Literally: Indispensable things. The quality of what is indispensable or necessary.
As an Islamic term: Essentials and incontestible matters of religion. The principles and pillars of religion which are obligatory to have îmân in.
“You know that it is one thing to know the existence of a thing and another to know its quality and essence. Also, a single proposition comprises numerous ordinances. Some of them are necessary, and some are theoretical (nadharî) and controversial…
… so from now on, we shall distinguish between the necessary (dharûrî) and that which is not necessary. Thus, the matters in the Qur’an’s answer which is understood to be necessary ordinances may not be denied. It is like this: Dhu’l-Qarnayn was a person whose existence is corroborated by Allah. Under his direction and guidance, a barrier was constructed between two mountains in order to repel the incursions of dhâlims and nomads. Ya’juj and Ma’juj were two raiding tribes. At the Ilahî command, the barrier will be destroyed. And so on. According to this analogy, the ordinances indicated by the Qur’an are the dharûriyyah of the Qur’an. Denying even a letter of them is impossible.
However, the Qur’an makes no defining or specific statement concerning the boundary of reality and the details of circumstances for those subjects and their predicate. Rather, in accordance with the rule, “A general statement can express or signify a particular (has) one with none of the three types of signification” (dalalat-i salasah) – and the rule of the logic, “The subject and predicate of a preposition may be conceived of in any form” it is established that the Qur’an does not indicate them specifically; but it may accept them. That is to say, those statements are theoretical (nadharî) statements. They may indicate other things. They are the subjects that give rise to opinion for ijtihad. They are open to interpretation. Their being disputed by Muhaqqiqîn shows that they are theoretical (nadharî).” Rational Arguments ( 68 )
“hadith comprises three propositions:
The First: It was spoken by the prophet. This proposition results from -if there was- tawâtur.
The Second: The meaning intended by the statement is haqq and right. This proposition results from the proof born in miracles. Both these have to be agreed to. And if a person denies the first, he is arrogant and a liar, while if he denies the second, he falls into dhalâlah and darkness.
The Third: This is what is intended by the statement and this is the jewel found in the shell; I am showing it. The proposition is this: it is the result of ijtihad, not wishful thinking. In any event, someone who is mujtahid is not obliged to follow the other mujtahids. This proposition has been the cause of fierce dispute. All the “qâl u qîl”1 about it testifies to this. If it proceeds from an ijtihad, the person who denies it is neither ignorant nor does he fall into kufr. For a general matter is not extinguished when one particular thing is extinguished. In consequence, all houses should be entered by their own door since each has its own door and each lock has its own key.” Rational Arguments ( 51 )
1 (the narrations in the form of “said or it is said”)