Islam was revealed at a time when the Arabian Peninsula was in a state of social anarchy. The legislation on which Islam is built transformed this hedonistic pagan society into one based on social justice and morality of the highest order, with tauhid (monotheism) as its fundamental principle.
This study traces the evolution of Islamic legislation (the shari’ah) through six periods.
In this volume, the first three periods are explored, from the first revelation by Allah of the Holy Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, until his death. Then the rule under the four rightly guided caliphs – Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Aliy (may Allah be pleased with them). And finally, the period of the scholars among the successors of the companions of the Prophet known as the Tabi-’in.
Volume two covers the remaining three periods; that of the four famous imams namely; Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi-’iy and Ahmad bin Hambal. They later developed the four major schools of thought in Islam. This era is known as the Golden period of the Islamic legislation since the caliphs granted leeway to those scholars who were qualified to resort to ijtihad (research).
An insight is provided for the establishment of the shari’ah and the various factors considered when the legislation was formulated. Verses expounding peace treaties and the fate of prisoners of war are discussed. The rules of war, the protection of women and children and the elderly are discussed in detail.
The first period focuses on the divine revelation (the Holy Qur’an), the reasons for its intermittent revelation over a period of nearly 23 years, the Meccan and Medinan periods and its explication by Prophet Muhammad.
The second and third periods explore the impact of the rule of the four caliphs on the development of the Islamic Legislation, as well as the introduction of analogical deductions and consensus among the scholars among the Companions, their successors and later scholars. The history of the compilation of the Holy Qur’an into book form and the establishment of the science of sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad are clearly illustrated.
The rise of various sects in Islam and their influence on the shari’ah are further explored as well as the emergence of fabricators of prophetic traditions.
ISLAMIC LEGISLATION (TASHRI’ AL ’ISLAMIY)
The Arabic word Tashri’ is derived from the root word shara’a which means “legislation or to legislate.” In terms of this subject, it infers ” to legislate”. It also infers to establish or discover principles/ rules, the systematic arrangement of rules, the elucidation and presentation of decrees (ahkams) at a level that could be comprehended by the masses and thereby serve as a guide to enhance their spirituality and beliefs. In addition the word shara’a also means:
a) A waterhole where animals drink. The following example conveys the meaning in context.
“The camels drank when they were led to the watering hole/place.”
b) A straight path.
The holy Qur’an also refers to this type of meaning:
“After this we have placed you on a straight path (of ethics), follow it and do not follow the desires of those unknown to you”.