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Monday, June 02, 2014

Islamic Jurisprudence

A Judge Of France, Symbol Of The Law

I have been reading about Islamic Jurisprudence, and today I began to read Surah 5, The Table Spread, with reference to the views of Abdul Qadir Awdah, who writes in Islam: Between Ignorant Followers and Incapable Scholars :
God has sent this jurisprudence, complete and comprehensive, as it is, in a short period of time, starting from the first day of the Prophet's mission, and ending on the day of his death, or on the day when the following verse was revealed:
"Today I have perfected your system of belief and bestowed My favors upon you in full, and have chosen submission (al-Islam) as the creed for you".
(The Holy Quran, Chapter 5. "The Table Spread", verses 3)
This verse is the authoritative pronouncement relative to the perfection and permanence of the jurisprudence, especially since another verse has expressly stipulated that Muhammad (pbuh) is the last Prophet:
"Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but a messenger of God, and the seal of the prophets".
(The Holy Quran, Chapter 33. "The Clans, The Coalition", verse 40) ...

First, the translation of "system of belief" is the word "Deen", which is the ordinary word for "religion". The only warranted translation is "Today I have perfected your Belief...", or "Today I have perfected your Religion..."
The implication that the "Deen" is a "system"made up of many individual parts which may be cut out of the body of scripture and autopsied is a gross error in my opinion, notwithstanding the fact that most people - European and Islamic - have such a view.

There is no separating out small truths from the larger Truth, for just as Muhammad be not the father, but the messenger of the message and the seal, so also is the Quran a message which does not give birth to new messages.

When we come to:
"As for the thief, whether man or woman, cut his hand".
(The Holy Quran, Chapter 5. "The Table Spread", verse 38)
and we interpret this as a solitary and full-standing injunction to punishment, we have allowed a system of belief to be born anew, establishing a new entity called Law, about which future scholars may argue.

No part of holy scripture may be considered apart from the entirety of the scripture, for on its own, it calls forth new and different meanings from the souls and minds of those who look upon it, effectively setting up a new system of belief of changeable parts derived from the original scripture.

Everything within a scripture must be lived and be breath before we speak on it. Therefore, the spirit of forgiveness and tolerance will inform the shape of the spirits of punishment, and there is no enrichment of punishment over charity, nor is there a magnification of tolerance over rectitude. The quote:
“Far better that I should err 1000 times in forgiving than once in the application of a sanction"-Umar ibn Abdul Aziz
is not a hypertrophy of charity, but a desire not to apply a sanction in error, which is far more acceptable to a community than a desire to err 1000 times in harsh punishment than once in forgiveness, which would be despotism.

Once the seal is set, that which is given us is whole and unbroken, no matter how hard we try to winnow the words of the Holy into small and separate kernels of wheat for our daily bread. How this view affects the desire of people to have their systems of Jurisprudence, which indeed are heaps of laws and interpretations, is not my concern.

(I have expressed similar views about those who slice and dice the Bible, particularly parts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, taking the parts choicest for their "system of individual beliefs" and leaving the rest.)


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