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Sharia (shari'a), Islamic sharia, Islamic law (Arabic: شريعة‎‎ (IPA: [ʃaˈriːʕa])) is the religious law governing the members of the Islamic faith. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. The term sharia comes from the Arabic term sharīʿah, which means a body of moral and religious law derived from religious prophecy, as opposed to human legislation.

Sharia deals with many topics, including crime, politics, marriage contracts, trade regulations, religious prescriptions, and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, everyday etiquette and fasting. Adherence to sharia has served as one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Muslim faith historically. In its strictest definition, sharia is considered in Islam as the infallible law of God.

There are two primary sources of sharia: the Quran and the Hadiths (opinions and life example of Muhammad). For topics and issues not directly addressed in these primary sources, sharia is derived. The derivation differs between the various sects of Islam (Sunni and Shia are the majority), and various jurisprudence schools such as Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali and Jafari. The sharia in these schools is derived hierarchically using one or more of the following guidelines: Ijma (usually the consensus of Muhammad's companions), Qiyas (analogy derived from the primary sources), Istihsan (ruling that serves the interest of Islam in the discretion of Islamic jurists) and Urf (customs).

Other classifications
  • Actions in the fard category are those mandatory on all Muslims. They include the five daily prayers, fasting, articles of faith, obligatory giving of zakat (charity, tax) to zakat collectors, and the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
  • The mustahabb category includes proper behaviour in matters such as marriage, funeral rites and family life. As such, it covers many of the same areas as civil law in the West. Sharia courts attempt to reconcile parties to disputes in this area using the recommended behaviour as their guide. A person whose behaviour is not mustahabb can be ruled against by the judge.
  • Mubah category of behaviour is neither discouraged nor recommended, neither forbidden nor required; it is permissible.
  • Makruh behaviour, while it is not sinful of itself, is considered undesirable among Muslims. It may also make a Muslim liable to criminal penalties under certain circumstances.
  • Haraam behaviour is explicitly forbidden. It is both sinful and criminal. It includes all actions expressly forbidden in the Quran. Certain Muslim dietary and clothing restrictions also fall into this category.
  • If a person converts to Islam, or is born and raised as a Muslim, then he or she will have full rights of citizenship in an Islamic state.
  • Leaving Islam is a sin and a religious crime. Once any man or woman is officially classified as Muslim, because of birth or religious conversion, he or she will be subject to the death penalty if he or she becomes an apostate, that is, abandons his or her faith in Islam in order to become an atheist, agnostic or to convert to another religion. Before executing the death penalty, sharia demands that the individual be offered one chance to return to Islam.
  • If a person has never been a Muslim, and is not a kafir (infidel, unbeliever), he or she can live in an Islamic state by accepting to be a dhimmi, or under a special permission called aman. As a dhimmi or under aman, he or she will suffer certain limitations of rights as a subject of an Islamic state, and will not enjoy complete legal equality with Muslims.
  • If a person has never been a Muslim, and is a kafir (infidel, unbeliever), sharia demands that he or she should be offered the choice to convert to Islam and become a Muslim; if he or she rejects the offer, he or she may become a dhimmi. Failure to pay the tax may lead the non-muslim to either be enslaved, killed or ransomed if captured.
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  • Jackson, Sherman A. (2005). Islam and the Blackamerican – Looking Toward the Third Resurrection. New York City; Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
  • Kafadar, Cemal (1996). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. University of California Press. .
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  • Lewis, Bernard (1984). The Jews of Islam. Princeton University Press. ISBN . 
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  • Makdisi, John (2005). Islamic Property Law: Cases and Materials for Comparative Analysis with the Common Law. Carolina Academic Press. ISBN . 
  • Mumisa, Michael (2002). Islamic Law: Theory & Interpretation. Amana Publications. .
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  • Otto, Jan Michiel (2008). Sharia and National Law in Muslim Countries: Tensions and Opportunities for Dutch and EU Foreign Policy (PDF). Amsterdam University Press. ISBN . 
  • Otto, Jan Michiel, ed. (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. Leiden University Press. ISBN . 
  • Safi, Omid (2003). Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism. Oneworld Publications. .
  • Shahin, Omar (2007). The Muslim Family in Western Society: A Study in Islamic Law. Cloverdale Corporation. .
  • Ramadan, Hisham M., ed. (2006). Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary. Rowman Altamira. ISBN . 
  • Standke, Corinna (2008). Sharia – The Islamic Law, GRIN Verlag
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  • Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (2000). The Holy Qur'an (Translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali). Ware, Hertfordshire, England: Wordsworth Editions. . A popular translation of the Quran.
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  • Khan, Muhammad Muhsin (1996). The English Translation of Ṣaḥīḥ Al Bukhārī with the Arabic Text. Alexandria, Va.: Al-Saadawi Publications. . OCLC 35673415. The complete translation (in nine volumes) of a popular Sunni collection of hadith.
  • Mahmassani, Maher (2014). Islam in Retrospect: Recovering the Message. Olive Branch Pr. ISBN . 
  • Mahmassani, Sobhi (1961). The Philosophy of Jurisprudence in Islam, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh. Leiden: Brill.
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  • Nuh Ha Mim Keller (ed., trans.), Reliance of the Traveller: Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, Amana Publications, revised edition 1997,
  • Schacht, Joseph (1964). An Introduction to Islamic Law. Oxford: Clarendon
  • Schacht, Joseph (1950). The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. Oxford: Clarendon


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