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Shari'ah is an Arabic word which means “path” or “way” or body of divine laws, rules, code of conduct and teachings which are intended to benefit the individual and society. Today the term Shari’ah is used most commonly to mean “Islamic law. Today when any Muslim says that he/ she have submitted their will to the Will of “Allah سبحانه و تعالى" then they are actually following the Deen of Islam. Will here means the Islamic shari’ah or the Islamic Laws which Allah سبحانه و تعالى has revealed on the last and final messenger Muhammad .  The Shari`ah, therefore, is a path – set by “Allah” سبحانه و تعالى for all human beings – to follow, in order to attain success both in the worldly life and in the hereafter.


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Linguistic meaning

The word Shari`ah literally means “a waterway that leads to a main stream, a drinking place, and a road or the right path.” An analogy can be made where just as water is a necessary element of life, so is Shariah essential to the well-being of a Muslim. The word Shari`ah was used to refer to a path or a passage that leads to an intended place, or to a certain goal.  The words Islam and deen (religion) were more commonly employed to express the same meaning. [1]


Kuwaiti encyclopedia of Fiqh, Al-Shariah is defined as: it is the spring of water, it is called so because it is clear and apparent, and the word 'Shar’' is a verbal noun of Shara’a, meaning to be apparent and clear.  The plural is Sharai'a.  This word is most commonly used in religion and in all its rulings. [2]


Islamic meaning

Islamic Shari'ah is the religious law or teachings that Allah سبحانه و تعالى has prescribed for slaves. What has been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad as Islamic rulings in the Book (Qur’an) and in the Sunnah(Ahadith). So, Shari'a includes believing in the Oneness of “Allah سبحانه و تعالى, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil as well as performing the obligatory religious acts.


Sources of Shari’ah

The main sources of Shari`ah is the Qur’an, the literal words of “Allah سبحانه و تعالى. After the Qur’an, is the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad . The Sunnah includes what the Prophet said, did, and approved of. The Sunnah is mostly recorded in books of Ahadith. [3]


Allah سبحانه و تعالى Says: {Then We have put you (O Muhammad ) on a plain way of (Our) commandment [like the one which We commanded Our Messengers before you (i.e. legal ways and laws of the Islâmic Monotheism)]. So follow you that (Islâmic Monotheism and its laws),} Qur’an.Surah Al-Jathiya 45:18.


Allah سبحانه و تعالى also Says: {…To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way….}Qur’an.Surah Al-Meada 5:48.


Allah سبحانه و تعالى also Says: {He (“Allah” سبحانه و تعالى) has ordained for you the same religion (Islamic Monotheism) which He ordained for Nuh (Noah) عليه السلام, and that which We have revealed to you (O Muhammad , and that which We ordained for Ibrahim (Abraham) عليه السلام, Musa (Moses) عليه السلامand 'Isa (Jesus) عليه السلامsaying you should establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically), and make no divisions in it (religion) (i.e. various sects in religion). …} Qur’an.Surah Ash-Shura 42: 13. [4]


Shari'ah of the different Prophets

'Among the things that are included in all the Shari'ahs of the Prophets عليه السلامare believing in the Oneness of Allah سبحانه و تعالى, performing the prayers, giving the Zakah, fasting and performing Hajj as well as endeavoring to get nearer to Allah سبحانه و تعالىby performing good deeds such as being honest, fulfilling oaths, being loyal and trust worthy, having good ties with one's kindred. Shari'ah also includes forbidding disbelief, murder, Zina (fornication or adultery) and all harmful acts on people or animals. It also teaches people to stay away from all low and ignoble acts and from all that could demean their honour. All the above teachings are common among all the Shari'ahs of the different Prophets عليه السلام.


Allah سبحانه و تعالى does not accept any religion or Shari'ah after sending Prophet Muhammad except Islam: “Allah” سبحانه و تعالىSays (interpretation of meaning): {Truly, the religion with “Allah” سبحانه و تعالىis Islam. …} Qur’an.Surah A’le 3: 19. “Allah” سبحانه و تعالىalso Says (interpretation of meaning): {And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.}Qur’an.Surah A’le 3: 85.


Objectives of shari’ah

·         believing in oneness of Allah سبحانه و تعالى;

·         Establishment of justice;

·         Educating the individual;

·         Upholding morals, in public and private;

·         Preventing hardship, on individuals and society;

·         Preventing oppression;


Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh)

The scholarly study, interpretation and application of Shariah is known as Islamic jurisprudence, or fiqh. In Arabicfiqh means “deep understanding” or “full knowledge.” It refers to the collection and compilation of Islamic laws based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet . While the divine laws of Shariah are certain, scholarly differences in Islamic jurisprudence do exist. [5]


Categorization of human activity

Islamic law divides human activities into following five categories:

1.      Fard or Wajib (duty or obligatory) -performance of these actions is rewarded and their omission is punished.

2.      Mustahab (recommended) -actions the performance of which is rewarded but omission of which is not punished.

3.      Mubah (permitted) -actions permitted by silence.

4.      Makruh (disliked) -actions disapproved of but not punishable.

5.      Haram (forbidden) -actions punishable by Islamic law.



Therefore Shari`ah, refers to a set of rules, regulations, teachings, and values governing the lives of Muslims. The best life a person can live is as prescribed by our creator (Allah سبحانه و تعالى) and as taught by Prophet Muhammad and as understood by his male and female companions [6]










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