Fiqh Al-Hayah: Towards a Contemporary ‘Ijtihad

Fiqh Al-Hayah: Towards a Contemporary ‘Ijtihad


By: Mohga Mashhour



This research is the third part of a study titled, “From the Prophetic Biography towards Fiqh of Life[1] Fiqh al-Hayah, ‘Childhood as an Example'”.

The basis of this project is contemplating the honorable Prophetic Biography as one of the basic Islamic sources that is rich with capabilities for authentic grounding in theories and principles.  It is an effort to derive an independent reasoning vision features from the Prophetic Biography, as well as to reach part of the rules and mechanisms entailed in the process of applying the absolute authoritative texts of the Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah on the daily life of the Prophet (PBUH).

“Childhood” as a topic has been chosen as an application subject for deducing the aforementioned independent reasoning vision, since childhood in itself is an area that does not provoke many problematic issues in handling, and therefore will not act as a burden on the main objective of the research.

This research deals with the methodological conclusions derived from the first and the second parts.

The first part, done by Mr. Medhat Maaher, deals with the childhood-world-spectrum as featured by the Qur’anic view, and has been formulated onto two axioms:

The first axis: includes the Qur’anic speculation of child and his world spectrum.

The second axis: includes the interactions between the human innate nature fitra, doctrine and legislation in constructing the parent-child relationships.

The second part, done by Mr. Sherief Abderrahman, deals with the Prophetic Biography (based mainly on the two books of Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim),  extracting the Prophetic Sayings that entail rulings, significations or real life incidents that are related to “Childhood”.


This research project endeavors to extrapolate features of an independent reasoning method in light of the Biography of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings upon him), and to identify the way through which the Prophet (Peace and Blessings upon him) applied the revealed absolute texts on the changing relative reality. 

The objectives of this project can be summed up in two principal ones:

The first objective: To bring the noble Prophetic Biography into the focus attention of the researches field, considering it as a legacy treasure that can pump new life to the contemporary independent reasoning operations and methods, for in fact, Reality supported by Revelation is a domain that needs an independent reasoning examination to deduce its movement governing principles and its working rules. 

The second objective: To trace and follow the way through which the Prophet (Peace and Blessings upon him) faced the different situations that are related to our specific topic “Children in Islam”, and how he (Peace and Blessings upon him) dealt with the daily life incidents.  Our initial speculation shows that studying such an important fundamental joint – which does not entail jurisprudence legislations or judgments – will shed light on an important vision that may help in creating “an independent reasoning method”, or it can even be a gateway to an independent reasoning ‘Ijtihad[2], that may lead to a kind of a non-juristic legislation, which is labeled as, “The Fiqh of Life[3]“.  Recently, the term Fiqh of Life has become a widely spread concept, yet without any true agreement over its content; hopefully this study can be an initial step along the way of drawing clear contours and features for this concept.

Along our study of the honorable Prophetic Biography, we relied upon the authoritative-text itself (nuss), through extracting all its ultimatum possible significances, and avoiding any imposed pre-structured meanings or interpretations, no matter how they might seem familiar, and we were careful not to separate the prophetic narrations out of their contexts and situations as possible. Consequently, the authoritative-texts, in themselves and with their accumulative significances, will eventually constitute the features of the vision that has been gradually formulated for our subject, hence we can abstract an independent reasoning method exactly as the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) has desired for us.  After months of scrupulous search, we have finally reached a speculation of the status of children in the Islamic society, driven from the life-bursting scenes mentioned in the Honorable Qur’an and the Biography of the Prophet of Allah (Peace and Blessings upon him).

In the last phase, we shifted to deduce a method that can be applied on other fields of life, namely a method for a superlative-understanding of life Fiqh of Iife as drawn by the Prophet (PBUH), and that addresses all forms of actions, efforts and striving activities needed by Man to fulfill the deputizing duty purpose for which he has been created (‘Istikhlaf).

Such abstraction of significances and observations accumulations had produced a system that consists of five integrated and correlated-influential elements, which they collectively form the so-called term “Fiqh of Life “. These five elements are: the objectives, the values, the divine-cosmic laws (Sunnan), the Unseen, and the legal rulings.

Examining these elements has been done on two scales: the first scale is defining each term separately, and the second scale is clarifying the interwoven entity which these elements formulate and their outcomes when they are activated, in accordance to an integrated vision, away from any dissecting or fractioning approaches of the research subject topic.

First: Elements of “Fiqh of Life” System:

Before elaborating these elements, it is important to mention some important points that should be accompanied while approaching our subject.

First, These five elements are not innovated or new to the Islamic independent-reasoning vision, but indeed, they had been rather concomitantly immanent in the hearts of the Muslim community, and in the paradigms of the Muslim legal independent reasoning Scholars Mujtahid[4], and they had mostly governed all the Muslim actions; the fact that existed yet without been explicitly declared or documented.  The kind of Fiqh that reached us fully and in extensive details is the Fiqh of Juristic Rulings Fiqh al-Ahkaam[5], through the extensive efforts and the expanded thorough studies of the Muslim Jurists scholars.  It is full and comprehensive to the extent that it seemed to supersede the Fiqh of life: (Fiqh of Life was usually known to include the categories related to: Ethics, moralities, heart purification, softening topics, virtuous deeds).  It is the accurate and rigorous nature of the Jurisprudence rulings that made it an appropriate kind of Fiqh that is capable of safeguarding the rights of God and people.

Unfortunately, the modern era has witnessed a clear breakthrough against the Muslims’ minds and hearts, that led to the distortion of the Muslims’ universal vision, and has impacted negatively on their understanding and application of the Fiqh of Juristic Rulings (Fiqh al-Ahkaam) itself.  As a result, Muslims nowadays deal with the so-called “the legally permissible zone” improperly distant from adhering to its generally accepted determined rigors dawabet.  An example to this is the un-Islamic practices adopted nowadays, like the extravagant ostentatious life style adopted by some social classes, that is totally irrelevant to the true meaning of the safe guarding of wealth, or carrying the divine responsibility of developing and in habituating life, which are the main principals of the Islamic vision.  There is no doubt that these all had negatively impacted the lives of Muslims.

