Can Sharia (Islamic Law) work in the 21st Century?
Sharia law is no longer an obscure niche in the study of Islam. Today Sharia,
its role in political Islam and its impact on the daily lives of Muslim women
and humanity has made headlines everywhere, almost daily. For example:
** in Canada amid lots of social controversy and resistance, a Sharia court has
formally started working on domestic and business issues with the blessing of
** in Nigeria and Pakistan unmarried girls and widows or divorced women who gets
pregnant even by rape, are flogged or sentenced to death by stoning.
** in Malaysia by court order, a woman got instantly divorced by her husband by
message left in answering machine.
** in Afghanistan women are banned by law from performing on radio or TV even
for news broadcasting.
** in Pakistan hundreds of women are jailed under adultery and blasphemy laws.
** in Bangladesh, women are forced into strangers' beds by Sharia law while
raped minor girls are flogged under Zina (adultery) law.
** in Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Malaysia etc, women are fighting against
oppressive Sharia laws which limit their lives in countless ways. .
One may wonder how these abuses can happen in a world aware of human rights. Are
these really Islamic laws or misapplications of Sharia? This brief essay will
explore and analyze the origins, the development and the impact of Sharia law on
Muslim women. It will end with a call to the West, and to Muslim's themselves,
to realize the magnitude of Sharia's threat to humanity.
Since women's rights under Sharia law is a vast and complicated subject, we will
present it in a simple manner and deal with it in the following sections.
1. WHAT IS SHARIA
What does " Sharia Law" mean? In whatever way we define the word "Law" it
ultimately means the logical application of conscience. The word "Sharia"
literally means "the path on sand created by camels walking to water-spots" but
spiritually it means guidance. Islam initially revolutionized women's rights by
taking the first steps in that desert society by banning female-infanticide,
preventing forcing of women into unwanted marriages, allowing women to retain
their fathers' names after marriage, permitting women to be witnesses (albeit
their testimony counted as half of a man's) and establishing their ownership
rights to property and their income. All of these advances in women's rights
occurred in the Middle East when Europe was in the midst of the Dark Ages.
Sharia laws were created to rule the vast expanding Muslim empire after 200
years of Prophet's death. In the 7-8th century, disciples of four Islamic
jurists codified the laws in their four respective Masters' names according to
their personal understanding of the Qura'an and Prophet's examples. Thus the
term "Fiqh" emerged, which literally means human understanding. Their
codification is divided in two sections: Hudud and Ta'zir. The word Hudud comes
from Hadd, which means limit. The Hudud laws are mostly penal and include
stoning to death or cutting hands of thieves. These are considered beyond human
authority to change. As Mawdudi, the father of modern Political Islam notes:
"Where an explicit command of God or His Prophet already exists, no Muslim
leader or legislature, or any religious scholar can form an independent judgment
not even all the Muslims of the world put together, have any right to make least
alteration to it".
Source: Islamic Law and Constitution - Maolana Mawdudi.
Believing so is regarded as alliance to Islam itself. All books on Sharia law
univocally maintain this dictum.
Yet Sharia is not merely a codification of laws. It is the main pillar of
Islamic theocracy. To its followers it is God's divine command to establish a
global Islamic State in order to apply Sharia. In that sense, Sharia is the
constitution of the institution of Political Islam, which is defined by its
founding father, Maolana Mawdudi (1903-1971) as: -
"Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere in the face of the
earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam?.. If the Muslim
Party commands adequate resources it will eliminate un-Islamic governments and
establish the power of Islamic governments in their stead." -
Source: Jihad In Islam--Maolana Mawdudi.
This may be taken as an informal declaration of war against all the world's
non-Muslims to establish a global Islamic theocracy by defeating secular
democracy. Mawdudi was the first person to fuse the century-old philosophy of
Political Islam with modern democracy in 1941. Sixty-three years later his voice
resonates today throughout the world including major European cities with the
promise of a "Clash of Civilizations".
Modern Jihadis remain inspired by Mawdudi's call. Consider this recent internet
"They (European Muslims) swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his goal of
toppling Western democracies to establish an Islamic superstate under Shariah
law, like Afghanistan under the Taliban".
Source: Bangladesher Dak "European Muslims Call For Jihad". Posted by: News
Monitors on Apr 27, 2004.
Recent West proved to be the champion of naivety in human history not to realize
the depth, height and magnitude of this threat. It is important, however, to
note that Muslims have always debated furiously among themselves over the
divinity of Sharia that never enjoyed total support of world Muslims or Islamic
scholars. Even the word "Fiqh", Islamic Jurisprudence, literally means human
understanding, far from divine gift of Law. The struggle is still ongoing to
decide if Islam is about guidance or governance (Ma'arefat and Shariy'at).
