Is the World Headed Toward Sharia Law?

To say that events in Russia and around the world moved quickly this week would be an understatement. In Russia, a constitutional coup took place — the State Duma initiated the resetting of Putin’s presidential term, giving him the opportunity to rule for another 12 years from 2024. The Constitutional Court announced that it would consider the issue in closed session, and legislative assemblies of 2/3 of the subjects of the federation approved Putin’s constitutional changes in just 2 days. Meanwhile, oil prices and the ruble collapsed, the crisis hit many stock markets, and the World Health Organization declared a coronavirus pandemic, which continued its victorious march across the planet.

We wrote about all of this in the middle of the week, but I would like to conclude by reflecting on something else. Many Muslims astutely noted that the same people, especially politicians, who criticized Muslims for following Islamic law, inadvertently found themselves following those same principles when faced with the threat of the coronavirus. For example, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, known for his attacks on Muslims in Germany for their perceived lack of integration and respect for German traditions, refused to shake Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand during a government meeting for fear of contracting the virus. This was met with understanding, kindness and laughter, but imagine for a moment the reaction if a Muslim man or woman had refused to shake hands with Merkel or Seehofer for fear of divine wrath rather than the coronavirus.

Because of the same fear of the coronavirus, many Europeans, both men and women, now wear head coverings that can hide their hair, as well as masks and gloves, thus following the strictest dress code practiced by the most conservative Muslim women. This is something that was actually forbidden in many parts of Europe not so long ago.

Today, in these same Western countries, mass entertainment events are banned, restaurants, sports centers and swimming pools are closed — in other words, Europeans are experiencing what Islamophobes warned would happen if Sharia law were to prevail in Europe and an Islamic state were to be established. And what are we seeing? The so-called Islamic State* has been almost decimated by the combined forces of the West, but at the same time it is implementing the most severe measures within the framework of Sharia or even beyond.

Another piece of news related to global trends is the draconian prison sentence given to the American producer Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexual harassment of women dependent on him. When this case was first discussed, many opponents of feminism scoffed at the fact that in the atmosphere they have created, men are prosecuted for any jokes, touches, etc., and are effectively forced to comply with Sharia law, which mandates gender separation and distance in non-marital and non-family interactions.

Another similar global trend is associated with the radical environmental movement, personified by teenage activist Greta Thunberg. At first glance, this issue may not seem directly related to Muslims, but on closer examination it is. For example, as a result of this movement, vegetarianism has increased, meaning that, like Muslims, more and more people in Western societies are restricting their food choices based on fundamental principles. It is worth noting that the growing availability of vegetarian products or dishes in stores and restaurants also benefits Muslims, especially in places where it is difficult to find meat that is permissible under Sharia law. In addition, many Islamic scholars and preachers have noted that environmentalists are raising issues that Muslims themselves should be addressing, since, according to Islam, human beings are stewards and custodians of all living beings and of nature, which has been entrusted to them as a trust.

In essence, in responding to challenges, the non-Muslim part of humanity inadvertently begins to do what it not only did not want to do voluntarily, but also vehemently opposed, seeing those who imposed such restrictions as a threat and enemies of its freedom. In other words, in such situations, the strictest provisions of the Sharia, or even stricter ones, are followed by those who feared that Muslims would force them to do such things.

Many Muslims may feel inclined to gloat in such situations, but this is hardly appropriate. First, such cases should not be used to belittle people, but to enlighten them by gently pointing out the obvious, as it is a good opportunity for them to reflect and realize the truth. Second, Muslims themselves should take a moment to reflect. Why is it that people are beginning to see the need for certain aspects of Sharia law, not because of Muslims who have in many cases rejected it, but because of other practical (such as the coronavirus) or ideological (feminism, environmentalism) considerations?

Perhaps modern Muslims should consider whether their understanding of their religion and its practice are in keeping with the demands that human development places on those charged with teaching and establishing rules that protect the good and prohibit the harm?

*Recognized as a terrorist organization in Russia.

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