On the other hand, there are some Muslims who were aware of such intellectual breakthrough, and were striving to conform to the complete Islamic vision of life, yet they did not find a comprehensive system of rulings that they can follow other than the Fiqh of Juristic Rulings (Fiqh al-Ahkaam), and applied it on all the fields of life.  By doing this, every aspect of life would consequently be judged in terms of it being either: lawful or prohibited; the fact that turned the lenient merciful and soft-natured human affairs – reflecting the merciful nature of the Islamic principles, values and objectives – to affairs that spiritless transgressed and dry solid ones.  Over and above, Muslims became totally consumed with the daily life parts and parcels events and partial matters, and drifted away from adopting the universal vision. This has created a trivial and superfluous oriented mentality that neglects the higher goals of the Muslim Ummah and the universalities of the human existence.

Second:  Fiqh of life, as shown above, is not limited to a duality of “an action” and “its ruling”.  It is rather an integrated interaction movement between the components of its system, that leads to adopting stances that are grounded on a total comprehensive Islamic view, and that are not limited to knowing the legal ruling or the juristic verdict fatwa only, but relies on invoking the perfect model, knowing the aim, and absorbing the entailed values manifested by the Islamic legal law Shari’ah; with all the coherence, perfection and mercifulness it carries to Mankind.

Third: It is worth mentioning that the interaction dwelling domain of the Fiqh of life system is a certain given reality that must be taken into consideration while performing an independent reasoning Ijtihad.  The action dwelling arena of the Fiqh of life is well set and clearly defined, not a non-defined featureless opaque one, but it is the clear changing real life upon which proper Ijtihad relies, on condition that this reality is examined correctly and understood comprehensively.  It is a well established fact that real life is in dire need to Fiqh of life; because Fiqh of Life guides and maintains the legitimacy of real life.  Equally, real life needs Fiqh of life to add to its richness, development and guidance, for Fiqh grows by the growth of real life, and develops by its development.  The vital, continuously changing and developing reality necessitates the need for an independent juristic reasoning Ijtihad.  Reality is continuously provoking new issues and situations, the fact that puts the Scholars and ‘Ijtihad in endless challenges.  When the Fiqh of Reality deals with real life and the comprehension of its events, then we can say that there is a qualitative difference between the Fiqh of life and the Fiqh of Reality, for the Fiqh of life deals with the standards of values and objectives which govern Reality and guides it.

The Five Elements of the Fiqh of life respectively:

  • The Objectives (al-Maqased):

They are the legally-acknowledged goals desired to accomplish in all the fields of daily life.  These objectives meet with the universal five main objectives of the Islamic Legal Law; the safe guarding of: Religion, Intellect, Life, Lineage and Property.

Our approach to these objectives can be applied on an individual and collective communal scale. Our study has proved that the objective of “safe guarding the Muslim nation (‘Ummah)”, which is supposed to be the umbrella that combines all the other objectives, has been extensively neglected, therefore there is an urging need to stress on reviving it back to the focus of attention and activation.

Full knowledge and inspection of the Islamic Legal Law Shari’ah objectives is the intrinsic fundamental primary step of the independent reasoning process.  This is due to the fact these higher objectives accomplish the supreme ultimate aim of binding the independent reasoning ‘Ijtihad with the concept of Monotheism, and with accomplishing the ultimate servitude to Allah.  Allah (SWT) did not create the Universe and Humans for no purpose: “Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that you to Us will not return.  So Exalted is Allah, the King, the Truth, no God except Him, the Lord of Throne, the Honorable” (23: 115, 116).  As a matter of fact, the Islamic Legal Law Shari’ah has came to accomplish the aims of Allah (Exalted and Almighty) for His creations, and to continuously bind Man’s deputizing and constructing duties on earth Khilafa with an optimum objective speculation that comprehends Man’s total civilization movement, and guides his civilization action path.

The main aim of any civilized action is to either: alleviate harm (the negative/ inactive level of vision and action), or to bring benefit (the active constructive level).  Therefore, the safe guarding process is not only a static rigid process, but it is rather a long-term vital constructive creative process that moves in light of clarity of vision and commitment in action.  Consciousness of the Shari’ah objectives transfers the Muslim independent reasoning intellect from being interested in trivialities to the concomitance of universalities, and from stopping at the outer appearances into focusing on the underlying realities and meanings.

The first rule of the Fiqh of Life states that if a juristic ruling impediments or contradicts any of the unanimous acknowledged Islamic objectives; in this case it becomes necessary to revise the partial ruling and reform it in away that makes it conform with the universal legal objective.

In this context, we must be fully aware of the widely spread calls that use falsified and whimsical imaginary universal objectives, on the purpose of deterring the Islamic Jurisprudence system along with its deep rooted rules of independent reasoning, on the pretexts of following “the spirit of the text” or “the spirit of Islam and its universalities”.

The legal Islamic universal objectives occupy the highest position in the Fiqh of Life system, where all the rest of the system’s elements serve for their achievement.  From the Fiqh of Life perspective, the legal Islamic objectives are the destination which must be addressed while conducting an independent reasoning, and they act as the experimental criteria or standard through which we examine the soundness of the developing and deputizing Khilafa actions.

The Objectives are clearly vivid in the all aspects of life.  Taking our research topic “children in Islam” as an example, we will find that the goal that underlies raising a child is to make him reach the ultimate perfect model in religion, intellect and being, and to preserve his property and integrity; that all work to construct him as an integrated perfect human being, as well as raising a generation that is capable of carrying the burden of succession in life (‘Istikhlaf).  An example to this, the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings upon him) has permitted Hend the wife of ‘Abu Sufyyan to take from her husband’s money without his knowledge, (as a reason for his stinginess).  This is an application of the objective of safe guarding her life and her children’s lives and integrity.  “Take for you and your children (the portion) that suffice you with adequacy”.  This and other previously mentioned examples show that every prophetic action or saying related to children in the Prophetic Biography stems from an underlying single or multiple universal Islamic legal objectives.

2- The Values:

Values stand for the human transcendental group of meanings that go in every action or saying of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings upon him); as per the verse, “Say (Muhammad): Truly, my Lord has guided me to a Straight Path, a right religion full of values, the religion of Ibrahim, the true Islamic Monotheism, and he was not of those who associate partners with Allah” (6:161).   Depriving the human action from values verily detaches this action from the Qur’anic Prophetic sound method.

