Sharia law

by Andrea Elizabeth

If I’m going to say, “the evils of Sharia law”, I reckon I need to know more about it besides the brutal punishments I’ve heard about, so…. Wikipedia ironically says, “In archaic Arabic, the term sharì’a means ‘path to the water hole.’…” at the beginning of their extensive article.

The article goes on to describe how Muslim practices aren’t to deviate from Koran’s truth, but that tribal bodies need to interpret how they are worked out in local life. Sounds familiar.

This is interesting and more nuanced than I had thought:

The categories of human behavior

Fiqh classifies behavior into the following types or grades: fard (obligatory), mustahabb (recommended), mubah (neutral), makruh (discouraged), and haraam (forbidden). Every human action belongs in one of these five categories.[67]

[pretend this is indented too] Actions in the fard category are those required of all Muslims. They include the five daily prayers, fasting, articles of faith, obligatory charity, and the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.[67]
The mustahabb category includes proper behavior in matters such as marriage, funeral rites and family life. As such, it covers many of the same areas as civil law in the West. Sharia courts attempt to reconcile parties to disputes in this area using the recommended behavior as their guide. A person whose behavior is not mustahabb can be ruled against by the judge.[68]
All behavior which is neither discouraged nor recommended, neither forbidden, recommended nor required is of the Mubah; it is permissible.[67]
Makruh behavior, while it is not sinful of itself, is considered undesirable among Muslims. It may also make a Muslim liable to criminal penalties under certain circumstances.[68]
Haraam behavior is explicitly forbidden. It is both sinful and criminal. It includes all actions expressly forbidden in both the Old Testament and the Qur’an. Violating any of the Ten Commandments is considered haraam. Certain Muslim dietary and clothing restrictions also fall into this category.[67] [/pretending]

The recommended, permissible and discouraged categories are drawn largely from accounts of the life of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. To say a behavior is sunnah is to say it is recommended as an example from the life and sayings of Muhammad. These categories form the basis for proper behavior in matters such as courtesy and manners, interpersonal relations, generosity, personal habits and hygiene.[67]

Sharia law can be organized in different ways.

Sharia can be divided into five main branches: 1) ibadah (ritual worship), 2) mu’amalat (transactions and contracts), 3) adab (morals and manners), 4) i’tiqadat (beliefs) and 5) ‘uqubat (punishments).

So far (2/3 down the scroll bar) I am surprised to learn the details of Sharia law concerning economic trade (interesting), marriages (surprisingly tolerant of fornication), and courts. The main criticisms brought out are concern women only inheriting half as much as men and are not being eligible witnesses in court, as well as the amputations for theft, stonings for adultery and the death penalty for defaming Allah. The other aspects of Sharia legal proceedings are interesting – much simpler and less red tape than western systems. They are based on respect for verbal oaths, not paper documents. Apparently people take lying much more seriously there.

I’ll have to finish tomorrow, and think about Old Testament penalties and “permissive” societies some more.

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