Ben Levitas
Ben Levitas

Sharia law, nemesis of justice

While in transit at Abu Dhabi International Airport recently world-renowned Professor Cyril Karabus from Cape Town was arrested and jailed over a child’s death that occurred 12 years ago. Although his trail is due to take place on November 20 his lawyers have not had access to the medical files and there is good reason to suspect that these have been tampered with. In the intervening period, he was tried and found guilty in abstentia and without any knowledge of the case. He is the victim of a legal system, largely based on sharia law, which prescribes as a matter of course that “blood money” be paid over to the victim’s family.

There are about 35 countries whose legal systems are based on sharia law. Countries applying strict forms of sharia law mandate death as a punishment for blasphemy. Abu Dhabi falls into a more lenient category of sharia law that would only prescribe imprisonment for blasphemy.

Two years after the misnamed “Arab Spring”, the resurgent religious parties are demanding the constitutions of Egypt and Libya be in accordance with sharia law. This is indeed a bitter harvest for a promising “spring”. Women, secularists and non-Muslim minorities who played leading roles in the Arab revolutions will be denied basic rights. Women, Christians and other dhimmis (non-Muslims) will not be able to give evidence in court, as their status as witnesses is diminished. Likewise these groups will suffer from diminished property, civic and social rights.

Writing in the Christian Post, Alex Murashko comments about Egypt: “Now the true face of extreme Islam is being unveiled to the world. The high hopes of the revolution and overthrow of Mubarak have now been replaced by the reality of another form of extremist government – an Islamist one.”

As Muslim populations grow, and as they penetrate into previously Christian or Buddhist societies, so will demands and pressures to accept sharia law. Multicultural Europe and Western societies have proved to be accommodating and elements of sharia law now co-exist alongside English law in the UK and Canadian law in Canada where for example polygamy is widely practised.

We need to interrogate whether sharia law is compatible with Western human rights or inimical to these rights. A cursory examination of some of sharia law’s principles should raise red flags, namely that: Islam commands that drinkers of alcohol and gamblers should be whipped; that an injured plaintiff can exact legal revenge based on the principle of a physical eye for physical eye; that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off; that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated by having limbs severed; that homosexuals must be executed; that unmarried fornicators be whipped and adulterers be stoned to death. That Muslim and non-Muslim critics of Muhammad, the Quran and even sharia itself, be put to death and that apostates (those who leave Islam) be killed and that Islam commands offensive and aggressive jihad against anyone who either insults or questions the Prophet.

Despite there being many different interpretations of sharia “there is (according to Wikipedia) consensus among Muslims that sharia is a reflection of God’s will for humankind. Sharia must therefore be, in its purest sense, perfect and unchanging”. This precludes Islamic law from being able to reform and change because questioning the very foundations of Islam on which it is based is blasphemy and forbidden. Because sharia eschews critical thinking and reasoning it cannot stand up under scrutiny. It is dogmatic intolerant and prone to be excessive.

The increasingly anti-Western dialectic emanating from Islamic countries has merely served to harden the stance taken in 1990 by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference that adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam in contradistinction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Islamic declaration completely ignores the protection of religious rights and freedoms, the freedom of association and of the press and the protection of democratic principles.

Essentially by subjecting all the rights to the qualification that they are subject to Islamic sharia law, all the hard-won rights of the West that grew out of the age of Enlightenment would be consigned to the dustbin of history. This would be a tragedy and travesty and a denial of human development based on reason and would subject mankind to a nightmare that manifests in many of the failed states that have adopted sharia law. To varying degrees sharia law in all these states tolerates heinous forms of human-rights abuses such as “honour killings”.

The time is past due for the West to draw some red lines to protect and hold onto the values it holds sacrosanct and defined in many constitutions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      You are accurate that there are many different interpretations pf Sharia Law – the Iranian and Saudi interpretations are as different as chalk and cheese.

      As there are different interpretations of Judaism by Conservative and Reformed synagogues.

      As there are vast differences of interpretation between Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity – had there not been Christians would also still have Catholic law and not Secular law.

    • Johan Kruger

      Right on!!

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      “Sharia must be a reflection of God’s Will”? And is not our Secular Law based on the 10 Commandments as God’d Law?

      Let me point out that in Iran the clerics support the state birth control clinics and the government has a factory producing condoms, yet they have Sharia Law! In this case I consider them more advanced than the Papacy or the USA Republican Party!

    • Lennon

      A lot of these jihadis are now in Syria trying to overthrow the government there. Under the Assad family, anyone could and (for now, at least) still can practice their beliefs without retaliation. The so-called rebels in Syria do not agree with this and also want a strict sharia-based government installed.

