Sharia law: an eye for an eye

What exactly is Sharia? Ask a believer and you will be told that it is “God’s” law. Now, what makes this interesting is that if you attempt to drill down into the details, you make the fascinating discovery that there is no actual agreement on it. Modernists, traditionalists and fundamentalists all hold different views, as do adherents to different schools of Islamic thought and scholarship. Even when its the same school, if you look across different countries and cultures you find varying interpretations.

Apparently God can’t quite make up his mind.

A long term goal for many Muslims is to enforce Sharia, but without being able to nail it, you end up with a specific interpretation being the goal for those who pursue this.

Anyway, why am I babbling on about all this? Well, because of the latest news out from Iran. Here are the details …

In a literal application of the sharia law of an eye for an eye, Iran is ready for the first time to blind a man with acid, after he was found guilty of doing the same to a woman who refused to marry him.

Majid Movahedi, 30, is scheduled to be rendered unconscious in Tehran’s judiciary hospital at noon on Saturday while Ameneh Bahrami, his victim, drops acid in both his eyes, her lawyer said.

Bahrami who had asked for an eye for an eye retribution in the court, was disfigured and blinded by Movahedi in 2004 when he threw a jar of acid in her face while she was returning home from work. “He was holding a red container in his hand. He looked into my eyes for a second and threw the contents of the red container into my face,” she told the court in 2008.

According to Iranian media, Bahrami’s lawyer, Ali Sarafi, has said: “A very good sentence has been given and an appropriate method has been adopted so that the convict will be blinded by few drops of acids in eyes after he is rendered unconscious.”

You can read the full story here.

So, is the observation that Islam is wicked and evil, and here is another example to make that case? Er no, that is not the reason to condemn Sharia. The first real problem with Sharia is its diversity, there is no true understanding or consistency as to what Sharia actually is; so any Islamic faction can more or less make up anything, and then impose it as “God’s” will. The second problem is that once one specific faction gains traction, it cannot be challenged or even refined. Individuals can (and do) challenge laws imposed by democracies, using evidence to refine and improve what works, and discard what has been proven to be a bad idea. However, in a culture where it is “God’s” law, it becomes in effect a theocratic dictatorship. Those who dare to question anything are told it is not the law of men, but rather the law of God, and so by opposing it, you are opposing God.

Where does it all come from? Sharia itself is derived from two primary sources. The first consists of precepts set forth in the Qur’an, the other is derived from the example set by Muhammad. Both introduce huge ethical issues.

The Qur’an is claimed to be the revelation of God give via an angel over a 23 year period, so there is no scope to challenge it in any way. The most obvious observation is that the claim is complete nonsense, it was not scripted by a supernatural entity, there is not one single jot of evidence to support that claim, so it quite clearly came from the minds of men of that time. As a result, Islamic believers are stuck with 8th century ethics and cannot move beyond that position, any attempt to do so would be a direct challenge to their imaginary God. Advocating anti-gay beliefs, and a system of thought that identifies half the human population as inferior ethically dooms such a system from the start, and yet because it is a belief driven system, it prevails and thrives within many minds.

If we also consider that the other source for Sharia, the life of Muhammad, then you need to consider the stark reality that he was human flesh and blood, just like anybody else, there is nothing special or supernatural about him – yes of course he has a special authority in the minds of believers, but there is no evidence to support such claims. His life has as much authority as your’s, the only difference is that you don’t have as many people believing that you do.

Humanity is quite clearly evolving and our ethics has not been an exception to this process. We no longer accept slavery, most would quite rightly condemn it as a truly abhorrent piece of human history. Yet, the major juristic schools of Islam have traditionally accepted the institution. A similar pattern repeats across a broad range of topics, including the rights of woman, gay rights, freedom of speech.

Sharia, needs to be condemned, not simply because some variations of it are truly outrageous, but because it is by its very nature an invariable theistic immoral dictatorship that is not open to being challenged and lumbers its adherents with a truly primitive set of basic ethics that nobody is permitted to refine and improve.

7 thoughts on “Sharia law: an eye for an eye”

  1. I’m a born muslim and i f*ckin hate sharia only if it’s in control of civil laws. Otherwise if it’s in control of spiritual individual’s way of life then it’s Ok Keep it for yourself But don’t enforce it or implement it on society as a whole. Cos i don’t want a sheikh’s permission if i want to have a sexual partner and if my woman got pregnant then i don’t want society to call my child a bastard only Because sharia says it’s an illegal child. By the way i live where sharia is in control of civil laws “lebanon” . Check How sharia discriminate : i have a british girlfriend she came to visit me So i rented a furnished apartment in a muslim posh area. How i started to hate sharia well it started when my girlfriend went to a mini market under the house and asked for beer! Then the word spread that a man and a woman are drinking in the neighbourhood So the owner called me the next and asked me “are you married to her” i said No man No , Why your asking . Well he was nice he said listen i don’t care if you wanna drink anywhere But here you have to know that if someone knew your not married to her and reported you to the “moral police” they will drag both of your asses to jail on the charges of fornication and alcoholism and maybe running a whore house! See ,sharia if implemented on society it discriminate any other point of views . Like me and my girlfriend we’ve been together for 2 years and now we are labeled as fornicators only Because sharia said So! Sharia in control of civil laws equal dictatorship. Sharia is obsolete throw it and flush it . Or shove it up…

