Showing posts with label Islamic Legal Theory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Islamic Legal Theory. Show all posts
  • Apakah Mungkin Sesuatu Mengada dari Ketiadaan?


    Gara-gara menemukan twit imut di atas, saya jadi teringat salah satu diskusi beberapa bulan lalu soal apakah keberadaan causa prima (yang biasanya diterjemahkan menjadi Tuhan) itu suatu keniscayaan secara logika (logical necessity), dan oleh karena itu harus benar adanya dalam setiap keadaan. Pendek kata, dalam diskusi tersebut saya menyampaikan bahwa keberadaan causa prima tidak niscaya secara logika dan bahwa ada hal-hal yang tidak bisa dibuktikan baik secara logika maupun empiris, dan oleh karenanya ada peran yang besar dari iman dalam beragama, khususnya untuk hal-hal yang ujungnya memang sesederhana percaya ga percaya.
  • Toward a General Theory of Islamic Law (Work in Progress)

    Islamic Law is one of my most cherished fields as a lawyer and during my 10 years experience in the art of law, I have done a lot of research and read hundreds of books on Islamic law. Nevertheless, until today, I have not found a general theory of Islamic law that can answer these ultimate questions in a satisfactory way:
    1. Are Islamic laws (specifically those stated in the Koran and Hadith) opened to any changes in the society?
    2. Should Islamic laws be applied as they are, without any consideration of the situation and condition?
    3. Suppose they can be changed in accordance with the situation and condition, what part of the laws that are immutable and those that can be considered as changeable?
    4. Are there any consistent methods of interpretation to be used in applying Islamic laws in accordance with the situation and condition?
    In reality, there is no unity in the application of Islamic law in any part of this world except for certain undisputable items such as syahadat as the first requirement to enter Islam, 5 times a day prayer obligation, mandatory ramadhan fasting period, mandatory zakat payment, and hajj. You can call yourself a moslem if you perform those basic obligations, but I can assure you that there are many specific legal issues relating to such obligations that are still being disputed until today, and this is only for the Ibadah aspects. In muamalah aspects, you will see countless arguments and counter arguments on whether a law should be applied as it is or not. Different countries have different interpretation of the application of Islamic law, and most of the time, it is hard to assess whether the argument used to interpret the law in one case is consistent with the argument used to interpret another case. The actual implementation depends on many factors, such as political will, the applicable majority Islamic legal school, acceptance by the society, etc.

    The above fact is very interesting. It is easy to find people out there who claim that good moslems must follow the Islamic laws as directed by God and the Prophet Muhammad. Some even going further by declaring those that oppose the implementation of Islamic law as followers of heresy. This is an absurd claim. As evidenced by more than 1,500 years of history, people are still arguing and will always argue on what laws to be followed. If you can't reach an agreement on the law to be applied, how can you force someone to follow such law?

    It is my dream that someday I can build a general theory of Islamic law that will solve the problem of unity and consistency within the Islamic legal system and legal interpretation. However, in order to achieve such hard task, I refuse to use the standard deductive reasoning used in classical Islamic legal theories book (ushul fiqh). With new development in social sciences and abundant database of cases and precedents all around the world, this is the right time to build a whole new level of Islamic legal theory which will work in practice.  You would be surprised to find that for the last 1,000 years, there aren't many developments in the art of ushul fiqh.

    Most books that I read still use the similar pattern: definition of ushul fiqh, the 4 main sources of Islamic law: Koran, Hadith, 'Ijma (the collective agreement of the ulemas), Qiyas (analogical reasoning). Then we go with some standards Islamic legal interpretation methods whose validity are still being debatable such as: istihsan (juristic preference), istislah/maslahah mursalah (application of law based on the needs of the society, similar to welfarism), 'urf (customary practices) and syar'u man qablana (the law of generations before Islam). Further, we will have some basic grammatical interpretation methods for the Koran, some basic sciences of Hadith, i.e. analyzing the validity of the Hadith through link of narrators, and simple methods to analyze cases where there are conflicting legal norms. Books that discuss these legal interpretation method in depth are very rare to find, at least that's my experience.

    Some of you may think, why the hell a corporate lawyer like me would like to spend his time discussing Islamic laws? Well, to be honest, when I'm still an undergrad student, I focused my research on Islamic legal theories, specifically istislah. I wrote many papers using istislah as my basic legal theory, including my own thesis and a paper that won a national legal writing competition. So yes, I can say that I have sufficient exposures to say that there aren't many developments in the field of Islamic legal theories. I would welcome any different view on this particular issue though.

