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Evolution of Fiqh

Evolution of Fiqh

By Dr. Bilal Philips


A little over a year has passed since the second edition of this book was published, and, by God’s grace, copies are no longer available for distribution. However, the public demand for the book has progressively increased, especially since its disappearance from the bookstores. My impressions concerning the need throughout the Muslim world for the clarifications and recommendations contained in the text have proven true. Not merely because the book has been relative commercial success, but because of the very positive intellectual response which I have received from those who has read it. In fact, in order to make the information contained in the text available to an even wider audience, some readers have already undertaken a Tamil translation of the book, and an Urdu translation has also been commissioned. Consequently, I felt obliged to reprint the book, in order to meet the growing commercial demand for the book.

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Due to technical problems faced in the first edition which caused the print on some of the pages to be faded, I decided to re- typeset the whole text. This also gave me an opportunity to apply the transliteration scheme more carefully throughout the text than in the first edition. I also changed the title of the book from Evolution of the Madh-habs to The Evolution of Fiqh (Islamic Law & The Madh- habs) in order to further clarify the subject matter of the book. With the exception of chapter one (The First Stage), which has been almost totally rewritten, only a few changes have beenmade within the text itself: corrections where necessary and improvements where possible. However, with regards to the footnotes, there have been quite a few modifications. All the Hadeeths mentioned in the text have been thoroughly referenced to existing English translations, with the help of brother Iftekhar Mackeen. As for thoseHadeeths mentioned in the book which are not found in Saheeh al-Bukhaaree of Saheeh Muslim, I have endeavored to have them all authenticated in order to remove any doubts in the reader’s mind as to their reliability and the conclusions based on them. Likewise, Hadeeths

which were alluded to in the text have been quoted in the footnotes and or referenced. There have also been some cosmetic changes, like the improved cover design and the reduction of the size of the book, all of which I hope will make this edition somewhat more attractive than its predecessor.

In closing, I ask Almighty Allah to bless this effort by making it reach those who may most benefit from it, and by adding it to my scale of good deeds on the day of Judgement.

Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips

Riyadh, August 23rd, 1990


The overall purpose of this book is to acquaint the reader with the historical factors behind the formulation of Islamic law (Figh), in order that he or she may better understand how and why the various schools of Islamic law (Madh-habs)’ came about. It is hoped that this understanding will in turn, provide a basis for overcoming the petty differences and divisions which occur when present-day followers of different schools of people without definite schools try to work together. Thus, another aim of this book is to provide a theoretical framework for the reunification of the Madh- habs and an ideological basis for Islamic community work free from the divisive effects of Madh-hab factionalism.

The pressing need for this book can easily be seen in the dilemma of convert Muslims. In the course of being educated in the

1 Madh-hab is derived from the verb Dhahaba which means to go. Madh- hab literally means a way of going or simply a path. The position of an outstanding scholar on a particular point was also referred to as his Madh- hab (the path of his ideas or his opinion). Eventually, it was used to refer to the sum total of a scholar’s opinions, whether legal or philosophical. Later it was used to denote, not only the scholar’s opinion, but also that of his students and followers.

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