Assalamualaikum SS Mufti. What are the differences between Fiqh and usul al-Fiqh in term of their application in rulings?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The differences between fiqh and usul al-fiqh can be recognized by first understanding the definition of both terms.
Definition of Fiqh:
Fiqh according to syarak means: A field of knowledge related to Shari’a rulings which are amaliyyah (practical) extracted from the dalils which are tafsili (juzi’e). Refer: Mukhtasar Ibn al-Lahham (pg. 31), Syarah al-Kaukab al-Munir (1/41).
Definition of Usul al-Fiqh:
Usul al-Fiqh technically means: Knowing fiqh dalils which are ijmali (kulliy), the method to benefit from them as well as studying the characteristics of a mustafid (mujtahid). Refer: Syarah al-Kaukab al-Munir (1/44)
Differences Between Usul al-Fiqh and Fiqh
Among the differences between fiqh and usul al-fiqh are as the following:
First: Fiqh focuses on the dalils which are tafsili (juz’ie)
While usul al-fiqh focuses on the dalils which are ijmali (kulliy). Dalils which are ijmali comprise of dalils which are decided and deferred.
Second: Fiqh is a knowledge of Shari’a rulings in the context of haram, wajib, Sunnah, makruh as well as mubah (permissible). All of these are extracted from dalils which are tafsili while taking al-Kitab and al-Sunnah as the sources.
While usul al-fiqh is a set of formula which guides a faqih on the obligatory path to be taken in extracting the rulings from the dalils.
Third: The issues concerning fiqh is on the actions of a mukallaf. So, a faqih concerns on matters pertaining the actions of a mukallaf in the aspects of dealings, renting, loan, prayers, fasting, hajj, zakat as well as anything related to the actions of a mukallaf in understanding the rulings of each of them.
While issues concerning usul al-fiqh is on dalils which are kulliy (ijmali). So, an usuli concerns on qiyas and its mechanism, issues pertaining the general verses (‘Amm), imperative commands (al-Amr), mutlaq (the absolute), muqayyad (the qualified) and etc.
Example of the Differences between Usul al-Fiqh and Fiqh
The Quranic verse:
“And establish prayer”
Surah al-Baqarah (43)
Based on the stated verse, a faqih will concern on the actions of a mukallaf which (in this context) is prayer and its ruling upon a mukallaf.
While for an usuliy, his concern is on the verse itself whether it is an imperative command or not, then he decides on a legal maxim:
الأَمْرُ لِلْوُجُوبِ إِلَّا أَنْ تصرفُهُ قَرِينَة
“Imperative clause (al-Amr) indicates obligatory (wajib) command, unless there is a circumstantial evidence (qarinah) that articulates otherwise”
Hence, a faqih uses the method or formula (legal maxim and etc) established by the usuliy from the past by stating: The ruling of performing prayer for a mukallaf is wajib.
In short, an usuliy establishes the formula for a faqih to decide on the rulings, while a faqih applies the formula established by the usuliy in the process of determining the rulings.
To end, may this explanation help us in understanding the differences between fiqh and usul al-fiqh. Ameen.