However, Sharia today is being used as a tool of political governance.
2. EXAMPLES OF SOME SHARIA LAWS.
Modern laws are based on human rights. Sharia however is based on perceived
duties to God. In Sharia there is hardly any distinction between crime and sin.
Social obligations are fused and confused with worship of the Creator. Political
Islam, the main torchbearer of Sharia, was born out of a misleading conviction
of the political dimensions of Muslim-empire with Islamic faith system. It
integrated political events of Muslims with Islam itself. It is important to
note that in the ongoing debates on Sharia in numerous articles books and
interviews, Political Islamists make only sweeping comments. Quoting the actual
Sharia laws are carefully avoided. As examples are better than explanations,
here are a few laws on women's rights and human rights from Islamic world's most
authentic sources namely: - (A) Umdat Al Salik, Imam Shafi'i, one of Islam's
four foremost Jurists in 7th century. (B) Hedaya of Imam Abu Hanifa, one of
Islam's four foremost Jurists in 7th century. (C) Text of Pakistan's Hudood Law.
(D) Penal Law of Islam (E) Sharia the Islamic Law - Dr. Abdur Rahman Doi and (F)
Islamic Laws - Ayatollah Seestani.
1. A Muslim cannot be put to death for the murder of an unbeliever. (According
to clause #14 of Prophet's Medina-Charter, proudly claimed by Sharia-proponents
as "The First Written Constitution in the World".
2. A Muslim man is allowed to beat his wife or wives. - Qura'anic dictum.
3. A Muslim man is allowed to have four wives at one time. - Qura'anic dictum
4. A Muslim man can divorce his wife or wives instantaneously. Then he can marry
a new set of wives and continue the cycle. - Corollary of Qura'anic dictum.
5. A Muslim woman must pay money to the husband by court orders to have the
marriage dissolved. - Faulty human development on Qura'anic dictum..
6. If a divorced couple wants to remarry each other, the wife must marry another
person, must have complete sex with him and must be divorced by him willingly. -
7. The evidence required in a case of adultery is that of four Muslim adult men
- Faulty human development on Qura'anic dictum.
8. Women's testimony is not accepted in cases of adultery or in any capital
offence. - Faulty human development.
9. Evidence of a female singer and slave (male or female) is not admissible. -
Faulty human development.
10. Testimony of a non-Muslim that has been punished for false accusation is
inadmissible. If s/he later becomes a Muslim, her/his evidence is then
admissible. -Faulty human development.
11. The Judge of the Court shall be a Muslim. The Judge may be a non-Muslim only
if the accused is a non-Muslim. -Faulty human development.
12. Adoption is not allowed in Sharia. - Faulty human development on Qura'anic
13. Custody of children goes to mother as long as
the kids need care, normally 9 years for boys and 7 for girls, after which the
father takes over. But if the mother does not pray or gets married, the kids
immediately go to the father. - Faulty human development.
14. Women inherit half of men. - Faulty human development on Qura'anic dictum..
15. Women's witness is half of men's in business transactions. - Faulty human
development on Qura'anic dictum..
16. If a woman is killed, the blood money (the money a killer has to pay to the
family of the killed on demand to get acquitted) is half of that of a Muslim
man. - Faulty human development on Qura'anic dictum.
17. Apostates (Muslims who leave Islam) automatically get death penalty. If not
available for killing, their marriage is dissolved and they cannot inherit from
Muslim parents or children. - Faulty human development on Qura'anic dictum.
18. Muslim men can marry Christian and Jews women but Muslim women can marry
only a Muslim man. - Faulty human development on Qura'anic dictum.
19. A Muslim virgin cannot marry without permission of her male guardian.-
Faulty human development on Qura'anic dictum.
20. A man can marry a woman for a fixed time, from few hours to several years
(Mu'ta Marriage, - Sharia of Shia sect.). Rich men from the Middle East travel
to Southern India to take advantage of this law on financially poor women, so do
rich Iranian men on their women. The misery of those women and children born out
of this practice are beyond comprehension. - Faulty human development.
Although full with pro-women advices, it is difficult to find pro-women laws in
Sharia. There is no punishment for violating the pro-women advices either. So,
in case of conflict of interest, law overrules advice. In that sense it
perfectly represent strong patriarchy. Obviously, what Dr. Hisham Kamali, one of
strongest authorities on Sharia suggested in his voluminous "Principles of
Islamic Jurisprudence" has never been taken care of, quote- "I have consequently
commented on the nature of the challenge that Muslim scholars and jurists must
take up if the methodology of Usul-al-Fiqh and Ijtihad are to be revitalized and
integrated into the process of law and government in modern times".
