Sharia law is a system of law that is believed by Islamists to be based in the Koran and the sunnah (that is, the words and actions of Mohammad).  All Islamic countries have adopted at least some sharia law principles.  Published poll results of Muslims in various countries, even in non-Islamic nations, have shown that the majority of Muslims favor the imposition of sharia law to one degree or another.  However, it is not possible to state with certainty what this imposition would look like in practice.  Sharia deals with most aspects of life including civil, criminal, religious and domestic issues but we have found no list of sharia laws that is commonly accepted within Islam.  However, some examples of sharia principles being applied today are:​​Theft is punishable by amputation of the right hand.

  • Criticizing or denying any part of the Koran is punishable by death.
  • Criticizing or denying that Muhammad is a prophet is punishable by death.
  • Criticizing or denying Allah is punishable by death.
  • A Muslim who leaves Islam (apostasy) is punishable by death.
  • A non-Muslim who leads a Muslim away from Islam is punishable by death.
  • A non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman is punishable by death.
  • A man can marry an infant girl and consummate the marriage when she is 9 years old.
  • A woman can have 1 husband, but a man can have up to 4 wives; Muhammad could and did have more.
  • A man can unilaterally divorce his wife but a woman needs her husband's consent to divorce.
  • A man can beat his wife for insubordination.
  • Testimonies of four male witnesses are required to prove rape or other sexual crimes.
  • A woman who has been raped cannot testify in court against her rapist(s).
  • A woman's testimony in court, is allowed only in property cases and only carries half the weight of a man's.
  • A female heir inherits half of what a male heir inherits.
  • A woman cannot drive a car, as it leads to fitnah (upheaval).
  • A woman cannot speak alone to a man who is not her husband or relative.
  • Muslims should engage in Taqiyya and lie to non-Muslims to advance Islam.

As mentioned, we could not find any single volume or list of Sharia laws, nor is there any single entity or body that is given the authority or responsibility to define sharia law.  While there is common consensus on some of the major issues, there is a huge variety of opinions on many others.   The various sects of Islam have differing views of exactly what sharia law demands.   It appears essentially impossible for a government to take a volume of Sharia law off a shelf and implement it.    As is true with all law-making, sharia-based laws need to be enacted one-at-a-time.   

Non-Muslims should not view Sharia law as comparable to the criminal or civil legal codes of their own countries.  There is a significant difference between sharia law and most other legal systems.  Sharia seems to intrude much further into the daily life of Muslims than any other legal system.   Sharia defines rituals and religious observance.  It deals with personal and familial relationships.  It defines limits to sexual behaviour.  It sets dietary and dress codes.   Not only does Sharia law call for inordinate intrusion into the personal lives of Muslims but it also encourages government to require non-Muslims to adhere to these intrusive Sharia laws.  Obviously, this is where the issue of Sharia comes into conflict with the interests of non-Muslims.

Increasingly, governments in non-Islamic countries are allowing and sometimes even encouraging the creation of Sharia courts.  These courts are permitted to reach decisions with little regard to the laws of the host countries.  Obviously, it becomes difficult to ensure that the civil rights of Muslim citizens of those host countries are respected in the Sharia court decisions.  Numerous conflicts have been reported in the media..

- Sharia Law