Misconceptions about "Sharia Law"

Sharî‘a شريعةLaw” is now a familiar term to Muslims and non-Muslims. One hears this word often in news about politics, crime, feminism, terrorism and other stories. Many associate Sharî‘a with the amputation of limbs for stealing, death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality, death penalty for blasphemy and apostasy and lashes and other medieval punishments for minor offenses. Because of this, it is considered to be draconian and inhuman. Some people, particularly in the West view Sharî‘a as archaic and unfair social justice imposed on those who live in Sharî‘a – controlled countries.

For some Muslims Sharî‘a is seen as something that nurtures humanity. They see the Sharî‘a laws, not in the light of something primitive, but something divinely revealed. According to them, in a society where social problems are endemic, Sharî‘a frees humanity to realize its individual potential. They believe that these laws come from a combination of sources including Qur’ân, the Hadîth (sayings and conduct of the prophet Muhammad) and fatwas (the rulings of Islamic scholars). They are unaware that none of the Sharî‘a punishment mentioned above is divinely revealed, as none of them is endorsed by Qur’ân. The Qur’ȃn decrees no earthly punishment for blasphemy, — or for apostasy (abandonment or renunciation of the faith), nor for that matter, does the Qur’ȃn command stoning, female circumcision, treating women something inferior, a ban on fine arts and “taqiyya” — telling lies before non-believers. All these innovations were brought later into Islam.

There were always politically motivated movements within Islamic countries that innovated non-Qur’ânic approach to introduce laws in the name of Islam. Death punishments for blasphemy and apostasy appeared when increasingly despotic Muslim empires needed to find a religious justification to eliminate political opponents. They established rigid laws that were contrary not only to the basic Qur’ânic teachings but at the same time were inhuman and immoral.

In modern times followers of Wahȃbi movement, created by Ibn Abdul Wahȃb (d. 1787 CE), make up the implementers seeking “Islamic State”. The Saudi Government who has adopted the Wahȃbi ideology insists on representing the only “True Islam”. The Saudis reject the principles of ethics and spirituality laid down in Qur’ân and base their view on “Islam” on implementing the inhuman part of human nature. They see that the only approach for handling crime is to punish the perpetrator with drastic physical punishment. “Ibn Abdul Wahȃb was excessively more extreme in his conception than anyone in the past” [Abu Zahrȃ of Al-Azhar University]. His Wahȃbi Saudi followers and implementers seeking Islamic State “went to even further extremes surpassing all limits of jurisprudence, declaring acceptable matters forbidden and forbidden matters acceptable. The Wahȃbi Saudi Movement, never content to promulgate its beliefs by tongue or pen, wielded a sword to fight whoever differs with them.” [Abu Zahrȃ, History of Islamic Schools of Thought, Cairo, 1977, p 208]. ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban, al-Qaida and similar are the offshoots of this Wahȃbi Saudi ideology. Pakistan, under Saudi pressure introduced and promulgated the Sharî‘a laws as part of its determined efforts of ‘Islamisation’ during 1977-88. More and more Islamic states introduced laws in the name of Sharî‘a.

Wahȃbism, the Saudi kingdom’s official ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim school, regards Shi’ism as heretical, lauds the wrong concept of jihȃd and urges hatred of infidels. Its clerics run the Saudi justice system and have funds to spread their “only true Islam” abroad. They teach jihȃd as the best blessed activity in the defense of Islam against infidels and heretics that promise to win rewards in heaven. Saudi clerics openly defame Shi’ites as “rejectionists” and “infidels” – a term in common currency among Sunni militants in the sectarian bloodbaths afflicting many Middle East nations. They refuse to accept that Shi’ites are Muslim, though they both read the same Qur’ȃn and try to follow it to the best of their understanding. Salafi branch of Islam is not far from Wahȃbism in its interpretation of Islam.

