Learning new subjects (or topics) can be a daunting task, and we totally understand it. However, there's a niche little approach that can ease this challenge: first principles thinking. This method involves deconstructing complex problems or concepts into their most fundamental elements or basic truths. By doing so, we gain a clearer understanding of the underlying principles at play. From these foundational truths, we can then reason more effectively to arrive at conclusions or solutions. Essentially, first principles thinking empowers us to approach learning with a simplified and logical framework, making it more accessible and manageable.

Now that we've navigated through the intricacies of Hukm in our previous discussions, understanding its classification into Al-hukm at-taklifi and Al-hukm al-wad'i, it's time to delve deeper. But you must be wondering, what are the sources of deriving these rulings? Today, our focus shifts to precisely that. Using the lens of first principles thinking, let's unravel the sources that underpin Hukm, allowing us to grasp the framework of deriving rulings with clarity and insight.

Sources of Al-Hukm

The sources of Hukm are the following:

  1. Qur'an
  2. The Sunnah (the teachings and practices of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ)
  3. Ijma (scholarly consensus)
  4. Ijithaad

1) The Qur'an

The First and Foremost Source The Qur'an, the word of Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, stands as the primary and most authoritative source of Islamic legislation. It is a speech of Allah that is not created, but rather a divine revelation conveyed through the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel). The Qur'an has been preserved through mass transmission (tawatur), ensuring its authenticity and preservation throughout the ages.

Allah named His Book with name, "Quran” in many places in the Quran. Other words used by Allah :al-Furqan (the Criterion), al-Dhikr (the Reminder), and al-Kitab (the Book).

  1. "Quran":

    Verily, this Qur’ân guides to that which is most just and right and gives glad tidings to the believers (in the Oneness of Allâh and His Messenger, Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم), who work deeds of righteousness, that they shall have a great reward (Paradise). (Quran 17:9)
  2. "al-Furqan" (the Criterion):

    Blessed be He Who sent down the Furqan (criterion (of right and wrong, i.e. this Qur’ân)) to His slave (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) that he may be a warner to the ‘Âlamîn (mankind and jinn). (Quran 25:1)
  3. "al-Dhikr" (the Reminder):

    Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’ân) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption). (Quran 15:9)
  4. "al-Kitab" (the Book):

    This is the Book (the Qur’ân), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqûn [the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism who fear Allâh much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allâh much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]. (Quran 2:2)

Preservation of the Quran

Allah says in the Quran,

Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’ân) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption) (Quran 15:9)

It was preserved orally as well as in written form. Entire Quran was written down from the Prophet’s ﷺ  dictation by group of Sahabah, most famous being Zaid bin Thabit. (Al-Itqan fee Uloom al-Quran of Suyuti 1/49). Mustafa Azami, mentions 65 Sahabah who used to write for the Prophet ﷺ . We have a detailed article related to this topic if you want to read it.

Miraculous nature of Quran

One of the remarkable aspects of the Qur'an is its miraculous nature, which manifests in various ways. Ibn Taymiyyah extensively discussed over fifty distinct evidences showcasing the miraculous essence of the Qur’an. (al-Jawaab as-saheeh li-man baddala deen al-Maseeh). Some aspects of its miraculous nature are:

  1. Its inimitability – the Qur'an challenges humanity to produce even a single chapter like it, a challenge that remains unmet to this day. (Quran 2:23-24)
  2. Its linguistic elegance and literary perfection have captivated Arab linguists and experts since its revelation.
  3. The Qur'an is free from contradictions, a feat unparalleled in human literature. (Quran 4:82)
  4. Its ease of memorization is truly remarkable, with millions of people across generations having memorized the entire Qur'an verbatim
  5. Signs of human creation, origin of the universe and the natural world.

Famous works on Tafseer of Ayaat regarding Ahkaam al-Quran 

  1. Ahkaam al-Quran by Imam Abu Jafar al-Tahawi (d.321 AH) 
  2. Ahkaam al-Quran by Abu Bakr al-Jassas (d. 370 AH) (based on Hanafi Usool)
  3.  Ahkaam al-Quran by Abu bakr Ibn ul-Arabi al-Maliki (D.543 AH) 
  4. Nayl ul-Maraam fee Tafseer Ayaat al-Ahkaam by Sideeq Hasan (d.1307 AH)

2) The Sunnah

The Sunnah, which is closely related to the term hadith, refers to the sayings, actions, and tacit approvals of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It is the second most important source of Islamic law and guidance after the Quran.

Definition of Sunnah and Hadith

Sunnah literally means "a way, a path, a manner of life." In the context of Islamic law, it refers to the practices, customs, and norms established by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ through his words, deeds, and silent approvals or disapprovals. (As-Sunnah qabl ad Tadween p 16-18, Al-Ihkaam of Ibn Hazm (2/6), Fath al-Mugheeth (1/13))

The term "hadith" (plural: ahadith) literally means "a saying" or "a report." It is used to refer to the individual narrations or reports about the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ.