It is strange that without taking the burden of the challenge Political Islam
acts a copycat of the past and tries to impose Sharia without updating. Once
updated, Sharia might be very similar to existing laws of secular democratic
countries. Muslims are not alone regarding objection to few laws such as
same-sex marriage or abortion; some non-Muslims share the same vision. It is
indeed surprising that Political Islamists remain vague about explaining how to
integrate "Islamic teaching" in universal legal matters. They never point out
which Western Law is against Islamic teaching and why. Dr. Hisham Kamali showed
the serious and huge work done in 7-8th centuries to build Islamic
Jurisprudence. But at the end it does not meet justice to humanity in general
and women rights in particular. It is like the huge fifty thousand pages
research-paper of a medicine that has serious and malignant side effects.
3. TWO MAJOR ROOTS OF SHARIA LAW.
The Qura'an and the Prophet's sayings are two of the most important sources of
Sharia. Though Sharia violates the Qura'an in many of its major laws, (see -
Violation of the Qura'an) it is undeniable that some Qura'anic verses, such as
on wife beating, slave sleeping, women's inheritance and witness etc are
unacceptable to today's concept of human rights. On the other hand, we should
acknowledge that Islam began by establishing some revolutionary progress on
women rights. Those were only the first steps to set the direction, Muslims were
supposed to take it further towards women's complete equity. That has never
happened. It may be noted that particular interpretations of the Qura'anic
verses in law making were never univocal among Muslims. Different versions of
Sharia were creates by individuals personally, not by public opinion or by
institution. So, with a different interpretation of a different individual, laws
have become different. Different Islamic scholars always interpreted verses of
wife-beating, slave sleeping, women's half inheritance or witness etc,
differently. But political Islam takes the codified Sharia as infallible.
Regarding the role of the Prophet Mohammed, suffice it to say that Abu Bakar and
Omar, Prophet's two closest companions burnt their records of Prophet's sayings
for fear of getting mixed up with the Qura'an (Shortened Encyclopaedia of Islam
- from "Sangskar" - Jamilul Basher). Yet within two centuries of his death,
hundreds of thousands, even a million "recorded examples" were established. The
reason was probably to protect the Kings' vested interests or to validate their
crimes in the Prophet's name. A few of the Prophet's sayings relating to women
are quoted here mainly from "Women's Exegesis in Islam" - Abul Kasem. (A
compilation about women-related "Prophet's examples" from most authentic Islamic
(A) Women would have been commanded to prostrate before their husbands, had
anyone be commanded to make prostration before another. -Sunaan Abu Dawud
11.2135, & Ehya Ulum Al Deen - Imam Gazzali Vol 2.
(B) If the body of the husband from head to toe would be full with pus and the
wife would eat that by licking, still her gratitude (to him) would not be
fulfilled - Ehya Ulum Al Deen - Imam Gazzali Vol 2.
(C) Majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire are women. -Sahi Bukhari 1.6.301.
(D) If a dog, a donkey or a woman pass in front of the praying people, Prayer is
annulled. - Sahi Bukhari 1.9.490.
(E) Evil omen is in the women, the house and the horse. -Sahi Bukhari; 7.62.30.
(F) Women are more harmful to men than anything else. - Shahih Muslim 36.6603.
(G) The house, the wife and the horse are bad luck. - Shahih Muslim 26.5523.
(H) A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife. - Sunaan Abu Dawud
(I) "The essence of marriage is slavery. After marriage the wife enters slavery
of the husband". - Imam Gazzali - Ehya Ulum Al Deen Vol 2.
(J) People ruled by a woman will never be successful. - Sahi Bukhari 5.59.709.
(K) Nothing is more harmful to men than women. - Shahih Bukhari 7.62.33.
(L) "The devil says to women: ?You are half my army". - Imam Gazzali Ehya Ulum
Al Deen - Vol. II, p367.
(M) Because of Eve women are unfaithful towards their husbands. - Shahih Muslim
This is how our Prophet is misused by countless similar examples recorded in
core Islamic scriptures. In secondary or tertiary so-called Islamic sources,
extremely objectionable words are mentioned in his name. Example: -. "If a woman
offered one of her breasts to be cooked and the other to be roasted, she still
will fall short of fulfilling her obligations to her husband. And besides that
if she disobeys her husband even for a twinkling of an eye, she would be thrown
in the lowest part of Hell, except she repents and turns back." - Tuffaha, Ahmad
Zaky, Al-Mar'ah wal- Islam, Dar al-Kitab al-Lubnani, Beirut, first edition,
1985, p. 176. It is also quoted in Al-Musanaf by Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn 'Abd Allah
Ibn Mousa Al-Kanadi who lived 557H, vol. 1 part 2, p. 255. (Original reference
is not checked).
