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a precious lesson from pakistan

In my article on Mei 7, 2011 by Taufik Adnan Amal


A Precious Lesson from Pakistan
by: Taufik Adnan Amal

Pakistan is a good example of this controversial case. The basic élan of the establishment of the ‘Islamic republic”, as articulated in the notion of its founders, Iqbal and Jinnah, is the determination of muslim community – as the separated nation in Indian subcontinent – to form a state where they are able to implement Islamic teaching and live according to its instruction.
The demand for the enforcement of Islamic sharia in Indonesia has drawn people’s attention. The unclear concept of sharia behind these demands has created a controversial arena.

People presuming that the demand is an effort of manifesting a Taliban-model of sharia in Afghanistan or some Middle East countries ones, try to refuse it and view it as an effort to re-orientate and repress people into the “past” of 7th century Mecca and Medina, or the 9th century in Baghdad.

Obviously that sort of effort is unrealistic and impossible for providing solutions to problems facing Aceh, South Celebes, or Riau. Further, the failure of sharia formalization in several Muslim countries has produced a bad stigma and image about Islam and Muslims. People welcoming the notion of sharia implementation accuse those who refuse it as misunderstanding it and as only seeing the punitive aspects that make it seem to be barbaric.

That controversy has a clear direction if only the demand of sharia enforcement was based on its obvious conceptualization. If the terminology of sharia refers to the way of life – as used by al-Quran (45:18 cf. 5:48; 42:13; 7:163) and the Hadits — then Islamic sharia is already performed by Muslims wherever and whenever they are, including minorities in non-Muslim countries, although in the “minimal” meaning of the term.

However if the terminology of sharia refers to the current legal regulations, then debate about Islamic sharia will be an everlasting controversy. The variety of legal tradition in Islam, as reflected in many schools of thought and trends of law and thought since the classic era to modern age, indicates that it will be impossible to define Islamic sharia. 

Pakistan is a good example of this controversial case. The basic élan of the establishment of the ‘Islamic republic”, as articulated in the notion of its founders, Iqbal and Jinnah, is the determination of muslim community – as the separated nation in Indian subcontinent – to form a state where they are able to implement Islamic teaching and live according to its instruction.

The notion about Islam to be implemented in Pakistan is clearly carved in the mind of its founder.  It is an Islam that is “closer to its genuine spirit and modern era spirit.” But the traditional Muslim community leaders perceive it as reverting to a “historical Islam”.

Consequently, since the establishment of Islamic Republic of Pakistan on 3rd of June 1947, this state experienced problems in defining Islam. The lengthy debates in the Constituent Assembly –and the negotiations that resulted between traditionalists and modernists in the first constitution (1956), second constitution (1962) and its amendments, which are unsatisfying all parties, clearly reflect it.

When it comes to Islamic law, similar trouble is also faced by Pakistani Muslims. In the mind of the modernists, Islamic law –in order to be implemented—should be modernized alongside the progress and needs of each age while the traditionalist insist that fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) as resulted by mujtahid through deduction and derivation from Alquran and hadits, should be implemented without any exception. The sharp controversy about usury and bank interest, utilization of zakat (tithe), family planning program, and Islamic family law is a reflection of how hard it is for Pakistani Muslims to define Islamic sharia. 

In the case of family planning for instance, the modernists support the idea of population control for Pakistan which has a high population and a high birth rate. The Islamic Research Institution backs the fatwa of Mahmud Syalthut, Syaikh al-Azhar, which support that program but, traditionalists affirm that Islam does not support the idea of population control. The use of contraceptives, to them, will lead to indiscriminate sexual intercourse. For example, in an ulema conference, they said that if Firaun has killed the sons of Israel, the Arab pagans killed their daughters, hence the government of Pakistan is worse for through its Family planning program it has killed both sons and daughters.

In this debate, the modernists find it difficult to relate the past with modern values, while the traditionalists also have trouble in liberating themselves from the present and seeking a secure protection in the past. The modernists also accuse their opposition of worshiping history, not God. On the contrary, the traditionalists accuse the modernists of rejecting the past’s authority which they see as fixed.

The result is chaos and confusion in the defining of “Islam” in Pakistan. Compromises reached are not in accordance with the modernization wished for by the modernists nor in accordance with the status quo as maintained by the traditionalists. The controversial arena results in plunder, burning, terrorism and killing –eventually leading up to the decision that Qadian Ahmadiyah is a non-muslim minority!

The ideological experience of Pakistan delivers a gloomy picture of Islam, as religion teaches its disciples to “burn, plunder, massacre” the opposition rather than to promote “democracy, liberty, equality, tolerance and social justice” as called for in the constitutional preamble of Pakistan.

A similar traumatic experience will occur in Indonesia if the demand for Islamic sharia enforcement gets a chance. Islamic plurality in this country, which is often antagonistic, is the indicator. Therefore, we have to learn wisely from the Pakistani experience.

Finally, a factor in the demand for Islamic sharia enforcement is the disappointment in law enforcement and justice. This aspect should be seriously reformed. If the enforced law can create justice and truth, then that sort of law –in every form—will already reflect well the spirit of Islamic sharia.

**Taufik Adnan Amal, Lecturer of Faculty of Sharia IAIN Alauddin Makassar

(Translated by Lanny Octavia, edited by Jonathan Zilberg)

source: islamlib.com

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