The Importance of Fiqh and Excellence of a Faqih
Fiqah refers to Islamic Jurisprudence and is the explanation of the Shariah in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. There are four well-known schools of Jurisprudence, namely; Hanafi; Shafi’i; Hambali and Maliki. Fiqh plays a very important part in the life of every Muslim. The learned Jurists (Fuqaha) have derived the important rulings of the Shariah based on the commands of Qur’an and Sunnah. The importance of Fiqh and the excellence in understanding the Deen has been mentioned clearly in the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith.
Shafi’i, Malik, Ahmad, Imam-e-Hanif;
Chaar Baag-e-Imamat pe Laakhon Salam
Fiqh in the Light of the Qur’an al-Karim
Intellect, acumen and understanding are great blessings of Allah. It is necessary for a Muslim to be blessed with these if he wishes to understand the Holy Qur’an, The Hadith, and the secrets and laws that have been mentioned therein.
Almighty Allah says
إن في ذلك لآيات لقوم يعقلون
‘Verily, in it are signs for those who understand’ [Surah al-Rome, Verse 24]
In another verse of the Holy Qur’an Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta’ala says
إن في ذلك لآيات لقوم يتفكرون
‘Verily, in it are signs for those who deliberate.’ [Surah al-Rome, Verse 21]
Almighty Allah says
وتلك الأمثال نضربها للناس لعلهم يتفكرون
‘And We present these examples for the people, so that they may contemplate’ [Surah al-Hashr, Verse 21]
Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta’ala says
قد فصلنا الآيات لقوم يفقهون
‘Undoubtedly, we have explained the signs in detail; for those who understand.’ [Surah al-An’aam Verse 98]
The above mentioned verses of the Holy Qur’an make it very clear that to attain Tafaqquh fid Deen, i.e. proper understanding and appreciation of the Deen; one has to be blessed with intellect and the capability to understand.
Those who have been blessed with the knowledge of Deen and especially with the knowledge of Fiqh are those who have been bestowed with special blessings by Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta’ala.
The Holy Qur’an makes it very clear that those with knowledge and those who are unaware are not alike. Almighty Allah says
قل هل يستوي الذين يعلمون والذين لا يعلمون إنما يتذكر أولو الألباب
‘(O Beloved) Say you; Are those who know and those who know not equal? Surely, it is the wise alone that recognize the guidance.’ [Surah al-Zumar, Verse 9]
Almighty Allah says:
ومن يؤت الحكمة فقد أوتي خيرا كثيرا
‘And he, who has been blessed with wisdom, has surely been blessed with great virtue.’ [Surah al-Baqarah, Verse 269]
It must be noted that the Mufasireen (commentators of the Qur’an) have mentioned that wherever in the Qur’an the mention of Wisdom has come, it refers to the knowledge of Fiqh. The importance of Fiqh, i.e. understanding the Deen is also evident from this verse of the Holy Qur’an.
Almighty Allah says
فلولا نفر من كل فرقة منهم طائفة ليتفقهوا في الدين ولينذروا قومهم إذا رجعوا إليهم لعلهم يحذرون
‘And it is not possible for all the believers to go out (at once); Then why should a delegation not come forth from every grouping, so that they may attain the understanding of Religion, thereafter returning to their people, warning them, in the hope that they may remain guarded. [Surah al-Tawbah, Verse 122]
Whilst explaining this verse of the Holy Qur’an, Sadrul Afaadil Allama Sayyid Na’eemud’deen Muradabadi Alaihir raHma wa ar-Ridwan says:
‘It is not necessary for every person to become an Aalim or Faqih. However, every individual has to attain sufficient knowledge to be able to differentiate between that which is lawful and unlawful, and to know what Fard is and what Waajib is. To acquire this amount of knowledge is Fard-e-‘Ain upon every Muslim, and to acquire more knowledge than this is Fard-e-Kifaayah. It has been mentioned in the Hadith, that it is Fard upon every Muslim to acquire knowledge (of Deen).’ [Tafseer Khazain al-Irfan]
Blessed Grave of Imam Maalik Ibn Anas Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu in Baqi Sharif.
The Excellence of a Faqih in the Light of Hadith
Up to now, we have mentioned the importance of Fiqh in the light of the Holy Qur’an. This has been further explained and clarified in the Hadith Sharif.
