As is commonly understood, Islamic law or Sharia is practised by individual Muslims, and encompasses the practices of ritual as well as social interaction. Islam teaches that, in the hereafter, every Muslim will be held responsible for their own deeds: if they follow Allah and the Prophet’s guidance then they will enter paradise; otherwise they will be sent to hell. It must be understood that Sharia applies first in the daily life of individual Muslims. However, this does not mean that Islamic law has not been institutionalized into different forms ranging from state admin- istration to Islamic non-governmental organizations. Islamic law, there- fore, operates at both private and public levels. Islamic law is a dynamic force in both public and private spheres, but outsiders most often observe its dynamic nature in Islamic institutions, rather than from the actions of individual Muslims. A pertinent example of the strength of Islamic institutions can be seen in the Western media’s misapplication of concepts associated with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, which has led some people in the West to think that their actions are truly representative of Islam.
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