Sharia Law- Laud or Condemn?

Huntn

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While I hope we (in the U.S.) can resist religious based laws, after reading Michelle Bachmann's Dec 2012 suspect speculation that Obama wants to institute Sharia Law in the U.S., I thought it might be interesting to discuss Sharia Law and ask if it has any merits that are compatible with Western Society? My intent is to separate Sharia Law from the Muslim Faith and not to use this thread as a means of discrediting the Muslim faith, but of examining what exactly Sharia Law dictates and how flexible is it, and how compatible with a modern society?

Honestly when I look at the Middle East, I see the Middle Ages. I'm a proponent of secular law, the separation of government and religious institutions. I'm not an expert on Sharia, but as I understand it on a superficial level, it's existence concerns me on a wide spectrum of social standards that I don't believe are compatible with Western Society.

When it comes to God's rules, how are they extracted from your favorite Holy Book? The only rules I've seen in the Bible are the 10 Commandments. The rest of the Bible standards appear to be based on what is written in an approving or disapproving manner. This defacto becomes God's rules. Does the same situation exist in the Qur'an? Are there standards listed as rules or are the rules inferred?

Regarding the Qur'an, the Sharia Law standard seem alien to me, such as punishments (stoning), lack of jury trials, individual represent themselves in court, different treatment for men, discrimination directed at women on a wide spectrum of issues such as divorce, infidelity, restriction of women's rights, everyone being forbidden to leave the faith, allowing religious leaders to hand down punishments for blasphemy including death by vigilante justice. Ultimately it seems to be an all or nothing system, a my way or the highway tolerance.

From a Western viewpoint, what can be called Sharia's best attributes? Does it have anything we could embrace with open arms? Or has it been and will continue to be the source of suedo religious/terror based wars as long as intolerant followers exist and Western Powers are in the Middle East stirring the pot?

The other consideration is how much of implementation of Sharia Law comes from the Qur'an and how much from Middle Eastern Culture? Where does the Qur'an/Sharia Law stop and culture start?

Wikipedia Sharia Law

My disclaimer: I consider myself a spiritual person who believes there could be a higher power and a spiritual existence after physical death, but in my Agnostic thinking, it is something not understood. If anything, I'd describe as vague goings-on behind the screen. I don't believe the Bible is the word of God, but a compilation of documents written and manipulated by man as an attempt to understand our place in the Universe and establish a relationship with the Diety we believe in. I categorize the Qur'an in the same manner.
 
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skunk

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Sharia Law varies enormously in its interpretation. Like our own Law, it is based partly on cultural usage and partly on religious proscription.
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
A lot of Western law has its roots in religious faith, or roots in a God-given authority. Sharia law is notable for the extreme sentencing, which we also had here in the West until recently, and for prosecutions directly related to religious preservation (blasphemy).

As for as I see it, the Middle East isn't much different from how we have been. Sharia law undergoes a gradual erosion, aside from the occasional far right surge or backlash. Again, not much different from ourselves.

International trade, travel and access to information is excellent at influencing younger generations to form more moderate points of view. They are the future law-makers. Unfortunately we have a problem with boosting recruitment for extremists with our meddling.
 

Huntn

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Sharia Law varies enormously in its interpretation. Like our own Law, it is based partly on cultural usage and partly on religious proscription.
However, the problem as usual, seems to be the extremists. That said, as a set of rules, is Sharia Law something the West could ever embrace as a way of life? I don't see that myself. It appears to me, a live and let live approach is required to achieve world wide peace.

A lot of Western law has its roots in religious faith, or roots in a God-given authority. Sharia law is notable for the extreme sentencing, which we also had here in the West until recently, and for prosecutions directly related to religious preservation (blasphemy).

As for as I see it, the Middle East isn't much different from how we have been. Sharia law undergoes a gradual erosion, aside from the occasional far right surge or backlash. Again, not much different from ourselves.

