Sharia is the term given for Muslim law. The chief source of Sharia is the Quran which is considered the Divine law as revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Next in importance as source material for Sharia is the Hadith and the Sunnah. The Hadith is the collection of the statements, actions, approvals and criticisms by The Prophet on and about something said or done in his presence while the Sunnah refers to the verbally transmitted record of his specific words (Sunnah Qawliyyah), his habits and practices (Sunnah al Fiiliyyah) and his silent approvals (Sunnah Taqririyyah]. The Prophet was considered the best role model by Muslims and as the messenger of God it was part of his responsibility to be a role model for Muslims. Sharia thus guides the behavior of Muslims and deals with several topics ranging from crime, diet, etiquette, economics, fasting, hygiene, prayer, sexual intercourse.
In the course of Islamic history Sharia has been expanded and developed by the interpretation of various Islamic Jurist and implemented by their rulings on questions presented to them. It led to the growth of various schools of jurisprudence like Hanafi, Maliki shafii, Hanbali and Jafari. These are known as Fiqh. These schools use the following guidelines viz ljma or consensus of Muhammad companions , Qiyas or analogy derived from primary sources, and Istihsan or ruling that serves the interest of Islam in the discretion of Islamic jurist and Urf or Customs.
Hindu law is known as Dharma and is defined in those texts collectively called the Dharma Sastras. These include the Sruti and Smritis. The term Sruti is the collective reference to the four Vedas which are considered to have divine origin. Smritis refer to Manusmriti, Naradasmriti and Parasharasmriti written by renowned and learned sages.
The main difference between Sharia and Dharma arises in the difference in the nature of their respective primary source i.e The Koran and The Vedas. The Koran divides humanity into the believers or Muslims and Non-believers or Kafirs. The Ved on the other hand considers the whole of mankind as one single entity due to the presence within each, of the God Principle or Atma.
The secondary sources of Islam are based on the behavior of the Prophet. An analysis of the prophet’s behavior with the general public of a defeated country is devoid of humanity and compassion. The Prophet waged wars on his neighbors and indulged in seizing of properties , mass abduction of women and girls, enslavement and beheading . This behavior pattern is replicated even today by Muslim groups like the Taliban and the Islamic state and Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. On the other hand the secondary sources of the Hindu laws are the Texts namely Manusmriti, Naradasmriti etc which prescribe a careful scrutiny of the crime committed and punishment according to the severity of the wrong done. These are practical laws that take into consideration the rights of the criminal and the part played by his background in his behavior.
Treatment of Minorities
The Sharia operating in Muslim nations deny basic rights, security and opportunities to Non-Muslim Citizens. In the name of Sharia Non-Muslims are segregated and made to distinguish themselves with identification marks. We saw this in Taliban ruled Afghanistan, in the treatment of Christian minorities in the Middle East and with Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Hindu laws however apply equally to all irrespective of how they address their gods. Muslim minorities are much better off than Hindu minorities are in Muslim countries.
Treatment of Women
Sharia denies women the right of equality, forces on them a dress code and mutilates them in the name of religion. Hindu law however gives women importance in the household, respects their womanhood and their role as wife and mothers.
The Sharia has not changed since the time of the prophet who lived in the 7th Century AD. In the past 1315 years it has remained the same. Hindu law in contrast adopts and modifies with time.
The situation that Muslim nations find themselves today is mainly due to the nature of their Sharia while condition of India today with all the challenges it is currently facing reflects the flexibility and inclusive nature of its Dharam.