This chapter discusses the shari'a, the sacred law of Islam. Law is an essential feature of revealed religion in both the Qur'an and Islamic thought in general, and the term shari'a is used with reference not only to Islam but also to Judaism and Christianity, because all three are conceived as having a divinely given law. According to later jurists, 500 verses of the Qur'an, treat legal subjects, including matters relating to prayer, fasting, alms, pilgrimage, permitted food, marriage, divorce, inheritance, slavery, and trade. This represents roughly one-thirteenth of the sacred text. The chapter covers the law in the books; the source of the law; the two institutions that contributed to making the law central to Islamic societies and creating continuity over space and time: the madhhab, or the legal school and the madrasa, or college of law; legal education and careers; caliphs; judges and muftis; the impact of modernity; and political Islam.
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