In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Firstly, one should pay attention to this important principle regarding words and terms!
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said: The basis of Banee Aadam’s misguidance is as a result of ‘General Terms’ and ‘Ambiguous Meanings’ [i.e. terms & meanings which can either be utilised for truth or falsehood when not explained in detail and distinguished], especially if they come in contact with a confused mind, then how about when [evil] desires and misguided enthusiasm is added to that? Therefore, ask the One Who keeps the hearts steadfast [i.e. Allaah] to keep your heart firm upon His Religion and not allow you to fall into this darkness. [Ref 1]
The basis of a person’s Islaam is to testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad [sallal-laahu-alayhi- wasallam] is the Messenger of Allaah, to believe in Allaah, declare that Allaah is One without partner, obey Allaah’s commands, keep away from what Allaah has forbidden and single out Allaah in worship. And safeguarding this path [necessitates] the prohibition of every expression [term or word] that contains Shirk Billaah [i.e. ascribing partners to Allaah] or Kufr, or will lead to one of the two. [Ref 2] In the Qur’aan, there are many words that are utilised to rebut the words [or terms] that are in opposition to the call of the Messengers, the revelation that was revealed to them and the truth they brought. [Ref 3]
One of the general fundamental principles [in Islaam] is to know that words [or terms] are two types: Words that are mentioned in the Qur’aan and [authentic] Sunnah, therefore, it is obligated on every believer to affirm them – affirm what Allaah and His Messenger have affirmed, and negate what Allaah and His Messenger have negated. The words [or terms] affirmed by Allaah is truth and the ones Allaah negated are [negated] in truth, for indeed Allaah speaks the truth and guides to the straight path. The words [or terms] of the Sharee’ah are sanctified, and it is from perfection in knowledge that one seeks after the [sound meanings] which the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasalam] intended by them, in order to affirm what he affirmed and negate the meanings he negated; for indeed it is obligated on us to believe and bear witness to everything he has stated and follow him in everything he has commanded. As for the words [or terms] that are neither found in the Qur’am and [authentic] Sunnah, nor did the Salaf hold a consensus regarding whether they are negated or affirmed, then it is not incumbent on anyone to agree with the one who negates them or affirms them until its intended meaning is explained. So, if its intended meaning agrees with the [revelation, commands, prohibitions etc] conveyed by the Messenger, it is affirmed; but if its intended meaning is in opposition to the [revelation, commands, prohibitions etc] conveyed by the Messenger, it is rejected. [Ref 4]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim said, “It is obligated on you to give detail and make a distinction, because unrestricted and general [statements] without clarification has indeed corrupted this existence [i.e. the world], and misguided the intellects and views [of the people] in every era”. Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan said, “There has to be detail explanation. The one who is not proficient in giving detail should keep quiet, because benefit is not acquired from his speech. And every time error occurs, its cause is due to an absence of detail explanation regarding truth and falsehood. There has to be detail explanation and distinction and not to mix up [affairs]. Indeed, it may be that there is something of truth and falsehood in an opponent’s statement, so all of it is neither deemed to be false nor truth; rather there has to be a distinction between its truth and falsehood. All of it is neither rejected nor accepted; rather a distinction is made regarding the truth and what is correct and the falsehood and error in it. And if you are not proficient in giving detail, then you should not enter into this field”. [Ref 5]
Secondly, what is Pragmatism? It is defined as “the quality of dealing with a problem in a sensible way that suits the conditions that really exist, rather than following fixed theories, ideas or rules”.
