Revision checklist: Nur al-Anwar

Nur al-Anwar is an advanced level book on usul fiqh. Contrary to what some might assume, it is not restricted to fiqh as is understood in the modern sense. Rather, within it are principles required to understand the shariah in general. Hence, Nur al-Anwar contains Usul QuranUsul Hadith and Usul Aqa’id – in short, it may be more apt to consider it Usul Shariah.

This note contains key question which if one answers should summarise that which is found in Nur al-Anwar bar few.

The relationship between Usul Shashi and Nur al-Anwar is similar to that of Quduri and Hidayah respectively. It can be used by Usul Shashi student but they do not need to justify their answer rather they can suffice on presenting examples to illustrate the concepts. Also, this list may be invaluable for Usul Shashi students as a road-map so that may glean what is expected later.

Note: The Ijma and Qiyas section still needs to included which, if Allah Almighty wills, will be done before the end of the academic year.


(1) Justify that there are four sources of evidence in the shariah. Define them all. 

textual analysis – Kitab

(2) Define and differentiate between khas, ammushtarak, mu’awwal and takhsis.

(3) Justify the ruling of khas.

(4) Outline and justify the rulings of ‘am.

(5) Define amr and nahi. Justify that it is a statement (See article)

(6) Amr is for wujub by default. Justify. (Resource 1)

(7) Amr never demands repetition. Justify.

(8) Justify that qada is proven through ada without the need for a separate evidence. Include the definitions of ada and qada.

(9) Outline the types of ada and qada with their respective examples and rulings.

(10) Highlight the relationship between amr and nahi with good and evil respectively. Illustrate with examples.

(11) Outline the impact of ability (qudrat) in the requirement of fulfilling an amr.

(12) When must an amr be fulfilled? Outline with examples with a particular reference to the requirement of intention. Justify where necessary.

(13) Who does the amr address? Clarify and justify.

(14) Identify techniques with which to recognise ‘am (عام). Include example to demonstrate it use.

(15) Define and differentiate between zahirnassmufassar, muhkamkhafimushkilmujmal and mutashabih. State their respective rulings especially if they are conflicted.

(16) Define and differentiate between haqiqatmajazsarih and kinayah along with their respective ruling.

(17) Majaz, like haqiqat, can be khas or ‘am (عام). Justify.

(18) By default haqiqat will be given priority over majaz and they will never be combined. Justify.

(19) Outline the valid methods of forming majaz.

(20) Outline, with examples, cases where majaz takes priority over haqiqat.

(21) Define and differentiate between ibaratun nassisharatun nassdalalatun nass and iqtidaun nass along with their respective ruling.

(22) Outline eight methods of interpretation which the Ahnaf reject despite being recognised by some of the other school.

(23) Outline the types of ‘azimat and rukhsat with examples along with their respective rulings.

(24) Differentiate between illat, sabab and shart. Outline techniques to identify sabab and demonstrate it in ibadatmu’amalat and ‘uqubat.

source analysis – Sunnah

(25) Define and state the ruling of mutawatirmashhur and khabr wahid. Prove that khabr wahid is hujjat (valid evidence).

(26) Outline, with particular reference to mukhalafat thiqat and jahalat, conditions which lead to the demotion of a narrator in favour for another.

(27) Outline the minimum and aspirational (kamil) qualities required of a narrator.

(28) Outline the rulings if there are gaps (inqita’) within the reporting either as a result of ommission (irsal), defective narration (‘illal) or narrator.

(29) State the minimum criteria required of a source (sanad) dependant on the impact it has on the rights of others.

(30) Rank reports based on the quality of source and mode of reporting

(31) Outline the methodology to reconcile between conflicting reports

(32) The action of sahabah is evidence. Justify.

ijma’ –

To be included


To be included


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
19 Ramadhan 1438
14 June 2017

Nukhbah #1: Links

Hafid Ibn Hajar Asqalani (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) writes in Nukhbat al-Fikr:

الْخَبَرُ إِمَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُ: طُرُقٌ بِلَا عَدَدٍ مُعَيَّنٍ ، أَوْ مَعَ حَصْرِ بِمَا فَوْقَ الِاثْنَيْنِ، أَوْ بِهِمَا، أَوْ بِوَاحِدٍ. فَالْأَوَّلُ: الْمُتَوَاتِرُ: الْمُفِيدُ لِلْعِلْمِ الْيَقِينِيِّ بِشُرُوطِهِ. وَالثَّانِي: الْمَشْهُورُ، وَهُوَ الْمُسْتَفِيضُ عَلَى رَأْيٍ. وَالثَّالِثُ: الْعَزِيزُ ، وَلَيْسَ شَرْطًا لِلصَّحِيحِ خِلَافًا لِمَنْ زَعَمَهُ. وَالرَّابِعُ: الْغَرِيبُ.

وَكُلُّهَا – سِوَى الْأَوَّلِ – آحَادٌ. وَفِيهَا الْمَقْبُولُ وَالْمَرْدُودُ؛ لِتَوَقُّفِ الِاسْتِدْلَالِ بِهَا عَلَى الْبَحْثِ عَنْ أَحْوَالِ رُوَاتِهَا دُونَ الْأَوَّلِ. وَقَدْ يَقَعُ فِيهَا مَا يُفِيدُ الْعِلْمَ النَّظَرِيَّ بِالْقَرَائِنِ عَلَى الْمُخْتَارِ.

ثُمَّ الْغَرَابَةُ: إِمَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ فِي أَصْلِ السَّنَدِ ، أَوْ لَا. فَالْأَوَّلُ: الْفَرْدُ الْمُطْلَقُ. وَالثَّانِي: الْفَرْدُ النِّسْبِيُّ، وَيَقِلُّ إِطْلَاقُ الْفَرْدِيَّةِ عَلَيْهِ.

