The Legal System of Islam

The Place of Shari‘a in Islam

The word “shari‘a” literally means “a way.” In Islamic terminology, it means the legal system of Islam. It is normally translated as the laws of Islam or the Islamic laws.

Islam is a din—religion. The word din bears a concept wider and more comprehensive than the word `religion’. It means believing in the fundamentals as well as living according to the Islamic laws. This concept of religion is beautifully conveyed in the terms used by Islamic scholars to describe the fundamental beliefs and the practical laws of Islam. The “beliefs” are described as “usūlu ’d-dīn — the roots of religion”. The “sharī‘a laws” are described as “furū‘u ’d-dīn — the branches of religion”. Beliefs without practice is incomplete Islam; and practice without belief may be useful in this world but not of much use in the hereafter.

The sharī‘a is a complete way of life; no aspect of human life is outside its domain. Islam expects a Muslim to follow its laws in every aspect of life: personal and familial, religious and social, moral and political, economic and business, etc. After all, “Muslim” means one who submits to God. The Qur’ān says,

“When Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter, it is not for any believing man or believing woman to have a choice in their affairs. And whosoever disobeys Allāh and His Messenger has gone astray into clear error.” (33:36)

The Need for the Sharī‘a

Man’s nature dictates that he can only function properly within a society. Human beings are interdependent by nature. This interdependency of human beings on each other is beautifully expressed in the following passage:

“The baker told me to bake my own bread; the tailor told me to cut and sew my own clothes; the shoemaker told me to make my own shoes; similarly, the carpenter, the engineer, the farmer, and all the labourers and workers told me to do everything by myself. It was then that I looked at myself and realized that I am naked, hungry and powerless with no shelter over my head, waiting for death to overcome me. It was then that I realized that I cannot survive without my fellow human beings; my survival depends on living in the society.”1

A society, however, depends for its existence on laws and regulations. If there are no laws in a society, it is overtaken by the law of the jungle: the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. So the need for laws to regulate the lives of human beings is beyond any doubt.

Islam teaches that because of the imperative need of laws for a civilized society, God has sent a series of messengers and prophets with divine laws for man’s guidance from the very first day of his creation. The last Messenger was Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family) who brought the final and the perfect set of laws, Islam, as a guide for mankind till the end of time.

Many people think that there is no need for God-made laws, we can make laws by ourselves. Islam believes that a human being is a very sophisticated creature; and since he has not made his own body, nor did he create the world in which he lives, he, therefore, is not the best candidate for making laws about himself. Common sense says that when you buy a complicated piece of equipment, like a computer, you should use it according to the ‘instruction manual’ prepared by the manufacturer of that particular machine. To learn the computer by trial and error is not the smart way. Similarly, God as the Creator of man and the earth knows better how the human being should live.

The ‘instruction manual’ that God sent for us is known as the Qur’ān. But the human being is not just any ordinary machine; rather he is more complicated than the most advanced computer a human can ever produce. So God did not only send the Qur’ān—He also sent an instructor known as Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet of Islam brought the Qur’ān to us and also provided practical examples in how to conduct our lives. According to Shi‘a Islam, after the Prophet, the Imams of Ahlu ‘l-bayt are the protectors of the Qur’ān and the interpreters of its laws.

The Superiority of God-made Laws over Man-made Laws

At this point, I would like to show the superiority of Islamic laws over man-made laws. Man-made laws are by necessity influenced by the law-makers’ social and racial biases. The United Nations Organization is the best example of how policies are enforced only when it suits the interest of the super-powers. The rule of the game in man-made laws is not honesty and justice, it is “the might is right”.

God-made laws are superior because of the following facts:

• God is above class status;

• God is above racial prejudice;

• God is above gender rivalry;

• God, as the Creator, fully knows humans as well as the world in which they live.

God-made laws will be just and based on fully informed decisions. Let me demonstrate the superiority of God-made laws by using the example of capital punishment.

The secular system always swings according to the mood of the people: sometimes, the people feel that capital punishment for murder is not right and so they pressure their representatives to vote against capital punishment. But when crimes rates increase and serial murder cases occur more frequently, public opinion changes and the legislators are influenced in favour of capital punishment.

Actually both sides of this issue reflect the Judeo-Christian basis of the Western society. Judaism, on the one hand, insists on the principle of justice which demands “an eye for an eye”. On the other hand, Christianity promotes the principle of mercy by saying “turn thy other cheek.”

Islam, the final version of God-made laws, takes a balanced look at the issue of capital punishment and has beautifully accommodated both the principles of justice and mercy in its system. The Western system did not realize the difference between the two principles of justice and mercy: while justice can be demanded and legislated, mercy cannot be forced or made into a law. You can always plead for mercy but you can never demand mercy.

