Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nonviolent Resistance in Islamic Law

23 July 2009

I'm familiar with the teachings of nonviolence in Christianity and Buddhism, but until now the teachings of the Q'uran have been unknown to me. Of course we are all aware of the Islamic fundamentalists who believe in using violence to destroy a free society; but I've suspected those views are as extreme and heretical to mainstream Islamic teaching as the extreme right wing fundamentalists are to Christian doctrine.

Well, I may be correct. Here is an enlightening debate published by the (British) Law Society Gazette on the topic. Click to read: "Challenging Debates Remain on Islam and English Law" (July 23, 2009)

The article is more broadly about the challenges of whether English law ought to enforce or incorporate Islamic law in areas where without it the parties might not receive the protection to which they would otherwise be entitled, for instance when a husband in a Muslim polygamist marriage divorces his wife and she is left with no protection under English law. But a portion of the article includes discussion of nonviolence under Islamic law, and I will copy that here (in italics):

[The question was raised] "whether ‘moral or religious obligation’ could ever justify ‘the use of force inadmissible under secular law’.

Abdullahi An-Na’im, professor of law at Emory University, answered immediately with a resounding and unqualified ‘no’.

He acknowledged that his opposition to an unjust law might require ‘peaceful, non-violent dissent’ – for which he would accept the consequences. ‘But absolutely “no” to violence, regardless of whether the state
permits it.’"

So, my hunch is correct. Now for more study. Do you have comments to add or resources to recommend for further study? If so, please leave a note!

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