Sharia is comprised of 3 basic sources: the Koran, the Sunnah, and independent reasoning (ijtihad). The Koran is the word of God, as relayed through the Prophet Mohammed. Although not a main source for Islamic Sharia, about 3% of the Koran delves into civil and criminal law, and penalties for violations of such. The Koran is a compilation made put together by The Prophet of revelations relayed to him directly from God by spoken Word, or messages from God relayed by the Archangel Gabriel. Although the Koran is a finite source of legal interpretations or “statutory” passages, it does not cover all aspects of civil and criminal offenses, especially for events which transpire in the modern world.
Such can be said about the Sunnah, lifetime experiences, verbal and physical, of Mohammed that were recorded by his disciples. From the Sunnah, came the Hadith, statements made by The Prophet Mohammed, and his close followers that are deemed the Word of God, divine revelations where Sharia acquires its legal basis. Again, the Hadith is a rather archaic form of common and criminal law, and so is sometimes “interpreted” in ways as to address certain situations that were not around during the time of Mohammed (i.e. use of narcotics). As such, the Hadith, a specific set of statements and parables, has become very “adaptable” depending on the region and its socio-economic status, local culture, etc.
Such interpretations have guidelines that must be followed during the process of interpreting Sharia, depending on the Juristic School, it may be qiyas or ijtihad.
Qiyas is a comparison of the Hadith and the Koranic teachings where older case law or juristic precedent, is compared to a new situation not prescribed in current Sharia practices. Analogical reasoning is used to create a new precedent based on what the Koran says and what Hadith dictates about the incident, for future occurrences of same scenario.
Ijtahid is the interpretation of the Koran and the Hadith using...