Reconstructing the Sharia

Rehabilitation of jurisprudence

It is apparent from the foregoing that there are a few issues in the way Islamic law developed. In order to make way for tradition to become a root of the law, a number of assumptions had to be made.

Prominent among these assumptions were the following:

  1. Quran has ambiguous passages.
  2. Tradition is revelation.
  3. Tradition is a higher authority than reason
  4. Tradition can abrogate the Quran.

The first of these assumptions enabled engaging traditions to “explain” the Quran. The second enabled tradition to become a root of the law. The third protected tradition from a critical evaluation by reason. The fourth enabled rulings to be brought into the sharia that have no basis in the Quran.

The problem with these assumptions is that they are unwarranted by the Quran. Several principles of jurisprudence were violated in the process, among which was the need to maintain the priority of revelation (Quran) in relation to tradition at all times.

Nowhere did the failure to maintain the supremacy of the Quran as the chief “root” of the law manifest itself more than in the theory of the abrogation of revelation by tradition.

It is because jurists endorsed the abrogation of revelation by tradition that punishments were incorporated into the shariah which have no basis in the Quran, and in fact go against it.

Upholding the Quran

Muhammad Iqbal called for the “reconstruction of Islamic thought.” Islamic thought includes the sharia.

To bring the sharia in agreement with the Quran, the notion of the abrogation of revelation by tradition has to be suspended and the shariah reconstructed in a way that no ruling contradicts the Quran.

Reconstructing the sharia should help restore to Islam its original spirit of inclusiveness, mercy and forgiveness.

Reevaluation of traditions

A re-evaluation of traditions will be required, and traditions that go against the spirit or letter of the Quran should be jettisoned. No tradition whose meaning runs counter to the teaching of the Quran should be retained and permitted to be a “root of the sharia.”

The methodology of the authentication of traditions should also be revisited. The principle of the agreement of the content of tradition with the Quran should be rigorously applied at every stage of the process of formulating the law.

[Disclaimer: Readers are advised to check the veracity of the statements made in this post for themselves. If any reader finds an error in this post, kindly inform me].