Hadrat Sayyiduna Ameer Mu’awiyah Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu has reported that the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him) said:
من يرد الله به خيرا يفقهه في الدين
‘If Allah wills to bestow someone with special virtue; He makes him a Faqih of the Religion’.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Chapter 13, Page 137, Hadith 71
Sahih Muslim, Volume 6, Chapter 34, Page 396, Hadith 2439
Mishkat al-Masabih, Volume 1, Page 43, Hadith 200
Hadrat Abu Hurairah Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu reported that Rasoolullah SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam said:
خيارهم في الجاهلية خيارهم في الإسلام إذا فقهوا
‘Those who were good in the days of ignorance are also good in Islam, if they have understanding of the Deen.’
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 12, Chapter 8, Page 20, Hadith 3353
Sahih Muslim, Volume 15, Chapter 44, Page 450, Hadith 6311
Mishkat al-Masabih, Volume 1, Page 43, Hadith 201
In this Hadith, Rasoolullah SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam mentioned that people are bestowed with being better, on the basis of Fiqh, i.e. on the basis of their understanding of their Deen. This also proves that according to Rasoolullah SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam, one of the best qualities in a person is for him to have knowledge of Fiqh.
Once the Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him) made the following Dua for Hadrat Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu by saying:
اللهم فقهه في الدين
‘O Allah! Make him a Faqih of the Religion.’
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Chapter 10, Page 260, Hadith 143
Sahih Muslim, Volume 16, Chapter 45, Page 195, Hadith 6523
Mishkat al-Masabih, Volume 3, Page 340, Hadith 6139
Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbas Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu says that Rasoolullah SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam said
فقيه واحد أشد على الشيطان من ألف عابد
‘One Faqih is more superior over shaitaan, than a thousand worshippers.’
Sunan Tirmidhi, Volume 10, Chapter 19, Page 203, Hadith 2897
Sunan Ibn Majah, Volume 1, Chapter 39, Page 267, Hadith 227
Mishkat al-Masabih, Volume 1, Page 47, Hadith 217
From this Hadith it is evident that a single Faqih (Jurist) is more powerful over shaitaan, than a thousand devout worshippers. The reason for this is that due to the knowledge which Almighty Allah has bestowed upon him, and due to his understanding of the Deen, he is able to recognise and avoid the traps and the trickery of shaitaan. In reality, he becomes the one who assist others to be protected from the trickery and deception of shaitaan.
In Ilm al-Hadith, there are two things that are fundamental. The first being, the authenticity of the chain of transmission, and its narration; and the second being its meaning and understanding it. The Muhaditheen of the Ummah memorised and preserved the words and chain of transmission of the Hadith, whereas the distinguished Fuqaha carried the responsibility of understanding its true meaning and wisdom. It should also be noted that the distinguished Fuqaha also have complete expertise and proficiency in the subject of Hadith. One incident pointing to the importance and excellence of the Fuqaha is as follows:
Khateeb Baghdadi Alaihir raHma wa ar-Ridwan mentions that a Group of Muhaditheen were present, when a woman who used to bathe deceased females came forth and asked a question, ‘Can a female who is menstruating give Ghusl to a female who has passed away or not?’
Imam Yahya bin Mu’een, Abu Hatheema, Zuhair bin Harb, and Khalf bin Saalim etc. who are regarded amongst distinguished Muhaditheen were present there. Each one of them began to look at the other, and none of them was able to give an answer immediately. At that time, Imam Abu Thaur who with the exception of being a Muhadith; was also a Mujtahid and a Faqih, passed by. The lady approached him and queried regarding the said issue. He said ‘Yes, a female who is menstruating is permitted to give Ghusl to a deceased female.’ The reason being that once Rasoolullah SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam said to Hadrat A’isha Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha:
حيضتك ليس في يدك
‘Your menstruation is not in your hand’.
It is also mentioned in the Hadith that whilst in the condition of Haidh, Hadrat A’isha Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anha used to sprinkle water in the hair of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him) and she would comb a path in his hair. So, if in such a condition, water can be poured onto the head of a living person, why then can a deceased not be given Ghusl?’
When the distinguished Muhaditheen heard this Fatwa of Imam Abu Thaur they began to discuss the chain of transmission of the Hadith he had mentioned, mentioning who its narrators were and how it was narrated. When the woman heard this, she said ‘Where were you all this while?’ In other words, she tried to say that if that were the case, why then did they not give the answer’. [Tareekh-e-Baghdad, Volume 6, Page 67]
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‘Imam-e-Azam Abu Hanifa’ by
Allama Sayyid Shah Turab al-Haq Qadiri