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What They're Reading in American Mosques, Pt. 5 – 'Fiqh-us-Sunnah'

NOTE: In addition to the alarming results of the survey, Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques– where 81% of mosques in this country contained texts that advocate violent jihad- the survey presents a standard that can give law enforcement a way to monitor or potentially to predict where violent jihad may take root. The mosques surveyed contained a variety of texts, ranging from contemporary printed pamphlets and handouts to classic texts of the Islamic canon. Of these, seven Islamic texts were selected that either ‘moderately’ or ‘severely’ advocated violent jihad. Nearly a decade after 9/11, Americans need more than ever to know what is being read in this country’s mosques. This series will provide a beginning guide to ‘the Islamist bookshelf’; readers will see that, rather than being old, dusty or obsolete religious tracts, the seven books described here are currently in use and, critically, form the basis for how modern Muslims actually understand Islam. In gathering materials and research for the Mapping Sharia website, we assessed the importance of each of the seven books, described their availability- usually, their ubiquity- in print and online. For those curious, we have attached links to PDFs of the complete works. At the end are samples of quotes advocating violent jihad found in the book. Read Part 1 (‘Gardens of the Righteous), Part 2 (‘Tafhim al-Qur’an’), Part 3 (Reliance of the Traveller) and Part 4 (Tafsir Ibn Kathir).

5. Fiqh-us-Sunnah

Sayyid Saabiq (d. 2000) began writing the Fiqh-us-Sunnah (also known, in English, as The Book on Acts of Worship) when he was 30 years old.

Saabiq intended the Fiqh-us-Sunna to be, for Muslim readers, both an introduction to fiqh (also known as the system of Islamic jurisprudence, or Shari’a) and a synthesis of Islamic legal rulings from the four Madh’hab, or schools of Sunni jurisprudence- Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, and Hanafi.

Rather than being an arcane and inaccessible text to its intended audience, Saabiq’s Fiqh-us-Sunna succeeded in becoming a commonly found reference for how Muslims are to live their lives according to the dictates of Shari’a. Indeed, in an extensive review of the book on the website Suhaiweb (which calls itself, “your virtual mosque”), Arif Hussain writes, “An individual may study this text and have a working manual to live their life by.”

The Arab News called the Fiqh As-Sunnah, “a treasure of knowledge that every Muslim needs…. essential reading for anyone who wishes to learn what Islam requires of the individual and the community in matters of faith, worship, family matters and business transactions.”

In the same article, The Arab News describes the genesis of the Fiqh-us-Sunnah, and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in its creation and promotion in Egypt and, eventually, worldwide:

It all started when Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the main Islamic revivalist movement in the Arab world, recognized Sayyid Sabiq’s strength in this area. Sayyid Sabiq had joined the Brotherhood and was teaching its members Fiqh in a simple way. Hassan Al-Banna asked him to write his lessons and have them typed and copied, so that they could be made available to whoever wanted them. Then he asked him to approach the task more methodically so that he would have a book that simplified the study of Fiqh. That started a series of booklets that were soon to form a large book, published these days in three large volumes, encompassing all areas of Fiqh. The book was subsequently translated into many languages.

Saabiq taught at Al-Azhar in Egypt and also at the Umm Al-Qura Islamic University in Mecca. He was decorated with an Egyptian Note of Honor for his Islamic scholarship in 1992.


Like the other texts surveyed by the Mapping Shari’a Project, the Fiqh-us-Sunnah is available in print and online in many different formats.

In print, lists several versions, including excerpted sections on “Purification and Prayer” and other topics, available as separate books.

Fiqh-us-Sunnah is available, in its original Arabic, at Kitab Klasik Islam, which contains an online library of Islamic reference books. The other texts surveyed by the Mapping Shari’a Project are also available there.

Read It For Yourself

Author: Sayyid Sabbiq

Title: Fiqh-us-Sunnah (PDF, 447 pages, 2.9MB)

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