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Interpretation of Islām at the State Level
Political Issues
Moiz Amjad
(Tr. by:Sadia Saleem)


If it has been accepted that the Qur’ān and Sunnah will be the supreme law of the State and that all laws contrary to these will be obliterated, then the question arises that which interpretation of the Qur’ān and Sunnah should be promulgated at the State level? Should Imam Abu Hanifa's interpretation be considered the right one or Imam Malik's? Should the Fiqh-i-Jafriya be enforced or the opinions of Imam Shaf`ee or Imam Ahmad bin Hambal be considered applicable?

We all know that the main sources of our religion are the Holy Qur’ān and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (sws). Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik , Imam Ahmad Bin Hambal and Imam Shaf`ee have, in fact, strived to interpret our religion in the light of the two above mentioned sources. These people are among the eminent scholars of our religion whose work on religious studies we take pride in. These efforts are a great boon to our intellectual heritage and are a source of guidance for us. Even then they are not the final verdict in our religion. This position is only held by the Qur’ān and Sunnah which are present before us for interpretation, just as they were for our illustrious predecessors.

Therefore, in our view it is absolutely wrong that we should consider ourselves bound by their findings and their ideas and opinions and close our eyes to the original sources; the Qur’ān and Sunnah. If there is any person who has the ability and potential to interpret these two sources then he has all the right to do so. But this does not give everyone the license to start working on it irrespective of his capability and aptitude for it. Just as we need highly educated legal experts to form the framework of the constitution of a state and we need professionals in the various fields of our lives, we also need competent scholars and experts to outline and explain the principles of our individual and collective lives as explained by the Qur’ān and Sunnah. If it has been agreed upon that all the laws in an Islamic State are enacted in the light of the Holy Qur’ān and Sunnah, then one of the following two ways will necessarily have to be adopted:

1. All the members of the Legislative should be proficient jurists.

2. A committee or group of scholars be formed for the interpretation and explanation of Islam, to which the members of the parliament can refer to for law making.

If we adopt the first alternative, it would mean that only scholars and researchers will be eligible to occupy a seat in the Assemblies. In our view, this suggestion is unpractical for a number of reasons of which the most important one is that neither scholarship and nor statesmanship is a part time job. Both have their own demanding requirements and it would be next to impossible for someone to do justice to both. This is tantamount to saying that every member of the Assembly should also either be a scientist or an expert in medicine. On the other hand, other option is not only practical but has also been applied in present times. For example in the National and Provincial Assembly whenever the technical aspect of an issue has to be probed, a committee of technical personnel is formed and their suggestions are elicited. For example, in economic issues, expert economists are referred to. In the same way expert help in environmental, marketing, finance and other spheres is solicited. We believe that in a similar manner, a committee of religious scholars and researchers who have the discernment and sagacity to undertake Ijtihad should be formed to interpret Islam. The Legislative Assembly can seek guidance from it while legislating a law.

However, three rules and regulations have to be strictly observed in this regard:

I.   Formation of the Committee

The committee of these scholars should be formed by the vote of the members of the Parliament. In an Islamic State, no person holds such a position that his decisions and views be forced upon the people. All the collective issues of Muslims must be solved through a general census. The members of this committee, consequently, must be elected by the elected representatives of the people.

II.   Authority of the Committee

The members of the committee should present their recommendations to the members of the Parliament in interpreting the Qur’ān and Sunnah in a particular affair. It should be left at the discretion of the Parliament to legislate in the light of these recommendations. Once the Parliament has made the law, any scholar from the Committee or outside it who disagrees with it is free to present an argument against it and convince people about his point of view anywhere. However, any protest against, deviation from, or violation of this law would be considered a crime against the State.

III.   Criteria in Electing the Committee

Only those people would be considered eligible of becoming members of this committee who believe that the only source of Islam is the person of the Holy Prophet (sws). Therefore, Islam is only what has been sanctioned by the Qur’ān and the Sunnah. Without this sanction the opinion or word of even the greatest scholar, researcher, jurist or Imam will not be considered as part of Islam. From this regulation, it is self explanatory that the members of this committee would be true scholars and intellectuals of Islam whose concern will not be to promote the point of view of their faction; instead they will be people who, while setting aside all prejudices, endeavour to elucidate the view point of the Word of God.

(Adapted from Moiz Amjad's Commentary on Ghamidi's "Manshoor")

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