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For Islamic jurisprudence, see Fiqh. Sharia_sentence_0

"Islamic law" redirects here. Sharia_sentence_1

For other uses, see Islamic law (disambiguation). Sharia_sentence_2

Not to be confused with Saria, Shara, Shariyah, or Shahriyar. Sharia_sentence_3

Sharia (/ʃəˈriːə/, Arabic: شريعة‎ [ʃaˈriːʕah), Islamic law, or redundantly Sharia law, is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. Sharia_sentence_4

It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the hadith. Sharia_sentence_5

In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God's immutable divine law and is contrasted with fiqh, which refers to its human scholarly interpretations. Sharia_sentence_6

The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between Muslim fundamentalists and modernists. Sharia_sentence_7

Traditional theory of Islamic jurisprudence recognizes four sources of Sharia: the Quran, sunnah (authentic hadith), qiyas (analogical reasoning), and ijma (juridical consensus). Sharia_sentence_8

Different legal schools—of which the most prominent are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafiʽi school, Hanbali and Jafari—developed methodologies for deriving Sharia rulings from scriptural sources using a process known as ijtihad. Sharia_sentence_9

Traditional jurisprudence (fiqh) distinguishes two principal branches of law, ʿibādāt (rituals) and muʿāmalāt (social relations), which together comprise a wide range of topics. Sharia_sentence_10

Its rulings are concerned with ethical standards as much as with legal norms, assigning actions to one of five categories: mandatory, recommended, neutral, abhorred, and prohibited. Sharia_sentence_11

Thus, some areas of Sharia overlap with the Western notion of law while others correspond more broadly to living life in accordance with God's will. Sharia_sentence_12

Classical jurisprudence was elaborated by private religious scholars, largely through legal opinions (fatwas) issued by qualified jurists (muftis). Sharia_sentence_13

It was historically applied in Sharia courts by ruler-appointed judges, who dealt mainly with civil disputes and community affairs. Sharia_sentence_14

Sultanic courts, the police and market inspectors administered criminal justice, which was influenced by Sharia but not bound by its rules. Sharia_sentence_15

Non-Muslim (dhimmi) communities had legal autonomy to adjudicate their internal affairs. Sharia_sentence_16

Over the centuries, Sunni Islam muftis were gradually incorporated into state bureaucracies, and fiqh was complemented by various economic, criminal and administrative laws issued by Muslim rulers. Sharia_sentence_17

The Ottoman civil code of 1869–1876 was the first partial attempt to codify Sharia. Sharia_sentence_18

In the modern era, traditional laws in the Muslim world have been widely replaced by statutes inspired by European models. Sharia_sentence_19

Judicial procedures and legal education were likewise brought in line with European practice. Sharia_sentence_20

While the constitutions of most Muslim-majority states contain references to Sharia, its classical rules were largely retained only in personal status (family) laws. Sharia_sentence_21

Legislators who codified these laws sought to modernize them without abandoning their foundations in traditional jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_22

The Islamic revival of the late 20th century brought along calls by Islamism movements for full implementation of Sharia, including hudud corporal punishments, such as stoning. Sharia_sentence_23

In some cases, this resulted in traditionalist legal reform, while other countries witnessed juridical reinterpretation of Sharia advocated by progressive reformers. Sharia_sentence_24

Some Muslim-minority countries recognize the use of Sharia-based family laws for their Muslim populations. Sharia_sentence_25

Sharia also continues to influence other aspects of private and public life. Sharia_sentence_26

The role of Sharia has become a contested topic around the world. Sharia_sentence_27

Introduction of Sharia-based laws sparked intercommunal violence in Nigeria and may have contributed to the breakup of Sudan. Sharia_sentence_28

Some jurisdictions in North America have passed bans on use of Sharia, framed as restrictions on religious or foreign laws. Sharia_sentence_29

There are ongoing debates as to whether Sharia is compatible with democracy, human rights, freedom of thought, women's rights, LGBT rights, and banking. Sharia_sentence_30

Etymology and usage Sharia_section_0

Contemporary usage Sharia_section_1

The word sharīʿah is used by Arabic-speaking peoples of the Middle East to designate a prophetic religion in its totality. Sharia_sentence_31

For example, sharīʿat Mūsā means law or religion of Moses and sharīʿatu-nā can mean "our religion" in reference to any monotheistic faith. Sharia_sentence_32

Within Islamic discourse, šarīʿah refers to religious regulations governing the lives of Muslims. Sharia_sentence_33

For many Muslims, the word means simply "justice," and they will consider any law that promotes justice and social welfare to conform to Sharia. Sharia_sentence_34

Jan Michiel Otto distinguishes four senses conveyed by the term sharia in religious, legal and political discourse: Sharia_sentence_35


  • Divine, abstract sharia: God's plan for mankind and the norms of behavior which should guide the Islamic community. Muslims of different perspectives agree in their respect for the abstract notion of sharia, but they differ in how they understand the practical implications of the term.Sharia_item_0_0
  • Classical sharia: the body of rules and principles elaborated by Islamic jurists during the first centuries of Islam.Sharia_item_0_1
  • Historical sharia(s): the body of rules and interpretations developed throughout Islamic history, ranging from personal beliefs to state legislation and varying across an ideological spectrum. Classical sharia has often served as a point of reference for these variants, but they have also reflected the influences of their time and place.Sharia_item_0_2
  • Contemporary sharia(s): the full spectrum of rules and interpretations that are developed and practiced at present.Sharia_item_0_3

A related term al-qānūn al-islāmī (القانون الإسلامي, Islamic law), which was borrowed from European usage in the late 19th century, is used in the Muslim world to refer to a legal system in the context of a modern state. Sharia_sentence_36

Etymology Sharia_section_2

The primary range of meanings of the Arabic word šarīʿah, derived from the root š-r-ʕ, is related to religion and religious law. Sharia_sentence_37

The lexicographical tradition records two major areas of use where the word šarīʿah can appear without religious connotation. Sharia_sentence_38

In texts evoking a pastoral or nomadic environment, the word, and its derivatives refer to watering animals at a permanent water-hole or to the seashore, with special reference to animals who come there. Sharia_sentence_39

Another area of use relates to notions of stretched or lengthy. Sharia_sentence_40

This range of meanings is cognate with the Hebrew saraʿ and is likely to be the origin of the meaning "way" or "path". Sharia_sentence_41

Both these areas have been claimed to have given rise to aspects of the religious meaning. Sharia_sentence_42

Some scholars describe the word šarīʿah as an archaic Arabic word denoting "pathway to be followed" (analogous to the Hebrew term Halakhah ["The Way to Go"]), or "path to the water hole" and argue that its adoption as a metaphor for a divinely ordained way of life arises from the importance of water in an arid desert environment. Sharia_sentence_43

Use in religious texts Sharia_section_3

In the Quran, šarīʿah and its cognate širʿah occur once each, with the meaning "way" or "path". Sharia_sentence_44

The word šarīʿah was widely used by Arabic-speaking Jews during the Middle Ages, being the most common translation for the word torah in the 10th-century Arabic translation of the Torah by Saʿadya Gaon. Sharia_sentence_45

A similar use of the term can be found in Christian writers. Sharia_sentence_46

The Arabic expression Sharīʿat Allāh (شريعة الله "God’s Law") is a common translation for תורת אלוהים (‘God’s Law’ in Hebrew) and νόμος τοῦ θεοῦ (‘God’s Law’ in Greek in the New Testament [Rom. Sharia_sentence_47

7: 22]). Sharia_sentence_48

In Muslim literature, šarīʿah designates the laws or message of a prophet or God, in contrast to fiqh, which refers to a scholar's interpretation thereof. Sharia_sentence_49

In older English-language law-related works in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, the word used for Sharia was sheri. Sharia_sentence_50

It, along with the French variant chéri, was used during the time of the Ottoman Empire, and is from the Turkish şer’(i). Sharia_sentence_51

Historical origins Sharia_section_4

Further information: Fiqh, Madhhab, and Ahl al-Hadith Sharia_sentence_52

According to the traditional Muslim view, the major precepts of Sharia were passed down directly from the Islamic prophet Muhammad without "historical development," and the emergence of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) also goes back to the lifetime of Muhammad. Sharia_sentence_53

In this view, his companions and followers took what he did and approved of as a model (sunnah) and transmitted this information to the succeeding generations in the form of hadith. Sharia_sentence_54

These reports led first to informal discussion and then systematic legal thought, articulated with greatest success in the eighth and ninth centuries by the master jurists Abu Hanifah, Malik ibn Anas, Al-Shafi‘i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who are viewed as the founders of the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafiʿi, and Hanbali legal schools (madhhabs) of Sunni jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_55

Modern historians have presented alternative theories of the formation of fiqh. Sharia_sentence_56

At first Western scholars accepted the general outlines of the traditional account. Sharia_sentence_57

In the late 19th century, an influential revisionist hypothesis was advanced by Ignac Goldziher and elaborated by Joseph Schacht in the mid-20th century. Sharia_sentence_58

Schacht and other scholars argued that having conquered much more populous agricultural and urban societies with already existing laws and legal needs unknown to the desert-dwelling conquerors, the initial Muslim efforts to formulate legal norms regarded the Quran and Muhammad's hadiths as just one sources of law, with jurist personal opinions, the legal practice of conquered peoples, and the decrees and decisions of the caliphs also being valid sources. Sharia_sentence_59

According to this theory, most canonical hadiths did not originate with Muhammad but were actually created at a later date, despite the efforts of hadith scholars to weed out fabrications. Sharia_sentence_60

After it became accepted that legal norms must be formally grounded in scriptural sources, proponents of rules of jurisprudence supported by the hadith would extend the chains of transmission of the hadith back to Muhammad's companions. Sharia_sentence_61

In his view, the real architect of Islamic jurisprudence was Al-Shafi‘i (d. 820 CE/204 AH), who formulated this idea (that legal norms must be formally grounded in scriptural sources) and other elements of classical legal theory in his work al-risala, but who was preceded by a body of Islamic law not based on primacy of Muhammad's hadiths. Sharia_sentence_62

While the origin of hadith remains a subject of scholarly controversy, this theory (of Goldziher and Schacht) has given rise to objections, and modern historians generally adopt more cautious, intermediate positions, and it is generally accepted that early Islamic jurisprudence developed out of a combination of administrative and popular practices shaped by the religious and ethical precepts of Islam. Sharia_sentence_63

It continued some aspects of pre-Islamic laws and customs of the lands that fell under Muslim rule in the aftermath of the early conquests and modified other aspects, aiming to meet the practical need of establishing Islamic norms of behavior and adjudicating disputes arising in the early Muslim communities. Sharia_sentence_64

Juristic thought gradually developed in study circles, where independent scholars met to learn from a local master and discuss religious topics. Sharia_sentence_65

At first, these circles were fluid in their membership, but with time distinct regional legal schools crystallized around shared sets of methodological principles. Sharia_sentence_66

As the boundaries of the schools became clearly delineated, the authority of their doctrinal tenets came to be vested in a master jurist from earlier times, who was henceforth identified as the school's founder. Sharia_sentence_67

