Evolution of Islamic Jurisprudence – Part 1

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The fountainhead of Islamic Jurisprudence is that sovereignty belongs to Allah alone and therefore the law comes from him alone. As such, there is no one except Allah who can legislate. As it is said in the Holy Quran:

“Those who do not rule in accordance with what is revealed by Allah are the disbelievers” (Sura Al-Maidah, v 44)

Thus the source of Islamic Law is the Quran and the Sunnah (Tradition) of the Prophet (PBH). The Sunnah is regarded as next to the Quran as the source because it is said in the Holy Quran about the Prophet (PBH):

“ He does not speak from his desires, Verily it is inspiration which has been revealed” (Sura An Najm, v 3,4)

In regular sense, Jurisprudence of secular law means the science of law, so to speak. In its capacity, it generally deals with the theories, principles, applications, rational and classifications of legal concepts. Islamic Jurisprudence, which is called ‘Ilm-ul-usul’ or ‘Ilm-ul-Usul-Al-Fiqh’, is some what different. In addition to the above , it deals with the basic two sources of the Islamic Law and the way through which additional branches of it is derived – mainly Ijma, Qiyas and Ijtehad.

At this point, it might be helpful to clarify the difference in Fiqh and Shaariah. Technically speaking, Fiqh refers to the science of deducing laws from the sources[1]. The laws so deduced are also sometimes considered to be within Fiqh.. Shaaria on the other hand means the whole of the substantive law.

Development of Islamic Jurisprudence took place in various stages during the last 1400 years. For a proper understanding of this development, it can be divided into five major stages – Foundation, Establishment, Growth, Spread, Consolidation and Stagnation.

Here, after considering the basics of Islamic Jurisprudence, the topics will be discussed according to these stages and both substantive law and historical development would be considered.

The Quran is not just a book of law, nor is it just a book of science. It is a book of information. Information that a man needs to achieve his goal, to be able to please Allah and subsequently to be admitted to Heaven. The Quran very clearly defines man’s relation with Allah, his creator, his relation to another man and his relation to his society. It is the later two part that we will be dealing when we say that we are discussing the law of the Quran.

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