So I say: a khabr either it will have an (1) unlimited number of sources or (2) a limited which is (a) more than two, (b) two or (c) one. The first is mutawatir with its criteria1 which results in necessary knowledge. The second is Mashhur2 and it is also known as mustafidh according to an opinion. The third is Aziz and this is not a requisite for sahih as opposed what some have assumed. The fourth is gharib. All of them other than the first3 is ahad.

[Ahad] may be maqbul or mardud. [This is] due to [the ahad being] evidence which is dependent upon the analyses of the state of the narrators as opposed to the first.

Thereafter, the gharabat will either be in the origin of the sanad or not; the first is fard mutlaq and the second is fard nisabi which is rarely refered to simply as fard.


1. See ‘The introduction to Mutawatir‘ for the criteria. Also, read The types of mutawatir and Where does tawatur start? for more details.
2. This the definition according to the Shawafi. The Ahnaf consider Mashhur to be sanad which starts of ahad but reaches the level of tawatur by no later than the third generation.
3. Mutawatir



  • Necessary knowledge (ilm daruri or ilm yaqini) is knowledge which is self evident (requires no evidence) and understandable to any average person who hears. This is in contrast to evidentiary or convincing knowledge (ilm iktisabi or ilm nazari) which requires evidence to know and a level of expertise to understand (cf Nuzhat al-Nazar lil Asqalani).

The different meanings of Amr

Amr can possibly refer to one of sixteen possible meanings. The default meaning of amr is for wujub.

By S. Zaman  – 23 Safar 1438 | 22 November 2016

Amr is a statement of a speaker to another from an authoritative position saying ‘إفعل’ (to do something).

By default amr is for wujub meaning the command in the statement must be followed. Other meanings may be inferred but only if you can provide justification.

In total, Amr can possibly refer to one of the following sixteen possible meanings.

Use Description Example
الوجوب To compel أَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ (2:43)
الاباحة To show the allowance of something وَإِذَا حَلَلْتُمْ فَاصْطَادُوا (5:2)
الندب To give preference فَكَاتِبُوهُمْ إِنْ عَلِمْتُمْ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا (24:33)
التهديد To address one in anger اعْمَلُوا مَا شِئْتُمْ (41:41)
التعجيز To make another helpless فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ (2:23)
الارشاد To give a suggestion (i.e: try it) وَأَشْهِدُوا ذَوَيْ عَدْلٍ مِنْكُمْ (65:2)
الارشاد To mock كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ (2: 65)
الامتنان To show your favour upon another كُلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ (6:142)
الاكرام To show respect ادْخُلُوهَا بِسَلَامٍ آمِنِينَ (15:46)
الاهانة To insult …ذُقْ
التسوية To show indifference اصْلَوْهَا فَاصْبِرُوا أَوْ لَا تَصْبِرُوا سَوَاءٌ (52:16)
الدعاء To make a request اللهم اغفرلي
التمني To make a wish وَنَادَوْا يَا مَالِكُ لِيَقْضِ عَلَيْنَا رَبُّكَ (43:77)
الاحتقار To show disrespect and a low regard أَلْقُوا مَا أَنْتُمْ مُلْقُونَ (26:43)
التكوين To make something happen كُنْ فَيَكُونُ (2:117)
التاديب To educate كل مما يليك

Amr is a statement

By default without added context, can any mere action prove compulsion and be construed as an amr (imperative)? The answer according to the Ahnaf is ‘No’ as an amr is a statement and not an action.

By Alm. S A Rahman

فال العلامة أبو البركات في كتابه المنار: منه (اي من الخاص) الأمر و هو قول القائل لغيره علي سبيل الإستعلاء إفعل. و يختص مراده بصيغة لازمة حتي لا يكون الفعل موجبا خلافا لبعض أصحاب الشافعي رحمه الله تعالي للمنع عن الوصال و خلع النعال. و الوجوب أستفيد بقوله عليه السلام صلو كما رأيتموني أصلي لا بالفعل و سمي الفعل به لأنه سببه اهـ

Amr is a statement said to someone other than themselves from an authoritative position using imperative words. Amr is a type of khas and it is specific with a statement or word. Hence, an action by it mere act will not be considered an amr (imperative) nor wajib.

The Ahnaf maintain that amr (imperative) are words; actions by default do not infer an imperative or compulsion.

The prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) used to fast a number of days without breaking the fast in between. Upon seeing this, the sahabah also began fasting without a break. The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) told the sahabah to stop fasting in this manner as they did not have the same strength Allah Almighty had given him.

In another instance, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) was praying and whilst in salah, he took off his shoes. The sahabah also took off their shoes in turn. Upon finishing, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) asked the sahabah why they had taken their shoes off during salah. They replied, ‘We saw you take it off so we took it off’. The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Jibra’il (peace be upon him) informed me that on it there was impurity’.

If actions were imperative, in both instances it would have been compulsory for the sahabah to do as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did. However, this was not the case as the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) did not expect the sahabah to do these actions as a matter of compulsion without his express direction.

In contrast, some argue that an imperative can be inferred through an actions as well as words. They use the occasion of the battle of Khandaq. The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) missed his Zuhr, Asr and Maghrib salah due to the battle and so he prayed the missed salahs together at Isha consecutively. The sahabah also did the same thing. Some say that this is evidence that amr can be through action as the sahabah had to pray the same way after seeing the prayer of the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, this proof is incomplete. The prophet (peace be upon him) did pray the missed salahs as mentioned but he then turned and said ‘Pray as you see me pray’. So the sahabah were not compelled to pray by the mere fact that they saw the prophet (peace be upon him) pray rather it was because he commanded them to pray.

