Page Guide: Introduction
Marriage/Divorce & Family
Women and the Sharia
Offenses and Punishments

external image Sharia.jpg
"The jurisdiction of Islamic law and the authority of its judiciary apply to Muslims wherever they may be, even in the land of the infidels. Even there, they are still bound to obey Muslim law and should be punished for violating it. Some jurists take and intermediate position, arguing that Muslim may be tried and punished for an offense committed in the lands of the unbelievers, but only when he returns to the lands of Islam, not while he is still living in the lands of unbelievers."
Lewis, Bernard. Islam the Religion and the People . Upper Saddle River: Wharton School Publishing, 2008.
(Jordyn Gibson)

Sharia is a law system followed by Muslims and is known to be Islamic Law or Muslim Law. The original text of Sharia is the Quran. Sharia was taught by the prophet Muhammad. In this form of law, it is very hard to distinguish between 'legal' and 'religous.' Sharia covers a wide variety of processes and practices that are associated with various institutions. Sharia also enclosed many ways to deal with criminal and civil issues and even religious situations that need to be addressed because of confusion or conflict. Sharia can be looked at as a vast collection of commentaries says Timothy Mitchell. Commentaries can range from thoughts on education to legal and non-legal issues. There are even commentaries on other commentaries. These commentaries are ‘central to Islamic Knowledge.’ 1

Sharia covers everything in ones daily life. Various aspects of life ranging from sleeping to politics are outlined in Sharia. For instance, Sharia forbids that you charge interest or collect interest when it comes to money.2

Countries that use Shar'ia Law:
  • Iran
  • Sudan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Nigeria
  • Egypt
  • Pakistan
  • Malaysia

There are four main schools of Sharia law:
  • Hanbali
    • This is the most conservative school of Sharia. It is used in Saudi Arabia and some states in Northern Nigeria
  • Hanifi
    • This is the most liberal school, and is relatively open to modern ideas
  • Maliki
    • This is based on the practices of the people of Medina during Muhammad's lifetime
  • Shafi'i
    • This is a conservative school that emphasizes on the opinions of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad
These schools often teach Sharia in different matters and accept different interpretations of Sharia.2

“Since the 19th century most states in the Muslim world have created centralized and secular legal systems, borrowing largely (occasionally even exclusively) from European sources. In doing so, they would appear to have either abandoned the Islamic Sharia or rendered it irrelevant to all questions except those related to personal status.” 1

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and northern Nigeria still enforce a strict version of Sharia while the majority of Malaysia has been more liberal towards Sharia.3

above page by Jason Middleton

Marriage, Family, and Divorce is Islamic Sharia

A Muslim society is very family oriented and holds dear the importance of maintaining such relations. Thus the laws that dictate Marriage and Divorce and children are somewhat extensive.

In Islam, a man is allowed to marry up to four wives. However this is binding in extreme circumstances during war when the population of women out numbers that of the men. The Quran in Sura 4:3 says:

“And if you be apprehensive that you will not be able to do justice to the orphans, you may marry two or three or four women whom you choose. But if you apprehend that you might not be able to do justice to them, then marry only one wife, or marry those who have fallen in your possession.” (Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 305)

Marrying the mother may be way of caring for the children. At the same time, the woman is taken care of by the man financially. By allowing polygamous marriages, it also helps reduce the occurrence of fornication outside of wedlock. It is recognized that both men and women have needs. Polygamy is a halal way for both parties to be satisfied while at the same time ensuring the security of a woman. However, as stated above in the Quaranic verse, if the man cannot treat all the wives equally, it is better that he not marry. For in the end, it is a financial burden as well as a spiritual one. Favoring one wife over another one is a sin and can be grounds for punishment in the afterlife.

Islam emphasizes that the society is responsible to take care of orphans. The prophet was an orphan and this is an important element in Shar’ia. When someone adopts an orphan, they are not allowed to change his first or last name. The orphan must know that he was adopted and know who his biological parents were. A family may raise him like their own son, but he must be distinguished as an adopted orphan.

Just like any other society, relationships fall apart. Sharia allows for men to divorce their wives. All it takes is for a man you say
Enti tala’ which means “you are divorced” once for the marriage to end in the eyes of god. After this, a woman is not allowed to sleep in her husband’s house. She must go someplace else until final arrangements can be made or the marriage is reconciled by an imam. However if a man and a woman divorce twice and reconcile, the third time is final and there can be no more reconciliation until after the woman marries and divorces someone else. This serves to prevent hastiness in the heat of arguments between man and wife. Divorce is not something to be taken lightly, even though the process of implementation is a mere utterance of a phrase three times over.

