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Shackled By Sharia
Chapter 5 (Part 2)
Last week we began our understanding about sharia. Sharia can dictate a societies political, economic, moral and everyday life. Sharia derives from the Qur'an and hadith. There are many places that implement sharia law, however, sharia targets the most vulnerable people. Today, we will look into the sharia paradox and the honor/shame dynamic within.
Muhammad Saad al-Beshi is the leading executioner of Saudi Arabia. He executes about up to ten people per day. His choice of weapon is a sword. He maintains his sword by keeping the blade sharp and he even has his children keep it clean. Not only does he execute people through beheading, he also severs hands, feet and tongues. He stated, "It doesn't matter to me: Two, four, 10 - as long as I'm doing God's will, it doesn't matter how many people I execute," This is the attitude of those that support sharia and people that live in that society; essentially the sharia is a part of "God's will." This may be shocking to us as Westerners, yet, there are many Muslims that live by the sharia law daily. When Ali ran away from her arranged marriage, she also feared that the sharia law was going to follow her to the Netherlands. Yet, she was told that the laws in the Netherlands would protect her and would not look at her arranged marriage with any legal standing whatsoever. This ignited Ali to look towards the beliefs and teachings of Western life.
Ali enrolled into a Leiden University and learned about World War II. During this time, she was faced with critical questions, such as "Did ordinary Germans know about the Holocaust? Would I have been a 'willing executioner?' Would I have helped the Jews at the risk of my own life?" These questions helped her to learn basic human rights that allows anyone (regardless of sex, color, orientation) to be protected. She observed that while the West sought out to protect those that were most vulnerable, sharia targets the most vulnerable (e.g women, homosexuals, not-devout Muslims). For example, the punishment that should be imposed on someone that commits apostasy is death (Qur'an 4:89). In addition, according to the hadith, if one were to be a homosexual he/she should be put to death and the person he/she committed homosexual acts with. However, sharia targets one group in particular more than others, which are women.
Under sharia, women are considered "half a man." They require guardianship for women, the beating of women, being subjected to "unfettered sex" from their husbands and absence of basic rights. For example, if a woman were to answer her husband "coldly, when she used to do so politely" then according to the Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, the husband is allowed to strike her as long as he does not "break bones, wound or cause blood to flow." Another example is the guardianship that is required for all women. While it is presented in a way to protect women, it forces women to be absolutely dependent on their husband from small to big activities. In the Qur'an 4:34, it states, "Men are the maintainers of women...As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them, refuse to share their beds, beat them; but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means: For Allah is Most High, great." In addition, in the Qur'an 2:223 it allowed men to have unfettered sexual access to their wives. The wives are not allowed to reject them whatsoever (as long as they are not menstruating or ill). In addition, men can practice polygamy as they can take up to four wives, but women are not allowed more than one. The Qur'an also allows women to be married off to a "suitable" match that is made by her father. She is not allowed to choose for herself. In Islam, marital age is also lowered so that men are allowed to marry off their daughters as young as nine. Lastly, Muslim men are allowed to marry a Christian or Jewish woman, yet, Muslim women are allowed to only marry Muslim men. The sharia openly treat women as less than and many women are subjected to this life. In a sharia-based court, if a woman were to be raped the only way a woman can be proven innocent is if the rapist confesses or four male witnesses come forward to testify. Moreover, A woman's testimony is worth only half a man's testimony in court!
Due to the honor and shame dynamic in Islam, it can be seen more clearly in terms of sharia. Muslims practice "honor killing" that is still prevalent today. Women are especially targets of honor killing. For example, in the case where a woman were to commit adultery, she is looked at more harshly than man. This is because "women determine the lineage." If women are the determiner of the lineage, Islam deems women to carry themselves with more virtue than men.
One of the practices that sharia allows is death by stoning. Death by stoning can be imposed in the case of adultery or "other forms of sexual promiscuity." For exaple, in Somalia a thirteen-year old girl was gang raped by three men. Instead of investigating the three men, the Al-Shabaab militia accused her of adultery and then sentenced her to death. She was then taken to a local soccer stadium, dug into a hole up to her neck and fifty men threw stones and rocks at her. Afterwards, two nurses checked to see if she was still alive and found her with a pulse. She was then put back into the hole and stoned to her death. To this a local sheik said that she confirmed her guilt and "was happy with the punishment under Islamic law." It is unimaginable that practices such as stoning still exists today. Yet, in a 2008 study, only 5% of Pakistanis were against stoning for adultery. An overwhelming 86% agreed with this method.
The Qur'an and the hadith offer not "emancipation" for women whatsoever. There is no word, utterance or sentence that support women basic rights. This is absent in Islam and can be found only in Western civilizations. These issues aren't discussed because people say, "It's ungodly, it's not what the Prophet Muhammad said to do." When can discussion begin? While Muslims that live in places like Pakistan will never agree with the banning of sharia, we should strongly insist that Muslims living in America should abide by Western rules. By turning a blind eye to the practice of sharia law here in America, it breeds more room for oppression. Next week, we will begin to look at how the commanding of right and forbidding wrong controls Muslims.
1) Muhammad Saad al-Beshi is the leading executioner of Saudi Arabia. He states, "It doesn't matter to me: Two, four, 10 - as long as I'm doing God's will, it doesn't matter how many people I execute." Do you find this problematic? Why or why not?
2) What did Ali realize in Leiden University?
3) What group does the sharia target?
4) Without the language of emancipation present in Islam, what do you think can be done in order to reform Islam?