Harvard Law School has launched a research venture in order to clear up the mysteries and misconceptions surrounding Sharia law.
The programme will be called SHARIAsource, and it will provide a free information database for scholars, policy makers and journalists, according to the Middle East Eye.
Research editor Sharon Tai said: “Islamic law is so often seen as an esoteric and impenetrable base of law. There’s this kind of perception of a lack of logic, because it’s based in theology.
"But actually there is a very clear logic behind it. The way it’s laid out historically, it worked well for the societies in which it was applied.”
But Dr Samy Ayoub, lecturer at the University of Texas, believes: "There isn’t even a universally agreed-upon notion of Sharia law today.
"In Saudi Arabia it is Saudi law, in Egypt it is Egyptian law. This is because we live in a modern nation-state system."
SHARIAsource is also holding scholarly discussions of court cases which have dealt with Sharia law around the world.
The project's blog explains the court cases in the form of stories, in the hope of breaking down their complexity.
Cases on the blog so far include discrimination lawsuits where the judges have ignored Sharia law.
Researcher Will Smiley said that in US courts, Islamic law is rarely applied and he thinks the “intent of the current laws is probably discriminatory, and so is their political effect."