
have violated the very basic injunctions of their avowed faith.
As Newell puts it: “For Foucault as for
Fanon, Hezbollah, and the rest down to Osama, the purpose of violence is not to
relieve poverty or adjust borders. Violence is an end in itself … That is how
al Qaeda can ignore mainstream Islam, which prohibits the deliberate killing of
non-combatants, and slaughter innocents in the name of creating a new world,
the latest in a long line of grimly punitive collectivist utopias.”
One could definitely add the name of ISIS
on the list of these post-modern, neo-fundamentalist purveyors of violence. Not
surprisingly, militant fundamentalism strives in places of utter chaos and
The remedy to clearly lies in restoring
religion to its rightful and exclusive preserve of spiritualism, while leaving
socio-political issues to institutions of national and international polity.
There can be no space for religion in the political domain.
Dr. Adil Rasheed is Research Fellow at the Institute for Defense and
Strategic Analyses (IDSA) based in New Delhi since August 2016. For over 20
years, he has been a journalist, researcher, political commentator for various
international think tanks and media organizations, both in the United Arab
Emirates and India. He was Senior Research Fellow at the United Services
Institution of India (USI) for two years from 2014 to 2016, where he still
holds the honorary title of Distinguished Fellow. He has also worked at the Abu
Dhabi-based think tank The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research
(ECSSR) for eight years (2006-14).
All the Prophets who gave the law were necessarily Kings or
Rulers with the required political power to lay down the law as well as ensure
compliance to the law. Some of the Ruler Prophets in the Judaic transition are:
David, Solomon 931 BC, Ahab 852 BC, Hezekiah, Zedekiah 618-561 BC, Jehu 814 BC,
Saul, Asa 870 BC, Amon of Judah 664-641 BC.
Hammurabi[a] (c. 1810 BC – c. 1750 BC) was the sixth king of
the First Babylonian Dynasty, reigning from 1792 BC to 1750 BC. He brought almost
all of Mesopotamia under Babylonian rule.
Hammurabi is best known for having issued the Code of
Hammurabi, which he claimed to have received from Shamash, the Babylonian god
of justice. Unlike earlier Sumerian law codes, such as the Code of Ur-Nammu,
which had focused on compensating the victim of the crime, the Law of Hammurabi
was one of the first law codes to place greater emphasis on the physical
punishment of the perpetrator. It prescribed specific penalties for each crime
and is among the first codes to establish the presumption of innocence.
Although its penalties are extremely harsh by modern standards, they were
intended to limit what a wronged person was permitted to do in retribution.
Hammurabi was seen by many as a god within his own lifetime.
After his death, Hammurabi was revered as a great conqueror who spread
civilization and forced all peoples to pay obeisance to Marduk, the national
god of the Babylonians. Later, his military accomplishments became
de-emphasized and his role as the ideal lawgiver became the primary aspect of
his legacy. For later Mesopotamians, Hammurabi's reign became the frame of
reference for all events occurring in the distant past. Even after the empire
he built collapsed, he was still revered as a model ruler, and many kings
across the Near East claimed him as an ancestor. Hammurabi was rediscovered by
archaeologists in the late nineteenth century and has since become seen as an
important figure in the history of law.
Hammurabi has all the characteristics of a King who was a
Prophet. Let us replace Muhammad (pbuh) in place of Hammurabi, and we may
expect the historical narrative for ancient history which was forgotten but
rediscovered, to read as follows.
Muhammad rose from humble beginnings to declare himself a
Prophet when he was forty. He was bitterly opposed and forced to migrate from
his city Mecca but returned militarily triumphant some 10 years later and
spread his political influence far and wide with amazing conquests in a very
short period. He gave the Book the Quran which contains the law as well as the
ideal way of living and founded a religion called Islam, which he claimed was not
a new religion but the only religion from the first man Adam and that his
mission was in continuation of the same mission of every prophet. He asked all
his followers to exclusively pay obeisance to Allah, who he said was the only
true god, and cease worshiping every other god they had previously worshiped
along with Allah. He claimed the Book was revealed to him by Jibrail aka
Gabriel who is one of the trinitrin gods in Christianity but considered only an Angel in the Quran.
The Code of Hammurabi, the Law of Moses in the Torah and the
Law of the Quran, contain numerous similarities, as they should if they are
revelations from the same God.
