04.10.2004Emran Qureshi - Heba Raouf EzzatAre Sharia Laws and Human Rights Compatible?
I do not limit the Sharia to a political ideology, but instead view it as a solution, one that encompasses the public and private spheres and centralizes around civil and individual values. Civil morality and civic virtues have been, and will continue to be, central to the future manifestation of Islam.
These are rooted in a solid system of socio-economic welfare advocated by Islamic jurists over centuries, in which the average citizen is empowered and in which the grass root politics of presence is stronger than the elitist politics of representation.
If today there is an "over-legalization" of the concept of Sharia - I am referring to abuses in the name of the Sharia - one cannot only blame the Islamists. The spread of global capitalism and its impact on human rights should be ignored in this discussion, because for many Islamists - apart from the Salafis and Wahhabis who defend a puritan and exclusive understanding of the Sharia which they want to impose on Muslims and non-Muslims alike - Sharia presents a form of resistance to the global capitalist order which they feel is infringing on their communal and national rights.
If some Islamists resort to violent means in order to impose Sharia we should also remember that for many other millions of civil activists Sharia remains a legitimate source of dignity and freedom and a trigger for global justice and equality. In order to respect the right of Muslims to an alternative world view, a new vision needs to be established between how Muslims and the global civil society interact.
Your reference to the misuse of Sharia in Nigeria or Pakistan is right, but in these cases Sharia was manipulated. Atrocities also occur in non-Muslim where there is no Sharia and where other cultural and religious values get abused.
We need to understand in more depth why humans resort to violence. Otherwise we will continue to look at Muslims and their cultures as barbaric and view their Sharia as the root of all evil. That would mean that Muslims can only hope for the future if they trivialize the role of Islam in their public life and restrict it to personal morality. This is simply not fair.
Heba Raouf Ezzat