What are the four foundation of Islam?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

The four foundations of Islam are essential sources and principles that form the basis of Islamic doctrine, law, and thinking. These foundations are the Qurʾān, the Sunnah, ijmāʿ, and ijtihād.

1. The Qurʾān: The Qurʾān is considered the primary and most important source of Islamic teachings. It is believed to be the literal word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of approximately 23 years. The Qurʾān covers a wide range of topics, including theology, morality, guidance for personal conduct, and social issues. It serves as a guidebook for Muslims, providing them with instructions on how to live a righteous and fulfilling life.

2. The Sunnah: The Sunnah refers to the practices, sayings, and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad. It provides a practical example of how to apply the teachings of the Qurʾān in daily life. The Sunnah is recorded in collections of hadiths, which are narrations of the Prophet’s words and actions. These hadiths were meticulously compiled and authenticated by Islamic scholars. Muslims consider the Sunnah to be an authoritative source of guidance, providing insights into matters not explicitly mentioned in the Qurʾān.

3. Ijmāʿ: Ijmāʿ, meaning consensus, refers to the agreement of Islamic scholars on a particular issue. When scholars reach a consensus on a matter, it becomes a binding precedent and an important source of Islamic law. Ijmāʿ serves as a means of ensuring unity and cohesion within the Muslim community by establishing a collective understanding and interpretation of Islamic teachings. It is seen as a reflection of the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad and the early Muslim community.

4. Ijtihād: Ijtihād is the process of individual reasoning and independent thinking within the framework of Islamic law. It allows scholars to derive legal rulings and make interpretations based on the Qurʾān, the Sunnah, and other relevant sources. Ijtihād is a dynamic and ongoing process that enables the adaptation of Islamic teachings to changing circumstances and new challenges. It encourages critical thinking and the exploration of diverse perspectives within the boundaries of the Islamic legal tradition.

These four foundations of Islam provide the framework for understanding and practicing the religion. They offer a comprehensive approach to religious, ethical, and legal guidance, allowing Muslims to navigate various aspects of life in accordance with their faith. The Qurʾān and the Sunnah serve as the primary sources of divine revelation, while ijmāʿ and ijtihād help ensure the development and application of Islamic teachings in a manner that is relevant and applicable to the contemporary world.