Department: Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC)
Module: Modern Journalism Based on Principles of Classical Islamic Scholarship
Lesson: Giving jurisprudence added contemporary relevance
June 4th, 2020
One thing that our madrassas do not impart enough, and we can learn from modern institutes of learning, is the practice of the process of deduction. It is known in Arabic as:
One may call it extrapolation. It is a basic principle of fiqh – Islamic jurisprudence.
To take an example, in our last dars we looked at a principle of fiqh, whereby something can be intrinsically worthless, but can be endowed with worth due to some extraneous factor.
The example we gave was superstitions and stories regarding graveyards and mountains.
On their own such superstitions and stories have no apparent worth. However, these superstitions and stories are endowed with worth by one important external factor, namely the salubrious effect that the stories and superstitions have on our care for our environment. We looked at this in our last dars, which you can view here:
If it was not for superstitions about not cutting the trees of graveyards, then graveyards would not be so richly endowed with greenery as this one, in Madyan, Swat
Now this is an example that you will not find in any of the books of principles of jurisprudence. It is an example that MDI itself extrapolated and cited, as an example of something being intrinsically worthless – a superstition – but made worthy by an external factor – the salubrious effect this superstition has on our environment.
It is surprising how difficult scholars in general find it to extrapolate original examples of the application of this principle of jurisprudence – something being intrinsically worthless but made worthwhile by some extraneous factor. They tend to just trot off examples that are cited in books of fiqh (jurisprudence). The example that is generally cited
جهاد بمعنی القتال
Struggle in the path of Allah, particularly in the sense of what is known as holy war
This example itself is not without relevance in the modern age.
Intrinsically, war entails death and destruction. It is not only worthless, it is harmful. But according to books on principles of jurisprudence, it is endowed with worth because of one extraneous factor, namely:
اعلاء کلمة الله
Holy war being waged for the ascendancy and pre-eminence of the Word of Allah
The citing of this factor is based on an authentic Hadith, stating that ‘the one who fights for the pre-eminence of Allah’s word is in the path of Allah.’ Here is the full Hadith:
عن أبي موسى رضي الله عنه قال: سئل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عن الرجل: يقاتل شجاعة، ويقاتل حمية ويقاتل رياء . أي ذلك في سبيل الله؟ فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : من قاتل لتكون كلمة الله هي العليا ، فهو في سبيل الله.
Abu Moosa relates how the Holy Prophet was asked about a man who fights out of bravery, and another who fights for honour, and another who fights to be seen of men: ‘Which one of these is in the path of Allah?’ The Holy Prophet said to him: ‘The one who fights for the pre-eminence of the Word of Allah is in the path of Allah.’
(Bukhari and Muslim)
This ‘pre-eminence of the word of Allah’ is the factor that has been identified by Islamic fuqaha – jurists – as the factor that converts destructive and condemnable warfare into qitalun fi sabeel’illahi – fighting in the path of Allah, commonly known as holy war.
However, in the Quran the reason given for conducting holy war is slightly different:
وَقَٰتِلُوهُمۡ حَتَّىٰ لَا تَكُونَ فِتۡنَةٞ وَيَكُونَ ٱلدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّهِۚ
Fight them until there is no more (religious) persecution, and religion belongs wholly to Allah.
Another principle – more to do with the study of Hadith than of jurisprudence – that we looked at in a recent dars was the process of squaring two reports – known as تطبیق – finding common ground or if this is not possible, giving preference to one of two reports – this is known as ترجیح – due to the source (راوي) being more reliable, or other aspects of the certificate of authentication of the report – its اسناد – giving it added strength.
In the case of the two factors that can be considered justification for holy war – pre-eminence of the Word of Allah on the one hand and eliminating religious persecution, both are basically the same thing. It is a case of there being common ground between the two factors.
One has been accomplished through there being freedom of speech in the modern age. Now one can work for the pre-eminence of the Word of Allah, by using one’s freedom of speech to preach the Word of Allah.
The other – elimination of religious persecution – has been achieved through freedom of religion being a tenet of the modern age.
These are the type of principles – of Islamic jurisprudence as well as of Hadith study, that MDI seeks to put in a modern setting as part of its effort to impart contemporary learning in the light of the Quran.