SHAFAQNA | by Mohammad Saeid Taheri Moosavi*: To derive Islamic rules and regulations, one must refer to its sources. The main source of Islam, according to the agreement of all religions and Islamic sects, is God Almighty, as the main lawgiver of Islam. The Quran, as a Divine Message, explains the way and path of human beings towards happiness, but we know that the Quran has many appearances and meanings that need to be interpreted. Who are competent to explain and interpret the Holy Quran? The tradition of the Infallibles (A.S), i.e. the main exegetes of the Holy Quran, can be an accurate and good interpreter of the Holy Quran.
In the case of the silence of the Quran and Hadith in the various chapters of the Holy Quran, Muslims are unanimous on Ijtihad based on the consensus of Islamic scholars, although there is disagreement among Sunnis and Shia Muslims about the extent of consensus. In addition, Shia Muslims adduce reason as a tool to discover the truth of religion. The Sunnis do not give place to reason, but sometimes refer to some rational principles to prove the rules and Ijtihad.
1.The Holy Quran
What man has received from God through the prophets is the word of revelation and goodness that leads man to worldly and heavenly bliss. The Torah, the Bible, and the Holy Quran are the divine books revealed to the prophets, and they were as well recited and narrated to man. Unlike the Torah and the Bible, the book of Muslims is a comprehensive book of moral, legal, social and humanizing. According to the jurists, one-third, one-fourth or one-thirteenth of the Holy Quran (500 verses) are Ayat al-ahkam (verses of the rules), meaning that the main and general rules of human social affairs, from private to public relations, in all social, economic, criminal aspects, fields are extracted from the depth of these verses.
For example, the necessity of the ancillaries of the religion (Furu-al-Din), such as prayer, fasting, Hajj, etc., can be extracted from the Holy Quran. Like the verses of Hajj, one of which is verse 97 of Aal-e-Imran Surah:
“… Pilgrimage to the House and performing the Hajj rituals is a duty owed to Allah (SWT) by all who can make their way to it; and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah (SWT) is Self-Sufficient, above any need of the worlds.”
Other verses of the Quran, indirectly, states general rules, rational rules, mysticism, philosophy, and especially ethics that can interprete and explain the other verses. These verses are multifaceted and have Zahir (manifest, appearance) and Batin (hidden, reality), Muhkam (decisive) and Mutashabih (allegorical), Nasikh (abrogator) and Mansukh (abrogated verses), etc., and this is exactly why they need a commentator who interprets these verses with complete knowledge and without the slightest errors and present them to human beings. So, it is justified for God to choose the Prophet (PBUH) and in his absence, the infallible Imams (A.S.) to take on the same responsibility.
The common point between Sunnis and Shia Muslims about Sunnah is that they both consider the words and deeds of the Prophet (PBUH) as an evidence, but the Shia Muslims, in addition to the Prophet (PBUH), also believe in the words and deeds of the infallible Imams (A.S) and they believe that Imams’ presence is necessary and inevitable after the death of the Prophet (PBUH), just like a moonlight that replaces the sun on the dark night. To confirm this, not only we can refer to The Verse of “Obedience” but also to three Prophet’s traditions (hadiths) that confirm the obligation to refer to the infallible Imams (A.S):
A) The Hadith of Al-Thaqalayn (the Hadith of the two weighty things): The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said in a Hadith: “Verily, I am leaving behind two precious things (Thaqalayn) among you: The Book of God and my kindred (Itrah), my household (Ahlal-Bayt), for indeed, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the Pond (of Al-Kawthar on the Day of Judgment).” Accordingly, the commentators of the Holy Quran are the infallible Imams.
B) Hadith Man Mat: According to this noble hadith which has been narrated from the Holy Prophet (PBUH), he said: “If a man dies while he does not know the Imam of his time, he will die a death of ignorance.” According to this noble Hadith, in each era of the history of Islam, after the Holy Prophet (PBUH), there are Imams as the rightful successors of the Messenger of God, whose denial will be considered the denial of the Prophet’s mission and also the divine will.
C) Hadith of Jabir: According to this Hadith, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in response to Jabir’s question about the confirmation of The Verse of Obedience said: “They are my successors and the Imams of Muslims after me. The first is Ali b. Abi Talib (AS), and then Hassan (AS), Hussain (AS), Ali b. Al-Hussain (AS), and Muhammad b. Ali (AS) known in the Torah as ‘Baqir’, whom you will meet, when aging. And send my regards to him, whenever you meet him. After Muhammad b. Ali (AS), respectively, Ja’far b. Muhammad (AS), Musa b. Ja’far (AS), Ali b. Musa (AS), Muhammad b. Ali (AS), Ali b. Muhammad (AS), Hassan b. Ali (AS), and then his son who is my namesake and has the same Kunya as mine. He is the one who will be hidden from people’s sights, and his occultation will be so long that only people with firm beliefs will continue to believe in him.”
