Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mantuq & Mafhoum

Allah (swt) sent Islam as a final message until the Day of Judgement. Furthermore He (swt) states that is message is complete and contains everything.

“It (the Qur’an) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of Allah’s existing books and a detailed explanation of everything” [TMQ Yusuf: 111]

“And we have revealed to you the Book explaining all matters” [An-Nahl: 89]

However, one sees that the size of the Qur’an and the Sunnah are limited whereas the scope of problems and issues that mankind faces seem endless. Thus, one may ask the question: How can a text that is limited contain solutions to all the problems that mankind from the time of revelation until the Day of Judgement?

In order to answer this we must understand the nature of the text of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

1. Firstly, the Islamic texts are not like the Church views the Bible (i.e. as holy text, not a legal text) which is rigid and its scope limited, rather it is viewed as a comprehensive legal code, enabling rules to be derived from the text which are not explicitly mentioned in the text using a methodology known as Usul ul-Fiqh.

2. Secondly, the Islamic texts addresses the human being who has instincts and needs, providing them with solutions as the nature of the human being never changes leaving room for the Mujtahid to extract rules from the text by extending the original rule mentioned in the text to any new situation that arises.

3. Finally, the connotation of the texts is phrased in such a way that it provides the basis of extending a ruling o other rulings, and this process covers many issues. This article will address two of these issues, the Mantuq and the Mafhoum.

Mantuq

Mantuq is derived from the word ‘nataqa’ which linguistically is the past tense of ‘to utter’ and the word Mantuq means ‘the uttered’ in the past tense. Mantuq from the Shari’ah refers to what is understood directly from the uttered words of the text. For example, Allah (swt) says:

“He who witnesses the Shahr (Month) let him fast” [Baqarah: 185]

The text establishes the obligation to fast.

In addition Allah (swt) says:

“Establish Salah”.

This ayah establishes the obligation of Salah. Also the Messenger of Allah (saw) says: “Pray as you see me praying”.

This hadith states that Muslims have to pray the way the Messenger of Allah (saw) did. In addition to this, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The Imam of the Salah is established in order to be followed. Thus, make ruku due to his ruku”

This hadith states that the Imam must be followed in the Salah, and Muslims have to make ruku after the Imams ruku, not before. In the above examples the meanings are taken from the words of the texts. Thus, these meanings are taken from the Muntuq, or the uttered words (i.e. literal meaning), which are either uttered by the Messenger of Allah (saw) or revealed in the Qur’an.

Mafhoum

Mafhoum is derived from the word ‘fahima’ which linguistically is the past tense of ‘to understand’ or ‘to comprehend’. Here the Mafhoum does not refer to what is taken directly from the uttered words but what is taken from the meaning of the text i.e. the implicit or indirect meaning and the word Mafhoum means ‘the understood’ in the past tense. Mafhoum from the Shari’ah refers to what is understood directly from the meaning words of the text, not from the literal meaning behind the uttered words. For example, Allah (swt) says:

“Do not say to them ‘Uff’” [TMQ Isra: 23]

The direct meaning is the prohibition of saying ‘Uff’ to ones’ parents. However, the connotation gives the understanding of prohibiting the verbal and physical abuse, although this is not mentioned directly in the text. Thus, the prohibition of uttering this word is taken from the Mantuq, while the prohibition of directly abusing and beating the parents is taken from the Mafhoum. The text speaks directly about prohibiting the use of this word against ones’ parents, while the meaning indicates the prohibition of any form of abuse, verbal or otherwise. The Mafhoum is further divided into two categories:

• Mafhoum al-Muwafaqah
• Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah

Mafhoum al-Muwafaqah

The word Muwafaqah means ‘The agreement with something’. Thus, Mafhoum al-Muwafaqah when put together literally means, ‘The understood meaning which is in agreement with something’.

If the rule is taken from the meaning of the text is in agreement with the Mantuq of the text, then it will be called Mafhoum al-Muwafaqah. An example of this is the prohibition of beating the parents mentioned above. The Mafhoum, which is prohibition of physically abusing the parents, is in line with the Mantuq, which is prohibition of saying ‘Uff’ to them. Both the Mafhoum and the Mantuq prohibit something. Thus the Mafhoum in this case is called Mafhoum al-Muwafaqah.

