As the scenes of Egypt unfold in front of our very own eyes and we see the illegal and unlawful overthrow of the President of Egypt Dr Mursi. It is clear from the streets of Egypt that there was much discontent with some of the promises that he was unable to deliver in his short tenure as President. Besides some of the political analysis offered that there was very little progress he could make with such a strong presence of the old Mubarak regime still intact within the National framework. It is worth noting that many of the Egyptians were clearly disgruntled with the regular power cuts, lack of bread and petrol. It doesn't matter what stances the President may have had with respect to foreign Policy. This on the whole does not directly figure in the daily life of the average citizen and for them was not their primary concern. Moreover, some quarters of the Western Media have now acknowledged that these concerns were artificially created by the opposition and designed to bring down Mursi.
It is important to put into context that of the things that the government were trying to achieve was the slow implementation of Sharia. And this is something that no other party during the final election offered to do. Some practising Muslims came on the streets protesting against Mursi (more so at least in the early stages). In their defence, they have said that they pray, read Quran, love Allah and love the Messenger (Sallahu 'alayhi wasalam), but their complaints were of the power cuts, lack of fuel and so on. These genuine and very real basic problems provides us with an important lesson, that the dynamics of the way we give dawah and that our interaction with the masses should not be limited to circles and lectures but on a more personal and social level. In other words, irrespective of what type of system is being implemented (kufr or otherwise), as long as the 'basic things' are provided, the citizens will be content. Of course, one can also argue that Dr. Mursi was going to find it near impossible to alleviate those concerns with the obstacles being placed in front of him by the opposition and the old-guard, nevertheless an important lesson is to give importance to the basic affairs of the people.
Nevertheless, a Muslim’s desire to implement Sharia is a fundamental facet of our religion. Islam is not simply praying, fasting and reading the Quran. We cannot pick and choose which types of worship we want to do and which we leave. Allah says: "So do you believe in some parts of the Scripture and not in others?" Rather, we must enter Islam fully, Allah says: "You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God." So important are these concepts that it is spelled out in great detail in the beginning of the Quran (Surah Al-Baqrah). Although there were some genuine grievances against Dr. Mursi, the complaints although valid, if broken down were dunyawi (worldly) material concerns.
Sadly, a reaction like this to dunyawi concerns, is a very dangerous path to tread, for if we are not able to be patient under such dunyawi circumstances, then how will it be when the Mahdi comes? The Prophet (Sallahu 'alayhi wasalam) said that that before the emergence of Dajjal there will be three spells of drought. In one year the skies will withhold one third of its rains, causing the earth to withhold one third of its produce. In the second year the skies will withhold two thirds of its rains, causing the earth to withhold two thirds of its produce. In the third year, the skies will withhold all its water and there will be no crops that year. All animals, be they hooved or toothed, will die as a result. The greatest evil of Dajjal will be to approach anyone and ask him: "If I bring your camel back to life, will you then believe that I am your Rabb?" This person will reply, "Most certainly." So great a fitna it is to be living in that time, that we as Muslims may sell our dunya for our akhirah. And for this reason, the Prophet (Sallahu 'alayhi wasalam) trained us against such temptations by the reading of Surah Al-Kahf weekly on Fridays. All of the main trials ones faces in life can be found in this chapter.
Many Muslims think that as soon as the Sharia is implemented, all of our problems will be solved. This is not completely true as there were occasions when the sahabah were going hungry due to lack of food during the rule of the Prophet (Sallahu 'alayhi wasalam). Are we to say that the Prophet was not a good leader wa na'uthu billah! Rather, the implementation of the laws of Allah irrespective of whether it solves the problems of its citizens straight away is not the criteria, but what is sought is the pleasure of Allah. The prayer is an obligation and must be performed irrespective of whether we feel its sweetness or not. This is not of course the mainstay of the Sharia, but there will be occasions in which sacrifices and difficulties will need to be endured. So our comfort and expectation of materialistic things should not override what is far more important. What is occurring in Egypt is precisely why we should engage more with the wider community including Non-Muslims about the false portrayal the Sharia has been painted with. The focus should not just be to defend the 'controversial' aspects of it, but rather have our own narrative of the Sharia in which Muslims, Jews and Christians live in peace with one another and each community benefitting from the laws it had to offer.
