HOME BLOG QURANIC HADITH FIQH tGFH English CONTACT hamburger menubar icon

What is Islamic Fiqh?

With Links to Fiqh-Questions & Answers

Ed. OmarKN

Tweet #omarkn


1. Texts on this Page

□ 1.1 A Frank Warning, OmarKN
□ 1.2 The Danger of Opposing His Command; Qadi ʿIyad
□ 1.3 A Warning From Imam Al-Ghazali
□ 1.4a On The Original Meaning Of Fiqh (1); Imam Al-Ghazali
□ 1.4b On The Original Meaning Of Fiqh (2); Imam Al-Ghazali
□ 1.4c Fiqh - The Art of Prophetic Compliance
□ 1.5 Usul al-Fiqh - The Roots of the Law
□ 1.6 Maqāsid al-Shariʿah

2. Links to 188+ Fiqh Questions & Answers

Motherlist of 188+ Fiqh Issues Questions & Answers
Same as above, but per section: Q & A [1]   [2]  [3]  [4]
   = Answered by Sh G F Haddad =

3. Related Texts on LivingIslam.org

link-in An Example Of Al-Shafiʿi's Jurisprudence, G F Haddad
link-in The Superiority Of Fiqh Over Hadith, G F Haddad
link-in The Meaning of Sunna, G F Haddad
link-in Fiqh-texts acc. to Hanbali madhhab, Sh Musa Furber

1.1 A Frank Warning

A warning is obviously a message 'to tell people about a possible danger, problem, or other unpleasant thing that might happen.'

Here this warning is part of Allah's guidance to mankind, because in reality no-one is secure from His devising; as He says in the Qur'an:

{ أَفَأَمِنُوا مَكْرَ اللّٰهِ فَلَا يَأْمَنُ مَكْرَ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ }

{ What! do they then feel secure from Allah's plan? But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish. }
Sura Yunus 7, verse 99

This state of mind - of feeling secure - is of course a consequence of a lack of true knowledge of reakity and of adhering to one's preformed ill-fated conceptions about it and about the purpose of existence in the first place; as Allah says an He speaks the truth:

{ وَمِنْهُمْ أُمِّيُّونَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا أَمَانِيَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ }

{ What! Then there are among them some un-lettered people who have no knowledge of the Book but depend on empty hopes and are guided by mere conjecture and guess-work. }
Sura al-Baqara 2, verse 78

"This refers to the common people of the Jews, who were totally ignorant of the teachings of their own Scriptures. They had neither any knowledge of the fundamentals of religion, nor of the regulations concerning morality and rules of everyday life; nor of the principles leading to ultimate success and failure. And the pity is that they had formed their own notions about religion without this knowledge and were living on false hopes."[2]

We say 'ill-fated' because: "there are many people who are given time (by Allah) through good treatment towards them, and many get into deception because their sinful activities are veiled (by Allah) and many get enamoured by good talk about themselves. And Allah does not try anyone as seriously as He tries him whom He allows time (to remain sinful)." Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib

This false security and adherence to misconceptions and misdeeds leads - more often than not - to opposing the Allah's command and ignoring his chosen Prophet through observing his way of life ﷺ, he who is the best of creation.

May Allah protect us from this lowly state of affairs.

See also: A warning from Imam Al-Ghazali down

1.2 The Danger of Opposing His Command

Source: Qadi ʿIyad; Ash-Shifa

Opposing his [the Prophet's] command and changing his Sunna is misguidance and innovation. It is threatened by Allah with utter bereftness and punishment.

{ فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَن تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ }

Allah says, {"Let those who oppose his command beware of a trial that might strike them or a painful punishment that might befall them,"} (Sura an-nūr 24, verse 63) and {"Whoever splits from the Messenger after the guidance is clear to him and follows other than the path of the believers, We shall entrust him to what he has turned to."} (Sura an-nisā 4, verse 114)

Abu Hurayra said that once the Messenger of Allah ﷺ went to visit some graves and, while there, described his community saying, "Some men will be driven away from my Basin as a stray camel is driven off. I will call to them, 'Come here! Come here!' It will be said, 'They made changes after you.' Then I will say, 'Get away! Get away!'" (Muslim, Malik, Abu Dawūd and an-Nasā'i )

Anas related that the Prophet ﷺ said,
"Anyone who dislikes my Sunna is not of me." (Muslim and Al-Bukhāri)