Wahȃbism specifies the Qur’ân and Sunnah (Traditions and sayings of the Holy Prophet) to be the two equally valid sources of Islam. This is fundamentally wrong. Qur’ân has superiority and preference over the six books of ahȃdîth, called ‘the correct six’ by the ‘Ulemȃ (religious scholars). When you argue in favour or against blasphemy, a law anchored in Sharî‘a, you have to refer primarily to the Qur’ân and support it from the Traditions (- ahȃdîth) and not the other way. The fundamentalists, in practice look the other way around. They dig into the books of Traditions to support their view, and care little if Qur’ân endorses their view or not. They justify their view from the verses like, “We sent not and Apostle but to be obeyed in accordance with the Will of Allȃh” (4:64), Obey Allȃh and obey the Apostle. (5: 95). Whereby the Prophet (pbuh) will never say or act against what he is told in Qur’ân.

مَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُؤْتِيَهُ اللَّهُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ ثُمَّ يَقُولَ لِلنَّاسِ كُونُوا عِبَادًا لِّي مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلَـٰكِن كُونُوا رَبَّانِيِّينَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تُعَلِّمُونَ الْكِتَابَ وَبِمَا كُنتُمْ تَدْرُسُونَ

“It is not given to a human being that Allâh should give him the Book, the sovereignty and the Prophethood and then he should say to the people, `Be servants to me beside Allâh.’ He would rather say, `Be you the sole devotees of (Allâh) the Lord, for you teach the Book and because you study (it).” (3:79)

Therefore, there should be no divergence and disagreement between the Qur’ân and the Sunnah – the practice of Qur’ȃnic teachings by the Prophet (pbuh). Sunnah has no independent authority. Sharî’a Law has to look at Qur’ȃn to support it.

The Prophet’s (pbuh) Sunnah as defined by the Qur’ân, is located strictly within the parameters of the Qur’ân. Most Muslim do not differentiate between the two types of “Sunnah” – the Sunnah al-Ibȃdiyya سنٌة العبادية and Sunnah al-‘Âdiyya سنة العادية. The above cited Qur’ânic verses (4:64; 5:95) demand from us to follow only those religious injunctions that come under Sunnah al-Ibȃdiyya, which are related to morality, ethics and Muslim rituals of Prayer, fasting, Pilgrimage and social welfare endorsed by the Holy Qur’ȃn. Obedience to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is strictly within the Qur’ânic text and its teachings and not from his habit of eating dates and growing long beard. These are the – Sunnah ‘Âdiyya. Adopting the habits of the Holy Prophet is not even a part of taqwa (piety and righteousness). Taqwa is described and explained in scattered verses of the Holy Qur’ȃn in detail (see 2:177; 3:15-17; 3:133-135; 5: 27; 9: 3; 16:128; 45:19; 65:2).

The imitation of the habits of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) (Sunnat al-‘Âdîyatسنٌة العادية ) is not mandatory (wâjib واجب); if it were, it would be the heaviest or impossible burden for the Muslim community. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) was a man of feelings: he smiled and he showed his displeasure. He worked to sustain his family, he walked and travelled on the back of camels, he fought with a sword. Sometimes his head-hair was short and other times long that it touched the ground when he was in a state of prostration (sajdah). We are not obliged to follow such of his habits. We are only expected to follow the commands of the Holy Qur’ȃn that he explained us to follow with his own actions (Sunnah al-‘Ibâdîyat سُنٌة العبادية). God has taught us a beautiful Prayer in the Holy Qur’ȃn:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ ۗ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْرًا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ ۖ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا ۚ أَنتَ مَوْلَانَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

“Allâh charges no soul but to its capacity. It (- the soul) shall be paid for that which it has done (of good) and against it who has incurred (evil deliberately). (Pray,) `Our Lord! take us not to task if we forget or (if) we make a mistake. Our Lord! lay not upon us the burden (of disobedience) as You laid upon those before us. Our Lord! charge us not with the responsibility which we have not the strength to bear; therefore overlook our faults and grant us protection and have mercy on us. You are our Master, therefore help us against the disbelieving people.’

