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Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence

1. Introduction

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Each religion may have different understandings on matters due to the different type of sources they have obtained. In Islam, the jurists named law as shariah.1 Shariah can be defined as the study of law. The shariah sources are the sources of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) that agreed upon the Quran, the sunnah, consensus of opinion and analogy. Nowadays, fiqh is said to be the sciences of jurisprudence. Islamic jurisprudence is about the religious and legal system of the Muslim. Therefore, it has two parts to deal with. First are the religious observances, and the affairs of hereafter like prayer. The second are concerned with the affairs of the world including criminal law, family law, and transactions.2

Today, Muslim is divided into Sunnis and Shiahs due to the fast spread of Islamic territory in the world. Hence, the schools formed in different places replicated the local preferences. For example, the methods used in Medina are more traditional while in Iraq, they are more towards their own opinions. Besides, Islamic jurisprudence has urbanized over fourteen centuries. During that time, many different schools of jurisprudence have been expanding. Due to the different interpretive approaches and applications towards the different type of issues in the society, these schools have separated away from each others. Following the death of each perspective followers, these schools had become extinct.3 However, a few of the schools survived and expanded slowly.

1 2

Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 5. Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 10. 3 Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 17.

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During the risen Abbasid state, the science of jurisprudence prospered and was at its peak age. At that period, the four Sunnis schools of law that survived are the Hanafi school, the Maliki school, the Shafii school, and the Hanbali school. Each of these schools was established by different Imams and their companions. They collected traditions, wrote the commentaries of the Quran, and compiled the science of sources4. More, the primary source that they used was the Quran, followed by the sunnah, and consensus of the opinion and analogy.

The people of Traditions were a group led by the Imam of Maliki School in Hijaz. Its jurists were well-known for better principles as the fact that sunnah was found in Hijaz territory. Also, they live a nomadic life. In Hijaz, shariah texts and the agreement of the jurists derived fatwas. On the other hand, situation in Iraq was the opposite ways from in Hijaz. The jurists there used reason and opinion as their authority, or alternative to an understanding using analogy and equity. According to the degree of their recourse to opinion, general assumed that the Hanafi school would be the first, followed by the ShafiI, the Maliki, and the last one would be Hanbali school.

Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 17.

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As mentioned above were a brief description of Islamic Jurisprudence which related to the four schools of though. The aim of writing this report is to elaborate on the four schools of thought. I will also explain on what have the perspective Imams contributed to their societies. Other than that, I will discuss more on whether these contributions still can be applied to some matters such as the social and moral issues, trading activities and law nowadays.

2. Methodology

For this report, my primary source was from the researches that I gathered from Islamic website pages using the internet. Furthermore, as my secondary source, I also collected some information from the textbook of Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani called The Philosophy of Jurisprudence in Islam or Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam

Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence


3. Findings
3.1. The Four Schools of Thought & their contributions

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As mentioned before, there were many schools formed in Islam. Each of them has different point of views. Some of the schools which were quite famous among the Muslim during the golden period of the Abbasids are the four schools of thought. These four schools were the Hanafi school, the Maliki school, the ShafiI school, and the Hanbali school. Each of the schools contributed different opinions and rules to the society.

3.1.1. The Hanafi School The Hanafi school was the oldest, but considered as the most open-minded school among the four. It also emphasised more on human reason, and consists of most followers.5 The founder of the Hanafi school was Imam Abu Hanifah an-Numan ibn Thabit. He was born in Kufah in the year 80 A.H. (699 A.D.). He was also known as the Great Imam due to the contributions provided by Imam Abu Hanifah. Imam Abu Hanifah was instructed in the jurisprudence of the Kufah school. Other than that, he was a merchant selling textile.

Taken from the TripAtlas.com.

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His knowledge and merchant career gave him an extraordinary ability of using the rules of reason and logic in applying the shariah rules to useful matters of life. It also helped him to widen the rules by means of analogy (qiyas) and equity (istihsan). As a result, the Hanafi school was called by the public as the school of the People of Opinion (Ahl al-Ray). 6

This knowledge of ours is opinion; it is the best we have been able to achieve. He who is able to arrive at different conclusions is entitled to his opinion as we entitled to our own.7

Hanafis statement of belief is essentially non-hierarchical and decentralized, which has made it difficult for 20th century rulers to fit in its religious leaders into powerful centralized state systems. During the lifetime of Imam Abu Hanifah, he was called ignorant due to his belief in However, Imam Abu Hanifah rejected the offer of being the post of judge by the Governor of Iraq, Abu Jafar. Due to this, he was then put into imprisonment and poisoned. He passed away in 150 A.H. (767 A.D.). In the area of traditions, Abu Hanifah was very strict in investigating their genuineness, and would only accept some.

