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Shari'Ah in the 21st Century

Shari'Ah in the 21st Century

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Published by Abdullah Bin Ahmad

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Published by: Abdullah Bin Ahmad on Mar 26, 2012
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Shari'ah in the 21st Century
Written by Shabina KhanMonday, 20 July 2009 16:12
Mainly viewed as another synonym for ‘brutal oppression' and ‘backwardness', the term‘Shari'ah' is one of the most widely used and abused terms in the current western discourse onthe Muslim world. This notion of Shari'ah currently prevails across the world mainly due to theintense focus it has been given by the western governments and the media. It is even echoedby the media and the ruling elite in the Muslim lands. This is all happening at a time when thenumber of Muslims yearning for the implementation of Shari'ah in their lands is on the increase.This desire to live under Shari'ah reflects the Muslim Ummah's growing understanding of theobligation to have every aspect of their lives governed by the laws of their Creator. It is thereforeimperative to have a clear understanding of the nature of Shari'ah and how it is to beimplemented. 
Shari'ah and its Applicability for all Times
 Linguistically, the word Shari'ah means a never-ending source of water from which peoplequench their thirst. This meaning is of great significance to the term Shari'ah in the context ofIslam where it refers to the body of rules derived from the legislative sources of Islam (i.e. theQur'an and the Sunnah) that covers every action performed by an individual or a society. Henceit deals with the relationship between Man and Allah ﻪﻨاﺤﺒﺳ ﻰﻠاﻌﺘو, Man and Himself, andMan and Man. It therefore covers every aspect of human life be it related to morality,cleanliness, ritual worships, economics or politics. Just as water is vital for life, the Shari'ah isessential for guiding humanity.
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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 ﻪﻨاﺤﺒﺳ ﻰﻠاﻌﺘو, 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 ﻪﻨاﺤﺒﺳ ﻰﻠاﻌﺘوsays, ْﻡِﻩِﺱُﻒﻧَﺃ ْﻥِّﻡ ﻡِﻩْﻱَﻝَﻉ ﺍًﺪﻳِﻩَﺵ ٍﺓَّﻡُﺃ ِّﻝُﻙ ﻱِﻑ ُﺙَﻉْﺏَﻥ َﻡْﻭَﻱَﻭَﺐاَﺕِﻙْﻞا َﻙْﻱَﻝَﻉ ﺍَﻥْﻝَّﺯَﻥَﻭ ءاﻟُﺆـَﻩ ﻯَﻝَﻉ ﺍًﺪﻳِﻩَﺵ َﻙِﺏ ﺍَﻥْﺉِﺝَﻭَﻦﻳِﻡِﻝْﺱُﻡْﻝِﻝ ﻯَﺭْﺵُﺏَﻭ ًﺓَﻡْﺡَﺭَﻭ ﻯًﺩُﻩَﻭ ٍﺀْﻱَﺵ ِّﻝُﻙِّﻝ ﺍًﻦاَﻱْﺏِﺕ
"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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Shari'ah in the 21st Century
Written by Shabina KhanMonday, 20 July 2009 16:12
neither restricted to a set period in time, nor is it influenced by political, social or economicconditions of a certain time. Moreover, the legislative sources from which Shari'ah rules are derived possess certaincharacteristics such as the following that give them relevancy for all time. 1. The Qu'ran and Sunnah combined are viewed as a legal text that allows the Mujtahid toderive rules for issues not mentioned directly in the text based upon a valid methodology. Forexample, Allah ﻪﻨاﺤﺒﺳ ﻰﻠاﻌﺘو says, َّﻥُﻩَﺮوُﺝُﺃ َّﻥُﻪوُﺖآَﻑ ْﻡُﻙَﻝ َﻥْﻉَﺽْﺭَﺃ ْﻥِﺇَﻑ
"Then if they suckle (children) for you, give them their recompense"
(at-Talaaq, 65:6) This ayah states that payment should be made for breastfeeding. However, from the text thefollowing rules or principles can be derived: Payment is extended to any hired employee suchas a government employee or a labourer in a factory. Also, the wage had to be defined in thecontract and employees should receive their wage without any delay upon fulfilling contractualobligations. 2. The text in many cases provides an illah (legal reason) that make it possible for the Mujtahidto extract rules for other cases that share the same illah. An example is the ayah, ِﺓَﻉُﻡُﺝْﻞا ِﻡْﻭَﻱ ﻥِﻡ ِﺔاَﻝَّﺺﻟِﻝ ﻱِﺪوُﻥ ﺍَﺫِﺇ ﺎوُﻥَﻢآ َﻦﻳِﺫَّﻞا ﺍَﻩُّﻱَﺃ ﺍَﻱﻥِﺇ ْﻡُﻙَّﻝ ٌﺭْﻱَﺥ ْﻡُﻙِﻝَﺫ َﻉْﻱَﺏْﻞا ﺎوُﺭَﺫَﻭ ِﻩَّﻞﻠا ِﺭْﻙِﺫ ﻯَﻝِﺇ ﺍْﻭَﻉْﺲاَﻑَﻦوُﻡَﻝْﻉَﺕ ْﻡُﺖﻧُﻙ
"O you who believe, when the call is proclaimed for the prayer on Friday, come to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you if you did but know." 
(Jumu'a, 62:9) This ayah is telling the believers that trade is forbidden when the adhan is called for the ju'mahprayer. The illah here is ‘distraction from prayer'. In accordance with the illah, any activity thatacts as an obstacle to a person praying the ju'mah prayer is forbidden. There exist however,
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