Law and Justice – are they compatible? Not such a strange question when one stops for a moment to consider it? There are thousands of laws both draconian and piddling and every country, every state, every city and town for that matter has its own laws and by-laws. It seems odd that what is illegal in one place is perfectly within the law in another. The one thing law isn’t is universal and neither, it would seem, is justice, nor the administration of punishment.Amnesty International has called for the US to stop sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole. More than 2,500 adults are in US jails for crimes committed as a child - under current rules they will never be freed. The US and Somalia are the only two countries not to have ratified a UN convention that bans life in jail without parole for under-18 year olds. Amnesty wants the US to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been in force for two decades. It prohibits the imposition of life imprisonment without the possibility of release for any offence committed by under-18-year-olds. In the USA, people under 18 years old cannot vote, buy alcohol, lottery tickets or consent to most forms of medical treatment but offenders as young as 11 have faced life sentences in the US and they can be sentenced to die in prison for their actions. These sentences are handed down without considering factors such as a history of abuse or mental health.
So let us turn now to Sharia law, God’s law, the law which so many people are trying to impose on so many other people. It was Australia’s Prime Minister who got me thinking about it and, realizing I actually knew next to nothing about it, I decided to do a little research and this is what I found: Although there are many different interpretations of Sharia, and differing perspectives on each interpretation, there is consensus among Muslims that Sharia is a reflection of God's will for humankind. Sharia must therefore be, in its purest sense, perfect and unchanging, a bit like the Pope’s infallibility I suppose. The evolution or refinement of Sharia is an effort to reflect God's will more perfectly. Something can be more perfect than perfect? The problem as I see it is unchanging perfection is simply not on the cards. The law differs from time to time and community to community so how can it be God’s unchanging law? As stated above there are many different interpretations of Islamic law. “Sharia Law is hard to define because it’s not merely a specific body of laws, nor is it merely a list of things that are prohibited or required of a society. It is more a methodology. It’s basically a way of arriving at decisions on how to live life by studying religious texts to determine divine will. Sharia law is also not just a legal system…it’s also a moral system, a structure for living life as a devout Muslim. For Muslims who are devout, living life according to the divine will is the basis for existence. Sharia law is the anchor for society for devout Muslims and it’s based on several factors in a complex web of history, religious texts, interpretation, modern influence, scholars, community, custom, public interest, regionalism and the conduct of the Prophet Mohamed. Sharia law is flexible (?) and like many systems based on analyzing ancient texts, subject to various interpretations. (?) Jurists are the people who study Sharia law and come up with the specifics on how to conduct life in modern society.” So much for unchanging perfection. What a contradiction though Islam teaches that Sharia as God’s revealed law, perfect and eternal, is binding on individuals, society and state in all its details. By logical extension, any criticism of Sharia is heresy. Muslims who deny the validity of Sharia in any way are labelled as non-Muslims (infidels) or apostates (those who convert to another religion) by traditionalists and Islamists. As such, they face the threat of being prosecuted for apostasy, a crime that carries the death penalty in Sharia. The mandates of Sharia are extremely harsh compared to modern Western standards. They infringe on many modern principles of human rights, religious freedom, and equality of all before the law and this is what scares non Muslims more than anything. Hudud punishments are the severe penalties prescribed by Sharia for offences defined as being against God himself. The punishments for these crimes are seen as divinely ordained and cannot be changed by humans. These include 100 lashes or stoning to death as punishment for adultery; 80 lashes for false accusation of adultery; amputation of limbs for theft; 40 or 80 lashes for drinking alcohol; imprisonment, amputation or death (by crucifixion in serious cases) for highway robbery; and the death penalty for apostasy from Islam. Methods of execution for apostasy can include decapitation, crucifixion, burning, strangling, drowning, impaling, and flaying. Apostates are denied a decent burial after their deaths, and the Muslims who participate in killing them are promised an eternal reward in paradise. Is this really possible in the 21st Century? Unfortunately only too true and would appear that anything, no matter how outrageous or bizarre, can be considered an insult to God so just pray when you come up for trial that the Judge is not having a bad hair day. If you are a nine year old girl caught thieving you are liable to lose three fingers. The same applies to a boy who has a little more leeway – he is fourteen before being punished. In Islam men and women are not equal even as children.