The religion of Islam is one the most ancient religion. The Islamic law is believed to be begun from the divine itself and not made by the people governed by man-made laws. The community of Muslims believes that Allah is the only god.
History of Muslim Law
Prophet Mohammed, under their leadership, established the first Muslim community in 662. The Quran gave basic rules and laws about the conduct of a person. Prophet Mohammed also helped resolve the issues that arose among the people and resolved the question of law by elucidating the provisions in the Quran. The Islamic law system is commonly known as Sharia. Sharia first came from Allah, which is why it is considered holy by the Muslim community. Sharia also came from the principles of Prophet Mohammed and the teachers of Muslim law who gave their perception. The art of determining the words in the Sharia is known as Fiqh. As the concept of Fiqh developed, legal studies about Sharia grew. In the medieval period, the number of legal commentaries also increased, resulting in the development of written Sharia law.
Sources of Muslim Law
The Muslim law developed from different sources. These include the following.
- Quran– It is the most important source of Muslim law. The god communicated to Prophet Mohammed, who gave all the words given in the Quran. God did that through the angel Gabriel for the betterment of humankind. The text of the Quran existed in a small, incomplete manner while the Prophet was alive. It was never collected and organized in a proper form or order. The Quran is written in Arabic, and it has 114 chapters that are called suras. The suras contain 6666 verses which are known as Ayats. The legal rules related to marriage, property transfer, inheritance, etc., are given here. Any person or agency cannot amend the words given in the Quran as the god itself gives these words.
- Sunnat: It means the traditions followed by the Prophet Mohammed. It is also called Hadis. It includes all the actions done by Prophet Mohammed, like the things he said or actions he did. The Prophet gave judgment either on his own or after discussing with his aides, and all the judgments came directly from the god itself.
- The Prophet was regarded as an idol, and his actions inspired his disciples. This was called Sunnat-ul-fail. The people made certain customs that were in consonance with Quran. These customs were allowed to go on in the society, although the Prophet never approved it. It was considered a silent agreement by the Prophet. This was called Sunnat-ul-Taqrir.
- Ijma– It means an agreement of Muslim scholars and jurists on a specific legal issue. The Jurists collectively gave verdicts on a specific problem if a solution cannot be derived from the Quran or any other traditions or customs. The individuals who had expertise in legal studies were referred to as Mujtahids. The power of the Ijma comes from Quran and Sunnat, and because of that, there was no conflict between them.
- Qiyas– It means analyzing the principles Quran and Sunnat and deducting them. In a more superficial sense, it means finding out the quality of something. This concept was need after the passing of Prophet Mohammed. Qiyas has not been given authority according to the Quran, but proofs have been provided by mentioning the content in the Quran and Sunnat and practices happening by the jurists, which can be said to give validity to Qiyas. The Hanafi School backs the use of Qiyas.
- Other Sources– The other sources include customs that have been followed by the Muslims, Judicial precedents given by the court, and statutes made like The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937.
Schools of Muslim Law
There are many schools in Muslim law. These schools represent different schools of thought and their different interpretation of the Quran. These include the following.
In Sunni School, four primary schools are
- Hanafi School– It is a very recognizable school of law. It derives its name from its founder Abu Hanafee. This School had codified all the customs and precedents that were followed during that time. It is the most followed School in all the schools of Muslim law. Since it is followed so widely, many Muslims follow this School in India, Turkey, and Pakistan.
- Maliki School– Imam Malik-bin-Anas founded this School. It came into existence at the same time as Hanafi School. The Maliki School emphasized Hadis and Sunna. This School also followed the teachings and actions done by Prophet Mohammed. Imam Malik gathered the traditions followed by the Prophet Mohammed and recorded them in a book the Hadis follow.
- Shafi School– This School is named after Muhammad bin Idris Shaffie. He studied under Imam Malik. Iman Shaffie was regarded as the most eminent Jurist of Islam. This School is a compilation of Maliki School and Hanafi School. The concept of Qiyas also came from this School. This School is prevalent in Egypt and some Asian countries.
- Hanbali School– Ahmad bin Hanbal founded this School. He was a follower of Imam Shaffie. He suggested that the Sunna and Hadis should be consulted if any question of law arises because the customs and teaching that Prophet Mohammed gave were more critical than the Jurist’s interpretation of the law. This School is followed by the people in Saudi Arabia and Syria.
In Shia School, three primary schools are
- Ithna-Asharis– This School is regarded as the most followed School among Shia Muslims. They follow the laws of Ithna-Ashari. According to them, the Imams that are disappeared will come back as Messiah. The followers of this School are found in Iraq and Iran.
- Ismailis– This School believes that Prophet Mohammed is a messenger of the god to all humanity. The believer of this School includes Bohras and Khojas who are established in Mumbai.
- Zaidy– The believers of this School primarily resides in Yemen and also South Arabia.
Who is a Muslim
A Muslim is a person who believes in Islam and follows its rules and customs. A person born in a Muslim family or a person who converts to Islam may also be considered Muslim.
Muslim law is vast. There are many sources of Muslim law. The difference in interpreting the Quran and other sources of law has led to different Schools of thought is formed. However, every School gives the same message of peace among the people.