Posted by Zia Shah
By AHMAD RAZA
ISLAMIC fiqh is divided in two broad domains of legal studies. The part which deals with theoretical and conceptual foundations of Islamic law is known as usul-al-fiqh.
The other part is concerned with concrete interpretations and applications necessitated by the changing historical and social circumstances of the Muslims living in different parts of the world.
There is no doubt that the framework for legal reflections and interpretations started with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself and then was followed by his companions and the scholars of the later ages. The Prophet showed a very simple methodology to formulate sound opinions about difficult and new matters faced by the Muslims.
There is a well-known hadith of the Prophet about arriving at legal decision-making and opinion-making in general. While appointing Muaz bin Jabal as administrator of Yemen, he asked Muaz how would he decide among the people. To which Muaz replied that he would decide on the basis of revealed commands of the Quran.
The Prophet asked what if he did not find relevant insight from the Quran. To which Muaz replied he would decide on the basis of his knowledge of the Sunnah (the Prophet’s practice and conduct). The Prophet asked him what if he did not find an answer from the Sunnah? Muaz said he would look for guidance from the ijma (legal consensus, opinions and agreements) of the Prophet’s pious companions in order to decide on matters of public concern.
Lastly, the Prophet asked Muaz what he would do if he did not find an appropriate answer in the lives of the companions, to which Muaz replied he would use his own qiyas (conjecture, reason) to respond to the needs of the people.
Based on this hadith and Quranic instructions, Islamic jurists from the times of the pious companions down to the colonisation of Muslim territories in the 18th and 19th centuries have identified four sources of Islamic law. These are: Quran, Sunnah, ijma and qiyas.
But what is found in the books of fiqh is mostly concerned with the theological disputes, ablution and bathing, purity and impurity and problems related to belief and unbelief. The theological crust has grown heavily over the body of Islamic fiqh. The use of ijma and qiyas became confined to the legal opinions of the individual imams of the leading fiqh mazahib (schools of thought).
President Barack Obama on Religion and Politics
One of the points President Obama makes is that the scripture has to be translated into a universal message by the believers, one that is befitting the realities of our global village.
To hear President’s Obama’s explanation click here