Home » Society: Norms & Expectations » Room 101 and Sharia Law

Room 101 and Sharia Law


I’m back with another Room 101 post, and I have to thank John Zande of The Superstitious Naked Ape at https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com for providing me with the topic – THANK YOU JOHN!!!!

Room 101 posts; I write about what I hate or dislike about one topic. In my post I have to try to persuade you, the reader, that the points I have raised are valid enough to consign the topic to Room 101. Therefore, you the reader have to get involved, leave me your opinions and decide if this topic is worthy or Room 101. After this, please then leave me your ideas for further Room 101 topics.

What I dislike about Sharia law (people who believe it should exist in Europe or the Western World).

For those of you who don’t know a thing about Sharia law;

It is the body of Islamic law. The term means “way” or “path”; it is the legal framework within which the public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Islam.

Sharia deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business, law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues.

There is not a strictly codified uniform set of laws that can be called Sharia. It is more like a system of several laws, based on the Qur’an, Hadith and centuries of debate, interpretation and precedent.

Western law confines itself largely to matters relating to crime, contract, civil relationships and individual rights.

Sharia is however concerned with more;

Sharia rulings have been developed to help Muslims understand how they should lead every aspect of their lives according to God’s wishes.

So, whether democracy and Islam can coexist is a topic of heated debate.

Yet, Sharia has been incorporated into UK political systems in general ways:

British food regulations allow meat to be slaughtered according to Jewish and Islamic practices – a touchstone issue for both communities.

Also in late 2008 the UK officially allowed tribunals governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance to make legally binding decisions if both parties agreed.

Many might argue though that what has been incorporate into law doesn’t go far enough, and that the law should in fact fully adopt Sharia law.

Has any western nation allowed Sharia to be used in full?

In short, no;

Canada is widely reported to have come close – leading to protests in 2005.

In reality the proposals were little different from the existing religious arbitration rules in the UK, and the UK hasn’t protested.

What about Sharia and women?

Some Muslim women in the West are worried about protection of their rights in Sharia courts where there is discrimination against them because of patriarchal and cultural control in their communities.

They have concerns about the fairness of its application, and women are more concerned about how existing British equality measures and human rights laws can be used to improve their position and voice in society.

So, HOW DO I FEEL REGARDING Sharia law in Europe (Western world) and those who advocate it;

This is a tough one. For me I feel everyone should be represented within the country they live and work within. BUT, why can’t we just accept that every country does things differently and for a reason.

There is no system of law or Governance that is perfect, I doubt it ever could be. Also, no system of law of Governance completely reflects the needs, religions, beliefs or rights of every citizen. There are many flaws, pit falls and grey areas already within law and Governance, without even thinking about how Sharia law could be assimilated fully into these. Especially as Sharia law doesn’t have one universal definition that every Muslim can agree upon. 

Also; if Western countries are doing what they can to accept and assimilate other religious beliefs, and incorporating laws required to fulfil these beliefs, why can’t the same be said about Islamic countries and Western beliefs, rights and laws?

It certainty wouldn’t be OK for a Western unmarried couple to kiss publicly in Dubai or for women to wear Western dress in an Islamic country (by revealing too much flesh).

Tolerance for, and the desire for certain codes, laws, ethics, rulings and rights to be established, should I feel swing both ways. It can’t literally be one rule for one in one country and one rule for another in another country.

Or, perhaps the fact that the law is the law in one country should be respected.

I have moved to Spain, but haven’t expected the Spanish way of life, rules and laws to be the same as they would be in the UK. Nor, could I demand that they should change to reflect my needs, and the rest of the British Ex-pats who live here. I choose to live here, therefore I choose to live by the standards of the country. I knew what to expect and knew Spain wasn’t the UK. So, who am I to dictate my needs and demand they be met?

People who want to enforce Sharia laws on all citizens of the West, in Europe or US have to realise that it would never work, mainly because we aren’t all Muslim. Also, if Sharia law is fundamentally about God’s wishes, how can these wishes be incorporated into a universal law or Governance to reflect everyone’s needs? Also, to be Devil’s advocate; how can we be sure those are God’s actual wishes? Or that this God reflects what we believe to be or not to be God? Or could it be that these wishes are more man made – using religion as the excuse to legitimise a set of laws to benefit ‘man’ not really God?

