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Hawza Subjects - Usul al-Fiqh

Usul al-Fiqh (Principles of Jurisprudence)

In the early days of Islam, scholars only relied on the Qur'an and hadith to understand the practical laws of Islam. They grouped all the traditions at their disposal based on jurisprudence issues. It has therefore been said that the early jurist (faqih) was in fact no more than today's expert of hadith (muhadith).

In time though, a jurist had to be skilled in other sciences as well because many practical issues arose that were beyond the scope of just a literal interpretation of the Qur'an and hadith. There was now a need for a science that, for example, discusses not only the jurisprudence content of a Qur'an verse or hadith but also the general principle(s) behind it that jurists could adhere to when deriving other laws on other issues. This science is The Science of the Principles of Jurisprudence ('ilm usul al-fiqh). Usually referred to as 'ilm al-usul (the Science of Principles) or usul al-fiqh (the Principles of Jurisprudence).

A student will typically begin with a primer such as Mabadi Usul al-Fiqh by Sh. Abd al-Hadi Fadli or the 2 volume Al-Moojaz fi Usul al-Fiqh by Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani (which in addition to other books on Usul al-Fiqh is available online here). Thereafter, the two most popular works studied are:

1. Durus fi Usul al-Fiqh (simply called the Halaqat) of Shahid Ayatullah Baqir al-Sadr. This is divided into 3 courses with the last course or Halaqa being further divided into 2 volumes.

2. Usul al-Fiqh of Sh. Mudhaffar (simply called Usul al-Mudhaffar). This is divided into 2 volumes.

The first Halaqa of Shahid al-Sadr is now available in English. Once Hawza students have completed studying these works, they are now ready to study the more advanced classic works of Usul al-Fiqh which are ar-Rasail, al-Kifayah and Ma'alim al-Usul.

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