Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Individual

Broadly speaking, Islam pursues its social objectives through reforming the individual in the first place. The individual is thus seen as a morally autonomous agent who plays a distinctive role in shaping the community's sense of direction and purpose. The individual is admittedly required to obey the government but he obeys the ruler on condition that the latter obeys the Shariah. This is reflected in a renowned hadith that

there is no obedience in sin, obedience is only in righteousness. [Tabrizi]

We may also quote here two other hadiths that substantiate the moral autonomy of the individual. In one of these Abu Dhar al-Ghifari reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, ordered him to

tell the truth even if it is unpleasant. [Ahmad]

and in the other he declared that

the best form of jihad is to tell a word of truth to an oppressive ruler. [Ibn Majah]

The dignity and welfare of the individual is of central concern to Islamic law. The five essential values of Shariah on which the ulama are in agreement, namely faith, life, intellect, property and lineage are all premised on the dignity of the individual, which must be protected as a matter of priority.

Compiled From:
"Shari'ah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali

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