Islam takes this difference into full consideration, and, therefore, it talks about capital punishment on two different levels: legal and moral. On the legal level, it sanctions the principle of justice by giving the right of retaliation to the victim. But, immediately, the Qur’ān moves on to the moral level and strongly recommends the victim to forgo his right of retaliation and either to forgive the criminal or to settle for monetary compensation. This issue has been clearly mentioned in the following verse of the Qur’ān:

In it (the Torah), We wrote to them: “A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and there is retaliation for wounds.” But (before you act according to your right, remember that) whosoever forgoes (his right of retaliation), it shall be expiation for him (against his own sins). (5:45)

Thus Islam has very beautifully provided the legal safeguard for human life on the social level and also encouraged mercy from a moral point of view on the individual level. If human beings are left on their own in this issue, they will always swing between the two extremes of justice and mercy—only Islam, the final version of God-made legal system can accommodate both these principles.

1. Jurdāq, G., al-Imām ‘Ali: sawtu ‘l-`adālati ‘l-insāniyyah, vol. 5 (Beirut) p. 14.

The scope of Man’s freedom

The freedom granted to the individual in such areas as economics and politics is, in Islam, conditioned by the following principle: that such freedom does not conflict with man’s spiritual imperatives, nor undermine the foundations of public welfare.
In fact, the philosophy of obligation in Islam is rooted in the need to make man aware of the extent of his responsibility, so that he properly safeguards his essential dignity, while at the same time upholding public welfare. The prohibition of idolatry, alcohol and other vices is founded, precisely, upon the need to safeguard the dignity and sanctity of the human state; in this light one can better appreciate the wisdom of the law of reprisal in Islam.

The Qur’an considers the law of proportionate retaliation to be a source of preserving human life:

And there is for you in legal retribution [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous. (Sura al-Baqara, II:179)

The Holy Prophet said:

‘If somebody commits a sin in secret, he harms only himself. But if he commits it openly, and is not stopped, the whole society is harmed.’ 1

Imam Sadiq, after narrating some hadiths, said:

‘The one who openly and actively displays his sins violates the sanctity of God’s rulings, and the enemies of God become his followers.’2

There is no compulsion in religion

One of the expressions of the principle of the freedom of the individual in Islam is that there is no obligation in respect of which religion one chooses to follow:

There is no compulsion in religion. The right way is distinct from error. (Sura al-Baqara, II:256)

In Islam, religion is sought after only as a result of inner conviction and heartfelt faith, and such things cannot be forced upon the soul from without; rather, they flow from the prior realization of a whole series of factors, the most important of which is the ability to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal. Once such discernment is attained, the individual-under normal circumstances-will choose to follow the truth.


It is true that Jihad is an obligation for all Muslims; but this does not in any way mean forcing others to accept Islam. The aim of Jihad is, rather, the removal of barriers that prevent the divine message from being [peacefully] conveyed to people throughout the world, so that the ‘right way’ can indeed be clarified and presented to all. It is to be expected that if the liberating message of Islam is prevented from being spread peacefully, then Jihad must be undertaken, [but only] in order to remove these obstacles and establish the conditions necessary for the peaceful propagation of the message among all peoples.
As we have tried to show, the Islamic perspective illuminates. the nature of man and the universe. There are, of course, many other principles and points to be considered in this vast subject.

1. Wasa’il al-Shi’a (Beirut, 1403/ 1982), vol. 11,ch. 4, p. 407.
2. Ibid.

Terrorism and increasing Sectarianism in the Islamic world

Unfortunately there are many terrorist groups in some of the Islamic countries who kill the followers of different Islamic sects in order to increase sectarianism and denominational tensions in the Islamic world. But it is clear that any sort of denominational tensions in the region is absolutely dangerous for all the people of the region and that is why we must be aware of the consequences of the presence of terrorist groups in the Islamic countries.

During the recent years the military presence of the western powers in Iraq and Afghanistan has only served to raise denominational and racial tensions between different religious sects and ethnic groups. It is due to the strategy of the terrorist groups, backed by the non-Islamic powers in the region, that they have killed thousands of innocent followers of different religions and Islamic sects in the Islamic countries Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan since 2010.

For instance, last year On February 23, masked gunmen kidnapped 30 Shia Muslims in the southern province of Zabul as they were traveling on two buses in central Afghanistan. On April 6, Afghan authorities recovered the dead bodies of some of the hostages in the southern province of Zabul. [1] In another incident, 17 Hazaras beheaded by Taliban in Gizab, Afghanistan on July 7, 2014. [2] Terrorists have decapitated five Shia Muslims belonging to the Hazara ethnic group in the southeastern Afghan province of Ghazni on April 17, 2015. [3] |

Fortunately the Shiite and Sunni scholars tried their best to decrease the tensions, but, despite this the ISIL and other Takfiri terrorist groups are willing to destabilize the whole region. Muslims must understand that the terrorist militants are paving the ground for military presence of the non-Islamic powers in the region. No one can deny that Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have witnessed years of instability in the presence of foreign troops, while, before the military appearance of the US as well as its western allies in the Islamic territory, they were stable and secure countries.

