Part 5: 'A Shari'ah' And 'Divine Protection'?
CHAPTER XXII: "THE ETERNAL AND UNCHANGING"?
We find it impossible to leave certain comments and perspectives asserted
by Islamic scholars concerning the Shari'ah without addressing them.
Does This Constitute An "Eternal And Unchanging" Shari`ah, A "Divinely Ordained Way Of Life"?
So, what does this say for the claims of Islam for its 'Preserved Eternal Shari`ah'? Murad, despite his admission of the long evolution of the Shari`ah, the conflicts of those who actually established it, and the conflicts in the interpretations, elsewhere contends:
THE ETERNAL AND UNCHANGING
The Shari`ah is for all times to come, equally valid under all circumstances. The Muslim insistence on the immutability of the Shari`ah is highly puzzling to many people, but any other view would be inconsistent with its basic concept. If it is divinely ordained, it can be changed by a human being only if authorised by God or His Prophet. Those who advise bringing it into line with current thinking recognise this difficulty. Hence they recommend to Muslims that the 'legal' provisions in the Qur'an and the concept of the Prophet as law-giver and ruler should be 'downgraded'.
But, as the manifestation of God's infinite mercy, knowledge and wisdom, the Shari`ah cannot be amended to conform to the changing human values and standards: rather, it is the absolute norm to which all human values and conduct must conform; it is the frame to which they must be referred; it is the scale on which they must be weighed." (Shari`ah, Murad, p. 16f; emphasis added)
But those responsible in Islam could not even agree on the 'intended'
purpose (or meaning!) of the content of the Qur'an (that which is asserted as 'the foundation of the Shari'ah') let alone agree in their going beyond that to establish what might be construed as 'a Law'! The 'Law' which Islam pretends to possess is something contrived by men centuries after Muhammad.
Again, although we have already read the admissions that the differences between the groups are because they held "conflicting opinions about the fundamental principles upon which they built", including Halals and Harams1, Maududi declares that the Shari`ah has to be "revealed" and that this includes what is "Halal and Haram":
In the foregoing pages we have given a very brief resume of the law of Islam - the law which Prophet Muhammad (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) delivered to mankind for all times to come....
This universal and eternal religion is Islam." (Towards..., p.115f)
Rather, it is based on the fact that Islam now possesses what are in fact a number of Shari'ahs, each of which came about by the extensive efforts of men to sort out the Companions' disagreements over the original Din (Islam) and then interpret the remaining2 actions and sayings (Sunnah) of Muhammad, and then derive a purpose for the ayas of the Qur'anic text, because they thought they illuminated 'a Divine way'.
It also came about because men divided Din (Islam) from Din (Islam) and invented a new religion composed of Din and Shari'ah!
Islam has found that it must declare one part of this to be the 'protected'
Shari`ah 'brought by Muhammad', or concede that it is not the
religion that it claims to be. That would admit that it is no religion
Islam's True Beliefs About The 'Eternal Shari`ah'
The truth is that Islam doesn't really believe all that it says about an 'eternal Shari`ah'. Rather, all the talk is simply a front behind which to hide what we have just seen, and carry on its true beliefs about the Shari'ah behind the scenes.
To understand those, we need to look at the following:
And, that law proves to be so perfect, so much before his time that the world, even after fourteen hundred years is gasping to catch [up] with it. The history of Law and Sheriat in the last fourteen centuries can be described in one sentence: "Islam leads and the world trails behind."
Is that not the perfection of the sheriat, with its built-in capacity to adjust to time, the greatest miracle of the Holy Prophet?" (Prophethood, Rizvi, p. 45)
"This revelation corresponds to man's position on earth and in history. Man has reached, in his development, the stage when universal principles need to be applied to safeguard his purposeful existence." (i, p. 17)
'eternal Shari'ah' to be re-evaluated every now and then (!) that Maududi was in and out of prison!
Be that as it may, the fact remains that these writers have given the least amount of space to this "built-in capacity to adjust with time" - the only reason they actually consider the Shari`ah "timeless" and "eternal".
But, this is at best 'extensibility' and at worst 'rescue-ability' not "eternality" - and in Islam's case it is just an excuse to keep going in spite of corruption which set in at the beginning.
It was the later scholars who decided to make the Shari'ah of Islam take on so grandiose an appearance, for there is little reason to consider the content of the Ahadith on any topic pertaining to life in the early Hijaz to be providing 'eternal principles' for the locals, let alone for 'the rest of mankind'! This is Arab boasting gone wild.
And, what 'eternal principles' do we think were concluded on by men when we recall that those things which are here declared to be the basis of such, namely the purpose of the Qur'an's ayas as interpreted by the Sunnah, are the very things which have become "lost and corrupted" and disagreed over - even by those considered to be Companions!
And still today the iremain in the same state!
And, yet we note that Azami's other declarations don't hold either:
Again, we recall that the Sunnah, and even "the basic principles" of evaluating it, were decided upon by 'ijtihad not 'revelation'. Even the text, and so the interpretation, of the i was in extreme doubt, not only through a transmission so poor in its Arabic that the early Grammarians couldn't accept it as transmitting the actual words of Muhammad, but because the later scholars had so many interpretations of their content, some even rejecting them, that nothing could possibly be "certain".
And all this led to the same uncertainty concerning the intent of the text of the Qur'an - now said to lay down 'the basic principles' of the Shari'ah.
Which man would then take seriously the claim that such confusion should provide "universal principles to safeguard his purposeful existence"!
Perhaps, after all, those in Islam have become interested only in the worldly benefits of Islamic theology:
"More importantly, total submission to God elevates man to the state of Khalifa, (vice-regency), whereby he is accorded the highest place on earth by being endowed with reason, articulation, volition, freedom and responsibility. The responsibility to follow the Shari`ah according to the Qur'an (al-Ahzab 33:72), is the fulfilment of amanah, the trust which even the heavens, the earth and the mountains cannot bear." (Shari'ah, Murad, p. 8; emphasis added)
For those who want to exercise 'the vice-regency", turning a blind eye to the true origin of the "eternal unchanging" Shari`ah they are claiming to be following comes easy!
But, can any honest person believe that "The responsibility
to follow the Shari`ah according to the Qur'an (al-Ahzab 33:72),
is the fulfilment of amanah, the trust which even the heavens, the
earth and the mountains dare not bear."? We don't think so.
1/ To say nothing of the fact that they based their Fiqh on the differing readings, varying acceptance of the collected Sunnah, etc..
2/ We remember they eliminated some of the conflicts in the Sunnah.
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