Sharia (Islamic law) deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics, and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, everyday etiquette and fasting. Adherence to Islamic law has served as one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Muslim faith historically, and through the centuries Muslims have devoted much scholarly time and effort on its elaboration. Human interpretations of sharia (fiqh) vary between Islamic sects and respective schools of jurisprudence, yet in its strictest and most historically coherent definition, sharia is considered the infallible law of God.
There are two primary sources of sharia law: the precepts set forth in the Quranic verses (ayahs), and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Where it has official status, sharia is interpreted by Islamic judges (qadis) with varying responsibilities for the religious leaders (imams). For questions not directly addressed in the primary sources, the application of sharia is extended through consensus of the religious scholars (ulama) thought to embody the consensus of the Muslim Community (ijma). Islamic jurisprudence will also sometimes incorporate analogies from the Quran and Sunnah through qiyas, though many scholars also prefer reasoning ('aql) to analogy.
The introduction of sharia is a longstanding goal for Islamist movements globally, including in Western countries, but attempts to impose sharia have been accompanied by controversy, violence, and even warfare. Most countries do not recognize sharia; however, some countries in Asia, Africa and Europe recognize sharia and use it as the basis for divorce, inheritance and other personal affairs of their Islamic population. In Britain, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal makes use of sharia family law to settle disputes, and this limited adoption of sharia is controversial.
The concept of crime, judicial process, justice and punishment embodied in sharia is different from that of secular law. The differences between sharia and secular laws have led to an on-going controversy as to whether sharia is compatible with secular democracy, freedom of thought, and women's rights.
Scholars describe the word sharia as an archaic Arabic word denoting "pathway to be followed", or "path to the water hole". The latter definition comes from the fact that the path to water is the whole way of life in an arid desert environment.
The etymology of sharia as a "path" or "way" comes from the Quranic verse[Quran45:18]: "Then we put thee on the (right) Way of religion so follow thou that (Way), and follow not the desires of those who know not."Malik Ghulam Farid in his Dictionary of the Holy Quran, believes the "Way" in 45:18 (quoted above) derives from shara'a (as prf. 3rd. p.m. sing.), meaning "He ordained". Other forms also appear: shara'u[Quran45:13] as (prf. 3rd. p.m. plu.), "they decreed (a law)"[Quran42:21]; and shir'atun (n.) meaning "spiritual law"[Quran5:48].
The Arabic word sharīʿa has origins in the concept of ‘religious law’; the word is commonly used by Arabic-speaking peoples of the Middle East and designates a prophetic religion in its totality. Thus, sharīʿat Mūsā means religious law of Moses (Judaism), sharīʿat al-Masīḥ means religious law of Christianity, sharīʿat al-Madjūs means religious law of Zoroastrianism. The Arabic expression شريعة الله (God’s Law) is a common translation for תורת אלוהים (‘God’s Law’ in Hebrew) and νόμος τοῦ θεοῦ (‘God’s Law’ in Greek in the New Testament [Rom. 7: 22]). In contemporary Islamic literature, sharia refers to divine law of Islam as revealed by prophet Muhammad, as well as in his function as model and exemplar of the law.
Sharia in the Islamic world is also known as Qānūn-e Islāmī (قانون اسلامی).
The origin of sharia is the Qu'ran, and traditions gathered from the life of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (born ca. 570 CE in Mecca).
Sharia underwent fundamental development, beginning with the reigns of caliphsAbu Bakr (632–34) and Umar (634–44)and imaam ali, during which time many questions were brought to the attention of Muhammad's closest comrades for consultation. During the reign of Muawiya b. Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, ca. 662 CE, Islam undertook an urban transformation, raising questions not originally covered by Islamic law. Since then, changes in Islamic society have played an ongoing role in developing sharia, which branches out into fiqh and Qanun respectively.
The formative period of fiqh stretches back to the time of the early Muslim communities. In this period, jurists were more concerned with pragmatic issues of authority and teaching than with theory. Progress in theory happened with the coming of the early Muslim jurist Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi'i (767–820), who laid down the basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence in his book Al-Risala. The book details the four roots of law (Quran, Sunnah, ijma, and qiyas) while specifying that the primary Islamic texts (the Quran and the hadith) be understood according to objective rules of interpretation derived from careful study of the Arabic language.
A number of important legal concepts and institutions were developed by Islamic jurists during the classical period of Islam, known as the Islamic Golden Age, dated from the 7th to 13th centuries.
Among some Muslims, tribal laws were adapted to conform to sharia "for they could not form part of the tribal law unless and until they were generally accepted as such." Additionally, Noel James Coulson, Lecturer in Islamic law of the University of London, states that "to the tribe as a whole belonged the power to determine the standards by which its members should live. But here the tribe is conceived not merely as the group of its present representatives but as a historical entity embracing past, present, and future generations." So, while "each and every law must be rooted in either the Quran or the Sunnah," without contradiction, tribal life brought about a sense of participation. Such participation was further reinforced by Muhammad who stated, "My community will never agree in error".
