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The Jurisprudential Sects of Islam

The divisions of Muslims became widespread after the murder of the third khalīfa, ‛Uthmān bin ‛Affān. At that time the Muslims swore allegiance to Imām ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib (a) but Mu‛āwīyah bin Abī Sufyān refused to swear allegiance to him. Nobody followed him in this except the people of Syria. He formed his own, autonomous government there. He also took some jurists and some people who related traditions with him, and thus the major division was started.

We learned that Islamic jurisprudence is the knowledge of Islamic laws, what is permissible and what is forbidden, what is obligatory, what is disliked (not recommended, unfavorable) and what is recommended (favorable), and what is correct and what is incorrect.

We also know that these Islamic laws are derived from the Qurān and prophetic traditions.

We also know that the Muslims in the time of the Prophet (s) would take their religious rulings from him. They would take the rulings that had to do with worship, like prayer, pilgrimage, fasting and spiritual purification, or the rulings that had to do transactions like trade, partnership, rent, land, marriage and divorce and other rules that are found in the religion from him.

Then, after his death, some situations arose in one’s prayer, fast, life, business, partnership or pilgrimage…etc that did not occur during the Prophet’s (s) lifetime. They needed to know what the religious ruling was. In this case they would refer to some of the companions to take the ruling from them. Some took rulings from Imām ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib (a), some from ‛Abd Allah bin ‛Abbās and some from ‛Abd Allah bin Mas‛ūd. ‛Alī (a) was the most knowledgeable companion; the Prophet (s) said the following about him: “I am the city of knowledge and ‛Alī is its entrance.”[1]

But, we see some different verdicts passed by different companions and the generation that came after them called the tābi‛īn. There were many mujtahids and many differences in verdicts, but there were no jurisprudential sects like there are today. The Muslims would refer to the scholars amongst the companions, tābi‛īn and Imāms (a) for the religious rulings that they needed. Imām ‛Alī bin al-Hussayn al-Sajjād (a), Imām Muhammad bin ‛Alī al-Bāqir (a) and Imām Ja‛far bin Muhammad al-Sādiq (a) lived in these times.

How Jurisprudence sects were formed and when

The divisions of Muslims became widespread after the murder of the third khalīfa, ‛Uthmān bin ‛Affān. At that time the Muslims swore allegiance to Imām ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib (a) but Mu‛āwīyah bin Abī Sufyān refused to swear allegiance to him. Nobody followed him in this except the people of Syria. He formed his own, autonomous government there. He also took some jurists and some people who related traditions with him, and thus the major division was started.

At the same time where the Muslims and the great companions believed ‛Alī (a) to be the rightful khalīfa and the most knowledgeable person war was started between him and Mu‛āwīyah bin Abī Sufyān. Here, the belief in the Ahlul-Bayt (a) grew. The Ahlul-Bayt are glorified in the Qurān. Allah said that he removed all impurities from them and purified them a thorough purification. Allah also made it obligatory to love them and accept their authority.

A shi’a (follower) of the Ahlul-Bayt (a) is one who loves them, obeys them and believes in their rights.

The Shia had a strong presence during the fight with Mu‛āwīyah and after Imām ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib’s martyrdom when his son al-Hassan (also the son of the daughter of the prophet) became the khalīfa. After that a big argument arose between Imām al-Hussayn bin ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib (a) and Yazīd bin Mu‛āwīyah which lead to a war between them in a place called Karbalā’, Iraq. This war took place on the tenth day of the Islamic month ‘Muharram‘ in the 61stA.H.. Imām Hussayn and 78 of his companions and family members were martyred in this war.

With all of this, there were not jurisprudential sects of Islam as there are today. There were two different sects at that time. One of them followed the Ahlul-Bayt (a) those that Allah cleansed from all impurities and purified them a thorough purification, those who did not say anything except what their forefather, the messenger of Allah (s) said. The Ahlul al-Bayt (a) are none other than Imām ‛Alī, Hassan, Hussayn and the nine Imāms that came from his lineage (a). The other group followed the Umawī (Umayyad) judges. Of course amongst the Umawī judges there were different opinions and various verdicts.

