Caricaturised for derision and attacked for its supposed barbarity and anachronism the image painted of the Sharia system of law is ghoulish. Yet in practice it is not only end up in precise and unanswerable justice but does so very quickly and economically. It is at least as sophisticated as the Western law in its scope and depth and precision of its rational analyses yet it takes a fraction of time and effort to identify a case’s nature and liabilities of the parties to it and give a verdict both sides find difficult to object. What is more, it is unthinkable even for a small town judge to “find his hands” tied against a verdict which his conscience believed in but the letter of the law overruled. For Islamic law, unlike the western or modern secular law, has its equity mechanism inbuilt at all levels of legal proceedings and it is rarely necessary to appeal against a small judge’s decision except when he is seen as plainly prejudiced or bribed to do an injustice.
All in all, we are of the opinion that the modern laws encourage as well as curb crime and may punish the innocent as easily it may punish the guilty. That must be one other factors in making the West a paradise of criminals, albeit most such criminals commit their crimes behind closed doors wearing velvet gloves and deploying velvety tongues and superbly smooth manners in public.
A REPHRASED ASUMMARY
Modern Muslims need be aware of all modern issues having a bearing on their religious lives. In fact, Islam being a comprehensive way of life, almost all contemporary issues and controversies call for an Islamic viewpoint. This course’s lessons made an attempt in that direction. We must now recapitulate and perhaps also add a few new sights and insights to all them.
Issues so far discussed covered educational, social, economic, political, health, psychological and moral and pious considerations. We shall go over them in a general way once more and will not resist the temptation if more subjects presses themselves on us as we go along. What we want ultimately is seeing what we Muslims can do about any dangers presented by the modern way of thinking and life.
One thing to never forget when we form opinions on any issues is that a lot of mis- and dis-information are going on on the part of all parties to disputes raging in the West. Not that such one-sided and often also deceitful arguments are modern phenomena. All histories about past civilizations mention and often also deplore the deceitful nature of both political and ideological arguments. In Islamic history mis- and dis-information began to be spread against the Prophet sws himself and what Ali RA suffered in the hands of his rival in politics, namely Muawiya RA is no less gross than any political manipulation of today.
Hanging on and displaying the bloodied shirt of martyred Uthman RA as well as the severed fingers of Uthman’s wife Naila who was defending him from swords Muawiya kept propagandists on the site to incite the public against Ali RA on top of sending poets all over the place to sing elegies to Uthman RA and curses against Ali RA. Today’s rival political Islamist groups are not less unkind to each other when it comes to propaganda. All of which means sensible Muslims should be aware of the misleading claims on the part of all parties to modern disputes and be very careful before passing a judgment and taking sides. It is especially reckless to join in any street demonstrations any group, Muslim or not, especially when violence and vandalism seems likely. We must always look to our any level-headed experts and maturest figures like our sufi sheikhs (who can read situations correctly thanks to their Divine gnosis) before we join in with any debate with zeal.
What we have so far found out is that modern life offers us both welcome opportunities and unwelcome risks and dangers. We believe that the first can be had without the second. A way can and must be found to negotiate our lines of advance in the mined waters of modernism. We may lighten, for example the burdens on our women without throwing them to the volves of modernism and educate our children to work at jobs or follow professions which will put Muslims into influential positions in any society, without compromising their Islamic priorities. Lastly and most importantly, we may persuade others to see Islam as we see it and join us in making this world a better place for more.
THE PROBLEMS POSED BY SECULARISM
Firstly we must realise that Islam itself recognises that not every act we do must have a religious significance or come under religious scrutiny. Which means there are secular areas under Islam’s rule. Both Allah and His messenger sws tell us that after we keep their commandments and avoid their prohibitions we are free with the rest of our lives. Even the Shariah Law itself admits that very many laws and rules may be made outside its scope and as a result our rulers from our Master Umar’s (RA) times began making new laws, mostly by adopting existing laws in force among Islam’s neighbouring cultures like the Roman and the Persian. In fact Umar RA departed from the Sunna of the Prophet sws in many military matters. The Prophet sws never kept any armies to fight his wars with but called to arms from all parts of his domains as well as from mushrik allies he had cultivated as and when he found that he had to do some fighting. Which means under the Prophet sws fighters on the side of Islam were volunteers whatever their motives and once the hostilities were over and spoils shared out all survivors of the fighting returned to their civilian lives.
