Shariah and Science

A true brother on the path said: “To follow the Shariah is to be a good Muslim. To study the Science of Tasawwuf (Sufism) is to become a true human being. The Shariah is a precondition to engaging with that Science. It’s like learning to walk before we can run.”

The Tailor thought:

But surely the Shariah, God’s most direct communication, is above any science, including the Science of the Body. And surely it is a communication sent to human beings, not to wild things. The Law is written for human beings alone. Therefore Science precedes the Law.

Prophetic becoming is a crowning line of flight from Mecca to Medina. From Love to Law.

To engage with this crowning of Love by Law: how can we engage with this crowning? By means of the Law itself! The Law encloses the Science, because its sole purpose is to define, self-reflexively, this crowning. The Real nature of the Shariah goes far beyond mundane (and ultimately Imaginary) socio-politics, in fact there is little to link them apart from a family resemblance. The Shariah is for the Cosmos itself: its nature is more akin to subatomic physics. It is precisely the Logic of Life. A logic and meta-logic is built into each article of law: their jurisdiction is the very act of attempting to read the Divine Communication, including the communication of Shariah. An act of reading that is, in essence, this crowning of the human being.

But we must become human first, before we read too deeply. Perhaps those who are not interested in reading, should simply be content to be humans, elevated above all creation anyway (who could ask for anything more?) in the knowledge that Life comes from Love and Love is the meaning of Life.

All lawyers, however, should be human. This is the first principle of the Verandah Vanguard. A wild man cannot study law, he will eat skin and not fruit. A wild man cannot judge, least possibly serious miscarriages of justice occur.


2 thoughts on “Shariah and Science

  1. “To follow the Shariah is to be a good Muslim. To study the Science of Tasawwuf (Sufism) is to become a true human being. The Shariah is a precondition to engaging with that Science. It’s like learning to walk before we can run.”

    In truth, it’s more like learning to ride a horse before learning to drive – something that made sense, when ‘driving’ meant driving horses but became nonsensical with the introduction of the internal combustion engine.

    Why is it, I wonder, that such large swathes of the ‘Umma insist on believing that everything remains forever more as it was when Jibrail appeared to the Prophet Muhammad nearly a millennium and a half ago?

    For instance, an ‘Islamic Supplies’ site – no doubt created using the latest web technologies, with Kanban style fulfilment processes keeping impatient customers satisfied – offers the ‘very finest Hijazi mishwaqs‘. For God’s sake, people, get a life!. The Prophet used a mishwaq because there were no such thing as toothbrushes.
    Were he alive today, he would go into a pound shop and buy a cheap plastic toothbrush like everybody else.

    It’s not just that it is absurd to imagine that Allah gives a damn about whether someone uses a toothbrush or not. What kind of person wilfully stays stuck in the pre-mediaeval past because the Qur’an doesn’t mention Colgate?

    The Shariah was a mishwaq – something provisional, until something better can take its place. In fact, it was a mishwaq in two senses – historical and spiritual – in that it was both a body of law for a people who were a long way off the more humane laws that we are familiar with today, and a body of law for people who were a long way off being able to being able to follow the dictates of conscience (in other words, a long way off being Sufis).

  2. Peace James,

    A classic Souttarian response 🙂

    I agree with your assessment of the current religious understanding of the Law: in fact, its entire status can be reduced to the sunnah of the miswaak.

    However, in contrast to this understanding, I am nutty enough to see theomorphic resonance within the broken shards of the miswaak narrations (there are quite a few!). Basically, their point is that our mouths should always be “fresh and clean”, particularly before speaking. To uphold a basic literalist understanding of the miswaak sunnah is, in fact, to have stale breath. It’s a kind of cosmic practical joke, that one.

    I wrote something about this earlier here:

    Thanks as always for your conversation!


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