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How is one to wade through the apparent welter of irreconcilable primary Islamic sources? What is one to do when faced with opposing practices of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) on the same issue? When is a practice deemed necessary or recommended? These are some of the topics discussed in usul al-fiqh. Loosely translated as principles of Islamic jurisprudence, usul al-fiqh is the legal theory which underpins Islamic positive law and practical ethics. The book Usul ash-Shashi is an isagogic opuscule on legal theory according to the Hanafi School of Law. It is widely favoured and accepted in the darse niazmi syllabus of South Asian seminaries and their sister institutions outside of the Asian Subcontinent despite little being known of its author. The translation will appeal to a wide readership in particular to elementary students of Islamic law and to those that are interested in legal theory.
Hailing from the Islamic hinterland of Transoxiana (ma wara’ an-nahr), Shashi is credited to have written this very successful opus. Legend says that he wrote the book at the age of fifty and called it Kitab al-Khamsin (The book of fifty). Despite little being known of the author, Allah Most High has accepted his work and it is widely studied and read throughout the Muslim world.
Maulana Dr Mansur Ali studied traditional Islamic studies and Arabic at Darul Uloom Bury, UK and Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt. He completed his PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from University of Manchester writing a thesis on the ‘Role of the Isnad in Imam Tirmidhi’s Sunan’. Currently he is a lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Cardiff University and a Khatib at the Darul Isra Mosque in Cardiff.