When thinking about how countries could adopt Sharia law, I consider a country like Spain. Sharia law in Spain would be too much of a conflict. Spain has deep seated fears relating to their past; wars with Islamic countries, and consequently being conquered and ruled by Islamic nations. Also the fact that Spain is a Catholic country (follows a different ideal of God), and that not too long ago Spain was ruled under a dictatorship (they therefore aren’t too keen on mass control).

I think people now want more freedoms, not less. They don’t wish to be controlled by any set of Draconian religious rules (Islamic or other). That is why people come to the West, to enjoy freedoms and live a life they might not otherwise of had (free of religious doctrine and controls). By all means reflect the needs of the people, but not at the expense of everyone else’s liberty, rights and freedoms. There has to be a balance, that is what tolerance is.

What do you think??

Should Sharia law be consigned to Room 101??

Also, please let me have your ideas for a next topic.

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17 thoughts on “Room 101 and Sharia Law

  1. I tend to agree with your above commenter in that a lot of religious fundamentalism tends to not care about balance and only about what they feel is the one way to live. They don’t want to compromise with anyone.

    • Thanks Amy for your comment, I appreciate your input as always.
      Yes, it does seem that extremism in any religion leads to damaging effects in society. compromise is the key to maintaining a good balance, but often this is ignored.
      Thanks again, Bex

  2. You’re welcome, and well dissected. I like these two points, and think they strike to the heart of the matter:

    I choose to live here, therefore I choose to live by the standards of the country.

    That is why people come to the West, to enjoy freedoms and live a life they might not otherwise of had (free of religious doctrine and controls).

    It was Cyrus II who established the first secular state, originating the first concepts of human rights, and it is to his ideal which nations should strive. Religion is a private affair. Period. It has no place in laws, governance, education, or defence.

    • Thanks John, I appreciate your comment on this topic (as always). Thanks again for suggesting the topic. I am happy I managed to do the topic some justice, as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do so initially!
      I’d agree with your point; religion is a private affair, and we shouldn’t force those beliefs onto another (therefore devaluing their own right and choice to believe something else) . A state ruled by religion, for me has no place in a modern or progressive world.
      Thanks again for your input and the points you have raised, Bex

      • “I’d agree with your point; religion is a private affair, and we shouldn’t force those beliefs onto another”

        Whoa Bex, you are assuming away the issue under discussion. According to Sharia law religion is not just a private affair. You can disagree but you have to state reasons for your position. Most laws in most countries have been influenced by culture, history, religion, economics and geology, at a minimum, so why do you just object to religious influence on states? Why do you consider a ‘modern’, ‘progressive’ world so privileged over less developed countries? Is it our weapons of mass destruction, our pop culture or our cuisine that you find so attractive? Sorry to sound so critical but this is not as straightforward as John Zande would have us believe.

        • Hi Malcom, good points, but with respect, also a little too simplistic. Don’t forget, we’re dealing here with laws inspired only by religion, and Bex is right in identifying just how loose these laws are. They vary according to interpretation, yet the core of the rationale behind these directives is drawn on a fixed set of words that are frozen in time. Have you read the Qur’an, or the Hadiths? There are some ghastly, primitive, abhorrent things there, and some nice things as well. It’s like a Christian Reconstructionist trying to argue the Law of Moses should be the Law of the US. It’s crazy.

          You say, According to Sharia law religion is not just a private affair, and that is precisely the point here. It cannot be public, for any number of reasons, not least of all basic rights of individual freedoms, but perhaps most tellingly, because no religion is true. We know this to be fact, so even contemplating establishing laws based on antique notions born of antique needs is madness. If any single religion were in fact true, we would have—indeed should have—already seen that religion emerge naturally and entirely unassisted wherever human beings were found, regardless of their isolation or epoch. Its deity (or deities) would wear a single hat, carry a single name and speak a single language audible to the deaf, coherent to infants, understood by the demented, and intelligible to the senile. Its dramas and narratives would be recognised and repeated by cloistered populations in every corner of the planet, and its edicts would have penetrated all tribal, domestic and international legal code mindless of earthly or socioeconomic borders. If any single religion were true a single and unchangeable objective moral writ would underwrite all human populations, dietary conventions would be unchaste by oceans, and norms of etiquette, civility and protocol would not deviate with geography or era.