قال الله سبحانه و تعالي و ما امر فرعون برشيد

Alternatively, some argue the case that an amr (imperative) can be inferred through action by using the ayat (11:97), ‘The amr of the Pharaoh was not rashid (prudent)’. The word ‘rashid’ is used in Arabic to describe an action whilst ‘sadid’ is used to describe a statement. Hence, here the amr refers to the action of the Pharaoh and not his statement. Allm. Nasafi declares this argument to have moved beyond the matter being discussed. Here, Amr refers to action as a metaphor due to it being the cause for action. Whilst, the key discussion here is whether amr can be inferred through action literally and by default without the aid of further contextual evidences.


The Difference between Illat and Hikmat

On discussing the prohibition of interest, the difference between illat and hikmat is outlined. The principle is that the application of a law depends on the Illat and not on the Hikmat.


By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
The Historic Judgement on Interest para 119 – 131

119. The first assumption which takes zulm as the basic illat of the prohibition of riba is in fact based on confusing the Illat with the Hikmat of a prohibition. It is a well settled principle of Islamic jurisprudence that there is a big difference between the Illat and the Hikmat of a particular law. The Illat is the basic feature of a transaction without which the relevant law cannot be applied to it, whereas the Hikmat is the wisdom and the philosophy taken into account by the legislator while framing the law or the benefit intended to be drawn by its enforcement. The principle is that the application of a law depends on the Illat and not on the Hikmat. In other words, if the Illat (the basic feature of the transaction) is present in a particular situation while the Hikmat (the wisdom) is not visualized, the law will still be applicable. This principle is recognized in the secular laws also. Let us take a simple example. The law has made it compulsory for the vehicles running on the roads to stop when the red street light is on. The Illat of this law is the red light, while the Hikmat is to avoid the chances of accidents. Now, the law will be applicable whenever the red light is on; its application will not depend on whether or not there is an apprehension of an accident. Therefore, if the red light is on, every vehicle must stop, even though the roads of both sides have no other traffic at all. In this particular case, the basic wisdom (hikmat) of the law is not discernable, because there is no apprehension of any accident in any way. Still the law will be applicable in its full force, because the red light which was the real Illat of the law is present. To cite another example, the Holy Qur’an has prohibited liquor. The Illat of its prohibition is intoxication but the Hikmat of this prohibition has been mentioned by the Holy Qur’an in the following words:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ الله وَعَنِ الصَّلَاةِ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُنْتَهُونَ

The Satan definitely intends to inculcate enmity and hatred between you by means of liquor and gambling, and wants to prevent you from remembering Allah. So would you not desist? (5:91)

120. The philosophy of the prohibition of liquor and gambling given by the Holy Qur’an in this verse is that liquor inculcates enmity and hatred between people and it prevents them from remembering Allah. Can one say that he has been using liquor for a long time but it never resulted in having enmity with anyone, and therefore, the basic Illat of the prohibition being not present, he should be allowed to use liquor? Or can one reasonably argue that drinking wine has never prevented him from offering prayers at their due times, and therefore, the basic cause of prohibition mentioned by the Holy Qur’an being absent, the drinking should be held as permissible. Obviously, no one can accept these arguments because the enmity and hatred referred to by the Holy Qur’an in the above verse is not intended to be the Illat of the prohibition. It simply spells out some bad results which the liquor and gambling often produce. They have been mentioned as a Hikmat and the philosophy of the prohibition, but the prohibition itself does not depend on these results. It is in the same way that after prohibiting the transaction of riba, the Holy Qur’an has mentioned the Zulm as a Hikmat or a philosophy of the prohibition, but it does not mean that prohibition will not be applicable if the element of Zulm appears to be missing in a particular case. The Illat (the basic feature) on which the prohibition is based is the excess claimed over and above the principal in a transaction of loan, and as soon as this Illat is present, the prohibition will follow regardless of whether the philosophy of the law is or is not visible in a particular transaction.

121. Another point worth mentioning here is that the Illat of a law is always something determinable by hard and fast definition which leaves no room for a dispute as to whether the Illat is or is not available. Any relative term which is ambiguous in nature cannot be held to be the Illat of a particular law because its existence being susceptible to doubts and disputes, it would defeat the very purpose of the law. The Zulm (Injustice) is a relative and rather ambiguous term the exact definition of which is very difficult to ascertain. Every person may have his own view about what is or what is not Zulm. All the disputing political and economic systems of the world, in fact, claimed to abolish Zulm, but what was regarded as Zulm in one system has been held as justified in another. The communist theory of economy is of the firm view that the private property in itself is a Zulm, while the capitalist theory asserts that abolishing private property is the zulm. Such an ambiguous term is not competent to be the Illat of a particular law.

122. Mr. Khalid M. Ishaque, advocate, who appeared as a juris-consult in this case, adopted another approach. According to him, non-availability of a hard and fast definition of ‘zulm‘ or riba should be taken as a blessing from Allah, for it provides elasticity to the Muslims of every age to determine what is zulm in the given situations of their time. In his written statement the learned juris-consult has expressed himself in the following words:

a) Misdirected efforts towards definition-making ought to be discontinued. Absence of definition of riba in the Qur’an should be accepted as such and rather be looked upon as a mercy for mankind. The deliberate omission of a rigid definition would propel Muslims to come up with their own guiding and evolving principles of identifying zulm in space-time situations. Economic conditions are not static and nor are human situations.

b) A sound economic policy ought to include “all purposeful governmental action whose actual and professed primary objective is the improvement of the economic welfare of the whole population for which government is responsible, not of some segment of that population.” The Islamic concept of economy is not inimical or dissimilar to the above. As such, an Islamic approach should neither be insulated and detached from an economistic approach/program nor should it be in ignorance of the same as they need not be mutually exclusive.

