People fear what they don’t understand. Sharia law often falls into this category. But why? You may be surprised to learn that it is not very different from the positive principles we try to teach children, such as kindness and responsibility. Schools around the world ask students to follow the rules of conduct. Companies and organizations have codes of ethics and values for employees. Likewise, Islam has rules and codes for its followers.
What is Sharia Law
The word Sharia literally means “the way” and is understood as the way to salvation . Sharia is an Islamic guideline to help Muslims achieve high moral and ethical codes of conduct in society. It addresses much more than just legal issues. He highlights the importance of daily interactions and courtesies with other members of society. Sharia principles are based on the words of God in the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Sharia’s main focus is to encourage fair treatment of women, children, neighbors, the needy and even nature.
In addition to oceans and cultures, it is a common rule that you should not commit murder. Human beings, in general, follow rules and live according to the moral code. Society, too, is based on morals, but morality alone is not enough as it is subjective. For Muslims, these guidelines and morals come from the Creator , and so a Muslim strives to be an ideal model for society. Sharia forms a fixed objective reference for living a morally ethical life. Thus, not only individuals, but communities can thrive under these guidelines.
Shariah is not a book of commandments like those in Exodus. It is not a legal document for witch hunting. It is not a call to arms or a rejection of Western society. It is simply a basis for addressing the puzzles of life.
Does Sharia Cut Heads and Hands?
Contrary to popular belief, Sharia is not a set of barbaric and violent laws that govern with extremism. The Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are very clear in being fair and gracious.
God tells us in the Qur’an:
In fact, Allah demands justice and good for others; and giving as kinship; and forbids indecency and manifests wickedness and unjust transgression. He warned that you can be careful [Holy Quran 16:90]
And we also remember:
“AND WHOEVER DOES AN EVIL OR IS UNFAIR TO HIMSELF, THEN BEGS ALLAH FOR FORGIVENESS, WILL FIND ALLAH FORGIVE, MERCIFUL.” [HOLY QURAN 4: 110]
Before any punishment can be made, a series of long and detailed conditions must be met in order to find someone guilty of a crime. For example, only a few requirements for convicting someone as a thief are:
- There must be two reliable and honest witnesses or the accused confesses twice
- The accused must not be poor and in need of what he or she has taken (food – protective clothing)
- The value of the withdrawn item must be greater than four and a half grams of gold
- The item was taken in a safe and private place where the owner cannot ask for help
- The accused can pay the owner for the item before the judge has made his verdict
As you can see, God protects his creation by making it difficult to convict someone of a crime. He places the burden of proof on the accuser, not the accused. The punishments are to serve as a reminder and motivation to comply with the laws and be an honest citizen.
Sharia is Built on Kindness and Mercy
Adhering to Sharia principles includes conducting everyday interactions with benevolence and compassion for others. The Qur’an advocates humility and kindness as God says:
“… tell men beautiful words.” [Holy Quran 2:83]
“… AND THE SERVANTS OF THE MERCIFUL ARE THOSE WHO WALK, MEEKLY, ON THE EARTH, AND, WHEN THE IGNORANT ONES ADDRESS THEM, THEY SAY:“ SALAM! ” “PEACE!”. [HOLY QURAN 25:63]
Muslims are encouraged to be kind, even when they issue punishments. Those who impose cruelty on others do so against God’s guidance. In fact, Islam prohibits violence and prohibits any attack on civilians, women, children, places of worship, crops and even animals.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
“THOSE WHO ARE MERCIFUL WILL BE SHOWN MERCY BY THE MERCIFUL. BE MERCIFUL TO THOSE ON EARTH AND THE ONE IN HEAVEN WILL HAVE MERCY ON YOU ”. [AT-TIRMIDHĪ]
Sharia Calls For Law That Respects Citizens
Sharia law is by no means a “get out of jail” card for Muslims to wreak havoc on unsuspecting Muslims or non-Muslims. In fact, it holds Muslims to a higher standard and promotes justice and peace for all.
Islamic law does not encourage Muslims to reject the constitution of the land on which they reside. This is not a replacement for government rules. In fact, Sharia orders Muslims to follow the laws surrounding them, unless they contradict the Creator’s guidelines.
The reason that most constitutions protect religious freedom is because our predecessors recognized the goodness of religion and that intolerance is the real cause of the social downfall. Do you see a threat when a Muslim fasts for the month of Ramadan, donates a part of his wealth to the poor or prays five times a day?
Sharia Protects Women’s Rights
Sharia law aims to safeguard women from financial burdens and hold men accountable for the welfare of their wives and children, regardless of whether the woman has her personal wealth. A woman’s property is exclusively hers and can never be taken over by her husband, brother or father. This kind of financial independence is a recent right of most modern societies.
In Islam, women are highly respected. For example, a mother deserves more honor than a father.
A man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said:
O Messenger of Allah! Who among humanity deserves the best company from me? He replied, “Your mother.” The man asked: Then who? Then he replied: “Your mother”. The man then asked: Then who? Then the Prophet ﷺ replied again: “Your mother”. The man then asked: Then who? Then he replied: “So your father”. [Bukhari]
LIKEWISE, THE PROPHET ﷺ DECLARED THAT “THE MOST COMPLETE OF BELIEVERS IN THE FAITH IS THE ONE WITH THE BEST CHARACTER. AND THE BEST OF YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ARE BEST FOR YOUR WOMEN ”. [AT-TIRMIDHI]
The Qur’an recognizes that there is no life without a mother and that is why wives and mothers deserve to be treated with the greatest respect and well taken care of within a marriage. If she is not, a woman has the right to request a divorce if she so wishes.
There are many Muslims who dedicate their lives to making the world a better place by following Sharia law. Sharia encourages positive relationships and kindness. It is the guide to achieve good character and be a benefit to your community. Why not take a look at reading the Qur’an and studying the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