and the Sharia
One must realize that any Sufi who regarded Hinduism in a
favorable light was likely to be attacked, not only by orthodox
Muslims but also by conservative Sufis, as the example of Dara
Shikoh indicates. The Sharia or traditional Islamic law has a
penalty of death for any Muslim who criticizes Mohammed or the Koran,
or who gives up Islam for another religion, the so-called
anti-blasphemy and anti-apostasy laws. Hence even if Sufis had more
rebellious ideas they were unlikely to express them for fear of
their own safety.
Any Sufi who claims to accept the Sharia, therefore, has already
accepted intolerance, which is built into this cruel code of laws.
To understand the intolerance inherent in the Sharia note the
anti-blasphemy law that is current in Pakistan today (devised in
1986 and amended in 1991), which is a model of the Sharia. "Whosoever
by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation or
by an imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly,
defiles the sacred name of the holy Prophet Mohammed, shall be
punished by death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable
to a fine.
"This law applies to all
citizens of Pakistan including Christians and Hindus and Islamic
rulers in India enforced similar laws during the period of their
rule. Clearly anyone who accepts such laws cannot be particularly
open minded in the field of religion whatever else they may say. In
this regard nearly all Sufis not only accepted but heaped great
praise upon the Sharia. A few considered that it was possible to go
beyond the Sharia, if one was a great mystic, but that the Sharia
should otherwise be followed faithfully. Perhaps this lauding of the
Sharia began as a means of self-protection, but it eventually became
an important part of all Sufi orders. Ask any Sufi today to publicly
denounce the Sharia and see what they say.