Top ten reasons why sharia is bad for all societies
By James Arlandson
Traditional Muslims who understand the Quran and the hadith believe that sharia (Islamic law) expresses the highest and best goals for all societies. It is the will of Allah.
But is Islam just in its laws that Muhammad himself practiced and invented?
This article says no for ten verifiable reasons.
Here are four points you must read, before reading this article:
First, sometimes these ten points quote the Quran or omit it; sometimes they quote the hadith (reports of Muhammad’s words and actions outside of the Quran) or omit it. This is done only to keep down the length of the article. No one should be fooled into believing that these harsh and excessive laws were invented in the fevered imagination of extremists who came long after Muhammad. These harsh and excessive laws come directly from the founder of Islam in his Quran and in his example in the hadith.
Second, each of these ten reasons has a back—up article (or more) that is long and well documented with quotations and references to the Quran, the hadith, and classical legal opinions. The supporting articles also examine the historical and literary context of each Quranic verse. If the readers, especially critics, wish to challenge one or all of these ten reasons, or if they simply doubt them, they should click on the supporting articles. They will see that Muhammad himself actually laid down these excessive punishments and policies.
Third, it must be pointed out that these harsh laws are not (or should not be) imposed outside of an Islamic court of law. Careful legal hurdles must be passed before the punishments are carried out. However, even in that case, it will become clear to anyone who thinks clearly that these punishments and policies are excessive by their very nature, and excess is never just, as Aristotle taught us in his Nicomachean Ethics.
Fourth, in each of the lengthy supporting article (or articles), a Biblical view on these infractions of moral law (or sometimes civil law or personal injuries) is presented. One of the reasons we all sense that these Islamic punishments are harsh and excessive is that Christianity has also filled the globe. Even if one is not a Christian or is only a nominal Christian, he or she has breathed deeply of Christianity by virtue of laws and customs or even driving by churches. New Testament Christianity, when properly understood and followed, offers humanity dignity.
‘Islam’ in this article stands for Muhammad, the earliest Muslims, and classical legal scholars.
Here are the top ten reasons why sharia or Islamic law is bad for all societies.
10. Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped.
In 2001, Iranian officials sentenced three men to flogging not only for illicit sex (see reason no. nine), but also for drinking alcohol.
In 2005, in Nigeria a sharia court ordered that a drinker should be caned eighty strokes.
In 2005, in the Indonesian province of Aceh, fifteen men were caned in front of a mosque for gambling. This was done publicly so all could see and fear. Eleven others are scheduled to undergo the same penalty for gambling.
After going through two previous confusing stages before coming down hard on drinkers and gamblers, the Quran finally prohibits alcohol and gambling in Sura 5:90—91; they do not prescribe the punishment of flogging, but the hadith does. A poor ‘criminal’ was brought to Muhammad who became angry:
The Prophet felt it hard (was angry) and ordered all those who were present in the house, to beat him [the drinker dragged into Muhammad’s presence]. (Bukhari, Punishments, nos. 6774—6775)
Thus, we see no offer of help for the alcoholic when he is dragged before Muhammad and his followers. Why does Muhammad not offer rehabilitation? Why does he immediately go to corporal punishment?
The later classical legal rulings follow the Quran and the hadith, so we do not need to examine them here.
It is sometimes argued that Islamic countries are pure, whereas the West is decadent. No one can argue with this latter claim, but are Islamic countries pure? The Supplemental Material, below, demonstrates that Islamic countries still have drinking and gambling in them.
Here is the article that supports this tenth point and that analyzes the confusing Quranic verses on drinking and gambling. It analyzes the hadith and later legal rulings.
9. Islam allows husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives.
In 2004, Rania al—Baz, who had been beaten by her husband, made her ordeal public to raise awareness about violence suffered by women in the home in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi television aired a talk show that discussed this issue. Scrolling three—fourths of the way down the link, the readers can see an Islamic scholar holding up sample rods that husbands may use to hit their wives.
The Quran says:
4:34 . . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (MAS Abdel Haleem, the Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)
The hadith says that Muslim women in the time of Muhammad were suffering from domestic violence in the context of confusing marriage laws:
Rifa’a divorced his wife whereupon ‘AbdurRahman bin Az—Zubair Al—Qurazi married her. ‘Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah’s Apostle came, ‘Aisha said, “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!” (Bukhari)
This hadith shows Muhammad hitting his girl—bride, Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr: Muslim no. 2127:
‘He [Muhammad] struck me [Aisha] on the chest which caused me pain.’
