Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Refuting the Modernist Contention: “Jurisprudence is Incompatible with Modern Age”

By Mujlisul Ulama

Some of the Western-educated clogmatize that Islamic jurisprudence does not fit in with our modern age. But, they do not give any specific reasons for such an allegation. Had they said that some particular principle or principles are not adaptable to our era for one reason or another, their claim might possess some merit, as it would then have been possible to discuss and show the error of their contentions. But, to stop at saying that the whole body of Islamic jurisprudence is unfit for our times, without giving any valid reason, is a statement entirely unacceptable to any logical and rational mind. Yet, having known that the exponents of such notions are, relative to Islamic jurisprudence, the most ignorant among the educated, one cannot escape the conclusion that their views are predicated upon ignorance and prevarication.
The adaptability of jurisprudence should be decided on the grounds of the intrinsic sufficiency of its principles. There is not a single one of even the lesser principles of Islamic jurisprudence that may be substantiated as unfit or irrelevant, and a perusal of the more salient principles reveals to what extent some Muslims have been carried down the dark alleyways of deviation by their own- ig­norance. Islamic jurisprudence in­scribed unconditional equality between people.
 The Quran says:
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is The who is) the most righteous of you.” [Qur’an 49:13]

And Rasulullah (sallahu­alaihi-wasallam) said: “Peo­ple are equal (on the same footing) like the dents of a comb; no Arab has an advan­tage over a non-Arab except by virtue of righteousness and piety.”
This principle of equality was inscribed thir­teen centuries ago, whereas the man-made laws in which our ignorant friends take pride did not acknowledge -such equality until late in the eighteenth century! Even today, most European coun­tries and the United States impose debilitating restric­tions on their application of this principle.
There is also the outstan­ding principle of liberty (freedom) which had been established since the early days as an integral part of Islamic jurisprudence. Under it, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, and freedom and expression are well recognized and even enjoined by many Qur’anic verses, from which we may cite a part:
Say, ‘Behold all that is in the heavens and on earth’.”
“… and none will grasp the message except men of un­derstanding.” 
“ Let there be no coercion in religion.”
“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong.”

The principle of liberty (freedom) with its three divisions was not recognized by man-made laws until the French Revolution, though the ignorant deny the Islamic jurisprudence the virtue of such precedents and at­tribute it all to European law.
Absolute justice is one of the basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence. The Quran says:
“.. And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice.” 
“..Stand out firmly for justice…” 
“. . . Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice.”
This principle was also registered by Islamic jurisprudence from its very inception and was not recognized by man-made laws till the last decades of the eighteenth century.
Such are the three preemi­nent principles on which modern law is founded, and which our jurisprudence had firmly established more than eleven centuries ago. How then can it be said that man­made laws are “relevant” to our modern age while Islamic jurisprudence, which advocates the same prin­ciples and framework, is not?
Again, Islam had enjoined application of the principle of mutual consultation from the time the Revelation was sent down. God says:
“…who conduct their af­fairs by mutual con­sultation.”
“… and consult them in affairs (of moment).” 
Therefore, Islamic jurisprudence preceded man-made law about eleven centuries in establishing this ideal — except in the case of England, where it was recognized ten centuries after Islam. But the Euro­pean law did not introduce a novelty when it provided for parliamentary representation (as an example of applying the principle of mutual con­sultation); they merely took their impetus from where Islamic jurisprudence ended.
Further, Islam since its early revelation, had restricted the powers of the chief of state, characterizing him as duty bound to repre­sent the public and responsi­ble for his wrong actions. Ac­cordingly, both the rulers and the ruled are equal before its provisions. Because the first are limited in their actions by these provisions they have no ine­quitable advantages over the latter. Both are on the same footing in accordance with the principle of equality.
Since Islamic jurisprudence comprised all these principles eleven cen­turies in advance of Euro­pean law, how can it be alleg­ed that this jurisprudence is incompatible with our pre­sent age?!
Besides, Islamic jurisprudence prohibited the drinking of alcohol and per­mitted divorce. God declares:
“O ye who believe, in­toxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones and (divination by) arrows are an abomination of Satan’s han­d i work : eschew such (abomination) that-ye may prosper.” 
“A divorce is only permissi­ble twice: after that, the par­ties should either holdtogether on equitable terms or separate with kindness.”
Man-made legislation never recognized the benefits accruing from the permission of divorce and prohibition of intoxicants ex­cept in the course of the pre­sent century. Some of these laws completely prohibit in­toxicants, others impose par­tial prohibition on them. How, then, could these laws deriving from jurisprudence be considered fit while jurisprudence itself is con­sidered unfit?
Islamic jurisprudence is the first system of legislation that established viably the theories of social coopera­tion and social solidarity. God says:
“…Help ye one another in -righteousness and piety. But help ye not one another in sin and rancor.” 
“.. and those in whose wealth is a recognized right for the (needy) who asks and him whois deprived.”
“Of their goods take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them.”
“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds), for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth), for those in bondageand in debt, in the cause of God, and for the wayfarer: (Thus is it) ordained by God, and God is full of knowledge and wisdom. 
“What God has bestowed on His Apostle (and taken away) from the people of thetownships, belongs to God, to His Apostle and to kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarer, in order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you.”
The two above-mentioned concepts have been known by our jurisprudence for more than thirteen centuries, whereas the non-Muslim world was hardly aware of them till the present cent­ury, and they are yet but partially applied therein.
Islamic jurisprudence prohibits monopolistic prac­tices, exploitation of authori­ty, bribery and corruption. The Prophet has said, “The monopolizer is surely a sinner.‘ And Allah says:
“And do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use it as bait for the judges, with intent that ye may eat up wrongfully and knowingly a little of (other) people’s property.”
These lofty ideas were not accredited by man-made laws except very lately.
Islamic jurisprudence strongly prohibits the com­mission of felonies and shameful vices whether in public or in secret, sinning and harassment beyond all bounds. God says:
“Say: My Lord hath indeed forbidden shameful deeds, whether open or secret, sins and trespasses against truth at reason.”  
At the same time, jurisprudence approves of exhortation to good deeds, enforcing what is right and forbidding what is wrong.
“Let there arise out of a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.” 

Such principles as these, long embodied in Islamic jurisprudence, are the ideal that humanity searches for and dreams of achieving. How could the one code of legislation whose principles enshrine the very ideal which contemporary humankind earnestly seeks fail to be relevant to our era? If- we peer into the humanitarian, social and legal conventions prevailing in our age and of which people are proud, we find each and every one of these principles included in the best possible manner in the Islamic jurisprudence.
From the above, it becomes evident that the allegation that Islamic jurisprudence is inap­propriate for these times is an assumption founded on and caused by profound ig­norance of that jurisprudence, and has no support in fact. The only ex­cuse one may seek for the ex­ponents of this charge is that they have been taught that old laws and legislation were based on obsolete principles which are unacceptable to our modern age. They have taken this ambiguous state­ment for a general rule, applicable also to Islamic jurisprudence, which they consider to be an “old” law and an “old” legislation. They have never attempted to appreciate’ the substantial difference between Islamic jurisprudence and man-made law.


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