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Lesson 1 – Usul Al-Fiqh – The Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence

Lesson 1 – Transcript – English (Based on the book of “Allama Muzaffar Alam”)

Audio and Transcript: Sheikh Dr Hossein Javaheri

InshaAllah in this series of lessons that’s we are providing in the Hawzah of Imam “Al-Rida” (peace be upon him) in Sydney, we are discussing the science of Usul Al-Fiqh (Fundamentals of Islamic Jurisprudence) and InshaAllah today we go through the introduction of this science based on the book of “Allama Muzaffar Alam”, the book is famous as “Usul Al-Fiqh Al-Muzaffar”.

The first topic is the definition of this science:

Usul Al-Fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) is the one that’s after learning the fundamentals of it and discussing it then we have the ability to extract and understand the religious rules – for example: one may ask how did you find out that praying is wajib (mandatory)? And we refer to the verses of Quran for example when he says “and to establish prayer” in the 72nd verse of Surah Al-An’am or when he says “Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times” and that’s the verse 103 of Surah An-Nisa that he says that prayers are a written or necessary duty upon the believers.

So we can say whenever there is an order in the text like Quran or the implication of that verse in order then we can conclude that that is mandatory or what we call “Waajib”. Also, the scholar (Faqih) would look at the fact that what is the face value of Quran: it’s an evidence for proving the rule of Islam. Now Usul is the plural of Asl in Arabic and Asl may have different meanings, but here is what we defined and explained so sometimes for example Asl might be in a position to Far’ which is what has been divided or rooted from. For example as a general thing in Jurisprudence we say alcoholic drink is called Khamr, but any type of alcoholic drink would be a far’ for that so Khamr is the Asl, alcoholic drink in all different types like beer, wine and that sort of thing then become far’ for it.

Sometimes Asl means the reason for something else. We see what is the Asl for that means what is the principle that is the reason for it, but here we have this particular meaning that we are intending to use. When we speak of the religious rule which is for “Al-Hukm” “judgement” in Arabic, there are two main types of Hukm: (Assertoric Judgement and Problematic Judgement).

Here we can translate them as the real and the one that’s based on the face value. When we say real we mean the type of rule that originally was made for a particular purpose and orders you to do something that’s obvious, but (Problematic Judgement) which is the face value is something that we need to use other reasoning to find out what is the rule of that particular instance or if there is any special circumstances for a rule that already exists.

There are other classifications that have not been mentioned in the book. For example, the rule can be (approved) or (signed): approved means that the rule was originated by the religion and (signed) something that existed before the religion and for example: Islam came and approved that and so called signed and approved rules like for example doing business existed before Islam and after Islam. (Allah Blessed and Exalted be He) emphasized that doing business normally is halal (allowed), but there are other things that are not halal for example taking interest. (Approved rule) is like the one that was ordered like praying the type of prayers that we do -the daily prayers- they were originated after the religion of Islam came.

Sometimes we divide Al-Hukm (judgement) to mawlawi and irshadi (advisory): mawlawi means that the order came from the master in a way that if we do not obey that rule we deserve punishment, but irshadi is when it is just an advice and we can obey or disobey although we do not get the benefits of that order if we disobey, but we are not going to get punished in case we did disobey. Sometimes the rules are specific or general: specific in a way that is just applied to a particular group of people or particular examples, but general is for everybody so if somebody becomes or gets to the stage of his life that doing Haj is wajib (mandatory) that is a specific hukm for him to go for Haj, but general hygiene rules apply to everybody. The reason that is behind the (Assertoric judgement) that we call it, the reasoning for that we call it (independent reasoning), the reasoning for (problematic judgement) that we call (practical evidence) or we call it (an acted-upon principle) so both of them are just terminologies have been used by other scholars for example: the scholar “Wahid Al-Behbahani” is the one that divided the reasoning to (independent reasoning) and (practical evidence), the Hukm (judgement) has been divided to Hukm Al-Wakhi (assertoric judgement) and Dhahari (problematic judgement) is again a classification that were done by other scholars and in this book they also brings that.

