Sharia is the legal system of Islam, as well as a moral code that Australian Muslims live by each and every day.

It is derived from Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijtihad (the rulings of Islamic scholars), and provides guidance on day-to-day living as a Muslim (such as how to conduct prayers, halal food, social interactions and helping the poor), as well as a legal framework for areas like family law, finance and wills.

What is important to understand is that Sharia isn’t applied in Australia as a parallel legal system. Muslims are able to practice and uphold the teachings of their faith by incorporating their Sharia requirements within the framework of the Australian legal system. Furthermore, most Australian laws are compliant with sharia (even if they aren’t labelled as ‘Islamic laws’). For those that aren’t compliant (e.g. ability to drink alcohol or structuring of interest rates), Muslims have the freedom and the right to choose not to engage with those specific practises.

Those who seek to mispresent Islam, or are ignorant, will often claim that Sharia means replicating rules of law from countries very different to Australia. But it is important to note that one of the first rules of Sharia is to abide by the laws of the country you reside in.

One of the advantages of living in a multi-cultural, multi-faith society, like Australia, is that religious freedom is protected. Regardless of whether you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or any other faith, the rule of law allows us to practice and teach our faith without persecution.

Beyond the rule of law, it’s also important to acknowledge how complementary Australian and Islamic values really are: Friendship, fairness, justice, freedom of speech, democracy, good education, support for the weak, homeless and needy.

All are all universal values.