6 7

Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 19. Mentioned by Imam Abu Hanifah published by Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani in Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 19.

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Even though Imam Abu Hanifah passed away, his works in jurisprudence were passed down to the public by his companions. Of which the famous ones were Abu Yusuf, Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl ibn Qays, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Farqad alShaybani, and al-Hasan ibn Ziyad al-Lului. With them, the Hanafi school has became famous. More, Both Abu Yusuf and Muhammad were known as the Two Imams and the Two Companions.8

During 113-182 A.H., Abu Yusuf became the appointed judge in Baghdad and later, became the Chief Justice. As a result, he promoted the Hanafi school and improved it by contributing fatwas, and judging on the traditions which he thought to be genuine. He also received on authority of traditionalists he knew personally. On the other hand, this forced him to disagree with Imam Abu Hanifahs point of views. Abu Yusuf came up with a book named Kitab al-Kharaj which represented his views on taxation and the fiscal issues of the country.9

On the other hand, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani went to Medina where he made contact with the People of Traditions and learnt under Imam Malik which was the founder of Maliki school. Imam Muhammad was well-known for the compilation of the major books in the school and noted down rules related to the laws of legacy. Additional, his specialist was analysing the real and theoretical cases which he extended the system of deduction and induction. Imam Muhammad compiled two books called Zahir al-Riwayah (books of primary questions) and al-Nawadir (rare problems). 10 Many people set up rules based on these two books.

& Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 21.

10

10

Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 22.

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One important contribution, other than the ones mentioned above, was compilation of the books of fatwas. An example is al-Nawazil by the companions of Imam Abu Hanifah, but it was compiled based on their own understandings. Apart from that, al-Hidayah was one of the reliable books written in the Hanafi school. Another contribution was the greatest linguistic tafsir by Imam al-Zamakhshari whom is a Hanafi. 11

In todays society, some contributions of the Hanafi school are still applied in particular matters. The Hanafi school was well-known to the public as the school of fatwas, and even nowadays, fatwas are still mentioned and discussed by the Imam of many countries. For example, Malaysia banned the practices of yoga by the Muslim. 12 More, Imam Abu Hanifah banned the drinking of alcohol. Another example will be during an Islamic marriage. According to the Hanafi law, a wali (guardian) is only required if the bride is a virgin under a specific age.13 Nowadays, we can see that a guardian is always needed in every marriage, and hence, its contributions are still useful in this society.

3.1.2. The Maliki School The Maliki school was the second largest school of thought. It was established in the Medina by Imam Malik ibn Anas al-Asbashi in the year 95 A.H. (713 A.D.).14 Before that, a unique school known as the school of the People of Hijaz or of the People of Medina was emerged. The derivation was from the son of Umar ibn alKhattab and the wife of the Prophet. It was later represented by some famous jurists. Following this was the establishment of the Maliki school.
11 12

Mentioned by Shining Light, May 6, 2007. Reported in the Hindustan Times, October 30, 2008. 13 Taken from Jamila Hussain, published in Islam its law and society, 2004. 14 Published in Muxlim Blog by Rabz, 2008.

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The Maliki school adhered to the sources of Quran, the Prophets traditions (hadiths), consensus and analogy. Later, the Maliki school came to realize consensus to be of doctor law which is known as ulama. Imam Malik of Maliki school has stayed in Medina for all his life ever since he was born, except for the pilgrimage to Mecca. He was a legal specialist which attracted three Abbasid caliphs of which the second caliph came with a prosposal.15 The proposal was to set up a judicial system that would combine the different judicial methods that were functioning at that time throughout the Islamic world.

Imam Maliki was Medinas most talented man of learning and as well as a hadiths jurist.16 As known to public, Imam Malik was the teacher of al-Shafii (from the Shafii school). Al-Shafii mentioned that Imam Malik was like the Gods power among his being, and the knowledge he obtained was from Imam Malik. Imam Malik was a person who does not afraid to express his opinion.