    So the owner asked me to leave the house and he will give me my money back. So i told him i wanna call a friend of mine he is a lawyer i wanna ask him if this is true and if the police can take me to jail . I called and he said yes they can take you to jail. Here i lost the words to describe How much i hate sharia .

  2. @Billy I understand what you are saying, but it still does not address the issues raised, you still need to contend with two key issues:

    1) You claim that Sharia is a stable system and that the reason for the variation is that some scholars are manipulating it for their own liking. The problem with this is that there is no consensus on what Sharia is, you are not talking about a few rogues. It is all well documented, modernists, traditionalists and fundamentalists all hold different views, as do as do adherents to different schools of Islamic thought and scholarship. So while you might contend that your view of what it actually is might be correct, You will find that most disagree with you and would contend that your view is incorrect and that theirs is correct – there is no agreement on what it actually is. In fact there is not even agreement on how you can begin to define it, for example some believe you should look to the actions and sayings of the first three generations of Muslims for guidance, others do not agree with this. So you have a claim that it is God’s law but nobody can actually agree on what that means.

    2) You claim that “Sharia law is a stable system that causes the least amount of problems amongst societies and rewards sound ethical behavior.”. The problem here is that there is no evidence that this is true, Other belief systems make the exact same claims, for their versions of “God’s” law, and also have no evidence.

    I can also make a similar claim, but I can utilize measurable statistics. For example, in the US the Federal Bureau of Prisons has statistics on religious affiliations of inmates.
    – Catholic 39%
    – Protestant 35%
    – Muslim 7%
    etc… until you get to this last number …
    – Atheist 0.2%

    In other words, in the US 99.8% of the truly bad people who have been locked up are believers, and only 0.2% are non-believers.

    However, even that claim (based on real statistics) has a logical flaw and illustrates how easy it is to fool yourself that a specific view is correct – do you see the flaw in that claim?

    In conclusion, you believe specific things, as most people do, but do not have any evidence that it is true.

  3. Sharia law is the correct way to live. It’s just that certain scholars of Islam claim to have the correct interpretation of it, when they are just trying to manipulate it to their own liking. However, in its essence, Sharia law is a stable system that causes the least amount of problems amongst societies and rewards sound ethical behavior.

  4. @ Jeremiah – I don’t recall anyone suggesting that community service as a suitable alternative to permanent blinding. In the UK it is likely that a fairly long custodial sentence would be considered appropriate. I also think it unlikely that violent rape would be punished by a suspended sentence. You spoil your own argument with these ridiculous comparisons.

  5. Furthermore …

    Put your “refined” and “modern” code of ethics aside for the time it takes to put yourself in the woman’s –Ameneh Bahrami– shoes during and after the moment when she got a face full of acid.

    Now look at yourself in the mirror, and after you overcome the shock think of an equitative punishment for such gratuitously cruel crime.

    Would you accept he –Majid Movahedi– did 48 hours of community work, as long as the activity did not violate his “human rights”?
    Would you consider 72 hours instead of 48 hours, as “cruel and unusual punishment”?

    Or maybe accept that for him the trouble and embarrassment of having to go to court is adequate and sufficient punishment?

    Grow up people, and stop butting in and messing around with other cultures until after you can manage your own.

    If we are sooo tolerant of other religions, let them have it all. The grew up under their laws, they understand them and they live and behave accordingly.

    Please keep your “refined” libertine morally dissolute laws to yourselves.

  6. As a born and educated Catholic, some of the Sharia law aspects are not to my liking, yet when I see our “evolution” and the refining and improving of our laws just to find what works best –for the offenders– makes me envious of a culture of “Islamic believers [who] are stuck with 8th century ethics”.

    Imagine your wife getting violently raped, and the assailant getting off with a suspended sentence.

    If you can’t understand “the principle of retributive justice”, you can hardly be expected to understand anything else.

    Have you ever tried to describe a sunset to a man who was born blind?

    I will not waste my time explaining something you’re incapable of understanding.

  7. Ibn Warraq, as quoted in The Portable Atheist by Hitchens, gives a very thorough (and damning) analysis of the contradictions in the Koran, and its general unreliability as a source of the word of god (even if such an entity existed). He points out that, inter alia, there are four accepted “Schools” of interpretation of sharia law, each considered equally valid, apparently depending on where you live. So much for god’s law.


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