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usul al-fiqh

in classical Islamic theory, the four major sources from which law is derived: the Qur'an; the sunna, or sunnah (practice of the Prophet as transmitted through his sayings); ijma' (consensus of scholars); and qiyas (analogical deductions from these three). The usul, systematized under ash-Shafi'i (767-820), were the result of an Islamization of law that began about the 2nd century of the Muslim era (8th century AD)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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