Jurists should not close their mind to the possibility that both can be synergized to arrive at the most beneficial and fair outcome. Very typically, whenever Muslim jurists have not kept themselves abreast with or informed of contemporary disciplines (economics is a case in point), they have a tendency to become averse to it, treat it with suspicion, regard it as a hazard and simply label it as un-Islamic to avoid study of the same.

123. We paid due consideration to this approach, but with due respect to the learned juris-consult, this argument seems to overlook some fundamental points:

124. Firstly, the learned juris-consult has taken the deliberate omission of a rigid definition of riba (by the Holy Qur’an) as a mercy for mankind. This argument appears to presume that the Holy Qur’an normally gives definitions of the acts prohibited by it, but in the case of riba the Holy Qur’an deliberately omitted to give a rigid definition. The fact, however, is that the Holy Qur’an has hardly given a legal definition to any one of its prohibitions. No definition is given for khamr (liquor), nor forqimar (gambling) nor for zina (adultery or fornication) nor for theft, nor for robbery, nor for kufr. Similarly the Holy Qur’an did not define its imperatives like Salat, Sawm (fasting), Zakah, Hajj or Jihad. Should we, then, say that none of these concepts has a specific meaning and all these injunctions are therefore subject to ever-changing whims based on “space-time situations”? The Holy Qur’an, in fact, did not give legal definitions to these concepts because their meanings were too obvious to need an express definition. Some ancillary details of these concepts might have not been so clear and might have given rise to differences of opinion, but it does not mean that the basic concept of all these injunctions has been floated in void or vacuum, having no specific sense at all.

125. Secondly, the learned juris-consult has succinctly outlined the basic features of a sound economic policy in the italicized portion of the above extract. One can hardly question its soundness. Almost all the economic systems claim to strive for the same objectives, but the question is how to achieve them? It is the answer to this very question that has divided different economic systems into conflicting rivals. The learned juris-consult suggests that “Islamic approach should not be insulated and detached from an economistic approach/program.” The suggestion seems to be substantially reasonable, but when this suggestion is given in the context of leaving the definition of riba unsettled and “evolving principles of identifying zulm in space-time situations” it apparently means that it is the pure economic approach which will play a decisive role in identifying zulm in a particular situation and in turn determining what is halal or haram in Shar’iah. Once it is taken for granted, the question is “which economic approach”? There are numerous theories, conflicting with each other, but each one of them pretending to race towards the sound economic policy of “improving the economic welfare of the whole population.” The basic economic goals of a welfare economy are recognized by almost everyone thinking on economic subjects. However, it is the strategy for translating these objectives into reality that makes a big difference. The Islamic strategy to achieve these goals is neither too narrow to accommodate the ever-changing needs of the humanity or too biased to interact with the modern thought, nor is it too dependent on the modern theories to make its own way towards these goals. Islam has no problem in welcoming any constructive suggestion from whatever quarter it may have come, but at the same time it has its own principles on which no compromise is possible, because they are based on divine guidance, the most distinct feature of the Islamic economy that draws the line of difference between the Islamic and secular economies – and the prohibition of riba is one of those basic principles. To leave this principle at the mercy of the secular economic policies is, therefore, like placing the cart before the horse.

126. Thirdly, abolishing zulm (injustice) is not the hikmat or purpose of the prohibition of riba alone. It is the reson’ detre of most of the Islamic injunctions relating to business and trade. But whenever the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah gave a specific command or prohibition in these areas, they did not rely on the rational assessment of the people, nor did they leave these transactions at the mercy of human reason to decide whether or not they have an element of Zulm. If the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah intended to entrust such a decision to the human intellect alone, they would have not revealed such a long list of commands and prohibitions; they would have rather issued one single command that all people must avoid zulm in all their transactions. But the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah were cognizant of the fact that human reason, despite its wide capabilities, cannot claim to have unlimited power to reach the truth. After all, it has some limits beyond which it either cannot properly work or may fall prey to errors. There are many areas of human life where “reason” is often confused with “desires” and where unhealthy instincts, under the garb of rational arguments, misguide the humanity and demonstrate the unjust attitudes in the disguised form of justice. It is these areas where human reason needs the guidance of divine revelation, and it is the divine revelation which finally decides as to which human attitude actually falls within the limits of “zulm” or injustice, even though it appears to be just in the eyes of some secular rationalists, and it is in such issues that the divine revelations come with a specific command that prevails upon the rational arguments advanced by differing opinions. That is exactly what happened in the case of riba. The secular rationalists were fully content with their belief that riba transactions practiced by them were quite justified, because the income they earn through interest is very similar to the profit they earn through sales. That is why they confronted the prohibition of riba by their rational argument quoted by the Holy Qur’an in the following words:

إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا

Sale is nothing but similar to riba. (2:275)

127. They intended that if a profit claimed in a transaction of sale is just and lawful, there is no reason why an interest claimed in a transaction of loan is held to be unjust and unlawful. In answer to this argument of theirs, the Holy Qur’an could have mentioned the difference between interest and profit in pure logical manner, and could have explained how the profit in a sale is justified while the interest is not. The Holy Qur’an could have also spelled out the evil consequences of riba on the economy. But this line of argument was intentionally avoided, and the brief and simple answer given by the Holy Qur’an was:

وَأَحَلَّ الله الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا

Allah has allowed the sale and has prohibited interest. (2:275)

128. The hint given in this verse is that the question whether these transactions have an element of injustice is not left to be decided by human reason alone, because the reason of different individuals may come up with different answers and no absolute conclusion of universal application may be arrived at on the basis of pure rational arguments. The correct principle, therefore, is that once a particular transaction is held by Allah to be haram, there is no room for disputing it on the basis of pure rational argumentation because Allah’s knowledge and wisdom encompasses all those points which are not accessible to ordinary reason. If the human reason was fully competent to reach the correct decision unanimously in each and every issue, no divine revelation would be called for. There is a wide area of human conduct in which the Creator did not give a specific command. It is this area where human reason can well play its role, but it should not be burdened to play the role of a rival to the express divine injunctions.