Indeed, the above definition can be utilised for truth and falsehood, because if the words ‘sensible’, ‘ideas’ and ‘rules’ are not confined within the commands of Allaah [The Exalted] and His Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him], then definitely whatever is pursued in their name will cause harm. Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “And even though there is something in the paths of analogical reasoning and reflection that will lead to knowledge, however sometimes it cannot give detail explanation in a dispute between the people of the earth due to the minute details and ambiguities [in that dispute], and at other times due to the fact the people differ when prioritising necessities. Therefore, due to this Allaah [The Most High] commanded [us] to return to the revelation in times of dispute. Allaah [The Most High] said: [ كَانَ ٱلنَّاسُ أُمَّةً۬ وَٲحِدَةً۬ فَبَعَثَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ لِيَحۡكُمَ بَيۡنَ ٱلنَّاسِ فِيمَا ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِۚ -Mankind were one community (i.e. upon Tawheed and Allaah’s Sharee’ah) and Allah sent Prophets with glad tidings and warnings, and with them He sent the Scripture in truth to judge between people in matters wherein they differed]. [Surah Al-Baqarah’ Aayah 213] Therefore, Allaah [The Most High] designated the revealed Books [i.e. the Qur’aan being the final of them] as the judge between the people in matters wherein they differ”. [Ref 6]
Shaikh Abdur Razzaaq Al-Badr [may Allaah preserve him] said, “If you say that the intellect is to be given precedence over the revelation, then which intellect should we follow? Are the intellects of the people combined in the intellect of one man or do they differ? There are intellects of the philosophers, the atheists, the heretics, the people of evil desires and those who confound truth with falsehood; and due to this one of the pious predecessors said, ‘Had the desires been one, it would have been considered to be the [basis of] truth’; therefore, we say, ‘Had the intellects been one, it would have been considered to be the [basis of] truth’”. [Ref 7]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Everyone with a bit of [uncorrupted] intellect knows that indeed the corruption of the world and its ruin occurs due to giving precedence to opinion over the divine revelation and [evil] desires over sound intellect. These two corrupt motives [or basis] are neither entrenched in a heart, except that its destruction becomes inevitable, nor in a nation, except that its affairs are completely corrupted”. [Ref 8]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] also said, “It has been stated that the reason behind Iblees being distanced [from the mercy of Allaah] is because of false interpretation, for indeed he made an analogy with the text and gave precedence to the analogy over the text. He made a false interpretation about himself and that [his so called] rational analogy takes precedence over the command to prostrate. [Allaah informed us that Iblees said]: [أنا خير منه – I am better than him [i.e. Aadam], and that a virtuous one cannot humble himself to one who has been given virtue over him; therefore he quickly said [as Allaah informed us that Iblees said]: [خلقتني من نار وخلقته من طين – You created me from fire, and him you created from clay]. Therefore, he thought that this rational analogy that resembles truth- even though it is false – will benefit him in his false interpretation. So, that which happened him happened and he became the leader of everyone- until the day of judgement- who makes a false interpretation of the texts of the revelation. How many a person in this world are followers of this cursed leader! And if you contemplate on the majority of those doubts that are made to resemble the truth by the false interpreters of the texts and seeking to nullify them, you will find that it is similar to the doubts of Iblees which he seeks to portray as truth. So, a person says: If the intellect and the text oppose each other, then give precedence to the intellect. This is where this principle is derived from and he [i.e. the proponent of this affair] use it as a fundamental principle through which he rejects those texts of the revelation which he claims are in opposition to the intellect, just as his leader Iblees claimed that a [so called] rational proof opposed the command to make sujood. This doubt came to him due to pride which prevented him from submitting to the clear texts of the revelation. Likewise, you find every false disputer against the texts of the revelation does so due to pride. Allaah [The Exalted] said: [إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُجَادِلُونَ فِي آيَاتِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ سُلْطَانٍ أَتَاهُمْ ۙ إِن فِي صُدُورِهِمْ إِلَّا كِبْرٌ مَّا هُم بِبَالِغِيهِ ۚ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ – Verily, those who dispute about the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, without any authority having come to them, there is nothing else in their breasts except pride [to accept you (Muhammad ) as a Messenger of Allah and to obey you]. They will never have it (i.e. Prophethood which Allah has bestowed upon you). So seek refuge in Allah (O Muhammad from the arrogants). Verily, it is He Who is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer]. [Surah Ghaafir. Aayah 56] [Ref 9]
Thirdly, the infallible Sharee’ah of Allaah is the only perfect judge and the source of all perfect virtue. Imaam Ash’Shaatibee [rahimahullaah] said, “Know that Allaah has established this sharee’ah as a proof against the creation [i.e. mankind and jinn] – the old and young alike; the obedient and the disobedient; the righteous and the wicked. He did not specify the proof against anyone in exclusion of another one. Also all the other revealed laws were established as proof against all the other nations to whom they were revealed. The Sharee’ah is the judge- restrictedly and unrestrictedly; the [source of judgement] and the judge on all those who have reached the age of responsibility. It is the path attached to [what Allaah has ordained] and the Greatest Guide. And have you not seen the statement of Allaah [The Most High]?! [وَكَذَٲلِكَ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ رُوحً۬ا مِّنۡ أَمۡرِنَاۚ مَا كُنتَ تَدۡرِى مَا ٱلۡكِتَـٰبُ وَلَا ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنُ وَلَـٰكِن جَعَلۡنَـٰهُ نُورً۬ا نَّہۡدِى بِهِۦ مَن نَّشَآءُ مِنۡ عِبَادِنَاۚ وَإِنَّكَ لَتَہۡدِىٓ إِلَىٰ صِرَٲطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ۬ – And thus We have sent to you (O Muhammad) Ruhan (an Inspiration, and a Mercy) of Our Command. You knew not what is the Book, nor what is Faith? But We have made it (this Qur’an) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will. And verily, you (O Muhammad) are indeed guiding (mankind) to the Straight Path (i.e. Allah’s religion of Islamic Monotheism)].’’ [Soorah Ash-Shooraa. Ayah: 52]
He [alayhis salaatu wassalaam] was the first to be guided to the Book and Eemaan, and then those who followed him. The Book is the Guide and also the Sunnah which was sent down upon him explains that guidance [i.e. the Sunnah and the Qur’aan explain each other]. All the creation [i.e. mankind and Jinn] are guided by it. Therefore, when this is the case, the Sharee’ah is worthy of being a decisive proof against them [i.e. against mankind and Jinn] and a beacon by way of which they are guided to the truth. Their nobility is established in accordance with how far they embrace its rulings- through acting upon them in speech, belief and deeds– and not merely due to the level of their intellects or their nobility amongst their people. That is because Allaah [The Most High] has determined nobility through Taqwa and no other than it. Allaah [The Most High] said: [إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡۚ- Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa] [49:13]
The one who is the firmest [in his or her] adherence to the Sharee’ah is more worthy of honour and nobility, but it is not possible for the one below this [i.e. the one whose adherence to the Sharee’ah is below that of the one who is firmest in adhering to it] to reach the highest level of honour based on his adherence to the Sharee’ah. Therefore, honour is [measured] in accordance with one’s [level of adherence] to the Sharee’ah”. [Ref 10]
Therefore, it should be absolutely clear to every believer that pragmatism outside the Sharee’ah is unsound.
