Jun 06

What is Shariah?

Shariah – or sometime referred to Islamic law is not limited to societal laws and a penal system. It includes divine directives regarding every aspect of a Muslim’s life. Shariah might better be described as a body of divine laws, rules, code of conduct and teachings which are intended to benefit the individual and society. Shariah is the command of Allah which encompasses all aspects of human life.

Shariah literally means path or way to a watering place in the desert. An analogy can be made where the water is a necessary element of life; so is shariah, essential to the well-being of a Muslim. In the religious sense, it means the way which directs man’s life to the right path. From the word “the right path” therefore, come the meaning “law”. The word “shariah” also has its correlation with the word “deen” which literally means “submission” or “following”. Shariah is the ordination of the way and its proper subject is Allah whereas deen is the following of that way and its subject is man.  As such, Islam is also known as Shariah al-Kubra that encompasses the way of life as ordained by the almighty Allah.

The concept of Shariah is not only to govern man in the conduct of his life in order to realize the Devine Will, but covers all behaviors, spiritual, mental as well as physical. Referring to Shariah simply as “Islamic law” is therefore incomplete. Thus, life that includes faith (iman) and practices (amal), personal behavior, Legal, and social transactions. In other words, Shariah is a comprehensive principle of total way of life.

From the above chart, we can understand that the laws relating to human life are divided into three i.e. those relating to belief, those relating to deeds, and those relating to ethics. The laws governing human deeds are called “Fiqh”, which is defined as understanding the laws relating to human deeds derived from their respective particular evidences. The respective particular evidences are the specific verses of the Quran and Hadiths concerning each of human deeds.

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