This is actually one of the most powerful features of Islam, however it is one of the most forgotten principles especially by Muslims themselves.
Islam is not just a package of strict rules that Muslims have to apply regardless of their location, social and economic conditions, culture or time frame.
Shariah is the Islamic Law – the disciplines and principles that govern the behavior of a Muslim individual towards all his surroundings whether humans, animals..etc. The sources of Islamic Shariah are divided into two major parts namely main sources and secondary sources.
Rulings in the Quran comes in three types:
1. Belief related Rulings:
These are related to belief which handles believing in God, HIS angels, HIS books, HIS prophets and the afterlife.
2. Manners related Rulings:
These are related to manners and the righteous conduct towards everything around us as well as clarify what a Muslim is not allowed to do.
3. Practical Rulings:
These are related with all aspects of life that a Muslim faces like contracts, marriage, divorce..etc. They are divided into
The General rule is that with regards some worshipping acts and some chosen cases like inheritance, the Holy Quran gives only general rules and broad lines, but leaves the detail and applications to the Islamic nation to legislate what best fits its conditions as long as it stays within the broad lines that the Holy Quran specified.
This is a major issue that shows the vitality and adaptability of Islamic laws. Some Muslims whether fundamentalists or whatever they call themselves seem to have deliberately ignored this simple rule. When you see a Muslim trying to apply the laws that our Noble prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, more than 1400 years ago-provided of course that these laws fall in the category of broad line cases-then understand that the problem is in his brain not in Islamic Shariah. ?
Exceptional and dedicated brilliant scholars travelled tirelessly to collect thousands of narrations and distinguish the true words of prophetic wisdom from those corrupted by weak memories, from forgeries by unscrupulous liars, and from the statements of the large number of Ulama (scholars), the Companions and those who followed their way. All of this was achieved through precise attention to the words narrated, and detailed familiarity with the biographies of the thousands of reporters of hadith. Expert scholars of hadith assess the narrations and sort out the genuine from the mistaken and fabricated, forms the subject matter of the science of hadith.
So every hadith has a certain classification based on its number of reporters, their reliability, its reference, nature of the text and other factors. These factors led to different classifications of Hadith.
For example According to the reliability and memory of the reporters there are four categories which are:
The idea here is not to give you a headache or to transform you to a scholar in the science of Hadith, the idea is to give you a glimpse at how much effort Muslim scholars had done to guarantee the authenticity of any Hadith and also to make you realize that NOT every Hadith you read is authentic, Hadiths have a classification from 100% authentic to fabricated (0% authenticity). This is very important because some people just copy hadiths from Islamic books like Sahih Bukhari and swear that it is there from the sahih Bukhari or Sahih Muslim (The 2 most authentic Hadith books) but he does not tell you the classification of this hadith which is a famous trick because these books have very little weak hadiths but then the 2 books show the classification of these hadiths as weak. So remember when anyone shows you a Hadith don't just ask him from which book but also ask him about the classification of this hadith in the named book because this is where the trick is.
I will give you here some of the fabricated yet wildly used Hadiths (some are even used by Muslims themselves and they don't know it is fabricated). Some examples are:
1- They claim that our noble prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "Obedience to a woman's advice causes regret" . Another version or similar hadith says: "Consult women [ listen to what women have to say ] and act contrary"
Both hadiths are classified as a forgery, see Shaikh Abdullah Faisal: "100 fabricated hadith", p. 41 [ Darul - Islam Publishers ]. The Shayk writes: "This fabricated Hadith has another wording which goes as follows: 'Listen to what women have to say then do the opposite' [ Related by Ibn Abu Haatim 2/184 ]. This khabar is similar to hadith 13 in that they are both detrimental to the Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood. They enhance a feeling of disharmony, disrespect and distrust between men and women.
Moreover this fabricated khabar contradicts the authentic traditions of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Among such traditions is an incident, which took place at the treaty of Al-Hubaibiyyah.
The year 6 AH of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and one thousand four hundred of his companions left Madinah for Makkah with the intention of performing Umrah. The unbelievers of Quraish in their haughtiness and pride prevented the Muslims from entering into Makkah. Consequently the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, encamped at the valley called Al-Hudaibiyyah and signed a peace treaty with the unbelievers of Quraish.
One of the points in the treaty is that there will be no more wars between them for ten years and that the Muslims must return to Makkah the following year for their pilgrimage instead of performing it the year 6 AH as they had planned. The companions of the prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, were deeply offended by the terms and conditions of the treaty and deemed it an insult to them. Especially since they had to return to Al-Madinah without entering Makkah, which they had set out for.
