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Intoxication and self-defence : a comparative study of principles of English law and Shari'ah

By Azhar Javed


The study is based upon an analysis of the general principles of criminal liability in English law and Shari 'ah. It is hoped that it may provide a valid basis for discussion of the future development of criminal law.\ud \ud The relationship between law and society is an organic one and this relationship in Shari'ah is based on revelatory text of precepts, law, and admonitions. Shari'ah is an\ud essential part of faith of every Muslim; a sound knowledge of its principles not only gives him a sense of inner fulfilment but enables him to order his life according to the dictates of his religion. On the other hand, in English law, religious beliefs and private morality might be viewed as not a matter for law. Religion is in that context generally conceived as a spiritual sphere of supra-human connotation distinct from law, which is basically a secular concern.\ud \ud Both the systems of law under consideration are different in their sources and nature. English law, being a positive law, finds its source in legislation and other recognised\ud sources. Shari 'ah is a divine ordinance imposed upon people without having a freedom of choice and it has its roots in its primary sources, the Holy Qur'an, and the Sunnah.\ud \ud However, the revelatory nature of Shari'ah does not render it entirely inflexible and immutable. The finality of authoritative legal texts is confined only to a limited number of injunctions in the primary sources. The secondary sources provide flexibility to meet the changing requirements of society. A legal system should strike a fair balance between flexibility and inflexibility of legal rules. A very flexible system of law may lead to inconsistencies, illogicalities and at the same time may be subject to abuse by judges while a rigid system, which leaves no room for judicial discretion is likely to\ud lead to injustice in certain cases. It is submitted that the very flexible nature of English law has left it full of inconsistencies and illogicalities, despite the appropriate use of judicial discretion.\ud \ud The research offers a general view of modern thinking about the theoretical foundations and methodology of Shari'ah Shari 'ah recognises a variety of sources and methods from which a rule of law might be derived. Part-I of the thesis discusses the evolving principles of Islamic jurisprudence from their rudimentary sources. The specific relationship between socio-religious reality and the production of theoretical legal discourse is illustrated in Part-11 and III while dealing with the problem of intoxication\ud and private defence in society. It suggests that Shari'ah provides a framework in which the complex and sometimes competing needs of an individual and society can be fairly\ud apportioned.\ud \ud The research will demonstrate that there is a well developed system of criminal law in Shari'ah that can be compared with the most developed and civilised criminal law of the contemporary world, for example, English criminal law. In order to compare the compatibility of both the legal systems, the approaches of both towards the problems of intoxication and self-defence have been taken as a parameter. Though Shari 'ah provisions seem to be predominantly prescriptive as compared to English criminal law, the comparison will show that it can provide practical solutions to problems faced by human society of any age. Shari 'ah being a revealed law is proactive in its nature. It takes action to cause changes and not only react to a change when it happens. This particular feature can be felt while dealing with the problem of intoxication. English\ud criminal law, on the other hand, being a positive law bears the characteristics of a reactive law. It reacts to events or changes rather than acting first to cause change or\ud prevent something. Another major difference between the two legal systems might be that English criminal law has passed through many evolutionary phases and reached at the present stage through the efforts of the political power and the state; whereas, Muslim states and governments throughout the centuries neither had a hand in the development of Islamic jurisprudence nor in the training and certification of jurists or jurisconsults whose task it was to formulate the law.\ud \ud History suggests that using the combined forces of religion, morality and law Shari'ah has effectively eradicated social evils and created a peaceful environment for human coexistence, where every one can enjoy his rights without a fear of infringement by the others. In cases of infringement of such rights, the offender shall be liable to severe punishments. The principles of criminal liability are on a par with the corresponding principles of the English criminal law. While protecting the rights of the victim of the crime, Shari'ah does not ignore the rights of the offender for fair trail, impartial justice and liability for punishment proportional to the offence committed by him. At the same time it recognises excuse and justification defences under appropriate circumstances, as\ud it will be evident while comparing the defences of intoxication and self-defence with the same in English criminal law.\ud \ud The study reveals that there are similarities and differences between English law and Shari'ah when considering the issue of crime and criminal liability. However, this may be considered as normal phenomenon of comparing any two different legal systems. The differences can be attributed to their sources, origin, history and nature of the social values to be protected. Similarities can be ascribed to zeal for social justice and stability.\ud The study of differences and similarities will provide an opportunity to illuminate our understanding of law and the process of its development. As both the systems have their\ud own methodology to tackle legal issues, a different approach to the similar problem will provide a fresh insight leading to revitalised solutions. It will also be helpful to understand the methodology and the legal reasoning of both the systems leading towards a better understanding of law in general and at the same time providing efficient means for improvement

Publisher: School of Law (Leeds)
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:

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