is the study of the origins, sources, and principles upon which Islamic jurisprudence (or Fiqh) is based. In the narrow sense, it simply refers to the question of what are the sources of Islamic law. In an extended sense, it includes the study of the philosophical rationale of the law and the procedures by which the law applicable to particular cases is derived from the sources.
Principles of Islamic jurisprudence (uṣūl al-fiqh)
is a subject that provides a critical analysis of the sources and principles that Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) is built upon.
Traditionally four main sources are analysed along with a number of secondary sources and principles.
The main subject areas of discussion comprise:
- General evidences and principles (adillah ijmalliya wa al-qawaid)
- Resolution of conflict and discrepancy (ta’adal wa tarjeeh)
- Determination of rules and adoption/emulation of rules (ijtihad wa taqlid)
- Islamic Law (hukm shari)
The Qur’an has always been regarded as the primary legal source of Islam, the speech of Allah.
It has been transmitted through numerous chains (mutawatir) and proven through rational argument.
This has been supplemented by further revelation termed sunnah. It comprises explanations from the Prophet Mohammed in terms of his speech, actions and silences which have been historically compiled and verified through chains of narrations called hadiths. Sunnah is referred to for elaboration of the Quran or for clarification of a matter that is not mentioned in the Quran and is second in prioritisation to Quran.
The Muslim jurists have found that some revelation has been captured through collective agreements expressed after the death of the Prophet through consensus of his companions which were transmitted over the ages. These are compiled as instances of consensus of the companions (ijma al-sahaba).
Only when these failed to provide the authority sought did jurists resort to interpretation ijtihad.
In the very early days of Islam Muslim authorities tended to rely on their own opinions to establish their interpretation of what a prescribed law should be for any given situation not founded on the Qur’an, a practice known as ra’y.
The jurist ash-Shafi’i, however, preferred to rely solely on traditions from the prophet and thereafter on the method known as qiyas (analogy) where interpretations were to be derived from comparisons with relative subjects dealt with in the Qur’an or the traditions.
It is now the scholarly consensus, amongst both orientalist and traditional scholarship, that the following is a myth: “Once Shafi’i’s school of law was fully established together with the other schools founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Hanifa and Malik, the “door” of ijtihad was closed and it was considered that ijma had been reached on all necessary points of law (though the schools differ in many matters to this day but mostly on minor points of interpretation). Accordingly, Islamic jurisprudence has changed little for centuries and is based fundamentally on the four sources mentioned above. There is much debate and critique as to whether closing the gates of ijtihad was acceptable and whether it contributed to the intellectual and civislisational decline of the Muslims.“ Wael Hallaq is widely credited for decisively discrediting this myth in the western world, whereas others such as Qasim Zaman continue to show how the Ulema continued to actively engage in Ijtihad. However, there is a valid debate over the degree to which the Ulema remained active in such endeavours ever since colonialism and modernity intruded Muslim lands. In fact, faced with such drastic change, there are certain cases that do show the Ulema to be initially dismissive of sociopolitical realities and hence lagging in their response- Nevertheless eventually finding legal stratagems to solve dilemmas. A case in point is the issue of women’s divorce in the time of Ashraf Ali Thanvi.
In the Shi’a schools, they have continued with ijtihad to the present day. They however disputed the methodology of compilation of narrations of sunnah and also limited consensus of the companions to consensus of the family of the Prophet (ijma ahl al-bayt)
- That which is necessary to achieve an obligation is obligatory
- That which leads to haram is haram
- Lesser of the two evils
- The doubt does not remove the certainty
Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) Cover Most Topics Relating to Human Living
The Hanafi (Arabic: حنفي Ḥanafī) school
is one of the four Sunni madhhabs (schools of law) in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). It is named after the scholar Abū Ḥanīfa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit, a tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani.
Among the five established Sunni schools of legal thought in Islam, the Hanafi school is the oldest. It has a reputation for putting greater emphasis on the role of reason. The other three major and 1 minor schools are Hanbali, Maliki Shafi’i and Zahiri.
Sources and methodology
Map of the Muslim world. Hanafi (grass green) is the Sunni school predominant in Turkey, the Northern Middle East, many parts of Egypt, Central Asia and most of the Indian subcontinent
Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as “The Lawgiver”, for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system according to Hanafi law.
