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Is the idea of static fiqh rationally defensible?

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Alright. Let me try to motivate the question without writing a novel. 

Differences in perspective between (for lack of better terms) traditionalist and progressive/modernist Muslims in the realm of practical laws in Islam often hinge on the tension between two contrasting views of the nature of Islamic law—static and dynamic.

In static fiqh, if a scenario was mentioned in the Quran or hadith, and the same scenario appears today, generally the assumption is the same ruling applies, because—to oversimplify a little bit—it is assumed that Muhammad’s role as “seal of the prophets” means that law-giving was closed and rules he and his family presented were meant to be the final word.

The dynamic fiqh picture, on the other hand, takes the stance that precedents in practical law are intimately tied up with their historical, social, cultural, and technological context, and that the way a scenario was solved in previous centuries was by default crafted for those specific people, and would often have been impacted deeply by that context, and therefore will often require adjustment to apply the lessons of the precedent to the context of a later, much different time. Law evolves to fit changing circumstances. 

There is arguably a third way between these two views that says that the background context must be considered part of the scenario. Therefore, in this view, it’s not that the solution changes over time for the same scenario. Rather, the scenario is no longer the same scenario because the relevant context changed, and therefore the ruling will often be different. For the sake of argument though, let’s lump this in with dynamic fiqh, since it falls under the same basic idea that scenarios that are superficially similar to scenarios described in the Quran or hadith will often need different solutions than those of the classical texts. 

In mainstream traditional discussions of Islamic law, the static fiqh view is usually taken as the default assumption. Under the system of ijtihad, sometimes rulings will be updated based on contextual arguments, for example the rulings on chess that take a friendlier view to the game today than a literal reading of the harsh view of classical texts would seem to allow. But the default assumption is toward the static view, and the burden generally is placed upon the one who wants to argue for a shift in ruling due to contextual reasons. 

From a rational jurisprudential standpoint, however, the natural default assumption is generally the opposite. The default assumption is that systems of law are tied up with human context and as a result need to change gradually as people change. In the usual human world, it’s not considered a reasonable prospect for anyone to make a law and expect it to be applicable 1400 years later. At least beyond very basic, deep rooted, clearcut big rules like don’t murder, don’t steal, etc. 

Along these lines, I want to flip the script a bit and invite believers in the traditionalist static view to defend that view on a rational basis. Why do you think the idea of a law system, established in the 7th century and being suitable and applicable and optimal thereafter for the rest of time, is a prospect that is reasonable or even plausible? 

Motivation for the question/disclosure: I’m working on an article about this topic.  I have some decent idea the main arguments people are going to put forward, but I’m curious to see if anyone brings forward something unexpected. 

Anyone interested in discussing this?

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On 7/22/2022 at 2:32 AM, kadhim said:

In static fiqh, if a scenario was mentioned in the Quran or hadith, and the same scenario appears today, generally the assumption is the same ruling applies, because—to oversimplify a little bit—it is assumed that Muhammad’s role as “seal of the prophets” means that law-giving was closed and rules he and his family presented were meant to be the final word.

Are you claiming that the words of the Holy Prophet SAW and Ahle Bayt AS are no longer necessary?

On 7/22/2022 at 2:32 AM, kadhim said:

Law evolves to fit changing circumstances. 

So you are following a marja now?

On 7/22/2022 at 2:32 AM, kadhim said:

The default assumption is that systems of law are tied up with human context and as a result need to change gradually as people change. In the usual human world, it’s not considered a reasonable prospect for anyone to make a law and expect it to be applicable 1400 years later.

Prophet SAW is not just "anyone to make a law" because he only said and did what Allah wanted him to do. At least I think you believe in ijtihad since you mentioned it.

On 7/22/2022 at 2:32 AM, kadhim said:

Why do you think the idea of a law system, established in the 7th century and being suitable and applicable and optimal thereafter for the rest of time, is a prospect that is reasonable or even plausible? 

Why do you think our Islamic law is not reasonable or plausible? 

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We briefly touched on this in previous threads so you are probably already familiar with my arguments which go into the direction of the Quran being a book of guidance for all times, the halal and haram from the time of the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) remaining halal and haram until the Day of Judgement etc

To add further to this, I would argue that if we want to revise or reform rulings presented by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) through the Quran or through the Prophet and Aimmah (peace and blessings on all of them) then one would need to bring an equivalent authority (ie we would need to match the Quran and the Prophet if we want to now replace their instructions with new ones). This itself equates to making a new religion.

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On 7/22/2022 at 2:32 AM, kadhim said:

Why do you think the idea of a law system, established in the 7th century and being suitable and applicable and optimal thereafter for the rest of time,

Salam it's a wrong assumption because a divine law system has been established since era of prophet Adam (عليه السلام) after descending from Paradise which it has been started from his family since story of Cain &Abel  which it has  reached to it's final form in era of prophet Muhammad (pbu) which both of  christians & jews have had a law system nevertheless they have considered it seperate from religion by calling prophet Solomom (as)& David (عليه السلام) as just kings which in era of prophet Muhammad (pbu) it has both of first (static) & secondary (dynamic) rulings which there are evidnces which prophet mummad (pbu) has given orders based on situation by preserving first (static) rulings in especiall occasions likewise treating with peopl after conquest of Mecca.

On 7/22/2022 at 2:32 AM, kadhim said:

t’s not considered a reasonable prospect for anyone to make a law and expect it to be applicable 1400 years later.

Anyway it's ajust a christian-jewish narrative which says because rules of Islam are 1400 years old so then it's nor applicable for now nevertheless still now they use Christian & Jewsish laws which is older than rules of Islam also all concepts of Liberalism & democracy & etc have  pagan greek & Roman origins through new interpretations which their history is unknown so therefore if we just look most modern laws so then laws of Islam are more modern than any law system so therefore it's more compatible with modern world. 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

We briefly touched on this in previous threads

Yes. We almost cracked into this topic not long ago in another topic, but unfortunately an overzealous mod shut it down then and said to talk about it in its own place. So here we are. Good to have you here. 

13 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

Quran being a book of guidance for all times

This is not really a valid objection. For a few reasons. 

For one, it implicitly assumes that the primary mode of guidance of the Quran is via legal statute. This is far from true however. Typical counts of “legal verses” in the Quran add up to somewhere around 500 verses. Less than 10% of the text. I hope I’m not putting words into your mouth if I presume that you consider the other 6100-odd verses as providing guidance for all times as well? Which means that, even under the traditional static fiqh picture, more than 90% of the Quran’s guidance is provided via other modes—stories of previous peoples and prophets, reflections on nature, images of heaven and hell, reflections on the power and grandeur of God, etc. 

Second, even when it goes into the legal mode of guidance, the Quran often does so at a relatively high level without getting into minute details. It enjoins prayer, but the vast majority of the details we associate with salat rules are not found there. Khamr is stepwise prohibited over a few different passages, but details of how and whether that prohibition is to be enforced as well as details of how that extends to other beverages that do similar things to the human mind are not present. Zina is forbidden in the Quran, the jald (whipping) punishment is mentioned, but all sorts of details of when that applies, as well as distinctions between “lesser” zina (unmarried/unprotected—fornication) and “greater” (married/protected—adultery) zina are missing. 
Yes, I can already hear you getting ready to chime in to observe that the Quran gives authority of guidance to the Prophet and others who did elaborate details. To which I say, yes, granted, and we will get to that. The point is simply to observe that, not only is the giving of legal guidance a small minority of the guidance of the Quran, even when it does enter that mode, it tends to not fuss over details. Which, again, I think undermines your notion that the idea of the Quran as a source of timeless guidance is a strike against the idea that the finer details can evolve. 

These two points together seem to indicate rather clearly that detailed, statute level legal guidance is not a primary priority of the Quran when it comes to its role in itself as a guide to mankind. I find it instructive and indicative that in the one unanimously agreed upon and most confidently authentic text of Islam, God specifically choses not to be specific when it comes to the finer details of law. Nothing God does is accidental, and I think there is a message here in that to reflect upon. If God really wanted to fix and codify the details of law in stone like you say He wanted to, the same as the Quran text is fixed, He could have done that within the Quran. Rather than through the more error prone path of the oral hadith record. The inheritance verses show it is possible to blend that sort of detail into the inimitable style of the Quran. But most of the time the legal passages don’t do that. They stay high level. I think it’s useful to reflect on why that is the case. 

Third, to say that if the law evolves away from the specifics of what a legal verse says, that verse ceases to carry power as a guide to people, is a flawed and limited way of looking at it. A statute does not need to be active to serve as a useful source of guidance. Just as history serves as a guide to people even when the circumstance of the precedents of history are not often literally applicable to our own lives, we can learn from the high level messages and principles that are embedded within the precedents. Even if we cease to cut the hands of the thief or cease to whip the zani, the passages that do instruct that continue to have power of guidance as a record of the relative seriousness of those offences. 

I’ve got more to say about the rest of what you’ve said, but my little one wants to play hide and seek, so I will have to catch you later. 

Edited by kadhim
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10 hours ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

Salam it's a wrong assumption because a divine law system has been established since era of prophet Adam

Sigh. Let’s not be pedantic here. The world came to know of a religion called Islam after Muhammad (saws). And at the same time we hold that he was part of a continuous tradition going back to Adam through all the other prophets and messengers. Both of those are true, and I don’t have to explicitly mention the second every time I want to mention the first. If you’re just going to nitpick like that I will just ignore your posts, so consider that fair warning. 

 

10 hours ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

Anyway it's ajust a christian-jewish narrative which says because rules of Islam are 1400 years old so then it's nor applicable for now nevertheless still now they use Christian & Jewsish laws which is older than rules of Islam also all concepts of Liberalism & democracy & etc have  pagan greek & Roman origins through new interpretations which their history is unknown so therefore if we just look most modern laws so then laws of Islam are more modern than any law system so therefore it's more compatible with modern world. 

There’s some straw manning going on here. The argument is not “blah blah blah, Shariah statutes are old, therefore they are wrong.” Blatantly dishonest caricature.

Second, no, these analogies are not very good at all because while Western law and politics take inspiration from the principles of Greek, Christian, Jewish, and even to some extent Islamic heritage, there is no parallel in terms of writing detailed legal statutes based on a copy paste of the words of any of these religious or philosophical texts of these traditions. It is a matter of grabbing high level principles and applying them to the context of reality. 

Which inadvertently is a good segue to this topic. :)

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I'm personally more inclined towards the idea that laws - specifically the Mu'malat - are not eternal and are indeed subject to context. However, perhaps the strongest argument for laws being static is the more Sufi leaning one. I've heard Sufis argue that Fiqh is a prescription for proximity to the divine. As we don't understand the wisdom behind all laws -for instance why five prayers and not four - it's impossible to change them without risking deviation from the prescription, regardless of whether they are mu'amalat or 'ibadat. Essentially, Fiqh is a prescription and if you change bits of it, you risk it not working. There is divine wisdom in everything and we ought to hold on to the centuries of tradition that has created great mystics. It is somewhat similar to what traditionalists argue, but in my opinion there is a subtle difference. 

