In the second article of this series on shari’a, I focussed on the fact that shari’a criminalises many actions that are deemed perfectly legal in most other jurisdictions. That in itself should be enough to convince us of the fundamental incompatibility of shari’a with western legal systems.
As if this (regarding normally non-criminal acts as crimes) is not enough, shari’a also positively commands certain actions that would normally be viewed as crimes. Here are some examples:
Domestic Violence. The Qur’an is clear men should beat their wives if they persist in disobedience: “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them.” (Qur’an 4:34) Wife beating is therefore perfectly legal and even actively encouraged under shari’a codes.
Gender Discrimination. Shari’a follows the Qur’an’s instructions on inheritance and rules of evidence. According to this a woman can only inherit half of what a man can (Qur’an 4:11). The testimony of a woman is also worth only half of that of a man (Qur’an 2:282). Shari’a therefore entrenches gender inequality by recognizing the legality of discrimination against women.
Underage Sex. Because of Muhammad’s personal example and the clear teaching of the Qur’an (cf. Qur’an 65:4), shari’a codes do not include adequate restrictions outlawing sex with minors. It is, on the contrary, the case that any effort by governments in the Muslim world to bring the age of consent in line with international standards is bound to be met with fierce resistance by Islamic religious establishments.
Slavery. The Qur’an and hadiths do not contain a single condemnation of slavery but treat it as a fact of life. Add to this Muhammad’s personal example as a slave owner (Sahih Bukhari 8:73:182), and it will quickly become clear why shari’a does not contain any provisions outlawing slavery. While it is true that slavery is not prevalent within much of the modern Muslim world (there are notable exceptions), this is certainly not due to any restraining effect exerted by shari’a based legal systems.
The above should make it clear that any notion that shari’a is simply an alternative legal system, that could easily be accommodated within that of free societies, is nothing short of absurd. In the next article we will turn our attention to the fundamentally unjust ways in which witnesses are treated under shari’a.