It is claimed that Islamic societies have fewer incidents of fornication and adultery because of strict laws or customs, for example, women wearing veils over their faces or keeping separate from men in social settings. But these results of fewer incidents of sexual ‘crimes’ may have unanticipated negative effects in other areas, such as the oppression of women. Generally, sharia restricts women’s social mobility and rights, the more closely sharia is followed. For example, in conservative Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars. In Iran, the law oppresses women. For example, women’s testimony counts half that of men, and far more women than men are stoned to death for adultery.
Here is the supporting article for the ninth point. It has a long list of different translations of Sura 4:34, in order to resolve confusion over this verse, circulating around the web. This longer article has many links that demonstrate the oppression of women under Islamic law (scroll down to ‘Further discussion’).
8. Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge—physical eye for physical eye.
In 2003, in Saudi Arabia a man had two teeth extracted under the law of retaliation.
In 2003, a court in Pakistan sentenced a man to be blinded by acid after he carried out a similar attack on his fianc?e.
In 2005, an Iranian court orders a man’s eye to be removed for throwing acid on another man and blinding him in both eyes.
The Quran says:
5:45 And We ordained therein for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation. And whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, such are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers . . .). (Hilali and Khan, The Noble Qur’an, Riyadh: Darussalam, 1996)
This passage allows for an indemnity or compensation instead of imposing the literal punishment of eye for an eye. No one should have a quarrel with this option. According to the hadith, the plaintiff also has the option to forgive, and this is legitimate, provided a judge oversees the process. The problem is the literal law of retaliation.
The hadith and later legal rulings demonstrate that this excessive option was actually carried out, as do the three modern examples linked above.
Please go here for the supporting article that cites the hadith and later legal rulings.
Islamic law calls all of humanity to march backwards 1,400 years BC and to re—impose the old law of retaliation—literally, and the evidence suggest that the Torah never intended the law to be carried out literally, as the supporting article demonstrates.
7. Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off.
Warning! This short article has photos of severed hands. The reader should never lose sight of the fact that this punishment is prescribed in the Quran, the eternal word of Allah. It does not exist only in the fevered imagination of a violent and sick radical regime like the Taliban, which once ruled in Afghanistan.
A Saudi cleric justifies chopping off hands here.
The Quran says:
5:38 Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done—a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise. 39 But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, God will accept his repentance: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)
At first glance, verse 39 seems to accept repentance before the thief’s hand is cut off. But the hadith states emphatically that repentance is acceptable only after mutilation. Muhammad himself says that even if his own daughter, Fatima, were to steal and then intercede that her hand should not be cut off, he would still have to cut it off (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6788)
If the reader would like to see more hadith passages, modern defenses of this indefensible punishment (and a refutation of them), and the Biblical solution to theft, they should click on this long supporting article or this shorter one.
6. Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated.
In September 2003, Scotsman Sandy Mitchell faced crucifixion in Saudi Arabia. He was beaten and tortured until he confessed to a crime he did not commit: a bomb plot masterminded by the British embassy. The article says of this punishment that it is the worst kind of execution and that two have been carried out in the last twenty years.
In 2002 Amnesty International reports that even though Saudi Arabia ratified the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture) in October 1997, amputation is prescribed under both Hudud (punishments) and Qisas (law of retaliation). AI has recorded thirty—three amputations and nine cross—amputations where the alternate hand or foot is mutilated.
The Quran says:
5:33 Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter, 34 unless they repent before you overpower them: in that case bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)
It may be difficult to accept, but the hadith says that Muhammad tortured these next people before he executed them. This scenario provides the historical context of Sura 5:33—34. The explanations in parentheses have been added by the translator:
Narrated Anas: Some people . . . came to the Prophet and embraced Islam . . . [T]hey turned renegades (reverted from Islam) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away . . . The Prophet ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron, and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterized, till they died. (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6802)
The next hadith reports that the renegades died from bleeding to death because Muhammad refused to cauterize their amputated limbs. Then the hadith after that one reports that the renegades were not given water, so they died of thirst. They probably died of both causes: thirst and loss of blood.
See this short article for details on another example of Muhammad’s use of torture.
Islamic law says that these punishments are imposed for highway robbery, and in some cases crucifixion does not need a murder before it is imposed.
For more information on Muhammad’s brutality and the barbaric laws that flow out of it, go to the back—up article.
5. Islam commands that homosexuals must be executed.
In February 1998, the Taliban, who once ruled in Afghanistan, ordered a stone wall to be pushed over three men convicted of sodomy. Their lives were to be spared if they survived for 30 minutes and were still alive when the stones were removed.
