As we discussed in the last post, the method of legislation was primarily through the questioning of the Companions radhiAllah anhum to which Allah revealed verses to answer their inquiries or the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam answered them.
Its important to make clear here that the Prophet sallalalahu alayhi wasalam did not speak from his own desires; meaning, that which he answered was a type of revelation and not just from his whims and desires. This is proven in the statement of Allah:
وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى
Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired [ Surah Najm V.3,4]
The Basis of Legislation
The Qur’an was revealed to reform the human conditions of the Arabian Peninusla and ultimately the entire world. Thus, when Islam came it rejected all the evil which was present in the society and accepted all the good. Hence, we see that when Islam came it removed everything which was harmful to society as a whole; for example: fornication, riba (interest), alcohol, etc.
يَأْمُرُهُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَآئِثَ
Who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil [Surah A’raaf V.157]
And so the legislation found in the Qur’an and Sunnah are just enjoining that which is good and forbidding what is wrong for entire societies and individuals. This was the reformation that Allah and His Messenger sallalahu alayhi wasalam were calling for and to do this laws had to be enacted.
The basis of Qur’anic revelations lies in four basic principles:
1) The Removal of Difficulty
The system of Islam was revealed for the benefit of man and society. Thus, Allah revealed this system to remove many of the unneccessary difficulties that plagued the societies then and now.
يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship [Surah Baqarah V.185]
وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ
He has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty [Surah Hajj V. 78]
2) The Removal of Religious Obligations
Following up from the first point; if Allah wants to make things easy for us, a natural consequence is then a limited amount of religious obligations. Its funny, many us have this notion that there is so much that Allah has forbidden and very little that He has allowed. This is a very false notion once you look into it a bit deeper. In the Qur’an when Allah prohibits, He prohibits specifically, naming and listing the cases because of how few they are in number. However, in the case of permissions, He gives permission generally because of huge amount of thins which have been made permissible for us.
For example, Allah says:
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالْدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ
Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah , and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns… [Surah Maa’idah V.3]
The prohibitions are listed. However, in the case of permissions, Allah says:
الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَّكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلُّ لَّهُمْ
This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them… [Surah Maa’idah V.5]
As we mentioned already, laws are general in nature and thus do not contain maany details and specifications. This is to place ease for the people and to remove the difficulty. This principle is shown in the following statement of Allah azza wa jal:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَسْأَلُواْ عَنْ أَشْيَاء إِن تُبْدَ لَكُمْ تَسُؤْكُمْ وَإِن تَسْأَلُواْ عَنْهَا حِينَ يُنَزَّلُ الْقُرْآنُ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ عَفَا اللّهُ عَنْهَا وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ
O you who believe! Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if you ask about them while the Quran is being revealed, they will be made plain to you. Allah has forgiven that, and Allah is OftForgiving, Most Forbearing [Surah Maa’idah V. 104]
We see that Allah has made certain things plain and general for ease. However, we have people who like to go deeper into the generalities and make things difficult upon themselves. One of these incidents is found in the seerah of the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam when a few companions kept questioning him about whether Hajj was cumpulsory every year. He, sallalahu alayhi wasalam, said:
“If I said yes, it would have have become compulsory. Leave me alone concerning things which I have left upto you, for certainly those before you were destroed because of their many unncessary questions and their arguments and disagreements with their prophets.” [Sahih Muslim]
And so we come to know from the above that Allah legislated laws to remove unneccessary difficulties from society and this also meant difficulties in relation to religious duties.
The 3rd and 4th principle will be discussed in part 5.