Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Khaled Abu El Fadl has written an article titled :

Islam and the Challenge of Democracy
Can individual rights and popular sovereignty take root in faith?
I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote some of it for all of you, because even though I encourage everyone to read anything Abu El Fadl has written, I know that not everyone has the time that an insomniac has to spare…so here are the highlights..Grab your coffee, take a breath and enjoy…It's a few minutes of reading, be patient.
"To a believer, God is all-powerful and the ultimate owner of the heavens and earth. But when it comes to the laws in a political system, arguments claiming that God is the sole legislator endorse a fatal fiction that is indefensible from the point of view of Islamic theology. Such arguments pretend that (some) human agents have perfect access to God’s will, and that human beings could become the perfect executors of the divine will without inserting their own human judgements and inclinations in the process. "
“ a government that declares its intention to abide by all the positive commandments of Shari‘ah may nevertheless manipulate the rules in order to obtain desired results. Under the pretense of guarding public modesty the government could pass arbitrary laws "
“To date, Islamist models, whether in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, have endowed the state with legislative power over the divine law. For instance, the claim of precautionary measures (blocking the means) is used today in Saudi Arabia to justify a wide range of restrictive laws against women, including the prohibition against driving cars. This is a relatively novel invention in Islamic state practices and in many instances amounts to the use of Shari‘ah to undermine Shari‘ah.”
"if shura is transformed into an instrument of participatory representation, it must itself be limited by a scheme of private and individual rights that serve an overriding moral goal such as justice... As a result, regardless of the value of specific dissenting views, dissent would be tolerated because doing so is seen as a basic part of the mandate of justice. "
"The Qur’anic celebration and sanctification of human diversity incorporates that diversity into the purposeful pursuit of justice and creates various possibilities for pluralistic commitment in modern Islam. That commitment could be developed into an ethic that respects dissent and honors the right of human beings to be different, including the right to adhere to different religious or nonreligious convictions. At the political level it could be appropriated into a normative stance that considers justice and diversity to be core values that a democratic constitutional order is bound to protect."
"In the Qur’anic discourse mercy is not simply forgiveness, nor the willingness to ignore the faults and sins of people,
13 but a state in which the individual is able to be just with him- or herself and others, by giving each individual person his or her due. Fundamentally, mercy is tied to a state of genuine perception of others—that is why in the Qur’an mercy is coupled with the need for human beings to be patient and tolerant with each other.14 Most significantly, diversity and differences among human beings are claimed in the Qur’anic discourse as merciful divine gifts to humankind (11:119).15 "
"Interestingly enough, it is not the pre-modern juristic tradition that poses the greatest barrier to the development of individual rights in Islam. Rather, the most serious obstacle comes from modern Muslims themselves. Especially in the second half of the last century, a considerable number of Muslims have made the unfounded assumption that Islamic law is concerned primarily with duties, not rights, and that the Islamic conception of rights is collectivist, not individualistic. "
"Even if there is a unified realization that a particular positive command does express the divine law, there is still a vast array of possible subjective executions and applications. "
"I would suggest Shari‘ah ought to stand in an Islamic polity as a symbolic construct for the divine perfection that is unreachable by human effort. "
"To put it more concretely: if a legal opinion is adopted and enforced by the state, it cannot be said to be God’s law. By passing through the determinative and enforcement processes of the state, the legal opinion is no longer simply a potential—it has become an actual law, applied and enforced. But what has been applied and enforced is not God’s law—it is the state’s law. Effectively, a religious state law is a contradiction in terms. "
"Whatever the meaning derived from the text, can the human interpreter claim with certainty that the determination reached is identical to God’s? And even when the issue of meaning is resolved, can the law be enforced in such a fashion that one can claim that the result belongs to God? God’s knowledge and justice are perfect, but it is impossible for human beings to determine or enforce the law in such a fashion that the possibility of a wrongful result is entirely excluded. This does not mean that the exploration of God’s law is pointless; it only means that the interpretations of jurists are potential fulfillments of the Divine Will, but the laws as codified and implemented by the state cannot be considered as the actual fulfillment of these potentialities. "
"no religious laws can or may be enforced by the state. All laws articulated and applied in a state are thoroughly human and should be treated as such."


Jandeef said...

Interesting .. thanks for sharing :)

we love kuwait said...

lIve been scanning through ur blog with my slow gprs connection for the past 15 mins, I have noticed that we share many similar thoughts and interests and im just glad to know you exist! I initially just wanted to invite you to visit our webpage and check out our children's books ( which im sure ull love) but your vaccination post really really encouraged me to look for ur email address or something! My husband and I have been studying our vaccination options even before our son was born and it seemed to us that we r the only people in Kuwait who are aware of the dangers and risks of this decision. I don’t know if you have kids of ur own or anything else about u but please do email me on I think we have plenty to talk about!

Noor said...


This is off-topic but I'm working on a research project about the Kuwait blogs and was wondering if you wouldn't mind taking my survey? Full details are below:


My name is Noor Ali-Hasan and I am a graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Information. As part of my master's thesis project, I am currently conducting a study about bloggers and their social networks. Based on your blog, you have been selected to participate in a short online survey about blogging. To qualify for the survey, you must meet the following qualifications:

* Be at least 18 years of age
* Currently keep a blog
* Have a blog that contains a blogroll and/or allows comments
* Have a blog that is part of the Kuwait Blogs community

Your participation is completely voluntary. The survey should take about ten to thirty minutes to complete. You may access the survey at this address:

All survey data will be kept confidential. The study's findings will be reported in aggregates and will not be used to identify a specific person. If you have any questions about this survey, please email me at

Your time and participation is greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

Noor Ali-Hasan
Master's Student, Human-Computer Interaction
School of Information
University of Michigan

Shemsi said...

Hi Kwtia

What happened to you? I've been away for a while and I figured I had missed a lot of updates. . . but it turns out you have been gone longer! Anyway, I hope you are well and that you will be back soon!!