The Sufficient Tract

Introduction

For those actively looking to reinvigorate Islamic discourse, the works of Ibn Ḥazm (d. 1064 CE) are invaluable.  The approach that he 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 is strictly based upon the texts of revelation: the Qur’ān and the 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.

Ibn Ḥazm’s primary work relating to Usul is al-Ihkam fi-Usul al-Ahkam, which is often rendered into English as ‘Judgement on the Principles of Law.’  The abridgment of the Iḥkām is the shorter work which is entitled: al-Nubdtha al-Kafiyah fi-Usul al-Ahkam al-Deen – or in English, ‘The Sufficient Tract on the Rules Derived from the Sources of Deen.’

We present here a translation of selected chapters from al-Nubdtha al-Kafiyah.  Aside from the opening untitled chapter, the selection focuses upon areas concerning ḥadith.  It is our intention to incrementally include further chapters periodically, much like we have done with Kitāb al-Ṣalāh from al-Muḥalla.


Chapter 1.

All know, may Allah have mercy on you, 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 Exalted has imposed upon us, which He sent to us with His Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him. For this [purpose] 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. [1]

Then He the Exalted 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. [2]

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

ما فرطنا في الكتاب من شيء

We have missed nothing out of the Book. [3]

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.[4]

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. [5]

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.[6]

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 Exalted has said:

انا نحن نزلنا الذكر وانا له لحافظون

Indeed, we have revealed the dhikr and indeed are its preserver.[7]

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 Exalted 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, may He be exalted.  As for what is in the Qur’ān and what is in the Prophetic Sunnah, and what is permissible, that requires one who makes 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 Exalted, creator and possessor of all – there is no god but He.

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Endnotes

[1] Qur’ān, 82: 13/14

[2] Qur’ān, 4: 13/14

[3] Qur’ān, 6: 38

[4] Qur’ān, 16: 64.

[5] 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.

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

[7] Qur’ān, 15: 9

 

 

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