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IslamiCity > Articles > Objectives of Sharia
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Islamic Shariah is Allah's guidance to humanity. It distinguishes itself and its value system from other systems by a set of unique characteristics.

Objectives of Sharia
10/5/2012 - Religious - Article Ref: OI1210-5286
Number of comments:
By: Wael Hamza
OnIslam* -

Characteristics of Shari`ah

Islamic Shari`ah is Allah's guidance to humanity. It distinguishes itself and its value system from other systems by a set of unique characteristics. In the next paragraphs, we will touch upon those characteristics.

From Allah

The first and the most important attribute of Islamic Shari`ah is that it is from Allah. Although obvious, this attribute is often forgotten. Shari`ah was not made by people, nor was it an accumulation of peoples' experience. Its guidance, rulings, and teachings are from Allah, the Almighty, the Creator, the Most Merciful, the Ultimately Just. This attribute makes it a real guidance, guidance from the One who created and the One who knows His creation, the One who knows what is beneficial to them, and what is harmful. Allah's names and attributes manifest themselves in His Shari`ah. Shari`ah is full of wisdom, mercy, and justice. Ibn Al-Qayyim says,

Shari`ah is founded and based on wisdom and the benefit of people in this life and in the eternal life. Shari`ah is altogether justice, mercy, benefits, and wisdom. Any rule that departs from justice to oppression, from mercy to cruelty, from benefit to harm, and from wisdom to futility, is not from Shari`ah, even if it is included in Shari`ah by interpretation.

It is really the light that illuminates our lives, {Allah guides to his light whomever He wills...} (An-Nur 24:35) and it is a soul to our hearts. Allah says about His book, {No falsehood can approach it from before or behind it: It is sent down by One full of wisdom, worthy of all praise.} (Fussilat 41:42) 

Comprehensive, encompassing, and complete

Shari`ah is a comprehensive guidance that takes into consideration all aspects of the human life. It gives us guidance from the day we are born till the day we die - it even relates to us before we are born and after we die.

It shows its guidance wherever we are: at home, in the mosque, and at work. It rules our relationship with Allah, our Creator, within ourselves, with each other, our families, our communities, and the whole society. It teaches us how to deal with people, and even animals and objects. It applies to our physical needs, as well as our intellect and souls. It encompasses our sayings, feelings, and actions.

It is a comprehensive way of life. If you read the Qur'an and the tradition of the Prophet you will be able to clearly see this attribute. Allah says,

{... and We have sent down to you the Book explaining all things, a guide, a mercy, and glad tidings to Muslims.} (An-Nahl 16:89)

What is miraculous is that, despite its universality and its comprehensiveness, you will find it consistent and free of any contradiction. As Allah says about His book, {Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.} (An-Nisaa' 4:82) It is really, as the linguistic meaning implies, a way of life, the whole life.

Balanced and moderate

The Prophet used to bring his companions back to moderation whenever he saw any imbalance in their actions or thoughts.

Shari`ah is also balanced and moderate: It balances between the body and the soul, between the intellect and the emotions, between this life and the eternal one. It balances between theory and reality, between thinking and acting, between the unseen and the apparent. It promotes freedom, yet it commands responsibility. It places a balanced focus on the individual versus the community. It strikes a balance between copying and following, and creativity and innovation. It is really a balanced guidance.
The Messenger always promoted this moderate and balanced understanding of Islam. He used to bring his companions back to this moderation whenever he saw any imbalance in their actions or thoughts. The famous story of the three people who wanted to be excessive in their rituals by fasting every day, praying the whole night, and abstaining completely from marriage is a clear example of that. He commented on their act,

"I am the most fearing and the most conscious of Allah. However, I fast but also break my fast; I pray at night and sleep at night and I marry. Whoever turned away from my Sunnah (my tradition and way of life) does not belong to me." (Al-Bukhari)

The Messenger agreed to the advice Salman al-Farsi (may Allah be pleased with him) gave to Abu Ad-Darda' (may Allah be pleased with him) when he told him

"Your body has a right upon you; your eye has a right upon you; your family has a right upon you; and your guest has a right upon you." (Al-Bukhari).

He meant, you need to rest, eat, sleep, spend time with your family, and take care of your guests. These are rights upon you. These rights cannot be ignored while doing extra prayer, fasting, and recitation. Salman told this to Abu Ad-Darda' when he noticed an imbalance in his life.

Release from burdens

One important attribute of Shari`ah is that it came to make things easy and remove burdens. The Prophet was described in the Qur'an to be one who {commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them.} (Al-A`raf 7:157)

Allah also says, {Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties.} (Al-Baqarah 2:185) He described Muhammad as the {Mercy to the worlds.} (Al-Anbiyaa' 21:107) 

The Messenger describes himself as a "gifted mercy" (Ad-Darimi) and he says "Allah did not make me someone who makes things difficult for himself or others, but he sent me as a teacher who makes things easy." (Muslim)

He (peace and blessings be upon him) would advise his companions to make things easy as he commanded Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari and Mua`dh Ibn Jabal when he sent them to Yemen, "Make things easy and do not make things difficult." (Al-Bukhari) He gives the clear advice to people "Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give the glad news and do not chase people away." (Al-Bukhari)

For that, Allah gives permission and easy rulings in almost all rituals when they create a burden: Tayammum can replace Wudu' if water is missing; Salah can be shortened and combined in the case of traveling; one can pray sitting or lying down if it is difficult to stand; it is permissible to break the fast in Ramadan for the traveler, the sick, the pregnant, and the nursing mother.

