Different ordinances

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The truth is one; How then can the different ordinances of four, or, as there were once, twelve schools be true?

The same water functions in five different ways in five ill people of different dispositions. For one, the water is cure for his illness, and according to the science of medicine, necessary. For another, it is like poison for his illness and harmful, and medically forbidden. For the third one, the water is a bit harmful and therefore should be avoided. For the fourth one, the water is beneficial and without harm, and medicine advises it. And for the last one, it is neither harmful nor beneficial; he can drink it with good health, and for him it is medically permissible. Thus, here the truth has become numerous; all five approaches are valid. Can you argue that the water is only a cure, functioning in no other way, so it must be drunk regardless?

So, in a similar way, Divine Wisdom requires that the Divine ordinances of the secondary degree should differ according to the people following them, and this results in the emergence of different schools, all of which are in the right. For example, since, in accordance with Divine Wisdom, the majority of those who follow the School of Imam Shafi‘i are rather closer to village life than the Hanafis, and are somewhat lacking in social life, which makes the community like a single body, each recites the Fatiha behind the prayer-leader so as to unburden himself at the Court of the Dispenser of Needs and utter his private wishes. This is right and pure wisdom. However, the majority of the people living under the Islamic governments having favored the School of Imam Abu Hanifa, are closer to civilization and city life and more inclined to social life. Thus, the community becomes like a single individual and one man may speak on behalf of all; since all affirm and support him with their hearts, and his word becomes the word of all, according to the Hanafi School, the congregation do not recite the Fatiha behind the prayer-leader. This is also right and pure wisdom.

Again, for example, since through forming a barrier against the assaults of man's nature, the Shari‘a modifies it and trains the evil-commanding self, according to the Shafi‘i School, the majority of whose followers are usually villagers and those occupied in manual labor, ablution--the canonical purification--becomes invalid by touching the naked skin of a woman who can lawfully be taken in marriage; also, a small amount of filth on the body or clothes invalidates the canonical purity for worship. While according to the Hanafi School, most of whose followers have entered the social life and become somewhat civilized, neither touching women nor filth less than about three grams invalidates ablution.

Here we shall consider a manual worker and a gentleman. Due to his occupation and the manner of his livelihood, a worker is afflicted with being in near contact with unclean things and mixing with and being together with women who are by law strangers to him. Making use of this opportunity, his nature and evil-commanding self may impel him to transgress the bounds of decency. Therefore, in order to form a barrier against such transgressions and protect him against much dirt, the Shari‘a warns them with a heavenly tune: “You will lose your ritual purity, do not touch the women! Your prayers will be invalid, do not be tainted!” Whereas, in accordance with social custom and in the name of common morality, the Muslim gentleman who remains within the limits of modesty is not burdened with mixing and being together with women who are lawful for him to marry, and in the name of cleanliness of civilization, he refrains from dirt as much as possible. Therefore, in the Hanafi School, the Shari‘a has not shown him the same strictness; rather, it has shown him its permissive side, and lightened it. It says, “If you simply touch her with your hand, it will not invalidate your ablution. And if it is not possible for you to clean the dirt from your body or clothes, any dirt less than three grams of weight is permitted, so you do not have to renew your ablution,” and saves him from scruples on that account.

These are like two drops from the ocean as examples for you. If you can, try to judge in this way the ordinances of the Shari'a according to the criteria discovered by Imam Sha‘rani.

O God! Bestow blessings and peace on him who, on account of being a comprehensive mirror to the manifestations of Your Most Beautiful Names, embodied the lights of Your love for the beauty of Your Attributes and Names,

and, on account of being the most perfect and wonderful of Your creatures, and the sample of the perfections of Your art and the index of the beauties of Your inscriptions, in whose being were focused the rays of Your love for Your inscriptions;

and who, on account of being the most elevated herald of the beauties of Your art, and the one who proclaimed in the loudest voice admiration for the beauty of Your inscriptions, and is the most unique in praising the perfections of Your art, displayed in his being the subtleties of Your love and desire for the appreciation of Your art;

and who, on account of having all good morality through Your favor and all beautiful attributes through Your grace, gathered together in his being the varieties of Your love and appreciation of You for the good morals of Your creatures and the beauties of the attributes of Your creatures;

and who is the most exact criterion and superior standard for all whom You mention in the Qur’an—Your Criterion of Truth and Falsehood--You love from among those who always do good, who are the patient, the believers, the God-fearing, those who turn to You in penitence and submission, and all the classes of those whom You love and have honored with love of You in Your Criterion of Truth and Falsehood, so he became the leader of those who love You and the master of those whom You love;

and bestow blessings and peace on his family and Companions and brethren. Amen, through Your Mercy, O Most Merciful of the Merciful!

 

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