Sharia, Canon, New Zealand law

There is a lack of understanding and a lot of misinformation about Islam and Sharia law.

Some Muslim countries have awful (to me) legal systems and practices. So do some Christian based countries, and also countries not associated with a specific religion, like China and Russia – see Insulting Putin May Now Land You in Jail Under a New Russian Law.

New Zealand lawyer Felix Geiringer (who studied Sharia at University and has worked as a lawyer in the field of Islamic finance) has written An attempt at demystifying Sharia.

Sharia is a legal system which seeks to extend the religious principles of Islam into a legal structure applicable to daily life.  You could think of it as the Islamic counterpart to Judaism’s Halakha or Catholicism’s Canon Law.  However, there are differences between them.

Catholicism has a well-defined hierarchy, and senior office holders have the power to make law.  Sharia doesn’t work that way.  I’ve also heard it said that Sharia and Halakha seek to extend into every part of a devotee’s life in a way that Canon does not.   There are also significant differences between Sharia and Halakha, but that seems to be a particularly controversial topic and I do not address it here.

Sharia law is mostly derived by analogy from the two foundation texts: the Quran (God’s revelations to Muhammad) and the Sunnah (a record of Muhammad’s life).

Like common law judges, there are people in the Islamic world who are respected as being able to apply this reasoning and make decisions on new issues as they arise.  And, like the common law, there is scope for different people to reach different conclusions.  The decisions such people reach can have authoritative weight outside of the issues before them – more so if a consensus has arisen between multiple such decisions from different jurists.

There are acts of violence described in the foundation texts which are antithetical to modern civilised society – just like there are in the Bible.  But, also just like the Bible, there are many passages extolling virtues like love and kindness, and urging people to look after their neighbours and those less fortunate than them.

Supporters of Islam often promote the “love and kindness” parts (this had been prevalent in New Zealand in the wake of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks). Opponents of Islam promote “acts of violence described in the foundation texts” (while ignoring similar in Christian foundation texts).

Modern Muslims living in accordance with Sharia derive workable rules for living in the modern world from fundamental principles taken from the foundation texts.  Modern Muslims do not think Sharia requires them to pretend it is still the 7th Century in the same way that modern Christians do not kill all people who work on Sundays (Exodus 35:2).

There are Islamic states that have, for example, criminal justice systems that do not conform to New Zealand’s standards of fairness or proportionality.  They implement those systems in the name of Sharia. Yet, there are other people who consider themselves devout Muslims and who argue that that is a misapplication of Sharia.

Remember that there are about 1.8 billion Muslims in many countries around the world, living under a wide variety of legal systems. Some are not as good as others.

In Islamic finance, I dealt, in particular, with two fundamental principles: the prohibition of usury; and the prohibition of gambling.

That is usury in its original meaning – charging interest.  You know, the thing that annoyed Jesus so much he drove everyone out of a Temple with whips.  Despite Jesus’ low opinion of money lenders, usury in the Christian world went from prohibiting any interest, to prohibiting too much interest, to payday lenders advertising on television.

Equally, the problems with gambling are well known in our society.  At one end, it persuades some of our least well paid to put everything they earn into pokies.  At the other, it crashed the world economy in 2007.

Islamic finance finds ways to allow financing that depend on neither interest nor speculation.  It is a difficult, but not impossible, task.  The financing structures that are created are, at the least, useful alternatives to mainstream finance.  For example, contracts have been devised which enable someone to buy a house without unaffordable mortgage payments by instead sharing the house value growth.

That sounds similar to shared equity type mortgages that have been proposed in New Zealand recently to try to overcome the difficulties of buying a first property here.

Should we fear the arrival of Sharia?  Actually, it is already here and has been for a very long time.  It will have arrived with the first Muslims to settle here in the middle of the 19thCentury.  It is still here with those who chose to arrange their affairs in accordance with it.  Just like there are people in New Zealand who follow Halakha or Canon.

What about Sharia becoming part of the mainstream law of New Zealand?  Again, arguably it already is to at least a limited extent.  In recognising the applicability of principles of tikanga, our courts have noted that the common law method has always taken account of the common traditions of subcultures within society.   I am not aware of a case that has done this, but, notwithstanding the relative importance of tikanga to New Zealand, I would expect that weight would also be given to Sharia in a case that appropriately raised it.

