Muslims, like anyone else, are plagued with many issues and conflicts that are in desperate need of resolution. In order for there to be a healthy and viable community these issues must be addressed in an amicable, just and proper way to the full satisfaction of the community. To allow conflicts to be unresolved is tantamount to leaving an open wound and if unchecked will wreck the peace and tranquility of the community as a whole.
Islam is grounded in a solid and unshakeable foundation of faith and belief or Iman. Iman is the belief in Allah the Exalted, His angels and messengers, His revealed word or scriptures, the Hereafter, the Day of Judgment and His Qadar. These pillars of Iman or faith are condensed in “Amantu Billahi, wa Mala’ikatihi, wa Kutubihi, wa Rusulihi, wal Yawmil Akhiri, wal Qadri Khairihi wa Sharrihi Minal Lahi Ta’ala, wal Ba’thi Ba’dal Mawt.”
The conflicts that the Ummah faces have to be solved by taking into account the pillars of belief, Islamic Jurisprudence and its Shari’ah or Law. In doing so will satisfy the deep, core principles of our faith or iman and make sure that our account or hisab on the Day of Judgment will be in a better position, with the ultimate level of saa’adah or happiness, with fawz and falah or success and well-being in this life and in the next.
With this understanding there is no secularism or detachment from the tenets of faith and all Islamic injunctions in regards to the legal field.
Conflicting problems within American Muslim society may range from personal and family matters such as marriage and divorce, as well as disputes among community members and those in positions of leadership. The courts of the United States of America are costly and consist of ineffective lawyers. Discontent with the legal system leads many Muslims in America to postpone justice in this world and opt for an audience on the Day of Judgment.
It is with this issue that Muslims here in America are obligated to find a way to solve conflicts and disputes according to the principles of Islamic Law and its legal heritage of fairness and justice in a manner that is reasonable and cost effective. These proceedings must be conducted in accordance with the law of the land; local, state and federal within the United States. Through effective mediation and arbitration, decisions can be made that are stipulated in the Shari’ah and adhering to the binding, ethical and legal code that exists within this country with the final approval of the relevant courts and judges.
Islamic Tribunal or IT is established exactly for this purpose. The Islamic Tribunal is a unique institution of its kind in the United States of America. It is the intention of erecting this institution in order to set a precedence that will be emulated and duplicated throughout the country.
No faith community can live without having their conflicts and disputes resolved thus the need to initiate the Islamic Tribunal or IT within this country.
The founders of IT are very much aware of the issues, their scope and how damaging they are to the families and communities. Imams, scholars-in-residence, community leaders who have served in their communities for years and with their tremendous experience in their specialized fields have felt the need to establish IT.
The Islamic Tribunal seeks support and guidance from consultants and counselors to its attorneys to ensure that local, state and federal law are strictly conformed to and decisions that originate from the Tribunal are in accordance with said laws.
Shari’ah is defined in its legal context as law. This comprises of Quran, the Sunnah and Islamic Jurisprudence. As a matter of fact American law is found to be in accordance with a great many of its principles; specifically in its legal lexicology and context. There are many branches of law that exist: constitutional law, civil law, criminal law corporate law, international law (public and private) and administrative law. The main source of today’s Western law and legal systems are mainly Roman law, canton and feudal law brought together by Napoleon Bonaparte Civil Code of 1804. Others include Anglo Saxon common law, mainly not written, but based on rules and principles with much discretion given to judges. Many commonalities are shared between said laws and the Shari’ah. American law can trace its origins to that of common law. Arguably Napoleon Civil Code is influence by Islamic Law, Fiqh and Shari’ah. Vice-versa many Muslim dominate countries today are influenced by Western law, case in point Turkey’s modern civil code which derives its origin from Swiss Civil Code. Ottoman Civil Code, Majalla-i Akham-i Adliyya, whose whole text does not have one mention of criminal law. The entire text deals with transactions, Mu’amalat in general, which has the same principles and articles used in all transactional laws found throughout the world and are similar to existing laws with the United States. Stoning adulterers, cutting of the hands, polyandry and the like (all can be traced in the relevant literature and can be explained in their Islamic legal mentality and rational context in fairness and justice), are mainly a part of Islamic Criminal Law. In fact criminal law within Islam only makes up a fraction of the Shari’ah. It is unscholarly and unfair to generalize that type of understanding, that is Criminal Law, to compromise the whole of Islamic law if we stick to speaking in technical terms.
The Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him, his companions and his family, acted as a qadi or judge. He appointed judges, scholars, governors with the authorization of judging and solving conflicts in fairness and justice. It is a must to do that in terms of Iman and Islam based on Quran, the Sunnah and as understood by the fuquha in following fiqh in its proper methodology. This can be found in Usul al-Fiqh with its vast and huge institutions of Ijtihad, Qiyas, Ijma and other Islamic legal instruments.
As mentioned earlier Muslims are bound in iman and Islam to have masajid, mahkamas, al-Mahkama al-Shar’iyya or courts to solve the problems. Throughout Islamic history there has not been a time that qadis, or judges, and courts did not exist and they cannot go without existing today.
Iman and the religion of Islam is based on the creed of Amantu billahi and believes that all deeds of men are recorded and will be brought forward and weighted upon the scales of justice and judged by Allah the Exalted, the Most Just. The actions of men will be judged based on iman and Islam but not in violation of the laws that govern the land. It is a must for a healthy society best to respond the people’s needs in a faith based approach and answer problems within that framework…the Islamic Tribunal intends to respond to that need.
IT’s decisions have to be fair, just and conforming to legal proceedings at the local, state and federal level and recognized as such by the courts. This may be incrementally developed by educating ourselves and also the legal professionals in the country, so understandably it may naturally take time to find its way to be commonly accepted…