“Fiqh” is an Arabic word linguistically meaning “to know; to understand; fully comprehension in any subject.”
As an Islamic term, fiqh translated as “Islamic jurisprudence” means “to know Islamic laws about ibadat (acts of worship), jazaa (punishment) and muamalat(dealings and transactions) with detailed proves. It is also described as “deep and fully understanding to comprehend the purposes of words and acts.”
In the early days of Islam that is the age of the four caliphs and tabi’in (followers of the sahaba), the term “fiqh” denoted “knowledge in Islam” in general. However, over time, it has obtained the meaning “knowledge of acts including ibadat (acts of worship), muamalat and uqubat (punishment).
Imam Abu Hanifa described fiqh as “to know the rulings that are for and against.” While Imam Shafi said “to know the rulings related to acts and sharia (Islamic laws) derived from the sources.”
Islamic fiqh reached its recent concept after some processes:
The period of Our Prophet (pbuh): In this era, the essential sources of fiqh that are the holy Quran and the blessed sunnah of the beloved Prophet (pbuh) emerged.
The period of Sahaba (companions): This is the era which the ayahs and hadiths about ahkam (Islamic laws and orders) were explained and interpreted by the blessed sahaba.
The period of mujtahideen imams: It is the era that the fiqh issues started to be compiled and prominent mujtahids emerged. This is the development and advance period of the Islamic fiqh.
The main features of Islamic fiqh are;
The source of fiqh is based on revelation (wahy). Rulings which are clearly expressed in the Quran and the hadiths are binding for any believer and do not need to be confirmed and can never be changed.
For issues which do not have any clear ruling in the Quran and hadith and which there is not an ijma (historical consensus) among the Muslim fuqaha (experts in Islamic fiqh), mujtahids made different laws based on Quran, hadith and ijmaa.
Islamic fiqh encompasses person, society and their relations between the Creator (swt); because fiqh concerns both this world and the hereafter.