Usool ul Fiqh


Module Information

Name of ClassUsool ul Fiqh
Credit Hours3 Hours
Class DescriptionThis course is a survey of usool al-fiqh (the principles of Islamic jurisprudence). The main topics of study are the daleels that are universally considered authoritative, followed by the controversial daleels (excluding those most relevant to al-Maqaasid al-Shar‘iyyah), linguistic issues relevant to interpretation of the texts, the nature of Sharee‘ah rules, and issues concerning ijtihaad.
Instructor NameShaikh Riaz Ansary
Required Text– Bilal Philips, A Commentary on Usool al-Fiqh Made Easy

– Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Outlines of Islamic Jurisprudence

– Study notes by Riaz Ansary

Supplementary Text– Muhammad Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence


  • To empower the students to worship Allah Almighty correctly
  • To enable the student to understand the origins of the Science of Usool al-Fiqh.
  • To familiarize the student with the proofs for the authority of the various types of evidence recognized in Usool al-Fiqh and the arguments of those who reject various proofs.
  • To acquaint the student with the main rules regarding interpretation of textual evidence as well as the most important controversies surrounding some of them.
  • To give the student a clear framework for understanding the nature of rules employed in fiqh.
  • To familiarize students with the methodology for dealing with apparently contradictory evidence.
  • To acquaint the student with the main issues related to ijtihaad

Topics Covered


  • linguistic and technical definitions of the terms usool, fiqh, and usool al-fiqh.
  • The objective and benefits of the science
  • its subject range compared to that of fiqh, al-qawaa‘id al-fiqhiyyah and maqaasid al-Sharee‘ah.
  • development of the field by examining ijtihaad during the Prophetic era.
  • The fields of knowledge that contributed to usool al-fiqh, i.e. the Qur’aan, Sunnah, Arabic language, logic and fiqh.
  • Study of the development of the fieldImaam al-Shaafi‘ee’s al-Risaalah will be examined in some detail, with a look at his main concerns in the book.
    • ijtihaad by the Sahaabah after the Prophetic era
    • ijtihaad by the Taabi‘een
    • ijtihaad in the era of the Four Imaams
  • Major works after Imaam al-Shaafi‘ee
  • the difference between the approaches of the Hanafees and the Mutakallimoon


  • defined linguistically and in Sharee‘ah terms.
  • The two main types of Sharee‘ah
  • al-hukm al-takleefee (assigning Sharee‘ah value to people’s acts)
    • waajib
    • haraam
    • mandoob
    • makrooh
    • mubaah
  • Declarative law (al-hukm al-wad‘ee)
    • sabab,
    • shart,
    • maani‘
    • saheeh,
    • faasid,
    • baatil
    • adaa’,
    • i‘aadah,
    • qadaa’
    • ‘azeemah,
    • Rukhsah

The nature of Shari‘ah laws

Legal capacity

  • the key role of the intellect in determining legal capacity
  • things that affect the intellect and how they affect legal capacity
  • the impact of free will on legal capacity

An overview of types of evidence:

  • qat‘ee/zannee
  • primary/secondary
  • transmitted/rational

The Qur’aan

  • the Quraan’s legal authority
  • Makkee/Madanee verses
  • asbaab an-nuzoo

The Sunnah

  • its legal authority,
  • the relationship between the Qur’aan and the Sunnah,
  • means by which the Sunnah was transmitted: mutawaatir reports
  • isolated reports (akhbaar aahaad)
  • levels of authenticity of isolated reports;
  • controversy surrounding the legal authority of isolated reports;
  • the legal meaning of different aspects of the Sunnah:
  • statements made by the Prophet (pbuh) in his capacity as a prophet, as a ruler, as a general, as a judge, as a muftee, as an advisor;
  • the acts of the Prophet (pbuh)


  • definitions,
  • controversy over the validity of the concept;
  • proofs for naskh,
  • how can naskh be known;
  • types of naskh

Linguistic Issues:

  • Clarity of Language:
  • The majority’s classification scheme: Ways that bayaan (clarification) of the mujmal occurs
    • nass,
    • zaahir,
    • mujmal
  • The Hanafee classification:
    • the clear: zaahir, nass, mufassar, muhkam
    • the unclear: khafiy, mushkil, mujmal, mutashaabih
  • Haqeeqah and Majaaz (Literal and Figurative Language)
    • definitions;
    • controversy over the existence of figurative language in the Arabic language and Sharee‘ah texts;
    • instances of claimed figurative language in Sharee‘ah texts;
    • ta’weel (diverting the meaning) of zaahir texts to non-apparent meanings;
    • warnings in the Qur’aan against improper ta’weel;
    • examples of valid and invalid ta’weel;
    • rules that govern ta’weel.