At the end of the first century A.H. different jurists appeared and the Islamic sciences took form. Examples of these jurists are: Sa‛īd bin al-Mussayab, al-Hassan al-Basrī and Sufyān al-Thawrī who lived in the same time as Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir bin ‛Alī bin al-Hussayn bin ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib. The scholars of this time learned from him.

Islamic jurisprudence started to spread out in the second century A.H. Islamic jurisprudential sects also started to form because many jurists appeared and they made many religious verdicts which differed from the verdicts of others. Some of the differences include leaving the arms down in prayer or crossing them or in some of the rulings regarding wudū’, fasting, divorce, inheritance, etc.
The jurisprudential sects of Islam that are taught and have scholars and students all over the world are:

  1. The Ahlul-Bayt (a) sect. It is also called the Ja‛farī sect or the Shia Imāmīyyah sect.
  2. The Hanafī sect.
  3. The Mālikī sect.
  4. The Shāfi‛ī sect.
  5. The Hanbalī sect.

Each of these jurisprudential sects will be described:

The Ahlul-Bayt (a) Sect

It must be stated that the Ahlul-Bayt (a) do not have a separate sect, or different laws than their forefather Muhammad (s). Instead, they continued his path and were taught by him. Rules pertaining to worship, contracts and other miscellaneous subjects are all taken from one source full of wisdom and light, which is none other than the Prophet (s). Imām al-Sādiq (a) said: “We do not give any legal rulings or ethical advice unless it was passed to us by our great father who obtained it from the Prophet (s).” So, their traditions, unless changed, depict the essence of Islam that was sent from the lord of the worlds.[2]

The Ahlul-Bayt (a) sect is also named the Ja‛farī sect attributed to Imām Ja‛far al-Sādiq bin Muhammad al-Bāqir bin ‛Alī (Zayn al-‛Ābidīn) bin al-Hussayn (al-Sibt) bin ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib (a).
It is also named the Shia Imāmīyyah sect because of their belief in the 12 Imāms from the Ahlul-Bayt (a).

Imām Ja‛far al-Sādiq (a) was the Imām of the Muslims in his time. He was the teacher of scholars and famous for his greatness, knowledge, abstinence from the world and worship.

Imām Ja‛far al-Sādiq (a) was born in the 82ndA.H., during the Umayyad reign. He taught and spread Islamic sciences in the prophet’s mosque, just like his forefathers did. He would relate traditions from his father, al-Bāqir (a) who related them from his forefathers all the way up to the messenger of Allah (s). He gave 1000 jurisprudential verdicts and was ahead of the scholars of his time in Islamic sciences, for example theology, tafsīr (exegesis) and everything else Muslims treasured.

There were around 4000 religious students that related traditions from him.

Some of Imām al-Sādiq’s (a) students were experts in the prophetic traditions and leaders of different sects, for example: Imām Abī Hanīfah (the leader of the Hanafī sect) and Imām Mālik bin Anas (the leader of the Mālikī sect).

The Ahlul-Bayt jurisprudential sect has spread today to different areas of the Islamic world, for example Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India, Azerbaijan, etc.

The Hanafi Sect

This sect is called the Hanafī sect because of its imām, Abī Hanīfah.
Abī Hanīfah’s full name is al-Nu‛mān bin Thābit bin Zūtī al-Fārsī. His forefathers were from Kabul. Abī Hanīfah was born in the 80thA.H. and died in the year 150 in Baghdad.

