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.

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1 Comment

  1. fshareef says:

    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?

    -farhan

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