Where does sharia come from?

Q&A from All Experts, with a couple of minor modifications from Abu Daoud:

Question:

Hi

From where does Sharia Law originate?

Steve

Answer:

What is commonly referred to as the Sharia or Islamic Law is [also] called Fiqh, that is Jurisprudence, by Muslims. Sharia as in itself refers only to the notion of rightfullness or lawfulness.

As a [legal] system, Islamic Law started to take shape from the 8th century onwards. Numerous Muslim scholars started to become concerned with devising unified and structured ways of setting rules for Muslims' conduct of life. Within the Sunni tradition four so-called Schools of Law have survived until today. They are referred by the names of their alleged founders (although in real practice it was a dragged-out process [that] involved scores of scholars over generations).

These four schools are the Hanafi School (afer Abu Hanifa), the Maliki School (after Malik ibn Anas), the Shafi'i School (after al-Shafi'i) and Hanbali School (after Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

All four schools are considered orthodox and the differences between them is more in the accents they place on proper sources of jurisprudence than the contents of law as such.

All four schools recognize that the following are the sources for Islamic Law:

- Qur'an
- Hadith (validated stories containing the traditions of the prophet)
- Ijma' (consensus of the legal scholars)
- qiyas (individual reasoning by analogy)

The Hanafi school is generally regarded as the one that has allowed widest room for the individual opinions of legal scholars. The founder of the Shafi'i school is generally regarded as the one who initiated this process of structuring the jurisprudence process, qiyas methods were developed in great detail. The Malikis tend to place a great emphasis on the significance of hadith (it originated in Medina, the city where the Prophet spend the last ten years of his life), the Hanbali school could be regarded as a kind of 'regression' because it contends that only Qu'ran and Hadith are valid sources of law.

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