Introduction to Hanbali Usool: Explanatory Notes on Ibn ‘Uthyameen’s al-Usool min ‘ilm al-Usool

These are my complete notes on the book as taught to us by Ust. Ahmad Zayn al-‘Abidin in Arabic, which is now available on YouTube. Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen’s work is a very useful book to get an introduction to Hanbali usool. There are not enough good books in the English language on Hanbali fiqh and usool and this is my modest attempt to introduce the usool of the school to English speakers. Please note that I did not write down every single thing that Ust. Ahmad mentioned but only that which I personally found beneficial and felt was sufficient for the explanation of the text.

Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen at times differs with the Hanbali school and Ust. Ahmad did point out those differences to us. At times, I noted in the notes that Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen is differing with the school on this issue and at other times, I just note down the official (mu’tamad) Hanbali position on the issue and do not mention Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen’s opinion. However, there are very few instances of this occurring in the text and the vast majority of it agrees with the school.

Usool al-Fiqh is important to study because it gives the person the psychology of the school. How does the school derive its rulings? How is evidence weighed? What should be done in instances of conflict between different verses and hadiths? What sources are used to derive law? How do we know something is forbidden or obligatory as opposed to just disliked or recommended? All such types of questions and more are answered in Usool al-Fiqh.

The class was entirely in Arabic and since the study of usool does require some proficiency in the Arabic language due to much reliance on Arabic grammatical rules, I have tried my best to explain it in the English language. I am sure that I have not done justice to it. If any mistakes are found, I humbly request the reader to contact me so that I may correct it.

About Ust. Ahmad Zayn al-‘Abidin:

He has been studying the Hanbālī Fiqh and Usool for about 7 years. 

He has memorised Zād al-Mustaqni’, along with thoroughly studying all other abridged texts of the Madhhab. He has completed studying Kashf al-Mukhaddarāt, Hidāyah al-Rāghib, Al-Rawd al-Murbi’, and Hāshiyah Ibn ‘Awad. 

For the past two and a half years he has been doing a comparative study of the Al-Muntahā and Al-Iqnā’ and their commentaries, Al-Ghāyah and its commentary, books of Al-Mardāwī and Ibn Muflih’s Al-Furū’; all under Sh. Hamad b. Sālih al-Marrī (Qatar). 

In terms of Usool (legal theory), he has studied Ghāyah al-Sūl and its commentary, thoroughly studied Al-Tūfi’s Mukhtasar al-Rawdah and its commentary along with Al-Muwaffaq’s original Rawdah al-Nādhir. He has studied Mukhtasar al-Tahrīr along with Al-Futūhi’s own commentary and it’s original Al-Tahbīr. After that he moved onto a comparative study of the Usool of the Jumhūr. 

He is a Pharmacy graduate from the University of Al-Azhar.


Principles of Hadith Sciences: Explanatory Notes on Ibn Hajar’s Nukhbat al-Fikar

These are my complete notes on Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani’s famous book on principles of hadith sciences titled Nukhbat al-Fikar. The notes are based on Sh. Yusuf ibn Sadiq al-Hanbali’s classes over a period of few months. The classes were conducted in the English language. For the translation of the terms, I mainly relied on Sh. Musa Furber’s translation of Ibn Hajar’s book, however, there are instances where I substitute for a translation given by Sh. Yusuf ibn Sadiq.

The issue of hadith needs to be given extra attention in our times because those who reject the institution of hadith altogether are on the rise as well as the neo-Mu’tazilah, who accept/reject hadiths solely based on their intellect. Their arguments carry no merit whatsoever, however, due to the fact that there is mass ignorance over the sciences of hadith, the meticulous details, and rigorous research that is required before a hadith can be declared reliable or not, I hope these notes help bring to light some of those details. These notes are by no means an exhaustive representation of the subject, thus, further study is necessary to truly grasp the material for those wanting to delve deeper into this subject.

I ask Allah for sincerity in the publication of these notes and that He reward me for trying to help bring dignity to the blessed words of the chosen one, Muhammad peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and honor to the tiresome efforts of hadith scholars by sharing my small contribution with the general public free of any cost.


Fiqh Maxims: Explanatory Notes on Sa’di’s Poem on al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyyah

I recently completed going through the explanation of Sh. Abdul-Rahman al-Sa’di’s poem on Islamic legal maxims (al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyyah), also known as fiqh maxims. The explanation was done in Arabic by none other than Sh. Waleed El-Maneesee, a well-known Hanbali scholar residing in Minnesota, United States. The recordings to the explanation are available for free access on his website. For those interested in studying it in English, there is a series available by Dr. Jamel Ben Ameur available here.

Sh. Sa’di’s poem (منظومة القواعد الفقهية) is popularly taught around the world to teach students basics of the theory of legal maxims in Islamic law. It is a genre of Islamic sciences that focuses on general rules of fiqh which can be applied to a wide variety of particular situations. These maxims have been used by Muslim jurists for centuries to give verdicts (fatwas). They assist in the matter of ijtihad because they organize the branches of fiqh and categorize cases and it is a must for every Muslim jurist to have knowledge of it.

They are often written in short but expressive statements. They tend to express at times the goals and objectives of the Shari’ah and this is why some scholars treat this subject under the category of objectives of Islamic law (maqasid). Their wording can be excerpts from the Qur’an or hadiths but in most cases reflect the phraseology of leading jurists and have been refined with the passing of time. The maxims are purposefully put in precise words in order to make them easy to remember and derive rulings without having to delve deeply into the texts. They are a sort of shortcut to same rulings that can be applied in multiple similar-like scenarios. You can refer to my write up of it here for further discussion of its definition with examples.