A Journey Through Shari'a Law

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Some 1400 years after the Prophet Muhammad first articulated God’s law—the shari‘a—its earthly interpreters are still arguing about what it means. Legal historian and human rights lawyer Sadakat Kadri clarifies what Islamic law is and is not. In Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari'a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World, he describes his search for the facts behind the myths.


Sadakat Kadri

Comments [28]

"...he describes his search for the facts behind the myths."



May. 09 2012 08:27 AM


May. 09 2012 08:21 AM

Fadoobadoodoo from NYC ~

No less insane than the "Holy" Bible! or Tanakh!

Read the patriarchal, women-hating, brutal, paranoid psychosis-inspired old testament.

It's ALL a damn FREAKSHOW and despite the development of modern science, folks still buy into this nonsense.

May. 09 2012 08:19 AM
Fadoobadoodoo from NYC

Brutal religion.

Please read the Qu'ran and the Hadiths!

They're both insane.

May. 09 2012 01:51 AM
Ed from NYC

I think Churchill had the right take on Islam and Sharia Law despite its diversity.

May. 08 2012 10:50 PM
Ed from Larchmont

A good discussion but it didn't really define Shari'a. It's the social and political system which follows from the Koran and other Islamic writing for the ordering of society according to Islamic beliefs. There's argument over its details because there is no central deciding authority in Islam.

May. 08 2012 04:25 PM

jgarbuz, from Queens ~



Sorry, was somebody typing something???

May. 08 2012 02:21 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Dboy

Fantasy thinking is going to remain,whether it is belief in God or gods or spirits, or the Jedi knights in Star Wars, or in the NeverNeverLand of Peter Pan, etc., because there is what we call a "spiritual" need to believe that this cold, vast, impersonal universe as we see and experience it is hopefully not all there is. Because that is a very frightening and pessimistic thought for very many people.

May. 08 2012 02:03 PM

At this stage of the episode, is there ANYONE, here that actually needs additional data to come to the very basic conclusion that this religion as well as ALL other religions are COMPLETELY absurd?!?!?

Enough WACKO, retrobate fantasy thinking!!

May. 08 2012 01:58 PM

I met this "progressive" Muslim woman reporter at Cordoba house protest. She claimed to be working for NPR. Liberal, progressive, left-wing, PC...

She told me she understand Muslim anger with the US army present in Saudi Arabia - the land of the prophet. She said she would not care if the US were present in any other Muslim country.

Extremists or just plain vanilla Muslim?

May. 08 2012 01:57 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The word "Shia" means party or faction. The schism between the Sunna and the Shia can be almost compared to that of Protestantism from Catholicism, and each considers the other as heretics.

May. 08 2012 01:55 PM

@John A.

You had to read 3,000 messages!!!

It is funny - I only had to read one message from you to figure out your level of intelligence...

May. 08 2012 01:51 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The later ones are the ones that count - the principle of development. The later verses replace the earlier ones where there is contradiction.

May. 08 2012 01:49 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Halacha and Sharia both mean "The Walk." In Christianity it is used to mean "walk the walk," that is, to walk as did Jesus, whereas in Judaism and Islam it means to walking in the narrow path of "the Law."

May. 08 2012 01:48 PM
Ed from Larchmont

But there's also the Hadith.

May. 08 2012 01:46 PM
The Truth from Becky

Still confused by this male dominated law/religion.

May. 08 2012 01:46 PM
John A.

I've read maybe 3,000 comments on YouTube from Atheists and I believe the beheading will be unnecessary - it's already gone.

May. 08 2012 01:42 PM

Would it be fair to say that superiority of Islam is universal in all interpretations of Shari'a?

And real or perceived blasphemy is a capital offence?

May. 08 2012 01:41 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Sharia law is mostly a stultified Arabized rip-off of Halacha or Jewish Talmudic law which had developed from before the time of Jesus up to the 7th century when Islam came into being in Arabia. The major differences being that Jewish law, like US constitutional law, has been evolving for centuries and continues to be reinterpreted. But it is more difficult to reinterpret Sharia law because the the Quran itself is much less flexible than Jewish interpretations of the Bible. Both legal systems are based on Bible and Quran respectively.