Finally, it must be noticed that the western military presence in the Islamic territory and intervention in the affairs of the Islamic countries caused instability, civil war, poverty and backwardness; as a result, the Islamic world is now full of conflicts. Based on the mentioned facts all Muslims must know that what the role and mission of the terrorist groups is in the Islamic countries and how important it is to resist against them as well as arrogant powers in the region.



A perfect explanation of the reality of Islam

 Islam[dropcap]I[/dropcap] slam is an Arabic word which means submission and surrender. Thus as a religion, Islam means complete surrender and submission to God and his laws. In Islamic texts the word Islam is used in three ways:
1) In its general sense, the whole universe is considered to be Muslim because it follows the laws that God has made for it. The sun, moon, earth, and all physical and biological entities follow the unalterable laws of God and do not make even the slightest deviation from this course.
A person who takes up the path of submission to God and follows his laws brings himself into harmony with the whole universe, but even if he denies God, biologically his own body follows the laws made by his lord. That is why unbelief in Islam is called Kufr (concealment), because by his Kufr the unbeliever tries to conceal what is inherent in his nature.

2) In its more specific sense, Islam implies the true revealed religion of God, which entails belief in God, in the prophets and in the hereafter. In this sense, Islam is the religion preached by all the Prophets, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon them all:

Indeed the only true religion in the sight of Allah is Islam; those who had received the Books differed only after the knowledge came to them, due to their hearts’ envy;…[1]

3) In its particular sense, Islam means the last and the most perfect religion and Shari’a (law) of God revealed through Prophet Muhammad (S). Islam is a universally attributable name, whoever takes on this attribute is a Muslim, irrespective of race, color, region, or country.
As mentioned, we believe that the true religion of God was the same from Adam to Muhammad peace be upon them, but that the Shari’a or detailed law of conduct has changed according to the requirements of different times and different communities. The process ended with the advent of Prophet Muhammad (S) who brought the final Shari’a and the religion in its most complete form, which was to apply to the whole of humanity for all time to come. All the previous religions and Shari’as stand abrogated, and it is the duty of all mankind to follow this religion.

Din (religion) consists of the following elements: the aqa’id (beliefs) and the shari’a (law). The fandamental beliefs are:
1) Belief in one God (tawhid),
2) Belief in the divine justice,
3) Belief in the institution of prophethood,
4) Belief in the institution of the divine leaders,
5) Belief in the hereafter (ma’ad),

The Shari’a consists of Akhlaq (ethics) and Ahkam (the legal precepts), the Ahkam includes the norm of personal behavior, the norms of social behavior, the precepts of the religious rites, and the precepts concerning worship.[2]

1. إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّـهِ الْإِسْلَامُ ۗ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ
chapter.3, verse. 19.
2. A manual of Islamic beliefs and practice, v.1, p.1,

Islam is a Religion of Peace and Tolerance

UNESCO’s Member States adopted a “Declaration of Principles on Tolerance” [1] on November 16, 1995, according to which the variation of our world’s cultures must be respected. Since people are naturally diverse and variety is the spice of life, we must recognize the fundamental freedom of others as universal human rights; otherwise, no one can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe. That is to say that tolerance could not be qualified only as a moral duty, but also as a political and legal requirement for individuals, groups and States.

Now let’s have a look at the verses of the holy Quran to see whether this Holy and divine scripture ensures tolerance or not; Because, there might be a mistaken belief, especially in the western societies, that Islam is categorically opposed to the principle of tolerance due to the miss-behavior of the terrorist groups, known as so called Islamic fighters, towards Muslims or non-Muslims. Referring to the holy Quran and the tradition of the holy Prophet Muhammad (P) we find out that not only Islam is not opposed to the existence of other religions but also encourages its followers to tolerate and respect the people of other faiths.

There are many verses in the Holy Quran that orders Muslims to tolerate others and do not force others to accept their religion; because, according to the Holy Quran:

“There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned.” [2]

Quran tells Muslims to live peacefully and do not make corruption in the world; because,

“God does not love corruption”. [3]

In another verse of the Holy Quran Almighty Allah (J) directly commands Muslims to

“enter absolutely Peace (Islam) and Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you.” [4]

In fact the word Islam itself means peace that’s why this religion came to bring peace in the world.

Based on the mentioned verses of the Holy Quran, no one can pressurize others to leave their own religions and believe in Islam or in any other religion. As the Holy Quran says

“You cannot guide those you would like to but God guides those He wills.

” He has best knowledge of the guided.” [5]

Contrary to these teachings of Islam, there are so called Muslim groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban and Al-Qaida who massacre innocent followers of the other religions forcing them to leave their own religions and accept their misconception and interpretation of Islam.

Muslims and non-Muslims must be aware of the real teachings of Islam that the behavior and practice of those pseudo Muslim groups is totally and categorically opposed to Quran and Islamic tradition. Islam is a religion of peace, mercy and tolerance but we must study the Holy Quran and the tradition of the Holy Prophet (P) in order to know what Islam is and who are Muslim.

