Islamic Studies

Imam Shatibi’s Usul al-Fiqh Method: An Important Fact For The Student Of Knowledge

Imam Shatibi (r) in his Muwafaqaat laid out the platform for another method to Usul al-Fiqh alternate to those methods in place. In fact, his work was just as radical as that of Imam Shafi (r) with his codification of Usul al-Fiqh in the Risala. What the Imam did was to harmonize the method of the Maliki Imam Ibn al-Qasim and that of Imam of Imam Abu Hanifa with a discourse of the aims of the Shar’iah. This he mentioned in the introduction to Muwafaqaat. Imam Shatibi (r) was inspired to this effort through a propitious dream. This is the reason for naming the book Muwafaqaat that is because he harmonized different tendencies under one frame of reference and then subjugated this frame of reference under two poles: the Arabic language and characteristics of Islamic legislation. Shah Wali Ullah (r) too has a similiar system in HujjatUllah al-Baligha.

In principle, Imam Shatibi (r) removed Usul al-Fiqh from philosophical debate and moved towards understanding the philosophy of Islamic legislation, its character and goals. Usul al-Fiqh for Imam Shatibi (r) as noted by Allamah Ahmad Raysuni (h) is geared towards action, practice, understanding for practice.

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • assalamu alaikum sh. suhaib,

    could you expound on the similarities and differences between the system of Shah Wali Ullah (r) in his HujjatUllah al-Baligha and Imam Shatibi (r) in his Muwafaqaat, please.

    also, how did imam shatibi (r) remove Usul al-Fiqh from philosophical debate and move it towards understanding the philosophy of Islamic legislation? and what is the difference between (a)philosophical debate and (b)understanding philosophy?


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