The sources from which the Hanafis derive Islamic law are, in order of importance and preference: the Qur’an, the authentic narrations of the Muslim prophet Muhammad (hadith), consensus of the Muslim community (ijma), analogical reasoning (qiyas), juristic discretion (istihsan) and the customs of the local population enacting said law (urf). The development of analogical reason and the scope and boundaries by which it may be used is recognized by the majority of Muslim jurists, but its establishment as a legal tool is the result of the Hanafi school. While it was likely used by some of his teachers, Abu Hanifa is regarded by modern scholarship as the first to formally adopt and institute analogical reason as a part of Islamic law. As the fourth Caliph, Ali had transferred the Islamic capital to Kufa, and many of the first generation of Muslims had settled there, the Hanafi school of law based many of its rulings on the prophetic tradition as transmitted by those first generation Muslims residing in Iraq. Thus, the Hanafi school came to be known as the Kufan or Iraqi school in earlier times. Ali and Abdullah, son of Masud formed much of the base of the school, as well as other personalities from the direct relatives of Muhammad from whom Abu Hanifa had studied such as Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja’far al-Sadiq, and Zayd ibn Ali. Many jurists and historians had lived in Kufa including one of Abu Hanifa’s main teachers, Hammad ibn Sulayman. According to Abdalhaqq Bewley:
“Hanafi methodology involved the logical process of examining the Book and all available knowledge of the Sunna and then finding an example in them analogous to the particular case under review so that God’s religion could be properly applied in the new situation. It thus entails the use of reason in the examination of the Book and Sunna so as to extrapolate the judgments necessary for the implementation of Islam in a new environment. It represents in essence, therefore, within the strict compass of rigorous legal and inductive precepts, the adaptation of the living and powerful deen to a new situation in order to enable it to take root and flourish in fresh soil. This made it an ideal legal tool for the central governance of widely varied populations which is why we find it in Turkey as the legacy of the Uthmaniyya Khilafa and in the sub-continent where it is inherited from the Moghul empire.”
The Hanafi school permits marriage without consulting a wali (guardian).
The Hanafi school considers that a woman is not obligated to cover her feet, differing with all other schools.
The Hanafi school teaches that the time of the Asr prayer starts when the length of the shadow is twice as long as its original objects, while all other schools view that Asr prayer starts when length of the shadow is as long as its original object.
The Hanafi school permits one who does not speak Arabic to pray in another language.
The Hanafi school permits appointing female judges.
The Hanafi school permits eating fish but not other aquatic animals.
The Hanafi school considers admission in a court of law to be divisible; that is, a plaintiff could accept some parts of a defendant’s testimony while rejecting other parts. This position is also held by the Maliki school, though it is opposed by the Zahiris and the majority of the Hanbalis.
In Salat, the Hanafi school teaches to hold the hands near the navel for males and at chest for females.
Islamic Fighs covers the whole rage of Muslim activity and compliments the Sharia Laws. Some of the topics Fighs covers are Salat, Wudu, Adhan, Sin, Finance, Family Law, Diets, and so on. So it requires a great deal of study to absorb its contribution to Islamic life. But it determines Islamic life. I would like to stress the significance of Islamic prayers, SALAT in detail because it is the jewel of Islam, the unifying force of Islam.
SALAT: THE JEWEL OF ISLAM
Muslims recognised, very early on, the unifying and the mesmerising effect Salat would have on the population and thus stressed its compulsion.
Under the Hanbali School of thought, a person who doesn’t pray 5 times a day is an unbeliever. The other three Sunni schools of thought say that the person who doesn’t pray five times a day is just an unholy sinner. Those who prescribe to the Hanbali view cite a hadith from Sahih Muslim that states that prayer is a dividing line between a believer and a non-believer.
For Muslims of the Sunni and Mustaali Ismaili persuasions obligatory salat is prescribed at five periods of the day. These are measured according to the movement of the sun. These are: near dawn (fajr), after midday has passed and the sun starts to tilt downwards / Noon (zuhr or ẓuhr), in the afternoon (asr), just after sunset (maghrib) and around nightfall (Isha). Under some circumstances ritual worship can be shortened or combined (according to prescribed procedures). In case a ritual worship is not performed at the right time, it must be performed later.
Purpose and importance of Salat
The chief purpose of salat is to act as a person’s communication with and remembrance of God. By reciting “The Opening”, the first sura (chapter) of the Quran, as required in all daily worship, the worshipper can stand before God, thank and praise him, and to ask for guidance along the “Straight Path”.
