Following the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, a major concern in the international community is the rights of women, as the extremist group is known to have strictly enforced “Islamic law”, or Sharia, with which they were oppressed in all respects.
The Taliban assured that they will respect the rights of women, as long as they are under this religious law. However, understanding the Sharia it can be complicated for non-Muslims, as it can be interpreted in more ways than a Constitution or the Bible itself.
What are the main aspects of Sharia?
Sharia —Or also known as “Islamic law”-, which means in Arabic “the way” or “the way that the water leads”, it is a set of moral and religious principles They fully govern Muslims in their actions.
Has as purpose help believers to guide themselves in their daily life according to the wishes of Allah. It establishes rules such as prayer, help during Ramadan, treatment of others, and even marriage, divorce, inheritance and penalties for crimes.
This is mainly based on the Quran —The holy book of Muslims-, the Hadeeth and the Sunna—The talks and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad-, the Ijma – the Islamic community– and the Ijtihad – Muslim jurists-, the latter being the ones who emit the fatwas, that is, the pLegal statements of Islamic scholars.
Sharia is relatively more complex because there are different interpretations, from the most moderate to the most radical, there are even eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence, the Fiqh, divided into the three branches of Islam —Sunitas, Shiites and the Ibadi-.
That is to say, not only does Islam transcend as a “state religion”, but it is the fundamental basis of it, whether for criminal matters, and even moral ones. Sharia it goes further into a kind of “moral primer.”
In a non-Muslim country, “Islamic law” only works as a believer’s recommendation, but in Islamic countries, it may be the country’s own constitution or substantiate a part of it, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Sharia, seen by extremists
The Taliban and the Islamic State, both extremist groups, not only led to a literal interpretation of “Islamic law”, they also imposed a strict hadd —The penalties imposed for serious crimes– where hands are amputated, people are flogged or sentenced to death by stoning.
Punishments ranged from disobeying Sharia regulations to crimes such as robbery and murder. All these kinds of crimes are portrayed in the verses of the Koran, that extremist groups interpret it literally, since for them it is the mandate of Allah.
“ANDn as for the thief, man or woman, he cut his hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for his crime: and Allah is exalted in power “, as it appears in verse 5:38 of the Qur’an.
“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger [Mahoma], and they fight with all their might to do damage through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or cutting of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the earth: which is their dishonor in this world, and a harsh punishment is theirs in the hereafter, “according to verse 5:33 of the Koran.
“Oh, you who are believers! Intoxicants and gambling, (is the dedication of) stones and (divination by) arrows; they are an abomination. From the work of Satan: avoid such (abomination), that you may prosper “, verse 5:90 of the Quran.
Although many of these penalties are applied in the Islamic world, the vast majority come with dictated conditions by the jurists of each country. In the case of extremist groups, it is a literal application of the verses of the Koran to rule the country.
Many contemporary Muslim jurists claim that the application of hadd it is not an absolute obligation, it is already in most cases it is already imposed as a maximum penalty. The Western world and human rights organizations have criticized these practices as extremist and bloodthirsty.