Shari’ah Conference


I just attended a 2-day conference organized by Leiden University about the Shari’ah in modern Muslim countries.  It was really interesting, and two authors I really like were there: Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Abdullahi an-Naim.  I think my next few posts will be about the conference and what was discussed there.  Overall it was really interesting and enlightening, and also encouraging to see so many Western scholars discuss Islam in such positive and passionate terms.

The main point made by almost all scholars is that there is no such thing as “shari’ah”.  Shari’ah contains contradictions, differences, etc because it is created by man and thus is not unified.  This means that any country that wants to implement Shari’ah has to first choose what type they want to implement, and why.  Moreover, whenever 2 Muslims say “shari’ah” they could mean completely different things.

Ziba Mir-Husseini

Mir-Husseini, who is Iranian, has a very negative view of the implementation of sharia’h in Iran, where in effect it is used to control women and public morality.  I completely agree with her that it seems that much of shari’ah is concerned with disciplining and controlling women and their sexuality, obviously since so many Muslim men are afraid of the “fitnah” women are capable of causing.  I wonder why so much of the shari’ah focuses on this, since it is not the main point of the Qur’an nor the sunnah.

What do you guys think about that?

And who is following the World Cup? I’ve managed to watch lots of it so far, and it’s crazy that so many of the big teams are playing so bad.  Holland is playing today, as well as Italy, so hopefully they’ll manage to stay in, unlike France.  Who are you supporting??


16 thoughts on “Shari’ah Conference

  1. That conference sounds really good! I’ll be eager to read more of your posts about it. I totally agree that shari’ah’s flaw is that it’s subject to interpretation. If you have a liberal in charge, the law will likely be less stringent than if a conservative gov’t (like KSA) is in charge. Apparently there is no ONE set standard so it’s rather dangerous. I don’t like one person being in charge with all the power. Power goes to people’s heads and often corrupts them unless they make an effort to realize they are first accountable to GOD for all they do and secondly servants of the people. They are not in power to get privileges and exceptions to the rules!

    World Cup — it’s not so big in the US, but I have enjoyed seeing our guys stay alive. Who knows how long that will last, but at least they defeated Algeria and advanced to the knockout round. Unlike France and Italy…which was a shocker today!

  2. Of course shariah changes trhough time (not sunni so much as ijtihad was stopped 1000 years ago) but, there are certain aspects that dont change. Like the laws that we have recieved from the Prophet or the imams, as they are law for us. As for this iranian woman that disslikes the sharia of suggest you go to Iran and see for yourself.
    Women dont wear the veil as they should, they have parties at home, with drugs, with alcohol..and the state doesnt get involved..but if you do it openly, yeah then you might get in trouble.
    Before the islamic republic hardly any women were studying at over 62% of the students there are women..I would not trust iranians who speak about iran and live in the west too much..
    So many groups are against the iranian revolution that you wont get much info that is right or honest from iranians in exile.
    Compare the sharia laws of the wahabis in Saudi with those in Iran. In Iran there are taxis that are driven by women and they drive only women, in saudi you cant even get to drive if your a woman.
    Iran has vice presidents that are women and so forth.

    • To be honest I think many Iranians inside Iran are just as disillusioned by the Islamic Republic. Too many promises were made that have not been fulfilled, and the gov’t has now turned into a tyrannical force that is very un-Islamic.
      Arresting women for not wearing hijab properly is ridiculous, and goes against freedom of religion, which I believe the Qur’an and Prophet protected.

  3. I find it interesting that anytime “shariah” is implemented in a Muslim country it usually seems to be of the strictest variety. On the surface it may seem that the weakness of the “shariah” is that is so open to interpretation, but therein lies the beauty and fluidity of Islam and the laws that govern it. The question in my mind is: “Are Muslims aware of the difference of opinion and willing to engage in an open and honest discussion regarding the differing interpretations?” Unfortunately, the resounding response seems to be NO!
    It’s also baffling to me why so much of the shariah (as it is known in places like Saudi or Taliban Afghanistan) focuses on women. I don’t get it. Where does this inherit need to control women stem from?
    Anyway, World Cup fever is definitely in my house. I love sitting around the TV yelling and screaming in excitement at a goal or near miss or in the case of the US, terrible refereeing. I also love love love watching the fans. World Cup soccer is definitely getting more press here than ever before. We now have 2 or 3 generations that grew up playing soccer, so I think that accounts for alot of it.