We may also divide (assertoric judgement) to the one that is (primary) and (secondary) so primary is the actual original rule, how it was supposed to be done, for example: praying Dhuhr prayers is (mandatory) to be 4 rak’ahs (bowings) when you are not travelling, but if there is a danger, then Prayer of Fear, when you are at risk, you can reduce that to two rak’ahs (bowings) so that two rak’ahs become a secondary rule even though it still is (assertoric judgement). Some authors have distinguished (assertoric judgement) from (problematic judgement) in this manner that in (assertoric judgement) the information or knowledge of the person that is mandatory on him does not change the rule so knowing or not knowing is wajib (mandatory) on him to do so like praying, for example, and if he finds out later on he still has to do it, and also he does not change the actual rule, but (assertoric judgement) if the person is not aware of it can change the rule.

For example: here we can say if somebody gets married to – a man gets married to a lady – and that lady is in fact in the Udda period (seclusion period after divorce) which is the period that is after the divorce or after the death of husband that this lady is supposed to stay away from getting remarried. If by mistake she’s still in Udda period and they get married, the knowledge of the person the man that is getting married to her does not change the fact that this marriage is invalid, but if the intercourse has not happened, then they can remarry later on after the Udda period finished. However, if the intercourse happened, then they become (forbidden) on each other – they are not allowed to get married to each other for good (forever) – so here as we can see the knowledge of knowing that she was not or she was in Udda period changes the rule of (problematic judgement) so if he does not know and intercourse has not happened, then they can remarry. So that’s about the knowledge of the person how it affects on (problematic judgement).

Next topic is the science of Usul (Fundamentals of Islamic Jurisprudence): we want to know what is discussed in this science of Usul Al-Fiqh (Fundamentals of Islamic Jurisprudence). There is a difference in some books of Usul about this, but Alam Muzaffar believes that anything that can help to find out the religious rule would come under the science of Usul Al-Fiqh,

For example: the basic principles of finding any rules for example when Shia we say Quran, Sunnah, consensus – means logic- of the jurists so the book of Quran, the tradition of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) the consensus among all the scholars or Muslims as well as the logical rules so these things would definitely apply and any other thing that is for example we got (acted-upon principles) like (principle of presumption) or even some people use other things we got in some sects of Islam we got (juristic reasoning) which is like – could be in comparison when applying that- or (application of discretion in legal matters) that we believe in that in some cases.

These are different rules that apply so anything that helps with finding the rule of religion would be discussed under the science of Usul Al-Fiqh.

The next question that we can ask is what is the purpose of having Usul Al-Fiqh?

There are certain types of knowledge, but they are not obvious. We need to bring reasoning and use the different types of evidence for proving our point. We call them in Arabic (theoretical sciences); these are not in a position to (fundamental sciences) which are the obvious ones so none of the rules that we have for example what is mandatory (Wajib) and what is haram (forbidden) can be just proven without having a religious evidence behind it which means that the religious rules come under the (theoretical sciences) and that means that they need reasoning and discussion and evidence to prove the point.

At the end of this lesson we would like to discuss the outline of the different topics that we have in the science of Usul Al-Fiqh. There are four major topics here:

1. the first is (connotation and concepts)

Which is about what kind of terminology we have and what are the points of each sentence or word that has been used for example a verb that comes in order shape means something and there are other ways of saying the same thing and this is what we discuss in the first chapter;

2. the second chapter of Usul Al-Fiqh is what we call (logical reasoning)

The logical reasoning and rules behind it that we can use during discussions; if there is anything that is not understandable and illogical then we can use that against or sometimes logically we can prove that a rule should exist.

3. The third one is (deductive reasoning)

That’s where we evaluate the value of the text and the logic, consensus or the traditions of the prophet -Imam (peace be upon them all)- these are evaluated in (deductive reasoning) to see which one is more authentic  which one if more reliable and vice versa.

4. The fourth chapter would be called (acted-upon principles)

As we said before it’s about the time that we do not have (independent reasoning) an obvious reason for doing something then we need to go after the (juristic reasoning) which would be (acted-upon principles) for example we got things like (acquittanced), (caution), (principle of presumption) and similar examples.

At the end although it’s not one of the four major topics, there’s something called (equation and probability) and that’s about where we got any contradictions in the text and how we should deal with it which is very important chapter. So, in that sense we can actually divide our lessons into 5 chapters.

InshaAllah next lesson we will go through the introduction of (connotation and concepts) when we discuss the literature in the introduction and the terminologies that we need.

Updated on February 5, 2018

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