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This article is about a concept in Islamic jurisprudence. Qiyas_sentence_0

For the college admission tests in Saudi Arabia, see Qiyas Tests. Qiyas_sentence_1

In Islamic jurisprudence, qiyās (Arabic: قياس‎) is the process of deductive analogy in which the teachings of the hadith are compared and contrasted with those of the Qur'an, in order to apply a known injunction (nass) to a new circumstance and create a new injunction. Qiyas_sentence_2

Here the ruling of the Sunnah and the Qur'an may be used as a means to solve or provide a response to a new problem that may arise. Qiyas_sentence_3

This, however, is only the case providing that the set precedent or paradigm and the new problem that has come about will share operative causes (عِلّة, ʿillah). Qiyas_sentence_4

The ʿillah is the specific set of circumstances that trigger a certain law into action. Qiyas_sentence_5

An example of the use of qiyās is the case of the ban on selling or buying of goods after the last call for Friday prayers until the end of the prayer stated in the Quran . Qiyas_sentence_6

By analogy this prohibition is extended to other transactions and activities such as agricultural work and administration. Qiyas_sentence_7

Among Sunni Muslim in recent centuries Qiyas has been accepted as a fundamental source of Sharia law along with Ijmāʿ and secondary to the Qur'an, and the Sunnah. Qiyas_sentence_8

Sunni interpretations Qiyas_section_0

Late and modern Sunni jurisprudence regards analogical reason as a fourth source of Islamic law, following the Qur'an, prophetic tradition and binding consensus. Qiyas_sentence_9

While Muslim scholarship in the later period traditionally claimed that analogy had existed in Islamic law since their religion's inception, modern scholarship generally points to Muslim scholar Abu Hanifa as the first to incorporate analogical reason as a source of law. Qiyas_sentence_10

Since its inception, analogical reason has been the subject of extensive study in regard to both its proper place in Islamic law and its proper application. Qiyas_sentence_11

Validity as a source of law Qiyas_section_1

Among Sunni traditions, there is still a range of attitudes regarding the validity of analogy as a method of jurisprudence. Qiyas_sentence_12

Imam Bukhari, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and Dawud al-Zahiri for example, rejected the use of analogical reason outright, arguing that to rely on personal opinion in law-making would mean that each individual would ultimately form their own subjective conclusions. Qiyas_sentence_13

Bernard G. Weiss, one of today's foremost experts on Islamic law and philosophy, explains that while analogical reason was accepted as a fourth source of law by later generations, its validity was not a foregone conclusion among earlier Muslim jurists. Qiyas_sentence_14

Thus, while its status as a fourth source of law was accepted by the majority of later and modern Muslim jurists, this was not the case at the inception of Muslim jurisprudence as a field. Qiyas_sentence_15

Opposition to qiyas came from a number of angles. Qiyas_sentence_16

Professor Walîd b. Ibrâhîm al-`Ujajî Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University explains the opposition to qiyas as coming from multiple angles: Qiyas_sentence_17


  • Some of them argued that qiyâs is contrary to reason. One argument given in this light was that: “Delving into this method is intellectually repugnant in its own right”. Another argument was: “Islamic legal rulings are based on human well-being, and no one knows human well-being except the One who gave us the sacred law. Therefore, the only way we can know the sacred law is from the revelation.” Other scholars said that qiyâs is not contrary to reason, but prohibited by the sacred law itself.Qiyas_item_0_0

, when mentioning Ahmad Dallal’s position on Salafism, states that Dallal: Qiyas_sentence_18


  • ...declared that Salafism "is better understood as a method of thinking of, or an approach to, authoritative sources than as a distinct school of thought" that includes the elevation of the Qur’an and sound hadith at the expense of the opinions attributed to the eponyms of the four Sunni schools and the rejection (or sever curtailment) of qiyasQiyas_item_1_1

Imam Bukhari Qiyas_section_2

Imam Bukhari maintained a negative position towards qiyas, as he held views aligned with the Zahiris of his time. Qiyas_sentence_19

Scott Lucas states that Bukhari’s rejection of qiyas was placed within the context of what Bukhari perceived as invalid techniques of ijtihad, which included religious innovation (bid’a), ra’y, and tamthil. Qiyas_sentence_20

Lucas also points out common mistakes other scholars make when analyzing Bukhari’s position on qiyas. Qiyas_sentence_21

The biggest source of confusion for scholars is the fact that, while rejecting qiyas, Bukhari accepts the idea of tashbih (comparison), which seems similar to analogy. Qiyas_sentence_22

However, this is not the case, as tashbih is a comparison used in explanation (such as a metaphor), whereas qiyas applies a specific legal ruling to another case. Qiyas_sentence_23

