4.0 Distinction between: (a) advising; and (b) the actual imposition of one’s preferred rules and laws.
Let me reiterate as previously discussed that “NaseeHah” does mean ‘advice’ in the sense of ‘communicating some good message to another’ and it also has the implication of “the desire for all possible good for the one being advised as well as the expectation for being true and sincere in reciprocation to those receiving it”. It is a two-way process of communication, without element of force, but leaves to the recipient of the advice, the prerogative as to whether to accept or to reject it. In other words, accepting and acting upon the advice cannot be imposed by the adviser to the advisee. Let me now continue to address the rhetorical question posted:
Question: “How do you reconcile your assertion that if everything in this Deen is advice, then why do many Islamists and so-called Da-‘ie (missionary or propagator) of Islam seemed to be speaking about wanting to impose rules and laws of Shari’ah etc.? Does this not then contradict the dicta ‘no compulsion in matters of faith’? “
Firstly, we must distinguish between (a) advising one’s view for others to consider; (b) of imposing one’s view upon another; and (c) actually imposing the rules and laws upon others.
I shall briefly respond to each of these:
As to (a) advising one’s view for others to consider; - this is the Islamic position, especially in Da’wah. In fact a Da’ie (caller, missionary or propagator) must adhere to this, in their dealing especially towards those who are non-Muslims.
As to (b) of imposing one’s view upon another; - Technically this still falls under a type of advice, because he is merely stating his intent, albeit rather strongly, but yet it does not mean that those who hear this advice have to accept and cannot reject it.
Merely stating that one “wants to do or impose” something does not provide any justification that one has that right – especially if he is a Da’ie (caller of people to Islam). In fact by using such rhetoric, it exposes the inaptness, lack of preparedness for Da’wah work, of that so-called “Da’ie”. There is an interesting saying which states that: “Du’at (plural for da’ie - caller) are not Qudhat (plural for Qadhi – judge),” Now if in being a da’ie one should even avoid pronouncing judgment but only to invite, why then the need to declare intent in wanting to implement and execute the Shari’ah? Is this inviting someone to Islam? Does this fall under wisdom? Is there any beauty in this kind of preaching? It does not even provide any basis of argument, as though merely making this statement can mesmerise or impress non-Muslims. Whereas, it is rather we are expect the opposite reaction – i.e. rejection, resentment, fear which can even lead to hateful response - would be of a certainty, given the Islamaphobia currently prevailing.
Also, to be talking about implementing the Shari’ah in a society that adopts other legal systems, and which generally do not understand Islam, this is surely inappropriate. To be insisting in overhauling legal systems is foolish; nay it would invite unnecessary (fitna) suspicion and give opportunity for mischief makers to easily label Muslims of being seditious, or to be regarded as freaks out to subvert the entire nation.
As to (c) i.e. to actually imposing the rules and laws upon others, - this is only relevant after we have considered:
[i] Whether the one who intends to impose the rule has the authority and responsibility, to do so(which includes mandate on how legislation can be done and the extent of his executive powers to govern); and also
[ii] Whether the people under him are under obligation to obey and have pledged allegiance to that authority.
Unless answers to these two aspects are in the affirmative, it would be irrelevant to discuss this point.
We have to remember that laws can be legislated in accordance with the process or convention which that society has adopted. Depending upon the kind of social system that people live in. The process for legislating laws thus may differ between one society and another. Some system may accept decree of kings or head of state, or consensus of parliamentarians, or govern by an accepted written constitution, customs, common laws and even religion. All these processes may have evolved depending upon what influences these systems and its law makers. Perhaps through debates, consultations, petition etc. contributed in affecting this process towards making some changes. One thing for certain is, a society at a given time must already accept the form or system of governing as to where or which person or institution has authority to legislate - viz. decree of rulers, the parliament or in certain countries, even religious dictates.
