Islam has significant characteristics in its elaborated legal system, which regulates broad areas of human conduct by its right and wrong ideology. Islamic precepts, which Muslims believe to have been inspired by Allah Almighty, should be followed by believers through thought and deed. Whereas, the ultimate source of any power and authority is Allah Almighty alone. Everyone except Allah Almighty, including Prophet (SAW), is subordinate to Devine Law, so there are two main sources of the Islamic law that will explore in the following lines.
The term “LAW” includes both the moral law as well as legal law. While moral law and legal law have its sources some of revealed in the specific context of the Quran and sunnah as the will of Allah Almighty and others are Hadith, Qiyas, and Ijma. Muslims have to embody it in legal enactments in their context as per the authenticity of the sources. Islamic law has two kinds of sources;
- Primary Source of law
- Secondary Source of law
Now we will discuss both sources in detail as following;
Primary Source of Law:
Quran is the primary source of law. It is the main and basic source of Islamic Law. Quran not only provides the solutions for all kinds of social, political, economic, civil, criminal, family, and ethical issues but also strictly forbid from unlawful/illegal acts, and these acts may be testified by the law of evidence.
The basic aim of the Quran is to set down a way of life which regulates the relationship between people (known as Haqooq ul Abad) and with Allah Almighty (known as Haqooq Allah). Islam guides us in the law of inheritance, family law (marriage, divorce), criminal (hadd), civil laws, provisions of war, and peace that regulates the relationships between fellow beings.
In addition to these specific laws, Holy Quran gives moral teachings with the mixture of ethics and laws based on the consciences of man by creating fear of Allah Almighty in man’s mind and obedience to Allah Almighty. The legislative part of the Quran is the model illustration for future legislation and does not constitute a legal code by itself.
Quran presents Islamic ideology in a general form according to the changing of the era all the time. Quran guides based on rules which lead to producing the code of law and Holy Prophet (PBUH) was sent to preach of Islam. That’s why Sunnah by its nature is also a second major source of law in Islam.
Islamic law underwent a long period of evolution. The details of legal rules do not fall under the basic objectives of the Holy Quran. Normally the legal verses of the Quran are quite definite but they are open to interpretation and different rules can be derived from the same. This is the base of the differences of opinions among the Jurist.
Another important source of law in Islam is Sunnah. It refers to the model behavior of the Holy Prophet (BPUH), which leads to the exact implementation of Quranic education through the revelations of Allah Almighty. Quran declares the Prophet (PBUH) as the interpreter of the Quranic text.
The Sunnah is, therefore, closely linked with the Quran and it is rather difficult to maintain that these two are separate sources. It is Sunnah that gives the concrete shape to the Quranic teachings. The Quran, for example, mentioned Salah and Zakat but does not set down their behavior, the Sunnah guides in detail how to perform these duties. The decisions taken by Prophet (SAW) were elevated by Allah Almighty and therefore, their acceptance and implementation were declared to be a fundamental of faith.
Hadith is the index and vehicle of Sunnah. The early schools of law normally accepted those traditions that were well known and practiced by the Muslims. That’s why the early jurists arguing based on the Sunnah differently from each other. Their main differences were due to the interpretation and application of particular Hadith to a particular case.
According to Al-Shafii, the Sunnah coming directly from the Prophet (SAW) in the form of Hadith through a reliable chain of narrators is a source of law, whether accepted by the people or not. He valued more the traditions from Prophet (SAW) than the opinions of companions. He said that in the presence of the Prophet (SAW) tradition, no other authority can stand.
A Hadith through a single narrator should not be set aside. And in case of conflict between two reports from Prophet (SAW) the more authentic one must be preferred.
The next important basis of a law which is, in fact, a supplement to the Sunnah, is the opinions of the companions. From the early days of Islam, the Muslims have taken the legal decisions of companions as the source of law. The reason behind this is that the companions were the immediate observers of the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). The successors of the companions also played a major role in the development of Islamic law. Since they had an association with the companions, their opinions, too, carried weight in law.
Abu Yousaf bases the principle of avoiding inflicting “Hadd” punishment on the accused in the case of doubt, on the opinions of the companions and successors. Al Shafi follows the opinions of the successors in such cases.
Secondary Source of Law:
Qiyas (Analogical Deductions)
It is a developed form of Ra’y (Considered Opinion). In the early days of Islam, Ra’y was a normal term that covered a variety of modes of Ijtihad. Quran and Sunnah provide legal rules concerning the individual and social life of Muslims. But human life needs laws that should be changed over time.
Ra’y is a tool that enables Muslims to make new laws which meet the need of time under the Islamic rules. The period of Umar (R.A.) caliphate is well known for this purpose.
Ra’y later developed into a legal and technical concept into that is to find out and essential common factor between two similar cases and to apply the rule of one to the other. After the application of Qiyas as by different persons, the result is not essentially the same.
Al Shafi regards Qiyas as weaker than Ijma. He does not allow the Khabar. He takes it as something for the sake of need. For example, no Taharat is allowed without water if available, but if the water is not available Tayyammum is allowed. One should depend on indications to conclude.
Ijma is an important source of law. Ijma is the rule to ensure that the truth of new legal law that is the result of the Qiyas and Ijtihad. It is a check against the weakness of Qiyas. Some points have been universally accepted by the entire community. This kind of ijma that allows no difference of opinions is normally confined to obligatory duties. This is known as the Ijma of the community.
According to Al Shafi, Ijma is static and there is no room for disagreement. He does not accept Ijma of the learned as a source of law due to the difference among them. Only the Ijma of the Community is valid according to him since the community at large cannot neglect the Sunnah of Prophet (SAW) which the individual can neglect. Again, community can never agree on a decision opposed to the Sunnah or on error. Ijma according to him is only a theoretical source of law than a practical one.
In fact, Al Shafi confines legal knowledge to two basic sources Quran and Sunnah which call astan (the two bases), while Ijtihad according to him, is not an “ayn” (entity), but something created by human intelligence.
Al Shafi believes that Quran and Sunnah provide answers to all possible concerning religion.
It is concluded that Islamic law has no parallel in history. It has, indeed, been the world’s most successful legal system. This system had been practicing for more than fourteen hundred years by many peoples and nations with widely differing cultures and local conditions. The law provides detailed rules for each of the areas, the study of Islamic law and jurisprudence is an obligation. The duty falls squarely on the shoulders of the Muslim state to implement Islamic law in society. The Islamic legal system teaches its followers that all powers belong to Allah Almighty and the whole system runs according to the will of Allah Almighty, for this purpose Islam gives a complete legal system. The Islamic legal system has its sources which produced for the easement of its followers. Islam gives the right path to the society and the exact solutions of the problems faced by its followers. Quran and Sunnah are the basic and primary sources of the law because the Quran was revealed on Prophet (PBUH) and Sunnah is the mixture of all those acts and behavior observed by Prophet (PBUH). While, the secondary sources are those acts which were observed by the companions of Prophet (PBUH) as they were well-learned people directly by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and they solve issues through Quranic and Sunnah education and also derived the rules from Hadith, Qiyas, Ijma, and Ijtihad.