Importance of the Sunnah

The importance of following the Sunnah is firmly established in the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet ﷺ himself. Allah commands the believers to obey the Prophet ﷺ in numerous verses, such as:

"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger" (4:59)


"He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah" (4:80)

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) referred Hadith as Wahy (Revelation) as reported in Saheeh Al-Bukhari no.86: No doubt it has been revealed to me that you will be put to trials in your graves.

The Sunnah serves several important functions in relation to the Quran:

  1. It explains and clarifies the general verses of the Quran. For example, while the Quran commands Muslims to establish prayer, the Prophet ﷺ taught the details of how to perform the prayers through his words and actions.
  2. It specifies the general rulings of the Quran. For instance, the Quran prohibits "riba" (usury or interest) in general terms, while the Sunnah specifies the types of transactions that fall under this prohibition.

It serves to explain and elaborate upon the general principles and injunctions found in the Qur'an. The Sunnah is also a form of revelation, as confirmed by the Prophet ﷺ himself and narrated in authentic hadith collections like Sahih al-Bukhari.

Hadith explains Mubham (general) Ayaat of Quran

  1. Allah ordered us to fast in the month of Ramadan, but details of fasting is explained by Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in Hadith.
  2. Allah ordered us to offer Zakah in various places in the Quran, but details of Zakah are explained by Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in Hadith. 
  3. As for male and female thieves, cut off their hands for what they have done. (Quran 5:38)  

The word yad can mean entire hand, but hadith of Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) explained it to mean “cut off from the wrist joint” as mentioned in numerous authentic ahadith reported on this subject. (Refer to Irwaa al-Ghaleel fee Takhrij ahadith Manar as-Sabeel ( no.2432 to no.2439) of Shaykh al-Albani)

Now, will every thief have his hand cut off ? 

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)  explained it as reported in hadith reported by al-Bukhari in his Saheeh no.( 6789): ““The hand should be cut off for stealing something that is worth a quarter of a Dinar or more.”

This explain how hadith is used to understand the Quran.

Authenticity and Preservation of the Sunnah

The companions of the Prophet ﷺ made great efforts to memorize, record, and transmit his sayings and actions. They understood the importance of preserving the Sunnah as a source of guidance for future generations. The Prophet ﷺ himself encouraged his companions to spread his teachings, saying, "Convey from me, even if it is just one verse." [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3461]

The science of hadith emerged to critically evaluate the authenticity of the narrations attributed to the Prophet ﷺ. Scholars examined the character and reliability of the narrators in the chain of transmission (isnad) as well as the content (matn) of the hadith to determine its authenticity. The hadiths were classified into categories such as sahih (authentic), hasan (good), da'if (weak), and mawdu' (fabricated) based on the strength of their chains of narration and the presence or absence of hidden defects.

If you want to read in detail about this topic, here is our detailed work on this subject

Status and Preservation of Hadith: Answering the contentions of orientalists, christian missionaries and modernists on Hadith
In India, South-East Asia, and Middle East , I had interactions and academic discussions with many people who were influenced by the ideas of the modernists and hadith doubters. Five years ago, I had a passionate discussion with elderly relative of

Hadith Grades and Narration

Hadiths are graded based on the number of narrators at each level of the chain of transmission. They are broadly classified into two categories, Mutawatir and Ahad.

Mutawatir Hadith

Mutawatir linguistically means "something that follows one another consecutively."

In the technical definition, mutawatir refers to a hadith narrated by such a large number of people that it is impossible for all of them to have agreed upon a lie.

Conditions for a hadith to be mutawaatir:

  1. That a large number of people narrate it; scholars differed about the minimum number required
  2. This large number is found at all levels of the sanad
  3. It is impossible that they could have united to propagate a lie
  4. The report is narrated upon certainty, such as them saying “we heard” or “we saw”

The transcript discusses the classification of hadith into two main categories: mutawatir and ahad. Here's a detailed explanation of these categories based on the information provided in the transcript:

Mutawatir Hadith:

  • Mutawatir linguistically means "something that follows one another consecutively."
  • In the technical definition, mutawatir refers to a hadith narrated by such a large number of people that it is impossible for all of them to have agreed upon a lie.
  • The large number of narrators is found at all levels of the chain of narration (sanad).
  • Some scholars state that a hadith is considered mutawatir if it is narrated by more than nine people at each level, while others say more than twelve. However, there is no precise minimum number agreed upon.
  • The report should be narrated with certainty, using phrases like "we heard" or "we saw," rather than expressing doubt.

