Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reasoning of Shariah rules?

The following are the notes from a circle delivered on this topic.

Allah (swt) has made acceptance of the Shariah rules and submission to them a matter of Iman, “But no, by Your Lord, they can have no (real) faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest submission.” [An-Nisa: 65]

We have seen the media attacking the Islamic rule of killing the Murtad (apostate), it is common for them to attack the Shariah rules such as the rules of cutting the hand of the thief, Jihad, marrying up to four wives, etc.

We need to respond correctly to such attacks.

1) When responding to the attack of Shariah rules, we should take the offensive and not be defensive

For example on this case we can highlight that the countless of number of innocent people that the Western powers have killed and continue killing in the world. Such as in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Africa, India, Indonesia and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq. So who are they to talk about justice?

2) We must not invent reasons for the rules unless Allah (swt) has given specific reasons

Due to defeatism people invent reasons for many of the Shariah rules which Allah (swt) has not given. For example they say that it was revealed that the murtad should be killed is that at the time when Islam was revealed it was a new Deen and therefore it needed to protect itself so a harsh punishment were revealed for people who apostated.

Other examples include: Islam permitted marrying up to four wives as there was more women in the society than men, Pork is haram because it is a dirty animal, Jihad was revealed only so that the people could protect themselves, etc.

So as an example it is completely incorrect to say that the reason why it is allowed for Muslim men to marry up to four wives is that there is more men then women in the world and that men normally die in war. This is not the illah for the rule as has not been mentioned in the divine texts. It would be a incorrect portrayal of Islam and very dangerous for us to site this as the reason for the rule, someone could say what if there is more men than women existing in certain places in the world, does this mean then it is permitted to marry more than one husband? Or that today women also fight as soldiers in some countries, so is it permitted for women to also marry more than one man? If we rationalise the rules by inventing reasons from the mind, this would lead us to abandoning these rules when that reason did not exist or maybe even changing the shar’iah as some corrupt scholars do today.

Many people have become used to justifying all the Shari’ah rules according to benefit (maslaHah), because they are influenced by the Western ideology and Western culture, which views benefit alone as a criterion for actions. Such an understanding contradicts Islam. The Prophet (saw) said:

“Whosoever interprets the Quran according to his opinion, let him seek his abode in the fire” [Tirmidhi]

“Whosoever interprets the Quran according to his opinion, even if he gets it right, he has indeed committed a sin” [Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi]

In the Sahih of Bukhari, on the authority of 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr who said: 'Abd Allah b. 'Amr b. al-'As overcame us with proof. I heard him say: “Allah will not deprive you of knowledge after he has given it to you, but it will be taken away through the death of the religious learned men with their knowledge. Then there will remain ignorant people who, when consulted, will give verdicts according to their opinions whereby they will mislead others and go astray.”

3) The mind is not capable to determine good and evil

Good and bad cannot be decided by the mind – human judgements are subject to disparity, differences and contradiction and influence from environment.

It is true that the mind has the ability to judge the reality as it is and to conclude certain facts about that which we can sense. However it is beyond the scope of the mind to establish laws pertaining to deciding between good and evil actions and a regulatory system including the solutions to all human problems whether individual, social, economic or political. Any such attempt would be fraught with disparity, difference, contradiction and influence from the environment.

Every human being can agree upon objective facts such as the fact that fire burns, the Middle East contains vast oil resources, that men and women are different physically, the meat of a pig has the ability to satisfy hunger and that the USA is currently the dominant superpower in the world, as these are based upon the reality which everyone can perceive.

However people disagree upon how mankind should act, what should be praised and shunned, what should be legal and illegal. People would not disagree that fire burns but different people have various opinions on whether the dead should be cremated by the use of fire. There is no disagreement that the Middle East contains oil, however there are varying views as to whether this oil should be allowed to be in the hands of private companies, should they be nationalised or should they be public properties managed by the state? It is an objective fact to all that men and women differ physically, however the debate exists regarding the laws that govern the relationships between them, should pre-marital relations be permitted? Should both men and women be given exactly the same roles in society? It is questions such as these that have concerned humanity for centuries.

In order to arrive at clear answers to these questions it is paramount to look the objective reality which is perceivable to all. It is clear that by studying the reality that surrounds us that it is impossible to objectively decide upon any actions of humanity in terms of evaluating and distinguishing the good actions from the abhorrent. Therefore it is not feasible for any individual or group of people to organise a system for mankind correctly even for the mind of a genius; since the reality tells us nothing about what is legal or what is illegal; what is good and what is bad; what should be praised and what should be shunned.

