Freedom of Expression in Islam: An Analysis of Fitnah

  • Published in Law

This article develops the concept of fitnah and its bearing on freedom of expression. It puts together information from the unconsolidated source materials of the Shari'ah in a manner reflecting the interest and style of a modern student of comparative law. It also develops the theme that modern interpretations of seditious speech and conduct have done much to restrict the scope and substance of the freedom of expression. The Shari’ah tends to advocate the opposite, as it confines the scope of restrictions to measures necessary to repel an imminent danger to normal order in society. The individual's freedom to investigate facts and ideas and to formulate and express an opinion are integral to Islam's approach to the dignity of the individual and the quest for ascertaining the truth.

Fundamental Rights of the Individual: An Analysis of Haqq (Right) in Islamic Law

  • Published in Law

Despite the ubiquitous occurrence of the word haqq in the works of classical jurists, a precise definition has never been articulated. Earlier religious scholars have relied on its literal meaning, while modern scholars have tried to provide a comprehensive definition. This essay looks into the definition of haqq and ascertains, on a selective basis, some aspects that have engendered controversy and debate. It also discusses the tendency in Islamic law to place greater emphasis on obligations than on rights. I have attempted to develop a perspective on this and have, in the meantime, addressed the suggestion by western commentators that the Shari'ah does not recognize rights, but only obligations.

Tas'ir (Price Control) in Islamic Law

  • Published in Law

The market (suq or bazar) has a distinctive place in the history of Islamic civilization. Makkah and Madinah were major trade centers at the time of the advent of Islam, and the prophet was himself an active market  participant and reformer. There were famous markets - 'Ukkaz, Majannah, and Dhhu al Majaz - in pre-Islamic Arabia that commonly held fairs during the pilgrimage season. This practice was continued after the appearance of Islam, for when the new Muslims felt that it might be sinful for them to trade in such places (al Zubayli 1984), the following verse was revealed: "There is no sin if you seek the bounty of your Lord (during the pilgrimage)" (Qur'an 2:198).

Freedom, Equality and Justice in Islam

  • Published in Law

Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 2002. 184 pages.

Modern Muslim thinkers who try to locate and construct constitutional tenets based on the Islamic tradition face various difficulties, for they have to address a segment of an audience that expects an exposition comparable to the West’s in terms of terminologies, institutions, and remedies, as well as to draw from the best practices of Islamic history and modern Muslim societies. It is always frustrating to learn that Islam’s constitutional history, despite its richness in individual constitutional tenets, loses some of its utility in modern Muslim societies due to systemic changes caused by globalization and pervasive international institutions, both of which have had far-reaching consequences on domestic sociopolitical settings. Given the contemporary nation-state’s overarching authority, one known guarantee of the people’s social, legal, or political rights is a constitutional framework under a credible rule of law system. Mohammad Hashim Kamali’s Freedom, Equality and Justice in Islam identifies the three themes in the title of his book as the fundamental bases upon which all other constitutional guarantees of human rights depend.

Reading The Signs: A Qur'anic Perspective On Thinking

This essay advances a perspective on the Qur'anic conception of thinking, rationality, and critical reason. It begins with a discussion of the divine signs, the ayat, and the prominent profile that they take in the Qur'anic conception of thinking. This being the principal theme that runs through the whole of this paper, other topics discussed include an identification of the sources of knowledge in the Qur'an, factors that impede rational thinking, and a historical sketch of the golden age of scientific creativity and its eventual decline. A brief section is also devoted to ijtihad and where it fits into the scheme of our analysis on thinking. This is followed by a short comparison of Islamic and Western philosophical perceptions of rationality.

Maqasid al-Shari’ah Made Simple

This article is presented in five sections beginning with a general characterisation of the maqasid al-Shari’ah and its origins in the Qur’an. The next section addresses the classification of the maqasid and a certain order of priority that is integrated into the structure of the maqasid. Section three is devoted to historical developments and the contributions of some of the leading ‘ulama’, especially that of Abu Ishaq Ibrahim alShatibi, to the theory of the maqasid. Section four looks into the differential  approaches the ‘ulama’ have taken toward the identification of the maqasid. The last section highlights the relevance of the maqasid to ijtihad and the ways in which the maqasid can enhance the scope and caliber of ijtihad.

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