Another example is when Allah (swt) says:

“Those who unjustly eat the wealth of the orphans” [Nisa’:10]

The Mantuq prohibits unjustly taking the wealth of the orphans. The Mafhoum of the ayah is the prohibition of destroying their wealth, not just taking it unjustly. Both the Mantuq and the Mafhoum establish prohibition. Since the Mafhoum is in the line with the Mantuq, then it is Mafhoum al-Muwafaqah.

Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah

The word Mukhalafah means ‘The something is NOT in agreement with something else’. Thus, Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah when put together literally means, ‘The understood meaning which is in NOT agreement with something else’.

If the rule is taken from the meaning of the text is NOT in agreement with the Mantuq of the text, then it will be called Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah, for example, when a Mantuq establishes an obligation and the Mafhoum establishes a prohibition, as both the obligation and the prohibition are not in line with each other. This can also occur when either the Mantuq or Mafhoum establishes an obligation or prohibition and the other does not.

For example, Allah (swt) says in Surah al-Ahzab,

“And those who harass believing men and women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) calamity and a glaring sin” [Ahzab:58]

The Mantuq of this ayah prohibits inflicting any harm or harassment to any Muslim without a just reason. However, if there exists a just reason to inflict harm on him then it is halal to inflict this harm. For example if a Muslim stole his hand will be cut, and this is a physical harm on him. The Mafhoum establishes something as halal, whereas the Mantuq establishes something haram. Since halal and haram are not in line with each other the Mafhoum is known as Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah.

Another example is also in Surah an-Anfal,

“If you divorce a believing woman before you consummate the marriage, then there is NO Idda’” [Ahzab:49]

The Mantuq establishes a rule saying that if such a woman is divorced, she can re-marry without the Idda’ period. The Mafhoum states that if there is a divorce after the marriage is consummated, then Idda’ is obligatory. The Mantuq does not establish the Idda’, and the Mafhoum establishes the Idda’. Hence this is Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah. This is an example of a hukm linked to a specific condition.

This Mafhoum can only apply in four situations:

1. If the hukm is linked to a specific description
2. If the hukm is linked to a specific condition
3. If the hukm establishes limits either in space or time
4. If the hukm is linked to a specific number

1. If the hukm is linked to a specific description

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “If the rich person keeps delaying the payment of his debts, then this will be unjust”

The Mantuq of the hadith establishes the prohibition of continuing to delay payments of the wealthy. The Mafhoum is that it is permissible for a poor person who cannot pay to ask for more time. The Mantuq establishes the prohibition and the Mafhoum establishes the permissibility.

In this example, the rule in the original text is linked to a description and not a name or noun. The word “Ghany” means wealthy, which is the description for a person, this description may exist or not exist.

2. If the hukm is linked to a specific condition

Allah (swt) says:

“If they are pregnant, then spend on them until they deliver” [Talaq:4]

The Mantuq of the ayah establishes the obligation of spending on divorced women until they give birth. The Mafhoum, however does not establish the obligation of support if they are not pregnant. The Mantuq is not in line with the Mafhoum, hence it is Mukhalafah.

3. If the hukm establishes limits either in space or time

Allah (swt) says:

“Continue fasting until the night” [Baqarah: 187]

The Mantuq of the ayah orders Muslims to fast until sunset. The Mafhoum, however prohibits fasting after the sunset. The Mantuq is not in line with the Mafhoum, hence it is Mukhalafah.

4. If the hukm is linked to a specific number

Allah (swt) says:

“Those who commit zina, male and female, lash them 100 lashes”

The Mantuq of the ayah establishes the obligation of lashing 100 times (specifically). The Mafhoum, prohibits going below of above 100. The Mantuq is not in line with the Mafhoum, hence it is Mukhalafah.

