The Shariah law: Relationship between Religion and Politics [Part 1]
December 11, 2010 3 Comments
The Shariah law is an extremely hot debate among Muslim countries and now this debate is taking place in countries where Muslim population is on the rise. It is understood generally that if the majority of a country constitute with Muslims, then the Muslims have the right – rather, an obligation ‑ to enact Shariah law. It is argued that if they believe in the Holy Qur’an and if they believe also that the Holy Qur’an is a comprehensive Book which relates to every area of human activity and directs man as to how he should conduct himself in every sphere of life, then it is hypocrisy to remain contented with those claims. They should follow the logical conclusion and enact Shariah law and make it the only law valid for the country.
Now, this is what’s being said on the one side. And on the other side, many difficulties are pointed out ‑ such as proposed legislative problems ‑ very serious constitutional problems as well as very serious problems in almost all sphere of the enactment of Shariah. So, lets first see, why Shariah law cannot be exercised or imposed on people, who practically, as far their normal way of life is concerned, are not the ideal Muslims, much to the contrary. In those areas where they are free to practice Islam, they fall so much short that one wonders when they willingly cannot exercise Islam, how could they be expected to do it by coercion and by force of law. This and many others are the areas where debate is being carried on and pursued hotly, let us try to understand all the sides of this issue.
Shariah is the law and there is no doubt about it; the law of Islam; the law for Muslims. But the question is how far can this law be transformed into legislation for running a political government. On top of that many other issues get involved in it. For instance, if a Muslim country has the right to dictate its law to all of its population, then by the same reasoning and logic, every other country with the majority of population belonging to other religions would have exactly do the same right to enact their laws.
The entire world would become a world of not only political conflict but also of a politico‑religious conflict, whereby all the laws would be attributed to God, yet they would contradict each other diametrically. There would be such a confusion that people would begin to lose faith in God Who speaks one thing to one people and another thing to another people, and Who tells them to enforce this law on the people or ‘they will be untrue to Me‘.
As such, you can well imagine what would happen in India for instance, if the law of the Hindu Majority is imposed on the Muslim minority. As a matter of fact, a large section of the Indian society is gradually being pushed towards this extremist demand ‑ by the way of reaction, I suppose to what is happening in some Islamic countries. What would happen to the Muslims and other minorities in India? Moreover this is not a question of India alone. What if Israel enacts the law of Judaism ‑the law of Talmud ‑ it will be impossible for any other non‑Jew to live there, normally and decently.
In the same manner Christianity has its own rights and so has Buddhism.
PARTICIPATION IN LEGISLATION
The next consideration is the very concept of the state: This is the most fundamental issue which has to be resolved and addressed by those who are concerned with politics or international law. The question is that anyone born in a state has the right to participate in its legislation.
In the secular concept of the running of governments and legislation, everyone born in a given country, whatever be his religion or color or creed acquires the basic fundamental civic rights. And the most important among these rights is the chance at least, to participate in the shaping of the legislation.
Of course, parties come and go; majority parties today may turn into minority parties tomorrow. Everybody’s wish is not fulfilled or carried out. But in principle, everybody has a fair and equal chance to make his say heard at least by the opposition, on matters of common principle. But what would happen if one Shariah or one religion is imposed as the law of that country? If Muslim law were imposed in a country, all the rest of the people who are inhabitants of the same land, would have to be considered as second, third or fourth rate citizens of the same country with No say whatsoever in the legislation. But that is not all the problem is further complicated within Islam itself: Because Islam has a Book revealed by God and the Muslim scholars claim that it is their right to interpret the Book.
LEGISLATIVE BODY SUBORDINATE TO RELIGIOUS SCHOLARS
On issues of differences of opinion, the legislative body stands subordinate to the scholastic opinion of such scholars who specialize in understanding the Holy Qur’an; or who CLAIM to specialize in understanding the Holy Qur’an. What would be their mutual relationship. A body is elected to legislate. They legislate and you might come across some scholars of Islam disregarding the legislation dubbing it un-Islamic.
Whose voice should be heard? On the one hand, it would apparently be God speaking behind those people; but only apparently. On the other hand, there will be a voice of the majority of people of the country. So the dilemma becomes almost impossible to be resolved.