International trade, travel and access to information is excellent at influencing younger generations to form more moderate points of view. They are the future law-makers. Unfortunately we have a problem with boosting recruitment for extremists with our meddling.
Agreed!
 

skunk

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However, the problem as usual, seems to be the extremists. That said, as a set of rules, is Sharia Law something the West could ever embrace as a way of life? I don't see that myself. It appears to me, a live and let live approach is required to achieve world wide peace.
Some interpretations of Sharia are perfectly acceptable. Muslim Spain and the Ottomans were at times extremely inclusive and liberal, while presumably adhering to Sharia. There are Islamic feminists, too. I could probably live without the "death to apostates" bit, though...
 

jnpy!$4g3cwk

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Sharia Law seems to mean many different things to different people at different times and places. Or even in the same place. For some reason many previous generations within Islam saw no reason to destroy the cultural heritage of Timbuktu, but, today's Salafist Islamists in Timbuktu see things differently. They claim to be following Sharia, and have destroyed are destroying the unique historical artifacts of a previous age:


But Timbuktu's mayor, Ousmane Halle, reported that fleeing Islamist fighters had torched a South African-funded library in the city containing thousands of priceless manuscripts.

"The rebels set fire to the newly-constructed Ahmed Baba Institute built by the South Africans ... this happened four days ago," Halle Ousmane told Reuters by telephone from Bamako. He said he had received the information from his chief of communications who had travelled south from the city a day ago.

Ousmane was not able to immediately say how much the concrete building had been damaged. He added the rebels also torched his office and the home of a member of parliament.

The Ahmed Baba Institute, one of several libraries and collections in the city containing fragile ancient documents dating back to the 13th century, is named after a Timbuktu-born contemporary of William Shakespeare and houses more than 20,000 scholarly manuscripts. Some were stored in underground vaults.

With its cultural treasures, Timbuktu had previously been a destination for adventurous tourists and international scholars.

The world was shocked by its capture on April 1 by Tuareg desert fighters whose separatist rebellion was later hijacked by Islamist radicals who imposed severe sharia law.

Provoking international outrage, the Islamist militants who follow a more conservative Salafist branch of Islam destroyed dozens of ancient shrines in Timbuktu sacred to moderate Sufi Moslems, condemning them as idolatrous and un-Islamic.

They also applied amputations for thieves and stoning of adulterers under sharia, while forcing women to go veiled.

On Sunday, many women among the thousands of Gao residents who came out to celebrate the rebels' expulsion made a point of going unveiled. Other residents smoked cigarettes and played music to flout the bans previously set by the Islamist rebels.
Perhaps some recall that the Taliban did the same thing in Afghanistan. So, let's try looking at this a little differently. For some reason, religious fundamentalism has been worse than ever before in history in Timbuktu. Religious fundamentalism in this case has two components -- literalism, and politicization. The result is destruction.

So, you have to ask, when someone says that they want to implement Sharia Law what kind of statement are they making? What is it that they want to do that they can't do already, through the ballot box? They are making a political statement, and you ignore that at your peril if you think that all things "religious" are "spiritual" in nature.
 

Huntn

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Some interpretations of Sharia are perfectly acceptable. Muslim Spain and the Ottomans were at times extremely inclusive and liberal, while presumably adhering to Sharia. There are Islamic feminists, too. I could probably live without the "death to apostates" bit, though...
That goes back to my original question as to what is the Sharia Law standard- is there one? And how were these rules established, stated (in the Qur'an) or inferred rules? It's the inferred rules that become real trickly

Sharia Law seems to mean many different things to different people at different times and places. Or even in the same place. For some reason many previous generations within Islam saw no reason to destroy the cultural heritage of Timbuktu, but, today's Salafist Islamists in Timbuktu see things differently. They claim to be following Sharia, and have destroyed are destroying the unique historical artifacts of a previous age:
This is an example of extreme intolerance. Destroying ancient artifacts because it threatens their religion is sad.
 
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CHAOS STEP

macrumors 6502
I believe they introduced a limited form of elective Sharia for marriage disputes here in the UK. I beleive there was a pre-existing system for Jews as well - in fact is there the same thing in place in the US for Jews?

Fair enough, let them have their silly process and procedures, having said that, you could get pretty much screwed over in a divorce in a sharia court I beleive if your a bird. On the one hand, if they are stupid enough to get themselves into a process that discriminates against them so be it. With that said though, I think that the overriding law of the land (English Law) should really trump any funny business.

