The sources of the Religious Judgments and Decrees in Islam

In Islam, the religious judgments and decrees are based on two fundamental sources:

1. the Book,

2. the Sunnah

All of the religious decrees of Islam are based on those two sources. No Islamic decree is taken from any other fundamentals or laws.

Apart from those two sources, there are two more religious evidence called Qiyas (comparison) and Ijma (consensus); they are not actually independent sources. They are obtained by referring to the Book and the Sunnah. Then, all of the Islamic decrees are based on  the Book and the Sunnah.

Now, let us explain those sources one by one:


1. the Book:

What is meant by the Book is the Quran.


2. the Sunnah:

The words that our Prophet said and the deeds that he did are called the Sunnah. The Sunnah is divided into three: 

The words of our Prophet are called Sunnah Qawli (Word); his deeds are called Sunnah Fi’li (Deed); if the Prophet heard something from someone or saw someone did something and did not prevent them or kept silent, it is called Sunnah Taqriri (Approval).   

Although all of them can be called hadith, the term hadith is especially used for the words of our Prophet.

The Sunnah of our Prophet is an important fundamental after the Quran, the religious evidence. Apart from explaining and interpreting the religious decrees in the Quran, the Sunnah imposed new decrees, too. 


3. Qiyas:

Qiyas is a religious evidence that is based on the Quran and the Sunnah.

Qiyas means to make a judgment about an issue by analogy based on a religious decree that exists in the Quran due to the similarity of reason.

For instance, it is stated both in the Book and the Sunnah that wine is haram to drink. The reason why wine is haram is its intoxication. Then, all of the alcoholic drinks that are intoxicant must be haram to drink. The decree is given based on Qiyas. Qiyas can only be carried out by scholars that have reached the level of ijtihad.


4. Ijma al-Ummah:

If mujtahids living in the same century agree unanimously on a decree that they give through ijtihad, it is called Ijma al-Ummah.

An issue on which there is ijma is a very strong issue.


What is Ijtihad?

Ijtihad means to exert one’s efforts in order to make a judgment about a religious issue based on the evidence that is regarded as essential in the religion. A person who has the religious and scientific competence to make ijtihad is called a mujtahid.  It is necessary to know the Book, the Sunnah, Qiyas and Ijma with all their details and subtleties in order to make ijtihad.

“If the decree about an event is not clearly stated in the Quran and the Sunnah, ijtihad is made. That is, a great effort is exerted in order to make a judgment under the light of the Quran and the Sunnah. Ijtihad is one of the greatest virtues in our religion. Thanks to ijtihad, the judgments about all of the events that take place in life can be made by ijtihad. One of the reasons why our religion has a capability to meet the needs of every century is ijtihad..” (Halil Günenç – Günümüz Mes’elelerine Fetvalar)



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