Good to see that he has abandoned the outrageous claim that Quranic
laws on adultery are 7th century pagan Arab laws! The very thought!
There is no moral principle whatsoever which is not of divine origin as
well as the punishment for it. As I have brought out in several of my articles,
without divine revelation of the moral way of living, the progeny of Adam would
have remained “insignificant animals with no more impact on their environment
than gorillas, fireflies or jellyfish”. It is religion that has transformed
man who started to form elaborate structures called cultures based on common
values given by religion which gave rise to civilizations. Each of the moral principles is counter
intuitive, and therefore was unavailable to man in foresight, which is why it
needed divine revelation. A counter intuitive moral principle had to be
implemented strictly with harsh penalties for contravention. Once these were
practiced, and the utilitarian value became evident, and the willingness to live
by the moral principles increased, the severity of the punishments was
progressively decreased. You will therefore find, extremely harsh penalties in
the past such as stoning to death, burning, tearing the body apart by pulling
the limbs in different directions, drowning, strangulation etc. Which of these
punishments were of human or divine origin is difficult to say, but corporal
punishment has been a part of divine law and is also the punishment in the Hereafter.
Whether this makes Allah merciful or cruel has been answered in my article: Was Allah Unjust in Creating Adam and Favouring His
Progeny Over All His Creation?
Even though every past religion has moved from
monotheism to paganism (10:19) “Mankind was but one nation, but differed
(later)”, the pagans continued to live by the moral principles within their own
tribe. Theft within the tribe was theft but not stealing from someone outside
of the tribe. Laws on adultery became only property rights and implemented as
such. Paganism and loose sexual morals go hand in hand which is why the two
most heinous crimes in Islam for a believer are (1) Associating partners with
Allah which is an unforgivable sin and (2) Adultery for which the punishment cannot
be reduced once the crime is established.
The two practices that make a believer a Muslim are
(1) Establishing regular prayers and (2) Spending in charity.
The Prayer also helps prevent shameful deeds the
most shameful being adultery 29:45 “Prayer
restrains from shameful and unjust deeds”
The seduction of Satan is through attracting man to
immodest practices the most extreme being adultery.
(7:27) O ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you, in the same
manner as He got your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their
raiment, to expose their shame: for he and his tribe watch you from a position
where ye cannot see them: We made the evil ones friends (only) to those without
It is only those without faith who are friends of
Satan and easily seduced into shameful deeds, the worst being associating
partners with Allah and committing adultery.
Also verse 24:2 makes clear that once the sin/crime
of adultery is established, there is no discretion for the judge, but to award
the punishment prescribed by Allah if he believes in Allah and the Day of
Judgment. A believer and a practicing
Muslim cannot therefore even consider decriminalizing adultery or reducing the punishment
for it. It is only one who does not believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment
who can oppose the divine laws of Allah in the Quran.
The path from shameful deeds to loss of faith in
Allah and in the Day of Judgment, is the shortest and most direct path.
For a believer, the Quran is the most reliable source
of knowledge. Verse 24:3 prohibits an adulterer marrying a non-adulterous
person of any monotheistic faith but permits marrying a Pagan. This is enough
evidence that what Islam considers as adultery, had no criminal, legal or
social consequences in Pagan society and socially acceptable. Verse 60:12 provides further proof, in that
all those who approached the Prophet for being accepted into the fold of Islam,
had to swear an oath that they will not commit adultery. If the Pagan norm and
punishments were the same as in Islam, there would have been no need for this.
Quranic laws on adultery are quite different from
all laws preceding it, or of what survived in practice of those laws. The
Judaic and Christian laws also tend to be property rights and little else. I
quote below from the very same source from which GM sb quoted:
The Quranic concept of adultery is not just different from
the Pagan concept, but also from the Biblical concept, according to below
Pagan Society – no
concept of adultery – only property rights
Schacht writes: "To the pre-Islamic Arabs, zina
was not a sin but regarded in certain
circumstances as an injury to the rights of property of a
fellow-tribesman." Peters, in a similar vein, remarks: "The Qur'an
disapproved of the promiscuity prevailing at that time in Arabia and forbade
e.g. the prostitution of slave-girls by their masters (XXIV, 33).,, Even
Hodgson, describing the moral tone of the pre-Islamic Bedu, writes: "Even
those who might prefer a different way of responding to life were dragged into
the pattern by the voice of public opinion, urging vengeance as the most
practical means of justice, and praising transient delights of drink and
Biblical Concept –
married woman in sexual relationship with other than husband is an adulteress –
man, only if in relationship with a married woman not his wife.
