Shaikh Mustafa Al-Zarka’a was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1907, and received formal education, alongside private tutelage in Islamic Sharia and Fiqh under prominent Syrian religious scholars, including his father. He obtained two high school certificates, one in mathematics and philosophy and the other in Arts, and attained the first place in both, countrywide. Thereafter, he received bachelor of Law and bachelor of Arts degrees at Damascus University, with distinction in both, and a Diploma in Islamic Sharia from Fuad Al-Awal University in Egypt.
As a youth, Al-Zarka’a taught in his father’s place in local mosques and schools, then practiced law for 10 years in Aleppo, before joining Damascus University where he taught civil law at the College of Law, Sharia law at the College of Sharia and Arabic language at the College of Arts for over 20 years. He also held several other important positions; he was a member of the Syrian parliament, Minister of Justice and Endowment in Syria, Chairman of the Fiqh Encycopedia project in the College of Sharia in Damascus, advisor to the Fiqh Encyclopedia in Kuwait, professor at Sharia College in Amman and the Institute of Arabic studies in Cairo and member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Makkah. He also assisted in developing family laws in Syria and Sharia curricula in many Arab universities.
Shaikh Al-Zarka’a was one of the foremost scholars of Islamic jurisprudence and comparative law in the Islamic world. He authored 12 seminal books as well as numerous articles dealing with both general and specific issues of Islamic jurisprudence, such as laws of endowments, insurance contracts, trading, and bartering etc. He also published a series of comparative studies of Islamic versus civil laws. His ground-breaking book Madakhil ila Nazariy’yat al-Iltizam fil Fiqh al-Islami (Introduction to the Theory of Liability in Islamic Law) is one of the most important references on this subject in modern times. He died in 1999, at the age of 95.