Shari'a in South Africa
Muslim Personal Law (MPL) is often practised to the detriment of Muslim women in many countries. The Qur'an is a religious text considered by Muslims to be the literal word of God. It is a primary source of Islamic law and contains approximately 80 verses dealing with legal matters, most of which pertain to personal laws of family and inheritance. It is in the areas explicitly referred to by these verses that one finds little or no change in various Muslim countries. The term MPL has been coined by various Muslim countries and jurists because it pertains to, among other subjects, marriage, divorce, inheritance, polygyny, custody and guardianship which fall under the category of family law. Moreover, it is interesting to note that all laws affecting the status of Muslim women have historically been relegated to MPL (private sphere) The Qur'an is separated from the classical formulation of Islamic law or Shari'a by a process of legal development lasting more than two centuries. During this period the Qur'anic norms underwent considerable dilution, often to the detriment of women. It is common for Islamic law, which is the interpretation and application of the primary sources by early Muslims, to be mistaken for Islam itself.