In its 1991 Constitution, in Articles 108—113, Iran adopted the punishment of execution for sodomy.
In April 2005, a Kuwaiti cleric says homosexuals should be thrown off a mountain or stoned to death.
On April 7, 2005, it was reported that Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for ‘gay conduct.’
These homosexuals were lucky. Early Islam would have executed them, as these hadith demonstrate.
Ibn Abbas, Muhammad’s cousin and highly reliable transmitter of hadith, reports the following about early Islam and Muhammad’s punishment of homosexuals: . . .
‘If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done’ (Abu Dawud no. 4447).
This hadith passage says that homosexuals should be burned alive or have wall pushed on them:
Ibn Abbas and Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, ‘Accursed is he who does what Lot’s people did.’ In a version . . . on the authority of Ibn Abbas it says that Ali [Muhammad’s cousin and son—in—law] had two people burned and that Abu Bakr [Muhammad’s chief companion] had a wall thrown down on them. (Mishkat, vol. 1, p. 765, Prescribed Punishments)
Though this punishment of a wall being toppled on them is extreme, the Taliban were merely following the origins of their religion.
If the reader would like to see the confusion in the Quran on the matter of homosexuality, the severity in the hadith, and excessive rulings of classical fiqh, they should see the supporting article. This longer one has links to many discussions on Islamic punishments of homosexuals (scroll down to ‘Supplemental material’).
4. Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death.
In 2001, Iranian officials sentenced three men to flogging for illicit sex.
The Quran says:
24:2 The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. [This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime (illegal sex), but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah’s law]. (Hilali and Khan).
The additions in the brackets, though not original to the Arabic, have the support of the hadith. These command flogging only of unmarried fornicators: Bukhari, Punishments, nos. 6831 and 6833.
The classical legal rulings follow the Quran and the hadith closely, so we do not need to analyze them here.
According to this report, in Iran a teenage boy broke his Ramadan fast, so a judge sentenced him to be lashed with eighty—five stripes. He died from the punishment. Though his sad case does not deal with fornication, it is cited here because it shows that lashing can be fatal.
In December 2004, Amnesty International reports:
An Iranian woman charged with adultery faces death by stoning in the next five days after her death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Her unnamed co—defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging. Amnesty International members are now writing urgent appeals to the Iranian authorities, calling for the execution to be stopped.
She is to be buried up to her chest and stoned to death.
This gruesome hadith passage reports that a woman was buried up to her chest and stoned to death:
And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al—Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face he cursed her . . . (Muslim no. 4206)
The Prophet prayed over her dead body and then buried her. Truthfully, though, how effective was the prayer when Muhammad and his community murdered her in cold blood? The rest of the hadith says that Muhammad told Khalid not to be too harsh, but the Prophet’s words drip with irony. Perhaps Muhammad meant that Khalid should not have cursed her. However, if they really did not want to be harsh, they should have forgiven her and let her go to raise her child.
Later Islamic legal rulings follow the Quran and the hadith closely, so we do not need to analyze them here.
Here is the back—up article that supports this fourth reason.
3. Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non—Muslim critics of Muhammad and the Quran and even sharia itself.
In 1989, Iran’s Supreme Leader issued a fatwa (legal decree) to assassinate Salman Rushdie, a novelist, who wrote Satanic Verses, which includes questions about the angel Gabriel’s role in inspiring the Quran. Now the extremists in the highest levels in Iran have recently renewed the fatwa.
In 2005, The Muslim Council of Victoria, Australia, brought a lawsuit against two pastors for holding a conference and posting articles critiquing Islam. Three Muslims attended the conference and felt offended. The two pastors have been convicted based on Australia’s vilification law. While on trial, one of them wanted to read from the Quran on domestic violence (see 9, above), but the lawyer representing the Council would not allow it. The pastors are appealing their conviction.
In 2005, British Muslims have been campaigning to pass a religious hate speech law in England’s parliament. They have succeeded. Their ability to propagandize has not been curtailed. Opponents of the law say that it stifles free speech that may criticize Muhammad, the Quran, and Islam.
Here are the classical legal rulings.
First, the Muslim deserves death for doing any of the following (Reliance of the Traveler pp. 597—98, o8.7):
(1) Reviling Allah or his Messenger; (2) being sarcastic about ‘Allah’s name, His command, His interdiction, His promise, or His threat’; (3) denying any verse of the Quran or ‘anything which by scholarly consensus belongs to it, or to add a verse that does not belong to it’; (4) holding that ‘any of Allah’s messengers or prophets are liars, or to deny their being sent’; (5) reviling the religion of Islam; (6) being sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law; (7) denying that Allah intended ‘the Prophet’s message . . . to be the religion followed by the entire world.’
