Urf as a Source of Islamic Law

عرف بحیثیت ماخذ قانون

  • Ata Ur Rehman
  • Hafiz Abdul Ghafoor


Change is a definite phenomenon in human life. Societies change with the passage of time. Due to the scientific inventions the world has become a global village.In modern time the most important thing for the Islamic jurists is to find an Islamic solution to the modern problems and to give such an interpretation to the Islamic laws to encompass the rapidly changing world and its needs.If the interpretations of these circumstances are done in the light of Urf or Habit,it can prove helpful in getting more balanced and adequate solution. Urf is from Irfan which means knowledge, having acquaintance or simply knowing.Besides, Urf, Rituals and Customs have different kinds. Some of them are related with the practical life and human rights. And some of them are related with ethics and values, some are related with costumes and the way of life and others are connected only with satisfaction of self and nothing else. A saying or action which is proved through Reason or Sharia is called "Maroof' and it is opposite to "Munkir" or denial. "Adat" or Habit is also used as Urf. Urf and "Adat" are Synonymous. Every quality which is liked by reason and which satisfies the conscience is called Urf and the action which is done by people perpetually, with all the reason and experience and is considered correct naturally is called Urf. The basic sources of Islamic Law are Quran and Sunnah. Both of them are not revealed in a single day. In the beginning there was the first verse of "Sura Iqra" and nothing else. The people were converting to Islam and the number was increasing day by day. Here a question arises that if law in Arabic means the criterion to have a correct estimation then what were the Islamic Laws at the beginning. As an answer to this question this explanation is quite appropriate that the basis of Islamic Laws were actually those rites and traditions which were the remnants of Ibrahimi Millat and were established among Arabs at that time. Islam discarded all the bad factors and accepted the remaining with some modification and reformation. Urf or Custom shall not be considered as the sole basis of Sharias if we do so then it will pave the wav for certain bad things like Ribbah (interest) and Gambling which are entirely against the prmciples of Sharia and this will certainly distort the basic structure of Sharia in totality. Therefore, such an Urf which is in contrast with the basic prmciples of Sharia shall be shun and considered null and void. With the change in Urf and Customs of the society the Law will also be changed provided that the Law/Rule is for a specific time and people. It does not mean that a Law/Rule of the Quran and Sunnah shall be changed but it will be considered that a specific Law/Rule was based on a certain Urf and because that Urf is no more in vogue, therefore, the specific Law/Rule will not be practiced anymore. Keeping in mind the savings of Islamic Jurists it can be concluded that Urf is not a permanent argument of Sharia that a Law should be made only on the basis of Urf but it is a source and an argument through which an understanding of the jargon of the Sharia's rule and the register of the two opposing sides in a certain matter is understood and which can help delimit some loose matter and ascertain some definite argument.


How to Cite
Rehman, A. U., & Abdul Ghafoor, H. (2018). Urf as a Source of Islamic Law. The Islamic Culture "As-Saqafat-Ul Islamia" الثقافة الإسلامية - Research Journal - Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre, University of Karachi, (24). Retrieved from http://theislamicculture.com/index.php/tis/article/view/152