I was asked this question and encouraged to share the answer.
How can one study fiqh in a way that builds mastery?
This is an excellent question. The method of instruction in contemporary fiqh studies (and other Islamic studies) leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, many scholars and students are ignorant of pedagogy, educational psychology, etc.
Let me explain how this can help with studying al-fiqh al-Shafi’i. Remember that the onus is on the student to do this.
Review (tiqrar) key concepts (shurut, arkan, ta’rifat) with understanding and memorization. An excellent text to review and memorise key concepts is al-Yaqut al-Nafis, which basically lists ta’rifat, shurut, and arkan. This text is key in Tarim, and some teachers set exams whereby you basically regurgitate the ta’rifat, shurut, and arkan. These three aspects should be at the heart of one’s review and memorization. Schedule your review sessions according to your time. For example, Sundays for ibadah, Mondays for jiniyat, Tuesdays for al-ahwal al-shakhsiya, etc. You should complete the review of a book of fiqh that you’ve studied at least once every four months.
Have a notebook for each book studying and make diagrams to visualise concepts and actively engage with one’s learning, and review these notes alongside the textual review. An excellent text with which to compare one’s own diagrams and charts is al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah. Some of these could be inspiration for your own diagrams too. ‘Imad ‘Ali Jumu’ah’s Tashjir series is an supurb example of what one should do. He basically takes famous mutun and re-writes them in diagram format.
Seek guidance from teachers about supplementary readings – this is very important as much can be learnt from targeted, focused, extensive readings to widen, and deepen one’s understanding. So read at least one similar book alongside one’s formal text book. For example, whilst reading Minhaj al-Talibin one should at the least also personally read Rawdat al-Talibin issue by issue. These two complement each other beautifully.
Prepare for the class by reading the forthcoming section of the text (this can help with preparing questions) alongside the commentary at a ratio of 3:1 so that for every hour of formal class you do at least three hours of preparation. So, for example, if you are studying Matn Abi Shuja’ and the next class will be on bab umm al-walad, read the sharh for the section ahead of class from Hashiyat al-Bajuri, al-Iqna’, and Kifayat al-Akhyar. Compare the differences in elucidation. Compile a summarised commentary from all.
Think of taswir of masa’il through practical examples of application. So, as an example for mirath, what is the estate division if the deceased left behind a mother, a son, a daughter, and a wife? Think of your own case and those of others you know.
Understand the ta’lil, where possible, and consider questions arising from that. One of the best texts for this is Nihayat al-Matlab by Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni. So, the ta’lil for washing hands upon waking before putting them in a basin is because the Sahaba’s standard practice was to do istijmar (not istinja’) and they slept naked in the sweaty heat, thus traces of urine or stool may have touched their hands during their sleep. If you do istinja’ and sleep with underwear is the issue of washing hands upon waking up still applicable?
Understand how the issue has been arrived at from the tadlil. Al-Majmu’, al-Bayhaqi’s books, and al-Mu’tamad are excellent for this. I would say for most students they should only memorise the adilla for the contentious issues, not the ones upon which most agree. Be efficient. So, don’t focus on the evidence for the obligation of Ramadan (upon which almost all schools agree, but do on why touching a marriageable member of the opposite sex invalidates your ritual purity.
From your notes and readings, write your own companion book including everything you have covered. This will be a handy reference for masa’il in future. If it’s really good, you can even distribute it to others.
I hope this helps!
October 4, 2016 at 7:20 pm
October 19, 2016 at 6:22 pm
December 4, 2016 at 10:39 pm
What is ‘Mu’tamad’ here?
Muhammad Hazim Haznan
April 18, 2017 at 11:14 pm
If not mistaken, al Mu’tamad by Syaikh Muhammad al Zuhaily hafizahullah
March 31, 2017 at 8:23 pm
What is ta’rifat?
April 25, 2017 at 6:07 am
It means definitions my dear brother. Understanding them brings greater precision and clarity. Make Allah facilitate your way!
June 2, 2017 at 6:43 pm
salam aleikum ustad:
“An excellent text with which to compare one’s own diagrams and charts is al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah. Some of these could be inspiration for your own diagrams too. ‘Imad ‘Ali Jumu’ah’s Tashjir series is an supurb example of what one should do. He basically takes famous mutun and re-writes them in diagram format.”
could you share a Link for these text as an example (if they’re translated into English that is)
jazz allahu khairan
August 20, 2018 at 7:30 am
Wa ‘alaykum al-salam. Sorry about the delay. My family and I have been very unwell alhamdu lillah. I haven’t seen any in English, unfortunately.
August 24, 2019 at 10:16 am
Salam ‘aleykum all (and especially Mohammed) For the link to the silsilah/tashjir books (Arabic though) by shaykh ‘Imad ‘Ali Jumu’ah see here:
Islamic Research Institute
June 22, 2017 at 2:30 am
BarakaALLAH.I see sheer brilliance in you from your writings.
August 20, 2018 at 7:33 am
Wa ‘alaykum al-salam. Sorry about the delay. My family and I have been very unwell alhamdu lillah. Thank you. Quite an effort is done, striving to please Allah, in order to benefit Muslims.
September 26, 2018 at 10:48 am
Assalaamu ‘alaykum, which are the equivalent hanafi texts you’d recommend (compared to the texts you’ve mentioned above)?
September 30, 2018 at 4:57 pm
Wa ‘alaykum al-salam.
There aren’t many good modern or contemporary books in Hanafi fiqh. This is because the Hanafis were generally clearer and better served than the Shafi’i’s and Malikis in the last few hundred years or so. By necessity, the Shafi’i’s and Malikis had to modernise their works. Also, those madhabs are more prevalent in Arab lands than the Hanafi madhab, which is widespread among the non-Arabs by the grace of Allah. This meant that Hanafi books were written mostly by non-Arabs, thus making their works clearer and simpler to read.
For reviewing concepts, I mostly use al-Ikhtiyar by al-Mawsuli, a truly beautiful little book. For ta’lil, I love Bada’i al-Sana’i by al-Kasani. For tadlil, I’la al-Sunan is the main reference, though one should know the usul. Adopting the Shafi’i stance on hadith, is a losing battle for Hanafis (or Malikis for that matter). Proving points often has to be made on an usuli basis. Mustafa al-Khinn’s Athar al-Ikhtilaf is a masterpiece on this.
October 21, 2018 at 9:45 pm
Masha Allah am very excited to come across this site. Ustaz Al-Asiri your articles are very useful and easy to understand. I ask Allah to bless you in the best manner , increase you in Eemaan and beneficial knowledge.
Could you please share a guide for beginners on how to seek knowledge in all Islamic subjects and the correct books to study?
Your response will be much appreciated.
October 28, 2018 at 7:58 am
Wa alaykum al-salam! There are some general tips which apply to all fields and I plan on posting on that topic soon in sha Allah.