It is no wonder that critical investigation of the truth claims of Islam can never prevail in Islamic lands when the sword of Muhammad hangs over the scholars’ head.
The non—Muslims living under Islamic rule are not allowed to do the following (p. 609, o11.10(1)—(5)):
(1) Commit adultery with a Muslim woman or marry her; (2) conceal spies of hostile forces; (3) lead a Muslim away from Islam; (4) mention something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet . . . or Islam.
According to the discretion of the caliph or his representative, the punishments for violating these rules are as follows: (1) death, (2) enslavement, (3) release without paying anything, and (4) ransoming in exchange for money. These punishments also execute free speech—even repulsive speech—and freedom of religion or conscience.
Ultimately, censorship testifies to a lack of confidence in one’s position and message. If the message of Islam were truly superior, one could trust in the power of truth. As it stands, sharia with its prescribed punishments for questioning Muhammad, the Quran, and sharia itself testifies to their weakness since sharia threatens those who dare to differ.
How confident was Muhammad (and today’s Muslims) in his message that he had to rely on violence and force to protect his message, besides reason and persuasive argumentation?
For the supporting article that analyzes the Quran and the hadith, both of which orders death to critics, click here.
2. Islam orders apostates to be killed.
In Iran an academic was condemned to death for criticizing clerical rule in Iran. The rulers assert that he was insulting Muhammad and Shi’ite laws. He was charged with apostasy.
This analysis tracks the application of apostasy laws around the world, citing many examples.
Apostates are those who leave Islam, like Salman Rushdie (see the linked article in no. three, above), whether they become atheists or convert to another religion. They are supposed to be killed according to the Quran, the hadith, and later legal rulings.
See the previous point no. three for acts that entail leaving Islam according to Islamic law.
Here are the articles that support reason no. two.
This is a short, but full article on apostasy, citing Quranic verses and hadith passages.
Sayyid Maududi, a respected Islamic scholar, in this booklet argues that Sura 9:11—12 refers to apostates and that they should be put to death (scroll down to ‘The Proof in the Quran for the Commandment to Execute Apostates’).
This Muslim website has an overview of Islam on apostates. They should be given time to repent, but if they refuse, they must be killed.
And the number one reason why sharia is bad for all societies . . .
1. Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad.
Muhammad is foundational to Islam, and he set the genetic code for Islam, waging war. In the ten years that he lived in Medina from his Hijrah (Emigration) from Mecca in AD 622 to his death of a fever in AD 632, he either sent out or went out on seventy—four raids, expeditions, or full—scale wars. They range from small assassination hit squads to kill anyone who insulted him, to the Tabuk Crusades in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his 30,000 jihadists returned home, but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews.
Money flowed into the Islamic treasury. So why would Muhammad get a revelation to dry up this money flow?
What are some of the legalized rules of jihad found in the Quran, hadith, and classical legal opinions?
(1) Women and children are enslaved. They can either be sold, or the Muslims may ‘marry’ the women, since their marriages are automatically annulled upon their capture. (2) Jihadists may have sex with slave women. Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son—in—law, did this. (3) Women and children must not be killed during war, unless this happens in a nighttime raid when visibility was low. (4) Old men and monks could be killed. (5) A captured enemy of war could be killed, enslaved, ransomed for money or an exchange, freely released, or beaten. One time Muhammad even tortured a citizen of the city of Khaybar in order to extract information about where the wealth of the city was hidden. (6) Enemy men who converted could keep their property and small children. This law is so excessive that it amounts to forced conversion. Only the strongest of the strong could resist this coercion and remain a non—Muslim. (7) Civilian property may be confiscated. (8) Civilian homes may be destroyed. (9) Civilian fruit trees may be destroyed. (10) Pagan Arabs had to convert or die. This does not allow for the freedom of religion or conscience. (11) People of the Book (Jews and Christians) had three options (Sura 9:29): fight and die; convert and pay a forced ‘charity’ or zakat tax; or keep their Biblical faith and pay a jizya or poll tax. The last two options mean that money flows into the Islamic treasury, so why would Muhammad receive a revelation to dry up this money flow?
Thus, jihad is aggressive, coercive, and excessive, and Allah never revealed to Muhammad to stop these practices.
For the supporting article of reason no. one, please go here. It also has a segment on the differences between jihad in Islam and the wars in the Old Testament. Another article on that topic can be read here. There are vast differences between Islam and Judaism on this topic.
