The mantra that Islamic law has no place in modern societies is repeated by
modern pundits in subtle, and sometimes, not-so-subtle ways. It is a
recurrent theme in the media, frequently interpolated with certain shocking
images for maximal effect. Often the images used- including floggings,
beheadings and stonings- are taken out-of-context and sometimes from different
times, but never matter. The victims almost always are, of course, veiled women.
The intended end result is a popular notion that the Islamic penal code is harsh,
barbaric and a tool for the suppression of people. All of this is strengthened by
attempts by contemporary Muslim individuals to reinterpret Islamic law in the
absence of the Sunnah and the understanding of our traditional scholars.
Common to these efforts is a gross ignorance of the complexity, details and aims
of the Shari‘ah. An objective and penetrating study of the topic would clearly
reveal that Islamic law has a benevolent and enlightened side that is too often
ignored. It is high time for Muslims to step forward and reclaim the noble role of
the Shari‘ah in the enlightenment and progress of human society.