Have you ever heard of Mosaic law? It’s horrendous. It contains 637 different rules and penalties from death by stoning if you collect fuel on the Sabbath to stoning rape victims for not resisting enough. It supports slavery, including sexual slavery and lets men cast off their wives with nothing but the clothes they stand up in if they’re not sufficiently ‘pleasing’ to him. It’s truly barbaric. It even includes a method for aborting babies if the father suspects he’s been cuckolded and woe betide you if your shirt is made of more than a single type of fabric.
That’s the law that all Christians and Jews are supposed to follow. As Jesus said “Not a single jot or tittle of the law may be removed until the Son of Man comes again in glory”. So unless you think the rapture has already happened…
Of course, very few people know what this God-breathed law contains because it’s not relevant in the modern world but there’s many a Christian, especially far right Christian who would advocate for it because having adopted the identity of Christian they think they should. They’ll quite happily ‘seethe a kid ion its mother’s milk’ should the occasion ever call for it and they would never even think of sacrificing their own first-born child to God on a middle-Eastern mountain top. If you doubt any of this have a look at Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy and then read Christ’s endorsement of the law in Matthew 5:17-19. I promise you, it’ll make your hair curl! It’s a damn site worse than Sharia.
Fortunately, very few people truly follow either.
Just as most Christians cherry pick the good bits from Mosaic law and ignore the nonsense about fabric and picking up sticks, so most Muslims live their lives without once attempting to chop off someone’s hand or throw gay men off rooftops. You should see what Christians are supposed to do to them, by the way.
There are barbaric passages in all three Abrahamic holy books (Torah, Bible and Koran) and there are extremists who would advocate for them all but they’re not the majority. Occasional surveys asking Muslims if they like Shariah law make no distinction between the positive laws (opposing usury for example or providing charity) and the barbaric parts, just as Christians who advocate Mosaic law tend not to want to burn adulterers alive.
Stop claiming all modern Muslims want to live by 7th century rules unless you also want to claim that all Christians want to abide by 1st century travesties too.
Far right fools show their ignorance at every turn – even of the religion they themselves, purport to practise!
One thought on “Far right bingo card: Sharia law”
Great to have you back again, Stuart! Sorry to hear about the illness in the family. I hope that it has resolved itself. I very often think that I would rather be ill than someone else in my family be ill.
You raise some interesting issues here: the relationship and role of the OT Law in Christianity; and the question of how far a Biblical understanding of that Law can be thought of as being similar to Sharia Law in Islam. Wow! Much scholarly ink has been spilt on those issues over the last 2 millennia. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on the matter.
It must surely strike any student of religion as remarkable that unlike its parent (1st Century Judaism), Christianity did not have – and has never had – a central Temple structure, ritualistic animal sacrifices, nor any mandatory code of dietary laws. One might think that there must be a good reason for this. A reason that goes beyond the simple expedient of not liking them anymore. I would say the central reason for this departure is the person of Jesus Christ himself.
You cite Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5v17-19. You are right here, I think. They are very significant words when you come understand how Christianity views things differently to the Judaism of Christ’s day with respect to the whole body of the OT law (all 600 plus commands of it – not to mention the various Rabbinic/Pharisaic additions!).
However, I think you miss the key word in those verses. Jesus says that he came to ‘fulfil’ the Law. This is a significant word because it means that Jesus neither meant to set the Law aside, nor did he see it straightforwardly carrying on its role within the life of the people of God. Rather, I think the word ‘fulfil’ means that Jesus saw within the OT law a meaning that only he himself could give to it; and that the interpretation of the Law could not now be understood apart from himself.
When we think about Jesus’ use of the word ‘fulfilment’: It seems to me – reading the Gospels and the rest of the NT – that there were parts of the Law that Jesus (and the Gospel writers) saw no further need to continue. In this category, I would place the role of the Temple building and the animal sacrifices (see the tearing of the Temple curtain at Jesus’ crucifixion Mark 15v37-39, also Jesus’ words in John 2v21). I would also put here Jesus’ abolition of the Jewish food laws (Mark 17v9).
Alongside this approach to the fulfilment of the Law, I would say that there were parts of the law that Jesus clearly did see as having continued validity. Here you can think of Jesus’ sexual ethics (Mark 10v1-9) and pretty much the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. Indeed, in this area, Jesus didn’t so much endorse the OT law: as he re-enforced it and sharpened it.
The final area for consideration here, I think, is Jesus’ understanding of Israel as the land of the People of God in the OT Law. It would seem to me that Jesus now understood that God’s purposes could no longer be confined geographically to one particular area, but had to embrace the whole of the world. See here what is called ‘The Great Commission’ (Matthew 28v16-20); also Jesus’ encounters in the Gospel with Gentiles like the Centurion with a sick servant, the Samaritan Woman at the Well and the Syro-Phoenician Woman.
So, as Jesus would seem to have envisaged a ‘leaving behind’ of the actual land of Israel in favour of an international mission as a fulfilment of the Law: so it would seem that the part of the Law which refers specifically to life in the land of Israel can likewise be ‘left behind’, which is why Christians don’t stone adulterers, wear clothes made of more than one fabric, boil animals in their mother’s milk etc.
Christianity (in its biblical and post-biblical forms) does indeed have a distinctive approach to how the OT should be interpreted and applied. From the above, I would say that this is not despite what Jesus said and did; but because of what he said and did. All of this is very different to what is true in Islam with respect to Sharia Law.
Basically, Shariah Law grew up in the centuries following the death of Mohammed. Over the years, it was constructed from 2 main sources: The Quran and the collection of sayings/incidents attributed to the life of Mohammed known as the Hadith. These were combined according to a philosophical, theological and legal process known as ijtihad. This process has been regarded as coming to its complete and final form in about the 10th Century AD. So, in principle, what was regarded as valid a millennium ago, is valid for Muslims today. Indeed, all the major schools of Shariah still today prescribe the death penalty for all adult males who leave Islam (women may get away with their life). I should say here that I do have some personal experience of this to draw on.
It is true that some in Islam wish to ‘re-open the gates’ of Ijtihad, but this is not the majority opinion. Essentially, what stood in the 10th Century: stands today.
I appreciate your article was very much written against the attitudes and action of the ‘far-right’. However, I would say that it is possible to be concerned for the rights of others to practice peacefully their faith, and yet do justice to the real differences between faiths, and the reasons that stand behind them.