Sharia system is a religious law associated with Islam. Majority of the Islamic states abide to Sharia law, but not entirely. However, radical Islamist groups in the recent times have tried to change this perception by advocating for an Islamic Sharia law. With the current modernization progress as a result of globalization, a need to have Sharia system in an Islamic state raises concerns.
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Adopting Sharia law in a modern society is challenging considering the politics associated with the establishment of the mentioned system. The use of Sharia will continue to attract a contentious debate in the future. In the meantime, it is essential to understand the politicization of Sharia.
Globalization is a critical factor in determining the politics of Sharia (Vikor 220). The globalization phenomenon contributed to the formation of the Islamic world, as well as integration of religious, cultural and social regulations.
In this regard, the use of Sharia law as the field of law in social environments becomes difficult. Apparently, Sharia entails regulations and rules applicable in various social conditions. Modernist scholars in Islamic states argue that implementation of Sharia can violate the fundamentals of the Islamic law. In this regard, Sharia is disqualified from the field of law.
According to Islam theologians and from the religious point of view, there is no clarity on what is Sharia. In this context, Sharia is not based on the Quran, which is the ultimate authority in the formation of Islamic law. Sharia is described as shared opinion by members of an Islamic community. Modern theologians’ opposition to adoption of Sharia law in Islamic law is based on the fact that Sharia is not part of codified laws (Vikor 221).
This explains why Sharia is not a written law and does not conform to any field of law. Using non-codified law like Sharia in the modern society is impossible. This is contrary to what many countries around the world are practicing. However, radical Islamic groups still insist on using Sharia law since the codified law is westernized.
This shows how Sharia issues have caused logical and political problems. Pundits argue that integrating Sharia law into a codified system is better than discarding the entire codified law. Another argument that explains the controversial position of the Islamic state about Sharia is the unending political indifferences between the western countries and the Arab world.
The reason why Sharia is not enshrined into the codified law is entirely based on Islamic politics. Islamic scholars believe that Sharia is an explanation of God’s will, but not the legal precepts of man. The Islamic religion relies on fixed wording of God’s authority enshrined in the Quran.
In this context, Sharia becomes integral in formulating the Islamic law. Initially, the Islamic law was written by legal scholars, who developed the law without acknowledging the state’s authority. In fact, Islamic lawmakers were considered as the civil society who opposed the state apparatuses. The opposition of state apparatuses by the civil society led to conflict of ideologies as can now be evidenced between Islamic radicals and contemporary Islamic scholars.
As indicated earlier, Sharia was to be used in various social conditions. In this respect, law making scholars were required to be independent and widely travelled. Therefore, Sharia was divisive in nature since its application depended upon the ruler, the region and political ideologies of the immediate time (Vikor 231). This explains why it became difficult to solidify Sharia as the only law in Islamic world. In any case, the applicability of Sharia required state apparatus and a methodology known as the Usul.
Islamic lawmakers argue that the Usul also exhibited political problems between the Shiite and the Sunnis, which are considered as major Islamic groups. The Usul methodology entails analogical deduction of general Islamic rules, which can be interpreted differently. From this perspective, possible variants could result in a disagreement among jurists.
This phenomenon was integral in politicizing the Sharia since they lacked a unitary political authority to arbitrate the disagreement. Lack of a unitary authority for Sharia continually led to the formation of four legal systems that were different in terms of methodology and practicability. This meant that a legal system of acceptable practical regulations among the majority was applied as the law of the day. A political aspect of lobbying among the majority of scholars and jurists made Sharia a political tool.
Lack of a code in Sharia led to abuse of references made against renowned Islamic scholars. The Islamic scholars influenced the Islamic legal system and school of law. This meant that a judge would directly quote any opinion shared by the influential scholars without acknowledging facts about a case (Vikor 244).
In due time, contemporary scholars who challenged rulings made by influential scholars were disregarded as non-conformists. The application of Sharia by rulers is suspicious considering that most of the judges used to act under the ruler’s directives. Contemporary Islamic scholars argue that Sharia is an adversarial model that is strict and rarely leads to a conviction in a criminal case. This explains why Sharia does not adopt the public prosecution concept and relies on personal confessions and public opinion.
As indicated earlier, Islam cannot isolate itself from modernization. The introduction of criminal law in the Islamic law is evidence of modernization in the Islamic world. Apparently, Sharia system focuses on family and interpersonal issues in the society. This is contrary to other social aspects such as crime, business practices and politics. The secular aspect of the society requires a legal system that is moderate and not punitive on the basis of religious beliefs (Klausen 7).
The world is becoming a global village and people now move and reside in any part of the world. In this respect, fair treatment and justice for all is expected without discrimination by using religious legal systems. Pro-western legal systems argue that Sharia does not conform to international law standards and may not meet universal human rights threshold if implemented.
A modernist solution is to use Sharia system in addressing aspects such as family and personal issues (Vikor 250). On the other hand, developing a codified law that respects human rights, diversity of religion and international obligations is necessary. A political and legal initiative to adopt Sharia in non-Muslim states is recommendable (Klausen 11). This is to address issues of pertinent value to Muslim residents.
However, this should be implemented cautiously since fears of Islamization in non-Muslim states cannot be ignored. Politicization on who is to implement the new Sharia system in the modern world is a common phenomenon (Klausen 12). The reason is that the Islamic lawmakers are known to differ in terms of ideologies. Politics about the authority of Sharia lawmaker should be expected in a future debate.
Klausen, Jytte. The Islamic challenge: politics and religion in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
Vikor, Knut S. “The Sharia and the nation state: who can codify the divine law?” In the Middle East in a globalized world. Ed. Bjorn O. Utvik and Knut S. Vikor. Bergen: Nordic Society for Middle Eastern Studies, 2000. 220-50. Print.