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ISIS operatives cutting off a hand of a thieve. Photo: Screenshot from ISIS video, A-Raqqah, Syria

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) explains Sharia Law, corporal punishments

The 877-WHY-ISLAM project was launched in 1999 by volunteers associated with Islamic Circle of North America (I.C.N.A.).

According to ICNA Canada’s website “the project’s foremost aim is to provide accurate information about Islam, the fastest growing religion in the world which is practiced by over 1.6 billion people across the globe. In doing so, it hopes to dispel popular stereotypes and persistent misconceptions about Islam and Muslims.”

Managed by ICNA, the 877-WHY-ISLAM website shares an article entitled “Islamic Shariah” (Islamic Law) that was written by Saulat Pervez, an Associate Researcher at International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon, Virginia.

Here are excerpts from Saulat Pervez’s article:

It [Shariah Law] is a body of laws derived mainly from the Quran and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, along with interpretive, analogous, and/or consensus rulings for cases where no evidence could be sought from primary sources…

The laws as present in the Quran are binding on Muslims and range from prohibition of alcohol consumption and gambling to setting punishments for such grave offences as adultery and theft… these laws are considered timeless and perfect, geared towards the success, welfare and peace of humans in this world and in the hereafter…

What exactly is Shariah? Why do Muslims want to practice this age old system which strips them of their basic human rights? Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of Fiqh (Islamic Law) Council of North America corrects misconceptions and explains Shariah.

Shariah: Commitment to Justice

While many people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, vocally and vehemently oppose Shariah law today in favor of western legal systems, this disenchantment tends to stem from either an unclear understanding of Shariah or instances of misuse of justice ‘back home’ in the name of Shariah. In fact, the establishment and internalization of justice is the supreme purpose of Shariah

Today, such laws are considered by the vast majority to be medieval, barbaric, and primitive. Shariah, likewise, is intractably coupled with merciless executions, chopping off of hands and honor killings. To accept such a generalized picture of an intensely complex legal system is not only a disservice to divinely ordained laws but also to one’s own sense of integrity. Here is an attempt to dispel some of the prevalent myths and to bring clarity to the matter

Shariah: Dispelling Myths

The Shariah consists of hadd punishments and tazir punishments; hadd crimes overstep God’s set boundaries whereas tazir crimes are committed against the society. The following hadd crimes have been mentioned in the Quran: murder, apostasy from Islam, theft, adultery, defamation, robbery and consumption of alcohol. Common tazir crimes include bribery, selling tainted or defected products, treason, usury, selling obscene pictures, etc.

While hadd punishments have been fixed in the Quran (such as retributive killing for murder and the chopping off of a limb for theft) there are many safeguards which are important to mention. For any punishment to actually take place, proof must be provided, along with a confession of the crime or witnesses testifying against the criminal. If any of these is not sufficiently presented, Islamic law requires the hadd crime to be treated as a tazir crime. (Some of the tazir penalties include counseling, fines, flogging, confinement, etc.)

Similarly, if a thief could prove that he/she only stole because of need, then the Muslim society would be held at fault and made to supply that need and there would be no hadd punishment. Likewise, to be penalized for adultery, the couple had to be actually witnessed performing the physical act by four people who were in a position to identify both parties without doubt. A retributive punishment may be averted if the aggrieved party is willing to accept blood money or to forgive, which is always considered to be the higher road to take in Islam. Indeed, to forgive when one has the right to take revenge is the ultimate form of mercy, and God reminds us over and over in the Quran that while He is Just, He is also Most Merciful…

Rape is a serious offence which is punishable by death, penalizing the rapist and exonerating the raped woman, treating her as a victim, not a complicit. An example from the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, states:.. The Prophet [Mohammad] (pbuh) said to the man [rapist], “Your words are sound.” So he said regarding the man who had raped her, “Stone him” [Mohammad ordered to kill the rapist by stoning him to death]…

As for stoning, Ruqayyah Waris Maqsood, a British Muslim author, explains, “The correct Islamic method of stoning according to Sharia… the person was held fast in a fixed position, and a stone or rock that it took two men to lift (i.e. was heavier than one man could lift alone) was to be dropped to crush the head…”

Non-Muslims under Sharia are protected so long as they pay the annual tax, called jizya; this is a nominal amount which does not amount to hardship on the part of the taxed…

Unfortunately, in certain instances, Muslim countries have misused Shariah laws as a tool for injustice; however, that does not discount the fact that Shariah laws were sent by God to establish justice on earth…

While some may continue to deem such punishments as harsh, Muslims believe they are divinely-ordained by the Creator for His creation

About Rachel Ehrenfeld

Rachel Ehrenfeld
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is Founder and President of the New York-based American Center for Democracy, and the Economic Warfare Institute. Dr. Ehrenfeld has authored academic and policy papers and more than one thousand articles. Her books include FUNDING EVIL: How Terrorism is Financed – and How to Stop Ii (2011) • EVIL MONEY (HarperCollins, 1992,1994). Her latest book project is on The Economic Warfare against the U.S. from Within and Without. • NARCOTERRORISM (Basic Books, 1990, 1992).

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