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Ayat al-Ahkam

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Ayāt al-ahkām (Arabic: آيات الأحكام) or Fiqh al-Qurʾān (Arabic: فقه القرآن) refer to verses of the Qur'an in which rulings in fiqh are explained or from which rulings can be extracted and inferred.

These verses contain practical rulings for people in worship, political, individual, social and other fields. Thus, they only explain secondary rulings and practical obligations such as the rulings for tahara, prayers, fasting, zakat, khums, hajj, jihad, marriage, inheritance, hudud, diyyat and contracts. They are about 500 verses.

Some believe that in addition to these 500 verses, there are other jurisprudential rulings which can be extracted from verses regarding historical issues, stories and moral issues.

The longest statement of ruling on fiqh is known as the Verse of Dayn [debt] in the Sura al-Baqara and explains about 20 rulings. It is the longest verse of the Qur'an too. "Ayat al-ahkam" is a famous title for some books on discursive fiqh as well, written about jurisprudential verses.

The Concept

In usage, the verses which have explained jurisprudential rulings or from which jurisprudential rulings can be extracted are called "ayat al-ahkam" or "fiqh al-Qur'an".

Rulings available in the Qur'an are categorized in three groups:

  • Ideological rulings which explain the thoughts and beliefs and correct people's beliefs.
  • Moral rulings which are about ethics, good and bad deeds and ways to achieve spiritual and identity perfections.
  • Practical rulings which explain about should and shouldnot of behaviors and practices of mukallaf people. These rulings can be in different worship, political, individual, social and other fields.

By "ahkam" in "ayat al-ahkam", the third group is meant.

Extent of Ayat al-Ahkam

There are two opinions among Islamic scholars in determining the extent of discussions in fiqh and verses of rulings in the Qur'an:

  • Most scholars in fiqh and tafsir consider the extent of verses on fiqh in the Qur'an limited to those verses explaining secondary rulings and practical obligations such as the rulings for tahara, prayers, fasting, zakat, khums, hajj, jihad, marriage, inheritance, hudud, diyyat and contracts. They are about 500 verses.
  • However, some others believe that in addition to the mentioned issues, there are other jurisprudential issues mentioned in the Qur'an. According to this view, many other verses of the Qur'an including the verses about stories and historical issues and moral issues such as the verses about maxims and ideological verses can be considered among ayat al-ahkam and jurisprudential rulings can be extracted from them.

Categorization

Verses containing jurisprudential rulings are numerous, but the kind of mentioning the ruling is different among them; and based on their characteristics, they can be categorized in different types.

Based on Ruling Type

Some verses explain a special type of ruling meaning that they explain the ruling about a certain issue, such as the verse 97 of Sura Al 'Imran which is only about the obligation of hajj and the conditions of its obligation.

Some verses of ruling refer to a general ruling, i.e. they cover several issues such as verse 2 of Sura al-Ma'ida saying, "Cooperate in piety and Godwariness", or verse 148 of the Sura al-Baqara, "so take the lead in all good works. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you all together." And verse one of Sura al-Ma'ida, "O you who have faith! Keep your agreements." The extent of the ruling in the first two verses is such that they cover any act of goodness including borrowed things and delivering found properties and as such, while the third verse refers to the obligation of keeping any agreement.

Some of these verses refer to a ruling in fiqh, meaning that they are not general. They are about subfields of fiqh such as verse 185 of the Sura al-Baqara, "Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you" and also verse 78 of Sura al-Hajj, "He … has not placed for you any obstacle in the religion". These two verses refer to one jurisprudential ruling called the "principle of rejecting hardship and obstacle" which is applied in different parts of fiqh.

Some verses of rulings do not directly refer to any ruling, but explain a principle in usul al-fiqh which is in fact the instrument of understanding jurisprudential rulings. Such verses are considered among ayat al-ahkam indirectly, such as verse 6 of Sura al-Hujurat, known as the Verse of Naba', "O you who have faith! If a profligate [person] should bring you some news, verify it, lest you should visit [harm] on some people out of ignorance, and then become regretful for what you have done." And also, verse 123 of Sura al-Tawba known as the Verse of Nafr saying, "O you who have faith! Fight the faithless who are in your vicinity, and let them find severity in you, and know that Allah is with the Godwary." These two verses are used in usul al-fiqh.

