In the contemporary world, Muslims are spread almost all over the globe and are definitely a force to recognize with. But at the same time there are issues of diverse nature emerging at the global level which have direct or indirect impact on Muslims also. The new world order which is almost dominated by the western countries has controlled almost all the affairs of political, social and economic aspects. The role of Islamic jurists, Scholars and legal luminaries assumes significance in changing circumstances to guide the Muslim societies on such matters where Islamic texts (sources) are expressly silent. It must be noted that contemporary changes have to be adjusted as per the principles of Islam and not vice-versa. That is and should be the golden rule of Ijtihad. The Muslim voices all over the world have been very different in their methodology and approach for upbringing the change in their respective societies. Some believe in participating elections to bring the change, for some mass-uprising is a solution, for few it is active armed resistance, while some believe in passive resistance and finally are those who believe only in the propagation of the message of Islam. For some, Islamic state is not really needed as there is no such concept in Islam. Generally some ritualistic aspects of Islam like prayer, fasting, zakat etc. are imposed in addition to the Islamic punishments to lay claim to the status as an Islamic state. Is this enough? The liberal scholars argue that the Prophet wanted to build a religious community instead. If Muslims evolved into a political community it was accidental rather than essential. Hence the Qur’an lays more emphasis on values, ethic and morality than on any political doctrines. It was more a society rather than a state. But there are majority of the Islamic scholars who are the staunch supporters of revival of Khilafat. Now in today’s Muslim world, if an Islamic state is formed, then what would be its structure, parliamentary or presidential, monarchial or democratic? Would it be khilafat in real sense? During the republican phase of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, “bay‘ah” had meant a contract between every individual citizen and a candidate for office of the Caliphate. What would be the composition and role of the Shura (Parliament). Who shall be the members of such parliament? These are the questions which are to be addressed. Since the Muslims have grown with the growth of Islam and have now inhabited almost sixty countries of the world. The conventional bayah system (allegiance to Caliph) is not possible for each and every person due to increase in populations and the expansions of Muslim territories. Therefore would elections be a viable option to bring Islamic revolution. Since all our laws with the exception of personal laws have been secularized. How far they would be upheld in the contemporary Islamic political structure. However whether Islamic state in its true character will be formed or not, but the heads of Muslims states have the option of incorporating Shariah in their states in their constitutional, criminal, civil, and social matters. Some scholars like Muhammad Asad believe that an elective form of government is more compatible and majority principle is more viable, while some scholars like Dr. Israr believe that elections cannot bring true Islamic revolution and cannot change system. Similarly what will be the powers of the head of the state? Is democracy of modern sense adjustable in Islam? Dr. Khalifa Abdul Hakim, the Pakistani scholar argues that Islamic democracy is some what different from today’s democracy. He says that decision by raising of hands and counting the votes of the ignorant and the wrong-doers alike, each one to count for one and nobody as more than one has no place in Islam . In Islam all must be equal before the law, but all could not be equal in framing the law. Framing of a just law is the concern, is the right and duty of men of knowledge and integrity, it should not become the petty game of party politics where legislation is proposed or opposed in order to maintain the strength of a party or to dislodge from power a ruling party. Therefore Ijma (collective ijtihad) is the essence of the Islamic democracy. As Iqbal believes that to do ijma must be delegated to the elected body that is parliament in the modern sense? Some scholars believe that it is enough to incorporate Islamic principles in the constitution, irrespective of one man rule or collective government. Similarly is there any scope for theocratic state or secular state? It is, therefore, not possible to talk of an ‘Islamic State’ with a sense of finality. Today also there are several Muslim countries with as varied forms of state as monarchical to dictatorial or semi-dictatorial to democratic. All these states, however, call themselves as ‘Islamic State’. There are similar sort of question regarding running of political affairs in a Muslim populated country and its relations with foreign states in which need to be answered in the light of Quran and Sunnah using the instrument of Ijtihad. The Muslim scholars in modern age are keenly aware of the economic disequilibrium in Muslim society. The interest based economy has raised lot of questions in the Muslim minds. Even though there is a categorical and express rejection of usury /riba in Islamic texts but still there are voices which take refuge of contemporary changes in allowing riba and they argue that the forms of interest have changed since then. What is the scope of insurance in Islam? Similarly banking has become an essential part of our life. Muslims are taking housing loans for the constructions of their houses, purchasing cars. How far it is justified in Islam? In this scenario the scope of Ijtihad regarding the structure of Islamic banking and its modules can be taken care of. How a Muslim should conduct his economic affairs in a secular state or in a non-Muslim state or for that matter in the interest based economy? What is the scope of Share-Market for economies of Muslims countries?There is no comparison of any other religion or system with Islam when it comes to granting status and dignity to the woman. Equality accorded by Islam to woman is unparalleled. With the change in our modern societies, and new slogans of woman empowerment and equality of sexes, we see today almost in all sectors females have been competing with males in earning, participating in economic activities and even in the field of politics and other areas. Although it is viewed as a compromise with her integrity and chastity and invasion on her inherent rights and duties bestowed upon her by the creator.
