Integrating the Qur’an, the Shari’ah, and Muslims into America during the Era of Artificial Intelligence
by Robert D. Crane and Safi Kaskas
With knowledge multiplying continuously, our understanding of the Qur’an should always be reconsidered.
In a world where knowledge is “doubling every 12 hours”, it is wrong to consider that what the scholars decided to be Islamic law in the 10th century is still fully Islamic today unless we want to live as if we were frozen in time. Instead, Muslims need to focus on the maqasid or irreducible purposes of Islamic jurisprudence, about which the new book, Maqasid al Shari’ah: Explorations and Implications, is perhaps the best compilation, including the chapter “Jurisprudence: The Ultimate Arena for Existential Clash or Cooperation within and among Civilizations”.
This is edited by Mohamed el Tahir el Mesawi, Deputy Director of the International Institute for Muslim Unity at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). The eleven chapters in this long-delayed publication were selected from 93 papers presented in 2006 at the first international conference ever convened specifically to deliberate on different aspects and dimensions of the doctrine of maqasid al shari’ah and its relationships to various disciplines.
As presented in this chapter, the first of two sets of four maqasid as guidance consist of haqq al din (the right to freedom of religion), haqq al nafs (respect for the human person and human life), haqq al nasl (respect for marriage and human community), and haqq al mahid (respect for the physical environment). The second set, focusing on implementation through compassionate justice, consists of haqq al mal (respect for the universal right to economic opportunity and broadly-based ownership of productive property), haqq al hurriyah (respect for the universal right of self determination or political freedom within a constitutional republic recognizing that the highest authority is God), haqq al karama (respect for human dignity, especially gender equity), and haqq al‘ilm (the right to education based on respect for the rights to free speech, publication, and association).
These norms or guidelines constitute the essence of Islamic jurisprudence. They provide a sophisticated methodology for understanding the Qur’an and evaluating the ahadith (sayings of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), so that the rules and regulations (ahkam) can be applied justly according to their higher purposes.
When talking about shari’ah we should understand that, in order to be realistic and relevant, the shari’ah must have two essences, the input of love and the output of human rights. Without eternal input, there will never be any lasting output. Quite simply, who would care about justice unless one were motivated by love? The Prophet Muhammad’s favorite prayer was Asaluka hubbaka, wa hubba man yuhibbuka, wa hubba quli ámali yuqaribunni ila hubbika, “Oh Allah, I ask you for your love, and for the love of those who love You, and for the love of everything that brings me closer to your love”.
In the era of Artificial Intelligence and Information Revolution with knowledge multiplying continuously and giving rise to possibilities of metasticizing extremes in paradigm management we should continually read the Qur’an with new eyes, reflecting on it, and consider the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) example in Medina as the first implementation of the Qur’an based contextually on time and place.
The only text that is permanent, is the Qur’an, but even the Qur’an has a dynamic meaning to its fixed text. This is why any translation of the Qur’an should be reviewed at least every ten years.
This entire universe has One Constant, God its Creator. Everything else is always changing. This is a universal law, part of the “natural law” that in its various manifestations lies at the essential core of every world religion. This truism is a result of the dialectical relationship between being and becoming. Everything is always becoming.
Safi Kaskas is an administrator in the managerial sciences with over 40 years of broad-based experience in strategic planning, leadership and business ethics with an emphasis on strategic management in the corporate and academic worlds.
Dr Crane isn the Chairman of the Center for Understanding Islam and Muslims. Between 2012-2015 Dr Crane was a Professor of Islamic Studies in the Qatar Foundation’s and Director of its Center for the Study of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies. Earlier in his career, under President Nixon, he was appointed Deputy Director for Planning in the National Security Council, and under President Reagan he was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. Please see bio on page 141.