Primary Sources of Muslim Law

India is one of the oldest and most followed religions all over the world. As our preamble defines the term secularism, it hereby means that India is purely a secular country that respects all religion, language & caste, where more than 15% population being Muslims who regulate their activities according to All India Muslim Personal Law, Muslim law is a religious law and it applies to all such person who is Muslim by birth or proselytizing. Moreover, the personal Islamic Law’ is overall based on a man’s obligations and duties rather than his rights. This article mainly talks about four main sources of Islamic Law.

It aims to develop some of the concepts of Islamic thought and to analyze the distinct discipline and philosophies that shape the practice of Islam throughout the nation. There are four major Muslim schools of thought; therefore, each differs from their interpretations. The primary sources of Muslim law universally accepted by all Muslim communities; are the “Quran” and the “Sunnah”. It is moreover, they are silent that the secondary sources are to be used in the field, thereby the “Qiyas” (laws derived through analogical deduction -analogy) and the “Ijma” (consensus of scholars).                 :


In a broad sense, Muslim mean any person who is willing to submit to the will of the god shall be deemed as Muslim. Thereby, all the prophets including Prophet Mohammad are deemed as Muslim. Further, the Muslim Law has been originated from primary as well as secondary sources. Primary sources are such source which was directed by Prophet Mohammad. It is necessary to follow such sources in their respective order of priority, it is known as a formal source of law. Islamic laws are originally linked with the primary source. These sources deal with the needs of the individual in the Islamic society in the modern era. Most of the medieval Muslim jurists have decline arbitrary opinions, views, and instead developed the copious of the secondary source. It is well known as juristic philosophies, doctrine and principle to follow in the case of Primary sources (mainly, Quran and Sunny) are silent on such issues. The groundwork of Islamic Legal System was developed by Arab-jurists, the main head of the Islamic jurisprudence is to be founded at the pre-Islamic Arabian customs, usages and practices of the 7th century of the Christian era.

History of Islam

Time Period Before the Rise of Islam

As per the view of Muslim scholars. There were many problems raised in Arabic society before the rise of Islam in Saudi Arabia. The common problems such as Gambling, Female Infanticide, suppression of women, usury etc. In the ancient period, the condition of women was like an animal in Islam. Most of the customs at that time were inhuman and barbarous. Thereafter, the pre-Islamic [Arabic Period] is known as “Ayyam e Jahiliya”. “Ayyam e Jahiliye” is also known as the “Period of Ignorance”. During the medieval period of ignorance, “Prophet Mohammad” was born in Mecca (part of Saudi Arabia) in 570 AD. Prophet Muhammad’s father’s name was “Abdullah” and his mother’s name was “Amina”. Prophet Muhammad Childhood was really miserable. His father died before he took birth. Subsequently, when he was 6 years his mother also died. The condition was going to become worsened. He was raised through his grandfather “Abu Talib” and his uncle. Although he suffered financial problems, he was from ‘respectable “Quresh Tribe”

In the early time, Prophet Mohammad worked as a “Camel Caravan” for his uncle and he gained experience in commercial trade traveling to Syria. In a short period, he earned the reputation of a sincere and honest person. Moreover, he acquired the nickname of “Al-amin” (faithful or trustworthy).In the early 20th century, Mohammed began working with wealthy merchant women named ‘khadija ‘

Prophet Mohammad married four times in which three of them were widowed, but specifically for the educational purpose, we must know about his first and last wife.

Khadija was the first wife of Prophet Mohammed who was 15-year older to the prophet Mohammed. Khadiji was a wealthy merchant, she was influenced by Prophet Mohammed and they married. After getting married to khadija, the economic problems of Mohammed were sorted out.

Ayesha Begum was the last wife of Prophet Mohammed and only wife who was not widowed. She was the daughter of Mohammed’s friend i.e. “Abu Bakar”

Prophet Mohammed had 2 sons and 4 daughters and all the daughters died except his last daughter named “Fatima”.

Rise of Islam

Prophet Mohammed was much concerned about the evils of the Arabian society. After getting married to “khadija” he had sufficient time to think about the ways to eradicate the evils of the society. At the age of 40, he started to go mountain cave named “Hira”, for mediation where he thought about concept of the god, religious and various reforms of the society. One day when Prophet Mohammed was mediating in “Hira” cave he heard a queer voice. It has believed that the voice as belonging to “Angle Gabriel” who said divine communication or message of “Allah” to Mohammad. This was continued till the last breathe of Prophet Mohammad. Prophet Mohammad started preaching of Allah in their society. The first person who believes in Mohammad was his wife “Khadija”. In Mecca, the great majority of people totally opposed Mohammad’s preaching about Allah and his divine message in society. The situations become worsened and Prophet Mohammad decided to leave Mecca and he went to Madina in 622 A.D.

In Medina, Mohammad was welcomed by a group of people and his preaching was also appreciated in Madina. Most of the people in Madina started to become the followers of Prophet Mohammad. The journey from Mecca to medina was taken as holy mission and famously known as “Hezarat” (Flighty from Mecca to Madina)

Time Period after the Rise of Islam

After the death of Prophet Mohammad, there was arising a dispute over the succession of the Islamic head. There were became fourth Islamic head was famously known as “Calipah”

Abu Baker

It was first “Calipah” after the death of Prophet Mohammad in between 632 A.D. to 634 A.D. He was also the father in law of Mohammad through his daughter “Aisha”. During that period, Adu Baker was the first person who accepted Islam outside the family of Prophet Mohammad; he was just next to Mohammad Prophet.


He was also the father in law Prophet who was 2nd “Calipah” in-between 634 AD – 644 A.D.


The third Caliph was Uthman.


He was the son in law of Prophet Mohammad and was the last person who became Calipah.

