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Today's Reminder

December 01, 2020 | Rabiʻ II 15, 1442

Living The Quran

Beneficial and Logical
Al-Rum (The Romans) Sura 30: Verse 7

"They know but the outer surface of this world's life, but of the ultimate reality of the life to come, they are unaware."

This is the essential difference of "knowledge" between those who restrict it to sensory information and empiricism, and those who allow room for higher intellectual practices which may be represented in logic and art, as well as in philosophy and religion. Intuition is known to inspire supersensory art in various fields, and "creativity" is an essential requirement for a genuine artist. Even in science, relativity and potentiality have turned material existence into more than a thick and dry concretism. Human imagination, vision and abstract conceptualization have always inspired scientific progress.

Spirituality is an unmistaken character of the human nature and history, which has proved to be unignorable, indispensable and unsuppressible. Materialism failed to satisfy the human needs and aspirations of the individual and the society, and its productivity has been obviously hindered by the psychological and social limitations and defects. The belief in the One God and the eternal life to come secures balance and stability within the individual's own self and in the society as a whole, while selfishness and worldliness tear and swing him/her between the extremes of haughty success and desperate failure. Thus the belief is beneficial as well as logical.

Compiled From:
"Concepts of the Quran" - Fathi Osman, p. 272

From Issue: 1059 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Consequences

Sulaym ibn Jabir al-Hujaymi said: 'I visited the Prophet and he was wrapped in a cloak with its edges over his feet. I said: "Messenger of God, advise me". He said: "Make sure to be God-fearing. Do not scorn any small kindness, not even pouring water out of your bucket into that of someone who needs it, or talking to your brother with a cheerful face. Beware of dragging your lower garment, because it is an act of arrogance which God dislikes. If a man tries to shame you for something he knows about you, do not try to shame him for something you know of him. Let him face the consequences of what he does while you have the reward for it. Do not abuse anything". After this, I never abused anything, neither an animal nor a human being'.

In this hadith, the Prophet refers to dragging one's robe or garment. In fact, this is mentioned in other hadiths and they are authentic, but every time the Prophet mentions this, he points out that it is an aspect of arrogance. Thus, he does not censure it for its own sake, but for the fact that it was in his time and place a mark of arrogance, done by the rich to stress that they were privileged. Some people nowadays make an important issue about the length of one's garment, without referring to any point of arrogance. The fact is that Islam does not disapprove of a particular type of dress, but it lays down principles. Whatever can be associated with arrogance is condemned. When a type of clothing is not so associated, it is acceptable, even if it covers the ankles, as trousers do.

The Prophet also makes it clear that one should not retaliate to an evil action with a similar one. The Prophet tells his interlocutor that he should not shame a person in retaliation for being shamed. Let the other person bear the consequences, and receive God's punishment, while the one accepting the situation with forbearance receives the reward. We also note how the man accepted all the Prophet's advice. He says that he never abused an animal or a human being after this occasion. The Prophet simply told him not to abuse anything and he applied this to animals in addition to humans.

Compiled From:
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi

From Issue: 1043 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Upholding the Spirit

Istihsan literally means 'to approve, or to deem something preferable'. It is a derivation from hasuna, which means being good or beautiful. In its juristic sense, istihsan is a method of exercising personal opinion in order to avoid any rigidity and unfairness that might result from the literal enforcement of the existing law. 'Juristic preference' is a fitting description of istihsan, as it involves setting aside an established analogy in favour of an alternative ruling which serves the ideals of justice and public interest in a better way.

Evidence suggests that the Companions and Successors were not literalists who would seek a specific authority in the revealed sources for every legal opinion (fatwa) they issued. On the contrary, their rulings were often based on their understanding of the general spirit and purpose of the Shariah, and not necessarily on the narrow and literal meaning of its principles. Istihsan has been formulated in this spirit; it is the antidote to literalism and takes a broad view of the law which must serve, not frustrate, the ideals of fairness and justice.

To give an example, oral testimony is the standard form of evidence in Islamic law on which a consensus (ijma) can be claimed to exist. This normally requires two upright (adl) witnesses unless the law provides otherwise (the proof of zina, for instance, requires four witnesses). The number of witnesses required in these cases is prescribed in the Quran, but the rule that testimony should be given orally is determined by consensus. Muslim jurists have insisted on oral testimony and have given it priority over other methods of proof, including confession and documentary evidence. In their view, the direct and personal testimony of a witness who speaks before the judge with no intermediary is the most reliable means of discovering the truth. The question arises, however, whether one should still insist on oral testimony at a time when other methods such as photography, sound recording, laboratory analyses, etc. offer at least equally, if not more, reliable methods of establishing facts. Here we have, I think, a case for a recourse to istihsan which would give preference to these new and often more reliable means of proof. It would mean departing from the established rules of evidence in favour of an alternative ruling which is justified in light of the new circumstances. The rationale of this istihsan would be that the law requires evidence in order to establish the truth, and not the oral testimony for its own sake. If this is the real spirit of the law, then recourse to istihsan would seem to offer a better way to uphold that spirit.

Compiled From:
"Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence" - Hashim Kamali

From Issue: 872 [Read original issue]