That won’t include applying the most brutal examples of Sharia law to the Christchurch terrorist, as some people have suggested. He is likely to have to contemplate his crimes (alleged to have committed 50 murders and 42 attempted murders) for the rest of his life in a confined space, possibly alone to protect him.

While there is plenty of room to improve, I would also argue that our general laws, public institutions, and major private institutions, have been steadily moving away from an assumption that we are all Pakeha Christians.  Gradually our laws have been shifting to ones that seek to genuinely accommodate people of all cultural backgrounds, including Islam.

As they should in a multi-cultural multi religion secular society.

No doubt there are people who think that (their interpretation of) Sharia should be universally imposed, just as there will be people who think that way about Halakha and Canon and many other ideologies.

…Muslims are no different to the rest of us.  The vast majority either just want to be left alone or are happy to argue for the social changes they believe in through our political process.

I presume that most Muslims are similar to most non-Muslims in New Zealand, wanting to avoid having to do with criminal law.

In 2008, the then Archbishop of Canterbury gave a speech about how this inclusion of parts of Sharia in our mainstream legal structures was a good thing.  This was for two reasons.  First, Muslims in our society would be grateful of the availability of Sharia compliant alternatives that allow them to both follow their faith and fully participate in society.

And secondly, the rest of us might find that some of those Sharia compliant alternatives are good alternatives for us regardless of our faith (bring on more availability of interest free home loans!).

Or at least different mortgage structures to enable more people to buy their own houses.

It is a cheap (but frighteningly ubiquitous) trick for people to compare the best of their preferred system with the worst of someone else’s.

There will be some hard core Muslims and some hard core Christians who will probably always do this, though in New Zealand over the past week Christians, Muslims and other people of other religions have been coming together promoting the best of their faiths.

The truth, of course, is that the world is diverse.  Islam is no more inherently bad than Christianity.

There are plenty of examples of bad practitioners of Islam and bad practitioners of Christianity (and non religious bad practitioners), but the vast majority of religious and non religious practitioners want peace and harmony in their lives, and understand that this means living alongside 9and sometimes with) people with different faiths and practices.

I am not advocating for New Zealand to become an Islamic state, far from it.

No one is seriously advocating that. The only suggestions of that possibility are from scaremongerers.

New Zealand must remain a free and democratic country. But an essential component of that is pluralism.  We need not fear people expressing views merely because those views are drawn from Sharia.  Indeed, there are fundamental principles of Sharia to which we would all relate.

There’s a lot of overlap between fundamental principles of Sharia and fundamental principles of Canon and Halakha.

We should look for the best of that, and not fear the worst.





  1. Ray

     /  23rd March 2019

    In this time of low interest I have seriously considered putting money into Muslim banks because of their profit sharing, looking at the long game rather than the “big picture”.

    I see Brian Tamaki, self appointed “apostle bishop” is quite happy to show his ignorance about other religions publicly.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd March 2019

      He doesn’t call himself an apostle bishop, does he ? 😀 Not even he could be that arrogant…oh, never mind, silly me…

      He seems unaware of the passage in, I think, Deuteronomy about bastards not leading the congregation unto the 10th generation; his son, who is being groomed to take over from Dad, is one.

      He also seems unaware of the passage in the NT about what a bishop should be like.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  23rd March 2019

        Deut. XXIII, 2. My mistake; entering the congregation, not leading it.

        ‘This is a true saying; if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good thing.

        A bishop then must be blameless. the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, apt to teach.

        Not given to wine, no striker, , not greedy of filthy lucre but patient,, not a brawler, not covetous.

        (my bold)

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  23rd March 2019

    If we don’t share a common law I don’t see how we can have justice. The issue is not whether NZ becomes an Islamic state but whether it becomes a divided state.

    • We should have common law, but how that law is applied and the consequences of applying that law have always been variable. One of the problems with how this has been done is that common law has been applied disproportionately to some segments of the population, who have then become caught in unlawful ruts.

      We have a wide range of common law penalties – fines, reparation, community service, home detention, imprisonment, diversion etc. Obviously they cannot all be applied to everyone exactly the same – they have been designed to be applied appropriate to particular circumstances.

      That doesn’t divide us – except into those who can afford lawyers to reduce their penalties and those who can’t.

  3. Mother

     /  23rd March 2019

    The debate re Sharia vs Christian law needs to include discussions about Christianity in this age. God’s people are always slow to understand and obey Him. The argument about the Bible having violent ideas is central to this argument. The churches are caught on the hop with this debate. Interesting times.

