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The Origins of Islamic Law
Sharia, an Arabic word meaning "the right path," refers to traditional Islamic law. The Sharia comes from the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, which Muslims consider the actual word of God. The Sharia also stems from the Prophet Muhammad's teachings and interpretations of those teachings by certain Muslim legal scholars. Muslims believe that Allah (God) revealed his true will to Muhammad, who then passed on Allah's commands to humans in the Koran.
Since the Sharia originated with Allah, Muslims consider it sacred. Between the seventh century when Muhammad died and the 10th century, many Islamic legal scholars attempted to interpret the Sharia and to adapt it to the expanding Muslim Empire. The classic Sharia of the 10th century represented an important part of Islam's golden age. From that time, the Sharia has continued to be reinterpreted and adapted to changing circumstances and new issues. In the modern era, the influences of Western colonialism generated efforts to codify it.