After Yasmmin Abdel- Magied recently came into the public spotlight, an article she wrote in 2014 has resurfaced, which responded to those who supposedly ‘misunderstood Sharia’.
Needless to say, her article is abusively dishonest, and completely whitewashes the barbarities of Sharia law.
So I will outline Abdel- Magied’s deceptions which were particularly egregious, and then post her entire piece for all to read/ gain a broader context into my analysis.
That is, if you can bare to withstand Abdel- Magied’s hubristic, fraudulent nature for just a few minutes.
Deception number 1: Abdel- Magied represents Sharia to be a fluid construct:
In her piece, Abdel- Magied portrays Sharia as a concept adjustable to the times that suit. She describes Sharia as not being a “bunch of acts and legislation sitting in a library — but more a constantly changing and evolving process to try and ensure society is lived intelligently and ethically. It was not written down in a legislative state-based form like today’s law, giving it the freedom to be able to be constantly revised and improved upon.”
Abdel- Magied’s description of Sharia as being a ‘changing and evolving process’ is an outright falsehood, given how Sharia was established and its purpose. Sharia, as set out in the Quran, the Hadiths and other Islamic texts, is the desire of Allah, whose legitimacy reigns eternally over any man- made law. Therefore, Allah’s wishes as outlined in Islamic texts, are what forms the basis of Sharia. These orders which provide the framework for Sharia law, are not something that can be changed depending on the time or season, as the Quran makes clear that it is ‘the truth of certainty’ (Surah 69, verse 51).
Abdel- Magied account of Sharia as an easily adaptable construct, omits how the doctrine of Taqlid (to follow), has formed the mainstream Islamic establishment since the 11th century. All respected Islamic interpretations which could lead to independent conclusions (Itihad) have halted since the 11th century, following the formation of varying sects and divisions within Islam. Moreover, Muslims who sought to reform Sharia, have been consistently dubbed heretics and suffered horrific fates, from ancient times, to the modern day as seen in the life of Mahmoud Mohammed Taha.
Deception number 2: Sharia law is non- political:
Abdel- Magied states; “the foundation of Islamic law was not linked to a state’s authority because at the time of its birth in the seventh century, the concept of the ‘state’ was non- existent.”
In fairness, Abdel- Magied is partially correct here, as the concept of the ‘nation- state’ did not fully formulate until after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
But the broader implications of Abdel- Magied’s claim, is that Sharia is an inherently non- political force.
This is an inexplicable lie, as she excludes the institutionalized Sharia that existed throughout various Islamic caliphates, which placed non- Muslims, women and apostates as second- class citizens.
So just because the nation- state wasn’t around in the 7th century, does not mean Sharia is a non- political force.
Moreover, what is occurring presently is also relevant, and most Muslim- majority countries employ some form of Sharia at the political level.
So to claim that Islamic law was not originally linked to a state or government authority, deceives readers as to the political nature of the Sharia legal system.
Deception number 3: Muslims aren’t seeking to impose Sharia Law over Australia:
Abdel- Magied claims defiantly that “Muslims aren’t seeking to impose ‘Sharia’ on Australia’.
Whilst the majority of Muslims do follow Australian law, this does not change the fact that other Muslims are seeking to institute Sharia into our own legal system. Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Muslim Brotherhood and virtually all other Islamist groups have long stated that their end goal is to bring the entire world under Islamic law. Which of course, includes Australia.
But while we arean’t likely to wake up tomorrow to find Sharia law ‘imposed’ upon the Australian people, changes in that direction have been more subtle.
In just a few short years, Halal certification has grown to become a multi- million dollar industry, which adheres to Sharia principles on food preparation.
Female genital mutilation is also widespread, yet is scarcely punished.
Sharia finance is also on the path to enhanced recognition, as outlined in the 2016 federal budget.
Also on the rise are self- styled Australian Sharia courts, which offer Islamic decisions in regards to divorce, inheritance and domestic violence matters. These courts often practice in isolated areas of the country, in which often illiterate women have little to no chance of formally challenging such decisions.
