What is sharia law?

SHARIA law has been in the headlines for the past few months, with Islamic State fighters expanding their territory in Syria, anti-terror raids in Sydney and Brisbane, and Jacqui Lambie’s calls for the burka to be banned.

Even the term ‘sharia’ can conjure fear, with many considering it a threat, and others convinced there is a plot to overthrow the Australian constitution to replace it with the Islamic code of law.

Clearly many have a problem with sharia – so what exactly does it involve? What does it really say about crime and punishment? Is it oppressive to women?

Here’s one view.


AND seemingly a misunderstanding of what Sharia law means.


47 thoughts on “What is sharia law?

    • davinci,
      Are you really saying that the Old Testament gave people the choice of whom they should serve???

      Gee, the way the Decalogue is worded, people dont seem to be given any choice. The wrong choice tends in the old law to bring about execution by stoning.


      • davinci,
        Are you simply saying there, that the Jewish Scripture gives everyone a free choice about whom they should serve? But if they pick the wrong choice they suffer for it, as per disobeying the major Commandments, and then getting executed?

        If that’s what you are saying, then that is no different from what I’m saying. How about making it plain what you mean. If on the other hand, it offers a free choice OF WHOM TO SERVE, with no community punishment for the wrong one, then how do you explain all the stuff that orders death for the wrong choice?


      • “Are you simply saying there, that the Jewish Scripture gives everyone a free choice about whom they should serve? But if they pick the wrong choice they suffer for it, as per disobeying the major Commandments, and then getting executed?”

        Yep that is exactly what I am saying. There is what Stephen Covey calls the Rule of the Harvest in his book 7 Habits of highly effective people. In other words you reap what you sow.

        But just to show you the scriptures that you have missed:
        – Genesis – the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. God gave them the choice of eating or not eating the forbidden fruit, but then He warned them of the consequences of exercising their freedom of choice.
        – Deuteronomy 13:19 Moses puts before the Israelites the choice of Blessings or Curses, indicating that they had the freedom of choice to choose one or the other; but they must deal with the consequences afterwards.
        – Joshua 24:15 Joshua puts the choice of serving God or not before Israel. But then he draws their attention to the fact that failure to serve God hasn’t worked for those in whose land they now dwelled.
        – Ecclesiates 11:9 Solomon draws young people’s attention that they have the freedom of choice of living as they please but then they would have to suffer the consequences of their choice when God will bring them into judgement.

        There is a view among many unbelievers that freedom of choice must involve no responsibility for the consequences of their actions. But this is totally unreasonable. Should I decide to exercise my freedom of choice and go on a stabbing rampage of Victorian policemen, would it be unreasonable to be shot, possibly killed, or sent to jail? I think not, despite what the Muslim community is saying.

        Yet this is exactly what the Old Testament is teaching us. Freedom of choice has consequences attached to it. Consequently we should reason from cause to effect in choosing one alternative over the other.

        In contrast, Sharia Law is structured to remove the freedom of choice from the equation altogether. Which is why people are persecuted for conversion to Christianity, under Sharia Law.


      • davinci,
        Sure looks to me as though the Jewish Scripture is much the same as any other sacred book or code, when it comes to freedom of choice. The difference might perhaps be in the question of just how quickly the consequences or punishment comes after the action.

        So I cant really see the OT being any better.

        Actually, looking at the Garden of Eden story, I notice that there was only one consequence that the deity told Adam and Eve about before they partook of the forbidden fruit. A whole load of unexpected things happened to then, but the actually guaranteed punishment simply didnt happen. Neither of them actually died on the same day that they ate it.

        As I’ve quoted before, the story carries an awful lot of flaws and weaknesses.
        Cheers, Rian


  1. And with the blessing of Sharia Law we have had persecution for apostasy (such as happened to an Islamic Scholar Nasir Hamid Abu Zayd). And this is the norm rather than the exception. The concept of religious liberty that is enshrined in our constitution is non-existent in Sharia Law. In contrast we have the Old Testament which gave the people the choice of whom they would serve.

    Muslim activists would have us believe that Sharia Law is a mechanism that would free the courts from the burden of excessive lawsuits. One has to ask himself, what is it in Islam that burdens the courts with excessive lawsuits? Certainly the Buddhists, Hindus, Pentecostals, Catholics, Baptists, and other religions do not require a Sharia Law equivalent to prevent an overload of lawsuits.


