Monday, 11 January 2010

Is it worse for someone to cheat on their lifetime spouse, parent of their children; or to park their car over two painted yellow lines?

Perhaps a strange question, but a question I hope which evokes some thinking about what we determine as right and wrong. Britain and the West are free, secular societies so they say that they do not concern themselves with the private lives of individuals. However the rule of law in any nation frames the parameters of the society they live in, and therefore set forth the rights of wrongs that that society lives by.

In Britain it is a criminal offence to park your car on a double yellow line. To be honest I haven't really researched the rationale behind this law, however I assume it must have something to do with safety for motorists, convenience for those who live, work on those roads, etc (Who knows?) However to cheat on your life partner, someone you have married for life, and had children with, might be viewed badly in some sections of society, but is not a legal offence.

Although Western societies claim to not involve themselves in people's private lives and do not claim to dictate any type of moral code to the public, the reality is that often they do. They do not lay down a comprehensive moral code exactly, but they definitely do set down parameters for what people can and can't do within society. I can't run stark naked through Oxford Street, I can't hurl racial abuse at my work colleagues and I can't go and end the life of some random person on the street. There is the argument that freedom exists only until your assertion of freedom will harm someone else, and so such laws are justified - But however you put it, that's not real freedom, then is it? It's a set of norms, set within the Houses of Parliament with very little public influence (look what happened with Iraq), which the public must accept as their code to live by. It's a set of dictated rights and wrongs, labelled as 'freedom'.

However you could argue, that a dictated set of norms is a bit of an exaggerated adjective to use as the public largely accept the rights and wrongs which their laws have put down. And this is fine, however the question then arises is who actually decides what is right and wrong in the first place? Who really knows what is right for an entire population of over 60 million people in Britain? Is it right to ban every single citizen from smoking in public? Allowing every adult citizen to drink as much alcohol as they want? Not allow all groups of people within the society to debate and discuss their values, as they really are?

If parking my car in certain places is illegal, and adultery isn't, who designates these things as wrong and right? The truth is law making in democratic nations, is not simply about creating a set of laws for the betterment and benefit of the public - even though it can sincerely attempt to be at times - But the reality is that in a Capitalist nation, corporate companies, economic pressures, political rivalry, can all be things which can influence and help formulate law and policy. A recent documentary laid out how the Israeli lobby has clearly seeped into the main political parties within Britain, influencing their view towards the MidEast conflict, just because many of them have big bucks or their hands in some important pockets.

This discussion about right and wrong is a key one, in a time where the Government is eager to define what should be right and wrong for Muslims. What type of political voice we should have, what type of Islam we should have. In this climate, we need to be able to discuss with everyone, Muslims nad non-Muslim and get them to think about this idea of what is really right, and what is really wrong. Even the norms in society, which are deemed right, outside of the law, should be questioned. So why is it we deem it right to walk out the door showing our body and hair as women, luring others to our femininity and sexuality? Who deems this right? Where did this come from? Yes maybe the desire of women to be free, but more largely the desire for capitalist companies to create a booming fashion and beauty industry - Have we ever thought about where our rights and wrongs come from in this way?

So how can we ensure that we follow the right and abstain from the wrongs which are best for us, as human beings, best for our selves, our families, communities? And not simply for the benefit of the rich and therefore most powerful? The problem with man-made law is that human beings are inextricably influenced by their own desires, needs, prejudices when viewing things and are of course limited in our understanding - We don't even know what is going to happen to ourselves in the next second. So if we don't even know what's best for ourselves, what is best for our families according to their needs, how would someone therefore know how to meet the needs of millions of people?

The Shariah is a set of rules and laws, devised by the Allah SWT, who created every single thing on this Earth, and therefore knows each and every one of us best. In the Shariah Allah SWT has given an entire code for living for an entire society, where no particular individual has any particular precedence, but all are subject to the law of Allah SWT. No one's desires, personal benefits are allowed to take centrestage in policy making, as it is Allah who knows best:

'It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.' Surah Baqarah

The Shariah enshrines the rights and wrongs of Islam, where pleasing Allah is what is always right, and displeasing him, wrong. The family is the microcosm of the Islamic society and is given due importance, and individuals are obliged to live with one another with respect, care and concern, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

Therefore for the Muslim, what is right in life and what is wrong is set out, crystal clear. It's not about what we as individuals think is best and right, but what Allah thinks is right. It means what is right for society, not what is right just for the individual.

I'm not trying to say we need to go around calling everyone in the UK to live by Shariah, before my words as I imagine will be oh so misconstrued, but that we start a debate with people from all elements of society to begin to question the very foundations in society and understand that the rights and wrongs which the West live by are not the only universal rights and wrongs. That we should not just take the status quo of what is deemed right and wrong around us, for our own, just because the majority around us follow them. Rather Muslim or non-Muslim - we should question the basis for the views which we have, the beliefs we have and start the debate about what is really right and best for any society in this world.

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