In the course of the first three centuries of Islam, all legal schools came to accept the broad outlines of classical legal theory, according to which Islamic law had to be firmly rooted in the Quran and hadith. Sharia_sentence_68

Traditional jurisprudence (fiqh) Sharia_section_5

Main article: Fiqh Sharia_sentence_69

Fiqh is traditionally divided into the fields of uṣūl al-fiqh (lit. Sharia_sentence_70

the roots of fiqh), which studies the theoretical principles of jurisprudence, and furūʿ al-fiqh (lit. Sharia_sentence_71

the branches of fiqh), which is devoted to elaboration of rulings on the basis of these principles. Sharia_sentence_72

Principles of jurisprudence (uṣūl al-fiqh) Sharia_section_6

Main article: Principles of Islamic jurisprudence Sharia_sentence_73

Classical jurists held that human reason is a gift from God which should be exercised to its fullest capacity. Sharia_sentence_74

However, they believed that use of reason alone is insufficient to distinguish right from wrong, and that rational argumentation must draw its content from the body of transcendental knowledge revealed in the Quran and through the sunnah of Muhammad. Sharia_sentence_75

Traditional theory of Islamic jurisprudence elaborates how scriptures should be interpreted from the standpoint of linguistics and rhetoric. Sharia_sentence_76

It also comprises methods for establishing authenticity of hadith and for determining when the legal force of a scriptural passage is abrogated by a passage revealed at a later date. Sharia_sentence_77

In addition to the Quran and sunnah, the classical theory of Sunni fiqh recognizes two other sources of law: juristic consensus (ijmaʿ) and analogical reasoning (qiyas). Sharia_sentence_78

It therefore studies the application and limits of analogy, as well as the value and limits of consensus, along with other methodological principles, some of which are accepted by only certain legal schools. Sharia_sentence_79

This interpretive apparatus is brought together under the rubric of ijtihad, which refers to a jurist's exertion in an attempt to arrive at a ruling on a particular question. Sharia_sentence_80

The theory of Twelver Shia jurisprudence parallels that of Sunni schools with some differences, such as recognition of reason (ʿaql) as a source of law in place of qiyas and extension of the notion of sunnah to include traditions of the imams. Sharia_sentence_81

Sources of Sharia Sharia_section_7

Main article: Sources of Sharia Sharia_sentence_82


  • Quran: In Islam, the Quran is considered to be the most sacred source of law. Classical jurists held its textual integrity to be beyond doubt on account of it having been handed down by many people in each generation, which is known as "recurrence" or "concurrent transmission" (tawātur). Only several hundred verses of the Quran have direct legal relevance, and they are concentrated in a few specific areas such as inheritance, though other passages have been used as a source for general principles whose legal ramifications were elaborated by other means.Sharia_item_1_4
  • Hadith: The body of hadith provides more detailed and practical legal guidance, but it was recognized early on that not all of them were authentic. Early Islamic scholars developed a methodology for evaluating their authenticity by assessing trustworthiness of the individuals listed in their transmission chains. These criteria narrowed down the vast corpus of prophetic traditions to several thousand "sound" hadiths, which were collected in several canonical compilations. The hadiths which enjoyed concurrent transmission were deemed unquestionably authentic; however, the vast majority of hadiths were handed down by only one or a few transmitters and were therefore seen to yield only probable knowledge. The uncertainty was further compounded by ambiguity of the language contained in some hadiths and Quranic passages. Disagreements on the relative merits and interpretation of the textual sources allowed legal scholars considerable leeway in formulating alternative rulings.Sharia_item_1_5
  • Consensus (ijma) could in principle elevate a ruling based on probable evidence to absolute certainty. This classical doctrine drew its authority from a series of hadiths stating that the Islamic community could never agree on an error. This form of consensus was technically defined as agreement of all competent jurists in any particular generation, acting as representatives of the community. However, the practical difficulty of obtaining and ascertaining such an agreement meant that it had little impact on legal development. A more pragmatic form of consensus, which could be determined by consulting works of prominent jurists, was used to confirm a ruling so that it could not be reopened for further discussion. The cases for which there was a consensus account for less than 1 percent of the body of classical jurisprudence.Sharia_item_1_6
  • Analogical reasoning (qiyas): Qiyas is used to derive a ruling for a situation not addressed in the scripture by analogy with a scripturally based rule. In a classic example, the Quranic prohibition of drinking wine is extended to all intoxicating substances, on the basis of the "cause" (ʿilla) shared by these situations, which in this case is identified to be intoxication. Since the cause of a rule may not be apparent, its selection commonly occasioned controversy and extensive debate. Twelver Shia jurisprudence does not recognize the use of qiyas, but relies on reason (ʿaql) in its place.Sharia_item_1_7

Ijtihad Sharia_section_8

Main article: Ijtihad Sharia_sentence_83

The classical process of ijtihad combined these generally recognized principles with other methods, which were not adopted by all legal schools, such as istihsan (juristic preference), istislah (consideration of public interest) and istishab (presumption of continuity). Sharia_sentence_84

A jurist who is qualified to practice ijtihad is known as a mujtahid. Sharia_sentence_85

The use of independent reasoning to arrive at a ruling is contrasted with taqlid (imitation), which refers to following the rulings of a mujtahid. Sharia_sentence_86

By the beginning of the 10th century, development of Sunni jurisprudence prompted leading jurists to state that the main legal questions had been addressed and the scope of ijtihad was gradually restricted. Sharia_sentence_87

From the 18th century on, leading Muslim reformers began calling for abandonment of taqlid and renewed emphasis on ijtihad, which they saw as a return to the vitality of early Islamic jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_88

Decision types (aḥkām) Sharia_section_9

Main article: Ahkam Sharia_sentence_89

Fiqh is concerned with ethical standards as much as with legal norms, seeking to establish not only what is and is not legal, but also what is morally right and wrong. Sharia_sentence_90

Sharia rulings fall into one of five categories known as “the five decisions” (al-aḥkām al-khamsa): mandatory (farḍ or wājib), recommended (mandūb or mustaḥabb), neutral (mubāḥ), reprehensible (makrūh), and forbidden (ḥarām). Sharia_sentence_91

It is a sin or a crime to perform a forbidden action or not to perform a mandatory action. Sharia_sentence_92

Reprehensible acts should be avoided, but they are not considered to be sinful or punishable in court. Sharia_sentence_93

Avoiding reprehensible acts and performing recommended acts is held to be subject of reward in the afterlife, while neutral actions entail no judgement from God. Sharia_sentence_94

Jurists disagree on whether the term ḥalāl covers the first three or the first four categories. Sharia_sentence_95

The legal and moral verdict depends on whether the action is committed out of necessity (ḍarūra) and on the underlying intention (niyya), as expressed in the legal maxim "acts are [evaluated according] to intention." Sharia_sentence_96

Aims of Sharia and public interest Sharia_section_10

Main articles: Maqasid and Maslaha Sharia_sentence_97

Maqāṣid (aims or purposes) of Sharia and maṣlaḥa (welfare or public interest) are two related classical doctrines which have come to play an increasingly prominent role in modern times. Sharia_sentence_98

They were first clearly articulated by al-Ghazali (d. 1111), who argued that maslaha was God's general purpose in revealing the divine law, and that its specific aim was preservation of five essentials of human well-being: religion, life, intellect, offspring, and property. Sharia_sentence_99

Although most classical-era jurists recognized maslaha and maqasid as important legal principles, they held different views regarding the role they should play in Islamic law. Sharia_sentence_100

Some jurists viewed them as auxiliary rationales constrained by scriptural sources and analogical reasoning. Sharia_sentence_101

Others regarded them as an independent source of law, whose general principles could override specific inferences based on the letter of scripture. Sharia_sentence_102

While the latter view was held by a minority of classical jurists, in modern times it came to be championed in different forms by prominent scholars who sought to adapt Islamic law to changing social conditions by drawing on the intellectual heritage of traditional jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_103

These scholars expanded the inventory of maqasid to include such aims of Sharia as reform and women's rights (Rashid Rida); justice and freedom (Mohammed al-Ghazali); and human dignity and rights (Yusuf al-Qaradawi). Sharia_sentence_104

Branches of law Sharia_section_11

Further information: Topics in Sharia law Sharia_sentence_105

The domain of furūʿ al-fiqh (lit. Sharia_sentence_106

branches of fiqh) is traditionally divided into ʿibādāt (rituals or acts of worship) and muʿāmalāt (social relations). Sharia_sentence_107

Many jurists further divided the body of substantive jurisprudence into "the four quarters", called rituals, sales, marriage and injuries. Sharia_sentence_108

Each of these terms figuratively stood for a variety of subjects. Sharia_sentence_109

For example, the quarter of sales would encompass partnerships, guaranty, gifts, and bequests, among other topics. Sharia_sentence_110

Juristic works were arranged as a sequence of such smaller topics, each called a "book" (kitab). Sharia_sentence_111

The special significance of ritual was marked by always placing its discussion at the start of the work. Sharia_sentence_112

Some historians distinguish a field of Islamic criminal law, which combines several traditional categories. Sharia_sentence_113

Several crimes with scripturally prescribed punishments are known as hudud. Sharia_sentence_114

Jurists developed various restrictions which in many cases made them virtually impossible to apply. Sharia_sentence_115

Other crimes involving intentional bodily harm are judged according to a version of lex talionis that prescribes a punishment analogous to the crime (qisas), but the victims or their heirs may accept a monetary compensation (diya) or pardon the perpetrator instead; only diya is imposed for non-intentional harm. Sharia_sentence_116

Other criminal cases belong to the category of taʿzīr, where the goal of punishment is correction or rehabilitation of the culprit and its form is largely left to the judge's discretion. Sharia_sentence_117

In practice, since early on in Islamic history, criminal cases were usually handled by ruler-administered courts or local police using procedures which were only loosely related to Sharia. Sharia_sentence_118

The two major genres of furūʿ literature are the mukhtasar (concise summary of law) and the mabsut (extensive commentary). Sharia_sentence_119

Mukhtasars were short specialized treatises or general overviews that could be used in a classroom or consulted by judges. Sharia_sentence_120

A mabsut, which usually provided a commentary on a mukhtasar and could stretch to dozens of large volumes, recorded alternative rulings with their justifications, often accompanied by a proliferation of cases and conceptual distinctions. Sharia_sentence_121

The terminology of juristic literature was conservative and tended to preserve notions which had lost their practical relevance. Sharia_sentence_122

At the same time, the cycle of abridgement and commentary allowed jurists of each generation to articulate a modified body of law to meet changing social conditions. Sharia_sentence_123

Other juristic genres include the qawāʿid (succinct formulas meant to aid the student remember general principles) and collections of fatwas by a particular scholar. Sharia_sentence_124

Classical jurisprudence has been described as "one of the major intellectual achievements of Islam" and its importance in Islam has been compared to that of theology in Christianity. Sharia_sentence_125