  2. “Sharia judicial proceedings have significant differences from other legal traditions, including those in both common law and civil law. Sharia courts traditionally do not rely on lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves. Trials are conducted solely by the judge, and there is no jury system. There is no pre-trial discovery process, and no cross-examination of witnesses. Unlike common law, judges’ verdicts do not set binding precedents[75][76][77] under the principle of stare decisis,[78] and unlike civil law, sharia is left to the interpretation in each case and has no formally codified universal statutes.[79]

    The rules of evidence in sharia courts also maintain a distinctive custom of prioritizing oral testimony.[80][81]

    A confession, an oath, or the oral testimony of a witness are the main evidence admissible in a hudud case, written evidence is only admissible when deemed reliable by the judge, i.e., notaries.[82] Testimony must be from at least two witnesses, and preferably free Muslim male witnesses, who are not related parties and who are of sound mind and reliable character; testimony to establish the crime of adultery, or zina must be from four direct witnesses.[83] Forensic evidence (i.e., fingerprints, ballistics, blood samples, DNA etc.) and other circumstantial evidence is likewise rejected in hudud cases in favor of eyewitnesses, a practice which can cause severe difficulties for women plaintiffs in rape cases.[84]” Wikipedia


  3. “Most Muslim-majority countries with sharia-prescribed hudud punishments in their legal code, do not prescribe it routinely and use other punishments instead.[89][95] The harshest sharia penalties such as stoning, beheading and the death penalty are enforced with varying levels of consistency.[96]” Wikipedia


  4. “Brunei

    On 30 April 2014, Brunei officially became the first Southeast Asian country to adopt sharia law in its entirety. The Islamic criminal law is set to include punishments such as flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning for crimes such as rape, adultery, sodomy and homosexuality. The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, announced in May 2014 the commencement of the first phase of the sharia-based penal code.[99][100]” Wikipedia

    I’m sorry, but that’s barbaric.


  5. “Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

    According to the United Nations’ universal declaration of human rights,[202] every human has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief. Sharia has been criticized for not recognizing this human right. According to scholars[14][203][204] of traditional Islamic law, the applicable rules for religious conversion under Sharia are as follows:

    If a person converts to Islam, or is born and raised as a Muslim, then he or she will have full rights of citizenship in an Islamic state.
    Leaving Islam is a sin and a religious crime. Once any man or woman is officially classified as Muslim, because of birth or religious conversion, he or she will be subject to the death penalty if he or she becomes an apostate, that is, abandons his or her faith in Islam in order to become an atheist, agnostic or to convert to another religion. Before executing the death penalty, Sharia demands that the individual be offered one chance to return to Islam.[citation needed]
    If a person has never been a Muslim, and is not a kafir (infidel, unbeliever), he or she can live in an Islamic state by accepting to be a dhimmi, or under a special permission called aman. As a dhimmi or under aman, he or she will suffer certain limitations of rights as a subject of an Islamic state, and will not enjoy complete legal equality with Muslims.
    If a person has never been a Muslim, and is a kafir (infidel, unbeliever), Sharia demands that he or she should be offered the choice to convert to Islam and become a Muslim; if they reject the offer, he or she may either be killed, enslaved, or ransomed if captured.[205]” Wikipedia

    As a Christian, I believe God gave us free will, that He desires for us to follow and love him with all our being.

    That he desires not violence or revenge (Jesus repairs the ear of the soldier, tells us to turn the other cheek).

    That he warns people not to consider themselves judge and jury with a hypocrites heart (Jesus who forgave the woman who was being stoned and scared off the punishers by asking them if they were sin free).

    That he does not want faith via the sword (or you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
    —Galatians 1:13–14, NI)

    “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”


  6. This aversion is not new – in 2006, the then-federal treasurer Peter Costello declared that “there was no place for sharia laws in secular society like Australia,”

    Gee not a “Judeo-Christian” society like Australia but a secular one. And this from a Monash law graduate too 🙂 🙂 🙂


      • Did they cover mooting at all, if so you must have missed the bit about irrelevant questions….. 😉


      • Ah yes if by “exactly the same” you mean different. You volunteered to us all that
        you studied at Monash so it was a question I hardly would have needed to ask.

        Maybe you should try getting the actual facts right first before letting your fancies carry you too far away.

        Not letting the facts stand in the way of a good story must have been something you learned as a journalist rather than at Monash law 🙂 🙂 🙂


      • Yes commenting accurately on the discrepancies you’ve made is clearly a straw man.

        My apologies I’ll try not to do it again. (no promises though 🙂 Susan/Mary/Bryan )

        As to insults how about you see if you can go a week without insulting somebody on this blog then presume to lecture others.