It could be the best end that this article would end with this meaningful verse of the Holy Quran which says

“We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing Good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.” [6]

[2] Chapter Al-Baqarah: 256 لاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىَ لاَ انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ.
[3] Chapter Al-Baqarah: 205 وَإِذَا تَوَلَّى سَعَى فِي الأَرْضِ لِيُفْسِدَ فِيِهَا وَيُهْلِكَ الْحَرْثَ وَالنَّسْلَ وَاللّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الفَسَادَ.
[4] Chapter Al-Baqarah: 208 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ ادْخُلُواْ فِي السِّلْمِ كَآفَّةً وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ.
[5] Chapter Al-Qasas: 56 إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ.
[6] Chapter Al-Ma’idah: 48 لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَآ آتَاكُم فَاسْتَبِقُوا الخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى الله مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ.

A Brief Outline of the Muslim Contributions to Philosophy

A comprehensive study of the history of philosophy would make it clear that Muslim philosophers had a deep influence upon western philosophers, not only in the fields of logic or natural philosophy, but also in metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of religion as well.

Beside the lasting impact of the Muslim Philosophers’ analysis of being, specifically their division of beings into contingent and necessary, on the Thomistic and Scotist amalgamations; Farabi’s theistic views are quoted in many philosophical works of western philosophers. For instance, Descartes’ idea of the primary intuition of the ego is very close to Ibn Sina’s idea of self-awareness of the soul exemplified in his doctrine of the “flying man”.

One of the well-known Muslim scientists and philosophers, who made a significant contribution to the global scientific and philosophical traditions, is al-Biruni who was able to harmonize within his own intellectual world various forms of knowledge, from the science of nature to religion and philosophy. Al-Biruni is the first Muslim sociologist and social scientist who brought about real cultural contact between different races and nations, and due to his great contributions to many fields, George Sarton, the well-known historian of science, wishes to name the eleventh century “the Age of al-Biruni.” [1]

One of the important contributions that al-Biruni made in this regard, is his method of investigation that is explained by him in the introductory chapter of his Al-âthâr al-Bâkiya. According to al-Biruni the investigator must free himself from all kinds of prejudices, selfish motivations, and every kind of harmful element which prevent many from following the right course in the search of truth.

Commenting upon Al-Beyrûnî’s work on India, G. von Grunebaum, the famous historian of Islamic culture, states that Al-Beyrûnî was able to develop and apply in his book that descriptive attitude towards another civilization which on the whole has been a distinctive trait of the West. [2] In his works, al-Biruni clearly mentions that

“Between an investigator of truth and a staunch follower of tradition there is, surely, a great difference.”[3]

Another important contribution to the philosophy of science was made by Ibn al-Haytham the great Muslim thinker and scientist. In his Aporias against Ptolemy, Ibn al-Haytham commented on the difficulty of attaining scientific knowledge as following:

“Truth is sought for itself [but] the truths …” [4]

He reasoned that to discover the truth about nature, it is necessary to eliminate human opinion and error, and allow the universe to speak for itself

” I constantly sought knowledge and truth, and it became my belief that for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness to God, there is no better way than that of searching for truth and knowledge.” [5]

Finally it must be mentioned that the Muslim philosophers’ scientific method was similar to the modern scientific method in many ways, particularly their emphasis upon repeated experimentation. Based on the mentioned points one can conclude that Muslim philosophers made great contributions to the global philosophy and science.

[1] Nizar F. Hermes, The European other in medieval Arabic literature and culture, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, p. 20.
[2] G. von Grunebaum, Islam: Essays in the Natm Tradition, Menasha 1955, p. 48.
[3] Tahdîd Nihâyât al-Amâkin …, ed. Tancî, Ankara, 1962; Eng. tr. by J. AH, The Determination of the Coordinates of Cities, Beirut, 1967, p. 3.
[4] See: Sabra (2003). Ibn al-Haytham: Brief life of an Arab mathematician, Harvard Magazine, October–December 2003.
[5] C. Plott (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Period of Scholasticism, Pt. II, p. 465.

What are the reasons for the backwardness of the Muslims?

It can be clearly concluded from the verses of the Qur’an that whenever we suffer reverses and failures, they are always a result of one of the following two factors: Either we have neglected and failed in our efforts and striving, or that we were lacking in sincerity. And if these two were to gather together, as per the emphatic Divine promise, success and guidance shall certainly come our way.

Why have Muslims, the leaders of yesterday, lagged behind today?

Why do they extend their hands to the foreigners for everything, even for their culture and their own laws?

Why should they rely upon others to protect themselves vis-à-vis political storms and military assaults?

Why is it that yesterday the others benefited from their knowledge and culture whereas today they (the Muslims) have to turn to the others?

And finally, why is it that they are captives in the clutches of others and their lands are under the occupation of the transgressors?