Likewise, in 2011 the AFIC lodged an application to formalize aspects of Sharia law. While this request was rejected, it does reveal that there is growing momentum towards establishing Islamic law in Australia.
Abdel- Magied further claims that Muslims are required to ‘follow the law of the land, regardless of who is governing’. Generally when Muslims claim this they are referring to Surah 4, verse 59, the first half of which reads: “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you”. On the surface, this appears a reasonable segment. As in the modern day, Muslims might interpret this section of the passage as a call to follow the laws of countries they live in. Following ‘those in authority among you’, could refer to the Australian government, British government or American government, and if Muslims were to do so, this could make for a relatively peaceful coexistence.
Nevertheless, for Muslims who really counts as ‘authority among you’? The second part of the verse answers this by stating: “And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.”
Evidently, Muslims are not bound to follow the ‘law of the land’, and are instead bound by higher principles of Islamic teaching.
The history of Islamic conquest with Sharia providing a means to subjugation, is also at odds with Abdel- Magied’s comments. For if Muslim armies were not stopped at the Battle of Tours in 732, or during the Siege of Vienna in 1683, the West would likely be an Islamic civilization. Clearly, it is a matter of historical fact that Islam is a supremacist ideology, which forever seeks to expand into the Dar- al Harb (non- Muslim world).
Deception number 4: Colonisation is responsible for making Sharia worse:
Abdel- Magied purports that the ‘advent of colonisation’ would ‘eventually lead to some pretty drastic changes in how Sharia was practiced and understood’.
Essentially, Abdel- Magied is implicating that undesirable aspects of modern- day Sharia were caused by Western civilization.
Contrary to these claims, current day jihadists frequently discuss returning Islam to original principles outlined in the Quran. They abhor the modernization of some Muslim countries, and view the collapse of the Ottoman empire as tragic for the Islamic world.
They also talk regularly about the prophet Muhammed, and use his example as a model for treatment towards gays, Jews, women and apostates..
“But terrorism is caused by Western occupation and colonization”?! might cry an Islamic apologist.
But even if you could defend such a claim; the Sharia model for governance undertaken by the Islamic State, its execution of gays, apostates, those guilty of blasphemy, its horrific treatment of women and disbelievers in addition to serving as caliphate for the Muslim world, is wholly contrived from Islamic teaching.
Deception number 5: Rational discussions regarding Sharia law only serves to bolster the terrorists:
I’ve addressed this lie extensively in the past, however for the sake of Abdel- Magied, I feel obliged to again smackdown such contemptible deception.
Abdel- Magied writes: “Fear-mongering around Sharia law as a “threat” to Australian society serves only to bolster the damaging and dangerous “us and them” narrative, ultimately helping no one but the terrorists themselves.”
So according to Abdel- Magied if we are to rationally discuss the negative aspects of Sharia law, this could somehow cause terrorism.
But if Islam has nothing to do with terrorism, then how would criticizing it invite further terrorism?
Repeatedly restating lies about Islam as Abdel- Magied has, does nothing to solve a problem. We saw this during the Obama Presidency, who consistently argued that Islam ‘is a religion of peace’. But for all the appeasing to the Muslim world, did this ever reduce terror attacks?
Responsible and considered dialogue concerning the detrimental aspects of Islam is absolutely necessary, if we are to diagnose the problem and ascribe proper remedies.
Deception number 6: Refusing to mention the human rights abuses under Sharia:
I have no issue with Abdel- Magied exploring the subject of Sharia in a manner which seems more personal to her own experience. This is fine.
But whether or not one considers Islam to be a force for good or evil, her article is blatantly biased, given she didn’t mention even some of the innumerable human rights abuses approved by Sharia doctrine.
This include, but are not limited to:
Abuses against Women:
- The strict segregation of men and women
- Gross injustices in domestic violence, rape, divorce and inheritance.