The Umayyads initiated the office of appointing qadis, or Islamic judges. The jurisdiction of the qadi extended only to Muslims, while non-Muslim populations retained their own legal institutions. The qadis were usually pious specialists in Islam. As these grew in number, they began to theorize and systemize Islamic jurisprudence. The Abbasid made the institution of qadiindependent from the government, but this separation wasn't always respected.
Both the Umayyad caliph Umar II and the Abbasids had agreed that the caliph could not legislate contrary to the Quran or the sunnah. Imam Shafi'i declared: "a tradition from the Prophet must be accepted as soon as it become known...If there has been an action on the part of a caliph, and a tradition from the Prophet to the contrary becomes known later, that action must be discarded in favor of the tradition from the Prophet." Thus, under the Abbasids the main features of sharia were definitively established and sharia was recognized as the law of behavior for Muslims.
In modern times, the Muslim community became divided into groups reacting differently to the change: secularists believe that the law of the state should be based on secular principles, not on Islamic legal doctrines; traditionalists believe that the law of the state should be based on the traditional legal schools; reformers believe that new Islamic legal theories can produce modernized Islamic law and lead to acceptable opinions in areas such as women's rights. This division persists until the present day (Brown 1996, Hallaq 2001, Ramadan 2005, Aslan 2006, Safi 2003, Nenezich 2006).
There has been a growing religious revival in Islam, beginning in the eighteenth century and continuing today. This movement has expressed itself in various forms ranging from wars to efforts towards improving education.
Sharia, in its strictest definition, is a divine law, as expressed in the Quran and Muhammad's example (often called the sunnah). As such, it is related to but different from fiqh, which is emphasized as the human interpretation of the law. Many scholars have pointed out that the sharia is not formally a code, nor a well-defined set of rules. The sharia is characterized as a discussion on the duties of Muslims based on both the opinion of the Muslim community and extensive literature. Hunt Janin and Andre Kahlmeyer thus conclude that the sharia is "long, diverse, and complicated."
From the 9th century onward, the power to interpret and refine law in traditional Islamic societies was in the hands of the scholars (ulema). This separation of powers served to limit the range of actions available to the ruler, who could not easily decree or reinterpret law independently and expect the continued support of the community. Through succeeding centuries and empires, the balance between the ulema and the rulers shifted and reformed, but the balance of power was never decisively changed. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution introduced an era of European world hegemony that included the domination of most of the lands of Islam. At the end of the Second World War, the European powers found themselves too weakened to maintain their empires. The wide variety of forms of government, systems of law, attitudes toward modernity and interpretations of sharia are a result of the ensuing drives for independence and modernity in the Muslim world.
According to Jan Michiel Otto, Professor of Law and Governance in Developing Countries at Leiden University, "Anthropological research shows that people in local communities often do not distinguish clearly whether and to what extent their norms and practices are based on local tradition, tribal custom, or religion. Those who adhere to a confrontational view of sharia tend to ascribe many undesirable practices to sharia and religion overlooking custom and culture, even if high-ranking religious authorities have stated the opposite." Otto's analysis appears in a paper commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There are two sources of Sharia (understood as the divine law): the Quran and Sunnah. The Quran is viewed as the unalterable word of God. It is considered in Islam as infallible part of Sharia. Quran covers a host of topics including God, personal laws for Muslim men and Muslim women, laws on community life, laws on expected interaction of Muslims with non-Muslims, apostates and ex-Muslims, laws on finance, morals, eschatology, and others. The Sunnah is the life and example of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Sunnah's importance as a source of Sharia, is confirmed by several verses of the Quran (e.g. [Quran33:21]). The Sunnah is primarily contained in the hadith or reports of Muhammad's sayings, his actions, his tacit approval of actions and his demeanor. While there is only one Quran, there are many compilations of hadith, with the most authentic ones forming during the sahih period (850 to 915 CE). The six acclaimed Sunni collections were compiled by (in order of decreasing importance) Muhammad al-Bukhari, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Al-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah. The collections by al-Bukhari and Muslim, regarded the most authentic, contain about 7,000 and 12,000 hadiths respectively (although the majority of entries are repetitions). The hadiths have been evaluated on authenticity, usually by determining the reliability of the narrators that transmitted them. For Shias, the Sunnah may also include anecdotes The Twelve Imams.
The process of interpreting the two primary sources of Islamic law is called fiqh (literally meaning "intelligence") or Islamic jurisprudence. While the above two sources are regarded as infallible, the fiqh standards may change in different contexts. Fiqh covers all aspects of law, including religious, civil, political, constitutional and procedural law. Fiqh depends on 4 sources:
Amongst the sources unique to fiqh, i.e. ijma and qiyas/ijtihad, the former is preferred. In Shi'a jurisprudence the fourth source may be expanded to include formal logic (mantiq). Historically the fiqh also came to include comparative law, local customs (urf) and laws motivated by public interest, so long as they were allowed by the above four sources. Because of the involvement of human interpretation, the fiqh is considered fallible, and thus not a part of Sharia (although scholars categorize it as Islamic law).
