By Mike Ghouse
15 January, 2014
The right-wing Muslims will scream at me for questioning the divinity of Sharia, and the right-wing Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others will be calling me names, as this essay does not condemn Sharia. They simply cannot see another point of view.
Rather than the outright rejection of Sharia, which serves as a system of justice to the given populations in Muslim majority nations, we need to fix the laws; without it a large swatch of population becomes rudderless. Our own constitution has been amended several times, and that is what is needed to be done with Sharia.
However, the moderate majorities in all groups see the value in fixing the cancerous cells, rather than rejecting the whole system. Unless we fix things, injustice in the name of justice will continue.
The golden rule is central to all religions that say, "Treat others as you want to be treated." There is not a religion on the earth that teaches one to treat the other any less. Most people get their religion right, and some don't.
The conservative men tend to be insecure when dealing with women; no matter what faith they belong to, they behave the same. Their perceived safety hinges on keeping some one or the other under their thumb; usually women.
Sharia was a human effort to dispense justice to fellow beings in accordance with Quran and the Prophet's examples; however, men are fallible beings and have failed to deliver justice. They have got it all wrong when it comes to women, apostates, blasphemers and the victims of rape. Sharia as practiced in a few of the Muslim nations does not reflect God's wisdom or the practice of the prophet. It needs to be fixed badly.
Our conservative lot gets offended when Sharia is criticized as they (mistakenly) believe that Sharia is God's law, delivered like Quran, and it is not. Criticizing Sharia is the right thing to do, after all how are we going to fix it?
Muslims need to feel secure that God is not going anywhere, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is not going anywhere nor Qur'an will disappear; they are eternal. God tells the prophet not to worry if people don't listen to his message, because he is the one who gives guidance. God also says he will protect his system (religion), shouldn't we trust in God? The conservatives, be it Christian, Muslim, Jews, Hindus or others, don't really trust in God, and aggressively preempt him.
Just as Americans cannot fathom any other form of law other than the one we know, the Muslims in Muslim majority nations cannot imagine any other law either. Our laws are not perfect, and neither is theirs. We have amended ours many a time, and need to include marriage-equality amendment and more. The Muslims have not made amendments to Sharia in a long time. It is time to fix it and keep the laws to serve justice to the Muslim populations.
A majority of Muslim nations are not familiar with any other laws; they will resist pushing new codes on them, just as we would. Remember the Obama-care battle? We need to understand them and encourage amendments. There is nothing wrong with the intent of Sharia; it's the corruption that needs fixing, when done, and Sharia would be as good as any other law aligning fully with the human-rights declaration.
Let's deal with a few Sharia-related issues concerning rape victims, apostasy, blasphemy, and treatment of rape victims.
The Council of Islamic Ideologies (CII) in Pakistan declared that DNA evidence in case of rape is supplementary, and they still require the four male witnesses to prosecute the rapists. Science (knowledge) means nothing to conservatives whether they are Christians or Muslims.
Asma Jahangir, the human rights activist of Pakistan, responded, "The council members were refusing to reach out for the truth in rape cases and had given such urgency and prominence to their recommendation as if acceptance of DNA testing was a great threat to Islam."
Moazam Syed wrote in the World Muslim Congress forum, "So a rape victim needs to produce four pious Muslims, who must have watched the full act of rape?" A few conservative Muslims may not like this statement, but that pales to the misery of the rape victim, who endures the anguish for her entire life.
That ain't justice, and that ain't Islam. The conservatives are not only defensive, but carry an attitude; any suggestion of reason or application of logic threatens them, and they scream that their religion is threatened. I have heard these sentences from Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all other right-wingers in different circumstances.
A documentary (Pakistan) is in the making where a 13-year-old girl returning from the school was gang raped, and the damned judge was embarrassed that she dared to bring the case to his court, and the men laughed and questioned, why was she not at home? Shamefully, this is also a part of the men's attitude in America - she asked for it.
I am glad they had the sense at least to debate, in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Iran; the woman would have been brutally stoned to death -- again, that is not Islam and purely the men culture of those nations.
