sources of muslim law

Who are Muslims?

People who practice Islam religion are called Muslims. Islam’s basic principle says that God is one and Muhammed is the Prophet of God. Muslim law is derived from Quran and other recorded sayings by Prophet Muhammad. Muslim law is originated in Arabia. Muslim laws are personal law which is applied to Muslims only. A person can be a Muslim either by birth or by conversion according to judicial opinion. A Muslim is Muslim by birth when both mother and father were Muslims at the time of his or her birth and a person is Muslim by conversion when that person who is of different religion, if not a minor and acting with full consciousness renounces his religion and converts into a Muslim. Sources of Muslim Law are divided into two kinds. They are:

  • Primary Sources of Muslim Law
  • Secondary Sources of Muslim Law

Primary Sources of Muslim Law

Primary sources are the roots or basis of Muslim law. These sources are the basis of Muslim law. Quran, Sunnat, Ijma and Qiyas are the primary sources of Muslim Law.

1. Al-Quran

The sacred book of the Quran is the prominent source of Muslim law. Muslims considers it as the basis of their law. The word Quran is derived from an Arabic word “Quarra” which means to read. It is considered to be a divine scripture and ultimate revelation by Prophet Muhammed which came to him through Gabriel. The book states the moral and righteous way of living. Quran consists of 114 chapters and 6236 Ayats.  

2. Sunnat

Whenever Al-Quran is silent about an issue, guidance was sought from the Sunnat. It is believed to be the pathways of the Prophet Muhammad like what he said or did. It is considered as the traditions of Prophet. Muslim believes the Quran as the direct words of God given to the Prophet Muhammad, while, the Sunnat is considered as the word of Prophet Muhammad on the issues which are not revealed in the Quran.

3. Ijma

 Ijma is consensus of opinion. Ijma is considered as the consensus of followers of Prophet Muhammad on a particular question of law. When Muslim Jurist approves an opinion, then that opinion is called Ijma. The Ijma is of three kinds:

  • Ijma of the companions of the Prophet- It is universally acceptable and practiced.
  • Ijma of jurists- It is considered to be the second most important Ijma after the Ijma of the companions.
  • Ijma of the people- This kind of Ijma holds great importance in matters of religion as compared to legal issues.

4. Qiyas

Qiyas is the last primary source of Muslim law.  It is the interpretation from the first three sources of law i.e. Quran, Sunnat and Ijma. Qiyas applies the old principles in new situations.

Secondary Sources of Muslim Law

These are the supplementary Sources of the Muslim Law. To an extent the Muslim Law is governed by secondary sources. Secondary sources of Muslim Law are:

  • Custom
  • Judicial Decisions
  • Legislation

1. Custom

These are the substantial source of law and is also known as Urf. Customs play a significant role in Muslim Law in matters which are related to agriculture, land and succession. Customary Law exists in Islam on the basis of two conditions either because it has got the approval of the Prophet or it has been incorporated in Ijma.  However, there are certain conditions for a valid custom It must be territorial, must be continuous and reasonable, should not oppose public policies and should not contradict Quran.

2. Judicial Decisions

 Judicial Decisions are the decisions given by the District Courts, High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. Judicial Decision plays a prominent role in laying down Muslim law in line with the socio-economic conditions of Muslims in India.

3. Legislation

Laws are made through Legislation. Various Legislation have been passed focusing on the Muslims by the Government of India. Some of them are: are the Muslim Marriage Act, 1957, The Muslim Woman (Protection of Rights and Divorce) Act, 1986, the Shariat Act and the Dissolution of Marriage Act.  These Legislation deals with Muslim personal law.

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