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Precedent & Argument, Demanding an Argument is Permissible, but not a Precedent, By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi

Answer To Modernism: Difference between Precedent & Argument

Translated By: Professor Muhammad Hasan Askari & Karrar Husain
Compiled By: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani

Answer To Modernism

Sixth Principle

6) There is some difference between a precedent and an argument. It may be justifiable to demand an argument from the man who makes an assertion, but it is not valid to demand a precedent from him.


Let us suppose that a man asserts that King George V held his coronation at Delhi. Now, another man comes and says, “We shall accept this statement as true only when you cite a precedent to show that an English king has done it before, but if you fail to provide such a precedent, we shall consider the event to be unreal”. Would it, in this case, be obligatory for the man who makes the assertion to cite a precedent, or would it not be quite sufficient for him to say, “we do not possess any precedent for this event, but we do have a sound argument, since we have heard about it from people who observed it for themselves? But if he can cite no observer, it would be sufficient to say that it has been published in the newspapers. Once this argument has been presented, would it really be necessary to wait for a precedent in order to accept the event as real?

It is not permissible to demand for the precedent of speaking with hands and feet on the Day of Judgment

Similarly, if a man assets that human hands and feet will speak on the Day of Judgment, no one can have the right to demand a precedent from him, nor can anyone justifiably refute them merely on the ground that he has failed to cite a precedent. Of course it is obligatory for him to put forward an argument in support of his contention. But since his contention can be established only on the basis of a pure report, it would be more than sufficient for him to argue as follows, according to Principle No. 5, since there is no rational argument to prove that this fact is impossible, and a truthful reporter has reported to us that it will actually happen, so it is rationally necessary to affirm its existence and its actuality.

However, if he provides a precedent as well, it will be a concession on his part, and an act of generosity. For instance, he may cite the gramophone as a precedent to show that even a lifeless object can produce sounds and words. What a pity that today people with a Western education demand a precedent for everything that has been reported by the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith! They should try to understand that this is a case of considering what is unnecessary as necessary.

SOURCE: Answer to modernism, By Maulana Asharaf Ali Thanvi

Answer to Modernism: To read the Seventh Principle Click on the link below:

Posted in Answer to Modernism, Contemporary studies, Culture & Ideology, Various Islamic studies

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