Jul 14, 2006

Shari'ah--Muslim Law

I first learned of "shari'ah" at a pro-life conference sponsored by Fr. Paul Marx. He invited a Muslim spokesman, a California doctor (if I remember correctly), to attend because Islam also opposes abortion. The Muslim doctor talked about Islamic opposition to abortion. His speech clearly promoted respectability for Islamic teachings.

A Catholic Bishop from Nigeria, Africa was visibly ill at ease. He peppered the Muslim doctor about why Muslims attacked Catholics in his diocese. The Bishop said Muslims were trying to impose Shari'ah--Muslim law--on non-Muslims. The doctor responded that this was not the way of Islam, that Islam allowed freedom of conscience. The Bishop pressed on, "There is no Islamic country where Christians have freedom of religion. What Islamic country follows the good principles that you have outlined in your talk?" The doctor seemed non-plussed and answered "Switzerland" and the room erupted in laughter at the ridiculous answer.

Some of the precepts and punishments of Shari'ah:
- The killing of the enemies of Islam is encouraged (fatwas and jihad)
- Theft is punished by cutting off hands
- The eating of pork is prohibited
- The legal status of women is minimized
- Husbands can divorce their wives by "I divorce you"
- Women may not be prominent in the public world
- Women must cover their hair
- Husbands may physically discipline their wives by beating them
- Females are genitally mutilated
- Conversion of a Muslim to Christianity is punished by death
- Freedom of speech is restricted
- Public practice of Christian religion is severely restricted, if not forbidden

Northern Nigeria is a good example of Islamic repression of non-Muslims. The harsh code of Shari'ah has resulted in brutal punishments for minor infringements. For example, a woman who rides a bicycle can earn a flogging. Many Christian women have been brought before Islamic courts charged with non-compliance of the Muslim dress code . Female students at the University must wear Islamic-approved dresses to sit for exams or they will be expelled. Female nurses have been fired for not changing their nurse uniforms for Islamic attire. Other Shari'ah approved discrimination occurs in education, freedom of speech, employment, access to the media, and in the provision of burial sites.

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