We currently have tags and which are used unpredictably.

Question: Which questions should be tagged "sharia" and/or "fiqh"?

The tag wiki excerpts just define what "sharia" and "fiqh" mean, which is against the guidance:

Avoid generically defining the concept behind a tag, unless it is highly specialized. The “email” tag, for example, does not need to explain what email is. I think we can safely assume most internet users know what email is; there’s no value in a boilerplate explanation of email to anyone.

I'm confident the user who wants to learn about sharia/fiqh, does not want a list of "is XYZ halal?" questions. But precisely what should be tagged is not immediately clear.

Here's some examples:

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  • On what basis of interpretation do you want to differentiate between them? Islamic definitions of sharia and fiqh do not match what the media uses, nor what the tags on this site use either. Most people use sharia to mean law, when actually fiqh is more like law. If you examine most of the traditional topical taxonomies (e.g., IslamQA, or IslamWeb), you will not find sharia being one of the classification titles used. – III-AK-III Sep 9 '17 at 13:52
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    @III-AK-III: That's basically my question, except: "On what basis of interpretation do we want to differentiate between them?" – Rebecca J. Stones Sep 11 '17 at 5:57

Defining the terms and a try to point at issues

This is my understanding, please correct me if I'm wrong or comment (edit/suggest) if you think I should go in details or add some details:

  • Shari'a is the law of Allah (and therefore considered as true) which basically is compiled in the copies of the qur'an. One could add established or approved (authentic) sunnah to that. Sharia also encompasses daily transactions, customs, habits, fiqh, and 'ibadat, in addition to law.
    -> shari'a is more general (and conceptual, with little or no specifics about context) and shouldn't be tagged solely -at least not that often-!

  • Fiqh is the application of the law or more exactly the science on the interpretation of the texts and extractions of verdicts (and therefore considered as error-prone as it is ijtihad) based on the sources of the law or jurisprudence school (osol al-fiqh). Here one may rely on more than the qur'an and sunnah.
    Before declaring this as a synonym of we must understand that fiqh often is more than that: see for example the issue of inheritance ... Also in fiqh we may present options and solutions: What to do if one missed a prayer on time, what to do if one was traveling and wants to pray ...
    -> fiqh is more specific and deals with our every day issues!

So a question on a verdict is basically a question on fiqh .

A question on what the law (or Islam) says is a question on shari'a .


Lately I started editing and re-tagging questions based on my suggested solution and noticed that I forgot another reason for using the which is mentioning the keyword "sharia" in the question. Which applies to many of the given questions which in some cases address "shari'a" directly, but also -due to lack of knowledge- indeed address fiqh topics.

Comments on your example questions:

  • Based on the question titles questions 1, 2 and even questions 1, 2 could be tagged sharia! Even if both questions would hardly have a background in the quran or sunnah and are issues of ijtihad->!
  • Question example 2 however seems more likely to be handeled as a fiqh question by most of those whom answered it.
  • On the other hand the content of question example 1 sounds more like a shari'a question.

Another example

I don't know whether I am pure? How to cure it? which is tagged

When I wear underwear, my penis when rises a bit..it gets tackled in my underwear and semen is released...
Is it a sin? Am I Pure? Do I have to take ghusl? What can I do to cure this?

Basically taharah is the first chapter in almost all fiqh books (it is not something which one would refer to shari'a in first place). The issue in this question is the question: "Is it a sin?"
This is basically the (lonely ?) strongest intersection between shari'a and fiqh in the whole question.
Those who say it is a sin or not without explaining the fiqh point of view interpret it generally (from a shari'a perspective). Of course those are not answering the question fully While most of the questions in the post are clearly referring to fiqh!

Basically this is a dilema, as both fiqh and shari'a are strongly related especially in our understanding!

As if a question asks about what does Islam say about "X" or "halal-haram"-questions (if a general ruling in the means of what does Islam say about ...), users have the law in mind (as most don't make a distinction between shari'a and the jurisprudence and verdicts) not a special verdict!

The main distinction is that second option ( alone without any other legal tag like or even maybe , ) should therefore rarely -or better not at all- be tagged!

