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Sources of Islamic Law

It is important to remember that tashree', the process of implementing the sharee'ah is in Allah's hands alone and is communicated through the revelation (including the Qur'aan and authentic Sunnah).

There are also two other sources of Islam, al Ijmaa' and al Qiyaas. These are two sources which allow us to understand the revelation and are not actually sources outside of the revelation but are tools to understand and clarify them.

Al Ijmaa'

Ijmaa' is ittifaaq ul mujtahidin hadhih-il-ummah ba'd-an-nabi 'ala hukm-ish-shar'ee. This includes 5 parts:

Ittifaaq: There should be complete agreement, and if even one disputes, ijmaa' is not established.
Mujtahidun: These are the exceptional scholars have the understand of the Qur'aan, Hadith and their sciences as well as the principles of the religion. There were only about 13 among the companions as mentioned in lesson 3. In a particular time, if all of these are in agreement on something, this constitutes ittifaaq ul mujtihadin
Hadhih-il-ummah: The mujtahidun must be muslim. Agreement/disagreement of the non-muslims does not have any affect on ijmaa'
Ba'd-an-nabi: There was no such thing as ijmaa' during the time of the prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam as he was among them and would order/prohibit/aprove of issues.
'Ala hukm-ish-shar'ee: The agreement must be in relation to an Islamic ruling to be considered as ijmaa' and a source of Islamic law.

During the time of Abu Bakr and Umar radiyAllahu 'anhum, all the mujtahidun were together in Madinah, it was easier to establish ijmaa' as if a ruling was given by one of them and noone objected, this would constitute agreement. Such ijmaa', which does not require reports to the affect of agreement from each of them, is known as al ijmaa' adh dhanni.

In later times, when the mujtahidun were scattered, establishment of ijmaa' is more difficult and it must be proven by reports that all were informed and agreed. Ijmaa' established through reports of agreement is known as al ijmaa' al qat'i.

Proof for Ijmaa'

"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (SAW), if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination." [4:59]

The proof for ijmaa' lies in the words "if you differ in anything...refer it to Allah and His messenger". Thus if there is no dispute between those in authority (the scholars), there is no need to refer it to Allah and His messenger (the Qur'aan and Sunnah) as it is already in accordance with them.

"Allah will never gather my ummah upon misguidance"

(Al Haakim from ibn 'Umar and others)

"Thus We have made you the best nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) be a witness over you..." [2:143]

If those who are witnesses over the whole mankind agree upon something, this can never be wrong.

Therefore, these all prove the validity of Ijmaa' as the third source of Islamic law.

Al Qiyaas

The scholars said that this is dhann, conjecture or assumption. Some were in favour and some were against using it.

Validity as a source of Islamic law:

"And most of them follow nothing but conjecture (dhann). Certainly, conjecture can be of no avail against the truth. Surely, Allah is All-Aware of what they do." [10:36]

"(They are those) who are certain (have dhann) that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return." [2:46]

Based on these dhann can lead one to the truth or falsehood.

Ibn ul Qayyim mentioned that there are 43 places in the Qur'aan where Allah gives examples. Allah also says:

"And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none will understand them except those who have knowledge." [29:43]

Such examples are given to make clear to people just as the examples of waking after sleep or the land becoming fertile after being barren show Allah's ability to resurrect man after death. The conclusion from this is that as long as the Qiyaas is done in the correct way, it can lead to the truth.

Types of Qiyaas

Qiyaas comes from the verb Qaasa, meaning to measure or compare. Qiyaas is of various types and has been classified differently by many scholars. Ibn ul Qayyim mentioned the following:

Qiyaas ul 'illah: An analogy is made between two things because of a common reason between the two. For example, in [6:6], Allah mentions those who were established and prosperous on the earth. Allah mentions that they were destroyed because of their sins.
In this type, there 4 components: An 'asl, the root, which is the previous nations. A far', the branch, which is the people who are addressed (our nation). An 'illah, the common reason, which is the sins. And the hukm, the outcome, which is the destruction. Therefore the Qiyaas made in this ayah is that if our nation commits sins like the previous nation, we too can be destroyed because of it.
Qiyaas ud-dalaalah: An analogy is made between something that is happening in front of you and something that is going to happen in future. For example, in [22:5], Allah mentions the formation of man in the womb and his life on this world to clear doubts about the resurrection.
Qiyaas ush-shubh: An analogy is made based on some apparent similarity. This is a invalid qiyaas and is not acceptable in Islamic law. For example, in [12:77], the brothers of Yusuf 'alayhis-salaam said that Binyamin stole as Yusuf stole. They made the Qiyaas based on the fact that Yusuf was the brother of Binyamin and because of that, they would do the same thing.
Another example of this lies in the statement of the disbelievers to their prophets when they said "we do not see you except as a man like us". The Qiyaas is based on the prophet being a man and thus, they believed he could not receive revelation.
A third example lies in the statement of the disbelievers when they said "The trade is like interest". The Qiyaas is based on both being some transaction between two people were profit is gained.

Major kinds of misguidance in regards to these sources

Rejecting the sunnah completely because it contains weakness:

“Soon it will be that a man will recline on his couch and will be told a statement of my statements and will say: ‘Between us and you is the book of Allah. What we find therein of the halaal we take as halaal and what we find therein of haraam we take as haraam.’ But truly, what the messenger of Allah has forbidden is similar to what Allah has forbidden.”

(Ahmad, At Tirmidhi and ibn Maajah from Al Miqdaam ibn Ma'd)

Thus this is something explicitly prohibited by the prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam and constitutes rejection of all of those verses where obedience to the prophet is mentioned and may even constitute disbelief.

Accepting the sunnah for issues of worship only:

Those who have this view base it on the following hadith reported by Musa ibn Talha:

"I and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) happened to pass by people near the date-palm trees. He (the Holy Prophet) said: "What are these people doing?" They said: "They are grafting, i. e. they combine the male with the female (tree) and thus they yield more fruit." Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: "I do not find it to be of any use." The people were informed about it and they abandoned this practice. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) (was later) on informed (that the yield had dwindled), whereupon he said: "If there is any use of it, then they should do it, for it was just a personal opinion of mine, and do not go after my personal opinion; but when I say to you anything on behalf of Allah, then do accept it, for I do not attribute lie to Allah, the Exalted and Glorious.""

(Muslim and others)

This does not mean that Islam has nothing to do with customs or worldly dealings as is clear from the commands in the Qur'aan and Sunnah regarding things like entering a house, eating, drinking, inheritance, etc. The actual consequence of this hadith concerns those things which do not have a ruling associated with them. In such issues, we should do what we believe is best.

Considering the aim of the sharee'ah to benefit mankind using one's desires:

This is based on the following statement: The sharee'ah of Islam only came for the good of mankind. Therefore, whatever is good we will take and whatever is harmful we will leave.

The scholars said that this is a statement of truth through which falsehood is sought. It is true that the sharee'ah came to benefit people. However, man does not know what is good for him and cannot judge this by his own desires as Allah says:

"Jihad is ordained for you though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know." [2:216]

Thus the basis of what is considered beneficial and harmful should be based on what Allah determines to be beneficial and harmful.

There are three kinds of rulings in the sharee'ah:

Things in which there is some apparent harm but Allah has prescribed due to the immense good within. Examples include fasting, jihad, qisaas (retribution for killing), etc.
Things in which there is some apparent benefit but Allah has prohibited due to immense harm within. Examples include wine, gambling, interest, etc.
Things Allah has neither prescribed nor prohibited and are seen as beneficial by some and harmful by others. For example, the prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam refused to eat a kind of food which Khalid ibn ul Waleed ate in front of him.