ʿAqīl المُصْطَفَوِي

ʿAqīl المُصْطَفَوِي



Islām is a very personal matter—each of us will be held individually accountable for our actions, but make no mistake, Islām is not merely confined to the personal. Islām emphasises a strict unity of life and law. This is a thread, inshāAllāh.

To understand the all-embracing role that the Sharīʿah plays, you have to understand Islām’s conception of man. The place of the human on earth with a specific responsibility (amānah) is the basis in which our morality is anchored. “Lo, we offered the trust unto the heaven…

and the earth and the hills, but they shrunk from bearing and were afraid of it. And man assumed it” —Q 33:72 Hence, the Islāmic understanding of man’s moral responsibility has always been connected to our place in the universe in a certain hierarchal order.

For example, Imām Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī in his treatise on moral philosophy, Kitāb al-Nafs wa al-Rūḥ begins with the hierarchy of beings [marātib al-mawjūdāt] with man distinguished from angels, animals and plants due to us having intellect, wisdom, disposition, and desire.

This makes it possible for us to be culpable for our actions in this world, thus, every action we do must be based on the thought of whether we are fulfilling our amānah. This is closely tied with Qur’ānic eschatology which views this world merely as a place for preparation…

to the hereafter. The Sharīʿah, conceptualised as “the expression of the will of God”, dictates how a person should live in light of the premises stated above. Hence, political and economic mechanisms, applications, and institutions that you find in works of fiqh…

(e.g. muʿāmalāt, siyāsah, etc) could only be justified through their role in trying to realise the goal of fulfilling our amānah. Without the Sharīʿah in place, there is no way for an individual to fully observe right conduct in this life. In short, the Islāmic…

paradigm can be seen as a value-based one, in which mechanisms are used to reach values which are eternal. If we relegate the role of Islām merely to the personal, another paradigm has to be adopted to replace the injunctions/prohibitions in the Sharīʿah that govern public life.

These “other laws”, which I will call secular laws, do not share the same conception of man as Islām. The modern nation-state’s conception of a human is merely one being a citizen. The value of a citizen is measured in terms of material productivity and obedience to secular law

In this conception, the question of morality as a set of values is absent and one is instead preoccupied with efficiency and material acquisitiveness. As Wael Hallaq notes in his The Impossible State, the question of “why be moral?” is central to modern moral philosophy…

in a very peculiar way. The question presupposes a condition where people think about the moral as something distinct that is not taken as a matter of course. It is also predicated on several assumptions that restricts answers that it views as acceptable—these assumptions…

revolve around this-worldliness and the material, hence why the Qur’ānic eschatology is incompatible. This is one of the important aspects of Hallaq’s thesis: the differences in the conceptions of man, because socio-political and socio-economic mechanisms are derived from this

That is why the notion that “the secular” is neutral is a myth. These ideological underpinnings influence many different institutions in modern society: criminal laws and its enforcement, academia and education, etc. In this paradigm, there is no place for eternal values.

Mechanisms are constructed with the goal that *they* are the ones creating values, instead of the values preceding the mechanisms and being independent from social structures. Hence mechanisms produce values (which constantly change) and are not used to reach values.

This is what Ahmet Davutoglu calls the “mechanism-based legitimacy of the Western paradigm” in his book Alternative Paradigms. Note that these are all metaphysical assumptions that are not apparent and requires a comprehensive view of both Islām and the secular to make sense of.

Wallāhu aʾlam. Correct me if I’m wrong.

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