When people attempt to decide a system of life for themselves by deciding the right and wrong their ideas would merely be theories amidst thousands of other theories proposed by others. The theories of the Western secular philosophers who lay the foundations of Capitalist societies such as Adam Smith, John Locke, Rousseau, Jeremy Bentham and the like are not objective facts of how societies should be governed. They are only theories devised by laying assumptions and were surely influenced by the environment in which these thinkers lived.  In this respect these theories of how to regulate society are equal to the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler, Mussolini or any other human being in that they are theories devised by the limited mind of human beings.

To believe that the mind should be the legislator would mean that there would be no absolute truth regarding good and bad for humanity, as everyone could use their minds to decide their own values of right and wrong. In this case we would not be able to say definitively that rape, murdering of innocents, theft of private property are evil, as to attribute these labels upon them would be our own subjective opinion upon which people could differ. 

It is obvious that the mind’s evaluation of good or evil can be affected by the environment in which human beings live and it even becomes disparate and differs with the succession of ages. So if the evaluation of good and evil were left to the mind, the action would be righteous for one group of people and disgusting for others. This can be seen in the world today where dog is served as a national dish in some countries and eating dog is seen as disgusting in others, or where homosexuality is seen as a legitimate course of behaviour in the Western societies and seen as an abomination in others. The same action could be shunned in one age and praised in another such as the view of pre-marital relations between men and women in Europe in the past and the difference between that and the open promiscuity that exists today.

In fact the meaning of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is subjective according to people’s interpretation of these terms. In the Western Capitalist societies these terms are interpreted according to the secular philosophy upon which they are built i.e. that religion must be separated from life. Secularism led to the concept of Democracy taking root – once religion is separated from life, people were left to decide the law for themselves, as this is practically difficult for all people to decide in unanimity - they elect members of parliament to decide the law on their behalf by the will of the majority. Therefore the determination of all laws such as whether homosexuality should be a legal course of behaviour or prohibited by the law or whether the natural resources such as oil should be privatised or not, are decided by the minds of men.

Human beings incorrectly gave themselves the authority to judge upon the action as good or bad in comparison with things. When they found themselves able to judge upon the bitter thing as qabeeh (abhorrent) and upon the sweet thing as hasan (attractive) and on the disgusting shape as qabeeh and on the beautiful shape as hasan, they thought that they could judge on the truthfulness (sidq) as hasan and the lie as qabeeh, and upon keeping one’s word as hasan and on treachery as qabeeh. Based on this judgement, human beings imposed punishments on the qabeeh action and placed rewards on the hasan action. This judgement is incorrect as the actions cannot be compared to things. The senses can appreciate the bitterness and the sweetness of something and hence the mind can judge upon it. This is contrary to the action which does not possess a matter that human beings can sense so as to judge upon it as qubh or husn. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for them to judge upon such an action as husn or qubh from the action itself. Thus they must take this judgement from another source, that is from Allah (swt).

We as Muslims come to conclusive belief in Allah (swt) and the Quran as the final revelation from Allah (swt) based upon the objective reality which everyone can sense. We recognise that we do not have the ability to decide right and wrong for ourselves, rather the depiction of actions must come from a power beyond the mind i.e. the Shariah of Allah (swt). The fact that Allah (swt) is al-Hakim (The Legislator) is established by definitive meaning in numerous verses of Quran.

Allah (swt) says: "The right of rule is solely for Allah." [TMQ Yusuf: 40]

كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَكُمْ وَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَعَسَى أَنْ تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
 “But it may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows and you know not.” [TMQ Al-Bakara: 216]

4) Allah (swt) has given reason for only some types of rules

The Islamic systems are composed of AHkam Sharai’ah related to ‘ibadat (worships), morals, foodstuffs, clothing, mu’amalat (transactions) and penal code. Allah has given us reasons for only some rules and therefore we must not invent reasons for others.

The divine rules related to ‘ibadat, morals, food-stuffs, and clothing cannot be reasoned by ‘illah (legal reason) since there is no ‘illah for these rules in the divine texts of the Quran and the Sunnah. They should be taken as they came in the text and should not be based upon an ‘illah. Prayer (Salaah), fasting (Sawm), the Hajj, zakaah, the method of praying the Salaah and the number of its rak’at, the rites of Hajj and the minimum amount of property liable to payment of zakaah (niSaab of zakaah) and the like, should be taken, accepted and submitted to as they came in the text (tawqeefiyyah) and no ‘illah is sought for them. The same thing applies to the prohibition of eating the meat of a dead animal, pork and the like.

Seeking an ‘illah for these rules is wrong and dangerous. This is because if an ‘illah was sought the result would be that if the ‘illah of the rule ceased to exist then the rule would no longer exist. The ‘illah is connected to the rule in existence and absence. As an example, if we assumed cleanliness was the ‘illah for the wudu, and physical exercise as the ‘illah for salaah, and hygiene as the ‘illah for fasting (Sawm) or the prohibition of pork etc., then in these situations, whenever the ‘illah does not exist, the rule would not exist either, this would lead us to abandoning these shariah rules. For example if someone raised a clean pig whom they had fed with good food and kept in a hygienic manner, would we then be permitted to eat it?

