Sharia law is a set of laws, which form the basis of an Islamic society, shaping the civil structure of an Islamic society in terms of political, civil, criminal, economic and domestic matters.
It is a set of laws which are devised in light of teachings in Quran and Hadith, apart from various techniques prescribed for a situation if a solution to a particular situation is not given in Quran or Sunnah. These techniques, i.e. fiqh, include Ijmah, Qiyaas, Istisna and Urf etc.
The basic purpose of a Sharia court is to bring justice to any situation, in light of Islamic law and jurisprudence. One of the ongoing debate regarding legalizing Sharia court is its compatibility with secular courts for various topics like women’s rights, human rights, civil issues, freedom of expression and preferences of Hudood punishments etc.
In many secular and non-Muslim countries, there is a high rise given to this perception that Muslim sharia court is inflexible in providing justice in such matters. However, if we look deeply into the essence of a sharia court, it is all about providing justice and there is no room for leniency when it comes to providing justice. Talking especially of European culture, with the rapid rise in Muslim community and their demanding rights for legalizing sharia law, various norms have been attached to Sharia law to be non-compatible to secular set of laws, which vary from country to country. Here one must keep this in mind that Sharia law is not an imposition of laws, but is a set of “guidelines”, which being a Muslim one has to abide by. If he or she violates those laws, he or she is responsible for contaminating society, and thus is subject to punishment.
Sharia Courts and European Conception: Norms and Reality
While analyzing Sharia law and European law, there are many differences which may arise. This is because Islam doesn’t gives concrete rules to follow, rather gives you the open choice to determine and change laws, in accordance with cultural differences and changing times. This is made possible with various guidelines prescribed by Islam as mentioned above(Istisnah, ijmah, qiyaas, etc.). The common norm attached to Sharia law by European culture is its inflexibility. However, the basic essence of Sharia law is modification, which totally negates the so-called European claim.
Even though there has been a great uproar after he murder of famous cartoonist Theo Van Gogh, Muslim sharia law and Muslim Sharia court continues to flourish in most of European nations.
In Germany, there are separate courts which deal with Muslim community issues, and their issues are resolved in light of Muslim Sharia, even if the judge is a non-Muslim. reports claim there are more than 85 Sharia courts in United Kingdom which have been operating since 1980s.
In all European countries, Sharia courts act as a volunteer, where anyone (even Non-Muslims) can approach to solve their domestic and civil problems. The problem is that European law structure doesn’t allows cases of political, sical and economical scope to be solved in Sharia court even for willing Muslims.
However, the case in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Pakistan and other OIC countries is totally different where Sharia Law is a vital part of shaping the country’s constitution.
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