Schools of law Sharia_section_12

Main article: Madhhab Sharia_sentence_126

The main Sunni schools of law (madhhabs) are the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali madhhabs. Sharia_sentence_127

They emerged in the ninth and tenth centuries and by the twelfth century almost all jurists aligned themselves with a particular madhhab. Sharia_sentence_128

These four schools recognize each other's validity and they have interacted in legal debate over the centuries. Sharia_sentence_129

Rulings of these schools are followed across the Muslim world without exclusive regional restrictions, but they each came to dominate in different parts of the world. Sharia_sentence_130

For example, the Maliki school is predominant in North and West Africa; the Hanafi school in South and Central Asia; the Shafi'i school in Lower Egypt, East Africa, and Southeast Asia; and the Hanbali school in North and Central Arabia. Sharia_sentence_131

The first centuries of Islam also witnessed a number of short-lived Sunni madhhabs. Sharia_sentence_132

The Zahiri school, which is commonly identified as extinct, continues to exert influence over legal thought. Sharia_sentence_133

The development of Shia legal schools occurred along the lines of theological differences and resulted in formation of the Twelver, Zaidi and Ismaili madhhabs, whose differences from Sunni legal schools are roughly of the same order as the differences among Sunni schools. Sharia_sentence_134

The Ibadi legal school, distinct from Sunni and Shia madhhabs, is predominant in Oman. Sharia_sentence_135

The transformations of Islamic legal institutions in the modern era have had profound implications for the madhhab system. Sharia_sentence_136

Legal practice in most of the Muslim world has come to be controlled by government policy and state law, so that the influence of the madhhabs beyond personal ritual practice depends on the status accorded to them within the national legal system. Sharia_sentence_137

State law codification commonly utilized the methods of takhayyur (selection of rulings without restriction to a particular madhhab) and talfiq (combining parts of different rulings on the same question). Sharia_sentence_138

Legal professionals trained in modern law schools have largely replaced traditional ulema as interpreters of the resulting laws. Sharia_sentence_139

Global Islamic movements have at times drawn on different madhhabs and at other times placed greater focus on the scriptural sources rather than classical jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_140

The Hanbali school, with its particularly strict adherence to the Quran and hadith, has inspired conservative currents of direct scriptural interpretation by the Salafi and Wahhabi movements. Sharia_sentence_141

Other currents, such as networks of Indonesian ulema and Islamic scholars residing in Muslim-minority countries, have advanced liberal interpretations of Islamic law without focusing on traditions of a particular madhhab. Sharia_sentence_142

Pre-modern Islamic legal system Sharia_section_13

Jurists Sharia_section_14

Main articles: Mufti and Madrasa Sharia_sentence_143

Sharia was traditionally interpreted by muftis. Sharia_sentence_144

During the first few centuries of Islam, muftis were private legal specialists who normally also held other jobs. Sharia_sentence_145

They issued fatwas (legal opinions), generally free of charge, in response to questions from laypersons or requests for consultation coming from judges, which would be stated in general terms. Sharia_sentence_146

Fatwas were regularly upheld in courts, and when they were not, it was usually because the fatwa was contradicted by a more authoritative legal opinion. Sharia_sentence_147

The stature of jurists was determined by their scholarly reputation. Sharia_sentence_148

The majority of classical legal works, written by author-jurists, were based in large part on fatwas of distinguished muftis. Sharia_sentence_149

These fatwas functioned as a form of legal precedent, unlike court verdicts, which were valid only for the given case. Sharia_sentence_150

Although independent muftis never disappeared, from the 12th century onward Muslim rulers began to appoint salaried muftis to answer questions from the public. Sharia_sentence_151

Over the centuries, Sunni muftis were gradually incorporated into state bureaucracies, while Shia jurists in Iran progressively asserted an autonomous authority starting from the early modern era. Sharia_sentence_152

Islamic law was initially taught in study circles that gathered in mosques and private homes. Sharia_sentence_153

The teacher, assisted by advanced students, provided commentary on concise treatises of law and examined the students' understanding of the text. Sharia_sentence_154

This tradition continued to be practiced in madrasas, which spread during the 10th and 11th centuries. Sharia_sentence_155

Madrasas were institutions of higher learning devoted principally to study of law, but also offering other subjects such as theology, medicine, and mathematics. Sharia_sentence_156

The madrasa complex usually consisted of a mosque, boarding house, and a library. Sharia_sentence_157

It was maintained by a waqf (charitable endowment), which paid salaries of professors, stipends of students, and defrayed the costs of construction and maintenance. Sharia_sentence_158

At the end of a course, the professor granted a license (ijaza) certifying a student's competence in its subject matter. Sharia_sentence_159

Students specializing in law would complete a curriculum consisting of preparatory studies, the doctrines of a particular madhhab, and training in legal disputation, and finally write a dissertation, which earned them a license to teach and issue fatwas. Sharia_sentence_160

Courts Sharia_section_15

Main articles: Qadi, Mazalim, Shurta, and Muhtasib Sharia_sentence_161

A judge (qadi) was in charge of the qadi's court (mahkama), also called the Sharia court. Sharia_sentence_162

Qadis were trained in Islamic law, though not necessarily to a level required to issue fatwas. Sharia_sentence_163

Court personnel also included a number of assistants performing various roles. Sharia_sentence_164

Judges were theoretically independent in their decisions, though they were appointed by the ruler and often experienced pressure from members of the ruling elite where their interests were at play. Sharia_sentence_165

The role of qadis was to evaluate the evidence, establish the facts of the case, and issue a verdict based on the applicable rulings of Islamic jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_166

The qadi was supposed to solicit a fatwa from a mufti if it was unclear how the law should be applied to the case. Sharia_sentence_167

Since Islamic legal theory does not recognize the distinction between private and public law, court procedures were identical for civil and criminal cases, and required a private plaintiff to produce evidence against the defendant. Sharia_sentence_168

The main type of evidence was oral witness testimony. Sharia_sentence_169

The standards of evidence for criminal cases were so strict that a conviction was often difficult to obtain even for apparently clear-cut cases. Sharia_sentence_170

Most historians believe that because of these stringent procedural norms, qadi's courts at an early date lost their jurisdiction over criminal cases, which were instead handled in other types of courts. Sharia_sentence_171

If an accusation did not result in a verdict in a qadi's court, the plaintiff could often pursue it in another type of court called the mazalim court, administered by the ruler's council. Sharia_sentence_172

The rationale for mazalim (lit. Sharia_sentence_173

wrongs, grievances) courts was to address the wrongs that Sharia courts were unable to address, including complaints against government officials. Sharia_sentence_174

Islamic jurists were commonly in attendance and a judge often presided over the court as a deputy of the ruler. Sharia_sentence_175

Mazalim verdicts were supposed to conform to the spirit of Sharia, but they were not bound by the letter of the law or the procedural restrictions of qadi's courts. Sharia_sentence_176

The police (shurta), which took initiative in preventing and investigating crime, operated its own courts. Sharia_sentence_177

Like the mazalim courts, police courts were not bound by the rules of Sharia and had the powers to inflict discretionary punishments. Sharia_sentence_178

Another office for maintaining public order was the muhtasib (market inspector), who was charged with preventing fraud in economic transactions and infractions against public morality. Sharia_sentence_179

The muhtasib took an active role in pursuing these types of offenses and meted out punishments based on local custom. Sharia_sentence_180

Socio-political context Sharia_section_16

The social fabric of pre-modern Islamic societies was largely defined by close-knit communities organized around kinship groups and local neighborhoods. Sharia_sentence_181

Conflicts between individuals had the potential to escalate into a conflict between their supporting groups and disrupt the life of the entire community. Sharia_sentence_182

Court litigation was seen as a last resort for cases where informal mediation had failed. Sharia_sentence_183

This attitude was reflected in the legal maxim "amicable settlement is the best verdict" (al-sulh sayyid al-ahkam). Sharia_sentence_184

In court disputes, qadis were generally less concerned with legal theory than with achieving an outcome that enabled the disputants to resume their previous social relationships. Sharia_sentence_185

This could be accomplished by avoiding a total loss for the losing side or simply giving them a chance to articulate their position in public and obtain a measure of psychological vindication. Sharia_sentence_186

Islamic law required judges to be familiar with local customs, and they exercised a number of other public functions in the community, including mediation and arbitration, supervision of public works, auditing waqf finances, and looking after the interests of orphans. Sharia_sentence_187

Unlike pre-modern cultures where the ruling dynasty promulgated the law, Islamic law was formulated by religious scholars without involvement of the rulers. Sharia_sentence_188

The law derived its authority not from political control, but rather from the collective doctrinal positions of the legal schools (madhhabs) in their capacity as interpreters of the scriptures. Sharia_sentence_189

The ulema (religious scholars) were involved in management of communal affairs and acted as representatives of the Muslim population vis-à-vis the ruling dynasties, who before the modern era had limited capacity for direct governance. Sharia_sentence_190

Military elites relied on the ulema for religious legitimation, with financial support for religious institutions being one of the principal means through which these elites established their legitimacy. Sharia_sentence_191

In turn, the ulema depended on the support of the ruling elites for the continuing operation of religious institutions. Sharia_sentence_192

Although the relationship between secular rulers and religious scholars underwent a number of shifts and transformations in different times and places, this mutual dependence characterized Islamic history until the start of the modern era. Sharia_sentence_193

Additionally, since Sharia contained few provisions in several areas of public law, Muslim rulers were able to legislate various collections of economic, criminal and administrative laws outside the jurisdiction of Islamic jurists, the most famous of which is the qanun promulgated by Ottoman sultans beginning from the 15th century. Sharia_sentence_194

The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707) issued a hybrid body of law known as Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, based on Hanafi fatwas as well as decisions of Islamic courts, and made it applicable to all religious communities on the Indian subcontinent. Sharia_sentence_195

This early attempt to turn Islamic law into semi-codified state legislation sparked rebellions against Mughal rule. Sharia_sentence_196

Women, non-Muslims, slaves Sharia_section_17

Main articles: Women in Islam, Dhimmi, Islamic views on slavery, and History of slavery in the Muslim world Sharia_sentence_197

In both the rules of civil disputes and application of penal law, classical Sharia distinguishes between men and women, between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between free persons and slaves. Sharia_sentence_198

Traditional Islamic law assumes a patriarchal society with a man at the head of the household. Sharia_sentence_199

Different legal schools formulated a variety of legal norms which could be manipulated to the advantage of men or women, but women were generally at a disadvantage with respect to the rules of inheritance, blood money (diya), and witness testimony, where a woman's value is effectively treated as half of that of a man. Sharia_sentence_200

In economic terms women enjoyed greater advantages under Islamic law than under other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern legal systems, including the right to own personal property and dispose of it freely, which women in the West did not possess until quite recently. Sharia_sentence_201

Various financial obligations imposed on the husband acted as a deterrent against unilateral divorce and commonly gave the wife financial leverage in divorce proceedings. Sharia_sentence_202

Women were active in Sharia courts as both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of cases, though some opted to be represented by a male relative. Sharia_sentence_203

