Islam – Since observed everywhere

Bazar of Athens when Greece was under the Ottoman empire, Edward Dodwell, 1821

A friend of mine once said, ‘Muslims are the only people that bring God into every part of their lives.

To me this statement is everything the Western Enlightenment project came to represent. Namely, the rejection of any authority into the lives of any individual, and the advancement of the individual self beyond reproach by any authority above it. Islam as a religion differs from all other religions in the sense that it is a way of life (dīn) encompassing all aspects of your life. Islamic Law (Shar’iah) as it was traditionally done was not merely found in the books of the jurists, it was ‘…but rather the outcome of a malleable and sensitive application of rules in a complete social setting. To know what Islamic law was, therefore, is to know how actual Muslim societies of the past lived it; but most certainly it is not merely the law as abstracted in the books of jurists.’, ‘Over the past two centuries or so, the Shari’ah has been transformed from a worldly institution and culture to a textuality, namely, a body of texts that is entirely stripped of its social and sociological context – its ecological environment, so to speak.’ (An Introduction to Islamic Law by Waell B. Hallaq), the Shari’ah became reduced to the area of personal status, child custody, inheritance and gifts as the colonists did not want to upset the natives by taking away everything from them. However, the Shari’ah traditionally operated outside of the control of the Caliph and so when nation states developed and law was politicised it could no longer accept a body of law that was outside of its grasp. So it certainly makes you wonder to what extent Shari’ah is applicable in an environment such as Britain and to what power and authority it can yield. But in large there is little to no doubt that Muslims are a theocentric people that are largely living in an ‘enchanted world’ contrary to the ‘unenchanted world’ inhabited by the rest of the world.

For Muslims God anchors our morality. As the great Imam Muhammad Abdullah Draz writes in his book, The Moral Word of the Qur’an, ‘Any moral doctrine worthy of the name is essentially based on the idea of obligation…For, without obligation, there is no responsibility and without responsibility, there can be no return to justice…’ If Muslims do not bring God into every thing that they do, then under what system do individuals govern their lives? If they do so under the guise of Liberalism, then Liberalism is far more insidious then any other system. In his book, Why Liberalism Failed, Patrick J. Deneen writes, ‘…as an ideology, it (i.e. liberalism) pretends to neutrality, claiming no preference and denying any intention of shaping the souls under its rule.’ I wonder how an individual who does not want to involve God in every or any aspect of their life manages to establish what is objectively right or wrong. Put simply, they cannot. If their attempt is to not seek objectivity, then as Alastair Macintyre in, After Virtue writes, ‘Emotivism is the doctrine that all evaluative judgements and more specifically all moral judgements are nothing but expressions of preference, expressions of attitude or feeling, insofar as they are moral or evaluative in character.’

Now bringing God into a conversation that is ultimately divisive is wrong. Especially where there is room for varying opinions. No one should fall out with another to such an extent that they become hostile to one another. Where they begin to behave in a manner not befitting the character of a Muslim, then there is little doubt that this wrong. It is observable that only amongst a select few do discussions rarely take a more current stand. Where discussions of Islam’s role in the modern world take place and modern problems are given solutions inspired by the Islamic narrative. If such discussions occurred more commonly then we would have no problem asserting God’s presence in our lives, there would be no need of inferiority in the face of the Secular Liberal order that reigns, but reigns not supreme.

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