The centrality of Sharīah as a term and concept, together with its ubiquitous usage, reflects present Muslim understanding of their religion. Existing research indicates this Sharīah-based conception represents a later historical development. However, earlier studies have not documented contemporary understanding and use of the term in the primary sources of Islam. This has important implications regarding the imparting of sacredness according to its traditional conceptualization. Based on comprehensive research and close examination of the Hadith literature in particular, this represents the first work to examine whether and to what extent the term Sharīah was used by the Prophet and his companions. The present investigation makes the case for fundamentally re-evaluating the role of the Sharīah in understanding Islam, and argues that this is necessary in order for a positive impact on contemporary Muslim societies and their relationship with the rest of the world to occur. Copyright © 2018 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.