The image of Sharia


The initial Corpus:


Sharia law is a legal system based on the Quran, Hadith and the Sunna; the teachings and ways of the prophet. As a legal system it has been painted as a rigid and impossible system as the law is based on religious text.  However most of the rulings come from  a practice of Ijithad that determines the cases with different levels of acceptability and unacceptability.

These terms used are :

 Fard فرض : Obligation

mustahabb مستحب : recommended

mubah مباح: neutral

makruh مكروه: discouraged/unfavored

haraam حرام: Forbidden

Using these key terms I wish to create a textual Analysis to see their frequency of appearance within the text and then see if there are other recurring terms that gives insight to the context to their frequency.

 My aim is to indicate that Sharia is not as rigid as many seem to perceive it to be. Moreover I wished to create the ability to go through texts that  can create a comparison of the different school of thoughts using a specific case.

My initial corpus was too broad in terms of using sources, and I had difficulty trying to compile the different opinions about one case. Moreover the example text I wished to start with needed to be digitised and also required a lot of time consumption I could not commit.

Current Corpus:

The current corpus still involves Sharia but instead of using the actual sources text to tackle perceptions, I used different online news articles that refer to the text.

The three articles used for the corpus are :

All three articles are attained after I googled the word Sharia Law.  Some articles are dated and some articles never even refer to the word “Sharia Law”. All articles tie their topic to a specific location. The locations are all described as muslim countries. After finding the articles I use the Voyant tools to create a textual analysis.

Defining Sharia’s role in the UAE’s legal foundation.

The first Article is based in the UAE, written by Diane Hamid a lawyer based in Dubai. The article directly addresses the legal system within the UAE and how Sharia is incorporated.

Volant gives the results in a graphic format. The most frequent words expressed by ” bubble lines” that indicate the presence in the different parts of the article.

Most frequent words in the corpus: law (18); sharia (17); uae (14); islamic (12); legal (7)


In this article, sharia as a term is used throughout but in incremental in comparison to Law that decreases as the article comes to a conclusion.


The visual presentation of the text takes away the context of the article and reveals how the relationship between the different terms differently. Law and Sharia are inversely proportional so whenever Sharia is mentioned in the article, the terminology of law is not present in the same frequency. The same can be said for the terms Legal and Islamic. The terms Sharia and Islamic seems to be parallel for the most part . The same would go for UAE and Law and legal. This indicates that the author maybe creating a dichotomy of two in relation to the legal system of the UAE.

The second article is written by Jon Boone for the guardian. The article is presented in the category labeled as Pakistan. The article is more specific  as it is about a custom, Honour Killings, that has been criminalised by the legal system in Pakistan.

by Jon Boone  (2016)

The frequent words in the article: honour (7); law (7); killings (5); new (5); passed (5), Sharia



The relatively between words indicate that Law and Honour killings are not in relation with each other. Moreover the word Sharia is not even extremely apparent within the article. Through Voyant we see that Sharia is barely mentioned in reference to the new law and the nature of the custom being punished.

The last article is a New York Time post that is about A Saudi moral enforcer facing death threats after stating his opinion on Liberal Islam.

by Ben Hubbard (2016)


The last article has no relation to Sharia Law as indicated by the world bubble above. However through he search tools, this article appeared relevant when “Sharia Law”has been typed. This indicates that maybe the meta data of the article is more relevant to the search rather than the article itself.

The article’s most frequent words as indicated above happens to be “said”. This could indicate that resources that the writer infers for this information is through opinions of people more than facts .




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