Sources of Muslim Law

INTRODUCTION

Muslim law is a religious rule that applies to anybody who is Muslim by birth or through conversion. Islamic law, on the other hand, is centred on a man’s responsibilities or obligations rather than his rights. The term Islam means ‘complete submission to God,’ while the word Muslim means ‘who devoted himself to God.’

Muslims’ personal law is based on Islam. Islam originated in Arabia and was later transported to India. In Arabia, Prophet Hazrat Mohammed, himself an Arab, spread Islam and established Islamic law. Arab-jurists nurtured and developed the basic foundation of Islamic Legal System, and the true fountainhead of Islamic Jurisprudence may be found in pre-Islamic Arabian traditions and usages of the 7th century of the Christian period.

Islamic law is a component of Muslim theology that gives practical form to the faith by establishing how a Muslim should behave himself in his religion, both towards God and towards other men. According to the Prophet, Muslim law is a commandment from God and the sovereigns of Muslim states, and it is his (Muslim’s) obligation to obey it. Islam signifies peace through submission and obedience to God’s will and laws, and it refers to individuals who have accepted the message of peace through surrender to God.

The Muslim law has been derived from various sources.

  • Sunna or Ahadis
  • Ijma
  • Quran
  • Qiyas

Sunna

The precise translation of the phrase “Sunna” is “traveled route.” It refers to certain of the Prophet’s practices and precedents, as well as anything the Prophet said or did without referring to God, and is regarded as his traditions. It is the second most important source of Muslim law. Traditions are Allah’s injunctions in the words of the prophet. Where Allah’s words could not provide authority for a certain rule of law, the Prophet’s words were recognised as authority since it is believed that even his sayings were inspired by Allah.

There are two kinds of revelations, according to Muslim law: manifest (Zahir) and interior (Batin). Manifest or explicit revelations were Allah’s exact words, delivered to the Prophet by the angel Gabriel. Such insights were included into the Quran. Internal revelations, on the other hand, were those that were the ‘Prophet’s words’ and did not arrive through Gabriel, yet Allah inspired the concepts in his sayings. Sunna included such internal insights. Traditions differ from the Quran in that the Quran contains the exact words of God, whereas a Sunna is written in the language of the Prophet.

Sunna or traditions consists of:

  • Sunnat-ul-Qual (word spoken)
  • Sunnat-ul-Fail (conduct)
  • Sunnat-ul-Tahrir (silence)

Ijma

With the death of the prophet, the original law-making process came to an end, and the issues that could not be resolved by the principles of the Quran or the Sunna were settled by the Jurists through the establishment of the institution of Ijma. Ijma refers to the agreement of Muslim jurists of a specific age on a specific topic of law, or the consensus of jurists’ opinions.

Mujtahids were those who were well-versed in the law (Jurists). When the Quran and traditions failed to provide a rule of law for a new matter, the jurists unanimously expressed their common view or made a unanimous judgement, which was known as Ijma. Only Mujtahids were eligible to participate in the establishment of the Ijma, which was not open to all Muslims.

There are three kinds of Ijma:

  • Ijma of Companions:

The contemporaneous view of the Prophet’s companions was regarded as the most authoritative and could not be overturned or amended.

  • Ijma of the Jurists:

The jurists reached a unanimous verdict (other than companion).

  • Ijma of the people or masses:

It is the majority view of Muslims that has been acknowledged as law. However, this type of Ijma is of limited utility.

Quran

It is the primary or original source of Muslim law. It is the name of the Muslim sacred book, which contains direct revelations from God through the Prophet. The direct express or manifest revelations are the messages given by the angel, Gabriel, under the guidance of God, to Mohammed, either in the exact words of God or through clues, as well as the knowledge obtained by the Prophet by the inspiration (Ilham) of God. The Quran is the source of all Islamic beliefs, laws, teachings, and practises. The contents of the Quran were not written during the Prophet’s lifetime but were conveyed in the companions’ memories during his lifetime.

The verses of the Quran are not arranged in a systematic manner, but are dispersed throughout the book. It provides the fundamental principles that govern human life. The majority of the Quran is devoted to theological and moral considerations. The Quran is a collection of God’s communications; it is thought to be divine in nature, with no earthly source. It is Islam’s earliest and original legislative code. It is the exclusive and ultimate authority.

Qiyas 

Qiyas is derived from the phrase ‘Hiaqish’ which meaning ‘to beat together.’ Qiyas means measurement, concord, and equality’ in Arabic. In other terms, it involves comparing or measuring anything to a standard, or ‘establishing an analogy.’ If the issue is not addressed by the Quran, Sunna, or Ijma, the law may be deduced from what has already been handed down by these three sources through the process of analogy (Qiyas).

The Qiyas is a technique of deduction that aids in the discovery of law rather than the establishment of new legislation. Its primary duty is to extend the text’s law to circumstances that do not fit within the text’s scope. The following requirements must be met in order for Qiyas to be valid:

  • Only texts that can be expanded can be subjected to the Qiyas procedure. The writings should not be restricted to a given condition of facts or regulations with a specific reference.
  • The derived analogy should not be in conflict with the commands of the Quran or the authority of Sunna.
  • The Qiyas should be employed to uncover a point of law, not to discern the interpretations of the text’s words.
  • It must not result in a change in the legislation as it is now written.

CONCLUSION

Although it is possible to infer that the superstructure of Islamic Jurisprudence is established on Quranic verses and traditional Prophetic utterances, other sources have also played an important role in establishing the sacred law in its current form. The contribution of all sources of Islamic law resulted in the development of an ordered and systematic framework of Islamic personal rules, which controls the Muslim society.

REFERENCES

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