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Automatic Categorization of Islamic Jurisprudential Legal Questions using Hierarchical Deep Learning Text Classifier


Wesam H. AlSabban, Saud S. Alotaibi, Abdullah Tarek Farag, Omar Essam Rakha, Ahmad A. Al Sallab, and Majid Alotaibi


Vol. 21  No. 9  pp. 281-291


The Islamic jurisprudential legal system represents an essential component of the Islamic religion, that governs many aspects of Muslims’ daily lives. This creates many questions that require interpretations by qualified specialists, or Muftis according to the main sources of legislation in Islam. The Islamic jurisprudence is usually classified into branches, according to which the questions can be categorized and classified. Such categorization has many applications in automated question-answering systems, and in manual systems in routing the questions to a specialized Mufti to answer specific topics. In this work we tackle the problem of automatic categorisation of Islamic jurisprudential legal questions using deep learning techniques. In this paper, we build a hierarchical deep learning model that first extracts the question text features at two levels: word and sentence representation, followed by a text classifier that acts upon the question representation. To evaluate our model, we build and release the largest publicly available dataset of Islamic questions and answers, along with their topics, for 52 topic categories. We evaluate different state-of-the art deep learning models, both for word and sentence embeddings, comparing recurrent and transformer-based techniques, and performing extensive ablation studies to show the effect of each model choice. Our hierarchical model is based on pre-trained models, taking advantage of the recent advancement of transfer learning techniques, focused on Arabic language.


Islamic Fatwa, Natural Language Processing, Text Classification, Question Answering, Recurrent Neural Networks, Transformers.