- Sexual slavery
Abuses against disbelievers:
- Institutional status of the ‘dhimmi’, as a second class citizens under Sharia law
- Prevented from building/ repairing places of worship
- Forced payment of the discrimanatory jizya tax
- Prevented from sitting in certain areas, carrying weapons, inviting others to shirk (Rules decreed under the pact of Umar)
- Not allowed to work in certain industries, at certain levels
Death penalty for:
- Those found guilty of breaching blasphemy laws
If Abdel- Magied omitted some of these undesirable attributes of Sharia, then this might be somewhat acceptable. But the fact that her article refused to touch on even ONE of these terrible abuses listed above, speaks volume for the dishonest, fake and illegitimate purveyor this Islamic activist truly is.
Now for her full article:
“Junk Explained: Here’s Everything Jacqui Lambie Doesn’t Know About Sharia Law”, Junkee, October 8, 2014:
The concept of Sharia law has once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons, with public fears of the unknown being amplified lately by elected members of Parliament denouncing the Islamic way of life as a danger to Australian society. Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie has come out strongly against Sharia in recent weeks, saying it “obviously involves terrorism” and telling Muslims who follow it to “get out,” despite not having a huge amount of knowledge on what Sharia law actually is.
Lambie’s not the only politician to use Sharia as an all-purpose boogeyman; in 2006 then-Federal Treasurer Peter Costello said that there was no place for Sharia in Australia and that to live in Australia “you do have to believe in democracy, the rule of law and the rights and liberties of others,” strongly implying that Sharia advocates otherwise.
Since Lambie’s outburst there has been a spate of ‘explanatory’ articles that have shed some light on what Sharia means for the modern-day Muslim. While these have explained part of the picture, it is important to also understand the origins of Islamic law and how it’s changed over the centuries; what most people don’t know is that the misappropriated ‘Sharia’ invoked today by extremist groups and regimes is radically different from the original product, not least as a result of Western colonisation and modern imperialism.
So here it is: a comprehensive, contextual rundown of what Sharia law is, what practising it looks like, and how it was shaped into what it is today.
What Even Is Sharia?
The word “sharia”, taken literally, is Arabic for “path” or road to a watering hole or place of salvation. The five universal principles that underlie Sharia are ‘protection of life’, ‘mind’, ‘religion’, ‘property’ and ‘offspring’; rulings in Sharia law are based around the protection and promotion of these five areas and, logically, decisions that see their degradation are fundamentally unIslamic.
In practical terms, traditional Sharia is quite unlike any “legal system” as we understand the term in the modern West — a bunch of acts and legislation sitting in a library — but more a constantly changing and evolving process to try and ensure society lived intelligently and ethically. It was not written down in a legislative state-based form like today’s law, giving it the freedom to be able to be constantly revised and improved upon. Sharia was kind of like Java; you need it for everything, but it was always being updated.
Perhaps most importantly, the foundation of Islamic law was not linked to a state’s authority because at the time of its birth in the seventh century, the concept of the “state” was non-existent. Rather, it was about finding a balance for society through a combination of rationalist thought and religious morality, determined by knowledgeable members of the community rather than any government or set of rulers.
Because Sharia relies on a large element of interpretation, finding an answer to any one question can be very difficult — at any one time there can be a number of different interpretations of the same set of facts — but this interpretive element allows for a healthy amount of legal pluralism, giving Sharia the flexibility to be relevant to all times and places as long as it adheres to Islam’s original principles.
Where Does Sharia Law Come From, And What Does It Cover?
The main sources of Sharia law are the Islamic holy book, the Quraan, and the Prophet Muhammed’s (Peace be upon Him) sayings and actions, known as the ‘Sunnah’, from which Muslims derive their understanding of how to live a good life. The Sunnah are explicit and largely general, like “pray” and “don’t pray while drunk”.