As you can tell by my tone, I don't think much of sharia, or any religious court for that matter. Nonetheless I think that a lot of the countries that do run full on sharia law, run a wierd version with lots of cultural attachments - i.e. a lot of the crazy stuff is done more so based upon idiotic cultural practices rather than how a 'proper' sharia court would operate.
 

Huntn

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This discussion frames my view of what is going on in Egypt. While I cheer for the protestors, if I view the desired end result is the reinforcement of Sharia Law, then my enthusiasm wanes.
 

jnpy!$4g3cwk

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Yikes :eek:

I hope (but somehow doubt) that whole site including the comments is just one fine example of satire .....
Sadly, she has again been selected for the Intelligence committee. Just the sort of person who should be given access to classified information.
 
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Ugg

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I think it's necessary to look at all religious based law rather than just Sharia. Whether the special treatment thAt Orthodox Jews get or the Amish or Hutterites or any other religious group in the US is justified. I don't think it is. Almost without exception, these groups treat women like chattel, cover up child abuse and molestation and feel they truly above secular laws.

That is wrong.
 

Don't panic

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Some interpretations of Sharia are perfectly acceptable. Muslim Spain and the Ottomans were at times extremely inclusive and liberal, while presumably adhering to Sharia. There are Islamic feminists, too. I could probably live without the "death to apostates" bit, though...
you are right that interpretation of sharia laws have varied broadly, but while the spanish/ottoman interpretation were likely considered progressive AT THE TIME, i think they still wouldn't cut it today, just like a lot of the christian/western laws of the past would not be acceptable now (rightly so).

The times have changed and there is no room in a modern, democratic and just society for religion-based rules that belong to centuries past, independent of the religion.
the problem is that it takes time to get there
 

Sydde

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I think it's necessary to look at all religious based law rather than just Sharia. Whether the special treatment thAt Orthodox Jews get or the Amish or Hutterites or any other religious group in the US is justified. I don't think it is. Almost without exception, these groups treat women like chattel, cover up child abuse and molestation and feel they truly above secular laws.

That is wrong.
The fundamental problem with religious law is that it establishes its authority by invoking the divine mandate. The mandate is divine because we said it is. Shari'a does have some sensible basic principles, but once you get into the requirements set forth by jehovallah, it starts to become troublesome. There are certainly some shortcomings to the manner in which we implement secular law, but many of those arise from the underlying strictures secular law derives from its religious antecedents. Divine authority is the problem, not the solution.
 

Scepticalscribe

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The fundamental problem with religious law is that it establishes its authority by invoking the divine mandate. The mandate is divine because we said it is. Shari'a does have some sensible basic principles, but once you get into the requirements set forth by jehovallah, it starts to become troublesome. There are certainly some shortcomings to the manner in which we implement secular law, but many of those arise from the underlying strictures secular law derives from its religious antecedents. Divine authority is the problem, not the solution.
I'm completely with you on this.

To the OP: I'm not entirely sure whether you wish to start a discussion on Shar'ia law per se (and whether it is a Good Thing), or encourage a wider discussion on whether law (in the western world, or elsewhere) should be derived from sources which claim divine authority rather than secular ideals which derive their legitimacy from theories based on rights and the concept of citizenship.

However, I would quibble about the way in which the question in the thread is asked. Asking secular westerners to 'Laud or Condemn' Shar'ia Law is inviting one to position oneself on either one of two opposites.

Personally, I see no place whatever for Shar'ia law - or any other law inspired by a religious ancestry - in a (modern) secular society. Instead, I'd argue for laws based on a concept of rights.

Nevertheless, that is leaving aside entirely the fact that Shar'ia law, along with most other belief systems, (which includes what used to be known as communism) is a continuum and is interpreted and implemented differently at different points on that continuum where it is the law.
 

sjinsjca

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I'm sure shari'ah will be welcomed by many who have no idea what it's about: Death to homosexuals, institutionalized misogyny, Jews and Christians pay a tax, execution of Hindus and other "polytheists"...

Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it, and there's plenty of history which illuminates shari'ah.
 

Huntn

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I'm completely with you on this.

