Monday, August 1, 2011

Ehteram-e-Ramadan Ordinance is unIslamic and unconstitutional

COMMENT: There is no compulsion in religion —Yasser Latif Hamdani

A thousand years before the age of enlightenment and before the idea of religious toleration took root in the west, the Holy Quran said, “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256).

It is often forgotten, when we speak of Islam, that Islam’s approach was reformist. For example, the punishment for stoning to death for adultery existed long before Islam but Islam set the bar for evidence so high that it became virtually impossible for anyone to be stoned for adultery. For slavery, Islam created obligations on slave owners in terms of treatment of slaves and encouraged slaves to be mandatorily freed on the flimsiest excuse. Similarly, Islam strictly regulated the prevalent practice of polygamy by limiting it and further setting a standard for equal treatment that is hard to achieve.

Now our mullahs have forsaken substance and adopted form. Whereas Islam sought to civilise a tribal society, our mullahs’ take is to tribalise all civilisation. Where Islam sought to regulate polygamy and eradicate its social evil, our mullahs’ take is that marrying more than once is a necessary part of faith — ironically a Mormon idea. Whereas Islam humanised and rationalised existing customs and tribal traditions such as rajm (stoning) by introducing strict proof, our mullahs want to de-humanise all laws and while Islam spoke of equality of all mankind and religious freedom at a time when these concepts were unheard of, our mullahs want to end equality and religious freedom in the information age.
The closest precedent for Ehteram-e-Ramzan Ordinance comes not from Islam but from Christian fundamentalists in the Midwest who had enacted the ‘Blue Laws’ that forbade selling of non-essentials on Sunday out of respect for the Christian Sabbath