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November 2005
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Usool ul-Fiqh
By Shaykh Abdur Rahman Ibn Nasir As-Sa’di

From the texts of the Book and the Sunnah are those which are aam (general)

The asl governing kalaam (speech) is that it is to be taken upon its haqeeqah (literal sense). So it is not to be turned away from it to its majaaz (figurative meaning) - if we accept this - except when it is impossible to employ its haqeeqah (literal meaning) Al-Haqaa‘iq (literal meanings) are of three types:

1. Shar’iyyah (that which is defined by the Sharee’ah), 2. lughawiyyah (that which is defined by language) and 3. urfiyyah (that which is defined by customary usage).

So whatever ruling the Shaari’ (Lawgiver) has defined, then it is obligatory to return it to the Sharee’ah definition. However, what the Lawgiver has ruled, but not defined, sufficing by its apparent linguistic meaning, then it is obligatory to return it to its linguistic meaning. But whatever has not been defined, neither in the Sharee’ah, nor in the language; then it is obligatory to refer it back to the habits of the people, and their customary usage. The Shaari’ (Lawgiver) may clearly specify to return these matters to ’urf (customary usage); such as commanding the good, living well with one’s wife, and other similar matters.

From the texts of the Book and the Sunnah are those which are ’aam (general); which is defined as that word which is inclusive of many ajnaas (categories), anwaa’ (types) and afraad (individuals). This majority of the texts are of this nature. Other texts are khaas (specific), and are indicative of only some categories, types and individuals. Thus, if there does not exist any contradiction between the ’aam and the khaas texts, then each of them are independently acted upon. However, if a contradiction is presumed, then the ’aam is specified and delineated by the khaas.