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Sharia is the moral code of conduct and guideline for Muslims (Hussain 12). Under the sharia code, different topics have been covered and addressed extensively to help guide Muslims. The topics that have been addressed widely in the sharia are crime, politics, economics, as well as moral topics such as sexual, personal hygiene, and diet among other subjects (Hussain 15).
Islam is a religion that has spread all over the world and therefore, it has members from different backgrounds/ cultures (race and ethnicity). Because of such diversity, interpretation of the sharia law varies between people of different cultures (Hussain 15). However, the sharia law is considered as a universal law from God (the creator). As such, all Muslims are required to adhere to this universal law.
The meaning of sharia law
There are different interpretations of the sharia law, which vary between cultures (Hussain 18). As well, there are different perspectives, which look at each of the interpretation of sharia law. Regardless of these interpretations and perspectives, different Muslims have the same opinion that “sharia is a reflection of God’s will for human kind” (Hussain 47). Because of its reflection, sharia should therefore, be perfect and any changes should only be done to reflect the will of God more perfectly.
The sharia law is broad and has been divided into different sections. This particular law has two primary sources. The precept as outlined in the Quran is the first source (Sunnah) while the examples demonstrated by Prophet Mohammed forms the second source (Hussain 13).
In most cases, sharia law is interpreted by Islamic judges because they have more knowledge of the law and are specialized in this field. When it comes to questions that have not been covered in the Quran or in the examples set by Prophet Mohammed, a lot of consultation and discussion is done by religious leaders to find an appropriate answer or solution.
There have been numerous efforts to reintroduce the sharia (Hussain 76). Such efforts have been made by Islamist movements in a majority of Muslim nations around the world. However, attempts to reintroduce the sharia law have been accompanied by a lot of controversy and violence worldwide (Hussain 78).
In fact, a close study of the history reveals that the reintroduction of the sharia law has also led to a number of wars including the Second Sudanese Civil Warfare (Hussain 119). In different countries, Muslims have designed sharia to fit their situations or needs. For example, Muslims in most Asian countries including those in Israel have recognized sharia law in all institutions and have continually applied it to give a ruling to both personal and community matters (Hussain 53).
In other parts of the world, in the western nations for instance, the Muslims brothers and sister, although they are the minority groups, have reintroduced the sharia to help them deal with disputes and also solve other social issues. An excellent example of such groups is Britain’s Muslims Arbitration Tribunal (BMAT) in the United Kingdom.
Modernity and sharia law
The forces of modernity have influenced Muslims in dynamic ways and today, sharia law has been affected significantly. The sharia law is interpreted differently. Here, are contemporary examples of how sharia law is used by several countries in modern times.
The first example is that sharia is blended by state laws. In a number of Muslims countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Egypt, just to name a few, the sharia law is integrated in the legal system, therefore, affecting and influencing different affairs (Hussain 65). The second example is that some Muslim countries are using classical sharia.
Some States in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia do not have constitutions in place. Sharia forms part of the constitution of such countries and therefore their policies are limited, and cannot be changed. In such countries, the law is strictly interpreted by religious leaders.
Factors influencing the role of sharia in the modern society
One of the factors that have continued to favor sharia law in the modern society is the rapid exchange of cultures (Hussain 15). The emergence of modern technology such as internet has enabled people to communicate and stay connected. Muslims have used the internet to network and are, therefore, exchanging ideas as well as cultures.
The second factor that favors the spread of sharia and its role in the society today is revival of Islamic religion (Hussain 139). For the last two centuries and so, the Islamic religion has spread significantly and this has ensured the emergence of Islamic political power.
The difference between sharia law and the customary law
According to the work of Jan Michiel, anthropological study continues to reveal that most people clearly differentiate whether and to what extent their beliefs, cultural practices, and traditions are founded on tradition, custom, or religion (Hussain 131). Most people who are strict followers of the sharia law (Muslims) fail to notice or rather, they overlook custom and culture.
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