The words in Qur’ȃn: رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِننَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَاۚ “Our Lord! Take us not to task if we forget or [if] we make a mistake” (2:286) imply that no severe punishments apply to the involuntary transgressions (khatâ خطاء) or forgetfulness (nisyân نسيان). Allâh imposes on every soul only that much religious burden which it has the capacity to bear (cf. 2:233; 6:152: 7:42: 23:62) and He desires to bring ease to His servant if even this appears difficult (65:7-8). If no reference is made in the Holy Qur’ân then no one has the right to ‘fill in the blanks’, and give the injunction the status of Divine law (sharî‘a). Moreover, the Divine laws are imposed only on persons who are physically and mentally in the position of accepting such obligations. The Holy Qur’ân reminds us of this limitation repeatedly (2:233; 6:152: 7:42: 23:62). Every person carries the burden according to his or her capabilities and capacities, and these vary according to intellect and power of their reflection. “Our Lord! Lay not upon us the burden [of disobedience]”رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ  remind us of our limitations.

With the Qur’ȃnic words, “as You laid upon those before us”كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا  (2:286) the Lawgiver intends to lessen the burden of religious prescriptions by reiterating warnings about what the Jews did with their laws. Because of this, we are not obligated to follow any religious laws promulgated before ours, despite the fact they were authentic sacred laws of that community, and we do not accuse such laws to be false.

Blind conformity (taqlîd تقليد) to the opinion of the “men of knowledge”, or scholars of religion and Muftis, dead or living, amounts to shirk and is not permissible in matters of Divine laws. Their opinion is permissible only if they have a clear and strong support in the words of the Holy Qur’ân.


The Sharî‘a Path

The Arabic word Sharî‘a شريعة is derived from shara’a شرع meaning an open and straight path; a well-trodden path to water. It commonly refers to religious law. Allȃh says: لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا  “For all of you did We prescribe a spiritual law and a well-defined way [- a code in secular matters] (5:48). According to Imȃmghib, while referring to Ibn ‘Abbȃs says that Shir‘a شِرْعَةً (cf. 5:48) is that Divine law that is mentioned in the Holy Qur’ân, which is its only source and Minhȃj مِنْهَاجً is that law that can be inferred from Traditions (Ahȃdîth) according to the needs of time. Minhȃj cannot contradict or stand in contrast to what Qur’ȃn prescribes.

Allȃh says in Noble Qur’ȃn: ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاكَ عَلَىٰ شَرِيعَةٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ فَاتَّبِعْهَا وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ Then “We (gave you a system of law and) set you on a clear highway regarding this affair. Follow it and do not follow the caprices of those who have no knowledge”. (45:18) The law whose source is Qur’ân cannot ever change because: شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ ۖ – “He has ordained for you [شَرَعَ] the same course of religious law [الدِّينِ] as He enjoined on Noah (to adopt), and which We have revealed to you, and it is that (same faith) which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses and Jesus,” (42:13).

