The mystics met a similar fate in which torture and crucifixion often occurred. Their crime lay in believing that they personally experienced God. For the literal minded, this seemed an obvious impossibility and blasphemy: Man is insignificant and flawed while God is transcendent and perfect. Sufi mysticism continues, with a large number of devotees, but it has survived only because its adherents have accepted the concept that what they experience is not God, but rather his reflection.
Seamless garment. In its unadulterated form, the Islamic faith is essentially medieval in character. It views the world in much the same way the peoples of the West viewed life before the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. It envisions human existence as a “seamless garment,” in which all the aspects of life are united and viewed through the prism of submission to the will of God. Business, family life, inheritance, personal status, politics and war are all seen as governed by the same attitudes and laws. As a result, Muslims do not readily accept ideas that seek to separate various spheres of human activity.
The separation of church and state, for example, is not a concept readily accepted by pious Muslims, and it is often true that the zealous among them experience little remorse in the application of personal or state retribution against those seen as “impious” or “disrespectful” of God and his law. The now infamous fatwa, or religious edict, against the author Salman Rushdie was a good example of this as was the Danish cartoons incident in 2005. In both cases, death was the remedy suggested by some Islamic authorities.
A religion of law. After the initial age of development and ferment, the Islamic idea system stabilized into the forms that continue to dominate Islamic groups:
- Islam became a religion of laymen, a religion without an ordained clergy or hierarchy. Those who are often referred to as such in the West are usually religious scholars; they are scholars of the law, not clergy.
- Islam became a religion without sacraments, a religion in which family and life cycle events (like marriage) are governed by rulings and contracts rather than sacramental grace.
- Islam became a religion of law, a system in which the formulation of divinely sanctioned law was the primary and defining activity of the religion. Forms of Islam that moved away from this definition of the faith have sometimes been tolerated, but only that.
Due to this emphasis on law, the juridical and scholarly processes to formulate Sharia, or divine law, by any group became central to the life of the Islamic community. Islamic law is created by applying “tools,” known in Arabic as usul fiqh, the roots of law. These tools, which are employed by a virtual army of religious experts, are:
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Tags: Christianity Muslim Islam Shiite
- Quran (Qur”an). For the great majority of Muslims, the Quran is the uncreated word of God, a document that has existed in the mind of God from all eternity in its present language. It is in some sense an aspect of the mind of God. The Quran’s usages, admonitions and anathemas, indeed its language, are sacred. With this status, it is inevitable the Quran should be a primary source for formulation of law.