    So what should we do about this? As I said above, it's my dream to build a general theory of Islamic law. The process should be started by first collecting the different trends of interpretation of Islamic laws used in various cases and countries around the world which is essential in knowing whether the laws are applied as they are or with any modification. Next, we need to find the reasoning behind those interpretations and analyze whether such interpretations have been used consistently for all similar cases. We would also need to analyze the effect of such laws to the society, i.e. does the law work? Does it promote the betterment of the society? Hopefully, from these various data, we can start to establish a general legal theory that will work across the world.

    Some interesting samples worth to think about that I found during my research:

    1. Under classical Islamic laws, divorce is the right of men and can be done directly without having to wait a court order. This is not the case in Indonesian Islamic law as a divorce can only be done through a court process.
    2. Under classical Islamic inheritance laws, the existence of female children does not block the rights of the deceased's brothers and sister, and commonly, the rest of the inheritance assets will go to the father as an ashabah (since a female child only receive half of the assets) if there are no other family members. Under Indonesian Islamic law, children, female or male, close the rights of the deceased's brother and sister, and the remaining assets will be shared equally.
    3. An empirical research on the application of Pakistan criminal laws for homicide (see The Application of Islamic Law Criminal Law in Pakistan by Tahir Wasti) shows that such implementation does not reduce the crime rate, and in practice allows murderer to be free through diyat (blood money) mechanics, especially powerful people who can buy their freedom by paying the victim's family.
    4. Ever wonder whether slavery is strictly prohibited under the Koran? Yes, freeing a slave can be a way to purchase a seat in the heaven, but there is no verse in the Koran that declares slavery as an evil act or considers slavery as a criminal activity with penal sanctions. More on this after I finished my readings on various literature about Islamic law and slavery.
    I must admit that I am on crossroads with my research focus, should I choose Islamic law as my primary interest instead of corporate law and law & economics? Whatever my final decision would be, this is still in my agenda, a work in progress. Currently, I'm still in the process of collecting the data. The plan is to spend some of my time in Chicago to finish the rough manuscript. I would expect that the process may take years before I can be satisfied with the results, so wish me luck :).
  • Questioning the Claim of an Eternally Just Law: An Overview of the Aceh Qanun

    All right, it has been a while since my last post. I guess I can blame my excessive office workload (made a whopping 64 billable hours last week or more than 12 billable hours a business day) and the Id Mubarak holidays for this blogging non-productive period, eh?

    In today's post, we will discuss a very interesting issue that has been debated for centuries without ever being finally resolved, even until today. Yes, we are talking about the validity of the claim that there is an eternally just law in this world that can be applied in whatever situation and condition, an everlasting law that will prevail over any other laws.

    Now, is this claim valid, i.e. do we, humans, have this kind of law? Sorry to say, but my quick reply would be no. In my opinion, there is no such thing as an eternally just law, because those that are being called just as of now could turn into unjust the next minute. As long as we don't have a single, complete, and universally acceptable definition of the term "justice," we should say goodbye to the concept of an eternally just law.

    However, I am not surprised if many people would disagree with my opinion. We could easily spotted these guys when we are dealing with those who believe in the existence of a perfect God's law that holds supremacy over all kind of man-made laws. Usually, such people also believe that the implementation of the God's law would solve any problem in the society because such law is made by the wisdom and grace of the God that surpass humans' limited capabilities.

    There are many variations of laws that could fall under the category of God-made laws, however it is safe to assume that all religious laws could be considered as God laws (of course in this case, the deity to which we call it God will depend on the respective religions). Among these religious laws, I have no doubt that the Islamic law holds the foremost position due to: (i) its huge coverage (almost all aspects of life, private and public, are being governed by the Islamic laws), (ii) its well-established legal system (though the Islamic legal system does not have a single and united codification of laws which is applicable in each part of this world, it has established a generally acceptable legal sources and methods of legal reasoning), and the most important thing (iii) its wide use in various parts of the world (with modifications here and there).

    Islamic law is indeed interesting. The fact that there are so many ways in implementing this law and the controversies that surround such implementation amuses me. How could this happen? Similar with other types of religious laws, the implementation of Islamic law often falls under the same trap of too much regulating the citizen's private life. Something that I believe is no longer acceptable in this modern world. In addition, as most devoted believers take as granted that the entire body of the Islamic law is derived from God itself, whether through the Koran or through the Sunnah (words, acts, and silent approvals from the Prophet), the Islamic law faces the chronic problem of inflexibility as these people claim that the provisions of the Islamic law cannot be changed in any condition whatsoever (subject to any waiver that is specifically provided under the Islamic law (rukshah)).

