This should start a good discussion inshAllah, let me know your thoughts!
“And if it is true and it has proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely both its people and its livestock. Gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a - whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt.” Bible, Deuteronomy 13: 12-16
This statement coming from the Bible, can be argued is the basis for the illegal and unjust war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are not George Bush and Tony Blair self proclaimed Christians? Aren't their motivations for the war in the Muslim world inspired by the almighty himself? This statement can also be taken as an evidence or indication for the barbarous, intolerant, violent and unjust aspects of law in the UK - as lawmakers have claimed that it is based upon the Judaeo-Christian heritage - can it not?
Well, you may answer by saying, “Hold on one moment! You can not make these statements; you have to understand the context. You have to take into account other well known principles and concepts. You have to see the bigger picture. Before you make assumptions and swiping statements you have to acquire all the tools necessary in order to extract laws and legislation. You are no lawmaker, you are no scholar!”
Muslims would agree. If these above responses are valid, intelligent and mature then equally we should all proceed with this approach when trying to understand Islam.
The Islamic punishments system can not be viewed from a secular perspective. This is due to two main reasons. Firstly, both Islam and Secularism are ways of life based upon different values therefore perspectives on crime and punishment will be very different. For example in secular British law a citizen is not punished if they neglected a stranger who was drowning, however in Islamic law the bystander would be punished for not attempting to rescue the victim.
Differences in values and perspectives can also be seen in secular states. In secular Britain, paedophilia is described as having sexual intercourse with a minor which is defined as under the age of 16, whereas in secular Greece it is 12.
Islamic punishments are harsh, but we completely reject the accusation that these rules are barbaric. They serve as a deterrent to ward off the occurrence of crime in society, something which our societies - of increased violent crime, murder and rape - need today.
In summary, different values and cultures give rise to different perspectives.
Secondly, Islamic law is dynamic and interconnected. It is a holistic and comprehensive system. Viewing the Islamic punishments in isolation is equivalent of viewing life prison sentences as a punishment on the criminals family without understanding the wider context of how secular governments attempt to solve this issue.
Take the punishment for theft in Islam as an example. The punishment for theft in Islam is dependent upon:
* Just Islamic economic laws where food, shelter and clothing is guaranteed by the State, hence no one will get punished if the theft was committed due to need
* The existence of God consciousness in society via the education system and media
* The State not promoting excessive materialism. Secular capitalist States, such as Britain, allow marketing campaigns which promote debt, via subliminal advertising – which is considered unjust and illegal under Islamic law
This follows a process where people are truly innocent until proven guilty and much higher levels of proof are needed than in any western court. Islamic law actually gives the defendant greater basic rights, but also recognises that the community has rights, which Islamic law exists to protect. This point seems to have been lost in Britain today.
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