Sources Of Islamic Law: Explaining Sources Of Islamic Sharia Law
Sources Of Islamic Law - The religious and legal thinking of Islam is based on some fundamental principles and procedures. These principles form the fundamental sources of Islamic Law and are known as Shariah. The Shariah is meant to govern all aspects of a Muslim's life.
The Four Fundamental Sources of Law are:
Among these first two are known as primary sources while the Ijma & Qiyas are known as Secondary sources of Islamic Laws.
1. The Holy Quran
2. Hadeeth and Sunnah
3. Ijma ( Consensus)
4. Qiyas ( Analogy)
Primary Sources Of Islamic Laws
A). QUR'AN As First Source
The Holy Quran is the first and the foremost source of Islam's religious and legal thinking. The Quran forms the basis of all legal and judicial matters.
“(O Prophet (p.b.u.h) ) surely, We have revealed the Book to you with truth so that you may judge between people by means of what Allah has taught you” (4:105)
The Quran Law deals with beliefs, morality, worship, evil transactions, punishment for intentional injury to the human body, property and honour, murder, breach of public peace such as robbery, offenses against religion such a non-payment of Zakat, against indecency, adultery, use of intoxicants, gambling and rebellion. The Quran also lays down rules and regulations pertaining to social life, commerce, economics, marriage, inheritance, penal laws and international conduct. The Quran says:
“Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up fire into their own bodies” ( 4:10)
B). SUNNA'H As Second Source
The Hadith or the Sunnah forms the second basic religious and legal source of Islamic law. Hadith are the words of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and Sunnah are the actions and deeds of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). The Quran mostly embodies general rules and regulations about various aspects of life. It's the Sunnah or the Hadith which provides their detailed interpretation and explanations. For example the Quran says,
“To establish regular prayers and to fear Allah: for it is to Him that we shall be gathered together.” (6:72)
In Hadith and Sunnah we find the explanation and details of offering salah. At various times, situations and circumstances, the Prophet (p.b.u.h) said
"Pray as you have seen me …..”
Practically, no topic under the sun has been omitted in the Hadith teachings. So after Holy Quran, the sayings of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), this is the biggest source of Islamic law about various fields of life. A number of authentic books of hadith are available and scholars have spent their entire life time compiling these books.
A). Ijma As Third Source Of Islamic Law
Consensus of opinion or Ijma is the third source of Islamic law. Ijma literally means “agreeing upon”, “uniting in opinion”, etc. Ijma is applicable only when an issue or a problem is not clearly explained in the Holy Quran and Hadith. The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) has himself demonstrated Ijma many times.
Ijma is applicable only when there is total agreement or complete harmony of views and opinions. If some scholars or theologians agree and some differ and subscribe to a different opinion, then Ijma is not applicable in such a case.
There are three types of Ijma; Ijma of the Sahaba, Ijma of the Scholars and Ijma of the General Community (Ummat).
B). Qiyas As Fourth Source Of Islamic Law
Qiyas is the fourth source of Islamic law. Qiyas means “judging”, “comparing”, and “analogical deduction”. It is using human reasoning to compare and contrast the similarities and dissimilarities between a new situation or case and the already decided situations and cases, with the view to arrive at a conclusion. For example, the Holy Quran prohibits wine and gambling. Applying Qiyas reasoning would mean that all other forms of illicit drinks causing intoxication could also be declared as unlawful. It may be noted that in order to be valid, all Qiyas deductions have to remain within the bounds of Quran and Sunnah.
To recapitulate, the Holy Quran serves as a comprehensive code of guidance and reform. The Sunnah supplements and elaborates the Quranic fundaments. The enlightening institutions of Ijma (consensus) and Qiyas (analogy) serve to streamline and strengthen the legal thinking and judicial procedures of Islam and constitute the sources of Islamic law.
Last Updated: 21/7/2015