• University of Edinburgh

The Sharia and Islamic Law: An Introduction

Join us for an introduction to the 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 an insight into some of the diversity of Muslim belief and practice

In this ground-breaking new course, students will 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, encouraging students to think critically about the nature of religious law and its many manifestations.

Skip to 0 minutes and 16 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 David Warren and I’m a research fellow here at the University of Edinburgh. My colleagues and I would like you to invite you to join us

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds on an intellectual journey through this online course: “The Sharia and Islamic Law: An Introduction” During this engaging and reflective course, we will work together to explore these two concepts. We will read from cutting edge academic texts and watch interviews with leading experts. We will watch new 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.

Skip to 1 minute and 17 seconds In this course, we will be learning with internationally renowned academic experts from both here at the University of Edinburgh and from across the world to give students the similar kind of immersive and academically challenging experience that we would provide if we were teaching a course of this kind to undergraduates in a university setting. Each week, we will 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? How does Islamic Law relate to the Qur’an, and how did it function historically in Muslim society?

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds We will also discuss more controversial topics, like crime and punishment, and the impact of colonialism, and how Islamic law is understood and applied in 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 some of the diverse roles that different understandings of Islamic law play in Muslim lives, then this course is for you. My colleagues and I look forward to welcoming you on to the 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 northern Nigeria to Palestine, to 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?

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. Barry is a visiting scholar at UoE. With training in Islamic theology and law, he served as Imam of Edinburgh Central Mosque. He is the founder and director of the Olive Tree Madrasah in Edinburgh

Tazeen M. Ali is PhD candidate at Boston University who specializes in Islam, gender, and religion in the United States.

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

Dr. Giulia Liberatore is a research fellow and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. An anthropologist by training, she teaches and writes about Islam, gender and religious diversity in Europe.

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

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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Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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