The Prophet ﷺ said, "Anyone who adds something to my commands which is not part of them is a renegade." (Muslim and Al-Bukhāri)

Ibn Abi Rafiʿ related from his father that the Prophet ﷺ said, "Do not let any of you be found reclining on his bed when he hears an injunction from me which is from among those things which I myself have commanded or forbidden so that he says, 'I do not know. We only follow what we find in the Book of Allah.'" He added a version of the hadith from al-Miqdam, "What the Messenger of Allah makes unlawful is like what Allah makes unlawful."
(Abu Dawūd, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Once when some writing on a shoulder-blade was brought to him, the Prophet ﷺ said, "People are stupid enough to dislike, what their Prophet has brought them, preferring someone else to their Prophet or another book to their book." So it was revealed, { or is it not enough for them that We sent down the Book on them which is recited to them? } (Sura al-ʿAnkabut (29) verse 51)
(Abu Dawūd, ad-Darimi, Ibn Jarir and others )

The Prophet ﷺ , may Allah bless him and grant him peace said:
"Those who go to extremes in speech will be destroyed."
(Muslim via Ibn Masʿūd)

Abu Bakr as-Siddiq رضي الله عنه   said:
"I have not omitted doing anything that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to do.
I feared that I would deviate if left out any of his commands."

1.3 A Warning From Imam Al-Ghazali

Source: Introduction to the Ihya' ʿUlum al-Din, Imam Al-Ghazali

Regarding the Path of the Hereafter

Imam Al-Ghazali رضي الله عنه   wrote:
I proceed to enlighten you, who are the most self-righteous of those who reject belief, and you, who are the most immoderate of the thoughtless unbelievers.

I am no longer obliged to remain silent, because the responsibility to speak, as well as warn you, has been imposed upon me by your persistent straying from the clear truth, and by your insistence upon fostering evil, flattering ignorance, and stirring up opposition against him who, in order to conform to the dictates of knowledge, deviates from custom and the established practice of men. In doing this he fulfils Allah's prescriptions for purifying the self and reforming the heart, thus somewhat redeeming a life, which has already been dissipated in despair of prevention and remedy, and avoids by it the company of him whom the Lawgiver - Prophet Muhammad ﷺ - described when he said:
"The most severely punished of all men on the day of resurrection will be a learned man whom Allah has not blessed with His knowledge."

For, by my life, there is no reason for your abiding arrogance except the malady which has become an epidemic among the multitudes. That malady consists in not discerning this matter's importance, the gravity of the problem, and the seriousness of the crisis; in not seeing that life is waning and that what is to come is close at hand, that death is imminent but that the journey is still long, that the provisions are scanty, the dangers great, and the road blocked.

The perceptive know that only knowledge and works devoted to Allah avail.

To tread the crowded and dangerous path of the Hereafter with neither guide nor companion is difficult, tiring, and strenuous. The guides for the road are the learned men who are the heirs of the Prophet ﷺ , but the times are void of them now and only the superficial are left, most of whom have been lured by iniquity and overcome by Satan.

Everyone of them was so wrapped up in his immediate fortune that he came to see good as evil and evil as good, so that the science of religion disappeared and the torch of the true faith was extinguished all over the world.

They duped the people into believing that there was no knowledge except such ordinances of government as the judges use to settle disputes when the mob dots; or the type of argument which the vainglorious displays in order to confuse and refute; or the elaborate and flowery language with which the preacher seeks to lure the common folk.

They did this, because apart from these three, they could find no other ways to snare illegal profit and gain the riches of the world. On the other hand the science of the path of the hereafter, which our forefathers trod and which includes what Allah in His Book called law, wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment, light, guidance, and righteousness, has vanished from among men and been completely forgotten.

Since this is a calamity afflicting religion and a grave crisis overshadowing it, I have therefore deemed it important to engage in the writing of this book;
to revive the science of religion, to bring to light the exemplary lives of the departed imams, and to show what branches of knowledge the prophets and the virtuous fathers regarded as useful.

I have divided the work into four parts or quarters. These are:
- the Acts of Worship,
- the Usages of Life,
- the Destructive Matters in Life, and
- the Saving Matters in Life.

