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Sources Of Islamic Law

There are four sources of Islamic Law:

  1. Holy Quran
  2. Sunnah / Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet (P.b.u.h)
  3. Ijma (consensus of Opinion)
  4. Qiyas (analogy)

All of these sources are interlinked and organized while making laws.

Quran and Sunnah are collectively called Primary sources while the other two are called secondary sources as they depend on the primary sources.

Holy Quran:

It is the primary source of Islamic Law and is independent of all other sources.

It is the Devine, eternal and complete word of Allah which is a source of guidance, for all Muslims.

It provides for Human, the knowledge of right and wrong.

The Quranic Law deals with beliefs, morality, worship, civil transactions, punishment for international injury to human body, property and honour e.t.c.

Allah says in Quran:

“This is the book in it is guidance sure without doubt to those who fear Allah”

The injunctions of the Quran are the basis of the Islamic Shariah and the sacred laws of islam.

This law is perfect and comprehensive. It governs all the actions of a Muslim. It is eternal, everlasting and unchangeable.

It is universal as it is for all the man kind.

Laws given in the Quran are humanistic in nature, in that they provide for a margin of error due to the weakness of human nature.

“Allah does not a soul with more than it can bear”

Examples of laws stated in the Quran:

 “As for the thieves cut off his or her hands”

“For other vices Allah says: “You who believe strong drink and games of chances and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of satan’s hand work. Leave it aside in order that you may succed”

“Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans eat up the fire into their own bodies”

“We ordained there in for them life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose , ear for ear, tooth for tooth, wound for wound , equal for equal”

 

Sunnah:

It is the second and primary source of Islamic Law.

Sunnah means the sayings, actions or silent approvals of the Prophet (P.b.u.h). Sunnah of the Prophet is not only an elaboration of the meaning of the Quran, but also addresses issues upon which Quran is silent. As the Muslim community grew, need was felt to supplement the Quran with Sunnah.

The Quran itself mentioned the need to resort to Sunnah in particular situations by saying:

“We have sent the admonition to you (O Muhammad) so that you should make plan and explain to the people the teachings of the book which has been sent for them”

Relationship Of Quran With Sunnah:

The Quran tells us repeatedly “Establish prayers and pay charity”, but it doesn’t explain how frequently a person should pray or what is the method of praying and timing of prayers e.t.c.

This was explained by the Prophet as he himself said: “Pray as you have seen me praying”

Similarly Quran enjoins the Muslims to pay Zakat but it doesn’t explain the rate of the Zakat or how many times in a year a person should pay Zakat, all this was explained by the Prophet as he said:

“No Zakat is payable on property until a year passes away on it”

Allah commands that teachings of the Prophet (P.b.u.h) should be obeyed:

“Obey Allah and obey the Prophet

“Whatever the Prophet gives you take it and whatever he forbids you refrain from it.

 

Ijma:

It is the third and secondary source of Islamic Law. Its meaning is unanimous agreement.

It is the consensus of majority opinion of the Muslim Jurists at a particular time and of a particular generation.

Quran itself approves of the Ijma:

“O you who believe, obey Allah, and Obey His messenger and those charged with duty amongst you”

However it must be noted that to perform Ijma, the legal experts must have complete knowledge of Quran and Sunnah, because Ijma of modern experts cant go against the teachings of Quran and Sunnah.

They should also have  in depth knowlwdge about the previously performed Ijmas and also of the new problemundr consideration.

Prophet Muhammad (P.b.u.h) once said:

“Hold fast to my sunnah and the sunnah of Khulfa- e – Rashidin”

Ijma was practiced even during the life of the Holy Prophet when he consulted his companions on different occasions before giving his personal opinion.

Examples Of Ijma performed during Prophet’s (P.b.u.h) Life:

Battle Of Uhad: Prophet consulted his companions and agreed with the opinion of the majority and fought the war out of Madina.

Battle Of Trench: He had the trench dug around Madina on the suggestions of Sulman Al Farsi.

He once said ”My companions are like stars those who follow them get guidance”

 

 

Other Examples Of Ijma After The Death Of Prophet:

Compilation of the Quran:

On suggestion of Umer and by Ijma of the companions, Quran was compiled in a book form when many companions of the Holy Prophet were killed in the battle of Yamama.

Two Calls for Friday Prayers:

During Hazrat Usman’s Caliphate it was decided by the experts to have two calls for prayers on Fridays.

Trawih Prayer:

The Prophet prayed trawih only 3 or 4 times in congregation in his life time. It was later during the caliphate of Hazrat Umer that the system of congregation of Trawih was added after Isha prayer during Ramazan.

 

 

Qiyas:

It is the fourth source of Islamic Law.It is the legal method of deducing one principle from another by comparing them together.

It can only be performed when both Quran and Sunnah are silent on a particular issue and even no Ijma is performed earlier.The purpose of Qiyas is to fascilitate Muslims to fashion their lives according to Islam in the modern world.

Permission of its use is found in the famous dialogue between the Prophet (P.b.u.h) and Muadh bin Jabal when he was appointed governer of Yemen. The Holy Prophet allowed him to exercise his own opinion if he had failed in finding a solution, to some problem in Quran and Sunnah.

Qiyas like Ijma is required to be in accordance with the primary sources of Islamic Law.

The Quran says:

“Marry women of your choice, two or three or four, but if you fear you shall not be able to do justice then only one”

Here the second clause (but if you fear..) allows for humans  to apply their own reasoning and choose for what suits them best but within the limits defined by Quran.

Quran at another point says:

“There are signs in this for people who understand”

Components Of Qiyas:

Asl: The actual injunction in Quran and Sunnah.

Illa: Reasoning behind the injunction.

Hukm: The new deduction made.

Far: The link between the injunction and deduction.

Example:

The Quran forbids sales transactions after the call of prayer on Friday (Asl). By analogy /Qiyas all kinds of transactions (Far) have been forbidden (hukm) because like sales they also distract Muslims from the Friday Prayers (Illa).

 

“Every intoxicant is khamr so every intoxicant is haram”

The Holy Quran forbids the use of Khamr (an alcohol of grapes) (Asl). By Qiyas (analogy, heroin and other intoxiacnts (Far) are also because like Khamr they also cause intoxication. However, since it involves a lot of individual effort, it is sometimes not encouraged by some scholars.

Why Some Scholars Reject Qiyas:

A verse of Quran says:

“O ye who believe! Put not your selves forward before God and his apostle…”

Thus some scholars claim that Qiyas means” putting yourself forward”

Analogy leads to discord among the Muslims, because it doesn’t lead to exactly the same opinions where different jurists are exercising it and what leads to differences should be stopped. Thus due to the varying and conflicting answers that can be given it is rejected by some scholars.

 

Significance Of Quran As The Basis Of All Thought And Actions For Muslims:

  • The Quran is Allahs Final Message to human kind.
  • It is the undisputed text for all Muslims.
  • It contains the principles of all aspects Deen, Belief and Practice.
  • It shows difference between right and wrong.
  • It contains the laws for all situations personal, financial, criminal and law making.
  • It is the first and invariable source of law
  • The Quran says:

“Blessed is he who sent down the criterion to His servant, that it may be on admonition to all creatures”

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