129. The Qur’anic verse referring to zulm (Injustice) in the context of riba should be studied in this perspective. The exact words of the verse are:

وَإِن تُبْتُمْ فَلَكُمْ رُءُوسُ أَمْوَالِكُمْ لَا تَظْلِمُونَ وَلَا تُظْلَمُونَ

And if you repent (from claiming riba), then you are entitled to get your principal back. Neither you wrong nor be wronged. (2:279)

130. Before referring to zulm, the Qur’anic verse has laid down the precise principle that no one can be deemed to have repented from the practice of riba unless he has withdrawn from claiming any additional amount over and above the principal, but on the other hand he is fully entitled to get back his principal, and his debtor is bound to pay him the full amount of loan. If the debtor will not pay the principal, he will be committing injustice against the creditor, and if the creditor will claim something more than the principal, he will be committing injustice to the debtor.

131. Thus the Holy Qur’an did not leave it to the assessment of the parties to decide what is injustice and what is not. Instead, the Holy Book itself has precisely decided what is injustice for each one of the two parties in a transaction of loan. Therefore, the notion that the permissibility of different transactions of interest should be judged on the basis of human assessment is tantamount to defeating the very purpose of the revelation and is not, therefore, acceptable.

Avoid some common mistakes in evaluating hadith


The following is a summary of some remedial principles mentioned by Mufti Taqi Usmani. This is in order to avoid the common mistakes in evaluating hadith and making unwarranted objections that one abandons strong evidences.

(1) A hadith is evaluated on the reliability of the sanad and validity of the matn not merely based on the collection it belongs.

(2) The appraisal of the hadith is a tedious task and solely the purview of those who possess the requisite criteria and the rank of ijtihad in the field.

(3) When such experts differ in their appraisal, prioritise the cautious expert over the lenient and the fair over the harsh. If both the experts are fair and cautious one should judge the rationale if they are qualified to do so or else they should choose the one they trust.

(4) Know that the opinion of one expert is not evidence against another expert.

(5) Furthermore, note that the experts judge with the quality of the sources at hand, hence, the loss of information at a later stage does not negate the classification of the earlier experts.

(6) The declaration of sahih or da’if signifies that it fulfils or lacks the set criteria for acceptance; it is highly likely that it reflects the reality but not certainly so. One must act upon the likelihood unless strong evidence indicates to the contrary.

(7) The ahnaf amongst others consider the practice of the sahabah and tabi’in as significant evidence to strengthen a seemingly weak hadith similar to the existence of multiple sanads which in effect reclassifies it to hasan li ghayrihi.

(8) If two reliable ahadith collide, the ahnaf will prioritise the content which conforms to the Quran or the general principles of Shari’ah irrespective if the other sanad is relatively stronger as according to them effect in superior to quantity once reliability is established.

For more details, read Eight Remedial principles in evaluating hadith

Sadr Shariah – The author of Nuqayah, Sharh Wiqayah and Tawdih

By Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
2 Jumada I 1437 | 12 February 2016

He is the great scholar faqih, and master of usul, Sadr al-Shariah (al-asghar) Ubayd Allah b. Mas’ud b. Taj al-Shariah Mahmud b. Sadr al-Shariah al-Akbar al-Mahbubi al-Bukhari (d. 747). When Sadr al-Shariah is said without any prefix it refers to him. Amongst others, he acquired knowledge from his grandfather, the great scholar and the author of the monumental fiqh text Wiqayah,  Taj al-Shariah Mahmud.

His expertise expanded to many fields including Hadith, Fiqh, Usul, Aqa’id, logic, grammar, rhetoric and poetry. He researched assiduously and wrote meticulously. His knowledge was vast and incisive through which he was able to summarise many important and difficult topics succinctly. Allm. Abd al-Hayy Lacknawi writes that all the works of Sadr al-Shariah are accepted by the reliable scholars amongst the fuqaha.

His books Nuqayah, Sharh Wiqayah, and Tanqih wa Tawdhih are considered classics which summarises Hanafi fiqh and usul fiqh.

For further detail, read Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami’s article, ‘Sadr al-Shariah (al-Asghar) – d. 747′. Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 2. Available at

How to study Usul al-Fiqh

By Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
Extracted from Mastering Usul Fiqh in Islamic Studies Bulletin – 9 Shawwal 1434

To master usul for a person with a Hanafi background, one must first have a strong foundation in fiqh. Study Usul al-Shashi to get an in-depth understanding of the central masa’il covered in usul fiqh as well as an introduction to the core principles. Thereafter, read Manar al-Anwar along with Nur al-Anwar to understand the principles in detail along with the evidence which support and justify these rules as well as answers objections posited by the mutakillimin. This will make it easy to decipher the usul of Bazdawi, Sarakhsi, Jassas and make Talwih accessible. Now that a solid foundation in the Hanafi approach is developed, one should consolidate the learning with the reading of Husami with special attention on the Qiyas section; this will cover the topics in Taqwim al-Adillah, Tasis al-Nazar and Usul Karkhi. This should suffice for one to understand the Hanafi evidence and usul.