1.4a On the Original Meaning of Fiqh (1)

Source: Al-Ghazali; The Book Of Knowledge, Idara Isha'at-E-Diniyat, New Delhi (India); p.77

Imam Al-Ghazali رضي الله عنه   on the original meaning of fiqh:

The first term to be affected was fiqh [Arabic root: fqh, to be wise, to understand], whose meaning has been tampered with not so much by alteration and change, but by limitation. ...

But in the early period of Islam the term jurisprudence (fiqh) was applied to the science of the path of the hereafter and the knowledge of the subtle defects of the soul (or: the science of the hereafter and the nature of the heart), the influences of which render works corrupt, the thorough realization of the inferiority of this life, the urgent expectation of bliss in the hereafter, and the domination of fear in the heart.
This is indicated by the words of Allah when He says:

{ لِيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ }

{… that they may instruct themselves in their religion,
and may warn their people when they come back to them.}
Sura 9-122

Jurisprudence (fiqh) is therefore that which brings about such a warning and such a fear rather than details of (for example) ordinary divorce or divorce through li'an, or salam contracts, and hire, rental and lease (etc) which produce neither warnings nor fear.

On the contrary to devote oneself exclusively to these things hardens the heart and removes from it all fear which is exactly what we now see in those who have so devoted themselves. Allah says thus: { Hearts have they with which they understand not.} Sura 7-179 having had in mind the meaning of faith (iman), not of legal opinions. Upon my life the word fiqh (discernment), now used for jurisprudence, and the word fahm (understanding) are nothing but two names for the same thing. At the present time, however, they are used both in their earlier and also their newer significance.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Shall I tell you who is the profoundly discerning man? ...
It is he who has not induced people to dispair of the mercy of Allah; nor made them feel safe (rather than urge them to repent) during the period of respite, which Allah – out of His patience – gives unto man; nor made them lose hope in the spirit of God; nor discarded the Qur'an in favour of something else.”

When Anas ibn Malik related the following words of the Prophet ﷺ :
“I prefer sitting in the company of men who praise Allah from the sunset until sunrise to the setting free of four slaves,” he turned to Yazid al-Raqahi and Ziyad al-Numayri and said: “Our meetings of invocation dhikr were different from your present gatherings in which one of you delivers his sermons before his friends and recites traditions.

We used to sit and ponder over the articles of faith, study the meaning of the Qur'an, enlighten ourselves in matters of religion and enumerate the blessings of Allah upon us.

→ Hence the process of studying the meaning of the Qur'an and of enumerating the blessings of Allah was called enlightenment.

The second term to have been altered is the science of religion (al-ʿilm) which used to be applied to the knowledge of God, His miracles, and His works among His servants and creatures. When, therefore (the Caliph) `Umar  رضي الله عنه   died, Ibn Masʿud رضي الله عنه  exclaimed: “Verily nine-tenths is the science of religion (al-ʿilm) has passed away. He thus designated this knowledge as the science, using the definite article, and then explained it as the knowledge of Allah.”

1.4b On the Original Meaning of Fiqh (2)

Ihya ʿUlūm ud-Dīn, Imam Al-Ghazali, Ch. On Knowledge, p.49

Change of the meanings of some words connected with knowledge.
The people have changed the original meanings of the words fiqh, ʿilm, tawhīd, tazkir, and hikma and have given them meanings of their own. As a result they have now become blameworthy.

Fiqh (religious learning/ understanding)
It has now the meaning of the science of unusual legal cases, mystery of the minutest details of jurisprudence and excessive debates on them. The man who gives attention to such a science is now called faqīh or jurisprudent.

In the first century, it had a different meaning. It was a science of the path of the Hereafter and knowledge of the beneficial and harmful matters of the soul, knowledge of the meaning of the Quran and the domination of taqwa (reverential fear of Allah) over the heart. This is proven by the words of Allah in the following verse:

{ لِيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ }

{ That they may obtain understanding in the religion (/devote themselves to studies /gain sound knowledge/ in religion) and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious (/guard themselves against evil).}

_Fiqh_ or jurisprudence is that which gives such a warning and (reverential) fear (of Allah) rather than the details of divorce, manumission, rental and so on. Allah says:

{ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَّا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا }

{They have got Hearts but they do not understand therewith.}

Those who were present before the Prophet ﷺ - (the blessings and peace of Allah upon him) did not know the details of laws.
End of quote

