The Importance & Requirement of Collective Reflection in Modern Jurisprudential Issues, By Mufti Wali Hasan Tonki

Compiled By: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani

INTRODUCTION: This short essay by the Grand Mufti of Pakistan, Hazrat Maulana Mufti Wali Hassan Tonki (R.A) is a prelude to an answer regarding insurance taken from his fatwa “Life Insurance”.

Islam: divine guidance and the last divine message

It is our belief that Islam is the last divine message for mankind which is applicable to all spheres of life and provides guidance in every age and every environment. At present, Islam is the only authentic source of divine guidance and interpretation thereof. No further guidance or explanation are to be received for mankind. This divine guidance, i.e., Islam contains solutions for all our problems be they material, spiritual, individual, social, financial, economic, or political.

The Holy Quran has enunciated the basic principles and provided a broad framework which has been elaborated upon by the prophet (S.A.W) through his words and actions and by approving or disapproving the actions of other people brought to his notice. Since this is the last divine guidance, therefore the followers of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) have been permitted to devise new ways and means and frame rules to cater to the new situation arising out of new developments and changing lifestyles. This is the faculty of “Ijtihad”. Leading scholars in every period have spent their lives understanding the Quran and traditions of the holy prophet and in framing laws and rules based on the broad guidelines provided. They have tried to understand the rationale and spirit behind the commandments contained in the Quran and the traditions of the prophet (S.A.W) and applied these to frame laws in respect of matters not directly addressed by the Quran or the prophet.

As a result of the untiring efforts of these noble souls, a sizeable volume of laws and rules came into being. This is what is known on Islamic jurisprudence.

Islamic jurisprudence: A complete solution to the needs of all times

It contains the laws relating to and the solution to most of the current problems. Modern living and industrial revolution have, however, resulted in a new set of problems. In communal affairs, economies and finance there are several problems that require a solution. It is up to the religious scholars now to come up with a solution to these problems in the light of Islamic jurisprudence. In fact, this task should have been performed by the Islamic governments who should have utilized all the resources available to them to constitute an assembly of the leading scholars and jurists of the Muslim world who should have been aided been by experts in the various modern fields. All these people should then have studied the relevant aspects of the Quran, Hadith, and Islamic jurisprudence to formulate correct answers and solutions to the problem being faced today. This would have required a thorough study and understanding of the rationale behind the matters which have already been decided and then applying this knowledge to the current problem where there was a similarity in nature.

An attempt to integrate modernism and atheism into Islam

It is however a tragedy that the present Muslim governments are being manned by persons who, rather than spend the resources of the government for an Islamic renaissance and revival, are wasting them in trying to come up with a new edition of Islam. The single purpose of all their efforts appears to be to annoy the masses and take them hostile to Islam, its real teachings, and laws so that they will follow a secular approach in all spheres of their lives. If there is any set up under the auspices of any of the governments for Islamic research, the idea is to modernize Islam so that Muslim names are misled to believe that these are the real teachings of their religion. To understand the aim of such setups, it would be sufficient to know that they borrow their ideas from the western orientalists whose sole object is that Islam which would not be conquered by the sword should be destroyed by creating doubts and fallacies in the minds of its followers.

Ensuing problems and scholars of Ummah

It was also the responsibility of religious scholars to study these problems and come up with practical solutions. To collectively deliberate on new issues is very much in life with the Islamic way and its spirit. There are several examples of such deliberation in the history of our predecessors. Imam Abu Baker Alrazi Al-Jassas, in his marvelous book “Akhamul Quran,” has in the commentary Ayat 83 of Al Nisa and Ayat 44 of Alnahl discussed the need for deliberating and carrying out research in the matters of Shariah and commented as follows:

فحثنا علی التفکر فیہ و حرضنا علی الاستنباط والتدبر وامرنا بالاعتبار لنتسابق إلی إدراک أحکامہ و ننال درجۃ المستنبطین والعلماء الناظرین (ص ۲۷۷،ج۲)۔

“Allah has persuaded us to deliberate and think; to find out the rulings and ascertain the rationale and spirit behind them; to use our judgment (in a matter whose nature is similar) so that we take the initiative towards finding out what he has ordained for us and those who engage in such deliberations and thinking are categorized as scholars.”

Collective reflection on modern Jurisprudential issues

Noted faqih, Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifah is probably the first among eminent mujahidin who introduced the collective thinking method of coming up with solutions for various issues and problems. He selected a few eminent persons from among his disciples, a majority of whom were considered experts in a particular field or discipline essential for fiqh. For example, Yahya bin Abi Zaida, Hafs bin Ghayas, Qazi Abu Yousuf, Dawood Altai, Habban Mandal were experts in the field of hadith and traditions of the companions of the prophet. Imam Zafar was famous for his expertise in sifting through the information and drawing the right conclusions from it. Qasim bin Maan and Imam Mohammad were considered authorities on literature and the Arabic language. Imam Abu Hanifa formed a committee of these people whose task was to consider and deliberate upon the issues facing the Muslim community. Imam Tahawi has, on the strength of Asad bin Farat, reported that the number of disciples who assisted Imam Abu Hanifa in documenting the Islamic Jurisprudence was 40. In 500 AH when sale with buyback started gaining popularity in Bukhara and adjoining areas, it appeared to be a new phenomenon that partook the characteristics of a normal sale, a defective sale, and a mortgage. The scholars at that time were divided about its permissibility or otherwise. Some of them considered it perfectly legitimate while others did not. Imam Abul Hasan Maturidi was approached by a leading scholar of that period. He advised that since there is a difference of opinion in the matter, it is necessary that the issue is debated and pondered upon by the scholars and a uniform opinion, acceptable to all the scholars and a uniform conveyed to the masses so that they get rid of the confusion. Qazi Samawa has noted in Jam-e-Al fusolain.

قلت للإمام أبی الحسن الماتریدی قد فشی ھذا البیع بین الناس وفیہ مفسدۃ عظیمۃ وفتواک أنہ رھن ، وأنا أیضا علی ذالک ، فالصواب أن تجمع الأئمۃ وتتفق علی ھذا وتظھرہ بین الناس

“I said to Imam Abul Hasan Al Maturidi that sale with buyback is gaining popularity. The problem is that you consider it as a mortgage and I feel the same way too. It will be better if a gathering of all prominent scholars is organized and through their consensus a final decision is conveyed to the people”. The regulatory body of Darul Uloom Nadvatul Ulema deserves to be congratulated that they have recognized an important need of the Muslim community and have formulated or body called “Committee for Research on Shariah” whose objective appears to be to persuade the scholars to debate and ponder upon the present-day problems and express an opinion by consensus for the benefit of the masses. First of the series is a detailed questionnaire on insurance which has been formulated with great intelligence.

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