Law, Crime and Society in Islamic Jurisprudence




Souryal, Sam S.

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Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion


Judging the religiosity of individuals 1s difficult in itself, is often misleading, and is biblically condemned. Juding the religiosity of societies can be easier since in their aggregate, and in comparison with each other, a distinctive character of docility, of routine activities, and of effective social control can be discerned. Using crime rates as the main indicator, this article attempts t.o examine and explain the religiosity of the Saudi Arabian society since it claims a high level of benevolence due to the application of Shariah (divine) law. The methodology focused on the scrutinization of crime rates in the Kingdom and contrasted them with six Moslem adjacent countries in the region which do not apply Shariah law. The Saudi crime rate was dramatically lower than the median rate among the group, as well as considerably lower than in any individual country. Criminal data were further validated and interpreted by the use of three local self-reporting panels of judges, police officials, and laymen. Conclusions represent a synthesis of the unique role of Shariah law, the infrequency of criminal mc1dents, and ethnographic information collected from personal interviews conducted during a sabbatical leave the author spent m the Kingdom. The study shows that the continuing application of Shariah Jaw in Saudi Arabia has a powerful cleansing influence on society, helps foster a non-criminogenic environment, and confirms some major theories in the literature in religiosity and socialization.


An early authors version of an article printed in the Journal for Scientific Study of Religion


law, Religion, sociology, ISLAMIC law, RELIGION & state, crime


Souryal, S. S.(1987) The Religionization of a Society: The Continuing Application of Sariah Law in Saudi Arabia. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 26(4), 429-449.