The Notion of Islamic Natural Law and the Foundation of the Sharia
The Islamic understanding of natural law is of prime importance, for it is seen as a hidden presence within the sharia. Nature is intertwined with human purpose, as Allah‘s regent on earth, to study nature in order to discover Allah and to use nature for the benefit of humankind, although we only receive this capacity if we serve Allah. It is perceived as a principle in nature, and of course, it is based on divine dictations. Both foundations are fixed and absolutely unavoidable, in that they bind us and Allah, since Allah chooses to bind himself.
Allah is bound to the rule of mercy not by His nature, but by His choice. Nonetheless, bound He is, and humans may rely upon His mercy when they repent and amend their conduct. Allah‘s dominion is our natural law because Allah has in His mercy made the order of nature abide by coherent principles and not made it subject to the arbitrary caprice that the ancients attributed to the pagan gods … the existence of natural law is a demonstration of Allah‘s unity.
The law of nature in Islam is based on the fitrah (‘ala’ al-fitrah), which is the primordial nature of humans within the divine order (i.e., living according to our human instinct/capacity in which we were created). Every individual is born Muslim. Those who profess a different religion from childhood do so as a result of a parental mistake:
No babe is born but upon Fitrah. It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.—Sahih Muslim, Book 33, hadith 6426
It is the natural desire of people under the fitrah to know and understand their creator, which they can only pursue if they have submitted to Allah. Man has been granted—with what has been described in the Quran— “vice-regency of Allah” and it is his natural/moral duty to be appreciative of this, his high calling, and to strive to attain to those qualities of character that are recognized in the attributes of Allah himself. Islam‘s stance on natural law is distinctly treated as:
– Allah as the Creator of the universe, creatures, nature, and the order of nature;
-the nature of humans, as part of the entire creation;
– nature, the universe, natural law, or the laws ruling nature and creation;
– human primordial nature and human reason, common sense and human intellect as the sources of law both in the natural law and Islamic legal and jurisprudential system
Yet there is very little sense of an objective rational order in Islam because, as explained by the fourteenth-century Egyptian jurist Ahmad Ibn Naqib al-Mirsi, Allah‘s laws do not have to conform themselves to any natural and rational order.
The good of the acts of those morally responsible is what the Lawgiver (Allah or His Messenger) has indicated is ego by permitting it or asking it be done. And the bad is what the Lawgiver has indicated is bad by asking it not to be done. The good is not what reason considers good, nor the bad what reason considers bad. The measure of good and bad, according to according to this school of thought, is the Sacred Law [sharia], not reason.
This was reiterated by Yusuf an-Nabhani (1849–1932), a jurist and founder of the Islamist political party. He taught that whatever Allah allowed was moral. Hence, there was no morality in Islam, for it was simply taught by Allah. As a result, Muslims do not expect Allah‘s actions and his laws to be reasonable, since he can command what is evil to be good, or good to be evil. And this is the foundation of sharia law.
N.B. This is an excerpt my book Islam: Religion of Peace?
Mario Alexis Portella is author of Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up
Book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble