What Are the Differences Between Islamic Law and Common Law?

Muslim nations represent over 20% of the world’s population. There are 35 Muslim-majority nations and 20 with significant minority populations. The difference between Islamic and common law is more than surface-level. Islam teaches that deception is morally wrong and penalizes the perpetrator by paying compensation. Islamic law affects trade relations between merchants. It also approaches contracts differently in treaties between authorities and individuals.

In common law, the concept of maslaha allows expansive reading of the textual sources, while Islamic law gives particular attention to the role of victims. Moreover, both traditions recognize the role of victims in the justice system. As a result, both systems place great importance on fairness and human dignity. Islamic law is a complex system of laws that aims to serve and protect the rights of victims.

Although common law is generally based on social customs, it does not apply universally. Each Islamic legal system negotiates the relationship between religious and secular forces. Because of this, each Islamic legal system has found its own balance between secular and Islamic law. Powell interviewed Muslims to learn more about their court culture and their understanding of Islamic law. While common law differs from Islamic law in some aspects, it is rooted in the same religious heritage.

Islamic law was developed in the Middle East during the late middle ages. It was not based on judicial precedent and did not give judges general law-making powers. However, Islamic law of the thirteenth century bears important resemblances to the common law. It was literal common law that applied to all humans without distinction. In Islamic law, a person must follow the ruling of the Prophet Muhammad.

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