shariahA Conversation between a Media person

 and an Ordinary Pakistani       

By Tarik Jan 

Question. What do you want? 

Answer:  As a Muslim, I want shari‘ah implemented at the societal and economic-political levels.

Question.  Whose shari‘ah will it be that you talk about? 

Answer.  It will be people’s shari‘ah, yours and mines.

Q.  But here some people would like to impose their brand of the shari‘ah. 

A. Which people? 

Q. You know them. 

A. Suppose I do not know them. Would you like to name them? 

Q. Say, for example, the Pakistani Taliban. 

A. What do they say? 

Q. They want to impose pardah on women. They also want to deny them the benefit of education. 

A. There are two views on women covering their faces in the shari‘ah. Open face and covered face. 

Q. Which view you prefer? Covered or open? 

A. Since it relates to women, let them decide. Both views will be legitimate. 

Q. But the Taliban wants them to cover their faces. 

A. In that case, your question is misdirected. Ask them. 

Q. But Hanafiya’s  Islam is different than the Shafi‘ya’s  and so is the Shi‘ah and Sunni Islam. 

A. All right, tell me what you know about the Hanafiyah’s Islam and where it differs from the Shafi‘yah.

Q. I am asking you. 

A. No, you are not asking me. You are talking about the differences between them, so it will be proper to know from your mouth. I will either affirm you or negate you. In that case, I will give you my reasons. 

Q. I invited you to clarify some nagging questions; instead, you are turning it on me. 

A. Then, you should have a seeker’s role and not that of a prosecutor. Now, you raise a question and I will answer it. 

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Q. There are so many variants of Islam. Which of them will we have? 

A. The one mentioned in the Constitution to be implemented on the principle of by the people and for the people with the assistance of the Islamic Ideology Council and the Shari‘ah Court. 

Q. Please explain it for me. 

A. Suppose, there is a party named “A” which talks about implementing Islam. If people vote it to power, it will implement its Islamic agenda. We are not talking about imposing Islam at gunpoint. We are for constitutional means. Change through persuasion, reason, and state institutions as the Constitution lays down.. 

Q. But the Taliban talk of force. They also do not accept the Constitution. 

A. Now, you are mixing two different things. If you will not let Islam prevail by ignoring the Constitution, then many others may take the gun in their hands.  Nevertheless, I am glad you are talking about the Constitution because it has already decided that our nation will be Islamic. You implement its Islamic provisions and there will be no need for anyone to take the gun in their hands. 

Q.  But what kind of shari’ah you mean? In religion, there is no compulsion. 

A.  I note the sting in your question. Nevertheless, I presume you are not opposed to the shar’iah. One may read the thesis behind your question as if there was no shar’ah in the Muslims’ lives; as if they had been living in a vacuum without any values or laws to abide by. Other than the past 100 years or so of enforced colonial rule, Muslims had always lived under the shari’ah in history. They had their own values to abide by, their own laws to follow, and their own vision of looking at themselves and the world around. For your benefit,  I summarize the shari’ah  as follows:

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At the value level, tauh?d (oneness of Allah), fear of Allah, the Prophet(‘alayhi as-salam) as the role model, justice, truth and standing for the oppressed, mutual consultation, honesty, hard work, modesty and chastity, love, compassion, charity, forgiveness, lawful means of income, regard for parents and elders, kindness toward children, taking care of the sick and the deprived.

At the societal level, the enforcement of the Qur’?nic laws of crime hadud and ta’zirat.  This aspect is of crucial significance because the nature of law not only defines the state but also determines its juridical system. The Qur’?nic laws reinforce Islamic values and thus become a safeguard for the Islamic personality. The colonials did two things right in its inception – it patterned education system for its own needs and second substituted Islamic laws by Anglo-Saxon laws.  Both were important to create a colonial mindset. It is the continuation of this colonial mentality that rises controversy on the Islamizing process and opposes the shari’ah.

The judical system has to be accessible to the people, transparent, and quick in dispensing justice.

Question.  What will happen to foreign relations?

Answer. On the international level, Islam calls for fairness and justice. It calls upon Muslims to keep their word in treaties with other nations.

In foreign policy, it stresses oneness of Muslim peoples, an Ummah unto themselves. The shari‘ah calls upon the state to give preference to them, forge with them political and trade relations, and have an integrated economy and education system as soon as possible.

Islam views the world in terms of d?r al-Islam (the Muslim lands to be given preference); d?r al-kufr (non-Islamic lands to be treated with circumspection and discretion. Muslims can trade with them and have friendly relations); d?r al-harb (those who oppose Muslims; we should be very cautious and on our guard); d?r al-sulh (friendly lands though kafir, we should cultivate relations with them). Foreign policy has to base itself on these primary concepts. 

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Q. But what about the prohibition of force in Islam?

A. You mean “la iqra’ fi d-din”. This ?yah relates to al-Baqarah: 256 and many people often quote it out of context.  Let me clarify:  the ?yah applies to forced conversion and not Muslims. It says:

There shall be no compulsion in religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in T?ghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

Obviously, it speaks of non-Muslims and not Muslims. For the Muslims, they will have to follow the teachings of Islam because they have willingly accepted Islam with all its injunctions, prohi-bitions and rules.

For all laws even in secular societies, it is important that people follow them and violators punished. Thus, the force element is there. Even in a smaller offense like traffic violations there is a law punishing people. Why do you make Islam an exception and start lashing it saying it is a forced religion? To add to it, we dare seek protection under the cover of “ la iqra fi d-din.”  Our problem is that we put Western constructs on Islam viewing it as religion – a private faith. Contrary to it, Islam is a code of life to be practiced.