May. 08 2012 01:40 PM
Ed from Larchmont

It is unique. The Crusades were a defensive struggle of Christendom and the West against Islam. But, though historical, that's not the current view.

May. 08 2012 01:39 PM
Jill from Upper West

In The Clash song "Rock The Casbah" the lyrics in the chorus include the line that sounds like "Sharif don't like it...". I have heard that Joe Strummer, a diplmat's son who grew up in the mddle east, was actually referrring to Sharia. Insights?

May. 08 2012 01:36 PM
concerned citizen from Brooklyn

It seems that there are several instances of religious law taking presidence over civil law and as I understand it, it should be the other way around. For example,all citizens have a Constitutional right to freedom of religion and freedom from religion per the 1868 14th amendment of the Bill of Rights:"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the priveleges or immunities of citizens of the United States."
Why then are religious institutions exempt from the noise code laws when it is infringing upon my right to freedom from religion when it is being imposed upon me within the confines of my own home? Because of this noise code law exemption these institutions can reach decibal levels that can be heard over a 1/2 a mile away. What about the immediate neighbors' rights? I am not challenging anyone's right to practice their religion. However, amplification - especially unregulated because of their exemption- is not a tenet of any religion as these religions have been in existence and thrived for hundreds if not thousands of years prior to the invention of electronic amplification. Traditionally, church bells, sirens, and calls to prayer were not amplified yet it has somehow become their "right" taking presidence over my civil rights as a citizen. This is clearly putting religious rights over that of civil rights which is in opposition to our Constitution.

My question: is the AMPLIFICATION of the call to prayer within the tenets of the Muslim religion?

May. 08 2012 01:29 PM
Ed from Larchmont

This is about Shari'a and Islam, please don't draw comparisons to Catholicism. No time to note the differences.

May. 08 2012 01:28 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The Church is very careful about what it incorporates from paganism: good things can be kept to some extent: Catholicism is embodied in different cultures. But much is not kept, and it's a constant effort to keep these things from creeping back in.

May. 08 2012 01:27 PM


I think it is universal under Shari'a law that non-Muslims have to pay special tax - jiziah. However, Jews and Christians are recognised as "people of the book" and, thus, are given some sort of a protection under the law.

What about atheists? Are they outside of the law and have to be beheaded immediately - on sight?

May. 08 2012 12:28 PM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca.

To clarify: what I was trying to say at the end of my previous comment was that in the completely privatised and theocratic world the Right generally seem to want, Sharia would in fact be a threat---I was not implying that Sharia proponents want that world, though I guess some of their more extreme element would, since (as Dinesh D'Sousa helpfully pointed-out) much of the American right-wing are actually in substantial agreement with Islamic militants about our modern world's evil nature*, and really should make common cause with them.

May. 08 2012 12:10 PM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca.

I am not concerned about Sharia Law's affecting us badly if 1.) we remain committed to a rigidly secular society where government coercion is never used in the service of Faith or of a particular faith based on claims non-provable in the public square, and 2.) we remain committed as a society and through the State to the freedom and thriving of all human beings, so that (for example) women are not forced to obey their families' or their religious courts' verdicts because there is an adequate welfare cushion and job-training assistance available to them in case they need to rebel and face expulsion and ostracism therefor.

This is why, for example, we should not clamp down on the Bes Din so long as they retain their policy of not trying to enforce their rulings with physical force. It is also why I think the Right have good reason to fear Sharia, because the world they want would (generally) include both use of State power to enforce religiously-based morality and (in the absence of a decent welfare state) make persons even more dependent on their families and communities, making 'voluntary' compliance not really so.

May. 08 2012 12:04 PM
Ed from Larchmont

As far as I understand, Shari'a is the application of Islam to the political and social realm. And the belief is that this application, an integral part of Islam, is the way to peace. But in Shari'a those who are non-Muslim have the choice of converting to Islam, or living with most of their human rights denied. As non-Muslims, they are an offence to God, and if allowed to live, are denied rights.

The recent foreign film from Iran showed a little of how local courts function.

May. 08 2012 06:07 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.