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The Initiative of the Islamic Fiqh Lessons

Author : Dr. Fadi Rabab`ah

Date Added : 06-02-2024


The Initiative of the Islamic Fiqh Lessons and the Regulation of the Religious Authority


The Jordan Ministry of Awqaf, Islamic Affairs and Holy Places, along with its partners in religious institutions, have launched an initiative to teach the Shafi'i jurisprudence in various mosques across the kingdom. This initiative aims to address the need in Jordanian society to regulate the jurisprudential authority. Previously, the social landscape lacked significant scholarly expertise in jurisprudence, and was instead filled with various unregulated fatwas.


This often leads the general population, who are not students of Islamic knowledge and lack sufficient understanding of Islamic jurisprudence, to inadvertently fall into prohibited practices in worship and receive religious rulings from sources outside of recognized and clear jurisprudential methodologies. This is especially true when their primary sources are various online platforms, where they may read, listen, or watch content that could invalidate or render improper their acts of worship and transactions.

Jurisprudence (Fiqh) refers to the knowledge of practical Islamic legal rulings derived from their detailed evidences. The obligation to learn jurisprudence varies; sometimes it is an individual obligation (fard 'ayn) for every accountable person, especially concerning acts of worship such as purification, prayer, fasting, and the validity of transactions like buying and marriage. At other times, it is a collective obligation (fard kifayah) where there must be a sufficient number of scholars capable of issuing legal opinions for the community. Additionally, there are times when learning jurisprudence is recommended or encouraged, especially beyond the level required for issuing legal opinions. Therefore, it is incumbent upon every accountable Muslim to learn the jurisprudence upon which the validity of their worship depends, in order to perform their acts of worship correctly according to their pillars, conditions, and requirements.


One of the advantages of studying jurisprudence (Fiqh) is that it can be acquired from trustworthy scholars who are known for their mastery of Islamic Sharia sciences. This transmission of knowledge historically occurred through formal authorization (Ijazah), as well as through close association and apprenticeship with scholars, learning directly from them. However, the acquisition of knowledge in jurisprudence and Sharia has evolved over time. Nowadays, it is also pursued through universities, colleges, institutes, and academic institutions. Many students of jurisprudence and Sharia combine traditional learning from scholars with enrollment in universities, colleges, and Sharia institutes.


Among the most important sources of Islamic law are the Quran, the authentic Sunnah (traditions) of the Prophet Mohammad, and the derived sources known as the principles of jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh). These derived sources include:


Consensus (Ijma'): Consensus among scholars on a particular legal issue.

Analogical Reasoning (Qiyas): Applying established legal principles to new situations by analogy.

Juridical Preference (Istihsan): Preference of one legal ruling over another based on equity or public welfare.

Public Interest (Maslahah Mursalah): Considering the broader public interest in the formulation of legal rulings.

Custom (Urf): Recognizing established customs and practices within a society.

Opinion of a Companion (Qawl as-Sahabi): Considering the opinion or practice of a companion of the Prophet Mohammad.

Precedent (Al-Mansus ala Qadim al-Hukm): Taking into account rulings established in previous legal cases.


These sources are subject to the interpretation and analysis of jurists and scholars in order to deduce Islamic legal rulings that govern matters of halal (permissible) and haram (forbidden), as well as what is permissible and impermissible.


Allah the Almighty entrusted the elucidation and dissemination of this divine law to diligent scholars. The Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, said: "Whomever Allah wishes well for, He grants understanding of religion. Indeed, I am a distributor, and Allah is the Giver. The affairs of this nation will remain upright until the Hour comes, or until the command of Allah arrives." (Reported by Al-Bukhari). Additionally, the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, said: "Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets; the prophets did not leave behind dinars or dirhams, but they left behind knowledge. So whoever gains knowledge, gains a vast share." (Reported by At-Tirmidhi).


Muslims have been diligent in exerting scholarly effort since the time of the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, and during the eras of the Companions and the Successors (Tabi'un). This scholarly endeavor continued as the Islamic territories expanded beyond the confines of Medina and the Arabian Peninsula, welcoming numerous peoples into the fold of Islam. Within the Muslim community, four eminent scholars emerged, universally recognized across generations as authoritative references in Islamic jurisprudence. They are: Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik ibn Anas, Imam Ash-Shafi'i, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. May Allah have mercy on them all.