Paterson: "The biblical conception of adultery is often
expressed by saying that, as in Roman law, a woman could violate only her own
marriage, a man only that of another. In other words, an unchaste wife was
guilty of adultery, an unchaste husband was guilty of it only if he sinned
along with the wife of another. If in certain cases the law took cognizance of
a husband's licentiousness, it was because it involved infringement of property
rights, and gave rise to a claim for damages (Ex 2216, Dt 2229)
A married woman in the ancient world was, according to this
understanding, the property of her husband and, in that sense, a theft-able
object - the means being called 'adultery,' but still operating on the general
principle of theft. Cook, writing on marriage, notes: "The prevailing type
in the Semitic world is that wherein the woman follows the husband, who has
paid a 'bride-price' (Arab. mahr, Heb. mohar) to her kin, whereby he has
compensated them for the loss of her services, and has acquired the right of
possessing sons who shall belong to his tribe. By this act the man has
practically acquired the exclusive property-rights, and deprives the woman of
disposing of her own person." Furthermore, this status as property extends
to unmarried women as well, for as Cook further notes: "Under the ordinary
type of marriage, known as the baal or marri age of subjection, the Semitic woman,
if unmarried, is entirely under the authority of her father; if betrothed or
married, of her husband. It is necessary, therefore, to observe that, if
adultery is primarily an infringement of the husband's rights, seduction is no
less a matter for the father of the unbetrothed virgin. "
Understanding this ancient mindset is of great benefit in
making sense of how the ancient codes deal with adultery. From this perspective
it becomes very clear that a great deal of a woman's value in ancient Hebrew
society revolved around her chastity, whether that of the virgin within the
property considerations of her father, or that of the wife within the property
considerations of her husband. It was the seducer / rapist who might impinge on
the former; the adulterer on the latter. A woman's chastity and faithfulness
was a precious possession, and if she was complicitous in its theft from the
rightful owner, she was to pay with her life. Obviously, this conception
resulted in a rather one-sided application of adultery penalties. We have seen
Paterson's observation that "an unchaste bride was guilty of adultery, an
unchaste husband ... only if he sinned along with the bride of another,"
and to this we might add Poucher's comment that "in the Israelitic as well
as Romaic law, the term was confined to illicit intercourse of a married or
betrothed woman with any other man than her husband." Nor did this
one-sided application change in the post-biblical period, as Abrahams notes:
"The law continued to regard as adultery only the intercourse of a married
woman with any man other than her husband. Thus a married man was not regarded
as guilty of adultery unless he had intercourse with a married woman other than
Islamic concept –
both man and woman in sexual relationship without being legally married to each
other are guilty of adultery.
It is noteworthy that the
Qur'an, through its wording in Q.24:2 of "al-zaniya wa al- zani, "is
in direct opposition to this ancient concept. Both the adulterer and the
adulteress, it is made clear, are to be punished equally - a principle taken up
by the fuqaha' and very much in evidence throughout the regulations relating to
zina. Unmarried woman in sexual relationship with an unmarried man is also zina
in Islam but not in any other society.
The article from which GM sb quoted is an academic
research paper submitted by a student for his MA degree. It is not from any
established reputed scholar. The article labours to show the sources from which
Muslim society took to the practice of stoning to death the adulterers. This is
a non-Quranic practice to be found only in pre-Quranic traditions. The most
obvious answer would be that this practice was copied from the Mosaic law which
was what any Orientalist would say, but this student being a young research scholar,
is trying to make his mark and break fresh grounds, by trying to establish non-Judeo-Christian
influence. Did this practice exist among Arabs other than the Jews and the
Christians? We can look to the Quran for an answer.
(2:62) Those who believe (in the Qur´an), and those who follow the
Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in
Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with
their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
The Sabians and the Hanif were among the non-Pagan
Arabs and these people may had the same laws as the Mosaic laws. The Quran
makes no mention of the Hanif who followed the religion of Abraham probably because
all of them had already accepted Islam and did not exist as a separate
community. The Sabians were possibly a community in Yemen which also subsequently
merged into Islam which is why so little is known of them.
