PAGE 2 – HOW THE WILL OF GOD MAY BE KNOWN REGARDING CONTEMPORAY ISSUES
PAGE 3 – AUTHORITY
PAGE 4 – IMPORTANCE (GUIDE TO LIFE, ACCURACY)
PAGE 5 – DIFFERING UNDERSTANDINGS OF IJTIHAD
PAGE 6 – GLOSSARY
Nature and Authority of the Shari’a
In technical terms it is a clearly defined way of following the guidance of God that was left as a pattern for Islamic living by each of the messengers: Muhammad [SAW] left a Shari’a left for the Muslims that was based on the rules and regulations of the faith. We have seen this through the way Muslims pray five times a day keep the fast, obtaining the five pillars. The Shari’a is never an arbitrary law made up by the prophets or by a vote among the people. It is divinely ordained way that the Prophet implemented and human beings are to follow in obedience to the will of God. Human beings not created in a vacuum but with a definite purpose – worship God Humans are not only responsible for their own actions but for creating a just social order and being a vice regent of the world. [Khalifah] Shari’a literally means a road or highway, a well beaten path that leads to definite place. Such a path becomes clearly defined that one can see in the dark. E.g. the path trodden from a village to a river or a well to fetch water would be a Shari’a, and the same for animals. Shari’a is a now a familiar term to Muslims and non-Muslims. It is often heard in news stories about politics, crime, feminism, terrorism and civilisation. Many aspects of a Muslim’s life are governed by Shari’a. Shari’a law originates from a combination of sources such as the Qur’an and the Hadith and also Fatwas Many people, including Muslims, misunderstand Shari’a. It's often associated with the amputation of limbs, death by stoning, lashes and other medieval punishments. Because of this, it is sometimes thought of as draconian. People in the West view Shari’a as archaic and unfair social ideas that are imposed upon people who live in Shari’a-controlled countries. Many Muslims, however, hold a different view. In the Islamic tradition Shari’a is seen as something that nurtures humanity. They see the Shari’a not in the light of something primitive but as something divinely revealed. In a society where social problems are endemic, Shari’a frees humanity to realise its individual potential. In Arabic, Shari’a means "the clear, well-trodden path to water". Islamically, it is used to refer to the matters of religion that God has legislated for His servants. The linguistic meaning of Shari’a reverberates in its technical usage: just as water is vital to human life, so the clarity and uprightness of Shari’a is the means of life for souls and minds.
Throughout history, God has sent messengers to people all over the world, to guide them to the straight path that would lead them to happiness in this world and the one to follow. All messengers taught the same message about belief (the Qur'an teaches that all messengers called people to the worship of the One God), but the specific prescriptions of the divine laws regulating people's lives varied according to the needs of his people and time. The Prophet Muhammad was the final messenger and his Shari’a represents the ultimate manifestation of the divine mercy. "Today I have perfected your way of life (din) for you, and completed My favour upon you, and have chosen Islam as your way of life." (Qur'an, 5:3) and The Prophet himself was told that, "We have only sent you are a mercy for all creation." (Qur'an, 21:179)
How the will of God may be known regarding contemporary issues.
Ijtihad is the making of a decision in Islamic law (sharia) by personal effort (jihad), independently of any school of fiqh as opposed to taqlid (imitation), copying or obeying without question. Ijtihad is associated with the Shi'a Muslim Jafari School of fiqh. In order to be...