Sharia law

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Countries with a Muslim majority, or members of the OIC, where Sharia does not play a role in the legal system.      Countries where parts of Muslim personal law (such as marriage, divorce, inheritance) is based on Sharia.      Countries where all laws are based on Sharia.      Countries where the application of Sharia varies by region.
A demonstration for the introduction of Sharia on the Maldives, in 2014

Sharia law Arabic: شريعة) is the body of Islamic law. The term means "way" or "path"; it is the legal framework within which the public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Islam.

Sharia deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues.

There is not a strictly codified uniform set of laws that can be called Sharia. It is more like a system of several laws, based on the Qur'an, Hadith and centuries of debate, interpretation and precedent.

Sections of Sharia law[change | change source]

Sharia law is divided into two main sections:

  1. The acts of worship, or al-ibadat, called the 5 pillars of Islam:
    1. Affirmation (Shahadah): there is no god except Allah and Muhammad is his messenger
    2. Prayers (Salah): five times a day
    3. Fasts (Sawm during Ramadan)
    4. Charities (Zakat)
    5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)
  2. Human interaction, or al-mu'amalat, which includes:
    1. Financial transactions
    2. Endowments
    3. Laws of inheritance
    4. Marriage, divorce, and child custody
    5. Foods and drinks (including ritual slaughtering and hunting)
    6. Penal punishments
    7. Warfare and peace
    8. Judicial matters (including witnesses and forms of evidence)

Schools of sharia law[change | change source]

There are four major schools of Sunni sharia law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali), and one major Shia sharia law (Jafari). The sharia law between these schools is same for topics covered in Quran, but in matters that is not covered explicitly in Quran, they sometimes differ from each other.

Laws and practices under Sharia[change | change source]

Marriage[change | change source]

  • A Muslim man can marry only a Muslim, Christian or Jewish woman. He cannot marry an atheist, agnostic or polytheist.[1]
  • A Muslim woman can marry only a Muslim man. She cannot marry a Christian, Jew, atheist, agnostic or polytheist.[2]
  • The minimum age of marriage for females is nine, for males is twelve.[3][4]
  • A Muslim minor girl's father or guardian may arrange the marriage of a girl, without her consent, before she reaches adulthood.[5]
  • An adult man cannot marry an adult woman without her consent. An adult woman requires her wali's - father or male guardian - consent to marry, in following schools of sharia: Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali and Jafari.[5]
  • A marriage is a contract that requires the man to pay, or promise to pay some Mahr (property as brideprice) to the woman. The married woman owns this property.[6][7]
  • A man can divorce his wife any time he wants, without reason. A woman cannot divorce her husband without reason. She may file for divorce for reason, such as he is impotent, missing or biologically related to her.
  • A Muslim man can marry four Muslim women with their permission, only if he can support them financially and equally. A Muslim woman can marry only one Muslim man.

Crime and punishment[change | change source]

Sharia recognizes three categories of crime:[8]

  1. Hudud: crimes against God with fixed punishment
  2. Qisas: crimes against Muslims where equal retaliation is allowed
  3. Tazir: crimes against Muslims or non-Muslims where a Muslim judge uses his discretion in sentencing

Hudud crimes are seven:[9] theft, highway robbery, zina (illicit sex), sexual slander (accusing someone of zina but failing to produce four witnesses), drinking alcohol, publicly disputing Imam, and apostasy (leaving Islam and converting to another religion or becoming an atheist).

Sharia requires that there be four adult male Muslim witnesses to a hudud crime, or a confession repeated four times, before someone can be punished for a Hudud crime.[9]

Murder, bodily injury and property damage - intentional or unintentional - is considered a civil dispute under sharia law.[10] The victim, victim's heir(s) or guardian is given the option to either forgive the murderer, demand Qisas (equal retaliation) or accept a compensation (Diyya) in lieu of the murder, bodily injury or property damage. Under sharia law, the Diyya compensation received by the victim or victim's family is in cash, and the amount depends on the gender and religion of the victim, for an equivalent crime and circumstances.[11] Muslim women receive less compensation than Muslim man, and non-Muslims receive less compensation than Muslims.[12][13]

The penalty for theft[change | change source]

Theft (stealing) is a hudud crime in sharia, with a fixed punishment. The punishment is amputating (cutting off) the hands or feet. However, before a person is punished, two eyewitnesses must testify that they saw the person stealing.[Qur'an 5:38]

The penalty for zina[change | change source]

Sharia law states that if either an unmarried man or an unmarried woman has pre-marital sex, the punishment should be 100 lashes.[14][15] If a married man or a married woman commit adultery, the punishment should be 100 lashes and then stoning to death.[16] There are some requirements that need to be met before this punishment can happen. For example, the punishment cannot happen unless the person confesses, or unless four male eyewitnesses each saw, at the same time, the man and the women in the action of illicit sex. Those who accuse someone of illicit sex but fail to produce four eyewitnesses are guilty of false accusation and their punishment is 80 lashes.[17] Maliki school of sharia considers pregnancy in an unmarried woman as sufficient evidence that she committed the hudud crime of zina.[18][19] The Hadiths consider homosexuality as zina, to be punished with death.[20]

The penalty for apostasy[change | change source]

Sharia law does not allow Muslims to leave Islam, in order to become atheist or convert to other religions. This is strictly forbidden, and is called apostasy. In Muslim theology, apostasy is a crime against God. The punishment for apostasy is death for Muslim male apostates. The major schools of sharia law differ in their punishment for female apostates: Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali sharia requires execution of female apostates, while Hanafi and Jafari sharia requires arrest, solitary confinement and punishment till she recants and returns to Islam.[21]

