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(Arabic: شريعة) is the body of Islamic law. The term means "way" or "path"; it is the legal framework within which the public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Islam.

Sharia deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues.

There is not a strictly codified uniform set of laws that can be called Sharia. It is more like a system of several laws, based on the Qur'an, Hadith and centuries of debate, interpretation and precedent.

Islamic shariah is not implemented in any country of the world, most Muslim countries have their own laws & chosen only few of laws from Islamic shariah.

Sections of Sharia law[change | change source]

Sharia Law[change | change source]

Sharia law is the law of Islam. The Sharia (also spelled Shariah or Shari'a) law is cast from four sources:[1]

  1. The Qur'an, which Muslims believe was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril).
  2. The actions and words of Muhammad, which is called the sunnah
  3. Consensus from the community by achieving recurrence
  4. qiyās or legal reasoning

The Sharia law itself cannot be altered, but the interpretation of the Sharia law, called "fiqh," by imams is given some leeway.

As a legal system, the Sharia law covers a very wide range of topics. While other legal codes deal primarily with public behavior, Sharia law covers public behavior, private behavior and private beliefs.

According to the Sharia law and after due process and investigation:

  • Habitual theft past a specific threshold, and after repeated warnings, is punishable by amputation of a hand.
  • The punishment for adultery and fornication such that it becomes a public ordeal, according to the Holy Qur'an, is lashing. Before the revelation of these verses, Muhammad followed the Judaic law in implementing the punishment of death by stoning. This was only given if the person admitted to it repeatedly, was not intoxicated and knew the repercussions. Even then, if during the punishment he repented, he was to be released.
  • A woman is allowed to be accompanied by another woman in giving testimony in court for financial affairs
  • A female heir inherits half of what a male heir inherits. The concept being that Islam puts the responsibility of earning and spending on the family on the male. Any wealth the female earns is strictly for her own use. The female also inherits from both her immediate family and through agency of her husband, her in-laws as well.

Sharia law is divided into two main sections:

  1. The acts of worship, or al-ibadat, called the 5 pillars of Islam:
    1. Affirmation (Shahadah): there is no god except Allah and Muhammad is his messenger. However, Allah is the same God of Isaac and Adam. Allah remains the same throughout time
    2. Prayers (Salah): five times a day
    3. Fasts (Sawm during Ramadan)
    4. Charities (Zakat)
    5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)
  2. Human interaction, or al-mu'amalat, which includes:
    1. Financial transactions
    2. Endowments
    3. Laws of inheritance
    4. Marriage, divorce, and child custody
    5. Foods and drinks (including ritual slaughtering and hunting)
    6. Penal punishments
    7. Warfare and peace
    8. Judicial matters (including witnesses and forms of evidence)

Schools of sharia law[change | change source]

There are 5 schools of thoughts in Islam, four major schools of Sunni sharia law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali), and one major Shia sharia law (Jafari). The sharia (law) between these schools is same for topics covered in Quran, but in matters that is not covered explicitly in Quran, they sometimes differ from each other.

Laws and practices under Sharia[change | change source]

Marriage[change | change source]

  • A Muslim woman can only marry a Muslim man and a Muslim man can only marry a Muslim or Ahl al-Kitāb . He/She cannot marry an atheist, agnostic or polytheist.[2]
  • A Muslim minor girl's father or guardian needs her consent when arranging a marriage for her.
  • A marriage is a contract that requires the man to pay, or promise to pay some of the wedding and provisions the wife needs. This is known as the Mahr or Meher.
  • A Muslim man may be married to up to four women at a time, although the Qur'an has emphasized that this is a permission, and not a rule. The Qur'an has stated that to marry one is best if you fear you cannot do justice between your wives and respective families. This means that he must be able to house each wife and her children in a different house, he should not give preferential treatment to one wife over another.

Crime and punishment[change | change source]

Sharia recognizes three categories of crime:[3]

  1. Hudud: crimes against God with fixed punishment.
  2. Qisas: crimes against Muslims where equal retaliation is allowed.
  3. Tazir: crimes against Muslims or non-Muslims where a Muslim judge uses his discretion in sentencing.

Hudud crimes are five:[4] theft, highway robbery, zina (illicit sex), sexual slander (accusing someone of zina but failing to produce four witnesses), and drinking alcohol

Sharia requires that there be four adult male Muslim witnesses to a hudud crime or a confession repeated four times, before someone can be punished for a Hudud crime.[4]

Murder, bodily injury and property damage - intentional or unintentional - is considered a civil dispute under sharia law.[5] The victim, victim's heir(s) or guardian is given the option to either forgive the murderer, demand Qisas (equal retaliation) or accept a compensation (Diyya) in lieu of the murder, bodily injury or property damage. Under sharia law, the Diyya compensation received by the victim or victim's family is in cash.[6][7]

The penalty for theft[change | change source]

Theft (stealing) is a hudud crime in sharia, with a fixed punishment. If the accused meets the 19 conditions of his act of thievery, his/her hands or feet will be cut off.

