What Is The Controversial Islamic ‘Sharia’ Law, And In Which Countries Does It Apply?

The Shariah is Islamic law, which is part of the faith arising from the Qur’an and the Hadith, the sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad. Its application is currently the subject of dispute between conservative and liberal Muslims, although some aspects are widely accepted, such as its application to the banking system.

The “hudud” is the harshest punishment reserved for crimes such as rape, robbery, murder, and behaviors considered by them as ‘sins,’ such as adultery and homosexual sex. These punishments are rarely carried out, as many offenses must be proven by confession or witnessed by several adult Muslim men.

Saudi Arabia

Sharia is the basis of Saudi law, and until very recently, it was common for “hudud” to be applied in public. Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by execution, although the actual penalty is often limited to a beating or jail.

Decapitation and sword amputations used to be held on Fridays. In extreme cases, such as child abuse, the convicted person was crucified after execution.


The Constitution of Afghanistan is based on Islamic law, but its interpretation traditionally depended on local customs and tribal traditions. The Taliban applied a brutal interpretation of sharia during their time in power (1996-2001). Women were forbidden from leaving their homes without a male escort and without wearing a burqa, and “hudud” was widespread.

The militants, who now control more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since 2001, are reimposing their strict interpretation of Sharia.


The conservative province of Aceh, which has had special autonomy since 2001, is the only one in Indonesia – the country with the largest Muslim population globally – that imposes Islamic law. In this region on the tip of Sumatra’s island, public beatings are common for offenses such as gambling, alcohol consumption, adultery, and homosexuality, and have wide support among the population.


Sudan adopted sharia in 1983 but has applied it randomly since, according to activists. Stoning continues to appear as punishment but has not been applied for decades.

Nevertheless, the activists denounce that hundreds of women are beaten each year for “immoral behavior” based on the penal code. In recent weeks, several protesters were sentenced to beatings for protesting against President Omar al Bashir, but an appeal court suspended the sentence.


In 1979, the military dictator Zia ul Haq introduced the Hudud Ordinances in a current Islamization of Pakistan. The sharia courts, which operate in parallel to conventional courts that apply the Pakistan Penal Code, dealt with adultery cases, false accusations in court, property crimes, and drug and alcohol prohibition.


At least 12 of the 36 states in Nigeria apply sharia in criminal matters, and the courts can request amputations, although very few were carried out.

The Islamic state

Although it is not a country, the Islamic State (ISIS) group established its “caliphate” – defeated on March 23 – its courts and implemented a brutal interpretation of Islam in the areas it controlled in Syria and Iraq.

He punished alleged crimes such as robbery, alcohol consumption, adultery, and homosexuality, and carried out beheadings, stoning, amputations, and threw men suspected of homosexuality from buildings.

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