Since inference of the Shari’ah objectives is highly needed when studying the Prophetic Biography, also studying the values entailed in the Prophet’s Biography (Peace and Blessings upon him) is as much needed, for the Prophetic Biography is full of values that are so clear and only blind eyes argue their existence.  Ignoring the values entailed in the Prophetic Biography turns the Biography to a spiritless body; since the values are compared to the spirit that flows within every action and saying of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings upon him).  This research concludes that “Values” are not an indispensable or a secondary unnecessary aspect, nor are they beautification extravagance that come in delayed interest, but they rather represent the active dynamic element of the Fiqh of life system, while neglecting them impediments the Mujtahid from reaching a balanced independent reasoning that conforms with the universal Islamic vision.

On this context some important points are worth mentioning:

First, Values in Islam are not relative. They are not measured by the limited finite human being, but they are rather fixed, stable, absolute and transcending, therefore they are not limited to a specific historical stage, nor do they get old by time, nor can they be replaced by any other modern ones.  On the contrary, Values are valid for every time and place, and conform to the innate instinctive nature which Allah (Exalted and Almighty) created in all humans, and it is this absolute nature that makes it a valid common ground for all Humanity.  

Second, Values in Islam are practically manifested on an ascending hierarchical order, while its top stratum changes according to the nature of targeted topic subject of ‘Ijtihad.  This is due to the fact that every field of life has its own network of values.  For example, in “Childhood”, the value of “Mercy” lies on the top hierarchy of values – as concluded by our study – while the other values come in later positions; such as the values of justice, equality,..etc.  In “Economics” for example, we find that the value of “Mercy” lies in a lower position in the hierarchy of values, giving way for the other values to supersede; i.e justice, truth, integrity,…etc.  In “Politics”, we find that a value like “justice” comes on top of the hierarchy.  In “Religious worship rituals” we find that values like “commitment” and “ease” are the top active ones.

The hierarchy order has a supreme importance. It governs the independent reasoning process, based on the fact that every field of life has its special governing supreme set of values which control the legal ruling itself sometimes.  This fact will become clear when we apply the linear relations between the elements of the independent reasoning system of Fiqh of Life.  In this context, we can refer to the narration of ‘Abi Qatada, that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings upon him) said, “Whenever I stand in prayer I want to prolong it but on hearing the cries of a child, I would shorten it as I dislike to puts its mother in trouble”.  And, in the hadeeth, “The Prophet of Allah (PBUH) was praying, when he prostrated (made sujud in prayer) al-hassan and al-Husayn jumped on his back, so he when they (the companions) prevented them, he pointed to leave them, so when he finished praying he put them on his legs, saying; who loves me should love those “. And the examples of similar Prophetic situations are numerous, as previously mentioned.

This research proved that the basic and pivotal value of the domain of childhood is “Mercy”, so it is mercy that governs the Messenger of Allah’s relation with children (Peace and Blessings upon him); shown in all the relevant actions: pampering, guiding, rebuking and disciplining.  Our study also shows that training children on practicing the acts of worship in the early age of distinguishing, shows it is important in this context to combine the values of mercy and commitment, since childhood and worship are interlinked and share the same hierarchical stratum. “Advocating” and “Rebuking” go also under the value of “Mercy”, whereas preparing the child for the moral accountability stage through training goes under the value of “Commitment”.  All these incidents had been clearly manifested in the Biography of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings upon him).  For example, the narration of Arrabie’ bent Mo’awez ben ‘Afraa’ said, “On the day of ‘Ashuraa’, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) sent a messenger to the village of al-Ansaar to announce: ‘Whoever has eaten something should not eat further but complete the fast, and whoever is observing the fast should complete it “. She further said, “Since then we used to fast on that day regularly and also make our boys fast.  We used to make toys of wool for the boys, and if anyone of them cried, he was given those toys till it was the time of the breaking of the fast”.

In the framework of the Fiqh of Life system, the Values flow within all the other four elements. They nourish the objectives, the Divine cosmic laws and the legal rulings, and they are attached to the Unseen and the Abstract, and they act as criteria to check the conformity of the human action to the essence of the Doctrine and the Islamic legal way. Both the Values and the Objectives act as criteria standards for the ‘Ijtihad from one side, and for the actions of the morally accountable individuals (Mukalafeen) from the other.

3- The Divine Cosmic Laws Sunnan:

By this term we mean the eternal divine laws that govern all the fields of the human actions.  Consciousness of these laws leads to one’s successful reach of the goals of human striving in life.

Unraveling the divine cosmic laws that are active in all the human fields is a prerequisite for striving in life.  They govern all creatures, and influence their actions.  They are fixed, unchangeable and eternal. They are replaceable and valid for all creatures equally without discrimination.  The more the individual is conscious of these laws, interact and adhere to them in his life the more these laws will work for him and gift him with his desired goals.

Divine Laws can be divided into two parts:

The Fist part: includes the inevitable laws that govern all humanity equally without any human voluntary interference, such as: death, life, cosmic and life laws, like the parent-offspring instinctive love, as in the example of the Prophet’s Noah love to his son.  They also include the constant stages of growth common to all creatures: “Allah is He Who created you in a state of weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength gave you weakness and gave (you) white hair.  He creates what He wills.  And it is He Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful” (30:54).

The Second part: includes all the causal conditional Divine laws that are related to the human action, such as the law of cause and effect, where the consciousness and freewill of the human being influences the human action activation. One more example of this is the law of Repelling (the transgressors) aiming to prevent corruption from prevailing: “And if Allah had not repelled some people by others the earth would have been corrupted. But Allah is a Lord of Kindness to (His) creatures” (2:251).  This group of Divine laws exists in all the fields of life.  There are psychological, social and historical Divine laws, and many others.  This group of the Divine laws is the active reactor of the Fiqh of Life system, and is traceable all along the Holy Qur’an and the honorable Prophetic Sunnah.  Many Divine laws can be inferred from the human experiences and wisdom which Allah (Exalted and Almighty) gives to whom He wills.

