Sharia (شريعة Šarīʿa; [ʃaˈriːʕa], "way" or "path") refers to the sacred law of Islam. Its sole purpose is to end the rights of women and "non-believers." Muslims believe all Sharia is derived from two primary sources: the divine revelations set forth in the Qur'an, and the sayings and example set by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah–although there is no historic proof that Muhammad ever existed.
Sharia is basically ambiguous, but is supplemented with secondary sources that usually include the consensus of the self-anointed religious scholars embodied in ijma, and analogy from the Quran and Sunnah through qiyas. As in all totalitarian religions, like Roman Catholicism, individual believers have limited to no human rights, for rights are decided by Islamic leaders known as imams. The imam has varying responsibilities depending on the interpretation of Sharia. While the term is commonly used to refer to the leader of communal prayers, the imam may also be a scholar, religious leader or political leader–the majority are political leaders who intone that dissent is against the will of "Allah" (an ancient tribal agricultural deity known more for sexual escapades than any desire to help mortals). Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexuality (for example, imams have ruled that rape is impossible between a husband and wife even if the woman protests, and imams have allowed and sanctioned marriages between men in their fifties with girls as young as one year of age–although consummation [penis entering vagina] is usually restricted until the girl is 9–but this is not mandatory), hygiene (leading the chief imam in Indonesia to issue a ruling that all women should view their body as spoiled and rotting meat), diet (what a person can eat–now how much or the quality of the food; Muslims have continued the Observant Jews abhorance to pork although there is no true prohibition against consuming pork in the Torah or Old or New Testament, for the pigs cursed with the sins of the ancient Israelites were forced over a cliff to their death thereby ending their contamination by mortal sin–but more on this later), prayer (including stopping traffic to get out of the car and unroll a prayer rug, face Mecca, and pray even if an ambulance is behind the car carrying a critically ill or injured person), and fasting.
In Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary, Professor Irshad Abdal-Haqq states "Shar'iah, or more properly Al-Shari'ah, literally means the pathway, path to be followed, or clear way to be followed, and has come to mean the path upon which the believer has to tread. In original usage Shar'iah meant the road to the watering place or path leading to the water, i.e., the way to the source of life. The technical application of the term as a reference to the law of Islam is traced directly to the Qur'an, wherein the adherents of Islam, the believers, are admonished by Allah (God) to follow the clear and right way, the path of Shari'ah: 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 [Qu'ran 45:18]. Originally it was meant as an internal direction, but as radical Islam conquered and forced conversions, it was transmogrified into a ruling on all physical aspects of life–totally not in keeping with the words or intent.
From the ninth century, 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. This slowly changed, with Islamic rulers claiming greater rights in an effort to throw out westerners who were invading their lands, stealing their wealth, and forcing their religions on Muslims. By the nineteenth century Islam revolted. 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, and Islam returned to its own intellectual Dark Ages–rejecting most forms of modernism–including remembering that it preserved the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, the development of mathematics, astronomy, and architecture which Europe had either burned or killed its proponents in a purge of differing opinions (thus censuring Copernicus and Galileo), holding mass bonfires for "heretics" and thinkers (a favorite pasttime of Augustinian, Dominican, and Franciscan friars and priests), and requiring all teachers to be approved of by local bishops (an absurdity that remains the law in Perú)–the majority who had little to no formal education and lived licentious lives.
Muslim countries such as Mali, Kazakhstan and Turkey (which is under pressure from religious political parties) have declared themselves to be secular. Here, religious interference in state affairs, law and politics is prohibited. In these Muslim countries, as well as the secular West, the role of Sharia is limited to personal and family matters. Muslim countries including Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Morocco and Malaysia have legal systems strongly influenced by Sharia, but also cede ultimate authority to their constitutions and the rule of law. Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf states do not have constitutions or legislatures. Their rulers have limited authority to change laws, since they are based on Sharia as it is interpreted by their religious scholars. Iran shares some of these characteristics, but also has a parliament that legislates in a manner consistent with Sharia.
