In the previous article I introduced this series on shari’a by pointing out that it is supposed to be a universal code for all Muslims under all circumstances. It should, therefore, be understood that shari’a was designed to control every aspect of the lives of society and individuals.
It is for this reason that certain actions which in many parts of the world would be legally neutral are depicted as firmly on the wrong side of shari’a. The following are, for example, regarded as serious crimes under shari’a:
- Apostasy (i.e. leaving the Islamic religion). In some jurisdictions where shari’a is consistently applied, apostates can expect the death penalty. (Based on Sahih Bukhari 4:52:260 and similar hadiths)
- Free Speech. Blasphemy is regarded as a very serious crime under shari’a. Criticism of the prophet is regarded as especially serious. In line with Muhammad’s treatment of his critics most shari’a codes demand the death penalty for blasphemy. (Based on Muhammad’s treatment of critics like the poetess Asma bint Marwan)
- Adultery. The traditional shari’a punishment for adultery is stoning, this despite the fact that this punishment is mandated by the hadith collections and not the Qur’an. (See, for example, Sahih Bukhari 8:82:817)
- Consumption of Alcohol and Games of Chance. Shari’a law in this area is based on Qur’an 5:90: “O you who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divine arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside that you may succeed.” First offenses are generally punished with a whipping with more serious consequences for repeat offenses.
- Homosexuality. Shari’a codes differ on the severity of punishment for acts of homosexuality but not on whether homosexuals should be punished. On the latter, they are in complete agreement. Many shari’a codes demand the death penalty for homosexuality. (Qur’an 4:16 and 7:80)
Many other examples could be supplied of actions that would normally not attract the attention of most legal systems but are crimes under shari’a.
It should be emphasized that these ‘crimes’ are still aggressively prosecuted in the Islamic world. Because of this many examples of people losing their lives because of apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and homosexuality in the 21st century Islamic world can be cited.
In the next article I will turn my attention to the fact that many actions that are regarded as criminal in the west are deemed acceptable under shari’a.