Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Islam and International Law

Religion, Law and State

In his Friday Sermon of 08 November 2019~ 10 Rabi’ul Awwal 1441 AH, Imam- Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam Hadhrat Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius spoke about the significance of law in upholding the dignity of the individual as well as in sustaining the global order for the collective progress of human kind. Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba) identifies the distinctive contribution of Islamic values to the development of International Law in this context. 

It is instructive to note that while modern international law was for long considered to be a product of Western, Christian civilization and generally traces its origins to the legal problems that emerged in the context of the European imperial conquests (of South America in the 16th century and Asia and Africa in the subsequent centuries); there is increasing recognition in the academic literature now regarding the  profound debt the discipline owes- in shaping the contours of the subject- to the seminal writings and juristic interpretations of Hazrat Imam Muhammad Al Shaybani (ra), the great disciple of the great Muhaddith Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifa (ra), almost eight centuries before European scholars like Hugo Grotius- the 'father' of international law- began to engage with, and write about, the discipline.   

International Law as it stands today may broadly be defined as an ensemble of normative rules and diplomatic practices that guide actor-expectations in the world of international relations. And the actors on the global scene include, besides the States, international organizations, a host of official governance networks; multinational corporations, indigenous communities and the civil society organizations campaigning on reforming the systems of global governance. Despite the dynamic nature of the actor-interactions as well as the development of global rules in specific areas; the foundational values of International Law remain the same: sovereign equality and peaceful co-existence of States; the sanctity of covenants and the bindingness of legal obligations; the obligation of the Parties to act in good faith; respect for the symbols and signs of sovereignty of States, including the privileges of ambassadors and State agents; respect for diversity of community traditions and practices, etc.  Hadhrat Saheb (atba) illustrates these points with reference to Qur'anic verses and Prophetic practices, as it is the task of the true believers in this era to shun hypocrisy and work to create a just world under Islam. 

Read the Friday Sermon Below: 

Laws are very important in a person’s and country’s life. The law which deals with foreign policy is called international law. If we trace the history of international law, we come to know that there were no hard and fast rules in this regard. Even Roman law, like other ancient systems, adopted originally the principle of personality which means that the law of state applied only to its citizen. The foreigner was ownerless and strictly without any right, and unless protected by some treaty between his state and Rome, all his property could be seized by any Roman at any time.

Western law which are mostly derived from Roman law had no particular notion of international law and it was Islam which for the first time produced international law as a distinct discipline that appeared under the name of Siyar or conduct (of the ruler). Muslim thinkers have divided the world into:

1.      Dar al-Islam (Muslim Lands)
2.      Dar al-Sulh (Lands of treaty relations), and
3.      Dar al-Harb (Lands at war).

Muslims are one brotherhood. Non-Muslims in treaty relations with Muslims are dealt with according to the terms of the treaties. Non-Muslims who have no treaty relations with Islam are considered under two aspects: a land which actively persecutes Muslims and denies them the right to practice and preach their faith is Islam’s enemy, whether it is at war or not; but if it allows Muslims freedom of their religion and worship, there may be no war against it, for it is the fundamental principle of Islam that war should not be resorted to without reason.

Even with unbelievers we should deal kindly and equitably, unless they are out to destroy us and our faith. Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran: “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who did not fight against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” (Al-Mumtahanah, 60: 9)

Islam is a religion of peace and believes in peaceful co-existence, hence treaties, pacts and covenants are respected and obligations arising out of them are faithfully fulfilled.

O you who believe, keep your covenants.” (Al-Maida, 5: 2)

Verily, of the covenants enquiry shall be made.” (Al-Isra, 17: 35)

Muslim international law and its precepts are founded on universal human truths. Such precepts can apply to the whole humanity regardless of religion and race. In the Muslim concept of world order, a commitment made by the Muslim state and even by the individual Muslim can bind the entire community. Islam permits the individual, though a slave, to offer protection to an enemy and his pledge will be respected.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is quoted to have said: “Muslims are one and the humblest among them is entitled to bind them by his pledge.” Abu Ubaydah (ra) once wrote to the caliph Umar (ra) that a slave had given a pledge of security to the inhabitants of a town in Iraq, and asked him his opinion in the matter. In reply Hazrat Umar (ra) said: “God has enjoined the fulfillment of promises and you are not faithful if you do not fulfill them. So fulfill your promises to them and leave them alone.”

Great is the importance attached by the Jurists to the fulfillment of the pledge, so much so that a foreigner’s security, on such pledge, will not be affected even if a war breaks out between Muslim state and that of the foreigner. The Ambassador is considered immune from all violation and enjoys the freedom of creed and returns to his country in all safety and security.

Islam tolerates, on its territory, a multiplicity of laws, with autonomous judiciary for each community. A stranger therefore, belongs to the jurisdiction of his own confessional tribunal. Further, he is allowed to practice customs strictly forbidden in Islam. The consumption of alcoholic drinks, for instance, is forbidden to a Muslim. Yet a non-Muslim enjoys the liberty not only of its consumption but also of its manufacture and sale. Such is the toleration of Islam which seeks to establish a world order based on the principle of peaceful co-existence.

Let us all ponder over whether it is possible to adopt religious law as the law of the country. No religious law except Islam is complete and international. No religious law is as law-abiding and respectable as that of Islam, but unfortunately, the Muslims of today have made a mockery out of it, and have rendered it a farfetched idea. 

It is not an impossible feat to make Islamic laws regulate one’s country, but it will have to come step by step without any coercion. 

When the world will march towards Islam, then the lands will be ruled by Islam, otherwise, all people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike should respect the laws of their motherland unless they order you to evil and corruption. 

In the times we live, even if we take the name of God, but it is not immediately possible for us to ORDER people to act according to the laws of Islam as Islam, the true way of Islam forbids coercion in any form to make people accept it.

Unfortunately today, Muslims have gone so far away from Islam. They have become hypocrites. Even the whole human society has become hypocrite towards God Almighty and the establishment of truth and justice upon the earth. There is hypocrisy in politics and society everywhere. And hypocrisy does not permit honesty to flourish. It does not permit the word of God to take root. That is the main problem.

May Allah enable us in this era to work hard under His guidance to bring an awakening of Islam in all hearts, so that society may breathe the freshness of the air of Islam, free of corruption and coercion of any form in matters of faith. Ameen.

Those who believe shall inevitably believe by the leave of Allah, and those who turn their backs to the message of Allah, therefore Allah suffices as Judge and Witness in the matters of their faith.

وَٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ ٱلْحَقُّ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ  ۝

Wallaziii  ‘inzila  ‘ilay-ka  mir-Rabbikal-Haqqu Wa laa-kina ‘ak-saran-naasi laa yu’-minuun.”

'And that which is revealed unto you from your Lord is the Truth, but most of mankind do not believe'. (Ar-Raad, 13: 2)