Sources of Muslim law

Islam is one of the world’s oldest and most widely practiced religions. The religion arrived in India with the sultanate of Delhi and remained unaltered. India is now a secular republic, with Muslims accounting for more than 15% of the population, who govern themselves according to their own personal laws. Muslim law has evolved from a variety of historic sources, and these sources continue to be the ruling foundations of this faith even in the twenty-first century. There can only be one source of law, which is the India parliament and state legislatures, which are the nation’s law-making bodies. However, because personal laws are based on religious conventions and practices, it is impossible to abolish them and replace them with laws that are wholly opposed to religious beliefs. As a result, even the laws are based on certain features of tradition. The sources of Muslim Law can be broken down into two categories i.e. Primary Sources and Secondary Sources.


Primary sources are those that are based on religious ideas that are expressed in holy scriptures or literature. These sources are commonly acknowledged as legitimate and primary, implying that they should be trusted before any other source.
It indicates that whenever a Muslim has a question about their personal life or family, they should consult these fundamental sources of law. Following are the primary sources of Muslim Law.


The Holy Quran- The Holy Quran is Islam’s holy book, which is said to contain God’s direct words as seen by Prophet Muhammad. For Muslims, the Quran is akin to a constitution, as it covers all of the rules that should be applied to personal law, such as marriage, divorce, and succession. If you have a query about Islam’s personal regulations, the Quran is the first place you should look. On any topic concerning Muslim personal law, the Quran is the final authority. The Quran cannot be termed a legal code in the literal sense, and Muslim jurists believe that it contains verses outlining the way of life and morality of life, but it is not a legal system backed by punishments.


Sunnah- Sunnah is a secondary source of Muslim law, following the Quran. Following the death of Prophet Muhammad, Muslims were split into two divisions over who would be a legitimate and capable successor: Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims. One sect thought that the Caliph elected by the people would be the Prophet’s successor, while the other sect believed that only the Prophet’s descendants or relations could be worthy successors. As a result of the religious division, a number of texts and scriptures have become sources of Muslim law. According to the Quran, the Prophet preached that his traditions and his actions should be followed even after his death and therefore, the actions of his daughter and the Shia Imams after the Prophet are also counted in the Sunnah.

Ijma- Ijma is followed by the Sunni sect, but Sunnah was largely founded and followed by Shia Muslims. As a source of Islamic law, the Ijma comes after the Quran and the Sunnah. Ijma, according to Sunni Muslims, is as essential as the Quran or the Sunna since it represents all Muslims’ united and consistent viewpoints.
It is founded on the notion that when all of the world’s most revered people come together, the world will become a better place.

Qiyas- It refers to deducing analogically from existing sources. Muslim jurists compared the scenario and deduced a response based on analogies from the Quran and the Sunna. It aids in deducing interpretations when other sources fail to explain something. It can, however, only explain or interpret the law; it cannot change it.

The next are the secondary sources , These are the sources that aren’t considered basic sources of muslim law, but are instead considered supplementary in nature. These are sources which are used occasionally to administer , in addition with the primary sources. Following are the secondary sources of muslim law ,

Urf or Customs- Customs are guiding ideas that people have followed for a long time. In some cases, they’ve been observed for so long that they’ve taken on the status of law. Prior to the arrival of Islam in Arabia, conventions served as the foundation for all aspects of social life, including religion, morality, trade, and business. Although customs are not considered a source of law in Islamic law, they have traditionally been accorded significant weight in Islamic law. The pre-Islamic law served as the foundation for Islamic law. Some of the previous customs were tolerated by the prophet, while others were condemned. New regulations were either inscribed in the Quran as divine decisions or mentioned in Ahadis.


Judicial Decisions- The judiciary has attempted to change Muslim laws to some extent. In a number of situations, Indian courts have interpreted Muslim rules, resulting in a number of significant legal oddities. The interpretation is frequently based on primary texts, legislation, or jurists’ statements. These rulings or interpretations are utilised as precedents in future instances.


Legislations- are laws issued by the Parliament or a state legislature to regulate human behavior in a certain area. Several pieces of legislation have been passed by Parliament to build the groundwork for Muslim law in India. The Shariat Act of 1937 was the first law passed. The entire corpus of law that controls their day-to-day personal laws, including as marriage and divorce, is known as Sharia in Islam. 

After studying the sources of Muslim Law we can sum up that each source plays a different and a vital role in muslim law and has its each importance.

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