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Religious and State Laws on the concept of Zani (Essay Sample)


Impact of Customary, Religious and State Laws on the concept of Zani

The Impact of Customary law, Religious law and State law on the concept of "Zina”.
The Impact of Customary law, Religious law and State law on the concept of "Zina”.
The term ‘Zin’a is Arabic for describing illegal acts of sexual intercourse, between a man and a woman who are not partners in marriage. It is viewed in Islam as an infringement to the marriage union. The concept bears strict penalties for offenders within the Islam society whereby guilty married women stand to be stoned to death. Similar legislation is evident in other societies outside Islam (Cite: Abou-bakr, O. 2003. Teaching the Words of the Prophet: Women Instructors of the Hadith (Fourteen and Fifteenth Centuries). Hawwa: Journal of women of the Middle East and the Islamic World. 1(3). P306-328) . In Native American societies for example, server and strict penalties existed for wives guilty of the crime of adultery. Such penalties were carried out by the husbands of the guilty wives in these societies wherein the guilty were inflicted with unsympathetic physical punishment on their bodies that served the purpose of enabling the husband to ensure such actions would not be repeated again in future. (cite Schoolcraft, Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, I, 236; V, 683, 684, 686; H.H. Bancroft, The Native Races of the Pacific States of North America, I, 514;  ABA aug Journal 1969, p.738). The Manu people of ancient India on the other hand had laws which stated that "though destitute of virtue or seeking pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities, yet a husband must be constantly worshiped as a god by a faithful wife… if a wife, proud of the greatness of her relatives or [her own] excellence, violates the duty which she owes to her lord, the king shall cause her to be devoured by dogs in a place frequented by many." (cite Laws of Manu, V, 154; VIII, 371). Conversely, Christianity considers act of adultery to be a form of immorality in equal portion for both men and women. Even so, laws in England (a Christian country) instances involving married women with men apart from their husbands posed as a serious crime at personal and societal level. Chief Justice Lord John Holt of England indicated in 1707 that a man involving himself with another man’s wife conducted "the highest invasion of property" making the aggrieved man to bear provocation of the highest form.
According to traditional Islamic law, sex outside marriage is considered a crime against society. Such crimes are referred to as "zina", by definition, the term implies an amalgamation of all acts of sexual involvement between a given man and woman who are not a partner in holy matrimony (Cite: Abou El Fadl, K. 2001. Speaking in God’s Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women. Oxford. Oneworld).
Acts of "zina" are punished in a same manner for both men and women; the sentence involves a hundred lashes for unmarried people and stoning to death for married offenders, even though occurrences of such punishments are infrequent in historical records of Islamic societies.
A Review of how customary law, religious law and state law relate to the concept of Zina.(Cite: Al-Ashmawi, M.S. 2004. Usul al-sharia (The Principles of Sharia). 5th ed. Beirut: Al-hintasar as-Arabi.)
Customary law
Most customary laws of Islam promote stern action against the concept of Zina. In truth, laws of Zina bear a religious background that has been in existence since ancient times, prohibitions of adultery and fornication in part draw a lot from traditional cultural practices. However, in light of recent legal trends in documentation, they are termed by different sections of people as having a predominant discriminatory nature underneath the concept of adultery. Apart from Islam, the Jewish laws of ‘Moses’ describe adultery as sexual relations between a man and a married woman and not a woman and a married man. More so, penalty for Zina tends to be directed more to the woman involved and not the male partner (cite "And the man that committed adultery with another man's wife, even he that committed adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." (Lev. 20:10).
). Such matters of interpretation have also been brought to light in past and current times for exhaustive discussions
There has been a battle of conflict between international human rights law and customary laws, which are still held as paramount in the minds of people in many stern Muslim societies and countries. The customary laws are still regarded as part of religious discourse. This poses a huge challenge for the adoption of international laws by these communities whose context is dictated by the customary and traditional figh- in which legal rulings are influenced by customary practices and particular codes of human behavior. Even so, the dedicated Muslim communities seem to have an upper hand as far as the future of the practice of law in their respective societies is concerned, mostly because the Zina laws are categorized as Hudud (Godly), a potentially all-sufficient ground for argument against reforms contrary to Islam in its true form. In addition, an in depth look reveals that the more pressure put on Islam communities to adopt Western reforms, the more the Islamist rally for the return to Shari’ a laws. (cite: Dembour, M.B 2001.Following the movement of a pendulum: Between Universalism and Relativism. In Cowan, J., Dembour, M.B.,., Wilson, R. (Ed). Culture and Rights: Anthropological Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. P56-79.)
It is no doubt that women organizations and other support social groups remain concerned such that they constantly fight against and criticize most customary laws of Zina advocating for change of the laws perceived as discriminatory against women
A major element of controversy that exists in Islamic customary law involves the revival of Qisas laws. These allow members of the society to partake in ‘Crimes of honor’, which include but are not limited to deliberate killing of a female family member who has engaged in illicit sexual misconduct while the slayer gets away with only a few years imprisonment at most. (cite: Welchman, L. 2007. Honor and violence against Women in Modern Shar’ia Discourse. Hawwa: Journal of Women in the Middle East and the Islamic World 5(2-3).p.165-247.
State law
in many African and Asian cou...
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