The science of legal theory (usul al-fiqh) studies how to infer the rulings of Sacred Law directly from the Qur’an and sunna. This course will clear your confusions over (1) the role of scholarly consensus (ijma’) in preserving Islam; (2) how the Sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was preserved; (3) and the role of human reason in interpreting the Qur’an and Sunna. Since the Qur’an and Sunna are both in Arabic, some knowledge of Arabic, however, is a highly recommended prerequisite to this course. But the instructor makes every effort to explain things in a way that can be understood by English speakers without any knowledge of Arabic

Curricular Context
  • This is a first-level course in Step Two

  • Complete Step One before taking this course

Course Outline

Week 1 Lesson 27 – What can be inferred from the fact  that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not do
Week 2


Lesson 28 – Abrogation is Possible and it Actually Happened

Lesson 29 – Abrogation of Qur’anic Commands and Prohibitions

Week 3



Lesson 30 – Kinds of New Rulings After Abrogation

Lesson 31 – Abrogation by the Qur’an and Abrogation by the Sunna

Week 4


Lesson 32 – Evidentiary Conflict and Reconciliation
Week 5


Lesson 33 – Scholarly Consensus of the Muslim Umma is Never Wrong

Lesson 34 – Scholarly Consensus is the Impenetrable Fortress of Islam

Week 6


Lesson 35 – Explicit and Implicit Scholarly Consensus

Lesson 36 – Ijtihad of a Companion

Week 7


Lesson 37 – Isnad is the Distinction of the Muslim Umma

Lesson 38 – Kinds of Transmitted Reports

Week 8


Lesson 39 – Mursal Hadiths

Lesson 40 – How Hadiths Were Transmitted

Week 9


Lesson 41 – Human Reason and the Sacred Law

Lesson 42 – Kinds of Legal Analogy

Week 10


Lesson 43 – The Initially Presumed Ruling of Sacred Law

Lesson 44 – The Presumption of Continuity

Week 11


Lesson 45 – The Precedence-Order of Legal Evidence
Week 12


 Lesson 46 – The Conditions of Ijtihad

Lesson 47 – Following Qualified Scholarship

Lesson 48 – Is Every Mujtahid Correct?

What You Will Learn:

  • legal theory is and why it needs to be studied

  • Learn how to interpret the Qur’an and Sunna

  • Memorize the definitions of key terms in the science of Islamic legal theory

  • Appreciate the depth of scholarship of all four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence

  • Apply the techniques of Islamic legal theory to gain clarity on contemporary religious debates about religious reform, the preservation of the Sunna, and the role of human reason in interpreting the Quran and Sunna

Course Requirements:

  • Previous study of several courses in Sacred Law (fiqh) is recommended.
  • Familiarity with the Arabic language is highly recommended

Course Format: 12 downloadable lessons, 3 live sessions.

About the Course Text

This course is a contemporary explanation of al-Waraqat, a primer on Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh) by Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni (d. 478 A.H. / 1085 C.E.). Imam al-Juwayni was an imam (i.e., someone who is taken as an exemplar) of the Islamic sciences in the fullest sense of the word: he authored multi-volume seminal works in Shafi‘i jurisprudence, Islamic theology, and Islamic legal theory, that became the basis for all future work in each science. His al-Waraqat is a short work that brings his vast scholarship in the science of Islamic legal theory down to the level of an absolute beginner. Ever since it was written almost a thousand years ago, students of the Shafi‘i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools have successfully used it to begin their study of Islamic legal theory. A translation of the course text is provided as part of the course materials.

Significant Dates

Registration Opens: September 30, 2019

Registration Closes: November 25, 2019

Note: Course material will be available on the first day of classes, October 21, 2019.

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“Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward”– The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)