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Day 24, August 1: What is Sharia Law?

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Day 24, August 1: What is Sharia Law?

What is Sharia law? A modern application
Understanding the world we live in.

Sharia is a legal, political, theological, military code and system developed over a millennium (after Muhammad). It is “the path” for millions of Muslims. Strict Sharia law is implemented in some 35 countries and to a lesser extent in most other Muslim countries. It is being introduced as a “dual” system into the courts in several Western countries, especially regarding Muslim family matters. Most practising Muslims don’t know much about Sharia beyond the basic religious rules (prayer, fasting, giving of tithes and so forth).

Application of Sharia

Sharia contains categories and subjects of Islamic law called the branches of fiqh (literally, “understanding”). They include Islamic worship, family relations, inheritance, commerce, property law, civil (tort) law, criminal law, administration, taxation, constitution, international relations, war and ethics, and other sub-categories. It is, in short, a complete way of life. It encompasses everything from practical matters such as dietary laws and banking to a system of government, called the Caliphate.

Of course, millions of Muslims throughout the world do not follow (often don’t even know about) the stricter aspects of Sharia. Although it is the basis of the legal and political system for Muslims, Sharia is in fact applied in varying and different ways and degrees around the planet. Its main sources are the Qur’an and Sunnah. But like any legal system, it is open to interpretation and is debated by Muslim scholars everywhere. On the one hand, we see extreme examples of Sharia implemented in countries such as Afghanistan. On the other, Muslim scholars dismiss the harsher aspects, saying it cannot survive in our globalised world. Some Muslim leaders do preach strict Sharia, yet most Muslim people fear it and don’t want to live under it.

How should Christians respond?

Don’t react just to media reports. Sometimes we allow false perceptions and lack of understanding to result in wrong attitudes and a lack of compassion for Muslim peoples. We need to repent of wrong attitudes, of apathy and hostility toward Muslims. We should recognise that the Holy Spirit is moving in the hearts of Muslims and giving them a hunger for an understanding of true Christianity. The Lord is working among Muslim peoples through Christian witness and direct revelation. So let us earnestly pray on a committed basis for the acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ by all Muslim peoples.

Further Reading