Introduction to Usul al-Fiqh IV: The Authorized Books of Usul al-Fiqh in the Shafi’i Madhhab
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The Authorized Books of Usul al-Fiqh in the Shafi’i Madhhab
In the principles of Jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), two tariqahs (methods) are well known:
Tarīqat al-mutakallimin (mutakallim is generally translated as ‘Muslim theologian’).
Tarīqat al-fuqaha (jurists)
Tarīqat al-mutakallimin is the method followed by the Shafiʿī yah, the Malikiyah, Hanabilah and the Mu’tazilah.
It was known as the method of the mutakallimun because:
The authors who wrote their books according to this method would introduce them with discussions of theological-and philosophical-issues.
The use of the deductive method in defining the principles of source methodology, in ascertaining the validity of those principles, and in refuting those whose opinions differed without paying much attention to the issues and details which stem from the application of these principles.
The books of the Shafiʿī yah, Hanabilah, Malikiyah and Mu’tazilah all followed a similar pattern in the order of their chapters and the treatment of their subject matter.
The Shafiʿiyyah’s Books
Al-Risālah by Imam al-Shāfi’ī (204 A.H.)
Al-ʿAmad by al-Qādī ‘Abd al-Jabbār ibn Aḥmad al-Mu’tazilī (415 A.H.)
Al-Muʿtamad by Abū al-Husayn al-Mu’tazili (436 A.H.)
Al-Burhān by Imam al-Haramayn al-’Ash’arī (478 A.H.)
Al-Mustasfā by Imam al-Ghazālī al-’Ash’arī (505 A.H.)
Imam Ibn Khaldūn rahimahuLlah ta’ala mentions, “Among the best books of the Mutakallimūn on usul al-fiqh are al-Burhān by Imam al-Ḥaramayn and al-Mustaṣfā by al-Ghazālī, from the al-Ashʿariyyah. As for from the Muʿtazilah are al-ʿAhd (or al-ʿAmad) by ʿAbd al-Jabbār and its commentary al-Muʿtamad by Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Baṣrī. These four books are the foundation and pillars in this science.”
Al-Maḥṣūl by al-Rāzī (606 A.H.), summarized from the above four books, his method is that he mentions the evidences and proofs.
These four main books also had been summarized by Sayf al-dīn al-Amidī (630 A.H.) named as al-Iḥkām. His method is that he expounds the different viewpoints of the madhahib and he deduces masa’il (legal issues) contrary to Ibn al-Khatib al-Rāzi.
Ibn al-Ḥājib abridged Al-Iḥkām (646 A.H.) twice named as al-Muntahi and then became Mukhtaṣar al-Muntahi. Then Taj al-Subkī (771 A.H.) explains this Mukhtaṣar and names it Rafʿ al-ḥājib ʿan Ibn al-Ḥājib (2 vol.).
Al-Ḥāṣil by al-Armawī (652 A.H.), abridged of al-Maḥṣūl by al-Rāzī
Al-Minhāj by al-Bayḍāwī, abridged of al-Ḥāṣil, Al-Qadi al-Baydawi (d 685) summarized al-Hasil in his book Minhaj al-Wusul Ila ‘Ilm al-Usul “The Way of Mastering the Science of Source Methodology”; but his summary was so abbreviated that the result is like a riddle, and very difficult to understand. Thus, many scholars undertook to produce commentaries on the book. Among such commentaries, the best is that of al-Isnawi (d 772), which is entitled Nihayat al-Sūl “An End to Questioning” This book occupied the attention of the scholars in the field for a long time, and the Shafiʿī yah scholars of al-Al-Azhar are still devoted to it.
Then Taqī al-din al-Subkī (756 A.H.) wrote a commentary on al-Minhāj, al-Ibhāj bi sharḥ al-Minhāj till the introduction of “al-wājib,” from there his son Taj al-dīn al-Subki (771 A.H.) completed it.
Among the Shafiʿī yah scholars, Taj al-dīn al-Subki wrote his famous book, Jam’ al-Jawami’ “The Compilation of the Comprehensive”. Imam Taj al-dīn al-Subki tried to gather as many of the principles of fiqh possible, he gathered his commentary on al-Muntahi (Rafʿ al-hājib) and al-Minhāj (al-Ibhāj) and compiled them as Jamʿ al-jawāmiʿ. In the introduction, he mentioned that he had compiled his work from one hundred different books on al-Usul. Many scholars wrote commentaries and added footnotes to imam al-Subki’s book. Of these, perhaps the most important and most widely-available commentary is Sharh al-Jalal al-Mahalli, which remains even today the basis for studies in al-Usul, especially for the Shafiʿīyyah scholars.
Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi (d 794) wrote a commentary, entitled Tashnif al-Masamiʿ“To Please the Ears”. Imam Al-Zarkashi also wrote al-Bahr al-Muhit “The Vast Ocean”, in which he collected the submissions of scholars of al-Usul from over one hundred books.
The studie of usul al-fiqh is a vast ocean to be explored. In Islamic legal studies, it is important to study usul al-fiqh especially for us Shafi’iyyah. Our fiqh is based on al-usul and we are the ones who introduced this subject as a completed subject matter, developed it, propagated and disseminated it to the world.
Islamic Jurisprudence, Dr. Taha Jabir al-Alwani.
Al-Wajīz fī uṣūl al-tashrīʿi al-Islāmī, Dr. Muḥammad Hasan Hītū, First Edition 2006, Muassasah al-Riṣalāh, Beirut.