Sharia was intended to regulate affairs of the Muslim community. Sharia_sentence_204

Non-Muslims residing under Islamic rule had the legal status of dhimmi, which entailed a number of protections, restrictions, freedoms and legal inequalities, including payment of the jizya tax. Sharia_sentence_205

Dhimmi communities had legal autonomy to adjudicate their internal affairs. Sharia_sentence_206

Cases involving litigants from two different religious groups fell under jurisdiction of Sharia courts, where (unlike in secular courts) testimony of non-Muslim witnesses against a Muslim was inadmissible in criminal cases or at all. Sharia_sentence_207

This legal framework was implemented with varying degree of rigor. Sharia_sentence_208

In some periods or towns, all inhabitants apparently used the same court without regard for their religious affiliation. Sharia_sentence_209

The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb imposed Islamic law on all his subjects, including provisions traditionally applicable only to Muslims, while some of his predecessors and successors are said to have abolished jizya. Sharia_sentence_210

According to Ottoman records, non-Muslim women took their cases to a Sharia court when they expected a more favorable outcome on marital, divorce and property questions than in Christian and Jewish courts. Sharia_sentence_211

Classical fiqh acknowledges and regulates slavery as a legitimate institution. Sharia_sentence_212

It granted slaves certain rights and protections, improving their status relative to Greek and Roman law, and restricted the scenarios under which people could be enslaved. Sharia_sentence_213

However, slaves could not inherit or enter into a contract, and were subject to their master's will in a number of ways. Sharia_sentence_214

The labor and property of slaves were owned by the master, who was also entitled to sexual submission of his unmarried slaves. Sharia_sentence_215

Formal legal disabilities for some groups coexisted with a legal culture that viewed Sharia as a reflection of universal principles of justice, which involved protection of the weak against injustices committed by the strong. Sharia_sentence_216

This conception was reinforced by the historical practice of Sharia courts, where peasants "almost always" won cases against oppressive landowners, and non-Muslims often prevailed in disputes against Muslims, including such powerful figures as the governor of their province. Sharia_sentence_217

In family matters the Sharia court was seen as a place where the rights of women could be asserted against their husband's transgressions. Sharia_sentence_218

Modern legal reforms Sharia_section_18

Under colonial rule Sharia_section_19

Starting from the 17th century, European powers began to extend political influence over lands ruled by Muslim dynasties, and by the end of the 19th century, much of the Muslim world came under colonial domination. Sharia_sentence_219

The first areas of Islamic law to be impacted were usually commercial and criminal laws, which impeded colonial administration and were soon replaced by European regulations. Sharia_sentence_220

Islamic commercial laws were also replaced by European (mostly French) laws in Muslim states which retained formal independence, because these states increasingly came to rely on Western capital and could not afford to lose the business of foreign merchants who refused to submit to Islamic regulations. Sharia_sentence_221

The first significant changes to the legal system of British India were initiated in the late 18th century by the governor of Bengal Warren Hastings. Sharia_sentence_222

Hastings' plan of legal reform envisioned a multi-tiered court system for the Muslim population, with a middle tier of British judges advised by local Islamic jurists, and a lower tier of courts operated by qadis. Sharia_sentence_223

Hastings also commissioned a translation of the classic manual of Hanafi fiqh, Al-Hidayah, from Arabic into Persian and then English, later complemented by other texts. Sharia_sentence_224

These translations enabled British judges to pass verdicts in the name of Islamic law based on a combination of Sharia rules and common law doctrines, and eliminated the need to rely on consultation by local ulema, whom they mistrusted. Sharia_sentence_225

In the traditional Islamic context, a concise text like Al-Hidayah would be used as a basis for classroom commentary by a professor, and the doctrines thus learned would be mediated in court by judicial discretion, consideration of local customs and availability of different legal opinions that could fit the facts of the case. Sharia_sentence_226

The British use of Al-Hidayah, which amounted to an inadvertent codification of Sharia, and its interpretation by judges trained in Western legal traditions anticipated later legal reforms in the Muslim world. Sharia_sentence_227

British administrators felt that Sharia rules too often allowed criminals to escape punishment, as exemplified by Hastings' complaint that Islamic law was "founded on the most lenient principles and on an abhorrence of bloodshed". Sharia_sentence_228

In the course of the 19th century, criminal laws and other aspects of the Islamic legal system in India were supplanted by British law, with the exception of Sharia rules retained in family laws and some property transactions. Sharia_sentence_229

Among other changes, these reforms brought about abolition of slavery, prohibition of child marriage, and a much more frequent use of capital punishment. Sharia_sentence_230

The resulting legal system, known as Anglo-Muhammadan law, was treated by the British as a model for legal reforms in their other colonies. Sharia_sentence_231

Like the British in India, colonial administrations typically sought to obtain precise and authoritative information about indigenous laws, which prompted them to prefer classical Islamic legal texts over local judicial practice. Sharia_sentence_232

This, together with their conception of Islamic law as a collection of inflexible rules, led to an emphasis on traditionalist forms of Sharia that were not rigorously applied in the pre-colonial period and served as a formative influence on the modern identity politics of the Muslim world. Sharia_sentence_233

Ottoman empire Sharia_section_20

During the colonial era, Muslim rulers concluded that they could not resist European pressure unless they modernized their armies and built centrally administered states along the lines of Western models. Sharia_sentence_234

In the Ottoman empire, the first such changes in the legal sphere involved placing the formerly independent waqfs under state control. Sharia_sentence_235

This reform, passed in 1826, enriched the public treasury at the expense of the waqfs, thereby depleting the financial support for traditional Islamic legal education. Sharia_sentence_236

Over the second half of the 19th century, a new hierarchical system of secular courts was established to supplement and eventually replace most religious courts. Sharia_sentence_237

Students hoping to pursue legal careers in the new court system increasingly preferred attending secular schools over the traditional path of legal education with its dimming financial prospects. Sharia_sentence_238

The Tanzimat reforms of the 19th century saw reorganization of both Islamic civil law and sultanic criminal law after the model of the Napoleonic Code. Sharia_sentence_239

In the 1870s, a codification of civil law and procedure (excepting marriage and divorce), called the Mecelle, was produced for use in both Sharia and secular courts. Sharia_sentence_240

It adopted the Turkish language for the benefit of the new legal class who no longer possessed competence in the Arabic idiom of traditional jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_241

The code was based on Hanafi law, and its authors selected minority opinions over authoritative ones when they were felt to better "suit the present conditions". Sharia_sentence_242

The Mecelle was promulgated as a qanun (sultanic code), which represented an unprecedented assertion of the state's authority over Islamic civil law, traditionally the preserve of the ulema. Sharia_sentence_243

The 1917 Ottoman Law of Family Rights adopted an innovative approach of drawing rules from minority and majority opinions of all Sunni madhhabs with a modernizing intent. Sharia_sentence_244

The Republic of Turkey, which emerged after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, abolished its Sharia courts and replaced Ottoman civil laws with the Swiss Civil Code, but Ottoman civil laws remained in force for several decades in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. Sharia_sentence_245

Nation states Sharia_section_21

Westernization of legal institutions and expansion of state control in all areas of law, which began during the colonial era, continued in nation-states of the Muslim world. Sharia_sentence_246

Sharia courts at first continued to exist alongside state courts as in earlier times, but the doctrine that sultanic courts should implement the ideals of Sharia was gradually replaced by legal norms imported from Europe. Sharia_sentence_247

Court procedures were also brought in line with European practice. Sharia_sentence_248

Though the Islamic terms qadi and mahkama (qadi's/Sharia court) were preserved, they generally came to mean judge and court in the Western sense. Sharia_sentence_249

While in the traditional Sharia court all parties represented themselves, in modern courts they are represented by professional lawyers educated in Western-style law schools, and the verdicts are subject to review in an appeals court. Sharia_sentence_250

In the 20th century, most countries abolished a parallel system of Sharia courts and brought all cases under a national civil court system. Sharia_sentence_251

In most Muslim-majority countries, traditional rules of classical fiqh have been largely preserved only in family law. Sharia_sentence_252

In some countries religious minorities such as Christians or Shia Muslims have been subject to separate systems of family laws. Sharia_sentence_253

Many Muslims today believe that contemporary Sharia-based laws are an authentic representation of the pre-modern legal tradition. Sharia_sentence_254

In reality, they generally represent the result of extensive legal reforms made in the modern era. Sharia_sentence_255

As traditional Islamic jurists lost their role as authoritative interpreters of the laws applied in courts, these laws were codified by legislators and administered by state systems which employed a number of devices to effect changes, including: Sharia_sentence_256


  • Selection of alternative opinions from traditional legal literature (takhayyur), potentially among multiple madhhabs or denominations, and combining parts of different rulings (talfiq).Sharia_item_2_8
  • Appeal to the classical doctrines of necessity (darura), public interest (maslaha), and the objectives (maqasid) of Sharia, which played a limited role in classical fiqh, but were now given wider utilitarian applications.Sharia_item_2_9
  • Changes in administrative law that grant the courts discretionary powers to restrict certain practices which are not forbidden by substantive law (e.g., polygamy), in some cases imposing penal sanctions as additional deterrence.Sharia_item_2_10
  • Modernist interpretation of Islamic scriptures without adherence to the rules or methodologies of traditional jurisprudence, known as neo-ijtihad.Sharia_item_2_11

The most powerful influence on liberal reformist thought came from the work of the Egyptian Islamic scholar Muhammad ʿAbduh (1849–1905). Sharia_sentence_257

Abduh viewed only Sharia rules pertaining to religious rituals as inflexible, and argued that the other Islamic laws should be adapted based on changing circumstances in consideration of social well-being. Sharia_sentence_258

Following precedents of earlier Islamic thinkers, he advocated restoring Islam to its original purity by returning to the Quran and the sunna instead of following the medieval schools of jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_259

He championed a creative approach to ijtihad that involved direct interpretation of scriptures as well as the methods of takhayyur and talfiq. Sharia_sentence_260

One of the most influential figures in modern legal reforms was the Egyptian legal scholar Abd El-Razzak El-Sanhuri (1895–1971), who possessed expertise in both Islamic and Western law. Sharia_sentence_261

Sanhuri argued that reviving Islamic legal heritage in a way that served the needs of contemporary society required its analysis in light of the modern science of comparative law. Sharia_sentence_262

He drafted the civil codes of Egypt (1949) and Iraq (1951) based on a variety of sources, including classical fiqh, European laws, existing Arab and Turkish codes, and the history of local court decisions. Sharia_sentence_263

Sanhuri's Egyptian code incorporated few classical Sharia rules, but he drew on traditional jurisprudence more frequently for the Iraqi code. Sharia_sentence_264

Sanhuri's codes were subsequently adopted in some form by most Arab countries. Sharia_sentence_265

Aside from the radical reforms of Islamic family law carried out in Tunisia (1956) and Iran (1967), governments often preferred to make changes that made a clear break from traditional Sharia rules by imposing administrative hurdles rather than changing the rules themselves, in order to minimize objections from religious conservatives. Sharia_sentence_266

