Sharia Islamic Law Thesis

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Sharia Islamic Law

Indonesia should not allow sharia Islamic law to be implemented as it will replace Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, leading to social disorder and possibly the destruction of the country. Sharia law is the legal system of Islam. It is derived from Koran, which is taken as the word of God, and from the hadith, which is based on the words and deeds of Muhammed and on fatwas, which are the rulings of Islamic scholars (Casciani, 2008). Sharia varies between jurisdiction, as some of the teachings and rulings are interpreted differently by different schools of Islam.

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Indonesia is the world's fourth largest country by population, and the largest majority Muslim one. There are 240,000,000 people in Indonesia, spread over a broad archipelago in Southeast Asia. The population of Indonesia is 86.1% Muslim, giving the nation approximately 206 million Muslims (CIA World Factbook, 2009). Only an estimated 10% of the population are fundamentalists, but the implementation of sharia has occurred in Aceh and it has the potential to spread because of the central government's unwillingness to separate religion and the state. Individual governments throughout the country have passed around 600 sharia-based bylaws (Bev, 2008). This can not only alienate some of the moderate Muslims but the variety of other religious groups on the islands. Indonesia is a multiethnic land, so the implication of sharia could be natural for some groups but fractious for others. A poll found that 52% of Indonesians supported the imposition of sharia, which indicates that the nation is essentially split on the issue (Bell, 2008).

Thesis on Sharia Islamic Law Assignment

With this disparate population, social stability in Indonesia is dependent on a degree of national unity. The national language, Bahasa Indonesia, contributes to this unity. The freedom for each ethnic group to practice its religion, speak its language and yet remain part of a larger entity is critical to the success of the country. The widespread application of Sharia law threatens that unity. This paper will demonstrate that sharia law should not be implemented in Indonesia because replacing Bhinneka Tunggal Ika would be a detriment to the country.


Indonesia's social cohesiveness results from its motto and philosophy Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which creates social order on the diverse archipelago. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika means "Unity in Diversity" in Old Javanese. The phrase is mentioned in the Constitution of Indonesia and derives from the Kakawin Sutasoma, which is a poem dating from the 14th century. The poem specifically promotes tolerance between Hindus and Buddhists at this pre-Islamic time when those were the dominant religions on Java. The motto is central to the country because it provides the basis of understanding how the country will be governed. Social order depends upon mutual agreement of Indonesia's groups to partake in that governance. The culture of Indonesia is relatively fluid. Compared to Malaysia, the nation's closest cousin, Indonesians have demonstrated significant ability to traverse different ethnic groups. The nation's motto has become practical philosophy, where disparate groups interact and work together (Raslan, 2009).

The intrusion of Sharia law runs directly counter to Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, because it places Islam ahead of all other faiths (Bev, 2008). It also enshrines specific types or interpretations of Islam over others.

The culture of relative harmony would be broken if sharia was imposed upon non-Muslims or even non-fundamentalist Muslims. This would also have a negative impact on politics and economics. The nation's political leaders would be faced with increasing social unrest. They would have a more difficult time decoupling Islam from politics. Already, Islam is a central theme in Indonesian politics. While non-Muslims accept this in part due to their local autonomy, the imposition of sharia would reduce that autonomy. Islam's values would be placed above local values, giving rise to increased ethic and religious tension. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika has to this point been relatively effective with respect to maintaining social order in Indonesia. East Timor declared its independence and other islands have been subject to occasional unrest as well, but overall the nation has been fairly united considering the number of ethnic and religious groups and the far-flung geography thereof. Introducing sharia would undermine Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, and therefore would undermine efforts to build Indonesian unity and leverage that for stability and growth.

The economic impacts of sharia are also strongly negative. Unrest would cause a reduction in foreign direct investment, which would again reduce economic activity. However, there is the potential for the country to develop an economy based on sharia law (Asia Today, 2008). However, to this date Islamic banking is the only truly viable application of sharia in business and already Indonesia is moving towards a dual banking system (Bank Indonesia, 2008). Still the net economic loss is most likely to be greater than any gain, especially in light of the fact that the sharia economy is focused mainly on one industry.