Under Umar, because the area under Muslim control was so vast and hostilities on the frontiers so possible, Muslims had to invent a new military preparedness strategy- imperial type standing armies living in garrisons, often with their families around. This was also the practice of the Romans and the Persians. In other words, the Prophet’s actual Sunna was dropped and the non-Muslims’ methods adopted. If this is secularism then Umar had started a secularisation.
But things are not as simple as that. To start with we should understand that words can never contain realities in their fullness and concepts like secularism do not correspond to any tangible or immutable reality. Words are just words, not the reality itself.
So what Umar RA was doing was responding to ‘realities on the ground’ (as diplomats would call it) and ensuring that Islam’s military interests were taken care of with those realities in mind no matter what the Prophet sws did in his own time as regards military matters. If Umar was becoming secular by abandoning the forms of the Prophet sws he was also fully following the Prophet sws BY ADAPTING HIMSELF TO CHANGING REALITIES.
So, what matters is not judging our acts by the standards of artificial and imperfect concepts like secularism or fomal Sunnism but is seeing that best service to Islam is preserving its saving spirit whether or not the preserving acts conform to the Prophet’s sws acts on the same issues. The Prophet sws himself was no less flexible and realistic in his practices. An example of the Prophet’s realistic flexibility can be his letting off Khalid b’ Walid lightly when the latter had killed a member of a raided mushrik clan, which member had explicitly protested his Islam. Not only that but Khalid had married the man’s widow that same night which he could not under the Shariah- the women should be left to mourn and also too see whether she was pregnant from her late husband and if so deliver the baby first. But the Prophet sws was as supreme a realist as a holiest idealist and could not allow Islam to lose a general of the ability of Khalid RA. And Khalid not only did not disappoint Muslims but eventually became one of the saintliest of them. All of which means it is misguided to accuse Muslim rulers of departing from the Sunna or the Shariah when they respond to some new and unprecedented challenges in realistic ways instead of idealistic.
The secularism of the West and even of the governments of Muslim countries should not make us too angry or desperate. So long we are allowed to live our religious lives unmolested we should think and act realistically so as to preserve our personal religious freedoms and try to persuade the rest about Islam’s benefits peacefully. Western governments are especially tolerant in such matters and we should respond by tolerating them equally. We must remember that even under Islam ‘Ahl al Kitab’ are left to follow their values and traditions without blame. How must it be then when it is we who live under them? Therefore all rude and sometimes violent agitations about Islamising the
West from within are totally misguided and bound to backfire.
In conclusion, realistic modifications in the conduct of government on the part of Muslim rulers can be criticised in an academic sense but cannot be taken as proof that thay have abandoned Islam so long as they deny such charges. Our master Uthman RA was martyred under such charges of fujr (impiety) and zulm (oppression) and from a formalistic angle the charges were not too wrong but in spirit they could not be more wrong. Like
ECONOMIC WRONGS OF THE MODERN WESTERN (MUSLIMS IMITATING THEM) SOCIETY
Western economy combines one good and one evil element in its behaviour.
The good element is high productivity which creates plenty of very high quality goods and services at lowest cost. And this low costs are achieved despite the very high wages paid to people employed in the production. Economies outside the Western are trying to emulate these efficient production methods and becoming able to compete thanks to their lower labour costs. Beginning with textiles, the non-Western nations are winning the Western markets in many products which now include cars and computers. But equally the West is holding some of the economic grip in its ex-colonies by part-owning a lot of the industries there as well as the licensing rights (e.g. brand names like Coca Cola or Ford) and also at least maintaining the gap by diversifying into new technologies like the satellites and new wonder medicines. Overall, intelligently hard working and realistically disposed nations like Japan, Korea and Maleysia are or becoming themselves matches for Western economic power while the less realistic and more corrupt third world nations are as lost as before. What is fact is that if they really tried hard enough all Muslim countries could do what
The bad element in the Western economy is its irresponsible behaviour when it comes to consumption. It wastes too much and corrupts too much. A lot of its products and services are not really needed or useful for a better life and these futile products and services are proliferating by the day. What is worse, they are often positively harmful as well.
