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In the Name of God بسم الله

Is the idea of static fiqh rationally defensible?

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1 hour ago, VoidVortex said:

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.

I’m including children in this because it’s important to the point. I know of course in traditional shariah there is a notion of baligh vs na-baligh, with certain traditional understandings of when one ends and the other begins, and the rights and duties that apply after that transition that don’t apply before. I’m aware of that.

Here I’m asking you to engage in some counter-factual thinking. That is, imagining a different world largely the same as this one, and imagining making rules for that world. Child vs adult I’m not thinking of any particular definition, and really it’s not important for the thought experiment. Let’s just think of it generically as young, small, not yet developed and mature people vs older, developed, mature people, without worrying too much where the boundary lies between the two categories.

Now you say God can make rule systems that are good for all time because God is all knowing, all wise, all just, etc. So I’m asking, if God approaches this alternate world to make new rules for a parallel world-mankind that is much like us, using all these infinite attributes of His, could He make one uniform set of rules that applies to everyone, adult and child alike, and that is good and fair for everyone? Can God design a well-ordered society that expects exactly the same things from both adults and children. Do you think this is a possible or conceivable thing? Or is that an impossible ask? Why or why not?

Transparency: I am going somewhere with this; this is a bit of a Socratic dialogue. It’s setting up a next point. But the question itself is not a trick question.    It’s relatively straightforward. 

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On 8/1/2022 at 9:17 AM, kadhim said:

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

If the question was 'is it possible for fiqh to be static' then the answer is, apparently yes based on the past 1400 years. 

On 8/1/2022 at 9:17 AM, kadhim said:

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

Ok it seemed like you pretty much recognized that this was indeed the case, but perhaps I have misunderstood you. 

On 8/1/2022 at 11:47 AM, VoidVortex said:

 

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.

Sounds right to me,  the apparent logical impossibility of a fixed legislation has yet to be demonstrated.  

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57 minutes ago, Mahdavist said:

If the question was 'is it possible for fiqh to be static' then the answer is, apparently yes based on the past 1400 years. 

The question is not “can people stubbornly decide to keep fiqh static.” Duh. Of course people can choose to do that. The question is obviously, “Can people do that and have it work effectively? Will that produce a result that reflects the true path of the Shariah in new contexts?”

 

1 hour ago, Mahdavist said:

Ok it seemed like you pretty much recognized that this was indeed the case, but perhaps I have misunderstood you. 

No, quite the contrary.  You stubbornly advanced this caricature that this is about playing a game to reach some predetermined result and each time I patiently corrected you that, no, that’s not what this is about at all. 

I’m a little baffled to be honest what you’re “misunderstanding” about this. 

1 hour ago, Mahdavist said:

Sounds right to me,  the apparent logical impossibility of a fixed legislation has yet to be demonstrated.  

The purpose of this discussion, in case you’ve forgotten, is to justify that it is possible. 

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On 8/1/2022 at 8:13 PM, kadhim said:

Can God design a well-ordered society that expects exactly the same things from both adults and children. Do you think this is a possible or conceivable thing? Or is that an impossible ask? Why or why not?

Transparency: I am going somewhere with this; this is a bit of a Socratic dialogue. It’s setting up a next point. But the question itself is not a trick question.    It’s relatively straightforward. 

So after a few invitations, no one has taken up this question so far. So I’ll skip to the end.

Copy paste from an article draft:

Let’s look at it this way. Imagine an alternate parallel universe basically identical to this one, and it is time for God to make laws for mankind. Now in humankind, there are adults and children. You can define the boundary between the two groups in different ways, but everyone generally acknowledges that there are children, who are younger, smaller, weaker, less intellectually developed, less mature psychologically, etc. And there are adults. Sufficiently developed, mature. 

So here’s a question. Could God create a complete, effective, optimal, just set of rules that apply the same and equally to both groups? Let us be clear. Not a set of rules for children and a separate set for adults. The exact same rules for both, and the exact same consequences for not following for both, same duties and expectations for both, with no consideration for different ages.  Could God create that legal code? Would it be a good legal code that worked well?

If we reflect on it for a moment, the answer would clearly seem to be “no.” There is no way we could picture that working even if God were to write the rules. The two groups are far too different in their characteristics to solve for both simultaneously. The undevelopedness and immaturity of children make it so that rules appropriate for adults would expect too much for children. It would not be just. Similarly, adults would find it painful and restrictive, even stifling, to follow rules appropriate for children. The nature—the fitrah—of an adult on a psychological level, needs more freedom to move than is safe to be trusted to an immature child. 

Any solution that works for the constraints of one group will be ill-fitted for the constraints of the other group, and vice versa. And indeed, even a traditional Muslim is forced to accept this reality, because the traditional Muslim thinks the classical rules represent an optimal solution and classical Islamic law reflects this basic reality and puts different duties, rights, and consequences for children as opposed to adults. As is the case in basically every human culture. 

So if we accept this, we see that there are possible and impossible tasks when it comes to law making. Even God can’t do some things when it comes to law making. 

So with this example of adults and children in mind, I present an analogy. In the past 12 centuries, the average psychology and development of intellect and level of civilization of humankind has advanced so much as to effectively change the background nature of humankind. Humankind is effectively a different creature compared to what was there earlier. Biology is largely the same, yes. But ultimately humans are more than just anatomy and physiology. Mankind is a thinking, social creature. We are also psychology, culture. A set of human subjects from the year 822 CE and a set of human subjects from the year 2022 CE, when placed in the same scenario, will tend to respond, on average, in dramatically different ways in many cases. For example, statistically speaking, people of today are much less likely to resort to physical violence to solve a conflict than earlier points in human history. And the intellectual development of the average person is much higher as well and much more capable of dealing with complexity. In 822 a person could enter adult life and marriage at the point of bulugh—puberty basically. Can anyone really imagine a 13 year old navigating the full slate of adult responsibilities in a more modern nation today? 

With this in mind, we can argue that the relation between the human of 822 and the human of 2022 is analogous to that between the child and the adult of any given time. The same chasm of relative maturity and level of development applies.

It becomes therefore unjust to apply the same total set of rules to both. Rules that fit the needs of one will in general be ill-fitted to the other, and vice versa.

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54 minutes ago, kadhim said:

So … do I take it y’all give up? :grin: 

Sorry. Fell asleep after "Imagine an alternate parallel universe..." :itsok:

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