All these ‘whys’ possess just one answer: Either they have forgotten the jihad or that the intentions have become polluted.

Indeed, jihad in the fields of science, culture, politics, economics and military has been thrust into the dark world of forgetfulness. Affection for the self, love of the world, desire for comfort and pleasure and personal motives have prevailed over them to the extent that those of them who are killed by own hands, are more than those killed by the enemies!

The overwhelmed state of some West-stricken and East-stricken individuals, self-selling by some of those vested with authority, and isolation of intellectuals and scholars have not only taken the jihad from them but also the sincerity.

Whenever there manifests slight sincerity amongst our ranks and our forces jolt themselves into activity, successes are achieved one after the other and the fetters of captivity fall apart. Despairs turn into hopes, failures into successes, humiliation into dignity, and disarray and hypocrisy into unity and cohesion. How inspirational is the Qur’an, which, in a short sentence, has not only mentioned the malady but has also presented its remedy! Truly, those who strive in the path of Allah (s.w.t.) are the beneficiaries of Divine guidance and it is self-evident that in the presence of His guidance, deviation and failure are inconceivable.

In any event, every person plainly senses and perceives this Qur’anic reality in his efforts that when he sets out to strive for Allah (s.w.t.) and in His path, doors open up before him, problems decrease in severity and adversities tend to become more bearable.1

1. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 16, pg. 350

Prophet Ibrahim and the Worship of Idols

Namrud, the King of Babylonia, was once informed by his astrologers that someone was going to be born who would destroy his kingdom. He would teach people another religious concept: that of worshipping none but only one God.
On hearing that, Namrud gave orders that no woman would conceive, hence no child would be born in his kingdom. If any child was born, it would be killed immediately. The mother of Prophet Ibrahim became pregnant. But by the will of Allah, no sign of pregnancy was to be seen. When the time of birth of the child came nearer, she went out of the town and hid in a cave. There, Prophet Ibrahim was born. She then covered the child with a cloth, closed the mouth of the cave with stones and returned home without the child. She told nobody of what had happened.
The child was alone in the cave with no one to care for him. He was sucking the milk which flowed of his fingers – by the grace of Almighty God. The child grew up under Allah’s protection. From time to time, his mother would come secretly to the cave to watch him. This went on for thirteen years.

On one occasion when the mother visited the son, he beseeched her to take him out of the cave. The mother warned that he would be killed by the King if he came to know about him. But the child insisted that he be brought out of the cave as 13 years had been a long time.

Thus Prophet Ibrahim came out of the cave for the first time. It was late in the evening when the sun was setting. When the night grew dark, he saw a star and he said:

Is this my Lord?” But when it set, he said, “I love not the setting ones.” Then, when he saw the moon rising he said: “Is this my Lord?”

But when it set, he said:

If my Lord had not guided me I would have certainly been among the mistaken ones. Then he saw the sun rising and said, “Is this my Lord?” Is this the greatest?”.

But when it also set, he said:

O, my people! Surely. I am clear of what you set up with Allah. Surely, I have turned myself wholly to the One Who created the heavens and the earth. I am not of the ones who believe and worship anything else other than Allah – the one God.

The people, at that time were not only idol-worshippers but they were also worshipping the stars, the sun, the moon etc. All the time, he was making them realise their error in their choice of ‘gods’. He was showing his people what they called a god, did not deserve to be called god and worshipped if it disappeared at times. So Prophet Ibrahim started preaching the belief of One God and persuading his people not to worship anything else but Allah, the one and only God.
Once, it was the time of annual festival in the town and according to their custom, Namrud, the King, went out of town with all his people to celebrate the day. Prophet Ibrahim did not accompany them but stayed behind. He went to the temple where all the idols were kept, and broke all of them one by one. He left the biggest idol untouched, but put the axe on its shoulder.

When the King and his people returned they were very angry to see their idols destroyed. He said that he would kill the person who had caused that damage. The people told him that it must be a young man, named Ibrahim who always preached against the worship of idols. He must have destroyed them.
When Prophet Ibrahim was asked if it was he who broke the idols. He replied, “Why do you not ask the chief (of the idols) who is standing safe. Perhaps he has done it, that is if your idol gods can speak, ask them as to who broke them.” Thus Prophet Ibrahim did not utter a lie denying what he had done. He only wanted the people to first ask their own idols as to who had done it?
Namrud got very angry and asked his people their opinion. Every one suggested that Prophet Ibrahim be punished by burning him alive in a big fire.
So, Prophet Ibrahim was jailed, while Namrud ordered that all available firewood in the forest be collected and be heaped up in one open place. When this was done, it was set alight. The fire burnt fiercely and widely for days and days. It had generated so much heat that no bird dared to fly nearby. At the appointed day on which Prophet Ibrahim was to be put in the fire and burnt, Namrud with his large army and followers came out to that place to watch.
On seeing the huge fire and the intense heat, he began to ponder as to how it would be possible to convey Prophet Ibrahim into the fire. Suddenly Satan, the devil, came and suggested that a type of a crane be prepared which could be used to hurl Prophet Ibrahim into the fire. This would cut out the need of any assistance of human hands to do the risky job of delivering the Prophet into the raging fire.
The crane was constructed and Prophet Ibrahim was lifted and readied to be dumped into the fire. On seeing this tragic happening. the angels in the heaven and all the creatures in the sky became deeply upset. Taking permission from Almighty Allah, one by one, they all came to Prophet Ibrahim to inquire if they could be of any help to him. The Prophet said that he was seeking help and protection from none of them. The one from whom he expected help (that is Almighty Allah), was fully aware of the dangerous situation in which he was and would help him if need be.
Just then, the angel, Jibrail came to the Prophet and gave him a ring on which the following was inscribed (written):

