Ayāt al-aḥkām (Arabic: آيات الأحكام) or Fiqh al-Qurʾān (Arabic: فقه القرآن) refers to the verses of the Qur'an in which the Religious rulings are explained or from which rulings can be extracted and inferred.
Religious rulings refer to practical rulings (such as the rules of prayer, fasting, jihad and zakat), not moral or theological rules. It is commonly known that five hundred verses of the Qur'an are among the verses of rulings which contain issues on jurisprudence.
The Qur'an is the primary and the most essential source for jurisprudence. According to hadiths, from the time of the Prophet (s), referring to the Qur'an and deducing rulings from its verses was common among the companions of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a). Also, in some cases, Imams (a) explained the rulings for people with reference to the verses of the Qur'an. The first work about the verses of rulings was written by Muhammad b. Sa'ib Kalbi (d. 146/763), a companion of Imam al-Baqir (a) and Imam al-Sadiq (a).
Many books have been written about verses of ruling, the titles of many of which are "Ayat al-ahkam". The authors of these works categorized them into some categories based on their characteristics; for example, they placed the verses which contained several rules in one category and the verses which contain one rule in one group. It is said that some verses of rulings were abrogated and new rules replaced them, such as the verse of Najwa.
Verses of the Qur'an in which a ruling is (explicitly) mentioned or from which a religious ruling can be deduced are called "Ayat al-ahkam" (verses of ruling) or "fiqh al-Qur'an". Religious rulings refer to practical rulings (such as the rules of prayer, fasting, jihad and zakat), not moral or theological rules. It is to mention that the title "Ayat al-ahkam" is a common title for many books which have discussed about verses of ruling.
An example of the verses of rulings is the verse of wudu, "O you who have faith! When you stand up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe a part of your heads and your feet, up to the ankles…" (Qur'an 5:6)
The Qur'an: The Primary Source of Rulings
The Qur'an is the primary and most essential source and reference for Islamic jurisprudence. There are many verses and hadiths which introduce the Qur'an as a source for knowing religion and a book containing the permissible and the impermissible. However, some Shi'a known as Akhbaris believe that the only source and reference for accessing religious rulings is hadiths, and the Qur'an should be learned through hadiths and referring directly to the Qur'an and using it independently of the commentary of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) is forbidden.
All the details of religious rulings are not mentioned in the Qur'an. In the Qur'an, general rulings of religion are mentioned, the details of which can be learned from the hadiths of the Infallible Ones (a). For example, the rule about the obligation of daily prayers can be deduced from the verses of the Qur'an, but the number of its rak'as, its foundational elements and the dhikrs to be recited in them are mentioned in hadiths.
According to what is mentioned in hadiths, referring to the Qur'an and deducing rulings from its verses began from the time of the Prophet (s) and the revelation of the Qur'an; and it was generally a common practice among the companions of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a).
In many cases, Imams (a) explained religious rulings to people with reference to the verses of the Qur'an; for example, it has been reported that Abd al-A'la told Imam al-Sadiq (a), "I fell to the ground and the nail of my toe fell off and I tied it. Now, what should I do for wudu?" Imam (a) said, "this and similar cases can be deduced from this verse, ‘[God] has not placed for you any obstacle in the religion’; so, wipe over that (tied wound)."
Shi'a jurists have always referred to the Qur'an and jurisprudential verses for deducing religious rulings; but, the history of compilation and writing independent works about verses of rulings go back to the second/eighth century. It is said that the first book in this regard was written by Muhammad b. Sa'ib Kalbi (d. 146/763) who was among the companions of Imam al-Baqir (a) and Imam al-Sadiq (a).
Number and Topics
There are different views about the number of the verses of ruling. In some hadiths, it is mentioned that one-fourth of the Qur'an deals with religious rulings and in some others, it is said that one-third of the verses do so. It is commonly believed among Shi'a jurists that the verses of rulings are five hundred verses (about one-thirteenth of the verses of the Qur'an). However, it is said that no exact number can be said in this regard, because it is possible that a jurist deduces a ruling from a verse, but another jurist does not. It is also considered possible that the first person who mentioned the number five hundred was Maqatil b. Sulayman (d. 150/767). The longest verse among the verses of rulings is also the longest verse of the Qur'an. It is verse 282 of Qur'an 2 which is known as the verse of Dayn.
About the topics of the verses of ruling, it is also said that with a brief review of the topics and issues mentioned in Ayat al-ahkam and Fiqh al-Qur'an books, it can be understood that these topics are those which have been mentioned and discussed in the science of jurisprudence and jurisprudential works; topics including purity, prayer, fasting, khums, zakat, marriage and inheritance.
Examples of the verses in which famous religious rulings are explicitly mentioned are:
- Main article: List of Ayat al-Ahkam
- Verse of wudu: "O you who have faith! When you stand up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe a part of your heads and your feet, up to the ankles." 
- Verse of tayammum: "But if you are sick, or on a journey, or any of you has come from the toilet, or you have touched women, and you cannot find water, then make tayammum with clean ground and wipe a part of your faces and your hands with it. Allah does not desire to put you to hardship, but He desires to purify you"
- Verse of khums: "Know that whatever thing you may come by, a fifth of it is for Allah and the Apostle, for the relatives and the orphans, for the needy and the traveller,..."
- Verse of fasting: "O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be Godwary."
Abrogation of Some Verses
Shi'a scholars believe that abrogation happened about some verses of the Qur'an; however, they have disagreements over which verses were abrogated. Abrogation means "replacement of a ruling by another ruling revealed later, so that if the second ruling did not reveal, the first ruling would remain effective until the Day of Judgement". The Qur'an itself has spoken about abrogation in two verses (Qur'an 2:106 and Qur'an 16:101). Shi'a scholars have accepted the abrogation of one verse with another verse; but, very few have accepted that the Qur'an would be abrogated with hadiths.
Some of the verses which are said to have been abrogated are as follows:
- About jihad with disbelievers, in Qur'an 8:65 said that every soldier of Islam should stand against ten people and in the next verse, it is decreased and the verse said that every one of them should stand against two people.
- The issue of changing the direction of qibla which is mentioned in Qur'an 2:144 and also the verse of Najwa which made it obligatory to give charity for whispering to the Prophet (s) and later this ruling was lifted are also among such verses.
- Main article: List of the books on Ayat al-Ahkam
Many books have been written about the verses of ruling, the title of many of which are "Ayat al-ahkam" or "Ahkam al-Qur'an". The Encyclopedia of the Qur'an and Qur'an study has listed 108 titles of books in this topic from Shi'a and Sunni authors. It is said that the first person who wrote about the verses of rulings was Muhammad b. Sa'ib Kalbi (d. 146/763) who was among the companions of Imam al-Baqir (a) and Imam al-Sadiq (a). Also, Tafsir khams-a mi'a aya fi al-ahkam written by Maqatil b. Sulayman (d. 150/767) which was written in the same period has been mentioned among these books. From among written works, Fiqh al-Qur'an written by al-Qutb al-Rawandi (d. 573/1177), Kanz al-'irfan fi fiqh al-Qur'an by al-Fadil al-Miqdad (d. 826/1423) and Zubdat al-bayan by al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili (d. 993/1585) have been counted among the most famous and most important works about the verses of ruling.
- Qur'an 5:6
- Qur'an 5:6
- Qur'an 8:41
- Qur'an 2:183
- The material for this article is mainly taken from آیات الاحکام in Farsi Wikishia.