So by their fruit you will know them. – Matthew 7:20 ESV
Today in the media there is a lot of talk about Sharia law and its potential role in America. Most Muslims today define Sharia as God’s law. It is found in the Qur’an and the Hadith (the traditions of Muhammad and Islam), and it is the way they should live because it is God’s way. They maintain that they as Muslims should be given the right and the opportunity to practice Sharia here in the US. That’s when this becomes a complicated issue.
The word Sharia is simply the Arabic word for law (literally “way” or “street”).
But there is no simple, single form of Sharia. Muslims are divided into Shi’ite and Sunni, plus many other cults and sects, and each of them adds or removes portions, forming their own Sharia law. So, when someone is talking about Sharia, it is seldom easy to understand exactly what he means.
It is important to understand that Sharia law is based on the life of Muhammad in 7th century Arabia, on the traditions of Muslim leadership, and on modern Qur’anic teaching. A primary Sharia teaching is that Islam is a superior religion in every way because it is the only true religion. Islam is based on its law and therefore Sharia (however that is defined) must be upheld and perpetuated.
Typically, the first losers in Sharia are Muslim women. It binds them into marriages, into relationships, or activities that primarily pertain to 7th century Arabia’s definition of the role of women. Next, the Muslim minorities under Sharia often have problems. Under Sunni laws, Shi’ites often suffer, and vice versa. Sharia also segregates people according to religion, usually defining Jews and Christians as second-class citizens. They often must pay special taxes and report to Muslims. This is a kind of religious apartheid.
Remember, Sharia is law – a legal system in its own right. Therefore, it often runs into problems with democratic law because it does not give equal rights to everyone. It is not a coincidence that Islamic countries tend to be the most closed countries in the world. Christians may be allowed to have a worship service and a building, but that is it. They cannot multiply their buildings, distribute Bibles or propagate the faith. Muslims can be punished by death if they choose to leave Islam and join another religion.
So, what are we to do with all this talk of Sharia in the news? Pray.
Pray that imams and Muslim leaders will come to faith in Christ, finding real freedom rather than the bondage of Sharia. Pray that God will raise leaders, particularly in the 10/40 window, who will be supporters of a democratic system, where people are allowed freedom to choose their religion. This is something that we appreciate as believers in Christ, because Christ invited people to “Come, follow me.” He did not compel or force anyone to follow Him.
Pray that Christians rise up and share the Gospel with many Muslims, many of whom don’t know the words of Jesus. They don’t know that Christ has come to give peace of heart, peace of mind and peace of society.
This article originally appeared in a 2011 Crescent Project newsletter by Fouad Masri