Thursday, August 10, 2017

'Islam is in a transformative process'

    Thursday, August 10, 2017   No comments

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im
Muslims feel conflicted about certain aspects of historical Islam, says the Islamic scholar Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im. How does the notion of Sharia fit within the idea of a secular state?
Sharia in a secular state -  isn't that a contradiction in terms?
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im: The question is: what does one mean by Sharia? People tend to think of the legal end of it, as if that is the whole principle of Sharia. But Sharia consists of the whole normative system of Islam founded in the Koran, the Sunna and the hadith, or tradition of the Prophet. So it is not possible - even in a secular state - to deny Muslims the right to turn to Sharia to answer questions such as how to pray or how to fast.   

Sharia cannot be enforced by the state anywhere. There is absolutely no possibility to enact Sharia as a law of the state whether it be in a so-called "Muslim majority country" or a tiny Muslim minority anywhere. The nature of Sharia defies codification. It is about the interpretation that people choose through their own conviction.

So what is Sharia for you?
Sharia provides moral guidance for Muslim individuals. State and religion should be clearly separated. For me, as a Muslim, I need the state to be secular so that I can practice Islam through conviction and choice. The need of the state to be secular derives from an Islamic point of view; it has nothing to do with the European Enlightenment. The state has nothing to do with my being a believer or an atheist.

If state and religion are to be clearly separated, what role can religion play in public discourse?

I make a distinction between the state and politics. The state has nothing to do with Islam, but politics is a field where religion is always relevant. You cannot keep religion out of politics. Just like the CDU [editor's note: Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats] in Germany believes that its political platform is inspired by Christianity, believers - whatever their religion - act politically out of their conviction as believers. Whether you ban Sharia from politics or not, Muslims will continue to act in ways that are consistent with their understanding of Sharia. You cannot prevent that possibility unless you disenfranchise Muslims. source...

Ed Isr

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