The word Shariah is thrown around a lot in the media and so it is worth mentioning a few introductory points on this topic as part of the reminder.
Shariah is the law of the Quran and literally it means “A path to life giving water”. In fact the word Yarrah in Hebrew from which the word Torah is derived, means exactly the same thing and so this concept is Abrahamic and is applied to all three monotheistic faiths.
Shariah is the right to protect the rights of 5 areas. They are: Religion, Life, Family, Sanity and Wealth. It is designed so that it can create a society based on justice and equity for each member of that society.
However, it is worth noting that it forbids it to be imposed on any unwilling person. Our Prophet SAWS demonstrated that Shariah may only be applied if people willingly apply it to themselves and never through forced intervention by the state. Since Shariah is based on absolute justice, there is even an example we can take from history where the jewish King Solomon ruled as a just monarch based on this fundamental principle of Shariah law, namely justice.
So, let’s go into the next part of this reminder and a breakdown of the 5 areas based on importance.
The first is religion. To protect the religion of Islam in this time and place is paramount to us all but what does it mean? Unfortunately we have lunatics that have an extreme interpretation of this but for us it means to protect our religion through providing the correct narrative on our religion. It means to communicate with our colleagues, neighbours and friends and tell them or show them the correct meaning of Islam. It means to show them the beauty of Islam through charitable acts, friendly acts and act of humanity. This is the best way to protect our religion and to fight in the cause of Islam is to go against the tide and insist that despite what the media may sometimes portray Islam as, this is a religion of peace, compassion and contentment.
Besides the external threats, we need to protect this religion internally, that is to remind ourselves of the dangerous threats that present themselves internally. Distractions of the 21st Century that take us away from this religion such as entertainment, smartphones, social media etc. Looking up to false role models such as entertainers, sportsmen etc are all falling under this category and need to be recognised and avoided so that we don’t fail on the most important of areas.
The second area of importance is the protection of self. There are the obvious points to note here such as the forbidden acts of killing unjustly, persecution of others, protection of the needy such as the poor and the orphans etc. However, it is worth mentioning here some of the more subtle areas of the time and place and how we must protect ourselves from it. One of the biggest sins is backbiting, slandering and gossiping about others. This is also an area that has recently reached epidemic levels through social media and other forums where the anonymity that comes from not being face-to-face means that the fingers on the keyboard replace the tongue in performing these hurtful and sinful acts. Be mindful of the behaviour that one is conducting both in person and online and remember that anonymity that may be enjoyed online is still accountable on the Day of Judgement.
The third area to mention is that of family. Obvious examples that fall under this category are fornication before marriage which damages the body and mind as well as the soul and the grave sin of adultery that destroys whole families and generations.
Other points to mention under family that are more subtle is the need for protecting the vulnerable in the family. The women and children need to be protected not only from the obvious threats of our time and place but also from the subtle threats that come from popular culture, from classmates and from the parts of society that are damaging to the family unit. The protection of this comes in the form of befriending our family and educating our family. Don’t be the patriarchal parent who just lays down the law to others. Show your human side too and the family will relate better and thus be in a position to understand and respect your guidance towards them. If the family unit is strong in communication and interaction with one another then nothing can penetrate that barrier that is created through love and respect for one another insh’Allah.
The next one is the protection of the mind. Shariah not only encourages us to protect our wisdom, our intellect and our sanity but also protects those who do not possess this element of themselves. For example the imam mentioned the hadith in which the Prophet SAWS said:
A woman who had committed adultery was brought to Umar. He gave orders that she should be stoned. Ali passed by just then. He seized her and let her go. Umar was informed of it. He said: Ask Ali to come to me. Ali came to him and said: Commander of the Faithful, you know that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: There are three (people) whose actions are not recorded: A boy till he reaches puberty, a sleeper till he awakes, a lunatic till he is restored to reason. This is an idiot (mad) woman belonging to the family of so and so. Someone might have done this action with her when she suffered the fit of lunacy.
Dear brothers and sisters, we indeed are protected if we don’t possess our minds but we also need to protect our minds from becoming ill. Obvious examples of this are the prohibition of drugs and alcohol as they affect the mind and impair the wisdom and good judgement. However, alongside this are again more subtle things we need to protect ourselves from. Tools of shaitaan that may look appealing but are damaging to the mind. Adult videos which are proven to cause brain damage or even news of distress all designed to affect the mind, sadden the heart and cause despair which can lead the person to becoming lazy in their worship or worse still move away from religion altogether. We need to be conscious of protecting our mind and that comes from surrounding ourselves with happiness through family, pious people and through the remembrance of Allah and recitation of the Quran.
Lastly, the protection of wealth. The imam reminded us of ayat 46 of Sura Al-Kahf which translates to say:
Likewise, wealth and children are an attraction of this worldly life; yet honorable deeds that last forever are better rewarded by your Rabb and hold for you a better hope of salvation.
Dear brothers and sisters, the obvious examples of this are protection against wasting money on items that have no value and actions such as gambling your money away. However, there are more subtle examples that we overlook and those are such as dealing in usury or interest as its mechanism is designed to steal your wealth in the long-term, it is things like addictions to tobacco and vaping that serve only to addict the person to part from their money. We need to remind ourselves that the money we possess is a trust between us and Allah SWT and we will be asked how we spent our money on the Day of Judgement.
Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time and place where the fundamentals of our faith are being spun into taboo subjects and it needn’t be so. By education ourselves on these subjects we can both pass on the knowledge, dispelling misconceptions and protect our religion in the process, thus fulfilling the first and most important area of this reminder.