I understand that it's a doctrine of the Islamic faith and believed in Islam to be mandated by the prophet Muhammad pbuh. But this makes me curious about few things:

  1. In Islam, is a person's adherence to God's law not considered a personal matter between him and God?
  2. Does this come at the expense of sincerity of adherence? If someone is mandated to follow God's law simply out of fear finite punishment from humans, doesn't that make people less likely to follow God's law out of fear and respect of God himself?

2 Answers 2


Firstly, you should make a distinction between Islam and the Islamic government.

It's not the Islam which mandates the Islamic law. Actually Islam doesn't enforce anything. Islam only suggests people and we are free to obey it or not.

Indeed, it's the Islamic government which decides to do so. When the majority of a society choose the Islamic government, say through a democratic election, then the Islamic government is responsible to fulfill their needs. In this case the society itself has felt the need to be governed with Islamic laws. And ideally the Islamic government must leave as soon as the majority change their minds and decide to have another kind of government, say a secular one.

To be brief, no one is allowed to enforce the human except for his lord, Allah. And when he himself hasn't enforced us at all, how could we do that?

  • "It's not the Islam which mandates the Islamic law." Ruling by other than sharia is kufr. see 5:44: "And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers."; that verse is explicitly in the context of law. See also here.
    – G. Bach
    May 20, 2017 at 21:37

Islam is not a personal religion. The Islamic laws cover social issues (e.g. marriage), economic issues (e.g. permissible trades, inheritance, taxation), judicial and legal issues (punishment for crimes like murder and theft), political issues (e.g. war), and so on. Many of these laws are explicitly stated in Quran (e.g. see the second half of البقره). According to Islam these laws have to be implemented in an Islamic society as they are orders from God. These are not personal issues that people can implement them personally.

If you have way of implementing these laws without a government then that might be fine, the main point is these laws has to be implemented in an Islamic society (a society run according to Islam).

Regarding sincerity of someone following Islamic laws, it is God who is going to judge not us and he is aware of what is in people's hearts and he is aware of their intentions. Note that the insincerity can happen even for more personal issues, e.g. see verses 107:3-6 about insincere praying.

  • How does that work? I mean, perhaps this is too complex an issue to be explained in just one comment, but how does it not being a personal religion work? Like, say a person who is Muslim lives in a country that's a democracy that doesn't implement these laws. Is that individual held responsible for not living in a country with those laws? Or is the nation itself held responsible for not upholding God's laws? Aug 20, 2013 at 7:08
  • @Ataraxia, In an Islamic country, that is, in a country run according to Islam, these laws should be implemented. That I think answers the question you posted. If you want to know what happens to these laws in a non-Islamic country or about the situation of a Muslim living in a country that does not follow these laws you should post them as separate questions, a comment is not the right place to ask them.
    – Kaveh
    Aug 20, 2013 at 7:46
  • @David, I don't think the question has much to do with whether you or me like it or not. The question is why Islamic laws have to be enforced by government law and I explain that the social laws in Islam have to be implemented one way or the other, if you have some other way of doing it that can be fine but at least in recent history the social laws in countries have been implemented by governments laws. If you have an issue with those social religious laws being implemented in the first place then that is completely different issue.
    – Kaveh
    Dec 10, 2013 at 9:20
  • @David, From Islamic perspective (AFAIU) these laws have to be implemented in a society run according to Islam, it is expected to be so in any country which claims to be an Islamic country.
    – Kaveh
    Dec 10, 2013 at 9:28
  • I disagree that Islam is not a personal religion, and you don't give any concrete examples supporting your claim. Can you give one?
    – user13203
    Aug 17, 2015 at 23:34

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