I was wondering if you knew of any usul al-fiqh books in English that I could purchase or get from the library, so I can learn some of the basic usul words.
There are quite a few books that have been published in the last two decades on the science of Islamic law (fiqh) and jurisprudence/ legal methodology (usul al-fiqh). Older publications, in my opinion, such as Abdur Rahim’s The Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence hold little value now that newer publications have incorporated their original material and improved on their language and terminology.
Of all the books that I have personally come across, I have found Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali’s Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence to be the most beneficial for seekers of knowledge in search of the English equivalents of Arabic legal terms. The book’s sequence of chapters and choice of terminology in particular make it most appropriate and suitable for their purposes.
Besides Kamali’s book, I have found publications that have come out of the International Islamic University in Islamabad to be particularly helpful as well (amongst them, the works of Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, such as: Theories of Islamic Law: The Methodology of Ijtihad, Outlines of Islamic Jurisprudence, and Islamic Jurisprudence). Of course, we are not speaking about content here as much as choice of terms and fluidity of language. Kamali’s book, however, is much more easily available.
You may also want to check out Shah Abdul Hannan’s online book, Usul al-Fiqh, although I have not compared the language of the work with that of other books. Additionally, you might find benefit in Dr. Taha Jabir al-Alwani’s book Usul al-Fiqh al-Islami: Source Methodology in Islamic Jurisprudence, or its online version (Usul al-Fiqh).
I realize that I am probably leaving out a lot of works that may be better than those I have suggested, but since I have not read many of such books in English, I will suffice with providing a list below of books on the topic from openlibrary.org and hoping that readers will also provide their input: