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The history of the science of usul al-fiqh and its compilation

The discussions in knowledge since the dawn of Islam between the great
scholars of Fiqh was carried out with the intention of finding the truth, as
well as attempting to extract rulings from the divine evidences. Because of
this these great scholars felt and understood a need for principles and
criteria for the exegesis and Ijtehad, as to help preserve Islamic Fiqh from
whims and mistakes. For this reason their discussions and Ijtehad revolved
around principles built upon Usool which they agreed upon, and they gathered
this in the science which is called Usul al-Fiqh.

So this science is an innovated thing, as the pious predecessors were in no

need for it at all, because they had the pure understanding of the Arabic
language and they knew its meanings and details. They were also close to the
Prophetic period, so they had knowledge of the Quran the reasons of
revelation, as well as intelligence and sharpness, so they were not really in
need of such a science. But when the Predecessors passed away and Muslims
began to mix with other civilizations as Islam spread through the Khilafah
(May Allah return it) the scholars felt it important to write down this
science to make sure that the pure Islam is preserved from any attempt of
changing it, as happened to many people in the past.
These great people understood the reasons behind such a science i.e. To
extract rulings from evidences, so there is a ruling and evidence as well as
the process of extraction of the ruling from the evidence, as well as the one who does the extraction,
so they placed their studies into four sections :

1. The rulings - from the obligatory, the forbidden act, the recommended, the
despised, the permissible, and the Adaa', Qadaa', Saha,Fasaad, and others.

2. The original evidences - It is the book, the Sunnah, as well as what comes
from it from evidences from Ijma' and Qiyas as well as evidences that branch
from it from Istishab, The mathhab of the companion, Masalih Mursala, The
Shariah of those before us etc.
3. The ways of extraction .

4. The one who does the extraction i.e. The Mujtahid himself.

The history books point to the fact that the first man to write this science
down is the great scholar the Imaam Muhammad bin Idris Al-Shafi' (may Allah
be pleased with him!) Who died 204 A.H in Egypt, when he wrote his famous
Risalah. In this work called Al-Risalah he spoke about the Quran, the Sunnah
and it's level in relation to the Quran and that it must be followed by the
order of Allah as well as the study of the Abrogated and that which
abrogates, the general and the specific, the single narration, the Ijma' and
Qiyas and what we can have I’khtilaf (difference) upon and what we cannot

He wrote other books as well such as "Ibtaal al-Istihsaan" in response to

Abu-Hanifah and his companions and the book Jamaa' al-I'lm. After that the
Hanafi scholars wrote in this science. Ibn-Nadeem mentions that Imaam
Shaybani the student of Abu-Hanifa and from the teachers of Shafi' has
written a book in Usul al-Fiqh but this book has not reached us and has been
lost. Furthermore Imaam Khair al-deen Al-Zarakli mentions that Imaam Shaybani
has many books in Fiqh, Usool. It is narrated that Abu-Yousef (died 182 A.H.)
is the first person to author a book upon the Mathhab of Abu-Hanifa. It is
also narrated that the first person to write in the science of Usul-al-Fiqh
is Hisham bin al-Hakm, one of the companions of Imaam Abu-Abdallah Jafar bin
Muhammad (died 179 AH), however despite that there is no book to reach us
before that of Imaam Al-Shafi's al-Risalah. So the knowledge of Usul al-Fiqh
was not written down except at the end of the second century after Hijra. But
it cannot be said that the Ijtehad before this period had no principles or
details, rather what is meant that the early Mujtahideen were in no need of
such principles and general evidences to be written in books, because they
were experts in the Arabic language itself as well as the Quran, the Sunnah,
abrogated, and so on.

The metholodgy of Authors in the Science of Usul al-Fiqh

The scholars adopted three ways in the writing of Usul al-Fiqh which were:

1) Path one: The methodology of the Mutakalimeen: Most of these authors came
from the Shafi' mathhab and Maliki mathhab. It is called the methodology of
the Shaf’is because its founder was Imaam Shafi' himself. The attributes of
this methodology includes placing general principles, from evidences with
proof. They did this whether it agreed with the branches of Fiqh or not. This
method does not really look at the branches of Fiqh, Fiqh is only used as an
example of explanation. So they taught the principles so that it governed the
branches, and a way of extraction of the branches i.e. of Fiqh. From the most
famous authors in this methodology include:

1.Abu-ul-Husayn bin Ali al-Basri al-Mu'tazali who passed away 463 AH in his
book al-Mu'tamad.

2. Imaam al-Haramayn, Abu-al-M'aali Abdul al-Malik bin Abdullah Al-Juwayni

al-Shafi' (died 487 AH) in his book al-Burhan.

3. Imaam Abu-Hamad al-Ghazali al-Shafi' (died 505 AH) in his book


4. Imaam Fakhr ul-Deen Al-Razi Al-Shafi' (died 606 AH) in his book al-Mahsul

5. Imaam al-Aamidi al-Shafi', (died 631 AH), in his book Al-Ihkam.

6. Imaam Abu-'Amr Uthman bin Umar, known as Ibn-Hajib al-Maliki (died 646 AH)
in his book al-Mukhtasar in which he summarized Muntaha al-Sa'ul wa al-Amal
fi ilmay al-Usool wa al-Jadal which he summarised from Al-Aamidi's Ahkam.

