Sharia Law Protests: The Truth About Sharia

It has been reported that today (June 19m 2017) has been set aside for protests around the nation against Sharia law, the legal system used in most Muslim countries to a greater or lesser extent.  The principles for Sharia are derived from both the Quran and Hadith, the alleged sayings of Muhammed and have been more or less systematized into various schools of legal thought (five to be precise), all having significant overlap.  There are a number of groups today both around the world and in the United States that have been interested in incorporating aspects of Sharia law into their own legal systems.  Some even go so far as to wish to replace the existing, Western-based, legal system with Sharia, presumably after the Caliphate has conquered those nations.  And in parts of Europe, Sharia is allowed to be the “chosen law” for some disputes (Great Britain for example).  

 

As for the content of Sharia, how does it compare to Western law today, taking the United States as the prime example?  For details the reader can look a t any number of good books on the topic, but here I simply present some general conclusions.  First, Sharia gives no rights to women except minimally, and actually punishes them for rape (remember they are thje victims) in some countries.  Theft is punished by severing limbs. Various behaviors we would punish with fines of imprisonment Sharia punishes by flogging and execution.  Some behaviors we don’t punish at all, but Sharia calls for death or flogging (not minimal number of lashes, but in some cases, hundreds).  There is no constitutional concept  in the system that would protect rights or limit the acts of the state.  

 

In short, the Sharia system is incompatible with the Western legal tradition rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  And despite the claims that Islam and Judaism and Christianity have common roots which would also imply common legal roots, this is simply false.  The Western tradition evolved quite differently from the Islamic system, even though in the Old Testament there is a superficial similarity between Sharia and the Mosaic civil code.  A cursory reading of the Mosaic Code shows that there were protections and limits to what could be done to a person and the substance of the Mosaic Code was less expansive against individuals.  Yes, there was execution (for murder, rape, etc.).  But these are heinous crimes and we do have Genesis 9: 6 as well as other texts to illuminate on the acts in question.  But theft is punished by restitution, not cutting off limbs (restitution would still be a great idea).  

 

Besides all that the United States legal system is founded on both the English Common Law system, itself rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, and a “fundamental law” called the Constitution, which establishes the conditions by which other (ordinary) law functions, and which limits the operation of that ordinary law (with rights and a limited government).  Let me add that if an individual wishes to live by the standards of the Quran personally, as long as he/she acts within the parameters of American law, that is fine.  But to impose it on others is unacceptable and to live it out in such a way as to infringe on others’ rights is also unacceptable.

 

In short, a constitutional system founded on a Judeo-Christian legal theory and practice is fundamentally incongruent with Sharia.  It can never be made consistent and no court ought to be allowed to utilize it.  Thus, the protests, and from people who fear some judges (and there have been some) might actually allow it to be used.  I can’t say I would actually protest and violence is never sanctioned, but I do vigorously protest here in writing even the thought of using the Sharia system in the United States.

For further reading:

 

Harold Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition.  Harvard University, 1983.

 

Wael Hallaq, The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law.  Cambridge University, 2005.

 

Joseph Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law.  Clarendon Press, 1983.

9 thoughts on “Sharia Law Protests: The Truth About Sharia”

  1. What if both parties to a dispute want to have it adjudicated under Sharia? Do you think they should have that right (only to a certain extent, obviously this should not apply to actual criminal actions) if both sides are okay with it?

  2. A few points. In the Mosaic law, disobeying your parents was punished with death, as was being raped in certain cases. There are aspects of Sharia law that we shouldn’t stand for, there are aspects of Mosaic law that we shouldn’t stand for, I’d say there are even aspects of Christian “law” that shouldn’t govern a country.

    You keep juxtaposing Sharia law with Western law. In a couple places you substitute Western for judeo-Christian, in which case you’re comparing eastern law with eastern law.

    I have to agree with Nathan, if any religious group wants to employ their own legal system to their members, punishable with such things as fines and expulsion. Then whether it’s Sharia, church discipline, or rabbinic law, I think that’s just fine. If aspects of Sharia law were to get implemented in us law, because whoever came up with the bill could get the votes, I have no problem with that either. From an American perspective one of our founding principles is freedom of religion, so Sharia law has as much validity as anything from the Bible.

    1. A couple of comments…

      Church discipline is quite a bit different from Sharia. Church discipline cannot levy legal punishment against one party. Beyond revoking a person’s membership or other privileges specifically within that church body, church discipline has absolutely no legal authority over any person. The only way this could ever occur is if a person signed some sort of legally binding agreement in which they agreed they would be liable if they took certain actions.

