What is Sharia Law?

International Sep 14, 2021

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Under their newly created authority, the Taliban has promised that women in Afghanistan would enjoy rights “within the confines of Islamic law,” or Sharia. However, it is unclear what this implies.

Several interpretations are possible when it comes to Sharia law. The Taliban imposed an extremely strict moral code in Afghanistan in the past. Women could not work outside of their home or leave the house without a male guardian, girls could not attend school, and anyone who defied the code faced public punishments.

What exactly is Sharia?

Sharia is the moral and legal foundation of Islam, based on the Quran, tales from Prophet Muhammad's life, and the decisions of religious experts. The Quran describes a way of living a moral life, but not a collection of regulations.

Women may be granted substantial rights under one interpretation of Sharia but denied any rights whatsoever under another. The Taliban are accused by some critics of violating Sharia due to their restrictions on women, which is ostensibly based on Islamic law.

What rules does Sharia impose?

Sharia defines particular crimes, such as theft and adultery, and prescribes penalties if charges satisfy a certain level of evidence. It also provides moral and spiritual direction, such as when and how to pray, as well as when and how to marry and divorce. It does not prohibit women from leaving the house without a male escort or from working in most jobs as claimed by the Taliban.

What are examples of harsh penalties?

Sharia, according to Islamic academics, is primarily a rule of ethical behavior centered on worship and charity, but it also addresses crime.

Sharia law categorizes offenses into two broad categories: “Hadd” offences, which are major crimes with fixed penalties, and “Tazir” offenses, which are punishable at the discretion of the court.

Theft is one of the Hadd offences that, in the harshest interpretations of Sharia, can be punished by amputating the offender's hand.

How are decisions made?

Sharia, like every legal system, is complicated, and its application is completely dependent on the competence and expertise of specialists. Islamic jurists provide counsel and make decisions. A fatwa is a formal legal judgment that provides guidance.

Islamic law is divided into five schools. Sunni schools include Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanafi, and Shia schools include Jaafari. The five schools disagree in their interpretation of the books from which Sharia law is founded.

Islamic law is highly varied according to local culture and customs, thus Sharia may appear very different in various areas.

Some nations where Islamic law is administered impose or implement such punishments for Hadd offences, and polls show that Muslim opinions toward heavy penalties for such offences vary significantly.

This article has been written by Omer Khan for The Paradigm

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