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Ayat al-Ahkam

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Ayāt al-aḥkām (Arabic: آيات الأحكام) or Fiqh al-Qurʾān (Arabic: فقه القرآن) refers to the verses of the Qur'an in which rulings in jurisprudence 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, diyat and transactions. 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 in jurisprudence is known as the Verse of Dayn (the Debt Verse) in the Qur'an 2 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 jurisprudence 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 "should not" of behaviors and practices of mukallaf. 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 jurisprudence and verses of rulings in the Qur'an:

  • Most scholars in jurisprudence and tafsir consider the extent of verses on jurisprudence 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 Qur'an 3:97 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 Qur'an 5:2 saying, "Cooperate in piety and Godwariness", or verse 148 of the Qur'an 2, "so take the lead in all good works. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you all together." And Qur'an 5:1, "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 jurisprudence, meaning that they are not general. They are about subfields of jurisprudence such as Qur'an 2:185, "Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you" and also Qur'an 22:78, "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 jurisprudence.

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 Qur'an 49:6, 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 Qur'an 9:123 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 principles of jurisprudence.

Based on the Way of Explaining the Ruling

Some other verses clearly have mentioned rulings such as Qur'an 4:144, "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 Qur'an 4:138 and 139, "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 Qur'an 4:2, "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 Qur'an 4:10, "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 Qur'an 2:241, "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 Qur'an 2:282, known as the Verse of Dayn which contains more than 20 rulings, Qur'an 4:43 and Qur'an 5:6, 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:

  • Rulings about marriage and its related issues: Qur'an 4:3, 4, 20, 22 – 25, 34, 35, 128, 129; Qur'an 24:30, 31, 58 – 60.
  • Verses of divorce: Qur'an 65:1, 2 and 4 and Qur'an 2:228, 229, 231, 232 and 234.
  • Verses about some hudud about adultery: Qur'an 2:15, 19 and 25 and Qur'an 24:2; about theft in Qur'an 5:38 and murder in Qur'an 2:178 – 179, Qur'an 5:23 and 45 and Qur'an 18:74.

Methodology of Writing

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

References