To produce so many things in so high quantities and then consume them so that productions levels are maintained if not increased (and they often do increase) many people need be employed. So, after exhausting all working age men, women also must be drawn in. To get them they must be alienated from their natural instincts and traditional social roles deriving from those instincts. As a result marriage and family and ultimately child bearing and child rearing roles come under hostile criticism and scrutiny. About this degeneration a bit later.
All working, producing and consuming both the investor-entrepreneurs and tax-collecting and wasting governments are happy. Because the drive to keep the wheels of industry turning at faster and faster levels is so obsessive wasting of the products are encouraged. As a result, Western rubbish heaps are the most plentiful, most nutritious as well as environmentally harmful of all rubbish elsewhere. Rats and bacteria have their filed days but many land and sea animals are drowned in the poisons slowly released by such huge and varied kinds and amounts of rotting or clogging matter. Dangerous genetic changes are occurring at increasing rates on top of poisoned, hardly edible food animals like the fish in which mercury and carcinogenic levels are mounting. This slow poisoning of their unlitimate eaters the people are suffering from both diagnosable and undiagnosable maladies for which expensive treatments or palliatives must be found.
Last but not the least defect of Western economies is the deep-rooted and pervasive habit of gambling among all classes. This is so big an industry, such a gigantic money-spinner that was all gambling under whatever guise to be banned economy could half collapse. What gambling (which includes national lotteries) is doing is that hard-earned monies are being smoothly siphoned off from their hard- earners and helping to maintain the gap of wealthiness between the real contributors to economy the productive people and the parasites which the owners of gambling enterprises are. Another parasitical activity is usury which is interest and transaction charges exacted by unconscionable handlers of big cash. Incidentally many ulema both ancient and modern do not see tiny interest rates mainstream banks charge, which charge can be seen to cover service expenses the banks deserve and the risks they are exposed to, leaving them with a reasonable profit.
Another crime of the Western economies is their reluctance to help out nations who are almost or plainly starving in the so-called
This cannot be a healthy economy by any standards. And Islam is not for it at all. In Islam only enough should be produced including an amount to act as a buffer against any accidental shortages, the products should be consumed in the most effective was so as to leave behind minimal residues which for their part will be capable of recycling.
Lastly because a citizen is the highest product any society can manufactrure women are with few and laudable exceptions (like extraordinary abilities or at extraordinary times) left to manufacture the best possible quality of citizens by working as mothers and also teachers for the very young when sex differences are negligible. Nursing, especially of women and children is another venue for women to work at gainful employments. In a crisis however women can do anything and are required to do so as much as possible.
As a modern incentive for modern women to prefer home life to employment outside a social benefit like a “mother’s allowance” can be devised to be paid to women who look after their family and their husbands’ earnings are below a certain level.
An economy which must steadily grow up and throw away its products is no option in Islam. Respect for human nature and responsibility towards the natural environment are the twin pillars of Islamic economy and the only viable alternative to the Western.
SOCIAL MALAISE EATING INTO THE WESTERN FALSE PROSPERITY
The main cause of the social malaise in the West is the degeneration of the sex roles and sexual activities. Just because man is conscious and intelligent enough to find fault with natural order does not mean that the faults he sees are real and not delusional. True, it is dissatisfaction with things around us that drove our ancestors to develop technologies like dressing their bare bodies with animal skins and building huts to shelter from the elements or preserving meat in salt with a view to eat it when game will be scarce later on. But there is no guarantee that what we do with our environment and with ourselves are the best things to do. We do make many mistakes and often if not always learn from them. For example, only until very recently many cultures believed that human sacrifices to their (imaginary) gods helped them to make nature work more in their favour, like sending enough rain when needed. Otherwise brilliant civilizations like Babylonian or the Incan practiced such useless barbarities for centuries. Even those most sophisticated Romans sometimes resorted to massive human sacrifice to propitiate their gods and make them turn events in their favour. Can we say that we moderns are more rightly guided in hoping that our tamperings with sexual roles and genetics of mankind will bring us good? Are we sure that future generations (if we allow them to come into being at all) will not find many of our present theories, ideologies and practices misguided and deplorable?