Suggested solution

Therefore we have the following options:

  • Edit tags wherever it is appropriate -> qeneral question / question about Islam -> (I guess that means we will keep all of them), if it is a special or detail of a ruling -> .
  • Check whether the content is suggesting it is about fiqh or shari'a and correct the tag.
  • Check what other tags are quoted and if possible edit them.
  • If there's a clear mismatch between title/content/chosen tag consider -at least- editing one of them. For example: if we edited the content of the question i used as an example to:

    When I wear underwear, my penis when rises a bit..it gets tackled in my underwear and semen is released...
    Am I Pure? Do I have to take ghusl? What can I do to cure this? Is it considered as a sin by any scholars?

    we could clearly put a emphasize on the obviously dominant "fiqh" content and could easily edit or replace the tags.

  • We should also consider editing the tag excerpts and infos so that any attentive user may think twice in order to use the most appropriate tag! You may take a look at the actual formulation at the bottom of this post!

  • There's also an other option: We could also consider posting a question about how to differ between both and take that as a guidline

excerpt: Sharia الشريعة (Islamic Law) based on the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah.

info: Sharia law (Arabic: شريعة‎ šarīʿah, IPA: [ʃaˈriːʕa], "legislation"; sp. shariah, sharīʿah;1 also Islamic law, قانون إسلامي qānūn ʾIslāmī) is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting. Though interpretations of sharia vary between cultures, in its strictest definition it is considered the infallible law of God—as opposed to the human interpretation of the laws (fiqh).

There are two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Where it has official status, sharia is interpreted by Islamic judges (qadis) with varying responsibilities for the religious leaders (imams). For questions not directly addressed in the primary sources, they extend the application of sharia through consensus of the religious scholars (ulama) thought to embody the consensus of the Muslim Community (ijma). Islamic jurisprudence will also sometimes incorporate analogies from the Quran and Sunnah through qiyas, though Shia jurists prefer reasoning ('aql) to analogy.

This is clearly and mostly contradictory to my definition from above! And IMO clearly confounds fiqh with shari'a, as a qadi is applying shari'a (based on fiqh!). And when we speak about osol-al-fiqh we somehow moved from shari'a to fiqh, so basically ~50% of the info is off-topic!

excerpt: Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct (Sharia) expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition (Sunnah) and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists.

Fiqh (Arabic: فقه‎ [fiqh]) is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct (Sharia) expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition (Sunnah) and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists.

Fiqh deals with the observance of rituals, morals and social legislation in Islam. There are four prominent schools (madh'hab) of fiqh within Sunni practice and two within Shi'a practice. A person trained in fiqh is known as a Faqih (plural Fuqaha).

The word fiqh is an Arabic term meaning "deep understanding" or "full comprehension". Technically it refers to the body of Islamic law extracted from detailed Islamic sources (which are studied in the principles of Islamic jurisprudence) and the process of gaining knowledge of Islam through jurisprudence.

The info could be more beneficial with some editing and elaboration!

Update 01 2018

I've changed/shortened/edited the two tag-wiki's. I must add that this still may need improvement, but I tried to clarify the meaning without totally re-editing both. Feel free to re-edit it if you can!

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    "The main distinction is that second option (sharia alone without any other legal tag like halal-haram or even fiqh maybe quran, sunnah) should therefore rarely -or better not at all- be tagged!" <-- This makes sharia sound like a meta tag. Do you have any examples of questions that would work with only sharia as a tag? – goldPseudo Sep 15 '17 at 17:44
  • @goldPseudo what does Islam say about drinking alcohol? What does Islam say about X questions could fit however one may add halal-haram, but that's my first thought, and maybe somebody may contradict me with a stronger argumentation. – Medi1Saif Sep 15 '17 at 19:16
  • @goldPseudo Sharia is conceptual, while fiqh is contextual. Sharia only: "Is riba allowed?" → No. Fiqh: "I (context: who) have a bank account with fixed interest rate (context: what). Is this interest considered riba?" → Yes; therefore not allowed. I personally think very few questions would be sharia-only questions. – III-AK-III Sep 16 '17 at 11:00

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