Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law

Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law

Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen

This well-informed book explains, reflects on and analyses Islamic law, not only in the classical legal tradition of Sharia, but also its modern, contemporary context. The book explores the role of Islamic law in secular Western nations and reflects on the legal system of Islam in its classical context as applied in its traditional homeland of the Middle East and also in South East Asia. Written by three leading scholars from three different backgrounds: a Muslim in the Sunni tradition, a Muslim in the Shia tradition, and a non-Muslim woman – the book is not only unique, but also enriched by differing insights into Islamic law.

Chapter 9: Islamic criminal law

Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, economics and finance, islamic economics and finance, law - academic, asian law


Islamic law has the main objective of producing and realizing and also protecting the good of humankind, whether the good is in the interests of the individual or the public, or both. To guarantee, protect and safeguard these common goods, Islam determines a number of regulations, whether in the form of commands or prohibitions. In certain matters, these regulations are accompanied by the threat of worldly punishment (in addition, of course, to punishment in the hereafter) if they are trans- gressed. It is this set of regulations that is known as Islamic criminal law (Fiqh Jinayah, at-Tashri’ al-Jina’i). However, in modern times, most Muslim countries have abandoned the full application of classic Islamic criminal law. It seems that many regard it as a phenomenon of the past. However, from the 1970s the number of countries applying Islamic criminal law slowly increased. One recent application that garnered worldwide media attention occurred in October 2008, when a 13-year-old girl, Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow, was buried up to her neck at a Somalian football stadium, then stoned to death in front of more than 1000 people. The stoning occurred after she had allegedly pleaded guilty to adultery in a Sharia court in Kismayo, a city controlled by Islamist insurgents. Since the Sharia legal system was introduced in the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria in 2000, more than a dozen Nigerian Muslims have been sentenced to death by stoning for sexual offences ranging from adultery to homosexuality.

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