What is Sharia Law?

What is Sharia Law?

Sharia law is a religious law that lays down governing principles for spiritual, mental, and physical behavior that must be followed by Muslims. Regarded as God’s command for Muslims, Sharia law is essentially Islam’s legal system.

The four primary sources of Sharia Law are:

The Quran – The Holy Book conveys Allah’s messages relayed by the Prophet, which are universal and eternal in nature.

The Hadith – The Hadith or narrative of the Sunnah of the Prophet constitutes the rules of faith of the Muslim community.

Ijma – Ijma contains the opinions of Islam’s learned scholars on matters of law.

Qiyas – Qiyas is the process of comparing difficult questions of doctrine with similar cases settled by the authority of the Holy Book and Sunnah.

Intricacies of Sharia Law

Sharia law encompasses legal as well as moral and ethical directives. It characterizes all man’s acts into the following five categories:

  1. Obligatory
  2. Recommended
  3. Permitted
  4. Discouraged
  5. Forbidden

Sharia comprises three basic elements:

Aqidah concerns all forms of faith and belief in Allah, held by a Muslim.

Fiqh governs the relationship between man and his Creator (ibadat) and between man and man (muamalat). Political, economic, and social activities fall within the ambit of muamalat. Islamic finance, covered in economic activities, is thus linked with Sharia principles through muamalat.

Akhlaq covers all aspects of a Muslim’s behavior, attitude, and work ethic.

While directives relating to aqidah, ibadah, and akhlaq are fixed and unchangeable, directives of muamalat (including rulings such as contractual law transactions, criminal law, the judiciary, and Islamic finance) which govern the relationship between man and man, may change with the changes in circumstance, custom, time and place.