In addition, daily worship reminds Muslims to give thanks for God’s blessings and that submission to God takes precedence over all other concerns, thereby revolving their life around God and submitting to his will. Worship also serves as a formal method of dhikr or remembering Allah.
In the Quran, it is written that: “For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord;”
“To those whose hearts, when God is mentioned, are filled with fear, who show patient perseverance over their afflictions, keep up regular prayer, and spend (in charity) out of what we have bestowed upon them.”
Salat is also cited as a means of restraining a believer from social wrongs and moral deviancy.
According to a hadith in the collection Sahih Bukhari, Muhammad considered salat “the best deed”
The importance of the Salah was further demonstrated by Muhammad who on his deathbed and in the pangs of death would announce: الصَّلاةَ ، الصَّلاةَ وَمَا مَلَكَت أَيْمَانُكُم. “The Salah, I remind you of the Salah; and to look after the women.” His Companions described the scene saying, “The majority of the Messenger of Allah’s advice – when death came to him – was ‘The Salah; and to look after the women.’ to the extent that his chest would be repeating these words, and his tongue ceased to express them.”
People who find it physically difficult can perform Salat in a way suitable for them. To perform valid Salat, Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity, which is mainly achieved by ritual ablution, (wuḍūʾ), according to prescribed procedures.
Conditions to Perform Salat
- are Muslim
- are of sound mind
- have reached the age of puberty (beginning at age seven is recommended).
Elements that make salat valid:
- Confidence of the time of worship.
- Facing the qibla, with the chest facing the direction of the Kaaba. The ill and the old are allowed leniency with posture.
- Covering the awrah
- Clean clothes, body, place of prostration.
- Ritual purity (wudu, tayammum, ghusl)
- Praying in front of a sutrah
- is recommended.
The place of worship should be clean. In a few cases where blood is leaving the body, salat is forbidden until a later time. Women are not allowed to pray during their menses and for a period after childbirth.
Before conducting salat, a Muslim has to perform a ritual ablution. The minor ablution is performed using water (wudu), or sand (tayammum) when water is unavailable or not advisable to use for reasons such as illness. Wudu is performed by Muslims according to the instructions of God(Allah) given in the Quran:
“O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful.”— Qur’an, sura 5 (Al-Ma’ida), ayat 6
More specifically, wudu is performed by Muslims by washing the hands, mouth, nose, arms, face, hair (often washing the hair is merely drawing the already wet hands from the fringe to the nape of the neck), ears, and feet three times each in that order. (It is not obligatory to wash the hair three times, once is sufficient, and men must also wash their beard and mustache when washing the face).
How to conduct salat
Details of how to conduct one’s actions and movements are spelt out in detail, thus there is uniformity of movement in the prayers.
The fard as-salat are the five compulsory daily prayers, the Friday prayer (jumu’ah), and the funeral prayer (janazah). Nonperformance of fard as-salat renders one a non-Muslim according to the Hanbali Sunni School, while for the other Sunni schools it renders one a sinner. The denial of its compulsory status, however, is agreed upon by all Sunni schools to render the denier outside the fold of Islam. Fard prayers (as with all fard actions) are further classed as fard al-ayn (obligation of the self) and fard al-kifayah (obligation of sufficiency). Fard al-ayn are those actions that are obligatory on each individual; he or she will be held to account if the actions are not performed. Fard al-kifayah are actions obligatory on the Muslim community at large, so that if some people within the community carry it out no Muslim is considered blameworthy, but if no one carries it out all incur a collective punishment.
Men are required to perform the fard salat in congregation (jama’ah), behind an imam when they are able. According to most Islamic scholars, performing prayers in congregation is mustahabb(recommended) for men, when they are able, but is neither required nor forbidden for women.
Thus we can observe that Salat is essential in Islamic life. It is a social gathering which has psychological effects on the participants, the detailed essential Wudu, levels all people and socialises them, the conformity of the physical movements during prayers brings camaraderie and sense of achievement during prayers, it reminds Muslims 5 times a day of their obligations to Allah, and it does not allow their mind to stray away too far from the doctrines of Allah. This has what has united the Islamic peoples over the centuries and shows the weaknesses of the Christian liberalisms and secularisms.