Macalester Islam Journal


The relationship between law and morality is such that it is not easy to separate the two concepts. Generally in Islam, law and morality are one and the same, and speaking of them as distinct ideas is not really possible. It is largely a problem of language, in that English distinguishes between law and morality, whereas Arabic does not clearly do so. It is, nevertheless, possible to parse the Shari‘a into aspects that resemble morality and those that resemble law, as Bernard Weiss does in The Search for God’s Law. The Shari‘a is the “totality of ‘divine categorizations of human acts’” (Weiss 1). However, the Shari‘a does not provide clear enough rules to guide behavior, and so must be articulated by Muslim scholars into concrete laws. The result is that Shari‘a comes to represent a theoretical law that cannot alone provide the legal code for a community. Despite the difficulty of separating law and morality within Islam, it is possible to view the Shari‘a as constituting morality and not law.