Islamic concepts

Sharīʿah — divine code, religious code, sacred law

The word Sharīʿah شريعة simply means ‘path’, specifically ‘the trodden path to the water source’.


Divine code

For Muslims, the Sharīʿah is the way of life, the path of conduct, the religious code revealed by the Divine (swt) through a chain of about 310 messengers.

Muslims believe in previous religious codes, e.g. the Torah given to us through the messenger Moses, and the Gospel through the messenger Jesus — peace be upon them both.

For Muslims, the final consolidated blueprint for life is contained in the Qurʾān (the Recital). This is supplemented by the Sunnah, i.e. the example of worship demonstrated by the messenger Muḥammad ﷺ.

Human endeavour

The human endeavour of understanding the Sharīʿah, i.e. interpreting and applying the rules system of Islam, is actually called Fiqh. It’s through the process of Fiqh that we know the details of:

For the political and civil implementation the media calls ‘Sharīʿah law’, see this comment by rayiner.

Alternate translations

  • Allāh-given blueprint for life
  • religious code
  • divine laws of life
  • divinely received code of conduct
  • divinely required way of life
  • the rules of action for spiritual health
  • law or institution prescribed by God
  • right way or mode of action
  • clear course/path
  • the set of rules Allāh has given us through the messengers of Allāh
  • system of rules and guidelines that Muslims follow for everyday life


“For each We have appointed a divine law [Sharīʿah] and a traced-out way. Had God willed, He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He has given you. So vie one with another in good works. Unto God you will all return, and He will then inform you of that wherein you differ.” (Qurʾān 5:48)

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