The Sources of Islamic Law
1. Gradation of Revelation (Tanjeem)
Binder page 45
a. What is the gradation of revelation?
i. The Qur’an was revealed piecemeal over a period of twentythree years in relation to particular events.
32: Muhsin Khan: And those who disbelieve say: "Why
is not the Quran revealed to him all at once?" Thus (it is
sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart
thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in
stages. (It was revealed to the Prophet SAW in 23
years.). [Surah al-Furqan, 25:32]
b. Why gradually?
i. To give the believers an opportunity to reflect and memorize.
ii. To facilitate continuous contact with the Divine.
1. Whenever the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam received a
revelation, he would perspire because of the weight of the
iii. To give the believers enough time to spread the word and follow
iv. To allow for a progression in legislation until it reached
c. How was the revelation gradual?
i. Considering the events that were experienced throughout the
years of the revelation.
ii. In response to a question the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam was
iii. Observing the rule of abrogation (Naskh).
d. Examples for the rule of abrogation: Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
67: Muhsin Khan: And from the fruits of date-palms and
grapes, you derive strong drink (this was before the order of the
prohibition of the alcoholic drinks) and a goodly provision.
Verily, therein is indeed a sign for people who have wisdom.
[Surah An-Nahl, 16:67]
219: Muhsin Khan: They ask you (O Muhammad SAW)
concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a
great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is
greater than their benefit." And they ask you what they ought to
spend. Say: "That which is beyond your needs." Thus Allah
makes clear to you His Laws in order that you may give
thought." [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:219] Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
43: Muhsin Khan: O you who believe! Approach not AsSalat
(the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know
(the meaning) of what you utter, nor when you are in a state of
Janaba, (i.e. in a state of sexual impurity and have not yet
taken a bath) except when travelling on the road (without
enough water, or just passing through a mosque), till you wash
your whole body. And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of
you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been
in contact with women (by sexual relations) and you find no
water, perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith
your faces and hands (Tayammum). Truly, Allah is Ever OftPardoning, OftForgiving. [Surah an-Nisaa’, 4:43]
90: Muhsin Khan: O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of
alcoholic drinks), gambling, AlAnsab, and AlAzlam (arrows for
seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan's
(Satan) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in
order that you may be successful. [Surah al-Maaidah, 5:90] Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
One of the wisdoms behind this is to show the mercy of Allah. Aisha radi’Allaahu
‘anha said that if only the first and then the fourth verse had been revealed,
no one would have embraced Islam.
2. Asbab an-Nuzool
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i. The phenomenology of the Qur’an which explains the events
that are related to the revelation of particular Ayaat.
b. Why is it important?
i. Knowledge of words and concepts of an Ayah is incomplete
without knowledge of the context.
ii. Understanding the wisdom behind the legislation of a particular
c. What is the source of Asbab An-Nuzool?
i. A reliable report related to us by a Sahabi who has been present
at the time of the occasion.
d. General text vs. Particular occasion
i. From a legislative perspective, what is considered in regard to a
general text which was revealed for a particular reason, is it the
generality of the text or the particularity of the occasion?
1. The marriage of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam to the
ex-wife of his adopted son. By this marriage, Allah
showed that one can marry one’s adopted son’s ex-wife.
2. When Allah revealed the ayat for when the Prophet
sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam frowned towards the blind man.
ii. Majority of jurists rule by the generality of the text unless
another clue is provided to suggest otherwise.
1. The ruling of Dhihaar was made general even though the
legal text revealed was for a particular occasion between
Khawla bint Tha’laba and her husband Aws bin As-Saamit.
