The Sufficient Summary on the Rules Derived from the Sources of Deen

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Ibn Hazm’s contribution to the rich tapestry of Islamic thought ranks no less to that of other famous polymaths like al-Ghazāli (1058 – 1111) and Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 – 1328).  The approach that Ibn Ḥazm  takes cannot be characterised as representing a madhab (legal school of thought) per se.  Rather, the principles and approach that he sought to outline represent more of a legal method; one that he sought to ensure is strictly based upon the texts of revelation: the Qur’ān and the authentically established Prophetic Sunnah.  That method, outlined in voluminous works of fiqh (jurisprudence) and Uṣul shouldn’t however be seen as an end product, but rather a starting point.

His primary work relating to Uṣul is entitled al-Ihkām fi-Usul al-Ahkām, which is often rendered into English as ‘Judgement on the Principles of Law.’  The abridgment of the four-volume Iḥkām is the shorter work which we have translated here: al-Nubdtha al-Kāfiyah fi-Uṣul al-Ahkām al-Deen – or, loosely rendered into English as: ‘The Sufficient Summary on the Rules Derived from the Sources of Deen.’  This shorter treatise seeks to encapsulate the central arguments which are outlined in the Iḥkām.

As with other translated works, we have tried to utilise a single-translation of the Qur’ān throughout.  In this regard, the translation is that produced by Professor M. A. S Abdel Haleem.  Mainly this is for ease of reading, but also to try and ensure, as far as it practically possible, that there is a level of consistency to the translated meaning of each verse as it appears in context.  On occasion, some of the quoted verses are expanded to provide greater contextual clarity.  As for the ḥadith, where the matn (text) or only a portion of it is cited, the full wording with isnād is provided in the footnotes.  The original text only has a handful of named chapters, the remainder are delineated with the word ‘faṣl’ (chapter).  Rather than leaving these the same, or just having the word ‘chapter’, we have introduced new headings to enable greater readability and navigation of the text.

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Included below, is the introductory chapters from the translated text.

The eminent Shaykh, the faqih (legal jurist), the Imām – al-Ḥāfiz, al-Wazir, Abu Muḥammad Ali ibn Aḥmad ibn Sa’eed ibn Ḥazm al-Andalusi, al-Qurṭubi may Allah be pleased with him has said:

All praise is due to Allah, who created us giving sustenance, who bestowed the blessing of hearing, sight and discerning hearts.  We beseech him to make us among those who are grateful to Him.  May Allah grant the most complete, excellent blessings upon the master of all Messengers sent to mankind, Muḥammad, who is His slave and Messenger.  Unto him are the greatest of greetings from his Lord, then from us, and thereafter upon his wives, family and his aḥāba and the Tābi’een.  There is no might or power save unto Allah, al-‘Ali al-‘Azeem.

To proceed:

May Allah the Almighty grant us and you, with success to discharge the obligations which He has placed upon us, providing sanctuary from undertaking that which He has deemed unlawful.  When we wrote our extensive book on Uṣul, we outlined the viewpoints and sophisms of those who oppose us.[1]  With the help of Allah the Almighty we have made clear the demonstrative proofs concerning that.  We asked Allah for guidance, imploring Him for His help in making the truth manifestly clear and then decided to summarise these points in a short book that would be easy to comprehend and memorise.  And, Inshā’Allah, He aza’ wa’jala, has command in overlooking the contents of the large work on this matter – asbunallah wa ni’mal-wakeel (Allah is Sufficient for us, and He is the best disposer of affairs).


(You must) all know, may Allah have mercy upon you all, that our Lord did not propel us into the temporal world that it should be our permanent abode of residence; rather that it should be a temporary stopgap on our journey, a fortified stopping place. What is desired from us is only that we perform the obligations which our Lord the Almighty has imposed upon us, which He sent to us with His Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him. For this (rationale) He created us, for this reason He settled us in this temporal abode, then (we are) to be transferred from it to one of the two eternal abodes.

إن الأبرار لفي نعيم وإن الفجار لفي جحيم

The good will live in bliss, and the wicked will burn in the Fire.[2]

Then He the Almighty expressly clarified who the pious are and who the wicked are, by saying:

ومن يطع الله ورسوله يدخله جنات تجري من تحتها الأنهار خالدين فيها وذلك الفوز العظيم

ومن يعص الله ورسوله ويتعد حدوده يدخله نارا خالدا فيها وله عذاب مهين

Allah will admit those who obey Him and His Messenger to gardens graced with flowing streams, and there they will stay–that is the supreme triumph!  But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and overstep His limits will be consigned by Allah to the Fire, and there they will stay– a humiliating torment awaits them.[3]

Indeed, we must ask – How does one obey, how does one disobey?  We find that He the Almighty has said:

ما فرطنا في الكتاب من شيء

We have missed nothing out of the Book.[4]

ومت أنزلنا عليك الكتاب إلا لتبين لهم الذي اختلفوا فيه وهدى ورحمة لقوم يؤمنون

We have sent down the Scripture to you only to make clear to them what they differ about, and as guidance and mercy to those who believe.[5]

يا أيها الذين أمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولى الأمر منكم فان تنازعتم في شيء فردوه الى الله والرسول ان كنتم تؤمنون بالله واليوم الآخر

O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from amongst you; then if you differ about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day.[6]

اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي ورضيت لكم الاسلام دينا

Today I have perfected your Deen for you, completed My blessing upon you, and chosen as your Deen as Islam.[7]

So, praise be to Allah, we are certain that the Deen which our Lord made obligatory upon us and which He made our only salvation from the fire is made clear in its entirety in the noble Qurʾān, in the Prophetic Sunnah of His Messenger peace and blessings be upon him, and in the ijmā’ (consensus) of the community, and that the Deen has been completed; there is nothing to be added or subtracted from it.  He made us certain that all this Deen is preserved and kept accurate, for Allah the Almighty has said:

انا نحن نزلنا الذكر وانا له لحافظون

Indeed, we have revealed the dhikr and indeed are its preserver.[8]

It is true with a certainty which leaves no room for doubt that it is not permissible for anyone to issue a legal opinion, render judgment, or act in a matter of Deen, except on the basis of a text from the noble Qur’an, a Ṣaḥīḥ (authentic) naṣṣ (text) of a judgment from the Messenger of Allah or a confirmed ijmā’ (consensus) of those in authority over us from which not one of them dissents.  It is true that whoever forbids something or makes it obligatory, [his opinion] will not be accepted without substantive proof.  No one but Allah the Almighty can make something obligatory or forbid it. It is not permissible to transmit information about Allah except on the basis of a report originating with Him the Almighty.  As for what is in the Qur’ān and what is in the Prophetic Sunnah, and what is permissible, that requires one who makes (matters) lawful, prohibition requires one who prohibits, and obligation requires one who makes obligatory.

There is no one who makes lawful, no one who prohibits, and no one who makes obligatory except Allah the Almighty, Creator and Possessor of all – there is no god but He.


[1] Ibn Ḥazm’s primary work relating to Uṣul which is alluded to here is al-Ihkām fi-Usul al-Ahkām, which is often rendered into English as ‘Judgement on the Principles of Law.’

[2] Qur’ān, 82: 13/14

[3] Qur’ān, 4: 13/14

[4] Qur’ān, 6: 38

[5] Qur’ān, 16: 64.

[6] Qur’ān, 4: 59.  Only the latter tail-end of the verse is cited in the Arabic text, but included here for the sake of completeness.

[7] Qur’ān, 5: 3.  A larger proportion of the verse is quoted in the translation here for contextual clarity.

[8] Qur’ān, 15: 9

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