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How will shari‘ah be established in Western countries?

Shari‘ah will be established in the West in the same way that it was established in Medina during the time of the Holy Prophet sas himself, through democracy. Allah Almighty says:

Verily, God commands you to make over the trusts to those entitled to them, and that, when you govern between men, you judge with justice.

(Surah an-Ni- sa’, 4:59).

Allah Almighty refers to governance as a trust that belongs to the people which they give over to the officials they elect. Also in this verse, Islam teaches that the ruler does not have absolute power, but is bound by checks and balances and must stay within the bounds of justice. The Holy Prophet sas was an embodiment of these teachings. When he sas arrived in Medina, the population was majority non-Muslim. Three of the five tribes of Medina were Jewish, and the two idolatrous tribes had not yet fully accepted Islam. He was not made head of state by virtue of his being a Prophet of God. Rather, he sas was democratically chosen as the head of state by a majority non-Muslim populace. With his arrival in Medina, he sas and all of the tribes of Medina established a constitution by mutual agreement, known as the Charter of Medina. It placed checks and balances on his government and guaranteed fundamental human rights to all citizens, including freedom of religion.

The only exception to this principle is cases where non-Muslims
are guilty of war crimes. There, governance can be imposed on them without their democratic consent, and the secular laws of Islam can be enforced against them. For example, if non-Muslims are guilty of the criminal offense of waging warfare against Muslims to suppress their freedom of religion, then the Holy Quran permits Muslims to fight them in self-defense (Surah al-Hajj, 22:40–41). Addressing those who wage aggressive religious warfare against Muslims, Allah Almighty says:

Fight those from among the People of the Book who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor hold as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unlawful, nor follow the true religion, until they pay the tax with their own hand and acknowledge their subjection. 

(Surah at-Taubah, 9:30).

If such oppressors are defeated and come under an Islamic government, the secular law of Islam in this verse would apply to them as citizens of an Islamic government, and they would be required under shari‘ah to pay a tax for their crimes as an extreme measure.

However, in all ordinary circumstances, Muslims are not permitted to enact the shari‘ah on a populace without their democratic consent. The systems of Federal and State government that exist in the United States are similar to what was established by the Holy Prophet sas in the first Muslim country of Medina. In Medina, there was a central government (i.e., federal government), the head of which was the Holy Prophet sas by mutual agreement. There were also various tribes (i.e., state governments), of whom three were Jewish, on whom the Islamic shari‘ah was not imposed.

In a way, the foundation of a structured government was established in Medina, whereby every community, despite being free in its religious and internal affairs, was regulated by a common law and central government.

(Seal of the Prophets, vol. 2, p. 27)

If Islamic shari‘ah is established in the west, there would not be any need to make many changes to the government. The Federal government would uphold the basic rights and responsibilities of the citizens, and each State would be required to abide by those Federal laws. However, State governments would have the right to make laws locally according to the ideals of their populace. If the majority of the population of a State is Jewish, they could choose to enact State laws according to the Jewish shari‘ah, just as various States are presently given freedom by the Federal government to enact laws locally according to their local population. If the majority of the population of a state is Humanist, they could choose to enact State laws according to their ideals.

Also, in Civil Law, the people of each religion would have the right to have their cases decided by their own shari‘ah or by arbitration, similar to how our qada has the right to functions here in the West. Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih IV rta gave the example of the Holy Prophet sas:

Jews came to him for guidance or for decisions. Without fail, every time he enquired from them: “Would you like your dispute to be settled according to the Jewish law or according to the Islamic law or according to the arbitration?” Without fail he never imposed Islamic law on a non agreeing party, which did not belong to the faith.

(Shari‘ah Relationship Between Religion and Politics in Islam, p. 30).
Updated on January 4, 2019

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