Taking Ones Fiqh From Hadith Books


Continuing on from the previous post, please find below a brief summary taken from Shaykh Abd al-Fattah al-Yafi’s work Al-Manhajiyyah al-Aamah in regards to taking fiqh from hadith books, not least when we see courses springing up teaching beginners texts like ‘Bulugh al-Maram’ etc.

Even when courses are designed to faithfully teach beginners the views of the four schools the discussion can only be superficial and not a detailed study of the madhab according to traditional methods, reminding me of the phrase “Jack of all trades, but master of none”.  Readers are referred to the detailed posts on the blog which examine common misconceptions about the relationship between fiqh and hadith.  Please find below a summary of what the Shaykh has written in regards to this:

The Error Of Taking Fiqh From Books of Hadith

Some people think that they will achieve an understanding of fiqh by the mere reading of books of hadith and their commentaries, rather some suffice themselves with the books of hadith without even making recourse to their extensive commentaries.  Thus they proceed and take from them legal rulings according to their “Ijtihad”.  Both of these approaches are incorrect, the second of them more severely flawed and dangerous, the reasons for it being so are:

1- That which is contained in the books of  hadith and their commentaries are only selected legal rulings which are by no means comprehensive.  As for the books of fiqh then they deal with the legal rulings in a detailed manner, from A-Z. That which is in the books of hadith commentaries (in terms of legal rulings) is very small in comparison to that which is contained in the books of fiqh.

2-The books of hadith and their commentaries do not usually mention the conditional clauses and exceptions for the legal ruling.  The reason for this is that the books of hadith are not written to be specialised fiqh manuals.

3-The books of hadith often contain the personal views of the commentators themselves, and not a relaying  of the views of the legal school (madhab) that they themselves follow.  This in turn leads to misunderstandings.

What has been mentioned above is in no way intended to detract from importance of the books of hadith and their commentaries, indeed Imam al-Suyuti said as in al-Hawi (2/398):

“The earlier scholars said:  The hadith expert (Muhaddith) without fiqh is like a pharmacist who is not a doctor, the medicines are available in his shop but he does not know for that which they are to be used.  The jurist (faqih) without hadith is like a doctor who is not a pharmacist, he knows which medicines will be appropriate except that he does not possess them”

Rather it is intended that it be understood that fiqh is not taken from the books of hadith and their authors, rather it is to be taken from the books of fiqh and their authors.  This is the Sunnah of Allah in His specifying specialists for each science, thus it should be taken from its specialists.

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