Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Basic Distinction Between Fiqh & Shariah: A Science & A Divine Path

 Dr. Tahira Basharat

Fiqh and Sharia'h originate from Quran and Sunna. Both terms are often used  interchangeably but there is a distinction between the two.

The…meaning of Sharia'h…is, in explanatory sense, the path to be followed. In technical sense, it is the totality of God's commands, or as Muhammad Khan defines it, "Shariat means matters which would not have been known but for the communications made to us by the Lawgiver."

On the other hand Fiqh refers to human reasoning, knowledge and understanding. According to Hashim Kamali "Fiqh is a rational endeavor and largely a product of speculative reasoning, which does not command the same authority as Shari'ah."

Thus, the path of Sharia'h has been laid down by God and His prophet whereas Fiqh is the result of human endeavor. Fiqh signifies science of law and Shariat is the divinely ordained path of rectitude.

In practice both terms are used synonymously as the criterion of all human actions, whether in the Sharia'h or Fiqh; seeking the approval of God by conforming to an ideally perfect code.

But in other questions like criminal law, with the exception of some prescribed punishments, Sharia'h remains flexible and provides only general guidelines. Fiqh, on the other hand, is knowledge of practical rules as derived from Quran and the Sunnah.. "The practicalities of conduct are evaluated on a scale of five values; obligatory, recommended, permissible, reprehensible and forbidden." A very important idea to understand is that although most of the Islamic law and jurisdiction is based upon human reasoning, none of it goes against the basic sources of Law; the Quran and the Sunnah.

Read more on Shariah:

Al-Ghazali & The Basic Purpose of Legislation in Islam: Protect the Interest of People Against Harm

Hashim Kamali: Protection of Freedom of Religion in Islam

 Dr. Tahira Basharat is an Associate Professor, Faculty of Islamic Studies University of the Punjab Lahore

1 comment:

Nexus said...

Fiqh signifies science of law and Shariat is the divinely ordained path of rectitude.Shariah Advisory