Various procedural changes have been made in a number of countries to restrict polygamy, give women greater rights in divorce, and eliminate child marriage. Sharia_sentence_267

Inheritance has been the legal domain least susceptible to reform, as legislators have been generally reluctant to tamper with the highly technical system of Quranic shares. Sharia_sentence_268

Some reforms have faced strong conservative opposition. Sharia_sentence_269

For example, the 1979 reform of Egyptian family law, promulgated by Anwar Sadat through presidential decree, provoked an outcry and was annulled in 1985 by the supreme court on procedural grounds, to be later replaced by a compromise version. Sharia_sentence_270

The 2003 reform of Moroccan family law, which sought to reconcile universal human rights norms and the country's Islamic heritage, was drafted by a commission that included parliamentarians, religious scholars and feminist activists, and the result has been praised by international rights groups as an example of progressive legislation achieved within an Islamic framework. Sharia_sentence_271

Islamization Sharia_section_22

Main article: Islamization Sharia_sentence_272

The Islamic revival of the late 20th century brought the topic of Sharia to international attention in the form of numerous political campaigns in the Muslim world calling for full implementation of Sharia. Sharia_sentence_273

A number of factors have contributed to the rise of these movements, classified under the rubric of Islamism or political Islam, including the failure of authoritarian secular regimes to meet the expectations of their citizens, and a desire of Muslim populations to return to more culturally authentic forms of socio-political organization in the face of a perceived cultural invasion from the West. Sharia_sentence_274

Islamist leaders such as Ayatollah Khomeini drew on leftist anticolonialist rhetoric by framing their call for Sharia as a resistance struggle. Sharia_sentence_275

They accused secular leaders of corruption and predatory behavior, and claimed that a return to Sharia would replace despotic rulers with pious leaders striving for social and economic justice. Sharia_sentence_276

In the Arab world these positions are often encapsulated in the slogan "Islam is the solution" (al-Islam huwa al-hall). Sharia_sentence_277

Full implementation of Sharia theoretically refers to expanding its scope to all fields of law and all areas of public life. Sharia_sentence_278

In practice, Islamization campaigns have focused on a few highly visible issues associated with the conservative Muslim identity, particularly women's hijab and the hudud criminal punishments (whipping, stoning and amputation) prescribed for certain crimes. Sharia_sentence_279

For many Islamists, hudud punishments are at the core of the divine Sharia because they are specified by the letter of scripture rather than by human interpreters. Sharia_sentence_280

Modern Islamists have often rejected, at least in theory, the stringent procedural constraints developed by classical jurists to restrict their application. Sharia_sentence_281

To the broader Muslim public, the calls for Sharia often represent, even more than any specific demands, a vague vision of their current economic and political situation being replaced by a "just utopia". Sharia_sentence_282

A number of legal reforms have been made under the influence of these movements, starting from the 1970s when Egypt and Syria amended their constitutions to specify Sharia as the basis of legislation. Sharia_sentence_283

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 represented a watershed for Islamization advocates, demonstrating that it was possible to replace a secular regime with a theocracy. Sharia_sentence_284

Several countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, and some Nigerian states have incorporated hudud rules into their criminal justice systems, which, however, retained fundamental influences of earlier Westernizing reforms. Sharia_sentence_285

In practice, these changes were largely symbolic, and aside from some cases brought to trial to demonstrate that the new rules were being enforced, hudud punishments tended to fall into disuse, sometimes to be revived depending on the local political climate. Sharia_sentence_286

The supreme courts of Sudan and Iran have rarely approved verdicts of stoning or amputation, and the supreme courts of Pakistan and Nigeria have never done so. Sharia_sentence_287

Nonetheless, Islamization campaigns have also had repercussions in several other areas of law, leading to curtailment of rights of women and religious minorities, and in the case of Sudan contributing to the breakout of a civil war. Sharia_sentence_288

Advocates of Islamization have often been more concerned with ideology than traditional jurisprudence and there is no agreement among them as to what form a modern Sharia-based "Islamic state" should take. Sharia_sentence_289

This is particularly the case for the theorists of Islamic economics and Islamic finance, who have advocated both free-market and socialist economic models. Sharia_sentence_290

The notion of "Sharia-compliant" finance has become an active area of doctrinal innovation and its development has had a major impact on business operations around the world. Sharia_sentence_291

Role in contemporary Islam Sharia_section_23

In state laws Sharia_section_24

Main article: Application of sharia law by country Sharia_sentence_292

Types of legal systems Sharia_section_25

The legal systems of most Muslim-majority countries can be classified as either secular or mixed. Sharia_sentence_293

Sharia plays no role in secular legal systems. Sharia_sentence_294

In mixed legal systems, Sharia rules are allowed to influence some national laws, which are codified and may be based on European or Indian models, and the central legislative role is played by politicians and modern jurists rather than the ulema (traditional Islamic scholars). Sharia_sentence_295

Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states possess what may be called classical Sharia systems, where national law is largely uncodified and formally equated with Sharia, with ulema playing a decisive role in its interpretation. Sharia_sentence_296

Iran has adopted some features of classical Sharia systems, while also maintaining characteristics of mixed systems, like codified laws and a parliament. Sharia_sentence_297

Constitutional law Sharia_section_26

Constitutions of many Muslim-majority countries refer to Sharia as a source or the main source of law, though these references are not in themselves indicative of how much the legal system is influenced by Sharia, and whether the influence has a traditionalist or modernist character. Sharia_sentence_298

The same constitutions usually also refer to universal principles such as democracy and human rights, leaving it up to legislators and the judiciary to work out how these norms are to be reconciled in practice. Sharia_sentence_299

Conversely, some countries (e.g., Algeria), whose constitution does not mention Sharia, possess Sharia-based family laws. Sharia_sentence_300

Nisrine Abiad identifies Bahrain, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia as states with "strong constitutional consequences" of Sharia "on the organization and functioning of power". Sharia_sentence_301

Family law Sharia_section_27

Except for secular systems, Muslim-majority countries possess Sharia-based laws dealing with family matters (marriage, inheritance, etc.). Sharia_sentence_302

These laws generally reflect influence of various modern-era reforms and tend to be characterized by ambiguity, with traditional and modernist interpretations often manifesting themselves in the same country, both in legislation and court decisions. Sharia_sentence_303

In some countries (e.g., parts of Nigeria and Greece), people can choose whether to pursue a case in a Sharia or secular court. Sharia_sentence_304

Criminal law Sharia_section_28

Countries in the Muslim world generally have criminal codes influenced by French law or common law, and in some cases a combination of Western legal traditions. Sharia_sentence_305

Saudi Arabia has never adopted a criminal code and Saudi judges still follow traditional Hanbali jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_306

In the course of Islamization campaigns, several countries (Libya, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Mauritania, and Yemen) inserted Islamic criminal laws into their penal codes, which were otherwise based on Western models. Sharia_sentence_307

In some countries only hudud penalties were added, while others also enacted provisions for qisas (law of retaliation) and diya (monetary compensation). Sharia_sentence_308

Iran subsequently issued a new "Islamic Penal Code". Sharia_sentence_309

The criminal codes of Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates contain a general provision that certain crimes are to be punished according to Islamic law, without specifying the penalties. Sharia_sentence_310

Some Nigerian states have also enacted Islamic criminal laws. Sharia_sentence_311

Laws in the Indonesian province of Aceh provide for application of discretionary (ta'zir) punishments for violation of Islamic norms, but explicitly exclude hudud and qisas. Sharia_sentence_312

Brunei has been implementing a "Sharia Penal Code", which includes provisions for stoning and amputation, in stages since 2014. Sharia_sentence_313

The countries where hudud penalties are legal do not use stoning and amputation routinely, and generally apply other punishments instead. Sharia_sentence_314

Muslim-minority countries Sharia_section_29

Sharia also plays a role beyond religious rituals and personal ethics in some countries with Muslim minorities. Sharia_sentence_315

For example, in Israel Sharia-based family laws are administered for the Muslim population by the Ministry of Justice through the Sharia Courts. Sharia_sentence_316

In India, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act provides for the use of Islamic law for Muslims in several areas, mainly related to family law. Sharia_sentence_317

In England, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal makes use of Sharia family law to settle disputes, though this limited adoption of Sharia is controversial. Sharia_sentence_318

Court procedures Sharia_section_30

Role of fatwas Sharia_section_31

Main article: Fatwa Sharia_sentence_319

The spread of codified state laws and Western-style legal education in the modern Muslim world has displaced traditional muftis from their historical role of clarifying and elaborating the laws applied in courts. Sharia_sentence_320

Instead, fatwas have increasingly served to advise the general public on other aspects of Sharia, particularly questions regarding religious rituals and everyday life. Sharia_sentence_321

Modern fatwas deal with topics as diverse as insurance, sex-change operations, moon exploration and beer drinking. Sharia_sentence_322

Most Muslim-majority states have established national organizations devoted to issuing fatwas, and these organizations to a considerable extent replaced independent muftis as religious guides for the general population. Sharia_sentence_323

State-employed muftis generally promote a vision of Islam that is compatible with state law of their country. Sharia_sentence_324

Modern public and political fatwas have addressed and sometimes sparked controversies in the Muslim world and beyond. Sharia_sentence_325

Ayatollah Khomeini's proclamation condemning Salman Rushdie to death for his novel The Satanic Verses is credited with bringing the notion of fatwa to world's attention, although some scholars have argued that it did not qualify as one. Sharia_sentence_326

Together with later militant fatwas, it has contributed to the popular misconception of the fatwa as a religious death warrant. Sharia_sentence_327

Modern fatwas have been marked by an increased reliance on the process of ijtihad, i.e. deriving legal rulings based on an independent analysis rather than conformity with the opinions of earlier legal authorities (taqlid), and some of them are issued by individuals who do not possess the qualifications traditionally required of a mufti. Sharia_sentence_328

The most notorious examples are the fatwas of militant extremists. Sharia_sentence_329

When Osama Bin Laden and his associates issued a fatwa in 1998 proclaiming "jihad against Jews and Crusaders", many Islamic jurists, in addition to denouncing its content, stressed that bin Laden was not qualified to either issue a fatwa or proclaim a jihad. Sharia_sentence_330

New forms of ijtihad have also given rise to fatwas that support such notions as gender equality and banking interest, which are at variance with classical jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_331

In the internet age, a large number of websites provide fatwas in response to queries from around the world, in addition to radio shows and satellite television programs offering call-in fatwas. Sharia_sentence_332

Erroneous and sometimes bizarre fatwas issued by unqualified or eccentric individuals in recent times have sometimes given rise to complaints about a "chaos" in the modern practice of issuing fatwas. Sharia_sentence_333

There exists no international Islamic authority to settle differences in interpretation of Islamic law. Sharia_sentence_334

An International Islamic Fiqh Academy was created by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, but its legal opinions are not binding. Sharia_sentence_335

The vast amount of fatwas produced in the modern world attests to the importance of Islamic authenticity to many Muslims. Sharia_sentence_336

