Monday, 29 May 2017

SHARIA LAW: Would you like to live under that law? 

,Sharia law is the religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition.  It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God's immutable divine law and is contrasted with fiqh, which refers to its human scholarly interpretations. The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between Muslim traditionalists and reformists.

The traditional theory of Islamic jurisprudence recognizes four sources of sharia: the Quran, sunnah (authentic hadith), qiyas (analogical reasoning), and ijma (juridical consensus). Different legal schools—of which the most prominent are Hanafi,  Maliki,  Shafi'i,  Hanbali  and  Jafari—have developed methodologies for deriving sharia rulings from scriptural sources using a process known as ijtihad.  Traditional jurisprudence distinguishes two principal branches of law, ʿibādāt (rituals) and muʿāmalāt (social relations), which together comprise a wide range of topics. Its rulings assign actions to one of the five categories which are— mandatory,  recommended,  neutral,  abhorred, and  prohibited. Thus, some areas of sharia overlap with the Western notion of law while others correspond more broadly to living life in accordance with God’s will.

As a legal system, Sharia law is exceptionally broad. While other legal codes regulate public behavior, Sharia law regulates public behavior, private behavior and even private beliefs. Of all legal systems in the world today, Sharia law is the most intrusive and restrictive, especially when it applies to girls and women.

In countries where the Sharia law is the main law, women in those countries are treated less than second class persons. Here are some of their restrictions. 

In the strictest interpretation of that law, women cannot leave their home unless they are accompanied by a male member of their families. If there isn’t an adult male in the house, the mother of her young son, can ask him for permission to leave the home to buy groceries providing that her son accompanies her.  Here are penalties when that law isn’t followed;

• Theft is punishable by amputation of the right hand.

• Criticizing or denying any part of the Quran is punishable by death.

• Criticizing Muhammad or denying that he is a prophet is punishable by death.

• Criticizing or denying existence of Allah is punishable by death.

• A Muslim who becomes a non-Muslim is punishable by death.

• A non-Muslim who leads a Muslim away from Islam is punishable by death.

• A non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman is punishable by death.

• A man can marry an infant girl and consummate the marriage (have sex with her) when she is 9 years old.

• Girls' clitoris should be cut (Muhammad's words, Book 41, Kitab Al-Adab, Hadith 5251).

• A woman can have 1 husband, who can have up to 4 wives. 

• A man can beat his wife for insubordination 

• A man can unilaterally divorce his wife; a woman needs her husband's consent to divorce.

• A divorced wife loses custody of all children over 6 years of age or when they exceed hat number.

• Testimonies of four male witnesses are required to prove rape against a woman.

• A woman who has been raped cannot testify in court against her rapist(s).

• A woman's testimony in court, allowed in property cases, carries ½ the weight of a man's testimony. 

• A female heir inherits half of what a male heir inherits 

• A woman cannot drive a car, as it leads to fitnah (upheaval).

• A woman cannot speak alone to a man who is not her husband or relative.

• Meat to eat must come from animals that have been sacrificed to Allah – .

• Muslims should engage in Taqiyya and lie to non-Muslims to advance Islam.

My question to women is; “Would you like to live in a country that totally adheres to Sharia law?” 

There is a report in existence that shows how the increasing influence of Sharia law in Britain today is undermining the fundamental principle that there must be equality for all British citizens under a single law of the land. Muslim women across Britain are being systematically oppressed, abused and discriminated against by Sharia law courts in the UK that treat women as second-class citizens, according to a new report, which warns against the spiraling proliferation of Islamic tribunals in the United Kingdom. 

The report shows how the increasing influence of Sharia law in Britain today is undermining the fundamental principle that there must be equality for all British citizens under a single law of the land. Unfortunately, the Arbitration Act of 1996 allows parties to resolve certain civil disputes according to Sharia principles in such a way that the decision can be enforced in British courts.

According to the report, many Muslim organizations are using the Arbitration Act to support their claim that they are able to make legally binding decisions for members of the Muslim community, when in fact the law limits their role to that of being a mediator to help reach an agreement. "The mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator who imposes a decision.

The report shows how Sharia courts often fuse the concepts of arbitration, in which both parties agree to submit their dispute to a mutually agreeable third party for a decision to be made, and mediation, in which the two parties voluntarily use a third party to help them reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

On top of this lies the problem of "jurisdiction creep," whereby Sharia courts are adjudicating on matters well outside the arbitration framework, such as by deciding cases relating to criminal law, including those involving domestic violence and grievous bodily harm. That is reserved for civil and criminal courts only. 

