The Council of Islamic Ideology is a constitutional body that advises, according to Article 230, the legislature whether or not a certain law is repugnant to Islam, namely to the Qur’an and Sunna.However, its religious and intellectual output is non-binding, advisory in nature.
Peeping back into the history, all the major theologies and civilizations have been transformed in at par with socio-cultural configuration, organically and holistically. However, Islam, a dynamic and progressive Din, has been hijacked by a bunch of clergy class which has been hell-bent on irrational orthodoxy and uncalled-for regression.
Before explaining CII’s relevance and the much needed religious and intellectual output, let me discuss the ever dynamic, transformative nature of Islam as a divine Deen. Generally, Sharia is thought to be divine and immutable and no human being can make any changes in it. In fact, Sharia laws have been developed by eminent imams like Abu Hanifa and others to meet the requirements of their time and place. Thus Sharia can be described as a sincere human approach to divine intention. It is well known that when Imam Shafi’i shifted to Egypt, which was a confluence of Arab and Coptic cultures, he realised this and changed his position on several issues.
Sharia, it is important to note, must remain dynamic and relevant to the time and place where it is applied. Fundamental principles and values on which Sharia is based cannot be changed, but the laws based on these principles and values should and must change from time to time to keep them relevant and useful. That is why in most Islamic countries traditional Sharia laws have been changed or codified to make them as useful as they once were.
Al-Qaradawi has given 10 grounds on which fatwas can be changed; all these grounds are highly relevant. First, he gives four grounds on which fatwas should change i.e. change in time, change in place, change in conditions and change in what he calls ‘urf (social practices or traditions). The Quran also uses the term ma’ruf in this sense. Then he gives six more grounds for desirability of change which are: change in knowledge; change in needs of people; change in capabilities of people; spread of calamity (when some acute problem becomes common); change in collective political or economic condition and change in opinion or thought.
Quran clearly espouses ijtihad(innovation) in Al Tuwbah[9:122].In fact our ulema forget that ijtihad was not only permitted but encouraged by the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) and the hadith pertaining to Ma’adh bin Jabal is well-known. When the Prophet appointed him to the governorship of Yemen and he came to take leave of the Prophet, Ma’adh was asked how he would govern. Ma’adh said, according to the Quran. The Prophet thereupon asked what he would do if he did not find the solution to the problem in the Quran, to which Ma’adh said he would govern according to the Sunnah. But when the Prophet asked if he could not find it in the Sunnah also, Ma’adh said “ana ajtahidu” (I will exert myself to find the solution). The Prophet thereupon patted his back and told him he was right.
What I am saying does not apply to ibadaat, i.e, matters pertaining to worship, the world hereafter, etc., but only to matters pertaining to mu’amalat i.e interpersonal relations like marriage, divorce, inheritance and many other similar socio-economic matters.
Of late, Marvee Memon presented bill to ban child marriages . The CII has termed the bill “blasphemous” and anti-religious. The proposed legislation looked towards ensuring harsher punishments for those promoting the marriage of a minor and raising the minimum age for marriage to 18.
Most of the Muslims believe that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) married Hazrat A’ishah when she was simply seven years of age and consummated marriage when she was 9. First, this hadith appears about three hundred years after the death of Prophet (PBUH) and in depth researches by many scholars clearly show that her age at the time of marriage was not less than 17 or 18 and at the time of consummation of marriage about nineteen or twenty years.
Epistomologically, marriage is a contract in Islam and the Quran calls it a ‘strong covenant’ (mithaqan ghaliza) (4:21). Pragmatically, Imam Abu Hanifa allowed child marriage for sociological, rather than religious or Qur’anic reasons, had also to make provision for what is called option of puberty (Khiyar al-Bulugh) i.e. the girl, on achieving puberty or the age of proper understanding, could accept or reject the marriage and her marriage guardian (usually father) also cannot force her to accept the marriage if she is unwilling. Imam Abu Hanifa had to make this provision because he knew her marriage guardian is not an absolute authority to give her away in the marriage as a child.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (among other charters and conventions) all directly or indirectly forbid the degrading and mistreatment of girls inherent in child marriage. It can result in loss of education career, mental and physical violence and above all chromosomal abnormalities.
Again ,by the same token, the head of Council of Islamic Ideology said he is willing to review the blasphemy laws that critics say are regularly misused and have led to the deaths of hundreds, to decide if they are Islamic. This is appreciated, including its recent ruling on women as judge and Niqab. How can traditional Islamic law justify punishing blasphemy with death, given the lack of any mention of earthly punishment at all for this crime in the Quran?
To begin with, we can look at the Quranic position on blasphemy in the following verses (Qur’an 47:32, 34). Blasphemy is indeed a serious offence against God but no earthly legal penalty is ever mentioned. Rather, the Quran emphasises that God will ultimately punish blasphemers, not any human law.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan also has in its penal code laws that prohibit and punish blasphemy against Islam ranging from a fine to death. The Criminal courts often decides a case of blasphemy on the basis of public emotions and political interests rather than the divine writ. Pakistan’s Criminal Code has its blasphemy laws. For instance, code 295 forbids damaging or defiling a place of worship or a sacred object, code 296A forbids outraging religious feelings, code 295 B forbids defiling the Quran, code 295 C forbids defaming Prophet Muhammad.
The un-Quanic and un-Prophetic practices adopted by many Muslims scholars must be challenged. Islam is not the monopoly of self imposed scholars. It is a faith given to people for their well being and guidance without any interference from any authority other than Allah , the almighty. Those who assume the divine role in condemning people and deciding their life and death must be challenged and what better way than to seek the repelling of blasphemy law in light of the Quran and Sunna.
If Muslim religious scholars are seriously concerned about the sensitivities of people with regards to their faith and its holy figures, then they should advocate common laws for every religion and religious community emphasizing that respect must be shown to all religions and freedom of speech must not be seen as a license to hurt and provoke others.
The CII has failed on many fronts. It could not come up with solid, measured solutions on role of DNA in rape cases, child marriage, human cloning, and test tube babies role of women in today world, suicide bombing, Pan-Islamism ,to name just a few. Logically and pragmatically, in the presence of parliament and Islamabad Shariat court, it’s better to disband it and empower the parliament to steer Pakistani society out of theses brewing crisis and legislate on issues keeping in view modern day realities.
Ijtihad(innovation) is the need of the day rather than Taqleed(imitation) which has been the result of medieval, patriarchal and orthodox forces dividing Islam between the God-haves and the God-have-nots. If forensic science is not taken as a salient component in rape cases then will be so mad and insane who will commit fornication in someone’s presence. Also keeping in view the weak judicial system, its mandatory to synchronize both religious injunction and technology for better dispensation of justice.
The Child Marriages Restraint Act,1929, which extends to the whole of Pakistan ,restrains child marriages and also provides punishments for a male adult marrying a child. Similarly, the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance,1961, is a specimen of innovation and rational thinking which dealt with polygamy and succession holistically. Theologically, It may be a bitter pill for the siege mentality, but, in actuality, it is based on socio-cultural realties. Wisdom demands that the issues of globalization, terrorism, family planning, rights of minorities , cloning, and gender parity are subject to rigourous, threadbare analytical deduction and rational thinking by public representatives well versed in diversity of knowledge. Rectification and introspection be materialized sooner than later.
Writer: Saeed Ullah Khan Wazir, Baka Khel, Bannu.
The writer is a human rights activist and rational human being. He can be reached at
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