Referring to the Prophetic tradition and the Infallibles (A.S) is one of the religious necessities, one of the principles of which is Imamate, and logic necessitates that there be a successor to the deceased Prophet (PBUH) and Imams (AS), whose life is not eternal, to deliver the flag to the last Imam (AS) and and with his arrival the world will be full of justice, while it is full of oppression and tyranny. Therefore, the words of such people are along with the words of God and God’s Messenger, and their traditions are also the divine traditions. The point is that the possibility of fabricating a hadith has caused experts who are specialized in “Ilm al-Rijal” (Knowledge of Men) and “Ilm al-Hadith” to screen the existing hadiths, distinguish the correct hadith from the incorrect one, and clean the filth of the hadith.
Accordingly, the Hadiths are ranked as: Authentic, Reliable, Good, Strong, Weak, Abandoned, etc. It is very important to Islamic scholars that the words and contents quoted from the Infallibles (A.S) are definitely their own words and has a reliable and strong documentary. Moreover, the Infallible Imams (A.S) were the first in Islam to write books in the juridical, moral, political and social fields or to say things about these issues that were later compiled by Islamic scholars.
Including these works, the book of Nahjul-Balagha by Imam Ali (A.S) which contains parts of his different positions collected by Al-Sharif Al-Radhi in the fourth century, the book of Risalat Al-Huquq of Imam Sajjad (A.S) which contains very valuable contents about the reciprocal rights of God, human beings and society, the Mus’haf of Fatimah Zahra (S.A), which is not currently available to human beings can be mentioned.
3. Reason (‘Aql)
The meaning of reason, along with the book (Quran) and Sunnah (tradition), and in case of their silence on a particular issue, is “any rational proposition that can be helped to reach a definite Sharia ruling. There is disagreement between Sunnis and Shia Muslims and between different Shia groups (Akhbaris and Usulis) about accepting reason as one of the independent or non-independent means of proving religious rulings.
The Sunnis do not accept ‘Aql as a reason, and the Akhbari Shia Muslims (who are almost non-existent today or they are in a very small minority) do not consider it as an independent reason, but accept it alongside the Quran and Sunnah. However, according to the “rule of correlation” which is taken from a famous Hadith, one cannot ignore the rational reason as an independent reason.
According to this rule, reason and Shariah are related to each other, and what ‘Aql considers to be clearly and definitively pleasing is also pleasing to the Shariah, and what it explicitly and definitively considers obscene is also obscene for the Shariah. The opposite is also true: in other words, the Shariah rules, if they are correct, can also be confirmed by ‘Aql, and with the help of rational reason, even a hadith can be approved or rejected.
It should be noted that with regard to ‘Aql (reason), from the Islamic point of view, reason is either “theoretical reason”, which expresses religious rules, or “practical reason”, which means guiding man to do or leave an action which Sharia has issued a verdict for it. In addition, rational reason refers either to “Rational Independence”, in which a person finds ruling for a problem without the need for the intervention of the Sharia such as the ugliness of oppression, or to “Non-rational Independence”, which with the help of the Sharia, man recognizes the goodness or ugliness of an act, like the obligation of the preparation to perform the obligatory religious act, like the obligation of wudu (partial ablution) for prayer (Salah or Salat). To sum up, ‘Aql (reason) helps man to distinguish good from bad, independently or through sharia, and to practice or abandon it.
4. Consensus (Ijma’)
If the answer to a question is not discovered in the Holy Quran or the Sunnah of the Infallibles (A.S) or if it is impossible to obtain a rational ruling for it, a Consensus Reason can be reliable under certain conditions. The Sunnis believe in the authenticity of Ijma’ (Consensus) and they accept it along with the Quran and Sunnah, but the Shia Muslims believe that consensus must show the opinion of the Infallible (A.S) and if it is contrary to the word of the Infallible (A.S), it cannot be valid. An example of the difference between Sunnis and Shia Muslims regarding the acceptance of consensus in choosing a caliph to succeed the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is that the Sunni argument is the consensus resulting from the gathering of the people of Medina in a place called “Saqifah Bani Saidah” when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) passed away and it was held without the presence of the family of the Prophet (PBUH) to choose a successor for the Prophet (PBUH).
The reason for the rejection of this consensus by the Shia Muslims is the appointment of Imam Ali (A.S) by the Prophet during his last pilgrimage and in a place called “Ghadir Khumm“. It is natural that in spite of such a text that has been quoted from Sunnis and Shia. Muslims, convening a meeting and electing another person is not only unnecessary but also illegitimate.
In summary, Muslims generally use these arguments as a means of proving the verdict of a religious issue, despite general or partial disagreements about the quality of relying on common arguments including Quran, Sunnah and consensus and specific argument of ‘Aql (reason). In this way, the legal status of the rulings will be clarified using religious sources along with other modern sources of law.
New sources of law in the system of most Islamic countries, such as other countries with “Roman-German” legal system, are: Law, custom, jurisprudence and opinions of legal scholars, and in the “Anglo-Saxon” or “common law” legal system, which in some other Islamic countries of Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc. are: Judicial procedure, legal rules, ‘Aql (reason) and the rule of justice and fairness. As stated above, the condition for accepting new legal sources in countries with Islamic tradition, which have chosen Islam as the unchangeable principle of their constitution, is the conformity of the Subject and Status Rules with Islamic rules.
* Dr. Mohammad Saeid Taheri Moosavi is a specialist in Public Law and Political Sciences. This article is written for Shafaqna French and translated by Fatemeh Aghaei for Shafaqna English.