      Also, what aspects of Sharia would you have no problem with if it got “enough votes”? Just curious.

    2. Also, you are not correct as regards the OT examples you mentioned.

      Deuteronomy 22:25-26 specifically states that if a man rapes a woman, only the man is to blame and the woman is INNOCENT. Nowhere does the OT permit the execution of a raped woman. Only if the woman was a willful partner to sexual sin was she liable. Which verse leads you to believe otherwise?

      Also, in the case of disobedience of children. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 refers to children who refuse to accept the correction of their parents. It does NOT say that in all cases of disobedience the child is to be killed. Execution was only applied to those children who willfully continued in sinful rebellion and all attempts at correction had failed. It was a last resort for ongoing and continuous sinful behavior and a persistent refusal to respond to discipline. Also, the city or tribal elders were the only ones who could pronounce the sentence. A parent could not arbitrarily have their child killed over some minor instance of disobedience. If a kid was supposed to be home before dark but stayed out late, they did not have to worry about getting stoned over it.

      Many elements of the Mosiac law are indeed harsh. Not arguing that. But there is still no comparison to the brutality of Sharia.

      1. In another passage, a woman who is raped must marry her rapist. Arguably, to some women, that would be a fate worse than death.

      2. I expected either you or Darth Vader to bring that up.

        Obviously you are correct that many women, today, would think that. But we must look at this passage through the culture and society of that day. The verse you speak of refers specifically to a non-betrothed virgin. Back then, a woman who was not a virgin would have found it very difficult to marry. She would not have been considered desirable. For most women back then, not getting married and having a family would have been considered worse than death as well. Forcing the offender to marry the woman was, however distasteful it may seem to our modern sensibilities, actually a way of protecting her honor and her future, and, especially if pregnancy resulted, by making the man marry her was making the man take responsibility for his actions.

        Obviously there are elements of the Mosiac law specific to that time and culture, or specific to the practice of Jewish religion which has been rendered obsolete by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that have no place in modern society. But many of the principles we find in OT law are indeed the foundation for many of the liberties we enjoy today.

  3. “First, Sharia gives no rights to women except minimally, and actually punishes them for rape (remember they are thje victims) in some countries.”

    Sounds like Old Testament law.

    Thankful we do not have a nation in which those books are the foundation of civil and criminal law.

  4. “Obviously you are correct that many women, today, would think that. But we must look at this passage through the culture and society of that day. The verse you speak of refers specifically to a non-betrothed virgin. Back then, a woman who was not a virgin would have found it very difficult to marry. She would not have been considered desirable. For most women back then, not getting married and having a family would have been considered worse than death as well. Forcing the offender to marry the woman was, however distasteful it may seem to our modern sensibilities, actually a way of protecting her honor and her future, and, especially if pregnancy resulted, by making the man marry her was making the man take responsibility for his actions.”

    Nathan,

    You are rationalizing a horrible act–requiring a raped woman to marry her rapist against her will. And you are justifying it in terms of “culture. and society of that day.” Whatever happened to the absolute morality and eternal standards that self-righteous evangelicals like to throw out against others? Guess those get dropped, if the situation changes.

    How CONVENIENT! (Thinking now of Dana Carvey and the “Church Lady,” even though rape is not a laughing matter).

    Your comment does shed light on an appalling double standard that I often see in evangelical circles.

    When liberals cite culture and society in order to justify, say, gay marriage, or having women lead a congregation (or teach men theology in the Cedarville University classroom?!), all of which harm no one), many evangelicals would say that such moral relativism is wrong; but as you just showed us, it appears that it is OK to cite culture and society when it comes to rationalizing other passages–in this case, a passage that commands that forces a raped women to marry her rapist.

    1. Nothing at all happened to the absolute morality and eternal standards that I hold to. Rape is a horrible sin and Scripture consistently treats it so. The specific method by which the civil law of ancient Israel dealt with a very specific type of it is really beside the point and a red herring. What the civil code of ancient Israel proscribed in that instance is meaningless for us today. Jewish civil law proscribed stoning for adultery. We obviously do not stone adulterers today. But the sin of adultery is no less serious now than it was then. Rape is wrong. It was wrong then, it is wrong now. the same is true of any sexual sin, which is any sexual relationship outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. The Bible is very consistent on that point throughout.

      Regardless, my original point still stands. The Mosiac law is far less strict and brutal that Sharia law.

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