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Islamic Legal Systems: Traditional (Saudi Arabia), Contemporary (Bahrain), and Evolving (Pakistan) (From Comparative Criminal Justice: Traditional and Nontraditional Systems of Law and Control, P 390-410, 1996, Charles B Fields and Richter H Moore, Jr, eds. -- See NCJ-161138)

NCJ Number
R H Moore Jr
Date Published
21 pages
This paper examines the legal and judicial systems of three Islamic nations -- Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Pakistan -- as it compares the influence of Islamic law (Shari'a) on each.
From the time of the prophet Muhammad, a practical intent was inherent in the concept of Shari'a. It is a guide to all aspects of life and behavior, spiritual, mental, and physical. All legal and social transactions are subsumed in the Shari'a as a comprehensive abiding principle. The Shari'a originates from two primary sources: the Qur'an, which sets out principles believed to have been revealed by God through Muhammad; and the Sunna, which contains those decisions of Muhammad respecting circumstances not addressed in the Qur'an. For each of the three countries, this study reviews how Shari'a is applied in the courts and judicial procedure. The legal system in Saudi Arabia is the closest of the three to a pure Shari'a legal system, but even it may be changing to meet the needs of modern society. In 1991, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia drafted a Basic Law that has been characterized as "the beginning of an effort to supplement Islamic law to cover areas of modern life not addressed by Shari'a." Bahrain is probably the most modern of the three systems examined. The legal system in Bahrain operates under a code of laws, major sections of which were adapted from other countries. Yet its legal system is conducted exclusively by Muslim judges and has separate religious Shari'a courts to hear the personal disputes of the country's Muslims. Pakistan retains an almost pure British common law legal system that remains from the days of British rule, but this may be returning to a more fundamentalist Islamic orientation. The courts operate in an English mode, and the law applied is basically English, but Pakistan has established a Shari'a court to hear challenges to any law whose compliance with the Qur'an is questioned. A 33-item bibliography


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