noun, often capitalized
sha·​ria | \ shə-ˈrē-ə How to pronounce sharia (audio) \
variants: or less commonly shari'a or shariah or shari'ah

Definition of sharia

: Islamic law based on the Koran

Examples of sharia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Despite Washington’s best efforts, Americans grasp the difference between (a) Islam as a personal religious affiliation and (b) sharia supremacism as an anti-Western political ideology. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "No One Really Wants to ‘Send Her Back’," 20 July 2019 The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile and established an Islamic State, based on sharia law. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: A war with Iran must be avoided; strong views on what to do about TABOR (6/30/19)," 30 June 2019 Since 2011, the insurgent group based in northern Nigeria has sought to recast that country as a state based on sharia, or Islamic law. Robert Draper, National Geographic, "Surrounded by chaos, Niger is a nation on the edge," 17 June 2019 The supervisory body is also promoting awareness of sharia products: a survey in 2016 found that only 6.6% of Indonesians understood them. The Economist, "The world’s biggest Muslim country wants to boost sharia finance," 10 May 2018 Hooligans may be disappointed: Iran enforces sharia at its resorts, including a ban on alcohol. The Economist, "The Gulf and the gameQatar may ask Iran for help in hosting the World Cup," 16 Jan. 2018 Although Nigeria’s northern states have long enforced sharia, or Islamic law, their interpretation was not strict enough for Yusuf. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 July 2018 Graffiti praises Osama bin Laden and urges rule by Islamic sharia law. Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, "U.S. airstrikes are pounding the group in Yemen, yet the militants fight on fiercely," 6 July 2018 They are appalled by its sharia punishments and mistreatment of women, and scared by its Wahhabi form of Islam, which has fed gruesome jihadist ideologies such as that of Islamic State. The Economist, "How to ensure Muhammad bin Salman’s reforms succeed," 23 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sharia.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sharia

1855, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sharia

Arabic sharīʽa

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Last Updated

8 Aug 2019

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The first known use of sharia was in 1855

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English Language Learners Definition of sharia

: the religious laws based on the Koran that Muslims follow

More from Merriam-Webster on sharia

Britannica English: Translation of sharia for Arabic Speakers

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a usually brief trip or an expedition

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