    The Bible, old and new testaments, is God’s story of working with the people He loves.

    Christianity’s prophet is Jesus. Anyone who claims to be a prophet* since Jesus’ walk on earth is a counterfeit.

    Does it come down to who to believe? Christianity’s prophet? Or Islam’s prophet?

    *not to be confused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit which include prophecy.

    • You are way behind the times. Especially after the past week it is not a them versus us war, it is a matter of better understanding each other and living alongside people of different cultures and faiths.

      Christian superiority has long been a source of conflict and war (as has Muslim superiority and Jewish superiority). We have to be better than that in the modern world.

      And you are leaving out the majority of New Zealanders, those who don’t adhere to selected interpreted words of either or any prophet.

      • Mother

         /  23rd March 2019

        There is no such thing as Christian superiority PG. Christians look to Jesus the Saviour because of their wretchedness and inferiority.

        I’m not leaving out any people. Of course I know that the majority of Kiwis have not chosen Christianity.

        I think you are behind the times. This calamity is turning your mind over. Good, but you are being very hard on others. Hardly the way of the future as you preach.

        • See what I have said in regards your previous comment.

          [Your views have already made clear about Christianity versus Islam, you have had some freedom to state them. Your promoting of one and trashing of the other not appropriate here. To me it is a form of religious hate speech. I don’t want you to keep doing it here. PG]

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  23rd March 2019

            Thank you PG for finally taking a stand and calling @Mother out on the hate speech crap. Kitty and I both called it out in your post from a week ago, the one where you said this place would change.

            @Mother: please, find a street corner or a park rotunda – go there and preach your hang-ups. This isn’t the place.

            • Changing things is not a simple process. I have tried to get a reasonable balance between letting people express themselves on a very difficult and emotional topic, but to stop things straying into the divisive and negative. I have also not been able to be on hand as every comment has been posted, so haven’t been able to deal with everything as it happens. It will continue to be a work in progress.

            • Mother

               /  23rd March 2019

              You didn’t call anything out Joe, and now you are trolling. Why bring Kitty into this? I think she’s a lady who knows when to M her OB.

              You attacked me and I pushed through with my viewpoint.

              You jumped in here to discredit me. More slurs. PG in truth owns a hateful blog. As a follower of Christ I have copped plenty of it.

              Go ahead PG. Ban me. You’ll be left with several haters who consistently threaten free speech.

              Censoring me is a form of banning.

              How about this idea? Post my booklet under my name and I will not post here again.

              Put us all out of this troublesome cycle of abuse PG?

        • Mother

           /  23rd March 2019

          The Muslim leader mentioned how Islam and Churches and other religions have come together.

          PG, would you please post a few pages I wrote about Church? I would like to do so under my name. I wrote it about a week before the atrocity. I’m an isolated individual. No war here.

          ‘Them vs us war’ is another frustrating slur. It’s simply not true.

          • Mother

             /  23rd March 2019

            ‘Religious hate speech’ is another slur.

            • It sounds to me like you hate Islam.

              Is it that, or fear of having your own beliefs challenged by slightly different beliefs?

            • Mother

               /  23rd March 2019

              I have no hate for Muslims and no fear of other religions. I very much appreciate the above post.

              If anything, I would have a mandate to hate the churches who abused my family.

              Writing one’s ideas helps to hone thought process. When I first arrived on YNZ I wrote about our ‘Christian heritage’. Those ideas have now evolved, not least because of PartZ. I hope you will post my booklet.

              I enjoy having my beliefs challenged. That’s another slur. Where does it come from?

              Hate is useful. If we don’t hate evil, we will succumb to it. I’m pleased that you have experienced the love of people with various beliefs.

              Why are you hating on me?

  4. Blazer

     /  23rd March 2019

    ‘profit’ …indeed.


  5. Zedd

     /  23rd March 2019

    ‘modern Christians do not kill all people who work on Sundays (Exodus 35:2)’

    actually Exodus 35:2 refers to ‘the Sabbath’ which is Today (Saturday) another modern ‘error’ perpetrated by RCC.