There is no God but Allah”

Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah”

I depend and rely upon Allah”

I submit my affair to the will of Allah.”

Prophet Ibrahim put the holy ring on his finger and the grace and blessing of Allah began to be showered upon him. Then came the command from Allah:

O fire! Be nothing but coolness and peace for Ibrahim.”

Thus the burning fire instantly lost its heat and no harm came to the Prophet.
It is related that when Prophet Ibrahim was being thrown into the fire, the angels in the heaven and the birds in the air cried in protest. One of them, a small weak bird decided to burn itself along with the Prophet. As it was flying towards the fire, the angel Jibrail was sent by Allah to inquire the reason why it was going to commit suicide! The angel stopped the bird on the ground and asked it to explain its strange action – that of trying to burn itself along with Prophet Ibrahim. The bird said:

Don’t you know that the friend of God is to be burnt in the fire? As it is not within my strength to save him, I am showing my sorrow and sympathy by accompanying him into the fire!”

The angel conveyed this incident to Allah. Then came a command from Allah to tell the bird that it would be rewarded for its sincere feeling shown for the Prophet. It was asked what it wished to have so that the wish be fulfilled. The bird in reply said:

I do not wish to have anything from this world. All I wish is to constantly remember Allah in prayer. There are a thousand and one names of Allah. I know hardly a hundred names. I wish to be taught the remaining names. Almighty Allah fulfilled its desire. As it flew from tree to tree, it went on singing the names of Allah, thus remembering Him day and night.”

To respect and sympathize with the friends of Allah; to remember Allah constantly in prayer is better than fulfilling worldly desires. This is what the little weak bird has shown to us. These are the acts of virtue which would one day undoubtedly earn great rewards from Allah.

What are the signs of weakness of true faith?

They are many signs of weakness of true faith. Some of them can be felt by the person himself in his heart (inner signs), and others can be seen on his behavior (outer signs). The inner signs include:
1. Less remembering Allah in heart before doing things or talking.
2. Less remembering the Aakhirah(the Hereafter) and the result of our deeds.
3. Less remembering death, grave, Barzakh, Paradise and Hellfire which are part and parcel of our definite future.
4. Less feeling of Love for Allah.
5. Less feeling of love for Allah’s most beloved ones, the Prophet (SAWA) and Ahlul Bayt (AS).
6. Less feeling of love for good deeds which are beloved by Allah (SWT).
7. Less love for the servants of Allah like pious Ulama, and pious believers and poor persons.
8. Less feeling of love for reciting, listening and studying the Qur’an.
9. Less keenness to get reward through sincere worship.
10. Feeling lazy to perform worship which needs effort like Namaz-e-Shab (Night’s Prayer) and other recommended prayers and supplications. The outer signs are reflections of the inner signs and it make the person more busy in worldly matters than Aakhirah, and not caring for losing the great reward if his worldly gains are secured. The tears of keenness (Shawq) for Paradise, and fear from sins become less when the heart becomes hard out of sins. May Allah save us from such situations and keep our hearts and deeds always with Him. This which help in making our hearts more clean and pure are:
1. Repeating Istighfaar, especially before sunset and before Fajr (Sahar time).
2. Repeating Salawaat especially after morning prayer at least 100 times (Allahumma Salli Ala Mohammad Wa Aali Mohammad).
3. Night Prayer (Namaz Shab).
4. Reciting Quran as much as possible even by repeating short Suras.
5. Helping helpless persons especially orphans and putting our hand on their head.
6. Remembering our previous sins and weeping over them to seek forgiveness,
7. Remembering the tragedies of Ahlul Bayt (AS) and weaping for them. More details can be seen in books like Mir’aat al Rashaad by Al Mamaqaniand Jaame’ al Sa’adaat by al Naraqi and other many useful books of Akhlaq. Wassalam. Mohammad al-Musawi


Is, according to Islam, religion separate from politics?

First of all we had better clarify the meaning of “politics” so that its relationship with religion may become clear. There are two interpretations for the word “politics”:

1. Sometimes, politics is interpreted as “trickery, ruse, and the use of every possible means to reach a particular objective”. In other words, the end justifies the means.
In fact, this interpretation of politics, apart from its being inconsistent with the real sense of the word, does not mean but deceit and treachery and this meaning is not compatible with religion.

