Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Introduction to Sharia Manual

By umdatalsalik

Umdat as-Salik wa ‘Uddat an-Nasik (Reliance of the Traveller and Tools of the Worshipper, also commonly known by its shorter title Reliance of the Traveller) is a classical manual of fiqh for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence. Yes, Traveller with two Ls. The author of the main text is Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, who based his work on the previous Shafi’i works of Imam Nawawi and Imam Abu Ishaq as-Shirazi. This work consists of the soundest positions of the Shafi’i school.

The book was translated by the American Muslim scholar Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller in 1991 and became the first translation of a standard Islamic legal reference in a Europeanlanguage to be certified by Al-Azhar. 

The Shafi‘i school is followed throughout the Ummah and is the official school of thought of most traditional scholars and leading Sunni authorities. It is also recognized as the official school of thought by the governments of Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia. In addition, the government of Indonesia uses this madhab/mazhab for the Indonesian compilation ofsharia law.

It is the dominant school of thought of Palestinian TerritoriesUnited Arab Emirates,ChechnyaKurdistanEgyptDjiboutiEritreaSomaliaSudanMaldivesSingapore,MalaysiaBrunei Darussalam and Indonesia.

It is also practised by large communities in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, KuwaitSaudi Arabia (in the Hejaz and Asir), Israel, the Swahili CoastMauritiusSouth AfricaThailand,VietnamCambodia, the PhilippinesSri LankaEthiopiaKazakhstan (by Chechens) and Indian States of Kerala(most of the Mappilas), Karnataka (BhatkalMangalore and Coorg districts) , Maharashtra (by Konkani Muslims) and Tamil Nadu. (Wikipedia)

The purpose of this blog is to show to Muslims and non-Muslims alike what sharia law has been like for the past 1400 years. Since it is immutable, it is also what we can expect to be applied in years to come.

Not many Muslims know the laws they have unwittingly subscribed to and certainly not many non-Muslims are aware of them. Especially with so many conflicting claims in the media and among society in general as to what sharia actually is, we hope we can enlighten them both.  This is not an academic exercise, just an attempt to share the truth.

In this sharia manual (r14.0 p 751), the prophet of Islam himself declared that explaining the Koran/Qur’an by personal opinion is ‘in error.’ Also… ‘as for would be exegets who do not know the dimensions of Arabic, the figurative, literal and the types of metaphor, it is not permissible for them to explain it beyond what they have heard, by way of reporting and not actual interpretation .. whoever does not know which verses abrogate others and which are abrogated …  is not safe from error if he interprets the Quran …’

That is exactly what we are trying to do here. Not giving out personal opinions, but merely showing what sharia law actually says.

This Reliance is not the only handbook of Islamic law, though it is the most popular. Others are generally less detailed in some matters. Al-Hedaya is not as easy to read but it explains the differences between Shafi’ite and Hanifi fiqh. 

Parts of the Umdat al Salik in pdf form can be found here:

See also Sharia for non-Muslims in this separate blog:

or go to Bill Warner’s condensed sharia for Non-Muslims:

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