SHARIAH is the law of Allah. It shows the Muslim how to remain a Muslim. It is the only course that really organizes the life of both individuals and communities. It shows man how to obey his Creator and how to behave toward his fellow human beings, Muslims and non-Muslims.
Almighty Allah says: “Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (i.e. justice) and Al-Ihsan ( i.e. to be patient in performing our duties to Allah), and giving (help) to kith and kin and forbids Al-Fahsha (i.e. all evil deeds) and Al-Munkar (all that is prohibited) and Al-Baghy (all kinds of oppression). He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” (An-Nahl 16:90)
This verse is known as the most comprehensive verse of the Qur’an. It summarizes basic Islamic principles and values: Adl (justice) and Ihsan (compassion). These should be the overriding principles for everything that we say and everything that we do, individually or collectively.
The Nature of Shariah
Shariah is the law of Allah. It is different from laws in the common sense of the word. Shariah is the law that is based on ethics. Its basic values are permanent and universal. Shariah deals with the outward and inward. The rules of Shariah cannot be observed without sincerity, true intention, love, and respect for the law and the Law-Giver, Allah.
Purpose of Shariah
The purpose of Shariah is to make good persons and a good society. Its whole objective is ethical and moral. Shariah establishes what is good and beautiful. If something is not moral (good and beautiful), it is not part of Shariah. It is also impossible to implement the Shariah without becoming a good person. A society that establishes Shariah must become a good and beautiful society.
It is impossible to have a society compliant to Shariah and have injustice, ugliness, and evil in it. It is also impossible to have a good Muslim who is unjust, unfair, unfaithful, and immoral.
Ibn Al-Qayyim in his famous book of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) says: “The Shariah is founded and based on wisdom and the good of people in this life and in the eternal life. Shariah is altogether justice, mercy, benefits, and wisdom. Any rule that departs from justice to oppression, from mercy to its opposite, from benefit to harm, and from wisdom to uselessness, is not from the Shariah, even if it is included in Shariah by interpretation.”
When we follow the rules of Shariah we must keep in mind the objectives of Shariah. Very often we follow the rules but we ignore and overlook the spirit and real purpose of the rules.
1. For example the Qur’an speaks about Taharah (purification), Ghusl (purificatory bath), and Wudu (ablution). We take these rules and apply them, but we do not take the objective of cleanliness very seriously.
2. We pray in Jamaah (congregation), but we have not learned the system of organization from our Salah.
3. We give zakah, but we have not been able to establish a system of social justice.
4. We go to Haj, but we have not been able to develop a unified Ummah, a community that transcends nationalistic divisions.
5. We recite the Qur’an many times, but we do not try to understand its meaning and message.
6. We talk of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) but mostly related to some appearances. We pay little attention to the Prophet’s character of love, kindness, honesty, truthfulness, sincerity, fulfilling the promises, etc.
It is our responsibility to know the rules of Allah and put them into practice with sincerity. But before anything, we should ask ourselves: Are we really practicing justice? Are we really fair to others, to our spouses, to our relatives, to our neighbors, employees, employers, to Muslims, to other human beings, to animals, to anything and everything? Are we really compassionate people? Are we really increasing in compassion or are we becoming angry, hateful, arrogant, or complacent about ourselves? We must improve ourselves in justice and compassion. If we do not have Adl and Ihsan or Rahmah (mercy), then we are not practicing the Shariah. Similarly, if we think that we are following the law of Allah but the result is injustice and lack of compassion, then it means that we have not properly understood the law of Allah or we are not interpreting it right.