Sharia or Shari'a is the body of Islamic law. The term means "way" or "path"; it is the legal framework within which public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Muslim principles of jurisprudence. It is not actually part of the canonical Qur'an; that is to say, it is not believed to be the direct word of Allah by Muslims, but rather the interpretation of it.
Sharia deals with many aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues. Some Islamic scholars accept Sharia as the body of precedent and legal theory established before the 19th century, while other scholars view Sharia as a changing body, and include Islamic legal theory from the contemporary period.
There is not a strictly codified uniform set of laws pertaining to Sharia. It is more like a system of devising laws, based on the Qur'an, Hadith and centuries of debate, interpretation and precedent.
Before the 19th century, legal theory was considered the domain of the traditional legal schools of thought. Most Sunni Muslims follow Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki or Shafii, while most Shia Muslims follow Jaafari (Hallaq 1997, Brown 1996, Aslan 2006).
Today the Sharia is the law basis in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Sudan, Gambia, Senegal, Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and in parts of Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan and Somalia.
Laws and practices under Sharia:
- The Muslim man who is not currently a fornicator can only marry a Muslim woman who is not currently a fornicatress or a chaste woman from the people of the book.
- The Muslim woman who is not currently a fornicatress can only marry a Muslim man who is not currently a fornicator.
- The Muslim fornicator can only marry a Muslim fornicatress.
- The Muslim fornicatress can only marry a Muslim fornicator.
- Men can marry up to four wives, but only if they are treated equally. Those who do not consider themselves capable of maintaining just behavior between wives, should refrain from this practice.
- The woman cannot marry without the consent of her guardian. If she marries, her husband becomes her new guardian.
- The guardian may choose a suitable partner for a virgin girl, but the girl is free to contest and has the right to say 'no'.
- The guardian cannot marry the divorced woman or the widow if she didn't ask to be married.
- The number of husbands is limited to one.
- "Do not marry unless you give your wife something that is her right." It is obligatory for a man to give bride wealth (gifts) to the woman he marries.
- A woman who wishes to be divorced usually needs the consent of her husband. However, most schools allow her to obtain a divorce without her husband's consent if she can show the judge that her husband is mistreating her, failing to support her financially, or is impotent. If the husband consents she does not have to pay back the dower.[Citation Needed]
- Men have the right of unilateral divorce. A divorce is effective when the man tells his wife that he is divorcing her.
- Men may also reverse their decision and unilaterally reinstate the marriage. They can do this up to three times. On the third declaration of divorce, it is "permanent" and cannot be revoked. He can only remarry her after this time if she has been wed to another man and subsequently divorced.
- A divorced woman of reproductive age must wait three months before marrying again to ensure that she is not pregnant. Her ex-husband should support her financially during this period.[Citation Needed]
- Under certain circumstances (abuse, for instance), the wife may ask a judge to separate the couple.
- These are guidelines; Islamic law on divorce is different depending on the school of thought.
- Dancing and other forms of "fun" entertainment are forbidden
- Music is sometimes banned in Sharia governments, notably by Islamist groups in Somalia and Afghanistan.
The penalty for theft
- In accordance with the Qur'an and several hadith, theft is punished by imprisonment or amputation of hands or feet, depending on the number of times it was committed and depending on the item of theft.
The penalty for adultery
- In accordance with hadith, stoning to death is the penalty for married men and women who commit adultery. For unmarried men and women, the punishment prescribed in the Qur'an and hadith is 100 lashes.
In Nigeria in 2000, 12 northern states (Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Borno, Zamfara, and Gombe) reintroduced criminal law aspects of the Sharia legal system, which many Christians allege amounted to the adoption of a state religion. Moreover, the Nigerian Civil Liberties Organization contends that the establishment of a Commission for Religious Affairs in Zamfara State is tantamount to adopting Islam as a state religion.
Several northern states used state funds for the construction of mosques, teaching of Qadis (Shari'a court judges), and subsidies for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. However, several other states, including northern states, apportioned funds to finance Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem and to construct churches. States, whether predominantly Christian or Muslim, generally responded to the religious needs expressed by the majority of their residents.
The question of the constitutionality of the Shari'a legal system, as adopted in 12 northern states, has been debated at the Supreme Court. However, the court has not rendered a judgment on this issue, in part because of the often volatile relationships between religious groups.
Many financial institutions in the United States are using sharia-compliant finance, or SCF. Problems presented by SCF include that it enables racketeering, antitrust activity, securities fraud, consumer fraud and material support for terror. The Treasury Department has been co-sponsoring seminars on sharia-compliant finance with Harvard Law School's Islamic Finance Project in preparation for new projects to be undertaken by the department under President Barack Hussein Obama
There is a very small population of polygamist Muslims in the United States.
In the face of increasing support in some circles for the adoption of Sharia law in the United States (in the name of "multiculturalism"), Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly adopted an amendment to the state constitution putting an end to the use of Sharia law in their state courts. This amendment was quickly overturned by a Clinton-appointed federal judge.
In 2008, the Department for Work and Pensions in the United Kingdom revised its policies to provide for extra welfare benefits for men who have married more than one wife, as permitted by sharia law.
- Pendlebury, Richard Sharia UK: What exactly does it mean? Daily Mail. Accessed 9 February 2008
- Barton, Fiona, McBride, Alex A brutal beating and justice meted out in a humble back street cafe: how sharia law already operates in Britain Daily Mail. Accessed 9 February 2008
- ACT! for America Political organization opposed to sharia law, radical Islam, and allegations of Islamophobia aimed at conservatives.
- David Yerushalmi, Esq., Civil Liability and Criminal Exposure for U.S. Financial Institutions and Businesses Engaged in Shariah-Compliant Finance (http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/Modules/NewsManager/Center%20publication%20PDFs/Shairias%20Black%20Box%20(D%20Yerushalmi).pdf ).(Caution: large file).
- COALITION TO STOP SHARIAH TO PROTEST U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT'S EFFORTS TO PROMOTE SEDITIOUS SHARIAH-COMPLIANT FINANCE, press release, November 5, 2008.
- Pauline Bartolone, For these Muslims, polygamy is an option, San Francisco Chronicle, August 5, 2007.
- Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Multiple wives will mean multiple benefits, Telegraph, April 18, 2008.