What, we might ask, is the significance of the publication of a weighty tome such as this on the shari’ah of Islam at this time, in this language and in these countries? We assume the reader’s understanding that the legal systems built up by Europeans over centuries incorporating basic liberties such as habeus corpus have been dismantled and are being replaced increasingly by the most totalitarian structures, which informed commentators see as perilously close to fascism. It was perhaps inevitable that something built on the frail foundations of human thought could be thus perverted, but was nonetheless terribly shocking to those who saw the accelerated process during their own lifetimes and recognised it for what it was.
It seems there is no going back. Once the framework of liberties has been demolished, there would appear to be no way to restore it. Its demolition had long preceded the more draconian manifestations. The classically trained Conservative MP Enoch Powell recognised that apparently minor legislation such as speeding fines had in essence abolished the whole basis of British law, for common law (also the basis of US law), depended on someone reporting an offence to an officer of the law who took statements and gathered evidence, later to be presented before a judge and twelve peers of the accused in a jury, the accused being represented by defence counsel and able to challenge the evidence or bring evidence of his own. Then the jury, having considered the case for the prosecution and the case for the defence, passed judgement, and the judge, weighing the case and the judgement carefully, passed sentence. However, in speeding and parking fines a single person sums up in his person the arresting officer, prosecution – the counsel for the defence having been abolished – judge, jury, and executioner of the sentence, thus effectively ending a legal system that had endured from before the time of King John and which had been erected on the basis of foundations such as the Magna Carta. We have not even begun to talk about the legislation for the ‘terrorist threat’.
Now, the world simultaneously slips into a lawless chaos, in which unbridled corporate greed is paralleled by organised crime, street thugs and hoodlums, both unchecked in any effective sense by government and police, along with the rise of a totalitarian control of the citizenry unparalleled in world history and of such dimensions as neither Hitler nor Stalin could have aspired to. The two poles of political motion, a conservatism that protected the aristocratic and arguably benign rule of monarchy and a socialism that campaigned for the rights of the poor and the workers, have been replaced by ‘centrist’ parties which, without exception, kow-tow to banking and financial powers, leaving democratic voters with no alternative whatsoever. This is the end of the European inspired dream of a just order based on rational thought and the will of the people, all of them. This totalitarian order now extends from the Amazonian jungles to the mountains of Afghanistan, and is close to realisation of its most cherished aim: the world state.
Lest anyone think that the world state will be our salvation, let them reflect on the fact that our European and American states, which feel themselves so civilised, and are so smug about the apparent peace and lack of warfare on home soil, in reality grew out of horrendous civil wars, after which they resolved never again to fight on their own turf, achieving this by the simple expedient of being continually involved in wars elsewhere. The English civil war led rapidly to the Glorious Revolution, establishment of the Bank of England and the birth of the British Empire out of the barrel of the gun trained on the hapless Chinese, Indians and Africans et al. The US civil war equally led to the century and more in which the US was continuously at war somewhere on the earth, that country’s economy largely based also on weapons manufacture, leading to the remark of Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper’s, to the effect that most recent US wars have been advertising, because the economy largely depends on arms exports.
Thus, human aggression has not been tamed in Judaeo-Christian society but merely unleashed elsewhere in the world in series of genocidal wars against the poorer peoples of the earth. The world state will not be a placid and peaceful middle class suburb, but something akin to the dystopic visions of our artists and thinkers: a high-tech élite in highly policed towers surrounded by disenfranchised and criminalised underclasses of almost sub-humans. The war will no longer be ‘out there’ but increasingly, as we witness today, right in the cities: permanent civil war, although it will never be identified as such. “Only a god can save us now,” in the words of the great German philosopher Martin Heidegger in his one and only newspaper interview.
Only a god can save us now, since it is precisely the lack of belief in a god that drives the nihilism of the age. But Heidegger deliberately chose the indefinite form ‘a god’, since there is no hope that the Judaeo-Christian God will do so, his demise having been seen so clearsightedly by Nietzshe.
When in the meeting a group of us had with former Home Secretary Charles Clarke we suggested that the key to terrorism is nihilism we overestimated his education. If he had understood Dostoyevsky he would have known that the origins of the all-too-obvious nihilism of the anarchist suicide bombers lay in their parents’ middle-class, middle-aged atheist materialism and failure of moral courage, and he would have seen that the young suicide bombers who so terrified him were the children of a society with no belief left in anything except living for the moment, that ‘living’ being a suicidal rush to extinction with the aid of every single unhygienic sexual practice and toxic substance available.
Only a god can save us and it is only the shariah that can replace the monstrous distortion that is modern law, yet the suggestion that the shariah as ‘a system’ can save us is utterly fatuous, for indeed in the hands of a totalitarian state, even the shariah, which is an embodiment of mercy, can be turned into a tool of tyranny and oppression.
To understand this, we must understand something of the term ‘guidance’, which has two aspects: first, explaining and making clear what is right and what is wrong. In that sense, this book is a manifestation of that first type of guidance, since it is an explanation of what is right and wrong as shown by the last revelation of the Divine to all mankind by means of the Messenger Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. However, the second guidance is precisely the one that is needed at this point, and without it the shariah will be ineffective.
It is good to point out to the alcoholic that his addiction is killing him, but it is often superfluous since he is exactly the person who knows it better than anyone else. The wisdom and the guidance lies in showing him how to disengage from his suicidal habit. For this a deep knowledge of the human self is required. Unfortunately modern man is burdened with a ghastly materialistic view of the human self that inevitably traps him in an addiction that is so extreme that it amounts to an addiction to his own destruction. How else to explain the apparently unstoppable devastation of the biosphere and of every form of human conviviality that we experience almost daily?
For this benign science of the human self there is a precondition, which is that the human being wants it and asks for it, and only a god can help us, but since the God of the Judaeo-Christian age is dead, that anthropomorphic deity, whose theological contradictions weighed him down, not only must we turn to a god, but to One Who is beyond our existing conceptions of Him, and we must ask for the wisdom that will allow us not to hurtle to our own destruction, and will allow us to benefit from this first guidance, this clear manifestation of what is right and what is wrong that is the shariah of Islam.
And because things don’t just fall down from heaven but have their pathways in this world and on this earth, we must ask to meet the people who have this guidance, who embody it and who can pass it on, having received it in transmission over the generations from the best of mankind, the last Messenger from the Lord of the Worlds, Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
Shari’ah – Islamic Law is published by Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., London, UK