To the OP: I'm not entirely sure whether you wish to start a discussion on Shar'ia law per se (and whether it is a Good Thing), or encourage a wider discussion on whether law (in the western world, or elsewhere) should be derived from sources which claim divine authority rather than secular ideals which derive their legitimacy from theories based on rights and the concept of citizenship.

However, I would quibble about the way in which the question in the thread is asked. Asking secular westerners to 'Laud or Condemn' Shari'a Law is inviting one to position oneself on either one of two opposites.

Personally, I see no place whatever for Shari'a law - or any other law inspired by a religious ancestry - in a (modern) secular society. Instead, I'd argue for laws based on a concept of rights.

Nevertheless, that is leaving aside entirely the fact that Shari'a law, along with most other belief systems, (which includes what used to be known as communism) is a continuum and is interpreted and implemented differently at different points on that continuum where it is the law.
In hindsight, I see what you are saying and my intents was not to hinder a middle of the road view. It is easier to ask for approval, disapproval, or indecision about Shari'a law. I failed to do that. My apologies. Shar'ia law seems to be the driving force in Middle East countries, but I am happy to entertain a discussion of all faith based laws, handed down by a Deity. My position is that these laws in actuality are handed down by ancient Theists and enforced by modern Theists.

The fundamental problem with religious law is that it establishes its authority by invoking the divine mandate. The mandate is divine because we said it is. Shari'a does have some sensible basic principles, but once you get into the requirements set forth by jehovallah, it starts to become troublesome. There are certainly some shortcomings to the manner in which we implement secular law, but many of those arise from the underlying strictures secular law derives from its religious antecedents. Divine authority is the problem, not the solution.
Agreed. The Theist leaders who call it divine mandate are stepping in front of God to become the God authority on Earth and get to enjoy all of the benefits of power, wealth, manipulation, and control.

you are right that interpretation of sharia laws have varied broadly, but while the spanish/ottoman interpretation were likely considered progressive AT THE TIME, i think they still wouldn't cut it today, just like a lot of the christian/western laws of the past would not be acceptable now (rightly so).

The times have changed
and there is no room in a modern, democratic and just society for religion-based rules that belong to centuries past, independent of the religion.
the problem is that it takes time to get there
I believe that is dependent upon who you ask, even in the States there are those who want to take us backwards, you know when religion was pure... ;)
 

skunk

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I'm sure shari'ah will be welcomed by many who have no idea what it's about: Death to homosexuals, institutionalized misogyny, Jews and Christians pay a tax, execution of Hindus and other "polytheists"...

Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it, and there's plenty of history which illuminates shari'ah.
Those who seek to paint with too broad a brush are condemned to miss important variations.
 

Fazzy

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I'm sure shari'ah will be welcomed by many who have no idea what it's about: Death to homosexuals, institutionalized misogyny, Jews and Christians pay a tax, execution of Hindus and other "polytheists"...

Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it, and there's plenty of history which illuminates shari'ah.
Ironically, your post shows that you have no idea what its about.
 

Huntn

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I'm sure shari'ah will be welcomed by many who have no idea what it's about: Death to homosexuals, institutionalized misogyny, Jews and Christians pay a tax, execution of Hindus and other "polytheists"...

Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it, and there's plenty of history which illuminates shari'ah.
Ironically, your post shows that you have no idea what its about.
I believe sjinsjca is pointing out practices that are condoned under Sharia law in certain regions? I believe that Sharia Law exists to support and enforce, a specific view of Islam, that in the Middle East is not tolerant of dissenting views.
 

Sydde

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Surely one could make a similar point about the Westburo Baptist church...
The WBC skanks (tossers) have not heretofore attempted violent conquest of a region/state/country or actual destruction of things that offend them. So far, they are just noise.
 

Eraserhead

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I believe sjinsjca is pointing out practices that are condoned under Sharia law in certain regions? I believe that Sharia Law exists to support and enforce, a specific view of Islam, that in the Middle East is not tolerant of dissenting views.
I believe Sharia law is just Islamic cultural law. I see no reason for the sky to fall if people freely choose to use it in family matters and other similar areas.

I would have thought US sharia law would be pretty liberal anyway.