Islam and Legislation

Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote (“Social Contract” Book II: Chapter 6: “The Lawgiver”):

“To discover the rules of society that are best suited to nations, there would need to exist a superior intelligence who could understand the passions- of men without feeling any of them, who had no affinity with our nature but knew it to the roots, whose happiness was independent of ours but who would nevertheless make our happiness his concern, . . . in fact a divine lawgiver is needed.”

By these standards the most competent legislator is the Creator of man Himself, He knows all the mysteries of man’s being, makes no profit out of any human society, and needs no man. Hence the principles which can shape equitable social regulations must be learnt from a person who receives direct guidance from the Creator, whose teachings are the inspired revelations of that unique Source, and who is wholly reliant on that Infinite Wisdom.

Human laws aim only at the ordering of human society. They do not stray outside those limits, nor touch non-social matters like personal conditions, attitudes of mind, spiritual excellence. They do not try to cure internal pollutions within the personality. It is only when personality problems issue in social disorder in action that they enter the scope of legal measures. A person may be filthy in thought and spirit and still good in the eyes of Western law, which looks only upon outward acts and not upon the heart. Islam with its wide outlook aims not just at redressing what has been done wrong but primarily at putting individual and society right from inside, regarding the ethical personality as the basic unit, and its perfecting as the priority. Islam aims at an orderly society composed of sound morals, sane thinking, sensible action, serene psyches. It therefore legislates for the inner life of the individual in as much detail as for the outer life of society. It brings order and congruence between large and small in creation, the natural laws and the spiritual, the material and the metaphysical, the individual and the social, creeds and philosophies. It helps man not to come into collision with the natural laws which underlie the orderliness of the universe; disobedience to which collapses and confounds all human affairs.

Man-made institutions pursue performance of the law. but in Islam the trustee for the law’s performance is a deep-rooted faith; and a Muslim duly performs his obligations by the force of morality and faith, even in matters where he is seen by no one save by God alone. Armed force is only needed to control the tiny minority of criminal-minded hypocrites. Islam thus pays due regard both to inner purity of heart and to outward purity of action. It calls those deeds good, laudable and meritorious which spring from sincerity and faith.

USA’s Attorney General, in his introduction to his book on Islamic Law , wrote: “American law has only a tenuous connection with moral duty. An American may be accounted a law-abiding citizen even though his inner life is foul and corrupt. But Islam sees the fount of law in the Will of God as revealed to and proclaimed through His Apostle Muhammad. This Law: this Divine Will, treats the entire body of believers as a single society, including all the multifarious races and nationalities which go to make it up in a far-scattered community. This gives religion its true sound force and makes it the cohesive element of society. No bounds of nationality or geography divide, for the government itself is obedient to the one supreme authority of the Qur’an. This leaves no place for any other legislator,. so that no competition or rivalry or rift can arise. The believer regards this world as a vale of soul-making, the ante-room to the next : and the Qur’an makes perfectly plain what are the conditions and laws which govern believers’ behaviour to each other and towards society; and thus makes the changeover from this world to the next a sure and sound and safe transition.”

Despite Westerners’ small acquaintance with Islam, and their often mistaken ideas, far removed from reality, a comparatively large number of their thinkers grasp some of the depth and profundity of Islamic teaching and do not conceal their admiration for its clear exegesis and estimable doctrines.

A Muslim scientist’s respect for Islam’s laws and ordinances is no surprise. But if a non-Muslim savant, despite his slavery to his own religious bigotry, yet recognises Islam’s grandeur and greatness and its lofty leading, that is a real tribute, especially when it is based on a recognition of the progressive nature of Islam’s legal systems and their legacy to mankind. This is why this book quotes foreign verdicts on Islam. We do so, not because we need their support, but because they can help to open the road for seekers and enquirers so that who reads may run its way.

Dr. Laura Vacciea Vaglieri, Naples University professor, wrote: “In the Qur’an we come across jewels and treasures of knowledge and insight which are superior to the products of our most brilliant geniuses, profound philosophers and powerful politicians. How can such a book be the product of the brain of a single man – and that of a man whose life was spent in commercial, not particularly religious, circles – far removed from all schools of learning? He himself always insisted that he was in himself an ordinary simple man like other men, unable, without the help of the Almighty to produce the miracle of such work. None other than He whose knowledge compasses all that is in heaven and earth could produce the Qur’an.”

Bernard Shaw in his “Muhammad, Apostle of Allah” said: “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in the highest esteem simply from the marvel of its living vigour. To my mind it is the sole religion capable of success in mastering the multifarious vicissitudes of life and the differences of culture. I foresee (it is manifest even today) that, man by man, Europeans will come to adopt the Islamic faith. Mediaeval theologians for reasons of ignorance or bigotry pictured Muhammad’s religion as full of darkness, and considered that he had cast down a challenge to Christ in a spirit of hatred and fanaticism. After much study of the man, I have concluded that Muhammad was not only not against Christ, but that he saw in Him despairing mankind’s saviour I am convinced that if a man like him would undertake leadership in tile new world, he would succeed in solving its problems, and secure that peace and prosperity which all men want.”

Voltaire, who at the beginning was one of Islam’s most obdurate opponents and poured scorn on the Prophet, after his 40 years of study of religion, philosophy and history frankly said: “Muhammad’s religion was unquestionably superior to that of Jesus. He never descended to the wild blasphemies of Christians, nor said that one God was three or three Gods were one. The single pillar of his faith is the One God. Islam owes its being to its founder’s decrees and manliness; whereas Christians used the sword to force their religion on others. Oh Lord! if only all nations of Europe would make the Muslims their models.”

One of Voltaire’s heroes was Martin Luther. Yet he wrote that “Luther was not worthy to unloose the latchets of Muhammad’s shoes. Muhammad was a great man and a trainer of great men by his example of virtue and perfection. A wise lawgiver, a just ruler, an ascetic prophet, he raised the greatest revolution earth has seen.”

Tolstoi wrote: “Muhammad needs no other claim to fame than that he raised a barbarous bloodthirsty people out of their diabolical customs to untold advances. His Canon Law with its intelligence and wisdom will come to be the world’s authority.”

Islam and Legislation | Moch Wahib Dariyadi | 4.5

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