As is the case with evangelical fundamentalistic Christianity, Observant Judaism, and other religions that reject all modern science, intellectual criticism, and education advances, Islamic 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. Thus it is not uncommon to cut off the hand of a thief, run a truck over the arm of a boy as young as 7 who makes, sells or buys an illegal copy of a DVD, CD, VHS, etc or blind the youth if the young person viewed or listed to "the satanic voice of the west." This led the Taliban (a word that means "theological students" in Pakistan) to blow up the ancient statues of Buddha on the Silk Trail even after pleas from the UN and most civilized nations were against it. Female circumcision is common in poor Islamic societies, especially in Somalia and Islamic pockets in south Africa. Killing homosexuals for just being genetically homosexual has been a battle cry bolstered by evangelical extremists from the USA in Nigeria and other African nations, and in Bali, people suffering AIDS have been buried alive. Homosexual activity is illicit under Sharia; however, the prescribed penalties differ from one school of jurisprudence to another. For example, these countries may allow the death penalty for sodomy and homosexual activities: Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In contrast in Indonesia (outside of Aceh province homosexuality and sodomy are legal.
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. (See Ira Lapidus, The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World edited by Francis Robinson. Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 297-298)
Freedom of speech (dissent, criticism) is not permitted in Islamic law. Qadi 'Iyad ibn Musa al-Yahsubi argues that Sharia does not allow freedom of speech in such matters as criticism of Muhammad–but this is loosely translated, as anything criticizing any reputed or reported act or statement by Muhammad (including his marriage to a seven year old girl who became a saint or even a goddess to many Muslims who kept their belief system secret in terror of morality police) has been considered by Sharia scholars as offending Allah and weaking the stranglehold of Islam. Such criticism is blasphemy and punishable by death. Slander, gossip, and backbiting, or "ghiba" is regarded as a major sin.
While women are considered "officially" to be equal with men, in reality it is quite different. A woman's inheritance is different from a man's, both in quantity and attached obligations (Qur'an 4:12). For instance, a daughter's inheritance is usually half that of her brothers (Qur'an 4:11). Islamic jurists have traditionally held that Muslim women may enter into marriage with only Muslim men. Honor killings are common in Pakistan, and growing in the UK where a Muslim woman marries a male who was not of the parents or family choosing. The reverse of this is that the Qur'an allows Muslim men to marry any woman of the People of the Book, a term that includes Jews, Sabians, and Christians, but the catch is that they have to be chaste (virgins) and after marriage all children must be brought up as Muslims. Fiqh law has held that it is mukrah (reprehensible) for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman in a non-Muslim country. Divorce is easy for a Muslim man: he only has to walk around the wife in the presence of four witnesses and proclaim "I divorce you" and he is divorce. In 2003 a Malaysian court (among the most corrupt in the world, equalled only by the vile Islamic courts in Nigeria) ruled that, under Sharia law, a man may divorce his wife via text messaging as long as the message was clear and unequivocal (accessed on the internet on May 24, 2010 athttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3100143.stm). If a woman is divorced, the wife also receives spousal support for three menstrual cycles after the divorce, until it can be determined whether she is pregnant (see: al-Misri, Ahmad ibn Naqib. Reliance of the Traveller (edited and translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller), pg. 546 (m 11.10 (2)). Amana Publications, 1994).
Enslaving entire communities has historically been common in Muslim states. The major juristic schools of Islam have traditionally accepted the institution of slavery. The source of slaves was restricted to war in preference to killing whole tribes en masse, as was the tradition at the time. Most of the blacks shipped to the North American colonies on British ships were captured and sold to the British by religious Muslims who used the payment to go on trips to Mecca. The only way a slave had to escape slavery was to convert to Islam.
Sharia does not recognize nor respect human rights of all people. Under Sharia law non-Muslims must pay tax called Jizya if they want to live safely in Muslim states, otherwise the state refuses to protect them, even though it protects the Muslim citizens. Under Sharia a non-Muslim is worth half that of a Muslim. With the rise of a more vocal fundamentalist jihadist Islamic community, human rights, especially the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (frequently defined as property) has come under increasing attack. Muslim refugees to Sweden are recruiting young Swedish Muslims to fight jihad in the horn of Africa (see [accessed May 24, 2010] http://www.sltrib.com/ci_14259936?source=rss). Most are using state funds for their recruiting activities (article.wn.com/view/2010/01/24/Radical_Somali_Islamists_linked_to_alQaida_recruiting andhttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35046440/ns/world_news-africa/wid/6448213/page/2/) and rape of non-Muslim women is hailed as an "act of war" to "weed out the non-chaste"–those who are found not to be virgins are killed. (cp. http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-04-21/bin-ladens-recruiting-strategy/) The greatest problem is that fanaticism in the name of religion has always caused misery–from popes out on the battle field (e.g. Julius II) to calling for "holy wars" (e.g. Urban II), to Protestant ministers demanding that "the elect" kill those who opposed the leaders "of faith" (as Martin Luther did in his On the Peasant Warand his Address to the German Nobility) in keeping with Pat Robertson's constant declaration that his god want's the USA to fight terrorism as a "winnable war" longed for by Jesus.