As a result, Muslim women, who may lack knowledge of both the English language and their rights under British law, are often pressured by their families to use Sharia courts. These courts often coerce them to sign an agreement to abide by their decisions, which are imposed and viewed as legal judgments.

Worse yet, refusal to settle a dispute in a Sharia forum could lead to threats and intimidation, or being ostracized and labelled a disbeliever. 

There is a particular concern that women face pressure to withdraw allegations of domestic violence after they make them. Several women's groups say they are often reluctant to go to the authorities with women who have run away to escape violence because they cannot trust police officers within the community not to betray the girls to their abusing families.

The report shows that even in cases where Muslim tribunals work "in tandem" with police investigations, abused women often withdraw their complaints to the police, while Sharia judges let the husbands go unpunished.

Meanwhile, most Sharia courts, when dealing with divorce, do so only in a religious sense. They cannot grant civil divorce; they simply grant a religious divorce in accordance with Sharia law.

According to the report, in many cases this is all that is necessary for a "divorce to be pronounced as finalized.  Many Muslim women who identify themselves as being "married" are not in marriages that are legally recognized by British law. Although a nikah (an Islamic wedding ceremony) may have taken place, if the marriage is not officially registered, it is not valid in the eyes of civil law. 

The report states: “This creates a very serious problem because women who are married in Islamic ceremonies but are not officially married under English law can suffer grave disadvantages because they lack legal protection. What is more, they can be unaware that their marriage is not officially recognized by English law."

This places Muslim women in an especially precarious legal situation when it comes to divorce. In Islam, a husband does not have to follow the same process as the wife when seeking a talaq (Islamic divorce). He merely has to say "I divorce you" three times, whereas the wife must meet various conditions and pay a fee. The report cites women, when speaking of their own talaq proceedings, who referred to their lack of legal protection after discovering that their nikah did not constitute a valid marriage under English law in the first place. 

There is an increasing rise in polygamy within Muslim families and again the women who are involved are not in a position to be able to challenge the situation or get any form of justice. They find it difficult to obtain any maintenance as the marriages are not registered legally. Polygamy is used to control first wives who are told that if they are a problem, the man has the Islamic right to take another wife. Sometimes just one of the marriages is registered leaving one wife without any legal protections.

Overall, the report includes excerpts of testimonies of more than a dozen Muslim women who have suffered abuse and injustice at the hands of Sharia courts in Britain. One woman said: "I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from."

The report concluded by calling on the British government to launch a judge-led inquiry to "determine the extent to which discriminatory Sharia law principles are being applied within the UK." It also calls on the government to support Baroness Cox's Private Members' Bill — the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill — which would "create a new criminal offense criminalizing any person who purports to legally adjudicate upon matters which ought to be decided by criminal or family courts."

Baroness Cox originally introduced the bill in 2011, but it went nowhere due to the lack of support from the main parties. She re-introduced the bill in 2013 and 2014, but it continues to languish, apparently because the main parties are afraid of offending Muslims. Cox has vowed to re-introduce the bill in the next session of Parliament, whose members will be elected on May 7, 2015. 

The bill aimed to combat discrimination by, among other restrictions, prohibiting Sharia courts from: (a) treating the evidence of a man as worth more than the evidence of a woman; (b) proceeding on the assumption that the division of an estate between male and female children on intestacy must be unequal; or (c) proceeding on the assumption that a woman has fewer property rights than a man.

The law would also place a duty on public bodies to ensure those women in polygamous households, or those who have had a religious marriage, are made aware of their legal position and relevant legal rights under British law.

The government's response was be a litmus test of the extent to which it genuinely upholds the principle of equality before the law or is so dominated by the fear of 'giving offense' that it will continue to allow these women to suffer in ways which would make the suffragettes turn in their graves.

But it remains to be seen whether the next government would agree to support the bill. British Home Secretary Theresa May pledged that if the Conservative Party wins the general election, she would launch a review into whether Sharia courts in England and Wales are compatible with British values. She later became the prime minister of the UK. Did she keep her promise? 

She kept her word. In her speech in Parliament, she said in part, “In a free society, individuals must be able to organize their affairs according to their own principles, religious or otherwise, but we must not condone situations where rulings are applied which are fundamentally incompatible with the laws,  values,  principles  and  policies  of  our  country.  The suffering of vulnerable women can be exacerbated by the nature of the closed communities in which they may live, where they are subjected to enormous pressure not to seek outside professional help because that is deemed to bring “shame” on the family or the community. In many cases, women have suffered further difficulties because police, civil authorities and professional personnel have been reluctant to take action that might be deemed to give offence to the leaders of these communities—there are many cases of that going on.” unquote

The Bill was passed and now Muslim woman have the same rights that other women in the UK have. If the Muslim men don’t like it, they can always move out of the UK and live in countries where women have no rights. However, they can’t take their children who are under age with them. 

