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Module Four:

Advanced Usul al-fiqh & Maqasid al-Shariah


This subject will address Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) at an advanced level. The historic, social and religious factors in the development of Islamic legal schools will also be discussed. The four primary sources of law will be studied together with the supplementary sources used in the practice of ijtihad (independent legal deduction). The module’s focus on teaching these early texts will also demonstrate a truly Islamic usul al-fiqh that was practical and untainted by foreign philosophical traditions, as occurred with much of the later works of usul al-fiqh by the scholars of the tariqah al-mutakallimin. Shatibi’s al-Muwaffaqat was chosen for its importance and originality in the realm of maqasid al-shari’ah (higher objectives of the Shariah); and for it to be taught in a comprehensive fashion because it has been greatly misunderstood and abused in our day and age.

Primary Text

Primary Text:

  • Hanafi: Usul al-Sarakhsi
  • Shafi’i: al-Risalah of Shafi’i
  • Maqasid al-Shariah: al-Muwaffaqat of Shatibi

About the Text:

  • Kitab al-Risalah fi usul al-fiqh is the best known work of Shafi'i (d. 204 AH/820 CE), noted especially for its clear Islamic jurisprudence. This important work gives the fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence and its influence continues to the present day. The author established the principles by which the various legal doctrines could be synthesised into a coherent system.
  • Al-Muharrar fi usul al-fiqh by Sarakhsi deals with Islamic jurisprudence and the exercise of sound intellectual deduction (ra’y) in systematic reasoning and juristic preference. To write this work, al-Sarakhsi incorporated information from many different sources, including Abu’l-Hasan al-Karkhi, Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Shashi, al-Jassas, Shafi?i and major works from the other legal traditions.
  • Al-Muwafaqat fi usul al-Shari’ah deals with usul al-fiqh and maqasid al-Shari’ah. Shatibi’s work was novel in Islamic jurisprudence for it was for the first time that the objectives of Shariah were addressed comprehensively. It was first published in 1884 in Tunis, and since then it has been a source of inspiration, moderation and renewal in fiqh. The book, however, deals with much more than the maqa?id, and substantial research is needed to unravel its full contribution.

While it is true that early scholars like Juwayni, Ghazzali and Shatibi propounded a theory of the Shariah possessing maqasid or goals – such as the protection of religion, life, intellect, property and honour – the identification of such maqasid never meant that they would become sources of Shariah rulings. These scholars understood that the Shariah is only based on the Quran, Sunnah, ijma’ and qiyas. The attempt to establish the maqasid as a source of law in its own right is a means of destroying the Shariah of Islam. In order to exonerate Shatibi of such misuse, Shaykh Akram will endeavour to provide the extensive teaching of this book that is required to truly understand this sophisticated work of Shatibi.

About the Authors:

  • Abu ?Abdillah Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi‘i was born in Gaza (150 AH). His father died when he was two. His family roots were from Yemen. Among his teachers were Malik ibn Anas and Mu?ammad ibn al-?asan al-Shaybani. In Baghdad, he developed his first school of law (madhhab), influenced by the teachings of Abu Hanifah and Malik, and it is known as his “old school” (al-madhhab al-qadim).
    It was in Egypt that al-Shafi'i dictated his works to his students, and those sessions have been transmitted as his books. He developed the science of jurisprudence whereby he unified revealed sources – the Quran and hadith – with human reasoning. With this systematisation of the Shariah, he provided a legacy of unity for all Muslims and forestalled the development of independent, regionally-based legal systems. He died at the age of 54 on the 30th of Rajab in 204 AH (20 January 820 CE) in al-Fustat, Egypt, and he was buried in the vault of the Banu ‘Abd al-Hakam, near Mount al-Muqattam.
  • Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abi Sahl Abu Bakr al-Sarakhsi was an important jurist of the Hanafi School. He was traditionally known as Shams al-A'immah (the sun of the imams). Sarakhsi continued to teach and write in Marghinan until his death (483/1090). Sarakhsi was imprisoned due to his opinion on a juristic matter concerning a ruler; he criticized the king by questioning the validity of his marriage to a slave woman. He spent around fifteen years in prison. While he was imprisoned he wrote the Mabsut and some of his other most important works, whilst recalling many texts from memory. He is known for his remarkable memory and intelligence. Sarakhsi’s opinions on law have been widely cited and he has been thought of as a distinctive writer. His main works are the Usul al-fiqh, al-Mabsut, and the Sharh al-Siyar al-kabir. Sarkhasi was a strong advocate of the doctrine of istihsan, which he describes as abandonment of systematic reasoning of the scriptures in favour of a different opinion supported by stronger evidence and more accommodating of the population's needs. However, Imam Sarakhsi's istihsan is also bound by certain criteria and conditions which accompany reasoning of any kind.
  • Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Musa ibn Muhammad al-Shatibi al-Gharnati (790 AH/1388 CE) was an Andalusian Maliki legal scholar and reformer. He wrote on a variety of subjects, including usul al-fiqh, grammar, and poetry. He was critical of the fiqh of his age and disagreed with Maliki contemporaries on many points, including taxation and the significance of taqlid (following legal precedent). He emphasised the principle of Quranic supremacy as the ultimate source for making rules among Muslims, and he argued that the individual's interests and common good (maslahah) constitute the prime purposes of Islamic law.

