Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Codification of Islamic Sharia - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Some Islamic religious scholars lack the capacity to be tolerant as they always opt for the extreme and cannot accept moderation. They usually respond to any moderate attempts in a harsh way despite that Sharia (Islamic Law) allows them to accept and excuse those with conflicting opinions.

I have experienced aggressive verbal attacks as a response to my writings concerning the codification of Sharia. Some were extremely offensive towards me and towards those who shared my opinions. I was even considered a tool of neo-imperialism that aims to replace God’s laws with secular laws! To those people, I can only wish that God guides them to the right path.

There were others who disagreed with us, but they have good intentions in searching for the truth according to their level of knowledge. They voiced their opinions without any aggression or transgression and did not doubt my goodwill. I thank those people for their motivations.

Nevertheless, I still think that their opinions are incorrect either due to ignorance of the truth for what we call with the support of King Abdullah, or ignorance of reality and of the condition of our courts at present.

One of those scholars who opposed my attempts to codify Sharia wrote, “Sharia is strictly denoting to Quran and the Sunnah (sayings of the Prophet Mohammed). The Ijtihads of the jurists are not included as such. Now could we ever codify the Quran and Sunnah? They are so great and holy that they could not be codified in legal terms and as articles of law.”

In response, I would say that what is actually meant by codifying Islamic Jurisprudence is the writing down of its rules, which is the same as issuing Fatwas (religious edicts) deduced from Quran and Sunnah. These rules will be taken from Quran, Sunnah, and Ijmaa (consensus of jurists).

Why would this be religiously prohibited? What is the difference between the books of jurisprudence and the codification of the rules? We know that books of jurisprudence contain rules directly or indirectly taken from Quran and Sunnah to make it easier to teach students and to facilitate legislation. Codification and the books of jurisprudence are the same.

Thanks to Almighty God, our courts apply Sharia law. However, there are several rules and varied opinions as some verses in the Quran and Sunnah can be interpreted in many ways. In addition, the human mind is limited, which may cause conflict between opinions. It is for this reason that codification is necessary. It would contribute to establishing justice. It will facilitate a judge’s work and relieve him of conducting difficult research in the books of jurisprudence. We are living in times that require rapid verdicts in accumulating cases. This process will be speeded up by codification. Codification would also be useful to end the serious matter of conflicting verdicts that sometimes occur within the same case and in the same city, perhaps even in the same court or that are issued by the same judge.

Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al Obeikan

Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al Obeikan

Sheikh Abdul Mohsen bin Nasser Al Obeikan is a member of Saudi Arabia's Shura Council and a judiciary consultant for the Saudi Ministry of Justice. A writer and lecturer, Sheikh Al Obeikan is a prominent figure who actively defends Islam against the fundamental and militant ideologies of groups such as Al-Qaeda.

More Posts