• University of Edinburgh

The Sharia and Islamic Law: An Introduction

Discover Sharia and Islamic law, and learn more about some of the diverse roles they play in Muslim life.

13,680 enrolled on this course

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  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Gain a fascinating insight into the diversity of Muslim belief and practice

On this ground-breaking course, you’ll work with renowned academics from the University of Edinburgh and other leading universities across the world to explore scholarly perspectives on the Sharia and Islamic law.

This five-week course explores some of the diverse roles that the Sharia and Islamic law have played in Muslim life, both historically and today.

You’ll be encouraged to think critically about the nature of religious law as you explore its many manifestations.

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds What is the Sharia? What are some of the diverse ways that this concept has been understood in different times and places? What is the relationship between the Sharia and Islamic law? What are some of the roles that Islamic law has played in Muslim life, both in the past and today? I’m Dr Andreas Görke, and I am a senior lecturer here at the University of Edinburgh. My colleagues and I would like to invite you to join us on an intellectual journey through the online course, “The Sharia and Islamic Law - An Introduction.” Through this engaging and reflective course, we’ll work together to explore these two concepts. We’ll read from cutting-edge academic texts and watch interviews with leading experts.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds We will watch award-winning documentaries and work through short exercises to help us gain a greater academic understanding of the Sharia and Islamic law and move beyond sensationalist or apologetic headlines, social media posts, and so on. In this course, we will be learning with internationally renowned experts, from both here at the University of Edinburgh and from across the world. This will give students a similar kind of immersive and academically challenging experience that we would provide if we were teaching a course of this kind on campus. Each week we’ll ask questions, such as what do we mean when we say the word “law”? And what do we mean, then, when we say “Islamic law” or use terms like “fatwa”?

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds How does Islamic law relate to the Qur’an? And how did it function historically in Muslim societies? We’ll also discuss more controversial topics, like crime and punishment, the impact of colonialism, and how Islamic law is understood and applied in different parts of the Muslim world today. So if you are someone who would like to learn more about what a word like the “Sharia” has meant for Muslims historically and today, and how it has influenced their daily lives, then this course is for you. My colleagues and I look forward to welcoming you onto this course.

What topics will you cover?

  1. What is Law? What is the Sharia? What is Islamic Law?
  2. How did Islamic Law work in the past and how did Islamic law adapt to social change?
  3. Understandings of justice and the impact of colonialism on Islamic law.
  4. The diverse manifestations of Islamic law in Muslim life today in contexts ranging from Nigeria to Palestine, and from Indonesia to the United Kingdom.
  5. The role of Islamic law in a wide range of human activity, from individual worship to marriage/divorce.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the nature of modern law, and explore the distinctions between secular and religious law.
  • Collaborate with others on broadening your knowledge.
  • Read and reflect on primary sources ranging from prominent poets, popular chat shows, award-winning documentaries, Islamist leaders, and the Qur’an itself.
  • Read and interpret cutting edge research and hear from leading academic experts.
  • Explore some of the controversies surrounding the Sharia and Islamic law in a collegial manner in an academic environment.
  • Assess the impact of colonialism in the Muslim World.
  • Investigate the place of Islamic law in modern sources such as constitutions, and some of the debates over the role of religious law in modern societies.

Who is the course for?

The course is open to anyone interested in learning more about how the Sharia has been understood in Muslim life and law in different parts of the world, both historically and today.

Who will you learn with?

Andreas Görke is Senior Lecturer for Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses mainly on early and classical Islam.

Dr David Warren is an associate research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Washington University in Saint Louis. He writes on Islam, Politics, and Islamic law.

Dr Elvire Corboz is Lecturer in Contemporary Islam and Middle East at the University of Edinburgh, with research interests in contemporary Shi'ism.

Dr. Thallein Antun is a Tutor in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Hanane Benadi is an anthropologist of the Middle East. She received her PhD from the University of Manchester. She is currently an IASH-Alwaleed Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Alwaleed Centre in the University of Edinburgh and convenor of the course Law and Power in the Muslim World.

Who developed the course?

The University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities and is globally recognised for research, innovation and high-quality teaching.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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