However, there is little research available to indicate to what extent Muslims acknowledge the authority of different muftis or heed their rulings in real life. Sharia_sentence_337

Role of hisba Sharia_section_32

Main article: Hisbah Sharia_sentence_338

Further information: Islamic religious police Sharia_sentence_339

The classical doctrine of hisba, associated with the Quranic injunction of enjoining good and forbidding wrong, refers to the duty of Muslims to promote moral rectitude and intervene when another Muslim is acting wrongly. Sharia_sentence_340

Historically, its legal implementation was entrusted to a public official called muhtasib (market inspector), who was charged with preventing fraud, disturbance of public order and infractions against public morality. Sharia_sentence_341

This office disappeared in the modern era everywhere in the Muslim world, but it was revived in Arabia by the first Saudi state, and later instituted as a government committee responsible for supervising markets and public order. Sharia_sentence_342

It has been aided by volunteers enforcing attendance of daily prayers, gender segregation in public places, and a conservative notion of hijab. Sharia_sentence_343

Committee officers were authorized to detain violators before a 2016 reform. Sharia_sentence_344

With the rising international influence of Wahhabism, the conception of hisba as an individual obligation to police religious observance has become more widespread, which led to the appearance of activists around the world who urge fellow Muslims to observe Islamic rituals, dress code, and other aspects of Sharia. Sharia_sentence_345

In Iran, hisba was enshrined in the constitution after the 1979 Revolution as a "universal and reciprocal duty", incumbent upon both the government and the people. Sharia_sentence_346

Its implementation has been carried out by official committees as well as volunteer forces (basij). Sharia_sentence_347

Elsewhere, policing of various interpretations of Sharia-based public morality has been carried out by the Kano State Hisbah Corps in the Nigerian state of Kano, by Polisi Perda Syariah Islam in the Aceh province of Indonesia, by the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in the Gaza Strip, and by the Taleban during their 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan. Sharia_sentence_348

Religious police organizations tend to have support from conservative currents of public opinion, but their activities are often disliked by other segments of the population, especially liberals, urban women, and younger people. Sharia_sentence_349

In Egypt, a law based on the doctrine of hisba had for a time allowed a Muslim to sue another Muslim over beliefs that may harm society, though because of abuses it has been amended so that only the state prosecutor may bring suit based on private requests. Sharia_sentence_350

Before the amendment was passed, a hisba suit brought by a group of Islamists against the liberal theologian Nasr Abu Zayd on charges of apostasy led to annulment of his marriage. Sharia_sentence_351

The law was also invoked in an unsuccessful blasphemy suit against the feminist author Nawal El Saadawi. Sharia_sentence_352

Hisba has also been invoked in several Muslim-majority countries as rationale for blocking pornographic content on the internet and for other forms of faith-based censorship. Sharia_sentence_353

Support and opposition Sharia_section_33

Support Sharia_section_34

A 2013 survey based on interviews of 38,000 Muslims, randomly selected from urban and rural parts in 39 countries using area probability designs, by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that a majority—in some cases "overwhelming" majority—of Muslims in a number of countries support making "Sharia" or "Islamic law" the law of the land, including Afghanistan (99%), Iraq (91%), Niger (86%), Malaysia (86%), Pakistan (84%), Morocco (83%), Bangladesh (82%), Egypt (74%), Indonesia (72%), Jordan (71%), Uganda (66%), Ethiopia (65%), Mali (63%), Ghana (58%), and Tunisia (56%). Sharia_sentence_354

In Muslim regions of Southern-Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the support is less than 50%: Russia (42%), Kyrgyzstan (35%), Tajikistan (27%), Kosovo (20%), Albania (12%), Turkey (12%), Kazakhstan (10%), Azerbaijan (8%). Sharia_sentence_355

Regional averages of support were 84% in South Asia, 77% in Southeast Asia, 74% in the Middle-East/North Africa, 64%, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 18% in Southern-Eastern Europe, and 12% in Central Asia . Sharia_sentence_356

However, while most of those who support implementation of Sharia favor using it in family and property disputes, fewer supported application of severe punishments such as whippings and cutting off hands, and interpretations of some aspects differed widely. Sharia_sentence_357

According to the Pew poll, among Muslims who support making Sharia the law of the land, most do not believe that it should be applied to non-Muslims. Sharia_sentence_358

In the Muslim-majority countries surveyed this proportion varied between 74% (of 74% in Egypt) and 19% (of 10% in Kazakhstan), as percentage of those who favored making Sharia the law of the land. Sharia_sentence_359

In all of the countries surveyed, respondents were more likely to define Sharia as "the revealed word of God" rather than as "a body of law developed by men based on the word of God". Sharia_sentence_360

In analyzing the poll, Amaney Jamal has argued that there is no single, shared understanding of the notions "Sharia" and "Islamic law" among the respondents. Sharia_sentence_361

In particular, in countries where Muslim citizens have little experience with rigid application of Sharia-based state laws, these notions tend to be more associated with Islamic ideals like equality and social justice than with prohibitions. Sharia_sentence_362

Other polls have indicated that for Egyptians, the word "Sharia" is associated with notions of political, social and gender justice. Sharia_sentence_363

In 2008, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has suggested that Islamic and Orthodox Jewish courts should be integrated into the British legal system alongside ecclesiastical courts to handle marriage and divorce, subject to agreement of all parties and strict requirements for protection of equal rights for women. Sharia_sentence_364

His reference to the sharia sparked a controversy. Sharia_sentence_365

Later that year, Nicholas Phillips, then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, stated that there was "no reason why sharia principles [...] should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution." Sharia_sentence_366

A 2008 YouGov poll in the United Kingdom found 40% of Muslim students interviewed supported the introduction of sharia into British law for Muslims. Sharia_sentence_367

Michael Broyde, professor of law at Emory University specializing in alternative dispute resolution and Jewish law, has argued that sharia courts can be integrated into the American religious arbitration system, provided that they adopt appropriate institutional requirements as American rabbinical courts have done. Sharia_sentence_368

Opposition Sharia_section_35

Further information: Ban on sharia law Sharia_sentence_369

In the Western world, Sharia has been called a source of "hysteria", "more controversial than ever", the one aspect of Islam that inspires "particular dread". Sharia_sentence_370

On the Internet, "dozens of self-styled counter-jihadis" emerged to campaign against Sharia law, describing it in strict interpretations resembling those of Salafi Muslims. Sharia_sentence_371

Also, fear of Sharia law and of the ideology of extremism among Muslims as well as certain congregations donating money to terrorist organizations within the Muslim community reportedly spread to mainstream conservative Republicans in the United States. Sharia_sentence_372

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won ovations calling for a federal ban on Sharia law. Sharia_sentence_373

The issue of "liberty versus Sharia" was called a "momentous civilisational debate" by right-wing pundit Diana West. Sharia_sentence_374

In 2008 in Britain, the future Prime Minister (David Cameron) declared his opposition to "any expansion of Sharia law in the UK." Sharia_sentence_375

In Germany, in 2014, the Interior Minister (Thomas de Maizière) told a newspaper (Bild), "Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil." Sharia_sentence_376

Some countries and jurisdictions have explicit bans on sharia law. Sharia_sentence_377

In Canada, for example, sharia law has been explicitly banned in Quebec by a 2005 unanimous vote of the National Assembly, while the province of Ontario allows family law disputes to be arbitrated only under Ontario law. Sharia_sentence_378

In the U.S., opponents of Sharia have sought to ban it from being considered in courts, where it has been routinely used alongside traditional Jewish and Catholic laws to decide legal, business, and family disputes subject to contracts drafted with reference to such laws, as long as they do not violate secular law or the U.S. constitution. Sharia_sentence_379

After failing to gather support for a federal law making observing Sharia a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, anti-Sharia activists have focused on state legislatures. Sharia_sentence_380

By 2014, bills aimed against use of Sharia have been introduced in 34 states and passed in 11. Sharia_sentence_381

These bills have generally referred to banning foreign or religious law in order to thwart legal challenges. Sharia_sentence_382

According to Jan Michiel Otto, Professor of Law and Governance in Developing Countries at Leiden University, "[a]nthropological research shows that people in local communities often do not distinguish clearly whether and to what extent their norms and practices are based on local tradition, tribal custom, or religion. Sharia_sentence_383

Those who adhere to a confrontational view of Sharia tend to ascribe many undesirable practices to Sharia and religion overlooking custom and culture, even if high-ranking religious authorities have stated the opposite." Sharia_sentence_384

Contemporary debates and controversies Sharia_section_36

Compatibility with democracy Sharia_section_37

Further information: Islamic ethics, Islam and democracy, Shura, and Ijma Sharia_sentence_385

It has been argued that the extent to which Sharia is compatible with democracy depends on how it is culturally interpreted, with a cultural position that Sharia represents the human attempt to interpret God’s message associated with a greater preference for democracy than an islamist interpretation that Sharia law is the literal word of God . Sharia_sentence_386

General Muslim views Sharia_section_38

Esposito and DeLong-Bas distinguish four attitudes toward Sharia and democracy prominent among Muslims today: Sharia_sentence_387


  • Advocacy of democratic ideas, often accompanied by a belief that they are compatible with Islam, which can play a public role within a democratic system, as exemplified by many protestors who took part in the Arab Spring uprisings;Sharia_item_3_12
  • Support for democratic procedures such as elections, combined with religious or moral objections toward some aspects of Western democracy seen as incompatible with sharia, as exemplified by Islamic scholars like Yusuf al-Qaradawi;Sharia_item_3_13
  • Rejection of democracy as a Western import and advocacy of traditional Islamic institutions, such as shura (consultation) and ijma (consensus), as exemplified by supporters of absolute monarchy and radical Islamist movements;Sharia_item_3_14
  • Belief that democracy requires restricting religion to private life, held by a minority in the Muslim world.Sharia_item_3_15

Polls conducted by Gallup and PEW in Muslim-majority countries indicate that most Muslims see no contradiction between democratic values and religious principles, desiring neither a theocracy, nor a secular democracy, but rather a political model where democratic institutions and values can coexist with the values and principles of Sharia. Sharia_sentence_388

Islamic political theories Sharia_section_39

Muslih and Browers identify three major perspectives on democracy among prominent Muslims thinkers who have sought to develop modern, distinctly Islamic theories of socio-political organization conforming to Islamic values and law: Sharia_sentence_389


  • The rejectionist Islamic view, elaborated by Sayyid Qutb and Abul A'la Maududi, condemns imitation of foreign ideas, drawing a distinction between Western democracy and the Islamic doctrine of shura (consultation between ruler and ruled). This perspective, which stresses comprehensive implementation of Sharia, was widespread in the 1970s and 1980s among various movements seeking to establish an Islamic state, but its popularity has diminished in recent years.Sharia_item_4_16
  • The moderate Islamic view stresses the concepts of maslaha (public interest), ʿadl (justice), and shura. Islamic leaders are considered to uphold justice if they promote public interest, as defined through shura. In this view, shura provides the basis for representative government institutions that are similar to Western democracy, but reflect Islamic rather than Western liberal values. Hasan al-Turabi, Rashid al-Ghannushi, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi have advocated different forms of this view.Sharia_item_4_17
  • The liberal Islamic view is influenced by Muhammad Abduh's emphasis on the role of reason in understanding religion. It stresses democratic principles based on pluralism and freedom of thought. Authors like Fahmi Huwaidi and Tariq al-Bishri have constructed Islamic justifications for full citizenship of non-Muslims in an Islamic state by drawing on early Islamic texts. Others, like Mohammed Arkoun and Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, have justified pluralism and freedom through non-literalist approaches to textual interpretation. Abdolkarim Soroush has argued for a "religious democracy" based on religious thought that is democratic, tolerant, and just. Islamic liberals argue for the necessity of constant reexamination of religious understanding, which can only be done in a democratic context.Sharia_item_4_18

