CFR Investigation Series: Islam-Governing Under Shariah

One of the endeavors that we here at al-Mustaqeem Publications are offering to the Muslim community at large, and in particularly to the traditionalist Muslims are introspection’s into academic based global media coverage and interpretations of events on the ground as espoused by Non Muslim institutions. Not only does this dynamic create a unique aspect to interpreting Non Muslim observations and analytical studies, we offer our response from within the perspective of the traditionalist orthodox Muslim perspective, a dynamic that is basically absent in the modern day media outlets. Institutions are unwilling to allow the Muslim perspective into the media spectrum it fosters to its respective populace due to the secularist or revisionist cause it is aiming to achieve. Likewise, those sites and forums which do advocate the traditionalist viewpoint are not exchanging the dialogue to the western world at large for various reasons which go beyond the scope of this introduction.

The current editorial you are about to read is the initial response to a topic produced by the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) which will be the first in a series of studies produced by the CFR regarding Islam and those matters that relate to it.

In this issue, we will be addressing the topic “Islam: Governing Under Sharia
(aka shariah, shari’a
)” found on the website whose authors name is Lauren Vriens. The topics discussed include the following

•          Introduction

•          What is Sharia?

•          Controversy: Punishment and Equality under Sharia

•          Sharia vs. Secularism

•          Modern Economies and Sharia

What we will do, God Willing, is to breakdown information of which we see that is either

1.      Conflated

2.      Befuddlement of truth

3.      Disingenuous

4.      Inaccurate

5.      Problematic

6.      Lacking of further circumstantial realities

So, we begin with the following. It was stated

Sharia, or Islamic law, influences the legal code in most Muslim countries.

This is simply inaccurate. There are or maybe certain codes of Islamic law, usually those of which coincide with western values, but there is no legislative code on the planet which has a shariah legislative system in it. Most of the average Muslims on the planet view Saudi Arabia as the only single entity that has a shariah based code. However, even in this claim, there is a fault because the Saudi system is not a formal khilaafa (Islamic state whose legislative codes are based on shariah) 100 percent. There is one other state that we have not confirmed as of yet, which is Nigeria, that has a full shariah based legislative code. The only other country on the planet that offers a shariah based code is Malaysia, as they offer a dual system of legislation, one being secular, one being shariah. Outside of these respective states, every other state basis their institution through a secular based code with some interventions of Islamic legal mandates, and the rest being cultural values incorporated into that particular state.

Moreover, the shariah is NOT what influences the legal systems of Muslim countries. This simple fact is the reason why groups validly, or otherwise, labeled as terrorists networks are performing these activities to begin with. The reason for such actions is because in the view of these dissident groups, their respective states are NOT implementing the shariah into its legislation, which is the underlying cause and basic fundamental by which terrorists networks are formulated. It was not until recently, as pinpointed by General Anthony Zinni, in a speech he had given at the Cornell University in which highlighted how the focus of middle-east terrorists organization was to focus on removing the enemies within, which we understand to be apostate rulers in Muslim countries, first, and then to focus on the enemy beyond, which we understand to be America. Of course, that change in their focus was, as the General highlighted, easily made when the extremely powerful Israel lobby virtually enforces their foreign policy to be U.S. foreign policy which then results in a U.S. backed state sponsored terrorism performed by the Zionist regime.

Moving along

A movement to allow sharia to govern personal status law, a set of regulations that pertain to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and custody, is even expanding into the West.

Yes, this predicament is arousing much concern and resentment from western societies due to the form of government they assume. This is not problematic with Islamic states because part of Islamic law entails respective communities to actually implement their own code of law in their respective community without interference from the greater Islamic realm which these communities reside in. However, with the secular codes of the west, these policies are considered intolerable since they are based on the idea of “assimilation” where immigrants are not to bring their diversities and cultures, but to integrate into the country of pursuit.

To continue further, it was stated

“There are so many varying interpretations of what sharia actually means that in some places it can be incorporated into political systems relatively easily, says Steven A. Cook, CFR senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies ”

This is the usual rhetoric we have seen from certain revisionists ideologues, among them Javed Ghamidi. Firstly, there are not a “vast” amount of interpretations which seems to be implied in the statement above, rather there are only 5 legal schools within Islam, and two of which was differed over by Muslims if we incorporate the Jafari and Zaydi legal schools which are usually adopted by the heterodox group known as the “Shi’a” (Ar. Raafidha/Rawaafidh).  In order for us to formally theoretical translation to the western mind, these schools are to be viewed as the variant readings in liberal democratic ideologies. For example, let us merely restrict ourselves for the sake of brevity to the American constitution. The basic two dichotomies of interpreting the American constitution are

1.      Original intent (of the founders)

2.      Living text

Which both reside fatal logical flaws. For example, there can be no such thing as interpreting the constitution based on the first because the founders had various intents to begin with, which is how we can understand the Islamic side of legal theory. The second is also invalid since by due right of logic, if the document can mean whatever it means to people in various times, then what is the reason of having a constitution to begin with as a document that can mean anything, means nothing.

