A State, Islamic

The debate over whether or not Pakistan was meant (or supposed) to be an Islamic State is as old as the country itself. Secular, calls one side, presenting valid arguments and reasoning. Dar-ul-Islam shouts the other, with equally justifiable claims and assertions; and the argument goes on with no respite.

An Islamic state, traditionally, is one that has adopted Islam as its State religion and uses Shari’a as the basis of its laws and regulation. The point of Shari’a, or rather any law for that matter, is to promote the smooth functioning of society and prevent chaos as everyone strives towards self-fulfillment; when someone violates the principles deemed necessary for this purpose, they are punished and corrected.

Who decides what is unlawful? Usually it’s elected representatives in the Parliament, and since no man-made law is perfect, they must always be open to criticism and alteration. In the case of Shari’a, this is largely determined by the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. In the absence of clear guidelines, we are told to employ Ijmah (consensus) and Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), which, again, are merely interpretations of divine instructions and may be subject to discussion.

The source of this concept of course, is the system of governance established by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Medina. While no Islamic state in that sense exists today, the idea of government based on our religion is certainly an appealing one and many demand immediate implementation of Shari’a laws.

Will the real Islamic State please stand up?

However, let us set the question of Pakistan as a theocratic state aside for a moment, and ponder what an Islamic state looks like.

Essentially speaking it’s a place where the state, and more importantly, the people follow the basic principles laid down in the Quran and Sunnah: don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t rape, don’t commit fraud, help those in need, respect the religious and intellectual opinions of your neighbor – you know, basic, common-sense sort of stuff, nothing extraordinary.

While we’re all quick to demand nefaz-e-Shari’at and promptly begin foaming at the mouths when anyone suggests legislation based on informed discourse, perhaps we would serve ourselves, and indeed our Creator, better by examining the disrespect to Islam we commit on a grossly national level every day.

We lie, cheat, steal and murder our way through each day and come primetime everyone sits down to lament the decay of society and wonder why things have gotten so bad. We applaud an insane man for committing one of the most egregious sins, stand by as two teenagers are lynched in public, and blame the girl when she is raped. We print hundreds of pamphlets adorned with Quranic verses, spread them around like shotgun fire and leave them to rot in the sewers. Why is this not considered blasphemy? Nay sir, we are a pious nation, God’s agents on Earth.

Of course it makes for a good sound bite when one criticizes Salman Taseer for ‘provoking public sentiment’ or the government for not implementing Shari’a law. But what good would the label of an “Islamic State” do any of us if we chest-thump for implementation but never actually practice ourselves?

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