Based on the Way of Explaining the Ruling

Some other verses clearly have mentioned rulings such as verse 144 of the Sura al-Nisa', "O you who have faith! Do not take the faithless for friends instead of the faithful. Do you wish to give Allah a clear sanction against yourselves?"

Some of such verses criticize an issue, prohibit one, or promise or threaten about an issue and this way, they imply a ruling, such as verses 138 and 139 of Sura al-Nisa', "Inform the hypocrites that there is a painful punishment for them * —those who take the faithless for allies instead of the faithful. Do they seek honor with them? [If so,] indeed all honor belongs to Allah."

The rulings in some of such verses are in imperative form, such as verse 2 of the Sura al-Nisa', "Give the orphans their property, and do not replace the good with the bad, and do not eat up their property [by mingling it] with your own property, for that is indeed a great sin."

Some of such verses include statements which imply rulings, such as verse 10 of Sura al-Nisa', "Indeed those who consume the property of orphans wrongfully, only ingest fire into their bellies, and soon they will enter the Blaze."

Based on the Cause of Revelation

  • Rulings are sometimes given in answer to people's questions from the Prophet (s), such as their questions about haram months, mahid, khamr, maysir and as such.
  • Sometimes, ayat al-ahkam were revealed without any background, such as the verses about daily prayers.

Based on the Number of Rulings

Some verses only mention one ruling such as verse 241 of the Sura al-Baqara, "For the divorced women there shall be a provision, in accordance with honorable norms —an obligation on the God-wary."

Some verses mention more than one ruling, such as verse 282 of the Sura al-Baqara, known as the Verse of Dayn which contains more than 20 rulings, verse 43 of the Sura al-Nisa' and verse 6 of Sura Ma'ida, known as the Verse of Tayammum which contains some rulings.

Jurisprudential Issues in the Qur'an

According to a research, more than 50 issues have been mentioned in ayat al-ahkam:

These rulings can be categorized in the following groups:

  • Rulings about family and personal properties about which, the rulings and rights of marriage, divorce, nafaqa, etc. are applicable.
  • Social rights about financial transactions and contracts such as sale, lease, mortgage, kifala, partnership and as such; and the essential purpose of them is regulation of financial relations in the society.
  • financial rulings which are about distribution of public and private properties and also financial commitments of people toward the Islamic government and as such, e.g. anfal, waqf and inheritance.
  • rulings about foods and drinks, halal (permissible) and haram (prohibited) ones.
  • Penal rulings and rights including financial fines and bodily punishments such as hudud, qisas and diyyat.
  • rulings about judgement in which the manner of judgment is discussed, such as judgment and testimony.
  • Political rulings which are about the organization of government, its principles and goals and explaining the relationship between rulers and people and their mutual rights and duties.
  • International rights which are about the relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims, their treaties and the manner of treating with followers of religions and nations.

Famous Verses of Ruling

Some of the famous verses of ruling are:

  • Verses about the obligation of daily prayer in Suras al-Baqara, 238 and 239; al-Nisa', 102; Hud, 115; al-Isra', 78 and 79 and Taha 132.
  • Verses about rulings of hajj in the Suras al-Baqara, 125, 158, 196 – 203; Al 'Imran 96; al-Ma'ida 2, 94 – 97 and Hajj, 25, 27, 30, 36 – 37.
  • Verses about khums and anfal: Suras al-Anfal 1 and 41, al-Baqara 267; Bani Isra'il 26; al-Nahl 90, al-Hashr, 7.
  • Rulings about marriage and its related issues in verses 3, 4, 20, 22 – 25, 34, 35, 128, 129 of Sura al-Nisa' and verses 30, 31, 58 – 60 of Sura al-Nur.
  • Verses of divorce in Sura al-Talaq, 1, 2 and 4 and Sura al-Baqara, 228, 229, 231, 232 and 234.
  • Verses of inheritance in Sura al-Nisa' 2, 7, 8, 12, 33, 176.
  • Verses about some hudud about adultery in Sura al-Nisa' 15, 19 and 25 and Sura al-Nur, 2; about theft in Sura al-Ma'ida, 38 and murder in Suras al-Baqara, 178 – 179, al-Ma'ida 23 and 45 and al-Kahf 74.

Methodology of Writing

The books written on ayat al-ahkam have had different methods for categorization of these verses:

References