From Issue: 476 [Read full issue]
Cleverly manipulated exposure to the imagery of a whip cracking on a naked back and a veil enshrouding a woman’s face has led many to believe that the Shariah , the divine code of Muslim conduct, is in reality no more than a collection of values and practices that are primitive, uncivilized and barbaric. What to a Muslim is the object of his longing and endeavour has been very subtly projected as a relic from the dark ages which enslaves the woman and inflicts punishments on the criminal which are cruel, inhuman and degrading.
The Quran most certainly does prescribe corporal punishment for certain serious social crimes and it does lay down the principle of retribution, or qisas; it is very emphatic, too, about the crucial role of the family in human society and therefore insists on assigning different well-defined roles to men and women; and it does lay down many other regulations and laws and expects Muslims to obey the eternally valid injunctions of God and His Prophet.
But will these and similar provisions of the Shariah really plunge society back into darkness? Are they inhuman and barbaric? Are they an indicator of Islam’s inability to keep pace with the demands of human progress? The issues need to be examined seriously to determine the place and valued of the Shariah and its provisions in the ultimate order of human civilization and happiness. The need for this examination is especially acute in the view of the dogmatic position adopted by the West on these questions. A host of Western writers have said it, and the media continue to harp on the same theme: unless Islam is prepared to relent on these and other legal provisions of the Shariah there can and will be no accommodation; only a continuation of Western rejection of Islam’. Such vehemence makes one wonder whether the loud chorus about the Shariah, and such of its specific provisions as pertain to women and punishment, is in all cases the result of genuine misunderstanding and moral indignation, or whether the issue is merely being used by some as a whipping-boy to settle scores with Islam – old and new.
No apologies or excuses are needed to explain away or make acceptable to the West what has been so clearly laid down by the Quran and the Prophet in this regard and what has been so consistently accepted and adhered to by Muslims. There should be no place in dialogue with the West for such tortuous, self-deprecating arguments as: ‘polygamy is permitted, but the conditions of justice attached to it makes it effectively prohibited’. Or: ‘Corporal punishment is prescribed but hedged in with such unworkable requirements of evidence that it is virtually impossible to carry it out. Or, at least, it cannot be carried out unless an "ideal" just society is established, when it will in any case become unnecessary’.
Why those who advance this specious logic should think that God would lay down things which were impossible to practice is not made clear. As if He does not know how to say what He means, and say it clearly! Such excuses are unfair to the Quran and the Prophet, and an affront to their wisdom, and at the same time illogical and implausible to the unconvinced.
“Shariah: The Way of Justice” - Khurram Murad