Another aspect of the ease of Shari`ah is that it is simple to understand. Although the Qur'an and the tradition of the Messenger are deep, sophisticated, and command intellect, they are made easy for people to understand and reflect. Allah says about His book, {And indeed, We have made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember.} (Al-Qmar 54: 17)

Synergetic

Shari`ah came to deal with human beings as they are.

The teachings of Shari`ah are synergetic. They create synergy between people, where they help one another to promote the good and remove the evil. Shari`ah also establishes synergy between people and their leadership at all levels. Allah says,
{Believing men and women are supporters of one another, they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong ...} (At-Tawbah 9:71)

Nurturing the individual and community is done through the synergy between development and positive influence (also known as tarbiyah) from one side, and laws and regulations from another. {We sent our apostles with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice ...}(Al-Hadid 57: 25) 

Practical

Shari`ah came to deal with human beings as they are. It acknowledges their needs and desires. Allah knows the humans He created and knows that they need to eat, drink, and get married. They have materialistic necessities and needs the same way they have their spiritual and emotional needs. Allah created the humans from mud and breathed into them their soul.

Shari`ah acknowledges the need for rest and entertainment to recharge the energy.

Therefore, Shari`ah acknowledges that humans are going to advance and decline, and people may be guided, or may go astray. It acknowledges the fact that people are weak and may disobey and they will need to learn how to repent. Handhalah (may Allah be pleased with him), a companion of the Prophet , thought that he was a hypocrite because when he was not with the Prophet he felt a spiritual decline. The Prophet comforted him by acknowledging that this is the nature of human beings. (Muslim) 
In regard to the practical nature of Shari`ah, Allah made everything permissible except a few harmful things. Allah opened a very wide door for repentance - all the time, no matter what the sin is. Allah says in the Qur'an that {Allah wishes to turn to you ...} (An-Nisaa' 4:27) and the Messenger says that Allah accepts the repentance from whoever repents before the soul is about to leave the body. (At-Tirmidhi)

Shari`ah also acknowledges the differences between people, nations, and cultures. Therefore, the Messenger used to answer the same questions differently, depending on the circumstance of the questioner. He would deal with the elderly differently than the young, and would permit his wife, `A'ishah, to play with young ladies in consideration of her age. He would allow people to practice their culture as long as it does not contradict Islamic teachings[1]. Shari`ah also acknowledges the need for rest and entertainment to recharge the energy as long as it is done appropriately without sins.

Preserved

One important attribute of Shari`ah is that it is the last Shari`ah to humanity. It will continue to remain and reach generation after generation. For that, Allah preserved and protected its sources.

Shari`ah is respected and glorified in the hearts and the minds of Muslims.

The Qur'an was sent down to a community known for its ability to memorize. The whole Book was kept in the memory of people. The Qur'an reaches us through a long, yet strong, chain of narrators who memorized the Qur'an as it was revealed to the Messenger . It was also written at the time it was revealed and was compiled in one book a few months after the death of the Prophet . The enemies of Islam failed to introduce into the Qur'an even a single letter. Allah said, {We have sent down the Dhikr (the Qur'an) and We will preserve it.} (Al-Hijr 15:9) 

The tradition of the Prophet was also preserved even after the deliberate attempts to corrupt it and introduce new things to it. Allah enabled Muslim scholars of the past and present to develop one of the most honorable sciences, that is, the science of Hadith, a science that is concerned with authenticating the tradition of the Messenger . The effort that was spent to distinguish the authentic traditions of the Prophet from those which are weak or fabricated is unprecedented in the history of humanity. One should feel the comfort and the pride that the Shari`ah is being protected by the One who sent it, Allah the Almighty.

More qualities

Shari`ah is independent of all other laws and systems. It was never influenced by humans or their experience. The similarity that we see between the teachings of Shari`ah and other teachings is due to those other teachings being influenced by Shari`ah, either before or after Islam.

Shari`ah is respected and glorified in the hearts and the minds of Muslims, who choose to follow it, since it is from their Creator. Muslims follow the guidance of Allah willingly and excitedly as they believe that it will get them closer to Him and help them attain happiness and success in this life and the hereafter. They respond to the commands of their Lord and they expect His reward immediately and in the hereafter.

Shari`ah is eloquent and very effective in the way it is articulated. The Qur'an is the most eloquent book - it challenged and is still challenging people to come up with something similar to it. The Prophet's teachings and guidance were conveyed through a set of few eloquent words. His words were concise and effective.

Source: OnIslam - Wael Hamza.  Wael is a Muslim writer, thinker and an active figure in MAS (Muslim American Society )


[1] He used to allow a group of people called al-habashah" to play with their spears in the masjid and allowed his wife Aisha to watch them.

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