Is Sharia law cruel?

I am a peace-loving person by nature. I simply hate, hate, HATE violence. I can’t stand it. I can’t watch gory things. I know Islam is peaceful. But people have told me that I’m so brainwashed that I can’t understand that Shariah Law is really not the right thing. Please note that I’m not saying Shariah Law isn’t the right thing, I’m just confused at what my feelings are.

I’ll get down to the questions. Please understand however, that these questions are of curious nature, and not to offend people or try to refute Islam. I’m simply keeping an open mind when asking so I can answer others and so I can be contented; I’m asking it the way others have asked so blatantly, so it’s more relatable. Forgive me Allah, if I have transgressed.

Bless your heart, sister. There is no sin in asking. When God Almighty told the angels that He was about to create Adam, they asked why! They said,
“Will you put in it (the earth) whom will corrupt in it and shed blood?” (2:30)

God did not chastise them. He simply told them that He knows what they do not.

Dr. Jeffrey Lang put it well in the title of one of his excellent books, “Even Angels Ask.”

1) Why does Shariah Law have to be torture before death?/Painful death?/Death in a very painful way?

The only penalty that involves pain before death is crucifixion for Hiraaba (terrorism), as stated in 5:33. Terrorists do not deserve any mercy. The pain they cause their innocent victims deserves to be returned likewise. You do not have to watch the crucifixion of terrorists, but only to know that they have been justly punished.

2)Why does Islam practice an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ in these matters? Isn’t that a vengeful way out? Forgiveness in Islam was also heavily emphasized. I would think that a hurt family member would have wanted the killer killed.

Family members of a murder victim are offered three choices: (a) kill the convicted murderer, (b) take a ransom, or (c) pardon the murderer. That is Sharia law. The choice is not the judge’s or the jury’s, it’s the murder victim’s family’s. This makes provision for families who are unable to forgive. It also makes provision for families who will benefit more from punitive damages. It also does not leave out the pardon option you are looking for.

3)I’ve heard the church burnings of before were done to save the burning person from the even more dangerous “fires of Hell.” And then they say Islam wants the accused to be saved from an even greater danger (Hell), which is why the rapist for example, has to be set to death.

Nonsense. Rape is terrorism and adultery combined. The punishment for terrorism is one of four, as clearly stated in the Hiraaba verse, (5:33): (a) Killing, (b) crucifixion, (c) severing a hand and a foot on opposite sides, or (d) permanent deportation. The choice is left to the judge and is based on the severity of the crime. If the punishment for a rapist was death, that does not mean he is saved from Hell. That is God’s decision to make.

4)Why are apostates killed? Freedom of religion is emphasized in Islam, so why is there an apostasy rule? There are answers in my head, but I still can’t comprehend it.

They are not. This is one of the misconceptions about Sharia. There is no punishment for apostasy. See the posts in the Apostasy category for details. You are right; freedom of religion is guaranteed in Islam and mandated by God in the Quran.

5)Islam cannot change its rules. I accept Shariah Law, I guess, but it’s easier said than done. If I saw it with my own eyes, being carried out, I’m very scared of what will happen to my faith. Any way of understanding the wisdom behind Shariah Law?

Don’t see it. Most people are like you. The few penalties in Sharia that are tough are tough for the reasons I mentioned above. The punishment must suit the crime and there must be a visual deterrent to potential criminals who do witness a penalty carried out.

6)What does “stoning” mean?

It means throwing stones at someone until he or she dies. It is a Jewish custom that crept into Muslim society and it has no basis in Islam. It is another misconception about Sharia. Read this post for details, also check out the Misconceptions and Islamophobia categories, where many of your concerns are discussed and clarified. There is a lot of misunderstanding, even among Muslims, of what Sharia includes and doesn’t include.

7)Why doesn’t Islam offer rehabilitation for homosexuals? I’m not making my own rules, btw. Why is it stoning instead? What is the validity of this:

“Maududi vol. 2, p. 52, note 68):

. . . Ibn Abbas ruled that they be thrown headlong from the highest summit.”