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2 hours ago, Taleb said:

I'm personally more inclined towards the idea that laws - specifically the Mu'malat - are not eternal and are indeed subject to context. However, perhaps the strongest argument for laws being static is the more Sufi leaning one. I've heard Sufis argue that Fiqh is a prescription for proximity to the divine. As we don't understand the wisdom behind all laws -for instance why five prayers and not four - it's impossible to change them without risking deviation from the prescription, regardless of whether they are mu'amalat or 'ibadat. Essentially, Fiqh is a prescription and if you change bits of it, you risk it not working. There is divine wisdom in everything and we ought to hold on to the centuries of tradition that has created great mystics. It is somewhat similar to what traditionalists argue, but in my opinion there is a subtle difference. 

Salams. Thanks for posting. I like your effort to find the best expression of the opinion you’re actually less inclined to. I think it’s a good habit to get into. Strongmanning over strawmanning, as it were. 

I think this picture of fiqh as a prescription for proximity to the divine is a beautiful one, and I tend to agree in the broad strokes. For example I do think whatever Muhammad gave to his generation was the prescription for those people. 

The problem is, a good prescription is tailored to the patient. As such, it’s going to be contextual. Mankind at a primitive stage is going to have different needs than mankind at a more developed stage. Some will be the same and some will be different. If the prescription is an equation solution obtained by applying principles to the initial and boundary conditions of the scenario, the solution needs to change when the initial and boundary conditions change. 

I also find the risk argument to be a little disingenuous, and ultimately circular. 
It calls out the risk of the dynamic text + rational analysis approach, but implicitly assumes that the static approach is risk free.

But it’s not reasonable to assume the static approach is risk free unless you assume the static approach is correct in the first place. If the dynamic picture is true, however, then static fiqh is a risk. If fiqh is ultimately deeply contextual, then the prescription will inevitably change if you don’t adjust. Ironically, in this case you will definitely diverge from the right path by staying the course, like a car that goes into the ditch by driving straight when the road curves. 

A proper comparison has to account for the fact that there is risk in both approaches. 

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11 hours ago, kadhim said:

Sigh. Let’s not be pedantic here. The world came to know of a religion called Islam after Muhammad (saws). And at the same time we hold that he was part of a continuous tradition going back to Adam through all the other prophets and messengers. Both of those are true, and I don’t have to explicitly mention the second every time I want to mention the first.

Salam it has been mentioned crystal clear in holy Quran  that all religions  with Allah are Islam which any nation has named it due to it's race or understanding which Judaism has named after Judah (son of Jacob) of  in similar fashion Christanity has been named after Christ  which means anointed one which has been a process of total purification in Judaism .

Quote

Indeed, with Allah religion is Islam, and those who were given the Book did not differ except after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves. And whoever denies Allah’s signs [should know that] Allah is swift at reckoning. (19) 

 إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّهِ الْإِسْلَامُ ۗ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۗ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ ‎﴿١٩﴾

https://tanzil.net/#3:19

 

Quote

In the explanation of this verse, Martyr Motahari has said: Islam is submission, and the religion of Islam is the religion of submission (in front of truth), but the truth of submission has a form at any time, and at this time, that form is the precious religion of the Prophet of Islam ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)). By force, the word Islam only applies to it. In other words: submission to Allah is necessary, accepting His orders, and it is clear that Allah's last order must always be followed. The last order of Allah is the one given by his last messenger. (3)

In the logic of the Quran, we do not have heavenly religions, but it is a religion that has evolved with the requirements of the organization.

Quote

From an internal religious point of view, all prophets are on the same path and the previous prophet is the evangelist of the next prophet and the next one is the confirmation of the previous one. (7) The last of them is the best, and its message is the best of the messages, which is referred to as the true religion, against the false religions, or the superior religion against the previous heavenly laws. In the logic of the Quran, we do not have heavenly religions, but it is a religion that has evolved with the requirements of the organization.

https://hawzah-net.translate.goog/fa/Question/View/65975/تکلیف-دین-های-غیر-از-اسلام?_x_tr_sl=fa&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=fa&_x_tr_pto=wapp

The word "Islam" has been used in the Qur'an. According to some verses, no religion other than Islam is accepted

Quote

Among Arabs of Arabian Peninsula in pre-Islamic era, the term only had the meaning of "abandoning and giving up something" and Arabs used the verb "aslam-a" when a person gave up something very dear and precious and left it to someone else who wanted it; and if that thing is the person's own self, which is the most precious thing human possesses; then, "Islam" means "total unconditional obedience and submission."[4]

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, "A Muslim is one who has chosen to submit one's will to divine will."[5] According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, the reason for naming this religion as Islam is that in this religion, the servant is submitted to the will of God, the Glorified.[6]

The word "Islam" has been used in the Qur'an. According to some verses, no religion other than Islam is accepted,[7] and after the Prophet (s) brought Islam, the only religion valid before God is Islam.[8] Many hadiths have been transmitted from the Prophet (s) in which he (s) called his religion Islam and called his followers "Muslim".[9]

https://en.wikishia.net/view/Islam

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11 hours ago, kadhim said:

Second, no, these analogies are not very good at all because while Western law and politics take inspiration from the principles of Greek, Christian, Jewish, and even to some extent Islamic heritage, there is no parallel in terms of writing detailed legal statutes based on a copy paste of the words of any of these religious or philosophical texts of these traditions. It is a matter of grabbing high level principles and applying them to the context of reality. 

do you really belive to this so how you justify western colonialism & enslaving people  & their brutal behavior with non-Europeans  & their wars with around the world in name of spreading European civilization or you belive all of these are " grabbing high level principles & applying them to context of reality " in their laws .:book::einstein:

11 hours ago, kadhim said:

If you’re just going to nitpick like that I will just ignore your posts, so consider that fair warning. 

It's your thread so then you can do anything that you want anyway don't consider us stupid.

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On 7/24/2022 at 1:18 AM, Mahdavist said:

the halal and haram from the time of the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) remaining halal and haram until the Day of Judgement

There are quite a few problematic issues with this saying, allowing it to be attacked on a variety of levels. I’ve got a lot to say about this. Make yourself a chai and buckle up :)

First of all is the obvious one that we don’t actually know with the fullest confidence that this was ever actually said. It’s not from the Quran, it’s from the hadith, and with that we are always dealing with shades of probability rather than the (for all intents and purposes) certainty we have for the Quran text. Along the lines of what I said for the other comment about the Quran, if this message of finality of the halal and haram of Muhammad was an overarching principle God wanted us to have, the Quran would have been a great place to put it. Though of course, as goes without saying, far be it for me to tell the Almighty how to do His job. 

Now, I imagine you would respond at this point that since everyone, Sunni and Shia, has some version of this narration, and it’s chains are accepted on both sides, it basically must be authentic. To which I would say, fair point to raise, and compelling, all things being equal, if we’re just looking at it from an isnadi perspective. One possible more modern style “text criticism” type of critique that could be raised in response to this is that there would have been an incentive for widespread groups of people to “find” a narration like this, particularly people from the ahl-e-hadith camps of the 3rd and 4th centuries. If the words of Muhammad define law, and the hadith are where these words are said to be found, and hadith experts are the gatekeepers of that literature, then that gives power to those people. This is not a hill I will die on personally, but I’m putting it out there for completeness. 

The second issue is the contents of the narration, and whether what it is saying is plausible. There is a reasonable question whether it is logically or practically possible, even for God, to craft a set of law statutes at one point in  pre-modern human history that remains optimal from then onwards, even as human civilization advances and changes dramatically. I question the possibility of that, and request you explain yourself better as to why you think this is possible. We were cut off in the previous thread before be could really explore this point. 

Then there’s the question, even if we take it for granted that this narration is authentic, what does it mean to say the “halal and haram of Muhammad” remain that way until the day of judgment? 

For example, if we look at something we believe Muhammad and the Quran called haram. And supposing that act had some sort of worldly civic punishment involved. Is the message of that narration violated if later people continue to consider the act haram but choose to regulate it in different ways? I don’t see why it would be. 

And then as well the context question comes into play. When we talk about the halal and haram of Muhammad, we are talking about his judgment about specific actions in specific scenarios. But if the definition of the scenario is tied into the context, and the context changes, is it the same scenario Muhammad opined on? I don’t think it is. 

There’s another line of critique I just thought of here that applies specifically to us Shias. For us, not only is Muhammad (saws) an authorized source for judgments, but also the aimmah (عليه السلام). In our narrations, we have a good number of traditions where something is prohibited, and all the narrations saying that have chains originating in the imams, but not with Muhammad. Just to pick a random example, I’m not aware of any narrations going back to Muhammad saying that scaleless fish should not be eaten. But there are narrations from Imam Ali. As well we have the basic principle that what is not explicitly mentioned as haram is halal. If we apply this latter principle literally to this case, scaleless fish is implicitly by definition among the “halal of Muhammad.” Yes, of course, it’s part of our belief that all of these figures were on the same page, and I’m not putting that into question here. I’m just posing the question to illustrate, how far do you want to take this? Why is every instance where the aimmah opined on the haramness of something that existed in Muhammad’s time, but which he never is recorded talking about, not an example of a violation of this narration? Is this something that comes up in the hawza?

Yet another kind of related objection. The role of a living and present imam was considered essential in those first centuries after Muhammad, not just for theoretical political leadership, but also to give judgments on legal matters. One reason for which was that things were changing and there needed to be someone to keep up with new situations. If things were changing enough in those few centuries to require a divinely designated authority to be there to handle it live, then how much more would it have been needed in the 11-12 centuries since, where the amount of change has been orders of magnitude greater?

Once again, this is not to be construed as me presuming to tell the Almighty how to do His job. But if the intention was really for mankind to eternally remain dependent on divinely appointed spoon feeding for legal guidance, His actions in removing visible and accessible Imamate from the table doesn’t seem consonant with this intention. Rather, the two step process of ghaybah seems to point toward a very different intention—to give us space to figure out how to guide ourselves, with appropriate levels of inspiration from how past generations of authorities handled things. And if we’re honest about this, this is exactly what happens today. It’s just that the marjaiyyah as an institution has a monopoly on the process. 

On 7/24/2022 at 1:18 AM, Mahdavist said:

To add further to this, I would argue that if we want to revise or reform rulings presented by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) through the Quran or through the Prophet and Aimmah (peace and blessings on all of them) then one would need to bring an equivalent authority (ie we would need to match the Quran and the Prophet if we want to now replace their instructions with new ones).

I think again here you’re guilty of assuming the thing you’re required to prove. You’re assuming that it is God’s intention that the details of our rule-making always be reliant on spoon-feeding through designated authorities he places on earth. And related to that, you’re assuming that the meaning of the sealing of prophethood is that the process of rule making is closed with the end of prophethood. But that’s not the only way to reasonably interpret this.

