A Guideline on Conducting Survey for Shariah Implementation
Pramudya A Oktavinanda
I always want to do a survey on how Indonesian people perceive the implementation of Shari’a as a part of positive laws. Many surveys have been done on this issue. The problem is, either the questions are too general or only deal with the “famous” provisions of Islamic law.
By general, I mean that the question only asks whether a person accepts the implementation of Shari’a without knowing whether he would agree entirely with any kind of implementation or only to a certain degree.
By famous, I mean that the question only deals with classical provisions that are well known by many people such as hand cutting for thievery, stoning for adultery, etc.
I believe that this kind of survey cannot be used to know precisely whether the respondent fully understand his answer, that he gives his responses based on a good understanding of Shari’a and not just because he doesn’t want to be considered as a religious blasphemer.
In this article, I will provide certain guidelines of questions that can be considered when we are doing the above survey. First, do not start by asking the general question. Rather the survey must start with questions on specific provisions of Islamic law without any reference that such provision of law is a part of Islamic law.
The first set of questions should deal with slavery issues. Here we test whether the respondent would agree with the legality of slavery and whether they perceive slavery as a bad thing. Classical Islamic law permits slavery for more than a thousand of years. If people disagree with such notion, their belief on the supremacy of Islamic law should be questionable.
The second set of questions deal with economic issues. In this part we ask the respondents on whether they would agree to lend money to other people without any interest at all time, even for business purposes. And then we ask them whether they perceive bank interest as something bad, or just business as usual.
Classical Islamic laws stipulate that bank interest should be prohibited because it resembles “riba,” that the sin of charging “riba” is equal to killing a person or having incest relationship with your own mother. Interestingly, for such type of sin, no criminal punishment is available (making me to believe that in terms of economic matters, Islamic law is pro capitalism).
Third, we deal with family law issues. The questions should be, among others, whether they agree that divorce rights should stay exclusively with the husband and that courts should not interfere at all (so husbands can divorce their wives as they wish) and whether husbands can do polygamy without requiring any approval from his first wife.
Here I primarily want to see how women respondents will react. The above provisions are parts of classical Islamic law which is not even implemented under Indonesian Islamic law. Yet, if we are staying with the tradition we should go with the old ones, unless you want to say that Islamic law is not eternal and its provisions can be changed in accordance with the relevant situation.
Fourth, we go with the criminal law issues, we can ask the usual famous questions with some twists. We should ask whether respondents would agree that any murderer can be released from punishment as long as he pay a decent amount of compensation to the victim’s family.
If they say yes, we can ask them whether they would agree that a thief can also be forgiven if he pay additional compensation to his victims along with returning the stolen goods. Such concept does not exist in classical Islamic law.
What I want to test here is whether people would agree that Islamic criminal law is good for the rich but not for the poor since the poor has no money to pay their way out from punishment, whether they will perceive this as a fair law or not.
Finally, we ask them about procedural law issues. Would they agree that a woman’s value of testimony will only be considered half of a man? Would they agree that non Muslims cannot testify in a case and if there are no Muslim witnesses for an important case, what would they do?
Would they agree that any witnesses must satisfy the strict requirement of Islamic law, meaning that such witness is close to a perfect human being, e.g. consistently maintain 5 times prayer a day and any other type of worshipping activities, never lie, maintain body cleanliness all the time, nice to other people, etc.
All these questions test the respondents believe on whether the above requirements (which no longer work in actual practice due to their inefficiencies) should be accepted as a part of positive law.
The final goal of these questions is to test the respondents consistency, especially when we close the survey with this question: would you agree that Indonesia should implement Islamic law in entirety because it is God’s law?
If they still say yes in the end, we should see whether they accept everything from the beginning or whether they agree to certain parts only. If they only accept certain parts, we can ask them whether they truly believe that Islamic law is perfect and thus should be implemented without any further questions.
Once we go with these kind of questions, I doubt that the number of people who vote for complete Shari’a implementation would be many. But this is still a prediction.
So, is there anyone who want to try conducting this survey and find out the real answer?