Causal conditional laws are divided into General and Particular laws:

The General Laws: are the inevitable laws that govern all individuals regardless of their beliefs or religions.  They are valid for all humans, believing or non-believing, and for all the human races, genders, unconditional to their differences.  They are objective constant truths unaffected by human voluntary action.  Examples of this kind of Laws are: the laws of change or progress.  Allah the Exalted says, “On each- these as well as those- We bestow from the Bounties of your Lord.  And the Bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden” (17, 20).

The Particular laws:  Are the laws that are related to certain group of people or civilization.  There are divine laws for the believers and others to the non believers.  There are economic, political and mental laws, as well as in many other fields.  There are Divine laws related to civilization and development, and to certain specific historical eras, and these are considered the most important specific laws that the independent reasoning master scholar Mujtahid must be aware of as they are part of the Fiqh of Reality.  Example to this kind of divine law, the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) refusal to change the foundations boundaries of the Holy Kaa’ba, and his abstain from fighting the hypocrites, and many other examples.

Independent reasoning in the Fiqh of Life helps in activating the Divine laws, which in turn will activate all the methodological thinking elements, excluding the whimsical methods that nullify, deconstruct and suspend the right balanced thinking and reasoning processes.  Ideas like anarchy, nihilism, the Universe being created by coincidence, the inevitable compulsion, and other similar ideas that do not conform with the Islamic doctrine.

In this context it is worth mentioning that Muslims believe in all the Divine laws; the inevitable and the voluntary, the general and the particular, which are all solely controlled by their Creator Allah (SWT).  The Muslim believer applies these laws in life while being fully aware of the extent of the governing Divine Will.  Muslims do not accept the philosophical concepts of compulsion and inevitability.  On the contrary, Muslims believe in the necessity of activating the Divine laws in a way that serves the effectiveness of striving on earth, on basis of the true meaning of moral responsibility, accountability, cause-and-choice relation, and the beginning-and-end interrelation.  The Fiqh of Life consideration of the Divine laws promotes the cause-and-effect way of thinking, yet without negligence of the role of the Unseen.  All these beliefs affect the positive gains of the Divine laws.

Hereby comes the following element in the Fiqh of Life system; the Unseen.

4) The Unseen:

The Unseen in this research stands for the area that are not perceived by the intellectual or physical senses, and that is parallel to the tangible reality.  The Unseen is related also to the human actions and their outcomes, and comprises numerous Islamic beliefs which are part of the human daily life, such as, blessing, provision, success by the help of Allah (Exalted and Almighty), protection from the devil,..etc, whereas the unbeliever perceives these concepts in terms of: coincidences, luck, pessimism, and other improperly defined ideas.  The believer believes in these concepts as being manifestations of the Divine wisdom and power.  Belief in the Unseen helps Man understand the true limitedness of his powers, knowledge and position in the universe.

Based on the above, the Unseen portrays an integral part of the human and cosmic existence, and constitutes a complex view that combines the belief in reality, its laws and causality altogether with the belief in the Unseen and its effect on reality.

The Unseen is divided into two main parts:

The Abstract Unseen: is the area which the human fails to perceive initially nor through intellect or senses, but only through the Divine Revelation.  Human reason is naturally formed in a way that makes it incapable of perceiving the grand unseen facts, like: The truth of Allah’s Being “Nothing is compared to Him”, nor can one perceive Allah’s reality, attributes, the nature of the Angels and the Final Hour,…etc.  Believing in the abstract unseen produces in the independent reasoning intellect a view that is inclined towards the belief that there is a finite unlimited ultimate source of knowledge; that is Allah (Exalted and Almighty), and this pushes the intellect towards taking both the Reality and Revelation as main intrinsic basically rooted sources of knowledge, manners and behavior.

The Relative Unseen:  It comprises all the things that the human fails to perceive by the physical senses but strives to reach through research, experimentation, and discovery, which can convert them from the area of the unseen to that of being “known and seen”.  Allah (Exalted and Almighty) has given Man the intellectual and sensual capabilities that enable him to develop his tools of knowledge and discovery: “And Allah has brought you from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing.  And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks to (Allah)” (16, 78).

Future-suggesting studies fall within this important area.  This shows that the element of the Unseen in the Fiqh of Life encourages the Mujtahid to try endlessly to anticipate and foresee the future, and consider the Divine laws and the characteristic natures of the nations and development.

The Fiqh of Life system points to the fact that there is a kind of reality that cannot be understood except by the belief in the Unseen, for there is an interrelation and interaction between Man and the relative Unseen.  Plenty of the active issues in Man’s life are uncontrollable, like blessing, success and provision,… etc., whereas these issues Allah (Exalted and Almighty) has shown the ways Man should follow in order to reach; like living in a rightful way, good deeds and conduct that lead to reaching blessing and success, “And if the people of the towns had believed and had the piety, certainly, we should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, but they denied (the Messengers).  So We took them (with punishment) for what they used to earn” (96,7).  The Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah endlessly invoke people to be in a state of continuous consciousness of the Unseen, in practices like supplication asking for blessing and provision, in seeking refuge from the harms, as in the supplication of Mary’s mother, “And I seek refuge with you (Allah) for her and her offspring, from Satan”. (37,3), and the saying of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) when he was mentioning the Ruqya for al-Hassan and al-Hussayn and says, “Your father was using it to invoke Allah’s protection upon Ismail and Ishaak, invoking Allah’s complete words from every Satan and pest, and from every sharply scolding eye”.

These active concepts of the Unseen are among the fundamental meanings in the legal independent reasoning process of the Fiqh of Life.  There is work and effort exerted aiming to reach certain objectives in a frame of reliance on Allah and perception of the limitedness of Man’s knowledge which prevents Man from transgression that results from his relying solely on his power or success, and it makes him always see the impossibility of attaining full control of life.

The kind of the Unseen existing in this system introduces dimensions and capabilities which the physical entities and authorities falls short of, and it also – considering its comprising of the Divine Revelation – paves the way for accepting the rest of the system’s elements: the objectives, the values, the divine laws and the legal rulings.

5- The Legal Rulings (al-Ahkaam)

It represents the legislative framework that governs the actions of the Muslim individual.  The various independent Schools of Thought (al-Mazaaheb) had done a fruitful work of Ijtihad in this field, through establishing the Science of Fiqh, that defines and categorizes the human actions in accordance with the type of their moral accountability Takleef as either: permissible or prohibited, within a system of partial rulings for these actions: (the obligatory, the prohibited, the recommended, the disliked, the permissible), whereas Ijtihad  is still open for the uprising of new situations and incidents of the surrounding environment of this human action.

The Legal Rulings system includes the laws that regulate the lives of humans.   There are Revelation-derived rulings (from the Qur’an and Sunnah), as the direct authoritative literal text directives.  Examples to this are numerous; as in the verses: “And try the orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then you find sound judgment in them, release their property to them, but consume it not wastefully and hastily, fearing that they should grow up, and whoever (among guardians) is rich, he should take no wages, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable (according to his labor).  And when you release their property to them, take witness in their presence, and Allah is All-Sufficient in taking account” (4-6).   The other form of the Revelation-derived rulings is the rulings that have been deducted from the jurisprudent laws on which the partial actions can be applied.  This helps in the Ijtihad independent juristic reasoning within the different incidents, times and places (i.e public interest al-Maslaha, corruption Mafsada, benefit al-Manfaa’a, Harm Darrar) which work to facilitate the derivation of the rules from the partial matters.  These all provide the Islamic Legal Law Shari’ah its validity and universality, and make it valid for all times and places, and capable of developing the creation and civilization.

The Fiqh of Rulings is characterized by two main advantages: The Appropriateness and Invariability, which gives this type of Fiqh its balanced nature that conforms with the structure of the Legal Law Shari’ah.  This advantage has been mentioned by ‘Ibn al-Qayyem in ‘A’laam al-Mowaq’een, when he distinguished between two types of rulings: “..There is a type (of ruling) that is consistent and limited to one form or situation, does not change by time or place or ‘Ijtihad that might contradict its nature, such as the obligation of the mandatory, and prohibiting the prohibited, the legally stated cannoned acts of punishment for crimes (al-Hudood),..etc.  These are all constant and non-changing and are not subject to ‘Ijtihad that might contradict their constant nature. The second type is one that revolves with the need and welfare that change by time, place and circumstances.  The Law maker can change this type of rulings according to the interest.  This is a very wide and comprehensive field that is problematic where many had confused the constant invariable necessary rulings that do not change with the legal acts that rotate with the welfare; exists on its existence and disappears on its disappearance…”.

The acknowledged definition of Fiqh states that it is the knowledge of the practical legal rulings derived from the detailed proofs.  This means that Fiqh targets the partial practical issues (while law-forming for the universal rules that serve the ‘Ijtihad in the partial legal rulings), the fact that makes Fiqh resembles the contemporary Law as both are limited in scope.  It has been observed that fiqh can be applied on all the domains and fields of the Islamic life, but unfortunately doing this has detached the human affairs from their mercifulness – which is the essence of the Fiqh of Life- and turns them to tough deconstructing affairs, and this hinders the ‘Ijtihad from conforming with the changing issues of reality, on both the partial level and the universal civilization level.

This portrays the clear role of the Fiqh of Life, as complementary to the Fiqh of Rulings, and not an alternative to it. 

Fiqh of Life highlights the following dimensions:

  • It examines the partial matters in terms of their conformity to the universals; values, objectives and divine laws, and not in terms of juristic permissibility or prohibition.
  • It considers the Values a fundamental principle in forming the practical legal ruling, compared to the Fiqh of Rulings that is limited to the formal rigorously determined reason.
  • It permits the variation of legal choices when the Jurists differ on the same issue to various opinions, taking into consideration the prerequisites of objectives, values and divine laws. This may be preferable than the rule that says “Imitate those who permits (the action)”, especially in the case of the Mujtahid not the ordinary individual.
  • It expands to include the universal issues of the public entities (the Ummah and the Communal entities), and does not limit the Ijtihad to the partial individual issues.
  • It gives possibilities to deal with the new circumstances that do not have any previous similar examples upon which a Mujtahid can make analogy Qiyas according to clear legal reasons.

It is worth noting that we can compare the difference in relation between the Fiqh of Rulings and the Fiqh of Life to that of the example of the obligatory Alms (Zakat) and the voluntary charity (Sadaqa).  Both of them are ordained by the legal law, yet the obligatory Zakat is one of the principle pillars of Islam which an individual is considered Muslim by doing it; and there are numerous colossal volumes that studied its judgments and measurements.  Whereas the voluntary charity, that is a fundamental part in the Muslim community, numerously advocated in the Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic Sayings, yet it is not a fundamental subject study of the books of Fiqh, due to the nature of the juristic rulings that made it concentrate on the idea of “Rights” (the rights of Allah and the rights of the individuals), and marginalizing the merciful duties and communities’ cordial ethical dimensions.

This shows that the relation between the Fiqh of Rulings and the Fiqh of Life is  compared to the relation between the mandatory unanimous congruent, that is clearly defined by well determined criteria and strict regulations from one side, and what is obligatory but is merciful and based on the legal value and objective from the other side.

In addition to this, the legal rulings (which is the last element of the Fiqh of Life system) is considered the protective guard for the ‘Ijtihad and the striving efforts of the Fiqh of Life spectrum.


Second: Operating and Implementing the Fiqh of Life System

This includes two elements:

  1. The Application Methodology:


The Fiqh of Life system’s elements presented above and as viewed by this study, each element can be implemented separately and produce results, but such an individual-element application does not construct a complete system of Fiqh that functions as a guide for the Muslims’ lives, on both the individual and collective levels.  The first and basic rigor for understanding, examining and following this system is to take all its elements as a whole, conforming to the “systemization” structure that binds them in one body.  All elements must be taken as a whole without disintegration, fractioning or randomly selecting some and leaving others.   They are considered as a one integrated entity where they are all interwoven pulling themselves together: in terms of mutual production giving and accuracy.  This fact is the first fundamental condition and requirement for operating this Fiqh system.

On examining each element separately, it will become clear that the majority of them are liable to accuracy and rigor properness in a big proportion, like: the higher objectives, the divine cosmic laws and the legal rulings.  They are characterized by a higher degree of liability to properness and regulation more than the other elements, (that’s why these ones were studied and included within the subjects of the juristic independent reasoning ‘Ijtihad).  Yet, the other elements: the Values and the Unseen can not be properly or accurately regulated, the reason why they did not earn the same portion of study and examination.  On this context one may ask: in the field of Ijtihad, how can we avoid falling into methodological errors resulting from including such later mentioned elements that are not liable to accuracy and properness?. Here we can say that it is the internal relation between the system’s elements that – essentially – protects the properness and accuracy of “the Unseen” and “the Values”, and consequently magnifying their role in ‘Ijtihad.

One application example to this: in “raising children”, according to the norms of the divine cosmic laws in Allah’s creation, mercy and tenderness are basic requirements for the proper physical and mental growth of children, but to what extent?, and what is the exact proportion that should be taken from these values?, are there any proper estimates through which we can guard them from being child-constructive element to a destructive if applied excessively whether positively or negatively?, for it is well stated that the extensive mercy spoils the children and leads to their mental weakness and incapability of handling responsibilities, whereas the shortness of love and mercy hinders their healthy balanced growth.  Then, what is the appropriate proportion for estimating such issue?

In this relevance we find that when we orient the value of “mercy” towards implementing the objective of “the well construction of children” – children  form the integral active element of the Ummah, that can be a part of a mature generation, both physically and mentally and capable of carrying a supreme message- combined by the divine cosmic laws that are relevant to the human self  and its purification, combined by the knowledge of  the limits set by the legal rulings; this integrated combination between all the system’s elements is the aspect that can give accuracy and proper regulation to the “values” element.

This is related to the condition of systemization and universality in operating the Fiqh of Life system elements, yet from another perspective, the study found that there are other operating stages, which form as a methodological system for handling the scientific and life practical issues.  Each of these stages leads to the other, and the former of which confirms on the later, yet without hindering the dynamic shift between these stages as needed by the situation and its independent reasoning Ijtihad requirements.

These stages can be displayed as follows:

First, Fiqh of the local situation: this necessitates the analysis of the situation internal elements and full knowledge of the relevant influencing external surrounding context.  The Muslim and Mujtahid researcher shall use all their ultimate possible tools and means available, and benefit from all the available experiences whether personally related or that of others, to produce various alternative viewpoints and wide range of results, which shall be filtered, through the steps that will be shown further.   

Second, Determining the legal ruling related to this local situation or to its domain; whether this ruling is congruent on one opinion or to various different opinions, and on light of which the Mujtahid shall decide either to build on the old verdict, widely or limitedly, or to restart the Ijtihad from the beginning,  ….etc.

Third, Determining the legal higher objective: that is closely related to the local situation or its domain, while balancing and harmonizing it with all the other relevant complementary objectives.  This horizontally defined one or more objectives should be made to serve two functions: the “direction” and the “limit”.  The direction maintains the objective without excess or shortage.  Applying the objective on the legal ruling maintains properness and regulation on the ‘Ijtihad; so choosing from among the legal opinions should be conducted as per the one that is closest to the preservation and non-violation of the legal objective, even if it takes to combine or estimate between two or more opinions, or rather repeating the ‘Ijtihad from the beginning.

Fourth: Determining the highest governing value to which the local situation domain belongs: as well as the surrounding relevant values, and applying this value (or values) on the situation, through the preference of one ruling or opinion that is closest to achieving this value, and eliminating the opinion that violates an Islamic well-defined specific value, while conforming to the previously mentioned regulators.

Fifth: Concomitance of the divine cosmic laws related to the local situation: as well as the features of the civilization era, and taking it into consideration while performing the ‘Ijtihad process (scientifically and practically), investigating the expected outcomes on the purpose of avoiding the negative ones, that is to say if there exists a ruling that conforms with the well acknowledged norms of Jurisprudence, and achieving the objectives of its domain and values, yet is not common among people and adopting it will entail the violation of psychological or mental practices and laws, then ‘Ijtihad – in form or practice – must be done in a way that conforms with these laws and avoids their invalidation.

Sixth: Concomitance of the Unseen: where foreseeing the relative unseen (the future), in the theoretical Ijtihad, in a way that sustains the complete reliance on Allah SWT, and establishes the merit of humbleness and advocates the need for exchanging opinions and advices.

Following and practicing these steps creates within the Mujtahid and the regular Muslim individual an intellect that is related to the acknowledged law from one side and with the daily life from the other side.  Educating the objectives of the Shari’ah, its values and divine laws to the regular Muslim, and adherence of the student and Mujtahid scholar to these elements does not only anticipate to produce a sound judgment, but also a sound Fatwa, a well guided tradition and a fully aware intellect that strives for conducting a life that is closer to righteousness and remote from corruption; and this is the core of the legal system strategy.

Such methodology may seem irregular in the views of many, yet it is not void of important regulators, many of which we have mentioned in the previous lines, yet we shall re-stress on them here:

  • The first regulator: the total and universal handling of the elements of this system is essential; for example we should not rely on the values and leave the objectives, nor rely on the Unseen as a reason without applying the governing causal divine cosmic laws.
  • The second regulator: Fiqh of Life must not invalidate or delay the established Fiqh of Rulings, but it should rather empower it and facilitates its activation. Likewise, the Fiqh of Rulings should not marginalize or neglect the elements of the Fiqh of Life.
  • The third regulator: the basic reference must be purely Islamic; for the significations and entities of the Fiqh of life must be extrapolated from the Islamic reference, and avoid being confused with the concepts and definitions of another civilization references.
  • The fourth regulator: using a scientific methodology that exterminates all the common erroneous and transgressing definitions of the elements: “Objectives, Values and Divine Cosmic Laws”, or these that are based on the system’s fractioning or negligence of the clear well-established and accurate legal causes ‘illal, or these which adopt whimsical significances for concepts like: the public interest, the wisdom, the values and the objectives.
  1. The End-Results of Activating the Fiqh of Life:

Activating this five-elements system of Fiqh of Life bears numerous scientific and practical advantages, where it establishes and sets the ground for the ‘Ijtihad process in the different fields and domains, the most important of which are:

  • Activating the Scope of the “Prophetic Merits”:

