These are my complete notes on the book as taught to us by Ust. Ahmad Zayn al-‘Abidin in Arabic, which is now available on YouTube. Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen’s work is a very useful book to get an introduction to Hanbali usool. There are not enough good books in the English language on Hanbali fiqh and usool and this is my modest attempt to introduce the usool of the school to English speakers. Please note that I did not write down every single thing that Ust. Ahmad mentioned but only that which I personally found beneficial and felt was sufficient for the explanation of the text.
Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen at times differs with the Hanbali school and Ust. Ahmad did point out those differences to us. At times, I noted in the notes that Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen is differing with the school on this issue and at other times, I just note down the official (mu’tamad) Hanbali position on the issue and do not mention Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen’s opinion. However, there are very few instances of this occurring in the text and the vast majority of it agrees with the school.
Usool al-Fiqh is important to study because it gives the person the psychology of the school. How does the school derive its rulings? How is evidence weighed? What should be done in instances of conflict between different verses and hadiths? What sources are used to derive law? How do we know something is forbidden or obligatory as opposed to just disliked or recommended? All such types of questions and more are answered in Usool al-Fiqh.
The class was entirely in Arabic and since the study of usool does require some proficiency in the Arabic language due to much reliance on Arabic grammatical rules, I have tried my best to explain it in the English language. I am sure that I have not done justice to it. If any mistakes are found, I humbly request the reader to contact me so that I may correct it.
About Ust. Ahmad Zayn al-‘Abidin:
He has been studying the Hanbālī Fiqh and Usool for about 7 years.
He has memorised Zād al-Mustaqni’, along with thoroughly studying all other abridged texts of the Madhhab. He has completed studying Kashf al-Mukhaddarāt, Hidāyah al-Rāghib, Al-Rawd al-Murbi’, and Hāshiyah Ibn ‘Awad.
For the past two and a half years he has been doing a comparative study of the Al-Muntahā and Al-Iqnā’ and their commentaries, Al-Ghāyah and its commentary, books of Al-Mardāwī and Ibn Muflih’s Al-Furū’; all under Sh. Hamad b. Sālih al-Marrī (Qatar).
In terms of Usool (legal theory), he has studied Ghāyah al-Sūl and its commentary, thoroughly studied Al-Tūfi’s Mukhtasar al-Rawdah and its commentary along with Al-Muwaffaq’s original Rawdah al-Nādhir. He has studied Mukhtasar al-Tahrīr along with Al-Futūhi’s own commentary and it’s original Al-Tahbīr. After that he moved onto a comparative study of the Usool of the Jumhūr.
He is a Pharmacy graduate from the University of Al-Azhar.