Fiqh & Shari'ah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Here are some points we need to understand about fiqh, jurisprudence.

Firstly, fiqh is not shari’ah.  Shari’ah, from the Arabic word for “watering hole”, is Revelation.  Fiqh, from the Arabic word meaning “understanding”, is the activity of studying Revelation and driving rulings from it.  The former is Divine, the latter is man-made.  The former is inerrant, the latter can be mistaken.

Secondly, there is no such thing in Islam as a person giving a verse or a hadits and we must follow.  Verses and ahadits in isolation do not tell us anything. let alone become a hukm, a ruling.

Thirdly, understanding of fiqh also means understanding the underlying causes and circumstances by which a ruling is derived.  As Shaykh Ahmad ibn Muhmmad at-Tijani (r.a.) said, fiqh has a makan, a place, and a zaman, a time. That means, we cannot simply open some book of classical fiqh and import those rulings.  The circumstances might have changed and those rulings are obsolete.

Shari’ah is a wasilah, a means, to the Divine Intent.  By itself, it is neither sacred nor divine.  And when shari’ah becomes a means to zhulm, oppression and fasad, corruption, it is no longer shari’ah.


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