Surah Al-Baqarah is an important surah which deals with many aspects of the Sharia. And its inclusion as the second Surah of the Quran is fascinating. Not only is it a Madani Surah which focuses a lot on rulings and not so much on creed (which is characteristic of Makki Surahs) but it is also the longest chapter in the entire Quran. Allah mentions some relatively 'difficult' laws for something that is so early on in the Book, whether it be aspects of divorce, hajj, jihad and so on. The whole Surah despite the number of rulings that are mentioned within it, are intertwined with many aspects of Iman, especially belief in the unseen. In fact, we can find five stories concerning life after death and an important lesson on having complete dependence on Allah even if we do not know the benefits or wisdoms of such a commandment. As Allah says: "You may dislike something although it is good for you, or like something although it is bad for you: God knows and you do not." From that perspective, the most fundamental aspects of the Deen can be found in the beginning (the laws in Surah Al-Baqarah), at the end (matters of creed in Juz' Amma) and in the middle (how to deal with trials in Surah Al-Kahf). Although, coming back to Surah Al-Baqarah, we see a beautiful equilibrium between the outward Islam in the form of its laws and inward in the form of Iman. That is to say that the one cannot be separated without the other. The existence of one is inseparable from the other. In order to have Iman, certain rules must be applied. Whilst the executing of such rules is an evidence of ones iman. In this principle we can see so many fruits when accounting ourselves and how we should hope to act and react in the future.
Succession (istikhlaaf) upon the earth is one of Surah Al-Baqarah's major themes. It may be argued in fact, that it is the aim of the Surah. We are given examples of a failed attempt by the people of Musa and a successful one by Ibrahim ('alayhimusalam). For securing a base, is a pre-requisite for establishing the laws of Allah. And it is only after talking about this istikhlaaf in the earlier part of the Surah that Allah mentions the independent laws in more detail in the latter half. A theme that runs throughout the entire Surah is that of faith in the unseen. It is through this belief in the unseen that a slave is able to reach his Lord under which ordinarily is limited by human perception. So if we limit the success and failure of a state simply based on numbers and results, we will certainly have missed what the real goal is. And it is through this belief in the unseen that the concept of a successful Islamic state takes on a different dimension. For the motivation of performing good deeds is not based purely on the output in a worldly sense but by a spiritual one. Today, democratically elected parties success are often rated by their economic success whilst in term – such a materialistic perspective of success is something as Muslims we must overcome if we are to truly succeed.
Furthermore in knowing the manners in which such a state is established, we must also be accustomed to knowing those who are an obstacle to it. Therefore, the Jews and Hypocrites are mentioned often in this Surah. The presence of the Hypocrites only appeared once Islam had established itself and thus their sole role was to cause havoc amongst the ranks of the Muslims perverting them from reaching the pristine path to Allah. The Jews are not only mentioned in that they were actively blocking from such a state appearing in Medina during the time of the Prophet as an external force. But, also they embodied the characteristics of an internal force in the form of followers of Prophets. Allah says: "So how is it that, whenever a messenger brings you something you do not like, you become arrogant, calling some impostors and killing others?"  But it not simply the case that we have outside conspiring forces stifling progress for Muslims, but within ourselves we have enemies and our own faults that are just as stifling.
We may be nodding away at reading some of the points made here, but let's not be blissfully unaware that are we not as 'practising' Muslims guilty of not entering into Islam fully as well? How many Muslims do we know that pray 5 times a day, but fall short of another commandment in the guise - 'I don't agree with that' such as splitting inheritance according to what is pleasing to Allah? We cannot choose the worships we find 'easy' and leave the ones which are 'difficult'. The matters that are being asked are not recommendations (mustahabbat), but obligations. If we are not willing to live under Allah's law, then it is like we are willing to have a Lord other than Allah to govern us - this is at complete antithesis of total submission to Allah. Therefore, rather than ask whether we are ready to live under the Sharia. A more suitable question may be: Are we ready to go to Jannah?