Do all Muslims living in Australia follow Sharia law?

In the following interview (disclaimer: may be offensive), I'm not focusing on the statements by politician Jacqui Lambie, but the statements made by Barrie Cassidy:

BARRIE CASSIDY: Right. Now, you've had a few things to say about sharia law this week. "Anyone who supports sharia law should pack their bags and get out of the country." Do you stand by those comments?

BARRIE CASSIDY: What do you understand sharia law to mean?


BARRIE CASSIDY: But they're not saying they don't support the Constitution. Sharia law is a - it's a religious framework, but Muslims in Australia, the moderate Muslims, don't follow the extreme tenets of sharia law, in the same that way Christians don't take literally some of the violence that's inherent in the Old Testament.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But then, why aren't you urging Muslims not to accept the extreme elements of it? But by saying that if you reject sharia law, full stop, you're asking them to reject their religion.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But you're saying, though, if they follow their faith, they have no place in Australia?


BARRIE CASSIDY: But you say that you reject sharia law full stop, not just the extreme elements of it.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So they would have to abandon their faith.

Regarding "extreme tenets", is there such a thing as "extreme tenets"? Basically, do some Muslims choose to follow certain tenets, and ignore other tenets?

Also, do all Muslims follow sharia law? Would "reject[ing] sharia law full stop" equate to abandoning Islam?

  • relevant comment on another question: islam.stackexchange.com/questions/21603/… Jan 30, 2015 at 4:31
  • Well, you can't really make the whole Muslim population anywhere follow the Sharia law so my answer would be don't think so xxx
    – user11788
    Jan 31, 2015 at 20:17

3 Answers 3

Do all Muslims living in Australia follow Sharia law?

No, indeed they cannot, as Australian law neither acknowledges or otherwise accomodates the tenets of Sharia law. Sharia must either be implemented by the state or at least allowed by it (Cassidy displays some ignorance in this regard) - Australia does neither. Consequently, Muslims do not have the option of 'following' Sharia if they reside in Australia. Organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir* are currently lobbying for the recognition of aspects of Sharia within Australia - thus far, they have not acheived their aims in this regard.

*Quoting from linked site:

1. The Reasons for the Establishment of Hizb ut-Tahrir

Hizb ut-Tahrir was established in response to the saying of Allah (swt),

"Let there be among you a group that invites to the good, orders what is right and forbids what is evil, and they are those who are successful" [TMQ 3:104]

Its purpose was to revive the Islamic Ummah from the severe decline that it had reached, and to liberate it from the thoughts, systems and laws of Kufr, as well as the domination and influence of the Kufr states. It also aims to restore the Islamic Khilafah State so that the ruling by what Allah (swt) revealed returns. (emphasis added)

ie, This organisation does not acknowledge the legitimacy of Australian law or the Australian state itself and seeks to replace it with an Islamic state that will administer Sharia.


Hi from an Australian Muslim convert.

Yes, Muslims living in Australia follow Sharia Law. In fact, basically all Muslims (everywhere) follow Sharia Law. Analogously, Christians (everywhere) follow the rules stipulated in the Bible (the Christian equivalent of Sharia Law).

What is Sharia Law?

There's a lot of confusion in Australia about what Sharia Law actually means: see my answer to What is Sharia Law? for a simple description.

Often when Australian politicians talk about Sharia Law, they're alluding to executions, floggings, hands being cut off, etc.; basically corporal and capital punishment. I expect these are considered the "extreme tenets" of Islam, along with jihad perhaps.

Some points:

  • Sharia punishments like these need to go through Sharia courts and Sharia judges (qadi); in Australia, we don't have Sharia courts. We can expect to be punished in the afterlife for violating Sharia Law (and possibly in a civil court, if we violate Australian Law).

  • Muslims are required to obey the law of the land:

    Muslims are generally obliged to abide by the laws of the land and the country they live in, whether it is a Islamic state (al-khilafa), Muslim countries, or non-Muslim countries such as those in the west, as long as they are not ordered to practice something that is against Shariah.

