Encyclopaedia of Islamic Jurisprudence
A Brief Introduction
It will not be a hyperbole to claim that the compilation of a 45- volume ‘Encyclopaedia of Islamic Jurisprudence’ by the Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait and its Urdu translation accomplished by the Islamic Fiqh Academy, Delhi (India) with the valuable cooperation of the former is the most gargantuan contribution in the field of Islamic Studies.
The whole knowledge in an urn; is what this encyclopaedia is. Taking cue from Islamic Shariah, it deduces convenient, appropriate and viable solutions to the current, day-to-day problems. Based on the Holy Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the book helps to comprehend and grasp the tenets and principles of Islam to the fullest with the aim of streamlining our life according to the Shariah, to achieve success in this world and the hereafter.
The term ‘ Islamic Jurisprudence’ is a general word which encompasses all the rules, regulations, codes of conduct, doctrines and thoughts to be adopted and followed in our daily life with respect to our own individual self, our rites and rituals, our day-to-day interactions and transactions. Its significance and inevitability lies in the fact that any follower of Islam can evaluate or judge himself viz-a-viz the parameters of life as per the jurisprudence, to know whether he is justified and whether things are prohibited, unlawful or otherwise.
Covering a gamut of affairs ranging over varied facets of life the Islamic jurisprudence has metamorphosed from one from to another over the ages- from the times of Prophet (SAW), his companions and followers to the age of eminent religious clerics upto the contemporary age of independent reasoning. The outcome was a variety of books written on Islamic jurisprudence and its relevant off-shoots.
No wonder, the enormous amount of material available on the subject and a number of aspects to cover make the task of segmentation into various categories a difficult one. Further, there has been a number of independent logical reasonings within the Islamic society over any particular issue. Keeping in view the positions at hand, it becomes quite an onerous task to incorporate and compile all the Islamic tenets and principles at one place.
At a certain point of time, the synopses of the different sects (Mutun-al-Fiqh) were compiled into an abridged form. However, comprising a lot of clarifications and explanations, mostly in footnotes and annotations, it was quite fuzzy and incomprehensible to the common man. Consequently, barring the experts and scholars, virtually everybody distanced themselves from Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence).
The need of the hour was definitely conspicuous, and responding to it, several scholars urged for initiating a scientific project promptly which would aim at the compilation of the Islamic jurisprudence in an absolutely lucid and easy-to-understand language in an up-to-date and contemporary style with emphasis on better classifications so that any particular issue or problem could be dealt easily in a perfectly genuine and authentic manner as per the clauses of jurisprudence to facilitate speedy redressal. Therefore, an encyclopedia on the subject matter of Islamic jurisprudence, comprising the different viewpoints and aspects, was urgently required so that the common and not-so scholarly Muslims may grasp the subject with ease.
Since time immemorial, Islamic scholars all over the world have been of a firm view that an encyclopaedia of Islamic jurisprudence was greatly needed. The most noteworthy call in this regard, was expressed at the Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) Conference held in Paris in 1370 A.H. (1951 A.D.). The conference was attended by a host of eminent Islamic scholars who debated thoroughly and came up with certain resolutions, in which they had called for an urgent need of an encyclopaedia of Islamic Jurisprudence which would enshrine the legal Islamic tenets in a format of lexical up-to-date classification.
It was only in 1375 AH (1956 A.D) that these recommendations came into effect when a committee was constituted as per an official decree to work for the compilation of the encyclopaedia on the subject. This Committee was affiliated to the Faculty of Shariah, Damascus University. Thereafter, another Presidential decree was issued after the formal tie-up between Egypt and Syria.
Five years later, in 1381 AH (1961 A.D), a book was published which comprised research works undertaken by the scholars from both the countries. Later on, some other works such as ‘Ibn-e-Hazam Jurisprudence lexicon’ and ‘Guide for research about Jurisprudence Terms’ were published in Syria.
Also, in the same year, the Ministry of Awqaf (Egypt) proposed the idea of an Islamic Encyclopaedia in one of the Committees of the Higher Council for Islamic affairs. The Committee came up with the first volume in 1386 A.H. and subsequently, it published 24 volumes.
In 1386 A.H (1967 AD), the ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs (Kuwait) took this massive project under its own aegis so as to ensure greater support from other Islamic countries and the smooth accomplishment of the Project, keeping in view that a combined effort is needed for this work, in order to lend it a modern exposition and a contemporary frame. That is why, the three encyclopaedias in Syria, Kuwait and Egypt are enriched with their own different characteristics and features, the diversity itself gives Islamic Jurisprudence a new vigour.
An encyclopaedia is a comprehensive reference work that contains information on all branches of knowledge, arranged systematically and alphabetically, written in a simple and lucid style. The Islamic jurisprudence encyclopaedia is arranged alphabetically, using Fiqh terms and idioms in simple and legible language that enables a specialist or anyone else to grasp and clearly understand the material. It contains comprehensive, well revised articles and researches on Islamic Jurisprudence.
Objectives of the Islamic Encyclopaedia
The Islamic encyclopaedia is a gem in the Islamic library with thorough, contemporary research works on pertinent issues undertaken by the Islamic clerics and scholars combined. Therefore, it works as a ready reference or guide manual for those who wish to peck in for a readymade solution to their problems or those who want to deeply analyse a particular topic from the Islamic and legal angle. The massive work helps to revive traditional Fiqh and it should be used in comparative studies on a large scale. It is extremely useful for post-graduate students, Islamic judicial system, legislature and interpretation.
As a ready-reckoner, the Islamic encyclopaedia also brings Islamic Fiqh closer to modern science, keeping in touch with new information and knowledge studies which have evolved and changed in form and content. Being in synchronism with the latest in Islamic Fiqh, it helps bridge the enormous chasm in Islamic studies taking into account the modern accomplishments and interpretation in the lightning era.
Islamic Fiqh Academy, Delhi, India gets the credit for translating the 45-volume Encyclopaedia of the Islamic Jurisprudence into Urdu. The Urdu version is going to be published in near future with the valuable cooperation of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Kuwait.
The Academy is also credited with the most significant piece of work, “Sinwan-ul-Qaza wa Unwanul Ifta” edited by Late Qazi Mujahidul Islam, which was also published by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Kuwait.
It is expected that the Urdu-readership spread throughout the global expanse shall be benefited by the Urdu version of the Encyclopaedia.