Are Iraqis getting their own Islamic ayatollah? Sounds implausible, but they might, if Shi'ites get their way in the new Iraqi Governing Council. In a recent meeting wrapped in secrecy, Shi'ite clerics pushed through a resolution to establish sharia—Islamic law applied to daily life—as the supreme law of the land. Iraqi women, in particular, are vehemently protesting the move. "This new law will send Iraqi families back to the Middle Ages," said retired female judge Zakia Ismael Hakki. "It will allow men to have four or five or six wives. It will take away children from their mothers. It will allow anyone who calls himself a cleric to open an Islamic court in his house and decide about who can marry and divorce and have rights. We have to stop it."

These days, any mention of sharia raises hackles among Christians. Consider, for example, Nigerian Catholic archbishop Anthony Olubunmi Okogie's dismay (not to mention many others) over the conviction of a Nigerian woman of adultery and her sentencing by Islamic clerics to death by stoning. In Sudan, authorities in Khartoum have used sharia to wage war against Christians. And now anxiety over sharia is spreading to the West. Christians in Britain especially fear a takeover by sharia should Islam ever become the religion of the majority of the population.

But what exactly is sharia and what does it mean for the rule of the land? According to Maurits Berger of the University of Amsterdam, sharia embodies Islamic divine law set down in the Qur'an and the sayings of Muhammad. It may also derive from the laws articulated in the Pact of Umar (see our newsletter, "Legacy of an Ancient Pact," for more on this pact's history, and Christian Historyissue 74: Christians & Muslims, for the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueDefending the Faith (of Others)
Defending the Faith (of Others) Subscriber Access Only
Russian evangelicals’ hesitancy to back Jehovah’s Witnesses could backfire.
RecommendedThe Real History of the Crusades
The Real History of the CrusadesSubscriber Access Only
A series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics? Think again.
TrendingISIS Kills 29 Christians on Church Bus Trip to Popular Monastery
ISIS Kills 29 Christians on Church Bus Trip to Popular Monastery
(UPDATED) Egypt cancels Ramadan’s opening celebration as Copts resist revenge.
Editor's PickDo This in Remembrance
Do This in Remembrance
Participating in the “high holy day” of American civil religion is beneficial for Christians, so long as we do so thoughtfully.
Christianity Today
When God—or Allah—Is in the Details
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.