Aug 23, 2010

With the controversy surrounding the Islamic Cultural Center that is to be built in the vicinity of 'Ground Zero' (I refuse to call it the 'Ground Zero' mosque because that is not where it is located), I thought now would be a good time to educate the people on what some of the fuss is all about.  One of the things that is being tossed around is that of Sharia Law.  So I decided to do a little research and find out exactly what Sharia Law is.  Here is some of the information that I found:

Sharia law is "the path that must be followed by a Muslim".

It brings together elements from the Qur'an and the Hadith (a collection of the deeds and words of Mohammed), plus judges' rulings from Islam's first centuries. It was fixed by about the 10th century, and contains detailed instructions for practically every aspect of life.

In the West, it is most famous for its penal code: the prescribed punishments for sexual offences, which include stoning; for theft, which include amputation; and for apostasy, for which the punishment is death.

Much more important for most Muslims, however, are the parts of sharia that relate to the status of women, to contracts and to family law.

These include provisions that allow men several wives and that enshrine, in law, the inferiority of women.

Women can be divorced merely by their husbands reciting "I divorce you" three times; their testimony is worth less than that of men; and they cannot marry a non-Muslim man - although it is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman. source

Here is some information that was provided by the Washington Post:

Islam makes no distinction between the sacred and secular, thus Islamic law, or sharia, governs not only religious affairs but also daily ones, from criminal justice to banking and business ethics. Traditional sharia, for instance, dictates that Muslims should only invest in ventures that hew to Islamic doctrine. Since the Koran forbids drinking, investing in a winery is not permitted.

Sharia literally means "path" or "path to water," referring to the path a Muslim must follow to salvation. The law comprises multiple elements: most important is the instruction of the Koran, considered the literal word of God; next is the sunnah, or the model of how one should live set by the Prophet Muhammad; the final components are the ijma, or consensus of Islamic scholars, and the qiyas, a sort of reasoning by analogy that extends the law to issues not explicity addressed in the holy texts (for example, extending the drinking prohibition, drugs may also be assumed to be forbidden).

Most Middle Eastern countries have some degree of sharia law integrated into their legal codes. Mostly these measures deal with issues of personal-status, such as marriage and divorce, while sharia guidance on criminal law has largely been tempered with legislation that is seen as more modern or secular; generally adulterers are not stoned to death in the contemporary Middle East. Even so, Saudi Arabia and Iran claim to implement sharia fully in all matters.


There are four main schools of Sharia law:

bullet Hanbali: This is the most conservative school of Shari'a. It is used in Saudi Arabia and some states in Northern Nigeria.
bullet Hanifi: This is the most liberal school, and is relatively open to modern ideas.
bullet Maliki: This is based on the practices of the people of Medina during Muhammad's lifetime.
bullet Shafi'i: This is a conservative school that emphasizes on the opinions of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad.
Within Sharia law, there are a group of "Haram" offenses which carry severe punishments. These include pre-marital sexual intercourse, sex by divorced persons, post-marital sex, adultery, false accusation of unlawful intercourse, drinking alcohol, theft, and highway robbery. Haram sexual offenses can carry a sentence of stoning to death or severe flogging. 


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