If you go through the pages of the Holy Book you will find Divine Commands scattered over the entire Book. The Holy Qur’ân distinguishes commands and obligations towards Allȃh, called “Haqûq Allȃh (حقوق ) and the obligations towards society, the so-called “Haqûq al-Ibȃd” (حقوق العباد). Praying (صلاة; 2:38; 58:13), to fast (صوم; 2:183; 45:106(, pilgrimage (2:196; (حج, ritual washing before Prayer (5:6), funeral prayer (9:94) and others come under the category of “Haqûq Allȃh. Mostly, these obligations are for the Muslims. But there are some obligations for all people, irrespective of their faith and belief as you read: يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ  O people! Worship your Lord” (2:21). سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الْأَعْلَى الَّذِي خَلَقَ فَسَوَّىٰ وَالَّذِي قَدَّرَ فَهَدَىٰExtol the holiness of the name of your Lord, the Most High”. There are some other commands like:فَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ حِينَ تُمْسُونَ وَحِينَ تُصْبِحُونَ Glorify Allâh when you enter the evening and when you enter the morning” (30:17); وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَIn Allâh should the believers put their trust” (14:11); يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا “O Believers! Remember Allâh with much remembrance!” (33:41). Then you read: “Take to yourselves the place of Abraham (- the Ka`bah) for a centre (and face towards it) during Prayer” (2:125), “O you who believe! Seek (God’s) help with perfect patience” (2:153), “They should respond to My call, and believe in Me” (2:186), “Remember Allȃh” (2:203). These are some examples of our obligations towards our Creator and Sustainer. Verses dealing with blasphemy (see 22:51; 23:66-71) and apostasy (see 3:86) also come under the category of “Haqûq Allȃh. Ignoring or disregarding any of these obligations and commands are not punishable by human hands, and no physical punishment is mentioned anywhere in the Holy Qur’ân. Their punishment is left at the discretion of the Almighty. An example is given in the narration of Adam: وَعَصَىٰ آدَمُ رَبَّهُ فَغَوَىٰ ثُمَّ اجْتَبَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ وَهَدَىٰAdam did not observe the commandments of his Lord so he became miserable. Then his Lord chose him and turned to him with mercy and guided him to the right path.” (20:121-122)

On the other hand, there are some rights and obligations towards the society mentioned in the Holy Qur’ȃn – “Haqûq al-‘Ibȃd” (حقوق العباد). Reader of the Holy Qur’ȃn finds injunction related to marriage (4:21-25), divorce (2:227-241; 33:49), social welfare (2:195), testimonies (2:282; 4:15), forbidden foods (2:173; 5:1-4; 6:121), inheritance (2:180), interests (2:275), covenants and agreements (5:1; 17:34), trade (17:35; 4:29), charity and alms (58:13), and there are codes of ethics (3:118; 17:37; 31:18-19; 31:14-15; 25:67). Qur’ân mentions them but does not interfere in their implementation. It leaves at the discretion of the society to make its own laws. Qur’ȃn gives guidelines that punishment should be proportionate to the offense (وَالَّذِينَ كَسَبُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ جَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ بِمِثْلِهَا ;10:27). We read in Qur’ȃn: “O people of pure and clear wisdom! Your very life lies in (the law of) equitable retaliation, (you have been so commanded) so that you may enjoy security” (2:179). The emphasis is on “equitable retaliation” for security. Qur’ânic teachings establish the pattern its believers should follow to worship the rightful Deity.

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ

“There is no compulsion of any sort in religion (as) the right way does stand obviously distinguished from the way of error.” (2:256)

This verse is a Divine Command that should be understood and followed. AlDîn الدِّينِ is religious law or faith (cf. 3:19). Ikrâh إِكْرَاهَ is derived from kariha كره meaning to be unwilling, feel aversion, be disagreeable or against ones will. Ikrâh إِكْرَاهَ is to compel a person to a thing against his will; Ikrahun is compulsion. “There is no compulsion of any sort in religion”لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ  is a clear statement. The enforcement of “Religion” refers to the enforcement of its laws. It also includes forced conversion to Islam. Such enforcement is against the very spirit of this verse.

