Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

11 Jun 2013

What Is Sharia?

Posted By

Sharia is Islamic law. However, it is not limited to the areas that Americans believe should be regulated by law but extends to the minute details of life. Sharia has two sources: (1) the Qur’an, which Muslims believe is divine revelation delivered by Muhammad, and (2) the hadith, the collection of the traditional reports of the words and actions of Muhammad. Utilizing these two sources, Muslims employ the consensus of the community and analogical reasoning to determine how to apply the Qur’an and hadith to life—forming Sharia.

Perhaps the most well-received manual of Sharia is the Reliance of the Traveller. It contains official instruction for how Muslims are to act in a variety of situations—from prayers to personal hygiene. A look through the manual sheds light on Muslim attitudes and actions as dictated by Sharia. It also brings to mind the words of Christ:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

Here are a few excerpts.

w16.0 Proper Manners Towards the Holy Koran

  • w16.1 It is of the inviolability of the Koran
    • (1) not to touch it except in a state of ritual purity, and to recite it when in a state of ritual purity
    • (2) to brush one’s teeth with a toothstick, remove food particles from between them, and freshen one’s mouth before reciting, since it is the way through which the Koran passes.
    • (4) to dress for reciting it as if intending to visit a prince, for the reciter is engaged in intimate discourse
    • (7) to stop reciting when one yawns, for when reciting, one is addressing one’s Lord in intimate conversation, while yawning is from the Devil
    • (19) if one puts the Koran down, not to leave it open
    • (20) not to place other books upon the Koran, which should always be higher than all other books (N: though the books of each shelf of a bookcase, for example, are considered separately in this), whether they are books of Sacred Knowledge or something else
    • (21) to place the Koran on one’s lap when reading, or on something in front of one, not on the floor
    • (27) not to recite it to song tunes like those of the corrupt, or with the tremulous tones of Christians or the plaintiveness of monkery, all of which is misguidance

e9.0 Going to the Lavatory

  • e9.1 It is recommended when one intends to use the lavatory
    • (2) to cover the head
    • (5) to say before entering: “In the name of Allah, O Allah, I take refuge in you from demons, male and female,” and after leaving “[O Lord,] Your forgiveness. Praise be to Allah who rid me of the hurt and gave me health.”
    • (6) to enter with the left foot first, and depart with the right foot first
    • (9) not to spend a long time
    • (10) not to speak

e5.0 Ablution (N: Meaning to wash certain parts of the body with water, with the intention of worship)

  • e5.1 Ablution has six obligatory integrals
    • (a) To have the intention when one starts washing the face;
    • (b) To wash the face;
    • (c) To wash the arms up to and including the elbows;
    • (d) To wipe a little of the head with wet hands;
    • (e) To wash the feet up to and including the anklebones;
    • (f) And to do these things in the order mentioned
    • (N: the obligatory minimum is to perform (b), (c), (d), and (e) once, though the sunna is to perform them each three times).
  • e5.2 the person performing ablution intends:
    • To lift a state of lesser ritual impurity;
    • To purify for prayer;
    • Or to purify for something not permissible without purification, such as touching a Koran, or something else
    • (N: The simple intention to perform the obligation of ablution suffices in place of all the above.)

p20.0 Taking People’s Property Through Falsehood

  • p20.2 The category of taking other’s property through falsehood includes such people as those who impose non-Islamic taxes, the highwayman who blocks the road, the thief, the idler, the betrayer of a trust, the cheater or adulterator of trade goods, the borrower who denies having borrowed something, the person who stints when weighing or measure out goods, the person who picks up lost and found property and does not give notice of having found it, the person who sells merchandise with a hidden defect, the gambler, and the merchant who tells the buyer that the merchandise cost more than it did.
  • p20.3 The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
    • (1) “Whoever appropriates a handsbreadth of land through falsehood shall be made to carry it, as think as seven earths, around his neck on Judgement Day.”
    • (3) A man said “O Messenger of Allah, will my mistakes be forgiven me if I am killed, in steadfastness and anticipating Allah’s reward, advancing and not retreating?” He replied, “Yes, except for debts.”

p73.0 Forgoing the Friday Prayer to Pray Alone

  • p73.1 The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
    • (1) “I’ve considered having a man lead people at prayer and going myself to those who hang back from attending the Friday prayer to burn their houses down upon them.”
    • (2) “Going to Friday prayer is obligatory for every male who has reached puberty.”

Ibn Naqib Al-Misri, Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law.  Revised edition.  Beltsville, MD:  Amana, 1994.