Abī Hanīfah grew up in Kūfa and spent half of his lifetime working as a merchant before he became a seminary student and teacher. He studied under Hammād bin Abī Salamah for eighteen years before he became a scholar himself. He was one of the big scholars of his time and reached the level of ijtihād. He accepted voting and syllogism qiyas in addition to the Qurān and prophetic traditions as tools for deriving religious rulings or fatwa. Many scholars of his time refuted him on this issue. In this regard, both Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir (a) and Ja‛far al-Sādiq (a) said that when making a fatwa one must stick only to the Qurān and the prophetic traditions.

His sect spread in Iraq and later in other areas of the Islamic world. Abī Hanīfah lived for 52 years during the Umayyad reign, but did not accept them. Rather, he believed that the rule khilafat should be given to the family of ‛Alī (a). He even ruled in favor of the ‛Alawī uprising lead by Zayd bin ‛Alī bin al-Hussayn bin ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib and allowed money that was collected from zakāt taxe to be spent on the uprising. It should be mentioned that Zayd bin ‛Alī bin al-Hussayn tutored Abī Hanīfah for two years and ‛Abduallah bin al-Hussayn bin ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib was also one of his tutors.

The Umayad rulers asked him to become a judge and he refused. Because of this, they put him in prison and whipped him for days, until he was on the brink of death. Then, the prison warden helped him to escape and he fled to Mecca. Afterwards, he was travelling between Mecca and Medina pretending to be a nomad. During this period of time he studied for two years under Imām al-Sādiq (a). He has a famous saying describing this experience: “If it wasn’t for these two years, al-Nu‛mān would have perished.” He stayed there until the end of rule of the Umayyad dynasty on the hands of the Abbasid dynasty.

When the Abbasid dynasty came to power, Abī Hanīfah refused to help them. Al-Mansūr imprisoned him and ordered him to be lashed 120 times which resulted in his death.

The Maliki Sect

This sect is named its founder Imām Mālik bin Anas bin Mālik al-Asbahī who was a member of the Yemenite al-Asbah tribe.

Mālik bin Anas was born in Medina in the 93rdA.H.. He was a student of some of the Islamic jurists of his time including Nāfi‛, Mawla ‛Abduallah bin ‛Umar and Ibn Shahāb al-Zahrī. He also studied under Imām Ja‛far al-Sādiq (a) and related traditions from him. He said: “I have not seen anyone better than Ja‛far bin Muhammad.”

He lived under the Umayyad rule for forty years and during this time he did not portray himself as a scholar.

When the Umayyad dynasty fell and the Abbasid dynasty came to power he showed inclination towards the family of ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib (a) and ruled that they were the legitimate rulers and that rule khalafah was their right. He passed a verdict making it obligatory to aid Muhammad bin ‛Abd Allah bin al-Hassan bin ‛Alī bin Abī Tālib who revolted against the Abbasid dynasty. As a punishment, Ja‛far bin Sulaymān, the Abbasid governor of Medina at the time, ordered him to be lashed 50 times. The lashes were so hard that his shoes fell off.

Later on, the Abbasid khalīfa, Abū Ja‛far al-Mansūr changed his mind and improved his relations with Imām Mālik. He asked Imām Mālik to write a jurisprudential book, in accordance to his sect, to be published. Imām Mālik wrote the book Al-Mūattā’, the book of religious verdicts, and the Mālakī jurisprudential sect became the official sect of the Abbasid Empire and missionaries were sent as far as Africa and Indonesia to preach Al-Mūattā’ and the Mālakī sect. Imām Mālik differed from Abī Hanīfah on his views regarding voting and syllogism as valid sources of religious rulings. He died in the 179thA.H..

The Shafi’i Sect

This sect was named after its founder Imām Muhammad bin Idrīs bin ‛Abbās bin ‛Uthmān al-Shāfi‛ whose lineage traced back to Hāshim, the son of ‛Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s (s) grandfather.

