This course will examine the sources of Islamic law and its basic methodologies. The student will attain a firm understanding of the objectivity of the Islamic legal process. Finally, the roles that the scholars and laymen play in this process will be discerned.
- Understand how to determine divine intent (learning what Allah Most High wants from his creation through “indicator” (adilla shariya), and how we recognize these indicators
- Understand the origins of scholarly disagreement
- Understand why both modernists and extremists alike are mistaken in their approach
- Strengthen one’s religious commitment in the face of modern anti-religious pressures and, in particular, Islamophobia
About the Course
Legal Methodology (usul al-fiqh) has two parts: a theoretical part and a practical part. The practical part is what students normally associate the discipline of Legal Methodology with: namely, the rules of interpreting and interacting with the primary religious sources to derive law. This is not the subject matter of this course. This course focuses on the more fundamental theoretical part of the discipline of legal methodology, which builds on theology to create a logical structure of our religion: namely, what are and are not the sources of law, and how do we know that the source in question accurately indicates God’s intent.
This course starts off by examining the meaning of morality and role of reason in determining divine intent. It then moves on to unpack the theoretical underpinnings of the four agreed-upon sources of Sunni Islam—the Quran, the Sunna, Ijma` (scholarly consensus), and Qiyas (analogy). Students will understand why these sources are important and how to use them. It concludes with a rigorous discussion of the concepts of ijtihad (scholarly interpretation) and taqlid (following scholarship). The course then briefly discusses sources that are differed-upon, such as companion positions, the agreement of the people of Medina, and juristic preference (istihsan).
- Week 1: Reason, Revelation, and Morality – The search for God’s Law; The mind as a source of law
- Week 2: The Quran and the Sunna: indicators of Divine Law
- Week 3: Scholarly Consensus (ijma`)
- Week 4: Analogy (qiyas)
- Week 5: Differed-Upon Proofs & Scholarly Interpretation (ijtihad) and Following Scholarship (taqlid)
- Final Assignment
The course will consist of weekly Live Sessions, course slides, a Mid-Term and a Final Exam. Ustadh Farid shall hold weekly office hours where students can consult with him one-on-one. Students are highly encouraged to post their questions in the Forum over the course of the week, which are answered during the Live Sessions.
Weekly Time Commitment
The course requires an estimated 2 hours per week outside of the Live Sessions
There is no required text for this course – simply show up to the Live sessions!
No background required: all are welcome!
Why is this knowledge imperative to correctly positioning Islam in the present world?
The world has changed more in the last two hundred years than it has in the previous two thousand. Worldliness has grown and shouldered aside religion. Scholars of every religion have been fighting a rearguard battle in the face of modernity and forging a role for religion in the age of reason.
Every religion has succumbed to the pressures of modernity and turned into something very different from what it was two hundred years ago, perhaps with the sole exception of Islam.
Publicly visible Muslim responses to the pressures of modernity however have spanned the entire spectrum between compromising modernist responses to irrational extremist responses. These different shades have been based on insufficient religious training.
How does a Muslim know where his religion stands in the modern context?
The real Muslim response, is a properly informed re-statement of what our scholars have been saying for the past 1400 years, particularly what they have said in the discipline of legal methodology (usul al-fiqh). Someone who understands the theoretical bases of Legal Methodology, the logical structure our entire religion is based on, knows exactly where they stand with respect to everything – with respect to the bases of all knowledge and events in this temporal realm. This logical structure is what gives the ultimate context to all knowledge and events in our lives. Someone who doesn’t understand this structure will not know where they stand with respect to anything.
What shall I know coming out of the course?
The student will leave with a thorough understanding of how to discover what exactly Allah Most High wants of us. The student will also be prepared for the next level course in practical legal methodology, LMT201: The Waraqat Explained, which focuses on how to interact with the primary sources to derive rulings.