    The Bible also contradicts itself.. by saying in 10 commandments: ‘Thou shalt not kill’

    I also understand that the Qur’an was not given to Mohammed (PBUH) to create a ‘new religion’ but supposedly ‘to correct the errors’ that had ‘crept into the Bible’ over centuries of rewriting & translating

    BUT many folks still listen to the Disinfo. that says things like ‘Islam is about repressing its followers’ & even that ‘Allah is not the arabic name for GOD, but is Satan/Devil worship’ & other such nonsense :/

    • Zedd

       /  23rd March 2019

      ‘La ilaha il Allah Mohammed-ur Rasool Allah’

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  23rd March 2019

        The Bible also advocates cutting off of hands.

        Most people seem unaware that ‘an eye for an eye’ meant simply that the punishment must not exceed the crime.

        One of the best things I have heard is that God doesn’t mind what He’s called, any more than a father would care if his children call him Dad, Daddy, Father etc.

  6. Mother

     /  23rd March 2019

    [Deleted. Your views have already made clear about Christianity versus Islam, you have had some freedom to state them. Your promoting of one and trashing of the other not appropriate here. To me it is a form of religious hate speech. I don’t want you to keep doing it here. PG]

    • Zedd

       /  23rd March 2019

      ‘Christianity has zero involvement in Politics.’ sez Mother

      What about the Vatican, which has diplomatic ambassadors to many countries ?
      aka ‘The Holy See’

      • Mother

         /  23rd March 2019

        Catholicism is not Christianity Zedd.

        Anything which closely resembles Christianity while secretly (or overtly) denying the power of the cross (amongst other virtue counterfeits) is the opposite of Christianity – meanwhile fooling many.

        The power of the cross has zero involvement with human politics, except where an individual Christian is placed by God’s will in a position of political power. There is no Group Think involved, but there might be Body of Christ good influence.

        The end times will be utterly confusing. The big question always stays the same – when? None can know. I favour the idea that we might have 500 years more. That’s why I appreciate the conversations about love, and also ask others to consider the possibility of counterfeit love in our society (churches especially).

        They’re just suggestions PG. Are you in such an emotional state still that you need to censor my suggestions and add slurs to my pseudonym?

        I believe in love. God is Love.

        The slurs and hatred have the opposite effect of silencing me. (I want to stay away because I am busy.) It was like this too with the churches. Once their hatred came to the fore, I stayed to fight for love’s sake. They had to kick me out to get rid of my voice.

        • Zedd

           /  23rd March 2019

          ‘Catholicism is not Christianity Zedd.’ sez Mother

          I agree 100%; in fact some have read the passages in the book of Daniel, that talk about the ‘little horn Antichrist power’ & think the RCC fits it perfectly.. BUT I need to be clear; I try to look at all religions at face value, not based on Lies & half-truths 🙂

          If you follow the narrative of most, WE all will be answering, for our actions on ‘Judgement day’… believe it or not ? :/

          • Zedd

             /  23rd March 2019

            WE all will be answering, for our actions on ‘Judgement day’

            *This is also highlighted in the Qur’an

        • I haven’t expressed any hatred for anyone. I have called you on what I see as divisive speech which I see as a form of religious hate speech.

    • Mother

       /  23rd March 2019

      ‘Trashing’? More slurs from an emo.

  7. Conspiratoor

     /  23rd March 2019

    New immigrants who have lived their lives under sharia law can struggle to come to terms with our cultural ‘peculiarities’. As Bob Jones discovered when he was invited to Mangere Refugee Centre in his role as a strong supporter and financial backer of young refugees

    • Mother

       /  23rd March 2019

      That’s funny😄

      If we get some Muslim religious inspired laws in the future, please God – do not let wife beating be legalised. I’ve only just found my voice, and our daughters think it’s wonderful!

      • Domestic battery surges in Russia after decriminalisation

        The State Duma signed a bill early last year to decriminalise some forms of domestic abuse in Russia – a move condemned by critics as the sanctioning of violence.

        Ekaterina Khodzhaeva has a PhD in sociology and is a researcher at the Institute for the Rule of Law. She says reports of domestic assaults have steadily risen over the past year.

        “The complete decriminalisation of battery occurred in the spring of 2017 and, strangely enough, the cases of recorded violence became more prevalent,” says Khodzhaeva.

        “The fact that there is a record of conviction or even involvement can significantly affect the future of the offender’s children. This deterred the victims of domestic abuse from going to the police. However, the change to administrative prosecution has reduced these risks, leading to the reported cases of violence increasing.”

        In the first half of 2017, courts were inundated with nearly three times more battery cases than in 2015.

