Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sharia & Siratal Mustaqim

John Esposito, Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, in his book ," Islam, the Straight Path" offers one interpretation of the relationship between Sharia and the Siratal Mustaqim:

"The literal meaning of Sharia is "the road to the watering hole," the clear, right, or straight path to be followed. In Islam, it came to mean the divinely mandated path, the straight path of Islam, that Muslims were to follow, God's will or law. However, because the Quran does not provide an exhaustive body of laws, the desire to discover and delineate Islamic law in a comprehensive and consistent fashion led to the development of the science of law, or jurisprudence (fiqh). Fiqh, "understanding," is that science or discipline that sought to ascertain, interpret, and apply God's will or guidance (Sharia) as found in the Quran to all aspects of life."

~ excerpt from Islam, the Straight Path (2005, p. 78) by John Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

My question to John Esposito would be: "Is there not an implication in his interpretation that the Quran is incomplete without Fiqh?" My own sense is that there are varying levels of understanding the Straight path and that Sharia is perhaps the introductory level of such an appreciation of its meaning. From the perspective of an Integral Psychology of Islam, I will be examining the Straight Path as a multi-dimensional ethical sytem which is influenced by the level of one's own spiritual evolution, such that the spiritual aspirant engages Siratal Mustaqim - not just as a system of laws to be followed - but as a direction for the soul's elevation to its highest potential by the alignment of the Personal Will with the Transpersonal Will. Is that not the example set by those thousands of spiritual luminaries upon whom Allah has bestowed His favors, since the beginning of time? They were not impeded by the absence of any Fiqh. Theirs was a spiritual search to strive to live in a manner that was pleasing to Allah in action, mind, heart and soul.

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