Usul (Fundamental) and Furuu’ (Non-Fundamental) matters of the religion of Islam

By: M. Ramadan

Masaa’il ad-Deen

(1) Masa’il Al-Deen: Masa’il ‘Ilmiayah & Masa’il ‘Amaliayah

Abu Hurairah (RA’A) reported: (One day Rasul Allah () appeared before the public. Then a man came to him and asked: Rasul Allah! What is Iman? Upon this He (Rasul Allah ) replied: That you affirm your faith in Allah, His angels, His Books, His meeting, His Messengers and that you affirm your faith in the Resurrection hereafter. He (again) asked: Rasul Allah! What does Islam signify? He (Rasul Allah ) replied: Islam signifies that you worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him and you perform the prescribed Prayer and you pay the obligatory poor-due (Zakah) and you observe the Fast of Ramadan. He (the inquirer) again asked: Rasul Allah! What does Al-Ihsan (Faithfulness) imply? He (Rasul Allah ) replied: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, and in case you fail to see Him, then observe that He is seeing you. He (the inquirer) again asked: Rasul Allah! When would there be the Hour of (Doom)? He (Rasul Allah ) replied: The one who is asked about it is no better informed than the inquirer. I, however, will narrate some of its signs (and these are): When the female-slave will give birth to her master, when the naked, barefooted would become the chiefs of the people; these are some of the signs of (Doom). (Moreover) when the shepherds of the black (camels) would exalt themselves in buildings, this is one of the signs of (Doom). (Doom) is one of the five (happenings wrapped in the unseen) which no one but Allah knows. Then he (Rasul Allah ) recited (the verse): Verily Allah! With Him alone is the knowledge of the Hour and it is Him Who sends down the rain and knows that which is in the wombs and no person knows whatsoever he shall earn tomorrow, and a person knows not in whatsoever land he shall die. Verily Allah is Knowing, Aware . He (the narrator, Abu Hurairah) said: Then the person turned back and went away. Rasul Allah () said: Bring that man back to me. They (the Companions of the Holy Prophet present there) went to bring him back, but they did not find him. Upon this Rasul Allah () remarked: He was Gabriel. He came to teach people their religion. (Narrated By Muslim).

Deen Al-Islam comprises of a collection of Principles of Beliefs and Rituals:

(1) Masa’il ‘Ilmiayah (Theoretical, theological or Scientific Divine Rules): Doctrine.

(2) Masa’il ‘Amaliayah (Practical Divine Rules): Practice or Method.

Theological and practical parts in the Islamic system work in close alliance to form a system of belief on one hand and a system of conduct on the other. The Shari’ah includes both the theology and laws. The word ‘Shari’ah’ lexicographically means a fountainhead. But in the terminology of Fiqh, jurisprudence, it consists of the commands, prohibitions, and guidance that Allah has issued to human beings for their faith and conduct. The aim of Shari’ah, in all the cases related to belief, ethics and human conduct is to lead man towards justice and equality.

(A) Al-Masa’il Al-‘Ilmiayah.

Definition: Masa’il ‘Ilmiayah (The doctrinal part) of revealed religion consists of a series of fundamental principles and views concerning the real nature of things upon which man must establish the foundations of his life. This is the system of theology (I’Tiqadat). That is, the beliefs related to cosmology, the creation and the relation between Allah and man.

AL-‘AQEDAH or AL-I’TIQAD, according to the scholars of Islam is the firm creed that one’s heart is fixed upon, with that one’s soul is content, and about that its followers are convinced without any wavering or doubt.

Explanation: Allah informed us of the miraculous birth of ‘ISA () about his speaking while still in the crib and other miracles that were bestowed upon Him (). The verses (Ayat) expounding these ideas do not carry any order for action. These verses (Ayat) establish some basic concepts in our Iman (faith) such as the fact that ‘ISA () was a messenger from Allah ().