          No religion has however emerged twice anywhere on the planet. No single deity has been envisaged by two populations separated by time and geography, and not a solitary person in history has arrived independently at Mithraism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Scientology or Judaism without it first being taught to them. No religion has also ever revealed itself to be true by maintaining a coherent form against the shifting tide of human experience. Islam, what we’ve talking about here, is fissured into seventy-three distinct chapters starting with the main tributaries of Sunni and Shia down to distant subgroups from the Hanafiyah, who believe Allah might have had a beginning, to the unfathomably specific Amriyah’s who reject the legal testimony of anyone who’s ancestors took part in the Battle of Camel, Basra, 656 CE.

          Now, if any religion were true it would exhibit no such chain of secession. It would not support or nourish splinter movements, nor yield to external stresses. It would not be susceptible to, or tolerant of, variations in interpretation as no interpretation should be required. Homogeneity would be king, and the simple fact that it isn’t is proof that all expressions of theism are false.

          So, yes, there is a simplicity here which should not be ignored. Islam is false. All religions are false, and to suggest we should even contemplate engaging a broader discussion to debate the possible merits of adopting religious-based laws (not that I’m saying this is what you’re suggesting) is madness.

          • John, you spend all of your answer arguing that every religion is false i.e. it makes claims that are not true, but this is irrelevant. Most Jews, Christians and Muslims would be hard pressed to outline the specific doctrines associated with their respective faiths, but would still have a very clear idea what it means to be a good Jew, Christian or Muslim i.e. for most people, religion has more to do with daily ritual and practice than doctrine. You claim that such lifestyles are wrong because they are based on falsities whereas your chosen secular lifestyle is right because it is based on truth.

            However, there can be no universally compelling answer as to how human beings should live. I can choose to live a life of Christian virtue even if I am ignorant of any truth claims about the divinity of Jesus. Similarly, I can choose to live a daily life full of rich Jewish tradition without any knowledge of the Jewish texts. I could also choose to spend my life in the service of stray animals, or emulating the Bushido warrior tradition, or following a life of sensual passion. I repeat, there can be no universally compelling answer as to how human beings should live. This means that what is false is any idea of an ultimate moral harmony in the world. The idea of Christian virtue is incompatible with the Bushido warrior code. I cannot be both a Christian and a samurai.

            You want to argue that “it is to his ideal (a secular state) which nations should strive” but there is no single universal overarching standard that would enable one to choose between a secular rights-based lifestyle and any other lifestyle which followed a different value system, as illustrated above. The purpose of the singer is the song. Ultimate values are incommensurable and frequently incompatible. It follows that some degree of freedom is a universal human good because being free enables human beings to make choices among lives that are incomparably valuable. Sharia law is wrong, but only to the extent that it prevents individuals from making other lifestyle choices. Sharia law cannot be practiced in the Anglosphere without conflict because it is incompatible with the values of the Anglosphere.

          • Hi Malcom. Yes, I did go off on a tangent, but it was simply to demonstrate that any religious claim to “truth” is false. The conversation should stop there. The important point I made, but which was lost, is that we are dealing with notions frozen in time. No one is saying a state based on the ideals of the Enlightenment is perfect, but it’s laws are not shackled to texts “frozen” in time, let alone texts that are demonstrably false.

        • Hi Malcolm, I appreciate you stating your opinion and getting involved in this topic (as always). I am glad it has proven to be such a ‘fiery’ topic of conversation. Oh, well thanks for feeling sorry for being critical, however, these are your opinions and I won’t disregard them. I am more than happy to elaborate and answer your questions to me.

          I feel religion should be a private affair. Of course be proud of what you believe in and unafraid to admit that, but I don’t agree with enforcing this belief on anyone else. No one could do that and expect a whole nation to be in complete agreeance and obey without question. Not all people feel that religion is founded in any type of reality; how is it justifiable to produce laws based on what some see as ‘fairy tales’. Religion doesn’t leave much room for democracy; God says it is therefore it is. What is that actually founded on? Where did the ‘doctrine’ originate from? Who decides that is best for a whole nation without even one vote?

