Sharia Courts and European Conception: Norms and Reality
Sharia law is a set of laws, which form the basis of an Islamic society, shaping the civil structure of an Islamic society in terms of political, civil, criminal, economic and domestic matters. It is a set of laws which are devised in light of teachings in Quran and Hadith, apart from various techniques prescribed for a situation if a solution to a particular situation is not given in Quran or Sunnah. These techniques, i.e. fiqh, include Ijmah, Qiyaas, Istisna and Urf etc.
‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who innovates things in our affairs for which there is no valid (reason) (commits sin) and these are to be rejected.
(Sahih Muslim 18:4266)
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah, and whoever obeys the ruler I appoint, obeys me, and whoever disobeys him, disobeys me.
(Sahih Bukhari 9:89:251)
The basic purpose of a Sharia court is to bring justice to any situation, in light of Islamic law and jurisprudence. One of the ongoing debate regarding legalizing Sharia court is its compatibility with secular courts for various topics like women’s rights, human rights, civil issues, freedom of expression and preferences of Hudood punishments etc. In many secular and non-Muslim countries, there is a high rise given to this perception that Muslim sharia court is inflexible in providing justice in such matters. However, if we look deeply into the essence of a sharia court, it is all about providing justice and there is no room for leniency when it comes to providing justice.
Narrated ‘Abdullah: The Prophet said, “A Muslim has to listen to and obey (the order of his ruler) whether he likes it or not, as long as his orders involve not one in disobedience (to Allah), but if an act of disobedience (to Allah) is imposed one should not listen to it or obey it.
(Sahih Bukhari 9:89:258)
Say: “Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? – when He it is Who hath sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.” They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.
Talking especially of European culture, with the rapid rise in Muslim community and their demanding rights for legalizing sharia law, various norms have been attached to Sharia law to be non-compatible to secular set of laws, which vary from country to country. Here one must keep this in mind that Sharia law is not an imposition of laws, but is a set of “guidelines”, which being a Muslim one has to abide by. If he or she violates those laws, he or she is responsible for contaminating society, and thus is subject to punishment.
And this (He commands): Judge thou between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they beguile thee from any of that (teaching) which Allah hath sent down to thee. And if they turn away, be assured that for some of their crime it is Allah’s purpose to punish them. And truly most men are rebellious. Do they then seek after a judgment of (the days of) ignorance? But who, for a people whose faith is assured, can give better judgment than Allah?
“And do not kill a soul that Allah has made sacrosanct,
While analyzing Sharia law and European law, there are many differences which may arise. This is because Islam doesn’t gives concrete rules to follow, rather gives you the open choice to determine and change laws, in accordance with cultural differences and changing times. This is made possible with various guidelines prescribed by Islam as mentioned above(Istisnah, ijmah, qiyaas, etc.). The common norm attached to Sharia law by European culture is its inflexibility. However, the basic essence of Sharia law is modification, which totally negates the so-called European claim.
We have sent down to thee the Book in truth, that thou mightest judge between men, as guided by Allah: so be not (used) as an advocate by those who betray their trust;
Narrated Aisha: Allah’s Apostle said, “If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected.”
(Sahih Bukhari 3:49%
Even though there has been a great uproar after he murder of famous cartoonist Theo Van Gogh, Muslim sharia law and Muslim Sharia court continues to flourish in most of European nations. In Germany, there are separate courts which deal with Muslim community issues, and their issues are resolved in light of Muslim Sharia, even if the judge is a non-Muslim. reports claim there are more than 85 Sharia courts in United Kingdom which have been operating since 1980s.
Nothing in the law of England and Wales prevents people abiding by Sharia principles if they wish, provided their actions do not conflict with English and Welsh law
(Ministry of Justice)
When they are summoned to Allah and His messenger, in order that He may judge between them, behold some of them decline (to come). But if the right is on their side, they come to him with all submission.
In all European countries, Sharia courts act as a volunteer, where anyone (even Non-Muslims) can approach to solve their domestic and civil problems. The problem is that European law structure doesn’t allows cases of political, social and economical scope to be solved in Sharia court even for willing Muslims. However, the case in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Pakistan and other OIC countries is totally different where Sharia Law is a vital part of shaping the country’s constitution.
This post originally appeared Sharia Courts and European Conception: Norms and Reality