Ahad Hadith

Ahad literally means "a report narrated by one person."

Technically, any hadith that does not fulfill the conditions of being mutawatir is classified as ahad.

Ahad hadiths are further classified into three types based on the number of narrators at each level of the chain of narration:

    1. Mashhur: A hadith narrated by three or more people at every level of the chain, but not reaching the condition of mutawatir.
    2. Aziz: A hadith narrated by two people at every level of the chain.
    3. Gharib: A hadith narrated by only one person at some level of the chain.

Remarkably, even the first hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, considered the most authentic book after the Qur'an, is a gharib hadith. This serves as a powerful reminder that the authenticity of a hadith is not solely contingent upon the number of narrators but rather on the reliability and integrity of the chain of narration.

Some major Hadith Collections

Over time, several renowned scholars compiled comprehensive collections of authentic hadiths. The most famous of these collections are:

  1. Sahih al-Bukhari: Compiled by Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari (d. 256 H), this collection contains over 7,000 hadiths that al-Bukhari deemed rigorously authentic.
  2. Sahih Muslim: Compiled by Imam Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj (d. 261 H), this collection is considered the second most authentic hadith collection after Sahih al-Bukhari.
  3. Sunan Abu Dawud: Compiled by Imam Abu Dawud Sulayman ibn al-Ash'ath (d. 275 H), this collection focuses on hadiths related to legal rulings.
  4. Jami' at-Tirmidhi: Compiled by Imam Muhammad ibn Isa at-Tirmidhi (d. 279 H), known for its unique classification of hadiths and comments on their legal implications.
  5. Sunan an-Nasa'i: Compiled by Imam Ahmad ibn Shu'ayb an-Nasa'i (d. 303 H), known for its meticulous attention to the chains of narration.
  6. Sunan Ibn Majah: Compiled by Imam Muhammad ibn Yazid Ibn Majah (d. 273 H), contains over 4,000 hadiths covering various topics.

Some famous works on Hadith regarding Ahkaam

Apart the famous six Hadith books and other important books on Ahadith contain ahadith on Ahkaam as well as on other topics. Here are some books only on Ahadith al-Ahkaam: 

  1. Muntaqa al-Akhbaar fil Ahkam by Majduddin Ibn Taymiyyah(d. 652 AH) and Nayl ul Awtaar (explanation of Muntaqa) by al-Shawkani (d. 1229) 
  2.  Umdatul Ahkaam by Abdul Ghani al-Maqdisi (d.600 AH).
  3. Taqreeb al-Asaneed by Zaynuddin al-Iraqi (d. 806 AH).
  4. Bulooghul Maraam by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852 AH). 

3) Ijma: The Consensus of Scholarly Opinion

The third source of Islamic legislation is Ijma, or the consensus of Muslim scholars on a particular ruling or issue.

Ijma, or the consensus of Muslim scholars, is one of the fundamental sources of Islamic law, alongside the Quran and the Sunnah. It refers to the unanimous agreement of the mujtahids (scholars qualified to perform legal reasoning) of the Muslim community on a particular legal matter.

Definition and Types of Ijma

The literal meaning of ijma is "to agree upon something." In Islamic legal terminology, it is defined as the agreement of the mujtahids of the Muslim community after the death of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ on a particular Shari'ah ruling.

There are two main types of ijma:

  1. Explicit Ijma (Ijma al-Qawli): This type of ijma occurs when all the mujtahids of a particular time period expressly state their agreement on a legal ruling, either by collectively issuing a verdict or by independently issuing the same verdict.
  2. Tacit Ijma (Ijma al-Sukuti): This type of ijma happens when some mujtahids issue a legal opinion on a matter and the other mujtahids of that time period, despite being aware of the opinion, remain silent and do not object to it.

Scholars qualified to participate in ijma (consensus) must meet certain criteria. They are called mujtahids - jurists capable of issuing independent legal rulings.

  • The scholars must adhere to the creed (aqeedah) and methodology (manhaj) of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaah. This implies they must be Sunni scholars following orthodox beliefs and practices.
  • The ijma is a consensus of qualified scholars, not the agreement of laypeople or the general public. The opinion of common folk or those who merely follow scholars does not count towards ijma.

Proofs for the Authority of Ijma

The authority of ijma as a source of Islamic law is established by evidence from the Quran, the Sunnah, and the practice of the early generations of Muslim scholars.

From the Quran:

  • "Whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after guidance has been clearly shown to him and follows other than the way of the believers, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen and burn him in Hell - what an evil destination" (4:115).