2. The second interpretation of “politics” is the management of social life affairs by applying the principles of Islam in various aspects.

Politics which means management of the affairs of the Muslims according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah is an integral part of religion. We shall elaborate here on the idea of the concordance of religion and politics and the need for establishing government:

The most vivid evidence which substantiates this idea is the conduct of the Holy Prophet (s.a) during the period of his mission which was full of ups and downs. On studying the words and practices of the Messenger of Allah (s.a), we become fully aware that from the outset of his mission, he was in pursuit of establishing a strong government founded on faith in God and capable of implementing the agenda and programs of Islam.

At this juncture, it is worth citing some of the instances of the Prophet’s efforts to achieve this aim:

The Prophet (s.a) as the founder of Islamic government:

1. When the Messenger of Allah (s.a) was ordered to publicize his divine mission, he started to organize the nucleus of resistance and guidance and mobilize Muslims. Along this line, he used to meet groups of pilgrims coming from far and near to visit the Ka‘bah, inviting them to Islam. Meanwhile, he held a meeting with two groups of the people from Medina at a place called “‘Aqabah” and they pledged to invite him to their city and give him support. 1 So, this was the first step toward establishing an Islamic government.

2. After his emigration (hijrah) to Medina, the Messenger of Allah (s.a) started to found and organize a powerful and dignified army corps-an army that fought 82 battles during the period of the Prophet’s mission and managed, through glorious victories, to remove the hurdles and set up the Islamic government.

3. After the establishment of the Islamic government in Medina, the Prophet (s.a) made contacts with the powerful political and social centers of his time by dispatching ambassadors, sending historic letters, and forging economic, political and military links with many leaders.
The biography of the Prophet (s.a) contains a detailed account of his letters to Khosroe, the Emperor of Persia; Caesar, the Emperor of Byzantine; Muqauqis, the King of Egypt; Negus, the King of Abyssinia; and other rulers at that time. 2

4. In a bid to elevate the objectives of Islam and maximize the cohesion of the bases of the Islamic government, the Messenger of Allah (s.a) appointed rulers and chiefs for many tribes and cities. Below is an example of his decisions in this respect:

The Holy Prophet (s.a) dispatched Rafā‘ah ibn Zayd as his representative to the tribe of Khwaysh and wrote the following letter:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
هذا كتاب من محمّد رسول الله لرفاعة بن زيدٍ إنّى بعثته إلى قومه عامّةً و من دخل فيهم يدعوهم إلى الله و إلى رسوله فمن أقبل منهم ففي حزب الله و حزب رسوله و من أدبر فله أمانُ شهرين
In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful
This letter is from Muḥammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Rafā‘ah ibn Zayd. I have dispatched him to his tribe and those related to them to invite them toward God and His Messenger. Whoever accepts his invitation will be among the Party of Allah and the Party of His Messenger and whoever turns away from him will have a two-month security respite. 3

These practices and decisions of the Prophet (s.a) confirm that from the beginning of his mission, he had been in pursuit of setting up a strong government through which to administer the universal laws of Islam in all facets of life.

Do such actions like forging pacts with active groups and tribes, organizing a strong army, dispatching ambassadors to different countries, warning kings and rulers and communicating with them, sending governors and rulers to cities and districts far and near, and the like have any other name than “politics” in the sense of managing and administering different aspects of society?

In addition to the conduct of the Prophet (s.a), the manner of the Four Caliphs, and in particular the way followed by the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s) during his caliphate and rule in his treatment of the Shī‘ah and the Sunnī is a testimony to the concordance of religion and politics.

The scholars of both Islamic groups offer extensive proofs from the Book (Qur’an) and Sunnah to support the idea of the need for the establishment of government and management of the affairs of society. Here are some examples:

In his book, Al-Aḥkām as-Sulṭāniyyah, Abū’l-Ḥasan al-Māwardī says:

الإمامة موضوعة لخلافة النّبوّة في حراسة الدّين و سياسة الدّنيا، عقدها لمن يقوم بها في الأمّة واجبٌ بالإجماع
Imamah has been laid to succeed the prophethood (nubuwwah) and to safeguard the religion and manage the affairs of this world, and pledging loyalty to the one who undertakes it is obligatory according to the consensus of the ummah. 4

This Muslim scholar, who is one of the renowned ‘ulamā’ of the Ahl al-Sunnah, presents both rational and religious proofs to support this idea. The following is his rational proof:

لمافي طباع العقلاء، من التّسليم لزعيم يمنعهم من التّظالم، ويفصل بينهم في التّنازع و التّخاصم،و لولا الولاة لكانوا فوضى مهملين و همجًا مضاعين
It is the nature of wise peple to follow a leader so that he may prevent them from oppressing one another and settle their problems at the time of dispute. And if it were not for the rulers, the people would have live in chaos like lose savages. 5