Dazzled with our rapid discoveries in genetics are we right to exploit them in redesigning anything and everything from tomatoes to babies? Are we sure we know about all potential dangers in the long run of interfering with genetics of ours and other species? The false sense of knowing-all has always been around for certain too confident scientists and philosophers and it is common knowledge that some great mid-nineteenth century scholars opined that at long last all the main secrets of nature were laid bare then and little remained to be found out. We can show them Theory of Relativity, Godel’s Incompleteness Theory and the new mind-boggling capacities of computers to make them laugh at themselves.
But we did not even wait for the genetic discoveries to tamper with human being’s natures. All mammals have within their respective species well-defined sex roles. For example while lions display a patriarchal polygamous family structure in which a powerful male, after eliminating opposition, inherits and builds up a harem of females who for their part suckle and babysit each other’s cubs. Lions will do this everywhere without being taught by anybody. That is their instinct. On the other hand, their very closely related felines the tigers have totally different sexual habits. Their cubs are produced from a single meeting between the prospective parents who stay together for a few days and then part ways for about two years. It is not assured that the two will meet again; a new male may turn up to claim the conjugal rights of the previous year’s father. Unlike the lioness, a tigress is able to hold his ground single-handedly against any challenge and raise her cubs successfully as a lone parent.
Now, throughout history mankind displayed social instincts more like the lions than the tigers and that must be genetically determined. Of all females the human female is arguably the less able and more vulnerable as a pregnant and then lactating mother and a steady male partner is vitally important for her to have around. Yet, to tear away the human female from her best possible role (in which no male can excel her) and recruit her into all sorts of jobs men generally can do better left us at one stroke bereft of high quality citizens by which we mean men and women well developed in both technical and social senses; Technical sense like each doing a proper job suitable to his or her most superior capabilities (e.g., a woman’s mothering skills), and social sense like each citizen contributing to the peace and harmony of the society thanks to his or her well developed moral sense and refinement of manners. Moral sense need a great amount of spiritual advancement and conditioning which only a great religion is capable of providing while good refined manners need a lot of time and practice to form and such amount of time simply is not available at the break-neck speeds of modern life which uses time more for material productions and their wasteful consumption and also the dealing with bad health such a life style causes. Reports are that consumption of harmful substances headed by alcohol is on a steady rise, one in ten of all sexually active women are suffering from chlamydia infection, about the same ratio from trush, tens of thousands in UK from AIDS and that syphilis has rockewted five fold in a decade etc. etc. And these are only the tip of any iceberg of sexual ills caused by irresponsible revolutions imposed on the public by their intellectual leaders to which catastrophes medicine is hard-pressed to find remedies at astronomic cost both in money and human suffering.
Children are growing up under-socialised and over-egoistic and hedonistic in temperament. Crime rates are soaring (because crime is simply an expression of moral depravity based on lack of sense of social responsibility which is another name for wanton hedonistic selfishness) and any checks on the numbers are more achieved by helplessly decriminalising or ignoring many forms of crimes and addressing the rest by increasingly more expensive policing indeed.
The drop in human moral and spiritual quality bodes ill for our future and all the errors we are making now and their bad results we are ameliorating by throwing money at them must and will one day come to haunt and hunt down us. The apparently inexorable drive towards less socialisation and more individualism will crash on the rocks of natural realities and series of punishments will visit us- unless we stop, think, repent and change ways.
Islam’s view is that tried and tested merits of the natural order (like the supremacy of the females in looking after their own young and the traditional family as the best primer for social education) must be recognised and kept if we want to make the best of our genetically determined qualities. It is infinitely far better to remain in good health by obeying the laws of our natures than contravening them and then trying to treat the innumerable ills proceeding from such contravention.
