What Are the Sources of Islamic Law?by Hafiz Ikram Ullah Islamic Scholar & Online Quran Tutor Islamic law is believed to be the collected prescriptions dictated by God for the running of the universe. The Quran provides very clear rules on issues as diverse as how to perform acts of worship, what not to eat, and how to distribute inheritance property. However, it does not provide clear rules for all the innumerable situations encountered in the course of human life.
The Islamic community did not see this as a problem when they had the living example of the prophet to follow. Nor did the generations immediately after the death of Muhammad (peace be upon him), because his memory was very much alive the community: People felt they had a good idea of what Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have done in any given situation. However, as generations passed and the Islamic community spread to new cultures and was faced with new situations, it was more and more difficult to use the practices of Muhammad to guide all aspects of life.
It therefore became necessary to develop a system of law that provided a method by which rules could be developed to deal with new situations. This system is called Fiqh and is considered to have four principles called Usul al-fiqh (Principles of Jurisprudence):
- The Quran
- Reasoning by analogy (qiyas)
- Consensus of the community (ijma)
Principles of Jurisprudence
The primary source of the Islamic law is the Quran. Rules and precepts that are clearly stated in the Quran are not open to debate and must be accepted at face value. Thus, for example, since the Quran explicitly forbids the eating of pork, Sharia observing Muslims see no need to consult other authorities.
If the Quran does not provide clear rules on a question of law, then you look to the examples of the prophet or his Sunna (the way Muhammad lived his life).
The concept of Sunna is open to interpretation, since the vast number of individual hadiths sometimes contradict one another; furthermore, the concept of "living tradition" can cause conflict because not everyone agrees on which traditions of a society are in keeping with what Muhammad would have done and which are innovations.
From the ninth century onward, Muslim jurists have struggled to balance the Quran and Sunna, and to derive laws from these sources that can then be applied to new situations. This normally involves reasoning by analogy (the third principle of jurisprudence) and consensus of the community (the fourth). This system of independent legal reasoning to come up with new laws is called ijtihad, and someone who is qualified to engage in it is called a mujtahid.
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Created on Jan 14th 2018 02:03. Viewed 395 times.
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