These documents continue to embarrass good Muslims. No good law can be made
based on such examples. That is why Dr. Hashmi says, - "Sharia was destined to
be corrupt because it is made out of a corrupt element called Prophet's
examples". The vast Muslim population is illiterate and mentally weak, their
Islam is whatever their clergy says. They cannot even think outside the clergy's
There are a few other sources of Sharia, reflecting the patriarchy prevailing at
that time. The concept of women's rights did not develop in the Muslim empire
mainly because Muslims have a tendency to detach themselves from others. As Dr.
Maimul Ahsan Khan very eloquently said: -
"Surprisingly enough, the Muslim rulers, politicians, intellectuals, and
religious personalities overlooked the entire ongoing process of constitutional
and legal developments in the Western countries". -
Source: Human Rights in the Muslim World: Fundamentalism, Constitutionalism and
This attitude of staying aloof is reflected in every recent important
development of human civilization. When the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and International Law was constructed, instead of proposing modifications
to it, Muslim clergy were quick to formulate an alternate Islamic Declaration of
Human Rights and Islamic International Law. With better cooperation from
Muslims, as important members of humankind, human progress could be easier and
4. WOMENS' RIGHTS UNDER SHARIA IN THE PAST.
The picture of the past is not bright, disproving Political Islam's claim that
since Sharia protected women's' rights in the past, it can do so now and in the
future. The records of past centuries from "Shikayat Defterleri" (Petitionery
Records) of the Turkish Basbakanlik Archives show that women suffered historic
injustices in Sharia courts.
Muslim men, then as now, could divorce their wives instantaneously but Muslim
women had to go through the Sharia court's lengthy process and had to pay money
to their husbands (give up the bride-money which she was supposed to get from
the husband plus some more) to get an unhappy marriage dissolved by court order.
Then came other issues concerning money, namely the alimony for divorced wives
and maintenance-money (Nafaka) for their children. Alimony was given only for
three months. The husband was to pay the rest of the bride-money (Mehr) only if
he himself had initiated the divorce, but not if the wife initiated it. So the
inevitable used to happen in past Sharia courts. Husbands used to force their
wives to initiate divorce. Moreover, judges were complicit in the charade
because they accepted bribes, obviously from the husbands. The examples below
from "Women, the Family, and Divorce Laws in Islamic History" by Amira El Azhary
Sonbol quote from actual Sicil documents:
1. In Istanbul in July 1702, Ahmet forced his wife Halime Hatun to initiate the
divorce so that he didn't have to pay the Mehr. (Sikayet Defterleri 35:1483).
2. "It was usual for a wife to give up any material compensation due her from
her husband, including the delayed dowry and the usual allowance for herself and
3. Thus, when Hava Hatun divorced her husband in 1783 she had to abandon the
allowance and the remaining dowry.
4. "Sometimes a mother undertook to provide for her children herself, liberating
the husband from the responsibility".
This shows how desperate the wives were to get a divorce from torturous
husbands. It is painful to observe that instead of addressing the injustice of
women, Sharia courts instead facilitated the injustice by including a new
paragraph recording the wives' agreement to abandon their legal rights.
The often forgotten fact is that women's' rights are intimately related with
children's' rights. Sharia shows a poor understanding of children's' rights,
probably because the conception is relatively recent. Elders can get children
married. Even minor girls can be married to elderly men.
Here it may not be irrelevant to compare Sharia with some pre-Islamic laws
regarding women's rights. The Assyrian (1700 - 2400 years before Sharia) and
Babylonian (Hammurabi laws - 2700 years before Sharia) laws seem to be more just
to women- "History of Assyria"- By Olmstead and "Laws from Mesopotamia and Asia
Minor" -By Driver and Miles. Source: - Women and the Koran - Anwar Hekmat. We
have seen that a Muslim husband had and still has absolute authority to divorce
his wife or wives instantaneously, though the wives do not have corresponding
rights. The Babylonian law said:
"If a man's wife becomes crippled (or afflicted with an incurable disease) and
he decided to marry another woman, he may do so but cannot divorce the first
wife who shall continue to live with him in the same house and to be cared for
the rest of her life".
