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An American Girl Living in a very Muslim World...

So what is Sharia Law?

Sharia law Arabic: شريعة) is the body of Islamic law. The term means "way" or "path"; it is the legal framework within which the public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Islam.

 My definition of Sharia Law is that it’s an unfathomable legal system for Americans, and probably the majority of the world. Sharia Law prohibits alcohol, drugs, dancing, sex before marriage, partying, overall fun and naughty things…of course, there are more prohibited items on the list, but those are the ones that I think most people would care about not having in their lives.

So here I am…An American     30-something gal living in an area with special autonomy to have Sharia Law. I am not in the Middle East, rather a sleepy Indonesian province, with religious police here to enforce these rules.

I will admit, I was judgmental about this political system. Essentially, there is no separation of church and state, which I believe is fundamental of democracy.

Speaking of fundamental...

Yes, there is some fundamentalism associated with Sharia Law. But please don't confuse this with terrorism. The people who I live amongst in Indonesia do not condone any of the horrendous acts that we have been witnessing of late, in fact, they despise it and feel shame for this behavior. 

Those living under Sharia Law here in Indonesia are fundamental in that they follow a great degree of the Quran.

Important disclaimer: Before you think the worst, the people I live amongst in Indonesia do not stone people, or cut people's hands off; engage in polygamy; allow rape, incest or child marriage or practice any form of barbaric rituals.

With that said, here are just a few rules that I came to understand and even respect to a certain degree. 

Women must be covered at all times. Ok, at first this was quite annoying for me since its 100 degrees every day in Indonesia and the extent some women cover can be kinda crazy, but at the same time, there is something to be said about maintaining a certain level of modesty. Women here aren't constantly comparing their bodies to others, they don't have to worry about the cat-calls and ogling, and there's something quite sexy in letting your brain be able to speak for itself and not just your breasts or booty. 

Praying 5 times a day. This is also something I initially found a bit annoying, especially when I would be in the middle of working with artisans or meeting with people and they just stop what they are doing to go and pray. Like literally stop what they are doing. But after some time, I realized that this is something we all need to do. Just stop what we are doing. Take a break. Let our brains go to a more peaceful place. If you aren't religious it doesn't matter, you can meditate instead or do some yoga or stretching. (That's what I did!) I think these 5 mini-breaks throughout the day can really keep us more calm and relaxed, so kudos to this rule. 

Fasting at Ramadan. I have to say I find it a bit excessive that people MUST abide by this and restaurants must be closed during the day, however, I suppose I would need that happen in order for me to actually have the willpower to do this. And I am so impressed with the willpower of those adhering to the fast. Also, people during this month of fasting really give their stomachs and minds a rest from food! You wouldn't believe how much energy we spend on thinking and making food. 

Halal Meat. Muslims, especially those living under Sharia Law, must only eat halal know, the kind that you see at the Kebab shops...well, once I found out what it exactly meant, I really appreciate it! In a nutshell, the animal is not allowed to suffer when being slaughtered, which I think is very important. There is obviously more to it, but that is what appealed to me most. 

No cheating allowed. All I can say about this one is it is nice to know that the law has got your back if your spouse cheats on you! This is a big no-no in the Muslim faith, especially living under Sharia Law, and although it is not right to control who we love, it is kinda reassuring to know that your partner is going to do it when they can risk so much and get in trouble with the law! ;)


There are more points that I can understand, but for time's sake, I will cut this short.  Overall, I will be honest and say there are certainly a lot of pillars of this belief system that I totally disagree with, but as someone who is very curious about the world around us and tries to find the glass half full, I have come to fully understand that what this system essentially trying to do is protect and keep the family unit together and given the terrible statistics of divorce and the rise of broken homes, maybe we can learn a thing or two from another religion. 

I know this is topic can be considered sensitive at present, but this is a loving space and I would love to hear your thoughts! 




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