Side note : About replacing one system with another
History of ruler ship and government revolves around three basic areas of tension: authority with powers to rule, power that legislates, and power to adjudicate. In the early times, all these three powers reside in the king, but of necessity he requires advisors, but gradually this evolved as the people asserted their rights, or sense of propriety demanded some forms of checks and balance, and forced changes to the system - gradually, or sometimes even drastically through bloody revolution, rightly or wrongly.
Examples are like the issuance of the Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights in England; where it reformed the legislative system by strengthening the will of the people and curtailing the powers of the monarch; or in the extreme case of the bloody French revolution which deposed and replaced monarchy completely with a democratic republic. Yet in Iran, the revolution transformed it into a republic, but with an Islamic twist which differentiate it with that of France’s.
Islam values peace and order
When speaking of Islamic rule as a distinction from other systems, it is that its basic constitution is the Qur’an and as-Sunnah, and the legislation of subsequent laws can be enacted but must be by consultative process (of experts, or of representatives etc.), which must not override the constitution and constitutional principles (as derived from Qur’an and as-Sunnah).
Although not quite unlike other systems with a written constitution, in the case of Islamic system, the constitution is regarded as divinely revealed. It is not a man-made constitution – which therefore, it cannot ever be repealed by the legislature, like that as in other system. Actually today the implementation of the Shari’ah system is not as easily done as some people may seem to think, because it involves many groups of people who must agree to certain fundamentals for it to be possible. Even in a predominant Muslim country that still retain previous colonial system, to try implementing the Shari’ah has not been easy, what more to be declaring wanting to do this in countries where Muslims are still in the minority, and Islam is much misunderstood.
Da’wah which encapsulate “an-NaseeHah” (the advice) - has primacy over even politics or other worldly vanity.
And in fact, the main priority and urgent responsibility for us Muslims wherever we may be, is firstly to carry out Da’wah. I’ve always believe, (hope to always be consistent and continuously persevere on this) that our task is firstly to consider "the state of Islam (especially in ourselves; and not forgetting of people too and to continue inviting them), before considering talking about Islamic state".
Secondly, I detect in the question that perhaps what was ask is : “If there is no force or compulsion in Islam, why then do you have laws in the Shari’ah which compels Muslim to comply, even some with warnings of severe affliction of punishment, even death?”
We must always remind ourselves that this Deen (al-Islam) cannot be imposed upon others is explicitly ordained in the Qur’an:
لَآ إِكۡرَاهَ فِى ٱلدِّينِۖ
“There shall be no coercion in matters of faith”
(Qur’an: al-Baqarah: 2: 256)
أَفَأَنتَ تُكۡرِهُ ٱلنَّاسَ حَتَّىٰ يَكُونُواْ مُؤۡمِنِينَ
“.. Do you then think that you can compel
people to believe..?
(Qur’an: Yunus: 10: 99.)
So, whether a person wants to accept this faith or not, we have to respect their right and their freedom to choose. But when someone has chosen the religion, henceforth, whatever rules and laws relevant for its entire adherent, it becomes binding upon him too. Its rules or laws may compel its followers; have its own sanctions or punishment to violation etc. yet, its follower cannot then renegade and plead immunity from such ruling with that dicta ‘no compulsion in matters of faith’.
As such giving advice to one another must be done with justice. Thus giving appropriate advice depends upon consideration of relationship of a person’s right vis-a-vis his responsibility, and the given context or situation, what is applicable and relevant, etc. Advice therefore may have different stress viz. whether it is as something optional (Harus, mubah), recommended (mandub, sunnat), undesirable (makruh) or imperatives such as must be done (wajib) or forbidden (haram).
Not just any one can enforce certain aspect of the Shari’ah
Actually many non-Muslim are unaware that even in an Islamic nation, although almost every Muslim may know the Shari’ah (laws) yet it is only those charged with the authority (viz. the Ulil-‘Amr, and whoever it may appoint to execute the laws) that has the legal right to implement and execute that law. Islam does not advocate anarchy nor does it condone any of its citizens taking the laws into their own hands. Just like other systems of justice, Islam also stipulates clear guidelines of the due processes which must be strictly adhered to.
Shari’ah is not just about mere labels or branding