In the last few decades implementing Shariah law has become a point of focus and discussion in many parts of the world. Acknowledging the role of Shariah was addressed by both terror groups such as the Taliban and by civilized countries such as the United Kingdom, where the Archbishop of Canterbury backed the introduction of Shariah laws. In the United States there is an ongoing war between groups and organizations that support Shariah-compliant finance and those who are against it.
One of the arguments used by those who support Shariah-compliant finance is that Muslims have the right to adopt an Islamic financial system in the West as part of their religious rights. Many in the West were inclined to accept this as a matter of respect to Islam. This raises an important issue: Is Shariah law truly a part of Islam or is it a man-made political system that aims to control others?
In the first case Shariah law could receive legal privileges granted to religions but in the second case it should not be given any of those privileges since it would not be considered part of the religion itself.
Examining Shariah law carefully reveals many important facts that cast doubts as to whether it is part of Islam.
First, the expressions of “Islamic Shariah” and “Islamic law” were never used in the Quran or in the Sunna of the Prophet Mohammed. They were invented after his death. Since most of the details and structure of Shariah law were made after the revelation of Islam was completed, it is hard to consider Shariah as part of the religion itself. In other words, if Shariah law with its details was part of the Islamic religion it should have been noted before the end of the revelation. The Quran states clearly that Islam has been completed as a religion (Quran Al-Ma'idah [5:3]) far before the invention of the “Shariah law”.
Second, Shariah law typically has five sources: the Quran, the Sunna (words and deeds of prophet Mohammed), Fiqh (jurisprudence), acts of Prophet Mohammed’s disciples, and interpretations (Tafseer) of the Quran. ALL sources of Shariah other than the Quran are a matter of controversy between the two major sects in Islam (Shias and Sunnis).
These sects — who agree only on the Quran as a source — have completely different sources for Shariah law. These sources contradict one another to a level that makes it impossible to define Shariah law as part of Islam, as the Quran made it clear that having contradictions in the statements or regulations of the religion is evidence that the words are not revealed by Allah, not being part of the religion (Quran 4:82 Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy).
Third, Shariah law promotes concepts that contradict the Quran itself. For example, Shariah law promotes killing apostates and stoning women until death for committing adultery while the Quran — which is the most authentic, agreed upon book in Islam — promoted freedom of religion (Quran 4:25) and never mentioned stoning as a punishment for adultery. In fact the Quran made the punishment for concubines who commit adultery half of the punishment of the married women (Quran 4:25). Obviously, it is impossible to “half-stone” someone until death. This shows that some Shariah laws are even against and contradict the Quran itself.
The same principle applies to Islamic finance as the Quran only mentioned a few general principles aimed at having justice and agreement in monetary relations between people. Some Islamic scholars are trying to convince the West that “Islamic finance” is fundamental to Islam. The Quran never suggested a completely detailed law for finance. Most of the rules and regulations of Islamic finance were all made after the evolvement of Islam as a religion during the lifetime of the prophet.
The question that must be raised in this context is that if the expression “Shariah law” is not mentioned in the Quran, was created after the end of the revelation of Islam, and contradicts clear statements in the Quran, how does it have the legal privileges given to religions? Banning Shariah must not be seen as banning Islam.
According to Islamic teaching itself, the former must be considered a man-made law that was structured after Islam. It may have some basis in the religion but it should not be considered as a part of the religion itself. Decision makers should not be reluctant to take active steps against Shariah law since it should not be considered a part of Islam. In fact many of its rules can be seen as “un-Islamic” or contradictory to the Quran itself.
For more Dr. Tawfik Hamid commentary, please go to www.tawfikhamid.com.
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