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a system of law that evolved under the Arab caliphate between the seventh and tenth centuries, consisting essentially of rules of conduct for believers and sanctions, usually religious, for nonfulfillment of these precepts.
Islamic law only governs relations between Muslims. However, even in those Asian and African countries where the bulk of the population is Muslim and Islamic law is accorded great respect, Islamic law is generally supplemented by other laws and customs and has been codified and adapted in accordance with new social structures. Therefore, it is more correct to distinguish between religious Islamic law and the law of Islamic states.
The al-Majallah, a codification of the obligational and procedural norms of Islamic law, was promulgated between 1869 and 1877. It was the civil legal code of the Ottoman empire and subsequently of Turkey until 1926, Lebanon until 1932, Syria until 1949, and Iraq until 1951. The code has been partially retained in Jordan, Israel, and Cyprus.
From the second half of the 19th century, Muslim countries adopted criminal, commercial, procedural, and other legal codes, based partly on borrowings from the law of Western European countries. Islamic law played a regulatory role in family, inheritance, and certain other relations. These aspects of Islamic law have been codified in special laws in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, India, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Turkey rejected Islamic law in its entirety in 1926. In some Arab countries and in India, Pakistan, and Indonesia, Islamic law has remained in effect in codified form in matters concerning the personal status of Muslims and in some matters relating to non-Muslims. In the constitutions of some Arab countries, Islamic law is acknowledged as the basis of jurisprudence; its application is permitted in civil law and other branches of the law, and sharia courts have been preserved. Islamic law is also applied as customary law in some countries of East and Central Africa.