In a second case, if a man abandons his wife and disappears, in Sharia the wife
has to wait at least four years to remarry. In Assyrian law the time limit is
two years. The older Babylonian law is even more rational: -
"If a man has deserted his city and fled, and his wife thereafter entered the
house of another; if the man has returned and wants to take back his wife, the
wife of the fugitive may not return to her husband".
5. WOMEN-RIGHTS UNDER SHARIA TODAY.
SHARIA-POLICE BEATING MUSLIM WOMEN.
Use permitted by Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan -
It is important to note that all criticisms of Islam and its defense mainly
rotate around Sharia's approach to women rights. On the light of the laws shown
above, added to strongly anti-women cultural aspects, one can easily imagine
women's condition in Muslim majority countries. The following examples of the
Muslim world should be of concern to any person with conscience. The examples
are not rare or isolated but epidemic in some countries.
As Sharia needs four male adult Muslim eyewitnesses to prove prohibited sex
(Zina), and as Sharia regards rape in prohibited sex (Tex of Pakistan's Hudood
Law), there are many reports of flogging raped girls, even minors, for want of
such requisite evidence. The raped girls and women either report the rape to
police or get pregnant. Sharia court regards these as "proofs" of having
prohibited sex. For widows and divorced women the punishment of getting pregnant
is stoning to death- (Maliki Sharia), if there are no such eyewitnesses to prove
Often on different pretexts, informal "instant" Sharia courts in villages decree
different types of punishments including the marriages of the victims dissolved.
In one such case the wife "Nurjahan" was buried up to her waist and stoned 101
times; her husband was also stoned 101 times. Her parents were forced to flog
each other 50 times. Nurjahan committed suicide immediately. To marry her former
husband, a divorced wife must marry another person, have complete sex with him
and get divorced by the new husband. This may be considered as forced
prostitution. These cases are epidemically common in Bangladesh. The government
helplessly observes, as does the entire nation.
Further evidence of sharia law's injustices towards women abound. A Dubai Court
in 1998 ruled that a husband has the right to beat his wife "in order to
discipline her" provided that the beating is not so severe as to damage her
bones or deform her body. The Noble-laureate, Shirin Ebadi, is pleading a case
in Iran where three men were accused of raping a girl, Leila Fathi. One of them
committed suicide in prison; the other two were tried and found guilty. However,
since a female's life is worth half that of a man's life in Sharia, Fahti's
family was required to come up with $18,000 dollars to pay the "blood money" for
the execution of their daughter's killers. Leila's elderly father, a day
laborer, and her disabled brother sold their house and tried to sell their
kidneys to raise the execution money and had moved into a tent outside the local
Pakistani women are denied medical care under the pretext of sharia law. In
order "to uphold the supreme values of Islam", the government of the
fundamentalist six-party alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), has decided to
ban male doctors and medical technicians from conducting these examinations on
female patients. "They could derive sexual pleasure from women's bodies" while
doing so, explained Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, general secretary of the MMA of
NWFP. "Similarly, some women could lure men under the pretext of ECG and
ultrasound." There is only one female ECG technician in the province and not a
single female ultrasound specialist.
While rape and sexual violence against women is rampant in Pakistan, a Hudood
law-- the so-called Zina Ordinance-- exposes women to arrest and trials, if they
fail to meet evidentiary standards or to win a conviction in rape cases. Rape
victim Zafran Bibi was sentenced to death by this law. Says Dr Farzana Bari,
Acting Director, Centre for Women's Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad,
- "The law is extremely unjust and gender biased. It equates rape with adultery
and extends the requirement of four adult Muslim male witnesses to prove
adultery to the cases of rape as well. This means in practice that the law
protects rapists. Also, it excludes the testimony of women and minorities in
awarding Hudood punishment". In the Malaysian province of Gombak Timur Syariah,
Judge Mohamad Fauzi Ismail had ruled that an 18-month marriage was over because
the husband Shamsudin, sent his wife, Azida Fazlina, an SMS (Short Message
System - sticky note or in the answering machine) stating, "If you do not leave
your parents' house, you would be divorced". It may be noted that Sharia allows
a Muslim husband to divorce his wife instantly by utterance, by body language or
simply by a short-note.
