Before I address more practical applications of Sharia (coming soon in future posts), I wanted to address some theoretical components.
Very simply, Sharia is the law of God. Though some Muslims will say that the Qur’an has all the answers (so cliché), it certainly does not have all the laws we’ll ever need pre-casted and ready to be implemented. So as much as Sharia has come to refer to a static set of rules and laws, it is more appropriate to view it as a system of creating laws that are divinely sanctioned. To elaborate a little more, like many other explanations about something that is deemed Godly, Sharia is supposed to be humanity’s attempt at developing a set of laws that is close to perfect as possible (perfection equaling God).
As any true scholar of Islam will tell you, the ‘characterization’ of God more closely parallels the transcendence of Judaism than it does the personal/human God of Christianity (BTW… Muslims believe that these are all the same God). By transcendence, Muslims mean that God is wholly other and mostly incomprehensible to man. The philosophers might liken this description of God to the concept of infinity; no beginning, no end, theoretically imaginable, not completely graspable. This is probably where Kant would say that we are hardwired to understand in a context of time and space.
Okay. So Sharia is the law of God and it must aim to be Godly, yet humans can’t quite grasp the notion of God like they can’t grasp infinity?? The confusion I have brought you to is exactly the point. Fundamentally, one must understand that the Sharia law is ultimately controlled, guided, and implemented by humans. Humans are not God and they can’t exactly know whether their actions are completely Godly. However, lawmakers can commit themselves to the ideals of justice and fairness.
Part 2: Religious Ritual Law vs. Legal Code
Part 3: What is a fatwah? A Basic Explanation of Islamic Jurisprudence
Part 4: Why is Sharia misunderstood (and villified)?
Part 5: Is Sharia compatible with the US Constitution?