1: Muhsin Khan: Indeed Allah has heard the Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
statement of her (Khaulah bint Tha'labah) that
disputes with you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning
her husband (Aus bin AsSamit), and complains to
Allah. And Allah hears the argument between you
both. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer. [Surah alMujaadilah, 58:1]
b. The Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam refused her case
based on the presumption of continuity, assuming
that what the law had been before was still the law.
c. We must assume that the ruling does not only
pertain to her. Other verses which were revealed in
reference to specific incidents are also to be taken
as general rulings unless otherwise specified in the
Qur’an or Sunnah
a. Other examples of Asbab An-Nuzool are:
i. Surah Lahab (111), revealed when Abu Lahab mocked
Muhammad sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam
ii. Surah ‘Abasa (81), the beginning of which was revealed when
Muhammad sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam turned away from a blind
man because he was busy
3. Ratiocination in the Qur’an (Ta’leel)
i. It is the rationale of an injunction, the purpose and the objective
of the law. It is the search for the effective cause of legislation
for a particular given law.
ii. A cause (Sabab) is called Illah. Illah is also used to identify the
wisdom (hikmah) or the benefit accrued with a particular law or
for the higher objective of a ruling.
b. How Illah is identified?
i. The Qur’an sometimes justifies the ruling with reference to Illah
and the benefits accrued with it.
1.Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
103: Muhsin Khan: Take Sadaqah (alms) from their
wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it,
and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a
source of security for them, and Allah is All-Hearer, AllKnower. [Surah at-Tawbah, 9:103]
ii. Jurists have identified the Illah through reasoning & Ijtihaad
90: Muhsin Khan: O you who believe! Intoxicants (all
kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, AlAnsab, and AlAzlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an
abomination of Shaitan's (Satan) handiwork. So avoid
(strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be
successful. [Surah al-Maaidah, 5:90]
a. The process of inference conducted by jurists
concluded that intoxication is the main Illah for the
prohibition of wine.
iii. One hukm can have more than one Illah depending on how the
scholars take it.
iv. If the hikmah is not clear, only one hikmah becomes
recognizable: it is a test from Allah
v. The ‘Ulama are not obligated to find the wisdom behind the
rulings, but they may do so in order to establish the higher
objective of the law.
vi. The authority of the Qur’an as the principal source of Shari’ah is
absolutely independent of ratiocination.
vii. The explanation of the Illah in the Qur’an in most occasions is
designed to make the Qur’an easier to understand.
Chapter Three: Sources about which there is Unanimous
Agreement: The Sunnah
Binder page 47 Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
The Sunnah has many technical definitions according to the different uses of the
terminology used by the fuqahaa’, muhaditheen, theologians, and usoolees
(Scholars of Jurisprudence)
- Arabic Language
1. The way of life, or tradition
1. The life of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam , including his
habits, appearance and attributes, even before Islam, as
well as his examples, statements, and his approvals and
- Theologians (‘Ulama)
1. Sunnah vs. Bid’ah (the straight path to Allah in belief and
1. The Prophet’s sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam examples, statements,
and his approvals and disapprovals.
a. All that is narrated from the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam , his acts, his
sayings and whatever he has tacitly approved.
2. As a source of law
a. “I left two things among you. You shall not go astray so long as you hold
on to them: the Book of Allah & my Sunnah.”
3. An act, Sunnah Fi’liyyah (actual)
a. Aisha narrates, “The Messenger of Allah used to eat with his right hand
and drink with his right hand.”
4. A saying, Sunnah Qawliyyah (verbal)
a. Omar narrates, “Deeds are judged by their intentions…”
5. A tacit approval, Sunnah Taqreeiyyah
a. Anas narrates, “Handshaking was a common practice amongst the
Companions of the Messenger of Allah.”
6. Sunnah vs. Hadith
a. Hadith is a narration of the conduct of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam.
b. Sunnah is the example and the law that is deduced from the conduct itself
(the actual ruling that is derived from the hadith)Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
The definition used in this study is that of the Usoolees which serves the concept of
Hujjiyyah of the Sunnah (The Proof Value)
a. Hujjiyah is the proof value of the Sunnah as a source of law into the legal
b. The conduct of the Messenger of Allah sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam was meant to
establish a rule of Shari’ah and constitute a binding ruling.
