Religious tolerance. Some critics say that Muslim-led states that follow Sharia law are particularly intolerant of infidels or those who practice other religions. Researchers say this intolerance is largely due to premodern restrictions applied to non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries supported by certain hadiths later introduced into the Muslim canon recommending the death penalty for Muslims who commit apostasy. Nigeria and Pakistan have applied the death penalty for blasphemy and apostasy, as has Sudan for many years. 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 the Jewish and Anglican communities. In Israel, Christians, Jews and Muslims can decide family law issues in religious courts, as can members of some other religions. In addition, Muslim minority countries such as Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States allow Islamic banks or Shariah-compliant banks. [7] There is disagreement among law schools about whether other crimes should also be included, such as public apostasy and sodomy. Jonathan Brown (2017) Stoning and Handcuffs: Understanding hudud and Sharia law in Islam.

Yaqueen Institute for Islamic Research, p. 5. Available for download on When most non-Muslims hear the word “Sharia,” they immediately think of bloodthirsty guys with long beards demanding that their hands be cut off. This is not surprising, because whenever the subject appears in the media, it is inevitably discussed as something barbaric, alien and a threat to all of us. Last year, a survey of more than 10,000 people found that nearly a third of them believe there are no-go zones in Britain where “Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter.” [1] Most of the nearly fifty Muslim-majority countries in the world have laws related to Sharia law, the direction that Muslims believe God has given in a number of spiritual and secular matters. Some of these countries have laws calling for critics to call cruel punishment or inappropriately restrict the lives of women and minorities. However, there is great diversity in how governments interpret and apply Sharia law, and people often misunderstand the role it plays in legal systems and in the lives of individuals. A warning: This is a basic overview of some of the issues and is not complete at all. I teach Islam in the UK at a university, but I am not a Muslim myself. The details of Islamic legal principles are mainly written from a Sunni perspective (the largest group in Islam). We should note at this point that there is not a single “law book” for Islamic law that a judge can refer to. Fiqh is a huge collection of different, often competing, interpretations of basic sources, and as the work of interpreting God`s will for mankind is ongoing, there are always new fiqh that can be derived.

This means that it is not at all as rigid and fixed as Islamic law stereotypically imagines. We should also avoid assuming that Muslim-majority countries “apply Sharia law, even if they claim to do so.” In fact, the legal systems of these countries tend to contain a mixture of Islamic legal principles, local customs, Colonial European law and civil law developed since independence. Government under God. In countries where Islam is the official religion, the constitution refers to Sharia as the “source” or sometimes “source” of the law. Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia are examples, while Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are among those that apply Islamic law in personal matters, but not civil or criminal. In Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, among others, it is forbidden to enact laws contrary to Islam. Non-Muslims are not required to obey Sharia law, and in most countries they are subject to the jurisdiction of special government committees and auxiliary courts. The 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 go back to the days when Muslims ruled over powerful empires. “They focus on power and not on interpretation or law as a demanding discipline or area of expertise,” Rabb says. “With these organizations, you have all the insignia and benefits of claiming religious orders, but nothing of the substance or procedure that has come with the complex system of Islamic law through informed and changing interpretations over time.” Militant Islamist groups are known to adopt puritanical interpretations of Sharia law.

Among others, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab and the self-proclaimed Islamic State want to establish what they call fundamentalist regimes. These organizations rely on violence and terrorism to advance their extreme versions of Islamic law, establish and expand their influence, and persecute their opponents. They are known to impose cruel punishments rarely used by governments in Islamic history, such as stoning and others that traditional Islamic law explicitly prohibits, such as crucifixion. [24] Conversely, officials in some Muslim minority countries try to prevent Sharia law or state practice. Some have banned behaviors promoted under Sharia law, such as wearing the veil for women or ritual slaughter to make meat halal. The ban on the wearing of the veil or headscarf exists, for example, in France, where secularism is part of the national identity and where ostentatious religious symbols are prohibited in certain public spaces. Proponents of such laws say they promote women`s empowerment and social harmony, while critics say they ignore individual freedoms and unfairly target Muslims. About half of the Muslim-majority countries in the world have Sharia-based laws that typically govern areas such as marriage and divorce, inheritance, and child custody.

Only a dozen Muslim countries partially or completely apply Sharia law to criminal law. Governments tend to favor one of the main schools or madhhabs of Islamic law, although individual Muslims generally do not adhere to a school in their personal lives. Each school is named after the scholar who founded it, and they differ in their methods of interpreting Islamic law: for example, in a 2010 survey, 17 percent of Muslims surveyed said they preferred to “introduce Sharia law in all cases, which is traditional Islamic law”; 19% chose the option of “introducing Sharia law, but only if the sanctions do not violate British law”; 20% said they did not want “Sharia” to be introduced; and 37% said they didn`t know. Such a high proportion of “don`t know” responses is significant. This can indicate anything, from respondents who think the question was too simple to answer properly, for having given little thought to the topic, confusion or conflict on the topic. But we don`t know anything about what respondents actually understood by “Sharia,” or their views on hudud. Six years later, another inquiry asked British Muslims to what extent they would support or reject certain aspects of the law, “perhaps in the context of civil law cases such as financial disputes, divorce or other family matters, but which could also cover other aspects” in which “Sharia law is introduced instead of British law”? 43% supported the statement, 22% disagreed, 23% said “neither” and 12% did not know. This survey was formulated more carefully than the one in 2010, but it is still too vague to tell us clearly what Muslims think about criminal law in Islam. [13] Sharia law recognizes the fundamental inequality between master and slave, between free women and slave women, between believers and non-believers, and their unequal rights. [330] [331] Sharia law authorized the institution of slavery by using the words abd (slave) and the expression ma malakat aymanukum (“what your right hand possesses”) to refer to slaves, who were made prisoners of war. [330] [332] Under Islamic law, Muslim men could have sex with female prisoners and slaves.

[333] [326] Women slaves under Sharia law were not allowed to own property or move freely. [334] [335] Sharia provided a religious basis for the enslavement of non-Muslim women (and men) in the history of Islam, but allowed the production of slaves.