In many Muslim countries, some people may be accused of apostasy even if they have non-conventional (non-traditional or unusual) interpretations of the Quran. Sunni and Shia Muslims have historically accused each other of apostasy, since the early days of Islam. Similarly Sufi, Ahmadiyya and other minority groups of Muslims have been accused of apostasy by majority Islamic sects.[22][23]

Festivals[change | change source]

There are two festivals that are considered Sunnah.[24]

  1. Eid ul-Fitr
  2. Eid ul-Adha

During these festivals, specific rituals are used:

Dietary laws[change | change source]

Islamic law does not list every food and drink that is thought to be pure. It does list some specific foods and drinks that are not allowed.[28]

  1. Pork, blood, and scavenged meat are not allowed. People are also not allowed to eat animals that were slaughtered in the name of someone other than God.
  2. Animals must be slaughtered in the manner of tazkiyah (cleansing) by taking God’s name.
  3. Intoxicants (like alcoholic drinks) are not allowed.

While Islamic law prohibits (does not allow) dead meat, this does not apply to fish and locusts.[29][30][31] Also, hadith literature prohibits beasts having sharp canine teeth, birds having claws and tentacles in their feet,[32] Jallalah (animals whose meat stinks because they feed on filth),[33] tamed donkeys,[34] and any piece cut from a living animal.[28][35]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. AB Leeman (2009), Interfaith Marriage in Islam, Indiana Law Journal, 84, pp. 743–746
  2. Yohanan Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition, ISBN 978-0521827034, pp. 161–175
  3. Aharôn Layiš (2006), Women and Islamic Law in a Non-Muslim State, ISBN 978-1412805841, p. 14
  4. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan (2005), A handbook on Sharia implementation in Northern Nigeria: women and children's rights focus, ISBN 978-9783607507, pp. 67-68
  5. 5.0 5.1 E. Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen (2014), Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law, ISBN 978-0857934475, pp. 115-116
  6. W. Hallaq (2009), Sharia: Theory. Practice, Transformations, ISBN 978-0521678742, pp. 270-271
  7. Shahla Haeri (1992), Temporary marriage and the state in Iran: an Islamic discourse on female sexuality, Social Research, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 201-223
  8. R Peters (2006), Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521796705, pp. 116-119
  9. 9.0 9.1 M. Cherif Bassiouni (1997), Crimes and the Criminal Process, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1997), pp. 269-286
  10. Tahir Wasti (2009), The Application of Islamic Criminal Law in Pakistan: Sharia in Practice, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004172258, pp. 283-288
  11. Anver M. Emon (2012), Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law: Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law, ISBN 978-0199661633, pp. 234-235
  12. Aaron Spevack (2014), The Archetypal Sunni Scholar: Law, Theology, and Mysticism, ISBN 978-1438453712, p. 81
  13. M Kar (2005), Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures: Family, Law and Politics (Ed: Suad Joseph, Afsāna Naǧmābādī), ISBN 978-9004128187, pp. 406-407
  14. Quran 24:2
  15. http://quran.com/24/2
  16. http://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/17/16
  17. Quran 24:$
  18. Z. Mir-Hosseini (2011), Criminalizing sexuality: zina laws as violence against women in Muslim contexts, SUR-Int'l Journal on Human Rights, 8(15), pp. 7-33
  19. Kecia Ali (2006), Sexual Ethics and Islam, ISBN 978-1851684564, Chapter 4
  20. http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/hadith/abudawud/038-sat.php#038.4447
  21. Peters & De Vries (1976), Apostasy in Islam, Die Welt des Islams, Vol. 17, Issue 1/4, pp 1-25
  22. Siddiq & Ahmad (1995), Enforced apostasy: Zaheeruddin v. state and the official persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, 14, pp. 275-337
  23. Rahman (2014), State restrictions on the Ahmadiyya sect in Indonesia and Pakistan: Islam or political survival?, Australian Journal of Political Science, 49(3), pp. 408-422
  24. Sunan Abu Da'ud 1134
  25. Sahih Bukhari 1503
  26. Normally these are thought to be the days in which pilgrims stay at Mina once they return from Muzdalifah i.e. 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah
  27. Ghamidi, The Ritual of Animal Sacrifice
  28. 28.0 28.1 Ghamidi(2001), The dietary laws
  29. Sunan ibn Maja 2314
  30. Nisai 59
  31. Al-Zamakhshari. Al-Kashaf, vol. 1, (Beirut: Daru’l-Kitab al-‘Arabi), p. 215
  32. Sahih Muslim 1934
  33. Nisai 4447
  34. Sahih Bukhari 4199
  35. Sunan Abu Da'ud 2858

References[change | change source]

  • Laleh Bakhtiar and Kevin Reinhart (1996). Encyclopedia of Islamic Law: A Compendium of the Major Schools. Kazi Publications. ISBN 1-56744-498-9
  • Muhammad ibn Idris al- Shafi'i (1993). Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence. ISBN 0-946621-15-2
  • Khaled Abou El Fadl 2003). Reasoning with God: Rationality and Thought in Islam. Oneworld. ISBN 1-85168-306-2
  • Cemal Kafadar (1996). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20600-2
  • Omid Safi (2003). Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1-85168-316-X
  • Mumisa, Michael (2002) Islamic Law: Theory & Interpretation. Amana Publications. ISBN 1-59008-010-6
  • Daniel W. Brown (1996). Rethinking traditions in modern Islamic thought. Cambridge University Press, UK. ISBN 0-521-65394-0
  • Bernard Weiss (2002), Studies in Islamic Legal Theory, Brill Academic publishers, ISBN 90-04-12066-1

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

English Wiktionary
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