Saturday, June 01, 2013

Q&A: The Meaning of "Ruling" by Sheikh Ata’ Abu Rashtah

The following is the translation of an Arabic Q&A from the website of the noble jurist and mufassir Sheikh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil Abu Rashtah (Allah preserve him).


It was mentioned in the book, The Ruling System in Islam that "the terms ruling, kingdom and sultan have the same meaning." So the question exists: Is this a linguistic meaning of ruling or the common meaning? Thus if it holds both meanings, would it be considered a coined terminology (lafdhm ushtarak)?


1.    The meaning of the word "حَكَمَ" "Hakama" used by the Arabs, i.e. in the language or what is called as the linguistic fact, is "to execute":
It is said in the mother tongue: "Al-Hukm: knowledge; Jurisprudence; judging justly; its roots is Hakama, Yahkomo... Qada (executed): Execution, Ruling
In Al-Muheet dictionary, it is mentioned: Al-Hukm: execution".
In Mukhtar As-Sihah: Al-Hukm: Execution; and he "ruled" between them... (depending on the accent marks used in the word)

2.    However, this wording was used as a terminology in the heart of Islam to denote "governing and Sultan/authority". The term is a common reality. (حقيقة عرفية). So the usage of the word "Hukm" during the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw),  the righteous Khulafa and the Arabs after them, it was used to mean leadership and Sultan/authority, i.e. customary reality.

3.    A word is not called a coined term (mushtarak) except if all its definitions were placed in the Usool of the language, i.e. if all the different definitions were linguistic realities, on the contrary for example that one of them is a linguistic reality and the other is a common term. Such as the word "Daabba" (cattle) is a word which Arabs established to mean all that walks on earth, then it became a common term among them that refers to animals that walk on four legs, thus excluding humans from this group. So one cannot say that the word "Daabba" is a common term that applies to all that walks on earth including animals that walk on four legs because the Arabs did not include all of these meanings to the word "Daabba" but only applied it to all that walks on earth, while customarily applicable only to the animal that walks on four... it is rather mentioned that the wording "Daabba" being all that walks on four that it is a common reality/fact.

In conclusion, common terminology refers to the word which the Arabs placed all of its definitions as a lingual reality, not that one definition is a linguistic reality and the other is a general common term/reality or a specific term as this is not considered common.

For this reason, the term "Hukm" is not a common term in the definitions "Qadaa'/execution" and "Sultaan/Authority". But it said that Hukm is a linguistic reality when it holds the meaning of Qadaa, and is a specified common reality in the meanings of Ruling and Authority.

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