Map of the Muslim world with the main schools of Islamic law (madhhab)
Madhhab is a Muslim school of law or fiqh (religious jurisprudence). In the first 150 years of Islam, there were many madhhab. Several of the Sahābah, or contemporary "companions" of Muhammad, are credited with founding their own. In Sunni sect of Islam, the prominent Islamic jurisprudence schools of Damascus in Syria (often named Awza'iyya), Kufa and Basra in Iraq, and Medina in Arabia survived as the Malikimadhhab, while the other Iraqi schools were consolidated into the Hanafimadhhab. Schools such as the Jariri were established later, which eventually died out.
Sunni sect of Islam has five surviving schools of Sharia interpretation: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali and Ẓāhirī; Shii sect of Islam has three: Ja'fari, Zaydi and Ismaili. Of these schools, the largest proportion of Sunni Muslims belong to Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali, while majority of Shia Muslims belong to Ja'fari school. There are other minority fiqhs as well, such as the Ibadi school of Khawarij sect, and those of Sufi and Ahmadi sects. The Salafi movement attracts followers from various schools of fiqh, and is based on the Quran, Sunnah and the actions and sayings of the first three generations of Muslims.
Some Sunni Muslims prefer one madhhab out of the four (normally a regional preference) but also believe that ijtihad must be exercised by the contemporary scholars capable of doing so. Some rely on taqlid, or acceptance of religious rulings and epistemology from a higher religious authority in deferring meanings of analysis and derivation of legal practices instead of relying on subjective readings.
Categories of law
Along with interpretation, each fiqh classifies its interpretation of Sharia into one of the following five categories: fard (obligatory), mustahabb (recommended), mubah (neutral), makruh (discouraged), and haraam (forbidden). A Muslim is expected to adhere to that tenet of Sharia accordingly.
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.
The mustahabb category includes proper behaviour 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 behaviour as their guide. A person whose behaviour is not mustahabb can be ruled against by the judge.
All behaviour which is neither discouraged nor recommended, neither forbidden nor required is of the Mubah; it is permissible.
Makruh behaviour, 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.
Haraam behaviour is explicitly forbidden. It is both sinful and criminal. It includes all actions expressly forbidden in the Quran. Certain Muslim dietary and clothing restrictions also fall into this category.
The recommended, neutral and discouraged categories are drawn largely from accounts of the life of Muhammad. To say a behaviour is sunnah is to say it is recommended as an example of the life and sayings of Muhammad. These categories form the basis for proper behaviour in matters such as courtesy and manners, interpersonal relations, generosity, personal habits and hygiene.
Shari'ah law has been grouped in different ways, such as: Family relations, Crime and punishment, Inheritance and disposal of property, The economic system, External and other relations.
"Reliance of the Traveller", an English translation of a fourteenth-century CE reference on the Shafi'i school of fiqh written by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, organizes sharia law into the following topics: Purification, Prayer, Funeral prayer, Taxes, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Trade, Inheritance, Marriage, Divorce, Justice.
In some areas, there are substantial differences in the law between different schools of fiqh, countries, cultures and schools of thought.
Sharia judicial proceedings have significant differences from other legal traditions, including those in both common law and civil law. Sharia courts traditionally do not rely on lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves. Trials are conducted solely by the judge, and there is no jury system. There is no pre-trial discovery process, and no cross-examination of witnesses. Unlike common law, judges' verdicts do not set binding precedents under the principle of stare decisis, and unlike civil law, sharia is left to the interpretation in each case and has no formally codified universal statutes.
A confession, an oath, or the oral testimony of a witness are the main evidence admissible in a hudud case, written evidence is only admissible when deemed reliable by the judge, i.e., notaries. Testimony must be from at least two witnesses, and preferably free Muslim male witnesses, who are not related parties and who are of sound mind and reliable character; testimony to establish the crime of adultery, or zina must be from four direct witnesses.Forensic evidence (i.e., fingerprints, ballistics, blood samples, DNA etc.) and other circumstantial evidence is likewise rejected in hudud cases in favor of eyewitnesses, a practice which can cause severe difficulties for women plaintiffs in rape cases.
While Sharia encouraged written contracts, Timur Kuran states that the treatment of written evidence in religious courts in Islamic regions created an incentive for opaque transactions, and the avoidance of written contracts in economic relations. This led to a continuation of a "largely oral contracting culture" that was prevalent in pre-modern Islamic society.
In lieu of written evidence, oaths are accorded much greater weight; rather than being used simply to guarantee the truth of ensuing testimony, they are themselves used as evidence. Plaintiffs lacking other evidence to support their claims may demand that defendants take an oath swearing their innocence, refusal thereof can result in a verdict for the plaintiff. Taking an oath for Muslims can be a grave act; one study of courts in Morocco found that lying litigants would often "maintain their testimony 'right up to the moment of oath-taking and then to stop, refuse the oath, and surrender the case." Accordingly, defendants are not routinely required to swear before testifying, which would risk casually profaning the Quran should the defendant commit perjury; instead oaths are a solemn procedure performed as a final part of the evidence process.
In Nigeria, where imposition of sharia was highly controversial, even Nigeria's justice minister was compelled to admit that in sharia courts, "if a man owes you money, you can get paid in the evening. Whereas in the regular courts, you can sit in court for ten years and get no justice."
Most Muslim-majority countries incorporate sharia at some level in their legal framework, with many calling it the highest law or the source of law of the land in their constitution. Most use sharia for personal law (marriage, divorce, domestic violence, child support, family law, inheritance and such matters). Elements of sharia are present, to varying extents, in the criminal justice system of many Muslim-majority countries. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Brunei, Qatar, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and Mauritania apply the code predominantly or entirely.
Most Muslim-majority countries with sharia-prescribed hudud punishments in their legal code, do not prescribe it routinely and use other punishments instead. The harshest sharia penalties such as stoning, beheading and the death penalty are enforced with varying levels of consistency.
Since 1970s, most Muslim-majority countries have faced vociferous demands from their religious groups and political parties for immediate adoption of Sharia as the sole, or at least primary legal framework. Some moderates and liberal scholars within these Muslim countries have argued for limited expansion of sharia.
An attempt was made in 2012 to expand Sharia's role in Egyptian legal system through democratic means, though there were accusations the constitution based on Sharia was "rushed through" and, according to liberals, secularists and the Coptic Church, it failed to protect freedom of expression and religion. The Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt was replaced amid a controversy. Egypt adopted a new 2013 constitution, which has some differences from the 2012 version; however, the 2013 constitution also states, "the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation" in Egypt.
Except for certain provinces such as Christian-majority North Sulawesi and Hindu-majority Bali, Sharia has increasingly become part of the civil and penal law in many provinces of Indonesia – the country with the world's largest Muslim population. In Aceh province, Sharia was first adopted as personal law for Muslims. In 2001, sharia expanded in the province to become the primary criminal law as well, but only for Muslims. In 2014, the provincial government of Aceh extended sharia's reach, enacting and enforcing sharia to apply it to non-Muslims as well.
The 1979 constitution of Iran enshrines the merger of religious and political power, declares Jafari school of Sharia interpretation – Shia sect of Islam – as the arbitrator of its laws. Article 4 of its Constitution declares Sharia as the central basis of positive law in Iran, as well as its customary law and international law including any in the domain of human rights.
Sharia law is officially recognised by the justice system in Israel in matters of personal status of Muslims if they choose a sharia court (e.g. marriage, divorce, guardianship). Judges' salaries are paid by the state. Lebanon also incorporates sharia law for Muslims in family matters only.
Pakistan has increasingly adopted Sharia law since the 1970s. It promulgated the Hudood Ordinances in 1979, the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance in 1980, Constitutional Amendment in 1985 enshrining Islam and Sharia, and the Shariat Ordinance in 1988. Sharia also applies to personal laws, and civil institutions such as the nation's bank and financial system.
Saudi Arabia has only Sharia, and no other civil or penal code. Qadi (religious judges) and Sharia courts enforce the Islamic law. In addition, for royal decrees (nizams) by the Saudi king, the state has government tribunals; for allegations against government officials, there is a board of grievances. However, for these as well, the protocols followed are those based on Hanbali school of Sharia interpretation (fiqh).
In September 2008, newspapers in the United Kingdom stated the government had "quietly sanctioned" the recognition of sharia courts. This refers to situations where both sides in a legal dispute freely choose a sharia court as a binding arbitrator rather than taking a matter before the official courts.
Hisbah (Arabic: حسبة ḥisb(ah), or hisba) is a historic Islamic doctrine which means "accountability". Hisbah doctrine holds that it is a religious obligation of every Muslim that he or she report to the ruler (Sultan, government authorities) any wrong behavior of a neighbor or relative that violates sharia or insults Islam. The doctrine states that it is the divinely sanctioned duty of the ruler to intervene when such charges are made, and coercively "command right and forbid wrong" in order to keep everything in order according to sharia. Some Salafist suggest that enforcement of sharia under the Hisbah doctrine is the sacred duty of all Muslims, not just rulers. The doctrine of Hisbah in Islam has traditionally allowed any Muslim to accuse another Muslim, ex-Muslim or non-Muslim for beliefs or behavior that may harm Islamic society. This principle has been used in countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and others to bring blasphemy charges against apostates. For example, in Egypt, sharia was enforced on the Muslim scholar Nasr Abu Zayd, through the doctrine of Hasbah, when he committed apostasy. Similarly, in Nigeria, after twelve northern Muslim-majority states such as Kano adopted sharia-based penal code between 1999 and 2000, hisbah became the allowed method of sharia enforcement, where all Muslim citizens could police compliance of moral order based on sharia. In Aceh province of Indonesia, Islamic vigilante activists have invoked Hasbah doctrine to enforce sharia on fellow Muslims as well as demanding non-Muslims to respect sharia. Hisbah has been used in many Muslim majority countries, from Morocco to Egypt and in West Asia to enforce sharia restrictions on blasphemy and criticism of Islam over internet and social media.