An alternative interpretation is simply that prophethood was a stage of mankind’s relationship to God, that this stage ended with Muhammad, and that after this we were to use our intellect to become independent and guide ourself, at least on the finer details. With a couple of centuries of present and accessible Imamate as a transition period before we were left to learn how to handle ourselves. 

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On 7/22/2022 at 11:32 AM, kadhim said:

Alright. Let me try to motivate the question without writing a novel. 

Differences in perspective between (for lack of better terms) traditionalist and progressive/modernist Muslims in the realm of practical laws in Islam often hinge on the tension between two contrasting views of the nature of Islamic law—static and dynamic.

In static fiqh, if a scenario was mentioned in the Quran or hadith, and the same scenario appears today, generally the assumption is the same ruling applies, because—to oversimplify a little bit—it is assumed that Muhammad’s role as “seal of the prophets” means that law-giving was closed and rules he and his family presented were meant to be the final word.

The dynamic fiqh picture, on the other hand, takes the stance that precedents in practical law are intimately tied up with their historical, social, cultural, and technological context, and that the way a scenario was solved in previous centuries was by default crafted for those specific people, and would often have been impacted deeply by that context, and therefore will often require adjustment to apply the lessons of the precedent to the context of a later, much different time. Law evolves to fit changing circumstances. 

There is arguably a third way between these two views that says that the background context must be considered part of the scenario. Therefore, in this view, it’s not that the solution changes over time for the same scenario. Rather, the scenario is no longer the same scenario because the relevant context changed, and therefore the ruling will often be different. For the sake of argument though, let’s lump this in with dynamic fiqh, since it falls under the same basic idea that scenarios that are superficially similar to scenarios described in the Quran or hadith will often need different solutions than those of the classical texts. 

In mainstream traditional discussions of Islamic law, the static fiqh view is usually taken as the default assumption. Under the system of ijtihad, sometimes rulings will be updated based on contextual arguments, for example the rulings on chess that take a friendlier view to the game today than a literal reading of the harsh view of classical texts would seem to allow. But the default assumption is toward the static view, and the burden generally is placed upon the one who wants to argue for a shift in ruling due to contextual reasons. 

From a rational jurisprudential standpoint, however, the natural default assumption is generally the opposite. The default assumption is that systems of law are tied up with human context and as a result need to change gradually as people change. In the usual human world, it’s not considered a reasonable prospect for anyone to make a law and expect it to be applicable 1400 years later. At least beyond very basic, deep rooted, clearcut big rules like don’t murder, don’t steal, etc. 

Along these lines, I want to flip the script a bit and invite believers in the traditionalist static view to defend that view on a rational basis. Why do you think the idea of a law system, established in the 7th century and being suitable and applicable and optimal thereafter for the rest of time, is a prospect that is reasonable or even plausible? 

Motivation for the question/disclosure: I’m working on an article about this topic.  I have some decent idea the main arguments people are going to put forward, but I’m curious to see if anyone brings forward something unexpected. 

Anyone interested in discussing this?

So just for arguments sake, I actually belive in dynamicb  fiqh.......but I will first start with the devils advocate ( Shaytans lawyer) position. That only the Qur'an and Sunnah is acceptable and immutable proofs and can never be changed by fallible humans.

lf we do take the static fiqh argument to the extreme then we end up with the Akhabari position , that the marjae and ijtehad and further interpretations depending on changing context are not allowed. The akhbarisn do have some strong argument for their position. 

I told Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (عليه السلام) that some times we hear problems from people for which we cannot find an answer from the Quran or the Sunnah, hence we deduce a reply ourselves after due consideration. Imam said: Beware! never do such things. Per chance, even if you were right, there is no reward and if you were wrong, then you have accused Allah.

 

[bHadith 10, pg. 120-122, Baab 22, Kitab Al-Aql, Usool Al-Kafii, Vol-1/b]

and 

Imam Jafer e Sadiq recited this hadith of Rasoolallah (saws) "halalun bayyinnu wa haramun bayyinnu wa shubuhaatun bayna zaalika fa man tarakal shubuhaat naja minal muharramaat wa man aqaza bish-shubuhaat irtakabal muharramaat wa halaka min haythu la ya'alamnu" meaning "All permissibles (halaal) have been clearly defined and all prohibitions (haraam) have been clearly defined. In between both are the ambiguities (shubuhaat) so whoever forsake the ambiguities, was saved from the forbidden and whosoever deduced therefrom and acted upon them has committed the forbidden (muharramaat) and was killed (halaka) due to ignorance".

Ilm Al-fiq

By zuhair_naqvi,

March 25, 2007 in General Islamic Discussion

 

 

 

 

Edited by Hasani Samnani
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A third hadith is from the Present Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, peace be upon him, who said in a reply to Ishaq ibn Ya'qub:

"As far as newly occurring circumstances are concerned, you should turn (for guidance) to the narrators of our ahadith, for they are my proof over you just as I am Allah's proof."6

-----

Referring to the narrators of the hadith is for New issues. Which implies that the matters clearly defined by the Book of Allah(عزّ وجلّ) and Muhammad Al- Mustafa (peace be upon him and his pure progeny) which are related to us  by the infallible are not up to the fallible to change. 

i.e. marriage between a man and a women. 

Islamic laws don't follow the way of the man made laws, which change due to the change in peoples value system. What is law today, can change tomorrow. Laws represent the majority or powerful view of the people of a point in time. So, this dynamic is not applicable to God's law. If we subject them to the same secular rule, there is no difference left. We can change God's law at will ( majority opinion ), as the society devalues the laws devalue. 

 

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9 hours ago, kadhim said:

I’m not aware of any narrations going back to Muhammad saying that scaleless fish should not be eaten. But there are narrations from Imam Ali.

Salam Imam Ali (as0 has not said something new from himself which according to shia belief he has had all attributes of Prophet Muhammad (pbu) except prophethood which Imam Ali (عليه السلام) has followed all sayings & instructions of prophet Muhammad (pbu) without any change or distortion in similar fashion rest of infallible imams only have mentioned sayings & instructions of prophet Muhammad (pbu) without any change or distortion so therefore in case of scaleless fish Imam ali (عليه السلام) just has repeated sayings & instructions of prophet Muhammad (pbu) without any change or distortion.

Quote

يَا عَلِيُّ إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ مِنِّي بِمَنْزِلَةِ هَارُونَ مِنْ مُوسَى إِلَّا أَنَّهُ لَا نَبِيَّ بَعْدِي‏» (امالی صدوق، ص174)

O Ali You Are to Me Like Aaron to Moses except that there is no prophet after me"

Amali Sadduq , p 174

"‘Ali are you not satisfied to be to me like Aaron was to Moses except that there shall be no prophet after me?"

Quote

"The Messenger of God took a journey to Tabook and he appointed ‘Ali to succeed him in Medina. ‘Ali said to the Prophet: 'Do you leave me with the children and the women?' The Messenger replied: 'Are you not satisfied to be to me like Aaron to Moses except that there shall be no Prophet after me?'"1

Al-Bukhari also reported that Saad said: "The Prophet said to ‘Ali: Are you not satisfied to be to me like Aaron to Moses?''2

"Ibn Hisham recorded in his Biography of the Prophet that the Prophet said to ‘Ali on that day:

"‘Ali are you not satisfied to be to me like Aaron was to Moses except that there shall be no prophet after me?"6

https://www.al-islam.org/brother-prophet-muhammad-imam-ali-shaykh-muhammad-jawad-chirri/35-hadith-analogy-you-are-me-aaron

http://www.askquran.ir/showthread.php?t=52266

https://fa.wikishia.net/view/ماهی_فلس‌دار

9 hours ago, kadhim said:

particularly people from the ahl-e-hadith camps of the 3rd and 4th centuries.

It's a Salafi camp which has no connection to shia Islam so has no credibility for shias which you are trying to compare apples with oranges in Hadith by jumping from one branch to another branch .

Quote

Ahl al-Ḥadīth (Arabic: أَهْل الحَدِيث, lit.'The People of Hadith') was an Islamic school of Sunni Islam that emerged during the 2nd/3rd Islamic centuries of the Islamic era (late 8th and 9th century CE) as a movement of hadith scholars who considered the Quran and authentic hadith to be the only authority in matters of law and creed.[1] Its adherents have also been referred to as traditionalists and sometimes traditionists (from "traditions", namely, hadiths).[2]

 

Quote

This theological school, which is also known as traditionalist theology, has been championed in recent times by the Salafi movement.[11] The term ahl al-hadith is sometimes used in a more general sense to denote a particularly enthusiastic commitment to hadith and to the views and way of life of the Muhammad's contemporaries and the early generations of believers.[12]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahl_al-Hadith

 

9 hours ago, kadhim said:

But if the intention was really for mankind to eternally remain dependent on divinely appointed spoon feeding for legal guidance,

This is totally wrong cnclusion because people understand legal guidance according to level of their knowledge & reasoning which although currently we don't have knowledge & power of reasoning due to occultation of imam Mahdi (aj) nevertheless it has been clearly stated that after his reappearnce all of people will have access to full knowledge & reasoning so therefore people especially Shias won't need spoon feeeding but on the other hand all of non-shia sects need eternal spoon feeding.

 

9 hours ago, kadhim said:

this is exactly what happens today. It’s just that the marjaiyyah as an institution has a monopoly on the process. 

This is  typical  rhetoric of wahabists & Salafists .

9 hours ago, kadhim said:

An alternative interpretation is simply that prophethood was a stage of mankind’s relationship to God, that this stage ended with Muhammad, and that after this we were to use our intellect to become independent and guide ourself, at least on the finer details. With a couple of centuries of present and accessible Imamate as a transition period before we were left to learn how to handle ourselves. 

this is totally wrong because after prophet Muhammad (pbu) only revlatio has stopped but on the other hand relation of humans with Allah has not been stopped which our connection has continued through infallible Imams (عليه السلام) which them & pious people have had inspiration from Allah which one of missions of infallible Imams has been increasing intellect & knowledge of humans in order to we can understand religion through our developed intellect through inafallible Imams as infallible guides & mentors which throughthem our connection with Allah continues until judgment day.  

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

so therefore in case of scaleless fish Imam ali (عليه السلام) just has repeated sayings & instructions of prophet Muhammad (pbu) without any change or distortion.

That’s the standard explanation, but strictly speaking the hadith chains don’t describe it that way, do they? Anyway, funny how you skipped the remainder of the paragraph in your zeal to find something to argue about. 

41 minutes ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

It's a Salafi camp which has no connection to shia Islam so has no credibility for shias which you are trying to compare apples with oranges in Hadith by jumping from one branch to another branch .

