TLDR: What sources of legislation are valid in Shia Islam? Given that Shia Islam varies greatly (asharis vs. rafidees). I will explain by an analogy in Sunni Islam what I'm looking for.

In Sunni Islam, there is consensus that you derive rulings from the following sources (in order, because of their strength of the higher level over the lower level):

  • Ayaat (verses) of Qur'an
  • Hadith (narrations) of Rasulullah
  • Ijmaa (consensus) of the scholars
  • Qiyaas (analogy)

After this, there's difference of opinion about what to use next. Each madhab, for example, differs after #4 about what source to use.

What's the equivalent in Shia Islam?

Also, I have heard that Shia Islam has its own "hadith" (narrations) attributed to Ali ibn Ali Talib (radiallahu anhu), the fourth Khalifah in Sunni Islam. Please weave that into your answer.

4 Answers 4


For Twelver Shia or the Ithnā'ashariyyah', it is:

  1. Qur'an
  2. Hadith
  3. Aql (intellect)
  4. Ijma

As for the difference between Sunni hadith and Shi'a, it includes ahadith (narrations) of ريا Rasulullah and Twelvers imams. Some of popular hadith books are Nahj al-Balagha of Ali ibn abitalib (A.S.) and Sahife Sajjadiya of the fourth Imam.

  • 2
    How aql is different from qiyas?
    – Gulshan
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 10:21

In Shi'ite Islam Qiyaas (making analogy) is forbidden, and instead Aghl (intellect) is substituted and also Ahadith are also provided from all the 14 infallibles A.S., as already stated by the other members.

Note that Qiyaas and Aghl are both devolved to Muslims not being infallible. These are required as to find the answer for new questions in different times (so that Islam is alive), and on the hand should be used only with ultimate care not to let personal ideas enter the Ash-Shari'ah.

According to Shia Islam Aghl is permitted to be used as Quran declares that for example after stating a rule:

كَذَ‌ٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

Thus doth Allah Make clear His Signs to you: In order that ye may understand. (Al-Baghareh:242)

Or after complaining those who do not use their intellect about what rule is the rule of Allah and what is not, invented as a lie against Allah:

مَا جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ مِنۢ بَحِيرَةٍۢ وَلَا سَآئِبَةٍۢ وَلَا وَصِيلَةٍۢ وَلَا حَامٍۢ ۙ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ٱلْكَذِبَ ۖ وَأَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

It was not Allah who instituted (superstitions like those of) a slit-ear she-camel, or a she-camel let loose for free pasture, or idol sacrifices for twin-births in animals, or stallion-camels freed from work: It is blasphemers who invent a lie against Allah; but most of them lack wisdom. (Al-Maa'edeh:103)

And also there is famous Hadith in Shia Islam that everything commanded by Aghl (not personal feelings) is also approved by Shar' and everything commanded by Shar' is also approved by Aghl (کلما امر به العقل امر به الشرع، و کلما امر به الشرع امر به العقل).

However, there are evidences that Qiyaas is not permitted in Islam, e.g., once there was a debate between Imam Sadiq AS and one of the Sunni Imams, Imam Sadiq AS asked him if he exploit Qiyas and he answered yes, then Imam A.S. Asked him three questions in this regard one of them is this: Which sin is bigger, murder or adultery (Zinaa')? He answered back Murder. Imam AS asked him then why does Allah states in his book that proof of murder needs 2 witnesses whereas the proof of adultery needs 4 person as witness? Not all the underlying wisdoms of a rule is clear to us so that Qiyaas (making analogy between different rules) is forbidden in Shia Islam.

The rest of sources of legislation is common in Shi'ite and Sunnah, except for them having different authentic Ahadith, as you already know.


Most of Shia scholars: Quran, Sunnah, Ijma, Aql (Logic and reasoning)

In Shia the Qiyas is not accepted and Imam Sadiq S.A said the first who did Qiyas was Satan when he said to God: you created Adam from soil and created me from fire SO I am better than him.

There are many interesting arguments between Imam Sadiq (S.A) and Abu Hanifa about Qiyas.

About Hadith book of Imam Ali S.A:

When Gabriel delivered verses of Quran to prophet memorized them and all know prophet did not wrote anything all his life. Imam Ali S.A came to home of prophet every night and said Salam behind door. If the Prophet replied he entered home an unless returned. At nights prophet dictated the verses of Quran and also the comments said by Gabriel (but not as part of Quran) to Ali S.A and Ali S.A wrote them on skis of animals and bones of animals. Until all Quran was written in this method. The volume of this Quran with its comments was 3 times of Quran only. Also any of Sahaba wrote his/her own Quran. They were called in the name of the sahaba who wrote it. For example Quran of Aisha, Quran of Ali (in fact Quran of the Prophet) ,...

Before the Prophet die said to Ali S.A.:

O! Ali when I died stay at your home and do not come out until collect and sort my pieces of Quran and form it as one united Book. (The animal skins were separate).

So after the death of the Prophet Ali S.A stayed at home until 4 days and worked on Quran. When finished came to mosque and said to Sahaba: this is Quran of prophet. Abubakr who was aware that in that Quran some things is written about Caliphate of Ali S.A (in comments parts) after prophet said to Ali S.A.: we have our own Quran and we do not need it. Ali S.A. said: you will never see this Quran and taken it to his home. That Quran was passed to next Imam (Imam Hasan S.A) and so on to next Imam of 12 infallible Imams and now it is with Imam Mahdi S.A.

Imams of Shia always quoted to their students from that Quran and students noted them. Until 400 hand-writings were formed out of that Quran during years and those 400 later formed the base of Shia Fiqh (Jafari Fiqh).




  • @Ahmadi seems okay, just needs formatting and shortening. Your answer seems to indicate that shias have their own version of the Qur'an which is not what everyone else uses, is that accurate?
    – ashes999
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 18:39
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    @ashes999 no we do not have that Quran available. also I said comments are distinguished in that Quran. they are comments and not verses of Quran. its like a commentary book of Quran containing Quran itself. it is with Imam Mahdi S.A. only. but the Quran currently we have and use everyday is exactly same as Quran sunni Bothers have. here you ca see and check the Quran in a shia source: quran.al-islam.org and also makarem.ir/websites/english/quran Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 18:50

The primary Sources of Shia Islamic Law are:

  1. The Qur'an (the word of Allah). From the authenticity and credibility view point the Qur'an is at the highest level, but the problem implies the meaning and interpretation of the Qur'an.

  2. Sunnah (the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad and the infallible Imams; including their “Satisfactory Silence toward an act” ). Unlike the Qur'an, the authenticity and credibility of Sunnah is not certain. (According a Hadith from Imam Sadeq (a) all their sayings is reported from the earlier Imams and finally from Imam Ali and Imam Ali is reported from the prophet. So the chain of all the Hadiths in Shiah finally reach the prophet Mohammad (mpbuph).

  3. Ijma of Fuqaha: every consensus among the Fuqaha is not authentic and acceptable. Those consensus which discover the word of the infallibles is valid only.

  4. Aql (Reason).

  5. Qiyas and Ray (Analogical Deduction) is a personal opinion of a person so it is not authentic and valid).

  6. Urf (Custom): It is valid but just as an instrument to clear an issue. It is not an independent source.

All schools agree on the Quran and Hadith as the primary sources, but regarding other sources:

  • Maliki and Hanbali try to limit the use of other sources.
  • Shafi'i school is a moderate (compare to Maliki, Hanbali and Hanafi) in using the other sources.
  • Hanafi invokes to Qiyas, Ray, and Urf more than any other schools of Fiqh.
  • 2
    Assalamu 'alaikum and welcome to Islam Stack Exchange. Answers in this site are expected to be packed with references and citations. please cite your answer so it becomes more acceptable. Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 12:54
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    Also, it looks like you've mixed up things, first you talked about the sources in a Shia view, and then mentioned Sunni schools, I think you might need to review the question and your answer, and the sources you depend on. Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 12:56

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