13-08-06, 02:41 PM
Most people - Muslims and non-Muslims alike - are uncomfortable with the absurdities which can eventuate one chooses to practise his/her faith literally. My use of the word 'literally' is in itself an indicator of how 'uncomfortably' certain scriptural verses sit with the conscience of many. Few Christians would advocate the execution of someone who is 'guilty' of having worked on a Sunday. Similarly, some Muslims would think twice about the merits of stoning someone who has committed adultery or dismembering someone who is guilty of petty theft.
The issues raised above are nothing new. Although debated to great length in religions aside from Islam - they rarely ever get discussed within the Muslim realm. Some days back Nadia Jamal, an Sydney Morning Herald opinion writer, commented on the almost tangible silence elicited by the Islamic community once 'controversial' matters enter the public sphere. In defence, it is worth noting that her words were directed specifically at the notable lack of 'outcry' from Sydney's Islamic community with respect to atrocities committed by terrorists in the name of Islam. Some would argue that such acts need not be graced with a reply, as Islam is inherently a 'peaceful' faith which does not advocate such actions. However, in the face of 'absolute silence' it is only natural that some draw adverse conclusions. That is, if you do not condemn then you are in fact in agreement.
Anyway, I deviate. My concerns reside primarily with how a person - in all good conscience - could tolerate the Shari'a punishment for 'crimes' such as adultery, theft and apostasy. As stated in an earlier post, most modern countries do not even recognise the foremost and last-mentioned items - adultery and apostasy - as being 'crimes'. Indeed, apostasy is not even considered to be something 'bad' in light of the article granting 'freedom of religion' under the United Nations Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ( Art 18 ). I apologise for parroting this provision like some broken record. However, its value in the context of 'human freedoms' ought never to be underestimated. Islam's treatment of apostates is in direct contravention of this provision. Let it be noted that Australia, in being a signatory to this provision, upholds the primary Convention through her domestic laws. Hurrah for all those Muslims who seek to change their faith without the fear of a painful death.
14-08-06, 12:13 AM
Before a person bursts their eyes out at the teachings of his or her religion, one must consider the perception behind such regulations and the process in which they are to be conducted - in order to achieve the sense of distinguishing between right and wrong, i.e. conscience.
Having Christianity not being my religion, I do not enter into considering such teachings pointed out earlier. Therefore, I cannot and will not be judgmental in terms of whether such regulations are appropriate or not. However, as a Muslim, although I have minimum Islamic Knowledge, my understanding of such Devine Rulings is clear. Allow me to proceed.
When I choose, with my own free will, to enter a specific religion, the first regulation I am obliged to comprehend is the belief system. Without comprehending as such, I may not be able to comprehend specific teachings and obligations of the religion I am willing to enter.
Being a Muslim, however, the first issue I do, and am required to study is the word 'Islam' in its self. The word 'Islam' means peace and submission. Peace means to be at peace with yourself and your surroundings and submission means submission to the will of God. A broader meaning of the word 'Islam' is to achieve peace by submitting to the will of God.
Concentrating on the word submission, when I declare the Islamic testimony of faith, I declare that there is no God except One God and that Muhammad is His final messenger. Such submission being undertook brings a special feeling and sense of tranquility and acceptance that kindles in each person's heart as they enter the fold of Islam. To me, it personally means that: God possess Perfection, a divine quality no one on the face of this Earth has, or will ever attain; God is the Creator of all that Exists; He Created the Heavens and the Earths and what is in between; He Knows what is before us and what shall come after us; cannot such a Great all Mighty acknowledge what is best for His creation, that are powerless without His Will? - therefore, submission to and acceptance of His Divine teachings is achieved.
As a Muslim, these Divine teachings are all the five Holy Scriptures of time. Believing in the Messengers of all those Holy Scriptures as Prophets sent by God to guide their people, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Quran he was sent with, remains the only existing Divine Scripture for all humanity to adhere to.
Speaking of freedom and human rights in Islam, allow me to touch on a greatly misunderstood topic by outlaying minimum information from what Islam preaches:
The Protection Of Honor:
The Holy Quran lays down:
"You who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set."
"Do not defame one another."
"Do not insult by using nicknames."
"Do not backbite or speak ill of one another."
Sanctity And Security Of Private Life:
The Quran has laid down the injunction:
"Do not spy on one another." (49:12)
"Do not enter any houses unless you are sure of their occupant's consent." (24:27)
The Security Of Personal Freedom:
Islam has laid down the principle that no citizen can be imprisoned unless his guilt has been proven in an open court. To arrest a man only on the basis of suspicion and to throw him into a prison without proper court proceedings and without providing him a reasonable opportunity to produce his defense is not permissible in Islam.
The Right To Protest Against Tyranny:
Among the rights that Islam has conferred on human beings is the right to protest against government's tyranny. Referring to it the Quran says:
"God does not love evil talk in public unless it is by someone who has been injured thereby." (4:148)
In Islam, as has been argued earlier, all power and authority belong to God, and with man there is only delegated power which becomes a trust; everyone who becomes a recipient of such a power has to stand in awful reverence before his people toward whom and for whose sake he will be called upon to use these powers. This was acknowledged by Hazrat Abu Bakr who said in his very first address: "Cooperate with me when I am right but correct me when I commit error; obey me so long as I follow the commandments of Allah and His Prophet; but turn away from me when I deviate."
Freedom Of Expression:
Islam gives the right of freedom of thought and expression to all citizens of the Islamic state on the condition that it should be used for the propagation of virtue and truth and not for spreading evil and wickedness. The Islamic concept of freedom of expression is much superior to the concept prevalent in the West. Under no circumstances would Islam allow evil and wickedness to be propagated. It also does not give anybody the right to use abusive or offensive language in the name of criticism. It was the practice of the Muslims to enquire from the Holy Prophet whether on a certain matter a divine injunction had been revealed to him. If he said that he had received no divine injunction, the Muslims freely expressed their opinion on the matter.
