What Is Shari’ah?

The Arabic word “Shari’ah” literally means “a path, a way or a fresh water hole that all livings

The Arabic word “Shari’ah” literally means “a path, a way or a fresh water hole that all livings can drink from”.

In Islamic-terminology, it refers to the legal system of Islam that regulates the relationship between man and his God (Allah in Arabic language), himself, his fellow man, all creations and the world around him.  

Let’s Make It Simple

One would argue that nations of the world have had Man-made Laws used throughout history to bring justice and equality to mankind, so; why would they need any God-made Laws?   

Looking at history of the world, the only time in any nation’s history showing peace, prosperity and justice is when people were abided by divine laws.

In a more contemporary example, Shari’ah-compliant finance is an area of modern finance that is growing among many banks and investment houses all over the globe.

Western financial services firms are beginning to offer Shari’ah-compliant investment vehicles that neither pay interest, nor benefit (from gambling casinos, alcohol and tobacco companies and other non Shari’ah-compliant companies).

Furthermore, in late 2007, a Shari’ah index was launched on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. This index includes companies that comply with Shari’ah law.

Superiority of God-made Laws over Man-made Laws is noticeable.

What Is The Need For “Shari’ah”?

Islamic scholars see Shari’ah as the practical aspect of Islam providing a complete and detailed way of life, while the Belief system is the spiritual aspect of Islam is called “Aqidah”.

To have a proper society , it depends for its existence on laws and regulations. God has sent a series of Messengers and Prophets with Divine laws for man’s guidance from the very first day of his creation (Adam) to the last Messenger – Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him -and all of his Prophets).   He brought the final and the perfect revelation, Islam, as a guide for mankind till the end of time.

Shari’ah In Practice

The “Instructions manual” that God sent for humanity is known as the Qur’an. The human being is not just any ordinary machine; rather he is more complicated than the most advanced piece of equipment humans can ever produce. So, God did not only send the Qur’an, He also sent an instructor known as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Prophet of Islam brought the Qur’an to us and also provided practical examples in his own teachings and life called the Sunnah which is practical Shari’ah.

It’s For Us

The aim of it all, the believing (belief system) and the practicing (following Shari’ah) is to earn Allah’s pleasure, secure human welfare in this life and attain human salvation in the life to come.

Shari’ah is applicable and is actually practiced now, being an evident proof of “Superiority of God-made Laws over Man-made Laws”


1- http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/shariah

2- An article published by Dr. Sherman A. Jackson

King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture, Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, USC

What Is Shari’ah?

Written by: Abeer AlTahan

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About Abeer Eltahan

Abeer El Tahhan is a pediatrician and a Quran and Arabic tutor. Abeer is deeply involved in Islamic studies and dawah activities. She is fluent in Arabic and English.