1, Abrogation. This is the idea that we can ignore some parts of the Qur’an because other parts of it cancel it out. Those who engage in this practice are at best lazy in their attempts to understand the Qur’an and at worst are arrogating to themselves the right to ignore whole sections of Qur’anic instructions based on insisting on their own corrupt intentions. In some cases clear Qur’anic commands are ignored in this way in favour of more tenuous hearsay reports of prophetic behaviour.
2, Mysticism. This extention of epistemology to include various highly subjective sources of spiritual “knowledge” has led to many claims that are used to justify people doing wrong while claiming to do right. Hidden secret meanings are attributed to the verses of the Qur’an which are far from reasonable and used to ignore the clearly intended meanings.
3. Fabrication. Hadith literature is replete with accounts of the many thousands of fraudulent claims that Muhammad(S) said such and such. While many have been discredited because the claimed chain of narration is flawed, others may have been better frauds. This of its own would not cause that much corruption of Islam without the other mechanisms, in particular the next point.
4. Decontextualisation. Words while true can be misleading if taken from their correct context and placed as being without context or given a false one. This happens as a matter of routine with interpretation of hadith material where the briefest of phrases has been transmitted free from any information of where it was said, to whom it was said and why. Its meaning is taken as general as possible, despite the draconian pharasaic implications of doing so. In this way inconclusive evidence is used to make sweeping justifications for new laws.
5. Cherrypicking. Without a concerted effort to gather and assess the large body of evidence and correlate it and weigh it, we are left with an approach of only following what is presented to us as a proof. Reliance on presentations of carefully selected evidence while not relying on a thorough process is a licence for the propagation of highly distorted interpretations.
6. Tradition. People like to be consistent which gives them a prior bias. This takes on a new level with judge made laws in Islamic law through precedence. Just because someone reached a conclusion in the past does not mean that it is correct. It may have been a reasonable one to them given the information they had, but it may not be a reasonable one for us given the information we may have to use. Muslims at each age and time must be responsible for their own choices and not follow their ancestors blindly.
7. Tyranny. All of the previous mechanisms have been and are employed to corrupt Islam, but the simplest and most effective has been the use of fear. Fear of the state, fear of civil war, fear of foreigners and their imperial intentions. All of this fear of other than Allah generates the conditions where the rules Allah has set down are abandoned temporarily or indefinitely or corrupted with the use of these mechanisms to take away that fear of a tyranical power.
All of these mechanism have been used to over time to corrupt many aspects of what has become implemented as Islamic law. Capital crimes have been added where there is nothing to justify it in the Qur’an. Whole swathes of normal harmless activities have been banned where there is nothing to justify it in the Qur’an. Rulings of the Qur’an are turned on their head and ignored and huge crimes of aggression, of murders, destruction of property and even genocide have been carried out. And all this is done waving the banner of Islam.
Islamic law is a product of politics more than just the textual evidence claimed as its source. This needs to be acknowledged and embraced so that the highly political interpretations – i.e. corruptions – of the past can be challenged today.