Furthermore, the various schools of legal theory of the founders include

1.      Federalists

2.      Nationalists

Not only are these two differing legal schools, likewise the republican format which represents a more center to right political spectrum and the democratic format which represents a more center to left ideology in the America political spectrum also affect the dimension of policies.

To continue on, it states

Sharia’s influence on both personal status law and criminal law is highly controversial, though. Some interpretations are used to justify cruel punishments such as amputation and stoning

These are controversial topics in and of themselves for westerners because they do not have in mind, or consider the effect that such a law perpetuates in society. The purpose for these strict judgments are in place to act as a deterrent for the society at large which in practice provides a social safety to the public realm of life that is unfathomable in western liberal democracies. Likewise, we have incidents during the lifetime of the prophet Muhammad (salallahu lahu wa sallam) where desired not to implement the law even after perpetrators desired to face the punishment in this life rather than face it with their Lord in the next life. This does not absolve its application, but rather what we are trying to address is that the the overall intent of these legislation based on these events virtually shows that these are deterrents that are themselves causes in the reduction of crime much like incentives in the promotion of vices leads to the increase of crimes.

Moving along, it states

as well as unequal treatment of women in inheritance, dress, and independence.

This is conflated and inaccurate. Women, putting aside men, do not view these codes as “unequal”. With regards to inheritance, the essence of its unequal distribution is because Islam law does not require the woman to spend the wealth received from such inheritance. That lack of requirement is not available for men because men are required to sustain those dependants that are directly under their sphere of influence, an obligation that does not exist for women. If one is to objectively argue about the unequal application of law with regards to inheritance between the male and the female, then likewise, according to the principles of objectivity, one is required to also take into account the demands imposed on men which women are free of. Yet no one speaks of this as an ethical inequality which only leads to a sentiment that the advocated rhetoric portrayed by today’s commentators of Islam have a different intent than the stated rhetoric. The Muslims are able to see past the rhetoric and the commentators know the agenda behind such rhetoric, and the people caught in the middle are the general masses of people in the western audience and the intellectually inept among those who claim to be Muslims and cannot see past the foggy rhetoric.

With regards to dress, again, these are issues where the each gender are allowed and not allowed certain applications. The women cannot uncover herself just as the man cannot wear silk. The parts of a woman are not to be exposed just as parts of the man are not to be exposed. And with all honesty, the majority of the Muslim populace do not place emphasis on these issues as their non-Muslim counterparts do. The only pocket of Muslims that do feel mutually with their non-Muslim counterparts is pretty much the revisionist school whose intellectual framework is based on western philosophy rather than the Islamic paradigm. The problem the western audience has is when their respective media only voices the views of those it desires to present among these revisionists ideologues as to portray them as the sentiments of the Muslim world at large.

As for independence, the woman in Islam is free as can be. The only issue which Islam organized a legal code as a restriction for the woman is with regards to travel due to the properties of traveling and its effect. Outside of this, the women is allowed everything else, rights which the western world did not accord its women until no more than seven decades ago

The debate is growing as to whether sharia can coexist with secularism, democracy, or even modernity.

The problem that Muslims decipher from this quote is that those who utter such remarks are stated under a rigid bias. Furthermore, these are three distinct realities, one being an ideology, one being the application of rule, and the other being a cultural value and thus each has to be addressed on their own merit rather than conflating them together.

Shariah cannot co-exist with secularism. Since secularism is the motto for which and by which the emerging New World Order or the “New Secular Order” is bent on implementing, then the two will never co-exist. Muslims do not want secularism in their countries and what they find themselves having are a bunch of U.S. backed despots who base their systems on secular codes. If secular countries allow minority communities to implement shariah, then this is different and that would be great and it will enrich the life of the Muslims in these western communities.

Continuing with the report

Sharia developed several hundred years after the Prophet Mohammed’s death in 632 CE as the Islamic empire expanded to the edge of North Africa in the West and to China in the East.

This is a deficient explanation. The Shariah did not develop several hundred years after the prophet, the shariah was completed and finalized by the revelation and mission of the prophet Muhammad. After his depature from life, there can be no addition to the shariah. The only thing that the shariah of Muhammad allotted for was the ijtihaad, or the deductive legal reasoning of Muslim jurists to be incorporated into the Shariah. This in the western legal framework is tantamount to the concept of “borrowed authority” where the authority is primarily the one who has it, and the commanding officer who does not have the authority in and of himself only validates his position based on the permission of the authoritative officer. Likewise, the Muslim jurists who initiates a newly formed verdict that was not addressed by the shariah of Muhammad is utilizing the permission that the shariah granted the mujtahidoon (the Muslim jurists) to sign the verdict on behalf of Allah or the Messenger of Allah. All that the shariah did after the time of the prophet Muhammad alaihi salatu salam is that it went through a codification process.

