By the beginning of the 10th century, development of Sunni jurisprudence prompted leading jurists to state that the main legal questions had been addressed and the scope of ijtihad was gradually restricted.
Sharia rulings fall into one of five categories known as “the five decisions” (al-aḥkām al-khamsa): mandatory (farḍ or wājib), recommended (mandūb or mustaḥabb), neutral (mubāḥ), reprehensible (makrūh), and forbidden (ḥarām).
These accounts gave rise to objections, and modern historians generally adopt more cautious, intermediate positions.
While the origin of hadith remains a subject of scholarly controversy, it is generally accepted that early Islamic jurisprudence developed out of a combination of administrative and popular practices shaped by the religious and ethical precepts of Islam.
The legal and moral verdict depends on whether the action is committed out of necessity (ḍarūra) and on the underlying intention (niyya), as expressed in the legal maxim "acts are [evaluated according] to intention." They were first clearly articulated by al-Ghazali (d.
1111), who argued that maslaha was God's general purpose in revealing the divine law, and that its specific aim was preservation of five essentials of human well-being: religion, life, intellect, offspring, and property.
The classical process of ijtihad combined these generally recognized principles with other methods, which were not adopted by all legal schools, such as istihsan (juristic preference), istislah (consideration of public interest) and istishab (presumption of continuity).
the roots of fiqh), which studies the theoretical principles of jurisprudence, and furūʿ al-fiqh (lit.
the branches of fiqh), which is devoted to elaboration of rulings on the basis of these principles.
Different legal schools—of which the most prominent are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali and Jafari—developed methodologies for deriving sharia rulings from scriptural sources using a process known as ijtihad.
Classical jurisprudence was elaborated by private religious scholars, largely through legal opinions (fatwas) issued by qualified jurists (muftis).
It was historically applied in sharia courts by ruler-appointed judges, who dealt mainly with civil disputes and community affairs.