The negative impacts on the culture of Indonesia would arise from the imposition of sharia law throughout the land. Evidence of the negative impact of sharia can be drawn from Aceh, where sharia has been in place as the legal system since 2002. In Aceh, morality police patrol to enforce sharia's morality codes (Jakarta Globe, 2009). The same has occurred in other jurisdictions as well that have implemented sharia-based codes (Bev, 2008). Sharia in Aceh has now also introduced stiffer punishments for certain types of offenders. Adulterers can be sentenced to death by stoning, a punishment applied more frequently to women. Public caning of homosexuals has been introduced as well. To enforce morality, sharia police can break into hotel rooms, work undercover and develop informants (Jakarta Globe, 2009). Such egregious human rights violations will naturally give rise to increased tensions and conflict in the country. Anecdotal evidence supports that women especially suffer under sharia. The Jakarta Globe reported in 2008 that sharia police went on patrols and hassled women and girls for their clothing and lack of headscarves. Unmarried young couples were forbidden to sit beside one another. Vendors are no longer allowed to sell pants to women (Simanjuntak, 2009). In some areas under sharia, women out after 10pm have been arrested for prostitution (Bev, 2008). Sharia is being used as a tool to oppress Indonesian women, where it has been implemented.

The threat to social order that sharia imposition represents can be better understood by the application of sharia beyond such frightening anecdotes. Sharia law is based around legal concepts such as "contrary to morality" and the establishment of "behavior or artistic/cultural expression" (Hariyadi, 2008). For Christians, Hindus and other minority religions in Indonesia, such phrasing is rife with peril. Such poor definitions can easily lead to broad applications far beyond the intent of proper sharia, and in particular laws can be invented on an ad hoc basis by sharia police. Moreover, the non-Muslim definition of these terms can be very different from the Muslim version. At present, sharia is limited primarily to Muslim areas, but the imposition of sharia at the national level would create significant conflicts, especially in areas of non-Muslim majority such as Bali, Sulawesi, Papua and Borneo (Hariyadi, 2008).

Proponents of sharia point to the polls that show a slim majority of Indonesians support is imposition on the populace. They view sharia as a means to enhance social order, rather than disrupt it. The non-morality aspects of sharia can be beneficial to society, and the relatively low crimes rates in sharia nations are offered as evidence.

It is even possible to adopt a plural legal system where sharia is imposed only on Muslims. While sharia's moralistic aspects due result in lower crime rates, this is at the expense of fundamental human rights. Sharia only improves social order in nations with near 100% Muslim populations. In Indonesia, it is nowhere near as practical because of the wide range of ethnic groups and non-Muslim minorities. Social unrest would threaten social order and disrupt the hard-won sense of national unity that derives from Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. A dual legal system would be divisive, creating different tiers of Indonesians, contrary to both the current culture in the nation and the country's motto. Even if sharia would improve social order in some respects, a move towards sharia is a move towards a divided Indonesia where citizens are identified and dealt with according to their religion.


Sharia law has already been implemented in Aceh. The results have been a small degree of social unrest, but Ache is a majority Muslim region. The imposition of sharia in non-Muslim regions, however, will undermine the driving force of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika that has facilitated the nation's stability and economic growth to this point. The country would gain some economic opportunities in Islamic banking, but those benefits can be realized already. There is little to gain, therefore, from the imposition of sharia.

Indonesia has a lot to lose from sharia, however. Many islands might threaten to leave the country or at least be subject to significant unrest. This unrest will reduce foreign investment in Indonesia, causing economic growth… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Sharia Islamic Law" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Sharia Islamic Law.  (2009, December 9).  Retrieved September 25, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Sharia Islamic Law."  9 December 2009.  Web.  25 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Sharia Islamic Law."  December 9, 2009.  Accessed September 25, 2020.