    Scholars interpret "the way of the believers" to mean their consensus. Renowned scholars like Ibn Kathir (Tafseer Ibn Kathir, 1/568), Qurtubi (Tafseer Qurtubi, 5/386), Ash-Shatibee (Al-Muwaafiqaat, 4/38), and As-Sa'adi (Tafseer as-Sa'di, Surah An-Nisaa:115) have interpreted this verse as a clear indication that opposing the consensus of the believers is prohibited and that Ijmaa is a valid proof in Islamic law.
  • "If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger" (4:59). This verse implies that if the believers agree upon something, it is sound and correct.

From the Sunnah:

  • The Prophet ﷺ said, "My ummah will never agree upon misguidance, and the hand of Allah is over the jama'ah (the community)." (Authenticated by Al-Albani, and others)

From the practice of the early generations:

  • Many companions (sahaba) and their successors (tabi'in) considered ijma binding. The famous scholar of the early generations, Ibn al-Mundhir (d. 318 H), wrote a book called Kitab al-Ijma compiling many rulings that had reached consensus.

Conditions for a Valid Ijma

For an ijma to be valid and binding, certain conditions must be met:

  1. The ijma must not contradict the Quran or authentic hadiths.
  2. The scholars who form the ijma must be upon the correct Islamic creed and methodology, not from deviant sects or innovators in the religion.
  3. The ijma must be conveyed through a reliable means, such as being widely recognized, mass-transmitted, or reported by a trustworthy authority on the subject.
  4. There should be no prior well-known disagreements among scholars; otherwise, there's no ijmaa.

Famous Works Recording Ijma

Throughout Islamic history, many scholars have compiled books recording the issues upon which ijma was reached. Some of the most famous works in this genre include:

  • Kitab al-Ijma by Ibn al-Mundhir (d. 318 H)
  • Maratib al-Ijma by Ibn Hazm (d. 456 H)
  • Naqd Maratib al-Ijma by Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 H), a critique of Ibn Hazm's work clarifying the issues where Ibn Hazm had claimed ijma but there was actually a difference of opinion

The Importance of Ijma

Ijma plays a crucial role in the development and stability of Islamic law. It allows the scholars of the Muslim community to build upon the foundation of the Quran and Sunnah to address new issues and situations that arise. When the qualified scholars reach a consensus on a matter, it becomes a binding part of the Shari'ah.

Moreover, ijma serves as a unifying mechanism for the Muslim community. It helps to prevent fragmentation and discord by providing a means for the scholars to come together and agree upon a unified legal position.

Renowned Islamic scholars throughout history have written extensively about the validity of Ijmaa as a proof in Islamic law. Imam Ash-Shaf'i (Kitab ar-Risaala, 1309, 1105, 1812, 821; Kitab al-Umm, Vol-7, p. 265), Imam Khateeb al-Baghdadi (Al-Faqeeh wal-mutafiqqah, 1/154), and Imam Ibn Hazm (Maraatib al-Ijmaa`) are among those who dedicated considerable efforts to establish the importance of Ijmaa using evidence from the Quran and Sunnah. It is noteworthy that no scholar from the Sahaba (companions), Tabi'een (followers), or subsequent generations of Muhadditheen (hadith scholars) rejected the concept of Ijmaa.

Ruling on Rejecting Ijmaa

The absolute rejection of Ijmaa is considered an act of disbelief (Kufr) and apostasy from Islam, as stated by Imam Ibn Hazm (Maraatib al-Ijmaa`, 1/7) and Shaykh Saleh al-Fawzan (http://www.alfawzan.af.org.sa/node/2387). However, if someone rejects specific aspects of Ijmaa, their stance should be analyzed to determine whether their reasoning is correct or incorrect. It is important to note that there are issues where Ijmaa is claimed but not necessarily established, and these cases require further examination.

4) Ijtihaad

Ijtihaad literally means "to exert effort" or "to strive." In Islamic legal terminology, it refers to the process of deriving legal rulings (of Shareeah) from the primary sources of Islamic law, namely the Quran and the Sunnah, through independent reasoning and interpretation by a qualified Islamic jurist (Mujtahid).

Ijtihaad is of several types, and requires further detailed explanation, which we will dive into in our next blog inshaAllah.


We have explored the different sources of Hukm, and understood the significance and validity of Ijmaa (consensus) in Islamic jurisprudence, its proofs from the Quran and Sunnah, and the scholarly opinions surrounding it. This fundamental principle serves as a guiding light in the interpretation and application of Islamic law.

But the journey doesn't end here! In our next blog post, we will dive into the exciting topic of Ijtihaad, the process of deriving legal rulings from the primary sources of Islamic law. This topic will engage your intellectual curiosity! You will uncover the types of Ijtihaad, the conditions for engaging in this scholarly endeavor, and its vital role in shaping the development of Islamic jurisprudence. You won't want to miss this fascinating insight to learn more about how Ijtihaad has contributed to the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of Islamic law.

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