The Quran about the term “shari,a”

In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful

Muslims all over the world often use the term “sharia”. The term means the totality of such norms as legal, ethical, ceremonial. These norms cover a significant part of the life of a Muslim.

In historical Islam, there are prescriptions and prohibitions, which all the legal adult Muslims are obligated to observe. These regulations and prohibitions are called “tacliffe”, and the ones who obliged to perform them, are called “mukallaf”.

Prescriptions and prohibitions executed by “mukallafs» have a different degree of importance. The gradation in terms of the importance of prescriptions and prohibitions is called “af’aal-ul-mukallafin.”

“Af’aal-ul-mukallafin” consists of eight sections:

  1. Fard – mandatory, strictly prescribed duties. For execution – a reward, for non-execution – punishment.

2. Wajib – duties very close to strictly prescribed duties. For example, “vitr” namaz and “festive namaz”.

3. Sunna – the desired actions. For example, Sunnah prayer and fasting. For execution – a reward, for non-execution no punishment.

4. Mustahab – actions that are committed only occasionally. For example, giving alms or an extra post. For execution – a reward, for non-execution no punishment.

5. Mubah – neutral actions, for execution of which, according to the provisions of the Shari’ah, there is no sauab (God’s reward), and in non-fulfilment of them there is no sin. For example, such actions as sit down, get up, eat, drink.

6. Macruh is an undesirable activity. By the degree of permissiveness, it occupies the boundary position between halal (permitted) and haraam (forbidden). For the execution there is no punishment, for non-performance – a reward.

7. Mufsid – actions that violate the already begun religious or other important action. Actions such as laughing at prayer, eating during fasting.

8. Haram – strictly prohibited actions. For example, the murder of an innocent person, theft, drinking of alcoholic beverages, pork consumption, and disobedience to parents.

Let’s figure out what the term “shari,a” means in Arabic. This term is derived from the roots of “shara,a, shar,un” – “to guide directly, to aim, to target“.

In the Quran, this word is used in the direct meaning. For example, descriptions of the history of the children of Israel:

And ask them about the town that was by the sea. They transgressed – when their fish came straight to them (shurra,an) on their sabbath day, and the day they had no sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were apostates. (7:163)

Turning to the field of guidance of the believers, we will understand that directing straight – is the prerogative of the Creator only.

And We have revealed to you, the Prescription in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Prescription and as a guardian. So judge between them by what God has revealed and do not follow their passions away from what has come to you of the truth.

To each of you We prescribed straight direction (shir,atun) and a method. Had God willed, He would have set you on one basis. But to test you in what He has given you; so race to good. To God is your return all together, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ! (5:48)

Then We put you on an ordained way concerning the matter! So follow it and do not follow the passions of those who do not know! (45:18)

In historical Islam, it is believed that the “sharia” of the messengers was different, but there was only one faith. However, in the Quran, we find that the straight direction of the Lord was the same at all times:

He directed you straight (shara,a) to your duty what He enjoined upon Nuh (Noah) and that which We have revealed to you and what We enjoined upon Ibrahim (Abraham) and Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus) – that they would be persistent in duty and not be divided therein. Difficult for those who associate others with God is that to which you invite them. God chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever prays for help! (42:13)

So what is the cause of disagreements and divisions?

The fact is that certain groups of people took upon themselves the responsibility to ascribe to the Divine prescriptions the human ones. Thus, the “priests” in parallel with the Creator try to direct “straight” the rest of the people.

Or have they other deities who have directed them straight (shara,uu) to their duty to which God has not consented? But if not for the decisive Word, it would have been concluded between them! And indeed, the obscurantists will have a painful punishment! (42:21)

As can be seen from the above passage, human prescriptions, along with the Divine, are regarded as pantheistic actions, polytheism. If you pay attention to the accepted understanding of “sharia,” the bulk of the points of it are based on the traditions of people which refer to Muhammad and the decisions of scientists. Whatever the attitude towards the messenger and the scientific people, it is unacceptable to put their particular prescriptions to one level with the divine.

Say, “Are there of your ‘partners’ any who guides to the truth?”

Say, “God guides to the truth. So is He who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed or he who guides not unless he is guided? Then what is with you – how do you judge?” (10:35)

The true “sharia” for believers should only be the Word of God.