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What is Sharia Law?

Sharia Law is hard to define because it’s not merely a specific body of laws, nor is it merely a list of things that are prohibited or required of a society.  It’s more of a methodology.   It’s basically a way of arriving at decisions on how to live life by studying religious texts to determine divine will. Sharia law is also not just a legal system…it’s also a moral system, a structure for living life as a devout Muslim.

What is Sharia Law?  For Muslims who are devout, living life according to the divine will is the basis for existence.  Sharia law is the anchor for society for devout Muslims and it’s based on several factors in a complex web of history, religious texts, interpretation, modern influence, scholars, community, custom, public interest, regionalism and the conduct of the Prophet Mohamed.

Sharia law is flexible and like many systems based on analyzing ancient texts, subject to various interpretations. Jurists are the people who study Sharia law and come up with the specifics on how to conduct life in modern society.

Jurists look at the following to determine divine will for Sharia law:

  1. the Quran (the Muslim holy scripture)
  2. the Sunna (the sayings and behavior of the Prophet Mohammed)
  3. consensus of the jurists, scholars & community
  4. reasoning by analogy to the above sources
  5. preferences of the jurists, public interest, and custom