For many in the West, the concept of Islamic law — and its role in the legal systems of Muslim majority countries — is one that’s shrouded in mystery. But for countries like Pakistan, where approximately 96 percent of the population is Muslim, it’s a reality that shapes everyday life. In this blog post, we will explore the role of Islamic law in Pakistan’s legal system, how it has evolved over time, and how it interacts with (and influences) other aspects of Pakistani law. We’ll also discuss how advocates are working to bring awareness to issues related to religious discrimination and inequality within Pakistan’s legal structures. By understanding these topics, we can gain a better understanding of the complexities involved when dealing with Islamic Law and its implications for society.
What is Islamic law?
Islamic law, or Sharia, is the legal framework that governs the Muslim world. It is derived from the Quran and the Hadith, and is based on Islamic principles of justice.
- Sharia covers all aspects of life, including family law, contract law, criminal law, and financial law. In Pakistan, Sharia is enshrined in the Constitution and forms the basis of the country’s legal system.
- There are four main schools of thought in Islam: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali. Each school has its own interpretations of Sharia. In Pakistan, the Hanafi school is followed.
- Islamic law is not static; it evolves over time in response to changing needs and circumstances. However, certain core principles remain constant, such as the prohibition on murder, theft, and adultery.
- The role of Islamic law in Pakistan’s legal system is significant; it provides a framework for resolving disputes in accordance with Islamic principles of justice.
History of Pakistan’s Legal System
Pakistan’s legal system has its roots in the British colonial system. After the country’s independence in 1947, the Muslim majority of the population wanted Islamic law to be a part of the new nation’s legal system. This resulted in the incorporation of some Islamic laws into the existing statutory law.
In 1977, a military coup led by General Zia-ul-Haq ushered in a period of Islamization. During this time, more Islamic laws were incorporated into Pakistan’s legal system. In addition, sharia courts were established to hear cases involving family law and other personal status issues.
Although there have been some changes to Pakistan’s legal system since 1997, when civilian rule was re-established, it still remains heavily influenced by Islam. For example, sharia courts continue to operate alongside the regular court system and there are certain areas of law, such as family law and inheritance, that are still governed by Islamic law.
The current Legal system of Pakistan
Pakistan is an Islamic republic with a federal parliamentary system. The Constitution of Pakistan establishes Islam as the state religion and stipulates that all laws must be compatible with Muslim morality. However, the Constitution also guarantees equality and freedom of religion for all citizens.
The legal system of Pakistan is based on English common law, Sharia law, and customary law. Sharia law is derived from the Quran and Hadith (the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad). Pakistani lawyers and judges are trained in both common law and Sharia law.
Customary law consists of local traditions and customs that are not codified in either Sharia or common law. This includes traditional systems of dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration.
The court system in Pakistan consists of civil courts, criminal courts, and religious courts. Civil courts deal with matters such as divorce, child custody, property disputes, and contract disputes. Criminal courts deal with crimes such as murder, robbery, and assault. Religious courts deal with questions of personal status, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption.
Pakistan has a two-tiered court system: the High Courts are the appellate courts for all lower court decisions; the Supreme Court is the final court of appeal. There is also a Federal Shariat Court, which has jurisdiction over questions of Islamic law.
The structure of the Legal system in Pakistan
The legal system of Pakistan is a combination of both civil law and common law. The Constitution of Pakistan recognizes Islam as the state religion, and provides for a dual system of courts, with both secular and religious courts having Jurisdiction over certain matters.
Islamic law, or sharia, is the primary source of legislation in Pakistan. The Constitution requires that all laws be consistent with sharia, and gives the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) a mandate to review all legislation to ensure compliance. In addition to serving as an advisory body, the CII also has the power to declare any existing law inconsistent with sharia, which would then be void.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has held that sharia is a source of inspiration for Pakistani laws, but is not itself binding law. In practice, however, most laws are based on sharia principles. For example, the penal code includes provisions such as stoning for adultery and flogging for alcohol consumption, which are derived from sharia. There is also a separate court system for family law matters such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance, which is based on sharia principles.
The role of Islamic law in Pakistan’s legal system has been controversial. Critics argue that it discriminates against women and non-Muslims, and violates international human rights standards. Supporters contend that it is an important part of Pakistani culture and identity, and provides much needed clarity on personal status issues.
Importance of Islamic Laws in Pakistan
Under the Constitution of Pakistan, Islamic law is a source of legislation and the judiciary has the power to adjudicate disputes in accordance with it. However, the extent to which Islamic law is incorporated into the legal system varies depending on the particular legal issue and the jurisdiction in which it is being considered.
There are four main sources of Islamic law: the Quran, Hadith (sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad), Ijma (consensus of Muslim scholars) and Qiyas (analogical reasoning). In addition to these, there are also various secondary sources that may be used to interpret and apply Islamic law, such as Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Ijtihad (reasoning by independent legal scholars) and Usul al-Fiqh (the principles of Islamic jurisprudence).
The Quran is considered to be the highest authority in Islam and its verses contain general principles that are applicable to all aspects of life. The Hadith provide more specific guidance on how these principles should be applied in different situations. Where there is no clear guidance from either the Quran or Hadith, Muslim scholars have traditionally relied on consensus (ijma) or analogical reasoning (qiyas) to reach a decision.
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on using ijtihad to interpret Islamic law in a way that is relevant to contemporary issues and problems. This has led to the development of new schools of thought within
What are the pros and cons of Islamic law in Pakistan’s legal system?
There are a number of pros and cons to the role of Islamic law in Pakistan’s legal system. On the plus side, Islamic law is seen as a more equitable and just system than the British-based common law system that was in place before Pakistan’s independence. Islamic law also provides for a higher degree of personal freedoms than common law, particularly with regard to freedom of religion.
On the downside, some argue that the implementation of Islamic law in Pakistan has been imperfect, leading to discrimination against religious minorities and women. There is also concern that the increasing influence of Islamists in Pakistan could lead to further restrictions on personal freedoms and the imposition of strict moral codes.
In conclusion, the role of Islamic law in Pakistan’s legal system is significant and has evolved over time, with its incorporation into the country’s legal system beginning in the post-colonial period and continuing with the Islamization process under General Zia-ul-Haq. Today, Islamic law is recognized as a fundamental part of Pakistan’s legal system and is implemented through the Federal Shariat Court and sharia benches at the provincial and local levels. It covers a range of legal and social issues, including personal status, criminal law, and business transactions. While Islamic law is an important source of legislation in Pakistan, the country’s legal system also includes elements of English common law, customary law, and international law, leading to a complex and multifaceted system. Advocates are working to bring awareness to issues of religious discrimination and inequality within Pakistan’s legal structures, highlighting the ongoing importance and relevance of these issues.