Types of Hanafi Legal Rulings (Ahkam)


وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم, ما بعد

The aḥkām in the context of fiqh are the legal rulings based on the usul al-fiqh of a madhhab. Each madhhab slightly differs in the way it breaks down, defines, and applies the rulings. Below, insha’Allah, I will briefly outline the different aḥkām of the Hanafi school.

The Hanafi school developed in Iraq, contextualized by the presence of non-Muslims, new and foreign ideas, and debate. Therefore, to avoiding excommunication (takfir) in matters of disagreement (ikhtilaf), imam Abu Hanifa (رحمه الله) deepened the breakdown between the rulings.

Rulings can be divided into three categories: commands (أمر), neutral (مباح), and forbidding (نهي/نفي).

Amr أمر – إثبات positive/commanded
1. Mandatory
2. Voluntary
Neutral مُباح
Has no subcategories
No reward or punishment for doing or omitting
Nahi نهي – نفي  – negative
1. Haram (حرام) (forbidden)
2. Karahah (كراهة) (dislike)
Three categories of rulings

Let’s break amr and nahi down further:


Amr أمر – إثبات positive/commanded

Mandatory: Fard and wajib. Doing it is rewarded and omission is sinful.

  1. Fard ‘ayn فرض على العين – fard upon the individual
  2. Fard kifaya فرض على الكفاية – Fard upon the community
  3. Wajib واجب: Established through definitive proof. Rejecting it is not kufr.

Voluntary: Based mostly on stratification of evidence. Doing it is rewarded and omitting it is not sinful.

  1. Sunnah – strongest
    1. Muakkadah (مؤكّدة) – emphasized
    1. Ghayr muakkadah – not emphasized
  2. Nafl – stronger
  3. Mustahhab – weakest

Note: The word “sunnah” has different meanings depending on its context. As a hukm, for Hanafis, it is a type of action that carries reward for doing it.


Mubah – Neutral مُباح

No subcategories. No reward or punishment for doing or omitting.


Nahi نهي – نفي – negative

Karaha – disliked/detested. No punishment for doing, but rewarded for not doing/avoiding.

  1. Makruh Tahrimi مكروه تحريمي – prohibitively disliked. Difference between makruh tahrimi and haram are the same as wajib and fard, they are aqida differences. Some say smoking cigarettes is haram others say Makruh tahrimi. Rejecting it is not kufr. No takfir of the munkir.
  2. Makruh tanzihi مكروه تنزيهي – Kind of like nafl. Lightly disliked. Example: Eating a lot.
  3. Khilaf al-awla خلاف الأولى – Better to avoid. Lit. Against/opposing what’s better. Like splashing water when doing wudu.

Haram is haram, no one should do it, it has no subcategories. It is sinful to do it, and rewarded to avoid it. Established through قطعي الثبوت قطعي الدلالة. It is the strongest word to use in prohibition. Only use it if you are very sure that what you’re saying is prohibited. Zina is haram.


Notes: In order for something to be fard or haram it needs to be definitive in its proof and understanding (qati’i al-thabut qati’i al-dalalah قطعي الثبوت قطعي الدلالة (see below)).

Wajib is when there is some sort of ظن (discussion/speculation/uncertainty/disagreement) involved in the ruling, like when you’re not 100% confident to make it fard. The proof is 80% there to call it fard, but because 20% is missing we downgrade it to wajib in Hanafi fiqh. The other schools just say fard.

If you reject something that is قطعي الثبوت قطعي الدلالة then that makes someone leave Islam. IE if you reject that fajr is fard. This is different from not acting upon it, however. For example, not praying is sinful but not kufr.

Someone who rejects a wajib can be called a fasiq, though, but not a disbeliever. It is a sin to omit a wajib.
As far as emphasis goes, wajib and fard are the same. Both are made up when missed. It’s an aqida issue.

Remember as well that this is not a witch hunt, where we go around looking for deficiencies in other people to pick out. This is a darkness that must be avoided and will only cause harm to yourself and others. Leave scholar stuff to scholars–we’re just here to gain a better understanding of our din to get closer to Allah ta’ala.

Four terms to know for categorizing evidence:
Qat’i (قطعي) – definitive
Zhanni (ظني) – speculative, debatable; confirmed but there’s discussion about it
Thaboot الثبوت – The evidence
Dalaalah الدلالة – The understanding of it

قطعي الثبوت قطعي الدلالة
Qati al-thabut zhanni al-dalalah
Definitive in its text and understanding. Rejecting this is kufr. IE the one-ness of God or five fard prayers per day on the mukallif.
ظني الثبوت ظني الدلالة
zhanni al-thabut zhanni al-dalalah
Both its evidence and the understanding of it are debated.
ظني الثبوت قطعي الدلالة
zhanni al-thabut qati’i al-dalalah
Its evidence is not solid, IE it may be based on a single narration or weak narration etc. But the understanding of it is not debated.
قطعي الثبوت ظني الدلالة
qat’i al-thabut zhanni al-dalalah
Its evidence is not debated, but the understanding is debated. IE a verse of the Qur’an or mutawatir hadith where scholars differ on its interpretation.

Example: Ali (رضي الله عتنه) had a truce with Mu’awiyah (رضي الله عتنه). The Khawarij said truces are not OK if one party is in the right and one is not. They quoted to him the ayah “The hukm is only with Allah” (إِنِ ٱلْحُكْمُ إلَّا لِلّٰه). And excommunicated him. In response, Ali (رضي الله عتنه) said: “A word of truth by which falsehood is intended” (“كلمة حقٍ يراد بها الباطل”) meaning the ayah is true but their deduction is false. This is an example of قطعي الثبوت ظني الدلالة.

والله أعلم

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