The Sharî‘a laws are supposed to be derived from the Qur’ân. The few verses that are misused to establish the legitimacy of any Sharî‘a law are in no way “clear”. They confuse the minds of reader who is surprised why and how that particular verse justifies the draconic law. Most of the draconic Sharî‘a laws are based on Fatwas – the rulings of Islamic scholars and misinterpretation and misrepresentation of Traditions (Ahȃdîth). Some of these laws are based on consensus (ijmâ’إجماع ). Consensus or unanimous agreement of the community is not the right approach for calling the law as Divine Law or Sharî‘a Law. Ijmâ’ was the consensus among the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), not a consensus among the “Learned” (‘ulemâعلِماء ) of the later generations (Ibn Hazm). Even unanimous agreement of the community, determined by the votes of its legal specialists or ‘muftis’, does not have the authority of Sharî‘a. The ijmâ’ of later periods can offer only an opinion on a special situation, a situation that was absent at the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Moreover, ijmâ’ was not seen among the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), except on a limited number of subjects and occasions. Decisions based on qiyâs (conjecture) and personal opinion of a scholar, no matter how respected he is, should not be called Divine Laws (sharî‘a).

Islamic jurists issue rulings. This formal legal ruling is called a fatwa. These labels (fatwâh) are given often by the ulema and the ‘muftis’ on a particular issue—what is forbidden (harâm), allowed (halâl), obligatory (faradh), or discouraged (makrûh). Qur’ȃn says:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ

And do not say because of the lies which your tongues utter, `This is lawful and that is unlawful,’ lest you should forge a lie against Allâh. (16:116)

The fatȃwa cannot be part of Sharî‘a if they are not mentioned or endorsed in the Holy Qur’ân. If they are mentioned in the Book of God, then there is no need of giving a fatwȃ on that particulr subject, and there is no need to “fill in the blanks”. If some issues are not mentioned then there is nothing wrong with these fatwas as long as there is a social need. They should not get the label of “Islamic Laws”.

There are four Sunni doctrines: Hanbalî, Malikî, Shȃfi’î and Hanafi, and one Shî’a Ja’afarî doctrine. The five doctrines differ in how they interpret the texts of Traditions from which they derive their law. Problem with the “Sharî‘a Law” is that the so-called scholars do not distinguish between the two types of duties. “Haqûq Allȃh (حقوقﷲ), when not followed, are not punishable, and breach of the social laws – Haqûq al-Ibȃd” (حقوق العباد), which can be punishable according to state legislation. The features of Haqûq al-Ibȃd” (حقوق العباد) are at times general, requiring interpretations, commentary, reflection, analogy and careful thought, thereby not ignoring the basic requirement of “Mercy” (24:2). At time, these concepts are precise, requiring no further interpretation (cf. 3:7). In Qur’ânic teaching the emphasis is laid on ethics and morality and not on punishment at the hands of its followers. Its teachings favour the underprivileged and the weak – the poor, the orphans and the women (e.g 24:3) and demands humility and respect towards others.

There are four situations where the peace and security in a society is jeopardized. They are: (a) when war is waged and disorder is created (5:33-34); (b) murder (25:68; 17:31; 17:33); (c) adultery (17:32; 25:68) and (d) insecurity of people’s property – robbery and theft (5:38; 17:34). For each of them Qur’ȃn gives the limit of punishment. The Holy Qur’ân set strict conditions on punishment for capital crime of theft and adultery. The conditions for their maximum implementation are not easy to be met (cf. 24:2-5).

Mercy (Rahmah رَحْمَةً) is the highest and the most repeated Attribute of God in Qur’ân. When we read وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ – “And We did not send you (O Muhammad!) but as a blessing and mercy, for all nations” (21:107) the advent of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a part of God’s plan of Mercy for His creation. The honourable ‘ulema (the learned on Islamic Law and Jurisprudence) must have knowledge of the Qur’ânic position on crime and punishment. Here are some verses for them to reflect:

ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly and kind exhortation, and argue with them in the most pleasant and best manner. Surely, your Lord knows very well who has gone astray from His path, and He knows very well the guided ones to the right path. (16:125)

وَإِنْ عَاقَبْتُمْ فَعَاقِبُوا بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبْتُم بِهِ ۖ وَلَئِن صَبَرْتُمْ لَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لِّلصَّابِرِينَ

“If you have to punish (the oppressors) then punish them to the extent you have been persecuted. But if you endure patiently, remember it is far better for the patiently persevering.” (16:126)

وَجَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا ۖ فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ

“And the recompense of an evil done is a punishment equal to it (for an evil merits an equal evil). But he who pardons (an offender) and (thereby) improves the matter (and effects thereby a reform in the offender) shall have his reward from Allâh. Behold! He does not love the wrong doers.” (42:40)


وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ

“…avert evil with good.” (28:54)

The emphasis in all cases, including murder (17:33), is on forgiveness and reform. Does blasphemy law of Sharî‘a touch even the outer fringes of the letter and the spirit of the Qur’ânic position on the subject? The answer is in the negative.

