Practicing Law as a Muslim


Ml Yusuf Karaan

14 June 2023


What is the Ḥukm (ruling) on being a lawyer in the Shāfiʿī madh-hab?


السلام عايكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Contemporary scholars have mentioned that it is normally impermissible for a Muslim to take his case before a secular court when an Islamic court is available. Only when the latter is unavailable can he do so. This is the situation that many Muslims around the world have found themselves in, and as a result, the legal profession has also become one of necessity, as Muslims require capable and trustworthy representatives in these secular courts.

Guidelines are provided for one practicing secular law, as follows:

  • He should remain firm in belief that the law he practices is not the true law of Allah, and ensure he never raises a case before a secular court except as a last resort.
  • He should ensure his case has no consummate, overarching contradiction to Islamic Law. This would further require him to have some Islamic expertise—or be able to consult someone with such knowledge—in order to distinguish whether his client is not in the wrong according to Sharʿī standards.
  • He should ensure his case is truthful, though this is of course dependent on information provided by the client. If he believes his client to be in the wrong, it is then his duty to counsel them in yielding their claim, and he may not represent them in such a case.
  • There should be no alternative system in place by the ʿulamā of that region to deal with the case, e.g., marriage, divorce, and inheritance matters can be settled by ʿulamā organisations, without having to take them up in courts. Only when these are absent, or an involved party refuses to yield to scholarly authority (as does occur in many secular countries) should such cases be raised to the courts.

Furthermore, there are areas of law where little to no contradiction exists between the secular and Islamic, which should not be solely left to non-Muslim hands to dictate and regulate.

وﷲ تعالى أعلم

And Allah knows best

Y Karaan
DUAI Fatwa Department