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “If three people set off on a journey, they should appoint one of them as an Amir” and “It is forbidden for any three people to be anywhere on earth without having appointed one Amir from amongst them”

The word one means just that, and refers to a number one and no more. This is deduced from Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah. In this instance, no text has come to nullify it, thus is applicable. This stipulates the application of: “they should appoint one as Amir” and no more, or “without having appointed one Amir” and no more. Hence, the Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah in the two ahadith indicates that it is absolutely forbidden for the Imarah to be conferred to more than one man.

When Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah does not apply

If the hukm is not linked to any of the above it does not apply. For example, if the hukm is linked to a thing (noun - ism) as opposed to a description (adjective - sifat). To illustrate this we know that monopolies are haram in Islam, as the Messenger of Allah said: “Only the wrongdoers do monopolies” [Muslim]. Thus collecting a commodity and waiting for the price to rise then selling it is haram, but if the supply is large and collecting the commodity will not put a burden on the people, then it is permitted.

In another hadith the Messenger of Allah (saw) condemned monopolies on food items. The Mantuq of this hadith is that monopolies on food items are haram, and the Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah is the permissibility on items other than food. However, since the prohibition is linked to the word ‘Ta’aam’ – which is according to the rules of Arabic grammar an Ism (noun) and not a Sifat (adjective), the then Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah does not apply and the prohibition will includes monopolies of all items, whether food or not. The meaning of this hadith mentions one item (food), which is included in the prohibition.

In another example, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Fulfil the bay’ah to the imams, one after another” and “The imams are all from the Quraysh” [Muslim]

The first hadith establishes the appointing of the imam or Khaleefah. The second hadith links the obligation of giving the bay’ah mentioned in the first hadith to the word Quraysh, which is an Ism – noun, in the Arabic language. Thus Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah, which would prohibit an imam who is not from the Quraysh, does not apply.

It also does not apply if there is another text that clearly contradicts the Mafhoum as when Allah (swt) says:

“And those who harass believing men and women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) calamity and a glaring sin” [Ahzab:58]

The ayah prohibits harming Muslims, from the Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah it implies that is it permitted to harm non-Muslims, this is incorrect, as it does not apply where another daleel prohibits inflicting harm to anyone unjustly, even if they are non-Muslim. Also when Allah (swt) says:

“If you divorce a believing woman before you consummate the marriage, then there is NO Idda’” [Ahzab:49]

The ayah links the Idda’ to the divorced believing woman – the ayah implies that this does not apply to non-Muslims, and they have not Idda’.

This is incorrect for two reasons:

“Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three periods” [Baqarah:228]

This ayah does not add any description to the divorced woman, except her being divorced – thus the Mantuq of this ayah overrules the Mafhoum al-Mukhalafah of the ayah in Surah al-Ahzab.

The description in the ayah of Surah al-Ahzab (believer vs. non-believer) does not warrant the rule being applied. Whether a woman is a believer or not does not have any relation to whether or not a waiting period would be implemented. Thus the rule will remain general, and the description does not restrict the rule. If a teacher were to give a reward to an outstanding student, this is an example of a description of a student who warrants whether or not the reward should be given. If a reward was given to the fattest student in the class, this has no relation to his performance. Similarly in the ayah mentioned there exists no basis for applying the waiting period for a woman based on her belief.

Summary

In summary, two things must be kept in mind:

• Firstly, not discussing these issues has a devastating consequence on the mind of the Muslim Ummah, as they can abuse the Islamic texts for their own gains and interests. As an example, the so-called rulers in the Islamic lands could use their scholars to justify monopolies on food, raping the resources on the Ummah, using the principle. Thus a good understanding of these principles of essential to the revival of the Muslim Ummah as they relate to the methods of understanding the Islamic texts which shape the course of the lives of the Muslim Ummah.

• Secondly, the process of understanding text is very precise like any process; therefore it should be regulated by strict protocols and procedures. This is akin to conducting a scientific experiment without any knowledge of materials, methods, formulae and equations. This is totally unacceptable.

1 comment:

MFR said...

Hey, thanx. This really help me for my last minute exams preparation.

Allahu yubariku fiik.


Student of Al-Azhar University.
2 year, Syariah.