The reason any discussion of reforming the shariah is misplaced is because the statement assumes the shariah to be an entirely static construct. We do not need reform, but where we might be struggling is with a real-time application considerate of all variables. The issue is that for all of the talk of implementing of shariah, we hypothesise what the shariah might look like, and even when many western Muslims speak of contemporary application they merely resolve to focus on the Middle East.
But what is being overlooked is the manifestation of the shariah that is principled on what God wants, and moral directives in the context of being western Muslims. It’s not just about the shariah but how its values inform our discussions and offers meaningful ways to react, suggest and progress.
The simplistic understanding of the shariah boils the entire corpus of our moral values down to a penal code reflecting the arbitrary approach of those with purely political aspirations that focus on geo-political power plays that disregard the true value and cultivating nature that God consciousness has on the believing community.
However, on matters of policy it is the values and suggestions embedded in the moral directives from God that will inform positions and directions.
For example, in applying the shariah to our world: there is nothing explicit in divine writ that tells us how to deal with a crumbling NHS, but the values of healing the sick (shifaa’) through a communal contribution (takaful) at the point of need is there. But takaful also comes with a sense of civic responsibility that disparages waste (israaf), and excessive request (mas’alah), and excessive medication (tadaawi). For us, this is the essence of responsible citizenship towards the NHS, where our morality affords all citizens access to healthcare, but that access is tempered by a social responsibility not to abuse the service.