79) Is it not baseless to claim that the penal laws of the Qur’an which were once effective in the societies of a tribal and racial character, are as effective in the modern age of democratic governance?
No. If the objective of penal law is the elimination of crime, the laws prescribed by the Qur’an were, indeed, relevant in the middle ages even as they are today and even as they will be in all ages to come. If ‘democracy’ means the granting of complete and unbridled freedom to the individual there can be no doubt concerning the fact that the Qur’anic laws will be impracticable in such societies. If, however, the objective of democratic societies is to provide citizens with all the freedom that is required for their creative pursuits on the
path of progress while, at the same time, preventing that very freedom from being so misused in ways that are harmful to the society, there can be no other prescription that will, as a matter of fact, be as relevant and as practicable as the penal laws of the Qur’an. It must be realized that despite whatever the structural changes to which the society may be subject to, there will never occur any change, whatsoever, of a fundamental nature, in the desires and emotions of the individual. It was the same values that were meant to be protected in the middle ages, in the interest of the existence and progress of society, that are to be preserved in modern society as well. when the individual departs from these values it can only lead to a state of anarchy and the eventual breaking apart of the social structure.
By crime is implied that action which is carried out by the individual against the society at large. It is only in the absence of crime that the progressive flow of a society becomes possible. Indeed, the ultimate goal of all penal laws is the making of social life as peaceful as possible by a constant striving, not so much, for merely punishing those guilty of crime as for the elimination of crime itself. The Qur’an’s speciality lies in its prescription of exactly such a set of penal laws which serves to attain this objective. Here, too, it is the practicability of the edicts of the Qur’an which accords this special status to its penal code.