On April 30, 2013, Pew Research Centre published findings of a survey, conducted during the days when there was US military presence in Afghanistan, stated 99 per cent of Afghanis wanted Sharia to be the official law of the land in the state. The study titled: “The World’s Muslims: Religion, politics and society” talked about the Muslims beliefs about Sharia. The survey was based on 23 countries where questions were asked pertaining to Islamic Sharia.
This survey was carried out before Taliban took over Afghanistan. Last week, in dramatic coup, the Islamist organisation Taliban took over the government as the elected President and other officials fled the country. The Taliban toppled the government weeks after US withdrew its forces.
Muslims favour making Sharia the law of the land
99% of Afghanis who were interviewed also favoured making Sharia law of the land. Similarly, 84% of the Pakistani who participated in the survey favoured the same. The survey stated that in South Asia, high percentages in all the countries surveyed support making sharia the official law, especially Afghanistan where as many as 99 per cent of Muslims favor making Islamic law the official law in their country.
The survey asserted that level of religious commitment makes a big difference in attitudes about the implementation of sharia. Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely than those who pray less frequently to favor Islamic law as the official law of the land.
Muslims accept Sharia as the revealed word of God
According to the survey, in 17 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, at least half of Muslims say sharia is the devine word of God, and not a man-made script. A close look at the graph, suggests that roughly eight in ten Muslims (81%) in Pakistan say sharia is the revealed word of God. Similarly, in Afghanistan, 73% of Muslims believed that sharia is the revealed word of God.
Muslims feel the Islamic law should apply to all citizens
When asked whether the Islamic Sharia law should apply to only Muslims or to both Muslims and non-Muslims, it turned out that 61 per cent of the participants from Afghanistan believed that sharia should extend to non-Muslims as well. This percentage was, however, relatively low in Paksistan where only 34 per cent said that it should apply to all citizens in their country.
There have been many reports of religious minorities, especially Hindus being persecuted in Pakistan where they are often subjected to forced religious conversion.
Should the Sharia court be allowed to address domestic and personal issues?
Marriage, divorce, and inheritance are a few of the many domestic and personal issues addressed by Islamic law. Most surveyed Muslims who believe that sharia should be the law of the land in their country are also in favour of applying Islamic law in these spheres.
In Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East-North Africa region, support for permitting Sharia courts to adjudicate family and property disputes is extremely strong. In Pakistan while 87 per cent of the people support this concept, 78 per cent Afghanis were also of the opinion that the Sharia courts should be permitted to interfere in property and family dispute matters.
What Muslims think about Hudud punishments?
Further, the survey stated that in 10 out of 20 countries, where people want sharia to be the law of the land, at least half say they support Hudud punishments such as whippings or cutting off the hands of thieves and robbers.
In South Asia, Pakistani and Afghan Muslims clearly support ‘Hudud’ punishments. In both countries, more than eight-in-ten Muslims who favor making sharia the official law of the land also back these types of penalties for theft and robbery (88% in Pakistan and 81% in Afghanistan).
Hudud (also called Hadud or Hudood) punishments refers to capital or corporal punishment in Islam. There were traditionally regulated by Sharia, the religious law in Islam that comes from the Hadith that lists the sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad.
Hudud is a class of punishments prescribed by the Quran, Islamic holy book, and the sunna for crimes considered to be against God. While Islamists jurists have various interpretations, common crimes include theft, adultery, making unproven accusations of adultery, consuming intoxicants, armed robbery and apostasy. The prescribed punishments range from lashes to banishment to death. Strict evidence is required for conviction, such as four credible eyewitnesses to prove adultery. In addition, the crime must have been committed by a willful and sane adult.
Muslims favouring stoning as the punishment for adultery, death penalty for those who quit Islam
The survey stated that 89% Muslims in Pakistan, who stated Sharia should be the law of land, favoured stoning as the punishment for adultery. This figure stood at 85% in Afghanistan.
Apostasy, or leaving the faith, is a very controversial issue in the Muslim world and experts say the majority of scholars believe it is punishable by death. The survey by Pew Research Centre conducted in 2013 suggests that while 79% of the Afghani Muslims considered it to be okay to award death penalty to those who quit Islam, 76% Paksiatni Muslims also felt likewise.
Ever since the Islamist group Taliban has gained control over Afghanistan, it is being widely reported that the fundamentalist group has started imposing the strict Sharia in the country. However, this particular survey conducted by Pew Research Centre in 2013, shows that maximum number of citizens in Afghanistan were in favour of the Sharia, even when the country was not under Taliban rule. Hence, even before the Talibanis gained control on Afghanistan, a large part of the country’s population appeared to be allied with the thoughts of the Islamist organisation.