A 2013 survey based on the opinion of 38,000 individuals by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that support for making sharia the official law of the land is very high in many Muslim-majority Islamic countries. A majority of Muslims favor sharia as the law of land in Afghanistan (99%), Iraq (91%), Niger (86%), Malaysia (86%), Pakistan (84%), Morocco (83%), Bangladesh (82%), Egypt (74%), Indonesia (72%), Jordan (71%), Uganda (66%), Ethiopia (65%), Mali (63%), Ghana (58%), and Tunisia (56%). Among regional Muslim populations elsewhere, significant percentage favored sharia law: Nigeria (71%), Russia (42%), Kyrgyzstan (35%), Lebanon (29%), Kosovo (20%), Tanzania (37%). In Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lebanon and Turkey, 40% to 74% of Muslims wanted sharia law to apply to non-Muslims as well. A 2008 YouGov poll in the United Kingdom found 40% of Muslims interviewed wanted sharia in British law.
Since the 1970s, the Islamist movements have become prominent; their goals are the establishment of Islamic states and sharia not just within their own borders; their means are political in nature. The Islamist power base is the millions of poor, particularly urban poor moving into the cities from the countryside. They are not international in nature (one exception being the Muslim Brotherhood). Their rhetoric opposes western culture and western power. Political groups wishing to return to more traditional Islamic values are the source of threat to Turkey's secular government. These movements can be considered neo-Sharism.
Fundamentalists, wishing to return to basic religious values and law, have in some instances imposed harsh sharia punishments for crimes, curtailed civil rights and violated human rights. These movements are most active in areas of the world where there was contact with Western colonial powers.
Extremists have used the Quran and their own particular version of sharia to justify acts of war and terror against Western individuals and governments, and also against other Muslims believed to have Western sympathies.  Friction between the West and Islam, particularly with regard to the Palestinian question, continues to fuel this conflict.
Sharia law involves elements of a democratic system, namely electoral procedure, though dispute as to what a "democracy" constitutes leaves this in question. Legal scholar L. Ali Khan argues that "constitutional orders founded on the principles of sharia are fully compatible with democracy, provided that religious minorities are protected and the incumbent Islamic leadership remains committed to the right to recall".
However, many courts have generally ruled against the implementation of Sharia law, both in jurisprudence and within a community context, based on Sharia's religious background. Whereas groups within a number of nations are actively seeking to implement Sharia law, in 1998 the Constitutional Court of Turkey banned and dissolved Turkey's Refah Party on the grounds that "Democracy is the antithesis of Sharia", the latter of which Refah sought to introduce.
On appeal by Refah the European Court of Human Rights determined that "sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy". Refah's sharia-based notion of a "plurality of legal systems, grounded on religion" was ruled to contravene the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It was determined that it would "do away with the State's role as the guarantor of individual rights and freedoms" and "infringe the principle of non-discrimination between individuals as regards their enjoyment of public freedoms, which is one of the fundamental principles of democracy".
Ann Elizabeth Mayer points to notable absences from the Cairo Declaration: provisions for democratic principles, protection for religious freedom, freedom of association and freedom of the press, as well as equality in rights and equal protection under the law. Article 24 of the Cairo declaration states that "all the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic shari'a".
Professor H. Patrick Glenn notes that the European concept of human rights developed in reaction to an entrenched hierarchy of class and privilege contrary to, and rejected by, Islam. As implemented in sharia law, protection for the individual is defined in terms of mutual obligation rather than human rights. The concept of human rights, as applied in the European framework, is therefore unnecessary and potentially destructive to these mutual obligations. By "giving priority to human welfare over human liberty," Islamic law justifies the formal inequality of individuals by collective goals.
Many secularist, human rights, and leading organisations have criticized Saudi Arabia's stance on human rights. In 2009, the journal Free Inquiry summarized this criticism in an editorial: "We are deeply concerned with the changes to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by a coalition of Islamic states within the United Nations that wishes to prohibit any criticism of religion and would thus protect Islam's limited view of human rights. In view of the conditions inside the Islamic Republic of Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Syria, Bangdalesh, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we should expect that at the top of their human rights agenda would be to rectify the legal inequality of women, the suppression of political dissent, the curtailment of free expression, the persecution of ethnic minorities and religious dissenters — in short, protecting their citizens from egregious human rights violations. Instead, they are worrying about protecting Islam."
According to the United Nations' universal declaration of human rights, every human has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief. Sharia has been criticized for not recognizing this human right. According to scholars of traditional Islamic law, the applicable rules for religious conversion under Sharia are as follows:
If a person converts to Islam, or is born and raised as a Muslim, then he or she will have full rights of citizenship in an Islamic state.
Leaving Islam is a sin and a religious crime. Once any man or woman is officially classified as Muslim, because of birth or religious conversion, he or she will be subject to the death penalty if he or she becomes an apostate, that is, abandons his or her faith in Islam in order to become an atheist, agnostic or to convert to another religion. Before executing the death penalty, Sharia demands that the individual be offered one chance to return to Islam.
