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Part of a series on Islam
Usul al-fiqh

(The Roots of Jurisprudence)

Scholarly titles

Ahkam (Arabic: أحكام‎ plural of Hukm Arabic: حكم‎) is a reference to the Islamic commandments, derived and understood from religious jurisprudence resources (Arabic: المنابع الفقه‎). A law, value, ordinance or ruling of Shari'ah (Islamic law). In order to arrive at any new legal doctrine, or hukm, one must employ a systematic methodology by which to extract meaning from the sources. Traditionally, this methodology has been categorized under the rules of ijtihad (independent reasoning, authentic scholarly endeavor).[1]

In the Quran, hukm denotes arbitration, judgement, authority, and Allah's will. Following the passing of Muhammad, with no central legal power in the post-Medina Muslim society, the noun acquired new meanings over time, with hukm coming to refer to temporal executive rule or to a court decision and the plural, ahkam, referring to specific Quranic rules, positive fiqh laws derived from Islamic legal methodology, and rules or edicts. Early in Muslim history, the Kharijites' declaration to accept only the hukm of Allah (Arabic: حُكْمُ اللّهِ ) gave the word a political connotation.


Ahkam pentad

The acts of a Muslim must be done according to Islamic commandments, categorized in five groups, forming a pentad or al-hukm al-khamis (Arabic: الاحكام الخمسة‎). They show how Performing or abstaining from certain actions can be categorized as being obligatory or recommended in Islamic law. According to Islamic terminology the pentad consists of:

  1. Wajib, obligatory; also known as: fard, rukn
  2. Mustahabb / Sunnah, recommended, also known as fadilah, mandub
  3. Mubah, neither obligatory nor recommended (neutral)
  4. Makruh, abominable (abstaining is recommended)
  5. Haraam, prohibited (abstaining is obligatory)

Emergency conditions and public affairs

Religious precepts may be relaxed under certain extraordinary conditions. For example, although Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan, it may be acceptable for an ill man to break his fast if he is certain that fasting will worsen his illness.

The Islamic commandment for a society may become different from the one for an individual, considering the social and public aspects of certain actions. For example, according to various verses of the Quran,[2] Muslims are required to carry weapons, but the Islamic state can prohibit or limit weapons to ensure security in the society.

There are three types of pentad:

  1. Primary commandments, in the normal condition, for personal affairs
  2. Secondary commandments, in the emergency condition (Arabic: اضطرار‎), for personal affairs
  3. State commandments, for public affairs


  1. ^ Islamic Legal Interpretation, Harvard University Press 1996
  2. ^ Sura 4, verses 71 and 102.

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