Sources of Islamic Law
Islamic law is made up of various sources, Quran the holy text being the main source, after Quran the main source of Islamic law is sunnah, both Quran and Sunnah are considered to be the primary source of law, apart from the primary source the other sources of Islamic law consists of ijma and qiyas.
Quran which is the holy book for Muslims and is the main source of Islamic law. Quran is said to contain the direct sayings of Allah through his messenger Muhammad.Quran contains the rules and regulations regarding the conduct of Muslim people and various socio-economic laws. Quran was compiled soon after the death of Muhammad. Quran is not a legal textbook as it only contains the rules regulating man’s conduct with himself and God.
After the Quran the main source of Islamic law is the Sunnah, Sunnah contains the sayings of Muhammad, his daily activities, his prayer and his way of life. Since Muhammad is considered to be the perfect human being therefore whatever he says, does or advocates to perform becomes law for the other people. Quran is essentially a religious book and therefore it does not contain the legal and practical rules and therefore Muslims refer to sunnah on issues where the Quran is silent or does not have proper regulation.
Ijma is considered to be the third most important source of Islamic law, ijma refers to the consensus among the learned Muslim jurists on a particular legal issue. However, there has been a discussion among various jurists whether to consider Ijma as a primary source of law or a secondary source of law. The Sunni jurists consider Ijma as an important source of law for making legislation, whereas the Shia jurists consider it as a secondary source.
Qiyas is the analogical deduction and is a secondary source of Islamic law. It means deciding cases according to reason, many Islamic jurists point towards the validity of Qiyas as a primary source of law by citing the Quran, as Muhammad in the Quran has said that if he is not able to resolve the dispute through a proper injunction then, in that case, he shall use his reason to solve it. The main principle behind the concept of Qiyas is that since every injunction is based on some benefit of the people, thus if a cause of injunction is taken from a primary source then the analytical deduction can be applied to cases with similar causes.
Schools of Islamic law
There are 4 schools of Islamic law namely:
- The Hanifa School founded by Abu Hanifa.
- The Maliki School founded by Malik ibn Anas.
- The Hanbali School based on the teachings of Ahmed ibn Hanbal.
- The Shafi School founded by Muhammad ibn Idris-ash Shafi.
Hanifa School of Thought
The Hanifa School is the most popular school of thought among the other four schools of thought. It is majorly followed in North India, out of the four schools of thought Hanifa school of thought is much more liberal towards the non muslims, the Hanifa school of thought gives greater importance to the rational deduction.
The Maliki School of Thought
The Maliki school of thought is the second largest school of Islamic jurisprudence when it comes to the percentage of its followers. This school is followed by at least 25% of the Muslim population. This school of thought is predominantly different from other schools of thought when it comes to sources to derive its sayings, however like other schools, the Maliki school of thought also Quran as the major source of Islamic law. The only thing which differs this school from the other school of thoughts is that, it also considers the practises followed the people of Medina as an important source of Islamic law as Muhammad was born in Medina, lived there, formed a government there and died there Another major difference between Malki and other schools is in the way people offer prayer, according to the of Maliki school during prayer the hands should be kept at side but this is not same in the other schools.
The Hanbali School of Thought
The Hanbali school of thought does not have great followership, still, it is an important school of Islamic jurisprudence. It is considered to be the most orthodox schools of Islamic jurisprudence as it wants to the strict implementation of the Quran and the sayings of Muhammad, however it is considered to be one of the most liberal schools when it comes to trade or for commercial purposes. The current set of individuals who believe in Wahabism is influenced by this school.
The Shafi school of Thought
The Shafi school of thought is mostly followed in Yemen, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Palestine. It considers the Quran, Ijma, Sunnah, and Qiyas as the major source of Islamic law, however, it relies less on qiyas while trying to construct its sayings. Apart from this it also considers the sayings of Muhammad’s close companionship as a source of Islamic law.
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