Beacon Press: Demystifying Shariah
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Demystifying Shariah

What It Is, How It Works, and Why It’s Not Taking Over Our Country

Author: Sumbul Ali-Karamali

A direct counterpoint to fear mongering headlines about shariah law—a Muslim American legal expert tells the real story, eliminating stereotypes and assumptions with compassion, irony, and humor

Through scare tactics and deliberate misinformation campaigns, anti-Muslim propagandists insist wrongly that shariah is a draconian and oppressive Islamic law that all Muslims must abide by. They circulate horror stories, encouraging Americans to fear the “takeover of shariah” law in America and even mounting “anti-shariah protests” . . . . with zero evidence that shariah has taken over any part of our country. (That’s because it hasn’t.) It would be almost funny if it weren’t so terrifyingly wrong—as puzzling as if Americans suddenly began protesting the Martian occupation of Earth.

Demystifying Shariah explains that shariah is not one set of punitive rules or even law the way we think of law—rigid and enforceable—but religious rules and recommendations that provide Muslims with guidance in various aspects of life. Sumbul Ali-Karamali draws on scholarship and her degree in Islamic law to explain shariah in an accessible, engaging narrative style—its various meanings, how it developed, and how the shariah-based legal system operated for over a thousand years. She explains what shariah means not only in the abstract but in the daily lives of Muslims. She discusses modern calls for shariah, what they mean, and whether shariah is the law of the land anywhere in the world. She also describes the key lies and misunderstandings about shariah circulating in our public discourse, and why so many of them are nonsensical.

This engaging guide is intended to introduce you to the basic principles, goals, and general development of shariah and to answer questions like: How do Muslims engage with shariah? What does shariah have to do with our Constitution? What does shariah have to do with the way the world looks like today? And why do we all—Muslims or not—need to care?
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“An engaging, elegant, and accessible book on a subject everyone needs to understand. With clarity, compassion, and even humor, Sumbul Ali-Karamali explains shariah in a relatable narrative format, far from abstract, and guaranteed to resonate with those interested in separating the truth about shariah from all the myths and tall tales circulating in the public discourse.”
—Reza Aslan, author of God: A Human History

“Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s Demystifying Shariah is an extraordinary, much-needed book and a great read. It tackles a controversial and misunderstood topic: shariah and its role in Muslim life. Critically, Demystifying Shariah is based on the author’s expertise in shariah and Islamic law, as well as much of the best scholarship available today. But Ali-Karamali’s genius is her ability to tackle a controversial subject and explain it in a clear and engaging style, making the book a pleasure to read not only by policymakers and media but also an educated general public.”
—John L. Esposito, Georgetown University, author of The Future of Islam


Demystifying Shariah

ISBN: 978-080703800-0
Publication Date: 5/5/2020
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $22.95
Format: Cloth
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: May 2020
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