Sharia in it most general term is the law of the religion Islam. The meaning of sharia is first given in surah 42 verses 13 in the Islamic Holy book, the Qur’an. In this verse the word sharia was given the meaning to ordain or prescribe law, this is not any law but the law set by god in the Qur’an.
Sharia is also founded in the Qur’an in surah 5 verse 48; it is written “to each among you We have Prescribed a law and a clear way”. From this it is evident the Sharia has a second meaning which is law.
Sharia was also given a third meaning in the Qur’an, in surah 45 verse 18. In this verse the meaning straight path was given. From the three meanings that have been drawn from the Qur’an, it can be concluded that the meaning to the word sharia from an Islamic point of view is that sharia is law that is for Muslims to follow and prescribe as part of their lifestyle, the laws are clear and it should be followed as it is a straight path or a knowledgeable path. Therefor all the principles and guidance that is available for Muslims is sharia as they must follow them to be good Muslims.
As a terminology Muslims refer to the Sharia as Islamic laws that were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed PBUH, which were recorded in the Qur’an and deducible form the Prophet’s Lifestyle. This terminology used most likely refers to the gathered meaning of the word Sharia found from the Qur’an.
In the Arabic language sharia is referred to as a watering place were men and beast can drinks from and also draw water from. This meaning suggests sharia is there for all men and beast such as living things, there is guidance and law set for all to follow and use. This meaning also points to the conclusion sharia is guidance that must be followed.
Sharia law is also fixed and cannot be changed, it is Gods law and there for only God can change it, the laws are also general and basic. Therefor Fiqh law is introduced in order to apply the Sharia to different circumstances. Figh law takes the basic Sharia law then introduces further law based on the sharia so it can fit unprecedented situations. This further proves Sharia is still the main law and any further law developed most only be done if the core is from sharia law.
The most important source of the Sharia law is the holy Qur’an, it is the first source of sharia. In the Qur’an there are nearly three hundred and fifty legal verses, these legal verses are the sharia i.e. Islamic rules. The Sharia in the Qur’an is broken into different categories. There are one hundred and forty verses that deal with the devotional issues such as prayer and etc. There are seventy verses that deal with commercial transactions. Then there are thirty verses that deal with crime and the penalties for crime, another thirty that deal with the rights of citizens and finally ten verses to deal with economical matters. These categories are what make up society even today and Sharia law was placed many years ago in the Qur’an to deal with these issues.
Some of the legal verses in the Qur’an came as direct answers to some issues, for example in Surah AL BAQARAH verse 219 the issue on wine and gambling was answered for Muslims, it was held both were wrong and lead to more harm than good, there for a legal rule was established forbidding alcohol and gambling. Legal verses also were revealed due to incidents in the Prophet Mohammed PBUH life. For example In the Surah AL – NUUR verses 6 – 9, its was held what needs to be done if the married couples were having marital troubles and one of them was lying in their marriage. The relayed the revelations that were given to him and there for these legal principles were established and form part of the sharia. These examples show how the sources of sharia came into existence.
The second main source of sharia law is the Sunnah. The Sunnah is according to Islamic terminology the actions and sayings of the Prophet PBUH which