7. Imaam Baydawi al-Shafi' (died 685 AH) in his book al-Minhaj.

2) Path two: The second methodology is that of the Hanafi scholars followed
by the Hanafi Usuli scholars, and from the attributes of this method is

placing general principles through which the scholars then derive the Fiqh
branches through the branches itself, that is why the main attribute is the >branches itself, as their
goal was: extracting Usuli principles that fits
with those branches as if they knew the branches and based the Usool upon it.
For this reason those who wrote in this way in their books of Usul al-Fiqh
relied on Fiqh enormously and their books contained a lot of Fiqh. The most
famous authors of this path include :

1. The Imaam Abu-al-Hasan al-Karkhi who died 340 AH in his book called

2. Imaam Ahmad bin Ali known as Al-Jassas (died 370 A.H.) His book was also
titled al-Usool.

3. Imaam Ubaid Allah bin Umar the Judge Abu-Zayd Al-Daboosi (from the areas of Samarqand in
today's Uzbekistan (he died 430 A.H.) His book was also
called al-Usool.

4. Imaam Fakhr al-Islam Ali bin Muhammad al-Bazdawi (died 482 A.H.) In his
book al-Usool as well. This book is from the most authoritative books written
on the path of the Hanafi mathhab it was explained by the Imaam Alaa al-Deen
Abdul Aziz bin Ahmad al-Bukhari who died in 730 A.H. In a great book called
Kashf al-Asrar.

5. The scholar Shams al-A'ima Abu-Bakr Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Abi Sahl
Al-Sarkhasi who died 483 A.H. In his book al-Usool.

6. Imaam Abdullah bin Ahmad Al-Nasafi who died 710 A.H. in his book al-Manar.

3)The third path: This can be called the path of the later scholars, this is
because they saw that both previously mentioned paths in Usool each had its
attributes and benefits not found in the other so they began to write in the
science of Usool al-Fiqh by gathering between the two paths . So the Usool
are researched with evidences and proofs, and implemented upon it i.e the
branches of Fiqh. Many authors wrote in this way from both the Hanafi and
Shafi' mathhab. From the most famous writers include:

1. Imaam Muthafar al-Deen Ahmad bin Ali Al-Baghdadi Al-Hanafi, known as

Ibn-Saa'ati who died 694 A.H. In his book Badi' al-Nitham that gathered
between the books of Bazdawi and al-Ahkam..

2. Imaam Sadr al-Shariah, Ubaid Allah bin Mas'ud al-Bukhari al-Hanafi, who
died 747 A.H. In his book Tanqih al-Usool which he summarized from Usool
al-Bazdawi, and Muktasar Ibn-Hajab, and al-Mahsool by Imaam Al-Razi the
author explained it in a book called: Al-Tawdih fi Hal Ghawamid Al-Tanqih. >Also S'ad al-Deen
Al-Taftazani Al-Shafi' who died in 792 A.H. has a
explanation on Al-Tawdih he called it Al-Talwih.

3. Imaam Kamal al-Deen Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahad known as Ibn-Humam who died
861 A.H. In his book al-Tahrir and upon it is a explanation called Al-Taqreer

wa al-Tahbeer by Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Ameer al-Haj who died 879 A.H.

4. Imaam Taj al-Deen Abdul-Wahab bin Ali al-Subki al-Shafi', who died 771 A.H
in his book Jam' al-Juwaami' it was explained by Sheikh Jalal ul-Deen
Al-Muhli and upon it is a explanation by Alama Al Banani.
5. Imaam Muhib al-Deen bin Abdul Shakoor al-Hindi died 1119 A.H. In his book
Muslim al-Thaboot and upon it is a great explanation called Fawatih
al-Rahamoot by Ibn-Nitham al-Deen.

6. Imaam al-Shawkani who died 1255 A.H. In his great book Irshad al-Fuhool
ila tahqeeq al-Haq min Ilm al-Usool.

7. Let us not forget the Imaam Abu-Ishaq Ibrahim bim Musa Al-Shatibi
al-Maliki who died 780 A.H. The one who wrote al-Muwafaqat one of the most
famous, and one of the greatest books ever to be written in this science. In
the modern era many books have been written in this science including:

1. The book Taheel al-Wasul ila Ilm al-Usool by the Sheikh Muhammad
Abdul-Raahman Eid al-Muhlawi. Died 1920

2. The book Usool al-Fiqh by Sheikh Muhammad al-Khudri died 1927 A.H.

3. The book Usool al-Fiqh as well by Abdul-Wahab Khalaf who died 1955.

4. Al-Shaksia al-Islamia by Qadi Taqi ul-Deen al-Nabahani. The third volume

of this book is totally devoted to Usul al-Fiqh.

5. The book Usul al-Fiqh as well by Muhammad Abu-Zahrah died 1974.

6. Al-Waseet fi Usul al-Fiqh al-Hanafia by Sheikh Ahmad Fahmi abu-Sinnah.

7. Usool al-Fiqh al-Islami by Sheikh Shakir al-Hanbali printed in 1948 in