In the previous chapter, you may be able to draw an outline of Islamic law system. If we want to go further in discovering the fact of Islamic law, we need to answer the next question, that is what is the sources of this law? Was it formed as a result of the development of civilisations as we usually thought? Or was it enacted by a ruler and passed down between generations? Once you are able to work out to where these questions lead you, I must say, you nearly understand what the Islamic law is.
One obvious difference between the Islamic law and the other laws was that the law is not relevant only to intellectuals but ordinary people as well. They come to understand the need to abide by certain patterns of conduct? How can they do that if they do not understand completely the means to think through life’s complex and intricate situations? And how can the elite intellectuals determine the exact way in which we should be behave? The answer, is probably related to one thing that can affect them entirely which is repeated as a routine in their daily life, and makes them always think about it more often than anything else in their life.
Thus, a central question was raised: Does rational thinking, on its own, accomplish the job? If God granted us precious intellects, by what measure do we think about the world, about the human, material and physical components? In other words, how do we determine what is good and what is evil, what is beneficial and what is harmful in both the short and long runs? That is to say, the content of rationality, in their thinking, must thus be predetermined by the all-knowing God, who has reveal a particular body or knowledge through Quran and the Prophet. And when these Holy books combined with rational thinking inside each person, or in other words, when reason and revelation blended together, the law appeared.
Therefore, based on those mentioned above, the Muslim jurists have nourished assumption that the Quran is the most sacred source of law, embodying knowledge that God had revealed about human beliefs, about God himself, and about how the believer should conduct himself or herself in this world.
But do you think that only Quran takes effect on people’s life and is the only source of Shari’ah? The answer is definitely “no”. As people believe, the God also sent down a prophet, called Muhammad, whose personal conduct was “exemplary”. When people worship Muhammad as a prophet, as a God’s chosen messenger, his biography automatically became the exemplary for all people and became known in legal literature as Sunnah – the second major source of law after the Quran.
According to “A Concise Dictionary of Islamic Terms” (1979), Sunnah is defined as “a path, a way, a manner of life”. The concrete details of the Sunnah are what the Prophet had said and done, or tacitly approved – took the form of specific narratives that became known as Hadith.
Taking into account the Hadith in our research will lead us to a theory or method that helped jurists deal with the contradictory Quranic texts. You will know about it in a part of the next chapter, and in the next chapter, we will find out more about how Shari’ah was found.
(Back to Chapter 1.)