Not referencing that specific group, though I can understand your confusion. Rather, I’m referring loosely to traditionists in general in terms of the broader traditionist vs rationalist streams within the history of Islamic scholarship. That’s why the term was in lower case rather than the upper case of a proper noun. Would have preferred to use traditionist or traditionalist here instead, but already used that term in another sense earlier in the thread and thought the namespace collision would be confusing. Oh well…

Edited by kadhim
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1 hour ago, kadhim said:

funny how you skipped the remainder of the paragraph in your zeal to find something to argue about. 

I don't have skipped it anyway whole of your argument has been about totall stopping of guidance after demise of prophet Muhammad (pbu) & just relying on intelllect in similar sfashion on Wahabists & Salfists 

 

1 hour ago, kadhim said:

Not referencing that specific group, though I can understand your confusion.

it's only group which it's completly crystal clear from their title & century & their approach to Hadiths  although you want to put under rug  your affection from Salafi mindset about prophet Muhammad (pbu) & their approach about infallibility of shia imams.

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1 hour ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

this is totally wrong because after prophet Muhammad (pbu) only revlatio has stopped but on the other hand relation of humans with Allah has not been stopped which our connection has continued through infallible Imams (عليه السلام) which them & pious people have had inspiration from Allah which one of missions of infallible Imams has been increasing intellect & knowledge of humans in order to we can understand religion through our developed intellect through inafallible Imams as infallible guides & mentors which throughthem our connection with Allah continues until judgment day.

I talked about the role of Imamate in the passage you quoted. We did have what you described for about 220 years, 300 years with the lesser ghaybah
Since then though, for about 1100 years, the Imam has been in incognito mode with an unlisted number. That channel has been off the air, for all intents and purposes. Oh, he’s out there in the world, all these years. Meeting people, talking to people, helping people, teaching people, doing whatever projects, going where he goes. Allahu alim what tendrils of unacknowledged anonymous influence he had had over the unfolding of history and the intellectual development of mankind. But the fact remains that practically speaking as individuals it is as if we are alone. There is no hotline to call him with questions, not even an email inbox monitored by an agent. Unlisted. 

Sure. Whenever he does come out of anonymity, he is going to help us open our intellect to the fullest level. I truly believe that. 

But. It’s been 1100 years like this. I think it’s pretty obvious the message from above is that we need to take the first big steps in that on our own. Honestly I think one of the key reasons the ghaybah continues is that we haven’t been bold enough to take ahold of this for ourselves. 

If you’re looking to lead a global government, you need minds practiced in taking high level guidance and then figuring out the details for themselves.

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12 minutes ago, kadhim said:

That channel has been off the air, for all intents and purposes.

The channel hanot been off the air which only Salafists & Wahabists have this claim anyway there are more than enough evidences in shia community that this channel always has been on air in opposition to your claim & rhetoric of salafists & Wahabists ,which in minor occultation it has been in form of Letters of Imam al-Mahdī (a) or Tawqīʿāt al-Imām al-Mahdī (a) also some famous scholars until now have had temporal meeting likewise in hardships for shia community with Imam Mahdi (aj) until now which none of them have had  regular or especiall connection with him 

https://en.wikishia.net/view/Letters_of_Imam_al-Mahdi_(a)

Incidents of Mulaqaat – People Who Met Imam Mahdi (عليه السلام)

https://knowthemahdi.com/incidents-of-mulaqaat-people-who-met-imam-mahdi-as/

21 minutes ago, kadhim said:

But. It’s been 1100 years like this. I think it’s pretty obvious the message from above is that we need to take the first big steps in that on our own. Honestly I think one of the key reasons the ghaybah continues is that we haven’t been bold enough to take ahold of this for ourselves. 

Intellect & reasoning & knowledge of people have been increased & developed through all of these centuries which it's even in differnt level than previous years due to all types of educations & easier access to sources of knowledge & information which your comaprision of it with 1100 years ago by you is just laughable which we are in edge of preparation for reappearance due all of our achievements  whether good  or bad in any aspects of life . 

hdi (عليه السلام)

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14 hours ago, Hasani Samnani said:

So just for arguments sake, I actually belive in dynamicb  fiqh.......but I will first start with the devils advocate ( Shaytans lawyer) position. That only the Qur'an and Sunnah is acceptable and immutable proofs and can never be changed by fallible humans.

lf we do take the static fiqh argument to the extreme then we end up with the Akhabari position , that the marjae and ijtehad and further interpretations depending on changing context are not allowed. The akhbarisn do have some strong argument for their position. 

I told Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (عليه السلام) that some times we hear problems from people for which we cannot find an answer from the Quran or the Sunnah, hence we deduce a reply ourselves after due consideration. Imam said: Beware! never do such things. Per chance, even if you were right, there is no reward and if you were wrong, then you have accused Allah.

 

[bHadith 10, pg. 120-122, Baab 22, Kitab Al-Aql, Usool Al-Kafii, Vol-1/b]

and 

Imam Jafer e Sadiq recited this hadith of Rasoolallah (saws) "halalun bayyinnu wa haramun bayyinnu wa shubuhaatun bayna zaalika fa man tarakal shubuhaat naja minal muharramaat wa man aqaza bish-shubuhaat irtakabal muharramaat wa halaka min haythu la ya'alamnu" meaning "All permissibles (halaal) have been clearly defined and all prohibitions (haraam) have been clearly defined. In between both are the ambiguities (shubuhaat) so whoever forsake the ambiguities, was saved from the forbidden and whosoever deduced therefrom and acted upon them has committed the forbidden (muharramaat) and was killed (halaka) due to ignorance".

Ilm Al-fiq

By zuhair_naqvi,

March 25, 2007 in General Islamic Discussion

 

 

 

 

Ha. I really appreciate you raising this. This is a fun point to bring up because it exposes the whole discussion in interesting and enlightening ways. The people arguing against me here are really trying to take texts like this and have it both ways and it ultimately doesn’t work well.

You kind of bring in an insightful point, the irony that the sort of texts and arguments they are bringing against me or others who think the same are pretty much exactly the texts and arguments that the opponents of Allama al-Hilli brought against his ideas of ijtihad in the 13th and 14th centuries CE, or the texts and arguments Akhbaris brought against Usulis 400 years later. 

If you really take these texts you have quoted literally and seriously, you pretty much inevitably end up with something like Akhbarism. And conversely, if you take the side of the Usulis in these historical debates (as I do), and you take their arguments seriously, you end up ultimately at something at least vaguely like the dynamic, contextual fiqh I’m arguing for. It’s the next step. 

I would tend to interpret those hadith you’ve quoted as follows. For the first one, I would wonder how much that discouragement of people going off on their own was tied up in the context that Imam as-Sadiq was actually around and accessible and able to be reached for the authoritative right answer. I have to think it had something to do with it. If so, what does that have to say to a different time when the Imam is basically not reachable for centuries at a time? 

As for the second, this is another interesting one of reflection. Maybe a message from this is to just be comfortable with ambiguity and not knowing. That the religion is not supposed to be that complicated. That we shouldn’t be going out of our way to try to find new things to call haram. To be comfortable with grey areas for most things rather than black and white answers. There’s a certain attractiveness of that idea.

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On 7/24/2022 at 1:55 PM, kadhim said:

This is not really a valid objection. For a few reasons. 

For one, it implicitly assumes that the primary mode of guidance of the Quran is via legal statute.

Not necessarily.  The general point is that the Quran was revealed for all times,  and not just for one or two generations of Muslims in Hijaz.

Certainly the Quran contains more than just legislation, and indeed significant parts of legislation are detailed in narrations.

However, the universal nature of the Quran means that it guides all people at all times, meaning that 14 centuries later one doesn't need to indirectly reform the Quran under the pretext of 'reading between the lines' because the very nature of the guidance is universal. 

On 7/24/2022 at 1:55 PM, kadhim said:

Second, even when it goes into the legal mode of guidance, the Quran often does so at a relatively high level without getting into minute details.

Again this isn't problematic.  It didn't prevent the early Muslims from having guidelines on what is and isn't permissible so I don't see why it would suddenly become an issue 14 centuries later. 

On 7/24/2022 at 1:55 PM, kadhim said:

Third, to say that if the law evolves away from the specifics of what a legal verse says, that verse ceases to carry power as a guide to people, is a flawed and limited way of looking at it.

The law doesn't 'evolve away'. Rather in this case it would be the individual who chooses to replace the verse with their own interpretation without wanting to outright admit that they are doing so. 

 

On 7/25/2022 at 3:11 PM, kadhim said:

Along the lines of what I said for the other comment about the Quran, if this message of finality of the halal and haram of Muhammad was an overarching principle God wanted us to have, the Quran would have been a great place to put it.

The Quran instructs us to obey Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and obey the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)). An authentic narration therefore is hujjah upon us, and cannot merely be pushed away under the pretext of 'if Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) wanted He would have put it in the Quran'. I think your stance on hadith here is unclear.  If you can clarify it then the discussion becomes more meaningful. 

On 7/25/2022 at 3:11 PM, kadhim said:

One possible more modern style “text criticism” type of critique that could be raised in response to this is that there would have been an incentive for widespread groups of people to “find” a narration like this, particularly people from the ahl-e-hadith camps of the 3rd and 4th centuries

If people want to reject the hadith as a fabrication they may do so but let them provide a consistent methodology on how they authenticate hadith. 

If they reject it altogether then the Quranic command of obeying the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) is no longer achievable. 

If you're essentially saying that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) didn't really intend to fix laws for us in the Quran and the hadith are not reliable either, essentially we land up in a situation where each one makes up their own halal and haram in which case halal and haram lose meaning altogether because all we are doing is following our own desires. The murderer will murder, the rapist will rape and the sodomist will sodomize (in fact this last point is pretty much where your proposed methodology landed last time). The idea of 'dynamic fiqh' ultimately results in no fiqh at all. 

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There is a reasonable question whether it is logically or practically possible, even for God, to craft a set of law statutes at one point in  pre-modern human history that remains optimal from then onwards, even as human civilization advances and changes dramatically.

the problem with this statement, is the "even for God" part, which makes the question unreasonable. God is capable of doing anything that is not against his oneness, this includes being able to create laws that are eternal. Once we start doubting God's ability to create eternal guidelines, we fall into a big trap. 

Quote

to craft a set of law statutes at one point in  pre-modern human history that remains optimal from then onwards, even as human civilization advances and changes dramatically.

how do we judge what is optimal. What does it mean for human civilisation to advance?


if you mean our values in secular societies have advanced, that might be correct in the secular perspective, but Islam already laid down all the necessary values and how to live one's life.

In the Islamic worldview, only Islam is completely correct, other ideologies may have some values that agree with Islam and other values that completely disagree with Islam. The point is that whilst secularists and non-muslims are clinging onto ethical systems that have flaws, muslims cling on to the perfect ethical system created by an infinitely wise God. The point of the marjayyat is not to have a monopoly, they are the only people who are qualified to derive laws. If others had the power to derive laws we would be destroyed because any tom, dick and harry is not a master of the arabic language and the master of many sciences, and has a very high level of piety and ascetism. They are the closest way we can get to know what God's law actually is. 