Imām Shāfi‛ī was born in the 150thA.H., the same year that Abī Hanīfah died. He was an orphan and his mother raised him in Yemen. When he reached 10 years of age he went to Mecca to learn reading and writing. He then lived in the desert for 17 years before becoming a religious student. He studied under the scholars of his time such as Muslim bin Khālid al-Makhzūmī and Mālik bin Anas (the founder of the Mālikī sect and the author of al-Mūattā’.) When Imām Mālik passed away he returned to Yemen.

During Rashīd’s reign, he was charged with helping the ‛Alawī movement along with others by the governor of Yemen. He was then sent to Baghdād to be tried. Many were killed but Shāfi‛ī was saved.

He then migrated to Egypt and preached his sect there. His sect was also spread by his students in other parts of the Islamic world. Imām Shāfi‛ī died in the 198thA.H.

He has said: “If there is a prophetic tradition in opposition to my view, throw my view against the wall.”[3]

The Hanbali Sect

This sect was named after its founder Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal who was an Arab.
He was born in Baghdād in 164 A.H. He started his studies there at the age of 15. He studied under both Imam al-Shāfi‛ī’s and ‛Ali Abī Yusif al-Qādī (Abī Hanīfah’s student.) He also studied under different scholars of his time, such as Harīz, one of Imām Sādiq’s (a) students.

This sect was spread like the other sects. This sect is still practiced in the Arabian Peninsula and other parts of the Islamic world. Ahmad bin Hanbal died in Baghdād in 241 A.H.

The History of the Ahlul-Bayt (a) Jurisprudential

The Three Stages of the Ahlul-Bayt (a) jurisprudence Sect

An important point about the history of the Ahlul-Bayt (a) jurisprudential sect is that it is divided into different stages. Each stage will be described. An important point about the history of the Ahlul-Bayt (a) jurisprudential sect is that it is divided into different stages. Each stage will be described.

The First Stage

This was the stage of the narration of traditions from the Imāms (a). This stage starts from the early days of Islam and ends at the Lesser Occultation in 260 A.H.
Jurisprudence, in this stage, was narrating traditions. Companions would hear a tradition from one of the infallibles (a) and spread it to their communities without organizing them into different subjects.

The first text that was written, other than what the Commander of the Faithful (a) wrote, was written by Abī Rāfi‛, a companion of the prophet (s) and Imām ‛Alī (a). He wrote a book called Kitāb al-Sunan wa al-Ahkām wa al-Qadāyā.

His son, ‛Alī bin Abī Rāfi‛, the Commander of the Faithful’s (a) scribe, wrote a book using the different sections of jurisprudence, for example wūdū and salat.

Jurisprudential texts increased during the imamate of Imām Bāqir and Sādiq (a) due to the weakness of the Umayyad dynasty during its last days and power being shifted to the Abbasid dynasty.

Jurisprudential texts continued to grow, so much so that during the time of Hurr al-‛Āmilī there were 6600 texts. 400 of these texts became famous and were called the 400 principles. The four great books of the Shia written by the three great scholars[4] were compiled from these books.

The city of Medina was the center of Islamic studies for the Ahlul-Bayt (a) during this period until Imām Sādiq (a) moved to Kufa and the second center of Islamic studies was formed.

Al-Hassan bin ‛Alī al-Washā’ said: “I witnessed 900 scholars who all said that they heard so and so from Ja‛far bin Muhammad (a) in this mosque (Masjid al-Kūfa).”[5]

The Imām had great companions in Kūfa, such as Abān bin Taghlib who related 30,000 traditions and Muhammad bin Muslim who related 40,000.

