What Is Sharia?

Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 01:42 PM

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All religions are governed by their own set of laws. For centuries, religious laws have been part of our social reality. The functioning of our daily lives are in one way or the other governed by these laws.
 
Sharia is the Islamic set of laws that are meant to regulate the functioning of society. The Sharia laws, according to Muslims, are derived from the divine revelations that are recorded in the holy Quran and the teachings of Muhammad.
 
Historically speaking, the Shariah law came into existence by the year 622 AD. The law has evolved over a period of time, adjusting to the demands of a changing world. Broadly speaking, there are four main schools of Shariah in the Islamic world; Maliki, Shafi, Hanafi, and Hanbali. The Hanafi school of thought is considered to be more liberal than the other three.
 
 Sharia governs every aspect of a person’s life from religious practices, marital life and socio-political realties.
 
According to Sharia laws, Muslims are supposed to pray five times a day. They have to observe 30 days of fast in the month of Ramadan. Sharia also urges Muslims to visit the holy city of Mecca for Haj pilgrimage once in their lifetime.
 
Sharia laws not only regulate the day-to-day behavior of Muslims, but also have a larger socio-political impact. There have been debates in the past about the validity of continuing with religious laws in the modern, liberal, democratic world. However, such practices have been allowed in the name of religious freedom. Sharia laws are used in places where the Muslim community represents a sizeable population.
 
Sharia laws have been subject to criticism. According to some, the law is repressive towards women. Muslim scholars, on the other hand, blame such interpretations on a lopsided view of these Islamic laws. According to them, Sharia guarantees women their rights and is not repressive in any way.

In a world that is facing the threat of religious extremism, it becomes even more important to understand the truth of religious laws.

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