Sources of Masa'il 'Ilmiayah (AL-'Qeedah):

The source upon which Masa'il 'Ilmiayah (the creed) is based is restricted solely to the Book of Allah (AL-Qur'an) and the authentic Sunnah of Rasul Allah (). Sound reasoning is always in agreement with correct transmission of revelation. No two absolute proofs among reason and revelation can ever contradict one another. When contradiction is supposed between the two, one must put revelation first over reasoning. Imam Al-Banna writes in (Risalat Al-'Aqa'id) under the title of: (Islam's respect for the intellect and its encouragement of thinking and contemplation): (The basis of Islamic belief, as is the case with the rules of Share'ah, is the Book of Allah () and the Sunnah (practice) of Rasul Allah (). You should know however that all those beliefs are supported by sound reasoning and provable by correct thinking and this is why Allah () honoured the mind by addressing it directly and made sanity a precondition for responsibility, and called upon the mind to think and contemplate. Allah () says, 'Say: 'Behold all that is in the heavens and on earth; but neither Signs nor Warners profit those who believe not.'' (10/101) And He () also says, 'Do they not look at the sky above them? How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it? And the earth, We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and produced therein every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs) to be observed and commemorated by every devotee turning (to Allah). And We send down from the sky rain charted with blessing, and We produce therewith gardens and Grain for harvests; And tall (and stately) palm-trees, with shoots of fruit-stalks, piled one over another as sustenance for (Allah's) Servants, and We give (new) life therewith to land that is dead: Thus will be the Resurrection.' (50/6-11) He also denounced those who do not think and ponder over matters. He says, 'And how many Signs in the heavens and the earth do they pass by? Yet they turn (their faces) away from them!' (12/105) He called on adversaries to provide evidence, even in relation to matters that are obviously false. The reason for that is to show the importance of evidence and to demonstrate the value of argument. It is reported in a Hadith that Bilaal, may Allah be pleased with him, once came to ask the Prophet's permission to call Aazan for the morning prayer and found him crying. He asked Rasul Allah () why he was crying. Rasul Allah () answered: 'O Bilaal, how can I not cry when Allah () revealed to me tonight, 'Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, - there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,' (3/190) Rasul Allah () added 'O woe to anyone who reads this verse and doesn't ponder upon it. (Narrated by Ibn Abu Dunya in his book Al-Tafakkur [Contemplation]). Thus you can see that Islam does not restrict ideas or imprison the mind, but rather guides it to work within its proper limits. It informs human beings of how little they know and calls on them to increase their knowledge. Allah () says, 'Of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men!). (17/85) And He () also says, '...but say "O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge."' (20/114)


(4) Masa’il ‘Ilmiayah can be classified into four universal principles, each of which has many sub-sections: (1st.) ILLAHIYAT (Theology)
(2nd.) NUBUAAT (Prophet hood) (3rd.) RUHANIYAT (the Unseen world)
(4th.) SAM’IYAT (Eschatology)

If there is any confusion or disorder in one of these principles the Deen (religion) will not be able to gain any following. For every Muslim, it is a Must to know these issues and to learn them with a correct understanding and to believe in them in the manner that Rasul Allah () believed and understood them.

(B) Al-Masa’il Al-‘Amaliayah.

Definition: The practical part of revealed Deen (religion) consists of a series of moral and practical injunctions covering the duties man has before Allah () and human society.

Al-Qur’an says in what it means in English Translation: [And establish the Salah and give the Zakah] [Al-Bagarah, 43] [Do not come to Zinaa ” adultery or fornication”] [Al-Isra’,32].

All of these verses (Ayat) pertain to actions that Allah () either obliged or forbade us to perform.

Classification: The secondary duties, which have been ordered for man in different Divine laws, are of two kinds:

(1) Al-Akh’laq (Morals):

Definition: The Moral philosophy (Ahkam Al-Akhlaq), that deal with the qualities and characteristics human beings should acquire. These are aimed at improving human behaviour, and cultivating spiritual aspects of our existence.