If a person has never been a Muslim, and is not a kafir (infidel, unbeliever), he or she can live in an Islamic state by accepting to be a dhimmi, or under a special permission called aman. As a dhimmi or under aman, he or she will suffer certain limitations of rights as a subject of an Islamic state, and will not enjoy complete legal equality with Muslims.
If a person has never been a Muslim, and is a kafir (infidel, unbeliever), Sharia demands that he or she should be offered the choice to convert to Islam and become a Muslim; if they reject the offer, he or she may either be killed, enslaved, or ransomed if captured.
According to Sharia theory, conversion of disbelievers and non-Muslims to Islam is encouraged as a religious duty for all Muslims, but leaving Islam (apostasy), expressing contempt for Islam (blasphemy), and religious conversion of Muslims is prohibited. Not all Islamic scholars agree with this interpretation of Sharia theory. In practice, as of 2011, 20 Islamic nations had laws declaring apostasy from Islam as illegal and a criminal offense. Such laws are incompatible with the UDHR's requirement of freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In another 2013 report based on international survey of religious attitudes, more than 50% of Muslim population in 6 Islamic countries supported death penalty for any Muslim who leaves Islam (apostasy).
Some scholars claim that Sharia allows religious freedom because a Shari'a verse teaches, "there is no compulsion in religion." Others scholars claim Sharia recognizes only one proper religion, considers apostasy as sin punishable with death, and members of other religions as kafir (infidel); or hold that Shari'a demands that all apostates and kafir must be put to death or enslaved or extracted ransoms from. Yet other scholars suggest that Shari'a has become a product of human interpretation and inevitably leads to disagreements about the “precise contents of the Shari'a." In the end, then, what is being applied is not Sharia, but what a particular group of clerics and government decide is Sharia. It is these differing interpretations of Shari'a that explain why many Islamic countries have laws that restrict and criminalize apostasy, proselytism and their citizen's freedom of conscience and religion.
Many scholars claim Shari'a law encourages domestic violence against women, when a husband suspects nushuz (disobedience, disloyalty, rebellion, ill conduct) in his wife. Other scholars claim wife beating, for nashizah, is not consistent with modern perspectives of the Quran.
One of the verses of the Quran relating to permissibility of domestic violence is Surah 4:34. In deference to Surah 4:34, many nations with Shari'a law have refused to consider or prosecute cases of domestic abuse. Shari'a has been criticized for ignoring women's rights in domestic abuse cases. Musawah/CEDAW, KAFA and other organizations have proposed ways to modify Shari'a-inspired laws to improve women's rights in Islamic nations, including women's rights in domestic abuse cases.
Shari'a is the basis for personal status laws in most Islamic majority nations. These personal status laws determine rights of women in matters of marriage, divorce and child custody. A 2011 UNICEF report concludes that Shari'a law provisions are discriminatory against women from a human rights perspective. In legal proceedings under Shari'a law, a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s before a court.
Except for Iran, Lebanon and Bahrain which allow child marriages, the civil code in Islamic majority countries do not allow child marriage of girls. However, with Shari'a personal status laws, Shari'a courts in all these nations have the power to override the civil code. The religious courts permit girls less than 18 years old to marry. As of 2011, child marriages are common in Middle East, accounting for 1 in 6 all marriages in Egypt and 1 in 3 marriages in Yemen. Rape is considered a crime in all countries, but Shari'a courts in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia in some cases allow a rapist to escape punishment by marrying his victim, while in other cases the victim who complains is often prosecuted with the Sharia crime of Zina (adultery).
There are no priests or clergy needed in order to perform rites and sacraments in Islam. The leader of prayer is known as an imam. Men can lead both men and women in prayer, but women do not traditionally lead men in prayer, and usually lead other women in prayer. In practice, it is much more common for men to be scholars than women, however in the early days of Islam, female scholars were much more common. Islam does not prohibit women from working in a servile, secondary state to men, as it says, "Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers."
Islam allows both single and married women to own property in their own right. Islam grants women the right to inherit property from other family members, and these rights are detailed in the Quran. A woman's inheritance is unequal and less than a man's, and dependent on many factors.[Quran4:12] For instance, a daughter's inheritance is usually half that of her brother's.[Quran4:11]
Until the 20th century, Islamic law granted women certain legal rights that Western legal systems did not grant women. Since the 20th century, Western legal systems have been thought to allow more women's rights than Islamic law, by allowing women to hold equal positions in society, with regards to employment, positions in government, and societal independence as in within familial settings.
Islamic law also made "major contributions" to international admiralty law, departing from the previous Roman and Byzantine maritime laws in several ways. The "Islamic influence on the development of an international law of the sea" can thus be discerned alongside that of the Roman influence.
