In this issue, we will discuss a topic that requires special clarification regarding Islam: “Should religion have exclusive legislative authority?
(You can refer to the references of the Holy Quran on https://www.ahmadiyya-islam.org/es/coran/)
Should religion have exclusive legislative authority?
It is therefore a universal phenomenon which has never been seriously studied. Neither politicians nor religious leaders have ever resolved the thin blue line that separates religion and state.
For Christians, this question should have been settled once and for all when Jesus, peace be upon him, gave his historic response to the Pharisees:
Then he answered them, “Whatever is Caesar’s, give back to Caesar, and what is God’s, give back to God.” (Matthew 22.21)
These brief words are full of deep wisdom. Everything that needs to be said has been said.
Religion and mode of government are two of the many wheels of society. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether there are two, four or eight wheels as long as they maintain the correct orientation and rotate in their orbit. There can be no problem of conflict or mutual confrontation.
In full conformity with his first divine teachings, The Holy Quran studies this question by clearly delimiting the sphere of activity of each component of society. It would be an oversimplification to conceive that there is no common ground or shared common ground between religion and the state. Of course, they overlap, but only in the spirit of mutual cooperation. There is no intention to monopolize.
For example, much of the moral education of every religion becomes an essential part of the law of every state in the world. In some states, this may be a small portion; in others, a relatively larger part of the law. The penalties prescribed may be light or severe, but religious disapprovals of many punished crimes can still be discovered without reference to religion. Although they may disagree with many secular laws, when it comes to people belonging to different religions, they rarely choose to confront the ruling government on these issues.
This applies not only to Muslims or Christians, but also to all world religions. Of course, the purely Hindu laws of Manusmarti are in complete contrast to the secular legislation of Indian political governments. Yet somehow people seem to live in a state of compromise.
If religious law were seriously invoked against the political systems in force in different countries, the world would most likely turn into a bloodbath. But fortunately for humanity, this is not the case.
As far as Islam is concerned, such a problem should not arise because the precise and firm principle proposed by Islam in this regard is the principle of absolute justice. This principle constitutes the center and foundation of all forms of government which claim to be Islamic in spirit.
Unfortunately, this very fundamental point in understanding the Islamic concept of mode of government is little, if at all, understood by the political thinkers of Islam. They are wrong to make a distinction between the application of common law relating to crimes of a universal nature and without religious basis, and crimes specific to certain precepts of that religion. Therefore, only followers of these religions are subject to prosecution.
These two categories are not clearly defined. There is a gray area of considerable magnitude in which common crimes may have a religious or moral basis, while at the same time constituting a series of offenses against accepted human norms. For example, theft is a crime that varies in the degree of conviction and prescribed punishment. Likewise, there are matters of murder, drunkenness, or public disorder that are partially or completely prohibited by many religions. Some religions have specific sanctions for these offenses.
The question then arises as to how a state should deal with such crimes. This question in turn raises the question of whether Islam provides a clear and well-defined formula that can be adopted by both Muslim and non-Muslim government. If a Muslim government has been defined as such in Islam, then other very important questions arise, for example the validity of a state considering itself subject to specific religious instruction and imposing the teachings of that religion on all its citizens, regardless of whether they belong to that religion or not.
Religions have a duty to bring moral issues to the attention of lawmakers. It is not necessary that all legislation be placed under the jurisdiction of religions.
With so many different sects and varying shades of beliefs between one sect and another and one religion and another, it would only result in total confusion and anarchy. Take for example the penalty for drinking alcohol. Although it is prohibited in the Holy Quran, no punishment is specified in the Quran itself. There are those who rely on certain traditions which are in turn challenged by various schools of jurisprudence. In one locality or country the punishment would be completely different from anywhere else. Ignorance of the law would be predominant. What is true for Islam is also true for other faiths. Talmudic law would be totally impracticable. The same could be said of Christianity.
A believer of any religion can practice their beliefs even under secular law. He can be guided by the truth, without any state laws interfering with his ability to tell the truth. He can observe his prayers and perform his rites of worship without any specific law passed by the State having to allow him to do so.
This question can also be examined from another interesting angle. If Islam accepts the question of a Muslim government in countries where Muslims are in the majority, then, according to the same rule of absolute justice, Islam must grant the right to other governments to govern their countries according to the precepts of religion of the majority. . For example, regarding its immediate neighbor India, Pakistan should accept Hindu law for all Hindu citizens. If this were the case, it would of course be a very tragic day for over 100 million Hindu Muslims who would lose all right to survive honorably in India. Once again, if India were to be ruled by the Manusmarti, why would the State of Israel be denied the right to rule both Jews and Gentiles according to Talmudic law? If this were to happen, life would become extremely unhappy not only for the people of Israel, but also for a large number of Jews themselves.
But this concept of different religious states in different countries can only have a valid place in Islam if Islam proposes that in Muslim-majority countries, Islamic Sharia (law) prevails by force of law. This would again create a universal paradoxical situation, because on the one hand, in the name of absolute justice, all states would have the right to impose the law of the majority religion on their people. On the other hand, every rite of the religious minority in different countries of the world would be subject to the harsh rule of a religion in which they do not believe. It would be an affront to the very concept of absolute justice.
This dilemma has not been considered nor attempted to be resolved by the supporters of Islamic law in the so-called Muslim states. According to my interpretation of Islamic teachings, all states should be governed by the same principle of absolute justice and, as such, every state becomes a Muslim state.
Given these arguments and the overarching concept that there should be no coercion in matters of faith, religion need not be the predominant legislative authority in the political affairs of a state.
(lpbD) – God’s peace and blessings be upon him.
(To be continued in the next issue, number 53, which deals with the Islamic mode of government).