    • It’s so true that it is always the strictest forms of shari’ah that seem to get implemented. Typical!
      I think so much of Shari’ah focuses on women because it is an interpretation by men, whose aim is more often than not to control women and sexuality. Thus we see an obsession with controlling women and covering them up, as obsession that I definitely don’t see in the Qur’an.

  4. I was going to write a big reply to this but now you’ve made me sad by mentioning the world cup!!! Australia didn’t do too well so I’m pretty devastated lol! 😦

  5. Sharia law IS mainly concerned about women instead of God – there must be some basis for this somewhere although to date I have found none.

    I also dispute the “some places are worse” argument – just because there is a worse way, doesnt make a wrong way any better. Yan’i I can say, my husband slaps me, but actually its ok because my sister’s husband punches her! The Iranian system is repressive – just because Saudi is more repressive it doesnt make it OK Although people are flouting the law in the privacy of their own homes, it doesn’t mean that they are not repressed: their freedoms and actions are still illegal.

    Sharia has become a dangerous, dangerous tool that is used to control all people (not just women) – I sometimes doubt the genuine-ness of these leaders who petrify the entire nation in the name of Sharia.

    Its got to be changed and answerable – Sharia should be part external regualtion and part internal beliefs and intentions – you cant force people to fear God or be pious

    Re World Cup – definitely glued to the TV here in England where we are all football crazy most of the time….Cant believe Italy;s out! What a shock!!

    • “Sharia law IS mainly concerned about women instead of God – there must be some basis for this somewhere although to date I have found none.”

      I think the basis can be found in patriarchy and its basis of repressing women and sexuality. I’m pretty sure the basis is not in the Qur’an, or at least, I haven’t found it there yet.

      I agree 100%: you can’t force people to be pious! When will people realize that?!

  6. sounds like a thought provoking conference, which deserves credit for allowing some open thought on this subject. It seems that those most interested in sharia law, want to use it to control people, especially women. Strange how sharia was not needed nor practiced during the time of the Prophet (saw). As a Muslim woman I would certainly be afraid to live where life changing decisions can be made on the whim of some man’s interpretation of Islamic law. As for the argument made about Iran, the corruption of the society and it’s internal social problems are a result of the extreme restrictions that were placed on it. Same thing in Saudi, it’s no secret that depraved things often go on behind closed doors. I believe that the Prophet (pbuh) warned us of the dangers of leaning to far to the left or right and advised us to take a moderate path. Why is it that some Muslims are so consumed by their desire to control the actions of others? The final judgement will be with Allah. These type of people, in any faith, are very scary.

  7. I can’t wait to hear more about this subject! I ignore anything that mentions Sharia (unless it’s trying to critisize it) because I really think it’s a load of crap. There are so many different interpretations on different things and I believe we should all be allowed to chose the one we believe in without doing anything illegal. I believe in laws, but Sharia goes so far! I think we should be able to say that a person makes his or her own decisions (when it’s on a questionable issue with different interpretations) and will deal with the possible consequences with Allah himself when the time comes.

    • I agree. I do think, however, that if we had a more liberal Shari’ah then many Muslims such as myself would have no problem following it. Unfortunately we always end up with the strictest most patriarchal forms.

  8. CLA, I thought of you just now as I read this.

    “It’s something like a holy war on haircuts . Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has issued a directive banning ‘decadent’ hairstyles for men, restricting barber shops to only certain kinds of cuts. The primary target: spiky, gelled hairdos associated with rebellious youths, corrupted by Western influence. It’s a style that was commonly seen on the front line of last year’s post-election protests. ”

    What do you think? My opinion is that a nation has gone too far in regulating when it restricts barbers from giving certain kinds of cuts and prevents people from wearing certain hairstyles. I say maybe the MEN should be required to cover their hair like the women are! 🙂

    • Wow, just when you thought things couldn’t get worse!

      Iran has certainly gone too far in regulating, even before this ridiculous move. What on earth are they thinking?!

      I have always wondered how men would view hijab/niqab if THEY were forced to wear it! I’m sure the more liberal interpretations would come out of the closet right then and there -___-

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