2. The Qur’an
7: Muhsin Khan: What Allah gave as booty (Fai') to His Messenger
(Muhammad SAW) from the people of the townships, - it is for Allah, His
Messenger (Muhammad SAW), the kindred (of Messenger Muhammad
SAW), the orphans, AlMasakin (the poor), and the wayfarer, in order that
it may not become a fortune used by the rich among you. And
whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) gives you, take it,
and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it) , and fear Allah.
Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment. [Surah al-Hashr, 59:7]
3. The Sunnah
a. “Indeed I was given this Qur’an and something similar to it (Sunnah).”
4. Practice of the Sahaba
a. It was reported that the first Muslim Caliphs have issued instructions to
their deputies and judges around the state in which they asked them to
follow the Sunnah of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam whenever they
could not find the answer in the Qur’an.
5. Ijmaa’ Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
a. Muslim jurists are unanimous on the fact that Sunnah is a source of
Shari’ah, and that it stands on the same footing as the Qur’an.
• If there is an apparent contradiction between the Qur’an and Sunnah, we
need to look at the historical background. Also we need to check if somehow
it is abrogated. If we can’t tell from historical areas, then both are dropped
and other means are looked at. This is going to be covered in Usool II.
• Therefore, those who say they follow the Qur’an but reject the Sunnah
(Qur’aneeyoon) aren’t actually following the Qur’an in the first place.
• The Hujjiyah (proof value) of the Sunnah becomes binding once the
authenticity of that particular text of the Sunnah is determined i.e. Sahih or
Hassan and Mutawattir (continuous reports) or Ahaad (solitary reports)
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Classification of the Sunnah and Value: Legal vs. Non-Legal
1. What is legal and what is non-legal Sunnah?
a. Legal Sunnah, Sunnah Tashree’yah (literally: legislation)
i. The exemplary conduct of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam , be it
an act, saying or a tacit approval which incorporates the rules and
principles o the Shari’ah.
1. “Pray as you see me pray.” [Bukhari]
1. “Was it not for my fear of imposing a difficulty on my
Ummah I would have ordered that the Miswak be used for
every salaat, and delay in Isha prayer.” [Bukhari]
b. Non-legal Sunnah, Sunnah Ghayr Tashree’iyyah
i. The natural activities of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam such as
the manners in which he ate, slept, dressed and such activities
which do not seek to constitute a part of the Shari’ah or the legal
1. The preference of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam for certain
foods: Anas reports, “I saw Allah’s Messenger going after the
pumpkin round the dish, so I have always liked pumpkin since
2. This is not an act of ibadah (simply to eat pumpkin). However,
if your intention was to like something that Muhammad
sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam liked, then inshallah, the intention will be
rewarded. Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
3. Abdullah ibn Umar was the quickest to follow the non-legal
Sunnah, to the point of taking the same footsteps as
Muhammad sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam and using the same rest
stops when going for hajj.
4. Some Sunnah practices are difficult to tell whether they are
legal or non-legal.
2. What is Hujjiyyah of each type of Sunnah?
a. Legal Sunnah
i. It establishes a Hukm Shar’ee. All commands and prohibitions that
are imposed by the Sunnah are binding on every Muslim.
b. Non-legal Sunnah
i. The majority of jurists consider it an indication for permissibility
(Mubaah), unless other evidence suggests otherwise.
3. Khusoosiyyaat An-Nabi
a. Certain matters which are particular to the person of the Prophet sal’Allaahu
i. Multiple marriages above the limit of four, connected fasting and
the prohibition of remarrying his wives after his death.
4. What is the ruling of the Khusoosiyyah of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam?
a. If the Qur’an addresses the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam with an exclusive
term such as “O ye Messenger” then it is to the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi
wasallam alone, unless there is conclusive evidence to suggest otherwise.
Coincidental actions of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam such as his prayer inside
the ka’bah in a certain position, praying in a specific location on his journeys or
taking the pledge on Hudaybiyyah beside a particular tree do not constitute any
ruling according to the vast majority of jurists.
Chapter Four: Sources about which there is General
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1. First: Ijmaa’ or Consensus of Opinion
i. The unanimous agreement of the Mujtahids of the Muslim Ummah
of any period following the death of the Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi
wasallam on any matter.