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

 Say, `Verily, My Lord has forbidden all (acts of) indecency, open and hidden, and every (kind of) sin and aggression, which is never justifiable; and (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’ (7:33)

The socalled Sharî‘a Laws on blasphemy, apostasy,theft,adultery are a naked and blatant transgression against the Qur’ân. They trespasses all limits of reason and mercy. They trespasses the limits set by Allȃh and is contrary to the Prophet’s conduct. We have no authority to consider Allȃh in any way deficient or inadequate in dealing with blasphemy, apostasy, adultery and theft, or to take it upon ourselves to try to outdo Him. This approach is uncalled for, indeed, blasphemous. In many so-called Islamic states yet there is no law to take cognizance of such trespasses.

There is no excuse for the killing in the name of Allȃh. Islam and Qur’ân cannot and must not be invoked as excuse for the killing. There is also no excuse of killing and stoning based on culture. Such laws are defined by the various interests of groups in positions of power in a society at any given time. Murder is a brutal violation of the most basic human right – the right to life. Even here the Qur’ân leaves an option of mercy and forgiveness for the murderer and blood money to be paid to the family of victim (17:33). How can a much lesser offence than a murder punished mercilessly. As long as impunity exists, the misappropriation of culture and religion will continue to threaten safety in a society, particularly of the women. No religion has the right to kill and harm based on their perceptions of morality or honour. The freedom of belief does not mean freedom to kill. Stoning to death, circumcision of girls, death for blasphemy and apostasy are brutal example of how religion is being misused to perpetuate violence.

The object of “Sharî‘a” was to make the individuals conscious of those ethical and moral values laid down in the Noble Qur’ân. Unfortunately these injunctions of justice, righteousness and mercy were replaced by forceful implementation of rigid horrible state laws we call today “Sharî‘a Laws”.

Laws such as, Non-Muslim who leads a Muslim away from Islam is punishable by death; a Non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman is punishable by death; a man can marry an infant girl;   man can unilaterally divorce his wife but a woman needs her husband’s consent to divorce; a man can beat his wife for insubordination; a woman who is raped, cannot testify in court against her rapist(s). Even sorcery and witchcraft are punishable with death. None of the cited example is endorsed in Qur’ân. They are the inventions of unthoughtful fearful minds. Noble Qur’ȃn says:

انظُرْ كَيْفَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ ۖ وَكَفَىٰ بِهِ إِثْمًا مُّبِينًا

“Behold! How they forge lies against Allâh, and sufficient is that [what they forge] as a very flagrant sin (to prove their sinfulness).” (4:50)

The slogans under the banner of Sharî‘a laws were always used as a very effective tool for pressuring the governments, settling old personal and political scores, or advancing political and financial interests. The governments of so-called Islamic Republics have not so far shown either the will or the wisdom to face this problem with determination. They are afraid of the clergy that can easily incite people to violence in the name of religion. These governments have the arguments from Qur’ân on their side to challenge the clergy in open podium discussions, but they have preferred to run with the hounds. Unfortunately this game shall continue. The ignorant clergy will trample down the Divine teachings embodied in the Qur’ân, which constitute Prophet Muhammad’s mission and mandate, unless stopped.

وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا

“The Messenger will say, ‘My Lord! My people treated even this Qur’ân (full of blessings) as (a thing) abandoned”. (25:30)