While studying jurisprudence, Imam Malik stated traditions on their power and on the power of other followers to succeed them. As a result of him being the power on hadiths and jurisprudence. 17 He also wrote al-Muwatta on hadiths, resulted in a speech of al-Shafii, No book on earth after the Book of God is more accurate than the book of Malik.18 If the texts were unclear, Imam Malik will refer to analogy and a unique law in his school. This unique law is called al-masalih almursalah or public interest.

15 16

Mentioned by Shining Light, May 6, 2007. Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 25. 17 Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 25.
18

Mentioned by Shining Light, May 6, 2007.

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Other than the contributions from Imam Malik, his students also came up with a book known as al-Mudawwanah. This book is currently the main reference book for the public which was compiled by Asad ibn al-Furat. The Maliki school soon spread over the countries such as North Africa and Spain through Imam Maliks followers. The people of North Africa and Spain relied on the Maliki law as Medina was still on the center of learning while Iraq was not. They did not want to be restricted to what they could receive from learning the Maliki law.19 However, Imam Malik passed away in Medina in the year 179 A.H. (795 A.D.).

The Maliki law might not be used often nowadays, but still some of the contributions can be applied like the different methods of prayers. The Maliki method was differ from the other three schools. One of the methods was to look straight ahead at eye-level at the Ka'aba during the standing and sitting parts of the prayer, rather than looking down towards the place of prostration.20 However, this depends on the preference of the people.

Another example is the Nigerian case where by wives and daughters are allowed to a share in the estate of the deceased male kin according to the Maliki law. This shows a difference compared with the pre-lslamic hadith whereby inheritance was exclusively patrilineal, and where the eldest brother of the deceased inherited everything.21

19

Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 26. Published in TripAtlas, Maliki, 2009. Published by Thomas, G., 1994.

20 21

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3.1.3. The Shafii School The Shafii school was named after its founder, Imam Muhammad ibn Idris alShafii of the tribe of the Prophet. Imam al-Shafii was born in Gaza in the year 150 A.H. (767 A.D.). At the early stage of his career, he was a student of Imam Malik and the People of Traditions. Yet, his point of views changed due to his journey and experiences he had been through. Soon, he started his own school known as Iraqi (the earlier school). After his vacation in Egypt, he changed the new school known as Eqyptian.22

Imam al-Shafii was a civilized man whom excelled in linguistic matters in jurisprudence and hadiths. He also overcame many experiences. Imam Malik was skilful at deduction and dialectics, making use of penetrating intellect and expression. Due to these abilities, he combined the School of Opinion and the School of Traditions.

The Shafii school specified authority to four sources of jurisprudence, also known as the usul al-fiqh. The four sources were the Quran, the sunnah, consensus and analogy. Imam al-Shafii rejected the Hanafi school and Maliki school namely istihsan and al-masalih al-mursalah. On the other hand, he accepted istidlal which is a special method of reasoning. 23

22 23

Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 27. Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 27.

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The first to compile the source of law was Imam al-Shafii. Imam Shafi`i advanced towards the vital of the Islamic Shariah (Canon Law) distinctly in his own systematic methodology. 24 One of his contributions was the written in a systematic way on the origins of jurisprudence in his famous essay al-Risalah. Mentioned in the essay were the texts of the Quran, the compulsory religious observances, the imperfections of hadiths, the fundamentals for accepting a hadith, consensus of opinion of jurists, independent understanding, preference and analogy.25

The most important book written by Imam al-Shafii was al-Umm which was later compiled by the student of him. This book deals with a variety of features of jurisprudence such as transactions, religious observances, penal matters and the law of marriage. Another book written by Imam al-Shafii was Ikhtilaf al-Hadith which mainly consists of the hadiths mentioned in al-Umm.

Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi, the student of Imam al-Shafii, later spread the Shafii school over many areas. Not only that, he also contributed by publishing many books like al-Muhadhdhab. Another student, Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali also wrote books on sources of law, philosophy and jurisprudence.

The Shafii school was the official school of the country during the Ayyubid dynasty. There was a period of time when al-Azhar University was restricted to the educated of the Shafi school.26 The Shfi school is said to be one of the more traditional of the four schools of thought.

24 25

Published in TripAtlas, 2009. Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 28. 26 Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 29.

