As part of the course requirements for most classes, Mishkah students are required to write a research paper or give an oral presentation at the end of each semester. This exercise is essential in enabling students to reexamine materials they have studied throughout the course and explore subjects of their interest in more detail. At the university level, mastering research skills and having the ability to consolidate information effectively is critical for all students. To highlight the work our students have done and to also encourage others in their work, we will occasionally feature student research papers selected by our instructors. Our first featured paper is by Dr. Ronney Abaza. It was submitted for the course Fundamentals of Fiqh, taught by Dr. Muhammad Rahawan.
In addition to his studies at Mishkah, Dr. Abaza is a urologist who specializes in robotic surgery. He lives in Ohio and is married with 3 children.
INTRODUCTION: Why Ordinary Muslims Should Comprehend Basic Concepts of Usul al-Fiqh
The field of Usul al-Fiqh is unknown to most ordinary Muslims, meaning those other than scholars and students of knowledge. While it is true that most Muslims do not require an in-depth understanding of Usul al-Fiqh because they will not be required themselves to make jurisprudential verdicts, there are benefits that everyday Muslims can derive from understanding the basic concepts of this field.
In contrast to Usul al-Fiqh, every Muslim requires a working knowledge of fiqh itself as it pertains to his or her practice of Islam. Fiqh represents the rules of Islamic Law as derived from evidences in the primary sources of the Shari’ah, the Qur’an and Sunnah. Therefore, Muslims must have a practical understanding of fiqh as it pertains to their daily practice and application of Islam in every aspect of their lives. Since Usul al-Fiqh is the branch of Islamic knowledge that deals with the roots of Islamic law, meaning the principals and methodology by which the law (fiqh) is derived from its sources, it is not essential to the everyday practice of Islam and is beyond the purview of the typical Muslim’s concerns. Nevertheless, while the ordinary Muslim will never undertake in contributing to or analyzing fiqh rather than being an “end-user” of fiqh, a basic understanding of the field of Usul al-Fiqh is still of great benefit for any Muslim as will be investigated and explained herein.