To advance one should study Tawdih with Talwih. This will summarise the key mutakallimin works such as Ihkam and Muntaha al-Sul along with what was covered in Manar and Husami in addition to gaining the Ash’ari insight via Talwih. This should give one scope to understand most of the books of the other Mazahib. Follow up with the study of Musallam al-Thubut with Fawatih al-Rahmut; this will suffice to understand the works of the later works of the muta’akhkhirin including Jam’ al-Jawami’ and Tahrir.

For further detail, read Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami’s article, ‘Mastering Usul Fiqh’. Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 3. Available at

Where does tawatur start?

By Shaykh al-Hadith Ml. Muhammad Yunus Jawnpuri
Yawaqit al-Ghaliyah v.1 pp.40
Translated by Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami – 9 Rabi II 1437 | 20 Jan 2016

For tawatur, it is a condition in every stage that group be such that collusion upon a lie be normally impossible. All usul experts state this point.

قال ابن الهمام في التحرير خبر جماعة يفيد العلم. لا بالقرائن المنفصلة. بخلاف ما يلزم نفسه أو المخبَر عنه. و عنه يتفاوت عدده. و شروط المتواتر تعدد النقلة بحيث يمنع التواطؤ عادة علي الكذب و الاستناد إلي الحسّ و لا يشترط في كل واحد و إستواء الطرفين و الوسط في ذلك أي التعدد و الإستناد لأن أهل كل طبقة لهم حكم أنفسهم فيشترط كل منهما فيهم. انتهي بزيادة من التقرير و التحبير لابن أمير الحاج – ص 233 ج 2

Muhaqqiq Ibn Humam has declared the middle and the two sides being equal a condition. This mentioned by all the usul experts. The meaning of the two end (tarafayn) is [as follows]. The beginning side (ibtida’) refers to where the sanad starts. The ending side (intiha’) refers to where the sanad ends. The ending side is the sahabi. Hence, all the examples of mutawatir which the ulama have wrote, in every one there is a large group of sahabah (may Allah almighty be pleased with him). Muhaqqiq Ibn Humam writes on,

و الحنفية قالوا الخبر متواتر و آحاد و مشهور وهو ما كان آحاد الأصل متواترا في القرن الثاني و الثالث اهـ

This text states the very same thing. The reason being, from the three generation (qurun thalathah), the first generation (qarn) is that of the sahabah, the second qarn is that of the tabi’in and the third qarn is that of the tab’ tabi’in. Despite a hadith being mutawatir in the second qarn it is not considered mutawatir because there was no tawatur in the first qarn. Consequently, for tawatur it is a conditional that in the generation of the sahabah, there also be a large group.

قال صاحب مسلم الثبوت و عندما عامة الحنفية ما ليس بمتواتر آحاد و مشهور اهـ و قال صاحب فواتح الرحموت فالقسمة عندهم مثلثة وجه الحصر أن الخبر إن رواه جماعة لا يتوهم تواطؤهم علي الكذب ثمّ وثمّ فمتواتر و إلا فإن روي عن صحابي جماعة لا يتوهم تواطؤهم ثمّ و ثمّ و تلقّته الامة بالقبول فمشهور اهـ

This text is clear, in the generation of the sahabah, a [large] group is a condition.

و قال ابن عابدين في حاشية الدر المختار (ص 177 ج1) المشهور في أصول الفقه ما يكون من الآحاد في العصر الأول اي عصر الصحابة ثم ينقله في العصر الثاني و ما بعده قوم  لا يتوهم تواطؤهم علي الكذب


[Shaykh al-Hadith] Muhammad Yunus [Jawnpuri]
(may Allah almighty increase his blessing)
قد عرضته علي شيخنا (مولانا محمد زكريا الكاندلوي نور الله مرقده) فأقره
Friday, 10 Jumada II 1390

Types of mutawatir

Tawatur can be achieved in four ways – tawatur fil isnad, tabaqat, ta’amul and qadr mushtarak. All of them lead to certainty.


By Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
8 Rabi II 1437 | 19 January 2016

The author of Usul al-Shashi writes,

Mutawatir is that which is transferred from one group to [another] group such that there is no possibility of collusion upon a lie due to them being so many. [Furthermore,] it should have reached you in the same way. Examples of it is the reporting of the Quran, numbers of raka’ats and amount fixed for zakat. Its ruling is that it results in certainty (ilm qat’i) and to deny it is kufr.

Tawatur can be achieved in four ways – tawatur fil isnad, tabaqat, ta’amul and qadr mushtarak. All of them have the same ruling.

Tawatur fil Isnad

The message which is narrated with so many sanads in every generation from the time of the Prophet to now such that it is impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie in any given generation.

Example: من كذب علي متعمدا فليتبوء مقعده من النار

Tawatur fi al-tabaqat

The message for which there are no huge collection of identifiable sanads but in every generation there are so many narrators stating it from the time of the Prophet to now that it is impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie in any given generation.

Example: The Quran

Tawatur fi al-ta’amul

The message for which there are no huge collection of identifiable sanads or statements but in every generation there are so many people acting upon it from the time of the Prophet to now that it is impossible upon to have colluded upon a lie in any given generation.

Example: The five times prayer

Tawatur fi al-Qadr al-Mushtarak

The message for which there are no instances which are reported or acted to the level of tawatur, however, when multiple corroborative instances are combined it becomes such that is was impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie in any given generation.

