Why do our scholars keep raising new debates which create unrest and confusions? Why are we defaming Islam by raising such issues in an attempt to show we are moderate, we are on a journey of modern enlightenment etc.?
It is true that some 'scholars' keep on raising new debates and issuing controversial statements.
With all due respect to every Islamic scholar, speaker, and mufti, the reason behind these strange opinions is the weakness of universal principles in the thinking process of these scholars.
In the Islamic law, there are certain principles, which are universal and over-riding, i.e., no detailed ruling is allowed to go against these principles.
Characteristics of Islamic Law
I find the words of the Islamic scholar, Ibn al-Qayyim, about the 'Islamic law' which I am quoting below, quite informative in describing these principles and the primary role they have to play in understanding and evaluating Islamic rulings.
Shari`ah is based on wisdom and achieving people's welfare in this life and the afterlife. Shari`ah is all about justice, mercy, wisdom, and good. Thus, any ruling that replaces justice with injustice, mercy with its opposite, common good with mischief, or wisdom with nonsense, is a ruling that does not belong to the Shari`ah, even if it is claimed to be so according to some interpretations. (Shamsuddin Ibn al-Qayyim, I`lam Al-Muwaqi`een, ed. Taha Abdul Rauf Saad (Beirut: Dar Al-Jeel, 1973) vol.1, p. 333:)
This is what the Islamic law is about. Any alleged ruling that replaces wisdom with nonsense, or replaces justice with injustice (like many of the unfair 'rulings' and fatwas we hear these days), is simply not Islamic law, and represents nothing but its holder's personal views.
More Important Issues
These scholars should, instead, direct us to face our major development and human rights challenges, rather than wasting our time with these 'non-rulings'.
Islam is the religion of roughly one-quarter of the world's population. However, the most recent United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Annual Reports show a Human Development Index (HDI) on the lower side for most countries with majority of Muslims (United Nation Development Programme UNDP, Annual Report)
The HDI is calculated based on a number of factors, which include literacy, education, political and economic participation, women empowerment, in addition to standard of living.
Some wealthy Arab states, which rank exceptionally high in terms of average income per capita, rank much lower in terms of justice, women empowerment, political participation, and equal opportunity.
Related UN reports also point to various forms of human right violations and corruption in most countries with majority of Muslims, as well as dilemmas with co-existence and citizenship of Muslim minorities in their societies.
In summary, Muslims everywhere are currently facing major development challenges, which are posing a large number of serious questions.
Is There a Problem With Islamic law?
The Islamic law is our drive for a just, productive, developed, humane, spiritual, clean, cohesive, friendly, and highly inclusive society.
However, unfortunately, there is little evidence for these values on the ground in Muslim societies and communities everywhere. So, the big question is: Is there a problem with 'Islamic law'?
The answer of the above question depends on what you mean by 'Islamic law'. First, we should differentiate between three different meanings of the general term 'Islamic law,' in order to answer the above question at this point.
1. Shari`ah: The revelation that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had received and made practicing it the message and mission of his life, i.e., the Qur'an and the Prophetic tradition.
2. Fiqh: The huge collection of juridical opinions that were given by various jurists from various schools of thought, in regards to the application of the Shari`ah to their various real life situations throughout the past fourteen centuries.
3. Fatwas: The application of Shari`ah or Fiqh to Muslims' real life today.
What Do We Mean by Islamic Law?
So, if you mean by the 'Islamic law' the Shari`ah, i.e., the revelation that was given to Muhammad, which he internalized, practiced in his own life, and went through a long educational process to educate his companions and the world about it – then the answer is: No. There is no problem with the 'Islamic law.' It is a way of life that is all about justice, mercy, wisdom, and good, as Ibn al-Qayyim had mentioned.
If you mean by the 'Islamic law' the Fiqh, i.e., the Islamic schools of law's wealth of heritage, then the answer is, also: No. There is nothing wrong, generally speaking, with juridical reasoning carried by scholars for their own environments and times.
It is true that some individual scholars had made mistakes and/or had taken controversial positions on issues. However, this is the nature of juridical research.
The role of scholars, at all times, is to correct each other and participate in the ongoing debates.
However, if you mean by the 'Islamic law' fatwas, then the answer is: It depends on how the fatwa is issued.
Some fatwas are manifestations of Islam and its moral values, and some others are simply wrong and un-Islamic.
If the fatwa is copied verbatim from some classic book in the Islamic law, then it is quite possibly flawed because it is quite probably addressing a different world with different circumstances.
If the fatwa is based on some sort of twisted interpretations of a script, with an aim to serve the political interests of some powerful people, then it is wrong and un-Islamic.
If the fatwa is allowing people to commit an act of injustice, discrimination, harm, or immorality, even if it were to be based on some sort of 'interpretation,' then it is also wrong and un-Islamic.
If the fatwa is issued based on the Islamic authentic sources, on one hand, while keeping people's welfare and the principal values and purposes of the Islamic law in mind, on the other hand, then it is a correct and valid fatwa.
I hope this answers your question.
Source: www.onislam.net — Ask about Islam — Jasser Auda.