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IslamIslamic culture and law have been the focal points of discussion in our country since the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks and the ensuing U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. While Islamic law is embedded in the teachings of Islam, American students of criminal justice should recognize that the 9/11 attacks have no intrinsic relationship with this law, nor is the jihad (holy war) rhetoric of Muslim fundamentalists representative of mainstream Islamic belief. The four sources of Islamic law include the interpretations of the Koran (Holy Book of Islam), teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, consensus of the clergy on matters not addressed by the Koran or Mohammed, and logical reason applied when a situation is not addressed by the first three sources. In addition, there are four characteristics of justice under Islamic philosophy and religion:It is a sacred duty to be morally responsible and merciful toward everyone,
A mutual respect should exist between two people and throughout society,
Every member of the society is held accountable for the welfare of all and becomes a keeper of everyone else, and
Anyone who violates God’s commands should be given strict punishments (Souryal, S. et al., 1994, pp. 249-265).
Because Islam recognizes a tie between religion and acceptable social behavior, the third and fourth aspects above form the basis of criminal justice practice in many Middle Eastern countries. Islamic law is predominant in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Ethiopia, Gambia, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Senegal, Tunisia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. With the exception of Turkey, which practices a separation of church and state, each of the other theocracies have laws against “Hudud crimes,” or violations of the natural law as interpreted by Arab culture. They are characterized as crimes against God and include offenses such as making war upon Allah and His messengers, theft, adultery or fornication, and “corruption on earth.” The last offense is not well understood by western culture, but includes activities such as embezzlement, revolt against lawful authority, fraud, and “weakening the society of God” (Schmalleger, 2003, p. 671).In all their activities, practicing Muslims do not lose sight of the fact that they are part of the community. The Prophet Mohammed is said to have stated that to belong to the community, one must love the community. This belief forbids the man from entering into any pact with evildoers (Cragg & Speight, 1980, p. 227). In particular, the religious aspect of Islamic law includes strict punishment of moral failure for offenses considered in western cultures to be victimless crimes. Fornication, for example, carries a penalty of up to 100 lashes; drinking alcohol may result in the offender’s receiving up to 80 lashes; and a thief may have his/her hands and feet cut off on alternate sides (Souryal, 1994, pp. 249-265).Another useful concept for the deviant in Islam is that he or she is a prisoner of the senses, separated by a barrier of human frailty from becoming one with the divine. In Islam, even though all persons have the touch of the divine, some of them have forgotten who they are and would, in our Christian vernacular, be considered "lost souls." According to Souryal (1994), the severe punishments handed out for Hudud crimes serve three functions: the fulfillment of worship, the purification of society, and the redemption of the individual. However, of the three, the interests of the individual are usually the least valuable and may be sacrificed for the wholesomeness and integrity of the society. Another way of putting it is that criminals are those who do not fulfill obligations. They have no legitimate rights, and any claims of freedom that they make on the environment or the society are illegitimate and a usurpation of what does not belong to them (Nasr, 1981).The treatment of women as second-class citizens, while having little basis in the Koran, is another characteristic of Islamic cultures today. For example, it takes two virtuous women to equal the testimony of one man in an Islamic legal proceeding. While many in the West criticize Islamic moral crimes, unequal treatment, and harsh punishments as being barbaric, Muslim officials defend their system by pointing to low crime rates in their countries, contrasted with the moral degradation among western nations (Schmalleger, 2003, p. 672). However, secular and nationalistic ideology, alternative educational philosophies, mass global communications, and increasing interaction with westerners continue to exert pressure on Islamic cultures to equalize the rights of women and standardize law enforcement.Confucian/CommunistConfucian/Communist culture is primarily found in the country of China. Confucianism, Taoism, as well as Buddhism h