Vice President, Center for Security PolicyThere is a term which you may have seen or heard mentioned in the news, the blogosphere or on talk radio lately that you should know more about: Shariah. (Sometimes spelled Sharia or Shari’a, as well as some other variations.)
Background: What Exactly Is Shariah?
Polling done by Family Security Group back in 2008 indicated that only 3% of Americans were even aware of the term Shariah—and an even smaller percentage actually knew what it was.
So we will begin with a basic description of Shariah.
Shariah, often referred to as “Islamic Law,” is in actuality a legal doctrine based on the Quran and Hadiths (sayings and acts of Mohammed), but one which goes far beyond what Westerners would regard as religious matters or routine legal matters.
Shariah covers all aspects of life, including criminal law, domestic law, statecraft and warfare (Jihad). Shariah encompasses personal ethics and legal issues, religion and state governance, this world and the afterlife. Shariah is said to enforce the will of Allah, as opposed to the will of humans. Shariah regulates belief, speech and religious practice, criminal and legal matters, and other fields including finance and war. There is no such thing as a separate secular authority or secular law under doctrinal Shariah, since religion and state are not distinct, but are one.