There are many Muslim countries in the world where extremely harsh Sharia laws are enforced. For example, in Banda Aceh, Indonesia (which was the city that was almost destroyed by the waves several years ago) two men, ages 23 and 28 in Indonesia’s Aceh province were publicly caned eighty-three times on their backs in front of hundreds of spectators for performing consensual gay sex. The punishment in which a sharia court had sentenced each man was 85 strokes but was reduced to 83 times after a remission for time spent in prison. Their punishment intensified an anti-gay backlash in the world’s most populous Muslim country and which rights advocates denounced as “medieval torture. Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, a country that is primarily Muslim but the Aceh province is the exception. 

Some versions of Sharia law in some Muslim countries require that married or divorce persons found guilty of Zina (adultery) be executed by stoning. However, many of them don’t punish adulterers that way. 
Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Djibouti, Macedonia, Mozambique, and Turkmenistan have formally abandoned execution as the penalty for all crimes, including adultery and other sex "crimes.  Albania, Bosnia, the Russian Federation, and Turkey still retain the death penalty on the books, but do not perform it in practice. 

Few Muslim countries still sentence people to death by stoning nowadays. "Two people were stoned to death in Iran last year. In Yemen, a man was stoned for raping and killing his daughter in 2000. In Afghanistan, under the Taliban, adulterous couples were often killed together by being stoned. 

There are multiple forms of Sharia laws. For example, the Maliki Law School accepts evidence of pregnancy as proof that an unmarried woman has either committed adultery or has been raped. "The other similar Muslim forms of faith,  namely Shafii, Hanbali, Hanafi and even the Shia do not recognize evidence of pregnancy as proof of Zina (Adultery)

Within Sharia law, there are a group of "Hadd" offenses such as pre-marital sexual intercourse, sex by divorced persons, post-marital sex, adultery, false accusation of unlawful intercourse, drinking alcohol, theft, and highway robbery. Hadd sexual offenses carry a sentence of stoning to death or severe flogging. In a previous article in my blog, I described a graphic account of the death of Soraya M, a woman who was executed by stoning,

If you really want to know more of this unfortunate woman’s death by stoning, go to Google and type in the following; Batchelor stoning of Soraya and the article will appear on your screen. 

In some Muslim countries, the cutting off of a thief’s hand is common. It is done publicly and with a heavy chopping knife. Nothing is given to the victim that will ease the physical pain. 

But does Islam practice justice? Does Islam really promote human rights? It has been long and well documented with quotations and references to the Quran, that the hadith, along with classical legal opinions support Sharia law. The supporting documents also examine the historical and literary context of each Quranic verse. If the readers, especially critics, wish to challenge one or all of these ten reasons, or if they simply doubt them, they should click on the supporting articles. They will see that Muhammad himself actually laid down these excessive punishments and policies. 

It must be pointed out that these harsh laws are not (or should not be) imposed outside of an Islamic court of law. 

Attempts to set up Sharia law in Canada in 2005 were abandoned after many protests. The Jewish community and the Catholic community did not want Muslims introducing Sharia law in Canada, so they accepted the decision to ban all religious arbitration in Ontario, including their own respective tribunals. In May 2005, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously supported a motion to block the use of Sharia law in Quebec courts.

As the number of court cases that involve conflicts between civil law and Sharia law rises in the United States, many American states have introduced bills banning the courts from accommodating Sharia law. Many of those bills have been stalled by the Muslim Brotherhood, which accuse the bills' sponsors and supporters of Islamophobia, campaign against their re-election, and sue in court. A number of States that have or are trying to pass Sharia law-limiting legislation after watering them down in order to not even mention the word, "Sharia” in the legislation.

Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, have largely secular constitutions and laws, with only a few Islamic Law provisions in family law. Turkey has a constitution that is officially strongly secular.  India  and the Philippines have separate Muslim civil laws, wholly based on Sharia. Most countries of the Middle East and North Africa maintain a dual system of secular courts and religious courts, in which the religious courts mainly regulate marriage and inheritance.  Saudi Arabia  and  Iran maintain religious courts for all aspects of jurisprudence. Laws derived from Sharia are also applied in Afghanistan, Libya and Sudan. Sharia law is officially recognized by the justice system in Israel in matters of personal status of Muslims if they choose a Sharia court (e.g. marriage, divorce, guardianship.) Lebanon incorporates Sharia law for Muslims in family matters.

I hope you have found this article informative. 

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