Understanding Sharia: Islamic Law in a Globalised World
Raficq S. Abdulla and Mohamed M Keshavjee
I.B.Tauris in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, £29.50
Sharia law is an enigma to most in the UK legal profession and the general public. We may question what basis it has in the UK, what are its principles, and how it can be compatible with secular laws. This book does not set out to answer all these questions, but it will equip the reader with a foundation for understanding sharia law.
The book is aimed at Muslims and non-Muslims alike, setting out the history of sharia law from the inception of Islam in the 7th century to the considerations of modern society. Clearly defined chapters cover ethics, sharia finance, legal theory, conflict resolution, human rights and criminal justice. Contentious areas such as divorce, family and conflicts with western ethics are all discussed.
The book concludes with a critique that provides food for thought and ultimately suggests that sharia can be adapted, without losing its essence, to contemporary legal systems.
The authors, both non-practising British-trained barristers and well-regarded scholars, keep the text light and provide a useful (neutral) critique of sharia law that enables readers to reflect on its role in modern society. This is essential reading for those who want to understand the doctrines of sharia law, to better recognise what it means to clients who would prefer to follow it, and the differences between the forms of sharia law practised by the many denominations of Islam.
Naureen Shariff is a senior solicitor at Blackfords LLP, London