His religious proof is as follows:

:ولكن جاء الشّرع بتفويض الأمور إلى وليّه في الدّين، قال الله عزّوجلّ
{يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءامَنُوا أطِيعُوا اللهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ}
ففرض علينا طاعة أولي الامر فينا و هم الأئمّة المتامرون علينا
But religious law is intended to entrust the affairs to a religious authority. God, the Honorable and Glorious, says: ‘O you who have faith! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those vested with authority among you.’(Qur’an, 4:59) Thus, God has made it incumbent upon us to obey those who are vested with authority and such people are our leaders and rulers. 6

Shaykh al-Ṣadūq narrates on the authority of Faḍl ibn Shādhān something attributed to Imam al-Reḍa (a.s). This sublime narration includes the Imam’s words regarding the necessity of establishing a government. Below is an excerpt from his speech:

انّالانجد فرقةً من الفرق و لا ملّة من الملل بقوا و عاشوا إلا بقيّم و رئيس لما لابدّ لهم منه من أمر الدّين و الدّنيا فلم يجز في حكمة الحكيم أن يترك الخلق لما يعلم أنّه لابدّ لهم منه ولا قوام لهم إلا به فيقاتلون به عدوّهم و يقسمون به فيئهم و يقيمون بِهِ و جمعتهم جماعتهم و يمنع ظالمهم من مظلومهم
We do not find any group or community that has been able to survive without a ruler and leader because they need a ruler for managing both religious and worldly affairs. Thus, it is far beyond the wisdom of the Wise Lord to leave the people without a leader when He knows that they do need him and that they cannot exist without a ruler under whose supervision, they fight their enemies, divide the booties and spoils of war, perform their Friday and other congregational prayers, and who prevents the oppressors from oppressing the others. 7

If we want to expound on the traditions and analyze the various speeches of Muslim jurists (fuqahā) from a juristic perspective we cannot do it in this short treatise, and we need a separate volume for this purpose.

A comprehensive study of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) makes it clear that many religious laws cannot be implemented without the establishment of a government.
Islam calls on us to take part in jihād and defense, plead for justice against tyrants, protect the oppressed, implement ḥudūd and ta‘zīrāt, enjoin good and forbid evil in a broad sense, form a codified financial system, and safeguard the unity of the Muslim society. It is obvious that the mentioned objectives cannot be achieved without the establishment of a potent system and cohesive government because if we want to protect the sacred religion and defend the jurisdiction of Islam, we need an organized army, and the organization of such a strong army, in turn, requires the establishment of a powerful government that applies the Islamic precepts. In the same vein, implementing ḥudūd 9 and ta‘zīrāt 10 with the aim of performing the obligations, preventing crimes, regaining the rights for the oppressed from the oppressors and the other aforementioned objectives will not be accessible without a systematized and potent system and organization. Without such a system or organization, executing them will lead to chaos and tumult.

Although according to Islam the proofs of the need of establishing a government are far more than what we have stated, it is clear from the mentioned proofs that religion and politics are inseparable and establishing an Islamic government on the basis of the values of the luminous Islamic law is indispensable and all of the Muslims of the world are responsible for achieving this goal.

[1] Sīrah Ibn Hishām (Egypt, 2nd Edition), vol. 1, “Discussion on the First ‘Aqabah,” p. 431.
[2] See, for example, Muḥammad Ḥamīd Allāh, Al-Wathā’iq as-Siyāsiyyah and ‘Alī Aḥmadī, Makātib ar-Rasūl.
[3] Makātib ar-Rasūl, vol. 1, p. 144.
[4] Abū’l-Ḥasan al-Māwardī, Al-Aḥkām as-Sulṭāniyyah (Egypt), “Bāb al-Awwal,” p. 5.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Sūrah an-Nisā’ 4:59.
[7] Abū’l-Ḥasan al-Māwardī, Al-Aḥkām as-Sulṭāniyyah (Egypt), “Bāb al-Awwal,” p. 5.
[8] Ilal ash-Sharā’i‘, vol. 9, bāb 182, p. 253.
[9] Hudūd is the plural form of hadd which literally means a limit between two things. [Trans].
[10] Ta‘zīrāt is the plural form of ta‘zīr which literally means to reproach and to blame. While technically describing hadd and ta‘zīr, Muhaqqiq al-H!illī said to the effect: Whenever the punishment for a crime is specified by the sacred law, it is called hadd; for example, punishments for stealing, murder, etc. Whenever the punishment for a crime is not specified by the sacred law, it is called ta‘zīr and its limit is entirely determined by the judge and competent jurist. See Shahid ath-Thānī, Sharh al-Lum‘ah, “Kitāb al-Ḥudūd wa’t-Ta‘zīrāt”; Muhaqqiq al-Hillī, Kitāb al-H!udūd wa’t-Ta‘zīrāt. [Trans].