Mu’awiyyah narrated from the prophet that he said if Allaah wishes good for anydody, He gives him understanding of (fiqh) Islamic jurisprudence of his religion.
The word “fiqh” literally means “understanding”, which would then mean in the context of the religion the good understanding of the entire religion. In the terminology, it is used to refer to the Islamic law. The Islamic law addresses the Divine injunctions pertaining to worship, personal conduct and interpersonal dealings. The jurists study these rulings and the evidence used to derive them. The science of fiqh is thus defined as: the recognition of the religious rulings derived from the detailed proofs.
The proofs are absolute and relative. The absolute ones are the Book of Allaah, the Sunnah of His Messenger and the consensus of the ummah. The relative ones include al-qiyas (analogy), which could, when clear, come closer to the absolute proofs, then there are many other sources of proofs with some controversy regarding their strength, applications and scope. These issues are discussed in detail in the books of “Usool al-Fiqh” (Principles of Fiqh).
All actions (not objects) have rulings in Islam, and they belong to one of the following five categories:
- Mandatory (wajib)
- Preferable (mustahab)
- Permissible (mubah)
- Disliked (makrooh)
- Forbidden (haram)
It is the work of the faqeeh (jurist) to deduce from the proofs a ruling for every action. That requires an immense amount of knowledge of the Quran, Sunnah, scholarly opinions, language and many other disciplines.
There are five major and comprehensive legal principals that serve as the thread connecting the pearls of fiqh and they apply in all of the chapters of fiqh, and these are:
- Deeds are but by their intentions
- Certainty is not negated by doubt
- Hardship mandates the making of concessions
- No harm and no reciprocation of harm
- Customs are given consideration.