Sharia (Arabic: شريعة šarīʿah), also spelled shariah and syariah, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics, and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting. Though interpretations of sharia vary between cultures, in its strictest definition it is considered the infallible law of God—as opposed to the human interpretation of the laws (fiqh).
The concept of justice embodied in sharia is different from that of secular Western law. Muslims believe the sharia law has been revealed by God. In Islam, the laws that govern human affairs are just one facet of a universal set of laws governing nature itself. Violations of Islamic law are offenses against God and nature, including one's own human nature. Crime in Islam is sin. Whatever crime is committed, whatever punishment is prescribed for that crime in this world, one must ultimately answer to God on the Day of Judgement.
Sharia corporal punishment
In some countries where sharia law is applied, corporal punishment (in the form of whipping, caning etc) may be administered to Muslims (both men and women) and even non-Muslims who have committed certain offences (e.g. adultery, consuming alcohol etc).
In Malaysia and Indonesia
In Indonesia's Aceh state, where sharia law is in practice, offenders are punished in public in the form of caning with a rattan cane on the upper back over clothing. Men stand when they receive the punishment while women are seated. The officer administering the punishment is required to exercise restraint and use only his wrist power (cannot raise the arm). This form of punishment is meant to be symbolic and humiliating rather than painful. Only Aceh has this.
Malaysia has a parallel system of sharia law for Muslims in addition to its normal criminal justice system. Offenders may be sentenced to caning and the punishment is carried out in the same manner as in Aceh, except that it is done in private and is executed by an officer of the same gender as the offender. This form of caning is known as "syariah caning" and is not the same as the "judicial caning" (on the bare buttocks) applied to male criminals in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
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