Codifying a Sharia-based Criminal Law in Developing Muslim Countries

9 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2019

See all articles by Paul H. Robinson

Paul H. Robinson

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Date Written: March 1, 2019


This paper reproduces presentations made at the University of Tehran in March 2019 as part of the opening and closing remarks for a Conference on Criminal Law Development in Muslim-Majority Countries. The opening remarks discuss the challenges of codifying a Shari’a-based criminal code, drawing primarily from the experiences of Professor Robinson in directing codification projects in Somalia and the Maldives. The closing remarks apply many of those lessons to the situation currently existing in Iran. Included is a discussion of the implications for Muslim countries of Robinson’s social psychology work on the power of social influence and internalized norms that comes from criminal law’s tracking the shared judgments of justice of the community – “empirical desert” (included is a discussion in the closing remarks of the power of Tom Tyler’s “legitimacy” that is derived from fair and professional adjudication procedures).

Keywords: Islamic criminal law & procedure, Shari'a, justice, codification, fair notice, uniform application, moral credibility, proportionality, procedural fairness, conflicts with local norms, moral authority, social psychology, unpredictability, inconsistency, transparency, legitimacy

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Paul H., Codifying a Sharia-based Criminal Law in Developing Muslim Countries (March 1, 2019). U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-15, Available at SSRN: or

Paul H. Robinson (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

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