Therefore seeking an ‘illah is dangerous for the rule and its performance. Thus, it is obligatory to take rules of ‘ibadat as they are, without seeking an ‘illah for them.

Another example is the issue of alcohol, there is no illah  for its prohibition, it is well known that it used be permitted at one time, even Hamza (ra) died while there was alcohol in his stomach as the verses prohibiting alcohol were revealed later. There is no illah contained in the verses prohibiting it, furthermore the Messenger (saw) said; “Wine (khamr) was forbidden for itself.”

With regards to the Mu’amalat (transactions) and penal code some of the ahkam (rules) have come with illah and some without any illah.

For example in respect to giving the spoils of Bani Nadhir to the Muhajireen and not the Ansar. Allah (swt) says regarding this:

“That it does not become a commodity between the rich among you.” [TMQ Al-Hashr:7]

While some other texts do not include an ‘illah at all such as:

“Allah has permitted bai’a (trading) and has forbidden Riba (interest).” [Al-Baqara:275]

The rules and evidences regarding the Muslim woman having to wear Khimar (headscarf) and Jilbab, the allowance for man to marry up to four wives at one time, the prohibition of women being rulers and many other rules have come without illah.

The valid ‘illah is the Shar’ai ‘illah that is mentioned in the text from Qur’an and Sunnah, for only these two are the Shar’ai texts. The ‘illah upon which the reasoned Hukm Shar’ai is built is a Shar’ai ‘illah and not a rational ‘illah which is derived from the mind. In other words the ‘illah must be mentioned in the text either explicitly or implicitly or by deduction or through a process known as Qiyas undertaken by a Mujtahid.

The Shar’’ai ‘illah is that which is taken from a Shar’ai text and should be restricted to it and its meaning. The Shar’ai text has neither indicated that bringing about a benefit nor warding off harm as being the ‘illah. That which is brought in the text is not indicated by the time or the place nor indicated by the action itself. It is rather indicated by the text in manifesting the ‘illah of the Hukm. This text never changes, so no consideration is given to the time and place in this context.

4) Difference between illah and hikma

As for the Hikmah (wisdom) behind a rule, Allah alone knows it, since our mind cannot conceive the essence of Allah, and hence we cannot comprehend His Hikmah. As for the Hikmah mentioned in the texts, such as the saying of Allah:

“Lo! Prayer (Salah) preserves from lewdness and iniquity.” [TMQ Al-’Ankabut:45]

“That which you give in Zakah seeking Allah’s countenance, has increased manifold.” [TMQ Ar-

And other sorts of Hikmah that are stated in the texts, they should be taken literally as mentioned in the text without making comparison to them. Unless the Hikmah of  the rule is mentioned in a text, neither Hikmah and nor an ‘illah has to be sought for the rule. 

5) The way to discuss shariah rules with non-Muslims is to link them to the belief

When we discuss the Shariah rules with non-Muslims we should not discuss the rule itself detached from the belief and attempt to convince them of it

We should divert the discussion to the issue of the belief which is provable rationally. We can prove that Allah (swt) exists and that the Quran is the word of Allah (swt). Therefore it is rational for us to accept whatever emanates from the Quran whether we have been given a reason for it or not.

The Aqeeda (belief) can be discussed rationally, once we have proved it automatically whatever emanates from it must be accepted.

5)  Discussing the consequences of implementing the shariah rules

The absence of illah in many of the rules does not mean that it is prohibited to discuss the consequences of applying the shariah rules upon the reality and how it will solve problems. This is permitted and useful especially when it comes to explaining the systems of Islam such as the social, economic, punishment and ruling systems. Explanation of the reality is not a justification for a hukm and we should be careful not to make consequences of applying the shariah rule as an illah for the rule.

For example we can discuss how the rules from the Islamic social system such as separation of men and women, the dress code, etc will create a society where there will be less agitation of the instinct of procreation and a society in which there will be less rape, molestation, fornication and the like as was the reality under the Islamic Khilafah in the past.

Another example is that of polygyny (marrying more than one wife), we can discuss how this shariah rule can solve problems in the reality. It us clear from the effect of polygyny/plurality of wives that in the community in which it is permitted there will not be a plurality of mistresses, and in communities which forbid the plurality of wives will have a plurality of mistresses. In addition, polygyny solves many other problems, which take place in a human community in its capacity as a human community, which depends on polygyny to solve them.

Abu Ismael


Ibtihal Bsis said...

Jazakum Allah khair- beautifully explained.

Anonymous said...

Jzk for an excellent article. Inshallah,it will truly help me in my dawah.