The constitutions of many Muslim-majority countries contain clauses that declare sharīʿa a source of legislation. These “sharīʿa clauses” may name sharīʿa as “a chief source,” “the chief source,” or “the only source,” among others, of national laws. Though the phrasing of these clauses seems quite similar, some scholars and government officials have ascribed importance to the differences between them. By examining the history of sharīʿa clauses, one can gain an understanding of why they are written and how they are interpreted. Using these insights, it is possible to analyze the ways in which sharīʿa clauses interact with liberal ideas about governance and about the role of religion in law. This post provides a “plain English” review of the following article: Clark B. Lombardi, “Constitutional Provisions Making Sharīʿa ‘A’ or ‘The’ Chief Source of Legislation: Where Did They Come From? What Do They Mean? Do They Matter?,” American University International Law Review 28, 3 (2013), pp. 733–774.
Contributed by Alicia Daniel.