Yes, in monetary terms the Western society is very prosperous. But in spiritual terms it is becoming increasingly poor which poverty is is trying to hide behind the cosmetic effects of increasing sophistication and proliferation in luxuries and insincere laughters under which loneliness and desperation are barely concealed.
THE CULTURE OF SKILFUL DECEITS
It has always been the case that people believe in the necessity for and preach to others honesty and justice and in fact morality as a whole while privately each seeks to rationalise and justify his or her selfish deceitful behaviours. In fact they are often even unaware that they are doing the opposite of what they are preaching to others. All major religions recognised and deplored this point and did a lot to better people’s moral standards and in the course produce a small minority of credible saints.
But today religions are no more for the majority of people in the West which means the indispensable emotional basis of morality is no longer in place. The need for morality can now be only argued from a rational basis if it is argued at all and apparently, as traditions die out, less and less people are sincerely convinced that they have to act morally even when nobody is around to see them. Too much material greed and sensual lust is being pumped into people from too many directions (media, art, advertisement, obscene words and acts in public etc.) and even schools are now in it. In a recent report a school caused a controversy by staging a theatrical play in which mid-teen pupils perform all sorts of obscene representations in front of both all other pupils and adults including both teachers and parents- and nobody could do anything about it. In one school a teacher reports that boys and girls in the classroom were joking about incest and praising its convenience for all concerned. In front of them was books explaining the biology of sex as well as the changing social norms about it, the pages lied out with explicit illustrations over which some pupils made obscene remarks and mock offers to others. All of which represented a determination on the part of educators to destroy for good all sense of shame about sexual matters- including incest!
We are living in an age of ideologies in which any nutty genius is out to re-define reality in a way to satisfy his or her prejudices and heal his or her social traumas incurred in the course of his or her early life. Normally, mentally healthy persons can forget about and forgive what they may regard injustices and insults to themselves on the part of others who are supposedly stronger or should know better and they vow both to avenge the perceived wrongs done to them and modify the society so that the wrongs cannot be done to others. In theory this reaction is commendable and in practice it sometimes leads to genuine improvements in a civilisation. But it is more often the case that the self-identified victim’s hurt comes more from his or her selfish sensitivities than objectively and reasonably demonstrable wrongs done to him or her by others. Sex is one area where such traumatisation is perceived and a vengeful reaction triggered. Even modern parents are often sexually proscribing towards their children they think are too young for sexual interests and even in this almost totally obscene age the removal of the last thread from one’s 99% exposing bottom-wear is a police matter and punishable offence. Since not all parents are as ‘enlightened’ as the most obscenity-blind and most people still prefer to sell themselves expensively when it comes to sexual consent many sexual refusals are still around which cause hurts to the refused. There is than little doubt that those who cannot see the justified reasons behind sexual prudence and nurture a grudge against the prudence become determined to destroy all sense of shame and responsibility associated with sexual matters. Hence the whole catastrophic sexual revolution.
But sex is not the only traditional value surrounded with taboos and enshrined in grave moral judgments. From private property to religious justification of many social values only too many traditional and often if not always really justified habits and attitudes have been under attack by self-defined, over-sensitive victims who then developed vindictive theories about and radical revolutionary alternatives to them. From Marxism to Feminism dozens of such ideologies, big and small, fringe or mainstreamish are competing for public attention through media features, philosophical or quasi-scientific publications as well as mass protests and demonstations in the streets, each employing all sorts of half-truths or palpable lies or exaggerations, each claiming new converst and planning for more effective persuasion activities. The average citizen then finds himself or herself bombarded from all sides by a cacophony of ideological indoctrination whose many incompatibilities discredit them all to serious extents in the eyes of the reasonable and informed observer.
Ideologies are not alone again in running after people’s approval and attraction. Politicians, salesmen and in fact all producers of goods and services are after persuading people to buy their claims and not a single one of them is above not resorting to some lie, exaggeration, hype and spin as applicable.