DEFINITION: The Morals (Al-Akh’laq) related to the Divine are known as Huquq of Allah (Rights towards Allah).

EXAMPLES: Ikh’las (sincerity) Taqwa, Ri’dah (Pleasure, Contentment) Tawakkul , Zikr Allah, Surrender to Allah, Humility, Submission to the will of Allah.


DEFINITION: The Morals (Al-Akh’laq) related to human society are known as Huquq of Al-‘Ibad or Al-Makh’luq (Rights towards creatures).


(A) Rights towards Humans:
Self, Family, Neighbour, Society (Al-Muj’tama)

(B) Rights towards Non-Humans.

(2) Al-A’mal (Actions).

Definition: Those laws that deal with the rules and regulations laid down for certain acts, and also provide guidelines for the way these acts be performed.


DEFINITION: The Actions (Al-A’mal) related to the Divine are known as ‘Ibadat (act of worship).

Al-Salah: (Ahkam of Taharah & performance) Al-Zakah: (Alms) Al-Siam: (Fasting) Al-Hajj: (Pilgrimage) Al-Jihad: (Straggle in the path of Allah () .

(2.B) Systems Regulating Life:

DEFINITION: The Actions (Al-A’mal) related to Human Society are called systems regulating life.

EXAMPLES: Moral system, Economic system, Political system, Military system, Cultural system, Educational system, Social system, Judicial system, Iftaa’ system and Da’wah system.

(2) Masa’il Al-Deen: Masa’il Masa’il Usul & Masa’il Furu’

The knowledge of the Religion of Islam: This has been classified into Two very important and separate sections
Such as:

(A) Usul Al-Deen: The Cardinal Principles.

(B) Furu’ Al-Deen: The Articles of Faith.

Ibn Tymiayah (RA) gave us a beautiful and wise principle, which if understood sincerely and soundly removes thousands of doubts, differences and controversies.

(1) Masa’il Al-Deen (issues of religion) is of two aspects:

(1ST.) Masa’il ‘Ilmiayah

(2ND.) Masa’il ‘Amaliayah

(2) Al-Masa’il Al-‘Ilmiayah (issues of ‘Aqeedah) is subdivided into two categories:

(1ST.) Masa’il Jalilah (major issues).

(2ND.) Masa’il Daqiqah (minor issues).

(3) Al-Masa’il Al-‘Amaliayah (practical issues) is subdivided, also into two categories:

(1ST.) Masa’il Jalilah (major or clear issues).

(2ND.) Masa’il Daqiqah (minor or problematic issues).

Al-Masa’il Al-Jalilah (major or clear issues):


Those are the issues whose meaning or sense is clear, or either because the grammar and composition of words and sentences has no ambiguity, Or because the meaning are ascertained and fixed by the traditions and the unanimity of the Sahabah or the great Muslims scholars or by the established principles of Islam.

Al-Masa’il Al-Daqiqah (minor or problematic issues)


Those are the issues, which, are highly sensitive to human understanding and while going deep down, the Mujtahid, does not catch reality and is susceptible to doubt and uncertainty or ambiguity.

(4) Al-Masa’il Al-Jalilah (major or clear issues) of both Al-Masa’il Al-‘Ilmiayah (issues of ‘Aqeedah) and Al- Masa’il Al-‘Amaliayah (practical issues) is called Masa’il Al-Usul (The Cardinal Principles) (fundamental (basic) or primary issues).

These issues, as a matter of fact, are the root and the fundamental floor of the whole firmaments of the teachings of Al-Islam. Usul refers to the basic things, They are free from all obscurity and admitting of only one interpretation.

(5) Al-Masa’il Al-Daqiqah (minor or problematic issues) of both Al-Masa’il Al-‘Ilmiayah (issues of ‘Aqeedah) and Al-Masa’il Al-‘Amaliayah (practical issues) is called Masa’il Al-Furu'(The Articles of Faith) (non-fundamental (non-basic) or secondary issues).