When we say that jurisprudence in this stage was just compiling and spreading traditions rather than organizing them into different sections, we do not mean that this includes the big scholars of the time. Each one of them was an authority in themselves, like Muhammad bin Muslim, Zarārah ibn A‛yan and Abī Basīr. Imām Sādiq (a) said: “Burīd bin Mu‛āwīyah al-‛Ajalī, Abī Basīr Layth al-Bakhtarī al-Murādī, Muhammad bin Muslim and Zarārah will be given the glad tidings of Heaven. They believe in Allah about the obligatory actions and forbidden ones. The line of prophethood would have discontinued if it were not for them.”[6]

The Imām considered them mujtahids who had the capability of deriving verdicts from the Qurān and prophetic traditions. Sometimes he (a) would order them practice it, for example he (a) said: “It is upon us to tell you the principles and it is upon you to branch them out.”[7] He (a) also told people to refer to some of his companions in religious rulings, like Yūnis bin ‛Abd al-Rahmān. Someone asked the Imām: “It is not possible for me to come to you and ask everything that I need about religious sciences. Is Yūnis bin ‛Abd al-Rahmān trustworthy; can I take whatever I need from him?”

The Imām answered: “Yes.”[8]
He (a) also ordered some of his companions to give religious verdicts, such as Abān bin Taghlib. The Imām (a) told him: “Sit in Medina’s mosque and give religious verdicts to the people. Verily I love to see my Shia to be like you.”[9]

The Second Stage

This stage started at the Minor Occultation in 260 A.H., and lasted until the days of Shaykh Tūsī who lived between 385 A.H. and 460 A.H.

In this stage the Ahlul-Bayt (a) jurisprudential sect transformed from merely relating traditions without organizing them into different sections into writing jurisprudential books without adding anything to the traditions or changing their terminology. This is clear in the book Sharāyi‛ which was written by ‛Alī bin Bābūway for his son Muhammad. It is said that when someone needed a tradition they would find it in this book.

Other similar books are al-Maqna‛ and al-Hidāyah by Shaykh al-Sadūq, Muhammad bin ‛Alī bin Bābūway and al-Nihāyah by Shaykh al-Tūsī.

We are not saying that there weren’t scholars who were spreading traditions, but we are saying that now the traditions are organized into different subjects similar to the practice today. This is clearly seen in the books al-Kāfī by Shaykh al-Kulaynī and Man Lā Yaduruhu al-Faqīh by Shaykh al-Sadūq.
This is what generally took place in this stage. This does not mean that there weren’t any scholars who added to the traditions by using intellectual deductions, as seen in the works of al-‛Ummānī and al-Iskāfī.

If one wants to explain more he can say that this stage had three major schools:

  1. The school of Qum and al-Ray: This school used traditions but did not use intellectual deductions. Some of the scholars of this school are the two Sadūqs. This was a strong school and was relied upon by many scholars.
  2. The school of al-‛Ummānī and al-Iskāfī: This school preferred using intellectual deduction to such an extent that they accepted syllogism and voting. Al-‛Ummānī’s full name was al-Hassan bin ‛Alī bin Abī ‛Aqīl. It is said that he is the first person to apply his ijtihād to actions, while mentioning the different sections of jurisprudence and mentioning the reasons behind the verdicts. He wrote the famous book: al-Mustamsik bi-habl Āl al-Rasūl. Unfortunately this book is not in existence today. Al-Iskāfī is Muhamamd bin Ahmad bin al-Junayd who lived after Abī ‛Aqīl. He wrote jurisprudential books, for example Tahthīb al-Shī‛ah li-ahkām al-Sharī‛ah and al-Ahmadī fī al-Fiqh al-Muhammadī. Similarly, these two books do not exist anymore.
  3. The school of Baghdād: This is also called the school of Shaykh al-Mufīd. This school tried to find a common ground between the schools of traditions and intellectual deductions. The reason behind this might be Shaykh al-Mufīd, who was a student of Ibn al-Junayd and Ja‛far bin Muhammad bin Qūlūway who was from Qum and a member of the Qum school of thought. Shaykh al-Mufīd wrote many books, such as al-Maqna‛ah which was commented upon by Shaykh al-Tūsī in his book Tahthīb al-Ahkām.