          Don’t get me wrong, I have my own religious beliefs, but wouldn’t want to run a country based on them and expect everyone to adhere to the laws that derive from that! Where would the sense be in that? Also, religion ruling a country does tend to restrain people from attaining certain freedoms; freedom to worship other Gods, freedom to be homosexual, freedom to divorce, freedom to have rights to learn, freedom to choose your own partner in life. It rules on issues that constrain and strangle people. For example; I wouldn’t want to be told I can’t live with my boyfriend unless we are married. People passing judgement and hating me because they think I am living on sin and our love isn’t love because we aren’t married, which I have been told by one ‘religious’ person. Religion for me isn’t based on prejudice, hate, narrow mindedness and blinkered ignorance. So, laws pertaining to social or personal freedoms like that would be taking a step backwards.

          Also, law is law for everyone. When did one law become applicable for one group of people and another for another? How is that just and equitable? It makes no sense. I can’t claim a law doesn’t apply to me because of my religion. I am a UK citizen and therefore subject to the law as it stands. There is no special treatment for me. If law has to represent everyone, all their beliefs and religions and so on, where will it end? No laws at all??

          I never stated I thought ‘modern’ or ‘progressive’ societies to be more privileged. I wouldn’t be naïve or idealist enough not to recognise there are grave and fundamental issues plaguing the Western world, which Democracy and Capitalism cannot resolve. However, reverting to a religious text to run a country won’t help these issues either, and no doubt could create more tensions and intolerance. Look at the persecution of the Catholics over the centuries, because they wouldn’t convert to Protestantism. The people behind region cause problems; the extremists that won’t compromise, won’t hear others opinions, wage wars, create terrorist groups and so on and so forth. Politics and law have enough extremists, and it is supposed to be a democracy. Anyway, I am digressing. I do fully appreciate the belief systems of others, and other countries decisions on how they run their state. I take issue when other countries, Governments, groups, religions want to force their ideas, ways and beliefs onto another country (etc.). The UK for example is not traditionally a Muslim society. The UK is a Christian nation, and converting our law system into an Islamic version would isolate Protestants, Catholics, Agnostics, Atheists, Evangelical, Methodist, Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan and so on. The UK haven’t accommodated everyone’s religious or non-religious beliefs into the law, so why favour some beliefs and religions over others? It just appears to be an act of appeasement to save face for the Government, so they don’t appearing ‘racist’. As there is plenty of tension between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

          The other issue I have or question; does every country in the world accommodate other countries beliefs, views, wants, religions – no, because it is their country and if you live or work there you have to accept that fact; you won’t be represented, you are subject to their ways and systems. As my point about Spain highlights.

          Forgive me if this seems long winded and critical – not my intention at all. I do appreciate your response and do appreciate your opinion. I hope I have answered your queries.

          Thanks again, Bex

          • Bex, thank you. I have tried to explain my position in reply to John Zande and re-reading your comment I think my answer to him also is an answer to you. Please feel free to ask for any elaboration if you think it’s needed. BTW, a great discussion.

          • Thanks Malcolm, I happy this post has prompted such a great discussion too. I hoped it would, as this is the purpose of my Room 101 posts. Thanks again for your input.
            I just want to state I am not saying Sharia law is wrong, or religion per se is false. I just know it to be incompatible when it comes to law and Governance. I don’t discount religion, but unless everyone’s religious beliefs are somehow represented, then law and Governance miss the point of what they should be – inclusive.
            Thanks again Malcolm, and look forward to your future responses on other topics!!
            Bex

  3. One more thought…more countries should adopt the immigration policy of the Netherlands and make each applicant go through an introductory process whereby they agree NOT to cause problems in the host country which too many Muslims have done.

    • Yeah, well immigration is a hot topic. Seems most countries don’t know what to do with it, but don’t like discussing it. I think more controls are needed though, especially when it comes to checking people’s backgrounds for any criminal convictions and so on.
      Thanks again for your comment, appreciate it, Bex

  4. the problem with any religious law, especially from fundamentalists…in their eyes EVERYONE is wrong and they are the only ones with a grasp on what is right. Fundamentalists in all religions create an intolerable situation due to their intolerance and no God would condone so much negative and violent behavior.

    • Hey there, thanks for your comment on this topic. I do appreciate your involvement.
      Yeah, I think that any extreme religious conviction, can create friction – but it is more the person than the religion to blame. It is a difficult one, as I think everyone has the right to be represented, but just that balance is required. Thanks again, appreciate your response, Bex

    • Yes, it is a tough one Green Embers. It certainly isn’t a topic I know masses about either. Thanks, I am glad that the points I tried to raise have come across well enough to make sense!! So, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it as always, Bex

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