Fourthly, when there is no explicit text regarding a matter or we are faced with new situations for which there is no explicit text, the upright scholars perform Ijtihaad. Amr bin Al-Aas [radiyallaahu anhu] narrated that he heard Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] saying, ‘’If a Mujtahid gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is correct, he will receive a double reward, and if he gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is wrong, even then he will get a reward.’’ [Bukhari Number 7352]
Few Masaa’il From This Hadeeth
[a] A Mujtahid is not deprived of reward. [b] The judgement of a non-Mujtahid is different from that of a Mujtahid. Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [rahimahullaah] said that the one who speaks about the religion without knowledge and out of ignorance [is guilty of] lying and sinning. The one who intentionally speaks to oppose the truth is threatened with entry into the fire of hell, as opposed to the affair of the one who speaks based on permissible Ijtihaad, for indeed he strives, fears Allaah as much as he is able, desires to seek knowledge as much as he was able, speaks for the sake of Allaah, knows the stronger proof and speaks based on that. This person is given two rewards if he is correct; but if he is mistaken, he receives one reward. [c] A Mujtahid can be correct or mistaken. [Ref 11]
Shaikh Rabee Bin Haadee [hafidha-hullaah] said: ”We do not say that there are people of ijtihaad amongst ahlul bidah because they are followers of desires, and Allaah and His Messenger have testified to this. The misguided innovator stirs up discord and errs, and then says to you, ‘This is ijtihaad’. When Hikmatiyaar and the misguided parties [in Afghanistan] murdered Shaikh Jameel Ur-Rahmaan, they said: ‘This is ijtihaad.’ They [ahlul bidah] do not fall into an affair of misguidance or a calamity except that they say, “This is ijtihaad.” This is [tantamount] to diluting Islaam, falsehood, misguidance, bidah and confounding truth with falsehood, when the mistakes of the [true and qualified scholars of ijtihaad]- for which they are rewarded- are placed at the same level with innovation, about which the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] declared to be destined for the hell fire. [Ref 12]
Finally: A very important article and must read by Shaikh Abu Khadeejah [hafidhahullaah]:
Issues which arise after the time of Revelation for which there is no specific text: Al-Masālih Al-Mursalah and how Islam is applicable in every age.
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from ‘As-Sawaa’iq Al-Mursalah Alal Jahmiyyah Wal Mu’attilah’ – Vol 3. page 927. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: Excerpt from ‘Mu’jam Al-Manaahee Lil Laf’dhiyyah’ page 34. slightly paraphrased. Publisher: Daar Al-Aasimah. 3rd edition 1996]
[Ref 3: Excerpt from Mu’jam Al-Manaahee Lil Lafdhiyyah’ page 10. slightly paraphrased. Publisher: Daar Al-Aasimah. 3rd edition 1996]
[Ref 4: Excerpt from ‘Al-Haqeeqatus Shar’iyyah Fee Tafseeril Qur’aan Al-A’dheem Was-Sunnatin Nabawiyyah’ page 17. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 5: An Excerpt from At-Ta-leeqaat Al-Mukhtasar Alaa Al-Qaseedah an-Nooniyyah: Vol: 1 page: 216. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 6. Dar Ta’aarud Al-Aql Wan-Naql: 9/17-18];
[Ref 7. Muqaddimah Fee Diraasah At-Tawheed’ by Shaikh Abdur-Razzaaq Al-Badr (may Allaah preserve him) Lesson: 3]
Ref 8: A’laam Al-Muwaqqi’een 1/67-69]
[Ref 9: An Excerpt from ‘As-Sawaa’iq Al-Mursalah 1/371-372’. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 10: Al-Itisaam 3/434 slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 11: Al-Arba’oona Hadeethaa Fee Usoolil Fiqh. pages 32-33. slightly paraphrased];
[Ref 12: An Excerpt from ‘Ajwibatul Allaamatush Shaikh Rabee Bin Haadee Al Madkhalee Alaa As-ilah Abee Rawaaha Al-Manhajiyyah page: 20];