THE WISDOM FUND: Issues & Answers

Sharia or Islamic Law

Constitution of Medina (624 CE)

Enver Masud, The War on Islam

The definition of justice, according to Dr. Robert D. Crane, founder of the Center for Civilizational Renewal, is respect for human rights, which were formulated six centuries ago by Islamic scholars.

These rights, says Dr. Crane, are: "the right to life and personal integrity (haqq al haya), to family and community existence and cohesion at all levels of human society (haqq al nasi), to equal opportunities in accessing ownership of the means of economic production (haqq al mal), to political freedom for self-determination both within and among nations (haqq al hurriyah), to human dignity (haqq al karama, including freedom of religion and gender equity), and to education, knowledge, and freedom of expression (haqq al ilm)."

Regarding separation of Church and State, according to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of Islam, a Sacred Law, Islamic jurists recognized this concept centuries before the Europeans, and divided the body of Shariah rules into two categories: religious observances and worldly matters. The first they observed to be beyond the scope of modification. The second, subject to interpretation, cover the following:

1. Criminal Law: This includes crimes such as murder, larceny, fornication, drinking alcohol, libel.

2. Family Law: This . . . covers marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody, inheritance.

3. Transactions: This covers property rights, contracts, rules of sale, hire, gift, loans and debts, deposits, partnerships, and damages.

"One of the most sensible definitions of the purposes of the Shariah," according to Imam Feisal, was given by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah who said:

"The foundation of the Shariah is wisdom and the safeguarding of people's interests in this world and the next. In its entirety it is justice, mercy and wisdom. Every rule which transcends justice to tyranny, mercy to its opposite, the good to the evil, and wisdom to triviality does not belong to the Shariah . . ."

According to Imam Feisal the sources of Shariah are, in order:

1. The Quran - God's Word revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

2. The Sunnah - practice and teachings of the Prophet.

3. Ijma - consensus of those in authority.

4. Qiyas - reason, logic, and opinion based upon analogy.

Imam Feisal describes seven other methods for deriving Islamic laws. These seven, plus ijma and qiyas, are collectively known as ijtihad or interpretation, and/or opinion based upon reason and logic.

Several schools of Shariah have evolved: Shafii, Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki - the orthodox schools, and Jafari - the Shiite school. The Zaydis and Ibadis also have their own schools.

"Classical international law, reputedly invented by the Spaniards Vittorio and Suarez, borrowed the concept of inalienable human rights from Islamic law," according to Dr. Crane.

If it's wisely implemented, shariah may better nurture and protect society than does Western law which is subject to the whims of lawmakers.

Robert D. Crane, The Challenge of Kosovo
The definition of justice is respect for human rights, which were formulated best six centuries ago as the culmination of a long process by Islamic scholars in the maqasid or universal principles of the shari'ah. These are the right to life and personal integrity (haqq al haya), to family and community existence and cohesion at all levels of human society (haqq al nasi), to equal opportunities in accessing ownership of the means of economic production (haqq al mal), to political freedom for self-determination both within and among nations (haqq al hurriyah), to human dignity (haqq al karama, including freedom of religion and gender equity), and to education, knowledge, and freedom of expression (haqq al ilm).

These rights or functional equivalents and corresponding responsibilities are based on the recognition that true sovereignty in human affairs inheres in the individual person and expands from there to communities and nations and then to the community of humankind. Neither sovereignty nor human rights and responsibilities are artificial human creations any more than is man himself. The dignity of each person as the building bloc of sovereignty at all levels of human community, both political and economic, is created by God. -- p. 18-19

The concept of the sovereign state, deriving its authority not from a higher source of truth and morality but from man as sovereign in the universe, was invented only three or four centuries ago in the era of "enlightenment" and revolt against clerical rule by the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. Rule by man, rather than by God, took many shapes, ranging from John Locke's contract with the people to the tyranny of the manipulated masses invented during the French Revolution and repeated by the Communists and Nazis a century and a half later.

The classical international law, reputedly invented by the Spaniards Vittorio and Suarez, borrowed the concept of inalienable human rights from Islamic law, but the European colonial powers soon developed a new international law whereby whoever controlled more than 50% of a territory was ipso facto sovereign and could legally deny human rights at will. This modern version of international law was enthusiastically endorsed by the puppets who succeeded the overt colonialists. -- p. 15

1. See Robert D. Crane, Shaping the Future. Challenge and Response, Center for Civilizational Renewal, P.O. Box 10199, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504, 159 pages, hardback, 1997; and "The Search for Justice and the Quest for Virtue: The Two Basics of Islamic Law," in The Sun is Rising in the West, authors and editors Muzaffar Haleem and Betty Bowman, Amana Publications, Beltsville, MD, 1999.

Amulya Ganguli, "Sir Vidia Sees the Light!," Hindustan Times
Aurangzeb, that most bigoted of all Mughal emperors, had once written to his underlings: ". . . information has reached our noble and most holy court that certain persons interfere and harass the Hindu residents of the town of Benaras and its neighbourhood and the Brahman keepers of the temples... Therefore, our royal command is that, after the arrival of this lustrous order, you should direct that, in future, no person shall in unlawful way interfere and disturb the Brahmans and other Hindu residents at these places, so that they may, as before, remain in their occupation and continue with peace of mind to offer prayers for the continuance of our god-gifted empire, so that it may last forever."
Khaled M. Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists

Afua Hirsch, Fears Over Non-Muslim's Use of Islamic Law to Resolve Disputes, Guardian



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