Women, The West, and Sharia Law
The Law Society represents solicitors in England and Wales. In the United Kingdom, a solicitor is a lawyer who generally advises clients and prepares legal documents. The Society has written a guide on Sharia inheritance laws for use in the British legal system, and also conducted a seminar in June called, “Developing Services for Muslim Clients – An Introduction to Islamic Rules For Small Firms.”
The seminar covered inheritance laws, Islamic finance, marriage, divorce, and child custody issues. Sharia or Islamic law discriminates against women in several of these areas. For instance, when adjudicating a case dealing with inheritance laws, under sharia law male heirs receive twice the amount inherited by a female heir (Qur’an 4:11). Non-Muslims are not allowed to inherit anything from a Muslim and only Muslim marriages are recognized. Children born outside of an Islamic marriage cannot inherit anything.
The Sharia law position regarding child custody says that the children go to the mother until the age of 7, but thereafter they are returned to the father. The best interest of the child, which is the usual consideration in Western courts, is not taken into account.
Polygamy is allowed within sharia law with men marrying up to four women, however women cannot marry more than one man (Qur’an 4:3). Under sharia law a wife has no right to divorce her husband without his permission, although a man may divorce his wife for any reason. The Qur’an also states that if a husband divorces his wife, he cannot remarry her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her (Qur’an 2:230).
As one participant in the seminar noted, “By promoting these services for Muslims in England and Wales, they are offering the prospect for Muslims to live according to a different set of rules than other people.” There are now at least 85 sharia courts in the United Kingdom operating from mosques. They are used to settle financial and family disputes according to Islamic law.
The Australian reported in 2011, that sharia law had become a shadow legal system within the nation by endorsing polygamous and underage marriages that are outlawed by Australian law.
Several states in the U.S. have passed laws against the use of sharia law in American courts. Critics have argued that sharia is not considered in cases in the U.S., however an assessment of state appellate court cases have shown that sharia has been considered in many cases across the United States, and in at least 15 trial court cases and 12 appellate cases, judges made decisions based on sharia law even when the decisions conflicted the U.S. law.
The multiculturalist movement in the West has convinced many politicians and lawmakers that sharia law is simply religious law that Muslims observe. Pray that lawmakers will awaken to the fact that sharia law is in conflict with Western laws that consider men and women equal.
Jihad Watch reported about a talk show on Egyptian television where an Islamic cleric compared the teachings of Islam to the teachings of Christianity in regards to women. He said, “the Christian religion does not differentiate between women and men, but it confirms their perfect equality: it gives them an equal share in inheritance, it bans divorce, and it bans polygamy. ….Now, if my son hears such things while he’s in school, he’ll come home and say to me, ‘Father, why do you have many wives? You are unjust – unlike Christianity which is full of justice!’” Pray that Muslim sons and daughters will hear the teachings of Christianity and realize that sharia law is unjust.
Many Westerners believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Some even have a fascination of Islam and are drawn toward it. Ask God to reveal the stark differences between Christianity and Islam, disclose the bondage of living under sharia law and draw them to a relationship and fellowship with the living Christ.
Stoning to Protect Honor
In May, Farzana Parveen and her husband, Mohammad Iqbal walked toward the court in Lahore, Pakistan to contest a court case filed by her family against her husband. As she and her husband walked up to the court, they were met by nearly twenty of her family members including her father and brothers. The family fired shots into the air and tried to snatch her away from her husband, but when she resisted her father, brothers and other relatives began beating her. Eventually they used bricks from a nearby construction site to stone her to death.
Her father confessed to the murder, telling a police investigator, “I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it.” Her father, two brothers, a cousin, and a man who claimed he had been married to Parveen were indicted on charges of murder and torture.
The public nature and the brutality of the stoning in front of the court was shocking even to Pakistanis, although honor killings are not rare in the nation. The Human Right Commission of Pakistan said that 869 women were murdered in honor killings in 2013.
There is not a present day Qur’anic verse that advocates stoning, however there are multiple passages in the hadith that advocate the practice especially as a punishment for committing adultery. “The Jew brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death)” (Bukhari 2:23:413).
Stoning is a penalty that some modern nations practicing sharia law do enforce. It has been written into the penal code of Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. According to Amnesty International the Iranian penal code states that men should be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts to execute them by stoning. The practice of burying someone up to their chest when stoning them is also found in the hadith. “We took him out, dug a pit for him and put him in it. We then threw stones at him until he died” (Abu Dawud 38:4421) and “The Prophet (peace be upon him) had a woman stoned and a pit was dug up to her breasts” Abu Dawud 38:4426).
