What exactly is Sharia law

What is Sharia?

The Sharia is not a codified body of law. There is no book on which “Sharia” is written and in which law is laid down in individual paragraphs. The Sharia (literally, for example, “paved way” or “way to the watering place / source”) is rather a conglomerate of legal provisions derived from the Islamic tradition of the Koran and Sunna (Arabic for custom). So the law is based on the interpretation of a revelation considered divine. After the Koran, the Sunna is the second source of Islamic law. It consists of tens of thousands of messages (hadiths) which, according to Islamic legal scholars, go back directly to Mohammed in an uninterrupted chain of tradition. However, they were only collected and canonized from the middle of the 9th century. Since then, various collections have been available, which differ both in their arrangement and in the selection of the hadiths that are considered "secured". The two most famous Sunni collections are those of Ibrahim al-Bukharis (d. 870) and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj (d. 872). There are also four other significant Sunni and four Shiite collections of hadiths. Without wanting to go into more detail about the authenticity of the hadiths (cf. Weidner 2008: 142; Selim 2006: 111-115, 127; Nagel 1994: 81-86), it should be noted that even among believers there is disagreement about many traditions, whether these actually go back to the prophet or were added later.

In the first centuries of Islamic theology, several schools of law emerged, mostly geographically clearly separated from one another, which created extensive legal literature in different interpretations of the tradition. As a result of this division, each law school has its own Sharia, with extensive overlaps, but also with sometimes serious differences. These differences are evident first of all in the way in which the law was found. The Malikites and Hanafis, for example, do not use the otherwise usual strict analogy, but place value on the current understanding of justice and the use of reason, while the Hanbalites have banned all human considerations or reason from the jurisprudence and categorically according to the wording of the Trying to judge tradition. Due to the different ways in which the law is found, the individual schools arrive at quite different results. This applies to the rite, for example. The schools of law differ, among other things, in the specification of the distances to be observed between the feet when standing prayer, or the type of prayer. There is also disagreement about whether women are allowed to go on the pilgrimage without the company of a mahram (a male relative of the woman who is not to be married). But there are also varying interpretations in the extended “criminal law”, for example when the number of lashes for alcohol consumption is set at different levels. Hanafis take the view that a female apostate, a woman who has fallen away from Islam, should not be killed, but imprisoned and whipped daily until she confesses to Islam again, while the other three major Sunni schools of law plead for her death.

The basic features of the Sharia reflect the legal opinion of the classical legal scholars of the 8th and 9th centuries. It follows the political and social interests of that time. The Pakistani-British reformer Ziauddin Sardar sees this as the reason why Muslim societies in which the Sharia is applied without considering the historical context of its formulation, such as in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan or the Taliban's Afghanistan, unite get a medieval look (quoted in Manji 2003: 64).

Right in the broadest sense of the word

As already indicated, the Sharia not only includes public law, private law and criminal law, i.e. what is generally understood as the legal system in democratic states, but is also considered a God-given binding guide that should guide people in all matters. The Sharia thus embodies the widest possible interpretation of law. The religious rules of life, as found in the Koran and the Sunna, are understood not only as ethics, but as law. The Sharia encompasses all aspects of religious, moral, social and legal norms and claims to regulate the entire life of believers, in all areas, public and private, right up to the most everyday activities (see Rohe 2009: 9). .

The “five pillars” of Islam - creed, ritual prayers, fasting, alms tax and pilgrimage - are also part of Sharia law, as is the conclusion of a marriage contract. The Sharia prescribes the daily five (in Shiitism three) times of prayer, the direction of prayer to Mecca, the ritual ablutions before prayer, the sequence, the words and the language of the prayer. It regulates the way people interact with one another, also in the private sphere through to sexuality. The segregation of the sexes, just like the law of inheritance, the prohibition of interest or the requirement to veil women, can invoke the respective Sharia. Food bans, cleaning requirements and dress codes are regulated in the same way as criminal offenses and all types of contracts. The prohibition for women to marry people of different faiths is, like all other different rights for women and men, regulated in the Sharia, as are the different rights for believers and "unbelievers".

The absolute superiority of Islam and the Islamic community (umma) over all other religions is also enshrined in the Sharia and was adopted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights of 1990, which says the umma it is up to us to lead all “confused humanity” in accordance with Sharia law. The fundamental rights and freedoms of man are binding commandments of God. All rights in this human rights declaration are subject to Sharia reservation.

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used literature:

Manji, Irsahad (2003): The Awakening. Plea for an enlightened Islam. Frankfurt a. M.
Nagel, Tilman (1994): History of Islamic Theology. From Mohammed to the present. Munich.
Selim, Nahed (2006): Take the Koran from men! For a feminine interpretation of Islam. Munich / Zurich.
Rohe, Mathias (2009): Islamic Law. History and present. Munich.
Weidner, Stefan (2008): Manual for the clash of cultures. Why Islam is a challenge. Frankfurt a.M./Leipzig.