Therefore, Islam is violent—unjustly and aggressively.
The nightmare must end. Sharia oppresses the citizens of Islamic countries. Islam must reform, but the legal hierarchy in Islamic nations will not do this because the judges and legal scholars understand the cost: many passages in the Quran and the hadith must be rejected, and this they cannot do. After all, the Quran came down directly from Allah through Gabriel, so says traditional theology. So how can Islam reform? But reform it must. It can start by rewriting classical fiqh (interpretations of law). Again, though, that would mean leaving behind the Quran and Muhammad’s example. How can the legal hierarchy in Islamic nations do this?
In contrast, the West has undergone the Enlightenment or the Age of Reason (c. 1600—1800+), so western law has been injected with a heavy dose of reason. Also, the New Testament tempers excessive punishments. At least when Christianity reformed (c. 1400—1600), the reformers went back to the New Testament, which preaches peace and love. So religion and reason in the West permit justice to be found more readily—the Medieval Church is not foundational to Christianity; only Jesus and the New Testament are.
Can Islamic countries benefit from an Enlightenment that may deny the Quran and the hadith? This seems impossible. Islamic law threatens Muslims with death if they criticize Muhammad and the Quran, not to mention denying them.
Since Islamic law cannot be reformed without doing serious damage to original and authentic Islam—the one taught by Muhammad—then a second plan must be played out. Sharia must never spread around the world. At least that much is clear and achievable. The hard evidence in this article demonstrates beyond doubt that sharia does not benefit any society, for it contains too many harsh rules and punishments.
One of the most tragic and under—reported occurrences in the West in recent years is the existence of a sharia court in Canada. Muslims are pushing for a sharia divorce courting Australia as well. Having a court of arbitration if it is based on western law and legal theory is legitimate, but sharia does not hold to this standard. Whether sharia is imposed gradually or rapidly, Canada should promptly shut down any sharia court, and Australia should never allow one. Such a court should never be permitted in the US, the rest of the West, or anywhere else in the world that is battling Islam.
It is true that the Enlightenment teaches tolerance, but it also teaches critical thinking and reasoning. Sharia cannot stand up under scrutiny. It is intolerant and excessive, and Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics teaches the West that excess is never just.
Thankfully, the province of Quebec, Canada, has forbidden sharia. This is the right initiative.
Sharia ultimately degrades society and diminishes freedom.
James M. Arlandson may be reached at [email protected]
In private emails to me or on websites, Muslim apologists (defenders) claim that the Islamic way of dealing with vices is superior to the western way, even in Islam’s punishments like flogging and stoning. It is true that the West is filled with decadence, but are Islamic countries pure and pristine through and through, as these Muslim apologists imply? To anyone whose mind has not been clouded by a lifetime of devotion to Islam, the answer to this rhetorical question is obvious. Alcohol and other intoxicants and gambling serve as test cases.
This article says that Bahrain, an island and independent sate that is connected to Saudi Arabia by a causeway, provides a ‘breathing lung’ for Saudis because this Islamic island allows the free flow of alcohol and a night life. The words ‘breathing lung’ in Bahrain mean that Saudi Arabia suffocates people. On the weekends an average of 40,000 cars line up to cross the bridge.
This article discusses the smuggling of alcohol in Saudi Arabia and says:
“Western analysts note that alcohol smuggling of the magnitude underway in Saudi Arabia —— perhaps tens of millions of dollars’ worth of illegal merchandise annually —— would likely involve the complicity of Saudi customs agents and perhaps a higher—level patron.”
This article reveals how Iranians get around the official ban on alcohol, like beer and vodka and other intoxicants, like opium. A black market has sprung up—just like the one in America during Prohibition.
This article says that even though the Taliban, the tyrants who formerly ruled Afghanistan, outlawed the growth of poppies, which are the source of opium, the leaders of the Taliban may have profited from the drug trade. The new and democratic government has a hard time keeping this drug under control.
This article says that authorities in Turkey threaten to imprison online gamblers, and this page links to a report (scroll to the second one) that discusses how Turkey must deal with the problem of monetary interest, alcohol, and gambling. It is revealing to see how Muslim religious leaders try to squirm out of Quranic laws against interest, in order to help Islamic financial institutions make money.
The purpose of these links is not to condemn Islamic countries or to assert that the West is better than they are. Facts say that the West has many problems. Rather, the purpose is to demonstrate that Islamic countries have their share of problems as well. This means that Islamic countries are also decadent. This means that Islamic punishments do not work entirely (except by scare tactics), but they can drive the sin or crime underground.