After agreeing with the terms and conditions of the treaty the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, commanded his companions to perform the rituals of Umrah at the valley of Hudaibiyyah. They all heard him but not a single person got up to carry out his order. So he repeated the command three times and still not a single companion stood up in order to comply with the order.
After seeing that no one was prepared to obey him he went to his wife, Um Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, and told her what had transpired between him and his companions. Upon hearing his complaint she told him to go out to them without speaking to any of them and that he perform the rituals of Umrah for them to see. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, took her advice and acted upon it promptly. When he did that all companions followed and did as he told them. [ see also: Al-Bidaaya Wan-Nihaaya by Ibn Kathir Vol. 4, p. 178 ].
2- "Whose prayer does not stop him from evil and sins he will only get further away from Allah." The hadith is definitely not authentic.
3- "A Sultan (The Ruler) is the shadow of Allah on the earth..."
4- "There is goodness in me and my Ummah until the day of Judgment."
And much more of these fabricated or very weak Hadiths that people use as a -definitely correct- hadith. Also do not forget that some hadiths were related to a specific incident in history and not intended as a general rule for all occasions, these hadiths too are sometimes taken out of context and presented to people as an Islamic general ruling when it was actually a comment related to a certain incident.
Some people, either out of ignorance or wickedness, use weak or fabricated Hadiths (even if taken from Sahih Bukhari or Sahih Muslim) to justify their deeds or to convince people with something that is a lie in order to drive them to react in a certain way. So always be aware and check the book, the classification and even the translation if you meet a similar case.
For example the case of Hijab (the veil) which is definitely obligatory on Muslim women but for Niqab the consensus of Muslim scholars is that it is NOT obligatory.
From the website of the Egyptian Dar Al-iftaa, they issued the following fatwa that reaches the result below. You can read the whole Fatwaa at :
What is the Islamic Ruling for women covering their face
The fatwa ends with: "In accordance with the above we side with the majority opinion which is the permissibility of a woman exposing her face and hands and the covering of everything else. We also are of the opinion that if the niqab becomes a sign for the fracturing of the Muslim community, or a sign for religiosity then its ruling changes from one of a recommended act (mandub) and a permissible act (mubah) to one of reprehensible innovation (bida) especially if it is used for things which God has not ordained on us and God is most high and all knowledgeable." ?
This is again one of the most vivid proofs for Islam's adaptability. The Quran and Sunnah are necessarily limited in the number of issues that they can directly address. At the same time, the number of new occurrences and expected future occurrences knows no limit. There is no way for Islamic legal injunctions to be established for every new development and every possible transaction except by way of applying the methods of reason, at the forefront of which is that of analogy. Analogy is the most widely applied and versatile sources for extrapolating specific injunctions to deal with new issues confronted by Islamic Law. ?
For example, the texts that deal with injunctions pertaining to an agreement of sale are more than those that deal with a lease agreement. Consequently, the jurists, by way of analogy, took many of the injunctions referring to sales and applied them to lease agreements due to the fact leasing is essentially the sale of rights and benefits. ?
Likewise, the texts deal at length with the injunctions pertaining to the guardians of orphaned minors, detailing their rights, responsibilities, and capabilities. The jurists, by way of analogy, applied the same injunctions to the executors of endowments, due to the similarities in their duties. They also derived many of the injunctions pertaining to endowments themselves from those that the texts had established for bequests. ?
2. Customary Practice ('Urf): The Arabic word 'urf refers to that which is well known, widely accepted, and regarded as correct among those of sound mind. According to our definition, it should be clear that something should not be considered customary practice if it is not consistently applicable to all or most of the members of a given population. ?
The Divine Law, in its civil injunctions, seeks only to provide for the best interests of the people and to preserve their rights; thus, it reaffirms those aspects of customary practice that are in harmony with this objective and with its methods and principles. ?
From the above discussion we conclude that:
1- The differences among Islamic scholars concerning a certain ruling is a MERCY from God. If there is a consensus among Islamic scholars on a certain ruling then any Muslim HAS to follow what they all agreed upon, but if have differences, the Muslim has the right to choose between their given opinions according to what best fits his conditions. ?
2- The sources of Islamic laws are numerous and they all integrate brilliantly to give the Islamic laws the capability of having a fixed core based on the Quran and Sunnah but flexible ends using tools like consensus, analogy...etc. all contribute to making Islamic laws fully adaptable to any society, any culture and any time. That is what we mean by Islamic Vitality.