Recommended Reading list A student of the two usul al-fiqh texts will be best prepared for the classroom teaching if they, before class, read from other Hanafi works of usul, like the work of Bazdawi; as well as reading the literature of those who followed the later tariqah al-mutakallimin, like Juwayni in al-Burhan and Ghazzali in al-Mustasfa.

  • Al-Shafi’i, al-Risalah. Ed. A. Muhammad Shakir. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1979
  • Islamic Jurisprudence: Shafii’s Risalah. Trans. Majid Khadduri. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1961.
  • Abu Bakr al-Sarakhsi, Usul al-Sarakhsi, ed. Abu al-Wafa al-Afghani, Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1993
  • al-Shatibi, al-Muwaffaqat fi usul al-shari’ah, Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah 1424 AH

Teaching Method

Teaching Method

Each class will consist of a 55 minute lecture, where the primary text will be read in Arabic along with its translation, commentary and relevance to the wider field. There will be an encouragement for the teaching to be interactive, with questions both posed of the students and welcomed from them. The teacher may also use power point presentations and post recorded webinars for study aid.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the development of usul al-fiqh
  • understand the methodology of Islamic law-making
  • critically discuss the primary and supplementary sources of Islamic law
  • analyse the arguments and propositions used in legal rulings (fatwas)


The module will cover the following topics:

  • History of Islamic law
  • Factors involved in the emergence of the Islamic legal schools
  • Ijtihad (independent legal deduction)
  • The first source of law: the Quran
  • The second source of law: the Sunnah
  • The third source of law: qiyas (analogical reasoning)
  • The fourth source of law: ijma’ (consensus of the community)
  • Supplementary sources of law
  • Differences in the methodology of the legal schools
  • The fundamental concepts of the discipline, the a?kam (rules) and what is related to them
  • The legal purposes of the Shariah and the a?kam related to them
  • The comprehensive treatment of the adillah (evidences)
  • The rules of ijtihad and taqlid.


This course will involve one short in-course essay and end-of-course written examination.

Teacher Profile

Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi is an Islamic scholar from the Indian city of Jaunpur and a graduate of the world renowned Nadwatul Ulama (India) where he studied and taught Shariah.

Shaykh Akram is a Muhaddith of the highest calibre who has specialised in Ilm ul Rijal [the study of the narrators of Hadith]. He has Ijaza (licenses) from many of the most renowned scholars of our time including Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Al-Nadwi, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah Abu Ghuddah and Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Shaykh Akram Nadwi has a doctorate in Arabic Language and has authored and translated over 25 titles on Language, Jurisprudence, Qur'an and Hadith.

In May 2010, he completed a monumental 57-volume work on the lives of female scholars of Hadith in Islamic History. Also now available in English is Madrasah Life (2007) the translation (from Urdu) of his personal memoir of a student’s day at Nadwat al-Ulama.

His al-Fiqh al-Islami vol1 published by Angelwing Media is an original compilation of the fiqh (the codified legal rulings) of Imam Abu Hanifah and his school. For the first time in the English language, the detailed rulings of this school are presented together with the evidence on which they are based; every argument is fully and carefully referenced. Also, the author has taken present day circumstances into consideration, making al-Fiqh al-Islami the first authentic, reliable and relevant account of Hanafi practice in the English language.

Shaykh Akram is the recipient of the Allama Iqbal prize for contribution to Islamic thought. As a leading scholar steeped in traditional Islamic learning and in modern academia, Shaykh Akram is currently a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford.

Fees & Registration

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Foundation Level

[One Year] 2014/2015

Certificate in Classical Arabic and Islamic Sciences

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Applied Arabic and Grammar 1

Foundation Module 1: Level 1

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Applied Arabic and Grammar 2

Foundation Module 1: Level 2

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Applied Arabic and Grammar 3

Foundation Module 1: Level 3

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Quranic Exegesis (Tafsir)

Foundation Module 2; Unit 1

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Foundation Module 2; Unit 2

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Islamic Law (Fiqh)

Foundation Module 2; Unit 3:

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Usul al-tafsir

Foundation Module 2; Unit 4

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Usul al-fiqh

Foundation Module 2; Unit 5

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Usul al-hadith

Foundation Module 2; Unit 6

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Intermediate Level

Scheduled for 2015/16

Diploma in Advanced Arabic, Quran and
Shariah Studies
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Advanced Level

[Year One] 2014/2015

Degree in Islamic Scholarship (‘alimiyyah)

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Classical Exegesis of the Quran

Advanced Module 1

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Hadith criticism & fiqh
methodology of Bukhari
& Tirmidhi

Advanced Module 2
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Comparative Fiqh

Advanced Module 3

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Usul al-fiqh
Maqasid al-Shariah

Advanced Module 4

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Islamic History

Advanced Module 5

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Advanced Module 6

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Sacred Sciences Journey
(Umrah, April 2015)

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Islamic Law & Spirituality School
(Residential, August 2015)

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