Shariah Law: not necessarily anti-democratic

Golden Mosque in Manila (in Top Ten Marvels

Shariah, in Arabic, means “path”. It could be said that Shariah Law designs the moral and religious path for all Muslims, based on the Quran and on the Sunnah.

Muslim Brotherhood leads in Egypt. In Tunisia, Ennahda (an Islamist party) won the elections. Before such scenario the West renewed its fears: will these parties implement Shariah Law? How will this affect the diplomatic strategies and will the West be forced, once again, to negotiate with crazy rads?

Implementing the Islamic code, in Muslim nations, doesn’t necessarily imply an adhesion to Islamic fundamentalism nor does it have to be anti-democratic. Shariah is interpreted differently by modernists, reformers, traditionalists and fundamentalists; signifying that Muslim nations seeking to implement Democracy need to decide what kind of society they want for themselves and apply the Islamic code accordingly. Instead of trying to interfere with their internal affairs, we should only help them in the path to democracy.

Religious codes are not new or anti-democratic.
Western societies are extremely democratic and yet endeavour to follow the Noahide Code:

  1. Prohibition of Idolatry
  2. Prohibition of Murder
  3. Prohibition of Theft
  4. Prohibition of Sexual immorality
  5. Prohibition of Blasphemy
  6. Prohibition of eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive
  7. Establishment of law courts. 

The Jewish State is an extremely democratic society and yet its Mishpat Ivri (the Jewish Law or jurisprudence) is based on Halakha (“the path” - the traditional Jewish Law which includes Biblical Law and Rabbinical Law). Mishpat Ivri refers to aspects in religious law considered relevant to “non-religious” and to “secular” Law, such as contracts, property rights, ownership, public law, international law, negligence, legal liability, copyright etc.

If our societies can reach a compromise between religious codes and laicism so can Muslim societies, once they set theocracy, authoritarianism and specially fundamentalism aside (this is, if they wish their nations to profit from sustainable human and economic development).

I thoroughly appreciate one aspect of Shariah: the salah (= connection). The idea that one stops 5 times/day to pray to (or connect with) God, thus bathing in the divine love & tolerance, promises a Muslim society able to connect with all of God’s creation…Muslim or not, religious or not.

We wish Tunisia and Egypt wisdom in concatenating Shariah, modern society and globalisation.

Comments

  1. Max, I think that you should read Edward Said on the Western perceptions about Orientals. Once you do that, many of these enigmas sort themselves out. In the meanwhile, you might like to read this unrelated but interesting article http://goatmilkblog.com/2011/12/12/the-goatmilk-debates-islam-is-incompatible-with-feminism-mohamad-tabbaa-for-the-motion/#more-5107

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  2. While our "societies endeavour" to be good in the ways listed, that doesn't mean that the government should make people behave that way. Shariah Law is wrong because it forces people to be good (sunjectively of course), which isn't government's business.

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  3. Hi Rummy :D!

    "Max, I think that you should read Edward Said on the Western perceptions about Orientals. Once you do that, many of these enigmas sort themselves out."

    Thank you for the suggestion, my friend *bowing*. I would suggest you to read "Eurico" by Alexandre Herculano to give you a good idea of what Europeans (at least) have been thinking about Arabs and Muslims since the 8th century (and I say "have been" because the opinion seems to have remained unchanged in the 21th century [one example of that is the Norwegian Breivik case]).

    "In the meanwhile, you might like to read this unrelated but interesting article http://goatmilkblog.com/2011/12/12/the-goatmilk-debates-islam-is-incompatible-with-feminism-mohamad-tabbaa-for-the-motion/#more-5107"

    Again, thanks for this link: I appreciated reading it although I do not agree with it in its entirety.
    I would also add that Mr. Tabbaa's "thesis" is quite related to this article, in a sense that the he states that "In essence, by arguing that Islam is open to all sorts of interpretation, feminism aims to kill God in Islam." which was a very subtle form (on your part) of attempting to refute my 3rd paragraph but the truth is: despite the reasons why they may do so, various Muslims scholars do interpret Muslims texts differently (accordingly to their own philosophy of life: modernism, reformism, tradition, fundamentalism etc). But allow me the liberty of thinking that, by sharing this link, you were also agreeing with my thought that Muslim nations have the right to their own identity, to make their own choices and that the West should not interfere much.

    Rummy, outstanding: thank you ever so much for your contribution :D.

    Cheers

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  4. Hi Vid :D!

    "While our "societies endeavour" to be good in the ways listed, that doesn't mean that the government should make people behave that way."

    Are you against Law and Order? And what do you suggest as an alternative: anarchy, chaos (which is contrary to human nature)?

    "Shariah Law is wrong because it forces people to be good (sunjectively of course), which isn't government's business."

    Shariah Law doesn't force people to be good (no law can do this, by the way) instead it suggests a certain path of conduct which all religions suggest. But you will agree that if citizens do not behave well (i.e if they are not "good" in their deportment) then it is the government's business to straighten them up through law enforcement and justice, yes?

    What I'm suggesting is to read more about Shariah before we start panicking (furthermore, do we have the right to panic if Muslims implement it in their nations? Do they have the right to panic when our laws are based on our religious codes?).

    Vid, your comments always sparkle great thoughts: thank you, mate :D.

    Cheers

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  5. I will have to catch up on the article and some of the readings on the weekend. There is also a book I ordered on the subject of Islam and the West that was recommended to me by a Western acquaintance who has lived much of his life in Islamic countries. Will be reviewing that as soon as I get it.

    Just pondering again the fundamentalismphobia pathologies. I was passionate about fundamentalist math when I was young, but many of my classmates were horrified. In the case of English fundamentalism, the roles were reversed. Enumerating verb tenses was clearly evidence of a base and sordid character.

