Religion and theology

Posted by Winnie Melda on January 5th, 2018

Islam is a religion that brings the mission of salvation and liberation. Islam was introduced in order to bring new moralities because of its humanitarian and metaphysical characters. The teachings of Islam derived from God and have been oriented towards humanity. Thus, Islam respects the dimension of humanity. Islam has a fundamental concern for well-being, peace, and justice. These are values that must be internalized by every Muslim. According to the teachings of Islam, it states that there is no hierarchical structure in Muslims as all people are equal before God (Moosa and Kenney 2013). The combination of ritual and spiritual practices will produce Muslims who tend to have balanced personalities, horizontally and vertically, inwardly, and outwardly. Modernity refers to a way of thinking in the living and thinking in the contemporary world and also accepting change as part of the cultural and political processes through integrating new ideas in the society. In this discussion, the focus is to understand whether the Islam law is compatible with the modern world.

Islam and modern world

The claims that Islam is incompatible with the modern world are terrible. I believe that Islam is compatible with the modern world. The teachings of the Islam emphasize on consultation in worldly matters, merciful forms of justice, real equality of the sexes, and forgiveness over harsh punishments. Moosa and Kenney (2013) states that through understanding the historical context where the Quran was developed and interpreting the text as it is supposed will help to easily understand the compatibility of Islam with the modern world.

Most people have used democracy in concluding that Islam is incompatible with modernity. The claims are based on certain happening and because there is dictatorship in most of the Muslim countries. Some people even maintain that the Islamic culture is a stumbling block and may not permit democracy policy and modernistic society. These claims originate from the fact that people do not understand the religion and also the society, social forces at work, and history. In case people claim that Islam is not compatible with the modern world, then it is likely that Christianity will also fall in the same category. Before the 18th century, the Christian church was opposed to democracy, modernity, and secularism. It was until the 19th century that modernity and democracy became accepted in the western society (Moosa and Kenney 2013). In order to understand the compatibility of Islam with the modern world, there is a need to bring into the discussion the historical, sociological, and political view of reality. In order to understand Islam and the modern world, it is essential to consider democracy

Islam is compatible with democracy. When considering the religious text, the Quran tends  to lay emphasis on shura (consultation). Based on the Islamic teachings, even Allah’s messenger is supposed to consult with his people in matters of the world and Muslims are also expected to consult with one another in their secular issues. Te spirit of modern democracy and the Quran requirement to consult people is the same spirit. Human beings and new institutions keep on developing, and these developments are dependent on the worldly experiences. The teaching of the Quran does not only provide the concept of consultation, but it does not support the concept of authoritarianism or dictatorship (Nasir 2009).

Most people normally use the 4:59 verse in the Quran in order to justify obedience in any authority that even includes military dictatorship. The verse does not support such acts and in order tom understand the verse; an individual has to see it in the historical background. This verse is normally addressed to Bedouins who were nomads, and they were not adapted to submitting to any authority. In the modern world, the concept of consultation tends to mean democratic process and construction of proper democratic institution where elections are essential requirements. In the Islamic basis, any authority that is acquired through the power of arms or sword or that is forcibly constituted does not have legitimacy.

When considering the historical perspective, the institution of military dictatorship or monarchy did not exist during the time of the prophet. These are development and legitimized by Ulama so as to prevent anarchy. The lack of democracy in most Islamic nations is not related to the Islamic teachings or democracy incompatibility with Islam. However, it is because of the host of cultural, political, and historical factors (Moosa and Kenney 2013). It is essential to have a deeper historical understanding of the historical and cultural forces so that to understand the political institutions in most Muslim countries. The British and US interest tend to play a role in shaping things in these countries. In Islamic countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others, they have a deep urge for democracy; however, they are frustrated by the heavy power of authoritarian rulers. Therefore, Islam is not involved in establishing democracy in these countries, but the powerful interests both external and internal do not permit the establishment of democracy.

Modernity and democracy go hand in hand. It is not possible to be modern without being democratic. The teachings of Islam are compatible with modernity. The Islamic law tends to be modernistic when considering the pronouncement of the Quran. The Quran normally encourages  pluralism in verses 60:8, 5:45 and 6:109. These verses are supportive of the pluralistic social-structure. The Quran tends  to recognize the validity of other faiths and make it incumbent for Muslims to ensure they equally respect all past prophets and those who fail are not true Muslims (Nasir 2009). Today, the intolerance in Muslim societies tends to be more political than religious. Thus, it is wrong to argue that Islam is not compatible with a modern world by considering the political conditions of the Muslim countries. However, Islamic law tends to be compatible with the modern society.

In understanding the Islamic law and compatibility of the modern world, it can be related with Egypt. Many people believe that Egypt adopted French Law; however, the Islamic law was rewritten in the form of French law, but it retained its Islamic essence. The process led Egypt to being a liberal state being run by a system of democracy. No Muslim scholar in Egypt objected this because Muslims are free of choosing whatever system of government that they think is appropriate for them (Nasir 2009). The principle of human dignity and freedom for what liberal democracy stands is part of the foundation of the Islamic world view. It is through the achievement of the freedom and dignity within a religious context that the Islamic law strives.

