Friday, March 14, 2008

Shari'ah: the 4th dimension - its vision of the good life

Besides beliefs, virtues and rules, there is a 4th aspect of the Shari'ah: its vision of the good life. The Qur'an refers along with beliefs, virtues and rules, to these matters; tells
  • what is the ideal life?
  • what are its constituents?
  • how they compare with each other? and
  • who are the embodiments of that good life?
The Sunnah of the Prophet further elaborates Islamic values and priorities. But Islamic thought has done little to carry the task further.

Fiqh has been more concerned with particular aspects of life, with various forms of worship, with social, political, economic activities separately, and has defined what is right or wrong, obligatory or commended in each and every field. There are various schools of fiqh, and in each there are hundreds of books that discuss rules down to the minutest details; there are also many books that deal with the principles of these schools. But there are not half a dozen works which address some of the questions raised.

Philosophical works on ethics in Arabic and Persian which should have discussed these questions, unfortunately rehearse Greek ethics, and hardly attempt to explicate the Shari'ah. They do introduce changes and modifications into the inherited system, but that does not affect its basic character. They hardly attempt to give Islamic answers to fundamental questions of ethics in the light of the Qur'an and Sunnah and explain the Islamic Shari'ah.

Sufi had, therefore, nothing to check their understanding and interpretation of Islamic values and priorities in the light of their kashf & experience, demands of the tariqah or philosophical beliefs. TO BE CONTINUED...

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