History of Shari’ah Development

Source: Winter 2013 volume of Muslim Sunrise; this volume has several articles on the theme of Shari’ah: Shari’ah

By Arif Humayun

Shariah can broadly be divided into two parts – Personal and Legislative. Personal shari’ah refers to rules of faith practice as mandated in the Qur’an. It includes the individual’s behavior, morality, manners, worship, character, etc. The Qur’an furnishes an essential framework of beliefs, duties, obligations, exhortations and sanctions along with broad principles and leaves considerable room for developing details by the people to safeguard against restrictive rigidity. Legislative shari’ah by comparison, is a human effort to develop a Qur’an compliant system of legislation; this was developed in the eighth and ninth century by the Abbasid Caliphate.

A full understanding of legislative shari’ah and its historical evolution is critical because radical Muslim groups demand its implementation to usher in the Islamic system of governance. It is important to highlight that the radicals’ultimate objective is the establishment of a [mythical] Islamic State to be ruled by a Caliph under shari’ah.

Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 CE left a sudden leadership vacuum among the Muslims. They elected (or selected) a leader (caliph) from the Prophet’s closest companion for leadership and guidance. Four such caliphs, elected on the basis of piety, were the Prophet’s closest companions. They are referred to as the righteously guided caliphs and this Caliphate lasted about 30 years. It was terminated due to considerable political upheaval after which the Caliphate was assumed by the victor and became hereditary.

Read further on page 14: Shariah

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Categories: Islam, Uncategorized

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