What is the Sharia Law?

Sharia Law

You may have heard about the Sharia Law in passing through the news. Perhaps, somebody has mentioned it in a conversation. A little idea forms in your head. It sounds vaguely Islamic, but you want to be sure.

What Is Sharia Law?

First, let us take a look at the word “sharia.” Its literal meaning is a “clear path that leads to the water.” Sharia law pertains to the legal system followed by Muslims. The rules in place have their basis in Islam’s main text, which is the Koran. The fatwas, which are made up of regulations prepared by Islamic scholars, have also become part of it.

This strict code of living provides counsel to Muslims on how to live their lives according to God’s wishes. Fiqh is a way in which Muslims try to interpret what those wishes are, and this may be the cause of troubles – not Sharia itself. Sadly, Sharia Law is often associated with barbarism and biblical times’ type of punishments, but it is not what this is all about.

When talking to non-Muslims, though, you should listen carefully because they may be talking about their general way of life and not the Islamic legal system. The term can be used loosely by some.

What are the types of offenses punished by Sharia Law?

Just like in any legal system, offenses are divided according to their severity. Particularly serious crimes are called “hadd” and have preset penalties. Examples of such include adultery and theft. On the other hand, “tazir” refers to less serious crimes, on which a judge is set to preside to make decisions regarding punishment. Generally, these crimes do go unpunished, when not enough proof is presented.

Is Sharia Law headed for modernization?

Unfortunately, some Muslims still practice the giving of harsh punishments as part of their legal system cum way of life. However, several modern Muslims who have been exposed to other cultures believe that interpretations should also consider the current state of the world. They also believe that serious offenses, such as leaving the faith, should be left up to God. They no longer believe that the offenders should be punished by death.

With five different schools of Sariah law, interpretations of the texts have variations. Some lean heavily on how the Koran states that religion should not be forced on anyone.

Is Sharia law unfair to women?

Contrary to popular culture’s depictions, the Sharia law is fair and uplifting to women, according to some modern Muslim women. Perhaps, the variations of beliefs and points of view may have been brought about the different schools of thought.

Where is Sharia law still in practice?

Here are the countries that still practice Sharia law, fully or in part:

  • Afghanistan
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Egypt
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Sudan
  • Nigeria
  • Mauritania
  • Yemen
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates

So, you can tell that not everything that you have heard about Sharia Law is true. It is not anti-woman, and it tries to avoid unjust punishments by requiring at least four eyewitnesses for each crime on trial. It is also not the law of the land, but more of a guideline on how to live.  

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