Last night’s episode of Q&A contained one of the most passionate exchanges the program has heard in a long time.
Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie and Youth Without Borders’ Yassmin Abdel-Magied faced off over Sharia law: Lambie thinks anyone who follows it ought to be deported, Abdel-Magied argues it is deeply misunderstood.
So we thought a quick refresher might be in order. What is Sharia law? What does it say? And are there calls for it to be implemented in Australia?
Obviously, this is not a definitive treatment of the subject. As with any question of faith (and law), people may approach the issue differently and hold different views and interpretations, and that's entirely appropriate – this is just a quick background to orient your thinking on the topic.
What is Sharia law?
Sharia is religious framework for living under Islam. It is a body of religious law that derives from the Quran (the Muslim holy book), the sayings and the conduct of the prophet Muhammad, as well as rulings of Islamic scholars.
This law guides how Muslims live their lives: how they worship, how they eat, their relationships, and their financial affairs. Sharia law also deals with crime and punishment.
Elements of Sharia are present, to varying extents, in the criminal justice system of many Muslim-majority countries.
What does Sharia law say?
Given that it governs every element of human life - private and public - it’s not possible to accurately convey all the tenants of any religion, including Islam. Prayer, charity, pilgrimage and fasting are central tenets of Islam. But as with many religions, some elements of the Sharia legal framework are controversial and these tend to attract the most attention.
The most controversial aspects of Sharia relate to the treatment of women (especially in marriage, divorce and sexual assault) and the punishment of crimes.
Hadd crimes (those with a defined punishment attached) include:
- Unlawful sexual intercourse (sex outside of marriage and adultery).
- False accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse.
- Wine drinking (sometimes extended to include all alcohol drinking).