Controversy: Punishment and Equality under Sharia

Marriage and divorce are the most significant aspects of sharia, but criminal law is the most controversial. In sharia, there are categories of offenses: those that are prescribed a specific punishment in the Quran, known as hadd punishments, those that fall under a judge’s discretion, and those resolved through a tit-for-tat measure (ie., blood money paid to the family of a murder victim). There are five hadd crimes: unlawful sexual intercourse (sex outside of marriage and adultery), false accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse, wine drinking (sometimes extended to include all alcohol drinking), theft, and highway robbery. Punishments for hadd offenses–flogging, stoning, amputation, exile, or execution–get a significant amount of media attention when they occur. These sentences are not often prescribed, however. “In reality, most Muslim countries do not use traditional classical Islamic punishments,” says Ali Mazrui of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies in a Voice of America interview. These punishments remain on the books in some countries but lesser penalties are often considered sufficient.

These are no more controversial than treason law in the United States, or criminal law as well in the U.S. or even the crime of insubordination in military law, which result in the “walk the plank” outcomes, which have now been modernized to merely shooting the soldier without any warning.

Despite official reluctance to use hadd punishments, vigilante justice still takes place. Honor killings, murders committed in retaliation for bringing dishonor on one’s family, are a worldwide problem. While precise statistics are scarce, the UN estimates thousands of women are killed annually in the name of family honor (National Geographic).

Honor killings are not from the Islamic shariah. In fact the shariah of Islam has clarified vigilantism as a form of “muharaba” or a type of terrorism. However, the existence secularism an its adoption in the legal code of Muslim countries and the abandonment of the shariah has a great liability in the existence of honor killings. If the shariah of Islam were to be implemented as a legislative code, then the people would not feel the need to take on this form of vigilantism themselves and the state will produce some conducive and state sponsored investigation into crimes instead of simple family members partaking in such unIslamic acts.

Other practices that are woven into the sharia debate, such as female genital mutilation,

Female genital mutilation does not have a sanction in the shariah as well. There is a varied difference between basic circumcision and genital mutilation altogether. What happens in Muslim countries is that the shariah code is defied and they implement their customary practice of completely mutilating the genital of females and thinking these are shariah based ordainments. Adding to this, we have pundits who take the initiative of the situation and try to advocate that Islam is the source of this unIslamic practice.

adolescent marriages,

again, this is an issue of allowance more than an issue of obligation. The people who rest their entire lives on such discussions have a view that what occurs as a practice by some is somehow an issue where Islam mandates such an action when it was an issue of allowance along with other outside factors and variables that affect the situation as well like consent, environmental attitude that create mental based difference between a gender of a particular culture vs the same gender of another culture.


The same rule applies here where the allowance of it is being attacked and being manufactured as an obligation. Moreover, this is an issue for those who adhere to secular liberal ideologies and is not really an issue to the average people of the world.

and gender-biased inheritance rules, elicit as much controversy.

One should read it as “gender BASED” rules and that should clear up the implicated misconception inherent in the statement.

There is significant debate over what the Quran sanctions and what practices were pulled from local customs and predate Islam. Those that seek to eliminate or at least modify these controversial practices cite the religious tenet of tajdid.

The problem with those who advocate this is that tajdid is being passed as “islah”. This is because tajdid, lexically, is to revive what was whereas islah is to reform and the reformists deceptively pass the advocacy of reform under the guise of tajdid. A revivalists movement or a “tajdidi” movement is the example of Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, who is commonly ascribed by those who hate Islam from within the Muslim populace and beyond the Muslim populace as being the founder of the “wahhabi” movement. It is this movement which is a revivalist movement and it is completely antithetical the the reformist movement because the essence of revivalists movements within Islam is to revive the orthodox way of Islam whereas the reformist movements in Islam is to liberate Muslims from the orthodox way of Islam.

The concept is one of renewal, where Islamic society must be reformed constantly to keep it in its purest form. “With the passage of time and changing circumstances since traditional classical jurisprudence was founded, people’s problems have changed and conversely, there must be new thought to address these changes and events,” says Dr. Abdul Fatah Idris, head of the comparative jurisprudence department at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Though many scholars share this line of thought, there are those who consider the purest form of Islam to be the one practiced in the seventh century.