The Third Stage

This stage started at the era of Shaykh al-Tūsī and is the prevalent one today. In this stage the jurisprudential books changed from imitating the traditions in form and language to writing with different terminology and mentioning different situations that did not occur at the time of the revelation of the Quran. All of this occurred with accepting intellectual deduction perfected by traditions and the acceptance of intellectual principles. The book al-Mabsūt by Shaykh al-Tūsī serves to ascertain the conclusion that we already reached about this stage.
Other important advancements that have been made during this stage:

  1. The sections of jurisprudence have become more specialized.
  2. More subjects were introduced in accordance with needs of the time.
  3. Intellectual deductions have been made stronger and their proofs have become clearer.
  4. The relationship between jurisprudential rulings and jurisprudential principles become clearer.
  5. Putting more effort into investigating the chains of narration.
  6. Disregarding some of the ancient texts which do not have relevance to the needs of today’s world and writing books with today’s world’s needs.

Sources of Religious Verdicts

1.The Book

What is meant by the book is the Qurān which was sent down by Allah to Prophet Muhammad (s).
Our belief is that the Qurān that is in our hands today, its meaning and words has not been altered in any possible way.

وَمَا كَانَ هَـذَا الْقُرْآنُ أَن يُفْتَرَى مِن دُونِ اللّهِ وَلَـكِن تَصْدِيقَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَتَفْصِيلَ الْكِتَابِ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ مِن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that came before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book- wherein there is no doubt – from the Lord of the worlds.”[10]

It is a holy book and all of the Muslims agree that it was divinely inspired and that its content is entirely correct. It is the primary resource of Islam and it is an eternal authority and reference for mankind until the Day of Judgment. It says that Allah’s religion is Islam and that the Muslims must always follow the Qurān. It is also a universal legislative reference for all of mankind.

The Authority of the Book

It is unanimous amongst Muslims that the Qurān is an authority for Muslims. The proof behind this is twofold:
1. Certainty that it was sent to the Prophet (s): This was established by multiple and successive accounts passed down by Muslims from one generation to the next.

  1. The Qurān being sent by Allah: The miraculous nature of the Qurān in regards to both the language and the content is a proof of its composer. Moreover, no one could produce anything like the Qurān or even a single verse, in spite of the challenge posed in the Qurān. Allah says:

تَنزِيلُ الْكِتَابِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ مِن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“(This is) the Revelation of the Book in which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the Worlds.”[11]

Jurisprudential Verses in Quran

There are around 500 verses in the Qurān that deal with religious rulings. These verses are a part of the sources for obtaining religious verdicts and are called: ayyāt al-ahkām.

2. Traditions (Sunnah)

The Arabic term sunnah literally means a way of acting, but figuratively it means: the words, actions and affirmations of one of the ma’sumeen Infallibles. In order to understand this definition completely we must understand a few terms:

  • Infallible: anyone who’s infallibility is established. The Infallibles are the Prophet (s) and the twelve Imāms from the Ahl al-Bayt (a).
  • The sayings of an infallible: Whatever the infallible says that has anything to do with religious rules.
  • The actions of an infallible: Whatever action an infallible takes.
  • The affirmations of an infallible: The occurrences that happen in the presence of an infallible to which the infallible does not oppose.

The Authority of Traditions

Muslims agree unanimously that the words, actions and affirmations of the Prophet (s) are considered an authority for all Muslims. Allah says:

وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا

“So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you.[12]

The words, actions and affirmations of the Imāms of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) are only considered an authority only if their infallibility and their place in the line of successors to the Prophet is proved. There are numerous proofs of their infallibility in key resource books about Imāmate and theology. Please refer to them.

3. Consensus

The Arabic term for consensus is ijmā‛ which literally means unanimity.

Shiites view consensus as a tool to unearth an Infallible’s verdict. Unlike the other jurisprudential sects, Shiites do not regard consensus as an independent proof as it is the case with the Qurān, the traditions and logic.

