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Audio | Kadri on Sharia Law, Its History, and Its Place in the Modern World

by RASHA ELASS

09 Jun 2012 22:03Comments
ScreenShot044.jpg"Human-rights-compatible interpretations of the sharia are not only possible, but desirable."

[ books ] Sharia law has been at the forefront of considerable controversy in the West of late -- U.S. lawmakers, for instance, have moved to ban its use in over a dozen states. But the 1,400-year-old code of Islamic law is still used in many places around the world, and millions of Muslims adhere to it.

What is sharia law all about, and why does it stir so much debate? Tehran Bureau spoke with human rights lawyer and author Sadakat Kadri for some answers. A barrister in the United Kingdom and a qualified New York attorney, he is the author of the 2005 book The Trial: A History, from Socrates to O.J. Simpson, which chronicles the Western legal tradition.

Now, he has come out with a new book, Heaven on Earth: A Journey through Shari'a Law, about the Islamic tradition of jurisprudence in many different times and countries. In this interview, he talks about how sharia law works in a secular country, and what happens when it clashes with the law of the land in the West. He explains why some aspects of sharia, like amputating a thief's hand, cannot be "revised" to reflect today's values. He also explores why the Shia approach to sharia is sometimes considered "more liberal" than that of the Sunni schools of jurisprudence.

In the accompanying excerpt from the interview, Kadri draws a comparison between how sharia and halakhah -- Jewish religious law -- are viewed in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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