Example: The miracles of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

An introduction to mutawatir


Allamah Abu Barakat al-Nasafi writes in Manar:

[Mutawatir] is the message which is narrated by a group whose number [is so high that it] cannot be accounted and it is [normally] impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie. This criterion extends [to every point in the chain]. Hence, its end will be like its start, its start like its end and middle like it two sides. For example, the reporting of the Quran and the five salahs. [Mutawatir] results in knowing with certainty (yaqin) like seeing gives necessary knowledge.

Mulla Jiwan explains the text in his commentary, Nur al-Anwar:

[Mutawatir] is the message which is narrated by a group whose number [is so high that it] cannot be accounted and it is impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie.

[The reason for the impossibility] is due to sheer number, differed places and character. An exact number (minimum threshold) is not specified as [opposed to what] some have inferred such as seven, forty and seventy. Rather, so long as necessary knowledge is attained, it will signify tawatur.

This criterion extends [to every point in the chain]. Hence, its end will be like its start, its start like its end and middle like it two sides.

In other words, [the volume] will remain the same in every era from the start when the message arose to the end when it reached the reporter. The start is the era when the message occurred. The end is the era of every reporter as they would have perceived it as the end. If it was not like that at the start, it will be ahad al-asl and called ‘mashhur’ so long as it spreads in the middle and the end [with the second or third generation]. If it did not spread like that in the middle or end [despite the fact that it had tawatur at the start], it is [considered] munqati’.

For example, the reporting of the Quran and the five salahs.

The examples are of mutawatir in general and not mutawatir [as found in the] sunnah. The reason being there is a dispute as to [whether] mutawatir in the sunnah exists. It is said, no [example] of it is found. Some said, ‘innamal a’malu bi al-niyyat’ and others said, ‘al-bayyinatu ala al-mudda’i wa al-yaminu ala man ankar’ [are examples of mutawatir].

[Mutawatir] results in knowing with certainty (yaqin) like seeing which gives necessary knowledge.

This is in contrast to what the mu’tazila say, ‘it provides convincing knowledge such that it gives weight to the truth but does not deliver certainty’. This is also in contrast to another group who say, ‘it provides evidentiary knowledge which arises from considering factors; [it does not deliver] necessary knowledge’. [Mutawatir leads to knowledge necessarily] because the existence of Makkah and Baghdad is clear and apparent [through mutawatir reports]; [it is free] from the need to prove it with evidence to remove doubt of its existence or the need to defend it through hypothetical constructs.


  • There is no specific threshold for tawatur. The numbers stated such as 5, 7, 10, 12, 40, 70 etcetera should be perceived more as a marker. It is a rule of thumb that a hadith which contain 10 or more separate sahabah is indicative of that hadith being mutawatir although not necessarily so.
  • The impossibility of collusion refers to the fact that it should be practically or generally (adatan) impossible. It does not refer to that which is theoretically (aqlan) impossible (cf Yawaqit al-Ghaliyah v. 1. p. 41).
  • The message must have been mutawatir in every era including the time of the sahabah (See Yawaqit al-Ghaliyah v. 1 p. 40).
  • The example of mutawatir in the sunan is من كذب علي متعمدا فليتبوأ مقعده من النار. The point mentioned by Mulla Jiwan addresses mutawatir in both text and sanad. If one considers mutawatir to have other forms such as through practice or amalgamation, there will many examples within the sunnah (cf types of mutawatir).
  • Necessary knowledge (ilm daruri or ilm yaqini) is knowledge which is self evident (requires no evidence) and understandable to any average person who hears. This is in contrast to evidentiary or convincing knowledge (ilm iktisabi or ilm nazari) which requires evidence to know and a level of expertise to understand (cf Nuzhat al-Nazar lil Asqalani).


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
8 Rabi II 1437
18 January 2016

The principle of blocking the means

Blocking the means (sadd al-zara’i) or closing the ‘floodgate’ is a legal principle used as a device to stop the future occurrence of sin.

By Allamah Zafar Ahmad Uthamani
Ahkam al-Qur’an v.1 pp.54-46 – Hakim al-Ummat Ml. Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Editor)
Translated by Ml. Zameelur Rahman in Deoband – 18 December 2011

The ummah have agreed that when an abomination is attached to a permissible or desirable action and it becomes a means to disobedience or innovation, even though that is not the intention and objective of the doer, it is obligatory to remove this disobedience whatever it may be. Thereafter, they differed:

Some of them said: This desirable act should be totally abandoned in order to block the means to disobedience and to sever the substance of innovation in the religion.

And some of them said: This abomination is removed, and a recognised desirable act is not abandoned for its sake.

The Hanafis, Malikis and Hanbalis have inclined to the first [view]. Their proof is in His (Exalted is He) statement: “O you who believe, do not say ra‘ina, but say unzurna,” (Qur’an 2:104), as Ibn Kathir said in his Tafsir:

Allah Almighty forbade His servants from resembling the disbelievers in word and deed, and that is because the Jews would keep in mind the allusion in the speech with the objective of degrading [the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace)] – may the curses of Allah be upon them. Thus, when they intended to say: “Listen to us,” they would say: “Ra‘ina” (observe us) with the hidden meaning of “stupidity” (ru‘unah). [This is] as He (Exalted is He) said: “Among the Jews there are some who distort the words against their contexts, and say, ‘We hear and disobey,’ and, ‘Hear. May you not be made to hear,’ and, ‘Ra‘ina,’ twisting their tongues and maligning the religion.” (Qur’an 4:46)

Al-Baydawi said:

“Twisting their tongues,” twisting and turning with [their tongues] the speech into what resembles an insult, since they used ra‘ina, which resembles what they would use to insult one another, in place of unzurna.

