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Irfan Yusuf on sharia

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Irfan Yusuf has an interesting piece putting sharia in context (at least as he sees it from his Sufi perspective) in today’s SMH:

In 2002, a visiting Indonesian academic lawyer delivered a series of lectures under the auspices of the Centre for Independent Studies. Professor Mohammad Fajrul Falaakh is a vice-dean of the Gadjah Mada University, among the top 100 universities in the world. Falaakh is also a senior figure in the Council of Theologians, or Nahdatul Ulama, the world’s largest Islamic organisation.

In the annual CIS Acton Lecture, on the topic of sharia and pluralism in Indonesia, Falaakh listed five basic values of sharia, agreed on by sharia scholars from all schools of Islamic law. If one compares the five principles of sharia to the six values espoused by Costello, one finds they are virtually identical. Perhaps this is what Australian imams mean when they state in their sermons that Australia is a more Islamic country than most Muslim-majority states.

But this should be of no surprise. After all, sharia is not the name of a draconian system of legal punishments. It is not a synonym for amputations and beheadings. Rather, sharia is a legal tradition, a set of legal principles based on certain values. And those values are identical to those expressed in the Old and New Testaments …

Some commentators present sharia as a system of medieval criminal punishments. But for Australian Muslims, sharia represents little more than ethics (honesty, enterprise) and liturgy (how to perform prayers, weddings, funerals). Costello’s comments on sharia are, in effect, an attack on liturgy that should concern followers of all faiths …

Indeed, Costello’s comments about those seeking to establish sharia in Australia do not go far enough. What he should have said was that those seeking to establish only sharia (outward liturgy) without its spirit (inner liturgy or the spirit of the law) should find another country and another religion.

Christ castigated rabbis who followed the letter, but ignored the spirit, of sacred law. Muslims believe the sharia to be an updated version of the same law, the outer manifestation of the same Abrahamic values. However, this must exist in tandem with an inner manifestation – given a variety of labels by Muslims and commonly known in the West as sufism.

A minority of Muslims seek to establish sharia without sufism across the world. They are the source of virtually all terrorist groups in the Muslim world. Their theology is regarded by mainstream Muslims as isolationist and fringe. They distort sharia by imposing it on people without the inner discipline of sufism. They are openly hostile to sufi tradition.


Written by Admin

March 1, 2006 at 10:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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