Approaching fiqh through ways other than marjayyat could land a person in hell, because if a person takes things into their own hands, they are held responsible for the blunders they make whilst if someone takes the approach of taqlid, they are free from responsibility as long as they made the research to find out the rulings of the marja. 

Quote

 

But. It’s been 1100 years like this. I think it’s pretty obvious the message from above is that we need to take the first big steps in that on our own. Honestly I think one of the key reasons the ghaybah continues is that we haven’t been bold enough to take ahold of this for ourselves. 

If you’re looking to lead a global government, you need minds practiced in taking high level guidance and then figuring out the details for themselves.

 

the message from the Imam on what to do in the greater occultation was to follow the system of taqlid. Ghaybah continues because the level of piety amongst shias is not high enough, and perhaps for other reasons. 

We already have minds "practised in taking high level guidance and then figuring out the details for themselves", they are the maraja and the mujtahids. Only qualified people have the minds able to figure the details out. When lay people try to figure the details out they may end up making huge blunders because they are ignorant of many things.

By all means lets increase the number of minds practised in taking high level guidance and figuring it out, we can do that by producing more mujtahids, not by allowing lay people to come up with their own interpretations( this is assuming you are advocating this, if you are not, I apologise). 

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44 minutes ago, VoidVortex said:

the problem with this statement, is the "even for God" part, which makes the question unreasonable. God is capable of doing anything that is not against his oneness, this includes being able to create laws that are eternal. Once we start doubting God's ability to create eternal guidelines, we fall into a big trap. 

Salams. Thanks for biting on this part. I have been waiting for someone to pop in and open this thread. 

You invoke implicitly God’s omnipotence and I guess also His omniscience and probably His wisdom and justice as well. That’s fine and good. You say God is capable of doing “anything not against His oneness.” Let’s unpack this. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “against His oneness.” I have some ideas what you might mean by this, but if you’d like to elaborate, please go ahead. 

But there are a good number of things God “can’t do.” Or won’t do. God as we know God can’t punish the innocent and reward the guilty; this might be part of what you mean by against His oneness.

But there is also logical or practical impossibility. God can’t do things that are impossible. For example, God can’t create a square circle, or a triangle with four sides. He can’t create a boulder so heavy He can’t lift it. 

In mathematics, God can’t solve the equation x^2 + 1 = 0 over the field of real numbers. It’s not a lack on His part; it’s just not possible. Similarly God can’t solve the general quintic over the field of complex numbers in terms of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and taking powers and roots. It’s mathematically impossible.

So it’s clear when we think about it that some things are not possible even for God. It’s not automatically some heretical thing to point out; nor does it necessarily require taking anything away from our vision of God. Some things are just not possible. 

If that’s a little abstract, let’s bring it down to earth to the field of fiqh. 
Question: Do you think it is possible for God to craft one set of laws that are good and workable and just for people of all ages? For children and adults alike. And here I don’t mean you have a system of rules where one subsection applies to adults and one to children. I mean one set of rules that apply the same to both. Do you think that is possible even for God?

Do you begin to see the point now?

44 minutes ago, VoidVortex said:

how do we judge what is optimal. What does it mean for human civilisation to advance?

Good and central question. I am not going to try to post some ranked list of criteria here. I don’t think that’s a task for me to do by myself. It is something for the community to sit down to. What I would sketch as an approach would be to take what we see of Islamic primary texts and what we know about the historical and social context, and extract the goals of that system as it was presented then. What are the Islamic goals and markers of success. Then Islamic law becomes not just “how do we mimic exactly the way they did it,” but, “how do we best approach the same goals given the circumstances we face?”

47 minutes ago, VoidVortex said:

If you mean our values in secular societies have advanced, that might be correct in the secular perspective, but Islam already laid down all the necessary values and how to live one's life.

As I hope you can tell from the previous paragraph, but let me spell it out to be sure, I am comfortable with accepting that as a general proposition in principle. 
But then the question is what that means exactly. And then as well there is the question of, of the rules and details that come down to us from the Islamic tradition, what parts of that are essential Islamic values, and what parts of that are just reflections of the context of the time? 

Broad example. The received Islamic tradition paints a picture for women that is at least to some extent subservient to men on the scale of practical reality in the world. Is that really an essential Islamic value? Is Islam really supposed to be—to grab a Western term for lack of a better way to put it—a “patriarchal religion?” Or were those elements just the application of deeper Islamic values taking into account an existing social reality. Likewise for the case of slavery. 

56 minutes ago, VoidVortex said:

The point of the marjayyat is not to have a monopoly, they are the only people who are qualified to derive laws. If others had the power to derive laws we would be destroyed because any tom, dick and harry is not a master of the arabic language and the master of many sciences, and has a very high level of piety and ascetism. They are the closest way we can get to know what God's law actually is. 
 

The thing is, “the marjaiyyah” is a human creation to do a job. There is inherently no textual religious proof for the notion that the marjaiyyah as we have it now is the only legitimate source of truth. Inherently, the actual texts leave it quite vague. The instruction was, if you have a question about something, seek input from those who narrate the words of the aimmah. That’s it. To use an analogy from computer science, the marjaiyyah is an implementation of that interface. But there is no inherent reason that has to be the only legitimate one. 

Do I think the perspective of any “Tom, Rick, or Harry” should be taken seriously? No. There needs to be some system and method to it. But I do think the idea that the perspective of people from the marjaiyyah is automatically better than that of someone who didn’t go through that system is a naive one. 

This is the monopoly issue I was talking another earlier.

1 hour ago, VoidVortex said:

We already have minds "practised in taking high level guidance and then figuring out the details for themselves", they are the maraja and the mujtahids. Only qualified people have the minds able to figure the details out. When lay people try to figure the details out they may end up making huge blunders because they are ignorant of many things.

By all means lets increase the number of minds practised in taking high level guidance and figuring it out, we can do that by producing more mujtahids, not by allowing lay people to come up with their own interpretations( this is assuming you are advocating this, if you are not, I apologise). 

Define “lay people” in this context. Does that mean an average person without much intellect or religious knowledge, or are you using this as a synonym for “someone outside the marjaiyyah?”

I think we need to get away from a “lay people” vs “marjaiyyah” dichotomy and add a third middle category of educated, intellectually capable people outside that system who approach the primary texts in an informed, systematic, methodological way. 

The thing is, there is a mystique around the work of the marjaiyyah, but when it comes down to it, the way they do it, the process of going from the hadiths to rulings is not nearly as complex and inscrutable as many people think. I’m not saying it’s trivial or that literally anyone can pick up al-Kafi or Wasail ash-Shia and go at it (though I have heard a fair number of hawza trained, orthodox people put it as almost being that simple) there is a certain amount of subtlety involved in it for thorny cases where the texts are ambiguous or go in multiple directions. But for a lot of it, it’s a matter of just reading the relevant hadith about the subject from the very well-organized collections, and identifying cases and conditions within and summing it up. 

I think any smart Muslim with some sort of training in law or jurisprudence in general who has a decent grasp of Islam and Arabic and knows how to use resources related to that could swim competently in those waters. As least to a high enough level to bring intelligent, source based critique to try to prompt the insiders in the marjaiyyah to take another closer look at some issues. There is an important and entirely valid role for such people in the community of the faith. 

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17 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

Not necessarily.  The general point is that the Quran was revealed for all times,  and not just for one or two generations of Muslims in Hijaz.

Certainly the Quran contains more than just legislation, and indeed significant parts of legislation are detailed in narrations.

However, the universal nature of the Quran means that it guides all people at all times, meaning that 14 centuries later one doesn't need to indirectly reform the Quran under the pretext of 'reading between the lines' because the very nature of the guidance is universal. 

Again this isn't problematic.  It didn't prevent the early Muslims from having guidelines on what is and isn't permissible so I don't see why it would suddenly become an issue 14 centuries later. 

The law doesn't 'evolve away'. Rather in this case it would be the individual who chooses to replace the verse with their own interpretation without wanting to outright admit that they are doing so. 

 

The Quran instructs us to obey Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and obey the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)). An authentic narration therefore is hujjah upon us, and cannot merely be pushed away under the pretext of 'if Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) wanted He would have put it in the Quran'. I think your stance on hadith here is unclear.  If you can clarify it then the discussion becomes more meaningful. 

If people want to reject the hadith as a fabrication they may do so but let them provide a consistent methodology on how they authenticate hadith. 

If they reject it altogether then the Quranic command of obeying the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) is no longer achievable. 

If you're essentially saying that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) didn't really intend to fix laws for us in the Quran and the hadith are not reliable either, essentially we land up in a situation where each one makes up their own halal and haram in which case halal and haram lose meaning altogether because all we are doing is following our own desires. The murderer will murder, the rapist will rape and the sodomist will sodomize (in fact this last point is pretty much where your proposed methodology landed last time). The idea of 'dynamic fiqh' ultimately results in no fiqh at all. 

I’m just going to reply to this as a whole rather than as a point by point. I think it’s more cohesive that way. 

So first, thanks for getting back. 

Yeah, so first of all, I’m still not seeing how your comment about the belief in the Quran being an eternal source of guidance to Muslims is a coherent or relevant objection to the idea of dynamic fiqh. 

This is a belief that progressive or modernist Muslims who argue for dynamic fiqh agree with. Their picture of what guidance means in a specific case may differ subtly from yours, but generally they agree that all 6600 odd verses of the Quran are relevant sources of guidance to people today.

The overwhelming majority of the contents of the Quran are not legal and therefore this doesn’t touch those verse in the least. Even those that are legal, most are pretty high level and touch on universally agreed matters without much controversy. Really, most of this conversation about dynamic fiqh, probably 95-99% of it, takes place on the field of the hadith, where you get into the details. The legal verses within the Quran itself where deeply contextual legal issues call out for revisiting are actually remarkably few. The main ones I can think of are women’s issues, including testimony and inheritance, and slavery. Even in the slavery issue, it’s not a matter of the Quran commanding to have slavery; it simply talks about it as something that was there which is no longer there. I see you trying to pull the same-sex relationships thing in here again, but frankly I don’t think it relates directly to this topic. That case I think is less about dynamic fiqh per se and more about scholars not having had a properly nuanced conception of the issue in the first place. The difference is subtle but significant.

And then even for those few problematic verses within the Quran itself where a progressive Muslim would call for revisiting what those verses call to, at the same time that person would not consider that to undermine the idea of those verses as sources of guidance to mankind. I raised this point earlier, and you sort of tap-danced on top of it without really meaningfully engaging. People can learn from good advice given to other people in other times even if they don’t or can’t copy paste that to their lives. There’s in fact a whole field of study that centers around exactly this idea; it’s called history. Again, something doesn’t need to be a personal command to us to offer guidance to us. 