        New Zealand law and policing practice has moved in the opposite direction over the last few decades, with an increasingly hard line taken against domestic violence and abuse. there is no sign of that changing, nor any reason for it to change.

        Actual pressure promoting violence – groups and parties with supposedly Christian principles continue to campaign for the law to change to allow them to legally hit children.

        • Mother

           /  23rd March 2019

          I have shown on YourNZ that I am not aligned with Christians who try to force religion upon others. Christians should not be forming political parties. If any group think they are a church fellowship who can enforce best practise upon others, they are deluded and wasting God’s time.

          I agree with you that love will unite us. I wish that you would cease attacking my comments with slurs and censorship. It’s hurtful – the opposite of love. Love is not a series of increasingly higher hoops to jump through.

          • MaureenW

             /  23rd March 2019

            First lie of the day. You may not be aligned with others but certainly one of your agendas here has been to bore people with your religion to the extent you’re asked to desist, but carry on anyway. A troll with an agenda.

            • Mother

               /  23rd March 2019

              So, Maureen now acknowledges that I am speaking as an isolated individual – no agenda.

              She has called me a liar, a bored trouble maker, a money requester and a hypocrite. She never stops trolling and mocking my comments. She never debates an issue with me and she rarely adds value. She again implies that PG is sick of me. Personally, I find that hard to believe. I think PG is compassionate. The atrocity of terrorism has shaken him up.

              I think Maureen should desist from her trolling once and for all. She has told us that she detests all religions. Of course she will think my posts are boring. What sort of person spends their time reading boring stuff?

            • MaureenW

               /  23rd March 2019

              Where did I imply PG was sick of you? You are projecting. I don’t have any line to PG and don’t profess to know what he thinks and write it here.

            • Zedd

               /  23rd March 2019

              at this time; we all perhaps need to be careful to avoid, what could be seen as extreme views.. I too am guilty, occasionally :/

              BUT I’ll leave this to ‘our leader (PG)’ to decide 🙂

            • Mother

               /  23rd March 2019

              What ‘could be seen’ as extreme views?

              Really? Mish mush and further attempts to slur?

              This is blog! Of course individuals are entitled to see things however they see things.

            • Zedd

               /  23rd March 2019

              ‘This is blog! Of course individuals are entitled to see things however they see things.’ sez Mother

              too true ! 🙂

              btw: I have had a few comments removed/censored too; the nature of the blog

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd March 2019

      Thanks for that link, C. I’ve bookmarked Jones’ website for future uncommon sense and humour. His perspective on Chch is also worth reading:

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  23rd March 2019

        People go to Islamic countries either unaware of the laws about drinking alcohol or not prepared to respect them.

    • Corky

       /  23rd March 2019

      But, Con.. Sir Bob Jones is a rich prick Righty…and he’s supporting refugees?! Good gracious.

      The link you posted is very funny on one level. On another level it isn’t funny. That attitude becomes our problem.

  8. artcroft

     /  23rd March 2019

    I disagree with the thesis of the post, which seems to be diversity in legal interpretations and use of sources is a positive thing. Clarity is a better thing. We are a secular society built on secular understandings of life. Private life can embrace different philosophies but public institutions such as the law should only be influenced by secular philosophies.

    The principle I particularly highlight is equality before the law. The law should be blind to gender, race, religion, sexuality, and ethnicity. And not one inch given to ideologies that that make special pleadings for one group over another. And there are plenty of those.

    • Mother

       /  23rd March 2019

      Yes, politically we need to hold fast to our secular understandings of life. Yet it is inevitable that people will practise religion.

      As I have consistently pointed out – Christianity is for individuals. It’s the only way it works. It’s largely lonely, except that the Body of Christ is warm and caring.

      The post embraces political views based on religion. This is dangerous. (Just as our knee jerk colonial set up of laws based on the Christian/Judeo mindset was unfair, and dangerous to the indigenous people.)

      Please post my booklet PG. Then I’ll be out of your hair. It would be a season in my life completed (there you go Maureen – an agenda!)

      • Blazer

         /  23rd March 2019

        ‘ Yet it is inevitable that people will practise religion.’…no its not.

        Athiests don’t…bother.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  23rd March 2019

          Many atheists are as fervent as fundies.

          I don’t believe in aliens who come here and kidnap people, but don’t go all out to disprove it or bang on and on about it.

    • Brad

       /  23rd March 2019

      Thank You the most sensible comment today