Country Profile: United States of America

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the United States of America, based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under the United States Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status.

Country Background

The United States is located in North America. It is bounded by the North Atlantic Ocean, the North Pacific Ocean, Canada, and Mexico. The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C. The United States does not have an official language, but English has acquired official status in 31 of the 50 states. Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii. The country’s population in 2016 was approximately 324 million. The United States is a predominantly Christian country.

Constitution & Legal Structure

The United States is referred to as a constitutional federal republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The system of government is common law based on English common law at the federal level. State legal systems are also based on common law except for Louisiana, which is based on Napoleonic civil code. The principles of separation and checks and balances are consolidated in the three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in the United States.

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in the United States.

Dominant School of Islamic Law

The United States has no official school of Islamic law. 

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

 Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English and Arabic translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].