1.4c Fiqh - The Art of Prophetic Compliance

Ahmadou Bamba – Abdal Hakim Murad: Paradigms of Leadership

"Fiqh is the faithfully resourced and transmitted art of prophetic compliance and ultimately an exercise in sorting out good practice from ego-practice and identifying the good practice in the way of the Chosen one ﷺ (the blessings and peace of Allah upon him)."[4]

1.5 Usul al-Fiqh

(Usul al-Fiqh is about the) Roots of (the Sacred) law (of Islam).
The body of principles and investigative methodologies through which practical legal rules are developed from the foundational sources.
The primary base of law is the Quran.
The second source is the Sunnah, reports about the sayings, actions, or tacit approvals of the Prophet.
The third source is the consensus (ijma ) of all Muslim interpretive scholars in a specific age on a legal rule about an issue not covered in the Quran or Sunnah. Most Sunni scholars consider consensus binding; others, including Shii scholars, say such consensus is impossible.
The fourth source is analogy (qiyas ), or rule by precedent. Some Hanafis, such as Ibn Abidin and Maliki jurists, consider urf  (custom) to be an additional source of law.
In addition to these basic sources, several presumptions and principles aid the jurist in deriving interpretive rules: preference (istihsan ), unregulated interest (maslahah mursalah ), and the presumption of continuity (istishab ). This field is also concerned with hermeneutic and deductive principles.[1]

1.6 Maqāsid al-Shariʿah

Maqāsid al-Shariʿah is about the purpose of the Law/ Sharia. It is to achieve peoples' welfare, i.e. to do good for the people (taḥqīq maṣālih al ʿibād ).

Its substantive components are the following five, with an additional as point 6.[3]

1. Protection and preservation of life

2. Preservation of intellect (ʿaql)

3. Protection of lineage/ family
- - To make sure for people who are born to know who their parents are, and to be able to live with a family that takes care of them.

4. Protection of reputation/ privacy/ sanctity of home
- - This is also against slander.
- - You have a right to your good name.

5. Protection of property

+6. Protection of religion
- - You have a vested interest in believing whatever your religious beliefs are. Possessing these beliefs and acting on them.
- - This is a right also for non-Muslims.
- - The very establishing of the jizya/ poll tax is to preserve the right of non-Muslims to believe in what they wish to believe.
- - This does not include the right to disbelief.[3]

Source: The Moral Potential of Shariah: How Are We Faring? Usuli Institute Khutbah, 11 November 2022 - YouTube


"The Shariah of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him & give him peace) was sent to protect five fundamental interests or universals (maqasid/kuliyyat): preservation of religion (hifz al-din), preservation of life (hifz al-nafs), preservation of intellect (hifz al-aql), preservation of lineage (hifz al-nasl), and preservation of wealth (hifz al-mal). Things that harm any of these five universals are contrary to the very foundations of Divine Law."
link-in Islamic Stance on the Recent London Bombings, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari


Today is

"In any case, what Westerners call civilization, the others would call barbarity, because it is precisely lacking in the essential, that is to say, a principle of a higher order."
René Guénon, East And West, 1924

صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions, ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) .



Related texts at * living islam - Islamic tradition *
link-in The Meaning Of Sunna GFH
link-in Frequent Questions About Islam And Religion, FAQ
link-in The Probativeness of the Sunna "Whoever obeys Muhammad, obeys Allah" GFH
link-in The Islamic Response to Terrorism - Not war and not terrorism!

  1. Go deeper:
    Confessions, or Deliverance from Error (The Munkidh min al-Dalal)

  2. Maududi's comment

  3. "The protection of life, intellect, lineage, reputation, and property. Many jurists, especially in later periods of Islamic history, added the protection of religion, meaning that you have a vested interest in believing, possessing, and acting upon whatever your religious beliefs are. In fact, they argued that this right extended not just to Muslims to believe what they wish to believe, but also to non-Muslims."

    "They argued that the very institution of the jizya, or the poll tax, is to preserve the right of non-Muslims to believe in what they wish to believe."

    "However, as is quite typical of medieval thinking, it is hardly surprising that they did not think that the value of the right to religion included the right to disbelief. While they argued that people have a right to be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Hindu, they did not believe that this right included a right to not believe in God or not believe in anything at all." Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl

  4. (14) Ahmadou Bamba – Abdal Hakim Murad: Paradigms of Leadership - YouTube


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *