Islamic law has occupied an important place in Islamic society since the time of Prophet Muhammad PBUH until the modern era. The essence of law in Islam has its basis in two main sources: the divine revelation of God in the Quran and the sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Allah states in the Quran, “To each among you we have prescribed a law and a clear way (Quran 5:48). Thus, laws in Islam are prescribed by God through the revelations given to His Prophet. Yet, the broader body of Islamic law, fiqh, which has existed throughout most of Islamic history, refers to the understanding and application of these shariah laws by Muslim scholars through their legal ruling.
Historical Development of Fiqh
The historical development of fiqh as written by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips in his book The Evolution of Fiqh, divided into six major periods which named as follows:
a) Foundation : the era of the Prophet (609-632 CE)
b) Establishment : the era of the Righteous Caliphs, from the death of the Prophet to the middle of the seventh century (632-661 CE)
c) Building : from the founding of the Umayyad dynasty (661 CE) until its decline in the middle of the 8th century.
d) Flowering : from the rise of the Abbasid dynasty in the middle of the 8th century to the beginning of its decline around the the middle of the 10th century.
e) Consolidation : the decline of the Abbasid dynasty from about 960 CE to the murder of the last Abbasid Caliph at the hands of Mongols in the middle of the 13th century.
f) Stagnation and Decline : from the sacking of Baghdad in 1258 CE to the present.
From the above mentioned stages, we know that the first two centuries covers the stages from the foundation until the building of the fiqh. The first stage in the development of fiqh is the era of Prophet Muhammad PBUH (609-632). During this era the only source of Islamic law was divine revelation in the form of the the Quran and the Sunnah. The Quran were revealed continuously to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH from the beginning of his prophethood until shortly before his death a period of approximately 23 years.
A number of Quranic verses were revealed to solve the problems which confronted the Prophet and his followers in Makkah and Madinah. A number of other verses were revealed due to particular incidents, which took place during the era of the Prophet PBUH. While the Sunnah was either the result of answer to questions or were pronouncements made at the time that incidents took place.
The Period of Prophet Muhammad PBUH
During the time of the Prophet PBUH, the only source of Islamic law was the divine revelation form of the Quran and the Sunnah. The Quran was revealed gradually to the Prophet over a period of twenty-three years. Oftentimes, these verses dealt with specific problems or incidents facing the Prophet in his lifetime. Prior to this, Islamic law followed the customary laws of the city of Makkah with the exception of idol worshipping.
As new verses were revealed, these laws were amended. For example, the early Muslims could consume intoxicants, as they were not yet prohibited. Once the verse prohibiting alcohol was revealed, this practice was banned. Thus, the establishment of laws in this period occurred on a gradual basis, allowing the Muslims to adapt and follow the new practices.
There are two basic categories of law, regarding the legislative content of the Quran,: dealings between God and man or such religious rites (ibadah mahdhah) and dealings between men (ibadah ghair mahdhah). The dealings between men can be dubdivided into laws of jihad, family law, and criminal law. The basis of the Quranic legislation is for establishing human reform and welfare. In other words, those are benefit to remove what is harmful to society and encourage what it is beneficial. As Allah says in the Quran, “It commands them to do righteousness and prohibits them from evil, and it makes allowable to them good things and makes forbidden to them all filth. (Quran 7:157).
The second main source of Islamic law was the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. The term sunnah refers to both the sayings and actions of the Prophet as recorded in Hadith. An order given by the Prophet was considered as important as a verse from the Quran. As it is written in the Quran,”whatever the messenger gives you, take it, and whatever he forbids you, leave it. (Quran 59:7). Yetm the problem of authenticity regarding the hadith arose after the Prophet demise as the process of the collection and preservation was not as accurate and formalized as that of the Quran. But, in the Prophet’s lifetime, it was a key component of Islamic law.
The Prophet not only explained the meaning of the Quran, but he also deduced laws from them. When an answer was not explicitly stated in the stated in the Quran, the Prophet would take a reasoned decision to suit the new circumstances. This process is known as ijtihad, or ......