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Sharia Law: the understanding and application of the behavior and sharing of economic benefits in the Cham Muslim community in Vietnam


Muslims in the Mekong River Delta are mainly ethnic Cham (one of 54 ethnicities in Viet Nam), living in An Giang Province. They adopted Islam in the early days. This religion has formed Cham characteristics in the community culture different from the Kinh (Vietnamese), Hoa (Chinese), and Khmer ethnic groups in the surrounding areas. This difference is due to the influence of religious views, especially the Islamic Sharia law. In reality, Sharia law is appropriately interpreted from the perspective of Cham Muslims, so it is simpler than the “orthodox” original law. Cham Muslims apply this simple interpretation in their religious life, especially in economic behavior and sharing benefits through their zakat practice. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in An Giang Province, this article analyzes the current understanding of Sharia law in the Cham Muslims community, the application of this understanding in economic behavior, and the fulfillment of zakat duties.

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  1. The Quran source is believed to have been given by Allah to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel for about 23 years, beginning in 609 Common Era (C.E.), when Muhammad was 40 years old, and ending in 632 C.E., the year he died.

  2. The Sunnah contains the religious practices.

  3. The Hadith consists of the statements or practices that the Prophet Muhammad narrated.

  4. Ijma refers to the precedents when the Muslim community cannot find solutions in Qur’an, Sunnah, or Hadith sources.

  5. The five fundamental aspects of the Muslim faith include (1) SHAHADAH: confession of faith and the core of a follower’s faith. Must take an oath that “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet” (La ilaha illa Allah, Mohammad rasul Allah). (2) SALAT is prayer. The follower must pray five times a day at the appointed times in order for the Muslim to maintain his connection with his Creator. (3) SAWM is fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. (4) ZAKAT is almsgiving or considered a religious tax. (5) HAJI is a pilgrimage to Mecca.

  6. The Muslim Community Representative Committee is a religious organization established by the local Muslim community on the recommendation of the state government. It manages the religious activities of the community and liaises with the Muslim community when dealing with the state government. Currently, in Vietnam, there are four Muslim community representative committees in the four regions of Ho Chi Minh City, An Giang Province, Tây Ninh Province, and Ninh Thuận Province.

  7. The Hakim committee.

  8. 1,018,600 VND = 43.9US$

  9. 3000 VND = 0.13US$


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This research is funded by Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) under grant number 603.05-2019.01

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Correspondence to Huynh Ngoc Thu.

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Thu, H.N. Sharia Law: the understanding and application of the behavior and sharing of economic benefits in the Cham Muslim community in Vietnam. Cont Islam (2022).

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  • Sharia law
  • Cham Islamic community
  • Zakat
  • Haram
  • Halal