Understanding Islam – Part 7 (Sharia Law-1)

Some Basics.

Sharia Law – “The origin of all Islamic legislation is the Qur’an.  It sets forth the fundamentals of Sharia, clarifying its principles teachings. It clarifies beliefs in great detail and discusses forms of worship and legal matters in broad terms.  It fulfills the role in Islamic Law that a constitution fulfills for the man-made laws of nations.” (Source: www.ediscoverislam.com/Sharia.asp)

From the note above the Spiritual influence of the divine (divine revelation) for the Muslim, from Allah and the Prophet, Muhammad, as annotated in the Qur’an and in the recordings of the life of Muhammad (the Sunnah and Hadith), provide the make-up for Sharia Law.  There is no secular, or temporal, influence on the Law.  The relationship between the Individual and the Creator is regulated through Sharia.  Separation of church and state is rejected by the Sharia. 

The Sunnah refers to statements, actions, and tacit approvals of the Prophet Muhammad during his lifetime.  The Sunnah and Hadith are presented as a compilation document, never departing (as noted by Islamic scholars) from the Qur’an, but providing explanation, clarification, and application of the Qur’an.  In the court system a jurist looks first to the Qur’an then to the Sunnah to find the injunction applicable.

Muhammad lived 570-632 A.D., born in Mecca.   Over a 22 year period the Qur’an and the Hadith was provided to Companions, people who traveled with and were close to Muhammad, people who recited the revelations Muhammad claimed he receive from the Angel Gabriel during stays in a cave near Mecca and a period in Medina, repeating words Muhammad gave to them.  Those recollections were then recorded by a secretary of Muhammad, Zaid, and eventually documented after his death into what today is the Qur’an and the compilation of the Sunnah and Hadith.  The foundations of Islam remain in the times of Muhammad, his experiences, and the document prepared from his recall of dreams and his expressions and experiences during the latter half of his lifetime.  His first revelation came at the age 40.  He was publicly proclaiming “God is the One”, referring to Allah, to the tribes in Mecca three years after the first revelation.  He was persecuted early on by the locals as his actions were counter to their existing polytheistic ways – which may have been the justification for a claim of war first applied to the religion of Islam and against the Prophet.  In 622 Muhammad and a few followers migrated to Medina to the north to escape any abuse.  Ten (10) years later, having formed an army that attacked non-believers, pagans, and built a war chest on the spoils of war under the banner of Allah, Muhammad returned deliberately initiating armed conflict between the Muslims (his army of 10,000 from Medina) and Mecca to successfully conquer Mecca.   His purpose was to unite the tribes under one god – Allah.

For the purpose of understanding the Bible was compiled over a period of more than 4,000 years with input from a number of prophets, apostles, and using directly spoken words of Christ, the divine Lord God himself.  The Qur’an was compiled over the last 22 years of Muhammad’s life and a number of years after as various copies were reviewed (some documents believed lost in battle) by Caliphs and the final canon accepted.  Except for the final all other documents were then destroyed leaving only the one book – the Qur’an.  All words were revelation, divine guidance, to the self-proclaimed messenger of Allah.  One book comprised of recalled revelations, dreams, recited by an illiterate individual, and eventually written down from continued recitations from this prophet or repeats from Companions to other scribes. 

The System of Sharia Law – a few points

  • Claims need be substantiated by two male witnesses, or one male and two female (2 women = 1 male) witnesses
  • Serious crimes require 4 male witnesses
  • A ruling by one judge is not binding on another (i.e. not reference to ‘precedent’)
  • Attorneys not required
  • Judge decides, an official government representative enforces
  • Two main sections: Acts of Worship (Five Pillars), and Human interaction (inheritance, divorce, child care, penal punishments, judicial matters involving witnesses and evidence, food and drink, warfare and peace)
  • Marriage – Muslim man to marry a Muslim woman.
  • Wives – limited to 4, but only if treated equally
  • Women to marry needs consent of guardian.  Husband becomes her new guardian
  • Husbands – limited to one (1)
  • Dowry – on obligation of the man to provide the Muslim wife.
  • Divorce:  women needs consent of husband and keeps dowry, without consent she gives dowry back; men can pronounce divorce twice, seek separation, and then regain marriage, but a third pronouncement of divorce the women has no lawful obligation to return
  • Theft – imprisonment or amputation, depending on number of crimes.
  • Adultery – for married men and woman, stoning; for unmarried, 100 lashes.
  • Dietary codes and dress codes – penalties decided locally on a case by case basis
  • Disobedient wives – men can physically discipline, but 1st verbal, 2nd refrain from intimate relations, 3rd beatings.
  • Conversion to other religions – strictly forbidden, termed apostasy, equated to treason, and carried a penalty of death (most interpretation of Sharia)
  • Homosexuality – considered an abomination and a grave sin.  Same punishment as adultery
  • Freedom of speech – not allowed as to criticism of Muhammad – considered blasphemy. Punishment = death.
  • Treatment of Non-Muslims – (‘dhimmis’) – good and humane treatment with full privileges to practice, except for public demonstrations, proselytizing (converting Muslims), taxed more than Muslims, no new churches, possibly wear cloth of different color to distinguish them from Muslims, cannot testify against Muslims,   Muslims do not recognize or acknowledge religious freedom
  • Jihad – a religious duty of Muslims.  The 6th Pillar (according to some scholars). The only form of warfare permissible under Islamic Law.  Holy war.  Defense of Muhammad (possibly based on the first attack against Muhammad in Mecca) and Allah until there is only Islam and one god – Allah. 


This is a quick summary and a start to understanding many of the essentials and the tenor of Sharia Law.  It is clearly a law born out of the messages from Muhammad the last 22 years of his life.  It creates for a rational person significant problems when applied to the idea of human rights.  It is a law that subscribes to a world to be only Muslim and the law of all the land to be only Sharia, the dictates from the authorities in power and their religious advisor.  Freedom of religion is not to be considered.  Freedom itself is a concern.  Certainly the act of preventing other thoughts as to another religion from invading the minds of Muslims is important.  Rote repetition as a reminder and daily act of prayer (more mantra) that there is only Allah and Muslims must protect and fight for their religion as the Only religion is foremost. 

May the Grace of God, the Triune God, and the Holy Spirit that fills all believers provide light and comfort to those so oppressed by a religion that does not allow freedom.  It does not even allow the voice of one they consider a prophet, Jesus Christ, to be heard, not even his expression that “It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal. 5:1)

May everyone be free – free to use their intellect to decide for themselves their path to an life eternal.  It should be voluntary, not required by law, or coerced.

Grace and peace.

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