Sharia classically recognizes only natural persons, and never developed the concept of a legal person, or corporation, i.e., a legal entity that limits the liabilities of its managers, shareholders, and employees; exists beyond the lifetimes of its founders; and that can own assets, sign contracts, and appear in court through representatives. Interest prohibitions also imposed secondary costs by discouraging record keeping, and delaying the introduction of modern accounting. Such factors, according to Timur Kuran, have played a significant role in retarding economic development in the Middle East.
^Ritter, R.M. (editor) (2005). New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors – The Essential A-Z Guide to the Written Word. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 349.
^ abc"S̲h̲arīʿa" Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online, 2014
^Rehman, J. (2007), The sharia, Islamic family laws and international human rights law: Examining the theory and practice of polygamy and talaq, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 21(1), pp 108-127
^Staff (January 3, 2003). "Analysis: Nigeria's Sharia Split". BBC News. Retrieved September 19, 2011. "Thousands of people have been killed in fighting between Christians and Muslims following the introduction of sharia punishments in northern Nigerian states over the past three years".
Harnischfeger, Johannes (2008).
• p. 16. "When the Governor of Kaduna announced the introduction of Sharia, although non-Muslims form almost half of the population, violence erupted, leaving more than 1,000 people dead."
• p. 189. "When a violent confrontation loomed in February 200, because the strong Christian minority in Kaduna was unwilling to accept the proposed sharia law, the sultan and his delegation of 18 emirs went to see the governor and insisted on the passage of the bill."
^. Library of Congress Country Studies: Sudan:. "The factors that provoked the military coup, primarily the closely intertwined issues of Islamic law and of the civil war in the south, remained unresolved in 1991. The September 1983 implementation of the sharia throughout the country had been controversial and provoked widespread resistance in the predominantly non-Muslim south ... Opposition to the sharia, especially to the application of hudud (sing., hadd), or Islamic penalties, such as the public amputation of hands for theft, was not confined to the south and had been a principal factor leading to the popular uprising of April 1985 that overthrew the government of Jaafar an Nimeiri".
Marchal, R. (2013), Islamic political dynamics in the Somali civil war. Islam in Africa South of the Sahara: Essays in Gender Relations and Political Reform, pp 331-352
Tibi, Bassam (2008). Political Islam, World Politics and Europe. Routledge. p. 33. "The shari'a was imposed on non-Muslim Sudanese peoples in September 1983, and since that time Muslims in the north have been fighting a jihad against the non-Muslims in the south."
^Otto, Jan Michiel. Sharia and National Law in Muslim Countries. Amsterdam University Press. ISBN978-90-8728-048-2.
Stahnke, Tad and Robert C. Blitt (2005), “The Religion-State Relationship and the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Comparative Textual Analysis of the Constitutions of Predominantly Muslim Countries.” Georgetown Journal of International Law, volume 36, issue 4; also see Sharia Law profile by Country, Emory University (2011)
^Taher, Abul (September 14, 2008). Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts. The Sunday Times
Otto, J. M. (2008). Sharia and National Law in Muslim Countries (Vol. 3), Amsterdam University Press
^ abAbdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Islamic Foundations of Religious Human Rights, in RELIGIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE : RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES, pp 351-356 (John Witte Jr. & Johan D. van der Vyver eds., 1996).
^ abHajjar, Lisa. "Religion, state power, and domestic violence in Muslim societies: A framework for comparative analysis." Law & Social Inquiry 29.1 (2004); see pages 1-38
^Al-Suwaidi, J. (1995). Arab and western conceptions of democracy; in Democracy, war, and peace in the Middle East (Editors: David Garnham, Mark A. Tessler), Indiana University Press, see Chapters 5 and 6; ISBN 978-0253209399
^Irshad Abdal-Haqq founded the Journal of Islamic Law (later renamed the Journal of Islamic Law & Culture), for which he wrote extensively until January 2002, when ownership was transferred to DePaul University.
^ abAbdal-Haqq, Irshad (2006). Understanding Islamic Law – From Classical to Contemporary (edited by Aminah Beverly McCloud). Chapter 1 Islamic Law – An Overview of its Origin and Elements. AltaMira Press. p. 4.
^Ullmann, M. (2002), Wörterbuch der griechisch-arabischen Übersetzungen des neunten Jahrhunderts, Wiesbaden, p. 437. Rom. 7: 22: ‘συνήδομαι γὰρ τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ’ is translated as ‘أني أفرح بشريعة الله’
^Calder, N. "Sharīa." Encyclopaedia of Islam. "Within Muslim discourse, sharia designates the rules and regulations governing the lives of Muslims, derived in principle from the Kuran and hadith. In this sense, the word is closely associated with fiḳh [q.v.], which signifies academic discussion of divine law."
^Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corp. v. Mobil Yanbu Petrochemical Co., Supreme Court of Delaware, January 14, 2005 p. 52. "The Saudi law system differs in critically important respects from the system of legal thought employed by the common law countries, including the United States. Perhaps most significant is that Islamic law does not embrace the common law system of binding precedent and stare decisis. Indeed, in Saudi Arabia, judicial decisions are not in themselves a source of law, and with minor exceptions, court decisions in Saudi Arabia are not published or even open to public inspection."
