Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear sister in Islam, thanks for your interesting question that relates to one of the issues that need to be clarified, not only for non-Muslims, but for Muslims who have been completely brainwashed by Western ideas and dogmas.
In his response to the posed question, the eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:
“The important matter that I would like to stress here in this context is that we should not give those who are irreligious any chance to violate the boundaries regarding certain religious matters that are firmly established in Islam such as penalties. Those well-established matters are considered the core of the practical, intellectual and creedal unity of the whole Muslim Ummah. They also act as a safety valve for the whole Ummah, in the sense that they protect the Ummah from being led astray and roaming about aimlessly in the darkness.
Hence, it is not allowed for us Muslims to show any leniency towards those who tend to turn that which is well-established and certain into a mere possibility, who tend to alter that which is clearly-defined into a doubtful matter.
The aim of those irreligious people is to bend religion in a way that serves their own whims and according to what their Satan dictates.
Those people have gone to extremes to the extent that they blatantly criticize the fixed Islamic rulings such as male and female shares of inheritance. Those misguided people cudgel their brains in finding out lame arguments that tend to give both males and females equal shares of inheritance.
This clearly indicates that those people labor under the handicaps of ignorance which makes them unaware of the fact that it’s the nature of woman to be maintained and cared for by man, even if she is a career woman. She is also maintained by her son, husband, brother, father, etc., irrespective of whether she is poor or rich. Man also has to bear certain financial burdens that are not levied on women such as paying the nuptial gift or mahr, catering for female relatives, while women in return get married and take the nuptial gift, and have to be maintained by a male member even if she is very rich.
Those misguided people press forward in their erring track claiming that the pigs, whose meat is strictly prohibited, according to the Qur’an, are poorly-nourished pigs. On the contrary, today’s pigs are duly cared for, and hence there is a far cry between the two.
Following the same vein, those misguided people tend to subject religion to a certain form that best suit people’s whims but not vice versa. Allah Almighty says: “And if the Truth had followed their desires, verily the heavens and the earth and whosoever is therein had been corrupted. Nay, We have brought them their Reminder, but from their Reminder they now turn away.” (Al-Mu’minun: 71)
There is a final word we would like to direct to those who stand full square behind absolute progress, and want Islam to adopt everything man deems as progress. Why don’t you Islamize that progress instead of urging Islam to literally adopt your line of action?!
It stands to reason that Islam was revealed to rule and not to be ruled, to guide and not to be guided. How come do you equate between the ruler and the ruled, the guide and the follower? Allah Almighty says: “Is it a judgment of the time of (pagan) ignorance that they are seeking? Who is better than Allah for judgment to a people who have certainty (in their belief)?” (Al-Ma’dah: 50)”
Shedding more light on this issue, we'd like to cite for you the following:
“The Shari`ah is for all times to come, equally valid under all circumstances. The Muslim insistence on the immutability of the Shari`ah is highly puzzling to many people, but any other view would be inconsistent with its basic concept. Those who advise bringing it into line with current thinking recognize this difficulty. Hence they recommend to Muslims that the ‘legal’ provisions in the Qur’an and the concept of the Prophet as law-giver and ruler should be ‘downgraded’.
But, as the manifestation of Allah’s infinite mercy, knowledge and wisdom, the Shari`ah cannot be amended to conform to changing human values and standards, rather, it is the absolute norm to which all human values and conduct must conform; it is the frame to which they must be referred; it is the scale on which they must be weighed.
Categorization of Precepts:
As we have already seen, the claim that the Shari`ah is eternal and all-embracing does not in any way imply that every issue for all times to come has been decided. The mechanism through which the Shari`ah solves a problem posed by an unspecified, new or changing situation can be best understood in the framework of the categorization of its norms and rules and the role it gives to human reason in the form of Ijtihad (personal reasoning).
The code of behavior and conduct laid down by the Shari`ah divides human acts of heart and body into the following five categories:
1- expressly prohibited (Haram);
2- expressly enjoined (Wajib or Fard);
3- disliked but not prohibited (Makruh), hence permissible under certain circumstances;
4- recommended but not enjoined (Mandub), hence no obligation to comply;
5- simply without any injunction or opinion, and hence permitted through silence (Mubah).
It is not commonly realized what a great blessing has been imparted to the Shari`ah by this categorization: it enables the Shari`ah to accord a vast expanse and degree of latitude to individual choice, freedom and initiative under varying human circumstances. Things which are prohibited or enjoined are few and a major part of man’s day-to-day life falls in the mubah category.
Still more important and revolutionary is the principle that, in matters of worship, in a narrow sense, only what has been expressly enjoined or recommended, and nothing else, is obligatory or desirable; while, in matters of day-to-day life, whatever is not prohibited is permissible. This closes the door for any religious vested interests to impose upon Allah’s servants additional burdens and duties in the name of Allah as has so often been done in history; but at the same time it keeps wide open the options for resolving new problems.
Permanence and Change:
The role of human reason in the Shari`ah, exercised through understanding and interpretation, ijtihad and consensus, provides it with a built-in mechanism to meet the demands of any changed human situation. The complexities of life and the novelty of the situations which the Muslims faced within fifty years of the Prophet’s death bore no comparison to the simple life in Madinah.
Yet the Shari`ah successfully coped with all the situations, not only in that period, but for more than a thousand years afterwards, indeed, till the Muslims fell under the political subjugation of the Western powers. This in itself is living testimony to its vitality and inherent capability to face any challenge.
What is important to understand is that none of what is stable and permanent in the Shari`ah is of a nature as to need change. Where changes are necessary due to newly-emerging situations the Shari`ah has laid down broad principles only and left its adherent to work out the details. Where it has chosen to be specific there is in reality no need for change.
Again, it is only the changed human situations which the Shari`ah caters for, and not for changes in primary and essential values and standards: the divinely-given values and standard are final.”
Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.witness-pioneer.org
May Allah guide all of us to the straight path and direct us all to that which pleases Him, Ameen.
Allah Almighty knows best.