Is Islamic Law Outdated?

by Javeria

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Introduction

‘Islamic Law is outdated’ is a misconception which is generally prevalent amongst the non Muslims and the liberal Muslims. When it comes to Islamic laws such as hijab, forbiddance of alcohol, lashing, stoning, cutting off hands etc, most Muslims and non Muslims, unable to comprehend the wisdom and practicality of these laws try to do away with these laws by stating that Islamic law is barbaric and oppressing and thus outdated and not practical for the present modern times. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan of Pakistan stated that since there were no prisons at the time of revelation of the Quran, which is why such laws were then needed and now in the modern times, the most appropriate punishment is imprisonment.[1] Jullundri gave metaphorical meanings to the Quranic Ayahs by stating that ‘cut off their hands’ means cut off their advantages by putting them in prison.[2]

However if one ponders and reflects over the practicality and end results of Islamic laws, it becomes quite clear that the Islamic Law is the Most Supreme and is so updated and modern that it is applicable for all times.

Islamic law aims to benefit the society and remove all forms of corruption, injustice and exploitation. In this article two examples will be given to prove that Islamic Law is not outdated but is the most modern and up to date set of laws for all times.

Forbiddence of ‘KHAMAR’

Islam clearly spells out the forbidden things; where as the rest of the things are declared to be permissible. So these laws would be applicable and easy to follow at all times, because the list of forbidden things is very small and generic.

Example

Amongst the forbidden drinks in Islam is alcohol. It was gradually forbidden and the final ayah regarding its prohibition was revealed. Allah Subhanawatala said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُون

“ O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.”

َAl Maidah :90

In the above Ayah pronouncing the forbiddance of alcohol, the word خمر is used. There are many other words which could have been used here to refer to wine and alcohol such as  نبيذ or  شراب. But there is great wisdom in using the word ‘Khamr’ here.Literal meaning of the word خمر is ‘the thing which covers the head/mind’, it is from the same root word as خمار which is a cloth used by women to cover the head. Thus the word Khamr is used to refer to things which befog the mind. There is also the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (s) declaring all intoxicating things to be ‘khamr’.

bn ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Every intoxicant is Khamr and every intoxicant is forbidden. (Muslim)

Therefore all drinks or food substances which intoxicate the mind would come under ‘khamr’ and are forbidden. This shows the great wisdom of Islamic laws and their universality. In the era of Prophet Muhammad (s) there were no narcotics, but in our times drugs have become a major problem. Therefore hashish, opium, cocaine, morphine, marijuana and all such substances which befog the mind would also come under ‘khamr’ This is to ensure the safety and well being of individuals and society as a whole as the disastrous impact of alcohol and drugs is well acknowledged.

If the Islamic Law was outdated, it would not be able to able to deal with new substances, but would only be applicable in its own time. However, the fact is that since the Islamic laws comes from Allah who has full knowledge of the past present and the future therefore all the laws are so updated that they were fully applicable in the past, are still applicable in the present and will be fully applicable in the future. If in the future any new substance is discovered or created which also has an intoxicating effect, it would also come under ‘khamr’ and would thus be forbidden.

HIJAB in front of certain children

The Islamic laws are enacted for the betterment of the society, to make the make the environment safe, peaceful and morally clean free from exploitation and injustice. If a severe punishment to an individual would stop further crime and rid the society of that evil, then such a punishment is justified and practical and beneficial for the public. However, because of this stance of Islamic legislation, Islamic laws are usually termed barbaric and the laws of hijab considered oppressing towards the female.

In the example below, we will see how the injunction of hijab in our modern times is not only applicable but is much needed to stop crimes such as rape and harassment.

Example

The Islamic law is a preventive one; it wants to prevent all crimes from taking place, which is why it handles even those issues which lead to such crimes and immoralities.

The reason why most immoral activities take place is due to the natural attraction between men and women and men have an inclination to look at women, to admire their beauty, which becomes the starting point of all immoralities. The laws of hijab have therefore been enacted to eliminate this root cause.

Women are not allowed to display their beauty  and be alone with men except to a few ‘mahram’ men, their slaves, very old servants and some children.

Allah Subhana Watala Says:

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.”An-Noor:31

In the above quoted ayah, the women are allowed to show their beauty to children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women, but if the children are aware of private details, then women should observe hijab, even in front of such children.

In the present times, because of the open immorality and its broadcast day and night over television the children are now aware of the private matters of intimacy and have lost their innocence. It is because of this that boys as young as 9 and 10 years have committed rape.[3] [4]

This proves that even children, if corrupted by the society and media, are capable of immoral activities and crime. Thus to safeguard the women and girls, hijab is must even in front of such children. Hijab not only means the outer garment, but also means that women and girls should not be left alone with na-mehrams. Other innocent children should also not be allowed to play with such children as they are at a great risk of molestation and even rape.

Regarding hijab from children, Allah Subhanawatala could have just said ‘children who have not yet reached puberty’. But this was not stated and a condition was set which was not applicable in the time of Prophet Muhammad (s).So this shows that there is great wisdom behind this injunction to make it applicable for all times.

Conclusion

When it is said that the ‘Islamic Law is Outdated’, the main point that is missed is that The Islamic law is divine and from Allah Subhanawatala The Aleem, The Hakeem, the Most Knowledgeable and The Most Wise. To consider Islamic Law to be outdated is to deny these supreme qualities of our creator. The One Who created this universe and the humans knows their nature and knows what is best for them. Humans, with their finite intellect and knowledge can only come up with laws which are flawed and have many negative side effects. The USA has the highest rate of incarceration in the world[5] but according to the statistics of 1994, almost 70% of released prisoners were rearrested within three years.[6] In USA the crime rate is also increasing year by year and despite the open immorality and prostitution, rate of rapes is also increasing. This shows the ineffectiveness of the prison system made by humans. In order to be kind to the criminal, death penalty and other severe punishments are not given out, but this is done at the expense of compromising the welfare and safety of the public and fails to deter future crime.

Similarly, despite being aware of the negative effects of alcohol and drugs, the western society refuses to ban such items, but this is also a great compromise on the safety of the public. Most of the road accidents are due to drunk driving and lives have been destroyed and some are living a life of non existence. The case of Jacqueline Saburido should be enough to ban alcohol everywhere. [7]

If Islamic laws are implemented and severe hudood punishments are meted out to criminals, a few punishments would be enough to set an example and deter future crime and loss of lives.

What the world needs now are Islamic Laws, because Islamic Laws are most updated and they are the key to a safe and a secure environment free from crime and corruption which plagues all countries and all societies of our time.


[1] Lashing, stoning, mutilating: Islamic law is barbaric and outdated. Defend the case of Islam. By  Abdullah Mohammed  <http://www.jannah.org/morearticles/4.html>

[2] ibid

[3]8 Years Old gang raped by four boys aged 9 -14: http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpp/news/crime/gang_rape_07_22_2009

[4] 9 year old boy booked for rape:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/9-year-old-boy-booked-for-rape/articleshow/4908296.cms

[5] Crime in the United States:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States

[6] Urban Ministry Prison statistics :http://www.urbanministry.org/prison-statistics-data-imprisonment-recidivism-and

[7]Jacqueline Saburido: Accident and burn victim against drunk driving http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqueline_Saburido

2 thoughts on “Is Islamic Law Outdated?

  1. Hi,
    I have read a few articles, and i really found them informative. I hope you will not mind me sharing them on facebook.

    thanks.

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