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Sources of the Shariah: Man-made or Divine?

03 October, 2016
Q I have read somewhere that Shari`ah (Islamic Law) is 90 percent man-made. Is that so?? Is there any non-Muslim scholar, who has interpreted the Quran in detail??? If yes, then do provide me with his name and the name of his book.


Salam Dear Naeem,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

I find your question a little disturbing. If you had provided the reference where you read that Shariah (Islamic Law) is ninety percent man-made it would have been possible to refute the actual claim. There is no doubt that Shariah is part of the revelation of Allah.

If we consider the Quran, when it says what means:

{Say [O Muhammad]: “If you [truly] love Allah, follow me! Allah will then love you and forgive your sins.” And Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful.} (Aal `Imran 3:31)

Muslims are being told that we should love Allah more than anyone or anything else. So, if we aspire to this love, we must follow the guidance of Muhammad (peace be upon him) so that Allah may love us and forgive our sins. Allah tells us concerning the love we should have for Him and for His Messenger, what means:

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{Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, your kindred, the wealth you have gained, the commerce in which you fear decline, or the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His cause – then wait until Allah brings about His decision. And Allah guides not the rebellious.}(At-Tawbah 9:24)

The Quran also says what means:

{The Prophet has a higher claim on the believers than [they have on] their own selves.} (Al-Ahzab 33:6)

So, Muslims must love Allah and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more than anyone or anything else in the world. Only then will our faith be complete. It is related in both Al-Bukhari and Muslim, from Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his father, his children and all of mankind.”

When we love somebody, we show our love for that person in how closely we obey their commands; we desire to obey and follow them. For us Muslims, we must obey Allah and His Messenger more than anyone else. Allah has told us in the Quran what means:

{Allah knows best with whom to place His message.} (Al-An`am 6:124)

Allah chose Muhammad (peace be upon him) for the purpose of propagating His message. This is why it is necessary for us to direct our highest love and obedience towards him.

There are many references in the Quran and Sunnah telling us of our obligation to obey Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Al-‘Irbadh bin Sariyah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) exhorted his companions one day after the Fajr Prayer which caused their eyes to shed tears and their hearts to quiver.

So a man said, “This sounds like a final exhortation, so counsel us, O Allah’s Messenger.” He said: “I counsel you to fear and revere Allah, and to listen to and obey [your Muslim ruler] – even if an Ethiopian slave becomes your leader. Those who will live [after me] will see much dissension [among the Muslims]; so adhere to my Sunnah, and the sunnah (way) of the rightly guided successors after me; cling to that with your teeth. Beware of innovations [in the deen (religion)], for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation [from the true guidance]” (At-Tirmidhi – graded as authentic).

It is also obvious from the Quran that we must obey Muhammad (peace be upon him), for it says what means:

{It is not fit for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter, that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has indeed strayed in a clear deviation} (Al-Ahzab 33:36).

Allah is telling us that we have no right to disobey the decisions of Allah and the Prophet (peace be upon him). We cannot neglect to obey the Prophet, because Allah is telling us to obey the Prophet as well as Allah.

The Quran also says what means:

{And We have sent you [Muhammad] as a Messenger to humanity, and Allah is sufficient as a witness. He who obeys the Messenger, has indeed obeyed Allah, but he who turns away, then We have not sent you as a watcher over them.} (An-Nisaa’ 4:79-80).

{“Obey Allah and the Messenger, but if they turn away, then Allah does not like the disbelievers”} (Aal `Imran 3:32).

{And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow, to abide therein, and that will be the great success. And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, and transgresses His Limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein, and he shall have a disgraceful torment} (An-Nisaa’ 4:13-14).

From these passages from the Quran we can see that our success lies in obeying Allah and His Messenger.

The Quran also says what means:

{Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example [to follow] for him who hopes in [the meeting with] Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much} (Al-Ahzab 33:21).

{Whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain [from it]. And fear Allah; certainly, Allah is severe in punishment} (Al-Hashr 59:7).

{Let those who oppose the Messenger’s order beware of a trial to befall them, or a painful torment to be inflicted upon them} (An-Nur 24:63).

In all these examples Allah clearly tells us not to disobey what Muhammad (peace be upon him) has commanded us, that the Prophet is the best example for us and that we must take what he has given us. Why? The Quran explains what means:

{Nor does he speak of [his own] desire. It is no less than revelation sent down to him} (An-Najm 53:3-4).

Here, we see that he (peace be upon him) did not speak of his own desire, but he spoke what was revealed to him by Allah.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not give his own laws and regulations. Whatever he (peace be upon him) says about the religion of Islam is guidance. In all matters of the religion of Islam, he (peace be upon him) was inspired by Allah. Therefore, the Sharia`ah is not man-made, but it is from Allah.

The Shariah is revealed in the Quran. Man does not have the wisdom to lead the whole of humanity in all its complexity. Indeed, the Shariah will remain until the Day of Judgment. Man-made laws are applicable to societies only for a limited time and then they have to be revised or changed. But the laws given by Allah apply to all societies for all time till the Day of Judgment and are not changeable. This shows the tremendous depth of wisdom in these laws which can only come through the guidance of Allah, the Most Wise.

Allah Almighty states what means:

{The truth is from Allah; so be not at all in doubt} (Al-Baqarah 2:147).

This means that truth only comes from Almighty Allah, and it remains the truth, regardless of how humanity might try to conceal, reject, deny or cast doubts upon it. If truth is rejected, truth does not suffer. Only the rejecters will suffer and perish in the end.

Finally, when we say either of the shahaadatain (the two testimonies of faith), it becomes obligatory upon us to give the Prophet (peace be upon him) our complete obedience. Allah has made this very clear in numerous places in the Quran.

The second part of your question: Is there any non-Muslim scholar, who has interpreted the Quran in detail? If yes then do provide me with his name with the name of his book on the interpretation.

By an interpretation in detail I assume you mean a tafseer (explanation), in which case I am unaware of any such interpretation.

Let us be frank, our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said that this knowledge of religion is deen, so we have to be sure of the one from whom we are taking knowledge.

What does this mean?

This means that in matters of the religion of Islam we cannot take knowledge from just anyone, we have to observe what is that person’s practice of the deen and what is his true unadulterated knowledge of the deen, that is, what is their knowledge and practice of Islam? It follows from this, that any interpretation of the Quran by a non-Muslim is simply not valid.

There are many translations of the Quran by non-Muslims, the earliest among them were done by Christian priests; in many of these, the sequence of verses has been changed. There are many translations of the Quran in English by Muslims: e.g. Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, and others. There are many tafseers in English, Urdu and Arabic: Tafhimul Quran by Maulana Maududi; Ma`araf al-Quran by M Shafee; Ibn Kathir’sTafseer; In the Shade of the Quran by Syed Qutb and others.

I hope this answer is satisfactory. Thank you and please keep in touch.


About Daud Matthews
Daud Matthews was born in 1938, he embraced Islam in 1970, and got married in Pakistan in 1973. Matthews studied physics and subsequently achieved Chartered Engineer, Fellow of both the British Computer Society and the Institute of Management.He was working initially in physics research labs, he then moved to computer management in 1971. He lived and worked in Saudi Arabia from 1974 to 1997 first with the University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran,and then with King Saud University in Riyadh. He's been involved in da'wah since 1986.