The Fiqh of Life revives the importance to what has been classified as the Prophetic virtues, merits and recommended exemplar model of conduct.  It also works to activate them within the limits of moral accountability Takleef, not from the perspective of a juristic reason-based one, but from the perspective of “recommended” objective and value. This is considered to be the renewing constructive aspect of the Fiqh of Life, since most of the actions of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings upon him) which we mentioned in the Seerah research lies within this scope; therefore neglecting it is considered a deconstruction of an important legislative source that are governed by the Prophetic objectives and values.  A wide scale of the Prophetic actions which fell under this category of virtuous deeds are “foundational prerequisites”, whereas marginalizing them on the pretext that refraining from their practicing does not entail a sin, leads to the deconstruction of the foundation value.   There are numerous situations where the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings upon him) continually stressed on importance of the value of mercy in treating children, and severely rebuked those who are unmerciful to their children, as well as stressing on the value of “Truth” in treating the youngsters and the servants, as in the situation when he PBUH blamed ‘Abu Zarr and ordered him to help the servant and share food and clothes with him. He PBUH confirms on the value of “Participation”, by being keen on letting the children attend the different communal occasions, when he asked about “Um Khaled”, his treatment to ‘Ibn ‘Abbas and ‘Anas, and when he carried al-Hassan above the culprit during  the Friday speech,…and so on. 

  • Fiqh of Life as a Tool for Elaboration and Explanation:

The activation of the five-element system in an integrated way may help in understanding a wide range of the Prophetic sayings and situations which might be uneasy to grasp if studied by the ordinary one-faced exegesis simple logic.

To understand, for example, the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) narrated by Bukhari, ‘Abi Qatada said, “The Prophet of Allah PBUH came out while carrying Omama bent al ‘aa’s on his shoulder, then he prayed and when he performs ruku” he would put her aside, and if he rises up he would carry her”.  Also the hadeeth of Bukhari narrated ‘Um Kolthoum bent ‘Oqba that she heard the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) saying: “The liar is not that who reconciliates between two people and says good or wishes good”, Muslim added in another narration: “And I never heard him permitting something which is common among people except in three occasions (war or reconciliation between people and the conversation of a husband to his wife and the conversation of a wife to her husband”.

To understand these sound Ahadeeth and the like examples which do not bear any ordinary juristic ruling, we must hereby resort to activating the Fiqh of Life system.  We will find that applying the values and objectives on the legal ruling can change the ruling, for applying the value of Mercy in the first hadeeth as being a supreme value in the field of childhood, led to facilitating the praying   forms in the congregation prayer, in light of an important objective which is teaching the Ummah this higher value, especially for a young girl at a time when it was so recent that giving birth to females was undesirable (before the advent of Islam).  

Whereas applying the objective of safe guarding the Ummah and its secondary units lead in the second hadeeth to turn a lie – that’s a negative legally unlawful act – to a positive permitted one; when it was done on the objective of preserving the entity of the family which is the primary nucleus of the society, and preserving the entity of the society, through bringing peace between the believers, and preserving the Ummah integrated body against the transgress of its enemies.

Yet, the influence of applying the value and objective on the legal ruling cannot be reached without proper regulations, as previously stated.  Not only this, but we can say that the main regulator to which one must adhere in the context of this objective is that: the objective or value must not nullify the legal verdict nor contradict it.  It is not allowed to abrogate, negate or abolish the legal ruling, except for the purpose of facilitating its practice.

Considering the value and the objective within the framework of the Fiqh of Life system allows for taking the Ahadeeth that seem to act as exceptions within the scope of the life-bursting universal Islamic vision, as Allah SWT willed for us, and as applied by the Prophet of Allah PBUH, for these Ahadeeth had not been mentioned in his Seerah PBUH on exceptional basis, but they rather form an inseparable part of an integrated vision that helps in reaching the complete understanding of this lenient Religion that is valid for all times and places.  Bringing these Ahadeeth to the core focus of the Islamic vision cuts the road on those who aim at removing them out of their contexts to serve a personal opinion that contradicts with the righteous Islamic direction.

  • Fiqh of Life as a Tool for ‘Ijtihad:

Fiqh of Life presents for us a theoretical and practical tool for ‘Ijtihad; where Muslim does not stop at the border question of asking whether something is lawful or prohibited from the juristic legal view only, while a wide scale of life’s situations lie within the area between those two legal verdicts, namely what’s called the dubious matters (mutashabihaat) (that most of people do not fully know), and where most people do not have the possibility of avoiding or totally neglecting; since they became considered among the life needs and even more as necessities.

As previously mentioned, the Fiqh of Life presents capabilities for ‘Ijtihad within the newly emerging situations through participating in the understanding of the problematic issues that face the Mujtahid and which may sometimes lead him to use weak criteria and standards.  It also presents a capability for preference among the differed-upon opinions of the scholars; where it can give preference to the opinion that conforms to the objectives and values of Shari’ah that are more convenient to the real life situation on hand.

  • Fiqh of Life as an Epistemological Renewal Tool:

That is based on presenting new way of approaches and reading capabilities for both the heritage and the contemporary.  Fiqh of Life presents new methods and perspectives of reading using the essence of Islam itself, conforming to the heritage nature, which is highly capable of endorsing the new risen issues.  They can take the Muslim and the Ummah away from the limitedness of difficulty, to the wideness (of ease and permissibility).  These new methods of reading and analysis launched from this system, with its limits and regulators mentioned above, deserving of showing the erroneousness of the whimsical and unknowledgeable ways of reading that spread nowadays.  In addition to this, Fiqh of Life creates an epistemological renewal tool that opens the door for creativity in the modern fields of knowledge, and benefits from the new approaches and theories in the human and social sciences which exempt from an Islamic reference, in an attempt to answer the recent time reality requirements.


On conclusion, we can highlight some important results that were deduced through the development of this research, and through its relevant elaborated discussions.  The results present broad lines to topics that need extensive further accurate examination.