^Tetley (1999), Mixed Jurisdictions: Common Law v. Civil Law (Codified and Uncodified), La. Law Review, 60, 677
^Fortna, Benjamin C. (March 2011). "Education and Autobiography at the End of the Ottoman Empire". Die Welt des Islams. New Series, Vol. 41, Issue 1. pp. 1–31. "the literacy rate in the Ottoman Empire in 1900 was between five and ten percent".
^Hamoud, Hassan R. "Illiteracy in the Arab World". Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006, Literacy for Life UNESCO.
^muṭawiʿin; variant English spellings: mutawwain, muttawa, mutawallees, mutawa’ah, mutawi’, mutawwa' most literally means "volunteers" in the Arabic language, Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic by Hans Wehr, edited by J. M. Cowan, 4th edition (1994, ISBN 0-87950-003-4), p. 670.
^Fealy & White (2008), REGIONAL SHARIA REGULATIONS IN INDONESIA: ANOMALY OR SYMPTOM?, Chapter: Expressing Islam: Religious life and politics in Indonesia, ISBN 978-9812308511
^Helmi Noman (2013), In the name of God - Faith based internet censorship in majority Muslim countries, in Routledge Handbook of Media Law (Editors: Monroe E. Price et al.), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415683166, Chapter 14
^Anver M. Emon, Mark Ellis, Benjamin Glahn (2012), Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199641444
^Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islamic Law and Human Rights: Conundrums and Equivocations, chapter 14 in Carrie Gustafson, Peter H. Juviler (eds.), Religion and human rights: competing claims?, Columbia University seminar series, M.E. Sharpe, 1999, ISBN 0-7656-0261-X.
^Arzi, Donna E. "Role of Compulsion in Islamic Conversion: Jihad, Dhimma and Ridda, The." Buff. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 8 (2002): 15
^Shafi'i: Rawda al-talibin, 10.7, Hanafi: Ibn 'Abidin: Radd al-muhtar 3.287, Maliki: al-Dardir: al-Sharh al-saghir, 4.435, and Hanbali: al-Bahuti: Kashshaf al-qina', 6.170 (see The Struggle to Constitute and Sustain Productive Orders: Vincent Ostrom's Quest to Understand Human Affairs), Mark Sproule-Jones et al (2008), Lexington Books, ISBN 978-0739126288)
^SIDDIQI, MUHAMMAD IQBAL (1979), The Penal Law of Islam. Tahore: Kazi Publications, pages 40-59
^RAHIM, ABDUR. The Principles of Muhammadan Jurisprudence According to the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali Schools (1911), Westport CT, Hyperion Press, see 1981 Reprint
^Khadduri, Majid (1955), War and Peace in the Law of lslam, The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, USA
^al-Zuhayli, Wahbah Al-Fiqh, al-Islami wa Adillatuhu, 8 vols., 3rd edition, Dar al-Fikr, Damascus (1989)
^Asma Uddin (2010), Religious Freedom Implications of Sharia Implementation in Aceh, Indonesia, Volume 7, Issue 3, Article 8, University of St Thomas Law Journal; see pages 640-647
^Saeed, Abdullah, and Hassan Saeed, eds. Freedom of religion, apostasy and Islam. Ashgate Publishing, 2004.
^Brandt, Michele, and Jeffrey A. Kaplan. "The Tension between Women's Rights and Religious Rights: Reservations to Cedaw by Egypt, Bangladesh and Tunisia." Journal of Law and Religion 12.1 (1995): 105-142.
^Moghul, Umar F. (Fall–Winter 1999). "Approximating Certainty in Ratiocination: How To Ascertain the 'Illah (Effective Cause) in the Islamic Legal System and How To Determine the Ratio Decidendi in the Anglo-American Common Law". Journal of Islamic Law4: 125.
^ abTai, Emily Sohmer (2007). "Book Review: Hassan S. Khalilieh, Admiralty and Maritime Laws in the Mediterranean Sea (ca. 800–1050): The "Kitāb Akriyat al-Sufun" vis-à-vis the "Nomos Rhodion Nautikos"". Medieval Encounters13: 602–612.
Badr, Gamal Moursi (Spring 1978). "Islamic Law: Its Relation to Other Legal Systems". American Journal of Comparative Law (American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 26, No. 2) 26 (2 [Proceedings of an International Conference on Comparative Law, Salt Lake City, Utah, February 24–25, 1977]): 187–198. doi:10.2307/839667. JSTOR839667.
Khan, Muhammad Muhsin (1996). The English Translation of Ṣaḥīḥ Al Bukhārī with the Arabic Text. Alexandria, Va.: Al-Saadawi Publications. ISBN 978-1-881963-59-2. OCLC35673415. The complete translation (in nine volumes) of a popular Sunni collection of hadith.
Mahmassani, Sobhi (1961). The Philosophy of Jurisprudence in Islam, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh. Leiden: Brill.
Mahmassani, Sobhi (1966). The Principles of International Law in the Light of Islamic Doctrine, publications of The Hague Academy of International Law, Leiden.