The practical detail for Islamic law, which goes into a bit more detail, comes from different interpretations of the Quraan and Sunnah and sits under the banner of jurisprudence, or ‘usul al-fiqh’. Usul al-fiqh covers quite a lot, but it essentially means interpreting the broad rules set out in Islam’s two main legal sources into law that is relevant to the current time and place.
This interpretation takes the form of two main methodologies — consensus and analogy. Consensus refers to the agreement of the learned community on particular issues, largely retrospectively; for example, the standard number of extra prayers Muslims pray during Ramadaan (the month of fasting) was a result of consensus. Analogies are about making common-sense judgments based on what is already known — “don’t drink beer because wine is prohibited”, for instance.
The laws themselves are broadly split into two types — laws relating to an individual’s relationship with God (ibadat) and the laws that govern society (muamalat) — and can be further categorised into four fields: ‘rituals’, ‘sales’, ‘marriage’ and ‘injuries’. They cover almost everything to do with how Muslims live their day-to-day lives. Prayer, fasting, food and drink are covered in the first category, followed by sales, loans, cultivating wasteland, and shares in the second. The third looks at marriage, familial support and custody rights, while the fourth illustrates the laws of war and peace, homicide and the Quranically regulated infractions.
The rules about individual actions — ibadat — are pretty uncontroversial, and by following these rules Muslims in Australia practise Sharia without infringing on the rights of others. The rules that govern society are what come to mind when “Sharia” is generally referred to in the media. One of the main rules of this part of Sharia law (which you probably haven’t heard of) is that Muslims must follow the laws of the land they are in, regardless of who is governing. By following the ‘law of the land’ — Australia, for example — Muslims are following Sharia. Muslims aren’t seeking to “impose” Sharia law on Australia — they’re living and practising it already, despite inflammatory and inaccurate depictions to the contrary.
But Sharia has changed over time, and if we’re going to properly understand it, it’s important to examine when, how, and why that happened.
Colonisation Changed Everything, Including Sharia
The advent of modern colonisation, starting with the British East India Company (EIC) and the Dutch entering India and Indonesia in the late 16th and 17th Centuries, would eventually lead to some pretty drastic changes in how Sharia was practised and understood. With the arrival of the colonisers in predominantly Islamic communities came the concept of the nation-state — and with it, codifying (translating and writing down) laws. The colonisers viewed Islam as a threat to the system and civilisation they understood, and began thoroughly remodelling Islamic legal systems.
Started by the Governor of Bengal Warren Hastings in the 1770s and followed by the Dutch in the 1880s, western powers began separate projects to translate, write down and convert the Sharia — as they understood it — into written law. In doing so they turned Sharia’s fluidity rigid, and hollowed out the interpretive core that Sharia law depended on. Islamic law became unable to do what it needed to do to function.
What’s more, this process actually wound back progressive aspects of Islamic law to conservative Western standards. Sharia and Islamic law had bestowed women with rights and privileges that were advanced and equalising; when the laws were translated into colonising languages, those nuances were removed and the patriarchal colonising culture prevailed, writing the rights women had enjoyed under Sharia out of the system entirely. The “Sharia” notion that a man is the head of the family to be obeyed without question was a post-colonial inclusion that completely changed the original intention of the Islamic ruling, and Governor Hastings, along with his counterpart Governor-General of India Charles Cornwallis, felt like Islamic law allowed criminals to escape punishment too easily, complaining that Sharia was “founded on the most lenient principles and on an abhorrence of bloodshed”.
Given Islamic law’s current reputation, this is kind of ironic.
Sharia law may sound foreign, especially if you don’t know much about it, but it doesn’t need to be feared. At its essence, it’s about finding a way to live a good life, and by practising as Muslims (praying, fasting, eating good kebabs), millions of people around the world are following Islamic law without coming into conflict with the law of the land. By and large, Muslims are well accommodated in the current legal system and there is no reason why this should change. Fear-mongering around Sharia law as a “threat” to Australian society serves only to bolster the damaging and dangerous “us and them” narrative, ultimately helping no one but the terrorists themselves.