Here is another heartbreaking example. Yearly at least two million girls in
North Africa are circumcised in the name of Sharia. Though the word
"circumcisation" is mentioned in Sharia for males and females, and though all
Muslim men are necessarily circumcised, for women the law is stretched to
cutting their clitoris off - (Cover story, Reader's Digest August 1999). While
all enlightened Muslims know that the practice is not Islamic, their united
effort from all over the world could uproot this evil. Yet no Muslim
organization has effectively worked to stop this serious violation of women's
rights. Only the UN World Health Organization has launched a movement against
It is important to re-emphasize that mostly due to the violations of women's
rights, a large number of world-Muslims and Islamic scholars consider Sharia as
the antithesis of Islam. Dr. Sachedina, one of world's finest Islamic scholars
says, - "It is undeniable that Sharia is anti-women". As mentioned before, Dr.
Taj Hashmi, professor of Islamic history says, "Sharia was destined to be
corrupt because it is made of a corrupt element called Prophet's Examples". Dr.
Abdulla An Nai'm, one of the foremost Islamic reformers says, "Current
International Law, including the human rights standards established there under,
cannot co-exist with corresponding principles of Sharia".
Still, millions of Muslims, including many women, support Sharia. Their firm
belief that Sharia is indeed God's law stems from their teachings since
childhood. They were taught to believe that humankind will never be able to
create just laws. Thus God gifted Sharia to humans to apply to the whole planet
so that all evil would be completely and permanently uprooted. A believer
creates a rationale in her/his mind that the real examples of injustice to women
are misapplications of Sharia by ignorant mullahs. But then, there has never
been an effort in the Muslim world to take the authority to apply Sharia out of
mullahs' hands. A study shows that all applications comply with the laws more or
less. It is extremely important to note that women's voices, their involvement
or contribution, is not found in the developmental process and codification of
Sharia laws throughout Muslim history. Today, women's lives under Sharia is
constantly monitored and reported by a dedicated organization, Committee to
Defend Women's Rights in the Middle East and they are owed a debt of gratitude.
6. SHARIA'S PENETRATION IN THE WEST
This is something that everybody knows in details. Recently, it has been
observed that Sharia-based institutions have secretly penetrated enlightened and
tolerant Western societies in different forms. Their only objective is to topple
secular governments and establish Islamic states in Britain, France, Germany,
Canada, etc. Such is the danger of religious blindness in the name of religious
tolerance. Hundreds of such Sharia-oriented organizations are listed. They claim
Sharia as world-Muslim's common heritage. But a big part of world-Muslims (in
Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Russia, Europe etc, Pakistan until recently) never
lived under sharia. Similar is the case of Indian history - Richard Eaton 1993.
Also, Sharia never enjoyed support of all Muslims. Examples below demonstrate
that even the world's most civilized countries in their own lands, under their
own laws, are unable to protect some of their Muslim women from Sharia. These
all are reported in the world's well-known newspapers.
1. Taking advantage of a loophole of Canadian laws, a formal Sharia court has
been established in Canada. This has made a serious dent on the notion of
separation between religion and state. Moreover, the Sharia courts of the Muslim
empire were free to the public, but this modern Sharia court has imposed fees
violating Qura'anic Chapter 2 verses 41, 79 etc.
2. Cases of abuse of women through the application of Sharia law in England are
well known. The British government either doesn't know or care.
3. A Spanish court sentenced a Muslim leader to 15 months in prison for writing
a book advising husbands how to beat their wives without leaving bruises.
4. In 2004 France expelled an Algerian-born Muslim prayer leader for defending
the stoning and beating of adulterous wives as acceptable in Islam, even though
illegal under French law, the Interior Ministry said.
5. A speech by Aly Hindy, an Imam at the Salaheddin Islamic Centre in Toronto,
was broadcast in TVO-TV, STUDIO 2, on Friday 23rd 2004. Hindy said repeatedly
that there were cases of polygamy in Toronto, which he approves. He also
repeatedly said that in the case of inheritance, a son gets twice what a
daughter gets, and that if the daughter objected, she would be going against
God. Needless to say that Canadians do not notice this dangerous trend in their
Much of humankind's future depends on how the West deals with these violations
of human rights in their own lands. Until now the West has appeared to be naﶥ
about this. They
seem not to understand that Political Islamists believe that, since it is their
God's order to them, they will not end from such violations. History proves that
religion, when mixed with politics, is bound to violate human rights. Religious
fanatics never listen to calls for humanity, logic and conscience.
Church-governments in Europe had to be uprooted by mass-movements. In India,
burning of widows alive with their dead husbands had to be stopped by passing a
law, not by sermons about human rights. Ultimately the force of law is needed to
neutralize religious fervor.
It would be a mistake to think that Muslim women suffer only in the countries
where Sharia is the formal law of the country. In the past as well as the
present countless Muslim women, anywhere on the planet, inherited half of what
their brothers received, lived under the possibility that their husbands could
beat them, or divorce them instantaneously (nobody could stop it), or marry
other women (they do not need any permission from anybody), or deny them equal
custody of their children or the right to be equal witnesses in criminal cases
and business transactions.