Again, this is an express sentiment of those who have a defunct theory of orthodoxy in Islam. How does an entity keep within its purest form under the clause of constantly being reformed?  The supposition of this thought pattern is the essence of an oxymoron. Every way of life, every system of thought has to have a basis from which and by which additions or subtractions can be made. If the basis is itself reformed, then what we have is nothing more than intellectual/ideological anarchism. \What becomes problematic in the view of Muslims is that no system of belief, ideology, political order, or society is being forced to change its basis. The only system of belief in which outside pressure is being exerted is for Islam itself, its basis, to be reformed and changed for something new. In our view, people can have the luxury of doing what they want, but they cannot call whatever they come up with as “Islam”.

The added flavor of intellectual ineptitude is when people logically utilize the basis of Islam are demonized or passed off as those who are quarantined to a seventh century way of life.  The Muslim world at large are of course intelligent enough to understand this rather Machiavellian approach that confessed “refomists” take in siding with non Muslim ideological advocates place on traditionalist thought.

In continuing, it states

Sharia vs. Secularism

In a 2007 University of Maryland poll (PDF), more than 60 percent of the populations in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia responded that democracy was a good way to govern their respective countries, while at the same time, an average of 71 percent agreed with requiring “strict application of [sharia] law in every Islamic country.”

This is because the people whom the poll was administered upon, are of the classical view of what democracy is, which is something alien to the western, particularly American experience where we as a country have been under a plutocracy since 1914 where the power of the nation shifted from the nation into the Federal Reserve, a private company by private citizens in the business of profit, and the decision makers form the basis of an oligarchy while professedly advocating to the general public that it is based on a democracy, which is something the original founders fought to free the people from as they desired a “republic” and it is this classic view that those who were part of this poll have viewed democracy as, as a republic.

This is what tarnishes America as a great scam and giant hypocrite because its populace runs under the nuance that it is a democracy and its chief decision makers form policies that contradict the basis of a democracy and coincide with an oligarchy. And people of other regions of the world also fall victim to the hoax of the “democratic” nature of its foreign policy and thus find themselves appalled by U.S. foreign policy because these people as well are unaware of the powers that be in the power structure of the United States.

Whether democracy and Islam can coexist is a topic of heated debate. Some Islamists argue democracy is a purely Western concept imposed on Muslim countries. Others feel Islam necessitates a democratic system and that democracy has a basis in the Quran since “mutual consultation” among the people is commended (42:38 Quran). John L. Esposito and John O. Voll explain the debate in a 2001 article in the journal Humanities.

The basis for those who tend to equate democracy to Islam ias based on the Islamic concept of “shoorah” or “administrative counsel” or “consultative theory”. What demarcates the Islamic concept of shoorah with democracy is that shoorah is the consultative verdicts of those in the position to give consultation, which means this includes only the elite of those in knowledge and piety and thus excludes everyone else, which is essentially opposite of democracy. Moreover, the one in charge is in the position of either expending such consultative advice or to deny applying such advice, thus making the leader in charge the sovereign ruler, again which is in complete defiance of the rules of democracy where those in charge are obliged to acquiesce and implement the decision of its citizenry.

Noah Feldman, CFR adjunct senior fellow, writes in a 2008 New York Times Magazine article that the full incorporation of Islamic law is viewed as creating “a path to just and legitimate government in much of the Muslim world.” It places duplicitous rulers alongside their constituents under the rule of God. “For many Muslims today, living in corrupt autocracies, the call for [sharia] is not a call for sexism, obscurantism or savage punishment but for an Islamic version of what the West considers its most prized principle of political justice: the rule of law,” Feldman argues.

If this is what Feldman views, then we will investigate this, however this is one o the far and few statements of reason and fairness that is rarely expressed in the corporate sponsored media.

On the other hand, some Muslim scholars say that secular government is the best way to observe sharia.

This is problematic because in Islamic theology, secularism is a form of apostasy whereby the adherent to secularism or the one who espouses secularism, or the one who agrees with the precepts of secularism has left the fold of Islam.

“Enforcing a [sharia] through coercive power of the state negates its religious nature, because Muslims would be observing the law of the state and not freely performing their religious obligation as Muslims,” says Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, a professor of law at Emory University and author of a book on the future of sharia.

This becomes problematic for this Abdullah Ahmad Naim because what he claims is the stripping of Muslims to perform the religious obligations freely is something the companions of the prophet Muhammad were antithetical towards. It is the Islamic belief that there should be no day on the planet where the planet is free from a state of Shariah and so far, since the time of the prophet Muhammad, the world has not seen a state of shariah for not only one day, but for the last 87 years as of now. Furthermore, if the laws of the state are synonymous with the religious obligations enjoined upon the Muslims, then the defunct argument that Abdullah Ahmad Naim provides is nonsensical and irrelevant since observing the laws of the state is in essence the worship of their Lord and in full sincerity to their Lord. Furthermore, the purpose of the shariah in legislation is to provide and secure safety and prosperity which is why Muslims desire for the shariah to be implemented as law and never do the Muslims entertain the idea of secularism.

Download PDF: Islam- Governing Under Shariah