How the Sharia Laws Emerged and What They Are Based Upon
The Sharia laws emerged together with the emergence of Islam. They are nothing but a beacon for men pointing towards the path to righteous life, the all-out grace bestowed on man by Allah. This is the translation of the Arabic word ‘sharia’ – the path.
Faith as a characteristic of the soul is inseparable from the man’s deeds, therefore the laws prescribed by the Lord serve both to ensure the correct worshipping of the One God and the correct performance of day-to-day chores in the righteous way. When the Prophet was alive, these rules proceeded from him as God’s Messenger and the Source of His Revelations. After his death, they remained to be found in the Quran and Sunnah. Sharia is a code of rules which facilitate the triumph of good over evil and the triumph of Allah’s truth over Satan’s lies.
God makes no distinction between the laws of faith and the laws of jurisprudence. For Him they make up one whole. They are all recorded in the Quran and supplemented in the Sunnah. Sharia thus defends the basic values and rights of man; faith, life, family, intellect, property. Sharia defends each man’s right to turn to his Lord and delineates the rules of this recourse to make it easy for man. Sharia is a path to God. The magnificence of our religion is manifested in its tying together the faith and the deeds, the prayer and the day-to-day pursuits, the worshipping of Allah and the compliance with communal regulations. And all of these can be found in the Holy Quran from which Sharia takes its laws and rules. “We have revealed the Quran as an Arabic legislation.” (13:37)
Another important source for the Sharia laws was the collective opinion of men of knowledge and authority, the ijma. Allah Himself ordered men to consult each other and decide upon matters in this way. “Consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely upon Him.” (3:159) The first ijma was conducted back in the 7th century. Seven ulama with authority gathered to consult each other on a number of matters which arose after the death of the Prophet. This way new norms of Sharia would appear, for example, the ruling in respect of the invalidity of a sale of non-manufactured goods or the right of the grandmother to claim one sixth of the inheritance. The ijma code was formed in the first centuries after the death of the Prophet and is complete. Yet some entertain the possibility of reviving the ijma judgement as applied to modern issues. Such a revival may be risky for the authority of those making the judgement must match that of the Prophet and this can be a challenging task.
In modern times the additional sources of Sharia are drawn from ijtihad (the reasoning of the jurists), urf (the accepted order of things) and adat (accepted customs that do not contradict Islam). In fact, adat is well used in Sharia, for instance, the niqah for women and the kefiyyeh for men are nothing but adat worn by Arabs long before Islam.
It thus becomes clear that Sharia makes the best use of all the commandments of Allah to lead men to righteous life and Allah’s Grace in this life and in the hereafter.