European Court of Human Rights Sharia_section_40

In 1998 the Constitutional Court of Turkey banned and dissolved Turkey's Refah Party over its announced intention to introduce Sharia-based laws, ruling that it would change Turkey's secular order and undermine democracy. Sharia_sentence_390

On appeal by Refah the European Court of Human Rights determined that "sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy". Sharia_sentence_391

Refah's Sharia-based notion of a "plurality of legal systems, grounded on religion" was ruled to contravene the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Sharia_sentence_392

It was determined that it would "do away with the State's role as the guarantor of individual rights and freedoms" and "infringe the principle of non-discrimination between individuals as regards their enjoyment of public freedoms, which is one of the fundamental principles of democracy". Sharia_sentence_393

In an analysis, Maurits S. Berger found the ruling to be "nebulous" and surprising from a legal point of view, since the Court neglected to define what it meant by "Sharia" and would not, for example, be expected to regard Sharia rules for Islamic rituals as contravening European human rights values. Sharia_sentence_394

Kevin Boyle also criticized the decision for not distinguishing between extremist and mainstream interpretations of Islam and implying that peaceful advocacy of Islamic doctrines ("an attitude which fails to respect [the principle of secularism]") is not protected by the European Convention provisions for freedom of religion. Sharia_sentence_395

Compatibility with human rights Sharia_section_41

Governments of several predominantly Muslim countries have criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) for its perceived failure to take into account the cultural and religious context of non-Western countries. Sharia_sentence_396

Iran declared in the UN assembly that UDHR was "a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition", which could not be implemented by Muslims without trespassing the Islamic law. Sharia_sentence_397

Islamic scholars and Islamist political parties consider 'universal human rights' arguments as imposition of a non-Muslim culture on Muslim people, a disrespect of customary cultural practices and of Islam. Sharia_sentence_398

In 1990, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, a group representing all Muslim-majority nations, met in Cairo to respond to the UDHR, then adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. Sharia_sentence_399

Ann Elizabeth Mayer points to notable absences from the Cairo Declaration: provisions for democratic principles, protection for religious freedom, freedom of association and freedom of the press, as well as equality in rights and equal protection under the law. Sharia_sentence_400

Article 24 of the Cairo declaration states that "all the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic shari'a". Sharia_sentence_401

In 2009, the journal Free Inquiry summarized the criticism of the Cairo Declaration in an editorial: "We are deeply concerned with the changes to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by a coalition of Islamic states within the United Nations that wishes to prohibit any criticism of religion and would thus protect Islam's limited view of human rights. Sharia_sentence_402

In view of the conditions inside the Islamic Republic of Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Syria, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we should expect that at the top of their human rights agenda would be to rectify the legal inequality of women, the suppression of political dissent, the curtailment of free expression, the persecution of ethnic minorities and religious dissenters – in short, protecting their citizens from egregious human rights violations. Sharia_sentence_403

Instead, they are worrying about protecting Islam." Sharia_sentence_404

H. Sharia_sentence_405 Patrick Glenn states that Sharia is structured around the concept of mutual obligations of a collective, and it considers individual human rights as potentially disruptive and unnecessary to its revealed code of mutual obligations. Sharia_sentence_406

In giving priority to this religious collective rather than individual liberty, the Islamic law justifies the formal inequality of individuals (women, non-Islamic people). Sharia_sentence_407

Bassam Tibi states that Sharia framework and human rights are incompatible. Sharia_sentence_408

Abdel al-Hakeem Carney, in contrast, states that Sharia is misunderstood from a failure to distinguish Sharia from siyasah (politics). Sharia_sentence_409

Blasphemy Sharia_section_42

Main article: Islam and blasphemy Sharia_sentence_410

In classical fiqh, blasphemy refers to any form of cursing, questioning or annoying God, Muhammad or anything considered sacred in Islam, including denying one of the Islamic prophets or scriptures, insulting an angel or refusing to accept a religious commandment. Sharia_sentence_411

Jurists of different schools prescribed different punishment for blasphemy against Islam, by Muslims and non-Muslims, ranging from imprisonment or fines to the death penalty. Sharia_sentence_412

In some cases, sharia allows non-Muslims to escape death by converting and becoming a devout follower of Islam. Sharia_sentence_413

In the modern Muslim world, the laws pertaining to blasphemy vary by country, and some countries prescribe punishments consisting of fines, imprisonment, flogging, hanging, or beheading. Sharia_sentence_414

Blasphemy laws were rarely enforced in pre-modern Islamic societies, but in the modern era some states and radical groups have used charges of blasphemy in an effort to burnish their religious credentials and gain popular support at the expense of liberal Muslim intellectuals and religious minorities. Sharia_sentence_415

Blasphemy, as interpreted under Sharia, is controversial. Sharia_sentence_416

Representatives of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have petitioned the United Nations to condemn "defamation of religions" because "Unrestricted and disrespectful freedom of opinion creates hatred and is contrary to the spirit of peaceful dialogue". Sharia_sentence_417

The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam subjects free speech to unspecified Sharia restrictions: Article 22(a) of the Declaration states that "Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shariah." Sharia_sentence_418

Others, in contrast, consider blasphemy laws to violate freedom of speech, stating that freedom of expression is essential to empowering both Muslims and non-Muslims, and point to the abuse of blasphemy laws in prosecuting members of religious minorities, political opponents, and settling personal scores. Sharia_sentence_419

In Pakistan, blasphemy laws have been used to convict more than a thousand people, about half of them Ahmadis and Christians. Sharia_sentence_420

While none have been legally executed, two Pakistani politicians, Shahbaz Bhatti and Salmaan Taseer, have been assassinated over their criticism of the blasphemy laws. Sharia_sentence_421

Although the laws were inherited from British colonial legislation and then expanded and "Islamized" in the 1980s, many Pakistanis believe that they are taken directly from the Quran. Sharia_sentence_422

Apostasy Sharia_section_43

Main article: Apostasy in Islam Sharia_sentence_423

According to the classical doctrine, apostasy from Islam is a crime as well as a sin, punishable with the death penalty, typically after a waiting period to allow the apostate time to repent and to return to Islam. Sharia_sentence_424

Wael Hallaq writes that "[in] a culture whose lynchpin is religion, religious principles and religious morality, apostasy is in some way equivalent to high treason in the modern nation-state". Sharia_sentence_425

Early Islamic jurists set the standard for apostasy from Islam so high that practically no apostasy verdict could be passed before the 11th century, but later jurists lowered the bar for applying the death penalty, allowing judges to interpret the apostasy law in different ways, which they did sometimes leniently and sometimes strictly. Sharia_sentence_426

In the late 19th century, the use of criminal penalties for apostasy fell into disuse, although civil penalties were still applied. Sharia_sentence_427

According to Abdul Rashied Omar, the majority of modern Islamic jurists continue to regard apostasy as a crime deserving the death penalty. Sharia_sentence_428

This view is dominant in conservative societies like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Sharia_sentence_429

A number of liberal and progressive Islamic scholars have argued that apostasy should not be viewed as a crime. Sharia_sentence_430

Others argue that the death penalty is an inappropriate punishment, inconsistent with the Qur'anic verses such as "no compulsion in religion"; and/or that it was a man-made rule enacted in the early Islamic community to prevent and punish the equivalent of desertion or treason, and should be enforced only if apostasy becomes a mechanism of public disobedience and disorder (fitna). Sharia_sentence_431

According to Khaled Abou El Fadl, moderate Muslims do not believe that apostasy requires punishment. Sharia_sentence_432

Critics argue that the death penalty or other punishment for apostasy in Islam is a violation of universal human rights, and an issue of freedom of faith and conscience. Sharia_sentence_433

Twenty-three Muslim-majority countries, as of 2013, penalized apostasy from Islam through their criminal laws. Sharia_sentence_434

As of 2014, apostasy from Islam was a capital offense in Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Sharia_sentence_435

In other countries, Sharia courts could use family laws to void the Muslim apostate's marriage and to deny child-custody rights as well as inheritance rights. Sharia_sentence_436

In the years 1985–2006, four individuals were legally executed for apostasy from Islam: "one in Sudan in 1985; two in Iran, in 1989 and 1998; and one in Saudi Arabia in 1992." Sharia_sentence_437

While modern states have rarely prosecuted apostasy, the issue has a "deep cultural resonance" in some Muslim societies and Islamists have tended to exploit it for political gain. Sharia_sentence_438

In a 2008-2012 Pew Research Center poll, public support for capital punishment for apostasy among Muslims ranged from 78% in Afghanistan to less than 1% in Kazakhstan, reaching over 50% in 6 of the 20 countries surveyed. Sharia_sentence_439

LGBT rights Sharia_section_44

Main article: LGBT in Islam Sharia_sentence_440

Homosexual intercourse is illegal in classical Sharia, with different penalties, including capital punishment, stipulated depending of the situation and legal school. Sharia_sentence_441

In pre-modern Islam, the penalties prescribed for homosexual acts were "to a large extent theoretical", owing in part to stringent procedural requirements for their harsher (hudud) forms and in part to prevailing social tolerance toward same-sex relationships. Sharia_sentence_442

Historical instances of prosecution for homosexual acts are rare, and those which followed Sharia rules are even rarer. Sharia_sentence_443

Public attitudes toward homosexuality in the Muslim world turned more negative starting from the 19th century under the influence of sexual notions prevalent in Europe at that time. Sharia_sentence_444

A number of Muslim-majority countries have retained criminal penalties for homosexual acts enacted under colonial rule. Sharia_sentence_445

In recent decades, prejudice against LGBT individuals in the Muslim world has been exacerbated by increasingly conservative attitudes and the rise of Islamist movements, resulting in Sharia-based penalties enacted in several countries. Sharia_sentence_446

The death penalty for homosexual acts is currently a legal punishment in Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, some northern states in Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, parts of Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, all of which have Sharia-based criminal laws. Sharia_sentence_447

It is unclear whether the laws of Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates provide for the death penalty for gay sex, as they have never been carried out. Sharia_sentence_448

Criminalization of consensual homosexual acts and especially making them liable to capital punishment has been condemned by international rights groups. Sharia_sentence_449

According to polls, the level of social acceptance for homosexuality ranges from 52% among Muslims in the U.S. to less than 10% in a number of Muslim-majority nations. Sharia_sentence_450