    I could agree with the unchanging part if we're talking about the Ibadah aspect of Islamic law, i.e. any acts made as an implementation of the relationship between men and God, such as prayer, (shalat), fasting, and hajj. You can't change the basic rules that there are 5 obligatory shalat times in one day, or that mandatory fasting should be conducted in the Ramadan months. But, it is difficult for me to comprehend if we are also saying that any rules of Islamic law related to the Muamalah aspect, i.e. any private acts of men or any acts made between men, including trading, business, marriage, inheritance, etc, should also be fixed for eternity. The implementation of this kind of law should be made in accordance with the situation and condition of the respective era.

    For me, rather than trying to made up the benefit or secret wisdom of this Muamalah related laws, it would be better to deeply analyze whether such laws are still viable for use. That would be more effective. You would be surprised to see how many books and articles were made to support the rule that daughters can only receive half of the sons' share in receiving inheritance, or why women is better staying at home and don't work. And that is not including the various ridiculous reasons contained within those books and articles. To add the problem, those who are trying to make a proper review of these rules will be most likely deemed as unfaithful, unbelievers whose faith in God should be questioned.

    This brings us to the issue of the Aceh's Qanun. It is truly unfortunate that the Aceh's Qanun, as a part of Islamic law implementation in Indonesia, cannot outshine its counterparts by creating new development that can show some good quality of creativity. Instead, it stays with the mainstream and therefore brings unnecessary problems.

    The Aceh's Qanun is basically a new regulation issued by the Regional Government of Aceh which deals with the penalization of certain acts that are being considered as a crime under the Islamic laws (the one which is specifically adopted by the Regional Government of Aceh since there is no single codification of Islamic laws in this world. See above). For ease of reference, let us call this new regulation as Qanun.

    As stated above, the stipulation of this Qanun is very unfortunate and it really saddens me. Here we are in the 21st century, and yet, we are still clinging to the past, again and again trying to bring personal life choices into the public room. As you will see further below, except for rape, sexual harassment, and gambling, this Qanun mainly deals with humans' private actions. The Qanun makers also show a liking to the use of Arabic terms as all of the criminalized actions are named in Arabic (which is quite odd since the Qanun is intended for Indonesians).

    These are the criminalized actions in the Qanun: (i) drinking alcoholic beverages, (ii) gambling, (iii) male and female being in a closed/hidden room without any marriage relationship and they are not prohibited from marrying each other (khalwat) (please note that these people don't have to do anything to be punished. Simply being together in a closed room would be sufficient to punish them); (iv) male and female making out (including holding hands together, kissing and hugging) without having a marriage relationship (ikhtilath); (v) male and female having sex outside of a marriage relationship (adultery/zina); (vi) performing male-to-male sex, a.k.a gay sex (liwath); (vii) performing female-to-female sex, a.k.a lesbian sex (musahaqah), (viii) harassing sexually, (ix) raping, and (x) accusing other people of performing adultery without having the minimum 4 witnesses as a valid evidence (qadzaf).

    The sanctions for these criminal actions include among others caning, prison, fines in the form of gold and stoning/death penalty for a married person that conduct adultery. Now, I wouldn't discuss why this Qanun can exist under the Indonesian legal system. If you're interested with that subject, I suggest that you should see this nice post here. Instead, I would like to focus on the backgrounds used by the Aceh Regional Government to issue this Qanun including all of its provisions.

    In the elucidation of the Qanun, the Qanun makers claim that the Qanun was made as a response to the need of the Aceh's people to implement the Islamic law in their society since Islamic law has been considered as an inseparable part of the Aceh's culture. Further, they also claim that the Qanun was established on four basic principles which include: (i) the rules shall be derived from the Koran and the Sunnah; (ii) the interpretation of such rules shall be made in accordance with the local needs of Aceh people and in the context of Indonesian legal system; (iii) the implementation of such rules shall be made by taking into consideration the future progress and the needs of the 21st century's Indonesian people who are still in the process of development (which cover modern issues such as protection of human rights, gender equality, and technology development); and (iv) the implementation of such rules shall also be guided by the Islamic legal principles of using the best opinions from various schools (mazhab) and finding and developing better provisions.

    Comparing to the reality of this Qanun, I must admit that the above principles sound very bombastic, if not misleading (especially for the third principle). I don't see any aspect, even the slightest one, that can be used to say that this Qanun has been made in accordance with the above principles. Well, maybe the Qanun corresponds with the first principle, but surely the makers are not paying any attention to the other three principles.

