by Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahmân ibn Nâsir as-Sa’dî
[Risaalah Lateefah Jaami’ah fee Usoolil-Fiqhil-Muhimmah, which is part of Manhajus-Saalikeen wa Tawdeehul-Fiqh bid-Deen (pp.101-112)]
All praise belongs to Allaah. So we praise Him for what He possess from His beautiful Names and lofty and perfect Attributes; and for His Judgement and Decree which encompasses everything in existence; and for His Divinely Prescribed Laws which encompass every field of legislation; and His Judgement concerning rewards for the doers of good, and punishments for the criminals.
I testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone, who has no partner in His Names. Attributes or Judgement. And I testify that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger; who clarified the Judgement and the rulings, made clear the halaal (lawful) and the haraam (prohibited), and established the fundamentals and expounded upon them – until the Religion was completed and establsihed firmly. O Allaah extol and send the blessings of peace upon Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and those that follow them, particularly the Scholars.
To proceed: This is a brief essay concerning usoolul-fiqh (fundamentals of jurisprudence), uncomplicated in wording, clear in meaning, and useful in learning its rulings for whosoever contemplates its meanings. We ask Allaah that He benefits both its compiler and its reader. Indeed He is the Most Generous.
Usoolul-Fiqh: it is the science concerning the comprehensive evidences of fiqh. Since fiqh consist of either [i] masaa‘il (issues) concerning which the ruling by one of the five rulings is sought, or [ii] it is the dalaa‘il (evidences) employed in extracting and determining these masaa‘il (issues). So fiqh is actualy knowledge of the masaa‘il (issues) and the dalaa‘il (evidences).
These dalaa‘il (evidences) are of two types:-
Comprehensive evidences that encompass every ruling – from the beginning to the end of fiqh – of a single kind; such as our saying: “al-amr lil-wujoob (a command is indicative of an obligation).” Or: “an-nahee lit-tahreem (a forbiddance is indicative of a prohibition).” And other similar evidences. So these are part of usoolul-fiqh
Detailed evidences that are to be understood in the light of the comprehensive evidences. So when such is completed, then the ahkaam (rulings) can be resolved.
Thus, the ahkaam (rulings) are in need of their detailed evidences, and the detailed evidences are themselves in need of comprehensive evidences. So by this, we recognise the need and the necessity of knowing usoolul-fiqh, and that it aids in the understanding of fiqh itself, and that it is the foundations for deducing and making ijtihaad in the ahkaam (rulings).
The ahkaam (rulings) upon which fiqh revolve are five:-
Waajib (obligation): that for which the one who performs it is rewarded, whilst the one who abandons it is punished.
Haraam (prohibition): this is the opposite of an obligation.
Masnoon (recommended): that for which the one who performs it is rewarded, whilst the one who leaves it is not punished.
Makrooh (detested): this is the opposite of a recommendation.
Mubaah (permissible): this is where both (its doing or leaving) are equivalent.
Those rulings which are waajib (obligatory) are divided into two catagories: fard ’ayn (individual obligation), the doing of which is sought from every mukallaf (morally responsible), baaligh (mature) ’aaqil (sane) person. The majority of the Sharee’ah rulings enter into this catagory. The second is fard kifaayah (collective obligation), the performance of which is sought from the morally responsible collectively, but not from every individual specifcally; such as the learning of the various branches of useful knowledge and useful industries; the adhaan; the commanding of good and forbidding of evil; and other similar matters.
These five rulings differ widely in accordance with its state, its levels and its effects.
Thus, whatever is of pure or of overwhelming maslah (benefit), then the Shaari’ (Lawgiver) has commanded its performance with either an obligation or a recommendation. Whatever is of pure, or of overwhelming mafsadah (harm), then the Lawgiver has stopped its doing with either an absolute prohibition or dislike. So this asl (fundamental principle) encompasses all matters commanded of prohibited by the Lawgiver.
As for those matters which the Lawgiver has permitted and allowed, then at times they lead to that which is good, and so are joined to those matters which have been commanded; and at other times they lead to that which is evil, and so are joined to those matters which are prohibited. So this is a great asl that: “al-wasaa‘ilu lahaa ahkaamul-maqaasid (the means take on the same ruling as their aims).”
From this we learn that: “maa yatimmul-waajib illaa bihi fahuwa waajib (whatever is required to fulfill an obligation is itself an obligation).” Likewise, whatever is required to fufill a masnoon (recomendation) is itself recommened. Whatever leads to the establishment of a haraam (prohibition) is itself prohibited. And whatever leads to the establishment of a makrooh (detested act) is itself detested.