Sharia and Sharia Law:
Meaning of the word “Sharia” is “a way”. In Islamic terminology, Shariah means, a “Legal System”, or “The Law of Islam”. Sharia law refers to the matters of religion that Allah has legislated for humans.
Allah has sent messengers to people, who guide them the “Right Path”. A path that lead them to happiness in this world and hereafter. All messengers taught the same message that “Worship Only One God”. However, the specific prescriptions of these divine laws, varied according to the needs of “People” and “Time”.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was His last messenger, and his Sharia represents the ultimate manifestation of the divine mercy.
In Chapter-5, Verse-3 of the Holy Quran, Allah says:
“Today, I have perfected your way of life for you, and completed My favour upon you, and have chosen Islam as your way of life.”
Domain of Islamic Shariah
The word “Muslim” means “One who submits to Allah”. Islam expects a Muslim to follow its laws, in every aspect of life. Islamic Sharia is not limited, and no aspect of human life is outside its domain. Whether it is: Personal and familial, Religious and social, moral and political, or even it is related to business and economics.
Shariah law according to the Chapter-33, Verse-36 of the Holy Quran:
“It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision. If anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path”.
SOURCES OF SHARIA LAW:
The Islamic Sharia comprises of Laws, and these laws are abstracted from the following four resources:
- Quran, a book of Allah;
- Sunnah, the practices of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him);
- Ijma, the approval and agreed opinion of the Muslim jurists; and;
- Qiyas, the analogy from the Quran, Sunnah, and Ijma.
We will take a look at each of them:
Quran: First Source of Sharia Law
Quran is the sacred book of Muslims, and is the primary source of the Muslim laws. Allah dictated Quran through Angle Jibrael, the Angel, to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Quran is a complete code of conduct itself. It tells us what Allah wants us to do, from birth to death.
Quran is the Primary Source of Sharia because it has direct words of Allah. However, when it does not speak directly on a certain subject, Muslims only then turn to alternative sources.
Sunnah: Second Source of Shariah Law
The word Sunnah means “a system”, “a path”, or “an example”. In Islam, it refers to the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and his life examples.
Sunnah are the things that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, did, or agreed to. Sunnah clarifies details of what is stated generally in the Quran. All his life, the Prophet acted on what Allah told him to do. So, it is part of every Muslims’ faith that Sunnah is a complete obedience of Allah, and so it must be followed.
Who Were Sahaba’s?
They were Prophet’s family members and companions, who observed him during his lifetime, and shared with others exactly what they had seen in his words, and behaviours.
What are Ahadith?
These are the, “Sayings, actions, and the actions done with the approval of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)”. They include issues concerning personal conduct, community, family relations, and political matters.
Ahadith were collected and compiled very carefully, since the death of the Prophet. They were reported by Sahaba.
Ijma: Third Source of Sharia
It may be defined as:
“Consensus of opinion of the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) or Muslim jurists of the first three centuries of the Hijra”.
Ijma is simply an agreed upon decision. It used in an Islamic society to overcome a problem, which could not be found in Quran, or in Sunnah.
Ijma may be understood from the following Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), who said:
“If anything comes to you for decision, according to the book of Allah, if anything comes to you, which is not in the book of Allah, then look to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). If anything comes to you, which is not in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), then look to what people unanimously agrees upon.”
Qiyas: Fourth and Last Source of Shariah Law
Qiyas means, “Judging by comparing with a something”. It may be defined as “The analogy from the Quran, the Sunnah, and Ijma”.
Qiyas can be carried out only in a Sharia governed state, when a solution to a problem cannot be found in Quran, Sunnah, and Ijma.
When something needs a legal ruling, but has not been clearly addressed in the other sources, Islamic jurists may use analogy, reasoning, and legal precedent to decide new case law.
Qiyas may be understood from the following Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), who said:
“Judge upon the book of Allah, upon the Sunnah of the Prophet, and if you do not find it in that, then use your personal opinion.”
WHY SHARIA LAW IS IMPORTANT?
Muslims believe that the purpose of their creation is nothing but servitude, which is being a servant to the creator of mankind. They also believe that without the guidance of Allah no one will meet this purpose. Therefore fulfillment of the servitude mission is following the guidance of Allah, which is Sharia law.