The Quran includes within it a verse that speaks in the second person plural saying to obey God and the messenger. Yes. What that “obey the messenger” means though and who the direct target of that command is and the scope of that are all subject to discussion and interpretation. Just as the same applies, for example, to understanding the second person plural instruction in the Quran to “when the sacred months are over, kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.”

One you take as a direct, personal, individual command to yourself and everybody. The other you take as a specific command to only the people in the early community who heard it. That’s a difference in interpretation approach that really needs to be properly discussed and justified.

And, by the way, to circle back. That verse, 9:29, we do all consider that to be something that gives guidance reading it today, right? As a historical snapshot, even if we very sensibly do not take it as a personal call to initiate an annual massacre of the kaafireen. Right?

I agree with the notion that any authentic narration can become a hujjah on us, so long as it is reasonably clear that the statement was intended as an open command to the future rather than a directed advice to whoever happened to hear it. I do think though that, beyond the question of authenticity, it’s not a reasonable default assumption to assume that every or even most snapshot sayings of the Prophet and aimmah the early community chose to memorialize and remember were actually intended by them to be canonized like this as a legal directive to everyone that follows. I think that is an unreasonable and possibly even heretical assumption.

I am not a Quranist by any means. But I do think that most of the time, the Prophets and aimmah were not trying to send a megaphone to the future centuries every time they opened their mouths. Most of the time I think they just were giving specific people specific advice. And to circle back again, even then, I would still consider those sayings to be instructive and forms of guidance as a record of how these guides guided those specific people in specific circumstances. 

That’s my stance on the hadith in short. That, and the belief that at least half of it is rank fabrication. Though even there it’s instructive as a fossil record of ideas people tried to inject into the hadith literature for various political reasons. 

For this specific hadith about the halal and haram of Muhammad, I would put that under a higher level of scrutiny just because it speaks at a meta level that shapes one’s whole approach to reading the hadith and deriving guidance from it.  The stakes are much higher so the scrutiny needs to be more intense and skeptical. 

I do agree with you though that all of this needs to be handled with a consistent system and methodology. As always, I don’t advocate a free for all. 

 

 

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On 7/27/2022 at 10:54 PM, kadhim said:

Yeah, so first of all, I’m still not seeing how your comment about the belief in the Quran being an eternal source of guidance to Muslims is a coherent or relevant objection to the idea of dynamic fiqh. 

Is your premise not, more or less, that it is impossible to have a consistent set of laws for every generation of Muslims, therefore the Quran and hadith essentially address early Muslims and now we need to make our own legislation (apparently without any actual sources?)

Or are we agreeing that the Quran remains valid for all times and places, and in this case you are proposing that it is the hadith that are obsolete? 

Or yet, are you saying the Quran AND hadith are applicable to all times and people, in which case we have ended up back to square one?

On 7/27/2022 at 10:54 PM, kadhim said:

I see you trying to pull the same-sex relationships thing in here again, but frankly I don’t think it relates directly to this topic. That case I think is less about dynamic fiqh per se and more about scholars not having had a properly nuanced conception of the issue in the first place. The difference is subtle but significant.

So you are now saying that it was actually halal for gay men to sodomize one another from day one, rather than it only having become halal today for enlightened and intelligent Muslims?

On 7/27/2022 at 10:54 PM, kadhim said:

And then even for those few problematic verses within the Quran itself where a progressive Muslim would call for revisiting what those verses call to, at the same time that person would not consider that to undermine the idea of those verses as sources of guidance to mankind. I raised this point earlier, and you sort of tap-danced on top of it without really meaningfully engaging.

You will need to explain this in simpler terms, because I apparently missed the point previously and still don't understand it now.

On 7/27/2022 at 10:54 PM, kadhim said:

The Quran includes within it a verse that speaks in the second person plural saying to obey God and the messenger. Yes. What that “obey the messenger” means though and who the direct target of that command is and the scope of that are all subject to discussion and interpretation.

By all means one can discuss and interpret it, but ultimately it comes down to what proof each one brings forward. 

The crux of the discussion comes down to this: should the Quran and hadith remain the primary sources of jurisprudence and validation (as 4:59 seems to indicate) or do replace them with a system where each Muslim who considers themselves enlightened and intelligent makes up their own rules as they see fit?

On 7/27/2022 at 10:54 PM, kadhim said:

And, by the way, to circle back. That verse, 9:29, we do all consider that to be something that gives guidance reading it today, right? As a historical snapshot, even if we very sensibly do not take it as a personal call to initiate an annual massacre of the kaafireen. Right?

If the muslimeen find themselves in the situation described by suratul bara'a then the verse is in fact providing a clear guidance of how to act.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

Is your premise not, more or less, that it is impossible to have a consistent set of laws for every generation of Muslims

Yes.

11 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

therefore the Quran and hadith essentially address early Muslims

In terms of direct primary intended audience, for the most part, yes. Some elements of this are more universally useful than others—the usefulness of prayer and fasting and charity and pilgrimage are not really contextual—but, for the most part, speaking briefly, yes. 

11 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

and now we need to make our own legislation

Yes. With the precedents of the texts and the principles derivable from them as useful insight. 

11 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

(apparently without any actual sources?)

No. Here I think is where we’re talking at cross purposes. The Quran and the hadith (though with a much more critical and skeptical eye) remain useful sources. If a text speaks to some scenario in a previous historical context, and we have a similar scenario in our historical context, those texts don’t just get thrown in the garbage. It may be a very different context, but if it’s God’s (or a delegated guided representative’s) perspective on the scenario, that is useful data to consider. It may not be informative at the level of just reading off the words and doing exactly what they say, but it will still be informative. 

Example. So in the Quran and hadith we see texts that talk about women’s inheritance and testimony. Generally the texts make this 50% of the value of what it is for an equivalent man. 

You can interpret that in one of two ways basically.

1. You can just read that off as an eternal commandment in stone and decide that for some inscrutable reason, women are just inherently worth half what men are essentially in several relevant civil matters. 

2. Or you look not just at the text, but at the context and subtext, look at the surrounding conditions, look at the reality of what it was like before that. And notice before that, women’s testimony and property rights were measured at even less than half. And then pay attention not to what the text literally says as the message, but rather that incremental movement toward a more equal state of affairs. That’s taking a guidance from the text. 

Just because it stops being useful in a “copy exactly what it says” doesn’t mean it stops being a source of guidance about Islamic principles. 

I would argue it’s actually a much more faithful adherence to the text than the traditional approach, because it seeks to know the spirit of the law rather than get trapped in the letter. 

11 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

So you are now saying that it was actually halal for gay men to sodomize one another from day one, rather than it only having become halal today for enlightened and intelligent Muslims?

Well, I don’t want to rehash the whole conversation, but if you go back, basically, yes, my argument was that the texts we have about liwat in the hadith show no awareness of the existence of gay people and seem to be primarily concerned with minimizing same sex dalliances by people who would otherwise be inclined to marry the opposite sex. (The fact that the hadith delineate different punishments for muhsana/protected/married as opposed to unmarried is a good indicator of this) And as such the application of these texts to gay people who don’t have any heterosexual desire or inclination to marry the opposite sex and have families is problematic. 

An application of dynamic fiqh methodology to this issue would instead entail, for example, legalizing bisexuality or “heteroflexibility” on the argument that any concerns that motivated the prohibition classically for hetero people are no longer concerns. And if you recall, in that conversation I went to great pains to emphasize that I was not ready to go that far. I advocated keeping the prohibition for the other 98-99% of the people.

Remember? I didn’t say let’s rewrite this completely because the context has changed. I said we missed a corner case from day one so let’s address that in the interest of justice and reasonableness. 

The only part of it that kind of verged into dynamic fiqh was a small section where I speculated a bit after you asked me why God wouldn’t have brought this to our attention then if He was Ok with this distinction of a special case for gay people. And I speculated, maybe there was a usefulness in it being ambiguous for a while, maybe it was useful to the gene pool to have these people in the closet and breeding for a time. Yes, that part does edge into dynamic fiqh mindset, but I hope we can agree that wasn’t the core of my argument. 

11 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

By all means one can discuss and interpret it, but ultimately it comes down to what proof each one brings forward. 

The crux of the discussion comes down to this: should the Quran and hadith remain the primary sources of jurisprudence and validation (as 4:59 seems to indicate) or do replace them with a system where each Muslim who considers themselves enlightened and intelligent makes up their own rules as they see fit?

Ready to discuss if you are :)

I think you’re exaggerating too much the difference between our positions for rhetorical effect. I still want the Quran and hadith at the foundation here. And I don’t want a free for all without any consistent methodology. We’re really just talking about a much more robust and critical role for aql when it comes to making sense of the texts and how what they they applies to our world. 

11 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

If the muslimeen find themselves in the situation described by suratul bara'a then the verse is in fact providing a clear guidance of how to act.

To a certain extent. But within the limits that history doesn’t repeat; it just echoes a bit sometimes. The text gives useful high level Islamic insight into Islamic principles on conflict, truce-making, on when to fight and when to stop. Application of the principles will depend on the context though. 

So on an administrative level, not sure how you’d like to handle the conversation with Muharram arriving. I guess obviously at a minimum move this to the back burner as time allows.

I would love to hear your insight into some of the points that came up in the exchange with VoidVortex. 

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Thanks for your reply brother. In terms of timing I would say feel free to read or post whenever it works out even if there is a gap of several days or weeks.

Based on your feedback, here is how i see the overall situation:

-traditional fiqh is based on the Quran, hadith, ijma (consensus) and 'aql (rationality in this context) and this is also the order of priority. The Quran is essentially the 'master', and if the jurisprudential issue isn't solved through it then one moves on to the hadith. If it still isn't clarified then the consensus of the scholars is the next checkpoint and finally if a conclusion still isn't reached then the jurist who is well versed in the Quran, sunnah and research of classical and contemporary scholars will finally rationalize the information that is available and provide guidance accordingly.  

This system has a clear hierarchy and remains within the framework of one master, governing text even if within this framework there are differences. 

Furthermore the key sources remain consistent for all times and places. New challenges and situations will require new research but ultimately the framework remains the same.

 

-your model of dynamic fiqh (not yet fully defined) seems to reareange the sequence and add to it.  Essentially it seems to be: Social norms, Quran, hadith. This means that the core texts are no longer governing. Rather, we start with social conventions and then submit the Quran and hadith to the conventions, taking what fits society and redefining or rejecting anything that doesn't.

Rather than social challenges being filtered through the Quran and hadith for validation,  it is now the Quran and hadith that are now being filtered. A hadith that doesn't validate social norms is rejected. An ayah that doesn't validate the norms is attributed a new meaning or simply relegated to a vague idea which needs to be readapted. 

Essentially the Quran and hadith don't really have a guiding role in this model at all, rather they are submitted to a retrofit only for the sake of an apparent reconciliation.