It is not hidden that the sanctity of the Sahabah (Allah Almighty’s pleasure be on them all) is far removed from them [ever] alluding as the Jews would allude, or twisting their tongues as they would twist [them], yet despite this, you see they were forbidden from this word. This is not but from the door of blocking the means to abomination, and severing resemblance with the disbelievers. This is an elementary principle, from which uncountable branches derive.

From this the meaning of “relative innovation” (al-bid‘ah al-idafiyya) which ‘Allamah al-Shatibi discussed in his book al-I‘tisam is understood, and we will quote here a beautiful passage from it. He said:

Often an original practice is lawful but it falls onto the pattern of an innovation through the door of means…The reason for the inclusion of innovation here is that all that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) performed continuously of optional prayers and which he displayed openly in congregations, they are Sunnah, so acting on optional activities which are not Sunnah in the way a Sunnah is practiced equates to removing the optional act from its place stipulated in the Shari‘ah. Then a consequence of this is the laypeople and the ignorant believe that it is a Sunnah. This is a great evil! Because believing what is not a Sunnah [to be a Sunnah], and acting upon it within the remit in which a Sunnah is practiced equates to changing the Shari‘ah, just as if it were believed that an obligation is not an obligation or that that which is not an obligation is an obligation, and then practice in accordance with this belief – For, this is ruinous! So, granted, the action is originally valid, but its extraction from its remits [stipulated in the Shari‘ah] in belief or practice equates to ruining the laws of the Shari‘ah.

From this the justification of the righteous Salaf in their intentional avoidance of Sunnahs becomes manifest – so that the ignorant person doesn’t believe that it is from the obligations, like the sacrifice (udhiyah) and other than that, as has preceded. This is why most of them also forbade tracing the relics [of pious people], as al-Tahawi, Ibn Waddah and others transmitted from Ma‘rur ibn Suwayd al-Asadi, he said: “I attended the [Hajj] season with the commander of the believers, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him). When we turned back to Medina, I went back with him. When he had prayed with us the Morning Prayer and recited therein alam tara kayfa fa‘ala (Sura 105) and li’ilafi Quraysh (Sura 106), he then saw people taking a path, so he said: ‘Where are these people going?’ They said: ‘They are going to a mosque here wherein the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed.’ He said: ‘Those before you were destroyed because of this! They traced the relics of their Prophets and adopted them as churches and monasteries. Whoever [unintentionally] catches the prayer in any of these mosques in which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed, then he should pray in them, otherwise he should not intentionally proceed to them.’”

Ibn Waddah said: I heard ‘Isa ibn Yunus – the Mufti of the people of Tartus – say:

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab ordered the cutting of the tree under which the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was pledged allegiance. He cut it because the people would go and pray under it, so he feared temptation for them.

Ibn Waddah said:

Malik ibn Anas and other jurists would dislike going to those relics of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with the exception of Quba’ alone.

Malik would dislike all innovations even if it was [done] in goodness. All of this is a means to not take as a Sunnah what is not a Sunnah, or to consider as part of the Shari‘ah what is not recognised. Malik would dislike going to the Bayt al-Maqdis for fear that that would be taken as a Sunnah, and he would dislike going to the graves of the martyrs and he disliked going to Quba’ for that very fear – despite the reports that have come on encouragement towards this, but since the ‘ulama feared the consequence of that, they avoided it.

Ibn Kinanah and Ashhab said: We heard Malik say when he came to [the grave of] Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas: “I wish my legs were paralysed and I did not do this!”

Sa‘id ibn Hassan said: I used to read [hadiths] to Ibn Nafi‘, and when I read the hadith of spending generously [on one’s family] on the night of ‘Ashura’, he said to me: “Burn it!” I said: “Why is that O Abu Sa‘d?” He said: “For fear that it will be taken as a Sunnah.”

Hence, these are permissible or desirable activities, but they disliked their performance for fear of innovation, because taking them as Sunnah by continuously practicing upon them with open display of them – which is the nature of Sunnah – and when it falls on the pattern of Sunnahs, they turn into innovations without doubt. (End of abbreviated quote from al-Shatibi)

I say: This is the position of our Hanafi Imams (Allah Almighty have mercy on him). It is according to this [principle,] al-Halabi said in Sharh al-Munyah under “The Prostration of Gratitude and what is Done after the Prayer”: “It is disliked because the ignorant believe it is Sunnah or obligatory, and every permissible act leading to this is disliked.” Al-Shami said in the “Undesirable Acts of Prayer” of Radd al-Muhtar (1:43): “When a ruling wavers between Sunnah and innovation, avoidance of Sunnah is given priority.” The same [passage] is found in the Funerals [section] of Fatawa ‘Alamgiriyya and in it there is the addition: “That which wavers between obligatory and innovation, it should be practiced with caution.” Al-Tibi and al-Sayrafi said in their marginalia to Mishkat al-Masabih under the hadith of Ibn Mas‘ud, “None of you should make any part of his prayer for the devil by believing that it is duty-bound on him to turn to his right, for indeed I have seen the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) many times having turned to his left,”: “[The principle] behind this is that one who persists on a recommended act and has resolve on it, and does not act on a concession, then the devil has afflicted him, so what about the one who persists on innovations or abominations?” These [quotations] are found in Majmu‘at al-Fatawa al-Laknawiyyah (2:295).

In brief, blocking the means and cutting off resemblance with the disbelievers is a wide door in the religion on which is premised uncountable branches and rulings; and the basis of all of this is what is contained in this noble verse of a clear indication to this.