Spoiler: It’s not Cute.
I recently engaged in a debate with a friend of mine over twitter regarding Sharia Law. He called me Islamophobic, I accused him of being pro-honour killings – the truth is, both of these assertions are likely false, but it’s not easy to have a civilized conversation over twitter, even between two fair-minded, willing participants. My friend made the following assertion:
“Sharia Law is not that different from the Christian Doctrine”
This was said in refutation of my first assertion:
“Sharia Law is incompatible with Western Culture”
I aim to prove I was correct in this claim, and I will do this in three ways; firstly that Sharia Law is regressive in terms of women’s rights, secondly that Sharia Law is inherently more violent than other religious doctrines, and lastly that the very definition of Sharia Law insists that it conflicts with human legislation, and is thus incompatible with our legal system.
1.Sharia Law is regressive in terms of women’s rights
Women’s rights in Western Culture, which for the purposes of this will include; North America & Western Europe, have vastly progressed over the last hundred years, making our daily life in the West very different from the lives of women who live under Sharia Law, which has remained static. For example, under all translations (meaning of the seven main sects of Islam), in chapter 4 verse 34 of the Quran it clearly describes that “men are in charge of women”, “men are the protectors and maintainers of women”,“men are managers of the affairs of women” etc. These passages go on to to describe what to do with a disobedient woman, and they are all in the same vain of “Admonish women who disobey (God’s laws), do not sleep with them and beat them”. It is important to note that they describe the Holy doctrine as “God’s (Allah’s) Laws”, not teachings, or guidelines (however we will return to this). Women’s inequality is built into the very foundations of Sharia Law, the Quran makes this very clear. Women are not equal to men in the eyes of the law, sometimes considered to be worth exactly half of what a man is worth, and it is legal to beat women. For these reasons it’s clear that Sharia Law is inherently regressive in terms of women’s rights, and is an unsuitable ideology for a culture, like the West, that believes in the equality of the sexes.
2. Sharia Law is inherently more violent than other religious doctrines
Sharia Law is incredibly more violent than other religious doctrines, using the threat of violence as motivation for strict adherence. In fact, Sharia Law explicitly outlines rules for dispensing corporal, capital, and domestic punishment. In terms of domestic punishment stoning a woman to death is a common practice for women who are accused of adultery. Moreover it’s common practice for the father of the woman to ‘cast the first stone’. This violent and barbaric practice is only found in one other main religious doctrine; Judaism, however this rule is no longer practiced or enforced. Furthermore the only modern examples of death by stoning have taken place in Islamic countries such as Iran, Iraq, and Somalia, and also in Mexico, however these were cases of gang violence, and were not recognized as a legal form of punishment. The death penalty is also enforced under Sharia for anyone accused of religious blasphemy, also known as questioning the word of God (Allah) in any way. To have a religion that currently enforces the death penalty regardless of a clear conflict with modern legislature, and general morality, is an important reason why Sharia Law is incompatible with Western values.
3. Sharia is a Law not a Doctrine
Sharia, unlike the Christian Doctrine, is fundamentally understood to be a Law, as opposed to religious guidelines, and is by definition in conflict with “human legislation”. There is a reason why Sharia Law is called Sharia Law and not Sharia Doctrine. It’s not a set of guidelines that is supposed to help individuals make moral judgements, it is a legislature that is meant to enforce rules on those who follow it. When Sharia Law is not followed, the perpetrator is to be punished. Failure to enforce said punishment is looked on as religious blasphemy (see above paragraph) and is also a punishable offence. When Sharia Law comes into conflict with human, or Western, law, Sharia is to be placed above the human law in the hierarchy. The very nature of Sharia insists upon this principle; the word of God (Allah), is to be followed.
In comparison, Christian Doctrine asserts it’s own moral guidelines, known as the ten commandments, however these guidelines do not conflict with western judiciary law, furthermore followers of Christianity are encouraged to “be subject to the governing authorities” Romans 13:1-7. So if/when commandments conflict with the law, the common understanding is that the law is to be adhered to. There is some grey area concerning gay rights in the eyes of Christianity, and although there are several examples of what are commonly believed to be intolerant views towards gays, these views do not in anyway encourage violence towards anyone.
Final Thoughts for the three people who read this far:
If you personally subscribe to the philosophies of cultural, or moral relativism, then you may personally believe that all cultural practices must be respected. I personally do not hold this view. I personally believe that cultures that throw acid on the faces of young women, that execute gays simply for existing, and that consider women to be the property of their fathers, husbands or sons, to be worse than cultures who support, or at least aim to support, the rights of all citizens. No one has the right to infringe on the rights of another human being. When religious practices call for the infringement of rights, such as a woman’s right not to be stoned to death, those religious practices must be forbidden. Sharia Law consistently calls for the rights of women, gays, and anyone deemed to blasphemous, to be brutally infringed upon, without strict need for physical evidence, and is therefore not only incompatible with Western Culture & Law, but in my view is also clearly immoral.