More on Divorce:

above page by Shereen Hamed

Women and the Sharia

“Our women are now seen as serving no useful purpose to man kind other than having children. They are considered simply as serving for pleasure, like musical instruments or jewels.” (Bernard, 112).

The Sharia serves to present many laws to keep order in society. Women and the Sharia is a very complex subject. It is very easy to learn of a few extreme instances of women being abused in accordance to Sharia law, and form a negative opinion. The Sharia is more favorable to men, and give women less rights. One way to examen it, is through guidance of the Qur'an.

According to the Qur’an:

Women as witnesses: “Get two witnesses out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her, Koran 2:282.”
According to Islamic society, a woman’s recollection is only “half that of a man”. (Bernard, 112)

Killing of a person: “The law of equality is prescribed to you in the case of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman, Koran 2:178.” (Bernard, 112)

Inheritance: “If there are brothers and sisters they, (they share), the male having twice the share of the female, Koran 4:176.” (Bernard, 112)
Before injunctions were put in the Qur'an only men were able to receive inheritances.

Recent News:
•Recently, in Malaysia, three women were sentenced to be caned, because they had “sex out of wedlock”.
•“Shariah court sentenced 32-year-old Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno to be caned after she was caught drinking beer in a hotel bar.”

external image Banda%2BAceh,%2Bwomen%2Bare%2Bcaned%2Bunder%2Blocal%2BIslamic%2Blaw..jpg

above page by Jordyn Gibson

Offenses and Punishments

The following are offenses and punishments that are specifically mentioned in the Quran:

Offenses: (Hadd Crimes)
  • Unlawful sexual intercourse
  • False accusations of unlawful sexual intercourse
  • Wine drinking
  • Theft
  • Highway robbery

  • Flogging
  • Amputation
  • Stoning
  • Exile
  • Execution

Although those are the only specific crimes and punishments mentioned in the Quran, they are not always followed. Judges can use their discretion to decide what a reasonable punishment would be, with still respecting the Quran. Honor killings, and punishment by family are widely accepted in the Islamic culture.


In comparison to many other countries, countries that use Sharia law report less reports of rape. (It is important to note, that rapes might not be reported in these countries, because women are expected to be virgins when they marry.)

Number of Rapes per 1,000 people
United States
United Kingdom
Saudi Arabia
*(Out of the 65 participating countries, Saudi Arabia was #65- which means it had the least reported rapes.)

Page By: Jordyn Gibson


Jason Middleton:
1.) Brown, Nathan J. "Sharia and State in the Modern Middle East." Cambridge University Press 29.3 (1997): 359-76. JSTOR . Web. 22 Feb. 2010. < >.
2.) Various Authors, . "Sharia Islamic Law Discussion and News." Shariah Islamic Law - The Sharia. ongoing. Web. 25 Feb 2010. <>.
3.) Robinson, B.A. "Sharia Law: A Brief Introduction." Religous Tolerance
. 17/MAR/2007. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Web. 25 Feb 2010. <>.

Shereen Hamed:
•Arlandson, James M. "Polygamy in the Quran." MSU Net Authentication . Web. 14 Feb. 2010. < >.
•Brown, Nathan J. "Sharia and State in the Modern Middle East."
Cambridge University Press 29.3 (1997): 359-76. JSTOR . Web. 14 Feb. 2010. < >.
•Landau-Tasseron, Ella. "Adoption, Acknowledgement of Paternity and False Genealogical Claims in Arabian and Islamic Societies."
Cambridge University Press 66.2 (2003): 169-92. JSTOR . Web. 14 Feb. 2010. < >.

Jordyn Gibson:

•Lewis, Bernard. Islam the Religion and the People. Upper Saddle River: Wharton School Publishing, 2008.

•"Islamization Watch". BBC News. 20 Feb. 2010
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•Hookway, James. "Malaysia Says Muslim Women Caned". The Wall Street Journal. 20 Feb. 2010 <>.


•Vriens, Lauren. "Islam: Governing Under Sharia ". Council on Foreign Relations. 25 Feb. 2010 <>.