The other day, in a discussion of events in Egypt, I noted — once again — that there is no one Islam, no monolithic version of the same faith. The same thing is true of Islamic law, even among people who believe that they want to live in a society that is ruled in accordance with sharia. Click here to go back and catch up on that.
This is a very complex subject and, even as I wrote that piece, I looked around a link or two that offered more information on this topic. And, yes, I wondered if former Time and Associated Press religion pro Richard Ostling (now semi-retired) had taken a look at this puzzle, writing at his “Ridgewood Religion Guy Answers Your Questions” site elsewhere in the Patheos universe.
As it turns out, he has. Thus, here is another GetReligion post under the banner of WWROD?
Let us attend.
As always, one of his readers posed the start-off question for the mini-essay:
What would sharia [Muslim law] look like if implemented? Would there be differences by country or region?
I immediately thought, “Implemented WHERE? In Egypt or in Tennessee?”
But I digress:
THE GUY ANSWERS:
Fundamental starting point: In principle, Islam draws no distinction between the spiritual and the secular such as Jesus’ famous biblical dictum “render therefore to Caesasr the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
It’s often said that Christianity centers on theology while Islam centers on law. Sharia (or “shariah”) covers personal morals (e.g. truth-telling), behavior (abstinence from alcohol), and religious duties (charity gifts, fasting, prayers, the pilgrimage) but also encompasses the entirety of existence.
If you have spent some time in the Muslim world, you can already see some of the issues that some Muslims want to carve into civic stone and others do not. The Guy has been around the religion-beat block multiple times in multiple decades and knows that.
That leads to the crunch section of the piece and an especially provocative not to debates within Christianity: