This question raised the point that it is hard to distinguish the term 'illah (criterion, Arabic: عله) from hikmah (benefit, Arabic: حكمه) when it comes to ahkām al-fiqh (rulings of jurisprudence, Arabic: أحكام الفقه) which may cause misunderstandings of the rulings and their applications.

Question: What are the characteristics of 'illah and what is its governance? The governance of 'illah is a bonus part.

By governance of 'illah, I am referring to the principles of jurisprudence that provide the applicability of the ruling (the ruling is tied to the criterion's presence and absence, Arabic: الحكم يدور مع علته وجودا وعدما), the interpretation of its wording (what counts is the general meaning of the words, not the specific reason for revelation, Arabic: العبرة بعموم اللفظ لا بخصوص السبب), and accepted deduction methodologies (setting criteria based on perceived benefit or through qiyās for permissibility, Arabic: التعليل بالحكمه او بالقياس فى الرخص), as examples. An answer using a single school of jurisprudence is sufficient.

  • Please note that the use of qiyas when a text (Quran or sunnah evidence) is present is illegal.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 9:41
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    @Medi1Saif — Understood. The question about qiyas for permissibility is when a word is used in the ruling to specify a criterion. For example, the Prophet said certain congregational prayers may be combined if rain is falling (rule). Is the 'illah the rain, hence if snow falls, by qiyas the same rule applies? Is the 'illah the road conditions, then if there is any other cause for water on the streets, e.g., sewage, then prayers may be combined? And so on. It is how to distinguish 'illah for the purpose of qiyas in the case of permitting something only (prohibition is a different story).
    – III-AK-III
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 9:49
  • @Medi1Saif: It seems you're just deleting everythin I've searched for and it wasn't a copy paste answer. I used the info on the link to give an answer between illah and qiyas where I automatically gave characteristics of illah. So what's the problem? This is the only site that acts like this. Do you know how many hours I've spent searching and readin for answers and you just take it away with no valid reason. Man
    – user24306
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 12:18
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    @Tarik it was 90% copy paste and it included no new info you might use a similar answer on another question about illa and sabab as a basis. You can still read your answer and sources. In most other sites we have experts who answer before anybody posts his first finding and want it accepted with a minimum of effort. The question is about osol al-Fiqh it isn't an easy matter. I don't know of any translations in this subject which can be taken as evidence.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 12:22
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    @Tarik IMO of course both should be explained and distinguished: 'illah (plural: 'illal) and hikmah (plural: hikam). You also should consider what OP wrotes about governance of the 'illah.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


'Illah is the cause for which the rule is actually ruled, while Hikmah is the benefit residing in the rule.

For example, it is encouraged for people to cover their head when they go to WC, one may consider some benefits in this rule like covering your head in WC may keep your hair safe from vapors going out from urine (a hikmah in this case if it is proved true scientifically, or believed by common sense), but the rule is not changing if you use a fan in WC to get rid of those vapors. That's because we are not sure that the cause that the rule is actually set forward to address it is really the same thing we have think about it.

That is, if you know, from Quran and reliable Hadeeth, that the real and complete cause of setting forward a rule by Islam is something specific, then you can use your intellect to derive sub-rules and modifications to that rule for different occasions. This is not something that you can do by only knowing the Hikmah(s) behind the rules ...



I'm busy studying this science, so I'll try my best to explain but please forgive me if it's unclear as a result.

Take the example of fasting in Ramadan. If the new moon is sighted, you have to fast. Sighting the new moon is the سبب, an imam or qadi announcing that the new moon was sighted is one possible علة, and fasting us the حكم. The سبب and حكم are dependent on one another: you can't have one without the other. There can be multiple علة's though, so it's not tied to the حكم. For example, you could sight the new moon yourself, and that's another valid علة for the same حكم.

May Allah bless us all with full understanding.

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