Bukhari is also known for his criticism of those who say that the Prophet used qiyas, and he devoted a section of his Sahih to the topic. Qiyas_sentence_24

Bukhari states: Qiyas_sentence_25


  • If the Prophet was asked about something about which he had not received a revelation, he either said, ‘I do not know’ or did not reply until he received a revelation. he did not [reply] by means of ra’y or qiyas, due to the [Qur’anic] verse, "…in accordance to what God has shown you" (4:105).Qiyas_item_2_2

Ahmad Ibn Hanbal Qiyas_section_3

On Ahmad's views, Christopher Melchert states “Ahmad and his fellow traditionalists of the ninth century expressly condemned the Hanafi exercise of qiyas…” When compared with Dawud al-Zahiri's intensely negative stance towards qiyas, Melchert also states “Ahmad ibn Hanbal could likewise be quoted, as we have seen, in total rejection of ra’y (opinion) and qiyas (analogy)." Qiyas_sentence_26

Ahmad ibn Hanbal has been quoted as saying "There is no qiyas in the Sunnah, and examples are not to be made up for it” Qiyas_sentence_27

Support for its validity Qiyas_section_4

Early support for the validity of analogical reason in jurisprudence came from Abu Hanifa and his student Abu Yusuf. Qiyas_sentence_28

Al-Shafi'i was a proponent of analogical reasoning as well, though his usage was less frequent than that of Abu Hanifa. Qiyas_sentence_29

Acceptance of analogical reason gradually increased within the Muslim world. Qiyas_sentence_30

With the Malikite and Hanbalite schools eventually granting full acceptance as the Hanafites and Shafi'ites already had done, the overwhelming majority of Sunni jurists from the late period onward affirmed its validity. Qiyas_sentence_31

Japanese scholar of Islam Kojiro Nakamura defined the orthodox Sunni schools in regard to their eventual acceptance of analogy in descending order of that acceptance: Hanafis, Malikis, Shafi'is, Hanbalis and Zahiris. Qiyas_sentence_32

Much work was performed on the details of proper analogy, with major figures such as Al-Qastallani, Al-Baqillani, Al-Juwayni and al-Amidi from the Shafi'ite school and Ibn Abidin from the Hanafite school providing rules and guidelines still used to this day. Qiyas_sentence_33

Application as a source of law Qiyas_section_5

Sunni scholar Baghawi gave a commonly accepted definition of analogy in Islamic law: analogical reasoning is the knowledge by which one learns the method of deriving a ruling from the Quran and prophetic tradition. Qiyas_sentence_34

In this case, the above-mentioned ruling should not already be apparent in the Quran, prophetic tradition or consensus. Qiyas_sentence_35

If there is no derivation involved due to the explicitness of the ruling in the Quran and prophetic tradition, then such a person is not, by definition, a mujtahid. Qiyas_sentence_36

Shi’a interpretations Qiyas_section_6

Not unlike the Sunni Hanbalis and Zahiris, the Shi’a rejected both pure reason and analogical reason completely on account of the multitude of perspectives that would arise from it, viewing both methods as subjective. Qiyas_sentence_37

There are various instances in which the Qur'an disapproves of a divergence of beliefs such as the following: Qiyas_sentence_38

Twelver Shi’a Qiyas_section_7

Within the Twelver Shi’i legal tradition, the fourth source for deriving legal principles is not qiyās but rather the intellect ’’'Aql’’. Qiyas_sentence_39

Twelver Shi’a regard the ulama (scholars) as authorities in legal and religious matters during the Occultation (ghayba) of the Imamah Mahdi. Qiyas_sentence_40

Until the return of the hidden Imam, it is the responsibility of the ulāma’ to be his deputies and provide guidance on worldly matters. Qiyas_sentence_41

In modern interpretations of Twelver Shi’ism, the most revered and learned scholars are styled as references for emulation (marja taqlīd). Qiyas_sentence_42

This system of deriving legal principles effectively replaces both the Sunni notion of consensus (ijmā’) and deductive analogy (qiyās) Qiyas_sentence_43

Accordingly, in the chapter on Knowledge of the Twelver collection of prophetic traditions, Kitab al-Kafi, one finds many traditions cited from the Imams that forbid the use of qiyās, for example: Qiyas_sentence_44

Ismaili Shi’a Qiyas_section_8

Among the most notable Ismaili thinkers, Bu Ishaq Quhistani regarded the notion of subjective opinion (qiyās) as completely contradictory to the Islamic notion of tawhīd (unity) as it ultimately gave rise to a countless divergent conclusions, besides which those who exercised deductive analogy relied on little more than their imperfect individual intellects. Qiyas_sentence_45

According to Bu Ishaq, there must be a supreme intellect in every age, just as Muhammad was in his time. Qiyas_sentence_46

