Tomorrow is Human Rights day in SA and it reminds me to have a look at the Constitution (or at least the Bill of Rights) and wonder at the current state of our country. Surprisingly few South Africans have read (or even heard of) the Constitution even though it is meant to be a document by the people, for the people. Its founding values of dignity, equality and freedom are supposed to permeate our society and culture, but this is often not the case.
Luckily, the “Constitution” of Islam does not share the same sorry fate. Muslims the world over read and learn the Quraan in its original language (even if they don’t understand it) and try to live their lives by the principles extracted from the Quraan (and Sunnah).
How do we reconcile our lives as Muslims with our roles as citizens of South Africa? I am not always sure. The Constitution and Islamic law diverge on some obvious issues, such as homosexuality. What are we to do? Maybe the approach is similar to the approach we have about paying interest in financial transactions – I have read that some leeway is given for Muslims living in a secular country, to follow the laws of that country. Are we supposed to maybe embrace the message in Surah Kaafiroon and follow our religion while letting others follow their religions (or lifestyles)? Live and let live, and leave others alone? But also as obvious, people have different interpretations of that Surah too.
There’s this push and pull and a host of questions that I can’t answer, so I keep wondering.