Question: "Should Christians be concerned about the idea of Sharia Law?"
Answer: First, we should define Sharia Law. Sharia is, as expressed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, divine law. The Sunnah is a record of the life and example of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Sunnah is primarily contained in the Hadith or reports of Muhammad's sayings, his actions, his tacit approval of actions, and his demeanor. Where it has official status, sharia is interpreted by Islamic judges who may be influenced by the religious leaders, or imams.
In secular Muslim states (such as Mali, Kazakhstan and Turkey), sharia is limited to personal and family matters. Countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan and Morocco are strongly influenced by sharia, but ultimate authority lies with their constitutions and the rule of law. Saudi Arabia and some Gulf States enforce classical sharia. Iran has a parliament that legislates in a manner consistent with sharia.
“Traditionally, the Islamic umma [community or nation] is divided into three regions: the territory of Islam (dar al-Islam) the territory of peace (dar al-sulh), and the territory of war (dar al-harb).… In regions such as Pakistan, Iran, and Libya, Islamic law is assumed to form the basis of government. The second territory represents regions such as India and Africa where Muslims are in the minority but are permitted for the most part to live in peace and to practise their religion freely. The rest of the world comprises the third territory, which is viewed more as an ideological battleground contested by groups with conflicting values than as a literal theatre of war. Within this territory holy war (jihad) is waged against all non-Muslims or infidels (kafir) in perpetuity until they too are absorbed into the world of Islam. … No systematic exposition of Muslim beliefs appears in either the Qur’an or the Hadith [traditions]. Instead, such exposition is found in the compilation of Islamic canon law (shar’ia), which is considered to be divinely established and enjoins on all adherents strict obedience in all aspects of life. The principal sources for Islamic law are: the Qur’an, Tradition, Consensus (ijma’), and Reason (qiyas). The Shi’ites reject the ‘consensus’ and substitute what is for them the divinely appointed, infallible spiritual guide (Imam)” (from Islam: The Way of Submission by Solomon Nigossian, Crucible, 1987).
Aspects of Sharia Law that concern Christians:
Jihad: Jihad is holy war against the infidels of the world. All Muslims are obliged to kill the infidel. An infidel (or kafir) is a non-Muslim. Many Muslims think that killing an infidel guarantees going straight to paradise.
Apostasy: All apostates are to be killed. An apostate is any person who renounces Islam and changes his religion. Christians are not allowed to convert Muslims to Christianity. Conversion is perceived as blasphemy and carries the death penalty. Distributing Christian literature can result in a five-year prison sentence under Sharia Law.
Criticism of Islam: The death penalty applies to Muslims who criticize Muhammad, the Qur’an or Sharia Law. Severe penalties also apply to Christians who speak out against Islam.
Freedom of Worship: Although Islam pays lip service to “people of the book” (other Abrahamic religions), and the Qur’an says to respect and honor all people irrespective of their religion, the reality is that some Islamic countries are persecuting Christians, targeting their places of worship, and killing and imprisoning believers. Persecution is intense in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Maldives, and other countries with a strong Islamic influence.
Female victims of rape: Sharia Law protects rapists. A woman making an accusation of rape has to provide four male witnesses. If she is unable to do so, she will be charged with zina, for which the prescribed punishment is flogging or stoning. Thousands of women are imprisoned as a result of unsuccessful charges of rape. Some are even stoned to death. On October 27, 2008, Aisha, a 13-year-old girl in Kisayu, Somalia, was stoned to death for adultery; later, her aunt told the British Broadcasting Corporation that Aisha had been raped by three armed men. Rapists are seldom brought to trial, let alone punished.
Miscellaneous crimes: Fornication and adultery: Unmarried fornicators are to be whipped, and adulterers are to be stoned to death. Homosexuality: Homosexuals must be executed. Theft: Any person found stealing is to have a hand cut off. Battery and assault: An injured plaintiff can extract legal revenge; lex talionis (“an eye for an eye”) is in effect.
Should Christians be concerned? Many people in Europe, North America and Australia are unaware of the influence of Sharia Law in Islamic countries and have never considered the possibility of Sharia Law being introduced in their country. In November 2011 the MacDonald-Laurier Institute poll of Canadian Muslims found that 75 percent of respondents want Sharia Law. In December 2012 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the imam at Australia’s largest mosque had issued a fatwa (legal ruling) against Christmas. In July 2011 Islamic extremists called upon British Muslims to establish three independent states within the U.K. There are also Muslim groups in the United States calling for the implementation of Sharia Law in America.
Christianity and Islam have opposing beliefs. Jesus (Isa) is mentioned 25 times in the Qur’an, but the Jesus of the Qur’an bears no resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible. The Qur’an says Jesus was only a human prophet and was not killed; rather, Allah took him up to heaven (Surah 4:157-158). When Jesus returns, he will be a follower of Muhammad and will kill the Antichrist, break the cross and slay the pigs. Everyone who does not accept Islam will be slain (Hadith 656). After ruling on earth for about 40 years, Jesus will die.
The Bible says Jesus is the eternal Word who was with God and who is God. The Word dwelt with man (John 1). The Bible says Jesus was crucified then resurrected and ascended into heaven – in front of eyewitnesses. When He returns, it will be to judge the world in true righteousness.
Allah tells Muslims to kill anyone who rejects Islam, converts to Christianity, or becomes an atheist. Jesus tells Christians to love Muslims because He wants Muslims to join Christians in heaven. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). Christians bless those who curse them and do good to those who hate them. This is not the way of Islam.
Christians should be very concerned about the spread of Islam in general and the impact of Sharia Law in particular. And we should always be alert to opportunities to witness to Muslims about the love of God through Christ Jesus.