The term, Sharia is Arabic for ‘path,’ meaning ‘the path to a spiritually fulfilling life.’ In the literal sense it means, “a path towards a source of life sustenance.” (In the context of 7th century desert Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, this idea of sustenance is understandingly linked to a path leading to a water-hole.) Understandably, this path means different roadways for different people. How do we take a morally sound path? This concept starts with the Quran’s mandate of reading the book for oneself, for using our God-given right to self-determination—our right to choose (see Quran 18:29 and 2:256). Individuals are expected to make their own moral choice to follow the Quran, or deviate from its path, but instead we have Sharia Law which forces us to follow the Quran!
Sharia Law in its current state is the antithesis of Sharia. It forces us to be herded like blind sheep. It takes away our right to make the moral decision which we are supposed to be rewarded for in the afterlife. Not only is the practice of Islam not supposed to be enforced, many aspects of Sharia Law is not based on teachings of the Quran.
How was Sharia Law developed? The laws compiled to make Sharia Law are a hybrid of pre-Islamic laws—such as stoning, which is rooted in Jewish laws—secular laws, social norms, and—depending on where you put your finger in history—laws of colonialists.
Not only is Sharia Law an extrapolation of the Quran and Hadith (A collection of sayings and actions claimed to be that of the Prophet and compiled two hundred years after his death), but its enforcement is inconsistent and based on different cultural interpretations. If Sharia Law is God’s law, then why is it enforced differently in different Muslim-majority countries? For example, adultery in Sudan is punishable by stoning, while in Malaysia the adulterers are caned. If Sharia Law is based on Islam then why is there punishment for drinking alcohol when there is no such mandate in the Quran? Saudi Arabia is the perfect example of the distortion between Islam and politics. Sharia Law is used as a tool to assert control. Muslim governments (note I did not say Islamic governments) consolidate power by enforcing submission of their Muslim population in the name of religion. After all, who can argue with God’s law?
The fact remains that Sharia Law is a human construct, fabricated by politicians in partnership with religious Mullahs of the day for their own authoritarian political control.
A fact not often taught to Muslims is that Sharia Law did not exist during Prophet Muhammad’s life, nor did he create one. After all, the Quran is supposed to be the complete book. But look what we’ve done; the Quran and the Hadith now share equal billing!
To be fair to the Muslims of years gone by, the reason the Hadith was compiled was because they wanted to practice an Islam that was as close to that of Prophet Muhammad as possible. The initial sincerity cannot be discounted. But somehow, cultural traditions—like forced marriage and stoning—trumped the Quran’s teachings. Shouldn’t we draw the line when a hadith contradicts the Quran? “… Who is more evil than the one who fabricates lies and attributes them to God (Quran 29:68)?”
Does Sharia Law still sound like God’s law to you?
When a Muslim is imprisoned for expressing his ideas, and then accused of blasphemy against Islam and the Prophet, do you really think the Quran is being upheld? The soul of God is breathed into the fetus of every human being (Ruh, Quran 32:9). Do you think God approves of stoning someone to death when God values life over all else?
Next time Sharia Law is used to substantiate an unjust punishment, as a Muslim, please ask yourself, is Sharia Law truly Islamic?
Suggested reading list:
1. “Shari’a and Islamic Family Law: Transition and Transformation” by Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im in Islamic Family Law in a Changing World: A Global Resource Book. http://www.mpvusa.org/sharia_law.html
2. Constructing a Religiously Ideal "Believer" and "Woman" in Islam: Neo-traditional Salafi and Progressive Muslims' Methods of Interpretation (Palgrave Series in Islamic Theology, Law, and History) by Adis Duderija (Oct 11, 2011)
3. For a list of what is NOT in the Quran, please visit: