Tayyib, Excess, Legislation

Issue 793 » June 6, 2013 - Shaban 8, 1435

Living The Quran

Al-Maida (The Table Spread) Chapter 5: Verse 88 (partial)

"Eat of what God has provided you as a lawful (halal) and good (tayyib)."

Tayyib is an adjective, the most basic semantic function of which is to denote any quality that strikes the sense - the sense of taste and odour, in particular - as very delightful, pleasant, and sweet. As would be expected, it is most frequently used to qualify food, water, perfume, and the like.

It is noteworthy that in the case of food, which, as everybody knows, constitutes an important item among those things that tend to be surrounded by all sorts of taboos, the Quran brings in the specific idea of 'sanctification', by associating tayyib with halal which means 'lawful' in the sense of 'free from all taboo'. So in this particular sense tayyib becomes almost a synonym of halal.

Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, p. 235

Understanding The Prophet's Life


In his daily life, though he was preoccupied by attacks, treachery, and his enemies' thirst for revenge, Muhammad (peace be upon him) remained mindful of the small details of life and of the expectations of those around him, constantly allying rigor and the generosity of fraternity and forgiveness.

His Companions and his wives saw him pray for hours during the night, away from the others, alone with the whispered prayers and invocations that nurtured his dialogue with the One. Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), his wife, was impressed and surprised: "Don't you take on too much [worship] while God has already forgiven all your past and future sins?" The Prophet answered: "How could I but be a thankful servant?" [Bukhari, Muslim] He did not demand of his Companions the worship, fasting, and meditations that he exacted of himself. On the contrary, he required that they ease their burden and avoid excess. He once exclaimed, repeating it three times: "Woe to those who exaggerate [who are too strict]!" [Muslim] And on another occasion, he said: "Moderation, moderation! For only with moderation will you succeed." [Bukhari]

Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp.  111, 112



Some Muslims may argue that, since God is the Lawgiver, there should not be a legislative body in an Islamic state. In fact, the legislature specifies and puts in detail the required laws, while the Quran and Sunna present general principles and certain rules. Even in the case of such particular rules in the Quran or the Sunna, different interpretations and jurisprudential views might arise about a certain text on the grounds of its language and its relation to other relevant texts. It is essential that a certain interpretation or jurisprudential view should be adopted by the state as a law, and this has to be decided by the legislature, so that the courts may not be left to different rules that may be applied in the same case according to the views and discretion of different judges—a complaint the well-known writer Ibn al-Muqaffa [d. 142H./759 C.E.] made in his time.

Besides, there is extensive room for what is allowed by sharia "al-mubah," and such an enormous area of allowed matters ought to be organized in a certain way, making any of them mandatory, forbidden, or optional according to the changing circumstances in different times and places. Public interest has its consideration in introducing new laws, which were not specified in the Quran and Sunna, but which are needed in a certain time or place, and which do not contradict any other specific rule in the divine sources, but can be supported by the general goals and principles of sharia. Many laws are required in a modern state in various areas such as traffic, irrigation, construction, roads, transportation, industry, business, currency, importing and exporting, public health, education, and so on, and they must only be provided according to the consideration of public interest or in the light of the general goals and principles of sharia, as there are no specific texts in the Quran and Sunna that directly deal with every emerging need in every time and place.

Compiled From:
"Islam in a Modern State: Democracy and the Concept of Shura" - Fathi Osman