An Introduction to Qawa‘id Al Fiqh

03/02/2009

بسم الله الرحمان الحيم

الحمد الله

This essay provides a brief introduction to legal maxims, an evidently important chapter of the juristic literature of Islam, that is particularly useful in depicting a general picture of the nature, goals and objectives of theShari‘ah. Yet, for reasons that will presently be explained, legal maxims represent a latent development in the history of Islamic legal thought. A brief explanation of the background history of legal maxims will be followed by a discussion of developments in three other related areas. We will discuss briefly the dawabit (lit. controlling rules), which are abstractions of the rules of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) on specific themes. We will then move onto a discussion of the nazariyyah al-fiqhiyyah, or the general theories of fiqh, which attempt to embrace a wider scope. The final area of interest in this connection is the furuq, or the distinctions and contrasts, which may be said to be a comparative study of the similarities and differences of the legal maxims and the substantive themes with which they are concerned.

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