Without this, it would be impossible for any ordinary individual to attain knowledge of the Divine using mere speculation. Qiyas_sentence_47

The supreme intellect, he reasoned, could be none other than the Imam of the age. Qiyas_sentence_48

Bu Ishaq Quhistani referred to the Qur'anic tale of Adam and Eve to support his argument for the necessity of a perfect teacher who could provide spiritual edification (ta’līm) in place of what he felt were subjective whims and wayward personal opinions (ra’y). Qiyas_sentence_49

Commenting on the Qur'anic foundational narrative, Bu Ishaq explains that when God taught Adam the names of all things, Adam was commanded to teach the angels, as in sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayah 33. Qiyas_sentence_50

Spiritual instruction therefore had its root in the Qur'an itself, however Satan, in his arrogance, refused to bow down before Adam. Qiyas_sentence_51

Instead he protested, "I am better than he. Qiyas_sentence_52

You created me from fire and him from clay." Qiyas_sentence_53

Thus the first to use deductive analogy was none other than Satan himself, by reasoning and challenging the command of God to prostrate. Qiyas_sentence_54

It was for this reason that Satan was punished for eternity and fell from favor until the final day. Qiyas_sentence_55

In Ismaili thought, therefore, the truth lay not in subjective opinion (ra’y) and analogy (qiyās), but rather in the teaching of the bearer of truth (muhiqq), that is, the Imam of the time. Qiyas_sentence_56

The supreme teacher therefore exists at all times for the imperfect human intellects to submit (taslīm) to, as is proclaimed in the divine dictate: Qiyas_sentence_57

Mu'tazilite interpretations Qiyas_section_9

Primarily being a school of theology and not jurisprudence, the Mu'tazila generally did not hold independent positions on such issues. Qiyas_sentence_58

The majority of the Mu'tazila, despite being a distinct sect from both Sunni and Shi'ite Islam, still preferred the juristic school of Abu Hanifa, with a minority following Al-Shafi'i's views. Qiyas_sentence_59

This resulted in the odd combination of being Mu'tazilite in creed but Sunni in jurisprudence, and consequently most of the Mu'tazila accepted analogical reason in addition to pure reason. Qiyas_sentence_60

Mu'tazilite scholar Abu'l Husayn al-Basri, a major contributor to early Muslim jurisprudence, said that in order for a jurist to perform analogical reason, they must possess a thorough knowledge of the rules and procedures for which allows the application of revealed law to an unprecedented case, in addition to basic knowledge of the Qur'an and prophetic tradition. Qiyas_sentence_61

Not all of the Mu'tazila followed Sunni jurisprudence. Qiyas_sentence_62

Al-Nazzam in particular denied the validity of analogical reason wholesale, preferring to rely on pure reason instead. Qiyas_sentence_63

Qiyas and the Inquisition (Mihna) Qiyas_section_10

The Inquisition that took place in the middle of the 9th century, which was initiated by the caliph al-Ma’mun, ensured the persecution of many scholars who did not agree with the caliph’s rationalistic views. Qiyas_sentence_64

The most famous of these persecuted scholars is Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who maintained his view that the Qur'an was not created, but eternal. Qiyas_sentence_65

Wael Hallaq argues that the Mihna was not just about whether or not the Qur'an was created. Qiyas_sentence_66

The issues of ra’y, qiyas, and rationalism were all represented within the Inquisition, and Hallaq states “The Mihna thus brought to a climax the struggle between two opposing movements: the traditionalists, whose cause Ibn Hanbal was seen to champion; and the rationalists, headed by the caliphs and the Mu’tazilites, among whom there were many Hanafites” Qiyas_sentence_67

Christopher Melchert similarly argues that the Mihna demonstrated a relationship between the Hanafis of Baghdad, who were associated with the heavy use of qiyas, and the Mu’tazilites. Qiyas_sentence_68

Historical debate Qiyas_section_11

Before the Middle Ages there was a logical debate among Islamic logicians, philosophers and theologians over whether the term qiyas refers to analogical reasoning, inductive reasoning or categorical syllogism. Qiyas_sentence_69

Some Islamic scholars argued that qiyas refers to inductive reasoning, which Ibn Hazm (994-1064) disagreed with, arguing that qiyas does not refer to inductive reasoning, but refers to categorical syllogism in a real sense and analogical reasoning in a metaphorical sense. Qiyas_sentence_70

On the other hand, al-Ghazali (1058–1111) and Ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdīsī (1147-1223) argued that qiyas refers to analogical reasoning in a real sense and categorical syllogism in a metaphorical sense. Qiyas_sentence_71

Other Islamic scholars at the time, however, argued that the term qiyas refers to both analogical reasoning and categorical syllogism in a real sense. Qiyas_sentence_72

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qiyas.