Some Lessons from Jurisprudence (Fiqh)
Lesson One: Introduction
The study of jurisprudence is one of the most extensive studies in Islam. Its history is older than all the other Islamic studies. It has been studied on a very wide scale throughout the whole of that time. So many jurisprudents have appeared in Islam that their numbers cannot be counted.
The Word Jurisprudence (fiqh) in the Quran and the Traditions
The words fiqh and tafaqquh, both meaning "profound understanding", have been often used in the Quran and in the Traditions. In the Holy Quran we have been told: "Why should not a company from every group of them go forth to gain profound understanding (tafaqquh) in religion and to warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware. " (9:122)
In the Traditions, the Holy Prophet has told us: "Whoever from my nation learns forty Traditions; God will raise him as a faqih (jurisprudent) an alim (a man of 'ilm or knowledge)."
We do not know for sure if the 'ulema and fuzala, the learned and distinguished, of the Prophet's companions were called fuqaha (jurisprudents), but it is certain that this name was applied to a group since the time of those who had not witnessed the Prophet but had witnessed those who had (tabi'in).
Seven of the tabi'in were called 'the seven jurisprudents'. The year 94 A.H. which was the year of the departure from this world of Imam Ali ibn Husein (d,) and the year in which Sa'id ibn Masib and Orwat ibn Zubayr of the "seven jurisprudents" and Sa'id ibn Jabir and others of the jurisprudents of Medina also passed away, was called the 'year of the jurisprudents'. Thereafter the word fuqaha was gradually given to those with knowledge of Islam, especially of the laws of Islam.
The holy Imams have repeatedly made use of these words. They have commanded some of their companions to profound understanding (taffaqquh) or have termed them as a master of jurisprudence or fuqaha (the plural of faqih, a jurisprudent). The prominent pupils of the Imams during that same period were known as Shi'ite fuqaha.
The word jurisprudence (fiqh) in the terminology of the 'ulema