Living Islam - Islamic Tradition logo for mobile phone

The Sacred Law - Shari’ah

The Shari’ah as Mercy to Mankind

The Shari’ah is compassion and justice, it is the basis for behaviour and it seeks the welfare of human beings. If its application leads to the opposite, then our understanding and interpretation needs to be re-evaluated in the light of the Texts.

This is so because the interpretation of the Law is a human endeavor (ijtihād ) for those scholars who have the intellectual requisites for it.

Stacks Image 663

Shari’ah refers to wide-ranging moral and broad ethical principles drawn from the Quran and the practices and sayings (hadith) of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Allah says in the Holy Quran:


{We have established for you a code of conduct and a religion. Follow it, and follow not the vain desires of those who know not.}

Shari’ah: It is a clear path (a code of conduct and a religion) by which Allah leads people to the truth, warning man (and woman) not to erect their desire as a god (45-23), and also by not going along with the caprices (hāwa) of the nihilists, not even of the people of the Book. Following them or the disbelievers in their desires and expectations would empty the heart of the faithful and it would seal it up and cover his sight (45-23).

Such a great calamity when the empty souls will be blown into the abyss of the raging fire (hāwiyya) like scattered moths or other debris. (Sura 101)!

What Sharia means: 5 questions answered


The word shari’ah (الشَرِعَة ) means "way" and defines the guidance that came with the Qur'an and the life pattern of the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʻaleihi wa sallam). To follow the shari'ah should lead to al-haqīqah (the essential reality). This means following this exact guidance would lead to an unveiling (al-kashf ) of the Real (The Supreme Reality), with Allah's permission (bi-idhniLLāh ).

Consequently, anyone who neglects or raises objections to the shari’ah can never reach this unveiling. This is because there is no act or withholding of an act except the shari'ah has a special wisdom about it and because every act has certain consequences for the spiritual journey towards God (or the Absolute Reality), as explained by Muhyiddīn Ibn Arabī (Futūhāt Ch. 262). The signification of the shari’ah for a Muslim is that he/she observes the attitude of a true servant (’abd ) and that he/ she follows in the footsteps of the Prophet ﷺ.

Qur'an: {Say: If you love God, follow me, and God will love you and forgive your sins, for God is all-forgiving, all-merciful.} (Sura 3, verse 31)

Adhering to the shari’ah without fanaticism is thus the greatest charisma according to Muhyiddīn Ibn Arabī.

Imam Ahmed Vâlsan (rh)

On the Basis of the Sacred Law

"As for the noble qualities of the Sacred Law (Shari’ah), its basis is the purification of the soul through the practice of learning, and exercising temperance and patience and justice. And its end is to be distinguished by wisdom, generosity, compassion, and excellence..."

"For by learning one achieves wisdom, and by exercising temperance he achieves generosity, and by exercising patience he arrives at courage and compassion, and by practicing justice he rectifies his actions."

Ar-Raghib al-Isfahani

أما مكارم الشريعة فمبدؤها طهارة النفس باستعمال التعلم، واستعمال العفة والصبر والعدالة، ونهايتها التخصص بالحكمة والجود والحلم والإحسان. فبالتعلم يتوصل إلى الحكمة، وباستعمال العفة يتوصل إلى الجود، وباستعمال الصبر تدرك الشجاعة والحلم، وباستعمال العدالة تصحح الأفعال

الراغب الأصفهانى


actions, compassion, generosity, justice, learning, patience, practice, purification, soul, temperance, wisdom
Stacks Image 661

Islamic Law Today

Today Islamic law is limited in many Muslim countries to family and religious practice. Also in early times there was a parallel system of justice administered by the state, the justice carried out by the political authorities as a necessary complement to the shari’ah, when the ruler could administer punishment and hand down rulings, which superceded those of the courts.

Shari’ah law cannot incriminate someone upon circumstantial evidence, there must be witnesses, or the confession of the accused. This makes the prosecution of criminal criminal cases difficult, if not impossible, in practice.

Stacks Image 665

Shorturl of this page:


  • from June 1998