Terrorism Sharia_section_45

Further information: Islamic terrorism, Islamic extremism, Jihad, Jihadism, and Salafi jihadism Sharia_sentence_451

Some extremists have used their interpretation of Islamic scriptures and Sharia, in particular the doctrine of jihad, to justify acts of war and terror against Muslim as well as non-Muslim individuals and governments. Sharia_sentence_452

The expert on terrorism Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote that the "Sharia's finance (Islamic banking) is a new weapon in the arsenal of what might be termed fifth-generation warfare (5GW)". Sharia_sentence_453

However, sharia-complaint financing actually requires a person to stay away from weapons manufacturing. Sharia_sentence_454

In classical fiqh, the term jihad refers to armed struggle against unbelievers. Sharia_sentence_455

Classical jurists developed an elaborate set of rules pertaining to jihad, including prohibitions on harming those who are not engaged in combat. Sharia_sentence_456

According to Bernard Lewis, "[a]t no time did the classical jurists offer any approval or legitimacy to what we nowadays call terrorism" and the terrorist practice of suicide bombing "has no justification in terms of Islamic theology, law or tradition". Sharia_sentence_457

In the modern era the notion of jihad has lost its jurisprudential relevance and instead gave rise to an ideological and political discourse. Sharia_sentence_458

While modernist Islamic scholars have emphasized defensive and non-military aspects of jihad, some radical Islamists have advanced aggressive interpretations that go beyond the classical theory. Sharia_sentence_459

For al-Qaeda ideologues, in jihad all means are legitimate, including targeting Muslim non-combatants and the mass killing of non-Muslim civilians. Sharia_sentence_460

According to these interpretations, Islam does not discriminate between military and civilian targets, but rather between Muslims and nonbelievers, whose blood can be legitimately spilled. Sharia_sentence_461

Some modern ulema, such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Sulaiman Al-Alwan, have supported suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, arguing that they are army reservists and hence should be considered as soldiers, while Hamid bin Abdallah al-Ali declared that suicide attacks in Chechnya were justified as a "sacrifice". Sharia_sentence_462

Many prominent Islamic scholars, including al-Qaradawi himself, have issued condemnations of terrorism in general terms. Sharia_sentence_463

For example, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has stated that "terrorizing innocent people [...] constitute[s] a form of injustice that cannot be tolerated by Islam", while Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy, Grand Imam of al-Azhar and former Grand Mufti of Egypt has stated that "attacking innocent people is not courageous; it is stupid and will be punished on the Day of Judgment". Sharia_sentence_464

Women Sharia_section_46

Main articles: Women in Islam and Islam and domestic violence Sharia_sentence_465

Domestic violence Sharia_section_47

One of the verses of the Quran relating to permissibility of domestic violence is Surah 4:34, which has been subject to varied interpretations. Sharia_sentence_466

According to some interpretations, Sharia condones certain forms of domestic violence against women, when a husband suspects nushuz (disobedience, disloyalty, rebellion, ill conduct) in his wife only after admonishing and staying away from the bed does not work. Sharia_sentence_467

These interpretations have been criticized as inconsistent with women's rights in domestic abuse cases. Sharia_sentence_468

Musawah, CEDAW, KAFA and other organizations have proposed ways to modify Sharia-inspired laws to improve women's rights in Muslim-majority nations, including women's rights in domestic abuse cases. Sharia_sentence_469

Others believe that wife-beating is not consistent with a more modernist perspective of the Quran. Sharia_sentence_470

Many Imams and scholars who learned Shariah in traditional Islamic seminaries object to he misuse of this verse to justify domestic violence. Sharia_sentence_471

Muslims for White Ribbon Campaign was launched in 2010 with Imams and Muslim leaders committing to join with others to work to end violence against women. Sharia_sentence_472

Khutbah campaigns were held in many parts of the world to speak out against domestic violence and encourage Muslim congregants to eradicate domestic abuse. Sharia_sentence_473

In those Friday sermons and lectures, Muslim congregants are told to oppose and condemn domestic violence, and that the Qur'an should never be misused to justify this evil practice. Sharia_sentence_474

Imams often emphasize the general practice of the Prophet Muhammad to never hit a woman. Sharia_sentence_475

Personal status laws and child marriage Sharia_section_48

Shari'a is the basis for personal status laws in most Islamic-majority nations. Sharia_sentence_476

These personal status laws determine rights of women in matters of marriage, divorce and child custody. Sharia_sentence_477

A 2011 UNICEF report concludes that Sharia law provisions are discriminatory against women from a human rights perspective. Sharia_sentence_478

In many countries, in legal proceedings relating to Sharia-based personal status law, a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's before a court. Sharia_sentence_479

The 1917 codification of Islamic family law in the Ottoman empire distinguished between the age of competence for marriage, which was set at 18 for boys and 17 for girls, and the minimum age for marriage, which followed the traditional Hanafi limits of 12 for boys and 9 for girls. Sharia_sentence_480

Marriage below the age of competence was permissible only if proof of sexual maturity was accepted in court, while marriage under the minimum age was forbidden. Sharia_sentence_481

During the 20th century, most countries in the Middle East followed the Ottoman precedent in defining the age of competence, while raising the minimum age to 15 or 16 for boys and 13-16 for girls. Sharia_sentence_482

Marriage below the age of competence is subject to approval by a judge and the legal guardian of the adolescent. Sharia_sentence_483

Egypt diverged from this pattern by setting the age limits of 18 for boys and 16 for girls, without a distinction between competence for marriage and minimum age. Sharia_sentence_484

Many senior clerics in Saudi Arabia have opposed setting a minimum age for marriage, arguing that a woman reaches adulthood at puberty. Sharia_sentence_485

Rape is considered a crime in all countries of the North Africa and Middle East region, but as of 2011, Sharia-based or secular laws in some countries, including Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia, allowed a rapist to escape punishment by marrying his victim, while in other countries, including Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, rape victims who press charges risk being prosecuted for extramarital sex (zina). Sharia_sentence_486

Women's property rights Sharia_section_49

Islamic law granted Muslim women certain legal rights, such as property rights which women in the West did not possess until "comparatively recent times". Sharia_sentence_487

Starting with the 20th century, Western legal systems evolved to expand women's rights, but women's rights in the Muslim world have to varying degree remained tied to the Quran, hadiths and their traditional interpretations by Islamic jurists. Sharia_sentence_488

Sharia grants women the right to inherit property from other family members, and these rights are detailed in the Quran. Sharia_sentence_489

A woman's inheritance is unequal and less than a man's, and dependent on many factors. Sharia_sentence_490

For instance, a daughter's inheritance is usually half that of her brother's. Sharia_sentence_491

Slavery Sharia_section_50

Sharia recognizes the basic inequality between master and women slave, between free women and slave women, between Believers and non-Believers, as well as their unequal rights. Sharia_sentence_492

Sharia authorized the institution of slavery, using the words abd (slave) and the phrase ma malakat aymanukum ("that which your right hand owns") to refer to women slaves, seized as captives of war. Sharia_sentence_493

Under Islamic law, Muslim men could have sexual relations with female captives and slaves. Sharia_sentence_494

Slave women under sharia did not have a right to own property or to move freely. Sharia_sentence_495

Sharia, in Islam's history, provided a religious foundation for enslaving non-Muslim women (and men), but allowed for the manumission of slaves. Sharia_sentence_496

However, manumission required that the non-Muslim slave first convert to Islam. Sharia_sentence_497

A slave woman who bore a child to her Muslim master (umm al-walad) could not be sold, becoming legally free upon her master's death, and the child was considered free and a legitimate heir of the father. Sharia_sentence_498

Comparison with other legal systems Sharia_section_51

Jewish law Sharia_section_52

See also: Seven Laws of Noah Sharia_sentence_499

Islamic legal tradition has a number of parallels with Judaism. Sharia_sentence_500

In both religions, revealed law holds a central place, in contrast to Christianity which does not possess a body of revealed law, and where theology rather than law is considered to be the principal field of religious study. Sharia_sentence_501

Both Islamic and Jewish law (Halakha) are derived from formal textual revelations (Quran and Pentateuch) as well as less formal, orally transmitted prophetic traditions (hadith and mishna). Sharia_sentence_502

According to some scholars, the words sharia and halakha both mean literally "the path to follow". Sharia_sentence_503

The fiqh literature parallels rabbinical law developed in the Talmud, with fatwas being analogous to rabbinic responsa. Sharia_sentence_504

However, the emphasis on qiyas in classical Sunni legal theory is both more explicitly permissive than Talmudic law with respect to authorizing individual reason as a source of law, and more implicitly restrictive, in excluding other, unauthorized forms of reasoning. Sharia_sentence_505

Western legal systems Sharia_section_53

Early Islamic law developed a number of legal concepts that anticipated similar such concepts that later appeared in English common law. Sharia_sentence_506

Similarities exist between the royal English contract protected by the action of debt and the Islamic Aqd, between the English assize of novel disseisin and the Islamic Istihqaq, and between the English jury and the Islamic Lafif in classical Maliki jurisprudence. Sharia_sentence_507

The law schools known as Inns of Court also parallel Madrasahs. Sharia_sentence_508

The methodology of legal precedent and reasoning by analogy (Qiyas) are also similar in both the Islamic and common law systems, as are the English trust and agency institutions to the Islamic Waqf and Hawala institutions, respectively. Sharia_sentence_509

Elements of Islamic law also have other parallels in Western legal systems. Sharia_sentence_510

For example, the influence of Islam on the development of an international law of the sea can be discerned alongside that of the Roman influence. Sharia_sentence_511

George Makdisi has argued that the madrasa system of attestation paralleled the legal scholastic system in the West, which gave rise to the modern university system. Sharia_sentence_512

The triple status of faqih ("master of law"), mufti ("professor of legal opinions") and mudarris ("teacher"), conferred by the classical Islamic legal degree, had its equivalents in the medieval Latin terms magister, professor and doctor, respectively, although they all came to be used synonymously in both East and West. Sharia_sentence_513

Makdisi suggested that the medieval European doctorate, licentia docendi was modeled on the Islamic degree ijazat al-tadris wa-l-ifta’, of which it is a word-for-word translation, with the term ifta’ (issuing of fatwas) omitted. Sharia_sentence_514

He also argued that these systems shared fundamental freedoms: the freedom of a professor to profess his personal opinion and the freedom of a student to pass judgement on what he is learning. Sharia_sentence_515

There are differences between Islamic and Western legal systems. Sharia_sentence_516

For example, Sharia classically recognizes only natural persons, and never developed the concept of a legal person, or corporation, i.e., a legal entity that limits the liabilities of its managers, shareholders, and employees; exists beyond the lifetimes of its founders; and that can own assets, sign contracts, and appear in court through representatives. Sharia_sentence_517

Interest prohibitions imposed secondary costs by discouraging record keeping and delaying the introduction of modern accounting. Sharia_sentence_518

Such factors, according to Timur Kuran, have played a significant role in retarding economic development in the Middle East. Sharia_sentence_519

See also Sharia_section_54


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