Definition of Adultery
As far as definitions go, the meaning of both adultery
and incest varies from community to community, and any definition that is not completely
generic, but specific, holds good only for some people, but not all. The
generic definition of adultery that holds for all people is:
Adultery is extramarital and pre-marital sex that is considered
objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds.
There can therefore be societies that have no
concept of adultery other than incest, and what is incest to one society, may
not be for another. Incest is a sub-class of adultery.
What I said was very clear but beyond
the understanding of [Offensive personal remarks deleted - Editor]. The difference between the meaning of
adultery in Islam and in Pagan societies, is that even if the wife of a man with
the husband’s consent has sex with another man, it is adultery in Islam. In
Pagan society however, it is not. This is because the wife is treated as
property of the husband which he may let out at his will. Only if the wife
(property) is taken without his permission, that it constitutes a violation of
his rights and a crime. In this, it is no different from property rights and
nowhere what adultery means in Islam. Adultery as a concept, therefore does not
even exist in Pagan society. Therefore, to say that the law for adultery in
Islam is 7th century law of the pagan Arabs, is the height of
[Offensive personal remarks deleted - Editor] however continues to argue
on the subject without a basis and without evidence.
He says: “Trying to guess from the
vignettes of Arabian society what their laws and punishments for adultery were
is simply stupid.”
Is it not for [Offensive personal remarks deleted - Editor] to provide evidence
for his claim that the Quranic law on adultery is the same as the 7th
century pagan Arab law? Has he done that?
If the Quranic law on adultery is the
same as 7th century pagan Arab law, then should we not expect to
find the same vignettes from Muslim society as found in 7th century Arab
society ? Why do we not find it if the law has remained unchanged?
GM: Adultery is defined as, "voluntary sexual intercourse
between a married person and someone other than his married spouse". Only a retard would not understand that.
said adultery is rape! Poor GM Sb, he has lost all his marbles and cannot now
even distinguish between rape and adultery!
quoting repeatedly Remarkably, not only stoning and
hand-amputation, but nearly the entire range of Islamic adultery and theft
legislation have pre-Islamic parallels."
pre-Islamic? According to the scholars, Judaism and Christianity are also
pre-Islamic. According to the Quran, all the prophets sent to every nation and
region were Muslim and Islam is as old as Adam.
41:43. Nothing is said to you that was not
said to the apostles before you.
10:37 “This Qur´an is not such as can be
produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of
(revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book -
wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the worlds.” (10:37)
41:53. Soon will We show them our Signs in
the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own being, until it becomes
manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that your Lord does
witness all things?
the signs that Allah will show in the furthest regions of the earth except that
His religion is the same and has reached every people? There is absolutely no
claim that what Muhammad (pbuh) brought was anything new but only a confirmation
of what had been sent to every nation in the past. So, when Allah himself says
that you will find the same Signs of Allah in the furthest regions of the earth
why is it surprising that there are parallels for every belief and practice?
Why am I saying all this to another Muslim who I presume does not need to be
informed about the position the Quran takes and although what I have said above
is straight from my article which he has read? Because GM sb is [Offensive personal remarks deleted - Editor] !
question that we are dealing with is “what were pagan Arab practices and what
did they consider as adultery and the punishment for it?” Does anybody find an
answer to that in what he keeps quoting? I have quoted numerous authors about
pagan Arab social life from which we know that the practices that are
considered adultery in Islam were socially acceptable in the pagan Arab
society. Indeed, in this matter, all pagan societies are alike. So, what is the
parallel between Islam and pagan Arab society as it concerns adultery?
What is common to all ancient criminal codes of every
society is corporal punishment. In that sense the punishment under hudud laws is
comparable with other societies. Is corporal punishment barbaric? That I guess
is GM sbs main contention and not so much the law of adultery and punishment
for it in different societies. Imprisonment involves taking away a person’s freedom,
confinement, chaining, sexual assault by jailers and other prisoners which is
far more barbaric, but we do not get to see it as it is behind walls.
Imprisonment has not proved to be a corrective nor a deterrent. Flogging with
witnesses is both a deterrent and a corrective.