These scholars often learned from one another. Imam Ash-Shafi'i studied under Imam Malik, while Imam Ahmad studied under Imam Ash-Shafi'i. There existed a relationship of love and respect between them, contrary to the misconception of conflict or disagreement. Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, said about his teacher Ash-Shafi'i, "Ash-Shafi'i was like the sun for the world and the remedy for the body." He also said, "Jurisprudence was closed to its people until Allah opened it through Ash-Shafi'i." Additionally, he stated, "We did not understand the abrogating and abrogated Hadith until we accompanied Mohammad ibn Idris (Ash-Shafi'i)."


A Muslim is either a mujtahid (one capable of independent reasoning) or a muqallid (one who follows the rulings of qualified scholars). A mujtahid is someone who meets the conditions and qualifications for independent reasoning, including being knowledgeable about the Quran, the Sunnah, the Arabic language, principles of analogy (qiyas), and other relevant areas. On the other hand, a muqallid is someone who is not qualified to engage in independent reasoning and must follow the rulings of qualified mujtahids. This is stated in the text of "Jawharat al-Tawhid," which summarizes the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama'ah:


"Like Malik and all the Imams, So too Abu al-Qasim [Ash-Shafi'i] guided the Ummah. It is obligatory to follow a scholar from among them, So said the people, expressing it clearly."


Sheikh Nu'h al-Qudat, may Allah have mercy on him, explains these verses by stating: "Therefore, it is obligatory for those who are not mujtahids to follow one of the four schools of thought and act according to it in matters of worship and other issues... The scholars of ijtihad are the reference after the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. In fact, in every field of knowledge, there are specialists and non-specialists. Therefore, it is necessary for the non-specialist to refer to the specialist in matters that are difficult for him." [Al-Mukhtasar Al-Mufid fi Sharh Jawharat Al-Tawhid / p.153].


Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "O people, whoever is asked about knowledge that he knows, let him speak it, and whoever does not have knowledge, let him say: 'Allah knows best.' For indeed, part of knowledge is to say regarding what one does not know, 'Allah knows best.'" [Sahih al-Bukhari]. Abu Husayn reported: "One of you might be asked about a matter, and if it were presented to Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, he would gather the people of Badr to consult about it." [Adab al-Fatwa by al-Nawawi / p.15].


The scholars of the Muslim community used to exercise caution and strive not to rush into issuing fatwas, out of fear of Allah Almighty. Imam Ibn al-Mubarak, may Allah have mercy on him, narrated with a sound chain of transmission from Abdur Rahman ibn Abi Layla who said: "I met two hundred companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and there was not one of them who was a narrator of Hadith except that he wished his brother would suffice him in narrating, and there was not one of them who was a Mufti except that he wished his brother would suffice him in giving legal verdicts." It was also reported from Imam al-Shafi'i, may Allah have mercy on him, that he was asked a question but remained silent. It was said to him, "May Allah have mercy on you, why don't you answer?" He replied, "So that I know whether virtue lies in my silence or in answering!" [Sifat al-Fatwa, Ahmad ibn Hamdan / p.10]. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on him, despite his vast knowledge, often responded to questions with: "I do not know."


Indeed, these Islamic schools of thought have spread widely and have been widely adopted in Muslim countries. They continue to serve as a reference point for Muslims to this day, acting as factors in the immunity and unity of the Muslim community. Scholars have always cautioned against deviating from them. Renowned scholars such as Mohammad Zahid al-Kawthari in his book "Non-Madhabism: The Bridge of Irreligion" and Dr. Mohammad Said al-Buti in his book "Non-Madhabism: The Most Dangerous Innovation Threatening Islamic Law" have written extensively on the importance of adhering to these schools of thought and the dangers of departing from them.


Indeed, scholars in various fields of Islamic sciences used to follow the Imam al-Shafi'i in jurisprudence. Among the scholars of the principles of jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) were al-Ghazali, al-Baydawi, al-Juwayni, al-Razi, and al-Sabki. Among the scholars of Hadith were al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, al-Daraqutni, Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Ibn Hibban, and Abu Nu'aim. Among the historians were al-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Asakir, and Ibn al-Athir. Among the exegetes were al-Mawardi and al-Baghawi. Among the Qur'an reciters was Ibn al-Jazari. Among the scholars of language were Ibn Malik, Ibn 'Aqil, Ibn Hisham, and many others.


This initiative has a significant impact on regulating the jurisprudential authority within the community, which reflects positively on unity, harmony among people, spreading awareness, fostering love among individuals, and ensuring prevention of chaos in issuing religious rulings.










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