Fiqh of Life is a bridge that connects between Thought and Jurisprudence: in this context we suggest the possibility of transforming the universal references of Thought (as values, objectives and divine laws….) to a semi-regulated principles, through making a definitive epistemological authentic grounding in principles Ta’seel for them, derived from the Principles of Fiqh ‘Usul al-Fiqh, where these universalities can conceptualize the intellectual judgment as well as the fixed juristic Principles of Fiqh for the legal ruling.   This is due to the qualitative differences in conditioning the various situations, and the nature of the type of the raised Juristic question, research and epistemological fields which produce qualitatively different answers to each of them: as to the Fiqh of Life, the answer will be either “conforming” or “non conforming”, “close” or “far”, compared to the proper juristic ruling: “lawful”, “prohibited”, “recommended”, and “permissible”.  Through this way we may find a connecting relation that can shorten the gap between the perspectives of the proper jurisprudence and Thought; which is often described as improper and volatile in nature the thing that hinders its eligibility for judgment.

From this it becomes clear that the Fiqh of Life – as common with the emerging so-called the “Fiqh of civilization” as both transcend towards the universalities and abstracts – yet Fiqh of Life differs from the Fiqh of civilization in a way, and conforms with the Fiqh of Rulings in two main points: they both treat the partial matters from one side, and judgment on these partial matters from the other, even when this judgment is being set from the angle of “conformity” or “non conformity” to the system of Values , Objectives and the Divine laws, and not from the perspective of being “lawful” or “prohibited”.  Here we see that Fiqh of Life is a connector between Jurisprudence and Thought, where those two seemed for long to be totally variable; and this variability always acted as an extremely rigid obstacle too hard for the Mujtahid to overcome.  All these points confirm the dire need to scrutinize and develop the tools of the Fiqh of Life in a way that makes it conforming with the rapidly growing need for ‘Ijtihad within the fields of Civilization and Thought.


Fiqh of Life is a gateway for developing a new Islamic Discourse: when the main goals of this methodological part are:

– To find a new independent reasoning view ‘Ijtihadeya that takes into consideration life Reality,

– Seeks refuge in ‘Ijtihad against the new rising situations of our time,

– Strives to present a combined approach of life, derived from the honorable Prophetic Model, therefore based on this we claim that considering this vision will ultimately influence the content of the Islamic discourse that’s being often attacked for reasons that are true sometimes, and false most of the time.


There is a possibility for merging the elements of the Fiqh of Life system with the general Principles of Jurisprudence ‘Usul el-Fiqh.  This can be done by merging the fixed legal congruent values into the section of the differed-upon evidence, which can open the door for regulating the definitions and capabilities of the three principles: the Values, the Objectives and the Divine cosmic laws.



  • ‘Ibn ul-Qayyem, “‘I’laam al-Mowaq’ee’n ‘an Rab al-‘aalameen”, (Verified and commentary by ‘Essam al-Dababty), Cairo: Dar al-Hadith, 1422 AH, 2002).
  • Ahmad ar-Rayssouni, “Nazareyet al-Maqasid ‘enda al Imam al-Shatebi” (al-Imam al-Shatebi Theory of Objectives ), The International Institute for Islamic Thought, Series of University Dissertations, Al-Mo’asassa al-Game’eya lel derasaat wal Nashr wat-Tawzee’ (The University Institute for Studies, Publishing and Distribution) – 1992.
  • Seif ‘Eddin ‘Abdel Fattah, “Madkhal al-Qiyam: ‘Etaar marge’ey li dirasat al-‘elaqaat ad-dawlia fi al Islam” (Introduction to the Values: a Referential Framework for Studying the International Relations in Islam), The International Institute for Islamic Thought, Project of The International Relations in Islam, 1999.
  • Taha Jaaber ‘Elwani, “Nahw al-Tajdeed wa al-‘Ijtihad: Muraj’aat fi al-Manzouma al-Ma’refeyya al-Islameya” (Towards Renewal and ‘Ijtihad: Reviews in the Islamic Epistemological System), Dar al-Tanweer fpr Publication and Distribution, 2008.
  • Taha Jaaber ‘Elwani, “Al Jame’ bayna al-Qiraa’aatayn: Qiraa’at al Wahey wa Qiraa’at al Kawn” (Combining the Two Readings: the Reading of Revelation and the Reading of the Universe), Dar al Hidaya for Printing, Publication and Distribution, 1995.
  • Ali Jumaa’ Mohammad, “Al Tareeq ‘ila at-Turaath al-Islami: Muqadimaat Ma’refeya wa Madaakhil Manhageya” (The Road to the Islamic Heritage: Epistemological Introductions and Methodological Approaches), Dar Nahdet Masr for Printing, Publication and Distribution, 2004.

:Translated by

Dr. Shereen Fahmy                    Hala Aly

:Revised by

Hala Aly



[1] Fiqh linguistically means “the superlative understanding”.

In this context it is worth noting that the first to mention the term “Fiqh al-Hayah” or Fiqh of life – as to our knowledge – is the grand Sheikh Ali Jumaa’, the former Grand Mufti of Egypt.

** This research is the third part of a study titled “From the Prophetic Biography to Fiqh of Life, Childhood as an Example”.  Group of researches had participated in this research as a part of the Scientific projects for the Charity Society for Social and Cultural Services.

[2]  Ijtihad from the root “J-h-d” literally means to strive and exert effort. It is a mental process,  a kind of “independent reasoning” or “mental effort” exerted to reach/ generate a new idea, concept, deduction based on known given information. (The translator’s note).

[3] Throughout the study we will be using the term: Fiqh of life, to mean: The Superlative Understanding of Life. Fiqh means the supreme or superlative understanding.

[4] Mujtahid, if in making Fatwa (juristic verdict/ opinion), then is the one who is entitled to perform the task of “Ijtihad” (independent juristic reasoning), and is usually an arch master in Jurisprudence, and is considered in the highest level of the legislative Islamic knowledge. Yet, Ijtihad in its wider sense, is open as an independent mental process that can be performed in all aspects of life other than Jurisprudence. (The translator’s note).

[5] Fiqh al-Ahkaam, is the Juristic Rulings Fiqh that shows the juristic ruling opinion of something. They are categorized to five levels: Lawful, Prohibited, obligatory, recommended, disliked. (Halal, Haram, Fard, Mandoub, Makrouh). In other classification, “Mandatory Waageb and Permissible Mubaah were added) (The translator’s note).

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