Monday, 11 February 2008

Shari'ah: Why Williams was wrong

One of the reasons why I believe Rowan Williams’s speech on Islam and English law was wrong theologically is that Shari’ah is not something to which, from an Islamic perspective, you can take a piecemeal approach.

As the Archbishop noted, Shari’ah springs from within a religious community. Let me quote, then, from a member of that community, albeit one who is regarded by many as ‘extreme’:

No doubt the Shari’ah is best since it comes from God; the laws of His creatures can hardly be compared to the laws given by the Creator. But this point is not the basis of the Islamic call. The basis of the message is that one should accept the Shari’ah without any question and reject all other laws in any shape or form. This is Islam. There is no other meaning of Islam. (Milestones, Sayed Qutb)

Moreover, according to Qutb, the introduction of Shari’ah is not something in addition to the spread of Islam. On the contrary, the character of Islam is,

... a universal proclamation of the freedom of man from servitude to other men, the establishment of the sovereignty of God and His Lordship throughout the world, the end of man's arrogance and selfishness, and the implementation of the rule of the Divine Shari’ah in human affairs.

Notice: Islam, and with it, the implementation of Shari’ah, is the liberation of ‘man from servitude to other men’.

Thus, if I have understood both the Archbishop and Qutb correctly, Rowan Williams’s proposals concerning Shari’ah, far from recognizing the legitimate concerns of the Muslim community, are a contradiction in terms. To ‘allow’ Shari’ah a place in English law is to deny the meaning of Shari’ah itself. How can the creature ‘allow’ the creator a degree of sway over life? What ‘right’ do human lawmakers of human laws have to make a little room here and there for the Divine Law? Read more

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