I. This means 100% agreement, while consensus means almost
100% agreement. Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
II. Only Muslim Mujtahids can be involved in this process. Laymen
and scholars of other faiths cannot issue legal verdicts.
III. It was never used within the Prophet’s sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam
time because there was no need.
IV. The Mujtahids are not chosen or picked from a society; they
are publicly and universally recognized as Muslim scholars.
b. Is the Ijmaa’ factual or relative evidence?
i. Majority of Muslim jurists accept the Ijmaa’ as a universal
consensus, while other jurists accept it as a valid concept in a
relative sense, not as a factual evidence. This is because we cannot
be sure that any Ijmaa’ after the sahaba’s time included all the
‘Ulama or not.
ii. The only Ijmaa’ which they accept as a factual evidence is the
Ijmaa’ of the Sahaba before they were dispersed.
c. What is the value of Ijmaa’?
i. It reflects the natural evolution and acceptance of ideas in the life
of the Muslim Ummah.
1. Selecting Abu Bakr as a caliph.
ii. It ensures the correct interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
iii. It enhances the authority of rules that are of speculative origin.
For example, the prohibition of simultaneous marriage to the close
relative of one’s wife.
iv. It represents an authority of its own right once it is established.
d. There are two types of Ijmaa’
i. Explicit Ijmaa’ or Ijmaa’ Sareeh
1. The Ijmaa’ in which every Mujtahid expresses his opinion
either verbally or by an action.
ii. Tacit Ijmaa’ or Ijmaa’ Sukooti
1. The Ijmaa’ in which some of the Mujtahids of a certain age
express their opinion concerning an incident while the rest
remain silent. This is not technically an Ijma’ from a juristic
perspective (because not everyone had their say, or they
may not have spoken out for some other reason).
Conditions of Ijmaa’
• What are the conditions of a valid Ijmaa’ ?
• Condition one Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
o There should be a number of Mujtahids available at the
time when the issue is encountered.
• Condition two
o There should be a universal consensus of all the Mujtahids
on the issue encountered. The presence of any dissenting
view precludes the possibility of the Ijmaa’.
• Condition three
o The agreement of the Mujtahids on the juridical opinion
must be demonstrated by their expressed opinions on that
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2. Second: Qiyas or Analogical reasoning
i. The application to a new case (Far’) on which the law is silent of the
ruling (Hukm) of an original case (Asl) because of the effective
cause (Illah) which is in common to both.
ii. It is a branch of Ijtihad
iii. Applied to cases in which the Qur’an and Sunnah is silent
b. What are the essential requirements (Arkaan) of Qiyas?
i. First : Asl
1. The original case on which a ruling is given in the text &
which analogy seeks to extend to a new case.
ii. Second: Far’
1. The new case on which a ruling is needed.
iii. Third: Illah
1. The effective cause which is an attribute of the Asl and is
found to be common to the original and the new case.
a. Find this in the asl, and can find this in the far’ also.
b. The Illah never fluctuates, regardless of the case being
discussed and it must be generated before deciding
upon the Hukm.
iv. Fourth: Hukm
1. The rule governing the original case which is to be extended
to the new case.
a. This is based on characteristic/reason which makes it
similar to the new case. Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
i. Wine versus narcotic drugs
a. Wine drinking
a. Taking narcotic drugs
a. Intoxicating effect
ii. Gold vs. bank notes
a. Paying zakah on legal amount of gold.
a. Paying zakah on currency made of bank notes or other
a. The value of all commodities.
