31 January 2007

Young Muslims & Sharia Law

A recent poll in the UK reports "one in three British Muslims aged between 18 and 24 said they would rather live under Sharia law than under British law."

As far as I can tell, nothing is stopping these young Muslims from following the dictates of Sharia law (just as nothing is stopping the Olin students from finishing early - see previous post). They can wear the headscarves, avoid pork, worship, fast during Ramadan, marry one wife, give to charity, etc, etc. OK, so they can't amputate the hands of theives, but is that the part of Sharia they really miss the most?

My impression is not that these young believers want to live under Sharia law so much as they want the people around them to do so. I suspect they don't want their own hands amputated if they steal something - they want it to happen to someone else.

The bottom line is not so much that they want Sharia law to be applied to themselves, because they can do that already. They actually are expressing a desire to enforce Sharia law on people who do not want it and who do not believe as they do. That's the part that bugs me...

Of course, the other possibility is that we're misunderstanding the poll results. Maybe what they mean by Sharia law is something other than the popular understanding I've described here. Maybe they're just saying they would rather live by God's laws than Man's. As a Christian, I'd be hard pressed to disagree with that sentiment... although in practice they are actually pursuing their own interpretation & understanding of God's law, and placing more trust in human being's ability to govern & judicate than the British legal/political system ever does.

Postscript from "What Is Sharia?" by Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq:
The Shari'ah is thus nothing less than the divinely ordained way of life for man. To realise the divine will, man must follow the Shari'ah. To live in Islam is to live according to the Shari'ah. To give up the Shari'ah or any part of it knowingly, wilfully or deliberately is to give up Islam. A Muslim must therefore do his utmost to observe and to implement the whole of it, wherever and in whatever situation he finds himself. Hence the Muslim insistence, persistence, commitment and passion for it.


Dick Field said...

Dan - The results could also mean that one in three feels unassimilated - even alienated - and therefore aligned with his/her origins, while twice as many feel assimilated and aligned with their new circumstances. Minority populations, even Muslim ones, are not homogenous.

Dan said...

Good point - and I imagine even among that 1 in 3 category (clearly a minority of a minority) reasons are divided for prefering Sharia over British law.

It is amazing how such a small slice of a small population can make such big headlines... and even more amazing is the likelihood that we don't really understand what that small group of young people is actually saying.

Passante said...

Dan, I completely agree. I speak as a British subject, and as far as I can tell, people in Britain can follow whatever religion they like (or no religion at all) as long as their practices don't argue with civil law. That does mean that Muslims can't exactly live by ALL of Sharia law if that means amputating the hands of people who steal or stoning adulterous wives to death. British law doesn't look too kindly on stuff like that.

But hey, that's the price you pay for moving away from home. You live somewhere and you live by that jurisdiction's customs and legal practices.

I do not believe in capital punishment, but I live in the state of Virginia which is extremely enthusiastic about topping people. If I take it into my head to murder someone in Virginia and am condemned to death, I don't think I have the right to bitch that it's against my principles and those of my native country. If that's my position, I ought to hop a plane to the U.K. and murder someone there.

Dan said...

Thanks for the British perspective! Great comments on the death penalty - would be an interesting defense to try (But your honor, I don't believe in capitol punishment...)

Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq said...

Dear Mr. Ward,

Peace and greetings.

Let me take this opportunity to convey my appreciation for your excellent blog.

I just came across a posting "Young Muslims and Sharia Law" at your blog, in which there is also a reference to one of my summary write-ups.

Unfortunately, the way it is presented in reference to me, it might give the impression that those might be my thoughts. Instead, those are taken from a collection of excerpts from various writers about Shariah, about which I have a rather different view.

I invite you to take a look at a more nuanced, scholarly writing on this topic: "Shari'ah, Laws and Islam: Legalism vs. Value-orientation" [http://globalwebpost.com/farooqm/writings/islamic/shariah_value.doc].
The excerpt referring to me is the kind of misunderstanding about Shariah that prompted to write the essay mentioned above. It is not short, but it might be worth-reading, and referring to in connection with that posting at your blog.

I can be reached directly at farooqm@globalwebpost.com.

Best regards and keep up the good work.

Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
Upper Iowa University