Introduction to Sharia Law

Sharia Law  (شريعة)

Excerpts from An Introduction to The Islamic Shari’ah by Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

The word "shari'ah" literally means "a way." In Islamic terminology, it means the legal system of Islam. In this book, however, we will translate the word shari'ah as the laws of Islam or the Islamic laws.

The shari'ah is a complete way of life; no aspect of human life is outside its domain. Islam expects a Muslim to follow its laws in every aspect of life: personal and familial, religious and social, moral and political, eco­nomic and business, etc. After all, "Muslim" means one who submits to God.

When Allah' and His Messenger have decreed a matter, it is not for any believing man or believing woman to have a choice in their affair. And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has gone astray into clear error. (Surah Al-Ahzaab, 33:36)

God-made laws are superior because of the following facts:

  • God is above class status
  • God is above racial prejudice
  • God is above the gender rivalry
  • God, as the Creator, fully knows the humans as well as the world in which they live.

The Muslims during the days of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) lived by the shari’ah by following the Qur’an and the sunnah. Sunnah means the example of the Prophet.

And We have revealed to you (0 Muhammad) the Reminder (that is, the Qur'an) so you may clarify to the people what has been revealed to them, and so that they may reflect (Sura an-Nahl, 16:44).

Islam has very beautifully provided the legal safeguard for human life on the social level and also encouraged mercy from a moral point of view on the individual level. If human beings are left on their own in this issue, they will always swing between the two extremes of justice and mercy -- only Islam, the final version of God-made legal system can accommodate both these principles.

For further readings:
Sharia, by the BBC