Even today Muslim women are divided about Sharia. Until recently, most Muslim
women were convinced that Sharia indeed is God's law and God's blessing is in
obeying Sharia's torture silently. But more and more women are becoming aware of
their rights and of Sharia's violation of the Qura'an. Many of them have started
rejecting Sharia and Political Islam. A few rebels are also seen in the society
in the form of "apostates" who do not speak out for fear of social and familial
7. SHARIA - VIOLATION OF THE QURA'AN
The next question is, can such a legal system be a part of any divine religion?
Is Sharia really Islamic, or sold to unsuspecting world Muslims as Allah's Law
either by misguidance or to protect vested interests?
Any law is basically imposed on people. The state imposes its laws on people and
people are bound to obey those laws. In that sense Political Islam is nothing
but an imposition of its unique brand of Islam on people through the application
of Sharia. But any kind of religious imposition is a clear violation of the
Qura'anic spirit. Even compensation for establishing Islam is clearly prohibited
by the Qura'an in many places. (See footnote).
Each of Islam's five pillars (declaration of belief, prayer, fasting, Islamic
tax and Hajj the pilgrim to Mecca once in life) is essentially non-political.
Had governance by a Sharia-based Islamic state been so important in Islam, we
would have expected clear instruction in the Qura'an and the Prophet to say so.
But there is no such document. The Prophet never instructed this even in his
last sermon during the last Hajj or in his last three instructions from his
Now let us look into a few specific Sharia laws to evaluate how they violate
corresponding Qura'anic verses.
1. Law of stoning to death for committing prohibited sex violates Chapters Noor,
verses 2 &3, Nisa 15, 16 and 25. The Qura'an does not prescribe the death
sentence, but accepts repentance for such acts.
Footnote: - The very concept of Sharia as a tool of governance violates the
Qura'an in Chapters Ahkwaf -9, Ahzab-45 & 48, Anam -48, 52, 66, 69 & 107, Araf
-61, 62, 67, 68, 79 & 93, 188, Bakara 272, Gashiyah -21 & 22, Kwahf - 29 & 56,
and Mayedah -92 & 99, Nisa 165, Kwaf 45, Yunus -108, As-Shura 48, Ra'ad 40 etc.
In these verses, the Qura'an clearly declares that the only responsibility of
Prophets was not to govern, but only to deliver God's message. Even the word
"Poygamber" (Prophet) comes from the word "Poygam" (Message). Examples- "I send
messengers only to deliver message", "Prophets' task is only to deliver", "Duty
of My Prophets is nothing but to deliver the message", "You are not their
administrator, you are only a messenger", "Do you want to force them?" etc.
2. Law of rejecting women's eyewitness in Hudood cases violates Chapter Noor 4,
11-20. Sahi Bukhari Vol-5, Hadith # 462, confirms this violation.
The Polygamy law violates Chapter Nisa verses 3, 4 and 127. Sahi Bukhari Hadith
# 2428, 2472 and 2473 confirm this violation. Polygamy is only admissible in
case of orphans, and still restricted by behaviour-codes.
3. Law of killing apostates violates Chapter Bakara 256, Tawbah 66, 68, Imran
86, 88, Nahl 106 etc.
4. Law of instant divorce by Muslim husbands violates many Qura'anic verses.
5. Law of requirement of four adult male Muslim eyewitnesses to prove rape is a
clear violation of common sense and Qura'anic use of the word "Sharia" as
6. Law of forcing divorced women to marry a stranger, have sex with him and get
divorced from him to remarry her former husband is nothing but forced
It is important for Muslims to note that even Caliph Omar (one of Prophet's
foremost companions) realized the contextual characteristics of the Qura'anic
verses and Prophet's examples. That is why he stopped observing few examples of
the Prophet and also did not cut hands of a thief during famine although the
Qura'an asks for that. In Pakistan and Nigeria the Supreme Courts overturned the
death sentences of Zafran Bibi and Amina Lawal Kurami given in two lower Sharia
courts. These examples show that it is not only possible but also desirable to
apply conscience in the court instead of blindly copying the past. Sharia is
indeed man-made law because more than six thousand laws (In Imam Shafi'i's and
Imam Abu Hanifa's books) cannot be made based on only few Qura'anic verses
relating legal instruction, which are indeed contextual. As other sources of
Sharia are not divine, those cannot contribute to so called "Allah's Law".