      The West is openly backing them, just as they did in Libya (in fact a lot of the “rebels” are from Libya) and this undermines any claims made by the West to support human rights. You might also want to ask where human rights are in Bahrain. The government crackdown on pro-democracy activists has been largely ignored by the press. Don’t they get human rights as well or will they have to wait another two years before the West decides to step in? Perhaps they ought to start waving Al-Qaeda flags, as was done in Libya, before any intervention can take place. Then again, it’ll probably never happen since Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf States have good trade connections with the West (including 100 Eurofighter Typhoons which David Cameron is trying to sell to the Sauds and the UAE at the moment) so their lack of democracy (as in Egypt until recently) and lack of religious tolerance is simply swept under the carpet.

    • Lennon

      Oddly enough, there is a cleric in Egypt demanding that all structures and antiques built by ancient Egyptians be destroyed as they were used for pagan worship. It seems that this list would include the sphinx and the pyramids.

    • Doctor

      @ben:

      What does Sharia law say about Zionism?

      In fact, what does Western law say about Zionism?

      Also, what good is any law if countries like Israel violate and contravene them everyday?

      Let us at least see the roses from the bushes.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Lennon, you can see why I don’t believe in organized religion. A good movie to watch on this subject is “Inherit the Wind” and it’s based on a true story.

    • saber jazbhay

      Do any of the morons including the author know. What is shariah? First study and familiarise yourself with this then comment and instead on engaging in innuendos be useful with knowledge and information! Other than this it useless debating with the intellecttually deaf and dead.Salaams and good luck.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, Sharia laws aren’t democratic and the people don’t have personal rights. Under Sharia law, the testimony of a none Muslim doesn’t have the same value as a Muslim. The taxes under the Sharia law are much higher for a none Muslim than for a Muslim. The women living under the Sharia laws are treated like third class citizens. A man can marry a none Muslim but a woman can’t marry a none Muslim man.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      The cleric in Egypt rather proves my point about the vast differences in interpretations of Islam, and of Sharia Law. He is only of significance if the Egyptian people regard him as such, and not as a nutty fringe lunatic. The Christians and Jews have their share of nuts as well (and I happen to include the Papacy among the nuts)!

      For example the Timbuktu Islamic shrines and records Mbeki was preserving are being trashed by the Taureg as idolatry because their interpretation of Islam is different.

      And Syria allows freedom of worship PROVIDED there is no democracy and the President’s family have all the top jobs and positions of power.

    • http://www.shariahconference.co.za GANIEF

      Shariah Law can inform the State on man of its policies rolling out over the next 30 years. South Africa does not have a Family Policy and here the shariah can add value.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      I have pointed out previously that Culture influences Religious interpretation, which is why there are so many different interpretations of both Christianity and Islam. Of the two Culture is stronger than Religion.

      The Roman Catholic Church is an obvious example. Their Culture is still the same as at the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine and their Religious Interpretation bears no resemblance to anything ever said by Jesus Christ, but is totally based on the teachings of the Roman Apostle and Convert Paul, who was not even a disciple of Jesus Christ.

      The Pope and his Bishops, in fact, still dress like the Roman Priests, the Vestal Virgins – who, however, were female, not male. Which might explain a lot of things might it not? Including their requirement for priests to be celibate as if they were the Vestal Virgins!

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      To read the real teachings of Jesus Christ you have to get hold of the writings of the disciples, all of which were left out of the Bible by the Romans because they teach Gender Equality, Individual Conscience,and confer no rights on a Priestly Hierarchy.

      They also prohibit slavery, which did not suit the Romans as the Roman Empire ran on slave labour.

    • Richard

      Lyndall – having interpretations is just fine when it comes to religion, because that’s very much a personal thing. I don’t mind what you believe [1]. I really do mind what laws you want for us both. Whatever laws a religion creates should support international law, fully. International law must support some subset of human rights, if not all of them.

      Human rights should not be a menu to choose from.

      [1] Actually, I do mind what you believe if what you believe leads you to take away my human rights. When the two clash, human rights should be the winner, every time. Change your religion if it doesn’t respect the rights of others.

    • The Creator

      It sounds very much as if this guy is a victim, not so much of sharia, as of a shakedown being committed by the corrupt government in Abu Dhabi, which is of course backed to the hilt by the West.

      Panic mongering about how the Muslims are all coming to get us does not help protect us against the real human-rights problem which exists with the Sunni extremists currently backed, er, by the West. And the fact that it comes from the chair of the SA Zionist Federation, who is using language familiar from Erik Breitvik’s weblog, shouldn’t be any more comforting.

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/benlevitas/2012/11/12/sharia-law-nemesis-of-justice/ Haroon Cajee

      Yeah , we ignorant Muslims should subscribe to the Western Legal Systems and values. Please forgive us for we are steeped in a tradition and value system that is archaic and outdated . We must move on from the values espoused in the Old Testament and all the other scriptures of God.

      I am sure its perplexing to the enlightened as we resist the values of those who have been responsible for apartheid, slavery , pillaging , looting of national treasures , the murder of 6 million Jews, in cahoots with all sorts of dictators and subjugation, torture rape and the annihilation of 250,000 innocent Japanese…and the hegemony through the use of the most destructive armed forces in the world…

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Sterling

      There is no ONE interpretation of Sharia Law, and ALL of them are more democratic than the Roman Catholic Law imposed on Europe in the Middle Ages.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Richard

      The democratic laws and human rights laws of the West ARE based on religion – on the 10 commandments.

    • Richard

      @Haroon Cajee, you may wish to look into the history of Islam before making your assertions. They are, regrettably, ignorant assertions.

    • Lennon

      @ Sterling: Having been raised with a Christian background (Catholicism specifically), I can wholeheartedly agree with you. The subtle bigotry I’ve received from certain family members with invisible friends has done nothing but add to my disgust at the concept.

      Some irony: Practioners of the Abrahamic religions, particularly Christians, show a distinct hatred for Satanism and yet Satanist doctrine (specifically the LeVayen) dictates that you should not screw with anyone in any way unless they cause you harm.

    • Lennon

      @ Lyndall: Yes, I’ve read much on Christian history, including the banned gospels.

      You’re right about Paul twisting things a bit as it’s evident in the various letters of the New Testament.

      I particularly liked the Gospel of Judas although that’s probably because it came across as an astronomy lesson. Was Yeshua perhaps an alien trying to fix our flaws? ;)

    • Lennon

      @ Saber: It is not Sharia itself that is being questioned, but rather the way in which it is abused by extremists for their own ends. It’s no different to the Christian extremists filmed in the documentary titled “Jesus Camp” or the members of the now-defunct Brotherhood of the Cross.

      Haroon: One of the values of the Old Testament includes murdering disrespectful children. You might also want to do a bit of reading on the Arab slave trade in Africa as well as the origin of the Mamelukes.

      The above is by no means a reflection on you or anyone else alive today, but it is something which sits in people’s minds just as the Inquisition or the Holocaust do.

      For anyone who just plain hates Islam, there are a few doccies which might change your views. ‘An Islamic History of Europe’ is one. There are a few others, but I forget their titles.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      If Yeshua’s mother was Mary and his father was Joseph then the bloodline going back 44 generations must have been aliens?

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      Sorry – 42 generations:

      “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the carrying away to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matthew: 1:17)

      And it would be about 42 generations now from the birth of Jesus Christ, considering a generation is usually 25 years and there are 4 in a century.

      Zuma might get “The Second Coming” that he called for, and that Yeats, Mbeki’s favourite poet, predicted.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Cajee, the Muslims were slave traders just like the Christians were for a long time. As a matter of facts, Muhammad had slaves and never freed them.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      Where did you get hold of a translation of the Gospel of Judas? I thought it was still being stuck together like a jigsaw puzzle!

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      I have always ignored Paul, as my father taught me to do. When I was still young he said:

      “When you read your Bible concentrate on what Jesus said, and ignore Paul – he was a misogynist and a fanatic”

      And my father also reminded me to remember that I had Jewish blood through the Levitts (Levis) and the Cowans (Cohens). Lucy Lindley was originally Lucy Cowan.

    • Lennon

      @ Lyndall: That’s assuming Joseph was Yeshua’s father, which the New Testament says is not the case since it claims what the Catholic Church calls the Immaculate Conception.

      So in the words of the Virgin Mary: “Come again?” ;)

    • Lennon

      @ Lyndall: I wish my copy of Judas was complete. It was apparently reconstructed, but the scroll was damaged in some places. :(

      Having read through what it does contain, I found it that it parallels Chaos and the birth of Gaea. Both creation stories seem to describe star and planet formation (clouds in space and whatnot).

      There was also a section where Yeshua was about to reveal some major secret and just as he starts it ends with “15 lines missing”. :(

      I don’t know of any complete copies.

    • Lennon
    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      Where does Jesus Christ (and not the Roman Catholic Church) ever say that he is God?

    • ReeshardF

      I would not like to be tried under a sharia legal system because the verdicts are often based on a judge’s interpretation rather than precedent.

      But this article is disingenuous.

      Blood money offers those convicted ‘a way out’ in that even if they are found guilty, they can pay the victim’s family in return for clemency. There is a degree of compassion in that, which cannot be denied.

      Also, Abu Dhabi isn’t a country. It’s an emirate that forms part of the country known as the United Arab Emirates.

      The typo in the second sentence doesn’t help either.

      Lastly, you can’t knock democracy because it has brought to power Islamists. The people have spoken.