For the past decades, the world tends to have experienced tremendous changes. The changes have come in the form of political ideologies and new technologies. New communication technologies have been developed that allow people to stay up-to-date with what is happening in almost every part of the world. A wave of change has caused an alteration in almost every aspect of our lives. The modern changes are what present the greatest challenge to Muslim jurists. The change that has occurred in years has made it important to re-examine how things work. This means how the Islamic law is applied should take into account the changes that have occurred (Hefner 2011). The adaptability and flexibility of Islamic law is a great asset in the changes. So as to provide people with relevant and practical guidance while at the same type remaining true to its foundational principles, Islam allows moral strength and wisdom of religion to be applied in the modern times. When this attitude is adapted towards the Sharia, contemporary, moderate, and authentic Islam can offer solutions to problems that confront the Muslim world today.

The Islamic law is also compatible with a modern world in regards to women’s rights. Women in the Islamic world tend not to enjoy the same legal privileges and rights as men. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, women are normally not allowed to appear in the public without a veil of the male escort. Women are not also allowed to drive. Saudi Arabians tend to justify the laws through claiming that they are a requirement from Sharia Law, but this is not true. When modern circumstances are compared with Muslim women experiences during the life of Prophet, the contrast tends to be shocking. Women in the early century were actively involved in almost every aspect of life in Muslim society. Khadijah, the prophets wide was a successful businesswoman (Hefner 2011). Khadijah met Muhammad when she hired him so as to work as her business agent. In the present day, if she were in Saudi Arabia, she would be prohibited from running her business or even interacting with men in the public. In contrast to how women are being treated in most Muslim countries, the Quran tends to insist on the equality of both sexes.

The Quran teaches that men and women were created from the same soul, and God made from the soul it’s made in order for the mate to find tranquility with it (Nasir 2009). It is clear that Islam law is compatible with a modern world that requires women to be treated equally. Islam brought about the immediate and radical change in the unequal treatments of women through giving women an equal and independent spiritual and legal identity. The teachings of the Quran state that women are not property, but individuals who are responsible for their affairs. The application of the Sharia law either on traditional or modern perspective leads to the conclusion of the requirement for equality between women and men. When observing how women are treated in most Islamic countries, it is clear that its origin is not in Islam. It originates from the medieval jurisdiction that warped Islamic law so as to justify the return of old norms (Hefner 2011).

The Islamic law tends to be compatible with a modern world in regards to individual rights. Individual rights are key to the functioning of a liberal democracy. The prophet and the Quran do not deny the freedom of conscience and speech. The prophet did not suppress individual freedom or even discouraged the difference of opinions. The prophet said that the difference of opinion in Islamic ummah is a matter of mercy and grace. However, with the evolution of monarchical culture, differences of opinion were not allowed and ruthlessly suppressed. Early Abbasid period, debate existed on whether the Quran is created or co-eternal with God (Hefner 2011). Abbasid supported the Mutazilah view that the Quran is created and suppressed the other view that the Quran is co-eternal with God.

This is an authoritarian culture that has not yet changed in the Muslim countries even today. Because of this culture, no Muslim country has a good tradition of physical and social sciences. In order for the sciences to flourish, there must be liberal democratic culture. It is likely that Muslim countries will remain behind in these fields if the authoritarian power structure continue to exist; however, it must be demolished and replaced with the democratic power structure.

It is also evident that Islam is also compatible with modernity in that fact that Islamic law normally advocates the freedom of choice and also equal rights for everyone. In the previous years, there have been many Muslims scientists who have contributed a lot to the modern science. Today, most Muslims are working in many scientific and technological fields. Just like the teachings of the Quran teach, most Muslims have found a way of reconciling their faith with modernity (Hefner 2011). Millions of Muslims are living all over the world and working in technological fields.


When learning about the modern world and compatibility with the Islamic law, it is essential to know that the social life of man is subjected to many transformation and changes. Islam tends to be a religion that moves forwards and also carried forward. Thus, Muslims must always be in a state of growth, evolutions, and development. Development is one of the goals in which the Quran directs. Thus, in the modern society, then Quran requires that people should continue evolving, developing, and growth. This means that the Quran or the Islamic law is compatible with the modern society. The modern world is one that is developing, and changing with time. Just like the teachings of the Quran, the modern world today does not approve for exploitation of women. Critics who argue that the Islamic law is incompatible with the modern world should be aware that the issue of democracy that is not in Muslim countries is not based on religion. However, democracy and science issues in Islamic countries originate from the political, economic, and historical circumstances. This discussion has helped to explain how the Islamic law is compatible with the modern world and what Islamic societies should do in order to thrive in the modern world. People should ensure that they understand the Islamic religion, the society, and history so that to understand how the Islamic law is compatible with the modern world.


Hefner, R (2011). Sharia politics Indiana University Press

Moosa, E & Kenney, J (2013). Islam in the modern world Routledge Publishing

Nasir, J (2009). The status of women under Islamic law and modern Islamic legislation

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Winnie Melda

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Winnie Melda
Joined: December 7th, 2017
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