Islam presents an ideology that encloses the teachings of every religion and provides an original, comprehensive, and universal set of rules known as Shari’a. Shari’a is in complete accordance with natural law, which has been proven logically by various Islamist theologians, most importantly the highly respected Abu l-A’la Mawdudi. However, this theory has received constant criticism from non-Muslim scholars. The most-recent example is Emilio Platti, who stated that Mawdudi’s philosophy possessed contradictions. Famous Arab theologian Sayyid Qutb provided a more developed version of facts from Quran on its relativity with natural law, which clarified Mawdudi’s stance. This paper accumulates Qutb’s research to analyze this relation.
It is important to understand the positive relation between divine law and natural law. Natural law is believed to be a different entity, because it advocates that human mind is solely capable of differentiating between right and wrong. On the contrary, natural laws in retrospect depend on nature as the main source for making decisions. Versatility is an attribute of natural law, since decision making depends upon how someone perceives reality. The profound relativity between God and nature is often overlooked, but the orderly cycle of nature promotes the involvement of some divine authority. That is because God unarguably is the sole creator of the universe and everything that lies in between. So, it is likely that only God can create laws to maintain the equilibrium of life. This strengthens the notion that natural and nature’s laws are correlated.
Prior to twentieth century, Islamist theologians including Mawdudi strictly proposed that Shari’a set the rules regarding Hasan (good) and Qabih (bad). That what Shari’a allows is good and everything else is wrong. Qutb, on the other hand, presented a modernized approach that substantially proves the harmony between human nature and Shari’a. His research relies on the Verse 30 from Sura 30 in which God declares that humankind and the universe has been created by Him, and Fitra (disposition) compels a human to become a Hanif (monotheist). This verse states the exclusiveness of human fitra, but reveals that monotheism is also embedded in it. The famous Hadith “every child is born according to the Fitra” affirms this theory. However, natural law involves the cognitive revelation of right and wrong as its main feature. That is the reason behind God’s incorporation of Shari’a into Islamic religious philosophy. Because humans are born with empty minds, and require guidance to make moral judgments. This knowledge is gained by Shari’a and interpreted according to our perception and understanding. So, it can be said that Shari’a fulfills our fitra’s essential requirement of reasoning. The same function is performed by natural laws in the west.
Qutb believed that Shari’a do not violate natural law because God can never do injustice to His own creation. Quran’s Sura 23, verses 12-15 explain that God has made humans with clay and personified them with a twofold nature. The concept of dual nature in Islam is important to acknowledge because it propels the idea that human mind has equal tendencies of performing right or wrong actions. That is why Islam proffers the concept of Momin and Kafir. Sura 91 Verses 7-8 declare Ilham (inspiration) as a faculty of mind that enables distinguishing between right and wrong, and Sura 90 verse 10 describe Hidayah (guidance) as the main source for human nature’s disposition. Sura 17 Verse 75 explains that God singled out Ruh (spirit) as the “Lord’s domain” which is why humans naturally possess the ability to make ethical judgments. Hence, it is not mandatory that humans must receive divine revelation to follow the right path, because mind already incorporates the “faculty of moral awareness.” However, revelation is important to overcome the mind’s inclination towards committing evil, which is an unavoidable aspect of dual nature. According to Shari’a, the Hurriyya (freedom) to take decisions come with Tabi’a (responsibility) that upholds an obligation to do good acts. Inclination towards committing evil is also a faculty of human nature, which Islam clearly identifies with. Shari’a provides the direction which satisfies the human urge to do good acts and diminishes the mind’s tendency to provoke evil actions.
These points prove Islamic theology’s accordance with natural law. Shari’a also supersedes the western concept of natural law greatly. It involves this harmonious relativity at a much greater level. For example, Islam permits a man to keep four wives concurrently. This establishes the notion that God already understood the diversity underlying human fitra, and formulated laws to facilitate it. Any theology or constitution that rejects this concept, actually violate the reality of fitra. Similarly, women possess a natural urge to care and nurture while empowerment is a predominant attribute of male intellect. That is why God bestowed women with the power to procreate, and men with the duty to head the family. So, it is justified that Shari’a provides fitra necessary guidance regarding the righteous path, and establishes the fact that reason should not judge but must meet with revelation.