Thursday, October 22, 2009

Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s Confusion: Shariah vs Fiqh

Here's is my part of a series of writings about Raja Petra's glaring mistakes in his understanding of Islam and also his attempt to spread his confusion to the masses.
Raja Petra in his latest article is quoted to be saying():

“However, as I have written in the last few articles, the Shariah is not constant and neither standardised. The interpretation of the Shariah developed over 300 years from the mid-600s to the mid-900s. And there are variants to the interpretation, depending on time and place.
Sudan, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, the UK, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., all have different variants to the interpretation of the Shariah. Some even combine the Shariah with Roman, Greek, English, French, Italian, etc., laws. So which version is Zul talking about?
If you want, I can go into detail on the different interpretations of the Shariah. But this will take, maybe, 20 or 30 pages and I am sure many of you would just skip it without bothering to read it because you will find it boring or not of concern to you.”

Apparently, this is the source of Raja Petra’s confusion. He is unable to distinguish between “Fiqh” and “Shariah”. Allow me to quote Noah Feldman from his brilliant article whom I have quoted so many times:

“In fact, “Shariah” is not the word traditionally used in Arabic to refer to the processes of Islamic legal reasoning or the rulings produced through it: that word is fiqh, meaning something like Islamic jurisprudence. The word “Shariah” connotes a connection to the divine, a set of unchanging beliefs and principles that order life in accordance with God’s will. Westerners typically imagine that Shariah advocates simply want to use the Koran as their legal code. But the reality is much more complicated. Islamist politicians tend to be very vague about exactly what it would mean for Shariah to be the source for the law of the land — and with good reason, because just adopting such a principle would not determine how the legal system would actually operate.”
( )

In truth, Shariah is a set of laws shown to us from Divine sources that cannot be compromised i.e. prohibition of iqour, fornication, adultery, usury etc. These laws are set and fixed and remain fixed until the end of time.

“Fiqh” on the hand is the product of “Ijtihad” which in turn requires “mujtahid” to make interpretations or current circumstances in order to allow shariah to be applied effectively. The Fiqh is where all variations occur because in matters of fiqh, the Quran and Sunnah is silent.
Malaysia is already a hybrid state as we speak
RPK says:

“Yes, that is what the Thesaurus has to say about the word hybrid. So, a Hybrid State, as opposed to a Secular State, Theocratic State, Republic, Monarchy (meaning absolute monarchy and not Constitutional Monarchy), and whatnot, would mean it is a state that is a mixture of two or more systems.
Malaysians have a name for this. Malaysians call it rojak. And rojak would be similar to the English salad, except that it is hotter (meaning spicy rather than temperature), a mix of many types of fruits and vegetables. Hey, is the tomato a fruit or vegetable? The jury is out on that one as is the argument about whether the chicken or the egg came first. Did the chicken come from an egg or the egg that came from a chicken?
I will let Zul sort this one out as I am sure if he can make sense from a Hybrid State then he can certainly answer the question as to whether the chicken or the egg came first.”

In case RPK has been living elsewhere, Malaysia has been existing as a hybrid state since it’s inception. That is why the various Shariah courts are recognized and never considered to be illegal or ultra vires to the constitution.
In fact, shariah courts preceeds the Federal Constitution by about 2 centuries. So, for Raja Petra to think that Malaysia is a secular state is a clear sign of misapprehension. (Read here for more information

RPK, you need to stop interpreting Islam from the English version of the Quran. That is your source of confusion. The Quran is in Arabic and it was sent down in Arabic. As such, it must be interpreted and understood in it’s original language.
Then only you can tell the difference between confusion and clarity within the Islamic world.

Tulang Besi