Understanding the Rulings in the Qur’an

Rulings in the quran

Understanding the rulings (Ahkam) in the Qur’an requires us to take a step back and actually look at Islamic Law, the system which is divinely inspired by Allah through the Qur’an and Sunnah. It governs the entire life of a Muslim, it leaves no stone unturned, and it covers politics, economics, social matters, criminal law, acts worship and much more.

Islamic Law has three main elements
  1. Legal Theory (Usool al-Fiqh)
  2. Substantive Law (furu al-fiqh)
  3. Application (al-qada or al-ifta)

Legal theory is the exposition of the theories of Islamic Law in relation to its interpretation of rules, sources etc. It posits that law is divine in nature and in substance, and that there is a ‘correct’ answer for every imaginable question that is contained in the Sharia. The Sharia, however as divine law is transcendent and holds the solution for all of mankind’s problems.  

The substantive Law are the branches of fiqh, or fiqh in action. When we look through the Qur’an and Sunnah we see various aspects of law such as family law, inheritance law, criminal law and even business law.

Application is the administration of this law. Once we have understood the shariah and fiqh, then through a process known as ijtihad we can produce results, produce law.

Legal theory is further broken down into three major components:
  1. Sources, which are the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Quran is divine revelation. Sunnah is the words, actions and tacit approvals of the prophet.

The Quran is the main source of Islamic Law, Sharia. It contains the rules by which the Muslim world is governed (or should be governed) and forms the basis for relations between man and Allah, between individuals, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, as well as between man and things which are part of creation. The Sharia contains the guidelines by which a Muslim community is organised and governed, and it provides the means to resolve conflicts among individuals and between the individual and the state.

There is complete agreement that the primary source of Law is the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an is the speech of Allah which was revealed onto the Prophet Muhammad through Al-Wahy, Jibreal, it consists of 114 chapters starting from al-Fatiha and ending with An Nas. This can be viewed in more detail on Islamic Courses Online.

The Sunnah is the way of the Prophet Muhammad. It includes everything he said, did and approved of. We know the Sunnah from the statements called Hadiths that have been handed down from the companions of the Prophet. Allah informs us about the role of the Sunnah with regards to understanding of the Quran,

We have sent down to you, O Prophet, the Reminder (Qur’an), so that you may explain to people what has been revealed for them, and perhaps they will reflect.”[1]

So, the only way a person can understand the Qur’an according to the Qur’an is through the explanation of the Prophet Muhammad and that is known as the Sunnah, which is found in the books of Hadith. Without the sunnah, there is no way a person can understand the Qur’an, some may claim they are more loyal to the Qur’an by not following the Sunnah but this statement is totally false. No Sunnah equals no Islam.


  1. Methods. Such as Ijma and Qiyas.

Ijma is the agreement of the Mujtahids of this ummah after the death of the Prophet on a Shari ruling. The very fact it’s described as an agreement, reflects there are no difference of opinions in this issue. These issues are taken as fact, as there is complete agreement upon them. The next question is ‘whose opinions are taken in to consideration?’, only the mujtahids, those who are qualified in this field, which excludes the opinion of the common folk or scholars of a lower standing. This consensus has to be from the Muslim Ummah, not any other community, the consensus must be a Muslim one. It is also conducted after the death of the Prophet as during his life, there is no need to seek anyone’s opinion in the presence of the Prophet. Finally, this agreement has to be on shari Rulings, so we exclude agreements made on a rational or human ruling, which has nothing to do with the matter under discussion.

  1. Principles. This is a list of Qawa’id such as maslahah, Darurah, takahar

The sources are what constitute the shairah.

The methods and the principles put together constitute fiqh. Now we have fiqh and shariah which is extracted from the primary sources Qur’an and Sunnah. Now we need to bring one who is qualified and able to deal with Shariah and fiqh and extract out relevant rulings, law. This person is known as the mujtahid, it is he who then depending on his position will either pass a legal judgement in court as a judge or as a mufti giving a non binding legal verdict.

These verdicts are what formulate Ahkam and these are applied and become Islamic Law. Whatever Hukm the judge passes based on this procedure must then be enforced by law enforcement officers.


 In conclusion, this is a simplistic model of Islamic law, it is good overview of the different components of what makes up Islamic law and how they all tie in together. I encourage you to view classes on Islamic courses online for further studies.

[1] Surah An-Nahl 16:44


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