The Iranian penal code also dictates that the stones used in a stoning should, “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes – nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones.”
Stoning has been used as punishment under sharia law in predominantly Muslim nations including Iraq, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Pakistan. It has also been practiced in some states of Nigeria and in Aceh in Indonesia. The Sultan of Brunei’s recent decision to implement sharia law may also include stoning as a punishment unless protests against the implementation of the strict code are successful.
Prayer and international pressure does make a difference. For instance, in 2012, Layla Ibrahim Issa, a 23-year-old Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by stoning. After international pressure, the Court of Appeals in Khartoum dropped the stoning sentence and changed the charge against her from adultery to “egregious acts.” They also determined that she had already spent enough time in prison so she was released.
According to Amnesty International, women are more likely to be punished by stoning than men. Stoning is more predominant in nations where the majority of the population of women is illiterate, and therefore they are vulnerable to signing confessions of crimes they did not commit. Ask God to provide advocates for them who are literate and have the legal knowledge to advise women accused of crimes – so they do not confess to something out of fear or misunderstanding.
The manner of stoning today is a barbaric practice. Pray for a worldwide public outcry against this kind of punishment.
Families in honor-based societies are taught to believe that the only way their honor can be restored is by murder. Pray that God will change their hearts and that they can begin to understand that there is no such thing as honor in murder of the individual; rather there is honor in forgiveness.
Twenty-seven countries consider leaving the religion of Islam or apostasy from Islam illegal. The penalties for apostasy vary, but many nations do have provisions to invoke the death penalty, because of their adherence to Islamic sharia law. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain published an extensive report called the Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam which lists the nations and the penalties for apostasy.
Although the actual constitutions of some of these nations do not prescribe the death penalty for apostates from Islam, many of their constitutions are based on Islamic sharia law which means the nation can put an apostate to death based on sharia law rather than the nation’s laws. Different practices and punishments are carried out between countries and even within the same nation depending on the region.
|Afghanistan||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Algeria||Apostasy is not a criminal offence, however in 2009 religious leaders declared that apostasy is subject to capital punishment.|
|Bahrain||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Bangladesh||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Brunei||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Comoros||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Egypt||Not forbidden by state, however Islam is the official state religion and Sharia law the primary source of legislation|
|Indonesia||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Iran||Death (by adherence to Sharia law and Penal Code draft)|
|Iraq||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Jordan||Apostasy is not a criminal offense, however the government does not allow conversion from Islam. In cases decided by an Islamic law court, marriages have been annulled; custody of children has been taken away; individuals have lost their property rights, etc.|
|Kuwait||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Libya||Legal status currently unknown (interim government)|
|Malaysia||Up to 5 years imprisonment, and/or death|
|Maldives||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Mauritania||Forced repentance, followed by death by adherence to sharia law|
|Morocco||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Nigeria||Death (by regional adherence to sharia law)|
|Oman||Not a criminal offense, but apostates are stripped of familial status and rights|
|Pakistan||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Qatar||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Saudi Arabia||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Somalia||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Sudan||Imprisonment or death|
|Syria||Stripped of legal status and/or death|
|Tunisia||Legal status currently unknown (interim government)|
|Turkey||Not a criminal offense|
|UAE||Death (by adherence to Sharia law)|
|Yemen||Forced repentance, followed by death|
If we live in a nation where there is religious freedom we do not have to fear for our lives when we worship God. With a grateful heart – thank Him for this freedom. Pray that we will never take this blessing for granted.
Many nations have groups who try to gradually take away our freedom of religion. Ask the Lord to expose their attempts, reveal their strategies, and cause those in authority to resist their tactics.
Pray for a shift in world agencies such as the UN to refrain from supporting regimes that do not allow for religious freedom in their nation.
Ex-Muslims in each of these nations will most often face severe persecution for leaving Islam. Ask God to watch over them, keep them in safety. Pray they will become grounded and established in His Word and His ways.
A New Caliphate?
Much attention has been focused in recent weeks on the nation of Iraq. News commentators have debated the West’s role in Iraq while much of the nation has fallen under the control a former al-Qaeda ally, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
ISIS announced on Sunday they were changing their name to The Islamic State, declaring that they have restored the Islamic caliphate. A caliphate is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader called a caliph. President Ataturk of Turkey abolished the last caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, in 1924. ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been declared as the Caliph or leader of the new state. The group has called on al-Qaeda and other militant Sunni groups to pledge their allegiance to this newly formed caliphate.