  • The lesser jihad involves fighting back against those who are fighting Islam (Islam Q&A).

To Muslims, the bulk of Sharia Law applies for everyday things: we don't eat pork, women wear hijab, praying five times a day, we don't drink alcohol, we pray five times a day, we don't commit crimes, we give to charity, we eat halal food, and so on. It's all legal in Australia, but it's not newsworthy.

(And, with this understanding, it's strange to ask if Muslims follow Sharia Law: of course they do. It's like asking a Christian if they follow the Bible. It's also why you get Yassmin Abdel-Magied asking Jacqui Lambie Do you know what Sharia Law is? on Q&A.)

In response to:

Basically, do some Muslims choose to follow certain tenets, and ignore other tenets?

Well, yes. Muslims are not perfect.

However, Muslims can choose to follow Sharia Law and simultaneously adhere Australian Law. I'm not aware of any Australian Law which prevents Muslims from following Sharia Law correctly, and it'd probably be unconstitutional to introduce such a law:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
Section 116 of the Constitution of Australia, Wikipedia

However, if such laws did exist, we are instructed by the Qur'an (and hence by Sharia Law) to simply go somewhere else (Was not the earth of Allah spacious [enough] for you to emigrate therein? Qur'an 4:97). A related question is What should I do if Canadian law and Sharia law are incompatible?

What does Sharia Law in Australia look like?

Let me give some examples how following Sharia Law (in Australia) affects me personally:

  • I don't drink alcohol, nor go to bars.
  • I wear hijab.
  • I pay zakat (charity).
  • I moved my money to a bank account without interest.
  • I moved my superannuation to Crescent Wealth.
  • I pray.
  • I only eat halal food.
  • (And many more things I forgot to list.)

Violating one of these would violate Sharia Law, and if I'm not granted forgiveness from Allah, I would expect to be punished in the afterlife. I do this only because it says to in the Qur'an (i.e., because of Sharia Law). This is what everyday Muslims essentially mean when they say they follow Sharia Law.

Some other aspects of Sharia Law in Australia:

  1. When we need a ruling, we can ask an imam or a scholar (or Google it); it's not legally binding. This is how Sharia Law is implemented in Australia: punishments for violating Sharia Law (if required) are administered by Allah in the afterlife.

  2. Islamic marriages are performed in Australia in accordance with both Sharia Law and Australian Law (which restricts the age of marriage and prohibits polygamy).

  3. There are mosques scattered around; when I'm in Melbourne, I go to the Emir Sultan Mosque. There's some Islamic schools in Australia, such as Werribee College.

In answer to:

Would "reject[ing] sharia law full stop" equate to abandoning Islam?

It's classed as Kufr ul-Istibdal (Disbelief because of trying to substitute Allah's Laws); see SunnahOnline.com (adapted from Tafsir Ibn Kathir). Rejecting the entirety of Sharia Law would be rejecting a huge amount of the Qur'an.

  • 2
    A simple way of putting this could be that all the laws are followed, but the punishments for breaking them is not enforced (except by an Islamic State).
    – The Z
    Mar 27, 2018 at 2:00

She's talking about something that she clearly doesn't fully understand. Note how long it took her to come up with something to say when asked, "What does sharia law mean?"

  • First, you should know that sharia law is not a book, it's a set of rules derived from the Quran and the Sunah (the Prophet's deeds and sayings) by Muslims as a result of their understanding of both of these sources.
  • Being created by many Muslims over time you'll find some variation of interpretation in some cases unless the Quran or Sunah have explicitly addressed it.
  • A Muslim should follow Quran and Sunah and for the matters that are not clear he can follow an interpretation "Fatwa" from Imam (which could deffer slightly from one to another).
  • Among these variation you'll find the "extreme tenets" who happens to take things out of context "jihad" (you see them killing each other in their countries for stupid reasons while Palestine is destroyed).

In summary, sharia law is not a single hard line to follow or reject. The main thing is to follow the Quran and Sunah.

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