Sumbul Ali-Karamali

Award-Winning Author and Speaker

Demystifying Shari'ah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It's Not Taking Over Our Country

Demystifying Shari'ah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It's Not Taking Over Our Country
Published by Beacon Press

In 2010, a growing number of anti-shariʻah activists began amassing and depositing the word “shariʻah” (or “sharia”) as a scare word into the public discourse. “Anti-shariʻah” protests started infesting towns throughout the United States and Europe, despite no evidence of any imposition of shariʻah – as puzzling as if Americans suddenly began protesting the Martian occupation of Earth.


This anti-shariʻah movement was nothing spontaneous, but a deliberate misinformation campaign to appropriate Islamic academic terms and redefine them to frighten non-Muslims, alienate Muslim Americans and Europeans, and portray Islam as incompatible with the Constitution.


But what is shariʻah? If it’s as draconian and oppressive as the anti-shariʻah activists say, then how can 1.6 billion people abide by it? If it requires the oppression of women, then why have at least thirteen Muslim women been presidents or prime ministers in recent decades? If it requires violence, then why haven’t Muslims – nearly a quarter of the world’s population – taken over the world by now?  


This book explains shariʻah, how it operates in the lives of Muslims, and what it means in terms of law. How do Muslims engage with shariʻah? What does it have to do with our Constitution? How did it develop and why was its development disrupted? What does it have to do with the way the world looks like today? And why do we all – Muslims or not – need to care?


Sumbul Ali-Karamali draws on scholarship and her degree in Islamic law to explain shariʻah in an accessible, engaging narrative style, illustrating clear explanations with personal anecdotes. This is no book of abstract religious law! It’s shariʻah, Islam, and Muslims described by a Muslim American in her real-world context, with compassion, irony, and humor.

March 1, 2019