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Islamic Sharia Law versus Jewish Law

Reader comment on item: [Beltway Snipers]: Converts to Violence?

Submitted by Matt Kennel (United States), Oct 28, 2002 at 17:51

This is a question that perplexes me and has not been satisfactorily answered.

Why is it that many orthodox Muslim movements actually want to have their nation's civil laws actually fully replaced by religious law, as in religious men actually administering trial and punishment with full force of the stat---but orthodox Jews, as I understand, do not generally want this?

In both cases there is textual religious specificity---and especially with the Talmudic tradition---but most Jews, even the most religiously observant, typically limit the applicability to their own societies and personal interactions and do not upset the legitimacy of the state's law.

It is true that in Israel there is significant tension between the orthodox and the non-observant, but even then they are concerned with "social issues" and law, such as driving on the Sabbath and the modesty of public advertisement---not with wholesale replacement of civil and criminal procedure with something quite literally medieval.

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