The penalty for zina[change | change source]

Sharia law states that if either an unmarried man or an unmarried woman has pre-marital sex, the punishment should be 100 lashes.[8][9] There are some requirements that need to be met before this punishment can happen. For example, the punishment cannot happen unless the person confesses, or unless four eyewitnesses each saw, at the same time, the man and the woman in the action of illicit sex. Those who accuse someone of illicit sex but fail to produce four eyewitnesses are guilty of false accusation and their punishment is 80 lashes.[10] Maliki school of sharia considers pregnancy in an unmarried woman as sufficient evidence that she committed the hudud crime of zina.[11][12] The Hadiths consider homosexuality as zina.[13]

The penalty for apostasy[change | change source]

The punishment for apostasy is thought to be death by several schools of Muslim thought.

An example apostate was Hashem Aghajari, who was sentenced to death for apostasy in Iran (in 2002) after giving a controversial speech on reforming Islam. His sentence was reduced to 5 years in prison, but only after international and domestic outcry.

Festivals[change | change source]

There are two festivals that are considered Sunnah.[14]

  1. Eid ul-Fitr
  2. Eid ul-Adha

During these festivals, specific rituals are used:

  • Sadaqah (charity) before Eid ul-Fitr prayer.[15]
  • The Prayer and the Sermon on Eid day.
  • Takbirs (glorifying God) after every prayer in the days of Tashriq (see footnote for def.)[16]
  • Sacrifice of unflawed, four-legged grazing animal of appropriate age after the prayer of Eid ul-Adha in the days of Tashriq. The animal must not be wasted; its meat must be consumed.[17]

Dietary laws[change | change source]

Islamic law lists only some specific foods and drinks that are not allowed.[18]

  1. Pork, blood, and scavenged meat are not allowed. People are also not allowed to eat animals that were slaughtered in the name of someone other than Allah.
  2. Intoxicants (like alcoholic drinks and drugs) are not allowed generally.

While Islamic law prohibits dead meat, this does not apply to fish and locusts.[19][20][21] Also, hadith literature prohibits beasts having sharp canine teeth, birds having claws and talons in their feet,[22] tamed donkeys,[23] and any piece cut from a living animal.[18][24]

Sacrifice[change | change source]

There are some specific rules regarding the killing of animals in Islam.

  1. The animal must be killed in the most humane way: by swiftly cutting the throat.
  2. The animal must not be diseased.
  3. The animal must not have been exposed to feces, worms, and other impurities.
  4. All blood must drain from the animal before being packaged.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Hallaq, Wael B. (2009). An Introduction to Islamic Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-86146-5.
  2. AB Leeman (2009), Interfaith Marriage in Islam, Indiana Law Journal, 84, pp. 743–746
  3. R Peters (2006), Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521796705, pp. 116-119
  4. 4.0 4.1 M. Cherif Bassiouni (1997), Crimes and the Criminal Process, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1997), pp. 269-286
  5. Tahir Wasti (2009), The Application of Islamic Criminal Law in Pakistan: Sharia in Practice, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004172258, pp. 283-288
  6. Aaron Spevack (2014), The Archetypal Sunni Scholar: Law, Theology, and Mysticism, ISBN 978-1438453712, p. 81
  7. M Kar (2005), Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures: Family, Law and Politics (Ed: Suad Joseph, Afsāna Naǧmābādī), ISBN 978-9004128187, pp. 406-407
  8. Quran 24:2
  10. Quran 24:$
  11. Z. Mir-Hosseini (2011), Criminalizing sexuality: zina laws as violence against women in Muslim contexts, SUR-Int'l Journal on Human Rights, 8(15), pp. 7-33
  12. Kecia Ali (2006), Sexual Ethics and Islam, ISBN 978-1851684564, Chapter 4
  14. Sunan Abu Da'ud 1134
  15. Sahih Bukhari 1503
  16. Normally these are thought to be the days in which pilgrims stay at Mina once they return from Muzdalifah i.e. 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah
  17. Ghamidi, The Ritual of Animal Sacrifice
  18. 18.0 18.1 Ghamidi(2001), The dietary laws
  19. Sunan ibn Maja 2314
  20. Nisai 59
  21. Al-Zamakhshari. Al-Kashaf, vol. 1, (Beirut: Daru’l-Kitab al-‘Arabi), p. 215
  22. Sahih Muslim 1934
  23. Sahih Bukhari 4199
  24. Sunan Abu Da'ud 2858

References[change | change source]

  • Laleh Bakhtiar and Kevin Reinhart (1996). Encyclopedia of Islamic Law: A Compendium of the Major Schools. Kazi Publications. ISBN 1-56744-498-9
  • Muhammad ibn Idris al- Shafi'i (1993). Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence. ISBN 0-946621-15-2
  • Khaled Abou El Fadl 2003). Reasoning with God: Rationality and Thought in Islam. Oneworld. ISBN 1-85168-306-2
  • Cemal Kafadar (1996). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20600-2
  • Omid Safi (2003). Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1-85168-316-X
  • Mumisa, Michael (2002) Islamic Law: Theory & Interpretation. Amana Publications. ISBN 1-59008-010-6
  • Daniel W. Brown (1996). Rethinking traditions in modern Islamic thought. Cambridge University Press, UK. ISBN 0-521-65394-0
  • Bernard Weiss (2002), Studies in Islamic Legal Theory, Brill Academic publishers, ISBN 90-04-12066-1

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

English Wiktionary
The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for: sharia