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But the foundation of the were responsible for giving effect to a growing corpus of Umayyad administrative and fiscal law; and since they regarded themselves essentially as the spokesmen of the local law, elements and institutions of Roman-Byzantine and Persian-Sāsānian law were absorbed into Islamic legal practice in the conquered territories.
Depending upon the discretion of the individual , decisions would be based upon the rules of the Qurʾān where these were relevant; but the sharp focus in which the Qurʾānic laws were held in the Medinian period had become lost with the expanding horizons of activity.
(God) is the fundamental tenet of Islam: Islamic law is therefore the expression of Allah’s command for Muslim society and, in application, constitutes a system of duties that are incumbent upon a Muslim by virtue of his religious belief.
Known as the Sharīʿah (literally, “the path leading to the watering place”), the law constitutes a divinely ordained path of conduct that guides Muslims toward a practical expression of religious conviction in this world and the goal of divine favour in the world to come.
How can the traditional Sharīʿah law be adapted to meet the changing circumstances of modern Muslim society? Qurʾānic revelations laid down basic standards of conduct.
But the Qurʾān is in no sense a comprehensive legal code.
Thus Ḥanafī law came to predominate in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent; Mālikī law in North, West, and Central Africa; Shāfiʿī law in East Africa, the southern parts of the Arabian peninsula, Malaysia, and Indonesia; Ḥanbalī law in Saudi Arabia, Shīʿite law in Iran and the Shīʿite communities of India and East Africa; Ibāḍī law in Zanzibar, ʿUman, and parts of Algeria.No more than 80 verses deal with strictly legal matters; while these verses cover a wide variety of topics and introduce many novel rules, their general effect is simply to modify the existing Arabian customary law in certain important particulars.During his lifetime Muhammad, as the supreme judge of the community, resolved legal problems as they arose by interpreting and expanding the general provisions of the Qurʾān, and the same ad hoc activity was carried on after his death by the caliphs (temporal and spiritual rulers) of Medina.Sharīʿah law is a candidly pluralistic system, the philosophy of the equal authority of the different schools being expressed in the alleged dictum of the Prophet: “Difference of opinion among my community is a sign of the bounty of Allah.” But outside the four schools of Sunni, or orthodox, Islam stand the minority sects of the Shīʿite Ibāḍīs whose own versions of the Sharīʿah differ considerably from those of the Sunnis.Shīʿite law in particular grew out of a fundamentally different politico-religious system in which the rulers, or imams, were held to be divinely inspired and therefore the spokesmen of the Lawgiver himself.
It served first as a permissive principle to admit the validity of variant opinions as equally probable attempts to define the Sharīʿah.