What are the sources of Islamic law? Please explain

What are the sources of Islamic law?

(1) Introduction

In pre-Islamic period, darkness and ignorance dominated human beings. In fact, human beings used to follow numerous immoral traditions to administer various affairs. Eventually Islam provided guidance for human beings by uprooting all immoral customs among human beings. It was at this time that Islamic law started developing.

(2) Sources Of Islamic Law

Followings are main sources of Islamic law:

(i) Primary sources

(ii) Secondary sources


(i) Primary Sources

Followings are primary sources of Islamic law:

(a) Holy Quran

(b) Sunnah or Hadith

(c) Ijma

(d) Qiyas


(a) Holy Quran

Holy Quran is considered first primary source of Islamic law. Holy Quran consists of those direct revelations, which were revealed upon Holy Prophet for guidance of all mankind. In Holy Quran, laws have been described to guide mankind in all walks of life. That is why, Holy Quran is not only a complete code of creed and morals, but also a complete code of law.

(b) Sunnah Or Hadith

Sunnah or Hadith is considered second primary source of Islamic law. It is through this source that explanation and interpretation of Quranic injunctions can be found. All utterances, deeds, and unspoken approvals of Holy Prophet are included into Sunnah or Hadith. Importance of Sunnah can be guessed from this fact that guidance is taken from Sunnah or Hadith for some matter whenever Holy Quran remains silent on such matter.

(c) Ijma

Ijma is considered third primary source of Islamic law. As a Shari term, Ijma means an agreement of consensus of Muslim scholars among the Muslim on a question of law during a particular age when no solution is present in Holy Quran and Sunnah about such question of law. Ijma was started after demise of Holy Prophet.

(d) Qiyas

Qiyas is considered fourth primary source of Islamic law. As a Shari term, Qiyas means finding of solution of some matter by making a deduction from what has already been laid down by Holy Quran, Sunnah and Ijma in a situation in which no solution has been provided for such matter in Holy Quran, Sunnah and Ijma.


(ii) Secondary Sources

Followings are secondary sources of Islamic law:

(a) Istehsan (Juristic equity)

(b) Istislah (Public good)

(c) Istidlal (Juristic deduction)

(d) Customs


(a) Istehsan (Juristic Equity)

As a Shari term, Istehsan means finding of a solution for a matter by a Mujtehid especially when following two specific situations arise together and following two specific conditions are fulfilled:

(x) Situations

(x-i) Already Present Solution

When solution for such matter is already present through Ijma and Qiyas in such form that such solution is against categorical Quranic injunction or such solution is against usual practice of people, then Mujtehid can find out solution of such matter through Istehsan.

(x-ii) Difficult For People To Follow This Already Present Solution

When it is difficult for people to follow this already present solution because this solution causes inconvenience and hardship for people or such solution is not acceptable to people as the same is in contradiction to categorical Quranic injunction, then other solution can be found out through Istehsan.

(y) Conditions

(y-i) Not Against Categorical Quranic Injunction

It is necessary that solution, which is found out through Istehsan, should not be against categorical Quranic injunction.

(y-ii) Acceptable To People

It is also essential that such solution should be acceptable to people and should not cause inconvenience and hardship for people,

(b) Istislah (Public Good)

Imam Malik has introduced doctrine of Istislah as source of Islamic law. According to this doctrine, a deduction of law should be based on general consideration for public good and, that rule, which causes general injury, should be avoided.

(c) Istidlal (Juristic Deduction)

Istidlal is also considered a source of Islamic law. However, there exist some differences among the Hanfis, Malikis and Shafis: the Hanfis consider it as a method of interpretation while the Malikis and Shafis consider it as a form of legal reasoning.

(d) Customs

In pre-Islamic era, the Arab followed various immoral customs. Islam has uprooted those immoral customs. However, moral and good customs of that era were incorporated into Islamic law. Usually customs are given great importance as source of law in different legal systems. But Islamic law does not recognize such importance of custom as its source, (ت) رسومات

(3) Conclusion

To conclude, it can be stated that God has revealed His Divine Law through Holy Quran and one can find its best explanation in precepts of Holy Prophet. This law has been further studied, interpreted and explained by various Islamic scholars. In short words, it can be stated that all Sunni schools of thought and Shia school of thought have also made great contribution into development of Islamic law.


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