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Progress of Law

Reader comment on item: [Paul H. Robinson:] U Penn Prof for Shari'a

Submitted by Bob Vaselaar (United States), Jul 27, 2004 at 22:05

I would also have to respectfully disagree with Dr. Pipes on this issue. The problem that has been raised is that the Maldives will not conform to Western standards of fairness and justice. While I share this concern, and am alarmed at the amount of countries across the world where this same injustice occurs, I am also mindfull that Western standards of fairness and justice did not arrive overnight themselves, but rather formed over a long process of improving and eventually replacing the laws that did not measure up to a higher standard of fairness. In the end, the progress of Muslim law may look something like the progress of western law from mideval times to the present - starting as fully religious and authoritarian and ending as highly secular and democratic with many fits and starts along the way.

As a small example, In the United States, long before Muslims, Jews, atheists, etc. were given the full rights of citizens, Catholics (simply a division within Christianity much less a different religion) had to fight to be recognized as legitimate Americans. Long before Blacks were accorded full civil rights, The Irish and Poles (both caucasian ethnic groups much less a different race) had to fight for theirs. And of course the list goes on - before justice was ever extended broadly and completely, it was extended narrowly and partially.

Cultural reformation is a process of small gains, one of the most important of which is the ability to be self critical. The Maldivians are apparently willing to be criticized and persuaded - this excellent first step must not be pushed away simply because they have not yet completed the entire journey.


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