Monday, October 13, 2014



Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

October 13, 2014


                "Sharia" means law, or in religious terms, law that follows Islam. In political and social life, and among Muslim legal theorists, many are the ways of interpreting and applying the Koran to today's world, far richer and more diverse than schools of interpreting the US constitution. To say "Sharia law" is at once redundant and disrespectful to the peacemaking premises by which many devout Muslims whom I know interpret the law. Among Islamic interpretations of law, ISIL law enforcement ranks far more fundamentalist and retributivist than its Saudi neighbor.  I cringe when I hear that “they” impose “Sharia law” with a capital S, as though fundamentalist retributivism in the name of God, and more generally the assumption that violence “naturally” demands punishment, isn’t acted out and justified in all religious and ethical traditions.  There is nothing inherently Islamic about ISIL interpretation of law.  There is nothing inherently more civilized than their indiscriminate summary executions in the way we hold one in four of the world’s prisoners, indiscriminately incarcerating in the industrial process we call plea bargaining, caging more and more of them for life without parole, letting some among them linger for a decade or more before they get the needle.  I propose that we take the “Sharia” out of our criticism of ISIL’s version of law and order.  The fact that they cite the Koran is beside the moral point: belief that punishment is morally and practically justified is the problem, there and here.  To say that ISIL imposes “Sharia law” is an ethnocentric, religious slur.  Love and peace, hal

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