REDDA AND SHARIA LAW
Philosophical debate occupied a great deal of time and was a leisurely recreation in ancient Greece. Philosophers, such as Plato, would gather at the Acropolis to debate various topics, often to the point of absurdity.
On one occasion, a debate stirred between two antagonists, of which, one challenged the other, claiming that the man was incapable of turning to the side and taking the eight steps forward necessary to depart from the Acropolis. The individual was only too willing to give a physical demonstration to the contrary, when his opponent interrupted to ask if, before taking eight steps forward, it would not be necessary to first take four steps forward.
“Yes,” the man agreed, “it would indeed be necessary to go half the distance prior to taking the full eight steps.”
“But, before doing that, would you not first have to take two steps forward?” the other man asked.
“How about one step? One-half step? One-quarter step? 1/8th, 1/16th, 1/32nd, 1/64th, 1/128th, 1/256th . . . .?”
And, it is said that, by the time the debate was over, it became necessary to carry the man out of the Acropolis, as he was no longer convinced of his ability to walk out. Perhaps the only point that the philosophers had ultimately made was that philosophy itself is inadequate to define life in its practical nature.
Regardless of the above, various sophists would gather on a daily basis to challenge one another on a variety of points. One of the most popular topics was the question of just what was the most efficient form of government. This question became hotly debated, particularly among the people of Athens and Sparta.
The city of Athens had become quite prosperous, mostly attributable to their proto-capitalistic philosophy of government, which gave each individual the right to establish a livelihood or business free from government intervention. The city flourished financially as a result, and thus, the Athenians maintained that personal freedom was the most important ingredient in establishing a good government. However, as a result of their own prosperity, the Athenians had developed a reputation for being self-centered, lazy, physically weak, and immoral.
By contrast, the Spartans took great pride in their ability to adhere to rigid requirements, particularly in their training for athletic competition. The most popular philosophers among the Spartans were known as Stoics. The latter taught that the Bacchus gods (that is, any sort of temptation or appetite such as a lust for food, sex, wealth, personal comfort, or even the desire to be loved) ultimately control one’s life. The Stoics saw it as a weakness for a person to show emotion, as this would imply that their own environment had control over them. Thus, it was seen as weakness for a man to cry or to, in any way, alter his stringent daily training so as to display affection for another.
There is a story told of a young Spartan soldier who secretly kept a pet kitten in his tent. When officials came to check the tent, the boy quickly grabbed the cat and placed it under his breastplate. The officials questioned him about the rumor that he had a pet and the boy staunchly denied it and demonstrated no emotion despite the fact that the frightened cat was clawing away at his chest in an attempt to escape. Finally, the boy fell over from blood loss and the cat was revealed. Oddly, the Spartans proclaimed the boy as a hero – not because he had succumbed to the desire to have a pet or because he had lied about its presence, but rather because he had displayed such incredible tolerance to pain and had not even shed a tear, while enduring intense agony.
As a result of this, the Spartans implemented a rigid legal system designed to enforce morality. Only by restricting freedom, it was argued, could a government protect its people from moral corruption. They snarled at the lazy Athenians who, they maintained, had become corrupted by pleasure.
The above demonstrates much of the great divide that exists between America and the Muslim world. Americans take great pride in being “the land of the free.” “From every mountaintop, let freedom ring,” the Americans proudly sing, while Muslim clerics shout that such freedoms have left the Americans free to live a life that is often characterized by debauchery.
Recently, the Iranian dictator, Akhmadinejad, boasted to the faculty and students at Columbia University that, unlike America, Iran does not have a problem with drunkenness, drug addiction, pornography, adultery, rape, homosexuality, or pedophilia. Now, to a great degree, he was right. America does have these problems, often rampantly, while Iran is seemingly free of them. How could they avoid such problems? Well, the drunk, the drug addict, the porn addict, and the sex pervert are all randomly rounded up and executed in Iran before they can corrupt the youth.
The Ayatollah Khomeini labeled the United States as “The Great Satan” for this reason. By that, he did not intend to imply that the devil had become incarnate in American legislators. Rather, he was saying that Satan does not have the ability to overpower the people of God, but rather that he conquers by tempting people to yield to temptation.
Now, at first glance, it appears that Akhmadinejad is right. It would be nice if we could get the drunks, the drug dealers, the pedophiles, and the rapists off the street. So, why not incorporate the Sharia Law that many Muslim countries have opted for?
Well, let’s consider, for example, the following principles from some of the more stringent forms of Sharia Law and note the often-corrupt way in which they are legislated.
~ Regarding Marriage to Children ~
‘Umdat al-Salik, section m8.2 states, “A guardian may not marry his prepubescent daughter to someone else for less than the amount typically received as marriage payment by similar brides.” In other words, if you decide to give your daughter in marriage before she has reached puberty, then make sure you are well paid for it. Now, what sort of morality is that? – the capacity to remain chaste if he or she . . . “is prepubescent at the time of marital intercourse.” ‘Umdat al-Salik, section o12.2
~ Regarding Marriage ~
‘Umdat al-Salik, section m6.7 states, “It is not lawful or valid for a Muslim man to be married to any woman who is not either a Muslim, Christian, or Jew; nor is it lawful or valid for a Muslim woman to be married to anyone besides a Muslim.”
~ Regarding Husband—Wife Relations ~
‘Umdat al-Salik, section m10.12 states, “It is not lawful for a wife to leave the house except by the permission of her husband, though she may do so without permission when there is a pressing necessity. Nor may a wife permit anyone to enter her husband’s home unless he agrees, even their marriageable kin. Nor may she be alone with a non-family member male under any circumstances.”
~ Regarding Religious Freedom ~
‘Umdat al-Salik, section o8.1 states, “When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasies from Islam, he deserves to be killed.” Section o8.4 states, “There is no indemnity for killing an apostate.” Section o1.0 has Muhammad saying, “The blood of a Muslim man who testifies that there is not god but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah is not lawful to shed unless he is one who abandons his religion and the Muslim community.”
Please note that the entirety of this latter law runs contrary to the Qu’ran itself. Note the comments of Muslim scholar Riffat Hassan:
The greatest guarantee of personal freedom for a Muslim lies in the Qu’ranic decree that no one other than God can limit human freedom (Surah 42, Ash-Shura 21), and in the statement that “Judgment (as to what is right and what is wrong) rests with God alone” (Surah 12, Yusuf 40). Since the principle of mutual consultation (“shura”) is mandatory (Surah 42, Ash-Shura 38), it is a Muslim’s fundamental right, as well as responsibility, to participate in as many aspects of the community’s life as possible.
The Qu’ranic proclamation in Surah 2, Al-Baqarah 256 states, “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith” guarantees freedom of religion and worship. This means that, according to Qu’ranic teaching, non-Muslims, living in Muslim territories, should have the freedom to follow their own faith-traditions without fear or harassment. A number of Qu’ranic passages state clearly that the responsibility of the Prophet Muhammad is to communicate the message of God and not to compel anyone to believe. The right to exercise free choice in matters of belief is unambiguously endorsed by the Qu’ran in Surah 18, Al-Kahf 29, which states, “The Truth is from your Lord: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it).”
The Qu’ran, also, makes clear that God will judge human beings, not on the basis of what they profess, but on the basis of their belief and righteous conduct, as indicated by Surah 2, Al-Baqarah 62 which states:
Those who believe (in the Qu’ran) and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward saith the Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
The Qu’ran recognizes the right to religious freedom, not only in the case of other believers in God, but also in the case of non-believers in God (if they are not aggressive toward Muslims). For instance, Surah 6, Al-An’am 108 states,
Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did. (Religious Human Rights in the Qu’ran; Emory International Law Review, Riffat Hassan, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1996, p. 361-386)
So, the real question here is whether or not implementing Sharia Law and basically becoming a police state is the best way to achieve morality. First, it is clear that the Muslim must cease to adhere to his own religion in order to defend Sharia Law. You see, the Qu’ran upholds the Biblical principle that morality and personal integrity, rather than being personal elements that can be legislated by government, are things that must be gotten from a personal relationship with loving parents, friends, and ultimately from a loving God.
However, as we pointed out in the Open Letter:
. . . we recognize the likelihood that there would be great disagreement over just how we could accomplish these goals. For example, some might conclude that the best way to remove pornography from a society is to kill the pornographer. This would run contrary to Christian teachings, as we would instead seek to change the pornographer’s heart with the Good News that God loves him. This may or may not run contrary to Muslim practice but, with all that the Qu’ran has to say about the mercy of God, it seems unlikely. Nonetheless, we see an incredible opportunity for both groups to come together as a force for good.
Ultimately, it is impossible to legislate morality. We saw this in the actions of the 9/11 terrorists. As I would state near the end of the dialogue in Baltimore:
Many have insisted that legislation such as Sharia Law is the answer – a state enforced morality. Folks, it doesn’t work. A child does, in fact, need a certain degree of discipline. However, particularly as they grow older, they also need a degree of freedom and trust. If there is too much freedom, they grow up to be irresponsible. If there is too much discipline, they very often grow up to be rebellious. We saw this in the actions of the 9/11 terrorists during the time they were in the United States preparing for the attacks. Here were individuals who had been raised up under Sharia Law living in the midst of the so-called “Great Satan.” You would have thought that they, of all people, would have lived moral lives in our midst. But, no. They relished the chance to live in a free society. And, they carried it to extreme. They sampled the very worst that America has to offer. They spent most of their time in strip joints, bars, and in the company of prostitutes. Why? Because the strictness of Sharia Law had not made them morally strong, but had rather caused them to rebel.
You see, the best way to produce moral children is not to place a battalion of soldiers around them to enforce proper and acceptable behavior, but rather for their parents to love them and to live the sort of life in their presence that they would want them to live. Now, every child has a free will, so there will be struggles along the way. But, the family, and not the government, is the best method of training and developing godly children.