In reality that means that Islam as a religion will finally not really have any other purpose than to be continously reinterpreted and adjusted so that it mirrors changing social norms. Society ultimately decides what is ok and what isn't, and based on the outcome we decide what the Quran and hadith should actually be saying.

This is why I made the initial claim that dynamic fiqh is finally the absence of fiqh altogether because there isn't really anything to legislate in the 'everything goes' model.  

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

your model of dynamic fiqh (not yet fully defined) seems to reareange the sequence and add to it.  Essentially it seems to be: Social norms, Quran, hadith.

No, this is not accurate at all. If we want to specify the sources in this sort of way for a systematic dynamic fiqh it would be Quran, hadith, and aql.

As explained above:

On 7/29/2022 at 11:13 AM, kadhim said:

I still want the Quran and hadith at the foundation here. And I don’t want a free for all without any consistent methodology. We’re really just talking about a much more robust and critical role for aql when it comes to making sense of the texts and how what they they applies to our world. 


I’m frankly a little disappointed to see you stoop to this sort of lazy caricature. The minimal foundation of serious discussion is a basic honesty toward what the other person is saying. 

But in any case, this is getting quite far away from the actual subject of the discussion, which is whether static fiqh is possible and defensible. 

Are you able to defend your perspective? 

The discussion with VoidVortex here got into the heart of it, I think. Do you have anything to add there? 

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7 hours ago, kadhim said:

But in any case, this is getting quite far away from the actual subject of the discussion, which is whether static fiqh is possible and defensible. 

Are you able to defend your perspective? 

Repeating myself here, but the nature of the Quran as the final revelation,  as the word or God and its follow up through the sunnah of the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)). 

If these were intended to be changed or reinterpreted, then rather than defining themselves as eternal guides for mankind they would have been described as vague references which can be substituted by interpretations. Clearly this isn't the case.

7 hours ago, kadhim said:

The discussion with VoidVortex here got into the heart of it, I think. Do you have anything to add there? 

If there are specific points to be addressed I am happy to do so.

7 hours ago, kadhim said:

No, this is not accurate at all. If we want to specify the sources in this sort of way for a systematic dynamic fiqh it would be Quran, hadith, and aql.

But this suggests that the Quran is still in the lead, whereas what you are suggesting is that it is a sort of side reference which might give hints and echoes and mainly addressed early Muslims, but ultimately the intelligent Muslims (not clear who exactly this would be ) will decide what flies and what doesn't. 

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6 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

If these were intended to be changed or reinterpreted, then rather than defining themselves as eternal guides for mankind they would have been described as vague references which can be substituted by interpretations. Clearly this isn't the case.

Well, I’ve already explained at some length how primary texts can still provide plenty of guidance even if practical civil rules aren’t taken as written as stone forever. I’ve made my case effectively there, so I won’t repeat. 

I find it a little odd to see you invoke an argument of the structure, “If the Quran/sources really wanted to communicate X, they would have said so clearly.” Given that I presented a similar argument argument earlier, that texts like “halal and haram of Muhammad…” as well as any practical rules that were supposedly meant to be timeless canon, should have been codified in the Quran if that was the message we were supposed to take. At that point you were uncomfortable with that whole line of argument and said basically one could play that game for anything. So I’m going to have to call you out for that and insist on some consistency. 

I also think that this particular invocation of yours of “if God wanted us to understand that, He would have put it in the Quran” is particularly weak in that the expectation that detailed social rules are going to be contextual and shift with context and time is just the natural default expectation when it comes to practical rule making in human societies. You don’t need to be told the default; you need to be told when things differ from the default. 

So again, overall, I don’t think this is a very compelling point. 

6 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

If there are specific points to be addressed I am happy to do so.

Well, I mean, it’s not exactly a sprawling thread. It was a two post exchange. One from him and one from me. 10 min read start to finish. But tl;dr  if I were to point to one particular specific point, it would be where VV says basically it’s possible for God to craft a timeless legal code because of His infinite knowledge, wisdom, justice, etc. To which I pointed out that these infinite capacities don’t mean God can do everything; He can’t do things that are logically or practically impossible. I gave a few philosophic and mathy examples (it was my major; I gotta get my money’s worth somehow, right?). I also posed a question to prompt reflection that VV didn’t respond to. Namely the question whether it was possible for God to design one set of optimal rules that apply equally to children and adults. As in same rules for both. So that the rules work well, are complete, are just, etc. Is that possible? 

If you want to take a run at that, it could be an interesting excursion that highlights some important points about whether static fiqh is even a believable premise. 

6 hours ago, Mahdavist said:

But this suggests that the Quran is still in the lead, whereas what you are suggesting is that it is a sort of side reference which might give hints and echoes and mainly addressed early Muslims, but ultimately the intelligent Muslims (not clear who exactly this would be ) will decide what flies and what doesn't. 

Again, don’t want to get too deep into this because it’s not the point of the thread, but yes. You understand correctly. The Quran and hadith in spots 1 and 2 in terms of importance or primacy, though in a somewhat different way than you would put them first. They go first because that is the foundational source material to derive the goals of the Islamic system of law, as well as the source material for the deeper general social principles that inform law beyond the specifics of context. As an Islamic law project, it has to start with what we have of the word of God and what is attributed to the prophet and aimmah. 

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9 hours ago, kadhim said:

 

I find it a little odd to see you invoke an argument of the structure, “If the Quran/sources really wanted to communicate X, they would have said so clearly.” Given that I presented a similar argument argument earlier, that texts like “halal and haram of Muhammad…” as well as any practical rules that were supposedly meant to be timeless canon, should have been codified in the Quran if that was the message we were supposed to take. At that point you were uncomfortable with that whole line of argument and said basically one could play that game for anything. So I’m going to have to call you out for that and insist on some consistency. 

I don't think it's the same argument.  To put it simply, you are saying the Quran was mainly intended for early Muslims, I am saying it never claimed to address only early Muslims.

Your previous response to the hadith was 'how come its not in in Quran?' to which I responded that an authentic hadith of the Prophet is hujjah on us anyway since the Quran orders us to obey him, and that if in general you are rejecting hadith completely then you will need to explain where you take the sunnah from.

So I am not seeing how these arguments are the same.

9 hours ago, kadhim said:

 

If you want to take a run at that, it could be an interesting excursion that highlights some important points about whether static fiqh is even a believable premise. 

Ok, well the fact that for 1400 years we have been referring to the Quran and the sunnah for jurisprudence is already telling me that it is possible. Unless you are suggesting that it is possible for 14 centuries but becomes impossible after 15, 16 or 17...

9 hours ago, kadhim said:

Again, don’t want to get too deep into this because it’s not the point of the thread, but yes. You understand correctly. The Quran and hadith in spots 1 and 2 in terms of importance or primacy, though in a somewhat different way than you would put them first.

In other terms, you are saying that you will refer to them first but overrule them as and when it feels appropriate (thus my claim that they are no longer leading or governing, in the model you propose,  rather they are only accepted to the extent that they fit your decisions otherwise they are revised or rejected)

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1 hour ago, Mahdavist said:

Ok, well the fact that for 1400 years we have been referring to the Quran and the sunnah for jurisprudence is already telling me that it is possible. Unless you are suggesting that it is possible for 14 centuries but becomes impossible after 15, 16 or 17...

That’s a fun non-sequitur, but can you answer the actual line of questioning from that exchange? 

 

1 hour ago, Mahdavist said:

In other terms, you are saying that you will refer to them first but overrule them as and when it feels appropriate (thus my claim that they are no longer leading or governing, in the model you propose,  rather they are only accepted to the extent that they fit your decisions otherwise they are revised or rejected)

You can repeat that tortured caricature as much as you like; it doesn’t make it accurate. 

 

1 hour ago, Mahdavist said:

I don't think it's the same argument.  To put it simply, you are saying the Quran was mainly intended for early Muslims, I am saying it never claimed to address only early Muslims.

Your previous response to the hadith was 'how come its not in in Quran?' to which I responded that an authentic hadith of the Prophet is hujjah on us anyway since the Quran orders us to obey him, and that if in general you are rejecting hadith completely then you will need to explain where you take the sunnah from.

So I am not seeing how these arguments are the same.

Ok man…

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11 hours ago, kadhim said:

Well, I mean, it’s not exactly a sprawling thread. It was a two post exchange. One from him and one from me. 10 min read start to finish. But tl;dr  if I were to point to one particular specific point, it would be where VV says basically it’s possible for God to craft a timeless legal code because of His infinite knowledge, wisdom, justice, etc. To which I pointed out that these infinite capacities don’t mean God can do everything; He can’t do things that are logically or practically impossible. I gave a few philosophic and mathy examples (it was my major; I gotta get my money’s worth somehow, right?). I also posed a question to prompt reflection that VV didn’t respond to. Namely the question whether it was possible for God to design one set of optimal rules that apply equally to children and adults. As in same rules for both. So that the rules work well, are complete, are just, etc. Is that possible? 

sorry I didn't respond because I procrastinating answering back(pure laziness), and then I just started observing the conversation in the thread. I should have responded back

I disagree with your comparison. You can't compare what is mathematically impossible to creating a timeless legal code. Unless it can be proven that a timeless legal code is a logical impossibility, this argument won't work, and even if it did, there is perhaps evidence to suggest God can make something that would go against logical impossibility but I want dear brother @Mahdavist to correct me if I got this wrong. 

before I go onto the evidence, I want to make the point that a timeless legal code is not impossible, at least not like something like a mathematical or logical impossibility. There could be many things we deem "impossible", especially when we are talking practically, but in reality its possible but due to our ignorance we view it as impossible. A long time ago, concepts of quantum physics may have been laughed at, as quantum physics turned classical physics on its head. Things like quantum entanglement, which is way faster than light, were discovered and this turned the impossible possible. I know that they are two different realms of physics, but I think it would have still been very difficult for scientists to believe in something like entanglement, something which changed how scientists viewed the reality of the universe. Arguing for a timeless legal code not being a logical impossibility, I would say that its entirely possible that God created a timeless legal code. The legal code also isn't stiff, some things are permanent, and some things depend on context as you have said. Homosexuality is forbidden for eternity(and I'm making this specifically as my example for an eternal prohibition because of the recent posts on this thread) but something like music depends on context, where prohibition completely depends on what we classify as ghina. My point is that God's knowledge is infinite, whilst we make observations only based on the information that we can observe, I believe your point about a timeless legal code being an impossibility is based on your observation, and even then, its not like Islam is completely rigid, it has some flexibility and certain rulings do change over time and jurists have changed their rulings because of this, but homosexuality is a completely rigid one, in the sense that even in extreme difficulty its entirely prohibited unlike something like pork which in extreme difficulty a person is allowed to take as much as necessary, and it seems quite clear from all jurists that in homosexuality there isn't any flexibility. As Islam is not 100% rigid, it can withstand the changes in time, and God has allowed certain flexibilites and made other things rigid. 

sorry for going on about homosexuality but I felt its an important point to address.

