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Islamic Law


The Arabic term for source in Islamic law is dalil (guide).[2] There are two primary sources of Islamic law: Quran and Sunnah. Quran and Sunnah make up Shariah (pathway), the source of all principles of Islamic law.[3]

2. Khan, A.A. et. al. Encyclopaedia of Islamic Law. v.1 Concepts of Islamic Law. New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2006. p.59.

3. Ramadan, H.M. Understanding Islamic Law. Oxford: AltaMira Press, 2006. p.4.


The literal meaning of Quran is that which should be recited, read, or studied and refers to the book embodying the revelation from Allah to Prophet Muhammad[4]. There is only one authentic and uniform text of the Quran in Arabic that is in use throughout the Muslim world. The Arabic text is often found in the English translations, some of which are provided below. However, there are many translations and interpretations (discussed later) of the Arabic text. The leading translations in English[5] are available in print and online.

4. Id., at 11.

5. Kidwai, A.R. Translating the Untranslatable – A Survey of English Translations of the Qur’an. The Muslim World Book Review, Summer 1987.

Online English Translations

Selective list of online translations:


Hadith/Qawliyyah are the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. The following sample searches in a library catalog will yield many collections of hadith. Hadith – texts Hadith -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. The six major Hadith collections listed below were collected by Islamic scholars approximately 200 years after Prophet Muhammad's death. These are listed in order of authenticity.

1. Sahih Bukhari, collected by Imam Bukhari (d. 870), includes 7275 hadiths
a. Bukhari, Muhammad ibn Isma`il and Waheed-uz-Zaman. Sahih Bukhari Sharif. Lahore: Maktabah Rehmaniyah, 1900. 3 vols. in Urdu.
2. Sahih Muslim, collected by Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875), includes 9200
a. Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Qushayri, Abdul Hameed Siddiqui. Sahih Muslim: being traditions of the sayings and doings of the prophet Muhammad as narrated by his companions and compiled under the title al-Jami`-us-sahih. Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1971-1975. 4 vols. in English.
3. Sunan al-Sughra, collected by al-Nasa'i (d. 915)
a. Bayhaqī, Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥusayn. al-Sunan al-ṣaghīr. Karātshī, Bākistān : Jāmi’at al-Dirāsāt al-Islāmīyah, 1989. 4 vols. in Arabic.
4. Sunan Abu Dawood, collected by Abu Dawood (d. 888)
a. Abu Daud Sulayman ibn al-Ash`ath al-Sijistani, Muhammad Mahdi Sharif. Sunan Abu Dawud: the third correct tradition of the Prophetic Sunna = Sunan Abi Dawud. Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, 2008. 5 vols. in English.
5. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, collected by al-Tirmidhi (d. 892)
a. Muhammad ibn `Isá Tirmidhi, `Abd al-Wahhab `Abd al-Latif, `Abd al-Rahman Muhammad `Uthman. Sunan al-Tirmidhi wa-huwa al-Jami` al-sahih. al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah, al-Maktabah al-Salafīyah, 1965-67. 5 vols. in Arabic.
6. Sunan ibn Majah, collected by Ibn Majah
a. Ibn Mājah, Muḥammad ibn Yazīd. Sunan Ibn Mājah. al-Qāhirah : Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1998. 4 vols. in Arabic.


Sunnah is roughly translated as the traditions and practices of Prophet Muhammad. There are three types of Sunnah.

1. The sayings of the Prophet – Sunnah Qawliyyah/Hadith.

2. The actions of the Prophet – Sunnah Al Filiyya.

3. Sunnah Taqrīriyyah, practices prevailing at the time of the Prophet which he did not oppose or prohibit.

Shi'a Hadith

There are also Shi’a Collections of Hadith. A subject search in a library catalog, such as WorldCat, for Hadith (Shiites) will yield many sources. The prominent Shi’a collections include Twelver collections, Ismaili, and Mu’tazili. These can also be used as search terms to locate relevant collections.

There are also bibliographies on Hadith; see Brown, Jonathan A.C.. "Hadith".