This article reveals new thinking about the meaning of shari’a (roughly translated as Islamic law) in the everyday lives of Muslims. Proposals to ban shari’a, adopted across the United States and overseas, beg the question, “what is shari’a?” Varied individual Mulsim responses to that question appear in this article. Research is based on two years of fieldwork and more than 100 semi-structured interviews conducted by a University of California-based research team. Themes of daily guidance, family, social justice, equality and inequality, Islamic living, excessively legalistic codes, and more emerge from the narratives of identity and of learning religious values and unlearning media-driven stereotypes.

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