8. CONCLUSION: What kind of religion is Islam.
If Islam's ultimate message is anti-women, it could have easily continued with
the oppression on women prevailing in the Prophet's time. But Islam made
unprecedented revolutions in favor of women's rights by banning
girl-infanticide, allowing women to retain their father's names after marriage,
setting the system of bride-money, acknowledging their witness and inheritance
(even if half of men's), accepting their ownership on properties and earnings,
banning forced marriage, restricting the number of wives, praising them high,
On the other hand, if Islam support ?s women's rights, why did it allow
polygamy, wife beating, sleeping with slaves, women's half inheritance and half
witness in business transactions etc? To counter these allegations, Islamic
leaders have always pretended that the negative verses and examples never
existed. They only quoted the positive Qura'anic verses and the Prophet's
examples. This strategy proved suicidal to Muslims in the long run.
We can look at this conflict from another angle. Violation of women's rights is
an eternal social disease. Islam's Prophet accomplished the miracle of
establishing women's rights overnight. But we must walk a thin line here. His
extraordinary vision and foresight knew well that his population did not have
slightest idea of women's rights. Without developing the concept of human
rights, rapid application of male-female equity was certain to enormously
confuse the whole population. Thus we find him taking the very first steps very
slowly, steadily and cautiously towards developing concepts of: - (1) human and
women rights, and (2) individual responsibility and accountability overriding
century-old tribal concepts of "My tribesmen, right or wrong".
In other words, not to establish women rights magically overnight but to develop
its concept in people's minds was his foremost challenge. The process is slow by
nature. But once that was done, male-female equity was to follow automatically.
This is what eventually happened in the West. He sowed the seed and showed the
direction quite well, given the extremely stressful life he lived. It was Muslim
leaders who were supposed to take the next steps to achieve total equity and
fairness between men and women.
Sadly, that never happened. The beginning of women's right was taken as the
final destination. A dangerous culture of sacrificing women's rights to save
scriptural letters settled in Muslim societies. A terrible and successful
brainwashing went on, unresisted for many centuries, to sell Sharia as Allah's
Law to unsuspecting world-Muslims, so much so that today many Muslim women are
found to support Sharia. Observance of man-made Sharia virtually became Islam
itself by replacing the Qura'anic spirit.
Women's rights under Sharia are intimately related to the rise and fall of
Political Islam, which recently succeeded in assuming Islam's virtual ownership.
It has been successful in posing as the only option for world-Muslims to "save"
Islam and Muslims from Western aggression. Its popularity among Muslims has
reached an all time high. Throughout the Muslim world, enlightened civil society
has become helplessly mortgaged to Political Islam. It is efficiently furthering
its agenda of establishing Sharia-based Islamic states under that smokescreen of
resisting the unjust Western aggression in the Middle East.
The main reason for the violation of women's rights by Sharia seems to be the
confusion between the normative and contextual verses of the Qura'an. A few
incidents took place in a society 1400 years ago, Qura'anic verses addressed
those, and the Prophet made decisions. In the shape of Sharia those verses and
decisions have become a burden placed on world-Muslims' shoulders to carry
forever. But there is no evidence of the Prophet instructing his followers to
use those incidents in law making. That is why the famous Maolana Chirag Ali
said: - "There is not a single Qura'anic verse which can serve as the base of an
eternal state-law". That is why Dr. Sachedina says: - "No human institutions can
claim to represent God's interest on earth". Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer said so
eloquently, - "The doctrine that religion and politics cannot be separated in
Islam is a later historical construct rather than the Qur'anic doctrine. It is a
human construct rather than a divine revelation." Probably the most important
comment was made by Fazlur Rahman, -"The difficulty before the real secularist
(in the Muslim world) is to have to prove the impossible, namely that Muhammad,
when he acted as a lawgiver or political leader, acted extra-religiously and
These statements are Islam's most important cornerstones. Imposition and
governance is no religion. The Qura'an declares that in clear words, again and
Pascal rightly said, "Man never committed cruelty so completely and so
cheerfully as he did in the name of religion". This has been happening on each
Muslim woman for too long, defying the truth that no community can prosper
keeping half of its population crippled. Today no other community tortures its
own women in such huge number, so cruelly, as we Muslims do in Allah's name. In
the present world with so many religions around, rejecting theocracy is not a
choice but a must for establishing religious harmony on our planet. The sooner
world-Muslims realize this, the better it will be for themselves and humankind.
SHARIA - A DANGEROUS TOOL.
POLITICAL ISLAM - A DANGEROUS MISSION
MILLIONS OF DREAMERS, BILLIONS OF VICTIMS. IT MUST BE STOPPED.