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  6. Salut max,
    les religions de tout temps ont eu vocation de maintenir dans un droit chemin leur population, avec des exigences appropriées à leur fonctionnement, plus où moins bien comprises, plus où moins bien interprêtés.
    Cela jusqu'à la connaissance de la responsabilité individuelle d'amour envers TOUT.
    Le départ et l'arrivée... se fait dans le désordre, laissons le temps à chacun d'expérimenter ce chemin et de l'appliquer une fois compris.
    Contente de te retrouver en blog stabilisé.
    Tranquilement.

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  7. Max, muslim countries can do whatever they want in their own land; that's their prerogative. What the west views with suspicion is their inclination to impose their culture and religion on them. But again, it is up to the west to prevent that type of situation.
    In Israel, the laws are religious-based and there is no constitution (I consider the Torah our constitution) and it doesn't clash with democracy at all; au contraire, it is the most democratic country in the region. It is so democratic that even the left has the freedom to vomit the things it does; how beautiful is that?

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  8. Max, I did a quick search for Eurico. It looks like an interesting work, but is only available in Portuguese!

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  9. Hi Max,

    Your vast knowledge of politics is nothing short of amazing. I can't keep up with America's politics much less world politics, but if I have any questions, I will come to you.

    I have only heard that in Shariah Law women are treated as second/third class citizens. They don't have the same rights. Other than that I don't know enough about it to quantify an answer, however I think all citizens should have the right to be free from tyranny. If we can't at least pursue happiness then there's not much point existing.

    Excellent piece.

    Freedom Cheers!

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  10. Hi Looney :D!

    "There is also a book I ordered on the subject of Islam and the West that was recommended to me by a Western acquaintance who has lived much of his life in Islamic countries. Will be reviewing that as soon as I get it."

    I think that people living, or who have lived, in Muslim countries understand this things better than we do. However, books also give us a pretty good idea of Islamic/Muslim/Arab issues too.

    "Just pondering again the fundamentalismphobia pathologies. I was passionate about fundamentalist math when I was young, but many of my classmates were horrified. In the case of English fundamentalism, the roles were reversed. Enumerating verb tenses was clearly evidence of a base and sordid character."

    You are that good in math, eh? LOL LOL LOL LOL enumerating verb tenses is evidence of a base and sordid character? My, my, my...this means I am extremely sordid...shocking LOL...*nodding*.

    Looney, awesome comment (as always): thank you so much, mate! :D

    Cheers

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  11. Salut Sérénité :D!

    "les religions de tout temps ont eu vocation de maintenir dans un droit chemin leur population, avec des exigences appropriées à leur fonctionnement, plus où moins bien comprises, plus où moins bien interprêtés."

    Oui, absolument!

    "Le départ et l'arrivée... se fait dans le désordre, laissons le temps à chacun d'expérimenter ce chemin et de l'appliquer une fois compris."

    C'est exactement ça ce que je pense...

    "Contente de te retrouver en blog stabilisé."

    Je t'avais dit que je réglerais la situation ;).

    Sérénité, merci infiniment pour ton commentaire :D.

    Salut

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  12. Hi Ana :D!

    "Max, muslim countries can do whatever they want in their own land; that's their prerogative. What the west views with suspicion is their inclination to impose their culture and religion on them. But again, it is up to the west to prevent that type of situation."

    True. Again, true.

    "In Israel, the laws are religious-based and there is no constitution (I consider the Torah our constitution) and it doesn't clash with democracy at all; au contraire, it is the most democratic country in the region. It is so democratic that even the left has the freedom to vomit the things it does; how beautiful is that?"

    Amen. LOL LOL it is extremely beautiful, you know that.

    Ana, thank you ever so much for your comment :D.

    Cheers

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  13. Looney,

    "I did a quick search for Eurico. It looks like an interesting work, but is only available in Portuguese!"

    It is a very interesting work (I am in the process of re-reading it). Only available in Portuguese? Before I start trashing my country, let me try finding it in English and then I will let you know, ok?

    Thanks for letting me know this.

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  14. Hi Lady A :D!

    "Your vast knowledge of politics is nothing short of amazing. I can't keep up with America's politics much less world politics, but if I have any questions, I will come to you."

    There you go, trying to make me blush ;). Girl, America's politics is entertaining...that's all I'll say for now.

    "I have only heard that in Shariah Law women are treated as second/third class citizens. They don't have the same rights."

    I used to think the same as well; until I began reading about it. After I did that I concluded that it is not so: women are not treated as second/third class citizens in the Shariah; au contraire, they are treated with respect. Men, on the other hand, deturped Shariah and treat women as second/third class citizens.
    It's like the Bible: it treats women with respect and grants them the same rights as men, when it comes to heritage; however, for a long long time Men decided to work against the Holy Book and disrespect women (not long ago women had no right to inherit their father's wealth, remember?).
    Yet we have evolved...

    "Other than that I don't know enough about it to quantify an answer, however I think all citizens should have the right to be free from tyranny. If we can't at least pursue happiness then there's not much point existing."

    True.

    "Excellent piece."

    Thank you *bowing*.

    Lady A, thank you ever so much for your superb comment :D

    Freedom Cheers

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  15. It all depends on what governments from Muslim countries want. Sharia may not be a threat in their nations but surely is in ours!
    We have to wait for a reasonable Muslim leader to come along and be wise enough to apply Sharia in a proper way keeping with the times. But I do agree with one thing: let's keep out of their affairs for a change!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Celeste :D!

      It depends on interpretation and how it can be applied to a modern society, indeed. If Shariah is applied to Muslim countries, I have no problems with it; however when Muslim communities want to apply it in ours, I do have a problem.
      Yes, let's stay out of it.

      Celeste, thank you so much for your comment :D.

      Cheers

      Delete

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