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In the modern times, it seems that the ShafiI law is less practiced. However, Sir Abdul Rahim had motivated some of the people by giving lectures to the public. He tried to compare between the Islamic law and the European principles of jurisprudence. He found out that most people would relate to Quran, hadiths, consensus and analogy when asked of the sources of law. Worship and laws like criminal law and law of legacy would not be considered. Therefore, his achievement was the combination of both Islamic and modern learning in term of comparative work. 27

3.1.4. The Hanbali School

Imam Abu Abdullah Ahmad ibn Hanbal was the founder of the Hanbali school. He was born in Baghdad in the year 164 A.H. (780 A.D.). He passed away in 241 A.H. (855 A.D.). Imam Ahmad was a traveller who was in search of knowledge and hadiths. He compiled a major work known as Musnad al-Imam Ahmad. This book consists of more than 40, 000 hadiths.28 Differed from the other schools of thought, Imam Ahmad only relied on the Quran and sunnah. He preferred a weak hadith to a strong analogy. This was also why the Hanbali school was more strict than the rest.

Later, Imam Ahmad established an independent school based on five main sources. These sources were the texts of Quran and sunnah, the fatwas of the Companions, if there were nothing to oppose them, the sayings of certain of the Companions when these were dependable with the Quran and sunnah, daif and mursal hadiths, and lastly, reasoning by analogy.29

27 28

Published by Dr. M.Hamidullah. Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 30. 29 Published in TripAtlas, 2009.

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Muwaffaq al-Din ibn Qudamah, the follower of Imam Ahmad, was the author of one of the greatest books on Islamic jurisprudence, al- Mughni. Other than that, the other followers were also famous for writing fatwas, and some well-known books. The Hanbali school was the least widespread among the schools of law, but now, it is the official school of Saudi Arabia, and its followers have been increasing up to five million people.30 It is also the easiest school, but the hardest in term of social and personal regulations. Nowadays, the Hanbali law is mostly applicable in Saudi Arabia due to its strictness of sources. Still, it is also applied to prayer by some people. By using the Hanbali law, the prayer must be repeated twice without any excuses.

4. Conclusions
For my conclusion, the four schools of thought each have their own understandings and point of views. The Hanafi school was the first school and the Hanbali school being the last. They had different supporters from different countries. These four schools resembled similarity which they used the same sources of law. However, their differentiations were formed based on their own interpretations and the different type of contributions. Hopefully, these four schools of thought will keep on expanding until the end.

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Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam, 32.

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5. References

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Sobhi Rajab Mahmassani, 2009. Falsafat Al-Tashrifi Al-Islam; The Philosophy of Jurisprudence in Islam. Dr. M. Hamidullah, (n.d.). Contributions of Al-Shafii. http://muslimcanada.org/contribution_shafi.html Husam Hourani, 24th May,2005. The three principles of Islamic finance explained. http://www.iflr.com/Article/1984844/The-three-principles-of-Islamic-financeexplained.html Jamila Hussain, 2004. Islam its law and society (ed. 2). http://books.google.com.bn/books?id=_IdBJ0m53n8C&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35&dq= What+are+the+four+schools+of+thought+in+Islam%3F&source=bl&ots=Bc2HqLE akN&sig=JjZWr8IwAMZJ4oMUUtW5g13mxA&hl=en&ei=mLneSsPnCZGssgOnwpTYDw&sa=X&oi= book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBYQ6AEwAzgU#v=onepage&q=What %20are%20the%20four%20schools%20of%20thought%20in%20Islam%3F&f=f alse Muzammil Quraishi, 2005. Muslims and crime: a comparative study. http://books.google.com.bn/books?id=77hRrmfo65MC&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq =maliki+school+%2B+contribution+of+the+imam&source=bl&ots=DlHHJmJzmI& sig=NyYDfp6YR3AF7aHHADi_2q8GLbE&hl=en&ei=zu38SrnMKp_66gOFovTyCg&s a=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q= hanafi&f=false Shining Light, 6th May, 2007. Hanafi Contributions. http://hujra.forumwise.com/archive/o_t/t_1149/hanafi_contributions.html The Hindustan Times. 30th October, 2008. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P3-1586298401.html Thomas, G., 1994. Islam and Gender: The Nigerian Case. http://www.hartfordhwp.com/archives/34a/007.html Tripatlas, 2009. Hanafi. http://tripatlas.com/Hanafi Tripatlas, (2009). Maliki. http://tripatlas.com/Maliki Tripatlas, (2009). Shafii. http://tripatlas.com/Shafii Tripatlas, (2009). Hanbali. http://tripatlas.com/Hanbali

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