      Just as they voted in for the ANC in SA…

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Some people don’t seem to understand the “blood money” concept which existed in tribal law of certain tribes even before Islam.

      It is up to the victim or the victim’s family whether the “blood money” is accepted or not.

      No different to Portia’s speech in “The Merchant of Venice” in response to her father’s “Am I not a Jew. Do I not bleed?”

      The whole point of this concept of “the pound of flesh” is from the concept of the body of a debtor belonging to his creditors if he could not pay his debts, but he could agree to let his creditors sell him as a slave and divide the money, instead of cutting him up and dividing the flesh, if he wanted to stay alive.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      I looked up your reference – but it is still just fragments of the Gospel of Judas. However I did find some of those fragments very interesting. The concept of only the souls of the good surviving and the souls of the evil simply ceasing to exist is something I have always believed to be logical and fitting in with the Logic of God as He created this recyclable world. Besides how can the soul of an evil man survive – there is no life spark left.

    • Lennon

      @ Lyndall:

      I’ve only found one quote: John 10:30-33 – “I and the Father are one.”

      Every other reference is either OT (Isaiah specifically) or post-Gospel NT (the various letters and Revelations).

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      The whole start of Auctioneering started in the Slave Auctions of Rome of debtors who owed money to creditors.

      Before that slaves were captured enemies who were more profitable to keep alive and make work for you than to kill.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      Jesus Christ continually said that we were all created in the image of God, and that God was in all of us, including him. Those writings of the disciples have been left out of the Bible by the Roman Catholic Church.

      Plus, even in the 4 Gospels of the Apostles (NOT the disciples) which are in the published Bible record Jesus Christ as calling himself “The Son of Man” twice as often as he called himself “the Son of God”. Plus he said that we were all the sons and daughters of God.

    • shakeer

      old system …. Holy book , Sunnah and hadith (history of and practice during the Messengers time), consenses , logic …
      new system …. Holy book , have a Heart , use your brain …..

    • Lennon

      @ Lyndall: Yes, it is fragmentary – hence my sad face earlier: :(

      What’s also interesting about the evils souls ceasing to exist is that it eliminates another Christian doctrine: that of the evil going to Hell (a pagan concept originally). As far as I’m aware, Judaism doesn’t support the notion of eternal punishment and it would certainly fit here since Christianity started out as being another Jewish sect prior to Paul (and later Constantine) hijacking it. Perhaps Ben could clarify this.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      The Gospel of Judas also seems to me to predict the Suppression of thought and science and inquisitions of the Roman Catholic Church in the same way that Matthew 7:21 states:

      “Not everyone that calls me ‘Lord,Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven…When Judgement Day comes many will say to me, ‘Lord,Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’ Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!’ “

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      Even in Black Culture the ancestors are all benign – there are no evil ones, so they don’t survive death. There are evil spirits – but the Bible says these are fallen angels and followers of Lucifer, and were never humans.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      I believe in “the Spirits”myself although I have never seen or sensed one – but my daughter, my husband and some of my friends have done.

      My Mother returned 3 times – twice to my daughter and once to my husband; and my Brother and Father were seen by total strangers.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Lennon

      My apologies – I am getting my ancestors mixed up. Lucy Lindley was a Moor. My Cowan ancestor was Jane Cowan wife of Ebeneezer Buchanan – they were missionaries in the Pacific. The Cowans come from the Buchahan/Scottish side of the family and the Levitts from the Lindley/American side.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, you sound like you been reading a lot of Steven King’s books about people returning from the dead.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Sterling

      I have not read any of King’s books – are they any good?

    • Umm Naadirah

      I’ll ignore the facts that you think Abu Dhabi is a country and that you think trail is how “trial” is spelled.

      Your views on Islam are extreme, and seem to have been coloured by Geller, Spencer, and their ilk.

      The MAXIMUM punishment for theft in Sharia is having the right hand chopped off. It is not required that this punishment be enforced every single time, any more than the death penalty in many American states is required to be enforced every single time as well.

      In fact, in order to qualify for amputation as a punishment, the item(s) or money being stolen must have been 1) properly secured and 2) not part of a larger sense of community property.

      So if I don’t lock my car and leave it on the street and someone steals it, the amputation penalty cannot be enforced at all. Or if my daughter steals from me, since she is guaranteed automatically by Shariah to inherit from me if I die before her, she is exempt from the amputation penalty.

      Furthermore, one of the Khalifas after Muhammad temporary abolished amputation of the right hand for theft due to the mass amounts of poor people needing to steal to survive, as it would have been a violation of their rights as humans to punish them for stealing to survive.

      Please note there are numerous flaws in your argument against Shariah but even 30 comments would not be enough to refute them. You would do well to take a course in logic and to stop quoting Wikipedia.