      • I’ve been posting as Bubba Ray and Bubba Ray only. (bar one exception when I was trying to dodge a capricious censor)

        You apparently have decided that I’m other people too. Which is fair enough but surely what’s good for the goose is good for the gander isn’t it, Bryan/Tyrion/Alex ?

        And the concept of relevance is still eluding you. Is this why there’s such a series of cheap shots on my nom de plume to distract from your shortcomings ?


      • Well that’s not true is it? You used to post on the Herald-Sun Faithworks site as Austin 3:16 and before that as Patrick. You claim to have studied law and yet you can’t say where. So who’s evading the truth here?


      • Well I’ve claimed to have studied law, mostly because I have studied law so I’ll give you a point for that one.

        As to the rest is there any point my arguing against whatever fantasy you’ve concocted ? (Nice tactic though I’ll give you that)


  7. I get tired of all the misinformation that people throw forward on how bad Sharia is. Let me first start by saying no country in the world does Sharia law properly. In Adultery for example you need 4 witnesses of high standing to witness the penetration. Then in front of a judge they need to all give the same story. All adultery stoning of the past were done only because of a confession.

    Chopping the hand in theft. It is not done if the theft is done out of hardship and in times of famine this law is suspended.


  8. Dhimmis as second class citizens ?

    Who is happy under the rule of another ? The Muslims gave Jews who were persecuted by the Romans, a refuge. Where would the Jews have gone without the Muslims ? They were free to worship.

    When Umar liberated Jerusalem the Jewish people were allowed by in.

    Upon Umar’s arrival in Jerusalem, a pact known as The Umariyya Covenant was composed. It surrendered the city and gave guarantees of civil and religious liberty to Christians in exchange for jizya. It was signed by caliph Umar on behalf of the Muslims, and witnessed by Khalid, Amr, Abdur Rahman bin Awf, and Muawiyah. In late April 637, Jerusalem was officially surrendered to the caliph. For the first time, after almost 500 years of oppressive Roman rule, Jews were once again allowed to live and worship inside Jerusalem.

    Gil, Moshe (1997). A History of Palestine, 634–1099. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-59984-9. Page 51 and 54

    The liberation of Jerusalem from oppression. The word oppression was the word used by Moshe Gil.

    In 1182, Saladin began his move against the Crusaders. His motives have been described as both his devotion to Islam and as dynastic aggrandizement. On July 4 he decisively defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin (in what today is northeastern Israel) – celebrated by Muslims into the 21st century.

    With Jerusalem secure, Saladin summoned Jews to resettle in the city, and Jews form the large settlement in Ashkelon responded to his request.


    In the late 15 th Century King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella wed, uniting the kingdoms of Castille and Aragon. It wasn’t long before they took back the last remaining Moorish Kingdom of Granada in the south. Devout Christians, the King and Queen could not tolerate non-believers in their kingdom. It was in the Alhambra that their edict expelling the Jews from Christian Spain in 1492 was signed. Jews had to convert to Christianity or leave the country.

    Jews who left Spain fled mainly to the Islamic countries that bordered the Mediterranean Sea. They went to Italy, North Africa, Palestine and to the area we now know as Syria, which was controlled by the Ottoman Empire and whose rulers welcomed the Jews with open arms. Some went to Portugal, but were later expelled.


    They did not flee to Europe. They fled to Islamic countries.

    I think I take a break from this blog for a bit. There is enough going on in the real world, I don’t need to chase it in the virtual world as well. 🙂


    • Dom why do you get upset?

      Atheists are forever debating Christianity on here. Christians of different denominations debate and sometimes argue on here as well.

      The only way to the truth is through debate and with debate, sometimes can be harsh judgements. If you feel they are untrue, then do as you are, and argue your point.

      I would never like to feel that I wouldn’t be able to completely pick Christianity apart and put it back together to test my own faith. It irritates me when I feel people either deliberately or mistakenly misrepresent it but I think it is an opportunity for discussion. Truth is an open book that doesn’t hide from the sun.


    • Dom, you may need a rest, but if you take one I hope you will return refreshed. I think someone here needs to be saying the things you say – even when occasionally I don’t agree with you!


  9. I put this comment elsewhere – probably should have put it here!

    Canon Law operates here in Australia in, for instance, the Anglican and Catholic churches.
    Not only does it apply only to members, but can’t over-rule the law of the land.

    Laws, religious or secular, are developing and changing all the time. Sharia law is used in various degrees, or not at all, in various countries. Turkey for instance is a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation where sharia plays no role in the judicial system. The same applies to each country coloured green in the map published here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_of_sharia_law_by_country.


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