Therefore Ijma (collective ijtihad) is the essence of the Islamic democracy. As Iqbal believes that to do ijma must be delegated to the elected body that is parliament in the modern sense? Some scholars believe that it is enough to incorporate Islamic principles in the constitution, irrespective of one man rule or collective government. Similarly is there any scope for theocratic state or secular state? It is, therefore, not possible to talk of an ‘Islamic State’ with a sense of finality.
The question is how far a muslim women can participate in social, economic and political activism. Since Islam advocates for the segregation of sexes but often we see extreme interpretations and tendencies being followed by orthodox conservative group and rational liberal feminist group. The middle ground seems missing with the result gender injustices are rampant. There have been divergent opinions regarding the purdah and even in its interpretation. Allama Iqbal criticizes the west for permitting women to enter the field of economic competition and says that experience has shown that this has not led to increased economic production. It has only resulted in the breakup of family life. He believes that in view of the peculiar conditions emerging, the teachings of Islam and the recent discoveries in physiological and biological sciences, Muslim women should live within the limits laid down by Islam and their education should also be conducted in such a way as to conform to these limits. He argues that nature has assigned separate duties to men and women and human welfare is bound up with this natural arrangement. Muhammad Abduh, the Egyptian reformer justifies the relative superiority of man over woman, he says by nature woman is unable to earn here living and keep of Makruhat (unwanted things) from her. Especially is this so when a woman is pregnant or when she gives birth to a child and during the period she milks the baby. There are other opinions who believe females can do job or earn or participate in economic activity only in women and children oriented institutions e.g. hospitals, schools, universities which are only meant for females. As such Islam has made obligatory on husband to earn for its family, however in exceptional situations where husband is unable to earn, there is permission for women to job is the view of many scholars. These issues are to be addressed and in this field there is scope for Ijtihad. Similarly the question of political role and participation of women in contemporary times is another issue which needs attention by the Islamic Scholar around the globe in the back drop of increase in crimes being committed against women globally. In recent years controversy over the sighting of moon on the eve of Ramzan and subsequently on Eid has also been the cause of concern in Muslim Ummah, as being seen the indicator of split in the Muslim fraternity. In recent years we have witnessed Eid being celebrated on different days in South Asian, gulf, and in some parts of Europe, Eid is celebrated a day or two earlier than South Asia. There is a dire need of ijma (collective ijtihad) on this issue that Global central Committee pertaining to Sighting of the Moon must be considered as the supreme authority on this issue. In the broader consensus, all over the globe there should be efforts in reaching the conclusion on celebrating eid on the same day but there are definitely some geographical issues and astronomical issues involved. Therefore, the experts of the relevant field are to be sought on this issue. Sunset and Sunrise varies in different time zones with different latitudes and longitudes. In USA and Canada Islamic Council of North America has made remarkable achievements in this direction. Actually there is a hadith recorded in both Bukhari and Muslim: “Abu Huraryah narrated that the Prophet Muhammad SAW said: ‘Fast after you have seen it (the new crescent) and end the fast( at the end of the month) when you see it. If it is hidden from you, then wait until the thirty days of Shabaan have passed’. We have conflicting interpretations of this Hadith. On one side there are scholars who literally interpret it as seeing with naked eyes. Thus rejecting scientific calendar. On the other side we have scholars who use this hadith in wider sense that hadith means to see it. They argue if science is facilitating its vision based on calculations of new birth of moon with the advanced mode of astronomy and physics, why not to follow this Sunnah/Hadith of Prophet in much efficient way. They claim birth of crescent once established scientifically with astronomical modes, the of course ruyat and shahadat will be done accurately. There are extreme positions emerging that to celebrate eid all across the world on the same day and the other is to celebrate on three different days within a single country.
(The author is pursuing Ph.D at Law Department Kashmir University. Views are his own)