Division of Shia and Sunni in Islam

Shia and Sunni are two incumbent sects of Islam religion. Both the sect follows Quran and other fundamentals of Islam. The dispute arose after the death of Prophet Mohammad because he died without declaring his successor. Due to this, the majority of people support “Abu baker” as his first successor” while the minority of person supports “Ali as a real successor of Prophet Mohammad”. This caused disputes among the followers of Islam.

 “Sunni” believed in the election method of choosing the successor of Islam while “Shia” believed to follow the blood relation in choosing the successor of Islam. “Shia” faiths in “Ali” and his descendants were the actual successor of Prophet Mohammad. The enormous majority of the Muslims in the world are Sunni, where countries like Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain have a shin majority. “Sunni” opposed “Shia” vice-versa to such extends which caused the onslaught activities to prove their superiority. Even the dispute was not resolved after 1400 A.D of death of Prophet Mohammad.  


These sources are classified in further two categories are as follows:-

Primary Sources of Muslim Law

Primary sources are such sources of law which the Prophet Mohammed himself directed to be the source of Muslim law. Therefore, these sources are of the highest quality and importance in their respective order. These sources are universally accepted and they are deemed as a primary source which means these sources shall have relied before any other source exists. The four incumbent sources of Muslim Laws are as follows:-

Sunna or Ahadis




Secondary sources of Muslim Law

From a legal point of view, there can only one source of law and it is Indian parliament and State legislation which are famously known as the law-making bodies of our Nation. Since the Muslim personal law relied on customs and practices of their religion. Hence, it is not possible to separate with them and frame laws which completely adverse to their religious beliefs. The four essential secondary sources of Muslim law

Judicial Decision



Equity, Just and Good Conscience: (Istihsn, Itislah & Istidal)

The primary sources of law are generally defined as the original material where the contents if that particular law are to be founded and are made available to the entire citizen who is covered under these sources.


The expression Quran is considered the first source of Muslim law. The word Quran is originated from the Arabic word called “Quraa” and it properly signifies “the reading” or that which ought to be read. The Quran is the holy book of Islam. It contains all the words of God which communicated to Prophet Mohammed though angel Gabriel It is working as a basis on the various structure of Islam rest upon and the expression Quran regulates the individual, secular, social and the spiritual life of the Muslim Law. It contains 6000 verses divided into 30 parts ad 114 chapters. The =versus were dealt in the following way:

200 verses deal with rules and principle of law

80 verses deals with family include marriage, divorce, maintenance etc.

Remaining verses deals with state and polity.

It has believed that prophet Mohammad received the commandment revealed at Mecca dealt with philosophical and theological issues i.e. study about religion and origin. The portion of the Quran was disclosed to Prophet Mohammad at medina is concerned with legal principles.

Sunna (Traditions and Ahadis)

The literal meaning of “Sunna” refers to as a trodden part, a procedure or way of action i.e. same kind of practice. It denotes some practice and precedent of the Prophet Mohammed, whatever the Prophet said or did without reference to god and is treated as his tradition. According to Muslim law, there are two types of revelation, i.e, manifest [Zahir] and internal [Batin]. Thus, manifest and express revelations were the important words of Allah and came to the knowledge of Prophet Mohammed through the angel “Gabriel”.

Such revelation becomes the incumbent part of “Sunna”. On the other hand, the internal revelation is those, where the Prophet Mohammed’s words and did not come from Allah such revelation formed as a part of Sunna. Quran consists of the first word of Allah whereas Sunna is a practice and the language of Prophet Mohammed

Izma [Consensus]

The term “IZMA” refers to a consensus in the agreement between all on the particular points of facts and laws. Those people who had knowledge of law here called “Mujtahids” jurist. When Quran and tradition could not supply any rule of law for a fresh problem, the jurist and the unanimously give their common opinion or unanimous decision and it was turned as “Ijma”.

 There are three types of Ijma

Ijma of companions

Ijma of jurist

Ijma of the people or masses.

Qiyas (Analogical deduction)

The expression “Qiyas” was derived from the termed “Hiaqish” which means ‘beat together’. In Arabic “Qiyas” means ‘measurement, accord and equality. The holy Quran was not capable of dealing with new emerging difficulties arising from contact with the outside world. To resolve this problem, the Muslim jurist commenced referring to “Quaran”, “Izma” “Sunna’ to compare the situation and reduced to answer to the problem based on some analogy. When the answer found, all the jurist together agree to it was called the “Qiyas”.

Conditions required to fulfill for a valid “Qiyas”

The source of Qiyas could be applied only to such texts which are capable to being extended. These texts shall not be resisting to a particular state of facts or rules which have specific references.

The analogies must not be derogatory with the fescue of the Quran and Sunni.

The process of Qiyas should be used to discover a particular point of law, but not to determine the meaning of the word given in the text.

It should not bring changes in law embodied.


It may further conclude that the superstructure of Islamic law has been based on Quranic verses and also, the traditional words of Prophet Mohammad. However, other sources of law were also helped in developing the sacred form of law. With the contribution of all sources of Islamic law, a précised and systematic concept of personal law of Muslims came into existence, which helps to govern the Muslim community.


  1. Dinshaw Mulla, Mulla Principles of Mohomedian Law (21st 2017)
  2. Paras diwan, Muslim Law in Modern India, 2016
  3. Khan, A.A. et. Encyclopaedia of Islamic Law: Concepts of Islamic Law. New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2006.
  4. Jain, MP, jaipur Law Journal, custom as a source of law, 97-130 at 104


  1. What is the history of Islam?
  2. Explain the time period before the risen of islam?
  3. What led the risen of Islam?
  4. What led the time period after the risen of Islam?
  5. What are the Primary sources of Muslim law detail analysis?
  6. Give a synopsis of Secondary Sources?

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