Freedom Of Association:
Islam has also given people the right to freedom of association and formation of parties or organizations. This right is also subject to certain general rules.
Freedom Of Conscience And Conviction:
Islam has laid down the injunction:
"There should be no coercion in the matter of faith." (2:256)
On the contrary, totalitarian societies totally deprive the individuals of their freedom. Indeed, this undue exaltation of the state authority curiously enough postulates a sort of servitude, of slavishness on the part of man. At one time slavery meant total control of man over man - now that type of slavery has been legally abolished but in its place totalitarian societies impose a similar sort of control over individuals.
Protection Of Religious Sentiments:
Along with the freedom of conviction and freedom of conscience, Islam has given the right to the individual that his religious sentiments will be given due respect and nothing will be said or done which may encroach upon his right.
Protection From Arbitrary Imprisonment:
Islam also recognizes the right of the individual not to be arrested or imprisoned for the offenses of others. The Holy Quran has laid down this principle clearly:
"No bearer of burdens shall be made to bear the burden of another." (35:18)
The Right To Basic Necessities of Life:
Islam has recognized the right of the needy people for help and assistance to be provided to them:
"And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute." (51:19)
Equality Before Law:
Islam gives its citizens the right to absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law.
Rulers Not Above The Law:
A woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with theft. The case was brought to the Prophet, and it was recommended that she might be spared the punishment of theft. The Prophet replied: "The nations that lived before you were destroyed by God because they punished the common man for their offenses and let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes; I swear by Him Who holds my life in His hand that even if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, had committed this crime, I would have amputated her hand."
Punishment and Legal Penalties:
Legal penalties are specified in the Qur’anic Text for: (a) Murder, (b) Theft, (c) Adultery, (d) Cluminous accusation of adultery, and (e) Offence against public security. No apology is needed for death being the Islamic penalty for premeditated murder, its very severity makes the punishment a deterrent, especially if one considers how simple and expeditious judicial machinery is in Islam and how rapid the procedure and beneficial its effects for social tranquillity and the protection of human lives.
Theft, except for the doubtful cases, for example stealing prompted by starvation, its punishment is amputation of the hand. Stealing is too frequently perpetrated by force and often entails murder of the victim. One wonders whether, in such case is it is better to have more pity on the hand of the thief than on the life of the victim.
Punishment for Adultery:
The penalty for adultery for a married person is stoning to death, (to be witnessed by a crowd of people) but there are very strict injunctions regarding the proof. The offence must be testified to by four witnesses of unimpeachable veracity. And, if a person levels a charge of adultery against someone and is unable to bring four such witnesses, he is liable to be punished with, eighty strokes of the whip. By enjoining such punishment, Islam has prevented dislocation of the family, and confusion with regard to paternity. More important it establishes the basis for a peaceful life in human society. Peace at this price is not at all costly compared to modern measures introduced and expenses incurred for a peaceful life but it is no where to be found because the murderers, the thieves, the fornicators and others get away too easily. They are a constant source of fear and disturbance because of the potential threat to life and property. The Shariah provision nips the evil in the bud with a firm hand and puts down its foot strongly to stop mischief and to ensure peace to the society. Islamic punishments are, therefore, the most suited to bring about peace and peaceful conditions. Islam deals with the culprit rather heavily in the interest of his would-be victims.
The general public and many academics have several preconceived notions about Islamic Law. One such notion is that Islamic judges are bound by ancient and outdated rules of fixed punishments for all crimes. This paper explores that idea and looks at other myths in an attempt to present Islamic Law from a non-biased view of Shariah Law.
Some contemporary scholars fail to recognize Islamic Law as an equal to English Common Law, European Civil Law and Socialist Law. A few academics have even attempted to place Islamic Law into the Civil Law tradition. Other writers have simply added a footnote to their works on comparative justice on the religious law categories of Islamic Law, Hindu Law, which is still used in some parts of India, and the Law of Moses from the Old Testament which still guides the current thought of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) today. This survey will attempt to alter some of these inaccurate perceptions and treatments in both the contemporary literature and academic writings.
Islamic Law and Jurisprudence is not always understood by the western press. Although it is the responsibility of the mass media to bring to the world's attention violations of human rights and acts of terror, many believe that media stereotyping of all Muslims is a major problem. The recent bombing at the World Trade Center in New York City is a prime example. The media often used the term "Islamic Fundamentalists" when referring to the accused in the case. It also referred to the Egyptian connections in that case as "Islamic Fundamentalists." The media has used the label of "Islamic Fundamentalist" to imply all kinds of possible negative connotations: terrorists, kidnappers and hostage takers. Since the media does not use the term "Fundamentalist Christian" each time a Christian does something wrong, the use of such labels is wrong for any group, Christians, Muslims, or Orthodox Jews.
A Muslim who is trying to live his religion is indeed a true believer in God. This person tries to live all of the tenets of his religion in a fundamental way. Thus, a true Muslim is a fundamentalist in the practice of that religion, but a true Muslim is not radical, because the Qur'an teaches tolerance and moderation in all things. When the popular media generalizes from the fundamentalist believer to the "radical fundamentalist" label they do a disservice to all Muslims and others.
...and the list of Human Rights that Islam has given just goes on:
The hundreds of people entering Islam yearly have surly stumbled on such issues that you have raised. If they never used their conscience and coincided it with the teachings of Islam, they wouldn't have accepted Islam - rather, Islam wouldn't have been the fastest growing religion, neither the religion that's on the border of dominating Christianity.
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