(Written in response to criticism on the article:

Islam and the State: A Counter Narrative)

 

It is a requisite of both Islam and democracy that all rulings of the parliament be practically submitted to. This means – and everyone aware of political values will also agree – that no hindrance should be created in the implementation of such a ruling, no hue and cry should be raised against it, the affairs of the government should be allowed to function according to it, through protest gatherings no attempt should be made that impairs law and discipline, picking up arms should not be resorted to against it and people must not be enticed into rebellion against it – so much so, if as a result of this ruling a government takes action against an individual, then such an action should be borne with patience. The person whom I regard as God’s prophet has given me this very guidance. He is reported to have said:

 

It is mandatory upon you to listen to and obey [your rulers] whether you are in difficulty or at ease, whether willingly or unwillingly and even when you do not receive what is your right.[1]

 

There is only one exception to this and that is if I am ordered to defy a directive of God. In this case, however, I can practically turn down such an order – in fact, it is my obligation to do so.

Every moment of my life bears witness that I have always followed what I have written above and also urged my friends and students to do so. However, I consider myself to be unfortunate to have never known that expressing a difference of opinion on the rulings of a parliament and resorting to democratic means to change them is also a crime. I am equally unfortunate to not know that submitting practically before the rulings of the parliament also means that knowledge and reason must also submit to the parliament, and that one should dare not differ with the parliament if it gives a ruling that is against a directive of God or an established moral principle or natural law or if it exceeds the limits of its right of legislation.

The irony of the situation is that the above-stated inference has been with made with great honesty and piety by disregarding the very sentence which is explicitly negating it. I had written:

 

People have the right to criticize the rulings of the parliament and also try to point out the mistake in them; however, no one has the right to differ with them or rebel against them.

 

I cannot say whether the intellect be praised of a person who makes this remarkable inference or his honesty be lauded.

Nevertheless I re-iterate here that I submit myself to every ruling of the parliament but it is my democratic and religious right that if there is something wrong in it or if limits have been exceeded in a certain case or if somone’s rights have been infringed upon because of it, I can present my critique on it on the basis of arguments. Forbidding vice and enjoining virue (amr bi al-ma‘ruf and nahi ‘an al-munkar) is among the basic principles of my religion and cultural tradition, and I have been directed to bear witness to justice for the sake of God even though this testimony is against our ownselves, our parents and our relatives. The only requisite of the principle of amruhum shura baynahum (their system is based on their mutual consultation, (41:28)) is that in order to settle differences of opinion the opinion of the majority should be practically accepted. It is certainly not a requisite of it to regard this majority opinion to be correct as well and that any error found in it should not be pointed out to people. The right to amend the constitutions of the world and constitutional documents is given because none of them has any divine status. It is the duty of men of learning to continue to evaluate and examine them, and if any mistake is detected, they should make an effort to correct it. Whatever was needed to be done to follow Islam and the Islamic shari‘ah in the state of Pakistan at the government level was never done. And whatever was done was meaningless, baseless and against the explicit directives of the Qur’an and Sunnah. I have being saying this for a long time and even now have only re-iterated it. This is a requisite of what I have been directed to do as a well-wisher of God, His Messenger and all Muslims. It should not be a cause of horror for any Pakistani, as an old and dear friend has said that my writings have struck horror in the hearts of the whole nation.

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

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[1]. Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol. 3, 1467, (no. 1836).