Law & Order

As AIMPLB Wants Shariat Courts In India, Here's A Look At Sharia Law

Written By Digital Desk | Mumbai | Published:


  • While countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have Shariat court, it would be a dangerous precedent to have courts akin to it in secular India
  • Shariat laws include death penalty for Muslims who convert, justification of stone-pelting adulterers, justification for wife-beating, among others.

Far from the idea of a Uniform Civil Code, which was initially envisioned for India by no less than the father of the Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the apex decision-making body on Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) in the country, has kicked up a huge and increasingly political storm by announcing plans to open Shariat courts in all districts of the country.

The AIMPLB's plan, which aims at replicating the 40 Darul-Qaza (Shariat courts) that are currently active in Uttar Pradesh in each and every district in India in order to "resolve matters in light of Shariat laws instead of going to other courts" envisions a parallel set of laws for a large section of India's population with a view to colouring justice with religion.

WATCH: 'Shariat Courts Are 100% Constitutional', Says AIMPLB's Secretary Zafaryab Jilani

Furthermore, if Shariat courts are indeed allowed to adjudicate on civil matters, the result will be the mainstreaming of a set of laws that are highly regressive, patriarchal, unequal and far from the tenets of Indian democracy.

While Shariat laws and courts, that are prevalent in Egypt, Kenya, Bahrain, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have spooked progressive and democratic countries across the globe for decades now, here are some of the best-known examples of the same. While the laws mentioned below may not always be absolute, they have all been widely applied depending on their interpretation. 

Potential death punishment for Muslims who convert

Muslims who convert to other religions are allegedly considered apostates and the act is forbidden under most interpretations of Sharia law. Some clerics view this as treason which is punishable by death. Among others, Somalia is a country where a number of such executions for apostates have been carried out.

Amputation a punishment for theft

Interpretations of Sharia law calls for the thief's hand to be cut off as punishment and there are many examples of this having been carried out.

A 34-year-old man's hand was amputated with a guillotine in Iran in accordance with Sharia as recently as January 2018 after he confessed to stealing 21 farm animals.

Punish homosexuality with death

Sharia law considers homosexuality to be one of the greatest crimes and the worst of sins, with conservative sections holding it punishable by death. Death penalty for homosexuality is prevalent in a number of countries where Sharia law is accepted with the Taliban in Afghanistan, particularly, gaining infamy for issuing such sentences.

Punish unfaithful spouses by pelting them to death

As per certain interpretations, Sharia law prescribes stoning as a punishment for adultery. The only unmarried sex allowed as per Sharia is that between a man and his slaves. In Qatar, for example, where Sharia law applies only to Muslims, people can be put to death for extramarital sex. In November 2015, a horrific incident had been filmed where a 19-year-old woman was stoned to death after she fled with a man after having been forced to marry against her will.   

Punish those who drink alcohol with lashing
Sharia law prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol and considers it to be a sin. Those committing this sin may be punished by up to 80 lashes.

In 2013, an Australian man in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to six months in jail and 75 lashes for illegal possession of alcohol. The possession of alcohol is prohibited in Saudi Arabia

Public flogging for those who gamble
Gambling is also prohibited in Sharia law, with instances of punishment including public flogging. In February 2018, two Indonesian Christians were publicly whipped for gambling as punishment under Sharia law.

Justification for wife-beating
Conservative interpretations of Sharia law cite that a husband is allowed to hit a wife.

In a landmark case, a court in Sweden in March 2018 allegedly acquitted an Iraqi man suspected of abusing his wife by citing Sharia law

Justifies Triple Talaq
Gives the husband an inordinate power to dissolve the marriage by simply uttering 'Talaq' (divorce) three times. Triple Talaq has been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and a law seeking a ban on the practice, as well as punishment for issuing Triple Talaq, is currently pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Justifies Child Marriage
Sharia law prescribes no age limits for child marriage, though it prohibits the wife living with the husband till she is fit sexually mature.

Gender-based inheritance laws
There are instances of Sharia being interpreted in such a way so as to halve the inheritance received by women as compared to that received by men.