The shariah laws listed in Thirty Bad Shariah Laws
– however culturally insensitive it may seem
to hear – need to be rejected, because they are aggressive and oppressive, not peaceful or benign. These practices are themselves intolerant or fail to respect all humans with full dignity.
They are extreme and thus deny life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, these harmful shariah laws are wrong. They (should) have expiration dates on them – back in the seventh century.
This list of shariah laws is intended to be read by judges, lawyers, legislators, city council members, educators, journalists, government bureaucrats, think tank fellows, TV and radio talk show hosts, and anyone else who occupies the “check points” in society; you initiate the national dialogue and shape the flow of the conversation in society.
You are the decision and policy makers.
As intellectuals, you believe the critics of shariah exaggerate (and maybe some are guilty of it). They’re just “Islamophobes.” Ignore them. Islam is a worldwide religion, after all. It deserves respect.
You are also thorough relativists who believe in tolerance for all religions, in all their parts.
At first glance, this is a commendable outlook.
You like what Thomas Jefferson said, “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my legs.”
It is a true that beliefs that do not harm us monetarily or physically should be tolerated. Shariah has positive aspects to it – or, rather, they do no damage in those two ways. Therefore, parts of shariah should be tolerated in a religiously diverse society like America.
The Five Pillars are examples. They are part of shariah – divine Islamic law, which traces its origins ultimately back to the Quran (or Koran) and Muhammad’s example or life, the sacred traditions, which were eventually written down in the hadith. None of those five rituals and policies picks our pockets or breaks our legs, if the five are done privately or in the mosque.
Unfortunately, however, this list is not about the harmless parts in shariah, but the ones that are incompatible with the modern era.
Even Thomas Jefferson had his limits. He sent the marines to take back captured American merchant sailors and to open up the trade routes that were hampered by the Muslim Barbary pirates in North Africa, who had sold the captives into slavery or demanded ransoms.
Do the elites have any limits?
In some cases, a religion does indeed pick our pockets and break our legs.
Each item in the list has one or more back-up articles. Readers should click on them to find out that the thirty points come right out of original Islam and are not invented out of thin air. Each back up also has a section on modern Islam, mentioning Muslims – too few – who advocate reform.
And if readers would like to see various translations of the Quran, they may go to the website quranbrowser.com and type in the references. If readers are in doubt about the meaning of a verse, they may go to the tafsir (commentary) written by Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), one of the most authoritative and highly regarded classical commentators in the Sunni world, at qtafsir.com; or the readers may search through the modern commentary by Sunni Indo-Pakistani religious scholar and politician Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi (d. 1979) at englishtafsir.com.
1. The mosque and state are not separate.
To this day, Islamic nations that are deeply rooted in shariah, like Iran and SaudiArabia, do not adequately separate the two realms, giving a lot of power to courts and councils to ensure that legislation does not contradict the Quran (never mind whose interpretation).
Most of the laws listed below come from this confusion.
Back-up article: Mosque and State
5. A woman captive of jihad may be forced to have to sex with her captors (now owners).
Quran 4:24 and especially the sacred traditions and classical law allow this. The sacred traditions say that while out on military campaigns under Muhammad’s leadership, jihadists used to practice coitus interruptus with their female captives.
Women soldiers fighting terrorists today must be forewarned of the danger.
6. Property can be destroyed or confiscated during jihad.
Quran 59:2 and 59:5 discuss those rules. Sacred traditions and classical law expand on the Quranic verses. Modern Islamic law officially improves on the Quran: see Article Three of the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, which is nonetheless based on shariah, but it outlaws wanton destruction of property. Would there be any conflict between old Islam and modern Islam in a war today?
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital and The Quran and the Sword
7. Jihad may be waged to collect spoils.
Quran 8:1, 8:7, 8:41, and 48:20 show this clearly. Early Islam followed the old Arab custom of raiding caravans, but as its military grew, the raids were elevated to jihad. The spoils of war were coveted. Which Islam would prevail in a war today – the old oneor the modern one?
8. A second-class submission tax, called the jizyah, must be imposed on Jews and Christians (and other religious minorities) living in Islamic countries.
Quran 9:29 offers three options to Jews and Christians: (1) Fight and die; (2) convert to Islam; (3) or keep their religion, but pay a tribute or submission tax, the jizyah, while living under Islam.
In Islamic history, vanquished Jews and Christians became known as dhimmis. This word appears in Quran 9:8 and 9:10, meaning a “treaty” or “oath,” but it can also mean those who are “condemned” “reviled” or “reproved” (Quran 17:18, 17:22; 68:49). The word “submission” in Quran 9:29 can also be translated as “humiliation,” “utterly humbled,” “contemptible” or “vile.” It can mean “small” as opposed to “great.
Islamic nations today still seek to impose this second-class religion tax.
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital and The Quran and the Sword
9. Slavery is allowed.
It is true that freeing slaves was done in original Islam (Quran 5:89 and 24:33), and the Quran says to be kind to slaves (Quran 4:36), but that is not the entire story.
In addition to those verses, Quran 4:24, 23:1-7; 33:52 allow the institution. Muhammad owned slaves, even one who was black (so says a sacred tradition). He was militarily and politically powerful during his later life in Medina, but he never abolished slavery as an institution.
Officially, Islamic nations have outlawed slavery (Article 11, which is still based on shariah). That proves Islam can reform on at least one matter. Can it reform on the other shariah laws? And we are told that “no other nation or religious group in the world treated slaves better than the Muslims did.” The back-up article and next two items in this list contradict that claim.
