In this section, we will review all the terms we have come across so far. How many can you remember?  Test yourself by covering the definitions on the right hand side.

Generation of Sam’iGeneration of “listeners”, eyewitnesses, Companions
Generation of Jam’iGeneration of “gatherers”, collectors (of hadith), Successors of the Companions
Tabi’unFollowers of the Companions of the Prophet
Tabi’u al-Tabi’inFollowers of the Successors of the Companions of the Prophet
Fiqh         Literally, deep understanding; technically, Islamic Jurisprudence
Usul al-Fiqh         Literally, the roots of Islamic Jurisprudence; technically, the study of the principles, proofs and methodologies through which Islamic rulings are inferred
IjtihadJuristic reasoning, to deduce rulings that are not explicitly stated in the Qur’an and Sunnah
Mujtahid A distinguished jurist; one who is qualified to engage in ijtihad
Madhhab             A school of juristic thought. School of legal theory or law
Fatwa      A religious answer, verdict or ruling given by a mujtahid or a mufti
Faqih       A specialist in Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh)
Mufti       A scholar authorised to give specific religious answers or verdicts (fatwas) for the people of a geographical area
Bid’ah                  Innovations, usually blameworthy innovations in religion, or heresy
Ahkam al-Shar‘iyyahValue-judgments or rulings of the Shari’ah


  1. List the 3 main historical phases in the evolution of Usul al-Fiqh and their main topics and contributions to the field.
  2. Which came first, Fiqh or Usul al-Fiqh, and why?
  3. Would it be correct to describe Imam Shafi’i as the founder of Usul al-Fiqh?
  4. List the 4 major Sunni Imams in their chronological order.

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