Radical religion and its evangelical followers (of all denominations, cults, affirmations, and religions) are now searching actively to bring about The Last of Days (similar to the mindset of Tim and Beverly LeHay), and will lead to a world war found over religion–with Islam army its people daily, and pushing women and small children into suicide squads to "die for Allah" while commanding old people to "confront the enemy" and blow themselves up at train stations, airports, and hotels and resorts where non-Muslims stay (as seen in the tragedy in India when a Pakistani Muslim opened fire in a crowded train station [see:http://www.chinapost.com.tw/asia/india/2010/05/07/255441/Gunman-gets.htm accessed May 24, 2010], and a medical doctor opened fire on his own troops at Fort Hood, Texas [http://abcnews.go.com/WN/fort-hood-shooting-army-doctor-leaves-12-dead/story?id=9007938 accessed May 24, 2010]).
No one is allowed to think without the guidance of the Qur'an or an imam. Muslims — individually and in pressure groups — are using British libel laws and Canadian "human rights" laws to limit what is said about Islam, terrorists and the people in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who are funding groups such as al-Queda. Islam has a definite opposition to free speech, as commanded in the Qur'an. In Islam it is the Creator of human beings Allah سبحانه وتعالى who gave the right of speech to people and defined the limits on what is acceptable and unacceptable speech. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him speak good (khair) or remain silent." In Pakistan, to speak out against Islam or Muhammad or Allah requires the death sentence (Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code). Theo van Gogh an outspoken Dutch film director and columnist was murdered on November 2, 2004 in retaliation for his short-film Submission which was deemed blasphemous due to its depiction of women with Qur'anic verses written on their flesh. He was shot eight times, stabbed with two knives and nearly decapitated in the street. A Muslim cleric Imam Fawaz gave a sermon several weeks before the murder (in reaction to watching the short-film) in which he called Theo Van Gogh a 'criminal bastard' and called on Allah to visit an incurable disease upon him. (Accessed May 24, 2010: Barry Thorne and Claire Cavanagh – "Did imam's sermon incite Van Gogh murder?" radionetherlands.nl, October 31, 2006). Jussi Halla-aho, prominent Finnish writer and elected member of Helsinki City Council, was indicted for incitement against a national group and the disturbance of religious worship for posting an essay addressed to Mika Illman, the Finnish state prosecuting attorney, in response to the Finnish state's prosecution of Seppo Lehto (a well-known racist) in 2008 for posting a blog featuring a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad having sex with a pig. (Accessed May 24, 2010:http://vasarahammer.blogspot.com/2008/06/finnish-blogger-sentenced-for-two-years.html) Today there are countless cartoons on the internet in the USA depicting Barrack Obama in black-face to charging the was born in Kenya, and no one prosecutes those who circulate the libel, as in the USA libel is difficult to prove in a court of law–but the same scenario, but with the ayatollahs in Iran, brought those who drew the cartoons, or distributed them were hanged en masse.
In 2006 Cambridge University press published "Alms for Jihad." It's a highly detailed and apparently well-researched book that documents Saudi funding of terrorist groups (as well as other funding and the network of Islamic "charities" that contribute to terrorism). "Alms for Jihad" — like Ehrenfeld's book — documents bin Mahfouz's funding ties to terrorism, including to Usama bin Laden. But "Alms"– in settlement of a libel suit by bin Mahfouz in the Brit courts — was withdrawn from stores and libraries and unsold copies destroyed. In an effort to protect free speech and the right of people to think for themselves, courts everywhere are caving into radical Islam. The Islamic assault on free speech has become considerably more sophisticated since the death sentence on Salman Rushdie. A court in Jordan is seeking jurisdiction and an Interpol arrest warrant to try the creators of the Danish cartoons. Geert Wilders, the creator of the film Fitna and member of the Dutch Parliament, is being prosecuted by Dutch authorities on hate speech charges. In the USA the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is demanding that Congressional representatives "step down" for not stating that Islam is a peaceful religion, but have cautioned the USA against giving it and its followers legitimacy. This has gone so far as to even infest the UN.
It is not shadowy extremists but representatives of actual governments—nearly 60, in fact— have demanded that Western nations suppress speech that casts Islam in a bad light. UN human rights agencies have endorsed such demands. European nations have sought to accommodate them. For this author, it is difficult to find any "good light" to shine upon the corruption of a corrupt religion and an evil people.