Dr. Alan Godlas on “Divine Law” versus “Divinely-Inspired Law”

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Nidal Malik Hasan, born 08th September 1970, was a US Army Medical Corps psychiatrist.  He is convicted of fatally shooting 13 people and injuring more than 30 others in the Fort Hood mass shooting on the 05th November 2009.  Nidal is currently incarcerated at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas awaiting execution while his case is reviewed by appellate courts.  He was a Wahhabi who even wrote to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, and requested to be made a citizen of the so-called Islamic State.

Dr. Alan Godlas wrote, on the 02nd August 2013, about the Nidal Hasan incident, highlighting the incongruency in the spiritual understanding of shari’ah.  He wrote that the difference between referring to shari’ah, consisting of laws and regulations, as “Divine Law”, rather than “Divinely-Inspired Law”, is that the former understanding should be considered shirk, a symptom of arrogance, and a recipe for fitnah and slaughter that produces criminals like Nidal Hasan; while the latter concept, the “Divinely-Inspired Law”, forces us to be mature, not to conceal the humanly-constructed edifice of shari’ah, to come out from behind the curtain of ego-maniacal or Satanic Oz, to stop masquerading as the Infinite Reality, and to come down humbly to do our best to be servants of God and members in the human community, striving together to understand one another and act beautifully in this world.

On the one hand, ignorant criminals like Nidal Hasan justify their crimes on the grounds that they are simply acting in accordance with the Divine Law expressed in Qur’an and in some cases established by the words and examples of the Prophet (s.a.w.) or other noble predecessors of such early generation, since the Qur’an Demands we follow the Prophet (s.a.w.) and such leaders, a’immah.  But Nidal Hasan and his fellow criminals hold a sinister and unexpressed assumption that we must understand and expose.

Here are the words of the criminal: “I, Nidal Malik Hasan, am compelled to renounce any oaths of allegiances that require me to support / defend (any - sic) man-made constitution (like the Constitution of the United States) over the commandments mandated in Islam.”

Nidal also stated that “There is an inherent and irreconcilable conflict,” meaning between American democracy and shari’ah, “because in an American democracy, ‘we the people’ govern according to what ‘we the people’ think is right or wrong; even if it specifically goes against what All-Mighty God Commands”.  This is from documents Nidal sent to Fox News.

It is imperative for Muslims not just to condemn his actions but to express clearly why he is dead wrong in statements about “commandments that are mandated in Islam”, and, “what All-Mighty God Commands."  In brief, he and those criminals whose authority he follows, mistakenly assume that they themselves are not interjecting anything human, and hence, fallible, into their understanding of Islamic commandments and what God Commands.

The appallingly destructive ignorance of such an assumption is so disgusting that it is hard even to fathom it; but because it is so widespread and because it has been and is currently threatening millions of people's lives, if not the entire planet, we must all work to understand it clearly and do all we can to change it.  To me such work is the work of progressive Islam.

As much as I like standing for the concept of “progressive Islam”, however, it may be time to stop ceding the word “Islam” to those whose actions have made “Islam” synonymous with regressive and destructive evil.  Rather than needing to qualify our “Islam” as progressive, as if to imply that Islam is not inherently progressive, we may want to assert rigorously that we are simply Muslims practicing Islam; and that in contrast to our approaches, those who regard their shari’ah as Divine Law should be referred to as advocates of “regressive Islam” -regressing back into the closet-prison of the ego, hiding behind unwieldy medieval armour, the medieval lie that our decrees are God’s.

Those of us who see shari’ah as "Divinely-Inspired law”, which must nevertheless be constructed by humans, can stand proudly, but not-arrogantly, out of the ego’s closet-prison, admitting that we are just fallible human beings choosing to construct and live a Muslim lifestyle.  Of course, the fig-leaf that is “Divinely-Inspired law”, constructed by our attempts at wisdom, leaves us more vulnerable, not offering us the kind of protection offered by the armour of arrogant illusions.

Nevertheless, out here, we can stand without shame, unburdened by the weight of ego’s destructiveness, and free now to serve whoever is in need, however they need assistance.  The protection that we lose when we shed our armour is more than balanced out by what we gain by regaining our dignity as humble servants.  So, whether we call ourselves simply Muslims or progressive Muslims, what is clear is that we must no longer cower before those who are regressing into the criminal mindset produced by hiding behind the lie that “my law is Divine”.


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