On the Study of Comparative Fiqh (al-Fiqh al-Muqāran)
By Dr. Salāh Abū al-Hājj
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
[The following is an abridged translation of Dr. Salāh Abū al-Hājj’s discussion on comparative Fiqh. The author describes three methods of studying the differences of the jurists. The third method, better known as comparative Fiqh, is a modern concept that traces its origins to the 20th century Egyptian scholar Ahmad Ibrāhīm. Although the study of scholarly differences is integral to comprehension of Fiqh, the author concludes, its study should be undertaken only after developing proficiency in knowledge; a premature exposure to scholarly differences can leave a novice confused. For the purpose of brevity, only relevant parts were translated. For the entire discussion, see Abū al-Hājj, al-Madkhal al-Mufassal ilā al-Fiqh al-Hanafī, pp.435-42]
There are three distinct disciplines: (1) Fiqh al-Ikhtilāf; (2) ‘Ilm al-Khilāf; and (3) al-Fiqh al-Muqāran.
Fiqh al-Ikhtilāf is a study of the opinions of the jurists with or without an expose of their respective evidences and answers to opposing views. The primary objective here is the differences of the jurists. General Fiqh texts only tangentially mention opposing views to underpin the strength of the preferred view whereas books of Ikhtilāf are written with the purpose of presenting the differences of the jurists whether the author only mentions their opinions or supports the evidence of the preferred view of his madhhab. This discipline traces its origins to the beginning of Fiqh itself; it is part of the study of Fiqh and without it Fiqh is not firmly established. In the 2nd century, scholars compiled Hadīth collections on the reports and differences of the Companions and Successors on legal issues; the discipline further evolved during the era of the mujtahid scholars where they began citing legal issues alongside the disagreements therein. Read the rest of this entry »