University of California, Los Angeles, Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl and other researchers discuss the relationship between Islam and democracy for the Boston Review. Dual legal system. In some countries with large Muslim populations, such as Malaysia and Nigeria, the government has a secular judicial system, but Muslims may choose to take certain cases to Islamic courts. The exact jurisdiction of these courts varies from country to country, but generally includes marriage, divorce, inheritance and guardianship. Modern governments are known to change laws that are considered Islamic. Saudi Arabia invoked Islamic law when it granted women the right to drive in 2018. “If it`s really Islamic, shouldn`t that change? But that changed a few years ago,” says Rabb. “This is just another example of how many of the rules labeled as Islamic are often local, culture-influenced preferences that have an Islamic veneer.” Sharia law means “the right way” in Arabic. In Islam, it refers to the divine counsel that Muslims follow in order to live a moral life and draw closer to God. Sharia derives from two main sources: the Quran, which is considered the direct word of God, and the hadiths – thousands of words and practices attributed to the Prophet Muhammad that together form the Sunnah. Some of the traditions and narratives contained in these sources evolved from those of Judaism and Christianity, the other major Abrahamic religions.
Shia Muslims include the words and deeds of some members of the Prophet`s family in the Sunnah. Sharia law, however, largely encompasses the interpretive tradition of Muslim scholars. Islamic law varies from country to country, is influenced by local customs, and evolves over time. Sharia law is also the basis for legal opinions called fatwas, issued by Muslim scholars in response to requests from individual Muslims or governments seeking advice on a particular issue. In Sunni Islam, fatwas are strictly consultative; In Shia Islam, practitioners are obliged to follow the fatwas of the religious leader of their choice. Secularism. Muslim countries where the government is formally secular include Azerbaijan, Chad, Senegal, Somalia, Tajikistan and Turkey. Nevertheless, Islamist parties run for office and sometimes take power in these countries. Turkey`s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is an example of this. Andrew Jeong, Jennifer Hassan and Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post explain the Taliban`s views on Sharia law.
How Kim Jong-un advanced the North Korean military during a decade of religious tolerance. Some critics say Muslim-led states that follow Sharia law are particularly intolerant of infidels or those who practice other religions. The researchers say that this intolerance is largely due to pre-modern restrictions that apply to non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries that were supported by certain hadiths that were later introduced into the Muslim canon and recommend the death penalty for Muslims who commit apostasy. Nigeria and Pakistan apply the death penalty for blasphemy and apostasy, as has Sudan for many years. Sharia law is a source of debate between Muslims and non-Muslims. One of the many reasons Sharia is controversial is that it is often compared to the modern legal systems of predominantly secular countries. “When Sharia law is compared to pre-modern legal systems, it is virtually uncontroversial,” says Abu El Fadl. Jihad. Many non-Muslims assume that this word, which means “to aspire,” refers only to an armed struggle of Muslim extremists against non-Muslims. As a principle of Sharia, however, it refers to the effort to achieve a moral goal, which may be, for example, an armed struggle against injustice, the desire to improve oneself morally, or the pursuit of knowledge. Sharia law can also be seen as problematic, depending on who interprets it. Many observers view Sharia law as a rigid legal system that cannot evolve to reflect modern Western values.
Sharia debates tend to focus on specific issues: Islamist militant groups are known to adopt puritanical interpretations of Sharia law. Al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and the self-proclaimed Islamic State, among others, want to establish so-called fundamentalist regimes. These organizations rely on violence and terrorism to enforce their extreme versions of Islamic law, build and expand their influence, and persecute their opponents. They are known for imposing cruel punishments rarely used by governments in Islamic history, such as stoning, and others that traditional Islamic law explicitly prohibits, such as crucifixion. Wife. The Qur`an states that women are morally and spiritually equal to men, but also emphasizes that wives and mothers have specific roles in the family and society. Some Sharia directives apply specifically to women, and some governments use Islamic law to severely restrict women`s rights by dictating how they dress and excluding or separating them in certain rooms. Maurits S. Berger of Leiden University examines the role of Sharia law in the West for the Journal of Law, Religion and State.
Leaders of these groups often have little or no training in Sharia interpretation. Many insurgent groups see the imposition of an extreme version of Islamic law as a way to rebuke Western influence and return to the days when Muslims ruled powerful empires. “They focus on power and not on interpretation or law as a demanding discipline or field,” Rabb says. “With these organizations, you have all the attributes and benefits of claiming religious commandments, but none of the substance or process that has come with the complex system of Islamic law through enlightened and changing interpretations over time.” Some governments allow independent religious authorities to apply and decide the laws of their faith in certain situations. For example, the UK allows Islamic courts governing marriage, divorce and inheritance to make legally binding decisions if both parties agree. Similar mechanisms exist for Jewish and Anglican congregations. In Israel, Christians, Jews and Muslims can decide family law issues in religious courts, as can members of some other faiths. In addition, minority Muslim countries such as Australia, Japan, Britain and the United States allow Islamic or Shariah-compliant banks. European law also influences the legal systems of Muslim countries, even Iran and Saudi Arabia, which claim to follow only Islamic law. This is due, in part, to the effects of colonialism, the demands of economic modernization, and the fact that many of the elites who built the legal systems in Muslim-majority countries had a Western education. Opinions on the best balance between Islamic and secular law vary, but political systems tend to incorporate Sharia-based laws in three ways: Toni Johnson, Mohammed Aly Sergie, and Lauren Vriens contributed to this article. Will Merrow and Michael Bricknell created the graphic.
Today, most Muslim-majority countries do not impose corporal punishment, although a dozen have the power to do so under state laws. Local and international backlash often deters authorities from implementing such decisions. However, Indonesia, Iran, Maldives and Qatar are among the countries where flogging is still practiced. and Iran, Mauritania [PDF], Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan have amputated convicted thieves in recent decades. In addition, the Taliban carried out public executions and amputations when they ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s and announced that these punishments would return under their new government. Moreover, in some Muslim countries, religious minorities have fewer rights under modern laws and are discriminated against. In Saudi Arabia, for example, only Muslims are allowed to build places of worship and pray in public. And other countries that claim to allow religious freedom – especially authoritarian states – do not do so in practice (and systematically deny rights to their citizens, regardless of their faith). For example, Iran and Saudi Arabia have regulations based on Islamic laws that require women to wear the veil in public places and be accompanied by male guardians [PDF].
Some Afghans and Western observers fear that Afghan women will face similar restrictions under the Taliban. Critics say these rules of modesty create inequalities, including by restricting educational and employment opportunities for women. Other laws prevent women from initiating divorce and marriage themselves, contributing to child marriage and gender-based violence.