Is Sharia good or bad? Sierra Leone

Is Sharia good or bad? (Opinion)

Concord Times (Freetown)
February 23, 2000
By Sulaiman Momodu

Freetown - The Islamic law of Sharia is unarguably the hottest debate in present day Nigeria. The big question is: Is sharia good or bad and should it be implemented or not?

In discussing this topic, I want to warn Islamic scholars that I am only a lay preacher. Sharia, according to what most people understand, is basically the amputation of people who rob others including the state, and the stoning to death of those who cannot control their skirts or trousers and so on.

Whatever the meaning of Sharia might be to different people in different corners of our small world, the fact of the matter, Muslims say, is that Sharia is imposed to bring sanity and morality in societies. To this, Nigeria stands to be accused. And Sierra Leone also, Ghana, Liberia, Tunisia, Mali, in fact, all the countries in Africa are today experiencing an acute decline in moral values. So what? Muslims say the laws from God are good and will never be bad. Can laws from God be bad? Astafullahi.

First, it was in the less known state of Zamfara where it was introduced. But before the year ends, Sharia has the potential to spread to several other states. This development is making the Christian community jittery and especially those in the North of the country. Perhaps one would have expected President Obasanjo to add his voice to what he thinks about this all controversial subject.

But no! Instead, Uncle Sege is or was keeping a tight lip on the issue. To some, Obasanjo's loud silence on the introduction of the Islamic law in some states was interpreted to mean consent. But should Sharia be introduced in all states even where Christians are in large numbers? I wonder. Anyway. Imagine this scene.

In Zamfara state, a man was caught drinking alcohol. He was at once given emergency treatment at the Islamic court and was found guilty of the offence. His sentence? Eighty heavy lashes on his buttocks in the open. The man got all his well deserved 80 lashes and then to the amusement of the public, thanked those who gave him such a 'light' punishment.

"Thank you for not sending me to jail or fining me or both" the man said as he peacefully went back home to tell his children his experience. That is, if they were not present at all. In Isalm, like in most other God-sent religions, drinking is forbidden. The reasons are obivous.

With drinking, a man loses his sense of responsibility. He becomes a menace to society, forgets (for some) to feed his children, go far-away from God, is always indebted, becomes a social nuisance by smelling Omole for instance and medically, he deteriorates his own well-being. For such a man, is Sharia good or bad? Again take the case of a man who does not control his zip. On seeing any beautiful woman he quickly salivates in his trousers. His libido increases. At home, he has his beautiful wife, ever-ready.

If such a man like that is caught committing adultery, do you support that he should be punished? Be fair with yourself. The whole question of Sharia is unwelcome to most of those who are deeply rooted in vices. Reports say in cases wherin a Muslim and a Christian are involved in palava, there are other courts that should settle the matter.

I only hope this is not a fact in theory. I think the confusion about Sharia which is having devastating consequences in places like Kaduna is that, the concept had not been thoroughly explained. At the same time, I believe some parts of the Islamic laws need some modification. The Bahai's say the spiritual laws from God such as fasting and praying remain the same in virtually all religions, but the social laws change.

When Moses came, he said what?

An eye for an eye. When christ came he modified it. If a man slaps you on the right jaw, give him the left. What I am stressing here is, the laws of sharia can be modified and peole should know where and when to impose them. Essentially, the problems of the world are multiplying today because people are only concerned with what they can gain here, earthly riches as if they would be buried with it. And it is because of such mentality that people calling themselves rebels for example think that they are above the law.

Why do you think a man would cut off the hands of another man like a beast and then get away with it?

Call it the sharp edge of Islam but in my view, with proper education and motivation, I see nothing wrong with Sharia. The mistake in Nigeria is that the government had been keeping quiet on this controversial topic until now when the Islamic extremists had over done things.

There was absolutely no point in introducing Sharia in a volatile state like Kaduna where the number of Christians is chinese. Perhaps I should make this point clear that I am not a Muslim. The issue is that on a continent that is overwhelmed with corruption and other evil practices, Sharia may provide the answer. However, those implementing it must first ensure that they are clean and must have an unstained conscience of fair judgement.

The first time I heard about sharia was in the eighties when I was in secondary school. Looking at the economy then and rumours of corruption, I only wished they had introduced it here; so that we can amputate all those politicians who have looted our country of billions of Leones. Unfortunately, when the rebels came, they amputated the poor innocent civilians. If they had only done it to the politicians, no problem en? Do I sound a bit radical?

Sharia is not good for some parts of Nigeria. I accept. But I think it is good for rebel leaders who talk too much. Example? You know the answer. Maybe we can hang a padlock on their mouths and there would be peace in Sierra Leone.

I think Sierra Leone should starting thinking of implementing it. And guess what! At the end of the year, we shall have cut off the hands of almost all our ministers and parliamentarians and of course Foday Sankoh for stealing our money and mineral resources. Smile.


©Copyright 2000, Concord Times
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