The sharia is a set of traditional laws that define a Muslim's obligations to God and his fellow human beings. Westerners often misunderstand the nature of the sharia, born as it is of a complicated legal and academic tradition that may not always seem relevant to today's world. Written for those unfamiliar with Islam, this volume provides an accurate and objective assessment of the sharia's achievements, shortcomings and future prospects. It explores the fundamentals of Islam and traditional sharia laws. In addition, the sharia is discussed with respect to Ottoman law, puritanism and jihad. The sharia's relevance to today's world events is also explored. Appendices provide Al-Shafi'i's views on legal knowledge; Ibn Hanbal's discourse on marriage and divorce; a Western translation of the concept of jihad; and an analysis of the sharia in twenty-nine selected countries.
Hunt Janin is an American writer living in southwestern France. He has written numerous nonfiction and scholarly books on a range of subjects, including medieval history and cross-cultural studies. Andre Kahlmeyer has a MA degree in Middle Eastern studies and has studied, traveled, worked, and learned Arabic in the Middle East. He now focuses on Middle Eastern issues, working for a developmental aid agency as project officer for Islamic countries.