The recent victory of Taliban in capturing Kabul on Sunday 15 August 2021, along with the other cities in Afghanistan, made some people happy throughout the globe and many others worried.
It is being speculated that the impending application of the Shari’ah law in Afghanistan, would lead the Afghan Muslims and particularly, the Afghan women, towards ‘barbaric dark ages’.
According to some, it would reverse the gains of the last 20 years led by the American and NATO invasion and occupation of this poor nation since 2001!
Given the freshness of the wound inflicted and the associated sensitivities, we deliberately avoid to make any finding as to who was right and who was wrong in this invasion, occupation and the subsequent sudden withdrawal.
In order to avoid the casualties of soldiers, fighters and the civilians, however, it was indeed a smart move that the Afghan Army commanders negotiated their surrender to the Taliban with the aim to avoid the widespread bloodshed.
The fact that various key cities fell to the Taliban quickly without resistance was the best outcome for ordinary Afghan people. Islam stands for peace and to avoid conflict.
The mission of Prophet Muhammad (s) has been nominated by the Qur’an 21:107, as the “the blessings for the entire universe” (رحمة للعالمين) and not exclusively for Muslims.
The challenge now for the Taliban government is to prove that the Islamic rule does guarantee the peace, safety and security for all citizens under their rule in Afghanistan, including the freedom of choice and religion for the non-Muslims.
If the Taliban’s approach to the application of the Sahri’ah is driven by the blind folded copying of the traditional Hanafi Fiqh of the past, it would be bound to fail to secure the needs, necessities, and comforts of modern day society.
However, should their quest be to dig out the dynamic, pragmatic and contemporary Islamic expertise, both in the domain of Islamic political and legal sciences, such expertise are available, on a global scale, in abundance!
The mandatory prelude
In engaging with the various aspects of Islamic legality, this article dwells only on the main and the original sources of the Shari’ah law i.e. the Qur’an and the authentic Hadith.
The Qur’an does not obviously need an introduction or definition. But the Hadith is defined as ‘the words, actions or deliberate reinstatement (of a practice or an action of others), by Prophet Muhammad (s).
A Hadith must also be proven by an authentic chain of the narrator/s, that it indeed was stated or reinstated by the Prophet himself. In an Islamic legal setting however, the Hadith either analyses, interprets or contributes to the Qur’an being applied in a contemporary life- setting.
In this sense, the Hadith is the secondary source of the Islamic Law ie ranked after the Qur’an. To keep up with the legal requirement thus, both the Qur’an and the Hadith must be read in a holistic approach and not in a piecemeal sense!
The Islamic Fiqh, meaning the applied Islamic Jurisprudence at various times in the past, is an important Islamic legal tool to comprehend the main two sources of the Shari’ah ie the Qur’an and the Hadith.
But given the differences in time and space elements, the traditional Fiqh of the past must not be applied and copied, at a later time, space or on a society, verbatim!
The comprehension of the Sharia’h therefore, has to accommodate the finding of solutions for the issues and challenges in a given time and place.
The onus for it is on the contemporary Islamic scholarship of the law and legality. The most useful tool in this space however, is to utilise effectively, the legal instrument of “Securing the evolving cases of public interests by providing the custom made solutions” (مصا لح مرسلة).
The applied approach to Shari’ah
The securing of ever evolving public interests has to be accommodated within the main frame of the following Qur’anic dictums: “God intends to make life easy for you and He does not intend to make not difficult.” (يريد الله بكم اليسر، ولا يريد بكم العسر) (Qur’an 2:185).
In another resounding theme also, the Qur’an dictates: “God intends to make your life light and bearable for you, because the humans are created weak.” (يريد الله أن يخفف عنكم، وخلق الانسان ضعيفا) (Qur’an 03:28)
The above approach to the Qur’an and to the Shari’ah, has been truly reflected in the following authentic Hadith by A’yesha (r), the wife of the Prophet (s): “Whenever the Prophet was given an option to choose between the two solutions, without a variation, he would opt for the easier one”. (Sahih Bukhari Hadith No 6126 and Sahih Muslim Hadith No. 2327)
Obviously, no one would have known the Prophet (P) more than his wife!
Logically thus, devising the ‘easy’ and the ‘light’ rulings must be the custom made fit for ‘the weak humans’ that God has created! Obviously, similar to what we call today the ‘default setting’, the Creator knows the best!
It provides a huge legal mandate for the scholars of various times, in proper utilisation of which they must not fail. None of the revealing, yet legal terms used in the above verses, ie ‘easy’, ‘difficult’ ‘light’ and ‘human weakness’, are defined in the Qur’an.
By default thus, the room for a vast legal provision has been accommodated in these verses, for the scholars of the day, place and time, to deduce the relevant Islamic rulings, as they see fit!
Understood in their true contexts, these verses lay down the universal principle of Islam to accommodate the ever-evolving public needs and interests of humanity at all times and places.
With such a holistic, pragmatic and universal understanding of this revealed Book, the Qur’an would prove to the just and fair-minded that ‘the mission of Islam is indeed, the blessing for the entire universe and the mankind.’ (وما ارسلناك الا رحمة للعالمين) (Qur’an: 21:107)
In this role and context, the traditional Fiqh is an important Islamic legal heritage to guide the contemporary legal scholars of Islam in shaping up their legal thoughts and processes.
But, the traditional Fiqh is not however, an independent source of the Shari’ah Law. It is therefore, incumbent upon the contemporary legal scholars of Islam, to come up with the custom made, documented and dynamic solutions of their own times, places, circumstances and challenges.
The Qur’an is bound to deliver on this. But whether, the Taliban would undertake the journey, the time will tell!