    And to complete the irony, the Qanun makers were also hoping in the Qanun's elucidation that the implementation of this Qanun (in accordance with the above principles) can reflect a law that could bring justice and prosperity to the entire society (rahmatan lil alamin). Nice try and keep dreaming sirs.

    Come on, how can we say that a law that permits a married person to be killed by stoning due to adultery can be considered as a law that brings prosperity? I can agree if the state would like to punish this kind of person (and by the way, we do have this kind of provision in our Penal Code), but killing the person? That's outrageous.

    What make it worse is the fact that the Qanun does not provide any clear mechanism for evidencing the adultery, whereas in the classic Islamic law, an adultery case can only be validly proofed if there are 4 witness who clearly see such act, i.e. a penis is being inserted into a vagina. In fact, it is so hard to implement this rule, that the only known case where a person is being stoned for conducting adultery is a case where a pregnant woman came to the prophet and acknowledged that she has conducted an adultery. The prophet himself has ordered this woman to go home since there is no clear evidence that she has indeed conducted an adultery (even though she is pregnant). But the woman insisted and after more than 2 years of begging to be stoned, she actually got what she wanted, which only happen after she gave birth and taken care her child for some time.

    Why do we still insist of using this rule? On a bigger scale, why do we even consider to use the rules that were established a long time ago and might not be relevant anymore in this era. Maybe, it would be effective in the past to control the society by fear. It is not a secret that 1,400 years ago the arab people were living in a barbaric era. Of course they would need to have a law that can impose fear to them and make them obey such law. But now?

    I would even dare to say that this law is inefficient! Why bother to find people who are being together in a closed room or are making out somewhere and then punish them? Are we trying to deplete our resources to finance these useless acts? Or assuming that an adultery case is validly evidenced, should we stone the convicted to death? Who will bear responsibility for the family left behind? The state by using the money of the tax payer??? This is utterly ridiculous and the Qanun simply doesn't meet the test of a law that can bring global prosperity to the society, well, unless the Qanun makers believe that the prosperity will come since God will bless Aceh and Indonesia for implementing the Qanun. Again, keep dreaming sirs. The real fact is clear, this Qanun brings unnecessary costs and fear to the society.

    I believe that this is the right time for us to bring an end to the claim of an eternally just law. In this modern era, a law or a policy should be made in accordance with the people needs and should be implemented in the most effective and efficient way. A good law shall prevail without much hesitation, but a bad law can only prevail by using force which would be costly. For Islamic law, it would be useful if we start to review the current rules and determine whether such rules would still be applicable. We need to remember that since Koran or Sunnah cannot be changed forever, the law contained within should be flexible and it is our task to make a better interpretation. When man-made laws are wrong, we can always amend them, but we can't amend the content of the Koran and/or Sunnah. The content will always be the same but the implementation should depend on the actual condition. Only by making it flexible that we can ensure the survivability of the Islamic law, or else, I fear that in the future, the Islamic law shall only be regarded as a part of the forgotten history.

  • The Protection of Criminal Suspects in Law and Economics Perspective

    Forthcoming in Jurnal Teropong Edisi RUU KUHAP 2015 | 23 Pages | Posted: 10 May 2015 | Date Written: April 28, 2015

    Public Choice Theory and its Application in Indonesian Legislation System

    24 Pages | Posted: 8 Oct 2012 | Last revised: 8 Nov 2014 | Date Written: October 8, 2012

    Special Purpose Vehicle in Law and Economics Perspective

    Forthcoming in Journal of Indonesia Corruption Watch, 'Pemberantasan Kejahatan Korupsi dan Pencucian Uang yang Dilakukan Korporasi di Sektor Kehutanan', 2013 | 15 Pages | Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | Date Written: August 18, 2013

    Legal Positivism and Law and Economics -- A Defense

    Third Indonesian National Conference of Legal Philosophy, 27-28 August 2013 | 17 Pages | Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | Last revised: 3 Sep 2013 | Date Written: August 22, 2013

    Economic Analysis of Rape Crime: An Introduction

    Jurnal Hukum Jentera Vol 22, No 7 (2012) Januari-April | 14 Pages | Posted: 12 Nov 2011 | Last revised: 8 Oct 2012 | Date Written: May 7, 2012


    As the author of this site, I am not intending to provide any legal service or establish any client-attorney relationship through this site. Any article in this site represents my sole personal opinion, and cannot be considered as a legal advice in any circumstances. No one may use or reproduce by any means the articles in this blog without clearly states publicly that those articles are the products of and therefore belong to Pramudya A. Oktavinanda. By visiting this site, you acknowledge that you fully understand this disclaimer and agree to fully comply with its provisions.