How the fuqaha” and ulama” Have Misconstrued the Qur’anic Phrase – b
To prescribe what is right and to proscribe what is wrong is a divine duty. Allah did not set up fixed rules that can be automatically applied in how to exercise this duty. Instead, He left this to be done according to what is ma’ruf, that is, widely recognized and what is perceived as good taste and common sense within any given society. What needs to be prescribed or proscribed is what is shared by most people as accepted norms of good or bad social practice.
The condition is that, for the implementation of such norms, violence and force must not be used. Whoever forces people to pray five times a day, and whoever forces women to wear a Saudi-style hijab, regardless of the cultural norms of their country, has not properly fulfilled God’s duty because something has been enforced that is not commonly shared or practiced. In an age of mass communication and globalized forms of interaction (global village), we propose six general principles that are indispensable for the fulfilment of God’s duty:
1. freedom of speech: nobody should fear prosecution or punishment for expressing his thoughts and ideas in public (radio, newspapers, television, books, internet, etc.);
2. civil society and nongovernmental organizations: these should be given as much support as possible (be they human rights organizations, societies for the protection of animals, consumer watchdog organizations, professional associations, or environmental campaign groups), but they should not use force and violence to impose their ideas of ‘what is right and what is wrong’.
3. confederation of states: their task is to investigate accusations of crimes against humanity, violations of human rights and breaches of international law in member state; the other members apply international sanctions and diplomatic pressure in order to ‘prescribe what is right’ (i.e., widely accepted and recognized as international norms).
4. politics as social contract, not God’s rule on earth: individual freedom is constrained by a social contract that exists between a state and its citizens. The individual citizen gives up parts of his personal freedom by observing the existing laws. But the laws of a society (limits) should not be confused with the political rules of the state authorities. There are God’s limits in human legislation, but there is no God’s rule in politics. Political rule is exercised by humans who exercise it within the parameters of a social contract. The concept of God’s rule on earth has no evidence in the Book and, if applied to politics, is a recipe for despotism and religious authoritarianism.
5. separation between Islam and politics: Islam means rituals, legislation between God’s limits, and moral guidance. No political party must therefore carry the adjective ‘Islamic’ in its title, because Islam is (not politics but rather) a hanif religion. Political slogans that carry the name Islam (e.g., ‘Islam is the solution’) are nonsense because religion cannot solve the economic, social, and political problems of a society, but only the people themselves.
More prayers, more fasting, and more pilgrimages will never solve the ills of the community, but rather good, sensible, and moral legislation within the limits that God has set. These limits and the moral ideals of the Book are not addressed only to the followers of Muhammad but to all humankind.
6. synthesis between Islam and society: Islam as a universal religion and is as valid for the Peoples Republic of China as it is for the Kingdom of Monaco, provided it is kept out of politics. But we say politics, not society. Islam must not and cannot be separated from society.
Sadly, after centuries of political misuse and abuse, Islam has lost its universality. It has been carelessly sacrificed for the ills of power politics and the political opportunism of scholars.
This book’s aim is to recover Islam’s lost universality and restore its powerful message as it is laid out clearly in Allah’s Book. But only God knows whether we will achieve this aim.
Jihad is next