Whenever a consensus shows us what the Infallible’s verdict is, it has authority. Otherwise, it does not have authority.

The question arises: Why do the Shia include consensus as one of the sources of religious verdicts when it is not considered an independent proof?

Shaykh al-Ansārī answered this question in the following way: Consensus being a source for religious verdicts is a not an accurate statement. True Consensus is a tool to establish the truth, and in this case, both the means and the truth are considered a proof.
How does Consensus help determine the verdict of an infallible?

There is no single answer. Attempts to find an answer to this question started at the time of Shaykh al-Tūsī and continue to this day. The answers fall under two categories:

  1. Internal consensus: A consensus of mujtahids who lived in a period of time in which one of the Infallible was present. He was part of the consensus but nobody knew him personally. Therefore, this kind of a consensus is an authority. How do we know that the infallible was amongst them? This answer to that is to be found in the books of the principles of jurisprudence.
  2. Linguistic consensus: This consensus informs us, in an intellectual way, that the infallible agreed with the ruling but was not part of the consensus. His duty is to prevent all of the scholars from making an incorrect consensus. More answers are found in the books of the principles of jurisprudence.

4. Intellect

What is meant by the intellect here is anything that man’s intellect can understand and a religious ruling can be derived from.[13]

An example is when Allah makes obligatory an action through a Quranic verse or reliable tradition, but one must perform another action to be able to perform this obligatory action and there is not any verse or tradition about this action. Man’s intellect understands the relationship between an obligatory action and its precepts becoming obligatory. This leads to certainty about the action being obligatory.

An example of this is that Allah made the pilgrimage obligatory on anyone who has financial ability. This is found in both the Qurān and traditions. But, Allah did not mention that the travel from one’s hometown to Mecca is obligatory, even though it is a necessary precept to performing the pilgrimage.

Man’s intellect understands the relationship between performing the pilgrimage and having to travel. It is possible to say that the travel becomes obligatory by the mukallaf having certainty, like some have said. having certainty, like some have said.

The Authority of Intellect

It is self-evident that intellect itself is an authority; it does not need a proof. The reason for this is that intellect is a foundational proof for Islamic beliefs.
When Intellect is viewed as a fundamental proof for Islamic beliefs it becomes easy to reach the conclusion that it is an authority for religious rulings as well. The reason for this is that beliefs are more important than rules; they are the roots of religion.



[1] Al-Sharīf al-Murtada, Tanzīh al-Anbiyā’, page 212

[2] Bāqir Sharīf al-Qurayshī, Tuhfaāt min Sīrat A’imah Ahl al-Bayt (a), page 12

[3] Asad Haydar, Al-Imām al-Sādiq wa al-Madhāhib al-Arba‛h, volume 1, page 175

[4] Muhammad bin Ya‛qūb al-Kulaynī – al-Kāfī, Muhammad bin ‛Alī bin al-Hussayn al-Sadūq – Man Lā yahduruhu al-Faqīh, Muhammad bin al-Hassan al-Tūsī – al-Tahdhīb and al-Istibsār.

[5] Al-Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, under al-Washā’

[6] Shaykh al-Tūsī, Rijāl al-Kashī, under Abī Basīr Layth al-Murādī

[7] Al-Hurr al-‛Āmilī, Wasā’il al-Shī‛ah, the 6th chapter of the qualities of a judge, tradition 51

[8] Al-Hurr al-‛Āmulī, Wasā’il al-Shī‛ah, the 11th chapter of the qualities of a judge, tradition 33

[9] Al-Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, under Abān

[10] Yūnus: 37

[11] Sajdah: 2

[12] Hashr: 7

[13] Muhammad Bāqir al-Sadr, Halaqah 2, al-Dalīl al-‛Aqlī

The selection taken from the “The Basics of Islamic Jurisprudence” by Hassan Al-Rida’i.

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