Honor killing is not a thing to be slapped on to Muslims. In Punjab, Haryana, and other parts of the subcontinent, the Hindus and Sikhs also kill their victim girls to protect the honor of their family. I am sure if we Google it, we may find surprises elsewhere.
The first word in Islam is "Iqra" -- meaning read, recite, and understand. That was the first word uttered to Prophet Muhammad by angel Gabriel. Iqra opens the door to everything in life. On another occasion, the prophet said, if you have to learn something new, don't hesitate to go anywhere, including far- off lands like China.
The prophet did not say, "Your minds are being plucked out, you don't need it any more to think, everything is given to you in Quran and my examples, just follow it." Indeed the Prophet said, in his last sermon, that he was leaving this book to his followers to read, understand, and follow it.
Doesn't learning imply reading, observing, understanding, and adopting the new information to the existing conditions for a better life and a better society?
Not all Muslims, but a few of the self-appointed guardians of religion, do not listen to God or the prophet. They have the arrogance to reject Iqra or go to China for learning. They have shut themselves out from learning and push others to do the same. Should we let them? Are they responsible for our actions?
These men eagerly approved and adopted the text-message divorces and even e-mail divorces because they cared about men and not the women who were thrown under the bus at the whim of the idiot men. This is not justice and this is not Islam.
Some of the conservative men don't believe in equality of women, and simply don't listen to the prophet. Yet from that very same mouth, they say, "Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is a mercy to mankind" -- Do they fully understand what it means? Fourteen hundred years ago, the Prophet declared that women are free to own property, own their business, initiate marriage and divorce, and could disobey their husbands if they were coerced into doing things against their will. That is Islam.
A majority of Muslims believe in it; a few don't but get the media attention. Do we talk about good husbands? We always focus on the bad ones who are violent whether they are American, Chinese, and Arab, Indian, Hispanic, or Russian men.
1200 years later, the western societies accorded that status to women, including the passage of women's-suffrage act here in America just a hundred years ago, while a few conservative Muslim societies have gone back to the times before the prophet.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not punish apostates, that are those who chose to abandon Islam, and yet Pastor Naderkhani in Iran is being harassed; Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan and Lena Joy in Malaysia were relieved with the international pressures.
Prophet was clear, there is no compulsion in religion, and you cannot force any one to believe who does not want to believe. His own uncle chose not to believe in Islam; did the Prophet punish him? This is a divine intentional example from God for people to learn, that there is no compulsion in faith; let anyone believe what he or she is comfortable with. There is confusion among the average Muslims, and it behooves for Muslims to put this thing behind and move on. It is time to follow the prophet and universally declare that there is no punishment for apostasy.
Prophet Muhammad did not punish anyone for blasphemy. Instead he did the right thing; prayed for them. The self-appointed guardians of Sharia laws can tell great many stories of the prophet, yet they do the opposite.
The blasphemy laws go against the God-given freedom and it aids the crooks to abuse it. In Pakistan a damned crook framed a girl for desecrating Quran. A whole Christian town was destroyed before they discovered the truth; at least that is the saving grace
Muslims believe that we are answerable to God on the Day of Judgment. The more of us speak up, the greater the chance of delivering justice to fellow beings; if we don't, then evil persists. The least a Muslim can do is to speak up.
Sharia was a human effort in delivering justice to fellow beings in accordance with Quran and the Prophet's examples; however, humans are fallible beings and are not delivering justice to women, apostates, blasphemers and rapists, and the raped. Sharia as practiced in a few of the Muslim nations does not reflect God's wisdom nor does it correspond with prophet's practice. It needs to be fixed badly before we sink with our sins of injustice to women.
To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who mitigates conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence of humanity. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation, life and matter.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker, writer and a frequent guest on Hannity show and nationally syndicated Radio shows and Dallas TV, Radio and Print Media. Over 1000 articles have been published on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, India and cohesive societies. Two of his books are poised to be released this fall on Pluralism and Islam. He is available to speak at your place of worship, work, school, college, seminars or conferences. His work is encapsulated in 27 blogs, four websites and several forums indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/