|Title: Kitab Ar-Risalah fī Usūl al-Fiqh = Ar-Risālah (الرسالة (كتب ألرسالى في وصول ألققه))|
|Author: Imam ash-Shāfi’ī (الإمام ابو عمد الله محمد بن ادريس الشافعي)|
|Subject: Fiqh, Fiqh al-Shafi’y, Usūl al-Fiqh|
|No. of Volumes: 1 | No. of Pages: 788|
Kitab Ar-Risalah fi Usul al Fiqh (lit. Book of communication on the foundations of comprehension (i.e. Islamic Jurisprudence)), usually referred to as ‘Ar-Risalah’, is a seminal text on the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence by Imam ash-Shafi’y (rahimullah). This is in our knowledge, probably the first treatise written by a person to define how Muslims should think/understand/analyze and how should one derive rulings and conclusions, laying the foundations of the branch we know of today as ‘Usul al-Fiqh’, and Allah knows best.
The Risala is arranged into a series of sections with general titles. The complexities of each subject are then explored either directly or by way of a third-party questioner who asks questions about various aspects of an issue such as abrogation. The chapters are, in order: Al-Bayan (explicit declaration), Legal Knowledge, The Book of Allah (Qur’an), Obligation of Man to accept the authority of the Prophet, Abrogation of Hukm Sharii, Duties, Nature of Allah’s Orders of Prohibition and the Nature of Messenger’s Orders of Prohibition, Traditions (Sunnah), Khabar Ahad (single individual traditions), Ijma (consensus), Qiyas (Analogy), Ijtihad, Istihsan (juristic preference), and finally Ikhtilaf (disagreement). Some, like the chapter on the Book of Allah, have many different subtopics, like the Arabic nature of the Qur’an, while others, such as Qiyas, are small and discussed more thoroughly in Imam Shafii’s other books, such as Kitab-ul-Umm or Ikthilaf Al-Hadith.
The influence of this unprecedented work continues to this day, so much that some orientalists refused to believe that this advanced work could be written so early (in the second Islamic century), had we not have the manuscript of Imam Shafi’ys student Imam ar-Rab’i al-Murādi.