Shari'ah in the 21st Century
Written by Shabina KhanMonday, 20 July 2009 16:12
Unlike man-made systems devised by human beings who are limited in their abilities and arevery much influenced by their own needs and the prevailing situations of their time, the IslamicShari'ah is from the Creator of mankind who is without any such limitations. For this reason, thesystem of life given by Him addresses human beings in accordance with their natural makeuptaking into account their instincts and organic needs. Whatever the time and place, the nature ofa human being remains the same in this respect. His innate needs, such as the need for food,clothing, shelter or the instinctual need for survival, justice and security remain constantthroughout time. Also, regardless of whether a human being is living in the 7th century, 14thcentury or the 21st century, the relationships he/she formulates will fall under the threecategories previously mentioned (i.e. Man and Creator ﻪﻨاﺤﺒﺳ ﻰﻠاﻌﺘو, Man and Himself andMan and Man). Since the Shari'ah covers these three aspects of life, it treats the affairs ofhuman beings in their entirety without leaving anything to conjecture. Allah ﻪﻨاﺤﺒﺳ ﻰﻠاﻌﺘوsays, ْﻡِﻩِﺱُﻒﻧَﺃ ْﻥِّﻡ ﻡِﻩْﻱَﻝَﻉ ﺍًﺪﻳِﻩَﺵ ٍﺓَّﻡُﺃ ِّﻝُﻙ ﻱِﻑ ُﺙَﻉْﺏَﻥ َﻡْﻭَﻱَﻭَﺐاَﺕِﻙْﻞا َﻙْﻱَﻝَﻉ ﺍَﻥْﻝَّﺯَﻥَﻭ ءاﻟُﺆـَﻩ ﻯَﻝَﻉ ﺍًﺪﻳِﻩَﺵ َﻙِﺏ ﺍَﻥْﺉِﺝَﻭَﻦﻳِﻡِﻝْﺱُﻡْﻝِﻝ ﻯَﺭْﺵُﺏَﻭ ًﺓَﻡْﺡَﺭَﻭ ﻯًﺩُﻩَﻭ ٍﺀْﻱَﺵ ِّﻝُﻙِّﻝ ﺍًﻦاَﻱْﺏِﺕ
"And (remember) the Day when We shall raise up from every nation a witness against them from amongst themselves. And We shall bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these. And We have sent down to you the Book as an exposition of everything, a guidance, a mercy, and glad tidings for those who have submitted themselves."
(An-Nahl,16:89) This is very different to philosophies of life that emanate from minds of human beings. Anexample is that of John Stuart Mill, the famous nineteenth century champion of freedom, whocalled for ‘experiments of living'. He wrote,
‘As it is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so is it that there should be different experiments of living; that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others; and that the worth of different modes of life should be proved practically, when any one thinks fit to try them.' On Liberty (1859).
The idea here, being that people need to experiment with different modes of living in order tofind out how to improve human lives. In Islam, there is no such need for a trial and errorapproach since the mode of living is prescribed by the Creator of Mankind who is All Knowing,All Hearing. His Shari'ah is applicable for all time since, unlike His creation, His knowledge is
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