ISIS, a Sunni jihadi terrorist group had close links with al-Qaeda until February. The split between the groups came after al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was unable to stop fighting between ISIS and another rebel group, Jabhat al-Nusra. Fighting between the two rebel groups in Syria killed 7,000 people including 650 civilians caught in the crossfire. ISIS is known for its strict interpretation of Islamic (sharia) law and brutal violence including beheadings and floggings.
Much of the group’s violence has been directed against Shia Muslims. On June 12, 2014 ISIS claimed they executed 1,700 “Shi’a members of the army” in Iraq although those reports have not been substantiated. The UN reports that more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the fighting between ISIS and Iraqi forces.
The group has seized over one third of Iraq, and supporters of ISIS have been distributing propaganda indicating the next targets of their aggression are Jordan and Saudi Arabia. After taking over Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, ISIS put up posters which read, “We call upon the people of this county to bring their unmarried girls so they can fulfill their duty in sex jihad for their warrior brothers in the city and anyone who will not appear will feel the full force of the sharia [Islamic law] upon him.” Reports indicate that ISIS fighters have been going door to door in Mosul, killing men and raping women found in the houses. A UN spokesman said he had received information that four women who had been raped committed suicide following the brutal attacks.
As many as 500,000 residents of Mosul fled the city as ISIS took over, yet according to The Telegraph tens of thousands of these residents have decided to return preferring to live under the rule of the Sunni terror group to the Shia dominated Iraqi army. The same pattern occurred in Syria where the population of cities overtaken by ISIS initially welcomed the jihadis, but then regretted the strict Islamic society ISIS created. The regulations imposed in Raqqa, a Syrian city under ISIS control, banned smoking, drinking alcohol, and tattoos, and demanded that women be covered in public although women are discouraged from leaving the house at all. The punishment for breaking any of these rules is public flogging. Stealing can result in limbs being chopped off, and committing adultery is punished by death by stoning.
ISIS has been quite successful in utilizing social media to quickly spread its propaganda. From memes (internet picture) mocking United States First Lady Michelle Obama to using popular Twitter hashtags like those related to the World Cup, the terrorist group is making a strong push to reach westerners with their message. Terrorism expert, Charles Lister says the group’s efforts has allowed them to become somewhat of a “’celebrity’ actor within the international jihadist community” with foreign supporters from around the world expressing their support and allegiance to ISIS. The group’s announced goal is to gain one billion supporters for their Islamic State.
The Clarion Project reports British authorities estimate more than 500 young radicalized Muslims have traveled from Britain to Syria to join the conflict. Estimates are that as many as two thirds of those may have returned to live in Britain, because they travel through Turkey, a common vacation destination. Two of the British born jihadis, Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana have appeared in an ISIS recruitment video aimed at British Muslims. Nasser’s father, Ahmed Muthana, originally from Yemen, described how he felt when he saw the video of his son, “I was shaking and in tears. …My wife fainted and has not recovered from what she saw. …I feel sick and devastated that my son is caught up in this. He was brought up to love and respect my country which is Britain.”
Many Muslims living in the West would echo the sentiment of this father. The western nation where they now live is their country. However, radical terrorist groups are aggressively seeking recruits in the West like Ahmed Muthana’s son. Nations of the world need the wisdom of God to know how to respond to the situations in nations such as Syria and Iraq. Our leaders need to hear from the God of heaven.
Pray for wisdom for the leadership of nations around the world. Pray that each world leader will be surrounded with godly counsel and truth in order to make difficult decisions regarding the uprisings in the Middle East.
Pray for the people of Iraq and Syria – those who have fled these nations and for those that have remained. Pray for the protection of families, and an end to the brutal violence.
Pray for those who have been victims of the violence – the women that have been raped and the children that have witnessed horrendous atrocities.
Pray that Muslims – both Shia and Sunni will see that the root of the violence is from the violent teachings of the Qur’an and the traditions and biography of Muhammad himself. Pray that they will see that there is a God who desires to bring His peace to their lives and their nations.
Ask the Lord for social media to become a source of spreading the gospel to the world rather than an instrument of jihadists. Pray that social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others can quickly identify the jihadi propaganda and stop it. Pray that groups like ISIS will no longer be able to “hack hashtags” and spread their message.
ISIS and other terror groups target disenfranchised or disillusioned young Muslim men in the West. Pray that Muslims will see the root of their disillusionment comes from allegiance to a false god. Ask Jesus to appear to them in dreams and visions and lead godly young men across their paths to share the truth of the gospel.