|SHARIA (ISLAMIC LAW)|
Shari’a is an Arabic word meaning “path” or “way.” Today the term is used most commonly to mean “Islamic law,” the detailed system of religious law developed by Muslim scholars in the first three centuries of Islam and still in force among fundamentalists today.Shari’a tries to describe in detail all possible human acts, dividing them into permitted (halal) and prohibited (haram). It subdivides them into various degrees of good or evil such as obligatory, recommended, neutral, objectionable or forbidden. This vast compendium of rules regulates all matters of devotional life, worship, ritual purity, marriage and inheritance, criminal offenses, commerce and personal conduct. It also regulates the governing of the Islamic state and its relations to non-Muslims within the state as well as to enemies outside the state. Shari’ainfluences the behavior and worldview of most Muslims, even in secular states where it forms no part of the law of the land.Islam teaches that shari’a, as God’s revealed law, perfect and eternal, is binding on individuals, society and state in all its details. By logical extension, any criticism ofshari’a is heresy. Muslims who deny the validity of shari’a in any way are labeled as non-Muslims (infidels) or apostates (those who convert to another religion) by traditionalists and Islamists. As such, they face the threat of being prosecuted for apostasy, a crime that carries the death penalty in shari’a.
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