The legacy of slavery still runs deep in Islamic countries even today.
10. A male owner may have sex with his slave-women, even prepubescent slave-girls.
See Quran 4:24 and 23:1-7; but it is classical law that permits sex with prepubescent slave girls and describes them as such. Some Muslim religious leaders and others still advocate this practice, taking the slaves as concubines (though sex with prepubescent slave-girls is another matter).
11. Slaves may be beaten.
That’s what sacred traditions and classical laws say. See Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery
12. Apostasy laws, including imprisonment or execution, may be imposed on anyone who leaves Islam (an apostate).
Normally this is a prescribed punishment, but it is also political, since it is about freedom of religion. Surprisingly the Quran does not cover punishing apostates down here on earth, though in the afterlife they will be punished. Does this modern Islam can reform old Islam? Quran 4:88-89, 9:73-74, and 9:123, read in that sequence, might deal with earthly punishments. Mainly, however, the sacred traditions and classical law permit harsh treatment for anyone who leaves Islam.
Islamic courts and laws still impose these punishments today, or religious scholarstoday argue for the law.
13. Blasphemy laws, including imprisonment or execution, may be imposed on critics of Islam or Muhammad.
These verses should be read in historical sequence, for they show that as Islam’s military power increased, the harsh treatment of mockers and critics also intensified, as follows: Quran 3:186, 33:57-61, 9:61-66, 9:73 and 9:123. Sacred traditions, classical laws, and historical Islam are unambiguous about the punishments, recording the people, often their names, who were assassinated for mocking Muhammad and the Quran.
Islamic nations and pockets of Islam in non-Muslim countries still impose thesepunishments today.
18. Homosexuals may be imprisoned, flogged, or executed.
Surprisingly, the Quran is not all that clear on this subject, but the traditions and classical laws are.
Islamic nations to this day still impose those punishments, and religious leaders stillargue for harsh punishments.
Back-up article: Homosexuality
20. Adulterers may be stoned to death.
The verse that says to stone adulterers to death went missing from the Quran, so says Umar, a companion of Muhammad and the second caliph (ruled 634-644). But he left no doubt that this penalty was done under Muhammad’s direction, and the sacred traditions and classical laws confirm it. But a few rules of evidence must be followed, like confession of the adulterer or four eyewitnesses. In some interpretations of the law, if a woman is raped, but cannot produce four just and pious men who witnessed it, then she is slandering the alleged rapist (or gang rapists) – never mind that the four just and pious eyewitnesses did nothing to stop it, but stood there and watched it.
Some modern Islamic nations still do this, and religious and legal scholars argue for it.
22. A woman inherits half what a man does.
Quran 4:11 says it, and the hadith (traditions) and classical law confirm it.
Modern Islamic nations still do this, and religious leaders still argue for it.
Back-up article: Women’s Status and Roles
23. A woman’s testimony in a court of law counts half of a man’s testimony, since she might “forget.”
Quran 2:282 says it in the context of business law. But the hadith (traditions) explains that women’s minds are deficient; classical law expands this curtailment to other areas than business.
Modern Islamic nations still do this, and religious scholars still argue for it.
24. A man may legally and irrevocably divorce his wife, outside of a court of law, by correctly pronouncing three times “you are divorced.”
Quran 2:229 says this, and the traditions and classical law explain and confirm it. A judge in a modern Islamic country will ensure that the husband did not speak from a fit of irrational rage (anger is okay) or intoxication, for example. Then the court will validate the divorce, not daring to overturn it, since the Quran says so.
Sometimes this homemade and irrevocable divorce produces a lot of regret in the coupleand manipulation from the husband in Islam today.
25. A wife may remarry her ex-husband if and only if she marries another man, has sex with him, and then this second man divorces her.
Quran 2:230 says this, and the traditions and classical law confirm it. Supposedly, this rule is designed to prevent easy divorce (see the previous point), but it produces a lot of pain, in Muslims today.
26. Husbands may hit their wives.
Quran 4:34 says it, and the traditions and classical law confirm it. There is a sequence of steps a husband follows before he can hit her, but not surprisingly this rule creates all sorts of abuse and confusion in Islamic society today.
27. A man may be polygamous with up to four wives.
Quran 4:3 (and 33:50-52) allow this, but only if a man can take care of them. The traditions and classical law confirm it. Modern Muslims still push for this old maritalarrangement even in the USA, and many Islamic nations still allow it. But someMuslims are fighting polygamy. The hadith (traditions) paints a picture of Muhammad’s household that was full of strife between the wives.
28. A man may simply get rid of one of his “undesirable” wives.
Quran 4:128 says this. The traditions say about the verse that the wife whom Muhammad wanted to get rid of was “huge” and “fat.” She gave up her turn to his favorite girl-bride Aisha. He kept the corpulent wife. There is heartbreak in Islam today.
29. A mature man may marry a prepubescent girl.
Quran 65:1-4, particularly verse 4, assumes, but does not command, the practice. The hadith says Aisha was six years old when she was engaged to Muhammad (he was in his fifties), and their marriage was consummated when she was nine. The hadith indicate she was prepubescent at nine. She never did bear him any children. Classical law says a father may give away his prepubescent daughter, but she also has a few rights.
Officially many Islamic nations have raised the legal marriage age, but pockets in the Islamic world still follow this old custom. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia okaysmarriage to ten-year-old girls. Work is still needed to be done for the rights of girl brides, particularly for their sexual health.
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