These are my notes from the lectures of Sh. ‘Amir Bahjat, a Hanbali scholar based in Saudi Arabia, explaining the classical text on Usool al-Fiqh entitled al-Waraqat by the Shafi’ scholar Imam al-Haramayn, the teacher of the famous Imam al-Ghazali. The book gives an excellent bird’s eye view of the field of Usool al-Fiqh. It is an introductory level text to introduce the student to the field and is usually the first text taught in classical study before delving into the more advanced texts on the topic.
Usool al-Fiqh deals with issues related to how Islamic law is deduced from its sources and the qualifications necessary for those who are allowed to do so. You need this science in order to understand the debates of the Muslim jurists (fuqaha) over Islamic law and why those differences occur. It also delves into the topic of how Muslim scholars deal with conflicting evidence.
I put these notes together for other students of knowledge who may be newly delving into this subject and those who are curious about the field. The main purpose of my notes is to be a supplement and I would strongly suggest that those serious about it should find a teacher to study the book. There are numerous commentaries on it from many scholars available on YouTube in Arabic and English. A student can also find mp3 commentaries available for download from competent teachers from various websites across the web. Of course, this will never replace having access to a live teacher, which is always the best option.
I benefited from Sh. Musa Furber’s translation of the text and incorporate many of his translation choices, however, I also do my own in other places where I felt it would make the points more clear. I also borrowed a lot from my notes on Sh. al-’Uthyameen’s book on Hanbali Usool entitled al-Usool min ‘ilm al-Usool.
Finally, I pray that Allah benefits you through this book and brings you closer to your religion.