There is a small but growing number of Muslims who hold the view that political participation outside an ‘Islamic system’ is forbidden (haram). Such conclusions depend on a variety of antecedent conclusions: that sovereignty belongs to God; that Shariah rules must be imposed upon people by the state; that taking part in the governments of non-Muslim majority governments is also haram; and the like.
This site aims to set out in detail why these antecedent conclusions, and therefore the whole extremist-separatist project, are wrong. Such positions are inimical to the real interests of Muslims living in the modern global order; but they are also a clear departure from centuries of well-established religious thought. And in case anyone should suggest that during all those centuries of profound scholarship, the great thinkers whom Muslim tradition has preserved for us were far astray, the Islamist separatist position is just as patently a departure from the practice and world-view of the Prophet of Islam himself, God’s prayers and peace be upon him.
Without wanting to give such ‘political parties’ too much prominence, groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir have played a part in popularising these erroneous ideas. Of course, it is debatable whether they have actually come any closer to their own objective of establishing a Caliphate (in their understanding, an autocratic, expansionist state, seeking to impose a single interpretation of Shariah on the people). But the guiding ideology is dangerous unless soundly rebutted.
For the purposes of this site, Tahrir is taken as the archetype of these ideas since, compared with other groups such as ISIL, they have been more detailed in their exposition of them and have a much more detailed narrative within which their ideas are situated. While their presentation of extremist ideas is the one most frequently referred to, the arguments apply a fortiori to most other Islamist separatist movements also.
This site aims to show that Tahrir’s ideas are far from being definitive. Tahrir openly state, and would have Muslims believe, that their conclusions on a whole range of issues are definitive and represent the only tenable view in Islamic legal orthodoxy. Moreover, they would seek to impress upon non-Muslims that their ideas are the pure realisation of Islam and that they are somehow representative of what the Prophet himself (pbuh) would advocate.
We hope that opinions from the classical jurists presented here will serve to challenge and rebut their claims as well as reinvigorate debate by presenting new or unfamiliar evidences related to political ideas. Also that, with time, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike are able to see that far from having religious ideals, the current Islamist rejectionist organisations have at their heart only ideological and political concerns.
We identify a number of erroneous positions advanced by Tahrir and similar movements, and set out exemplars from the classical tradition that show the inadequacy of their interpretation of the Quran and the Sunna. In essence, our argument can be summarised as follows:
- Modern rejectionist movements project modern political categories backwards into sources that make no mention of them.
- Traditional Muslim understanding of Sharia (Divine Law) has always been pluralistic, due to the human incapacity to definitively discern God’s will.
- Early Muslims and the tradition show that governance is for securing society’s needs and interests, not for imposing interpretations of Sharia.
- Early Muslims and the tradition show that full engagement in civic life with non-Muslims is recommended, and sometimes obligatory.
- ‘Dar al-Islam’/ ‘Dar al-Harb’ are not intrinsic to scripture. It is enough for a Muslim that they are able to profess their faith in a given state, to call that country their home.