I also believe when looking at God's laws, we have to realise the purpose and reason they are there. I think looking at his laws from a materialist perspective is not the answer. God wants man to reach perfection, in fact all other goals that don't serve the purpose of enhancing man's spirituality are vain so we have to see his laws from the spiritual side

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Broad example. The received Islamic tradition paints a picture for women that is at least to some extent subservient to men on the scale of practical reality in the world. Is that really an essential Islamic value? Is Islam really supposed to be—to grab a Western term for lack of a better way to put it—a “patriarchal religion?” Or were those elements just the application of deeper Islamic values taking into account an existing social reality. Likewise for the case of slavery. 

 

if Islam was at least a patriarchal religion in the view of the general people, this wouldn't be probematic because men and women are equal in the eyes of God in terms of their spiritual potential, even if they weren't materially equal. Both men and women have been given the same potential to achieve perfection. This goes back to my point where all other things other than God and things to do with God are vain. For a man, jihad is on a battlefield, and for a woman its dealing with her oppressive and problematic husband. There are also other jihads, especially a woman raising her children is a very great jihad, and a man going out to work is a very great jihad.  Both men and women get the chance to seek perfection which is the only meaningful thing in the eyes of God. And this is even assuming Islam is a patriarchal religion. I'm not 100% sure if it can be called a patriarchal religion and that's because of my lack of knowledge. I have seen justifications for the difference in inheritance that were pretty convincing to show that a woman is not disadvantaged when it comes to inheritance. There are probably other justifications too for other things that might seemingly be unfair. 

 


There's a hadith about someone who asks Imam Sadiq about whether God can fit the world inside an egg without changing the size of the world. A logical impossibility right?

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Source: al-Kafi: Book 3, Chapter 1, Number 159

Abdullah al-Deesani, an atheist had a dialogue with Hisham Ibn Hakam (رضي الله عنه)

The Atheist: Do you believe in God?

Hisham replied in affirmative.

The Atheist: Is He Almighty?

Hisham: Yes, He is Almighty and All-Powerful.

The Atheist: Can He put the whole world inside an egg without enlarging the size of the egg or diminishing the volume of the world?

Hisham: Give me some time to think over it.

The Atheist: I give you one whole year, and left.

Hisham went to see Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) in a hurry and said: O Son of the Prophet Muhammad (p), Deesani has put a challenging question to me and as regards its answer I cannot rely on anyone except God or you.

Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) asked: What was the question?

Hisham related the question of Deesani.

The Imam (p): O Hisham! How many sense-organs you have?

Hisham replied: Five.

The Imam (p): Which one is the smallest among them?

Hisham: The pupil of the eye.

The Imam (p): What is the size of the pupil of the eye?

Hisham: About the size of a grain of lentil or a part of it.

The Imam (p): Alright, now look around and tell me what you see.

Hisham: I see the sky, the earth, the houses, the spacious mansions, the mountains and the rivers, etc.

The Imam (p): The One Who can put all you see inside a grain of lentil or a part of the same can also insert the entire world inside an egg without enlarging the size of the egg or diminishing the size of the world.

 

Perhaps what we can take from this hadith is that we can't apply things like logical impossibility to God and that there is a solution that might exist that is completely in our ignorance. I might be wrong though. 

when I said anything  against his oneness is impossible, I meant for example God creating a new God, or God causing himself to die or God willing to have weaker power than a creature or the example you gave about God being unjust. These things are truly impossible because there is no reality where God doesn't exist, and therefore nothing exists ever that could be against his oneness, because if something were to happen that were to be against his oneness, it would not be Allah that exists, but something else, and Allah has always existed. 

 

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1 hour ago, VoidVortex said:

sorry I didn't respond because I procrastinating answering back(pure laziness), and then I just started observing the conversation in the thread. I should have responded back

Oh, it’s fine. Don’t worry. I’m a little unhealthily into talking about ideas. You’re quite allowed to have a more sane balance with respect to these things. It’s all good, lol.

1 hour ago, VoidVortex said:

I disagree with your comparison. You can't compare what is mathematically impossible to creating a timeless legal code. Unless

Yeah, I acknowledged that. It’s impossible in a different way from logical and mathematical impossibility. As I mentioned, it’s just to motivate the idea that there are different things that are impossible even for God. I see you elaborated some other things yourself below this when you clarified what you mean to say He can’t do things against His oneness. Those are other great examples. 

To get at why I would argue it’s impossible to have a broad set of rules fixed for all time for people, I would pose the question/thought experiment I posed the first time around: 

Could God make one all-encompassing set of rules, same rules for both, that apply to both adults and children? 

1 hour ago, VoidVortex said:

I also believe when looking at God's laws, we have to realise the purpose and reason they are there. I think looking at his laws from a materialist perspective is not the answer. God wants man to reach perfection, in fact all other goals that don't serve the purpose of enhancing man's spirituality are vain so we have to see his laws from the spiritual side

Granted. But it’s also quite clear that raising the material well-being of mankind is part of the goals of the Islamic system. 
 

1 hour ago, VoidVortex said:

For a man, jihad is on a battlefield, and for a woman its dealing with her oppressive and problematic husband. There are also other jihads, especially a woman raising her children is a very great jihad, and a man going out to work is a very great jihad.  Both men and women get the chance to seek perfection which is the only meaningful thing in the eyes of God. And

This is an example of things that are pretty contextual. Once upon a time, work was almost entirely raw physical labor. Warfare was a face to face slog physically struggling with another person and swinging heavy weapons that could break through armour and rend flesh and bone about through manpower. Men did all this because they were given more strength in comparison to women. 

Today, more and more, jobs are about intellectual efforts. Even warfare is about technology mostly, and in the near to medium future may be entirely in the realm of computer related warfare. What natural advantage does a man have in either of these? None. These things are contextual. 


 

1 hour ago, VoidVortex said:

And this is even assuming Islam is a patriarchal religion. I'm not 100% sure if it can be called a patriarchal religion and that's because of my lack of knowledge.

Like I said, I use the term a bit in quotation marks for lack of a better word because the word is handy. 
 

1 hour ago, VoidVortex said:

I have seen justifications for the difference in inheritance that were pretty convincing to show that a woman is not disadvantaged when it comes to inheritance. There are probably other justifications too for other things that might seemingly be unfair. 

Yes. There are some classic justifications that go around, that a bunch of interconnected traditional understandings related to women (inheritance, nafaqah/support, wifely obligations, permission to go out, mahr/dowry) are considered to balance each other out with understood duties and such of men. It’s Ok for women to get half, because they don’t have to support their family but men have to support female family members, etc. 

But it’s all a little shaky in that it’s all deep down premised on a traditional world that runs on physical strength that hasn’t really applied for a while now. The traditionalist will say, “Ah, that’s another reason you can’t tweak these things; it’s all interlinked, so you have to touch it all at once to be fair.” Whereas the response to this is, that just shows it’s all pretty unstable and tenuous. 

 

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3 hours ago, kadhim said:

Yes. There are some classic justifications that go around, that a bunch of interconnected traditional understandings related to women (inheritance, nafaqah/support, wifely obligations, permission to go out, mahr/dowry) are considered to balance each other out with understood duties and such of men. It’s Ok for women to get half, because they don’t have to support their family but men have to support female family members, etc. 

But it’s all a little shaky in that it’s all deep down premised on a traditional world that runs on physical strength that hasn’t really applied for a while now. The traditionalist will say, “Ah, that’s another reason you can’t tweak these things; it’s all interlinked, so you have to touch it all at once to be fair.” Whereas the response to this is, that just shows it’s all pretty unstable and tenuous. 

I wouldn't say its shaky. These reasons are just ideas as to why these laws exist. It could be that the real reasons are completely different, and God knows best what the real reasons are. When we give justifications we are trying to rationalise why X or Y is the case. For example, if you know sheikh Farrokh Sekaleshfar, he's studied irfan and talks about the esoteric side of things(like the inner meanings of actions). Simple actions of fiqh, he explains the spiritual meanings behind it, even about menstruation or certain fiqh rulings like water and tahara, and spiritual reasons behind these. Even very simple or basic differences in fiqh has a spiritual meaning behind that we might know. In reality we may never know the true reason for a ruling, so even if we disproved all our own justifications it wouldn't show the basis of the rulings to be unstable because the basis is the Quran and Hadith, and not our justifications. 

 

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Could God make one all-encompassing set of rules, same rules for both, that apply to both adults and children? 

first lets differentiate between the adults and the children. We should establish that children are not required to do wajibat and muharramat, and what we define as children. 

In the Islamic view, adults are people who have passed puberty, and the definition of puberty is different for males and females, 

male:

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    • Ihtilam: Based on the Quranic verses[9] and hadiths[10], all jurists say that ihtilam (semen discharge), while asleep or awake, is a sign of bulugh.[11]
    • Pubic Hair: Based on several hadiths, all Shi'a and Sunni jurists – except for Hanafis – consider the growth of coarse pubic hair as another sign of bulugh.[12]
    • Age: Another sign of bulugh, which is deduced from hadiths, is reaching a specific age. According to these hadiths, even if none of the other signs of bulugh appear until the age of bulugh, that age itself would be counted as a sign of bulugh. Consequently, a child who has reached this age must perform religious duties although the other signs did not appear yet.[13]

     

    female:

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    Menstruation (hayd) and pregnancy are two special signs of bulugh for females. According to the majority of Shi'a jurists and also some Sunni sects, such as Hanbalis, menstruation and pregnancy show that bulugh has occurred before. Apparently, because of this point, some jurists did not mention pregnancy among the signs of bulugh.[14]

    According to the majority of Shi'a jurists, females reach bulugh by completion of nine lunar years (about eight solar years and eight months and twenty days).[19].[20]

    Nevertheless, few jurists have mentioned completion of ten[21] or thirteen[22] years as the age of bulugh for females.

Other than the rulings quoted directly below, there is no obligation on people who have not reached puberty to do anything really. 
 

 

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According to majority of Shi'a and Sunni jurists, many declaratory rulings (al-hukm al-wad'i) are not only applied to baligh people; therefore, bulugh is not necessary for application of the rulings of inheritance, diyat (atonements), diman (liability), itlaf (wasting), ghasb (usurping), shuf'a (pre-emption).[31] This means a child has these rights or is liable for these rulings, although the guardian (wali) of the child must attend to these affairs until the child become baligh.[32]

 

They can do good deeds if they want, I've seen maybe males or something at 11 might have to write a will, but I'm not sure so much about this. Is it worth including children in this thought process, because adults and children in Islam don't have the same rules. I might have misunderstood your thought process, could you expand on it? Also did you mean children in the sense of how society views children or did you mean the Islamic view. I don't think the view of society would be relevant though so I'll assume that you meant in the Islamic view but feel to free to correct me. Once you expand on the thought process question, I'll answer to the best of my ability inshaalah.

 

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