In order to explain the Sharia to your Christian neighbor, simply ask this series of questions:
Do you believe in God?
If so, do you believe that God loves humanity?
If so, do you believe that God wants the best for humanity, individually and collectively?
If so, don’t you think that God would send down guidelines and principles for humanity to follow in order for human beings to flourish?
If so, don’t you think that human flourishing and happiness depends on what happens on the individual and collective levels?
If so, wouldn’t these guidelines and principles apply not only to individual behavior but also to the behavior of society as a whole?
If so, wouldn’t these guidelines and principles have to influence and inform, not only an individual’s personal life and his relationships with God and other people, but also the broader societal laws and ethics of governance, economic practice, family values, etc., i.e., those things that determine the collective well-being and direction of society writ large?
If so, then guess what? That is what the Sharia is: guidelines and principles sent by God that apply not only to individual life but to entire families, communities, and societies, aimed at guiding mankind to its true purpose as worshipers and devotees of Almighty God.
Now you, as a Christian, might not believe that the Sharia is from God, but if you answered all the above questions in the affirmative, then you can at least appreciate the underlying concept at a deep level.
The fact of the matter is, there is no “Christian law” and Jewish Talmudic law has all but been undermined and displaced by reform-minded, secular Jews. In the place of Christian and Jewish law is a secular order based on, among other things, a materialistic, godless understanding of human nature and human purpose. How could God-fearing people see this as ideal?
If you, as a Christian, can appreciate all this, then the Sharia as God’s law, should not, in and of itself, strike you as foreign. In fact, insofar as you believe in God, it is something that you probably crave deep in your bones. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if, for example, governmental authorities prioritized God’s commands and society as a whole were organized according to God’s directives? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if the most powerful and influential institutions of society operated with a sense of greater purpose: to please God and obey Him.
Those who don’t believe in God would disagree, of course. But forget about them for a second. And forget about the fact that different people have different beliefs about what God’s commands actually are. Just focus on the core of the issue: God as King of Kings. God as Ultimate Sovereign. As a believing Christian, isn’t this the kind of world that you really want? Isn’t this the ideal?
OK, well, Muslims have the exact same sentiments, and the Sharia — as a body of ethics, principles, guidelines, and laws — is ultimately the path to realize that ideal.
If you, as a Christian, want to oppose the Sharia, then at least be principled about it. Don’t “sell out” by invoking cheap secular arguments about “separation of church and state” and “freedom of religion,” arguments that are ultimately incoherent anyway. Don’t hide behind liberal secularism to attack Islamic law because that same liberal secularism is equally antithetical to your Christian faith, whether you want to admit it or not. Consider the fact that Europe was the birthplace of liberal secularism and, truth be told, Christianity has not fared well there ever since, to say the least. Christianity has all but died out in countries like the UK, France, Germany, Holland, etc.
If you want to raise substantive critiques again the Sharia that are based on more than what you have seen in 20 second clips of ISIS on Fox News, then I humbly suggest that you, my Christian neighbor, learn more about what the Sharia is and how it speaks to a person’s individual life and spirit, a person’s social dealings, a person’s financial transactions, societal justice, family harmony, and so much more. I am confident that you will find much that resonates with what you have read in the Bible. But if you still have issues, feel free to provide your critique and there can be a constructive dialog and debate.
And if you don’t want to do all that, I hope that you, as a Christian, can still appreciate the Muslim’s devotion to God and his eagerness to obey Him. That is a start.
Here is some further reading.