The punishment in Islam for male homosexuality is discipline, not death, as clearly stated in 4:16. Any fatwa saying otherwise is in contradiction to the Quran, and therefore must not be considered. In fact, rehabilitation for homosexuals is precisely what the Quran encourages. In 4:15, God says that female homosexuals are to live under house arrest “until God makes for them a way out” (4:15). The house arrest gives rehab a chance. It also saves the women’s dignity and privacy and saves their families honor. Many exegetes have interpreted the “way out” as proper marriage. As for male homosexuals, 4:16 clearly states that if the two men repent and reform, then Muslims must not bother them anymore. That’s rehab, isn’t it? And it’s a far cry from killing them, wouldn’t you say?

Please understand that it is not my intention to mislead or offend, nau’uzubillah (seeking refuge in God from such). I myself have no proper knowledge on this matter. I believe in Islam; it has far too clear a message to ignore. I am trying to learn, since a lot of websites do not explain this matter satisfactorily to me. They don’t give proper reasons, therefore this doubt lingers on. May Allah Forgive me if I’ve said anything wrong.

Don’t stay in doubt and don’t settle for bad or half answers. I hope that you read my humble answer and that it is clear enough for you. Islam and its Sharia are innocent from the lousy interpretations Muslims and others have made of it.

5 Responses to “Is Sharia law cruel?”

  1. Aapa says:

    Let me try to put a different spin on this.

    The Law of Allah can never be cruel. It is the Law of Allah. It is just.

    Now..for Believers like me the Law lets me know the limits of what I can and can not do. This is it.

    Thus for most Believers the strict penalties that you are asking about are just laws; we are aware of them but most never transgress the limits. Most are safe.

    When we enter Islam it is more than words. We need laws to govern people. Think of what happened when Musa left for a couple of days…those guys went plain simple crazy…in the middle of a desert these guys are partying to the point of melting gold….yeah we need laws.

    Islam covers a lot of territory. We have culture and nationalistic agenda and who knows what under the umbrella of Islam. Some groups adopt very strict interpretations of the law. Often they do it becasue they do not question the law.

    Allah has given us the brain to think. We are to be held accountable for our actions on the Day of Judgement. And He has told us if we wish to forgive it is better for us. The choice is ours.

    And to ease your thinking do not compare it to western law. Western law has the guiding principle of precedent. That is dangerous. A man can steal billions of dollars and serve no time in prison. A man can be innocent but because of the color of his skin he spends 25 years behind in bars in prison..Alhumdullila, he became Muslim.

    Hope it makes sense.

  2. Aapa says:

    In reflection what many forget when they compare Islam to Christianity is the Law of Retribution. It is in both faiths.
    Western law is written from the coda of Jewish law. Therefore we cannot accurately use the term cruel as an adjective. I hope I am making sense.

    • noclash says:

      I don’t think the issue of the question was comparing religiously based laws to see which is more cruel. I think the question was whether Islamic law is cruel in the absolute, or at least compared to what local laws people have settled on in modern times.

      The standard of cruelty, obviously, varies from one person to the next. Many people oppose the death penalty no matter what the crime. For such people, Sharia law looks cruel in some of its penalties and there is nothing I can say that will persuade them. That’s why I emphasized to the sister who asked the question, that pardoning a murderer is something that Sharia allows. Those who are opposed to the death penalty may elect that option (or take the ransom).

      Likewise, the Hiraaba (terrorism) penalty. The judge can enforce the toughest option available, the capital punishment, or elect the more lenient options, such as deportation. God does not say which option to use when. It was the scholars who postulated about that.

  3. Aapa says:

    Who is a judge to implement Sharia. Can women become judges. And how radically different is the penal code. Are there hundreds of volumes to glean rulings?

    • noclash says:

      Sharia is a complete legal system. It takes students many years just to learn it, and then it needs to be practiced. Just like the legal code of any country. In fact, most Western legal codes got their start by inspiration from Sharia.

      A judge who will implement Sharia must be well versed in the Quran, the Hadeeth and Usool-ul-Fiqh (deduction discipline), in order to arrive at rulings and laws that are truly founded on Islamic teachings and not people’s opinions. Precedent can play a role, if it’s been found beneficial and stood the test of time.

      Since those qualifications have nothing to do with gender, a woman can be as good a judge as any man, or better.

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