3. Conditions of Arkaan Al-Qiyas
a. Condition of Asl
i. Asl must be constituted in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and
according to the majority of jurists by Ijmaa’.
ii. Asl may not be constituted by a former Qiyas.
b. Conditions of Far’
i. The new case may not be covered by the text or Ijmaa’.
ii. The effective cause of the analogy must be applicable to the new
case in the same way as to the original case.
c. Conditions of the Illah
i. The effective cause must be a constant attribute (Mundhabit) i.e.
applicable to all cases without being affected by differences of
persons, time, place, and circumstances.
ii. The Illah must be evident not hidden.Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
iii. The Illah must be a proper attribute and bears a reasonable
relationship to the law of the text.
iv. The Illah must be an objective quality which can be transferable to
v. The Illah must not be an attribute that runs counter to or seeks to
alter the law of the text.
d. Conditions of hukm
i. The hukm must be of a practical ruling of Fiqh.
ii. The hukm must be operative, not abrogated.
iii. The hukm must be rational or the Illah is clearly given in the text
iv. The hukm must not be confined to an exceptional situation or to a
particular state of affairs.
• Qiyas is the most dynamic part of Usool Al-Fiqh which is what makes the
Shari’ah so alive and contemporary.
• The Illah and Hikmah are not interchangeable. The Illah for shortening
prayers while traveling, for example, is that one is traveling. Therefore, any
person who is traveling may shorten the prayers. The hikmah is that
journeys are difficult, and so prayers are shortened. However, even if you
have an easy journey, it doesn’t mean you cannot shorten your prayers.
Chapter Five: Sources about which there is General
Binder page 51
1. Statement of the Sahabi
i. Should the statement of a single Sahabi which does not contradict
the general opinion of the community of the Sahaba be considered
as a proof of its own right, and be given a precedence over other
rules such as Qiyas?
b. The Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam told us to follow his example and the
khulafaa’ that will follow after him. Some scholars say that their Ijtihad
should be found as proof and some don’t. Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
c. Ibn Abbas said that the temporary marriage is acceptable to do in harsh
conditions, even though all the other Sahaba say that this is
• In this case, some scholars say the opinion in invalid.
• Others say they would rather take the Ijtihad of the sahaba than
take their own.
2. ‘Urf (Custom)
i. It is recurring practices that are acceptable to people of sound
nature, reasonable as to be taken in consideration in order to
constitute a valid basis for legal decisions.
b. For example, languages can use the same words and mean totally
c. Whenever we do things, we need to know what the custom of the land is
before doing anything.
3. Istihsaan (Juristic Preference)
i. It is setting aside an established analogy in favor of an alternative
ruling that serves the ideals of justice and public interest in a better
ii. Should not be against Qur’an or Sunnah, but against Qiyas.
b. Should the Mujtahid use his personal discernment in deciding the ruling of
an issue in contradiction to the established Qiyas?
i. The Prophet sal’Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said that you cannot sell
something that doesn’t exist.
1. The scholars say that you can put conditions on items such
that when the people invent items, it will be clear cut on
what they are getting.
4. Maslaha Mursala or Istislaah (Consideration of Public welfare)
i. It is a consideration that is proper and harmonious with the
objectives of the Lawgiver; it secures a benefit or prevents a harm,
and the Shari’ah provides no indication as to its validity or
otherwise. Part Three: The Sources of Islamic Law
ii. Does this concept fall under innovation or independent enactment
of law? Can Maslaha Mursala be observed in devotional matters? No
b. Example: A woman whose husband is missing can file for divorce after 1
to 4 years even though her husband is not proven to be dead because it
would be in her best interest to get a divorce.
5. Istishaab (Presumption of continuity)
i. It is a rational proof that may be employed in the absence of other
indications; specifically, those facts or rules of law and reason,
whose existence or non-existence had been proven in the past and
which are presumed to remain so for lack of evidence to establish
6. Sadd Al-Dharaa’I (blocking the means)
i. Blocking the means to an expected (evil) end that is likely to
materialize if the means towards it is not obstructed.
b. This is why in Saudi Arabia it is forbidden for women to drive cars, and for
farmers to sell grapes to wine makers.
7. Shar’u man qablana (Laws revealed prior to the advent of Islam)
a. Are the rules revealed before the advent of Islam applicable to the
b. If these laws contradict our laws – they are not to be taken
i. Example: Yusuf’s alayhis salaam brothers prostrated to him, but that is
wrong according to our Shari’ah