Commands and Prohibitions

  • definitions; ways that commands and prohibitions are conveyed in Arabic
  • the legal value of commands and prohibitions
  • an order after a prohibition
  • non-literal uses of commands and prohibitions

The General (‘Aamm) And Specific (Khaass)

  • definitions;
  • wordings that convey generality;
  • types of general texts
  • Are ‘aamm texts probable or definitive in their indication of generality?
  • general wording with respect to gender
  • specification (takhsees)
  • types of takhsees
  • conflict between ‘aamm and khaass
  • differences between takhsees and naskh
  • general wording with respect to gender
  • specification (takhsees)
  • types of takhsees
  • conflict between ‘aamm and khaass
  • differences between takhsees and naskh

The Mutlaq (Absolute) and Muqayyad (Restricted)

  • definitions
  • the working relationship between the mutlaq and muqayyad

Textual Implications: The Stated (Mantooq) and Unstated (Maskoot)

  • ‘ibaarat al-nass
  • iqtidaa’
  • ishaarah
  • mafhoom al-muwaafaqah
  • mafhoom al-mukhaalafah


  • definitions
  • books on ijmaa‘
  • controversy on the authority of ijmaa‘


  • definitions
  • proofs for qiyaas against those who reject it
  • essential components of analogical qiyaas and the conditions pertaining to each:
  • original case (asl)
  • new case (far‘)
  • essential components of analogical qiyaas (cont.)
  • effective cause (‘illah)
  • Sharee‘ah value (hukm)
  • identifying the ‘illah
  • textual indicators
  • tanqeeh al-manaat
  • takhreej al-manaat
  • tahqeeq al-manaat

Istis-haab (Presumption of Continuity)

  • definitions
  • recognition of its authority
  • evidence for its authority
  • Types:
    • presumption of original absence
    • presumption of original presence
    • presumption of continuity of general rules of the law
    • presumption of continuity of attributes

Sharee‘ahs of Previous Prophets

  • areas of agreement
  • area of dispute
  • evidence in support of the legal authority of the Sharee‘ah of previous prophets for this Ummah
  • evidence against

Custom (‘Urf)

  • definitions
  • textual evidence for Sharee‘ah recognition of custom
  • Sharee‘ah judgment on types of pre-Islamic Arab customs:
  • recognized as is
  • recognized but modified
  • negated
  • types of ‘urf
  • verbal vs. actual
  • general/special
  • valid/invalid
  • conditions of valid ‘urf
  • differences between ‘urf and ijmaa‘
  • examples of a change of fatwaa based upon a change in custom

A Companion’s Opinion (Fatwaa of a Sahaabee)

  • definitions of a Sahaabee
  • defining the areas of disagreement regarding the fatwaa of a Sahaabee
  • positions on the authority of the fatwaa of a Sahaabee
  • evidence for the main positions

Conflicting Evidence

  • definitions
  • causes of conflict
  • conditions for the existence of actual rather than apparent contradiction
  • is actual contradiction possible between two daleels of the Sharee‘ah?
  • evidence for the main positions
  • inconsistency is of three possible types
  • methodologies of dealing with perceived contradiction between Sharee‘ah texts
  • Types of contradiction between transmitted evidence
    • between the general (‘aamm) and specific (khaass)
    • between the mutlaq (absolute) and muqayyad (restricted)
    • between wordings of differing levels of clarity
    • between haqeeqah and majaaz
    • between mantooq and maskoot
    • between statements and acts
  • Conditions for valid reconciliation
  • Strategies of reconciliation
  • Tarjeeh
    • main factors to look at in conducting tarjeeh:
    • isnaad
    • matn
    • madlool or hukm
    • outside factors


  • definitions
  • levels of ijtihaad with regard to the texts
  • locus of ijtihaad
  • the hukm of ijtihaad
  • If a mujtahid arrives at a decision but, after re-examining the evidence, later changes his mind
  • proof for the validity of ijtihaad
  • Did the prophet (pbuh) perform ijtihaad?
  • qualifications for ijtihaad
  • different types of muftees
  • Can ijtihaad be divided?
  • collective ijtihaad
  • Is every mujtahid correct?
  • Should the average Muslim follow the daleel or follow a scholar?
  • Can the questioner ask the muftee for his evidence?