Those issues, which are not entirely, clear open to various interpretations.

Furu’ refers to extra-things that are not basic.


(1ST.) Some of the issues of Al-‘Aqeedah are Usul and others are Furu’

(2ND.) Some of the practical issues of the Deen are Usul and others are Furu’

(6) Examples of Masa’il Usul:

Issues of ‘Aqeedah: e.g.: to have Iman in Allah, to know that Allah is aware of all things, to know that Al-Qur’an is the word of Allah.

Issues of Fiqh: e.g.: Salah, Zakah, Siam, Jihad, etc.

(7) Examples of Masa’il Furu’:

Issues of ‘Aqeedah:

(a) Whosoever has Iman that The Divine Being is not seen by our naked eyes.

Evidence from Al-Qur’an: (Eyes cannot find ‘ catch’ Him) (6/104) (It is not given to any mortal that Allah should speak to him, face to face. He speaks either through revelation or from behind a veil) (42/51).

(b) Had Rasul Allah () seen Allah () at the night of Al-Mi’raj?

(c) Seeking to approach Allah by the virtue of the status and virtues of some created being, such as saying, (O Allah! I ask You by virtue of Your Prophet and so on.

(8) Examples of Masa’il Furu’:

Issues of ‘Amal:

(1) Reciting behind an Imam.

(2) Salat Al-Tarawwh: (8) or (20) Rak’ah?

Differences between Masa’il Usul & Masa’il Furu’:

Masa’il Usul (fundamental (basic) or primary issues):

(1) Those are the issues of Masa’il Jalilah (major or clear issues) of both Masa’il ‘Ilmiayah and Masa’il ‘Amaliayah.

(2) Those are the issues that are called: Shar’ Munazzal, (Revealed Shari’ah)) or Jaliayat Al-shar’

Jaliayat Al-shar’:

(a) Those issues, which have Qat’I Daleel from Nusus (the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah) and the ‘Ijma’ (unanimity) of the Ummah.

(b) There is no difference of opinion regarding these issues.

(c) They are not changed by time, place and circumstances.

(d) Whosoever denies these issues becomes Kafir.

(3) Also, those issues are called: (Hujjiayat, Kulliayat, Qat’iayat and Muhkamat).

Masa’il Furu’ (non-fundamental, non-basic or secondary issues):

(1) Those are the issues of Masa’il Daqiqah (minor or problematic issues) of both Masa’il ‘Ilmiayah (issues of ‘Aqeedah) and Masa’il ‘Amaliayah (practical issues).

(2) Those are the issues that are called: Shar’ Mu’awwal, (Ijtihad Shar’i) or Hukm Mu’awwal’.

(a) Those issues, which have Zanni Daleel.

(b) There is a room of difference of opinion regarding these issues.

(c) They are changed by time, place and circumstances.

(d) Whosoever denies these issues does not become a Kafr or a Fasiq, this is because the people of these issues do not say that, this is the Hukm or Allah and His Rasul, but this is our Ijtihad.

(3) Also, those issues are called: (Zanniyat or Juz’iayat).

In Conclusion:



Points of differences 

Masa’il Usul

Fundamental (basic) or Primary issues. 

Masa’il Furu’

Non-Fundamental (non-basic) or Secondary issues

(1) Masa’il ‘Ilmiayah 



(2) Masa’il ‘Amaliayah 



(3) Masa’il Jalilah 


(4) Masa’il Daqiqah 


(5) Type of Adellah:

(a) Qat’I Dalel.

(b) Zani dalel. 






(6) ‘Ijma’ Al-Ummah  


(7) The one who does not believe in it?  


(8) Status if Ijtihad.


(9) Are these issues changed by time, place and circumstances? 

Not changed


(10) Another names. 

Hujjiayat, Kulliayat, Qat’iayat and Muhkamat.

Zanniyat or Juz’iayat.





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