Community justice is a relatively new trend in Western countries. The concept refers to all measures that explicitly include the community in the justice process (Karp and Clear, 2000), especially instances in which crime and justice affect community life. Community justice includes the processes of community crime prevention (Bennet, 1998), community policing (Goldstein, 1990), community defence (Stone, 1996), community prosecution (Boland, 1998), community courts (Rottman, 1996), and restorative sanctioning system (Bazemore, 1998). The traditional aim of community justice is not to replace the existing justice system, nor to invalidate any existing procedural rights of offenders and victims, but rather to arrange a sanction that is fair and substantively adequate to meeting the needs of the victim, the offender and the community, and further enhance the community quality of life (Clear and Karp, 2000).
Traditional criminal justice is normally claimed and realised by both judicial and police systems, which are governmental organs. In line with these agencies, the avenues of community justice are typically regarded to be democratic and decentralised. The distinct traditional boundaries between the role of the state and the role of community are challenged in the community justice approach. From this perspective, community justice is viewed to be far removed from Middle Eastern countries, which are often accused of being autocratic, thus, lacking the perceived foundations of democracy. However, at its core, the focus of community justice is public safety and the quality of community life, which is not exclusive to any governmental or political system. A look at Middle Eastern cultures illustrates that community justice does exist in these Islamic countries; moreover, presence may be more substantial than in Western countries. Islamic countries are characterised with low crime rates (Fajnzylber et al., 1998; Haroon, 1993; Mohammad, 1991; Souryal, 1990; United Nations, 1993), which Western scholars tend to attribute to harsh punishments, such as amputation, beheading, or public stoning. However, the true reason may lie in less extreme aspects of society, including the prevalence of community justice.
Community justice in the Middle East, perceived as a partnership between formal criminal justice and the community, is deeply rooted in religion and social institutions. It operates at a policing stage, adjudicating stage, or correcting stage. They target community-level outcomes by focusing on problem solving (short- or long-term), restoring victims and communities, strengthening normative standards and reintegrating offenders (Crawford, 1995).
Islam and law
The word of 'Islam' means 'submission or surrender to Allah's (God's) will'. All Muslims must first and foremost obey and submit to Allah's will. Of course, Islam is not merely a religious influence but also a set of political, legal, economic, and social doctrines that influence and guide the norms and practices of believers and societies (Kurtz, 1995; Groves et al., 1985; Turner, 1974). For Muslims and for those living in Islamic states, theocracy heavily influences all matters, both public and private. Islamic law is controlled, ruled and regulated by the Islamic religion, which is inherently different from the common law or continent law systems. There is a lack of separation of mosque (church) and state in Islamic law--a fact that is often novel, and sometimes misunderstood, for non-Muslim scholars. The religion, law, and government are integrated. The judiciary is not an independent institution but an extension of the political authority. Although implementation of this concept varies across different Islamic countries, all governments and civil authorities are based on it (Wiechman, Kendall and Azarian: online). Saudi Arabia is a state which particularly sticks to traditional Islamic law which is known as Shariah law.
The Shariah law means the path to follow God's law. It is so comprehensive that it rules or regulates all public and private behaviours, ranging from such domains as border disputes, international conflicts, hygiene, diet, sexual conduct, and elements of child rearing (Abdel Haleem, Sharef and Daniels, 2003; Peters, 2005).
Shariah works not only as law, but also as an ideal ethical system (Turner, 1974). The Shariah law has five sources from which to draw its guiding principles. The first is the Quran, which is the holy book for all Muslims. The second source is the teaching of the Prophet Mohammad, called Sunna, which is not explicitly found in Quran. These first two categories of crimes are processed in Shariah court. The third source for Shariah law is Ijma, which is the consensus on specific issues reached by Ulama, who are religious scholars. The Ijma embraces concepts and ideas not found explicitly in either Quran or Sunna. The fourth source is Qiyas, which are judicial decisions made by a higher judge on cases occurring in modern society. This is similar to legal precedent in western common law systems. The Ijma and Qiyas are made to cater to the new crimes, which were observed in traditional societies. Judges have great discretion in applying Ijma and Qiyas to a specific case (Schacht, 1964). The fifth source is called 'all encompassing', which theoretically includes all helpful information on specific cases, such as the New Testament, local custom, or a suspect's social status (Wiechman, Kendall and Azarian: online). The Ijma, Qiyas and 'all encompassing', in many cases, are developed through various governmental decrees which specify codes of behaviour and regulations. For example, fields such as corporate law, taxation, oil, gas, and immigration give rise to new cases that are usually handled administratively by governmental officials (Wiechman, Kendall and Azarian: online). In short, Islamic law is well established and updated to present time. Saudi jurisprudence will refer to resources and authentic documents to find the correct course of action if the Islamic regulations stated in the primary sources do not explicitly deal with every conceivable eventuality.
In Islam, there are three categories of crimes, namely Hadd (or plural, Hudud; meaning 'limit' set by God), Tazir and Qesas (Ali, 1985; Al-Thakeb and Scott, 1981). The Hadd are considered to be in violation of God's law and are felonies punished by a pre-established punishment found in Quran. The Tazir entails penalties related to crimes against society. …