The Definition of The Science of Fiqh (Shafii)

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What is fiqh? What does fiqh means in shafii?

Literal Definition of the Word Fiqh

The Arabic word fiqh (الفِقْهُ) literally means, “to understand in depth, to grasp, and to comprehend”. In the Qur’an, it and its derivatives are mentioned in twenty places. In these verses, the meaning of the word fiqh is utilized as “deep understanding” and “comprehension” corresponding to its literal meaning.[1]

In addition to the above-mentioned literal meanings, the word fiqh is used in the sense of comprehending the subtleties of matters that are directly related to religion. Some of the hadiths that consist of the word fiqh are as follows:

  • “A person who says the following demonstrates religious comprehension (fiqh), regarding matters that he does not know, “I do not know, but Allah knows best.”[2]
  • “Keeping the prayer long and sermon short is one of the signs of a person’s religious comprehension (fiqh).”[3]
  • Once, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) warned Abdullah b. ‘Amr for his excessive recitation of the Qur’an and said, “… do not finish reciting it in less than three days otherwise you will not comprehend (fiqh) the Qur’an.”[4]

The term faqih is used for the person who is engaged in the the science of fiqh and its plural form is fuqaha.

Terminological Definition of the Term Fiqh

There are three important terminological definitions of the word fiqh, briefly known as “knowing religious rulings along with their proofs”:

1- Imam Abu Hanifa defines fiqh as follows:

“Fiqh is the knowledge of a person pertaining to the rulings of what is good and bad for him.”

2- The definitions made by Imam Shafi’i is as follows:

“Fiqh is the knowledge of religious-practical rulings deduced from the detailed sources.”

3- According to the first article of Majalla, which is a legal code prepared in the Ottoman Empire as a result of many years of labor, the term fiqh is defined as follows:

The science of fiqh is the knowledge about the religious-practical matters.”

[1] See for examples: al-Nisa, 4; 78; al-Anfal, 8; 65; al-Tawba 9; 87, al-Hashr, 59; 13; al-Isra, 17; 44

[2] Muslim, Munafiqun, 40

[3] Muslim, Jum’a, 47

[4] Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad X, 55

Source: Fiqh1 (According To The Shafi’i School Of Islamic Law), Erkam Publications

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